Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Opera Laser Canon Super Weapon

Back in the old days I had a roommate. If I ever wanted to get rid of him for some reason, all I need do was turn on the stereo and play an opera record. Records were these big disks that held music. He’d be gone within minutes. It always worked.

Then, later on in life, there was a time when I would be down in Arizona sometimes visiting my dad. Well, his golden retriever loved to go for rides in the car–any car. And one day I was taking him somewhere and I had the local public radio station on the radio. They started a Metropolitan Opera broadcast. Well, this damn dog stuck his head out of the car so far I thought he was going to fall out. I grabbed him by the collar and yanked him back in. I had to turn off the radio to get him to settle down. Well, later that night, I had the TV on to the PBS station. I was reading something and not paying much attention. Zeto was curled up in the corner snoozing away. Suddenly, some Lincoln Center opera special came on. The dog stood up and glared at me. He was really pissed off. I’m sure he decided I’d deliberately turned on the opera again. He stormed out of the room, quite mad. That dog did not like opera.

I’ll admit opera is an acquired taste. But I don’t think people realize the power of it. Just think, if a teacher had an unruly class, she need only turn on opera for a few minutes and the kids would all be repentant and promising to be good. A boss wishing to punish an office full of malcontents need only change the PA system over to opera. And, to clear out those customers who won’t go home one need only turn on opera at the local bar or restaurant and the people will be hollering for their checks.

I, myself, have done as much in the hotels I’ve worked at. If I wanted to get rid of guests from the lobby, I would change the music over to opera. It always worked. But I forgot to turn it back one day. That actually got me hauled into the general manager’s office where I was asked why I turned on opera. I said it was that way when I came in. He did not believe me. Deep down, I think he knew why I did it and that I would likely do it again.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Trash Monsters

There's these people in my condo complex who keep dumping their regular garbage in the recycling bin.   They've been doing it over a year. They double knot their plastic bags, so I know it's the same person.  We're not even supposed to use plastic bags.  So, some poor guy at the recycling center has to deal with their damn bags of garbage because they think it's funny or whatever their reason is. 
Not much I can do about it. If I knew who they were I'd take their bags of garbage back to their unit. Alas, I do not. In the future I'm certain the scofflaws will be hunted down and killed by android cops. Just you see.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Leprecon Schedule

Well, I finally got my schedule for Leprecon.  Stuff I can handle.  I'm new to this con and looking forward to it. They have a film festival on Thurs night I'm not sure I'm going to, but should be fun.

Meet the Pros Friday, 7-9pm Canyon Room

LIT - Weird Western Tales Friday, 11pm-12 Ballroom B
Readings with David B. Riley
LIT - Independent Publishing Update 2013 Saturday, 11a-12noon Ballroom A
What's new on the horizon for the Indie authors and publishers? There is so much changing that it's hard to keep up with the technology used to support the pros and entertain the masses.

LIT - Are you feeling lucky, punk? Saturday, 9-10pm Ballroom A
We've had cyberpunk, steampunk, dieselpunk, clockpunk and atomic punk. What's the next thing to be "punked"? Has the whole punk thing run its course or will this be a trend that keeps going and if so, how?

Audience with Video & Audio Media Sunday, 11-12 Cabana

 Autographing Session in Dealers’ Room 12 noon - 1pm

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Stealing Toilet Paper

I will soon be going to Arizona for a few days. I hate Arizona. It's a desolate plate where homeless vagrants ravage the countryside much like the mythical zombie hoards.  It's so blasted hot that, when you go outside, you truly believe you've died and you are now in hell itself.  And I think their governor was the retarded girl in my fourth grade class who mysteriously disappeared around Thanksgiving.  All in all, it is a place of no redeeming qualities whatsoever.

But I shall go on my trip there.  And, whilst I am there, I shall steal the extra roll of toilet paper they leave in hotel rooms--assuming they use toilet paper in Arizona.  Why?  That's not an easy answer. As far back as I can remember, I've always taken the roll of toilet paper.  My mother used to wonder where these different brands of toilet paper came from. We'd go on a trip and then, in addition to the usual Scott's, there might be some other brand or brands in the cabinet.  My mother would not buy toilet paper, but that's a different and even stranger story.  Anyway, Mom eventually figured out that I was taking toilet paper from motel rooms.  No matter how often she forbade me, the extra toilet paper would turn up.

Then, as I lived in other places, I continued to take toilet paper whenever I travelled.  Once, whilst I attended the University of Oregon, my parents came to visit me.  After I left the motel they were staying at, my mom noticed the extra roll of toilet paper was gone.  She called me and demanded to know if I had taken the toilet paper. "No, the maid must've done it," said I. And she knew I was lying. And there was an extra roll of toilet paper in my bathroom that night and it was not from Safeway.

And, as the years go by, I still take the toilet paper. And I always will.   And, strangely, I've worked in hotels and I have never stolen a roll of the stuff--not once. But, present me with a hotel bill and any extra toilet paper in my room is history.  I scored two rolls at the hotel for Anomaly Con last month. I wonder how many I'll get in Arizona?

Friday, April 26, 2013

An Extra Virulent Rave About Writing

I’m used to rejection. Most science fiction cons snub me. Most publishers reject everything I send them. So, getting an email telling me they don’t want to buy my new science fiction novel (which I think is really good) from some publisher is hardly news. What caught my eye was the last sentence. They said they weren’t interested in my novel. Then they said I have no commitment to writing. Excuse me? I’ve had three novels published. I’ve edited six anthologies. I’ve had over 100 short stories published. I’m an active member of the HWA. What the hell does it take then?

Little digs like that really make my blood boil. If they don’t want to publish something, so be it. But these extracurricular attacks seem to go beyond the scope of their duties. Fact is, a lot of these editor people are simply assholes. They’ve got a little power, or think they have, and get off putting other people down.

Way back when I was editing the old Trails Magazine, some guy sent me a story. I recognized his name immediately. He was also an editor and had told me to give up writing about a year earlier. Well, I sent him a form letter. I could’ve ripped his mediocre story, but I didn’t want to sink to his level. I wish I had taken his advice, frankly–though not for his reason that I can’t write. I simply think no sane man should ever try and become a writer. It’s just too frustrating. If I had it to do over again, I would never have put pen to paper and become a burglar instead. Breaking into buildings would be far less stressful than writing. I am certain of it. It certainly would pay better.

But this is not my first go round with bizarre digs. The late Marion Zimmer Bradley ripped me for some anthology she was editing (not her regular magazine). She said selling one’s soul to the devil to get published was a real clunker idea. The story I’d sent her had nothing to do with selling anyone’s soul to anyone. I guess she thought maybe I’d sold my soul to get published. No one’s offered to buy it, actually. I thought that was bizarre. Then I sent her another story. She trashed it because she doesn’t take stories with children in them. The story had no child characters and nothing to do with children. I always viewed her as a laughingstock from that day on.

But, going way back to one of my first submissions I ever made, I was ripped viciously by an editor who said I was going to have to do a lot better to make it. Well, I apparently still haven’t made it, but that particular story that she trashed has been reprinted six times. I thought this dreadful woman had attacked me with excessive zeal. And I actually prayed to God to strike her dead. About a month later, I learned she had died. God really came through for me on that one.

I guess that’s one reason why I always advise novice writers to avoid critique groups like the plague. Most of the people out there are morons. Tell the story you want to tell and don’t waste your time seeing what people think. And, if you’re really smart, don’t take up writing.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Typing on Mars

Over at Science Fiction Trails, where I am editor, I get stories. And most of them, the overwhelming majority in fact, are in courier font. This is the most horrible type font on Earth. Why do so many writers use this eye numbing font? Because they’re idiots. And, to some degree, because it’s the type font in about 90% of typewriters. That brings us back to the idiot part. Computers aren’t typewriters. They can run rings around typewriters. I know one particular writer who thinks it’s quaint to sit around and type stories on a typewriter instead of a computer. Then he scans them into the computer and sends it off in that mind numbing type font. We are not amused. Another reason I hate courier is it actually takes up about 20 % more space than Times New Roman. So, to all of you writers who keep using courier–screw you all.

On a related note, one of these days I’m going to change my guidelines to ask for 12 point Martian.  There actually is such a type font, but most software won't support it.  They may have it on Mars, too. I don't know what the Martians type with these days. I never get stories from Mars. Will that make any difference in submissions? Probably not. These morons will still use courier.

There’s also the possibility I could start requiring David type. This entire paragraph is in David. It’s not really that bad. I’ve got my own type font. Nah Nah.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Beans, Beans

Beans, beans, they're good for your heart. Beans, beans, they make you fart... I can't remember the rest of the song.

But I am amazed at how good some varieties of canned beans are nowadays.  Two favorites of mine are K C Masterpiece and Bush's Grilling Beans.  They're tender, well seasoned and quite a nice side dish. So, I ran into a former coworker at the local version of Kroger a few days ago. She was buying dry beans. I myself have cooked dry beans. But they're a lot of work.  When you can just open a can and get really good beans and heat them up in a few minutes, the soaking and cooking for hours just does not seem worth it.  I suggested the canned beans and she looked at me as if I'd suggested she take up commercial burglary. Suit yourself lady. But, when you die and get to the Gates of Heaven and St. Peter asks you, "Why didn't you just buy the canned beans that David told you to get?" Well, remember that moment.  I'm sure they serve canned beans in Heaven. I have no doubt about it at all.

In my meganovel, The Devil Draws Two, there's a monastery and the monks have such good beans that the devil himself actually frequents the monastery. He's not up to any mischief.  He just loves their beans, as he explains to Miles O'Malley, the hero of the story. They don't have good beans to eat in hell for some reason. This of course, was before these really good high quality beans were on the market. 

By the way, if you're prone to gas problems, that Beano stuff really does work. 

Another thing, if you have a dog feed fido your leftover beans, don't throw them out. Dogs just love beans (with the possible exception of the spicy chili beans).  Every dog I've known just couldn't get enough of them. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Spanish Lessons Right Here!

We haven’t had any Spanish lessons for a while. Here are some common phrases to learn.

Bigfoot ate the flowers.
Bigfoot comió las flores

Dead bodies go in the regular trash, not in the recycling.
Los cadáveres van a la basura normal, no en el reciclaje

My phone is tapped. Do not call me.
Mi teléfono está intervenido. No me llames.

The alien spaceship is parked on the roof.
La nave espacial se encuentra estacionado en el techo.

Ladies, use arsenic to poison your husbands, not strychnine.
Señoras, utilizan el arsénico para envenenar a sus maridos, no estricnina

Don’t use paper with wood pulp to counterfeit money.
No utilice papel con pulpa de madera para la falsificación de dinero.

I hear voices from dead people.
Oigo voces de los muertos.

Your guns cannot hurt me. I am invisible.
Sus armas no pueden hacerme daño. Yo soy invisible.

The men in black are living inside my motor home.
Los hombres de negro están viviendo en mi casa rodante.

Monday, April 22, 2013

What's In a Name?

Today I thought I’d rattle on a bit about nicknames. It’s always amazing how some people have them and others don’t. There are the obvious ones like the bald guy called Curly. Then the ones that make you wonder, like my own uncle who my mom called Bob–his name was Charles and apparently he didn’t know his real name was Charles until he went into the army. Why’d my grandparents name him "Charles" when they decided to call him Bob? Beats me.

Then there are the nicknames that are based on some attribute. There was this homeless guy who used to live in the local parks in California. A lot of people called him "Moses" because of his striking resemblance to Charlton Heston in the biblical epic film. His real name was Jim.

And those childhood names like Stinky. Those are interesting. Some of them are tossed out and stick like glue, others not so much. We called one high school classmate Fritz for a long time. I also recall a Fish and even a Red (not a redhead). I had one myself for a while from coworkers at a job and won’t list it here.

So, they come out of nowhere. They stick or they don’t. And the reason I’m bringing them up is, as an editor, I’ve wondered why there are so few of them in stories I see. I hardly ever see characters named things like Fingers, Tiny, Curly, Weasel or even the mob type nicknames such as Fat Tony or Jimmy the Greek.

People in stories all seem to be Mike and Kevin and Sally. I’ll admit I’m guilty of this myself. I don’t recall using many nicknames. You just don’t always think of it in one’s zest to create lifelike characters. I did call a character in a short story Lizard once. That was a cool nickname.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


We recently held gunfighter week on this blog. We had excerpts of shootouts with ghosts and some other entities.  Today I'm going to ad another excerpt.  This one isn't a gunfight, but a story in the forthcoming issue of Science Fiction Trails. Brown, a border collie, has discovered a mysterious crash site. There may be a few more excerpts in coming days. There's a link at the top of the page to the Science Fiction Trails site.

Brown vs. The Martians Coming July 1st, 2013 from Science Fiction Trails Magazine
Excerpt by J A Campbell:
I stopped and sniffed again. Over the hot metal and other strange smells, I thought I smelled an animal, almost like a dog, except that didn’t smell quite right either. I stopped and waited for Elliott to catch up.
“What is that?”
The thing was shaped like a cow pie, although almost half of it was buried in the dirt. The part that stuck out of the ground went up into the air much further than Elliott could reach and made enough shade for us to get out of the sun. The ground wasn’t any cooler in the shade though. Black streaked the shiny metal and it looked like there were gashes, like claw marks where the black streaks were.
“It’s damaged,” Elliott said.
Elliott walked around until we climbed a pile of dirt and ended up standing over the strange metal cow pie.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

North Country

I've mentioned before that we've never sold a single copy of any of the anthologies or Science Fiction Trails 1-9 to anyone in Canada--not ever.   I used to speculate that everyone in Canada was too busy sodomizing each other to have time for reading. Then I speculated they were all down at Tim Horton's doughnut shops eating doughnuts all day and that's why they never buy any of my books or magazines.

Well, my latest theory is a little bit different.  They don't like me.  I don't think Canada likes me. When I see cars with Canadian plates and they're always driving stupid, I flip them off and honk at them.  I didn't understand their strange driving was because Canada hates me--I just thought they were a bunch of idiots.   Well, at least now I understand.  They don't read my stuff because they are afraid it would get me to go back to Toronto.  They don't want foreigners like me in their Tim Hortons.   They've got good hot dogs in Toronto, too.  They don't want me eating them.  So, they figure I'll stay away if they don't buy any of my books and stuff.  Clever, them Canadians. Clever, indeed.  But I wasn't going to come back.  I've eaten Canadian barbecue.  Canadian barbecue is the most vile food ever promulgated upon the people of Earth. There is nothing more disgusting.  So hate all you want, Canadians.  I don't care because I've already eaten Canadian barbecue and there's nothing else you can scare me with. Nothing at all.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Hood

Well, the folks over at the Kepler planet finding mission have announced two more planets that are sort of Earth like in terms of temperature and such.  Kepler 62 is a little bit smaller sun than our and is only 1200 light years away.  Boy we sure could use a warp drive about now.  I just think it's amazingly cool they've figured out how to measure planets around stars so incredibly far away.  And there seems to be a lot of them.

Do they have oceans teeming full of fish?  Or do they have huge numbers of women who just love middle aged men?  I doubt that I'll ever know the answer to either question.  The little green men in flying saucers have never offered me a ride to any of these places.  Speaking of which, I wonder which Kepler planet they're from.

And the most pressing question of all: Do they sit around all day reading western sci fi stories and wishing they could somehow get their hands on a copy of Science Fiction Trails? Do their mystics and shamans tell them of a far away world where such a magazine exists? Or do they just drink coffee at McDonald's all day? And garbage? What do they do with their garbage? Front loaders or side loaders?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Wit & Wisdom

Yesterday was Margret Thatcher's funeral.  I don't know what it was like to be British when she was Prime Minister, but I do recall an awful lot of Americans didn't particularly like her. My strongest memory of her from the era was from B. Dalton Bookstore. They had this nice hardcover book titled The Wit and Wisdom of Margaret Thatcher. When you opened the book it was nothing but blank pages. That's my strongest memory of her, although I can't imagine why anyone would actually buy a book like that. I certainly didn't, though I still remember it.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


I've noticed an interesting statistic on this blog. Entries with pictures of some type have a much higher view rate than postings that lack pictures. And the most popular postings were the ones when I was talking about garbage trucks. Yep, garbage trucks.  So, if I made any money off of this (I don't) every posting would be about garbage trucks.  Of course, the problem with garbage trucks is what do you say about them? 

Top 10 future garbage truck postings
Garbage trucks from outer space.
Garbage truck drivers: the sexiest guys on earth.
How much garbage does a garbage truck actually hold?
Side loaders versus front loaders: the debate rages on
Garbage truck parades, who knew?
How come you never see used garbage trucks for sale?
Garbage men: why do they get up so darn early?
How come they never had garbage trucks at the school assembly?
Top ten coolest finds in garbage dumpsters
How many dead bodies turn up in garbage dumpsters each year?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Coming Soon

Well, it won't be long and the 10th issue of Science Fiction Trails will be released.  I think it's going to be a simply awesome issue. 

But, and there is a but, I haven't rattled on lately about the dark side of small press pblishing.  I'm simply dumbfounded at the number of horror stories I keep getting.  SFT has never been a horror magazine.  I just don't know if the writers sending in these stories are delusional or they find out about it from some third party website and don't bother to read the complete guidelines, which are readily available on the SFT website.  But more than half of the stories sent in do not have any science fiction content whatsoever. If I ever figure out the root source of these stories I may have to have someone killed. It's probably hopeless.  I'm not the first editor to lament the slush pile.  But what's different here is the high number of stories that don't comply with our guidelines.  Most serial publications, be they online or print, have such vague guidelines it can be tough to figure out what they actually want. When a magazine says they don't want straight up horror stories and all stories must have some aspect of science fiction in them--so let's send in some modern horror story. Gee, why'd he reject me?  I've rattled on about this before. It never seems to make any difference. I suppose the fact that I am an active member of the Horror Writers Association doesn't help in that regard--but that problem existed long before I joined the HWA.

And then there's art.  Damn, the available art out there is pitiful.  If you can even find an artist who wants to do a cover, good luck getting that person to actually submit something on time.

So, go back to the first paragraph.  We've got an awesome issue coming out.  And an incredible cover. If submissions are so bad, how can this be you ask?  Well, it says issue ten.  I have a very sizable stable of regular contributors who can deliver the goods.  It's the new people (what is sometimes called slush) that drive me crazy.  If I were starting out now I would probably just toss in the towel. In spite of my frustrations, I can still put out a nice issue. 

Of course, I could use a few more readers.  Who couldn't?  We're the only western sci fi magazine in existence.  Where else are you going to find dogs riding around in flying saucers? 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Make Up

There’s a new show coming out on Syfy called Defiance. The commercials and stuff look positively awful. One of my biggest beefs, and I haven’t seen the actual show, is the concept that there are all of these aliens races all living together. Well, all of the aliens look human–with just varying colors and thicknesses of makeup. An all too common outcome of science fiction shows–the aliens aren’t very alien.

That’s why this past weekend’s Dr. Who was such a pleasant surprise. The storyline wasn’t all that remarkable. But the Martian looked really alien. He didn’t have any human-type features at all. He looked alien. And that seems such a rarity amongst aliens.

Sunday, April 14, 2013


So, what happened to Spring? It’s snowing and cold. Someday I’ve got to find someplace else to live. Endless Winter gets old sometimes. Make it go away.

I don’t really have anything profound to say today. Karl was going to guest blog, but he didn’t get it done. Dinosaurs aren’t really all that reliable.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

And So Gunfight Week Comes to A Close

Well, Gunfight Week has come to an end. I thought it was kind of fun. I hope folks enjoyed the gunfight excerpts that appeared here. 

On a related note, I polled some of the previous contributors to Science Fiction Trails, where I am editor, asking what their favorite gunfight in a story was. This was for a bonus article celebrating our tenth issue.  I mean, it was a simple question. You either have a favorite gunfight or your don't.  Yet I got all these responses like "I've never written a gunfight."  Well, that's nice. I've never written a zombie story, but what has that got to do with the question?  I got very few responses. Dang I hate writers sometimes. For me it came down to one of two. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance or the three way gunfight at the end of The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.  I finally selected the three way gunfight. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

And Our Last Gunfight

This one was submitted by writer C. J. Killmer:
My favorite fictional gunfight can be found near the end of Stephen Hunter's novel I, Sniper.
Though the novel is set in the present, the villain of the story competes in the modern-day sport of cowboy action shooting, in which participants dress up in Old West garb, arm themselves with period-accurate firearms, and shoot competitively at targets in scenarios that are often based on classic westerns.
Participants in this sport also adopt pseudonyms. The villain of the novel, a billionaire media mogul named Tom Constable (who bears more than a little resemblance to Ted Turner), goes by ‘Texas Red.’
When the novel's hero (Hunter’s recurring protagonist, Bob Lee Swagger) confronts Texas Red at a cowboy action shooting competition, Swagger is clad in the garb of an Arizona Ranger and armed with an old single action revolver. So even though it's set in the present, the scene plays out as a classic Western showdown, with both characters dressed and armed appropriately. But despite deliberately employing so many Western tropes, Hunter still manages to conclude the showdown with a clever twist that I for one didn’t see coming.
I love this scene because it's well-written, unusual, pays homage to the old TV Westerns, and especially because it repeatedly borrows phrases from the classic Marty Robbins gunfighter song "Big Iron,” in which an Arizona Ranger confronts an outlaw by the name of Texas Red (whom many men had tried to take, but those many men were dead…)

       ...Red had not cleared leather before the bullet fairly ripped, hit, mutilated, and exited. He went down hard, kicking up a puff of dust, which the wind took, just as it took the gunsmoke of the Ranger’s speedier Colt. Red curled as he fell, gun flying away in a twisted angle, the sound of the shot lost to all, so intent were all in the essence of the age-old drama.
    The moment was utter antique. Not a single thing spoke of later times that any man or woman or child could see. The white smoke and dust, teased to action by the relentless wind, seemed to lie over all for just a second, glazing and blurring all surfaces, suggesting again that this was ancient times.
But then the applause broke out. Well, who could blame them? And the chants, “Ran-ger, Ran-ger, Ran-ger!”

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Yet Another Gunfight, as Gunfight Week Continues

This is an excerpt from a gunfight between a little green man and some gambler from my novel The Devil Draws Two. Miles O'Malley is filling in as town marshal in Tombstone, Arizona

...Before I could figure out what to do, Elbert was standing next to him. "Is it customary to replace the card with another one concealed underneath the table? Most peculiar game."

The three men who spoke no English drew down on the riverboat gambler from New Orleans. It took a few seconds longer for me to grasp the situation. "Hold on boys," I warned.

Livingston's face turned a deep shade of crimson. He grabbed one of his gloves off his belt and smacked Elbert across the head. "No one a-cuzes Jonathan T. Livingston of bein' a cheat. Suh, ah do not care if you are indeed the devil himself, ah demand satisfaction."

"Irrational? Sexual attraction?" Elbert asked.

"Elbert, I don't think you quite understand," I explained. "He wishes to fight you. Have a shootout."

"Weah ah come from, gentlemen –" he paused and looked over Elbert for a moment, "and ah use tha term loosely – fight a duel, not a bahbaric shootout."

I nodded approval. "Like they do back east. Okay with you, Elbert?"

"Acceptable," he agreed.

"Let's do it." I led the group toward the door. Our exit was blocked as Sheriff John Behan stood in the way. He sort of flinched at the sight of Elbert. "Was wondering what happened to you," I said.

Elbert pointed at Behan. "This is the one who ran away."

"I didn't run away. I get sick when I'm closed up." Then he returned to the situation at hand. "What's that doing in the cantina?" Behan asked.

"Elbert here's gonna shoot it out with Riverboat, like they do back east, duel style. Heck, I’m actually glad you’re here. You ought to count 'em off. I don't like Riverboat too much. You'd be fairer."

"Fairer? I don't like this here Elbert. Gives me the creepies, all green and all," Behan protested.

"Sheriff Jackass is acceptable," Elbert announced.

The Mexicans, who didn't speak English, all roared. Behan's face grew three shades redder. "Sheriff Jackass?"

"I'll explain later," I offered.

Behan calmed down a little. "Well, let's get on with it."

"Suh?" Livingston pointed to the lack of a gun belt.

"Oh." Behan unbuckled his and handed it to the gambler. "Use mine."

I looked over at Elbert. "What about you?"

Elbert waved his hand. A familiar metal disk appeared.

"I don't know about this," Behan cautioned. "He already killed Old Man Gantry."

"Suh, I have no fear of any devil weapons, foe ah have truth an righteousness on ma side," Livingston declared. Then he stepped out to the middle of the street, cocked the pistol and held it tight against his chest. "Ahm ready."

I showed Elbert how to take a position with his back against Livingston. Then everyone cleared the street. I gestured to Behan.

"Ready. Now I'll call off ten paces, then you boys turn and fire." Behan adjusted his hat and cleared his throat. "One... two... three... four... five... six... seven... eight... nine," he swallowed, "ten."

Elbert showed incredible reflexes. He spun around much faster than his larger opponent, quickly raised his disk, then a blue flash left a six-inch hole where Livingston's chest had been. The gambler's pistol discharged on the way down, knocking out a window at the hotel. There was a moment of silence, then people rushed out into the street. Behan retrieved his gun from the corpse. I ushered Elbert back inside the cantina. We each drank a beer in silence.

"Must leave now," Elbert said. Then he belched. "Good drink."

"Well, come back anytime, Elbert. You're always welcome in Tombstone," I said. I escorted Elbert back to his space vehicle. Behan sort of followed along. The other townsfolk showed no interest at all in going near it. We all shook hands.

"Goodbye Sheriff Jackass. Goodbye Miles O’Malley, Town of Tombstone." Elbert climbed inside and the hatch closed. Then, with no sound at all, the big sphere rose up into the air and shot off into the afternoon sky. In two seconds it was completely out of sight.

I asked "Figure he'll be back?"

"Nope, I'd go to St. Louis." Behan started sauntering back toward the county jail. "Trouble with you, O’Malley, is you're too dang stupid to know better than to get inside something like that. You could of gotten killed. They could eat human beings for all you knew."

I countered with, "Can't wait to tell the guys at the Epitaph how you ran away. Wyatt'll love it."

Wyatt and Virgil never really seemed to believe the story of the little green man and the duel, even though others confirmed it. I was never again asked to fill in as marshal. Of course, that may have been on account I cut some guy real bad during a shave and got fired from my barbering job. I left town not long after it happened

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

And Another Gunfight as Gunfighter Week Continues

Gunfight week continues. This is another look at the Lone Crow gunfighter with an excerpt from "The Five Disciples," by Joel Jenkins, from Low Noon: Tales of Horror and Dark Fantasy From the Weird Weird West.

..."Drop the gun, Ferguson!"

Crow wondered just how many bullets it would take to stop a man that big, but thankfully Ferguson didn't appear anxious to put that question to the test. He dropped the shotgun and raised his hands to shoulder height. Keeping his pistol trained on Ferguson, Crow took a pair of steps backward to stay out range of those over-sized mitts, just in case Ferguson couldn't resist the temptation.

"Sit cross-legged on the floor," ordered Crow, "and put your hands behind your head."

Ferguson did as ordered.

"Why didn't you look at me?" demanded Buena. "Don't you like women?"

"I didn't want to end up dead," said Crow. "Now get down on the floor next to Mr. Ferguson."

"Or what? You'll shoot me, too? There's no bounty on my head. What do you want with me?"

Crow caught a closer glimpse of the pasteboards on the table and now he could see that they weren't a standard deck of cards. They were altered to include cryptic symbols, lewd drawings, and occult figures so that the pasteboards were converted into some sort of tarot deck. "I want nothing to do with you, witch. Now get on the floor."

She complied with a deliberate lack of urgency, baiting Crow.

"I got a good look at you," said Shotgun Ferguson. "All those white man clothes can't hide your red skin."

"And running all the way from South Carolina can't save you from justice," replied Crow. He holstered his gun and cinched Ferguson's wrists together with practiced movements. At that moment Buena glanced over her still-bared shoulder and saw that Crow had no weapon in his hand. She lunged, raking at him with her long nails. He avoided her initial attack and gave her a shove that sent her tumbling.

In that brief moment, Ferguson untangled his crossed legs and lurched to his feet. Before he could find his balance, Crow gave him the heel of his boot and the big man staggered into a divan made from old sea crates. They splintered beneath his weight and Ferguson found himself sitting among the broken slats, his hands still bound behind him.

"Justice?" spat Ferguson. "I'm a black man. There's no justice for me and if you think you can fool the white men into giving you justice because you wear their clothes, then you're fooling yourself. You're an Indian and you'll always be one."

"You're wanted for three murders," said Crow.

"And they send their lapdog to execute justice?" Ferguson's laugh was bitter.

"Come along without a fuss and I won't have to do any executing," said Crow. "I'll take you to the law, and you'll be sent back to South Carolina to face trial."

"A lynching, you mean. I killed those three men, all right—but they were white and I'm not. It doesn't matter what they did to my sister."

Buena began to mutter incantations underneath her breath.

"Save your curses, witch," said Crow. "I'm immune to your magics."

"You may be immune to my charms, Indian, but other men are not."

Crow frowned. "What did they do to your sister?"

Ferguson struggled upright. "They forced her, then killed her so that she wouldn't tell nobody. I happened into the barn where they did the deed. They were trying to hide her body beneath the straw. I took away a shotgun and turned it on its owner. Two barrels at close range—it cut him in half."

"No kidding," said Crow, who recalled how close he had been to suffering the same demise.

"The other two men I killed with my bare hands." Ferguson shuddered as he relived the incident.

"I understand you killed Philips and Morganstern when they tracked you down in Kansas City."

"The bounty hunters?" said Ferguson. "They didn't count on me taking my shotgun to the outhouse with me."

"Are you going to hold that against him?" cried Buena. "He was just defending his life."

"But is he telling the truth?" asked Crow.

She raised her chin in proud defiance. "He's under my charms. He can't tell a lie, and he is completely under my control. All it takes is one visit and I can make any man my slave...except for you, it seems." She raised a beckoning hand toward him. "But given some time, perhaps..."

"Enough," said Crow, who felt temptation as keenly as any man.

"Are you scared of the passion that I might unleash?"

"I've met Philips and Morganstern," said Crow, who abruptly changed the subject. "The righteous of the world won't mourn their loss."

"Where are the other four of you?" questioned Buena.

"What are you talking about?" said Crow, who wondered if Buena was again using some sort of ploy to pull away his attention.

Buena shook her finger. Her hands were covered with rings and arcane amulets dangled between her breasts. "I read the cards. They said that five were on the way. That's how Shotgun knew to be ready for you."

"Five what?" asked Crow.

"Five followers or acolytes," said Buena. "The cards were unclear, but they are men of great power. I sensed a power about you, so I mistook you as one of them. But you, you possess a different sort of power. It shrivels my guts..."

Crow hissed between his teeth. "I'm not the only one in San Francisco that's looking for Shotgun Ferguson. Five Chinese bounty hunters rode into town two nights ago. They've been asking about Shotgun. It's hard to hide a black man your size—even in a place as big as San Francisco."

Buena furrowed her brow. "What did these bounty hunters call themselves?"

"I don't know how they refer to themselves, but I've heard others refer to them as The Disciples. Disciples of what, I'm not sure."

"The Disciples of the Immortals," spat Buena. "What a fool I was to charm a man with such a large bounty on his head. I should have known it would bring doom upon me."

"It doesn't much matter how I meet my death," said Shotgun Ferguson, "but I'd prefer to do it with a gun in my hand, spitting in the face of the Devil instead of swinging from a tree."

"They're coming now," moaned Buena. Her long lashes flickered and her eyes flickered and darted, alternating between a glassy stare and the whites of her eyes. "I can feel them. The Immortals have imbued the Disciples with a fraction of their power so that they might go forth and bring fear and terror into the world."

Buena's vision regained focus. "Let me go!" she shrieked. "I beg of you. Let me go!"

"Fine," said Crow.

Without waiting for any further elaboration, Buena cast one glance at the tied paramour. "Ha sido divertido, Shotgun." She lurched across the tent, her hand diving beneath a cushion and she produced a Colt Pocket Dragoon pistol, a five shot .31 caliber gun with a stagecoach raid engraved on the cylinder. Crow nearly fired a shot through Buena, but instead of targeting the Indian bounty hunter, the witch reeled through the tent flap and into the falling dusk.

The intoxicating scent of the perfume still lingered after Buena's departure, but when she opened the flap a breeze passed into the tent clearing much of the air.

Ferguson breathed a heavy sigh. "Where am I, and why am I tied up?"

"I'm Lone Crow, here to collect you and the bounty on your head."

Shotgun Ferguson tested his bonds and Crow could hear the fiber of the new ropes creaking under the forces exerted by those muscular arms. "The last thing I remember is coming inside of the tent of a Chileno harlot. I didn't mean to, I was just passing through."

"It's safer to stand in holy places," said Lone Crow. "Telegraph Hill is not the place for the likes of you or me."

"I'm a wanted murderer," said Shotgun. "Does it matter which other of the ten commandments I break?"

"Your killings were done in the name of justice and the defense of your own life," said Crow. He plucked an eighteen-inch knife out of the sheath tied to his leg.

"What are you doing?" asked Ferguson.

"I'll make it quick," said Crow. He brought the knife across the the strands of the rope that bound Ferguson's wrists. The rope unraveled and Ferguson rubbed at the grooves in his flesh.

"The harlot had you bewitched," said Crow. "You're free now."

"Except for the fact that you plan to bring me in for that bounty," said Ferguson. "I'm telling you now, that I'm not going to let that happen. I'd rather die than go back to South Carolina."

A wind whipped through the tents and shanties of Telegraph Hill, shaking the tent in which they stood. "Load your shotgun," said Crow. "They'll be here, shortly."...

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

More Gunfighting

As Gunfight Weeks Continues, this is an excerpt of one of my stories when a young man decides to finish a gunfight his grandfather started. "Gunslinger" first appeared in Black Satellite.

. . . He strolled over to what was left of the front window. The Black Moose Saloon was the only structure left standing. There was no other place else to look. Suddenly, behind him, there was an abrupt rush of cold air and the candle lantern blew out. The room went pitch black. He dove to the floor just as a flash from the Smith & Wesson came from the bar. The deafening blast followed an instant later. It hadn’t occurred to him the ghost would try and shoot him in the back. He could see nothing. He fired two rounds as he jumped out through the cracked panes of the front window. The stars and a gibbous moon offered some light. Pain shot through his knee. He didn’t know if he’d been shot or hurt himself on the broken glass–and there wasn’t time to check. He hobbled for the cover of a wall that had once been the dry goods store.

A bullet whizzed by his ear. Stephen turned just in time to see the shimmering presence of Billy Joe looming down on him, gun in hand–aimed at his head. As the gun fired, Stephen’s throbbing knee collapsed and the round knocked off his Stetson on the way down.

He fired the Colt from the dirt. The bullet hit Billy Joe square in the midsection. The aberration floated back a few feet, then shriveled up and disappeared into the darkness.

Stephen laid on the ground for a moment, then struggled to pick himself up. He hobbled over to pick up the gun lying in the dirt. It was all that was left of Billy Joe. He scratched the name off his grandfather’s list.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Gunfight Week Continues

And, as gunfight week continues, the following is an excerpt from "Forewarned Is," by C. J. Killmer, Science Fiction Trails 8.

McCready did not turn as Lefty approached, but he tossed his overcoat off, exposing a pair of metal arms and, he noticed, a quartet of holstered revolvers spaced along his belt. McCready's mechanical arms were attached to a metal box, which was in turn affixed somehow – despite there being no visible straps – to the center of McCready's back.

"Say, mister," Lefty said. "Those are interesting-looking?"

Lefty's statement was cut short when one of McCready's metal hands snaked toward him, lightning-quick, and punched him in the jaw. Lefty staggered back a step. He didn't fall down, but the room swayed around him for a split-second. How McCready had aimed the punch so precisely, Lefty had no idea. It was as if the metal arms could see for themselves.

Each of McCready's four arms reached for one of the revolvers on his belt.

"Aw, hell," Lefty muttered as he dove over the bar.

Bullets tore up the bar just as Lefty landed on the floor behind it. The impact ignited a nasty twinge of pain in Lefty's back. He was starting to get too old for these sorts of things.

The bartender fell on the ground next to Lefty. He'd been hit multiple times from McCready's bullets and was either dead, or soon would be. Shards of wood and glass rained on the back of Lefty's duster as he drew his Webley revolver.

Then the shooting stopped. McCready seemed to be out of ammo.

Lefty popped up to shoot, but instantly fell back below the bar as the four-armed man resumed shooting. McCready had only paused in order to deceive Lefty into thinking he was reloading, so that Lefty would expose himself while attempting to return fire.

He'd never been in a gunfight with a four-armed man before. He was discovering it wasn't much fun.

He should have seen this coming; he should have realized that this character would give him serious trouble. Ungentlemanly as it would have been, he really should have waited a block down the street with a rifle and shot McCready in the head when he walked out of the saloon. Instead, he'd followed the four-armed man into the saloon and had found himself outgunned. He'd allowed his curiosity about this man and his arms to get the better of him.

Though he was no scientist or inventor, it was obvious that McCready's robotic arms were very different from his own. Lefty's metal arm, in both appearance and function, resembled a human arm rendered in steel. McCready's, on the other hand, were sleek and serpentine in design, and moved more like tentacles than arms, though they had five-fingered hands on the ends.

Lefty had always thought that Whitaker Myers, who had built Lefty's right arm, was the most advanced maker of such things in the world, and yet here were a pair of robotic arms that looked much more refined.

Lefty looked in vain for rear exit. If he didn't change his immediate situation, he was doomed. McCready had all the advantages – twice as many arms, twice as many guns, and a cornered opponent.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Do I have to do everything?

Well, since no one else has posted any gunfights, here's an excerpt from Joel Jenkin's "Long Night in Little China," from Six Guns Straight From Hell

Each step of the sprinting tong warriors carried them closer, clots of earth spewing from their feet, and hatchets raising in their hands. Crow burst into action and his Eagle-butted Colt .45, blessed by a prophet in the salty wastes that night the dead came reeling from the grave, leaped into his hand as if by its own volition. He moved to his left so that if the Chinese gunfighter's draw was fast, his aim would be hindered by the body of his sprinting ally.

Crow ducked and a hatchet went whirling by his shoulder, then Crow fired two shots into the chest of the hatchet man, and he fell stone dead, face first in the muck at Crow's feet. Before the dead hatchet man had settled in the mud, Crow turned his aim to the second fighter, who had delayed the throw of his axe while his companion was standing in the way.

Flame belched from the barrel of Crow's .45 and a bullet caught the second hatchet man at the bridge of his nose and he toppled like a burlap bag of corn from the shoulder of a tired farmer. A bullet tugged at Crow's hat and pulled it from his head. Long hair that had been tucked beneath spilled out like the unfurling wings of a raven. If Crow had not been in a crouch that bullet would have caught him in the throat or chest.

The tong gunman held a pistol in each hand and began firing with more enthusiasm than accuracy. The road spit globs of mud as bullets spattered about Crow. The Indian wheeled about and took careful aim and sent his last three bullets winging toward the tong gunman. The first ricocheted from the head of a hatchet concealed beneath his blouse, the second pierced just beneath the ribs and the final bullet caught in the gunman's lung. The Chinese fighter reeled and went to his knees, his guns sagging in his grip.

His enemy was still conscious and holding a pair of pistols, and Crow was out of ammunition. He could reload, but in those precious seconds, his enemy might gather enough moxy to shoot him down. Crow caught sight of a hatchet jutting from the belt of the dead tong fighter at his feet and he plucked it out of the sash. Crow was no stranger to the hatchet, though he preferred the balance of a tomahawk, which he had been trained with since his youth. Still, he plucked it up, and threw it, whirling, over the head of the Chinese girl. It missed her by scant inches, then the axe caught the tong gunman full in the face, splitting his skull to the teeth, and then he fell backward into the muck of the street.
Before Crow took another step, he opened his pistol and shook the empty shells onto the street. He methodically reloaded his pistol, scanning the street with sharp eyes lest more trouble appear. The buildings were a mixture of tents and rude wooden structures packed together in an interminable hodgepodge that possessed no discernible rhyme or reason. There were a number of spectators, standing on the stoop of a Chinese laundry and others who had poked their heads out of their tents when they had heard the sound of gunfire.

Word would get back to the tongs quickly, figured Crow, and it wouldn't be hard for the tongs to identify an Indian wearing a duster and a cowboy hat.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Gunfights! Tell Me More

 Gunfights! They’re the mainstay of the western story. They’re also an integral part of the weird western tale. As most folks who visit this blog know, I’ve been involved with weird westerns for a very long time as both an editor and writer. I’d like to find out about people’s favorite weird western gunfights during the coming week. So, . I’m hoping blog visitors will post a brief description of their favorite weird western gunfight in the comments section. Please be specific as to who wrote it and where others might find it. Weird westerns are basically western stories that have the added element of horror or science fiction in them.  So, if you have a story that you've read about a shootout between ghosts, zombies or Martian invaders share it with us in the comments section.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Deficit Reduction ideas

Dear Mr. Watson,

We hope you are feeling better. Those of us at the Blackmail Division of Medicare want you to know that every dollar we extort from you will go to reducing the national debt.

You were hospitalized for having a STD of a particularly disgusting nature. Do you want the fellow residents at Wonderyears Retirement Home to know where you’ve been sticking your dick? Do you want us to send pictures of what the rash you had looks like, you disgusting little man? Not to worry. If you send a check for $475 within thirty days, along with the enclosed form MD c12, your neighbors will never hear about it from us.


Melvin P. Cruddy
Asst. Director
Medicare Blackmail Division





This program is part of the new Deficit Reduction Plan passed by your Congress. Your Congress, it’s just incredible what we do.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Leper Con Coming Soon To a Hotel Near You

I recently got an unexpected invite to attend LepreCon next month in Arizona. Wanting to find out a little more, I entered the name Leprecon in a search engine. It immediately changed it to Leprechaun and gave me dozens of anecdotes about little people and pots of gold. No, I want a science fiction convention in Arizona, not some blasted little green men who hoard gold. I tried again and it changed me again.

So, I went to that other search engine. It changed my search to Lepercon, which would seem to be a convention of lepers. Gee, that might be interesting, but a bit weird. These intuitive search engines know better than I do what it is I want.

Well, I’m not interested in Leprechauns and I don’t want to go to a convention of lepers. I finally got where I wanted to go by typing in Leprecon.org and that got me the site I wanted. Technology yay!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Worldwide Pizza Command

It was a dark and stormy night.  The winter wind howled woolfishly.  Suddenly, the car veered off the road and plunged into the rain-swollen river. The driver, young Eric Watson, struggled to release his seatbelt as the car filled with water.  Soon the life giving oxygen was all but gone and there was nothing left inside the car but water. The seatbelt finally released and Eric struggled with the door latch, but his oxygen starved body could no longer function. He drifted off to unconsciousness knowing death would not be far away. In those final moments his thoughts were not of past loves or a life not lived, but wondering if the pizza on the back seat was still warm and fresh. He knew the answer, but it was all he could think about.

"Damn, where's that pizza?" Larry Davis yelled.  "Where, where, where?"They were always late. But tonight, tonight that pizza would never come.  For no order had ever been taken. The phone lines had been down all evening. Whoever had taken his order, it was nothing human. And no pizza was ever going to come.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Lost The Touch

Another April Fools Day came and went and I didn't play any joke on anyone. Not a single one. I guess I've lost yet another skill.

This, from a man who once put a large "Honk if You're Horny" on the back of a big rig driven by a reasonably attractive woman trucker. People were honking at her from Denver to Kansas city and she had no idea why.

This, from a man who once put a fake eviction  notice and padlocked someone's door so when his new love came over for dinner, she walked away thinking he was a deadbeat. 

This, from some man who pushed a car two blocks away (the car was a stick shift, but the driver never sweemed to leave it in gear). After its owner flipped out, then called the cops to report it, pushed it back into position in front of his house. 

This, from some man who kept altering a co-worker's Netflix account so that whatever movies he ordered (before they switched to downloads) it changed to Dr. Who episodes.  He thought some evil fiend kept hacking into his account.  When he called the company to explain that some fiend was changing all of his orders to Dr. Who, listening to him on the phone was so funny another co-worker fell out of his chair because he was laughing so hard.

And there was a co-worker who I told some girl liked him. And I got others to tell him this girl liked him.  And he wouldn't go near her or make any effort to get better aquainted because he was so convinced we were all playing a joke on him.  The joke was, she really did like him and there was no joke at all.

Oh, I thought of a few things. But I didn't bother. They seemed too mean or cruel.  Faking an acceptance from a publisher when it's not really being accepted is too cruel.  Telling somebody they're needed at the hosptital and they rush down there thinking somebody died or something--too cruel. And far too easy. 

So, I sat this year out. But wait for next year.  Just you wait.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Survived the Con

Well, made it back from Anomaly Con. I had a very nice time, actually. A nice bunch of folks. And I even got to give my 1897 Airship presentation. Heck, I even dressed up in costume for some of the festivities. So, the world is safer tonight. The forces of evil have been vanquished from the Earth once more. And my new goggles worked out perfectly. Who could ask for much more?   A very high percentage of folks were in costume. I didn't get my act together and couldn't get in on the tea party.

I doubt I’ll be attending any other cons until Mile Hi Con in the fall. Some people go to every con they can find. I haven’t been that ambitious. But I did meet some new people and had some fun.  One disappointment, they didn't have any steampunk dogs.  If I had a dog, I'd dress him/her up in a steampunk getup starting with some goggles. But that's just the kind of guy I am.

One quibble was the restaurant in the hotel had one of the most bizarre menus I have ever seen. I really wish chefs wouldn't try to impress us with their great knowledge of cooking when all we really want is a hot dog. I kept trying to get a hot dog next door at Circle K, but they were always out of them. I really don't like Circle K.  If I ran a hotel I'd have a dog menu as well as a human menu. Dogs have always liked my cooking--I mean really liked it in a scoot your plate around for 15 minutes kind of way.  But dogs don't have much money, so nobody running hotels or conventions thinks much about them. But I seem to be digressing a bit from the main point.

There wasn't much interest in listening to me read my new story. And it's been a long time since I've been to any event that had so many smoking hot women.  That may not be PC, but it was true. I need to find a con where they have huge numbers of women who are enamoured with grumpy middle aged men.  Maybe I should make my own con. Dave Con 2014 anyone?