Tick Tock: Yarrow is Fine!

For those of you who asked in the comments and/or emailed me concerned that Yarrow was absent, I did reach out to Yarrow. And, as I said I’d do once I heard back, I am now reporting back that I’ve heard from Yarrow. Yarrow is fine. Just very busy. As you may recall he related he was dealing with/helping out with some health issues pertaining to his dad. That is taking up a lot of his time and energy. So he’s out there, doing what he has to do, and doing right by his dad. So send some good thoughts his and his dad’s way.

Open thread!

When efgoldman Talks Someone Else Emails Us the Response…

Several of you had been expressing concern in the comments about efgoldman as he’d not been around. Some speculated that he’d taken a late summer trip to Camp Methusaleh: The Last Resort. I reached out to SiubhanDuinne, Badass Jackal as I knew she had been in touch with efg to see if she could check on him and report back. She got a response earlier today and while she posted it as a comment this afternoon, I wanted to make sure everyone saw it

Good news, Jackals! I talked with efgoldman for 15-20 minutes this afternoon.

He is, as you would guess, an intensely private person, but he has authorized me to share the following:

He has been in hospital for a couple of weeks now, having had major surgery on both feet. He was lucky enough to find a vascular surgeon who specializes in saving limbs rather than removing them — so while he’s looking at months of healing and rehab, he still has his feet and all his toes, I gather.

He’s not sure just when he’ll be walking again; expects to be in hospital probably at least until Thanksgiving, but may be home for Christmas. He did say all his vital signs are surprisingly good; I told him he’s probably the only one of us whose blood pressure is normal and who’s sleeping well these days!

Unfortunately, he will not be on line for the duration, but is more than grateful that so many Balloon Juicers miss him, love him, and have been asking about him. I hope in the next day or two I can share his IRL name (it is not efg!) as well as hospital address, room number, direct phone, etc. (Thought I had the latter from the incoming call data, but it turns out to be a dummy number, so I’ll have to track him down through patient info.)

At any rate, he said he would love to hear from and even see Juicers, so as soon as I — or, more likely, a front-pager — posts the relevant information, do think about sending him a card, giving him a call, or paying him a visit if you’re in the Boston area.

I plan to talk with him once a week or so and will share news and jokes and curmudgeonliness.


For those concerned about Yarrow, I emailed him last week when you all asked after him, but have yet to hear back yet. I will update when I hear.

Open thread.

Friday Morning Open Thread: Queen Aretha Will Never Die

She was a religious woman, and her faith was strong in an afterlife where she could forever share her gifts. We will surely miss her, though!

The lyrics of The House That Jack Built were problematic even in 1968, but it was always one of my favorites. Something about Ms. Franklin’s voice acknowledging, in the mirror-image of a contemporaneous hit, that even when you fought righteously to get what you needed, it might not be everything you wanted

For 17 years, I wrote Aretha dozens of postcards and letters, one every six months, promoting myself as the right collaborator for her memoirs. After working with Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and Etta James, I asked each of them to put in a good word for me. When I ghosted Jerry Wexler’s memoirs, I asked him to do the same. They all complied, yet Aretha stayed silent. I befriended her brother Clarence, her sister-in-law Earline, her sisters Erma and Carolyn and her first cousin Brenda. Although I researched Aretha’s life thoroughly, my aim wasn’t a biography, but to work with Aretha herself. I wanted to be her ghost. Of all the great voices, hers was the one I yearned to channel.

And then it happened. Before going to Detroit to research a Motown project, I sent Aretha a postcard — probably my two hundredth — saying I’d love to see her. When she called me at my hotel, I nearly lost it. But I held on, spoke to her for over an hour and convinced her that I was her literary man. We went to work on her book.

Those close to her said she’d never let down her guard. But that didn’t faze me. I’d win over her trust and charm the truth out of her. I didn’t. I found what we wrote — From These Roots (1999) — shallow and void of introspection. During the process, Aretha and I remained civil to another, but she clearly rejected my approach and fashioned the book according to her fantasy of an idyllic life. That was her right. We’re all free to mythologize ourselves any way we please…
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Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Real-World Heroes

When a man with a shotgun shattered the glass door of the Capital Gazette newspaper office and began to shoot, Wendi Winters stood up…

Janel Cooley, a survivor of the shooting that killed Winters and four others, spoke about her experience for the first time in an interview with The Capital. She said she watched from under her desk as the 20-year newspaper veteran rose to meet her attacker.

Winters charged forward holding a trash can and recycling bin, said Cooley, a sales consultant. Winters shouted something like, “No! You stop that!” or “You get out of here!” like she was warding off an unwanted dog.

“She may have distracted him enough that he forgot about me because I definitely stood up and was looking at the door,” Cooley said. “I’m sure he wasn’t expecting … anyone to charge him.”

Winters’ colleagues agree she saved their lives. Of the 11 employees in the office during the attack, six survived…

Winters once gave fellow reporter Rachael Pacella the shirt off her back when Pacella spilled gasoline on her clothes before an important interview. She checked in on photojournalist Paul W. Gillespie incessantly after his brother died. Intern Anthony Messenger, who started at The Capital weeks before the attack, said Winters always tried to make him feel comfortable.

From the details her family has of the attack, Winters’ son Phoenix Geimer said, “It sounds like her.”…

Davis has a snapshot in his mind of everyone where they were when the gunman blasted in, he said. Winters was originally at her desk. Messenger said he remembers seeing Winters there with a puzzled look on her face as the attack began.

As Pacella and Davis hid, they heard the same shots Cooley did. Then there was a pause. They thought it was over.

The pause, Davis said, could have been Winters intervening. It gave Pacella time to get up from under her desk, run for the back door and then hide between filing cabinets.

“I think that Wendi doing what she did served as enough of a distraction that maybe he didn’t see us,” Pacella said. “I absolutely think that Wendi Winters saved my life.”

Anthony Bourdain Dead, RIP

Depression is a horrible thing. Apparently, he committed suicide in France. He was a great chef, communicator, and shared the glory that is human culinary ingenuity and tradition. He will be missed.


Folks, don’t ever let your depression make you ignore this wonderful community of jackals and pet lovers. We will help you, hold, and lift you, just reach out.

I’ll  update with links soon and suicide prevention information.


The National Suicide Prevention 24 Hour Hotline is (800) 273-8255



You can also text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741. People are standing by, ready to help without judgement.

From Memorial Day 2017 To Memorial Day 2018: The Tally Of The Fallen

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863

Those who have died in service to the US from 29 May 2017 to 28 May 2018:

Sergeant Erik M Houck

Sergeant William M. Bayes

Corporal Dillon C. Baldridge

Private First Class Hanson B. Kirkpatrick

Sergeant Jonathon M. Hunter

Specialist Christopher M. Harris

Technical Sergeant David Board

Specialist Allen Levi Stigler, Jr.

Sergeant Roshain Euvince Brooks

Staff Sergeant Aaron R. Butler

Specialist Alexander R. Missildine

Staff Sergeant Dustin M. Wright

Sergeant La David T. Johnson

Sergeant Jeremiah W. Johnson

Staff Sergeant Bryan C. Black

Chief Warrant Officer Jacob M. Sims

Sergeant First Class Stephen B. Cribben

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Lee M. Smith

Sergeant First Class Hughton O. Brown

Corporal Todd L. McGurn

Specialist Avadon A. Chaves

Sergeant First Class Mihail Golin

Specialist Javion S. Sullivan

Sergeant Christina M. Schoenecker

Sergeant First Class Maitland D. Wilson

Captain Christopher Zanetis

Captain Mark Weber

Master Sergeant Christopher Raguso

Master Sergeant William Posch

Captain Andreas O’Keeffe

Staff Sergeant Carl Enis

Staff Sergeant Dashan Briggs

Master Sergeant Jonathan J. Dunbar

Ursula K. LeGuin, Who Walked Away from Omelas

Letter to The Oregonian, published February 1, 2017:

A recent letter in The Oregonian compares a politician’s claim to tell “alternative facts” to the inventions of science fiction. The comparison won’t work. We fiction writers make up stuff. Some of it clearly impossible, some of it realistic, but none of it real – all invented, imagined — and we call it fiction because it isn’t fact. We may call some of it “alternative history” or “an alternate universe,” but make absolutely no pretense that our fictions are “alternative facts.”

Facts aren’t all that easy to come by. Honest scientists and journalists, among others, spend a lot of time trying to make sure of them. The test of a fact is that it simply is so – it has no “alternative.” The sun rises in the east. To pretend the sun can rise in the west is a fiction, to claim that it does so as fact (or “alternative fact”) is a lie.

A lie is a non-fact deliberately told as fact. Lies are told in order to reassure oneself, or to fool, or scare, or manipulate others. Santa Claus is a fiction. He’s harmless. Lies are seldom completely harmless, and often very dangerous. In most times, most places, by most people, liars are considered contemptible. — Ursula K. Leguin

I’m so old, my introduction to LeGuin was a third or fourth printing of the Ace Double Rocannon’s World, which I picked up because I was a major Andre Norton fan. When I discovered sf fandom in college, there were still malefen ready to explain that LeGuin wasn’t really an sf/fantasy writer — just a nice older lady who wrote “safe fairy tales for school librarians”. That was before The Left Hand of Darkness became… canon.

Ursula K. LeGuin, outside category, walked away from the sanitized, “civilized” communities of every literary genre she touched. She never explicitly set out to lead the rest of us away from those settled mental landscapes, but anyone walking with such determination and sparkle will always attract a following among the curious and the discontent…

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