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Everything posted by Dr.Bedlam

  1. Awright, folks, tonight's lesson is about Stranger Things, the hit Netflix binge watching sensation. Although I don't know I could teach you anything about it. I'm kind of hoping YOU can teach ME something about it. Because I got the discs at a very low price, and we've been binging them the last few nights. Finished tonight. And I noticed a thing that doesn't quite make sense. At this point I will indulge in some spoilers for a three year old TV series, Season One, so if you don't want to know, don't read any lower than the next picture. Even then, I will keep it to a minimum. Ready? All right, you've been warned.... Now, in this series, a lot of the action revolves around Secret Govvamint Experiments what has opened a portal to a parallel dimension, which our characters have called "The Upside Down." It corresponds to our dimension, our universe, pretty closely -- if your house is a mile from the portal, it is possible to walk through the portal and then walk a mile to your Upside Down house, which will be in poor repair and covered with slime and meaty Zerg Creep, like everything else in the Upside Down; the picture above is of some trees in the woods there. Oh, and there's little white snowglobe flakes floating around everywhere; that's our main visual cue that we're not in Kansas any more. That's Spoiler 1. Spoiler 2: In the first episode, a child gets lost in the Upside Down and his mom spends much of the remaining series freaking out about this. However, he is not dead, and when the child is in his Upside Down house, the lights in his REGULAR house flicker and buzz. Mom soon figures out that her son can talk to her this way, and she rigs a big Ouija board on the living room wall and strings Christmas lights on all the letters so her boy can answer questions. Spoiler 3: at one point, some of our heroes visit the Upside Down version of this same house. That's it. That's all the spoilers. And at one point, after seeing the show the first time, I pondered: the Upside Down is basically a mirror universe version of Earth, but all dark and cold and with snow globe crap flying around and meat moss growing on everything. At one point we see some skulls, but no live people. Apparently, all the people who lived in this universe are dead, and have been dead for a while now. So it goes. So... I'm assuming that you and me and all the characters on this show had mirror universe twins... who all got eaten by whatever lives in the Upside Down, long enough ago that skulls are all that's left. But we're all okay, here on Earth Prime. That IS how parallel universes work, right? So everyone in the Upside Down is dead or missing. And after the boy disappears in OUR dimension, his mom paints a series of letters on the wall in OUR universe. But when our heroes visit this same house in THAT dimension... there are letters painted on the wall THERE, too. But everyone over THERE is DEAD, and has been for some time. Who painted the letters on the wall in THAT universe? Or when Mom painted the wall in OUR universe, did the letters just magically appear in THAT universe? If I burn down a building in THIS universe, will it burn in THAT universe? I'm so confused. Someone help me out, here.
  2. I have heard stories about Robert Conrad interacting with James Garner on the sets of various films they made together. Apparently, the first time, the first film,whenever the two men were on camera together, Conrad stood on a Scully Box. After that, Conrad insisted that they dig a hole for Garner to stand in. Conrad's height was anywhere from 5'4" to 5'11" depending on who you ask. Garner was apparently somewhere around 6'4". After I heard this, I noticed that on "Wild Wild West," Ross Martin tended to hunch over whenever he was in a two-shot with Conrad. And I will never again be able to look at that giant spider without thinking of Kevin Smith and his story about Jon Peters.
  3. Among the things shown on television that I have had to explain are rotary phones, cassette tapes, VCRs, and typewriters.
  4. Pffft. Assuming your house doesn't burn down, plastic will last forever.
  5. Every couple of months I do a dump and backup of the philes on our phones. Mainly pictures. She Who Dances With Mouselings takes easily five times as many pictures as I do, most of which are of plants and cats. If the external hard drive survives the apocalypse, the archaeologists will think long and hard about the photos on it, and finally probably decide we worshipped cats, flowers, little tiny statues, and tomato plants. And possibly squirrels. Anything an archaeologist doesn't understand is immediately given religious significance.
  6. The event was as follows: Doc, in his home, would hear a "POK!" noise from the back yard. The power would go out. Doc would go out in the back yard, and note that the big transformer on the pole on the intersection of the three property lines was smoking. Doc would glance to his right, and look down the driveway. Already, people across the street are emerging from their homes with whatthehell looks on their faces. Sure nuff, power's out to the entire two-block section of the subdivision. The power company was informed; there'd be someone out here in fifteen minutes. Meanwhile, Doc would hunt around his back yard. Within five minutes, he would locate the fried squirrel. A couple hours later, the transformer would be repaired, and the power restored. This sequence of events literally happened about every second or third year I lived at that address. Almost always in midsummer.
  7. Plainly, your keyboard has more options than mine does. And Babylon 5 had a number of crowning moments, but this one had me quite literally rolling on the floor, laughing until I hurt. It is a turn of phrase I have found use for in real life more than once.
  8. I thought it was bread. Perhaps I am wrong. Galloping senility...
  9. Matter of personal taste. I liked her Crystal Singer series, too... I thought "Killishandra" was an awesome name for a heroine. Years later, someone asked McCaffrey about that, and she remarked that she stole the name from a local brand of bread in Ireland... named for the town where its bakery was. So... in Ireland... apparently you can buy Killishandra Bread. I had that edition of Dragonriders of Pern from high school. I loaned it to my first college sweetie, and then we broke up on bad terms and I never saw it again. Fortunately, identical copies can still be found in used bookstores for those with eyes to see; apparently, it was one of the SFBC's all time great sellers for years on end. About four women later, I finally learned to quit loaning books to women I was dating. One of them was good enough to return my books, the other two refused to see me, and one of them finally returned my Doonesbury treasuries and my Star Trek Concordance when I became sufficiently annoying about it. The next two women, I lied like a rug and told them I owned no books; all the books in the dorm room were the property of my roommate, who never loaned books out. Nope, nope, can't loan you that book, it's not mine. No, he doesn't loan out his records either.... Y'know, it occurs to me that women have cost me more books over the years than natural disasters, fire, flood, mold, mildew, and the Heartbreak of Psoriasis...
  10. I first discovered McCaffrey through her short story, Weyr Search, which later became the first chapter of the first Pern book. A friend recommended the series, so I went looking, and eventually latched onto the SFBC omnibus edition, The Dragonriders Of Pern. All three of the first series. And while the books were a lovely read, the cover art was actually pretty awful, featuring underdressed Dragonriders mounted on reptilian chicken monsters (with a strong hint of iguana in their ancestry) that were at best distant relations of dragons. Makes me think about Larry Elmore's remark, "You can't just stick bat wings on an alligator and call it a dragon." Looking back at pre-Whelan Dragonriders covers, I can sorta feel McCaffrey's pain. Also regretfully reminds me of the sheer number of books I lost by loaning them to women I was dating in college. Bleh.
  11. He wouldn't be the only one. There was one artist in particular who made ALL faces look like the old cowboy actor, Randolph Scott. Including the women. Durned if I can remember his name, though. Darrell K. Sweet illustrated a great many of my favorite books, but I tend to prefer Whelan, largely due to his attention to detail. That, and when details on the cover don't match what's in the book, it irritates.
  12. Yup. Customer communication's all KINDS of fun to deal with. That's why I left corporate to go into education, which of course did not solve the problem at all. A transcript, durn near verbatim, of a conversation I had a few years back: "There is a problem with X." "I see. I will address this problem, and do what I can about it." "But there is a problem with X." "Yes, I have been made aware of it, and am doing what I can to correct it." "But there is a problem with X." "Is there something specific that you would like me to do, right this moment, to address the problem?" "There. Is. A. Problem. With. X." " Yes, as you have now stated, in exactly the same terms, four times now. Is there something specific you would like me to do that I have not yet done about it? Am I not moving fast enough to suit you? Is there some new aspect of the problem you feel that I am unaware of? Do you have any NEW information about this problem to impart? What, precisely, do you want?" "You don't UNDERSTAND! There is a PROBLEM with X!" "And that makes five times now that you have told me that, and yet have not outlined what you want me to do about it beyond the obvious steps I have already taken. I regret that I lack telepathy, and cannot read your mind to see exactly what you want done, as you either will not or cannot TELL me, beyond simply repeating the same complaint. I regret that if you have no new information, I must ignore further repeats of the same statement, as this serves no purpose and wastes both our time." "You're not taking the problem seriously." "I dispute your statement. I have acknowledged the problem, recorded and documented it, and taken what steps I can at the moment. Later, as things change, I may do more, but can do no more at this time. Would it make you feel better if I discarded calm and freaked out about it?" "You're not taking the problem seriously." "Ah, we are back to repetition, which I had hoped I had made clear is not an effective communication style for problem solving, either for X or for whatever problem it is you are having with ME. I must therefore respectfully request that you cease repeating yourself over and over and instead offer specific insights into the problem and suggest possible solutions, or simply explain in concrete terms what it is that you want me to do about it." "Now you're insulting me." In retrospect, I sometimes wonder what would have changed in this conversation if I'd simply said "I'm on it," in response to every repetition of "There is a problem with X," as opposed to trying to get the person to elaborate...
  13. That is not a slide I would care to ride. That is particularly not a slide I would care to have my picture taken while emerging from. Until the advent of the internet, I had no idea there were so many slides out there that had happy children emerging from something's butt.
  14. The cover of The Fuzzy Papers depicts Pappy Jack Holloway and his Fuzzy friends confronted by an accurate representative of a Damnthing, even down to the horn placement. The art was later reused for the mass market paperback edition of Fuzzy Bones. (Weirdly enough, horn placement winds up being a plot point when Little Fuzzy is attempting to warn Pappy Jack, but cannot speak to him; Little Fuzzy mimes the jaw tusks and the horn with his fingers, and then mimes firing a rifle, a thing that convinces Jack that Little Fuzzy understands the concept of "symbolic representation," the root of language... which is why the reader gets a detailed description of a Damnthing, which Whelan plainly read.) This painting by Whelan, titled "Peekaboo Fuzzies," shows a couple of them peering out of what appears to be an alien bush... which, if you have read the books, depicts what Pappy Jack called "Pool-ball fruit." Whelan did his homework. Recently, I studied some of Frank Kelly Freas' work, and he reports that getting a copy of even PART of the manuscript in order to get some idea of what to put on the cover could be a real trick, depending on the publisher.
  15. Amazon reports it's a Whelan, who originated the "big cat eyes" style of Fuzzy. Old Ace edition, it looked more like your Aunt Fanny's yarn basket. When the books were reissued by Ace in the seventies, they got Whelan to do the covers, including the omnibus edition that Darsc has (which was apparently put out by the Science Fiction Book Club in the eighties) and he came back for the first printing of Fuzzies And Other People. Trivia point: Piper's original title for Fuzzy Sapiens was The Other Human Race. Ace changed it to make it fit better with its predecessor. Another trivia point: for some reason, cover artists tend to draw fuzzies smaller than they are in the books; Piper describes Fuzzies as being as much as two feet tall, when fully grown, and usually around a foot and a half. For some reason, cover artists tend to make them around a foot tall. ...except on the cover of The Fuzzy Papers, where the fuzzies are more or less in line with their description in the books (we may assume the small fuzzy in Pappy Jack's arms is Baby Fuzzy, a character in the story who is fairly small, being a toddler in human terms.) Also pictured is a pretty good visualization of a Damnthing, a local predator described as "an ungulate herbivore that developed a taste for meat when it can get it." Funny thing? In the third and fourth novels written by authors other than Piper, the fuzzies call it a "so-shi-fazzu," or literally "run like crazy" in Lingua Fuzzy, whereas in the long lost third book, Piper refers to it as a "hesh-nazza," for which he offers no Fuzzy translation. Little Fuzzy's main question is "where do you draw the line between sapience and nonsapience?" Sunstone miner Jack Holloway encounters a cute tool using little alien, and names him "Little Fuzzy." Little Fuzzy, upon accepting Jack's benign benevolence, goes and collects his family, and they begin to get to know humans. Jack is convinced Fuzzies are sapient, but the planet is owned outright by the Chartered Zarathustra Company, which stands to lose its charter, its ownership, and a lot of money if a sapient race is discovered to have been living there; the Company's invested a LOT in this planet. Fortunately, the Terran Navy and the incorruptible Jack Holloway are ready to stand up for the Fuzzies... but the poor creatures live at a low paleolithic level of society, they don't make or use fire, and they don't seem to have a language, beyond the single word "yeek." Sapient or not? Piper spends the first half of the book establishing his characters and situation, and the second half of the book is largely courtroom drama that's on a par with Perry Mason, as we attempt to determine, one way or the other, the Fuzzies' legal status as people or animals. Spoiler alert: they're sapient. Fuzzy Sapiens follows this up and deals with the conflict and attempt to reconcile between human society... and a low paleolithic tribal society that never quite got the handle on "lying." That, and the fact that the fuzzies are facing extinction due to a biochemical quirk, unless the humans can figure it out and fix it. Oh, yeah, and the machinations of evil humans who seek to use the fuzzies for their own low ends. And for a decade or so, that's all the fuzzies you got. Ace did quite well with paperback reprints, and the SFBC apparently made reasonable bank on the omnibus edition, and so Ace solicited ANOTHER couple of fuzzy books: Fuzzy Bones, by William Tuning, in which we discover that the fuzzies are in fact descendants of a race of spacefarers, which explains their biochemical quirk; the planet lacks a mineral their bodies require. Fuzzy Bones is a pretty good read, but has been rendered un-canon due to the later discovery of Fuzzies And Other People. Ardath Mayhar's Golden Dream: A Fuzzy Odyssey is a series of short stories chronicling the history of fuzzies on the planet Zarathustra after their spaceship crashed, including a previously unchronicled first contact between fuzzies and humans (up until now, we thought that this had been with Jack Holloway in Little Fuzzy) and a variety of vignettes, concluding with a retelling of Little Fuzzy ... but from the title character's point of view. ...and this was followed by the discovery and publication of Fuzzies And Other People, Piper's final novel, in which it becomes painfully clear that Piper never intended the fuzzies to be anything other than Zarathustran aborigines. (Nonhuman sapient aliens exist in Piper's universe, but none had gotten out of the Stone Age before first contact with humans; the legendary stupidity of "khoogras" is a plot point, because it took humans forever to figure out if they were sapient. Humans finally gave them the benefit of the doubt, because they'd mastered fire use and had a language. Eighty whole words long). I conclude what I personally have read with Fuzzy Nation, by John Scalzi (2011) which is best described as a "reboot." It essentially reworks Little Fuzzy's events and characters into a similar but surprisingly different story which is perhaps more palatable to a more modern audience (although I'd read the originals first). It's not bad; I didn't want to like it, but Scalzi manages a deft turn of phrase and handles the subject material well. Surprisingly, all six books aren't bad reading. Due to Piper's death in the early sixties and someone's failure to file copyright extension, the first book is in the public domain (hence free on Amazon and Project Gutenberg) and there's a surprising amount of semiprofessional fanfic for sale out there that carries on the story of the fuzzies and their human friends... but not having read them, I can't comment. Apparently, Michael Whelan enjoyed doing Fuzzy artwork.
  16. Grand and glorious occasion, and felicitations to y'!
  17. Fuzzy Papers! THAT'S the omnibus edition I mentioned back in the original post! Hadn't seen that one in years.
  18. Interestingly enough, during his lifetime, H. Beam Piper published Little Fuzzy, and its sequel, Fuzzy Sapiens. After his death, the publisher reissued both, and solicited new Fuzzy titles, resulting in Fuzzy Bones, by William Tuning, and Golden Dream: A Fuzzy Odyssey, by Ardath Mayhar. If you enjoyed the Fuzzy books, they're good reads. And then, Piper's last novel was found and published as Fuzzies (and Other People.) Weird thing? All three of Piper's novels are still in print. The two others are not only out of print, but sort of hard to find in used bookstores... I had a bear of a time tracking down a paperback Fuzzy Bones. But Little Fuzzy can be had for free on Amazon, if you's got a Kindle.
  19. I always felt bad for H. Beam Piper (1904 - 1964). I discovered his work when I was in college; a friend of mine had the omnibus edition of Little Fuzzy and Fuzzy Sapiens, two science fiction novels that explored precisely where the line between "sapience" and "nonsapience" might be put upon discovery of an alien species. I was weirdly amused to discover that the second half of the first book is a courtroom drama, as opposed to a science fiction shootemup. Furthermore, it's GOOD courtroom drama, and aside from the fact that everybody smokes cigarettes, it still holds up today! Even to the point of getting a "reimagining" by John Scalzi. I wasn't crazy about the IDEA of John Scalzi "rebooting" a perfectly good novel, but he didn't do a bad job, and he did a wonderful job with the big twist partway through the story. And in Scalzi's story, no one smokes. H. Beam Piper was one of those guys who was scared to quit his day job to pursue his writing, but when he did, he did pretty well. He pumped out a LOT of short stories and seems to have paid the bills doing just that; his Paratime series of books is really nothing but short stories set in the same universe threaded together. Around 1960, he began publishing novels, all of which are still in print, and seem to have been quite influential. They include Space Viking, which on the surface is a science fiction shootemup, but is actually an examination of trends in human behavior, politics, and war. He continued this trend with Uller Uprising, which basically retells the story of the Sepoy Mutiny and makes a point of how human behavior can cause history to repeat itself. Little Fuzzy and its sequel, which I described above, apparently changed a LOT about the depiction of sapient aliens in science fiction. And his short story, "A Planet For Texans," manages to be hilarious AND thought provoking, because on New Texas, when one shoots a politician, the trial to determine guilt is immediately followed by another inquiry to determine if the politician in question needed to be shot... and his Paratime series, about a law enforcement agency that travels between parallel universes keeping order, influenced every parallel universe story from there up to Rick and Morty. He's also remembered for his "Terro-Human Future History," into which most of the stories mentioned above (and most of his other work) falls. It forms the setting for said stories, and provides an interesting canvas for his views on history and human behavior. Regrettably, by 1964, Piper's personal situation was looking fairly grim. He had financial woes, some health problems, and what I understand to be a vicious divorce of the very worst sort. And so Piper cancelled his life insurance policy (to spite his ex wife), named a relative as his legal executor, and shot himself in his home, having laid out dropcloths to prevent as much of a mess as possible. His suicide note simply read, "I don't like to leave messes when I go away, but if I could clean up any of this mess, I wouldn't be going away. H. Beam Piper." According to his diary, he was mainly depressed because of his dismal financial state. What he didn't know was that his agent had successfully sold his recent novels, and that a check was literally in the mail. If he'd held off the trigger until Monday, the rest of his career might have been decidedly different; the amount of money in just the FIRST check would have polished off most of his debt and put him on his feet again. There's a moral in there somewhere, but I leave it to the interested student to figure it out. For decades, rumors of a third Fuzzy novel kicked around; people who knew him said he'd been working on it shortly before his death, but was presumed to have tossed it out before his suicide. It finally turned up in a trunk... in 1984. By that time, at least two OTHER Fuzzy novels had been published by other authors. He died thinking he was a failure. Everything he wrote is still in print, and can be had on Amazon.
  20. The Black Owlbear went on sale retail ages ago. I picked one up at a Hobbytown in Denver more than a month ago.
  21. Color me impressed. I'm working on that one now, and I KNOW what a bear it is.
  22. Interchangeable hands with weapon types, sure. Maybe heads, too. Paper bag mask slasher!
  23. So much this. FGG as an entity hadn't done anything to bother me, but I'm not as plugged into the convention scene as some folks, and I flat was unaware of the behind the scenes drama.
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