Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Thank God Our Long National Nightmare Is Over

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Best. Obit. Ever.

Abe Osheroff, 1915-2008

Make you feel like you've only been a passive observer of life? Me too. I wish I had half this much courage and conviction.

My favorite quote:

"The stuff we're made of never goes away, with or without monuments. Because the bastards will never cease their evil, and the decent human beings will never stop their struggle."

Here's a profile of Abe from 2004.

And here's a website set up for him. Make sure you listen to the recording of the last speech he gave.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Giant's Fall

Arthur C. Clarke has died, and I don't have the words to express how sorry I am at the news. When I was about eleven or twelve, I stole my uncle's copy of Asimov's Hugo Anthology. One of the stories I found there that touched me was Clarke's "The Star." Even now, nearly 30 years later, I still tear up when I read it. Someday I hope to be able to affect others with my writing the way that story affected me.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Go Toby!

The Nebula Awards Final Ballot came out yesterday. "Sun God" didn't make it, though I wasn't expecting it to, so I'm not that disappointed. Sort of that "Ah, well..." kinda feeling you get when you don't win the lottery.

However, a friend's novel did make the cut: Toby Buckell's "Ragamuffin."

Congrats, Toby! And good luck in May!
Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Amazing What Comes Out in the Wash

So in the course of filling out funeral paperwork, I needed to find out what Angie's father's name was. Angie and my grandmother were sisters and they were born and grew up in a small town in Sicily called Castrofilippo. Over the years, my mother had often mentioned her grandmother (Angie's mother) but I don't recall her ever talking about her grandfather, so it wasn't a surprise that when I asked her his name, she couldn't remember. Apparently, he'd died before she was born and she'd never known him.

But then, out of the blue, she started telling me the most bizarre story--that the reason she didn't talk about him was because he'd been killed. Shot. Apparently over something the family owned, some property or something. The details got fuzzy from there, and my mother wouldn't say any more--typical Sicilian--but, uh, seriously, what the hell? Why didn't she ever tell me this before? I swear, if that were my grandfather, I'd tell everyone. In fact, I am telling everyone.

Hey everyone, my great grandfather was the victim of some turn-of-the-century Sicilian vendetta killing. How fucking cool is that?
Sunday, February 3, 2008

Angelina Acquista Cucchiara, 1907-2008

My Aunt Angie died today. Though it wasn't unexpected, still it came as a surprise.

As I wrote two weeks ago, Angie had fallen and broken her hip and had to have surgery. A few days later she was doing well enough to go back to the nursing home, but then a couple of days after that, I got a call in my office that she'd had breathing problems and had to be brought back to the hospital. I went there that night and sat with her in the emergency room where I found out that she had mild anemia because of the surgery and that she had developed pneumonia. Not the best of news, but the doctors were very upbeat about her chances of recovery, and that made me feel a lot better about the situation. Since then, my sister Mary and I have been trading off nights going to see her. Amazingly enough, she seemed to be getting better. She couldn't talk very well, so communicating was a bit limited, but still, she recognized us and knew we were there with her.

This morning, Mary and I went to visit her together. We sat with her for several hours, we fed her lunch, we smiled at her, etc. She seemed to be doing very well. And when we left, she mouthed "thank you" and "I love you." She blew kisses at us. And that was that. A few hours later, she passed away.

Angie turned 100 back in August, a pretty impressive age. Her grandfather, my great great grandfather lived to 103 and Angie had always said she wanted to live as long as he did. If she hadn't fallen and broken her hip, I'm sure she would have.

Angie had a great sense of humor and a laugh to match it. She would always tell these terrific stories of crazy things that had happened to her that always seemed to involve some kind of Italian/English misunderstanding. But usually, halfway through the story she would start to lose it and then that was it, the story was over because Angie was doubled over with laughter.

My favorite was the one about the green grocer in her neighborhood. Angie was a regular costumer and he knew that she was Italian. One day he had some nice apricots he thought she might like and he decided he was going to tell that to her in her language. But the thing was, he didn't speak Italian, so what he thought was the Italian word for apricots actually was...not. The Italian word for apricots is "albicocche" What the grocer said was "apri-gotsi." Doesn't seem like much of a mistake until you find out what "apri-gotsi" actually means. The first part, "apri," sounds like the Italian word for "open." No big deal there. But unfortunately "gotsi" sounds like the word for balls. As in testicals. Poor Angie was confused and kind of horrified. Open balls? What? Well, she figured it out, eventually, of course. And it made for a great great story that we've been laughing at for 30 years.

Angie also believed in evil spirits or "faturi." She was forever tossing salt all over the house because that apparently keeps them away. And for a few years, as she was getting progressively deafer, she wouldn't answer the phone because she thought the devil was calling her and breathing heavy into her ear. Of course, it was only because she couldn't hear the person on the other line. Or at least I hope that's what it was.

Angie was a wonderful, funny, fun woman. She was the stereotypical little old Italian lady: small, dressed in black with a well-worn rosary wrapped around her wrist. She was the last of her generation.

I'll miss her.
Thursday, January 31, 2008

Campbell Award Nomination Countdown

Bill Katz of Writertopia created this Campbell Award countdown widget thingie, and it's pretty cool. The link on it will bring you to the list of this year's Campbell Award eligible writers. The Campbell Award, in case you don't know, is the award given for the best new science fiction and fantasy writer of the year. I'm on the list, by the way, as are many other talented writers who debuted in 2006 and 2007. So if you were a Nippon 2007 member, or if you have a Denvention 3 membership and want to nominate people for the Campbell (and the Hugos), go over to Writertopia and check out the list and pick your favorites. As I understand it, not a lot of people nominate or vote for the Campbell, so be a good SFF citizen and do it.

Oh, did I mention that I was eligible for the Campbell? I'm sure I did, but it doesn't hurt to say it again, right? :)

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