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Juicy Ghosts is Live

October 19th, 2021

Juicy Ghosts is live.  I sent all the reward copies out to my Kickstarter backers.  It was a lot of work, but well worth it, to know the books are the hands of those who love them.

You, of course, can get your own copies in any format you like at the Juicy Ghosts page.

I celebrated by buying myself a new camera, a Leica Q2, and it kicks ass.  Some non-camera-nut friends were asking me why I’d even use a heavy old camera when I have such a great camera in my cell phone.

“More photons,” I tell them.  “All that glass. It brings in more photons.”

One of my first shots with the Q2. My stash of toys and icons and mementoes on my desk beside my screen. Pig’s Hoard.

And I can grab a pretty good phto right out of the window of my car.  The lens is kind of wide-angle, so I’m free to crop down to an image that I like.

I was in North Beach walking around…we were up there to see the Blue Angels air show, something Sylvia loves.  There’s a cool sculpture of hovering books right near City Lights Books.

And here’s the holy source itself.  I’m proud that a bunch of my SF novels are in there, downstairs.  I always wanted to be a Beat SF writer, and that’s what I am. Juicy Ghosts is maybe my heaviest countercultural statement yet.  I hope people read it.

Something so Forties about big display clocks. And that now-small TransAmerica tower.  I’ve always wondered about the pyramid room at the top…like is there one?  Does anyone ever get to go in there?

I have a great fondness for gnarly knots of wires and fuses and connectors and insulators.  Images of my mind?

And the lovely warm shades of paint in the sun.

I like this image because it looks like the sign is warped or distorted or crushed by sliding space.  Always loved that notion of warped space.  And infinite dimesional Hilbert space, which comes into play in Juicy Ghosts, where I call it teepspace.

Managed to catch a shot of a Blue Angel with a street light behind it, which is good, as it sets the plane into space and gives it scale.  Right before this shot, a similar plane few right over us, banking a turn, not more than 200 feet in the air above us, a moving wall of roaring machinery.  What a trip. You wouldn’t really stand a chance if those planes were after you.

But for the show, theyr’e demure and playful.  Dig the furrow of sky smoke next to the Vic cornice.

“Birth” acrylic on canvas, October, 2021, 40” x 30”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

With the books printed and mailed out, I’ve gone back to painting. For this one, called simply Birth, I started with a group of more or less grotesque heads, like in a James Ensor painting. And I put in a cartoon baby, who’s an icon I’ve been drawing for fifty years. Another factor is that we’d just been to see a big Judy Chicago show in the De Young museum in San Francisco, and she had a whole room of very dramatic birth paintings. So I put in a woman who’s given birth, although I didn’t go as far as Judy does. Who are the other people? I’d say the little guy at the bottom is Dad, and on the left, that’s Sis, and at the top we have Aunt Bea, Grandma, and a 50s Grandpa. Love his hairdo.

When we came out of the De Young, we noticed that a statue was missing…I’d forgetten who it was of, but someone told me it had been Francis Scott Key, author of The Star-Spangled Banner, and he’d been a slave owner, so last year a crowd of demonstrators tore the statue down. Kind of like with Robert E. Lee in Richmond, VA. And then the city put up a ring of “slave” statues around where Key had been. Weird, the changes you see over a long lifetime.

We rode on a big ferris wheel right there. I like the ideogram of the kid’s legs.

I dig this spider-like bench in a meeting room in the De Young.

Colorful feet!

I mentioned that I like photographing wires and meters. Here’s some in Santa Cruz. I tend to crop all the cars out of my photos whenver I can, even if it means tilting the image. Something about generic cars so so boring.

Nice when object look alive. Mop face!

We also hit the good old Rosicrucian World Headquarters in San Jose once again. Always a good place to take a guest. This item here is a classic trop of fantasy fiction: The Door In The Wall. Usually leads to somewhere very cool…and when you back, the door disappears.

I call this photo, “I read the news today, oh boy.

Home-grown heiroglyph of railing-shadows on a hose.

What, another hose picture?  Well, we’ve got the contrast with that lounge-chair wheel, so it’s different.

Awesome shadow on the De Young museum wall.

We went to a game at the SF Giants’ stadium in SF.  I was shooting a lot, and cropping images down later for a zoom effect.  I like these three people.

The huge stadium a titled bowl of fellow humans.

Shooting photos with the Giants’ mascot! I forget what he is.  A rat? A seal?

This cotton candy hawker in back is kind of classic.  Working hard.

“High Five” acrylic on canvas, September, 2021, 30” x 24”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

This was one of those paintings I started by smearing leftover paint onto the canvas and looking for patterns. I saw the woman, and a caveman-like guy. Maybe he’s a lifeguard. The woman like him; they’re exchanging a high five. What about the crocodile? Well, I needed something on that side of the canvas. The croc the woman’s ally.

As you know, if you follow my blog, I love gnarly roots. I’ve photographed these guys before, but the Q2 pops them out really well.

Philodendron with a little sculpture we got from Sylvia’s father.  Made of alabaster and marble.

The endless fascination of mirrors.  I’ve been thinking about how the sea surface looks like a mirror from underneath…like to a fish, it’s an unduating mirror.  And then sometimes … a pelican bursts through! Snappy beak.  This is kind of a SF/fantasty trope.  The monsters from higher dimensions who enter your room through a mirror.

Another shot I’ve done before, but once more with feeling.  Sunrise shadoes on the wall.  Domestic Stonehenge.  That’s a silhouette of a Deco sculpture by my friend Vernon Head on the left.

And I’ve photographed this birch for before.  This shot is acutally not with the new Q2 but with an old R-series Leica lens adapted to sit on my Canon 5D.  In case you care.  It’s a very kludge setup, though that Leica glass is gorgeous…and this experiment in fact drove me to the Q2.

Broomsticks? Happy Halloween.

And don’t forget to read Juicy Ghosts!  Universal ebook buy link.

Jump Cuts

September 11th, 2021

This post is mainly made of excerpts from my novel Juicy Ghosts, now available in paperback and ebook. Check the Juicy Ghosts page for details. What a long, strange trip it’s been — two years in the writing.

I have a lot of nice photos around; I’ve been using some new techniques of late, shooting in higher resolution with larger cameras, and processing the images with some Leica-style presets.

Before starting on the the Juicy Ghosts excerpts, here’s my latest painting. I was standing in Lake Tahoe—before the fires—looking down at the bright curves made by the sunlight passing through the surface waves.

Mathematicians call those lines “caustics,” from Latin for “burning,” because the lines are a bit warm, due to the focus of the sun. (No connection with the fires.)

There weren’t actually any minnows, but I put them in. I like to have critters in my stories and in my paintings. More info on my Paintings page.

“Minnows and Caustic Curves” acrylic on canvas, August, 2021, 30” x 24”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

The Excerpts.

The way I organized today’s blocks of text was to search through Juicy Ghosts for all occurrences of the phrase “jump cut,” which I’ll format as bold monotype so you can easily notice it. It’s a phrase that relates to the experience of switching your free-floating digital soul (or lifebox, as I call it) from an old body to a new body, or to a new peripheral. I label each of the extended excerpts with the point-of-view character. Mostly it’s Maurice, who thinks about jump cuts a lot.

And by the way, Jilljill is Marice’s “lifebox”, a small slug-like kritter that contains the code for Maurice’s soul.

Note that, because I have so many pictures to show you, most of the excerpts are interrupted in the middle by an extra image or two.

Maurice 1.

Leeta and Gee keep saying my lifebox will give me immortality. At the very least, my lifebox will be able to imitate me, and to act like an online chatbot. It’ll be an interactive Meet-the-Black-Liberator thing. Maurice Winch, martyred hero of the second American Revolution.

I like this scenario, I have to admit. I keep running it in my head. “Tell us what it was like to take down Ross Treadle,” the admiring users will say to my memorial chatbot. They’ll be in tears. “Oh thank you, Maurice,” they’ll sob. “You’re my greatest hero!”

But will having a lifebox make up for my body being dead? Gee and Leeta hint that it will, but I don’t believe them. It’s a pipedream. A con. Like telling a loyal congregation that they’ll live in heaven. From what I’ve seen, dying is like a jump cut in a video, but with nothing on the other side of the jump. Bang, you’re dead.

Maurice 2.

My vision grows dark. I’m an empty husk, a ruptured piñata—poisoned and bleeding. And, ah yes, there’s the matter of the Secret Service. They’re good shots. Maybe Carson Pflug and the Top Party paid them off, but right now the agents have got to do their thing. For the sake of appearances. For an orderly transition.

I go down in a hail of bullets, limbs flailing, flesh torn. A fitting end.

Last thought? I hope the wasps sting Treadle. And then I’m dead.

At this point my narrative has a glitch. Remember the jump cut thing I was talking about? Well, it turns out that, for me, there is some action on the other side of the jump. Granted, the all-meat Maurice Winch is terminally inoperative. But—

I wake, confused. I look down into myself. I seem to have my same old white-light soul—and that triple-loop sense of me watching me watching the world.

So, fine, I’m alive, but I seem to be hallucinating. I feel like I’m in a crumbling old Victorian mansion with junk in the rooms, and with paintings leaning on the walls, and doors that don’t properly close. There aren’t any windows. Somebody’s in here with me. A jittery silhouette against a glowing Tiffany lamp. Gee Willikers. This is a teepspace version of the cave where Gee lives.

“See, Maurice?” says Gee. “It works. Play it right, and you’ll keep going for centuries.” A compulsive snicker. “Def cool, Mr. Guinea Pig.”

I try to form words. “Where…”

“You’re a parasite, dude. Roll with it. A lifebox with a psidot connected to a wasp. You need that live host so you have some mind glow, right? Huffing that mysto life-force steam.”

I’m having trouble keeping up. “Wasp?”

“Duh? The one you stuck Jilljill on?” Gee makes a trumpeting sound with his lips, then speaks again. “Juicy ghost! You hopped onto a host! The wasp is your peripheral!”

Maurice 3.

My compound eyes are hypervigilant, watching for hungry birds, but there’s none around. I make my way into a residential neighborhood northeast of the Capitol. I fly until it shades from gentrified to tumble-down. I spy a mutt on a cushion in a back porch. A collie-beagle mix, mostly cream-colored, with an orange ear and a big orange spot on his back like a saddle.

There’s noise all over the neighborhood, and people are running around cheering. The news is out. But that dog looks like he’s sound asleep.

Gently, gently I land beside his head. Mustn’t wake him or he’ll start snapping at me. Hell, I’m a two-inch wasp! Moving with an insect’s robotic deliberation I stilt-walk along the dirty sofa cushion into the shadow of his floppy orange ear. I spot a waxy patch of bare skin within.

“Hop,” I tell Jilljill.

Another jump cut. And then, yes, my mind is percolating into the dog’s nervous system. I’m in.

I stand, shake my body, and bark.

Joyful. Free.

I’m still linked to my lifebox code on Gee’s server—gotta be, because that’s my mind. And I’m linked to dog’s nervous system too—he’s my body, my nose, my eyes, my juice. And, if I understand the situation correctly, my lifebox generates virtual neurochemicals to emulate the moods that flicker in the dog.

[Home made “Superballs,” made with a Bill Gosper recipe, using Momentive RTV-88 Silicone Rubber Compound (with hardener) from Very expensive, about $200 for two cans, but exciting to make (using sliced-open tennis balls as molds).]

Maurice 4.

But—wait—all at once someone grabs my collar. It’s not Loranda, it’s some random brother. Jilljill flashes me the news that the man is an underground agent too, a Black man working for the Citadel Club, sent in at the same time as the maroon thudhumper.

I’m going ki-yi-yi as loud as I can. Loranda’s Mom is hollering at the underground agent. Loranda shoves the man. Mom punches him in the gut. The agent’s grip weakens. I twist free. And here comes my terrier prof, right on me, nuzzling my ear.

“Hop!” I tell Jilljill.

She’s ready for the move, out on the edge of Woofer’s ear.

jump cut!

Jilljill has fastened herself to the terrier’s tongue. I’m in.

Maurice 5.

My name is Cuthbert. Keeping my psidotted tongue in my mouth, I trot over to my owner, a lean, dapper brother with horn-rimmed glasses and a drop-dead-elegant light-weight tweed suit. He’s sitting on a bench, enjoying the sqwonks of an impromptu jazz band. I take shelter under the bench, behind his fine leather shoes, looking around. I know the satellite’s still watching. They will think of the terrier. I need to hop some more.

Here comes a poodle, peering under the bench, sniffing me. I lick her nose.

jump cut.

I’m Fifi now. My mistress walks me off. Madame pauses so her Fifi can greet a passing stray.

jump cut.

The stray takes me into some dense bushes where homeless mutts with no collars are eating garbage, digging holes, growling, napping, and fitfully trying to mount each other. These dogs are unseen by the eye in the sky. Just to keep moving, I hop over to one of them, with Jilljill landing on the bare skin inside his ear.

I urge my latest host into a culvert beneath the railroad tracks and pause to look things over. I’m a glossy, medium-size, short-haired, warm-colored hound with a tail that I hold shamelessly high. I’m what people call a yellow dog.

I’ve never much liked yellow dogs, but I try not to communicate this to my host. He doesn’t have a formal title, so I name him after certain sound that he makes. Shrill Yelp. I check back in with Gee.

Maurice 6.

I hear yipping and the jingling of collar tags. Friedl! Body low, I skulk to the hole in the fence and peer through. There’s Friedl, shiny in that greasy, dachshund kind of way. She’s a nice chestnut color, with fine features and golden highlights. She’s in the middle of the lawn, slightly hunkered to take a pee.

“Get ready,” I teep to Jilljill. She creeps out to the edge of my ear.

I wriggle most of the way through the hole in the fence, then pause, flat on my belly. Friedl goes on the defense. She barks staccato-style, her voice high. She makes a run at me, coming to a stop three feet away. She braces her legs, and lowers her head. Her barking grows more furious. The housekeeper’s not bothering to come out. Probably Friedl has a fit like this every time she goes outside.

I tense my muscles and spring. Friedl doesn’t expect this. She’s surprised how large I am. She squeals and turns to flee, but I’m on her. I knock her onto her side. I rub my head against hers. Ear to ear.

jump cut.

Jilljill is in Friedl’s ear, and my mind is in Friedl. I trot quietly toward the house. I sense that the cat is still watching me, but I can’t quite see where she is. Never mind. My dachshund body language is, like, What barking? Me? Nothing going on here. For his part, Shrill Yelp decides this a bad scene. He’s goes out through the hole and trots off down the alley.

At first I can’t get up the back porch steps, but then I relax and let Friedl do it. She knows how. She moves like an old-time Slinky toy in reverse. At the top, Friedl scratches the door. And here’s the housekeeper, a sister in jeans and a turtleneck. Candace.

She gives me a nice smile and hands me a dog treat—a little baked biscuit in the shape of a bone. I savor the sensations of Friedl crunching it up.

Maurice 7.

I stretch my neck as far as I can. Lucy Popham giggles. I angle my elegant snoot and give the back of Treadle’s neck a quick, wet lick, during which Jilljill detaches herself from me.

jump cut.

I’m in a zone of chaos—experiencing the world from Jilljill’s point of view. She and Wladimir are in a micro Sumo wrestling match on the nape of the neck of the clone of the assissnated President Ross Treadle—the psidots squeezing each other and pulsing energies back and forth: brainwaves, electrical sparks, and quantum fields.

In my teepspace lifebox-mind, I visualize the fight as a 3D abstract painting with collaged-in scenes from my life and from Treadle’s life, with a thunderstorm all around, and random dachshund emotions mixed in. I hear the keening of a whirlwind. A narrow Kansas-style twister amid swirling debris. I go toward it.

Something crude and stupid tries to get in my way. Wladimir. I see him as a boxy tank with a cannon. But Jilljill—Jilljill is like a sea anemone. She wraps her tendrils around Wladimir, squashes him against her soft mouth, and assimilates his ID.

Mary 1.

Mary takes a running jump toward Gee’s square hole—stretches out her arms and straightens her body as if for a racing dive. Lanky Gee scoots to one side so she can freely arrow through. Then Gee brings himself back into view so he can yell at Carson and, yes, give him the finger.

“We’re gone.”

The square, green portal shrinks and disappears, with Mary and Gee inside.

And in this instant, the full code of Mary’s lifebox is ported from the giant baguette in the Skyhive blimp hanger to—the verdant computational tissues at the core of Gee’s giant redwood server tree. Mary barely feels it happening. It’s one of those jump cut things.

She and Gee float companionably in pleasant green light. Faint gurgles. A sense of turgid plant cells, of phloem, of ribosomes and mitochondria, of root hairs and fragrant bark. Faint writhing tendrils all around. A jungle of light.

“Welcome to my redwood server,” goes Gee.

Mary 2.

Gee gives her a penetrating look. “Can you grasp that you’re behaving like a soulless AI?” He pauses, thinking. “I bet this is because your halo isn’t emulating the emotions that live in your clone. Your body has normal human feelings, and its gossip molecules are sending the mood templates to your lifebox. But you’re not processing the templates. My fault. I forgot to put emotion-emulation code into your halo.”

“Clear as mud,” goes Mary.

“Hold still. I’ll fix you.”

Gee stares at Mary, mentally reaching through her eyes to the halo disk above her head. He’s using the full force of his considerable teep. To Mary it feels like a mechanic is poking around in her mind. A quantum mechanic.

And then—oops—she fucking dies for a second. That is, the whole scene blinks off. A surprise jump cut. Don’t worry, folks! She boots back up—feeling way mellower than before. More humane. More truly juicy.

“What is love?” Mary warbles. “Five feet of heaven in a ponytail!” She’s quoting from a song in the seemingly endless archives that her ionic quantum-wireless-equipped halo can access in the cloud.

“This is good,” says Gee. “The old Mary.”

“I’m not old,” says Mary. “I’m me.”

Kayla 1.

I’m still seeing through Phil’s night-vision eyes via teep. We’re staring at the flappy. It’s a glowing magenta buzzard, gliding down and clutching a golden egg in its claws. A bomb like the one that killed Carson.

I scream, and Phil yells even louder—which is maybe the response Maurice has been waiting for. And now, finally, at the very last possible nanosecond, our unseen partner Molly delivers another Metatron lightning bolt and—


Charred fat-crinklings from the annihilated flappy drift by. Maurice turns our thudhumper dark again, speeds on up the hill at a hundred and twenty miles per hour, and switches his communications to a fully-cloaked dazzle mode that, among other things, breaks my teep connection.

jump cut.

My heart is pounding. I’m on my couch in my tame and well-appointed San Lorenzo home.

I go look in on Daia and she’s sleeping on her back with her arms stretched up—like a little letter Y. My romantic meal for two is intact on the stove, if a bit tired-looking by now. I flop back onto the couch, slowing coming down from the staccato, frantic chase-scenes with Maurice. Phil is still out there, in it for real. I count the minutes till he arrives. If he arrives.

Molly 1.

The crowd’s noise continues rising. They’re united by a single purpose—to burn Gee’s server tree. They cheer the flames as if hailing the Golden Calf.

Maurice drops to his knees and clasps his upraised hands, supplicating Kayla. “You know. Don’t hold out on Maurice. If you don’t help, I’m done for. Final jump cut.”

Maurice flings himself onto his back and lies there, motionless, arms and legs askew. I’m enjoying the show. I’ve never met anyone who can lay it on as thick as Maurice. And—as I mentioned—I’m not super uptight about the outcome, what with me having a server-free halo for my lifebox. But I do have a heart. Even after a year and a half of distributed storage in teepspace. Even after a sextillion-fold brain amplification. I’m still human, in a way.

Finale (No jump cut).

Back in Gee’s grove, it’s time for high tea. We graze on another big spread in the clearing, bopping around and chatting and splashing in the creek, the ten of us.

Me and Liv. Gee and Mary. Kayla, Daia and Phil. Maurice. Anselm. Leeta. All of us but Daia have halos.

“What about us?” parps Miss Max. “What about Glory, Bunter, and me?”

“Yes,” says Gee. He fetches two spare psidots and slaps them onto the ball walkers—till now, they’d been getting along with old-time uvvies. And Gee’s Bunter already has a psidot. But none of them have halos.

Mary waves, whistles, and teeps to get the attention of the last three unattached halos who are in the grove. They skim over and—link with Miss Max, Glory, and Bunter. The kritters chortle and do flips, even Bunter.

And now the only halos in the grove are the dozen linked to our party.

Mary and Kayla find a fiddle and a mandolin in Gee’s cave, and they begin to play. We dance in rounds beneath the trees, sidling along, with Mary and Kayla weaving their harmonies, me carrying Daia, the ball walkers handling percussion, and all of us stepping to the beat.

I lose myself in the dance. Timeless joy. No more Top Party to worry about. No more Treadle legacy. No more enslaved souls. None of that is coming back.

We’re on a better path.

“Onward Foo the Throg!”

August 21st, 2021

Kind of at loose ends this August.  I’m doing a lot of work to get my Juicy Ghosts books out.  I had a great Kickstarter campaign for the novel, and lined up about 300 backers.  I’m doing final edits on the novel and on the accompanying volume of notes.  And I printed some preliminary proof copies. I’m hoping to send the print and ebook editions out to my backers at start of October…and the books and ebooks will be on sale then as well.

Correcting manuscripts is kind of strange.  It’s like a fractal that you just zoom into deeper and deeper forever.  Like, I’ll think the novel is perfect, and then I set it aside for a month or two, and I decide, well, why not reread it one more time, and, wow, I find so many things to fix.

For the latest edit, I read the book backwards, that is, read the last chapter, then the second-to-last chapter and so on.  Somehow that made me more aware of the prefigurings, and info-dumps, and flashbacks—reminding me to adjust them.

Also, there’s the thing that if you always copy edit your novel from the first page to the last, then the early pages end up getting more attention and focus on your part. I think it was Borges who wrote about a medieval scholar who wanted to write an ecyclopedia of all human knowledge, and it came out to two volumes: the first for the letter A, and the second for the letters B through Z.

Dig this cool picture of my shadow in the basement, with the far-out trihedron of bright 3d-space axes.  Years ago, I had an unassuming philosophy professor friend in Virginia, and we liked to talk about Zen, and about enlightnment, and he said he’d had a moment of satori once,  sitting in his living room, looking up at a corner of the room, with the two walls meeting the ceiling, and he’d had this powerful flash concerning the three lines where the walls and the ceiling met.

That is, he had a vision of the axes extending outward through endless intergalactic space, into the far reaches of the universe, these distanced touched by the three humble lines anchored right here in his living room with him. And at the time I was dismissive of my modest friend’s enlightenment, but over the years I’ve come back to it over and over, and now I think it’s very heavy and cool.  I was thinking about my friend when I took this photo.

Sylvia and I went up to Lake Tahoe for three nights and daughter Isabel and son Rudy Jr showed up as well.  I always forget how really beautiful Tahoe is.  The water is  unbelievably clear, even now. And you’ve got the range of the Sierras right across the lake, so imposing.  A lot of the boats look kind of the same right now, they have this skunk-stripe on their sides, making them look very speedy.

Here’s one of my habitual rectangular-composition shots, this one of a pair of doors in Los Gatos.  Finally the cafes are open, more or less, and I can sit outside them at least, although inside not so much.  I used to do a lot of my writing in cafes, and I’ve missed that.  I’m in the process of trying to get a new laptop, as the old laptop’s keyboard is falling apart from me writing two or three novels on it. But the laptops I’m getting via mail-order keep needing to be send back to fix factory defects. At least my old one still works a little.

Fellow SF writer Marc Laidlaw braved the COVID and came to visit.  Our last collaboration was on a really great story called “Surfers at the End of Time.” It appeared in Asimov’s in 2019, and you can read it online on my Complete Stories page.

We went to visit Isabel up on Fort Bragg, CA, where she now lives. Lovely misty morning here, on cliffs by the beach by the raging sea.  The sound of the surf is endlessly soothing.

Also somewhat exotic, though closer to home, are the palms the front of  Los Gatos High School, as viewed while lying on my back.

I recently sold a 2016 acrylic painting of mine to man in Brooklyn via my Paintings page.  The painting is called “Attack of the Giant Saucers,” and it’s inspired by a scene in my novel Million Mile Road Trip, where giant saucers come and attack during the graduation at dear old Los Gatos High…where we saw our three children graduate over the years.  Believe it or not, this is the 78th painting I’ve sold. Kind of  incredible.  Even so, thanks to my perennial imposter syndrome on all fronts, I still feel like I’m not a real painter.

Speaking of art relating to my writing, my SF fan and ubergeek Chuck Shotton used a 3D printer to make me an articulated slug with linked segments.  The kritter makes a nice rattling sound when I move him around. I had a lot of “skugs” like him in my curiously neglected masterpiece Turing & Burroughs.

Driving back from Fort Bragg, we stopped at a state park whose name I naturally don’t remember…it’s just south of the bridge in Route 1 where the road from Booneville intersects.  This beach was so huge and utterly deserted, kind of spooky almost, and with that wild natural bridge out at the horizon, too far to walk to across the sand, at least too far for us.

Another high point of this drifty August was going to get my haircut by Alicia, who’s been cutting my hair and Sylvia’s for ten or more years.  She’s a very energetic woman, and has decorated her studio to a fare-the-well. It was my first haircut in well over a year. Nice to get away from the bowl look.

Futuristic blob vehicles on a grass-blade highway.  Or morning dew at Pudding Creek Beach behind the great Beachcomber motel just north of Fort Bragg.

Another random shot at the L. G. High School, of the evening sun slanting through an oak onto the lawn.  Ah, California. Each leaf a tiny stained glass window.  I wish I could “disappear” the car.  I don’t like having cars in my photos.

We get down to Santa Cruz every week or two, trying not go on weekends, when there’s traffic, also trying to go before the inrushing wind rises to brutal gale-force in-your-face levels in the afternoon.  This means there’s often a slot for having lunch at good old Aldo’s near the  marina.  I love naturally-occuring curves, as they’re more complicated than mathematical curves, that is, they have bends in them and deviations from infinitely differentiable smoothness.

I have a huge thing about the patterns light makes when passing through water. Like the nonstandard lens warping shown above. And, shown below, the reticulated bright lines are called caustic curves, where “caustic” relates to “burning,” and the focused light makes slightly hot (if not actually burning) spots.

I think I’ll try to copy this for my next painting.  And then, if I can’t stop myself, I’ll add a few kritters.

The sensual, dark, mermaid rock bathing in the clear water.

We were lucky at Lake Tahoe in that we were there during a four-day window when there weren’t nearby forest fires, and the sky was clear.

I’m a sucker for “me and my shadow” shots.  Nice to get my feet in here. And good to have the shadow go off at a slight angle.  In some children’s books, shadows come unstuck from their owners.  Like maybe you use special scissors to snip them loose.

Back on the theme of wildfires, the sun (and the moon) are getting pretty orange these days, espeically at rise and set.  I saw in the paper that before people settled in California, about a million acres burned in wildfires every year.  A natural cycle.

And now we’re so uptight about the fires, and the TV is yelling at us about them.  But they’re natural, and they’re never going to go away, so I’m beginning to just think, “Well, it’s fire season again.”  Not that I lack sympathy for those who lose homes or even lives.  And not that I don’t worry about  my own house, and I do take some brush-cutting measures.

But I’d like to avoid desperation and hysteria and frantic worrying about the future. So many quicksands and vortices of terror to avoid.  So important to continue to live one’s own life.

But what do I know.  Sylvia took a nice photo of me with her new iPhone 12 this morning.  We lighten the load of the pandemic with little outings and treats.

Let’s wrap it up with this salutary Pacific Islands sculpture of a horse at the Cantor Museum in Stanford which was, blessedly open last month.

Onward foo the throg!

Self-Pub My JUICY GHOSTS Novel

July 26th, 2021

I finished my Juicy Ghosts novel that I’ve been posting about for the last two years. My agent and I sent the Juicy Ghosts manuscript to three smallish publishers who are that crucial notch above being “small presses.”. The first two never answered. And the third said no, he thought the political assassination stuff was too much. The removal of the fictional President Ross Treadle, that is.

[Surrealism alert: many of my blog illos have little or no logical connection with the adjacent text. The paintings of mine that appear are for sale on my Paintings page]

210. “Althea’s Friends”” Acrilyc on canvas. Painted with Althea Lasseter, July, 2021, 30” x 24”.

That Treadle part was the first bit I wrote, early in 2019 and I put it in a (I then thought) standalone short story called “Juicy Ghost” that no zine would publish so in June, 2019, I put it put it on my blog, and that October the cool underground SF ezine Big Echo published it too. And then I was paranoid that “they” would come “get” me, but they never did—or they haven’t yet. So here I am, still squawking.

I explain about the book in this pitch video below, not that you have to listen to it right now. Scrolling down through this post might be more fun.

The “pitch” aspect has do with the fact that I’m self-publishing my novel with my Transreal Books imprint, and raising money for it via Kickstarter.

I could have dipped down to smaller and smaller presses for Juicy Ghosts, but, as with my other recent “Rucker late style” novels Turing & Burroughs, The Big Aha, and Return to the Hollow Earth, I decided I’d rather self-publish it with good old Transreal Books. And get some righteous bucks via a Kickstarter campaign. And not have to beg. And no have to wait.

In any case, my agent John Silbersack told me the real problem with selling Juicy Ghosts novel was that the sales of my previous novel Million Mile Road Trip were terrible. Maybe nobody really cares about my politics. That part’s like…compared to what?

Million Mile Road Trip did get some great reviews, but it didn’t catch on at all. Maybe the COVID plague hurt our sales, with all the bookstores closed? But MMRT didn’t even sell many ebooks.

Anyway, it turns out my Kickstarter for Juicy Ghosts is doing really well, way better than my earlier ones. A pleasant surprise. Happy days here at Rucktronics World Headquarters.

I think people are hungry for a novel that features the killing of an evil President. Pent up demand! Have a seat in Rudy’s magic Dream Chair.

I designed a cover, and graphic-designer daughter Georgia polished it up a bit this wekeend. I used one of my paintings for the background. And my old freelance proofreader Michael Troutman went through the novel for me—he has a very good eye.

My agent may yet sell it as an audiobook, or in Europe. And some publisher might reprint it in a few years. But for now the main thing is to put it out there. The career secret: Keep it bouncing. Along the way I wrote a book-length volume of Notes along with the novel.

Juicy Ghosts is about politics, telepathy, and immortality. I started it in 2019, as a reaction to Donald Trump’s repeated remarks that he planned to be a three-term president. That pushed me over the edge.

And then, like I said, I started with a short story called “Juicy Ghost.” Rebels bring down an insane, evil President who’s stolen an election. They sting him with a lethally tweaked wasp, erase the online backup of his mind, and explode his clone. Too much? It’s hard to stop, when you’re having this much fun! Over the next two years, my story grew into a novel. I had to write it. I wanted to stand and be counted.

So, yes, Juicy Ghosts is a tale of political struggle—but it’s more than that. It’s hip and literary, with romance and tragedy. Plus gnarly science, and lots of funny scenes. I used a loose, say-anything style. The point-of-view characters are outsiders and slackers. The majority of them are women, and they give the tale a grounded tone.

Here’s a kid I saw on Seabright Beach in Santa Cruz.

And here’s my painting of him.

207. “Beach Morning” Acrylic on canvas. June, 2012, 30″ x 24″. Click for a larger version of the painting.

Back to the Juicy Ghosts rap.

We’ll see commercial telepathy, or teep, before long. And we’ll want a channel that’s richer than text and images. Users might transmit templates for the neurochemicals that are affecting their current mood. Your friends feel your pheromones! In Juicy Ghosts, people do this with gossip molecules, which are nano-assemblers with tiny antennas. Keeping an astral eye on the neighbors.

I’ve been writing about digital immortality since my early cyberpunk novel Software. The idea is to represent a soul by a digital program and a data-base, calling the construct a lifebox.

But in Juicy Ghosts a lifebox needs to be linked to a physical body. It’s not enough to be a ghost—you want to be a juicy ghost, baby. The linked body might be an insect or an animal or a biotweaked bot—but high-end users will have tank-grown clones.

209. “Loplop” Acrylic on canvas. June, 2012, 24″ x 18″. Click for a larger version of the painting.

Lifeboxes and clones will be expensive, so most people will settle for free lifebox storage provided by tech giants. The catch is that if you accept this free service, you’re obligated to do gig-work for the company—as a bodyguard, a chauffeur, a maid, of a factory worker. Typical of our times!

I like happy endings. I’d rather laugh than cry. My characters destroy the evil President’s political party, topple the pay-to-play immortality racket, and provide everyone with free lifeboxes and physical bodies. Ta-da!

Notes for Juicy Ghosts came out to be a book-length volume as well, actually a bit longer than the novel. It includes plans, journal material, research, and writing notes. The Notes also covers the six short stories I wrote and published while working on the novel.

Notes for Juicy Ghosts has thirty illustrations, including drawings, photos, and seventeen paintings I did while writing the novel. In the Collector’s Edition hardback of it, the illos for Notes for Juicy Ghosts are in color. Fun to do these kinky kooky book design things when you self-pub. Like Virginia and Leonard Woolf with the Hogarth Press, right.

209. “Self-Portrait with Mandelbrot Set UFO” acrylic on canvas, 40″ x 30″, July, 2021. Click for a larger version of the painting.

The image above says it all. A painting I did this month, where a complex cubic Mandelbrot fractal is connected to a bunch of critters. It’s based on a fractal I found inside my computer.

The thing in the painting is kind of like a multibody juicy ghost! The divine Oversoul. With me at the bottom there, smiling.

Finis coronat opus, y’all.

And Sammy the broken kelp-float muppet-head says “Me skzt zbtx with you!”

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