So, I’m Not Cool Enough to be a Fan?

Been reading about who can be a fan of Science Fiction, at least according to some one called File770.  Now let me be clear, my first clear memory of reading Science Fiction is back in 1959 when at age ten I discovered RAH and Science Fiction in the guise of  “Rocket Ship Galileo”, and I have not stopped reading science fiction since that time. (for you that may be, like me, somewhat deficient in math skills, that means that I am now sixty five years of age and have been reading genre fiction for fifty five years.)  Now, I have absolutely no idea of how old File770 is, but my suspicion is I’ve been reading for a bit longer than he has existed, not that it means anything, wisdom does not necessarily come with age. But I digress, we were discussing what makes a fan.

I propose that anyone who reads genre fiction consistently and with relish (specifically SF or Fantasy in this case) probably has enough interest in the subject matter to be called a fan.  I spend my money to support those authors I, personally, deem to be of worth.  One of the fastest ways for me not to read any author is for them to attempt to sell me the bill of goods that the message of a speculative fiction work is more important than the narrative, that the sexual or political proclivities of characters mean more than their ability to engage me, well, sorry SJWs, not on my reading list.  I can probably count the number of angst riddled message novels I have read in my lifetime that were not forced upon me by teachers and professors on one hand and not use all the fingers on one hand.  They do not interest me because I read for two things, information and entertainment.

I’m interested in military history and military aviation, so a great deal of my non-fiction reads are in those subject matter areas.  To read for entertainment, I’m all over the place,  Science Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure, Mystery, I even read romance novels, big fan of Jane  Ann Krentz and her other guises as Amanda Quick and Jane Castle.  Like Norah Roberts too, and many others.  I’m an eclectic reader, but does that make me less of an SF fan than someone who reads SF exclusively.  Apparently File770 and his crew think so.  I never have read one genre exclusively, but I have read far more SF and Fantasy than anything else over the years.  (I’ve read virtually every novel and short story Louis L’Amour ever wrote and enjoyed every moment of it)  I’ve also read every original Robert Howard Conan story I could get my hands on, as well as the Kull stories and  Solomon Kane. (most of those originally prior to my twelfth birthday the first time I read them)  Somewhere in there I discovered ERB’s Mars novels, and the Venus Novels, read all of them.  Throw in some H. Rider Haggard too, just to round out the Victorian Era in fiction.

I don’t read much short fiction, but I’ve read Laumer and Dickson in that form, along with others.  I was a chubby geek in Middle and High School, college too, and spent way more time reading and watching Science Fiction movies than any other recreation form.  But I was a loner, did not and do not belong to clubs, organized religion or veterans groups, never have, never will.  Oh, I’m a registered Baen Barfly, but of course SJW’s cringe at the thought of anyone who would admit to that.  I only discovered cons a couple of years ago when I went to Liberty Con for the first time, so I’ve only attended two conventions, so obviously again, according to File770, not active enough to be a fan by his definition.  I believe him to be mistaken.

I have read SF for fifty five years now.  I have seen I don’t know how many Science Fiction films, and I have absolutely no idea of how many dollars I have spent on paper back, hard cover and e-books in that time frame, but enough to show I’m sure that I am a fan, at least of those authors I enjoy, the ones who write for story, not message, the ones I can dive in to and for a few hours be somewhere else than inside my own life.  I want drama and angst, I’ve got family to provide that, or hell, I can turn on the news if I want to raise my blood pressure some more.  I’m not now, nor ever will be a fan according to File770,  but everyone else I know thinks I’m one, so I’m not going to concern myself with his sanctimonious view of what a fan is and consider to feel like I am one, because I am the only one who can make that decision about that, not some narrow minded little twit who thinks his is the only way to be a fan.  In the end, I don’t recall the last time I read a book that was a Hugo winner, but I read a lot of Baen,  pariah to the SJWs, but with authors who can make a living writing, which seems to upset SJWs because they all seem to be starving because of the drivel they try to pass off as main stream SF.

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I am currently, and for the umpteenth time, reading H. Beam Pipers “Space Viking”, published as a novel in 1963.  One of the pivot points of the plot is the election on Marduk of Zazpar  Makann, and the resulting problems which drive the rest of the novel.  What is interesting is the words Piper puts in the mouth of one of his characters in the book, Otto Harkaman.   He is speaking to Lucas Trask, our hero, about the barbarian base of society:

“Every society rests on a barbarian base.  The people who don’t understand civilization, and wouldn’t like it if they did.  The hitchhikers. The people who create nothing, and who don’t appreciate what others have created for them, and who think civilization is something that just exists and that all they need to do is enjoy what they can understand of it- luxuries, a high living standard, and easy work for high pay.  Responsibilities? Phooey!  What do they have a government for?”

They are here, we see them every day.  They see government only as a handout, welfare as an income source, education as a waste of time, patriotism as a farce, work as just another way for the man to hold them down.  They are interested only in bread and circuses, they want free everything.  The only thing they seem to produce is more like themselves, because they don’t understand the concept of birth control (or ignore it), and the cycle continues, because they mistrust anyone who wants to rise out of the mass.  I know this because I deal with people like this daily; and race is not the problem, because I see people of all shades and ethnicity who simply always want someone else to do it for them.  They want what civilization provides, but feel it should be given to them, but they can’t articulate any other argument than “because I don’t have it and they do, so I should get my share.”  There is no concept of labor, of striving, of anything but selfishness.  And when the rest of us get tired of providing it, they will rise up and destroy us and then wonder why they starve!


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Old School Safety Razor

O.K., I admit it, I am one of those men who have a really heavy beard!  Back in the day, it was black,  now it is virtually all gray, but it’s still thick and it still wants to be cut at least once a day. I probably should shave twice a day actually, but that is way too much bother.

I started to shave when I was fourteen, had to go to daily shaving at 15.  In the dubious advantage category, the State of Idaho’s legal age for beer was 18 at the time, and with the 5 o’clock shadow already well developed, as long as I stayed away from Moscow, which had a college and always id checked, I and my buddies could go to a small town tavern and drink once we had someone with a license to drive.  Luckily, we were a pretty well behaved bunch and never, somehow, got into fights or so plastered that we could not safely drive home.

Lately I’ve been seeing the ads on TV for the old school safety razors, and have been thinking about them.  As I said above, I have a really heavy beard, so heavy I can’t use an electric razor, they dull too quickly and do not give me a reasonable shave, and irritate my skin to boot.  I’ve used a multi-blade razor for years now, but wow, they are expensive and I’m not convinced I get any better a shave with them than a safety razor.   I did not even know they still made safety razors and blades till I saw the guy from Pawn Stars flogging them on Fox News a few days ago.

I decided to give one a try, though I ended up purchasing my new razor through Amazon, for about three dollars more I got twice as many blades and since I’m a Prime member, two day shipping too.  It should arrive Friday, so next week I’ll come back and tell you how it goes.  Probably have not shaved with that kind of razor in 40 years, so it will be an interesting experience. Oh, and yes, I do have a styptic pencil!

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The Button Jar

I awoke in the middle of the night last night (no idea why) and found myself thinking of my Mom’s Button Jar.  It was an old Nalley’s Tang jar, a Pacific Northwest version of Miracle Whip spread. The jar was old when I was a kid, the lid art looked about the mid-40’s, and of course the label was long gone. There was a slot cut in the lid, sort of like a piggy bank would have, but what Mom put through it was buttons, not money; though in a way it was more thrifty than going down to Fonk’s, the local Five and Dime, and purchasing a card of buttons when a recycled (though we of course did not view it in that light back then) one would do.

The jar was a veritable cornucopia of buttons; I remember buttons of all colors and shapes, red ovals, square blue, jewel like and shiny, pearl finished, many  that were just plain white or grey. I wondered at where they had all come from, because I did not remember ever seeing some of them ever attached to shirts, blouses, dresses or slacks. Seems to me like Mom was constantly pulling the jar out, opening it and matching buttons to replace the ones that had gone missing on one of her three men’s shirts.  I realized as I was lying awake, that I did not even know where she stored that jar.  I imagine it was with the old, burnt out 60 watt light bulb she used to darn holes in our socks, (Yup, on $400 a month in a good month, and making a mortgage payment too boot, and groceries for four people, she darned the socks whenever she could) but I never knew where she kept that either, but both would appear when needed.  I don’t recall ever hearing her complain about doing either task, she simply accepted it as a “Mom job” and got right on it.  Do people even bother to darn holes in their socks anymore?  I know I don’t, just get some new ones as the old wear out.  Still have some spare buttons floating around, but not in the profusion of shapes and colors Mom’s button jar did.

Can’t figure out why I thought of that jar last night though, but just perhaps, its because Mom has been gone a bit over a year now, and Dad has been gone for about 30, and it Christmas, and like Scrooge, but for more pleasant reasons, I am reminded of the people and memories of my past.  So I say, as did Tiny Tim, “God Bless Us, Everyone!”, and to all a Merry Christmas, a good night, and just possibly as you dream, that you may have visions of Sugar Plums;  and  Button Jars dancing in your head.

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Cell Phone Manners, or the Lack Thereof

Was just reading the article about the person who finally got escorted off the Amtrac train because she’d spent nearly 16 hours on a trip glued to her phone, while seated in a quiet car that specifically forbids such action. This leads me to wonder what it is about cell phones that seem to make some people forget common courtesy (which was never common anyway). You know the ones I’m speaking of, you have probably encountered them as they chatter their way through your local Walmart, Target, Sams Club or Costco. They may be seated nearby while you are trying to enjoy a meal in a restaurant, but they seem to feel their conversation; carried on in a loud voice for some reason, is more important than you trying to enjoy a meal. These are the same people who tell the clerk in a fast food franchise that as a cell phone user, their conversation is more important than the 1) clerk, 2) the people behind them waiting to order or 3) the food they are ordering. For what reason do they think their conversation is something I want to share? People like that rank right up there with the folks who have the huge bass boxes in their cars that rattle all the windows in my home when they travel down the street in front of my home. I don’t make them listen to symphonies when I do, so please, don’t make me listen to your hip-hop or whatever when I don’t want to. Oh, and if you don’t mind, take your phone call outside and let me get on with my day.

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I know I’ve already done one blog today, but I was just noticing about Arnold (the Governator) Schwarzenegger’s admission that he had fathered a child upon one of his households aids. Adultery is nothing new, been around probably since the human race became sentient, but that never makes it right. At least have enough respect for you mate and the other woman to get a divorce before you begin planting your seed again, in a manner of speaking. Fidelity is respect, so think about that Arnold, and Tiger, and whoever else can’t seem to grasp the concept. It is what we owe those we vow to love, protect, and stand by, for better or worse, richer or poorer.

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The picture below the blog is over 20 years old, and I no longer have all that hair. Further more, what is left is grey, with a small smattering of black. You know what, I don’t really miss it. I made myself a promise years ago that I would not be one of those men of an indeterminate age who does not dare to stand the wrong way in a breeze lest his comb over waves like Old Glory. Now, I have not decided to go completely hair free on my head, but I may go ahead and shave the rest off, not quite sure yet if I’m ready for that step. I can understand why a younger man may feel like they need a hair piece or something, but by the time you are in your 60’s, well, get over it. The other type of hair that gets me is the guy with nothing on top but wearing a pony tail! What’s with that? It’s like a fat guy in Speedos, no one really wants to see that picture. I try to be an open minded person, but you must draw the line somewhere. Balding guys, go with it, embrace change, and lose the greasy comb-over.

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