A Lazy October Update

As Summer weather malingers in the dusty woodlands of central California, I look back at an extraordinarily eventful year (even by my oft-eccentric standards) before the Holiday Onslaught.
Oh, but the level of activity promises to accelerate even further in 2019, with every possible effort and device—literary and otherwise—calibrated to attain maximum overdrive at the international Frankfurt Book Expo in 2020, where I will be launching the two most important works of my career. It will be a monumental trek between now and then, but one which I am most devoted to undertake.
Until the Frankfurt “explosion,” I’ll remain fairly noisy on Twitter—@JonathanKieran—and will certainly pop-in from time to time on the other official sites with the odd Zanzibar cartoon or existential harangue, as is my wont. One might even countenance a metamorphosis or two as the weeks and months pass. It will be my pleasure to share anything significant. Otherwise, see you in Germany two years hence. ~J
P.S. Here’s an unabashed bragging-photo of one of my favorite writing/lunching/lolling spots atop a cliffside near Monastery Beach in Carmel, CA. Yes, it was taken today, after I had been complaining for weeks about the refusal of Summer weather to pull up stakes and drag its sweaty circus out of town. I wasn’t complaining after five minutes of reveling in this beloved aerie, however. Expect lofty work when all is said and done, given such evidently vibrant scope for imagination and sensory sustenance. Magic is afoot, in sunshine and in shadow. Amusez-vous bien.
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Jonathan Kieran is the author of the Rowan Blaize series of epic contemporary fantasy books (Brightbourne 2012), as well as the critically acclaimed (Midwestern Book Review, Manhattan Book Review) Confessions From The Comments Section: The Secret Lives of Internet Commenters and Other Pop-Culture Zombies. His work has also been featured on The Daily Dot.com and in a plethora of other ‘zines, papers, and alt-weeklies. Click on the book covers above and to the right if you want to learn more about Jonathan’s titles and perhaps spend some of your hard-earned money on his multi-formatted gifts to the human race.

Jonathan is currently writing and illustrating a new masterpiece of epic dimensions. Drop-in once in awhile for updates. Mr. Kieran promises to provide them, but only once in awhile, because he doesn’t get paid to blog endlessly for free.

Just For Kicks: Zanzibar Circus 6.19.18

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Jonathan Kieran is the author of the Rowan Blaize series of epic contemporary fantasy books (Brightbourne 2012), as well as the critically acclaimed (Midwestern Book Review, Manhattan Book Review) Confessions From The Comments Section: The Secret Lives of Internet Commenters and Other Pop-Culture Zombies. His work has also been featured on The Daily Dot.com and in a plethora of other ‘zines, papers, and alt-weeklies. Click on the book covers above and to the right if you want to learn more about Jonathan’s titles and perhaps spend some of your hard-earned money on his multi-formatted gifts to the human race.

Jonathan is currently writing and illustrating a new masterpiece of epic dimensions. Drop-in once in awhile for updates. Mr. Kieran promises to provide them, but only once in awhile, because he doesn’t get paid to blog endlessly for free.

Oh, the Carnage and Lifelong Scarification of Temptations Unresisted! #Pastries

I could see the danger clearly the instant I opened the box …

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Without doubt, this nondescript cardboard package had been sent by an enemy of diabolical cunning and almost incomprehensible Evil! Oh, the tiny sticker on the outside of the heinous delivery read: “Lafayette French Bakery and Café in Carmel, California,” but I knew that anything containing objects this lethal, this astonishingly insidious, could only emanate from warped minds hell-bent upon the ruination of all that is good and redemptive in civilization. What to do? What to do?

How on earth could one unsuspecting man diffuse such potentially explosive and catastrophic devices of mass-destruction (for that is clearly what they were) without risking the exposure of my fellow countrymen (and women) to the deadly fallout of nougaty goodness, rich chocolate despair, and widespread lemon-curd radiation? In those grim moments I grappled with the existential ramifications and a quaking sense of my own, tenuous mortality. The clock on the wall ticked with accusation and foreboding. Time was of the essence! Others were going-about their affairs, blissfully unaware of the Tsunami of Ruin about to come crashing down upon their innocent heads!

A decision had to made! Taking the first volatile Instrument of Certain Doom in my hand …

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… I knew that there was only one way to rid the earth of such calamitous forces. I gave myself, so that others might continue and thrive, that good people across the globe might rise to greet each new day with the sheer exaltation that comes with being alive.

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Sacrifice is never easy, and the carnage is brutal to behold–often remembered only in grainy, indistinct footage that can never pretend to capture the magnitude of the bloodshed. The courageous among us, however, forge onward. We do it because we must.

We must.
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Jonathan Kieran is the author of the Rowan Blaize series of epic contemporary fantasy books (Brightbourne 2012), as well as the critically acclaimed (Midwestern Book Review, Manhattan Book Review) Confessions From The Comments Section: The Secret Lives of Internet Commenters and Other Pop-Culture Zombies. His work has also been featured on The Daily Dot.com and in a plethora of other ‘zines, papers, and alt-weeklies. Click on the book covers above and to the right if you want to learn more about Jonathan’s titles and perhaps spend some of your hard-earned money on his multi-formatted gifts to the human race.
Jonathan is currently writing and illustrating a new masterpiece of epic dimensions. Drop-in once in awhile for updates. Mr. Kieran promises to provide them, but only once in awhile, because he doesn’t get paid to blog endlessly for free. That would make him a Wattpadder or a Smashworder, not a writer.

Checking-Out to Check-In

It has been awhile since I’ve blogged anything newsy on the official site (including Zanzibar strips) and there are reasons for that which I would like to take a few moments to explain.

First, I have been steeped for the past six months in the preliminary planning and initial creation-phases of my next, as-yet-untitled book, slated for release in 2019 by Brightbourne. It’s going to be a massive piece of work—lavishly illustrated and certainly the most ambitious project I will ever tackle in my lifetime, and the creative energy required to “pull off” such a feat is all-consuming, as well as a trifle terrifying, albeit in a good way. Drawing all the existential components together to essentially braid the synthesis of focus, desire, and discipline needed to accomplish such work makes everything else pale in comparison, by necessity.

Second (and no less crucial than my first point), I am repelled utterly by the tsunami-sized wave of pointless, trivial, hackneyed, and infantile “writing” that has swept across our popular culture at every level. The majority of people simply have no business venturing beyond the composition of a grocery-list when it comes to literary efforts, much less adhering to even the most basic standards of publication. I will gladly wear the mantle of “elitist” when it comes to this issue, and shall stand firm for the genuine writer’s dedication to superior craftsmanship, a trade that can claim roots in long years of steady discipline and talent well-nurtured.

Trust me: a master carpenter is not going to tell you that your uneven, uninhabitable birdhouse is a work of fine craftsmanship that merits an equal place alongside his (or her) professional creations. Not everyone deserves a trophy.

At all events, in a dead market flooded chiefly with thousands of puerile soft-porn “novels” written (and self-published!) by bored, illiterate housewives, or thrillers cobbled together with the creative equivalent of wallpaper-glue by old men who watch too much television, American Literature is, without question, at its nadir.

Then again, so is the culture of which the above-mentioned sort of dreck is merely a pestilential symptom.

That cannot be helped—the pendulum will have to swing in the opposite direction, and swing hard, before all of this detritus is brushed into the oblivion from whence it came, and where it belongs.

The same goes for blogging and for regularly posting opinions and ditherings and blatherings in a cyberspace already deafened by the roaring and lowing and chattering of the masses.

I don’t know why seasoned, professional writers even bother to do it, especially if they’re not getting paid. Look what incessant blogging has done to Neil Gaiman’s output. My G-d.

Another point: Nothing is ever really free, but if something is given away recklessly for “free,” I guarantee you that, 99.99% of the time, it is not worth even the most cursory glance.

Everything I shall have to say about the world, the cosmos, and its workings shall henceforth be found strictly within my books, and one shall have to pay for them. It’s a publisher’s job to entice potential audiences to do just that, at their cost, not mine.

Other than that, I’ll provide general-info updates when necessary and perhaps the occasional cartoon when fancy strikes.

Amid all of this, the greatest irony remains: the conglomeration of social media crap has got to be maintained to some degree by anyone in the publishing industry. These Official Facebooks, Twitters, .coms, and Instagrams should ideally be business cards for the serious writer, no more no less.

And no one should ever get excited about a business card.

Rather, get excited about the work that “card” represents. And if you’re a serious, seasoned writer, thank your lucky stars that literacy-levels are still high in Europe.

Ta, for now.

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Jonathan Kieran is the author of the Rowan Blaize series of epic contemporary fantasy books (Brightbourne 2012), as well as the critically acclaimed (Midwestern Book Review, Manhattan Book Review) Confessions From The Comments Section: The Secret Lives of Internet Commenters and Other Pop-Culture Zombies. His work has also been featured on The Daily Dot.com and in a plethora of other ‘zines, papers, and alt-weeklies. Click on the book covers above and to the right if you want to learn more about Jonathan’s titles and perhaps spend some of your hard-earned money on his multi-formatted gifts to the human race.
Jonathan is currently writing and illustrating a new masterpiece of epic dimensions. Drop-in once in awhile for updates. Mr. Kieran promises to provide them, but only once in awhile, because he doesn’t get paid to blog endlessly for free. That would make him a Wattpadder or a Smashworder, not a writer.

Post-Christmas Narcissistic Food Porn

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Yes, I am hereby and at last engaging in that ”time-honored” FB tradition of displaying one’s private FOOD PREPARATIONS for the awestruck wonderment of those inhabiting cyberspace. Because we ALL KNOW how crucial it is that untold others see exactly what we are about to put into our mouths and proceed to masticate, thus launching the arduous and biologically complex process of human digestion.

Whull, at least my Foodie Narcissism comes with a recipe that you, too, can perhaps implement in your own future efforts to flood the internet with visual information about items your teeth are eager to gnaw while your tongue makes a series of accompanying, helpful movments and saliva-drenched gyrations.

Behold (above) the centerpiece of my Christmas Day Lunch, or Lupper. Or brunch. Or Bupper.

8 Lamb Loin Chops, Marinated Overnight.

You’ll need: 8 Lamb loin chops (no kidding)

Salt them with a reasonable amount of kosher or sea salt. (Not too much!)

For your marinade: mince 8 or 9 cloves of garlic; chop finely one fresh “branch” of rosemary—about 2 heaping tablespoons worth, when chopped; chop finely one cluster of green onions, the kind you buy in any supermarket; using about a one-inch wide slice of lemon peel, create some lemon zest, chopped in a fine julienne style; add about a quarter cup of chopped purple onion; slop a few passes of good extra virgin olive oil in a skillet and then combine all the ingredients of the above-described marinade into a skillet or big baking dish.

Rub all eight of the lamb loin chops in the mess, coating both sides LIBERALLY. Cover and place in the fridge overnight.

When ready the next day, preheat your oven to 400 degrees, but cook the lamb chops on high heat atop the stove FIRST, about 2 minutes each side. You want to give them a nice, quick sear.

Next, transfer the lamb chops into a DIFFERENT baking dish or oven-safe skillet, and place them in the preheated oven. Cook ‘em for about 10 minutes, or 15 if you like your lamb well done 😩.

Meanwhile, reserve the “drippings” from your stovetop sear (including all the marinated bits). Strain the liquid, etc. through a mesh strainer into a saucepan. Add about a cup of chopped mushrooms (morels or brown button mushrooms are great—don’t use toadstools or hallucinogenic varieties.)

Cook the strained liquid and mushrooms on med-high heat in the saucepan. Add a bit of vegetable stock if you feel you don’t have enough broth. As the mushrooms give off their goodness and the liquid begins to reduce, add a small handful or flour or cornstarch to create a roux. Stir like mad with a bamboo whisk or wooden spoon to turn the roux, keeping it smooth and silky.

When your lamb loin chops are finished in the oven, serve them up and top them with sprigs of rosemary and your lamb roux/gravy. Voila!

I served this on Christmas Day with mashed potatoes (save some gravy for them taters!), brussels sprouts, homemade dungeness crab cakes, and an earthy pinot noir. No one keeled over. At least not from the food.

Trust me, it’s Ten Commandment-breaking good. Just like I hope your Christmas and New Year shall be. (Staying on the straight & narrow, of course.)

Happy Happy Times, Friends … Another Year Beckons. Whatever shall we do with it?

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Jonathan Kieran is the author of the Rowan Blaize series of epic contemporary fantasy books (Brightbourne 2012), as well as the critically acclaimed (Midwestern Book Review, Manhattan Book Review) Confessions From The Comments Section: The Secret Lives of Internet Commenters and Other Pop-Culture Zombies. His work has also been featured on The Daily Dot.com and in a plethora of other ‘zines, papers, and alt-weeklies. Click on the book covers above and to the right if you want to learn more about Jonathan’s titles and perhaps spend some of your hard-earned money on his multi-formatted gifts to the human race.
Jonathan is currently writing and illustrating a new masterpiece of epic dimensions. Drop-in once in awhile for updates. Mr. Kieran promises to provide them, but only once in awhile, because he doesn’t get paid to blog endlessly and believes that any “writer” who gives-away a lot of stuff for free is a Wattpadder or a Smashworder, not a writer.

He-Man & She-Ra: Proudly Fostering Body Dysmorphia since 1983! by Jonathan Kieran

POP HAZMAT RETRO HALL OF FAME presents Wonderfully Warped Children’s Television!by JONATHAN KIERAN

TODAY’S DUBIOUS HONOREE: He-Man (1983-1985) and She-Ra (1985-1986)

GUILTY OF VEHICULAR FANSLAUGHTER: He-Man, She-Ra, Skeletor, Battle Cat, Teela and all the elves working Mattel’s Everlasting Assembly-line of Dysfunctional Dreams.

He-Man and She-Ra ... Padding the bank accounts of psychologists specializing in Body Dysmorphic Disorders since the 1980s!

He-Man and She-Ra … Padding the bank accounts of psychologists specializing in Body Dysmorphic Disorders since the 1980s!

RUDIMENTARY ANALYSIS: If you were a trendy child growing-up in the 1980s and early 1990s, there’s little chance you escaped the pop-culture gravitational pull of He-Man and She-Ra, who were basically two sword & sorcery action-figures with their own animated Saturday morning infomercials thinly disguised as kids’ TV shows. He-Man came first as you were spooning Cap’n Crunchies into your spellbound face and dripping sugar-saturated milk all over your jammies and onto Mother’s new JC Penney area-rug. But you could hardly look away when He-Man sauntered across the screen in all of his garish, stilted-animation glory. He-Man was essentially a warrior-type dragged from any garden-variety epic fantasy novel, stripped of every piece of clothing a warrior would need, except for a colorful jock-strap and boots, pumped with a regimen of steroids that’d make Lance Armstrong look like a dilettante and armed (of course) with a magic sword.

Or maybe the magic sword was the talisman of She-Ra, He-Man’s twin sister, who got her own spin-off show/infomercial so the little girls and the gays would have something to razzle their dazzle while masticating Cocoa Puffs and Pop Tarts from 9AM til Noon on weekends. She-Ra was as overblown as He-Man, for these were the days when slightly doughy or out-of-shape heroes (like TV’s Batman and Robin or the skinflint “Shaggy” from Scooby-Doo) just couldn’t cut the cartoon mustard any more, so kids were being presented with progressively exaggerated images of the human body and schooled in the importance of having Big-Gulp secondary sex characteristics when the time came to transform into one’s crime-fighting alter ego. Thus, She-Ra was stacked like a particularly earnest Hooters waitress working the Halloween shift in a costume she spent maybe ten minutes putting together out of a tablecloth and some ornamental napkin holders from the Pic-N-Save. Her boobs were honeydew-perfect and seemingly attached to her chin, which looked like the surgically sculpted masterpiece of some sought-after Beverly Hills body butcher. Those Power Ta-Tas did not flinch an inch when She-Ra was conquering the forces of evil! In fact, it was probably her chi-chis that poked Skeletor’s eyes out … though the series never addressed that likelihood, to my knowledge.

Skeletor ... Blinded by the Mighty Meemies of She-Ra or just a rip-off of Ghost Rider in Dungeons & Dragons drag?

Skeletor … Blinded by the Mighty Meemies of She-Ra or just a rip-off of Ghost Rider in Dungeons & Dragons drag?

She-Ra’s gargantuan hairdo was a thing of splendor in and of itself — daunting enough to make all 43 of the weaves and assorted clip-on wigs atop Beyoncé’s head writhe like Medusa-snakes in anger and envy. He-Man actually had even bigger and more ridiculous breasts than She-Ra. His torso looked like an airbrushed Smithfield ham balanced atop the legs of a Clydesdale draught-horse, with a baby watermelon stuffed in his red bikini.

For about fifteen minutes during the ’80s, we all loved these shows and couldn’t get enough of the ADHD-inducing drama, much less of the action figure tie-ins and “accessories sold separately.” Then we grew up, as well-adjusted children ought to do, and we moved on — thoroughly prepared for a culture of pervasive internet porn, rampant body dysmorphic disorders, obsessive workout regimens, bodacious breast augmentations, fake hair, fake names, fake intelligence, fake values, indiscriminate displays of physical violence and a vast gallery of narcissistic smartphone “selfies” taken in front of bathroom mirrors by the millions. It’s a lot easier to work for a set of ripped abs or buy a smokin’ hot rack than to fight the Forces of Darkness, these days. Fighting evil with magic swords? Nah, we didn’t bring that part of the show into the new millennium. We just brought the hotness and the Evil.

Thank you, Filmation!

DEFINITIVE DIALOGUE: Here’s 10 indispensable He-Man quotes steeped in the kind of wisdom that explains exactly why your kids turned out the way they did.

EXPERIENCE THE MAGIC: The classic He-Man Intro. Note how the “pre-transformed” Adam (Prince of Eternia) appears to be voiced by a 59-year-old Presbyterian radio-announcer from Topanga with a deviated septum.

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Jonathan Kieran is the author of the Rowan Blaize series of epic contemporary fantasy books (Brightbourne 2012), as well as the critically acclaimed (Midwestern Book Review, Manhattan Book Review) Confessions From The Comments Section: The Secret Lives of Internet Commenters and Other Pop-Culture Zombies. His work has also been featured on The Daily Dot.com and in a plethora of other ‘zines, papers, and alt-weeklies. Click on the book covers above and to the right if you want to learn more about Jonathan’s titles and perhaps spend some of your hard-earned money on his multi-formatted gifts to the human race.
Jonathan is currently writing and illustrating a new masterpiece of epic dimensions. Drop-in once in awhile for updates. Mr. Kieran promises to provide them, but only once in awhile, because he doesn’t get paid to blog endlessly and believes that any “writer” who gives-away a lot of stuff for free is a Wattpadder or a Smashworder.

 

Grab The Good Moments and Never Let ‘Em Go, Fellow Homo Sapiens

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Perch no longer upon painful pins and needles, Ye friends, readers, and oh-so-ardent admirers strewn across the whirling globe. Verily I say unto thee, an “update” has been born amid the creaking, ramshackle windmills of my brain.
That being said, don’t get too excited, as this update is unlikely to rock your world or even rustle a few leaves upon the Autumnal Tree of Your Abiding Devotion.
Like most of you, I am preparing for the HOLIDAY SEASON (though, “bracing myself for it” might be a more apt description.)
I realize that I am not alone in regarding this particular time of year with a healthy dose of ambivalence, a soupçon of nostalgia, and equal parts schadenfreude and trepidation.
Don’t get me wrong.
You’d have to search field and fountain, moor and mountain, following all sorts of yonder stars to find a guy more existentially thankful, just for the basics. I do not exaggerate.
It’s a gift simply to be alive on this orb. A blessing. A marvel. A stroke of cosmic good fortune … whatever you wish to call it.
For example, I so appreciate the “little things” that I experience a physical, emotional, and spiritual reaction just to put on my running shoes and go for a jog through the woodlands adjacent to my seaside domicile. No ear buds. No distracting music required.
Just the sound of my breath, the rhythm of my footfalls, and all kinds of forest noises on either side: birds fluttering in the briars; ground squirrels scampering for cover; maybe a rattlesnake slithering away across dry leaves. I’m sure I’ve even ”heard” more than one mountain lion or bobcat watching me from the shadows of a rocky hillside.
Thankful.
There’s a large pond sequestered amid the expanse of gnarled oaks, just off the main trail where I run and (believe it or not in typically arid California) it’s always full and glimmering beneath sunshine or cloudy skies.
I’m grateful to be able to stand for a few minutes and contemplate the ducks and other waterfowl. Watch the reeds swaying in the breeze at the outskirts of the marshy idyll. I always end-up feeling glad that, somehow, some way, the universe—in its billions of years of outwardly explosive projectile vomiting—found a way to eventually arrive at … me.
And You.
And billions of others who have lived and struggled and laughed and died on this infinitessimally impossible planet.
Amazing, when you ponder it a bit.
My existence, like that of anyone, will be but one-zillionth of a blip in cosmic terms of Time, but it doesn’t feel that way when we’re genuinely grounded in the Moment, does it?
And what we know about Time and Space and their deeper secrets of operation is hardly comprehensive. I don’t care what Stephen Hawking or Einstein say.
I don’t know about you, but if the right contemplative mood strikes, in the ideal environment, in one quiet moment—be it lakeside or staring at the ceiling come dawn—all sense of Time’s omnipotence (and its limitations) begins to vanish, and in its place I can feel as if I’ve been alive forever.
Or that I’ll never be in a position wherein I won’t feel alive and part of the great, galaxy-gripping Mystery … whatever that Mystery turns out to be.
Yeah, yeah: the other aspects of everyday life are not felt so primevally; nor are they drenched in the fairy-dust of nobility.
I’m even-tempered, but not always on the inside. Some days I can roll out of bed and just sink my teeth gladly into a big old slice of Cynical Pie, relishing every mouthful of the crunchy, broken lightbulbs that constitute the main ingredient of said Pie.
Sure, I still get impatient with myself and with others, but I’ve lightened-up quite a bit in that regard.
Time heals, but only if you work with it, rather than against it. A lot of things that used to gnaw at my sense of pride now roll off the shoulders routinely.
Shut-out the harrowing mayhem of the world and bolt the doors of your soul.
Have a glass of wine.
Have a creme-filled doughnut.
Laugh with some friends.
To hell with excessive anxiety and worry; these add not a useful moment to this mortal coil—neither in the Big Picture nor in the smaller corners of our increasingly modulated lives.
Thankful? Hell yes.
To be certain, the world—or at least the behavior of the human race in general, these days—disturbs the breath right out of my body, at intervals.
The rampant disconnection from fundamental reality.
The garden-variety indifference and violence.
The staggering atrocities.
The ill-advised substitution of digitial communication and friendship for fulsome interaction and discourse.
The dangerous acceleration of ideological divisiveness.
The Caligula-level decadence that has managed to enter the mainstream of Western culture.
The rabid monkey-circus that is Washington, D.C. politics.
Yeah, these things are all worrisome to me. Maybe to You, too.
But a thankful soul can overcome them all, just by shutting them out at the opportune Moment(s).
Thankful. What a concept.
We have our loved ones. We’ve got the little material odds and ends that we cherish, for whatever reason, but to which we are not unduly attached.
Remain in beloved circles, with your own magical talismans, Gracious Reader, throughout this holiday season and beyond. Pause to enjoy the moments that occur within the Moment.
The moments that really do last forever because they happened within Forever.
From my Christmas tree to whatever sacred artifact or structure you contrive to mark the innate excellence of winter in the West, I wish you thankfulness … and the best New Year you never thought you’d remain sane enough to see.
xx
Jonathan
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Jonathan Kieran is the author of the Rowan Blaize series of epic contemporary fantasy books (Brightbourne 2012), as well as the critically acclaimed (Midwestern Book Review, Manhattan Book Review) Confessions From The Comments Section: The Secret Lives of Internet Commenters and Other Pop-Culture Zombies. His work has also been featured on The Daily Dot.com and in a plethora of other ‘zines, papers, and alt-weeklies. Click on the book covers above and to the right if you want to learn more about Jonathan’s titles and perhaps spend some of your hard-earned money on his multi-formatted gifts to the human race.
Jonathan is currently writing and illustrating a new masterpiece of epic dimensions. Drop-in once in awhile for updates. Mr. Kieran promises to provide them, but only once in awhile, because he doesn’t get paid to blog endlessly and believes that any “writer” who gives-away a lot of stuff for free is a Wattpadder or a Smashworder, not a fuckin’ writer.