I'm James Maxey, the author of numerous novels of fantasy and science fiction. I use this site to discuss a wide range of topics, with a heavy emphasis on cranky, uninformed rants about politics and religion and other topics that polite people attempt to avoid. For anyone just wanting to read about my books, I maintain a second blog, The Prophet and the Dragon, where I keep the focus solely on my fiction. I also have a webpage where both blogs stream, with more information about all my books, at jamesmaxey.net.


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Scion, Mountain Goats, More Angels

So, over the weekend I went out and bought a new (well, newish) Scion XB. These are boxy little cars by Toyota that get great gas mileage but also have a ton of room in them. Seriously, the head room in mine is the same as the headroom I had when I was driving around my Dad's Jeep Wagoneer. It's a funky, practical little car that I'm insanely happy with, except for the payments. Sigh. For most of my life, I've somehow managed to wrangle out of car payments, mainly due to driving one car, a Honda CRX, for 14 years and 240K miles. I would say that I drove the CRX into the ground, except that last I heard, it was still above ground an rolling. But a few years back in a moment of weakness I sold it. The CRX was a zombie car--still moving under it's own unholy power, but visibly decaying, and making strange groaning sounds. I tried to duplicate my CRX experience a few years back by bying a Honda Prelude. The Prelude proved to be somewhat less dependable than the CRX. I was constantly having to do repair work on it--new radiator, AC work, I had a mysterious oil leak, and then, two weekends ago, the whole car just died on me. The starter would turn, but the motor wouldn't start. It left me stranded on the roadside--something the CRX never did once in all the years I owned it. (The CRX did once leave me stranded in my own driveway, but that's a far more forgivable sin.) So, for a while I'd been thinking of trading in the Prelude. I had several cars I was considering, but the Scion was the one I really wanted. The Prelude had one last trick waiting for me, however. When I went to the mechanic to pick it up after it's latest repairs, it caught the back bumper of a truck as I was pulling out of a parking space and put an impossible to ignore dent in side of the car. (I know, I know, I shouldn't blame the car, it was my fault, technically.) So, in one careless second, I knocked at least a thousand bucks off the value of the car as a trade in. I could have repaired the car, but was told it would be $900--it just didn't seem worth the bother. The car had the stench of doom upon it. I shall not miss it.

My new Scion has lighted cupholders--a feature I mocked when I saw it on the Scion website--and a feature I didn't actually know I was buying, and don't believe I was charged for, since it isn't mentioned in the sales papers. It turns out, if you don't pay for them, lighted cupholders are the coolest damn thing on Earth.

EXCEPT: The actual coolest damn thing on Earth has to be the Sunset Tree, the newest Mountain Goats album. I've loved the Mountain Goats for years. John Darnielle has this terrific mixture of humor, rage, panic, and sweetness in his lyrics that I can't get enough of. The Sunset Tree. Available now. Check it out.

Finally: I've dug out "Angel Hunted," which may actually be the first James Maxey story. It's not the first story I wrote--probably at least two dozen were penned before it. But it is the first story where I can read it and see the writer I wanted to be finally coming out. It's a quirky little tale in which Albert Einstein gets into a fist fight with the angel Gabriel. Ears get bitten. It's a love story. The funny thing is, I don't think I ever submitted it anywhere. It was 13,000 words long, and I never felt that I had polished it to submission levels. Eventually, I just forgot about it. But I found it last week and read it and find it's flaws easily fixable. The basic guts of the story still work for me. Hopefully, working on another angel project will help get my mind tuned back into novel mode.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Cancer Treadmill

A few months back (in a post I've since deleted, since it was part of my angel story and I very ghoulishly intend to market the story), I mentioned my girlfriend Laura's cancer treatment. I said that the irony was it was possible to judge how well a cancer therapy was working by how healthy Laura felt--if she felt okay, and could leave a more or less normal life, the therapy wasn't doing much. If she felt crappy, barely able to get out of the bed in the morning, the therapy was nibbling away at tumors. If she feels healthy, the cancer feels healthy.

Since January, Laura has been on a hormonal therapy and has felt great. Great may be an exageration, but she felt normal, at least. She was actually able to go back to work, if only part time. Alas, the pattern has held true. During this time, the tumors have continued to grow.

So, now she's back on the cancer treadmill, starting today on a harsher chemotherapy. She'll be in the hospital almost 8 hours today, although future infusions will only take about 2 hours. Again, Laura isn't someone who wants to hear statistics or odds. I, of course, compulsively research them. The good news is, I've found success stories for the drug. Some people with stage four cancers like Laura's have gone into remission on the treatment. Some people also report having very few side effects, and can tolerate the treatment very well. So, there's always hope-this could be the one that breaks the pattern. This could be the chemo that zaps tumors and leaves the rest of her alone. The tough thing is that it takes months before we find out. They did a cat scan last month--but then they wait 3 months before doing another to check for results. It used to be that, when asked which one of Superman's powers I'd pick if I could have just one, I'd say flying. It was a no brainer. Now, though, damn, I'd give anything for his x-ray vision.