In Which I Visit a Museum

From Jim Macdonald’s blog: a museum visit, in which we see, among other things, a submarine.

Madhouse Manor

And there see a submarine.

Some years ago, for reasons that matter not to our story, I was driving around northern New Jersey when I saw something by the side of the road.  “By golly,” I said, “that looks like a Holland submarine!”  I pulled over and walked to it.  It was!  Holland boat #2, Fenian Ram.  The precursor of all modern submarines.  In the US Navy, USS Holland (AKA Holland boat #6) was SS-1.

I never saw it again though I looked for it every time I passed through the region.  Then, thanks to the Miracle of the Internet, I decided to search for it and to my joy found that it was now in a more congenial place than rusting away by roadside: Fenian Ram was now an exhibit at the Paterson Museum.

Then I had to wait the opportunity to visit: I’m not in the…

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It’s That Time Again

Created with GIMP
Yes, it’s time for my annual Springtime Services Sale!

From now through April 21, 2019 (that’s Easter Sunday, for those of you who celebrate), all edits on novel-length manuscripts will be 30% off the regular price. You can purchase an edit now to be redeemed at a later date of your choice, or you can buy an edit for a friend as a gift.

For more information, you can go to my about page.

My winter electric bill will thank you.

Free Magic Show: Boston

More magic from Jim Macdonald.

Madhouse Manor

Jim Macdonald, Magician

BEST OF BOSTON

The SAM Assembly 9“Best of Boston” contest will be held Wednesday, April 10th at the Puppet Showplace Theater, 32 Station St., Brookline, at 7:30 PM.  There is no charge for this performance.

Note that the starting time is a bit earlier than usual  because we have eight contestants participating, and we plan to finish voting and present the awards by 9:30.  Contestants include (not necessarily in this order):

 

  • Joseph Caulfield (Lord BlackSword)
  • James D. Macdonald
  • Scott Galbraith
  • Mike Lee
  • Kevin Butler
  • Eddie Gardner
  • Duncan Miller
  • Markus Steelgrave

Each contestant will present an 8-12 minute routine of their choice.

Each audience member will receive a ballot and can vote for up to three
contestants.  The top three vote recipients will be the contest winners.

Duncan Miller
Secretary, SAM Assembly #9

For my part, I intend to present “Pure Jennie, the Moonshiner’s Daughter; or, The Vexations…

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What We’re Planning

(Unless something horrible and unexpected leaps out of the bushes at us beforehand — which has, alas, been known to happen.)

Anyway. We’re going to be attending the Heliosphere sf/fantasy convention in Tarrytown, NY, and while we’re at it we’re going to be tacking a day or so onto the trip to do what Jim Macdonald is referring to as The Major Andre Tour. All the sites associated with the unfortunate entanglement of Major John Andre (even his enemies liked him) with Benedict Arnold (even his friends thought he was a dick) are within a few miles of each other in the nearby area, so it seemed like an opportunity not to be missed.

Jim will undoubtedly be writing it all up for his blog when we’re done, so keep watching this space (or his space) for details.

We’ll be doing the Tour on the Friday before Heliosphere, working out of a base in Nyack. Jim has the itinerary all worked out, with GPS coordinates and everything — once a navigator, always a navigator, I suppose.

It should be fun.

Talk About Your Toxic Work Environments

Back when I was first writing for publication, Jim Macdonald and I wrote a number of YA novels, mostly for book packagers (that was one of the entry points back then, before packagers turned into high-profile wheeler-dealers and were instead mostly borderline sleazy providers of work-for-hire content to publishers who were too dainty to make such deals themselves.)  Some of the stuff we did I’m still quite proud of; and all of it was the best we could provide given the sometimes-weird constraints we had to work under.

But my golly, I’m glad I’m not working in that end of the business right now.  We’ve come to a place where a pre-publication social-media campaign can — shall we say, bully? yes, we shall — bully an up-and-coming author into withdrawing her own book before it can be published.  And that sort of thing can happen more than once.

Whatever happened to publishing the book and letting actual readers decide for themselves whether it’s a Bad Thing or not?

(Right.  I forgot.  This is YA literature, and therefore falls under the purview of all those good-intentioned people who want to Protect Impressionable Young Minds.  Thank God for all the impressionable young minds who are already way ahead of them in finding the stuff that young minds actually want to read.)

It’s Vaudeville!

More magical entertainment from my spouse and co-author:

Madhouse Manor

It's Vaudeville 9th of March, 2019 7:00 pm

This coming Saturday, March 9th, I will have the honor of appearing in the Kearsarge Conservatory of the Performing Arts (KCPA) Scholarship Fundraiser — Vaudeville Performance

Saturday, March 9th, 7:00-9:00 pm

Warner Town Hall, 5 East Main St, Warner, NH 03278

Info: kcpastudiocalendar@gmail.com

http://www.nhperformingarts.org/

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Peeve of the Day (or, Not Just Grammar Makes Me Peevish)

There’s a special kind of irritation I feel whenever somebody starts trying — earnestly and urgently — to tell me about some New! Amazing! and Probably Subversive! thing that I already know. It’s a combination of “I will not be manipulated by emotional argument, dammit!” and “You mean you only just now heard about that?” and “Stop being on my side, you’re annoying me!”, with the exact proportions varying by subject matter.

Scientific theories mostly just get the middle, or “I thought everybody knew that” reaction. I remember being mildly surprised, for example, the first time — back in the eighties, I think it would have been — that I saw plate tectonics described in the popular press as a new and until-recently controversial geologic theory, because everybody I knew had known about plate tectonics for ages. Granted, I spent my high school years back in Texas attending meetings and field trips of the local rockhound club with the rest of my family, and the local rockhound club had more than one professional oil-field geologist in its ranks . . . but when you’re that age, what your parents and your parents’ friends know is pretty much your personal definition of “common knowledge.”

I had the same reaction, with a bit more annoyance and grouchy resentment, after first encountering the East Coast wiccan/new age/alternative spirituality community. It’s hard, for example, to take Robert Grave’s The White Goddess seriously as any kind of revelation when you read it for the first time back in high school because your father recommended it to you. (And when your opinion back then was the same as it is now — that the book is an interesting account of how Robert Graves wrote poetry, but as far as sober or even drunken historical or anthropological fact goes, it’s rubbish.)

And politics . . . I realize, for example, that for some people, the massacre at Wounded Knee is one of those shocking things that their schoolteachers never taught them about. But I was able to put together a class report on the incident in junior high from books in my family’s library, a couple of years before Dee Brown and later Russell Means put a national spotlight on it (for a little while, at least.)

None of this stuff was secret. My parents weren’t political activists or students of esoterica — they were a civil engineer and a school librarian, and the closest either of them got to alternative religions was Episcopalianism and (in my father’s case) Freemasonry. They just happened to have inquiring minds and a lot of books and a willingness to let me could read anything on the bookshelves that I was able to reach.

So it tends to annoy me when people carry on as though any of this was new.

As my mother’s aunt said to her on that subject, “Mildred, I never did understand why you had to go and join that foreign church.”

Arisia, and What We Came Home To

It was a good Arisia, despite the many and varied problems the con experienced heading in to the occasion. Returning to the Park Plaza for a year was an exercise in nostalgia (was the hotel layout always this confusing? were the rooms always that small? were the locally available restaurants always that much better and more plentiful?†), but mostly in a good way in spite of everything.

I was on a total of five panels, including one 8:30AM panel (note to self:  let’s not do that again), with no real dogs and two standouts — the panel on sidekicks, and the panel on the problem of writing near-future sf when the present keeps catching up with and passing the tech. We had one really good dinner out, at the Marliave restaurant, where Jim Macdonald had the Beef Wellington and I had their Sunday Gravy (i.e., slow-cooked beef, pork, and lamb in tomato sauce with gnocchi. Macdonald’s verdict , after tasting the latter: “If you were to find a recipe and make that at home in the slow cooker, I would eat it.”)

We broke our trip on Sunday night in Merrimack, because of the winter storm that was even then dumping much snow on the middle and northern parts of New Hampshire, and returned home Monday to this:

path to front deck january snowstorm 2019

That’s the path leading up to the front deck.  Note the level of drifted snow.  Note also the depth of the path cut through the fallen snow by our recently acquired snow thrower.

And this is the older Subaru, left at home for the weekend to accumulate its own blanket of white:

parked car january snowstorm 2019

We’d had the forethought, born of bitter experience, to leave all of the faucets in the house on the drip, so at least all of the water was running and the toilet was flushing on our return.  The cats, left for the long weekend with fresh water from a dish in the kitchen sink (see, on the drip, above) and an entire roasting pan full of dry cat food, have more or less forgiven us now that we have demonstrated the continued existence of wet cat food in the world.

So, all in all, not  a bad road trip.


†Answers: If possible the layout is even more confusing now than it was before; I think that most of the rooms are even smaller now that they’ve renovated the place; and yes, there are a lot more, better, and cheaper restaurants near the Park Plaza than there are near the Westin.