Thursday, November 29, 2007

Vex Harrow in Twilight and Thorns, Dec 1st 2007

Upcoming horror anthology, Twilight and Thorns published by Circle Dark Publishing will contain a Vexations story starring Vex Harrow and her taxi! Full news story over at the Mill Avenue Vexations news blog.

The cover, you can see immediately to the right, was just released yesterday and the full anthology will be published in e-book format this upcoming Saturday, the 1st of December. Since most of my fans have access to computers, I hope that they will take a moment of their day to look over the stories available in this anthology and possibly purchase.

"Step On It" by Kyt Dotson, starring Vex Harrow, is only available in the Twilight and Thorns anthology.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Hello Cory aka I get strange at 2a.m.

Introducing Hello Cory by Kyt Dotson. Thou can find the full text over at Vexations.

Here's a small snip of the text:

That’s when I saw him. An uncanny wind kicked up, blowing dust and desert debris across the road and caught his crimson cape with an almost-superhero snapshot pose as he leaned into the gale.

He saw me, waved, and managed a shrill cab-call whistle. Having turned to face me, I could see that aside from the dashing red cape, he also wore a pair of blue goggles. Even if I had considered passing him up, the sheer novelty of his costume compelled me to pull to a stop only a few car lengths past.

The radio, which had been playing something guttural and death-metal on my drive out of AJ, abruptly switched to a piano ditty that reminded me of a Prohibition era Speakeasy riddled with the pops and cracks of static. The door opened and entered my newest fare—goggles pushed up onto his broad forehead, now nestled in his close-cut hair and red cape yanked in as he closed the door against the night.

“I couldn’t help but notice,” he said, “that you have an EFF sticker on the back of your cab.”

Link, via Mill Avenue Vexations

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I've spent the better part of a week and a half reading this book: Taxi! A Social History of the New York Cabdriver. For the most part, this is a title that delivers. It's a long, well researched, jaunt across the eras from the original cabbies of New York emergence in 1907 to the contemporary industry of 2006.

Overall the chapters are extremely dry. This is a history book, it makes no pretenses of being anything else. And there is the odd gross grammar error and edit glitch to smirk at here and there. I did enjoy mostly the anecdotes peppered throughout the text. However, they are too spare to really make it light reading. For those looking for a comprehensive look at the evolution of this industry in New York, this is probably the book. The beginning few chapters cover decade spans each, attempting to convey the brimming emotions and zeitgeist prevalent to the era.

Both industry/union strikes and the legislation that lead to certain elements of the modern day career are developed. The slang and the attitudes of both cabbies and the public are discussed. And some of my favorite parts of the text involve the popular portrayals of cabdrivers in movies. I will probably try to purchase some of these films and TV shows to draw more ideas for Vexations.

The image of the cover is a link to the book at I suggest anyone who has any interest in these interesting people who prowl the city streets, providing that last link in transit to many millions of people a year, get it and read it.

I gravitated to this book because of Ms. Vex Harrow's taxi driving experiences. I already read Mean Streets, but that didn't give me a lot of comprehension of the history of a whole. While New York City isn't much like Phoenix – or so I gather – it is another large city and some of its problems will be reflected here. Her taxi isn't supposed to be just some paper-mâché backdrop, it’s her lifeline, and my best method for bringing the audience into Phoenix.

I have a lot of experience riding in cabs, but not driving them. It is, therefore, necessary for me to bridge those gaps.

Who is more free on the streets than a taxi cab driver? Catching fares from various areas and conveying them to and fro with a veteran ease. They are blurry birds, acute in their apprehension of the motion of traffic and the layout of the city. If there is a heartbeat driving those arteries, they’d know it. It’s the perfect place for someone like Vex to gaze at the motions of the city around her—it gives me the perfect chance to move the world through the backseat of her cab and deliver their hearts, minds, and lifelines to the audience through her senses.

And it gives me numerous, less-than-contrived, entrances to the otherworldly wonders that Phoenix possesses.

And everyone is invited.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Mill Avenue Nights, Saturday November 17th

Tonight, tonight… Things went a little differently. Our first order of business—with Kazz at the helm of the red SUV he and his lovely kaywng drive—we bopped on down to my favorite drag after making a brief stop off to collect another companion in these escapades: Omni. The thought was, at least on Kazz’s part, that if Omni didn’t awaken by 9p.m. and we did not arrive to collect him in person, he would be standing us up again as he did the last two times.

That ended up working out extremely well and sadly doesn’t make a good story especially during a bleary-eyed morning after hitting the Ave.

Kazz has been showing his atheist streak and has been agitating for some anti-tracts to be able to pass out to combat the tracts that the preachers pass out. Talk about the development of an ever more complex immune-system metaphor. So, in plying my own efforts, I tried to hunt down some cultural criticism that pokes directly at the arguments they use and the pamphlets that they themselves print. It was difficult to find anything on short notice but I did grab some things and we printed out some forty of them. However, I didn’t find the discussing in them altogether socially compelling (you could read it here) and while Kazz agreed he carried them anyway.

However, he inevitably balked at handing any of them out.

Jeremiah and Todd

The real fun arrived because a very familiar face joined the preachers: Jeremiah. He usually comes with an easel and a series of laminated posters proclaiming the same wrong, tired arguments year after year. One of my favorite is still the poster proclaiming how Kent Hovind is offering $250,000 for someone who can provide empirical evidence supporting the theory of evolution. The argument goes that, in spite of mounting evidence supporting the scientific theory, nobody has yet been able to claim the money. Thus: evolution is obviously wrong. Else someone would be two-hundred and fifty thousand dollars richer. Right? Well, if that logic follows, then I’d like to point out that Cory Doctorow, et al. are offering one million dollars to anyone who can provide empirical evidence that Jesus is not the son of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (the deity of Pastafarianism.) In spite of this gigantic amount of money dangling tantalizingly, nobody has stepped forward to claim it. Thus: Jesus must obviously be the son of the Flying Spaghetti monster. (Which I figure most people who want to wield the previous challenge would say is preposterous.)

Why exactly the street preachers feel that entering into the ID vs. evolution debate actually does their positions on other things any actual credit, I’m not sure. Jeremiah could at least use a more honest approach.

Never fear! Todd is here! Shortly after Jeremiah took to the stand (and I got my moment to actually greet him), Todd materialized from the Mill Ave crowds. Todd is another highly charged atheist fellow who lends his bellowing lungs and encompassing arm motions to take over Jeremiah’s forum. In fact, when first noticing that Jeremiah had returned to the Ave, people wondered aloud how far behind Todd could be.

Once all that got into full swing, I left the preachers, Todd, and Kazz to their own devices. Since I don’t really hit Mill to be a mouthpiece for either philosophy. I’m down here to hand out Vexations, observe the culture, and actually get to meet people. While the abrasion against the arterial flow of the Ave is a good place for this—they provide a narrowing of the stream that slows down traffic and puts likely people within my range of observation—places like the drum circle, the various spray painters, and other entertainers make equally good fishing spots.


Out of the various characters that I made acquaintance with that night, I saw a face I haven’t seen in a while: Dawn.

She’s an old Mill rat who used to sell hand-made hemp necklaces out of the brick planter near to the Urban Outfitters (where the preachers set up.) I like her because she has a calm, hippy chick chic comportment and embodies a nature I’d like to see more of on the Ave. She brought me harrowing news of greater harassment from the police towards people who sell their wares (such as hers) on the Ave. Over the summer of my absence, she had been threatened with arrest if she continued. I am hoping to gather more stories from her about this behavior (dates, times) and compare notes with other activists to see what the City has been up to. Other interesting things of note is that the City has gone out of its way to make it more difficult for people to actually be on the Ave by removing places to sit and those very planters that I was referring to above.


The night culminated in a walk through the Hayden’s Ferry Lakeside multipurpose projects…or whatever they’re called. It’s that region of condominiums and office buildings immediately abutting the fake lake. It may not have the same draw as Mill for people, but we discovered a constant clutter of individuals moving in and out. Some on foot, some on bikes, and the odd police car prowling the dark without headlight crunching in the gravel.

The Saga of the Lost Cell Phone

One particular event played itself out in that we discovered a cell phone, fallen in the gutter, with some jewelry out near Monti’s. Kazz plucked it up as we went along while we tried to determine exactly what to do with it (it’s not like the Ave exactly has a Lost & Found.)

So, I suggested that he check the address book, perhaps it would garner some clues on how to contact the person. While he was doing this the phone began to ring and he answered, it seemed the people who had dropped it realized that it was missing. I heard Kazz talking on it and noticed a pair of people—a boy and a girl—racing quickly down the sidewalk across the street, one of them had a cell phone in hand.

“Where are you at?” Kazz asks.

“I think, I found them,” I said. “They’re right across the street. Tell them that I’m holding my cane up. Everyone turn back, they’re over by Monti’s.”

“Hey, maybe now you can go and have your moment!” Kazz said, dripping sarcasm. He’s trying to make a joke about a comment about Michael Monti once being quoted as saying that nobody had told him, “I had a personally changing moment leaning against your adobe wall.”

Well, it wasn’t exactly that moving, but we returned an important personal item to a young lady leaning against that adobe wall. I’m not going to pretend it was anything more than good citizenship, I’m just glad it worked out so well. The prospect of actually calling entries in someone else’s cell phone is a little daunting. What do you say to “Dad” when you call him? “I found your son/daughter’s cell phone and I’m trying to return it.” Talk about a little awkward.

Between Todd, Jeremiah, the street preachers, seeing some fans of Vexations, and the saga of the cell phone, this Saturday turned out to be a good day indeed.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Special Edition Volume 5 Booklets In

We have just gotten in a small supply of full color Mill Avenue Vexations Volume 5: Drum Circle booklets. There is a very limited supply, and these are essentially special editions in that I am going to sell them to interested parties for a notable sum ($10 which is certainly more than I sell normal booklets.) This is primarily so that I can recoup some of the cost for printing usual volumes, since 90% of the cost will go to future booklet printing runs anyway (whereas part of the price might just get me soda or something.)

Must feed book habit!

Also, I notice that I totally neglected to announce the release of Volume 5 on this blog. How dreadful of me. Although, I have a feeling that most readers of this blog already know about it (from regularly visiting the Vexations News blog, hint hint) but I shouldn’t leave the wholesome few who keep this on their lists.

So. Even though the very-next-announcement will probably be about Volume 6… Mill Avenue Vexations Volume 5: Drum Circle by Kyt Dotson has been released to print, to PDF e-book, and to the web! Featuring our rising star taxicab driver, Vex Harrow, and all manner of misfortune due to hit the metropolitan area of Tempe and Phoenix. This volume also loudly features the Mill Ave drum circle (in one chapter) in order to give readers a clear view of the geography and the social makeup of the setting.

Liberal sprinkling of poetic license reserved by the author.

The extremely lovely cover featured is by Nicole Cardiff, and this isn’t the first time Vexations has had artwork by her (she also did the cover for The Byzantium Outcast.) With new, and beautiful, chapter illustrations by Alan Gallo.

Keep a look out for Vexations Volume 6 and the Seasons collectable cards.


Not the Daily Show, the Writers' Strike

Most people who know me, know that I'm a writer. Everyone else probably also knows that there's a writers' strike going down in Hollywood and that a number of prime time TV shows are enmeshed in this kerfuffle that have shoved them directly into reruns.

I found this wonderful video via an article on Boing Boing.

I may not be the type of writer these people are (I'm a novelist, not a screenwriter) but anyone who works for money can empahtize with this plight. Especially anyone who works in an evolving industry, or scrapes up against one.

All told, the video is hilarious, and I am so glad that the Daily Show's host John Stewart promised to help his writers out even as they strike.

So, watch, laugh, and read up on this strike. if you enjoy the witty banter and dramatic lines of the entertainment industry, this may as well matter to you, because the behavior of these entertainment moguls to their content producers is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Vexations Website Downtime

Yesterday, sometime around 9a.m. a power outage hit the house in Michigan that houses the Mill Avenue Vexations web server. As a result, it remained offline for most of the day (we're all hard working folk who spend a great deal of our lives away from home.)

Suffice it to say, once people trickled back again we were able to get her back online again. The sound of hard drives spinning up cheerfully serenading my friends as they reset their clocks from the flashing 12:00.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mill Avenue Nights: Saturday, November 10th

It seems that the street preachers have suffered a winnowing in my absence. Their numbers have reduced, a bleakness waxes their expressions and tints their voices as they shout to passersby. I am told, though, that some have broken away to spend time at the Arizona State Fair – a place that I no longer patron insomuch as visit in my childhood memories.

I'd like to bring up this moment that I'm extremely amusing bringing Kazz with me on my Mill rounds, since – unlike me – he is a recalcitrant atheist. And by this I mean, he coughs into his hand and shrugs and the next thing you know he's into it with one of the preacher's about some point of deception. I like to examine the preachers as an interesting examination of predatory memes clawing and scratching and fighting for headspace. While I cannot dismiss the fears of people, like Kazz, who see these people as the scout-drones of dangerous memes corrupting otherwise free-willed individuals, I do somewhat dismiss the memes themselves on the grounds that they don’t have much to do with me as a person (nor the people who spread them.) Also unlike me, these people’s memes are Kazz’s enemy because of the nature of their ideas; whereas with me it is a cultural vendetta that causes me to ignore their advances and avoid discussion.

The great eyeless masses don’t need this messiah to rescue them from these particular saviors – but it doesn’t mean they’re not entertaining to listen to.

It’s just a virus, after all. Particularly insidious, yes, but years of evolution and psychic development have allowed the wet wiring of both individuals and their social synergies to develop extremely effective immune systems.

One particularly welcome element to the Ave was in the form of George, a light-on-his-feet young man who I would suspect is going to ASU. According to him, he came to town stranded and went off in every direction but Mill initially. Kazz and I found him arguing with one of the preachers about some point of fact that I didn't quite catch. The way that his face lit up when I mentioned Erisianism simply made my day. I hope to see him again. I gave him a copy of Vexations Volume 5.

The nights are getting colder! So, whatever that long, dark road brings us beneath the taciturn glow of Mill Ave’s lamps, and the blinking of those cranes building the Centerpointe Condominiums above…

"...your eyes are telling stories that I can't neglect."

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Mill Avenue Vexations Vol 3 Reviewed on Goth E-zine

In what I think is a rather excellent trend, Gothic Angst web zine has been reviewing their way through Mill Avenue Vexations -- the latest news on this subject, the review of Vol 3, is now available to peruse on the Vexations blog.

This volume things start getting rolling with deaths happening in the original crew, Vex starting to home in on the problems at hand, and the world essentially doing its darned best to go to hell in a handbasket...

The literary reviewer, H. M. Garber of goth e-zine Gothic Angst, has published a review of Volume Three from Mill Avenue Vexations. People should dash on over there and check it out.