"Cyborg Dingoes" Is The Name Of My Next Rock Band

Over at Chuck Wendig's terrible minds blog, in a post on "Ten Things To Never Say To A Writer", one of Wendig's wonderful free-associational utterances had to do with cyborg dingoes attacking an Australian orphanage. (He does this sort of thing a lot. It's great stuff.) One of the commenters expressed a wish for an actual cyborg dingo story. Well, I wouldn't want to do that without an okay from Wendig, but I figured a short poem on the subject would be permissible:


Crazed cyborg dingoes, angry with rage,
slaughtered the kids at the orphanage.
Why did they raise such terrible hell? 
To make an occasion for bad doggerel.

 Some poets should come with warning labels.  I suspect I'm one of them.


"Peace, Love, Life" -- Darn Nice Song

This is a promotional commercial for Sedona, Arizona, getting frequent airplay recently.  I like the sweet, gentle song accompanying the views of the Sedona area, considered one of the most beautiful places in the US. I haven't been able to find any credits for the song's author or performer; I'm guessing that "Peace, Love, Life" may be the song's title..


METROPOLITAN For A Buck! Whoo-Hoo!


Until September 17th, the e-book of Walter Jon Williams' Nebula-nominated Metropolitan is available for only 99 cents at a variety of providers.

Walter's one of the best writers in science fiction, and Metropolitan is one of his best books. If you don't catch the 99-cents sale, pay full price; it's well worth it.

I also recommend his Dread Empire's Fall trilogy (The Praxis, The Sundering, and The Conventions of War), big-concept epic space opera at its best. And City On Fire, the sequel to Metropolitan.  And Hardwired. And Aristoi. And the short story collection Facets. And... well, just about anything he writes. (I haven't gotten to the Dagmar Shaw series -- This Is Not A Game and its sequels -- yet, but I'm looking forward to them.)


The Phoenix Flood of 2014

Early Monday morning, September 8th, the Phoenix Metro area was hit by record-breaking rainfall, with more than three inches falling (five inches in some areas; that's over half our usual annual rainfall) over the course of just a few hours.  Flooding, road closures, and stranded vehicles were widespread. The photo above, from Channel 15's local news report, is a few miles from our house, and shows the underpass where I usually get on or off the freeway. Other underpasses also flooded, and flooding on the I-17 freeway itself brought traffic to a standstill there for several hours.

I was at work when the heavy rain started about 3:00 AM. (There'd been a few brief showers earlier that morning and the previous evening.) That's about the time buildings and gates have to start being unlocked for employee access to the sports-equipment manufacturing site where I do security work, so I and the other security officer on duty had to go out into the very worst of it. We had umbrellas and slickers available, but got thoroughly drenched anyway.

Opening one of the parking lot gates, I had to splash around in about six inches of fast-running water, evoking memories of family vacations in the Sedona area as a kid, and wading around in Oak Creek. (I was very glad it was a relatively warm summer rain, and not a nasty, icky, cold winter rain.)

Quite a few employees were anywhere from a few minutes to an hour late getting to work that morning.

The rain had started to slack off by the time my shift ended a few hours later, but my fingertips were so prunified and wrinkled by then I had to spend several minutes drying and rubbing them before the time-clock's fingerprint-reader would recognize me. By then, the (flooded) freeway underpass I go through on the way home had recovered enough to have one lane available to traffic on one side; fortunately it was the side I needed. I stuck to streets' higher middle lanes driving home; most of the curbside lanes held several inches of water.

The downpour had been heavy enough the top inches of a lot of desert landscaping washed off yards, across sidewalks and into streets, leaving heavy deposits of dirt and gravel on the asphalt after the water had mostly drained away.

Shallow temporary lakes still remain in a lot of parking lots and other areas..  Many retention basins, meant to cache excess water during rainstorms, are full, so there's concern another storm in the next few days might cause them to overflow and produce even more flooding.

Our own house got through the storm fine; it's on a fairly elevated lot.  The back porch tends to get an inch or so of water built up during an actual storm, but it drains away pretty quickly after any rain stops.

I think this storm goes on the list with the ones from 1995 (80 mph winds, with gusts up to 115; we were the only house on our block that didn't require roof repairs, but had to replace the blown-over wooden fence with a stronger block fence) and 2010 (heavy hail that caused about a gazillion dollars of damage to roofs, windows and vehicles over much of the Phoenix area; we did end up with a new roof after that one).


Non-Performance Art, Centenarian Books, and the Survivors of 1914

Over on tor.com, there's a post about the Future Library "art project".  Scottish artist Katie Paterson plans to 1) plant 1,000 trees in Oslo, Norway, then 2) commission 100 stories from 100 writers, one per year over the next century, and not publish them until 3) in the year 2114, harvest those 1,000 trees and turn them into paper on which to finally print the 100 stories.  Margaret Atwood has signed on to write the first story. 

I suggested in comments that this  could be considered "non-performance art".

I figure that if I want to think about having to wait years and years and years to see a story published, I can get pretty much the same feeling just by looking at the submission-tracking spreadsheet for my own fiction. So I have a hard time taking Ms. Paterson's idea seriously.

I can't help wondering, considering the "Scottish artist" label, whether this might be yet another Scottish invention -- like golf, bagpipes, and haggis -- meant to cement Scotland's reputation as the world's greatest and most evil practical jokers.

Other commenters raised the question of whether writers of 2014 would still have a viable reputation after a century's passage of time. Commenter StrongDreams suggested comparing popular writers of a century ago, from 1914, to see how many have survived the passage  of time and would still be considered publication-worthy.

That sounded like a good idea. Googling ensued.

via Wikipedia, bestsellers of 1914:

The Eyes of the World by Harold Bell Wright
Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter
The Inside of the Cup by Winston Churchill
The Salamander by Owen Johnson
The Fortunate Youth by William J. Locke
T. Tembarom by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Penrod by Booth Tarkington
Diane of the Green Van by Leona Dalrymple
The Devil's Garden by W. B. Maxwell
The Prince of Graustark by George Barr McCutcheon

Most of these writers would be unrecognized by much of today's audience, and even the recognizable names aren't represented here by their best work, with the possible exception of Tarkington's Penrod.

Blogger Linda Aragoni has recently reviewed all the 1914 bestsellers on her Great Penformances blog, a site dedicated to reviewing vintage books..

More pertinent might be this list from Goodreads for the 200 "Most Popular Books From 1914". The selection criteria is how many people have added a 1914 title to Goodreads, ranging from over 100,000 for James Joyce' Dubliners, to 23 for The Auxilia of the Roman Imperial Army by George Leonard Cheesman. (The Goodreads list mixes fiction and non-fiction.) 

Writers familiar to the SF/F/H community on the Goodreads list include Frank L. Baum, Algernon Blackwood, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Lord Dunsany, George Allan England, H. Rider Haggard, Franz Kafka, Arthur Machen, A.A. Milne, Sax Rohmer, Bram Stoker, and H.G. Wells.  A lot of that familiarity is because of their historical importance; stylistically, I suspect most wouldn't be able to sell original fiction in today's world.

I don't really see much point in the Future Library project.  Whatever Atwood writes will probably be better appreciated and more widely read if published today than by seeing print, finally, a hundred years in the future. The same applies, to a decreasing degree, to future writers commissioned for the project. Only the last, oh, dozen or so writers contributing to the project, from about 2099 on, will be writing in a style and about a society that won't be considered antiquated, quaint or obsolete by 2114. It strikes me as a "stunt" project, not a literary project.


Rusty, the Good Little Dalek

The most recent episode of Doctor Who, "Into The Dalek", leaves an opening for a tie-in series of books aimed at younger readers:


Rusty clearly needs a sidekick/companion by his side.  And who better than another veteran of Doctor Who, the robot dog K-9?

"K-9, I can't believe you abandoned me to pal around with a Dalek!"

Together, Rusty and K-9 will go around the universe doing good deeds -- "Mister Rusty, I'm being bullied at school!" "I WILL EXTERMINATE THEM!" -- and putting the "tin" back in Rin Tin Tin*.

*"Rusty" was the name of the boy who ran around with Rin Tin Tin in the 1954-1959 tv series RIN TIN TIN. It takes an old fart like me to come up with these far-fetched connections, you know.

(oh-so-suitable photo found on John Spade's Tumblr page.)


Joe Bethancourt

Joe Bethancourt passed away last Thursday, August 28th, 2014, at age 68. Joe had been a presence in fannish, SCA and especially folk music circles since the late 1960's.  In the SCA, he was known as Ioseph of Locksley, and was prominent in the founding of the Kingdom of Atenveldt (encompassing Arizona and bits of Utah and California).

But it was music that was his passion and profession. He was a master of many, many stringed instruments. He was a regular performer at the Funny Fellows club/restaurant for seventeen years, did work as a backup musician, and did numerous concerts and performances at various venues over the years, including a number of Phoenix-area SF conventions and some of the Glendale Public Library's "Live At The Library!" concerts. In recent years, he'd been passing on his skills as an instructor at Boogie Music in Phoenix.

Hilde and I had known Joe for a long time, caught a fair number of his performances over the years, and own most of the recordings he produced.  (Joe's various CD's and recordings are listed on his website, whitetreeaz.com. I'm assuming his family or friends will keep the website going for the foreseeable future. There are also quite a few videos of Joe on YouTube.)

We'll miss him.

This seems an appropriate video of Joe in performance:

(If the video doesn't play, here's the direct YouTube Link.)