Howard Waldrop interview

Mon 30 Nov 2015 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | 3 Comments| Posted by: Gavin

I am swamped with Cyber Monday and Holiday Sale emails (I am unsubscribing to as many as I can!) and they weigh me down so much I can’t get it together to do our own promo. Hey, it’s the holidays soon and, you know, we publish books, and, argh!

So here’s to one of our authors speaking for himself: this past weekend at Malvern Books in Austin, TX, Brad Denton interviewed Howard Waldrop “on JFK, George R. R. Martin ‘and stuff’.”

During the interview — really a diverting conversation between old friends — Howard mentions that two of the stories in Howard Who? (“The Ugly Chickens” and “Mary Margaret Road-Grader“) plus “Night of the Cooters” have been turned into screenplays and will either be episodes in a TV show parts of an omnibus film produced by . . .  George R. R. Martin. Excited, yes I am. More exciting: we just bought a story by Howard for LCRW: a story that brings together Ben Hur, Truman Capote, Billy the Kid, “and stuff.” There’s only one Howard!

ETA: Longtime Waldrop readers (including my wife, Kelly, who introduced me to his stories!) will be happy to know that I talked to him recently and he is once again promising to get back to work on his much delayed novel The Moone World.



Bookslinger: The Ugly Chickens

Fri 11 Jul 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

New this week on Consortium’s Bookslinger app is Howard Waldrop’s Nebula and World Fantasy Award winning story “The Ugly Chickens” from our ebook edition of Old Earth Books’s Waldrop anthology Things Will Never Be the Same: A Howard Waldrop Reader: Selected Short Fiction 1980-2005.

Previous Small Beer stories on Bookslinger:

Howard Waldrop’s “A Dozen Tough Jobs.”

Bernardo Fernandez’s “Lions” (translated by co-editor Chris N. Brown) from Three Messages and a Warning.

John Kessel, “Pride and Prometheus

Kij Johnson’s “At the Mouth of the River of Bees

Georges-Olivier Chateaureynaud’s “Delauney the Broker” (translated by Edward Gauvin)

Ray Vukcevich, “Whisper

Maureen F. McHugh, “The Naturalist

Karen Joy Fowler, “The Pelican Bar

Kelly Link, “The Faery Handbag

Benjamin Rosenbaum, “Start the Clock

Maureen F. McHugh, “Ancestor Money

Download the app in the iTunes store.

And watch a video on it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySL1bvyuNUE



Bookslinger: A Dozen Tough Jobs

Tue 1 Jul 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

New this week on Consortium’s Bookslinger app is Howard Waldrop’s “A Dozen Tough Jobs” from our ebook edition of Old Earth Books’s Waldrop anthology Other Worlds, Better Lives: Selected Long Fiction, 1989-2003.

If you look at the previous Small Beer stories on Bookslinger, it’s sort of like we are slowly building a virtual anthology:

Bernardo Fernandez’s “Lions” (translated by co-editor Chris N. Brown) from Three Messages and a Warning.

John Kessel, “Pride and Prometheus

Kij Johnson’s “At the Mouth of the River of Bees

Georges-Olivier Chateaureynaud’s “Delauney the Broker” (translated by Edward Gauvin)

Ray Vukcevich, “Whisper

Maureen F. McHugh, “The Naturalist

Karen Joy Fowler, “The Pelican Bar

Kelly Link, “The Faery Handbag

Benjamin Rosenbaum, “Start the Clock

Maureen F. McHugh, “Ancestor Money

Download the app in the iTunes store.

And watch a video on it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySL1bvyuNUE



Bestsellers & Locus Rec Reading 2013

Mon 3 Feb 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments| Posted by: Gavin

Here are two different views of 2013 in SBP books. What will 2014 bring? Droughts! Witches! Yetis! More and more weird fun!

Congratulations to all the authors on the 2013 Locus recommended reading list. It’s always fun to peruse the list and see, for whatever reasons, what rose up and what didn’t. It’s especially nice to have links to all the online short stories and novellas and so on, thanks Mark et al!

In 2013, we published 2 Peter Dickinson reprints, one chapbook, and six new titles, and of those six, four titles are on the list:

  1. Sofia Samatar, A Stranger in Olondria
  2. Nathan Ballingrud, North American Lake Monsters: Stories
  3. Angelica Gorodischer (trans. Amalia Gladhart), Trafalgar
  4. Howard Waldrop, Horse of a Different Color: Stories

And you can go and vote in the Locus awards poll here. I have some reading to do before I vote. Votes for Small Beer authors and titles are always appreciated, thank you!

In sales, once again our celebration of Ursula K. Le Guin’s fantastic short stories were our best sellers for the year. However, if we split the two volumes into separate sales, Ted Chiang’s Stories of Your Life and Others would climb a notch to #2. But! Counting them as one means we get another title into the top 5: Elizabeth Hand’s late 2012 collection Errantry: Strange Stories. We really should release more books at the start of the year, as those released at the end have much less chance of getting into the top 5.

According to Neilsen BookScan (i.e. not including bookfairs, our website, etc.), our top five bestsellers (excluding ebooks) for 2013 were:

  1. Ursula K. Le Guin, The Unreal and the Real: Selected Stories of Ursula K. Le Guin
    Ursula K. Le Guin, The Unreal and the Real: Selected Stories of Ursula K. Le Guin
  2. Ted Chiang, Stories of Your Life and Others
  3. Kij Johnson, At the Mouth of the River of Bees
  4. Susan Stinson, Spider in a Tree
  5. Elizabeth Hand, Errantry: Strange Stories

Last year it was all short stories all the time, this year Susan Stinson’s historical novel Spider in a Tree jumped in (I’d have said sneaked in if it was #5, but since it’s at #4, that’s a jump!). Susan’s book is still getting great reviews, as with this from the Historical Novel Review which just came out this week:

“The book is billed as “a novel of the First Great Awakening,” and Stinson tries to do just that, presenting us with a host of viewpoints from colonists to slaves and even insects. She gives an honest imagining of everyday people caught up in extraordinary times, where ecstatic faith, town politics and human nature make contentious bedfellows. Although the novel was slow to pull me in, by the end I felt I had an intimate glance into the disparate lives of these 18th-century residents of Northampton, Massachusetts.”

As ever, thanks are due to the writers for writing their books, all the people who worked on the books with us, the great support we received from the independent bookstores all across the USA and Canada, and of course, the readers. We love these books and are so happy to find so many readers do, too: thank you!

    



2013 in SBP books

Wed 18 Dec 2013 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Sometimes I miss Badreads, the community reading site that AFAIK closed down earlier this year. I haven’t yet really migrated to LibraryThing (there’s that part ownership thing) or any of the others. I certainly liked seeing what other people were reading and keeping up with what I was reading.

Now, who knows what I read? I barely do. Although I really enjoyed the most recent issue of Pen AmericaNot just because they reprinted two stories from Three Messages and a Warning either. The whole thing was great, from the forum on teaching writing (Dorothy Allison, Paul La Farge . . . and Elissa Schappel’s heartbreaking piece) to the poetry by Ron Padgett (“Advice to Young Writers”) and two graphic narratives (comics!) by the fab David B. and Jean-Pierre Filiu (translated by none other than Edward Gauvin!) and Brian Evenson and Zak Sally. Anyway, you want a good magazine? Go read it.

I joined Pen a couple of years ago (teenage me: so proud!) and now Kelly’s a member, too. Are you a writer or editor? Do you care about intellectual freedom? If you can swing it, sign up here!

Ok, so, Small Beer: What have we been up to this fine year almost done and gone?

2 issues of LCRW! A record! Well, for recent years. We are planning 2 more for 2014. Phew!

A banner year for Weightless, yay!

And the New York Times just gave a great review to one of our final books of the year, Howard Waldrop’s new collection. I always think our books are so good that they all should be on NPR, in the WaPo, the LA, NY, St. Petersburg, Seattle, and London Times, etc., etc., so sometimes I surprised when they aren’t. I know: different strokes for different folks and all that, although really I think since all our books are so good they should overcome any reader prejudices. (“Short stories! Pah!”) The real reason they’re not reviewed anywhere? All the papers and magazines find it hard to justify reviewing half a dozen or more books from the same publisher. Right? Right!

BTW: if you would like to order Small Beer books (we have many signed copies!) to arrive in time for the holidays, please select Priority Mail. We are shipping until 5 pm on Thursday December 19th this year.

Here’s a picture of all the books we published this year and below, a little bit more about each book.

2013 books

BOOKS!
Authors!

Chuntering on!

Reviews!

CRY MURDER! IN A SMALL VOICE
Greer Gilman

What, another chapbook? That’s two in two years! The last one we did was in 2004 (Theodora Goss) and the next one should be 2014. Woo! This one is a dark, dense and intense serial killer story with Ben Jonson, detective and avenging angel.

“A jewel of a novella.”—Strange Horizons

NORTH AMERICAN LAKE MONSTERS
Nathan Ballingrud » interview

The darkest book I expect we will ever publish! Bleak? Check. Monsters? Check? Fabulous, fabulous writing? Check!

“Matched to his original ideas and refreshing re­furbishments of genre set pieces, Ballingrud’s writ­ing makes North American Lake Monsters one of the best collections of short fiction for the year.
Locus

“The beauty of the work as a whole is that it offers no clear and easy answers; any generalization that might be supported by some stories is contradicted by others. It makes for an intellectually stimulating collection that pulls the reader in unexpected directions. The pieces don’t always come to a satisfactory resolution, but it is clear that this is a conscious choice. The lack of denouement, the uncertainty, is part of the fabric of the individual stories and of the collection as a whole. It is suggestive of a particular kind of world: one that is dark, weird, and just beyond our ability to impose order and understanding. These are not happy endings. They are sad and unsettling, but always beautifully written with skillful and insightful prose. It is a remarkable collection.”
Hellnotes

SPIDER IN A TREE
Susan Stinson » Rick Kleffel interviews Susan Stinson (mp3 link).

Flying out the door in our town (Broadside Books alone has sold 140+ copies!) and now all over the country. Jonathan Edwards, we hardly knew ye. Until Susan brought you and your family and your town back to life.

“Ultimately, ‘Spider in a Tree’ is a lesson in what not to expect. Stinson eludes the clichés usually associated with religious extremism to peel away the humans underneath. We speak of a loving God, who asks us to embark upon a deadly war. We most easily see the sins in others that we are ourselves guilty of. Every ambition to perfect ourselves has a very human cost. As we reach for what we decide is the divine, we reveal our most fragile human frailties. Words cannot capture us; but we in all our human hubris, are quite inclined to capture words.”
The Agony Column

A STRANGER IN OLONDRIA
Sofia Samatar

We still have a few hardcovers of this left, unlike most other places. Some reviewers have really got this book including Jane Franklin in Rain Taxi who just gave it a huge excellent review. Yes, it’s a fantasy novel. Yes, it’s fantastic. Sofia sure can write.

“Sofia Samatar’s debut fantasy A Stranger in Olondria is gloriously vivid and rich.”
—Adam Roberts, The Guardian, Best Science Fiction Books of 2013

“For its lyricism, its focus on language, and its concern with place, it belongs on the shelf with the works of Hope Mirrlees, Lord Dunsany, and M. John Harrison — but for its emotional range, it sits next to books by Ursula K. Le Guin or Joanna Russ.”—Jane Franklin, Rain Taxi

TRAFALGAR
Angélica Gorodischer. Translated by Amalia Gladhart.

Our second Gorodischer—and we have high hopes of a third and maybe even a fourth! This one is a discursive, smart, self aware science fiction. Don’t miss!

“Perhaps the strangest thing about these tales is how easily one forgets the mechanics of their telling. Medrano’s audiences are at first reluctant to be taken in by yet another digressive, implausible monologue about sales and seductions in space. But soon enough, they are urging the teller to get on with it and reveal what happens next. The discerning reader will doubtless agree.”
Review of Contemporary Fiction

HORSE OF A DIFFERENT COLOR: STORIES
Howard Waldrop

We keep getting letters from Waldrop fans who are so pleased he has a new book out: and that after 40 years he’s in the New York Times! Spread the joy!

“What’s most rewarding in Mr. Waldrop’s best work is how he both shocks and entertains the reader. He likes to take the familiar — old films, fairy tales, Gilbert & Sullivan operettas — then give it an out-of-left-field twist. At least half the 10 tales in his new collection are prime eccentric Waldrop . . .  as he mashes genres, kinks and knots timelines, alchemizing history into alternate history. In “The Wolf-man of Alcatraz,” the B prison movie rubs fur with the Wolf-man; “Kindermarchen” takes the tale of Hansel and Gretel and transforms it into a haunting fable of the Holocaust; and “The King of Where-I-Go” is a moving riff on time travel, the polio epidemic and sibling love.
“Among the most successful stories is “The Horse of a Different Color (That You Rode In On),” an improbable confluence of vaudeville (two of the main characters perform in a horse suit) and the Arthurian Grail legend that manages to name-check Señor Wences, Thomas Pynchon, “King Kong” and more as Mr. Waldrop tells of the Ham Nag — “the best goddamned horse-suit act there ever was.” It’s certainly the best horse-suit-act story I’ve ever read.”
New York Times

TYRANNIA AND OTHER RENDITIONS
Alan DeNiro

Alan’s second collection marries absurdity to with politics and heart. Every writer is unique. Alan? Alan is like a superhero made up of the best parts of half a dozen of our favorite writers. Read these two excerpts to see why: “Tyrannia”, Walking Stick Fires [excerpt].

“Most of Tyrannia‘s rambunctious, immensely entertaining stories — seven of them science fiction — blend bizarre speculations with intermittent humor. When there isn’t humor, there’s weirdness — often extreme weirdness, funny in its own right. Fair warning: what I’m about to describe might not always make sense. That’s in the nature of this highly unconventional collection.”
—Will George, Bookslut

DEATH OF A UNICORN & THE POISON ORACLE
Peter Dickinson

We added Reading Group Questions to the former and the latter includes an author interview carried out by none other than Sara Paretsky. These two sort of mysteries are filled with bon mots, memorable characters, and the strangeness of the 1950s, 1970s, and 1980s. There is nothing as haunting as the last line of The Poison Oracle.

“Dickinson’s crime novels are simply like no other; sophisticated, erudite, unexpected, intricate, English and deeply, wonderfully peculiar.”
—Christopher Fowler, author of The Memory of Blood



Howard Waldrop, 2013

Thu 14 Nov 2013 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Yesterday Martha Grenon was kind enough to take some new author photos of Howard Waldrop. Howard refused any attempt to style him but something of his cheeriness comes through anyway. For those of us in the cold, cold north, it’s nice to see someone standing there warm enough with just have a shirt (with rolled-up sleeves!) instead of layers, baby, layers.

This is probably a good time to link to “Three Ways of Looking at Howard Waldrop (and Then Some)” by Jed Hartman, et alia.

Howard_Waldrop_by_Martha_Grenon_1B&W

Howard_Waldrop_by_Martha_Grenon_2B&W

Howard_Waldrop_by_Martha_Grenon_3

Howard_Waldrop_by_Martha_Grenon_2

Howard_Waldrop_by_Martha_Grenon_1



Howard Waldrop, King of Where-I-Go

Tue 12 Nov 2013 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Horse of a Different Color cover Hey! It’s been eight years since Howard Waldrop’s last collection, Heart of Whitenesse. Too long! We’re very happy to be publishing Horse of a Different Color: Stories today. (Howard promises us we’ll have more to publish soon.)

Long time readers of Howard’s amazing stories will know (and new readers will find out from his introduction to Horse) that a couple of years ago Howard’s health took a turn for the worse. The good news is the VA and his family and friends have looked after him (are still looking after him!) and he is hard at work. And he promises to be back harder at work once he gets eye surgery. He’s always been a great reader and we have great plans to get Howard to do the audio editions of his books. Great plans! but they do depend on him being able to read in comfort without the 4x microscope he used at Readercon this year.

Anyway. This book includes the best piece of Esperanto-based fiction I’ve read, “Ninieslando,” first published—as so many of Howard’s stories are in an anthology (Warriors) edited by his good friends, Gardner Dozois & George R. R. Martin.

It’s a story of missed chances, as a few of these stories are, and sometimes I argue that Howard’s career is one of missed chances. Not his: everyone else’s. Why I’m not sitting down to Howard Waldrop’s Missed Chances every Tuesday night at 9 p.m. I don’t know. Well, nothing in the way of TV and movies ever goes easily. Fingers crossed Craig Ferguson will read the title story, love the pantomime horse act, get Howard on The Late Late Show and off Howard’s career will go, boom, on a rocket, into space.

Whether that happens or not, we’re very glad to be bring you these 10 stories of wolf-men, actors, pirates, fairy tales and more from the one and only literary mashup master, Howard Waldrop.



Busy week coming

Mon 11 Nov 2013 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Tyrannia and Other Renditions cover First, tomorrow, the lovely (well, in the USA), 11/12/13, we celebrate publication day of Howard Waldrop’s Horse of a Different Color: Stories.

On Wednesday there are two readings for you to drop all and get your plane tickets for. How will you decide which to go to? Flip a coin?

For those nearer Massachusetts, Susan Stinson will be reading from Spider in a Tree at 8 pm at Amherst Books in Amherst. The Concord Monitor just chimed in with a lovely review thatcaptured the same sense of surprise I found in myself when I was grabbed by this novel of life in 1740s Northampton:

Massachusetts author Susan Stinson’s Spider in a Tree: a Novel of the First Great Awakening surprised me. I knew the basic history of the period, including a bit about Jonathan Edwards, and frankly, thought it dull. But Stinson takes readers into Edwards’s home, into the lives of his family, their slaves, neighbors, relatives, and yes, even the spiders and insects of colonial Northampton, Mass. Suffering and joy, religious ecstasy and secular sorrow, the conflict between formal theology and individual conscience all make vivid fodder for Stinson’s story, which follows Edwards’s trajectory from 1731, during the religious revival that gripped New England, to 1750, when his congregation dismissed him.

and you can read an interview with Susan on Bookslut.

For those in the middle or left side of the country, Alan DeNiro is also reading on Wednesday night. He is reading at 7 pm at SubText: a Bookstore in St. Paul, MN. Alan’s second collection, Tyrannia and Other Renditions comes out next week and you can read an excerpt from “Walking Stick Fires” on tor.com.

Make your choice!

Susan Stinson
8 pm, Amherst Books, Amherst, Mass.

Alan DeNiro
7 pm, SubText: a Bookstore, St. Paul, Minn.



catch all

Tue 30 Dec 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

It’s pre-tax madness around here. Who didn’t make those estimated payments? Oops. Ok, must go fix that now. In the meantime, these:



Making Howard finish a book

Tue 16 Dec 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Waldrop is back in Austin recovering from his latest bout with the health industrial complex. He had quintuple bypass surgery this summer then some follow-up stuff just for fun. The good news is that the VA hospital forgave part of the cost. The bad news is that he will need to sell a few more stories to Playboy and The New Yorker to pay the rest of the bill.

We really don’t want Howard to die, then for some geniuses to discover him and make movies and tons of moolah for his descendants—although since Ed Park selected Other Worlds, Better Lives as one of the Best SF Books of 2008 in the LA Times, maybe interns in La-La Land will alert the higher-ups and someone will read the book and before you can say Bo Diddley, “A Dozen Tough Jobs” will be in the theaters.

So maybe while we wait for that (and for Howard to finish The Moone World) to happen we will ask Howard to write up some more bloggity posts about all this and make a pretty little book out of it. We could ask a Texas illustrator or two to make some pretty pictures, send the pages to Howard to sign (he’s getting better every day, he can sign some pages), and maybe raise some money for the guy io9 says Built Your Crappy Future Word by Word. (He also built some excellent pasts.) So, maybe in spring?



Waldrop in the Times

Fri 3 Oct 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

In the LA Times, Ed Parks has a look at Old Earth’s new collection of Howard Waldrop’s longer stories, Other Worlds, Better Lives, and Howard Who? receives a name check:

Waldrop knows the virtue of leaving the reader wanting more. (Last year, Old Earth brought out “Things Will Never Be the Same,” an anthology of his shorter work, and in 2006 Small Beer Press reprinted “Howard Who?,” a charming collection from two decades earlier.

Hope they are reading Ed in Hollywood!



Blog Like Me 9: What’s Opera, Doc?

Wed 18 Jun 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Howard Waldrop

Skeptical HowardI’m reading a book called Opera Offstage by Milton Brener (Walker & Co NY 1996) which is about the stories behind, around and among the great operas: love affairs and other things which led to their composition; extraordinary stories about premieres, the shadowy and sometimes shady characters who moved through the 18th and 19th C. opera worlds.

For instance: the Paris premier of Tannhauser (1861) by Wagner; the biggest fiasco in Paris music history until Le Sacre du Printemps by Stravinsky (1913), was all because Wagner wouldn’t put an act-opening ballet in the second act.

Why, you ask?

Well, when being told he had to have one, Wagner said logically, that it made no sense dramatically, especially after the bacchanal in Venusberg in Act I. It doesn’t matter, said everyone, there must be a second act opening ballet. “No,” said Wagner. “Well, the Jockey Club won’t like that!” they said.

The Jockey Club was a bunch of aristos and upper-middle-class ne’er-do-wells who slept all day, lolled around, dined late and showed up at the opera in time for the second-act opening ballet, danced by, usually, their and their buddies’ girlfriends and mistresses. Anyway, they showed up to see lots of leg, the one place they could do that in a semi-cultured setting in 1861.

Well, Wagner didn’t put in a ballet. Opening night, the Jockey Club poured itself in after the first act with their police whistles and cowbells. The second act opened up on some guy center-stage singing. Out come the whistles, cowbells and catcalls. You couldn’t hear jack shit out there onstage but them.

The rest of the audience tried to yell them down. That added to the problem. The Jockey Club would quiet, the music would start again, the singer stepped forward and Clanga-danga-danga-wheet! they’d be off again. So it went.

Not only opening night, but for the next three performances. Fists flew around like cake at an Irish wedding.

Wagner withdrew the opera and left (as usual) in a cloud of debt.

Similarly with Puccini and the opening night of Madame Butterfly—not, this time, noise and scandal, but silence. I mean dead.

It was from a one-act play by David Belasco. Puccini and his co-librettists turned this into a (against convention) two-act opera (the second act being more than 90 minutes long). Before, Puccini had always had opening-night jitters; he knew Madame Butterfly was his best, so he wasn’t worried at all. He expected another triumph. He brought his whole family, which he’d never done before. The cast, orchestra and technical people were the best. (The stagehands had cried during rehearsals, so moved were they by the singing and the story.)

Here’s what happened to Puccini: hubris. And the sound of hubris, like in a Daffy Duck cartoon, is the sound of crickets chirping in the back of a packed theater . . .

The book’s full of stories, not just about disasters, but about snookered librettists, plagiarism suits, blackmail, censorship (for reasons you’d not guess in a million years, in some cases . . .) and sharp practices.

It’s a neat book, whether you know anything about opera or not.

But all this is prologue. I want to tell you about the time I performed with the New York Met in 1996.

But, Howard, you cry. The only thing you can play is the radio. You only know two tunes, like General Grant said; one’s the drum solo from “Inna-Gadda-Da-Vida” and the other’s not. What are you doing with the Met?

Well, one of my minors was in Drama at UT-Arlington (I’d been Nick Burns in A Thousand Clowns that semester, the Barry Gordon kid’s part). I was the only one who could do the Peter Lorre voice called for in Act I. I was a pretty normal-sized sophomore playing a supposedly 12-year-old kid. In one of the most surrealistically-performed plays in American college theater history, they used the simple expedient of casting giants in the grown-up roles. I was (and am) 5′ 6″. The Jason Robards Jr role was by a 6′ 7″er. The other 3 guy roles were between 6′ 1″ and 6′ 3″. The leading lady (the Barbara Harris role) was 6′ even.

Somehow it worked.

Anyway, the drama teacher told us The Met was coming to Dallas and they needed people. They were doing 3 operas in two nights and a matinee. The deal: you worked in one; you got a little pay and tickets for the other two. The call was going out to all the drama departments in all the colleges in the DFW area.

The three operas were, I think, Turandot, Otello, and Falstaff.

A bunch of us decided to do the Sunday matinee, Turandot.

We drove over to Dallas (@ 20 miles) in a couple cars on a blazing hot May afternoon. Where we were going was to the Texas State Fairgrounds, next to the Cotton Bowl, which had all been built for the 1936 Texas Centennial, 30 years before. The operas were in the Texas State Music Hall, a great Pennsylvania Dutch-looking 6-story barn, the kind with two balconies which actually had seats with pillars in front of them (you could hear but you couldn’t see). It had the acoustics of a 6 story kazoo.

Anyway, it’s an hour till showtime. They call about 30 of us out back. “In a minute, you’ll go in and get costumed,” said an assistant stage manager, who had on a suit, in a heat wave, in May, in Dallas.

“After that, we’ll give you some spears and flags and stuff. You’ll march in from each side, turn, go through the gate, and go up the two stairs and line up on top of the wall. There’ll be a guy already there in the middle—try not to bump into him when you line up. He’ll sing a lot of crap for a long time, then he’ll yell something that sounds like “HiYA!” when he runs out of wind. Turn to your left and march off the wall.”

It was the most succinct stage directions I ever got in my career.

Well, by the time they got us dressed and slapped some Oriental #3 makeup on us, it was time for us to go on.

What I’m dressed as is a Mongol @ 1300 A.D. I am in a goatskin vest and tunic. I have on a helmet, 1/2 authentic Mongol and 1/2 picklehaube, like the Hun wore in the Great War. We line up on both sides of the stage, march in, meet, turn toward the upstage gate, go through it, and climb the stairs in back of the wall. There’s a guy up there in the middle and we don’t bump into him much when we line up. Then he sings a lot of crap for a really long time.

I told you it was a heatwave in May. Out in the audience of the Music Hall it’s about 95°F. On stage, on the wall, under the Fresnels and Leicos, it’s like 147°F. I’m dressed in goatskins. I can feel the heat rash coming up all over me like Jiffy-Pop® on a stove.

I manage not to fall off the wall in a dead swoon.

The guy in the middle runs down after awhile and says “HiYa!” We turn to our lefts and march off down the stairs.

Intermission: the assistant stage manager meets us.

“Next part’s easy,” he said. “You march from stage left to stage right across downstage, run around quietly behind the set, and march across again. If you had a spear the first time across, trade out with someone with a flag. Do it till the guy with the fancy costume climbs the steps and the music changes. If you’re onstage when that happens, try to act interested in what he’s singing. Also try not to scratch your butts. When he’s through, march off stage right. Meet me out back after you get out of costume and make-up.”

Well, we do that. It’s hotter onstage than a recently-fornicated waterfowl. As soon as we march off the last time and take off for the dressing rooms, I grab my helmet by the earpiece and whip it off, forgetting about the spike.

“Yowwwch!” yells someone behind me, a real Met person, “careful with that thing, hombré.”

“Sorry,” I said. “Sonofabitch was cooking my brains.”

They ran us into the dressing room; they pulled off our goatskins and slapped cold cream over the Oriental #3 on our faces and arms and toweled it off and we dressed and they pushed us out, and we went out back.

We met the assistant stage manager out there, where it was at least 10° cooler.

He handed us $5 cash each and tickets to the two other shows and thanked us.

I think we gave him a round of applause.

So, that was my day with the Met on tour.

In a May heatwave, in Dallas TX, in a goatskin and boiling helmet, carrying a spear or a limp flag.

Heldentendors, Beware!: I take Large Steps.

Howard Waldrop



Blog Like Me 8: More Office-Supply Gossip

Tue 16 Oct 2007 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Howard Waldrop

Skeptical Howard“Since you write with fountain pens,” I hear you cry, “on what do you write?”

The answer is, almost anything.

My paper of choice is loose-leaf, three-hole punch notebook filler paper, college-ruled, which comes around, back-to-school time, this time of the year, for as little as 18¢ for 150 sheets (limit 4, but there are lots of Walgreen’s and CVSs to stop at, aren’t there?) Usually they want about 2¢ a sheet for it—the rest of the year it’s @ $2.98 for the 150 sheets.

In my many years of cruising garage-and- going out-of-business sales, I’ve ended up with some really great stuff. Some of the best I picked up at a garage sale on Airport Blvd.—it was leftover letterheads from a one-person insurance agency on 49 ½  St ( by then, all residences ) that must have gone out of business in the early 1960s, before ZIP codes. It had a slightly crinkled finish (“with a nice tooth” as we say) and was printed on 50% rag content paper. It was still as white as the day it came from the printer, and this was in the early 1980s. A full real of it, to he best of my memory, cost me 35¢. I used it for years, but finally ran out around 1986 or so.

Them Bones was written, the whole manuscript ((More in a minute)) on the back of a 365-Day 8 ½” x 11” Kliban Calendar Notebook. The cartoons were printed on a slightly pulpy creamish-colored paper, and once again had a fine tooth for the fountain pen to grab and really flow, without, pulp appearance to the contrary, spreading or smudging which is what happens when you put ink to most construction-paper-looking stuff.

((I read Them Bones the same way the reader did, the first time I opened the book. I’d written all the sections separately. I shuffled the sections together after I typed it all up—section at a time—and put the page numbers on it by hand just before I sent it off to the late Terry Carr. All I knew when I started assembling it was that Leake VIII followed The Box VIII and both had to come after Bessie VI etc. etc. When I read the printed book, I was astounded by how much resonated referring back to the other sections as I wrote it.))

I wrote “Man-Mountain Gentian”—which I had to read at a convention in Dallas at 6 pm—sitting on my suitcase in the aisle of a packed Greyhound Bus (the bus was full—I said “I have to get to Dallas on this bus; I’ll stand up til someone leaves”—that turned out to be Waco, 100 miles away) on a Snoopy pad, the only writing surface they had for sale in the Austin bus depot. The pad was auctioned off for charity at the convention—Lew Shiner bought it (I’d had to go across the street from the hotel and pay, if I remember, 35¢ a page to copy it so I’d have a mss to type from when I got back to Austin Monday—I found a ride back so I didn’t have to stand up 100 miles again…).

I usually have my own paper with me when I’m doing that, i.e. finishing a story to read at a convention. Microperfed wireless notebooks are a godsend—you can write in them, or tear the pages out (without all those spiral notebook hanging-chads coming out all over the place with them).

I have written on and in some of the goddamdest places and things invented by man. Choice of course, is on my own knocked-together desks in my own room, wherever that is. I have written on friend’s desks; various in-laws (and woulda-been in-laws if the ladies and I had been married) kitchen tables during blizzards; more hotel-room little writing escritoires and tables than you can imagine; in people’s borrowed hotel rooms an hour before a reading—Thanks, Pat Cadigan, at least a couple of times—in a papa-san chair in George R. R. Martin’s office (as he, quant suff. wrote “Meathouse Man” in 1976 in Grand Prairie, TX, in my living-room, and as we wrote “The Men of Greywater Station” in a hotel room shared by 13 fans in Kansas City in 1972, between visits to the Playboy Club up on the roof, the only decent overpriced bar in the place…).

I’ve written on the fold-down trays on jets AND typed them up, back in the days of typewriters, on my old blue portable stripped down and mounted on a thin wood base with a handle on it so I didn’t have to take the case and cover. (Usually the typing waited for the hotel room, unless I had a reading at, like three hours later, after I got to the convention.)

I wrote something on an electrical wire cable spool in Lake City, CO. I’ve written on top of an old Singer treadle sewing machine.

I’m getting old. I’d really like to finish my work in plenty of time, on the paper of my choice, at my very own desk.

Wouldn’t it be pretty to think so.” as Hemingway said.

Next blogs somewhere: Howard re-encounters The Sugar Creek Gang in a mano-a-mano TX barbed wire death match after 50 years!

Howard Waldrop



Blog Like Me 7: One for Ned Ludd (II)

Tue 9 Oct 2007 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | 2 Comments| Posted by: Howard Waldrop

Skeptical HowardLast week I talked about typewriter ribbons in this Electronic-Cyber Age. ( These blogs, if you can’t scroll back, is written longhand, typed up on an Adler Manual Portable typewriter, and snail-mailed to Small Beer, who turn it into pixels.)

Let’s talk about the real work going on here: handwritten drafts.

As goes the typewriter ribbon ( $2.89 for all black cotton ribbons in the late 70s to bastard hybrid half-black half white ones for $4.00 in the 80s and 90s, to a now-again all usable all-black nylon one in the 00s for $5.95@), so goes the fountain pen.

(The difference: typewriters have always been working-class objects—if you’re a business person, you get a working-class person to type up what you say or write: fountain pens from the first were considered luxury items and signs of success—there’s always been a sucker-market for one-of-a-kind and designer pens—check out some books on fountain-pen collecting and see how many diamond-encrusted 24 kt gold-nibbed pens you see…)

Anyway: the pens I use more than any others are what was always a working-class pen—two Schaeffer Scripto cartridge fountain pens I got at least 25 years ago, still going strong. (I wore the nib off my oldest Schaeffer pen about 15 years ago that had been in service since just after I got out of the US Army in the early 70s…)

When cartridge-ink fountain pens came along ~1960, the fountain pen industry had the first viable challenge to the ballpoint pens that had ruled since the late 1940s (Biro, its American offshoot, Bic, and Parker) As long as fountain pens had to be filled by siphoning, or bulb reservoir or something—a messy precedure because the very instrument with which you wrote had to be submerged in an ink supply, and then cleaned, and was subject turning your new Christmas shirt into a wearable Rorsach test, the ball-point was going to be instrument of choice.

When the ink-cartridge pen appeared, all the mess was gone, and sales took off. For the first time, you had working-class fountain pens. You unscrewed the barrel of the pen, took out the empty plastic cartridge, dropped in a full one, where it was harpooned by a little hollow projection when you screwed the front end back into the barrel—voila!—you were an ink-slinging warrior once more.

The problem with ink-cartridge pens from the start was that each company had its own cartridge—there was no standardization. Its stuff only fit its pens. Mt.Blanc used itty-bitty ones that gave you around 2000 wds (because they were mostly used by executives to put their name or initials on some document): Wearever and Parker had big long ones that would dry up before an executive could use it all up; Schaeffer was the working-class choice of high-school and college students everywhere—a size cartridge halfway between the two. They came with colored barrels; transparent barrels so you could see the ink as it was used up; and translucent colored barrels for people who couldn’t makeup their minds. The two I still use have a solid blue barrel and a translucent green one.

Anyway, as electronic data took over (“the paperless office”) ink cartridges started getting scarce and expensive. (The Schaeffers were still 98¢ or $1.19 for six in 1970s.) The only Mt. Blanc I’ve ever owned was given me by friends at whose wedding I’d been Best Man. The price of cartridges killed me. Then I found that Wal-Mart marketed a substitute for it under the Stratos name. They came in a blister-pack of 6 for &2.99 (they also fit a bunch of calligraphy pens). I bought those for years and used the Mt.Blanc pen. Then suddenly you couldn’t find the 6-pack anymore—they only came in 12-packs for $5.99—twice the product for twice the price (but in my case meant I had to have $6.00 lose rather than $3.00…) I wrote the Mt. Blanc to a gallant Gallic-Swiss death: the front end of the barrel developed a hairline crack leading to great splotches of ink all over my writin’ hand, because the screw-down barrel was loosened… I buried it with full military honors, like they finally did Dreyfuss (the pen lasted longer than the marriage, by the way…).

Through the years I’ve had the Mt. Blanc; Schaeffers (the workhorses), Montefiores, some red plastic 4/ $2.00 Chinese pens I got from American Sci. and Surp. ( fine until the tin nibs got scratchy when the plating wore off, and the barrels loosened and leaked…) and a Lamy.

As late as two years ago, you could get the Schaeffer cartridges for as little as $2.49 for five, and you got around 5000 wds per each one; now, since a bunch of calligraphy pens are made to fit them, they go at both Michael’s and Office Mac for 5/$5.99—Office Depot, like so many other places, has quite carrying them entirely, and only carry luxury-market Mt. Blanc and Waterman cartridges. Wal-Mart has quit carrying the Stratos Brand altogether.

Once every drugstore and Five-and–Dime in American carried the Scripto cartridges, cheap. No more.

As I quoted Norman Mailer last time: “ You either change, or your pay more for staying the same.”

Howard Waldrop



Blog Like Me 6: One For Ned Ludd

Tue 2 Oct 2007 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | 3 Comments| Posted by: Howard Waldrop

Skeptical HowardEverybody knows, I hope, these blogs are written in longhand, typed up on the last Adler manual portable typewriter ever produced (1975) and sent via US Mail to your capable Editors.

Then they do whatever it is they do, some arcane magic, and it turns into photons delivered to your house.

People (especially publishers) keep asking me when I’m going to get a word processor or computer or whatever.

“I produce words on paper,” I say. “ You print words on paper. How it gets from one to the other is not my bowl of rice.”

A tres charmant blend of practicality and Luddism, I think.

Norman Mailer ( who said a lot of crap, some of it very true indeed) wrote once years ago: “ You change, or you pay more for staying the same.”

Boy, did he have that right.

Just before they stopped making typewriters ( a fine tradition for @ 110 years) they got it exactly right. They began making true Universal typewriter ribbon spools—ones that fit almost every typewriter made after about 1920. They had two sets of perforations in the tops and bottoms of the spools, one side or the other fit the projections in the spool-carriers of almost anything. The ribbons were all-black cotton, and when you’d use them so long the ink was fading, you turned the spools upside down and used the part of the ribbon that had only been used when you pushed the “shift” key heretofore. If that didn’t work, you unspooled the ribbon, turned it over and respooled it to get at the new ink. With an all-black ribbon you got twice the usefulness.

They cost @ $2.89 in 1977 money.

But wait—when typewriters started getting scarce, the namby-pambies who didn’t want to ever see what was in a typewriter, demanded of the office suppliers they wanted Universal correcting typewriter ribbons; so for a while all you could find were half-white/ half-black ribbons that fit all typewriters. ( I cried out “ That’s what White-Out was made for! You effete snobs!”—but no one listened.) Or, horror of horrors, half black/half red, useless for a writer.

It was bad enough getting a half-correcting/ half-black ribbon when they first came out ( you were getting half the useful ribbon for a higher price, than formerly when they were still made of cotton. About ten years ago they changed them to nylon.)

That would have been a semi-viable alternative EXCEPT the ribbons tended to split and separate, jamming up in the ribbon guides sometimes, but most often being torn apart and jamming right in the business part where the keys strike.

Enough, enough I said. I went looking for something I could use.

I had spare sets of Universal spools—when even the second side of the ribbon became faint, I’d disconnect one of the spools, put the spool with the ribbon on it back in the box and writer –Used,  6/99 –or whatever on it, so I’d know how old it was.

(Many a time, finishing some mss on a deadline, I’d have to dig an old used ribbon out and finish the last three pages or so of a story—it was sharper and clearer than the ribbon that had just died on me while pounding out “ The Wolf-Man of Alcatraz” or “ The Bravest Girl I Ever Knew”—in fact, nearly all the xeroxes of my mss lately are sharper and clearer than the original typescripts.)

I found that OkiData, who still made ribbons for its printing calculators, used an all-black cotton ribbon for them, and that Carters—who were the people who had invented the Universal ribbon spools, were still making the replacements.

You guessed it: I bought the OkiData 62 Carters spools, unwound them and respooled them on the universal spools, a messy process, but one that left me with a ribbon that could be used twice, like in the old days. They cost, in the 90s, about $4.00 a ribbon, and they were about 15’ shorter than the typewriter ribbons had been.

Now, once again, there are so many Luddites still with typewriters, their voices have been heard, Carters is now making once again an all-black ribbon ( nylon now) on a Universal spool ( the kind men like!) They cost $5.95 @, or more than double what you paid in the 1970s for a better product.

But it is a lot easier than unspooling calculator ribbons on a cold winter’s night, and having to wash your hands in Go-Jo five times afterwards….

Next time : Pens!

Howard Waldrop



BLOG LIKE ME # 5: Christmas EVERY Thursday

Tue 25 Sep 2007 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Howard Waldrop

I once used to live in Austin, City Of. Now I live in Austin, City Of, but in the part of Williamson County that sticks a little finger of tax-grab down into Austin. ( The rest of Austin is in Travis County, the way God ((and Democrats)) intended it.)

What this has to do with anything: Twice a year, usually April and October, but it rotated, Austin Solid Waste Services sent out an announcement to you U.S. Mail: the week of, say, April 13th will be Big Trash Day in your neighborhood. In other words, pretty much anything you could get to the curb, they had to take. There were rules; no broken glass, no nails in lumber, no demolition trash; don’t put anything near the mailbox or over the water meter; separate wood, metal and rubber—up to eight car tires at a time. Don’t put anything against a fence, blocking an alley, or under a low tree ( they have a flatbed truck with a big grappling device to pick stuff up on a long arm and put it in a regular garbage truck and they need, in the words of Larry Storch in The Great Race, “ some fightin’ room.” )

They also had Big Brush Day, another twice-a-year—yard waste; all the limbs that broke off during the last windstorm etc.—but that doesn’t concern us here.)

Through the years, on Big Trash Day, or the weekend leading up to when it starts on a Monday—I’d gotten several swell bookcases, stands, chairs, small tables etc. Absolutely nothing wrong with them except someone got tired of them, or they clashed with the new couch or something.
In South Austin ( and, I’m told, in Japan where they have Big Trash Day once a month, and the places are so small that if you buy anything new, you have to throw something out ) scrounging and scavenging is de rigeur. In the run-up to B.T.D., there anything swell put out at twilight is gone before dawn. Less nice but still servicable stuff may last right up until the grapple-truck turns the corner, but probably not. Every pile tends to get smaller; my guess is in S. Austin, the solid-waste people end up with about 60% of what was put out for them…

The last month I lived in South Austin, Doug Potter, who knew I was looking for a TV stand, called me—it was B.T.D. coming up in the next neighborhood and on his jog he’d seen a likely-looking pile with part of an entertainment center sticking out of the middle of it. I drove over in my ‘85 Toyota Tercel Wagon full of tools.

Skeptical HowardWell, that pile turned out to be a dud ( as many do) but the next one over was a goldmine—there was a pie-shaped formica-topped built-in corner desk that had once been part of a run of built-in cabinets. ( I may have mentioned this in reference to the tractor-desk I’d made, last time.) I could tell it had been custom-built judging from the style, in the 1950s, because the formica had been put on after the top had been nailed into the run of cabinets—over the nails.

Long story short: it didn’t work out as a desk ( balance problems after I put legs on it) but it’s now the yellow, half-moon shaped headboard of the bed in the new house, and a damned fine one, if I do say so myself.

This is high-tone suburban North Austin. Scrounging is not the Life Style. The great new is , every trash day is Big Trash Day. We’re on Round Rock ( the town that killed Sam Bass ) Refuse, and anything you get to the curb, they take. Every Thursday! Last week, at dawn, I went two blocks up the street, afoot, to see what was out. There, in three pieces, leaning up against a garbage can, was an, at least, 100 year old solid oak desk. I picked up the 3 ½’ x 5’ top (covered with hard rubber of the kind they haven’t used on desks in at least 80 years). It weighed around 150 lbs. I put it on my foot and pissanted it 2 blocks back to the house. I took the car back. The two side pedestals, filled with drawers, were too big to fit in the wagon without reconfiguring it completely, and the garbage truck was coming. So I took all seven 18” x 36” drawers, including one double-file drawer ( all solid oak) which I’m using now for files. The top and the other 6 drawers are out in the garage, awaiting my liesure attention.

Today, just before the first rain squalls from Tropical Depression Erin hit, I drove around the neighborhoods. A block down, in perfect condition, was a 40-yr–old Disney Hunny Jar Winnie-The-Pooh lamp with an illustrated E.H. Shepard shade, sitting on top of a garbage can. I brought it home, tried it out ( it needed a new $2.00 pushbutton socket, which had been replaced once already, as the socket didn’t have an Underwriter’s knot on the wiring) and found the sticker from the high-tone store it was bought at—$78.99.

I advise you all to check whether Your Town, USA has a Big Trash Day, or if it’s like Round Rock Refuse, every week.

Just because it’s out with the rest of the garbage doesn’t mean it’s trash….

Howard Waldrop



Tue 18 Sep 2007 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | 2 Comments| Posted by: Gavin

Where did Howard’s blog go?

While we were in Japan Howard mailed us some more “posts”. So now they go off to our wonderful volunteer and next week or so they will start again with “Christmas Every Thursday.”



Tue 18 Sep 2007 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Where did Howard’s blog go?

While we were in Japan Howard mailed us some more “posts”. So now they go off to our wonderful volunteer and next week or so they will start again with “Christmas Every Thursday.”



Blog Like Me: 1. Your (Manifest Destinies) Miss You

Tue 31 Jul 2007 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | 11 Comments| Posted by: Howard Waldrop

Skeptical HowardI hope you’ve noticed the symbolic recapitulation of American history on TV and in print ads lately. I’m talking about the Rozerem and the Alamo commercials. In the first (“your dreams miss you”), there’s Abraham Lincoln (in top hat and beard), an either stop- (or replacement-) motion or CGI to-look-like either process- animated beaver who talks, plus a guy in an old-fashioned diving suit (in the one set in the kitchen, he’s making pancakes) —anyway there’s this guy who’s not sleeping (no sleep = no dreams), Lincoln and the beaver are trying to get him to take Rozerem, a sleep-inducer (no side-effects, unlike the publicized troubles of Ambien CR, where you drive down to Apu’s Kwik-E-Mart while you’re sound asleep, or cook a 7-course meal at home, ditto—Rozerem supposedly has no side effecrs and is not habit-forming).

The Alamo car rental ads are a CGI’d buffalo and a beaver (with its tail doubled up and tucked in its Bermuda shorts) having trouble with the car-rental machines at the airport while trying to, in the old Fifties’ slogan, See American First.

You’ll notice there’s a beaver in both ads, the animal more responsible even than the buffalo for the settlement of the US from sea to shining sea.

You’ll also notice Lincoln is wearing a stovepipe (“beaver”) hat. It’s all surrealistically related.

In the 1820s, the European beaver (Castor fiber) had been hunted almost to extinction, about the time plug and stovepipe hats became popular.

The Louisiana Purchase had pretty much lain there since Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery to find what was out there. Mainly, Native Americans, a couple of trading posts, and the British and Russians out on the Pacific coast; to the South the Spanish (by the 1830s, Mexicans) in between. There were still a few Frenchmen out there, the same kind of malcontents as the Anglos who would later be attracted there.

The beaver changed all that: suddenly there was a rage for the pelts and skins of the (European) beaver that the American beaver (Castor canadensis) could fill. So we quickly got the Anglo mountain men out there on the headwaters of the Missouri and the Arkansas and over on the Columbia. Sterling types like Big Foot Wallace and Liver-Eater Johnson, running their traplines in pursuit of Castor canadensis and anything else with hair on it.

So we had a thin homespun-and-buckskin line stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific for the first time. Westward the course of Empire began to wend its way.

And along with everything else that was wrong with it (slavery, genocide and removal of Native Americans, some of whom lived in brick houses and owned slaves) the USA began to look at those lands being stubbornly claimed by a bunch of greasers . . . and of course, religion got thrown into the mix, and the Mormons pushed their handcarts to Deseret (which even the Native Americans didn’t want) and in 1846 there was the splendid cause of the Texas-Mexico boundary to go to war with Mexico over (the Republic of Texas had dissolved and entered the Union as a state in 1845. Later, Sam Houston was a unionist during the Civil War—“I worked too hard to get this damned state into the Union to see it leave”—and he flew the Union flag over his house til he died in 1862. As someone said, “You go tell Sam Houston,”—the only man to be governor in his lifetime of two states, the President of a sovereign Republic and leader of a Revolution—“to take down that flag.”)

And two years later, in 1848, we owned everything from sea to sea, except the lumpy parts of Arizona and New Mexico that we bought a few years later as the Gadsden Purchase.

Then we got busy killing each other in Kansas and Harper’s Ferry and then Sumter and the Civil War (“The War for Southern Independence” if you’re from the South.)

What about the guy in the diving suit in the Rozerem ad? After the Civil War and the croaking of Lincoln in his beaver hat (it was in his lap when he was fleetingly introduced to Mr. Booth that night), anyway, a couple of years after Lincoln’s death, we bought Alaska (completing our continental Rendezvous with Density, as Back to the Future has it) and we drove the Golden Spike on the Transcontinental Railroad linking the Union and the Pacific and we laid the Transatlantic Cable to Europe, putting us in contact with the rest of the world.

One of the advantages of the railroad was that you could shoot buffalo from the parlor car (since the railroads bisected the migration routes of the Northern and Southern herds of the Plains buffalo) and collect only their tongues to eat, and leave the carcasses to rot, so the Native Americans, instead of starving, would have to move onto the reservations and be given diseased, scrawny beef by the Great White Father in Washington (and his corrupt buddies and brothers). Hence the Alamo ads, with the beaver (alpha) and buffalo (omega) of Westward-immigrant-sucking wildlife resources.

I’m not sure all this occurred to the people behind the ads (I’d like to think it did). I think the Rozerem people were looking for some home-grown Surrealism: Lincoln, beaver, diver. And the Alamo people: two species of Western wildlife (see America first, before we’re gone).

If you think I’m wrong, consider this: the last US President to wear a hat to his inaugural was John F. Kennedy. It was a stovepipe (“beaver”) hat—probably silk in his case, and probably referred to as an “opera” hat. Anyway, it was there that he gave his “New Frontier” speech.

Coincidence or what?

Howard Waldrop



Blog Like Me: Howard Waldrop

Mon 30 Jul 2007 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Howard Waldrop

Skeptical HowardStarting Tuesday we’re going to have a somewhat regular column-y/blog-y thing from that Master of the Typewriter, Howard Waldrop. Howard (author of tons of wonderful short stories, some of which can be found in Howard Who?) will type them out, mail them to us, someone here (or elsewhere, thanks Cindy!) will type them out, and we will try and post them once a week or so. Until one of us drops the ball.

Titled Blog Like Me, Howard will be writing on anything he damn well pleases. The first one, up tomorrow, is “Your (Manifest Destinies) Miss You” and is about recent TV ads, beavers, and the Louisiana Purchase, all tied together in that inimitable Waldropian manner.



Mon 26 Mar 2007 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Last Wednesday some of us here trundled down the glorious winter roads to New York to the KGB Bar to see Carol Emshwiller and David Louis Edelman read. Both readers were worth getting the matched pair out and the (somewhat long) curricle ride. And is there anything more beautiful than the rural fields of Stamford and the rolling hills of New Haven on the approach to the glittering metropolis of New York?

However, despite the lovely readings and the feast following the reading, we left with something unexpected: a “Devil Bug of Doom” (copyright Gwenda Bond) which had us shaking like Elvis for a couple of days. Or maybe just Shakin’ Stevens.

Things You the Reader Could Do*:

Send us the new Adobe Creative Suite…? MacRumors says the pricing will be released tomorrow — which is far enough ahead of the software packages’ ship dates (which run April to June) for us to get over the sticker shock. We are using new (for us, maybe 6 months old now) MacBooks (tiny, cute computers!) and PhotoShop and InDesign run a bit slow so these upgrades are much anticipated. The Design package is what we’re looking at:

CS3 Design Premium (up) $1799.95
CS3 Design Standard $1199.95

…although we might be able to get an upgrade from PhotoShop 7 for only $900. So, Johnny, you know how we promised to take you to DissMeLand for your birthday this year? Small Beer says, Sorry Kid, maybe next year, maybe never. Don’t cry kid. Aw.

* If you were perhaps either stuck in traffic for 36 hours and bored out your head. Or just a little more than tipsy. Or a crazy stalker**. Or just wealthy. Or just plain crazy.

** We don’t have any of these, yay!

In other news:

  • John Crowley’s Endless Things received one of its first big reviews in Book Forum: “With Endless Things and the completion of the Ægypt cycle, Crowley has constructed one of the finest, most welcoming tales contemporary fiction has to offer us.”
  • Liz Hand (whose novel is will shipped from the printer next week) is part of a new group blog, the inferior 4 +1.
  • Matt Cheney posted the contents for the first Best American Fantasy anthology which includes Kelly’s “Origin Story” from A Public Space, Liz Hand’s “The Saffron Gatherer”, as well as a ton of other great stories.
  • Happy to see that Michael Dirda’s Washington Post piece was run by the Austin American Stateman this weekend.
  • Did Scotland actually win at football? Reports say the final score in some kind of European tourney was Scotland 2, Georgia 1. But we were in Georgia recently, in Atlanta, and while the accents were strong, they did not seem to be Europeans (and I could have sworn we drove, so how did we cross the water?). Scotland play Italy on Wednesday. You never know. Unless you’re a Scotland fan.


Mon 26 Mar 2007 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , , , | 4 Comments| Posted by: Gavin

Last Wednesday some of us here trundled down the glorious winter roads to New York to the KGB Bar to see Carol Emshwiller and David Louis Edelman read. Both readers were worth getting the matched pair out and the (somewhat long) curricle ride. And is there anything more beautiful than the rural fields of Stamford and the rolling hills of New Haven on the approach to the glittering metropolis of New York?

However, despite the lovely readings and the feast following the reading, we left with something unexpected: a “Devil Bug of Doom” (copyright Gwenda Bond) which had us shaking like Elvis for a couple of days. Or maybe just Shakin’ Stevens.

Things You the Reader Could Do*:

Send us the new Adobe Creative Suite…? MacRumors says the pricing will be released tomorrow — which is far enough ahead of the software packages’ ship dates (which run April to June) for us to get over the sticker shock. We are using new (for us, maybe 6 months old now) MacBooks (tiny, cute computers!) and PhotoShop and InDesign run a bit slow so these upgrades are much anticipated. The Design package is what we’re looking at:

CS3 Design Premium (up) $1799.95
CS3 Design Standard $1199.95

…although we might be able to get an upgrade from PhotoShop 7 for only $900. So, Johnny, you know how we promised to take you to DissMeLand for your birthday this year? Small Beer says, Sorry Kid, maybe next year, maybe never. Don’t cry kid. Aw.

* If you were perhaps either stuck in traffic for 36 hours and bored out your head. Or just a little more than tipsy. Or a crazy stalker**. Or just wealthy. Or just plain crazy.

** We don’t have any of these, yay!

In other news:

  • John Crowley’s Endless Things received one of its first big reviews in Book Forum: “With Endless Things and the completion of the Ægypt cycle, Crowley has constructed one of the finest, most welcoming tales contemporary fiction has to offer us.”
  • Liz Hand (whose novel is will shipped from the printer next week) is part of a new group blog, the inferior 4 +1.
  • Matt Cheney posted the contents for the first Best American Fantasy anthology which includes Kelly’s “Origin Story” from A Public Space, Liz Hand’s “The Saffron Gatherer”, as well as a ton of other great stories.
  • Happy to see that Michael Dirda’s Washington Post piece was run by the Austin American Stateman this weekend.
  • Did Scotland actually win at football? Reports say the final score in some kind of European tourney was Scotland 2, Georgia 1. But we were in Georgia recently, in Atlanta, and while the accents were strong, they did not seem to be Europeans (and I could have sworn we drove, so how did we cross the water?). Scotland play Italy on Wednesday. You never know. Unless you’re a Scotland fan.


Howard Who?

Sun 18 Mar 2007 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | 1 Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Howard Who?Michael Dirda acquires many cultural brownie points for pointing people toward our favorite iconoclast Howard Waldrop in his Washington Post review of the new Old Earth Books collection THINGS WILL NEVER BE THE SAME: Selected Short Fiction, 1980 – 2005. He also mentions Howard Who?, signed copies of which are available etc. etc.

The books went shooting up the charts at Amazon.com (have there ever been 2 Waldrop collections in the top 1,000? Things Will Never Be… was at #330 recently and Howard Who? at 1,269. Excellent, excellent. Since Howard is a guy who literally lives off his writing and he mostly writes short fiction, we’ve got to find this man some readers.

Writers are invited to write up wondering pieces on Howard for all the writing mags and living sections of the weekend newspapers about: how to live on short story income; how to do research (when you don’t use Google); fishing; cartoons and how they show the nation’s true spirit.

To get the full effect, writers should interview Waldrop (by phone, letter, or in person—he really doesn’t do the email thing as such) and help the world discover him before he dies and it’s left to Library of America to collect all his books in one fat volume and give him the he’s a weird writer but he’s dead so it’s ok to read him stamp.

Updated: So close! Things Will Never Be… now at #314 recently and Howard Who? at 1,045. Have to run off so please keep an eye on them and tell us if they goes higher.



Signed Waldrops; Suggestion Plea

Tue 21 Nov 2006 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , | 1 Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Howard Who?During a brief sidetrip to Texas (where a bunch of plausible fabulists were gathered and wondering where a certain Mr. B. Rosenbaum was {Swizzerland, it seems}), we asked a boon of Mr. Howard Waldrop. He consented (when approached with ice cream and beer: Texans!) to apply his signature to his book. Huzzah, we announced, to the surprised gila monsters everywhere. Huzzah.

Then we returned to Gueros again. For: verily, the tacos are unbeatable. Also, Las Manitas. Oh, the joy that was in our hearts, even as it was enspicened by the knowledge that we would have to leave this city of joyous eats and head away, away.

Even Joe’s Cafe was a place of wonders in this time of joy. (Joy especial as the fabulist gathering was on the edge of the City of Great Foods so to be in the center was akin to being the chocolaty center of a bon bon.) There, and a few other places, we were able to speak with Mr. N-B (interviewed here) whom, should you get the opportunity to see him read, you should take as he is, really, quite wonnerful.

Eventually retured to the Small Beer HQ and enstrengthened by our collection of Waldropian Signatures (for he is Mighty with his pen or typewriter), we are making these books, this debut collection, Howard Who? which is its name, available for sale.

Lo, it is done.

Other titles we have signed copies of: many. Move thy clickity thingy over here to see. (Kelly Link, Ellen Kushner, Alan DeNiro, Carol Emshwiller).

Now your turn: Please send us Suggestions for what kind of sale we should put on this year. Suggestions welcome by email or in the comments below.

Other tiny updates: everywhere on our site. Because the paper in the office it overwhelming, of course.

Alan is reading at the Erie Bookstore on Dec. 30th at 2 PM. Drop by and see him!

Added links to a couple more audio recordings (almost like podcasts!) of Kelly (or readers reading Kelly’s stories) here — includes a Real Audio (oh well) file from November 2005 from Prairiie Lights where she read “Monster.”

Kelly also got a nice mention in this piece about short stories by Kevin Sampsell (micro emperor!).



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