Sunday, December 2, 2018

Announcing My New Graphic Novel, MERRY MEN

About ten years ago, I read an article by a medievalist whose name I now wish I could remember, which speculated that the inspiration for the Robin Hood legend was actually a sexual outlaw—someone who lived in the wilds, apart from society, because he was what we now call gay. I thought, “Well, THAT would be an interesting take on the story.” Then I thought about it some more. Then I sat down and wrote it. 

On December 4, it finally arrives—a complete graphic novel, illustrated by the amazing Jackie Lewis. The book also features my five-part text series, “A Queer History of England,” profiling figures from across the island nation’s medieval history who demonstrate that it was a whooole lot more diverse than your seventh-grade teacher ever let on. 

“This is a perfect 21st century take that works as both a slash fiction romp and an appropriate allegory for the legislative and religious battles the LGBTQ community faces today.” – Mental Floss

Sunday, November 13, 2016

2 for 2020

How much would you give to have November 9’s presidential election turn out differently?...More to the point: how much would you give to have the *next* presidential election turn out differently?

Whatever the amount, I’m proposing that you start giving it now. I’m proposing, in fact, that we bring back the concept of sacrifice as part of the duties of citizenship. But sacrifice with a social media twist...because it’s the postmillennium, and nothing’s real unless it’s also digital.

With Republicans in control of the presidency and both houses of Congress, progressives have to get to work safeguarding what we’ve gained, and building a coalition to take it even farther. Most of us, however, lead insanely busy lives; we can’t actually be there on the front lines.

But we can support those who are.

There are many, many organizations dedicated to progressive causes, from environmentalism to social justice. (I’ve linked to a partial list in the comment section.) They need our help. And that doesn’t mean a quick donation sent off while we’re feeling panicked and despairing; it means an actual, consistent commitment; it means joining—becoming a member—and sustaining these organizations over a period of years.

2 for 2020 is a movement encouraging each citizen to adopt two progressive organizations, and make a commitment to fund them on a monthly basis—to set aside part of your monthly income exclusively for that purpose. Yes, times are tough and money’s tight; and any contribution is going to hurt. But wouldn’t you rather endure pain over something you’re building, than at seeing something you cherish torn down? And regular monthly donations allow those organizations to plan. An operating budget based on a guaranteed income is crucial for any endeavor to succeed.

So choose your two organizations. Go to their websites; join their ranks; commit to a monthly pledge. Don’t tell us the amount; that’s up to you. But make it as much as you can—and then make it a little more. If you start to feel hesitant or nervous about it, just remember who will soon be in the Oval Office. Make the sacrifice. FIGHT.

Then, the fun part—the social media angle. Announce your two new memberships to your followers on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. Explain who they are, and why you’ve chosen to be a supporting member of each. Use the hashstag #2for2020.

Then share all your organizations' Facebook posts. Retweet all their tweets. Make them as regular a part of your social media activity as posts about your pets, or your meals, or your vacations (always using the #2for2020 hashtag). Encourage your friends and followers to do the same, with their own two choices.

If every one of us goes #2for2020, and inspires a few dozen of our social media contacts to follow suit, and they do likewise, and so on, exponentially—just think of the tremendous boost those organizations will get in terms of awareness, capabilities, and cash flow.

And think how ready we'll be for the next presidential election. Hell...think how ready we'll be for the midterms.


I’ll start the ball rolling with my two choices, to whom I’ve just this morning pledged a monthly donation. When you’re ready to do the same, copy the above part of this post to your own social media page, then list your own choices. Let's share our commitments and our ideals with each other…the way we do with everything else in our lives. Let’s inspire each other, and learn about each other based on the organizations we choose; let’s build a community of donors who will, ideally, get this country back on track before it runs too far off the rails.

My 2 for 2020 monthly pledges go to:

Sierra Club. The GOP has long been chomping at the bit to privatize our national parks and landmarks, and auction them off to industry for development. I don’t want to see the Grand Canyon or the Everglades, or any of the other natural treasures that are this country’s most precious heritage, fall victim to greed and rapaciousness. And the Sierra Club has 120-plus years of advocacy on behalf of America’s natural heritage; they’re our best bulwark against this happening.

Southern Poverty Law Center. Since 1971, the SPLC has been leading the legal battle against white supremacist, nationalist and fascist hate groups. Since these are the very groups that have been most energized by the Trump presidency, the SPLC needs desperately to expand its scope and its resources. I’m only too happy to help.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Announcing Edgar and Emma

Yes, I've written a new novel. The following is the flap copy, for your perusal and (I hope) approval: 

As a teenager, Jane Austen wrote “Edgar and Emma”—a withering satire on sentimental novels running four uproarious pages.

Now Robert Rodi has taken the brief text of this early story and expanded it into a full-length novel in the mature Austen style. Here you’ll find all the hallmarks of Austen’s immortal masterworks: a witty heroine, a hesitant hero, a romantic rival, a charismatic cad, several indefatigable talkers, a shattering crisis, shocking secrets revealed, and moments of the highest hilarity. 

You’ll also find some character types new to the extended Austensphere, including a firebrand preacher, a pair of ardent dog lovers, and a sardonic Oxford don. It’s a brilliantly witty homage to a beloved novelist’s oeuvre, by the acclaimed author of Bitch In a Bonnet: Reclaiming Jane Austen from the Stiff, the Simps, the Snobs and the Saps.

Edgar and Emma is now available through Amazon or Barnes and Noble, or for download it for Kindle. Other sales channels and ebook formats are forthcoming.

If you read it and like it, please consider leaving a review on the Amazon or B&N page. I can’t overstate how much difference that makes.

Thank you for your kind attention. Now go—enjoy!

Friday, June 10, 2016

They’re merry. Got a problem with that?

The first issue of my new comics series, Merry Men (featuring the gorgeous artwork of Jackie Lewis and colorist Marissa Louise) goes on sale this week. It’s a retelling of the Robin Hood legend, based on the premise that he was a sexual outlaw rather than a brigand—that the crew in Sherwood Forest were less a band of thieves than a band of lovers. It’s based on scholarly speculation, and on the observation by Thomas Hahn that "Whatever people think Robin Hood is, Robin Hood is." I think the concept has tremendous resonance for us today, in a cultural landscape that accommodates both the Occupy and marriage-equality movements.

I’ve long nourished a love of history and historical fiction, and this is my first chance to plunge into that deep well of story and metaphor. I’m having the time of my life, and I hope you’ll join me. If you do…let me know what you think. I’d love to trigger a dialogue with this book. 

Praise for Merry Men:
"It is my great pleasure to bring you this review, because this comic blows past all sorts of social norms and boundaries…Not only does the comic have queer characters, there are also POC, bisexual and transgender characters. And it’s glorious." Critical Threat Comics & Games

"Whether or not the original tales of Robin Hood actually have such roots, this is a perfect 21st century take that works as both a slash fiction romp and an appropriate allegory for the legislative and religious battles the LGBTQ community faces today.” Mental Floss

"A dynamic new telling of the Robin Hood legend, peppered with humanity, heart, and men kissing each other. Fun stuff!" Eric Shanower (Age of Bronze)

"Merry Men transcends its high concept and is an impressively researched and compellingly delivered alternative take on the familiar Robin Hood legend. An intense, dangerous world with a modern twist, this is a book to savor." Marc Andreyko (Manhunter, Batwoman)

"Merry Men deftly weaves queer themes into Robin Hood's counterculture mythos, creating a very sexy and relevant take on the hero we all grew up with." Ed Luce (Wuvable Oaf)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

In re: Caitlyn Jenner

There are two points I've been making in conversation recently:

First: The America I grew up in, and refuse to abandon, has always believed that the essence of courtesy is to treat people the way they wish to be treated. What that means in practice is that when Bruce Jenner reintroduces himself as a woman, you treat her as a woman. Whether you like it or understand it or are comfortable with it is entirely irrelevant. In fact, the more dissonant your feelings, the greater the act of civility. 

Second—not to bang the "America" drum too much here, but what the hell, THEY do—America prides itself on being the place where anyone with sufficient will and resolve can achieve the identity he/she has always wanted. We should be grateful to people, like the transgendered who fully transition, who demonstrate that so dramatically. They remind us of our own possibilities. I suspect a lot of the hostility directed at Jenner is from people who gave up on, or are afraid even to begin, their own, far less daunting journeys. In fact I'd bet money on it.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Essentially Postmillennial

The final volume in my Robert Rodi Essentials series is now available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, among others. It's a new novella collection that updates all the characters from my nineties novels to 2014. Who's still around? Who's dearly departed? Who's still together, who's broken up? Who's on Grindr, who's on Propecia?

It's very likely my final farewell to these characters, who have been living in my head for two decades. It's a little bit bittersweet and a lot of fun. If you check it out, please let me know what you think.

P.S. The ebook edition is only 99 cents! Incentive, baby.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Mebop (cont.)

Had a great crowd—and a tremendous response—at the House of Blues on Sunset Boulevard. I was in the super-swank Foundation Room, with Matt Yeakley on guitar and Bill Markus on bass, and we did ourselves some serious swinging. Here's a video (very much bootleg) of my take on Thelonious Monk's "Ba-lue Bolivar Blues"—which I've retitled "Poppa's Resolution"—followed by my lyrics.

The clouds rollin’ in, the tide’s rollin’ out
But Poppa been standin’ still
You know you can’t win, you know it’s a rout
If you don’t climb up that hill
I’m through playin’ games, I’m taking down names
I’m stakin’ my claims, James

The wind’s comin’ up, the shit’s goin’ down
But Poppa been cool as ice
If you don’t stand up, can’t make it your town
Ain’t nobody tell you twice
I’m ending the wait, it’s never too late
I’m filling my plate, Nate

The band’s playin’ on, the crowd’s getting’ off
But Poppa been sailin’ through
You can’t throw no shade, got no right to scoff
If you ain’t done somethin’ new
I’m fillin’ my tank, I’m pullin’ my rank
I’m betting the bank, Frank
I'm hoping to bring the show to a New York venue next. In the meantime, I'm working on new material—writing lyrics to additional bebop classics by composers I haven't yet taken on—and with a little luck I'll be able to keep doing this for some time to come. Meantime, I am havin' me some righteous good times.