Reviews

A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A lizard riding a horse



Faithful Reader may recollect from an Earlier Post how TOF mused upon the collective result of a cycle riding on the back of a trend.

Consistency is a Jewel

Why?  Because it is rare.

SCOTUS recently ruled that a person possessing a right in one state has that right in all states. Yay.

In Arizona citizens can carry guns without permission from the bureaucracy. Yo, New York, California, you got that?

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Journeyman

"In the Great North Woods," having been trimmed from 42,000 words to a mean and paltry 24,300th, has been resubmitted to Analog. It's fate lies in the balance.

Meanwhile, the Dialogue on the Inner World System, a spare 2900 word fact article has been reviewed and is nearly ready to be sent off to do or die.

And TOF in an uncontrollably whimsical moment, has converted some opening paragraphs in "Nexux" into a sestina. Or part of a sestina. These might not be quite the right six words on which to build. The first sestet, so far runs thusly:
Alien life, we are told, would be unlike our own;
True enough for trivia: for species, body, form,
Or appetites and senses nameless to ourselves.
(What lusts do bats endure when squeaks they place,
What pleasures from the echoes they receive?)
Our human mind can't see what bats survey.
But TOF has not reviewed syllable counts and such fine tweakings; nor is he happy with "ourselves," which is a difficult word to place in the following sestets. He has not thought to replace it with "...nameless to our soul." because he thinks he can work soul into the others sestets more easily. "Survey" may also prove a problem.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Quote of the Day

Imagine a conversation with three or four unknown persons. Or the entire audience, that a politician must address, without offending anyone. The intellectual dilution is staggering.
-- David Warren


On the other hand, people are harder and harder to shock by acting in a depraved manner, which was one of the traditional ways of shocking people. Hence a new sub-class is emerging, of people who are openly depraved, but also, total bores.
-- David Warren, same essay

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

John H. Hammontree



Memorial Day was a day set apart to honor the dead of the Civil War; and so TOF thought it fitting to mention a veteran of that war, one who is most assuredly at this point dead, and began writing this piece on Memorial Day. But the bare bones was not enough. It was not enough to cite his unit or to mention his wound, but the narrative demanded to know how the heck he got there and where was he running around before and after?

That led inter alia to the fortuitous discovery of the orderings and postings of the 5th Tenn, USV, the reports of the Adjutant General of Tennessee, various orders of battle, and TOF pulling out his West Point Atlas of American Wars that had once graced Military History 101 back in Old College Days. All told, it delayed matters in the usual TOFian way and the narrative has grown with the chewing like goat barbecue.

His task then became cutting it down. After all, this post was never intended to be a blow-by-blow account of the Central Theater of the War.

But let us commence...

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day: A Celebration


Just as everyone has a mother, so too does everyone have a father, despite modern tendencies to dismiss this as socially constructed or whatever. Biology doesn't care about social construction. But there is more to being a father than a biological contribution. That's more, not less. So let's climb the tree paternal and see what fruits dangle therefrom.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Ad quinquagesimum annum -- Updated!

And very nearly to the day, TOF and the Incomparable Marge attended a party celebrating the 50th anniversary reunion of TOF's graduating class from the hallowed halls of high school.

Said school was (and is) Notre Dame of Green Pond, which stands between Easton and Bethlehem just off the William Penn Highway. TOF used to access the school by taking the South Side bus to downtown, then walking up a block to catch the intercity bus, which would drop him off on the highway so he could walk down to the school. Later, TOF obtained an automobile, a 1953 Packard Clipper which his parents acquired from the retiring pastor. Named "The Beast" -- its engine was larger than some cars! -- it provided comfy transport for a motley crew: TOF, Danny Hommer, Red Scannell, Sterling Carter, and Jim Welsh.

Friday, June 19, 2015

A semi-final teaser



The Journeyman: In the Great North Woods

“It’s a long and dusty road,
It’s a hot and a heavy load.
– Tom Paxton


A bird in the hand
The Harborside of New Cuffy was already in full morning bustle when Teodorq sunna Nagarajan the Ironhand strode down the hill from his night job. Fishermen newly docked from their labors hawked their wares on the breakwater while gulls overhead shrieked their portion. Ships’ bells clanged the watch in harbor. Shutters slammed back on windows and night-soil plummeted onto unwary passers-by. A ship just in from Old Cuffy threw off lines for the longshoremen.
     Greenies, both overseamen and greeows, shoved past the pale-faced native coastalmen their grandsires had conquered. Spiced among them like raisins in porridge stalked tall, tan forestmen with noses like the blades of their throwing-axes, dusky, yellow-haired swampmen in vests of stiff gator hide and necklaces of small animal skulls, and golden ironmen from those Houses that had bent the knee. Teo had even glimpsed a fellow plainsman, wearing the feathered bonnet of a Ptarmigan and gawping at houses piled three stories high.
     They had lost their tribes all of them, or like the greenies, had never had them. No one stood between them and their rulers. Hence, their only safety lay in obscurity, and no place offered more of that useful commodity than the jumble of alleys, taverns, joy houses, chandleries, and pawn-shops called the Harborside Mews.
     Bodyguarding by its nature was oft an overnight occupation, leaving Teo homebound when the victuals were freshest. At the poulterer’s stall, he emptied his poke to acquire the plucked carcass of a pheasant, which he dangled on a quarterstaff over his shoulder. The pheasant would feed himself and his three partners. Hired muscle paid well enough, but was not exactly the beaten trail to unending wealth.
At the boardwalk he paused to watch the gangplank roll off the ship. “One piece say big hat arriving,” he said to a bystander in halting xhavla. After several months in New Cuffy, he had mastered the rudiments of the greenie tongue.
     “Nah,” the greeow replied. “Was that so, the governor woulda sent an escort.”
     True, the ships sometimes brought convicts, or men down on their luck and looking to escape – from the law, from their wives, from the south end of a northbound plow-mule. Some even came looking for adventure; though if they were lucky, they didn’t find it. But Teo, who only bet on sure things, had spotted a big hat on deck from the hilltop while on his way down to the Mews.
     The longshoremen made the gangplank fast to the pier and a short fellow dressed in a knee-length red-and-gold jacket and wearing an oversized, broad-brimmed hat with feather plume stepped daintily upon it. He carried a gold-headed walking stick. Several younger men as finely dressed clustered about him, and another with the ink-stained fingers of a secretary followed a few paces behind.
     The newcomer doffed his hat and shook his head to unfurl his neck-frill to the morning sun. “Hails, New Cuffy,” he said, as was the custom for arrivals. New Cuffy, as embodied in the usual dockside rag-tag, made indifferent response, of which “up yours” was the most audible.
     “Smell his feet,” said Teo’s neighbor, who was no fonder of Big Hats than were other greeows. But he paid off his bet.
     “Makes big smoke,” Teo agreed, puzzling the man with a prairie idiom.
     Among the dockside rabble stood Seven Quail cutpurse, a displaced forestman who made his living among large but inattentive crowds. He fingered a knife hilt hidden behind his coat-tail while watching the Big Hat. Nearby, a coastalman named Pushaluq mugger slapped a cosh repeatedly into his palm.
      “That can’t be good,” Teodorq muttered. 
(c)2015 Michael F. Flynn

русский права

Finally! After false starts, customs sequesters, and Russian banking practices, TOF has signed the contracts for до джим реки and в пасти льва. Let the rubles flow.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

TOF and the Sidewalk

photo by Adam Elmquist, https://ssl.panoramio.com/user/2771343
About a week ago Thursday, which as all men know is Pepper Pot day at the Key City Diner, TOF and the Incomparable Marge journeyed thither for TOF to consume some of the nectar. Granted, it is not so fine a pepper pot as TOF's Mut once prepared from a shinbone, but one takes one's Pennsylfawnish pepper pot as one finds it.

 Alas, in walking toward the stairs, which are just to the right of the silver auto in the picture (not contemporary), TOF had an altercation. This is like a cation, but different. The curb leapt upward and seized his foot tripping him.

Yaaaaggh!
It's true that time seems to slow down in such moments. TOF can testify that several thoughts passed through his mind, one of which was "YAAAAGGH!" Disinclined to lose his manifold good looks to facio-cementitious interaction, TOF quickly extended his arms to break his fall. He also considered the difficulties in trimming "The Journeyman: In the Great North Woods" to publishable size. In fact, had he not been considering the latter, he might not have necessitated the former aforesaid yaaaaggh! Consequently, most of the 87,500 dwt. of TOFian mass came down on four or five square thumbs of palm, breaking his fall and who knows what else.

But from evil comes always some good, and TOF, now prone face down on the sidewalk, provided an occasion of virtue on the part of others. A woman (and her mother!) rushed to his side and cautioned him not to move, just as TOF rolled on his back and contemplated his next move, if any. The elderly woman seized his left arm and began to help him up, but the less elderly one told her to back off. She also forestalled the Marge, not an easy thing to do!

First she ascertained that TOF had not passed out, had a stroke, or anything of the sort, but had only been ambushed by the aforesaid dastardly curb (a/k/a kerb). Assured that all was mechanical and not pulmonary or neurological, she then took his right arm under the shoulder, directing her sister to do the same with the left. Don't pull the arm... Levitation being out of the question, the two of them leveraged TOF to a sitting position and directed he remain thus for a short time to get his bearings. Perhaps they thought he was dazed or disoriented. She asked TOF his name, and TOF considered several possibilities before judging the moment inauspicious for TOFian Humor™.

"I'm fine," TOF declared, leaping to his feet and performing an Irish jig. Well, okay, maybe not that. But he stood steadily and assured his rescuers that all was well. Later, in the diner -- look, he came for the pepper pot and he was darned well going to have some pepper pot -- the waitress told him that his rescuer was another regular at the diner and was a nurse at the nearby hospital, which explained the systematic and professional manner in which she had effected things. TOF had not been wearing a hat, but he lifts one metaphorically in her direction. Here's to ya! You stepped up when others might have passed by on the other side.

Later that day, TOF did not feel nearly as fine. His right hand had swollen to the size of the Hindenburg and had turned a delightful variety of colors. It hurt to flex his fingers, though he could in fact flex them. He feared raising his hand lest, like a balloon, it lift him from the ground. Perhaps someone with an MD after his name ought to look into things. So in the morning, he went to the doctor, who sent him across the hall to a radiologist, who took snapshots of his hand in sundry provocative poses. Like the gunslinger who mourned an injury to his gun hand, TOF cried, "It's mah writin' hand!" and hoped all would be well. Snapshots were taken using mysterious and scientifical "X" rays. (No film, though. Everything's digital nowadays, only fitting for x-raying one's digits.)

The abductor digiti minimi
TOF had lived his entire life until then without breaking a single solitary bone in his body, and the radiologist announced that this string remained, like his bones, unbroken. Yay. More or less, since it still hurt like a federal regulation. Ice packs, elevation, and bandage-braces were recommended and TOF went along with the gag.

And so, little writing has graced these past nine days. The scrapes and abrasions have now healed, the colors have returned to monochrome, and the dirigible has deflated; but the shin still hurts below the knee and the abductor digiti minimi on the right hand still aches. It hurts to scoop ice cream, which is probably just as well.  


Friday, June 5, 2015

Quote of the Day

"There was a time when she did not remember my name or that we were married, but she still remembered that she loved me."
-- SF author Gene Wolfe, regarding his late wife Rosemary, who died of Alzheimers
http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/sci-fis-difficult-genius

"There are in the end three things that last: faith and hope and love; and the greatest of these is love."
-- Paul of Tarsus

Monday, June 1, 2015

Transgressive Poetry

Grania Uaile (Grace O'Malley)

One night as oppressed with soft slumbers I lay,
And dreamed of Old Erin oft thought of by day,
With the long, wasting wars between Saxon and Gael,
Up rose the bright vision of fair Grania Uaile.

Old Erin's green mantle around her was flung,
Adown her fair shoulders the rich tresses hung,
Her eyes like the sun of the young morning shone,
Whilst her harp sent forth strains of the days that are gone.

Of Erin's fair daughters a circle was seen,
Each one with her distaff surrounding the Queen,
Whose sweet vocal chorus was heard to prolong
The soul stirring anthems of harp and of song.

To Erin what shame and lasting disgrace
That her sons should be crushed by a vile foreign race,
Who have banished her priests and polluted her fanes,
And turned to a desert her beautiful plains!

-- John McHale, archbishop of Tuam


As sung by the rather political Wolfe Tones:

Note: the real Grace O'Malley cut her hair off because long hair
could get tangled in the rigging of the ship.
A three hour epic Grainne Uaile was supposed to have been released in April. It's supposed to be spelled Grainne Mhaol (graŋyeh wail) but that would only confuse English speakers. The movie folks said of their film:




"It was very important for us to show the character of a strong woman in this movie. To move away from the typical stereotypes we have seen in recent years..."
However, it seems to TOF that women acting masculine is the main stereotype of recent years. It is saved somewhat in this case by the historical facts of Grace O'Malley, the "Pirate Queen," who while actually one of the 1% did make a living by extorting tolls and taxes from ships passing her many castles in exchange for safe passage.

Whoa, What's This?

adam amateur theology Aquinas argument from motion Aristotelianism art atheism autumn of the modern ages books brains breaking news captive dreams cartoon charts chieftain clannafhloinn comix commentary counterattack crusades culcha dogheads easton stuff economics eifelheim evolution factoids on parade fake news fallen angels Feeders fir trees in lungs firestar flicks floods flynncestry flynnstuff forecasts forest of time fun facts gandersauce gimlet eye global warming glvwg headlines henchmen high frontier history home front how to lie with statistics humor hush-hush hypatia in the house of submission irish Iron Shirts irrationalism january dancer jihad journeyman kabuki kool letter lion's mouth lunacon maps mayerling medieval metrology miscellany modern mythology moose zombies music new years nexus odds odds and ends paleofuture passing of the modern age philosophy philosophy math poetry politics psyched out! public service quality quiet sun quote of the day razor's edge redefinition of marriage religio reviews river of stars scandal science science marches on scientism scrivening shipwrecks of time shroud skiffy skiffy in the news skools slipping masks some people will believe anything stats stories stranger things the auld curmudgeon the madness continues the new fascism the spiral arm the writing life thomism thread o' years tofspot topology untergang des abendlandes untergang des morgenlandes up jim river video clips vignettes war on science we get letters we're all gonna die whimsy words at play xmas you can't make this stuff up