It’s Not Just a Con, It’s ConGregate!

Or: Storming the Bastille of Fandom! 😂 Get it? It’s Bastille Day! 🤣

Anyway, the ConGregate science fiction and fantasy convention is this weekend in Winston-Salem, NC. I’ve got a pretty busy schedule this year, starting with my first solo show in over a year:


  • 4:00 p.m. — Concert — in which I sing some songs I don’t usually sing in concerts 😜
  • 5:30 p.m. — Improv Show, “Whose Con Is It, Anyway?” 😂🤣
  • 7:00 p.m. — Opening Ceremonies: E Como Mai


  • 10:30 a.m. — Panel, “So, You Want to be a Writer?”
  • 12:00 p.m. — Baen Books Traveling Roadshow & Prize Patrol
  • 1:30 p.m. — Panel, “Authentic Military References in Writing”
  • 3:00 p.m. — Special Event, “White Plectrum and Friends” Concert
  • 6:00 p.m. — Reading — with four other writers! 😮
  • 7:30 p.m. — Panel, “Building Mythology and Ritual into Genre Writing”


  • 8:30 a.m. — Prayer & Praise Service
  • 10:00 a.m. — Panel, “Ask Me Anything — Publishing”
  • 11:30 a.m. — Panel, “‘Put Explosion in Here’ and Other Editing Mistakes”

Hope to see lots of friends there — and if that’s you, don’t be a stranger!

Related Items of Interest:
Taking You Out to See the Stars is still my newest album, and still available on Bandcamp (listen free!) and streaming services like Spotify
– Here are The Gray Man’s Recommendations for Near-Future, Near-Space SF Novels
– Watch the music video of “Tauntauns to Glory

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To Blog, or Not to Blog, that is the Question

Whether ’tis nobler on the Net to suffer the slings and arrows of outraged trolls, or to take arms against a sea of opinions and by opposing refute them …

Hamlet's famous soliloquy, 'To be or not to be'
(Hamlet’s famous soliloquy.)

Seriously, I wonder whether I should relegate this site to the dustbin of the Internet archives — they say the Internet is forever, after all — or whether I should start back again, tossing out the oddball ideas I’ve collected. I literally have tens of thousands of words of half-formed blog post ideas collected in a Word document. Some of them might even be decent.

Sometimes I think I should get them out in the open and out of my head. I even — gasp! — blogged about that before.

Sometimes I think I should keep them to myself, that nobody’s much interested. (Sometimes I think that last bit doesn’t matter.)

(Sigh.) We’ll see what happens, won’t we?

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On This Day of Thanks

I try to give thanks every day, for any number of things. On this day of special thanks, my every-so-often newsletter was about what I’m particularly grateful for, and this afternoon I got to have Thanksgiving dinner with my 94-year-old dad for the first time in several years. He adopted me back when I was in elementary school, and I’m grateful for the excellent example he gave me — in fact, I often wish I was more like him than like myself. Thanks, Pop!

I hope you had a fine, festive, and fulfilling Thanksgiving!

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My New Political Party

Having moved recently, I had to submit voter registration paperwork in my new district. Rather than pick any of the major parties, I listed a party of one: The Foundations Party.

I thought of this party a long time ago, and came up with a list of foundations that the party — i.e., that I — consider important:

  • The foundation of society is the family
  • The foundation of civilization is productive creativity (or creative production)
  • The foundation of commerce is freedom of choice
  • The foundations of science are verifiable facts and repeatable experimentation
  • The foundations of knowledge are communicable concepts upheld by experience
  • The foundations of learning are curiosity and wonder
  • The foundations of freedom are autonomy and available options
  • The foundation of liberty is life itself … which may be the price paid for it
  • The foundation of the law is respect for individual autonomy
  • The foundation of civility is self-control

(Image from

You might quibble with my definitions, but as this is a single-person party, my definitions suffice for me. But are there any other foundational statements I should add? What would you suggest, using the formula “The foundation(s) of __ is(are) __”?

And: Want to join me? 😉Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

ConGregate Starts Today!

After missing LibertyCon last month 😟 due to personal issues, I’m determined to make it to ConGregate this weekend in Winston-Salem, NC. Which is not to say that all the personal issues have been taken care of — far from it — but I’m going to try to ignore them as much as possible.

Here’s my schedule:


  • 4:00 p.m. — Concert — a mix of silly and serious songs, including several selections from the new album, Taking You Out to See the Stars
  • 7:00 p.m. — Opening Ceremonies: E Como Mai


  • 1:30 p.m. — Panel, “Communicating Science”
  • 4:00 p.m. — Game, “Well, Actually…”
  • 6:00 p.m. — Baen Books Traveling Slide Show & Prize Patrol


  • 9:00 a.m. — Prayer & Praise Service
  • 1:00 p.m. — Filk Collective

Don’t be a stranger — and let’s have some fun!

Related Items of Interest:
– My new album, Taking You Out to See the Stars, is now available on Bandcamp, as well as on streaming services like Spotify!
– Here are The Gray Man’s Recommendations for Near-Future, Near-Space SF Novels
– Watch the music video of “Tauntauns to GloryFacebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

The Gray Man’s Recommendations for Near-Future, Near-Space SF Novels

With apologies for eventually asking you to click through to another site, I was recently invited to submit a book recommendation list to, a new and growing book recommendation portal. It’s still currently in “beta,” but it’s a pretty neat site with a huge variety of book recommendation lists.

They gave me complete freedom to select and recommend any books I wanted, and (not surprisingly) the list I created is what I consider to be The best stories about near-future, near-space (though I confess I used the term “near space” VERY loosely).

In hopes that you’ll click the link above and go check it out, I won’t repeat the whole list here, but to give you the flavor of it: My first recommendation is Robert A. Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

(NASA image of Earth over the lunar plain.)

So please check it out! and if you like something you see, please share it with your friends!Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

I Ran Out of a Funeral, and Then the Weekend Got Worse

Skip this entry if you don’t want to know how pathetic I am.

I should have known, when I got out my black suit for the funeral this past Saturday, that it was not going to go well. I had left the program from the last service I attended in the breast pocket of the jacket. It was the program from Jill’s memorial service.*

I should have known, when I read through the funeral program, that it was not going to go well. Instead, I barely saw the words. I was too caught up in my own thoughts: first, selfishly and (admittedly) angrily wondering why this person got to live 21 years longer than Jill did; second, just as selfishly wishing my recent ladyfriend was there, so I could hold her hand to try to make it through the service. But we had broken up a few months ago — itself a tragedy of errors, many caused unwittingly by me — and I had no one there with me.

Then the first song in the program began: “In the Garden,” a song that featured prominently in Jill’s life and, as a result, in her memorial service.

So I fled.

And came home to a very disappointing package in the mailbox. I’ve only told a couple of people about it, and I won’t go into its contents here; suffice it to say that it was disturbing and disheartening.

Now, I must admit that the weekend wasn’t all bad. I had a nice visit with friends I hadn’t seen in some time, and got to spend some time in the recording studio where we made some progress on the last couple of songs for the new album.

But the worst was yet to come.

(Image: “.,” by Jeremy Lelievre, on Flickr under Creative Commons.)

Because, by the diabolical magic of social media, on Sunday evening I was treated to pictures of my old ladyfriend — whose hand I had wanted to hold, and who I secretly hoped might one day wish to rekindle the romance we had — with her new fellow.

It wasn’t completely unexpected — I knew she was seeing someone, and had convinced myself that as long as she was happy, I could be happy for her. And, in the main, that’s true — my deepest wish is for her to be happy. But I wasn’t prepared for how much it would hurt to see her happy with someone else. (I recognize that it’s a hurt I earned, by being stupid, and careless, and even a little callous. It may even be a hurt I deserve.) When I was wishing I could hold her hand at that funeral, I had no idea just how far from me she had grown. But then, when I looked at pictures of the two of us on social media, I saw that she had untagged herself from every one. I can’t express how bad I feel, knowing that she must hate me that much. I’m gutted.

I do hope the man she’s with now is good to her, and good for her. I still care for her a great deal, and I will always love her. But this was a very difficult weekend to learn that she no longer cares for me, and is better off with someone else.

Such was this most recent, most wretched weekend of my pathetic life.

*As in, Jill my wife, who died in October 2019.Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

North Charleston, Here I Come

This weekend is the 2022 iteration of the “All Types of Media Arts Convention,” better known as AtomaCon! It’s a small but well-run science fiction and fantasy convention, being held at the Hilton Garden Inn in North Charleston, South Carolina.

I’m going to be busy with a variety of activities this time:


  • 6 p.m. — Improv Game, “Whose Con is It, Anyway?”
  • 10 p.m. — Open Filk


  • 11:30 a.m. — Panel, “What Was Your Gateway Book to Fandom?”
  • 2 p.m. — Concert!
  • 7 p.m. — Game, “Well, Actually” (I’m running this one)
  • 10 p.m. — Open Filk


  • 10:00 a.m. — Baen Books Traveling Slide Show & Prize Patrol
  • 1 p.m. — Filk Open Mic (if I haven’t headed home by then)

Should be a good time! and it’ll give me a chance to stop in and see my dad on the way.

If you’re in the area, come by and see us!

Related Items of Interest:
Available for preorder! My new album, Taking You Out to See the Stars
– Watch the music video of “Tauntauns to Glory”Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Abortion is Sad Enough Already

I’ve long considered that abortion is a tragedy no matter how we look at it. In the wake of the reprehensible leak of the Supreme Court’s draft decision on the subject, I’ve thought about whether my view of the subject has changed. It has not.

In the final analysis, abortion makes me sad. It saddens me in the essential fact of it, and it saddens me that it would ever be deemed necessary or the best option for a pregnant woman to pursue. I know that my sadness, my emotional response, does not and cannot make it right or wrong. My assessment of it as a sad thing rather than a happy thing, a bad thing rather than a good thing, is my own and can form no reasonable basis for anyone else’s opinion or any policy action.

It just makes me sad. It makes me sad to think of a baby that will not be born. It makes me sad to think of a woman driven to the extreme that it represents. It just makes me sad.

I’ve written about abortion before, and my take on it in “Ladies, Stand Your Ground” was perhaps a bit unconventional. Early in that post I made this statement: “I believe the decision to abort a baby must be one of the most difficult decisions a human being may ever make. I do not intend to second-guess anyone who has made that decision, nor do I intend to criticize or vilify them.” I still believe that, and I still refuse to second-guess, criticize, or vilify anyone for their decision either to have or not have an abortion. I don’t believe it’s my place to do so.

Toward the end of that piece, I wrote

It is possible to wish for every unborn child to be wanted and to be cared for, in utero and beyond, just as it is possible to wish that there might be no thugs, no rapists, no burglars, no threats against people’s lives, persons, or property. Wishing for these things, however, does not make them come to pass, and so we are faced with difficult decisions that have far-reaching consequences.

The fact that these situations exist — if you will, that these evils exist — makes me sad.

I realize that many people disagree. I’ve written before about why we may never agree on various issues, including the issue of abortion. Disagreement can be uncomfortable, and sometimes “Once we have established our relative positions, and do not take the time or make the effort to examine our differing assumptions and premises, [no] argument is particularly convincing.” In that post, I made up two positions on abortion that appeared to me to be diametrically opposed:

  • “I object to abortion on demand despite a woman having the right to subject her body to whatever procedure she chooses, and because of the effect such a procedure would have on a potential human life growing inside her.”
  • “I support abortion on demand because a woman has the right to subject her body to whatever procedure she chooses, and despite the effect such a procedure would have on a potential human life growing inside of her.”

I don’t know that anyone holds either position in such unsparing terms, but they served as examples of positions that seem irreconcilable.

(Image: “Baby Heart Womb,” by Jeff Jacobs, from Pixabay.)

Many years ago, on an old version of my website (so old that I can’t find a link), I presented the “Anti-Candidate position on abortion” as follows:

We like babies. Babies are pretty neat: little miracles of DNA, little potentialities, little images of God. We especially like them when they’re ooh-ing and aah-ing and exploring this world that’s so magical to them and so mundane to us.
We don’t so much like changing diapers.
We know that some people can’t take care of their babies, but it seems as if these days there are plenty of people who can’t have babies who would love to take care of one or two or several. And we like the vast majority of the human race, in general, so we come down on the side of life.
Babies are cool, and mostly so are the people they grow up to be.

Having recently become a grandfather and therefore reacquainted with changing diapers, I can still say it’s not my favorite thing to do — but it’s not so bad. My grandson is a fine little chap, even though he’s not quite to the exploring-the-world stage, and I look forward to getting to know him better.

So I still come down on the side of life, by which I mean the whole of life: birth, growth, discovery, calling, relationship, adventure. I wish that every baby, every child, every teenager, every adult, every person could live a long, healthy, happy, fulfilled life.

Unfortunately, as I wrote before, “Wishing for these things … does not make them come to pass.” (How well I know that.)

So where does that leave me, other than sitting comfortably and signaling my virtue?

It leaves me hoping that this Supreme Court decision, if it comes down even close to the form that was released, results in a more open debate of the issue in state legislatures and even on the floor of Congress. As I recall my Schoolhouse Rock, a law has to first be a bill, and a bill has to be passed to become a law, and all of that is the responsibility of the Legislative Branch. That’s how representative democracy is supposed to work.

It leaves me hoping, if the debate results in legislation, that the law is more graceful, more restorative, than punitive. Abortion — in theory and even more in practice — is difficult enough that we need not pile more difficulties atop it.

Abortion is sad enough as it is. We need not make it sadder.Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Coming Soon(ish): Taking You Out to See the Stars

After being postponed last year, we’re back at it for my third album of original music, which (like my first two) will contain some truths, some lies, and some make-believe—but it’s safe to say that Taking You Out to See the Stars will be my most personal project by far.

(As of 27 January 2022, all we have is a placeholder for the cover art.)

To mark the arrival of the James Webb Space Telescope at its designated orbit on Monday, I put up the title song (which you can listen to for free at the link). I’m not sure what the final running order will be or if we might swap out a song or two, but the current lineup of songs is:

  • “Another Space and Time”
  • “Midnight”
  • “Questions”
  • “Remembrance”
  • “My Bonnie Lies Over an Ocean of Stars”
  • “Safely Through the Storm (Legend of the Gray Man)”
  • “Alice Flagg”
  • “On the Prowl”
  • “Prayer for an Epiphany”
  • “Taking You Out to See the Stars”
  • “All That is Gold”
  • “When Earth’s Last Picture is Painted”
  • “How Fair, How Far”

Over the next few months, as we finish additional songs, we’ll upload them until the album is complete. That’ll give me something to blog about once in a while, though I may provide more insight in my newsletter. But if you’re of a mind, the album is available for preorder here!Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmailby feather