Some New Things to Watch

In the two weeks I’ve been in California my girlfriend Alexis has gotten me into a few things I never thought I would get into otherwise, so I want to discuss them a little bit now.

My girlfriend is a huge fan of the YouTuber VanossGaming, and usually if we’re hanging out in her room or talking or whatever she turns it on for sound. Pretty much every hack, mod, and background one can get for video games all show up in these random game-set skits, and honestly without having seen it with her first I never would have got into it.

Several years ago I watched a film called The Raven starring Vincent Price and Boris Karloff. Very loosely based on Poe’s poem, it was a mixture of comedy, horror, and fantasy that was typical of Old Hollywood. Alexis introduced me to a much newer Raven film, completely unconnected to the earlier film, but to me much more entertaining. Speaking to my deep love of literature and the macabre, The Raven is the story of the hunt for a 19th Century serial killer who bases his crimes off of Edgar Allen Poe’s stories. Poe himself, played by John Cusack, is summoned to aid in the investigation and finds himself on a perilous track towards his own destiny. It was a very fresh and entertaining departure from the Star Wars and comic book movie binge I’ve been stuck on for many years, and honestly the first movie that kept my eyes glued and my heart racing.

The last show I’ve been watching here on almost a daily basis isn’t that exciting–Bob’s Burgers. I’ve seen my dad watching it from time to time back in Michigan but never paid much attention to it. Alexis turned on Episode 1 and I was hooked. My burger fanaticism aside, it reminds me so much of Family Guy and American Dad, which I got into when I was in the Marine Corps and have followed ever since. The weird, exaggerated, raunchy comedy always appealed to me, and now I have another show to binge watch over and over and over again to take a break from “normal life”.

So that–and cooking and Pokémon–is how I spend my time while Alexis is away at work. All in all, not a bad way to pass the time at all.


Anxiety and Avoiding People

Non-Euclidean Sofa

My home does not feel like a prison. It doesn’t feel like a coffin both because I am not dead and because I cannot afford to line the walls with silk sheets. I love my home. I also love swimming, but if something was standing at the edge of the pool and kept me from getting out of the water, even being a place I love can’t keep me from feeling trapped.

Anxiety is weird because, to someone who doesn’t share the same anxieties, it probably would look like I get nervous for no discernible reason. But usually I can figure out the reason. People exist, and today they were existing right outside the door and on the little patch of grass and while cooking and eating and having a happy night and all this… probably looks ridiculous. But it’s hard to come out into a world when you’ve constantly…

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Interested in A New Genre

When I was a kid visiting my aunt and uncle in Hastings, Michigan, my favorite thing to do was gaze for hours at Uncle Rob’s many bookcases. I can’t tell you how many great authors I discovered on those shelves. John Dos Passos, Jim Harrison, Thomas Babington Macaulay…but the one author that intrigued me the most (but so far even to this day have not read) was Louis L’Amour. He had an entire leather bound collectors set of the great Westerns that he didn’t allow me to touch. That was a bit of a buzzkill, but it created a little tiny spark inside that for the longest time has been all but extinguished.

I don’t know why, but when I got to California a couple of weeks ago all of a sudden, out of nowhere, I began to be interested a little bit in Western literature. I’m not sure if it was flying over the desert on my way into San Diego, the style of house that you don’t see at all in Michigan, or something else entirely. I’m certainly not staying in an area associated with the Wild West. What might have done it was when I came downstairs and saw my girlfriend’s mom watching Longmire on Netflix. Craig Johnson’s mysteries are the only Westerns I’ve ever read, and besides the occasional Gunsmoke episode when I can’t find nothing else on the first season of that show is the only true Western show I’ve watched my entire life. And I can very honestly say that I’ve never written anything even remotely near that category.

Not only can I figure out why I’ve gained a sudden interest in them, but I also don’t get why I’m interested in possibly writing a Western. Could it maybe be that, like the space settings I always turn to for my SF, the Wild West is completely unknown territory to me? Is it the rich tradition that outdates SF and modern fantasy that is drawing me in? Is it the Western condition?

Hopefully as I start doing some research into it and make an attempt at writing one I can find the answers I seek. I’ve toyed around in the past writing horror, comedy, thrillers, and literary fiction but never Westerns.

Time to saddle up and get going!

California Update

Good morning, afternoon, and evening, CrapPile!

My vacation to the West Coast has been extended once again. I will now be here until the weekend. I’ve been seriously neglecting the blog and haven’t been doing much reading or writing since I’ve been out here, but I’m hoping I can do some more this week when my girlfriend goes back to work.

Bear with me–I promise the blog is not dead!

Chip Casserole Recipe

My vacation in California was extended by a couple of days, and after working hard all week cooking some amazing things for us for dinner, I decided to relieve my girlfriend’s parents from kitchen duty and made dinner myself. I chose to make a Siebelink family specialty–potato chip casserole!

(Forgive me in advance–I have no experience writing recipes so don’t expect Food Network quality writing here)


One family-sized bag of plain Lays Potato Chips

2 pounds of ground beef

2 large (or 4 small) cans of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup

Salt, to taste.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. On the stove in a deep pan, cook the beef all the way through, then drain the grease. Add soup. Cook together for a few minutes then add 3/4 of the potato chips. After the chips are cooked in a little, transfer to casserole dish and bake for 30 minutes. Serve immediately, adding salt if needed.

In my family, we usually serve it with mashed potatoes, and growing up my mom said that my Gran would also serve corn.

I came up with a rather interesting variation I plan on trying in a few weeks, will let you know how that turns out!

The Illusion Of Education – literacy in rural India


What if I tell you that India has the world’s largest youth population? What if I also tell you that less than half of our students in class 8th can solve a class four division problem and barely 47% of children in grade 5 can read a grade 2 level text? Our students have been caught in the clutches of our government’s ignorance. Someone once rightly said that most ignorance is “vincible ignorance”. We don’t know because we don’t want to know and people don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed. To secure India’s future, providing a better education to India’s youth is imperative.

I believe only education fundamentally can change our current scenario. It can help make people independent because all the wealth in the world cannot help our people unless they are not taught to help themselves. All they need is moral and…

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Need Writing Ideas? Let Me Help


People often ask me, “Where do you get your ideas?”

The answer is simple but rarely satisfying to the questioner: “Everywhere.”

Let me provide a little background information that will prove useful later on … I work full-time as a high school English teacher, and with that comes constant planning, educating, and assessing.  I have a nine-year-old and a six-year-old, and they are involved in many, many … many activities.  I’m married to a wonderful woman with endless responsibilities who also works full time.  We have a house and all the needs a house requires.  In other words, we’re busy …  I’m busy.

Yet, I write.  Regularly.

At the moment, I specialize in flash fiction, because that’s about all I can muster amidst a chaotic life that I love dearly.  However, I think I’m pretty good at these little five page stories, and I’m even better at conceiving, executing, and…

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