Monthly Archives: May 2012

Book Signing June 1st in Payson – Todd’s Books on Main Street

A special shout out to Patti Hulstrand and fellow authors who have allowed me to sit in on a book signing during the Payson First Friday Main Street Art Walk June 1, 2012 from 5pm to 8pm.  We will be out front of Todd’s Books, located at:

408 West Main StreetPaysonAZ 85541 928-474-0560

I will be selling signed copies of my books at a discounted rate.  You can be the first to see me in my new bionic form, with over ten pounds of ceramics, plastic and titanium holding me together post op.







Payson’s Art & Antiques District on historic Main St holds a party on the first Friday of each month and everyone is invited.  You can enjoy live music, check out the many classic cars on display, and indulge in hot dogs and brats served up by the Kiwanis Club.  Most businesses remain open until 8 pm with many offering free refreshments.

First Friday on Main Street Art & Antiques Walk is an event that fits well with Payson’s neighborly tradition.  Walking this historic Art & Antiques District where Payson’s first residents gathered for social events including rodeos and dances; it’s fun to stroll and read the historic markers on many of the local businesses.  Included in the unique and eclectic shops lining Main St from the Beeline to Green Valley Park, are the many friendly faces of local merchants.  Expect a story or two about the history of each store.

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Should Obama Pick a New Running Mate?

This is a question not of whether you agree with Obama or not, Democrat or not, or any side issue.  The question is, “Do you think Obama would have a better chance to win with someone other than Biden as VP?”

Let us go back to why Biden was picked.  Biden was the older, more experienced, more middle of the road traditional democrat.  He was considered a softening factor to the young and less experienced Obama.  McCain, the opponent, looked much more experienced and seasoned and had that edge, which he later gave away I believe by picking Sarah Palin, a young less experienced politician so that both the Republicans and the Democrats had one old traditional and one young maverick.
















Don’t get me wrong – I like Biden as a man.  But he turns 70 in November and what was once a folksy way of telling it straight has become a string of ill-timed gaffes.  My favorite is while honoring Chuck Graham he kept asking the man to stand up and be recognized, while the paralyzed wheel chair bound man remained seated akwardly.  Biden grew up blue collar and by all accounts is a great family man, father, husband and neighbor.  He even makes a point of commuting on public transportation.  I also wish I had teeth like that at 70, real ones or not.   I of course, being a conservative, disagree with his and Obama’s political philosophies, but both men seem to be good family men of honor.

But once again, 70 year old, from Democrat stronghold but small state of Delaware, making regular gaffes.  What if Obama is re-elected and God forbid cannot finish his term.  I personally think Biden is starting to have some limited capacity.  I am not sure I would want President Biden.  It would be easy enough for him to step aside and say, “Look, I am 70, this administration needs a younger man in this time of crisis” and he would retire a hero and go to his nice family.

Then who could Obama pick?  Hillary Clinton?  A young Democrat who has perhaps done well economically in a swing state?  If Biden were young, I think it would be a great mistake to change partners mid dance.  But with such a graceful exit, I think Obama could breath new life into his campaign and take the focus off other issues.

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We Humans are the Bad Guys in the New Movie “Battleship”

I took my wife out to see a movie.  Each week, for over 27 years, we try to have one or more date nights or things to do once per week.  We both expected to Battleship to be a mindless action film, even more mindless than most.  Afterward, I found it was loosely based on the board game with pegs from the 70s, which is good or I would not have gone to see it.  The trailers for the movie also bothered me because it looks like a battle with naval battleships, which any dimestore military person can tell you no longer exist, and have not since one was briefly out of mothballs for the first gulf war as a bombardment vessel.









SPOILER ALERT – Don’t Read if You Don’t Want to Know What Happens.

However, there is MUCH more to this movie, probably more than the casual viewer will notice.   First, the bad parts.  You have Liam Neeson who is now competing with Ben Kingsley and Nicholas Cage for one time great actors who simply cannot turn down a part in any movie.  I think the three will score a thousand movies each during their lifetime.  Then there is Brooklyn Decker, who serves virtually no purpose in the film except as the girlfriend/admiral daughter.  But what she really does is just provide eye candy to the point of distraction.  Aliens attacking explosions….flowers, Brooklyn Decker smiling, walking…explosions…  Like that.  She is way to pretty not to simply cut away the rest.  Which comes to another sad point – the pointless use of Rhianna.  Other than some up close camera shots of her amazing eyes, they let Brooklyn Decker take Rhianna out of the film essentially.  The plot between the brothers and the general knowledge of naval command and training is sickening.

Now for the interesting point.  We are the bad guys.  That’s right.  The more I watched, I realized we were the bad guys.  NASA sends this signal out to random planets that might have life.  One answers by sending out five ship, one of which is for communications that accidentally crashes into a satellite and is lost (yes, aliens get across the universe but can’t miss a 50 foot long satellite…)

So, just like the American military would, the remaining ships land in the water, throw up a defensive perimeter, and try to re-establish communications.  They do this right in the middle of our big war games.  So what do we do to communicate?  We send out three people in a rubber dinghy with a vulcan gatling cannon.  First, we pulse a warning claxon.  The aliens do the same, but theirs is too loud and causes minor damage.  So, naturally, they must mean that as an attack?  So, the people in the dinghy make one effort in English.  “Who are you, identify yourself, we are from a warship?”  Pause for five seconds.  Then they board, training their weapons on them.

The aliens respond by rising up out of the water.  So maybe they do want to talk but don’t know how?  Oh no, we fire a shot at them.  Again as a warning…  A warning against what, moving, communicating?  From then on, and throughout the entire movie, we attack the aliens.  The aliens however, have strict instructions not to fire on non-threats and civilians.  They won’t even fire at a warship next to them unless it is actively pointing its weapons at them and shooting them.  Several times they leave off a fight when a person in disarmed.  They literally let humans walk around them as long as they are not attacked.

Out of three ships caught in their perimeter, they only destroy the two that attack them.  (This is where the game comes in.  They fire things that look like the red pegs from the game.  At another point, we see a battleship like board, where each side tries to “find” the other and attack them, using sono boy points.  Otherwise, forget the game.)  In one scene, a nearly human looking alien is fished out of the water.  As the humans force open its protective suit, causing it distress and it starts to die, they look like they are going to torture it for information.  A squad of its friends blasts in, takes it, and leaves, killing no one.  Simply rescuing their friend.  No man left behind.

So, what are the aliens trying to do?  We don’t really know.  The only activity they initiate is to try to use our own equipment that we signaled them with to re-establish communications with home, since they lost their com ship.  We of course think this is hostile.  “The only reason they would communicate is to bring in more ships and attack us.”  But wait – didn’t the movie start with us using that equipment to send them a message?  Using that logic, should they think we did it to send an invasion fleet?

So, the aliens who came all this way to answer our invitation signal, and were so careful never to fire unless fired upon first, why were they here?  We never find out, because we kill all the aliens and celebrate.

I really don’t know if they meant it to be that way or not.  It certainly shows the stupidity of the rules of engagement we have in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the aliens acted more like US Navy and Marines than our humans did.  I felt like the scene from Quentin Taratino’s movie, Inglorious Bastards, where we are disgusted at the Germans for cheering a movie glorifying the slaughter of Americans, while the audience cheers a movie that shows the slaughter of Germans by Americans.

Is Battleship also supposed to show us that about ourselves, or was it an accident?


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The Post Memorial Day Dog Post

As a disabled American veteran myself, I tend to take off Memorial Day and sit back and watch war movies.  Even John Wayne’s failed attempt to put a pretty face on the Vietnam War through The Green Berets is interesting to me.  Who would think that George Takei would play the tough dude in that?  (Sulu from Star Trek).  Anyway, I have seen most of the war films over and over and have my favorites – but that can wait for another post.  For now, our furry friends, from my dogs in costumes file:


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There’s more water on Jupiter’s moon Europa than there is on Earth






Excerts from the Article posted on  May 24, 2012  1:30 PM  by Robert T. Gonzalez:

“Remember that image from a few weeks back that showed Earth with all its water gathered up in a sphere beside it? Well here’s that image again, only this time, it also features Jupiter’s moon Europa, along with all of itswater. Notice anything interesting?

Based on data acquired by NASA’s Galileo satellite, astronomers think the global oceans sloshing around beneath Europa’s icy exterior are likely 2—3 times more voluminous than the oceans here on Earth. Not 2—3 times more proportionally, 2—3 times more in total volume.

Yeah. That “little” moon is packing quite the supply of H2O — and with it, scientists think, a significant chance of harboring life.”

It is pretty amazing to me that within in our own solar system there is a moon with so much water on it.  Some have speculated about drilling through the ice and searching for life underneath the frozen surface.  Others about mining it for water.  What would happen if we found a moon with that much oil on it?  Would we have huge oil barges and worry about space spills?

Also, if you look at the globe sans all its water, doesn’t it remind you of the new M&M commercials with the brown M&M they think is naked because it has no shell?  The Earth is meant to be the Big Blue Marble, not the dusty grey ball…


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Phoenix Comic Con 2012 – A Happening Place

I went today and spent quite awhile with people I know in the various genre’s just hanging out.  It was busier than last year for a Friday.  Last year, on a Saturday, it was so busy it was hard to move at times and the fire marshal kept changing the exhibit areas to one in one out.  This year there is more space and the aisles are much wider as well.  Some of my display friends were complaining about new rules, like saying they would not dance by their exhibit- so it sounds as if some negotiations went on with the fire Marshall to prevent over crowding tomorrow.

Definitely an awesome event, the best in Arizona, and the best on the west coast you can get tickets for – ComicCon in San Diego had 250k tickets sell out in less than hour…sigh.  I did not have the presence at the event I had wished.  Preliminarily I planned to be on some panels and set up a table to two, but my hip surgery threw things off.  I know I looked normal to others, but felt like this myself:

Kind of crazy, as I was dressed normally and just using a walker, yes a walker, even with dark blue tennis balls on the back.  Still, nothing makes you feel older than walking around a ComicCon with geriatric devices.  I started to tell people I was dressed up as “Full Hip Replacement Man” a new test market graphic novel hero for the aging readers, with awesome wisdom of the years superpowers but with certain mobility limits.  I don’t think it helped much.

Anyway, I had a great time, but once again, eat and drink before you get there.  The food and drinks make theater pricing look cheap and hospital food tasty.  Over half the people today were in costume which made it more fun.  I might go all Steampunk on folks tomorrow.  No time to rub down the walker with bronze…sigh.  I also believe I will be doing a live podcast tomorrow from the event, so stay tuned!

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I’m Hearing Voices – And Why they should be the same throughout the Story!

In our Writing Group Tonight we Had a Lond Discussion on Writing Voice, Style and When to use Italics for Internal Dialogue.  Surprisingly, this somewhat uncomfortable and unwanted discussion finds itself regularly folded up at our dinner table wishing to be entertained ad nauseum.

I found this site had a nice approach to the topic and have reposted a good portion of one of their articles here:  All of the borrowed parts are italics with my own lame interjections found among them in normal type.

Narrative Voice

Someone in your story has to tell us that Jeff pulled out his gun, that Samantha smiled at the tall stranger, that daylight was breaking over the valley. That someone is the narrator or “author’s persona.”

The author’s persona of a fictional narrative can help or hinder the success of the story. Which persona you adopt depends on what kind of story you are trying to tell, and what kind of emotional atmosphere works best for the story.

The persona develops from the personality and attitude of the narrator, which are expressed by the narrator’s choice of words and incidents. These in turn depend on the point of view of the story.

– It can be very dangerous to your writing if your narrator obtains its own ethics and judgements on events and equally a problem if your narrator in indistinguishable from your main character.   Narrator  – Johhny Bob got the drop on him as usual and put an end to the bloke’s wicked ways.   My preference, “Where is that matey Steve so we can break his leg and collect fer what money he owes me so as I can get back to me drinking with that fresh tart off the harbor swing shift,” Thought Johnny Bob.   Narrator –  Steve sees Johnny Bob just in time, and pulls out his gun, and manages to get in a lucky shot to cap him before he could be nicked himself.

First-person point of view is usually subjective: we learn the narrator’s thoughts, feelings, and reactions to events. In first-person objective, however, the narrator tells us only what people said and did, without comment.

Other first-person modes include:

¶the observer-narrator, outside the main story (examples: Mr. Lockwood in Wuthering Heights, Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby)

¶detached autobiography (narrator looking back on long-past events)

¶multiple narrators (first-person accounts by several characters)

¶interior monologue (narrator recounts the story as a memory; stream of consciousness is an extreme form of this narrative)

¶dramatic monologue (narrator tells story out loud without major interruption)

¶letters or diary (narrator writes down events as they happen; narrative told through letters is also known as the epistolary novel)

If the point of view is first-person, questions about the persona are simple: the character narrating the story has a particular personality and attitude, which is plausibly expressed by the way he or she describes events.

First person is extremely powerful to write and read, but I find it very dificult.  It just might not be for you.  It might not be for you audience either if they don’t like who is telling them the tail, or if it is unusual in the genre.

The second-person mode is rare: You knocked on the door. You went inside. Very few writers feel the need for it, and still fewer use it effectively.

If the point of view is third-person limited, persona again depends on the single character through whose eyes we witness the story. You may go inside the character’s mind and tell us how that character thinks and feels, or you may describe outside events in terms the character would use. Readers like this point of view because they know whom to “invest” in or identify with.

In third-person objective, we have no entry to anyone’s thoughts or feelings. The author simply describes, without emotion or editorializing, what the characters say and do. The author’s persona here is almost non-existent. Readers may be unsure whose fate they should care about, but it can be very powerful precisely because it invites the reader to supply the emotion that the persona does not. This is the persona of Icelandic sagas, which inspired not only Ernest Hemingway but a whole generation of “hard-boiled” writers.

If the point of view is third-person omniscient, however, the author’s persona can develop in any of several directions.

1. “Episodically limited.” Whoever is the point of view for a particular scene determines the persona. An archbishop sees and describes events from his particular point of view, while a pickpocket does so quite differently. So the narrator, in a scene from the archbishop’s point of view, has a persona quite different from that of the pickpocket: a different vocabulary, a different set of values, a different set of priorities. (As a general rule, point of view should not change during a scene. So if an archbishop is the point of view in a scene involving him and a pickpocket, we shouldn’t suddenly switch to the pickpocket’s point of view until we’ve resolved the scene and moved on to another scene.)

I find this type of perspective most helpful when writing in a Tom Clancy or Clive Cussler style where people and events occur all over the world, and somehow, they will all effect each other before the book is completed.  You still need to give your reader some indication in each scene, or by the number of scenes, who the more important players are.  For instance, half -way through the novel they should know most of the “good-guys” and “bad-guys” and only be unsure of those you wish them to be unsure of.

2. “Occasional interruptor.” The author intervenes from time to time to supply necessary information, but otherwise stays in the background. The dialogue, thoughts and behavior of the characters supply all other information the reader needs.

3. “Editorial commentator.” The author’s persona has a distinct attitude toward the story’s characters and events, and frequently comments on them. The editorial commentator may be a character in the story, often with a name, but is usually at some distance from the main events; in some cases, we may even have an editorial commentator reporting the narrative of someone else about events involving still other people. The editorial commentator is not always reliable; he or she may lie to us, or misunderstand the true significance of events.

Third-person omniscient gives you the most freedom to develop the story, and it works especially well in stories with complex plots or large settings where we must use multiple viewpoints to tell the story. It can, however, cause the reader to feel uncertain about whom to identify with in the story. If you are going to skip from one point of view to another, start doing so early in the story, before the reader has fully identified with the original point of view.

The author’s persona can influence the reader’s reaction by helping the reader to feel close to or distant from the characters. Three major hazards arise from careless use of the persona:

1. Sentimentality. The author’s editorial rhetoric tries to evoke an emotional response that the story’s events cannot evoke by themselves—something like a cheerleader trying to win applause for a team that doesn’t deserve it. A particular problem for the “editorial commentator.”

2. Mannerism. The author’s persona seems more important than the story itself, and the author keeps reminding us of his or her presence through stylistic flamboyance, quirks of diction, or outright editorializing about the characters and events of the story. Also a problem for the editorial commentator. However, if the point of view is first person, and the narrator is a person given to stylistic flamboyance, quirks of diction, and so on, then the problem disappears; the persona is simply that of a rather egotistical individual who likes to show off.

3. Frigidity. The persona’s excessive objectivity trivializes the events of the story, suggesting that the characters’ problems need not be taken seriously: a particular hazard for “hardboiled” fiction in the objective mode, whether first person or third person.

Verb tense can also affect the narrative style of the story. Most stories use the past tense:

I knocked on the door. She pulled out her gun.

This is usually quite adequate although flashbacks can cause awkwardness:

I had knocked on the door. She had pulled out her gun.

A little of that goes a long way.

Be careful to stay consistently in one verb tense unless your narrator is a person who might switch tenses:

So I went to see my probation officer, and she tells me I can’t hang with my old buddies no more.

Some writers achieve a kind of immediacy through use of the present tense:

I knock on the door. She pulls out her gun.

We don’t feel anyone knows the outcome of events because they are occurring as we read, in “real time.” Some writers also enjoy the present tense because it seems “arty” or experimental.

But most readers of genre fiction don’t enjoy the present tense, so editors are often reluctant to let their authors use it. I learned that the hard way by using present tense in my first novel, The Empire of Time; it was enough to keep the manuscript in editorial limbo for months, and the final offer to publish was contingent on changing to past tense. Guess how long I agonized over that artistic decision!

Having reblogged most of that and ommented on it, I would say three things:

1)  Be able to identify the style you write in and try to stay in that style your entire story;

2)  If you know you are only good at one or two voices – just stick with them.

3)  If you are a complete master at writing, with the word at your sole command, think of the story you wish to tell, and use the voice, and the characters and scenes which you believe best tell the story.

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Climbing Nepal – Great Adventure with Beautiful People or Russian Roullette with God?

Suffering from low self-esteem?  Find  yourself a highly qualified professional, who will work through these issues thougtfully and gently?  Please do NOT decide to climb Everest or put up other bucket list items that will insure the early passing of both your money , and your life.  The whole bucket list thing – over-rated.

Mount Everest – Also known as tall, freezing cold with frequent hallucinations and coughing up blood.

So I see this story:

MT. EVEREST, Nepal –  Mountain climber Jon Kedrowski was one of the lucky ones. He didn’t make it to the top of Mount Everest last weekend, but he made it back alive — and told a harrowing tale of how severe weather trapped several climbers and left at least 4 dead.

The weather and overcrowding at the tallest peak made for a frightening scene after climbers attempted to use a brief window of good weather in an otherwise poor climbing season.

“I counted four people that had either died that evening or probably got disoriented or basically passed out from their summit attempts on the 19th.” Kedrowski of Colorado told Fox affiliate KDVR.

Strong winds of up to 100 MPH moved in and trapped dozens of climbers.

“[One man] was basically hallucinating, he took his hat off, his gloves were thrown away and then he kind of reached out and looked at me … he kind of reached out to me, kind of in a zombie-like fashion,” Kedrowski says.

The first clear weather conditions of the spring climbing season were Friday and Saturday, but a windstorm swept the higher altitudes of the mountain by Saturday afternoon, said Gyanendra Shrestha of Nepal’s Mountaineering Department.

An estimated 150 climbers reached the summit on either day, most of them on Saturday.

“There was a traffic jam on the mountain on Saturday. Climbers were still heading to the summit as late as 2:30 p.m., which is quite dangerous,” Nepali mountaineering official Gyanendra Shrestha said

The victims have been identified as Ebehard Schaaf, 61, a German medical doctor; Sriya Shah, 33, a Nepali-born Canadian woman; Song Wondin, a 44-year-old man from South Korea; and Wen Ryi Ha, 55, of China, according to officials.

The climbing season runs from late March to the first week in June, and the Nepalese government places no limits on how many climbers can be on the 29,035-foot mountain. The season’s first clear conditions were on Friday and Saturday, but that window already was closing by Saturday afternoon with a windstorm at higher altitudes, Shrestha said.

On May 10, 1996, eight people died on what is believed to be the worst day on Everest, as described in Jon Krakauer’s best-seller “Into Thin Air.” The main reason for that disaster was said to be that climbers who started their ascents late in the day were caught in a snow storm that swept the mountain in the afternoon.

This year, the danger has been compounded by an unusually light snowfall, renowned Everest climber Conrad Anker said.

“Because there is little fresh snow, icy surfaces on the slopes make climbing more difficult and dangerous,” Anker said, adding that “the snow acts as glue, stopping rocks from falling on the climbers.”

Well-known expedition organizer Russell Brice cited the mountain’s precarious condition in his decision in early May to cancel this year’s climb for more than 60 clients.

Read more:

At one point when I was much younger, a group of us at work were, like hey, let’s go climb  a mountain.  I thought dinner and a movie sounded good, drinks maybe.  NOPE.  Every weekend was mountain climbing.  We live in Arizona so they did the Mt.  Humphrey’s Peak  in Arizona a lot, which is a round 12,637 feet.  Not  normal feet either, but legs sinking to your knees while you breathe in freezing air and pray for it to stop.  This was not challenging enough for them so they want to do overnighters in El Capitan in California.  My girlish screams informed them they would be one lessperson on the trip for this bit of fun.

El Cap, getting your pitons in place to sleep your 18 inch by 6 foot bed.  The carry bags, those are to poop in and put garbage in which they drop off this side of all those looking up.  Don’t get me wrong – proffs to people who do this stuff.  But if you just are bored and need ideas, call some people, try some less dramatic stuff.

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Lots of Dogs for Lots of Fun on Monday



The only thing cuter than one cute dog – is you guessed it – more than one.  Let these packs of pooches cheer you up today.







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Funny Headlines – Part 2

Who would have known that posting shots of funny headlines would be so popular?  Thanks and a call out to those over at who linked to my prior headline story which was the intitial impetus to get the viral snowball going on the topic.  People seemed to enjoy ,and after all, that is the whole point of this blog. I also wanted to celebrated getting my short story on Dark Matter published in the latest issue of ConNotations NewsZine.  I will update my currect and future projects tomorrow, since many current have been published now and many future have not yet been talked about.




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