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Bottom of the Year

Here I am on January 1, 2017. Such a futuristic 21st Century date. I’m glad I’ve made it this far. 70 years old now. Insane. The future isn’t exactly what I expected. I’m glad there’s still no flying cars. Can you imagine the noise, with those suckers flying over your house? And I’m still stunned by the power of smart phones + the web. A universal library in your pocket.

Today I’ll just post my accumulated photos from the past month with comments, running them (approximately) from the more recent to the older ones. Themes will emerge.

Sylvia shot this yesterday, me with daughter Isabel at the Cirque du Soleil in San Francisco. A great show, very warm and human-scale, lots of singing, dancing, and clowning along with the acrobatics. At one point they used a new tech gimmick I’d never seen—kind of a line printer that uses falling water.

Here’s a photo of an instant when the water had been selectively turned on and off to make the silhouteet of a wind-up key like you’d use for an old spring-based toy. A wall of falling water with gaps in the water made by the hundred or so nozzles dripping the water at the top…the nozzles turning on and off. Like a dot-matrix line printer, only the dots are falling drops of water and the paper is the 100 foot gap between the nozzles and the stage. In this image all the nozzles have been off for a second so there’s a big blank gap above the key.

Day before yesterday we were at good old Four Mile Beach in Santa Cruz. Some good waves out there. Two satisfied surfers going home. I’m reading a very interesting surf memoir called Barbarian Days, by William Finnegan. Marc Laidlaw gave it to me on ebook.

Marc and I completed a new Zep & Del surfing SF story this month and sold it to Sheila Williams at Asimov’s SF. It’ll come out sometime this spring or summer, I assume. The story title is “@lantis,” Marc’s clever pun expressing the fact that the story is about a computer biz guy who wants to rip off the lost kingdom of Atlantis.

My computer has two RAID hard drives which cover me in case one of the hard drives dies. And that happened a couple of weeks ago but, oddly, it took me a couple of days to realize that was what had happened, as the computer was still almost, sort of working, most of the time—so I spent a lot of time under my desk, butt in the air, sweating it. So nice when everything starts working again. Like recovering from a brain disease.

Apropos of that, here’s an amusing shot of me playing mad scientist with an offbeat art installation I saw with Greg Benford in the Cantor Museum at Stanford about ten years ago. Greg took the picture with my camera.

I found a drawing on my son’s living-room floor and one of his fourth-grade daughters told me (somewhat loftily) that it was by a first-grade friend of theirs. I liked the composition.


“Red Scribble” acrylic on canvas, June, 2016, 16” x 20”.

So I copied it, sort of, for a small painting. Very, very hard to draw like a child.

Sylvia got some narcissus bulbs going. I recall the title of, and (just now) look up, a Dylan Thomas poem: “The force that through the green fuse drives the flower.” Wild poem, hard to understand. I’ve been reading a complete collection of Dylan Thomas’s stories—inspired to get the book by hearing some phrases from “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” at a Christmas show we saw. His stories are much simpler than his poems.

I love that little alabaster dancer statue too. Translucent.

I started thinking about the brand name Clabber Girl, for a type of baking powder. Baking powder is kind of like baking soda, but it has some acidic thing in it so that it doesn’t give a bitter taste (as you’ll find in a badly made scone). At one time they used clabber (which is a type of curdled milk) to mollify the baking soda. But…to call someone Clabber Girl? So weird. I got obsessed with that name and used it for a hardbitten punk character in a short story called “Fat Stream.” Sent it off to an online zine.

We were in Cruz another time this month, went by the arcade at the Boardwalk amusement park and out on the pier.

Nothing so romantic and photogenic as an amusement park in winter.

The great empty arcade with the plump Egyptian-style columns, nice and Deco. California sun.

The sea lions nap under the pier, love how this guy (gal?) has his/her flippers tucked tight against the bod for max warmth. Investing a fifth of your body weight into subcutaneous fat is a good move if you’re gonna swim in that full-body-ice-cream-headache water.

Three of my Brooks Brothers shirts in the sun, a satisfying sight, old wastrel prep that I am.

Here’s a young elf of my acquaintance vanishing into the subdimensions.

Which reminds me of the very first story in the Flurb online zine that I edited for a few years starting in 2006. “Elves of the Subdimensions” by Rudy Rucker and Paul Di Filippo. A timeless work of art. For some odd reason Paul and I couldn’t place this in a commercial SF zine. Maybe it was that one of the characters had, if memory serves, sex with a squirrel?

A shot from the Santa Cruz arcade. Love that old-school stuff. The engine of a UFO.

And me with the UFO itself. Laidlaw thought the name on the device was “Spacef*ckers” but someone else deciphered it as “Safecrackers.”

Nice curves of light.

Potted plant with flat leaves. A photo like this needs to be at an angle or it’s dull.

Rudy’s-eye holiday minutiae. Joy.

Chartreuse lichen.

Legs at Anne & Mark’s Art Party in San Jose a couple of months back.

Great neon art from Anne and Mark’s Art Party. I always dreamed of being a neon artist, but I never got there.

But I did learn to paint. I have a buttload of paintings in my stash now, and for a short time, I’ve cut all the prices by an extra $100, hoping to sell some, down here at the bottom of the year. Check ’em out at my Paintings page. I made a nice new catalog too.

Happy 2017!

2 Responses to “Bottom of the Year”

  1. Tom Fool Says:

    Happy 2017 indeed!

    Despite the weirdness of 2016, I’m keeping my hopes up for a better future anyway.

    I guessed that in the pic of you and Isabel, she must be your daughter because she has your eyes and your smile.

    And one of the good things in life are your photos! If you ever have a moment to reflect, I’d love to hear about your photo techniques – how you get the thing you see with your eye to come out in the final photo. (Don’t mean this in the sense of “what camera do you use? It must be fabulous”. Had a relative who asked that of me once; I felt like saying “if you read a good book, would you ask the author what typewriter they used, cuz it was great?”)

    I’m always trying to improve my photography and am consistently impressed by yours. Always sharp, well composed and well exposed with good color gamut.

    The pic at the Cantor Museum looks like it might be one of Clayton Baileys pieces, no?

    The angled potted plant pic looks like one of the ‘thousand year old egg pots’ you can find in S.F. Chinatown. Beautiful dragons put on the pot with the artists fingers and thumbs before firing. Then filled with pickled (?) eggs.

    Santa Cruz, the art scene, it’s all good. Keep up the great work in the new year and for many, many years to come, Rudy. Best to you and yours!

  2. womans_voice Says:

    OMG Rudy, that photo of the UFO engine is *exquisite*.
    The angular pitch of it, and so many layers of light and form.

    A truly brilliant shot. Happy New Year to you! 🙂


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