Thursday, January 28, 2016

Debtor's Prison (a poem)

Black eyes, magic shadows
Presaging a change in
Cosmic ambivalence

The devil's due his debts
From those who despair

Red ink fills the diagrams
Of our flesh,
Tattoos of justice unknown,

Eventualities sing
The choir of loss

And we pray:

Kill me with those black,
Black eyes.

Okay, some backstory here. I wrote this quite a few years ago after an editor friend of mine complained that very few of the poems submitted to his magazine made any damned sense. So I sent him this one, which very much on purpose makes very little sense.

He was amused, but not enough to pay me to publish it.

Oh well. I actually like this poem, no matter what it does or does not mean. I'm sharing it here for the first time.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

First sketchbook of 2016

I keep a tiny little sketchbook by my desk. Every day I try to fill up a page. These aren't intended to be finished drawings, but they sure are fun, and a nice break from the type type type that normally takes place at my desk.

Anyway, I just finished the latest sketchbook. Here are some of my favorite pages.

Hopefully I'll get back to completing some fully inked drawings at some point this year!

Friday, January 1, 2016

2015: My Year in Books

Good lord, I read a lot of books in 2015.

How many? Try 123. That's the highest number that I've read in years and a full 23 books more than I read in 2014. Wow.

Of course, the majority of this year's books (once again) were graphic novels. There are a few pretty good reasons for that. First off is the incredible Portland library system: they stock so many graphic novels that I have wanted to read for a long time -- along with quite a few books that I never even knew existed. Second, I spend most of my days reading and writing articles, so turning to a visual medium is a nice change of pace for my evenings. Finally, even though I read a lot, my reading schedule is a bit unpredictable. I'd rather get in and out of a book (or comic, or article, or poem, or short story, or whatever) when I know I can finish it than start a book and not know when I'm going to be able to pick it up again.

Looking back, I'm actually a bit disappointed in this number. I wanted to read even more books this year -- especially novels -- but that wasn't in the cards. Too much work, too much stress, too many responsibilities.... but oh well, I still knocked quite a few volumes off the "to be read" pile.

Even though I didn't get to every book that I wanted to, I managed to read some amazing books this year. Here are a few of the standouts:

Best Fiction Book: North American Lake Monsters, a stunning short-story collection by Nathan Ballingrud

Best Non-Fiction Book: The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, a wonderful memoir/history book/cultural study by Jennifer 8. Lee

Best Graphic Novel: The Sculptor, Scott McCloud's amazing opus is a work of rare genius (runner-up: March: Book Two, an important piece of first-person history by John Lewis and his artistic collaborators)

Best Art Book: Nextinction by Ralph Steadman and Ceri Levy, a true feast for the eyes and a blow to the soul

Well, that's that. On to 2016. I have a few days off from work (a rarity, let me tell you), so maybe I'll get a head-start on this year's list. I have a few shelves of unread books staring at me from the bookshelf next to my computer, so I have plenty of options to choose from.

As for you, here's to a year of great books, no matter how many you read!

2015 in Articles

Ah, New Year's Day. As always, I like to take a little bit of time on January 1st to look back at the year that was.

Now, there's a lot of stuff going on in my life that I could talk about but I don't want to keep you here until next January 1, so I'll keep this focus on the professional side of things.

It was a hell of a year. I wrote my little fingers to the bone while working for a long list of publications and covering a broad range of topics. As you might expect, the majority of the articles I wrote this past year were about endangered species and other wildlife, but I also covered climate change, technology careers, personality traits, new consumer devices and a whole lot more.

All told I published 248 articles in 2015. That's actually the smallest number that I have published in years -- heck, maybe ever -- although in the process I had my best freelance year ever, financially. Hey, I'll take it.

Some of my fellow journalists are pretty amazed that I can accomplish what I do. I chalk it up to a few major factors: I love what I do (which gets me out of bed in the morning), I'm well practiced at things (so I can work quickly), and I make my editors' jobs easy (so they keep coming back for more).

At this point I usually try to narrow things down to my favorite two or three articles for the year, but I don't think I can do that this time around. Here are links to quite a few of my favorites:

Poachers in Africa Have a New Enemy: Math

Damselfly in Distress: Water Shortages and Cannabis Threaten African Insect

Prehistoric `Lizard of Great Sleepiness' Nearly Extinct in Vietnam and China

Local Craigslist Ads Are Fueling the Slaughter of Elephants Worldwide

The Big Reason the Deepwater Horizon Disaster Is Not Over

Climate change will scramble polar bears' diets – and eggs aren’t the solution

China’s Wealthy Are Banking on Extinction

Even the Unicorns of the Sea Can’t Escape Climate Change

If Apes Go Extinct, So Could Entire Forests

Is That Wildlife Documentary Lying to You?

You Could Learn a Thing or Two About Living a Long Life From the World’s Oldest Orangutan 

The Newest Comic Book Superheroes: The World’s Endangered Tigers

Orangutan orphan named 'Lisa' in tribute to terminally ill veterinarian

Stowaway Snail Helps Save Species from Extinction

Orangutans Are Dying as Indonesia Burns

Nextinction: Ralph Steadman Goes Gonzo for Endangered Birds

An Introvert's Guide to Leadership

Killer Starfish Threaten Fish That Walks on Handlike Fins

Career Focus: The Three *New* Laws of Roboticists

The Sneeze That Could Wipe Out Hawaii’s Seals

High School Student Designs a ‘Wheelchair’ That Lets Users Stand Up

Wolves and Monkeys: Unusual Hunting Buddies

Wolf-Safe Beef: An Idea Whose Time Has (Almost) Come

You can find links to all of the rest of my articles from 2015 here, along with links to my three radio appearances, a couple of interviews with me, my Bicentennial comics blog, my webcomic (still sadly stagnant) and a whole lot more.

Well, that's it for 2015. Onward and upward for 2016. Thank you, as always, for reading. I couldn't do this without you.