‘Cyber-Hippie’ Michael Hart dies

Micheal HartSad to see that at the ridiculously young age of 64, Michael Hart, founder of Project Gutenberg, was found dead at his home in Urbana, Illinois. Described by admirers as an ardent technologist and futurist, Michael Stern Hart was to the eBook what Grove Press’s Barney Rosset was to print—making out-of-print literature available to millions, here and now.
Project Gutenberg, begun by Hart on July 4, 1971 with the typing of the Declaration of Independence and downloaded by six people over the Arpanet, grew in increments over the first two decades. To support the project, Hart worked a variety of odd jobs, furnished his house from garage sales, built his own computers from discarded components, and avoided doctors. By 1989, Project Gutenberg had completed its 10th eBook, but it was only after typing in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland that Hart really saw the writing on the wall.  A bunch of kids he knew and their friends were so excited about reading Alice on the computer that they all climbed onto the one chair in front of the monitor, breaking the chair and  crashing them to the floor. Yet they still kept reading.

To say that Hart was encouraged was just one of the many understatements that could be applied to this larger-than-life guy. He began work with a new fervor, digitizing one literary text after another, convinced that the future of reading was electronic, and that one day we would be able to hold a world of words in the palm of our hands. From that day on, according to the LA times,  ‘any time anyone owed me a favor’ he said. ‘I said, ‘Here, type in some Hamlet.’

PG now offers more than 30, 000 free books in sixty languages. Today the most read ebook on Gutenburg is the Kama Sutra (25,000) downloads, followed by The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (18,000) downloads. According to the NY Times, it relies on the work of volunteers who scan and proofread without pay, adding to its list at the rate of hundreds of books each month.

The NYT quotes Hart as saying in 1997, after having created only 313 ebooks on PG, that he was ‘just waiting for the world to realize I’d knocked it over’. A year later, Wired Magazine named Hart as one of the 25 people who were ‘actively, even hyperactively inventing tomorrow.’ Steve Jobs was included on that list.

The Furies

For  a class I’m taking on The Oresteia, I’m loving the Furies, the  most ancient of the Greek goddess, from the age of Titans. Born from the  blood of Uranus when his son, Chronos, chopped off his penis…  basically vengeful witches sprung from the dick of a bleeding ass.
For a class I’m taking on the Oresteia, I’m loving the Furies,
ancient goddess from the age of Titans. Born from the blood of
Uranus when his son, Chronos, chopped off his penis…
basically vengeful witches sprung from the dick of a
blooding ass
I just wish I could come up with something half as good,
vengeful, bloody, passionate, tormented… you don’t
want to piss these ladies off.
And this is Dali’s portrayal, nothing comes close to it.

Ink Launch

Where: Petersham Bowling Club

When: August 5, 2011

What: Jammin, Jammin, hope you like Jammin too.
(I was too nervous and got too smashed to read, but folks got up on stage for me. Too bad the pictures didn’t come out, but picture this: my son, the genius artist, Jack Breukelaar, and the talented Wyatt Moss-Wellington of the Lunch Mothers, up on stage doing Betty Davis Eyes as a tribute to Union Falls. They’d kept it a secret, and it was. Very.

Oh, and Karen Hewitt, who edited came all the way up from Melbourne and also hit the stage (another stage, much later on) with some Union Falls Meatloaf. Yah!

J.S. Breukelaar, InkSome pics from the big night.

Ink, J.S. Breukelaar

J.S. Breukelaar, Ink

Ink, J.S. Breukelaar

J.S. Breukelaar, Ink

Matt Revert and Lisa Thatcher at Ink

7 Lisas by Swan; and bad news bosses.

I’m liking LisaLisaLisaLisaLisaLisaLisa, by Swan, at New Dead Families. It’s absurd, but not heartless, the emotion and humor ring true. And funny, like when he does this: ‘Dear Lisa, is it cold there? Do you miss me? You’re so good and pretty and nice. I mean fastidious, punctual and thrifty…’ and he only does it twice. Which is kind of elegant.

I’m hating terrible bosses. Four people have told me stories about their terrible bosses today. Really terrible. Slaverous bottom-line flunkies. Fly them. If only.

Lion Man selected for Women Writing the Weird

The team from Dog Horn Publishing have selected one of my first published stories, Lion Man, to be including in their upcoming international anthology. So very very cool.

Short stories are still so hard for me. I guess they’re just hard. Doesn’t mean they’re not the best best thing. I’m reading some now, and while they’re fun, they just don’t have that ‘crap, what just bit me’ factor. Reading a great story should make you feel like you’ve been tapped on the shoulder and when you look up there’s no one there. Like you’ve been touched by something and changed forever. Short stories should be startling. Period. So starting now, here is the Holy Shit story of the Week.

Twelve Arrows, by Stephen Graham Jones

Only rock n roll

The great thing about having clever friends who send you their work is that you get to read it ‘in the raw’, half-baked and oozing with promise and hope and so much life that you will remember the joy of reading it in this state—as a .docx or an attachment or as half-toned pages smeared with the remains of the dinner you stopped eating in amazement mid-forkful—long after the plaudits and glossy cover-art and royalties turn it into a hot property.

For a brief few moments before all that, it’s just art.

New Story at Fantasy Magazine

Union Falls is live, here, at Fantasy Magazine.

‘I finished the story and it was close, but not there. For some reason this disturbed me more than any other story that I’d written. It meant a great deal to me, and it was terribly important to get it right. But I knew it wasn’t. I showed it to two trusted readers, and they asked the right questions, and I started again, and that time it came out as it should, effortlessly, as if someone was telling me, rather than I was telling it. That’s when you know it’s true.’

You can read the rest of the interview here.