Carv's Thinky Blog I'm an author with a focus on satirical sci-fi and agnostic commentary.

1May/170

OLY ARTS, Spring 2017

Often when I'm directing a play, there's a moment early on when I take stock of everything that has to happen and think, "Hm. There's a good chance this may not come together. It's too much." But then opening night, as the cast and crew accept their justly earned praise, there's me in the back of the house smiling quietly to myself because I see now the enormity of what we've accomplished. We built and decorated a room including furniture, we built or found costumes and props, we generated print and video content, we learned 80 pages of material so well we have actual emotions about it...It's easy to lose sight of that gestalt "when your head's down over your pieces, brother."

So it is with OLY ARTS. When Ned Hayes recruited me to be the editor of that publication, we had less than two months to hire a staff while creating a brand, a media kit, an entire website including a functional calendar, a social media presence, a weekly newsletter and not one but two print publications. (The first was a 12-page demo edition seen only by advertisers.) It seemed impossible--but then we got to work and forgot how impossible it was. Then, seeming days later, it was finished and holy...We actually managed to pull this off! Look at everything we got done! When our first official issue of OLY ARTS rolled off the printers in the nick of time for Lakefair 2016, we were so proud and excited we couldn't contain ourselves. Look at it: 16 whole pages! With advertisements, some of which we hadn't given away free in order to build business relationships!

If you have one of those copies, keep it; it's a collector's item. We "sold out" the entire run of that issue, but it wasn't easy. No one knew what we were trying to hand them. Several venues didn't want to let us in. I encountered residual bitterness from years as a theater critic. Here we were, though, hawking a magazine that looked like a real, honest-to-Dionysus arts magazine. Now the question that loomed, it seemed, was this: Could we possibly maintain that level of quality issue after issue?

Flash-forward ten months. Now when the spring 2017 issue arrived, I was so busy stuffing it into our new downtown office that I barely snapped a look at the cover. ("Yes," I thought, "it's bright green. That should move.") Then came Arts Walk. Our distribution team handed out many thousands of copies, a much easier job this time because people came asking for them. Olympia knows us and likes us now. I was told people read the issues cover to cover. We're entirely advertiser-supported, including the five podcast episodes we produce every week (84 to date). Our advertising and business managers, new acquisitions since the summer edition, are both aces. Not only is our spring issue over twice as long as the Lakefair 2016 issue, I'd say it's at least twice as good--but we produced it in less time.

As crowds gathered for Procession of the Species, I saw hundreds of people reading their copies and showing each other photos and articles. Ned drove past Starbucks and saw a line of people absorbed in OLY ARTS as they finished their lattes and Unicorn Frappuccinos. One woman told me she noticed my writing and would look for my books. That's good for us, it's good for local business, and it signifies an important fact about our publication: It gets read. I walked around downtown Olympia after the Procession and, of the thousands of copies we gave away in two short days, I found exactly two lying in the street. Instead what I saw was copies rolled up and tucked into back pockets. People kept OLY ARTS as an ongoing entertainment reference. When I offered a copy to one guy, he said, grinning, "I already have one sitting on my coffee table at home."

So this is me expressing gratitude to everyone who contributes to OLY ARTS, from our writers and photographers to Tabitha the ad champ to our outstanding distribution team to, of course, publisher Ned Hayes. I can look around and see what we've accomplished now. I see the house we built rather than the rough spots I need to find time to sand down. Our writers already have their assignments for the summer issue, our sixth print edition, coming just in time for Lakefair 2017.

If you'll excuse me, I need to get to work. I have four new articles stacked in my inbox, and those need to be edited and posted this week. Tomorrow's StoryOly podcast episode is edited and ready to take live, but I've barely started Thursday's installment of Sound Stages. With a well-deserved mini-vacation coming next week, I need to make two of everything by Sunday, not to mention ensuring our employees get paid. Duty calls...but oh, what a thing we've all managed to build here, and what a community we've built it to serve.

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9Sep/160

Two Quick Links

Words, Words, Words: Science Fiction

Before I write anything else, I want to thank everyone who came out to hear me read from Mr. Klein's Wild Ride this week in Lacey, Olympia and Tacoma. If you bought a book, double thanks. Let me know what you think of it. In fact, please let everyone know, especially if you enjoyed it. Go to my Amazon page via the links in the post below and leave a critique. Authors say this all the time, but we say it because it's true: reviews from readers like you matter. If someone looks for my book and finds few or zero reader responses, it de-legitimizes both me and the book. So even if you don't like it--and I'm pretty sure you will--post a review. It shows the book is getting some action. And it may just talk someone else into buying it!

Now, then. In addition to writing novels and being the managing editor of Oly Arts, I also still write for the Weekly Volcano. This week's cover article is a preview of 10 shows planned for this theatre season that I think you're most likely to enjoy:

"Top 10 Shows Not to Miss"

And here's an essay about why you should attend a show I curated, called Words, Words, Words: Science Fiction. It's a benefit for Theater Artists Olympia that collects beloved tales of the fantastic from 1897 to the present. I chose half; our stellar cast chose the rest. You're gonna love it. And if you buy one of my books while you're there, I'll donate two bucks to the Midnight Sun Performance Space. Everybody wins!

"Futures Past and Present"

I hope to see you out there in the stars!

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6Sep/160

Mr. Klein’s Wild Ride Hits Shelves TODAY!

Woohoo! At long last, you can hold a copy of Mr. Klein's Wild Ride in your hot hands TODAY! If you live outside the South Sound, it's available on Amazon in print here and electronically for Kindle here. Either way, it's a mere $12, a hell of a lot cheaper than tickets to a high-end theme park like, say, Bliss Panerotic.

If you do live near me, you can come see me in person tonight at 7 at Olympia's Browsers Bookshop, 107 Capitol Way N, where I'll read an abridged version of Chapter 1 followed by a related short story, "Retreat." I'll read the same pieces Thursday at 7 in Tacoma, thanks to King's Books at 218 St. Helens Ave. I'll sign books and answer questions from listeners at both events.

I sold a handful of advance copies last night at Creative Colloquy Olympia, and I've already started doing interviews about the book, so I have some idea what I'll be asked this week. Here's a mini-FAQ to get the conversation rolling:

Q: Why did you use a pen name for this book?

A: Books with sex in them sell better when they're written by women. That's the most relevant answer. But I also wanted to shield my wife, my family and myself from folks who would judge the book's subject matter harshly. It didn't seem fair to my in-laws, for example, to drag them into the conversation. So last summer when the first e-book edition was released, I did my best to con people into thinking Lynn Savage was a real person and I was just her sometime writing partner. But of course Lynn is me, and my in-laws have gotten so used to my nonsense by now that I don't think this will rattle them much.

Q: Will your family read the book?

For the most part, no, and I suspect we're all happier that way.

Q: Can you give me any sex tips?

I can, but mostly they center around communication and body comfort.

Q: Admit it, you're a swinger, right?

I'll tell you I'm open-minded, but otherwise my marital secrets are staying that way. It's only fair to my wife.

Q: Yeah, but really, though, you two are freaks, I bet.

It's interesting to me that when I wrote about Oklahoma religion in Lightfall, no one assumed I was a Freewill Baptist. If I wrote a spy thriller, no one would think I walk around with a garrote in my pocket. But when I wrote about sex, everyone assumed it was an autobiography. The sex had by Gary and Summer Klein in this book is about fictional characters, not me. This isn't the Penthouse letters column.

Q: Why isn't there a real theme park for swingers?

Because swingers tend not to have billions of dollars.

Q: If I tell you I'm a swinger, is that gonna get weird?

No. When I told people I was writing a book about an adult theme park, folks in "the lifestyle" came out to me by the dozens. That is not an exaggeration. I found myself with a mountain of anecdotal research material, most of it fascinating.

Q: Do you really believe people will have sex with robots someday?

You and I probably won't, but yes, I think that will happen. It kind of does now. In fact I believe the day will come in my lifetime when a person seeks to marry an artificial intelligence, ambulatory or otherwise.

Q: Will you sign my book?

If I see you in person, absolutely. The nature of the book might even make that inscription rather special. But if you live anywhere away from western Washington, I'm afraid I probably won't. It costs more for me to ship you a book than I can profit by selling it. These things add up. Also, my publisher can't spring for an out-of-state book tour, so my friends around the country are out of luck. I would, however, happily accept gifts of plane tickets and couch stays if you're really that excited about it.

Q: Is this book erotica?

That's a subjective question, but my gut response is no. I have no intention of being coy. My feeling is if you plan to write about sex, your book had better be sexy. So yes, when it came to the sex scenes--of which there are several--I was trying to turn readers on. (I'm told by male and female readers I succeeded.) I don't fade to black at the moment of truth, nor do I suddenly get all dainty about my language. But the overall intent of the book is not to titillate. It's to incite conversations about sex, a taboo topic in most cultures including ours, and to ask whether monogamy deserves to be the prevailing marital arrangement in the 21st century. Also, I try pretty hard to make readers laugh.

Q: Shame on you for even talking about this.

No. Flatly, no. I feel no shame whatsoever. I expected to, kind of, but I don't. Sex is great. Most of us enjoy it very much. It's terrific to share your body and time and care and joy and passion with someone whose company you enjoy. Rape is awful; pornography is a mixed bag of awful and helpful. Erotica is often badly written but usually harmless, if not helpful. Sex itself is phenomenal. Even the Bible thinks so, at least from the Song of Solomon's perspective. If your religious culture and/or upbringing have made you ashamed of your body and sexual appetite, I can sympathize, but otherwise that isn't my concern. I don't have to be party to other people's hang-ups. I can share my voice--and, behind the scenes, the voices of people I've loved for years--to share the message that sexuality is a core element of what it means to be, and love being, a grown-up human person. Your body, male, female or indeterminate, is your personal property to use, display and share as you see fit. Your childhood pastor does not get a say in that. I get no say in that. If you want to stay celibate and live in a burlap sack, have a blast. I do not. Neither of us is inherently wrong. I do not believe sex, married or otherwise, is a sin. I don't believe sin is even a thing. I believe unkindness is a thing, as are dishonesty, betrayal, cruelty, and a lot of other traits and behaviors that exist within sexuality. But do you honestly believe God gives a care what consenting adults do with their crinkly bits? If He did, then why make them so much fun? Now that human beings have invented contraception and STI preventatives, I believe the real sexual fun park exists all around us.

And this, my friends, is just one tiny phrase in the grand tale of why Carv will never, ever run for public office.

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31Aug/160

We Ride! (UPDATED 8/31)

Mr. Klein's Wild Ride

--UPDATED WITH NEW APPEARANCES!--

Friends, I've been telling you I have big news, and I have big news. The good people at Mud Flat Press are publishing a brand-new print edition of Lynn Savage's sexy 2015 novel Mr. Klein's Wild Ride. The official publication date is Tuesday, Sept. 6! At 7 that night, I'll appear at Browsers Bookshop in a downtown Olympia debut event called "A Wild Ride With Christian Carvajal." Hey, some titles just write themselves.

If you aren't an acquaintance or family member who'd be embarrassed by unrepentant sex talk, I sure hope to see you there! The event itself is free. The novel is a trade paperback, so we're able to keep its cost at a low, LOW $12. I'd love to sign a copy for you! And while you're there, pick up a tall stack of reading at the amazingly refurbished Browsers Bookshop.

If you can't be there, perhaps you can make it to King's Books in Tacoma two nights later! That event also starts at 7, and of course I'll be reading and signing there as well.

If you simply can't wait that long, you can catch a shorter reading at Creative Colloquy Olympia on Monday, Sept. 5, at 6:30 p.m. in Lacey. "CC Oly" is a terrific monthly event no matter who's reading, one it's been my pleasure to host in months past.

You can also just order the book directly from Amazon, and it'll be in your sweaty palms a few short days later. Because it's already for sale there! Same goes for the Kindle edition!

I mean, come on. How exciting is this?

We'll really be kicking out the jams at the "Creative Colloquy After Dark" segment of Creative Colloquy Crawl on Oct. 5, and I bet I have more to say about that down the road.

Here's the official book description from Mud Flat Press:

Mr. Klein’s Wild Ride is the tale of Gary Klein, a marketing guru who accepts the job of brand manager for a sexy new theme park...at which point his life and his marriage spin into chaos. His tragicomic downfall culminates at Bliss Panerotic, a paradise for lovers and a feast for the senses. It's an island playground for couples whose lust for adventure knows no bounds. Mr. Klein's Wild Ride is a satire that calls to mind Jurassic Park and Exit to Eden, yet merges its own cutting-edge technology with polyamorous sexuality.

Are you ready to walk on the wild side?

Preview Mr. Klein's Wild Ride by clicking HERE!

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9Aug/160

Paradise Lost

Mr. Klein's Wild Ride

--by Lynn Savage

Not since the RMS Titanic sank on its maiden voyage has a luxury product rollout gone so tragically wrong. Seventeen people were killed in Bliss Panerotic's opening-weekend disaster last year, with hundreds more injured. Some claimed it was God's vengeance against a flesh pit of sexual decadence. Around the world, millions of swingers and polyamorists quietly go about their business as they have for most of a century, living it up in their nonconformist lives with nary a lightning bolt from heaven in sight. Yet it's hard not to see the Bliss Panerotic adult theme park as a target when reminded of news graphics like the one shown below.

GNN quake graphic, June 13, 2015

GNN quake graphic, June 13, 2015

 

The devastation, of course, was unforgettable.

Commissary pavilion near the Grand Entry in Zone 2

Commissary pavilion near the Grand Entry in Zone 2

 

Sanasana hotel, northern lawn

Sanasana hotel, northern lawn

 

From the Los Angeles Times, June 28, 2015

From the Los Angeles Times, June 28, 2015

 

I'm using this space to remind you of all that sadness, but I want you to know that Mr. Klein's Wild Ride isn't the story of a tragedy. It's the story of a dream, a dream deferred perhaps, but a wonderful dream all the same. It's the enriching dream of sexual enjoyment, boundless and saved from puritanical repression. It's the dream of a woman who declared of Bliss Panerotic, "It’s not empowerment, it’s the presumption of power. The taking of power. It’s me owning my power." It's the dream of a man who reminded us all to get naked and see what happens. Above all, it was the dream of thousands of park visitors, who swarmed to a rocky island off the coast of California in pursuit of their bliss. My book is a tribute to the freedom they envisioned.

Early mockup of the Bliss Panerotic park map, provided by Gary Klein

Early mockup of the Bliss Panerotic park map, provided by Gary Klein

 

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4Aug/160

Bliss!

Hi, folks! Lynn Savage here. It's appropriate that my book, Mr. Klein's Wild Ride, should be reintroduced on Carv's Thinky Blog, as it was Carv who first got me interested in its subject. He wrote an article called "Pilgrims in Pornland" for Western Zeitgeist, a pop culture journal for which I contribute a love/sexuality column. His primary source for that article was Gary Klein, an L.A. marketing guru who served as brand manager for Bliss Panerotic. Bliss, of course, was the controversial amusement park that opened and closed so spectacularly on Catalina Island in 2015. It promoted itself as a getaway for swingers, honeymooners, and other couples and singles interested in expanding their sexual boundaries in a safe, modern resort environment. A flyer for the park appears below.

 blissflyer

Of course, the project was plagued with shaky publicity from the start, but Klein did much to dispel the concerns of investors and potential visitors. The Realms of Eros multi-user computer game created in support of the park is still selling in the millions of copies. Klein can hardly be blamed for the project's downfall--but when you think (or tell a joke) about Bliss Panerotic, his may well be the first name that comes to your mind. Carv introduced me to Gary this last year, and I communicated with both men frequently through the final stages of park construction. While I was unable to attend the grand opening, it was the expense of a trip to southern California rather than any controversy that scared me away. In retrospect, of course, that was fortunate, but so was my access to Gary. He's an interesting fella who has much to say about the Bliss Panerotic debacle, what the resort aspired to be, and what it means in the context of modern relationships.

So, you may ask, is my book, taken straight from a year of interviews with Gary, sexually frank? You bet your naughty bits it is. Will it turn you on? I sure hope so. Will it inspire you to think about sex, love and marriage in the twenty-first century? I believe it will. Some of you had the chance to read the e-book last year, but now things are heating up again! Watch this space for more details!

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1Aug/160

Reintroducing Lynn Savage

lynnsavageheadshot

As I did last summer, I'm sharing ownership of this page with my good friend Lynn Savage. Her book, Mr. Klein's Wild Ride, is an insider's look at the recent Bliss Panerotic disaster. Bliss, you'll recall, was the controversial adult theme park on Santa Catalina Island off the coast of Los Angeles. Her source's take on how that park was conceived, and on what it might've been, is almost as fascinating as the story of its ultimate downfall. Oh...and it's pretty darn steamy, too.

Author Alec Clayton (Visual Liberties) puts it this way: "Forget Fifty Shades of Grey. Mr. Klein's Wild Ride is libertine sex in primary colors." A sassy, erotic beach read, it's scheduled for its first print edition in 2016. Watch for further details and sneak peeks here!

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9Dec/150

Creative Colloquy Volume Two

I finished reading Rick Steves' Travel as a Political Act last night, a book I recommend to every reader, travel-minded or not. That leaves me free to start reading my newest acquisition, Creative Colloquy Volume Two, released last night at a gala in Tacoma's pretty-much-perfect B Sharp Coffee House. My time-travel story "Personal History" is included in this anthology of South Puget writers, and what's more, it's been beautifully illustrated by Carrie Foster and Michael Haeflinger, a first for me. I heard five of the other stories last night (of 19 total), and I was pleased and excited by the quality. I think you will be, too.

To purchase a copy, click here. No money from that purchase goes to me, by the way, so I'm recommending it purely from respect for the project. As always, I've been impressed by the work Jackie Fender and Joshua Swainston put into Creative Colloquy, and you shouldn't be surprised if I remain highly involved with that worthy group in 2016.

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7Oct/150

Welcome, Creative Colloquy Crawlers!

The seven blog entries below this are all concerned with an audition I'm holding next week (I'm also a theatre director). Hence, I thought it might be a good idea if I popped in here long enough to say hi to folks I met at tonight's epic literary event in Tacoma. If you enjoyed my sci-fi story "Personal History," I encourage you to look for it in the upcoming print edition, Creative Colloquy Volume 2. I've heard it might even be illustrated. That's a first for me, so I'm really excited!

I encourage you to poke around my author site, especially the fiction tabs above. Of course I'd be remiss if I didn't mention you can buy either of my novels (or the short story collections in which my work has appeared) by browsing through the buttons in the right-hand sidebar. I had a wonderful time on the Crawl tonight, as I hope you did, too! Thanks again to Odd Otter Brewing Company for hosting the sci-fi hour, and to B Sharp Coffee House for hosting the after party and so many Creative Colloquy events over the last year and change. And of course my sincere appreciation goes out to Jackie Fender, Joshua Swainston, William Turbyfill, and everyone whose blood, sweat, and tears have gone into making Creative Colloquy a success.

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30Jul/150

Wordstock Olympia…2016?

Many, many thanks to everyone who came out for Wordstock Olympia 2015. We had a full house on a hot Wednesday night in an insufficiently air-conditioned theater. Our loyal friends were rewarded with a short clip from Eva Suter's "Glory, Glory, Vanish," soon to be presented in full as part of Theater Artists Olympia's Improbable Peck of Plays 4. Then Dianne Kozdrey Bunnell read from her engrossing novel The Protest, which concerns the fundamentalist annexation of a family. I had the great privilege and pleasure of watching Tacoma actor Deya Ozburn read "Retreat" (which you can also read for free here).

After a brief intermission, Olympia actors Jackson Jones and Amanda Stevens read a chapter from Ned Hayes's forthcoming YA novel The Eagle Tree, in which an autistic teenager wages a memorable environmental campaign. Then Amanda and I read an episode from Alec Clayton's charming novel Visual Liberties, the concluding installment of a trilogy set in fictional Freedom County, Mississippi.

Our program marks the start of an effort to extend the wonderful work Creative Colloquy is doing in Tacoma to Olympia. There's been talk of making Creative Colloquy a regular Oly event at a business near Capitol Lake. I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, the full house to which some of you contributed means we'll do this again...though probably not in the heat of the summer! Remember, we owe our space to Theater Artists Olympia, whose Improbable Peck debuts a week from Friday (i.e., August 7). That anthology of short plays features local writers as well, and I can tell you from personal experience (as I'm acting in three of the short plays collected) that this is an excellent program well deserving of your money and attendance. I hope to see you there! I'll be the guy in the horned Viking helmet.

No, seriously.

Dianne Kozdrey Bunnell, author of The Protest

Dianne Kozdrey Bunnell, author of The Protest

Deya Ozburn reads "The Retreat"

Deya Ozburn reads "The Retreat"

Amanda Stevens and Jackson Jones read from The Eagle Tree

Amanda Stevens and Jackson Jones read from The Eagle Tree

Wordstock Olympia banner

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