Thursday, April 27, 2017

Buzz Bunny by James LaFond; Q&A with Author

© 2017 James LaFond

What do you get when you cross The Wire, Watership Down and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's nest? You get James LaFond's novella Buzz Bunny. This is the story of Tamar, a reserved boy with an active imagination and the target of harrowing bullying by the Simpson boys. Tamar is befriended by another victim of the Simpson's, recently reincarnated as a telepathic rabbit, and the two set out to exact their revenge.

LL: James, Tamar is tormented at school, on the bus, in the park, and his own home is no refuge. Is there anywhere in Baltimore a kid can relax? Is this why they all get high all the time? Now that I think about it, Tamar did have some peace and quiet in the library, but somehow I doubt there are huge crowds there.

JL: There is no safe place for a boy in Baltimore—none. I invented the library sanctuary in a whimsy.

LL: Are you surprised that these types of revenge killings don't happen more often than they do?

JL: I am saddened that these types of revenge killings do not happen regularly.

LL: Have you ever had a pet?

JL: There was Friskie, our hero dog, a beagle-fox terrier mix who survived a shooting, bit a hornet in half that was menacing us little tykes, survived a mauling by a mixed Cywolf-hound and was a true family pet from 2 to 17 years. There was Ace, my flaky stray mutt who went insane after her puppies died and had to be put down. There was Buddy, who was my four-legged pal, a Border Collie-Terrier mix who I saw get hit by a truck. Took the bumper right in the head and became mean thereafter and served as a good watchdog for my stepmother after I moved to Baltimore and he went the rest of the way nuts.

Then there was Bear, who was six inches long when I got him, a Manchester terrier who weighed 15 pounds and broke a 20-30 pound choke chain. I kept him on a 30 yard chain run in the large yard of the Baltimore house I rented with an 80-pound test choke chain, resulting in him repeatedly snapping the swing-set chain I used for his run as he ran after larger dogs who came around while his love—the Germen shepherd bitch next door, was in heat. Once, as she walked around him—her owners let her wander the yard, which she did not leave—but as he was too short to mount her, he looked at me for help and whine-snarled. I chained him by the porch and he barked aggressively. The giant gal came over and stood next to the porch and he repeatedly climbed on her back but kept sliding off onto the pavement. My wife thought I was a nut for doing this—but I was trying to help him out. Once I was eating my way through a pizza at 1 a.m. after work when I heard his run snap again as he went after a large Irish setter. I—in bare feet, shorts, and nothing else—then began chasing him around Cedonia as he chased this poor 100 pound dog, eventually treeing the poor thing on his master’s porch. Bear then led me on a merry chase. As I tried to cut him off over a curb I skidded onto my chest in the middle of White Avenue and noticed that he stopped and looked to see if I was okay. So I groaned and rolled over in a fetal position. When the little bastard started sniffing my face I grabbed his ass and carried him home while he tried to bite me.

Bear bit a neighbor girl in the face and Dante in the face—a mean little bastard. I gave him to a prison guard who had a pitbull and a German shepherd. I would walk by once a week to say high and when I came to the fence he would attack the two larger dogs until they backed off—only he would be petted by me, he being my owner after all. He had the most savage growl.

Big Rich, the prison guard loved, Bear, but when I came over to visit the last time, he said, “Jesus, I feel like the only white guy in the locker room—this little bastard loves you.”

That is my dog history. My wife had a number of Greyhounds she adopted but they were hers—Faye is like Duchess Dolittle, every animal that meets her becoming like men before a goddess.

Oh yes, once I returned into the bedroom to kiss her good night on my way to work after Bear had taken my spot in bed and heard him snarl like a gargoyle and dared not place my face close to the bed. You could not see this twerp in the dark—coal black.

Another time, I woke up on my morning off with one of those morning erections that plague younger men—yes, fellas, they eventually go away! As I walked to the bathroom and Faye groaned, “I hope my mother isn’t coming down the hallway”—she must have been channeling, because Bear jumped off the ground, jaws snapping, trying to rip my manhood off. I grabbed and spun and he took a piece of my tail instead.

Yep, that’s all my man-dog stuff.

I no longer have time for a pet.

LL:  Thanks, James.  Buzz Bunny is available in paperback, and as a PDF download.

Beyond the Ember Star by James LaFond

A team of four “time-jumpers” is being deployed 35,000 years into the past, tasked with a dual mission: to retrieve a Neanderthal child from Ice Age Europe, and to splinter Time itself. The four man team is being deployed with a device that will generate an alternate timeline if they manage to alter the course of pre-history, by somehow saving the Neanderthals from total extinction. The leader of this team was specifically engineered for this task. His handlers regard him and his three men as utterly expendable.

Ugly Sister is the only daughter of The Family’s dominant she. As the cold-time lingers longer than usual and fear of the Others dampens their hopes she comes to maturity. On the very night that she confronts Mother about her suitability to mate a great ember of a star bursts in the sky. Taking her adult name from this singular event Dawn Star sets off with The Family on a journey that will take them to the mouth of the Water Dread. Will her vision save them or will they perish at the hands of the ever-encroaching Others?

Available in paperback.

Monday, April 24, 2017

On Becoming Antifragile

James,

We have discussed offline Nassim Taleb's concept of antifragility, detailed in his book "Antifragile." Briefly the concept is that things may be fragile, that is, easily damaged; or they may be robust, that is, not easily damaged; but it is also possible to take the spectrum further, and look for things that are antifragile, that benefit from stress, attacks, or the passage of time. Taleb gives the example from Greek myth of the Hydra, which grows two new heads each time one is cut off. What are your thoughts on this characteristic?

Lynn

Lynn, thanks for stretching my brain space again.

What would my boxing coaches say about Taleb’s antifragile concept? In other words, if I had summarized the anti-fragile concept to them in a training session, what might they have said:

Reds Foley: “If you don’t learn to move that head they’ll soon be no room in there for those big ideas.”

Big Rich: “No shit, Sherlock—give me another round!”

Raphael: “Steel sharpens steel. We don’t sharpen our knives with silk pillows.”

Mister Jimmy: “Some genius got paid for saying that? I wonder if he’ll by my car. The transmission is shot.”

Mister Frank: “That’s the foundation of what we do here. I’d like to speak to this man. I’m sure I could learn something from someone smart enough to figure that out without stepping in the ring.”

In other words Lynn, this is clearly known to anyone who has fought and who trains to fight or trains others to fight. There is all the equipment and technique to learn, the hundreds of rounds spent shadow boxing and meditating on method. However, one is not made fight ready until he is set to sparring with a partner.

That partner, if inept, and posing no danger to the fighter, will make this fighter weaker, will leach from him the essence he is trying to increase.

There are also numerous pitfalls to sparring, as many unproductive things that can crop up as productive. If sparring is mistaken for fighting, for instance, retardation and fixing of an incomplete skill set may occur. If conducted sensibly, sparring, with the right sparring partner, which means a partner who poses some level of threat, is the only way one progresses in the training environment in such a way as to translate to the fight venue. But even this, since there are various takes on the behavior that fall short of the actual fight, only achieves a portion of a fighter’s evolution.

Where the fighter gains mastery—the only place this occurs—is in that most dangerous setting where he can be stopped, injured, maimed or killed. Being stopped may cause a type of spiritual damage that is essential an injuring, maiming or killing of the fighting spirit.

The fighter is brought along in evolutionary steps to prepare him first for an “antifragile” immersion in sparring and then finally in competition where the nature of the more lethal environment will greatly increase his adaptive quality.

This antifragile notion is, perhaps tied to Nietzsche’s dictum, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

Admittedly, in the case of boxing, the coach is pre-selecting an antifragile—let’s call him hyper-adaptive, though “robust” is really perfect, to be cultivated as an evolving combatant in progressively more stressful training session and then fights, in such a way that the fighter literally ascends a transformative field of experience, a field of experience ritually and perilously far beyond the domesticated norms of the civilized experience.

LL:  James, you quote Nietzche, whom Taleb discusses at length in the book, and in your last paragraph you note the importance of pre-selection on the part of the coach, another topic he covers extensively.  It fascinates me to see intersections between seemingly disparate intellects, your insights particularly so, since you seamlessly combine both modes of inquiry, that of the intellect and that of the physical.

(c) 2017 James LaFond

Road Killing by James LaFond

"Road Killing" includes both "Planet Buzzkill" and "Fat Girl Dancing" by James LaFond, a pair of automotively themed short novels.

Available in both paperback and Kindle.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Fat Girl Dancing by James LaFond

"Fat Girl Dancing" is a story about a zaftig spinster, a lad approaching manhood, and a pristine muscle car that shelters our heroes from the false world around them.  Only James LaFond can touch your heart by weaving a beautiful love story between two searching souls out of threads of loss, hunger, ministry, murder and more.

Available in paperback and Kindle.

Easy Chair and Other Stories by James LaFond

Humorous Reader Generated Fiction by James LaFond

A Politically Incorrect Anthology of Humorous, Urban, Reader versus Writer, Horror Tales: 

Trent Jackson’s Profession 
Dat Gat ATV 
MissMiss In The Hood 
Easy Chair 
IED Davon and Liza Spaz 
And the classic, 
Whiteboy Wayne, Help A Brutha Out!

Available in both paperback and Kindle editions.

Big Water Blood Song by James LaFond

Charlie Robinson is a quantum physicist who gave up his quest to build a time machine, filed his notes away, and then dropped out to start a science-based church. He is soon contacted by time-travelers from the future who claim to be his disciples, and to have fabricated his device. Jay Bracken is a genetically engineered 24th Century time-hunter pre-based in the late 20th Century; a deep retrieval asset overdesigned to thrive in low tech environments, and believes he is a dumb jock from West Virginia. Daniel London, hardnosed ER surgeon facing his greatest test; providing health care for a stone-age society on the brink of military and biological holocaust. Three-Rivers is a visionary of the Longhouse-people. When an insane white savage comes into Mother Earth seeking He-who-makes-rivers Three-Rivers meets him by chance above the Shellfish-water. This Whiteman is possessed by a potent flesh-demon, brings dread warnings of evil invaders, and has been sent into the world by a thunder-conjurer from a mysterious place beyond the very Sunset. Three-Rivers simply must see this wonderful Sunset World!

Own "Big Water Blood Song" in paperback.