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Sunday, November 18, 2018

Poor little shoes with no one inside them

Took this picture while waiting for the F at Broadway - Lafayette Street during the slush-storm. Maybe they were ugly, or soaked, or just didn't fit. Maybe they were evil shoes, patiently waiting for some unsuspecting soul to put them on, Then the wearer would find they could never take them off - not in the shower, or in bed, or in the swimming pool - never. Their toenails would grow painfully longer and longer, causing unbearable pain, until finally the person had no choice but to cut their own feet off. Then the shoes would make their way back to the Lafayette Street station, where they would hungrily wait for the next victim.

Alternatively, maybe a very pious nudist who only wore them to protect the soles of her feet got raptured, leaving her footwear behind?

Maybe a demonic train ate the wearer, and spat them out?

We'll never know.

TTFN
-Tony



Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Geeking to extremes

Monty Python veteran turned historian Michael Palin recently wrote a book about the doomed Arctic voyage of the Erebus.He held a lecture at Saint Francis College in Brooklyn Monday night, so of course, I jumped at the chance to attend.

Seeing as I work bizarre hours, (after treating myself to an egg cream and matzoh ball soup at Katz Deli) I arrived there an hour and a half early. I figured I'd check out the venue before perhaps grabbing a beer. I walked towards the auditorium, and an elderly man with a kind and gentle face walked back down the hall towards me.

"Excuse me," he said in a British accent as he pointed towards the auditorium, "but are you involved with all of this?"

Now, I've met various celebrities in my life, but anyone who knows me knows what a complete Monty Python nut I've been since my teenage years. And here was my favorite member - one of my life-long idols - standing only a few feet away, waiting for me to put a few coherent words together to form a sentence.

"No," I managed to say as I extended my hand, "but I've been a huge fan of yours all my life." He took my hand and gracefully shook it. How could I explain to him about the happy times I had had with like-minded friends and family, listening to Python albums, and watching everything from Flying Circus to A Fish Called Wanda? How could I explain that in the 1980s, passing another geek in the hall and whispering "Wait 'till Biggus Dickus hears of this!" was the nerd equivalent of drawing an Ichthys (aka "Jesus Fish") in the sand - making life just a bit less lonely?

"I just wanted to say," I said, "thank you for all the years of laughter, you've spread a lot of happiness in the world."

The poor man, faced with yet another possibly crazed American fan, just smiled and said, "Oh... Thank you." He suddenly seemed embarrassed that I had come so early, as if - incredibly - he were putting me out in some way by not being ready. I assured him that he wasn't, and went outside to text all my friends and family - like the nerd that I am - that I had just actually met the one and only Micheal Palin.

Hey, at least I managed to refrain from singing "I'm a Lumberjack" or "Every Sperm is Sacred."

TTFN
-Tony

Monday, October 15, 2018

Dream 753

Last night, I dreamt that I was washing dishes, while everyone else was in the living room watching Annie. For some reason, our apartment had become my grandparents' old house in Brooklyn.

So there I am, scrubbing a cup while cherubic 80s show-tunes are coming from down the hall, and I can't seem to get ramen out of the bottom, no matter how hard I try. In fact, the corners of the sink are filthy, full of hair, and caked with dried Oodles of Noodles. Of course, I do what any parent would do - I shout for the kids to get in there, so I can blame one of them.

By this time, the kitchen - which has become completely filthy - has sunk down about five feet, and has stairs leading down. Joe comes, taking them in stride, but before I can rant about the ramen, he asks, "Hey, is that a mouse?"

And yes, there's a big, fat, gray mouse running around the kitchen. Great, I think, how am I going to get it out of here? I look around for a box, when I realize that it's not a gray mouse, it's a black kitten.

I pick it up, and it snuggles against me. Cute, I think, but I really don't want a cat. I show it to Jen, and she points out that it has a collar. I ask her to read its tag, so we can get it back to its owner.

We go out the front door, and wind up in an ornate, gold hotel lobby. The kitten has now become a puppy. "Wait," I think, "I must be dreaming, here. This was definitely a kitten a second ago." The concierge approaches, and it's (circa Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey) Pam Grier.

Cool, I say to myself, I'm definitely dreaming. Time to go lucid, and have some fun. I'll just give this dog to -

And then, of course, the alarm woke me up.

Feel free to analyze.

TTFN
-Tony

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Life, the Internet, and Everything

I used to enjoy social media, but these days, it just makes me sad. It seems like no one is able to see anything from anyone else's point of view anymore, and everyone is at each other's throats. When I was a kid, our teachers used to tell us not to judge anyone until you've walked a mile in their shoes (moccasins?) Now it seems that people are proud of not being able to do that - and will come up with all kinds of straw-man arguments on why they're "right" not to do so - even for their own friends and family.

I feel very naive, because when the internet came out, it seemed like everyone could have a voice, and that would make the world better. Instead it wound up creating ideological bastions where everyone could reassure themselves that they're "right" and scream generalized accusations at everyone who's "wrong." In the recent words of Stephen Fry, "A grand canyon has opened up in our world... Neither on each side can hear a word that the other shrieks, nor do they want to."

Here's another favorite quote: "You'll never be able to use facts and logic to talk someone out of a position they've reached using emotion." I wish I remember who said this (Robert Anton Wilson, maybe?), but it should be on the sign-in page of every social media site.

I have to admit, I've played more than my share of identity politics in my life. I'm sure you could read a lot of them here. But in the end, it's not a zero-sum game. Spreading hate or love won't balance any scales. Hating one group doesn't add love to another; refusing compassion won't replenish any that was once refused to you. Love may not always get you love in return, but causing pain isn't going to lessen yours.

TTFN
-Tony

Saturday, August 25, 2018

WE HAVE A WINNER!

After five years, Jacqueline LaRocca was the first to figure out that "Shattered Possibilities" is really about... Pac Man, from the ghost's point of view! 
Thank you to everyone who participated. 

TTFN 
Tony

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Tony's Mister Mom Constructive Criticism for School Plays

Tony's Mister Mom Constructive Criticism for School Plays:

1. If you give the kids wireless mics, DO NOT put giant speakers at the foot of the stage so that every other minute, everyone is drowned out by feedback.

2. Turn the damn period / lunch bells off.

3. Parents - we're all video recording our kids on our phones. That's cool. You know what's NOT cool? Reviewing your kid's scene at full volume while the other kids onstage are still acting.

4. I don't care if you're super PTA mom and you got there first. Reserving the entire front row for your friends and family is just rude.

5. Just enjoy the kids' energy and happiness.

PS (for the next day's spring concert): Lady, I don't know what about you offends me the most: The fact that you sat in the front row and texted throughout the show until your kid was on, the fact that you left the moment your kid's class was done, or the fact that you video-recorded your kid in portrait mode.

TTFN
-Tony

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Fishers of Men

My newest short story, Fishers of Men is now available on Amazon! As you can see, it's a sort of Sci-Fi - Horror - Catholic - Noir mashup. I think this will definitely go down in history as one of my favorite covers.

TTFN
-Tony




Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Whenever I read a work of fiction, I like to have some background information about how and why it was written. So for others who enjoy reading about such things, here's the background on "Just One of Those Human Things."

BE WARNED, THAR BE SPOILERS BELOW!

Decades ago, I read a black-and-white short story in Heavy Metal. I can't remember what it was called, or what it was about. If I ever come across it again, I promise to come back and give due credit. At any rate, I remember that there was an android (humanoid robot) dressed up in World War II British combat gear. He was patrolling a sort of wasteland planet, reminiscing to himself. At one point he came across a human, and shot him, crying, "Human filth!" This android bears very little resemblance to the end character of Sir Aloysious, but over the years, my mind often thought back to him. Who was this lone, robotic patroller of the wastelands? Where was he? Why was he there? I resolved to answer these questions, someday.

The story took on a number of forms. At first, Aloysious was just a robot, and did not have any human attachments at all. He was also on his own. I don't remember what exactly triggered the moment Hannah came onto the scene. But once I added her, the story took on another dimension that it definitely had lacked.

I can't deny, having just read it, that Don Quixote does not bear some influence upon the story. After all, it's the tale of a robot who is convinced that it is something it is not. But there's no shame in that.

I'm a big Doctor Who fan, especially of the Tom Baker era. At one point over the years, I came up with the question, "What if the Doctor was killed leaving K9 stranded, and he went crazy and convinced himself that he was the Doctor?" This sort of twisted fan-fiction experiment helped carry the story through points where I was stuck.

Last but not least, users of social media will probably recognize that the AI's are a satire of online arguments, especially those on Reddit. After the last election, everyone on the internet seems to be fractured into camps of us vs. them, and incapable of discussing anything without first attacking those who have a different viewpoint. Besides, I like the idea of artificial intelligences arguing with each other non-stop about which of them is the most human.

That's about it for now. I'd like to say thank you to those who have so kindly reviewed it. Each Amazon and Goodreads review is a huge help. (Wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more.)

 I've just finished the first draft of my next short story. It's almost 16k words, so it's actually what you would call a novelette. It's a sort of Catholic-Horror-SciFi-Noir, so there will be a little something in there for everyone. Stay tuned!

TTFN
-Tony 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

To Dream The Impossible Dream...

I finally finished reading Don Quixote. I'm usually a purist when it comes to adaptations, but I have to admit that I prefer The Man of LaMancha ending (not the book-ending story of Cervantes and the Spanish Inquisition, but the end of Don Q's life). He should have died being mad, glorious Don Quixote, not as the beaten and depressed - but "sane" - Alonso Quixano.

The interesting thing is that as a kid, I was always told that sci-fi, horror, and fantasy books were "trash," etc. It's amusing to read that 400 years ago, everyone said the exact same thing about books of knights and chivalry.

I recently visited my parents. After watching a bit on Laugh-In that I remembered word for word, I wound up singing a Henry Gibson song about a mule that I probably haven't thought of in 35 years for my sainted mother. It's amazing what completely useless songs lie buried in the silt beneath the oceans of my memory.

In other news, my father has an old, plastic deck of pinochle cards. They came with a book extolling the virtues of this amazing, new, futuristic product -plastics! What will future archeologists think?

TTFN
-Tony

Monday, April 09, 2018

And the award for Best Vader Slaughter Scene in a Motion Picture goes to...

I re-watched Rogue One yesterday. I love Robot Chicken et al as much as the next red-blooded American, but after decades of comedic and "tragic" deconstruction (of the prequels), I love how the final scene brought Vader back in all of his old, terrifying glory.

Speaking of Star Wars, is there any chance we could crowdfund a few billion dollars, buy the rights back from Disney, and restore the old EU as canon? Everyone would just have to pay $1. Then we could have Luke and Han back as heroes, the way they were for decades. Hell, we might even get the unspecial-weshel versions of the original trilogy back...

TTFN
-Tony

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Not to shill, but it's an example all others need to follow!

This week, there are a few private things that I'm grateful for. But just so I don't completely sound like an ambiguous social media twat, let me thank Simply Asia for putting their vegetables in separate packets, so I don't have to pick the damn things out. You rock the world of instant noodles.

TTFN
-Tony

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Analyze This, and Some of That

I had a few weird dreams last night, but this one was the most vivid:

I went to my parents' house. They asked me to fix the electricity in the toilet in their closet. This request seemed strange to me for obvious reasons. Sure enough, there was a toilet in their closet, with a high-voltage BX cable running through the water. I opened the connecting box and disconnected the wires.

Then Alec Balwdwin rushed into their bedroom. He was dressed as a 1930s mobster, complete with a wide-striped zoot suit. Two similarly dressed gunmen followed, brandishing tommy guns with round-drum magazines. He demanded that I only use HIS brand of wire nuts, and handed me two of them. They were purple. He grabbed the two red Scotchloks out of my hand, and threw them out of the window.

Feel free to analyze.

TTFN
-Tony

Friday, March 16, 2018

An Open Letter to Rush Limbaugh

Dear Rush (may I call you Rush?)

The great late physicist Stephen Hawking didn't come up with the Big Bang scientific theory, it's what's generally accepted because it's the theory that best proves the evidence. That's the way science works.

(Keep in mind, this theory does not prove that "nothing" existed before, just that it's what scientists call an Event Horizon - which means that nothing that happened before it can be modeled with current knowledge, nor could it have any predictable effect on what came afterward. Think of it as information written on a piece of paper. If you burn it you'll have a handful of carbon that might show you what it was previously made of, but it would be impossible to know what it said. Likewise, as no one else can ever read it, neither the present nor the future can ever be affected by it.)

For example, without any other evidence, humans thought. "The world must be flat." But soon proof (ships appearing mast first over the horizon) accumulated, and the theory that the world was round developed.

Then we thought that the Earth was the center of the universe, because the bible said so, and to the naked eye, it appeared logical. But then the telescope came along, and the paths of heavenly bodies were mapped. The only way the new data made any sense was to accept the theory that everything, even our planet, moves in orbits.

Likewise, all the scientific data we have points to the universe expanding into existence from a single point - AKA The Big Bang theory. Now, no one can prove this beyond a shadow of a doubt for obvious reasons. But until there is evidence that disproves it, it is the most accepted scientific theory (which, by need of evidence and repeatable experimentation, is different than a regular theory.)

Interestingly enough, we've discovered that recently, that expansion has begun to accelerate instead of slowing, as would make sense. But instead of saying "nope, we're ignoring that because it disproves our theory" scientists accept it (Dark Energy), and are trying to discover why. If this leads to a new, more accurate model, then it will be generally accepted. That's how science works.

Keep in mind, there is nothing about the Big Bang theory (which was put forth by a priest) or even evolution which suggests that there isn't a God, just that it happened differently than a bunch of goat herders thousands of years ago said it did. The religious world had to eventually accept that the Earth goes around the sun despite what's written in Genesis, so why couldn't it be wrong about other things? Agreeing with an atheist on matters of science doesn't make you one. There are many scientists throughout the world who practice religion.

I'll leave you with this thought. If God created man to do his work, then wouldn't he want man to find out all he could about how his creation really works to do so?


TTFN
-Tony

P.S. This discussion is redundant, as everyone knows that the Flying Spaghetti Monster created the world, along with the great Beer Volcano and the Olive Garden of Eden.

May you all be touched by His Noodley Appendage.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Coming Soon, to a Kindle Near You!

Often, when I'm working on a story, I'll doodle the characters to help get a sense of them. The cover sketch, however, takes a little more work.

Coming soon!

TTFN
-Tony

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

It CAN'T be worse than the TV movie

Despite the bad reviews and cheesy dialogue in the trailer, I still want to give A Wrinkle in Time a chance. Sadly, Mandy says it looks too scary for her, so I'll probably wait for Netflix.

TTFN
-Tony

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Let No Ruffle Go Unfeathered

I've seen a lot of IPs that I grew up with go through major changes in recent years - some of them deliberately baiting and trying to cause division (see below) - and my question is this:

Instead of buying or inheriting a property and making wide-swept changes, why not just make something new?

If creators have an idea, theme, ideology etc. that they wish to express, why do they have to hijack classic, beloved characters to do it? Why not create something new of their own? If it's good, it will stand up on its own. The latest formula seems to be "Hijack existing IP, then spew preemptive, generalized accusations at anyone who doesn't like our changes."

Here's a Muppet News Flash: No one is obligated to like anything.

If the answer is "because an existing fanbase means money in the bank" then when they shit all over that existing fanbase, they deserve all the criticism they get.

Speaking of untrue adaptations, I've finally gotten around to reading Don Quixote (a modern translation, not the 400 year old original Spanish version, obviously.) He's a bit of a dick compared to the Peter O'Toole cinematic version. But I guess when you adapt a book that's about 1000 pages long, you have to change a few things. I can't wait until Terry Gilliam's The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (starring Jonathan Pryce) is finally released. Gilliam is a god. He's allowed to change anything he wants.

Yes, I'm a proud hypocrite.

TTFN
-Tony



Monday, March 05, 2018

Black Mirror Rating Request

While it's all still very well written and great science fiction, I wish the Netflix produced episodes of Black Mirror (seasons three and four) came with a sort of emoji rating. That way those of us who loved the original British series for its dark, sick and twisted dystopian Twilight Zone tone can know which of the new feel-good, wider-audience episodes to skip.

TTFN
-Tony

Friday, March 02, 2018

Giant Squids Have Feelings Too!

Okay, here's something that always bugged me about the otherwise awesome "Key to Time" miniseries on Doctor Who. The Doctor and Romana practically cream in their jeans over the injustice of trapping princess Astra, but they didn't give two shits that the same fate awaits Kroll, the giant squid. Maybe he had friends and family, squid hopes and squid dreams, he had every right to live his giant squid life as Astra did. But since he wasn't a pretty blonde, no one - not even the Doctor - cared.

But then again, Tom Baker wasn't planning to marry the actress.

TTFN
-Tony

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Dream Journal Entry 3.14159265...

A few nights ago, I dreamed that my paternal grandfather was still alive, and that he was driving my father's old, black, late 60s Buick. It broke down half-submerged in water, and I had to fix it underwater. I needed a snorkel, but for some reason mine was broken. I went from store to store and shop to shop trying to buy a new one, but they were all broken, or didn't work.

Keep in mind that IRL I do not own a snorkel, nor do I know doodlysquat about car repair.

So now Trump wants to do away with due process for gun owners who might be a problem. Yeah, I'm all for sane reform, but doing away with the constitution isn't the answer.

I've decided to work on a few short stories before I gear up for another novel. It never ceases to amaze me how sometimes the story or characters take on a life of their own, and things go off in their own direction. While I try to leave things alone at times to let the creative juices simmer, this does illuminate the importance of writing every day. My brain is much more in a creative zone when I'm actually being creative.

TTFN
-Tony


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Sigh

In the old days, I would have just ran to this blog, and stated my feelings about things like school shootings and Star Wars films (not that they're related) but lately, with everything so polarized and so much vitriol between anyone who dares to disagree with anyone else, I fell like the fun has been taken out of it. Because saying "I'm above it all" is just another kind of virtue signalling.

I mean, I feel a deep and terrible sadness for the victims, for their families, and for the surviving kids. I feel sad and angry when I see people on one side claiming that it's a hoax, and that these kids who suffered so much and had their lives changed forever are just actors. I feel sad and angry when I see people on the other side spewing accusations against anyone who believes in their second amendment rights, or who dared to vote for a president they don't like. I feel sad and angry whenever I see the phrase "Toxic Masculinity" rear its head (yay, let's teach our boys that their gender is inherently evil. Can't cause any psychological harm doing that...) The list goes on and on.

So does it matter if I say "I believe in the right to own a weapon and protecting all of the constitution, but the assault weapon ban needs to be reinstated?" Does it matter if I say "Generalized accusations on either side just makes everything worse?" (I know, I know, it's Russian Trolls, all the way down.) Does it matter if I think the NRA needs to get their heads out of their asses, but goddamn - the deputy who was supposed to be protecting the kids ran and hid, the FBI was warned about this monster and did nothing, the cops were warned about him and did nothing... It's not a whataboutism to point out that the government failed at every possible level.

Does it matter if I feel that people on both sides of the issue are, for the most part, decent human beings?

Probably not.

Be decent to each other. You don't have to be excellent, just decent.

TTFN
-Tony.

PS. The Last Jedi sucked.

Monday, February 05, 2018

At least it wasn't Tom Brady.

Last night I dreamt I was walking down my parents' street in the middle of a moonlit night. I saw a singing, ghostly apparition with the most beautiful voice I'd ever heard. It was Judy Collins.

She then sang me questions about my books, and demanded that I answer in song.

Please feel free to interpret.

TTFN
-Tony

Thursday, January 11, 2018

School Basement Antiquities

Check out these antiques I found in a school basement in Brooklyn - the likes of which our children shall never know!

TTFN
-Tony