Thursday, May 22, 2014

Book Review: Starship Grifters by Robert Kroese

Starship Grifters by Robert Kroese

Paperback, 242 pages

Published May 6th 2014 by 47north

From the look of the book the publishers are selling the idea of an old school 50’s or 60’s chezy pulp science fiction novel. Sounds good to me, I am a good choice to review this novel as I am a huge fan of weird old school Science fiction and I like sci-fi satire. This book is funny, very review, or promo material for this book will tell you how funny it is it would be easy to dismiss this as hyperbole. I am happy to say it is indeed funny. I laughed a lot reading it.

This is a bizarro science fiction that does get a lot of it laughs from high concept ideas and clever jokes based on long standing genre clichés. One of my favorites was APPLE (A Planet Perpelxingly Like Earth). Funny concept that is a great satire of silly sci-fi stuff.

I am generally not a fan of first person narrative for entire novels but it works here as the story is told the point of view of the main character’s robot sidekick SASHA ( It stands for something I can’t remember). The non-hero is Rex Nihilo. He is a total loser who wins a planet and a boatload of debt in a card game. In order to save his skin, he manipulates both sides of a war, and various conflicts.

I enjoyed this book but it was far from perfect. As I started to read I assumed this was a first time author, but he actually has published a series before. I was instantly turned off as the author violated one of the golden rules of sci-fi writing in the first three pages. The novel starts with a massive info-dump and takes pages to actually get to the story. It was a review copy so I read on but had I picked up the book in the bookstore I may never have read it.

Info dumps read like encyclopedia entries and are a “what not to do” Example for poor world building. Thankfully I kept reading. For the most part I enjoyed this novel even after what I consider a rough start. That may sound nitpicky or harsh but the quality of the rest of novel is what makes the rocky start stand out.

Read it. I promise those looking for a creative bizarro laugh riot will be pleased.

Book Review Katja from the Punk Band

Katja From the Punk Band

Paperback, 278 pages

Published March 30th 2010 by Chizine Publications

Fireball Award (Best Opening Line) (2010), Spinetingler Magazine Top Ten Thrillers/Crime (2010), Spinetingler Magazine Best New Voice Nominee

The idea behind this punk rock surreal/ bizarro noir crime novel is top notch high concept stuff. I was attracted to it because it’s obvious punk look. I didn’t read the plot and went in cold. The setting is a surreal “work” island. We open on a violent scene, Katja has killed someone. She rushes back her job where she is given a Vial, that is real valuable. There is a lot of violence involved with getting that vial back.

The novel has a non-liner timeline and is all over the place. It is well written but for some reason my mind wondered a lot while reading it. Katja is a great character, the setting is pretty strong but for some reason I can’t put my finger on the book struggled to keep my attention.

The back cover of the book describes it as Jackie Brown meets the Sex Pistols. As punk rock as the cover makes it sound I thought the setting could have been more punk. I wished Logan used more Punk references and images though out. It is certainly suggested but I felt too much was left up to our imagination.

Still I think it is worth a read. Logan is a heck of writer and I probably will check out the sequel.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

100 Top Vegan Foods I ate in PDX 2007-14

100 best things I ate in Vegan Portland.


1. The Homegrown smoker macnocheeto

2. Vita Café Sloppy Biscuit sandwich: fried tofu, faux turkey, vegan cheese and gravy between a vegan biscuit served with potatoes

3. Sweet Pea Bakery - All you can eat Bunch (best vegan Biscuits and Gravy ever!)

4. Blossoming Lotus – Vegan four cheese Lasagna

5. Hungry Tiger - Rueben Sammy

6. DC Veg - Philly Cheese Steak

7-8. Back to Eden Sundaes (The Rocky Butte Soft Serve, Walnuts, Dandies Marshmallows & House-made Caramel Sauce or The Mt. Hood Soft Serve, Ginger Cookies, White Chocolate Chips & House-made Caramel Sauce)

9. Kitchen Dances Try Vegan Week bunch special (Reigning Vegan Iron Chef at the time made a full brunch with various options available for 10 bucks)

10. Paradox Café - Tofu Benedict

11. Petunias - Salted Caramel Cookie Bar

12. Blossoming Lotus - Lotus Benedict split biscuit topped with tofu scramble, sausage patties, sliced tomato, wilted spinach, and chipotle hollandaise, served with roasted potatoes and Steamed greens.

13. It’s a Beautiful pizza – Pesto with teese (RIP)

14. Portabello – Pumpkin Ravioli

15. Paradox – Sweet surrender dark chocolate pancakes

16. Hungry Tiger – Totchos for a $2 upgrade you could order the massive Nacho plate with Tater tots instead. (rumor is they won’t do this anymore)

17. Vita café – Vegan “fish” & chips

18. Dave’s Killer Bread – Sin Dawg

19. Sip - Ginger Berry smoothie

20. Blossoming Lotus – Live Pasta (basically an amazing salad w/Cashew cheese & Pesto)

21. Nature Bake Chocolate chip cookies

22. Hungry Tiger .40 Tofu wings/ $1.00 Vegan Corn Dogs (I know the prices have gone up but 1.50 CDs not on my list)

23. Sudra – Pakora plate ( New all vegan fancy foodie Indian food)

24. Van Hanh - Lemongrass Stick (This huge chunk of deep fried tofu is no longer on the menu, too bad it was amazing.)

24. Hungry Tiger – Ginormous Pancakes/ Tofu n’ Waffles

26. Proper Eats – Happy hour Nachos

27. Vege Thai - Veggie Wrap

28. Fuijan – Grilled Eggplant (AKA Mock ear – RIP)

29. Daily Grind – Vegan Pizza Rolls (RIP)

30. Queen of Sheba - Vegan Platter

31. Daily Grind – 3 scones for a buck. (RIP)

32. Petunias Pecan Sticky Buns

33. Dovetail chocolate Peanut butter whoopee pie

34. Back to Eden Lavender Snickerdoodle.

35. Native Bowl - Alberta Bowl

36. Homegrown Smoker - Crunch McFU: Cajun battered, frito breaded smoked tofu on a grilled bun with tomato, pickle, Buff sauce, garden greens and creamy ranch.

37. Homegrown Smoker – coconut battered deep fried Oreos

38. East Side Deli - Field Roast sub w/ Avocado.

39. Los Gorditoes – Soy Curl fajita burrito

40. Sizzle Pie – Breakfast Tofu scramble hash pizza

41. Voodoo Donut – Portland Crème pie.

42. Laughing Planet – Hempseed cookie

43. Voodoo Donut- Massive apple fritter

44. Dots - Fries with Spicy dipping sauce.

45. Fat Kitty Falafel Sammy

46. El Nutri Taco – enchiladas

47. Mighty- O French Toast donut (Hollywood Whole Foods)

48. Wolf and Bears Falafel and eggplant Sandwich.

49. Gonzo Falafel’s Vegan Swarma fries

50. Sushi Ichiban - in general

51. Laughing Planet – Che Burrito w/Vegan cheese.

52. Mississippi Pizza - Pesto pizza

53. Hot Lips pizza - Cilatro pesto slice

54. Sweet Pea Bakery – Carrot Cake

55. Sweet Pea Bakery – Peanut butter Chocolate cheesecake

56. Food Fight’s nacho cheese pump (RIP)

57. Potato Champion - Vegan Pountine with Teese

58. Black Sheep Bakery – Pumpkin Crumble Bar

59. Loving Hut - Lemon “Chicken”

60. Higher Taste - Golden Slice Sammy

61. Fat Straw Coco-mango smoothie (Coconut milk)

62. Veggie Grill - Onion Rings.

63. Straight from New York pizza Vegan slices

64. Nicolas - Vegan mezza plate.

65. Paradox - French Toast

66. Back space - Vegan philly cheese steak

67. Red and Black - Dragon Bowl (w/ Noodles or Quinoa)

68. Hungry Tiger Hawaii 5-0 veggie burger

69. Sip - Cookies and Cream shake

70. Laughing planet – Snickerdoodle

71. Vege Thai - Pad Thai w/ Soy Chicken.

72. Van Hanh – Kung po combo.

73. Los Gorditoes – Tofu enchiladas

74. Bye and Bye – Mayan bowl

75. Bye and Bye – Chili dog special.

76. Sizzle Pie - Breadsticks w/ Creamy cashew and pesto dip.

77. Veganopolis - Rueben

78. Rudy’s gourmet Pizza – Vegan deep dish

79.Van Hanh – BBQ Steamed bun (stuffed w/ Tofu)

80. Vita Café - $5 Wednesday night “Fish”wich.

81. Vita Café – Thai corncakes (cornmeal pancakes with coconut milk syrup)

82. Hoodas - Zataar Bread

83. Homegrown Smoker – Hush puppies

84. Red and Black – Tempeh Cheesesteak.

85. Vita Café – Tempeh country fried steak.

86. Paradox café – Massive Corn dog

87. Harlow - Live pasta

88. Papa G’s – Salad bar

89. Kale salad – Veggie Grill

90. Native Foods - Oklahoma ‘bacon’ double Cheeseburger

91. Hemp burger – White Owl

92. Indian food carts downtown - $5 five course Indian

93. Hungry Tiger – Nachos

94. Heidi Ho cheese plate

95. Higher taste - BBQ sandwich

96. Tube – Vegan Ham and Cheese Sandwich

97. Sip – Chocolate Peanut butter shake

98. Baghdad - $2 happy hour Cajun tots

99. Sip Green smoothie Greensicle (Kale, spinach, banana and apple) 100. Homegrown Smoker – Mac and no-cheese.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

S.T.uD. The 2014 World Horror Con Gross Out contest 2nd place winner

OK by popular demand…My second place gross-out contest story. A few notes and I’ll set the stage. Each year for the last 24 years Horror professionals from all over the world gather for the world horror convention like a family reunion. This year it was here in Portland. So we have 200 or so people who have a grim sense of humor gathered in a ballroom, 5 judges and 11 authors with 3 minutes to gross everyone out. After 3 minutes the audience decides if the author gets another 2 minutes to finish, with a roman coliseum style thumbs up or down.

As someone who sat in the audience for the contest in the past I had an idea of what I wanted to do. My favorite Gross-out story was in 2005 Cody Goodfellow’s “Lydia’s liposuction.” It functioned as a story. So I wanted it to not be misogynist, be funny and have a hint of political leanings and themes expressed in my satire “The Vegan Revolution…with Zombies.”

Just know this story was designed to be read out loud with certain voices, pauses and breaks built in and based on audience reaction…

S.TU.D (2nd draft)

Frank hadn’t worked his way up from infection -laden stud to head chef of La Maladie without an attention to detail.

This particular penis, a delicacy harvested after months of careful tending, was the restaurant’s most expensive item. Paired with red wine, this meal would be the thing for the rich dying foodie. The penis had to be severed at the perfect moment so that the muscles would harden to a rigor as the cast iron pan hit the right temperature. If one waits too long, the skin of the penis will release stored calcium ions from the sarcoplasmic reticulum of muscle fibers. No one wants the penis to soften before the garlic oil can add flavor.

And, the pan should not be too hot, lest the source of the flavor, Frank’s secret ingredient, be sizzled away: not just Frank’s scabies, his babies. Millions of his eight-legged microscopic babies would be burrowed into the dermis of the penis, laying their eggs for a generation that would live on in the gourmand’s digestive tract. The scabies’ eggs created a crunchy, yet rich mouth feel, and the noted food critic, Roger Flonge, of the New Kok Register swore they were bread crumbs.

Tonight’s penis would be Frank’s culinary masterpiece. When the meat walked into his shop, Frank had no idea how special it would be. The meat begged, as his family was starving. The meat dropped his pants before Frank could turn him away. His penis was dotted like a ribbed condom with cancerous moles. The customer would chew through a creamy outer layer of pus that oozed out like an egg- rich aioli. His thighs were covered with the moles, which resembled capers, cooked by hacker chemo . Each achingly rich dot of cancer had grown into a pus-filled boil which lead the eager foodie to move to the meat’s crotch like a flashing neon arrow.

The meat’s sack dripped pus from the dead moles, and looked like a decapitated head hanging in a plastic grocery bag left out in the jungle for the summer. The mass of them impeded his ability to walk. He had nothing left except for the chance to be meat.

“The moles will fetch some credits, but to feed your family, I need a penis fit to eat,” Frank explained. He held the bumpy pus-dripping organ in his hand as it hardened, the erection causing a few of the dying moles to pop as the skin stretched, leaking a cottage cheese-like pus onto his hand. “This penis is dead; what it needs is to crawl with life. I offer a countless array of mites, lichens and disease that will make your penis valuable enough to feed not just our customer, but your family.”

“Yes,” the meat whispered. He had no choice.

Now that he was in service of La Maladie, the meat only had to stay in bed. Discerning customers would dine on his sexual organs first, but no flesh on this meat’s body would go to waste. So the meat was fed every forty-five minutes to maintain the prospect of on-going harvest. The meat scarfed buckets of fall-off-the-bone tender welfare baby legs, deep-fried and dipped in butter-cream. Desert was spoons full of cookie dough. The only exercise allowed were the disease-entry fuck sessions with Frank.

Frank needed to inject his babies. The scabies’ babies crawled from the skin of one penis to the other. S.T.D. studs came certified with everything from penis mites and pubic crabs, to testicle worms. Life was hard in this age of ritual suicide by fine dining, which was often initiated with a mite-infested penis, or a mold-flavored vagina. Eating human is so last century, but eating people’s privates is more hip than mustaches on ladies.

The meat could hardly stand or support his girth. Foreplay commenced when Frank folded rolls of the meat’s fat belly over his penis, lubricated by bacon grease. If he wanted to escape, he didn’t have the ability. Frank kept the bucket of butter-creamed chicken parts at the end of the bed. “Daddy will feed you when the sphincter is scabbed,” Frank cooed in the meat’s ear.

Frank warmed the meat’s room first so he would be moist with sweat, when he rubbed up against him. He felt his mites jumping onto the meat as their pubic jungles ground together. The meat cried, but Frank assured him softly as each thrust transmitted another egg. “Dinner is almost served.”

After that, Frank never saw the meat sexually again. The med droids would update his server with photos. Within two days, the eggs would hatch in the meat’s pubic hair. He would be restrained so he wouldn’t rip his own pubic region to shreds. On the fourth day, the penis skin that wasn’t cancerous would turn purple. Frank waited until the meat was sleeping, and scraped a sample to taste. The penis was ripe. It took two droids to flip the meat. Frank would use a spoon to scoop the anus clean of the fecal pack that had accumulated during the previous weeks of immobility. Harvesting the fecal pack was an important step, and the asshole of the meat would not be ready until the sphincter had swollen to the size of a baseball. Only then could it be sliced into rings, battered and fried.

When the meat was ripe, the bolt pistol would render the last moments painless, dare I say humane. The meat could know that the money he’d earned had fed his family.

It is all about presentation in this business. The last step would be placing a single wisp of parsley across the pan-seared penis, two snail-stuffed, beer-battered, deep-fried testicles at its base. Served with a side salad - croutons made with shredded pubic lice and freshly cut herbs. The sphincter rings were fresh, and often, the diner could sniff the toothpick they were served with, and faintly smell the aroma of the meat’s last bowel movement.

Bon appétit.