knee update

I saw a rehab specialist for my knees today. It’s been established that I have mild arthritis in my knees, and surgery isn’t an option, but I do have cysts behind my kneecap. (Well, behind my right kneecap, and probably also my left one, but insurance would only cover an MRI of one knee. Insurance is ridiculous.)

The doctor examined me, and my symptoms (sharp, non-lingering pain when I do certain things) doesn’t indicate to him that the cyst is actually the problem. So we’re going to do a month and a half of physical therapy two days a week and see where that leads. If that helps, great. If it doesn’t, we look at doing an MRI of the other leg and maybe draining the cyst(s).

Cha cha cha.

four years of wedded bliss

Four years ago at Mario’s on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, Wrenn and I stood before a large assortment of friends and family, and, in a ceremony officiated by Glenn Hauman, and with Laura Anne Gilman, Alex Latzko, Meredith Peruzzi, Zan Rosin, Lilly Hayes, Catelynn Cunningham, Dave Mack, and the late great Dale Mazur standing beside us, we were married. It was a glorious day filled with food and fun and frolic, and a perfect way to legalize the bond we already had emotionally after eight years together.

Happy anniversary, Wrenn. Hard to believe it’s been four years already, as it seems like only yesterday. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve blotted out most of 2020……

We’re celebrating with another milestone of A Thing We Haven’t Done Since The Apocalypse Started: we’re going to the Bronx Zoo! I miss my tigers…….

two weeks in and feelin’ groovy

Friday the 26th of March was Wrenn’s and my official day of freedom: two weeks after receiving our second shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, which is when the CDC says you’re as immunized against the coronavirus as you’re gonna get.

To celebrate, we got our hairs cut! Going to a salon wasn’t really a thing we wanted to do during a pandemic, but we felt good about doing it today. It was my first haircut in 14 months, and Wrenn’s first in 16 months. As you can see from the “before” picture above on the left, my hair was getting pretty out of control. Now, it’s much calmer and not zipping off in all directions.

Don’t worry, though, I’m still a long-haired hippie weirdo freak….

Today, we’re off to North Carolina. We’ve been cooped up together in the house forever, and we want a road trip, so we’re gonna head to Raleigh and spend a few days with our dear friends ToniAnn and Kyle. And we’re looking forward to Easter dinner, our first meal at my parents’ house in 13 months, not to mention being able to celebrate my birthday in a restaurant!

We’re nowhere near normal yet — as you can see from the pictures above, masks are still a thing, and we’re still being very very very very careful, especially with people whom we either know aren’t vaccinated or don’t know one way or the other if they’re vaccinated.

Yesterday was a beautiful day for walking around both Greenwich Village in Manhattan and Little Italy in the Bronx. And it was so nice to do that without the anxiety that’s gripped us since mid-March 2020.

Still a ways to go, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and it looks like it isn’t an oncoming train….

second shot, no waiting

Weather as metaphor: Three weeks ago when Wrenn and I got our first shot of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at Yankee Stadium, it was 30 degrees and snowing. Today, when we got shot #2, it was 70 degrees and sunny.

And it went even more smoothly. Three weeks ago, one of the people working the vaccine center at the Stadium very loudly recommended that we come back to get our second shot some time in the afternoon, as it’s always less crowded then. Sure enough, we got there at 2.20 or so, and there was no line, no waiting. They checked us in right away, there was no line for the metal detector or to get in or to check in at the computer station or to get the shot. It went as fast as humanly possible, and it was just as smooth as it was last time.

Once again, I must sing the praises of the fine folks at SOMOS Community Care and the military personnel who were assisting in keeping things running smoothly.

Now we wait two weeks for the full immunization to take effect. And then we can almost start acting human again…………

Melinda M. Snodgrass has a new book out!

One of the things I love about my life is that people whose work I’ve admired have become good friends and colleagues. One such example is Melinda M. Snodgrass, whom I knew as the author of the Star Trek novel The Tears of the Singers, one of the co-creators (with George R.R. Martin) of the Wild Cards book series, and one of the best scriptwriters in Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s early years (among many others, she wrote the seminal episode “The Measure of a Man”). She has since become a dear friend, not just to me, but also to Wrenn (the pair of them are part of a gaming group that’s been meeting over Zoom weekly during the current apocalypse).

Currency of War, the fourth book in her Imperials series of science fiction novels is now out from the fine folks at Prince of Cats Literary Productions, and you should go buy it right now!

one shot down, one to go

Today, Wrenn and I trekked down to Yankee Stadium to get our first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer. This is being managed by Somos, a network of healthcare providers all throughout New York City. The vaccination station at Yankee Stadium opened up in January, and is specifically there to service Bronx residents.

The process was very orderly, very efficient, very organized, and very friendly. We have absolutely no complaints about any aspect of it, and tons of compliments. Somos is to be commended for what they’re doing here, trying very hard to make sure that the people of the Bronx get vaccinated. Speaking as a lifelong Bronx resident, I know that we’re historically left behind and underrepresented and ill-served, compared to the rest of NYC, so I appreciate the effort. Kudos also to the U.S. Army personnel, who supplemented the Somos staff

Amusingly, the one thing they did constantly was check our ID to make sure we were Bronx residents. They really are committed to making sure that the Bronx gets safer.

The process itself was straightforward. They verified our appointment, which I made Monday morning, then we had to go through the metal detector (because Yankee Stadium), then we registered, and they put us in the computer, and then we went to get our shot. The shot itself was as fast as humanly possible — the guy giving the shot checked our IDs, applied alcohol to our arms, stuck the needle in (it barely even hurt), put on a band-aid, gave us our CDC card that we will now carry around saying we got our first shot, and then we went to the waiting area. Generally, one waits for fifteen minutes to make sure there are no nasty side effects, but because Wrenn is an allergy-induced asthmatic, she had to wait for half an hour.

There were no side effects — though we were both pretty tired when we got home — and we drove home and ate lunch and took well-deserved naps.

We get our second shot on the 12th of March, and by the 26th of March, we’ll be fully vaccinated against this awful virus.

Please, if you’re eligible in your state, make an appointment. If you’re not eligible, be patient — with new vaccines on the verge of being FDA-approved, the number of slots should increase in March. Keep checking for appointments. The sooner everyone gets vaccinated, the safer we’ll all be.

I never could get the hang of Thursdays…

My goal with Feat of Clay, the sequel to A Furnace Sealed, is to try to get at least 1000 words/day done. I haven’t always been able to do that, thanks to various other projects that poke in — a novella outline here, a comics outline there, an editing project there, not to mention my writing obligations for — but I’ve been making steady progress, which is a good thing. I’ve written eight of the sixteen chapters the outline calls for, and I’ve just passed the 30,000-word mark. Yes, that makes for a 60,000-word book, but I’m sure words will be added once the first draft is finished, and also, I write short novels. I’m the anti-Brandon Sanderson. *laughs*

Wrenn and I are just waiting for it to be our turn to get vaccinated. The phase that New York is in includes my parents, thank goodness, but doesn’t include us. Meantime, we’re continuing as we have been since March 2020: staying in as much as possible, doing all our grocery shopping by ordering stuff ahead of time (by phone with the small shops in Little Italy; via Instacart with the big grocery stores) and picking it up, and doing laundry on Wednesdays when the laundromat is generally empty. We’ve got regular online things we’re doing with friends: I’ve got a weekly poker game, Wrenn has a weekly role-playing game, I have a daily social thing, Wrenn has a weekly social gathering, I’ve been doing karate over Zoom between two and four times a week, and I’ve also been doing a crapton of online interviews and panels and things that have been filling in for the convention-going that hasn’t happened in ten months.

We’ve been bingeing The West Wing of late, which has been much more fun since the 20th of January than it was prior. I also haven’t been obsessively checking Twitter and CNN because I’m worried that the country is going to go down in flames. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still checking both, just not with the same fervency and fright that I was when the previous occupant of the White House was still in office. And damn, that was a brilliant show. Before going to bed last night, we watched “17 People,” which is one of the best episodes of any television show ever. Any time you put Richard Schiff and Martin Sheen together, it’s dramatic gold, and what’s especially impressive about these scenes is that John Spencer — who usually dominates whatever room he’s in — is the wallflower in those scenes. Having said that, the Spencer-Schiff bits are just as powerful, as Toby has be the voice of reason to Leo (roles that are usually reversed) because Leo is thinking of Bartlet way too much as his friend and not enough as the President.

Today, the goal is to write another thousand words of Feat of Clay. Chapter 9 here I come!

What are you up to?

on rewatching old Aaron Sorkin shows

Been rewatching both The West Wing and Sports Night. It’s fascinating to watch shows about sports and politics from two decades ago and see what’s become dated and what hasn’t.

In particular, discussions on TWW about gays in the military and gay marriage are blissfully outdated now.

And yet, the “Mary Pat Shelby” episode of SN about sexual harassment of female reporters by men in sports remains just as relevant now as it was in 1998, as seen just last week with the Mets and their now-ex-general manager Jared Porter.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose…

Sigh. The thing about progress is that it’s slow and doesn’t ever end………..

at last, a new president

I haven’t posted much politically over the last four years, which was for a variety of reasons, but the main one was that it was too fucking exhausting. Any time I said anything on social media about politics, the rest of the day was given over to keeping an eye on the responses in order to keep things civil, which is something I insist upon in my online spaces. And it’s just been so depressing because there’s been so much crap from the 45th President.

But today, I’m posting because Donald Trump has left the White House and Joe Biden has just been sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. President Trump has been an absolutely terrible President, from beginning to end. He was in violation of his oath of office from the nanosecond he swore it because he didn’t divest himself of his businesses, which is in violation of the Emoluments clauses of the Constitution. And he ended his presidency by inciting a riot, sending his most fervent devotees to the Capitol to disrupt the certification of his successor and kidnap or kill the Vice President and members of Congress. In between, he ruined our standing on the world stage, he encouraged white supremacists, he imprisoned people seeking asylum and separated children from their parents while doing so, he did everything he could to marginalize and remove protections for people who aren’t white, he bypassed Congressional approval of his appointees by making Cabinet members “acting” for indefinite periods, he used his family as staff in violation of the laws put into place after the Kennedy Administration, he continued the disastrous “trickle-down” economic policies that started in 1981 with President Reagan and which have kneecapped our economy for forty years, and so much more.

But the worst was his utterly disastrous, harmful, murderous, idiotic response to the global pandemic that has gripped the world since early 2020.

I am so looking forward to having a grown-up as President. I am so looking forward to someone who understands how government works running the executive branch. I am so looking forward to someone who understands science in the Oval Office. I am so looking forward to someone who acknowledges that people who aren’t cis het white dudes are worthy of being involved in government — hell, in life. I am so looking forward to a president who encourages scientists and who doesn’t encourage racists. I am so looking forward to a president who doesn’t hold rallies after he’s elected.

And I am so looking forward to a president who isn’t nakedly corrupt.

President Biden has a ton of work ahead of him to clean up the spectacular mess of the last four years. Meanwhile, former President Trump has a ton of work ahead of him dealing with all the criminal charges that are about to come pouring down on him. The current attorney general of New York State, Letitia James, ran and won handily in 2018 on a platform that pretty much boiled down to: “as soon as they swear in the next guy, I’m nailing Trump’s ass to the wall.” And it looks like Georgia might have some indictments coming his way for the blatant attempt he made to overturn the will of the people in Georgia during the 2020 election.

I know that I’m so fucking relieved right now that we don’t have a narcissistic wannabe mobster in the White House anymore.

Happy Inauguration Day, everyone.

stuff what I’m writing in 2021

This is not a complete list, partly due to one project that I signed an NDA about and therefore can’t mention yet, partly due to the fact that new projects are always showing up, and partly due to one particular project that I’m not ready to talk about in public yet, but which we should be announcing by the end of the month when the Kickstarter launches.

But here’s what I know of mine that will come out in the new year.

Feat of Clay (The Bram Gold Adventures Book 2)

The second novel in my urban fantasy series about a guy from the Bronx who hunts monsters, this sequel to 2019’s A Furnace Sealed will see Bram Gold recovering from the events of the first book while having to relive a tragedy from his past and also battle a dragon. I’m hoping to have this out by the late summer from WordFire Press.

Systema Paradoxa Volume 4: All-the-Way House

This novella is part of a series of stories about cryptids. This should be out in the summer from NeoParadoxa. More details to come, but I can say that it takes place in the same universe as the Bram Gold Adventures.

“Unguarded” in Horns and Halos, edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail & John L. French

Another story in the Bram Gold Adventures setting, this features another supernatural hunter-for-hire Yolanda Rodriguez (first seen in “Materfamilias” in 2020’s Bad Ass Moms) dealing with a set of Muslim angels who are being kept from their appointed task. This should be out some time in the spring from eSpec Books.

“Ragnarok and a Hard Place”

This is a tale of Cassie Zukav, weirdness magnet, that I crowdfunded (alongside “The Gorvangin Rampages”) in late 2019, and which I really do intend to write before too long. Hoping to have that out to supporters in the spring as well. This story will have both Loki and Odin returning to Key West just in time for the end of the world.

“Transcript of the Mayoral Debate Between Batman and the Penguin: ‘Hizzoner the Penguin’/’Dizzoner the Penguin'” in BIFF! BAM! EEE-YOW!: The Subterranean Blue Grotto Guide to Batman ’66–Season Two, edited by Jim Beard

Having done the first appearance of the Penguin in the season one volume, I turn my attention to one of Batman ’66’s best satires, when Penguin ran for mayor and Batman ran against him. In this case, I provide commentary on the episode by showing the full text of the candidates’ make-up debate, after the first was postponed in the episode in question. This should be out in the spring from Crazy 8 Press.

Phoenix Precinct

This is more a hope than a definitive statement, but I really do want to get the sixth novel in my fantasy/police procedure series out from eSpec Books in 2021. This may not happen — it will depend on a lot of other outside factors — but I’m going to do my damnedest. This novel will see unrest in the Albinton section of Cliff’s End, the neighborhood that was constructed to accommodate refugees from Barlin after that city-state suffered a catastrophic fire.

Down These Mean Streets in Spider-Man: The Darkest Hours Omnibus

In the spring of 2021, Titan will put out The Darkest Hours, an omnibus that will reprint three Spider-Man novels from the mid-2000s: the titular book by Jim Butcher, Drowned in Thunder by Christopher L. Bennett, and my own Down These Mean Streets, as Spider-Man must deal with a new designer drug that not only gets people high, it temporarily gives them super-powers…

“Incident at Kraav III” in Star Trek Adventures

I’m not 100% sure this will come out this year from Modiphius, or that this will remain the title, but I have written the first draft of this Klingon-focused game module for STA and I’m hoping that it will come together this year.

The Lone Gunmen: ‘The Lying Game’—Mitch Pileggi Gets a Call from His Agent in 2000,” Outside In Wants to Believe: 158 Unique Perspectives on 158 Ten Thirteen Stories by 158 Authors, edited by Stacey Smith?

This is the second of the Outside In volumes to cover the “Chris Carter”-verse, following Outside In Trusts No One, which covered the first six seasons of The X-Files, as well as its spiritual prequel Kolchak the Night Stalker. This followup will cover seasons seven forward of The X-Files, as well as The Lone Gunmen, Millennium, and Harsh Realm. I’ll be doing the episode of TLG that Mitch Pileggi appeared in as Assistant Director Skinner.

Animal (written with Munish K. Batra, M.D., FACS)

Technically, this is already out, but it came out on the 5th of January, so it’s a 2021 book: my collaboration with Dr. Batra is a thriller about a serial killer who targets people who harm animals. It’s already gotten lots of good notices and you can get it right now from WordFire Press.

“In Earth and Sky and Sea Strange Things There Be” in Turning the Tied, edited by Jean Rabe & Robert Greenberger

This story will be in a charity anthology published by the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers in April to benefit the International Literacy Association, and will feature Ayesha, a.k.a. “she who must be obeyed,” from H. Rider Haggard’s She. and Patreon

My nonfiction writing for both these sources will continue. For, I will be continuing the Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch every Monday and Thursday, plus if any new Trek TV shows hit the air this year, I will review them. (I expect there might be a Short Treks or two, not to mention the likely launch of Prodigy.) I have a think piece or two in mind for WandaVision and hope to be reviewing both Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Justice League: The Snyder Cut in March (though right now that’s just a hope), plus in both June and December, I’ll be reviving “4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch” to cover those superhero movies released in the prior six months.

On Patreon, I still have sixteen TV series to review that I’ve watched and still haven’t written up, and there are some others I’m still in the middle of that will be added to that list. January’s movie review will be Batman: Son of the Dragon, and I will likely be reviewing Big Night and The Princess and the Frog at some point. And the monthly vignettes will definitely continue….