Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014: The Year in Stuff

Seeing as how 2014 is being put to bed, I find myself prone to the same backward-glancing rumination as your average navel-gazing creative type. Turns out, 2014 was a more happening year than it seemed to me at first. And not just because I went on an Irish honeymoon with my lovely wife in May, which was amazing. Here are a few things I've been up to over the past few months:

-A chapter on time-travel music that I wrote appeared in Ann and Jeff VanderMeer's latest anthology, The Time Traveler's Almanac (Tor Books). I also did a reading/signing with my table-of-contents-mates Carrie Vaughn and Connie Willis, which was beyond an honor.

-I wrote a Goosebumps book for Scholastic that will tie into the Goosebumps movie next year.

-In addition to reviewing a bunch of books for, I wrote my first music article for them: a piece about the Bedhead box set.

-I wrote a ton of stuff for Pitchfork, including dozens of music reviews and longer pieces on John Fahey, Sun Ra, Steve Albini, and Peter Bebergal's great new book, Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll.

-Over at The A.V. Club, I finished my year-long series on '90s punk, Fear Of A Punk Decade, as well as lots of other assorted malarkey, including pieces on Dragonlance, The Black Hole, Lev Grossman, and China Mieville.

-I started writing for Entertainment Weekly, and there I rambled on about everything from Margaret Atwood to Marianne Faithfull, and from steampunk to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

-My alma mater, Clarkesworld Magazine, ran a couple essays of mine, including one I'm really proud of: a piece about growing up geek and poor.

-I launched a monthly science-fiction film series at Alamo Drafthouse Denver called Science Friction, which I curate and host along with my old friend Frank Romero, cofounder of Denver Comic Con. Fantasy author Jesse Bullington filled in as my cohost a few times, and those two guys are the best.

-I wrote a couple short stories that will be published in 2015: "Of Homes Gone," a surreal science-fiction tale, for the relaunch of Farrago's Wainscot, and "The Projectionist," a dreamy horror story for Nightmares Unhinged, an anthology from Hex Publishers.

-I finished an extensive revision of the first draft of my middle-grade science-fiction novel, Lullaby Underground, and got some great interest and feedback from a certain editor who shall remain nameless, but who rocks. I'm giving it one more rewrite, and from there, fingers crossed.

-I lined up a few awesome things for 2015, including editing an anthology with the great S. J. Chambers, co-author with Jeff VanderMeer of The Steampunk Bible; contributing to another excellent book by an editor/author already mentioned; and being part of a novel-writing workshop in the summer of '15 with a handful of amazing writers, which will take place in the house of a Very Famous Author (tease, tease).

-I got a new tattoo: Bubo from Clash Of The Titans.

-For the 42nd year in a row, I didn't kill anyone.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Best albums: 2010-2014

Over at Pitchfork today, our list of the top 100 albums of the first half of the decade, 2010-2014, has been posted. I got to write the entries for #60 (PJ Harvey's Let England Shake), #50 (Godspeed You! Black Emperor's Allelujah! Don't Bend Ascend!), and #28 (My Bloody Valentine's mbv). Along with the rest of Pitchfork's contributors, I submitted a ballot of my own personal top 100 albums from 2010-2014 before the master list was made. In the interest of transparency, discourse, and why-the-fuck-not, here's my ballot:

  1. Deafheaven: Sunbather
  2. Swans: The Seer
  3. Jesu: Ascension
  4. The Men: Open Your Heart
  5. Locrian: Return to Annihilation
  6. White Lung: Deep Fantasy
  7. Pallbearer: Sorrow and Extinction
  8. Iceage: New Brigade
  9. My Bloody Valentine: mbv
  10. Fucked Up: David Comes to Life
  11. Cult of Youth: Love Will Prevail
  12. Wolves in the Throne Room: Celestial Lineage
  13. PJ Harvey: Let England Shake
  14. Circle Takes the Square: Decompositions: Volume Number One
  15. Sunn O))) / Ulver: Terrestrials
  16. Prurient: Bermuda Drain
  17. Joanna Newsom: Have One on Me
  18. Liturgy: Aesthethica
  19. Godspeed You! Black Emperor: Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!
  20. Chelsea Wolfe: Pain Is Beauty
  21. Ty Segall: Sleeper
  22. Titus Andronicus: The Monitor
  23. Mamiffer: Mare Decendrii
  24. Waxahatchee: Cerulean Salt
  25. Metz: Metz
  26. SubRosa: More Constant Than the Gods
  27. Protomartyr: Under Color of Official Right
  28. Bill Callahan: Dream River
  29. Deafheaven: Roads to Judah
  30. Speedy Ortiz: Major Arcana
  31. Merchandise: Children of Desire
  32. Loma Prieta: I.V.
  33. David Bowie: The Next Day
  34. Converge: All We Love We Leave Behind
  35. Agalloch: Marrow of the Spirit
  36. Marissa Nadler: July
  37. Earth: Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light 1
  38. Code Orange Kids: Love is Love/Return to Dust
  39. No Age: Everything in Between
  40. Destruction Unit: Deep Trip
  41. Ceremony: Rohnert Park
  42. Swans: My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky
  43. Inter Arma: Sky Burial
  44. Pianos Become the Teeth: The Lack Long After
  45. Perfect Pussy: Say Yes to Love
  46. YOB: Atma
  47. Lower: Seek Warmer Climes
  48. Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra: Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything
  49. Self Defense Family: Try Me
  50. Lycus: Tempest
  51. Japandroids: Celebration Rock
  52. Trap Them: Darker Handcraft
  53. Kinit Her: The Poet & the Blue Flower
  54. Cult Ritual: LP1
  55. Screaming Females: Ugly
  56. The Haxan Cloak: Excavation
  57. Tombs: Path of Totality
  58. Cold Cave: Cherish the Light Years
  59. Krallice: Diotima
  60. Priests: Bodies and Control and Money and Power
  61. The Body: I Shall Die Here
  62. P.S. Eliot: Sadie
  63. Thursday: No Devolucion
  64. Swans: To Be Kind
  65. Tigers Jaw: Charmer
  66. Arctic Flowers: Reveries
  67. Year of the Goat: Angels’ Necropolis
  68. York Factory Complaint: Lost in the Spectacle
  69. Savages: Silence Yourself
  70. Horseback: Half Blood
  71. White Suns: Totem
  72. Total Abuse: Mutt
  73. Cloud Rat: Moksha
  74. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart: Belong
  75. Emma Ruth Rundle: Some Heavy Ocean
  76. High on Fire: De Vermis Mysteriis
  77. Have a Nice Life: The Unnatural World
  78. Amebix: Sonic Mass
  79. Wild Flag: Wild Flag
  80. Barn Owl: Ancestral Star
  81. Touche Amore: Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me
  82. Neil Young / Crazy Horse: Psychedelic Pill
  83. Fear of Men: Loom
  84. Windhand: Soma
  85. The Saddest Landscape: You Will Not Survive
  86. Barren Harvest: Subtle Cruelties
  87. Pissed Jeans: Honeys
  88. La Dispute: Rooms of the House
  89. Taurus: No/Thing
  90. The Soft Moon: The Soft Moon
  91. Pig Destroyer: Book Burner
  92. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists: The Brutalist Bricks
  93. Rush: Clockwork Angels
  94. Baroness: Yellow & Green
  95. Bob Mould: Silver Age
  96. Oranssi Pazuzu: Velonielu
  97. Planning For Burial: Desideratum
  98. Blood and Sun: White Storms Fall
  99. Russian Circles: Empros
  100. Ex Hex: Rips

Friday, March 21, 2014

Reading this Sunday: The Time Traveler's Almanac

I am once again pinching myself. The Time Traveler's Almanac, the definitive anthology of time travel fiction, just came out via Tor Books, and I am honored to be a part of it. My essay, "Music for Time Travelers," is one of the pieces of nonfiction commissioned for the book by its award-winning editors Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, and I'm pretty proud of it. To commemorate the release of this massive book, its three Colorado-based contributors--Connie Willis, Carrie Vaughn, and I--will be reading from and signing copies of The Almanac this Sunday, March 23, at Denver's Broadway Book Mall at 3 p.m. The event is free, so if you're in the area, stop on by and say hi. In the meantime, check out a couple interviews I did in advance of the reading for Westword and The Denver Post. You can also read the preface of the book, written by the VanderMeers themselves, over at The A.V. Club. Meanwhile I'll be over here pinching myself some more.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Some Interesting Facts About Words

-A word can grow only so long, but the largest word ever found was in South Africa and measured 22 feet.

-A word has no arms, legs, or eyes.

-Words live where there is food, moisture, oxygen, and a favorable temperature. If they don’t have these things, they go somewhere else.

-In one acre of land, there can be more than a million words.

-Slime, which words secrete, contains nitrogen.

-Charles Darwin spent 39 years studying words more than 100 years ago.

-Words are coldblooded.

-Words have the ability to replace or replicate lost segments. This ability varies greatly depending on the amount of damage to the word and where it is cut.

-Words are not born. They hatch from cocoons smaller than a grain of rice.

-Even though words don’t have eyes, they can sense light, especially at their anterior (front end). They move away from light and will become paralyzed if exposed to light for too long.

-Words are hermaphrodites. Each word has both male and female organs. Words mate by joining their clitella (swollen area near the head of a mature word) and exchanging sperm. Then each word forms an egg capsule in its clitellum.

-Words can eat their weight each day.

-If a word’s skin dries out, it will die.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

On Growing Up Geek and Poor

I wrote an essay for the new issue of Clarkesworld Magazine about growing up disadvantaged and also a fan of science fiction/fantasy. It was a hard one to write. But the issue of socioeconomic diversity in SFF is one I've thought a lot about over the years, and while I'm happy to see the issue get more traction lately, I also feel it tends to get discussed in abstract terms rather than human ones. In any case, thanks in advance for checking it out.