back from vegas

I’m back. I spent all day yesterday flying, but it wasn’t too terrible. In Vegas, I bought this giant Tom Clancy nonfiction book on the story of the general in charge of the Air Force during Desert Storm. It was a HUGE book, like 500-600 pages but the physical size of a college textbook, and that kept me busy for most of the day. My lunch was at about 10:00 at Denny’s before I left; my supper was at about 10:00 at night in the Cincinnati airport’s piece of shit Pizza Hut. I make it back to LaGuardia at about 12:30, and got a quick cab back to my place.

I now have hot water and heat. Too much heat, actually – the place was like a kiln when I came in last night. I think I need to buy a dehumidifier of some sort. I’m afraid the books will get damaged, but if it is 0% humidity and I jack it up to 30%, I don’t think any harm will be done. The place is a disaster right now: the kitchen is still set up as my imprompu bath room; the living room is filled with books I shuffled from the bedroom floor; two weeks of clean laundry are in a giant pile in the bedroom; and most of my stuff is unpacked (I didn’t bring a lot with me) but I have to get stuff off of the laptop and get the pictures online. So I already have a busy weekend ahead of me. And I am still trying to figure out if I will actually do the NaNoWriMo thing or not. I thought of a good plot yesterday, so maybe I will. But I have so much other shit going on, so I’m not sure if this will be a good time investment.

Okay, gotta eat lunch now…



Hello from Las Vegas

Hello from Las Vegas. I’m typing from the Internet cafe where I usually log in, at this sort of Korean-oriented strip mall. My laptop has taken a dive, or at least the battery power has, and I cannot get a dial-up connection. But it’s good to be ssh’ed to the computer sitting in my living room in Queens; at least I know it is not without power or under three feet of water.

And no, I did not have heat when I left on Friday, but there was a repair truck outside, and I’m hoping that means it will be fixed by the time I am back tomorrow night.

Many good things sofar. I met Penn and Teller after their show; I saw a Jackson Pollock painting at the Guggenheim (and a bunch of Picasso, Monet, Reubens, and other crap, but the Pollock was the best.); I saw the 250+ car collection at the Imperial Palace, including a TON of cool and famous cars; I hit four aces on a video poker machine on like my third deal, which cashed 60-1 (I quit gambling after that, doesn’t get better than that.); I walked nine miles on Saturday; I saw an IMAX 3-D movie; I saw the movie Jackass twice. (It is the funniest thing I have ever seen.); I ate at In-n-Out and Dennys; I did about 200 other things I can’t think of. I’ll write a story over the weekend.

Bad things: I am sick, although it is almost gone. I am cutting it close on money. Laptop is dead. My feet are pretty torqued out. It is extremely depressing here when you are not busy with something. I wish I could write more about that, but my head would explode. Also, I am getting charged to use this piece of shit, and it’s a BEAUTIFUL day out. So I better split. I’ll be back late tomorrow…


still sick

I’m still sick. It’s progressing, and it’s just a cold, but colds tend to completely level me out. And since I have about no immune system, stress makes them worse. Unfortunately, a million and one things all tend to go wrong when I have a cold, which is what I’m currently experiencing.

First, I have no heat and no hot water. I haven’t for three days. Calling the landlord does no good, because he’s – I don’t know where the fuck he is. Italy, I think. Or dead. I’m not sure. He has a son in New Jersey that still cashes the checks and comes over every few weeks, but that’s it. And there’s no super. Which is illegal. So is not having hot water any time of the year, or not having heat during heat season (starts this weekend) or when the temperature is below 50 or something (it was 36 this morning). I called the city today and started the long and drawn out process to get the landlord in trouble. This morning there was a sign on the front door that said “we are repairing the boiler, thank you for your patience.” I don’t know if that means it will be fixed today or it will be fixed in ten years. The other major sticking point is that I don’t have a new lease, and my current lease ends in December. Legally, anyone in a rent-controlled apartment automatically gets their lease renewed unless Bad Things happen, like you run a drug lab or something. But as this motherfucker has no concept of the law, I have extreme fear that I will be looking for a new apartment in December with no money for deposits (i.e. sleeping in a cardboard box.) So that kind of shit certainly adds to your stress level and lowers your ability to fight a cold.

So the last two days my mornings have consisted of putting every pot and pan on the stove, filling them with water, turning on the oven for some heat, and washing in the kitchen sink. The one thing that would really, really help my motherfucking cold would be a half-hour in a hot shower. But no.

Also, I have to fly tomorrow. It’s a little-known fact that taking someone up in a plane with a head cold was ruled a form of inhumane torture by the Geneva Convention in 1947. I did this once before, from Boston to Seattle, and if the doors on a 757 actually opened during flight, I probably would have jumped out DB Cooper-style without a parachute and plummeted to my death instead of facing that horror. As the plane pressurizes or depressurizes or whatever, every individual sinus explodes outward with an incredible force, like someone is driving white-hot steel stakes into your face. And that’s before all of the shit you go through with the ears. One of my ears didn’t actually uncompress until three days later at a doctor’s office, when he shoved some kind of evil death rod into the depths of my ear. It’s not pleasant. I’ll be there tomorrow for a 1PM flight. I plan to drink an entire bottle of nyquil before the flight, and then put in those earplanes ear plugs. Those actually help a lot, they balance the pressure between the inner ear and the cabin. Just don’t buy them at the airport, because they cost twice as much.

I also have tickets to go to this Rush concert tonight ($100) and I really don’t feel like going. But, I know if I don’t go, I will forever regret it. So I will load up on the DayQuil in a few hours and go to MSG and check that out.

I haven’t started packing at all for this trip. I did all of my laundry last night, which was a major bitch, but at least it’s done. I will be very happy in about 30 hours when I am sitting in a nice hotel room with working heat and a working shower and cable TV and nothing else. The main goal right now is to reduce the number of variables from here to there. I’ll feel much better when I’m sitting at the airport gate with my bottle of nyquil in hand, ready for the plane to board…

Ok, I may or may not update after this. If not, be back in a week.


heat and taxes

The landlord finally turned on the heat, so I woke up this morning with a cold. The dry heat dried up my nose and throat, and now I’m in the beginning stages of a bug. I fly on Friday, so this sucks. I’m going into full cold prevention mode – tons of vitamins, tons of juice, soup, zinc nasal spray every two hours, the whole deal. I also need to sleep as much as possible, but I’ve got a lot of crap to get done before I leave.

The IRS finally sent me a check for my 2000 taxes. I refiled these recently, and after a lot of runaround, I shook about $300 dollars out of them. This is great, especially right before a trip, but considering they got me for about $1400 earlier, I won’t be singing the praises of the treasury department any time soon.

I spent most of the weekend picking at this book of short stories, which really needs a name. It’s at about 40,000 words, so I’m slowly making progress. It’s strange to be writing about 1994 like it was ancient history, but it’s nice because I kept a journal then and I can check a few of my facts. Unfortunately, I’m finding that my old journals are not that well-written. Instead of spending time writing about what was happening in the present, I went on a lot about how I wanted to get the hell out of Bloomington.

I think I’m too out of it to write. I just looked at a packet of crackers and could have sworn they said “online crackers”, when they actually said “saltine crackers”.



Finally! I am done with the commenting code on The NecroKonicon. That was a bitch – I had to hand-wire all of them. I also changed the way images are displayed so they flow correctly, and I wrote a what/why/how page that’s on the main index. So if you haven’t looked at that thing recently, give it a spin.

My eyes hurt now. And it’s cold as hell in here, not very conducive to writing, but I do have a little heater sitting by my feet, so it isn’t horrible. Actually, the cool weather has been a neat change. Whenever it is fall, I get an urge to listen to Metallica – Master of Puppets. To me, that’s the theme to the first fall I had a driver’s license, to a time when I was messing around with my Camaro’s engine and working at Monkey Ward’s. I seem to have told this story a thousand times, but I still love to think about that time, that era whenever it gets cold enough to need a jacket. Combine that with the smell of a V8 that’s running too rich and burning a little oil, and it’s as close to time travel as you can get without Dr. Emmett Brown and his magic DeLorean.

I’m still entertaining the thought of a bunch of short stories about Bloomington, but I haven’t made much progress this week. I do have about 35,000 words of text, and if every story I started was complete, it would be closer to 50,000. But too much other shit is going on. I want to get the glossary into a book. Actually, I just like doing small, piecemeal work on it, because it takes no concentration. I’ve been adding a word or two here or there; it’s easy to do, and I don’t have to invest much time. But I will get to those short stories. Maybe when I go on vacation next week.

Yes, NEXT WEEK! I will see Rush at MSG on Thursday, and then on Friday, I get on a Delta plane at LGA and head off to the Silver State. There’s absolutely no plan; I just know I have a room at the Stardust, and I need to stop spending money so I can blow it all when I get there. Nobody is going with me – I think I invited three or four people, and would have even partially bankrolled one or two of them, but that’s the story of my life. I’ll have fun. And if I don’t, I’ll destroy the fucking hotel room.

Can someone good at math and on top of the TV industry please confirm that more than 80% of all TV shows on right now are police shows? Between the 19 Law and Order shows, all of the CSI shows, JAG, NYPD Blue, Fastlane, Boomtown, First Watch, and the actual show Cops, I wonder if people in Russia or whatever think that US TV is nothing but an ad for the police. Is it just me, or what?

I wish my landlord would turn on the fucking heat. That is all.


Summer Rain useless trivia

I’ve been busy working on something. Check this out, here are some facts and other worthless trivia about my first book, Summer Rain:

  • The book was started on April 1, 1995
  • The final draft was sent to the publisher on July 3, 2000
  • The last third of the book was completely rewritten in the second-to-last draft.
  • About 20,000 words were cut from the book’s length during the final draft.
  • Final wordcount: 220,866
  • First draft wordcount: 82,142
  • Original target wordcount: 40,000
  • A first draft was completed on 9/15/95, but contained just a fraction of the final product.
  • Based on a short story by the same name written in late 1994 for a writing class. Part of the story is in chapter 38. A slightly cleaned-up version of the standalone story is here
  • The interview with Type O Negative contained in Chapter 35 really did happen when Jon Konrath was a DJ at WQAX in 1992. Later, when their landmark album Bloody Kisses was released, they thanked John Conner from WQAX. This is where the name for the main character came from.
  • Early drafts contained lyrics from many Death Metal bands, but they were removed in the final draft to avoid permissions problems.
  • The band Nuclear Winter was a basement/joke band containing Jon Konrath, Larry Falli, Ray Miller, Derik Rinehart, and others. The song lyrics quoted are real.
  • The story’s timeline is carefully scripted to match Indiana University’s actual 1992 academic calendar.
  • Jon Konrath went back to the IU Bursar’s office and purchased a complete recapitulation of his Bursar’s account to reverse-engineer some of the dates and dollar amounts in the book.
  • The report cards and letters from the college with regard to grades were real.
  • In chapter 32, a letter from the Dean of Students is signed by Juan Schwartz. This is the pseudonym Trey Parker used in his film Cannibal: The Musical
  • In chapter 21, John falsely predicts that the World Wide Web will never catch on.
  • Almost all of the mails sent from John Conner were actual emails sent by Jon Konrath in 1992.
  • Several scenes and characters were cut completely from the book:
    • A job interview for a computer support position at Bryan Hall.
    • Going on a horrible blind double date to see Cool World with a female friend and her best friend.
    • An interview with Death Metal band Unleashed
    • Several sequences involving me tutoring a friend in computer science
    • Another female interest late in the book that acted as a foil against Amy.
  • The original draft had an ending that took place years after the original summer. It told what happened to John Conner, and some of the other characters in the book. It ended with a paragraph that’s partially stolen from Charles Bukowski’s Post Office:
             Then I started reading, reading guys like Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac and Charles Bukowski.  I saw their lives through their prose, and it started me scribbling in spiral notebooks, hoping to free myself by journaling.  The scribbling helped mold me, and as I felt better about my own little world, the pile of filled spiral notebooks began to grow.  Then, I decided I should just write a novel about all of it.  And I did.
  • In early drafts, Amy leaves John for another man at the end of the book.
  • In real life, WQAX closed its doors forever at the end of 1992.
  • Nick’s original name was Marco.
  • The first trip to Elkhart was much longer. It was cut in half during edits. One scene removed contained John’s father.
  • The entire book was written using emacs. It was stored in text files, a file per chapter.
  • A printout of a draft from 6/18/99 is in the Library of Congress. This was the second-to-last draft.
  • Amy’s apartment in chapter 37 (Colonial Crest, #144) was Jon Konrath’s actual apartment in the 1993-1994 school year.
  • The cover photo is Showalter Fountain. The photo was taken by Dave Gulbransen, but the publisher messed it up during design, so it looks horrible.
  • Amy’s personal name in her email says “The more things change, the more they stay the same” in French.

Jury Duty escape

I got out of jury duty, at least for now. I actually woke up about two hours early, took a long walk and then two trains out to Kew Gardens, and then sat around for about an hour until they said that if you were traveling in the next two weeks, you could send in your itinerary and get a postponement. So then I spent another hour on the train, and I didn’t have a walkman or a palm pilot because the summons said NO ELECTRONIC DEVICES all over it, and I knew I’d have to go through ten metal detectors. I’m happy to get out of it for now, but I wish it would be over, and I also have the hassle of finding an itin and photocopying it and writing a damn letter and hunting down an envelope and some stamps. I wish I could just email someone a URL or something.

My big bit of work at the real job is over, and I got home by about 7:30 with no problem. Of course, my home is now freezing cold, but maybe I should have closed the damn windows. I sat down and managed to write about a thousand words of dialogue, nothing substantial. I can’t believe how out of shape I am, writing-wise. I couldn’t even imagine writing like I did in Summer Rain. I know I need to keep into it, but it’s going to take some work. Luckily, I don’t have any early mornings to throw me off, so if I can manage to turn off the TV for a bit, I’ll try to get some of these Bloomington stories started.

Other than the obvious, life has been a blur here. I’m ready for a weekend when I can sit around, but I just finished one and it was pretty unremarkable. I’m hoping that the writing will pick up and distract me as the weather gets cold. It’s a nice novelty to have weather like this, but it will get old in a few days.

Okay, gotta finish my Quarter Pounder and then look at a few stories for a minute.


Leather Jacket exchange

It’s been raining, POURING, for two days straight. I spent all day and all night at work on Friday; came in just after nine AM and left just after midnight. I’ve got an early morning and a lot of work tomorrow, and then I’ve got jury duty on Tuesday, which also requires an actual 9:00 start, so that shit’s bugging me. But the two things that have permeated my dreams are heavy duty cut-and-paste on a 200-page sales document, and the next book, whatever that might be.

So it’s been raining, and I spent all day yesterday inside, doing nothing. I finally left the house a bit ago to go for a walk and a sandwich, and I came back with a new leather jacket. This is the third in line, of a now-old tradition. I like to wear those generic leather biker jackets that the Ramones and everyone else has that you can get at Wilson’s in the mall for a hundred bucks. I got my first one in 93, and an identical replacement in 97. Now, it’s time for another changing of the guard. These jackets are as tough as hell, and the shell could take anything shy of a nuclear blast with no problem. The real issue is the inside liner, which gets all ripped apart and starts to smell like ass after you walk home in too many rainstorms and sweat it out on the subway every day. These jackets are fairly disposable as far as the lining is concerned, and it would cost more to get a new one sewn in than to get a new jacket. On the way to Subway, I saw a leather shop that was closing down and having an “everything must go” sale, which pretty much every shitty store in New York is always doing. But I went in, found the jacket, and got out for only $99. It looks a bit cheaper than the last one, but I think the leather sort of firms up after you wear it a while. I did a side-by-side of the old and new to see if there were any other differences, but not much. The left inside pocket on the new one has a zipper, which the old one didn’t. And the new one is a bit bigger, but then so am I.

BTW the last time I did this exchange was on 4/23/97. It’s weird that I have a journal entry from then. I wonder if I will have one in five years when I need to buy another damn coat.

I watched a shitload of a lot of TV yesterday. I was so bored, I watched about half of the movie Over the Top. This movie was a total disaster, which makes it an excellent bit of comedy in my eyes. It has every bad 80s cliche you could possibly imagine, from the costumes to the acting to the Rocky-like plot curve. This movie really tries to cash it in like Rocky, the underdog-comes-back-and-kicks-ass angle. The problem? It’s about ARM WRESTLING. Rocky has all of this preparation for a serious fight, the drinking of eggs and running up the steps and punching the pieces of meat. And when he gets pushed back in the plot, he gets his ass kicked, and he’s all bloody and beaten. So they try to legitimize this sport where you essentially move your arm one way or the other, and in the final match, there is the infamous Stallone “preparing for battle” montage, but it’s just a bunch of fucking meatheads putting powder on their hand or strapping up their arm or yelling and posturing. It’s stupid, but I love it.

Pro Wrestler Terry Funk, the “living legend”, has a small role in the film as the bad guy’s bodyguard. I totally forgot about this, and when I saw him, I jumped off the couch and started yelling “Funk! Funk! Funk!” Unfortunately, it is a very small part, but it is funny to see him with his 80s hair. Also, the music in this was that really bad power-ballad inspirational rock shit you saw a lot of in this era. Frank Stallone gets a cut in there, along with Asia, Kenny Loggins, and Eddie Money. Sammy Hagar (pre-Van Hagar) has one of the main cuts, “Winner Takes it All”. The funniest part was when I saw the end, where they drive off into the sunset and the credits roll over this Larry Greene song “Take it Higher”. Before I knew the title and before the singing started, I thought “I bet they rhyme fire, desire, and higher. The actual lyrics: “something something desire, fight the fire, take it higher, over the top.” I about had a seizure when I heard that.

So last night I started reading Summer Rain again. I skipped around a bit and read about the last 20%. I always put down this book, especially compared with Rumored, but I really liked reading it, and I’m very happy with the prose in there. It’s been about two years since I’ve read any of it, and that’s enough distance for me to really look at it and enjoy it. I know it has some problems, mostly with small stuff though. If I had to do it all over, I would keep it the same size, the same pace and everything. It could have used another month of copyediting, but I really like the size and level of depth of the book. I can still get lost in it, read for an hour and forget I’m in New York and really enjoy the story. What was the true test for me was reading the final third of the book, the love story between John and Amy. The funny thing is, that is entirely fictitious. I made up the character of Amy because the previous Amy, based on a real person, wasn’t really working out. And now, I read the conversations and exchanges of emails, and I wonder where I got all of this shit, because it’s all fabricated, but it all looks real.

On that note… I woke up this morning from a nightmare, about not being able to write the third book (I shit you not.) And I thought about Summer Rain, and I thought about how I always say in interviews it was such a mistake to write a first-person book based on my life. And then I thought about how much I thoroughly enjoyed reading 200 pages of it last night as the rain fell on the sidewalk outside my window last night, and it really made me wish I could do it all over again, write Summer Rain from scratch to 660 pages available on Amazon. It was a lot of fun to write, it is a lot of fun to read, and it didn’t sell shit. But what’s really important?

So I’m back to this: I have five really good stories about Bloomington. Maybe I should write fifteen more, and have an arc of stories about Bloomington. I don’t know how it would work, but in the shower thismorning, I thought of at least four or five stories that would easily play through for 5,000 words. It wouldn’t be an entire novel like Summer Rain, but it would let me write some detailed stuff, some straightforward fiction, and it would let me get some stuff out of my system.

So that’s the plan, for now. And it isn’t raining, so my plan is also to go to the bookstore, and try out my new jacket.


random stuff

A bunch of random stuff:

  • Wendy’s just shorted me a spicy chicken sandwich, and gave me a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger instead. I hope you rot in hell, Dave Thomas!
  • I put on ad on to see if the $10 would make a difference or not toward book traffic. There’s more traffic, but no email or anything else. It’s going to run for 7 days, so we’ll see. If not, it’s only ten bucks.
  • I bought a Nokia phone on with the hopes of putting the SIM card from my VisorPhone in it, but the damn thing is locked. I might be able to get T-Mobile to unlock it, if I can endure their customer support.
  • I am reading Small Town Punk from John Sheppard. It’s a great book and you should go buy a copy. And if you give me any of that “I’m too poor” shit, you can download a PDF of the whole thing online.
  • I renewed until 2005. That number looks really weird to me for some reason.
  • I upgraded to the next level of service from my provider ( I now have twice as much disk space and bandwidth. More importantly, I have the ability to do CGI scripts and PHP code. So when I get a spare ten seconds to think about this, I will start redesigning Rumored to have more interactive stuff on it.

Okay, now I need to go dig for some fucked-up CGI scripts to put on this site.


trying to write

It’s been so damn hard to write; I don’t think I’ve ever had writer’s block this bad. I think during Rumored it was almost this bad, to the point where I got anxiety attacks just by sitting down at the computer and trying to start a writing session. It’s worse than that now; I get migranes before I even start typing. And I don’t have a half-written book in front of me that requires attention. Now, I just have the blank page, and any half-baked idea or outline I have for book three usually gets destroyed within moments. I’m not really sure how I will get through this, mostly because I’m not sure what kind of writer I am, and what kind of book is the next target. I know that sounds stupid, but it’s true.

I do have some almost-done projects that will keep me moving for a bit. I am starting to pay more attention to the glossary and I think I will eventually make a printed book out of it. Right now, I’ve just been doing dumb stuff to the layout, but I’m on the verge of editing stuff, and taking care of the pain in the ass stuff to get it published. I don’t think a god damned person will buy a copy of this, so I’m essentially paying a few hundred dollars to have my own printed and bound copy, and to give away a few copies to other people. I also have a book of journal entries from 1997 that I’ve been editing, and I think that will eventually make a good book.

Nothing else is going on. I’m nursing a cold, so I feel horrible. I should get back to dicking around with the glossary.