Sunday, December 17, 2017

Nike Ducks Lose

Not much happening in college football yesterday, at least that I'm interesting in. The Nike Ducks (some call them the "Oregon Ducks") played Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl. And the Ducks lost by a score of 28-38. I'm always happy when the Ducks lose. Even more than when the WSU Cougars lose. Because while the Cougars are cross-state rivals, we love to hate the Ducks.

It's thirteen days until the University of Washington Huskies take on Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl (excuse me, the "Playstation Fiesta Bowl") on December 30th.

Go Dawgs!

Friday, December 15, 2017

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with Dana Pratola and P. H. Solomon .

Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are pleased to welcome writers Dana Pratola and P. H. Solomon.

Dana Pratola
Dana Pratola

God has blessed me with a wonderful husband and three dynamic children, all of whom are destined to make wide, colorful splashes in this world. We share our New Jersey home with three dogs. I have no hobbies to speak of, unless you include writing. I don’t.

Dana's Books:




Dana's Links:


P.H. Solomon
P. H. Solomon

P. H. Solomon lives in the greater Birmingham, AL area where he strongly dislikes yard work and sanding the deck rail. However, he performs these duties to maintain a nice home for his loved ones as well as the family’s German Shepherds. In his spare time, P. H. rides herd as a Computer Whisperer on large computers called servers (harmonica not required). Additionally, he enjoys reading, running, most sports and fantasy football. Having a degree in Anthropology, he also has a wide array of more “serious” interests in addition to working regularly to hone his writing. His first novel, The Bow of Destiny was named 2016 Book of the Year by Fantasia Reviews and is the first book of The Bow of Hart Saga. The sequel novel, An Arrow Against the Wind, was released in April of 2017. The third book of the series, The White Arrow, was released in October 2017. P. H. Solomon also authored the award winning short story, "The Black Bag," which won best published short story at SCWC 2012. P. H. is also a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

P.H.'s Books:

The Bow of Destiny

An Arrow Against the Wind 

The White Arrow

P.H.'s Links:


From Today's Program: Bizarre Supernova Defies Understanding.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

A Letter to My Childhood

Back to the 30-day blogging challenge that I'm doing over (approximately) 30 weeks.

The next prompt is: "Your feelings on religion."

That would get political. I try to avoid politics on this blog. I think Heinlein said it best (Google it if you want).

So this has been a quick entry. See you next week. . .

All right, I'll do the next one: "Write a letter to your childhood." I assume that means write a letter to yourself as a child.

Dear Evan,

There's a few things you need to know.

One: it gets better. The teasing, the bullying, they eventually stop. But the one thing you need to know about that is, you're better than those kids. You're smarter and you're a better person because you don't bully or tease others.

Two: Don't settle. Don't say "it's good enough" or "I don't feel like doing more work." Yes, it's easy (especially for you because you're smart) to get by doing just enough. But don't. Always do more, always push for more. Don't settle in any aspect of your life. You're regret it.

Three: Go into computers in college. I know the math intimidates you. But you're smart enough. You've just have bad math teachers. I know this. I did the math (well, most of it). You won't believe how big computer become in the future. And it all started to take off about 1985, so your timing is perfect.

Four: Have fun. And start reading. Now. Don't wait until you're in your late teens to read for fun. Start with Larry Niven.

Five: Buy the following stocks as soon as they become available: Starbucks, Microsoft, and Apple.


57-year-old Evan

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Television Review: The Punisher

Yesterday I finished watching all thirteen episodes of The Punisher on Netflix.

The Punisher is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) that is shown on Netflix as a series. This same character was in Daredevil season 2 and Karen Page, also from Daredevil, was in this series as well. Unlike other Netflix MCU shows, there were no references to other shows nor "the incident" (what happened in the first Avengers movie in New York City).

Frank Castle, who is the Punisher, has no supernatural talents except maybe the ability to recover unrealistically quick from wounds that would kill lesser men. He's good with guns and with his fists, and that's it.

Castle is seeking revenge for this murdered family (and I swear, the wife, shown is flashbacks, is different from the wife, shown in flashbacks, than was in Daredevil season two). In Daredevil, he blames mobsters and starts killing a lot of them. In The Punisher he finds out it wasn't mobsters, but rouge elements in U.S. Intelligence.

I had to push myself to watch this, even more so than Iron Fist. The violence was often gratuitously gory, especially in the last two episodes. It almost verges on torture porn (movies such as Saw), and I don't watch that. One episode will have action, and the next one would be boring. Often times the action is reminiscent of a first person shooter video game, it's so violent and there are so many targets. And as I mentioned, his ability to heal or survive damage stretches credibility to the breaking point. Maybe that is his superpower.

Since this doesn't add anything to the Netflix/Marvel canon, one could easily skip it.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

In College Football It's a Waiting Game

Not much happened this weekend in college football. At least on the FBS side. (I guess the FCS is having their playoffs. Why can't FBS have an actual playoff, I don't know.)

The Army-Navy game was played yesterday in snowy conditions. Army won that game 14-13.

The final CFP rankings came out last week.

The Week 15 AP Top 25 poll came out last week, too. The final poll will be after the January 8th CFP championship game.

So now we wait for our favorite team's bowl game. For the University of Washington Huskies it's the Fiesta Bowl at 1:00 PM PST December 30th on ESPN. Which is 20 days from now.

So we wait.

Interesting fact: Division I FBS College Football is the only sport in the NCAA not to have playoffs involving more than four teams to determine the champion. I still would love to see the bowl games turned into a playoff system for FBS football.

Friday, December 8, 2017

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with Jim Cronin and Tony LaRocca

Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are pleased to welcome writers Jim Cronin and Tony LaRocca.

Jim Cronin
Jim Cronin

I worked for thirty-five years as a middle school science teacher, but am now semi-retired, working part-time as an educator/performer at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. I have been married for thirty-eight years to the love of my life. Together, we raised two incredible sons, and now have three incredible grandchildren to spoil rotten.

I was born in Kansas City, Missouri and lived in Arlington, Virginia before moving to Denver where I attended High School and eventually college at Colorado State University, graduating with a degree in Zoology and a teacher certification. My wife and I currently live near Denver in the small town of Parker.

My science fiction series, "The Brin Archives" is an epic adventure encompassing an entire galaxy on the verge of destruction. This trilogy, to my amazement and delight, has won critical acclaim and numerous awards. Who would have ever guessed this old, retired science teacher would become a successfully published author? I hope you enjoy my stories.

Jim's Books:




Jim's Links:


Tony LaRocca
Tony LaRocca

Tony LaRocca is a carbon-based life form, animator, occasional actor, U.S. Army veteran, blogger, karaoke crooner, electrician, and chronic doodler from Basking Ridge, New Jersey. He currently resides with his family in Queens, New York.

Tony's Books:

Debris of Shadows Book I: The Lies of the Sage

Debris of Shadows Book II: The Forgotten Cathedral

False Idols and Other Short Stories

Tony's Links:


From Today's Program: Ion Drive Could Take Us to Mars.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Hard Times

Black Back as a kitten
Back to the 30-day blogging challenge.

Today's prompt is: "What is the hardest thing you have ever experienced."

Boy, that's a tough one (no pun intended).

My grandmother dying was hard (my mother's mother). We were pretty close. Probably the hardest thing I've every gone through is very personal and I'm not going to talk about that.

The man who said, "Keep the cat outdoors."
The hardest thing recently was when my son's cat, Black Back, died back in September. My son was in the Seattle area helping his older brother move into an apartment and his cat was missing all that day (we saw her the day before). She was an outdoor cat (at my insistence because I'm allergic to cats; but not as allergic as I used to be before allergy shots). In the evening, the neighbors found her dead in their yard and came over and told me (I was the only one home at the time). So I had to call my son and tell him his cat, that'd he'd had for two months, was dead. Because he was friends with Black Back's mother's owners, he'd known her since she was a very small kitten. And even so, everyone in the family loved that kitty. But telling him his cat was dead was that hardest thing I've had to do recently. And she was such a pretty kitty. She was all black. And she had a very mellow personality. She loved to be held. I miss her.

Basic training in the Army was one of the hardest things I've ever done. And that lasted 8 weeks (actually, longer, because you waste at least a week processing in, and then they kept us there after we graduated for two weeks because the next training assignment wasn't ready for us).

One of the harder things was watching my mother-in-law die. I won't go into detail. As Forrest Gump says: "That's all I have to say about that."

And this is the 76th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the U.S. into World War II. And I am sure people who fought in that conflict had much harder experiences than I will ever have.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

College Football Bowl Games

The University of Washington Huskies didn't play a football game this weekend. This was "championship weekend" in college football. In the Pac-12, USC beat Stanford by a score of 31-28 last Friday. Now USC is the Pac-12 champion (Washington was last year).

After winning the Apple Cup last week, the Huskies spent this weekend waiting to find out which bowl they will be in.

In the College Football Playoff (CFP) bowl selections, #1 Clemson and #4 Alabama will play in the Sugar Bowl and #2 Georgia and #3 Oklahoma will play in the Rose Bowl. Both games are on New Years Day and the winners will play for the national championship on January 8th in Atlanta in the brand new, $1.6 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Some people are saying Ohio State was robbed (they are #5 today so just missed the playoffs) because they beat #4 Wisconsin yesterday. Today Wisconsin is #6 in the CFP.

Also in the CFP rankings, USC is #8. They will play #5 Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl (the "Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic" officially). That's December 29th at 5:30 PM on ESPN. The Ohio State people will still probably be pissed off.

Washington is #11 in the CFP and will be playing #9 Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix at 1:00 PM PST December 30th on ESPN.

Stanford is #13 in the CFP and will play #15 TCU in the Alamo Bowl at 6:00 PM PST on December 28th on ESPN.

Washington State is #18 and and will take on #15 Michigan State in the Holiday Bowl. That's also on December 28th at 6:00 PM and on a Fox network (Fox Broadcasting, FS1 or FS2, probably FS1).

By my count there are (not including the championship game) 40 bowl games. That's 80 teams needed. Which is why having a 6-6 record makes a team "bowl eligible." Some years there haven't been 80 teams bowl eligible so they had to go to 5-7 teams. There are, in my opinion, way too many bowl games. I guess they make money because none have gone away as far as I know. I mean the "Famous Potatoes Idaho Bowl"? Do we really need a bowl game in Boise, Idaho? Or the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl in St. Petersburg, Florida. Some of these bowls are just silly. And if you watch, at a lot of them you'll see the stands are half-full at best.

I still say a true playoff system with all the conference champions would be better than the current bowl system and the CFP committee choosing the top four teams that go into the playoffs.

The AP Poll

In the AP top 25 Poll (which was voted on before the CFP rankings came out and published after the CFP top four rankings were announced), USC moved from #11 to #8, making them the top-ranked Pac-12 team. The Huskies were second at #12 having moved up from #13. Stanford dropped from #14 to #15. And Washington State stayed the same at #21. There is one more AP poll to come after all the bowl games have been played, so probably after January 8th.

UPDATE: There are 39 bowl games not counting the championship game. So that's 78 teams needed. This year 81 teams were bowl eligible so three teams got left out (how they picked which ones I don't know). Also other Pac-12 teams will play bowl games other then the ones listed above. If you're interested, all bowl games and the teams playing in them are listed here.

Friday, December 1, 2017

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with Stephanie Osborn and McKenna Dean

Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are pleased to welcome writers Stephanie Osborn and McKenna Dean.

Stephanie Osborn
Stephanie Osborn

Stephanie Osborn, award-winning Interstellar Woman of Mystery, is a twenty-plus-year space program veteran, with multiple STEM degrees. Author, co-author, or contributor to thirty-plus books, including Burnout: The mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281 and the Cresperian Saga, she writes critically-acclaimed Displaced Detective, Silver-Falchion winner Gentleman Aegis, and the new "Division One" series, her take on the urban legend of mysterious people who make UFO evidence...disappear. She "pays it forward" through numerous media, and SIGMA, the science-fiction think tank.

Stephanie's Latest Books:

Division One book 4, Tour de Force

Division One book 3, A Very UnCONventional Christmas

Division One book 2, A Small Medium At Large

Stephanie Links:


McKenna Dean

McKenna Dean has been an actress, a vet tech, a singer, a teacher, a biologist, and a dog trainer. Finally she realized all these jobs were just a preparation for what she really wanted to be: a writer.

She lives on a small farm in North Carolina with her family, dogs, cats, and various livestock.

She likes putting her characters in hot water to see how strong they are. Like tea bags, only sexier.

McKenna's Book:

McKenna's Links: