Friday, 7 March 2014 • 0 comments
Today at National Geographic’s Energy Blog, I have a story about Bridgeport’s environmentalist-on-environmentalist dog pile over a plan to situate a 9,000-panel solar array atop the landfill in Seaside Park:
Torres believes the solar project should be sited elsewhere in the city. “It does not belong in a park. It belongs on any of the countless, countless unused or massively underutilized land owned by the city.”
According to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), Bridgeport has 17 brownfield sites totaling more than 185 acres. This doesn’t include any number of non-polluted but abandoned lots and buildings in Bridgeport, a phenomenon so ubiquitous that Connecticut Yankee Seth MacFarlane once used it to zing the city on Family Guy.
Anybody who’s ever driven through Little-Detroit-on-the-Sound knows the city does not lack space for projects such as this. The real issue, of course, is that Bport doesn’t own any of those brownfields or derelict factories, so they’d have to lay some currency on the countertop before they could even think about siting the array anywhere but on park land. UIL sure as hell isn’t going to buy real estate for renewables.
Friday, 28 February 2014 • 0 comments
My friend and Ithaca College writing professor Cory Brown wrote to me about a new project of his, wicked haiku: a devil’s dictionary, wherein he posts cynical verse daily. Some of my favorites:
the gift from two holes
the ass who lent it to you
and the one you’re in
the little cabin
in the woods you built before
it all fell apart
a sometimes lethal
virus that you wish happy
people would contract
Every one of them is a sharp little piece of glass; Cory tells me he has over 700 more waiting to be scattered across the city sidewalk. And if it turns out you like poetry but didn’t even know it-tree, Cory also has a book you might enjoy.
Sunday, 19 January 2014 • 0 comments
Never heard of Bill Ward? It’s your loss, though understandable. Despite having appeared in such pubs as Howard Andrew Jones’s Flashing Swords, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Kaleidotrope, and enough anthologies to burst an equort’s saddlebags, Ward remains shamefully underrated and unknown in the genre community.
Part of the handicap lies in the fact that as a short-story writer much of his work has appeared on paper rather than Paperwhite, which in modern times cockblocks discovery. Recently though, Bill collected and re-published his fiction as five e-books, each affordably priced at $3.99. Such value!
Interestingly my short story backlist sort of naturally fell into 30k-ish sized chunks of themed stories. There are two collections that are mostly heroic fantasy, sword & sorcery, or dark fantasy, those being ‘The Last of His Kind and Other Stories’ and ‘Mightier Than the Sword and Other Stories.’ ‘Heartless Gao Walks Number Nine Hell and Other Stories’ collects mostly ‘mythic’ type pieces, stories that are written in a style more akin to fables or legends. I also had enough for two science fiction collections, divided roughly into ‘naughty’ and ‘nice.’ On the naughty side we have ‘Named in Blood and Other Stories’ which is darker, grimmer stuff; ’20,000 Light Years to Lilliput and Other Stories’ is a funnier collection, less serious, and a bit more all over the place genre-wise.
Having previously purchased a copy of Heartless Gao (which at that point only contained the titular story), Bill sent me a copy of the expanded Heartless Gao Walks Number Nine Hell and Other Stories. Included are nine fantasies set in days of yore. Lust for wealth and the daughters of oracles drowns whole Hyperborean landscapes in “The Wroeth’s Grinding Bowl” and “The Old Man and the Mountain of Fire,” while Irish legends echo in “The Midnight Maiden” and “When They Come to Murder Me.” The Aesopic “How Antkind Lost Its Soul” satirizes corporate cubicle-copia; likewise, the repentant soldier-turned-monk Heartless Gao takes on the bureaucracy of a Chinese afterlife in the very clever and very worthwhile namesake tale. My favorites are the collection’s two bookends, “Gandolo of the Watchful Eye” and “Crow: A Triptych,” the first a rich sardonicism combining the best of Clark Ashton Smith and Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar, the other an arc reaching from classical Greece to post-apocalypticism.
I wish Bill would write more, especially in the “Gandolo” style. His dry humor is rare among fantasists (you can hear the laugh track when most writers combine labyrinths and levity) and his stories are almost always whole narratives — you know, those things with beginnings and middles and conclusions — rather than the pretty scenes strung together in literary ostentation seen so commonly in the pro markets. Please consider this humble recommendation when spending your Christmas Kindle gift cards.
Wednesday, 1 January 2014 • 0 comments
O Jackson, where art thou? you may ask yourself while stopping by this blog only to see it hasn’t been updated, like, again.
My absence from this blog, from writing, from even my own life has been due to my greatest historical project ever. In June, Mrs. Kuhl was out for a walk when she saw a For Sale By Owner sign. Next thing I knew, we were buying and restoring a dilapidated 1899 Dutch colonial revival. It was a horror movie from the beginning — most banks didn’t want to touch it. So we spent the summer assembling the financing while simultaneously evicting the then-current residents, a tenacious family of raccoons. Only after three months of hair-pulling and tooth-grinding did the real renovation begin. Applications for historical appropriateness. Demolition. Tree removal. Wallpaper removal. New kitchens and baths and windows and doors. Repair of rot and gaping holes in walls. Conversion to natural gas from oil, which had replaced the original natural gas. Painting and trim work. Landscaping and clean-up. And we still have about three months to go.
There aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything needing doing. But at least when I jump out of bed running, I land in a nice house.
Friday, 15 November 2013 • 0 comments
I’ve been so busy I forgot to tout my latest assignment: writing a monthly column on dinosaurs for Dig.
The first column ran in the October issue. The November/December ish (at right) weighs the evidence of whether Triceratops was a separate species or just a baby Torosaurus. In coming months I will discuss why there’s no such thing as a raptor, T-rex’s teeth, if Spinosaurus actually had a sail-like fin on its back, and whether Pachycephalosaurus was a butthead.
Though you wouldn’t know it from the column’s title, Blogosaurus is only available in print or e-book. Alas, all of my suggestions for names were ixnayed; christening credit goes to the editor of Dig‘s sister magazine, Appleseeds. Some of my rejected titles included:
- Don’t Take That Bone With Me Young Man
- Do or Do Not, There Is No Triceratops
- Mr. Gorbachev Ptero Down This Wall!
- Diloph the Phone, Mom
- That Was No Lady, That Was My Rex-Wife
Friday, 1 November 2013 • 0 comments
During the American Revolution, the sailors of “armed boats” who raided the shores of Long Island didn’t play around:
“[T]wo boates crossed on the fourteenth instant,” wrote Caleb Brewster to New York governor George Clinton in the summer of 1781. “[They] went up about twelve at night to the houses of Capt. Ebenezer Miller and Andrew Miller, demanded entrance which was granted, as soon as the door was opened they demanded his arms which he gave up; his son hearing a noise below stairs got up out of bed shoved up the chamber windo. One of the party without ever speaking to him, shot him dead in the windo …”
Something to consider is why the whaleboats — even the officially commissioned whaleboats — were so prone to abuse. The Connecticut records show little evidence of similar complaints about the privateers or either the state or Continental navies. Did the smaller complements (7-10 men) on the whaleboats or the lower costs of entry — a boat and a £2,000 bond (or not) — attract less honorable sailors nobody else would hire? Or were most sailors already inclined to dastardly deeds and only the officers of the larger vessels kept them disciplined?