Wednesday, September 18, 2013

This made my whole day.

I got to meet one of my heroes last night.

Joe R Lansdale did a reading at The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale. He was funny and engaging and a blast to talk with. In addition to signing my copy of The Thicket, which totally rocks so far, he was nice enough to take a copy of Infernal Machines.

Then I saw this on my Twitter feed this morning...

So, I'm just going to bask in that for a few minutes before I go off to work. Later y'all.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Archive Stuff - Anatomical Nomenclature of a 4-Horned Goat, plus That Time I had my Identity Stolen

I've seen some variations of this idea on a few Tumblr sites and liked it enough to repost ...

Anyway, now that I got that out of my system, this is something that actually happened to me a couple of months back. After the conversation with a well-meaning but somewhat slow on the uptake customer service rep from my bank, I made some notes and here's the result.

The Identity Thief Who wasn't Very Good at his Job

So, somebody got a hold of my Visa card this past June and ran amok with it.

Well, they tried to, anyway. The problem is I think I might have had about 17 dollars in the account, and so what could have been a magnificent crime-spree for this young go-getter turned into a somewhat sad, tawdry affair.

I got the e-mail from my bank and started going through what some folks have described as an absolute nightmare. For me though, it amounted to a 15 minute phone call, followed by several hours of metacognitive contemplation on my part about the man who led some alternate version of my life for about 72 hours.

Here’s some of how it went down, as depicted in the conversation I had with the nice lady who helped me sort the whole thing out.
Operator: (redacted) Bank, How may I help you?

Me: I think somebody hacked my account.

(A bunch of personal questions followed this initial exchange that I won’t get into, as they were totally fucking boring. The 1st operator puts me through to the Fraud Department, where I get asked variations of the same set of questions, which I answer while wishing I had thought to call from a landline, so I could play Angry Birds or something while I do this. Finally we come to this …)

Operator: Okay Mr Millar, it looks as if your account has indeed been compromised. We’re going to have to go down the list of recent transactions to figure out where to apply your Fraud Protection.

Me: Umm, okay.

Operator: Now it looks like you spent $11.37 at a Quik Trip in Tempe AZ at 9:34am on Thursday, is that correct?

Me: That sounds about right.

Operator: Followed by another charge for $6.77 at a Walgreen’s in … that’s also Tempe Arizona, this one was at 1:55pm on Thursday as well.

Me: I’m pretty sure that’s correct also.

Operator: It looks like the next charge was for $232.47, this one was for Safe-T Transmissions in Park City, Utah at 2:43pm. Is that correct?

Me: I’m sorry?

Operator: (Repeats the charge and then adds) Shall I apply this charge sir?

Me: Are you asking me if I somehow traveled 600 miles and got somebody to change out my transmission in less than an hour?

Operator (Totally unfazed): Shall I apply the charge, sir.

Me: No, that wasn’t me.

Operator: Okay then. I also have a charge for $32.33 for, the gold membership.

Me: What’s that?

Operator: I don’t know sir, it’s a website.

Me: I didn’t do that either.

Operator: Okay, it looks like there’s another one for, this one was for -

Me: Nope

Operator: Okay, and another charge for NoStringsAttache-

Me: Nooope.

Operator: That’s fine sir. There’s a charge on Friday for 47 dollars for the Starlite Motel in Washington Terrace.

Me: Awesome.

Operator: I’m sorry, sir?

Me: It sounds like he met somebody, maybe on one of those websites.

Operator: Oh …

Me: Yeah.

(Long pause)

Operator: Shall I apply the charge-

Me: No.

Operator: Okay, it looks like there were a couple more online purchases made (She goes on to name three more dating sites and 2 porn sites. Who pays for porn?)

Me: Okay maybe we can just speed this up by bumping off all of the online purchases.

Operator: Okay, it looks like 2 weeks ago you made a purchase at -

Me: All the online purchases from this weekend, then.

Operator: Okay. Also it looks like a donation was made for 5 dollars to the United Way just outside Ogden Utah on Saturday morning.

Me: Nope, I didn’t do that one, either.

Operator: Shall I apply the charge, sir?

Me: Nah, fuck those guys.

(Long pause)

Me: Hello?

Operator: Just dropping the charge, sir.

There was about 5 minutes more that I won’t get into, because they were boring. I cancelled the account and hung up. This sort of thing can probably be a real pain in the ass for some people and I guess I got off easy.
It kills me that the dude who stole my card donated some of the stolen money to a charity fund. I wonder if that’s just how identity thieves roll in Utah, though.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Notes from the Refractory Zone, Revisited

So, by my count it's been approximately 15 years since I actually posted anything here. Most of the entries past January or so have been guest posts of some sort. If you've been checking for actual new content, please allow me to formally apologize for my truancy.

Here's some stuff that I've been up to lately, for those of you who are stil following along. There was this article I wrote for Cracked in July ...

Along with this one that was published in August ...

I'm going to really try harder to stay on top of this blog, I figure if nothing else I'll use it as a means to keep folks aware of the different projects I have coming up, for example, this anthology that's coming out in early 2014 ...

And finally in the interest of putting some sort of actual content on this page today, here's a joke I wrote:

A horse walks into a bar.

The bartender asks: “What’ll you have?”

The horse says: “Jack Daniels. Double. No ice.”

The bartender: “I don’t get it.”

The horse: “Get what?”

They size each other up. A long, uncomfortable silence ensues.

Finally the bartender shrugs and wanders off to get the drink. The horse swivels in his stool and surveys the place. It’s a smoke-filled wreck of a dive, the kind of place where trouble comes to you even if you’re doing you’re damndest to just mind your own business. The bartender lays a tumbler of bourbon onto a napkin. The horse raises the glass to his nose and sniffs, nods approvingly and slaps a 5 dollar bill on to the bar.

From behind a voice says, “It’s you.”

The horse turns around. Sure enough, trouble has found him. In this case trouble is a tall 30-ish redhead. Tattooed, muscular shoulders and improbably high tits. Fake no doubt - the tits, not the tattoos. She must have turned her fair share of heads back in the day but a lifetime of bad choices has a way of aging some folks prematurely, and this particular filly looks as if she’s been rode hard and hung up wet just a few times too many. It’s the corners of her mouth, mostly. The way they turn down as if a pair of invisible filaments are tugging on them have a way of making her look more than a little unsympathetic.

She raises her eyebrows at him. The horse realizes she’s asked him a question.

The horse says: “I’m sorry?”

She says: “I’m sorry, too.” A pair of tears slide down her leathery cheeks, dragging a couple of ounces of black mascara with them as they join together at a point just below her chin. She wipes them away absentmindedly and pulls out a yellow manilla envelope.

She leans in close, and her full red lips brush the horse's ear. She whispers “Make it look like an accident, okay?”

She slaps the envelope down on the bar right next to his drink and then turns and storms out of the bar. A second later, the sound of tires screeching outside undercuts the tinny jukebox music as a pair of bikers push through the saloon style doors.

The horse tucks the envelope away as the bikers sit down about 3 stools down. He stands up and finishes his drink and walks outside. He is trying not to tremble. Later on he’ll open it up and find $5,000 has been stuffed inside. He has no idea who the woman is, and he doesn’t care, either. As far as the horse is concerned, it’s time to mosey on to the next town.

Some time later, an undercover cop walks into the bar. He orders a drink, checks his watch, and curses under his breath. He finishes his drink and checks his watch again.

He says to the bartender: “Another round.”

The bartender nods, draws him a beer and asks: “So why the long face?”

A Guest Post from S.M. Boyce - Book Nerds, Don't Miss Out on This, Noveltunity Book Club and Giveaway

NoveltunityI have to talk to you about Noveltunity. I don't usually get excited about websites, but this one looks fantastic. It's all about putting power in the hands of the readers. Noveltunity is going to make it so much more fun to be in a book club.

To keep things interesting, he and I put together a really fun giveaway. That's at the bottom, but I want you to learn more about what Noveltunity is going to do for you. It's really cool. I've spoken multiple times with Rick Karlsruher, President of Noveltunity®, and the info he's given me on his new website is going to make life easier for both readers and writers on a global scale.


About Noveltunity

Noveltunity® will be a worldwide ebook/audiobook club that will feature and promote new and undiscovered writers. Members will also have classes and meetings with fellow writers and readers from around the world.


If you are a reader, you get the chance to create the next Stephanie Meyer, JK Rowling or John Grisham. You’ll also be able to meet the writers in meetings as well create friendship with other readers from around the world. In the past two months people from thirty countries have expressed interest in joining.

Seriously. How FUN is that? You get to meet with the chosen authors every month. Just talk to them, like they're normal or something.

So here's the skinny: Noveltunity® launched a crowdfunding campaign on on September 9.

As part of the crowd funding campaign, there are lots of ways to donate. However, one sticks out most to me: the $50 contribution. The bonuses that come with this are ridiculously top-notich. Almost every writer in our group will use this.

You will receive:
  • A state-of-the-art multi-media ebook conversion from eBooks In Motion. This program will allow audio, video and other media to be included in your work. This could separate your book from others and would normally cost over $200.
  • 2 one-year memberships for Noveltunity®. Each will include 36 ebooks and 12 of which will be made into audio books.
  • Audiobooks - included. Yes - they will make audiobooks for you. Sorry. I just wanted to make sure that was pointed out.
When you do the $50 option, you get a "one for a friend" sort of deal, which I love. I like the idea of donating one of the memberships to a public library, but you're welcome to give it to another author friend. If you do donate it to a library, it helps others and puts the club’s book selections on their shelves. This will help dozens of authors every year.

Just for following my blog, Rick has offered our group the ability to use his meeting rooms for classes when we need them. His mission is to help writers succeed. We share that goal.

Let’s all participate! Boyce's Books can put Noveltunity® on the map, and I want you to share in this with me. I'm excited to be with Noveltunity from the beginning, and I want you to be there with me.

So how about it? Are you in?

[button link="" size="medium" target="_blank" color="blue"]Grab Your Spot @ Noveltunity![/button]

If you have any questions, email Rick directly (Rick [at] noveltunity [dot] com) or me.


The Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway