Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Music: Information

What am I listening to this morning? Glad you asked. Here's Eliot Sumner with Information:

Monday, January 30, 2017

Adventure Has Two Names, Actually

My father and I took the boys to the park on Sunday. I have photographs.

Firstborn relaxes on the rocks:

Firstborn charges his father:

Secondborn leaps to the rocks:

Secondborn hangs on the rocks:

Secondborn considers a nap:

Yesterday... was a good day.

Friday, January 27, 2017

In Bed

On my way into work this morning, I found a fortune (from a fortune cookie) in the pocket of my jacket. It said:

You skills will accomplish what the force of many cannot...
...in bed.

Okay, then.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Venger Needs A Better Strategy

A few years back, in a fit of nostalgia, I purchased a DVD with the first season or so of the old Dungeons & Dragons cartoon (caution: YouTube video). (You can read about the history of the show here.) Two days ago, Firstborn stumbled onto the DVD and started watching it.

The first time I re-watched it, it occurred to me that I'd badly misjudged Eric, the Cowardly Cavalier. Sure, he was obnoxious; sure, he was constantly complaining; sure, he was often trying to get the group to avoid walking directly into the most dangerous areas around. Sure, he criticized Dungeon Master for giving vague (and unhelpful) hints and riddles instead of actual guidance, and for disappearing when the group could most use his help. Thing is, he was very frequently right.

This time, watching it with the boys, it occurs to me that Venger is missing a really obvious opening. I mean, he keeps sending monsters after the kids, or setting traps for them, or using his magic to try to trick them. And I suppose, since Venger is "The Many Faces Of Evil" that such things kind of go with the job description.

But The Many Faces Of Evil would probably have gotten better results if he'd just shown up, introduced himself, and said: "Look, I think we got off on the wrong foot, and that's totally my fault. I was thinking of you as enemies, but it doesn't have to be that way. Why don't you come work for me, instead? I promise that I won't send you anywhere without telling you exactly where you're going and why. It won't just be vague riddles that cause more trouble than they prevent - I'll give you real information. At the end of the year, you turn your weapons over to me and I will see to it that you all return safely to your home. In the meantime, you'll receive generous salaries. You'll sleep in well-appointed houses - or all in one big house, if you prefer - with comfortable beds, excellent food, and hot running water. What do you say? It's all here in the contract, just sign at the bottom."

With an offer like that, I'm thinking that at least half the group would have turned on Dungeon Master in a heartbeat.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

100 Truths About Me

...Because I'm brain-dead, and I saw this on Facebook. and why not?

100 Truths about me!
1. Real name: ...Never appears online if I can help it. I grew up in the era of the Great Paranoia About The Internet. Besides, in some ways I'm more Michael Mock than I am my IRL identity.
2. Nickname: Yeah, no. I've used a few handles online (especially back in the day, when that was thing) but the closest thing I've ever had to a nickname was "the wind", which was coined by a guy on my hall in the dorm at college, because I kept appearing or leaving without him noticing. I maintain that it's not my fault that he wasn't paying attention.
3. Favorite color: Meh? Green, black, gray, silver... in roughly that order?
4. Male or female: Male, but not too worried about it.
5. Elementary school: True story - my mother had me placed in ESL for first and second grade. She knew I was a weird kid, and figured I'd do better with teachers who were busy with other things. No, I don't really get it, either. But I spent my first two years of formal schooling in a setting where half the time I didn't understand the language.
6. Middle school: An odd little private school in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex.
7. High school: An odd little private school in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. I graduated at sixteen.
8. College: Two years at one college, which I've written about here and there; then I transferred and finished up at another college (with a major in English and a minor in Anthropology - would have been the other way around if that had been possible). Then I got a Master's Degree in English. Naturally, after a couple of years of being nearly unemployable, I got a job in IT.
9.Hair color: Used to be a brown so dark it was nearly black. Now it's gray -- I blame the boys for that. I hold to the hope that this makes me look distinguished, respectable, or at least mildly reliable, but I'm not counting on it.
10. Tall or short: Almost exactly average.
11. Sweats or jeans: Cargo pants all the way, baby! (Seriously, I need the pockets. Being a father has only made this worse.)
12. Phone or camera: Are there phones that aren't cameras? I have both, regardless.
13. Health freak: No, not really. As long as my body does what I want it to do (which sometimes includes, say, climbing, and sometimes includes, say, lying around reading for hours) I'm good.
14. Orange or apple: Apple.
15. Do you have a crush on someone: I know I'm supposed to say "my wife", but actually no. What I feel for the Beautiful Woman isn't a crush, and while I occasionally get crushes on people they tend to fade pretty fast since I have no interest in actually pursuing them.
16. Guy friends or girl friends: Yes, sure, absolutely. Oddly enough, I think I have more friends (and more close friends) online than in meatspace, but the guys/girls numbers are pretty even.
17. Piercings: My left ear used to have two piercings, but they've long since grown closed.
18. Pepsi or coke: Meh. Mostly Sprite these days, and that only with rum. Tea, though. Lots and lots of tea.
19. Have you been in an airplane: Yes.
20. Have you been in a relationship: Yes.
21. Have you been in a car accident: Yes.
22. Have you been in a fist fight: Yes.
23. First piercing: Left ear. My mom was strangely appalled, considering that she'd given me permission to get it done.
24. Best Friend: At this point, the Beautiful Woman - hands down. Runner up would be one of my college friends, who appears in some of my fiction as Rook or Raven.
25. First award:...No idea. I lettered in track in my tiny-as-hell little private school. I might have won a Pinewood Derby at some point, or not. I wasn't much for awards.
26. First crush: Dorcy Siegel, who was in sixth grade while I was still in fifth IIRC. She could do a standing back flip, without mats or trampolines or anything. If you're thinking that I was probably to young to appreciate what a crush was or what to do about it at that age, you'd be absolutely right.
27. First word: I didn't speak until I was seven years old. My parents thought there was something horribly wrong with me, and kept taking me to specialists, until one night at dinner I looked at my father and said, "Pass the salt, please." Just hadn't had anything to contribute until then. (I might or might not be making this up.)
28. Any talent: Climbing. Falling and not dying. Some talent for writing, for putting things into words that resonate with other people.
29. Last person you talked to: Secondborn, age six.
30. Last person you texted: ...No idea. Probably the Beautiful Woman, but possibly my boss. Machete don't text.
31. Last person you watched a movie with: Beautiful Woman and the boys. The move was Real Genius.
32. Last thing you ate: Pizza, because I'm wild like that.
33. Last movie/ TV show you watched: I was going to put on Final Fantasy - Advent Children, but the boys found a DVD with the old Dungeons & Dragon cartoon, so we wound up watching that.
34. Last song you listened to: You Want It Darker by Leonard Cohen.
35. Last thing you bought: A dinner from Arby's for the family.
36. Last person you hugged: The Beautiful Woman
37. Food: Spicy, probably Genghis Grill (I eat there a lot)
38. Drink: Tea. If we presuppose alchohol, then I vary between rums, Irish whiskeys, and Jack Daniels - often with Sprite.
39. Bottoms: I cannot think of an answer to this that isn't wildly off-color. Pants are for wimps.
40. Flower: Man-Eating Daffodils
41. Animal: Owls, Cougars, Wolves, Tigers, Panthers, Ocelots. Plus a lot of really odd ones, like tardigrades and sea cucumbers and dimetrodons.
42. Color: Didn't we cover this already? Arguably green, but it gets darker from there.
43. Movie: No single film. I like a lot of really bad horror movies, but I have selections for Christmas, Action, Fantasy, and Science Fiction as well. If you want a single suggestion, try Solomon Kane (Sword & Sorcery) or Dead Shadows (French, Lovecraftian horror)
44. Subject: Fantasy, Science Fiction, horror, general geekery, history.
Have you ever? (Put an X in the brackets if yes.)
45. [X] fallen in love with someone
46. [X] celebrated Halloween
47. [X] Had your heart broken
48. [] went over the minutes/ texts on your phone
49. [X] had someone like you
50. [X] hated the way someone changed
51. [] got pg - Yeah, that's not mechanically possible for me, but I do have kids.
52. [] had an abortion - Ditto.
53. [X] did something you regret - Can you make to any sort of human self-awareness without doing this? Serious philosophical/theological question, here.
54. [X] broken a promise
55. [X] hid a secret
56. [X] pretend to be happy
57. [X] met someone who has changed to your life
58. [] pretended to be sick - Seems possible, but I don't think so and if I did I don't remember. Generally, when I say I'm sick it's because I'm sick.
59. [X] left the country
60. [X] tried something you normally wouldn't try and liked it - Fish. I hate fish. Turns out, as of about a decade ago, that I really like sushi though.
61. [X] cried over the silliest thing - Oh God, you have no idea. Mamma Mia. Children's movies. That moment in Saved when the mom starts getting the questions right. Lilo and Stitch, with "This is my family..." The very end of Music & Lyrics. I have no defenses, here.
62. [X] ran a mile - I ran track. A mile was trivial. Three miles was easy. 400 meters, on the other hand, was sheer hell.
63. [] gone to the beach with your best friend - Maybe? Sort of? Not really.
64. [X] gotten into an argument with your friends - Of course.
65. [X] disliked someone - FFS. Yes, of course.
66. [] stayed single for two years since the first time you had a bf/gf or been single forever - I don't think so.
67. Eating: No.
68. Drinking: Yes.
69. Listening to: More Leonard Cohen. We've moved on to Traveling Light.
70. Sitting or laying: Sitting. Easier to type this way.
71. Plans for today: It's 10:30 at night. I'm going the hell to ed.
72. Waiting for: Vast Supernatural Powers.
73. Want kids: Not any more - I have two, and they're awesome.
74. Want to get married: Not any more - married the Beautiful Woman, and she's awesome.
75. Want to travel: Yes, please.
What do you look for in a partner?
76. Lips or eyes: Eyes? If I were looking.
77. Shorter or taller: Whatever. If I were looking.
78. Younger or older: Whatever. If I were looking.
79. Romantic or spontaneous: This seems like an odd distinction. I tend to get interested in people slowly, which I don't think falls into either category. But again, that would only matter if I were still looking.
80. Trouble-maker or hesitant: I'd probably fall under "hesitant", but it's actually that I'm very, very tolerant right up to the point where I'm not.
81. Hook up or relationship: They both have their merits, but at this point I'm married and utterly devoted. I realize that to some people that means I'm a "beta" or possibly a "cuck" but those aren't people whose opinions matter.
82. Looks or personality: Fucksake. Yes. Both. I'm well aware that personality is the more fundamental, but I'm not naive enough to pretend that looks don't matter.
Have you ever:
83. Lost glasses: Oddly, no.
84. Snuck out of the house: Heh. Yes. Those were some stories.
85. Held a gun/ knife in self defense: No.
86. Killed somebody: No.
87. Broke someone's heart: Yes.
88. Been in love: Yes.
89. Cried when someone dies: Oh, HELL yes.
Do you believe in:
90. Yourself: Of course.
91. Miracles: Not in the general sense.
92. Love at first sight: Not exactly, no.
93. Heaven: No.
94. Santa Claus: Of course. I am Santa Claus (at least for one small spot in the world).
95. Aliens: Possible.
96. Ghosts/ angels: No.
97. Is there one person you really want to be with right now: Yes, and she's currently in the bathtub.
98. Do you know who your real friends are: Absolutely.
99. Do you believe in God: Not a bit of it. And that isn't a choice; it's a conclusion, based on best analysis I can make of the best information I have available.
100. Post as 100 Truths: Is this a question? I mean, yes, I did, and I've answered honestly.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


So, I'm at the stage where the horrible head cold has mostly gone away, but I'm still low on energy and have a bit of a lingering cough which is making it difficult to get a full night's sleep. I'm not sick, but I'm definitely not well yet, either. Surreal Situations should update sometime tomorrow and again on Friday. Meanwhile, I have to focus on some things here at work, and if I do get some energy back I'm going to work on the zero-draft of the Unpublished Dark Fantasy Novel. (Well, energy and time. It's the scheduling that breaks me, I swear.)

All that to say, basically, that the Blog O' Doom here may be a bit more quiet than usual.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Friday, January 20, 2017


Firstborn has been diagnosed with Strep. Secondborn work up this morning feeling incredibly stuffy, and running maybe a degree of fever (not enough to keep him out of school), so there's a decent chance he's coming down with it, too. Beautiful Wife and I have both been run down and not functioning well for the last couple of days, and I'm doing the stuffy-head-and-sore-throat bit. Neither of us seems to be running a fever (quite the opposite - my temperature was actually about 4/5 of a degree low this morning) but I have a pet theory that we've both had Strep so many times now that our immune systems just don't react with fever anymore. Yes, I realize that from a medical perspective that's probably nonsense. Nevertheless, I can't shake the suspicion...

Anyway, all that is a long-winded way of pointing out that I'm not getting a lot done, and probably won't until my sinuses quit aching and my brain starts working again.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Poem For The Inauguration

There was a bit of a kerfluffle recently when The Independent published a poem celebrating the inauguration of Donald Trump and many people mistook for something that would actually be read at the inauguration. The poem was, of course, comprehensively terrible, but I really don't think we should let that stop us. After all, the President-Elect and his team are reportedly having an embarrassingly difficult time getting anyone to perform at his inauguration. I think it behooves us, as American citizens, to step in. I think it falls to us, as patriots, to submit our own poems for the inauguration.

I have a modest example here:
There once was a fake billionaire
Who had very strange orange hair
He managed to win
By a slender margin
So thirty million folks lose healthcare

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Music: Patron Saint O' Thieves

The Rumjacks:

(Still trying to get my feet back under me - all my schedules (including writing and blogging) are off right now.)

Friday, January 13, 2017

It's not complicated.

Am I the only one who yells things at pop songs? I've been hearing Machine Gun Kelly and Camila Cabello singing "Bad Things" on the radio a lot lately, and...

Camila Cabello: {singing} "If you only knew the bad things I like / Don't think that I can explain it / What can I say, it's complicated..."

Me: {grumbling} "It's not complicated. Maybe a little kinky, but there's nothing complicated about it."

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Locals Don't Seem Friendly

The house was old and even the stones were crumbling, but it couldn't be torn down. The realtor - a young man, new to the game - knew that, but it was hard to avoid when even touching a wall would cause a few stones to fall out. But when he complained to the owner, the old man just asked: "You want to know why we can't tear it down?" The realtor had nodded. So the old man lifted his foot and stomped a hole in the wall.

Darkness took them both.

The town was a backwater nowhere in the mountains of Tennessee, a nothing stop along an obscure highway. They wouldn't have stopped there if they hadn't need gas and wanted food. They wouldn't have stayed if they hadn't emerged from the town's sole restaurant to find that someone had poked holes in the tires on their Jeep. They still might have left, except that Brian wandered off "to look at the scenery" and didn't come back. Then Tara disappeared while they were looking for Brian, and when the others met back at the truck they found that someone had keyed the paint, badly.

The locals were sullen and taciturn, and didn't answer questions except to say that they hadn't seen the missing couple, and hadn't seen anything strange. Then one of the local kids, not much younger than the college kids, said he thought that maybe their friend had gone to see the old house. The locals avoided the house, he told them, but he'd been poking around nearby and offered to take them to it. So the others went with the townie, and Michael went to the bank to ask about his missing friends and the house.

The bank manager was friendly enough, but his answers were politely evasive and his patience grew strained when Michael kept asking questions. When Michael casually asked about the old house that they'd spotted on the way into town, the manager's patience finally snapped. "You want to know what's going on?" he asked. Michael nodded firmly: of course he did.

That was when the manager's face began to change.

He had turned slightly away, and when he turned back his eyes were golden, with a double set of pupils and irises. His cheekbones bulged and pulsed, expanding as if something inside were inflating them. Then his whole face swelled, and his jawline dropped as short, wrinkled pseudopods flopped down from it. Watching this performance, Michael was suddenly convinced that it wasn't just that the man's flesh was changing: it was that something else was pushing in through him, using his body as a doorway from somewhere horribly outside. He turned and went out the door, but the manager followed. The man was still changing, and now he was reaching for Michael as well.

There were rocks in the parking lot: big chunks of fieldstone that served as parking stops. Desperate, Michael threw the manager down and smashed his head against one of them until the top of the man's head - now weirdly soft - sliced off against a sharp edge. The manager shivered once, and then lay still.

Then the rest of the group returned. The town kid was still with them, with the rest of the town - or whatever the rest of the town was now becoming - chasing them. That was when the fighting began.

In the end, they dug a pit and burned all the bodies... but even after throwing the last arm into the flames himself, Michael couldn't shake the feeling that it wasn't over yet.

Yeah, I have weird - and weirdly narrative - dreams.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Ask me anything

I've got absolutely nothing for today. So, if you're bored and want to ask me questions, I'll do my best to answer them. Or you can suggest topics. Or recommend books. Whatever, really. Fire away!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Furry Nails are apparently A Thing

Top Five Reasons to get Furry Nails:

5. You can type in complete silence.
4. You can tickle small children without touching them.
3. That one creepy guy at work? Yeah, he's not hitting on you anymore.
2. Now it's easy to dust those hard-to-reach corners.
1. They make the cat go completely insane.

No, I really have no idea...

Friday, January 6, 2017

Snippet of an Opening Scene

Somber stood in the narrow alley, looking down at the dead body, and suppressed a sigh. He was supposed to be home by now; it was almost dawn. Instead...

He looked at the man beside him. "Tivrus? I need you to go to the Watch Station while I check the body."

Tivrus was an older man, pot-bellied but solid through the arms and shoulders, wearing a hide jacket over a heavy shirt. He looked up at Somber and shook his head. "I don't believe I can."

Somber frowned, but waited.

"Check the body," said Tivrus. "That's me down there, isn't it? I'm dead."

Somber blinked, then cursed his own stupidity. No wonder he'd been sure the body was dead; no wonder he could feel death all through the narrow alleyway. The man had been killed, and his ghost had gone looking for help.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Creating Surreal Situations

Nothing over here, today. Too much is going on in real life.

However, there is a new comic up over at Surreal Situations.

And for anybody who's interested, here's a shot of how I'm currently creating the comic:

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Well, this should be interesting...

You know that feeling you get when your boss asks your other boss if he's heard the news yet, and your other boss observes that there are big changes coming, but nobody can be arsed to tell you what's going on even though it's clearly going to involve rearranging the department?


And I'm pretty sure they've both been told not to talk about it to anyone who isn't in the loop already (i.e. me) because that might be bad for morale.

Update: I went and talked to the department head (basically just walked in and asked him "What is it my boss very carefully isn't telling me?") and I may have been wrong about the reasoning on this. He seems pretty nervous about how everything was going to shake out, so it's possible that he's just trying to hit the higher-ups one at a time so they can ask questions, lodge objections, and get their primal screams out in private. He may actually be worried that if he announces a bunch of sweeping changes all at once (even though we all pretty much know they're coming, and have known for several weeks now) he'll have half the department quit on the spot.

I still don't know what's going on, though.