Fun Updates And Tidbits Amid The Continuing Collapse Of Democracy, I’m Sure It’s Fine


HELLO. It’s been a little while, in part because I was caught at the nexus of several sharp-bladed deadlines, all sliding across my neck like swords. I was trapped! By their sharpness and their urgency! In the best way possible, because deadlines are good (er, mostly, except for when they all seem to converge upon me at once), because deadlines mean that I have stuff to do. But it was a lot. A lot a lot. It was a comic book outline, page proofs for Wayward, second draft for my new writing book, first draft for my Evil Apples book. I cleared my plate of most of those, but the latter is ongoing —

I crested 100,000 words in Evil Apples the other day, annnnnd there’s not a lot of sign of stopping? So I’m thinking this will be another huge skull-crusher of a book. Maybe not a proper bison bludgeoner like Wanderers and Wayward, both of which top out at around 280,000 words, but maybe closer to The Book of Accidents, which hit I think 180,000? Whatever. Hope you like it. It contains evil apples. I’ll talk a little more about it when I finish this draft and have some sense of what I even wrote? Because right now I’m just going with it.

So! Things have happened! I can talk about some of them. Let’s do that.

Wayward ARCs

Holy crap, Wayward ARCs (advanced reader copies) are out in the world. They are big. They could be used as boat anchors, or weapons. I’ve seen copies land in the hands of some writers, some bookstores, some libraries. I do not know the scope of this release — I did get a trio of copies myself, though they are now spoken for. I will note for those who get an early copy, it is an early copy, meaning, it’s before my page proof edits were applied — those edits were substantial in number, though I don’t believe in content.

(As some people seem to not realize, this is a sequel to Wanderers. It continues the story of those characters in that world, so reading the first book is, in fact, optimal, though I guess not entirely necessary.)

I hope people like it. It’s a weird book. I barely remember writing it. The area-of-effect miasma of proxy pandemic trauma made it a surreal experience, so when I went back to re-read it during edits I forgot a considerable portion of the book. I think maybe it’s good, though? I think it’s a worthy sequel, which was always my goal–to write something that felt worthy and ultimately essential. I dunno. We’ll see. I apologize if it’s just 800 pages of rude emoji and poopy handprints. It’s possible. The times are strange and I promise nothing.

Hideo Kojima Called Wanderers A Masterpiece

He read the book and said that.

I don’t think there’s anything more for me to say here except, uhh, holy shit.

Oh! I suppose it is worth showing the Japanese edition, though. Not sure if I posted here or not? So, I’ll just show you his photos, because they’re great.

Trippy as hell. It’s one book in two volumes and you have to mash them together to make them kiss. Or at least that’s what I assume the point is.

Do People Eat Barley Anymore? Barely.

I made a recipe the other day with, yes, barley, and I bought it because my mother used to cook with it (her barley soup was pretty legendary), and I don’t see… anyone cooking with it anymore? Though I’m sure I’m just looking in the wrong places. Either way, this is what I did with it, and I think you should do it too, because you are a person who likes to eat yummy things.

Cook pearled barley according to the package, which I think is like, three cups of liquid per cup of barley for 30 mins? Till it’s al dente, which is Italian for, “all fucked up with dents,” maybe, probably. I dunno. I used chicken broth instead of water because, I dunno, who doesn’t like salty chicken water?

Take Brussels sprouts. Do not recoil. If you are not yet on the train to Brussels Sprouts Town, please read my demon cabbages recipe immediately and rectify your business please and thank you. I cut off the stubby stem base, I get off any of the funkier leaves, then I slice it thin. Roast the fuck out of it. I did 375 in a convection oven for 15 minutes, but your oven might want 400 for 20 mins. You want them browned, not burned, and crispy. Oh, before they go into the HELL CHAMBER, you wanna, y’know, oil ’em up and give ’em some S&P.

Now, cook mushrooms. One pound of them at least. I did cremini and chestnut mushrooms, but your mushroom preference here will be great whatever it is, as long as it’s not Poisonous Yard Mushrooms. Slice ’em, get ’em in a hot pan, and you can torment the hell out of mushrooms pretty easily without much worry. Salt and thyme and pepper are all you really need, I think. Once they were cooked down a bit I also sliced some garlic in there (I’d tell you an amount but what’s the point, use as much as you like) and also a sliced shallot. (Though, I also think this would be good if you shallow-fried the shallots first and got them crispy, then used the shallot oil in this application. YMMV.) You can really cook the mushrooms till they’re essentially caramelized–and once that’s happening, once it’s leaving that fond (is it fond if it’s not meat?) on the metal, you can deglaze with a splash of white wine vinegar. Which is great because then the mushrooms soak up that flavor, too. Kill the heat.

Chop up some parsley.

Slice some little tiny tomatoes.

Toast some manner of nuts that you enjoy. I actually had cashews on hand so I roasted those real quick, but walnuts or pecans would be nice here, too.

Maybe have a handful of dried cranberries or cherries ready to go, too.

Let all this stuff cool down. In the meantime, make a dressing of:

One lemon, squozen. Quarter-to-half-cup of olive oil. Some grated garlic clove. Tiny hit of maple syrup or honey. A scant tidbit of dijon mustard. Salt, pepper, any herbs you like. Whisk-a-whisk, and there’s some dressing for you.

Now, combine all this stuff together in a big-ass bowl.

If you’re like me, you’re gonna wanna hit it with another splash of lemon juice after it’s on a plate or in a bowl.

If you’re the kind of person who likes cheese, I did a grated sharp cheddar over it and enjoyed it. But also a nice real Parmesan would go great, too.

Anyway, eat it. It’s very satisfying. Or don’t, I’m not your nutritionist.

Midjourney Artificial Intelligence Art

So, art from artificial intelligence is all the rage these days, from Dall-E Mini to Midjourney. I managed a beta invite to Midjourney and, ummm, uhhh.

I did some things.

Here are some of those things. And I apologize for them.

You can guess what terms I used to gather some of these images, if you’d like, though I’ll tell you that the last one there was “photorealistic Caillou, nightmare.”

Please enjoy.

11 responses to “Fun Updates And Tidbits Amid The Continuing Collapse Of Democracy, I’m Sure It’s Fine”

  1. creepy images that will haunt my dreams…why do I keep scrolling through ALL OF THEM? (glutton for punishment)

  2. Dang, man, when is the cookbook coming out? This vegetarian was reading your barley salad (?) recipe at 10:30 am & my mouth is watering. I’ll have to snag some barley & try it soon. Thanks for sharing it!

  3. Mmmm… I have a real soft spot for pearled barley risotto. It has the same starchy properties as medium-grain rice, but just has a lovely nuttiness and texture to it. There’s also really great cream of barley soup in one of Deborah Madison’s cookbooks. I might have to go buy some once it’s cool enough to cook in an un-air conditioned kitchen again.

  4. I do not like those Book of Accident images. They will haunt my dreams…

    The evil apple ones, on the other hand, are great! I wonder what the copyright ramifications are for AI-generated images… Could you use one as the cover of a book?

    • There are allowances for commercial applications, if I recall — something about how it just can’t exceed a million bucks in revenue or budget or something? Not sure. Not intending to use them for commercial purposes, either way, but yeah.

  5. Literally yesterday we made chicken barley soup! The key to leftovers is to cook the barley in salted water but only add what you want eat right now to your bowl of soup. Store soup and cooked barley separately. Otherwise the barley soaks up all the liquid and gets mushy.

  6. Is it just me that thinks it’s hilarious that a nightmare Caillou is just Caillou with some blood on his face? Poor kid seems to be the most hated cartoon character ever, even by an AI art generator.

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