Friday, November 20, 2015

Yeah, I know. It's been awhile since I blogged. I was thinking of just writing that I lost my password, but I knew sharp readers would point out that all you have to do is use the 'password and recovery' function, so I decided not to lie. I suck at blogging. Although the truth is, I did lose my password and I did have to use the 'password and recovery' function. That's sixty seconds of my life I'll never get back again.

That said, I can move on to what I wanted to blog about. Last weekend I attended Windycon42 in Lombard Illinois, where this year's theme to the convention was humor in sci-fi, particularly The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Because Douglas Adams passed a number of years ago, and his ghost wasn't available, the guest of honor was best-selling author Christopher Moore. Not to be confused with the artist Christopher Moore, who by happy coincidence was also a guest of honor. Of course, when you're talking about the Hitchhiker's Guide, you know there are going to be coincidences.

Even if you've never been to a sci-fi convention, you probably have seen pictures because attendees tend to dress a bit peculiarly, with a emphasis on Klingon. And the ones not dressed up often look like a biker gang members with an affinity for pocket protectors. So lots of grizzled beards and long graying hair. But like nerds everywhere, there's no shortage of brain power. It's more likely that the geeky guy in the corner is a chemical engineer than someone who would take your order at McDonalds. During lunch one day at what was dubbed Milliways, the  Restaurant at the End of the Universe for the duration of the conference, one of said chemical engineers demonstrated how to twist a lidded plastic bottle, and then release the gasses amid a loud 'pop' when he opened it.

Chris Moore, the author, was charming during panels, and he was amenable to selfies, even from dorks like me who have trouble with the concept of creating them. After about a dozen tries, we got a picture where we don't look like dorks.

Windycon43 will feature our own Adam Selzer as host! Adam gave us a preview this year by playing a set of music from his new album Every Man Has His Price and Mine is $300.  Funny stuff, and a side of Adam I hadn't seen before. (Get yours here: http://www.82ndstreetrules.com/



Monday, May 11, 2015

Grammar Snobulist

   I have to admit, mostly because my wife accuses me, that I’m a bit of a grammar snob. This sort of makes it a bit emotionally scarring to pen realistic dialogue like, “me and Joe are gonna grab a burger.”
   Seriously, Me and Joe?  Grrr, this just grates.
   Or how about this one?  “I did it on accident.”
   On accident?
   That’s like saying, “I did it by purpose.” 
   I mean, sure, it makes sense that if you do it ‘on’ purpose, the opposite would be doing it ‘on’ accident, but no, it doesn’t work that way folks!  You do it ‘on purpose’ and ‘by accident.’
   See what I mean? I’m a bit snobbish about it. I mean what really did it hurt to say ‘on’ instead of ‘by’? Well, other than my sense of propriety.
   Fortunately, I persevere, and my characters can have convincing (but improper) dialogue.
   But that’s their problem, not mine.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Breaking Badly

   My head was clogged. It was like half a dozen voles had crawled up my nose and were digging for worms behind my eyeballs. My internal mucus factories were working overtime, pumping out more of the gunk necessary for flushing invading plant life spores from my system. When I leaned over, or god forbid, sneezed, a mini explosion would jostle my cerebellum, cerebral cortex and medulla oblongata into spasms of quivering  jelly.
    So my wife sent me to the pharmacy to get some Sudafed … where I learned I might be a criminal.
    First, I roamed up and down the aisles looking for the Sudafed, which my wife had helpfully printed out a Google image of so I wouldn’t come back with hair restorer instead, not that I couldn’t use some  help up there. But there was no boxes of Sudafed on the counters.
    I’m a guy, and we can find stuff, so I intensified my search, and then my eyes went to a row of plastic cutouts lining the top shelf like warriors up on a cliff edge ready to rush down and take what’s left of my scalp.  I really do need that hair restorer.
    Anyway, it was the Sudafed. But not the Sudafed, just pictures of them with small cards that said to go to the pharmacy counter.
    I shrugged, plucked one down, and headed for the counter.
    The pharmacist gave me a sympathetic look. Did I mention the gunk and mucus?
    “I deed dis,” I said, handing her the card.
    “Okay,” she chirped, and plucked the card from my fingers.
    When she came back with the box of Sudafed, she started entering stuff on her computer while I awkwardly waited, shifting from foot to foot.
    Without looking up, she pointed to the card reader on the counter. “Read that and then sign.”
    I blinked. “Huh?”
    She looked up from her screen.  “Just read and sign there. Also, I need your driver’s license.”
    “My what?”
    She straightened up.  “Your driver’s license.”
    “Why do you need that? Is it dangerous to drive on that medicine?”
    “No, it’s a controlled substance.”
   “But, but, it’s just Sudafed. Why is that a controlled substance?”
    She smiled, not yet aggravated by my obtuseness. “People can make crystal meth from it.”
    I blinked again.
    “Haven’t you seen Breaking Bad?” she asked helpfully.
    “Um, well, I’ve been meaning to …”
    “It’s a great show. Anyway, you need to sign for it.”
    “Okay,” I said slowly, handing her my license, and I checked the box on the card reader where I agreed I’d read the instructions I didn’t read and signed my name, and paid for my controlled substance.
    A week later, I took my 18 year old cat to the vet, who said he wasn’t feeling well mostly because he’s the equivalent of 88 years old in human years, but she said he had some treatable issues and prescribed some special food to help his kidneys.  I bought some cans of the special food and shuffled off back to my car.
    Later, I went to a pet store to pick up some more, and then I tried to pay.
    “Um, sorry, Sir,” the cashier said.
    “What’s wrong?”
    “Er, you need a prescription for this,”  she continued.
    I looked at the bag, and then at her.
    “A prescription?” I parroted.
    “Uh, yes.”
    “For cat food?”
    “Well, yes.”
    “Is this one of those crystal meth things?” I asked.
    “I don’t know, Sir,” she said.
    Fortunately, I had a prescription in my wallet that the vet had handed me I thought as a joke, and I paid for the food.
    But it got me thinking, how did the meth heads sucker cats into this whole drug culture thing? I really thought cats were cooler cats that that. 


Monday, March 30, 2015

Spring and War

   Ah, Spring. Time for regrowth, daffodils and crocuses …
… and War.
   This weekend, the trees opened up their whatever it is they open and  armies of pollen spilled out of its orifices like over-caffeinated Huns. Riding the great steeds of air currents, they galloped mightily towards the welcoming dampness of nasal passages in the country of Norm, and encountering no resistance poured viciously inside whooping great war cries.
   From his post near the front, Commander Histamine  rallied his troops and they quickly poured viscous gunk into the passages in an attempt to slow down the horde of pollen.  He realized that this would cut off vital supply of air which would be needed back at the home base of Lungs, but like all great leaders  he also knew that there were certain sacrifices that would have to be made. The citizenry of Norm would have difficulty breathing, but at least they would not be overwhelmed by the hordes.
   But the gunk was not enough, because by sheer numbers alone the great band of pollen overwhelmed the heavy goo, leaving their fallen brethren stuck in the tremendous bog of gunk, and screaming like banshees the pollen swept deeper into the sanctum.  Commander Histamine knew he would have to use the big cannons, so waving his cilia, he gestured to his bombardiers, who promptly primed the heavy cannons.
   The cannons rocked from deep inside the fortress and a great explosive force blew past the cavern with explosive force.
   One of his soldiers rushed up and saluted. They’re assaulting the eyes now,” he said in a rushed rush.
   “Flood the ducts,” Commander Histamine commanded.
   “Yessir.”  Immediately buckets of tears poured from the ducts kept prepared for this moment (and other moments generally related to sadness, hysterical laughter or choking on a cookie) washing the pollen down the cool slopes of Mount Cheek.
   “Turn up the itchies,” the Commander shouted.
   A moment later an enormous knuckle appeared, and rubbed the itchies.
   “I think they’re on the run now, Sir,” one of his soldiers reported, unable to keep a wide grin from his face.
   But before Commander Histamine could reply, he noticed another airborne attack sweeping into the Cavern of Nostril. “Oh, no, that was just the first wave!” Commander Histamine cried. “Send in the backup forces. Prepare more gunk!” The great engines that created gunk could be heard gurgling at high velocity.
   Immediately, the large group of Commander Histamine’s forces which had been kept in reserve, poured into the passages, their sheer numbers clogging the airways. “Link cilia,” the Commander ordered. And the forces linked their cilia together, creating an impenetrable wall.
   A soldier from the rear made his way through. “Sir, Headquarters is reporting respiratory problems.”
   Commander Histamine gritted what would have been teeth if he’d been humanoid. “No matter. This is a war we must win.”
   “But sir.”
   Commander Histamine swept the young soldier out of the way. “No, son. This must be finished today.”
   The second wave of pollen rushed into the cavern, whooping their war cries. “Do it for our children,” Commander Histamine urged. Buoyed by his courage, his forces rallied and stood strong, swelling the passages with their bodies alone.
   But as they packed the passages, the great air currents that kept the home base of Lungs pumping slowed to a trickle. But in his enthusiasm, Commander Histamine barely noticed.  Another soldier appeared, “Sir, Home Base is reporting critical overloads. They need oxygen.”
   Swept into a war frenzy, Commander Histamine was oblivious, and pushed the young soldier out of his way. “Fight on!” he cried. “More gunk.”
   Another soldier popped in and said in a Scottish brogue, “But Captain, I dunno how much more the engines can take!”
   “I’m Commander, you fool,” Commander Histamine growled. “Just bring me more gunk!”
   “Yessir,” the soldier saluted with fifty of his cilia, and rushed off to man the gunk engine.
   There was a great wheezing sound as home base of Lungs ramped up the two generators.
   “Sir!” a soldier cried. “Headquarters has demanded that you stand down.”
   “I stand down for no man,” Commander Histamine growled.
   “But Sir, another message from Headquarters ordering you to stand down.”
   “NO!” Commander Histamine cried, completely swept into a war frenzy.
   Suddenly a whoosh of air rushed in from outside, sweeping aside both the hordes of pollen and Histamine’s troops in one great flood of steroid spray.  “Oh, no!” Commander Histamine cried, as the Anti-Histamines released by his own allies rode in on their great war horses, grabbing him by the cilia and dragging him into the dungeons to stand trial for war crimes where he would ultimately be released to a hospital for wounded war heroes. For he was a hero, after all
   Soon calm was restored in the country of Norm. Yes, there were tense relations, and respiration and tension were at high alert,  but oxygen could make it to the engines in Lungs and peace reigned.
   In the distance, a commando robin dropped down in ambush over a worm sentry which had strayed too far from its post.
   “Aaaghh!!” the worm cried, as he was hauled off to enemy headquarters for questioning…
…and more. 


Friday, March 20, 2015


For some reason, I can’t stop wondering about weird things that other people don’t seem to wonder about.  In my mind, I think it’s that they don’t want to wonder about it and are just as happy to let someone else do the wondering. Which I’m happy to do, though I wonder why.
Today I found myself wondering about the whole left-handed, right-handed thing. I mean, how weird is it that we have two perfectly matched arms, virtually identical - though opposite, but we develop a slightly better relationship with one of them over the other? It’s sort of like the mother bird preferring one hatchling to another, sometimes to the point of shoving the non-preferred one out of the nest.
Some people do use both hands nearly equally, pianists and other musical people … whom I don’t understand because I’m not musical at all. And since I don’t understand musicians at all, well, we’ll move on and ignore them.
But say you took a dozen guys from a high school baseball team and asked them to throw a baseball. They’d throw splitters, and fastballs, corkscrews and sliders, and impress the heck out of you, until you tell them to take off the glove and throw with their opposite arm. Then they’d look like a bunch of women … not women who can throw, mind you, but women who can’t throw, but who otherwise are very attractive and intelligent and probably masters of many tasks I couldn’t handle, so please don’t take offense.
So what is it about lefties, who seem to be more artistic; and righties, who are more analytical. It’s something in the brain, because, as you know, the left side of our brain controls the right side of our bodies, and vice versa, hence, lefties are the only ones in their right minds. But again, why is any of this the case? Aren’t our brains complex enough to allow us to use both arms to the same extent? Or because we only utilize 20% of our brain, is that what stifles our ability to master both arms? Maybe if we found a way to use our entire brain, we could learn to master both arms.
I can understand worship of the Hindu goddess Kali, if for nothing else that she is equally adept using any of her many arms. Imagine having four arms and trying to butter your toast, or choosing which arm to use in a ping pong game. I couldn’t handle it. No matter she’s a goddess.
But all of this wondering is good for me. It gives me something to do when I’m swimming, or trying to fall asleep. And there are so many things to wonder about. Like hair. Because before the invention of scissors and SportClips, how did cavemen keep from tripping over their hair and falling victim to voracious cave weasels?
I wonder.