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A moment of your time.

Over at the city, the thirty-second novelette is appearing this week, and next; the penultimate chapter of the current volume, the third, which we’re calling In the Reign of Good Queen Dick.

And I know what you’re thinking: Kip, thirty-two novelettes—that’s a lot! —But you count it all up, it’s only 484,470 words, in toto, so far: considerably less than two Songs of Ice and Fire. (It’s also just over one Lord of the Rings; 44% of a Harry Potter; 15% of a Wheel of Time, or a Malazan Cycle, though it’s 50% of a Marq’ssan; 28% of a House of Niccolò; and 210% of a Valley of the Nest of Spiders.)

So it’s not that much, in the scheme of things. You could probably get all caught up before I’m done posting this one.

No. 32: only to sit

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.

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.

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.

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.

A new world.

So the ten-year-old is getting into D&D, so I went and made a world for her.

The Fedhir Nation.

(It gets easier, as you get older, making worlds. —I merely filed incriminating details off of this, and added a sprinkling of these. —Voila!)

Of course, almost all of this will never be seen; it’s all just airy atmosphere. Ambience. From the notices sent forth to candidates:

No Dwarves! No Elves! No Half-Anything! —Otherwise, whichever Bob you like might be your uncle. —You’re newly minted adventurers headed for the city known variously as Ossrond, Othronn, Ethrynn, Ndu Kemen, Sunso, or, most formally, as Nueämbar—a fantastical outpost of the Elven Empire (the Fedhir Nation), anchor of commerce and urbanity on the great green Coast of Flies (the Gnat Palastor)—and site of the Elves’ great and terrible defeat of the Dwarves, mumblety-mumble years ago. —It’s the darkening days of autumn, and great huracanoe-storms are building out in the Circled Sea to herald winter with tree-lashing rains. Fisherfolk, merchants, coffee-farmers and tea-distillers, brontosaurus-herders, mountebanks and mendicants, the landless houseless peoples all along the Coast of Flies are streaming to the fabled groves of Nueämbar and the vasty caverns within—or rather, the fabled caverns, and the vasty groves within—for shelter in the coming cold wet wind-tossed season. And you are there, among the raucous hordes! —If you’d like a glimpse of this wondrous city before we arrive, look up images of the Son Doong cave system, and imagine a dozen Rivendells tucked here and there, like kudzu creeping into Khazad-dûm.

So: pants-seated night-flown Adventure in dragon-adjacent dungeons! —Further bulletins as events (and the dice) warrant.

Filled from crown to toe-top full of direst cruelty.

So the nine-year-old saw a neat little card at Movie Madness that had a cartoon of donkey-headed Bottom in a referee’s shirt and a list of ye olde First Folio titles and some dates, and it was for something called OPS, which apparently stands for Original Practice Shakespeare, and you can go read about that later because the important thing right now is she saw the item in re: the Gentlewomen’s show, a Macbeth played entirely by a cast of women and non-binary actors, and said I want to go see that, so we did, up on Mt. Tabor on a cool August night that was lovely until the fog rolled in and then the rain with Birnam Wood but still, I mean, the Scottish play, so anyway, that’s how the nine-year-old’s first Shakespeare was Macbeth.

Lady Macbeth; the Macbeths.
Duncan and Lady Macbeth.
Macbeth soliloquizes.
The Macbeths.
Macbeth and Seyton.
Me and Her.
Grass.

A gifted mimic, he nonetheless eschew[ed] regional accents for comic effect.

They’re waxing utopian, over at mastodon, and who wouldn’t really, nowhere to go but up, but somebody went and posted a link to a ca. 2003 Dave Winer pæan to the power of the link, and while it’s perfectly inoffensive and utterly unfalse, still: one wishes for a sour snap, a bite, something not so blandly self-congratulatory as a dig at the New York Times (even then). If we’re reaching back fifteen, seventeen years, why not go for someone with panache, like—

—and here I admit I googled, because one does like to be sure, and I was right, about the spelling, but what caught my breath was the past tense in the little Wikipedia preview over to the side, there—

Dean Cameron Allen was a Canadian typographer, web developer and early blogger—

Back in January. —I’m just hearing about it now because we live in the future, where we are all wired together and interconnected and no news of any import escapes our sight.

Everything here and at the city runs on Textpattern, which he began, but it’s no exaggeration to say that every time I think about how to write on the web, and how to present that writing on the web, I think with Dean Allen; I think my way through what I picked up from how he went about what he did, clean and simple and rigorous; a way of being online that was what I wanted to be when I grew up. (Even down to such fine points as the use of en-dashes in the flow of the story over there, rather than the usual em.)

People who knew him better have said better things about him, and the Globe and Mail’s obituary was achingly personal, but maybe it’s best to let him have the last word.

Burned all my pronouns, what good are pronouns.

I mean, I’ve written about pronouns, like, fourteen years ago pronouns, and while I wince and cringe today at the patronizing tone I took then (forgive me, I was old), the basic stance is one I still take firmly: any system with two gender-poles requires at a minimum five genders of pronouns to operate with any dignity or grace. —That said, and the reason I bring this up now, now that pronouns and their various uses have progressed so far that bios should list them and badges should ribbon them and a third-rate Jungian washout can achieve international fame by refusing to honor them, now that we’ve come so much further than anyone might’ve thought possible fourteen years ago, the reason I bring it up is because when I go to take a step I wholly support everyone else in taking, to suggest or insist upon their preferred or actual pronouns—I find I can’t, and it’s for an entirely irrational reason that only applies to me, and yet, but still: I’d be telling you how to talk about me when I’m not there. —Which seems (to me! only for me!) inescapably, well. Rude. (To me! For me! You, you’re all fine! All of you! And beautiful!)

#walkingaway

“Embrace the #walkaway movement, this is a sign that the American people still believe in healthy debate.” “When actor James Woods tweeted out the hashtag ‘#walkaway’ in late June, even the alt-right missed the enormity of what lay beneath it.” “I am kicking off the #walkaway campaign by releasing my video about why I am walking away from liberalism and the Democratic party.” “The #walkaway movement that began with a popular Facebbook video featuring a gay hairdresser in New York City explaining why he was leaving the Democratic Party has quickly morphed into a major force on social media and beyond.” “Are people really leaving the Democratic Party in droves this week? If the #walkaway movement is to be believed, yes.” “Democrats aren’t converting to the right wing in droves. But #walkaway doesn’t have to be true to go viral.” “Russian bots are back: #walkaway attack on Democrats is a likely Kremlin operation.” “Democrats want you to think the “#walkaway campaign is a right-wing propaganda effort propped up by a legion of Russian bots, but don’t you believe it.”

Ha ha, remember #walkaway? No? Yeah, well, it was back in July, which is epochs ago in this superfast zipsquealed political age: painfully obvious #yourslipisshowing sockpuppets with stock photo avatars all posting Manchurian confessionals about how they didn’t leave the Democrat party, nope, the Democrats done left them. Worth a slow blink, maybe, and then you block the puppets and move on, and nothing ever really came of it, beyond the slow small grinding of the friction of dealing with bullshit that wears away at all of us more and more, but everything’s moving so fast these days. Who has time to worry about that. —Anyway, it’s long since over and done. I don’t even think it’s still making much noise over to Twitter, but I’m not gonna bother to go find out.

I walked away from Twitter 36 hours ago.

I joined pretty much ten years ago, exactly: the Kid was fixing to come into the world, and enough people we knew were already on it that it seemed like a good idea, even if it didn’t seem like a good idea. Microblogging. I mean really. We have blogs and RSS and Google Reader, who needs microblogging?

185,409 tweets later.

And I got a lot out of it: some (hopefully) lifelong friendships, some wonderful opportunities, some kind words, a lot of stupidly hilarious jokes. I had some fun with the form.

—But lately I’ve been tweeting less; I’ve even been retweeting less; mostly what I’ve been doing is reading or seeing some frictious slop of doltish hateful terrible bullshit, and blinking, or sighing, or biting my tongue, and setting about reporting and blocking accounts by the handful, the dozen, the hundreds. —Every now and then a report would come back, something had been done to this one account, or that, but never really what, or why, and anyway who has time for followup, there’s more, even more, far more.

This is not a healthy relationship. —I mean, it’s more rewarding than CandyCrush, but so’s breathing.

Content that appears to violate Twitter’s rules appears over and over again in the hundreds of hours of video available on the accounts that Jones and InfoWars maintain on Twitter and Periscope, a livestreaming video service that Twitter owns. Jones has repeatedly degraded individuals of the Muslim faith. He has attacked people on the basis of gender identity. And he has engaged in the harassment of individuals.

CNN on Wednesday morning presented Twitter with examples of such content available on both the InfoWars and Jones account. A spokesperson at the time said the company had no comment beyond a statement CEO Jack Dorsey made on Tuesday in which he said neither Jones or InfoWars had “violated our rules” and other previous statements by the company. When asked if Twitter would be reviewing the videos and content CNN had asked about, the spokesperson declined to answer. On Thursday afternoon, after another request for comment, a different Twitter spokesperson notified CNN that the company was reviewing the content.

After this story published, the tweets included in this article were removed from Twitter. A Twitter spokesperson told CNN that Twitter had not removed the content, and that the company was still reviewing it. The Twitter spokesperson said that either Jones or someone with access to his accounts had likely removed the tweets. A spokesperson for Jones and InfoWars did not immediately respond for comment.

And it’s not (just) that; it’s not (just) choosing Sean Hannity’s radio show as the venue to explain themselves; it’s not (just) verifying straight-up Nazis and Proud Boys and following “newsworthy” bullies like Mike Cernovich—it’s all of that, and the litany of responses from people I know and follow and admire, who have been suspended, forced to delete tweets, harassed off the site—transwomen for speaking out against TERFs, Black women for speaking out against racism, sex workers for speaking up for themselves—

I mean, fuck free speech. I know whose side I’d rather be on.

(Of course, the horrific irony is so many of those folks can’t walk away—their very lives and livelihoods depend on the opportunities and friendships such instant, easy connection makes possible, despite the ever-ratcheting grind. —So much for being on their side.)

(And yet: until we do it, we won’t do it.)

—So, I don’t know. Blogging. RSS. Mastodon, maybe. I’ve downloaded an archive of 185,409 snippets of text; when I can find a reputable service that can wrestle with Twitter’s API and win, I’ll delete them from the site itself. Burn it to the ground. Walk away.

Start over.

“Know this: I love you all.”

Definitions of distinction.

The novelette is, of course, but a narrower version of the novelatelle, and the novelttine is narrower yet; the novelccine is larger and thicker than the novelatelle, but more of a ribbon; the novelucce is wider than both by far. Noveletti, as a rule, are thin rectangles or squares of plot, while the noveleja is an elongated screw. The novelalde, like the novelccine, is a ribbon, but long, with ruffled edges, and the novelaldine is a novelalde cut into bits. The novelgnette, also called the noveliolini, is short and thick; the novelarelli is fluted; the novel alla chitarra is named for the strumming motion made to slice the theme. Novelozzi are similar to shoelaces; noveloline are ridged, but only on one side of the plot; novelerini are slender and photogenic. The noveloccheri is made without tropes, and so is hard to manipulate; the novelardella is thick and wide, similar to a thick novelccine. The novelagliati is irregular in shape and size, formed from the scraps left on the floor by other novel-shapes.

Light.

I wish I had a flashlight, said the nine-year-old, as we walked through what’s yet pre-dawn to the bus stop.

Well, actually, I said (and you must understand, I am speaking quite literally as a father, here: my well, actually is well earned): in this sort of light, this half light, a flashlight would do more harm than good: the light of it’s bright, sure, but only on what you shine it on. Everything else would be harder to see. But if you let your eyes get used to the darkness, you can see much more.

Okay, she said, but dubiously.

I mean, a flashlight would be good for focussing on something specific, I said. But it’d be so much harder to see everything else.

Look! she says. I can see my shoes now! —And she can, we can: green shoes, and blue, subtle shades that mingle in the dim light, but at least we can tell them from the grey concrete of the sidewalk, now.

They could be flashier, I said.

Flashier?

Yeah, I said. With reflective stripes? Or the ones that light up, when you step on them—

Oh, yeah! she said. —But those are no good, she said, for lock-down drills.

—Oh, I said.

—Later, at the bus stop, she climbed the ladder of the playground slide, and saw a flash of green with the sunrise, and called to me to come see it, and it was still there, sort of, mostly, limning the bellies of the clouds. —But then those clouds all lit up in that shade of magenta they say you can’t ever see in a rainbow, and the bus came, and she went off to school, and I headed off to work.

Altogether elsewhere, vast.

So! Um. Hey. You look good, you look good! All things considered. —Oh, you know, screaming a lot, goggling aghast, scrambling to cobble together the paychecks I need to make it from one to the next, that sort of thing. Anyway, I’ve been doing some stuff over at the city. Maybe take a look, next time you’re around?

Ten years of roses.

Pretty much what it says on the label: coming up on ten years ago, in August of 2006, I started posting City of Roses online with “Prolegomenon”; since then, I’ve written what the back of this envelope tells me is about 400,000 words. Two complete volumes, and just about half of a third; twenty-seven novelettes; one decade. —Those certainly are numbers.

One true only.

The occasion ought to be marked in some fashion? I’m thinking of a reading or two, though no concrete steps have been taken yet to set something up—I’ve been head down writing the most recent chapter, you see. But also because I’d like to have a new edition of the paperbacks ready, or at least the first volume, with a tightened cover design, a sleekened interior, with some minor edits here and there to correct a smattering of typos, remove an infelicitous “goddamn” or two, smooth out some inconsistencies of usage, as perhaps the leaping capitalizations of his Grace, His Grace, his grace. Mostly, though, I’d like for these books to have a new distributor, one more salubrious to libraries, and independent bookstores, one freed from Amazon’s narrowing straits. And I don’t yet have a release date firmly pegged for this new edition: the designing, the proofing, the paperwork, each take time, and, well, my head has been down.

—Time, but also money: to buy a block of unentailed ISBNs, to set things up with a new print-on-demand shop, to secure test prints and ship review copies—more numbers.

Some possible covers for volume four.

Thus, Patreon. —Patreon is my choice of crowd-funding sites to help support this independent publishing endeavor, as have chosen so many other writers and cartoonists and filmmakers and historians and pornographers and musicians and suchlike. Mine’s set up so that amounts can be pledged on a monthly basis, and I make sure to post something for patrons at least once a month—cover reveals, raw images of possible covers under consideration (like the above), deleted scenes and alternate takes, and of course copies of each novelette, before they’re available anywhere else. And it’s been of incalculable assistance already, whether it’s covering a last-minute webhosting bill, or domain registration, or groceries for a week when other checks are late—more, and far more important, than beer money, and I’m endlessly grateful to each and every patron who’s already pitching in.

You might note that I’m only a few dollars short of the current goal, which is intended to support precisely the sort of nuts-and-bolts redesign I’d like to accomplish for this anniversary. What I’d ask is maybe consider a moment helping me reach it, and reach past it, and while I don’t have much beyond the listed rewards to support this particular pledge-drive, anyone who signs up in July or August at a level to receive paper copies of the ’zines and books will receive all five volume three ’zines thus far. (And also stammering gratitude, abashed blushes, toe-lines dragged in dust, etc. etc. —I really need to do something about my marketing department.)

Now: back to the various grindstones I’ve set before my nose! Further bulletins as events warrant.

Vol. 3, In the Reign of Good Queen Dick, nos. 23 – 33.