I Got Your Lunch Right Here

Yesterday, I served my first day of District Court jury duty. It was uneventful. A witness failed to show, so the trial was delayed. The most exciting part was hearing an angry lady in a conference room adjoining the court scream “You, you, and YOU can all KISS. MY. ASS.”

I’ve no clue what she was on about, but her point was made and made well.

The last time I served was about a decade ago for Circuit Court. I sat on a sexual harassment case. A lady was suing a local franchised car wash and her boss for harassment. The jury consisted of twelve folks (District court only has 6 jurors). She wanted a couple million dollars for harassment and pain and suffering.

The plaintiff had witnesses that saw inappropriate touching by the male boss. Multiple co-workers heard the boss make lewd remarks and suggestions. The highlight (nadir) of the proceedings happened when the judge asked the defendant to reenact a particular sexually aggressive mood the plaintiff like to do.

So the plaintiff stood in the middle of court and made an X motion with his arm toward his crotch and said “I got your lunch RIGHT HERE.” It was so ludicrous and immature that several people couldn’t help but laugh. That drew some gavel and warnings from the bench.

The case took a WEEK. Eight hours a day (sometimes more).

When the judge finally let the jury deliberate, I went into deliberation thinking it was a cut and dry decision. The guy obviously harassed, bullied, and harmed the woman’s emotional state. Ten fellow jurors DISAGREED. They said the woman could have done more to discourage the behavior. They said she was ugly and probably enjoyed the attention. They said the woman was being a greedy bitch and that 2 million was outrageous. 10 people voted Not Guilty. They eventually got 11 not guilty votes.

I argued that by the letter of the law she was a victim of harassment. Perhaps the 2 million was a bit much. I tried to convince them to grant her 25,000 plus legal costs. Nope.

In this case, 11 not guilty votes was enough to acquit the defendant.

That jury experience was an eye opener. It definitely sapped any remaining faith in humanity that I might have had.

Fortunately, district court handles the small beans stuff. Traffic ticket challenges. Misdemeanors. Even so, it won’t stop me from telling every defendant in my best Judge Dredd voice that “I AM THE LAW.”

I AM THE LAW

I AM THE LAW

5 Overused Words to Cut from Your Manuscript

1. Very – Ladies and gentlemen, the most useless word in the English language!

2. Just – Just is the plain, unsalted potato chip of writing.

3. So – You think you should use this word as a conjunction, but you so shouldn’t.

4. Really – For real.

5. Literally – Reserved for Rob Lowe.

I’ve listed these in the order of personal annoyance. When reading for Apex Magazine the overuse of these words are typically a red flag calling out “Newbie author at work here.”

On an unrelated note, I was a guest for a recent episode of the Sequential Spirits podcast. Give it a listen. It is 80 minutes of me facing down my arch nemesis, Tressa Bowling.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/beaucouppop/SequentialEp7.mp3 (Opens to Libsyn player)

Reminder: Writing Science Fiction workshop

My next writing class TOMORROW. I’m told we only have 5 participants…which makes for a great class, but it doesn’t make the Carnegie Center or Joseph-Beth Booksellers happy (and therefore less inclined to hire my services!). If you’re interested in taking a genre writing workshop, then you won’t be disappointed.

Oh, and here’s a little incentive: I will be bringing free Apex goodies for every person in the class. Free stuff is awesome!

Registration Link: There is no link. You need to call to reserve your place (859-273-2911). This is limited to 18 students, so don’t hesitate or dawdle.

  • Venue:
    Joseph-Beth Booksellers
  • Meets On:
        Wednesdays, January 14 – February 4
  • Time:
    6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
  • Address:
    161 Lexington Green Circle
    Lexington, KY,
  • Cost:
    $65
  • Addl Info:

    Please note this class takes place at Joseph-Beth Booksellers.

    Please call 859-273-2911 to reserve a spot!

    Each class is limited to 18 participants

 

WRITING SCIENCE FICTION

Join three-time Hugo Award-nominated editor and writer Jason Sizemore as he takes you through the process of writing a science fiction short story. You will study popular modern stories as a guideline to the craft of writing shorter works. We will cover the elements of plot and the structure of short fiction. Every participant will create a new science fiction short story that will be polished so it is ready for submission to a publication. [ALL LEVELS]

Apex Magazine — Back in the saddle again

Art by Emma SanCartier

Art by Emma SanCartier

Yesterday, Apex published issue 68 of Apex Magazine. This was the first one with me functioning as editor-in-chief in 53 issues (almost 4.5 years in magazine time). Prior to 68, I edited issues 1-15 of Apex Magazine and all 12 of the printed Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest.

Damn, it feels good to be back in the saddle.

Over those 4.5 years, I’ve edited several short story anthologies. They’re fun…but they’re not as fun as the magazine.

Truth be told, I have missed running the zine. I mean, I did run the magazine in a managing sense. I helped make editorial choices here and there. And I gave editorial direction to the E-i-Cs. But it was the ability to select stories to publish, to find the diamonds in the rough, to bring the voice of fantastic writers to the public, that I missed.

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have hired three outstanding editor-in-chiefs: Catherynne M. Valente, Lynne M. Thomas, and Sigrid Ellis. Each put their stamp and legacy on the zine in their unique ways and helped build Apex Magazine into a respected, (dare I say) beloved, and 3-time Hugo Award nominee. Cat has gone on to become a fantastic novelist. Lynne co-edits a great new zine of her own. And I have no doubt Sigrid will find her star rising with whatever she decides to do next.

And now it is time to pressure you into checking out the new issue of Apex Magazine!

Check it out here:
http://www.apex-magazine.com/issue-68-january-2015/

You can read most of the content for free on the zine’s website. There are some bits of exclusive content when you subscribe or buy an eBook copy.

I hope you enjoy issue 68. Remember, new issues land on the first Tuesday of every month!

Writing Science Fiction class information

My next writing class starts soon! Like, next Wednesday soon. This should be a great class if you’re a writer looking to stretch his or her wings and to move the writing quality needle to the ‘Professional’ level.

Registration Link: There is no link. You need to call to reserve your place (859-273-2911). This is limited to 18 students, so don’t hesitate or dawdle.

 

  • Venue:
    Joseph-Beth Booksellers
  • Meets On:
        Wednesdays, January 14 – February 4
  • Time:
    6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
  • Address:
    161 Lexington Green Circle
    Lexington, KY,
  • Cost:
    $65
  • Addl Info:

    Please note this class takes place at Joseph-Beth Booksellers.

    Please call 859-273-2911 to reserve a spot!

    Each class is limited to 18 participants

 

WRITING SCIENCE FICTION

Join three-time Hugo Award-nominated editor and writer Jason Sizemore as he takes you through the process of writing a science fiction short story. You will study popular modern stories as a guideline to the craft of writing shorter works. We will cover the elements of plot and the structure of short fiction. Every participant will create a new science fiction short story that will be polished so it is ready for submission to a publication. [ALL LEVELS]

The Frame by Jamin Winans (Spoiler Free Review)

the-frame-2014-movie-posterThe best filmmakers have the ability to draw you into a world visually, intellectually, and emotionally. They know how to surprise the viewer. Christopher Nolan. Stanley Kubrick. Alfred Hitchcock. Paul Thomas Anderson. The Coen Brothers.

There’s another director who is tipping dangerously close to that pantheon of movie creators. That fellow is Jamin Winans.

Winans, an independent filmmaker who works outside the Hollywood machine, jumped on the scene with the surreal fantasy INK (which happens to be one of my favorite movies). He showed a remarkable ability to do so much with so little. There are few villains that are as memorable as the glasses wearing Incubus monsters. There are few heroes as memorable as John (played brilliantly by Christopher Soren Kelly). The film includes some of the best fight choreography I’ve seen. Not bad for a director’s second film!

INK came out in 2009, so it has been a looooooong wait for Winan’s follow up, THE FRAME. A lot of secrecy was involved with the production of the movie with good reason. While there’s no big plot twist or reveal, going into THE FRAME without any spoilers will make the experience infinitely better. Because of these lack of details and an artistically shot trailer that gives away few details, the lengthy time between films was frustrating for this fan!

What about the movie? It’s the story of Alex (David Carranza), a cargo thief, and Sam (Tiffany Mualem), a paramedic. They do not know each other, but their lives intertwine in a magical and tragic way. Christopher Soren Kelly returns and plays three key roles in the film (the guy is a chameleon it seems) that helps tie it all together. The final 20 minutes of the film are heartbreaking and will have you wondering how the heck Jamin Winans (and his wife Kiowa Winans who produced the movie) made THE FRAME for a meager $350,000.

Like INK, THE FRAME is bound firmly in surreal fantasy elements. The imagery is striking, the acting from Carranza and Mualem is top notch. Winans has a lot to say about the concept of free will, how our past affects our future, and the nature of reality. It’s a philosophical film that rewards multiple viewings.

As you probably gathered, I am big on this film. I encourage you to find it. If you’re a fan of INK, you will love THE FRAME. If you’re lukewarm on INK, you will likely find THE FRAME more accessible.

And, finally, like INK, Jamin Winans composed the soundtrack. And it is fantastic.

IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2567038/combined

BUY THE BLU-RAY/DVD HERE (Let’s help fund that next movie!)

Enjoy the trailers:

http://double-edge-films.myshopify.com/pages/trailers

Books on the cheap

Two of my books and the magazine I edit are enjoying major Cyber Monday discounts.

IRREDEEMABLE
Seventh Star Press has made the eBook edition available for 99 cents today only at Amazon. Get it here: http://amzn.to/1kXE7fs

THE ZOMBIE FEED, VOLUME 1
Apex Publications is selling the tpb and the eBook editions for my anthology at a 50% discount. Use code CYBER50 on checkout. Get it here: http://www.apexbookcompany.com/collections/all-books/products/the-zombie-feed-volume-1

APEX MAGAZINE
The three-time Hugo Award-nominated zine I edit is selling subscriptions for $15.00 Use code SUB2014 on checkout. Get it here: http://www.apexbookcompany.com/collections/apex-magazine-all/products/apex-magazine-subscription

APEX PUBLICATIONS
My book company in general is having a giant Cyber Monday sale. Select titles up to 75% off! Details here: http://www.apexbookcompany.com/blogs/frontpage/15955841-cyber-monday-deals-up-to-75-off-select-products

Darkside — A radio play by Tom Stoppard

Let me through, I’m a moral philosopher! — Ethics Man

I stumbled upon this bizarre radio play named “Darkside” on Spotify searching for the new Pink Floyd single (worth searching out, btw). It played on BBC2 Radio in the fall of 2013. It’s a play intertwined in the album Dark Side of the Moon. Here’s the official description from the BBC website:

A new drama from legendary playwright Sir Tom Stoppard, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon. The album topped the charts on its release in 1973, and it remained in the charts for 741 weeks from 1973 to 1988. With an estimated 50 million copies sold it is the band’s most commercially successful work and is frequently ranked as one of the greatest albums of all time.

Sir Tom Stoppard was first approached with the suggestion of writing a play based on the album by a friend in 1973. Now, 40 years later, he’s created a fantastical story about fear, philosophy and madness, which is woven together with the original music.

Surreal. Weird. Entertaining. Fun.

Oh, right, the music is pretty good, too.

Review of The Battery

You hear a lot of complaining about the glut of zombie-themed television, movies, and books. Perhaps zombies are worn out as a plot contrivance. But there is a reason we can’t get away from the undead: quality zombie entertainment keeps being created.

A prime example is The Battery, a film directed by and starring Jeremy Gardner. It’s the story of two ex-baseball players, a pitcher and a catcher (commonly called in baseball circles as a ‘battery’), traveling zombie infested New England together. Gardner is Ben, a free spirit who seems to thrive in the apocalypse. Adam Cronheim is Mickey, who wants to shrink away from world inside his headphones and desperately seeks the comforts of safety and food.

The movie’s last act occurs almost entirely inside the station wagon with the boys trapped by a horde of zombies. The resolution is sad and satisfying. And like the rest of the film, a bit odd.

There is a lot more dark humor in The Battery than horror. A scene involving Mickey as he’s trapped in their station wagon by a rather ‘attractive’ zombie lady is memorable, funny, and desperately sad. Ben is sharp-witted and a fun character. In perhaps one of the best drunk dancing scenes I’ve watched, Jeremy Gardner does some fine work. See below.

I’m no film theory guy, but a few things strike a chord with me regarding this scene. First, the song choice is perfection. The lyrics reflect Ben’s refusal to give up and his lighter personality. The opening close up of Ben’s face (that beard!) puts you intimately into his space during the scene. The framing, with the mural of a Garden of Eden type setting juxtaposes well with the drunken freedom Ben is feeling. The shadowing around the dance scene embodies the imaginary wall the character has placed himself inside. Then the long shots from the hallway reminding us of the real world that Ben, for all his dancing, still exists and can’t escape from.

Or perhaps it is a scene of a drunk bearded guy dancing. I don’t know.

Amazingly, the film was made for $6000. It’s beautifully shot. Jeremy Gardner does a great job as Ben. Adam Cronheim is serviceable as Mickey (in his first role).

I say check it out.

Happy birthday, Bjork!

Today is Bjork’s 49th birthday. I’ve followed her amazing musical career since I was but a wee lad. She’s weird, beautiful, and talented. A perfect trio. Happy birthday!

I dedicate this song to Bjork:

So now let’s travel Bjork’s career trajectory.

It started with this bit of weirdness. Best (read: worst) white man rapping in history. “I really don’t like lobster!”:

Then The Sugarcubes hit mainstream with this rocking single.

Bjork decided she’d had enough of Icelandic white man rapping and ventured into a solo career that was launched with a giant angry teddy bear.

She then became a movie star in one of the most depressing films I’ve ever seen, Lars Von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark (Bjork is amazing in it, of course).

And finally, she ventured into more refined experimental work. A lot of it seems to share similarity to Radiohead’s sound of the past decade.

Thank you for all the wonderful music, Björk Guðmundsdóttir!