Monthly Archives: December 2014

Storymatic

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[1st Note: If I had enough readers, I’d ask them whether they thought my method of starting posts with background story was annoying or boring. I find dry entries to be boring. Or the really short ones: “Found this [picture] cool.” Well, I hope the thing they are referring to is cool because their blog post is a twitter entry. I HATE TWITTER! On that note: I HATE FACEBOOK! We should have more to say than 100 characters or whatever it is (yes, I agree, some should be restricted to 2 to 3 characters) and so I hope the background story is not boring, and I do try to make them short.]

[2nd note: I reserve the right, in the future, upon having a book or story to sell, to reverse this hatred of Twitter and Facebook and shamelessly use it to sell my wares!]

{3rd Note: But that is all, I am too prolix a writer, perhaps even garrulous, for such restrictions as one can tell just from this post. GET TO THE POINT ALREADY!!!]

{4th Note: Actual subject of this post starts 10 paragraphs down!]

So we’re at the Bellevue Square Mall today to have my iPhone repaired as I cracked the screen at work. We had 45 minutes to kill. Unlike the Christians, who have 12 days of Christmas starting on the 25th, there are four to five days of Christmas in the secular calendar consisting of Christmas itself followed by four to five days known as The Great Return (where, I suppose most people return the shit they received for shit they really want – I never return – it’s rude). And I suppose they’ll have to change it to the great “buy my own shit days” because a lot of people merely buy each other cards.

Yes, I find our modern, secular Christmas to be frivolous at best, a recipe for despair at its worst.

I am not a secularist. I am also not a Christian (I lack faith in the resurrection of Christ, and that, as they say, is to lack it all) but I am a mystic.

And by that diatribe above I mean to say the mall was BUSY.

So we had time to kill because the mall was packed. Most of the stores are (way!) overpriced garment shops for women with a dress size of 2 or below and men unsure of their sexual orientation. I mentioned to the wife that what the mall needed was a really cool store. Then we turned a corner and found a really cool store called MARBLES: THE BRAIN STORE.

Although the home screen of the web page doesn’t really show it off, Marbles has all sorts of brain games. Uno can be fun if you have a child in the house but gets boring really quick. They have everything: Solitaire Chess where you learn the game in smaller pieces before you apply it to the full format. That I will probably buy in the future. Always wanted to be a decent player but never found a good strategy for improvement. Breaking something down into manageable pieces is a proven method for skill development.

There is the super trivial pursuit style game: Mindstein. Each card has five questions, multiple choice, each answer has a letter, the combination of correct answers spells out a word, you have to get the answers right to spell out the word (I suspect after 3 questions you could guess like on Wheel of Fortune). I was impressed with the questions – they were not dumbed down.

And then they have books of puzzles, the graphic logic puzzles, the hierarchical, or ordinal logic puzzles (Harry was 1 inch taller than Suzy who was taller than Gary, etc,) one book had a regular search a word that, when completed, was a summary of a literary work, and to finish you had to deduce the literary work.

I mention these because they are fun and I feel too many people nowadays focus on the body to the exclusion of the mind – and the exclusion of the soul. It is not true, is not freaking true, that to Continue reading

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Sci Phi Journal Issue #3!

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Is Here! Go get yourself a copy! I edited a nice chunk of it – well, I hope. I got a free copy and I still bought one! And please do a review so not only the contributors are leaving ones.


Page Publishing

I saw an ad for this company on television last night Page Publishing. It is, as far as I have read, a self-publishing house that will prepare your manuscript, distribute and market it digitally and hardcopy. Not that I have anything ready to go, but I thought I would have a look-see.

Seems to be a relatively new company. Going through its author testimonials most of the books were published within the last 12 months. I copy and pasted the author’s names into amazon to look up information on their works. All the books I looked up were in the #1,000,000 to 10,000,000 rank. I think that is close to selling zero copies. The reviews were pretty dubious as well. They looked like they were written up by family members or the author themselves. Third possibility the company pays someone next to nothing in Manila to write reviews. Almost all the reviews for these books (for the ones that had any, and even those that did were relatively few) were 5 stars.

5 stars? All five stars? What book gets all five stars?

It should go without saying that you could get a deal with Random house and end up with the same fate. That is where most writers end up – some go straight there and stay there.

What it is though, this Page Publishing is a hidden cost – not scam – but they are not very up front with the whole deal. You can order the FREE Author Submission Kit. That, my friend, I can guarantee you, is the last free thing you will get.

Take a look at all they offer without ever mentioning money. On the FAQ page, they have a question about how much the author will make for each digital sale. Page Publishing claims to only make 20 cents from each digital sale. After all that work?

A tie-in question. What about percentages on hardcopy sales? Shouldn’t there be a Continue reading


Calvary & Christmas Movies

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CALVARY is not a Christmas movie although it is has a Christian theme.

Brendan Gleeson plays Father James, a Catholic priest, in an abusive, hostile, post sexual abusive scandal, small town in Ireland. These people are not only jerks, they are a motley mess of vices and malice. The vice and malice is directed at him.

I’ll give only the opening scene. Father James is sitting in the confessional reading while awaiting a penitent. One arrives and starts telling the priest about violent sexual assaults he suffered at the hands of a priest while he was growing up. The abusive priest is now dead. The person says this (quoting from memory) “Father, I am going to kill you. Killing an evil priest is nothing, but to kill a good one, ah, that is making a statement. I’m going to kill you next Sunday.”

The rest is up to you. I thought it an excellent, disturbing film. Note the title of the movie.

The only problem I had was in the write up of the film. On iTunes it was touted as a “wickedly funny black comedy”.

Whoever wrote that either did not see the film, or is rather sick in the head. When the first thing the man tells the priest is the first time he tasted semen was when he was seven years old (relating to his abuse) did this person laugh? There were a few light exchanges to be found in the film, a humorous quip here and there as one would find in any other drama. But that film was not a comedy, not by any non-nihilistic person.

That line is from a review of the movie from Time Out. The writer warns the reader that Calvary is not as filled with “big guffaws” as the director’s previous movie “The Guard”. And that the humor is dark enough to be an acquired taste that some may not be able to take.

Quite true if it were a comedy.  If it was they missed entirely and made a very moving drama instead. Was I supposed to laugh when the millionaire took down one of his expensive paintings and proceeded to Continue reading


Alley Oop! – It’s All in the Listening, Or It’s About the Other

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Merry (belated) Christmas!

One early morning a couple of months ago the wife and I were going for a walk. Now, we’ve been married for almost 22 years, and, over time, there is little that one doesn’t reveal to the other. No, I’m not talking about shady secrets or anything like that. I’m talking about good things, fond memories, childhood interests, views on certain things of the world or not of the world.

The previous evening I had come across, on the ol’ internet, Alley Oop. Back in the late 70’s while my parents were contemplating moving the family to Tucson, AZ they subscribed to the Arizona Daily Star newspaper. In that paper’s funny pages was a strip called Alley Oop. It has been in constant production and syndication for many decades now. When I was reading it, Alley Oop was just transported by time machine into the present day by Dr. Elbert Wonmug. I was hooked on that storyline and eagerly awaited the Sunday edition of the ADS to show up every week.

Sometimes it wouldn’t show up for weeks!

It was one of the strips that got me into a somewhat brief interest in cartooning. I even produced an amateurish series called “Gepo” who was a butterball of an alien and his friend Tim. I think I may have been influenced by E.T. as well although my character style at that time was closer to Jim Davis (Garfield) and Mad’s Don Martin:

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Don Martin’s influence on Jim Davis is pretty obvious… I don’t recall which one I came across first.

Anyway time passes – about 30 years – and I come across this childhood love of mine that had totally left my mind. I blabbed about it (probably too much) as we were walking and then I promptly forgot about it again. But my wife, bless her, is always listening (even when I am pretty sure she isn’t!) and today (because bedtime is still several hours away for me) I got the first two volumes of the Dark House Comics oversize format release of the Sundays.

That she remembered blew me away, I didn’t remember.

Then I got a chance to blow her away. This is a little less frequent as I have a severe mental disability. I cannot, except at certain tasks, be on one task at a time mentally. If you are talking to me I am most likely thinking about a story, some philosophical idea (even if our subject already is philosophy) wondering about time and space, the meaning of life – or the particular moment we are in and its relation to the cosmos, or staring at my hand and trying to viscerally imagine it as it will be in the future – dead flesh. Sometimes I even have to go back 10 to 20 pages in my reading because it can be that long before I realize that even though I was, technically, reading, I was not there to register or retain it.

In case you wonder if I live near you (so to avoid me on the road) driving is one of the tasks I can focus exclusively on. The other two I can think of is playing guitar and writing (which includes editing and researching and all that), oh, three drawing. Those three will keep my full focus. Luckily my job demands I focus on 20 things simultaneously and then forgetting it.

Yuck, am I babbling about myself? I criticize other people for this kind of narcissism! Ah well, it’s not like I’ve got you cornered in a small room or something.

So my wife was talking about something really cool that she liked that her friend had showed her back in October. It was a small thing that would normally be grunted at behind a newspaper in television land. One thing I like about the iPhone (I don’t do other products, sorry) is you can jot down reminder notes for later use. So I was grunting while I had my face in my phone because I was jotting down the product she was talking about for Christmas purchase.

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That little figure sitting on the keys is called a Little Sad Keanu Reeves.

Score!


Editing Done

I finished my editing for the upcoming issue of Sci Phi Journal (might be out by Christmas, I’ll post). I basically did a third of the editing (a little less if you count the flash fiction, but I threw in the editor’s From the Editor (that’s not me) and an author’s bio for good measure).

Here are Sci Phi’s past issues. There are only two so far, three is on its way. Buy it! I want to keep doing this. I’d be in dog heaven if I could get paid for it. Also the first two issues sport John C. Wright as contributor. That’s worth the price of admission right there.

It was good fun. I like seeing the polished, final result. I hope I didn’t miss anything… I did a last minute final check before it goes to the editor for finalization. I like solving a problem like “is the double space after sentences still used?” “workout is a word but is worksout? Better go research it”

Language changes all the time.

And I love spending two hours scouring over the Chicago Manual of Style for a nuance in punctuation.

Until the next issue, if I’m asked back, I going to be busy doing some writing of my own.

“© 2015 Sci Phi Publications
Cover Art by Cat Leonard
Ebook Design by Jason Rennie
Edited by Jason Rennie, Robert J. Wigard and Peter Sean Bradley”

Excerpt From: Jason Rennie. “Sci Phi Journal #3.” iBooks.

See? That’s me name on the 4th line, 3rd name.


SJW’s and Metalgate

I got this in the email yesterday. I used to be a subscriber to his now defunct magazine The Intellectual Activist. I guess I must still be on the (e)mailing list because I get these once in a while.

I don’t get out very much. Which means when I got this email I had to look up what an SJW was. Social Justice Warrior.

Oy vey, not these assholes. I had heard of Gamergate but it didn’t really sound like anything serious to me and I’ve become rather apathetic about the world at large around me. It sounded like a bunch of gamers were getting sick of being picked on because their female warriors are curvy Amazons with 42inch e-cup breasts. While I am sure a more athletic, trim build would yield better results on the battlefield, at least in term of litheness of movement (as I am not too sure how easy it is to wield a Claymore in skin tight leather and bazongas that rise to the level of your chin, let alone move around easily at all).

Apparently it goes much deeper than that. These are the political correctoids. These are the supposed people that fought off the supposed shackles of white, male, Christian oppression, and now, in the ascendancy, are fully prepared to enact one of their own.

Now Metalgate. Basically a bunch of unemployable do-nothings educated by college unemployables (outside the lunatic asylums of the universities) are raising a fracas about metal being naughty and trying to promote their own “artists” to expand the metal audience (largely male and white) just like they did in the field of science fiction and fantasy. I’m not going to get into the details (it’s about an hour of work just to get your bearings in that mine field).

There is complaining about the rampant misogyny and the use of non-acceptable words. This is HEAVY METAL we are talking about. When the hell did it get to the point where it is supposed to be soft and safe?

Granted, metal is basically a cess pool with a few bright spots. But who takes this stuff seriously?

Who takes the hair metal of the 80’s seriously? Who takes butt-rock seriously after Spinal Tap’s song Big Bottoms?

The bigger the cushion, the sweeter the pushin
That’s what I said.
The looser the waistband, the deeper the quicksand
Or so I have read.
My baby fits me like a flesh tuxedo.
I love to sink her with my pink torpedo.
Big bottom
Big bottom
Talk about bum cakes,
My gal’s got ’em.
Big bottom,
Drive me out of my mind.
How can I leave this behind?
I saw her on monday, twas my lucky bun day
You know what I mean.
I love her each weekday, each velvety cheekday
You know what I mean.
My love gun’s loaded and she’s in my sights
Big game’s waiting there inside her tights
Big bottom
Big bottom
Talk about mud flaps
My gal’s got ’em.
Big bottom
Drive me out of my mind.
How can I leave this behind?

I love the mockery here. “I met her on Monday, twas my luck bun day. You know what I mean” This makes fun of the overt crudity in rock lyrics usually followed by “if you know what I mean” Yeah, you didn’t leave a lot to guess about buddy.

“How can I leave this behind?” Priceless.

Who can take the misogyny seriously after the same (fictional) band’s song Bitch School which was clearly directly mocking this most atrocious song of the hairball 80’s Girl School by the “so glad you’re gone forever now don’t come back” band Britny Fox?

Bitch School

You been bad
Don’t do what I say.
You don’t listen.
And you never obey.
Try to teach you.
But you just won’t be good.
You won’t behave the way
A big girl should.
It’s time to give the whip a crack.
I’m gonna have to send you back to
Bitch School.
Bitch School.
You’re a beauty.
You’re the best of your breed.
You’re a handful.
And I know what you need.
You need training.
Gonna bring you to heel.
I’m gonna break you with my will of steel.
Discipline’s my middle name.
And no one comes back the same from
Bitch School.
Bitch School.
No more sniffling strangers, or running free at night.
You think my bark’s bad, honey – wait till you feel my bite.
You got problems.
You whine and you beg.
When I’m busy,
You wanna dance with my leg.
I’m gonna chain you.
Make you sleep out of doors.
You’re so fetching when you’re down on all fours.
And when you hear your master,
You will come a little faster, thanks to
Bitch School.

The song is actually a great double entendre. It plays on that ever so employed method of rock music lyrics, clearly the meaning is for human women, but the performer gets to smile and innocently say, “are you messed up? its about a dog!”

This is one of the things that SJW’s will force out of our lives. In general the color, diversity of life. And things such as Spinal Tap that shows us the absurdity that we sometimes swing to.

The Borg was not a fictional invention, people.


Dr. Scrooge

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I think I will make this a Christmas season ritual until I exhaust it. Every year Capitalism Magazine republishes a diatribe by Leonard Peikoff called: CHRISTMAS SHOULD BE MORE COMMERCIAL.

Dr. Peikoff, for those who do not know the name (and most don’t) is the foremost protege of philosopher Ayn Rand. I was an acolyte of both for a number of years (never met either – through books, tapes, and so on). In my defense I was never a very good follower. I just wasn’t brought up to have the natural sentiments of a temper throwing, selfish ass!

This year I am going to pick on the last sentence of Peikoff’s article. Don’t worry if you didn’t bother to follow the link and read the article, you’re not missing anything but faulty history, jumps in logic, category errors, and the usual shoddy atheistic (mainly Objectivist) nastiness such as “…and self-sacrifice for Tiny Tim or his equivalent.” as if helping poor Tiny Tim out was like Scrooge taking a bullet for a stranger.

But in Objectivistland it is! Ebenezer Scrooge helping Tiny Tim is self-sacrifice. And self sacrifice is evil.

And thus we get to the sentence:

It is time to take the Christ out of Christmas, and turn the holiday into a guiltlessly egoistic, pro-reason, this-worldly, commercial celebration.

Now let’s have some fun and see what is left after you take out Christ from Christmas. Well, you have mass as in Mass, which is the sacrament of the Eucharist, Holy Communion. That can’t be what he means.

But joking aside, let’s take him at his word. Guiltlessly egoistic, this-worldly, commercial, pro-reason. This last merely means atheistic – it is part of taking Christ out of Christmas- being atheistic is pro-reason, being religious, or having faith is anti-reason (which in Objectivist speak is anti-mind and anti-life and the worship of death).

The key elements are (guiltlessly) egoistic and commercial.

What a fun holiday this would be! But I tell you what. I can guiltlessly buy myself commercial shit ALL YEAR LONG! And if I was a guiltlessly selfish sort wanting to revel in a commercial celebration why would I restrain myself to once a year? Am I not then practicing what you are arguing against the rest of the year? Or am I merely saving up for the giant orgy of shit-buying at the great annual atheist commercial celebration? And I have to ask that because why, if I am a guiltlessly egoistic man, would I buy shit for other people? So they would buy shit for me in return? Perhaps I buy better shit for myself than the shit they would buy for me? Why not skip the middle man and we’ll just go our separate ways and buy shit for ourselves?

You notice we’re halfway there on that already with people buying gift cards for each other. I know people who agree on a dollar limit and then get each other gift cards. How stupid is that? You are exchanging $50 for $50! Keep the money and go with my idea! Buy yourselves some shit!

How much more of an impersonal drudgery are we going to let the apostles of self-esteem make the excitement that was once Christmas?

And when that runty bastard Tiny Tim gets in your way (cuz the lad walks slow) on your walk home, shove past him. Outta my way, cripple! Guiltless, remember? Perhaps it is to my satisfaction to sneer at the bugger, what matters it you? I bought all my shit and I want to play with it. This low person is taking up my time, I only have so much of it to live and he is taking some. HE’S MAKING ME SELF-SACRIFICE!!!

Whether you are religious or not, this definition of Christmas is dead water. It calls for no different behavior than people generally display throughout the regular year.

To be continued….

…Unless I’m out buying myself shit….


Eifelheim

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This book has been sitting on my shelf for quite some time. After finally getting through Stephen King’s Lisey’s Story (which turned out to be pretty good despite the fact that he spent most of the time undercutting his characters and telling the reader how someone else referred to something, e.g., “that’s what daddy would call it”) I decided to completely shift gears and try something nowhere related.

That is easy to do since I prefer to stay in the realm of the fantastical whether science fiction, fantasy, tall tales, horror (not as much of a fan as when I was a child).

So I picked this up off the shelf a few days ago. This isn’t really a review since I am only on page 85 (and those few readers here (and I do mean a few) know I don’t really do reviews – it gives it away!).

This man can write. He’s a straightforward writer not prone to Lafferty stylistic flourishes, but he is a vivid, well researched (have your dictionary ready) writer. And by that means he thrusts you into the story.

SPOILERS – Ya, get one warning child.

The story follows a medieval Continue reading


Time to Upgrade the CMOS

No, I am not talking electronics. I’m talking about my Chicago Manual of Style 14th edition from 1993. In it they briefly talk about the increase of writing by computer (they actually had to say these programs are known as word processors) but the book is largely from the point of view of the old proofreading mark-up style. On paper (which I still feel is as it should be).

Anyone ever heard of kerning? Anyone under 30?

I used to know all (well, a lot) those copyediting scribbles and markups.

Anyway this article I’m editing uses two spaces between sentences. Now I do remember many years ago hitting the space key twice on my old Remington after every sentence. But, when reading this article it occurred to me: when did I stop doing that? Who told me to stop doing that?

I spent a half hour trying to find the rule in my CMOS. Nothing. I tried Google. Got a lot of hits on that. Double spacing after sentences is out. The newer edition, now 16th, has an entry called Spacing: between words and sentences 2.9, 2.11.

Perhaps it wasn’t mentioned in the older CMOS due to manual typesetting or something, or the difference in fonts. I don’t suppose anyone edits on paper anymore. Except for Harlan Ellison’s editor because Ellison refuses to use a computer. So I’ve read.

The problem is I like to include the CMOS citation for corrections, unless they are obvious mess-ups. And, it needn’t be said, not every rule applies, especially in fiction where a broken rule is often on purpose.