Sunday, December 16, 2012

Daddy Day


Every Saturday, since Carol went back to work 8 months ago, has been a “daddy day.” It’s the one day of the week that I take care of Henry by myself for the entire day. And no I don’t think I should get a prize for that. There are single parents who take care of multiple children and I have absolutely no idea how they do it. My philosophy with “daddy day” has always been “Okay, let’s just get through this.”

I don’t usually try to get much of anything done. I don’t do the laundry or the food shopping or try and do any writing. Carol usually has goals when she takes care of Henry; she always wants to do a million errands. And I love her for it, that kind of can do attitude is probably what keeps this operation going. But the flip side of that is that I’ve come home after work on some of her “Henry days” to find her in a state of defeated exhaustion because Henry won’t nap the way she wanted him to and try as she might, she couldn’t get her errands done. If you have no goals, no matter how the day unfolds, you won’t be disappointed.

Pre-Henry, one of my favorite things to do on a Saturday was to laze around the apartment for the entire day. There was nothing I enjoyed more than staying in my comfy pajamas, reading, watching TV, catching up on my sleep, and surfing the web. It was of course rare that I could be that lazy all day as Carol was usually there to remind me that the laundry, the food shopping, and the house cleaning needed to get done during the weekend too. However, since Henry has been born and the majority of my Saturday is spent sitting on the floor with Henry and watching as he pushes his trucks back and forth across the living room over, and over, and over again, I am understandably much more interested in getting out and about a bit more and doing something with my day.

To wit, I started a tradition of taking Henry to a local bagel shop every Saturday around his lunchtime. I’d bring him inside in his stroller and the staff there would start to fawn over him and I’d get some food and some coffee. I’d sit as close as I could to the counter where people ordered and I’d eat it while Henry sat in his stroller and watched the people ordering. Henry loves to watch people. I think he enjoys trying to figure them out. Then when I was done eating I’d put Henry in a high chair and give him some food I’d prepared at home and brought and then we’d be on our way.    

Last week we didn’t make it over to the bagel shop, but I did take Henry on a long walk in his stroller at a park that’s near our house. This park happens to have a ¼ mile long hill with a 60% grade. It’s a monster of a hill, but it’s really the only thing to do if you want anything more than a short walk. And so reluctantly I took Henry down the hill in his stroller, knowing that every step down I took I would have to repeat by going back up. The path was empty that day except for the occasional cyclist so I sang camp songs from my youth and talked to Henry about whatever it was that was on my mind that afternoon. Henry is a good listener.

This past Saturday morning I had to go to the post office and mail some Christmas packages. The closest post office that’s open on Sat. is in the next town over. Henry and I waited in line for more than a half hour to send the packages. Then I had to go across town to my bank to put a check in. Well, by this time. Henry was asleep in his car seat. While I waited in line at the drive thru ATM at my bank, I’d put the car into park and turn around and look at Henry in the car seat. He was sleeping with his head pitched forward. This always seems like a painful way to sleep and I imagine Henry waking up with a stiff neck or something so I try and push his head back against his seat’s headrest but he just pitches forward again. So, then I got out a blanket and I tried to put it in-between his head on the headrest and get him to lean on the blanket, but that didn’t work either.

Meanwhile, after all these errands I was thinking about breakfast, but I didn’t want to wake Henry up so I went through a drive thru and got some food and drove back to the apartment. Henry was still asleep in his seat so I parked the car, left the ELO cd on, and ate my food. I was prepared to sit in the car and read “Wool” on my I-phone, but Henry woke up. He had only been asleep for about a half hour. I foolishly thought maybe he’d sleep better if I took him up to the apartment, but when we got inside and he saw his toys and the cats all thoughts of sleeping were forgotten.

I didn’t worry about it too much, I figured he’d go down for another nap in an hour or two. But I ended up spending most of the afternoon trying every 45 minutes or so to get him to take that nap. He was so cranky, but he just won’t go to sleep. That afternoon I tried 5 times to get him to take a nap and he actually went down the 5th time and he slept for an hour. Carol got home right after he was asleep and the two of us were able to eat our dinner without a kid throwing his food on the floor.

I don’t want you to think that we had an awful day. It really wasn’t that bad. We also had a lots of fun. I stretched a blanket over my head like it was a big cape and chased Henry around the room saying I was the blanket monster and then I’d hug and kiss him and cover him with the blanket. He thought this game was a lot of fun.

Henry is getting older so fast though; his new thing is that he pushes the computer chair around like it’s one of his toys. At first I had to stand behind him and help him push, but the other day he grabbed my hand while it was on the chair and pushed it away as if to this, “let me do it myself dad.” So I let go and Henry pushed the thing around by himself. It really seems like Henry is starting to understand how to communicate. In addition to pushing me away he’s reached for my hand when he’s wanted me to help him with something. The other new thing he did this week is he noticed the 10” by 13” framed picture of him that we have in the living room from when we got his picture taken at a portrait place for the holidays. He went over near it and started pointing to it. I picked him up and started telling him “that’s you, and you’re making your patented smirk,” and he reached for the picture and laughed. He definitely recognized himself.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Short Story of the Week (December 2012)

Each week at the Classic Science Fiction Message Board we read a short science fiction piece (short story, novelette or novella). These stories are always available for FREE online so that anyone can participate in the discussion. The stories are chosen by a different member every month, so that we get to read a variety of stories. December's stories are being picked by Melanie Ivanoff.

I'm 36 and have lived in Nashville, TN for 13 years now, which is about 11 years longer than I thought I would be here!  I grew up all over the southeast US, spending time in Florida, North Carolina, Georgia and finally Louisiana. I moved here after I graduated from LSU to live with a friend of mine and just never left.   My husband and I got married this past summer and then bought a house.  I'm also just finishing my 3rd semester of my Library/Information Science Masters program at UT, so life is pretty busy.  That's pretty much why the majority of our books are still in boxes!

I got my love of reading from my parents and my preference for sci-fi and fantasy from my father.  I can't remember the first science fiction I read but I read things like the Hitchhiker's series, Piers Anthony's Apprentice Adept series, Michael Crichton and lots of short stories as my dad always got the big end of year compilation books.  Now, my favorite modern sci-fi tends to be things by guys like Neal Stephenson and China Mieville.  Classic authors:  Ursula K. LeGuin, Bradbury, Asimov.  I also read a lot of science non-fiction and by favorites are by Neil deGrasse Tyson, Carl Sagan, Mary Roach and Michio Kaku.   Unfortunately, there are just too many books to read! 


Week # 1 Wool by Hugh Howey

For my first choice, I picked the first installment of Wool by Hugh Howey.  It is free on Kindle right now. My husband has been trying to get me to read it for several months now. Having read several self-published books I was a bit skeptical that it would be any good. I was presently surprised. Set in a dystopian future where everyone in the society lives their entire lives inside a silo, this first section details what happens when one man decides he wants to go outside.

Week #2  How to Make a Triffid by Kelly Lagor    

We (well some of you, I didn't get to it) read Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham earlier this year. This week's short story is inspired by the novel. It's about a young scientist who is working to create a real Triffid. Or it's about love and loss and death. I think I liked it but I am not sure. There's a melancholy atmosphere to it and a lot of anger; the first I don't mind, but the second often puts me off a story. Let me know what you think!

 Week #3 'Tis the Season by China Mieville

Happy Christmas, Merry Hanukkah, Joyful Festivus, and a Pleasant Solstice to all!

One thing that I've found searching for short stories is that LOTS AND LOTS of them are downers.  I've read through plenty where it's the end of the world or a depressing dystopia.  Or everybody dies.  I did a last minute swap of last week's story because it had gun violence and I just didn't want to put that out there.  So I looked really hard to find a happy story and even managed to get a Christmas one: 'Tis the Season by China Mieville.

In the future, Christmas has been privatized, trademarked and copyrighted.  If you want a Christmas tree, or to sing a carol, or send a letter to Santa, you better have a license!  Our narrator wins passes to take his daughter to the licensed YuleCo party and can't believe his luck.  However, they run into trouble on the way to the party....

SPOILERS: No one dies in the end!

Week #4 Loco by Rudy Rucker and Bruce Sterling    

So, I got busy reading and playing a new video game and posting the story just slipped my mind!  I have had a good time picking these stories out but I must admit that it was a bit harder than I had thought it would be.  I read a bunch of stories and so many just weren't right; as I mentioned last week plenty are just depressing!  I found a weird one that has a throwaway reference to another monthly read, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

How Henry Gets His Beauty Rest...

A future bookworm like his dad, right? Well, I can dream.

Henry has had a really bad cold for the last few days. He’ll start screaming in the middle of the night because he can’t breath through his nose and one of us will have to go in there and snake out his nose. How do you snake a baby’s nose? We have this plastic thing called a bulb syringe, you stick the thing in his nostrils and you suck the mucus out. It’s gross work because the only way you know it’s worked is that a big string of snot practically flies out of the kid’s nose. Anyway, the funny thing is that half the time when Henry starts screaming at night, I’ll go in his room, turn the light on, pick up the kid put him on the changing table grab the snake and realize the kid still has his eyes closed, he’s figured out how to scream in his sleep! Imagine finding a way to get what you want, keep your parents up half the night, and still get your beauty rest.

But in a weird way I feel like I should be thanking Henry. He’s started this thing where he walks up at 5 am in the morning screaming and won’t go back to sleep unless you rock him to sleep or bring him into our bedroom and cuddle up with him. As some of you may know I’m a night owl, so sometimes I don’t get to sleep till 2 am. The reason I can get by with such little sleep is that I sleep very deeply. I mean the fire alarm can go off and I just think it’s my alarm clock and roll over. I somehow get like a full night’s sleep in half the time by entering some sort of near comatose state. But the one problem with this sleep schedule is that I almost never remember any of my dreams. Carol loves to tell me all about the dreams she had in stunningly complete detail, but I remember nothing. However, almost every time Henry wakes me up early, when I go back to sleep it’s a much lighter sleep and I remember all my dreams. So thanks for that Henry, I’m starting to develop a coffee addiction from being constantly sleep deprived, but it’s neat to remember how I defeated the dragon with the silver sword of truth and found out one of my bosses was secretly attending sewing conventions. (That’s just what I was dreaming).

But, I really feel closer to Henry because I’ve had to take care of him. When he was a few months younger and he had a little cold, I put him in his bouncy seat and it kept from rolling onto his stomach and even kept his head elevated, but he’s too big for that seat now, so the only way I could keep him on his back and his head elevated was to sleep on the floor of his room with my arm around him until his breathing cleared up enough to put him back in his crib. I kept thinking I’d fall asleep and I’d wake up to Carol snapping a picture of the two of us because it was probably the cutest thing ever.

But geez, this post has been all about how he’s had a cold, it sounds like he’s sickly or something. He’s had some trouble breathing through his nose at night and in the day he’s had a cough and his nose has been running, but other then that he’s been his bright and cheery-self most of the time. He uses that toy car that’s big enough for him to sit in to help him walk across the room. He stands behind it and uses the car like it’s a walker. He is also pulling up on walls, baby gates, couches, computer desks, floor lamps, and anything else he can find. But he still doesn’t have the balance to stand on his own.

It’s funny he stays home two days a week with Carol and I take care of him on Saturdays (Sundays we tag team it) and the other three days he’s at daycare. And they always say at daycare that he’s a perfect angel and he’s no trouble and Carol and I just look at each other and say he’s great, but he isn’t perfect. At home he spends half the day going for the heater, or the cat box, or the computer, or the lamp. And we tell him “Henry, No!” and he smiles at you and goes for the thing again and then you have to pick him up and put him somewhere else and he screams. But I figured it out. The daycare rooms are like super baby proofed. It’s like he can crawl around there, mess with anything in his reach, and he’s not breaking any rules. That’s one of the reasons why he enjoys it there so much. It’s like when you’re a first time parent people are always telling you that kids need structure and they do, but they are also happy when they can do their thing and crawl around the room and touch everything and not have to remember that they aren’t supposed to touch about half the things in the room.


When Henry is older and he asks where he came from I plan on saying I picked him out at the supermarket. And look I even have the photo evidence. And in an outfit that sharp, what shopper could resist?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

John Lennon's Jukebox


Maybe Lennon is thinking, "I have a much cooler jukebox at home."

Okay, the way the story goes is that in 1965 John Lennon bought a Swiss KB Discomatic portable jukebox. What’s that you ask? It’s the 1965 equivalent of an MP3 player or an i-pod. It was a suitcase-sized thing and you could fill it with 40 of your own 45s. So John bought one, I’m sure at the time only the very rich could afford a Swiss KB Discomatic, and he filled the thing with 40 of his favorite 45s and took it with him on tour. One of the 45s Daydream/ Night Owl Blues by the Lovin’ Spoonful didn’t come out until 1966 so we know he didn’t put at least that 45 in the jukebox until then.

In 1989, the jukebox was sold for 2,500 pounds ($4,907) at a Christie’s auction. John Midwinter, a Bristol-based music promoter had the jukebox for years. Did he buy it from Lennon? Did he steal it? I don’t know.

The important thing is that the jukebox is a significant piece of pop culture history. The Beatles are the most important rock and roll band ever and this jukebox is a window into the mind of Lennon. What kind of music was he listening to in 1965? How did it influence his writing? How did it influence the Beatles' sound?

These are the questions I hoped to examine by studying the content of the jukebox.

So, what was in the thing anyway? Well, this is not an easy question, which is why it’s been months since I first heard about the jukebox and it’s taken me that long to research the songs. Now, I didn’t work on this every day, just occasionally, but it’s definitely taken some doing. It’s definitely been more work then any other blog post I’ve ever done.

Why has it been so much work? Isn’t there a website that lists all the songs that were in the jukebox? You’d think there would be, but if there is I haven’t been able to find it. Which is why I’m including a list here: The Almost Complete List of 45s in John Lennon’s Jukebox.

You see there is a list on Wikipedia, as well as a list on this PBS website, but both of these lists are just the track listings from a 2004 double CD named “John Lennon’s Jukebox.” Disc 1 had 20 songs and Disc 2 had 21 songs, totaling 41 songs. However, as I said in the beginning of the article the Swiss KB Discomatic held 40 45s and since 45s have an A and B side (hey, even a youngster like me knows that much) that would mean that there were 80 songs in Lennon’s jukebox meaning the 2 CDs only gave us half the story.

So, before I could listen to the songs and draw my conclusions, I had to figure out what those other 39 songs were. The obvious thing to do was to say, all right since Fontella Bass’s “Rescue Me” was on the CD that means that whatever the B-side was, was also in the jukebox. You also have to consider that probably Lennon bought the UK release of the 45, not the US version, so you have to make sure you find the correct edition.

Another source of information I used was a 2004 review of the Jukebox CD I found on Amazon. A guy named Laurence Upton seemed to have really done his research. He’s made 409 Amazon reviews over the years and he seems to know what he’s talking about. His review filled me in about some of the 45s that the CD skipped entirely. I tried to email him and ask him what his sources were, but he never emailed me back. The 45s he named are bolded on the list, so you can take them with a grain of salt until someone else corroborates them.

My single defeat is that even after all my research I am still short two, 45s, who knows what those 45s were. Perhaps we’ll never know and perhaps it’s better that way because those 45s can be whatever you want them to be.


So that’s the mountain of backstory, let get to the music.

One of the obvious things is that out of 40 45s only one (or three at the most, if you count the 2 mystery 45s) features a female artist. Where’s the Supremes? Where’s the Marvelletes? We know the Beatles listened to and appreciated girl groups, they even covered Please, Mr. Postman, and other girl groups songs. But for whatever reason the John Lennon jukebox is nearly all man.

My theory on this is that Lennon saw this jukebox not only as entertainment, but also as a tutor. He took this on tour with him and I think that he listened to it in part to remind him how to sing and how to rock. I think that Lennon to a certain degree looked up to some of the artists featured on the jukebox like Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Larry Williams and others. And I think he believed that there was always something more to learn by re-listening to the songs.

And of course Lennon and the Beatles didn’t only listen to the songs. A lot of the songs on the jukebox are songs that the Beatles covered or would later cover. Slipin’ and Slidin’ (Buddy Holly and Little Richard’s version are both on the jukebox) John Lennon recorded on his 1975 album Rock 'n' Roll. Paul sang an amazing versions of Richard’s Ooh! My Soul that’s on the Live at the BBC album. Larry William’s Bad Boy was on Beatles VI. The Isley Brother’s Twist and Shout was on Please Please Me and was often played at their concerts as was Little Richard’s Long Tall Sally (The Beatles released their version on an EP of the same name). Barrett Strong’s, Money (That's What I Want) was on Meet the Beatles. The Beatles sang Gene Vincent’s Be-Bop-A-Lula in their Hamburg days and Lennon and McCartney both covered the song in their solo days. In fact, someone combined Lennon and McCartney singing them solo into one track and it’s pretty good. And there are probably other examples of Lennon jukebox songs that they covered that I’m forgetting about.

By 1965, the Beatles were no longer directly emulating the rockabilly and Motown artists that came before them and/or were their contemporaries. The Beatles had developed their own sound. But there is something to be said for appreciating things like the energy of a song, the attitude, the structure, and the writing style. For instance, Glass Onion from the White Album may have been inspired by the Larry William’s song Short Fat Fannie the lyrics in Fannie featured the song titles of lots of different Rockabilly songs and Glass Onion features references to many different Beatles songs. 

Which brings me to the topic of humor in the songs on this jukebox. Lennon often liked to put some humor in his songs, I would describe a lot of his songs as playful. On the jukebox, in addition to Short Fat Fannie, Williams’ Bad Boy is also humorous. But the two most playful songs are First I Look at the Purse by the Contours, which is about a guy looking for a rich women to date and Chuck Berry’s No Particular Place to Go about a missed opportunity for a liaison due to a “safety belt that wouldn’t budge.”  

One thing that's not included on the jukebox is anything by the Beatles. Was Lennon the kind of guy that didn’t like to play his own stuff, or is this more proof that it wasn’t about entertainment it was about learning?

With only 80 total options it was surprising to me that Lennon put multiple versions of the same song on his jukebox. I guess he was the kind of person that can appreciate subtle nuances. I’m the type of person that can’t, I’d be like, “Didn’t I just hear that song?”

The original version of Some Other Guy done by Richard Barrett may have been of Lennon’s jukebox. The Big Three’s version definitely was. The Big Three were a fellow band from the Liverpool’s Merseybeat scene. The Beatles used to sing Some Other Guy in their Cavern Club days. In fact, it’s the song they’re singing in the one existing film of the Beatles performing in that club that exists. It was shot on Wednesday Aug. 22, 1962. And it’s the first film features their new drummer, Ringo Starr. There is no doubt in my mind that songs like Some Other Guy had very significant meaning to Lennon. This song reminded him of where the Beatles came from and reminded him of when they were just a couple of boys playing at a local club.

At the time a lot of the music in the jukebox was recent, but a lot of it was older music too. So there was some stuff that Lennon had been listening to since the Beatles were up and coming and this music had great significance to him and some of the stuff was just new stuff that he liked or maybe it was music that was new to him. If I only had room for 40 45s I’d only put stuff I really liked, but Lennon was taking this on tour with him, it is possible that he figured he wouldn’t get around to listening to something or would lose it unless he put it in his handy dandy jukebox.


Roughly half of the 45s are by black artists. The Beatles grew up on American Rhythm and Blues and as I’ve already stated they admired and emulated many of these artists. I think if Lennon was here he’d say something like race didn’t enter into it, if white guys would make better records I’d listen to them…Okay, we all know he’d say something much wittier and cooler.

There were at least three and possibly four 45s in the Jukebox from Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. That’s more then any other artist. Gary US Bond, The Loving Spoonful, Buddy Holly, Larry Williams, and Little Richard all have only two 45s each in the jukebox. That tells me that Lennon was a fan of Robinson. I think Lennon was moved by the emotions captured in Robinson’s songs, which seem so real. Lennon was the type of writer that put his heart on his sleeve in his lyrics and I think Robinson is one of the artists that helped teach him how to do that, how to make his songs have genuine emotion rather than the anonymous generality of some of the Beatle’s early hits like She Loves You or I Want to Hold your Hand. Lennon is said to have been emulating the style of Robinson in the song Ask Me Why. 

One of the running themes of the lyrics of the songs on the jukebox are songs that, for the time, talk about sex and relationships frankly. It’s no surprise that this should be of interest to the guy that would go on to write Happiness is a Warm Gun. Let’s look at some of the lyrics: Wilson Pickett’s In the Midnight Hour, “You’re the only girl I know that really loves me so in the midnight hour.” She Said, Yeah by Larry Williams, “She said yeah I want to make love to you too.” Pickett’s b-side, I’m Not Tired, “Give me a chance to prove my love to you, alright? I’ve been loving you for a long, long, long, long time and I’m not tired. Honey, you know I’m not tired.”

Several of the songs on the jukebox are about infidelity. Even though he later regretted it, Lennon wrote Run for Your Life about a guy who would murder his wife if she cheated on him. He would also later write Norwegian Wood that was about him being unfaithful to his first wife Cynthia. Gonna Send You Back to Georgia (A City Slicker) by Timmy Shaw tells with a woman’s infidelity “I’m gonna send you back to Georgia. Girl, that’s where you belong, since you got in the big city, you done started doing me wrong” Paul Revere & the Raiders’ Steppin' Out, is another song on the jukebox that deals with female infidelity as is Tommy Tucker's I Don't Want 'Cha (Watcha Gonna Do), “Soon as I walked out the door you started having a ball.”

But it’s not all doom and gloom for relationships on the jukebox Timmy Shaw’s I’m a Lonely Guy feature these positively sweet lyrics, “It’s a cruel little world without the one that you love…No one can live alone and by satisfied.”

One of the instrumental themes of the music on the jukebox is that the harmonica is featured in many of the songs. Lennon played the harmonica on Love Me Do, Please, Please Me, and From Me To You so he was obviously interested in other songs that featured the harmonica. Hey! Baby by Bruce Channel, features a prominent riff from well-known harmonica player Delbert McClinton who toured with the Beatles in 1962 and claims he gave Lennon some harmonica tips.  Lennon also probably dug the harmonica parts in Bob Dylan's From A Buick 6.

It’s the sad truth that some of these artists that were on Lennon’s jukebox and who inspired the Beatles will fade into obscurity. Here is one such artist, James Ray and here’s my attempt to remember him.

Born in Washington D.C., Ray stood just 5' tall and first recorded as Little Jimmy Ray, releasing Make Her Mine on the Galliant label in 1959. It was unsuccessful and by 1961 he was destitute and living on a rooftop, though still performing in clubs. Songwriter Rudy Clark befriended him, and persuaded Gerry Granahan of Caprice Records to sign him. Using the name James Ray, his first recording was of Clark's song, If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody, arranged by Hutch Davie. The record was a hit on both the pop and R&B charts. The single was issued in the UK in 1962 as well, and the song was performed by the Beatles before being discovered by Freddie and the Dreamers, who took it into the UK top 5 the year after.

In the United States, Ray's single was followed by an eponymous album that contained the follow-up single Itty Bitty Pieces, which reached #41 on the Billboard pop chart, as well as Got My Mind Set on You,also written by Clark. An edited version was released later in the year as a single on the Dynamic Sound label.

Ray died from a drug overdose soon after his chart success, possibly as early as 1962, though other sources suggest he died later in the decade.

In 1988, George Harrison did a cover of Got My Mind Set On You and had a #1 hit.

This bio is from James Ray's Wikipedia entry  

The Almost Complete List of 45s in John Lennon’s Jukebox (1965)

1) The Animals, Bring It on Home to Me/For Miss Caulker, 1965, UK

2) Len Barry, 1-2-3/Bullseye, 1965 UK

3) Fontella Bass, Rescue Me/The Soul Of The Man, 1965 UK 

4) Chuck Berry, No Particular Place to Go/Liverpool Drive, 1964 UK

5) The Big Three, Some Other Guy/Let True Love Begin, 1963 UK

6) Gary U.S. Bonds, New Orleans/Quarter to Three, 1964 UK

7) Bruce Channel, Hey! Baby/Dream Girl, 1962 UK

8) The Contours, First I Look at the Purse/Searching For A Girl, 1965 UK

9) Donovan, Turquoise/Hey Gyp (Dig The Slowness), 1965 UK

10) Bob Dylan, Positively 4th Street/From A Buick 6, 1965 UK

11) Buddy Holly, Brown-Eyed Handsome Man/Wishing, 1963 UK  

12) Buddy Holly, What To Do/Slippin’ And Slidin’, 1965 UK

13) The Isley Brothers, Twist and Shout/Spanish Twist (instrumental of Twist and Shout), 1962, UK

14) The Lovin' Spoonful, Daydream/ Night Owl Blues, 1966 UK 

15) The Lovin' Spoonful, Do You Believe in Magic/On The Road Again, 1965 UK

16) Derek Martin, Daddy Rollin' Stone/Don’t Put Me Down Like This, 1964 UK 

17) Jimmy McCracklin, The Walk/I'm To Blame, 1958 UK

18) Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Shop Around/Who's Lovin' You, 1960 US

19) Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Ain't It Baby/The Only One I Love, 1961 US

20) Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, What's So Good About Goodbye/I've Been Good to You, 1961 US

21) Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, The Tracks of My Tears/A Fork in the Road, 1965 UK

22) Bobby Parker, Watch Your Step/Steal Your Heart, 1961 UK

23) Paul Revere & the Raiders, Steppin' Out/Blue Fox, 1965 UK

24) Wilson Pickett, In the Midnight Hour/I’m Not Tired, 1965 UK

25) James Ray with the Hutch Davie Orchestra, If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody/It’s Been a 
Drag, 1962 UK

26) Otis Redding, My Girl/Down In The Valley, 1965 UK

27) Little Richard, Long Tall Sally/Slippin' and Slidin', 1956 US

28) Little Richard, Ooh! My Soul/True, Fine Mama, 1958 UK

29) Timmy Shaw with the Sternphones, Gonna Send You Back to Georgia (A City Slicker)/I’m a Lonely Guy, 1964 UK

30) Edwin Starr, Agent Double-O Soul/Agent Double-O Soul (instrumental), 1965 US

31) Barrett Strong, Money (That's What I Want)/Oh I Apologize, 1960 UK

32) Tommy Tucker, Hi-Heel Sneakers/I Don't Want 'Cha (Watcha Gonna Do), 1964 UK

33) Gene Vincent, Be-Bop-A-Lula/Woman Love, 1956 UK

34) Larry Williams, Short Fat Fannie/High School Dance, 1957 UK

35) Larry Williams, She Said, Yeah/Bad Boy, 1959 UK

36) Booker T and the MG, Boot-leg /Outrage, 1965 US

37) Arthur Alexander, You Better Move On/A Shot Of Rhythm And Blues, 1962 UK

38) Richie Barrett, Some Other Guy/Tricky Dicky, 1962 UK

39) ?

40) ?

4 bolded 45s come from an as yet uncorroborated source.
US singles were used when UK equivalents didn't exist according to my research.

Short Story of the Week (November 2012)


 Each week at the Classic Science Fiction Message Board we read a short science fiction piece (short story, novelette or novella). These stories are always available for FREE online so that anyone can participate in the discussion. The stories are chosen by a different member every month, so that we get to read a variety of stories. November's stories are being picked by Carl Anderson

I’ve lived in Blue Springs, Missouri, a town of around 40,000 that is part of the Greater Kansas City area, for the past 14 years (almost to the day). In that time I have said goodbye to my twenties, experienced highs and lows in my thirties, and have in many ways come into my own in my forties.

The 14 years I have spent here have been some of the most wonderful of my life. In a purely story-related sense this past decade plus has seen a rebirth of a passion for science fiction that had waned somewhat during my twenties. I think the advent of the internet as it exists today, particularly in the realm of book blogging, has done much to add fuel to that fire. Through the internet I discovered a passion for writing about books and sharing written conversations with others. I found a karass of my own. At the same time I found friends here in Missouri who also share my passions and our love for reading and talking about the stories we like has caused us to grow as readers in ways I am convinced would not have happened if reading had remained an entirely solitary venture.

I don’t just read. I have a great love of sports, most particularly the NFL, and over this past year I have developed a personal love for running that I never would have dreamed I would have at age 43. I was a big fan of arcade games and home console games as a child as the advent of those games occurred in my youth. Just before moving to the Kansas City area I got into computer gaming and later returned to console gaming and I spend a good amount of time each year having adventures in worlds created by talented computer programmers and game designers. I’m currently locked in to Dishonored.

I enjoy watching mystery/detective series with my wife. I’m blessed with a spouse who shares my weird sense of humor, my extreme sentimental side, and who also has her own passions unique from mine that make her fun to be around. Twenty-three years in and she remains my very best friend and the one I cannot wait to spend my evenings and weekends with.

 I recently completed a long time dream to convert our back sunroom/office into a reading/library nook. After a few more touches I’ll be posting the transformation and finished results on my site. It is small and doesn’t hold many books but it is such an amazing oasis.

I have the privilege of picking the short stories for the month of November. It is always a gamble picking short stories as you never know if they will work, if they will generate conversations, if people will love them, hate them, or be indifferent to them. All one can do is jump in with eyes wide open. As my nomination for the Modern category was chosen for November, A Fleet of Worlds, I thought I would stay in the modern realm with my stories this month, choosing more recent works from authors you may or may not have heard of but who appear to be making a name for themselves with their work today. I hope you enjoy. 

Week #1: The Art of War by Nancy Kress.

 This is from the October 2012 issue of Lightspeed Magazine and can be read online for free here. There is also an audio version available on that same link. I picked this story because of the author. I first discovered Nancy Kress’ short fiction thanks to the Eclipse anthologies edited by Jonathan Strahan. Earlier this year I received an advanced reader copy of her novella, After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall, which I thoroughly enjoyed and quickly passed on to my wife (not a big reader of SF but she liked it) and to a SF reading friend who also enjoyed it.

Nancy Kress is a multiple award-winning author and although this is not the best story that I’ve read by her I do think you can see seeds of her talent within. The Art of War takes place largely on the military base of one of humanity’s enemies and looks at warfare both artistically and mathematically. The story starts a little slow but I feel that it builds nicely and while its message(s) is not new it remains universal: those who ignore history, or in this case art history, are doomed to repeat it.

Week #2: Searching for Slave Leia by Sandra McDonald

For my second week of short story hosting duties I am sticking with my theme of featuring current stories/authors with the just released story "Searching for Slave Leia" by author Sandra McDonald. Admittedly the story barely qualifies as science fiction but as it not only coincides nicely with the latest Disney/Star Wars news and touches on the idea of science fiction television I thought it might be fun.

McDonald's character takes leaps through time between her present and her past on a mission that only becomes clear the more time she spends in that past. 80's pop culture and a nod or two at more recent science fiction television makes "Searching for Slave Leia" a light, fun tale. McDonald keeps the story
flowing quickly by keeping the jumps between time periods succinct and relevant to the story she is trying to tell.

Week #3: The Beancounter's Cat by Damien Broderick

This week's short story first appeared in Jonathan Strahan's anthology Eclipse Four and later was chosen for 2012 edition of Gardner Dozois' The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Damien Broderick's tale has flavors of Jack Vance's Dying Earth series and those old Star Trek episodes with odd superior beings advanced beyond that of mere mortals. Perhaps a pinch of Cordwainer Smith's absurdity too.

Broderick has a way to go to stand in that class, but this was a wild story that kept me on my toes until its slightly too abrupt end. I thought it would be a fun one to share.

Week #4  The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species by Ken Liu
I discovered Japanese author Ken Liu from the recently released collection, The Future is Japanese, where his story "Mono No Aware" opens the anthology on a high note. It is a story that reminds me of Tom Godwin's "The Cold Equations". That story was on my mind as I sat to pick out this week's selection and I found this story of his online from an issue of Lightspeed Magazine released in August of this year.

The story appeals to me on two levels. One it appeals because it is an imaginative selection of fragments describing various alien species. They are almost like short stories within a short story as we get a vignette of their make up. Two, and most importantly, it is a creative exercise about books and writing and the importance of these to the culture of various species. As a reader I was enchanted by the various ideas about creating books and the storing and passing on of history.

Week #5 Diving After the Moon by Rachel Swirsky

My turn at the short story helm has been an interesting one, at least for me personally. I went into it with a desire to showcase some newer writers and found myself beating my head against the wall in frustration repeatedly because some of the very best stories by these authors, stories I am convinced that you would LOVE, are only available in print at this time, not online.

Still, I pressed on with the great experiment having made the mental commitment to myself. None of this month's stories have been a roaring success and yet I have enjoyed exploring each of them for various reasons.

My final story offering is a blend of science fiction and folk tale by author Rachel Swirksy. She has won one Nebula award, in 2010, and had a few other stories nominated for Nebula and World Fantasy Awards. I tend to like stories based on mythology and folklore and I thought this experiment of setting an old world story in a future that involved travel to the moon was one worth exploring. As with all stories of this kind, I tend to feel that there are deeper meanings that I am not well-read enough to pull out. However, I was touched by the mother-son dynamic while at the same time impressed with the beauty of the storytelling.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Is There Such a Thing as Henry Proof?...

Henry looks comfortable on this car, but he can't move around on it himself, you have to push him and you have to do it really carefully or he loses his balance and falls off. He can't even get on the thing himself really. He just tries to throw himself over it and ends up looking like a sack of grain on a horse, so you have to put him in the thing. But, he sure knows how to smile for a camera.

According to my family as I child I was legendary for getting into trouble and breaking things. My parents love to tell the story about how I got a child proof record player that my uncle claimed was "indestructible". It was this big plastic contraption that came in a suitcase sized plastic shell. I broke it the first day; I used the box as a stool and stood on it to get a toy on a high shelf.

So really it is only fair that my own child would be equally aggravating. Henry is 9 months now and he is crawling around at a pretty quick pace and he tries to get into everything. We baby proofed the apartment a couple weekends ago. We moved the couch in front of the bookselves so he can't pull books off the shelf or hurt himself trying to climb them or something. We taped all the cords so he can't pull them. And we put up a baby gate in the hallway. We also ordered an extra long gate for the kitchen, but it hasn't shipped yet. So we are currently using chairs and a sheet as a second baby gate.

Anyway the point is, it doesn't matter how much baby proofing we do because the kid still finds the one or two things we can't do anything about and goes straight for them. Like we have a little memory stick sized thing hanging out of the computer that gives us the internet and Henry tries to yank it out over and over again. You pick him up and plunk him back down by his toys and he screams and crawls over to the computer again. Sometimes he has a one track mind. Carol and I joke around that he only wants to play with the things we don't want him to, but it's kind of true.

Henry has a set routine for bedtime, we call it "bath, bottle and bedtime." Usually Carol gets his bath ready and I get him undressed. Then Carol gives him his bath while I get his bottle ready and then Carol and I switch off as to who gives him the bottle and puts him to sleep. Carol usually sings him "Hey Jude" while she gives him his bottle (it is after all his middle name), but when it's my night I give him a Harry Chapin concert. I'm a Chapin fan, so I know all the lyrics. I sing him "W.O.L.D.," "Cats in the Cradle," and I usually only get a little bit into "Taxi" before he's done with the bottle and asleep. Sometimes I think about singing something else, but I never seem to. And other times I wonder about the lyrics and how the songs are about not so great dads. But, then I think it's all good, they're just fun songs and Henry doesn't really understand much English anyway. The funniest thing is that Henry isn't the only audience for our family's nightly concerts, one of our cats Stella loves to sit and hear Carol and I sing. Some nights we forget she's in there and we close Henry's door and we don't realize she's in there until we hear meowing over the baby monitor.

Henry continues to amaze me. He can already feed himself. He eats Cherrios and little bits of pear. But I'm most impressed with the fact that you can give him half a banana and he'll just sit there and eat it one bite at a time. And he has already learned how to share. When he's eating his Cheerios if I come and say hi to him he'll offer me one. Sometimes when we're playing on the floor he'll offer me the toy he's playing with.

Oh and everyone will be happy to know that Henry is now saying "Ma Ma,"  and "Da Da." I think Carol was a little jealous when all he was saying was "Da da." He also says "yes." Sometimes you'll tell him "no" and he'll say "yes." 9-months-old and he's already talking back. Something tells me this kid is going to be a handful. It's a good thing he's so darn cute.


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Short Story of the Week (October 2012)

Each week at the Classic Science Fiction Message Board we read a short science fiction piece (short story, novelette or novella). These stories are always available for FREE online so that anyone can participate in the discussion. The stories are chosen by a different member every month, so that we get to read a variety of stories. October's stories are being picked by Jim Harris

I’ve lived in Memphis, Tennesse since 1971, but spent most of my first 20 years living in Miami Florida, but also lived in South Carolina, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Texas.  I’ve been married since 1978, to my wonderful wife Susan.  She sometimes reads science fiction, but mostly not.
I’d say science fiction is the defining attribute of my life.  Science fiction gave my childhood a tremendous sense of wonder that has never diminished.
I discovered Robert A. Heinlein in 1964 and he became my literary father, and lifelong favorite science fiction writer, although I rebelled against him four years later because of the Vietnam War.  After I got over my Heinlein hero worship, I read widely in science fiction, finding many writers to admire, but I never found any other science fiction book that gave me the sense-of-wonder thrills than those 12 Heinlein juveniles I read at age thirteen.
I moved to Memphis in 1971, I joined the local science fiction club, started going to conventions, put out fanzines and apazines, and embraced the whole fan culture.  I gafiated in 1974 and sold off my whole collection of books and pulp magazines. Because of getting married, finishing college and starting my career in computers, I didn’t read science fiction for many years.
For some reason in 1984, I got back into science fiction, and have been reading it ever since. 
In 2002 I joined and I started buying audio books of all the science fiction I read as a teenager.  I still read science fiction with my eyes, but I mostly listen to it.  I love finding audio editions of classic science fiction short stories, but they aren’t that common.  

Week #1- "Tumithak of the Corridors" by Charles R. Tanner 

From the January 1932 issue of Amazing Stories.  I discovered this story decades ago in Asimov's Before the Golden Age anthology.  All I can remember about the story was it was my favorite of the whole anthology.  I haven't even reread it yet.  I thought it would be fun to see if it's still good, and for us to read something really old.

If you like Tumithak, there was three sequels that were made into a book.  Amazon even has it as a $3.99 ebook.

Week #2- "The Chronic Argonauts" by H. G. Wells

Did you know that H. G. Wells wrote this short story about time travel seven years before his classic novella, "The Time Machine" came out in 1895? 

I vaguely knew this and always meant to check it out, but until now I haven't.  I'm hoping that picking it for this week's story will get me to finally read it.  I always thought it was just a shorter version of the novella, but that's not true.

By the way I have this really cool edition of THE TIME MACHINE called A Norton Critical Edition edited by Stephen Arata, which contains both stories and many essays, early reviews and even an alternate ending and other writings by Wells related to the story.  Here's what they say about it at Amazon:

Intrigued by the possibilities of time travel as a student and inspired as a journalist by the great scientific advances of the Victorian Age, Wells drew on his own scientific publications—on evolution, degeneration, species extinction, geologic time, and biology—in writing The Time Machine. This Norton Critical Edition is based on the first London edition of the novel. It is accompanied by detailed explanatory annotations and “A Note on the Text.”

“Backgrounds and Contexts” is organized thematically into four sections: “The Evolution of The Time Machine” presents alternative versions and installments and excerpts of the author’s time-travel story; “Wells’s Scientific Journalism (1891–94)” focuses on the scientific topics central to the novel; “Wells on The Time Machine” reprints the prefaces to the 1924, 1931, and 1934 editions; and “Scientific and Social Contexts” collects five widely read texts by the Victorian scientists and social critics Edwin Ray Lankester, Thomas Henry Huxley, Benjamin Kidd, William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), and Balfour Stewart and Peter Guthrie Tait.

“Criticism” includes three important early reviews of The Time Machine from the Spectator, the Daily Chronicle, and Pall Mall Magazine as well as eight critical essays that reflect our changing emphases in reading and appreciating this futuristic novel. Contributors include Yevgeny Zamyatin, Bernard Bergonzi, Kathryn Hume, Elaine Showalter, John Huntington, Paul A. Cantor and Peter Hufnagel, Colin Manlove, and Roger Luckhurst.

A Chronology and Selected Bibliography are also included.

Week #3- "Gulf" by Robert Heinlein 

"Gulf" is a fascinating story. It was a trial run back in 1949 for what Heinlein would later explore in Stranger in a Strange Land.

"Gulf" might be one of the most subtly offensive stories ever written for science fiction, and might reveal the basic beliefs of Heinlein.  It appears to suggest, if you study this story in context of his other writing, that Heinlein thought he knew better than other people about how things should work.  There's a kind of hidden elitism here that's fascinating to observe.  I think back in the 1940s and 1950s science fiction fans really wanted to be Slans.

Apologists for Heinlein always claim that his characters aren't speaking for him.  But when you hear character after character express the same old ideas, it's hard to believe that.

It explores the problem:  Do geniuses know how to rule better than ordinary men?

The story deals with language and developing the mind.  It also deals with ESP, but a different take.

I think this story is worth knowing as part of knowing about science fiction history.

Week #4 "The Scarlet Plague" by Jack London

Here's another classic science fiction story, "The Scarlet Plague" by Jack London. It's a little long though. It's something I've always wanted to read.

Friday, September 21, 2012

How Do You Take a Baby's Temperature?


Henry is only 8 months old, but he’s already proving one of the laws of raising children, no matter what you buy them they are going to end up playing with the box the thing came in for even longer than the actual present. Case in point, one of Henry’s favorite toys is the empty box a case of diapers came in. We had it lying around because one of our cat’s Spock would go in it and sleep. But one day I had the bright idea to put Henry in it and push him around and the rest, as they say, is history. Now I’m pushing him all around the apartment and making train noises every night and he loves it. It’s like a roller coaster for babies.

Taking Henry to the grocery store can be a lot of fun. Something about it puts him on his best behavior. I think he is the kind of person that likes to get out of the house and see the world. When he’s holed-up inside the apartment playing with his toys all day he gets cranky, but if you take him out to the stores or on a walk he doesn’t make a peep. He’s too busy looking around at everything and everybody. If you park the grocery cart in one spot Henry will track people as they go about their shopping. I was in the produce section last week and two or three people commented on how observant Henry was and how he was watching what they were doing. I couldn’t help but wonder at what age does being observant fail to be cute? At what age will people start to say, “Why is your kid staring at me?”

Last month I talked about reading “Green Eggs and Ham” to Henry (and even posted a video) about how I started developing voices for the characters. I guess it’s just something to do when you’re reading the same stories to the kid over and over again. Well, I’ve also started doing voices for “The Cat in the Hat.” I’ll spare you a video this month, but I will say that my voice for the Cat is a sort of obsequious used car salesman. I can picture him saying something like “we’ll find you the perfect car. I just know you’re going to love it.” Carol said that my Cat has an affectation. My voice for the fish is definitely out there; I just started doing it because it amused me. His voice is my attempt at Sean Connery and depending on the night it sounds something like a Darrell Hammond’s Connery or on worse nights just some sort of bizarre attempt at a Scottish accent, but Henry doesn’t care. I think he’s just trying to figure out what the heck is happening in that crazy story.

Henry had his first bad cold and fever this past week. He seems to be all over it now, but for a couple of days we constantly had to check his temperature. How do you check a baby’s temperature?… All the parents are laughing now…. Well let’s just say it’s easiest to check his temperature while you’re changing his diaper. I felt sorry for the kid; I certainly wouldn’t want anyone to stick a thermometer up there. Have you ever seen the Skeptical Baby meme? One of them says “You want to take my temperature where exactly?”  Carol and I both caught Henry’s cold too. One night, Henry is in the bathtub and Carol starts taking her temperature the normal way under her tongue and I’m whispering to her, “don’t do that in front of the baby, it’s cruel to let him know there are other ways we could be taking his temperature.” Hence my contribution to the meme “You mean to tell me there are other ways you could have taken my temperature.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Short Story of the Week (September 2012)


Neil is picking the stories this month but he gave the first one to me ahead of time and told me I could write his bio. :)

Neil, who hails from Oregon City, Oregon, comes from a long line of Neils. In fact he has traced his line all the way back to King Neil the First who did all the real heavy lifting against the Persian Empire before that Alexander guy came in and took all the credit.

Present day Neil’s first brush with science fiction occurred when he was introduced to Theodore Sturgeon at a dinner party and he asked Sturgeon what he did for a living and Sturgeon replied that he wrote science fiction. And Neil said, “Isn’t 90% of that crap?” Everybody laughed at his quip and the Sturgeon asked, “Mind if I steal that?”

But, after that rocky start Neil developed a great love for science fiction. He devoured such classics as “The Foundation,” “Dune,” and “They’d Rather Be Right.” And I mean he literally devoured them, as in he ate the books. I know it’s kind of strange isn’t it? Pictured above are some of the novels in his home that he hasn’t had a chance to eat yet

Other then enjoying a tasty science fiction novel, Neil has two other passions in life: skydiving and weight lifting. Here are two recent pictures of Neil enjoying his hobbies.         

louandskydivingcopy Neil skydiving and Lou  Ferrigno...I mean Neil lifting some weights.

Neil is a true renaissance man he has also dabbled in the entertainment business, he wrote and sang lots of number one hit songs like “Breaking Up is Hard to Do” and “Sweet Caroline.” And he wrote such Tony award winning plays as the “Odd Couple” and “Barefoot in the Park.” He costars on the hit comedy show “How I Met Your Mother.” And, he was the first man to walk on the moon. 

September Short Fiction

Week #1 How to Become a Mars Overlord by Cathryn M Valente

Neil said, "Valente is one of the most imaginative writers out there right now in my opinion."

According to Wikipedia, "Valente's work tends to center on folkloric and mythological themes, reimagining fairy tales and genre tropes via feminist, surrealist, and postmodern lenses. Her writing is characterized by stylistic and structural experimentation as well as complex linguistic and poetic techniques."

Her novel "Palimpest" was nominated for a Hugo Award.

Week #2 Spider the Artist by Nnedi Okarofor

Who Fears Death was one of my favorite books I read this year. Nnedi Okarofor
has a different voice that get's right into your head when you read her words.

Anyway a story about oil, zombies and music in Spider the Artist.

Week #3 Super-Toys Last All Summer Long by Brian Aldiss

A classic from 1969, the inspiration for the movie A.I. Artificial Intelligence.

Aldiss is one of those authors who can really create an atmosphere in his
writing, I think he captures the feeling of loneliness,almost hopelessness with
this story.

Week #4 The Ferryman by Eric Brown

I started the book that was based on this story this week. It's an interesting
premise. What would happen to the world if aliens arrived and gave humanity
immortality, it's seen through the experiences of a small Yorkshire village.

I'm not sure how successful the book is yet but this story definitely has the
human element down.

Week #5 The Streets of Ashkelon by Harry Harrison

This seemed appropriate, I remember reading it a long time ago, this and
Moorcock's Behold the Man had a profound affect on me.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Thoughts on "The Time Traders"



“The Time Traders” (1958) is the first Andre Norton book I’ve read. I was a little bit surprised that it was a typical 50s science fiction action/adventure story. I mean, I guess I incorrectly thought that since it was written by a woman it would have some sort of feminine touch, but there was only one female character in the entire novel and her part in the story was pretty much insignificant.

The book felt like one of those old movie serials because the hero was constantly getting himself into some sort of cliffhanger moment. I found myself constantly thinking, “How is he going to get himself out of this one?” Through out the course of the novel the hero, Ross Murdock is captured, hit so hard he develops amnesia, tortured, left for dead, shot at, falls into the river, captured again, tortured again, etc.

At the beginning of the story Ross has been found guilty of a crime and is meeting with his judge. The judge tells him that his two options are mental rehabilitation or signing up for a secret government mission. This beginning really reminded me of the beginning of “The Stainless Steel Rat.” I wonder if Harry Harrison ever read “The Time Traders”?

I thought it was neat how at the beginning of the novel Ross doesn’t care about anyone and he just wants to escape, but as the novel progresses this changes. The first change occurs when Ross runs away from the base with a guy that turns out to be a Russian agent. Ross suddenly realizes he does care about America. And then, when he finds out the project concerns time travel, well then Ross is interested because he craves adventure. And as the story progresses Ross forms a friendship with Ashe his mentor and fellow agent.

I really liked the concept of this novel that the Russian and the American in addition to the “space race” were having a “time travel race” and the prize was that somewhere there was advanced technology in the past. It was an intriguing mystery.

I thought the part where Ross has amnesia and thinks he really is a Beaker Trader got to be confusing especially when he’s going through the Russian time machine and ending up who knows when. But, it became less muddled once he got to the alien spaceship and remembered who he was.

I thought it was really cool that Norton didn’t spell everything out. We learn almost nothing about the aliens in the novel. What are they like? Are they evil to the core or, do they just think humans aren’t ready for their technology? And is their civilization still around in the present?

It is also only subtlely implied that Ross has certain mental powers. He says he was such a good criminal because he could read people. Was that undeveloped telepathy or empathy? Then the aliens took a special interest in him. Was that interest really just because he took a pair or their clothing or, was it because they sensed latent mental ability? And then at the end of the book two of the aliens try to invade Ross’s mind and he fights them off with the raw power of his mind. I hope the sequels farther develop this angle.

I’ve already started the next book in the series “The Galactic Derelict” and am excited that it has a Western theme with the point of view character being a “modern day” Apache.  

Henry is on the Move


Henry is 7 months old and he is on the move. He crawls all around the room, but he doesn’t really use his knees, he just sort of army crawls. Or he just rolls where he wants to go. But he gets into everything. He tries to eat my socks and my shoes or he plays with the cat’s scratching post. Right now he still moves slow enough that I can stop him before he gets into trouble, but when he gets his knees involved and really starts moving he’s going to need a lot more minding.

I know I say this every month but Henry really is a genius. The other night he crawled over to where we keep some of his books in the living room and started to pick all of them out and put them down in different spots and then he looked at them all like he was trying to decide which one I should read to him that night. One of his teachers at daycare has a video of him flipping through a board book by himself.

Henry’s started to talk but the only words he says are “Da Da Da.” At first that made me feel good like he really liked me, but he calls his toys “Da Da” too so that makes it less special.

One time, it was four in the morning and Henry started to talk in his crib and we heard him on the monitor, “Da Da Da.” Carol turns to me and says, “he’s asking for you, I guess you better go feed him.”

I had a breakthrough the other day with Henry. I started teaching him how to make monkey noises. I said Oh-oh-ah Ah! And scratched my head and danced around with my arms flailing. And he loved it, he laughed and laughed. The very next day I get home from work and Carol says, “I hope you’re happy, he’s been making monkey sounds all day.” He learned that in one day, the kids a genius!


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Short Story of the Week (August 2012)

Each week at the Classic Science Fiction Message Board we read a short science fiction piece (short story, novelette or novella). These stories are always available for FREE online so that anyone can participate in the discussion. The stories are chosen by a different member every month, so that we get to read a variety of stories. August's stories are being picked by me (loveable furry old Grover):


I started life as a child and the first novels that really meant a lot to me were “Gulliver’s Travels” and “Robinson Crusoe.” The first science fiction book I remember reading was “The Foundation” and I’ve been hooked ever since. 

Some fun facts about me:

I was recruited by the FBI for my talent of speaking pig-latin.

I can pat my head and rub my tummy while crewing gum and walking and then stick my tongue out and touch my ear.

I know lots of different card games but I almost won a lot of money at a 52-pick-up tournament in Las Vegas.


Week #1 “Genesis” by H. Beam Piper

A story about space colonists that’s mother ship is destroyed and they are forced to live without their technology. Piper, is best remembered for the novel “Little Fuzzy” and the short story “Omnilingual,” but he has written lots of other great stories many of which are out of copyright and are available for FREE online here.

Week #2 "The Unnullified World" by Lloyd Biggle Jr.

This story is about a man going to the planet Llayless to track down a murderer.
The hitch is that Llayless is a planet without laws! One of Biggle's novels "Monument" was one of the Classic Group Reads in 2011.

Week #3 "The Repairman" by Harry Harrison

A lot of us, myself included, are pretty broken up about Harrison's death, so I thought it would be appropriate to read and discuss one of his short stories this week as sort of a tribute.

"The Repairman" stuck me as having a lot of the Harrison elements.

There is a male protagonist who lives to buck authority, but finds that authority is always three steps ahead of him. It's got some space travel, some adventure, some wacky aliens, but it's down to earth. I mean the guy's a repairman.

Week #4 "Forever" by Robert Sheckley

In this short and humorous tale Charles Dennison runs into all kinds of trouble when he discovers the secret to immortality.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Lennon Versus McCartney


It’s one of the great rock and roll debates, who was the better songwriter for the Beatles John Lennon or Paul McCartney. Any fan of the Beatles probably has their favorite. So a debate over each one’s merits can be an endless discussion and probably lots of fun, but artistically there may be no true answer. But I decided to look at a small part of the argument mathematically.

So the first thing I decided was what I was going to look at and I decided focus on their singles and only count number 1 hits. If it was a number one hit in the UK or the US, I counted it. If it only got to number 2, I didn’t count it. I did this to keep it simple. We’re going for who’s got the bragging rights here, so if it didn’t reach number 1 then it wasn’t a true hit!

I didn’t factor in how long it was a number 1 hit. For my purposes it doesn’t matter.

                                                                              Written by     
                                                            Lennon            McCartney       Both      Harrison
27 number 1 hits in UK or US                 8                        14                 4              1   
19 number 1 hits in UK                           7                         9                  3               -
22 number 1 hits in US                            7                         11                3               1
14 number 1 hits in Both                         6                         6                  2              -

Okay, so lets look at that data. It shows that McCartney has 6 songs on Lennon overall. A staggering number when you consider that most people consider them nearly equally accomplished songwriters. 

But this didn’t tell me the whole story. When I started thinking about this I had the hypothesis that Lennon was the stronger writer when the Beatles first started and that McCartney ended up surpassing him at some point. So, I decided what I needed to do was to look at this year by year.


                                                          Lennon             McCartney                   Both
1 number 1 hits UK or US                    -                              1                             -                  
0 number 1 hits UK                              -                              -                              -
1 number 1 hits US                               -                               1                             -
0 number 1 hits in both                        -                               -                             -

Winner- McCartney has the single hit for this year, "Love Me Do" went #1 in America. I didn't realize the Beatles went #1 in America first. "Love Me Do" got to #4 in the UK.
                                                          Lennon             McCartney                   Both
3 number 1 hits UK or US                    -                                 -                         3
3 number 1 hits UK                              -                                 -                         3         
2 number 1 hits US                               -                                 -                         2
2 number 1 hits in both                        -                                 -                         2

Winner- None. This is the year of teamwork, with 3 #1 hits that were collaborative efforts. "She Loves You," and "I Want to Hold Your Hand" were #1 on both sides of the pond. And "From Me to You" was #1 in the UK, but only #41 in the US.
                                                          Lennon             McCartney                  Both
4 number 1 hits UK or US                    2                               1                         1                     
4 number 1 hits UK                              2                               1                          -
4 number 1 hits US                               2                               1                         1
3 number 1 hits in both                        2                               1                         -

Winner- Lennon wrote "Hard Day's Night" and "I Feel Fine," which were #1 in both countries. McCartney's contribution this year was "Can't Buy Me Love, which went to #1 in the UK and the US. Meanwhile, collaboratively written "Eight Days a Week" was only released as a single in the US, where it got to #1. 
                                                          Lennon             McCartney                Both
5 number 1 hits UK or US                      3                           2                          -
4 number 1 hits UK                                3                           1                          -
4 number 1 hits US                                 2                           2                          -          
3 number 1 hits in both                          2                           1                          -

Winner- Lennon wrote "Help" and "Ticket to Ride" both topped the charts on both sides of the pond. "Day Tripper" was #1 in the UK, but #5 in the US. Meanwhile, McCartney had a #1 in both countries with "We Can Work it Out," and "Yesterday" was #1 in the US, but topped at #8 in the UK. "Day Tripper" and "We Can Work it Out" were a double A-side single.
                                                          Lennon             McCartney                   Both
3 number 1 hits UK or US                    -                            3                             -    
3 number 1 hits UK                              -                            3                             -
1 number 1 hits US                               -                            1                              -
1 number 1 hits in both                        -                            1                              -

Winner- McCartney had a good year with "Paperback Writer" reaching #1 in the UK and the US. Double A-side "Eleanor Rigby" and "Yellow Submarine" both got to # 1 in the UK, but "Eleanor only got to #11 in the US and Yellow Submarine was almost there reaching #2. Lennon didn't write a #1 hit single this year.

                                                          Lennon             McCartney                   Both
3 number 1 hits UK or US                     1                             2                            -
2 number 1 hits UK                               1                             1                            -
3 number 1 hits US                                1                             2                            -
2 number 1 hits in both                         1                             1                            -

Winner- McCartney has a #1 hit in The UK and the US with "Hello Goodbye." He also reaches #1 in the US with "Penny Lane" in the UK it only gets to #2. Penny Lane was a double A-side with Lennon's "Strawberry Fields," which also reaches #2 in the UK, but only #8 in the US. Lennon's #1 hit in the UK and the US this year was "All You Need is Love".
                                                          Lennon             McCartney                   Both
2 number 1 hits UK or US                      -                            2                           - 
2 number 1 hits UK                                -                            2                           -
1 number 1 hits US                                 -                            1                           -
1 number 1 hits in both                          -                            1                           -

Winner- McCartney goes #1 on both sides of the pond with "Hey Jude" and "Lady Madonna" reaches #1 in the UK, but only #4 in the US. Lennon does not have a #1 hit single this year.
                                                          Lennon             McCartney       Both      Harrison
6 number 1 hits UK or US                      2                            3                -             1           
2 number 1 hits UK                                1                            1                -             -
6 number 1 hits US                                 2                            3                -             1
2 number 1 hits in both                          1                            1                -             -

Winner- McCartney "Get Back" goes # 1 in the UK and the US. "Let it Be" is #1 in the US, but only gets to #2 in the UK and the Long and Winding Road is only released as a single in the US where it reaches #1. Lennon's "Ballad of John and Yoko" is a #1 hit the UK and the US and "Come Together" is a #1 in the US, but only #4 in the UK. And George Harrison gets his first #1 hit single Something gets to # 1 in the US, but only #4 in the UK. "Come Together" and "Something" were a double A-side single.
Overall Winner-McCartney. As we saw from the first chart McCartney had nearly double the number of #1 singles, so It's no surprise he is the overall winner with 5 years vs. Lennon winning 2. But it definitely seems like my hypothesis might be right, Lennon did seem to be more dominate in the Beatle's earlier period winning 1964 and 1965.

Conclusions- I don't really know how much this data tells us. I mean I didn't factor in a large number of EPs that went #1 in the UK. Plus, I didn't look at the Beatles albums and see what the breakdown of songs was there. Plus all I did was crunch some numbers based on sales. I mean talking about what I think of their songs would be a totally different discussion. The fact that Penny Lane is on the list, but Strawberry Fields isn't because it only got to #2 in the UK and #8 in the US was almost enough for me to scrap the whole project, because in my mind there is no comparison Strawberry Fields is a much better song. But I guess that just means I'll have to write some more of these in the future.