Ideologues On Parades

“To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.”
/ Thomas Paine


Yet some Crazies are not so easy to spot as Teabaggers and GOP haters. They call their cringe Reason and hide behind brave terms such as Skeptic and Debunker. Those who ridicule, mock, or seek to stop questioning, thought, and investigation are not rationalists protecting the poor helpless idiots of the general public, of whom they hold a low opinion, from the terrifying lamentable sanders of irrationality.

Far from it.

Those are protectors of ideology. They enforce the status quo. They scare away legitimate scientists with the threat that interest shown in the wrong things will cause them to be swarmed by sneering condescending patronizing scoffers who will question their judgment, pour scathing acidic sarcasm on their work, and soon call them crazy.

These intellectual thugs intimidate and claim right of approval when it comes to which topics and what approaches are permitted. Thought police is what they are, if we let them be. If we take seriously their specious claims (swamp gas) and ludicrous standards (extraordinary claims — defined by them of course — require extraordinary evidence — what ever that is) we let them rig the discussion against rationality.

They fear anything they don’t understand and they insist they have all the answers. Know-it-all blow-hard toddlers are often more valid.

Be specific. State facts and name names. Stick to empirical fact and do not let the guardians of the status quo buffalo you, scare you, or bully you. If you think independently they will try first to fool you, seduce and co-opt you, then to bully and ostracize you. They will come disguised as Reason, Rationality, and Skepticism but they are not those things any more than the Dominionist Capitalist Christians are actually Christian.  They are zealots with a missionary zeal to define and contain inquiry and thought.

CSICOP, Kurtz’s Krazy Krusaders, SKEPTICAL INQUIRER, Michael Shermer, Ray Nickell, The Semi-Tumescent Randi, and others carry this mark proudly and loudly.  Know them for the arrogant, empty bullies they are.  When they say, “Most such claims are hoaxes and mistakes and if we had enough evidence we could explain them all,” retort with fact, such as, “Actually, the better the evidence, the less likely an explanation becomes for anomalous events.”  When they try to charge you with a logical fallacy, point out theirs, it is sure to be there.  When they begin getting nasty, and they will, calmly ask for substantive points, evidence, and demonstrations of their claims.  When they try to put words and thoughts into your statements, and when they try to inject absurdities to then mock, point it out and refuse to let them set the debate’s agenda or terminology.

Explain that showing how something could be faked does not mean the initial event was faked.  Explain that anecdotal solutions are no more reliable than anecdotal accounts, often far less so.  Point out the flaws in their math; they love flawed math.  In trying to keep them honest you will find they are not.  This will eventually free you from any impression that they represent logic, rationality, or skepticism.  Far from it.  All they represent is an adamant, fearful world view, closed-minded and infantile, a world view in which they question nothing and have answers for everything because that keeps them feeling safe and smug and superior.

Admitting there are things we do not know and must investigate terrifies them; it is chaos to them.  They have so demonized the term Conspiracy Theory that it is now used as a synomym for Crazy Bullshit, when in fact a theory is merely a testable hypotesis used tentatively to explain an event that is otherwise inexplicable.  As we test, fact arises and we trim our theory to conform to facts, leading to a preponderance of evidence allowing for conclusions.  Please note, conclusions are always tentative, pending further fact arising or better refinement of the analysis of what fact we have.

Ask poor Pluto, once a planet, now a planetesimal.

Ad verus, per ardua.

/ geste

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The picture that got me banned from FB

They allow images of grotesque violence. They allow hate speech, racist speech, and calls for the rape, torture, and murder of women. They allow calls for acid to be thrown in the faces of women who won’t put out. They allow radical right wing whack jobs to say and show anything they wish. They promote gun violence. They promote extreme religious hate, violence, and they promote cop murder, school shootings, and human trafficking. All of that is fine and dandy with FaceBook.

Keep in mind, I did not post this until FB threatened me, stating that I had been reported for posting nudity.  Which I had not.  So I decided, if I was going to be falsely charged yet again by the irregularly-scheduled right wing sweep through of trolls, I would go ahead and post an example of what so offended them.  A nude woman.

This, below, is not. This, below, gets you banned.


No, it’s not art.  It’s not offensive, either.  It’s just a nude woman, a young woman posing to show her body for those who will enjoy it.  The aesthetics are those of fine art, even if the execution is not Helmut Newton.

Check here for Helmut Newton nudes:   Newton Nudes

In any case, know that Facebook operates its right wing fascist platform mostly as a data mining scam.  It’s about theft of intellectual property, siphoning away your information and destroying your privacy, and controlling your every move and thought, not freedom of expression or the free exchange of ideas.  Social medium?  More a social mold they’re forcing you into and most of you don’t even feel the squeeze or the cuts.  They pick and choose the ideas and terms.  They decide what is okay for you to see, say, or think.  If they feel like it, for any reason at all, they can censor and suppress your voice.  They can shut you up and shut you down on their whim.

You have no recourse.  No chance to talk back, to explain, or to counter the charges.  Kafka would shrug and nod, he’d understand, and he’d advise existential despair.  Most would agree, and the chronic depression afflicted on the majority of us by the 1% rich is a vile form of class warfare focused on keeping us enslaved and docile enough to be profitable.

Do you want that?  Would anyone sane want this?

Death to censorship and fascism in all forms.


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Entity’s Tickle as by W B Kek

The sun has eyes.
They watch us
In the mirror of the moon.


As starlight falls,
Draws us into dark.

Our lives are deaths
To our terror of the cold.

Those eyes of sun
Upon us
Trace the shape of hidden depths.

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Review of Top Secret/Majic by Stanton T. Friedman

Top Secret:Majic

Top Secret/Majic
by Stanton T. Friedman
Foreward by Whitley Strieber
Marlowe & Company, 1996, Trade pb
ISBN: 1-56924-741-2
4pp b&w photo insert
5 appendices, bibliography, indexed
272 pages

A Book Review and General Discussion
Gene Stewart

Although focused on checking the authenticity of the MJ-12 or MAJESTIC-12 papers, which are documents leaked or hoaxed regarding a secret top-level UFO investigation committee of VIPs from the military and various fields supposedly fored under President Truman in 1947 in response to the crash and recovery of at least one flying saucer and perhaps also occupants, this book is really about research methods. It is a thorough lesson on why to withhold judgment.

In it, Dr. Stanton Friedman, a nuclear physicist with a long pedigree of work with top aerospace and nuclear power applications research, demonstrates how tedious, challenging, and long-term it is thoroughly to investigate and confirm a document’s provenance. Tiny details such as typewriter font or acidity of paper, the style of stamps used, and the validity of signatures each branches one’s research into a dozen other vectors. It is difficult to overstate how layered and complex such archive research can be.

To complicate matters, access to papers in archives and libraries may be hampered by poor cross-referencing, a lack of catalogue information, or simply denial. Redaction, whereby black lines block text to hide what ever the redactor chooses, often demolishes apparent success by making access next to useless.

In chasing down the MJ-12 story, Friedman patiently uses a scientific method to come at the problem from as many different angles as possible. As he confirms or rejects a detail he adds to the mosaic. Gradually a picture forms.

One approach he takes is to assess debunker claims and criticisms. He takes each one seriously and checks to see if it holds water. Almost always debunker assertions crumble at the first touch of examination. Explanations and quibbles simply do not withstand scrutiny. An example: Critics say the way a date appears on some of the documents prove it is a hoax because the use of zero in double-digit date codes did not come about until after computers.

This Friedman shows to be nonsense easily refuted by anyone who checks any hand-grab of archived military or government documents. 04/04/47 would be as common as July 4, 1947, or 4 July 1947, etc. There was, turns out, no systematic format used universally. It usually depended on an individual boss’s preferences, and most were not sufficiently OCD to care.

As for the book’s title, this is taken from an apparent security classification on some of the documents. Again, critics scoff while a check of contemporary 1940s usage indicates it’s quite feasible.

For those used to bashing Friedman as a wild-eyed true believer, this book may prove surprising: He demonstrates systematically that, while there are no smoking guns or solid reasons to invalidate these documents, there are also no solid ways, yet, to confirm them as real. They remain in a gray area.

Despite this, the preponderance of evidence, including fascinating checks of various principle VIP schedules for conflicts, indicates they may well be genuine. If so, the implications are enormous for what we thought was our history, especially in the post WW II years.

I read this book as a follow-up to the Friedman/Berliner book Crash At Corona, which examined the downed flying saucer claims we usually refer to as the Roswell Incident. Top Secret/Majic is a good addition to a serious survey of the UFO situation.

These two books followed my reading of Edward J. Ruppelt’s book Report On the Flying Saucers, one of the first and best overviews by the first officer in charge of the USAF’s Project BLUE BOOK. Turned out the book not only held up very well but was far more rational and interesting than the decades of debunker sneering would lead one to think.

The clarity and honesty of early research into UFOs was bent toward finding out what the hell they were and what was going on. Now it seems such straightforward clarity is gone, fogged by conflicting agendas from dozens of power players. Still, one can find a path through the clutter and make a rational assessment by sifting out the rational, honest investigations.

Other books recommended for those interested in the reality behind the howls of the UFO topic are Leslie Kean’s excellent overview, UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go On the Record.

Another is John Alexander’s book, UFOs: Myths, Conspiracies, and Realities. He is, incidentally, one of the special forces officers featured in Ron Ronson’s excellent book, Men Who Stare At Goats, made into an entertaining George Clooney movie you may have seen.
UFOs and the National Security State by Richard M. Dolan, with a forward by Jacques F. Vallee, is subtitled Chronology of a Cover-Up 1941-1973.

Above Top Secret by Timothy Good is a fat compendium of UFO reports, encounters, and investigations, and the subsequent government disavowals and denials, from across the pond in Britain and Europe, as well as around the world.

Preponderance of evidence. Each claim automatically sets up links to other physical facts that can be checked. When enough are traced, one often finds the hoax, the flawed identification, the delusion. Not always is this the case, though.

Debunkers are fond of saying, “If we had enough information we could explain even the small percentage of UFO reports that remain unexplained.” Turns out that’s diametrically incorrect. The more detailed, precise, and authoritative a UFO report, from established, sober pilots and other experienced observers with years experience of aerial objects, the less likely it is to be explained.

Debunkers also love to say, Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. This assertion sounds sage and wise but it violates logic and defies physics. The plain fact is, proof is proof. Evidence is evidence. Empirical is empirical. A claim is a claim. Applying an adjective only reveals the prejudice of certain closed minds.

Isn’t the scientific evidence of gathering empirical evidence and making tentative conclusions based on it the sine qua non?

By science’s very own rationale, a preponderance of evidence suffices to allow a postulate of Probably Real, and no “extraordinary” evidence is required. What exactlly is “extraordinary” evidence? Is it miraculous? Does a god or demon appear to deliver it? Must it have Papal approval?

It is quite obviously well past time for us to ignore the skepdicks and begin thinking for ourselves.

As to physical evidence of UFOs and craft of unknown sources, there is a preponderance of it if one chooses to look. Is a craft seen by ground observers, radar, and cameras sufficiently “real” to admit it exists in a physical way? How about fragments, marks left on ground or trees or plants, scorches, traces of fuel, exotic metals, chemicals, and radioactivity? Where’d all that come from?

If you find your front door or car window smashed in, you do not instantly doubt that something real did it. You do not scoff and call for “extraordinary” evidence before you’ll believe something actually smashed your property. This underscores the absurdity of the so-called skeptic’s stance. It is a cringe of willful blindness to obvious evidence, and it is a shout-down of views that oppose what they choose to approve.

Martinets bullying is not science, nor is it even skeptical. It is ridiculous.

My diversion into disposing of mindless refusal to look at evidence or assess it fairly, which one might call the Swamp Gas approach, demonstrates how fraught with needless controversy and willful blurring the topic of UFOs has become. There really are organized people working hard to make sure you will sneer and ridicule when you hear the terms UFO or flying saucer or unknown craft. “Oh, those saucer nuts,” is one of the approved responses.

J. Allen Hynek, Astronomer and Professor of Astronomy, worked for years as a hired debunker. His job was to dismiss claims and brush away UFO sightings any way he could. Find an excuse and use it, was how he was told to operate. It was he who coined the notoriously patronizing Swamp Gas explanation, for instance. He would blame Venus when it was not visible in the sky. He did this kind of thing for years, but the evidence he kept seeing bothered him. Eventually he could no longer sustain the pretense of debunking and came out as a genuinely puzzled scientist.

That marked his advent into studying UFOs and he made signal contributions to sifting fact from obfuscation, including contributing to the classification of sightings made famous by Spielberg’s film CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, a film in which he has a cameo even as Fraçoise Truffaut plays Lacome, an analogue of Jacques Vallee.

So we see that intellectual honesty can prevail. Although he is quite old now, Stanton Friedman is one of those who has sustained serious research, approaching the UFO question mostly through research in libraries, document caches, and archives. By years of careful cross-referencing, he has advanced our understanding of what is going on, even as we remain unable to make specific conclusions.

For the record, Dr. Friedman and many other serious, educated, and intelligent people have concluded that UFOs are craft of unknown origin that far exceed the performance envelopes of any human engineering and that the ETH, the Extra-Terrestrial Hypothesis, is the most likely explanation. They come from off planet, who or what ever they are.

Some conclude that craft and beings have been retrieved after crashes, perhaps even captured. Some further conclude there is an agreement in effect between representatives of Humanity and those of at least one, perhaps several, off-Earth species.

Some conclude there are a few of us who know the facts involved in all this.

All the rest of us can do is read the better books, think as clearly as we can, and keep watching the skies.

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Where DID I Put My Code Keys?

Blue Light Waves

Blue Light Waves


More science, and increasing numbers of scientists, agree on this every year, and it’s beginning to worry me because I think I’m a glitch.

More seriously: Information system, they postulate. Reminds me of VALIS. Vast Active Living Information System. PKD nailed it.

THE MATRIX was rooted in Buddhist philosophy, by the way. It’s the way they visualized it that we tend to refer to, that cascade of numbers; that was how they analyzed the flow of information underlying all things. More visually conceptual than what The Matrix IS, in any physical way. A worthy successor to the Copenhagen model?

This is real science, folks. Wow. And yes, Michael Talbot’s book The Holographic Universe anticipates much of this and is still an entertaining and engaging book to read.


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Social Media Res


Uriel’s Machine lies sprawled everywhere if we but look.

High culture meant something else in the past.
Not electronics or powered technology;
It meant integrating humanity with the natural world
In which our lives are immersed, of which we are part.
We are ignorant of so much,
We have lost so much meaning and significance from those days.
Back then, we wore the world like clothes.
We lived with the cosmos like air on our skin.
We connected to sky cycles and lived by cosmic rhythms.

Now we stare at screens, touch keypads, and wonder if we’re loved.

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Schlöß Falke


Falke, the Baron Schreier’s castle, technically a schlöß because it locks several mountain passes, sits on a mountain peak three thousand meters in altitude, surrounded by wooded slopes, plunging river ravines, and rocky cliffs. Its estate extends into three valleys below to include many farms and villages.

At the castle itself, the grounds are surrounded by a crenelated wall studded with bartizans, bastions, and peels, with a guard houses of native stone adjacent to the arched entry gate. A large courtyard fronts the castle’s main entrance, which is protected by a portcullis, double gates, a three story gate house, and a narrowing zig-zag passage-trap called Fat Man’s Hug.

Past this is a smaller interior courtyard. Entering the castle, the main floor offers public areas such as the entry hall, various conversation areas, exhibit cases displaying archaeological and historical items from the estate.

There are also offices and larger meeting chambers to either side, to accommodate business or host tour groups and the like.

Just below the ground floor lie the kitchens, where a modern food court has also been installed. Beneath this, the wine cellars and pantry. Under all this, garages for the many vehicles, including space for parking and areas for repair. There is a fully-equipped gas station although in recent years most vehicles have been switched to electric. This area also includes the old stables, some of which stand apart from the castle proper in the rear corner of the grounds.

Back inside the castle, the first floor, above the ground floor, is apartments for guests.

The second floor is private apartments for the baron and his family, some rooms of which being two stories.

The third floor hosts the baron’s library, parts of which are two stories, with one part featuring a skylight dome.

The fourth floor is the open air gardens, which overlook the estate, affording breath-taking views of the surrounding mountains, waterfalls, rivers, forests, and valleys. To stroll the gardens’ perimeter is called Touring The Estate, and is recommended to first-time visitors.

Atop the fourth floor sits the penthouse, a gothic-style mansion modernized inside. It features flying buttresses, vaulting windows, and vast interior spaces. There are galleries, hanging balconies inside, and even a lofted organ depending from a corner of what was once the chapel like a cluster of grapes, which is how the mahogany is carved. To reach this, an organist must climb and have a head for heights, as the organ is perched twenty-two meters above the floor.

There are three towers atop the castle, each featuring pinnacle rooms that flare wider and offer spectacular views. These are often used as VIP guest rooms although only one, at the front of the castle, has had an elevator installed. Few guests savor the climb of 160 stairs, especially in the already-thin air at that altitude.

To visit the castle one must buy a modestly-priced ticket at one of the villages at the base of its mountain, then ride either the furnicular cars or take a bus or, for the more nostalgic, a horse-cart ride. Once at the top, tour guides will meet and gather each tour, leading their groups on a two-hour stroll through both history and modern luxury. Public areas of the castle are clearly marked and guards are available to herd any strays. Photography is welcome and don’t forget your zoom lenses for shots of the invigorating vistas from atop the castle.

Schlöß Falke is open to guided public tours year-round and is especially popular during the Yule season, when it is decorated in an array of festive local arts and crafts. Due to its setting, there is no bad time of year to visit; the area is one of ravishing natural beauty sure to create lifelong memories.


/ from a dream, 7 August 2014

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Crash At Corona by Don Berliner & Stanton T. Friedman, A Review

Crash at Corona

Crash at Corona
The U.S. Military Retrieval and Cover-Up of a UFO
The Definitive Study of the Roswell Incident
by Don Berliner and Stanton T. Friedman

Paraview Special Editions, 2004
Originally published by Marlowe & Co. in 1992, updated in 1997

ISBN: 1-931044-89-9
Trade Paperback, $14.95
227pp, Index, Maps, b&w photo inserts, appendix w/facsimile documents

A Review
by Gene Stewart

Many will already have turned away with a sneer. That demonstrates closed-mindedness. Categorical thinking avoids investigation. It emphasizes answers over questions, answers that soothe, placate, and numb. To believe is to pretend. To know is to find out, to seek, test, and always to question. The former is the scam of religion. The latter, if done properly, is science.

As Max Planck put it, “New ideas are not accepted until their opponents die away.”

We have opposing camps, made particularly clear in today’s political environment. One camp sneers at what they call “reality-based” thinking, as if self-insulating fantasy suffices. The other camp emphasizes fact, empirical evidence, and physics. It is they who build bridges and buildings that stay standing. It is they who create the technology that improves and often saves our lives. It is they who deal with adult problems in a mature, steady way.

So, to which camp does the topic of UFOs belong? My own take is, UFOs, as with ghosts and much else labeled paranormal, are real, but we don’t know what they are.

Does anyone know? Some say yes.

Recently a friend of mine mentioned having reread Report On the Flying Saucers by Edward J. Ruppelt, who oversaw the US Air Force’s Project Blue Book inquiry into apparent craft with astonishing performance envelopes reported by so many pilots, police, and other professionals, as well as by many private citizens. Both my friend and I had read the book when it had initially come out in paperback in the 1960s. Curious, I snagged an ecopy and found it holds up remarkably well and is a clearer-headed document than I had recalled.

Not long after, I was in the bookstore at UNO, where my sons attend college. As one son sought out books he needed for class, I browsed, and spotted Crash at Corona. Knowing the book dealt with the so-called Roswell Incident, I investigated. Turns out the book was on the required reading list for a history course. Intrigued, I picked up a copy, only to find it, too, was a well-researched, level-headed document piecing together the fragments of a story focused on a simple question: If UFOs are “real”, as in physical objects or craft, why don’t they ever crash.

Turns out, perhaps they do, and have been recovered.

We’re all familiar with the outlines of the Roswell Incident by now. How a ranch hand brought odd material into town, how the sheriff encouraged him to show the military, and how the Roswell Army Air Field officers announced they had picked up a fallen flying saucer. All this in 1947, later in the same year Kenneth Arnold kicked off the Flying Saucer craze by being cleverly misquoted by newspaper reporters when he described nine flying wings he’d seen near Mt. Ranier in Washington State as “skipping along like saucers thrown across the surface of water”.

We all further know the trumpeted Flying Saucer recovered at Roswell was quickly called the remnants of a weather balloon, and dismissed from public thought for the next 30 years or so, until two men who’d been there came forward with the seeds of a more remarkable story.

In Crash at Corona we are led through the many small, often stumbling steps by which the story grew. Each claim is analyzed, checked on, and either verified or filed away as a mere claim. It is fascinating to look back and realize how flimsy much of the cover story is, when put into context. One example: Would a Project Mogul weather balloon’s debris cover acres of land? Even a cluster of them contains insufficient material. Further, it’s the wrong kind of material.

Let’s say for argument that’s exactly what fell: Would ranchers, who recovered and returned fallen weather balloon instrument packages all the time for small monetary rewards fail to recognize another one? Would the experts at the air field? Would they really be so ridiculous as to crate up rubbery weather balloon remnants and ship them via special B-29 and, later, in other flights to other bases where higher-ranking people could look them over, where laboratories could analyze them?

Such panic, over-reaction, and waste of time, effort, and money, not to mention such a misappropriation of manpower and equipment, would have ended careers.

Instead we find the flights confirmable and the officers involved rising swiftly in rank and responsibility. No one’s military career seems to have had a misstep regarding what we now call the Roswell Incident.

No one had the whole story. No one had much of it, but as people began to come forward, their consciences insisting and the threats against speaking about it 30 years and more old, the story began to come into blurry focus.

In aggregate, the many testimonials, documents, and confirmed behavior of organizations involved began to solidify a coherent narrative. This accumulation of evidence, much of it anecdotal, some of it documented and undeniable, becomes what any prosecutor would call a preponderance. It tends to confirm a few basic facts. Something odd fell in at least two places, perhaps three, and material was recovered, perhaps even bodies, which were flown from Roswell Army Air Field to various other places. Concurrent to this flurry of activity, a cover story — one that has changed many times over the years, never convincingly — was slapped into place.

Naturally, it was after this decision to engage the cult of secrecy that many UFO flaps, as they were called, struck the USA. People saw things they could not explain, doing amazing things no known aircraft could even approximate. There was even a display for three nights over Washington, DC, that baffled observers and eluded scrambled jets with ease.

Crash at Corona focuses on the Foster Ranch debris, near Corona, NM, and the recovered material from the Plains of San Augustin, NM.

You may think you know how to refute each and every detail and claim. This book shows how many of those pat answers given over the years are not only incorrect, they are obvious, ill-planned lies. This alone should raise eyebrows. Is it not better to consider something rather than dismiss without consideration?

As mentioned at the start, you’re likely to get two different answers to whether reality is to be preferred to ignorance and a fantasy of false security.

Beyond that, no one has come forward so far with any physical, confirmable piece of a so-called flying saucer. Berliner and Friedman do an excellent job presenting a complex, layered story clearly and concisely. At the end of the book, each offers thoughts on what it all means and, because they differ slightly, they offer these thoughts separately. The conclusion is unavoidable that something odd and significant came down and no one has yet explained what it is.

Read the book, and other legitimate ones, if interested in the general topic of UFOs. Crash at Corona belongs on your shelf of serious approaches to a mystery some do not want solved.

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Heart Eater: How I Got Here

One's Desk

I’m a successful writer. It’s the publishers failing me.

That sounds like an ironic joke but consider: I’ve been a writer for 48 years, submitting (at first sporadically, I admit), for 40 years, and publishing for 24 years. My first published fiction was “Weal & Woe” in the Spring, 1990 issue of MARION ZIMMER BRADLEY’s FANTASY Magazine, if you’re curious.

At 16 I sent ESQUIRE a story, now lost, called “Not Buzzard”, about a creepy little guy who walks into a zoo clutching his secret to himself in sweaty palms. He walks up to various exhibits and mutters, “Not buzzard,” until finally he finds the buzzards, where he smiles, reveals his secret. He shows it to the mothers, children, and attendants, all of whom scream and run. He calmly raises it to his head, pulls the trigger, and falls to the ground, not buzzard. Conceptual anticipation of modern America, basically.

So I’m out shoveling snow when my aunt Nancy, who was living with us at the time, calls me in to the phone. It was a woman with an English accent. Identified herself as Rust Hills’s secretary or one of his sub editors. Wanted me to know they loved my story, were thrilled with it, but had never heard of me. Wanted to ask me some questions about myself for a short bio.

My mistake was honesty, as so often is the case in life

We talked about the work, we got on smashingly, we laughed and agreed on the sub-themes and so forth. All was well as I gave her my full name, as I told her I lived in Ebensburg, PA, a county seat, (Cambria), and so forth. Then she asked my age and I said, “Sixteen.”

Silence. She coughed. “Sixteen?”

She gathered herself, regained her poise, and got off quickly.

Later in the week I received an envelope from ESQUIRE. The New York City post mark looked wonderful to me. The letter covered two sides of a half a sheet of typing paper, single-spaced typing from an old Underwood, looked like. It was written by and signed by Rust Hills, the famous fiction editor. It praised my work, told me I was a good writer who would only get better, and other things I liked hearing.

It ended by saying, “…but at 16, your world experiences simply don’t add up to a hill of beans, and I publish for business executives in their 40s…”

A wave-off.

That was 1974 and I was none too eager to submit anything to anyone for a long damned time even though I kept writing, reading, learning, and improving my craft and, eventually, my art. Thomas Pynchon called his short story collection Slow Learner. Regarding submitting and publishing, that has certainly applied to me.

In 1980, at age 22, I got married and we moved to Japan a few years later, where we had our first child. Wanting to bring in some money, I started submitting erotica to various glossy magazines and digests. For a few years I made decent money filling various confessional and third-person short erotica markets. Yes, they used to pay fairly generously for such material, especially if you could supply it reliably on demand. I could and did. I will also say that it taught me much about commercial genre writing and stripped away literary pretensions every callow youth entertains. Contacts kept asking for erotic novels but I resisted, citing the poor per-word rate. Why work harder for less?

All along I honed my craft, writing my own stories on spec and also writing what I have called practice novels. I figured practice is how you learn anything, so if you want to learn to write novels, practice. During these years I submitted the occasional story to genre magazines, collecting my fair share of standard rejection slips, until, in 1990, MZB liked a short fantasy, “Weal & Woe”. It was loosely patterned on Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey and had mythic touches, as did much of my erotica come to think of it.

From then on I’ve sold at least a handful of stories per year to genre magazines.

I’ve also published erotic novels as Everett Bedford for Pink Flamingo Press. That started at Olympia in England but the royalties are better stateside so I jumped ship when contractually able.

My own novels I have submitted sparingly and always with a cringe. In pre email days it cost a goodly amount to prepare a clean typed copy, get photocopies made, box them, have them weighed, and mail them snail to be destroyed by handling for a year minimum before you heard back. This after having sent an inquiry package describing the book and asking if they’d deign to stoop low enough to glance at it. In truth, I heard back from only about a third of publishers, which kept me reluctant to bother submitting novels at all. It’s hard to force myself to submit novels even today, via email.

Along the way I’ve had minor triumphs. First publication. First story chosen for Year’s Best Of. (“Wooden Druthers” in Datlow & Windling’s Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror #7) First erotic novel published. Being tapped to help cobble the series bible for Jerry Pournelle’s WAR WORLD anthologies, edited by John F. Carr. I invented the Harmony religion, vetted stories, and wrote extra material for introductions and segués. Wrote half a dozen novellas for that series, too, only one of which saw print (or brought pay) during Jim Baen’s life but which are slowly coming to light via Carr’s Pequod Press in high-end collector’s editions. Beautiful volumes.

Best editor I’ve ever worked with is Debbie Vetter of CRICKET. She’s been bumped upstairs at Carus Publishing now, deservedly so, but she was superb as a story editor and ushered several of my stories into print.

MZB taught me a lot, too, when one of my stories, at the last minute, needed wordage cut. Without time to consult me she did an emergency appendectomy on my story, then let me know about it. When I read the published result I was amazed. Not a scar showed. It was seamless and improved the story. I’m always glad to learn such useful things and have benefitted from what I’ve learned about how to rewrite, and why, many times. I actually like rewriting; gives you a chance to improve things.

Now I’m concerned with getting my work more widely published, including novels. Still find it hard to submit them due to the responses I’ve tended to get. Brilliant, but… is a standard. Richard Curtis, the agent, called my work, “Brilliant but unpublishable.” Jeanne Cavelos said, “Brilliant stuff, reminds me of Salinger, but we don’t publish this kind of work.” Ashbel Green of Knopf called my work, “Brilliant but we’re cutting back.” Harlan Ellison called me, “One of the good guys, we gotta get you more work.” That’s how I was fired across Curtis’s bows. The splash left nary a ripple.

Then there are the editors who break things and call it fixing, or who cannot read metaphors and take everything strictly literally. It is maddening and despair accompanies all my submissions these days. Why hope for insight or, Thoth and Gwydion forbid, appreciation and enthusiasm when the pattern of not getting it is so strongly established?

Thing is, I believe in my work. I know it speaks for me, eloquently at times. (We all get lucky now and then, right? Just don’t ask me which ones are the good ones.) I’ve had my writing abilities confirmed and affirmed by professionals at every level so I know it is not a sentence, paragraph, or page problem. I can write. It’s just that what I write does not strike the gatekeepers as something that would have wide enough appeal to sell well enough to gain them profit. It is approach, voice, and perhaps content holding my work back, that’s all. If you believe the gatekeepers. My voice in fiction is not familiar. I don’t echo, nor do I write pastiche. I’ve always been off by myself writing what I call Ficta Mystica, or mystical realism, and even though that genre sells hugely well and always has, stories of encounters with unseen things and unknown worlds are seen as too literary, or not schlock enough, or what ever terms the gatekeepers use that day.


“Tartan & Plaid”

A lovesick teenager has broken up with a girl over Christmas break. In the process a coat was left behind. Agony over the breakup clashes with a bitterly cold winter but the teenager abandons the coat and walks home freezing rather than facing the confrontation involved with its retrieval. Arriving home nearly blue, the teenager is confronted by an angry mother demanding to know where the new plaid coat is. It had after all been the big gift the mother could afford that year to give.

The teenager tries to explain that the coat had been lent, in a more loving moment, to keep the beloved warm, just prior to the bitter argument that led to the breakup. “You lent your new plaid coat? You march right back and get it it, young lady.” In frustration and anguish the teenager yells, “It’s tartan, not plaid. There’s a difference, you know.”

The hidden trick in this story is that the first-person narration focuses on the girl who betrayed the narrator. How superficial she has proven to be, how disloyal, how duplicitous and cruelly callous. How badly she has treated the narrator by whimsically going off with another at such a festive time of year.

Everyone who reads the story presumes the narrator is a boy until the last brief scene when the mother confronts the narrator. We learn the narrator is a girl casually, off-handedly. We’re dealing with a lesbian relationship gone wrong.

It’s a small surprise in a character study but when my mother read it she was shocked. She told me she had to reread it several times to get it into her head. In her defense, things were a lot less overt back then regarding same sex relationships. What shocked her was her own unexamined presumptions. Society’s bigotry had patterned her to misunderstand the story, which is written carefully to avoid mentioning the sex of the narrator.

The underlying message is ironically brought home by the mother seeing tartan and plaid as the same thing, and the narrator finding them intolerably different and distinct. Two invisible worlds are colliding.


That is the kind of fiction I was writing in high school. I’ve since lost that story, along with “Not Buzzard” and so many others. “The Watchers” about visitors long before Strieber’s Communion came along and about their connection to faerie, elves, brownies, and pixies; the free-associative poem “Sympathy in Asia Minor”, for the first six lines of which it took me ten pages of exegesis to demonstrate the criss-crossed, woven references and meanings when an English teacher called it nonsense, which affronted me. “Pains of Glass” about a very young boy wandering through an adult dinner party where the people had been frozen and sliced into strange geometric shapes by panes of glass cutting through the room at off-kilter angles; the boy was too young to understand quite what he was privy to as he got near each couple and heard echoes of their conversations, which were bitter, acidic, and venal, full of fear and hate. It was a remark about growing up and being trapped in social facets. So many works I recall but cannot reproduce were lost.

No, to be blunt, I threw them all away when I got married. Arrogantly I decided to see my marriage as an ascent into adulthood. (Still waiting.) My writing up to that point, then, would be juvenilia and I wanted nothing to do with such childish stuff. I filled three large black plastic garbage bags with my childhood writing and took them to a dump. That I did this appalls me to this day and I’m reminded of Charles Dickens having a three-day bonfire to rid himself of a life-time’s correspondence. Fits of melancholy and chronic depression are evidently cleverly disguised at times.

Wish I still had that material to look through, just to see.

There was a one-act play, “Breathe”, using only colored gel spotlights, a curtain, and sound effects that reduced down to a person taking a deep breath into a hot microphone. This was filmed by a high school teacher of mine, Miss Pauley, for her film class at a local college, where it won a first prize. No mention of who’d written the script, of course. No mention of conceptual correspondent.

This was not the first time such a thing had happened.

In grade school I’d drawn the tangle of pipes in a photograph of a nuclear reactor. It was a study for perspective drawing. My work was taken, unbeknownst to me, out of class and entered into a contest in Pittsburgh as her work by the art teacher, Mrs. Saylor. It won both prize and money, and a picture of it appeared in the newspaper, which is how I found out. I took the clipping in next day to show the teacher. She merely looked daggers at me as neither of us said a word. I’d taken measure of her and we both knew each other’s worth quite well in that instant.

When I married I threw away the juvenilia, stopped having literary ambitions, and began learning how to produce plot-point extruded genre fiction product. For the next 35 years or so I tried hard to warp my work to fit genre tropes and topoi. Never worked. I’d always unintentionally sabotage somehow. Unacceptable elements cropped up, strict pattern demands were blithely ignored, etc. It was a mental block, I thought.

Perhaps I was right, but perhaps it was protecting my inner fiction, rather than keeping me from learning to conform to others’ standards, which I now know is the fastest way to fail and to destroy one’s abilities. I tend not to handle time linearly, for example. I tend to see narrative as interpenetrating among setting, character, and event. I tend to like tossing in seemingly random items such as quotations or oblique glimpses of scenes that become coherent parts of the whole only at the end, and often only if you think about them outside the narrative context.

When I paint it is often abstract expressionism. When I play guitar it is often jazz ad libbing. Why should I write any differently if that’s how my mind works?

As you can see from this exemplar, I am capable of structured expression, although I do have a penchant for digression and expatiation. Another pet peeve about genre editors is their insistence upon dumbing down vocabulary. They either demand copy written at a fourth- to sixth-grade level, or they cannot read anything written above that level. In my days of trying to learn to write for genre markets, so I could more reasonably expect to earn some money for my nascent family, I spent time with the Gunning-Fogg and Flesch indexes. These were programs that analyzed written work to peg the education level required for full comprehension. Back then the goal was sixth-grade reading level. Now it has declined to fourth-grade.

It is not merely vocabulary but sentence structure.  Simple, declarative sentences are fine.  Compound or complex sentences, not so much.  And do keep your paragraphs tidy.  One topic per, no more and no less, or else.  Confuses the punters, don’tcha know?  Do not even THINK about multiple viewpoint, or any kind of narration other than third-person limited omniscient past tense discursive.  I’ve actually heard readers, reviewers,and editors state that they hate, for example, second person narrative because they don’t like anyone getting into their head and bossing them around.  (?)  Or that they hate first person because THEY didn’t do or think any of those things.  (??)  Then there is what I call hand-holding, wherein one must include all the steps between point A and point B or the poor widdle weaduh will get wost.  Yes, it is that bad much of the time.  They cannot connect dots, extrapolate transitions, or accomplish the story in any meaningful way unless you explain every tiny little thing.  It’s maddening and destroys the prose of even otherwise good writers like Stephen King.

Now you know why many fine movies fail while many dreck squeeps prevail.

This also explains why the Young Adult (YA) category is booming, by the way. More people are choosing to buy and read those books because they’re written more simply, despite often having the most cutting-edge content and topics. They’re both more interesting conceptually but more accessible at the reading level.

Taking time with rich, layered prose, counterpointed conceptual frameworks, and thematic complexities is less common by the hour, it seems. Readers do not want challenged in an age when cursive writing is no longer even taught in schools, when logic is not a school topic, and when Twitter defines public discourse as 140 characters or fewer. (They’d say, “…or less” by the way, not being bothered to get things correct.)

I’ve many times heard vampire fiction fans proudly assert they’ve never read Dracula by Bram Stoker, the quintessential vampire work, because it is “old-fashioned, boring, and hard to understand”. Nothing is further from the truth, it remains a thrilling mystery of breath-taking pace and alluring eeriness. The glorious, hilarious, poignant, and eloquently concise work of Charles Dickens and Mark Twain are considered too difficult to bother with, too dense to sort out, by too many modern readers.

Despair, my old friend; how y’doin’?


Writing is a heart eater. Know that if you’re contemplating a writer’s existence. (One hesitates to call it a life.) If you do choose writing, keep at it in your own way. Working to others’ standards is the surest way to fail and to destroy yourself and your art.

Be soon and write well.

/ Gene Stewart, et alia

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Boiling the Censorship Frog

First they come for your “porn”.
To protect the children, don’tcha know?
Then they come for your erotica.
Slippery slope when wet, right?
Then they come for your horror.
All those unhealthy images.
Next they come for your young adult fiction.
Encouraging volatile youth might get them hurt.
Then they come for your romance.
Why stir up all those “feelings”?
Next they come for your science fiction and fantasy.
Can’t have you living in dreamland, can we?
Then they come for your military fiction.
Don’t want you learning tactics or methods of dissent or resistance.
Then they come for your mystery stories.
Don’t want to encourage you to investigate or think.
Newspapers are next.
They’re just tabloid lies anyhow, rot your brain.

Anything remaining? The nonfiction was swamped by crazy lies and the textbooks were burned long ago.

Newspapers? Only approved ones kept afloat by big money are legal.

Think any of this is imaginary?  Think it’s not happening right now?
Good; keeps you from doing anything to stop it.

/ GOP psychopathic corporate fascist theocratic oligarchy handbook

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