Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – Where Plotting is Real

My wife and I have been watching Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, whose extraordinary season finale was in December, and I would highly recommend it if you enjoy shows such as Dr. Who, Orphan Black, Sherlock, or Mr. Robot. It stars Samuel Barnett as a self-described “holistic detective” who claims to follow the currents of the universe in order to solve mysteries, and Elijah Wood as his unwillingly deputized assistant. Together (eventually) they attempt to unravel a mysterious crime in which several men in a penthouse suite have been found torn apart and huge bite marks are left behind on the suite’s walls and ceiling. Continue reading

Why Soccer? -And How Soccer is Like Boxing- A Letter to American Sports Fans

[ This article is meant to balance my other recent soccer article: “Why Americans Don’t Embrace Soccer” ]

Soccer is called “the beautiful game” and “the simplest game” and reminds me of what boxing, my other favorite sport, has been callled: “the sweet science of bruising”. In fact, soccer and boxing have a lot in common and are both starkly different from what are often considered the major professional sports in the United States: (American) football, basketball, baseball, hockey, golf, and tennis, in that order. Boxing was for much of the 20th Century the most popular spectator sport in America. Soccer has never been, but is by far and away the most popular spectator sport in the world, and its profile in the United States is finally growing. As it should.

What soccer and boxing have in common for spectators is that they are tension sports. The other sports that are popular in America are sports Continue reading

Why Americans Don’t Embrace Soccer

[ For a more positive look at the sport of soccer, and why it is the best sport in the world, please refer to my other recent article on the subject: “Why Soccer? -And How Soccer is Like Boxing- A Letter to American Sports Fans” ]

The special Copa America Centenario tournament that was held in the United States this summer has given me a great jumping off point for an article that I have been wanting to write. Brazil were eliminated from the tournament by a single goal that one of their Peruvian opponents scored by intentionally slapping the ball into the net with his hand. In other words, the Peruvian player did not actually score a legitimate goal, instead he committed a major infraction of the rules, but the game officials awarded the goal anyway, Peru moved on to the next round, and Brazil (who would have moved on instead of Peru if not for that single goal) were eliminated from the tournament. At the highest level of soccer, whether it is with professional clubs or national teams, events like this are so common that they are barely even a scandal. Continue reading

The Trouble With Lying

Please note: I have thought long and hard before publishing this article. The old saying that you draw more flies with honey than with vinegar comes readily to mind. And also the one about how people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. But because I am in a glass house I am in a particularly apt position to observe and write on this subject. This article, if coming from a successful writer, would sound as self-serving and insincere as some of the recent e-book sensations who say that everyone else can do it too. I am not yet a successful writer; in fact I occupy the same exact position as many of the people whose enthusiasm my words pour cold water upon. So if I am harsh to the self-published writer, it is only as harsh as I am to myself. And I make no apologies.


Last night I was reading about publishing, self-publishing, and indie publishing as part of a continual effort to crack the code of how to get my books in front of more reader eyes.

Inevitably, I came across a blog written by one of the breakout e-book success heroes, talking about how easy it is to make tons of money from self-publishing, how anyone can do it, and how everyone should. Or at least that is what was implied. It’s the same story everywhere, whether the writer or commentator involved has actually been successful or not. They almost always say that they have been successful, and that you can be too. Oh yeah, they’ve made a ton of money. All of them have! They work and work, churning the foam on the ocean of foolhardery that is the self-publishing gold rush.

The ones at the very top, like the blogger I was reading, who was one of Amazon Kindle’s early independent success stories and has been highly promoted by Amazon and the traditional publishing industry ever since, are positioned to benefit from the churn. Much like a pyramid scheme, everyone else involved want to benefit in the same way but have no genuine prospect of doing so.

We live in hope? Continue reading

What I’m Doing When I Write

I recently attended the James Tiptree Jr. Symposium at the University of Oregon, which was an energetic and inspiring event. During one panel, Ursula K. Le Guin said that, “New artists often have to teach us how to read them.” My wife, Erica, immediately nudged me and said, “That’s you.”

I’ve been meaning to write about my writing for a long time. It seems like my work is unique, and often misunderstood. This is a common problem for artists whose work does not attempt to imitate other work that has previously been successful. When readers try to interpret such artists’ work through the lens of what they are already familiar with, instead of accepting it on its own terms, it is easy for them to feel that what is different is different because it is bad. Continue reading