Friday, June 30, 2006


The weekend is almost here, which means the kids will be with me again. Beautiful, beautiful E wrote something great inspired by our time at her place last weekend and she's agreed to let me share it here. She also took the accompanying picture, which I love (you can click on it to see it full-size). Here are her words:

How does the seal go? the small boy cries, standing naked in the kiddy pool, big water-filled gut, and his father makes the noise, and the boy says, I'm a seal, I am bigger than the sharks, and the boy says, What's this? Ribbit and the father calls, A frog! and the boy goes, Good! and he aims the hose, set on Jet, into the plum tree leaves and says, I'm giving them food so they won't die, and then he turns the Jet onto the little dog, who devours it, section by section, as if it were a rattler, and the father calls, Don't get the dog wet again! And the dog stands away and shimmies her drenched fur, a smart little dance, her lion head first and then her tummy and then her bushy tail, and her slender back legs stretch high, wriggle, and her rear paws leave the ground and the boy shoots the water at her, yells, Do it again!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

odds and ends

A site called took the time to do a nice little write-up of this here blog. Looks like a pretty cool site. I'll have to do a little surfing over there.

Also, this week I got to see some old friends from my acting days. My old writing partner, Stephanie Roberts, does dell'arte clown work and was part of a benefit to send some local clowns to India, so I attended that Monday night. Ran into a couple of folks who started in the Seattle theater scene the same year I did (1990) and who are still touring the world and producing theater and now live about two miles from me. Also ran into Brett Fetzer, another fringe theater guy from back in the day who's still going strong and who we published back in issue two. So nice to be back in the city again.

Oh, and I'll be starting an editing contract with a major online bookseller next week. You know the one, but I won't say the name, as I generally try to keep blog life and work life separate. Whee!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

7 Things Meme

Eep! I just did one of my periodic Technorati searches and realized I'd been tagged by both Ellen Meister and Katie Weekley for a meme... in February. I'm a bad blogger. So here, at last, are my 7 things.

Seven things to do before I die:
1. Get both of my kids through college.
2. Finish a novel.
3. Quit smoking.
4. Make sure SmokeLong isn't something that'll die with me.
5. Make enough money that my kids don't have to support me when I'm old.
6. Get a novel published.
7. Get back on stage again.

Seven things I cannot do:
1. Eat green olives.
2. Vote for a Bush.
3. Watch golf.
4. Read a romance novel.
5. Play the banjo (it's not an instrument you can learn to play quietly, or I'd probably try).
6. Wear tighty-whities.
7. Go off my meds.

Seven things that attract me to my mate:
1. Her intelligence.
2. Her honesty.
3. Her eyes.
4. Her... well, I could make the parts of her body several entries, but I'll just say her body. Yum.
5. Her talent.
6. Her creativity.
7. Her compassion.
(This was the easiest seven to fill out, by far.)

Seven things I say:
1. That's a good question.
2. Leave your brother alone.
3. I love you.
4. Do you have to go potty?
5. Yes, you're very cute. (I say this to pets a lot.)
6. Whee! (I actually type this more than actually saying it.)
7. I don't know.

Seven books I love:
1. "The River Why" by David James Duncan
2. "My Life in Heavy Metal" by Steve Almond
3. "The Blind Assassin" by Margaret Atwood
4. "Mysteries of Pittsburgh" by Michael Chabon
5. "The Coast of Chicago" by Stuart Dybek
6. "Cat's Cradle" by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
7. "Gilead" by Marilyn Robinson

Seven movies that I've loved:
1. "Delicatessen"
2. "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai"
3. "Off the Map"
4. "The Princess Bride"
5. "My Dinner With Andre"
6. "This Is Spinal Tap"
7. "Some Kind of Monster"

Seven People I Tag (gonna go with folks outside the usual Zoe suspects, since this meme seems to have made that circuit already):
1. MiamiCatt
2. Breezy
3. HistoryDetective
4. Don
5. PhoenixMons
6. Matt Getty
7. CQVenus

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Angler

I'm really digging on a fairly new publication called The Angler. In addition to publishing flash fiction, they also publish reviews of flash fiction. In issue three, there are two such reviews, both of them noteworthy to SmokeLong afficionados:

Peter Anderson reviews Katrina Denza's What She Gave to the Sea, which appeared in the December 15 issue of SmokeLong. And, of course, Kat just guest edited the June 15 issue and is joining us full-time on the editorial staff.

Joseph Young reviews Kathy Fish's The Photograph, which appeared in issue 6 of InkPot. Kath, of course, was our long-time fiction editor, and Joe has appeared in SLQ more than any other author (five times).

I love the idea of lit mags including reviews of pieces from other lit mags. We absolutely should all be promoting one another. The more readers one magazine has, the more readers another is likely to gain. I think I may drop Donovan Hall (The Angler's editor and publisher) a line to ask if he'd mind if we started doing something similar at SLQ. Y'all should absolutely go read his very fine magazine.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Now about that cover...

I know that a lot of people have had very strong reactions to the current cover, some positive, some negative. I don't think I've yet heard anyone who had a neutral reaction to it. So I'll paste here a little of my logic in deciding to use it. Here, edited a tiny bit so it makes sense without context, is something I posted in a discussion of the painting. And I (and I'm sure Marty, too) welcome all comments on the cover, positive or negative:

Maybe it's not my job as an editor to incite discussion, but dialogue is largely what I hoped for in choosing to use this cover. I think it's true that some folks new to the magazine may be repulsed enough to turn away and not read what is within. I also think that there are other readers new to the magazine who will be struck enough by it to delve in further, and hopefully to delve deeply. We're seeing a case of this already on a blog called On Life as a Sarcastic FringeHead--she was so intrigued by the cover that she dove in and devoured the entire issue and is now going through and writing reviews for every single piece. That's not just being intrigued, that's being captivated. That's giving serious thought to the material within.

Was I going for shock value? Was Marty? I can't speak for Marty, so I'll only speak for myself. I'd be lying to say that I didn't think anyone would be shocked by this, but that's not my primary motivator. When a friend asked me the other night what my favorite story was, after thinking about it for a while, I told her the cover was my favorite story in this issue. And that's not to disparage any of the stories within--I love them all. But as much as I've loved Marty's artwork for every cover, I've never really thought of any of them as being stories. This is, and it's a very strong story and one that is open to an incredible amount of interpretation (as was seen in the thread where this originally appeared).

Many people have had the initial reaction of turning away. I had the same feeling. But people are coming back to it. "What does this say? What does it make me feel? Why does it make me feel this way?" To affect people this way, to make them feel deeply and think deeply... isn't that one of art's greatest purposes? Maybe its single greatest purpose?

Again, I totally see the point about whether it is welcoming or not, and I've worried a great deal both about whether this would turn too many people away. In the end, I felt like the story this painting has to tell and the dialogue(s) that would hopefully result from its use were too compelling to pass on it.

So... as Linda Richman said, "Discuss."

Friday, June 16, 2006

reviews of stories in issue 13

Gotta love this. A reader of Katrina's blog is so taken with the current issue that she's reviewing every single story within the issue on her blog. Check it out: On Life as a Sarcastic Fringehead.

stats for issue 12

Here are the stats for issue twelve:
Issue Twelve(live from 3/15/06-6/14/06)
3/15-3/31: 48338 page views
4/1-4/30: 51800 page views
5/1-5/31: 60645 page views
6/1-6/14: 23620 page views
Total Issue 12: 184403 page views

Holy cow. I thought the jump of about 15% in page views for our last issue was big. The jump this time is 37%. That's just insane. And it looks like the major part of the spike was in the first two weeks the issue was live. I hate to spout cliches, but maybe we hit some kind of tipping point recently? It seems very likely that we'll crack 200,000 page views with the issue that just went live. That'd require a comparitively modest bump of 8%. Who'd've thunk it?

Oh, and by the way... happy birthday to us. With issue 13, we've now published three years worth of issues.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

issue 13 is live!

And it's a beauty. Katrina Denza has been amazing as our guest editor. Dig this lineup: Roberta Allen, Christopher Battle, Matt Bell, Lisa K. Buchanan, Jai Clare, Ron Currie, Jr., Steve Cushman, David Erlewine, Kathy Fish, Mike Hagemann, Jennifer A. Howard, Jeff Landon, Steven J. McDermott, Srdan Papic, Ellen Parker, Mary Lynn Reed, Chad Simpson, Claudia Smith, Girija Tropp, and Joseph Young.

Click the pic to read now!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Canadian Writers Collective

Hey, kids! You owe it to yourself to check out a newish blog that features some very, very fine writers. The Canadian Writers Collective is chock full of rich, buttery goodness. Check out the line-up: Thea Atkinson, Melissa Bell, Anne Chudobiak, Tricia Dower, Steven Gajadhar, Tamara J. Lee, Pasha Malla, Antonios Maltezos, Anna McDougall, Patricia Parkinson, Denis Taillefer, Craig Terlson, Andrew Tibbetts. That's a hell of a lot of talent right there. Go! Read!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

a good day for freedom

Seems so rare lately that we hear anything good about Americans' rights. Every day, another seems to be taken away. So today's news brought two good stories, both related to gay rights. Happy day!

Senate rejects gay marriage ban
Eyman fails to deliver

Now if only Eyman would just go away...

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

pride of the day

One thing I forgot to mention in my loves of the day post: the church where my first son was baptised and where we went this weekend (and will continue to go). I was crazy about many of the people in the congregation of the church I was involved with on the other side of the water, but occasionally, the politics of the church were diametrically opposed to mine. For example, I've often used a church's views on hommosexuality as a litmus test. While the issue itself is important to me, it is also reflective of a larger world view. It's interesting to note, for example, that Jesus is never attributed as saying anything regarding homosexuality. In the entire Bible, I believe there are 8 references to homosexuality (and some of those are debatable). In other words, views on homosexuality are hardly a cornerstone of the religion. And yet, to hear the most vocal religious "leaders" today, one would think it's one of the church's most vital issues. So... I want my church, at the very least, to be ambivalent about the issue, and preferably, to welcome homosexuals into the congregation with love. The pastor at my previous church and I disagree, at least to an extent, on this. I like him a lot, and I think he is a good man, but on this issue, we are in disagreement. And it's an important issue to me.

The church that I'm now attending, on the other hand, bills itself as "an open and affirming congregation." I'm not sure of the exact numbers, but I believe that close to 50% of the congregation is gay. At church on Sunday, for example, I saw an older lesbian couple very comfortably holding hands in the pews. In other words, I saw a committed and loving relationship that was allowed to express itself in the same way that a heterosexual couple would. Also, the pastor made a point of mentioning a meeting about participation in Seattle's upcoming Gay Pride Parade, where our church will have both an information booth and a float. Not what you'd generally expect from a church based on what is portrayed in the media, no?

And on that note, please do click on the headline for this post. In the Seattle Post-Intelligencer today is an article about local religious leaders speaking out against an initiative attempt currently in the works that seeks to roll back gay civil rights laws recently passed in Washington state. Much of the signature gathering has been done at conservative churches. Some quotes from the article:

"Not all Christians feel that way," said the Rev. Jack Sullivan Jr., the regional minister for the Northwest of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). "God confers dignity and worth on all people."

Opponents of gay rights "use discrimination to sanctify wrong and to sanctify themselves," said the Rev. Jon Luopa, the senior minister of University Unitarian Church, who vowed to mobilize his ministry if the anti-discrimination measure were challenged.

"There are not to be any second-class citizens," said the Rev. Paul Benz, the director of the Lutheran Public Policy Office for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. Benz, like many of the others present, was irked that the state's religious voice was perceived as prejudiced against gays.

"Let the world know we are Christians not by our support of discrimination but by our love," Sullivan said.

I'm thankful for leaders such as these. This is what Christianity should be.

Monday, June 05, 2006

things I love today

In no particular order:

1) Seattle.
2) My new apartment in Seattle. It's good to be back home again.
3) The very helpful building managers in my new apartment.
4) The T1 line that this building has that costs only $20/month and that was set up as simply as plugging the ethernet cable into the back of my computer.
5) Vonage, which is plugged in through a router (which came free after instant rebate from Vonage), which was also really easy to set up, and which costs $25.00/month for unlimited local and long distance. Buh-bye, phone company!
6) My kids, who helped make my first full weekend in the apartment lots of fun.
7) The park nearby, which has a great playground and a trail which leads to it right across from my apartment.
8) My incredible girlfriend, who is now five minutes away, instead of an hour and a half away.
9) My cat, who is settling in nicely, and my girlfriend's multiple pets, who are all a blast (both for me and for my kids).
10) My girlfriend's daughter, who is endlessly entertaining to my two sons.
11) Safeco Field, where the three of us (girlfriend, daughter, and I) will be going tonight. It'll be girlfriend's first baseball game in Seattle (she followed several other teams growing up) and her daughter's first baseball game anywhere (I think).
12) Woodland Park Zoo, where the boys and I now have a family pass.
13) Ikea.
14) Prozac.

And I could add multiple things I love related to writing or editing, but just this once, I'll post something completely unrelated to either.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Top Page Views for May

And Almond keeps his intense grasp on the top slot. Landon makes a big jump and Mike Young has a re-birth eleven months after publication. Y'know one of the things I love about these lists? I may be mistaken, but off the top of my head, I don't recall a single month when one author had more than one piece in the top ten. I think it's pretty damned cool that, even though people are clearly reading more than just the current issue, the wealth of readers' eyes always seems to spread out across many authors. Gotta love that.

1. Pornography by Steve Almond (June 15, 2005)
2. Five Fat Men in a Hot Tub by Jeff Landon (September 15, 2005)
3. Prey by Myfanwy Collins (March 15, 2006)
4. Voodoo by Gary Cadwallader (March 15, 2006)
5. The Rest of Your Life by Sarah Leavitt (March 15, 2006)
6. The Cellist by Antonios Maltezos (March 15, 2006)
7. Knowing Love by Tristan Moss (March 15, 2006)
8. Irvin Hammers a Cat House by Mike Young (June 15, 2005)
9. Friendship/Love by Ania Vesenny (March 15, 2006)
10. Rain or Shine by Mary Miller (March 15, 2006)