Will Abrams sans Nimoy “Live long and prosper”?

I know it will seem crass, but one of the results of Nimoy’s death is the obsolescence of JJ Abrams’ heterodox Star Trek parody. He built so much of his reboot on the failure and coexistence of Nimoy’s Spock, that with Nimoy’s death there is nothing to reliably drive the franchise along his divergent plotline.

I deeply doubt that Nimoy spent his last hours contemplating the effect his death would have on the Star Trek Multiverse, but it remains a shame that his most memorable roles and the core of his life’s work was so precariously balanced as to lose value with his death.

I know it will be said that Abrams work is well constructed and has strong themes and a generation of newbies who will be first exposed to to Trek by viewing his reboot. True enough. But to put it poetically, “Rand ain’t Pug, and Star Wars ain’t Dune.” It’s no matter how good Abrahms Trek is or how many characters it shares, it’s just not Star Trek.

We’re at a cross-roads where we need a “Christopher Nolan” to re-reboot and bring the franchise back to Tim Burton’s original vision. No Tim Burton didn’t create Star Trek, or Batman for that matter. But the power of the first best Batman being recaptured in Nolan’s Dark Knight is a perfect parallel with Abrams starring as Joel Schumacher.

בזה המקום תהי ברכה ושלום

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Shades of Blade Runner: Could Bioprinted Replicants Be Around The Corner?

This article announces a technology that uses cloned tissues to print 3d Replicas of real human tissues. The analogue to “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” is remarkable. It’s nothing new for technological advancement to mirror Science Fiction and Fantasy but, for me at least, the idea of homonculi assembled from living tissues is nearly as pase’ as Frankenstein’s Monster. It seemed that the destination of science and technology was moving inexorably toward the organic growth of replacement tissues and tailored organisms. This miniature liver however presents all sorts of intriguing and horrifying possibilities.

First 3D Printed Liver Is Mini But Mighty: Could Transplantable Human Organs Eventually Be Bioprinted?.

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A Dictionary Word to the Wise

“The contest, for ages, has been to rescue Liberty from the grasp of executive power.”
~Daniel Webster, Speech in the Senate, May 27, 1834

They problem in Websters day was the over bloated presidency and the thoroughly dominated Congress. It took it’s greatest expression in the dictatorships of the early republican presidents and a few significant democrats at the time. The last 25 years have been a resurgence of that dictatorship. Today however it is a union of all three branches in the interest of curtailing individual human rights. I will not use the word liberty, which implies that these freedoms are a grant of largess by an altruistic state. These are rights given by God and only kept available by hawkish curtailment of abuse by all three branches of government.

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Having a rough night: dreams of shirking.

Dreamt I was hiding out while family and friends had a party across the street. Tried to sneak out the side gate in a hooded bathrobe with my scooter, but was spotted by kids at the party. Mom popped in to tell me I had to make a small appearance at the party to satisfy propriety. Said they’d never let it go, having caught a glimpse. I woke up seriously contemplating sneaking my scooter through the house and going out the front door and avoiding the saccharine festivities.

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Dodging the Coffee Clutch

Yesterday, I was at The Coffee Place, or the coffee place, depending on my mood. I laid my burdens on the big black, enameled table and ordered a cafe’ au lait, with my usual swagger. The coffee came, I took my seat, and unpacked my little mobile office. I ride a gas powered scooter (Chinese made 150cc gy-7 with 16″ rims), so I’ve learned to travel with a courier’s bag and a computer case smaller than most purses. But, out of these, I can soon fill a large desk with pages of manuscript and electronics.

Sadly, I had covered the large table and, realizing I was being bad neighborly, I asked the woman at the next table if I might have the empty chair next to her, to pile on some of my stuff and clear room for others to share. She had her purse perched in the chair, in just the same way, but, after an awkward negotiation where I declined the chair and she pushed, I finally stacked my courier bag and helmet in the chair, and cleared the table, except for my netbook and my computer case (the little one).

Thus situated, I decided to check my Skype, before getting down to work. A friend had shared this story, about a four-year-old, Mini, and her precocious imagination, and the embarrassment it caused her mother. The story was funny, and touching, and a quirky commentary on the paranoid, judgmental culture, that is America today (or when Mini was four). When we got to the part where Mini was explaining proper water-ride etiquette to her exhausted mother, I burst out in laughter.

It was spontaneous, but the septuagenarian at the table next to me jumped nearly out of her seat. Apparently, she’d been watching me and paying an inordinate amount of attention to what I was doing. Rather a funny coincidence, given the story I was reading.

Since I’d disturbed her, asking for the chair and again with my laugh, I decided to give a short, very short, explanation of the conversation tween Mini and her mom. I was quite terse, but hit the high points regarding infectious water and water ride etiquette, (you really should read it). That done, I said, “Well, I best get back to my writing.”

Okay, technically, I was reading. But I was nearly finished with the entry, and about to move on to writing. I had a short story to finish–about a mysterious traveler forced by local bandits and an ignorant police inspector to investigate a murder he is illegally charged with. With the aid of an array of anachronistic inventions–you get the picture. But now I was stuck in one of those conversations.

Ah, yes. Those conversations. They are a pitfall of the coffee house. The large number of aging boomers and homeless who congregate as the coffee house have a tendency toward garrulousness that approaches the level of social disorder. They are a real impediment at times. It’s very hard to write bout faeries and steam powered interstellar craft, when the guy next to you won’t stop regaling you with the details of his motion for conservatorship over his father, or her forbidden love with a Mexican celebrity who she must watch from afar using Google Satellite images of his villa in Yucatan.

In this case, it was the movie she’d seen with her son. How disgusting! It was one of those juvenile romps where an adult who should know better, goes out and acts like a teen-ager on break in Cancun in the eighties. Of course there was the obligatory, unwanted insinuation we should go see a movie together. I listened politely, making concerned noises and even sharing a quick anecdote from my own life, to show my basal concern for her as a person, before excusing myself and getting back to writing. Remember that? It’s the reason I’m even at The Coffee Place.

That’s when things took a decidedly distasteful turn. In the course of the movie discussions, Siskel and Ebert came up. Of course, she felt the need to stress the tragedy of Roger Ebert’s disfiguring cancer. I pointed out that Gene Siskel had been a bit of a healthnick, and still died far earlier than Ebert. Rather than allowing me to return to my computer, she continued talking as if I had simply made a bad joke. Now, she began to try and get personal information about me. I tried to be polite, but I did, again, remind her I was there to work. She quizzed me about my computer, tried to drag me into a critique of the ethics of dumping beta tech on an unsuspecting buyer at Fry’s, and used colonoscopy recommendations as a means to try and get me to tell her my age.

Mind you, it never occurred to her to simply ask for the information she wanted, or to have an frank conversation. She was too busy playing at pushing to get anywhere with me, and her lack of subtlety only made it worse. Bearing in mind I’m a heterosexual, I’ve been hit on by both men and women. Not that I’m a George Clooney or Brad Pitt, but it happens. This is the first time, however, I’ve ever encountered:”Have you had a colonoscopy yet, they say every man should have one at fifty,” as a pick-up line. My advice don’t use it.

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Reynold's Rap: Notable Quotables for Penfeathers

I approached Timothy GM Reynolds aka Alex T Crisp, a rather prolific writer whom I think we can forgive for being Canadian, and asked him to comment on my new book of children’s Rhymes. Nope, not the German musician, or the expressionist painter. Tim was gracious enough to look over Penfeathers, despite his busy schedule and the egregious (my word not his) demands on his time and personal resources. The following is his response, which I deeply appreciate.

______
Hi Fred.

Firstly, thank you for letting me read your collection. It certainly took me back to my childhood. So, here is something I hope you can use for the back cover, although what you have there already is quite good:

“In Penfeathers, Richard Fredric Grenville has captured some of the liveliest Mother Goose rhymes with an uncomplicated, unadorned folk-art-style of illustration which nicely accompanies this selection of classics without overshadowing them.”
~Timothy Reynolds, author of ‘Dragons in Suburbia’ and other short, dark tales.

~~~~

Cheers,

Tim.

After the tildes, he also forwarded some extremely helpful critique which I appreciate, greatly. He is a real gentleman and a great writer. I suggest that after you have purchased Penfeathers, you then pick up a copy of Shanghai Steam, or Dragons.

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Geronimo! Incubation burned my Ooo Thesaurus. Mass extinction in the GNUisphere.

I use OpenOffice exclusively. It’s not because I don’t have access to MS Office. I simply like it better. Much better. An odf file is a fraction the size of an rtf or even DOCx with ALL the same formatting and advanced layout.

In fact I only use MS Office to convert files to rtf, something which OpenOffice has chosen not to do well (for political reasons it seems). I was a bit concerned when Ooo became a property of Oracle, not because they don’t have good products, but because they tend to enjoy unnecessarily obscure interfaces and documentation.

Then I look one day and Ooo has become an Apache property. If anything that seemed a lateral promotion, and I had been counting on Oracle to finally make Base a viable DB design and coding platform a’ la Access™.

But tentatively I installed it and crossed my fingers. Voila! Suddenly Ooo opened as quickly as regular software. Where was the extensive, struggle with clunky ECMA interpreters and GDI. Surely, without a quickstarter and half a dozen COM/CORBA services you couldn’t have a REAL office software suite! But it seemed I did. (I disabled the quickstarter).

Then that fateful day came when I needed a thesaurus. Trying to provide the Teirans with a religious system that made sense I needed to borrow a term that I could substitute for the common one. So I hilighted a word, clicked ToolsLanguageThe– But it was disabled. I had no Thesaurus!

After poking through optionslanguages twice, attempting to press and rebooting I still had no thesaurus. I work where I have no wifi available so what was I to do?

Frustrated I searched for add-ons and no joy. I searched Yahoo, and found a reference to a similar problem but it was on Mac (OP) and none of it was helpful.

Then I found where a PC user had hijacked the thread, bless him. In remonstrating him for his terrible etiquette, the moderator actually let escape a bit of helpful information in the form of another thread.

This thread took me through the ninety percentile solutions that we all know to perform without prompting. But near the end of the list was an entry that was troubling. “Have you stopped and restarted Ooo and the quickstarter? If so and the thesaurus remains disabled, you have a serious problem with a corrupt dictionary and should start a new thread.”

A new thread? It was that bad that the pedant couldn’t even suggest something to try? Rather than sign up for yet another unwanted membership in an online Phishing trap, I decided to poke around the folders where Ooo 3 was installed. Finally, I discovered the location of the oxt scripts that install Ooo dictionaries (C:Program FilesOpenOffice.org 3shareextensionsinstall). On a whim I reran the en_US and dict-en oxt’s. Voila I now have Thesaurus for Typosaurus and can play to my Saurian delight. With the thesaurus working, I have to say that 3.4 is the best version of Ooo to date and I am very happy with it. I hope it will set the tone for Apache’s custody of Ooo.

Geronimo!

PS Closing Quickstarter, killed the thesaurus again. With Quickstarter Ooo opens on its own every time you reboot.

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Publishing Vanity, How different is self-publishing from vanity-publishing

Recently I tried a foray into self publishing. I have had some items of non-fiction published in the past, but my current work is a somewhat dark fantasy and it’s a struggle to get read. On the other hand, I have seen some success stories in self publishing. So I thought I’d try testing the waters.

In the past I’ve viewed self publishing as vanity publishing, POD as an expensive version, and dedicated mainstream publishers as a necessity. But In my search for the right agent and/or publisher to love my work and put the effort into helping me refine and market my manuscripts as published works, I stumbled onto a couple of individuals who were committed to self publishing. Prolific writers (I’m the slow plodding sort) who work hard to make a presence that is bigger than their work and who have gradually moved from self publishing to minor indie publishers.

This inspired me to at least dip my toe in the waters and see what the process might bring. ePublishing got me some small response, so I thought I’d try printing with POD. Just as I made this decision a major POD changed their prices and fee schedule. I was amazed at how easily one could simply publish and be available for bricks and mortar as well as libraries and ed. institutions. So once more I got to editing and soon I was evaluating proofs and preparing to launch.

One thing I tried was contacting a major indie book store. Ironically, this store has as one of it’s facilities a POD of no small skill and no small fee. If purchasing their services, then you are given space in the storefront, however I had already published. I had my LCC and my very own ISBN-13 and a beautiful trades paperback to call my own.

It took a couple of weeks to hear back, and this is the core of what I was told”

We do not carry self-published books, those printed by vanity presses or print on demand titles. Previous sales tests have shown that, while our customers are interested in all subjects, they are much more likely to browse and purchase titles like this at their local bookstore or on-line rather than carrying them with them on their travels.

Now I didn’t understand the point about carrying them on their travels. Yes people buy books to read on flights and trains and ships. But a bookstore is about books. Also I immediately saw the way they lumped vanity, self-published, and POD into a single entity. That rankled. It hit my pride. I wasn’t a vanity published author. I was a real writer with a good book and it was real. How dare they make that comparison.

And then– it hit me.

Life, what a concept.

 

If you like a good story with some thought provoking undercurrents or you just like real old fashioned fairy tales, get Neverwas.

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Neverwas In Print, New this month!

New Print Release coming in January. We’ve taken the plunge and Neverwas is going to print this month. It will be available on Amazon, but we’re hoping to get exposure in brick and mortar. If you want a print copy and don’t want to pay shipping you should be able to order it through your local bookseller. That’s assuming it’s not on shelves. . . . Well that is a fair assumption. But help us bring it to those who don’t eBook, tell a friend or buy it for a friend!

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