Birthday! 2017 recap, recommendations, general whatsits

Hello. Been a while.

Shall we discuss 2017?

  Credit: Pexels

Credit: Pexels

First order of business: What happened to those horror quotes you were posting, Ethan? Well, I’ll tell you: I had scheduled out 31 horror quotes, one for every day of the spookiest month, but about the ides of October I succumbed to the Captain Trips-style illness that’s been floating about Michigan all year. It took probably six weeks to get over that plague, and I’m just now alive enough to focus on this kind of thing again. I don’t want to leave you totally without, though, so here’s the quote I was going to post on Hallowe’en:

“In the city of New York the summer of 1899 was signalized by the dismantling of the Elevated Railroads. The summer of 1900 will live in the memories of New York people for many a cycle; the Dodge Statue was removed in that year. In the following winter began that agitation for the repeal of the laws prohibiting suicide which bore its final fruit in the month of April, 1920, when the first Government Lethal Chamber was opened on Washington Square.” - Robert Chambers, "The Repairer of Reputations", in The King in Yellow (1895).

This is not the opening paragraph of ‘Repairer,” as the opening section is exceedingly long. The paragraph above, though, is the real beginning to one of my favorite cosmic horror shorts of all time, and it paints an acutely bizarre picture: Government Lethal Chambers? Repeal of suicide laws? You’ve got me curious! As the story develops, it emerges that all of this is tied to that mysterious, banned script: “The King in Yellow.” I suggest reading it.

The story, not the play. I don’t want you driven mad.

Except you>glare

Speaking of “The King in Yellow,” how about we discuss how 2017 has gone?


Big year for writing! I wrote a novella of sorts, Smilin’ Jaq in: The Obelisk Pit, which is available on this very website for free! Free! I started re-reading it recently and, apart from stylistic choices issues I may or may not revise, it’s a pretty good yarn!

I’ve also reached a stable draft of a novel? That’s so weird to think and say. It’s currently in the hands of a couple of beta-readers who will give me feedback. Humans are reading my writing. So weird.

But now for the big news. The real one. Effective this year, I am to be actually, really published, in the forthcoming short story collection Corporate Cthulhu. The collection is set within the mythos popularized by H.P. Lovecraft, with a focus on bringing the style to the corporate world. My story, “The Shadows Lengthen in the Close,” draws not on Lovecraft but on Chambers, and “The King in Yellow.” The play.

See? That transition up there was the good kind, where it’s about me being published, not the bad kind, where it’s about the collapse of the United States and the imminent installation of Government Lethal Chambers.


Oh holy hell and a hot dog, this has been a rockin’ year for theatre. I spent damn near all of this year working with the Brass Tacks Ensemble, an Ann Arbor area theatre group, as part of the 2017 Troupe, an experiment in which about fifteen actors and assistant directors (I was both) worked on a series of Shakespeare productions. We learned, we worked, we laughed, we probably cried more than was strictly necessary, thanks to Karen. I’m going to miss that group. Where did these raindrops on my face come from.

Also, as part of the troupe, I performed one of the most terrifying and significant roles of my life to date: Shylock. Who the hell let a 26 year old play Shylock? No idea, but after one of the performances a Jewish man from Israel shook my hand and thanked me for my performance, and even my anxiety and impostor syndrome have difficulty denying that one. It was also my first paid role. Also weird.

We also performed Measure for Measure, which is probably one of the most important plays I’ve done, and Much Ado about Nothing, in which I sang in public for the first time. Also weird. Weird year.

Next year will see advancement in the sense that I will be directing a full-length production in a non-academic setting, for the first time. I’ll be directing The 39 Steps, based on the novel and the Hitchcock film, although that may be subject to change.


The world is on fire and the administration leading the U.S. federal government is an amoral beacon of despair. Also the fucking Nazis are back and that is just not what I wanted to have to deal with? Like, I thought we were done with them.

However, I cried the day after Danica Roem, Ravinder Bhalla, Andrea Jenkins, and so many more were elected because it was a strong sign that maybe we can come back from this.

Some Recommendations.

I’m posting this on my birthday, therefore you’re morally obligated to listen to me. Right? Sure. That’s why I’m going to make some recommendations! The focus of these is pretty specific though: each of these recommendations is a book created by someone that I would never have found if I didn’t use Twitter.

Twitter might be a distressing hive of scum and villainy, and it’s administrators have much to answer for, but it’s also the social media network that has granted the most direct benefit to me. It enables communication, and I’m glad that it led me to discovering the following creators.

You may take this as my thinly veiled statement of support for preserving net neutrality regulations.

Atlanta Burns by Chuck Wendig (@chuckwendig) helped me understand how writing in the present tense can break down the reader’s safeties and enhance the sense of urgency and stress of a piece of writing. I had never considered present tense before reading Wendig, and I’m so damn glad I did. The Miriam Black books also kick ass.

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay (@paulGtremblay) is the scariest piece of media I have ever consumed. When I remember the ending, I get chills. It just narrowly edges out Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House as my favorite horror novel.

The Old Man’s War series by John Scalzi (@scalzi) is the first novel series that I’ve read straight through, do not pause, do not pass go.

Kim & Kim, written by Magazine (er, Magdalene) Visaggio (@magsvisaggs) is a funny, fast-paced bounty hunting comic in which trans characters are prominent and not victimized. If that isn’t sufficient to sell you, I don’t know why you’re here.


I don’t benefit from recommending any of the things I linked here, but if you want to help me out you could buy me a coffee. Also, check out Amazon Smile, which automatically contributes a portion of your Amazon purchases to the non-prof of your choice...why not the Brass Tacks Ensemble?

And that’s it for now. Trying, as ever, to post more here. Enjoy? Check out my twitter for dumb stuff.

October 2017: Gorey

"A is for Amy who fell down the stairs"
Edward Gorey, The Gashlycrumb Tinies - 1963

"Mr C(lavius) F(rederick) Earbrass is, of course, the well-known novelist. Of his books, 'A Moral Dustbin,' 'More Chains than Clank,' 'Was it Likely?,' and the Hipdeep trilogy are, perhaps, the most admired. Mr Earbrass is seen on the croquet lawn of his home, Hobbies Odd, near Collapsed Pudding in Mortshire. He is studying a game left unfinished at the end of summer."
Edward Gorey, The Unstrung Harp; or, Mr Earbrass Writes a Novel (in: Amphigorey) - 1972

A Gorey double-header to make up for missing yesterday due to space plague.

Speaking of which, I'm on day (counts fingers) 4 of space plague. Not hallucinating much anymore, which is to the good, and ibuprofen means it doesn't hurt to swallow. The glowing green toenails are worrying but ultimately easy to put out of mind. 

October 2017: it means 'loud wind'

“1801—I have just returned from a visit to my landlord—the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with. This is certainly a beautiful country! In all England, I do not believe that I could have fixed on a situation so completely removed from the stir of society. A perfect misanthropist's heaven: and Mr. Heathcliff and I are such a suitable pair to divide the desolation between us. A capital fellow! He little imagined how my heart warmed towards him when I beheld his black eyes withdraw so suspiciously under their brows, as I rode up, and when his fingers sheltered themselves, with a jealous resolution, still further in his waistcoat, as I announced my name.”

Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights - 1847

This book is far better if you read it as a horror novel.

Meanwhile, I've caught some kind of rat plague, so, hope you're all alive and decaying minimally.

October 2017: Machen

"I am glad you came, Clarke; very glad indeed. I was not sure you could spare the time."

"I was able to make arrangements for a few days; things are not very lively just now. But have you no misgivings, Raymond? Is it absolutely safe?"

Arthur Machen, The Great God Pan - 1890

A perfectly unnerving to a book that is, full confession, a bit of a slog.

October 2017: Lovecraft Again

“I am forced into speech because men of science have refused to follow my advice without knowing why. It is altogether against my will that I tell my reasons for opposing this contemplated invasion of the antarctic—with its vast fossil hunt and its wholesale boring and melting of the ancient ice caps. And I am the more reluctant because my warning may be in vain.”

H.P. Lovecraft, At The Mountains of Madness - 1936

Witness the return of Lovecraft's killer opening statements.