People Watching in Starbucks

Due to the complexities of renewing the passport of my spawn in advance of the Christmas trip back to Canada this year, I’m working from a Starbucks this morning. The people who walk in and out are not particularly remarkable; the people who stay are.

Semi-retired looking white couple:

He is wearing two shades of beige and some comfortable (but aggressively dorky) dad loafers. She, like any self-respecting white lady of means, is dressed for the gym. They’re probably on some sort of daytime date.

Professional-ish men in their 30s:

I fall into this category. We sit hunched over our laptops with our brows furrowed in Neanderthalic concentration. There’s a middle-aged black lady doing the same. I guess we’re not so different after all.

Older white men wheeling and/or dealing:

One is selling the other something. Unclear which is which. I suspect the potential buyer is the one with the expensive shoes.

Middle-aged activist looking looking white lady.

Hair tucked up in a fleece kerchief, her nose is pierced. She’s old enough to know better. Dressed for Portland in southern Ohio.

Who’s in your vicinity?



I’m Back, Baby.

Legions of Fans, as you could no doubt tell from the black pennant hanging from the imperial palace, your humble diarist spent the past week or so in the phlegmmy grips of the dreaded man-flu.


courtesy of

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You Know How I Get

I knew a fellow in college who was a nasty drunk. Let’s call him Jerry. Jerry wasn’t nasty in a violent way, but he could be very verbally unpleasant after a few. One day, he was being particularly odious, and his friend asked him cut it out (as the kids say).

“Come on man, you know how I get!” Jerry replied.

This story stuck with me over the years.

Seeing one’s behavior this way requires a mind-bending level of narcissism. Now, granted, he was under the influence. But like many people, the fruit of the vine was revealing part of his character. Did I mention Jerry wasn’t exactly a joy to hang with sober?

The point is, Jerry was able to see his character flaw (at least peripherally), but did not see fit to be apologetic, penitent, or ashamed of it (that’s three things, people). Instead, Jerry decided to “own it.” Jerry was a pioneer.

I see a lot of people proudly flaunting character failings and mental illness as immutable elements of their identities. That’s a bad thing. It might feel empowering to “own” whatever is wrong with you (everybody has something), but a lot of the time it’s really you making an excuse for giving up on yourself.

If you are anorexic, you have a moral obligation to yourself and your loved ones to get into treatment. If your anxiety issues are debilitating, you have a moral obligation to find the mix of medication and/or therapy to manage it.If you have cancer, you have a moral obligation to try and beat it.

If you’re an a-hole, you have a moral obligation to work on that, too.

Tolkien and Lewis: Pantser Vs. Plotter

Tolkien wrote, “I could write unlimited ‘first chapters.’ I have indeed written many.”Diana Pavlac Glyer adds, “Lewis’s writing process was quite different from Tolkien’s. While Tolkien wrote things out in order to discover what he wanted to say, Lewis tended to mull things over before committing anything to paper. While Tolkien produced draft after draft, Lewis completed his work rapidly once he had settled on a clear idea and the right form to express it. And while Tolkien reconsidered every word on every page, when Lewis finished a story, he was restless to move on.”

Source: Tolkien and Lewis: Pantser Vs. Plotter

Read My Shoddy Work: ‘Is it not Midnight?’ (Part 10)

Hey there all you dudes and dudettes, I’m trying real, real hard to be the shepherd over here. Which means it’s time for another dose of my current work in progress: Is it Not Midnight?

If you haven’t been reading along so far. You can catch up here:

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3,  Part 4,  Part 5,  Part 6,  Part 7,  Part 8, and Part 9

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You Dropped a Bomb on Me: Jerry Ahern’s ‘The Survivalist’ — We Are the Mutants

By Richard McKenna In the early 1980s, the spectrum of opinions regarding life after a nuclear exchange ranged from that held by the scientific establishment—at best a severely compromised environment, and at worst the extinction of the human race—to another, less pessimistic view that sensed an opportunity for a mankind neutered by the shackles of modern society to return to the more unambiguous, manly, uncompromised moral certainties of a simpler age…

via You Dropped a Bomb on Me: Jerry Ahern’s ‘The Survivalist’ — We Are the Mutants

Read My Shoddy Work: ‘Is it not Midnight?’ (part 9)

Time for a bit of the old weekly segment on m’current work in progress, “Is It not Midnight?” It’s your standard Hungarian demon hunter short story.

If you haven’t been reading along so far. You can catch up here:

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3,  Part 4,  Part 5,  Part 6,  Part 7, and Part 8

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