Saturday, August 31, 2013


I grew up eating margarine on those things that customarily have a buttery flavor such as popcorn, cornbread and baked potatoes.  It was what we ate.  About a week ago I bought a package of butter at the store. It was the real deal--butter.  That's right on the package.  I came home and made some toast and put butter on it.  The stuff was absolutely wonderful.  I found myself wondering why have I been eating margarine all these years?  It really amazed me. 
I suppose it's possible I've had some limited exposure to butter. One never knows for certain what restaurants put on your food. And friends and relatives have fed me stuff over the years.  But I don't recall ever consciously buying butter at the store.  It was on sale. It was about the same price as margarine. Where has it been all my life?

Friday, August 30, 2013

Buying Toilet Paper

I just bought a package of toilet paper. I buy the store brand because it's usually cheaper.  Go back in time ten years and I never bought toilet paper.  I had a tool that would unlock the toilet paper holders used in many public buildings. I would simply take the toilet paper.  I don't know why, really. I never took anything else. But I thought nothing of taking toilet paper from libraries, city hall, the local community college. In fact, colleges were the best. They always seemed to have well stocked bathrooms.  Then, one day, they had Kroger toilet paper on sale in the store. I bought a package. The stuff was wonderful and I didn't have to go slinking around public restrooms anymore. So, my life of crime ended.  I never took anything but toilet paper.  And only from public buildings.
That's not related to when I stay at hotels. I always take any extra roll of toilet paper then. But that's not stealing. I paid for that toilet paper.  Even back in my younger days I'd take the toilet paper from hotel rooms.  My mother forbade me. It made no difference. Every now and then she'd find a strange brand of toilet paper in the cabinet and yell "David!"  It never stopped me.  And, when I headed out on my own, I kept on taking it.  And, the family would get together someplace and stay at a hotel and there, with my luggage would be the toilet paper about to be loaded into the car.
"Why do you keep taking the toilet paper?" My Mom would ask.
"Because someone has to." 
Now, I've worked at places like hotels, where they have cases of toilet paper. So, I'll bet you're wondering? Nope, never took a single roll. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Ghost Stories

Well, as we approach Halloween, I've been trying to set up some sort of author event. Frankly, this is not easy.  Whilst I think folks are receptive to local authors reading horror stories at this time of year, finding a venue is tough--really tough.  For some reason, bookstores in particular are getting much less accommodating when it comes to author events.  Some have started charging for these endeavors. And, simply put, unless you have a Pulitzer Prize, the answer is often a simple "No" as they slam the door in your face.  Why? I don't know why. It just is. 
 Sometimes these things turn out to be more trouble than they're worth. We had an author reading in July at a bookstore in Colorado Springs. Not a single person came.

My motivation this time was because we did one last year and that seemed to go well enough. an alternative might be libraries, but no.  the people at libraries won't even call you back.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


This is a story first published a long time ago in a magazine called Strange Days. I reprint it every year at the start of football season.

The Red Shirt Freshman of Notre Dame


Otis Claverson didn't look too good when the trainers carried him off the field. His eyes were glazed over and his usually smiling face had been replaced by one filled with searing pain. "Seventy-three," someone kept yelling. That number seemed familiar. Lizard Murphy glanced down at his jersey. He was number 73. He looked at Elmo Bruno, defensive coordinator for the Fighting Irish. "Lizard in," the crusty man with the thinning crewcut ordered. Lizard put on his helmet and trotted onto the field. The last game of the regular season, a bowl bid and a national championship were on the line and Lizard had never played for a single minute during the entire season. He lined up at the right middle linebacker spot, replacing the injured Otis Claverson, who was in for only two plays for the starting linebacker.

He grunted and looked mean for the benefit of the big tight end on the other side of the ball. Lizard glanced down and realized they were practically standing on the end zone. They were down by three points and there was only a minute left in the game and New Mexico State was about to score again — New Mexico State.

The instant the ball was snapped, the quarterback stepped back to pass. Lizard scrambled after the tight end. Lizard ran like a truck and had been put in to stop the anticipated run. For a big man, their tight end was fast—much faster than Lizard. Lizard tried to keep up. Suddenly the tight end turned back toward the quarterback. Lizard was behind him—way behind him, and the ball was going straight at the tight end, who was now five yards in front of Lizard.

Then something strange happened that would change Lizard's life forever. The New Mexico State tight end vanished—just disappeared. The ball sailed straight into Lizard's gut. Somehow, Lizard managed to hang onto it.

"Down it you meathead!" he could hear coach Elmo yelling.

There were a lot of the other guys between him and the other end zone nearly 100 yards away, but time was running out. He put his helmet down and charged ahead. The first state guy made contact on the five, a stiff arm sent him to the turf. By the 20, Lizard's lungs were hurting and he still had 80 yards to go. A second guy missed a tackle to his legs. Lizard looked over his shoulder. Micky D. was only a few yards behind him. The free safety was so much faster than he was. He tossed the ball—a perfect lateral to his teammate. Lizard stopped. His teammate sailed past him, dodged two tacklers and headed into open field.

A few seconds later Notre Dame was back on top as Mick D. Spillner ran untouched into the end zone. People everywhere on the sidelines were cheering and jumping up and down—at least everywhere on the Notre Dame side. The State guys were jumping up and down too, but they were screaming and shaking their fists.

The New Mexico State coach, finishing an undefeated rookie season, disregarded the fact that Notre Dame was setting up for the extra point and stormed out onto the field. The referee threw a flag and blew his whistle to stop play. "Where the hell's my tight end?" he yelled to the official.

After a five minute consultation, the referee ruled that the touchdown stood, and that there were ten seconds left on the clock. Campus security would have to deal with the mysterious disappearance of Buz Bombarella, star tight end for New Mexico State. Disappearing during a play was not covered in NCAA rules.

Lizard was touched when Mickey D. gave him the football he'd lateraled to him. He vowed to cherish it forever.

That evening, he was walking back to his room in the company of Juliet Mills, one of the cheerleaders who had suddenly taken an interest in him. He was about to explain how he'd come to be named Lizard, but he had an uneasy feeling that something wasn't quite right. Tearing his eyes away from he r, he looked around. There was a flying saucer hovering over the dorm. He broke into a run. In fact, if he'd ran that fast earlier, he could've scored the touchdown himself. He charged up the stairs and busted through the door to his room without even stopping to turn the knob or unlock it.

A little green guy with black eyes and two antennae sticking out of his head was climbing out the window — with the game ball. Lizard lunged after him and grabbed onto the ball. The green-guy jumped off the ledge and pulled Lizard off with him. Instead of falling, they ascended. Three seconds later, they were inside the flying saucer.

Lizard kicked the green guy with enough force to get his football back.

Five other green guys were standing around him, each one had a shiny cylinder pointed straight at Lizard's head.

He let the green guy take back the football.

"It's you!" someone said. Lizard turned around. There was another green guy, but this one was wearing a Notre Dame jersey. The other green guys bowed. "I can't believe it's you. Would you autograph the football?"
"Hell no."

"No way. It's my ball." Lizard crossed his arms and tried to look as defiant as possible.
"We'll kill you."

Lizard accepted the pen one of them was now holding and scrawled something with his right hand. Lizard was a southpaw and figured that was about as good as a bad forgery. They didn't seem to notice. "What's with you guys?" He handed back the football

"Go Irish!" they all yelled in unison.

An ugly thought entered his mind. "You guys do something to that  tight end?"

They all started looking toward the ceiling. The one in the football jersey finally gestured for the others to put away their weapons. "You would've lost the national championship."

"There were only fifty seconds left," the others said, again all in unison. "A touchdown would've finished you."

"Where is he?" Lizard asked. "Did you transport him up?"
"Out of range," they all said.
"We vaporized him. Maybe we got a little carried away."

"This is too weird. Keep the damn ball."

"Ah, thank you," the one in the jersey said. "You are too kind."

"When we go to the Fiesta Bowl, you guys aren't going to . . . ?" Lizard asked.
"No. We regret that little incident."

"Besides, Miami doesn't have a prayer. Go Irish!" they all yelled.


"You wanted to see me?" Lizard asked as he stood at attention in Elmo Bruno's office.

Bruno turned down the sound of the television. He'd been watching Jeopardy. "This ruckus about yesterday's game. The Fiesta Bowl just backed out of their invite. The boss is in there now trying to get us booked in some bowl in Alaska."

"Yeah, and they're talking about going with Alcorn State instead of us."
"Alcorn? I don't even know where the heck that is." Lizard sat down in one of the comfy leather chairs. "I wouldn't worry about it, sir. I think Notre Dame is entering a new era of football." "How so?"
The news team interrupted Jeopardy on the television to bring a report that the stadium in Arizona that was used by the Fiesta Bowl had just been leveled by an apparent earthquake. Police were denying rumors of a flying saucer sighting just moments before the quake.



Author’s note: The way college bowls are awarded has changed substantially since this story was first published.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


I suppose this blog is confusing to readers at times.  It's not a true writer's blog.  Yes, it is written.  Nonetheless, the reader never really knows what's going to be here. This is kind of the grab bag of blogs.  One day I rattle on about garbage (literally). The next day I might just as easily say something about pie.  I suppose that's why the viewership bounces around like a Yo-yo.  Well, it's what it is.
At least I post regularly.  In my role as acting art director for Steampunk Trails I found many artists have not posted or updated anything on their blogs in years.  And they never respond, either.  So, compared to artists, I don't suck as bad as they do. 

Monday, August 26, 2013


As I write this, I've just purchased the ingredients for meatloaf, which I intend to cook for supper.  It's amazing how many variations there are in meatloaf recipes. I suspect that's why there aren't an abundance of meatloaf restaurants.  People will always think it's being made wrong.  I know there are some places that do serve meatloaf, but it's not their primary forte. It's a comfort food--one of those things we grew up with.  In fact there was a place in Denver that used to serve it. I gather the place has changed owners and the new chef has dropped  it from the menu.  For what it's worth, I don't use tomato sauce to top my meatloaf. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Another Sighting, But Are They Real?

What the hell?  Colorado is not a hotbed of Bigfoot activity.  Nonetheless, there are sightings now and then. Those who follow such things say Bigfoots feed on elk and follow the herds as they migrate around the state. That would make some sense, if you like elk, as Colorado has more elk than any other state. 

Last Thursday I was fishing, or actually I was standing next to the river and the fish were laughing at me. But it was my time to waste.  Some guy comes up to me and tells me he saw a Sasquatch at the very spot I was standing the night before, just before dark. Supposedly, the creature charged across the river and vanished in a grove of trees. 

I'm not exactly out in the woods.  There are condos, a rec center and a shopping center, depending on direction.  Not a usual place for such a creature.  Bears have been spotted in the area, as recently as a week ago.  But, I didn't see it.  I have my doubts, but I try to keep an open mind. 
The only reason I'd like to see one is I could then know for certain if they do or do not exist.  I find it interesting that no one ever seems to get clear photos of these animals, or find a body or get anything but the odd plaster cast of a foot print.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Futile Battle Against Evil Type

Today I want to rattle on about something very evil.  I'm talking about Courier.  Yep, the type font.  It's hard to read. It takes up way more space than san serif type fonts. It's ugly.  It has, in my opinion, no redeeming qualities whatsoever. So, why do so many writers insist on using it?  Over at Science Fiction Trails, where I am editor, our guidelines ask for Times New Roman, my personal favorite font.  What do we get? Seventy-five percent of the stories that come in are in Courier. That's right, 3/4 of the people trying to sell me a story start out by deliberately trying to piss me off.

I know Courier sort of looks more like a typewriter font.  And I guess that accounts for something.  I would welcome any writer who uses Courier to post on the comments section here an explanation for why Courier is perceived as being such a wonderful type font. Yes, I'd really like to know. Tell me.  You may notice the references to Courier are actually in Courier.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Dog Pirates

Arrr or Perhaps Grrr.   Like a lot of writers, I often try and revisit past characters and come up with new stories for them.  I've done a lot with Miles O'Malley, my vagabond barber/lawman who wanders the Wild West. And my Martian insurance adjuster, Sarah Meadows, will soon be out in a new story with another story nearly completed. Alas, not so much for Captain Yellow Dog and his pirate band.  I just can't seem to come up with any new adventures for them.  They're really kind of fun to write about, but I just don't seem to come up with anything.  I hope they soon return to the high seas to baffle Lord Admiral Geoffrey Ballinger. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Another Kook

We were discussing things like sending out review copies of the forthcoming Steampunk Trails and I said we should focus on credible publicity sources, not just any kook with a blog.  Then, it occurred to me I was actually talking about myself.  I'm a kook with a blog.  My blog has no real review value. I simply rattle on about nearly anything.  Most of it is silly nonsense.  I certainly haven't gotten any major awards for my blog. It doesn't even appear on anyone's best blog list.  I'm just some kook rattling on about things. 
Now, case in point, the Obama's have gotten themselves another dog--Sunny  She is another Portuguese water dog, just like Bo.  That would be a pretty good gig if you can get it, being First Dog.  Of course Buddy didn't fare too well. Buddy was the Clinton's lab. He survived his term in office, but was soon run over by a truck after they moved to New York. 
If I was President, I'd have a dog.  I'd let the dog make most of the decisions. If you've got two candidates for an ambassador job, you just see which one the dog likes and appoint that person.  Simple enough.  So, I could let the dog run the country and I could watch TV all day.
The First Lady has spoken highly of Bo, and clearly is rather fond of him.  I'm sure he's a good dog.
Now, if it were up to me I'd get a golden retriever.  I like them.  And the dog could swim in the White House pool. I realize there was an allergy issue and that's why the Obama's got a Portuguese Water dog.  I don't know if he can swim in the pool. I think they should've gotten a golden retriever and sent the allergic kid (I don't remember which daughter) off to boarding school. I say that not be cruel, it's just that people really like golden retrievers. I don't think people are all that interested in Bo. I think they'd have more interest in a golden retriever.

Back when Buddy was First Dog some third graders went to Washington DC. The local paper interviewed them. The most exciting thing was not meeting the President. It was not going to the Smithsonian, which they did. No, it was meeting Buddy.  That's all I can say on the subject.
See, that should remove all doubt that I'm just another kook with a blog. Just like I said.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


I have long maintained that at some point a few thousand years in the future there will be anthropologists studying our culture and they will come across references to the great philosopher Homer Simpson, the wisest man on earth.  Homer understands things that most of us never will. It is Homer who says "Help me God. What is it I'm paying you for every Sunday?"  Only Homer expects a return on his investment in the collection plate.  Is Homer on to something?  I think he is.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


They have these machines outside of stores that rent movies.  I had a discount offer for them.  Ergo, I tried to find a movie to watch.  Couldn't do it.  There wasn't anything worth my time to watch.  If Hollywood had to depend on my tastes, they'd be in big trouble.
On a related subject, I've discovered I don't like horror movies.  The problem is they never scare me. They're, for the most part, poorly directed.  I know what the actors are going to say before their mouths open. Two that tilted more toward fantasy were Snow White & the Huntsman and Hansel & Gretel.  I basically liked them, though Hansel & Gretel broke rule number 1 in storytelling (You can't kill the cute red haired girl).  But that's it in the last five years. 
Now, TV is a little better. I love The Walking Dead and I liked Grimm fairly well.
I've edited multiple horror anthologies. I've written gobs of horror short stories. I wrote a vampire novel no one ever reads. I am a member of the Horror Writers Association. Yet, I can't find a horror film that I even remotely like.  There's either something wrong with me or something wrong with Hollywood.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Spanish lessons

We haven't had Spanish lessons in a while. Here you go.

I cannot work this shift. I am a vampire.
No puedo trabajar este cambio. Soy un vampiro.

I did not read the book. It is boring.
No he leído el libro. Es aburrido.

The dead body in the trunk is starting to smell.
El cadáver en el maletero está empezando a oler.

Do not eat the tadpoles.
No coma los renacuajos.

The money for the arson has finally been paid.
El dinero para el incendio ha sido finalmente pagada.

I want to buy your daughter. Name a price.
Quiero comprar a su hija. Nombra un precio.

The zombie from next door ate my homework.
El zombi de al lado se comió mi tarea.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

What Else is New?

So, the government has acknowledged they built and tested the U2 at Area 51 and that area 51 exists. What else is new?  Everyone already knows that. Why do they need such a huge base for this and what are they doing now?  The fact they may have operated spy planes doesn't, in any way, dismiss the widely held belief they're working on alien technology.  It proves nothing. It solves nothing.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Halloween's Coming Up

Like ghost stories?  Halloween's coming up.  Any reader of this blog can have a forty percent discount on  Gunslingers & Ghost Stories  through the end of September. You need to order direct from our distributor using the link and discount code below. Print edition only.

Ghosts are not just found in haunted houses. They have a disturbing tendency to turn up where you least expect them: like saloons, brothels, Indian ruins–and sometimes even in the middle of a gunfight. Saddle up for a haunted ride through the Wild West. Featuring spooky stories by Joel Jenkins, Dana Bell, Laura Givens, Henrik Ramsager, Kit Volker, Kenneth W. Cain, Adrian Ludens, C. J. Killmer, Darla Upchurch, John Howard & J. A. Campbell.


Enter discount code 2BWNDXLZ  at checkout to get the 40% discount.

Okay, if you don't want ghost stories, the Kindle version of my vampire novel, The Brotherhood, is available free this weekend at Amazon.

Friday, August 16, 2013


I had a hankering for biscuits yesterday.  The problem is there are dang few places that sell biscuits. The fast food outlets have some, but one minute after 10:30 and they're only serving lunch.  Likewise, a few restaurants have them, but dang few.  I went to the store. They didn't have the kind I liked. I bought another brand. I took them home and tried them. They were awful.  They tasted like dried Playdough..  I've been trying to curtail carbs. I guess this was the universe telling me "No more biscuits for you."

Thursday, August 15, 2013


They say Americans get far less vacation than Europeans. That seems to be true.  I took a couple of days this past spring and that was it. Ah, to relax on some tropical beach sipping colorful beverages is simply not in my cards.  All I can do is listen to Europeans tell me how much they're enjoying their vacation.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


The world has had a little time to digest Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk's proposal of a hyperloop high-speed train that would shoot pods through a tube with air pressure at speeds that would take people from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes. I'm not an engineer.  I don't know if it would work.  I do know that back in the seventies this was a common idea in science fiction. Many a writer envisioned people being whisked around the world at high speeds in some form of tube powered by air pressure.  The idea seems to have fallen from favor. I haven't seen this concept in science fiction stories in ages. Of course, so-called hard science fiction isn't as dominant in the genre as it used to be.  And I don't think transportation is a big of a deal in the minds of writers as it once was.

In Colorado we have serious transportation problems. They talk about them but nothing really happens.  There never seems to be any way to pay for projects. I think being able to go from the mountains down into Denver in a few minutes would be awesome. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


My anthology Gunslingers & Ghost Stories seems to be surging just a little bit.  Someone in France even  bought  a copy. Nobody in France has ever bought a copy of anything I've published.  And  few recent Kindle sales as well.  Now, if I could only get a few thousand more. Hah! 
I've had some trouble getting this book reviewed, though there have been a few.  I don't think people are as in to ghosts now as they were back in Victorian times.  Still, I think it's a good collection of stories. 


Monday, August 12, 2013

Evil Returns

I've gone since last November without seeing the Evil One.  This is some 80 year old man who immediately starts cursing at me every time he sees me.  This has been going on for about two years. I have no idea who he is or why I set him off.  Well, he immediately went at it a few days ago.  He was in the grocery store parking lot.
The last time I saw him we were both eating at the same restaurant, but he was unaware I was in the bar.  When he went to the bathroom, I dumped his food out. He returned to an empty plate and accused the waiter of tossing his food. 
No such luck this time.  I just got in my car and ignored him.  He went in the store and started shopping.  I returned to the store and placed several cans of oysters in his cart while he was gawking at the ice cream.  This is a technique I've used before against the evil old ladies who roam the stores ramming me with their shopping carts.  Well, this guy goes to the checkout.  And he unloads the canned oysters on the conveyor belt and doesn't notice.  And he pays for them and leaves. Yes!!!
Until our next encounter! 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Wild Wild West

It's no secret that I have a fondness for the Wild West era.  But, there are always things I continue to discover.  A recent posting in another blog mentioned a series of comic books.  I was completely unaware of them. Rather than duplicate the information, I'll just link to David Lee Summers blog for those interested in the Wild Wild West comic books.. 
I never actually cared for the show when it was active. Frankly, I thought it was stupid.  Over time I'm become more appreciative of it.  Anyway, I may have to hunt down the comic books if I ever clear a huge backlog of other things I've got to read.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Slime Creatures From Outer Space

I went out to the trash dumpster yesterday.  Our lids have to be unchained as we have bear problems.  I opened the lid and tossed my bag inside.  And something was moving in there.  It was so dark I couldn't tell what it was.  I went back inside and returned with my flashlight.  Something dark and round looking scurried underneath a bag of trash.  After a few minutes of jostling things around, I discovered what the mystery creature was.

"911 what is your emergency..." 
"There's a rattlesnake in the trash dumpster at my condo complex."
"A what?"
"A rattlesnake.  This thing has 6 foot walls.  I have no idea how it got in there, but I don't think it can get out and it might bite some unsuspecting person."
"It's not something we can help you with."  They hung up.  Then a few minutes go by and someone from the Wildlife and Parks calls me.  I explained the snake had no way out and someone might get bit.
"How did it get in there?"
"How the hell should I know."
"We'll send someone out."
Some guy from animal control comes out.  He can't find the snake.  I think he thought I was a kook or maybe saw some tubing.  Then it struck his pole and started rattling.
"Rattle Snake," I said.
Then some other guy from Parks & Wildlife comes buy and a deputy sheriff. Well, they finally got it out of there. And put it in a bucket and said they'd let it go out in the woods.

Friday, August 9, 2013


I notice the Powerball jackpot got up there in the stratosphere again and some people won it in a couple of states.  That's all well and good.  I am against the lotteries. I have always considered them nothing but a regressive tax on the poor.  That's because the overwhelming majority of those playing them are the people who can least afford to do so.  There's also a second issue that they cost a lot to operate. The terminals, tamper proof tickets, computers, etc. mean that, after expenses, these state run lotteries don't generate all that much for the causes they supposedly champion.  Alas, most states don't agree with me.
Strangely, I actually favor legalized casino gambling.  People are going to gamble. They like gambling.  And they might as well have a safe legal place to do so.  In Colorado we have a limited number of casinos in select old mining towns. I never go to them.  Most casino bets are sucker bets. They didn't build these things to lose money.  Still, when viewed as recreation, I don't object to them. And they are still a much better opportunity to profit than lotteries are.  The odds for lottery payouts are generally far less than getting struck by lightning or eaten by a shark.   Sadly, most major winners of lotteries don't manage their winnings very well and a fair number of them wind up bankrupt.  If I were to win, which is unlikely since I don't play, my biggest dread is that most states parade you in front of the news media where your name address and picture are broadcast to every crook, con artist and crippled orphan in the known universe.  At least in a Las Vegas casino, if you win something they pay you and you can go about your anonymous life. Win the lottery and the life you knew will be shattered.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Sheriff

As an editor I see a lot of stories.  It amazes me how delusional writers can be.  While some writers anguish over every submission and have to have it critiqued 20 times before they'll submit anything, there are also the other kind.  One of things I notice mostly from novice writers is so many of their characters aren't characters at all.  Characters are interesting people who help the reader enjoy the story by being entertaining in some way.  But, so many writers do not understand this.  The most glaring and immediate factor that tells me I'm dealing with a dud of a story is the huge number of them where so many of the characters don't even have a name.  They have titles. We see the doctor. The barkeep. The conductor. And 99% of the time--the Sheriff. Oh how I hate that.  I hate it on so many levels.  Most incorporated towns had marshals. Sheriffs served unincorporated areas. But, regardless of title, we can't even bother to give this character a name.  It's not Sheriff Watson or Deputy Smith. Nope, it's always The Sheriff (almost always capitalized) or the deputy (rarely capitalized).  And they never have a name. Just a title.  And the submitter deludes himself that this is a story that's actually going to get published. 
Well it may.  I've seen some real crap get published on occasion.  But the Sheriff will not be published in anything I edit. A title is not a name. A title is not a character.  The Sheriff rarely has any characteristics other than being an alien in disguise. (I get that one a lot for some reason).  No aches from an old bar fight. No thinning hair. No Stetson that doesn't quite fit. Nothing but some title walking around some town.  They could at least have him walk around in those pink Acme Union Suits.  They don't even do that.  "Oh Sheriff, arrest that sad excuse for a writer. You arrest him and throw away the key!"

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Something lately has puzzled me.  The Kindle version of Science Fiction Trails has been outselling issue 7 over issue 10 (the newest)  Seven isn't nearly as good as ten.  Ten is about 30% bigger and has better stories. I kept wondering why people have been downloading the older issue. Then I realized that, being an older issue, the price is less.  People have been buying it because it is cheap.  Content isn't really as much of a factor as getting it cheap.  Neither issue is very expensive, in my opinion. But, anything to save fifty cents. 
Some of the older issues are out of print.  That's mainly due to a change of printers.  Issue six starts with the current printer.  Issue 6 was actually the first one to be sold as both a print and ebook. Of course Issue 7 does have a dinosaur on the cover.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Bier and bores

I don't know why people won't leave me alone when I go into a bar.  I rarely do this, but I went into a bar yesterday. Almost immediately some guy half my age starts firing questions at me about where I work and what teams I like.  "Minnesota Twins!" is my stock answer. 

"You from there?"


Well, nobody knows anything about the Twins.  And fortunately this loser went on to bother someone else.  I know I don't have any personality.  I don't want to be your buddy.  I don't care where you work.  It's always some obnoxious guy.  Cute red haired girls are a different matter. 

Monday, August 5, 2013


It drives some people crazy that I sometimes spell certain words the way I think they should be spelled instead of the accepted spelling.  For example, I think corn should be spelled korn.  The letter k is rarely used in the English language.  It's a perfectly good letter, but no one seems to like it.  The Colorado sweet korn is now available in stores.  It's really cheap this year.  I really like korn. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Cheese Monsters from Outer Space

Friday I ate some cheese.  It was not a lot.  It was your basic cheddar cheese--nothing unusual about it. The cheese made me sick.  I'm not sure why. I've eaten cheese lots of times before with no ill effects. Symptoms were a lot like super bad indigestion.  It cleared up and I feel fine now. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Full Steam Ahead

It's fairly common knowledge that I'm the publisher of a new steampunk magazine that's preparing to launch.  We set up a blog for Steampunk Trails to generate interest and to simply let people know about it.  I don't know how the new magazine will be received. I do know there are a heck of a lot of people viewing the blog.  Of course, that could simply be one person in Cleveland who checks it every half hour.

This is quite a different experience for me than my other magazine.  Science Fiction Trails evolved over a very long time period and literally had to kick and claw its way into existence.  Everything from getting stories to coming up with cover art was a challenge.  Gradually, over time, it became the periodical it is today. 

The new one will be born full grown.  That's not to say it won't ever change, but decisions on everything like ads to interior art have already been made before its first issue ever goes through a printer.  And I am not the editor of this magazine. Someone else has been selecting the stories.  So, this will be a much more collaborative effort. 

One thing I'll be doing over the next few days is sending out contracts. Another task, since I'm also acting art director, will be assigning illustrations.  We decided some time ago to illustrate the major stories.  That's something I've never done before on anything I've published. One thing for certain, the new magazine will cost about twice as much to publish, yet I doubt I'll be able to charge any more than Science Fiction Trails. That was one nice feature of that magazine, with no interior art and stories that run on the long side, there were few people to pay. This made publishing it fairly cheap so I was shielded if the issue did not sell well.  That won't be the case with the new one.  Full steam ahead.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Sodium Chloride and the Sea of Doom

One thing that I find especially disturbing is salt. It’s not the substance itself, it’s what people do with it. Go to any large sit down restaurant. Look around and it won’t be very long before you see someone dumping salt on their food. What alarms me is most of them will be salting their food before they taste it. Most restaurant food already has way too much salt in it before you get it–a common technique by chefs to make it taste better. So, the millions of people running around with blood pressure that’s already too high are dumping more sodium into their system so that BP will climb even higher.

I don’t own a salt shaker. I never add salt to food. There’s already plenty in it.

Back in the days of old salt was a big deal. There were times when the stuff was worth about as much as gold. The unwashed masses in many kingdoms couldn’t get the stuff. Of course, back then salt was primarily used to cure meats. And it worked very well in pre-refrigeration society. Your meat, if properly salted, can keep quite some time. Most smoking techniques require salt.

Even as recently as Ghandi’s time, salt was fairly expensive. That wasn’t due to scarcity, but rather the British Colonial Government licensing certain companies to have the exclusive rights to make and sell salt. The thing was, countries like India, with large coastal areas, could not control salt. As people became more defiant of their colonial masters, they started making salt themselves. Controlling salt mines was not that tough, but hundreds of miles of coastline was another matter. A few gallons of seawater and a nice sunny day and you’ve got salt.

It’s actually sort of fun. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, seawater wasn’t that hard to get. Once, I went down to the bay and got a few buckets. I followed the instructions in a book the library had and made salt. It was a little more course than your basic Morton variety, but it tasted like salt. I used it on various items. I remember my mother refused to try it–not even once (and she loved salt on everything). I can’t remember if my dad or my brother used any of it or not. I never made any more. The stuff was so darn cheap it just wasn’t worth the trouble. [Leslie Salt had a huge operation just a few miles away]. I don’t know why teachers didn’t try making salt with their science curriculum. Don’t recall ever making it at any grade level.

But, as I moved inland and I became more aware of the link between blood pressure and sodium, I stopped using it at all. I just wish people would at least hold back on it until they’ve tasted the food. But, if you live near the coast, it’s kind of fun to make some–at least just once.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Robo World

I sometimes think robots are not some science fiction concoction. They're here now.  I take a few meds for a few health problems, as many people do. I'm forced to use a mail order pharmacy by my health coverage. That, in itself, is not a big deal. What drives me nuts is every single time I get a refill, I get a robo call to verify my address.  My address hasn't changed in quite some time.  My address on file is correct. Yet, I get a robo call to verify my address every blasted time I get a refill.

'Why do you keep bugging me?" I asked their useless excuse for a customer service agent. "Your address doesn't match the one provided by your provider." "Well, what address are they providing?" "We can't tell that due to privacy laws. You'll have to contact your provider."  "I've given them the correct address." And on and on.

I hate this company intensely. But, like so many things in my life, I have no control over it. I can't take my business to another pharmacy.