These Strange Worlds: Fourteen Dark Tales

Just in time for our yearly voyage into the heart of the October Country!

Available on iBooks above, or you can grab a digital copy over at Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, or B&N...

Paperback here...

Happy Autumn, everyone!


Hug 'Em Up and Build Respect

I'm no perfect parent, so I won't tell anyone else how to go about executing one of the toughest, most rewarding jobs there is in life. My folks weren't perfect either, but I have nothing but respect for how they raised my sisters and me. They were fair and clear with their boundaries. When we pushed them, we were punished. I took the strap once. Another time I got a spanking. 

These were teaching moments, and certainly not abuse.

I spanked Lyla when she was a toddler. She'd run out into the street, and I gave her three quick swats through her diaper. The message made it through, and that was the last time she's had a spanking (though Jeanne and I both use the threat of a spanking as a motivator). It's also the last time I can recall her walking into a parking lot or wandering out into the street without taking full stock of the situation.

I much prefer to discipline our daughter through expectations and respect. She respects us (and she is a very well-behaved five-year-old girl), and it's clear that she is hurt when we aren't pleased with her. We have had some good talks recently about behavior, and we're fine with taking away some of the things that she loves doing with us (trips to the beach, the movies, the park). That seems to do the trick so far. 

Cris Carter made an impassioned plea on air (ESPN) the other day. He said that parents need to understand that times have changed. There are other ways of dealing with familial discipline--ways that don't include physical or emotional scarring.

I'll leave it at that. Parenting is a journey, and context changes things. To this point, I can only say that a stern word or two followed up with a heartfelt hug has been working well for us... 


The Ducks Prepare to Win the Day!

ESPN Gameday will be in Eugene tomorrow for the day's best game. Michigan State and Oregon will mix it up tomorrow night at 6:30 eastern in a game that will go a long way toward deciding how the inaugural playoff will go in a few months.

Oregon is 10-1-1 against major, non-conference foes in the last two decades. This game is at home, in the magical confines of Autzen, where it never, ever rains. 

The Ducks have built an empire on offense. Speed and depth at every position, in addition to a superior offensive line, will help the Ducks put up points quickly. But it's the defense that has to step up in a run-stopping scheme (play cover 2 and bring a safety up, Coach Pellum) to keep this game winnable.

I hope for the same things tomorrow that I hope for in every Oregon football matchup:

  • I want to see great effort and enthusiasm. This is our season, right here...right now.
  • I want to see a good, competitive game. 
  • I want us to make it through without major injuries.
Troy Hill and Ife-Ekpre Olomu can certainly lock up the MSU wideouts. So let's focus on that line of scrimmage (looking at you, Buckner and Armstead), stay in our assignments, and bring help from the safeties. Once we get some stops (and I really don't care at all about yards; just stops and minimizing scoring), we can unleash Freeman, Tyner, Marshall, Carrington, Stanford, and the rest of the crew...

Go Ducks! Win the day!


The Leftovers Season Finale

In what has become a pretty popular cliffhanger technique in serial drama of late, The Leftovers flashed back to fill in the stories of what happened to the story's protagonists on the day of the departure. It was an instructive episode, and all the more interesting just to see the members of The Guilty Remnant in their ordinary lives.

It's a heart-breaking episode, because of its painful honesty. We see the harried mother whose wailing baby abruptly disappears, knowing full well that all she would ever want is to hear the child's cries again. We see the Garveys in all of their disfunctional splendor--each emotionally ragged and clutching at straws to find some semblance of happiness. We see Nora's final interaction with her children. She harshly criticizes her kids for spilling juice on her phone, just before the event snatches them away. A very nice touch is the close-up on the pattering drops of juice. 

It happened just that quickly.

The episode wets our appetite for season two, but it also illustrates the perfect insanity of family life. These are our warts, and we don't know how much we need them until we see (or are forced to live) and alternative that is oh-so-much worse.

Pretty good series, and just another example of how HBO is creating some of the best television available today...

You Know When It's Good

If you spend any real time at the word processor, you understand that sometimes the writing flows and you just know in your heart and in you...