I never could get the hang of Thursdays

Things are insanely busy here. Besides the usual work craziness and the added teaching duties while Shihan is out, we’re doing some serious work on the homestead.

The place we moved into last August is a three-bedroom space. Up until a week ago, Wrenn’s cousin Matt was staying with us while he did an apprenticeship as an electrician at Julliard. That ended, and now he’s off to do a summer gig upstate. We had him staying in the master bedroom, while Wrenn and I set up a bed in our office. (It’s actually the biggest of the three bedrooms, but that means we can use it for both office and bedroom space easily.)

Now that Matt’s gone, we can actually sleep in the bedroom. My parents gave us a new bed as a wedding present, including both a mattress and a wooden platform/storage bed. The platform is going to take three months to get — it’s being hand made, and will be worth the wait — but we have the mattress. We ordered a simple metal frame to hold us over that was supposed to be delivered yesterday. According to Amazon’s status update, it was supposed to arrive Wednesday before 8pm. Up until 8.05pm, anyhow — after that, it suddenly changed to saying it will arrive some time between the 21st and 24th. Good thing we paid for that Prime membership for fast shipping, huh?

It’s supposedly out for delivery today. We’ll see. We’ve heard that song before.

We’re looking forward to sleeping in our actual bedroom, thus allowing the office to become a guest room as we intended…..




My wife is a superb baker. She makes amazing brownies and pies and crumbles — and cookies! Her cookies are fantastic. We have brought them to many a convention and dojo function, but why limit ourselves to people we happen to be in the same room with?

To that end, Wrenn has launched a Kickstarter that enables you to get your grubby paws on your very own ginger spice cookies! The options are for the regular ol’ ginger spice cookies, or ones dipped in chocolate.

So go! Pledge! Get cookies! YOU NEED A COOKIE!

Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch: Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country


Shakespeare-quoting Klingons! Another young female Vulcan protégé for Spock! Sulu commanding the Excelsior! The entire crew turned into racist assholes! Assassinations! Prisons! Shapechangers played by supermodels! The TOS Rewatch rips into Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

An excerpt:

Let’s get this out of the way: Kirk orders Spock to rape Valeris. Yes, that’s a charged comment; yes, that’s a serious allegation; yes, that’s utterly revolting. But it’s completely true. And just in case we’re not sure, Meyer films it that way, with Spock looming over Valeris, grabbing her arm, yanking her toward him when she tries to back off, and maintaining a firm grip on her hair while performing the meld. It’s a horrid act, a despicable violation of a person, and one that should never have been committed by people we have two-and-a-half decades of seeing as heroes up to this point.

busy day……


I’ve been doing a lot of teaching at the dojo lately, as Shihan has been recovering from surgery (nothing major, and it went well, as is his rehab), and the rest of us black belts have been filling in for him.

Today, I taught all five classes: two 45-minute classes with four-and-five-year-olds (one beginner, one advanced), two one-hour classes with bigger kids (ages six to sixteen, also one beginner, one advanced, the latter with 25 kids attending), and one 90-minute adult class. It went really really really well. I had some junior black belts and one advanced brown belt adult assisting me with the kids classes, which was a big help.

Meanwhile, Wrenn went down to Central Park in the hopes of scoring tickets to see Julius Caesar, but after two people stormed the stage during last night’s performance, the Delacorte decided to not do the standby ticket line like they always do. While I get why they did that — this way tickets only go to people who got there at 6am to line up (or earlier, even though the park isn’t open before 6) or the people who donated $500 to the Public Theatre. Sadly, based on pictures of tonight’s performance, that has meant a bunch of empty seats. Sigh.

So instead, we came home, watched the Yankees lose again (they’ve lost five in a row and also five out of six on this west coast trip), then started the process of claiming the master bedroom.

I should explain: From when we moved in last September until this past week, we’ve had Wrenn’s cousin living with us while he did an apprenticeship. That apprenticeship is up, and he’s going to be spending the summer upstate doing a gig, and then he’s moving back to NYC, but he’ll be getting his own place. Because his apprenticeship was generally a 9-5 thing, he had to keep normal hours, so in the interests of everyone’s sanity, he took the master bedroom, while we kept our bed in our office, which has doubled as our bedroom.

But that’s done. My parents are giving us a new bed as a wedding present (the mattress arrives Wednesday; the storage bed we’re having built won’t be here for another three months or so, but we’re getting a cheapo frame as a temporary stopgap), and we’re in the process of getting the room ready for us to use it. The office will then go to its intended function as just our office and also a guest room. What we’ve been using as a bed will become a couch (unless guests need it for a bed), and we’ll have lots of floor space and stuff.

Tomorrow we do more work on the bedroom and also I have some editing to do and also Father’s Day dinner at our favorite restaurant! Yay!


preorder Stargate SG-1/Atlantis: Homeworlds


Now available for preorder: Stargate SG-1/Atlantis: Homeworlds, a new anthology edited by Sally Malcolm from the fine folks at Fandemonium. You can preorder the Kindle edition from Amazon, and I’m sure other eBook retailers will have it soon. The eBook goes on sale 23 June, and the print edition is like to follow in July.

Here’s the full table of contents:

SGA: “The Mysteries of Emege” by Jo Graham

SG1: “In Passing” by Susannah Parker Sinard

SGA: “Worshipper” by Melissa Scott

SG1: “Blinded by the Light” by Barbara Ellisor

SGA: “Second Time Sateda” by Ron Francis

SG1: “Sun-Breaker” by Keith R.A. DeCandido

SGA: “The Player on the Other Side” by Amy Griswold

SG1: “Sweet Herbs and Freedom” by Suzanne Wood

SGA: “Going Home” by Aaron Rosenberg

SG1: “They Shoot Heroes, Don’t They?” by Geonn Cannon

The stories take place all over the timeline, both during the respective series and after. (“The Mysteries of Emege” and “Worshipper” take place after Atlantis‘s fifth season, and also after the post-finale Legacy book series, and my own “Sun-Breaker” is a post-season-10 SG-1 story that features Colonel Carter in charge of the U.S.S. George Hammond.) Also, the stories “Blinded by the Light” and “Second Time Sateda” were the two winners in a Stargate short fiction contest judged by Sally, Sabine Bauer, and Laura Harper at the GateCon convention in Vancouver last fall.

So go! Preorder it! You’ll be glad you did!

two conferences I’ll be attending

Haven’t mentioned these yet, and thought I should — I’m doing two writers conferences this year, both places I’ve never been to before, and they ought to be both spiffy and keen.


From 3-6 August, I’ll be at the Ghost Town Writers Retreat in Georgetown, Colorado, alongside Brian Keene, Sara Megibow, Don D’Auria, Stephen Graham Jones, Mario Acevedo, Josh Viola, Mary Sangiovanni, Jeanne C. Stein, Shelley Adina, Guy Anthony De Marco, Jon Bassoff, Sean Eads, Travis Heermann, David Boop, and more. I’ll be doing a bunch of talks on various subjects, as well as a “Tossin’ One Back” gab session with one of the other author guests.

Then on 4 November, I’ll be the Featured Author at the Providence Literary Festival in Providence, Kentucky at the Providence Community Building. I’ll be talking and signing and doing other nifty things there, along with a mess of local authors. Discounting a couple of times at the Cincinnati Airport (which is actually located over the state line in ol’ Kentuck), I’ve never actually been to Kentucky before, so that’ll be cool.


Friday fanfare: “St. James Infirmary”

One of my favorite songs is a traditional New Orleans folk song, “St. James Infirmary” (sometimes called “St. James Infirmary Blues”). I currently have 28 different versions of the song on my iTunes, and I stumbled across this one that will likely be the 29th: from Jools Holland’s Hootenany, held over the 2015/2016 new year, Rhiannon Giddens and Tom Jones duetting on the song. Magnificent!

Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch: Star Trek V: The Final Frontier


Captain Kirk is climbing a mountain, why is he climbing a mountain? Pack up your marsh melons, have a good time, hold your horse, and let go of your pain, as the TOS Rewatch asks what God needs with a starship, and what we need with this bloody awful film, as we cover Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.

An excerpt:

I still recall seeing The Final Frontier in the theatre at age twenty. With each scene, my jaw is dropping further, aghast at just how awful it all is, and then we get to the motherfucking fan dance, and I just closed my eyes and muttered profanity to myself. (I wanted to scream, “Oh, for fuck’s sake, noooooo!” but I was in a crowded Manhattan theatre and was mindful of the rest of the audience.) Star Trek has always had a major dollop of sexism leavening its enlightened attitudes, but there’s no excuse, none, for that appalling, disgusting, ridiculous scene of Uhura distracting the lookouts by dancing naked for them, getting them to all abandon their posts as one. (Funny how Sybok’s brainwashing is enough to make Starfleet officers violate their oaths but not enough to keep his lookouts from acting like a wolf in a Tex Avery cartoon.) Good thing for Kirk’s despicable plan that they were all heterosexual males in the lookout party…

latest Cassie Zukav story in TV Gods: Summer Programming


The second of the TV Gods anthologies from the fine folks at Fortress Publishing has been released, and now you can order it online directly from the publisher! Besides stories by my dear friends Russ Colchamiro, Michael Jan Friedman, Robert Greenberger, Elektra Hammond, KT Pinto, Aaron Rosenberg, Hildy Silverman, and Ian Randal Strock, as well as editors Jeff Young and Lee C. Hillman, it also has the latest Key West-based urban fantasy featuring Cassie Zukav, weirdness magnet. This one focuses on Thor and Tyr, the latter in his guise as a stock car driver, who really doesn’t want the sports show profiling him to know that he’s a Norse god…….

It’s the most recent Cassie story both in terms of release and also in terms of story timeline. For a full list of all the Cassie stories (including the free one you can read online any time you want as a sample), check out this post.

Here’s an excerpt:


“Welcome back, race-car fans, to another episode of Behind the Wheel. I’m your host, Naza Mireles. Today we’ll be taking a look at Jamie McIntyre.

            “Jamie burst on the scene out of nowhere five years ago, and has quickly earned a spot in the top echelon of NASCAR drivers. At this rate, he may be in the conversation for all-time great alongside Petty, Gordon, and Earnhardt.

            “Everyone knows that Jamie won his first eight races in a row, and there was talk that he’d challenge Richard Petty’s record of twenty-seven wins in one season. He didn’t quite manage that, though he did vault past Jeff Gordon into second place when he won his fourteenth at the Pennsylvania 400. Everyone knows that he’s continued to stay on the NASCAR leaderboard, recently taking first place at Daytona. Everyone knows that he wears his racing gloves 24/7, like it’s his good-luck charm. And everyone knows that he does all this with a minimal pit crew, the smallest crew of anyone in NASCAR history.

            “But what everyone doesn’t know is who the real Jamie McIntyre is. After his Daytona win, he came to Key West, Florida, with his pit crew, and lately, whenever they’re not at a race, they’re at the southernmost point, mostly at a bar called Mayor Fred’s Saloon.”


I knew something weird was going on when I saw a camera crew in Mayor Fred’s. And I had a feeling what it was when I recognized the woman the crew was surrounding. She was sitting at the bar, chatting with the new bartender.

As I entered the open-air bar, I passed by the manager, Ihor, who said, “Hey, Cassie.”

I pointed at the bar. “What’s Naza Mireles doing here?”

Ihor just stared at me. “Take a wild guess.”

“She’s profiling Jamie, isn’t she?”

“Yeah, and since he’s been hangin’ out here since Daytona, they wanna talk to his drinking buddies.”

Wonderful. The word was out that Mayor Fred’s was a NASCAR star’s new favorite watering hole, which meant my favorite bar was becoming a Key West hotspot.

Which, I gotta say, was really annoying. One of the best things about Mayor Fred’s, which was on Greene Street, half a block from the main drag of Duval Street, was that it didn’t get the nutsy crowds that Sloppy Joe’s and Irish Kevin’s and the like got.

But that had been changing, to the point where Ihor had to hire a second full-time bartender along with the part-timers he had working on Fridays and Saturdays.

That bartender, a cheery redhead named Meredith, was saying, “Oh, Jamie, Eitri, and Brokkr are just regulars like everyone else. We don’t treat them any different, which is probably why they keep coming back. But I’ve only been working here about a month, so I haven’t really gotten to know him as well.” She caught sight of me, and I immediately started to head for the women’s room.

Too late.

“Hey, Cassie! You’ll wanna talk to Cassie, she’s been a regular here, like, forever.”

I sighed and glowered at Meredith.

Mireles immediately jumped off her stool and walked over to me. She was wearing a scoop-necked black shirt that emphasized her cleavage, which made it the same as every other top she wore on camera. Couldn’t really blame her, since Behind the Wheel catered to NASCAR fans, who were mostly redneck white guys who loved them some boobs.

She was also only about five feet nothing, which you couldn’t tell from watching Behind the Wheel. Since I’m almost six feet tall, this made for a hilarious visual as she put out her hand and said, “Hi, I’m Naza Mireles. We’re profiling Jamie McIntyre for Behind the Wheel. Would you mind sitting down with me for an interview?”

My instinct was to say no, but it was mostly because I knew that, once this aired, Mayor Fred’s was going to become more popular, and it was gonna become impossible to even sit in here.

But that was gonna happen whether I talked to her or not. So I returned the handshake. “I’m Cassie Zukav. And yeah, why not?”

Mireles grinned. “Excellent. Have a seat, Ms. Zukav.”

I plunked myself down on one of the stools. As soon as I did so, Meredith placed a pint of beer in front of me. It was good to see that the newbie was as prompt as Ihor always was when it came to providing a drink without even having to ask for it.

Mireles noticed this as she sat on the stool next to me. “You definitely are a regular.”

“For almost two years now, yeah.”

“First of all, what’s your name and what do you do for a living?”

“I’m Cassie Zukav, and I’m a dive-master at the Seaclipse Dive Shop on Stock Island, and I also work at the Bottroff House Bed and Breakfast on Easton Street here on Key West.”

Shaking her head, Mireles said, “Everyone here has two jobs.”

“Price of living in paradise,” I said with a shrug.

“You said you’ve been a regular here two years. Is that how long you’ve lived in Key West?”

I nodded. “I’m from San Diego originally. After I finished school, I road-tripped across the bottom of the country. I was planning to do a two-week vacation here and then turn around and head home. Still haven’t gotten around to the second part yet.”

She chuckled. “So you met Jamie here?”

I nodded and sipped the beer. “It was after this year’s Daytona. Eitri and Brokkr came down first, then Jamie, and then they kept coming back.”

“What do you think brought them here in particular?”

For a second, I hesitated. There were, of course, several very good reasons why they came here, and why they kept coming back, but it wasn’t the kind of thing that should really go on a nationally televised profile of a stock car driver.

Then I decided, aw, what the hell. It’s Key West. Crazy is what we do here. I’m living proof of that.

I pointed to the ficus that was at the center of the bar. “See that tree? That was Key West’s hanging tree in the nineteenth century. Later, they built this bar around it—the tree’s stayed intact this whole time. And the reason for that is that it’s also a root of Yggdrasil.”

Mireles’s studiously perky face fell. “Of what?”

“Yggdrasil. The world-tree. See, Yggdrasil links the Nine Worlds together—you can read up on it in Norse myth, or just watch the Marvel movies, I guess. Anyhow, Jamie McIntyre isn’t his only name—he also goes by Tyr, one of the Norse gods, and the reason why he came here is because of Yggdrasil. Same reason why Eitri and Brokkr came here—they’re both dwarves—and also Loki and Odin and Sigyn up there.” I pointed at the stage where 1812, the bar’s house band, was setting up. Sigyn—a.k.a. Ginny Blake—was the drummer. “She was actually Loki’s wife once upon a time. A little over a year ago, Loki tried to destroy the world by sundering Yggdrasil and causing Ragnarok—remember that weird snowstorm we had here last April? That was part of it. Luckily, I was able to stop him. See, I’m a Dís, a fate goddess. That’s part of why I was drawn here, also. Well, that and it’s a fun place. Good beer, good people, and wait’ll you hear 1812 play, they’re the best cover band on the island.”

Somewhere in the middle of my colloquy on how Norse mythology intersected with Key West, Mireles’s face went from confused to incredulous to wondering who this nutjob was, exactly, and finally to amusement.

“You know, every time I come to this island, I hear a lot of crazy stories. And yours needs a better hook. I mean, Norse gods? Seriously? The Thor movies aren’t even all that good.”

“Oh, I don’t know, I wouldn’t kick Hemsworth or Hiddleston out of bed,” I said with a grin.

Oh yeah.” Her expression got feral for a second, and then she put her professional interviewer face back on. “But seriously, what really brought you to Mayor Fred’s?”

I took another sip of my beer. I kinda figured that would be her reaction—which also confirmed that everyone else she’d talked to had kept the truth under wraps.

You see, everything I said to her was a hundred percent true. Jamie McIntyre really was Tyr, Eitri and Brokkr really were the dwarves who forged (among other things) Thor’s hammer, and Ginny really was Sigyn. Odin and Loki both used to come here, too, but the former died helping me stop a crazy ghost from killing people, and the latter died at the hands of a mermaid who wanted vengeance for a thousand-year-old prank he’d pulled.

“Honestly,” I said, only partly meaning that adverb, “what drew me in here was 1812. They really are the best cover band on the island. I don’t know if anyone told you, but they were the band backing John Robertson up on his last CD before he died.”

“Really?” Mireles said. “That’s impressive.”

“Oh yeah, they’re fantastic.” I didn’t mention that Robertson only died because I stopped him from sucking 1812’s souls out of them.

“How well do you know Jamie?”

I shrugged. “Hard to say. We’re bar-friends, y’know? I mean, there are people who come in here every night, and I couldn’t tell you what their favorite color is or what their religion is or even what they do for a living. I can tell you their favorite beer or which sports team they root for or what their favorite song is.”

“So what’s Jamie’s favorite song?”

I chuckled. “Well, he keeps asking 1812 to play Black Sabbath’s ‘Feels Good to Me.'”

“So he likes power ballads,” Mireles said with a nod.

“I guess.” I pointedly didn’t mention that that song was on the Sabbath album entitled Tyr.

“And his favorite beer?”

“He doesn’t drink beer—he mostly goes for whiskey. Eitri and Brokkr, though, they order stouts every time.”

She asked a few more innocuous questions, and I gave the most boring answer I could think of. Then she stopped a second, tapped the bar with her index finger for a second, and then said, “Okay, maybe you know the answer to this—no one seems to have any idea, but I’ve heard a rumor that Jamie has a brother. There’s no record of him, but I keep hearing references to him here and there from the pit crew and from a few of his other racing buddies.”

I didn’t even know Tyr had racing buddies. I also was now really glad that I never mentioned Thor when I was telling Mireles the truth she didn’t believe.

Because if she was having trouble with Tyr, Sigyn, Loki, and Odin, the reality of Thor didn’t bear talking about, and the idea of her meeting Thor didn’t bear thinking about. Especially with her showing off all the cleavage…

“Um, no, no brother that I know about. Bar-friends, y’know? I couldn’t tell you who the only children are and who has siblings. People here only know I have a twin brother ’cause he visited last Thanksgiving.”

“Huh. Okay.”

Then Larry came out of the men’s room and stared dolefully at Mireles and me. “You’re still here,” he said.

“Yes, and I still want to talk to you.”

“Forget it,” Larry said, and he veered off toward the pool table.

“What is with him? Everyone else is jumping at the chance to talk about Jamie.”

“No, they’re jumping at the chance to be on TV,” I said with a smirk. “But Larry’s kinda special.”

“Let me guess, he’s a Norse god, too?”

I grinned. “No, an immortal, thanks to a love affair he had with a water elemental.”

Mireles rolled her eyes. “You people and your scary stories. Last time I was down here, I took a ghost tour—saw that creepy doll at the museum, heard about all kinds of crazy stuff. Is it something in the air here, or what?”

“Ah, those ghost tours are weak. They don’t even mention the ghost in the Bottroff House.”

“You know I’m not gonna be using any of this crazy stuff, right?”

I grinned. “I know, I just like seeing all the funny facial expressions you make.”

“I’m not gonna use those, either.”

But she also laughed when she said it.

midweek music: “Visions of Johanna”

I finally hammered down one of the deadlines, albeit two weeks late. Now to tackle Star Trek V for Tor.com, which will go up two days late, and also another deadline that’s even later! Wheeeeeeeeeeeee!

Anyhow, I want to get back into doing Monday music, midweek music, and Friday fanfare, so here’s one of my favorite Bob Dylan songs. Dylan has done this a variety of ways over the decades, but just him on stage with an acoustic guitar is the most pure, most beautiful interpretation of it. The haunted longing comes through far more effectively than it does faster and/or with a band.