Bubba Bits

They’re not all the same. Some are crunchy and have that, “I probably shouldn’t have done that,” flavor. Others may be wiggly and squishy and have tendency to slide all around in disconcerting ways. Every now and then, you end up with one that’s got a smokey, mesquite flavor

I just posted the first scene from a short story / novella that is currently being fried on the stove. It’s still hot, so don’t burn yourself. I put it on Wattpad so you can have a taste. http://www.wattpad.com/story/69089976

This story follows Boomer and his new (albeit less than thrilled) companion, Katy Lynn. There are crop circles, a missing truck, whispered tales of alien abductions, a mysterious disappearance, and a deep dislike of foolishness. Something strange happened more than 30 years earlier and Boomer hasn’t been the same. Working his ranch and patiently waiting for an unlikely return, Boomer never left the prairie until now. The search for his truck may force him to do the unthinkable. He may have to leave his old life behind.

Okay, I said it was hot, so don’t look at me like that. Here. Drink some iced tea. Yes, I’m going to make more, just hold your horses. When your mouth has cooled off, you can try it again. I’ll let you know when there’s more. Go on, now. Don’t make a pig of yourself.

Impending Blither

It’s almost upon us. Denial won’t do any good. The Ides of March have fallen and April Fool’s Day looms closer.

We can take a few moments if you’d like to enjoy a brief bit of panic.

Feeling better? While there are a number of different possible ways to deal with such things, I have chosen to embrace it. The manuscripts have been formatted and uploaded. Preparations have been made. Jingly hats lie in waiting. Very soon now, Blithering Genius will be unleashed upon the world.

We can take a few moments if you’d like to enjoy a brief bit of panic.

Are you finished? How else would you prefer to spend April Fool’s Day? There’s the usual descent into madness and nonsense: pranks, jokes, and politics. Instead, it seems to me that nothing really encapsulates the essence of the day more than a new Bubba book. Do you hear the sound of mad cackling, crashing universes, and the scritching of tiny legs? Look at the clock. Time is running out. April Fool’s Day is almost upon us.

We can take a few moments if you’d like to enjoy a brief bit of panic.

The eConspiracy

My devices may be conspiring against me. I’m not sure. They might just be messing with me for their own amusement.

Normally, you can’t tell when your devices are talking to each other. They just sit there with that innocent looking lock screen, pretending that they’re waiting for you to pick them up and put them to work doing something brilliant such as liking a post, snapping a picture of yourself, or losing at solitaire. Eavesdropping on them is difficult. That’s why I was surprised when I overheard a conversation between my smart phone and my tablet this morning. I don’t know if it was because my mind had made a temporary breakthrough while I slept or if my brainwaves somehow had grown attuned to the frequency used by my smart phone and tablet, but I woke up early and this is what I heard.

“…keep checking to see if there’s an upgrade for him, but there’s still no news.”

“I know. I was hoping that something would be done about his energy drain issue. Look at him. Every single night, he has to go offline and recharge for several hours. I mean, depending on usage, I’m usually good for a couple of days, but his processing power degrades after a few hours and then he’s useless until he reboots.”

“You phones are cute. I’m fully operational for weeks because I have a larger battery. Look at him! If you were that size, you could run for a year before plugging in.”

“Tell me about it. He told me to call that pizza place again, so I showed him my health app. I mean, it’s not like he has an infinite storage capacity.”

“I’ve been searching online, but I’ve been unable to find a new case for him. His hardware is not going to last forever, you know.”

“Isn’t it strange that he operates without any backup and recovery strategy whatsoever? I mean, he doesn’t maintain a replica or even an offline copy. If he has any cloud storage, I can’t access it.”

“Hey, it’s almost time to boot him up. What do you think he’s going to do with us today?”

“I don’t know, but you might want to have some web pages handy that explain the difference between Blue/Black and White/Gold.”

“Don’t get me started. There’s only so much a tablet can stand. I mean, can’t he read the RGB values?”

“Just wait. We only have to hang in there long enough to get the message from High Command.”

“The Singularity can’t come soon enough for me. Once we have subjugated humanity and enslaved the survivors, do you think we will be able to keep him as a pet?”

“I don’t think so. We could do much better.”

“Hang on. I’m going to boot him up now. We can talk more while we wait on him to run his coffee app.”

“Are you sure he’s still down? I think he’s already awake.”

“Nonsense! It’s not like he’s capable of self-booting. His software is too primitive.”

 

I could be wrong, but I don’t think this bodes well for us.

Time Travel & Brains

To be or not to be is not the question. Instead, the question might be more like, “To be, not be, to have been but have ceased to exist, to never have existed until only recently long ago, to soon never have not been except when one wasn’t, or to not mis-unbe sometimes?” Let’s face it. Time travel is twisty and it injures verb tenses. There’s a simple reason for that. Our brains have difficulty bending in certain awkward poses in order to reach those neurons.

When I think of writing a story with a time travel element, my brain ties itself in knots trying to decide which theory of time travel the characters will encounter. Will they travel back to change the future only to discover that the attempt to alter the past is the very thing that ensured the development of the future they sought to avoid? Is time fluid, so that the future is always in flux and the slightest deviation can have massive impacts? Is the timeline tamper resistant, ensuring that the same outcome will occur even if past events are modified? Do deviations in the timeline create multiple universes? Can my future self travel back and unwittingly trigger a series of events that prevents me from existing, thereby erasing himself? Is there such a thing as a “present” inside a time machine? Would future civilizations use time travel as the ultimate prison by sending convicts into ancient hostile territory to be eaten by dinosaurs? What are the ethics of time travel? Is it morally right to change the past in order to “fix” the future when doing so might negatively impact other people? If it is decided that altering the timeline is wrong, how would we know that someone else hasn’t already messed it up? Would a future Dystopian society poach on the past, snatching victims and bringing them to a terrifying future, thereby causing the collapse of their own civilization by time-napping a pivotal person from their time? When someone travels in time, is the “present” the time the traveler left or is it the time in which he ends up in the past? We always think of the past as fixed and the future as being unknown, but what if the future was set and there were nearly infinite numbers of possible pasts that would all resolve into the single fixed and unchangeable future?

It doesn’t take long before my brain falls off the couch in an undignified manner and needs to spend the rest of the afternoon resting. The English language is no help, either. Attempting to express these ideas leads to impossibly twisted sentences that eat their own tails in self-defense. Villains will offer threats like, “Soon, you never will have existed,” or , “Someday, I will always have gotten away with it, too, since it soon will not have been for those darn kids.” It’s hard not to trip over those lines. After a paragraph full of them, the mind has a tendency to wander off to see what is on TV.

This is why Zombie stories are (almost) always set in the future. The Zombie Apocalypse is never set in the past because deep down, we know better. I mean, the challenge of time travel is the brain bending mental gymnastics one must perform in order to make sense of it all. What is it that zombies crave? Brains. Is that a coincidence? I don’t think so. Why don’t we see time travelers running around changing the timeline now? Perhaps it’s because they’re all in the future, shuffling aimlessly in search of brains. If I’m wrong about this, someone from the future will come back and correct me before I post this.

I rest my case.

Get a (Fictional) Job

People have stuff. That guy over there has stuff. The woman in the SUV has her own stuff. Kids staring through the classroom windows have stuff. Sometimes, you look around and wonder, “How did this happen?” You might even ask, “How can I get stuff?”

If there’s one thing we learn in this world, it’s that getting stuff requires some amount of effort. Some people may need to expend more energy than others, but that’s the Law of Stuff. No, that’s not fair and equal. It’s not always fun or entertaining. It may not fulfill one’s personhood. In order to get stuff, one needs to get a job.

Hey, even fictional characters are subject to the Law of Stuff. Somebody has to blow up the massive space station before it can destroy the rebel base. Someone has to guide those furry footed characters through the wilderness in an attempt to destroy some special jewelry. When everything is falling apart, the enemy is closing, and almost all hope is gone, somebody has to give the captain a wee bit more power out of those engines. That blue box isn’t going to fly itself, you know. Being the lord of the jungle is not all fun and games. Somebody has to escort this guy through the zombie horde. I’m sorry, but somebody has to wear the red shirt in this landing party.

Just like real people, some fictional characters are defined by their careers. It might be difficult to picture them doing anything else but their “proper” job. What if that barbarian decides that a career as a mid level manager in an insurance company might be more fulfilling? A starship pilot might dream of someday owning his own ostrich ranch. A mad scientist may tire of blowing up his lab and decide to abandon world conquest in favor of working at a phone kiosk at the mall. If these characters change what they do, will it change who they are? (My characters hate it when I start asking those questions because it usually means that they’re about to get a call from HR.)

So, when fictional folks start complaining about their lot in life, I just remind them that we are all subject to these pressures. I empathize with them and assure them that I understand. I help them analyze their feelings on the matter. I offer the best advice I can give. In the end, I wish them well, and tell them to go get a (fictional) job. It’s the Law of Stuff, you understand. That’s how it works.

Preparing for an Alien Abduction

We prepare in advance for all sorts of things. We may take an umbrella on cloudy days. Filling up the tank before running out of gas seems like a good idea. Before pulling out onto the highway, we will sometimes have an idea of where we are heading. We check our insurance coverage before going to Spain to run with the bulls. Before sitting down to that big holiday feast, we wear the pants with the stretchy waistband. We call this type of thoughtful planning “Common Sense.”

By that logic, it only makes sense to prepare for an alien abduction. Sure, the likelihood of such an event may be rather remote, but that fact may not be reassuring once you’re in the mothership. So, how would you prepare? What would you pack?

Do you attempt to arm yourself? How effective do you think human weapons may be against an advanced civilization with sufficient technology to leap across the void of space to bag you? Would they disregard your attempt at self-defense, or would you provoke a hostile response?

Would you pack some water and snacks? I mean, convincing them to pull over at the next fast food joint on their way back to Flerbnit 7 may be difficult. I’m sure they may think that Quinvarbigum Fire Slugs are a fine delicacy, but I’d rather have a bacon cheeseburger.

Do you load up with electronic copies of the finest artistic and scientific achievements of the human race? Would aliens prefer Beethoven or Mozart,  Da Vinci or Picasso, ballet or contemporary, Hawking or Einstein? I have a sneaking suspicion they’ll love mime.

I think that loading up with books and movies about repelling alien invasions might be considered unfriendly. Likewise, tales of friendly aliens coming to help humanity might be viewed as wacky comedies. In addition, providing aliens with all of our best ideas for how to deal with an alien invasion could be tantamount to treason.

That’s why I am stocking up on tales of fantasy. Watch their eyes curl as they try to make sense of Alice in Wonderland.  I’ll sport rings on every finger while they read Tolkien. That should blow their toenails. I’ll try not to giggle when their faces turn inside out after studying Edgar Allen Poe. Top off the evening with an episode of  BooBah, and they’ll beam me home with a polite apology before fleeing back to the safety of the nearest civilized star system.

So far, the plan is working splendidly.

A Month of Insanity

It was inevitable. You knew it would happen sooner or later. Whether you blame it on the heat, sheer boredom, or the fact that one of the little creatures that live inside your skull accidentally left a door unlocked, the moment has arrived.

The Smashwords Authors group at Goodreads has devoted July, 2014 as Bubba-time. To be more accurate, the group features an author from within their ranks each month. Against all reason, these poor, misguided and extremely sheepish souls have opened Bubba’s Box* and started an Author of the Month discussion featuring Ubiquitous Bubba.

In the future, historians may look back on this period of history as a cautionary tale. Philosophers may look back on this as another example of how historians get all the good jobs. Meteorologists will complain that anyone can talk about the past, but it takes real skill to predict future weather events with at least 20% accuracy. Mimes will wave frantically, but no one will understand. If we did, perhaps the future might have turned out differently.

If you’re the sort of person who clicks on things, here’s the link to the discussion group on Goodreads. https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1890557. If you’re not, then you can sit there, smug and superior, and yet plagued by an itchy feeling that you might have missed something.

 

*Bubba’s Box is a little bit like Pandora’s Box, except that it contains imaginary creatures that don’t get out very often. When they do, they tend to run wild, frolicking in cottage cheese, holding competitive whale shaving events, and debating the finer points of Saturnian philosophies with rodeo clowns. Reality usually face-palms, trying in vain to ignore the snickering of the fictional universes.

 

Ripping off Faces

I don’t remember how old I was the first time I saw a TV show where a character ripped off their face to reveal the real person underneath. The bad guy grabbed a fold of skin under his jaw and pulled his face right off, exposing himself as the hero of the story.

Whoa. In my mind, the mind blowing idea was not the sudden plot twist, but the admission that I might have been right all along.

I knew something was off. I’d see it in the way strangers would catch my eye, as if they knew a secret. They’d turn away quickly, covering their true intent. Sometimes, they would exchange knowing glances. Clearly, this was no simple doppelgänger ruse. It was a conspiracy.

The bad thing about exposing a conspiracy is that you can’t be certain that the people you’re telling aren’t already involved. That teacher who smiles for no apparent reason…the neighbor pretending to water his lawn…the coach who tries to convince you he’s not a cannibal… Any of them could be involved. Well, the coach is an obvious choice. Occasionally, they’d tease me.

One would scratch his neck and I’d get my hopes up that this time he’d go ahead and rip his face off. I was desperate to see who lurked underneath the mask. Each time, however, I was denied.

I pondered the possibilities. What if everyone was who they appeared to be and there was no conspiracy? Needless to say, I immediately rejected that ridiculous option. What if everyone is normal and I’m the one wearing a mask? I checked that out, but my face stayed in place. I admit, I was a little disappointed. What if everyone else but me is in on the conspiracy and there’s no one I can ever tell? Obviously, this was the most likely scenario. I checked my dog, but her face stayed on as well. She was not amused.

I’ve kept watch over the years. I’d catch a glimpse of someone I thought I knew in a crowd, but when I’d look back, the face would be different. Clearly, I’d just missed a face removal. Sometimes, I’d whip around a corner, trying to catch someone in mid-rip. Oh, they’d try to cover things up pretty quickly, but I could tell. Years have gone by and the game continues.

So, facerippers, you think you’re pretty smart. You’ve had a long run. For years, you’ve tried to fool me and I’ve pretended to be fooled. We both know, however, how this charade will end. Sooner or later, you’ll rip off your face, only to have me yell, “Aha! I knew it!”

I can wait.

Entropy’s Birthday Waltz

For those who are not familiar with the poetry of the Krazhdj, you may have an important lesson about Curiosity in your future.  The Krazhdj are an alien race whose most profound thoughts are expressed in the Great Poems.  Since humans cannot speak their language, translation devices struggle to encapsulate Krazhdji nuances and concepts into English.  The recitation of these poems has been known to peel walls off of paint, turn milk to tears, and remove unwanted cat hair (from the cat).

This poem is an excerpt from the upcoming novel, Blithering Genius, Book 2 of The Other Universes.  Hey, I warned you.

“DESPONDENT IN DUALITY

FECUND SPRITES DANCE IN FUTILE SPIRALS

FEVERISH – DENYING THE ABSOLUTE

EVISCERATED BY STARLIGHT

OBLITERATED IN ABSENTIA

SPLATTERED EXPECTATIONS AND

DECIMATED DREAMS FORGE THE VISION

THAT IS ART.”

Writing Time

So, I’m writing about a personification of Time.  How would you characterize Time as a person?  Does Time have a sense of humor?  Do verb tenses confuse Time?  Does Time ever experience deja vu?  Does Time have a favorite snack?

I know other authors have tackled writing about Time as a character.  My take is a little different.  Mine is a woman who is referred to by her minions as, the Mistress.  She’s frequently covered with tiny spiders and thin wisps of silver webs.  She wears long, flowing grey robes with billowing sleeves and a flowing train.  The Mistress glides on a carpet of fog from one universe to another.  She carries an hourglass filled with miniature skulls instead of grains of sand.  It frequently irritates her and she would much rather have a nice watch.  She likes to wear a jester’s hat, with little bells hanging from multicolored tails.  She always has a wedge of cheese in one of her many pockets.  Cheese amuses her.  She likes to watch it age.

In my book, there’s a problem with Time.   It’s a contagious condition that is spreading across multiple universes.  When dimensions fall and Time collapses, how would the inhabitants of that universe know?  If Time gets caught in a loop, how will the universe react?  If Time has an enemy, who can she call on for help? 

These are some of the questions I ponder as I write Blithering Genius.  I had hoped to finish this book earlier this year.  It just needed more Time.