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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Noirville: Tales from the Darkside

I have a short story called "Visiting Day" in this collection.

Towards the end of 2017 Fahrenheit Press launched a short story competition to showcase talented crime fiction writers from all around the world.

Our crack panel of judges whittled down the hundreds of entries we received to the 15 stories contained in this anthology. We believe these authors represent some of the most exciting crime fiction being written today.

The paperback edition will be published on March 30th 2018 and you can now pre-order your copy direct from us.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Mistakes Will Be Made

“I hate spelling errors; you mix up two letters and the whole thing is urined.” – Annonymous

My childhood dream of becoming a superhero has finally arrived. As no one could ever accused me of thinking big, the superpower I imagined for myself was to be a tolerably good speller.* I just rely on spell-check, but it still feels pretty amazing. A few of the villains I have vanquished in this story: diarrhea, rhythm, rhyme, Fahrenheit, cemetery, and maneuver. If I’m forced to write with a pen and paper you’ll probably see these words crossed out after a few failed attempts and alternate words put in their place, e.g. “diarrhea” is replaced by the far less elegant “the squirts” and so on. 

*I’m talking about English. I have a very adversarial relationship with Spanish, French, Arabic, and even Greek, but they are quite easy when it comes to spelling because of a little thing called rules.

P.S. Poop and pee both touched on in this post. If I did a fart joke I would have hit the low-brow humor trifecta. I think that I just did!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Question of the Day

It's official: I'm old and grumpy. I suppose that beating someone to death with their selfie stick was going a bit far, but they were between me and a cup of coffee that I desperately needed.

I’m no psycho-lologist, but there must be some explanation why almost all of my attempts at humor end in death or grave injury. As the great Jack Handy said, “Someone slipping on a banana peel is funny; someone choking to death on a banana peel is hilarious.”

Friday, February 16, 2018

The Streets Where We Live

My street before the facelift.

I’ve only recently begun to explore the possibilities of the fantastic bus system in Valencia. Up until now I’ve effected almost all of my transportation by bicycle, which means that I have avoided certain pedestrian unfriendly streets in the city. These mainly consist of a few major thoroughfares that have lots of high-speed car traffic (often way over the legal limit) and where there is no safe place to ride a bike. Most of these same race tracks are also horrible places to walk as the sidewalks are barely adequate for two people to pass each other without one pedestrian being forced to turn sideways.

I ventured out last weekend to take the bus that passes directly in front of my building and circles the city in a sort of inner loop—my first time ever. I was extremely familiar with much of the route of this bus line as I follow it on my bike rides where there are bike paths. After living here for so long and spending so much time exploring on my bike I feel that I know the city better than most natives. I have a few gaps in my knowledge of Valencia because, as I said, I respect my health too much to venture in the areas where bikes are obviously very unwelcome.

It turns out that I haven’t missed anything by avoiding these streets because they are tremendously ugly and soul-crushing examples of what happens when a city places the automobile before humans. Until my little bus outing, I always felt that Valencia was an extremely beautiful city. It is. I was absolutely shocked by these pockets of inhumanity. It was like I had traveled to some bleak, Stalinist dystopia in the short bus ride from my home on a bright and palm-lined street. 

Only a few years ago the street where I live was one of these soulless areas fit only for automobile traffic. I remember thinking of this street as a sort of Berlin Wall that demarcated the outer limit of my neighborhood. As a cyclist or pedestrian, the street was extremely uninviting—hostile, even—and I would turn back and return to the relative refuge of the more tranquil areas where I didn’t feel I was being preyed upon by cars and trucks. 

Like much of my neighborhood, this street got a complete make-over beginning in 2008. The six lane racetrack became four lanes with a tree row in the median strip and a bike lane on one side. Traffic was tamed to legal speeds and the street became a much more inviting place for pedestrians, to say nothing of the aesthetic improvements (compare the two photographs and you decide).

Of course, like with any issue there are two sides. There are some who fight against anything they feel infringes upon the right of cars to travel at high speeds and without any hindrance from pesky human beings who might stumble into their pat. Leading that charge is one local newspaper’s war against pedestrians and cyclists. This is the same newspaper that complained that no one used the new city center bike ring which is completely laughable to anyone who rides on this path. This fucking rag’s war has been relentless as they fight against pedestrians, cyclists, sustainability, and the environment.

Luckily for the city, the forces of good are prevailing, at least for the moment. We have a new mayor who has been a bike commuter for years and is determined to make the city more livable while at the same time more beautiful. As an American I can say to the people of Valencia that I have witnessed first-hand the results of making the automobile the center of all urban planning and I wouldn’t recommend it.
My street today.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Black Box or Black Hole?

The fine Italian film “Perfetti Sconosciuti” explores the depths of our society’s obsession with the phone. They call it “the black box” of our lives. More like the black hole of our lives, in my opinion. What I resent about the phone culture is that it is taken as a given that everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, must be genetically attached to their phone 24 hours a day. It’s like we’re all wearing the trackers they use when they put a prisoner under house arrest except we do it to ourselves, and we do it happily.

We don’t ask ourselves if we should have this little black box. The only question we have is whether to spring for an iPhone or a Smartphone. Simply not having a phone isn’t even an option. Or is it? Most people will claim that they need it for their work which is completely understandable, yet this doesn’t explain the creepy relationship so many people have with this gadget. Most people kid themselves that their phone is a tool when most of the time it serves as a toy.

Should young children’s completely creepy obsession with phones be worrisome? Is it OK to have your phone babysit a toddler? Do 12 year olds need instant, unsupervised, and constant access to the internet? What will become of a generation unable to sit for more than two minutes without checking their messages?

Is it even possible to live without a Smartphone? Are there rules for phone use in public? Is it possible as a society to take a step backwards to ask these kind of questions about the technology that rules us?Is it too late?