Monday, September 17, 2018

rather busy day

The planning started out with my intention to attend a free Sunday afternoon chamber concert at San Francisco State, because the Alexander and Telegraph Quartets would be collaborating in the Mendelssohn Octet, a work I miss no reasonable opportunity to hear.

Then I noticed that the evening's concert over at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley would be the Tannahill Weavers, a Scottish folk band I remember fondly from my serious folk-record listening days in the 70s.

To which I added the Eat Real food fest in Oakland's Jack London Square around noon, which had intrigued me but had not seemed worth the bother of getting up there by itself.

Could I attend all of these by public transit, driving only to and from the BART line at the start and end of the journey? I could and did. Much web research was involved in making sure it was feasible and learning the necessary bus routes, and the inter-system transit card was essential for covering the large and complex fares. Only the schedule timings proved to be more aspirational than real. It came out like this:

Travel. Car across the Bay to BART. BART to downtown Oakland. Bus down to Jack London Square on the waterfront, about 3/4 of a mile but longer than I care to walk these days. Arrived just before opening, early enough to get in a popular food booth line before it became very long.

Food. There I bought a small bowl of paella (whose main veggie was chard instead of the usual peas, much more to my taste), dished from vast simmering skillets about five feet in diameter, following it up down the way with some Japanese fried chicken, crispy tenders dolloped with spicy bbq sauce, and finishing up with an artisanal watermelon-and-pineapple popsicle.

Travel. Bus back to downtown. BART to Daly City. Search for bus stop, which is always on the other side of the station from where you start looking. Bus to SF State. Walk down through campus to the Creative Arts Building.

Music. The Mendelssohn Octet, led by the Alexander's Zakarias Grafilo, was businesslike in its first movement. The finale, usually brusque and heavy, was as light and airy as the scherzo. I liked that. McKenna Theatre's absurdly dry, almost coarse, acoustics served the inner voices of the Octet well, but was far less appealing in the Alexander's Mozart K. 428. They also played the Penderecki Third, a sort of anthology of modernistic techniques that I did my best to nap through, since I didn't have to review it.

Travel. Rush back up the hill to the trolley stop, catch a trolley leaving just then, 5 minutes before schedule (and the display said the next wouldn't be for 20 minutes instead of the scheduled 12-minute intervals). Transfer to BART line. Transfer to other BART line, both also off schedule. Arrive in Berkeley just in time to grab a quick frank from Top Dog before walking down the street and around the corner to the Freight.

Music. Four varyingly venerable guys take the stage, the Tannahill Weavers. Not even every Scottish folk band includes the Highland bagpipes, but this one does. I like that. Also fiddle, flute, and guitar, occasionally varied with bodhran and tinwhistle. Lots of fast jigs and marches, lots of songs in impenetrable Scots, lots of cracks between songs from the band leader. ("If you don't like the album, mail it back to us, and we'll send you something we don't like.")

Travel. Straight run on BART back to where I parked is quiet until we reach the Oakland Coliseum, which has just come to the end of what I later find was a hip-hop festival. Previously nearly empty car is suddenly packed with people, mostly white, mostly young, mostly loud, some of them smoking, which you're not supposed to do on BART. The seat next to me is occupied by three young women. Three. One on the seat, one on her lap, one on hers. I ask them not to fall over on me, which on BART is not an idle request. They're good, and they let me out at my stop.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

making more music lists

The New York Times got 18 responses from professional musicians and critics to "5 Minutes That Will Make You Love Classical Music". True enough, as Lisa Irontongue has pointed out, that there's no excuse, out of such a group of 18, for only 4 to be women. I'm curious about the premise of the choices: most of the listeners chose pieces that had socked them personally, rather than the more dreary answers of what they thought might most appeal to hoi polloi. (You can see the latter in the comments, which are full of suggestions for Romantic schmaltz. Good pieces, mostly, but boringly obvious as choices for a list.)

These answers were, for the most part, more interesting. Two of the four living composers were unknown to me, but otherwise I was familiar with all the composers, though not necessarily well with the individual pieces. However, the Ravel song and the selection from Der Rosenkavalier are the only pieces I didn't care for (I like these composers, but not these particular works), and some - the Beethoven, the Janacek, Reich's Tehillim - are long-time favorites of mine.

But what would I have chosen? Hmmm, tough. If, like Anthony Tommasini, I went for what thrilled me at age 12, I'd have to name the work that initially sold me on the heavy classics, the ultra-basic choice of the first movement of Beethoven's Fifth. If you've never heard it, which at the time I hadn't, it's a real stunner, and the challenge for a performance today is to try to re-capture a little of that.

But I'm more attracted by Michael Cooper's idea of picking a work that suited one's melancholia in college. Sure, his pick of the Beethoven Seventh allegretto is a good one, and I love that music, but the particular sad music that most kept my sore heart company in those days was the Andantino from Sibelius's Third.


But if I want something that truly thrills me, my choice would have to be the coda from the first movement of Bruckner's Sixth. I don't know how well this works without knowledge of the build-up (you can listen to the whole symphony if you want), but the coda goes like this:


Turning abruptly from music I know to music I don't, there's John Scalzi's list of 20 songs he's enjoyed from the last 20 years. Folks, I'd never heard any of these performances before. I was even familiar with the names of only 4 of the 20 performers, and I didn't know much about them. My brief listening-to-popular-music days ended more than 20 years ago, and while I'm quite aware that good songs have been released since then, apart from a few performers I have a particular fondness for, I just haven't bothered to seek them out. But I listened to these, or began to: those which began or quickly moved into aggressive distortion or feedback I turned off quickly. Even if they were good, and one or two of those were, I can't abide listening to an entire song like that.

The ones I liked were quieter, and the ones I liked best were those that reminded me of other performers I liked. I liked "Cut Your Teeth" by Kyla La Grange because it sounded rather like Tori Amos. I liked "On the Radio" by Regina Spektor because, even though her singing style is very different, after some cogitation I realized that the distinctive instrumentals reminded me of Enya, particularly "Wild Child". I also particularly enjoyed listening to "Something That You Said" by the Bangles (surprise! a group I'd heard of, though only because they were prominent rather more than 20 years ago) and "Won't Give In" by the Finn Brothers. Though I don't think I would have rushed out to buy a recording of any of these even in my most pop-listening days.

The last item on Scalzi's list is a ringer: Petra Haden's cover of "God Only Knows" by the Beach Boys. God only knows that this is much, much better than the original – I know this is heresy, but I hold that the Beach Boys could not sing worth a damn. But if Scalzi wants a slam-dunk stunner of a recent cover of a classic 1960s song - and I left a comment telling him so - nothing is going to out-do in power or impact this.

Friday, September 14, 2018

phony call

I was napping, and having a dream in which I was talking on the phone, when my sleep was interrupted by the phone ringing. After a brief moment of cognitive dissonance over this incongruity, I hopped up and found it was some sort of solicitation call for my mother. (Polite, too: the guy just asked for her by name, instead of opening with "How are you today?" which always makes me want to respond, and sometimes actually respond, with, "Wondering who you are and why you're telephoning me.")

That would be my mother who died several years ago, so I informed the man of this and he went away. Possibly not to return, but she does still get calls like this occasionally. She also still gets occasional junk mail, which by this point I just toss. She never lived with us; the reason the mail comes here is because I filed a postal change-of-address for her when we closed her apartment, and apparently advertisers are very good at picking this stuff up, including associated phone numbers.

Possibly I should have marked the CoA form "deceased" instead, but I wanted to get the mail because I didn't know what might be in it. I probably missed much because of a strange glitch. I filed the CoA about a week before we closed the apartment, with that as the starting date, but the clerk told me that CoAs have to filed two weeks before the starting date. I said, "Oh: in that case just start it as soon as you can." When no mail came, I figured the advertisers had already picked up that she was dead, but no: the PO had filed the CoA to begin at the designated starting date one year later, and for a while we got floods. What happened to all the mail that must have come in the meantime I have no idea.

The groups she actually regularly did business with I'd long since communicated with; this mail was mostly mail-order catalogs and contribution solicitations. With most of the latter, the best way of reaching them was via websites, and the most clearcut way of sending a message was usually filling out some CoA form there. I'd put her name in and then fill the word DECEASED in all the other new info fields, in hopes they'd get the message. The most hilarious part was when the form would bounce because the e-mail address wasn't in the correct format. So I'd change that from DECEASED to DECEASED@DECEASED.DECEASED, and it would always go through.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

fricking file formats

Finishing up a stage of work on the library catalog at my job, I prepared a report file of problem records. No problem, I thought: I'd done this before when I created the entire shelf list for the inventory. I set up the parameters in the catalog, generated the file, and saved it to a thumb drive.

Only difference was, the shelf list I had taken to FedEx and printed out. This file was to be e-mailed to the library people who'd need it. So I wasn't worried that the file format was PRNX, which I'd never heard of: I figured my computer could deal with it.

It couldn't. No program I had or could find could read it, and while Googling for "convert .prnx to .pdf" produced a lot of results revealing that PRNX was some sort of proprietary print format, none of the results whose titles said they'd show you how to convert actually did. Not one. I know, you don't believe me. But here, for instance, is one whose Google results title was "PRNX File - How to open or convert PRNX files". Can you see from here how to open or convert them? I sure can't.

So, I thought, I know from previous experience that at least the FedEx printer can print them. I'll print it out and then use their scanner to scan it as a PDF. I've had to do weirder things than that.

But it couldn't. The FedEx printer didn't recognize the format.

Phone the catalog program vendor. Learn that instead of using the "Save As" command near the left of the tool bar I should have used the "Export" command near the right of the tool bar. That's the one that creates PDFs. Obviously I'd gotten it right when I made the shelf list, but had completely forgotten about it in the two months since then. Gently suggest to the vendor that this is not intuitive. This hadn't occurred to them. Sigh.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

sf novel review

Which I've so headed because I don't read too many of those these days, but I liked this one.

The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi (Tor, 2017)

This is the other book I had electronically - it came in the Hugo voters packet from earlier this year, though I didn't read (or vote) on anything in it at the time - that I turned to when the MythSoc discussion book bogged down on me. Being wrapped up in the plot of this one kept me occupied during the lonely hours in my hotel room in San Diego, and it was both engrossing - a rare quality in SF these days - and not too long - an almost equally rare quality.

Reviews of this book have, more than once, compared it to Game of Thrones and Dune. Those are not what I'm reminded of. Yes, it's about high-level politics, but the intrigue is of a different flavor, until just before the end it doesn't get too convoluted, it has neither the bloodthirstiness of Martin nor the bizarre mind-games of Herbert, and above all it differs from both in being neither overlong nor tedious.

Instead, what it reminds me of - almost uncannily so, and more so than any other subsequent work I've ever read - is Asimov's Foundation trilogy, especially its first book. And since the Foundation trilogy is the work I was weaned on as an sf reader, I'm primed to like such a work. But in style, it's updated to a 2010s kind of sprightliness, instead of the now-dated 1940s sprightliness of the Asimov. Since Scalzi has been generally touted as a later-day Heinlein, and I vastly prefer Asimov to Heinlein, I consider this a plus.

The similarities with Foundation are impressive. There's a far-future all-human interstellar empire - check - from which Earth has been lost and largely forgotten - check - with a medieval/Renaissance imperial hierarchy imposed on top - check. The empire is threatened with collapse - see the title; check - and a lone scientist is a voice in the wilderness warning of the danger - check. There's a religion imposed on the system - check - which is largely actually a fraud - check. The plot is largely political machinations at a high level - check - with a minimum of violence - check - and a maximum of clever people outwitting each other - check - but without mind games and a minimum of the Arlington Road trick (where you know exactly how your opponent will respond to a stimulus you've deliberately made subtle and obscure so they won't figure out they're being manipulated) - check. And the novel ends exactly the way the first Foundation story ends, with the protagonist having a brilliant brainstorm which isn't revealed to the reader, but it doesn't feel like a cliffhanger because the rest of the plot threads are pretty much wrapped up.

There are some differences. Most notable is the cause of the imperial collapse. In Foundation it was political/sociological. Here it's ecological: the hyperspace-like environment which makes interstellar travel feasible and the empire possible is breaking down, and the inhabited planets are not self-sufficient. Parallels to climate change are obvious, especially in the reactions which include heated denial of the "if we sweep it under the carpet it'll go away" sort, and acknowledgment that it's true combined with delusion that it won't be so bad. But there's no solution offered in this book, and the political situation is different enough that I doubt we'll learn anything useful from the sequel. Any equivalent to the actual Foundation in the Foundation trilogy has yet to be introduced; that's another big difference. The one false note in this story was the protagonist feeling strangely exhilarated by the challenge of dealing with this. This reaction ought to have been drowned out by deep existential despair, though that would have made for less fun of a story.

Though two of the later big stories in the Foundation trilogy were notable in their day for strong female protagonists, it's otherwise a very male series. This book, though, is full of female major characters, though with one major exception they don't feel very female to me. This raises the question, "So what do you expect a female character to be like?" which is a fair question, but I think the best even of male authors can create women who seem like women without loading them down with female stereotypes.

Scalzi's snarky dialogue style, which I enjoyed in Agent to the Stars where it was appropriate, but which was part of what caused me to bounce off the other three subsequent novels by him I've tried to read, seems under control here. It's less relentless, and it's light and appropriate rather than heavy. I had trouble with a couple of the names, though. The Empire is ruled by an Emperox, which I guess is a made up word to avoid having to alternate between Emperor and Empress. I found myself ignoring the "x" and reading the title as Emperor, despite its holder for most of the book being female. The antagonists are a family named Nohamapetan. I quickly gave up on trying to pronounce this, even in my head, and decided to render it mentally as "Northampton", which gives a pleasing Old Imperial British touch to the story.

The plot zipped along, and just as it started to become too heavy and ornate - a second terrorist attack with mass casualties intended to assassinate the Emperor, I mean -ox? One was more than enough - the book ended. Which leaves me less than whetted for the sequel, The Consuming Fire, which comes out next month, but I'll give it a shot and see if Scalzi can hook me again.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

events

1. Last weekend I heard the medieval/Renaissance/folk band Brocelïande in a house concert not far away. It was a while since I'd heard them and the first time ever at a house concert. Usually when I've been to house concerts, they've been classical or filk and thus usually inside (the former because they usually feature piano, which is not an outdoors instrument, and the latter because filkers are not generally outdoors people). But this was outdoors, in a small backyard tiled patio with 50 chairs set up facing a tented stage area. I'd heard about this from Brocelïande's mailing list, but apparently this house frequently hosts folk concerts. I didn't know anyone else there except the performers, but the folk were friendly, and the band played four of their Tolkien settings, which they don't often do these days unless asked.

2. Yesterday I walked over to our neighborhood park for an announced event: the city arborist was giving a tree walk: a walk around the park describing the quite wide variety of trees planted there: ash, pine, oak, cedar, maple, birch, plum, all of various species, and one called a strawberry tree whose fruit (round, red, and covered in tiny quills) isn't a strawberry but is edible, so we tried some. I learned a lot, not just about botany but about an arborist's view of his demesne: the shifting in and out of trees, as different species go in and out of fashion or prove to be or not to be suitable for the climate or susceptible to disease; the constant search for trees whose root systems won't push up nearby pavement. (It's not the tree's fault, he repeatedly said, as trees just do what they do: it's the fault of whoever put the tree and sidewalk in too close proximity.)

3. And today, Mythopoeic book meeting to discuss The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty, an Arabic-influenced fantasy that some liked extravagantly and others found rather dull. I only got about two chapters into it myself.

4. In broader news, we're grieved to learn that all the outlets of Orchard Supply Hardware, a local chain we've long relied upon, are soon to close. It had been bought by Lowe's, a larger chain which eventually decided not to maintain it. I hope at least some of the locations will be converted, as there's no Lowe's conveniently nearby. Lowe's tends to be a warehouse which carries much but where it's hard to find what you're looking for and, unlike at OSH, there's rarely anyone who can help you very much.

5. Tesla is also local news, since their plant is nearby. The various cavortings of Elon Musk are beginning to remind me of Steve Jobs in the period before he was removed from Apple in 1985. Neither has or had the maturity for the positions of responsibility they held or sought. Jobs needed his testing period in the wilderness before he emerged as the great capitalist of his second act at Apple; what's to become of Musk I can't guess.

6. Slightly further off geographically, but relevant to me as I drive up I-5 to Oregon frequently, is another fire that's closing the freeway. Unlike the previous one a month or so ago, which could be gotten around fairly easily, this one is in a spot without convenient detours. I'm glad I'm not going up there this week, and I fear that checking for fire-related travel advisories is going to be a regular summer thing from here on.

7. And now ... it's Rosh Hashanah. See you on the flip side.

Friday, September 7, 2018

San Diego is a peculiar place

I flew there for a quick business trip. I'm working on programming for next year's Mythcon which will be there, and went down so that I and the chair, who's local, could meet with various sites' conference and sales managers and tour their facilities. We learned a lot and made some firm provisional decisions. Logistics comes next, and we should be able to make a site and date announcement within a few weeks.

Some of our sites are on the trolley line, and so was the hotel I was staying at, so I volunteered to be the guinea pig for getting there from the airport. It turned out to be pretty easy, except that there's no signage for the transfer between the from-airport shuttle bus and the downtown trolley station, so it's tough for a stranger to figure out where to walk.

Odd things about the trolley:
*Senior fares start at age 60. Who does that? Not that I'm complaining.
*The trolley doesn't go "clang, clang, clang," it goes "buzz."
*The trolley lines are named for colors, but they don't mean anything. I rode the Green line. The cars on it are red. I did see some green cars, but they were on another line.
*Some of the lines also have sponsors. There is the "UC San Diego Blue Line." This runs from downtown to San Ysidro, which is the Mexican border station. UC San Diego itself is up way north of downtown, nowhere near the Blue line. You don't think this might be confusing?
*The recorded station announcements on the train are in English, immediately followed by the same in Spanish, except that the station names are pronounced as in English, even if they're Spanish words.
*There is only one underground station on the system. Unlike BART, which has lots of underground stations, they haven't figured out how to turn the lights on. It was like a dungeon in there.

I stayed at a generic business hotel, odd only in an elevator call system new to me. Instead of call buttons, there's a touchscreen with a keypad displaying floor numbers. Touch the one you want, the display changes to tell you which elevator in the bank will be yours, and when you get in, the only buttons are open and close door and alarm. Whoosh and off you go.

I did have enough free time to take the city bus up to the Hillcrest/North Park area to visit used-book stores and admire the selection of ethnic restaurants, mostly Asian. Waiting for the first bookstore to open in the morning, I lounged in a nearby Starbucks where I bought a cookie, the first time in over 35 years of acquaintance that I've ever actually bought something in a Starbucks. ("You don't want coffee?" said the clerk in a stunned voice.)

At that bookstore, the one which had more books I wanted to read than I could possibly have hauled home, so I bought three and wrote a lot of titles down, the owner/clerk was commiserating with a customer who was complaining about the slow pace of the Game of Thrones sequels ("You might as well just watch the show"). On fire with the novel I'd just finished reading on my Nook, I said, "You shouldn't be reading that; you should be reading ..." and I'll tell you in my next post.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

possibly obsolete

Encouraged by a rave comment we saw online, B. and I rented the DVD of Peter Hall's 1968 RSC production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. The cast was studded with young names destined to be great thespians: Ian Richardson and Judi Dench as Oberon and Titania, Ian Holm as Puck, Helen Mirren and Diana Rigg (!) as Hermia and Helena, and David Warner as Lysander.

But despite this great cast, it was strangely uninvolving, though not nearly as bad as the acclaimed 1964 Richard Burton Hamlet. I think the reason was a now out-of-favor Shakespearean acting style. Though they didn't shout as if they were on stage, the actors had a way of declaiming all their speeches, addressing the air between them instead of each other. I know they could do better than that: Diana Rigg didn't talk at all like that in The Avengers, which she was making at the same time; on the other hand, I once saw a dreadful early modern-setting Helen Mirren film that she declaims her way all through. But they evolved greatly in later years: we're a long way from the Ian Richardson who says "You might very well think that; I couldn't possibly comment," or the Judi Dench who says, "Have a care with my name, Mr. Tilney: you will wear it out."

Thinking back over my Shakespeare stage experience, I think one was just used to this style back then. It began to melt away in the 1980s, I think, and a supremely naturalistic way of speaking Shakespeare, as if his ornate phrasing were common language, came into vogue. You can see it on film in Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing, in which the actors, though none of them trained Shakespeareans, all show that they've absorbed as well as understood the words they speak, and spilling it out as if it was so much crepe-paper roll is right out.

On the other hand ... a sure way to irk me is to declare something I still do obsolete. Here's a condescending list of "forgotten websites you can't believe are still around." I can believe they're still around: I use some of them. My principal e-mail is still Earthlink, and as you can probably see, I run my blog on LiveJournal and Blogger.

Why am I using these things? Because I signed up for them when I needed them and they were the hot new things, and I've found no compelling reason to leave. It'd be disruptive and a nuisance and I like what I have. I'm not tempted to run away after shiny new gadgets. That's also why I still read Tolkien and still belong to the Mythopoeic Society, and why I still listen to the same old music, and why I haven't moved house. It's also not unconnected to why I'm still married to the same woman I met 32 years ago. Not to criticize those whose lives have moved in other directions - and we were forced to move house not much more than a decade ago, though we didn't want to - but in my case the desire to keep a good thing, the impulse for stability and contentment, is the same, no matter how old and creaky I, or my websites, get.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

early movie review

Finding myself at loose ends at the end of the afternoon quite near a theater that was the only one showing a movie being released today that I had some interest in, I decided to go see it.

Operation Finale (2018)

The immediately preceding trailer was for the re-release of Schindler's List, in which Ben Kingsley plays the Jewish clerk who helps Schindler compile the list. In this movie, Ben Kingsley plays Adolf Eichmann. It's a change.

This is a movie about the Israeli operation to abduct Eichmann in Buenos Aires in 1960. Oscar Isaac plays the impossibly noble chief Israeli agent, a composite character. I didn't know much about the details of the operation, and after seeing the movie I still doubt that I do. The abduction itself occurs about halfway through; the agents then have to hide Eichmann in a safe house for over a week because of some bureaucratic snafu regarding scheduling the departure of their airplane (which is on a cover mission).

I don't know if this happened in reality or not. According to Wikipedia the delay in transporting Eichmann was spent confirming his identity. In the movie Eichmann steadfastly denies being Eichmann until he suddenly caves and admits it, and this doesn't have much to do with the delay. Also in the movie, but perhaps not in reality, the Israelis twice narrowly escape being captured by a posse of Argentine police who are after them. And as I watched those scenes, what was inevitably running through my head was this.

Kingsley speaks in something of the same odd sing-songy accent he used for the role of Dmitri Shostakovich in Testimony.

Conclusion: Not as boring as Bridge of Spies, but not as exciting as an undercover spy movie ought to be, either.

Monday, August 27, 2018

book found in the worldcon dealer's room

Where Memory Hides: A Writer's Life by Richard A. Lupoff (Bold Venture Press, 2016)

When I was a young sf fan in Berkeley, among the older people I met and got to hang out with a bit were Dick and Pat Lupoff. (Not the only fannish couple I've met named Dick and Pat, none of whom were in any other way like the Nixons.) They were known for having once published a Hugo-winning fanzine called Xero, an anthology of which was subsequently published by Tachyon, and Dick under his formal byline had become a professional fiction writer of note.

In that capacity he was protean, capable of everything from homages to pulpsters like ERB and HPL to the most esoteric New Wave style science fiction or exotically Japanese-influenced epic fantasy. Perhaps because he didn't have a single definable authorial personality, Lupoff's sf/fantasy career never gained traction, and he subsequently sailed off into the friendlier waters of detective/mystery fiction.

With a few small exceptions, I found that I bounced off most of his fiction, or it went into areas I just wasn't interested in following, but I really enjoyed Dick and Pat themselves and their company. I was consequently a good audience for a book Dick wrote a couple decades ago called Writer At Large, a collection of essays about various experiences, in particular his stint teaching writing to inmates at San Quentin. It was highly illuminating and worth reading for anyone with an interest in inmate life or indeed in adult education.

There's a bit more about that in this memoir, which I think was compiled by stitching together various autobiographical writings. It rambles around with little regard to chronological order and repeats the same anecdotes in different places, even acknowledging that it does so. It talks about his sf and fantasy, his mysteries, how an old white male writer created a young black female detective character (by observing the black women he'd known over his life, he says), his dealings with editors and publishers, his fanzines, his childhood, his time in the army and as a bureaucrat in a soulless government department, teaching at Q and working as a radio personality and in a fabulous independent bookstore. It also contains a chapter attempting to argue, by use of selected quotes, that there is absolutely no difference in literary quality between high literature and pulp fiction, which I find hard to credit from a writer with such sensitivity to differences in style, but let that pass.

I doubt this book would be of much interest to anyone not as fond of Dick Lupoff the man as I am, unless they were really powerfully interested in his fiction. So why am I writing about it? Because I find from its pages that today - this very day! - is Dick and Pat's 60th wedding anniversary. I haven't seen either of them in several years, but I hope they're doing OK, and I wish them a very merry anniversary.