Category Archives: [A-Z]

[A-Z] F is for Fuzz!

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Our friends L and G seem to have the ability to attract stray and feral cats in the neighborhood. This is through no fault of their own; they just happen to have huge neon “SUCKER” signs attached to their heads

So while L and G went off to visit family back east a couple of weeks ago, one of the strays in the neighborhood, a chunky young she-cat that they hadn’t gotten around to naming, gave birth to six tiny kittens.

“Kittens!” Jennifer squealed at me. “They have kittens! We have to visit the kittens!” I figured this was a good idea, not just because I happen to like kittens as well, but also it would help get my mind off of Rosemary.

Then this morning L was talking to Jennifer about how fostering another six kittens would be a serious chore. Jennifer turned to me and said “It’s too bad you’re not interested in fostering kittens, you know.”

So I thought about it and realized that it might not be so bad. “Why not?” I said. “Let’s do it.”

We, too, have bright neon SUCKER signs on our foreheads.

So, basically, we have acquired seven new cats: a young mama cat (we have no idea how old she really is, and cats are notoriously reticent about giving out their age when asked) and six babies — five orange, and one tuxedo. We’ve decided to dub them the Supernatural Kitties, and name them after various characters from the show Supernatural. And hopefully tomorrow I’ll get a LiveStream account and a webcam so that we can peek in on the kittens any time we want.

Right now the kittens are incredibly young, a week or two at the most. Their ears have popped up, but their eyes have yet to open. The mama cat — Ruby — is still very protective of them. She’s also a bit shy and nervous with us, and we haven’t been able to coax her out of her box to eat or drink water or use the litter box. We’re confident, though, that she’ll come around. She’s not feral, and must have been exposed to people at some point in her life.

The other cats are somewhat perturbed by this state of affairs, but only because the new kittens are currently being kept in the spare room where we used to feed Rosie. Azzie and Rupert are still convinced that yummy wet food lies just beyond the closed door, even though Rosie isn’t in there any more.

Brand new kittens. New fuzz in the house.

Yeah. This makes me happy.


This fuzzy wuzzy blog post brought to you by the A-Z Blogging Challenge.

[A-Z] P is for Picture Show (Rocky Horror)

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Just yesterday I wound up listening to the soundtrack for the Rocky Horror Picture Show at work. It was pretty awesome. Although it’s been a good twenty years since I last saw that film, I still know most of the songs by heart, and can still recite the audience participation lines for them as well. Of course, I didn’t do that at my desk at work. Nor did I get up to do the Time Warp when that song came on (though a co-worker did suggest we could have a Time Warp dance mob in our conference room).

Listening to the album left me nostalgic for my high school and early college years. It was my friend Brad Sunday who introduced me and several other members of our high school science fiction club to Rocky Horror; somehow he’d acquired a VHS copy and played it during an after school meeting (bear in mind this was a Catholic high school, and it was done with a teacher’s permission). He taught us some of the audience participation lines (but not all — because Catholic high school) and when and where to throw toast and toilet paper at the screen, so that when we finally went to the real thing, we wouldn’t be unprepared.

Me, I didn’t go see the Rocky Horror Picture Show until I was in college at UC Davis, and then for awhile I really got into it. With my friends P. and T., I drove into Sacramento just about every weekend, often twice a weekend. I threw the toilet paper, I shouted the lines, I danced the Time Warp in the aisles, and I even played Eddie in the floor show one night. That was fun.

Nowadays, it’s hard to find the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Certainly it’s nowhere here in Sacramento. It might be playing regularly in some small theater in San Francisco or Berkeley, but those theaters are just hard for me to get to. I went to the Berkeley show once, about fifteen years ago, with a bunch of friends, but that’s about it. Nowadays, if I want to see it locally I have to wait until June (when the Sacramento Horror Film Festival rolls into town) or Halloween.

And perhaps that’s for the best. I’m past the age where staying up until 2 or 3 in the morning appeals to me, and, of course, that was part of the whole experience. I’m still young enough to be appalled that Fox is considering making a two-hour television version of the movie, but too old to want to go and dress up as Eddie again.

Or maybe I should go in June. Maybe I should go, just to do the Time Warp one last time.


Let’s do the A-Z Blogging Challenge again!

[A-Z] W is for Writers I Know

A brief entry today because I’m still feeling sad about Rosemary. So I am just going to write briefly about some books you should be reading and some writers that I know.

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First is my friend Dale Emery, who is a fine, under-appreciated writer, whose contemporary fantasy stories are always entertaining and full of heart. This book, Winding Unwinding, collects five of his stories (which are also available individually on Amazon), each of which is wonderfully written.

Go forth and buy.

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I also recommend you track down and read Germination by Jamie Thornton. I mean, just when I thought the zombie genre was as dead to me as vampires, along Jamie comes and refreshes it with a new take and a new perspective. This is the first in a new YA series which promises to be excellent. So, go forth and buy some more.

Jamie also wrote Rhinoceros Summer, which is another novel that I highly recommend.

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Third, you should spare some loose change for Loose Changeling (see what I did there?) by Andrea (A. G.) Stewart. I’m not the biggest fan of urban fantasy, because I feel like so many of the novels I’ve read in that genre were so much alike. But Loose Changeling is fantastic. There’s magic, sword fighting, monsters, and more. Andrea says that the Changeling Wars saga will be six to seven books long, and I am furiously awaiting each of them.

There. I’ve given you three excellent book recommendations. What are you waiting for? Read these books!


The very literate letter W is brought to you by the

A-Z Blogging Challenge

[A-Z] G is for Goodbye (RIP Rosemary, 1999-2015)

Rosie-closeup

I remember losing my one of my first childhood pets: Herman the mouse. I woke up that morning and went straight into the den where he lived to check in on him, and found him utterly unresponsive. I tapped on the side of his cage, said his name, and so on, but nothing happened.

That day I couldn’t concentrate at school, and probably started crying at one point because my teacher, Mr. Walsh, took my into the hallway to ask me what was going on. “Herman d-d-d-d-died,” I sobbed. Mr. Walsh was very understanding and went easy on me in class that day.

It doesn’t ever get easier; losing a furry member of our family is always hard. And today I’m still having trouble processing that last night we lost Rosie. I’m sitting here at work (well, technically on break at the moment), unable to concentrate on what I’m supposed to be doing.

Rosie was a good kitty, one of the original seven that came into the marriage with Jennifer. I liked her, and had a pretty good relationship with her. She never sat on my lap or anything like that, but she often did sit on the cat tree in our office, purring and occasionally meowing at me. Sometimes I had treats for her: cream cheese from my bagel, bits of turkey from my sandwich, or French fries, which she loved (she would even sneak a fry from a pile of them).

Last night, knowing it was time, I gave her lots and lots of cream cheese before we took her to the emergency veterinary clinic. This resulted in her farting the entire trip, making the car smell like cat poop. It was kind of funny — because, admit it, cat farts are funny — but I couldn’t laugh.

At the hospital, Jennifer had to do all the talking, because I just couldn’t say anything. I tried to be all cool and manly, etc., but I suck at that sort of thing. We didn’t even bother asking for an emergency vet to look at her. We knew what was happening. The vet tech at the counter was very understanding, said they were going to do a “code seven” instead.

They took us into a small examination room, then took her away to put in the catheter. She was gone for half an hour while they did this, and Jennifer and I fretted that Rosie would get stressed feeling sick and away from us for so long, and Jennifer went to the front counter to ask what was taking so long.

When the vet came in with Rosie wrapped up in a blanket, we were relieved to see it was the same vet who had identified the fistula before. It meant that she could see personally how far the tumor and bone infection had progressed. She was impressed by Rosie’s halitosis, brought on by the infection in her mouth.

Rosie purred the entire time. It was her way. The whole time Jennifer held her wrapped in the blanket. She purred a lot. She was generally a happy kitty.

Purr.

Breath.

Purr.

Breath.

Silence.


A-Z Blogging Challenge

[A-Z] L is for Lungs Of Doom

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I’ve dealt with asthma since I was at least two years old, and I don’t remember a time in my life before it. Pretty much every day of my life I’ve taken pills, used inhalers, switched on a nebulizer, or made my way to a doctor’s office burdened with wheezes and coughs and what-not. I was hospitalized a few times in my childhood, but it’s been more than a decade since that’s happened.

The doctors told me that there was some chance I would grow out of my asthma, but that didn’t happen. As I grew older, the allergies and asthma decided to stick around, just for the hell of it. Perhaps they felt they would be left behind. Or something. I don’t know. The point is, I did not grow out of my asthma. On the other hand, I didn’t suffer the aggravation of adult-onset asthma. So that’s something, I guess.

Treatment for asthma has certainly changed over the years. I’m old enough to remember a drug called Marax, which was the front-line drug of choice for years. That was about the same time that adrenalin shots were the go-to choice for acute asthma attacks (my mom has memories of me being super hyped up on adrenalin after late night visits to the emergency room). Then for a long time, Theophylline was the drug of choice for maintenance. I asked several doctors what the mechanism behind Theophylline was, and they all gave me the same answer: No one knew, but it probably had something to do with a chemical called ATP, which lives in your cells and provides energy.

But now we live in an age where inhalers, not pills, are the primary defense against asthma. Sure, I’m still taking Singulair, but it’s a tiny thing compared to the huge horse pills of Theophylline and so on that I subsided on as a kid. But it’s primarily Advair and Spiriva these days, both of which look sort of like hockey pucks, and Albuterol for acute attacks. No more Marax. No more adrenalin shots.

One constant through all this is Prednisone, which is an anti-inflammatory steroid drug that is prescribed for a number of different conditions. Throughout high school and college I took 20 milligrams a day, every day. Now Prednisone has side effects: it makes me cranky and depressed, and it makes my appetite skyrocket. I hate it. Yet even now, I still end up having to take it from time to time. It sucks.

Still, I’m fortunate. I have a good insurance plan that lets me afford the drugs I need to keep breathing, and access to good doctors who know how to treat the asthma. For a long time, I didn’t, and I was using Primatine Mist — NOT a recommended alternative for someone with severe chronic asthma — to treat myself, because it was all I could afford. Those were in the days when I did not have insurance.

[POLITICS]

Which is why I’m personally all in favor of Obamacare, and utterly appalled at any attempt to defund or repeal it. I have insurance now through where I work, but I know several asthmatics who only have access to doctors and medication BECAUSE of the ACA. Getting rid of it would not only be appalling, but downright immoral, in my opinion.

[/POLITICS]

Anyway. That’s my lungs. That’s my post for today.


This long-winded wheeze brought to you by the A-Z Blogging Challenge. Cough. Cough. Hack. Wheeze. Etc.

[A-Z] Q is for Quick! Write ‘Em Down!

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At our writers’ group meeting a couple of weeks ago we were talking about brilliant ideas we’d had that were tragically developed by other people.

I, for example, had this brilliant idea in the mid-90s about a computer programmer who finds out he’s living in a computer simulation… and then, a couple of years later, the Wachowskis came out with The Matrix. Even friends of mine said, “Richard, that movie could have come straight from your brain.”

7thseagmgThen there was the time in high school that I came up with the idea of a great pirate-oriented role-playing game, complete with magic and sorcery and intrigue and so on in the New World. I let the idea go, but started toying with it again in college. Then along comes some schmoe who invents the game 7th Sea, which is exactly what I had in mind myself.

And, of course, there was the time when I was a kid in the 80s that I came up with an idea for a guy who built a time machine out of a car…

Well, of course, I never wrote that story.

They say that there are not that many original ideas around, so what’s important is the individual writer’s execution of the idea. I could still write down my story about humans trapped in an AI’s reality simulation, but I’d have to finagle it pretty heftily to avoid comparisons with That Film.

On the other hand, don’t let the fear that someone has already executed your idea stop you from putting your own spin on the story. I do, in fact, feel that some of my ideas of the computer simulation of reality that could perhaps be distinguishable from The Matrix. Of course, I doubt I’ll ever get to it because of other projects I want to work on, but, well, one never knows.


This mediocraty brought to you by the A-Z Blogging Challenge. There is no spoon.

[A-Z] M is for Monsters

Creature_from_the_Black_Lagoon_posterLike, you know, those classic monster movies of yore. I love them. I haven’t seen any for years, though, because I don’t actually own any (though if you’re looking for a present to buy me, Amazon has the complete Universal Monster Movies Collection for sale for only about $126!) and because they’re not currently streaming on Netflix, as they would be if God loved me.

A few years ago, before Universal Studios announced that they were going to create a “cinematic universe” of their classic monsters similar to what Disney’s doing with the Marvel cinematic universe, I had it in my head to write a series of stories in which these old monsters were real — or, at least, using themes and ideas inspired byBride-of-Frankenstein-Poster them. I wrote three of these stories, two of which you can find on my website: “A Most Heinous Man” and “The Bride Price“. It’s a concept I revisit from time to time. I’m even working on a novel which is sort of a retelling of the Frankenstein story, in a modern setting, and told from the monster’s point of view. There is no shortage of such novels and movies, of course, but I like to think that the voice and tone that I bring to the story, as well as my focus on various relationships between the characters, make my vision unique.

The best monster, of course, is Frankenstein’s Monster in the movie Frankenstein (based, of course, very loosely on Mary Shelley’s novel). Who doesn’t love him? A constructed person all full of brains and angst over his creation. What’s not to love? I loved the movie when I first saw it, an54560_455307905052_7972798_od, surprisingly, I enjoyed the sequel, The Bride of Frankenstein, even more. I don’t normally enjoy sequels, after all, but Bride is surprisingly good. I recommend it highly. Even the sequel Frankenstein vs. the Wolfman was surprisingly decent for a third entry in a series.

Someday I’m going to sit down and watch all those old films again. They’re so much fun: so very earnest in their depictions of the monsters and their stories. Granted, they were often made on the cheap, sometimes with no other purpose than to shock teenage boys in movie theaters on Saturday afternoons, but some of those old classics were meant to be taken seriously.

I also like kaiju movies, but that’s a different letter entirely.


Today’s slightly out of order post is brought to you by the A-Z Blogging Challenge. Grr. Arg.

[A-Z] B is for “Bride Price, The”

I just put my short story “The Bride Price” online for the world to see. I wrote it in 2008, and it was published by Shimmer magazine in Issue #10. Shimmer is one of my favorite magazines, and not just because they published two of my stories. They’re also chock-full of splendid stories and thought-provoking prose.

And the story was relatively well-received. SFRevu wrote this summary of the story:

Richard S. Crawford weighs in with “The Bride Price”, a wonderfully bizarre tale of teenage angst, but this one involves a girl named Signe who tries out to be a cheerleader. This is especially difficult because she is dead and that’s not her only problem.

Of course, not everyone liked it. As I recall, the reviewer at Tangent Online didn’t care for the voice, saying something like it got wearisome after awhile. But I can’t be annoyed at them, because they did post a lovely review of my story “An Interrupted Nap”, where they said:

Crawford writes with a certain ease, showing a world where the strange is considered normal…

…which is such a great quote I use it everywhere, even if it is ten years old.

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But I feel like this post should be about something other than promoting my own writing, which I think I already do too much. What about you? Do you have anything that needs promoting?


The letter B is brought to you by the A-Z Blogging Challenge. This post will be reposted via time warp on April 2, 2015.

[A-Z] C is for Cats

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This post is a day late, and for that I apologize. I’ll catch up tonight.

Currently, we have six: Rosemary, Azzie (which is short for Azrael), Nutmeg, Ingrid, Rupert, and Sherman. Originally, we had seven when we got married. They were all Jennifer’s, which, I suppose, made them my step-cats. That particular pack consisted of Allegra, Azzie, Rosie, Sebastian, Zucchini, Rebecca, and, of course, Tangerine (pictured here). Over the years, our feline family has changed and reshaped and mutated and so on. Of the original pack of seven, only Azzie and Rosie are left.

And, sadly, Rosie isn’t doing well right now. She’s an old lady cat at sixteen years old, and we don’t really long how much longer she’ll be with us.

Azzie, on the other hand, is also sixteen, and is still going strong. He whines a lot (and I mean a LOT), but he appears healthy and happy. Mostly happy, at least. He’s certainly the dumbest cat (Jennifer says we should say he’s “dim”, not “dumb”, because “dim” sounds cuter). He’s the cat who got lost behind a see-through shower curtain once. It was kind of pathetic.

At any rate, when Azzie and Rosie are both gone, it will be the end of a particular era: the era of the marriage cats. It won’t be the end of the marriage, because all the cats we have acquired since then are cats we’ve chosen together. How can the choosing of new cats NOT strengthen the bond between a couple?


This post brought to you by the letter C, a bunch of nearly normal cats, and the Blogging from A-Z Challenge.

[A-Z] A is for an Administrative Note

Yes, I’m participating in the [A-Z] blogging challenge. Yes, I’m doing the letters out of order. It was a conscious choice, driven by an inner madness which has consumed my soul ever since I read that ancient tome I found in an ancient sunken city full of terrible angles and creatures that no man was meant to see. If you are confused by my disordering of the alphabet, then welcome to my insanity. I think you will find it nice here, and the accommodations quite… uh… accommodating.

Just watch out for the frogs, though. They have teeth.


This post brought to you by the A-Z Blogging Challenge and by the little elves that live in my beard.