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Thursday, December 19, 2013

and don't bother asking about Bedknobs & Broomsticks...

Me: Bedtime!
Mandy: But I want to see how Mary Poppins ends!
Me: Everyone feeds the birds, they get so fat, they start eating people, and take over the world. At the end, they've enslaved humanity, and they all sing "Feed the humans, tuppence a bag."
Mandy: Eww, sick!

TTFN
Tony

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Winter Whinings

Working at a waste management plant surrounded by frothing fecal matter can make one very philosophical. It can also make one sick, as one inhales the fermenting gasses of concentrated human refuse. When you are constantly inundated with the battle cries of OSHA and BEST - not for your benefit, but for the sake of your employer's liability - you start wondering, well, what about my health? What about the long term effects on my body? Why doesn't that matter? What lottery did I win, that I get to work outdoors at a shit-plant during the winter, while others getting paid the exact same rate get a nice, clean, warm, office renovation in Manhattan? Yes, I'm whining, "Why me?" They might as well put that on my tombstone.

When I was young, I used to pretend I was a superhero whose power was surviving the cold. Zero Kelvin was heaven to me. Superman lived in the Arctic? What a pussy, my Fortress of Solitude was on Pluto. But in recent years, I've come to hate the winter. I've come to hate the dark, and the coldness that seems to permeate to deep inside my body. It never really bothered me before, why does it affect me so much now?

On the non-melodramatic side, I finally finished summarizing the remainder of my still untitled novel. Titles have come to my head, but none of them snappy. I think I'll have to choose a favorite quote from it when it's done, and then create the cover. But I'm getting ahead of myself. The next step is to make changes to the summary, so I can go back to scouring the book chapter by chapter. Dreams must have patience, while methane is inhaled.

TTFN
-Tony

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Lookie Here, I've Been Interviewed!

Pubbed is a blog dedicated to independent authors. They write reviews and interview self-published authors about the ups and downs of the industry, and they were kind enough to interview yours truly. Check it out here: Talking the Trade with Tony LaRocca, Author of False Idols and Other Short Stories.

TTFN 
-Tony

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Correct Response is...

"There is no such thing as 'Windows' support, the name of the company is Microsoft. Fuck off, goodbye." Click.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Everybody sing!

Taking the OSHA-10 course online. Not since the '70s have I heard such frequent use of the word "macho."

Monday, October 28, 2013

Illustration Friday: Creature

Illustration Friday: Creature 
TTFN 
-Tony
Chapter 6 scoured, total edited word count now at 48.8k. So happy that chapter needed less changes than the last!

Arrogant Nerd Syndrome.

Call me a nerd-hipster, but I've finally been able to pinpoint why I love Classic Who vs. nuWho. It's because on the old show, the Doctor was a scientist / adventurer, and on the new show, he's an adult Harry Potter with a sonic screwdriver for a magic wand.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Not REALLY, of course...

Could anyone already planning a heinous crime do me a solid, and leave my book at the crime scene? I could really use the exposure. ;)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Chapter 5 finally scoured to publishable standards. Great googly moogly, did this one take a long time. 41.6k words and rising...

Saturday, October 05, 2013

IF: Underwater

Illustration Friday: Underwater. For those interested in such things, here is the original:

Friday, October 04, 2013

But I'm looking for the Old Same Place...

Here I am again, in the same old place. I don’t come here much often anymore because I don’t know what to write. I feel like the world’s biggest phony. Everything I do, there is a little voice in my head, wondering if others will like it, if they will judge me, or if they will love me. I suppose that makes me human, but it’s the constant trap of the chronically lonely. I suppose it’s something I just have to accept about myself. All my thoughts and emotions produce chemicals, and my brain becomes addicted to them. If we can do blood transfusions, why can’t we do the same for cerebral fluid?

I walk the same roads over and over. Every day seems to bleed into the next. Some people’s lives are shaped by explosions. The rest of us are eroded over time, like a river carving away at rock. I suppose expecting anything else will lead to disappointment.

Is this the first day of the rest of my life? There are no guarantees about anything. I’ve worked soup kitchens, and seen so many elderly people shuffle through like the walking dead, their faces filthy, lined, and scarred. I wonder if they spent their lives thinking everything would work out eventually. Did they try to make their own lives, only to constantly fight uphill against mudslides, until they finally gave up? Do they still think that they’re fighting? Is just breathing a fight?

You come to a point where you realize that the more you give, the more gets taken. There’s always a bigger dragon to slay, until everyone loses respect for you for chasing them in the first place. Then one day you wake up and realize you doubt yourself all the time - something you never did before. And then you wonder if you’re just making fights where none needs to be.

I worry about my novel. The great thing about my short story collection is that it’s so varied. Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s serious, sometimes it’s dark, sometimes it’s imaginative, sometimes it’s post modern... you get what I mean. But a novel has a central theme. It’s not a movie where there’s “much needed comic relief” to break the tension. I don’t intend to be dark and brooding, it’s just whatever is left after squeezing my mind through a sieve. I just try to make it as interesting as I can.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Uncle Sam needs YOU!

The US Federal Government has officially shut down. Please do your part in this troubling time and spy on yourself.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

IF: Onomatopoeia


Illustration Friday: Onomatopoeia... splash!
Click image for 1600 x 900 resolution.

TTFN
-Tony

Thursday, September 26, 2013

S&M for Souls

Every morning, I get up, and it’s the same thing. I eat the same breakfast, I go through the same exercise routine, I write or edit, I play on the xbox, I eat the same lunch, I just do the same thing over and over. If there was a Satan, I’d consider selling my soul to him just to spice things up. Not sure how much my soul is worth these days. What could he do to it? Go ahead and throw me in the Lake of Fire, I won’t have any nerve endings. It’ll probably be cool, like surfing in lava. Or then I’d be a “Tortured Soul.” What the fuck is that, anyway? I should make a TV show about an artist who can’t sell his paintings, but they don’t sell because his life isn’t “tortured” enough. So he goes out and commits crimes to make himself a worse person - for his art’s sake. Hey, nice guys finish last. 

TTFN 
-Tony

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I know you're retired, but...

Tom Lehrer, please write a song about Common Core Math - we need you!
I always get an unclean vibe when online forms ask me to "submit." I'm not into that, and besides, I barely know you.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

At least as of today...

FINALLY - Front page (#16) in Kindle's Science Fiction > Anthologies and Short Stories by average review score. This is why we beg for reviews - thank you thank you thank you to everyone who has written one.

Monday, September 23, 2013

What would my old English teachers say?

Chapter 4 successfully scoured. Total word count so far, 34k. I can't imagine how long this would take if it weren't already written!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

So much work to do today, but I've become addicted to emulated retrogaming. Tau Ceti, Neverwood, or The Dark Eye, anyone? 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Ummm...

My sweet, innocent, cute, little, sainted, Sicilian, catholic mother bought this for the kids to play with. Just wondering if it was advertised as "college prep."

Sunday, September 15, 2013

I took the kids miniature golfing. All in all, it was a pretty lame course. I was expecting windmills, or clowns that opened and closed their mouths, or land mines... something. I've been very productive the past few days, but I don't feel like doing anything today, I just feel drained. I think I'm going to just lay down.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Can You Imagine?

My parents often ask why I don't write for young adults. Either they want to scar innocent souls, or they're hoping the restraint would save mine.
Chapter 3 scoured, total word count is now 25,284. This editing jazz goes a lot quicker when work doesn't get in the way.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Well they're right, damn it!

Just Another Day

Once again, I am a gentleman of leisure. This was expected, since the jobs I've been on recently were school renovations, and today is the first day of school. My daughter finally had her dental work done last week. Due to her over-sensitivity, she had to be put under at Mount Sinai in Manhattan. The poor kid was throwing up blood-mixed anesthesia when it was over. It's pretty common, but horrifying to see. Of course, you have to brush it off like it's nothing. After a day or so, she was her old self.

I had a typically odd dream. I was having a conversation with the late Peter Bergman of the Firesign Theatre, and Bill Mumy. They told me they had enjoyed my book, but wanted to act like they weren't too impressed, sort of a "you done good kid" attitude. I got Bill Mumy's autograph for Joe - he's a huge Babylon 5 fan, and we all sang "Fish Heads." At the end, Brian (the dog from Family Guy) wrote a poem on a doughnut about how he was "A-OK." Please feel free to interpret. 

I'm determined to finish editing chapter three, and even possibly chapter four by Sunday. Somewhere in there, I want to catch some sort of indie film in Manhattan, while I have the time. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.

Other than that, life is the same.

TTFN
-Tony

Friday, September 06, 2013

Happiness, Luck, Probability, and other Lost Causes.

Happy thought of the day - we base way too much of our happiness on things that don't matter, and / or are beyond our control.

One of my favorite Android time-wasters is a game called Dope Wars. It's a buy-low / sell-high affair, except what you're buying and selling is drugs. Cops, pimps, guns, banks, and loan sharks are thrown in for good measure, along with a (standard play) thirty-day time limit. The only way to make a killing is to be lucky enough to have something in your inventory sell at "unusual prices."

Now, since the prices each day are random, you can say that if you make a killing, you have "good luck" and if you wind up in debt, you have "bad luck" (I personally consider anything over ten million dollars a win.) But what does this mean? There is no such thing as random. When a computer picks a number at random, what it's actually doing is picking a number based on an algorithm with a seed based on the thousandth of a second in which the request is made. This is impossible for a human to time, so the result seems random.

If you're a compulsive person and play the game a lot, this can affect your mood. You can be happy and feel validated that you have "good luck" if you win, or, more often (since the algorithm is slated that way to make the game more challenging) you have "bad luck" if you lose - which can piss you the fuck off and make a bad day worse.

All because of the thousandth of a second in which you tapped that button.

Something to think about.

TTFN
-Tony

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Today's happy thought: Fixing problems is fun!

Monday, September 02, 2013


Positive thought of the day: It hasn't always been a perfect life, but it has been an interesting one.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Just another traffic jam

Today I am thankful that every person in this picture has their own fantastic, important world, full of pain, joy, love, hate, wonder, and boredom existing between their ears. Also, that being a three-day weekend, today's shitty traffic is probably better than tomorrow's. I'm also grateful that my car has not yet self-destructed like the Bluesmobile.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Any happy little thought?

I'm going to do this positive thought of the day thing, since I've been such a miserable bastard lately. Today, I'm happy my parents still live in the house I grew up in, and that, for some reason, they enjoy spending time with me as much as I do with them. Also, that my father still loves the Yankees and pinochle, and my mother makes yummy chocolate crockpot cakes. They're good people.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

It is impossible for me to hear "Take on Me" without dancing like one of the kids in the Charlie Brown Christmas Special.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Wow - now this is something happy to wake up to! - The Brainy Bookshelf.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Hey, abstinence didn't work very well for the Virgin Mary, now did it?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Warm and Uplifting Blog Post

Here I am at the playground again. Look at me, aren't I the most wonderful father in the world? I'm telling everybody on the internet that I'm taking my daughter to the playground. The truth is, there's nothing I'd rather be doing. That's not to say that being a playground dad is the most wonderful thing ever, just that I have nothing else going on. I have to go to work tomorrow. Its not like I have a wild social life anyway. Anyone want to see the new Simon Pegg movie? I have no one to go with. I'm too tired to edit right now. I'm in the middle of playing Borderlands 2, but its not really giving me any joy at the moment. Joe's bed needs a new mattress and box spring. I need a new car. I need a new me. Don't get me wrong, I love my kids to death, but I don't want to pretend that me loving them somehow makes me special. I hate complaining about my life, because the solution is always there. I'm just too lazy.

What the fuck happened to this country? When I was young, we were told that Russia was the place for you always have to watch what you said or did, because someone was always looking over your shoulder, someone was always listening in on what you said, and judging you. Russia was the place where police were above the law. Russia was the country that tortured people. But then I think about Vietnam, I think about Joe McCarthy, and I realize that none of this shit is new. We were all just fed a bunch of lies that we were special, we were different, and we believed it. Look, I don't blame the world on Obama, but for fuck's sake. Nothing makes me want to bash my head against the wall these days more than the phrase "hope and change." Sorry, it was just another lie. "If you're not doing anything wrong you don't have anything to worry about?" Really? Yes, the Republican Party is evil. Yes, the Democratic Party is evil too. I have no idea what the solution is, I'm not going to pretend that I do. Well that's not entirely true. We could repeal the Patriot Act for a start. Do you realize that any smartphone mic, at any time, can be used as a wire by the NSA to spy on what is happening around you? Yes, that shit is legal. Look it up. 

There's this wonderful good cop bad cop game going on. Your side? Those are the good cops. The other side? Those are the bad cops. Hey, we're all sorry that your food supply is being poisoned, but you know, it's the other guys' fault. Sorry everything you drink is full of chemicals and hormones. Sorry your kids are more susceptible to cancer than ever before. Oh, but here's a pink ribbon. Just don't forget, that pink ribbon is trademarked - don't you dare use it for your own use. And if your kids do get cancer someday, hey - here's hoping you have good insurance! And, if in the future universal healthcare passes, then we can pay for that cancer out of the Treasury. Or rather, we can just add it to the national debt. As long as all that money flows somewhere, right?
Due to repeated listening in the car, my daughter now knows Columbia's part in "Eddie's Teddy." My work is done.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

I made the cut today, although the job may be over tomorrow. Five people laid off, and they kept me, the guy with the fornicated knees, and the two hour each way commute. I know I'm wonderful, but sheesh.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

IF: Power


Illustration Friday: Power. Digital painting of a Cenobite. It would have to do something with electricity, right? Now he just needs a name...

"What's your pleasure, sir?"

TTFN -Tony

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Work quote of the day: "I bet everyone hates you, because you're always right." Pretty much...

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Annoying Self Publishing Nonsense

Suzanne Casamento has been a friend of mine since childhood. Recently she wrote and published her first YA novel, Fingerprints. It's an amazing book. I found myself drawn into her characters, and couldn't put it down until I had finished it. If you check out her reviews, you'll see that at the time of this writing, fifteen other people agree. However, one person does not. Now, before you think I'm just whining, and tell me all books have bad reviews, she should have a thick skin, some people just aren't going to like it, etc., check out what the review actually says:


That's right, folks, this reviewer has not read this book. She is giving the book one star, because she has personally determined that all of Miss Casamento's glowing reviews - including my own - must be bogus. Read it again. This is the bullshit self-published authors have to contend with now. 

When other reviewers came to Miss Casamento's defense, the reviewer responded with the following:


Let's make this clear: She admits that she HAS NOT READ THE BOOK. She even goes so far as to challenge Miss Casamento to give her a free copy to prove her wrong. She makes even more completely unfounded snide insults, and reiterates that it is her sacred duty to warn others that this book is a "bad purchase" - once again, a book she has never read.

In self-publishing, reviews and ratings are everything, and can launch or tank a new writer's career. If a book deserves a bad review, then by all means, give it one. (Hey, if it deserves a good one, give it one too.) But to try to hurt the rise of a new book and warn readers away for absolutely no reason... I just don't understand. Obviously, there is some agenda here. What it could possibly be, I have no idea.

TTFN
-Tony

Friday, August 16, 2013

Woke up feeling mean. I wish there was a ship of psychotic, murderous aliens disguised as adorable bunnies that I could set fire to.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Everyone else has an OtterBox. Where can I get a Riverbottom Nightmare Box?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

When I edit, I read my work out loud (either as Tom Baker or Morgan Freeman.) Always fun when the bums on the subway look at me like I'M crazy.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Apparently, singing "foreman, don't cry" over "woman, don't cry," on a construction site is "insensitive." "Let's get together and install the light" is also a no-no. Who knew?

Monday, August 12, 2013

I am furious with my body that I maintain my weight when I'm lazing around the apartment for months, but then when I'm on my feet all day long, it's like the body just explodes with blubber.
My phone died. I loved that phone because the giant battery let me use it all day long, with all the bells and whistles. Also, it had a 3D screen and camera. People at work annoy the living shit out of me when it comes to my toys. Sorry, that's an unfair generalization. People just annoy the shit out of me.
"Uh, I see you on that thing all the time. I bet you couldn't live without that phone."
"Well, let's see. Either I'm writing, or reading, or playing a game, checking the news, or catching up with friends. Yes, I have friends, probably because I'm not obsessed with what other people do, and don't need to test them for alpha male status."
What is it with people? Why do some people need to shit-test everyone? Why do some people mistake kindness for weakness? I have the strength not to be mean to you. Whatever, my life is too short.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Happy I got sent to a different site now that this job is finished instead of getting laid off. The new two hour plus commute... not so happy.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Only in NY

(at Dunkin Doughnuts)

Me: I'm sorry, I can't drink this. I asked for no sugar, and there's like, ten in here.
Woman behind counter: No sugar. I gave you caramel.
Me: But I just ordered hazelnut.
Woman: I know, but that wouldn't taste very good!

o_O

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Woke up late, went to work without breakfast. I'll have to eat something during coffee break. I edited some last night, not as much as I wanted to. Everything seems to annoy me lately, and every day just bleeds into the next. This is my life, working in shitty neighborhoods. Maybe some more punks will harass me again during lunch today. Why don't they wear something festive at least, like flamenco outfits? Had fun in the park watching drug deals (or maybe the gentleman was just selling bootleg DVDs,) Some minuscule part of me must be pissed off that I feel so apathetic, but I just don't care anymore. Except for the game I'm working on with Joe, I want to see how that comes out.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Interview!

Oooh la la, my first interview! Next step, being a guest on the View, so I can tell Jenny McCarthy to get her brain immunized. Check it out at Scribbles and Tunes!

TTFN
-Tony

Monday, June 17, 2013

Can't begin to explain how much this means to me.

Imagine you're a young geek, back in the '80s. There is no internet, no ebooks, no Netflix  no quick and easy entertainment. So you go to your hometown library (when your parents will drive you) and you begin to explore science fiction short stories and novels. Ray Bradbury, Douglas Adams, Issac Asimov, Stephen King, Clive Barker, and Philip K. Dick become your new friends. And you begin to write horrible Star Trek and Doctor Who fan-fiction, and eventually stories of your own. And as you write more and more over the years, you fantasize that one day this will happen, and your book will be found there, for some other young geek with dreams and stories of his or her own to take home and read by flashlight under the covers... 


TTFN 
-Tony

Monday, June 03, 2013

IF: Sweet

Illustration Friday: Sweet Can't think of anything sweeter than my Mandy. 

TTFN 
-Tony

Google translate, to the rescue!

Favorite spam comment of the week: "I bеliеνе thаt you сoulԁ do with a few p.с. to driѵe the mеssage houѕe a little bіt, but othеr than that, thаt іs magnifiсent blog."

TTFN
-Tony

Thursday, May 30, 2013

IF: Tension


Illustration Friday: Tension

This is what an anxiety attack looks like, via a new form of MRI.

TTFN-
Tony

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

I was told this morning by a fleeing crazy person on the street that my rubber mask looked "stupid." And here I was, trying for classic vaudevillian nefarious...

TTFN
-Tony

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Illustration Friday: Future

Illustration Friday: Future

This is my first attempt at an abstract, I'd love to hear people's interpretations. It's kind of like a Rorschach test.

May our futures all be filled with our friends, happiness, and joy.

And, if you're so inclined, Chinese food. 

TTFN
-Tony

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Now, for the first time ever on pulped tree!

False Idols and Other Short Stories is now in print for those without ebook readers. Available from CreateSpace, and amazon

(Of course, you can still purchase the Kindle version here.)

TTFN
-Tony 

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

The Envelope, Please!

I'm honored to announce that False Idols and Other Short Stories is the winner of the April cover award at ebookindie.com. I have to admit I was surprised, because all of the covers look so professionally made. The judge was Scarlett Rugers of Scarlett Rugers Design, who kindly said:

"When I first saw this cover I thought 'EPIC'. My expectations are immediately transformed when I see a space man facing off an unknown, and I must know more. The faded hieroglyphic background doesn’t detract from the image, and the title and name is clear. Fantastic cover. The concept supports the title by giving the reader a jar in what a ‘false idol’ means. We initially believe a God of Earth but are soon set straight when we realize we’re not even on Earth."


This calls for a celebration, bring on the mei fun and General Tso's chicken! 

TTFN
-Tony


Friday, April 26, 2013

Odds Bodkins!


Odds bodkins, False Idols and Other Short Stories is in the top 20 for April's Indie eBook Cover Awards! Thank you, oh amazing Elena Nazzaro, for all your professional advice.

TTFN
-Tony

Thursday, April 25, 2013

An Open Letter to the Loasthsome, Boil-Covered Lice Who Are Running facebook.

Dear facebook -

This blog is NOT "unsafe." And thank you for providing a button, and asking people to PLEASE MARK IT AS SPAM if they don't recognize it. You do realize that's a textbook example of the loaded question fallacy, right? Like going up to someone and asking "Have you stopped beating your wife?" The android app won't even complete the link, even if the user approves it. Go fornicate yourself with a rusty cactus, Zuckerberg, you slimy piece of malodorous refuse.

Sigh.

On the lighter side, I had a bizarre dream last night: I drove down the street where I grew up, but it became more and more narrow and twisted. It lead to a house. There was a huge line waiting to enter what looked like bathroom stalls in the yard, but there were blood and body parts everywhere. Sounds of chainsaws and screaming came from inside. I kicked one of the stall doors in. A "victim" stood in the back, screaming, while a "maniac" carved a dummy up with a chain saw and sprayed corn syrup everywhere. I asked what the hell was going on. They explained that they had to fake the massacre because of the bad economy. I asked just how this was supposed to help, but before I could get an answer, I woke up.

Feel free to analyze.

TTFN
-Tony

Addendum: About ten hours later, and facebook seems to have stopped calling me bad names. Do you think I hurt their feelings? 



Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Another Pleasant Flushing Wednesday...

It's Wednesday. There's no way to make that sound exciting, like when announcers for Monster Trucks used to proclaim "THIS SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY AT THE MEADOWLANDS ARENA... SEEEEEE BIGFOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT!"

So now I have to keep myself entertained while I'm unemployed. I have a 400+ page novel to polish, I want to publish a graphic novel online with one page a week, my friend Marc of baze and his silly friends have kindly asked me to animate one of their songs for a video, and I have work to do around the apartment. Also, in addition to walking, I want to get a few hours of stationary-cycling time in. My plan to ride every time I use the X-box is working well, except while my legs are not tired, it's a pain in my tuchus. Literally. I hope it gets better, but you'd think that my cheeks had enough padding that I wouldn't notice.

Time for lunch - in the words of Donny Osmond, you can tune a piano, but you can't tune a fish!

TTFN
-Tony

Monday, April 22, 2013

Bioshock & My Infinite Tuchus

For passing my A-test and publishing my short story collection on Amazon, I gave myself the gift of Bioshock Infinite. My rule is, however, that I am only allowed to play it while I ride on my exercise bike. Here's hoping it's as addictive as everyone says! 

TTFN
-Tony

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Story Notes, Part 3

And now, the exciting conclusion of story notes for "False Idols and Other Short Stories"!

Shattered Possibilities 
The late great Peter Bergman of the Firesign Theater said that when they wrote their first album, Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him, they decided to make the jokes as subtle as possible and layer their meanings. That way, people would listen to the album over and over, trying to figure it out. I wrote this story with that plan in mind, but I think I chickened out and added a little too much explanation. 

This story does have a hidden inspiration, however. I'll tell you what: Whoever figures it out first, if you're ever in NYC (while I still live here,) I'll take you out for a sandwich at Katz Deli. Your mouth will love you for the rest of your life.

Soul Mates
I've always wrestled with my weight. Some years I win, some years I lose. It depends if Pluto is in line with Venus, and how good the local Chinese takeout is.

The thing I absolutely love about this story is how vile every character is. Don't get me wrong, there are good and bad people in Suburbia, just like everywhere else. But it's always a great setting for black comedy, and sometimes my sense of humor gets a little dark...

The Autumn People
This is my favorite short story that I've written. I read an essay by sci-fi giant Harlan Ellison, in which he said that writing subtext into fiction was essential. I started by writing the first sentence, about the bar table being worm-eaten. The story unfolded from that point.

9-11 has been a taboo subject for fiction for many years, but it's impossible not to write about something so prevalent. And if you live in a NYC apartment, it's impossible not to come across an insect or twenty over the years. Mix all that up with the sludge at the bottom of my brain, and this is the result.

Thank you, I hope you enjoy reading these.

TTFN
-Tony 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Murder Train a Comin'


Illustration Friday: Train

I listened to this song this morning while taking a walk. So when the word of the week turned out to be "train," I thought it made an appropriate subject.

TTFN
-Tony  

Story Notes, Part 2

Continuing from yesterday, here are the story notes from False Idols. Enjoy!

All Part of Being a Dragon
This was the last story in the collection to be written. It went through a few different forms. Originally, I wrote a very different story, with Azrael and Theresa as the main characters. He was an android priest, in a post-apocalyptic future where locusts ruled the planet and humanity was enslaved. I may still write that one, but the characters were wrong for the story, and it didn't go anywhere.

I recently re-read Philip K. Dick's classic novel Ubik. One of his prevailing themes is "What is reality?". I started a novel years ago about "angels" whose job it was to keep the "Tapestry" of the universe together, but other projects got in the way, and I never finished it.

If you're a fan of this blog, then you've read my many rants about the NYC MTA over the years. When my original story didn't work, I tried putting Azrael and Theresa on the E train I was stuck on. Azrael became a cyborg, and immediately started complaining about the quality of the subway system. Echoes of my unfinished novel came forth, and he became an angel in service of the Tapestry. Of course, an angel needs a devil to fight, but nothing is ever that simple - especially if you're up against an army of demonic chickens. 

Heaven 2.0
One of my closest friends pointed out that my stories had no heroines, so I decided to write one full of them. I had just spent the weekend visiting friends of mine, and one of their daughters owns an albino boxer. I wondered where the ancient feud of dogs vs. cats came from. I searched online for legends about dogs, and found some fascinating ones. The same goes for cats.

A bunch of other ideas went into the writing of this. The economy is still reeling from the sub-prime-loan fiasco, and I thought about how banks promise you the moon, but then eviscerate you with the fine print. I installed a new program, and pondered over the fact that no one really reads the convoluted legalese of software user agreements.

That, and I had just bought a Jimmy Durante album for my father.

So I combined all of these things into a story. Yes, it's an age-old Pact With the Devil tale, but with a fresh twist. And VGA graphics.

Flawed Copies
I wrote this story a few years ago, but as a piece of literary fiction for a class at UMUC. The main character was a man whose wife had committed suicide, and whose violent tendencies had caused him to lose custody of his daughter. Then I read an article about how in a few years, they will be able to clone sperm from female DNA, making us Y-chromosome carrying bastards redundant. I imagined that this bit of genetic engineering would create certain "perfect brands" of women that were bred for certain jobs. But life is life, and we didn't get this far without mutations of the genes. No matter what science comes up with, nature always finds a way of forcing its original blueprints.

Stay tuned tomorrow for part three. Until then, have a great weekend.

TTFN
-Tony

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Story Notes Part 1


I’m going to add a Story Notes section for False Idols to my website, but I thought it would be fun to add them here first:

Ad Aware
Health Care is a hot topic right now, with many Americans clamoring for universal coverage - but in the end, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Meanwhile, advertising is now omnipresent in our daily lives. You can’t go to the movies without having product placement rammed down your throat. Television channels display ads on the bottom of the screen during shows, even on channels I’ve paid for. Video games costing $60 a pop have ads integrated into the gameplay. (And who am I kidding, what is this post except an ad in disguise?) Combining the two issues was the next logical step.

False Idols
This story has a long history. There is an excellent site called Illustration Friday. They put up a new topic every week, you illustrate it, post it on your website or blog, and link the result. In addition, it has a very supportive community. So a few years back, they had two words – Ancient:
and Travel:
Both pictures had a classic science-fiction feel to them. I devised a rudimentary storyline about a rocket captain (inspired by Ray Bradbury’s Captain Wilder and David Ossman’s Firesign Theatre character Mark Time,) who crashes onto an an alien planet, which is inhabited by Bug Eyed Monsters and the idols they worship. Over the span of a year, I animated about 90% of it:

You have to love loop soundtracks.

Then, as always, real life got in the way: There was work, two kids, and I began to focus more on writing than animating. I came back to the animation a few times with the intent of finishing it, but I realized contemporary standards had passed me by. Some shots look beautiful, others look very dated. I would have to re-model and reanimate most of it. So it sat on the shelf, or rather, in the hard drive.

I decided a few years ago to put the short stories I had written over the years together and sell them on Amazon. I figured that nine was a good number. I had five written, I needed four more. So, on my Andriod, I fleshed out the story during my subway commute.

While the animation started out as an homage to classic sci-fi, I realized there was no logical way to make a rocket landing work. So the unnamed captain became Travis, whose escape pod crashed. He was a criminal... no... a good man who broke the law to do what he had to do because... 

And viola, a story was born.

The story has two main themes. One of them is obviously genetically modified crops. “Intelligrain” is a blatant play on Monsanto’s SmartStax brand of genetically modified seeds. Now GMCs in and of themselves might not necessarily be bad things, and do have potential benefits. However, when they cause diseases and overwhelm other crops, and when the corporations that make them are deeply entrenched in our government (e.g., The Farmer Assurance Provision, aka the Monsanto Protection Act, coupled with the fact that a former Monsanto vice president and lobbyist was appointed to the FDA as Deputy Commissioner for Foods for a start) then something has gone very wrong.

The other theme is religion vs. science. I consider myself agnostic, by which I mean I really have no idea if there is a higher power or not. While I don’t subscribe to religion (though I was raised Catholic) I am happy that so many of my friends take comfort in their faith. I have no issue with nativity scenes at town halls, prayers at graduation ceremonies and football games, or what have you. What I DO take umbrage over is when fundamentalists pass laws that make teachers include creationism in a science class. You can read my rant about it in depth here, but it shocks me that we’re in the 21st century and this is even up for debate. If you want to do god’s work, then learn how his creation really works so you can do so. Here endeth the rant.

The Arena
This story is actually twenty-three years old. When I was a junior in high school, my creative writing teacher gave us a picture to write about. It was a blurry black-and-white photocopy of a bullfighter. He was standing against a wall, but the way I held the paper, I thought he was lying on the ground. I wrote a short story called "Toro". It had pretty much the same plot, except it took place in Spain in the 1940s. It was easy to adapt into science fiction - and as such, is possibly more believable. Spain became Ganymede, and the bull became the Flopper. I suppose its clockwork mechanics are another throwback to Bradbury, although the Steampunk subgenre is gaining in popularity.

That’s enough for now. Stay tuned, I’ll cover the next three stories tomorrow.

TTFN
-Tony

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Target Audience and Vocabulary

Dad: "We love your book son, but there must be a paragraph missing."
Me: "Uh oh, where?"
Mom: "You had a word we didn't understand, and then you're suddenly talking about a round cross or something"
Me: "...Was the word 'Ankh'?"
Dad: "That's it!"


TTFN
-Tony

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Suspicious of Terror

So here we are again: another act of violence, which falls under the blanket name TERROR. That word has become so omnipresent in the last twelve years. Now, we have suspicious packages lurking behind every corner... smoking cigarettes, wearing baggy pants, not having a facebook account...

TERROR. It's such a dominant word that the word "suffering" is lost in its shadow. Suffering is twisted into fear mongering and pitchfork raising for the sake of news headlines. The problem is, no one has stepped forward and taken credit for this yet. Gone are the days when Osama bin Laden or Cobra Commander would appear on television and announce that there are bombs buried everywhere throughout the United States, and they will be detonated unless we deliver the head of Justin Bieber on a silver platter. Now we all just have to wonder.

While I'm sure it will make my grandfather roll over in his grave (he hated Mister Rogers) I have to admit that Reverend Fred summed it up best: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

Or in the words of Bill and Ted, "Be excellent to each other."

TTFN
-Tony

Sunday, April 14, 2013




On sale now for Kindle at Amazon.com

When I was young, I would check classic science fiction short story collections out of the library, and stay up all night reading them under the covers with a flashlight. Here is a collection of nine short stories of contemporary science fiction. Some are humorous, some are dramatic, all are filled with imagination. I can't pretend to be up there with the classic giants, but I'd like to hope someone will stay up all night reading these.


TTFN
-Tony

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Hello there!

I'm sorry I haven't been here in a while. Life has been hectic with work, and all my free time has been spent editing my ebook. Every time I think it's perfect, I go over it just one more time, and catch some stupid mistake: Hyphenating the same phrase sometimes, but not others, putting an apostrophe after an initial to make it plural, sometimes calling a character Elisabeth and other times Elizabeth... I'm being as anal as I can, but it takes a while.

I got laid off last Friday, but I worked the past couple of days at the Javits center, breaking down the car show. I shouldn't be out very long before the union sends me out again, but it will give me time to do all the things I need to catch up on.

Here's hoping everyone has a fantabulous day - I know I will! 

TTFN
-Tony

Monday, March 18, 2013

Nerd Dreams

I was so annoyed to be woken by the alarm clock this morning. I was having an awesome dream about flying an X-wing. I passed the Enterprise D, and we both gave each other a laser cannon / phaser salute. I could hear their bridge chatter on my radio. Picard was saying "Oh do grow a beard, Mister Worf, it would look oh so manly!"

TTFN
Tony

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Cover to cover!

I'm sorry I've been absent for so long. I've been working every day after work on the cover for my collection. After much anal-retentiveness and tweaking, I've finally settled 
on this:

This is a reduced size, as the original is 1800p wide. 

Just for shits and giggles, I went back in time to an alternate dimension and published my collection in 1973. This was the cover I used:

 
Of course, it was an international bestseller.

Next comes in intense pouring over every single word and punctuation mark. I'll keep you all informed.

TTFN

-Tony    

Monday, February 11, 2013

Cover Boy

Good morning my friends. I know I haven't posted in a while, but the truth is, I lead a very boring life. As Rowlf the Dog said in The Muppet Movie, "I finish work, I go home, read a book, drink a couple of beers, take myself for a walk, and go to bed."

I'm praying for copious amounts of rain today to wash the snow away. I've been working on my collection cover. I still have no idea what to call it. The problem is that the cover has to look good in an thumbnail, so I have to go less for "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and more with "Dark Side of the Moon" (And yes, I know I'm using album art to explain book covers, but you get what I mean.)

I'm headed out with some friends to The Waystation in Brooklyn tonight, looking forward to some geeky fun. Everyone have a good day and stay safe.

TTFN
Tony

Monday, February 04, 2013

Once More Into the Grind

Good morning. I'm here on the bus to the subway, my daily routine hath begun. Another day in the freezing cold. It's beginning to wear down on my sunny demeanor. The thing is, the contractor I work for has jobs with even worse conditions right on the horizon. Just remember that: The other electricians grass is possibly browner and covered with doggie presents.

I can't wait to get off the subway and sip from the chalice of the good lord Java. Maybe it's lady Java, the "a" sound usually being a feminine ending.

I had a dream last night, and the only thing I remember is having an argument with someone that my phone's screen was made out of lollypop. She then proceeded to break it in half and eat it. I'm open to interpretations.

I had a fun superbowl party with the kids last night. We ordered out, ate some snacks, and watched until the blackout. Then we watched Bob's Burgers and I caught the rest of the game while polishing my short story collection.

Have a fun day my friends. Stay warm.

TTFN
Tony

Friday, February 01, 2013

Yawn

Good morning my friends

My life is so goddamn exhausting lately. The past few days have been cold but bearable. The temperature has descended back to bitter. I wonder exactly who it's bitter at?

There's not much exciting going on. I'm twenty feet up on a scissor lift all day. When I lay down at night it still feels like the world is gently swaying from side to side, like after spending the day on a ship.

Random thoughts:

I don't know why he's in the headlines, but is it possible to hear Dan Marino's name without thinking some little old lady wants him to die of gonorrhoea and rot in hell?

I watched some Venture Bros. on free demand last night. When are they going to make a fifth season?

Can you plan a city's traffic flow by using ohms law, assigning vehicles as current, speed as voltage, and traffic lights as resistance?

Everyone have a wonderful weekend. Wishing you happiness.

TTFN
Tony

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Standing on Shoulders

It's a foggy morning. If I try really hard, I can pretend I'm in England.

I put all my short stories together in a pdf file for a few friends to review. It's like putting together a mix tape. I wrote these stories over the last twenty years. When I read them together, I feel excited, but realize I have some work to do. For example, I use a few similes too often, and perhaps characters' nationalities don't have to be mentioned unless they're necessary to the story. They need some polish but on the whole, I'm proud of my work.

When I was a kid I would take classic science fiction short story collections out of the Bernards Township library (Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick, Alfred Bester, and Harlan Ellison for starters.) I would stay up all night with a flashlight under the blankets reading them. This may explain why my eyesight is so bad. I don't claim to be up there with the greats, but I would like to hope for someone to stay up all night under the covers reading them.

There is also some naughtiness in there too. I might have to edit a PG-13 version just for my mother.

Have a fantabulous day my friends. Wishing you happiness always.

TTFN
Tony

Monday, January 28, 2013

Good...

Good morning universe. As if that means anything to the universe. Good morning world... USA... how about eastern standard time? Good morning, people in eastern standard time - assuming it's still morning when you're reading this - and a happy whatever to everyone else. That should about cover it.

I've finally finished my short story collection! I have a few friends who've offered to give them a once-over for me. The next step is to make some groovy cover art, and make myself a website. Then... onward to Kindle et al. I'm feeling a bit... giddy! That's the word!

It's going to be in the thirties today... specifically somewhere between 31 and 33. After last week, it feels like the tropics. The next couple of days are going to be in the fifties - I think I'll come to work naked and get a tan.

Apart from writing while on my bike-desk, I had a wonderfully lazy weekend. Now I have my coffee plus espresso in hand, skimming the headlines... What the fuck? Some asshole anointed the bathrooms in the Freedom Tower with racist graffiti. Seriously? What is wrong with people? Do they have nothing better to do with their lives?

TTFN
Tony

Thursday, January 24, 2013

M train blues

Good morning. I'm on the M train. I have to get a haircut today, although my extreme hat hair (between my wool cap, hood, and hard hat) is starting to look pretty hysterical. My hands are horribly chapped, my fingertips are starting to spilt. I think I would make an awesome "before" hand model.

So today, I'm wearing two layers of long underwear, a sweatshirt, a sweat jacket, and a lined coat. Oh yeah, and pants. I'm really getting sick of working in the cold. It wouldn't be so bad but my hood-mask-thingie that covers my mouth and nose steams up my glasses. Time to get Lasik, or maybe under-the-iris contacts. I think they're more expensive, but at least if something goes wrong, they're not permanent. Research must be done.

More wrestling with giant copper wires and transformers today. I'm starting to work out again, but I have to admit I'm feeling a little inferior to some of the Schwarzeneggerian guys I work with. That's OK, it's always good to have people to look up to in your life.

I'm taking the Zen approach to my life today. I am part of a perfect universe, therefore I am perfect just as I am. And so are you. The world is a better place because we're in it. We matter.

TTFN
Tony

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Reactionism - Not the best pollicy.

The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was such a horrible event, I haven't had any idea how to approach it. So in respect for those whose lives were destroyed, I've refrained from commenting on it directly. However, an indirect result has caught my eye.

New York state has passed what is perhaps the country's most draconian set of gun laws. Some think this is a good idea, some think this only penalizes law-abiding gun owners. But there's one provision that I think is a horrible idea - that doctors and therapists are now required to report anyone they think has violent tendencies.

The problem is that many people feel angry most of the time, either at themselves or others. Internalized anger feeds upon itself and eats away at the soul from the inside. If I was in therapy, I would sure as hell be afraid to admit any "naughty" thoughts to a mental-health professional if they were required to put me on a danger list. What the hell is a "violent tendency" anyway? Is it blowing away mutant zombie bastards on my Xbox? Is it writing stories where bad things happen to good people? Beating up a punching bag in the gym? Wishing a pox upon both the MTA's houses? Hmmm... germ warfare... The point is that the new law doesn't leave any leeway for common sense. A therapist who is under threat of legal action may very well choose caution over common sense. So now, some people are going to avoid getting the mental health care they need. I know everyone is afraid, but reactionism isn't the best answer.

In other news, I've finally finished the first draft of short story number nine. I had intended for it to be funny, but it wound up being dark with a side order of Twilight Zone-ish horror. I have to decide whether I want to keep it that way, or if I'm just being lazy and I should make the ending one more giant hurdle for my trusty protagonist to overcome. Thoughts?

TTFN
-Tony