The House

There's a house in the San Fernando Valley that's not far from where I live, and the owner has filled the foliage growing in the section of dirt between the sidewalk and the curb with a collection of curious things. There are inspirational signs, small gnomes, a happy Buddha. I don't know who owns the house or what the purpose of this collection is. Suffice to say, the snake that's hanging in the tree is striking.

Buy a copy of my digital short story "The Tumor"! It's been called "a masterpiece."

Tough Girls

Not long ago, I went to a strip club in the San Fernando Valley where porn stars and strippers were engaged in cage fighting. I expected it to be something like the WWE, but in reality it was a bit more like the UFC. I spoke to several of the fighters -- all women -- and it occurred to me that maybe fighting wasn't so different from stripping or performing in the adult business. It's about pushing yourself to extremes, taking your body to its limits, and enjoying the spectacle.

Buy a copy of my digital short story "The Tumor"! It's been called "a masterpiece."

Where Deckard Lived

I made a quick detour up to the Ennis House today, in the hills above Los Feliz. This is the house where Deckard lived in "Blade Runner." Oh, and it was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It's one of my favorite residential homes in the world. I used to live nearby and would walk by it regularly. Before they stopped doing so, I went on a tour of the place. It is truly extraordinary. For a time, it appeared that it would fall into ruin, but billionaire Ron Burkle bought it, and he saved it. It's still standing.

Buy a copy of my digital short story "The Tumor"! It's been called "a masterpiece."

Comixxx

I drafted an outline for a comic the other day. It had to do with Porn Valley. I made it on some index cards I had lying around. I used to make comics. You can read one of them, "My, My American Bukkake, Too," on Artbomb. I made that one using photos I took on a porn set, which I ran through a Photoshop process called Stamp, then messed with them to make them how I liked. I should probably do a third one.

Buy a copy of my digital short story "The Tumor"! It's been called "a masterpiece."

Science Writing That Doesn't Stink

I don't care much for most science writing. I can be stiff, unwieldy, heavy, dead. Oftentimes, it looks more backwards than forwards, or it looks so far forwards so as to leave the reader unmoored, or it's so preoccupied with some micro-entity that the bigger picture is lost. But when you find yourself in a bookstore -- a Barnes & Noble, no less -- that's housed in a 1930s Art Deco theater in the San Fernando Valley, what are you going to do ... not buy something? I bought a copy of The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2017 and a copy of Sy Montgomery's The Soul of An Octopus. I didn't have high hopes; the anthology was edited by Hope Jahren, whose science memoir Lab Girl I deeply disliked. Jahren exhibits the problem most scientists-as-writers have; they can analyze, but they cannot express. I figured if I liked one piece in the collection, that would suffice. As it turned out, I liked two: one that I'd read previously and one that I hadn't. If you haven't read Elizabeth Kolbert's "Greenland Is Melting," do. (In the anthology, it's entitled "A Song of Ice.") It's the kind of science writing I like: person goes off on adventure to discover something astonishing, told in a somewhat outsider way, with a bit of head shaking disconcert at the great unknowability of the world. The one I hadn't read previously that I liked was David Epstein's "The DIY Scientist, the Olympian, and the Mutated Gene." Everything in the story is as it shouldn't be: the scientist isn't a scientist, the story itself arises from happenstance, and the scientific advance far out sprints its convoluted, humble start. So much science writing seems like snobbery, like an exercise in exclusion, like an homage to the superiority of the author. But the good ones, it seems to me, are probably what people tell you science writing shouldn't be: subjective, inexplicable, magical. They make it less esoteric, more human.