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Cory Doctorow’s WALKAWAY

July 19th, 2017

I really enjoyed Cory Doctorow’s new Walkaway. I think it goes a step beyond any of his previous books. It’s up there with, say, Stross’s Accelerando, Sterling’s Holy Fire, Gibson’s Neuromancer, and my Software. In the cyberpunk pantheon.

I read Walkaway on my Kindle, and I happened to highlight passages that struck me as memorable, and the Kindle has an “Export Notes” feature, so I emailed my highlights to myself, and I’m using them for this instant blog post, adding my annotations, and the usual surrealist potpourri of more or less completely unrelated photos. I’m leaving the highlighted passages in the order in which they appeared in the book, so I’ll be dipping in and out of certain topics several times.

jesus microbes that could turn water into beer

Walkaway starts out with kids at a jokingly named “Communist party,” in an abandoned Muji factory, drinking biotech beer, fabbing free furniture from the machines that Muji happened to have abandoned there. We’re in a post-scarcity future, the three-D-printer-aficionado’s fantasy world where you can “print” or “fab” pretty much anything, even food, supplying your device with low-cost “feedstock.” And you can print out the parts to make new fabbers. Cory explored this idea in his novel Makers. But now it’s just part of the landscape. And we’ve got biotech added in. It’s all quite seamless—people used to praise Heinlein for having his future worlds feel quotidian and everyday…like, people aren’t exclaiming over the goodies, they’re just using them. And that always a thing with Gibson’s books too.

He dewormed his inboxes, flushing the junk and spum. He snooze-barred messages to bug him again later

Cory’s got good future slang here, too, with really a lot of great computer stuff. Like “spum” instead of “spam”. Why? It sounds good.

Asking the zottarich to redeem themselves by giving money away acknowledges that they deserve it all, should be in charge of deciding where it goes.

We’re in a future where, pretty much off camera, a lot of the world is kind of poisoned and trashed due to the irrational exuberance of the Pig. Cory refers to them as the “zottarich.” Meaning “zotta” like a high-number prefix along the lines of giga, tera, peta, exa. Strictly speaking the official International Systems of Units prefixes after exa are zetta, and yotta — but zotta sounds better.

Cory scores point after point against the zottarich. His characters have lots of discussions, and in many books this would kind of kill the rock of the roll, but in Walkaway it feels okay. It’s fun. The conversations are interesting. And I love the points being made. Things that are not being said in public these days.

It was like this the day after a lot of Meta, an over-emotional hangover that made her into a larger-than-life character from a soap.

His walkaway characters are young and rebellious—that classic bohemian, beatnik, hippie, punk, hipster strand of society—and at times they have fun drinking and getting high. And this creates the opportunity for new SF drugs that may or may not be stand-ins for actual drugs. Meta is a nice one, it lets you view everything with a certain irony. (I ricochet to the the Beatles line, “And though she feels as if she’s in a play, she is anyway.”)

put ten and ten together and got one hundred.

Some nice nerd humor now and then. The joke that dare not speak it’s name. The wheeze here is that they’re referring to binary numbers…

I’m groundhog daying again, aren’t I?

Who’s saying this? It’s the character Dis. Her body is dead, but before she died, they managed (thanks to Dis’s work) to copy or transfer the brain processes into the cloud, that is, into a network of computers. And she can run as a sim in there. And she’s having trouble getting her sim to stabilize. It keeps freaking out and crashing. And each time she restarts the character Iceweasel sits there talking to the computer sim, trying to mellow it out, and Dis will realize she’s been rebooted, or restarted like Bill Murray in that towering cinematic SF masterpiece Groundhog Day. And Cory has the antic wit to make that verb.

The first half of the book is kind of a standard good young people against evil corporate rich people thing. But then, when Dis is talking about groundhog dayhing, it kicks into another gear. Cory pulls out a different stop on the mighty SF Wurlitzer organ: the software immortality trope. As I’m fond of saying, in my 1980 novel Software, I became one of the very first authors to write about the by-now-familiar notion of the mind as software. That is, your mind is in some sense like software running on your physical body. If we could create a sufficiently rich and flexible computer, the computer might be able to emulate a person.

There’s been a zillion movies, TV shows, SF stories and novels using this idea since then. What I liked so much about Walkaway is that Cory finds a way to make this (still fairly fantastic and unlikely) idea seem real and new.

you and I are the only people in this place who are cognitively equipped to debullshitify their dumb-ass consensus that the thing that happens to be most convenient is also the most moral.

Now back to the one-percenter zottarich issues. Cory keeps putting his finger on the total bullshit of the power elite. Like if they want to do something it’s automatically moral.

they’d herd-mentality into some fad but pretend it was a newly discovered, ageless universal truth—not product cooked up by one of their own to sell to the rest.

And if they make up some horseshit label for something, it’s supposed to be real and important. Fake news, anyone?

Anything invented before you were eighteen was there all along. Anything invented before you’re thirty is exciting and will change the world forever. Anything invented after that is an abomination and should be banned.

Another rich thing about Walkaway is that it has characters of different ages, and they inform each other very frankly about where it’s at.

You don’t remember what life was like twenty years ago, before walkaways. You don’t understand how different things are, so you think things don’t change that much.

And it’s worth saying over and over that things were not always exactly like the present…and they won’t be at all like this in a hundred or fifty or even ten years. People are so blind! Listen to the SF writers!

convert pigopolist despoilers to post-scarcity Utopians,

Love that glib Sixties-style anti-Pig babble. Reminds me of a Black Panther paper I saw where the metaphor was maintained in extenso, with the “pig” walking on “trotters” and living in a “pen” or a “sty” and so on.

you have to be a mathematician to appreciate how full of shit economists are,

As a math major, I hated economics more than any course I took in college, in fact they almost wouldn’t let me graduate because I stopped going to econ class. And seeing this line in Walkaway, I feel vindicated at last. By the way, Walkaway has a great older woman mathematician character, the lover and then wife of Iceweasel. All kinds of people, and the full spectrum of genders, but done is such a relaxed and non-preachy way.

They have a science-y vocabulary conceived of solely to praise people like your father. Like job creator. As though we need jobs! I mean, if there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s that I never want to have a job again … A ‘job creator’ is someone who figures out how to threaten you with starvation unless you do something you don’t want to do.

Another heavy hit against the Pig. Such a great takedown of the phrase “job creator.”

The moose regarded them for a moment. It had threadbare upholstery spots over its knees. Its shaggy fur glittered with ice crystals. Steam poured out of its nostrils in plumes that swirled in the breeze. Its jaw was ajar, making it look comically stunned, but when she looked into its huge eyes, she saw an unmistakable keenness. This moose wasn’t anyone’s fool. The moose shifted and a large turd plopped into the snow, melting and disappearing, leaving behind a steaming hole. They snickered at the unexpected earthiness. It gave them a look Limpopo read as “Oh do grow up,” though that was anthropomorphizing. It shuffled around in a broad circle, ungainly legs swinging in all directions but somehow not stepping in its own turd crater, turned its broad backside to them and walked—no, sauntered—away with a sway-hipped gait that was pure fucks-given-none.

And amid it all, there’s some really fine and closely observed nature writing. Cory understands that the physical world is beautiful and that it deeply matters.

We’d have a world that belonged to animals, and we’d experience it through sensors that perfectly simulated our wet stuff, but without crushing all those precious roots.

At some point, in the SFnal mania of it all, some of the Walkaway characters start floating the idea that it might be best if all humans uploaded themselves into the cloud as sims—and then politely removed their physical body from the physical earth.

At first when I read this passage, I misunderstood, and thought Cory was saying the sims would live in VR. But no, Rude dawg, Cory is not saying the sims will live in VR, which is the move I’ve seen in some prior tales by others, like sending the disembodied sims of to some bogus pseudo-Valhalla.

Cory gets it about Earth being where it’s at, and the sims will still “be” on earth, but “experience it through sensors that perfectly simulated our wet stuff.” Kind of voyeur relationship. Wearing a cloud condom to protect Earth. Or you can “occupy” devices like machines and e a poltergeist. Or (a move Cory doesn’t choose to make) you could grow yourself a cloned meat body like I was doing in Wetware. And of course that meat body would be “crushing those precious roots” while tromping around. Zottarich postomortem accessory?

Going off an a slight tangent, the reason it’s important not to go for a fake VR land for the sims is that, for basic physics reasons, any conventional computer-based kind of VR is likely to fall yotta short of physical reality. Why? Computers are small and shortlived. The planet is big and old. Probs because scaling. This said, it’s conceivable that a quantum computing matter-computer could make a satisfyingly funky and orgasmatronistic VR. But, uh, physical reality already is in fact a quantum computing matter-computer. So why emulate? Don’t try to fool Mother Nature…make love to her instead. That is, Cory is suggesting you become a happy ghost, slobbering over wet physical quantum computer mother Earth’s heaves and big doings. Maybe there are already ghosts doing this…who the eff knows.

(For background on these issues, see my essay, “The Great Awakening.” And for discussion, see my 2008 blog post, “Limits to Virtual Reality, 2: Answers to Comments”)

This is such a rich vein to mine, and I’m really glad Cory is opening it up a little more. Lots more goodies in there, oh my sistern and brethren.

It was lit with constellations of throwie lights, scattered in smears across the ceiling and walls, and there was a spacie-style adaptive sleep-surface, millions of sensor-embedded foam cells, like a living thing that cuddled and supported you according to an algorithm that second-guessed your circulation, writhing in a way that was disturbing and wonderful.

A wonderful closely-imagined physical SF scene.

Reality had a well-known pessimistic bias,

Great one-liner.

throw up a git to track what’s done and what needs doing

By “git” he means something like the free software sharing platform GitHub. The awareness of actual computing practices is really high in Walkaway.

Software immortality is nice, but if you can save your fleshy bodies, you should.

I agree! There’s so many issues with software immortality. What makes Walkaway so cool is that we get into some of the details of these issues. Like how does it feel to be running in a sim that you know is about to turn off, or…die?

Right at the end, as she was about to go, she let go of all the paramaterizations on her simulation, took the brakes off her emotions, lived the full spectrum of everything she could feel. Should feel. I should feel. Feeling it through her, feeling what she felt at that moment—like the best drugs you’ve ever taken times a thousand. I don’t get to have sex anymore, but this is like the best sex you’ve ever had, times a million. When I turn off my safety bumpers, it’s like I’m tearing through reality, riding a bicycle down a hill, there are trees and rocks and shit, if I hit any one of them, even brush against them, it’s over. For so long as I can steer between them, give my concentration to the problem, I’m going mach five and screaming so loud for joy it’s shattering windows. … So long as I email my diffs before I take off the brakes, it won’t be dying.”

Far out. Kind of an extreme sports death-wish fantasia here. Maybe actual physical death is this exciting? Letting go of all of our mental “bumpers”? And the last line is again a case of Cory being knowledgeable about the computeresque. Your “diffs” are the changes you made in your sim while you were running, and if someone somewhere boots up a new sim of you, then if they can merge in those diffs, the new you you be NuYu.

”Good thinking,” Iceweasel said. “Boys, you want to ride in a zeppelin?” Both boys babbled and shouted. Then Jacob got so excited he punched Stan, because reasons. They tumbled on the floor, punching and shouting.

I like the 21c grammar that Cory uses. That new usage: because [noun].

Everything was intertwingled tensegrity meshes that cross-braced themselves when stressed, combining strength and suppleness.

In one sentence we’ve got a tip of the hat to Ted Computer Lib Nelson (“Everything is deeply intertwingled) and to Bucky Fuller (“tensegrity sphere”). The idea being described here is a bicycle that only weighs a few ounces.

The network interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.

Long live the Web! So what we’ve got here is cool SF and some really harsh and relevant social commentary—highly needed in these darkening days as the pigopolists seek to steamroller our dear Amerika.

Exploding Head

July 15th, 2017

I’ve been in high gear this month. Here’s a picture of me with my head exploding. Or the man standing next to me, as in Dylan’s “Day of the Locusts.” Or something. More details toward the end of this post.

Let’s start with my latest painting.

“MonkeyBrains ISP” acrylic, July, 2017, 40” x 30”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

These days I often start a painting by making spontaneous squiggles, using the paint left over from the previous painting. My initial goals are (a) to cover every bit of the canvas with paint, including the edges of the canvas, (b) to craft an engaging dance of stroke and hue, and (c) stop daubing before the patterns get overly smooth—it takes some restraint to quit in time.

And then I paint something on top of the background. And then it reminds me of something, and I tweak the painting to make it look like whatever I have in mind. For “MonkeyBrains ISP” I was thinking of my son Rudy Jr. and his Internet Service Provider company, Monkeybrains.net, run by Rudy and his business partner Alex. They have a logo that looks like a monkey. And they have about 5,000 wireless dish antennas scattered around multi-culti San Francisco. And from the window of my son’s house, I can see some Wayne-Thiebaud-style loops and ramps of the freeways 280 and 101.

So I made a big, reddish, living, walking building like a giant King Kong ape—with dish antennas, and with the two boss monkeys inside it, and with the diverse heads of their customers outside, and a freeway arcing upwards in back.

What else have I been doing?

Well, I’m all signed on with Skyhorse Publications / Night Shade Books. I sold them nine of my backlist novels plus the legendary and fabled Million Mile Road Trip . Their plan is to release a backlist title in fall 2018, then do one every two to four months and to publish Million Mile Road Trip after about three of the backlist titles, hopefully having stirred up a some interest on the part of new readers with the initial backlist publications.

So we’re looking at my novel coming out in summer or fall of 2019, that is, two years from now. Long wait. But, what the hey, it’s been two and a half years since I started work on MMRT in January, 2015, and now it’s done and it’ll be another two years till it comes out. At least Night Shade has a master plan! And my novel will quietly age for two more years. A fragrant cask of Amontillado.

I spent the whole of June, 2017, and the first part of July, doing final revisions on Million Mile Road Trip before sending it to Cory Allyn and Jeremy Lassen at Night Shade. To start with, I read it, and marked it up, and typed in the changes—to the tune of about fifteen changes per page. And then I worked my way through my accumulated To Do list for the novel, doing global fixes on various plot points. I was working very intensely, like ten hours a day for thirty days in a row.

It always surprises me how few actual deletions and new sentences or phrases it can take to finish off a To Do. It’s like finding pressure points. You find them and do few a light touches, and the problem is healed. Like acupressure. Acuedits. But it takes a while to figure them out. Takes more time than the actual typing involved.

During the week or two while I was doing my acuedit fixes of the To Dos, I felt more intelligent than usual. For that period of time, I had the whole entire 117,000 word novel simultaneously imaged in my brain—and that’s a much larger mental pattern than I can normally keep active at once. Like balancing a tower of plates on sticks on plates, or juggling a whole lot of things at once. Mental exercise at a very high level.

That’s the novel on the left, and me on the high balcony on the right. And I’m the only one who sees that the finished temple is there.

At one point during this process, Sylvia and I were bumming around San Francisco, spending the nights in Rudy Jr.’s temporarily unoccupied house. And we took two free San Francisco City Guides tours, one of Chinatown and one of lower Market Street.

Our guide was a nice woman with a slight New York accent, very hip, but I forget her name, maybe it started with an E. Here she’s showing us a Chinatown alley where the tongs had a brothel and an early 1900s lady called Donaldina Cameron helped the indentured women escape down the fire escape.

At a cafe or on a bench, if there was a lull, I’d get out my traditional pocket-folded scrap of paper and be marking down some ideas about the To Dos and the fixes. At one point Sylvia looks over at me at says, “I can never believe how you can instantly start working at any time.” And it’s because that stuff is flowing along like an underground river in my head the whole time.

I sort of worry about something that can happen with older writers is that, in their later works, they get into what you might perhaps call a Mannerist phase where they are aping and replaying their best bits, riffs they love to do, themes they can’t let go of, reworking them into scenes of unnatural elegance and intellectual sophistication. And wonder if I’m in that mode in my recent books like The Big Aha and now Million Mile Road Trip. I’m working with a high-craft Salvador Dali type polish. Although perhaps Mannerist and even decadent—in the literal sense of being the products of a dying or decaying organism (me)—my current novels seem to me to be of value. Like the fragrant ambergris drawn from a diseased whale.

Well, going a little overboard there. I’m still making great efforts to have my characters be rounded, human, quirky, and empathetic. So maybe I’m beyond Mannerist. I’m Baroque. A.k.a. gnarly.

In the full Salvador Dali Mannerist-Baroque-gnarly mode, I kicked in some new four-dimensional twists for Million Mile Road Trip, and spent a couple of days drawing intricate illos. Like there’s a wormhole or so-called Einstein-Rosen bridge, or “unny tunnel” that connects our normal universe to the alternate universe where most of the book is set. And in this illo shown above you can see heroine Zoe with her trumpet, sliding up from our world to the other one, and a possibly evil saucer and a friendly alien named Yampa sliding down.

Eventually an evil alien bagpipe named Groon wants to slide through the wormhole between worlds. Groon, by the way, is the creature shown further up this page, he’s a giant bagpipe who blats flying saucers from his horn. What, I ask you, can be more evil than a bagpipe?

And this illo shows geeky Scud’s plan for his brother Villy to trap and kill Groon while he’s midway in that tunnel. Villy will be in 4D space with something like a pair of lassos. Zoe will, unfortunately, be trapped in Groon’s stomach at this time.

Explanation by Scud:
“We’ve got Groon embedded in the surface of the tunnel. So the first step is when Groon slides in there and Villy lassoes the two ends. Second step is when Villy tightens up the two ends of the tunnel. And then Groon is—trapped on the hypersurface of a pocket universe. And, ta da, for step three, the pocket universe shrinks on its own. No more Groon!”

My character Zoe is worried about the pictures:
“What’s that woman doing in there?” asks Zoe, an edge in her voice. “Trapped inside Groon’s stomach. Is that supposed to be me? Do you think that’s funny?”

“Well, I mean, these pictures are hypothetical,” says Scud. “The sequence I drew is strictly a worst-case analysis. Consider the pictures a cautionary warning.”


Very meta: A plastic model of a taxidermist in the Qunicy Museum. Taxidermist taxidermy.

Sylvia and I were up Quincy, CA, near the Feather River canyon last weekend for a wedding, a big event, lots of fun, Our humble $90-a-night motel literally had a babbling brook outside the window, We went swimming at a deserted swimming hole under a country bridge, along with our friend Jon Pearce and his wife Debra, it was quite awesome, Birds flying, ripples, marshy plant stalks, lion scat, currents. This is how things should be, is what I think at my rare moments fully in nature like this.

It reminded me an experience I had standing chest deep in the Big Sur river a few years ago, when I was working on my tome, The Lifebox, the Seashell, and the Soul and writing the final ““The Answers” section, which you can click here to read online.

I’d been arguing that “everything is a computation.” And, standing in the river, I realized I was wrong. This voice in my head was saying: “This is WATER, Rudy. WATER.” Which is what the blind and deaf Helen Keller’s teacher signed onto her palm while holding Helen’s arm in the rushing gush from a pump. Not a computation. WATER.

Speaking of water, on the last day in Quincy, after the wedding, Sylvia and I stayed on for an empty day, and ended up driving to the nearby Bucks Lake—we were searching for cool weather there at 5,000 feet, but even so it was 90 degrees. Anyway, we rented a little motorboat and putted over to some empty shore and went swimming, which was great.

And then we drove around the lake and, at the base of the Bucks Lake dam, I came across a drain at the base of the dam, with water shooting out in a staggeringly intense jet. I love it when I see such incredibly rich and gnarly examples of physical computation. Note that I’m not saying the water is, in its deepest essence, a computation. I’m saying it can be viewed as encoding or carrying out a computation–it it stimulates you to look at the world that way. But, again, mainly it’s being water. Presented by the mysterious Lady S.

With the sweetest little pool of mountain irises next to the jet, such clear water, such green leaves. Life is beautiful.

Hooray!

June 26th, 2017

Today I signed a contract selling the print rights for ten of my novels to Skyhorse Publishing, the books to appear under the Night Shade Books imprint, edited by Jeremy Lassen, with the deal negotiated by my agent John Silbersack.

I have some other things to be glad about this week, and I just finished a painting that sums up my feelings. The painting is called Hooray!

“Hooray!” acrylic, June, 2017, Each canvas 40” x 30”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

I’ll say more in a minute about my painting process for Hooray! . But let me tell you about the book deal first. It’s for my new novel Million Mile Road Trip, which I finished a year ago but hadn’t sold yet. At the Locus Christmas party at Ysabeau Wilce’s house in December, 2016, I ran into my old pal Jeremy Lassen, who’d published my novel Jim and the Flims as a hardback at Night Shade Books back in 2011. Since then Night Shade went through reorganization, being bought out by Skyhorse Publishing, and Jeremy is still working there. During the transition I’d reverted Jim and the Flims and published it in paperback and ebooks via my own Transreal Books.


[“Saucer Bagpipe,” the chief villain of “Million Mile Road Trip.”]

Anyway, when I talked to Jeremy in December he liked the sound of Million Mile Road Trip, and he then came up with the audacious plan to publish that novel and, while he was at it, “Get Skyhorse on the Rucker train,” and publish nine of my backlist books (including Jim and the Flims)—the idea being to publish some of the old ones to create a little interest, then come out with Million Mile Road Trip, and then do the rest of those nine back list books. This is to happen during the time frame 2018-2020, roughly speaking.

l

As I mentioned in a recent post, the backlist books are novels that I’ve been publishing via Transreal Books. The Night Shade editions will have new designs and new covers. I’ll no longer be distributing the Transreal editions in print although—and this is a nice thing about the new Night Shade deal—I still own the ebook rights to these books and will continue publishing them in Kindle, EPUB, and other ebook formats.


[Detail of a painting by Chuck Close at SFMOMA.]

Another piece of good news is that a production or metaproduction outfit called GoodWizard has paid me handsomely to renew their option my Ware Tetralogy until December, 2018. I don’t quite get what GoodWizard’s plan is, but if the Wares end up as a movie or a long-form video series, so much the better. My agent for this deal is Marty Shapiro.

More good news is that my wife Sylvia and I just celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. Incredible how the time has accumulated. We’re still having fun. I’m glad we’re together.

We went and spent a couple of nights at the Dream Inn in Santa Cruz. They’ve really fixed the place up since the last time I stayed there, which was some 25 years ago. Very surfistic.


[The new SFMOMA]

Anyway, in case you’re interested, I’ll get back to how I painted Hooray! I started it a couple of weeks ago by laying a big canvas on the ground, and covering it with whitish paint, and then glopping on some big gouts of various shades of cadmium yellow with a lot of liquid medium and gel medium (liquid for smoothness and gel for an impasto look in the strokes), and then I leaned over it and did full-arm swirls and scribbles with a fat brush until I had a nice complicated knot of yellow lines. Put a little blue in there for some green threads too.

When I do this kind of “finger painting” type thing I need to make myself stop sooner rather than later. It’s fun to do it, so I don’t want to stop, but if I do it for too long, the brush strokes get too smeared out and the colors get too homogeneous.

I let the painting dry for half an hour, and then I put in white patches at the more off-road parts of the scribble…the spots that weren’t directly painted over with a big stroke. And I felt it needed a focus so I put a big white patch in the middle. I was thinking at first that I might paint an image of a person or a monster into each oval. Maybe all the faces would be aspects me, or images of the voices in my head. I was in fact feeling kind of down two weeks ago, and I was thinking of the umpteen faces of Rudy as selfish and unpleasant.


[Speaking of unhappy artists, we saw the recent Edvard Munch show at the SFMOMA the other day. This one is called “Ashes.” The artist and his lover.]

Back to Hooray!, three of my grandchildren came over to spend two nights, and I gave each of them a small canvas and I let them use the acrylics off my palette to make pictures of their own. I’d thought I’d work on my painting while doing this, but I couldn’t focus on it, and I ended up offhandedly drawing a kind of big crooked smiley face, but maybe not an entirely happy face. A troubled happy face. I put two expressions onto the mouth.


[First draft of “Hooray!”]

And I didn’t know what to put in the other white patches. But then, as I say, I started getting good news about my publishing, and I got into a good place with Sylvia, what with the anniversary coming, and our daughter Isabel visited. And our daughter Georgia and her family are about to move back to the US after two years in Budapest.


[Isabel and Rudy Jr. at the 5th floor cafe as SFMOMA.]

So by then I was like, yeah, make this a happy painting, with, like, party balloons and confetti and lots of bright yellow.

So that’s what I did…it turned into an abstract art color balancing exercise, juggling the colors of the disks, and layering on more and more and more coats of different shades of yellow for a rich background. The paint store was out of titanium white, and I got an off-white called titan buff instead, and that was a good thing.

One last hooray-type thing to throw in is that I saw our dear friend Michael Blumlein the other day with his wife Hilary, and they’re in a good place. Happy about their grand daughter. Somebody, I don’t remember who, said, “My grandchildren are the one part of the 21st century that I thoroughly approve of.” Life rolls on.

Waiting for my Contract

June 21st, 2017

Nothing much going on. I’m still waiting for the final contract for that ten-book deal I was talking about, that is, for nine of my back-list books plus my new novel Million Mile Road Trip. Meanwhile I’m revising Million Mile Road Trip to the tune of maybe five thousand corrections…that is nearly twenty per page across three hundred pages. Making it better no doubt.

Meanwhile you can still buy the old Transreal Books editions of those nine backlist books.

Here’s some recent photos, in no particular order or higher meaning.

Busy feet in Yerba Buena park near SFMOMA. California summer day with the air like cool water.

Awesome ping-pong table at the Garage Bar on 2nd street in the NuLu district of Louisville, KY. That’s a crushed car under the table.

Wideangle shot of the old SFMOMA entrance hall. I don’t really like the changes they’ve made to the building for the expansion. The elevators are confusing, and there’s no longer a good, big , reasonably priced cafe. Also it’s always too crowded now.

Giant bat at the Louisville Slugger factory/museum on 2nd Street in Louisville. I toured this place in the third grade. They didn’t have the big bat then.

A type of shot I like, shadows on a sunny wall.

Two tourists in a multi-mirror lens. I’m the one on the right. Hockney-ized.

Peaceful hot Louisville space behind the crafts museum. Love the purplish brick and the soft shadows.

Monica Bengoa is a cool Chilean artist, interested in fiber. This is a detail of her installation at the Kentucky museum of arts and crafts…she drew fruits and veggies in pencil on a wall, and overlaid it with embroidery hoops containing very detailed and color-rich photo-real embroideries she made.

Rudy the elder in brother Embry’s house.

Old-school stag-horn punch-bowl from colonial America, seen in Philadelphia.

Antler rack of an animal my brother killed…he’s a hunter.

Cheered me to see my childhood hero Bo Diddley on a Summer of Love poster from San Francisco.

Love this logo at the Los Gatos Farmer’s Market. Reminds me of Heinlein’s novel Starman Jones, where the boy leaves Pa’s farm to serve on a hyperjumping spaceship.

Soft Louisville clouds, with soft old houses.

Me with a something-gon in Hayes Valley. An Archimedean solid, hmm, look it up, it’s the small rhombicosidodecahedron.

Nice graffiti near the >rhombicosidodecahedron. Even the guy who runs a market across the street couldn’t tell me what the words say.

Screen in focus, painters in bokeh, working on our deck and house.

The famed Marcel Duchamp urinal entitled, “Fountain,” mais wee! Actually the original from 1917 was lost, but an art dealer went and found a similar urinal at the dump, and had MD sign it. Now at Philadelphia Museum of Art. A nice shape, although inexpugnably grody.

Going out to beach a lot these days.


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