Monday, March 28, 2011

Little Fuzzy

I just got through reading all three of Piper's stories about the Fuzzies in an omnibus edition called The Complete Fuzzy. In a previous post I discussed the Fuzzy books and expressed my opposition to the Scalzi re-boot called Fuzzy Nation. Well, after re-reading the original books I begin to understand.

First of all, I am officially predicting a movie project, probably something CGI dominated like Avatar.

Secondly, the original books are obvious artifacts of their time. The first two were published in the early 1960's, but I'd be willing to bet that they had been originally written in the 1950's, they definitely have a 50's vibe to them. The main "corporate" characters in the book could have come straight out of Madmen, and almost every chapter has a reference to "cocktail hour". The most "objectionable" part to most people however is the relationship between humans and fuzzies. It is pretty condescending and patronizing. ( I seem to remember the Mayhar book dealing with this and attempting to disarm it) I could easily see some Phd writing a monograph comparing the humans to Europeans and the fuzzies to those colonized by the Europeans. I fully expect Scalzi's fuzzies to be much more "mature" and capable than Piper's fuzzies.

Thirdly, Piper's vision of future technology was severely limited. In fact I can see a viable argument that Piper's fuzzy books aren't science fiction at all. I seem to remember Tuning's and Mayhar's books being more science fiction, however they are no longer cannon since the publication of the third Piper book. It will be interesting to see if either Scalzi's book, or the Diehr book include any part of Mayhar's or Tuning's work.

I would also be interested to see if Piper's fuzzies had anything to do with David Weber's treecats. If I ever get a chance to ask to Weber about it I will.

T.D.I.M. - Mar 28, 1980

The number one song on this date in 1980 was Another Brick in the Wall (Part II) by Pink Floyd. This song came off the famous (infamous?) The Wall album. The album would later be turned into a musical featuring extended animation scenes. The clip of the song below is taken from the movie.

T.D.H. - Mar 28

This date was a good date for beer drinkers in the United States. First, on this date in 1836, Frederick Pabst was born in Germany. He would later move to America and marry a Brewer's daughter. He eventually bought into the business. He would go on to greatly expand the business and name it after himself. Pabst would become a major figure in the beer industry and the city of Milwaukee.

On this date in 1899, August Anheuser Busch, Jr was born. He would take control of the Anheuser-Busch brewery from his older brother and make it the largest brewery in the world. He was the grandson of the brewery's founder, and his grandson is currently the CEO of the company. He was the one who introduced the Clydesdale horses to the Budweiser image. He also bought the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

American Exceptionalism

I have just finished watching a video on American Exceptionalism by Bill Whittle. Far too often I hear the Left make the argument that there is nothing special about the United States, that we are just one of what will soon be 196 nations. (Man, I remember thinking that 156 was a large number when I was doing M.U.N. in high school)

The Right knows that in fact the United States is exceptional, and has been for most of its history. Everything from the peaceful transfer of power from President Washington to President Adams, (and more importantly and more impressively from President Adams to President Jefferson) to the Berlin airlift to America's efforts to help Japan after the recent earthquake and tsunami. It is a simple, easily understood fact...we are exceptional. History will judge us so too, for many of the reasons that Whittle discusses in his video.

The Left cannot acknowledge that America is exceptional, because their whole ideology is based on fundamentally changing America, which would be idiotic if indeed America was exceptional. A few might attempt to argue that they are trying to make America more exceptional than it already is. My response is to ask them why they are trying to make the United States more like Europe? There are places in Europe that still don't have peaceful transfers of power, especially among political enemies. How many European planes flew into Berlin during that crisis? How many European aircraft carriers or helicopter carriers are off the coast of Japan providing relief?

The simple fact is, our goal should be to transform the rest of the world to more closely resemble the United States rather than transform the United States to look like the rest of the world.

And for those of you who lived in the United Kingdom with me back in the 80's...which UK would you rather live in? The one of the 1980's or the one that exists today?

T.D.I.H. - Mar 27

On this date in 1915, Typhoid Mary was put into permanent involuntary quarantine. Her name was Mary Mallon. She was an Irish immigrant who worked as a cook. She spread typhoid to her clients, there are at least seven recorded instances of the families she worked for coming down with the disease. She denied that she was the source of the disease. She was previously quarantined for a three year period, but released when she promised to no longer work as a cook, and take precautions not to spread the disease. She violated both of these promises. She died while being held, and spent almost thirty years in quarantine. After death, the typhoid virus was found in her organs, and it is presumed that she caught the disease before birth from her mother.

T.D.A.T.M. - Mar 26, 2000

The number one movie on this date in the US continued to be Erin Brokovich. I generally love Julia roberts movies, but this one turned me off from the start, and I have never seen more than a 10 min clip of it. If the clip below of someones ten funniest moments from the movie is accurate, I haven't missed much. It appears to mainly be clips of Julia cussing.

T.D.I.H. - Mar 26

On this date in 1830, the Book Of Mormon was first published. The Book of Mormon is a sacred text of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other smaller related religious movements. The commonly used name to describe these churches, Mormon, obviously comes from the title of this book. Many Mormons believe that this is a historical record of Jesus in the new world, copied by Joseph Smith from golden plates. Other Mormons believe that Smith was inspiried by God to create this book.

Friday, March 25, 2011

T.D.A.T.M. - Mar 25, 1990

The number one movie on this date in the US was Pretty Woman. I have definitely seen this one. In fact if I am channel surfing and hit this movie, I stop and watch it. Again. I think Richard Gere and Julia Roberts had a good chemistry, and I wish we had seen more of Laura San Giacomo. Hector Elizondo was perfect, but I think Jason Alexander was miscast. I think Tom Arnold would have been better in the role for instance. After watching it just now, this is one of those trailers that basically tells the whole movie.......

T.D.I.H. - Mar 25

This date is officially "Tolkien Reading Day". I've read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Once. I tried The Silmarillion, and didn't make it half through. I appreciate the artistic merit of Tolkien. I just think he's boring as hell. The movies were OK though...beautiful cinematography.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

T.D.A.T.M. - Mar 24, 1980

The number one movie on this date in 1980 was still Kramer V Kramer. This is some serious cultural domination. Remember at this time most cities only had a dozen broadcast TV channels at the most. Cable TV was in its infancy. The internet as it exists today wasn't even a dream yet.

T.D.I.H. - Mar 24

On this date in 1944, R. Lee Ermey entered the world. He would go on to actually serve in the US Marine Corps, including a stint as a drill instructor. He would go on to gain fame as an actor, primarily by portraying Marine Corps drill instructors. I remember him from The Boys In Company C (package check!), but he became famous for his role in Full Metal Jacket. They actually made an action figure out of him. I bought one for my brother once. (wow! It's selling for $100+ nowdays!) Here is the clip that most people know him by.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

T.D.I.M. - Mar 23, 2000

The number one song on this day in 2000 was Say My Name by Destiny's Child.

T.D.I.H. - Mar 23

On this date in 1904, H. Beam Piper was born. He is, in my opinion, one of the most under-recognized seminal authors of American science fiction. I began my love affair with science fiction reading Heinlein, Norton, Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke, and McCaffrey. It was only years (and hundreds of used bookstores) later that I stumbled upon my first Piper book. I believe it was Space Viking. I quickly began to scour all the new and used bookstores for anything of his I could get my hands on. Sadly, he committed suicide just as he was on the cusp of becoming the success he should have been.

One small part of Piper's larger Terro-Human Future History universe is the Fuzzy saga. This group of books was both a source of great enjoyment and frustration for me when I first read them. First of all, they were extremely hard to find. People who owned copies of these books rarely put them in used book stores, and they were rarely in print. (I just ordered the book I linked to in my last link...all three of Piper's fuzzy stories in one edition!) Secondly, Little Fuzzy was published in 1962 and Fuzzy Sapiens was published in 1964 (the year piper died), however the third book, Fuzzies and Other People was originally lost and not published until 1984. In the meantime, two authors had written books in the Fuzzy series that were contradicted by the eventual publication of Piper's third book: Fuzzy Bones by William Tuning; and Golden Dream: A Fuzzy Odyssey by Ardath Mayhar. As a fan of the Fuzzy saga, I would love to read sequels to all three author's works, even though some would necessarily be inconsistent with others.

Well, I have partly got my wish. First of all, one of the more renowned modern science fiction authors, John Scalazi has written a book called Fuzzy Nation that is due out this May. This book is advertised as a "re-boot" of Little Fuzzy. I am opposed to such things philosophically. I have no problem with turning to another author's work for inspiration (Such as Flashman originating as a character in Tom Brown's Schooldays) or re-telling the story from another's point of view (such as Grendel which re-tells the Beowulf story from the point of view of the monster) or even writing sequels to another person's stories, either with the author's permission or after they are dead (such as happened twice to the Fuzzy saga as detailed above). However a re-boot is a whole different thing. That is taking the author's vision and altering it. Would we allow someone to paint over the Mona Lisa with their version of it? If Scalazi's book become popular, that is what will have been effectively done. Having said that, I have ordered Scalazi's book, and I hope to enjoy it. In fact I hope he writes several sequels and I enjoy them. (I frequently run out of reading material)

Then today while writing this post I learn that someone named Wolfgang Diehr is writing a sequel that is due to be printed this spring. Fuzzy Ergo Sum is described as a sequel to the original series, so I presume it will be faithful to piper's work and ignore the other two Fuzzy books. I can find very little information on it, it is not listed on Amazon, and the printer appears to be doing very small print runs. In a hopeful sign, the author appears to have worked with John Carr as an editor, who has done at lot of work in Piper's Paratime universe.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

T.D.I.M. - Mar 22, 1990

The number one song in the US on this date continued to be Escapade by Janet Jackson. Here is a clip of Janet singing a medley of her songs live, including Escapade.

T.D.I.H. - Mar 22

On this date in 1978, Karl Wallenda, one of the Flying Wallendas, died while attempting to walk a tightrope between two hotels in Puerto Rico. He was 73 at the time. His great grandson Nik and various other members of the family continue to do high wire acts to this day. There is video of the fall available. I will not embed it, but here is a link to it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

T.D.I.M. - Mar 21, 1980

The number one song in the US on this date in 1980 continued to be Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Queen. Here is Robert Plant fronting Queen at the tribute to Freddie Mercury singing the song. He begins by singing a Led Zepplin song.

T.D.I.H. - Mar 21

On this date in 1556, Thomas Cranmer, formerly Archbishop of Canterbury (the highest office in the Church of England besides the monarch of England) was burned at the stake by Mary I of England. This probably had a lot to do with the fact that Cranmer was instrumental in creating the Church of England and in ending the marriage of Henry VIII to Mary's mother, Catherine. Once the Catholic Queen Mary ascended the throne, his fate was sealed.

T.D.I.H. - Mar 20

On this date in 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte entered Paris at the head of an army numbering in the hundreds of thousands, after escaping his exile on the island of Elba. This began the period known as The Hundred Days. Eventually Napoleon would be defeated by the British and Prussians at the Battle of Waterloo. This would lead to Napoleon abdicating and being exiled again, this time to the island of St. Helena, where he would eventually die.

T.D.A.T.M. - Mar 19, 2000

The number one movie on this date in 2000 was Erin Brockovich. Didn't see it.

T.D.I.H. - Mar 19

On this date in 1918, the US Congress instituted time zones and daylight savings time.

T.D.A.T.M. - Mar 18, 1990

The number one movie in the US on this date continued to be The Hunt For The Red October. Here is a clip featuring someone who claims to be a member of a mutiny that inspired The Hunt For The Red October.

T.D.I.H. - Mar 18

The last apartheid era leader of South Africa, F. W. de Klerk was born on this date in 1936. In a tiny bit of irony, the White population of South Africa voted to continue the process of ending apartheid on his birthday in 1992. Both de Klerk and Nelson Mandela would jointly win the Nobel Peace Prize for moving South Africa from apartheid to freedom with a minimum of bloodshed.

T.D.A.T.M. - Mar 17, 1980

The number one movie in the US on this date was ... surprise, surprise... Kramer V Kramer. Here is the third part of Streep's interview at Inside the Actor's Studio.

T.D.I.H. - Mar 17

It's Saint Patrick's Day!

T.D.I.M. - Mar 16, 2000

The number one song on this date in 2000 continued to be Amazed by Lonestar. Here's a cover version of the song by the group Boys II Men.

T.D.I.H. - Mar 16

On this date in 1926, Robert Goddard launched the first liquid fueled rocket in Massachusetts. Goddard was the father of modern rocketry.

T.D.I.M. - Mar 15, 1990

The number one song on this date in the US continued to be Escapade by Janet Jackson. Here is a clip of Janet singing live last week. (actually the day after this post should have gone up on March 16, 2011)

T.D.I.M. - Mar 14, 1980

The number one song in the US today continued to be Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Queen. Here's a clip from the prison in the Philippines that is famous for doing dance routines to pop songs. It's set to Radio Ga Ga, one of my least favorite Queen songs however.

T.D.I.H. - Mar 15

On this date in 1820, Maine becomes the 23rd US State.

T.D.I.H. - Mar 14

On this date in 1964, a jury in Texas found Jack Ruby guilty of murdering Lee Harvey Oswald. This has helped to perpetuate the various conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination of Pres. John Kennedy. In fact, Wikipedia describes Oswald as the "assumed assassin of John F. Kennedy."

Bad Week

I had a bad week. I was stressed about work, distracted by March Madness. I'll make up the posts I missed today, and do better.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

HBO and Bill Maher

I just saw a commercial on HBO for Bill Maher's show, Real Time. One of the clips they used was of Paul Begala making a typical Lefty anti-Bush comment. But they cut the part where Dana Loesch immediately turned it back on Begala and Pres. Clinton. I wonder why?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

T.D.I.H. - Mar 13

On this date in 2008, gold prices hit the $1,000 an ounce level for the first time. At the current time, gold is listed at $1,427 an ounce. That is a 42% rise in three years. Man I wish I had bought some gold back then.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

T.D.A.T.M. - Mar 12, 2000

The number one movie on this date in 2000 was Mission To Mars. Another movie I never saw. I think I know why this time though. Although I love Gary Sinise as an actor, and think Tim Robbins is a fairly good actor, I can't stand to watch Tim Robbins because of his outspoken political views. It was the same deal with the band The Dixie Chicks. I really enjoyed their first two albums, but I can't listen to them since they attacked Pres. Bush while overseas. I know this is a weakness of mine, and I do try to overcome it from time to time.

T.D.I.H. - Mar 12

On this date in 1993, North America was hit by a massive storm. Given my own post yesterday about bad blizzards in 1888 at this time of year, it seems that abnormal storms at this time of year are actually somewhat normal. However, I will bet you dollars to donuts that the next time one hits, it will be widely blamed by the media on global warming or climate change.

T.D.A.T.M. - Mar 11, 1990

The number one movie on this date continued to be The Hunt For The Red October. Here is a clip from the film in which the sub captain speaks to his crew, and the crew responds by singing a patriotic tune.

T.D.I.H. - Mar 11

On this date in 1888, the East Coast of the United States was hit by a massive blizzard, one of the largest in US history. The Great Blizzard of 1888 produced snowdrifts higher than fifty feet. people were trapped in their homes for a week, and at least 400 people lost their lives. Earlier that year, the midwest had been hit by a terrible blizzard in which hundreds of people died, many of them children. There is no word on whether anyone tried to blame this on global warming or climate change.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

T.D.I.H. - Mar 10

This is the kind of thing I love about history....... James Earl Ray, the man who assassinated Martin Luther King Jr., was born on March 10, 1928. Forty-one years later on March 10, 1969, Ray confessed to the murder of MLK jr., though he recanted three days later. It makes one wonder whether some type of "persuasion" associated with his birthday was used.

T.D.A.T.M. - Mar 10, 1980

Surprise! The number one movie was once again Kramer V Kramer. This is the second time, out of what will be eventually four times, that the movie drops out of first place, only to re-gain first place the next week.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

T.D.I.H. - Mar 9

On this date in 1959, the Barbie doll was introduced for the first time. America's girls have never been the same......The picture to the left is the original Barbie released in 1959.

T.D.I.M. - Mar 9, 2000

The number one song on this date in the US was Amazed by Lonestar. I don't believe I have ever heard, or heard of, this song. OK, after looking up the video on YouTube, I have heard it, and understand why it made it to number 1. Southern folks need songs to dance to at their proms too........

Tuesday, March 08, 2011


OK..I don't watch a lot of movies. But I do surf the movie channels a lot. I came across the movie Bandslam last week. I loved that movie. (I am a sucker for a good romantic comedy.) Don't get me wrong, it's not an Oscar threat, and in fact I think the male lead is miscast. But it's a good if slightly cheesy movie if all you want is to be entertained. I really enjoyed the music, both the originals and the covers. Here are clips of a song by each of the two female leads.

Edit 8:21 P.M. 3/8/11: I have just spent the last hour and a half playing these three songs over and over again in rotation.

T.D.I.M. - Mar 8, 1990

The number one song on this date in 1990 was Escapade by Janet Jackson.

T.D.I.H. - Mar 8

On this date in 1983, President Ronald Reagan first referred to the Soviet Union as an "evil empire". This may seem like a "well, duh!" moment to those of you who were not alive when this happened, but believe me, it was highly controversial at the time.

Monday, March 07, 2011

T.D.I.M. - Mar 7, 1980

The number one song on this date in 1980 was Queen's Crazy Little Thing Called Love for the second week. Here is a clip of them performing the song live in 1982. It is one of those rare cases where I actually prefer the live version to the recorded version.

T.D.I.H. - Mar 7

On this date, We Are the World was released internationally. This song was sung by much of the biggest stars of the day, and the money raised went to charity work in Africa. This was the first of these"supergroup" charity songs.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

T.D.I.H. - Mar 6

On this day in history, Gen. Santa Ana of Mexico captured the Alamo after a short seige. The Mexican Army killed all of the defenders, including those who tried to surrender. The defeat became a rallying cry among the Americans and Tejanos in Texas fighting for independence. Among the dead were Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie, famous American frontiersmen.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

T.D.A.T.M. - Mar 5, 2000

The number one movie in the US on this date was once again The Whole Nine Yards.While I was searching for a clip to feature for this post, I came across a meme (apparently started by Ellen DeGeneris) dealing with the friendship/potential romantic relationship of Matthew Perry and Lauren Graham. There is a whole Youtube channel based on the meme, and people create music videos using montages of their photos.

T.D.I.H. - Mar 5

On this date in 1975, The Homebrew Computer Club met for the first time in Silicon Valley. Many of the early entrepreneurs in home computing were memebers of the club, most notably Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak who would later found Apple.

Friday, March 04, 2011

T.D.I.H. - Mar 4

On this date in history the US government became more diverse in several ways. In 1911, Victor Berger became our nation's first Socialist congressman. He was elected by Wisconsin voters to the House of Representatives several times, even after Congress refused to seat him after he won election in 1918, and again after he won the special election to fill his seat. He was allowed to serve his terms when elected in the 1920s.

Several years later in 1917, Jeanette Rankin became the first woman in the House of Representatives representing Montana. She has the distinction of being the only person to vote against the declaration of war for both World War I and World War II. She was also one of the founding officers of the ACLU.

In 1929, Charles Curtis was sworn in as President Hoover's Vice-President. His mother was 3/4 American Indian, which made him nearly half Indian. This made him the first president or vice-president to have a significant non-White heritage. He was a powerful politician and a mover and shaker in the Republican Party.

In 1933, Frances Perkins became the first female member of a US cabinet when she was appointed the Secretary of Labor.

T.D.A.T.M. - Mar 4, 1990

The number one movie in the U.S. on this date was The Hunt For Red October. The movie starred Alec Baldwin as Jack Ryan and Sean Connery as a defecting Soviet sub captain. This was the first of the movies based on the Ryan-verse books written by Tom Clancy. I am a big fan of these books, and have read all of them several times. As far as I am concerned, Harrison Ford really captures how I imagine Jack Ryan to be, and Anne Archer was simply perfect as his wife in Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger. That being said, I think Alec Baldwin does a good job in this film. However, Ben Affleck was a horrible casting choice for Jack Ryan in The Sum of All Fears. I have never seen that movie in its entirety, but what I have seen is a travesty. I really wish they had changed the name of the movie, because it really had little to do with the book beyond the basic premise and a few plot points.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

T.D.I.H. - Mar 3

On this date in 1845, Florida was admitted to the Union as the 27th State. I lived in Florida for a little while (about 18 months) at the end of the 70's. I loved it there, but Mom and Dad hated it, so we PCS'd early.

T.D.A.T.M. - Mar 3, 1980

The number one movie on this date in the U.S. was The Coal Miner's Daughter. I have seen this movie, in fact I've seen it several times and would watch it again. Apparently it was just a one week wonder in the theaters, although it did win an Oscar.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

T.D.I.M. - Mar 2, 2000

The number one song on this date continued to be Thank God I Found You by Mariah Carey featuring Joe and 98 Degrees. A Google search of "Joe and 98 Degrees" only turns up links to this song, so that tells you something. A search of just "98 Degrees" produces a bit more, including an official website for 98 Degrees. Wikipedia provides information that the "Joe" was Joseph Lewis Thomas, a rap singer. here is a clip of Joe singing one of his songs..I Wanna Know.

T.D.I.H. - Mar 2

On this date in 1983 the compact disc and compact disc player were introduced to the United States and the wider world. Prior to this, they had only been available in Japan. The first CD I ever owned was Jim Croce's Photographs and Memories. I bought the CD in London, on Picadilly Lane. I doubt CDs will be around very much longer....they'll soon join 8-tracks, Vinyl and cassette tapes on the dust heap of history.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

T.D.I.M. - Mar 1, 1990

The number one song in the US on this date was still Opposites Attract by Paula Abdul. Here is a clip of Paula on the David Letterman Show after she quit American Idol.

T.D.I.H. - Mar 1

On this date in 1803, Ohio became the 17th State. Sixty-four years later in 1867, Nebraska becomes our 37th State. That is a huge amount of growth in a small amount of time.