Tweaking the Wetmachine Shop

With help of master wetmechanic Gary, I’ve moved to a “shopping cart” thingy for selling my books here on Wetmachine. In related news, about which I’ll be blogging soon, is that I’ve decided to stop giving away PDF versions of my books. I’m selling them for $3 apiece now.

The shopping cart seems to choke on (physical) mailing addresses outside the USA, I’m unhappy to report. We’re working on getting that fixed, but in the meantime if you live outside the USA and would like to purchase any of the physical things in the shop, use the “Contact Us” form and we’ll figure out a way to do business.

In the simpler world of the “old style” Wetmachine, there was a hand-coded HTML form you could print out to buy books by check-in-the mail, and a hand-coded page for using paypal. Downloads of electronic copies were free. That approach was, frankly, a lot easier for me to deal with than this new shopping cart has been. Getting the shopping cart up and running has been a bit of a pain in the ass, frankly — and it’s not even fully functional yet.

But the world is changing. I now have four books for sale (one of them a pre-order) in several different formats of ebook. The combinatorics were already starting to get unmanageable. I certainly hope to have more and more things for sale in various formats soon (a fifth book, a sixth book, sweatshirts! coffee mugs! personalized Cadillac SUVs!–which would quickly make the combinatorics even worse– so a move to some kind of shopping cart approach was inevitable.

I’m not happy with the appearance of the shop nor with my own dilly-dallying: this should have been done months ago, and it ain’t nobody’s fault but mine.

My books Acts of the Apostles, Cheap Complex Devices and The Pains are still under Creative Commons License and you can find them elsewhere on the net. But on Wetmachine itself I’m going back to give away only sample chapters.

I’ll be blogging about my reasons for this “close the barn door after the cows are out” action in an upcoming post.

Meanwhile if you experience any problems with the wetmachineshop, please use the Contact Us form to let me know.

Wetmachine and dog walk into a bar. . .

So this guy walks into a bar with his dog. Puts the dog up on a barstool. Barkeep sez, “get that dog outta here.”

Guy sez, “Hey, this dog can talk.”
— “Go on.”
— “No really, he can talk. If he talks will you buy us a beer?”
— “Sure, if your dog can talk I’ll buy yz a beer.”
Dog don’t say nothin’. Pants, looks around, licks his balls.
—  “Get out.”
Guy sez, “You gotta ask him something!”

Barkeep thinks for a second. “OK. Who is the greatest baseball player of all time?”
Dog don’t say nothin. Keeps on saying nothin.

Barkeep throws the guy & dog out on their asses into the gutter.
Dog looks at the guy.

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Entering the E-book age, kicking and screaming

So after a nearly a decade of giving away PDFs of my first two books, I’ve decided to sell them as ebooks in different formats.

The technical hassles in so doing are bigger than they should be, although most of the problems are perhaps more in my head than in the format-conversion technology.

Mainly, I’m trying to convert PDF versions of my book to MS Word .doc format.

Any help in making me un-stupid in this process would be much appreciated.

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What's in my wallet, Part One

You’ve seen those TV advertisements for the “credit card” mafia front called Capital One. “What’s in your wallet?” they ask. Well, I used to have a Capital One so-called “credit card”1 in there , but I cancelled the account last year –I’m still paying down the balance– so I have nothing with their name on it in my wallet to remind me that I’m still their bonded serf. What I do have in my wallet is this:

photo of warn and folded pawn ticket.
It’s the pawn ticket from when my wife pawned her jewelry, including her wedding ring & family heirlooms, for cash to keep us going when we were homeless in 1996 when I was writing Acts of the Apostles.

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Tom Disch's God that Failed

Shortly after Harold Feld’s kind and gentle remarks on the death of Thomas M. Disch appeared here on Wetmachine, I received a nice note from Mr. Disch’s publicist, Matt Staggs, asking if we would like review copies of Disch’s last two books, a short novel called The Word of God, and a story collection called The Wall of America. I replied in the affirmative, and Matt was good enough to send copies to both me and Harold.

It’s taken a while, but I’ve finally prepared a review. Following the review I’ve included a bit of context regarding my conversation with Mr. Staggs.

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You Must Read These Books Because I Said So

One of my invisible New Year’s revolutions is to put up a Wetmachine post every day. Ideally I would like to put up something interesting or at least grammatical, but with time winding down and my intended piece for today not quite written, let me leave y’all with a reaction to this post by Goddess of the Porcelain Feet about “other people’s ‘must read’ book lists”.

I found her blog while ego-surfing; she analyzes this list by 18th Candidate (scroll down) in which my book Acts of the Apostles appears in this alphabetical context:

# Stowe, Harriet Beecher – Uncle Tom’s Cabin
# Styron, William – Sophie’s Choice
# Sundman, John F.X. – Acts of the Apostles
# Svevo, Italo – Confessions of Zeno
# Swift, Jonathan – Gulliver’s Travels

Not bad company, I must say.

Anyway what most amused me in 18th Candidate’s list was his commentary on the list (also reachable by the above link) about Harold Bloom’s list of “278 books you should have read by now:”

The list by Harold Bloom that starts off this node is perhaps the most pretentious and self-absorbed list of its kind that I’ve ever seen. While most of the books in it are good, to call it a list of books you should have read by now and include six titles by John Ashbery smacks of a world of self-absorbed cultural irrelevance. These aren’t 278 books you should have read by now, these are 278 books that a pretentious literary twat should have read by now.

Priceless. I’ll be on this guy’s list any day.

Phew, I got this post done before midnight, so I have posted two days in a row. If the time stamp says othewise, ignore it. Who you gonna believe — me or some damn machine?

Revolutions 2010: Booklife Unbound

So here it is January 1st, 2010 (at least according to my calendar–yours may vary by a day or two one way or the other), and by long standing tradition a time for New Year’s Revolutions. This is to be a big year for me –momentous, even–and hence a big year for all of us at Wetmachine– exalted Wetmechanics like me and mere lowly wetmachine readers like you alike. So pay attention. These revolutions could save your life.

Why is 2010 going to be so momentous, which is not to say (or is to say, depending on the definition you choose) portentous, you ask? Because 2010 is going to be the year that all my problems go away. Howso, you ask? First, during this year I will become a wildly successful writer. Achieving wild writerly success will make me financially solvent. Being financially solvent will reduce my worry and stress, and my health will improve as a consequence. Seeing that, the Fates will smile upon me and grant me a reprieve from all my other worries and problems.

Let me explain. Other than my own financial and physical health, I have only two other kinds of problems: (1) The world is going all to hell (global warming, Darfur, Wes Welker, etc), and; (2) people near to me have problems, and this causes me worry, which is a problem.

The first class of problem I solve by fiat, that is, by declaring the world’s going all to hell “not my problem”. That leaves only the second class, the problems by proxy. Because all problems stem from not having enough money, when I become financially unbound as a consequence of becoming a successful writer, I will give mass quantities of money to people close to me, and thus their problems will go away, which will make my problem of worrying about them evaporate, ipso facto. You see, I control my own fate! This is called New Age (or “Republican” or “magical”) thinking. It’s gonna work. Count on it.

So everything hinges on my becoming a successful writer. Very quickly. That may seem like an audacious goal, but thanks to Jeff Vandermeer’s “Booklife”, which I received as a Christmas present from Dear Wife (& to Booklife-related blog & web sites), I now have a plan by which to acheive such success as a writer (and person). See below for details. (You really should continue reading, by the way, since the more you read the closer you become to me, and thus more exigible for expiation of all your problems. As in tales of supplicants whose wishes were granted by touching Jesus’s robe. Not that I’m claiming divinity; just say’n.1)

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“The Beach Beneath the Pavement”: Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism as Drawing-room Farce

Herewith, another in my very occasional series of reviews of self-published books.

Roland Denning’s short novel The Beach Beneath the Pavement is a satirical portrait of would-be rogue Bernard Hawks, a journalist whose career is on the skids, in a paranoid, scaredy-cat world (represented by present-day London and environs) in which the leading, and indeed only, ideology is a mind-numbing consumerism premised on the very shaky nihilist pilings of “post-credibility”– a jumbled self-contradictory anti-theory full of portentous nonsense that everybody (except our protagonist Bernard and his Sancho Panza Dilwyn) uses to justify all manner of cowardice, stupidity, double-think, cruelty, and frittering-away of life.

Although some of the tropes in this book are Pynchonian, the writer whose works kept coming to my mind as I read The Beach Beneath the Pavement was Carl Hiaasen, whose broad-brush satires of venal bastards destroying the natural and cultural beauty of Florida, although they read sometimes like Three-Stooges scripts, burn with a white-hot rage. Like Hiassen, Denning is angry about the mindless destruction of something beautiful. Like Hiaasen, Denning can be sentimental and lazy. But also like Hiaasen, when Denning is funny, he’s very, very funny. I laughed ’til I thought I was going to be sick, even as bombs were going off in Olde London Towne every other chapter.

I recommend this book enthusiastically.

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Zappadan for Christmas!

As all compulsive readers of every single thing written on the internet know, Zappadan is that period of time, roughly corresponding to Festivus-advent and Festivus, between the anniversaries of the death and birth of Frank Zappa, and in which we now find ourselves.

So I think it’s worth pointing out to any googlers out there who may have stumbled upon our humble blog for the first time–and to our regular Wetmachine readers also, who might wear a tennis shoe or the occasional python boot– that Acts of the Apostles, that fantabulous novel by none other than moi, your host, is chock full of Zappoid goodness, not least of which being a significant plot point that revolves, as you might say, around the track layout of the double-LP Uncle Meat. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, Acts of the Apostles is the only novel in existence for which an absurdly deep familiarity with Uncle Meat (coupled with some understanding of the principles of VLSI design) will aid the reader in figuring out the central mystery of the book.

Acts of the Apostles is available for free download. Look to the left side of the screen. Have at it, Zappa-tistas! Eat it before Funobulax does.

This same book (along with its companions Cheap Complex Devices and The Pains) is available in printed ink-on-paper codex format for sale righty-chere on this very same blog you’re now a-readin’. Order now, and it’ll probably arrive at your place in time to put it under the Frankmas Tree.