What Christmas Means to Me

Sometimes, around Christmas, I recall a Slan Shack I lived in in the mid 80’s called Finagle’s Freehold, where, around this time of the year, we would bring the motorcycle in the living room, decorate it with tinsel and lights, and sing carols to it.  I’ve posted these before, so if this is old news to you, just skip it.  The rest of you, enjoy.


Jingle bike, jingle bike, sliding to a spill
Oh what fun it is to ride on a Triumph Bonneville,
Jingle bike, jingle bike, sliding to a spill.
Oh what fun it is to ride on a Triumph Bonneville!

..  Through the house we go, laughing at our ease
..  Bouncing down the stairs, with 750 CCs.
.. Lights on signals blink, making Christmas zoom
.. Oh what fun is wiping out, in the living room!

Jingle bike…


Oh Christmas bike, oh, Christmas bike, you’re leaking so much oil.
Oh Christmas bike, oh Christmas bike, my hardwood floors are spoiled.
From gleaming pipes, to handle bars
You’re here cuz there’s no room for cars.
Oh Christmas bike, oh, Christmas bike, you’re leaking so much oil.


Silent bike, holy bike, kickstand holding it upright.
Round yon Triumph with no room to ride.
House filling up with carbon monoxide.
Sleep in heavenly fu-umes,   Sleep in heavenly fumes.


Turn off the TV and computer, fa la la la la, la la la la!
See our happy Christmas scooter, fa la la la la, la la la la!
Lights and candles, green and red gear, fa la la la la, la la la la!
Don’t forget protective headgear, fa la la la la, la la la la!


Of Course Fiction is a Drug. Now . . .

In fact, it is many different sorts of drugs, producing many different effects, depending on the chemical one is consuming, and one’s own brain chemistry.  What produces euphoria in one, might produce heartbreak in another,  profound insights in a third, mere boredom in a fourth.

What all of these drugs have in common–or, at least, the subject of today’s sermon–is the time-release nature of the capsule the reader is consuming.  One might say that the reader is consuming words at a given rate; but more important is that the reader is consuming information.  Every sentence, every paragraph, every comma, is designed to control the flow of information to the reader.  And that sometimes means speeding it up, sometimes slowing it down.

Not long ago I had the insight that two of my favorite things to do as a writer are: to tell the reader things, and to not tell the reader things.  Let me expand on that a little.  When I say “tell the reader things” I mean, in particular, conveying information by the expedient of simply saying it.  “His name is Mark; he is a good friend and a jerk.”  When I speak of not telling the reader things, I mean giving the reader the information needed to form his own conclusions: “Adam spoke about Mark in notably uncomplimentary terms.  I couldn’t argue with anything he said, though it made me uncomfortable and a little sad.”

There are times for doing each of those, and one of the main factors to consider is: how fast am I dispensing information?  Am I in danger of making the reader irritated or impatient because he wants to run ahead of me?  Am I asking him to hold too much in his head without giving him time to process it all?”

Before this post gets too loaded with information long, I’ll just make one recommendation.  If you want to want to see the dispensing of information performed perfectly, delightfully, elegantly, go read Isle of the Dead by Roger Zelazny.

And that will do for now.



So, I’m still in Austin.  I’ve been swimming every day because if you’re a Minnesotan and you’re someplace where you can swim in December, you do.

I’ve been working a short story for this project as well as getting some stuff done on Hawk.  The latter, by the way, took an interesting turn.  I was sitting around with Skyler White (the Whites have graciously put me up while I’m here), and we were talking about how stories work, and she said, “I love it when a story does this.”  And I said, “Yeah, me too….hey!”  So most of what I’ve already written has been moved to later in the book, and I’m kind of excited about the new approach.  We’ll see.  As part of working on the short story, I just reread Zelazny’s Isle of the Dead.  Jesus, he was good.  I miss him painfully.

Spent a lot of yesterday going over the new home page, and making notes about it.  Kudos to Corwin and Felix.  I like it a lot; though we’re still working out some details.  Also, thanks to everyone who commented on it.

Saw “Lincoln” for the second time, and was blown away again.  I’m not a huge Spielberg fan, but this was a lovely bit of work.

And I guess that’s about it for now.