Crossroad Blues

You know those days when it’s blue and bright and you’re on the road? And the signs over the highway say that if you keep going this way you’ll end up in a city you’ve always wanted to see, and you just want to step down on the gas pedal, skip your exit, and roll on south, east, west. The desire for movement sits in the empty spaces behind your solar plexus and in the skin around your eyes. It’s not that you need to escape, exactly, although the idea of escape is often appealing: it’s just that when you’re moving all you have to focus on is the movement.

15192838652_021b6c9160_zWe took a lot of road trips when I was growing up, including a six-month one around the entire contiguous USA. I find the motion of a car soothing. Nowadays I don’t own a car, though, and generally the longest I get to drive anywhere in the food truck is forty-five minutes or so. Those drives are nice; I just miss the long, straight stretches, two-lane highways and too much coffee, naps in gas station parking lots, neat and anonymous motel rooms. Mountains. Cornfields. Horizons.

Cabin fever, I guess. No cure for it but moving forward.

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O Brave New Year

Some general goals to kick off 2015:

  1. Exercise more. (Ah, so say we all.) Specifically, try running again, and try to regain more flexibility.
  2. Write more. Specifically, work on fiction every day.
  3. See more theatre (and write more reviews).
  4. Read more books and fewer social media feeds. Specifically, read more SFF and genre fiction by people who aren’t white men and/or more SFF with leads who aren’t white or aren’t men or aren’t white men. (And write more reviews.)
  5. Stay woke.

What are your goals, denizens of the Internet? How do you keep yourself honest? Do you have any great book recommendations?

I Want to Believe: Skepticism, magic, and the truth that’s out there

It was a long, hot, busy summer this year. Having the apartment to myself for a week or so, with a Netflix account at hand, and some evenings where I didn’t have the energy to do much besides sit on the couch sweating meant that I finally started watching The X-Files, only twenty years after everyone else in the world. Spoiler alert: I LOVE IT.

Mulder and Scully.

The man, the myth, the monotone, and yet another tiny hypercompetent FBI agent. I have a type.

I should have known long ago that X-Files would be up my alley. Aside from the fact that it’s had an obvious long-lasting impact on American genre TV (Supernatural springing to mind immediately, with Hannibal close behind), it’s about a subject that I’ve always loved: unexplained phenomena.

I went through an extended period as a pre-teen/early teen where I read everything I could get my hands on about ghosts, aliens, cryptozoology, urban legends, mysterious disappearances, psychic powers. Ghosts were of particular interest; the theatre community I was part of at the time loved ghost stories, and I believed every single one I was told, to the point of evangelism and even clumsily faking a haunting for a week or so. It didn’t occur to me until years and years later that I could, and probably should, fact-check the stories about “oh yeah a person died violently in this very theater back in the ’80s.” The stories mattered more, the thrill up my spine and the possibility that one day I could have an unexplainable encounter.

I was a credulous kid. Except I was also a magician. Continue reading

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Twenty-six and counting

05_17_26---Church-Candle_web

“next to of course god america i
love you land of the pilgrims’ and so forth oh
say can you see by the dawn’s early my
country ’tis of centuries come and go
and are no more what of it we should worry
in every language even deafanddumb
thy sons acclaim your glorious name by gorry
by jingo by gee by gosh by gum
why talk of beauty what could be more beaut-
iful than these heroic happy dead
who rushed like lions to the roaring slaughter
they did not stop to think they died instead
then shall the voice of liberty be mute?”

He spoke. And drank rapidly a glass of water

Happy birthday to E. E. Cummings, Ben Whishaw, Mia Wasikowska, and Usher, among others.

It’s been a hell of a year. For my birthday this year I’d like everyone to be safe, and happy, and remember once today that you’re loved.

I will also take cake.

Tales from food trucking

My sister says I should be writing about food trucking, which sounds like the opening line to the weirdest diary-style YA novel ever written. Here’s some thoughts.


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I work on three trucks right now: the pie truck, and two sandwich/burger trucks that sell at Boeing. On the sandwich trucks, I cook a little, but mostly I run the window, taking orders and money, delivering food.

At both sandwich trucks, I ask customers for their names so I can call out their orders when they’re ready. I make a somewhat concerted effort to learn the names of my regulars at the different trucks; it just seems like a nice thing to do, a welcoming, friendly, where-everybody-knows-your-name kind of thing. I’ve probably managed to learn thirty names and faces, but there’s another forty or so faces that I recognize but can’t put names too.

It’s easier to remember names that aren’t European, or are attached to non-white faces. Selam and Salim I learned quickly. Unusual names in general stick out, like Slim or Stokes or Ramses or Desi. People with custom orders stick out, too, like Susan or Patricia or May.

The real problem is the short, common men’s names. If your name is Joe or Scott or Steve, Jeff or Greg or Dan, I almost certainly can’t remember your name. There are multiples of all these names coming to the trucks every day, and generally speaking I’ve managed to associate one face with any given name, and that’s it. I know one Scott; the others are all “you’re that guy who was here yesterday.” Plus, weirdly, it’s hard for me to remember names if regulars from one truck come to one of the other trucks. It’s like how walking through a door resets your brain.

I guess the takeaway point here is, if you’re a regular somewhere and want the staff to remember your name, try giving something unusual: a nickname, or surname. And if we can’t remember your name, please don’t take it personally. We do remember you — and we’re just delighted you’ve come back again.


The other day I was describing my summer schedule to my friends Piper and Lasheena, and Lasheena asked “so you’re working six to seven days a week … how does that work with having a personal life?” And I kind of stared at her blankly for way too long and then said that I make it work, one way or another. Which is true!

But I also get a weird charge from interacting with people, especially my regulars. I’ve had conversations twice with regulars today about the horror convention I’m going to this weekend, extended ones about what horror movies we like and who I hope to meet. I don’t think these guys even know my name, they just know I serve them food four out of five days a week. But those interactions do a lot to recharge my extrovert batteries and satisfy the human need for interaction.

Although having some personal life is nice too.


This weekend, after more than a year in our current kitchen, we’re moving! Today was the last time I should ever be at that kitchen. Leaving tonight was like some odd rendition of Good Night Moon.

Good night to this kitchen
Where we did our baking
Good night to the alley
Where I spent so long waiting

Good night to the walk-in
I’m afraid this is it
Good night plastic flaps
That were covered in … gunk

Good night to the back lot
And your dumpsters and stenches
Good night to the crows —
Opportunistic mensches

Good night to the padlocks
Good night to the gate
That I loathe dealing with
When it’s cold and it’s late

Good night to the flag
That’s as big as the block
Be it red, white and blue
Or supporting the ‘Hawks

Good night to you, potholes
I hit in the dark
Good night, too, Safe Access
And so long, Skylark

Good night to you, bridge,
Where the cops lie in wait
For speeders or drunks
Or expired license plates

Good night to the shoe
Lying lost on the verge
Good night to the backup
Of cars waiting to merge

Good night to the route
Down to Fourth and Spokane
To avoid that damn merge lane
And its rush hour jam

And so long to Rainier’s R
Shining red in the night
I’ll see you again,
But to Delridge — good night.

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Hello, babies. …

Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.

Kannon, Bodhisattva of Compassion.

So I was talking with my roommate E​ the other day about principles — about the idea that it’s better to figure out reasonably consistent guiding principles and apply them to situations, rather than make case-by-case judgments.

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Unencumbered by cool: an ECCC wrap-up

“Unencumbered by cool” is, according to Glenn Berger, Bono’s description of a geek, and for all that Bono and Berger seem to have some distinct misapprehensions about geeks and comic book fans, I do like that summation. A geek is someone unencumbered by cool, someone who is so excited and passionate about a topic or an activity that they throw themselves into it un-self-consciously.

This weekend was Emerald City Comic Con, the second one I’ve been to, and it was hugely successful. I’ll try to do a full write-up soon with pictures n’at, but a couple thoughts first:

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    Elisa C. as Poison Ivy, giving her stamp of approval to ECCC’s anti-harassment policy.

    The volunteers and staff of the con were stellar. They were dealing with a lot of people — the con was enormous — and yet every minion and staff person I interacted with was polite, efficient, helpful, and usually friendly to boot.
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