Square Pig in a Round Hole-May 23, 2020

Square PigNaming a band is an act of concentrated creative expression. Square Pig in a Round Hole exists to reward five favorite band names each week. Winners are (usually) listed alphabetically.

Selection is wholly unscientific and subject to whim, with a bias toward wordplay, humor, and local flavor. In most cases, I won’t know anything about the bands at the time of selection. Thanks to the Seattle Times nightlife listings for abundant source material!

SQUARE PIG IN A ROUND HOLE PANDEMIC EDITION #10

Call me naive, but when this all started, I did not foresee doing 10 of these retrospectives. Now it looks like it will be many, many more. I have plenty of material, but I am in mourning for live music and group singing. That calls for another pet-themed post.  If you are able, please buy these bands’ music and merch while we wait for a better day.

Cat Valley

(March 9, 2019) A writer’s paradise. Come for the fur, stay for the purr.

Dead Cat Hat

(March 22, 2014) This is awful and funny at the same time, with an obvious but irresistible rhyme. Not the cat in the hat; the cat is the hat.

Kitten Forever

(September 7, 2019) I have old cats, so I find this touching. Although kittens grow into cats in no time, they don’t outgrow their kitteniness. Even ancient cats don’t show their age until they’re ready to lay down that ninth life.

Secret Cat

(January 9, 2016) I’m picturing a cat going undercover in a dog household to steal the plans for a canine takeover of the world, blowing that plot wide open and then taking a nap. (And hey, they’re on a bill with Square Pig faves Power Skeleton!)

Sit Kitty Sit

(April 9, 2016) Like that’ll get you anywhere. Cats take orders from no one. (Cat sits. Gives a look that says, “I was going to do that, anyway. Nothing to do with you.”)

 

One last thing before you go: I share highlights from this blog in my quarterly author newsletter, The Storypunk Report, as well as news of what I’m writing and reading, upcoming events, and other goodies, including “Wizard in the Mosh Pit,” an exclusive short story just for subscribers. Click the link to check out the first six issues and subscribe here for future issues. (Or just follow the blog for your weekly dose of band names.)

Review: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Don't Ask Don't TellDon’t Ask, Don’t Tell by Claudine Griggs (Not A Pipe Publishing 2020)

This astounding LGBTQ crime thriller is available now.

Josie Waller, a San Francisco cop, and Emmanuel Cerrillo, a Pomona, California, detective suspect two bizarre suicides are actually murders, and the victims—a teetotaling Baptist preacher who died of a heroin overdose and a school board member who injected herself with cobra venom—are connected by their vitriolic homophobia. The officers launch an unofficial investigation and find more than expected.

Robert Davenport, an overly intellectual gay English professor at an Ivy League university with subliminal dreams of being an action hero, responds to a personal ad that delivers him to a recruiter for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” In theory, the group wants Davenport to write a literary manifesto, but just how far is he willing to go, and will the officers find him before it’s too late?

My review: What if victims of prejudice and discrimination—sometimes violent, sometimes insidious, always maddening—took up arms and fought back? What if they were backed by a well-funded organization? That’s what happens in this all too believable thriller. Set in the near past, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell covers about 18 months in the lives of a wide variety of characters (cops, academics, scientists, activists) as a secret organization recruits LGBT activists who want to fight for justice … including murder of homophobes with platforms and ambition for power.

Robert Davenport, a closeted Ivy League English professor, has been waiting too long for tenure when he spies an ad for an LGBT organization interested in justice activists. Vetted and recruited by Tanish Padgett, who is settling scores for childhood trauma, he finds himself in deep with Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, an organization ready to go public with violence on homophobes. Meanwhile, on the other coast, Detective Manny Cerrillo and Officer Josie Waller are putting the pieces together on a couple of suspicious suicides that are linked to DADT. As they race to identify the mysterious Gulf Stream who seems to be pulling the strings, DADT is preparing for a big “Pearl Harbor” event. Even with the feds involved, will they be able to prevent catastrophe?

This book is tense and exciting, as a thriller must be, but what makes it is the characters. They are all complex, interesting, and exasperatingly human. Friendship is as big a theme as murder. Partnership is the saving graces for so many of these people. Even the bad guys are at least understandable, even sympathetic. Though he’s all in with the terrorists, Davenport seems like he should be the hero, especially in a late twist. Cerrillo and Waller make a great team, though they are thrown together almost by chance. The ending presents a societal mess not unlike our present day, with things left open for at least a sequel, if not a series. The cops and Padgett all have unfinished business.

I received an advance review copy of this book from the publisher.

Order your copy from your local independent bookstore. Use IndieBound.org to find it.

Also available on Barnes & Noble HERE.

Also available on Amazon HERE.

Available on Kindle HERE.

 

 

Square Pig in a Round Hole-May 16, 2020

Square PigNaming a band is an act of concentrated creative expression. Square Pig in a Round Hole exists to reward five favorite band names each week. Winners are (usually) listed alphabetically.

Selection is wholly unscientific and subject to whim, with a bias toward wordplay, humor, and local flavor. In most cases, I won’t know anything about the bands at the time of selection. Thanks to the Seattle Times nightlife listings for abundant source material!

SQUARE PIG IN A ROUND HOLE PANDEMIC EDITION #9

If it helps, you can consider these retrospective posts to be “double curated.” I originally mined these gems from the nightlife listings on the dates indicated, then returned to nine-plus years of blog posts to select entries that seem to speak to the current weirdness. I do the work so you don’t have to.  If you are able, please buy these bands’ music and merch while we wait for a better day.

Dead Man Winter

(March 18, 2017) A seasonal character who has overstayed his welcome; always old, nearly expired.

Death by Steamship

(January 29, 2011) This is not the way I want to go! It conjures two wildly different pictures: an absurdly elaborate execution; or a chance meeting in a dark alley that doesn’t end well . . .

The Femurs

(January 29, 2011) The bone name is too clinical to be really macabre, and it rhymes with “lemur”. But it doesn’t turn truly comic until you add the definite article. (As a band name, it doesn’t hurt to have the same vowel, syllable, and accent pattern as the Beatles).

Good Bones

(December 16, 2018) Well done, skeleton. What would I do without you?

Mystery Skulls

(October 28, 2017) This one’s a little Halloween-y. Inside every person you’ve ever loved is a spooky, scary skeleton. The skull isn’t even buried that deep.

 

One last thing before you go: I share highlights from this blog in my quarterly author newsletter, The Storypunk Report, as well as news of what I’m writing and reading, upcoming events, and other goodies, including “Wizard in the Mosh Pit,” an exclusive short story just for subscribers. Click the link to check out the first six issues and subscribe here for future issues. (Or just follow the blog for your weekly dose of band names.)

Review: Shadow Queene

Shadow QueeneShadow Queene by Kate Ristau (Not A Pipe Publishing 2020)

While Áine returns to the light, Hennessey falls into shadow. Just when her dreams are about to come true, Hennessey’s world is torn apart. She is dragged into the Shadowlands, while Áine is forced into the light. But in a world of magic and darkness, where the fae wither and monsters reign, Hennessey finds a power all her own. She embraces the shadows and enters the endless night.

I have been eagerly awaiting this sequel since I read Shadow Girl in 2018, and it does not disappoint. Picking up where Shadow Girl left off with Aine, her old friend Ciaran, her sister Keva, and her new human friend/love interest Hennessy trying to cross from the dangers of the human world to relative safety in the Aetherlands. But it can’t be that easy. Shadows drag Hennessy to the Hetherlands (fairy hell) while the Eta (magical light particles) shove Aine through to the Aetherlands and destroy the crossing. Both girls spend the book surviving, learning, fighting, all with the goal of finding each other again.

I loved Hennessy in Shadow Girl, so I was excited to see her get her own story arc. This spitfire of an Irish teenager had been raised on fairy stories and wanted them to be real, but not like this: bones and monsters and darkness. But those stories and other memories of her Nana help her pay attention and make choices that increase her chances of survival. Those, plus a mysterious spear and an ugly dragon puppy named Rego. Meanwhile, Aine returns to a home that is out of balance and she may be contributing to the problem. She makes a drastic choice that sets her on an unknown path to restore balance and find Hennessy again.

Like Shadow Girl, this book ended before I was ready. The way things were left, this must be the middle act with a rousing conclusion still to come. Looking forward to it!

Square Pig in a Round Hole-May 9, 2020

Square PigNaming a band is an act of concentrated creative expression. Square Pig in a Round Hole exists to reward five favorite band names each week. Winners are (usually) listed alphabetically.

Selection is wholly unscientific and subject to whim, with a bias toward wordplay, humor, and local flavor. In most cases, I won’t know anything about the bands at the time of selection. Thanks to the Seattle Times nightlife listings for abundant source material!

SQUARE PIG IN A ROUND HOLE PANDEMIC EDITION #8

Even in the Before Time, I was rarely one to go out to a crowded bar. Unless I was playing–then I was there early and stayed through the last song. I miss live music. I miss group singing. I hope they come back in a safe way. Fortunately, band names are durable and I have a ready supply from over nine years of weekly blogs. If you are able, please buy these bands’ music and merch while we wait for a better day.

Haunted Summer

(January 9, 2016) Unexpected and poetic. It takes quite a spook to haunt anything as bright and shiny as summer.

Sorrow’s Edge

(February 21, 2015) Dark poetry in two words. I like that edge can imply a border or a blade, and it makes sense either way.

The Story So Far

(March 16, 2013) The writer in me is drawn to the implication of narrative.

ThisTopia

(April 25, 2015) Create your ideal world, right here, right now. The realm of God is at hand.

Too Close to Touch

(February 27, 2016) Blows the mind. I think quantum physics must be involved.

 

One last thing before you go: I share highlights from this blog in my quarterly author newsletter, The Storypunk Report, as well as news of what I’m writing and reading, upcoming events, and other goodies, including “Wizard in the Mosh Pit,” an exclusive short story just for subscribers. Click the link to check out the first six issues and subscribe here for future issues. (Or just follow the blog for your weekly dose of band names.)

Review: Someone to Watch Over

Someone to Watch Over by William Schreiber (Not A Pipe Publishing 2020)

Someone to Watch Over

Winner of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association Rising Star Award!

When Lennie returns home to the Great Smoky Mountains, she’s devastated to learn from her brother, John, that their father has died. For her, it’s too late for love to conquer all—her estranged dad was the key to discovering the fate of a child she gave up when she was a teen.

Desperate, she sets out with skeptical John to find a rumored guardakin angel in the Appalachian Mountains who can connect deceased parents with their children.

Love builds and sustains families across generations. But can it conquer the divide between life and death? Lennie’s answer hinges on a daring leap of faith for a second chance with the child she never knew.

My review:

Siblings, parents, and children all have a shot at a second chance in this story of a dysfunctional family road-trip to connection. This book began life as a screenplay and would be gorgeous on the big screen. The characters and Southern settings are grounded and real—even the ghosts. Someone to Watch Over flirts with the supernatural, but in a grace-filled rather than spooky way.

Bohemian free spirit Eleanor (Lennie) Riley has hit the skids. Her past is filled with trauma and heartbreak, which she has dealt with by running away and reinventing herself. Now she has returned to her hometown, hoping to work up the nerve to reconcile with her father. Dad’s death spoils that plan but puts Lennie back in the orbit of her tightly wound big brother John, a successful engineer with a beautiful family and all the comforts … and his own unanswered questions about their blue-collar father. Just as Lennie is setting out to find a “guardikin angel” to reconnect her with her late father, John decides to recreate a long-ago family vacation to Cape Canaveral and demands that Lennie lend him her old Pontiac Bonneville, the car Dad bought for that trip. She says no but agrees to merge her trip with his. He refuses to consider her supernatural explanations of the dreams or visions she’s been having, even when he starts having them himself. Are they hallucinations brought on by stress and grief? Will the trip go according to John’s plan or will he accept a little of Lennie’s spontaneity? And who is watching over them?

I’m a sucker for a good sibling story, and this one does not disappoint. It’s no surprise that both thought Dad favored the other and that neither really knew Dad at all. Lennie and John seem like opposites—the only thing they had in common was basketball—but they manage to complement each other when they give it a chance. Nothing runs smoothly for them even when apparent miracles occur. The ending is satisfying and not cheaply won.

Order your copy from your local independent bookstore. Use IndieBound.org to find it.

Also available on Barnes & Noble HERE.

Also available on Amazon HERE.

Available on Kindle HERE.

Square Pig in a Round Hole-May 2, 2020

Square PigNaming a band is an act of concentrated creative expression. Square Pig in a Round Hole exists to reward five favorite band names each week. Winners are (usually) listed alphabetically.

Selection is wholly unscientific and subject to whim, with a bias toward wordplay, humor, and local flavor. In most cases, I won’t know anything about the bands at the time of selection. Thanks to the Seattle Times nightlife listings for abundant source material!

SQUARE PIG IN A ROUND HOLE PANDEMIC EDITION #7

Wow, we’ve been at this lockdown awhile, and we have at least a month to go. I hate to say it, but live music will probably be among the last things to come back. Remember when you could stand up front and the band would spit beer on you? Yeah, that’s why, but those were the days. Fortunately, I still have loads of appropriate band names from past posts. If you are able, please buy these bands’ music and merch while we wait for a better day.

Damage Bouquet

(April 25, 2015) This name brings into close proximity two words that shouldn’t have anything to do with each other, but once introduced, suggest any number of scenarios. Is this the flowers you send the person harmed by your wreckage? The flowers you use to smack the person who done you wrong? Or is it the sweet smell of brokenness brought into the open?

Feeling People Feeling People

(April 20, 2019) As long as it’s consensual, a positive counterpart to the “hurt people hurt people” formula. Empathy and touch promote health and healing.

Maudlin Strangers

(June 21, 2015) Why aren’t they on a bill with Abstract Friends? But they are on a bill with Bad Idea, which might be a clue: guy walks into a bar with only the concept of friendship, sits next to an emotionally demonstrative stranger and quickly gets dragged into someone else’s drama.

Pollens 

(March 2, 2013) Timely, considering the season. (Apologies to all hay fever sufferers). I like this because pollen is a collective noun already and making it plural is amusing overkill. But I’m sure that botanists (and hay fever sufferers) are concerned with the variety of pollens out there.

Runny Nose Bros.

(December 22, 2018) Probably won’t be a hit video game, but any parent of two or more who has been through at least one winter will be nodding in recognition.

 

One last thing before you go: I share highlights from this blog in my quarterly author newsletter, The Storypunk Report, as well as news of what I’m writing and reading, upcoming events, and other goodies, including “Wizard in the Mosh Pit,” an exclusive short story just for subscribers. Click the link to check out the first six issues and subscribe here for future issues. (Or just follow the blog for your weekly dose of band names.)

Square Pig in a Round Hole-April 25, 2020

Square PigNaming a band is an act of concentrated creative expression. Square Pig in a Round Hole exists to reward five favorite band names each week. Winners are (usually) listed alphabetically.

Selection is wholly unscientific and subject to whim, with a bias toward wordplay, humor, and local flavor. In most cases, I won’t know anything about the bands at the time of selection. Thanks to the Seattle Times nightlife listings for abundant source material!

SQUARE PIG IN A ROUND HOLE PANDEMIC EDITION #6

Just to show it’s not all old news, I will be interviewed live on Chat and Spin Radio tomorrow, Sunday, April 26 at 3:10 p.m. Pacific. It’s internet radio, so tune in from wherever you are!

71402589_2446228792159486_9019841113019645952_o

One of the resident cats

One of the few upsides of the lockdown is seeing other people’s pets during online meetings. Our own pets seem to love having their people home, too. And so, I offer a pet-themed (OK, cat-themed) retrospective for your comfort and enjoyment. If you are able, please buy these bands’ music and merch.

Are You a Cat?

(November 12, 2011) You don’t often see a band name that’s a question. And what a question! If the answer is “yes” you can’t expect an answer, or much more than a disdainful glance, rendering the question unnecessary.

Cat Bomb

(January 31, 2015) Always happy to celebrate a cat-related name. Rather than cats carrying explosives, I prefer of think of this as a stealth weapon that goes off and suddenly everybody everywhere has a cat on their lap and cat rock in their earbuds.

Cat Among Pigeons

(December 27, 2014) Classic outsider scenario with so many possible outcomes. Cat bides her time, blending in and winning the pigeons’ trust, then begins to pick them off one by one; they never figure it out. Or: Cat goes crazy trying to chase all the pigeons at once, and never catches even one. Or: the pigeons lull the cat into a false sense of security, then descend en masse.

The Cat Empire

(July 21, 2013) This is another word for that fuzz-covered, carpeted perch by the window. Or possibly your bed when there’s a sunbeam.

Cat Food

(June 2, 2012) Maybe it’s because I just fed my cats, but I want to know: kibble, canned, or rodent? Or something to feed the soul of a real cool cat?

 

One last thing before you go: I share highlights from this blog in my quarterly author newsletter, The Storypunk Report, as well as news of what I’m writing and reading, upcoming events, and other goodies, including “Wizard in the Mosh Pit,” an exclusive short story just for subscribers. Click the link to check out the first six issues and subscribe here for future issues. (Or just follow the blog for your weekly dose of band names.)

Square Pig in a Round Hole-April 18, 2020

Square PigNaming a band is an act of concentrated creative expression. Square Pig in a Round Hole exists to reward five favorite band names each week. Winners are (usually) listed alphabetically.

Selection is wholly unscientific and subject to whim, with a bias toward wordplay, humor, and local flavor. In most cases, I won’t know anything about the bands at the time of selection. Thanks to the Seattle Times nightlife listings for abundant source material!

SQUARE PIG IN A ROUND HOLE PANDEMIC EDITION #5

The bars are still closed but there’s no shortage of band names in the vault. The pandemic theme includes both grief and comfort (including comfort food). If you are able, please buy these bands’ music and merch. And come back next week for more band names–I brought up enough for 4 or 5 more weeks.

Abstract Friends

(June 21, 2015) A step removed from imaginary friends, this implies an idea of friends separate from any actual experience of friendship. The teenage protagonist of my young-adult work-in-progress [no longer in progress but out in the world! –ed.] could probably relate — she’s invisible and has no real friends until she takes courage and starts a garage band. The members of this band look the right age to be her classmates, too.

All Bets on Death

(February 5, 2011) Taxes are a close second.

Bacon Grenade

(March 2, 2013) If this isn’t the name of a hangover breakfast, it should be. Or maybe it’s the thing you toss in to distract the guard dogs.

Blessed by a Broken Heart

(November 1, 2014) Not often do I see a band name so genuinely touching. Enough time has passed to see what was gained through grief. This is grown-up stuff.

Cure for the Common

(February 27, 2016) I’m pretty sure I would have picked this even if I wasn’t down with a cold. Always great to find something to lift you out of the mundane.

 

One last thing before you go: I share highlights from this blog in my quarterly author newsletter, The Storypunk Report, as well as news of what I’m writing and reading, upcoming events, and other goodies, including “Wizard in the Mosh Pit,” an exclusive short story just for subscribers. Click the link to check out the first six issues and subscribe here for future issues. (Or just follow the blog for your weekly dose of band names.)

Square Pig in a Round Hole-April 11, 2020

Square PigNaming a band is an act of concentrated creative expression. Square Pig in a Round Hole exists to reward five favorite band names each week. Winners are (usually) listed alphabetically.

Selection is wholly unscientific and subject to whim, with a bias toward wordplay, humor, and local flavor. In most cases, I won’t know anything about the bands at the time of selection. Thanks to the Seattle Times nightlife listings for abundant source material!

SQUARE PIG IN A ROUND HOLE PANDEMIC EDITION #4

Well, here we are, Easter weekend, and the country is not close to being open for business. It goes without saying that every bar is still a dead bar. If you might have gone to church for Easter in less weird times, I hope you will enjoy this Easter story I wrote a few years back. And if you’ve run out of reading material, go here to receive 20 free ebooks, including my garage-rock fairy tale The Gospel According to St. Rage.

I have almost used up my first stash of pandemic-themed band names from the past but never fear: if this blog has taught me anything, it’s that band names will never be in short supply. If you are able, please buy these bands’ music and merch. And come back next week for more band names.

The Airborne Toxic Event

(June 4, 2011) Take 1 scary, potentially lethal occurrence, give it a calm official title, repurpose said title as the name of a rock band. I like the hyper-rational badassery that results.

Mechanical Plague

(June 2, 2019) The invasion has begun. I welcome our robot overlords.

Sci-Fi Fantasy Horror

(May 2, 2015) I’m not a fan of genre classification, but I admit this is my default section of the bookstore and where any books of mine would likely be shelved. Is there such a thing as “Speculative Rock”? [My first novel, the aforementioned The Gospel According to St. Rage, released a little over a year later.]

Sick Sad World

(April 23, 2016) See above, re: those damn wizards.* (This one reminds me of a recently published post-electoral dystopian blues, Ted Cruz Smiles and a Baby Dies, in which I have a story about the coming revolution.) [N.B.: a new version of that story, “Emma’s Knives,” was included in Shout: an Anthology of Resistance Poetry and Short Fiction (2020 Not A Pipe Publishing).]

* The same post included Blame the Wizards about whom I wrote: Maybe that’s the explanation for the awfulness so far this year: a wizard did a spell, taking Prince and Bowie, but leaving Trump and Cruz. Damn wizards.

Today I Caught the Plague

(March 21, 2012) This one seems to go with Not Dead Yet [featured on March 31, 2012 and in last week’s retrospective, April 4, 2020]. I like the complete sentence, apparently delivered with utter calm.

 

One last thing before you go: I share highlights from this blog in my quarterly author newsletter, The Storypunk Report, as well as news of what I’m writing and reading, upcoming events, and other goodies, including “Wizard in the Mosh Pit,” an exclusive short story just for subscribers. Click the link to check out the first six issues and subscribe here for future issues. (Or just follow the blog for your weekly dose of band names.)