Thursday, December 29, 2011


Well here it is before us, 2012.

I considered doing a resolution piece, but thought better of it. I’m not a fan of the term; it always comes with the same two-faced defeatist connotation, as if to say, “My resolution this year is to (Insert Lame Idea Here), but you know what that means, so if it doesn’t happen then (wink-wink), oh well.”

I prefer the terms “objectives” or “goals” more. At least with them there is, philosophically speaking, a deeper sense of committal. Besides, my goals for 2012 are pretty mundane, anyway, and aren’t very much different than 2011’s, since I still didn’t do very well towards achieving them no matter what way I choose to describe them. But (wink-wink), oh well. Besides, I just don’t feel like it.

So then I thought, what did I learn this year? Therefore, my minions, that is the subject of this post.

I learned that…

…being unemployed really sucks.
Yep, it does, and the Tucson job market didn’t help that much either, especially when it comes writing jobs. There’s a reason why some people have come to call the Ol’ Pueblo, “The next Detroit.” Sobering, but true.

…being your own boss is awesome!
Even if it doesn’t work out in the end, I recommend the experience to everyone. Yes it didn’t work out in the end, but I think in this case it was more along the lines of the journey being more important than the destination. Still, between the unemployment-caused depression and the elation of when I had freelance work to do, things were a bit of an emotional rollercoaster for me. Almost bipolar, even. In the end, though, I don’t regret it at all.

…while getting fired is terrible, the ultimate revenge comes when you are re-hired, especially if the new job is a thousand times better than the old.
This goes double when you know the person who fired you is still there and just as miserable as you were. Of course, it would have been icing on the cake if any of those labor lawyers had called me back, too. Just sayin’. I don’t think I’ll ever get use to wearing a tie, though. It goes against my nature.

…JRR Tolkien didn’t create his fictional languages to fit into his stories. He wrote his stories to put his (already created) fictional languages in proper context.
ISN’T THAT ASWESOME?! There’s a reason why his languages sound and feel so real as well as why so many other fantasy writers’ fake languages sound so, well, fake. Tolkien’s great passion was linguistics, and it showed in his work. Everyone else is just trying to rip him off, and poorly at that. One of my own writing rules, especially when it comes to fantasy, is to NEVER fall into the hole that so many have done before and try to create a fictional language. I’d just as soon learn Klingon. jIH 'oH Maztor toy'wI''a' Daq jIH jIH Qaw' lIj qa'!

…there’s no shame in asking for help.
This is one of those lessons I’ve learned repeatedly over the course of my life, but for some reason it has never stuck for long. I can be pretty stubborn at times, even bullheaded I’m told, and sometimes I need a kick in the ass. Maybe it’ll stick this time.

…I’ve put off my fiction work far too long.
I’m 43 now, and I’m nowhere near where I wanted to be with my fiction career by this time. Hell, I’m nowhere near where I wanted to be at 33, for that matter! This includes both reading and writing, I’ve let both slide off to next to nothing. That is unacceptable.

…a burqa is a perfectly acceptable way for a teenage girl to dress, especially if she dresses in the alternative just to piss me off.
Don’t get me wrong. I consider the treatment of women in the Middle East to be just awful. Still, while I don’t condone it I have come to understand why women in ancient Rome were married off at 13!

…Hemingway sucks.
Granted, I’ve known and said this for a long time. It just bears repeating. As many times as possible.

…the best office I ever had was the library in Pima Community College’s Northwest Campus.
Having the kids at home during the summer, and all the yelling, arguing and fighting that goes with it, was not condusive to a proper creative environment. The library gave me great views, a small but thorough collection of reference material and a cafeteria downstairs. And it was close to the house. The staff gets a little pissy about food and drink, though.

…dealing with unemployment and food stamps is almost more trouble than it’s worth.
It edges ahead by just a nose. Do you think it’s deliberately set up like that?

…losing weight is harder than it seems.
I love food and have never had a bad body image. Together with the fact that I was self-medicating my depression by eating, they don’t exactly inspire one to drop the pounds. Oh, the irony! But really, it’s my metabolism. Yeah, that’s it.

…our elected officials just can’t seem to pull it off.
I’ve written about this before. Instead of getting better they only seem to get worse. No wonder their approval ratings are all in the tank! Of course, that didn’t stop Tucsonans from re-electing that ship of fools on the City Council. Maybe we do have the government we deserve.

…pro baseball is dead in Tucson.
I had hoped, when the Toros came back, things would turn around. Guess not. I wonder if the city will be as considerate (meaning, not!) with the Tucson Padres. Hell, does anyone know if they’ll even be here for the 2012 season?! And I won’t even start on Spring Training!

…our culture should take the tradition of the siesta with greater seriousness.
I’m willing to bet that people would be a lot less uptight and consumed with work, while at the same time more productive if they just took an afternoon nap.

…not being able to go out and have fun, even once in awhile, isn’t all that great.
Some people think I’m a hermit. I’m not. I’m broke. There’s a difference. It speaks to intent.

That’s all I can think of for now. I’m sure there’s more, so maybe I’ll write a follow up. Or not. Kinda depends on how I’m feeling at that moment.

(Editor's note: Like what you read? No? Well, read something else on the blog. I'll wait ... Did you like that? Great! Tell your friends! Hell, tell your enemies! Tell your family, business acquaintances, your neighbors and that guy who talks to himself at the bus stop. Especially him. Let's see what we can do to make this the biggest blog EEVVVVVVAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRR!)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


(Warning: Total geek-out and spoilers ahead. Read at your own risk.)

Back in 2006, I wrote a piece for, a special part of fantasy media officionado David Haber’s family of Web sites. As you might have guessed, the site dealt mainly with the backlash caused when JK Rowling killed off that most-beloved character Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Unlike a lot of people across the Internet, though, I didn’t waste my time hemming and hawing about how Rowling would bring him back to life. Rather, I talked about the malleability of death in myth and fantasy. Turns out I was pretty close to how Rowling planned it, after a fashion.

Anyway, as a great admirer of the books, that next year I said my final goodbyes like so many others when in July 2007 I read the last printed installment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I rather liked the flash-forward in the epilogue. It left me with a sense of open-ended finality I found very satisfying. I have this image of Harry, grown up and walking his beat as an auror, keeping the streets safe, perhaps using similar methods as another hard-assed cop named Harry. Maybe he’s calling some dark wizard troll shit (and, as you know, three things happen to troll shit), or regaling some old goblin with a tale about a certain wood nymph who specialized in helping old goblins grow mellow and more worldly. (Author’s note: If Rowling had Harry keep the Elder Wand, I probably could come up with more analogies along these lines. Just sayin’. “This is the Elder Wand, the most powerful wand in the world…”)

Still, I wasn’t quite done with the Harry Potter universe. After all, there were the movies. So yes, I fell into that rabbit hole as well and watched each as they came out to the best of my ability. Well, this past weekend I rented a copy of The Deathly Hallows: Part Two (No, I didn’t watch it in the theaters. Sue me.). Mind you, I view the splitting of a book-based movie into two segments a fairly lame and underhanded marketing gimmick meant to squeeze as much money out of a gullable public as possible. In the case of Deathly Hallows, though, I will grudgingly concede to its necessity. The book is just too damn long. Trying to compact it into one film would have had the same result as David Lynch’s Dune and Ralph Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings cliffnotesian nightmares.

I have to hand it to the cast and crew. Like the rest of movie series it remained remarkably true to the original book’s story line, much more than many other film adaptations. Still, of all the Harry Potter movies, Part Two seemed to deviate the most. Many of the scenes held true, but there still was a good measure of changes, shifting around and cutting out. On the whole, though, I guess I can forgive that.

On the whole, they made a good adaptation, but I didn’t have the kind of sense of sad finality I had when I finished reading the series, maybe because I’d already said my goodbyes. So, as I wait for the specfic media industry to fill the void left by the series’ conclusion in a manner that has nothing to do with hip, teenage vampires; eye-candy werewolves; zombies; warrior princesses; San Franciscan sister-witches; or stories that should start with, “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…,” I’ll just keep looking for that new reading fix. I understand Rowling has launched a kind of online continuation of the series, no new stories but little tidbits and factoids about the Harry Potter universe that never made it to the books. I think I’ll check that out, sooner or later.

(Editor's note: Like what you read? No? Well, read something else on the blog. I'll wait ... Did you like that? Great! Tell your friends! Hell, tell your enemies! Tell your family, business acquaintances, your neighbors and that guy who talks to himself at the bus stop. Especially him. Let's see what we can do to make this the biggest blog EEVVVVVVAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRR!)

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Hey there all.

Thanks to everyone who helped me relaunch The Maztorphyl last month. And for those of you who are first-time visitors, welcome!

To be honest, I never really took it down. It’s always been here. When I put the blog on hiatus I had every intension of returning to it; I just didn’t think it would take so long! Well, as you might have guessed from my last post, things have been a little rough lately, but on the whole my life is moving more and more in a straight path, so I thought it would be a good time to bring it back.

But, like a lot of things like this, I thought a few changes to the site would be in order. I still liked the overall look, so that wasn’t going to change, but maybe, I thought, I could add a few things. I went through the very long list of gadgets that had on file, and out of many many apps I came to realize most of them sucked. Still, a few caught me eye. Here they are:

Unlike most people, I came to YouTube a little late in life. Oh well, no harm no foul. As those of you who saw my last post, I profiled the Almighty Led Zeppelin. I plan on changing it with every post, the only standard requirement being that it will be music-based. As you can see this time I’ve linked videos of professional operatic tenor Antonio Nagore. The last name similarity is no coincidence. In the name of full disclosure, he’s my brother, though I’m MUCH better looking. Anyway, he’s very good, so enjoy!

Brought to you by Google’s Adsense pay-per-click system. I know what some of you are thinking, “Hey Dave, wassup? What about that whole writing-for-writing’s-sake you promised when you first launched it?! You’re a sellout, man!” First off, if you thought that last part, you can blow me. Second, the site’s initial mandate still stands. I still plan on writing whatever moves me with all the masturbatory self indulgence I can muster, so there. I just don’t see why I can’t make a few bucks while I’m doing it.

That’s the theory, anyway. So far I haven’t made squat. Then again, I just relaunched the vehicle, so I need to rebuild my audience. On the other hand, Adsense does come with a fair number of restrictions to which I must adhere to ensure any chance of making anything. For example, I myself can’t click on the ads. At all. Period. As I read the rules I can’t even if something catches my eye. I also can’t encourage people to click on the ads. There are other rules but these are the main ones. I wanted to put a text box next to them saying something like, “Like what I wrote? Awesome! Now tell Google to pay my by clicking on one of these ads!” But no, that’s not an option.

In theory there’s also a way to tell Google what kinds of ads appear, but so far I haven’t been able to figure that out. I’d hate to open the blog one day and see an ad for the latest Ann Coulter book or Al Franken's re-election campaign! Ugh! I’ll figure it out sooner or later.

On the other hand, if you actually like what I've written enough to contribute to the cause out of your own pocket, there's a app for that! It's at the bottom of the page.

“Don’t Click This!”
Instead of going with a new app, I just modified this one, made it more streamlined. Like the YouTube, I’ll change this periodically, though I won’t know what I’m doing until I actually do it.

Favorites List
I tried to avoid this kind of thing. Although I had one on the original Maztorphyl way back when, I later started seeing such things as somewhat provincial. Ya know, though? I figured, what the hell. This is only the start of the list. If you'd like to have your Web site appear in my blog, e-mail the link to me and, after careful consideration from the editorial board, it just might make it on the list.

What Do You Think?
So there it is. I’ll likely continue evolving the blog as I go along. I might even chage the look if it moves me. Anyway, this is the part where I ask for input from you. Are there any apps you’d like to see, any story ideas you’d like my thoughts on? Again, if you want, send me your questions and I’ll try to answer them, though you may not like what you read….

(Editor's note: Like what you read? No? Well, read something else on the blog. I'll wait ... Did you like that? Great! Tell your friends! Hell, tell your enemies! Tell your family, business acquaintances, your neighbors and that guy who talks to himself at the bus stop. Especially him. Let's see what we can do to make this the biggest blog EEVVVVVVAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRR!)

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Author’s note: I first wrote this back in January.

I had just been let go from my last job, and I was feeling all the anger, resentment and low self esteem one would expect from such a predicament. I had no lifeline. None. And I was staring at a whole lot of bills in the face on top of it.

I thought of posting it back then, but thought better of it, mainly because at the time I was searching for representation for a wrongful termination suit. Later, though, I stopped, and again that decision was made for me in the form of zero call-backs from all the labor lawyers I tried to get ahold of.

So there I was. No job. No prospects. It didn’t take long before I faced the decision of sitting at home, doing nothing but wallowing in my self-pity, or taking charge of the situation. I decided to take charge by going into business for myself as a full-time freelance writer. Yet soon I was cruelly reminded of a truism to that kind of work: it is very sensitive to the state of the economy. Very sensitive. After what I guess were hundreds of queries and a whole lot of maybes I landed just one good client, and that was almost by blind luck. The person in the company to which I first queried no longer worked there, but the local and home office bigwigs turned out to be very receptive, and in the mean time we’ve developed a very good professional relationship.

As for the rest, well, I certainly bear no ill will. You can’t get blood from a stone, so to speak, and if the need isn’t there, well, it just isn’t, a common thread in this ailing economy. Still, my client list didn’t end up as full as I hoped. So I looked for full-time work and, after eight frustrating months, I finally landed one. I’m working on leaving my old life behind, so to speak, at least emotionally. I’m hoping by posting this I’ll achieve some sort of catharsis to score that end.

In freelance writing, the prevailing thinking in the vast majority of business models can be encapsulated in the trite but seemingly axiomatic aphorism of, “Don’t quit your day job.”

I’ve been to symposiums, heard panels and read many books on the subject, and they all reflect this line of thinking. It’s fairly easy to come to, really. From personal experience, one of the most acute downsides to working in a freelance setting is simply that, even when one attains that ubiquitously sought-after but rarely reached goal of being “established,” the income derived from such a line of work is far from being high or assured enough to pay the bills or put food on the table.

John Gardner, in his narcissistic treatise about the writing life, On Becoming a Novelist, even goes so far as to suggest the kinds of jobs hopeful writers should acquire to maximize their creative potential (with his, of course, being the best of the brood).

The only dissenting voice in the raucous mob of advice givers was Ray Bradbury, the elder statesman of American literature and speculative fiction in particular. His approach, perhaps inspired Cortes when he burned his own ships upon arriving to the New World, was (paraphrased) to go ahead and take the leap off that foreboding cliff of creativity, and make your parachute on the way down.

But what if, instead of jumping, you were pushed?

I admit that I am not as brave as Mr. Bradbury. I myself, saw the wisdom of keeping a day job while writing, though took a somewhat different path than Mr. Gardner. I chose healthcare. Depending upon my mood, I called it my day job, my fall-back job, my black hole or my mafia job (a la, “Every time I think I’m out, I get sucked back in!”).

Though I did find work writing full time for a local nonprofit for awhile, the horribly high cost of daycare (our kids were all very young at the time) and the imposition of time a job with “banker’s hours” had on my own writing helped me realize that I was working harder when I should have been working smarter. So, I returned to healthcare full time, working three 12-hour shifts on the weekends and leaving Monday through Thursday open so I could take care of the kids.

This worked pretty well, for awhile. Caring for the kids took much more time than I anticipated, but we saved a lot of money and my writing time did increase a bit. After a couple of years, the arrangement of “tag team parenting” between my wife and I started to cause more trouble than it was worth. At around the same time, my day job responsibilities began to call on me more and more to be there during the weekdays. The kids were older and in school, so the oppressive costs of daycare would at least be less than what they were as well as not as much of a handful, so I acquiesced to the inevitable and switched my hours. A big, but perhaps unavoidable mistake.

Not long after, the economy went south and most of my clients dropped me as a cost cutting measure. Before then my income from writing, as above, wasn’t great, but it still was a good enough side job to want to keep it going. Still, no one wanted to bring me on, and the demands of home cut further into my writing, which had by then devolved into a glorified hobby.

To make matters worse, the situation at my day job began to deteriorate. I began to feel the first affects of burnout, and I wanted to return to full-time writing, so I started looking for work along those lines. Well, as days became weeks became months became years, I found and applied for job after job, but when you’re in a sellers market and every writing/editing/communications job that becomes open gets an average of 200 responses, it becomes very hard to stand out. That being said, I felt (and still do) that I had the tools and the talent, and I most definitely qualified for the jobs for which I applied, yet something out there was holding me back from moving back into that part of my professional life. I have an idea what, in fact I am almost sure, but I have no proof, so that is as much as I will say. On the advice of counsel, anyway.

Then, as you may have guessed already, I got fired. In December. About 10 days before Christmas, in fact.

Yay me.

So became stuck with a decision. Should I curl up on my bed in the dark and mutter to myself uncontrollably, should I go gently into that good night and let the stupidity of others take me down? Well, those of you who know me also know that I just won’t let that happen. As I’ve said before, I won’t give the pricks the satisfaction.

I saw a wonderful opportunity here, in fact. And so, I set to work almost at once to live the dream, so to speak. As a writer, I’ve always had three basic goals, one of them being that I could support myself and my family just doing my own writing. I’m not saying I;m shooting for a house in The Hampton's, or own my own yacht (though that would be nice). No. I’d want just enough to pay the bills, have a little fun money, and put some aside so that when I’m old and retired the biggest worry I would have would be replacing my worn fishing line.

Well, I won’t bore you with the administrative details of the writing life. Those of you with your own businesses I’m sure will identify with the busywork of accounting, approaching potential clients and everything else that one must do to get the ball rolling. Suffice it to say that, four new clients and a potential full-time job later, things are moving along pretty well. I like being my own boss, and the chance to build something that positively contributed to my own sense of self worth, something that was greatly lacking at my last job due to the ineptitude of certain individuals higher up on the chain of command than myself.

Still, like with any business things move pretty slow in the beginning, and the cash flow isn’t optimal, at least yet. So, I have submitting to finding another day job in addition to the one I mentioned above. The idea of my family starving or being foreclose upon doesn’t sit well with me, for some reason. So I know I’ll need something until the cash does flow. Like Life it is a work in progress, and even though the path is dark in the end I can at least say that I took it, that I threw my pack on my back, laced up my slick black Cadillacs and started marching, rather than just stand there, too scared to step on a landmine. At least I can have the satisfaction in knowing that.