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My ConFusion 2016 Schedule: Political SF; Bespoke Libations

January 22nd, 2016

Tomorrow at 10 AM, I’ll be participating in this panel discussion at ConFusion:

Anthologies as Advocacy

All fiction is in some way political and science fiction and fantasy have a healthy tradition of anthologies that seek to open up space for new voices and new conversations. To what extent do an anthology’s political goals interact with other editorial considerations? And how are such books received and reviewed by the field — both politically, and aesthetically?

Michael J. DeLuca, Yanni Kuznia, Mari Brighe, Kelley Armstrong (M), Michael Damian Thomas

Doubtless I will mention this:

lcrw33cover

And maybe this:

And lots of other things, for which I have a bunch of notes. Come on by, it’ll be great.

Then, later, 8 PM that very night, I will be doing this:

Beer Lovers Meet Up

Bring a bottle of your favorite or unusual brew to share with fellow beer lovers in this casual meetup in the consuite.

Joel Zakem, Michael J. DeLuca, Scott H. Andrews, Jim Mann

And boy will there ever be unusual and favorite brew. I just packed the cooler; it contains such magics as Guatemalan chocolate smoked hot pepper stout, orange blossom cyser, two different vintages of spruce beer, two different vintages of mead, a wormwood old ale. And those are just the libations I made myself. Please come help us sample; I doubt we can drink it all ourselves.

Cheers!

IMG_2436

   Beer, Environmentalism, News, Science Fiction | No Comments »

Me and the Thunderbird

June 14th, 2012


Thunderbird, on a 19th-century Cheyenne drumhead, Detroit Institute of Arts.

The co-opting of Native American culture makes me sad. For years I thought a thunderbird was a car driven by greasers and meatheads and Pontiac not a doomed, desperate tragic hero of the Ottawa but a disreputable manufacturer of cars. If it weren’t for the automotive industry, though, would I ever have even heard these names? I guess we owe them for keeping the memory alive, in however twisted a form.

And there are instances of co-opting that make me unashamedly happy. There’s a really nice Mexican lager called Bohemia brewed by cervezeria Motecuzoma Cuauhtemoc in Monterrey which I would never have tried if it weren’t for the portrait of Motecuzoma they use for their logo. I could do without Mel Gibson, but he put native Yucatec Maya speakers in a big-budget film. When I heard Johnny Depp was playing Tonto in an inexplicable remake of The Lone Ranger, I was as annoyed as everybody else until I remembered Dead Man… that long, wordless opening scene, a bespectacled, comically pale-faced young Depp staring out the window of the train at the landscape of the West as the grim faces of passengers shift and fade around him, visions of his own death in the wilderness pass before his eyes, and that brutal Neil Young noise riff gnashes over all. Just thinking about it makes me want to go watch that movie right now….ahh, but I have shit to do. Anyhow–however trumped up Depp’s one-sixteenth Cherokee blood, I give him credit for caring about Native American culture, to the point that I’ll probably see The Lone Ranger.

And so on and so forth, with mixed feelings of reverence and liberal guilt. I am not really supposed to talk about it, being as how I am a white male.

Which brings me to the point of this. I have co-opted Native American culture. Part one of my novella “Death and the Thunderbird”, featuring those lovable, culture-raping centaurs; a locomotive powered by sorcery; and yes, a thunderbird, is live today in Beneath Ceaseless Skies #97, opposite the excellent Tina Connolly. I labored long and hard over it and am proud. If you’re a fan of the centaurs, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. But I doubt it will win any awards for cultural sensitivity despite my best intentions. By way of beginning to atone for this, I share below a brief bibliography of American culture-rape. As usual, I would almost rather you read the source material than my story. But read the story too, if you have time.

Ok. Must stop myself. Enjoy! Be edified.

   Art, Beer, Centaurs, Film, HM, Precolombians, Writings | No Comments »

Signal Degradation, Small Beer Podcast, HM at WFC, Suchlike

November 10th, 2011

I realize it’s been months since I last posted. My computer HD died sometime in September, causing me to lose a month’s worth of cool mushroom photos, Hen of the Woods, Giant Puffball etc, which I would otherwise totally have put up here otherwise. But it’s cool, no need to pretend like you noticed—who reads blogs anymore?

I’ve been tweeting some, that’s got to count for something. Maybe I should port my tweets over here so the skull doesn’t look so dusty.

Anyhow, I have not been idle in the interim. Weightless Books is tearing right along; this month we’re running an Apex subscription drive, 25% off, plus some freebies for participants and a game of Nook Tablet roulette. The Homeless Moon put out a special edition best-of chapbook for World Fantasy, which you didn’t hear a thing about unless you were there; it was all very hush-hush. We used the space octopus cover castoff from chapbook 4, I thought it came out quite nice.

And, the real reason for this update, Small Beer intern and audiophile Julie Day has started a podcast series, the current episode of which features me, yes me, talking a bit about Weightless, a bit about beer, then reading aloud “The Hour of the Fireflies” by Karen Chacek, one of the stories I translated for the forthcoming SBP anthology Three Messages and a Warning: Contemporary Mexican Stories of the Fantastic. Which is a lovely story, a brief, crisp confection with a darkly bitter center, into the translation of which I put much effort, just so that you, non-Spanish-speaker, could enjoy it. So please go listen. Then in a week or so, I believe there may be another podcast episode wherein Gavin, Julie and I sit around on a late Thursday morning drinking beer and rambling about beer on tape. Fun!

And that’s about it from me. I have another of my own stories upcoming on Pseudopod—I’ll let you know when it happens. In the meantime, be well. Don’t lick any toads you haven’t first positively identified.

   Beer, HM, News | No Comments »

Workingman’s Gruit

November 26th, 2010

Great with a turkey and gravy sandwich: my new Literary Beer entry is up on the Small Beer Press blog! This episode follows more of my quest to resurrect a long-dead style of beer for the modern age, using wildcrafted and homegrown herbs in place of hops, in order to save money, resources and effort, stand out from the crowd, and experience wonders never tasted by a living soul.

Just then the wind
came squalling through the door
but who can
the weather command?
Just want to have
a little peace to die
and a friend or two
I love at hand

—Hunter/Garcia, “Black Peter”

Happy thanksgiving!

   Beer, Environmentalism, HM | No Comments »

The Third World

January 25th, 2010


Patchwork farmland west of Antigua.

Everybody should visit a third world country at least once, if only so they can come to a more round understanding of that term. I don’t know how I ever got on without having been to one.

Prior to visiting Guatemala, I had operated under the not-entirely-inaccurate assumption that “third world” referred to a region of the planet whose human inhabitants suffered, in varying degrees of severity, reduced access to economic infrastructure including but not limited to sewer systems, utilities, clean water, health care, education, technology, and/or rule of law. As compared to the status of said amenities here in the “first world”. I understood, if only on an abstract, liberal-educated, political-correctness level, that the term “third world” was to be considered flawed in its one-sidedness, its inherent superiority, and its general lack of empathy.

What I didn’t understand until I went there was that none of the above in any way impedes the daily functioning of a society.

I didn’t encounter a single traffic light anywhere in Guatemala outside the capital city, and I traveled a lot. Shockingly, traffic doesn’t screech to a halt at every intersection for lack of a traffic light. Drivers tap their horns three or four times in quick succession, as a warning or a greeting, rather than leaning on them uselessly for minutes at a time like we do here. Then they go with the flow.

Wrecked cars and buses are a common occurrence on the sides of highways; trash is more common–heaps of it, collecting in corners shielded from the wind. Most people’s houses are of flaking stucco: a few low rooms, inadequately windowed, with a sheet of corrugated tin for a roof and rainwater running freely over the floor. Nobody has a lawn. Even the locals can’t drink the water from the taps without boiling or filtering it first, because it contains e. coli bacteria, the result of poor waste management and inadequate sewage systems.

Nobody seems fazed by any of this.

And–after a day or two–I’m not fazed by it either. Clean water running from the tap isn’t such a hard thing to live without. Lots of people have rainwater collectors on their roofs. Lots more have big, terracotta water filters in their kitchens, like Brita filters, only you don’t have to keep buying more of them, and they serve an actual health purpose. Seatbelts–can’t say I really miss those. Have you ever noticed how people, not just in this country, but in Canada, Britain, Europe–pretty much everywhere I’ve been in the “first” world–are afraid to touch each other? On subways, the Tube, public buses, passing in the street, waiting in line. God forbid you give me your cooties. That taboo doesn’t seem exist in Guatemala. One time I spent an hour on a really ridiculously packed chicken bus between Dos Encuentros and Chimaltenango, standing just behind the driver, hanging onto the luggage rack for dear life as we careened around mountain turns, my huge backpack pressed against the shoulders of a dude sitting on a bucket in the aisle, my legs completely enclosed to the point of immobility by the knees and calves and hips and packages of six mayan ladies on their way home from market all crammed into the first row. A little baby napping in her abuela’s lap kept kicking me adorably in the shins. I kept glancing back over the sea of faces in the rows behind me, and every time I did, I found a different kid staring at me with big, brown, liquid eyes, breaking into a huge, shy smile when I caught her gaze. And when it was over, when the dude on the bucket got off and I got to sit down for a minute before we finally made it to my stop, the mayan ladies all started chattering about what a good sport this big galumphing gringo boy had been, standing up all that time on those sharp mountain turns, and how sorry they were they couldn’t have made more room. When I got off, I was pretty much in love with those ladies.


A chicken bus outside Ciudad Vieja, with volcanoes.

There are stray dogs everywhere in Guatemala–not in any sort of evil, ravening pack mentality kind of way–they’re dirty and fleabitten and bone-skinny, and nobody tells them what to do or where to go, but they don’t beg constantly, and they only bark and howl and run around like hooting hordes of ancestor ghosts in the dark of night, in the distance. They’re much more patient, more respectful, than you’d expect any horde of stray dogs to be. Mostly, they just seem tired. For me, it was somehow uncanny to see a long-faced brown mongrel with eight full dugs swinging and ribs standing out against her sides ambling past me down a dusty cobbled street, like the she-wolf that suckled Romulus and Remus. And after the fact, I’m actually more unsettled that I could have become sufficiently detached from reality that the sight of a pregnant dog could come across as something so alien.

The cheap beer, in this third world country? It’s not cheap beer at all–it’s good beer, cheap! The national brew, Gallo, is a thirst-quenching, medium-bodied amber lager with a fine refreshing fruitiness. Gallo makes Corona cry. And I can’t even begin to articulate how badly it beats the tar out of ye great American workingman’s brew. And you know what really blows me about it? They reuse every single bottle they ship out. They don’t throw away their glass. They don’t recycle it. They don’t have to. Every morning, the Gallo truck shows up outside the cantina, drops off full bottles, picks up empties, and takes them back to the plant to be cleaned and refilled. Where the $*%& are we on that, first world?

Also, as far as I experienced it, the entire nation of Guatemala has already switched over from incandescent to CFL bulbs. I didn’t see an incandescent bulb while I was there. And they did it without needing a massive PR campaign or even a giant self-stroking internet site where people can congratulate themselves for accomplishing some kind of change.

All in all, it’s kind of refreshing to see that, yes, life actually can and does go on in the absence of antibacterial cream, small claims courts, individually-wrapped sanitary towelettes, subsidized insurance coverage for antidepressants, styrofoam coffee cups, laws regulating windshield cracks, twenty-four hour news networks, the grocery store, or even a ratio of at least two branded napkins to each food or beverage item purchased. You don’t need any of that stuff to live, or even to be happy. You don’t need phones or the internet or TV either.

All that being said, having been back safe and coddled in the states for a week, with the Haiti earthquake heavily in the news, I am painfully aware that my envy for the lifestyle of the average Guatemalan is at best problematic, and seriously flawed. I went down there with money. They hadn’t just suffered an earthquake, nor were they engaged in civil war. If they had been, I’d have been much more aware of the absence of hospitals and clean water, and the danger of those mountain roads. And I’d have been a hell of a lot more scared of all those dudes with guns.

But the main point, I think, still holds: there’s no third world and no first world. There’s the world. What we do affects them, what they do affects us. More importantly, there, but for the grace of a giant, complicated mess of circumstance and stuff, go we. And vice versa.

I don’t know that it’s a sentiment I can fully convey, without just telling you to go there and see. But okay, how about this? Have you ever had one of those conversations with a dedicated doer of recreational drugs, ecstasy or lsd or mushrooms or even weed, wherein said day tripper gushes about how all the world’s problems would be solved if only the leaders of the world could be introduced to the recreational drug in question?

That’s how I feel about going to Guatemala.

Trouble is, all those world leaders I want to teach a little empathy (or a lot) have probably already been there.

   Beer, Environmentalism, Guatemala, HM, Writings | 5 Comments »

To Eat and Drink of Trees

September 15th, 2009

The newest entry in my occasional blog series on homebrewing is live on the Small Beer Press site.

In this one, I go on a pine-needle eating spree, brew some beer with spruce tips in place of hops, and then proceed to party like an 1830s New England housewife.

And by the way, just in case anyone is actually syndicating these, the location of the Literary Beer RSS feed has changed to the following:

http://www.smallbeerpress.com/?tag=literary-beer&feed=rss2

   Beer, News, Trees, Writings | 2 Comments »

Competentest Self-Promotion Ever

July 13th, 2009

Heh.

I was so busy arranging my weekend of Readercon and chapbook and family reunion running about that I forgot to come on here and mention in advance the fact that I got to participate in two readings while at Readercon, not to mention stand about at the Small Beer table chatting up the fancy folk.

One of the readings was for Interfictions 2, which I am not in, but for which they were nice enough to let me read anyway for some inexplicable reason.

The other was for Beneath Ceaseless Skies, wherein when I preambled the bordello scene from “Of Thinking Being and Beast” with the fact that it was set in a world where centaurs had conquered the American West, the people in the seats actually applauded. Who would have thought? Not I… even though I must confess the seats were somewhat packed with ringers.

Also: the hotel pub had Sam Adams Brick Red on tap. Mmm.

   Beer, News | 2 Comments »

The Legendary Black Beer of Aaaargh

March 16th, 2009

My newest Literary Beer article just went online over at the Small Beer Press blog, in which I suggest hops might not be all they’re cracked up to be, and consider some truly medieval alternatives. The story of how hops came to be used in beer is actually pretty cool—and a worthwhile thing to know for all you fantasists interested in medieval settings.

   Beer, HM, Writings | 2 Comments »

Which mythological beer mascot are you?

August 18th, 2008

I took the Mythological Profile Test and found out that I am a Kirin. Which is like a magic flying deer/unicorn with dragon-scales that brings good luck. And beer.

If it weren’t for the beer, I believe I would be mildly annoyed.

Read the rest of this entry »

   Beer | 1 Comment »

That Seals and Crofts Song

August 1st, 2008

Just wanted to take a moment to bask in the joys of summer. The spirit of the season hadn’t fully hit me at Solstice, though I celebrated in due style. And I tell you: it was hard times that brought it on at last. Away from my garden for a week at TNEO. It rained and rained. Ripping thunder while we sat around the critique table. The skies clear one moment, drenching the next. We’d watch the sky out of the classroom windows all day, make a snap judgment when the time came and run for it. And inevitably get deluged.

I got home and the same storms had knocked over a big old rotten birch right on my heirloom tomatoes. Everything was folded in half, all withering from rot. Now we’ve got a bunch of green tomatoes sitting on the windowsill–fruit from branches broken by the storm, slowly ripening by magic.

For dinner I had grilled kielbasa, rosemary potatoes and one roasted anaheim pepper. I made myself a sandwich with homemade rustic bread. Pint of cream ale on the side. Purple Cherokee tomatoes for appetizer, sun golds for dessert. And farm stand soft serve for second dessert.

Yeah.

Tonight I get to go out in the dew with my tripod and try to take pictures of fireflies.

There’s mosquitoes on the river.
Fish are rising up like birds.
It’s been hot for seven weeks now,
Too hot to even speak now.
Did you hear what I just heard?

–John Perry Barlow, “The Music Never Stopped”

I am in the middle of such a moment of bliss that I’m actually tempted to play against character and turn this into a meme. You there, consider yourself tagged. Give me 100 words on the small pleasures.

I’ll get back to the writing now, I promise.

   Beer, Environmentalism, Religion, Transcendentalism, Writings | 2 Comments »

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