Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for August 2013

An Update Regarding Michael’s Novellas

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It’s time, and past time, to give you all an update regarding my late husband Michael B. Caffrey’s “Joey Maverick” novellas.  So here we go.

Over the next several weeks, I’m going to offer two different “Maverick” stories, “A Dark and Stormy Night” and “On Westmount Station.”  Cover art has been chosen, and formatting is about to get underway for independent e-book publication.

“A Dark and Stormy Night” is about a low-tech sailing regatta in the future; Joey Maverick is merely a crewman on one of the sailing ships.  When a vicious storm sets in, the captain is incapacitated, and Joey must take charge.  Rescues ensue, and Joey encounters feisty nurse Belinda Simpson, who is a pain in the caboose to deal with as she questions Joey’s authority at every turn . . . so why does Joey feel so attracted to her?  Ultimately, “A Dark and Stormy Night” is an excellent action-adventure story with just a touch of low-key romance that’s appropriate for all ages.

“On Westmount Station” is a more typical milSF story because Lieutenant Joey Maverick is about to go off to space.  However, there’s a little problem on Westmount Station that no one quite expected as there’s a bomb in an unexpected place.  Joey’s the man on the spot; he and his new team must defuse the bomb before it’s too late, and deal with the terrorist in question besides . . . there’s action, there’s suspense, there’s mystery, and then there’s Joey, who has to be one of the more fun, albeit low-key, characters I’ve ever had the pleasure to read about.  Truly, this is a story that many people will enjoy, especially if you like your military adventure with just a touch of wry.

If these stories do well, I plan to work on fleshing out a third novella in 2014.

These stories will have bylines of “by Michael B. Caffrey with Barb Caffrey” as I edited and smoothed out various things in the first novella, while I added a subplot, action and additional characters in the latter.  But they firmly are Michael’s stories, set in Michael’s universe, using Michael’s main character Joey Maverick and should be enjoyed by anyone who loved my husband’s work.

People have asked me many times over the years since Michael’s passing why I’ve been bound and determined to keep Michael’s writing alive (as Michael wrote the first novella back in 2000, and what turned into the second novella in 2001).  It’s very simple, really; Michael was an exceptionally gifted writer.  I want his words to live, because he worked hard on them, the stories are excellent, and I think many people will enjoy them if they only have the opportunity to find and read them.

I don’t know what else Michael would have written had he lived.  But I do know this: He was every bit as persistent as I am.  He would not have given up on his own work.  And he would want me to get these stories out there in whatever form, because he knew what he’d done and he wanted others to read his stories.

I plan to offer the two novellas at Amazon through Kindle Direct Publishing, at Smashwords, and at, among others . . . and I hope that everyone who has an interest in my husband’s work will buy them.  (Please!)

Written by Barb Caffrey

August 30, 2013 at 1:23 am

Action 2013 — Racine Residents Need to Support the Racine Concert Band

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Racine area residents, listen up: The City of Racine needs to hear from you that the Racine Concert Band is an important part of your lives.

Now, am I just saying this because I play in the band myself?  Hardly.  The Racine Concert Band (henceforth shortened to “RCB”) has been in existence for ninety years, playing free summer concerts and giving many hours of enjoyment to local residents.  There’s also been an emphasis ever since the late 1970s of playing concerts in the various high schools or at other public school functions as a way to show kids that music is worth learning for its own sake.

I cannot imagine Racine being remotely the same if we didn’t have the RCB available to play free concerts at the Zoo during July and August.   But, apparently, at least some Racine aldermen and Mayor John Dickert have yet to figure out how much good the RCB does for the City of Racine (partly because most of them have never attended one single free concert).  And this is a problem, because the RCB’s contract with the City of Racine runs out in December . . . but the budget for 2014 will be decided in the next few weeks.

It’s really irritating for me as a musician to know that a bunch of people who’ve never once been out to the Zoo to see or hear the RCB are going to determine its budgetary fate.  I know what good the band does; I’ve seen it.  Little kids dance on the grass over at the Zoo when we play Broadway show tunes or medleys from famous movies like “Star Wars”; older people bob their heads in time to the songs that were popular when they were growing up (or that were popular in their parents’ time).  The band plays all different types of instrumental music, so there’s something there to please just about everyone whether you’re six — or ninety-six.

But the Mayor and the Aldermen definitely don’t seem to understand how much good the RCB does.  Which is why I’m calling on everyone who reads my blog and lives in Racine to please get in contact with Mayor Dickert or your local alderman by phone, e-mail, fax, or carrier pigeon (the latter might really shock them, wouldn’t you say?)  Let them know that you, too, believe that the RCB should be fully funded.

Mind you, I do understand why at least some of the aldermen are balking.  Racine has a severe budgetary shortfall, partly due to Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s budgetary priorities (which seem to be to starve all the cities, mostly led by Democrats, and give to all the rural communities, which are run by Republicans).  Potholes aren’t getting filled, streetlights are being removed, and furlough days have been implemented for all public workers as a way of saving money.

Still.  The RCB has fewer concerts than it did when I was in high school because of these same budgetary issues.  But it remains in existence, does a lot of good to hearten Racine residents, and gives us a reputation for class and culture that, quite frankly, Racine needs right now.

Please let your local legislators know that music still matters by telling them to please fully fund the Racine Concert Band in 2014 and beyond.

And for those of you who don’t live in Racine but still want to help — if you’ve ever visited Racine or ever taken in a free concert, now’s the time to say how much you enjoyed it.  It can’t hurt, might help, and certainly will emphasize to the Mayor and aldermen that the RCB is indeed a selling point for the City of Racine.

My Reaction to Ryan Braun’s Statement and Letter to Brewers Fans

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Folks, most of you know very well by my previous blogs on the subject that I have been very interested in Ryan Braun’s situation, both before he accepted a 65-game, season-ending suspension earlier this year, and since.  Which is why I’m not at all surprised that I heard from at least a few of you privately regarding these questions:

“So, Barb, what do you think of Ryan Braun’s statement yesterday (8/22/2013, to be exact)?  Much less his letter to fans of the Milwaukee Brewers?”

I think what Braun said is the best he’s able to do right now.  Witness these lines from the letter the Brewers sent out to fans of the team last evening (including yours truly):

I am so sorry for letting you down by being in denial for so long and not telling the whole truth about what happened. I am ashamed and extremely embarrassed by the decisions I made. There are no excuses for what I did and I take full responsibility for my actions. I apologize to all Brewers fans for disappointing you.

Braun’s letter appears to be sincere; more to the point, as a writer and editor myself, it sounds like Braun’s personal speech (insofar as a letter ever can) rather than a canned, prepared statement by a PR firm.

But some pundits just cannot get over the fact that Braun lied in the first place about his past PED usage.  They’re upset that, in Braun’s statement, Braun only had this to say about what he took:

Here is what happened. During the latter part of the 2011 season, I was dealing with a nagging injury and I turned to products for a short period of time that I shouldn’t have used. The products were a cream and a lozenge which I was told could help expedite my rehabilitation. It was a huge mistake for which I am deeply ashamed and I compounded the situation by not admitting my mistakes immediately.

But as Craig Calcaterra put it at today:

Wow, I’m gobsmacked. I really and truly thought that, after Ryan Braun‘s apology last night, people would embrace him and say that he addressed every concern they had and now we could move on. Imagine my shock and horror this morning when I read multiple takes from the usual suspects about how Braun left questions unanswered and didn’t go far enough.

Yes, Calcaterra is being sarcastic.  But he has a point.  There are some pundits out there, Buster Olney and Jeff Passan among them, who will never, ever be satisfied by what Braun does ever again.  Braun could drop dead in the street after rescuing five little children from a housefire, and it still wouldn’t be enough to satisfy them.

In addition, players often do not know exactly what they are taking.  As Calcaterra says elsewhere in his article:

Braun probably doesn’t know (what he took). Heck, even if he does what difference would it make? Show me one instance where baseball writers have made meaningful distinctions between anabolic steroids, HGH, testosterone and other things. They all treat them like magic pills which bestow super powers, so Braun not breaking them down here makes zero difference.

I agree.

While my anger over Braun’s deception has cooled (see my previous blog on the subject), much of what I actually believe is the same.  From my earlier blog:

My attitude regarding PED use remains much the same as it’s always been.  I think if you’re trying to stay healthy to play baseball, that’s a lot different than trying to cheat the system, which is why McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Bonds (if he really did use them) should be given a pass, as all of them had well-known health problems that steroids/PEDs may have alleviated.  And if you’re willing to accept all sorts of adverse effects on your body, as seen by Lyle Alzado’s tragic death after his brilliant NFL career not so long ago, have at.

(And I called for Braun to “come clean,” which he has now done.)

As I’ve said before, I believe in redemption and second chances.  And the first step in redeeming yourself is to admit what you’ve done and take personal responsibility, which is why I’m pleased Ryan Braun has finally come out with these explanations and apologies.

Ultimately, though, what Ryan Braun needs to remember is this: It’s not important what other people think of you.  It’s important what you think of yourself.  Providing you can look yourself in the eye and tell yourself you’ve made an honest effort to do better, that’s all that any human being can ever do.

Or to boil it down to brass tacks: Yes, I accept Ryan Braun’s explanation and apology.  And I hope he’ll play well throughout the rest of his career, because he’s a really good baseball player and I’ve always enjoyed seeing him play.

But for those of you who still expect better than this from professional athletes, I have news: The Tooth Fairy isn’t real, either.

Book Buyers, Rejoice: 4 Acclaimed TTB Titles Just 99 Cents for Next Two Days

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Folks, I haven’t done a great deal of cross-promotion of other people’s work on my blog.  But I actually worked on three of the four e-books that Twilight Times Books is offering in a special promotional deal for just ninety-nine cents over the next two days/forty-eight hours at Amazon, which is one reason I’m very glad to let you know all about them.

The first book on this promotional list is Dora Machado’s THE CURSE GIVER.  Machado’s book is a dark, lush, and evocative tale of star-crossed lovers who must join forces no matter how high the odds against them;  the best part of THE CURSE GIVER is the lively storytelling, full of characters you’ll love (Lusielle the remedy-mixer — or herb healer, if you’d rather, though I like Machado’s term better; Bren the cursed aristocrat working against time), characters you’ll loathe (Lusielle’s odious husband, a number of the toadies at the various courts), and characters you’ll reluctantly like (Bren’s master of spies, a priestess who may or may not be on Bren’s side despite being the estranged wife of Bren’s spymaster).

I edited this novel, and can tell you without a doubt that once this novel hooks you, you will be up long past your bedtime wondering, “What happened to all those hours?  And hey, this is an interesting book . . . I wonder how it ends?”

Then, of course, you’ll just keep turning the pages.  (Guaranteed.)

The next book on the list is Natalie Roers’ YA literary fantasy LUCID.  This is a book about the power of lucid dreaming as used by a kid named Travis; Travis is disfigured, so he thinks no one will ever love him, and of course as he’s up against adolescence, he’s a bundle of nerves and hormones.  Travis’s object of affection is a girl named Corrine, and in the real world, Travis has no confidence to talk with her.  But in the otherworld created by Travis’s lucid dreams, anything can happen . . . perhaps even a romance?

I edited this novel, too, and felt it an interesting young adult coming of age tale with a lot of true-to-life realism in it despite (or perhaps because of) the lucid dreaming made real aspect.   The romantic interactions between Travis and Corrine are sweet and age-appropriate, and the dialogue between them works well.  Tweens and teens should love this one.

The third book I worked on (this time as a proofreader) is Aaron Paul Lazar’s DON”T LET THE WIND CATCH YOU.  This is a YA mystery in Lazar’s “Gus Tregarde” series that’s set in 1965.  Most of the plot revolves around a strange house in the woods that Gus’s mother doesn’t want Gus going anywhere near, along with Gus’s mother’s strange antipathy toward a lone, cranky hermit.  That and an unquiet Indian spirit (note that no one, but no one, said “Native American” back in 1965) helps to complicate Gus’s summer rather nicely.

Lazar does a particularly good job at summoning up the ambiance of a 1965 summer — how much Gus can do, is expected to do, what songs he’s listening to, his first hint of adolescent hormones, and his love for serial mystery fiction all helps to ground the reader in a firm place and time.  In addition, Gus is a very likeable guy that you just can’t help but root for . . . all in all, this is an excellent addition for any library, but most particularly for young adults nine and up and for the slightly older reluctant 12-16 year old male reader crowd as well.

Then comes the only book on the list I haven’t had anything to do with whatsoever — Dina von Lowenkraft’s DRAGON FIRE.  All I can give you there is the summation as listed on the Twilight Times Books Web site:

Some choices are hard to live with.
But some choices will kill you.

When seventeen-year-old Anna first meets Rakan in her hometown north of the Arctic Circle, she is attracted to his pulsing energy. Unaware that he is a shape-shifting dragon, Anna is drawn into a murderous cycle of revenge that pits Rakan and his clan against her best friend June.

Torn between his forbidden relationship with Anna, punishable by death, and restoring his family’s honor by killing June, Rakan must decide what is right. And what is worth living – or dying – for.

DRAGON FIRE sounds quite interesting, and for ninety-nine cents as an e-book, it’s as much a steal as the other three.

Anyway, these promotional prices are also good at Barnes and Noble and at most other e-book sites, but do not apply at the Twilight Times Books site itself (which is why I haven’t linked there in order to keep anyone from getting completely confused).  Links have been given to the Amazon (US) listing for ease of reference.

I believe all four of these e-books should be available in the UK and elsewhere via  And as this special price deal will only last for another 45 hours, Central Daylight Time, what are you waiting for?

Go grab them right now!

UPDATE: Just received confirmation via publisher Lida Quillen that these books are available now via but aren’t available at the promotional price at Smashwords.  (Sorry about my previous assumption; you know what they say about those.)

Here are the direct links to the places that are offering this promotion through the end of tomorrow evening if the above four links do not work for you:


Just Reviewed “The Great Partnership” at SBR

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Folks, this morning I was pleased to be able to review a very different type of book by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, THE GREAT PARTNERSHIP: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning over at Shiny Book Review (SBR for short, as always).  Sacks’ thought is clear, compelling, and extremely interesting . . . but some of what he says will almost certainly annoy you as well.

That’s the main reason I call this a very different type of book, because religious scholasticism very rarely is either this understandable or with as many points of contention.  Sacks explains things so well that most readers should get the gist of what he’s saying, but of course this particular book will work best for scholars of comparative religion and/or people who believe science and religion are far from incompatible.

Mind you, as I said in my review, Sacks is not the first to make many of these arguments.  The author of many of them as revised for 20th Century thought is Mircea Eliade, who died in 1986.  But Sacks is the first to do these ideas justice in a way that many people will find comprehensible, as Eliade’s thought processes are sometimes so opaque that other religious scholars and philosophers (as Eliade was both, just as Sacks himself is both) are still arguing over it all these years after Eliade’s death.

But Sacks is the first to make the argument that some of the odd dichotomies in the Christian New Testament are due to one thing: that the thought behind the New Testament was obviously Hebraic in origin (from the Hebrew language, in short), but the New Testament was actually written and popularized in Greek.  What that means in the shortest form possible is this: Anyone who reads the Christian Bible In English (or any other contemporary language) is reading a translation of a translation.

For that insight alone, you should read Sacks’ THE GREAT PARTNERSHIP.

But be warned: Sacks does not like many aspects of contemporary life, and he’s not shy about saying so.  Sacks is against same-sex marriage.  He’s against what he persists in calling “abortion on demand,” a highly inflammatory statement.  And he’s against assisted suicide, even if done by doctors on terminally ill people, calling it “euthanasia.”

Still, this is an important book that allows people who believe in science and religion to feel good about their beliefs.  And as such, I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Now, will you please go read my review?  Then, if the book intrigues you, go to the library and get it.  (Or better yet, buy a copy, as it’s now out in paperback.)

And do let me know what you think of it, once you’ve read it.  (Either one.)


Jeff Passan Owes Baseball Fans an Apology

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What is wrong with Yahoo Sports writer Jeff Passan?

Passan wrote yet another column condemning Ryan Braun this past Sunday, despite this new column being at least the fourth such column in the past month.  This seems excessive under the circumstances, as a number of other baseball players, including Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers, Everth Cabrera of the San Diego Padres, and Jhonny Peralta of the Cleveland Indians are also suspended, while Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees continues to play pending his upcoming appeal of a lengthy, 211-game suspension.

Anyway, Passan’s newest column on Braun cited an ESPN report that said Braun had supposedly lobbied fellow MLB players prior to his successful appeal regarding the reportedly high level of testosterone in his urine sample.  ESPN’s slant was that Braun was perhaps looking for support from his fellow players as Braun was prepared to lose his hearing.  According to ESPN’s original report, Braun supposedly told several unnamed players that the urine specimen collector, Dino Laurenzi, Jr., was both a “Cubs fan” and an “anti-Semite.”  But when Braun unexpectedly won, that lobbying wasn’t needed.

However, Passan’s column as initially reported said that Braun had told specific big-name players such as Troy Tulowitzki of the Colorado Rockies and Joey Votto these very same allegations.  (The inference in both columns, of course, was that Braun had said that Laurenzi, Jr., had it in for Braun.)  And because Passan’s column named these names, it made this particular report sound that much more compelling.

Then came the reports here and here that stated that neither Tulowitzki nor Votto had spoken with Braun about this particular matter.  And that Braun had most emphatically not slandered the urine collector in any way as far as either one of them knew.

So, what should you do as a writer when something this big blows up in your face?  Most people would print a retraction and an additional article saying, in effect, “Sorry.  I/we screwed up, and it won’t happen again if we can help it.”

But that’s not exactly what Passan did here, though he did back off a few of the worst of the allegations against Braun: first reported that Braun had reached out to fellow players. While Yahoo! Sports previously reported Braun had contacted Joey Votto and Troy Tulowitzki, on Monday they denied having any conversations with Braun about test collector Dino Laurenzi Jr.  (emphasis mine — BC)

Note that this slight backing off seems to be blaming ESPN’s initial report, which is silly at best because it wasn’t ESPN who named Tulowitzki and Votto as being among the players Braun had supposedly reached out to for support — it was Jeff Passan himself.

Worse yet, other reports are still being written that are going off the original source material, including this one from UT-San Diego, which was written one short day ago.

Look.  I understand why Passan felt the need to write his column, at least in part.  ESPN had put out a report.  Yahoo wanted to have its own story.  Passan wrote it because, quite frankly, he cannot abide Ryan Braun (he’s previously called Braun a “cockroach”) and Passan, being a baseball writer who fully understands what’s going on with regards to the 2013 suspensions for performance-enhancing drug use, was probably the best person to write this particular column.

Where Passan erred was when he decided to name Tulowitzki and Votto without getting quotes from them on the record.  Both players are among the biggest names in baseball; Tulowitzki came in second to Braun in the 2007 Rookie of the Year Award, while Votto won the Most Valuable Player award in 2010.

So when Passan named them without quotes, he had to know that fallout was possible.  Yet for some strange reason, that didn’t seem to bother him at all.


What Passan did wasn’t a small error.  Instead, this was a big, fat, huge error considering Passan’s name, his reputation, and the fact that he has thousands upon thousands of people reading his columns every single day.  That’s why whatever Passan ends up reporting on any given day needs to be above reproach.

Passan screwed up by naming two players who apparently had absolutely no contact with Braun whatsoever regarding this issue without checking his sources and making sure they were unimpeachable.  And thus far, Passan has failed to offer one shred of reasoning as to why he, Jeff Passan, did this at all, when Passan had to know they would both be asked about these allegations . . . especially considering that Passan obviously had no idea what these men were going to say.

If Jeff Passan didn’t realize that these two men were going to deny these allegations, much less in the heartfelt way both men picked to do so — Tulowitzki and Votto are known as straight shooters — why on Earth did he print such inflammatory allegations?

While the slight clarification currently in the Yahoo Sports article by Passan (referenced above) is better than nothing, it is extremely puzzling that Passan would not print an apology under these circumstances.

Because really and truly, Passan owes all baseball fans an apology.  His report regarding Braun’s apparent slander was inflammatory.  He couldn’t back it up — in fact, it was roundly denied by two of the people Passan sourced in his original column as supposedly being upset and offended by Braun’s reported remarks — and then, he only had the wit to partly backtrack and blame ESPN instead for ESPN’s initial report?

I’m sorry.  That does not cut it.

Writers must have integrity.  Honesty.  Believability.  And be able to tell a fair and accurate story, especially when it comes to nonfiction sports writing and current events . . . otherwise, the writer in question has nothing at all.

We all know this, as writers.  Which is why most writers would’ve apologized for making a mistake of this magnitude immediately.

Otherwise, why would you want to trust us, or believe that we’re giving you the best information possible on any given day?

Whenever we fail, as writers, we must own up to it.

I don’t care if there are one thousand people in baseball who think exactly what Jeff Passan reported . . . if Passan hadn’t named names, he’d be in the clear.  But he did, he was wrong, and he should apologize.  Profusely.

And if he refuses to apologize, I have only one more question for you: Why on Earth should we believe anything else Jeff Passan ever says?


**Note: Both the ESPN report and the column written by Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports have been updated to reflect the record that both Tulowitzki and Votto have denied these specific allegations.  ESPN’s report quite properly credits Passan’s Yahoo sports column for making those direct allegations.

How the World has Changed Since 1999

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Folks, I don’t often write much about the changes I’ve seen during my lifetime . . . in fact, to the best of my knowledge, this is the first time I’ve ever written about this particular subject before.  Yet it came to mind because yesterday would’ve been my Grandma’s 103rd birthday, had she lived . . . as she died in 1999, I thought I’d talk about what I’ve seen happen in the world since then, the good and the bad alike, and reflect on what my Grandma might’ve thought about it all.

First, Grandma would’ve been utterly horrified by 9/11.  She’d have been shocked that anyone had been able to do something like that on American soil.  She’d have been livid that our various “alphabet agencies” (the NSA, the FBI, the CIA, etc.) all got caught with their pants down.

But she’d also have seen the Patriot Act as an overreaction.  She’d have cheered our Wisconsin Senator, Russ Feingold (a D), for his principled opposition — the only Senator to oppose it, I might add — but she’d have wondered what the world was coming to when the United States had to start spying on its own citizens in a way that could no longer be hidden or swept under the rug as a “necessary evil,” instead being brought out into the sunlight as something that was “right and proper,” something that every right-thinking American should want in order to prevent more terrorism.

The lack of privacy would be something that deeply upset my Grandma, who was a very private person.  That the government has admitted to spying on its own citizens (albeit supposedly in a limited way) through the Patriot Act and now through the revelations caused by NSA leaker Edward Snowden would be quite distasteful to her.  But that there are so many cameras on street corners, at street lights, that everyone and his brother seems to have a cell phone complete with camera available to take pictures at a moment’s notice . . . that the police, in many states, now use computers to run license plates of everyone on the road, including those who’ve done nothing wrong whatsoever, or worse, tape people’s license plates as their cars are sitting in their own driveways, would weigh heavily on her heart, too.

I think she’d wonder, “What have we given up in order to use all this high-tech stuff?  And can we ever get our privacy back after all this?”

One positive thing that’s changed that my Grandma would probably have appreciated is the rise of e-books (and the technology to read them), as putting type in bold face and larger fonts would’ve been something that greatly appealed to her.  She’d have been pleased about people reading anything, as she believed fervently in the power of reading in order to help anyone educate him or herself in order to do whatever we want to do.  And she’d probably think that this was one aspect where technology had greatly improved life for the better . . . or at least had the capacity to do so.

Grandma would’ve been quite bemused by the ascent of cellular phones, which were around in 1999 but in a much less usable fashion.  She’d have wondered a whole lot about this phenomenon of “texting,” which wouldn’t have made any sense to her.  (She understood e-mail as a type of telegraphy, which makes as much sense as anything else to someone born in 1910.  And she saw computers as helpful to businesses, but something that had no practical value to herself or her family.)  She’d have wondered even more about the people who get behind the wheel of a car but cannot keep themselves from texting while driving.

The way people go on and on when talking on their cell phones, as if their conversations were in a private room rather than, say, in the middle of a Wal-mart would be distressing to her also.   She used to watch the Jerry Springer show, and she’d tell me all the time that people seemed to have lost their moorings — a different way to say that people didn’t seem to know where their boundaries should start, or end.  Well, half the conversations I’ve unwittingly overheard in the grocery store, or in the pharmacy, or on the street corner make me blush . . . and though Grandma might not have blushed the same way I do when I hear such things, she’d definitely have wanted to give the person (or people) using the cell phone a piece of her mind.

Grandma would not have understood Twitter, Facebook, or much about instant messaging.  (I tried to explain to her about IMs before she died.)  She probably would’ve accepted something like Skype as video conferencing has been around for at least the past forty years (though it used to be far rarer and quite a bit more expensive than it is now), but she’d never have used it herself.

The plethora of people sending digital pictures to all and sundry would have made her shake her head, too.  (I can hear her now.  “Whatever happened to privacy?  Don’t these people care that everyone else knows all their business?”)

And this phenomenon where people seem to have to record any event, whether it’s a wedding, a funeral, a baseball game, or the running of the bulls in Pamplona, from all angles and from every viewpoint possible . . . well, let’s just say she definitely wouldn’t have understand that, either.

In other words, most of what has changed since 1999 has to do with technology.  But some of what’s changed has to do with mindset.  And while technology will come and go, mindsets usually do not change very often, which is why the changes that I’ve described would be extremely distressing to her.

How we get back to a mindset that says to the world, in essence, “Yes, I’m out here.  Yes, I have a Web presence.  But no, I’m not going to share everything with you.  Sorry, my private life is none of your business” is something that I will continue to ponder.

Why?  Well, I look at it this way . . . my Grandma was no fool.  She believed strongly that a person had a right to keep her own counsel and that whatever you shared with her should go no further.

A life where everyone shared everything with everyone, all the time, would be looked at in horror by my Grandma as a specific type of Hell.

And as we get closer to such a society with every new technological gadget that comes down the pike (such as that Google “everywhere” headset, which made absolutely no sense to me whatsoever as people shouldn’t be walking and be on the Internet at the same time as it’s too dangerous to do both for 99.9% of the population), I can’t say that I disagree.

Written by Barb Caffrey

August 14, 2013 at 7:40 am

Just Reviewed Lackey and Edghill’s “Sacrifices” at SBR

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Folks, if you don’t regularly read my book reviews, I’d be really astonished.  (Well, those who aren’t following me simply for my insights, often trenchant, on the Milwaukee Brewers, that is.)  That’s the main reason I try to post something here when I write a new one.

Anyway, I’m very short on time right now, but I did get up a book review this evening for the excellent young adult urban fantasy by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill, SACRIFICES.  This is book three in their Shadow Grail series, which deals with Arthurian myth (I called it “neo-Arthurian” as this series fuses the best of what’s great about urban fantasy and the best of historicity, in case anyone’s wondering how I came up with that) along with self-sacrifice and a whole lot of other interesting concepts.

If you love urban fantasy, mystery, Arthurian legend/history, or just admire the writing of Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill, you want to read this book, soonest.  (Trust me.)  Not your typical “middle series” book by any means, this book is a non-stop thrill-ride (unfortunately, as I’d already used that term for another of their books, DEAD RECKONING, I didn’t think I should use it in the review, variety being the spice of life and all that) that will keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end.

So I figured that before I went off to tonight’s rehearsal with the Racine Concert Band (for Sunday’s free concert at the Racine Zoo; I’m playing alto saxophone), I’d get something up for the review, then write a very quick blog post about it.

Anyway, go read my review, then go grab the book!

Quick Writing Update (and Other Stuff)

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Folks, I’ve been working on a short story for an anthology this past week.  Between that and editing, I just haven’t had time to do anything else — no books got reviewed over at Shiny Book Review (SBR), no blogs got written since early last week, and even though I’ve had much to say as there have been plenty of targets (Wisconsin’s R Governor Scott Walker actually had the nerve to compare himself to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, if you can believe that), I just haven’t had the time or energy to spare for blogging.

However, as I have sent off my story to a friend for a quick read-over, I have enough time to comment very quickly on a few things.  So here goes:

I think it’s ridiculous that people are praising Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig for his “vision” and “good sense” in suspending a number of baseball players today, the most high profile player of the lot being Alex Rodriguez.  (The others include OF Nelson Cruz, SS Jhonny Peralta — yes, that’s how he really spells his name, it’s no misprint, and SS Everth Cabrera.)  As former Brewers pitcher (and current New York Met) LaTroy Hawkins said today on Twitter:

LaTroy Hawkins@LaTroyHawkins32 8h


And here’s my take on Bud Selig, again from Twitter:

Barb Caffrey@BarbCaffrey 6h

Already tired of people praising #BUDSELIG. He looked the other way when steroids drove baseball; he’s a hypocrite. #IHateHypocrisy

Otherwise, I’m keeping an eye on the national political scene, as per usual, even though nothing’s getting done as the House of Reps (not to mention the Senate as well) are on a five-week paid vacation right now.

My take on that?  Who the Hell else gets paid for doing absolutely nothing, then goes around telling people they’re “fighting Washington” as have the House Rs (or, if that doesn’t read well to you, the House GOP as led by Speaker John Boehner)?

I’m sorry.  If you are an elected public official, as John Boehner is, you’re not fighting Washington — you are a part of WashingtonThus, you are a part of Washington’s dysfunctional culture.  And you can either fix it, or not . . . but if you refuse, don’t be surprised when you’re thrown out the door next time around.  (Or if your own seat is saved, your position may not be — which is why Boehner is likely to be the minority leader of the House next time if his inaction and lack of leadership keeps up.)

Granted, the House Ds aren’t doing much of anything, either, save bloviating and grandstanding — but they have no power, as there are far too many Rs to make anything the Ds do worth the time.  Which is why I, personally, blame the Rs far more than I do the Ds.

Finally, I’m very glad that the current Wisconsin law as signed by Gov. Walker that restricts abortions has been placed in abeyance — that is, an injunction has been filed that blocks the law — by a federal court judge.  I think that law needs to be studied in depth before it’s implemented, if it ever is.  Because on its face, it’s yet another biased law by a bunch of people who, to be charitable, don’t seem to know what the Hell they’re talking about.

More blog updates when I have ’em . . . and thanks for reading, as always.