Had They But Known

I caught an old 1962 episode of the tv series NAKED CITY, "Hold For Gloria Christmas".  Naked City was framed around several police detectives, but the emphasis was on the personal stories of the ordinary people involved in the investigations.  It was sort of a halfway-house between the pure anthology series like PLAYHOUSE 90 and the modern tv series focused on a central and continuing cast.

The episode itself was well worth watching, with Burgess Meredith as a self-destructive, dying poet desperate to retrieve his poems from the bar-owner to whom he's traded the manuscripts for drink.  (Also, a frighteningly young Alan Alda in what must have been one of his first roles, as a contemptful rival poet.)

Something else that caught my eye, though, were the scenes set at a street newsstand.  Take a look behind Burgess Meredith in this screenshot; see what was on display at that newsstand?

Oh, man.  Anyone still alive who ever worked on that episode who sees that screenshot must slap themselves in the forehead and think, "Oh, why couldn't I have slipped a little 'souvenir' from filming that episode down my pants?"

That issue of AMAZING FANTASY was the very first appearance of Spider-Man.  It would probably be worth more now than it cost to film that entire episode in 1962.


Yay, Me.

A few days before I broke my arm, I reported here that I'd completed writing a short story for the first time in six years.

Much to my surprise, I completed a second short story, "Nell and Ray Go To Bed", about 1300 words, last night.  Yep, with one hand tied in front of me.  (For the record, typing one-handed -- with the left hand, at that -- is not a lot of fun.)

I think it's a good story.  In the past, the stories I've written quickly, in one or two sittings, have actually sold faster and gotten better critical reception than stories carefully plotted in advance and written over weeks or months.

I hope to do more "Nell and Ray" stories eventually.  I've had a note in my "story ideas" folder for a while that if Death had children, they'd be named Nell and Ray.

But one of the reasons I've had so much difficulty writing in recent years has been a loss of faith in my own ability to write fiction.  I've found myself unable to judge, or to trust that judgment, whether what I'm writing is worth writing.  I've tended to fall into the "This is crap" dead-end partway thru a story.  So it may be that writing these quick, short pieces is what I need to do to get back where I don't feel like a phony by calling myself a writer.  (I let my SFWA membership lapse in 2009.)

Part of the motivation for writing "Nell and Ray" may be that, while I'm not able to work or to do as much around the house, I've been reading a lot more than usual.  Among that reading has been THE COLLECTED STORIES OF ROGER ZELAZNY, a 6-volume set published a few years ago by the underappreciated NESFA Press.  If Zelazny's short stories are an influence, it's a pretty good one to have.  Even half-assed imitation-Zelazny is worth shooting for.

Michael Whelan's panoramic cover for the 6-volume Zelazny collection


The Zodiac Re-Imagined

Found on behance.net, a lovely re-imaging of the Zodiac as a series of female portraits, by German artist Ekaterina Koroleva.  The full set can be seen here.


An Appropriate Image For Today

image found on allthingsdurning.tumblr.com

You get Santa.  You get Charles Durning (whose December 24th death was reported earlier today) as Santa.  And that salute?  Durning was not only a fine, fine character actor who could make even mediocre roles in mediocre movies sparkle, he was a survivor of both D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge during WWII.

Thank you, sir, for your service not only to art and entertainment, but your service to your country. I salute you.

A video of Durning speaking about his D-Day experiences can be seen here.


Dogs Read With Their Butts

posted from Bloggeroid

Not My X-Rays, But Close

I still haven't seen the x-rays from my own broken arm, but the image below should be pretty close to what mine look like.  I'll put the image behind a break, because it's pretty cringe-worthy.

The technical term for my type of break is "comminuted".  (From Merriam-Webster:  being a fracture in which the bone is splintered or crushed into numerous pieces.  Yeah, that sounds appropriately painful.)

The nickname for how I shattered my arm is "a Superman break".  That's when a falling person puts out one arm like Superman's flying position to try and catch themselves.  Well, let's just stamp a big, fat FAIL over that manuveur, shall we?

(One of the mentally painful consequences of my fall has been the realization that I will never be a superhero.  Goddamit, "Become a superhero" has been on my To-Do list since I was a kid!  That sucks.  Really, really sucks.)


Christmas and Mortality

Our son Chris has been working essentially two jobs up in Las Vegas, both his long-time dead-end job and his "externship" for the Phamaceutical Technician career he's trying to get into. (And doing well enough at that it's been suggested he should go for a full Pharmacist degree.  Yeah, maybe, if a big bundle of cash drops out of the sky and lands at his feet someday.  He's really stretching himself just to afford the PT courses.)

But that meant his schedule was supertight, and he could only make a quick half-day trip down here for Christmas, and only yesterday on the 21st.  It's been three or four years since he'd seen Grandma Shirley, my mother, but my brother Denny was gracious enough to drive Mom on short notice all the way from where's she's been living with his family near the eastern edge of Mesa.  (Or, as we call it way the heck over here in Glendale, "The Far Side of the Universe", about a 50-mile trip.)

My mother's 85, with a variety of health issues.  None critical right now, but... she's 85.  So it's probably a good thing to take advantage of any opportunity for her and Chris to see each other.  There's no reason to think this will be her last Christmas, but... she's 85.

This is one of the drawbacks of geting older:  You have to start taking into consideration the question, "If I don't do this now, will I have an opportunity to do it later?"

The accident that broke my arm certainly contributed to this morbid line of thought.  I've always known, intellectually, that I'll die someday.  But being hurt so badly, and so suddenly and unexpectedly, has really impressed on me, in a deep visceral sense, that I won't be here someday.  The thought struck me while Chris and Mom were here that someday there'll be a Christmas that will be my last Christmas.  (Though I certainly hope my timing will be better than my Dad's, who actually died on Christmas Day, 1980.)

This is not an easy concept to grasp, when it's one you've been trying to avoid all your life.  I'm not sure where this mental processing will end up, or whether going thru the process is the point.  We'll see.

This lovely graphic apparently comes from
a Moldavian animation company,
possibly as part of a commercial. 
(What were they advertising?) 
That's all I've been able to find out about it,
tho' I'd love to see the full animation someday.



You know you haven't quite gotten the balance right between taking too few painkillers for your broken arm and taking too many when you find yourself wanting the answers to questions like this one:

If Superman ate a bag of charcoal briquettes, would he be able to squeeze diamonds out of his ass?

And there never will be again,
if Superman has anything to say about it.

Or maybe I'm just weird.


Modest Proposal: Stop Calling Them Trolls

I've decided to stop using the word "troll" to describe the people who obsessively post ignorant, racist, disgusting comments online.

Trolls are big.  They're tough.  They're scary and intimidating.  To the people who post these type of comments, being called a troll is a GOOD thing.

So I'm going to start calling them what they actually act like: Cockroaches.

And I'm going to call the comments left behind as the cockroaches pass through what they are, too:  Cockroach turds.

(from Wikimedia Commons)

(This post inspired by some of the despicable filth posted as comments to news articles regarding the recent death of Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii.)


Not Dead Yet

Every once in a while, masked gunmen break into the house and force me to do a Google Search on my own name.  Because I would never be so shallow and vain as to do that on my own, of course.

Which lead to a site called IsXDead?, purportedly a site to find out if "celebrities" and "public figures" are dead or not.  An important part of their "research" is apparently from a public poll on the webpage, asking visitors to state whether they think I'm still alive or dead.

The good news: Four out of five people think I'm still alive.  1782 voted for "Alive", 442 for "Dead".

Or did they?  Because I frankly have a great deal of trouble believing over 2,000 people 1) Googled my name, 2) went 3 or 4 pages deep into the results to find the IsXDead? link, 3) actually followed the link, and 4) would actually cast a vote.  Particularly because to get to the IsXDead? link, you'd have to skip merrily past dozens of other links that would give evidence I was still alive and occasionally functioning, including numerous links here to UF.

(The most popular post on UF, regarding a 2006 book tour appearance by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer, has had less than 400 pageviews.)

The site also gives my year of birth as 1906.  Well, I do feel that way, sometimes....

So where do those numbers come from? Who knows? I suspect that if I went on to register to post a comment that I'm still alive, I'd end up being asked for personal information, or to join Facebook (same difference).  So I didn't go past that first page.

That's also why I'm not providing a link to IsXDead?  Because, putting it into technical and computer-savvy terms, that website is fucked-up-in-the-head.


Mim Keeps My Chair Warm

posted from Bloggeroid

Broken News

Home from hospital Thursday night. More on that broken arm:

Not much to say about the accident itself.  It would be nice to be able to say it happened while defending the property at my security job from hordes of ninjas and zombies, but it actually was just a bad fall on a concrete sidewalk.  The sidewalk won.

The break, in the shaft under the head of the right humerus, produced enough pieces the doctors decided against trying to use plates and screws to put the bone back together.  So Tuesday afternoon the top part of the humerous was removed and a metal prosthesis put in its place.  I guess this now makes me an Official Cyborg.  When bandages are removed and scars healed, I will see if I can use any of our fridge magnets to stick a to-do list to myself.  (First entry on that list: "DON'T FALL")

If it sounds like I'm trying to make light of the situation, it's because a totally serious account would read something like this: "AIIIEEEEE!!!!  AIIIIEEEEEEE!!!!  AIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!"  God damn, that hurt.  That hurt.  That hurt.  Every time the arm moved, it hurt like jagged pieces of broken bone were trying to cut their way further into already-traumatized tissue.  Oh, wait....

It didn't help that in the day between accident and surgery, every separate x-ray or catscan -- at least half a dozen -- seemed to require a separate trip down to radiology, with each requiring at least one painful shift from gurney or bed to x-ray table or CT machine, then back again.  AND with shifters who didn't seem too concerned about my screams when those shifts took place.  (You might think it just couldn't be avoided, but the guy who took my pre-op chest x-ray managed to shift me carefully and cautiously.  It wasn't painless, but it was a lot LESS painless than everyone else's transfers.  A LOT less painless.  Thank you, Brian; thank you, thank you, thank you.  That hospital should have you teaching your techniques to the other employees; I'm serious about that.)

Less pain, but still quite a bit, post-surgery.  Like my rotator-cuff-surgery recovery a few years ago, I'll be in a sling and with that arm mostly out of use except for physical therapy for some weeks to come.  Since the injury was to my right arm this time, it will be even more inconvenient.  Financially at least, most should be covered by Workmen's Comp, and my private insurance hopefully taking care of the rest.

Mentally, I find myself more disturbed by this accident than I expected.  Part of the reason the bone broke so badly was that my 60-year old body is starting to show osteoporosis, with loss of bone strength.  Twenty years ago, I'd probably have bounced up from such a fall, maybe with abrasions and/or a sprained shoulder.  And, even after just a few days post-surgery, I can tell I'm recovering more slowly than after the rotator-cuff surgery only two years ago.  A few days after the cuff surgery, I was able to supervise a yard/estate sale for a lot of our deceased friend Anne's belongings.  A few days after breaking the arm, I'm still barely moving.  Just typing this one-fingered post is deeply wearying.

(There also seemed to be an unspoken attitude on the part of some of the medical personnel I was involved with this week: "Oh, he's an old guy.  When old people fall down, they break.  Situation normal."  No.  No, IT'S NOT NORMAL, DAMN YOUR UNCORRECTED 20-20 VISION EYES!)

I've always been fairly physically strong.  I've always known I had that reserve of strength to fall back on, even in periods of illness or injury.  But this is the first time I recall feeling not only weak and feeble, but fragile.

If we didn't have Tabbi, Hilde's live-in night-time caregiver when I'm at work, to step up and take more care of not only Hilde, but to assist me with day-to-day tasks while I'm recovering, we'd be screwed.  (We've had Tabbi living with us for seven years.  It's gotten to be a lot like having an adult daughter sharing the house.  She makes a good "daughter"; hurt her, and I'll break your arm.  Eventually.  I'll put it on a to-do list and stick it to my shoulder with a magnet until I'm recovered.)

BONUS VISUAL AID:  Barely noticeable painwise, but pretty spectacular visually, I also hit my face on the sidewalk when I fell.  I'm putting a photo below the break, in order not to frighten young or sensitive Internet users who might stumble across this post.


Wonderella Nails It

If you're a regular reader here, you might have noticed that I occasionally (as in, "frequently") creeb about growing older.

A recent Wonderella webcomic captures all the wonder and thrill of growing older.  I laughed a lot at this, between weeping bouts of self-pity.

If you don't have The Non-Adventures of Wonderella on your list of webcomics to follow, you should.  The Wonderella Twitter acount is also fun, proving that Twitter actually has redeeming social value on occasion.


Stepping Back Is A Step Forward

Last night, I completed a short story, "After The Stomp".

Only about 2,000 words, but it's the first story I've completed since 2006.  I've done a number of notes and fragments for other stories since 2006, but none have been completed until now.

(Why, and why so long?  Ummm, because... reasons!  That's why.)

"After The Stomp" is my own take on the zombie apocalypse, from the POV of a cockroach.  I'll have to see if I can get it marketed and sold before zombies become passe'.  (Assuming that my writing a zombie apocalypse story doesn't mean they're already passe'.)

But I'm cautiously stoked about finally finishing something again.  We'll see if I can continue this trend....