It’s Christmas Eve and You Know What That Means—

It’s time for my favourite Christmas story. Experienced readers will know this is not your standard Christmas story. It’s not even a Christmas story at all. It’s a story I heard for the first time years ago, and when the holiday season rolled around, it was the first thing I thought of. So I’ve been posting it every year, and I’ll be posting it every year until further notice.

One night, Confucius had a dream about chopsticks.

In the dream, he was transported to Hell, where he saw multitudes of people sitting at enormous tables set out with wonderful foods of all kinds. There was so much food that the tables groaned under the weight and the various delightful aromas made the mouth water. But the people sitting at the tables had not touched any of it.

They had been told they could eat as much as they liked but only if they ate with chopsticks that were five feet long. None of them could figure out how to feed themselves with five-foot-long chopsticks so all they could do was stare helplessly at this amazing feast and cry in hunger, misery, and despair.

Then Confucius was taken to heaven where he again saw multitudes of people sitting around enormous tables laden with glorious foods. They had also been told they were allowed to eat only if they used the five-foot-long chopsticks. But these people were not crying with hunger and misery and despair. They were eating their fill, talking and laughing together, enjoying themselves.

Because in heaven, they were feeding each other.

My friends, whatever holiday you celebrate, wherever you are and however you celebrate it, I hope it’s heavenly.

Two Years Of Borrowed Time & I’m Still Not Dead

I’d love to write a lot of inspirational entries about still being alive but Buffy the Vampire Slayer was right when she said, ‘The hardest thing in this world is to live in it.’ It’s also the busiest. I’ve been so busy continuing to be alive, I haven’t had time to wax rhapsodic about continuing to be alive.

That my sound sarcastic but in truth, I wish I could. I wish I could tell you that every glitch and inconvenience, every little (and not so little) ache and pain, every boring chore and utterly grey day is a reminder that it’s still great to be alive and to know that I’m going to be alive for some indefinite period of time.

Cancer and I have reached a stand-off that puts it in the background of my life. In fact, it’s so much in the background that I really do forget I have it. Now that Harley Quinn: Mad Love has come out from Titan Books I’ve been doing some interviews and the topic of cancer just doesn’t come up. (The Topic of Cancer—as opposed to The Tropic of Cancer; there’s a story in there somewhere and Henry Miller would probably plotz).

While I’m self-promoting, the prequel novel to the movie Alita Battle Angel is out, too: Alita Battle Angel: Iron City is available in paperback or eBook, also from Titan. Alita Battle Angel the movie will be released 14 February 2019, which when the novelisation–also written by me–will be available. Last year at this time, I had finished the novelisation and was busy with the prequel. Just after I turned it in, I went to work on Harley Quinn: Mad Love, in collaboration with Harley’s co-creator (and wonderful human being), Paul Dini. It was a good, happy time that kept me too busy to think much about having cancer.

it also kept me too busy to do much else–I got up, wrote till I dropped, then got up the next morning and did it again. But it was great to know that even in my mid-sixties, I can do that—I’m not too tired or out of touch to write like a demon. And I can fill my mind with something a million miles away from cancer. It also reminded me how much I love writing.

People have asked me why I do novelisations and media tie-ins, why I don’t just concentrate on my own work and try to achieve high art. And it’s like this: high art is wonderful and everyone should expose themselves to it. But after people come home from the museums or the symphony, after they do the required reading, when they’re done elevating their intellects and their spirit, they turn to popular culture to relax and that’s where it’s crucial to have quality. People admire high art but they take their cues from popular culture. There’s a book called Everything I Ever Needed To Know I Learned From Star Trek (preceded by Everything I Ever Needed To Know I Learned In Kindergarten) and that’s really not a joke.

Forty-some years ago, I went to a talk Gene Roddenberry gave in Kansas City, about his experiences with the Star Trek (original recipe, of course). He mentioned going into a bar in the American Deep South, which, in the late 1960s, wasn’t always safe for a man with long hair. A man sitting next to him at the bar struck up a conversation with him and asked him if he’d ever seen Star Trek. Roddenberry admitted he might have caught a few episodes. The man said, “You see all kinds of people working together and getting along together on that show. It’s not real, it’s a TV show, but when you see that, you see it could be that way. We could all work together and get along with each other.”

Now, that’s not word-for-word, I’m paraphrasing but that was the gist and I’ve never forgotten it. It stuck with me because it demonstrated the pervasiveness of popular culture, what a profound effect it has. People take their cues from it, even set their moral compasses by it. And since that’s the case, I’m more than happy to contribute to it.

I’m still doing my own, original work, too. And I’m still alive. Two years of borrow/reclaimed time so far and it’s still a party every day. Some days the party isn’t very noisy and we run out of party hats. But it’s still a party. ‘Getting older’ is another way of saying ‘still alive.’ And while we live, let us live. Even when the colour scheme for every day is dull grey and it’s cold and damp: every day above ground is a good one. There’s always good news, even if it’s only that there was no bad news.

That may sound like it’s setting the bar very low, but it isn’t. Not around this house.