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Danny Buzz

DANNY is getting some buzz around the Internet:

 http://www.gayapolis.com/news/artdisplay-lifestyle.php?artid=35151 

and

http://queerscifi.com/announcement-danny-by-steven-harper-piziks/ 

The GoodReads reviews are coming back really great, too.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25746094-danny 

Cool!  If you haven't checked DANNY out, now's a perfect time!  (What, me go commercial?)

Trolling

You know, this is the BEST DAY EVER for baiting right-wing Internet trolls in the comments of news stories. There's absolutely nothing they can say. Starting this morning and continuing forever, it goes:

"Same sex marriage is a disgusting--"

"SUPREME COURT!"

"The bible says that--"

"SUPREME COURT!"

"Gay marriage will destroy society and--"

"SUPREME COURT!"

"The slippery slope of gay marr--"

"SUPREME COURT!"

It's been a delight beyond imagination.

Marriage

Two years ago on the morning of June 26, 2013, I was checking the news on my computer when I discovered that DOMA had been overturned.  I ran downstairs, turned on the TV, and watched.  Eventually, I poured myself a bowl of cereal and kept watching like a little kid watching Saturday morning cartoons.

Today, I got up and went straight to scotusblog.com and watched for the rulings while CNN played in the background. At 10:33, scotusblog announced the Supreme Court would be ruling on same-sex marriage.  At 10:34, text scrolled across my screen:

Holding: Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex.  And to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when a marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out of state.

I turned to CNN.  They didn't have the news yet, but it was there on scotusblog.

I shouted for Darwin.  He ran into the kitchen, where I had my laptop.  There was a lot of shouting and yelling and tearing-up.  After several minutes, CNN got hold of it.  I settled into the living room with my laptop, cell phone, and TV remote to conduct the news feed.  Text messages, tweets, and Facebook posts flew.

Eventually, I went back to the kitchen and got a bowl of cereal to eat while I watched CNN.

Now I'm celebrating by watching the a number of right-wing heads explode all over the Internet.

We won!  Marriage equality is enshrined in law all over the country!  We won!  We won!  We won!
I'm guest blogging today over at Harry Connolly's place: http://www.harryjconnolly.com/index.php/guest-post-by-steven-harper-piziks-sometimes-the-writing-gods-laugh-at-you-and-sometimes-they-laugh-with-you/  Come read as we discuss Greek mythology, modern fantasy, and seriously good drugs.

Bernard the Cat

About a month ago, Alec, one of our rescue cats, got out and within moments was killed by a car.   Dinah, our other cat, also reacted badly.  She meeped and cried constantly and demanded near-continual attention.  She's never been a singleton cat in her short life, and she didn't know how to respond.

After some time passed, we finally decided to get another cat, partly for us and partly for Dinah.  As it happened, I'd taken Dinah to the vet for a checkup and to get her claws clipped, and the vet had three rescue cats they were trying to place--a nine-month-old black cat and two not-quite-feral tortoise shell kittens.   We settled on taking home the black cat, who was already named Bernard.

The vet was almost in tears at the news. They'd been trying to find a home for Bernard for weeks and weeks.  He was a rescue kitten, probably a dumper, that had ended up in their office.  They'd wormed him, vaccinated him, neutered him, and chipped him, but he also needed a home.  All the workers loved him, but they couldn't keep him, and they were very happy to see him go home with us.

Bernard meowed all the way home and then quieted down when we introduced him to Dinah.  Dinah, as expected, was less than thrilled, but she didn't go into full attack mode, or even puff up her fur.  She's been following him around the house with caution, not letting him out of her sight.  There have been a couple bursts of hissing and swatting, but nothing serious.

I give it a week before Bernard is fully integrated.

The Idiocy of the Social Security Office

We can't find Aran's social security card.  We needed it in order to apply for his driver's license and/or a free state ID. The Secrtary of State's office is very firm on this point.

Sighing, I looked up on-line what we needed to get him a new one, and the SS web site said he needed to show a photo ID such as a driver's license or passport. Birth certificates were specifically disallowed.  If you didn't have a photo ID, you could show somehting else that the office liked, such as a employee ID card, a school ID card, a health insurance card, or a military ID. Originals only, please--no copies--and they prefer you do it by mail.

Aran has no passport. He's never worked.  He doesn't have his license yet. He hasn't served in the military.  He has insurance in my name, not his.  The only thing he has is his high school ID card.  I mailed that and the application form to the SS office in Pontiac.

A week later, they mailed it back with a rejection form saying they won't accept a student ID card.  Even though it clearly says on their web site that they take a student ID card.

I put Aran in the car with a mess of supporting documents--his student ID, his birth certificate, a tax form listing him as a dependent--and drove up to the SS office in Pontiac, which took 40 minutes.  When we arrived, we waiting in line for 40 more minutes.  At last we got to see and functionary, and I explained to him the situation.  "The application was rejected, but the web site says you take a student ID," I said.  "Here's his ID."

"We can't take a student ID," the functionary said flatly.  He was a dark-haired man with horn-rimmed glasses and a hard mouth.

"But your web site says you can," I replied.

"Nope.  We can't."

"What can you accept, then?" I said.

"We can accept a driver's license, passport, or military ID," he said shortly.

"My son can't get a driver's license without a social security card," I said.  "And now you're telling me he can't get a social security card without a driver's license."

"Yes," he said.  It was clear he wanted me to leave.

I didn't move.  "This can't be right," I said.  "You can't tell me he can't get either thing without--"

"You can open a MySSI account," he said. "There are kiosks up front.  Then you can print out a letter that says you've applied for a social security card. The Secretary of State will accept that in place of a social security card."

"I tried applying for a MySSI account for him already," I said.  This was true--I'd done it months ago.  "It wouldn't accept his information.  I have an appointment later to deal with that problem."

"Once you've tried MySSI, you can apply for a driver's license."

"I can't try for MySSI."

"Use the kiosks up front and try again." He stacked some papers.  "That's all I can tell you."

I pressed him further, but he wouldn't budge on the issue.  Growling and snarling, I left his desk and went to the kiosks with Aran in tow. I filled in the information for a MySSI account, and as I expected, the computer rejected our attempt.  After three attempts, it locked us out.

A woman was working at the kiosk area, so I flagged her.  She unlocked the kiosk and we tried again with her watching.  Still didn't work.  "Does he have a work history?" she asked, and I said Aran didn't.  "That's the problem. With no work history, he isn't in this system, so he can't get an account started."

Barely keeping my voice steady, I explained to her the situation.  "How do we get a card?" I finished.

"Here's what you do," she said.  "Get a copy of his latest visit from his doctor and send that in to us. We'll accept that."

On the way home, we had to pass the doctor's office, so I stopped in and got a printout of Aran's most recent doctor visit.  I mailed it in along with a new form.

Meanwhile, Aran's appointment for SSI benefits came up.  See, as an autist, Aran qualifies for disability benefits, including rent subsidies, food stamps, and a monthly stipend.  Once again, we drove up to Pontiac. Since we had an appointment this time, we didn't have to wait.

The caseworker this time was a younger man, nicer-looking and more pleasant.  We went through the initial SSI application process with no troubles.  I gave him a copy of Aran's birth certficate (which they required this time) and a copy of both his IEP and a letter from his therapist certifiying he's autistic.  When we were done, the caseworker asked, "Is there anything else you need?"

Naturally, I asked about the social security card.  "Does Aran have a driver's license?" the caseworker asked.

"No," I said.

"How about a student ID?" asked the caseworker.

Aran showed his student ID.  The caseworker glanced at it, clicked around on his computer, gave us a printout that said we'd applied for a card, and said, "There! You should get a new card in about a week."

You have to be fucking kidding me.

So clearly your abiliy to get a card rests solely on which functionary you get that day.

But wait--there's more.  Today in the mail Aran got two letters.  The first was a letter from the social security office. It said they were rejecting his application for a new card because a doctor's record was not acceptable ID.  The second letter was his social security card.

DANNY Detail

I'd always been long fascinated by Ganymede, the teenager who was kidnapped by Zeus to serve as his cupbearer on Olympus. Zeus sees Ganymede on the earth below, decides he's the coolest kid ever, changes into an eagle, and snatches Ganymede up to Olympus.  Zeus then persuades Hebe to make Ganymede immortal, then dumps Hebe as his cupbearer and gives that exhalted position to Ganymede.

Only two and a half stories about Ganymede have survived--the story of his kidnapping, a mention in the Iliad about
Zeus giving Ganymede's father Tros a set of horses in payment for the loss of his son (that's the half), and a story in which Ganymede plays a game of dice against Eros, loses, and gets mad at him.  That's it.  Nothing else.  But there are lots and lots and lots of painting and sculptures from ancient Greece depicting Ganymede, and it seems very likely that Ganymede was more popular than just two and half stories would indicate, and I always wondered what else he might have been up to.
Harper-Danny600x900 (2).jpg
When I got older and read the actual material instead of the summaries and children's versions, I learned that Ganymede was more than Zeus's cupbearer.  Zeus also took Ganymede to his bed. This was part of Greek culture--a powerful man would often serve as a mentor/teacher/second father/love interest to a teenaged male. Usually the parents went along with this: "Good news, son! Your uncle has offered to be your mentor!  His wine business is doing well, and he still remembers his sword work. We're so happy!"  So Ganymede a mythological paralllel to this mortal custom.

The stories, however, never went into what it was like.  What was it LIKE for Ganymede to be snatched away from his family and friends and suddenly make into the cupbearer and lover of the king of gods?  You have the ultimate mentor, but it wasn't anything you'd asked for.  Your culture teaches you that being taken to this guy's bed is a good thing, or at least something you can put up with because all of us men went through it, but how do you =really= handle it?  (Unlike our culture, which treats sexual assault victims as lepers, Greeks saw this kind of thing as normal and acceptable and not at all shameful.  And yet . . . )

The only way to find out what it was like was to write it myself.  The trouble was the setting.  Did I want to write ancient Greece and writing a straighforward fantasy novel, or could I get away with this in a modern setting and using characters who were parallels to the myth?

Ultimately, I settled on using both, and DANNY was born.  And . . . wow.  It was a p[owerful and difficult and heart-pounding book to write in all kinds of ways I never expected.

It's available at Book View Cafe and at Amazon.

Dinah and the Vet

Dinah's claws have gotten long, long, long. She doesn't go outside (we have coyotes), so they don't get worn down, you see.  I looked around for pet groomers, but the closest ones either didn't answer their phones or didn't have a phone number on their web sites at all.  I also realized that Dinah had never been to the vet, so I called the vet up the road instead.  They had a slot open for that day.

I got the cat carrier out of the basement and crept up on Dinah while she was napping.  She had no idea what was going on when I dropped her into it and zipped it shut, but she knew she didn't like whatever it was!  She meowed unhappily all the way to the vet's, which was fortunately only a few minutes away.

The vet saw her right away, gave her a once-over, and asked why I wanted her claws clipped.  I blinked.  "Well, they're getting long and they keep snagging on the carpet when she walks now.  I haven't clipped a cat's claws in years because all our other cats went outside, and I don't have my claw clippers anymore."

The vet laughed.  "I was just wondering if she transformed into Godzilla-kitty when someone tried to clip her claws."

Ah.  No, nothing like that.  The vet got out some clippers and went to work.  Dinah accepted the procedure without a qualm.  He claws were LONG.

The vet pronounced her otherwise healthy, and her records from the shelter said her shots were up to date, so we went home.  A painless trip to the vet.

Tags:

DANNY

It's release day for DANNY!  This book was a real ride to write, and I think it's the best novel I've ever written.  I'm thrilled to release it through Book View Cafe.  Click here or on the cover to check it out! The price is $2.99--since it's an ebook, we can charge less. I'm also posting a bit of the book below.  Enjoy!

    BOOK EIGHT
    PART I

  I dropped my seventh journal in the lake yesterday.  I sealed it in three zip-lock bags and tossed it off the dock that sticks out behind our house.  The dock is a crappy-ass piece of shit, but I like it because it flips the sky the finger 24/7.
    Anyway, I always throw my journals into the lake when they get full.  I figure three bags’ll keep them pretty safe.  Maybe some archaeologist will find them someday, or maybe not.  This is journal number:
 
    EIGHT
    8
    2[3]
 
    An octopus and a spider both have eight legs.  You buy an eighth of pot.  There are eight notes in an octave.  You can write H8 for hate, but H is the eighth letter of the alphabet, so you’re really writing 88 or 88.  88 is 134217728.  Add those digits together and you get 35.  Add those digits together and you get 8.  “Section 8” means “crazy.”  My dick is eight inches long.  (Okay, that’s not true, but I can dream, right?)
    I’m writing this at eight a.m. on the eighth day of the eighth month.
    I always say the same thing at the beginning of my journals, so here we go again.  My name is Daniel Marina, but I go by Danny.  I’m sixteen years old--eight times two.  I have black hair and brown eyes and my nose is too long.  I outgrew my mom two journals ago.  She says I’m handsome, but moms have to say that, and I don’t believe her.  I get zits on my forehead when I’m stressed out, which is most of the time, and I make sure my hair is long enough to cover them.  It probably makes the zits worse, but if no one can see them, what does it matter?
    My mom’s name is Callirhoe (rhymes with Zoe) Marina.  She goes by “Callie.”  We live in Lake Trichonida, which is in northern Michigan.  Everyone calls it Lake Trick, and the school sports teams are the Tricksters.  Trichonida is both the town and the lake, and it’s where I tossed all my other journals.  Me and mom live in a cottage right on the lake.  Lake Trick is a resort town, and our house used to be a vacation cottage my grandpa rented out to summer people.  He left it to Mom when he died.  Now we live there year round.  It’s too small, but it’s right on the lake, which makes up for it.  I spend more time in Lake Trick than in the house.  The water holds me up and surrounds me like air and silk.  I dive down to the bottom and feel rocks like cold bones in the darkness, then blast up to the surface and drink in air thin and sweet as tree sap.  I’m reborn a dozen times a day.
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Coming Up: DANNY

My next book is an ebook release from Book View Cafe. It comes out on Friday!  I think this is the best piece of fiction I've ever written, to tell the truth.



   Danny Marina's new step-father takes him to the laser tag stadium, the movies, the go-kart track. He and his mother now have a new house and more money. Then Danny finds the cameras--in the living room, his bedroom, the shower. Which leads him to uncover the secret web site, the one devoted to him and his step-brother Eric.
    Danny's Mom doesn't believe him--doesn't want to believe him. Faced with the unthinkable as his stepdad brings home strangers, Danny and Eric hop a bus for Florida. Frightened, and only with each other for support, they flee to Aquapura, a crappy, decrepit resort town. But the streets of Aquapura have dangers of their own. A grinning hotel owner named Lucian ropes the boys into a prostitution ring, pimping them out to traveling businessmen who flash enough cash. The work crushes Danny's body and threatens to steal his soul.
    As an escape, Danny fills his notebook with a strange and secret story. He spins the tale of Ganymede, a teenaged boy from ancient Greece. Zeus, the king of gods himself, snatches Ganymede up to Mount Olympus, where he is pulled into a web of intrigue and adventure that threatens the very gods.
    As his life under Lucian's thumb worsens, Danny escapes deeper into Ganymede's fictional life. Except the more Danny writes about Ganymede, the more it becomes clear he's writing about himself. And over time, Ganymede's life crosses Danny's in strange and impossible ways. Danny needs to use Ganymede's strength to fight back and create a better life for himself and for Eric. But can a teenager use the power of a god?


It doesn't have a page at BVC yet, but it will soon!  Price will be $2.99, and it'll be available in a variety of e-formats.  More details coming!