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gut-wrenching suspense
science fiction
a mind-bending science fiction stunner

Mind Over Matter

Marketing minefield

September 1, 2015

Tags: marketing, caution, Fletcher Hanks

When I was a kid, one of the Kentucky State Fair sideshow exhibits was called “The Pygmy King and the Deadly Serpents.” The poster outside the tent … well, you can imagine. It was probably done by the same Fletcher Hanks-esque artist (look him up; you’ll be stunned at his story) who did most (more…)

Hanging out with Davey jones

August 27, 2015

Tags: cruise, vacation, seasickness

First cruise my wife and I were ever on was a fourteen-day Caribbean extravaganza on a monster ship, all paid for by my former company. Great fun was had by everyone until the tenth night out when we caught the back end of a hurricane.

The next twenty-four hours were interesting; you know you’re in a bad blow when you see the crew heeling around and calling for Ralph. At the height of the fun–when I concluded we were going to break in half and plummet toward the sea floor–I didn’t know whether to make my way to the bar and meet my end buzzed to the gills, or read Poe’s "MS Found in a Bottle" with my chin up and go out like a man.

Neither, it turned out, and after Neptune got over his hissy fit the rest of the voyage was as terrific as the first.

Okra: Nature's Snot Locker

August 27, 2015

Tags: vegetables, summer

Years ago when we lived in the sticks we grew our own veggies, including okra. While admittedly it's an acquired taste (the slime inside will eventually cook out), if you let the pods get no bigger than the first joint of your thumb they can add a tasty texture to soups and stews.

One summer around mid-July we had a bumper crop, and I mentioned to our two young sons that okra will get longer and more wood-like as the season goes on, soon reaching the point they become inedible. At that both my boys got the idea of letting one little okra go, just to see how long it would get.

And did it change? Sure did. Summer waxed and waned, and we harvested everything in that garden ... except for that mutant hell-pod. Each day it became more distended and grotesque, until I half-expected a terrified Kevin McCarthy to come up screaming and pounding on our car windows, "You're next!!"

Came October and a couple days before a predicted killing frost, and by mutual agreement we cut the thing at last. By then it was two feet long, as thick as a bratwurst, and covered with spines and knots.

We dried it, and the kids used it as a sword.

from the depths

August 10, 2015

Tags: Dean Koontz

Lately I’ve been reading some older Dean Koontz paperbacks, and the last one I finished, The Bad Place, is a corker. It’s a mishmosh of genres--science fiction, horror, comedy, tragedy, suspense, even a spiritual subtext--but somehow he pulls it all together, and the result is a mindbending roller-coaster ride that’s not for the squeamish.

In his updated afterword he addresses the topic of where he got his idea for this one. Everyone from his close friends and loved ones to his editor and agent all said essentially the same thing to him: “Dean, for God’s sakes, what dark corner of your mind did you pull THIS one out of?”

Therein hangs the tale. I think every man-jack (and woman-jill) of us puts some of our “real selves” on the page, whether we set out to or not. The truly scary part comes when strangers read our works and judge not only the writing, but–quite possibly–the fevered brains that produced it.

It’s all of a piece, though, and unless one is writing math textbooks, I don’t see any way of us avoiding a little literary nudity.

voting time again? oh, NOES!

July 12, 2015

Tags: voting. elections, President

Well, the mid-year elections are finally over, the victors are popping champagne corks while the losers eye high bridges, and the Presidential political season is upon us again. Lock your vaults and hide your daughters.

It seems every politician, known and unknown, from both sides of the aisle, is throwing his (or her; hi Hillary!) hat into the ring. Or since hats are passe, "forming exploratory committees." You know. Like a colonoscopy.

The runup to the Presidential choosing is policial Darwinism at its most elemental. "Dog eat dog" is too bland a phrase for what we're about to witness; "slash and burn" says it more plainly. And brother, does it seem to take forever, this time we're entering. If farming season lasted as long, we'd be harvesting green beans the size of dugout canoes. This Chinese water torture we Americans put ourselves through every four years puts me in mind of a childhood memory.

When I was a boy, my family would sometimes take Sunday drives. Long Sunday drives. Endless, bleak, soul-killing, waiting-for-Godot Sunday drives. There we'd be, my dad behind the wheel of our Ford Galaxy (Clark Kent hat tilted at a rakish angle), my mom beside him. In the back seat were my little brother, and yours truly.

Along about the eighteenth hour (or so it seemed) of the drive, my brother and I would grow bored, although "bored" doesn't really say it; that's like calling the firebombing of Dresden a "warmish day." Anyway, Scott would casually throw his leg over mine. I'd toss it back. He'd do it again, with a bit more force. I'd toss it back. He'd stick his tongue out at me. I'd look back and pretend to eat boogers. He'd pinch me. I'd slug him. And so on.

The only thing that could end the fun was my dad, eyes still on the road, screaming obscenities while flailing his arm over the back of the seat, hoping to nail one of us, or both. While this occurred my mom would laugh behind her hand, but I still saw it.

That's kind of like what election season is reminiscent of. Yeah.

fashion sense?

May 4, 2015

Buy this book on Kindle! *G*
I’m a child of the sixties/seventies (graduated HS in 1970), but it takes stuff like looking through my old annual to remind me of how utterly ridiculous the fashion sense (?) was in that benighted decade. Now that I’m an old dude past sixty, I wonder if when I’m eighty I’ll likewise look at pictures of current clothing with equal horror.

I’m going to say yes, but qualify it with the fact that some of what today’s flaming youth is sporting is downright hilarious. To wit, the blue jeans with the shortened legs, hung low so the wearer’s underwear-wrapped bony hinder is paramount.

I see these sideways-hatted lads waddling penguin-like down the street, and two thoughts come to mind. One, I hope these kids never have to suddenly run–say, from a cop–because they wouldn’t get two steps before doing a faceplant on the sidewalk. And two, for all their up yours, tough guy posturing, they look very much like the old “Stringbean” character from Hee Haw.

SF lover?

November 12, 2014

Tags: science fiction, dystopian

For a great piece of proto-SF, download a copy of The Machine Stops by E. M. Forster. Written a hundred years before the invention of teh intertoobz, it perfectly limns a society so introverted its inhabitants can only interact with each other over television screens. And then it tells what happens when ,... well, when the machine stops. Chilling.

ponder this

September 28, 2014

Tags: greatness, dreaming

"All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act out their dream with open eyes, to make it possible."--T.E. Lawrence, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom

On the other hand, 60s TV wasn't so bad...

August 26, 2014

Tags: televsion, classic shows least in retrospect. The other day I was thinking about shows I used to watch as a teenager in the 60s, and thought of The FBI. Every week as theme music swelled, the voice-over guy would intone, “A Quinn Martin Production.”

As I recall, Mr. Martin produced a whole lot of 60’s shows, including two of my faves: The Fugitive (“No, my name ISN’T Kimble-Hank-Kimble, it’s Richard Kimble! I’m a doctor, not a county agent!”)and The Invaders (“Say, what’s wrong with your little finger? Why’s it bent like that?”). Good times…

the dangers of TV

July 20, 2014

Tags: Nashville, Heading Home

Apropos of nothing, my wife and I were watching the local news one night when the main camera at the studio croaked, just as dead as Julius Caesar. It was a tense (for the station), but funny (for the viewers) ninety or so seconds until they got the auxiliary camera powered up. You just never know what's going to happen on live TV.

Which brings me to this: I was a broadcasting major, and wa-a-a-ay back in the day I ran camera for a KET series on Kentucky law enforcement.

So first day of the shoot we had this state trooper captain who looked like Paul Bunyon’s bigger and less humorous brother sitting there, droning on about last year’s highway fatality stats when blam, a fill light exploded, showering him with molten quartz. Thankfully he was wearing his Smokey hat, and so most of the hellish stuff missed his skin (it did burn some deep holes in his uniform, though).

Needless to say, he was Not Amused.

All that to say, I hope my TV appearances--when I get them--go off smoothly. *G*