What, now?

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

I’ve been slacking off over here lately but this time I have a good excuse!  I swear!

I got sucked into a Munchausen by Internet/malingering/faker scandal and decided to launch a website looking into the situation because it is just that interesting. Since the early 2000s, a woman called Christina Iver-B* has been using various online ruses to prey on people for both attention and money.  I encountered her in an online watchdog group that kept an eye on misogynist, fundamentalist, evangelical religious movements, some of which I can comfortably call cults.  A plucky young woman called Ruth started discussing her flight from her ATI/Gothardite family and the many problems she faced as she tried to work her way back into conventional society, while begging for money because her life just never got on track.

Except she wasn’t a refugee from a violent, cruel, repressive religious family.  She’s a mother of four in her late 30s who has so many online identities that I have been researching for three weeks now and am certain there are many I don’t know yet.

This was completely up my alley and while it sucked up a lot of my time, it’s also invigorated my desire to write so now that I’ve got my crap together I hope to have more content up here.  Check back tomorrow for a discussion of a Bradley Sands book, as well as several other bizarro before I start transitioning into less genre-oriented odd books.

If you are interested in online scams, here’s my site looking into the mess Chris Izer-B* has caused.   If you are unfamiliar with this situation, you will need to read from the beginning.  Otherwise, see you tomorrow!


Course correction

This post originally appeared on Houdini's Revenge

When I launched this site, I wanted it to be a place wherein the conspiracy theory and paranormal books I discussed on my odd books site could exist in their own little realm. When I discussed a book on a conspiracy theory, I kept my discussion to the book and it was difficult for some commenters because they would want to discuss the whole of the theory rather than the book. It seemed unfair to limit discussion, so I decided to split my sites up.

I never intended to engage in continual investigation into and potential debunking of current conspiracies. But I got comments from people who asked me to look into specific sites pushing Boston Bombing conspiracy theories, I looked into them and before I knew it, I was veering far off course. I really prefer looking into books and specific theories to investigating every little detail about every conspiracy theory that comes up. I prefer specificity and the finite, it seems.

This picture of me was drawn in real-time. My pony tail was a mess.

This has become a problem because as I have investigated three specific elements of the Boston bombing – the carjacking, the Watertown shootout, and the capture of Dzhokhar in the boat – I have three entries that add up to over 75,000 words of text, and I am not even finished. And I don’t know if I will ever be finished because I’m still not finished reading all the sources online discussing these three topics. Trying to write coherently on a continually moving topic is tiresome and if I wanted to write this much on the topic, I would just write a book already.

When Anders Behring Breivik went on his rampage, I spent two months reading his interminable manifesto and wrote about 50,000 words on it, but when you can focus on one document and discuss it rather than the entirety of the rampage, for me it makes for a far more entertaining article for the reader and a far more interesting experience for me. As of right now, all the research I am doing into whether or not the panel in a specific boat could be written on with anything but a Sharpie is… well, it’s not that interesting to me and since I don’t know what writing instrument Dzhokhar used, or even of the writing really exists, all that research may be for naught.

So I am course correcting. I want to get back to this site being about books and documents and the occasional foray into discussing very interesting conspiracy sites. And I will still be debunking when necessary. I will just be debunking in a very specific manner.

A perfect encapsulation of 60% of the comments I receive on this site.

One problem I have, however, is that my initial impulse to permit people to talk about every element of a conspiracy may not be feasible, or at least it may not be feasible with the readership I have now. We’ll see, but if I continue to get angry lunatic whargarbl in the place of reasoned comments that understand that a book discussion is not the same as an overarching theory on everything that ever happened in the history of time, I may have to adjust that, as well. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

So stay tuned: I will be discussing two fascinating books about people missing in National Parks written by a Bigfoot researcher and former police officer named David Paulides and some less fascinating but very sappy paranormal books from Llewellyn. And oh yeah, I am tackling Michael Pearl, child beater in the name of God. You’re definitely gonna want to stick around for that.

Regular posting resumes next week

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

I had planned to have another “Bizarro Week” but the tepid turn out for the last one has convinced me to wait a bit before engaging in such an endeavor.  However, I still plan to discuss some bizarro in a lump, more or less.  Then we’ll leave basic bizarro and branch out into other books, and hopefully some non-fiction.  I miss discussing non-fiction over here.  But in the upcoming weeks, look for discussions of Bradley Sands, David Barbee, G. Arthur Brown, David David Katz, Kevin Astkin, and hopefully in July I can get back to discussing odd non-fiction as well.

I’ve been busy at work over on Houdini’s Revenge.  A mention on MetaFilter and an indignant conspiracy theorist resulted in an onslaught of new readers and all sorts of comment situations.  I thought running IROB for five years had prepared me for the worst that “creative” thinkers bring to the comment section.  I was wrong.  Oh, was I wrong.  Mr Oddbooks wants me to close comments,  but I am leaving comments open over there and just keeping my ban hand strong.  In five years of IROB I’ve had to ban two people, and one of them was unbanned later.  Not the case over on HRev.  In another two weeks, I think I will be in possession of a data set that will show a definitive link between Tor accounts and anti-semitism.  Maybe I’ll apply for a grant to complete a study, or maybe I’ll just smack myself in the head repeatedly with a copy of Modern Trolling.

On another note, I noticed some incoming links from a site called HTML Giant and found I had been referenced in a very interesting analysis of Tao Lin’s Shoplifting from American Apparel I am unsure if being “compellingly tedious” is a good thing yet the description delighted me.  It’s possibly the best description of what I do, now that I think of it.  But back to Lin.  Increasingly I feel less… offended by Tao Lin and warming toward his style or his schtick, or whatever it is he has going on.  And the article over on HTML Giant is very much worth a read so have a look if you have an opinion on Lin.

Thanks to all who offered support during my resent “unpleasantness.”  The situation is largely resolving itself and while one can never say never, I don’t see a similar problem cropping up any time soon.  I am working very hard to catch back up and an heartened that I have such great readers here.  Lurkers are awesome too because you raise your heads at just the right moment.   IROB’s readers rock!

See you next week!


Oh, and hello!

This post originally appeared on Houdini's Revenge

Due to the MetaFilter entry about Houdini’s Revenge and my recent unpleasantness with a conspiracy theorist, I find myself with some new readers.  I hope some of you stick around, even the ones who feel sorry for me because you think I suck at the teat of the media.  Have a read.  Tell me what you think.  I look forward to hearing from you.

What I Did This Weekend: or, Fuck My Life

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

So, for the four of you left who read here regularly, you may have noticed that the site was offline this weekend.   I had some… issues.

I am conflicted because I would like to tell you all what is happening but if I do, it may just get worse.  But before long, someone is going to have to go jail.  I’m not kidding.

Multiple DMCA notices were filed against this site and Houdini’s Revenge, all of them bogus.  Complaints were also made about the content I produce on IROB.   It was alleged that I have reproduced child pornography and wrote entries to incite people to commit acts of pedophilia and rape.  None of these complaints had any basis in reality (no shit).  My hosting company had limited choices because I was less than cooperative but they were on my side and all of this has been resolved in my favor.   Seriously, they were very professional and very sympathetic.

Because I am very tired I have cancelled ANSWER Me! week because I can only imagine the complaints that will get lodged if I discuss all four issues in the depth I prefer.

If you are a writer who suspects your work may have been twisted up in this mess, please know this nonsense was wholly directed at me.  There was no vendetta against any writer involved, and especially no vendetta against Jim Goad, whose work I planned to tackle this week.

I genuinely don’t know how I am going to get this weirdness to stop.  Mr Oddbooks and I have explored legal options but then we decided we couldn’t justify the hassle or the expense so we’re gonna lie low and hope it doesn’t happen again.  I plan to write here, probably next week, but I have a limited capacity to deal with much in the way of bullshit, which is why I collect books and write online rather than have a real job.  So we’ll see how this goes.

Also, while I’m feeling a bit testy, I need to let everyone who has sent me books to read know that I have made a decision about how I plan to handle the books that remain to be read.  If I count more than ten grammar, spelling and/or punctuation issues in your book, I won’t be discussing it.   It’s harsh but really, it’s not.  Lately a lot of the literature I have read has been difficult to appreciate because of all the errors, which makes me tired as I try to find ways to praise good ideas with crappy editing, and I need to recharge my mojo, which will be hard in a world without Ray Manzarek, but I’m going to give it a try (note: avoid using sentences like this one when you write books).  I’ll handle rejected novels quietly.  Thanks for your understanding. (Edited because I found a nicer way to say what I needed to say.)

ANSWER Me! Week Starts Monday

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Hey everyone, sorry to have been so quiet since the end of the NBAS week but I’ve been busy over on Houdini’s Revenge. In fact, I knocked out an attempt to debunk of one of the more involved “it was staged” theories regarding the Boston Marathon Bombings, as well as writing about some of the backpack theories. I hope eventually to amass a clearinghouse of all the theories, debunked (or confirmed – it could happen) and in some sort of order. For those who enjoy conspiracy theory, have a look.

I made an interesting decision about discussing ANSWER Me!, issues 1-4. I have been working on these discussions for months, almost a year. And when I say I “these discussions,” I really mean Issue 4, the infamous Rape Issue. I have never hit the backspace key more in my life. I have read almost all of Andrea Dworkin’s body of work to make sure that I have my ducks in a row if the Andrea Dworkin Lie Detector types show up. I have agonized over word choice, trying to make sure I conveyed the point I wanted to make without offending the usual suspects, even as I sort of want to call out the usual suspects (:cough:melissamcewan:cough:) for trivializing rape to the point even ardent liberals are sickened by their penny ante and Penny Arcade antics, making rape seem trivial as they wage war against fictional creatures committing impossible acts against cartoon characters that in no way represent any living person, past or present. And I will have to mention Peter Sotos. Sotos is a polarizing dude, and by polarizing, I mean I get rape and death threats when I talk about him. I can cope with that sort of shit – welcome to the Internet, Baby Girl! – but it can get a wee bit demoralizing.

All that agonizing has let me to this interesting decision: I am trashing everything I have written and will begin again on Saturday morning, cranking out text quickly and from a place of reaction rather than contemplation. When I am forced to write quickly, I have to stop dithering. When I stop dithering, I can say what I want to say and not worry about who may be offended or that people I want to offend may find my POV to their liking, which is almost as bad.

I may be cranking out Friday’s entry Thursday night but, even if it is rushed, it will be better than the tentative semi-turd I have right now. Hopefully raw writing will encourage raw and interesting discussions.

I had planned to host a giveaway for this themed week but I am 86ing it for two reasons. One, all of the ANSWER Me! books are out-of-print and the last I looked on Amazon, the affordable copies were in crappy condition (acceptable on Amazon means someone’s cat shat on it), all the reputable dealers want way too much, and easily half the listings were from dropshippers, the scourge of the online book purchasing experience. I could give away Goad’s other books but that seems weird since I’m not discussing them. Two, the last two giveaways I hosted had really lukewarm reactions. I’ve seen hundreds of people freak out at the chance to win a $10 card at a coffee shop and I had 26 entries for a $50 Amazon card, and those entries represented nine people. Maybe 10. I’m too tired to go back and look. At any rate, though I really like sharing the book love, there is a fine line between Sharing the Love and becoming That Girl Who Looks Like She Is Begging For Readers. I love you guys but I feel like I’m forcing my love down your throats. Which seems an appropriate way as any to end this entry that basically bemoaned my neurotic inability to write from the hip about rape.

Funny how that works.

Tune in Monday for ANSWER Me! week. It should be interesting.

Things to come!

This post originally appeared on Houdini's Revenge

Sorry to launch the site and then let it sit fallow but I had a big week planned over on I Read Odd Books that has taken a lot of my time.  I know most of the people reading here are likely people who followed me over from IROB but if you’re new, check out my themed week as it has a giveaway that has an Amazon card option so I can give gifts even to the most paranoid of readers (and frankly, I have a post office box myself so I don’t condemn anyone reluctant to share too many personal details).  It’s half-way over but the context doesn’t end until Friday evening.

I have so much in the pipeline for this site that I hesitate to discuss it because the surest way to torpedo work plans is to tell people what you hope to do.  However, I can say I plan to have a sort of “One-Stop-Entry” for all the conspiracy theories, unsettling situation and odd questions associated with the Boston Marathon Bombing and the suspected bombers.  I hope to have to posted Friday – Monday at the latest – and it will be a fluid document that I update as more theories are generated.

From there I hope to have a discussion about the Super Empowered Individual, as it keeps coming up in all these bombings and shootings. Some people insist that no one man can do that much damage, that many people have to have been involved.  Those who are familiar with SEI know all too well that one person can plan and wreak havoc of the sort law-abiding citizens can barely imagine.  Belief that cabals and cells and groups must be backing or behind some of the more recent atrocities in the USA and worldwide is a comfort, as it makes people feel like greater forces are controlling these horrors.  It’s easier to believe that there must be a world-wide conspiracy than to understand that one disenfranchised person with a credit card and access to the Internet can kill dozens all on his own, and that it could be the person we all would least expect.

And after that I hope to begin discussing all of the conspiracy theory and paranormal books I love so much and hopefully generate discussion amongst skeptics and believers.  I may begin with Dave McGowan’s Programmed to Kill: The Politics of Serial Murder, since reader Dave is most interested in this book, and with good cause.  It’s interesting and probably has some truth in it, up to a point.

So stayed tuned.  It’s gonna get conspiratorial up in here.

And I’m back!

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

I am so sorry about the long break I had to take. As I mentioned in the entries I had to take down, some heavy stuff happened. What happened did not harm me, my home or loved ones, or even this site, but unfortunately a long silence on my part was needed to make the heavy stuff stop. It appears to have stopped, thank heavens. Basic human decency prevents me from discussing openly what happened, but if this cryptic paragraph piques your interest and you need to know what happened, just drop me an e-mail. All I ask is that it not be discussed openly here or anywhere else.

Now that I am back, I come with some changes to this site and some interesting news.

First, I have some upcoming themed weeks to announce:

May 6-10, I will have a New Bizarre Author Series week. I plan to discuss five of the most recent batch of NBAS books and will be giving away copies of the books (or their monetary equivalent for those who may already have the books) to one lucky person. I’ll post the rules for the contest the Friday before it starts. For disclosure purposes, while four of the authors I will discuss sent me the books to read, I am purchasing the copies/Amazon card I plan to give away and have received no funding or free copies to give away from the publisher or authors. I hate that I had to type that out, but there you go.

May 20-24, I am having ANSWER Me! week. I’m still writing it so I am unsure how the days will divide out, but I will spend the week discussing all four editions of ANSWER Me!, spending more time on the infamous “Rape” ‘zine. I also plan to have some sort of Goad-related giveaway, but am unsure what I will offer because the ANSWER Me! omnibus is out-of-print and I have yet to find like-new copies for a reasonable price. I am hoping Jim himself issues these as PDFs for sale, but that likely will not happen before I post this discussion, so I suspect I will offer new copies of some of his works still in print. Same disclosures apply for this giveaway except that Goad only sent me the “Rape” edition to read.

Later in June, or possibly July, I intend to have a compendium week. I have several “weird” encyclopedias and have my eye on a couple more and think it would be fun to have a week of nothing but interesting lists and compendiums on weird topics, like the strange fate of famous corpses or famous eccentrics.

So that will be fun and in-between I hope to have just regular discussions.

Now for the changes. I will no longer be accepting review copies. At all. From anyone. What I prefer instead, from here on out, is that anyone with a new book out that you think would be a good idea for this site just drop me an e-mail and make me aware of the book. That way I can purchase it myself, which will remove a lot of the READ IT NOW urgency I feel when someone sends me a book, and it will help me maintain a bit more site integrity. I say integrity because when people send me books, I find it hard to give negative reviews even when the book may sorely deserve it. I know many may say I should just review and let the chips fall where they may but I am not able to do that. The only authors who contact me with book suggestions that I will read with any urgency will be the New Bizarro Author Series, and even then I still want to purchase the books myself.

Not only will this help me in terms of site integrity, but I am again overwhelmed with review copies. When I have so many review copies to read – most of which are fiction – it makes it hard for me to engage in the book explorations that were the genesis for this site. I used to find the most incredible books at independent and used book stores and the desire to share them was overwhelming. But lately my ardor to discuss books has waned because of the sense of obligation I feel to those who have sent me books. I think it shows, too, in the sort of writing I do. I want to get back to that place of visceral delight that weird books bring me.

If I have already accepted your book to review, no worries. I will still do it, though I cannot guarantee it will happen in a timely manner. And if you have an e-mail to me that pre-dated this entry, again, no worries. I will also accept and read those books. But from this date forward, no more review copies. Just drop me an e-mail about what you’ve got going on. If I like the sound of the book, chances are I will buy it and get to it far faster than I would in my current set-up. And no one feel bad or think you burdened me – you didn’t. All these review copies are still a gift to me and I marvel that people trusted me with their works to this degree. I’m just too weird myself for this to continue to work. I still recall a reviewer who told me I would probably never receive a review copy or if I did, count on getting very few books. The author response to this site has been amazing to me and I appreciate it and still definitely want to hear from you when you publish a book you think will be great for this site.

Finally, I have launched my conspiracy theory site, Houdini’s Revenge. Check out my first entry if such things interest you. It’s still rough but we’ll be tweaking it slowly as we go on.

I’ll still discuss conspiracy theory and paranormal books here, but I decided Houdini’s Revenge would be a better place for people to comment on my discussions of supernatural books and conspiracy books. In almost every entry I wrote here that deals with any form of conspiracy theory, people with a lot of knowledge about those theories had a very hard time confining their comments to the book. Most conspiracy theory is expansive and extends far beyond the words in a single book and after a while I felt like a jerk for asking people to stay on topic with the book and book alone. Over on Houdini’s Revenge, people can talk about any aspect of the theories they think are important.

I have plans to do a lot of writing in the near future. I hope those who have managed to stick around during my unexpected (and wholly unenjoyable) hiatus find something between the two sites that appeals to you. Much love to you all!

What’s around the corner

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Bear with me. Mr. Oddbooks and I have been trading the same illness back and forth and now my version is a sinus infection. Some people can work when they are sick but I am not one of them. I’ve been reading lots of insane crap online as I wallow in my illness (insane crap online? the hell you say) and will definitely be sharing some of that in the future. Hopefully I will be back with some discussions at the end of the week.


I have some good stuff planned for the near future so short periods of silence may also be attributed to getting things together on my end.

April 8-12 I am hosting another Bizarro Week, along with book giveaways. More on that next week, but stay tuned.

April 22-26 will be ANSWER Me! week. I also am going to give away some Jim Goad books, though not any of the ANSWER Me! books, unfortunately, as they are out of print and I can’t find any decent, affordable copies online (when I rule the world, all the book drop-shippers on Amazon will be beaten naked through the streets, but that’s a rant for another day). This discussion has taken far longer than I anticipated and I appreciate everyone bearing with me as I hash this out. I wanted to make sure that when the inevitable arguments of what specific sacred feminists did say or did not say begin, I will have all my ducks in a row, text-wise.

At any rate, as I wait for the pressure in my skull to abate, I’ve got some good things planned. BRB when I have antibiotics and some ginger ale.

ETA: Clearly everything has been pushed back but IROB will be up and racing out of the gate very soon. Stay tuned.

A funny thing happened…

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

…on the way to check my post office box last night.

I let it lapse. I hadn’t checked it since mid-January because I am a near-shut-in and pretty content with being a hermit. Sadly, my renewal came up at the end of February and my key no longer worked.

I am not the most organized person but I evidently am endearing in person. I showed up today, prayed I would land on the pleasant older woman and not the surly dude who hates everyone but me most of all. My prayers were answered. The older lady remembers me fondly, specifically from the time one of you weirdos sent me a ‘zine so disturbing that the postal workers at my branch interpreted it as a potential threat and made me go get it at the counter just to make sure I was okay with receiving content like that in the mail.

It may seem like I made the above up, but I promise you it’s all true. So in a way, it’s good that unlikely things get sent to me because it meant she remembered me specifically as the girl who gets weird stuff. I don’t know if she bent the rules for me or if I slid in under the wire, but I was able to get my box back. It wouldn’t open because it had been “plugged,” not because the lock had been changed.

I was not prepared for the sheer number of books waiting for me. Most were review copies, and I cannot wait to read them.

But I also received books from my Amazon wish list from a reader with the initials ECA. I tried to look you up, ECA, so I could send you a personal e-mail to tell you how touching and humbling it was that you sent me these books, but I hit an e-brick wall. Sorry.  If you’ve left a comment here before, I apologize for not recognizing you.  Please know this female, animal-loving, cat/dog/anything with scales-rescuing, skeptical, atheist, liberal, writer and book lover really appreciated the gesture and will be discussing half the books here and half on my new skeptic site when it launches sometime in the next ten years or so. Maybe less if I start to use some sort of online calendar and organize myself to some degree.

I am not a person who handles praise well and I sort teared up when I saw that someone had spent their hard-earned money buying me books because they connected with something I wrote, or were entertained in some manner.  It really is very humbling.  This site can at times be a mild pain in the ass but for the most part, this site brings me so much happiness and has allowed me to meet so many interesting people. Thank heavens I followed through that night when I was all, “I should totally start a blog devoted to weird books.”