Monday, December 31, 2012

Wagging tails

I don't like New Years very much. It's all too easy to reflect back on another year, on all the things I wanted to accomplish but did not. I guess that's why I admire dogs so much. They don't dwell on the past or the future. With them, it's just the present. It's raining today. We're going for a ride in the car today. And once that day is over, the focus simply shifts to the new day. There's a racoon in the yard or I have to go to the vet.

Dogs simply don't down a bottle of some potable and lament about lost opportuities, lost loves or having to eat dog food instead of turkey because the holiday leftovers are all gone now. They simply do what a lot of people are told--take things one day at a time. Breaking it up into manageable bits and pieces is easier, they tell us. Nobody has to tell dogs that. They just know.

I've often thought the world would be a better place if dogs ran it, if dogs had evolved into the dominant species instead of apes. Dogs are honest. There's no deception in them. If they hate you they'll growl or even try and bite you. If they love you, you'll be warmly greeted whether you've been gone for six hours or six months--no questions asked. That would be a better world, in my opinion, than the one we have created for ourselves. Maybe, after people are all killed off, God will give dogs a crack at things. They couldn't possibly do any worse.

We've had two dominant creatures on earth that I know of. First, we got dinosaurs. They ran things for millions of years. Things were probably pretty brutal back then, but there was an honesty to things.

Then, the dinosaurs all got killed off. I believed my whole life it was due to a meteor. When I was in school that theory was not accepted. It is now. They've even found the impact sight. Then, along came the apes. We haven't been around nearly as long as the dinosaurs were. I suspect the dinosaurs would be amazed at the world we've built. But, is it a better world? I think not.

And, what world would the dogs build? I have no idea. If you have a dog, as it sleeps, ask yourself what that dog is dreaming about. A new world, a new era or chasing a ball across a lawn? And is there any difference?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

It's me, Karl. Happy New Year



Hi, it's me, Karl. I'm guest blogging today.

I love the holidays. I especially like all the pretty lights they put up. One of the strangest traditions I still don’t get is the fruitcakes. People get them, then almost immediately pawn them off on someone else. I think fruit cake is simply wonderful. I wish those people would send them all to me if they don’t want them. We didn’t have anything nearly this good back in the cretaceous–nothing even close. Of course, we didn’t have stoves to cook things on. They hadn’t been invented yet. If I’d had something like fruitcake, the dinosaurs would’ve been lined up for blocks to buy them. Of course, dinosaurs didn’t have money back then because that hadn’t been invented either.

Dave, who I’m filling in for, sometimes makes a most wonderful fruitcake. It’s steamed, the way God intended [That’s what he says]. He says they’re the best in the world. I know they’re awfully good. He says his mother used to buy fruitcake from some place in Texas, then decided Dave’s fruitcake was better. The problem, as I see it, is Dave doesn’t make enough of them. I should go to that place in Texas. I’ll bet I could eat all of the ones they have.

Another tradition I don’t really understand is the Jewish Hanukkah. It sees like a lot of bother to get everyone together and light all the candles, then everybody just runs off and leaves. That’s what happened. I was out looking at Christmas lights and I looked in these people’s window and they all suddenly ran away. Not much of a celebration, if you ask me.

Well, Happy New Year. Until next time...



Friday, December 28, 2012

A tale of two westerns (sort of)

I watched two weird westerns on Christmas. One was excellent, a fine example of the genre. The other, what a lot of people think of when they think of weird westerns–pure crap. These were visual, filmed stories. I usually talk about literary weird westerns. There are actually tons of filmed tales out there, which was why I was amazed at how ignorant a lot of film critics were about the WW genre when Cowboys & Aliens came out.

Anyway, the good example took place in a town called Mercy. It was an honest to goodness weird western storyline by BBC mega star Dr. Who. I don’t think they’ve ever done that before, though I do have a fuzzy memory of one of the older doctors in some western town. In this one, an alien cyborg is hunting down another alien in a little western town out in the middle of nowhere. I loved it. It originally aired earlier this year. They reran it as a lead up to the Christmas special (which had nothing to do with westerns).

The other one was a free movie offered by the folks at Comcast. I think there’s a reason why it was free. Some guy goes back in time and doesn’t really belong there. I’ve seen this loser plotline too many times to count. It never works. And I am not going to say the name of the movie. If you like bad weird westerns, find it yourself.

God bless us everyone.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Going Concern?

With the recent launch of Gunslingers & Ghost Stories I sought out some book stores that carry a lot of horror books. I found one online list and selected 20 stores. When I checked their respective websites, it was obvious half of them were out of business. People just never update their lists.

Of the remainging ten, 8 of them were not encouraging or had no contact information, so I did not contact them. It's amazing how many so-called businesses refuse to put any contact information on their websites. What are they afraid of?

This left just two stores. Their websites would appear to be ongoing businesses. I wrote to them. Both letters were returned as undeliverable. This is truly amazing to me, that people can't shut down their websites or at least put up a banner that says OUT OF BUSINESS. So, my list of 20 stories culled down to absoluterly zero. I shan't try this avenue again.

I know the odds are low with this type of marketing. I do it because people cannot buy your product if they don't know about it. Although, they also can't buy it if they're no longer in business. It seems a lot of book dealers have gone belly up. The Census Bureau actually says brick and mortar book stores are still selling a lot of the books, but not the ones I tried to contact.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Our Beloved Post Office

As I've said before, the Postal Service works in mysterious ways. Very mysterious. They sell Prority Mail as a 2 to 3 day service. Out of four packages sent Priority Mail this month, one to Chicago took 8 days; One to New York City took 7; one to Denver took 5 days (Denver is only 100 miles away) and one to California took 3 days. So, only one in four packages arrived on time. Of course "It's not guaranteed." Boy, that's for sure. If they guaranteed it they'd go broke. Wait, they're broke anyway. Thanks to the wonders of delivery confirmation, it removes all doubt of what a crummy job they do.

Even though it costs more, I send more and more stuff UPS. The three packages I sent UPS all arrived on time.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Pred Poll

The Predators & Editors Poll is now up. If you have any thoughts about stories or books you've read in 2012 you can vote for them in a number of categories.


http://critters.org/predpoll




By the way, there's a new Dr. Who Christmas special airing tonight on the BBC Channel.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Guess Who's Comin to Town ?

I wonder who came up with Santa Claus. It’s a bizarre concept: Some fat old guy likes having children sit on his lap, and he can watch them sleeping and knows everything about them. It sort of sounds like he should be in a sex offender registry.

Santa has not given me a present in 47 years. Somehow, I doubt he’s going to bring me one tonight. When I was informed by my mother that there was no such thing as Santa Claus, I wasn’t really all that surprised. I’d been suspicious for some time. They tell you the bad kids don’t get any presents–yet the kid two doors down was evil incarnate and he always got better presents than I did.

Now, I was really bummed to find out about the Easter Bunny. I just loved hunting for Easter eggs and that was a major let down.

Some advice for writers. My science fiction novel Adventures in the Secret Police has Santa Claus as a character. This turned out to be a major disaster. It was attacked relentlessly with the constant “We don’t do seasonal material.” The problem was, and is, it’s not about Christmas in any way. Christmas is never mentioned. But, the mere mention of Santa gets a book shitcanned. It’s available now [the cover's lower on this page], but it never got much attention and was never taken seriously. So, my advice is don’t put seasonal entities in your book, regardless of why they’re there. In this case, Santa is the villain and Mr. North from the Secret Police is trying to stop him and his evil plot. AND IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH CHRISTMAS.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

If it happened today

I do not know the original author of this. It's been around the Internet for a while. I thought I'd repost it. Merry Christmas one and all


If it all happened today...

INFANT DISCOVERED IN BARN, CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES LAUNCH PROBE
Nazareth Carpenter Being Held On Charges Involving Underage Mother

Bethlehem, Judea - Authorities were today alerted by a concerned citizen who noticed a family living in a barn. Upon arrival, Family Protective Service personnel, accompanied by police,
took into protective care an infant child named Jesus, who had been wrapped in strips of cloth and placed in a feeding trough by his 14-year old mother, Mary of Nazareth.

During the confrontation, a man identified as Joseph, also of Nazareth, attempted to stop the social workers. Joseph, aided by several local shepherds and some unidentified foreigners,
tried to forestall efforts to take the child, but were restrained by the police.

Also being held for questioning are three foreigners who allege to be wise men from an eastern country. The INS and Homeland Security officials are seeking information about these who may be in the country illegally. A source with the INS states that they had no passports, but were in possession of gold and other possibly illegal substances. They resisted arrest saying that
they had been warned by God to avoid officials in Jerusalem and to return quickly to their own country. The chemical substances in their possession will be tested.

The owner of the barn is also being held for questioning. The manager of Bethlehem Inn faces possible revocation of his license for violating health and safety regulations by allowing people to stay in the stable. Civil authorities are also investigating the zoning violations involved in maintaining livestock in a commercially-zoned district.

The location of the minor child will not be released, and the prospect for a quick resolution to this case is doubtful. Asked about when Jesus would be returned to his mother, a Child Protective Service spokesperson said, "The father is middle-aged and the mother definitely underage. We are checking with officials in Nazareth to determine what their legal relationship is.

Joseph has admitted taking Mary from her home in Nazareth because of a census requirement. However, because she was obviously pregnant when they left, investigators are looking into other reasons for their departure. Joseph is being held without bond on charges of molestation, kidnaping, child endangerment, and statutory rape.

Mary was taken to the Bethlehem General Hospital where she is being examined by doctors. Charges may also be filed against her for endangerment. She will also undergo psychiatric evaluation because of her claim that she is a virgin and that the child is from God.

The director of the psychiatric wing said, "I don't profess to have the right to tell people what to believe, but when their beliefs adversely affect the safety and well-being of others in this case her child - we must consider her a danger to others. The unidentified drugs at the scene didn't help her case, but I'm confidant that with the proper therapy regiment we can get her back on her feet."

A spokesperson for the governor's office said, "Who knows what was going through their heads? But regardless, their treatment of the child was inexcusable, and the involvement of these others frightening. There is much we don't know about this case, but for the sake of the child and the public, you can be assured that we will pursue this matter to the end."

Friday, December 21, 2012

End of the World

I remember back a few years ago when the president of the company I worked at came up to me and asked me to write up something on the Mayan calendar and the end of the world. Well, I got right on it. The gist of my conclusions were that people were taking advantage of the fact that few people on Earth could read the Mayan language, ergo they were taking liberties with things. The basis of this was that there was more than one calendar. There was the short calendar, which was lunar based and was pretty much like any calendar. Larry’s birthday is next week. We plant in two weeks. That sort of thing. Then there was the long calendar that dealt with cycles and bad times like droughts and times of prosperity. I equated it to something like the Farmer’s Almanac. My conclusion was people were reading things into it that simply were not there. I don’t know if he liked my essay, but that was what I did. By the way, I was working at a shuttle transportation company and neither my job nor anything the company did had anything to do with Mayans.

Some of the crackpot squad since then started elaborating on the doomsday theory by filling in details such as some planet called Nibiru is going to crash into the earth. NASA insists there is no such planet and if there was one it would have shown up long before now. With thousands of telescopes worldwide trained on the night sky, I suspect NASA is probably right.

So, in the final hours of Earth, I’ll just say this. The calendar ends. You just restart it. You just start over. It’s not that frigging complicated.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Great Performances?

Going through school, as many schools do, I recall certain pageants that were put on. They weren’t really plays so much, as some sort of event on stage. My first outing in costume was as a horse’s ass. I think that one was in the second grade, but the years are sort of blurred. Some might say I’m still a horse’s ass, but I think that has different meaning. Yep, I was paired with some guy who had a horse head and I followed him around the stage. It’s not easy being the horse’s ass. [And that may be why there was a sketch on a Benny Hill episode I always thought was hilarious when, during a play, the front half of the horse started cutting farts and the back end broke away and ran off] But, there is limited artistic fulfillment for even a second grader, in playing a horse’s ass.

Then, there was some Thanksgiving based holiday deal around third or fourth grade when I was a Pilgrim. There were three of us with wooden axes. We marched across the stage swinging our axes as if we were chopping down trees. That was it.

So, I don’t think the elementary teachers had much confidence in me as an actor with such challenging roles. Our family moved from Texas to California in fifth grade. I moved from bit parts to stage crew. I moved some of the scenery in the fifth grade butchering of A Christmas Carol, which was far more ambitious than the earlier crap. That was a real play.

Then, in the sixth grade, I got to run the lights. That was way cool. The play, a bizarre one about some toyland, was incomprehensible, but the lights were great. We had pink ones and blue ones and a big huge bright one from the back of the room. And I didn’t screw it up or anything.

Then, in junior high, I didn’t do any plays or such. Don’t remember why. In high school I didn’t either, but mostly because they kept having the most bizarre plays that did not in any way seem fun–like one on the Scopes Monkey Trial and another based on the Orwell novel 1984. They were awful and I steered clear of them.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Jinx

I don't know why, but every time I have to go somewhere in the winter the weather always turns awful. I know, I live in Colorado and should expect that. Even back a zillion years ago in California, it was the same deal. I'd look at the long range forecast, book a trip to somewhere like Reno, then the weather pattern would abruptly change and there's suddenly two feet of snow in the forecast.

So, off I got to Denver today for a medical appointment. The forecast was fine when I made the appointment. Now, I'm likely driving through a blizzard.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Speakerz

I got asked to speak on weird western horror recently. I enjoy speaking on stuff like this, though I do not often get the chance. Some outfit over in Grand Junction invited me.

The last time I gave a talk, not counting con or book readings, was about three years ago. The Denver Area Science Fiction Association invited me to speak. Well, I got some incomplete directions, then got lost and showed up half an hour late. They never invited me back. Can't say as I blame them.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Cheapo

One of the things that I dislike about living in ski country is the cost of everything. Whenever I go to other places, like Phoenix or any other city, I often do a double take at the prices of everything. Stuff is always cheaper. Even in Denver stuff is cheaper--whether that be food or gasoline. The people who study this stuff say healthcare is cheaper there as well. It's harder to compare things like healthcare, though I do not doubt the findings.

That said, one can't simply hop in the Ford and drive to Denver to satisfy a hankering for tacos. But, as I think about expenditures for next year, I am tempted to figure out the cheapest place in America and go there for summer vacation. Alas, that's not quite as simple as one might think. Lodging, food, entertainment, transportation are all somewhat different entities. One place may have the best deal in food, but be astronomical in terms of transportation, for example. If I figure out the answer to this riddle, I'll declare my findings in a later post.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Shopping Daze

One wonderful, incredible thing my family did many years ago was we stopped giving gifts at Christmas. I already know what I'm getting this year--nothing. It's simply wonderful. Last weekend I was in Denver. I was amazed at how crowded the parking lot was at one of the malls. And I simply drove on by. I did not need to buy anything. It was simply wonderful.

I don't really know exactly why, but I do know that most everyone never seemed to like the gifts they got. So, we just stopped exchanging gifts one year. Everyone, with the possible exception of the dog, was delighted. No hassle. No wrapping gifts. No returning unwanted gifts. It was wonderful. [The dog sure enjoyed getting presents, though.]

Friday, December 14, 2012

Ripped Off One Book at a Time

Technology moves on. I've known for some time that my first published novel was something of a rip off. I've written it off to lessons learned and moved on. That book is no longer in print and I have nothing further to do with my former publisher.

I never got paid a penny in royalties, yet books were sold. What I find interesting is that I can now detect way more library sales than I was aware of back then. My library can now let me scan the country and see what other libraries have my books. And there are way more copies of it in libraries than I realized. I mean, I'm glad people are able to read my book and all, but the magnitude of the fraud is much greater than I realized. So, it's bittersweet to say the least.

Note to newby writers: do not sign a deal with an out of state publisher that you may not have recourse over unless you're certain they're solvent and honest. And always get an attorneys fee clause in the contract.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Twelve

I really wanted to have something to say about yesterday's date of 12-12-12. Alas, I could not come up with anything to say about it. It's the last time this happens until the next century. We went through 1-1-1 to 2-2-2 and up to 12-12. But there is no thirteenth month so that's the end of it.

I knew someone who was going to run around yesterday writing checks 12-12-12 at the store and post office. I told him that's stupid. Nobody cares. Don't know if he did it. Sometimes, I wonder what it's like to be a dullard.

So, have a doughnut.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Spanish Lessons Right Here

We haven't done Spanish lessons in a while. Here are some useful phrases in Spanish.



Aliens fathered my child
Aliens padre de mi hijo

What aisle is the poison at?
¿Qué es el pasillo de envenenamiento al?

The man cannot find the dead body
El hombre no puede encontrar el cadáver

Is there rat meat in the sandwich?
¿Hay meat rata en el sándwich?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Spam Awardz

I said last week that I think most of the people soliciting me to read their book or story are delusional. There is no way on earth most of these people are going to win a Stoker Award. Well, the deluge of pitches just keeps coming. I honestly think someone must be selling the HWA mailing list, though the powers that be keep insisting that is not the case.

In general, I really hate spam. The problem is it's so blasted cheap to send out. Over at SF Trails I've sent out limited emails to people that have some involvement with SF Trails, but I even feel guilty sending those out.

So, I guess the time has come for the email ad people to have the SPAM Awards. Categories could include best pop up spam, best spam disguidsed as a bank statement, most annoying spam, and most poorly designed and ineffective spam (I'd nominate most of the Stoker spam in this category).

Monday, December 10, 2012

Spying

I never had much doubt that some of my internet activity included being spied on. This is done in the name of marketing and includes things like this blog. What I found a little strange and unnerving was what happened last week. My car was smashed by somebody, so it went to the body shop for a few days. I got a rental car for the duration. It was a Mazda--a nice car. What I thought was odd was the fact that there were suddenly Mazda car ads every time I serched on Google. How could they, our overlords at Google, know about the fact that I rented a car at Enterprise? It seems too much Big Brotther,yet there it was.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Laws of Physics

Well, our first major snow storm arrived Saturday. I was in Denver attending a reading of Gunslingers & Ghost Stories. On the way back home there were cars in ditches everywhere. The road was quite icy and very slick. And, just like every year, most of the cars in the ditches were four wheel drive SUV's because the people who drive them seem to always think the laws of physics don't apply to these cars. Well, you can have all the acceleration on ice you want, but four by four doesn't stop any better than any other car. Twas a good night for being in the tow truck biz.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Reading

Well, tomorrow, Saturday the 8th, there will be a reading from Gunslingers & Ghost Stories at the Broadway Book Mall in Denver at 2 PM. To those Denver area folks come on by. We have four local authors scheduled to read. I'm not exactly sure what my role is, as I'm not reading because I do not have a story in the book. I'm just the editor.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Awardz

For the past few months I’ve been getting pitch after pitch wanting me to read this story or that book. There have been so many I’ve lost count. I get these pitches because I’m a member of the HWA and the HWA hands out the Stoker Awards. The process is complicated, but there’s a nomination process and a voting process. The thing is, and I hate to say it, but most of these people pitching me to read their books are delusional. They have absolutely no chance in hell of winning a Stoker or any other literary award.

Now, I’d like to have a Stoker. Wouldn’t mind a Pulitzer or a Nobel Prize, either. But, at least I have sense enough to know it’s not going to happen. However, all this thinking about awards has convinced me what is needed is a weird western award. The thing is, I have to figure out the details. But a weird western is never going to win a horror award or a science fiction award because they depart too far from the statistical mean, if that makes any sense. They’re too damn offbeat to win a mainstream award. There’s a lot of details of what to call it and what kind of prize to give out. I was thinking of calling it the Haakon, short for Haakon Jones, the primary character of the late Aaron B. Larson. We could give people a certificate run off on my home computer and a five dollar McDonald’s gift certificate. Then people could call themselves an award winning writer.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Kalendur

For the past few years I've bought a calendar from a comany called Browntrout. It's been their Flying Saucer Calendar. Now, suddenly, I can't get one. I'm kind of bummed. I've checked everyone's website and there just isn't one anymore. There's a picture of the cover, but actual copies of the calendar simply do not exist. It's like they announced it and never printed it. I'd think there would be enough space aliens to buy them that they'd have a ready market. So, I guess I'll find something else. Back a long time ago I made my own calendars. But, alas, I just don't seem to want to bother anymore. Maybe I won't even get one.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Doctor Woo and the Green Hornet

I was thinking I would do the Dr. Who show if Matt Smith ever leaves. Of course, I'm not British and have no acting experience. I wonder if that might be a problem. Probably not. Seriously, I'd like to write an episode, though. That would be way cool.

Speaking of writing for the screen, I haven't really found anyone very enthusiastic about The Green Hornet versus the Frito Bandito. I think it would be a huge blockbuster.

Oh, that's not a typo up top. My latest crackpot idea was a Chinese Timelord called Dr. Woo who wanders around the universe in a Chinese Junk that's really a time machine.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

New Review Science Fiction Trails 8

There's a new review up at SF Site.

Science Fiction Trails #8

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------







A review by Sandra Scholes




The art for this issue's cover is a new look at a character from an old story, the original robot was on the cover of issue #4 and, as it is out of print, fellow artist and writer for Science Fiction Trails, Laura Givens thought it would be a good idea to bring the artwork and the pesky character back for another airing. The theme this time around seems to be on alternate worlds. The emphasis is still on science fiction mixed with the westerns, but this was thrown in at the last minute and gave the whole magazine a new edge they thought readers would enjoy. Other interesting features include dinosaurs, steampunk and alchemy, something that issue #7 was notable for.

"Pirates of the Ozarks" by Lou Antonelli

This story starts out as a report directly for the President about the US Navy's attempts at stopping the pirate captain and his infamous men from ruining their trade and commerce routes. Lou Antonelli carefully crafts this tale with vigour, and gives the reader a rather nice twist at the end.

"Greenhorns" by William K.D. Wood

When Benjamin and Caleb stumble onto the body of a charred woman, Caleb thinks the culprits are the Indians, but Benjamin thinks it is unlikely as it seems as though something has fallen from the sky. In fact, whoever or whatever had done this had burned her clothes, and even her jewellery had melted. It is then the guys feel they are left with a real mystery on their hands. William K.D. Wood uses the fear factor to keep the interest with this one, as he puts the two of them in the danger zone when they do find who killed the woman. Don't read it with the lights on.

"The Great Colorado Gold Company" by Raymond Broadbeard

Seth Wilmouth doesn't like being interrupted when he wants to have fun with Hope, a pretty little redhead who works the Glenroad Saloon. She deserved her ingot after the night she gave him, but the appearance of Jacey J.Hartley makes him feel uneasy. There is something weird about the man, and he doesn't seem to understand other's privacy when he wants to do business. Raymond Broadbeard's story is a short one, but it does have a funny and satisfying ending that will leave you smiling.

These are some of the best stories in this issue, and science fiction does meet the Wild West and turns it around in a fresh new way. The stories are getting better each time, and it is a delight to see that David B. Riley keeps the same writers as he has established them right from the beginning.

Readers of the magazine will also enjoy Karl's Corner where the dinosaur sheriff catches up on his mail for the week. It's a nice spoof sandwiched between all the serious stories to lighten the mood. The author's notes that come with this issue are also of interest as they let the readers know how the writers have strived to verify the truth of their content, and research as best they can for the stories. Notes on where the stories have appeared before are helpful as readers might want to investigate those publications as well. Science Fiction Trails doesn't stray away from humour, as there is also a cartoon all about Outlaw Al and his escapades -- and he isn't as lucky as many might think.

Tasty biscuits

Yesterday I had some biscuits for breakfast. They had some butter on them. They were really good. I made them myself out of some baking mix I bought at the store. I had some sausage with them. It was turkey sausage. I kind of like turkey sausage. It was a really good breakfast. I also had some orange juice. I like orange juice. I prefer the kind that doesn't have any pulp in it.

There's a restaurant that does really good breakfasts. It's called Cracker Barrel. We don't have one anywhere around here. I sure wish we did. I guess until we get one, I'll have to keep making my own biscuits. There's an image of doughnuts below because I didn't have an image of biscuits.