Occupy: Interrupted

When last we left the Redquarters version of the Occupy movement, Athena T. Cat had reclaimed possession of the toilet mat. She has remained there, especially in the evenings, apparently taking advantage of cool air, a warm mat, and the lack of disturbances. Until this past week . . . Continue reading

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Saturday Story: Crackers

This takes place two months after the end of Shadows and Anguish

“Consider it the Graf-General’s farewell tour,” Captain de Alba suggested as she looked over the list of things they were supposed to have had done already. In early December General Joschka Graf von Hohen-Drachenburg would be making an “informal inspection” of the 58th Regiment and so everyone was trying to catch up all those things they hadn’t had time to do because they’d been too busy doing what they were supposed to do.

The adjutant shook his head, “No, if it were a farewell tour there’d already be t-shirts printed up and for sale, and I haven’t seen an order form for the commemorative DVD.” The rest of the staff officers and their advisor groaned at the Israeli’s truly abysmal joke. Even Commander “Rachel Na Gael” managed a laugh and Moshe grinned even more broadly. He liked the one-eyed alien and he missed hearing her laughter and her wise-ass comments. Ever since the regiment’s return from Germany she’d been growing quieter and quieter, and Captain ben David worried about her.

“Actually, this is his way of settling bets, since there was a large chunk of the pool that wagered he’d just fossilize behind his desk and get rolled out for meetings and receptions, sort of like Jeremy Bentham,” Colonel Tadeus Przilas, the executive officer, confided to the others, drawing another round of chuckles. He switched topics. “Rachel, what’s this I hear about no Christmas crackers?” It had been a hard few months and everyone looked forward to the Christmas holidays, even the non-Christians.

She snorted. “Utter codswallop, as usual. Someone decided that,” she mimicked the logistics officer’s tone, “ ‘out of concern for those suffering from PTSD,’ we would only have crackers that did not make a popping sound. Which, of course, do not exist. Thus no crackers.” She looked around and leaned forward conspiratorially, whispering “or so Oatmeal thinks.” Captain Edward O’Neil, now branded “Oatmeal” because of his behavior during the Harz campaign, had earned the disgust of the rest of the officers and they made no effort to hide their unprofessional snickers. Then the conference room door opened and Regimental Sergeant Major Sheldon Smith, Captain O’Neil, Father Mikael Farudi and Major General James McKendrick walked in.

“Remain seated,” McKendrick ordered as the chairs began sliding back. He took his usual place and once everyone but the chaplain had taken their customary seats, he started the briefing. Rachel gave her place to the Anglican priest and instead leaned against the wall. Father Mikael had a Most Secret clearance, so his attending the regular briefing was not a problem. “First things first,” the Scottish redhead rumbled. “Congratulations are in order for Maria and Edward. Both of you will receive promotions at the new year; Maria for her ongoing service and excellent work on developing the satellite use capabilities of the Branch, and Edward for his combat role in Operation Heart’s Blood.”

A round of congratulations flowed through the room and as much as she hated to admit it, Rachel agreed that O’Neil had earned his major’s crown. “To spike the logical rumor, I put Moshe in for promotion as well, but the I.D.F. informed me that he lacks time in grade. However, you will get a raise and I assume you will be fast tracked, Moshe.” The Israeli shrugged. The IDF was notoriously picky about what it demanded of career officers and he wasn’t surprised at the denial. “Now for our regular business,” and McKendrick snorted a little as the others chuckled.

The meeting went swiftly and finally the general announced, “Father Mikael has a request.”

The Lebanese priest smiled. “I need help. I need someone who can read Hebrew and a Greek-speaker if at all possible to assist with the Christmas Eve service. Just to read two passages of scripture – they can come and leave if they need or want to. And if any of you know of a good high-treble singer in your sections, let me know so I can try to persuade them to sing with the choir that night. Male or female will work. First Sergeant Lee will be gone on leave,” he explained. Rachel smothered a bit of a grin. Poor Tony – he caught hell for singing countertenor. That he remained single and never cursed fueled less amusing rumors and now she smothered a sigh.

Everyone agreed to ask and an unusually cheerful McKendrick adjourned the meeting. “Ah, Commander, a moment please,” and he let the others leave, then nodded for Father Mikael to shut the door. “Is something wrong, Rachel?”

She shook her head. “No sir.”

The two men exchanged a glance. McKendrick didn’t press but just said, “I’m sorry you won’t be singing with us this year. And I’m sorry that Vienna has denied my request to award you either the Silver Cross or the Honor Medal.” Those were two of the G.D.F.’s highest awards, one military and the other for civilians working with the Defense Force.

Rachel smiled a little. “Thank you for nominating me, sir.” She had nothing else to say so McKendrick dismissed his advisor. She walked out, her cane giving the familiar “step tap step” cadence as the woman returned to the laboratory.

The general and the priest waited until her steps had faded away. “PTSD again?” Father Mikael asked.

“I don’t know. I just hope that General von Hohen-Drachenburg’s visit will improve things.” He took off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose. “I’m told that they are very old acquaintances.” He replaced his spectacles. “I never thought I’d say this, Father, but I miss her bad jokes and wise-ass remarks.”

“As do I, General. I also miss her singing,” the priest sighed a little, worried about his unusual parishioner but not certain what to do for her. Continue reading

On an e-reader, everyone’s reading Dostoyevsky

. . . or Piketty, or Dickens, or McCullough, or whatever the great work of the week is.

The famous and very true cartoon, originally from teh New Yorker by Peter Steiner. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/f/f8/Internet_dog.jpg

The famous and very true cartoon, originally from the New Yorker by Peter Steiner. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/f/f8/Internet_dog.jpg

Anyone else remember book covers from school or later? They were leather, or padded cloth, with handles. Or they were paper and you cut, taped, and folded them around your book to protect it. And you propped said book up on your desk while “taking notes” i.e. reading something else during class. Enter the e-reader. Continue reading

So Many Books

It’s funny. We gripe about the world. There’s nothing to watch on TV. The music on the radio is lousy. Tomatoes in the store have no flavor. Look at what kids are wearing! And there are too many books.

Screech! Huh, wha—?

There are too many books! Look at all the dreck, the lousy trash, the useless mind-numbing, the icky, the immoral volumes filling the bookstore shelves. (And that’s just what the publishers and newspaper book reviewers are saying.) Continue reading

July Book News and State of the Author

So, first for the book news.

The next Colplatschki book, Forcing the Spring, has been edited and is getting formatting and cover, and should be ready by the end of August.

The Alexi short story omnibus is getting a cover and I’ll pull everything together for an early September release. The novella, “Ivan the Purrable and the Twelfth Dancing Princess” will probably come out in early October.

After that . . . it depends on if a publisher likes something. If he does, then I’ll flip a coin between the next Colplatschki book or the next Cat book and see what my December release will be. If not, then the book he’s looking at will be the December release.

Once I finish the third Colplatschki novel, I think I’ll start the book about, well, a colony world where the natives are quite happy to have humans show up, establish trade points, and then take over the management. Very happy. Perhaps suspiciously happy. You see, there are fascinating ruins hiding away, and hints of far higher tech than the natives have . . .

State of the Author –

sore. I’m writing this on Sunday, because Red 2.0 will be visiting this week and I think I’m going to be a “wee bit” busy. It’s amazing how dental work causes total disruption and distraction. Different parts of my mouth hurt on different days, and I’m trying to get used to where my teeth are now as compared to where they were. The bruising is going down, slowly, but having your mouth held open for four hours as the dentist is reshaping everything and then putting in temporary crowns takes a while to recover from. I can see why he won’t fit the finals for a month – it will take that long for everything to heal. Redheads bruise easily, bleed profusely, and take longer to heal from tissue damage than do most people.

Cracker Barrel and Country Music

One of the places we stopped for supper on the way to and from LibertyCon was Cracker Barrel. And it was packed, as you would expect on a Sunday evening. After about 10 minutes, a table appeared and we sat down for supper. And I got to thinking about Cracker Barrel, The Waltons, country music, and nostalgia.

I didn’t grow up with the traditional Southern comfort food of meat-n-three, cobbler, sweet tea, and biscuits and gravy. My parents are too taste-adventureous for that, and good Southern cooking takes time. My folks both worked, our babysitters were not from the South, and so I grew up on, well, a lot of things. Curries made at home are one of my comfort foods, and chili on scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese. But as I grew older, I came to appreciate regional American cooking in its various forms (although sour cream and raisin pie . . . I tried it. Not the top of my list.)

Cracker Barrel sells that. And it sells comfortable nostalgia of a time and place where people ate home-canned green beans and locally cured ham, had big gardens, could buy fresh sweet corn in season, where kids roamed in safety, a white -picket-fence and large family world. The world of the Waltons, and Mayberry, of home-made ice-cream and catching fireflies in jars at night in summer. It’s the essence of home-grown tomatoes, but in the form of a menu with all that stuff you don’t make at home because getting a good white lump-free gravy is flippin’ hard to do. And carbs. And fat. And carbs.

Comfort food in a comfort setting that looks back to a comfort time. So what if it never existed? Or it didn’t exist for your family? I suspect at some point most of us have thought fondly of living, even briefly, in a Blue Bell ice-cream world, rocking on deep porches, drinking cold home-made lemonade, eating cobbler with ice-cream, and not worrying about what the rest of the world is doing.

My favorite kinds of country music (and western) have that air of nostalgia. I know, it was never like that for most people. It’s like the idyllic “small town America” that social activists love to tear down and decry the hypocrisy of.

But some days, I really wish I could step into the Cracker Barrel world for a few hours, settle back in the shade of a deep porch and just rock. Or walk under autumn-painted leaves and gather apples from the neighbor’s orchard to make home-made pie in a kitchen with a red checkered oilcloth draped on the kitchen table.

Some days I just want chicken-n-dumplings, or meat-n-three with cat-head biscuits.

Comment Admin

I’ve turned the comments on, and made certain that people can comment on new posts, at least according to the admin control panel. If WP is still balking, I’ll break out the big guns Glare of Unhappiness and see what else can be done.

My apologies for the frustration.