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City of such Roses.

I mean, it’s never a good day to be a white writer of an abashedly Eurocentric “urban” fantasy set in one of the whitest cities in America—but it’s not a good day to be, etc.

36 pages; color cover; three staples, each.

Ah, the glamorous life of a self-publisher.

“ – only to sit – ”

(Not pictured: the large spoon; the saddle stapler; the overnight pressing under a stack of books; the 6"x9" manila envelopes; the Patreon mailing list; the trip to the post office—)

What a week, huh?

When you go to wearily crack a “Lemon, it’s Wednesday” riff and realize it’s only Tuesday.

Beeep.

Heroic convenience store turns to blasts of high-pitched noise in an effort to prevent anyone from ever having to suffer homelessness again. I’m not exactly certain how that’s supposed to work, but—wait a minute—I’m receiving word that this is not the desired effect—

[ insert some sort of multiple face-palm gif, or maybe the one with Nathan Fillion, and his hands ]

Here’s a question the NEA literature staff has been thinking about lately: what do you call a literary title that infuses text with art and is primarily geared toward grownups? A graphic novel? Picture book? Art book? Illustrated book? Or, as the poet Matthea Harvey suggested to me recently as we sat and discussed the matter over brunch, a “tart” (text + art)?

I, I don’t, I just—how about we, maybe we just call them comics? —Unless they aren’t?

And if they aren’t? I don’t know, maybe don’t listen to someone who doesn’t care to tell the difference between medium, idiom, and genre—poetry’s a medium, after all, and intermingling (or co-mixing) pictures and verse would be an idiom thereof, and as for genre, well, that’s apparently mostly useful for figuring out which shelf Citizen ought to be put on, to move more units, or which tags should be used, to maximize SQL query returns, and in the face of such generic concerns the particular instantiation of a singular work such as this seems—

—small?

—unimportant?

—no, wait, those aren’t the words—

Crœsus he ain’t.

BUILD A WALL AND CRIME WILL FALL, the oracle intoned, and the small-fingered king clapped and chortled at the sound of it. But in his glee he failed to note: the oracle had not specified which crime would fall…

Help desk.

So there I am having gotten up at half-past four as one does on a holiday and I’m doing the usual thing where I’ve turned on the kettle and ground the coffee and fed the cats that woke me, and I’ve fired up the laptop and the Scrivener and the wireless headphones, and I’ve lit a candle and drawn a card, and shuffle’s hit on DJ Spooky’s Ghost World mix, that he did for the Africa Pavilion at the Venice Biennale a while back, so that’s what’s in my ears as I head back into the pre-dawn kitchen to plunge the French press and pour the coffee into the thermos, and when I turn around to get myself a cup there’s the Spouse, all unexpected, in her buffalo plaid pyjamas, a cup of her own in her hands, and I jump half out of my skin and make what she later told me was a “very small sound, for you” and anyway, ever since that, my wireless headphones lost their Bluetooth connection and can’t get it back, so is there, like, an easy fix? —Thanking you in advance.

Going to eleven.

Right, but how? What makes something toxic?

We have algorithms that can determine, based on the network, based on what people are doing elsewhere, based on the number of reports, based on mutes and blocks, whether this is a conversation that you’d want to stay in or you’d want to walk away from. And that doesn’t inform any direct action, but it can inform enforcement actions and whatnot, like when a human has to actually review. So toxicity is one such metric, we call it receptivity. Like, are the members of the conversation receptive to each other? We have variety of perspective as an indicator. We have shared reality.

How do you determine someone’s perspective?

Variety of perspective.

Right.

You have to… Like, this is all conversations.

—Thus, Jack “Health Thread” Dorsey.

Which side are you on?

Last week, USA Today ran a hit piece on federal prisoners with the tabloid headline, “Government shutdown: Federal inmates feast on Cornish hens, steak as prison guards labor without pay.” Not to be outdone, The Washington Post followed this up with their own shameful story under the headline, “‘I been eatin like a boss’: Federal prisoners served steak by unpaid guards during shutdown.” The problem here is twofold. First, the shutdown has nothing to do with the food served to federal prisoners and, second, the food descriptions are wildly exaggerated.

So much for USA Today and the Washington Post. —Meanwhile, somewhat closer to what must meanly pass for reality:

“We’re not talking about fancy luxury items here,” Mr. Patton said in a telephone interview.

“We’re talking about being able to converse with your attorney when you haven’t yet been convicted of a crime. We’re talking about being able to see your children or your spouse or your parents.”

“This is the absolute lowest baseline we should expect of a government when it detains people and assumes responsibility for their well-being,” he added.

Essence.

Long-time readers will recall yr. correspondent’s abiding disdain for Grover “Bathtub” Norquist, which has occasionally bubbled over to an embarrassing degree; how nice to once more be reminded nothing changes:

“There’s a moment when people say, ‘Did you notice what percentage of this agency was viewed as nonessential?’ ” said anti-tax activist Grover Norquist.

(Well. One thing’s changed: as I’m now an employee of the federal judiciary, I get to take his bullshit personally.)

—I mean, it’s no “drown it in a bathtub” but hey, you can’t knock it out of the park every time you spit on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people for a pithy soundbite. —And of course he knows that’s not what “essential” means, not in this context: it’s merely the all-too-cold equation being jerry-rigged all over the country to tell the difference between people who must show up and work, without pay, and those who’ve been furloughed—sent home, without pay.

“It’s inconvenient that they’re not getting paid,” Barry Bennett, a former Trump campaign adviser, said of the furloughed workers. “But it’s for time they’re not even going into the office.”

(I realize these think-tank apparatchiks have never worked a day in their fucknugget lives, but do they ever have even a glancing contact with the world the rest of us live in, paycheck to paycheck?)

Hopefully it never gets to the point where I can no longer afford the first secure job I’ve had in years. —But if it does, and planes start falling from the sky of his libertarian paradise, I can at least console myself with the thought of Norquist racing to the bathroom to heave his e. coli-infected guts into a bathtub he’s only just drained.

Domesticity, with cats.

Domesticity, with cats.

(That would be the redoubtable Beezel above, Fennec below, known also as Gentleman Marmalade, and the Spouse embroidering in the midst.)

It’s getting odd out there.

“Kip Manley Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the City of Roses Season One: Autumn Into Winter book, this is one of the most wanted Kip Manley author readers around the world.” —I’m not gonna link the source, for obvious reasons. Here, go read that Max Read article instead.

To yelp, or not to yelp.

“What happens to our notion of humanity if Hamlet just takes out his smartphone and asks Siri what to do?” Nothing. Not a goddamn thing. —Christ, where do they find these people?

Bhat kachang.

“First put on the peas, and when half boiled, add the bacon. When the peas are well boiled, throw in the rice, which must first be washed and gravelled. When the rice has been boiling half an hour, take the pot off the fire and put it on coals to steam, as in boiling rice alone.” —Worked out pretty well, so far, 2019, but this year, this is the year I’m gonna remember to properly source my rice and beans ahead of time.

2018’s over, if you want it.

Ha ha ha, what a year! What did I do, what did I do: burned Twitter to the ground, fucked off Tumblr, dumped Chrome and backed slowly away from the rest of Google, I never trusted Facebook or cottoned to Instagram, so what’s left? Linkedin? Good God, has anyone ever successfully extricated themselves from that?

—So now I get to sit here and wonder why, with all this time I’ve managed to free for myself, I somehow managed to not write a novelette all year.

Let’s see, what were we up to: lost a cat, gained a cat, stepped from third grade to fourth grade, went freelance, started burning more candles, and I went and found myself a job, and I’ve all of a sudden learned what it means to give a shit about what you do, and maybe that’s what’s become of some of that free time?

Maybe. —Anyway, I’m almost done with no. 32. I’m still blogging here (I liked this one; this one was fun). —I’ll probably keep waking up at four in the morning to feed the cats and light a candle and see what I can accomplish by setting one letter down after another while it’s quiet. Further bulletins, etc.

I think that just about covers it.

“I do not regret the incident. I will not apologize, given the opportunity. I don’t plan on doing anything like this in the future but to be fair I didn’t plan the initial incident, I just found them and decided to go through with it.” —NathanTheHicc