Friday, January 31, 2014

Sappho and Me


Terrific news today.  Two previously unknown poems by Sappho have been discovered, one of them said to be virtually complete!  This is a big deal because almost none of the great poet's work survived into modern times.  We only know that Sappho was a great poet, in fact, because the ancients said so.

I have a collection assembled by Anne Carson titled If Not, Winter, assembling every word of Sappho that survives.  It begins with the famous "Hymn to Aphrodite" (also known as Fragment 1), which as of 2002 was the only complete poem, and then quickly turns fragmentary.  Fragment 32, for example, in its entirety, is:

who honored me
by giving their works

while 67B is:


Maddening.  So I made my own small corrective in Dancing With Bears.  In it, Aubrey Darger, confidence artist extraordinaire has found Ivan the Terrible's library, which I imagined as being stuffed with every lost book of antiquity we most wish had survived.  Here, he is interrupted in his reading by a young colleague:

Darger picked up his book, adjusted the oil lamp, and said, “Listen to this:

                        “Summer will be ours, if you but say you love me,
                         Night-hawks flitting under the stars
                         And jasmine perfuming your skin.
                         If not, winter.  And I –”

“I don’t see why I had to pay them so much.  They didn’t do nothing but put up a bunch of posters, and keep an eye out for the goats.  I did all the fucking work.”

With a sigh, Darger shut his book again.  “Admittedly, my paraphrase from Sappho’s impeccable Greek was a touch rough.  But you had the opportunity to hear a poem that was long believed to be lost forever, and you brushed it aside simply to whinge that your comrades weren’t pulling their weight.”

If only Darger hadn't been interrupted!  But let's be honest.  Even though I could fake up the poem-opening, constructed from the same fragment that gave Carson the title of her book, there was no way I could create even a rough English-language paraphrase of a great lost poem.

Still, for just an instant, there was a hint, a suggestion, a hopeful dream of something  I could never have brought into existence myself.  I'm rather proud of that.


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Even Better Than The Bagger 287


Because your day needs to be more demented.  Everybody!  Let's sing:

Any person who gets in its way is soon to be de-meated
Beelzebub himself now fears the Bagger 288!
If you'd rather watch it on Youtube, click here.

Above:  Yes, Virginia, there really is a Bagger 288.  Every earth sciences textbook in the world has a picture of it somewhere.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Me, Interviewed


I've been interviewed by R. K. Troughton over at the Amazing Stories website.   The interview includes my explanation of how I came to create Darger and Surplus, why I decided to write science fiction, thumbnail sketches of Gardner Dozois, William Gibson, and Gene Wolfe, my plans for the Mongolian Wizard stories, how I plan to spend my old age, and much more.

Here's a snippet, from my discussion of the (rather dreadful) first story I ever wrote, something titled "The Theoretical Man":

One amusing bit of trivia about that first story is that it contained the line, “The sky was a cathode-tube grey.” As a result, though I greatly admire everything else William Gibson has ever published, I was never very impressed by the famous first line of Neuromancer, “The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.” It sounded too much like something I’d written.

You can read the interview here.  Or just go to the Amazing Stories site here and poke around.  There's lots of good stuff there, including a  recent interview with Michael Moorcock that makes me feel like a slacker.

Above:  That's me.  With a koala.  Author photos are pretty dreary things, really.  But there's a koala for you to look at, so that's okay.


Monday, January 27, 2014

Heinlein Concluded


I'll have to confess that the only time I ever encountered Robert A. Heinlein -- I stood in line to get his autograph for a friend -- I wasn't greatly impressed.  Oh, I acknowledged his importance to science fiction and the virtue of most of his books.  But he held himself like a man who was posing for his own statue.  And his guest of honor speech at MidAmeriCon (the 1976 World Science Fiction Convention) was rambling, seemingly made up on the spot from whatever thoughts chanced to enter his head, and climaxed with the observation that "We will always have wars," presented as being something we should all be grateful for.

Not an easy guy to like.

So I was pleasantly surprised when I read the first volume of William H. Patterson Jr.'s biography of the man and found myself favorably revising my opinion of Heinlein.  He seems to have deliberately pruned the documentation of his life to make himself out to be the kind of cardboard hero that was presented for emulation in biographies aimed at boys, back when he was young.  But wherever a glimpse survived of the real man, he was a much more attractive fellow.  He was generous to friends.  He put up with the young Ray Bradbury (who was apparently a very disruptive presence) because he thought the lad had potential.  Most endearingly, early in his career he let down his guard and wrote to a friend demanding to know why John W. Campbell wouldn't simply tell him what sort of story he wanted, so Heinlein could simply write it for him.

Most new writers have been there.  We can all feel his pain.

In yesterday's mail I received an Advanced Reading Copy of Robert A. Heinlein In Dialogue With His Century: Volume 2, 1948-1988: The Man Who Learned Better.  There was a rumor circulating among often-reliable people that the biography had ballooned to three volumes, so it's a relief to discover that this is the concluding volume.  Writers, musicians, and other artists are most interesting when they're struggling to find their voices and make their names.  Success is, to use the technical term, far less "plotty."  So I'm glad the chronicles of Heinlein's success can be contained in a single book.

Volume 2 opens with Heinlein's early struggles almost at an end.  He's selling to the Saturday Evening Post, his work is in high demand, and he's knee-deep in the creation of George Pal's science fiction movie Destination Moon.  All he needs is for a few of the checks to actually arrive and the hardscrabble phase of his career will be over.

That's as far as I've gotten, but it's really all you need to know.  Either you're going to buy this book or you're not.  You know in which camp you lie.

Robert A. Heinlein In Dialogue With His Century: Volume 2, 1948-1988: The Man Who Learned Better (which has to be in the running for longest title of the year) will be published in June by Tor Books

Friday, January 24, 2014

Mea Culpa?


Recently I received an angry email from one "jac," reading:

What do you think an introduction is for? I just started reading an interesting-looking collection of short stories by James tiptree Jr. As usual, I began at the very beginning, with the introduction, where Mr Swanwick proceeded to list the plot twists of the stories I was about to read. Why would anyone do that? A deliberate attempt to screw with me, the reader? A regrettable ignorance of the concept of a postscript, where you could safely discuss the book under the assumption the reader had finished it? Mistaken confidence that nobody would ever read his introduction anyway?

thanks, buddy. Way to go.
My first, unworthy reaction was to think "You were reading Tiptree for the plot twists?  Go back to O. Henry."

But that was, as I said, unworthy.  People read as they read and it's not my part to police them.

Did I really give away the plots?  I took a look at the intro (to Her Smoke Rose Up Forever, incidentally) and I don't think so.  I was certainly trying not to.  As an example, here's what I said about the first story, "The Last Flight of Dr. Ain":

What a knockout!  It’s told backwards, in a flat documentary voice, like the forensic recreation of a crime.  But who’s compiled this information?  To whom is it being reported?  Formally, this story is like Goya’s Los Caprichos etchings, whose figures exist in an uneasy grey zone that bears no identifiable relationship to background and horizon as we know them.  And it has a stinger in its tail, in the revelation that it is not Dr. C. Ain but his companion who is the true criminal, and that this is not her first offense.
Now, it's true that I put that letter C. in front of Dr. Ain's last name, which arguably gives away something of the plot.  But only because Tiptree once wrote that the hidden reference was essential to the story, that it seemed obvious to her, and that she was baffled that readers could have missed it (as pretty much all of us did).  But I was careful to phrase the rest of it in a way that gives away nothing that should come as a surprise.  It's obvious from early on that the story is being told backward, and obvious from the git-go that Dr. Ain is up to something horrific.  You can go into the story knowing that Dr. Ain's companion is the true criminal, but that tells you nothing until you learn who she is.

So, no.  My conscience is clean.

But let's say I'm wrong and that my introduction gives away everything about the stories.  Then the worst I can be accused of is spoiling one story. 

The rest were spoiled by the reader when he continued reading after the first set of spoilers.

And as always . . .

I'm on the road again.  But I'll be back here Monday.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

[dream diary]

January 23, 2014:  In the middle of a varied but mostly uninteresting dream -- though I did like the enormous bin full of life-sized tin R2-D2 toys, no two identical -- I uncorked a bottle of wine and it smelled terrible.  The tiniest of sips verified that it had gone bad.

This was interesting because I vividly remember both the smell and the taste.  Thus putting the lie to James Branch Cabell's belief that, short of white magic or drugs, nobody had ever experienced either taste or scent in a dream.


Monday, January 20, 2014

A Few Words About the Most Wonderful Writer in the World


R. A. Lafferty is back in print!  This is extremely good news because Lafferty was the single most original writer in science fiction.  He wasn't the smartest -- that crown would go to either Gene Wolfe or Samuel R. Delany.  Nor necessarily the "best" -- to Wolfe and Delany, here add Le Guin and Russ and maybe five or six others as contenders for that honor.  But he wrote stuff unlike anything anybody else ever wrote or will ever write again.  And he had ideas so brilliantly off the wall as to make the rest of us go, "Where the [bleep] did that come from?"

His best work was genuinely wonderful, in the old, unspoiled sense of that word.

Now Centipede Press is bringing out the complete short fiction of R. A. Lafferty, edited by John Pelan.  Volume 1, which arrived in the mail today, is The Man Who Made Models.  It contains seventeen stories, some of them among his best (mention "Narrow Valley" to someone who knows it and watch him or her smile), an afterword by Pelan and an introduction by, well, not to be coy about it, me.

The intro, "Eight Words from the Most Wonderful Writer in the World" sets down in print everything that I know about Lafferty.  It was a pain to write.  And I was thrilled to have the opportunity to offer up my suffering to God.

That's the good news.  The regrettable news is that the book is being issued in a limited edition of 300 and costs sixty dollars.  It's worth it, mind you!  And there should easily be three hundred people willing to shell out the money for it.  But you're not likely to be in a position to buy six or seven extra to give friends.  And I suspect that it's going to sell through fast.

I also suspect that this series is going to cost me a bundle by the time it's complete.

But, really, that's good news too.

You can find the table of contents (and buy a copy, if you wish) here.

And if you're unfamiliar with Lafferty . . .

The single best place to start is with a paperback short fiction collection called Nine Hundred Grandmothers.  Strange Doings and Does Anyone Else Have Something Further To Add? are almost as good.  And then you're on your own!  A word of caution, however:  While some of his novels are among my favorites, others are a strange sort of religious allegory that are definitely not to everybody's taste.  Luckily, most of those are small press publications and difficult to find.  Though I believe I have pretty damn near all of 'em.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Under Ben Bulben


I am home again and, as usual after such trips, weary as weary can be.  In such a mood, I tend to find myself reminiscing about past trips and today is no different.  My thoughts are filled with the journey Marianne and I made to Ireland in 1982.  All of Ireland is wonderful but the West was particularly so and many of of my best memories of that beautiful land arose there.

One cannot be of a literary bent and visit the West without going to Thoor Ballylee, the Norman keep that William Butler Yeats and his wife George rehabbed and made their home.  We did and then, later the same day I believe, looked up Yeats' grave in Drumcliff.  That's it pictured above.  The inscription came from the final lines of the final section of Yeats' poem "Under Ben Bulben."  The relevant lines of which are:

Under bare Ben Bulben's head
In Drumcliff churchyard Yeats is laid.
An ancestor was rector there
Long years ago, a church stands near,
By the road an ancient cross.
No marble, no conventional phrase;
On limestone quarried near the spot
By his command these words are cut:
Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!

The grave was small and simple.  There are many far grander in the same little cemetery.   There were no flowers laid upon it.  But -- such is the power of words! -- I was profoundly moved by it.  I lowered my head and closed my eyes and recited the epitaph from memory.

Then I stole a flower from another grave and laid it upon the Yeats's.  Poets must have their due.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

No Post Today

As always, I'm on the road again.  Uniquely, I'm helping Marianne settle her mother's affairs, following Mrs. Porter's death at age 103 last Saturday.  So there won't be a formal post here today.  Just this jot explaining why not.

I will note, however, that Mrs. Porter made this chore a lot easier by writing her own obituary beforehand and leaving instructions for what she wanted done (and not) at her memorial service.  Those of us who are getting on in years and love our children, might well take her example to heart.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Farewell to a Strong Lady


Marianne's mother, my mother-in-law, died last Saturday, at Strabane Woods, an assisted-living facility in Washington, PA.  Mary Ann Porter was 103.

That's her up above, on a Harley.

Mrs. Porter was one of six daughters (there were four brothers as well, one of whom died in childhood) born to immigrants.  All the Sisters -- that's how they were collectively referred to in the family -- were strong women.  But now only one, Evangeline, who was the baby of the family, remains.

Mary Ann Sinclair was a newspaperwoman for the Canonsburg Daily Notes, worked in Harrisburg at the creation of Social Security, and was for a time manager of the Hats and Hair Goods section of a local department store.  In 1939, she married a young lawyer named William Christian Porter.  During World War II, when he was in the Navy, they took an apartment in New York City, his home port, and she worked in retail again for the May Company.

When her husband died in 1988, Mrs. Porter expected to follow soon after.  But she did not.  Her friends grew old and died, so she made a new set of friends among the next generation.  Then her younger friends grew old and died.  "She's going to have a few firm words to say to God when her time finally comes," we used to joke in the family.

She was a devout Christian who was deeply involved in First Baptist Church of Washington,  a master quilter, and a woman with a lively sense of fun.  She was widely beloved.  Mrs. Porter lived by herself, without assistance, up until age 98, and the house was always impeccably neat and clean.  She was alert and aware up until the very end.  And her end was swift.

May God bless her and keep her.  I don't envy Him the conversation she's having with Him now.

Above:  Mrs. Porter wouldn't want anybody mislead.  That wasn't her Harley, it belonged to the church sexton, who can be seen behind her.  But when he gave her the opportunity to get her picture taken on his chopper, she jumped at the chance.


Friday, January 10, 2014

My Place in [the] Stars


I'm in audio-print again!  Well, almost.  Here's what Janis Ian had to say over on Facebook:

Just got an approval of the POD version of "Stars: The Anthology", edited by Mike Resnick and yours truly, with a new bonus story by Michael Swanwick. I worked with Lucky Bat Press on it and I have to say, they did an amazing job. Thanks, LBP!! The book, audio book, and e-book versions will be out later this month.

The story, I hasten to mention, is new to the anthology but has been published before.  What happened was that I was one of the writers Janis invited to contribute to Stars, her anthology of stories based on or inspired by her songs.  I immediately knew which song I wanted to use as a jumping-off point:  Mary's Eyes.  Here's the magic of art:  when she wrote the song, Janis didn't know she was writing about the Irish experience.  But she was, and the song breaks my heart every time I hear it.

So I began to write, "For I Have Lain Me Down on the Stone of Loneliness and I'll Not Be Back Again."  And a few pages in, after the scene where the protagonist meets Maire na Raghallach,  the plot stalled.  I had the beginning and I knew how it had to end . . . but not how to get from the one place to the other.

These things happen to writers on a regular basis.

I put the story aside and turned to other things.  The anthology was printed without my contribution and did well.  Autumn turned into winter and spring to summer.  Oaks sprouted from acorns, spread their branches across the sky, and were felled by great storms.  Continents drifted.  All the dinosaurs died.

One day, on my umpteenth assault upon the barren slopes of story, "The Stone of Loneliness" came to life in my hands.  I finished it and sold it to Asimov's, since Stars was not only published but long ago fallen out of print.

More time passed, during which the Mastodons may have died off (I wasn't paying close attention).  Then Janis got in touch with me to say that she was creating an audiobook version of the anthology, and would like to include my contribution as a sort of bonus for those who buy it.

This particular story is a personal favorite of mine, in part because it contains more autobiographical bits than anything else I've ever written, and I'll always be grateful to Janis for writing the song that inspired it.  Also I love the song.  Also she was doing the narration herself, shortly after winning an Emmy for the audiobook of her memoir, Society's Child, so it was going to be a very good audio version of the story.  Also, Janis is a pal.  And I really approve of the idea of giving people who buy your stuff something extra.  So of course I said yes.

The story contains fragments of a song that Mary sings, called "Deirdre's Lament."  In the course of checking the pronunciation of all difficult words (part of being an artist and perhaps the most necessary one is attention to detail), Janis asked if I'd mind if she put a tune to the song and sang it in the narration.

I let on that I supposed I could live with that.

Then Janis proposed to register her version of the song and give me a co-writing credit.  "Um..." I said.  "I didn't write it.  The original is a traditional Irish verse and the English version was written by Sir Samuel Ferguson."

But apparently the way these things work my copying the lyrics out of a Victorian collection of Irish verse counts, and that's how I came to share a writing credit with Janis Ian.

It's an astonishing world, sometimes.

And since I know you're curious about the title . . .

Rather than make you wait for Stars to come out, here's the explanation, taken from my own story:

The Stone of Loneliness was a fallen menhir or standing stone, something not at all uncommon throughout the British Isles.  They’d been reared by unknown people for reasons still not understood in Megalithic times, sometimes arranged in circles, and other times as solitary monuments.  There were faded cup-and-ring lines carved into what had been the stone’s upper end.  And it was broad enough that a grown man could lie  down on it [...] it was said to be a cure for homesickness.  So, during the Famine, emigrants would spend their last night atop it before leaving Ireland forever. 

Many years ago, I found the Stone of Loneliness by the entrance the the graveyard of an abandoned church in the West of Ireland.  It was a beautiful, blue-skyed day.  I lay down upon it.  

And I felt all the loneliness in the world flow into my body.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

And Even More Astonishingly . . .


As always, I'm on the road again.  But before I left this morning, an amazing package arrived in the mail.  It contained a pair of handsome Simon Pearse double helix champagne glasses, which an anonymous donor wished to be given to this year's winner of the Godless Atheist Christmas Card Competition.  For -- in the donor's words -- "effortlessness, wordlessness, and creative energies in displaying the void that is there, not there, and not not there."

I took the glasses into the back yard and took the above snapshot.  As you can see, these are really quite lovely champagne flutes.  And as soon as I get back home, they'll be repackaged and shipped to this year's winner -- my sister Mary.

Which means that for one brief, shining instant, the Godless Atheist Christmas Card Competition was not only one of the most prestigious competitions of its kind, but the only one to turn a profit for its winner.

This may well be a Christmas miracle.  Albeit a very odd one indeed.


Monday, January 6, 2014

And The Winner IS . . .


Some people get hysterical when they receive a Christmas card with a tasteful graphic of a glass ornament on the front and a bland HAPPY HOLIDAYS within.  Not I.  So many friends of the household have contrary opinions or difficult personalities that such cards aren't even on the radar.  Indeed, we receive so many Godless Atheist Christmas Cards that every year we have a competition for the Most Godless Atheist Christmas Card of the Year.

And the winner this year is . . .  (Drum roll, please) . . . my sister Mary!  Her card, shown above, beat out some genuine stunners this year, and well deserved to do so.  It rejects everything that is sacred about the Christmas season in favor of a secular Christmas -- and then rejects the secular Christmas as well!  All in a single bleak and nihilistic yet elegant image.  The Not At All Nepotistic Blue Ribbon Panel of Family saw this card and found themselves staring into the Abyss.

Well done, Mary!

This year's winner proves an important point, that you don't have to be Godless or an atheist to win the Godless Atheist Christmas Card Competition.  (I know my sister, and she is neither.)  You simply have to have a weird sense of humor.

And since I know your next question . . .

The card was made by Main Squeeze Press.  You can find their Etsy shop here.  It doesn't seem to be among their current offerings, but their current offerings are well worth a look.  And who knows?  If you write them, maybe they've still got a couple of cards left.


Friday, January 3, 2014

The 2013 Godless Atheist Christmas Card Competition Results


The results are in.  The Not At All Nepotistic Blue Ribbon Panel of Family has met in formal conclave and we have a winner of this year's GODLESS ATHEIST CHRISTMAS CARD COMPETITION.

And what a year this was!  For the first time, two family photos made it to the finals.  My sister Barbie submitted a deliberate evocation of Southern culture by posing her family in  and around a pickup truck.  When this first arrived, Marianne thought it almost perfectly nihilistic but not quite -- the pickup truck was red, which she found marginally "Christmasy."  That's how tough the competition was this year.  I, however, felt it fell short on two levels:  First, it didn't evoke any of the offensive stereotypes that outsiders impose upon the South.  (Other than the pickup truck, of course -- and how offensive is that?  Pickup trucks are cool.)  Second, it was obvious, to me at least, that these people all loved each other. 

This was not a problem with the other family card, submitted by our good friend Liz.  The picture was so heavily solarized that you'd have to know these people damn well to recognize them.  And they were all flashing gang signs.


Another contender, submitted by Beth and Mike was the photograph of a little boy standing in the snow with his tongue frozen to a metal flagpole.  So close!  Marianne and Sean, however, both felt that the picture having been taken from the movie version of Jean Shepard's  A Christmas Story and that movie being iconic, disqualified it.  I argued that the movie was the Devil's own creation but was outvoted.

From Russia came our friend Boris's e-card of a warm-looking room filled with presents, a Christmas tree -- and a short-skirted woman with great gams and the head of a horse.  This was an image so surrealistic in a nightmarish waay that I was sure it should go right to the top . . . but again I was overruled.  Marianne felt it was important to the purity of the competition that all cards be physical.  (And a good thing, too, because Boris later explained that it was a reference to 2014 being the Year of the Horse in China; the good humor behind that would probably have disqualified it anyway.)

We had reached an unspoken consensus on the winner when a last-minute entry arrived and threatened to run away with the honors.  Sean took part in a Secret Santa exchange for gamers and, along with his present (an oil painting of Cthulhu posing with a D12 die), received the card shown above and below from "your goon pal."  (Of course she was a Goon!  What else could she possibly have been?)

Was it a contender?  Just look at it!  Postmodern irony, the deliberate misspelling of "inoffensive," the in-your-face cheapness of using a sheet of lined three-hole paper for the card, a lower-case pseudonym... all topped by a promise of glitter with NO GLITTER!  I tell you, there were some fervent arguments in favor of this one.

For which reason, we must assign it Special Mention Woulda Won Any Other Year status.

Because in the end there could be only one.  And we all agreed that it was...



Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Your New Year's Martini Resolutions


The beginning of a new year is traditionally a time when one makes personal resolutions to improve one's situation or character.  Unhappily, in our hectic modern world all too many people simply lack the leisure needed to craft thoughtful resolutions.  Luckily, the American Martini Institute is here to help.

In the coming year, you resolve that . . .

1.  This year you will acknowledge at last that simply because something is served up in a martini glass does not make it a martini.  The other day, we were offered a "Peppermint Bark Martini," consisting of peppermint schnapps, Godiva White Chocolate liqueur, a dash of cream, and chocolate shavings.  This is, one imagines, a perfectly acceptable drink for non-diabetics.  But it has not a single ingredient in common with the noble martini.  Not one!  You might as well fill a beer stein with live frogs and serve it to friends as an India Pale Ale.  "Very hoppy," you might then say with a small, greasy smile.

2.  You will immediately cease referring to the vodkatini -- an adequate drink in its own right, we're sure -- as a vodka martini.  It is no such thing.  The martini is such a sensitive drink that merely substituting a pickled onion for the time-hallowed olive or lemon twist turns it into a Gibson.  Eschewing gin for an inferior tipple is not only a shocking lapse of taste but a logical fallacy as well.

3.  You will continue to form your own opinions as to which gins are best in your martinis,  Here, authoritative as the American Martini Institute is, we cannot guide you.  Personally, we feel that Boodles is unquestionably the right man for the job; that Bluecoat imparts a flowery quality that almost -- but not quite -- makes its martini an entirely new drink; and that Hendricks, though delicious, is best reserved for the gin and tonic, a drink in which it is unsurpassed.  But your mileage may vary.  People with the eminent good sense to drink a proper martini can be trusted to choose a proper gin for it.

4.  You will restrain your enthusiasm for fetishizing dryness.  (Yes, the Dadaists created a drink in which the gin was flavored by passing a bottle of vermouth through a ray of sunshine intersecting the glass, but that was a joke.  Anyway, said novelty drink is not a martini but an immaculate conception.)  Several times this year, upon ordering a very dry martini, we have been asked by the tappie, "Do you want vermouth in that or not?"  Of course we do.  Had we desired a glass of cold gin, we would have asked for one.  Or better yet, a shot of single malt.  Highland Park by preference, or possible Glenmorangie.

5.  Finally, you will refrain from snarking at the poor, benighted souls who fail to understand and appreciate the near-spiritual glory of the perfect cocktail commonly known as the martini.  That is the responsibility of the American Martini Institute.

This has been a public service announcement.  For your own good.

And coming soon . . .

The Not At All Nepotistic Blue Ribbon Panel of Family has been laboring long and hard over this year's Godless Atheist Christmas Card Competition.  And it's been a breathtaking year!

The results will appear here soon.

Above:  Courtesy of the American Martini Laboratory, a wholly owned subsidiary of the American Martini Institute, a drink consisting of five parts gin, one part vermouth, and a dead fish.  It is called, of course, the martuna.