’16 Going On ’17

So ends everyone’s favorite year, ever.

I don’t think anyone within my circle of friends — real life friends and online friends alike — made it out totally unscathed, but that’s what comes with surrounding yourself people who still have shreds of moral decency, I guess. The point is: we made it through the arbitrary stretch we’ll all look back on as “2016,” probably while rolling our eyes or making a sour face or something.

It was a rough year, but I don’t need to tell anybody else that. And as we look forward to one of uncertainty (unless you’re one of my readers who is already on January 1, in which case it’s probably at least a little more certain)…this blog’s future follows suit.

No, I’m not shutting it down. (TOO BAD.) But my longest, most consistent project ended this year. I have a few other balls in the air, and some ideas, but it’s going to come down to where (and when) the inspiration finds me. I don’t have a specific direction right now. I do plan on running a reader’s survey* again very soon, so I can gauge what it is you would like to see here, but…frankly, I don’t know what 2017 will bring here.

If that sounds worrying or depressed or anything else along those lines, it shouldn’t. It’s exciting. I’m going to discover what comes next right alongside you. And I do have ideas for some posts that I know I’ll enjoy writing.


I don’t know.

And that’s okay.

There’s a lot that we don’t know as 2017 begins.

I just want to thank you all for making my year a little bit brighter. Every comment, email, Facebook message, or anything else I get from a reader makes my day. Even when they call me names or ask for my address so they can mail me ALF puppets.

You guys are great. And I’m thankful every day that I have an audience willing to indulge me in my bottomless, neurotic nerdery.

That’s the highlight of every year.

Thank you.

Now go have fun. Okay?

* And please participate! I’ll have a prize or something, but, mainly, these surveys are tremendously helpful to me, and I want you to make your voice heard.

Merry Christmas!

Hey. I’ll be back with my typical year-end post, but for now: Merry Christmas, if you celebrate that. If you don’t, happy December 25. Thank you for reading, and for tolerating my wallowing in literacy this holiday season.

I deeply enjoyed writing these. It was…good for me, I think. It was a chance to just write. Not to worry. Not to be anxious. Not even to think very hard. These are books (or sometimes authors) that already mean a lot to me. I knew what I wanted to say. I sat down and said it. And that helped me a lot to get back into the habit of writing…something that, to be honest, has been difficult for me lately. Having a daily commitment was good as well. Without that…I can’t imagine I’d have done much of anything.

So thank you. I needed this. I hope you got something from it as well.

If you’re interested in the full list, or just want to revisit any previous entries from my advent feature, have at it:

Day 1: Catch-22
Day 2: Blindness
Day 3: Lord Jim
Day 4: The Catcher in the Rye
Day 5: The Postman Always Rings Twice
Day 6: Point Omega
Day 7: The Boy Detective Fails
Day 8: Ulysses
Day 9: Pale Fire
Day 10: Mother Night
Day 11: The Good Soldier
Day 12: Middlesex
Day 13: Flatland
Day 14: The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
Day 15: The Big Sleep
Day 16: Against the Day
Day 17: Mostly Harmless
Day 18: The Great Gatsby
Day 19: The Road
Day 20: Of Mice and Men
Day 21: The Devil in the White City
Day 22: The Sound and the Fury
Day 23: Nineteen Eighty-Four
Day 24: The Hotel New Hampshire

I appreciate all of you. Be good to yourselves, and be good to each other.

Let’s do our best this coming year. It’s bound to be a bumpy ride.

Announcing: Choose Your Own Advent!

Black Books

Starting this week, it’s the Noiseless Chatter advent calendar: Choose Your Own Advent!

A new post every day(!) from December 1 – December 24. Each one is a writeup of a different novel, covering a grand total of 24, and spanning many different approaches to the material.

Specifically, I think back to a comment longtime reader RaikoLives left here, thanking me for speaking about the experience of reading each book, as opposed to just summarizing plots. I’m taking that approach for Choose Your Own Advent as well. There may be recaps, there may not be, but these pieces will all, in some way, reflect my experience as a reader, as a writer, as a human being whose life has been improved and enriched by an appreciation for literature.

I love books. You…probably know that already, but I always feel as though I don’t write about them enough. This is a chance for me to scratch that itch, and it may help you find something great to read in the new year.

I get asked for reading suggestions often, and I love to respond personally to those whenever I can. But…well…now I can do it on a wider scale, and I really do hope you enjoy it. It’s the biggest series this blog’s had in a while, and I’m excited to share it.

There aren’t many rules, but I did want to set a few so that the posts would be varied and, hopefully, interesting.

Novels only. So no non-fiction, no graphic novels, no short story collections. Sorry, but I had to narrow the criteria somehow, or I’d be here choosing books forever.

Only one title per author. Because otherwise I’d never shut up about Thomas Pynchon.

Approximately 1,000 words each. Those are pretty short posts by this site’s standards, but I think that still gives us a lot of space to find interesting inroads. It’ll add up to around 24,000 words for the feature when all is said and done anyway, so I hope it pleases those who enjoy both bite-sized and meatier reading material.

This is not a “top 24 greatest novels” list or anything; the books covered won’t even necessarily be ones that I like…they’re just ones that I had something to say about. And while you can probably guess a handful of titles that I’ll cover, I know there will be some big surprises as well, as I’m using this series to spotlight some books that I might not otherwise have any opportunity to write about.

Anyway, come back on Thursday, December 1 for the first entry. We’ll get to celebrate the end of one monumentally shitty year by immersing ourselves in my favorite medium.

I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.


O Brother, Where Art Thou?

So, this site. And what’s to come. And all the other questions I wish I didn’t have to answer.

In short, I’m not going anywhere. Or, actually, I’m going very far away. But the site isn’t going anywhere.

Or, actually, it’s going to keep going where it’s always gone, but maybe more slowly.

Should I start again?


I’m at something of a crossroads with Noiseless Chatter. The ALF series is done. Forever. Period. And I can basically write whatever I want from here on out. I still plan on being amusing (NOT LIKE I CAN HELP IT) and saying curse words, but I’ll also say other things, too! And I’ll get to write about the things I want to write about!

Like Fiction Into Film! And Trilogy of Terror, since October is coming back around!

I’m excited about those things!

However, I’m…also really low on time.

I started a new job recently. It’s a great job with a great company. It’s good money. It’s fantastic experience. It’s awesome.

It also takes a lot out of me. When I get home, sure, I can write. And I often do! But I also have a girlfriend. And things I’d like to read. And things I’d like to watch. And Tokyo Mirage Sessions, which is brilliant yet refuses to play itself.

So it’s going to require me to…basically rebalance my entire life as far as that goes. In a way, that sucks for the blog, because it (necessarily) gets the short shrift. With pretty much anything else, I just have to be there, doing what I want to do. With this site I need to think of an article, watch or read or listen to whatever it is I want to write about, draft the article, gather my pictures, format it, edit it, post it, realize I missed 15 typos, correct them…u.s.w.

So needless to say I HATE ALL OF THAT

…of course I don’t. It’s just that it takes time. And I need to find a way to set that time aside, while not taking too much away from the other things that are important to me and my sanity.

In time, at the very least, I’ll get more settled at work, and it’ll involve less learning and more doing, which should give me some of my energy back. Until then…I guess I just ask for your patience. And for you to believe me when I say, hey, please do check back now and again, because I’ll be posting things.

Maybe I’ll give myself a weekly posting schedule. Would that work for you guys? Granted, one post a week isn’t much, but I’d like to think my posts are worth, like, 40 posts that anyone else would write. Surely you agree.

Let me know. I want you guys to be happy with whatever I do.

Another thing to mention: I’ll be leaving next weekend for Germany, to train for my new job. I’ll be gone for three straight weeks. I’m going to try to lock some posts down to publish while I’m gone, but I honestly can’t promise I’ll have the time to do so. (Man, I’m sure glad I got this job after stupid ALF was done. If I bailed for any length of time in the homestretch you guys would have rightly eaten me alive.)

So it may be quiet. And even if it’s not totally quiet, it’ll still be quieter.

But I do have more to come. Red Dwarf is airing new episodes soon, and I’ll review them. I’ll finally finish the second half of season two of Better Call Saul. I’m working on an ebook with Casey and J.P. that I think you guys will like, if you know what’s good for you.

And there’s more, like the article I’m writing for The AV Club. Did I ever mention that here? I forget. BUT I AM WRITING AN ARTICLE FOR THE AV CLUB and I need to get them the final draft this weekend so THAT TOO.

This is a tired post, from a tired man, but the site still has so much to say. I’m just trying to find the time to say it.

Any thoughts or feedback are welcome. But all I ask is that you stay tuned.

Thanks, beautiful.


Gravity's Rainbow

Another one of those “I know it’s quiet” updates. But mainly I didn’t want you to think that all my attention was on ALF, or that once that series ends the site will cease to publish anything.

I’ve been busy lately, which probably isn’t much of a surprise…but I’ve also been rereading Gravity’s Rainbow, my personal favorite novel…and it’s one that occupies one hell of a lot of mental bandwidth. In fact, I just finished it, and I’m still stuck thinking about it.

Each time I read the book I can hold the narrative thread a little longer than I did the previous time. It’s a complex tale, in which it’s rarely made explicit that you’re in the realm of fantasy, or hallucination, or a dream, or that the character you’re following now or hearing from is a ghost, or that you’re hearing from a character at all. It’s rarely clear when you drift backward into the past or lurch in the space between two commas into the future. In short, it takes a lot of attention to read…and it rewires your brain into a kind of functional paranoia.

It’s great.

This time I made it just about to the end, I think, before the thread started to fray on me. And because of that, I found myself being moved deeply by passages that never even registered with me before. Reading Gravity’s Rainbow is a new experience every time…a text that’s always appropriate to wherever I am in life…one which never changes, but which reveals different, important aspects of itself to me when — and not before — I need to find them.

That’s what’s been distracting me from writing.


Since we’re so close to the end here — just the stream, Project: ALF, and a handful of wrap-up features — I’m going to try my damnedest to keep those coming. Usually when it’s quiet here ALF suffers, too, but this time, since we’re essentially just saying goodbye at this point, I want to keep that going, and that may, for the next few weeks, be at the expense of other content.

One interesting thing is that Google Analytics reveals to me that my daily traffic has tripled in the past month. Since it’s been so quiet and since ALF is coming to a stop, I’d have honestly guessed it would have decreased, if anything. In fact, that’s why I haven’t been checking it. I thought it’d be depressing news.

So…welcome, new readers! And thanks to everybody for making this site a success. It goes a long way toward convincing me that I haven’t wasted all of my time on Earth.

More to come, stay tuned, u.s.w.

One disappointing discovery: I had read at some point that the fourth and final section of Gravity’s Rainbow had a different epigraph in early printings. Instead of the Richard Nixon quote, it featured a much longer one from Joni Mitchell. But I own a pre-release review copy, and it has the Nixon quote, as you’ll see above in a photo I just snapped to immortalize my disappointment.

I don’t know if the Mitchell thing is apocryphal or if there were two pre-release printings, but I can’t find any photographic evidence of it, and my empirical evidence runs contrary to it, so until I see otherwise I’ll assume it’s false.

Which is sad. I thought that would be a fun difference to be able to point to. NOW I CAN POINT AT NOTHING.

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