On the Origins of Star Men and #InfiniteWinter

I have a cookbook.

Correction – I have many.

This cookbook is the official Star Trek cookbook from Star Trek’s first chef.

That’s right, Ethan Phillips, (aka Neelix on Voyager and Farex in an episode of TNG) wrote the book on Star Trek cooking.

I think I’ve decided to pair a recipe with each post I do from this cookbook of joy.


Neelix is your friend too.

The best part of the book may be the drinks from Quark’s, but what I enjoy reading the most is the descriptions of how meals were prepared on set. Knowing a little about TV productions and how filming works, this was most interesting when paired with conversations with the family who work in the business.

For this post – I’d recommend making Madelines – zesty orange biscuits that go well with tea, jam and all the Beverly Crusher you ever wanted.

You can find the recipe on my Pinterest account. (As of the moment of this post, I have not put it up, but keep clicking, it’ll be there eventually.)

People on set need to eat too, actors and workers alike. Star Trek’s sets must have been a phenomenal place to work, just for the food.

In the Beginning

The first memories I have of Star Trek are watching the original series at my Grandma and Grandpa’s house on their cabinet TV.

It looked something like this. (Image from wiki commons.)

When I got hooked on Star Trek is a different story. That happened with The Next Generation, and I fell madly love with the series.

It could be argued that I use Star Trek as a coping mechanism. I would argue that while that may be true, and there is some coping involved. My main purpose in putting it on in an infinite loop is to quiet everything else and provide as little distraction as possible.

  • If Star Trek is playing, I don’t hear the creaks in the house and other random noises.
  • My mind doesn’t wander, except to quote dialogue shortly before it occurs.
  • I don’t hear the music in my head because the soundtracks for all Star Trek are music enough. Not constantly composing in one’s head is desirable, believe me.

So yes, it’s coping on some level, and limiting distractions on the other.

As such, a review of many #uncommonbodies tales of sci-fi and pleasure will follow with a suggestion of what cookery from the stars you should eat with your uncommon body.

In the Middle

My brain hasn’t had a lot of time to sit and concentrate on long reads. My life is far to hectic to enjoy things. I would love to change all this, but until civilization changes and/or the economy crashes and money becomes obsolete, there is no end in sight.

So, I’ve switched to reading short stories.

I miss novels.

Infinite Winter Participant Blue Snow Badge

So I picked the grandest novel of them all. . .

I still want to review the rest of Uncommon Bodies and Trigger Warning.

Over the next 3 months, you’ll be partial to rambling piece by piece thoughts and reviews of all 3. I’m hoping this will keep me on track and accountable to both my reading groups and my other work.

More #UncommonBodies

Ruby is not a sci-fi short story, it is a freak-show story. I talked a bit about it the post: Reading, Reviewing and Ranting about Uncommon Bodies. I think it deserves more, and it sets up talking about the sci-fi/fantasy shorts well.

Ruby refers to her issue as a “deformity”. She was institutionalized in 1916 for persuading her caregivers to meet untimely deaths.

Ruby’s tale is dark, morbid, philosophical and twisted.

I like Ruby more than I want to admit.

There’s a passage about the freak-show crew not feeling sorry for themselves despite being different and ‘not normal’. It made me laugh because it was clearly a thin veneer of bullshit.

A well written, thin veneer.

Dreams of being accepted are hardly uncommon to this anthology. Dreams of a better world and humanity giving a shit are also frequent, for demons, cyborgs, and wolves alike.

Moving Towards the Stars

I chose to take part in a group read of Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace because, well probably mostly because I hate myself enough to carry around 1000+ page book for more than 3 months. The reality these days is, I only have time to read on lunch hours. So I’m reading three things, Infinite Jest, the rest of Uncommon Bodies and Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman all at the same time. The last two are anthology collections of short stories. My theory is these two will give me needed reading ‘breaks’ from the long narrative that is Infinite Jest.

Fantasy often bridges the world between fiction and science-fiction. Magic realism, intense world construction, and epic fantasy novels intrigue me.

UnTamed by Laxmi Hariharan, who has a very interesting biography at the end of the story, was an interesting twist on werewolves and a post-apocalyptic future. If you don’t like starting at the beginning of a short story anthology – I’d recommend starting with this one.

To Infinity and Beyond

The first 75 pages of Infinite Jest (actually page 63 is the end of the first section, but add the forward and the foot notes and you’re close to 75 pages) are a set up.

Did I read the forward?

Yes. I also laughed more than once.

The beginning of this novel, sitting in an academic interview always throws me back to first going to university and my first juried piano performance. the title of the first chapter “Year of the Glad” makes me loathe my innocent 18 year-old self. The passages describing being trained to sit, smile and nod are reminiscent of performance training during my 4 year degree, and not something I care to think about any more.

Turns out performance training is a great skill to have if you give lots of speaking presentations too. All the toil and attempts to get over stage fright turned out to be useful somehow. Thanks for almost breaking me professors? I guess. . .

As of this moment, I’m on page 45, and have to finish reading to page 63 by the end of the night.

So goodbye. . . for now,


Infinite Choices #UncommonBodies and #InfiniteJest

How did I wind up here?

aka: the infinitely long multi-post review of #UncommonBodies and #InfiniteJest

How did I wind up here? Again?

I”m writing on the fly because it a) finally came together like String Theory and b) I’m still reading the same books I was two weeks ago, and it makes me angry.

Angry makes me write.

Angry makes me read – because I usually decide halfway through writing that the vitriol I’m thinking shouldn’t grace anywhere public. At least until I’ve cooled off and had a chance to edit.

Read: Take out the saracsm.

Then you make bacon, and fry beat leaf buns in it.

Your brain is magically recharged by the bacon, and you figure out a way to solve at least one major obstacle.

I have a friend. (I know, big surprise.)
Her name is Donna Lowe. We’re both very nerdy, read everything he ever wrote more than once, David Foster Wallac-ites.

I first read Infinite Jest in 2003 while I was still a music undergrad at Brandon University. It was my final year, and I was contemplating the rest of my life. Clearly reading Infinite Jest was a good book to read then right?

Maybe it was, and maybe it wasn’t. I’m reasonably certain that book wasn’t the reason I got divorced, or fired from a job that year, but I’ll never know for sure.

Unless, of course, reading it this time, ends up with the same results. . .

 I’m not sure how I got here, and when I mentioned to my partner that I would be reading Infinite Jest, they said “Really, I’m glad I’m not you, the last time I tried, the monotony nearly killed me. It nearly made my eyes bleed.”

There’s no denying that reading a book of this scope is daunting, but the sheer fact that it’s daunting is part of the inspiration to read it.

A big part of what drew me to re-read Infinite Jest this year was a desire to feel like writing again. For months, my right brain has been in the space to create, write and spin fiction, but my left-brain has had to focus on technical writing, strategic planning, and a very different, soul-draining kind of work that leaves little room for creativity at the end of the day.

Phoenixes, origin myths, and lost lovers tales fill my head, but my fingers won’t type the words in my head. At least, not always, and when they cooperate, the words that come out are twisted, disjoined, and read very much like someone who speaks in parenthesis.

The scary thing is, my head sounds an awful lot like David Foster Wallace. The last time I was in that head space, I read A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. It helped, I wrote a full length script after that, and finally wrote some experimental music.

If I have to spend another Infinite Winter in the middle of North America, on the edge of the northern jet stream again, I’ll need something morbid to get me through it.

Or at least something more depressing, and droning than a Manitoba winter where the temperature is more often than note below -20 Celsius, and the wind above 40 miles per hour.

The infinity of winter in Manitoba is a cruel, ironic joke, one that needs to be read with a book equally as long.

By the time the group read is over, there will likely still be snow in Manitoba. One can hope for an early spring, but the joke’s on you if you think there’s more than a snow ball’s chance in hell of a snow free Manitoba before May long weekend.

It really is an Infinite Jest of Winter here. Complete with weird and whacky weather going from super freezing one day to rain the next.

Look for online reviews of the rest of Uncommon Bodies AND Infinite Jest beginning tomorrow!

Reading, Reviewing and Ranting about Uncommon Bodies

Where did all the book bloggers go?


I have reviewed books on this blog since 2010 – which makes me feel a little weird. Has it really been that long? There is a review in this post too, you just have to read or scroll through the rant first.

I’m relatively fussy about what I read, and while working with Novel Publicity, don’t review anyone that is a client. (There are lots of good reasons to draw that line.) I still read my clients books, but can’t publicly review/post/gush about them. I’m better off advertising for them and helping them sell books.

I also spend a LOT of my work time recruiting reviewers, and I’ve noticed something.

Bloggers, Amazon Reviewers, Tumblrs, Good Reads reviewers alike; getting people to accept a book to review is not hard. People are genuinely interested, and often excited to receive a new read. Authors it seems, are better at judging whether they have time to read and review, though – and as a result – choose fewer books to review. They KNOW if they want to write their own stuff, they can’t over commit.

Seeing those reviews actualized? Well it’s never 100%, and things happen in life, and I understand that. If anyone has had the same kind of year as I have, I wouldn’t expect commitments to be followed through either.  It still makes my job really difficult at times being put between clients and the public.

  • Yes, they wanted your book, and yes it’s shitty that they didn’t follow through
  • No, it’s nothing you did wrong, and your book isn’t bad either
  • Yes, it sucks, and I haven’t really got a solid answer for how to fix it, but I really wish I did

I’ve also seen a number of bloggers who have been at it for years step back, have health problems, start writing careers of their own, and/or  get full-time jobs of their own. I know what this life is like. I have 3 jobs of my own, and precious little time for anything else, including reading.

If you check out my dismal Good Reads goal failure for this year, you’ll see that loud and clear.

Whatever the reason, though, social media is sputtering no matter what platform you’re on, and interaction is on a low. Either people aren’t as social online for some reason, or they’re offline more. Neither of those is a bad thing necessarily, but it does mean a constant search for new reviewers and bloggers, which is pretty exhausting at times. Advertising books often hinges on how many reviews a book has, and how positive they are.

For the record, the star system sucks, and I hate having to star reviews at all. I’d rather just give honest feedback and have some algorithm compare the positive words in all reviews of a book and spit out a random rating. 

My pile of waiting to read indie author books is growing. If they weren’t mostly ebooks, I’d be buried under them. It’s not that I don’t want to read them, and I’ll review them all eventually, but work (all 3 of them) interfere, and mostly I end up reading comparable stories in the same genre as clients. So you might see HOARDS of erotica with 1 star on my Good Reads profile and think – why the hell isn’t she reviewing MY book!? That’s why, it’s work, not pleasure.

I’m just as guilty as any book reviewer/blogger of being very excited by new titles, especially from authors I’ve loved before. I tend to get excited and say yes first, then think about it later. Then realize that the last thing I should have done was say yes.

A while ago, I had trouble putting up a review by the date I promised for an author. They kept reminding me (not hounding, just reminding) and it actually worked. I finally got it done. I felt better, and I quit beating myself up about that book at least.

Moving Forward

I could get stuck in a rut, and be negative or even pessimistic about the state of the book economy, but I’m not. The fact is, there are tons of great reads out there, and many of them are Indie authors.

Traditionally published authors have also had a great year, and some of my favorites like Neil Stephenson, Neil Gaiman and William Gibson came out with what I hope will be great reads and awesome colouring.

I’m finally looking forward to reading Trigger Warning and re-reading Infinite Jest as part of Infinite Winter this year.

I found this year that I had little time for full-length novels. The Peripheral and Infinite Jest may be the only two I get to read this year (that aren’t work related), but hopefully not.

When I had a chance, I read short story anthologies. For one thing, they hold my attention in short bursts, and often that’s all the time I have. For another, when done well, the compilations read like collections rather than random bits. I’ve only read a piece of the introduction to Trigger Warning, but it’s promising, hilarious and dark. We will see what I think when I’m done.

I also tended to read a lot more online and have spent a ton of time on Medium.

Open tabs in my browser now:

For work inspiration: https://medium.com/@jacquelinedupi/this-happened-when-i-took-2-homeless-teens-to-dinner-8159facbc529#.xiapbnd2f

To inspire me: https://medium.com/life-learning/if-you-re-too-busy-for-these-5-things-your-life-is-more-off-course-than-you-think-728662a1b09f#.17jjekw7m

On social media: https://medium.com/the-coffeelicious/to-medium-writers-not-this-exit-8b7ecc4e5a1c#.2h7da9ug8

Success Habits (because I feel like I need them): https://medium.com/keep-learning-keep-growing/the-success-habit-i-wish-i-knew-18-years-ago-8a6e35b8149f#.9vfz5qebo

More work inspiration: https://medium.com/@JMHHACKER/the-secret-weapon-10-marketing-experts-use-to-improve-their-conversion-rate-948b36aaa165#.mvhm3fqe0

Infinite Winter (because the morbidity that is me can’t wait to start reading this monstrosity again): http://infinitewinter.org/

The one short story collection that I loved reading this year was Uncommon Bodies. One of my bosses, P K Tyler has a story in it.

A Review (finally)

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher, and the ARC had editing errors, however, the published version does not. This is one book I’d like to own a paperback of, if for no other reason than the amazing and unique cover.

I read this book over the last few months, on plains, trains, in automobiles, between games and sitting on my recently purchased (for super cheap, cuz we’re house poor!) chaise lounge. Reading on a chaise lounge is about the best thing that’s happened recently. It’s super comfy.

The best part about this anthology was the break of poetry smack in the middle. A shout-out to Deanne Charlton on her epic poetry.

Other great things about this anthology

  • Each story includes a summary
  • There’s something for everyone, sci-fi, fantasy, historical fiction, poetry
  • The cover is amazing

I’ve read on more than one blog, “You can’t review poetry.”


Brenga’s Body: This poem was best read out loud to get the feel for the rhythm and punctuation. The imagery is visceral and raw, but my favorite of the three poems was Eternity in a One-night Stand. My favorite phrase was this:

The scratches bloomed, tiny protoplasmic peonies in all her private places.

Is it a one night stand? Or something on more of a cosmic scale. Great poetry blurs settings and allows for multiple interpretations. Charlton did this in all three poems in this collection. I’d totally buy a book of their poetry if it existed.

Other highlights of this collection (for me).

Undead Cyborg Girl by Kim Wells – this was so well written, and I loved the ending. I read this one on a plane, and was so angry at the doctor by the end I wanted to throw my tablet through the plane window.

We is We by Michael Harris Cohen – this is the first story in the collection and starts it off with a bang. It’s eloquently written, uses language wonderfully, and toys with identity to the max. I wasn’t expecting the end right until the end and felt sad when it was over.

Ruby by Bob Williams – another 1930’s freakshow short. It’s a little longer than We is We and very different. I found myself reading it in a lilting southern accent and imagining a very different kind of American Horror Story.

I haven’t read past Ruby yet, but will review the latter half of the book at a later date. This is a great collection of shorts and one that I keep opening when I have a few spare moments.

I wish I had more spare moments. . .