Friday, September 30, 2011

A Culinary Invention of Genius


There are many qualities a great fast food should have.  First, it should be fast -- you order it standing up and receive it before you get tired of standing.  It should be filling.  If at all possible, it should involve cheese.  It should be incredibly tasty in a very obvious way.  And it should leave you feeling pleasantly guilty at the self-indulgence of it all.

If it's served to you by a cheerful man wearing a hot-dog hat, well, that's just one step beyond perfection.

Those in the know can guess that I just had a Potato Tornado.  

The Potato Tornado is only available at HotDog Tommy's at the intersection of Jackson Street and Beach Avenue in Cape May, New Jersey.  In fact, now that the main tourist season is over, it's only available Fridays through Sundays from 10:57 a.m. to 5:01 p.m.  But, oh man, is it worth it.

The tornado was invented here and so far as I know, it's the first mashed-potato based junk food.  It starts with a cup of hot whipped mashed potatoes, topped with chili sauce, cheddar cheese, salsa, slivers of banana peppers and a blob of sour cream. 

Great stuff.  I feel guilty just thinking about it.

Right now there's only one place in the world you can have a Potato Tornado.  But someday somebody's going to steal the idea and make billions and billions off of it.  If it's you, don't forget to send me a Maserati in thanks.

Above:  Nudity and other serious topics will return when I return from vacation.  Right now I'm headed for the beach, clutching a book containing no socially redeeming value whatsoever.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dead Tropes of SF: The "Robes of Dignity"


I was on a panel at the SFWA tent at the Baltimore Book Festival last week when somebody asked for an example of a science fiction prediction that didn't pan out.

"The 'Robes of Dignity!," I cried.

Back in the late 60s and early 70s, a period roughly coterminous with the New Wave, a lot of specifically young and male writers predicted that, because the human body is a beautiful thing, in the future everybody would walk around totally naked.  {Subtext:  Thus allowing them, the writers, to see naked women.]  Then, when they reached age 40, they'd put on the Robes of Dignity, covering their bodies from neck to foot.  [Subtext:  And sparing them, the writers, from the sight of their parents' naked bodies.]

This was, I said, in essence an adolescent male fantasy.

"And one made up by adolescent boys who weren't spending any time with adolescent girls!" Brenda Clough added.  "Or they'd have noticed that adolescent girls spend every penny they can get hold of, buying new and novel things to wear."


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How I Suffer!


Dinner at the Lobster House in Cape May.  Actually, it wasn't at the Lobster House but on the schooner American moored to the dock behind it.  And it wasn't a proper dinner.  It was martinis with platter after platter of oysters Rockefeller and clams casino.

The uncreated conscience of my race will just have to wait unforged until I get back from vacation.

Above:  Marianne, also suffering.


Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 189


The end.

The long show is over at last.  I step to the front of the stage and bow.  Listening for . . . applause?


Monday, September 26, 2011



For a Philadelphian, where you go "down the Shore" says a lot about you.  If you're young, wild, and crazy, you to to Wildwood.  If you're the exact opposite, you go to Cape May -- Where Nothing Can Ever Happen, and Usually Doesn't.

Me, I go to Cape May Point.  That's for people who are too slow-lane for Cape May.  Nuns vacation here.  And nothing ever, ever happens.

So don't expect too much from this week's blogs.


Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 188


The half credit card was an old one which I dutifully destroyed.  That account no longer exists, so there's no point hiding the number.

The infectious waste sticker is a real one.  This is the sort of thing you pick up when you hang out with medical laboratory folk.

The photo I found on a hallway floor at a convention.  It was apparently part of a LARP.

You'll note that this is the inside cover of the notebook.  Only one more day to go!


Sunday, September 25, 2011

APPEARANCES -- Sunday Update


I've added the newly-arranged weekend events at David Hartwell's Dragon Press Bookstore, as detailed above, to the listing.  Also two conventions I'll be attending in the coming months.  I'm really getting about these days.  That's atypical for me.

I'm only going to Capclave on Saturday and Sunday, but it's a full three-day con.  Thought I should mention that.

October 8-9:  Dragon Press Bookstore (appearance & reading, etc.)
                      Westport, NY

October 15-16:  Capclave
                          Gaithersburg, MD

November 10    Wold Newton Reading Extravaganza (reading)
                                 The Way Station

November 18-20:   SFContario 2

And in 2012 . . .

Aug. 31- Sept. 2   Chicon 7

Above:  Handbill brilliantly rendered by the immortal Jason Van Hollander.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A River Runs Through It


Normally I don't blog on Saturdays.  But I thought I'd put in a plug for the Baltimore Book Festival.  If you're local and were thinking of going but were put off by the torrential rains, you should give it another thought.

Yeah, there weren't a lot of festival-goers, which (forgive me) put a damper on things.  But there were some great deals on books.  I picked up Volume 1 of Alan Ginsburg's collected poems, a book for a friend, and a glossy art hardback on the Wyeths for three bucks apiece.  Then I went over to the Daedalus tent and bought a book on the Great Wall of China for five bucks and the three-DVD documentary on Monty Python for ten.  And I only put twenty minutes or so into browsing!

The Baltimore Science Fiction Society had a tent full of used SF.  There were musicians and poets on the stages.  And everyone I talked to was as friendly as can be.

Mostly I spent my time at the SFWA tent.  We had panels and readings and raffles for free books.  (Your chances for free books go WAY up when the crowd is so small.)  Writers gave advice on how to get published and how to build a career.  And everybody was knowledgable, helpful, and astonishingly upbeat considering how soaked-through we all were.

It was one of those times when I felt proud of my tribe.

Catherine Asaro ran the tent and was smiling and cheerful throughout.  Even though a stream ran right through the tent and over her shoes.  That's her -- half of her anyway -- up above, in serious danger of being electrocuted by the (unseen) microphone.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 187


I had to cover over the return address on the remarkably of-its-time envelope from a young, second-generation friend.  I particularly like her annotations:  Not a Hello Kitty This one has a mouth and This is what a Hello Kitty skull looks like!

The Corona thingie was a promotional temporary tattoo.

And the Jurihayasaka card was a public handout from an artist whose work I thought striking.


I Just Can't Stay at Home!


Today I get up early and drive down to Baltimore not because it'll promote Dancing With Bears -- the window for promoting a hardcover is either three or four months; which is to say it's closed.  Not because it'll support SFWA -- it's a non-profit dues-fueled professsional organization and doesn't need the support.  Not  to support Catherine Asaro -- she's running herself ragged organizing this thing, and so far as I can tell there's nothing in it for her.  (But if there were something in it for her, I'd be there.  She's one of the good guys.)  And not even to support Baltimore -- which is one of the great underrated cities in this nation. 

No.  I'm doing it to support literature.  Which includes all the books you read for pleasure, whether the nobs like 'em or not.

Third only to human beings and nature, there is no better cause.

And speaking of the photo above . . .

You know you've got a problem if these things look like a good idea to you.

Above:  I saw these gas mask bongs hanging in the doorway of a head shop in the Village.  Bad judgment is timeless.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

I Just Can't Stay Off the Road . . .


As predicted, the event at the KGB Bar was a big success.  Andy Duncan (above) knocked everybody dead with his reading of "Close Encounters," an original novelette which will appear in his new collection (forthcoming from PS Publishing next year), The Pottawatomie Giant and Other Stories.  It was a killer story made even better by that beautiful Southern accent of Andy's.  Seriously, somebody's got to issue a spken-word collection of his best stories -- all read by Andy.  The man's good.

Which is what I said when I got up to read:  "Andy is a tough act to follow -- but I can do it!"  Then I ripped into "The Woman Who Shook the World-Tree," (not officially sold yet, but I've got a handshake agreement with  It's a great reading-story because it's short, it's emotional, and it's a love story.  Hard to go wrong with that.

Best of all, the two stories were so very different they weren't in competition with each other.  It was apples and taxicabs.  Mathematics and orange juice.  Summer wine and Martian nights.  If you enjoy readings at all, you're sorry you weren't there.

Also I got to see Andy and several old friends, so I had a great time.

And today is atypical because . . .

I plan to spend most of today just writing.  Working on the Novel, having fun.

But tomorrow, it's back to the promotional grind.  Tomorrow and Saturday I'll be at the Baltimore Book Festival.  Here's my personal schedule, all at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America space, E24-25:

Friday, September 23

Reading: Michael Swanwick
Acclaimed science fiction author Michael Swanwick will read from his works and talk about his science fiction and fantasy.

Group Signing, Chat & Raffles
Join authors Rosemary Edghill, Toby Devens, John Maclay, Michael Swanwick, Michael Sullivan, and Cindy Young-Turner to chat, have your books autographed, and win prizes.

Publishing as a Professional Writer in Speculative Fiction
Panelists Michael Swanwick, Catherine Asaro, and Toby Devens offer tips and answer questions about how to get started in genre fiction and conduct a successful career.

Saturday, September 24

1984--Are We There Yet?
Panelists Brenda Clough, Don Sakers, Alan Zendell, and Michael Swanwick discuss the social and political themes in science fiction, as in the tradition of the novel 1984. Science fiction offers a unique vehicle for examining the consequences of various political and sociolical phenomena by extrapolating them into the future. Just how provocative can you make such ideas? Is it ever too much? Come share your thoughts and ideas with our panelists.

And then I go home and lie down in a dark room with a damp cloth over my swollen head.

You can find the complete SFWA schedule for the Baltimore Book Festival here.  Or you can check out the schedule for the entire bookfest here.  Nice clean graphical design, by the way.


Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 186


Talent is okay, but denial is critical.
                     -- Charles Barsotti

Einmal ist keinmal.
                      -- German proverb

Charles Barsotti is the cartoonist who drew the late and sadly missed Sally Bananas strip.  The German proverb translates crudely as "Once is never" or "One time is no time."  The wit dissolves in translation.

And the URL is for a site where fannish cartoonist Alexis Gilliland has very generously posted hundreds and hundreds of his cartoons.  My favorite is the bureaucrat sitting at his desk upon which is a small box.  "This box of gravity-proof material contains a micro-miniature black hole," he says.  Then, smirking in rather a mean way, "Doubters open it every time."

Terrific stuff.  Click here to see 'em.

I'm quite proud of the Muppet Planet.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

No Blog Today . . . You'll Find Me in the Bar


It's only a hop, skip, and a jump from Philadelphia to New York City ...  but it's a hundred mile hop, skip, and a jump.  So I'm a little busy at the moment getting ready for my reading tonight at the KGB Bar, and don't have the time to do a proper blog post.  For which, my apologies.

The bar is, as you can see from the photo above, a bit of a dive.  But it's a famous, literary dive.  When I was in Russia, the local fans made jokes about my then-forthcoming reading there.  I mentioned this reading to a friend in Britain and she waxed nostalgic about going to literary events there.

I don't need to hype this reading because the series always packs a full house.  Plus, Andy Duncan's going to be there too, and between us we're a goodly percentage of the best readers in science fiction.  ("No brag, just fact," as Old Man Sonnett used to say.)  So this ought to be a splendid evening.

But if you're in the area and you've never tried the Fantastic Fiction at KGB series, why not do yourself a favor and pop by?  Seven o'clock tonight at 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs).  Astonishingly enough, it's free.


Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 185


Notes of things to do, a cryptic number, and a promotional flyer for Gregory Frost's Lord Tophet, the second (and concluding) volume of his magnificent Shadowbridge.  Let's all hope Greg writes more Shadowbridge novels soon.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pwnded By the Future

Don't get me wrong.  I think the world of Corning Glass.  Those guys are really rocking the material.  Some forty years ago, I took the tour of their headquarters in Corning, New York, and was blown away by all the amazing things they can do with glass.  And, obviously, their research people have been working full-tilt boogie ever since.

But . . .

Imagine a world where you're never out of reach.  Where your boss can communicate with you while you're in the bathroom, brushing your teeth.  Where your mother-in-law can track your parenting skills in real time.  Where advertising videos show you primping like a whore.  Where television screens turn on the instant you awake and are never out of your sight for a single moment in your waking hours.  Where all the universe is trivialized and made your sedative.

Sounds like today, you say?  Not yet.

But soon.

Above: A Day Made of Glass. Coming soon to a reality near you.


Scribbedehobbledehoydenii: The Magpie's Eye: Page 184


Mostly just a list of things that needed to be done.  I censored a telephone number -- for who or what, I have no idea.

The UR at the bottom was for a game demo which for some reason I wanted to try out.  It was supposed to be posted soon.  I checked recently and it never materialized.

The URL at the top, though, for a list of predictions made in 1900 for the year 2000 is still functional, and the list is pretty interesting.  Some of the predictions were duds:  We still use the letter X, peas are not as large as beets, and motor traffic has not been banned from the streets of our major cities.  Others, though, were spot-on.  And at least one -- that the average American's life span would increase almost fifty percent to fifty years -- was far too modest.


Monday, September 19, 2011

A Bad Idea (With Step-By-Step Instructions)


1.  Visit your local Penzey's Spices store.

2.  Pick up one of their FREE bumper stickers.

3.  Assemble your tools:  Cutting board, scissors, and Sharpie pen (black).

4.  Cut up the bumper sticker as shown.  Throw away the superfluous parts.

5.  With your Sharpie, change the period to a question mark.

6.  Affix the top half of your modded sticker to your car's bumper.

7.  And now the bottom half.

8.  Seek help immediately.  No rational person would do something like this.  There's probably something wrong with you.

And I'll be making appearances in TWO cities this week . . .

Here's the nitty-gritty:

Wednesday, September 21

FANTASTIC FICTION at KGB reading series.  – Michael Swanwick & Andy Duncan
Andy Duncan is one of the great readers in science fiction, so this should be great.
85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave)
New York, NY 10003

Baltimore Book Festival:  All Events at the SFWA Booth (I believe)

Friday, September 23

3:00-3:30 pm Reading: Michael Swanwick

Acclaimed science fiction author Michael Swanwick will read from his works and talk about his science fiction and fantasy.

4:00 pm. Group signing, chat, raffles

Join authors Rosemary Edgehill, Toby Devens, John Maclay, Michael Swanwick, Michael Sullivan, and Cindy Young-Turner to chat, have your books autographed, and win prizes.

6:00 pm Publishing as a professional writer in speculative fiction

Panelists Michael Swanwick, Catherine Asaro, and Toby Devens offer tips and answer questions about how to get started in genre fiction and conduct a successful career.

Saturday, September 24

2:00 pm 1984--Are we there yet?

Panelists Brenda Clough, Don Sakers, Alan Zendell, and Michael Swanwick discuss the social and political themes in science fiction, as in the tradition of the novel "1984" Science fiction offers a unique vehicle for examining the consequences of various political and sociolical phenomena by extrapolating them into the future.  Just how provocative can you make such ideas?  Is it ever too much? Come share your thoughts and ideas with our panelists.

Above:  Kids, don't do this at home!  Or anywhere else for that matter.


Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 183


Another collage.  I rather like this one.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

SA Saturday Non-Blog


I got up this morning to discover a robotic killer-hunter predator at my back door.  Then I went out to see some Fringe theater and bought a fedora at a flea market.

Life is good.


Friday, September 16, 2011



It's astonishing the stuff you can find, once you start looking for it.  It was only a few years ago that the first feathered dinosaur fossils -- other than Archaeopteryx, of course -- were found.  I remember that clearly, because I was researching my dinosaur novel Bones of the Earth when the fossils first came out of China.  Now Ryan C. McKellar, Brian D. E. Chatterton, Alexander P. Wolfe, and (one almost adds “of course”) Philip J. Currie have published a paper in Science stating that they have found an assemblage of dino and bird feathers in Canadian late Cretaceous amber.

That leaves us a long, long way from the late Michael Crichton's dream of resurrecting dinosaurs from their DNA and then letting them escape into the suburbs where they can eat our children, of course.  But it's a start.

You can read the paper's abstract here.  Or you can read a good summary article (with lots of pix!) here.

And I'm back in print again . . .

Or, rather, still in print but in a different format.  Anyway, I just received a copy of the trade paperback of The Dragons of Babel in the mail.  Even in the cheap scan to the right, it looks good.  That's because of the Stephen Martiniere cover.

Note also that they put the blurb from Michael Moorcock on the front.  That's the guy who wrote Gloriana, the Dancers at the End of Time trilogy and the Elric books.  To say nothing of his work as editor of New Worlds or . . . well, if you get me started, we'll be here all day.  In brief, he's a man whose good opinion is worth having.  So you can imagine how happy I am to have it.


Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 182


Jeff Ford it
says and then (crossed out) write the hardest story you know how.  

I can only speculate that this is some piece of writing advice I heard from Jeff, that I was going to try it myself, and then that I decided that this was what I do pretty much every time anyway.

Mysterious Benedicts Society (YA -- recommended by Peggy Rae)

Then a shopping list.

Then a picture clipped from an alternate art magazine, with a post office sticker on it, simply so I'd have made a change on it.  No improvement, really.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

People Vote For Washing Machines


Some years ago, in China, I was met at the airport by a man who was taking me to a speaking engagement.  In the parking lot, before unlocking his new and meticulously cared-for automobile, he placed a hand on its roof and said with quiet pride, "This is my car."

In that instant, I saw two things:

First, that my contact had earned that car with his own honest labor and had good reason to be proud of his accomplishment.

And second, that any hopes we may have of solving the energy crisis that involve China or any of the poor countries of the Earth voluntarily curbing their desires for American/European levels of prosperity are nothing but pipe dreams.

I've been thinking about that moment ever since.  In the video above, Hans Rosling expands quite movingly on this same basic insight.


Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 181


I would like to apologize to George W. Bush. 

This was a rather obvious notion for an essay in which I would say he was right about the WMD's, right about the Iraq war not costing us a penny, and so on and on -- and then at the end say, But I can't.  Because he was wrong on all counts.

I didn't write it, though, because it immediately revealed itself to be mean-spirited.  It would have been a depressing exercise.

I honestly wish he'd been right on all counts.  I would have been happy to apologize for real.

Down at the bottom is an old photo for A. I. Poland Jewelers in Manayunk, down the hill from me.  Alas, Poland's closed recently after something like ninety years in the hood.  Visiting it was sort of a combination of going back in time and visiting the cave of Ali Baba's thieves.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Diamond As Big As Our Dreams


I played hooky today.  I went to Chestnut Hill with Marianne and had lunch on the front porch of the Chestnut Grill.  Then I went to Big Blue Marble and browsed through the books with no specific intentions at all.  Nothing I wanted to buy for research.  Nothing I had to read to keep up with the field.  I just bought something for pleasure.

So, all in all, it was a day well and pleasantly wasted.

Okay, yes, I did take the experiment that physicist John Cramer kindly provided me and fit it into what I believe is now the absolute final draft of "The Woman Who Shook the World Tree."  But that was fun, so it hardly counts.

And speaking of the poetry of science . . .

If you haven't heard this already, you really need to know about it.  Scientists have discovered a new planet.  Made entirely out of diamond.  F. Scott Fitzgerald's fantasy ain't even in the running.

Check it out here.

Above: What a pleasant place and way/Where and how to waste one's day!


Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 180


This is how we appear
to the unsentimental eye of God.
I doubt our interiors
are any better.

This was torn from a Taschen Books catalog.  As I said before, their art books are wonderful and their smut books purely a matter of taste.  This one was a photo book of working class swingers and I can't help but suspect they're being presented for our scorn rather than admiration.

Nevertheless I have to admire this pair's willingness to publicly display normal human bodies.  That hideous smiley-face is a device Taschen uses to keep their catalog clean and make readers more anxious to buy the uncensored book.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The End of the Heptology


I've posted the seventh and last excerpt from my conversation with James Patrick Kelly at Renovation.  This one is titled A Quiet Place to Work While God Finishes Eating Our Brains.  In it, we discuss what we expect to accomplish in what remains of our careers.

Oh, and speaking of Dragonstairs . . . 

I am not going to be overblogging Marianne's Dragonstairs Press because that would make her enterprise look like a subset of my own.  However I thought I should mention that A Midwinter's Tale is sold out, and that she only has four complete sets of the Darger & Surplus chapbooks left.  This is one of the advantages of being a nano-press -- you don't have to devote a lot of space to storing the inventory.

I just wanted to let those who moved fast to buy the items they wanted know that their alacrity was not wasted.


Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 179


Darkness to Darkness:

Does everybody here know what this is?  It's quite possible some don't.  Back in the day, children, we took snapshots of Mastodons and giant sloths using film cameras and then nailed the film (along with a check) to the processing lab.  Then, mere weeks later, back they came in the form of photographs.  And we thought this was an impressive piece of technology!  Honestly.  We did.


Monday, September 12, 2011

The Last Mystery


For almost thirty years, linoleum tiles have appeared in the streets of Philadelphia, reading:


Anybody seeing them had to wonder what they meant and who was behind them.  It was one of those small mysteries you always wondered about and knew that nobody would ever resolve for you.

Until now.

I saw Resurrect Dead, Jon Foy's documentary of gentle obsession yesterday.  It details the dogged, decade-long investigation of three young men to get to the root of this admittedly small mystery.  And it was a hoot and a delight.

Two things struck me about the movie:  First, that although Foy probably doesn't realize it, the movie is all about fandoms.  The community that forms around the mystery of the Toynbee tiles is one -- self-organizing, self-funding, and perfectly serious about a subject most other people don't give a second thought to.  And the material that ultimately solves the mystery comes from the Citizens Band community, another fandom which, though they're way skeptical about the whole project, recognize the obsession as being essentially benign.

And second, that while most of the movie is simply straightforward harmless fun, the ending, when the investigators decide they have learned enough and draw away from going any further, was both moving and profound.  It touches on the limits of understanding and the limits that morality place upon our actions.  So, ultimately, Resurrect Dead speaks to our times.

It also solves the last mystery left in an increasingly understood world.

Until the next mystery, of course.

And I saw a play . . .

It's over now, but Lady M. was one fabulous piece of theater.  It had its weaknesses, as any work that merges one of Shakespeare's best plays with added material must -- the new dialogue rarely lives up to Will's best.  But in the title role of Lady MacBeth, Catharine Slusar was just flat-out wonderful. I'd love to see her reprise the role in MacBeth.  But I'd be equally happy to see her in Lady M. again.

And I was mini-interviewed . . .

You can find a mini-interview of me (done as part of the publicity for my appearance last Saturday at The Spiral Bookcase) over at WHYY's online zine newsworks.  Reporter Jimmy Viola made it easy for me by doing his research first and then asking interesting questions.  You'd be amazed how rare that is.

You can find the interview here.


Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 178


Another collage, this one of images from Goya's Los Caprichos, and, I think, a Chris Van Allsburg book.   Not a very accomplished collage, but how far wrong can you go when the ingredients are that good.


Friday, September 9, 2011

The Cyberpunk-Humanist Wars


Whoops!  I put this post together to throw online yesterday, while I was on the road, and failed to do so. Oh well.  I'll just what I had planned for today on Monday.

Meanwhile . . . I've posted another excerpt of my conversation with James Patrick Kelly over on YouTube.  This one deals with "The Cyberpunk-Humanist Wars."  That's it up above.


And just to keep things from getting too sercon . . .

("Sercon," incidentally, is old fannish slang for "serious and constructive" -- usually used to imply that the situation could use a bit more frivolity.)

Here's a video from maybe sixty years ago, predicting what fashions would be like in the year 2000.  It's easy to make fun of how ludicrously wrong most of their guesses were.  What's interesting is what they got right:  the mesh blouse, the woman wearing a version of slacks rather than skirts, and the portable telephone.  It's quite a bit bigger than the one I carry around today -- but a lot smaller than the first mobile phones were.

Enjoy this one as well.

And another quick reminder . . .

Despite the rain, I'm hoping for a good turnout at The Spiral Bookcase this Saturday.  The reading/signing/schmoozing is scheduled for three to five p.m.  I think it'll be fun.

If you're in the area, why not drop by and say hi?

Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 177


I'm not going to bother transcribing this.  It's just a list of Christmas presents we'd bought for family and friends.  This would have been compiled at the end of the previous year.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 176


1.  "One Sentence Story:  One: ______________"

I am a misshapen thing, perhaps, all yearning and embarrassed silence, but here I am nevertheless, as strong as an ox, as smart as the next man, and waiting for you, who said such terrible things about me, in your closet.


The day that Santa died, there were riots in Djakarta, the Premiere of Canada called for calm, and all of China (where all his toys were made) fell into mourning; but Gideon Elf, his designated successor,

This would be the original, of which yesterday's version was the successor.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Dragonstairs Press is Off and Running!


Dragonstairs Press (owned and operated by Marianne Porter) is now offering its first publications for sale.  At the moment, five items are available for purchase:  Four of them are the mini-chapbook adventures of Darger & Surplus which were published in a limited edition of100 signed-and-numbered copies each, most of which I gave away as promotions for my novel Dancing With Bears over the past four months.  There's also the chapbook reprint of A Midwinter's Tale, issued in an edition of approximately fifty, most of which were sent to friends as Christmas cards.

Part of Dragonstairs' business plan is to start small and very limited, so I don't think the remaining copies will last long.

But Marianne has bigger plans on the horizon!  Working with talented local artist Adam Cusack, she's currently putting together Sam the Asteroid:  One Swell Children's Story.   The working blurb for which is:

Black Humor For Small Children!

I wrote this story for my son Sean over a quarter-century ago and read it to him while he was sitting on my knee.  At the end, he laughed and laughed.  So the humor is appropriate for at least one child.

You can find the Dragonstairs Press website here.

And while I'm away . . .

I'm on the road again!  But I'll be back in time for my Saturday appearance at The Spiral Bookcase, 110 Cotton Street, Philadelphia, just off of Main Street in Manayunk.  Three to five p.m.  It ought to be great fun.

So if you have the opportunity to miss it . . . by all means don't.

Above:  A sample page from Sam the Asteroid.  Pretty cool, eh?


Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 175


The day Santa died, there were riots in Djakarta and Khartoum, the Premiere of Cambodia called for calm, and all of China, where the great bulk of his toys were made, fell into mourning; but Gideon Elf, his surrogate and successor, sent a reassuring message.

Another story I decided not to write.  Nobody likes to think about it, but the Big Guy Up North can't possibly last forever.  We should be making preparations now for how to deal with that sad event.

That's not a bad likeness of Gideon Elf.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Flaming Mechanical Octopus of Truth


What would contemporary art look like if there were no grand tradition, no art schools and universities, no peer-reviewed journals and experts and collectors and critical papers?  With no one to tell you whether you'd gotten it right or wrong?  With nothing but the artist, the art, and the viewer?

Probably it would look a lot like this.

And don't forget . . .

I'll be making an appearance/reading/signing at The Spiral Bookcase in Manayunk this Saturday.  I expect to have a good time.  And it would be a great opportunity for you to discover a terrific new bookstore.

Because, let's face it, you don't own enough books.

Above:  A clip made when Duane Flatmo was building his wonderful Pulpo Mecanico.  Don't you desperately want the small, hand-cranked version?

Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 174


Basically, things to do:

Small dog for Ms. Software

Mac Mall or PC Mall

Xerox SFWA Directory for Kyle

That would have been to help Kyle Cassidy contact specific writers for his Where I Write project.

Gargar photograph

Our local nickname for Gardner Dozois there, derived from a story one of his friends wrote which featured him as Gargar the Barbarian.  I am not making this up.

URL Chowhound to Tom

And then some computer peripheral info.


Monday, September 5, 2011

The Devil's Toothpick


An image came into my head the other day of the Devil -- and since all such images enter the mind from the same place, you know it must be true.  He was picking his teeth with a splinter of the True Cross, and when he was done with it, he just threw the thing away.

You might think that unnecessarily wasteful, but there are a lot of pieces of the True Cross out in the world.  They proliferated in medieval times to such a degree that somebody estimated that, reassembled, there'd be enough wood to build a barn.  The nun who taught my second grade class had a sliver of it in crucifix-reliquary she kept around her neck.

So the Devil could be as profligate as he wanted, knowing that every year more pieces of the True Cross would appear than even he could desecrate and throw away.

The Devil is an atheist, of course.  So it makes no difference to him whether the slivers of the True Cross are counterfeit or not.

And I just read some sad news . . . 

William H. Patterson, Jr. , the author of Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century, suffered an attack of Diabetic Keoacidosis while (if I interpret this correctly) at Renovation.  He was hospitalized upon returning home and underwent a transmetatarsal foot amputation.

This was particularly shocking to me because I had a very pleasant conversation with Patterson at the Worldcon.  When I observed how old-fashioned Heinlein came to seem, he said, "Heinlein was always a throwback to an earlier age, even in his youth.  He was a Teddy Roosevelt republican."  Which was a good and true and insightful thing to hear.  It was the kind of conversation one goes to these conventions to have.

Book 1 of Patterson's biography lost a Hugo to Chicks Dig Time Lords this year.  He'll have a second chance at the brass ring in a year or so when the second half of the biography comes out.  Assuming it's as good as the first half, you should give it serious consideration when it comes onto the Hugo ballot.

You can find Patterson's blog here.  In typical writer fashion, he appears to feel that the big news was losing a Hugo.

And only five days away . . .

I'll be appearing at The Spiral Bookcase (112 Cotton Street, Philadelphia; right off of Main Street in Manayunk) this Saturday, from 3 to 5 p.m.

If you follow this blog, you know that I do a lot of readings and autographings and bookstore appearances.  But his one is important to me.  Why?  Because The Spiral Bookcase is a neighborhood bookstore.  It sells both new and used books.  And I very much want it to be a success and stay in the neighborhood well into my old age.

So if it's at all possible, why not drop by?  Show the flag.  Have a good time and maybe buy a book or three.  Manayunk is a lot of fun on a Saturday afternoon.

And did I mention that it has a bookstore?


Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 173


A brochure for a local theater company whose work I have inexplicably never seen.  This was a reminder to correct that omission.  But then things got busy again.  This year for sure!


Friday, September 2, 2011

Writers Are Hurt Into Being


This is the second excerpt from my Worldcon conversation with James Patrick Kelly.  In it, we discuss the origins of art in pain and for the first time I publicly talk about the event that drove me into becoming a writer.  It's been something like forty-five years, so it was about time.  But it was still extremely difficult for me.  More difficult, probably, than you, reading this, can realize.

The link to YouTube is here.

And on a lighter note . . .

Here's a quote (ellipsis mine) I recently found in an article in the New Yorker:

The collapse of the World Trade Center towers, nearly ten years ago, registered as minor earthquakes (with magnitudes of 2.2 and 2.4) on a seismometer locked in a former root celler . . . in Palisades, New York.  A blown-up seismogram of hte impacts from that morning now hangs on a wall of Thomas Lamont's onetime swimming pool, which has been converted into a kind of seismological museum, beneath the cafeteria at Columbia's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

Wow.  Doesn't that sound exactly like J. G. Ballard?  Another case of life imitating art.


Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 172


Various cards I wanted to save.  I believe the top one is artwork by Judith Clute.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

"What Have We Learned?"


I've uploaded onto YouTube the first of what I expect will be several excerpts from my public conversation with James Patrick Kelly at Renovation, this year's Worldcon in Reno, Nevada.  It's titled "What Have We Learned?" and that's it up above.


I'd have more to say but this morning I brought a cup of coffee up to my office, spilled a thimbleful over my keyboard, and lost the letters c, i, and o.  So a lot of my day went into getting a new keyboard.  Not that I'm complaining.  I know people who have real problems.


Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 171


A bread-and-butter note from the illustrious Gordon Van Gelder.  Feeling too lazy to file it, I pasted it into the notebook.