Weekly Miscellany

It’s been another one of those weeks, sportsfans; all kinds of odd things going on, some of them personal and some of them in the larger world. Kind of hard to see which of them are more important in the big scheme o’ things, and not many of them worth a full blog-post.

1. So King Barry I did his state of the union address this week. Meh … I didn’t watch, although we did catch a few seconds of it while channel-surfing. Just enough time to wonder why on earth he appeared to be such a garish orange color … seriously, he looked like a giant Cheeto with ears. I gather the speech was the same paint by the numbers blah-blah-blah. It must not have gone over all that well with the partisans, because I distinctly heard an announcer or a guest on a certain classical music program make a crack about it; something about a certain classical music performer getting more applause than the state of the union address.

2. Gingrich or Romney, Romney or Gingrich. I am underwhelmed. The sniping between the partisans is unseemly. My one wistful desire is that it were possible to take elements of all the candidates and mold them into one single candidate: Gingrich’s fire and take-no-prisoners attitude, Romney’s skill at organization, Santorum’s constancy to principle, Perry’s experience as a governor … but it isn’t, so I’ll just have to deal with the easy decision of who to vote for in November. Anybody but King Barry, of course, but I might give the Dread Cthulhu a look-in.

3. Working all week on an editing job; a novelette supposed to be a horror story, but in actuality it was what I call secondary guy-porn. Primary guy porn is what you think it is, secondary guy porn has lots of loving detail about weapons and vehicles in it. Secondary fem-porn has lots of loving detail about clothes and accessories. Hey, it’s a living. And it’s not the worst project I’ve ever edited.

4. The second edition of the separate books of the Adelsverein Trilogy has been uploaded to Lightning Source, the proofs are approved, and it should be listed on Amazon and the usual suspects by the end of the week – and at a price of a couple of bucks cheaper than the first edition. I’d always winced, looking at the retail price, and winced again, whenever I had to purchase a bulk quantity at my author discount from Booklocker. Here’s hoping that the Trilogy chugs along just as steadily as Truckee does – both e-book and print versions … and the German translation sells like hot-cakes.

5. Sigh. We found another lost dog. And no, we’re not keeping this one, as we did with Connor. German shepherdish, youngish, fairly clean and well-mannered, unneutered male, bouncing around in the empty field back of St. Helena’s. He followed along with us, all the way home; did not take well to having a leash put on him, so we deduce that he was never taken for walkies. Of course no tags. He’s already listed on fido-finder, and tomorrow we’ll go through the usual rounds. The other two dogs are freaked out by this. The Weevil has taken over Connor’s bed, wedged underneath my desk, and Conner has had to take the Weevil’s bed, which I moved over next to my chair.

And that’s been my week – yours?

No Ship Named For Murtha

It appears that a great number of veterans and relatives of veterans are increasingly incensed at the news that the late Senator Murtha may have a new Navy ship named for him. The late senator was famed for nearly being nailed in the Abscam scandal, lo these many decades ago, for sucking down absolutely mind-boggling quantities of political pork for his district, and last but not least, pre-judging the Marines charged in the so-called Haditha incident.

Those veterans and relatives feel so strongly about this gross insult to military honor that they have opened a website, and a means of communication their displeasure to the Secretary of the Navy.
This is the website –

www.nomurthaship.com

Go, therefore, and do your duty, with regard to their petition. That is all.
(sorry, means of posting embedded links has gone the same way as the ability to post pictures.)

My Bubble?

How Thick Is Your Bubble?

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Score » 12 out of 20 (60% )
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On a scale from 0 to 20 points, where 20 signifies full engagement with mainstream American culture and 0 signifies deep cultural isolation within the new upper class bubble, you scored between 13 and 16.

In other words, you don’t even have a bubble.

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More here.

http://www.aei.org/article/society-and-culture/the-new-american-divide/

Turning Point

My daughter and I are watching and very much enjoying the period splendors of Downton Abbey, showing on the local PBS channel here over the last couple of weeks – just as much as my parents and I enjoyed Upstairs, Downstairs – the original version, yea these decades ago. Of course, the thrust of this season is the effects of WWI on the grand edifice of Edwardian society in general. The changes were shattering … they seemed so at the time, and even more in retrospect, to people who lived through the early 20th century in Western Europe, in Russia, the US and Canada. In reading 20th century genre novels, I noted once that one really didn’t see much changing in book set before and after WWII, save for the occasional mention of a war having been fought: people went to the movies, listened to the radio, drove cars, wore pretty much the same style of clothes … but in novels set before and after WWI, the small changes in details were legion.

England, France, Germany, Austria, Russia – they were the epicenter, seemingly – the place where it hit hardest, and afterwards nothing was ever the same. Of course, in Russia with the Red Revolution and all, things were quite definitely never the same, and Austria lost the last bits of empire … and the other nations were gutted of a whole generation of young men. In the American experience, the only thing which came close was the Civil War, where a single battle in Pennsylvania, or Virginia or Tennessee could be the means of casually extinguishing the lives of all the young men in a certain township or county… just gone, in a few days or hours of hot combat around a wheat field, a peach orchard, a sunken bend in a country road. The Western front (not to negate the war in the Italian Alps, at Gallipoli or the Germans and Russians) went on more or less at that horrendous rate, week in, week out – for years.

The marks of it are still horrifyingly visible, even though the numbers of living veterans of it can be about counted on the fingers of a pair of hands. Because it’s not only the survivors’ trauma – it’s the mark and void left by the fallen. So many that I remember a college textbook of mine – I think that it was a required sociology or statistics course – had the population breakdowns by age of various European countries. In all cases, there was a pronounced dip in the numbers of males who would have been of early adult age in 1914-1918. This is reflected again in the acres and acres of white crosses in Flanders, on the tight-packed lists of names carved on memorials large and small; not too much marked in the United States, but in the Commonwealth nations, and especially in Britain itself, that sense of loss must have seemed suffocating. Even low and middle-brow genre novels showed the scars that WWI left, especially if they were written by contemporaries to the conflict. Memoirs, histories, memorials and all… there was loss written large, by people who looked at the ‘before’ and then at the present ‘after’ with an aching sense of the void between, a muddy void into which friends, schoolmates, lovers, husbands, fathers, uncles, brothers and certain illusions had all vanished.

Nothing was the same, afterwards.

Although perhaps the war wasn’t directly the change agent, it pushed some developments already in the works farther along than they would have been. The war served as a handy delineating point for those who lived through it … electricity everywhere, motor cars ditto, airplanes as something more than a toy for enthusiasts, women voting and wearing short shirts and routinely forgoing corsets, half a dozen live-in servants in a big house which once had been staffed by three times that many … all that. The worst loss was something a little less concrete – and that was, I think, a certain sense of confidence and optimism. I like writing about the 19th century because of that very thing: generally people believed with their whole hearts and without a speck of cynicism, that the conditions of their lives were steadily improving, that conditions which had plagued mankind for centuries were fixable, and that their leaders were able and well-intentioned. All those beliefs were deeply shaken or utterly destroyed during those four years – and that is why that war still casts a long shadow. And makes for an interesting and evocative television show – like Downton Abby and Upstairs, Downstairs.

Following in Sgt Mom’s Footsteps…

…but on a much smaller scale.

When I’m not working my day-job, or playing games on Facebook, I write short stories.  I finally have enough to compile into a small e-book, which I am publishing through SmashWords.com with a tentative release date of Feb 22, Ash Wednesday.  The date is tentative because it depends on my newly hired graphic artist getting a cover created for me by then. She’s confident she can do it, even though there are several people ahead of me on her project list. I have no graphic art genes anywhere in my body, so I’m trusting her.

Like you, I’ve watched and admired Sgt Mom on her journey from blogger extraordinaire to “real live arthur,” and I gotta tell you honestly, I don’t want to work that hard. I’m more of a dabbler.   My day job comes first and the writing is only a hobby, albeit a slightly more serious one than it’s been in the past. Short stories by unknown authors are hard to sell, which is my primary reason for self-publishing. I’m just glad we live in a time when the technology makes it possible.

Now, if you’ll pardon a little self-promotion… (clears throat self-consciously)

 Front Cover:

Their lives changed forever when they saw themselves

..and their God…

Through Love’s Eyes

 

 

Back cover (for the print edition, whenever it happens):

A chronically ill woman; a crazy man; a grieving mother. Only God could ease their pain, but would He?

 

You think you know their stories: you’ve read them since childhood. Read them again – it will feel like the first time. Mary Young takes you inside their heads and hearts, and shows you their encounters with the Christ through their own eyes.

Anyone who has ever doubted whether God would really help him or her will find encouragement in these pages.

 

I was originally going to just print a few copies and give them to friends last year for Christmas, but as I worked on perfecting the stories, I felt they deserved a wider audience. It will be interesting to see if I was right.

 

 

To the Lifeboats

Pretty damned ironic, that the Costa Concordia disaster happened almost exactly a hundred years after the Titanic. It’s not all that often these days that a European/American flagged passenger ship becomes a catastrophic loss to their insurance company – although it happens with dispiriting frequency to inter-island ferries in the Philippines and hardly any notice of it taken in Western newspapers. The contrasts and ironies just abound; fortunate that the Costa was so close to land that some passengers were able to swim to safety, and that rescue personnel were at the scene almost before the air-bubbles from the sunken half of the ship even popped to the surface.
Continue reading

Desecrations

It seems that there is a bit of bother on in military circles … or rather in the media circles which concern themselves with the conduct of the military … going on with regard to the Marines who were recorded some years ago pissing upon the bodies of some dead Taliban fighters.

The Taliban, like other gentlemen of similar Islamic persuasion in prosperous and peace-loving locations like Somalia, Chechnya and Iran are, of course, known the world over for their upright moral principles. They are famous for this, as well as their strict adherence to the practices of the Geneva Convention when it comes to captured military and interned civilians like Daniel Pearl, and their gentle and respectful treatment of female and child noncombatants. It seems like every other day or so, the Afghan and Pak Taliban are burning down another school, or throwing acid into the face of another woman whose appreciation of the charms of an individual enthusiast for the Religion of Peace is somewhat lacking.

Gosh, I just don’t know what got into our Marines. I clearly recall seeing WWII-era pictures of the aftermath of fighting in the Pacific, where a truck or half-track hood was adorned with a Japanese skull. Now, that was serious desecration. This? I am reliably informed that there are pervs who will pay good money to be pissed on by a professional. Well, the perv is usually alive and wearing a codpiece, high-heels and a ball-gag, but that’s a small detail.

Anyway – Bad Marines. Don’t let us catch you doing this ever again, or it’s no dessert for you for a week. And if you do, don’t take pictures of it for pete’s sake. And if you do take pictures for you and your buddies to snicker over … don’t show them off in public for about twenty years.

If, on the other hand, you want to piss all over Michael Moore, or that creep at the Daily Kos, or Bill Ayers or someone like that – feel free. Claim they were on fire, and you just wanted to do your duty as a good citizen.

In Translation

Ever since I finished the Adelsverein Trilogy, I’ve wanted to have a German language version out there.

I’ve had emails from fans asking about it, and talked with native German speakers who assured me that Karl May (the German equivalent of Zane Grey) has an enormous and devoted Old West fan-base. This in spite of the fact that he shuffled off the mortal coil in 1912, and only visited the US once: on that occasion, he only went as far west as Buffalo, New York – but in book-world, his characters of Winnetou and Old Shatterhand were in the thick of it.

In any event, movies, television and radio dramas and comic books based on Karl May’s version of the Wild West have continued to be madly popular in Germany ever since. I have made an arrangement with a freelance translator, Chicagoboyz fan and commenter Lukas R., who has provided a sample translation of a chapter. If you are fluent in German, take a look at it (here on my book blog) and tell me what you think. If it works out as I hope, the German-language version of Adelsverein: The Gathering would be available in about a year, as an e-book and print paperback edition.

(Crossposted at my writer’s blog and at Chicagoboyz.)

Books!

What happens in the bookstore, when everyone goes home…

These people have a real bookstore, and spent hours doing this. Appreciate it, and read a book, today!

One More Time

Another unfortunate break in service – the hosting service for this blog didn’t tell me that the domain name was due for renewal until the day before it expired … and I couldn’t afford to renew until I got an unexpected check yesterday.

So, we’re back. And I am glad, because it would have been a bear, switching over to a new domain.