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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Private Buffoon is back

I'm glad to report my long time friend who got married and dropped off the face of the Earth is back to blogging. Check him out here

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Balloon Time

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta will start a week from this Saturday. Ballooning is big business in our little city. Naturally living here for over 40 years with them filling the sky year round, many of them flying over my house and landing in the lot behind me, we had to go up. Balloon rides started at $200.00 a person in the 1990's, not sure how much they are now. With a family of four that's a chunk of change.
Fortunately at the school where I was teaching a fellow teacher was a balloonist and he invited the family to a ride.
The first time we went up with Blair it was a clear day, no clouds and the wind was from the Southeast at around 3-5mph perfect for ballooning. The principal of our school was also invited. She was a harsh taskmaster, but when it came time to enter the gondola she grabbed my arm with a look of sheer fear and said, "Pat, what am I doing?"
The flight was flawless. We went up about two thousand feet in a matter of seconds and then he brought us down over the mesa spotting some large sagebrush. Blair calls them his brakes. We landed and waited for the chase crew and the others going up for a ride. Wife and kids went up next. In all the flight lasted less than five minutes, but it was thrilling. What I intuited without Blair saying anything was the first thing pilots do as they go up is look for a place to land.  Principal was grateful to be on solid ground again. From that time on until she retired we were good friends.
After Blair lifted off, landed, took on another load of passengers; it only held four at a time, and all went up once, we folded up the envelope, did the "Bun's on" by sitting on the envelope as it was packed into the gondola. We did the balloonist's ceremony of getting champagne poured on our heads and drinking a toast. All in all a very pleasant morning and something to savor. My daughter was around six or seven at the time and she still remembers the experience.
The second time was the next week. Blair was putting in hours for experience before the balloon fiesta. It was another perfect day only the wind was from the Northwest and blew us to the river. Principal sat out this day. I was in the first flight again and as we drifted across the bluff at the river's edge he tried to do a "Splash and Dash" where you descend to the river, splash down and lift off. With large cottonwoods on both banks of the river it's not as easy to accomplish as it looks on TV with helicopters videotaping the balloons doing during the fiesta. We tried to splash down, but about twenty feet above the ground the wind shifted from Northwest to East. He lifted up and tried three times and gave up. We drifted over the river and into the North Valley part of the city. Not a lot of places to land on a good day, but with tricky winds at ground level even more difficult. He spotted a lumber yard and headed towards it. Again just as we got close to the ground the wind shifted and it took up out of the yard towards the twenty foot chain link fence with concertina wire on top. I expected he would go back up, but he kept going down and I grabbed on to the two others as they grabbed on to me while we saw the razor sharp wire coming closer and closer. I envisioned it slicing through the basket like hot butter and didn't want to think what it would do to flesh. We bounced off and landed safely on a street.
Blair tethered the balloon taking the others up and down. A few neighborhood kids came to watch and he took them up too until all out of propane.
We went to the fiesta that year to crew for Blair, but he had twice as many volunteers as needed. We've never gone up again and at least I've never felt the urge for another flight.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Issue for comments

There's a blogger I read regularly named Samantha. She's liberating herself from purity culture, the most virulent of Christian fundamentalism. Most of the time I sympathize with her, understand where she's coming from having briefly flirted with fundamentalism as a teenager, fought it at a Baptist college and seminary and lived through the takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention by thieves in sheep's clothing.
One thing we have in common is that we can't find a regular church where a free exchange of ideas is permitted and have resorted to attending a small house church.
I rejoice that she and many of her commenters are fleeing the patriarchy and rape culture it breeds and mind control of religious tyrants. She's had a hard life and even harder effort to build her future while maintaining her belief.
This post left me shaking my head. Please read.

I don't want to reply to it in this post, but welcome comments for a discussion there.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

74 copies

From August 26 through the 30th I did a promo on Optimus. It was free as an e-book on Amazon. On fb I said I would mail a free printed copy for the first three reviews on Amazon.
74 copies were downloaded and I'm waiting for the reviews.
It's nice to know my work is out there and being read.
The deal still stands on the first three reviews and the e-book is only .99 regular price.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Madonna Diaries

S. S. Bazinet is a fellow writer here in town and graciously let me read her book. The problem with a book like this is were I to add more than what I say below it would spoil the story.
This story is in the horror genre which lends background, but it's mostly about the family relationship between twin brothers. One brother is bitten and will turn into a monster, nebulous whether vampire or zombie, not really important. The other brother fights to keep him alive even to the point of sacrifice. 
The story is paced from start to finish keeping the reader guessing concerning each new revelation of the family dynamic. Looking forward to more from Bazinet.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Around the House

Blogger friend Michael Manning had a post with stuff he has around the house and challenged his readers to do the same. Thought I'd try it.

The painting is by my spiritual twin, Anne Littlewolf. The little tiny specs in front of the treeline are cows. The two Nambe ware candy dishes were retirement gifts from APS. One for Dad and the other for Mom. The Nambe platter was from the secretaries union on her retirement. Hard to see but there are two amber oil lamps on the outside and two amber candlesticks on the inside. Mom has a barrel full of amber glass and that is what I chose to keep. When she goes into independent living in a couple of weeks I have no idea what I'm going to do with all that other amber glassware.

From 9th grade, (city champ in 660 yd dash) the running statue on the left until my junior year in college I accumulated a number of trophies. The biggest one for being state champ in the mile is hidden behind the center knobs. Wife and I used to bowl in a church league and we accumulated a number of trophies there as well. Arthritis ruined a good form of exercise.
Under the trophies are the beginning of a complete set of Great Books, given to me by my client to help with research on stories. He needed room in his bookcase, and now I do too.

What can I say, I'm a BS Cowboys fan (before Staubach). My heroes were Don Meredith, Don Perkins and Bob Lilly. The ice bowl game was the greatest ever played even if Lantz Rentzel missed the game winning touch down pass as time ran out. I still haven't forgiven Jerry Jones for firing Tom Landry the way he did and never will.

When first married wife worked as a secretary for a real estate company. The company gave oil paintings to customers when they bought a home. The company disbanded and wife was given her pick of the remaining paintings. She picked this one. It's forty years old, but it's still nice to look at.

Father-in-law worked at the Lincoln/Mercury dealership in Albuquerque for 35 years. From the late 50's into the 90's as parts manager. The owner gave him this set of commemorative glasses in the year the Mercury Cougar hit the market.
Going through all their estate after my in-laws passed away my brother-in-law asked what I wanted. This was it.

Smokey is not only around the house he's all over the house and under foot.

The other animal all over the house.
To all my other blogger friends why don't you try this.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

The Cloisonne Heart

This is my latest short story. It's only 10,000 words, but everyone was an agony to write. It explains semi-autobiographically a failed marriage. Normally I don't shop my stories around to other writers for their ideas before I publish. I'm usually pretty confident in my writing and as I e-publish and sell for a buck I'm content with how my stories are selling at Amazon.
When I first started writing I would solicit comment from fellow teachers, friends and family. All I got was praise for the most part. My mother helped me in some ways, but usually she fusses at my language and sexual situations.I'm also a little hesitant to ask for help because sometimes what a critic says can shatter your confidence.
This one was a piece of my soul and I wanted to make sure it was done right. I asked a fb group I coordinate if anyone would wish to read a rough draft and give me suggestions. Hank Bruce agreed and he's given the story to his wife and a friend who reviews his work. We agreed he would write a review on Amazon for me and I would write a review of his books. I've reviewed two of his books and they are the previous posts.
Here is his review of The Cloisonne Heart:
 This is a sensitive, well written and well paced story of a young man’s difficult journey through romance, education and faith. Patrick Prescott is a skillful writer who weaves the elements together as the tension builds and the marriage unravels. From the first paragraph to the last the common denominator is a piece of jewelry, a cloisonne heart. In the process the characters deal with religious training, moral issues and cultural expectations. This is a great read that leaves you with a lot to think about.

I greatly appreciate his kind words. He's presently reviewing Human Sacrifices and I eagerly anticipate his review of it as well.
For the cover picture I couldn't find a heart like the one described in the story, but I did find a plate at a Cracker Barrel on the mantle so I took a picture of it and cropped it for my cover. Struggling artists need to be creative.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Cowboy Karma

Do you remember reading O Henry? or watching the Twilight Zone?
Stories that always had a little twist at the end.
Here are four short stories ranging in time from the 1880's to the present set in New Mexico with that little twist at the end. 
A down on his luck cowboy trying to rob a stagecoach and winds up chasing off other robbers and becoming a hero only to...
A woman comes to Mountainair to visit a famous hanging tree and learns the tree is haunted.
Just two of the stories that are very intriguing. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Bless the Falling Leaves

It is nearly impossible to read with tears in your eyes. After the first chapter I kept a box of tissues and a waste basket handy.
This is an intensely painful book to read because Hank Bruce with his carefully crafted words makes you feel the pain of Darfurian refugees and a homeless Vietnam veteran in the US. Anyone who reads this short story will be profoundly changed as it has done so with me.
I will never treat Christmas and the meaning of our celebration the same again. Here is the true meaning of this sacred holiday. Hank I agree, we are all orphans.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Five Years Retired

Five years ago today was my one and only day of retirement. A lawyer friend called me and asked if I would help him out on a case. He's been my client ever since. (I'm self-employed and bill him for services). Since that time between running to the courthouse, scanning, organizing files, etc. I get to write in an office far away from the temptations of television and grand kids.
In these five years I've edited, revised and done a second printing of my first novel: Optimus: Praetorian Guard.
I also discovered the joys of e-publishing on Amazon. All my books are available at amazon.com/patrick prescott/b004vc67i most of them only 0.99

Human Sacrifices was my second book. I originally wrote it as a short story while working on Optimus. I was told by my mother who was reading my rough drafts that my female characters were too weak. I wrote this story about a female teacher dealing with an abusive husband while starting out as a teacher who finds a loving husband, starts a family and desperately wants to help her student avoid gangs by caring and teaching them to read and understand the value of an education.
This was a novel I wrote over a summer in 1992 for the Ted Turner Tomorrow Awards. A friend in my Sunday School class at church was a Physics professor at UNM and asked me to proof read a lecture he was going to deliver at a convention. He suggested in his paper that with superconductive materials it was conceivable to make a modern equivalent of a magic carpet that could make anything upon it fly. So I wrote a story about trying market the first flying car.
After twenty years gathering dust I adapted it to a post 911 world where a flying car would have a lot more trouble getting government approval.
My first books written from scratch after retirement. It went through many incarnations, but is finally complete as a trilogy. A meteor hits Yellowstone in 1965 and the computer in the geology dept. of Tans Global Oil predicts the super volcano will explode in 50 to 75 years and billions of people will die. "When it hits the fan, you need a plan." TGO develops a plan to not only help the family survive this catastrophe, but what good is living through this to go back to the stone age, so the plan carried out through four generations is intended to keep civilization from being destroyed.
Fletcher Family Battles are short stories centered around the Fletcher family in the middle ages explaining the culture and warfare of the time period. There are more to come.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

George Fishbeck a remembrance

George Fishbeck passed away. I met him once when I was young. Brother and I were outside the V.A. hospital with our cockerpoo puppy while Mom was visiting Dad at the time. He and his wife walked by and asked what kind of dog she was (damn can't remember her name, have to ask Mom). When we told him he shook his head and laughed. Mom knew his wife from a club she belonged to at the time and when they met told her how thrilled we were to meet him.
He taught (at and with) Albuquerque Public Schools for 23 years. This was way way back in the day. Our local station for PBS was started as a joint project with UNM and APS. When I was in elementary school every Thursday the teacher would wheel a TV in the room and we would watch George teach science. It was a wonderful way to reach all the students in the city at once. He was funny, entertaining and I still remember some of the experiments he performed. The one that comes to mind right now was taking swabs of different things around his science lab and the next week showing us the cultures. The most disgusting was the one from his mouth. I was in fifth grade and all of us thought French kissing would be gross. Our own local Mr. Wizard or Bill Nigh the Science Guy. He would always sign off on the show by swishing his mustache and saying, "Adios muchachos and muchachas."
 On Tuesdays (it's been over 50 years so I may have the day of week wrong) a lady (can't remember her name) would do music over the TV. She was pretty and would lead us in songs kind of Mich Miller style, but if was from her I learned songs like "O' Susanna," "Down in the Valley," "Shenandoah," and other American ballads.
Once upon a time New Mexico and America did value education by building schools for the Baby Boom generation and finding ways to educate instead of drill and test. Learning is so much more than cram and mental enema.
KNME ended these programs and George went on to be a local weather man. He was the first person I remember who was announced as a meteorologist and true to his roots he made weather fun, entertaining and educational. Sadly as I was graduating high school a TV station in California lured him away for bigger bucks and he remembered more for what he did there on the national level. It is amazing how fondly he is still remembered here by all of us old foggies, but he was a hard man to forget.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Atlas Shrugged Revisited

I wasn't a teenager when I read Atlas Shrugged. I was teaching English in high school. What drew me into the story was the character Francisco D'Anconia. He was sarcastic, but in one of his rants gave one of the best definitions of money I read up to that time. It rang true. Money is a tool. The root of money is production. Money has to be made before it can be spent.
I didn't like the equation that churches and religion were "Mooching Mystics." I also can't understand the Moral Mafia preaching Atlas Shrugged and the Bible at the same time. Holy Cognitive Dissonance, Batman!
Lately Rand's become popular with the Tea Party and numerous libertarian politicians. They even ponied up the money for a movie, part one with supposedly two more to come. It was ghastly. Talk about stupid, they left our D'Anconia's diatribe on capitalism, the theme and major plot point of the the first part of the book. Without the definition of money the whole movie was meaningless!
I've also seen the movie on Ayn Rand's life portrayed by Hellen Mirren, well as an author I can tell you that trying to tie a novel into the author's life is rather silly. Her real life did not live up to her ideals, yes she took social security in her old age, so what.
 No real life person can live up to a fantasy. For the same reason basing monetary theory and the inner workings of macro-economics on a novel is just plain insane!
Communism didn't play out like Karl Marx envisioned, and there's never been a true Capitalism that followed Adam Smith to the letter and at least they were philosophical treatises not fiction.

Recently I've come across this statement used by Paul Krugman in his blog and as a sign on Facebook which just about sums up the stupidity of those trying to run the country along Randian policy:
 “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.” — [Kung Fu Monkey — Ephemera, blog post, March 19, 2009] ― John Rogers 

Rand Paul's is one of Rand's devotees and says D'Anconia's diatribe is what inspired him as he proposed his budget for 2012 in 2011 his first year in the Senate: copied from Wikipedia
...cut $500 billion from federal spending in one year. This proposal included cutting the Department of Education by 83 percent and the Department of Homeland Security by 43 percent, as well as folding the Department of Energy into the Department of Defense and eliminating the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Seven independent agencies would be eliminated and food stamps would be cut by 30 percent. Under Paul's proposal, defense spending would be reduced by 6.5 percent and international aid would be eliminated. He later proposed a five-year budget plan intended to balance the budget.
 Paul Krugman has repeatedly pointed out that his math in balancing the budget is seriously flawed and all he says to refute criticism is "Trust me." How many people would die if this was actually passed and signed into law? But then like Scrooge in Dicken's A Christmas Carol: "Let them die and decrease the surplus population." How Christian of them.

However to defend Ayn somewhat, something that D'Anconia says in his diatribe rings true, but it applies more to her disciples than the "Looters" she was condemning.

When you see that money is flowing to those who deal not in goods, but in favors -- when you see men that got richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you from them, but protect them from you. When you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming self-sacrifice -- you may know your society is doomed. -- Ayn Rand Atlas Shrugged.

Just think back to the banking crisis of 2007-8. Wall Street doesn't deal in production it deals in gambling and when they lost the gamble on housing they got richer by graft and pull (too big to fail) and our laws protected them against the people who were losing their homes and livelihoods. Isn't it amazing those who espouse Objectivism and deify Ayn Rand are the real looters? 

Monday, February 09, 2015

Going Slow

I've finally after seven years picked up the sequel to Optimus: Praetorian Guard. I always intended to have my title character on the Island of Patmos with the Apostle Paul as his scribe while writing the Book of Revelation. When Optimus was released I was doing book signings and spending a lot of money buying them from Publish America making very little after I gave away most of the books to friends and family.

When I retired and started spending more time writing and learning the beauty of e-publishing I turned a short story I wrote to develop female characters into the novel Human Sacrifices.
Then I pulled my first novel, Vander's Magic Carpet out of the moth balls and published it. I wrote it in the 1990's and submitted it the Ted Turner Tomorrow Awards. I updated it for the war on terrorism which would be problematic for flying cars.

I came across a horrible movie about Yellowstone exploding and all the damage it would do, but it got me thinking about how could we stop a natural disaster like this from wiping out most of mankind. And for the next two years I worked on my Fan Plan trilogy of Meteor Strike: can't prepare for something like this without a time schedule so I use a meteor strike to act as a catalyst and get the clock ticking. Second book was Preparation and the final book Countdown.

Then I was sidetracked by writing the Fletcher Family Battles short stories. They were fun and got me back into historical research. I still plan to write more battle stories, but finally I've decided to pick up Ancient Rome and revisit Optimus on Patmos, Stephanus his eldest son as a freedman in the palace of Domitian and Sextus the youngest son as a pilum in Legio I Minerva along the German frontier as they try to make Flavius Domitianus; the nephew of Domitian the first Christian emperor of Rome.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Revival and Other Stories

A blogger friend published his first book. I bought it at Amazon for my kindle. It's only 60 pages with six short stories and a final poem. I promised him a review, which I post at Amazon and now a more detailed critique.
As a writer I want people to tell me what they think of my writing, but all I get is superlatives because they are afraid to either tell me they didn't read it or don't want to hurt my feelings.
A fellow blogger, no longer blogging did a bang up review of my first book right after it was published and it is still deeply appreciated. I wish I could get some for my other novels as even if the words hurt, they make the writer stop and think about how to improve his/her work. With that said, here goes:

Of the six short stories the first five have a good premise, and offer suspense, but little beyond that. If Gambrel is shooting for horror he's a little short of the mark, not that the stories couldn't be revised to instill a better sense of dread, creepiness and even fright. The beauty of e-books is that you have do-overs. I've published a number of my stories and after a little time do a quick re-read, find mistakes, correct them and republish. Can't do that with the printed word.
Here's my thoughts:
Gambrel states in his blog that he found criticizing others work is much easier than trying to write it himself. Good self realization and with an open mind he'll become a fine author as the plots of the stories are solid. I'm going to speak about the first short story as the problems in it are reflected in the next four.
They are the skeleton of the story. Its bones are there (plot), but blood (dialogue), flesh (description) and skin (polish) are missing. In short he tells the story instead shows the story. In Griffinfield Cemetery two boys go into a mausoleum and find a tunnel which leads to a house where they witness something horrible that haunts them the rest of their lives. A good premise, but by using only narration in first person the story is flat. Two boys daring each other to do something creepy would be talking their heads off. It needs dialogue. The tunnel is described as creepy (don't want to give away too much), what's missing is touch, taste, smell, the senses that get the reader to feel the story other than what the narrator is seeing. The two boys in their dialogue could provide this. When they raise the trap door and see what's happening only their reaction is told, not what they see. Gambrel led the reader up to this point and without giving the reader a clear picture of what scares them and haunts them the rest of their lives makes the story pointless. (Sorry if that's a little harsh). As they're being chased down the hall there needs to be more drama, nearly being caught, having shirts ripped off, stumbling something to draw in the reader giving a sense of danger and panic. Mystery Man I hope this is helpful.
The other four stories suffer from the same problem of telling, not showing. Good skeletons with a little work will make fine stories and when fully fleshed could become novellas or even novels by the time they're done.
The last short story: The Quarry is a prime example of what I've been talking about. It has dialogue, it shows more than tells. It's very well done, maybe a little more of the senses like smell and taste, but otherwise a really good story.
The poem is well done, one piece of advice on poetry: Center it instead of using full page. The eye recognizes it as a poem and you pick up meter and cadence easier.

Overall this is a very good first try and I recommend my few other blogger friends check it out and post a review at Amazon to help Mystery Man out.

Monday, January 12, 2015

To Had or not to Had

When I first published Optimus: Praetorian Guard my wife proofread it and since she's an assistant editor of a state religious weekly paper and spent thirty years doing nothing but proofreading I was reasonably content with it being grammatically correct.
When I started attending writer's workshops I bought a book by one of the local authors entitled: Revising Fiction Making sense of the Madness. When Kirk Hickman was plugging his book and trying to get us to attend his workshop he offered one piece of free advice. "After you're through writing for the day go back over it and delete every 'had' that is not needed."
I was reading a book at the time which was really good except it read slow and  would get bogged down. I thought I was losing my ability to concentrate and was a little worried.
After hearing this advice a light bulb went off. Here are some examples from A Week in the Life of Corinth by Ben Witherington III with my corrections.
The captain had offered the morning sacrifice.
Niconor had seen enough sea voyages for a while. His poor stomach felt like it had swallowed half the Adriatic Sea, which he had just crossed on his way back from Roma. He had fallen (fell) into a pattern of only eating later in the day from the stock of dried fish he had brought with him from Roma.
That's just the first two paragraphs. Only in one sentence the use of past perfect tense didn't bog down the reader.
When I purchased the publishing rights to Optimus and started editing and revising it to release as an e-book the first thing I did was get rid of all those unneeded "had" this and "had" that.
I revised a number of my other novels, the beauty of e-publishing letting you repost after cleaning up your mistakes. I find myself after I had just finished writing something that I had thought was the best stuff I've ever written having to go going back and getting rid of the writer's form of space filler, the dreaded superfluous "had."
The point here is that grammatically those sentences are correct and editors of major publishing houses give author's the liberty of using this style, but if you want your work to read smoothly and easily take out the linguistic speed bumps.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Simple Dreams

I have always been a Linda Ronstadt fan. When I was fourteen and came down with strep throat I was stuck home for five days with nothing to do but listen to the local rock and roll station. The one song I remember to this day from that time was Different Drum. I still love listening to that song.
She held a concert in Albuquerque on a Halloween night and the newspaper writeup mentioned she came out dressed like a skeleton. I was recently married and money was tight and couldn't attend and she never came back to our little town.
I've listened to many of her albums over the years and now they're on my cell phone so I can hear them off the Bluetooth while driving to work, around ten hours total. I include her Trio albums. I really like her What's New with Nelson Riddle. Those songs bring her voice to life.
I just finished reading her biography on my Kindle and found it fascinating. It filled in some gaps for me. It seems after she recorded What's New and then Canciones de mi Padre it was like she disappeared at least off the radio. I didn't know she recorded two more albums with Nelson Riddle and two others in Spanish or toured with this music.
I enjoyed reading about her growing up in Tucson since that's where my eldest grandson lives and was reading this book while my daughter was driving as we picked him up and brought him back for Christmas. She mentions the Saguaro Cacti, but it was funny as we were driving through the Saguaro National Park that you couldn't see any. When we drove through there 12 years ago they were in the median and all over the place from Wilcox on, what happened to them? In the city I saw lots of them, but not off of I-10.