Spawn of Mars
Don't worry. If you like your religion, you can keep your religion.
Sundry & Motley
As of December
Thursday, December 17, 2020 4:52 pm
To begin with, I am terrible at avoiding the internet. I can manage an entire day without Twitter or blogs; but at night I always fall off the bandwagon. One of the reasons I am a teetotaller is that I never trusted myself not to be become a drunk. It's embarrassing that I need an internet fix. 

Of late I've not even bothered abstaining. I check several times a day. Sure, the anxiety about the unresolved election isn't helping. At his point I wish the execution would just happen. It is clear that the country is thick with corruption and cowardice. Let's be done with it all already. Hope is for chumps.

Oddly, a brief check of the internet, in between perfectly productive activities and recreations, genuinely alleviates a kind of tension inside. I don't like this about me. I really do have a touch of the drunk. But there it is.

So the next time I swear off the internet, know that I am deluding myself, and ignore me.

Luckily I have not been wallowing in ephemera. This past month I wrote another work of fiction. That brings to four the number of works that I have written in 2020. Hardly the speed of pulp, I know, but damn fast for me. My latest is a fictional review of a fictional book about a fictional disproof of the Reimann Hypothesis. It's math fiction! With a blush of the weird, of course. It might be barely suitable for Stupefying Stories, but to be honest I wrote it for myself. (I had intended to write my not-maple-syrup story "for myself," but then had an impulse to write this other one instead.)

I've written only one other fictional review (that one a theater review, available in my non-SF collection The Chicken Bone). The fictional review is not a literary form I often read. I wrote mine mostly under inspiration from Stanislaw Lem, whose examples (as in A Perfect Vacuum) I have read and enjoyed.

So what's next? Well, these first four years of my retirement have produced twelve new stories. (Only twelve, yes. Again, I am a tortoise.) The first seven make a perfect collection. The next five can make another, if I include a sixth. So I am going to write a one-off short, most likely what I have designated my "Bodyguard" or "Praetorian" story, about a Secret Service agent who loyally protects the alien "King" of the USA.

P.S. I will not make these SF collections available to the public until each of the stories has been published in some magazine (and, of course, released from exclusivity). Self-publishing on its own, as I have said before, is euthanasia for my stories.

P.P.S. I am still waiting on word from StoryHack about An Uncommon Day at the Lake. It's only been a couple of months, but I am getting antsy. Also, I still have no idea what's up with my two stories at Stupefying. I'm reluctant to nag them, so I just keep checking their blog for schedules, to get some sense of anything. They're overdue for Issue #23. I am discouraged. But we'll see.

Yes, I like The Expanse. But you know what's annoying me? Apparently the future is a gynarchy. Women dominate all positions, political or scientific. They are the majority of any team. Pay attention; you’ll see. True, that does not make The Expanse unrealistic. After all, current America is a gynarchy, not least in its emasculation. But it does make The Expanse a tad tedious.

It was especially annoying in season four, when a Belter ship could be saved only through the combined efforts of Naomi, a clever female terrorist, and the terrorist's clever daughter. They literally had a no-name male character in the background nodding his head with subservient pride at the brilliance of the young girl, who apparently has preternatural skills and is able to solve it all, despite lacking an actual engineering education.

And Lord God above, if I see one more distaff hacker-tech-nerd on TV, I am going to kill somebody. If the natural impulse is to place a man, you just know they’ll square-peg a woman into that round hole.

I'm not accusing The Expanse of political correctness, as such (although I did stop reading the books because of their wokeness). The rot in our minds is so great now, that were the story to allow men and women their proper balance, our heads would start hurting and our stomachs start churning, the pain unabating until every two men are replaced with two women, and the third man is made a subordinate. I'm glad that I still recognize this revolution for what it is; but it does make me an utter curmudgeon. I can't wholly enjoy anything new. Everything new just has a bad feminist taste.

P.S. Oh, I am aware that the primary characters are not all women. I submit that one of the reasons The Expanse seems so good is that, despite everything else in the show, men are actually playing the key roles in the narrative. That just feels right, does it not?

Earlier in this post I said that hope is for chumps. I am not hopeful about America. Nevertheless I am saying rosaries these days, not so much for Trump but for the Republic (although I do believe it is critical he prevails). I know that God is concerned with the salvation of souls and not, per se, the course of human events, and the successful theft of the election might be, over decades or centuries, better for populating Heaven; but I also know that Justice is not to be scorned, and it's a different kind of despair to say, “Why bother? God has His own plans.” America needs a Lepanto. Will God give us one? Probably not. I’m really not hopeful. Still... I pray.

Sundry & Motley
As of November & the Collapse of the Republic
Friday, November 6, 2020 12:37 am
Looks like I missed October's update. Sorry. I know no one reads this blog anyhow. If you do, I apologize for doubting your existence.

I sold another story, this one to Cirsova. Not The Impossible Footprint, which, as you may recall, was pre-emptively rejected because of its length. Instead, having decided not to give up on contributing to Cirsova for 2021, I whipped up a 1,200-word short called Dead Neighbor, which Alex the editor bought. So that's nice! 

Still waiting on word from StoryHack about An Uncommon Day at the Lake. Bryce the editor had some 50 submissions, so I won't be impatient. I know I'll hear about it soon enough. Boy, I hope he accepts it. A rejection would pretty much terminate my StoryHack career. Hamlin Becker is my Action-Adventure mode, and his tales are a continuing series.

Meanwhile, Stupefying Stories is resurfacing. I saw an interview with Bruce the editor, and their blog is active again. I know Bruce has had a difficult year, not least personally, but he seems back on track. My two stories Banana Man and Wayward Scarecrow might get published after all. I haven't heard anything yet, however.

Back when music was released on LPs, often an artist would blend one song into the next, creating continuous music through the briefly widened needle-path between tracks. When CDs of such old LPs came out, I was repeatedly disappointed by the harsh discontinuity between tracks, a moment of blank sound where no blankness used to be. I never understood such sloppiness in the CD transfers.

Recently, for some reason, I was motivated to buy Animals by Pink Floyd, which I never got on CD and haven't heard in decades. Much to my surprise, there are no discontinuities. Nor on Wish You Were Here, which I also just re-acquired. It's a beautiful thing. Did they finally figure out how to digitally execute the artist's original blending? Or did they just stop being sloppy?

By the way, Animals is really, really good. I'm not a huge prog-rock fan, but I like this album even more than I once did. Definitely Pink Floyd's best.

In my continuing struggle with Twitter, I have resolved to disengage. From Twitter, YouTube, and all blogs. The proximate cause is the election. I don't care what happens anymore. I don't want to know. This Republic is truly done. Life is too short to care. I'll leave it to others.

Obviously I have not left the internet; but my own blogging is a solipsistic affair. And while I will keep my Twitter account open as a sort of RSS feed for this blog, as well as to signal-boost publishing announcements from myself, Cirsova, StoryHack, and Stupefying Stories, I will do so delicately, with blinders on. With luck I'll never learn who the President is. Ha.

Speaking of Twitter, here's a couple of tweets of mine that I thought were worth rescuing.

  • "Convergent" evolution: The admission that evolution relies not on random mutation but on a set of paradigmatic responses to potential turns of events. The mutations are, as it were, built in.

  • What prevents the Woke from writing good entertainment is that good entertainment accords with the natural order. We are entertained when we sense right and wrong, male and female, God and joy. Those are things the Woke hate. Thus, the Woke cannot entertain us.

    One of the best days of the year is when, in October, I go to the apple orchard with my brother's family, to gather apples and to overload on donuts and cider. In recent years I have later made an apple pie for myself. I'm not much of a cook, but I am a decent baker. Here's a couple of pictures of my Dutch Apple Pie for 2020.

    It was quite delicious!
  • Wednesday, October 7, 2020 10:55 am
    Indian Summer. The Janus Season. My patio furniture is put away, yet the falling leaves dislodged some sun and warmth and so I unfolded a chair. I sat on my patio in long sleeves and bare feet, reading under the drowsy trees.

    You Will Be Assimilated
    My Career as a Cartoonist
    Tuesday, May 12, 2020 10:33 pm
    Recently I noted that I have, on occasion, attempted to make clever-funny comics. Prompted by that note I have finally finished a certain comic, the rough pencil sketch of which has been stashed near my desk for years.

    Since there is a lot of talking in the comic, I didn't directly ink the text. The text and layout and so on were done on PC (in GIMP). I did draw the one character, in ink and water (using nib and brush). I then scanned the drawing and integrated it with the layout.

    My scanner is so old — an Epson Perfection 1200U — that a driver hasn't been released since Windows XP. Luckily I can use one of the later Epson drivers, although there's a bit of jiggering to do so. I thought it was already installed on my PC but apparently my Windows 7 64-bit forgot it was there, and I had to reinstall. Bothersome.

    To keep the comic legible I had to make it too big to fit in the normal column of this blog. The image will overlap to the right but should be fine on most browsers. If not so on yours, download the image (via right-click) and view it elsewise.

    Enjoy!  


    24-Hour Bacon
    My Career as a Cartoonist
    Sunday, May 3, 2020 4:02 am
    Many thousands of years ago, given that I have something of a talent for art and (maybe) for humor, I tried making some clever-funny comics. Not many have survived. I unearthed this one an hour ago. It was drawn with ink and brush. There was a bit of photo-duping and keylining (e.g., you can see that the frame outlines are all the same). It's amusing.

    Christmas Greetings from People I Don't Know
    Antique Postcards, a Century On
    Saturday, November 30, 2019 5:56 pm
    As I mentioned in a post in 2017, for Christmas I decorate my mantle with antique postcards. I bought these from boxes in antique shops. Since it is now properly after Thanksgiving, I have now placed my Christmas decorations; and for fun I present to you a couple of those postcards. 

    Postmarked December 27, 1915

    Master Charles Schoonover, Argosy, Ind., P.O.B. 82.

    Dear Buddie; We arrived here in Chicago alright last night. We are going down town today[.] Am going to buy you your muff[.] Maybe[.] Love Helen

    Happy New Year

    You must be a good boy Buddie, + Helen will bring you some things + your muff. Best Love + Kisses to Mama + Papa

    Postmarked December 23, 1920

    Mr. and Mrs. Ernest C. Stiles, Milan, N.H. R.F.D. #1

    Well folks how do you do this Winter and how is Dwight? Does he walk alone yet? I would like to see all of you very much[.] Do you have a Xmas tree at the school house this year? Hasn't this been a fine Winter so far? A good many are going with autos yet. Suppose you are just as busy as ever, on the jump all the time. Would like to hear some selections on the piano tonight, it would sound pretty good to me. With love from Ina


    It's amusing how Helen is focused on a muff for Buddie. A muff she may or may not purchase! Was Helen Buddie's big sister? An aunt?

    Ina has more to say than Helen. I'm not sure what she means by "A good many are going with autos yet." I think I'm missing a meaning of "yet." Is she saying that a lot of people are driving cars? Or not driving, because of the winter weather? I really like the phrase "on the jump all the time." Ina's thoughts are appropriately scattered for a missive on a postcard. I'd like to hear some selections on a piano myself; and I enjoy the image of little Dwight walking alone at last.

    Not Quite Decking the Halls
    But a Very Pleasant Array
    Tuesday, November 28, 2017 12:12 pm
    In years past, my curmudgeonly sadness was such that I refused to decorate my home for Christmas. In recent years, however, this year included, I have been quite in the spirit. And much as this is not really a personal blog, I'd still like to share my usual Christmas decor. 

    My home is rather spartan; my decor likewise. Here is my mantle. You can see some figurines, a stocking, and some Christmas postcards. The postcards are real and actually mailed, but are not from my own family history. I bought them in an antique shop. They are evocative. The newest is dated 1925; the oldest 1913.

    This figurine I also bought in an antique shop. It is pretty and offers a lovely flavor of the early 1960s.*

    These figurines are antique, too, and also from the 1960s, but are from my family.

    This manger was built by my dad for me, I think before 2005. Isn't it great? And my mother bought me the figurines, one or two a year, slowly fleshing out the crowd around Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. (You can't quite see it, but the place for Jesus is empty. I don't put him out until Christmas Eve.)

    Here is my tree. A proper bachelor's tree; a gift from my mother. I've had to restring the lights once. The original lights died.

    The angel at the top I inherited after my dad died and my mother faded. My mother bought it for their first Christmas as man and wife, in 1962. It cost $1.25. That was apparently a lot in 1962, especially since my parents, middle class or not, were poor at the time. This angel was at the top of every one of my family's Christmas trees. Here it is in 2017. It is truly an article of family history.



    * Later it seemed to me that the figurine might be a tad older than the 1960s. The polka-dot outfit, the feet that aren't feet, and just the general look more evoked the 1950s.


    Well, I inspected it, and saw that its bottom was marked JAPAN. So it was made in Japan. Now, from my slight forays into the antique world, I knew that during the occupation of Japan by America after WWII, exports had to be marked OCCUPIED JAPAN. I knew that the Occupation ended in the early 1950s — 1952, as I recently confirmed. So this figurine, which lacks the mandated OCCUPIED, is at least post-1952, and the 1950s saw a lot of figurines exported from Japan.

    So, "late 1950s" might be the better guess for this pretty little elf. You know: back before everything got ugly.

    Magazines
    StoryHack #6
    Stupefying Stories #22
    Cirsova: Winter 2020
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