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“Onward Foo the Throg!”

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!

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