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One of the first books I ever bought was Ray Bradbury's THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES. I think I had bought some STAR TREK books before that, but THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES was my first, well, -real- book. It was there that I think I first really fell in love with reading; when I first realized how beautiful language could be. I could say a lot about the the man and his books (though maybe the last sentence says all that needs to be said), and I think that it's already being done by others who are far better wordsmiths than I. But I will pass on a few thoughts.

I have a short piece by Bradbury titled "Tricks! Treats! Gangway!" that I pulled out of an old Reader's Digest. It is the recollection of Halloween in 1928 and if I ever get hold of a time machine, I want to go back to then and spend that wonderous holiday (before it became so commercialized)--provided that I too get to be eight year old-- with young Ray and his decidedly weird family.

He is the only one of the GRAND OLD MASTERS that I got to see and hear in person. He was getting some award or something at the Tulsa Library and was giving a speech that was free to attend. He was delightful, charming and very funny, not to mention the very definition of a gentleman. I took a couple of his books with me thinking that I might get them autographed. I'm not much of an autograph seeker, but hey, the guy who turned me onto reading? At least I'd have that to say to him. Anyway, I wasn't sure if there would be just a few people there or hundreds. Turned out to be the later, and I decided that it was unlikely he would be sitting there long enough to sign all of the books that people were lining up for, so I let it go. Sorta kicking myself for that now, of course.

The last few years I have made it a tradition to spend most of October reading creepy stuff. Bradbury usually gets represented by at least a few short stories. Last year I re-read SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES. It had been so long since I read it that I had forgotten just how scary that book is. Not nightmare inducing, just feakin' creepy. If you haven't read it and want a nice, fun little scare, give it a go.

I guess that's about it. It's just sad knowing that he won't be around anymore, but that sadness is countered by knowing how richer my life has become because of this man. I think I'll spend the rest of the evening revisiting some dead Martian cities.
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Is that too flippant? Sorry, but that's what it feels like.

I am of course talking about the recent death of Kathy Wentworth. In case you haven't heard (hard to believe in the the days of the interweb), she died April 18th of complications from cervical cancer. There were a few people who knew about her condition for close to a year, but it was Kathy's wish that the news not be spread around so we respected her wishes.

It still seems very unreal to me, and yesterday I realized there are a couple of reasons why.

First, I learned that Kathy had cancer while talking to her on the phone, and while I spoke with here several times, she was always worn out or just feeling sick from the chemotherapy, and she didn't feel like having company (Kathy was a very private person), so even though I knew about her condition, I never actually saw her again. The last time I saw her she was a laughing, happy person. Certainly not the worst way to remember a person, but if she'd have asked me to visit, I'd have dropped everything.

Second, this whole situation is new to me. I suppose I've been lucky in this. I've lost relatives before, but they were all far older (grandparents), and friends, but they had passed away after I had lost contact with them, so the impact wasn't quite so hard. But this time, there has been no distance. The wound is fresh. The pain is deeper.

Kathy was special to many people for many reasons, but if you will, I will tell you why she was special to me. There was a time when, due to circumstances that I will not bore you with, I was losing contact with a lot of my friends. It was not my choosing, just the way of the world, I suppose. Kathy was one of the few of whom I didn't stop hearing from, which is actually a bit odd in retrospect, in that we hadn't been all that close before. But Kathy invited me to OSFW (Oklahoma Science Fiction Writers), even though I wasn't (and still am not) a writer. She invited me out with her husband and friends (who in turn became -MY- friends) to go to dinner or go to a movie. And of course, we worked on Conestoga together, sometimes seeming to hold it together with chewing gum and Duct Tape (which, BTW pretty much describes the Special effects department of the Penguin Playhouse). Ironically, as I write this, I realize that this weekend is the second anniversary of the last Conestoga. Hmm... So, Kathy was a person who helped to drag me back into the world. I guess I owe it to her to stay here.

I ask that everyone please keep her husband Richard in your thoughts at this time.

And so, in closing, and to help keep myself (and others) here in the world, I'll borrow the words of someone who -IS- a writer; Suzette Haden Elgin:

Consolation:

There is only one way out of grief;
that is to go though it and beyond it.

Turn away from grief and it will follow you everywhere;
it will be your shadow even in darkness.

Turn toward it now and know that it can be encountered,
that it can be learned from,
that it can be grown through,
that it can be surpassed.

Move now, without fear or hesitation,
toward the borders of sorrow,
and pass through them.


Goodbye, Kathy
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We went to see THE HUNGER GAMES today. I can't say how good an adaptation it is, as I haven't read the book, but enjoyed the movie aside from some occasional jerky camera work. Good performances all around. I may just have to read the books.
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So, I have been re-reading once again the adventures of Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. I was coming up to the classic "Lean Times in Lankhmar", one of the best of the lot. I put it off for a couple of days, largely because I knew that I wasn't going to have a lot of reading time and once you start that particular story you really don't want to stop. That's what I told myself anyway. When I finally got the time, I sat there chuckling along with our heroes (when not snickering or laughing out loud) when I suddenly wondered if I hadn't put it off subconsciously for another reason.

I was reading it on the Saturday evening between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Now for those not familiar with "Lean Times in Lankhmar" (shame on you!), it is a somewhat odd Fafhrd and Mouser story in that it has very little in the way of either swords or sorcery, which F&M stories are usually overflowing with. What it does have, aside from barrels of laughs, is lots of commentary on religion, specifically how they begin, evolve and a bit on how they end. So, realizing that I was reading this story at a time that so many consider to be the highest of holy times just added to the enjoyment.

So, was my brain, in making me wait to read the story, actually being more clever than I usually give it credit for, or was it just serendipity?

Eh! Who cares? Fafhrd and Mouser: fun! If you haven't read "Lean Times in Lankhmar", do it now.







Why are you still looking at this entry? I said got read the story NOW!
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So, yesterday I commented on someone else's LJ that I felt gyped because I had slept right through my first earthquake (the one that happened early Saturday morning). The fact that I slept through it isn't all that surprising in that as a kid I slept through the the neighbors house catching on fire and and all of the subsequent firetrucks, sirens and yelling (Really! Couldn't figure out why every other member of the family looked so haggard the next morning).
Anyway, Last night, I was sitting there reading the latest Terry Pratchett novel with the TV on waiting for the news to come on with the sound muted. I was waiting for the news because I had gone to the Occupy Tulsa Rally yesterday and I wanted to see if the local news actually covered the event. The sound was muted because the news was an hour late because of some goddamned effing football game! [can someone explain to me why a game that is supposed to be an hour long and actually takes FOUR GODDAMNED HOURS to play is considered exciting?...but I digress]. Anyway, the game is finally over, the news comes on, and the first story is the earthquake that happened earlier in the day...when suddenly the house starts shaking. I mean really bloody SHAKING! It felt like one of those really close, loud thunderclaps that shake the whole house but with no big noise and it just keeps going on for about a minute. Barb had just gone to bed but she was jolted out by the shaking and we stood in an archway just in case. We were somewhat ah...shaken...by the experience, as were the folks on the local news, I might add. Current estimates are that it was a 5.6 which is record for Oklahoma.
I've heard people from the west coast wonder how we can live in an area with all of the tornadoes we have 'round these parts. Well, all I have to say is that at least with a tornado you usually get some warning (unless, ah, you manage to sleep through it). But it's great to know that along with tornadoes, torrential flooding, blizzards and ice storms, we now have to worry about earthquakes as well. I -THINK- we're safe from tsunamis at least, but if there's one that could get us in Oklahoma, I don't think there's much else we'd NEED to worry about.
So I can now say that I have experienced an earthquake and quite frankly the cost can have 'em.
Earthquakes! Been there, Done that. Now where's my damn t-shirt?
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I haven't posted anything in quite awhile. I just haven't had anything important to say. Sadly, today I do.

Many of you may already know that Suzette Haden Elgin hasn't posted anything on her LJ since April, Today I learned that she has Alzheimer's, and that, combined with other health issued have left her unable to focus on anything--even e-mail.

If anyone wishes to send her a card, her address is:

OCLS
P.O. Box 1137
Huntsville, AR
72740-1137

Her husband George will make sure she gets them.

Suzette and I go back a long way (can it really be 25 years or so?). We have traveled to cons together, stayed up till the wee hours of the morning singing and talking. We recorded filk tapes together (remember tapes?). So much wiser than I, she has given me a lot of advice over the years. Most of it I took. Most of the rest... well, I wish I had. I often think of her as my extra grandmother.

To learn this news about anyone is hard. No. It's crushing. But when this affects someone for whom language and communication were SO important--for whom they were EVERYTHING,...it just seems especially cruel.

I can't think of anything else to say right now, except that its strange that it takes something like this to get me to post.

I just feel kinda lost...and a little broken.
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[Previously on Farrandy's Livejournal: Randy was getting himself psyched up to have a FREAKIN' NEEDLE SHOVED INTO HIS SPINE.....]



So, we went in yesterday (Wednesday) morning so I could have FREAKIN' NEEDLE SHOVED INTO MY SPINE (See? It didn't do ya any good to skip over the "Previously on..." bit). It was pretty much identical to when Barb had the same procedure done to her neck last week. First they came in a stuck the FIRST &*&$#@ NEEDLE into the back of my hand (this is for the pain killer before the stick the FREAKIN' NEEDLE IN MY SPINE, so I'm actually sorta grateful for that one, but somehow on the back of the hand is just, I dunno, disturbing for some reason [and I mean despite the fact that it's a NEEDLE]). So after sitting in this room for about twenty minutes, reading the paper (trying to ignore the fact that there is a LONG CYLINDRICAL POINTY THING in the back of my hand [thought you might be getting tired of seeing the word NEEDLE in all caps...ooops!]), they take me back into this other room where the background music was Bill Wither's "Stand by Me" (considering I don't expect to be to sure on my feet afterwords, the line "We all need somebody to lean on" seemed appropriately ironic). They laid me on a table with a hole in it and a cushion for your face like a massage table (probably trying to lull one into a false sense of security, but I knew what was coming) and proceeded to stick the -THE- NEEDLE into my SPINE.

Barely felt it actually, and better still, couldn't see it at all. It didn't take long; "Stand by Me" had finished and they had me out of there before the next song was finished. It was REM doing "Stand". I swear I am NOT making this up.

They took me back to the first room wear Barb was still waiting with my coat my wallet and my book (fortunately no one had tried to mug her while I was gone; not that there was any money in the wallet, but I wasn't finished with the book). I sat there for a while and amused myself by being nauseous. When I got tired of that they said I could go.

Barb took me home via a route that seemed to have a lot more turns, bumps and dips than I remember it normally having, I and I sat down in the rocking chair for a few minutes before deciding that going to bed might be a good idea (okay, Barb thought it might be a good idea in that I looked like I was going to fall out of the chair, so I agreed with her).

I did that thing, got up a couple hours later, ate some food (which happily stayed where I put it) I wandered around the house thinking that it sure is blurry in here and then went back to bed for a couple more hours. Got up because, wouldn't ya know, the painkiller was wearing off, had a little more food, read for a little bit and went to bed.

Woke up today, kinda achy and stiff but as the day wore on, I got to feeling better. Still some pain in the hip and leg, but it already seems to be better that it was a couple of days ago. I plan on going in to work tomorrow. Thanks everyone for your good wishes.


[See, this is why I don't LJ very often: writing this shit takes a long time 'cause I tend to run on and I doubt that it's that interesting anyway]
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So, for the past couple of months, I've been having this annoying pain in my left hip. I went to the doctor and he said "You put the lime in the coconut, you drink it all up!" Okay, he didn't say that; he said he thought I might just have pulled something and to use some pain killers, and continue the physical therapy I had been doing to keep my back from going out, and check back with him. So I do that and around the time of the great February Snowblitz it started to get worse. Like shooting pains down my leg, my left foot being constantly numb, fun stuff like that. I was scheduled to see the doctor anyway, but I got some wifely loving persuasion to go ahead and schedule an MRI. [Translation: "Stop trying to MAN your way through this. Its not getting any better! DO something about before it gets worse!"].* So I scheduled an MRI.

Ever had an MRI? It's like being crammed in a test tube and forced to listen to industrial music. I'm kidding really. Industrial music is much worse.

Anyway, my doctor gets the results back from the MRI and he said "Ooo-Eee-Ooo-Ah-ah! Ting Tang, Walla-walla Bing Bang!" Okay, he didn't say that either. He told me that I was the proud father of a bouncing baby bulging disc. It's pressing on the Sciatic nerve. Oh, the pain! The pain!

So. Tomorrow morning (Wednesday) I'm going in to HAVE A NEEDLE SHOVED INTO MY SPINE (not that I'm concerned about it at all, except that, you know, its a freakin' NEEDLE. In my SPINE, fer Gaia's sake!) for a shot of cortisone to see if that will cause the swelling to go down in the disc.

I know, it's a fairly common procedure. Barb had it done on her neck just last week, in fact, and I've heard from other people who've had it done. It' just that IT'S A NEEDLE! IN MY SPINE!
I'm not overly fond of needles (I can watch all kinds of gross things on film but I always turn away when they show someone getting a shot--with A NEEDLE!), and I -am- really fond of my spine (connects my brain to some of my favorite organs, fr'instance). Its just that these two things just shouldn't be allowed in the same sentence, let alone one of them allowed to go into the other. Particularly when one of them is in ME! I'm just sayin'.

Anyways, that's my day for tomorrow. Ain't lookin' forward to it(in case you hadn't gathered), but if it allows me to sit, or stand, or walk, or lie down, or drive without so much pain I suppose it'll be worth it.

*Just to clarify, I am grateful for the wifely loving persuasion.
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Hi! Found this and had to pass it along. It's too good not to.

BTW, Ray Bradbury has seen it and liked it (but then what guy wouldn't like a hot chick singing about his books...or *ahem* him?).


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This just sort of occurred to me....


In the meadow we can build a snowman,
And pretend that he is Parson Brown,
He'll say, "Are you married?"
We'll say, "No, man,
But you can do the job while you're in town!"

Later on, we'll perspire;
Having sex by the fire,
It's legal, we swear;
A preacher made of snow was there--
Fucking in a Winter Wonderland!



Maybe I'll come up with the rest of it by next year.

[Insert seasonal-related greeting that doesn't offend you here]
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Someone please tell me again how the Republicans -AREN'T- the party of the rich.


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I was going to post this yesterday, but great art takes time.

So, umm, if I had actually done any great art, it might have taken longer. Mediocre art doesn't take near as long. And this needed to be sorta timely, so.....

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Just a quick cartoon...RIPPED FROM THE HEADLINES!

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Since Esme has filled out since we brought her home, Puck (the middle dog) has regained his position as the smallest dog in the house, but make no mistake:



Yeah, little and smart. Think Miles Vorkosigan. Think, Krosp from GIRL GENIUS. Think Dr. Miguelito Loveless from THE WILD, WILD, WEST. There is no doubt as to who is in charge when we're not around and, um, sometimes when we are. Sometimes he is too smart for his own good. Twice I've looked out to find him on the outside of the fenced in yard trying to figure out how to get back in (Good thing both times happened on the weekend so I could joyfully spend the day dogproofing the yard).

Puck is the one dog whose lineage we're sure of. His mom was a Corgi that was supposed to get fixed and his dad was a Pomeranian* who got lucky before that operation could take place. Thus, he is a Porgi. We call he and Esme the Frankencorgis.

His hobbies include looking regal, being picky about his food, and reminding Argus and especially Esme who da boss is.


*Pomerania, by the way is a small region on the coast of the Baltic sea that overlaps the countries of Germany and Austria. Their chief export is small furry dogs.
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This is Esme....



She is our youngest dog (around 8 months), and was a rescue from the animal shelter. She was listed as a corgi mix, and judging from the ears and face, corgi seems to be at least half of the mix, but the other half is anyone's guess (I bring your attention to that tongue, which is not an exaggeration: it doesn't fit in her mouth a lot of the time, and so is very un-corgi).

We named her after Esme Weatherwax from Terry Pratchett's Discworld books, because she is remarkably strong willed. While she is very smart, unlike her namesake, she doesn't seem to have a great deal of sense (continuing to pester the other dogs or trying to steal their food when they have made it very clear that they don't like this). But she's still a puppy and may grow out of this.

*Sigh* We keep telling ourselves that....

Her hobbies include (aside from those already mentioned) playing tug of war, running around the house like a lunatic, trying to get into places she shouldn't and helping us to get rid of stuff she doesn't think we need anymore.
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This is the first of a trilogy. Barbara pointed out that I had yet to draw a cartoon of our newest dog, Esme, and since I had been planning on doing a cartoon of Argus, why not do all three? So... Part the First:




This pretty much sums up Argus, our oldest dog (about 10 years old). When I got her from Animal Aid, the paperwork described her as Rottwieller/Shepherd mix (possibly because they have to put down SOMETHING, but she looks like what that might look like so we go with that).

All groups of canines will have an alpha member. Argus is certainly not alpha. She is undeniably the omega member of the pack--never mind there are 22 letters between alpha and omega and there are only three members of the local pack. She would be omega in ANY group of animals--which is why we don't have any goldfish or hermit crabs; it would just be too embarrassing to watch.
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I originally drew this one a couple of months ago (I think when I heard about how the insurance companies were cheating the families of fallen soldiers from the benefits they were due), and got sidetracked. The other day I heard about how these wonderful institutions are making up for the money they'll now lose by not being able to disallow people for having pre-existing conditions (which means just about anybody) by simply no longer offering child-only coverage, and I remembered the cartoon still in the sketchbook...

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Ah, the travails of being a political cartoonist! I drew this last night with the intention of posting it today, and on the way home from work, I heard on NPR that the Right Dishonorable Pastor Jones has agreed to not burn a big pile of Korans (Maybe... things still seem to be a bit fuzzy about the agreement. We shall see.).

Anyway, I decided to go ahead and post it anyway because: a) that Froot Loop has already caused enough damage, b) I wouldn't be surprised if he goes ahead and burns them anyway (or does something equally stupid), c) the point of the cartoon is still valid, and d) I spent an hour or two drawing the bloody thing!




(BTW, I know it's a common name, but it bugs me that he shares the same moniker as one of Monty Python's Flying Circus.)
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Honest, folks! I swear the next cartoon will NOT be about the oil spill.

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Just another cartoon.....

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