Random Acts of Silence

Something Stirs

One day, when my stepson was ten years old, he arrived home from school in tears. When I asked him what was wrong, he told me that some older kids at school had cornered him, mocked him, beat him up, and called him a “fag”. One of them spit into his mouth. Why? Because he wore glasses. In telling me this story, my stepson seemed angry, not so much at the boys who had tormented him, but at himself. He referred to himself as “stupid” and “ugly”. And this is what bullying does: it shatters the confidence of children before they have even had a chance to fully develop it. Being so malleable and emotionally fragile at that age, they believe what they are told by their peers if they hear it often enough. Childhood is a minefield fraught with insecurity and uncertainty. We don’t yet know who we are…

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Worth reading, if you have the stomach for it.

If you are not familiar, Dana is an excellent author in her own right. I respect her for many reasons, and I enjoy her reviews.

Dana Stabenow


In the early twenties the Osage Nation becomes rich on the oil buried beneath their land in Osage County, Oklahoma, and then white men begin marrying Osages and killing them and all their family members so they could run off with the cash. The Osage call it the Reign of Terror, those years between 1920 to 1926, although evidence shows that it probably started at least three years before and continued for some time afterward.

The subsequent investigation by a nascent FBI revealed that everyone was in on it, the coroners, the undertakers, the police, it was a conspiracy of silence all the way up to Congress, who in their ineffable insufferableness collude with these greedy, racist, murderous assholes by deeming the Osage unfit to manage their own money and naming some of the actual murderers as the Osages’ guardians. It takes Osage Mollie Burkhart until 1941 to get that…

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Is it true that Donald Trump has unusually small hands? If so, what is the evidence?

Is it true that Donald Trump has unusually small hands? If so, what is the evidence? by Simon Moore

Answer by Simon Moore:

In the Madam Tussaud’s wax museum in New York, there’s a bronze cast of Trump’s hand. It’s been there since 1997 when the museum took impressions of Trump for their waxwork model of him.

The cast shows that Trump’s hand is 7.25″ long, measuring from wrist to tip of the middle finger. The average length of a male’s hand in the USA is 7.61″ long, making Trump’s hand in the bottom 15th percentile. This means 85% of all American men (and indeed 33% of all American women) have bigger hands than Trump.

This statistic in itself is a little misleading in that it flatters Trump. Trump claims to be 6′3″ tall, making him significantly taller than the average American man (at 5′9″). the 7.6″ hand size is for average sized men. Compared to men of his own size, Trumps hands would be even smaller in comparison, down to the bottom 5th (perhaps even lower) percentile. By comparison, I’m also 6′3″ but my hand size is 9″.

You can even print out and measure your hand against the great man himself:

It’s a shocking indictment of current American politics that the level of discourse has dropped to that of the schoolyard. My willy’s bigger than yours!

Is it true that Donald Trump has unusually small hands? If so, what is the evidence?

April 2017 Audiobook Giveaway of The Sting of the Wild

I admire Justin for his willingness to offer up his own body for pain experiments.

Tantor Media

“Schmidt’s tales will prove infectiously engaging even to entomophobes.”
Publishers Weekly Starred Review

In The Sting of the Wild, entomologist Justin O. Schmidt takes us on a journey inside the lives of stinging insects, seeing the world through their eyes as well as his own. Read the full description.

“Not only does he explain his Schmidt Sting Pain Index, wherein he rates the pain of numerous stings on a scale of one to four, but he also relates the fascinating natural histories of these animals.” —National Geographic


How to Win This MP3-CD Audiobook

  1. Send an email to contests@tantor.com
  2. Put the word “Ouch” in the subject line.

Entries must be received by April 30, 2017. Open to US only.


Congratulations to Ray Sutton, winner of last month’s giveaway of The Cyanide Canary! Thank you to all that entered.

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I have yet to be disappointed by anything this author has written. I don’t think you will either.


There’s been a bit of chat around about FUNGOID in the past few days. Here’s some thoughts from me on how it came about.

When the end came, it wasn’t zombies, asteroids, global warming or nuclear winter. It was something that escaped from a lab. Something small, and very hungry.

In this one you’ll find a chunk of Newfoundland, a fireman, some nasty rain, a bit of real science, a lot of unreal science, some Canadians, many cigarettes, some trucks, boats and planes, and plenty of spores, mushrooms and rot.

It’s for fans of John Wyndham, William Hope Hodgson and H P Lovecraft, and is a wee homage to a lot of the things I’ve loved since childhood. As such, its origins come from several different life strands.

There’s something a lot of people don’t know about me: I used to be a botanist. And no, it doesn’t mean I…

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Meeting Author Joe Hill is a Pleasant Experience

I have met this person twice, he is extremely nice, gracious and if you ever get a chance to meet him don’t pass it up.

He lives in New England with his children. His most recent book is: NOS4A2 Kindle Edition on sale today -09-28-2015, at least at Amazon.  Eerie, a bit scary and worth your time to read.

He’s very tall and oh so very handsome. He’s on twitter at times and keeps a blog on Tumblr.

The first time I met Joe, he was on tour for “Horns” now a movie with Daniel Radcliffe from Harry Potter fame. Since my copy of the book was in my Sony e-reader he signed it and drew horns on the back of it. My daughter had a copy of “Twentieth Century Ghosts” and a couple of other things that he signed for her.  At that time he wasn’t traveling with keepers like some authors do, he stayed at the table until all the people got their autographs, chats, pics, questions answered and were happy.

The last time I met him my daughter wanted to have our pic taken with him and I demurred because I’m ashamed of my weight. He said to me “Everyone is beautiful, come to Hug Harbor” and reached out and pulled me into a hug along with my daughter. He had to bend at the knees because we barely make it to 5′ 2″ and he’s a foot taller than us.  Thank you for that Joe, my daughter has a memory to treasure.

Super Nice man, his mom and dad raised him right. His father showed up too, you might have heard of him: Stephen King,  and I have both of their autographs on a quilt block.

I made Joe a quilt block representing a part of the Book NOS4A2 and I made myself a matching one – his dad signed on the left side of mine, and Joe signed on the left. I wasn’t aware until later that they have a policy not to sign on the same anything – or I wouldn’t have asked. So I have something that is unique and that I treasure.

Joe is also famous for his excellent comic book series, what they call today graphic novels ‘Locke and Key’. I highly recommend this, and it can be read on a tablet. I got mine from https://www.comixology.com/

Brain function ‘boosted for days after reading a novel’

Tom Avitabile


That was the headline above the by line by Tomas Jivanda in an article in The Independent last week.

He reported on a research study out of Emory University.  The essence of it is summarized in this sentence from the piece.

“Being pulled into the world of a gripping novel can trigger actual, measurable changes in the brain that linger for at least five days after reading, scientists have said.”

Here’s a new scientific postulate: Is the lingering effect enhanced and extended to say 10 or 20 days of mental optimization if the subject of said gripping novel is the brain itself?

Well, the world of my first, hopefully ‘gripping’ novel, was about the human brain itself.  It’s deep layers and the mapping of it. Therefore, if the average run of the mill novel with ‘great grip’ can increase your noodle powers for 5 days then certainly getting a grip…

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Can you hear me now?

One of my favorite authors, if you have never read Lawrence Block, you are missing one of the finest authors in the world.


eightmillionaudio“For those used to listening to crime stories on audio, [Michael] Kelly’s take on [Stephen King’s] Joyland might be jarring. The narrators of Lawrence Block’s Matt Scudder series, for example – Alan Sklar, William Roberts, Mark Hammer – explore every word as a threat, pummeling headlong toward finales composed of shock and sadness. (Only Block himself, on Eight Million Ways to Die, seems to get to the deep sorrow of the character).”

So writes Kevin Quigley in his fearnet.com review of Joyland. I quote it here not merely because it’s both (a) about me me me and (b) favorable, but because I find it reassuring after a couple of recent posts criticizing my narrative efforts as flat and undramatic, and lacking in the quality that can be imparted by a professional voice artist.

Neither critical response is invalid. A thing worth noting about audiobooks is that different styles work for…

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