Straight Outta Concord

(This website has no connection to the Blogspot page with a similar name.)

Angus MacDonald is a minor sf (science fiction) writer in Northern California. His published work is reprinted below for your reading enjoyment:

"Disassembly" - originally in Amazing Stories, Summer 2000 (after bringing out that issue, Amazing ceased operations; these things happen.)
"The Edge of the Bed of Forever" - a collaboration with Jonathan Lethem - originally in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, August 1997
"In Transit" - originally in Tomorrow Speculative Fiction, May 1996
"Dead Language" - originally in Midnight Zoo, July 1993 issue
(authorized Polish translation published in Nowa Fantastyka, October 2003)

Other, non-sf material:

I've been admiring the state commemorative quarter-dollars since they've been coming out; my favorite so far is the one for Alabama.

The San Francisco Chronicle published this slice of life under the title "Sax Man Makes Pets Go, Cats, Go" on 2-26-1998. (I didn't follow through, but the whole experience changed the way I hear music.)

Don't you kind of miss hearing about that Pink Floyd / "Wizard of Oz" business?

And as long as we're talking about cultural synchrony, here's something (in part regarding subliminal messages and the Beatles) that probably should have come to light about thirty years ago.

Remarks and Comments

April 21, 2010

Hugh Jackman's name sounds like a crank call with no punchline.

July 9, 2009

Saw an advance preview of (500) Days of Summer tonight. It stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. It's very good, sort of an anti-romantic comedy, using an achronological narrative approach that's more common in literature (Catch-22, for example) than in movies.

I liked it enough that I'll probably pay to see it again, even though it bothered me how much supporting actor Geoffrey Arend looks like M. Ward.

September 11, 2008

Once again, aren't you ashamed to read the New York Post?

June 11, 2008

I just learned that Algis Budrys died this week.

He was an important sf writer, editor, and critic. From my adolescence, I made a point of reading as much of his writing as I could find.

Years later, I was delighted and honored when he bought and published a story of mine in his magazine Tomorrow Speculative Fiction (see link above).

Everybody who enjoys science fiction, fantasy, or good writing in general should try reading his work. I'd recommend starting with the novel Rogue Moon or the review collection Benchmarks.

June 5, 2008

We're deep into another election year, so it's time once again to mention that, at least in California, an "American Independent" voter is not at all an "Independent" voter.

California voters who wish to avoid affiliation with any political party should register as Non-Partisan (NP) or Decline-To-State (DTS).

Those who register as "American Independent" will soon find that they have joined the American Independent Party (AIP).

The American Independent Party first came to national attention in 1968, when its nominee for President was Governor George Wallace ("I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever...").

If that sounds okay to you, of course, AIP registration remains an option.

Thank you for your attention.

May 25, 2008

The bassist who played with Gnarls Barkley on Saturday Night Live (in the April 12 show re-transmitted last night) is apparently not Drew Barrymore, but Heather McIntosh, a musician from Athens (Georgia) who usually leads a band called The Instruments.

Aside from the SNL appearance, she reportedly played with GnB at some concerts this spring, but I don't know if she will be with them as they tour this summer.

May 22, 2008

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District will begin charging businesses for carbon dioxide emissions on July 1.

It's a step in the right direction, but the fee charged (4.4 cents per ton of carbon dioxide emitted) seems kind of low: according to Kelly Zito in today's San Francisco Chronicle, the annual total collected would be only about $1,100,000; illustrator John Blanchard's chart shows that the Bay Area's top carbon-dioxide emitters (the Shell and Chevron refineries in Contra Costa County) would each pay less than $200,000.

Given the cash flows enjoyed by those businesses, fee payments in that range would provide almost no incentive to reduce emissions.

Zito's article also notes that most of the region's emitted carbon dioxide comes from automobiles. Although the BAAQMD apparently has no jurisdiction over cars, perhaps they could prod the California state Department of Motor Vehicles to add a CO2 charge to vehicle registration fees.

April 6, 2008

With the six-hour/two-month time difference, maybe Starbuck was in a geosynchronous orbit exactly above Charles Widmore's freighter.

January 3, 2008

Jay Leno's monologue on January 2, his first since the start of the WGA strike, was much better than usual.

Now I'm guessing that all this time, he's avoided hiring writers who are as funny as he is.

December 4, 2007

I enjoyed last night's half-season finale of "Heroes"; as the series has proceeded, I've been wondering more and more about show creator Tim Kring's feelings regarding his parents.

August 6, 2007

The sudden death of Council member Michael Chavez this past weekend is a tragedy not just for his family and those who knew him, but for the City of Concord as a whole.

July 6, 2007

Those interested in the lawsuit by songwriters Tommy Dunbar and James Gangwer against Avril LaVigne (and against her co-composer Lukazs Gottwald, her label, and so on) over the similarities between her current hit "Girlfriend" and the 1979 Rubinoos recording "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" might get something out of reading the actual complaint filed in United States District Court, Northern California (fair warning: four-page PDF version of optical scan).

As an old Beserkley/Pynotic fan (see below), I'm curious as to whether the plaintiffs' apparent main attorney Nicholas A. Carlin is related to original Rubinoos member and Psycotic Pineapple mainstay Alex Carlin.

May 15, 2007

Holy Gee. I never thought I'd feel sorry for John Ashcroft.

May 7, 2007

Last night I was pleased to see that YouTube now has three videos of performances by Earth Quake, but then I was dismayed to read in the response comments that guitarist Gary Phillips died in January, age 59.

Before he was in Earth Quake, he was known as Gary Philippet and played in Copperhead (with John Cippolina and Pete Sears) and Freedom Highway; after Earth Quake, he was the keyboardist in the Greg Kihn Band (playing on Kihn's most successful singles).

After that, he apparently moved to Washington State to farm and do good works.

His version of Bobby Fuller's "Let Her Dance," on the Spitballs album of covers that the Beserkley label put out, is one of my favorite recordings. I always hoped to see him front his own band, but I'm glad he spent his last couple decades doing what he wanted.

The tribute website is here.

March 25, 2007

Enjoyed the season finale of Battlestar Galactica. My wife is not a big fan, but she watched it with me.

Afterward, she said she thinks she's read that Bob Dylan is suing the producers, because he never had an affair with Edie Sedgwick.

December 11, 2006

Correction: as Mike Knell points out, "Gimme Some Money" was not Spinal Tap but the Thamesmen, at least according to some.

December 9, 2006

What's even weirder than the McCartney thing (see below) is that the Tap's "Gimme Some Money" has turned up in a tv commercial. Didn't catch the whole spot, but I'm pretty sure it's real. Can't remember the advertiser.

September 20, 2006

As the song says, "'Dog Dog Pop Dog' Means 'I Love You.'"

June 23, 2006

Jake Hansen told me that Paul McCartney's current album Chaos and Creation in the Backyard is pretty good, and that turns out to be true.

However, the song "English Tea" sounds inexplicably like a parody of Spinal Tap's mid-Eighties, no, sorry, "mid-Sixties" track, "Cups and Cakes." I can't believe that McCartney's team let him record this thing without speaking up about the resemblance.

September 2, 2005

So later that same evening, I went into the Tower Records store here in Concord and said, "I want to get everything by Kanye West."

Fortunately, there was a sale.

February 1, 2005: Sideways

Saw this last month; liked it quite a bit, though my wife thought Paul Giamatti's performance was overly reminiscent of Chris Elliott's work in serious roles. Even so, "What Happens in Solvang, Stays in Solvang."

January 25, 2005: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

Saw this last night. Bill Murray plays pretty much the same character as he did for Lost in Translation, but he's really good at it.

It almost seems like director/co-writer Wes Anderson put the very brief topless shots in to make sure the rating would be "R" (probably required by contract) rather than "PG-13"; there didn't seem to be enough real swearing to insure that.

This movie may be Anderson's best so far, even better than Rushmore, and is certainly the best underwater picture I've ever seen: it fulfills the promise made by the original newspaper ads for Thunderball, the 1965 James Bond release. The fact that the imaginary sea creatures turn out to be animated not digitally but with good old stop-motion models is especially beautiful.

Fond memories: Gridlock.

You can send MacDonald correspondence at: P.O. Box 572, Concord, California, 94522-0572, USA; since 1992, his electrical mail address has been at the domain under the user name angus.