Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

Thoughts and recap tomorrow ...

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Blue Garden

This was a big one for me, back in 1988 or 1989 or so, winter if I recall correctly. Didn’t know nothing about the band. Bought it cuz of a review in a guitar magazine. Fascinated me endlessly that season, and not just this tune, though this was the big takeaway for me. Always think of snow when I hear this song.

Love the Hendrix-y sound, the vocals, the lyrics, the organ thingie at the end. I think, if in some parallel universe I am a successful musician, the majority of my songs would incorporate the Organ-Thingie in some Way Shape Form.

“The Blue Garden,” by Masters of Reality

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday

Jesus went out with His disciples across the Kidron valley to where there was a garden, into which He and His disciples entered. Judas His betrayer also knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with His disciples. So Judas got a band of soldiers and guards from the chief priests and the Pharisees and went there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen to Him, went out and said to them,

“Whom are you looking for?”

They answered him,

“Jesus the Nazorean.”

He said to them,

I AM.”

Judas His betrayer was also with them. When He said to them, I AM,” they turned away and fell to the ground.

- The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John, chapter 18

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Franchise Fortunes

Came across this list during my afternoon break, thumbing through the newspaper in the lunch room. Though I’m not a big baseball fan, I found the list interesting.

Which teams are the most valued in Major League Baseball?

Well, according to Forbes magazine, the top 5 are:

New York Yankees - $2.3 billion
Los Angeles Dodgers - $1.6 billion
Boston Red Sox - $1.3 billion
Chicago Cubs - $1.0 billion
Philadelphia Phillies - $893 million.

Number Six on the list is the New York Mets ($811 million), followed by World Series champion San Francisco Giants ($786 million).

The bottom-rung team in MLB is the Tampa Devils at $451 million.

Just how Forbes figured this out was not indicated anywhere on the little chart.

I remember about a year ago the worth of sports franchises came up in a discussion between me and the Mrs. Which team was the most valuable in all of professional sports, the Dallas Cowboys or the New York Yankees?

For the life of me, I can’t remember the answer.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Band Names

Just a walk down memory lane for me … and maybe for you, too.

Some names of some bands, real and imagined, I’ve played in over the years:


Magnum Bubble Bath

The Outpatients

Idiot Savant


Free Reign

Society for Sale

Subtle Hint



It Is Itself

[Only four existed; of those four, three made demo tapes, two performed live, and one was the most fun I ever had, hands down, in this lifetime …]

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Truth is within ourselves; it takes no rise
From outward things, whate’er you may believe.
There is an inmost centre in us all,
Where truth abides in fulness; and around
Wall upon wall, the gross flesh hems it in,
This perfect, clear perception–which is truth.
A baffling and perverting carnal mesh
Binds it, and makes all error: and, to know
Rather consists in opening out a way
Whence the imprisoned splendour may escape,
Than in effecting entry for a light
Supposed to be without.

“Paracelsus,” by Robert Browning, 1835

Some lines along which I’ve been thinking about, to no avail, this past week or so. Perhaps because it’s just gunkered ’round in that ol’ baffling, perverting carnal mesh.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Who's Gonna Kill the Guvnah?


50% - Angela

25% - Darryl

10% - Rick

10% - Milton

5% - some random zombie

My bold probability-prediction, for next week’s conclusion of season 3 of The Walking Dead.

We’ll see how I do. The one very thing that keeps this show from jumping the shark for me is the fact that you can never predict, from episode to episode, who will become zombie feed. No main character (’cept for Rick, I guess) is safe …

(note: Poor Merle!)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Indian Girl

So I went to the library this afternoon for some peace and quiet. Got my special seat, powered up the laptop, began typing some ideas and reviewing old entries. Looked like it would shape up to be a productive and recharging four hours in my home-away-from-home.

However, I was quickly drawn in to conversation happening at a table diagonal to my semi-hidden desk. I couldn’t see faces or figures, but I heard voices, and at first I was annoyed. How long would this last? I wondered. As the talking continued, I fantasized about reporting them to the reference librarian. I thought about moving but, Sheldon Cooper-like, this is my seat in my library. I began to get flustered that my four hour respite from hustlebustletalktalktalk of family and worklife would be inconsiderately swept away.

Then, a couple snippets of their conversation came my way. Things like:


Centripetal Force.

dv / dt.

Harmonic function.


Ah, physics!

I peeked over the edge of my fortress walls. A grizzled, weary man in his mid-fifties sat opposite a perky Indian girl somewhere in her late teens. He wore the requisite garb of a physics professor: gray pants, a flannel-ish shirt, pens in the pocket, well-worn black leather shoes. His hair was slightly disheveled and his requisite beard streaked with gray. He looked like he hadn’t slept in days. The girl, on the other hand, was upbeat, respectful, dressed in jeans and a pink shirt. Her hair was tied back in a tight bun. She smiled frequently and her face had no creases or lines. Perfect youth.

They both had Apple laptops. They both had paper notebooks. The man was thumbing through a planner. The girl was taking delicate, extensive notes. There were long periods of quiet when they worked, followed by five or ten minutes of chatting. I soon quickly realized what was going on.

The girl was preparing for a physics test. He was tutoring her. Whether he was her teacher and they were meeting at the library extracurricularly, I couldn’t tell. I could only catch every other word or so, and I was doing work of my own. Maybe he was a hired tutor. But he was prepping her for a major test. Does physics have some sort of L-SAT or something? It’s been so many long years I don’t remember.

He advised her to practice under a time restraint, to take notes when reading the problem, to be aware of certain tricks that might be written into the problems. He quizzed her every now and then: “What is momentum?” “What is little-g?” “Would these forces cancel each other out? Why or why not?” I got the impression she was taking a practice test online.

She seemed to answer most problems correctly. This elicited nice little “very good”s from him. When she missed something, it wasn’t a blatant error, just an answer that wasn’t specific enough, and he would quietly guide her to the bull’s-eye.

He did warn her to stay at her level, not stray into higher physics. This baffled me. Initially I thought she was a high school student, but perhaps she was in college? Hard to tell, as very quickly it got quiet at that table and she went hard to work. I got the strong impression she was very willing to work hard, as she had no doubt been working at a high level all ... whatever the period of time she was studying physics.

In the two years I studied Physics at Seton Hall, in a class of about twenty or twenty-five of us, there was only one woman. The math classes had a couple, as did the introductory physics classes, these were probably requirements or electives. But when I got to electronics and modern physics and such, it was just that one girl and twenty or so of us guys. I remember her because in the summer lab she had unshaven legs.

Anyway ... go Indian girl! Ace that test! We crossed paths for three hours one day and you didn’t know it, but I wish you the best. Hopefully, when my two little ones are your age, they will attack some science with heart and soul. (Note: Little One told me for the first time earlier today she wants to be a veterinarian.) I will tutor them to the best of my ability, even if it goes as far as me having to learn an entirely new subject.

Go Indian girl!

Saturday, March 23, 2013


What a day!

First off, last night, after dealing with the little ones for the fifth night in a row (and cleaning up some more Patch vomit), I treated myself to a Heineken tallboy and then had some tortellinis with tomato sauce after. Mistake! Woke at 3:30 with raging, aggressive heartburn, unable to get back to sleep. Went downstairs and surfed around online for a couple of hours. Time well-wasted.

Then, early this morning, I paid some bills. Showered. Got an uncertain Patch dressed and ready. Had to drop off the Impala at the Chevrolet dealership. It’s acting up again, same thing it was doing two months ago, temp gauge acting funny, no heat in the car. Dropped it off at 10, and hopped into my swanky loaner: a 2013 Chevy Malibu!

We stopped for a slice of pizza (my heartburn had receded by this point, so why not tempt fate again?). Patch, her stomach still iffy, had some crackers and Pedia Lite with me, then had my crusts. I looked at my watch. By this point, my wife and Little One would be arriving at the annual Girl Scouts Mother-Daughter luncheon. Oh my. Four hundred screaming wild eight-year-old girls and their mimosa-drinking mothers.

Afterwards, we stopped by my work for – an Easter Egg hunt! Patch came alive for this. Eggs were hidden all about the store. She found six, which she guarded in her little transparent bag. She took a smiling picture with a menacing, 6 ft 2 in 250-pound Easter bunny (my boss’s boss), and decorated the framed photo with themed stickers. Face painting and tattoos elicited a major negative reaction for her, although she did request a balloon flower.

We got back in to town and stopped off at the library. She got a Disney Princess book (Pocahontas, I think) and I got her sister two 39 Clues books. I myself picked up two books from the Secret Projects I’ve been working on. Research on that later and maybe I’ll post about it here, maybe not. Hmmm. We’ll see.

Got home by 1:30, put Patch down, and man, she stayed down. Fighting some bug of some sort. If she’s still sick tomorrow, the wife will take her to the pediatrician Monday morning. I began listening to some more of The Killer Angels (I’m about 80 percent done – awesome book), but the eyelids finally got heavy, and I slept for two and a half hours.

Well, off for burritos now, as yesterday we were unable to fulfill our Friday night compact. Will watch a TCM movie tonight with my Better Half, and do some serious, much-needed relaxing tomorrow.


Friday, March 22, 2013

House We Used To Live In

Ah, heck. Might as well post this.

Like this song, a lot, always have, since the days in the late 80s (1989?) when I first purchased it on CD. Like the music, like the words, like the ideas behind the lyrics and the images in the video. It resonates with me, on multiple levels: been there, done that. Plus, I always wanted to play guitar at a live show in a tacky tuxedo.

“House We Used To Live In” by the Smithereens …

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Can't Believe It's A Week Already

Well, it’s been a week.

The dust has settled.

The house is still in one piece. No one’s gone to the hospital. The police did not have to be called. We partied hard, we broke on through to the other side, we lived seven lifetimes in seven days.

Another year, another Pi Day. We made it through.

Now, I may not know much about pi. But I know one thing:

The final Theory of Everything (TOE), the final Grand Unified Theory (GUT), the one great theory that unites Relativity with Quantum Theory, simplifies the Standard Model of the building blocks of matter, and explains the Big Bang and predicts the ultimate fate of the universe …

The equations in that Theory will contain …


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Ineligible for Service

Man, am I ticked off! Just found this out yesterday.

The uppermost age limit to join the French Foreign Legion is forty. 40! That makes me, er, just a few couple of years too old.

Another avenue of escape closed. That weather station in the Antarctic is looking warmer and warmer …

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Last Ringbearer

Wow, this is cool, sorta.

Turns out in my lackadaisical researching of Bored of the Rings I discovered another peripheral / parasidical / parodiacal entry in the Tolkien mythos. A book entitled The Last Ringbearer.

It was published, in Russia and in Russian, by spider-ologist Kirill Eskov. That’s right; he’s a scientist who studies those icky-crawlie-thingies. Specializes in Siberian Shelobs, and also studies spiders from the Paleozoic and Cenozoic eras. How nasty must those things have been?

Anyhoo, he published The Last Ringbearer in 1999 to critical acclaim in his homeland. It tells the story of The Lord of the Rings … from the point of view of Mordor! How awesomely original is that? Apparently, he began with the famous statement “history is written by the victors,” and wanted to right his tale from the, er, losing side.

Problem is, due to an aggressive Tolkien estate, he can’t get the thing published in English, though since 2010 he’s made some breakthroughs (the details of which I can’t quite figure out yet). But when it’s mass published in the USA, I’ll pick me up a copy.

Interesting, no?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Bored of the Rings

Seems downright sacrilegious, don’t it?

Yet, should my hands ever come across this … I wouldn’t mind browsing through it.

Might even be amusing.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Private Cosmos

© 1968 by Philip Jose Farmer

[major spoilers after the picture]

Imagine yourself to be a “Lord” – a race of near-god-like beings of ten-thousand-year lifespans and a practical knowledge of science so superior as to create your own private universes at a whim. Well, perhaps “at a whim” is a literary flourishment; some sleeve-rolling-up and elbow grease is required; also, the science is not well-understood or well-remembered. Yet you and your brood – it’s unclear whether the Lords are a race of beings or just an extended family – have created a multiverse linked by thousands, if not millions of “gates.” Oh, and this near-immortality and omnipotence has made you all homicidally insane, at least towards each other.

Such is the premise behind Philip Jose Farmer’s World of Tiers series, of which this is Book Three (out of Five, I believe, though later books may have peripheral relationships to this series). I reviewed the first and second books here and here. This one, A Private Cosmos, is the length of the previous two combined, so my one wish for a fuller enfleshment of the tale has been fulfilled. Kickaha, a.k.a. Paul Janus Finnegan, a.k.a. the author himself (perhaps) returns as the main character, and is the center of action. All well and good.

But let’s back up a bit. These Lords, in their quest for actual, authentic (as opposed to “all but in name only”) immortality, have created a new form of matter. Shaped like a bell, these … things … have the ability to draw out one’s, er, soul (for lack of a better term) from one body, store it, and download it into a new body. They are called Black Bells, though the actual mechanisms and process remained hazy throughout the novel. So right away there is the moral and ethical problem of these Lords stealing bodies to use to extend their lifespans.

But that is not the crisis of this novel. No – even better – the problem is that these Black Bells, when unoccupied by a Lord-in-transit, unbeknowingly become sentient themselves. Cool, neat. When they take over a body, they are called Black Bellers. Now, early in the story it becomes dreadfully apparent to Kickaha that fifty of these Bellers have escaped the labs of the offending Lords and have spread into this universe, the World of Tiers, shock troops of sorts, an invasion force. The Lord of Tiers, Wolff, Kickaha’s friend, comrade, and ally, is missing. All our hero has to staunch the invasion is Anana, Wolff’s sister-Lord, who may or may not want to kill Kickaha herself, sooner rather than later.

And so Farmer takes us on one of his trademarked adventures. Large-scale battles, tricky escapes, Amerinds, centaurs, Teutonic knights, a detour to Tier’s moon, a palace filled with deadly traps, giant eagles and their Harpy Queen Podarge. A very nice segment dealt with Wolff’s and Kickaha’s attempts to recreate the world of Barsoom, Mars from Edgar Rice Burroughs’s tales, a nicely successful attempt at meta-Literature.

However, truth be told, in all the action the rules got a bit confusing. The Beller thing, as I said, wasn’t clearly explained. I found it hard to remember how many there were, how one could take over another host, what one had to do to prevent such takeover, their motivations, their goals, etc. Another thing that was difficult to keep track of was all these “gates”. Apparently, they’re created by putting two crescents together; stepping inside will teleport you somewhere else, depending on which crescents you use. In A Private Cosmos, the action takes place on two different tier-levels, Wolff’s palace, the moon of Tiers, the base ocean Okeanos, and a couple of other locales. Towards the end of the novel, Kickaha is teleporting all over the place. Plus, Wolff set traps and riddles with the crescents, hearkening back to my gaming days (Duke Nukem, Quake) where you had to hit the proper buttons in the proper sequence to open doors, etc. Quite distracting to keep it all in the back of your mind as your reading it.

That grain of salt swallowed, the novel had one of the best endings – and I mean, “ending” in terms of the final sentence – that I have read in recent times.

Grade: B+

[warning! Major spoiler after the pic!]

All but one of the Black Bellers is destroyed, saving the World of Tiers from their cruel domination. The fifty-first Beller has escaped – to a planet quite well-known to both Kickaha and Wolff. Our plucky trickster hero and Anana, the Lord who has now fallen in love with him, suit up and prepare to gate back to Earth of the 1940s …

And that last line of the novel: “Didn’t Wolff tell you? Red Orc is the secret Lord of Earth!”

Red Orc is the shadowy figure of the series, so far only mentioned fragmentarily in a handful of sentences over the past 750 pages … I love that name, how it recalls and hearkens to Tolkien, how Red Orc may very well turn out to be the Sauron of the World of Tiers, perhaps, and how we may be finally let in on the Grand Scheme behind the framework of these here Lords. I must say that I am now quite excited to begin the fourth book.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Pop Sci Book Fail

I may have posted this before somewhere sometime, not sure. But I am trying to discover a subject to really truly delve into this summer. I had such an enjoyable experience last summer reading about World War II (enjoyable in terms of the discovery process; not in any way reveling in the horrors of that terrible conflict, though perhaps a bit in the eventual triumph over them). I want to repeat the experience. To do so, I’ve brainstormed a list of nearly two dozen topics I would love to know more about. Among them are various “higher” physics subjects – the quantum world, faster-than-light travel, time travel, expanded dimensionality, grand unified theory.

The problem is this: when it comes to physics, there is a vast gulf between the pop sci book and a college textbook.

I have perhaps a dozen unread pop sci books. That many because they’re so cheap; I can pick ’em up at one or two bucks a piece. I also have two of my “modern physics” college textbooks, as well as Einstein’s own published book on General Relativity and another physicist’s mid-40s training manual on relativity.

The latter are rather dry and make my heart palpitate thinking of the inevitable Final Exam. (Where I’ll show up naked and utterly unprepared – oh, wait, that’s just one of my recurring nightmares.)

The former, these popular science books … just … fail.


A couple of reasons keep me from cracking them open.

1. They avoid mathematics more involved than E = mc 2 at all costs! God forbid someone whose interested in cutting edge physics be exposed to a math equation! Why, show the reader an integral or a one of those backward-6 differential equation thingies, and he may return the book to the publisher and tell sixteen of his friends not to pick it up!

2. They regurgitate the history of physics ad nauseum. Maybe a little bit of Greek thought (from a superior post-modern perspective, of course), usually a bit on Newton’s revolution, but always, always, always Einstein life story. Which in itself is not a bad thing, but must every pop sci book assume it’s the very first one the reader is reading and feel the need to spend page after page glorifying St. Einstein, whose main achievements are now reaching the century mark?

3. And in regurgitating the history of physics, it is mandatory – MANDATORY – that we stop in the Renaissance and beat up the Church for its mistreatment of St. Galileo. Note: this happens in 99.7 percent of all pop sci books. Trust me, I’ve done the research.

4. They spend far, far, far too much time on the quirky personalities of physicists (male dominated, but don’t mention that!), and not nearly enough on their fascinating theories – and the consequences, both known and extrapolated, of such theories. That’s what I’d love to read about.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love me some physics. Studied it in college for two years and been reading and writing science fiction all my life. But these four trends I see in those popular science books I’ve read over the years really turn me off to the whole field.

Addendum: There are two levels of pop sci books. Those written by physics, and those written by non-physicists. The vast majority of the latter are guilty of these four transgressions. The former, though not entirely innocent, write much more worthy books.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Thoughts on Pope Francis

Anyway, I don’t have much to offer other than superficial impressions concerning the election of Pope Francis, knowing about as much as you do at this time about the man. But, here goes –

First off, I was very shocked at the quickness of the selection of Cardinal Bergoglio as Pope. I guess I’m guilty of following conventional wisdom, which patted itself on the back saying the conclave would take at least ten days to come to a decision. And this was ostensibly religious media I was following. The witticism that you must deduct fifty IQ points from the mainstream media whenever they discuss anything at all religious is a very wise and pithy saying.

I really wished a younger man had been chosen, too. Someone in his late fifties / early sixties. Someone with vigor, seeing that Benedict resigned (or whatever the proper term is) due to an age-related inability to perform his shepherding duties. When I heard that Francis was 78, I was a little off-put. We’ll be doing this again in five or ten years, I thought somewhat cynically.

However, various sources I’ve read comment that he is quite healthy and quite energetic. I hope it’s not wishful thinking. Also, I heard something to the effect that a lot of cardinals chafed under the super-long (and very anomalous) reign of JP II. They don’t want lengthy papacies, whereas the Faithful (and not so-faithful) could view this this man as a mere placeholder Pope.

Me, I don’t know. With the right man at the right time (JP II), I wouldn’t mind a 30-year reign.

The fact that he is Argentinian, “American” only in the sense of not-European-African-Asian, means little to me. I am convinced he is Catholic, and that’s all that matters. Some are worried about this “Liberation Theology” nonsense that rooted in 80s Latin America, but I don’t think much of it. The media and contemporary American culture will soon enough hate the man for his Catholic positions on homosexuality, abortion, and contraception. You know, the Big Three for the Obama Generation.

I like the symbolism with the name “Francis.” Immediately St. Francis of Assisi comes to mind. Francis, the one-percenter who threw it all away for God, who “rebuilt” the Church, who loved the poor and infirm. Yes, that’s what’s needed today. Sweep all the filth out the door, the detritus who deserve those millstones around their necks, good riddance. But then what remains must be built up. There is another Francis, one that calls to this man’s Jesuit roots: St. Francis Xavier, missionary extraordinary. The Church must reach out to this upside-down world we live in, with love but with no compromise, and offer a better vision for humanity.

He’s a man who can’t be bent to fit easily into the American political spectrum: he’s not a Liberal (sorry, “Progressive”) and he’s not a Conservative. He’s written that adoption by gay parents is child abuse. He’s written that “unjust economic structures” cause poverty and inequality. Rachel Maddow and Sean Hannity would both condemn this man. But I wouldn’t.

So … I’d like to learn more about the man. Read something trustworthy on him, something biographical. Perhaps some of his sermons. I guess that’ll all come out soon enough. What I’ve read to date I like. What I’ve read concerning his desire to immediate roll up his sleeves and get to work “on the curia” I like even better. It should be an exciting and eventually next couple of years.

Bonus point – he has but one lung!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pi Equals an Integer!

See! I found a proof, here:

Let x = (pi + 3) / 2

2 x = (pi + 3)

2 x (pi – 3) = (pi + 3) (pi – 3)

2 pi x – 6 x = pi^2 – 9

9 – 6 x = pi^2 – 2 pi x

9 – 6x – x^2 = pi^2 – 2 pi x + x^2

(3 – x)^2 = (pi – x^2)

3 – x = pi – x

3 = pi

There! The logic is flawless!  Unassailable!

Don’t buy the b.s. that pi = 3.14159 blah blah blah

Happy Pi Day!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


We have a new pope!

Very exciting for us Catholics.

Some of my humble thoughts on Pope Francis this Friday, what with tomorrow being Pi Day and all …

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

I Don't Get Liberalism

I really, really wish I could have an honest discussion with someone of the leftish persuasion on a few of my perceptions of liberalism. I really don’t get it. Perhaps it’s due to a misperception on my behalf; perhaps it’s dissonance with term definitions. I truly don’t know. But I would quite enjoy some good faith discussion on the following fairly-recent news topics –

- Why is waterboarding suspected terrorists protest-worthy, yet killing via drone suspected terrorists praise-worthy?

- How exactly does raising the tax rate on corporations and “the wealthiest among us” spur economic growth, specifically job creation?

- Why is closing the White House for tours an acceptable response to the Sequester, yet proposing the president cease to play golf using taxpayer funds subject to ridicule?

- Bonus question: How does our president define “success” for himself and his administration?

Inquiring minds, like this one, want to know ….

Kickaha's Joy

“Why not?” he said, waving his hand to indicate the Great Plains. “The air is drunk with sun and green and life. There are vast rolling prairies before us, much like the plains of North America before the white man came. But far more exotic or romantic or colorful, or whatever adjective you choose. There are buffalo by the millions, wild horses, deer, antelope, and the great beasts of prey, the striped Plains lion or Felis Atrox, the running lion, which is a cheetah-like evolution of the puma, the dire wolf and the Plains wolf, the coyote, the prairie dog! The Plains teem with life! Not only pre-Columbian animals but many which Wolff gated through from Earth and which have become extinct there. Such as the mastodon, the mammoth, the uintathere, the Plains camel, and many others.

“And there are the nomadic tribes of Amerinds; a fusion of American Indian and Scythian and Sarmatian white nomads of ancient Russia and Siberia. And the Half-Horses, the centaurs created by Jadawin, whose speech and customs are those of the Plains tribes.

“Oh, there is much to talk about here! And much which I do not know yet but will some day! Do you realize that this level has a land area larger than that of the North and South Americas of my native Earth combined?

“This fabulous world! My world! I believe that I was born for it and that it was more than a coincidence that I happened to find the means to get to it! It’s a dangerous world, but then what world, including Earth, isn’t? I have been the luckiest of men to be able to come here, and I would not go back to Earth for any price. This is my world!”

Anana smiled slightly and said, “You can be enthusiastic because you are young. Wait until you are ten thousand years old. Then you will find little to enjoy.”

- from A Private Cosmos, pages 86-87 of my 1968 Ace Paperback

Monday, March 11, 2013


Word over all, beautiful as the sky,

Beautiful that war and all its deeds of carnage

Must in time be utterly lost,

That the hands of the sisters Death and Night

Incessantly softly wash again,

And ever again, this soiled world;

For my enemy is dead,

A man as divine as myself is dead,

I look where he lies white faced and still

In the coffin – I draw near,

Bend down and touch lightly with my lips

The white face in the coffin.

- Walt Whitman

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Finds, etc.

Went to B&N for the first time in, like, six weeks. Finally we have some money in our pockets, so I didn’t feel extreme guilt searching the bookshelves for hidden and unbidden treasures. Here’s what I found:

People, Hell and Angels, by Jimi Hendrix. It was playing on the overhead speakers in the store, and I instantly remembered hearing something last week about this release of never-before-released Hendrix tunes in years. So I picked it up. Only have heard the first three songs so far, and I am not disappointed.

Master and Commander, by Patrick O’Brian. It’s the source book for that movie a decade ago starring Russell Crowe. I saw it in the theaters back then with the Mrs. and liked it. Been on the backburner for a while, and after seeing Billy Budd a few weeks ago I decided to look out for it. Found it. If I enjoy it, there’s like a dozen more books in the series.

Lust for Life, by Irving Stone. Don’t know much about this, except it’s the 1930s source book for the 1950s movie of Vincent Van Gogh’s life, starring Kirk Douglas. Anthony Quinn co-stars as Paul Gauguin, and it’s one of my favorite flicks. The book will probably stare at me off the shelf behind me for two or three years before I get to it.

The History of the Church, by Eusebius. Been thinking about this, especially since I’ve been mulling a deeper sounding into Catholicism as a potential summer or fall reading project. Was recommended in a couple of threads on Catholic Answers forum, where I went-a-looking for recommended reading.

Not bad for $22, eh?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Self-Unaware Redundant Googleplex Meta-Parody

= Gleeful asininity

Though it occurred after my band’s denoument, this clip kinda summarizes the strains of weirdity that went through our little experience, circa 1986-1996. All the elements are here, that were there:

Classic rock as an anchor
Classic rock antithetical to 80s “pop”
Meta-parody for meta-parody’s sake (a.k.a. googleplex meta-parody)
Awesome live performing
Something that only we “got”
But we didn’t know we “got” it when we “got” it (self-unaware)
And it’s funny to boot! (if you “get” it, that is)

That’s why I love this video.

Or it could just be a stupid clip.

There’s a fine line between genius and stupidity, fine words of wisdom from This is Spinal Tap, that I’ve lived my life by.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

We Shall Never Surrender!

We shall go on to the end. We shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender!

- Ondanestron, in Patchie’s GI system, to the Norovirus

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Well, our house was finally hit with that nasty norovirus going round.

Poor little Patch … kept us up last night barfing. Four times in a 24-hour period. Though Patch was her usual playful and indomitable self, she just couldn’t hold anything solid or liquid down. The wife stayed home with her this morning and took her to the doctor. The norovirus was diagnosed and a prescription to settle her tummy was prescribed. The doctor said we should let her drink 3 ounces of Pedia Lite as often as Patch wants (as long as she waits at least 20 minutes between drinks) to re-hydrate. If she couldn’t keep the Pedia Lite down, though, we were to take her to the Emergency Room for an IV.

Eight hours later, it looks like we won’t have to do that.

Thank God!

Patch is sleeping now, curled up on the couch. A little warm, but not excessively so. I came home from work around 2 to relieve the wife; she’s now en route to a gig in NYC. Gotta get Little One from aftercare in twenty minutes (and drag Patch out into the wind and sleet). Not much else going on here, tonight. Maybe I’ll get a little reading done once the girls are down at 8.

So … see ya’ll tomorrow. Hopefully with something interesting.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


Thanks to the generosity of one of the owners at my work, me and the fam were able to spend the afternoon at the Circus! Little One’s been there once before, but Patch never has been. Though initially tired and drained from a long car drive with traffic, they quickly lit up and enjoyed all the sights and sounds that any 4 or 8 year old kid would seeing elephants, tigers, acrobats, tight-rope walkers, and cannon-shot ladies:

Elephants!  Elephants!  Elephants!  Especially pooping elephants,
which drew my daughters' eyes like magnets!

My favorite part ... the lady shot out of a cannon ...

That blur dead center is her, head downwards and feet pointing straight up ... 

Finale !

A fun-filled Saturday afternoon, I must admit.

Monday, March 4, 2013

I Am Not Sheldon Cooper

Honestly, I’m not.

I’m on this new-found kick of late. My favorite library in the county is open from 1 to 5 on Sunday afternoons. Now that there’s no more football, I like to go there, by myself, for those four hours, with a current book and my laptop. It’s peaceful, near-silent, and I can get a remarkable amount of thinking, outlining, planning, and writing done. I’ve even written this post here at my library.

The problem is, I have to get there by 12:59 precisely, and I asked my wife to slightly rearrange our Sunday morning schedule to allow for this.

Why? she asks.

Well, I say ...

I have to get my seat. My special seat at the library.

What’s so special about it?

A lot. It’s a semi-private cubical that’s all the way in the back. Like sitting at the very back of the classroom. There’s a wall behind me – no one looking over my shoulder. A socket for the laptop is right next to me. The desk has a commanding view of the entire building, because to my right is an open expanse which shows the entire mezzanine below (hung paintings on makeshift walls surrounding by the 700 – 900s and Biographies) and the upper floor above (000 to 699 plus Oversized Books). There’s a railing there where I can comfortably and commandingly rest my arm. To my left are the Science Fiction and Short Story Anthology shelves, and beyond them, bathrooms and a water fountain. In front of me are several large tables and a bank of computers, and straight ahead are the Periodicals. The reference librarian is diagonally off to the side, so I feel safe if I need to get up and walk around, leaving my books and laptop in the cubicle desk. Seventy-five feet to either side are long-vertical rectangular windows, which allow me to gauge the time by the sunlight I can see on the buildings beyond them.

See why it’s so special?

And see why I have to sit there, if I am going to go through all the trouble of driving there when I could be safe at home?

“Oh my God,” my wife says. “You are Sheldon Cooper.”

No, I’m not!


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Not Fair

Patch, it’s time for a nap now.

That’s not fair!

Patch, there’ll be no dessert if you don’t eat up all your dinner.

That’s not fair!

Patch, clean up all the books and clothes on the floor of your room before we go outside to play.

That’s not fair!

Patch, give the iPad to your sister – you’ve had it for thirty minutes now.

That’s not fair!

Patch, you and your sister have to shower now while I make us something to eat.

That’s not fair!

Patch, if you say, “That’s not fair,” one more time, you’re going to be spending quite a lot of time in your room!


Patch spends the next two hours in her room, shaking her fists at the sky, cursing her lot in life and growling about all the Injustice there is to be found in this world ...

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Physics Humor

This made me laugh out loud:

You, maybe not so much ...

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Gates of Creation

© 1966 by Philip Jose Farmer

Well, here’s a first: a PJF novel I didn’t care for.

The Gates of Creation is supposed to be a sequel to The Maker of Universes, part two of the epic series known as “The World of Tiers,” though I don’t know if Farmer had this all planned out during its writing. However, it’s a sequel in the most tenuous of ways – in that it only retains Maker’s protagonist. Yeah, the framework of Tiers is kept in place, but we’re introduced to a whole new cast of characters and an entirely different universe.

Which still is fine, with two major exceptions: every single one of the new characters is unappealing, uninteresting, and/or repulsive, and the new universe introduced – which consists of five worlds access through teleportation gates – starts off quite, er, boring. One world rips off the entire raison d’etre for The Wind Whales of Ishmael (yes, yes, I know in terms of chronologic bibliography it’s the other way around; still I found it redundantly yawnful). Another is a world where everything is like coated with WD40 and all the wildlife has suction cup feet.

The plot is one of a straightforward rescue mission, which in itself is not bad, except the unappealing group of characters have to surmount a series of tests. Which you knew they would. There is like a hundred pages to fill, you know. You even knew, without being told, which characters were wearing the red shirts, to reference a meme from the original Star Trek series.

Thankfully it’s a short novel, clocking in at 140 pages (30 pages shy of its predecessor). Halfway to three-quarters through I was thinking about giving it a C or a C-minus, especially after the umpteenth alien animal attack and the incessant middle-school bickering of these rocket scientists.

But then something quite astounding happened.

It got markedly better. Light-years better.

It started with the fourth world … do I spoil or not? Oh, okay. It’s not an island – it’s a living entity! Argh! The rippling land is actually the surface of a continent-sized amoeba! With gaping mouths to swallow you whole! With that in mind, how do you cross the ten miles of what appears to be grassy plains (very hungry grassy plains) to get to those Gates to get to the next world? Hmm?

The novel definitely picked up there. But how to rescue the damsel in distress, and give the bad guy his comeuppance? Oh, that was pure ingenuity of a sort I haven’t read in a while. Quite clever, satisfyingly so. Plus, there was a legitimate twist at the end – legitimate meaning “I didn’t see it coming.” So what turned out to be a reader’s ordeal turned out to be a book I couldn’t put down until midnight last night.

And what looked like was going to draw a C-minus gracefully and gratefully curved upward to a … B-minus.

Still not a big fan of The Gates of Creation, but at least it wasn’t a waste of time. Starting the third book in the Tiers series, A Private Cosmos later today. Looks like a return to the characters and settings of the first novel. Yay!