It is a whirlwind in here


February 2016

Star Trek To Boldly Go To TV Again


Can I use the word eons when talking of Star Trek? Considering the time travel that often enveloped them, why yes – yes, I can.

So, eons ago, I wrote a script for Star Trek, The Next Generation. Memory says (and I’ve been told my memory is not up to light speed), this was the only television series that asked for, and actively used, scripts from writers outside their own stable. They used one script per season from these submissions. So I submitted.

I had a response from Lolita Fatjo, and it gave me some quiet thrill to see her name among the STTNG credits at the end of each show. I believe she was classed under “Pre production”. I also thought she had a real nifty name. I note she currently still has dealings with Star Trek, helping to facilitate Star Trek Fan conferences and arranging appearances by some of the Star Trek stars.

I did not have an abundance of communication with Ms. Fatjo (I liked to think of her as Lolita). I think I got a package of information about the type of thing they wanted for a script. Memory says there was a desire to have a main plot line concentrating on just two or three of the main characters. There was to be one additional sub plot. There were arcs to accommodate the commercials. I believe they hoped for some humour. And timing, of course, all was timed to the exact minute. I followed directions and wrote a script and put it into the format and sent it off. I had two further dealings with Lolita. One told me they had received the script. The other – so deliciously close to the end of the season – was to tell me they would not be using it.

The script was called The Minstrel. An alien had a musical instrument (I think a horn, but it might have been strings) that would play tunes which adapted to whomever he was talking to. It had other properties, but I think I’ll keep them tucked away. You never know – there is a new show. Anyway, the Minstrel would interact (per act) with the Star Trek characters. Revelations were forthcoming. Not too many special effects (which was something else Lolita requested).

I received no big cheques or writing credits from this foray into television land. But not all was lost. I was writing my script in tandem with a friend who was writing her own script. News of our endeavours made the local writing circuit, and we were interviewed on regional radio. From that, we were asked to speak to a couple of writing classes, and even invited to an  alternate world fan club to give a reading. We boldly went.





Kafka Was Not Tortured, Sex-Starved Or Crazy


When Kafka gave readings of his work, he left the audience rolling in the aisles from laughter. He was a polite and considerate fellow, concerned about the people around him. People enjoyed his company. Children adored him.

Reiner Stach has written the most recent – and, it can be safely said – the most definitive biography of Franz Kafka. All three volumes. And he has detailed the life and work of the man, the trials and the dark outlook, the insistent search and recording of the truth that would disturb anyone’s peace of mind. But – almost, it seems, to his surprise – Stach also encountered numerous occasions and writings that show a man far more balanced than most give Kafka credit for. He has collected them in their own book, Is That Kafka? 99 Finds. The book is to be released in an English translation 21 March 2016.

The Nation has printed two excerpts of the book, which I happily include. They show both Kafka’s keen observational eye (he did, after all, write the very first newspaper article describing aeroplanes at an air show he attended) and also his humour. Why, I’m looking at my desk right now.



Who Was Kafka?
A collection of ephemera complicates the picture of Franz Kafka as a tortured neurotic.
By Reiner Stach
Yesterday 10:32 am


The Paris Metro

In the course of researching his acclaimed three-volume biography of Franz Kafka, Reiner Stach discovered numerous curiosities and idiosyncrasies about the writer that, taken together, complicate the image of Kafka as a tortured neurotic. He loved beer and slapstick. He undertook a fitness regime popularized by a Dutch exercise guru. He tried to cheat on his high-school exams. He used his desk as a metaphor for self-parody and waxed lyrical about the Paris metro. Stach details some of these oddities in Is That Kafka? 99 Finds, first published in Germany in 2012 and forthcoming from New Directions on March 21 in a translation from the German by Kurt Beals. The following two finds are reprinted with the permission of the publisher.
Kafka Takes the Subway

The Metro seemed very empty to me back then, particularly if I compare it to my trip to the races, when I was sick and alone. Even apart from the emptiness, the metro’s appearance showed the influence of a Sunday. The dark steel color of the walls dominated. The work of the conductors, shoving the doors of the cars open and shut and swinging themselves in and out, was in keeping with the spirit of a Sunday afternoon. People walked slowly along each long correspondence (i.e. transfer). The unnatural indifference of the passengers, their acceptance of this travel by Metro, became clearer. The way that people turned toward the glass doors, that individuals disembarked at unknown stations far from the opera, appeared capricious. Despite the elec. light, changes in the daylight are clearly visible in the stations, particularly when you have just gone down, particularly this afternoon light, just before dusk. Entering into the empty terminal station, Porte Dauphine, a mass of pipes comes into view, a glance into the loop where the trains are allowed to travel in a single curve after such a long, straight trip. It is much more unpleasant to go through a tunnel in a railway train, in the Metro there is no trace of that oppression that the passenger feels beneath the mass of the mountain (even if it is held in check). You also aren’t far from people, it is a city facility, e.g., like the water in the pipes. Leaping backward when disembarking, then moving forward again, all the more forcefully. This disembarking on the same level. Small offices with a telephone and a bell apparatus, usually empty, direct the operation. Max likes to look in. The noise of the Metro was terrible when I took it for the first time in my life, from Montmartre to the grand boulevards. Aside from that it isn’t bad, rather it even intensifies the pleasant, calm feeling of speed. The advertisement for Dubonnet is very well-suited to being read, expected, and observed by sad and unoccupied passengers. Elimination of language from commerce, since one does not have to speak when paying, or when getting on or off. Because it is so easy to understand, the Metro offers the best opportunity for an eager, weakly foreigner to assure himself that he has quickly and correctly made his way into the very essence of Paris on his first try. Foreigners can be recognized by the fact that they are already lost by the time they reach the topmost landing of the Metro stairs, they do not exit the Metro and seamlessly lose themselves in the life of the street like Parisians. And upon exiting, reality only slowly begins to correspond to the map, since, if we had come on foot or by hired car, we never would have made it to this square onto which we just emerged without the guidance of the map


Kafka’s Desk

Now I’ve taken a closer look at my desk and realized that nothing good can be produced on it.


Telemarketer Tells Lies About My Computer


I’ll update this as I share it again.

With the ability to screen calls, I wonder that telemarketers still exist, let alone the scammers. But they do. I seem to be fortunate in that I don’t get many of these things. Obvious phone numbers, 888 and such, I ignore. But when there is the benefit of the doubt, and I can use a break, I answer.

So – yesterday – buddy with a thick accent immediately told me that Microsoft was monitoring my computer and that there was trouble and that I had better follow some instructions to fix it. Logic must go out the window for anyone to fall for this stuff. This is a popular scam and I’ve read about it enough. I immediately said: “You don’t have the power to monitor my computer.” But – and I think literally – I did not have the complete word “power” out of my mouth before buddy with a thick accent disconnected.

So – there it ended. I guess he didn’t have the time to play around like the guy in my original post.



I have a degree of sympathy for telemarketers. I spent a couple of months training to work in a call centre.  I was mainly to deal with customer complaints. It was the least offensive such job I could find. It is true that with every answer I was supposed to get the customer to “upgrade” their services. But, in truth, I could just not remember all the stages I was supposed to go through, or keep track of all the various information tabs on my screen. I did not make it through ‘training’.

My modicum of sympathy, and not being totally sure when I first answered that it was a marketing call, made me embark on the following conversation. No, it is not verbatim (I didn’t record it for quality control). And it is condensed. I admit a certain fascination of just experiencing it kept me on the line. To anyone else without a writer’s perversion, do as I say and don’t do as I do. Hang up.

Telemarketer: “Hello.”

Me: “Hello.”

[long pause]

T: “Hello there.”

M: “Hello.” [another long pause] “Hello. How can I help you?”

T: “Help me?”

M: “Yes. What do you want?”

T: “Are you the Lord?”

M: “The Lord?”

T: “That you can help me.”

M: “Good Lord. What do you want?”

T: “I have the Lord. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.”

M: “You make your Lord annoyed.”

T: “Ha ha ha ha ha lo lo lo lo lo lo moo moo moo.”

M: “You’re speechless.”

T: Moo moo moo moo maa maa maa.”

M: “You sound drunk.”

T: “I’ll put my dick on your ass.”

M: “What?”

T: “And show it to your wife.”

M: “It would give her a laugh.”

T: “And I’ll do your dog.”

M: “That’s fine. My dog bites.”

T: “Your wife will have a big smile.”

M: “What about my dog?”

T: “Lick a dick.”

[At this point I begin to feel I am as bad as him. I stop]

T: “Here is dick. Moo moo moo moo. Hello. Where’s the wife?”


T: “Hello Hello. Got my dick out.”

[Silence – though I still wonder where this might go. Then he starts talking to a voice I can’t hear]

T: “Sorry, Sir.”

T: “It’s a real call.”

T: “The number is …[my correct phone number]

T: “He is [the wrong name]

T: “I am calling [the correct city].”

T: “He lives at [the wrong address].”

T: “It is in [the correct country]“.

T: “I understand, Sir.”

T: “It is time.”

T: “No, Sir. You don’t have trouble.”

T: “Yes, Sir. I can do that.”

T: “I’ll phone back in fifteen minutes.”

[There are no further phone calls.]




The Gun Is Mightier Than The Book In Austin, Texas

“So, is that a gun in your holster? Ain’t ya glad to see me?”

“Lookin’ for a book!”

“What book?”

“Doesn’t matter – all I want to do is shoot it.”

“Shoot it?”

“And any bastard unAmerican enough to read it.”


“If he can read he ain’t a real American.”

“But you’re in a book store.”

“Yeh – well, we’ll soon be burning all those down.”

“You’re going to torch bookstores?”

“They’re full of Commie/leftwing/socialist/wetback/baby-killin’ Christ-killers. They get it from books.”


“And readin’.”


“Jesus never read a book.”

{As if I could ever make this stuff up.}





Bookshop’s prices shot down 10% for customers openly carrying guns

Brave New Books in Austin is celebrating relaxation of Texas laws by offering a discount to shoppers who ‘open carry’

Is that a gun in your pocket? Austin bookshop will be pleased to see you ... a man at a rally in support of open carry gun laws in Austin, Texas.
Is that a gun in your pocket? Austin bookshop will be pleased to see you … a man at a rally in support of open carry gun laws in Austin, Texas. Photograph: Eric Gay/AP

A bookshop in Texas is offering a 10% discount to customers who are legally “open carrying” a handgun while shopping for new reading material.

Brave New Books, which says it stocks a mix of “conspiracy, economic policy, history, and politics” books, as well as “selections about sustainability, survival [and] preparedness”, made the announcement in late January. It follows the loosening of gun restrictions in Texas at the start of the year, allowing the visible carrying of handguns.

“Brave New Books is the only open carry friendly bookstore in Austin TX and now we have a special promotion where we are offering 10% off all purchases when legally open carrying a handgun. Be sure to recognise the four firearms rules while at Brave,” wrote the store on Facebook.

Brave New Books, which describes itself as “anti-war, anti-state and pro-market”, also hosted an “open carry and firearms freedom symposium” last weekend to answer questions about the legislation. “We’ll here [sic] from owner of Central Texas Gun Works, Michael Cargill. We’ll take part in a firearms safety course from our good friend Stephen Sheftall. And we will hear from a panel of gun rights activists about the latest in the fight for firearms freedom in Texas,” the shop wrote. “And for a limited time only if you come in to Brave New Books safely open carrying a firearm, you can get 10% off anything in the store! That’s right. We want to celebrate your decision to take security in to your own hands by giving you 10% off any product in the store for safely open carrying your firearm.”

General manager John Bush told KVUE: “We appreciate it when people take security and defence into their own hands. In a world where mass shootings are happening more and more, when seconds count, it’s up to we the people to protect our community.”

Other bookshops in the city have taken a different approach, said KVUE: Half-Price Books and Book People have both said no to customers open carrying in their stores. But publisher Melville House, on its blog MobyLives, speculated that Brave New Books’s move looked less like a “political stand” than a “canny marketing stunt that preaches to the converted”.






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