Purgatory Promo

Purgatory cover final smDownload the promo for the free serialized podcast of the supernatural comedy novel PURGATORY

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Baseball: Visiting the Home of the Enemy

Sometimes, Democrats pay visits to Republicans. Dog people reach out to cat people. A Hatfield buys a beer for a McCoy. In that same spirit, I on occasion pay a visit to that hive of villainy, the Death Star of the Bronx, home to all that draws the impressionable to the Dark Side.

That’s right, I went to a game at Yankee Stadium this afternoon.

I know what you’re thinking: That I’ll have to go to confession or something before I try to attend another Red Sox game at Fenway. Still, my youngest son has somehow grown up a Yankee fan (I haven’t ruled out DNA testing to confirm paternity.) I blame his mother’s insidious influence for this. In any case, today was the last day of the Yanks’ home stand; they hit the road after today until Aug. 6 (when the Red Sox come to town to administer a proper thrashing.) And so it was that we left Vermont after my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding yesterday and drove for a couple of hours so we would be that much closer to New York this morning, enabling us to make a timely arrival at the new baseball palace on East 161st Street. Hey, it’s a dad thing.

I’ve got to say, it’s a pretty amazing stadium. Modern but still with some of those old-fashioned touches, like the signature facade from the Yankee Stadium of old. The seats were very comfortable and the restrooms clean. The food and drink prices stopped just short of blatant robbery. Our “assigned” seats were in Section 307, in the deck second from the top directly behind the right field foul pole. My youngest and I started the game up there. My wife has issues with sitting very high up at sporting events, so she remained downstairs with my middle son. We had a terrific view, though the intense sun (yes, it does come out on occasion this summer) made me a little sleepy. However, sometime around the third inning, I received a text message summoning us downstairs to Section 125. It seems my wife had fanagled four seats there for us, directly across from third base on the lowest level. This gave an even better view for those of us actually interested in baseball and a fine perspective for the person among us whose primary interest was Derek Jeter’s physique.

The day was far from perfect, in that the Yankees prevailed over the Oakland A’s, 7-5. Worse, the Red Sox’ continuing experiment with John Smoltz suffered a setback as the Orioles beat them, 6-2. This allowed the Yankees to add a game to their lead in the A.L. East. However, my son got to see his pitching role model, Mariano Rivera, come in and save the game for the Yanks, and that’s really what he wanted to see. So, I’m glad for him. That said, I hope the Red Sox slap Rivera silly when they visit the Bronx in August.

On Tuesday we check out the Mets’ new home, CitiField, in Queens. I’ll post an in-depth, quality comparison of the two facilities that will contemplate an analysis of ambiance, quality of views, and customer service. Or it may just depend on the selection and price of beer. Either way, you’ll get my thoughts, such as they may be.

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OK, my kid brother got married today. To put that in context, he’s 36 — not exactly a kid anymore. Still, since I turned 48 two weeks ago, and I have very clear memories of the day he & my mother came home from the hospital, part of me is still thinking, “Isn’t he a little young to be getting married?”

Obviously, the answer is no. He and his new bride are crazy about each other and about the little girl of whom they are, legally-speaking, foster parents and whom they want to adopt. He’s a successful salesman and she’s a kindergarten teacher, which qualifies her, among other things, to understand the dynamics of the New York State Senate. But I digress…

They got married on a mountaintop in the Green Mountains of Vermont. You could see clear across Lake Champlain to the Adirondacks in New York from up there (with the help of a guide, I was able to pick out Whiteface Mountain, near Lake Placid.) The bride walked down the aisle as my brother played his guitar and sang Thank You, a song from Led Zeppelin’s second album, making this the first wedding ceremony I’ve ever attended that featured music from Led Zep. A friend of theirs officiated the ceremony with a mixture of dignity and good humor. My niece read a Maya Angelou poem, and then it was time for the couple to recite their vows, which they wrote. My brother literally had everyone in tears. He is a superb writer; I wish he would podcast some of his fiction. The first time I read one of his horror pieces, I informed him that, for the first time in my life, I was a little afraid of him. Sigler would have been proud.

The bride, too, recited a very emotional and heartfelt vow. It really was one of the sweetest wedding ceremonies I’ve ever attended. The reception was held in the backyard of two of their friends, complete with a bluegrass band led by a 12 year-old fiddle prodigy. This girl looks like an average American middle-schooler and plays the fiddle like she’s been practicing every day for a couple of decades. All in all, a very intimate, fun, and touching day.

Pat and Sonia, you have all my love and best wishes for long and happy lives together. PS In honor of your wedding, the Red Sox beat the Orioles today, 7-2.

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Some Thoughts About the Passing of Two Stars

I feel compelled this morning to write something about the deaths yesterday of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. Let me say right off the bat that these sad events are not about me or you or any of their fans; they’re about the individuals themselves and the people who knew and loved them. My thoughts and prayers today are with their souls and the people who are grieving them.

Having said that, I’ll now proceed to make this about me — specifically, my memories of them. For Farrah Fawcett, my memories begin and end with The Poster, and if you were a teenager in the mid- to late-70s, you know exactly what I’m talking about. She was an insanely gorgeous blonde in her late 20s; I was an adolescent white boy. Need I say more? I shared a bedroom with my brother Rick, and one of us hung that poster on the wall; I honestly don’t remember which one of us it was (it could well have been me.) I really have no memories of her as an actress; I’m sure I must have watched Charlie’s Angels, but I don’t remember a single episode. I understand from the tributes I read yesterday that she was able to transcend the eye candy image with her later movie roles. More important, I think, is the courage she showed in the last months of her life, especially the TV documentary that aired last month. I know how rotten I look when I have a head cold; she let cameras film her as she was fighting cancer, when she felt a million times worse. Don’t underestimate how hard that must have been for her.

With Michael Jackson, I remember the Jackson 5 Saturday morning cartoon. I remember when I was 10 or so, I got a small paperback about the Jackson 5 from one of those book orders kids get in school. When I was in sixth grade, my homeroom teacher used to give us a half-hour or so once in a while to spin records and just hang out. Someone used to play Michael Jackson’s record Ben over and over. It remains one of my favorites of his, even if it was the title song for a movie about a rat.

Flash forward to 1983. I moved to Washington, D.C. for my last semester of college to do an internship and lived there for a year after graduation. Michael Jackson’s Thriller album was the soundtrack for that summer. This morning, I heard the opening seconds of Want To Be Starting Something and I was instantly transported back to that humid Washington summer. It’s hard to overstate how ubiquitous his music was in 1983-84. The album produced seven hit singles, and I still know most of them about as well as I know my own pulse. He was, at that time and at age 25, probably the most idolized man in America.

Like so many others, I lost track of him in ensuing years. His follow-ups to Thriller were progressively less successful, at least in terms of airplay. I bought a copy of the Bad album for my wife during her first pregnancy; unfortunately, she listened to it during her morning sickness period and forever after associated that music with nausea, so it seldom got played after that. His reported eccentric behavior made me wonder what exactly was going on with him, though I tried to keep in mind the remote possibility that the media might just be distorting the story a smidge. The things we know for certain, that he had young boys at his home for sleepovers, showed incredibly poor judgment. The molestation trial, on charges for which he was acquitted, was an almost inevitable result of that. And anyone who has ever been a parent (and a good many who haven’t) still shudder at the video of him dangling his infant child over a hotel balcony railing in Berlin. It was an unbelievably reckless thing to do.

Still, how much did any of us really know about Michael Jackson? He lived his entire life with a spotlight on him. If I couldn’t drive to the mall without attracting a crowd, I’d get a little weird within about 10 days. He lived that way from age 11 on. So those of us who used to make him the butt of jokes (I plead guilty) should be rethinking our behavior today.

We lost yesterday two very talented people at young ages. Farrah was only 62, and Michael was but 50, and since I’m only a couple of years from 50 myself, I really feel that 50 is very young. Today, I’m not not feeling quite so young. Two parts of my youth left the stage for good, one of them very unexpectedly. Two more very important reminders of how fleeting and precious each day is.

Rest in peace, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson.

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Personal Effects: Dark Art

I am posting this shamefully late, but I cannot let June 9 pass by without spreading the word about Personal Effects: Dark Art, the debut novel from podcast novelist extroardinaire J.C. Hutchins and Jordan Weisman. I went in search of this highly anticipated title at my local bookstores today (trying to support local business, you understand) and was foiled. No good deed goes unpunished. I’ll try again tomorrow before I start mouse-clicking.

In any case, this work sounds like nothing I’ve ever read before. It comes equipped with all kinds of extras that give clues to the story, web sites, e-mail addresses, phone numbers. It sounds more like an immersion than a mere book.

Some of the brightest lights in podcast fiction put together this video trailer. Take a few minutes to watch. Get yourself good and creeped out. Then go out and buy it. As Hutch would say about his novel of an art therapist in a psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane:

“Get Committed.”

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Free PDF of Nina Kimberly the Merciless

This is it! Christiana Ellis’s rib-splitting fantasy novel Nina Kimberly the Merciless is on sale NOW at Amazon.com. If you haven’t heard the audio version and you want to check it out before you pull out your credit card, download the free PDF version. I defy anyone to read the first line and not want to read more.

Wait no longer…help push Nina Kimberly up the Amazon charts. Support podcast fiction!

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Heartwarming Stories Episode #3: Another Satisfied Customer

Another Satisfied CustomerBusiness can sometimes be ruthless. The trick is to figure out who is being ruthless to whom.

This story first appeared in the November 2006 issue of Down in the Dirt Magazine.

Artwork by Michael Wilson


Personal Effects: Sword of Blood
Nina Kimberly the Merciless

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Video Promos: Nina Kimberly the Merciless

On May 15, Christiana Ellis’ debut novel Nina Kimberly the Merciless hits bookstores. In preparation for the big day, Christiana commissioned Steven Spielberg and the special effects wizards at LucasFilms to create two promotional videos. These videos are rumored to have cost in excess of $10 million each to produce, although Christiana has refused to comment on that. In any case, I would be remiss if I failed to drop these into the feed.

The first video features our heroine fending off a group of ruthless vampires. Will Nina have to turn up the heat?

The second one features a snarling, bloodthirsty werewolf. Viewer discretion is advised.

They just don’t make films like this anymore.

Anyway, be sure to visit Amazon.com on Friday, May 15, and order a copy (or two…or three) of Nina Kimberly the Merciless. Support podcast fiction and treat yourself to a magical tale about a beautiful barbarian, a king with the IQ of plant life, a dragon with a sense of social justice, and a handsome Robin Hood for hire. Visit ninakimberly.com to find out more.

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Short Story: Rental Car

forestnightA businessman rents a car that has a story to tell.

Music during the vision sequences:
Reading the Leaves (By Moonlight) by Falling You
Courtesy of Magnatune.com

Promo: Great Hites

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Short Story: Hospitality


The warm greeting two space explorers get from the natives on a strange planet turns out to be more than they bargained for.


Balticon 43

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