Category Archives: Personal

Rob’s Ramblings: ChattaCon and Stuff

Greetings all

This week is ChattaCon. It’s one of my favorite cons because Lani Brooks always gives me plenty to do. This year is no different.

Here’s my schedule:

  • Friday at 5pm (Vision A Ballroom): Martin Koszta Using History Panel (This might be the last time for a while. I’ve done it quite a few times, so I’ll stop suggesting it until I miss doing it.)
  • Friday at 8pm (Vision B Ballroom): Iron-Storyteller. This looks like a lot of fun and I wonder if we may end up wanting to run long because we’ll come up with so much stuff. However…
  • Friday at 9pm (Wisdom Boardroom: Beyond G-Rating. How much violence and sex should we include in fantasy and SF.
  • Saturday at 1pm (Vision A Ballroom): Blurring the Lines. We’ll discuss how to interweave real events in spec fiction.
  • Saturday at 4pm (Ballroom Hall): I believe this will be my author signing period. Yes, I’ll have books with me.
  • Sunday at 10am (Vision A Ballroom): Culture, Mythology, and Spirituality. Studying how cultures help fill out speculative fiction and RPGs.
  • There is also a game creation panels that I might attend, given the Shijuren RPG. It’s Principles of RPG Design run at 3pm in Vision C.

It’s going to be a great time. I love it that she keeps me hopping.

One thing that might be weird is this will be the first con I attend after Neil’s passing. His death is still reverberating among Rush fans and I’m not the only one not really over it.

I always wear Rush T-shirts at con. There are always a bunch of Rush fans at SF/F cons, of course, and I’ve always enjoyed interacting with them.

This time will be different and I’m not sure how it’ll go.

Anyway, on to other things.

Congratulations to the Chiefs and the 49ers for reaching the Super Bowl. I’m in a hard place here as a Cowboys fan living in the KC area. On the one hand, it’s the 49ers, and I never like it when they win. On the other, it’s one of the stepdaughter’s teams and if the Chiefs win, KC fans are going to be insufferable until they next get knocked out of the playoffs. And that couldn’t be any earlier than December 2020.

I guess I’ll root for the Chiefs. Andy Reid is a guy to admire, and I’d be really happy for him to win a Super Bowl with a team other than the Eagles. Yes, I’m petty. But the Eagles fans deserve all that and more.

Anyway, we’ll have a Super Bowl party here. I generally have had one. Last year was the exception because of moving about. Hopefully, the stepdaughter can have the night off from work, but if not, we’ll make a mini version of her and sit her right in front of the TV.

Also exciting is the result of the Dragon 9/Crew Dragon test. It looks like we’re almost to the point of crewed missions for that platform.

I’ve long believed, and circumstances are proving me right, than private industry would be the real path to space. NASA has certain uses, but commercial ventures can do things NASA can’t, and do them at a much faster rate.

I would really like to see humanity have a solid and stable presence in space before I pass along the mortal coil. Dragon could make that happen.

Well, enough of all that. Back to writing in None Call Me Mother. Making progress.

Rob’s Ramblings: 40 Seconds to LOS

There are times and places we all remember. Where the impact is so powerful that we are irrevocably changed.

Friday afternoon, I had one of those moments. I was standing in the checkout line at Wal-Mart idly flipping through Twitter while I waited. That’s where and when I found out Neil Peart had passed away.

I’ve tried to write this post ever since then. I’ve failed. What you’re reading isn’t correct. It doesn’t hold all that I need it to. I don’t know how to make it better, though I’m sure things will come to me.

However, I need to say something now, even if it’s not quite right.

****

I can’t remember a single earthshaking moment when Neil Peart became a shaping factor in my life, but I can credit the person who made it happen: Ted Shellhamer. We’d connected over sports and other shared things, but that year he got excited about a new record by Rush.

Moving Pictures had Tom Sawyer, which everyone remembers and which we loved too, but there was so much more. However, it was when Ted gave me stuff from A Farewell to Kings, Hemispheres, and Permanent Waves that I really started to love Rush almost as much as he did.

The title track to Hemispheres, with its blend of science fiction and Greek mythology combined with intricately woven lyrics that wrapped back around themselves blew me away. Natural Science did the same thing. And like so many others Closer to the Heart got to me.

It seeped into me, teaching me slowly and thoroughly. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve listened to a Rush album, I always seem to learn something new. It is comforting to know I still have lessons to learn from Neil even though he’s gone.

I bought all the cassettes. Exit… Stage Left was my favorite because I got to hear Tom Sawyer and the Trees and The Spirit of the Radio all on one tape! Plus 9 other great songs. What could be better?

I’ll tell you what could be better: Signals followed by Grace Under Pressure followed by Hold Your Fire followed by Presto and so on. Best yet are the three albums of Rush 2.0, Vapor Trails, Snakes and Arrows, and Clockwork Angels.

19 studio albums all told. 19 different styles. 19 different kinds of awesome. 19 wonderful collections we are lucky to have.

****

It’s hard to describe how awesome it was to me that this music was so incredibly powerful and talked about things that fascinated me. On the one hand I could bang my head to it as much as anything else out there, but on the other hand it always made me think. Not just about mythology and science fiction, but poetry and history and philosophy and all sorts of things that I kept getting told were so utterly uncool yet I still desperately craved.

And still do, for that matter, even more than ever.

School was an awful place for me, as it was for so many. I had some good and great teachers. I had some not.

One administrator dealt fairly with me, Roel Quintanilla. He was it.  Other than that, I was fair game to all the other students because they knew I was the one who’d get in trouble, even if I wasn’t the source of the problem. I was bigger than many, frustrated, angry, and too damn intelligent to fit in those round holes they tried to fit me into. I will never forgive Katie McHenry, by the way, for explicitly telling me it was OK for girls to punch me. That it was my fault for saying anything that prompted them to punch me.  It’s been nearly 40 years for some of these things, yet I am still shaking in rage at the things she and other administrators let happen to me.

I never snapped, though. Not completely, at least. I did go off a few times, which at least had the benefit of making other students a bit wary about me.

I didn’t snap because I have great parents.

I also had Neil’s lyrics telling me that it was OK to be different.

The easy song to point to is Subdivisions of course, with its line “conform or be cast out.” But Witch Hunt was there too, showing me I was merely the target of humanity’s mob mentality. The Trees told me that I could conform, but only if I wished to give up way too much. 2112 told me that those damned administrators didn’t really know anything.

I could be different and yet the magic of life could still be within my grasp!

****

My life hasn’t really gone to plan. I was a good IT pro, and in some ways I regret leaving that line of work. It’s certainly easier than writing and it pays better.  But I’ve always struggled within that round hole of a 40-hour work week.

I thought at one time that academia would be the place for me. I didn’t have the rigid schedule chafing at me year after year and I could push my brain into ever cooler things.

But the academic world is worse than high school ever was. “Conform or be cast out” isn’t just a society thing there, it’s the professional motto.

I’m so glad I didn’t get my Ph.D. I’m proud of my research and what would have been my dissertation. I’m pleased with the skills I learned. I clearly enjoyed the publish or perish part of it all. I am pleased that my academic career mined out the useful parts of that world while I remained Rob.

In 2012, the week my second wife left me and right about when I realized I’d also broken up with academia, Rush released Clockwork Angels.

It’s a tour-de-force album. It has all the energy and passion of Moving Pictures, 2112, and Permanent Waves, but with all the skill and growth of their entire career. It’s the best album ever made. Not just by Rush, but ever.

Thank goodness for that album.

Kate had seemed like a miracle to me. Beautiful and smart and many wonderful things, but we didn’t fit as much as we thought. We had a great wedding (I entered that day to Rush’s Malignant Narcissism), but the marriage… well… we had the best wedding ever.

The chorus of The Wreckers on Clockwork Angels is:

All I know is that sometimes you have to be wary
Of a miracle too good to be true
All I know is that sometimes the truth is contrary
Everything in life you thought you knew
All I know is that sometimes you have to be wary
Because sometimes the target is you

And there it was, Rush saving me again. She was too good to be true, and that just happens. What’s important is where we go from here.

So I did what Neil had done. I hit the road. In my case, it wasn’t a motorcycle or a bike, it was the idiotic whimsy of walking the Offa’s Dyke trail in Wales. I packed up my phantoms, I shouldered my invisible load, and I haunted a wilderness road. I was a Ghost Walker.

I’m proud to be Kate’s friend now and I’m so glad we met. I listen to Malignant Narcissism happily remembering the joys of our time together and the lessons I’ve learned. The same is true of Holly, my first wife (Vapor Trails was there after she and I split, by the way). I never married Maerwynn, again because I screwed up, but I can’t imagine her not being in my life.

Headlong Flight on Clockwork Angels says what I feel about my marriages, my other sweeties along the way like Maerwynn, and all the other things which didn’t turn out like I expected:

All the treasures, the gold and glory
It didn’t always feel that way
I don’t regret it – I’ll never forget it
I wouldn’t trade tomorrow for today

Some days were dark
I wish that I could live it all again
Some nights were bright
I wish that I could live it all again

****

I wasn’t really salvaged after breaking up with Kate and academia until mom pushed me into writing, but it felt like a squarish hole when she suggested it. I’ve grown since then and I realized some time ago that’s partly because Neil’s lyrics made me think about writing all along.

My one regret of my writing career is that I started at 46. I wish I’d at least started writing on the side when Neil was first making me think about weaving words in intricate and lovely patterns.

I’ve been blessed with wonderful parents. I’ve had a lot of wonderful other people in my life along the way, including Holly, Kate, and Maerwynn. I never met Neil and yet, outside of my parents and my significant others, I would hard pressed to name another single person who mattered most in my life than Neil.

I don’t know where I would have been had Rush not been there for me. Neil’s lyrics have always held back the worst of whatever depresses me. Often enough I haven’t enjoyed my thoughts about myself, but Neil convinced me I had to look at them as honestly as I could. I had to learn to keep on riding North and East and circling South and West. Or, as I say when talking about writing, keep on plugging away.

I’m here and better than ever and that would never have happened if Neil hadn’t made me think.

****

How does one pay that back? I never had a great answer.

I always hoped one day I’d run into Neil at a random restaurant on the road. I wouldn’t have talked to him, but I would have slid my card over to the waitress in a heartbeat and bought dinner for him and all his guests, whatever the price. Giving out food and drink is my way of saying thanks, as many who’ve camped near me at SCA events have probably figured out.

It was the best compromise I could dream of. In my dream I wouldn’t say a word to him. I wouldn’t enter within his Limelight, so to speak, but I’d have said thanks in the truest way I know how. Especially since any words that ever said to him would have bothered and embarrassed him. Simply buying his dinner or lunch would have bothered him more than I’m really comfortable with, in all actuality, but it was the only compromise I could think of.

****

I sit here in the best time of my Headlong Flight. I have the right person in my life. I am doing the thing I should have been doing all along. I’m happier with myself as a person than I have ever been.

I know dark days will come, but I also know Neil will be there helping me push through them. Bright nights will also come and Neil will be there helping my celebrate them.

I tried to write this without using too many of Neil’s lyrics. It’s hard because it’s those lyrics that mattered the most to me. It’s also hard because his language patterns flow into my hands when I’m writing. Believe me, I could have written this entire thing with powerful lyrics in every paragraph.

But I needed this to be at least partially from me. It’s what Neil would expect.

I’m going to conclude this with words from a Rush song which he didn’t write. These are words exchanged between Ground Control and the Columbia during the first space shuttle launch, which Rush immortalized in Countdown.

“Columbia, Houston, we have 40 seconds to LOS
you’re looking good burning over the hill, we will see you in Madrid.”

“And we enjoyed the music, Bob, thank you.”

“We enjoyed it, just wanted to share some with you.”

Neil shared his music and writing with us and now we’ve lost his signal. We enjoyed it, Neil, and we thank you.

I don’t know if there’s a Madrid over the hill, but if there is, I’m going to buy Neil that dinner.

Rob’s Update: Trouble in the Wind

Week 49 of 2019

Greetings all

Trouble in the Wind is live! Sixteen stories of ground warfare that might have been. My story is “Here Must We Hold” about the Battle of Maldon.

You can find an excerpt of my story here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1899.

Trouble in the Wind
Trouble in the Wind

I’m quite pleased with the story. I’m honored to have been given the opportunity to contribute. I’m absolutely stoked I get to be in a book with David Weber, Kevin J. Anderson, and S.M. Stirling, among others.

I made some progress on None Call Me Mother. Much of it wasn’t in words written, but rather cleaning up. I’m at that stage where I need to go back through it all to firm up the earlier chapters, fill in some connections, and make sure I’m ready for the final chapters.

What I mostly did was write another short story. I’ll tell you all about it when it’s about to go out the door. I also made progress on another project. All in all, a good week, even if it doesn’t show up in the raw numbers.

I also spent a goodly amount of time cleaning house. This is Kris Kinder Weekend, which means I have a big sales event then host everyone after the event.

It’s one of my favorite weekends of the year, but I’ll be exhausted on Sunday. It’s a fair trade.

What I’m Listening To

La Villa Strangiato by Rush. Such a great song.

Quote of the Week

This week’s quote is the inspiration for my story’s title. Thanks to Rosalind Jehanne for granting me permission to use it.

Here must we hold     So hearken to my counsel
Felled is our lord     Slain by foemen on the field
Now we must honor     The oaths we made in mead-hall
Now we must shoulder     The burden of his shield
– Rosalind Jehanne

It’s one of my favorite songs. You can find the complete lyrics to her song here: http://www.calonsong.org/CalontirSongs/battleofmaldon.htm

News and Works in Progress

  • None Call Me Mother (86,645)
  • CB (8,418)
  • SK (6,874)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on all of the great authors who participated in Trouble in the Wind. Again, you can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B082K73QPD. I think you’ll enjoy it.

Today’s Weight: 396.4

Updated Word Count: 216,398

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works
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NFL All-Time Team (Running Backs)

In honor of the NFL’s 100th season, I’m talking about its best players. For more details and links to all the other positions, click here:  http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1833.

In this episode I’m talking about running backs. The NFL has chosen 24 finalists for 12 all-time running back spots. Here’s their list, including a small biography of each player: http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000001078454/article/running-back-finalists-announced-for-alltime-team

As mentioned in the main post on the topic, I’m breaking this down into 4 sections. My all-time team, which is organized actually as a team, then the remaining choices I think the NFL should make for their all-time team, then the finalists who don’t make the cut, and finally some interesting players at this position who weren’t finalists.

All-Time Team Roster Choices

Jim Brown is, clearly, the best running back the NFL has ever seen. He averaged more yards per game than anyone else (104.3). He played in an era of 12 or 14 games per season and he quit while he still had years to play. Had he played a few more years and/or played in 16 game seasons, he might still have more yards than anyone else. He led the NFL in rushing in 8 out of 9 years. He  *only* got 996 yards in the other year. In 1963 he *averaged* 133 yards per game, rushing for 6.4 yards per carry. This is ridiculous. He rushed for 5.2 yards per carry for his career. It’s ridiculous. He was also really good at catching passes. He’d be my RB1.

Barry Sanders, ironically, also retired before he had to. As a Cowboys fan it is no shame to say that Emmitt wasn’t as good as Barry. We’ll get to Emmitt soon enough, but Barry averaged more yards per carry and more yards per game. In fact, Barry is second to Brown in yards per game at 99.8. You might note that as good as that number is, it’s 4.5 yards per game less than Brown. Brown is just that far ahead of anyone, but Barry is a worthy next guy down. He’d be the speedy HB type RB2.

Lenny Moore: I’m putting him in the top 12 because of efficiency. He never once led the league in rushing. In fact, he never broke 1000 yards. However, he was the premier pass-catching RB of his time and maybe of all time. He led the league in yards per carry 4 times, 3 times getting 7 yards per carry or more. He led the league in yards per touch 6 times. *Six!* Also, he led the league in yards from scrimmage once. This guy was a huge weapon in the passing game in 50s and 60s, including getting over 70 yards per game in receiving yards for his career. This is my 3rd down back, because I don’t know there’s been a better receiving back ever.

Gale Sayers makes the team because he’s a home run hitter who could attack the other team as a runner, receiver, and returner. He led the NFL in his first 3 years in all-purpose yards. He led the NFL in rushing twice and in yards from scrimmage one of those years. It’s a true shame that he got hurt, because he averaged 5 yards a carry as a runner, 14.5 yards per punt return, and 30 yards per kickoff return, all stellar numbers in his short career. He gets on the team as my hybrid player and return specialist.

He doesn’t qualify as one of the top twelve RBs, but of the remaining players on this list, Bronko Nagurski would be the one I would add if I took a 5th RB on my 53-man roster. He’d be the lead fullback, backup OL, and play on coverage teams. I’ll talk about him more later.

Jim Thorpe would also get consideration here as RB and DB, but he’s tough case as I’ll talk about later. I also kind of think it would be fun to think of him as a gunner on the punt coverage team.

NFL All-Time Team

Eric Dickerson: Some critics thought he wouldn’t succeed because of his upright running style, but I remember how smoothly he glided through defenses. His career faded some at the end, but in his first six years he led the NFL in rushing 4 times, rushing 3 times for more than 1800 yards. I don’t think anyone else has more than that, though OJ Simpson did it twice.

Marshall Faulk: This man dominated as a receiver as well as a RB. Faulk never led the NFL in rushing, but he led the league in Total yards twice. He caught 767 passes, 2nd most among RBs, for 6875 yards, most among RBs. He was also extremely efficient as a RB, leading the league in yards per carry three times and  exceeding 1000 yards 7 times.

Harold “Red” Grange: This is a hard pick to justify because the most we know he rushed for in a year is 277 yards. However, we don’t know what he got in his first 5 years because the stats weren’t kept. However, his impact on the NFL was incredible. It’s not a stretch to say he might be the single most important player to the success of the NFL. It was Grange that turned pro football from a game that only the lower classes played into a game everyone could watch and play without scorn.

Walter Payton: For most of his career, he was the Bears offense. Those teams were bad, but he was consistently good to great, and he is 6th in yards per game at 88 yards per game. He did whatever the team needed. He was skilled at HB option passes at a time when few teams dared anything like that. He even punted once. He was really good catching out of the backfield. I’d take him on my team ahead of Emmitt because he’d have been an amazing special teams player and would adjust to whatever role the team needed. Oddly, though, he only led the league in rushing once, which surprised me when I saw that. Side note: The best offensive player in the NCAA FCS each season receives the Walter Payton Award.

OJ Simpson is a tragic/horrific figure now, but he was an incredibly good RB. In 1973 he rushed for 2003 yards in *14* games. That’s 143 yards per game. From 1972 to 1976 he led the NFL in rushing 4 out of the 5 years. He averaged 110 yards per game during that time. His early years and later years came nowhere close to that peak, but wow he was good during those years.

Emmitt Smith: He did everything well except he was not terribly fast. If he had had breakaway speed he would be up there with Brown, I think. He was, in my mind, the most consistent RB. Sanders got his yards in bigger chunks, with a much higher percentage of negative carries. Smith, on the other hand, relied on consistent positive yardage and 10-20 yard carries. Also, he was a good receiver, and played one of the greatest games I’ve seen a player have. In the final game of 1993, the Cowboys played the Giants where the winner won the division. Emmitt hurt his shoulder, but he kept playing. He owned that game, rushing 32 times for 168 yards with 10 catches for 61 more yards. All this and for most of the game he couldn’t lift his arm above his shoulder. Incredible game.

Thurman Thomas never led the league in rushing yet he’s an easy choice for one of the top 12 because he led the NFL in yards from scrimmage 4 years in a row. He consistently rushed for over 1000 yards (8 years in a row) while also being a major threat as a pass-catcher.

LaDainian Tomlinson was another combination player, leading the league in rushing twice and all-purpose yards in another year. He was an efficient runner and a major threat out of the backfield. He was also efficient as a thrower, running the halfback option 12 times, completing 8 for 7 TDs. That’s really good, actually.

Finalists Who Didn’t Make The Top Team

Marcus Allen: Really good receiving RB, but only exceeding 1000 yards rushing 3 times and only had one great year.

Jerome Bettis: Consistent production, getting over 1000 yards 8 times. However, he only had 1 great year and was not efficient, finishing with a career 3.9 yards per carry.

Earl Campbell: This one surprises me. If you had asked me of the most dominant RBs, he would be right at the top. He led the league in rushing his first three years in the league. However, he’s also a symbol how RBs can get overused. He had over 1400 carries in his first 4 years. His career was never the same. His early years make him a deserving finalist, but I actually picked Thurman Thomas over him.

Earl “Dutch” Clark: It’s really hard to compare players from the early part of the NFL, but I don’t think he gets there. He led the NFL in TDs 3 times, but never led the league in rushing. Used as a passer quite often, but not particularly good at it, even for the era. He was also a tremendous defensive back, leading the NFL in interceptions twice. Hard to figure his place here.

Tony Dorsett: I really thought about him on the all-time roster above even though he never led the league in rushing. However, he was one of the greatest home run hitters in NFL history. I don’t know that he’s the only person to have both a run of over 90 yards and a catch of over 90 yards in his career. I also don’t know that he’s not. Tom Landry controlled his carries so he never got huge raw numbers, but that might have extended his career. Certainly, he remained efficient to later in his career.

Franco Harris: Like Bettis, he was really consistent, but rarely excellent. Led the league in TDs in 1976. That’s his only time leading the league. A deserved Hall of Famer, but because he was very good for a long time, not because he was dominant.

Hugh McElhenny: Here was an underrated player. Breakaway speed meant he was a threat as a receiver and returner as well as a rusher. His receiving stats in the 1950s were astounding, and he finished with 264 catches for 12.3 yards per catch. That’s really really good. However, he never led the NFL is rushing, though he did lead it in average in his rookie year.

Marion Motley: He’s a hard one to judge. He only led the league in rushing twice, never exceeding 1000 yards. However, he was a star for a Cleveland Browns team that won the title six times in a row. I think he’s a hell of a player, but I don’t think he makes the cut.

Bronko Nagurski: A great player and a versatile one. He’d actually be on my list of top players in NFL history, but not top RBs. He actually was a top-flight tackle for a while and a tough linebacker. I’d want him on my team, no doubt, but it’s hard to put him as one of the best RBs because the highest total he achieved in a year that we know of is 586. He might have gotten more, but we don’t have yardage totals for his first two years. Side note: The best defender in the NCAA each season receives the Bronko Nagurski Award.

Adrian Peterson: A great RB, and one who led the league in rushing three times. Yet I don’t think he quite matches up with the rest. He had some great years but injuries and inconsistency put him in this tier as opposed to the top tier. I suspect recency bias will make him one of the top 12 chosen, but I’d rather have those listed above over him.

Jim Taylor: A great player who was a part of some amazing Packer teams, winning the title 5 times. He led the league in rushing once, and had 5 years of over 1000 yards. He just doesn’t quite make the cut. However, he might very well be the 2nd best fullback of all-time behind Brown.

Steve Van Buren: I originally put him in the top section. He didn’t have a long career, but man was he good, especially for his era. He led the league in rushing 4 times in his first 6 years. He eclipsed 1000 yards twice at a time when the season was only 10 or 12 games. He led the league in yards per game 5 years in a row. A dominant player during his time. However, I bumped him in favor of Gale Sayers because of all-purpose yards.

Interesting Players to Remember

These include some players who aren’t necessarily the greatest, but have some intriguing qualities.

Larry Centers: A fantastic fullback who got more receptions as a RB than anyone else.

Jamaal Charles: Incredibly efficient as a rusher, getting 5.4 yards per carry for his career. Amazing.

Paddy Driscoll: We have almost no stats for the guy, but he was selected as 1st Team All-Pro 6 times in the 20s. Also the first All-Pro QB (yes, QB, it was a different time) in NFL history.

Frank Gifford: Not really close to being one of the finalists, but it’s fun to remember how good he was as an all-purpose back before becoming a great announcer.

Priest Holmes: Had a ridiculous 3 year stretch with over 2000 yards from scrimmage each year and 2 years of over 20 rushing TDs.

Bo Jackson: If he had stayed healthy and played only football, he might have been Jim Brown. Maybe even better. Averaged 5.4 yards per carry for his career.

Curtis Martin: one of the most consistent RBs ever. Never a big game-breaker, his only averaged 4.0 yards per carry. Only led the NFL in rushing once. However, he was over 1000 yards 10 straight years. In those 10 years he had at least 1456 total yards each year. What a player.

Ernie Nevers: We have no idea how many yards he got as records weren’t kept. Also, he only played 5 years. However, he was a scoring machine, in one case scoring all 40 points for the Chicago Cardinals.

Joe Perry: A dominant RB in the late 40s and 50s. Led the league in yards twice.

Darren Sproles: Whaaa? I can hear you all asking about this. However, this guy got a ton of all-purpose yards, including the most ever in a single year and 4 of the top 60 years all-time. A fantastic receiver, a slippery runner (4.9 yards per carry for his career), and a terrifying punt returner.

Jim Thorpe: What to do with him? He was clearly one of the greatest football players of all time and in the discussion for best athlete ever. However, none of his rushing stats were recorded and he was 33 the first year of the NFL. That meant his best years were long gone by the time we actually have an NFL. We have no good way to judge his career using statistics, meaning we have to used anecdotal evidence. He may not have been a great NFL player, given his age when the league starting, but it’s hard not to think he doesn’t have a place in the all-time team somewhere. We might see him appear in the DB list, but I doubt it. Side note: he was actually the NFL’s first president while actually playing. Side note two: The best DB in the NCAA each season receives the Jim Thorpe Award.

Doak Walker: Was a better college player than NFL RB, but he was a prolific kicker as well as a solid RB. Averaged 4.9 yards per carry and 16.7 yards per reception. He was also a very good returner and a solid defensive back. Side note: The best RB in the NCAA each season receives the Doak Walker Award.

NFL All-Time Team Main Post

This is the NFL’s 100th season and, rightfully, they’re doing a bunch of things to celebrate the past century. As part of this, they’re selecting an all-time team. I’m going to join in and, generally speaking, follow their format.

Below is how they’re constructing their team. If the position is a hyperlink, it will take you to my discussion on the position.

Offense

  • Quarterbacks: 10
  • Running Backs: 12
  • Wide Receivers: 10
  • Tight Ends: 5
  • Tackles: 7
  • Guards: 7
  • Centers: 4

Defense

  • Defensive Ends: 7
  • Defensive Tackles: 7
  • Linebackers: 12 (6 MLB/ILB; 6 OLB)
  • Cornerbacks: 7
  • Safeties: 6
  • Kickers: 2
  • Punters: 2
  • Kick Returners: 2

They have announced the 24 finalists for running back, so I’m guessing they’ll have twice the number serve as finalists for each position. I’m going to go through each position and make my choices out of their finalists.

I’ll organize each position in four sections. First, I’ll list the players who are I think should be on the all-time NFL who make my all-time team. Unlike the NFL, I’m actually going to build a roster, so I might choose lesser players at times who can do more for a team. Second, I’ll list the remaining players who I  think should make the NFL’s all-time team in alphabetical order. Then I’ll list the finalists who don’t make the cut. Finally, I’ll list a few players that might have been finalists or who are interesting for some reason.

Interview – Chaz Kemp

Greetings all

I’m starting a new semi-regular thing. As you probably know, I do a Spotlight on some artist, author, or vendor each week in my updates. This will be an expanded version of that, where I’ll interview some great independent and up-and-coming creators. I’ll ask hard-hitting questions like “What is their favorite Muppet?”

In truth, while I’ll be phrasing this in a light-hearted way, it is my hope that these interviews will have provide a little insight in their creative process. Remember, there’s one true creative process, and it’s the one that helps you create, but that doesn’t mean one shouldn’t learn what works for others.

I’m lucky to start off with Chaz Kemp. I met Chaz as part of Pandora Celtica when they came to house for a house with Sooj Tucker. It was an amazing show, and all of them gave me a bunch of CDs. I’ve listened to those over and over, and some are on the playlist that helps me write.

However, Chaz is not only a drummer and a singer, but also an excellent artist often focusing on Steampunk themes, such as this one:

You can find his work at:

The Interview

What is your quest?

To continue creating a multi-cultural steampunk/fantasy world called Ashelon by using my own Art Nouveau styled illustrations.  We’re also including novellas and short stories written by my wife, Carolyn Kay and other authors to help flesh out that world.

I want my dream and passion for Ashelon to be something amazing that fans can really groove on.

What is your favorite color?

I love creating my art digitally by using a vector-based program called CorelDraw.  It’s like Adobe Illustrator but I find it more versatile.  Through years of honing my technique, I can make my pieces feel more natural and the colors more vibrant while still embracing the illustrative quality I love so much. 

I also enjoy the way that I can make changes to my art on the fly by switching out colors, body positioning and even the backgrounds without having to take hours or even days repainting things just to try something new.

What is the average flying speed of an unladen paint brush?

As a freelance artist, one of my biggest hurdles involved gaining respect.  I went out of my way to treat my clients with respect and kindness, but they didn’t always feel the need to reciprocate early in my career.

It took time to learn that I had the power to say ‘no’ when faced with the prospect of working with someone who wasn’t going to treat me well.  I could also say ‘no’ when a potential client didn’t want to adequately compensate me for the work I was to do for them.  As I won more awards and gained more of a reputation for doing good work, I ran into fewer problems.

Another challenge came with the frustration of trying to get in with big name companies like many of the New Age companies or table top RPG leaders. They just wouldn’t write back to me.

After talking with a few industry ‘insiders’ I discovered that most of those art directors don’t actually care about the artist or their art, all they really care about is whether they think the artist can make them money.  As an example, photo-realism is the hot style right now, so that’s all they’re interested in and those are the only artists they’re willing to hire. If I were a photo-realistic artist, all I’d ever be to them is a thing that made them money. So truthfully, getting rejected by them was actually them doing me a favor.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

I feel that while I am inspired by the Art Nouveau movement and by Alphonse Mucha in particular, I don’t directly copy him.  I take the style and make it my own.  I love that many people can see his inspiration in my work.

I’m also quite proud of the fact that several of my main characters are multi-cultural because there isn’t enough of that in the Steampunk genre.  In reality, the 1800s happened everywhere, not just in Victorian England. So why have art centered around one culture when I can explore the ideas of Steampunk in every culture? When you do that, the ideas are endless and ongoing. Not only that, but we get to have multiple cultures represented in a way that you don’t normally see them and that’s just too cool.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet?  Pepe the King Prawn – he’s quite hilarious.
  • Crunchy or Creamy?  Crunchy when it comes to peanut butter… Creamy when it comes to soup.
  • Favorite Sports Team?  Denver Nuggets all the way.
  • Cake or Pie?  Pie for sure… there are more varieties of pie and most of them are DELICIOUS!!
  • Lime or Lemon?  Lemon
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  Bean dip FTW
  • Wet or Dry?  Wet when it comes to drinks like Moscow Mules – Dry when it comes to computers and socks.
  • Favorite Musical Performer we’ve Never Heard Of? Mark King of Level 42 – he’s a good song writer and singer, but an AMAZING bass player.
  • Whisky or Whiskey?  Whiskaaaaaaaay!!
  • Steak Temperature?   Medium Well (ed. note: Sigh, it could be worse I suppose)
  • Favorite 1970s TV show?  Wonder Woman
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall?  Summer – perfect beach weather.
  • Favorite Pet?  Our cats Sif and Naira.
  • Coffee or Tea?  Coffee hands down!
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy?  Fantasy every time.  The closest I get to Sci-Fi is either cyber punk (Which is cool) or Steampunk (Which is awesome)

What question would you like to ask me?

The fact that you have SO much information about your world of Shijuren is amazing.  I’d love to develop that level of detail for my world of Ashelon!  How long did it take you to create your world and what inspired you to do it?  

My Answer: It’s not really something I do all at once. I just use whatever inspiration comes to mind. If I run across something interesting, I toss that in.

One of my most useful tools is Wikipedia’s random article button. I will literally sit in front of a football game or something like that and just click it. Every time I see something interesting, I cut and paste into a Notes document. Then, when I am looking for something, a town, a new character, inspiration for an event, whatever, I glance at that. The randomness helps keep me from doing the things I always fall back upon.

I have also had help from people like Adam Hale, who does all the maps for me. I gave him license to add geographic details and names, based on certain parameters, and that helps shape strategic and tactical choices by my characters.

I love worldbuilding. I do a little bit here, a little bit there, and then suddenly there’s a thing.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

Final question for you: What should I have asked but did not?

You should have asked, “What game are you currently grooving on?”  I would respond with Cards Against Humanity!!  We just had dinner at a friend’s house this past weekend where we played CaH and I laughed so hard, my face hurt the whole rest of the weekend.  So much fun!!

******

Speaking of fun, I enjoyed this quite a bit. I will start doing these on as many Tuesdays as I have one ready.

Thanks very much to Chaz for being the guinea pig and helping shape these questions. I know I’ll be seeing Chaz at ConQuest on Memorial Day. I suspect you’ll find us sharing a beverage at some point there.

If you are a creator, especially an independent creator, and you want to be spotlighted in a future interview, email me at rob@robhowell.org.

Also, if you want to join my mailing list, where I’ll announce every interview, as well as what’s going on in my life, go to www.robhowell.org and fill out the form (Name and Email Address) or drop me an email and I’ll add you.

Quick Thoughts on Pro Football

The NFL has proven itself time and time again that it’s blind to the wishes of the fans. It’s really frustrating how badly Goodell has mis-managed this league. In an ideal world I would replace him with Amy Trask, who has the experience, toughness, and common sense to vastly bring the league back in touch with its fans.

Side note: Follow Amy on Twitter, even if you’re not a football fan. She’s chock full of awesome.

Last night’s game between the Packers and the Lions was simply another example of the NFL’s short-sighted lack of care. There *is* a step they can make that would dramatically improve the quality of officiating, and that’s the creation of a sky judge.

It is no shame for NFL referees to admit that the speed of the modern NFL is too much for human beings to officiate. Unfortunately, it seems clear that NFL officials take it personally when a call is overturned. I get that feeling, but getting it right is more important than their ego.

I would also create full-time officials. Generally speaking, NFL referees are part-time employees. That’s ridiculous to me. The NFL said there’s no improvement from full-time officials, but as far as I know, they only tried it on a limited basis for *one* year. Not exactly a good sample size.

One point that I think might be valid is that frame-by-frame looks at plays might not be valid for many plays. They’re absolutely valid for things like whether a player gets his feet down on a catch and objective calls like that. I can see why on pass interference and such it might be less relevant. Contact 1/32nd of a second before the ball arrives isn’t worth a penalty, for example. However, you could easily stipulate that on such plays the slow motion goes at a particular speed, a balance between the challenge of officiating live at full speed and the ability to slow things down. Once that’s agreed on, the networks would be able to match it, providing us all with a standard level.

In any case, something has to be done when play after play are misjudged by officials. I understand why the two hands to the face penalties were called last night at real speed. A sky judge, with the ability to see a replay quickly, could have just as easily seen why they weren’t penalties. Taken maybe 5 seconds.

This idea of a sky judge is much closer to college football, and it is part of the XFL.

Ah, the XFL. Their draft started today, and I’m getting really excited about it. I think more than anyone else recently they’ve looked at what fans want. The rule changes look promising, including their method of handling officiating. Another promising thing is the way they’re looking at making special teams important again while still finding ways to keep players reasonably safe.

I like the XFL ideas so much, I’m actually getting two season tickets for the St. Louis Battlehawks. Ticket prices are very reasonable, actually, which is another factor of course.

Whether the XFL succeeds where the WFL, USFL, AAF, previous XFL, and all the other attempts failed remains to be seen, however, I’m pleased at the thought going into the league. I’m really hoping it’ll survive, in part, because I love football and want a successful spring league.

Catalina – Duchy

I haven’t posted a scroll text here in a while, but this one was a lot of fun, especially since a bunch of people helped me read it.

I chose to write her text in the muwashshah style of poetry. This is a style of poetry that appeared in the 800s or so, and was popular in Andalusian during Catalina’s period. It is structured as stanzas of rhyming couplets separated by a chorus that is held together by a rhyme throughout the poem. Usually, as I’ve done here, there are five stanzas.

One of the reasons I chose this style is that in period it was seen as a visual representation of the wisah, the ornamented belt. The idea is that the stanzas are ornaments hanging from a belt formed by the refrains. This seemed too appropriate to Catalina not to choose.

The form is designed to be performed orally. Sometimes it would be spoken, such as will be done in court, but often these poems became the words for various songs. Usually, the performance is a soloist speaking or singing the lines, and a chorus joining in on the refrains.

I did a similar scroll for her Laureling, but this time I was able to arrange for the chorus by handing out a bunch of copies. By the end of the poem, most of the hall had joined in and the echo up front was damn cool.

Side note, since it was often sung, this means that yes, Rhianwen’s version might very well be more period in form, though not in tune.

Catalina – Duchy Text

In sweet days of Falcons soaring
With great rivers swift and roaring
Purple and gold were ascending
and great keeps they were defending
Came a queen of their kingdom fair
Whose charm and skill were all aware

All in this great Celestial sphere
(Chorus) Admired bright pearl of Calontir

Then to war went gold bird of prey
Steel and skill she brought to the fray
When riders lanced and arrows flew
Her courage held as all there knew
And those who cared for warriors bold
Brought sweet water as she foretold

In noble dance of swords and spears
(Chorus) Fought the bright pearl of Calontir

In tall and mighty heartland’s halls
Where nobles heed our kingdom’s call
Wisdom and law did she proclaim
Showed the falcon’s honor and fame
Calling folk before royal thrones
Their deeds to be forever known

Gifts to surprise people most dear
(side note, I almost cracked up reading this line, given that she and Donngal had surprised me in morning court)
(Chorus) Granted bright pearl of Calontir

As memories of bright lilies fade
Relaxing now in soft, cool shade
Heartland’s souls recall awhile
Love and grace and wit and smiles
They raise a cry to celebrate
Catalina’s story so great

Soldier, artist, and server cheer
(Chorus) Feats by bright pearl of Calontir

Anton and Yseult royal heirs
Listen well Their people’s prayers
At Lost Moor hall in summer’s heat
Fifty-fourth year of dream so sweet
Mushira will she now be called
By each poet, scop, bard and skald

A kingdom showed their love sincere
(Chorus) For brightest pearl of Calontir

A kingdom showed their love sincere
(Chorus) For brightest pearl of Calontir

 

 

 

 

 

Mag Review: If (June, 1957)

Greetings all

This week I’m reviewing the If (Volume 7, No. 4) from June, 1957. I guessed I was going to like this one, given that it has an Asimov and a Biggle, but if I had any doubt, the rocket rotorship Mars lander by Mel Hunter that’s on the cover with the diagram on the inside front cover.

Mars Rocket Rotorship
Mars Rocket Rotorship

Table of Contents: http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?58771

This issue starts with the Editor’s Report by James L. Quinn. It’s a bunch of short, interesting things he’s found in the previous month. He had a good eye and in this day and age he would probably be a well-followed blogger.

In this case, much of what he included relates to this issue of If, including small biographies of a couple authors in the issue. I wish more editors had done this, actually, as it’s quite interesting to see what the editor thought at the moment, especially before I read the stories.

He also talked about the Industrial Bulletin, which was a small sheet of interesting, fact-filled information. 1957 Clickbait! I’m a sucker for that sort of thing, and now I’m putting A Scientific Sampler, which has the best predictions, facts, and notes in my Amazon wishlist.

And if you need help with math you can get the IBM 709. The stats are amazing. 42,000 additions or subtractions per second. Multiplication and division at 5,000 per second. 327,000 decimal digits can be stored in it’s magnetic core, and any word in the core can be found in 12 millionths of a second. And then the piece de resistance, “You can get a typical system for about $3,000,000, or rent one for $56,000 per month! (p. 3)”

If (June, 1957) Cover
If (June, 1957) Cover

So, I suppose I should actually talk about the stories in this issue. First is Pretty Quadroon by Charles Fontenay. It’s a fascinating story about a number of different timelines related to whether there’s a second Civil War. Basically, if Beauregard Courtney meets and loves Piquette, then there will be a second war of varying results. In one, the South wins, in another the North wins, in a third the Russians nuke New York and other cities. If he doesn’t meet her, the second war does not happen.

This story is both well-written and fascinating, given that it’s written by a Tennessee man during the beginning of integration in the south. Not only that, it has the backdrop of the Cold War and fears of nuclear war. The story is thoughtful, challenging, and yet smooth to read. It is no wonder it was republished in Jim Baen’s Universe of October, 2008.

Walter Tevis is next with Operation Gold Brick and wow, what a fascinating find! Tevis is the author of The Hustler and The Color of Money. His other novel that got turned into a movie was The Man Who Fell to Earth, which starred David Bowie.

The story is a fun one about the US Army trying to build a tunnel through the Appalachians for a monorail track. They have a converter which easily cuts through the stone and creates a perfect tunnel, but suddenly it stops, having hit on a large gold brick. They try a pick, otherwise known as a manual converter, but that doesn’t work.

Then the  Army tries a variety of increasingly absurd ideas. They convert the *entire* mountain, but all they manage to do is end up with a gold brick sitting in the air about four feet off the ground. A physicist comes in and says this is the point, the fulcrum point, of Earth’s orbit. Ultimately, with a super bomb, they manage to move it, which sends the Earth on an orbit which will fall into the sun.

As a side note, this is message fiction done right. The story is humorous, catchy, and the reader keeps wanting to know more. In some ways it is a short story version of Dr. Strangelove. This story makes me wonder if Peter George, who wrote Red Alert, the basis of Dr. Strangelove, had read it, because it has the same sort of humor and message.

Next is an essay by Robert S. Richardson entitled the Face of Mars. You might have read his science fiction under the name Philip Latham. This essay talks about telescope images he worked with when Mars approached very close to the Earth in 1956. Reading the science articles in these magazines is odd to me.

I am no scientist, though I’ve read quite a bit about various scientific topics (and more now that I’m a writer, shout-out to my monitors at the FBI and NSA). However, I am standing on the shoulders of giants. I know more about Mars than Richardson did, yet he was widely recognized as an expert. He even helped as a technical assistant for Destination Moon. It’s a weird thought that’s hard to avoid as he’s describing specific aspects of astronomy and it all seems fairly basic. Amazing what’s transpired in 62 years.

Aldo Giunta’s Jingle in the Jungle is the next story. I had never heard of Giunta before, and it’s no surprise. This is the only speculative fiction he ever published. He was a playwright and a cabinet maker, as you can see from the linked obituary.

This story is about a future where boxing is much like it was in the 1930s, especially with all the corruption and fixing, except with robots.

This was another great story. A trainer, Charlie Jingle, has been working with an old boxing robot, Tanker Bell, for fourteen years. It’s way out of date and they can hardly get any fights. Then they stumble into a fight and beat the contender robot made by the shiny, big fighting-robot corporation.

But it’s a fix. It’s all a fix. The goal is to build up an outsider and suggest it has a chance. Then the champ wins big and looks even better and better. But Charlie has another idea and he tricks the Tanker into thinking he hasn’t got a chance and gets the robot mad and tricky. Ultimately Tanker Bell wins, and it is only then that he realizes his trainer has tricked him and gotten him to fight better than his best. Rocky before Rocky and with robots.

Isaac Asimov is one of my favorite writers. The Foundation and Hari Seldon shaped a style of magic in my world of Shijuren. Elijah Bailey and R. Daneel Olivaw helped convince me hardboiled detectives can work in any time period. His entry in this issue shows why.

This issue’s entry is Does a Bee CareIf you click on the title links of most stories, you’ll find that the links almost always go to the bare ISFDB page. There’s rarely much on those pages, and I link to them as much to highlight the title as I do to give you places to find more information. In this case, though, the story is so powerful that it has its own Wikipedia page.

The story goes like this. An ovum was placed on Earth. The ovum grew to a creature that looked like it was human, though it was not. For 8,000 years it influenced civilization to help humanity achieve spaceflight. In the story, it has ensured that in one of the first rockets to the moon there’s space enough for it to fit inside. When the rocket reaches space the creature achieves full maturity. It is, finally, able to return to its home.

The twist is that while we see the creature manipulating things, Asimov guides us along the path of focusing on its point of view. Then at the end, asks if the bee cares what has happened to the flower after it has gotten the pollen. What a neat take on things.

Lloyd Biggle, Jr. is next with …On the Dotted Line. The story is about a car salesman getting transported to the year 2337. He’s a great salesman, but in 2337 salesmen are hypnotists, and all he’s got is psychology.

But that’s what he is, a salesman and he’s got to figure out how to make his way. Fortunately for him, after a couple of years the hypnotists are discovered and Congress passes laws outlawing hypnotism in sales. This is the salesman’s chance.

And he does pretty well, for a time. However, with his sales comes publicity, and after people have seen his pitch, they don’t buy and he loses his sales job. He’s a smart man and he succeeds in the field of space mining. He finally, however, figures out how to sell one more thing, essentially the moon Callisto, and retires, confident in his ability. At the end, though, the compulsion is still there, and he’s looking about for something else to sell.

It’s a good story, which doesn’t surprise me. Biggles had a neat way of looking at things, I’ve found, and this is an example. He made a *salesman* into a sympathetic figure.

Dan Galouye is another new writer to me. His story here is Shuffle Board. This is the first average story in this issue. Earth in a century or so will be filled with various radioactive waste. The main character is tasked with preventing the radioactivity from contaminating as much as possible. In the end, the increased radioactivity changes humanity so we’re not as susceptible to its affects.

I think this story didn’t catch me because it seemed a little obvious to me, but that’s in part because of my perspective in 2018 as opposed to 1957. I sort of expect humanity to adjust, if needed. More importantly, I felt the underlying causes see farfetched now. This is unfortunate, because the story is well-written. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more from Galouye, and maybe the twist at the end will surprise me.

As a side note. Dear Editor of any magazine, please avoid, “Continued on page X” for any story, especially for the last 3 paragraphs. Ah, well.

Anyway, the next story is called The Human Element by Leo Kelley. It’s a fun story that connected to me because our protagonist hearkens back to an earlier time. Unfortunately, in his era, living in the past would get you sent to the Psych center.

If (June, 1957) Science Quiz
If (June, 1957) Science Quiz

However, our hero has expressed his rebellion by putting on a clown suit and running onto stage in a modern day circus. The circus is nothing like we would think, and no one there had seen a clown before. He’s a hit, and the circus owners hire him. In many ways, this story is nothing but the cotton candy the hero reminisces about. But I am someone who lives in the past quite often, and I do wonder about today’s society.

Next is a fun little game, a science quiz. I’ve included the image. Have fun.

Then we have a series of science briefs. More little notes and tidbits from science. The most interesting one to me was the idea that we’d have nuclear-powered aircraft in the early 1960s.

Finally, we get to Hue and Cry, the letters to the editor. I always enjoy reading these, and this one had several focused on the idea of humanity and humanism as discussed in a previous If. Oddly, as I type this, I happen to be listening to the album Hemispheres by Rush. The title song is about humanity’s challenge to balance thought and emotion, which apparently the earlier If issue talked about. Odd timing, there.

But it’s an excuse to include this wonderful Rush quote:

“Let the truth of Love be lighted
Let the love of truth shine clear
Sensibility
Armed with sense and liberty
With the Heart and Mind united
In a single perfect sphere”
Cygnus X-1, Book 2: Hemispheres, Rush

Overall, this was one of the better magazines I’ve seen so far. It didn’t sell well, though, and is one of the shorter-lived SF mags of the time. It’s a shame, though, because I’m looking forward to reading more of them.

Next week I’ll be reviewing the most modern issue I’ve read so far, the Fantastic from March, 1974. This issue’s cover story is by Brian Aldiss and Fritz Lieber reviews some books. Good stuff to look forward to.

Have a great day, everyone.


If you have any comments or would like to request I keep my eyes open for a specific issue or month, feel free to comment here or send an email to me at: rob@robhowell.org.

If you want to see previous reviews, the Mag Review category is here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?cat=432.

Have a great day.

Rob Howell

Rob’s Update: Grey My Way

Week 27 of 2018

I’m in Indianapolis at the Lincoln Square Pancake House getting ready to load in for InConjunction. They have a take on biscuits and gravy involving jalapeno cornbread and queso. I had to try it.

Anyway, I’m slowly recovering from LibertyCon. What an amazing time. My detailed after-action report is here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1224. LibertyCon is so good, that all 750 tickets for 2019 sold out in 6 hours yesterday. Actually, 5 hours, 52 minutes, and 20 seconds, but who’s counting.

I’ve got mine, don’t worry.

The big result, from my perspective, is a slight change in priorities and focus. I’ve got two books currently planned, None Call Me Mother and The Feeding of Sorrows (working title for the Four Horsemen novel). However, I’m going to turn more focus on some short stories.

This weekend is InConjunction, which is a much different con. I’ll be involved in a variety of panels plus I’ll be selling in the author’s alley next to Jon Osborne, another writer in the 4HU. Then I get home as quickly as I can. I should be back to Olathe on Sunday night.

I’m ready. It’s been a crazy last two months, and I still have a month or so to go. It’s been productive, and I’m really happy with the direction everything is going, but I am so glad I don’t have anything huge scheduled for a while after Pennsic.

Anyway, the stories aren’t going to write themselves, so I better get back to work.

Current Playlist Song

Something too low to hear over the voices of other guests, but with the occasional country twang.

Quote of the Week

I heard this song on the drive yesterday, and as my birthday approaches, it seems more and more relevant.

My life is slipping away
I’m aging every day
But even when I’m grey
I’ll still be grey my way
– Rush, “I Think I’m Going Bald”

News and Works in Progress

  • CB (6560)
  • TAV (2,007)
  • AFS (2,681)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s interview was with Rob Hobart, an amazing gamer and now a writer. You can find the interview here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1229 and his Amazon page at: https://www.amazon.com/Sword-Amatsu-Empire-Moon-Book-ebook/dp/B07CWKP2LW/.

Today’s Weight: 386.8 (Last week)

Updated Word Count: 154,715 (Finally totaled up everything)

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 376 entries

Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell
Currently Available Works

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