Sybil’s Garage Birthday Sale

Sybil's Garage No. 3To celebrate my upcoming birthday Senses Five Press will be offering special prices on several of our publications for the next seven days.

Sybil’s Garage No. 3, print version is now only $5.

Sybil’s Garage No. 3, pdf version is now only $3.

We are also offering a new combo deal. Get pdf versions of issues two and three for only $5.

Shipping (if necessary) is included in the price. Pdf versions are instant downloads. Sate your appetite for good summer fiction!

This sale will only run through Sunday, June 11th, so pass the word along and order soon! Thanks for all your support!

To order, click here.

Bombastic Balticon

David and Klingon DominatrixIn my continued crusade to prove it is impossible not to have fun at a con, I will attempt to briefly describe the adventure several of us had this weekend at Balticon 2006 in Hunt Valley, Maryland. John Adams drove Jenny Rappaport, Devin J. Poore, Mercurio D. Rivera, and myself down I-95 through much traffic to the hotel. John managed to check in, drop our bags off, and make his 6pm panel literally at 6:02pm.

What can you say to a t-shirt that translates Dune’s litany against fear into a litany against decaf? “I’ll take it!” The panels went by in a blur mostly due to lack of sleep and the failing AC in the hotel, but I will try to remember which ones I saw.

Blogging, Why Where and How? – John Adams was on this panel and, with a free first chapter of Podcasting for Dummies I learned about a cool and free audio editor called Audacity.

Opening Ceremonies – A sci-fi rendition of the Monty Python cheese shop sketch converted into a book store. This one made me cringe. I know it’s hard getting in front of a large audience, but please, next time pick someone who has a smidgen of stage presence!

After that we went to the bar and then entered a Scotch (that is, fermented beverages) party where Mercurio and I got heavily inebriated on some excellent scotch that tasted much stronger than its labeled 86 proof.

Robin Hood?Collaboration PanelSaturday began with a panel of Neil Gaiman and everyone he’s ever collaborated with. My hands are too tired to type all the names, but Gene Wolfe was there. Too low audio made this one a bit mediocre, and the questions were not all that good. But Neil always steals the show with his wit and eloquence.

Rock in SF – John Adams was on this panel which talked about rock themes in SF, or maybe SF themes in rock. We were never sure. I mentioned Man or Astro Man which no one seemed to know and attempted, as I tend to do, to bring Blade Runner into the conversation via a Billy Idol video (L.A. Woman)

Creating a Realistic Star System – This panel attempted to show us how to use science and the internet to, well, craft a realistic star system. We think they may have been too successful because the room warmed to well over 90 degrees. I think I lost a few pounds.

How Does the new Dr. Who Stack Up? – This panel was so crowded and so full of people willing to talk over the panelists because they were so excited that I left halfway through. I do, however, agree with the very talkative girl who raved endlessly about season two’s “The Girl in the Fireplace.”

Getting Started in Small Press Publishing This was relevant to me, of course, and the general message was: you will not get rich, you may fail, you must love it. Things I already knew. Still, it was good, and I spoke with some of the panelists after, even selling some copies of Sybil’s Garage.

We ended Saturday at a party thrown by Mike Pederson of Nth Degree which was just fabulous. The hotel room had a back door which led out onto a backyard and a small hill. There we watched a man with a glowstick spell out words while a photographer left his camera’s shutter open for minutes at a time. They were moderately successful. We also met Paula, a physicist, who I am proud to say (in her own words), was “outgeeked” regarding my knowledge of Blade Runner. She also was a fan of Poe, loved Lovecraft, and BR was perhaps her favorite film. If she wasn’t married…

Neil Gaiman and Gene WolfeNeil Gaiman and Gene Wolfe – By far the most enjoyable panel of the weekend. Neil and Gene are two affable and very charming people who just light up on stage. Neil’s words were like stories in themselves and really captivated me, especially his descriptions of how he came up with ideas and also the strange sentence that appeared in the text the two men had collaborated on. No one could claim who had written it.

Intro to CosPlay – Cosplay: people who dress up as their favorite characters. Crossplay: people who dress up as their favorite character of the opposite gender. This panel proved to me that there is an interest group for everyone.

Ask The Editors – Another John Adams panel which started out very well, but diverged somewhere in the middle when people were asking dozens of questions, and with my lack of sleep I kind of zoned out and started daydreaming of a new short story.

It wouldn’t be a true con if I didn’t come home with some books. I bought a copy of Lovecraft’s Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath, 1970 edition for $10. I almost, but did not buy a printing of William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land for $20. I bought the Arkham Edition of Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos Vol I  and Ramsey Campbell’s Demons by Daylight.

For six bucks I bought an unabridged copy of Edgar Allen Poe’s works, including his poetry. It literally was a steal. I also picked up a copy of Subterranean #2, and Nth Degree #14.

And the f’n Dune/decaf shirt! I can’t wait to wear it again! All in all it was a great time!

John Adams has some pictures from the con over at flickr.

Eliyahoo Talgam – Embrace the Pain – MP3 Podcast

Eli TalgamMola Coffee is a little café on the east side of Hoboken’s Washington Street. On any given day one can find a motley collection of caffeine seekers, and a cursory glance on this day reveals just such color: a lounge playing jazz pianist woos the passers-by with his portable keyboard; most don’t tip, but he doesn’t seem to care. A deadhead plays his iPod nano while veiled behind a thick cloud of cigarette smoke; a textbook-sized dissection of his favorite band’s lyrics sits before him, and he follows it page by page. A group of bookish youths from the local university ignite Camel Lights and maddeningly try to forget about their school work with each heavy drag. A disturbingly attractive woman studies group psychology at a nearby table, her yellow highlighter poised like a deadly knife above the text. A comic book colorist adds detail to a strongly jowled, cartoonish face that reminds this author of “A Scanner Darkly”; his laptop and stylus-pad double as a studio. By the window a writer struggles with the third chapter of his first novel, a work of historical fiction. In the café’s garden, a bunch of teenagers pseudo-surreptitiously smoke pot; one wonders if they think they are being discreet. Other patrons tap on laptops or turn pages of their books, but most just sit and talk. And if you wait here long enough, on any given day, you will most likely hear the resounding voice of an employee berating the customers for no apparent reason.

“You want a cappuccino? Why should I give you that?” he says in a thick, Israeli, accent. “What have you done for me lately that I should help you?”

It’s a joke, of course, yet you can’t help but stutter. He speaks curtly with one customer, and in a complete reversal of tone that throws you off guard if you’re not paying attention, he speaks endearingly and charmingly to another. His abrasiveness, you see, is reserved for those he knows and cares about, a kind of inside joke. And though his first language is not English, his retorts are always eloquent, as if prepared before-hand, but inside his beleaguered pauses you can almost see the gears turning inside his head. It’s impossible not to notice this loud, witty man with a shaved head and glasses as he bounces from one end of the café to the other, commenting unabashedly.

And after a time sitting, sipping your coffee, you begin to realize that this is all part of the banter of this place, that the motley collection of people come in here not just for the coffee, but for the conversation, the atmosphere — perhaps even just for him.

His name is Eliyahoo Talgam, though he goes by Eli (a name that rhymes with “Eddie”). And though he is hesitant to call himself a poet, Eli has been writing poetry for more than twenty years.

“By not calling myself a poet,” Eli says, “I avoid the criticism that goes with the title.”

And he is very much a self-made creation. For a few weeks, next to the café’s register, there was a piece of paper with the word “unfortunately” translated into several dozen languages, each in unique handwriting. The translations were provided by the customers, awaking the patrons (and this author) to the incredible diversity of the coffee shop, but the genesis of this idea was solely Eli’s. Today, there sits a scribbling book on the counter where anyone can write down their thoughts. Flipping through its pages one finds everything from laments against the current political situation, to poetry, to teenage scrawls about “How much I [heart] Mola coffee.” This scribble book is also his creation.

“Since an early age I was involved with art in many different forms,” he says. “I wrote poems and short stories, and created some music which has appeared around the world.”

Born in Jerusalem, but a Tel-Aviv-nik at heart, he came to the US three and a half years ago. Originally published in Israeli newspapers, his Hebrew poems garnered some acclaim, but he has only recently started writing again in English. Yet, in only two short months, his English poems, posted on his website, Florecita Plastika, have attracted wide attention, including a guest appearance on Radio Hudson.

“His poems are deeply personal,” says Melissa Knott, a co-worker of Eli’s. “Yet they are naked and obvious to readers.”

On thing is certain: they are powerful, even with the occasional mistake.

“There’s a quality [in Eli’s poems] that only a non-native speaker of a language possesses, the combination of verbs is more concise and clever than a trained speaker could concoct,” Melissa says.

Sometimes abrasive, yet endearingly compassionate, fiercely dedicated to his son, often to the chagrin of others, unstoppably creative yet totally approachable, Eli Talgam took time out of his busy life to sit with me and discuss his poetry. The mp3 podcast is below.

Eli Talgam Interview
Eli Talgam Interview (27 minutes, 25 Mb)

(Eli has graciously offered to be available for comments on this post)

My gosh, we have T-shirts!

T-shirtYes, we have T-shirts!  You can now show off your Sybil’s pride this summer by sporting a snazzy one of these.  We have multiple sizes, colors, and designs (including the oft-requested mandolin cover from issue two.)  Click here to enjoy them!

This weekend several members of the Alteredfluid group spent a day writing in Hoboken at Panera bread.  It was crowded and bustling but we maganed to be quite productive.  I shall, however, refrain from drinking two large 20oz coffees and eating little all day.  Heart palpitations are not my thing.

And a few interesting google search strings that brought people to this site recently:

“white fungus mulch leaves itching”

“my five senses coloring page”

“selfish prick”

“why is my cat always meowing”

“groped for her glasses”

“human cryonics”