Another Spring, Another Interview with David Leo Rice

Maybe it’s not only in the spring that I interview David, but that does seem to be when he gets his books published. It was (as ever) a really lovely conversation, and another really wild, great book to talk about:

I wanted the style and structure of the book to create this frustrated yearning for something definitely true in the reader. Almost to draw out the reader’s latent fascism, a desire to force a definite meaning onto the events that are occurring, no matter how much violence that requires. So the question becomes what’s good and what’s bad about this yearning?

There’s something natural about wanting to know what’s real and where you stand, and wanting to stand for something that endures throughout time and context, whether that’s honor or community or your word or faith, just as there’s something natural about wanting to understand the book you’re reading, and trusting that all the pieces will fit together in a satisfying way. These things aren’t intrinsically bad, but I wanted to ask, How do they turn bad? Why, in the 2020s, do we fear these desires in ourselves and others?

You can read the full interview over at X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, and I recommend that you do!

Cheap, Simple, Effective: No, It Wasn’t a Django Site After All

So, Two Page Tuesday #1 happened, and it was fucking marvelous. Although one of the readers unfortunately couldn’t make it in the end, we had two folks agree to step in (one of whom I’d never even met before), and the readings were all super different and super excellent (which was the hope, the goal). We had I think twenty people show up, which was great, and then there was plenty of discussion, revelry, and general merry-making both before and after (which, too, was the hope, the goal). I could not have been happier with it; I’m buzzing a little just thinking about it.

This is not a post about that, though. This is a post about a stupid website,

I’d had a lot of momentum earlier in the year for building out a site for the readings and social events in Django, the web framework we use at work. I’d previously written Alia’s bakery website in Flask,[1] but I had grown rather fond of the "batteries included" admin views you get out of the box. I also figured, at the time, that it would be good for me to practice, because, you know, "work" and "professional development." Turned out that I instead spent much of the early part of this year writing a different Django app for work, and so did not want to then spend the rest of my time working on, you know, another Django app.[2]

But the reading went so well, I thought: hey, let’s have a fucking website.

And the idea was a good one: I could use the admin views to manage the events, the locations, the readers, and — most importantly — the email list. Because you see, right now, it’s just a very long BCC string that I copy from email to email. This is no fun! Or rather, it’s very error prone.[3] So I was going to do a "real" mailing list.

What had given me new energy, also, was that my fancy new webhost changed their pricing recently, and I could have sworn I read that you could get Postgresql backends for basically free now (you need this as a database for your Django app), so I thought: great, let’s get going.

So I spent maybe the last week, week and a half, building out the website.

The longest part of this is always the design part for me. And let’s be honest: it doesn’t look bad, but it’s not particularly great either. I don’t think the colors actually mean anything in this context, but hey: I needed something and I got it done.

I was all set to deploy earlier today, when I went to go set it all up and realized: fucking hell, I do need to pay for this shit after all![4] Bummer, bummer. What am I to do? Pay $7/month indefinitely? No thank you.

And here’s the rub: what I actually needed the backend database for was to keep a record of the emails for the mailing list. It was going to be fun to "roll my own" and all of that. But I can… also just keep sending emails from my personal email address. I can also make an "organization" email address. Fuck, I can even get an email address through Dreamhost for $2/month and just automate things that way. Or even better, I can do what I’d always threatened to do and make these announcements solely via snail mail.[5]

So I spent about an hour over lunch reworking the site into a plain-Jane Jekyll site, same as this one,[6] and shot it over to Render as yet another very-free static site.

Was all the Django work wasted effort? Eh, yes and no. Mostly no, since I was able to use all the "hard parts" (i.e., the design) in the static site. And writing models as simple as the ones I was writing is trivial enough. So, we’ll call it "practice" and ask my boss for a raise next year.

And in the meantime, we’ve got a website, baby. See you on the 13th.

1. I still <3 flask.
2. Because it’s much cooler to spend your time learning Rust instead, right? Right? RIGHT?
3. See me leaving my wife off the invitation to the actual reading :facepalm:
4. The web app hosting is free, the database is not, which is how they get’cha!
5. Help! I need an artist!
6. Because I’m familiar with it and am therefore fast, and also its data files plus templating can more or less be a drop-in replacement for what I was doing with my Django models, even though I really, really hate YAML (but hate JSON more, so).

Posts I Did Not Write in the Last Month

At best I get around to writing something for this blog like, what, once a month? Less? I suppose it depends on the year and season. And now, for example, it’s mostly "bike season," which means that I’m spending less not-work time at the ol' text editor and more time looking at bike parts on the internet (I mean: riding my bike). Still. Though I can’t seem to get my shit together to actually get any of these written down, I do occasionally still have ideas, and as a deeply lazy way of getting them off my brain-plate, here are some of them:

  • I am not prepared for brevet season but I am excited nonetheless

  • Rewriting my desk setup, and rewriting it again, to foil the cable-chewing kitten

  • Mildly-Instagram-famous person spotted at local bar, Danny is not sure whether to say hi or not, decides not to, regrets this later

  • Two Page Tuesday, results[1]

  • Why it’s important to understand what you’re buying (an unpublishable letter)

  • I think I like rust (the language, not on my bike)

  • [redacted]

  • Tmux → Zellij and relearning keymaps

  • 400k in < 18 hours, or: following Tom’s wheel

  • A time for rest and relaxation

Of that last one, perhaps it’s worth saying a little more, namely that I was fucking tired, in a global way, in a cumulative-load kind of way, by the end of this spring. I was sick for like two weeks in March, and then we were either hosting guests or traveling nearly every week and/or weekend, and work was busy, and I was trying to flog myself into some kind of catch-up shape for the bike season, and a number of other small, niggling things, that finally caught up to me (for, as is often pointed out: I am no longer in my early twenties). So I have been resting, focusing on relaxing, in other words recovering, and it has been so nice. It means that I’ve done less than maybe I could have,[2] and though it’s taken a good month and a half or so, I’m starting to feel more myself again, starting to have energy to chase any attractive-looking car that passes by the yard (in this metaphor I am a dog), and it’s nice. I’m still feeling a little fuzz-brained, at times, and I’m not always as immediately articulate as I’d like to be, but hey: like writing a novel, like riding your bike for a long time, it’s a process.

And thus, instead of anything actually interesting to read, we have a list of things that might have been interesting to write about instead.

1. This one I should actually write, though.
2. Although, relatively speaking, I’ve still done quite a lot

The Inagural Two Page Tuesday


May it not be the last! It’s going to be a reading! Except it’s mostly a social thing,[1] by which I mean that it’s going to be a very short reading. And then, if my very nefarious plan works out, people will stick around, talk to each other, maybe meet some new people, maybe have a nice time. I don’t even really give a fuck if anybody talks about writing or books or anything (I mean: I give a fuck that they appreciate the readers, of course. You’ve always got to give props to the readers).

I’ve been sort of haphazardly "piloting" a writer/lit folks meet up or social thing since January, and this is a step towards creating some kind of formalization around it.[2] I like the idea of keeping the non-reading weeks/months (timeline, schedule, cadence, etc., horrifically TBD) casual, smaller, whatever, but I also want to throw a good, big-tent kind of party. I struggle with this generally, the opposing impulses of bringing people together intentionally (viz who it is that I’m bringing together) and the bringing together of everyone I can find, harangue, meet by accident. This is going to be an attempt at a kind of balance.

We’re doing it at the Banshee[3] because a long time ago I used to work for/run an organization called Write on the DOT[4] and they’d let us do open mics there for free.[5] The Banshee also used to be our "program bar" in grad school, where we would go after workshop.[6] It’s a good place! Not cheap, exactly, but if you know what to drink (Narragansett) you’ll be OK, and the food is pretty good. It’s also partly a thank-you to all the DOT folks who’ve been generous enough to come to my side of the river to hang out these last few months.

We’ve got some great readers — six of them. The deal, also, is that they have to (I mean "get to") read up to two pages (double spaced) of new work. So it’ll be fresh shit. It’ll also be a pretty short reading, because long readings are long and I want it to primarily be about community — you share a little bit, but mostly you ask about how work is going and what TV you’ve been watching.

Anyway, I hope people show up. I’ve emailed some of the local grad programs and the local literary event aggregator and I’m posting this here, and on what little social media I have left, so. But hell: even if it’s just me and the six readers, we’ll have a good time.

(But also: please come. It’ll be fun, I can basically promise.)

1. Which means, for now, it’s at a bar, became I am not creative enough to think of a third place that’s open late that’s not a bar that would let us do a reading for free.
2. I’m sorry if you’re in the area and I haven’t told you about these; I’m doing my best, and also I’m sorry.
3. I say "we" like there is someone other than me to share responsibility for this if it sucks, or if it is good.
4. Which appears to still be going on alright!
5. Fun fact: the photo I "edited" for the "poster" is from one of these open mics. I think this is the one I made Drew do a Gertrude Stein-based exercise with me for, except I don’t think he ended up actually using the prompt I’d come up with. As usual, his shit was excellent in any case. I think mine probably went on a little too long.
6. And definitely not where I would drink whiskey and pout about what that one professor said. Definitely not. Never.

Filters in Taper #12

Taper #12 is out today, I’ve got a piece in there called "Filters".

I’ve got to run to a meeting, so I’ll just copy-paste what I put in the "view source readme":

This began as more of a “Hey! You can do this in JavaScript now?!” project.

That said, the idea came while looking at my friend’s collection of vintage black and white concert posters, and thinking about my blog site’s new “analog” styling, requiring all the images to be filtered in grayscale.

Also, image editing software is usually horrifically expensive, and I thought it might be fun to see what could be done in less than 2kb in a modern browser. There’s no “save” or anything (I suppose you could take a screenshot), so this is by definition “exploratory.” A one-off. A playground. I like that aspect of it.

The text is more or less after a quote by David Hockney: “Photoshop came out of painting, and now it’s going back to painting.” The development cycle for this little app was very “try one thing, try again” and so I was thinking about cycles as such, how things begin as one thing, become something else, then perhaps later return to their source(s).

Anyway — something I made and would like to share about.