Tuesday, May 31, 2011


I am Captain Oblivious. I was last night reminded of this when I dreamed a little dream.

My dream-wife, nothing at all like my life-wife other than they looked the same and shared a name, said to me, I've been seeing other people.

Other people? said Dream-Eric. You mean like, more than one?

Yes, dream-wife said.

She then began naming Asian guys, because apparently dream-wife had a thing for Phongs and Wongs, and I stopped her after the fifth Tang and pointed and said, Get out.

She left, and Dream-Eric got plowed and fast-forwarded through a few dream-days, with dream-wife texting these coded messages that had to be read in the mirror upside-down, numbers only, things like 07734 (hello) and I love you and whatnot.

I woke next to life-wife and didn't wake her because she was tired and had gotten up earlier with the baby, who for some reason had been great all day and wanted to cry last night. I blame the Tex-Mex for that dream.

I was reminded of that big red O with a yellow middle against a royal-blue back painted squarely on my chest. I am Captain Oblivious.

She could cheat and I would never know. She wouldn't, of course. I believe that in my heart, and I'm not worried about it. Like I said, blame the Tex Mex because I ain't the jealous type. We're good and it was just a dream, but it was one of those vision-vivid dreams that really shake you, if you get me.

I've been cheated twice -- that I know of -- and both times I stared shocked as if suddenly realizing that cup I'd been guzzling was full of bugs, a minor detail that in my greed I had overlooked.

I even argued with a doctor once, my freshman year in college. Let me relate this story.

I'm not sure what it is, I said. They just showed up one day.

I dropped my drawers and showed her the damage. Looked like zits all along my crotch.

Doc said, You have mollusca.

What the hell is that? I said.

It's an STD. Very common and curable. Kids sometime get them on the playground because they're so contagious.

How the hell did I get an STD? I've been with my girlfriend since high school. I'm a college freshman, she's a college junior, that's like five years, and she's the only one I've had sex with. How can I get an STD?

Doc shrugged her shoulders.

I said, I haven't had sex with anyone else. Could it have been from the showers? I live in the dorm.

No, the doc said. You get it from having sex. This was transmitted sexually.

But I haven't had sex with anyone but my girlfriend, ever. How could I get an STD?

No idea, Doc said.

Thinking back, I'm pretty sure she was trying not to laugh at that big fucking O on my chest, as Captain Oblivious beat his arms and flew off the nearest rooftop into oncoming traffic covered in flaming rags while gagging on a piece of overcooked pork chop.

I am Captain Oblivious.

Have you ever been Captain O? Have you ever suffered Tex-Mex reflux-driven hallucinations late at night so disturbing that when you got up to urinate, you were forced to sit down because your hands were shaking?

- Eric

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

When are you a writer?

The answer: Always.

You are always a writer. I alluded to this concept a couple of posts ago, where I mentioned you should be yourself always in all things you do.

I brought up fighting, but the criss-cross paths going through my mind looped in other topics, namely writing, but also things like behavior in public, in relationships, and with your family and friends.

For instance, I used to post quite a bit on dating websites, back when I was dating. I always wrote to people that I behaved BADLY on the first date. It was a habit I formed to quickly weed out women I call ~fish~. A fish, see, is one who is slinky under the water and gorgeous and beautiful and calm, but soon as you break the water to grab her, she fins the shit out of you and scoots away.

I don't like fishy women, and so I weeded them out early by being myself on the first date. I say I behave badly, but what I mean is I would do stuff like tell a dirty joke, curse, drink if I wanted, and if God or politics had the obnoxisity to poke up their ugly heads on that first date, I played Whack-A-Mole and banged the shit out of the topic until she knew all my views left-right from heaven to hell.

It worked, too. Had I done that in my early years, I would probably have weeded out my first (ex) wife. She's not a bad woman, but she's more prudish than I am.

My (second and most-excellent) wife is far less prudish. She is, in fact, very like-minded to me, and on our second date we found ourselves in Austin getting tattoos together. I can't sum it up better than that. We're both crazy impulsive complete opposites, a high school dropout (her) married to the class valedictorian (me).


Anyway, back on topic, I asked, When are you a writer?

The answer is ALWAYS!

I try to rope it in at work, especially if I get too flamboyant, but sometimes I let it get the best of me and I send out an email that has some Eric-isms in it, or some pithy and cheeky way of stating some point.

My old boss used to try to edit my emails before I sent them out. He said I was too crass. I let him edit a few, but he killed them and so I cut him out and did my thing, and eventually switched to a new boss because, as Homey the Clown would say: Homey don't play that! Whack!

Where's my loaded tube sock when I need it?

My next boss also said I was crass, but he only asked that I tone it down.

My next boss hasn't said much, and in fact I think he likes it.

The common thing that ALL of my bosses have said, and many of my co-workers, is this: Eric, you should be a writer!

On the websites where I posted: Eric (Saul), you should be a writer!

And I say always: I am.

When they aren't complaining about the crass-icity of my emails, bosses and co-workers respond with messages reading: Well-written (without the dash).

I've even had people ask if I really wrote that, or copied it from somewhere.

Last week we had a discussion about proving a null hypothesis. A customer and a business group asked me to prove we do not require a test to ensure our product is a quality product.

I responded with a Bigfoot analogy. I said, paraphrased because I can't find the email:

You're asking me to prove Bigfoot does NOT exist. The only way to do this is to head into the woods and look for footprints and show a large area of land without evidence of Bigfoot. The question is: How big of a plat do I need to cover before you believe there is no Bigfoot?

It's a good analogy, and it stuck, and now it's being latched onto and repeated because it is a memorable way of understanding the problem with proving a null hypothesis true. I can only disprove Bigfoot does not exist, by finding him, but I cannot prove he does not exist. See?

The point is, I'm a writer always in all things I do, and that includes goofy emails at work and home and crazy posts online both here and facebook.

Are you a Writer always? Or should I say Artist. Do people look at your work and say: You should be a writer/poet/songwriter/singer/painter/photographer!

If they do, maybe you should listen.

- Eric

Monday, May 23, 2011

Find your own light

You'll never see what I see. You can look and I can describe, but you'll never see what I see.

You can hear what I hear. Sound is nothing more than a pulse of air slamming into the side of your head. Hear away.

You can smell what I smell and taste what I taste. No difference in those two senses, really. You smell shit, or you taste shit, it's because little particles of shit landed on your buds and stimulated them and yep, that's shit. Smell flowers, that's pollen. Taste her perfume, that's skunk piss, and so what because her neck was salt-sweaty anyway just like the rest of her, and you'll taste saltier parts later.

And touch? What about touch? Same reaction is what we all have. Prick a finger, pull away. Finger a prick, lean toward. We aren't unique. We all share the same touch, don't we, and wasn't that a brilliant twist of words!

Those other senses are trite. It's sight that matters. Sound doesn't travel through The Great Black Nothing. You can't taste another universe, or smell the Milky Way, or hear the moon. I suppose you can feel the sun, but let me stop you right there -- you feel the sun's light.

And it's the light you see. We can see it all, and I see it my way, and you see it yours, and you aren't allowed to look through my little window. Because every time you try, I'm gonna shut my eyes and say, Find your own damned window! This one's taken.

- Eric

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Emotional Pacivism: Be yourself always in all things you do

All right, you knuckers, I'm going to wax and wane and pine philosophical for a moment. Bear with me. I haven't gotten around to posting on your blogs, either, so also, please bear with me. I'll get stop by soon and post something inappropriate that embarrasses you in front of your followers.

Anyway, on with the post.

I recently tried to be someone I am not, namely in a fight with my ex-wife. Why is this bloggerly? It's because I broke one of my own sacred laws, and that is to be an emotional pacifist.

I don't understand emotional fights. You know the ones I'm talking about, where you slug away and launch personal attacks that have nothing to do with the topic being discussed.

For instance, isn't it funny how you are suddenly a bad lover toward the end of the relationship. Or that you're somehow sexually inadequate. Or ugly. Or fat. Or stupid. Or a pussy and a bad father and terrible person all around.

I've been called everything except a good and decent man.

I'll fight physically, and in fact I've been in quite a few fights, even a knife fight once -- which isn't nearly as fun as it sounds -- and I'll debate math and data and business topics. I'm not a pacifist at all. I don't run from fights. I'm just an ~emotional~ pacifist.

I never have seen the sense in digging into someone personally when it is completely unrelated to the argument.

But I got into a tizzy with my ex-wife, and (snip because that was an inappropriate rant). We fight, and by fighting I mean she screams and I listen silently, and all I hear is blah blah blah Eric blah blah Eric blah blah blah.

That one's for you, Tracy!

I don't like to fight emotionally, but this time I dug into her, hard, hoping it might make her think twice next time, sort of the way you might bite a dog to teach it not to bite. I did it via email, and even though she's well-written and well-spoken, the written word is my turf and I made it hurt.

This was way out of my comfort zone, and it bothers me not what she said, which she said hurtful things but I'm immune to that, but what I said. That bothers me. I said things I had never said before and I've known this woman for over fifteen years.

But what can I do? I don't know how to fight those fights. How the hell do people release angst like that besides beer and a furious amount of masturbation?

Point is, be yourself. If you are an emotional pacifist, like me, let it be. Someone wants to scream at you, turn red in the face, dig at you, let it bounce and go do your thing later. So you're a pussy. Big fucking deal.

If you're on the other side, and you're an emotional vampire, suck away. My neck is yours because I'm bled dry, trust me.

My wife, my now-wife, early in our relationship, she tried some of that shit with me. I took it. She called me a pussy, which is always a strange and humorous insult coming from a woman. I put her shit in storage and kicked her out and she has fought well since (this was back in 2006 or 2007).

She brought that up to me last night, said, Remember what you did to me!

I said, Yeah. It worked, didn't it. Remember when you locked me outside in my underwear?

She said, Yeah.

Good times.

- Eric

Monday, May 16, 2011

E-Reader: A Cost of Ownership Analysis

Yet another e-book post, but in this case, I'll show some math.

I'm still debating the e-book purchase, and still unable to make it happen. See, I don't understand the math.

For example, let's say I want to read These Dark Things by Jan Merete Weiss. I picked that book only because it popped up when I looked up e-books on Amazon as a top seller.

Here's the cost:
e-book: $10.00
Amazon: $8-15, depending on which you go with. I buy a lot of used books, personally.

But now you have the added expense of the e-reader. You can spend anywhere from $120 to $300, so let's assume you get the cheapo and go with the $120.

These Dark Things ran you $120+tax+$10

Hardcover it ran you $8-15, depending on which you go with. I buy a lot of used books.

If I lose my e-reader, or get it wet at the pool, or drop it in the crapper because I am a potty-reader, read until my legs go to sleep and then stand up and recirculate and sit back down, then I lose all my books.

Any of that happens with a book, I lose only that one book, not my whole damned library and movies and music I downloaded!

I can't let my brother have my book when I'm done with it. We swap a lot.

I guess the advantage of an e-reader is it gives you access to $0.99 books, and your entire library is in your hip pocket.

Certainly, though, cost of ownership of the e-reader is far beyond what you get with a book.

If you want the actual break-even point for the number of books where you reach a break-even point, then here is the equation:

n = eR / (hb - eb)

n = number of books purchased in either venue
eR = cost of e-reader
hb = cost of hardback book (or paperback)
eb = cost of e-book

For instance, let's use the below numbers:

eR = $200 + tax = $218 (medium-quality e-book)
hb = $10 (median price for hardback or paperback)
eb = $8 (use a fudge-factor that suggests e-books are about $2 less than the same printed book, which is NOT accurate)

We get a break-even point of

n = 218 / (10-8) = 218 / 2 = 109 books

So you'll need to read over 100 books to break even with your e-reader, and that is making the BAD assumption that the same e-book costs less than the same printed book.

Plus, I am not factoring in the $0.99 books you'll buy as e-books that are not available in print.

My guess is you will never break even with an e-reader. E-readers will never be cheaper than printed books, not at today's price.

If you check Amazon, you'll see little if any separation in price for the same book, and in many cases, you can find a less-expensive hardback, gently used or from overstock.

Example from Amazon's Kindle Homepage defaults:

The Fiery Trail: $13-17 hardback, $15 Kindle
Washington, A Life: $15-23 hardback, $20 Kindle

I could go on, but I won't. Do your own research.

Furthermore, if we use MUSIC as a prior example, you'll note that music CD (printed) still costs the same as electronic music downloads. Music still runs you $0.99 to $1.50 per song.

I'm sticking with print, and downloading e-books to my PC-Kindle (free application), if I should need to read an unpublished $0.99 e-book.

Of course, I still buy CDs, and who the fuck still buys CDs.

How about you? I know many of you purchased e-readers. Do you actually see any cost-benefit, or are you happy with the convenience despite the higher cost-of-ownership?

- Eric

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

WiP me into Climax, you dirty MC!

Yeah, if you're a writer, these mean different things than if you're a non-writer.

At least as a writer I know not to climax too early! I drag it out all foreshadowy and stuff, get the whole character arc going before I ram it home.

I find pinching the inside of my thigh helps if I get too antsy.

Now I'm gonna sit in my closet, in my underpants, drinking beer as I stroke my Asus.

Wish me luck. I'm almost finished!

- Eric

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Why be insecure?

My editor/publisher pointed this out, and I wonder if I'm the only one who suffers from it.

Eric, he said, your short stories feel like they're ~going~ somewhere. But your novels fall flat. You need to bring that same voice to your longer pieces.

And so I'm trying in my latest WIP to do just that -- bring out my short-story (and bloggerly) voice.

Still, there's a roadblock there. It's an insecurity. I have moments of clarity and scenes that pop out in the right voice, but other scenes are flat and balmy and tasteless as lipstick on a cow.

I recently read Gaiman's Anansi Boys. I read that book really, really, REALLY slow, and I read every word of every chapter and the forwards and afts.

I read it all because his voice is so playful, and for years I've tried to be a "serious" writer for my novels, but unleash the beast on the shorts.

Unleash the beast on the shorts. That's sorta funny.

For instance, I wrote a short piece entitled The Devil Gave Me Autumn in my flippiest voice, and one of my readers, and I've had a few say this, mentioned this story was the most Eric of the stories she read.

That's your voice, she said.

And it's this voice, my blogger voice, my hee haw yee haw voice.

But then I read McCarthy and think, I can write like that!

And I can, in small bursts, but it's hard to maintain that droll voice throughout.

I read King and think, I can write like that!

And I can, but his overly-detailed scenes and 200kw tomes elude me.

Elude has only one L, by the way. Inside joke.

I read Gaiman and think, I can write like that!

And I can, and I can sustain it, but after a while I feel too clownish and insecure and start checking my zipper, yep, still zipped up, and do I have a booger, and gads, I think I better delete all this crap before someone reads it, eh.

I don't know. I've been writing for YEARS, and still finding my voice.

I'm wondering: Am I the only one? Do you question yourself as you write, try to still that voice that says, LET ME WRITE!

Do you say, No, no, the world's not ready for you. Hush up little voice and write like they say write.

- Eric

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Some Zombie Haikus

For the Daily SotA Zombie Haiku Contest, I present some of my entries.

What a fun contest!

Eric's Zombie Haikus


My left arm tore off
My guts fell out of their sack
Just another day


(multiple haiku poem)

My lips are yours, dear
My chest and all of my heart
But I keep the brains

My eyes are yours, dear
My lungs breathe only for you
But I keep the brains

My arms are yours, dear
You may take them when you leave
But I keep the brains

You have all of me
Least what's left after the fall
But I keep the brains


If you need a hand
I give you one willingly
I never liked it


It flies out of me
The life that once gave me breath
My eyes still seeing


I keep both my arms
Beneath my bed protecting
I cannot reach them


I ate my girlfriend
I do not mean the good way
I mean I ~ate~ her


You have to admit this is a great prompt! Come on, let's hear a Zombie Haiku! Have you submitted yet?

- Eric

Monday, May 2, 2011

Zombie Haiku Contest!

Your Daily Sign of the Apocalypse is hosting a ZOMBIE HAIKU contest!

See their entry stuff at the link above. Now this is a fun contest I can sink my teeth into, at least the brainy parts.

- Eric