Category Archives: Meta/Logistics

quick note

In the process of transferring hosts, so if things get a little goofy/down/whatnot, that’s why. If there’s a blip it should be rectified in short order.

The Generalist’s Hat

(if the meaning of the title of this post is unclear, read this story by Kelly Link. Nothing to do with the post at all, but still worth absolutely reading!)

Speaking of unclear, the way that my interests wax and wane has never been something I’ve been able to pin down. They rotate–usually for a period of 3 weeks or so I’m intensely interested in a subject than I meander off to something else. Occasionally a new interest will enter the rotation, and occasionally an old one will be retired.

And of course I am (well, more or less) able to subsume this drift when, say, working on a novel, or revising something on a deadline.

But it is a denial of my desire, absolutely.

But when I have been working on a project for 3 weeks or so–say, working on a long poem–I see something else on the edge of my sight. It’s a little glimmer of hunger for a Something Else. Say, teasing out an essay on spiritual poetics. Sure, they’re related. But in terms of actual practice, there is an actual shift and flurry of activity.

This is why my bedstand is literally and figurative a mess with books. I pursue new books, but definitely perform a ‘catch and release’ policy. My only hope, if I am unable to finish a book in those 3 or so weeks, is to catch up with it during my next cycle with the passion in question. This of course is in itself problematic, since it’s difficult to jump into the middle of a hazily remembered book.

This cycle is what I know. It’s who I am. It’s life for me. I’ve pretty much learned to accept it, but there are times when I’m feeling more ambitious that I wonder–am I doing something wrong? Why the hell can’t I focus on just one thing? I am able to finish projects such as novels much of time, but it’s not easy. (Yeah, it never is…but it’s difficult when I feel the urge to, I don’t know, develop a role playing system in the midst of the third to last chapter. Problematic.)

It also doesn’t really make for a really nice, laser-focused blog, you know?

There is also another way of looking at it, that these different projects and interests are all part of a Great Work, representative of different chapters of the Work of My Life (without getting too grandiose), different rooms in the memory palace which my thoughts and emotions call home. They are oftentimes unruly, competitive houseguests, but more or less they get along, I would like to think.

And no one gets voted out of the house.

A Noble Compromise

Well, as this blog whips up into shape again, it’s been an interesting experience reassembling it. For one, I actually managed to add my Twitter feed to my blog here. For the last month or so I have been posting the equivalent of “weird minute details” to the Twitter…and there always seemed to be a threshold/cutoff of whether a thought should be translated into a blog box or twitter box. And it has definitely been an interesting experience, as a writer, to work within the constraints of the twitter box. In fact it’s been helpful as an editorial tool. (It would be interesting as a pedagogical tool for a poetry workshop, for a student to keep a Twitter-journal though the course of a class.) So, really, the best of both worlds to have the Twitter feed here–although there is indeed something to be loved about posting bits and flotsam onto the blog as well. God knows this place is full of it!

I’ve finally upgraded my wordpress! So please excuse the mess as I get things into shape.

(the rss feed–except for bloglines–still doesn’t seem to work…phhhtt)


So when I first started this blog more than 6 years ago, the idea of blogging seemed very strange, so I put the form through its paces with a kind of meta-blog sideshow with two fictional roomates, Evening and Quail. It was…rather strange. Oh, and there was an AI created from a VIC-20, I think (?!?) called Hypergolem. Good times. There was a running theme of government website “kids pages” and the strange, strange mascots therein. The pallette widened after a few months but I’ll always look on those first few months fondly, though upon further reflection, you might read those posts (categorized to the right) and think of it pure amateur hour. Which it was. Still is!

Anyway, I’ve started Twittering and I feel myself on much of that same precipice. I am just poking at it at this point. There are possibilities, there, but I don’t quite know what they are. I find the “What are you doing now?” above my little text-technology box immensely bewildering — although I’m not adverse to first person minutiae per se, it seems like it’s like putting a Mini Cooper on a go-cart track. Why? Why not crash through the gates? Which, it seems, plenty of people are doing anyway (if anyone comes across any second-person Twittering, please let me know!).

Anyway, amateur hour will be on tap there as well. It’s not exactly going to be a consistent array of factoids, by any means!

logistical interruption

Sorry that I’m throwing myself at the mercy of everyone, but I’m having a bit of trouble with my RSS feed; it seems to work ok in Bloglines and Google Reader, but not in other applications (I’m trying to get the feed to work with Twitter, so that Twitter gets pinged with the URL whenever I post). The Twitterfeed application doesn’t seem to recognize the feed, and indeed, when I click on the feed listed on the right-hand column, it shows up as a blank document. BUT it seems to be working ok in the aforementioned Bloglines, etc. So what gives? (I have a really old version of WordPress, which might be the culprit; everytime I try to figure out how to upgrade, I become stymied!)

Riveting stuff, I know.

Twitter is one of those applications which I haven’t quite wrapped my head around, in terms of its life utility. But I will have a gander at it.


Just like laughing at one’s jokes, is it bad form to laugh at one’s blog? I was combing through the archives, looking for aphorisms/epigraphs, and came across this post. It feels like it was written 10 years ago but it was less than 3! I forget the original context–something about young writers who made pro sales, whatever–but I was reading the comments and thinking, wow, a lot of comments on here by people I don’t know! Then I remembered: oh, right, I wrote 85 percent of the comments on this post under pseudonyms (bonus trivia: see if you can discern who wasn’t a sock puppet on here…shouldn’t be that hard).

Good times, 2005, good times.


I’m still having a devil of a time with the commenting features of this blog. Sorry about that. After the Great Purge (see below), I’m trying to turn commenting and it’s just…not…working. I guess this is a sign that the blog needs an overhaul from WordPress 1.5, huh?

3800 to 0

3800 comment spam down to 0. I’m sure this is fascinating. I don’t think it’s a permanent solution, so I’ll figure out…something.

In other news, my really long review of the anthology The New Space Opera is up online at Rain Taxi. It’s…well, read the review.

Feel free to comment!!

A Link and an Announcement

My favorite new blog is Creepy, Abandoned Chi-Chis. Because Chi-Chis was always creepy even when it was a thriving, pre-viral outbreak business–but now? Abandoned in strip malls? Ultra creepy. With the photographic evidence to prove it.

Also, this blog is 5 years old.

time travels

Greetings from 2007! I kind of feel like a time traveler–it will take a month or so to really feel home in 2007. A good visit to Erie last week–some familial chaos, but on the whole good. Spent a wonderful New Year’s with Mr. Barzak & Co. where I forgot, until this moment, that we actually played Mafia that night! Then a fun reading in Cleveland with the aforementioned Mr. Barzak.

Erie a bit more downtrodden; Youngstown on the upswing. Hopefully Erie will take a few lessons from Youngstown. Saw the bumper sticker “Believe in Erie“, which seemed much more of a faith-based hope-and-prayer than Defend Youngstown, which to me seems more based on material realities, hammer in hand.

After a mild stretch, the cold has set into the Twin Cities, and I’m almost welcoming it, as much as it sucks.

It’s been hard to blog of late. Not sure exactly why. I’ve been blogging (i.e., noticing) things in my head that seem to be formulated in blockquote-formed thoughts, but can one have a weblog without a web and a log? “I forget; therefore I blog.” I’ve been productive, more or less, with the fiction the last month; there has been production, but the novel is still pretty nascent and diffuse at this point.

Anyway, my tardiness w. correspondences of late have been a cross between a tree sloth and a dead snail, but I’m slowly playing catchup. Onward…

WordPress question: Dummies Edition

So I’m sorry I’m having to post this on the blog, but I really don’t know what the hell I’m doing. I approve comments and delete my spam by hand (if you’re authenticated once, then you’re good to go afterwards) but needless to say, this is getting old. And we’re going out of town this weekend and don’t want any comments being hung up in limbo. I tried to install a plug-in that would give a little question to the user to answer as authetication, and I activated it, but it still doesn’t seem to be working. Am I doing anything wrong? Help me, WordPress gurus!

Otherwise, see you Tuesday.

Update: OK, I think I figured it out. I know this is mighty exciting.

myspace vs. friendster

This is a brilliant, brilliant essay by Danah Boyd about Friendster vs. MySpace, and about burgeoning “super publics”:

Online communities are more like nation-states than technological tools. There is a master behind the architecture, a master who controls the walls of the system and can wage war on her/his people at any point. People know this. They have to trust that the creators have their best intentions in mind. They invest a lot of time and energy into creating an identity in the system – they want to believe that it is worth it.


Portability of identity doesn’t matter. Easy-to-use interfaces don’t matter. Visual coherence doesn’t matter. Simple navigation doesn’t matter. Bugs don’t matter. Fancy new technologies don’t matter. Simple personalization doesn’t matter.

Before you scream “but it does to me!” let me acknowledge that you’re right. It does matter to you. The question is whether it matters to the masses. And it doesn’t. Especially for teens.


“Coolness” is about structural barriers, about the lack of universal accessibility or parsability. Structural hurdles mean people put in more effort to participate. It’s kinda like the adventure of tracking down the right parking lot to get the bus to go to the rave. The effort matters. Sure, it weeds some people out, but it makes those who participate feel all the more validated. Finding the easter egg, the cool little feature that no one knows about is exciting. Learning all of the nooks and crannies in a complex system is exhilarating. Figuring out how to hack things, having the “inside knowledge” is fabu.

Often, people don’t need simplicity – they want to feel proud of themselves for figuring something out; they want to feel the joy of exploration. This is the difference between tasks that people are required to do and social life. Social life isn’t about the easy way to do something – it’s about making meaning out of practice, about finding your own way.

Bugs make technologies seem alive, particularly if they’re acknowledged and fixed. They give texture to the environment and people are impressively patient with it if they feel like the architects are on it. It makes the architects look vulnerable which brings them back down to earth, making them real and fallible, but giving them the opportunity to do good. They let the benevolent dictator really serve the people.

papyrus vs. stone tablet vs. vellum

I’m sure others have discussed this at greater length and with greater clarity elsewhere, but I’ve been struck–and also confounded–by how many online media there are out there. Even on a casual/end-user basis.

Does the proliferation of these have an accumulative effect if I use them all? I only have so much energy in the day, and I have data/words/whatever to get out there–but how much energy is expended in actually deciding whether to use myspace vs. a wiki vs. a blog? (And by the way, is Friendster RIP 2002?)

E.g., I think, now, that Taverner’s Koans would be best served as a wiki, rather than the (rather obscure) content-management system that I ended up using. But I feel a little like, unless I suddenly get gobs of free time, that I won’t be able to port it to a wiki for awhile.

In a related impulse, I’m starting up a barebones wiki for Rabid Transit, which will be a clearinghouse for information about past contributors, and will be a space for the contributors themselves to add info, links to other stories of theirs online, etc. I hope that gets off the ground and goes well; it’ll definitely be an experiment–and hopefully a way to keep giving “added value” to our writers (who we love and think are brilliant and want to do well!). I wanted to do this originally in straight HTML. But that would have been crazy.

Also, I’m kind of using my own blog as the “home page” for the story collection. I think this is both good and bad. But I also don’t think there’s a neat, one size fits all solution.

Anyway, these are just random examples from my own experience and aren’t meant to be definitive. As writers, we have more choices than ever as to what we inscribe upon, and those choices will have lasting impact on what we actually write.

spammed out

After 8 years, the spam has gotten so bad on my Yahoo/Rocketmail account that I can no longer see the ship on account of all the barnacles. My new email address is, though I’ll be checking my Rocketmail account regularly for some time.

I Conform

I finally got a livejournal account, goblinmerc. IT’S LAME (not the account, but my “livejournal”).


Does anyone know whether I can use the name of my livejournal feed for this blog (goblin_exchange) as a username? Just for posting comments on other people’s journals. I’m tired of being an anonymous troll! Or can someone donate a username to me? Is that how that works? Does this thing turn on? Where am I?!?

Weblogging and Criticism

Mumpsimus has a revealing post here about the perils of bad (or bland) reviewing. Broadening it out from his specific points, I’ve actually been thinking about how rigor–or lack thereof–relates to blogs, and the formal constraints of the blog, whether specifically in regards to a “criticism” blog or no. Specificity matters, but the blog–perhaps because of its dailiness?–also lends itself to the off-handed, the ephemeral, and the aphoristic. What’s still an open book (so to speak) is the myriad ways that the diary aspects intersect with more conventional criticism. Gold-standard blogs like Pseudopodium or Hotel Point have created their own aesthetics–aesthetic choices which are directly tied to the personalities behind them. At the same time, they have the contextual chops as well to back it all up. It’s always a balancing act. The blog at its best, can be both a critical receptacle and link repository, pointing outward and inward at the same time. And, speaking for myself, I need to remind myself that when I’m on the verge of sloppy thinking, to feel free to pass the baton to someone else on a particular subject. What matters is both writing and linking what you’re passionate about; and, at the same time (and this is where Matt’s critique rightly comes into play), pushing the language so it’s more than goldfish floating around in a bowl of codeine.

The good news, at least when it comes to science fiction, is that because of the sheer laziness of many of its “critics,” there is a ton of unexplored territory, i.e., the complicated relationships between fandom, real science, “popular mechanics” science, turn-of-the-century romanticism, modernism. You know, the small stuff–especially as it impinges (if at all?) on particular stories.

And, I have to say, I’m very very passionate about using my “blockquote” tag on my blog, because my template makes those really elegant quotation marks. I’m addicted to them! –Alan DeNiro

“Retreating to a Not Very Safe Distance”

I remember Stephanie, years (!) ago noting that one of the prime reasons she kept writing blog entries was to push down the older ones; that they don’t seem nearly as interesting as when you first wrote them. Which, of course, happens with my stories and poems all the time–they, however, are not on public display. So The Entries become both expansions of verbiage as much as openings.

Anyway, I’m still trying to understand the schisms in my head between writing speculative fiction and poetry, and why I’d shift towards one, at certain times, as opposed to the other, at other certain times. And how the differences in writing practice came about, even though a lot of the same things that interested me in both are the same. A lot of this year has been spent trying–in practice if not in theory–to find a “Grand Unified Theory” between the two, writing towards a unifying point that incorporates both. Whether it was “successful” or not, well, the book’s still out on that. But it was a good year writing-wise, even though I doubt much of that writing will see the light of day.

I fear that a lot of it is unreadable, unusable, but at the same time…it wasn’t necessarily a bad recursive feedback loop to be on. For a while. It’s good fodder (which means “food” even though I’ve always thought it meant “material to plant stuff in, i.e. potting soil”). I go through those scattered notebooks and phrases pop out at me. Even stuff that appears in my long poem can be recalibrated later, given a cosmology. Speculative fiction is nothing if not expanding tiny phrases of strangeness into entire worlds. E.g., a line in one of my poems saying a “shetland tiger”; this tiger doesn’t “exist” in the poem; in fact, it’s a metaphor for a mouth (?)…and the poem rushes on. And I really don’t feel like writing a “story with line breaks” poem about such a thing.

But what happens when characters (imaginary people, not letters) walk through those words? What happens when they pet the tiger? They notice things about the words that you don’t, necessarily. This noticing, through their actions, might be as good of a definition of narrative–as opposed to plot–as any.

And yet at the same time, the characters are intimately you. And so, that might be the fodder–the continual interplay of You/Not-You. It helps to write about things that scare you, that move you (why am I entering second person here? I’m not trying to be perscriptive here! Bear with me.) and, more importantly, scare the living fuck out of parts of yourself that you don’t understand. Not-You, which you’ve been living with all of your life, has a lot of things to say. And the speculative breath acting as a mediator between what you understand and what you don’t, but need to write about anyway. (Another way to put this, paraphrasing Ben here, to krush and be krushed…c.f. Hal Duncan’s blog, where the title of this entry also comes from).

“Never did eye see the sun unless it had first become sunlike,” Plotinus said. Although this sounds cool on general principle–just how is a damaged cornea sunlike? Or is the sun little more than a damaged cornea?