Minutia

Being another premium collection of Archon’s famous Rants and Rambles© – until I run out of breath.

Back when I was young and healthy, and working, chocolate milk and cheddar were occasional treats. Now that I am more subject to osteoporosis (bone weakening through loss of calcium), the wife ensures that brown cow juice and four or five types of cheese are available at all times.

A recent study proved that flavonoids in chocolate are good for you, the darker the chocolate, the better. Recently, locally, dark-chocolate milk has become available. MMMH, yummy! Now, if I could just get the folks who decaffeinate coffee, to decalorify all the food I like….

Because I’m compulsive, and have nothing better to do, we take receipts, and keep track of all the gasoline we put into the car. Last year’s total ran to just over $2200. We aren’t soccer moms, or run a taxi. I don’t know if that’s “normal” or not. Anybody got an opinion?

At the recent Detroit Gun and Knife show, they had a display of the two Tommy Guns, Thompson sub-machine guns, which were used in the Chicago, Valentine’s Day Massacre of 1929. Somehow they migrated to the small town of St. Joseph, north of Detroit, and were later turned over to local police, whose taser-instructing Sheriff brought them down and stood guard over them.

Son, Shimoniac, has been at his current job as a plastic parts moulder for five years. Each year, he has applied for the position of Material Handler, and each year an opening has gone to an employee with less seniority. It just occurred for the fifth time. His supervisor is apologetic, and explained that it is because he quickly became indispensable.

He can make every part, on every machine, including 5 or 6 items like bagpipe mouthpieces and CPU anti-skid mats, which are only run once a year. He recently trained a new employee – who may not be there next year – to make the mats, and is usually the one chosen to train new temps. His part achieved shipping quantity the other night and, while they were changing the mould in his machine, he covered four other machines during breaks.

The most “Internet” of Internet sentences, is currently the incorrect, “Your an idiot.” It perfectly personifies the Wild West nature of the interwebz, although it may soon be replaced by, “It’s a hoax!”

As a language geek, I often wonder how we manage to communicate as well as we do. I recently saw a photo of a dog in the newspaper, with a caption declaring that it was a “Burmese mountain dog.” Ah yes, Burma, that low-land, coastal, swamp-infested country, not well-known for either mountains – or dogs, since that last restaurant opened. Perhaps they were thinking of the Swiss dogs, from the Alps Mountains, near the capital of Bern – Bernese mountain dogs? Nah, that requires thinking.

So many people just don’t concern themselves with the nuances and exactitudes of the language. The slang term “klicks” came into being from the American Army referring to kilometers, because they don’t speak Canadian. Since the one begins with a K, I would expect the other to do so also, yet 75% of the times I read it, even by professional writers, I see “clicks.”

A Canadian Army body transport team of eight male and two females, posed for a group photo around an aluminum casket. Two of the guys were wrestling, one was photo-bombing bunny ears on his buddy, and one was staring off into space and pointing, as if at a UFO. All the rest had cheesy grins. The female corporal posted it to her Facebook page, captioned, “Putting the FUN back in funeral.”

They were all off-duty, and there was no body in the casket, but the shit hit the fan. I say, you can’t be serious all the time, but what irked me, was the claim that this picture was a “selfie.” Selfies are spontaneous, self-taken photos. They have arms in them and the focus distance is two feet or less. Posed photos from 20 feet out, are not “selfies!”

I don’t ever pick up a book to read, with the intention of being a nit-picker, but posting a few recent book reviews has made me aware of the many things I notice, but used to just ignore, in the suspension of disbelief category.

I recently finished a Clive Cussler book where the only underwater action was the ten-page recovery of a locomotive which fell off a lake ferry in a storm. I question, but can’t prove, the impossibility of a 1906 Rolls-Royce in San Francisco.

I also read a non-Cussler book centered around an underwater base. The supply ship “hoved to.” It could have heaved to, or hove to, but not hoved! The crew shared a bottle of “saki.” Saki was the pen-name of writer, H.H.Munro, or is a current Japanese manga series. The rice liquor is sake. A pair of glasses swirling in a flooding airlock were called flotsam. If it don’t float, it ain’t flotsam.

They recovered gold ingots from a sunken wreck. A Scottish character gushed that they weighed 50 stone apiece, and were worth almost a half a million dollars each. 50 pounds apiece, perhaps. Stone is a British Imperial measure of weight of 14 pounds. 50 stone would be 700 pounds. Nobody a hundred years ago, without a forklift, would pour a 700 pound gold brick, and the tiny manipulator arms of a mini-sub could not grasp, or move one. If they did, each would be worth over fourteen million dollars.

Well, that cleared a bunch of bats out of this ding-dong’s belfry. I wonder if they’ll let me post when I’m in “The Home.”???

 

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Community Writing

I may have invented another new English term.  As opposed to “Committee Writing”, where two or more authors collaborate on a book, or books, Community Writing is when a group of authors each produce a book or books in a large series, by themselves.

About 1974, I read a science-fiction book titled The Guns of Terra 10, by an author named Don Pendleton.  Heavy on both sidearm and particle-beam weapons, and light on character development, it wasn’t the worst book I’d ever read, but, having been spoiled by the likes of Asimov and Heinlein, it was well down the list.

Several years later, I was attending a Christmas get-together at my sister’s.  The gals were cooking, setting tables and general women stuff.  The guys were downstairs in the rec-room, watching an exciting (Yawn!) hockey game.  I stayed in the living-room, hoping to score a snack before the real eating began.

I spotted a book that one of my nephews was reading and tried a couple of chapters.  It was by Don Pendleton and was number 15 in a series about an ex-army Special Forces who was waging war against the Mafia, who had destroyed his family.

Liberally stocked with things that go boom, but with much better character portrayal, it wasn’t long before I was haunting second-hand book stores to acquire the series from the beginning.  It took a while for word of mouth to let the series take off.  Pendleton wrote about 56 of these books before he, or his publisher, decided to farm them out.  They were being released on a monthly basis to keep up to the now-popular demand.

A group of 8 or 9 production writers was engaged to write individual books.  All Pendleton had to do was create story arc, co-ordinate timing and establish limits.  At about book number 85, some genius saw the limitations of a protracted fight against the Mafia, and “killed” the hero off, to have him reborn as Colonel John Phoenix, scourge of terrorists everywhere.

As well as the 250/300 page, numbered books, there were dozens of 450/500 page Superbooks.  I quit buying after number 216, and 30 or 40 of the Superbooks.  Finally dying off, the numbers approach 400.  To support the hero, Pendleton invented a three-man domestic team, and a five-man foreign-soil team, headed by a fox-faced Canadian, eh.

They were so popular that two other authors were handed the task of writing a series about each.  One guy got to 36 books, and the other to 52, before interest or writing ability died.

Besides ennui, one of the reasons I gave up that series was the discovery of another.  Jack Adrian dreamed up a series about a four-man, two woman, survival group in post-apocalypse America.  He wrote the first couple and then let his hired guns write about these hired guns.  The author name used is James Axler, but none of the 8/9 pet writers is named that.

The writing in the Pendleton series is so smooth and even, that all the books might have been written by the same person.  Not so with the Axler series!  It’s hit and miss.  Some are great.  The Mars Arena contained every literary reference imaginable.  Both Tom Sawyer and Mark Twain showed up, smooooth!  Hell Road Warriors, on the other hand, contained historical and geographical errors, as well as questionable technology.  Also, every chapter, sometimes almost every page, contained English usage errors.

This series is essentially about the man on the outside.  Adrian then dreamed up another series, set another hundred years in the future, basically about the man on the inside, who wants to get out.  Another group of 8/9 writers was hired to pump these babies out each month.  There is a bit of cross-pollination.  Occasionally one of the A-series writers produces a B-series book, and vice-versa.  At last count, there were 112 of series A published, and exactly half of that, 56, of series B.

Having followed the older series for ten years, and the newer one for five, through a total of almost 160 books, I’ve finally decided to stop buying them.  They’ve both become soap-opera-ish, especially the newer series; multi-dimensional sauroid space aliens called Annunaki, from Earth’s unseen twin planet Nibiru, controlling Man’s development for the past 30,000 years with the help of an evil dwarf named Sindri.  Every old superstitious story is woven in to sell more books.  Fun’s fun, but I’ve had enough.

I’m eight books behind and no chance of catching up.  I have 10 Clive Cussler books, and about twenty others to read, including the two “Locator” novels, and Pouringmyartout’s e-book, Saloon at the Edge of Everywhere stranded on Kobo.  My son has introduced me to some nice new books, including the 1632 series(?).

This started as a stand-alone book, positing a small Virginia town, suddenly stranded in 1632 Germany.  Having established the parameters, the author, Eric Flint, has invited other writers like David Weber, Virginia DeMarce (the irony), and Marilyn Kosmatka to take a bite out of his little universe and write connected stories from their literary viewpoint.  The print copies since 2000 number 26.

There is a strong online presence to these books, with a website and very active discussion page where fan-boys, and –girls, submit detailed short stories about mentioned characters and occurrences, to flesh out the narrative.  Flint reads them all, chooses the best, edits and accumulates them, and publishes them in print as The Grantville Gazette, I thru XII.

This is a different type of Community Writing from the above, and the wealth of detail makes the stories, and the people in them, as real as your neighbors, and a treasure trove of historical social study, from war, politics and religion, to love and marriage.

10 Q

tagged

to Benzeknees for sharing these four blog awards with me, and 10Q to the rest of you who have stopped around to read my silly posts.  Hands up, those of you who figured out where I was going with the strange titles.

This is the last acceptance speech, for the final (for now) award.  Keep those hands up!  Stop all that clapping!  This is the “I’ve Been Tagged Award.”  Benze tagged me, fair and square.  I hope this is for a writing award.  I’m too weak/tired/out-of-shape to be wrestling.

What book are you reading right now?

The old man with no attention span is reading three books at the moment, Wretched Earth by James Axler(?), Fire Ice by Clive Cussler, and Sinai Secret by Gregg Loomis.  I read a chapter of one, and then go blog, a chapter of the second and feed the cats and dog, and a chapter of the third, and help with supper.  Repeat, ad infinitum!

What mini-vacation (0-100 miles from your home) have you particularly enjoyed within the last year?

I took the wife and grandson to Detroit for a weekend last October, and the son to Detroit again just a couple of weeks ago.  The excuse was knife shows, but there was lots of other stuff to do and see.  I just finished posting about the most recent trip.

What is your favorite form of entertainment?

Old Mister No-attention-span flits from one diversion to another.  Reading and writing blogs has cut down on my book-reading a bit, but I still seem to average a book a week.  We watch 2/3 hours of TV on weeknights, Bones, Castle, Hawaii Five-O, NCIS, NCIS-LA, Body of Proof, Criminal Minds, CSI, Elementary, Poirot, Lewis, Dr. Who, Midsomer Murders, which is about to end its season and be replaced by Miss Marple.

Of what accomplishments are you the most proud?

My various deficiencies have prevented doing much that I am “Proud” of.  Getting through over fifty years of working with (barely) enough to retire on.  Almost 50 years of marriage to one woman.  Raised two intelligent and well-mannered kids, and am helping with a similar grandson.  I regard my blog-writing as prosaic, but receive the occasional accolade from some readers who should know.  That pleases me!  The wife insists that I tell you that I taught her how to tat (make lace).  It involved an eight-foot, heavy, black plastic telephone cord, and I had no idea what I was doing.

Who has been most influential in your life in the past year?

No one person, although I’d like to mention my first two followers, BrainRants and H E Ellis.  They, along with many other bloggers have greatly improved my quality of mental life.

If you were raising money for a favorite charity, where would you direct our checks?

On a small scale, I’d recommend the Archon Family Improvement Foundation.  Both the semi-handicapped wife and daughter could use some assistance with mobility, medical procedures, housing, transportation, in-home support.  A few thousand directed toward that might allow me to pay off my still-mortgaged house.  On the big scale, money could be directed to medical research, including stem-cells.  Our love of animals would ensure payments to Humane Society and SPCA.

If you weren’t doing the work or career you are in, what would you like to be doing?

I’ve worked long and hard to become retired, and I want to continue in that, hopefully healthy, mobile and reasonably pain-free.

If you could have named yourself, what would your name be and why?

Unlike many others, I am happy with my complete name.  It’s a good, solid, unpretentious, 1940s’ name.  I was to be “George John Smith” but the first-name-last, last-name-first form confused my mother, and I accidentally became “John George Smith.”  Still works!  In effect I have renamed myself by adopting the blogging cognomen of Archon.

What would you most like to tell your children, or important young person in your life but haven’t?

Something I haven’t told someone??  Not likely to happen!  You can’t get me to shut up.  I’m just full of unsolicited advice and opinions.  My youngest child is 42.  My grandson is 21.  The only thing I tell young people these days is, “Get off my damned lawn!”

How do you change your mood when you are grumpy?

Change my grumpy mood??  Whatever for?  I’m a carrier, like Typhoid Mary.  I spread it around.  I revel in it.  Everybody gets to share.  When someone or something bugs the shit out of me, that’s when I do my best thinking.  Then, out comes the blog, and another pissed-off post gets published.

What particular skill could you teach us on your blog?

My resources and abilities are severely limited.  I could let you talk to my highly creative and productive wife and daughter if you’d like.  I could demonstrate logical thought, concern for others, respect, even good English usage/composition ability, but, if you don’t already know these things by the time you read my blog, it is unlikely that I can teach, those who will not learn.

I would like to throw out another big Thank-You, especially to Benze, for honoring me with all these awards and giving me the chance to open my heart and mind.  I would also like to thank all who came here to read, and comment, and like, and support me, by putting up with my silliness.  The grumpy old dude will return soon.