Rudy’s Blog

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Art Show. New Paintings. Fujifilm X100T Camera.

May 23rd, 2015
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My art show at Borderlands opened this week. It’ll run through July 6. We’ll have a reception part on Saturday, June 13, at 3 in the afternoon. We’ll hang out, I’ll do a reading from Journals 1990-2014, and give a little tour of the paintings.


Click for a larger version of the poster.

And here’s a panorama shot of one of the walls in the Borderlands cafe.


Click for a larger version of the pan shot.

Many thanks to Rudy, Jr. and fellow Monkeybrainer Devin for helping me set up. No way could I hang all these paintings alone. You can find prices on my Paintings page.


“The Sage and the Messenger” oil on canvas, May, 2015, 28” x 22”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

Over the last couple of weeks, I finished two new paintings for the show. The Sage and the Messenger relates to a short story I’m working on with Bruce Sterling. One of the characters is sage or hermit who lives inside in a hollowed out spot high up in the trunk of a sequoia tree. And a artificial biotweaked organism comes to bring a message to him. Wanting to lure him into a wild and hare-brained adventure. The messenger iss a thing like biological drone, or like a flying jellyfish. I like the interplay of the expressions among the sage, the jellyfish and the squirrel.


“Cells” oil on canvas, May, 2015, 24” x 24”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

About four days before the show I dove into Cells. I had no real idea what I’d paint when I started. First I did an underpainting in acrylic with a heavy gel medium to get some texture, and to have some extra color glowing through. But I don’t like how flat acrylic looks, so I layered an oil painting on top of that. I outlined some blobs in my original painting, and then filled them in to look like living cells. I used a fan brush for the halo effect, and I flicked the bristles of the fan brush to add some life with splattered dots.

A big push.

My old Sony RX100 camera died this month. The telescoping zoom lens seized up and won’t properly go in and out. I’ve had thee or four pocket digital cameras die in this same way. The lens is a definite weak point. When it breaks, it costs almost $200 to fix, so it’s questionable if that’s worth doing. So I decided to get a small “prime lens” camera, that is, a camera with a non-zooming lens. So there’s not the telescoping crap to break.

I sold a couple of paintings this month, so I splurged and went for a Fujifilm X100T. It’s a compact digital camera (despite being called Fujifilm), solid, great lens, solid metal frame, and with a nice old-school look, kind of like a vintage Leica M-Series camera, but at relatively reasonable price. Not a pocket camera, but it’s small and light.

So I’m going around taking lots of pictures. Some reviewers like to gush that the camera is so good that they use the X100T images just as they came out of the camera. Me, I pretty much run every single shot though Lightroom and/or Photoshop. That’s my work flow. That way I can crop, possibly lighten the shadows, maybe sharpen the image or warm the tone. But this particular shot is right out of the camera. A sweet shop.

I call this terrifying “hand puppet” Cousin Millie. I’ve been showing her to my kids and the grandkids for years.

And the camera is automatic enough that you can hand it to someone that the shot comes out good. I’m till learning the ins and outs of fine points of the controls. The (online PDF) manual is well over two hundred pages long.

The thing about walking around looking for shots is that I dig below the smooth familiar reality to find little bits of oddness. A dial with numbers. What might this mean?

You can never go wrong photographing street-workers’ markings on the asphalt.

Midnight in the china closet. The X100T really fills out the three-dimensional space.

Exultant in son Rudy’s car, riding through the Mission after my paintings…with my new shooter in hand.

I’ve photographed these phone/electric/cable lines a dozen or more times over the years. I think this one is better than usual. Thank you Fujifilm!

My grad-school friend Jim Carrig’s son Eamon showed up the other day. I took him to San Jose’s finest fast food stand, named simply Falafel. It’s on Stevens Creek Blvd near Bascom Ave. They’ve been there since 1966. Wonderful, wonderful falafel. Green inside, freshly cooked and mashed beans, crisp on the outside, hot.

Eamon Carrig himself. He’s started a company that’s designing small robotic sail boats. Sailing drones for the high seas.

Weirdly enough a woman reporter named Leona was at Falafel. She’s from LA, but is writing an article on falafel restaurants in California for Brownbook magazine, published in Dubai! Once the sheiks hear about Falafal of San Jose they’ll be jetting in no doubt.

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Cyberpunk Day in LA with Bruce Sterling

April 30th, 2015
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The Rudy’s Podcasts feed has my talk on my Journals from May 1, 2015. Click the icon:

(For older podcasts, see my archival podcasts page.)

Video of the USC Cyberpunk day panel is still to come.
==============================================
My April 30, 2015 blog post:

I’m giving a talk about my Journals 1990-2014 on Friday night at 7:30 above Logos Books in Santa Cruz. Details in this image below. “Santa Cruz College” is just a manner of speaking, the sponsoring group isn’t “really” a college.

Last weekend I was at the University of Southern California in LA for a day of talks, panels, and workshops about cyberpunk. My old pal Bruce Sterling was there too, also Mark Pauline of SRL, famed for his “bad robots.” The pioneering VR maven Scott Fisher—now a film school dean at USC—hosted the event, and eventually his group will be posting some video.


[Photo by Karen Marcelo]

In the afternoon they played a “Techologies of Cyberpunk” compilation video with about a hundred clips from Hollywood movies showing people’s minds being removed from their brains and/or being implanted into robots.

I like to claim that my 1982 book Software was the first SF novel to talk about this precise idea—although sometimes people argue with me about this. Somewhat in the same ballpark, the ancient movie Metropolis has a cool scene with a woman’s body-shape being copied onto a robot in a lab amid showers of Tesla coil sparks.

But I do think Software was the first novel where (a) A human’s mind is extracted and stored on a computer, and then (b) The mind is copied onto a robot body. (I once got involved in a comment thread debate on this somewhere on this blog, but I can’t find that thread today.)

I’m issuing a new second edition of my Complete Stories this week, including all my stories from 1976 right up to 2014. You can browse the whole book online, and you’ll find buy links there as well…it exists in Kindle, generic EPUB ebook, and in (two volume) paperback form.

In LA, we stayed in the downtown Standard hotel. The downtown of LA is a lot livelier than it was a few years ago. A few blocks are as bustling as Manhattan, and with all these 1950s tan-brick office buildings. The LA Library is very cool, with weird languages on the front steps.

Bruce and I took a walk one morning, and were pleased to see a movie shoot in progress. The extras and the two actors were fleeing from something up in the sky, maybe a monster, maybe a UFO. The cameraman was using, incredibly, nothing but a Canon 5D SLR camera, mounted on a rack with a good directional mic. Another few years you’ll be able to make hi-def movies of your life, just walking around with a “third-eye flat-cam” on your forehead.


[Photo by Bruce Sterling]

We came across a huge wall of conduit pipes—later someone told me the pipes are stuffed with internet fibers. Like an Aztec monument, kind of.

We also saw a cool poster advocating quake preparedness. Note that those cracks in the ground spell “QUAKE.”

Bruce and I were basically taking pictures of all the same things. Similar sensibilities. Great to see him. He gave a good talk on cyberpunk at the meeting, saying something about the style being characterized by crammed sentences and eyeball kicks…and then he somehow got into a rap about Lafcadio Hearn, an expat writer like Bruce.

Bruce has a good Tumblr blog going these days…the pictures kind of clarify his in-person word avalanche.

Dig these rails laid down for a dolly camera shoot. Stairway to the heaven of media omnipresence.

Harking back, here’s a nice water tank I saw near Occidental, California, a few weeks ago.

Another shot of me and Chairman Bruce, this one by Scott Fisher.

And here’s Bruce, USC Prof Henry Jenkins, and Scott Fisher.

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“Dangerous Pass,” Journals, SF Scenes, Talk & Panel

April 20th, 2015
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Today’s eye candy, my latest painting. This one took me about thirty hours, a lot of layers and detail.


“Dangerous Pass” oil and acrylic on canvas, April, 2015, 40” x 30”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

I painted Dangerous Pass to help previsualize a scene in my novel Million Mile Roadtrip. My chracters are on an endless world, and they’re migrating from one Earth-sized basin to the next. They have two flying mascots, one is a UFO named Nunu, the other is a blobby creature who calls herself Meatball. My party includes Villy and Zoe in front, being lovers, with Villy just a bit uneasy, and Villy’s younger brother Scud is in back. The cadmium-red Scud is on the alert, and he’s noticing that the stones in this mountain pass are…alive. The composition and vibe of this painting were inspired by Peter Bruegel’s Conversion of St. Paul.

My 828 page book, Journals 1990-2014 is on sale now
* Paperback ($24.95) Amazon.
* (Kindle) ($4.95) Amazon.
* (Kindle and EPUB) ($4.95) via Transreal Books

And you can read a hefty free sample of the Journals as an online webpage.

I’ll be giving a one or two hour talk on the Journals at the so-called “College of Santa Cruz” group on the 3rd floor of the Logos Books building on Pacific Ave in Santa Cruz at 7:15 on Friday, May 1. The door is in the back of the building. Talk title, “Rewriting My Past.”

Oh, and another upcoming event, on Friday, April 24, I’ll be on a Cyberpunk Panel at the University of Southern California in LA. Bruce Sterling, Marc Pauline, and other fellow droids will be there too.

We spent Easter with our son Rudy Jr. and his family. Got a nice big collection of eggs. And endless line. Love the bare feet in this photo, so human.

We also went to our grandson’s third birthday party at Rudy’s house. They have a toy plastic play house and they put up a towel so the kids could “fish” by holding a line over the towel and getting, maybe, a kid-drawn paper fish in the clothespin at the end of the line. This image is like a Fairyland tollbooth.

Sylvia and I stayed in downtown SF for two nights for my 69th (!) birthday. At the cute Hotel Boheme in North Beach. We hit the recently refurbished Coit Tower. This mural is bird related.

Another shot of son Rudy’s patio. I like the plants and the toys. It’s like a diorama of life in the early 21st century. All the picture needs is people.

The top of Coit tower has a nice open feel, with high arches and the open sky. Some of the little windows around the bottom open up and you can breathe in that high ocean-scented air.

Branches on the floor of an old growth redwood grove. Like calligraphy.

We saw this on another trip, this one up to Occidental, CA—a spot I’d never visited, between Sebastopol and Bodega Bay. A friend of mine, Roger House, and his wife Marylu Downing let us use their AirBnb cabin for two nights. (More photos of this trip in a later post.) I got to know Roger as he proofread the Journals. He has a great eye for typos. And another of my friends, Michael Troutman did copy-editing and fact-checking, helping to get the proper names spelled right, as well as picking up the remaining typos.


View from Coit Tower. Click for a larger version of the panorama.

SF really isn’t a very large city, but it’s a gem.

I always like getting out of the house.

It’s good to finally have the Journals done.

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Mojo Working. JOURNALS Funded.

March 31st, 2015
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I got my writing mojo back, returned from the underworld one more time, and I’m busy with my next novel Million Mile Roadtrip again, piling on the eyeball kicks, the unlikely incidents, and the rude dialog. Having fun with it. Kicking with my third hip. Like a Puppeteer, if you remember those three-legged guys from Niven’s classic Ringworld.


Here’s my current design for the cover for my Journals. You can click on it to make it bigger. I made it to the fundraising goal for my Kickstarter drive a couple of days ago. Many thanks to you kind and generous souls out there.

The odd thing is that, financially at least, I do better by self-publishing my books and running Kickstarters for them. Which is not to say that I might not go back to a commerical publisher for Million Mile Roadtrip — which is meant to be a book that can sell into the young adult market. At least that’s what I think, but publishers have been known to disagree with my judgements! I’ll have to see what happens. Even if I do have a commercial option for it, I may ultimately go the Kickstart / self-pub route anyway. In any case, Million Mile Roadtrip won’t be done till late this fall at the earliest. My characters are still just fixing up their car and they’ve got…a million miles to go.

Last week my wife and I hit this ancient North Beach bar called the Saloon. They have live blues there all the time and real x-section of people…not techs and yups all that much. Brown people in the mix.

I loved this one Hawaiian couple sitting at the bar near us. At some point, with no change of expression, the woman gets up and starts dancing—or, rather, making ritualized dance gestures with her arms, forearms up, forearms down. Love the dance gesture.

The band (Johnny Nitro and the Doorslammers) played one long, mostly instrumental, song with the chorus, “I’ll take you there,” and indeed the music did take me “there” to a land of peace and zonkfulness and clear white light.


“Saucer Hall” oil and acrylic on canvas, February, 2015, 30” x 24”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

And then I turned around and used that song/experience in a new chapter for my novel called “Saucer Hall.” I love it when the real world snaps right on top of whatever I’m writing. The muse in action.


Contact sheet of some images to appear in my online Photo Supplement for my JOURNALS. Click for a gigundo zoomable version of the sheet.

If I can raise a little more dough for my Journals, I’ll put in the time to make an online photo supplement with lots of photos to plug into the text.

At this point in tech, it’s not practical to put the photos into the paperback/hardback or into the ebooks. For a print book, it makes the books too long and too unwieldy to edit, and for the ebooks, it makes the file too big to comfortably download. So I’ll just figure out some kind of web site design for posting the images.

Saw all these people digging for beach glass in Davenport, CA, last month. Like sea turtles laying eggs. Maybe the beach was, in the old days, a dump? (Thus the profusion of glass.) Always interesting to see a crowd of humans intent on something like this.

Hadn’t been to Davenport in awhile. Love the water-sculpted rocks, and the patterns of the seaweed. Mother nature, always the greatest artist of all.

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