The Decameron Stories – Day Three

In the year 1348, while the Black Death went scything through Italy, ten young people took refuge in the countryside outside of Florence. To pass the time while they waited for the Reaper to be on his way, they told each other a series of stories.

On the third day of story-telling they elected Neifile as their queen of tales. She wanted to hear stories about people who attained the objects they desired, but only by virtue of their own efforts. There followed many windings and turnings, searchings and yearnings, until ten worthy objects were wrestled from the flux by even worthier hands.

Then, as on the previous two days, they all looked up from Boccaccio’s dusty pages and waited to hear the tale that I would tell.

“We enjoyed your first story and your second story very much,” Neifile said to me. “In fact, we spent much of last night discussing the themes they have in common – themes that are not at all unfamiliar to us. Money, sex, friendship, betrayal, the whims of fortune. Perhaps we don’t know what a Ford Fusion is, not precisely, but it doesn’t sound much different than a horse. We have been saying how strange and wonderful it is, that even across the chasm of seven hundred years we understand you so easily! We hope the understanding is mutual. (Did you like Filostrato’s story about the axeman, who pretended to be deaf and dumb so he could infiltrate the convent and enjoy the company of the nuns? That one was my favorite.) At any rate we beg you once more to speak freely and in keeping with your own times. Shock us and ravish us! Black Death or Covid, we are in the same predicament. The centuries cannot stand against us.”

I thanked Neifile for her kind words, and after warning them all that I couldn’t hope to rival Filostrato’s story about the nuns, I gave them another swill from the dregs of 2020.

Day Three

the tale of Dick Long Harding

There was in recent years a certain man from Minnesota, whom we might as well call Dick Long Harding, for he developed in his middle age a rare and raging affliction.  It was a condition that delighted both he and his girlfriend for the first several hours during which it occurred; but after a whole day of it she was sore in every hole and he was dangling at the edge of a heart attack.  They decided together, breathlessly, in an apartment that was completely destroyed, that he should consult a doctor about his sudden insatiability.

Continue reading “The Decameron Stories – Day Three”

Books of 2020

Last year I got myself into the habit of writing down the names of books as I finished them, because I was curious to know how much (or how little) I actually read in a given year. I was completely satisfied with the answer, which I posted somewhere around here, but the habit stuck with me and I have another index card filled up with book titles. So I figured I’d take another snapshot of my psyche and fire it into the aether:

Year of the Manuscript: Sons of the Scythe

I cheated a little bit this year. The plinth under that statue is a book I wrote rather than read. After four years of toil, Sons of the Scythe (Volume One) is finally a functioning manuscript. It took me much longer than I anticipated to complete it – and the tale itself is only half told – but in the end I did in fact complete it. I don’t care what else 2020 was; for me it will only ever be the year in which I printed the first volume of Sons of the Scythe.

If you’re curious what such a manuscript might look like:

I was tempted to carry those pictures out to the hundredth slide, but I think I would have been the only one in on the joke. I’m sure I’ll be posting more about Sons of the Scythe in the future – hopefully to inform the aether that I’ve been published – but in the meantime here’s the upshot.

  • 188,000 words
  • alternate history/ literary fiction
  • set in an alternate version of Imperial Russia – in a land called Scythia
  • based loosely (very loosely) on the Romanov dynasty
  • a long cold book about death
  • an absurd epic

I haven’t decided whether or not to post any excerpts from it, or whether to make it available in part or in its entirety as downloadable content . . . I only know for certain that I won’t be self-publishing through Amazon again. I have nothing against Amazon or self-publishing, but I put too much blood into this particular book to watch it sink into that abyss. If I continue to utterly fail with traditional publishing, maybe I’ll host it here and sell it myself. I have no idea. Right now I’m just happy to have birthed the fucking thing.

As for the Books I Didn’t Write

Manufacturing Consent was by far the most important and impactful book I read this year. I sort of “knew” what I would find in there – an indictment of mass media as a willing tool of governments and corporations – but it’s nevertheless devastating to see the case laid out so clearly, viciously, and irrevocably. It’s one of those books that changes more than your opinion, but it actually alters the way you construct that opinion. It sharpened my bullshit machete – that’s a better way to put it.

Left Hand of Darkness and Kafka’s Complete Stories were the books I enjoyed the most. The former is a sci-fi adventure through an otherworldly communist dystopia; the latter is Kafka. Of Kafka’s stories I recommend The Penal Colony, The Hunger Artist, The Burrow, and The Metamorphosis.

Don Quixote and Lord of the Rings – the books I read again. Old favorites to get through quarantine.

Varieties of Religious Experience wins the Worst-Book-of-the-Year Award. I appreciate that it’s author, William James, was breaking new ground – namely, he was proposing to study religion scientifically, as a psychological and anthropological phenomenon – but this stuff is as dry as the paper it’s written on. It’s a book I really want to like but can’t. I suspect it was brilliant in its day and has aged poorly.

Quotes to Carry into 2021

In every venture the bold man comes off best, / even the wanderer, bound from distant shores.

Suspicious we are, we men who walk the earth.

I’d rather die at sea, with one deep gulp of death, / than die by inches on this desolate island here!

Homer – The Odyssey

Of all that is written I love only what a man has written with his blood.

The tragic artist is no pessimist: he is precisely the one who says Yes to everything questionable, even to the terrible – he is Dionysian.

What was formerly just sick is today indecent – it is indecent to be a Christian today. And here begins my nausea.

Nietzsche – from Zarathustra, Twilight of the Idols, and Antichrist

The lunatic’s visions of horror are all drawn from the material of daily fact. Our civilization is founded on the shambles, and every individual existence goes out in a lonely spasm of helpless agony.

William James – Varieties of Religious Experience

Compromise and common sense are habits of mind, and cannot be established in a written constitution.

Men are born ignorant, not stupid; they are made stupid by education.

In all this I feel a grave danger, the danger of what might be called cosmic impiety. The concept of “truth” as something dependent upon facts largely outside of human control has been one of the way in which philosophy hitherto has inculcated the necessary element of humility. When this check upon pride is removed, a further step is taken on the road towards a certain kind of madness . . .

Bertrand Russell – History of Western Philosophy

I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time . . . when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide almost without noticing back into superstition and darkness.

Carl Sagan – The Demon-Haunted World

“How little you know about it! . . . Why, I have yet to tear my garments, scatter my armor about, and bang my head against these rocks – and other similar things that will amaze you.”

Cervantes – Don Quixote

And a Resolution

I hereby resolve to post more than two posts this year.

Xenomatra – Part 2 [short story]

Intro to Part 2

Link to Part 1

On the formatting: I hope the screenplay sections are readable.  I realize that they’re formatted a little strangely – I did what I could with the limited tools available.  I still can’t figure out how to indent the first line of a paragraph, so it’s a bit miraculous if I managed to cobble together some legible script writing.

On the epithets: There are some racial slurs in the text.  I don’t use them flippantly or gratuitously.  I’m confident that the character who makes use of them is absolved in the end.

On the story itself: This is either the dumbest or the smartest story I ever wrote.  Part of me wants to write twenty more Xenomatra stories, follow her into adolescence as she grapples with her identity, into adulthood as she thrashes in the moral quicksand of social justice.  The other part of me wants to burn the little bit that I’ve already written.  What I know for sure is that nobody will publish any of it.

Anyway, here’s the second part of Xenomatra – Social Justice Warrior Continue reading “Xenomatra – Part 2 [short story]”

Xenomatra – Part 1 [short story]

A Brief Intro:

Here’s another story that will never have a home.  This one had its genesis in the very simple, completely juvenile observation that the Greek goddess of ‘social justice’ is a dyke.  Never mind that her name is spelled D-I-K-E and is pronounced differently (it rhymes with Nike) – it was close enough to the mark that I had myself a chuckle at the expense of wokeness.

It ought to have ended there, with the ‘heh’ I probably muttered under my breath.  But for some reason a mythic origin story for the Social Justice Warrior began to appeal to me.  I wondered what would happen if I set aside my antipathies and chased a certain kind of narrative logic to its unbiased conclusion.  Xenomatra is the unexpected result.  I’m posting it in two parts because a) it’s rather long, and b) formatting this particular story for the blog has been a nightmare.  Part 2 is still under the knife.

So here is Part One of Xenomatra — the original SJW. Continue reading “Xenomatra – Part 1 [short story]”

Escape from Psycho Pasture – Part 3 [Jim #19, Short Fiction]

The gates of Psycho Pasture opened after Jim ate the banana, and the whole host of pedophiles was unleashed upon the grand plane of paradise. There were some like Jim and the King, who had suffered innocently in the unlucky crossfire between the devil’s conceit and humanity’s prejudice – but most were pale and greasy and thoroughly guilty. Tens of thousands of child-raping men and women stepped out into the light and were bewildered by it. Continue reading “Escape from Psycho Pasture – Part 3 [Jim #19, Short Fiction]”

Escape from Psycho Pasture – Part 2 [Jim #18, Short Fiction] #18

For two years Jim occupied a dungeon cell at Psycho Pasture. His leg was chained to a radiator, he used a stamping machine to make customized license plates for the non-rapist free peoples of paradise, and his cell mate was a pale and greasy man with thin hair and skin disease. Garvey was remorseless about his pedophilia, and Jim often tried to convince Garvey that he ought to feel bad about raping children.

“I mean, at the very least you know that you’re an asshole, right?” Jim said on several occasions. “All other considerations aside, all arguments out the window, in the absence of God and absolute moral authority – you still know in your heart that you’re asshole.” Continue reading “Escape from Psycho Pasture – Part 2 [Jim #18, Short Fiction] #18”

A Mile High in Paradise [Jim #16, Short Fiction]

Abdulaziz al-Omari stood on the corner of a busy intersection in Downtown Paradise. He rang a bell and wore a cardboard sign that said, 911 was an inside job. He looked weathered.

Jim watched him from the veranda of the ice cream shop, spooning sundae into his mouth. The terrorist didn’t wear much for an expression – maybe it was sober and kind of defeated – and he just rang his bell with long steady swings of his arm. Every now and again a passerby dropped a nickel in his tin can. Continue reading “A Mile High in Paradise [Jim #16, Short Fiction]”

Book of Jim – New Novel – Fiction

Book of Jim eReader illustration Internal Cover

The Book of Jim: Agnostic Parables and Dick Jokes from Lucifer’s Paradise – finally published.  Took me a few more months than I thought it would, but it was worth it.  The paperback is slick as hell, the kindle works great, the illustrations are fantastic.  Really happy with it.  If you’re a nook-head, the nook version will be available as soon as I can get it to work.  Epub is a nightmare when it comes to images.  Anyway, here are the amazon links to the paperback and kindle editions:



The stories are still floating around on the blog, free as ever.  Metadirt Part 2 coming soon.

Jim Novel and Short Film Status

Well, if you’ve been following these crazy stories at all, you’ll have noticed that there’s been a significant drop in the rate of posts lately.  I finally got another story uploaded – if you didn’t see it on the main page it’s right here.  It’s a two or three parter, so expect some more soon.

As for the novel, the manuscript is finished and the illustrations and cover are on the way, and all that’s left is the drudgery of formatting.  The Book of Jim will be available in paperback, kindle, and nook real soon.  For real this time.  I promise.  If it’s not, I’m either dead or insane or both, and you should probably look for something else to read.

The short film Limbo is finished.  I’ve seen the final cut, and it’s hilarious.  I love every second it.  Fangso and Haines did a brilliant job on it.  Most recently it’s been accepted to a film festival in Florida, and we’re waiting to hear from Tribeca.  If you’re one of those amazing and intellectually disturbed people who put money into the kickstarter, hopefully you’ve gotten all the updates and goodies you were promised.  If otherwise, get a message to me and we’ll make sure you get sorted.  The film itself, you’ll have to wait a little while longer while it runs through the festivals.  They can’t release it while it’s “on the circuit”.  How big of a while I’m not sure.  Probably a few months yet.  And after that, it will be available for free online.  Especially on this blog.

That’s it for now.  Expect the book and some more stories soon.


Metadirt – Part 1 [Jim #14, Short Fiction]

There was a knock on the door. Jim opened it, expecting cake or tits or something else that was nice. Instead he got a face full of Billy Mays.

“Hey Jim! Remember me? We met at Lucy’s party. Well we didn’t really meet, you wore my head around for a while before you bashed everybody’s limbs off with a baseball bat. Of course you remember me. It’s the beard, everyone remembers the beard. You mind if I come in? I think I should come in. This is a lovely house! Wow! I love the couch! Is that Chenille?”

“Um, I don’t know. What are you doing here?” Jim wasn’t wearing pants.

Billy sniffed the coffee table. “Pine was a good choice,” he said. “Have you ever considered purchasing insurance against the eternal, Jim?” Continue reading “Metadirt – Part 1 [Jim #14, Short Fiction]”