Thursday, April 30, 2020

invention

I was thinking after the other night when I was convinced there was someone hiding in my shower, what if there was.  What if someone made some guy like a cardboard cutout who you could put in your shower and scare your wife or someone?  Boy I'd buy one if it was cheap enough.  Maybe I have too much time on my hands.


Wednesday, April 29, 2020

mail

Apparently the Postal Service is slowing down-literally.  There are so few airline flights mail is taking longer to get where it needs to go. Thanks Corona virus.

Speaking of the Post Office, the local one around here doesn't have any commemorative stamps anymore.  They have American flag stamps.  The flag stamps are perfectly fine; I just like to have a little variety.  

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

temperature

Back when I was in college I read some paper by some sheriff in Louisiana. The sheriff had analyzed riots like Watts, Homestead and many more.  What flash point kicked off the riots? Was it lack of food? Someone wrongly charged?  No, it was temperature.  The sheriff claimed that the most common flash point is 92 degrees.  Hotter than than, it's too hot for people to go around rioting.  Colder and people seem more docile. But, when the mercury hits 92, watch out.

Now, I don't know if people are going to start as the weather gets warmer, but there's a lot of tension in the air.  People can only stay clamped down for so long.  And I've never tested the sheriff's theory, but it's getting warmer every day.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Night showers

Ever wake up in the middle of the night and feel convinced there's some man hiding in your shower? I have. It happened just the other night.  Now, you start trying to convince yourself there couldn't possibly be anyone in your shower. Heck, the outside doors are locked. Why would somebody be hiding in my shower?  If he was going to kill me why didn't he just do it?  But, deep down I knew he was in there. I just knew it.  So, I got out of bed and went into the bathroom.  It's 4:00 am. Has he been hiding in there all night?  Then I fling open the glass shower door and, of course, there is no one in my shower.  Then I went back to bed, relieved and disappointed at the same time.

What earthly reason would some guy have to be standing in my shower at 4 am?  Yet, my little brain was convinced he had to be in there.  Maybe he'll be in someone else's shower tonight--maybe even yours.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Interstellar sales

What if aliens on other planets could buy books like mine?  That would be cool.  They may be. How would you know? Especially ebooks as anyone could download them.  With the current crisis going on, each state is kind of doing their own thing as there's precious little leadership out of Washington, I have no idea if bookstores are going to survive.  That's unfortunate, but they're not considered essential.  I'm not claiming they are essential, but most of them are small. They don't have large groups of people. But, closed they still are.  I like bookstores.

Well, I don't know how to get the alien book customer interested in my books.  They might like Tales From Dry Gulch, it's got an alien piano player in the saloon.  There's even a flying saucer on the cover.  I'd sure be happy if a couple million space aliens stopped by and bought a copy, if they could find a place that's open.  They might also like Heat of the Midday Sun, which is an anthology I edited. It has a story by Lyn McConchie called "A Day Out Shopping" about a Martian book reader who really likes Jules Verne. It's out of print, but available from used book venues.

So, little green men and ladies, if you buy my books I'm always happy to autograph them. Stop by any time.  I have nowhere to go anymore since they won't let us travel or go to movies or anything. Just don't park your flying saucer out in the street. The homeowners association hates that.

Friday, April 24, 2020

No bier for you

More on my recent posting about Munich cancelling Octoberfest. It's not near October.  In all probability, I doubt that I would have gone. Whilst I would love to drink tankards of malt beverages brought to me by pretty frauleins in traditional Bavarian costumes, I really would.  Alas, I have serious kidney problems and the doctor says no on alcohol.  

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Guess who's here?

“Sweetie, there’s a virus here to see you.”

“Tell it I’m busy,” Howard said.

“It say it’s really important.”

“What virus is it?”

“SARS-CoV-2.”

“Okay, I’ll be right there.”  Claude put down the ledger and marched into the living room. “I told you not to contact me at home.”

“Bwetzedd glo oxach,” the virus said. Virus is tough to understand, but that’s what it sounded like.

“Yes, the toilet paper’s all at my warehouse.”

Gwen approached them. “Would you like some cake?”

“Virus’s don’t eat cake.  Do you?”

“Eh ta uh si quee.”

“That’s what I thought.”  He opened the door.  “There is no vaccine and that malaria drug doesn’t work. Tell your friends to relax.  Thanks for stopping by.”

“That virus, well it’s so much more polite than Ebolla.  Those Ebolla were horrible.   Let’s hope SARS-CoV-2 is here to stay,” Gwen said.

“You said it, darling.”

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Say it ain't so

Germany's Oktoberfest scrapped over virus in blow to beer industry. It's not even close to October yet!

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Things I'd like to do but probably won't

Go into a crowded store and start coughing really loud.

Get one of those theatrical packets they use for fake blood pouring out of your mouth and go into a store and start coughing and then ask somebody if I'm coughing up blood.

Print up some official Department of Health Quarantine notices and put them on people's doors.

Print up some official CONTAMINATED: USE AT YOUR OWN RISK stickers and put them on pork products at the grocery store.

Put a barricade outside the local casino CLOSED AIR DUCT VIRUS CONTAMINATION. DO NOT ENTER CASINO. EXTREME VIRUS DANGER.

Maybe I have too much time on my hands.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Where are the cons?

When you're involved in genre fiction part of your life is going to cons. That seems true whether you are and artist or writer or something in between. They're a good place to meet fellow practitioners as well as the occasional fan.  And then there's the current plague.  We literally just wrapped up Wild Wild West Con before they started ordering everything nonessential closed here in Arizona. I'm noting the Stoker Awards went out this weekend without the con in London that was intended to go with it [that con may be rescheduled].  Heck, even some of the fall cons are already packing it in and folding. I think thee's now a double fear of not only contagion but a looming recession as well.

Now, I haven't been attending more than two or three cons a year. I know some people who seem to go nearly every weekend.  I never rate guest of honor status [where they pay your expenses] and find the travel expenses too much save for just a couple of these.  What I don't know if any of these will go belly up and never return or if they'll be back next year. I suppose time will tell.  

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Bunker man

I used to live next door to a guy in a bunker. He had a flat lot with a  hatch on it. And there was a pole with a TV camera--the camera would follow you around if you were outside.  I often made fun of bunker man. Now, I'm not so sure if I wasn't a bit hard on him. He's probably got plenty of toilet paper and is sitting all snug and warm as the rest of us die to the Copid virus.  

Of course, when the roving hoards start up, and some folks think that'll be on Friday, I'm starting my own hoard and we're going after the guys in bunkers and we'll dig them out and take their freeze dried food and their toilet paper.  Yes we will.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

not quite cricket

Crickets, they're out there every night. I'm told they do that chirping because they're trying to get a date.  It's a damned annoying sound.  So far they don't come inside my house. The exterminator put out a barrier of some sort of chemical that's supposed to keep them out.  But the ones out in the yard, they are not affected by this barrier and irritate the heck out of me.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Going to the store

I went to the store yesterday, I did.  What did I buy?


Thursday, April 16, 2020

Anthologies

As a follow up to yesterday's blog on editing anthologies.  The Six Guns Straight From Hell  has two previous editions. They've both gone out of print but used editions are readily available from online bookstores.  I'm reading for Six Guns 3.   My most recent anthology is Tales From Dry Gulch, which can be ordered simply by clicking the cover image on this page.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Stories from the trunk

I am editing a new anthology.  This involves reading a lot of stories and trying to select which ones will fit.  I've done this quite a few times.  This time I'm working with a second editor, Julie Campbell. We've done projects before and I've found we rarely disagree on things.  Sometimes two people who clash more get better results.  But that's not the case here. It's nice to have someone to bounce ideas off or just get a second opinion.

One thing writers, particularly novice writers, don't always understand is there is no empirically bad or good story. The question Julie and I are both considering is really more of Is this story right for this particular project?  A story that might have been fine  for the magazine Steampunk Trails, which Julie once edited, may not fly with the gritter and rougher western horror book we're now working on.  

And, unfortunately, into this mix some writers keep dumping off what are known as trunk stories. These are stories writers kept in a trunk or drawer somewhere and could never seem to sell them. Every now and then they become aware of a new market and convince themselves that old story will be perfect and send it off. They often don't give the announcement or writers guidelines more than a glance and their submission is something editors dread.  There's often a reason that story keeps getting rejected.

Alas, we've been getting a fair number of trunk stories.  I don't like reading them anymore than any other editor, but it goes with the job.  Then I come across one like I got yesterday that just brings a smile to my face and I think Yes, that's why I do this.  And that's where anthologies come from.

Please read a few now and then--anthologies, not trunk stories. They vary a lot and tend not to sell as well  as novels, but you can find some amazing stories in them.  Libraries have lots of them, if your library is still open. And online bookstores sell them, too.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

We're Giving You $1200 because we like you

I haven't got my stimulus money yet.  I don't know what I'll do with it.  It's not like I can go anywhere and celebrate.  I do need a new light bulb for my kitchen.  I guess buying a pack of light bulbs should do the trick and get the economy going again.  Yay free money.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Thinking about the plague

Thoughts on the plague. I find myself thinking about the plague lately.

Back many years ago I took a graduate class on Medieval Europe.  I wrote a paper on what caused the Dark Ages.  I’d grown up being told various idea such as Roman lead pipes caused Rome to fall, the growth of Barbarians, the decadence and corruption of Rome were all blamed as culprits. I rejected that thinking and put out my own theory. The cause of the Dark Ages was the plague, the Black Death.

It was everywhere and killed people in enormous numbers.  I believe it also set certain events into play.  It greatly weekend the Roman Empire. The Emperor Constantine even caught it, although he was one of the few who survived.  The thing is, about half of the population of Europe died in a a very short time.  The collective memory of a society cannot recover from that kind of loss.  It was not uncommon for a forth to even the entire population of a village to die in just a few weeks–it was that deadly. When the Romans withdrew from Britania, for example, within just a little over a generation the local folks did not know where the roads and aqueducts they were using came from. Roman sculptures and tapestries remained, yet people started thinking they were built by a race of giants–with little memory of the Empire that had once ruled the land.

Alas, my professor was not thrilled with my theory even though I felt I’d supported my argument. Since then I’ve at least convinced myself the Roman Empire, and the plague are both directly tied in to demise of civilization. In just a few short years a populace that was mostly literate, where medical care was so advanced they had surgeons and anaesthesiologists, clean running water and a food distribution system descended into anarchy with nothing more than loose local government and an illiterate population where only monks and priests could read and write. All because of a disease carried by rats.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Happy Easter

When I lived in Colorado this family down the street who had two adorable little girls. Anyway, come Easter morning Mom came out and placed some eggs around the yard. I noted they were all the plastic kind that you can put little goodies like M & M’s inside.  Well, after Mom went back inside I took a dozen eggs I’d died orange and planted them in the yard. So, the girls came back with baskets teaming with more eggs than Mom had put out–including some real hard-boiled eggs.  I wonder if the parents noticed the girls had these hard-boiled eggs they had not made. And, if so, if the wondered if there really was an Easter Bunny or they thought there was some sort of psycho running around putting eggs in peopl'es yards. I have no idea what the reaction was.  

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Tires

I had to get a new tire yesterday.  It's the third flat tire I've had since September. All of them had sidewall damage and could not be repaired.  I am starting to wonder if these are random. Perhaps someone is punching my tires on purpose.  Fortunately, I had what's called "Road Hazard" protection and have gotten the tires replaced  by the store.  Annoying, though.  

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Breakdown of Law & Order?

A neighbor of mine works part time at a local dollar store.  He told me the other day that their shoplifting incidents are up 125% over last year.  That means they have doubled plus gone up a forth on top of that.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Old dusty thirsty guy

I had a vision of some old guy crawling through the sand, looking mighty thirsty. Only that old guy was me and he was looking for iced tea.  And he came around a bend and there was a building marked store. He crawls inside and spots an isle marked "iced tea" and goes to the shelves. He finds nothing but sand. The shelves are bare. Slowly, he crawls back out of the store and out into the desert.   

That's how I feel these days.  They used to have jugs of iced tea and it was cool and refreshing. Now, there is none.  

Monday, April 6, 2020

Where is everything?

I guess I'm just stupid, but I'm having a hard time figuring out the chronic shortages in the stores. I've never seen anything like it. I grew up in California where we had an abundant supply of fires and earthquakes, yet the stores were never out of basic items for more than a few days.  As the weeks go by I note things like toilet paper remain in short supply.  Another item that baffles me is those jugs of iced tea--there haven't been any in the local stores for weeks.  Why would people want to hoard iced tea?  The store shelves in general are quite thin, but these certain items just don't make sense.

Maybe the company that makes the stuff has just given up?  I don't know.  I doubt I'll ever figure it out.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Good old days

My brother's running around in his mask now.  It used to be if you went into a store or bank with a mask on they'd trip a silent alarm. Not anymore.  

This is worse than the plague during the middle ages. They didn't close stores and restaurants.  I'm sure they could go to Best Buy and look at new computers anytime they wanted. But, not now.  All we can do now is get crappy take out food.  I miss that cute redhead who worked at the Italian place.  Back in the Middle ages they could go flirt with cute red-haired waitresses and didn't have to get take out. But not now. All I can have is takeout.  Makes me long for the good old days when they had the plague, And they didn't run around with masks on. 

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Oh my

I'm currently reading for a new anthology.  Whilst we've been getting a decent number of stories, the quality is seriously lacking.  I've been down this road before and know it's part of the territory. Still, I am amazed at how many people don't seem to have any idea how to write a decent story. One particular thing I keep seeing is some lawman does this, then he goes and does that.  The concept of even trying to develop interesting characters does not seem to ever occur to these wannabe writers. But that's the  nature of editing.  I have no idea why every single story that comes in involves some two-dimensional lawman,  Oh well, I guess it's my job to protect the reading public.  

Thursday, April 2, 2020

phobia of the month

It's time once again for our phobia of the month.  This month it's cynophobia, which comes from the Greek words that mean “dog” (cyno) and “fear” (phobia). A person who has cynophobia experiences a fear of dogs that's both irrational and persistent.


Wednesday, April 1, 2020

What if?

I've edited a number of science fiction projects over the years.  One story idea that comes up now and then is aliens could kill us all without ever even revealing themselves. All they'd need to do is create a highly virulent virus and let it spread around the world--killing the people off.  In light of current events, I'm not so sure that's a far fetched story.  That's often the case, that science fiction is only a little ways ahead of reality.  Well, some alien disease is not a new idea. The 1971 story Andromeda Strain has been there and done that.I thought I might get a copy and watch it.