Thursday, October 29, 2015

Horses and Kids in the Good Old Days

Or maybe that should be the Bad Old Days.  Either way, I stumbled across a photo of Our Sally Ann, one of my father's American Saddlebred horses and one that he purchased early in his career.  Dad showed Sally in the parade horse class, and had thoughts about showing her in fine harness, but that didn't pan out for him.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Worthy Reads for 10/28/2015

I found 5 Observations on the Evolution of Author Business Models by Jane Friedman via Morning Coffee – 28 October 2015 by Nate Hoffelder, which is an enjoyable site in and of itself. The author, Jane Friedman, has just returned from an Novelists, Inc. (NINC) convention / conference.  I believe this event was specified as a conference, which is a convention without the booze and attendant moral indiscretions.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Book Review: This Is Me, Jack Vance! Or More Properly, This Is I

Jack Vance is one of my favorite authors, so when I discovered his autobiography had been published I naturally bought a copy for my Kindle and started reading it.  You can find a copy here: This Is Me, Jack Vance! Or More Properly, This Is I, which I encourage you to read.  Jack Vance is somewhat notorious for not talking about his writing process, and although he largely remains true to this idiosyncrasy, he does make a few exceptions in this book.

Vance is an acquired taste for most people.  He possesses a vocabulary that is well above that of the average author, and is on a much different level from the average modern author.  Whenever I read Vance I end up consulting a dictionary several times during the novel.  I find that having to stop reading and look up a word enhances the experience for me, but not everyone feels this way.  The typical Dean Koontz aficionado would likely give up after a few pages.

Vance starts with vivid memories from his early childhood, progresses through several attempts at college, and spends most of his time describing his married life.  If you're familiar with his work, you'll find a few familiar scenarios that appear in his novels.

A few things that I was interested in learning is that Jack Vance never wrote with a typewriter.  He wrote his novels longhand, using one or more fountain pens with various color inks.  When he finally lost his eyesight, his son arranged a word processor for him so that he could continue writing.  I was surprised to learn that Vance and his family traveled extensively, settling down in some exotic location just long enough to write a novel or two, then moving on.  The family ran out of money several times, but this condition didn't seem to phase Vance very much.

From what I was able to gather about Jack Vance and his writing process, and what I can surmise, I think he was one of these people who simply sat down and wrote the story.  Ergo, there wasn't really anything much for him to describe.  He wrote, sent his manuscript to his agent who then made a good deal with the publisher.  Vance didn't edit much, and he hated it when things were changed, such as a title.  Vance specifically mentions this a few times.

This book is an excellent read, and provides real insight into the life of a truly great author.  I recommend it to everyone.

Friday, October 23, 2015


I confess.  I'm not a leaf-peeper and I don't like fall.  Fall precedes winter, you see, and winter means snow, which I detest. But today I noticed the maple trees had changed and the oak leaves were falling.  Then I remembered that I'm not going to see this again.  This time next year will see me in a new home, somewhere to the South of Toledo. So, in a fit of nostalgic, maudlin, self-pity, I got out my camera and took a few pix.

Maple Tree
I remember when we planted this tree.  My father supervised, and I ran the Indian Backhoe (shovel to the rest of you).  This would have been accomplished on a Sunday afternoon, early, as the old boy had plans for late Sunday afternoon.

Neighbor's Tree
This belongs to our neighbor, a rather nice couple who I'm on good terms with.  They invited me over for a drink some evening, so I think I'll take them up on their offer later on tonight.  Mike claims he's a Scotch drinker, which is just my style.

As Seen From Across the Pasture
Here's the same maple tree as seen from across the pasture.  It looks quite impressive when the sun hits it, but sadly the sun went away by the time I got around to taking this shot.

Maple and Oak
This is my driveway.  The forest next to me is mainly oak and maple, with a few sassafras trees.  About half the oak leaves are on the ground.

House and Yard
Front Yard
I'll never see the large yard covered in leaves again, or the neighboring houses too far away to have a valid complaint about neglected lawns and unraked leaves.  Or dandelions, or moles, neither of which trouble me.  In fact, I always thought dandelions were rather pretty, and broke up the tedium of a perfectly manicured, kelly green lawn.  Not everyone shares this view.

We never bothered raking the leaves.  The wind generally blows most of them over into the woods, and the rest don't seem to hurt anything.  In the old days we could rake them into a pile and burn them, but now there's a law against burning leaves or trash, brought to us by our elected officials who's sole purpose is to regulate everyone's life until we, the great unwashed, finally go around the bend and end up on the front page of the local bird cage liner.  Imagine wanting to live your own life, free of onerous restrictions and Draconian taxation.  Sounds treasonous to me.

By this time next year I'll likely be living in the Columbus area, probably in a condominium, complete with a homeowner's association comprised of elderly busybodies who will be delighted to tell me what to do, when to do it and how it shouldn't be done. 

Meantime, I'm not going to rake the leaves.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Fifty Dollars

Back in August, Saturday, August 1st to be exact, I put my car under me and highballed it to Indianapolis.  I stayed at the Conrad and had a great time tearing it up with Mike and Doc Bitterman.  So today while I was sitting in my car in a parking lot and contemplating the necessity of going to the supermarket to pick up the one thing that I forgot to buy yesterday (laundry detergent), I noticed that a CD had escaped its storage place and was resting on the console.

Errant CD
Being a naturally neat and tidy person, I scooped everything out and stacked it so it would fit.  During the process, here's what I found.

Fifty Dollars
A genuine portrait of Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th President of our United States, surrounded by some very interesting news and numbers.  Evidently, I (or someone else, who is now out fifty smackers) had misplaced this little beauty in one of my less lucid moments.  Then I found the note that went along with it.

Honest Valet
How about that?  I remember that I tipped the valet when I picked up my car, and I'm glad I did.  Whoever he was - and I know it was a he, because I watched him drive my car off so as to make sure he could handle a standard transmission - he could have kept the $50.  I'd have never found it or missed it.

I think I'll write a letter to the Conrad hotel management and include a few photos.  Maybe they can run the guy down and thank him.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Happy Birthday - 2015

My birthday was last Friday, the 2nd of October.  I'm 63; I only feel like I'm 110.

Yours Truly at Ciao! in Sylvania
Ellen and Mike were kind enough to join me for dinner.  The dinner and service were very good as usual, but the desert left a lot to be desired.  I think next time I'll skip desert and just have a brandy or something.

Ellen and I at Ciao!
Tomorrow I have promised myself to make some serious progress on my next story.