stusegal: (Default)
This is the last entry I wrote on my LiveJournal Blog, in September, 2011:

"Seems to me the activity on Live Journal has diminished dramatically in the last 2 1/2 years. I'm considering just shutting down this blog, and staying on Facebook.  Is there anyone out there still following this journal?"

I have now migrated to Dreamwidth, April 2016, and we'll see what the future brings.
stusegal: (Default)

It is very hard to adequately describe the impact and implications of the final space shuttle launch, given the true context  -  America has no launch vehicle or program to replace the shuttle, and therefore is now relegated to “hitchhiker” status, along with all the other countries that don’t have the resources, or the vision, to understand the importance of space exploration.

I’ll never forget how angry my parents were when, in 1961 at 11 years old, I cut the front cover off the Time Magazine and taped it up in my bedroom.  My parents were yelling at me “How can you have a Russian on your wall, they’re Communists, oh my G-d!”  -  and they took it down!  Hey, all I knew was, this guy, Yuri Gegarin, actually went into space.  Left the earth’s atmosphere.  Went where there was no gravity.  The first person in history to ever actually look at our planet.

Well JFK took it seriously, “Now is the time...for this nation to take a clearly leading role in space achievement, which in many ways may hold the key to our future on Earth.”  Gee, “may hold the key to our future”  -  think he got it?

Not two weeks after Gegarin’s flight, and let me just mention, the USA didn’t really have a way to launch an astronaut at that time without incinerating him, Kennedy said “First I believe that this Nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon...”  The moon, the frakkin moon  -  we couldn’t even achieve escape velocity with an astronaut, but one of the few people on the planet with the vision to understand the importance of space exploration was our President!

And we, as a nation, followed Kennedy’s vision for nearly 5 decades.  Why?  Because deep down, in our gut, we all knew it was right  -  even the politicians were smart enough to not kill the space program.  They understood that, even in a world filled with hate and violence, wars and famines, filled with extremists who envied and hated America - - - no matter what else was going on, when we launched a rocket with a space capsule, or a shuttle, or carried modules to the space station, or deployed the Hubble, the eyes of the world were on us.  Through 5 decades America led, and the world followed.  But that’s just the political side.

I never really considered the impact the space program had on my life, on all our lives, until my friend Ray, a brilliant engineer, educated me.  Most of the technology we enjoy today, and this is not an exaggeration, came from the space program  -  from the computer you use every day, to the modules that control both the engine and electronics in your car, to the appliances in your kitchen.  How about the electronics that run all the leading edge medical devices that allow life extending diagnoses?  The dirt cheap electronics  -  ipods, cellphones, TVs  -  that we all take for granted?  Do you really think that people spent millions, tens of millions, hundreds of millions, to shrink the room-sized Univac computer down to desk size so you could live on Facebook?  Or do you think it’s more likely that development was essential to handle the onboard calculations that were required in a space capsule, calculations that simply couldn’t be done quickly enough using calculators, pencil and paper, either in the capsule or at mission control?  Need I go on?

So on Friday when our last space shuttle was launched for its’ final flight I had a deep feeling of emptiness, despair and defeat.  Similar to how I felt a few years ago when the last blast furnace in Bethlehem, Pa, the last blast furnace in the USA, the last facility in our country that could make steel, was laid silent for the first time in over a hundred and fifty years . . . and America’s ability to make steel was gone, ended, possibly forever.

The government says the shuttle program has ended but there’s a new launch vehicle on the way - - but they’re not really highlighting that the new vehicle is at least 7 years away.  And something 7 years away, in the world of Washington politics, really doesn’t exist, does it?

So we have entered the Dark Ages. 

You may think I’m being too dramatic, you may think I’m over-stating  -  I am not.  Let me give you a few more of Kennedy’s words - “Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolution, the first waves of modern invention and the first wave of nuclear power. And this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be part of it - we mean to lead it.”  Here was a man who understood the need for America to lead the world into space, a man who was willing and able to lead America, a man with a vision so strong we followed it for a half century.

Weak leadership with a flawed vision of America’s future has now relegated us to the role of follower.  There’s talk of the Chinese yuan displacing the dollar as the world currency.  Whisperings of the US becoming part of the European Union.  Looks like we’ve decided to take a back seat to others in defense of freedom in repressive nations.  And we have clearly sent the message America no longer has the prowess to explore space, as we reach the official decision to hitch rides from the Russians and the Japanese (which, ps, won’t be “free” rides).

I remember the words of Ronald Reagan from his Shining City Upon A Hill speech, “We cannot escape our destiny, nor should we try to do so.  The leadership of the free world was thrust upon us two centuries ago in that little hall of Philadelphia.”  Ronny, I hate to tell you, but we have now abdicated that leadership . . . and there is no other country with the resources and the conscience to take up the baton.  The world is in trouble.

These are the implications of the final shuttle mission.  It’s not the final mission, it’s the stepping away from the forefront, the abdication of leadership, the loss of vision that the end of the space program represents.  It is a very, very big deal - - - but it is lost somewhere in the buzz about Casey Anthony and the arguments between Dems and Republicans.  If something doesn’t change I’m afraid someday we’ll look back and fondly remember when America launched shuttles, forged steel, built cars and TVs . . . and we’ll also fondly remember that far distant shining city on the hill.


stusegal: (Default)
It seems I recently started receiving Spam comments on some of my old posts.  Nonsense comments that seem to be directed at older posts.  A few a week.

Is everyone getting these?
stusegal: (Teutonic Highway from Hell)
When I was a kid, there seemed to always be someone breaking some speed record.  Mickey Thompson breaking the wheel-driven record over 400mph, Craig Breedlove in his jet-powered Spirit of America, Donald Campbell in his Bluebird.

The ultimate of course was the X-15.  It went faster than anything - in 1967 it flew at Mach 6.7, that's 4,519 mph (7,273 kph)!  And nothing on land, sea or air has ever gone faster.  (Excluding, of course, rocket launches).


A simple question 44 yrs after X-15 hit Mach 6.7  -  why have we stopped trying to go faster, faster, faster?


stusegal: (VICTORY)

And let me tell you why.

About 20 years ago there began what turned into an irreversible polarization between Dems and Republicans.  While there has always been diversity of thought and platforms, there was, prior, some ability to compromise.

That ability to compromise evaporated during the Clinton Presidency, and has never been regained.

So how did Obama get elected?  The Republicans did not vote for him, the Democrats did - - - and a very lot of people who traditionally do not vote were so moved by Obama that they actually got off their lazy asses and exercised that right that some of us think is so valuable.

Here in 2010 the polarization has not subsided, in fact it may have gotten worse.  Can Obama turn out the masses of people he did in ’08? - - I don’t think so.  While he still has legions of staunch supporters, there are tons of folks who never voted before, voted in ’08, and are now thoroughly disgusted and disappointed that Washington remains the same den of thieves as always . . . and I doubt that the now tarnished silver-tongued orator will move them again.

There’s been a lot of talk about the Tea Party.  Yes, they could win a few seats  -  but these are seats that would be won by Republicans otherwise, so these will have no net effect on the election.  As a matter of fact, there’s a great risk that where the Tea Party has traction, they’ll split the conservative vote, and their presence will actually be the catalyst for the Dems to pick up some seats.  (Let’s be realistic about 3rd parties.  In my lifetime they have never been anything but “spoilers”.  If you look further back, one of our most popular Presidents, Theodore Roosevelt, couldn’t win re-election running as a 3rd party candidate - - and if Teddy couldn’t do it . . . .)

So who’s going to vote in this election?  I believe we will be right back to that original base of voters we had before ’08 (OK, there may be a few more) - - that original, polarized base of voters.  Roughly half Dems, half Republicans, and a few others. 

I think we’ll see the same kind of midterm election we’ve seen in the past  -  with a few seats going one way or the other.  Perhaps a few more going to the Republicans  -  but a sweep that will change the balance of power?  I don’t think so.

stusegal: (Default)

Many of you know the Hugo Awards Ceremony took place in Melbourne, Australia on Sunday, September 5 at the World Science Fiction Convention.  (If you don’t know, the Hugos are like the “Oscars” in the world of science fiction and fantasy).

For the first time in over a decade, Stephen and I were not attending the Hugo Ceremony and were, instead, going to be at Dragon*Con, the largest annual science fiction and fantasy convention held annually in the USA.  Dragon*Con occurs each Labor Day weekend in Atlanta, draws between 35,000 and 40,000 fans  It takes over downtown Atlanta for 4 days - there are costumes, parties, sessions, stars, etc. in mega-doses.

Coincidentally the Hugo Awards Ceremony was happening in Melbourne right in the middle of Dragon*Con weekend.  And we realized a number of the 2010 Hugo Award nominees were going to be at Dragon*Con:

Unfortunately, the 8PM kickoff time for the Hugo Award Ceremony was at (groan) 6AM Atlanta time.  So we decided to all, or at least almost all, have breakfast together, with whatever fans felt like dragging themselves out of bed at 6AM, and listen to the results come in live.

I made a phone call to longtime fan and convention-runner Laurie Mann, explained to her what we wanted to do, and Laurie got the ball rolling.  She put me in touch with Vincent Docherty, and at the same time I got in touch with Cheryl Morgan, who brought Kevin Standlee on board - - and from points all around the globe these folks figured out how to provide real time information and materials so the Hugo Nominees sitting at breakfast in Atlanta could be as up to date as the folks sitting in the Main Plenary Hall in Melbourne.  Simultaneously, Eugie Foster started promoting the Live Hugo Awards Breakfast at Dragon*Con.

When 6AM arrived Steve and I showed up at the Kafe Kobenhaven at the Hyatt Regency, and there were already 10 or 12 people waiting for us!!  And there was already a problem  -  the restaurant didn’t know we were coming and people were starting to freak out.  (Truth is, when I talked to the hotel, and they started making a big deal about us showing up with 20-30 people, I made the conscious decision not to make a reservation.  It’s a huge restaurant, with a buffet breakfast, so I decided we would just show up, treat the restaurant manager real nice and take real good care of the wait staff).  So when we arrived, I pulled aside the manager, had the conversation, and in about 5 minutes the restaurant had given us our own corner, had pulled tables together for us, and piping hot coffee was being consumed.

By this time Lou, Kate, Eugie, Farah, John, Mike and Steve had all arrived – some with significant others, some with fans or friends, and Mary Robinette Kowal from SFWA, and some fans who joined us for breakfast.

Eugie, Stephen, Mary and two others set up laptops  -  as the ceremony commenced we fired up the amazing Mark Slater-produced 7½ minute video that was being shown at the same time on the big screens in Melbourne.  It was riveting!  Then all started to follow various Tweet Streams and videos  -  -  primarily though the streams from Cheryl Morgan and Kevin Standlee.

Hugo Breakfast

Then the awards presentation began  -  at this point Mary took over, announcing the nominees of each category . . and subsequently announced the winner.  As the Ceremony proceeded John Picacio announced some of the nominees, as did Lou Anders and Mike Resnick.  And as it got quiet between nominations and the nominees were biting their nails or chewing their bacon, Mike shared stories about some of the other nominees, and about Hugo Nominees and Ceremonies of the past.

Hugo Breakfast

Every time a winner was announced, even though with one exception those winners were not at our breakfast, there was a rousing round of applause.  With the exception of one first-time nominee, the rest had all been nominated in the past, two were past winners, and all expressed the honor they felt being 2010 nominees.  The high point came of course when Clarkesworld Magazine won the Hugo for Best Magazine!  Our Tweeter in Melbourne, Cheryl Morgan, was one of the named nominees and accepted the award; Kate Bake, podcast director and the voice of Clarkesworld was with us at breakfast and was completely floored when the win was announced.  We all couldn’t have been happier for her.

Hugo Breakfast

All in all the Hugo Breakfast was a great success  -  due in large part to the efforts of Vincent Docherty, Cheryl Morgan, Kevin Standlee, Eugie Foster and Laurie Mann. 

While there will not be a Dragon*Con / Hugo scheduling conflict in 2011, I certainly hope that the standard set this year, which allowed fans around the world to know the results instantly, will be maintained for future years  -  actually, I hope it is taken one step further with a professional level of live video being streamed over the internet.  After all, what better way to showcase and celebrate the importance and the glamour of the Hugo Awards Ceremony than to show the world?

stusegal: (Strollin')
Come on out and join us for a pleasant morning stroll.  Some very interesting Authors, Artists and Editors have agreed to lead the Strolls, and will be strolling along at the right pace to have a good conversation.

This way you can go to the Con, do all the stuff you normally do, but also get out in the fresh air for a healthy stroll and some good conversation. (And let me stress, we mean "stroll" - def: a leisurely walk. This will not be a heart-pounding aerobic activity, it will be a stroll).  A leisurely mile - which will take a little more than a half hour but less than an hour.

  • Practice Lap - Join me for a gentle stroll around downtown to get the "lay of the land".  No promises, but - some of our Saturday, Sunday and Monday "Stars" may join us.
  • KATE BAKER - Podcast Director for multiple Hugo nominated Clarkesworld Magazine
  • DEANNA HOAK - World Fantasy Award nominated copy editor
  • FARAH MENDLESOHN - Hugo Award winning co-author of "The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction"
  • JAMES PALMER - writer, editor and author who has written for Strange Horizons, RevolutionSF, and the Internet Review of Science Fiction
  • STEPHEN H. SEGAL - Hugo Award winning editor of "Weird Tales"
  • LOU ANDERS - 4-time Hugo Award nominated editorial director of Pyr Books
  • JAMES ENGE - Author of "Morlock the Maker" series
  • LAURA ANNE GILMAN - Author of the "Cosa Nostradamus" and the critically-acclaimed "The Vinehart War" trilogy
  • CLAY & SUSAN GRIFFITH - Authors of "Vampire Empire - The Greyfriar"
  • ERIN HOFFMAN - Author of the upcoming "Sword of Fire and Sea"
  • ARI MARMELL - Novelist, gamer, author of the upcoming Pyr Books "The Goblin Corps" and "Household G-ds"
  • ANDREW P. MAYER - Game designer, and author of the upcoming "Society of Steam"
  • FARAH MENDLESOHN - Hugo Award winning co-author of "The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction"
  • JOHN PICACIO - World Fantasy Award winning illustrator
  • JON SPRUNK - Author of "Shadow's Son"
  • SAM SYKES - Author of "Tome of the Undergates"
  • LAURA ANNE GILMAN - Author of the "Cosa Nostradamus" and the critically-acclaimed "The Vinehart War" trilogy
  • DEANNA HOAK - World Fantasy Award nominated copy editor
  • FARAH MENDLESOHN - Hugo Award winning co-author of "The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction"
  • ANDREW P. MAYER - Game designer, and author of the upcoming "Society of Steam"
  • STEPHEN H. SEGAL - Hugo Award winning editor of "Weird Tales"
No need to sign up, just show up - 9AM each morning, on the sidewalk in front of the main (Peachtree Street) entrance of the Hyatt Regency at 9AM; returning each morning before before 10AM. 

RSVP over at our Facebook Page, or just show up at 9AM.

And if you don't mind getting up early, join us Sunday morning for breakfast, to listen to the results live from the Hugo Awards Ceremony in Melbourne, Australia.  Details at Live Hugo Awards Results Breakfast Facebook Page.
stusegal: (Hugo Awards)
A number of this years' Hugo Award nominees will be at Dragon*Con.

Join them at the Kafe Köbenhavn to listen to the results come in live! Direct from the Hugo Ceremony in Melbourne, Australia!

Join LOU ANDERS (4 time Hugo Nominated editor), KATE BAKER (podcast director for the twice nominated Clarkesworld), EUGIE FOSTER (Nebula Winner, and current Hugo nominee), MARY ROBINETTE KOWAL (Campbell Award winner), FARAH MENDLESOHN (Hugo winner, and current nominee), JOHN PICACIO (Winner of the World Fantasy, Chesley and Int'l Horror Guild Awards and 6-time Hugo nominee) and STEPHEN H. SEGAL (Hugo winner, and current nominee) as this years' winners are announced.

The Kafe Köbenhavn has both a buffet and an a la carte menu (you are responsible for your own breakfast).

We'll be there from 6AM (which is when the 8PM ceremony begins in Australia) until 9AM. Pull up a table next to us as we root for Lou, Kate, Farah, John and Steve!

EVERYONE IS INVITED.  RSVP over at out Facebook Page.

ps - No promises, but - there's an outside chance that nightowls MIKE RESNICK and ROBERT J. SAWYER may also join us - and a very very outside chance that seriously jetlagged CHERIE PRIEST may show up.
stusegal: (Strollin')
Come out for a gentle morning stroll and meet great authors, artists and editors.  Some of your favorite Hugo Award, World Fantasy Award and John W. Campbell winners and nominees.  EVERYONE IS INVITED!

This way you can go to the Con, do all the stuff you normally do, but also get out in the fresh air for a healthy stroll and some good conversation. (And let me stress, we mean "stroll" - def: a leisurely walk. This will not be a heart-pounding aerobic activity, it ...will be a stroll). A leisurely mile - which will take a little more than a half hour but less than an hour.

Some very interesting Authors, Artists and Editors have agreed to lead the Strolls, and will be strolling along at the right pace to have a good conversation.


So far, hosting the Strolls will be:
  • LOU ANDERS - 4-time Hugo Award nominated editorial director of Pyr Books
  • KATE BAKER - Podcast Director for multiple Hugo nominated Clarkesworld Magazine
  • JAMES ENGE - Author of "Morlock the Maker" series
  • CLAY & SUSAN GRIFFITH - Authors of "Vampire Empire - The Greyfriar"
  • DEANNA HOAK - World Fantasy Award nominated copy editor
  • ERIN HOFFMAN - Author of the upcoming "Sword of Fire and Sea"
  • MARY ROBINETTE KOWAL - John W. Campbell Award winning author
  • ARI MARMELL - Novelist, gamer, author of the upcoming Pyr Books "The Goblin Corps" and "Household G-ds"
  • ANDREW P. MAYER - Game designer, and author of the upcoming "Society of Steam"
  • FARAH MENDLESOHN - Hugo Award winning co-author of "The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction"
  • JAMES PALMER - writer, editor and author who has written for Strange Horizons, RevolutionSF, and the Internet Review of Science Fiction
  • JOHN PICACIO - World Fantasy Award winning illustrator
  • STEPHEN H. SEGAL - Hugo Award winning editor of "Weird Tales"
  • JON SPRUNK - Author of "Shadow's Son"
  • SAM SYKES - Author of "Tome of the Undergates"
We are going to meet each morning, Sat-Mon, on the sidewalk in front of the main (Peachtree Street) entrance of the Hyatt Regency at 9AM; returning each morning before before 10AM.

NOTE: You don't need to "sign up" for this event, just show up.  You may want to check out and RSVP over at out Facebook Page.
stusegal: (The 70s)

Last week we saw Ringo Starr & his All Starr Band at a small (1,800 seat) theater in New Jersey.  Ringo has toured every couple years with his All Starr Band; in his words "everybody on stage is a star in their own right."  The band plays together throughout the concert, with each of the members doing some of their own hits in between the Ringo songs.  The members of the Band have changed with each tour, though there have been a few performers, like Edgar Winter, who have been included on a number of tours.

The short review is this
  -  Ringo Starr is a very amiable guy who obviously likes to interact with the audience, and the audience seems to love him.  He performs his own songs well, and he does justice to the Beatles numbers he performs  -  he’s a pleasure to watch.  The All Star Band, notably Edgar Winter and Rick Derringer, are incredible musicians.  Edgar Winter remains one of the most amazing musical performers ever, and Rick Derringer (with who I was unfamiliar before this concert) is among the great rock guitarists.  If you’re looking for 2 hours of solid entertainment, then don’t miss Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band if they come your way  -  after all, how often do you get to see a genuine Beatle, and considering Ringo was turning 70 the day after we saw him, how long do you think you’ll get that chance?

And the detailed review . . . .

And first let me say, I have always been a Beatles fan.  I was in 8th grade when they hit our shores and, like all my friends, I grew Beatle hair, got Beatle boots and bellbottoms (but somehow the girls weren’t running screaming after me and my friends like they were after Paul and John).  So I was a Beatle fan, but not necessarily a Ringo fan.

My impression of Ringo was always that he seemed to be along for the “John & Paul Ride”.  He sat back there and banged his drums while John & Paul wrote and sang all the songs.  He clowned around with reporters during interviews.  Many years later, in 2003 when the nine-part Beatles Anthology Documentary was released, I learned that my impression of Ringo had been wrong all along.  Paul’s comments revealed what an essential part of the band Ringo had been, how what was missing in the early years was a superior drummer, how much the Beatles wanted Ringo, a gifted drummer with an established reputation, to join them.  (George Harrison’s comments revealed how difficult it was for himself, and presumably Ringo, to flourish artistically while the John & Paul collaboration was going on.)

Ringo . . .

To say I was a little surprised when Ringo came onstage is an understatement.  The crowd (including me) jumped to their feet for the longest, loudest, standing ovation I have ever witnessed – and he hadn’t even played one number!  I guess Beatlemania endures all these years later.

He opened with “It Don’t Come Easy”, standing at the front of the stage with a mike, and it was readily apparent that he actually could sing these numbers live, and was having a good time doing it.  It was a little strange seeing Ringo as the frontman for the band – but he performed about half his numbers that way, and the other half from behind his drum kit.

He did a great job with the “Ringo songs” – “It Don’t Come Easy”, “Act Naturally”, “Photograph” and some songs off his recent album “Y Not” which were, incidentally, very good.  But as you can imagine, the audience just went nuts when he did Beatle songs  -  “Yellow Submarine”, “I Wanna Be Your Man”, etc.  He finished the concert with a medley of “A Little Help From My Friends” which morphed into “Give Peace A Chance”.

Ringo was thoroughly entertaining and engaging.  He looks good, seems to be in great shape, and was having a fun time himself.  I really enjoyed his parts of the concert (much more than I thought I would).

Edgar Winter . . .

Whoa.  This guy’s the real deal.  At the Harley factory in Milwaukee they say “If you cut him, he bleeds black & orange” to describe a person who's a Harley guy through and through . . . and I’m pretty sure if you cut Edgar Winter, he would bleed notes and chords.

I saw him open for the Allman Brothers 40 years ago, and he literally stole the show.  And he hasn’t lost anything.

He played keyboards, synthesizer and sax for Ringo and all the others, and did an amazing job.
  He performed two of his own numbers, Free Ride and Frankenstein, but those alone were worth the price of admission.  Maybe you’ve never seen him perform Frankenstein  -  -  he plays the synthesizer, then jumps on the sax, and the drums  - - he’s all over the stage like a man on fire playing instruments as well as the best you’ve ever heard.  And his ability to play synthesizer and keyboards live is unmatched by anyone.

I came away feeling like I did 40 years ago – thinking I had seen the most talented musical performer alive.  Or at least the most talented musical performer I’ve ever seen.

Rick Derringer . . .

OK, I’ll admit I didn’t know who he was, at least by name.  He was the lead singer and guitarist for The McCoys, who did “Hang On Sloopy” back in the day, then he went on to a solo career which included hits like “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo”.

He did a great job with his hits, but what got me was . . . . I’ve seen a lot of people over the years play hard rock guitar, and many many who try to play like Jimi Hendrix, but somehow they always sound like they’re “trying” to play like Hendrix.  Well, this is another guy who’s the real deal . . . if you closed your eyes during his guitar solos you would have sworn you were listening to Hendrix.

Wally Palmar . . .

I was also unfamiliar with him . . . he was the lead singer for the 80’s group The Romantics.  He did a great job on guitar throughout the concert, and has the kind of likable personality that lets him get the crowd going.  He had the crowd on it’s feet and singing to The Romantics big hit “What I Like About You”.

Gary Wright . . .

He wrote and sang “Dream Weaver” in 1976.  And he told us this interesting story of how he was in India with George Harrison (yeah sure, exactly how many people were with the Beatles in India??!! – but since Ringo was sitting there listening, I think we can assume it’s true), and how he and George were studying with some maharishi, or bhagwan, or yogi, and in his notes about the topic wrote the words, “dream weaver”, which led to . . .

Anyway, he did a great job performing the song (which was clearly enhanced by the participation of Edgar Winter, who was able to perform all the sort of psychedelic keyboard stuff flawlessly).  He also played keyboards throughout the concert, but was obscured from view behind speakers, and was even more obscured by the presence of Winter on keyboards and synthesizer.

Richard Page . . .

Also unfamiliar with him . . . he was the lead vocalist for the late 80’s group Mr. Mister, whose big hits were “Broken Wings” and “Kyrie”.  Page did a great job on guitar, and on his songs . . . but his songs seemed a little out of context in such a high energy upbeat setlist.

Greg Bissonette . . .

Professional drummer.  Mirrors everything Ringo does on drums, except when Ringo is at the front of the stage singing into the mike, which is of course why Bissonette is there.

The crowd . . . 
It was a good crowd, who loved Ringo, and also loved Edgar.  Interestingly, the crowd was older than you would see at a McCartney concert, where you always seem to see little kids – there were no little kids here.  (Maybe because it was a small theater and pricey?).  This is not to say it was all old farts like me – Rashmika was, coincidentally, born the very month the Beatles released their first top twenty hit, “Love Me Do”, and she was still a little kid when the Beatles broke up, and she was clapping and singing Yellow Submarine along with Ringo! 

One of the most entertaining concerts I’ve ever been to and I will absolutely see the All Starr Band again if they ever come back this way.

stusegal: (Show some respect!)
How about a nice leisurely morning stroll with some of your favorite authors, artists and editors?  A pleasant walk in the fresh air, with good conversation (NOT a heart-pounding aerobic forced march).

We've done this for the last 2 years at WorldCon, and got some terrific "Stars" to stroll along with us.  See Strollin' in Montreal 2009 and Strollin' in Denver 2008 .

So now we're lining up stars for our morning Strolls at Dragon*Con on Labor Day weekend.  9AM each morning, a leisurely one mile - which will take a little more than a half hour but less than an hour.  Meeting up each morning near the Hyatt Regency.

Check out our STROLLIN' FACEBOOK PAGE for the latest updates and details in coming weeks.
stusegal: (Stu & Rashmi)

Rashmika and I went to the new (to us) Yankee Stadium on Memorial Day.   

The short version is – the weather was beautiful, the stadium and the whole Yankees experience was amazing, and in the course of the game we got to see Alex Rodriquez hit a Grand Slam! 

And the full story is . . . .  )
stusegal: (Teutonic Highway from Hell)

Let me make this perfectly clear.  I live in New Jersey.

That’s in between New York City and Philadelphia.  New Yorkers are known far and wide for their manners, especially the cabbies and cops.  Some of the rudest people on the planet.  And Philadelphians  -  ah the the City Of Brotherly Love.  Ask any Philadelphian about the Eagles, Phillies or Flyers  -  unless it was a year they won the World Series, Superbowl or Stanley Cup , which incidentally they rarely do, a stream of vitriol like you never heard will erupt.  These people are so mean that they’d eat their own young if they had to.

Now you’ll notice I didn’t say I live between New York and Pennsylvania.  Because if you drive 5 hours west, you’ll reach Pittsburgh, which is in Pennsylvania but has Midwestern sensibilities.  And if you drive 5 hours north you’ll reach Buffalo, which is at Niagara Falls, and is on a different planet than NYC.  So again to be clear, NJ is in between New York City and Philadelphia, and is filled with people who used to live in Philly or New York, or who live here but work there.  So don’t think you need to leave New Jersey to hear someone say “Fuggedaboudit” or “Gimme two cheesestakes wit fried onions”.

Some years ago my ex-wife stepped off a curb in New York City when a traffic light turned red and it was OK to go.  She was instantly waffled by a messenger on a bicycle traveling at breakneck speed, inches from the curb, who knocked her to the ground, and left her battered, bruised and knocked senseless.  And how did people feel about this unfortunate incident?  “Shouldn’t have stepped in the street widdout lookin” was the consensus.

And this has always been the protocol where I live.  If you step out into the street into moving traffic and get hit, then shame on you.  Will the driver get a ticket?  Maybe.  Maybe not. 

And if you’re diving and someone steps out in front of you what are you expected to do?  Swerve and avoid them if possible.  Blow your horn.  Give them the finger.  Are you supposed to stop and “yield” to them?  Fuggedaboudit.

There’s a train station in my town, but there are no traffic lights right at the station, so for people to cross Main Street safely they need to walk a block or two in either direction.  Either that, or use their urban survival skills and dart between oncoming cars to get safely onto the white line in the middle of the road, then stand perfectly still (like those girls you used to see on the Ed Sullivan Show standing up against the wall while some lunatic threw knives in the wall around them) on the white line while waiting for the opportunity to dart between traffic and get to the other side.

So a couple years ago the town put in a couple of fancy brick crosswalks across Main Street, with signs that say “State Law: Yield to Pedestrians in Crosswalk”.  Yeah, right.

Last year at this time I saw our local Police Department in a major crosswalk sting operation.  I saw a guy wearing a t-shirt and dark pants, and he seemed vaguely familiar  -  turns out he was one of the local officers who had taken off his uniform shirt.  And he was strolling from the sidewalk into the crosswalk.  Half a block down was a second, uniformed, officer standing between parked cars.  When someone would not yield to the “pedestrian”, the second officer would step out into the street, wave over the driver, and give them a ticket.  (I guess we’re lucky there’s no bigger crimes in our town to deal with).  Well, I only saw this happening one morning.  Presumably, hopefully, there was such outrage over the use of expensive resources for a crime roughly equivalent to jaywalking that the police were re-assigned to more appropriate duty.

But did the city give up?  NO!  Then they managed to get a state grant for $$$??? I-don’t-know-how-much to imbed a row of yellow lights in the street on both sides of these crosswalks, and when a pedestrian wants to cross they push a button by the curb, and these yellow lights instantly start flashing.  Since there’s about 20 lights across the street on each side of the crosswalk it’s almost impossible for a driver to not see them.

And I noticed, that actually worked . . . most of the time.  Most, but not all, drivers yielded (after all, this is New Jersey.  Who says pedestrians have the right of way?  Some friggin signs?  Some damn flashing lights?)  At least it worked for about a year or so, until the flashing lights broke down, and there was no funding to fix them  -  yes, yet another well thought out government initiative.

So now to the reason for my post.  Today I was out for a walk.  And I happened, just happened, to want to cross in the middle of the block where one of these crosswalks is located.  So I looked to my left, noticed traffic coming (so I stopped knowing I would be run over if I proceeded), looked to my right and was watching traffic approach from the right while I was waiting for the traffic from the left to pass.  Funny thing, the traffic from the left never came past, so I turned my head back to the left and was shocked – the cars had stopped and were waiting patiently for me to cross??!!  I nodded a “thank you” and proceeded.

But here’s the problem.  THIS IS NEW JERSEY.  Traffic is not supposed to yield to anything.  This isn’t friggin Florida where traffic comes to a screeching halt every time some doddering old Bubby or Zayde stumbles off the curb.

I’ve got to admit  -  the older I get the harder it is to accept change, even when it is for the better.

This is the crosswalk, with the "Yield" sign in the middle of the street, and the now covered-in-orange-trashbag-so-you-can't-push-the-button activator for the flashing lights::
Metuchen Crosswalk
stusegal: (Default)
Ever wonder what happens when they get home?  Steve tells me that Honey, their smallest cat, has decided her favorite observation post is behind the Rocket Ship:
stusegal: (Stu & Rashmi)
We saw them last night at Princeton.

Six guys from (mostly) San Diego who tour and play Pink Floyd music, complete with the kind of lightshow you expect from a major rock band and a giant flying pig that they unleash over the audience for the finale.  (ps - the pig is way bigger than it looks in the photos below)

And did I mention, these guys are great musicians, and can deliver flawlessly.  Rashmika and I have seen Roger Waters and David Gilmour, and while the PFE can't deliver the intangibles (like Waters' "presence"), they can deliver the music  -  and since the opportunity to ever see Pink Floyd together again is nil, and I suppose the opportunities to see Waters or Gilmour diminishes as they age . . . .

So if they ever come your way, and you want to hear someone someone perform "Another Brick in the Wall", "Wish You Were Here", "Dark Side of the Moon", or any of the other great songs the same way you would get them from Pink Floyd, buy a ticket.  We really enjoyed their show.

More info at the Pink Floyd Experience web site.



stusegal: (Show some respect!)
This year it's a short list  -  my top nomination in each category where I found something or someone deserving of a nomination (with the exception of movies, where there was a very lot of exceptional work).

Remember  -  nominations will close on March 13 (but if you want to participate in the nominations stage you must have been a member of the 2009 Worldcon in Montréal, or you must purchase at least a Supporting Membership in this year’s Worldcon by January 31st).

Before submitting your nominations, please consider:

Best Novel  -  The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

Best Short Story  -  The Moment by Lawrence M. Schoen

Best Related Work
The Inter-Galactic Playground: a critical study of children and teen's science fiction by Farah Mendlesohn

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long

            District 9
            Star Trek

Best Editor, Long  -  Lou Anders

Best Editor, Short  -  Ann VanderMeer

Best Professional Artist  -  John Picacio (take a look at the work on his website)

Best Semiprozine  -  Weird Tales edited by Stephen H. Segal and Ann VanderMeer

Best Fan Artist  -  Brianna Spacecat Wu (see this post for some of Brianna’s recent work)

stusegal: (Default)

This is my public announcement that I’m withdrawing my support for Barack Obama, meaning I’ll actively support someone else for President in 2012.

I’m publically declaring this for 2 reasons:

  1. About 14 months ago, the morning after the President was elected, I blogged urging all my friends to throw their support behind him.  No, I was not one of his supporters, but I felt strongly that the only way we could end this incessant polarization was if we all genuinely got behind our new President, and gave him a fair chance to prove himself.
  2. A few days ago, my friend Mike wrote in one of his Facebook exchanges with me “ . . . but I read your blog and I am skeptical that you have ever, for more than the briefest instance, expressed optimism in the election of Barack Obama.”

Let me address the second point first  -  “briefest instance”.  In the 14 months since I called for unity, I have spoken out in my journal against the President’s actions twice  -  both times as a result of the U.S.’ weak response to the North Koreans’ missile tests.  Conversely, in the same time period, in my daily life, I have spoken in defense of the President and urged support countless times.  I am not obliged to blindly support him forever  -  14 months is long enough.

Since I declared I would support him, I now feel obliged to explain why I will not continue (and it should be noted I have waited until the right moment to make this announcement, as I wanted to do it at the best possible time so the President wouldn’t lose sleep over losing me at a critical time):

It’s been a year since he took office  -  not a terribly long time, but long enough to observe the general modus operandi of the administration, the President’s commitment to his campaign promises, and his ability to lead the country.  And there are two key things I’ve been looking for  -  the first is his promise to bring a change to Washington, and the second is his ability to lead.

  • OK, so the first, bringing a change to Washington.  Throughout his campaign he spoke of this, repeatedly, endlessly.  Never any specifics, but the way he spoke made it sound like there would be an end to lobbyists, an end to backroom deals.  It sounded like we would have honest, transparent government.  Like the political animals should head for the hills because there was a new sheriff in town.

This message resonated with many, including me.  I am tired of Washington shenanigans, the lies, the bait and switch.  The only difference with me being older than most of you is, I have had to tolerate it longer than you.  Washington has been a hornet’s nest for as long as I remember, with Republican ne’er-do-wells (engineering things like break-ins to their opponents campaign headquarters) and Democratic ne’er-do-wells (eliciting oral sex from interns in the Oval Office) - - and we have occasionally had brief glimpses of selfless individuals sacrificing their energy and their lives for their constituents.  Brief, far too brief.

So when someone declares they will bring a change, I will listen.  I could go on and on about what’s happened in Washington this year, but the bottom line is . . . Where’s The Change?  Changing one set of conniving politicians for another set is not the change I hoped for.  I have to assume from the President’s silence and lack of action to clean up the hornet’s nest, it is OK with him.  It is not OK with me.

  • And the second matter, leadership.  And the definition is - “the art of motivating a group of people to act towards achieving a common goal.”

I thought I saw this in Obama.  He showed the ability to motivate a very lot of people to work for him, and to vote for him.  He showed the ability to get people like myself, who have a lot of trouble identifying with the message of the major parties, to listen.

I, and I think many others, assumed (or hoped) that he would have the same effect on our Senators and Representatives, and would easily get them to follow his lead.  And, his own party took a majority in both houses of Congress . . . . a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate . . . . which means that the Democrat controlled Congress was positioned to pass any legislation they wanted, and could not be stopped by the Republicans.  I won’t go into long tiresome detail here, but what significant legislation has Obama led the Congress to pass in the last year?  Health Care, his number 1 goal, has been stalled for the entire year, even though his party had the votes to pass it any time they wanted.  Has he been able to convince his own party to get behind him?  Remember, the Republicans and the Independents didn’t have the votes to stop the Dems.

(And now that the people of Massachusetts have replaced Ted Kennedy with a Republican, the Dems have lost their filibuster-proof Senate.  And Obama suddenly is meeting with the Republicans for the first time.  On the surface, to gain their support  -  more likely to be able to say he tried, they blocked him, and be able to blame them for stopping his legislation.  Even though he could not convince his own party to pass the legislation when they were unstoppable.)

I could go on, but the reality is, he can’t get even his own party going in the right direction for long enough to pass his most important bill, let alone being able to “reach across the aisle” and get any of the opposition to support him.

So my conclusion is:

  1. He has not brought the change he promised to Washington.  Whether his intentions were pure is academic – he hasn’t delivered, and there’s no indication that he’s going to.
  2. He has not displayed the ability to lead the government, even though he continues to show the ability to get people to like him through his speeches and his rockstar persona.  Again he hasn’t delivered.

So I go back to the old axiom “Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.”  I am done being fooled.  The results, or lack thereof, speak for themselves.  We clearly need a change in Washington, starting with the do-nothing incumbents who control the Congress this November, and the say-a-lot but do-nothing residents of the White House in 2012.

(ps.  -  I hope my timing was okay Mr. President – I would hate you to lose sleep over this)
stusegal: (Default)

For a very long time, let’s say 1966 through the turn-of-the-century, I was an outspoken supporter of the idea that to keep the US economy strong we needed to change the balance of import/export, support our domestic manufacturers, and buy US products.  Especially cars.  (Without dwelling on the details, I guess I was, sadly, proven right).

So from 1966 until 2003 I owned American cars, American motorcycles, and I refused to support the foreign competitors.  That meant, for instance, that for about 25 years I refused to even ride in a foreign car on US soil.  By around the turn of the millennium I realized that what should have been a national effort to save manufacturing in the US had turned into what felt like a one-man effort.  (I now own an Italian motorcycle, a German motorcycle, and I drove a Japanese car for 3 years).

But Rashmika feels differently, and (being one of the many people who put “value” at the top of their list of requirements for cars) always liked Japanese cars.  So much so that, in ’06 when I decided to get rid of my Infiniti G35 Sport Coupe, she decided to get rid of the Jag I had got her and keep the Infiniti instead!

Recently, after the Infiniti was totaled, she decided on a Mazda RX-8 GT. 

I am still driving my Corvette.  So naturally when I realized the 24 Hours at Daytona was coming up (tomorrow), I looked at the list of entrants, and to my shock and dismay Corvette Racing (the official team from GM) was not listed.  To say this is a disappointment is an understatement  -  Corvette Racing has dominated the GT1 Class for a decade, and annually crushes Porsche, Ferrari, BMW, et al.  For whatever reason, they won’t be at Daytona (maybe they need Presidential approval), but they will be at Sebring, LeMans, etc. later in the year.

But in looking through the entrants what do I find?  Dempsey Racing (owned by Patrick Dempsey of Grey’s Anatomy fame) has entered, and is racing a Mazda RX-8 – same car/same engine as Rashmika’s!  And they’ll be running their little rotary-powered RX-8 head-to-head against the Porsches, Ferraris and BMWs.  And Dempsey, who might be mistaken for a namby-pamby pretty boy, is a genuine by-gosh race driver cut in the mold of Newman or McQueen  -  a wealthy actor who has the guts and has developed the skills to race competitively.

So this year, for the first time in my life, instead of rooting for the thunderous iconic American Corvettes, I’ll be hoping to see the little Japanese David slay the mighty Goliaths from Germany and Italy.  How bizarre.

RASHMIKA'S RX-8 GT (I guess her license frame says it all)


stusegal: (Show some respect!)

In this journal I usually write about scifi, cars or politics.  I don’t think I’ve ever written about our children - daughter, the Honorable Judge Samantha L. Segal, or son, Hugo Award winner Stephen H. Segal.  (It should be noted that even though they’re both in their 30’s, I still feel compelled to give them equal billing, so no one grows up feeling either favored or slighted).

But I know many of you, or you know me, as a result of either Stephen & I attending WorldCon for so many years, or as a result of you knowing Stephen as the editor of Weird Tales.  So today I’m writing about Steve.

By now you’ve likely seen the news  -  Stephen will be starting a new job, in a different city, in a couple weeks.  He’s joining Quirk Books in Philadelphia as their Acquisitions Editor.  Their publishing business has grown to the point that acquisitions can no longer be the part-time domain of their management team; they need a dedicated professional to acquire the best properties for them.  I’m sure in his quest to find the right properties Stephen will have the opportunity to work not only with well known authors, but with young fresh talent, something he has always enjoyed.

This means, of course, he’ll no longer be the Editorial Director at Weird Tales.  WT is, fortunately, blessed with extraordinary people . . . . publisher John Betancourt for whom WT is a labor of love, Editor Emeritus George Scithers, and their fantastic fiction editor, Ann Vandermeer.  Stephen will stay involved as their senior contributing editor (you may have already seen the Press Release from Weird Tales).

From a Father’s perspective, cheering from the sidelines of his kid’s life, Stephen’s experience at WT has been terrific.  Winning the Hugo with Weird Tales is the unplanned result of a largely uncharted journey we began when Stephen was a youngster, becoming a 4 year old Star Wars fan in a house filled with piles of science fiction books and a TV filled with Nimoy and Shatner.  Let’s not forget, Steve and I have been attending conventions for decades.   The idea that he might someday work in the field was something that never entered my mind (nor do I think it entered his mind until adulthood).

We met Isaac Asimov at our first NY Star Trek Convention, and spoke briefly with him about Stephen’s aspirations to be a writer.  Did I have any clue that Steve might someday share the honor of being the recipient of a Hugo Award with Dr. Asimov?  I have always had the high hopes and dreams that all parents have  -  but unlike most parents I’ve had the pleasure of seeing those dreams realized . . . actually, exceeded.

So Stephen moving on is, to me, bittersweet.  While he will still be involved with WT, he will no longer be the public figure you see at conventions promoting the magazine.  Does this mean you won’t see Steve or I at conventions  -  NO!  Long before Weird Tales or Hugos, we were going to Worldcons, and that won’t change.

What I suppose will change is . . . . we will no longer be able to be there incognito, and fade into the crowd as we did for so many years.  Some of you who attend Worldcon may have always wondered about the “coincidence” of “This is Not a Door” following us around the world.  (We thought it was hilarious).

So while Stephen will no longer be Mr. Weird Tales, he and I will continue to be what we think is the only father and son who take their annual trip to Worldcon (yes, I know most fathers take their sons fishing, or hunting, or to Talladega or the Superbowl . . . . but we want to go where it’s fun).  Yes, he and I make the trek every year, painful as it must be for our wives to be left behind and not attend an SF Con with us.  And I laugh more that week than I do all year  -  and when it’s over, I start counting the weeks until the next Worldcon.

So look for us at Worldcon.  Steve will be doing something with up and coming authors, and you can find me at 9AM at Stroll With The Stars.  (Just for clarification . . . this year we’ll be at Dragon*Con and will not be in Melbourne . . . . so look for us this year in Atlanta, and next year, 2011 in RENO!)  And wish Stephen good luck in his new job!

stusegal: (The 70s)
A few weeks back I posted a poll to determine who is America's Greatest Rock Star

FIRST, the voting:
  • 13 friends voted  -  either by logging in here at LiveJournal, or by commenting on Facebook, as follows:
    • WINNER - Bruce Springsteen - 8 votes
    • RUNNER UP - "Hey, Elvis dying was the beginning of the end of American rock, so fuggetaboudit" - 2 votes
    • Fats Domino - 1 vote
    • Bon Jovi - 1 vote
    • Tom Petti - 1 vote
SECOND, my (sad) conclusion.  13 people voted, but 2 voted for "rock is dead"  -  so really 11 people voted, not exactly overwhelming.  I would say, "apathetic".  It has been pointed out to me that the mainstream of people who listen to music are not listening to rock and roll any more, much as I was not listening to Frank Sinatra or Tony Bennett in the 50's, 60's, 70's.  I have been told that the mass of younger people are listening to Jay-Z, Eminem and other stars who are not rock and rollers.  So my second conclusion is, sadly, that I (and many of my friends) have reached that same place that my parents were in when I simply couldn't understand that they didn't "get it".  This is not to say that people, including young people, don't listen to r&r  -  it's just that r&r is no longer the mainstream music that expresses the aspirations, feelings and desires of the future of our society . . . the youth.

As this was a poll of American rock stars we didn't include Paul McCartney, U2, Elton John, David Bowie, etc., etc., etc.  There are currently many more major British rockers than there are Americans, but it really doesn't change the result.  R&R is taking it's place on the shelf next to the crooners of bygone days.  You can be sure the great R&R music will survive, but I'm afraid the days of girls screaming over Elvis, dancing in bars to the Rolling Stones' Honky Tonk Women and marching for righteous causes to the music of Bob Dylan are long gone, and don't reside anywhere in the memories of our youth.

PS: I will now go turn on my 70's era monster stereo, 500W per channel, and listen to the incomparable drum solo from In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, and rock will continue to live on here in my world.


The Killer

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