A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Placid Day on Old South Side

Yesterday, as every year since the memory of man runneth not to the contrary, the Sicilians of St. Anthony of Padua parish in Easton PA have manned up and hoisted a 200-pound statue on their shoulders and paraded around South Side with an Italian oom-pah band while people run out from their houses and pin money to the banner. Go figure. It's enough to give Baptists conniption fits.

When TOF was the TOFling, they would stop at a house across the street from his and oom-pah until Mr. or Mrs. Bosco would come out and do the honors. South Side has changed since then. It was once called German Hill, and the Germans were none too happy about Italians moving in. Now, on TOF's block are blacks and Arabs, Irish and left-over Germans. But last year the Lebanese family -- which attends Our Lady of Lebanon -- went out and pinned money, so who knows? Anybody can play!

The parade starts at the Castel di Lucio club a couple blocks from TOF's stone-built fortress of solitude. It sat on the edge of the Projects for many a year, but the projectors generally left the Sicilians alone.

St. Placido, a sixth century monk, is the patron of Castel di Lucio, Sicily, "from which many Easton area residents trace their ancestry."

He ain't heavy. He's my ancestral patron saint.

San Placido, looking especially placid.

For those interested, there are additional photos here.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Lizards of Nagrafki-Uri

A discussion on the blog of Mr. John Wright mentioned a stunning lack of space lizards in modern SF. Although this contention was quickly rebutted by others, it reminded TOF that back in high school, he had started writing a grand space opera involving Lizards, Spiders, Humans, protoplasmic blobs, and sundry other folk in a great cosmic game of conquest and revenge.

A brisk search of The Olde Files resurrected a folder containing several hundred carbons and originals of this primitive effort. The prose is somewhat prolix:
Great throbs of power surged through the vessel and even the mighty structure of the colossal ship shuddered slightly as the titanic engines mounted in the rear spewed shorn atoms into the endless void. 
Okay, so it's a big ship, right? Well, it was the Sixties and TOF was young. One sign of adolescent thought is the deification of great size, of bigness-as-such.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Advent of TOF

TOF's first paid publication was a collection of fillers and quotes, for which he was remunerated the princely sum of $60, but his first actual paid story had a more checkered career.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Sometimes the Mask Doesn't Just Slip

It is tossed off entirely and dances and capers:
From Pro-Choice to Pro-Abortion
All life is not equal. That’s a difficult thing for liberals like me to talk about, lest we wind up looking like death-panel-loving, kill-your-grandma-and-your-precious-baby storm troopers. Yet a fetus can be a human life without having the same rights as the woman in whose body it resides. She’s the boss. Her life and what is right for her circumstances and her health should automatically trump the rights of the non-autonomous entity inside of her. Always.
-- Mary Elizabeth Williams, “So What If Abortion Ends a Human Life?” 
There may be a reason why such sentiments make one look like "death-panel-loving, kill-your-grandma-and-your-precious-baby storm troopers."

We can only wait and see what other lives will be deemed less than equal. Lebensunwertes Leben is making its long-awaited comeback.

Added in postscript: TOF spoke too soon, we are already designating such.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

First Way, Part I: A Moving Tale

OK, TOF has finished "In Panic Town, On the Backward Moon" and is ready to resume what he joshingly refers to as "real life."

Back to the Argument from Motion (See Preface)

Getting 'Motional

[T]he arguments require the appreciation of certain metaphysical principles that are unfamiliar or seem archaic to the contemporary philosophical mind...  In particular, the notion of causation employed by Aquinas in the arguments has a decidedly obscure ring to modern ears.
-Oderberg, ‘Whatever is Changing is Being Changed by Something Else’
Part of TOF's herculean effort here will be to translate, as much as he is able, those original items into more modern lingo. This is not always quite possible and not always well-advised, because words in different languages in different eras do not always divide thought into the same categories. But, Excelsior!¹
1. Excelsior. As all men know, this is a packing material used as dunnage.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


The TOFheim, dryer which for fourteen years had done its duty vis a vis wet laundry, gave up the ghost and joined the choir eternal. The several repairmen who had tinkered with it for a month agreed to refund most of the moneys paid; and so this past Saturday TOF and the Incomparable Marge visited a store of appliances and examined the possible replacements.  Sample conversation:
I/M: We'll take this one.
The manager of the store (who was also the owner, it being a small family-owned establishment) told us he could have it delivered next (now this) week. "Wednesday isn't looking good, so it'll probably be Thursday."
On the way to the register, the fellow remarked, "You've been in here before."
Yes, three years ago, to buy a new stove after the old one was struck by a meteor -- i.e., a hot casserole dish being pulled from the overhead microwave without adequate temperature buffers. Sample monologue:
Son of TOF: Ouch. Oops. Damn.
"Flynn," says the Incomparable.
"Flynns!" says the owner. "I can get it to you Monday afternoon. At 1:00. Plus-or-minus 15 minutes."

TOF is not making this up. Life is good, and the clothes are dry.

Monday, August 18, 2014