Half a year? Seriously? It’s taken me that long to write another entry? You know, for a guy claiming “prolific” in his bio, that’s an awfully long time to go without updating a website journal. I must have been ridiculously busy, or traveling as a carny named “Shepples” to hide from the law. Let me check my memory banks here. Okay… yeah… no, I was just busy. No Shepples. Here’s what I’ve been up to:
Moving to Portland, OR- “What,” you ask, “Salem wasn’t good enough for you?” No, it wasn’t. A city composed almost solely of strip malls, jails, mental institutions, and cookie-cutter suburbs is not good for anyone. Okay, so LeGuin wrote about it as idyllic, but that was a long time ago, and you’ll notice, she moved. To Portland.
I followed her lead, and I’m enjoying the honeymoon phase with my new home. It’s rainy here, gloriously rainy, which means I don’t have to be confronted by the giant nuclear explosion in space that many refer to as “The Sun.” I’m living in a cool, old three-story house and the roommates keep me in the attic. I ask them to send up cakes. They do not respond.
There are a lot of bookstores here, and you can drink beer in the theaters, and the young people don’t look so much like they’re dying from meth. Here, they’re dying from being hip i.e. Walking in front a mass transit bus which they did not see (because their shaggy, black, and purposefully unkempt hair and tattered copy of Tropic of Cancer kept them unaware). Not that I’m immune to hipsteritis. I’ve started wearing more black t-shirts. I tell myself it’s to slim the burgeoning belly created by drinking beer in theaters, but that’s probably a lie. I’m really hoping that Suicide Girls will hit on me.
And here’s a shout out to the nice lady at New Beijing. Thanks for making the General Tso’s just right.
Going to the Burn- Burning Man ’04, The Vault of Heaven. I’ll have pictures up soon, I swear. Burning Man melted my brain. I’ve tried, often, to convey the experience in words, but they tend to pale. And I’m not short of the damn words, here. This was the most fun I’ve ever had in a totally barren desert environment that humans should be smart enough to stay away from. A genuinely other-worldly experience. Where else can you molest a Theremin-alien, bike ride through a twelve-story dust storm, hear an aria, get a lesson in astronomy, play a tiny wooden flute inside a giant domicile made of white balloons, and reconfigure space-time and the consequences of death through the yellow fluid-miasma of existence, all in under two hours? Okay, that last one may not have actually happened, but it felt pretty real at the time.
And here’s a shout out to all the Burners. Especially the guy who offered to hit me with a mallet and the lady who showed me how to drink tea out of the giant nose.
Unicorn Business- I had a lot of fun at the 2004 World Fantasy Convention, in Tempe, Arizona. The event was well organized and through the dealers room I managed to finally find a copy of Jack Ketchum’s Off Season (which really was the kick in the gut I’d heard it was). I dressed up like a business man, and even acted like one, too. I handed out business cards and plugged Siren Promised like it was the second coming of Mailer. I got to meet a lot of cool people: Mike Arnzen, John Lawson & Jennifer with Raw Dog Screaming, Allen K., Paula Guran, Ellen Datlow, Tom & Elizabeth Monteleone, Steve & Melanie Tem, Nancy Holder, and more people who I will later feel like a dick for forgetting. Alan M. Clark showed me the convention ropes and bought me a pizza, and Liz Engstrom made me a righteous devil-head necklace that I used as a tie-tack.
I wore pants for the entire event.
And here’s a shout out to all the people who showed up early in the morning for my panel on Collaborations in Horror and Fantasy. Thanks for listening to my jibber-jabber when you could have been across the hall at the Bruce Holland Rogers reading. Hope those who won the free copies of Pain and Other Petty Plots… are enjoying them.
Selling Stories, Sucka- “Dissociative Skills” will appear in the upcoming holiday issue (#6) of the righteous City Slab magazine. I can’t think of a less Christmas-y, more vulgar story in my meager canon. That said, happy holidays to all the City Slab readers out there. I hope yule love the tale. Keep your Christmas stocking close by in case you lose your lunch. Good God.
Also, “The Gravity of Benham Falls” will be part of Triple Tree Pub’s Ghosts at the Coast: The Best of Ghost Story Weekend Vol. II, which is going to be a great book for ghost story fans (like me) and people who like stories with the word “gravity” in the title.
And here’s a shout out to all the editors currently cringing their way through a story of mine. Buy it up, pals. You know you like it. Send me money; I’m runnin’ out of cakes and pants.
Shepples (aka JRJ)