Erickson Expose

HE’S ALIVE….ALIVE!!

Just got home from my exciting trip, and only have a little bit of time and energy tonight, but I felt that should inform those of my readers who were worried and asked or encouraged me. The primary mission of the journey was a success.  I managed to locate and speak with Doctor Livingston Erickson in the wilds of darkest Ohio.

He is alive, and as normal as he ever is.  His vanishment from the social media scene has been caused by a fluke series of electronic frustrations.  It began with a PC that ate its own hard drive.  He located a used laptop, and spent several days building bookmarks, and teaching it other tricks.  Just when he got it domesticated, it went blind.  It still computed, but nothing he did could get it to display on the screen.

His internet access recently changed to a new, local Wi-Fi tower. In Ohio, they build these on top of tall hills, in an area well-known for lightning storms, but apparently no-one thought to install a copper grounding cable.

He had tamed yet another computer, to the point where he knew he had over 3000 unread emails, when the inevitable happened. He’s now impatiently waiting for fried circuits to be replaced, and a ground cable installed, and feels he should be ready to re-assume the title of Supreme Commenter within a week or so.

He and his wife were overjoyed to meet me and my wife, but were absolutely amazed that anyone would make the trip, and that others would be concerned enough to urge and encourage me to do so. I’ll give more details when that section of the Blog Fellowship series is published.

Rest easy, the lost is found, even if he’s silent on WordPress a bit longer. In the meantime, spread the word – King John the Digital is alive and well.

My personal thanks to AFrankAngle, whose assistance and guidance made this trip the enjoyable success that it was. Now Soon, back to our regularly scheduled program.

 

Archon 😆

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.

Mighty Oaks From Little Acorns

We often think that the important things which happen, and the marvelous things that are created, are the products of “big city” people.  It just seems right that those with the most exposure to society and education, would be the “doers.”  It is often a surprise that some city-, country- or world-changing events are caused by small-town, backwoods boys (and girls).

On August 21, 1860, Aylesworth Perry was born in a tiny Ontario hamlet.  Despite being a patriotic Canadian, interested in our history and heritage, I had never heard of him.  It seems that this was the gentleman who went on to transform the North West Mounted Police – who would later become the R.C.M.P. – from a loose-knit band of rowdy frontiersmen, into the effective, respected organization it became.

What caught my eye about the little newspaper filler article was the fact that this strong, powerful organizer of tough, gritty men, in a tough, dirty landscape, was from the tiny-rainbow-pissing village of Violet.  Like the famous….whatsisname, above, I’d never heard of a place in Ontario named Violet, so I began to do some research.

The officially-issued, Province Of Ontario roadmap refuses to even mention it.  Time to go online!  My first search for Violet, Ontario, got me Violet’s Violets, in Milton, ON, and Violets and Roses Flower Shop in Brampton, ON.  My next step was my usual, Mapquest.ca, which located a Violet Hill, ON, not far from my home town.  This magnificent megalopolis boasts almost 300 residents, which is probably why I’d never heard of it either.

When all else fails, go to Google, which had no trouble locating Violet for me.  Where my town is almost as far west as possible, in Southern Ontario, this place is at the far, east edge, close to Ottawa and Montreal.  To call this place a village is perhaps to stretch a point some.  It’s more than just a wide spot on the road, with a house on both sides, but not much.  It makes Violet Hill look like urban civilization.  There is one road into town, which splits at a Y, and two roads leave town.

I was astounded that Google Earth had actually driven these roads.  They must have been on their way to a real town.  It had to have been a remote-controlled vehicle.  A human driver would have dozed off.  If it’s this tiny now, I wonder how much smaller it was, a hundred and fifty years ago.

At about the same time in history, a famous feminist/suffragette/ human rights proponent, named Nellie Mooney McClung, was born in a tiny village about 30 miles east of my home.  She’s so famous, you’ve never heard of her either, and the only sign that she and the village ever existed, is a dedication plaque, and a small cemetery.

“Famous”, in Canada, means that two people know how to spell your name.  More recently, just before I crawled out of the igloo, a famous female Canadian author was born in a small town 30 miles to my south.  At the age of 76, she’s decided to stop writing, and retire back to her birthplace, to count up all eight Loonies she’s made from the Canadian publishing industries.

A couple of years before my birth, a man was born in a village of 300, twenty miles south-east.  He went on to be the long-term editor of the Toronto Sun newspaper, until the Frogs from Quebecor Publishing hopped down from Montreal, and gobbled it up.  You’d probably not notice his birthplace either, if it weren’t for the stench of the pig-processing plant, and the truckers’ restaurant, which is well-known for its ribs and wings.

All of this has generated great optimism in me.  If people from places like Nowhere, and Never-Heard-Of-It, can become movers and shakers, it’s never too late for me to become famous also.  (It’s spelled S.M.I.T.H.)  Two more posts like this, and it’s onward and upward to FreshPressed, and fame and glory.  Did I mention the money?….or I could just keep trying to amuse, entertain and educate you, my faithful followers.

Being famous, and from a small town is not always a good thing.  We have a Canadian lady (?) from Wadena, Saskatchewan, a mighty little town of 1300.  She’s been a television news reporter, and then anchor-person, who puts her pants on one leg at a time, just like all the other guys.  The Prime Minister gave her a pork-barrel appointment to the Canadian Senate.

She now has to, grudgingly, repay $140,000 in expenses to the Government, because she was “confused” and “forgot” things like that her “primary residence” was in Wadena, not Toronto.  She’s one of four recently appointed Senators under investigation by the R.C.M.P.  I’m not sure how much of this type of thing the American system of electing Senators would prevent, but I’m pretty sure it couldn’t be much worse.

End of bitch!  Insert comment here.

 

Ode To CWC6161

Also, OWED to CWC6161

BrainRants was the first blog I found.  When I began infesting it with my random comments, it was from the commenters, rather than his blogroll, that I found and chose other bloggers’ posts to read.  One of the first, and the nicest, was a lovely lady named Candice W. Coghill.  Her blog I.D. is her initials, along with, what I believe is/was her age, twice.

Feeling that only grumpy old male dudes like me were curmudgeons, she wrote under the blog-name, The Kindly Hermudgeon, a softer, kinder, gentler female version.  I was impressed with, and attracted by her comments, and apparently she felt the same about me and mine.  When I got my own site up and running she was a regular reader/commenter, and one of my earliest followers.  It was she who reminded me to add a “Follow Me” widget.

I commented often on her site, which at that time, was largely about her personal life.  That first November, before I was “On The Net”, she participated in the NaNoWriMo, pumping out 2000 words a day for three weeks, and using the final week for editing and polishing.  I offered to refrain from distracting her, but she assured me that my online presence was welcome.  She was the first to send me a blog award, when I’d only published 14 posts.

As a long-term loner, I often have to work at accepting others as friends.  Such was not the case with The Hermudgeon.  She was intelligent, knowledgeable, literate, friendly, welcoming, supportive….the list goes on and on.  We were instant friends.  Despite being a couple of years younger than me, she was almost a web-mother to me, or a loving, caring sister, so unlike the psychotic minefield I shared ancestry with.

She lived in a little Atlantic coastal Florida town which shares my Scottish clan name.  I used Google Maps satellite view to see her frame house on a small inland bay.  I told her of passing almost within stone’s-throw distance as I had driven down to Key West.  I mentioned a central character in a book I was reading, who was recruited from her tiny town.  I told her of finding another Florida woman, half her age, with exactly the same name, a pill-dispensing medical worker, who liked to be called Candy Popper.  Not impressed with that name, she denied being related.

She was very dedicated to becoming a published author and helped many others in their quest.  Later posts were writing tips and tutorials, knitting-circle-type meetings, and real-time addresses from writers who had made it.  This woman was just Industrial Strength support and help to all she could reach.

Sadly, she had developed inoperable abdominal cancer behind her navel.  Many of her later posts told of radiation treatment and chemotherapy, which were provided by a mobile clinic, housed in a medium-sized jet airplane.  This aircraft flew from city to city, with a rotating schedule.  She got to know the doctor in charge, the nurses, and the flight crew.

She told of their care and concern, and how she had trouble working for two or three days after a treatment, because of weakness and disorientation.  She wrote of Doc Magic feeling that things were under control….but then of the ogre rearing its ugly head once more.

Because her blog had become about commercial writing and being published, I didn’t drop in as often as I had early on, but still stopped by occasionally, with a Like, a short comment and a word of support and hope.  Just about a year ago, on July 11, 2012, her posts suddenly stopped.  I dropped in every couple of days, then once a week, then twice a month – nothing.

I did a search, and found a mostly-English blog-site in France, and thought she’d moved, possibly for medical reasons.  When I paid a bit of attention, I realized that it was stagnant, with posts and comments a year and a half old.  Questions to some of her other regulars revealed that no-one had any information on where she had gone, or what had happened to her.

She was a fighter, and she treated me far better than I deserved.  I can only hope that she simply doesn’t have the time and strength to spare for blogging.  On March 20 of this year, I accessed her final post, and left the comment, “Goodbye sweet Angel.  You will be greatly missed!”  My daughter, LadyRyl, also got to know and like her very much.  She joins me to worry and wonder, to fear the worst, hope for the best, and miss this fine lady very much.  I checked her site again before publishing this tribute.  What may forever remain the final comment, is still, “Awaiting moderation.”

Time Flies

Happy Blogiversary!

Has it really been a year since I started this silliness?  And you guys keep coming around to read it, even without a Community Service order!  You all deserve a big pat on the back.  Please take one each out of petty cash.  Just watch where you put your hands.

A whole year??!  Time flies when you’re making fun.  With BrainRants makin’ it look easy, and a daughter who pushed her creaky old father down the slippery slope, I thought I’d have a go at it.  The first thing I learned was that it wasn’t anywhere near as easy as Rants, and some of you others make it look.

Like so many other avocations, I find myself safely in the middle.  The authors, socio-political commentators and humorists among you show me levels to aspire to, though likely never achieve.  I keep up with the other raconteurs, constantly trying to throw in a small ration of humor, even among my rants, as well as interesting and educational, social and geographical trivia.

Never saddled with a need to publish, I started slowly, gradually increasing the pace until I was putting out a post every two days.  I cut that back to every three days when panic ensued about where new topics would come from.  Since I’m writing this before my actual blogiversary, I won’t know the exact count, but it should run about 125 posts in the last year.

Perhaps I’ve been fortunate, but I’ve only encountered a couple of blog sites that I would describe as terrible, one that was an admitted psychotherapy project for a young, female, drug-using runaway.  Another was about the adventures of a young woman trying to find Mr. Right, and too often getting Mr. Right Now.  It began to read like the script from year 18 of a TV soap opera, desperate for followers.  I finally had to give it up when the contradictions and fantastic co-incidences became too much to believe.

I’ve found sites with posts about Popsicle stick carving and salt shaker filling.  Though I see no followers, likes, or comments, there must be at least a few people who stop by to read.  I like to hold my head and my hubris high, and assure myself that, at least I’m not that boring.

Some bloggers post every day, a few, more than once a day, even if it’s just pictures of clouds and a few words.  I still haven’t learned how to insert pictures or videos.  My forte is the (electronically) printed word.  I try to make my posts about something, even when it’s not something important.  It just takes me a couple of days to find each new subject and put together a cohesive story about it.

I try to hold my posts to a maximum of a thousand words.  Even with an interesting post, attention spans and patience start to wear off quickly, much farther than that.  I’ve revisited some of my early posts, and found rookie mistakes, huge paragraphs, half a page long.  It’s a wonder that I managed to garner any followers at all.  I’ve learned tighter, more concise presentation

I liken myself to one of my favorite pop bands, Jethro Tull, the British band with the American name.  Like almost every other English group of the time, they thought they were a “Blues” band.  Their first couple of albums were lame, experienced out of context, and yet they’ve hung in for over thirty years.  They’ve travelled, had fun, made some decent money, and still have long-time fans.  If only I do a quarter as well.

My posts are all free, and I try to ensure that you get full value for what you pay.  What you have paid is, attention….and friendship, and comments and following, and guidance, and encouragement, and compliments, and inclusion.  As I’ve been told, and responded to, the measure of the worth of me and my site, is not in the great numbers of people who only comment, “Nice post.”, but the numbers of great people who have made me one of them, and made the last year a real hoot.  I thank you all – again!

When I published my 100th post, my insecurity had me worrying about where to find grist to mill out a few more.  More and more I feel I’m mostly past that.  I now have about fifteen unpublished drafts ahead, and new thoughts pop up from time to time.  Some of them may seem chronologically misplaced, like when I post about a late September trip in late November, but you guys seem patient with the old fogy.

I count myself extremely fortunate to have found such a circle of great thoughts, in great blogs, by great writers.  I am not what I was a year ago.  I am much improved, and I hope to use your support and guidance to further improve me in the next year.  I hope that my meager offerings have improved my readers’ lives in some small way, and plan to try to increase the dividends.

Excelsior!!