August 25, 2014
I’ve been spending a lot of time with H.P. Lovecraft these days. The Kickstarter campaign for C is for Cthulhu, my Lovecraft alphabet book, is coming to a close, I recently participated in the Lovecraft Readathon at the Providence Public Library, and I’m editing and annotating a collection of his letters for a book due out this winter. It’s a whole lot of Lovecraft, so it’s no surprise that he showed up in my dreams last night. Brief, yes, but so textured and vivid it feels like a real memory.
I was sitting on the front steps of a beach house in southern Rhode Island, waiting for everyone inside to finish getting ready for a day at the beach. I had a glass of red wine and an English muffin with butter. It was sunny and warm, late summer. It was now, this day and age. A tall figure in odd clothes came walking across the lawn towards me. As he got closer I recognized him as H.P. Lovecraft, the man himself.
“Good morning, squire”, he said.
I moved my plate and glass over to make room for him on the steps next to me. It was obvious we were friends. No need for handshakes or formal introductions.
“Are you hungry?”, I asked. “You can have this or I can get you something from inside.”
“Wine and bread for breakfast?!”, he said, the words mixed with a laugh. “You complete Roman, you!”
I laughed with him.
He took a seat next to me on the wooden steps, let out a sigh, and wiped sweat from his face with a brown handkerchief he had in his pocket. He was young (my age at most), clean shaven, and he wore cotton overalls with a long suit jacket over them. The clothes made no sense, and I knew they were from another time. He smelled of mothballs and aftershave. His smile was warm, honest. He said “I spent the night thinking about your offer, and, well, I’ve decided to take you up on it. The only problem is, I haven’t any clothes fit for a day at the beach.”
I guess I had asked H.P. if he wanted to come to the beach with us, but I don’t remember that part of the dream.
“I’m sure we can find you something in the house”, I said. “I’m glad you’re here.”
His final words in the dream were said as we both stared at the saltwater pond that could be seen past the house across the street.
“So am I”, he said. “But I’m slightly nervous about it all. You see, I’ve never worn short pants before…”
August 20, 2014
August 18, 2014
Saturday night (August 23rd) I’ll be a guest reader at this year’s Lovecraft Readathon at the beautiful Providence Public Library from 7-10PM. I’ll be reading in the opening story, The Tomb, and the closing story, The Haunter of the Dark. There will be music by Ian Fitzgerald, Vudu Sister, and Haunt the House, as well as food and drink from local vendors. Should be a really great time. Hope to see you there.
Tickets and more information can be found here: Lovecraft Readathon
July 30, 2014
It’s really happening. After a year of anxiety, C is for Cthulhu, the alphabet board book I created with artist Greg Murphy, and Tyler James of ComixTribe is finally available to pre-order via Kickstarter. I can’t tell you how proud I am of this book… but if I could it would certainly be WICKED.
Info on all the fun can be found here: OMG I NEED THIS!
April 29, 2014
This Saturday, May 3rd, I’ll be at Jetpack Comics’ world famous Free Comic Book Day celebration in Rochester, NH. It’s gonna be a big one, dudes. Like…whoa — free comic books for days.
My pals (and fellow Massholes) Chris Golden (Baltimore, Sons of Anarchy) Tom Sniegoski (Bone, Vampirella) and Tyler James (The Red Ten, Epic) will be there, too. We’ll all have a bunch of stuff to scribble on for you.
Plus, you know, Rebekah Isaacs (Buffy) and those Ninja Turtle guys will be there. I’m sure at least a few people are excited about those three :)
This year I get my very own Free Comic Book Day issue: SCAM: CROSSWORDS #0, written by me, and drawn by Joe Mulvey. Even if you can’t make it up to Rochester, your local comic shop should have them to give away. It looks like this:
Looks badass, right? You see the blood on his mask, and the stuff on fire? Blood AND fire = Bad. Ass. BANG! BANG! BANG! GHAAAK! *bleeds to death*
I’m also bringing along early copies of my new MAGIC: THE GATHERING trade, tons of MAGIC single issues, and at least a few of pretty much everything else I’ve ever worked on. So drop by, say hello, and let’s celebrate. It’s our day.
Saturday is my older son’s 13th birthday. I’m bringing him along, and he loves punches on the shoulder…a lot.
March 31, 2014
It’s been raining for three days on the South Coast of Massachusetts. This morning that rain turned to fat globs of shaved ice for a just a few minutes while I was in the car. Normally that would piss me off. Sitting here, on the edge of April, seeing snow pelt my windshield — enough’s enough, you know? But it didn’t piss me off, not today. Today it made me smile.
Baseball is back. And for those of us in the north east, today is the official end to what was a long (and sometimes bleak) winter. At 3:05 this afternoon my beloved Red Sox play the first game of the 2014 season that matters. Everyone gets a fresh start today. We start at 1 and count to 162 between now and September 28th. And hopefully, with a little luck, our boys of summer will be playing well into the fall again.
“Everyday is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday’s success or put its failures behind and start over again. That’s the way life is, with a new game every day, and that’s the way baseball is.” Bob Feller
October 9, 2013
July 30, 2013
My involvement in Boston Comic Con has gone from “I’ll just be walking around, visiting pals and buying stuff” to “I have two signings scheduled, and will be there the entire weekend.”
Here’s where I’ll be:
1:00-2:30 at the IDW booth signing with Charles Wilson III, Chris Ryall, Gabe Rodriguez, and Joe Hill.
5:00-5:45 (Spectator) Writing Comics Panel with Steve Niles, Frank Tieri, Tom Sniegoski
2:00-2:45 (Spectator) Locke & Key Panel with Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodriguez, Chris Ryall
3:15-4:30 at the IDW booth signing with Charles Wilson III, Chris Ryall, Gabe Rodriguez, and Joe Hill.
I’ll also be signing OXYMORON at the ComixTribe booth, and visiting with all the people I wish I got to spend more time with.
See you there!
July 13, 2013
I like to cook. Some of you know that. I also like to read about food, and I sometimes write stuff, so doing a blog post about food seemed like an idea that made sense. This is part 1. Will there be a part 2? I don’t really know. I hope so, but I have this awful habit of starting things and never finishing them. Anyway, I thought a good place to start would be the classic dude food: meat and potatoes. I don’t want to brag, but I cook a steak so damn good that when you’re done eating it you’ll try to kiss me on the mouth. (Right after you stop crying sweet tears of pleasure, of course.)
It’s a classic. We all grew up eating it in one form or another. Most of us are accustomed to eating overcooked meats with baked or mashed potatoes served with a side of green beans and some gravy if we were lucky. Pure shit, really. And it’s a shame because it really doesn’t take a whole lot of skill to do this right.
Let’s get started, huh?
Part 1: Tools
Like any job worth doing, you need the right tools. People spend stupid amounts of money on fancy stuff for their kitchen that will either never get used or, even worse, never improve the quality of their cooking. Here’s what I used for this dish:
1) 8-inch Wusthof chef knife
2) 13-inch Calphalon deep saute’ pan
4) Cutting board
5) 10 inch non-stick frying pan
That’s it. 2 pans, 2 tools, and a cutting board.
Part 2: Ingredients
1) 16-ounce organic, grass-fed New York strip steak
2) Sliced Shiitake mushrooms
3) Small golden potatoes
4) Rendered duck fat
5) A handful of cherry tomatoes
6) Salt & Pepper (Ahhh, push it)
7) Sprig of rosemary
8) Smoked paprika
9) Olive oil
Your ingredients will look something like this. Sorry for the crappy photo.
Okay, so the first thing you want to do is preheat your oven to 400 degrees. You’re going to want it to be ready when you’re done searing the steak on the pan. Next, salt and pepper the steak. Don’t use Morton’s salt that comes in the blue cardboard can, get something coarse. Same goes for the pepper. Now, you’re going to want to sprinkle a little on and think that’s enough, but it’s not. COVER THE MEAT WITH SALT. Trust me, most of it comes off in cooking and you’re going to need a lot to penetrate the surface and add any real flavor. It should look exactly like this if you’re doing it right:
Seems like a lot of salt, huh? It’s not. It’s just enough to do the job.
While the meat is sitting in its salt bath and coming up to room temperature, you can start the potatoes. Put a few tablespoons of the rendered duck fat into the 10-inch frying pan and melt it. It’ll shimmer and smoke a little when it’s ready for the potatoes. Slice the potatoes into quarter-inch thick slices and toss them in when the fat tells you it’s time.
Here’s what rendered duck fat looks like. This stuff can be tough to find, not expensive, just not easy to get your hands on. I get mine at Persimmon Provisions in Barrington, RI. It’s a great little specialty shop, worth the trip if you want to stock up on some amazing food. I think this was $3 or something.
Toss the potatoes so they’re evenly coated, dust with the smoked paprika, cover the frying pan and reduce the heat to medium high. You’ll want to give them a toss a few times while the steak is cooking so they brown evenly. Dice the rosemary up into very fine pieces and throw it in towards the end of the cooking, which should be around 10-12 minutes.
They’ll look like this if you’re doing it right
While all this is going on you can get the oil hot in the big skillet or saute’ pan. I use olive oil, but anything will do. Just like the duck fat you want it to shimmer and smoke a little just before you lay the meat in. I sear the steak for 3 minutes on each side. No more than that because you’re going to finish it in the oven. After the first side I added the mushrooms and a handful of cherry tomatoes. Why the tomatoes, you ask? I’ll tell you. For one, they add some color, but they also add some moisture that will mix with the mushrooms and be used as a topping for the steak when it’s done. It should look something like this when you’re searing the second side:
When you’re done searing the second side, throw the whole pan in a 400 degree oven for another 5 minutes. DO NOT FORGET ABOUT IT. 5 minutes is enough time to perfectly finish the meat to medium rare, burst the tomatoes, and finish cooking the mushrooms. After 5 minutes pull it out of the oven and remove the steak from the pan so it stops cooking. Let it rest on your cutting board for about 10 minutes. This is key to the experience. While it’s resting, break up the tomatoes and mix them with the mushrooms to form a chunky, super tasty gravy.
If you did it right, your dish should look something like this:
The potatoes are golden with crispy edges and the steak is a perfect medium rare. Ladle the mushroom mixture over the steak and enjoy.
There you have it. Meat and potatoes done right in less than a half hour.