Author Archives: george


In 1980, Diane and I bought a new Magtag washer. The Maytag washer worked tirelessly and reliably for 40 years. We only had repairmen come out a couple times to fix minor problems. But, with the Second Wave of the coronavirus about to hit, Diane decided she wanted a new clothes washer instead of dealing with any potential problems a 40-year-old appliance would present during a pandemic.

The last time we had the Magtag serviced a few years ago, we asked the repairman what washer should we consider if we wanted to replace the Magtag. “I would recommend a Speed Queen washer,” he said. “They’re the closest thing to these old Maytag washers around.”

Since we hadn’t used the Government Stimulus Debit Card yet, Diane and I decided to buy the new Speed Queen washer with Government money. How are you and your washer getting along?


Here’s another book I’ve had on my shelves for decades. I bought The Virgin & The Wheels (1976) because of the cool wrap-around cover by Don Maitz. The Virgin & The Wheels consists of two novellas: “The Virgin of Zesh” and “The Wheels of If.”

The Virgin of Zesh” is the fourth book of de Camp’s  Viagens Interplanetarias series and the third of its sub-series of stories set on the fictional planet of Krishna. Chronologically, it is the fifth Krishna novella. Originally published in Thrilling Wonder Stories, February 1953, “The Virgin of Zesh” tells the story of Earth missionary Althea Merrick, who is stranded on the planet Krishna and fleeing from an unconsummated marriage to a corrupt and cruel Viagens Interplanetarias official. Merrick joins a scientist and poet who travel to a utopian Terran colony on the island of Zesh.  Of course, many things go wrong. Althea Merrick finds her faith shaken by events. GRADE: B+

“The Wheels of If” is an alternate history science fiction story first published in the magazine Unknown Fantasy Fiction for October, 1940. “The Wheels of If” first appeared in book form in de Camp’s collection The Wheels of If and Other Science Fiction (1948).  Lawyer Alister Park finds himself in alternate histories and needs to solve the puzzle of how to get back to his own time-line. GRADE: B

The Virgin & The Wheels collects two entertaining novellas from de Camp’s early writing career. If you’re looking for fun and diversion, here it is.


Back in 1989 when I bought a copy of Cher’s Heart of Stone, her 19th studio album, I loved the Optical Illusion Art cover. Op-Art was big in those days and having Cher sit next to a heart of stone that looks like a skull if you look at it the right way was memorable. The album was first released with the Op-Art artwork and later re-released the album with a more conventional cover. This original front cover album art is a painting by Octavio Ocampo that features Cher sitting beside a stone heart. However, when examined from a distance, it’s clear this is also a painting of a human skull in profile (note the midriff folds of Cher’s dress forming the teeth. The artwork was changed shortly after its release, making this copy with the original artwork a collector’s item.

Heart of Stone contains several hits that made the charts. “If I Could Turn Back Time” made it to Number Three on the Billboard chart. The album sold 4 million albums and Cher went on the road for her Heart of Stone Tour (1989-1990). Heart of Stone was Geffin Records first Number One International album. Are you a Cher fan? GRADE: B+


1.If I Could Turn Back TimeDiane WarrenWarrenGuy Roche4:16
2.Just Like Jesse JamesWarrenDesmond ChildChild4:06
3.You Wouldn’t Know LoveWarrenMichael BoltonBolton3:30
4.Heart of StoneAndy HillPete SinfieldPeter Asher4:21
5.“Still in Love with You”BoltonBob HalliganBolton3:08
6.“Love on a Rooftop”WarrenChildAsher4:22
7.“Emotional Fire”WarrenChildBoltonChild3:53
8.“All Because of You”Jon LindSue SchifrinLind3:30
9.“Does Anybody Really Fall in Love Anymore?”WarrenChildJon Bon JoviRichie SamboraChild4:12
10.“Starting Over”BoltonJonathan CainBolton4:09
11.“Kiss to Kiss”LindMary D’astuguesPhil GaldstonLind4:23
12.After All” (with Peter Cetera) (love theme from Chances Are)Tom SnowDean PitchfordAsher4:07

PEACE TALKS By Jim Butcher

When a writer takes off six years, can he pick up where he left off–or does he lose a step? That’s the question I had when I picked up Jim Butcher’s latest Harry Dresden novel, Number 16 in the series. Butcher’s last Dresden novel was published in 2014. Skin Game packed a lot of action into a caper novel (you can read my review here).

Since the Harry Dresden novels feature plenty of combat, I was wary of the title Peace Talks. Somehow, I figured Dresden would end up fighting for his life…and I wasn’t wrong! Just a few pages into Peace Talks Dresden faces death from the Hounds of Tindalos (created by Frank Belknap Long in his 1929 story of the same name and H. P. Lovecraft mentions the creatures in his 1931 short story “The Whisperer in Darkness”). Later, at the Peace Conference, all Hell breaks loose and Chicago–and maybe the rest of the world–face annihilation by a Power that threatens to be impossible to defeat. We’ll find out the Fate of the World in the next Harry Dresden novel, Battle Ground, due to be published in late September 2020. GRADE: B

AWAY [Netflix]

After watching two episodes of Hilary Swank’s new series, Away, I am walking away. I like Hilary Swank and I like the premise of an international mission to travel to Mars. But, from showrunner Jessica Goldberg (“The Path”) to executive producer and writer Jason Katims (“Parenthood,” “Friday Night Lights”) the emphasis of this series is on family drama.

Hilary Swank plays Emma Green, the mission to Mars commander. But two of her crew members–the Russian engineer and the Chinese chemist–don’t trust Emma. Even the pilot from India and the botanist from Africa are shaky allies. So there’s a lot of drama with the crew. I could deal with that, but then there’s all the family drama. Just before the flight to Mars, Emma’s husband (Josh Charles) has a medical emergency. Emma’s teenage daughter (Talitha Bateman) specializes in angst.

So, not enough action, not enough Science Fiction, and too much emoting by all the actors on the screen. I have plenty of other TV programs to watch. GRADE: C-

WHY DID I GET A B? By Shannon Reed

If I had a dollar for every time a student asked me, “Why did I get a B?” I’d be as rich as Jeff Bezos! Shannon Reed’s Why Did I Get a B?: And Other Mysteries We’re Discussing in the Faculty Lounge delivers both laughs and tears. Reed is brave enough to write about her worst day as a teacher when she was so frustrated by her class, she abandoned them during a holiday presentation in the school auditorium and went back to her classroom to cry. But, things get better as Reed changes schools and her career goals. GRADE: B

Table of Contents

Author’s Note xiii

Preface: You Are Not Alone 1

Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Teacher?: A Quiz 7

If People Talked to Other Professionals the Way They Talk to Teachers 9

Part I Preschool, Elementary School, and Middle School

How I Came to Teach Preschool 13

Other Vehicular Styles of Parenting 25

All Your Children Are Broken 28

It’s Cooking Day at Preschool! 32

A Letter from Your Child’s Teacher, on Winter Holiday Gifts 37

Middle School Parent-Teacher Conference Night, in Internet Headlines 40

How I Imagined My Teachers Conversed about Me When I Was Thirteen 43

Memo to Parents and Legal Guardians Re: Our Updated Schedule for Spirit Days at Mapledale Middle School 47

Part II High School

How I Came to Teach High School 53

The Unspoken Rules of the Teachers’ Lounge 58

An Alphabet for the School at the End of Beach 112th 61

Student Essay Checklist 89

A Conclusive Ranking of the Students at Hogwarts by Order of How Much I Would Enjoy Teaching Them 91

Dear Parents: We’re Going with a Hamilton-Centered Curriculum This Year! 96

Somewhat More Free 99

Random School Motto Generator 121

The Other Class 122

A Field Guide to Spotting Bad Teachers 126

Paulie 128

It’s Your Twenty-Minute Lunch Period! 149

To Stan, with Love 155

Field Trip Rules 161

Teachers Reveal the Holiday Gifts They Actually Want 165

I’m Going to Make It through the Last Faculty Meeting of the Year by “Yes, and…”-ing It 167

Part III College

All Part of a Plan, Maybe; or, How I Came to Be a Professor 175

If Bruce Springsteen Wrote about Adjuncts 182

On Adjuncting 184

Classic College Movies Updated for the Adjunct Era 192

A Brief List of What Students Have Called Me 196

On Student Evaluations 198

My Ideal Student Evaluation Questionnaire 207

Worst, Weirdest, and Best 209

A Short Essay by a Student Who Googled the Professor Instead of Reading Jane Eyre 213

Moral Quandaries for Professors 215

I See You. 218

An Incomplete List of Sources I Have Seen Plagiarized 220

I Know You’re Asleep Right Now, but Please Get Back to Me ASAP 222

Sports Analogies for Academics 233

“Why Did I Get a B?”: An Answer in Four Fables 236

Taught 240

Everyone Who Attends Must Converse 245

Part IV A Few Last Tidbits for the Cool Kids Who Like to Hang Out in My Room after School Is Out

My Last Pieces of Good Advice for New Teachers and Professors 257

How I Imagine Retirement from Teaching Will Be at Seventy-Two 259

Acknowledgments 263

Credits 272


Dear Liar is two-actor play based on the letters of George Bernard Shaw and and Mrs. Patrick Campbell (the woman Shaw used as a model for Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion). For decades Shaw and Campbell conducted a correspondence that this comedy highlights. Shaw, as the letters clear show, was in love with Campbell. Campbell admired Shaw, but she seems more interested in flirting than getting involved in what would have been a messy relationship.

Marsha Mason and Brian Cox are performing an online version of Dear Liar. If you’re interested, here’s the link to access the play:


Usually I get my flu shot in October, but with all the warnings about an early flu season (and with the coronavirus pandemic raging) I decided to get my flu shot right now. Diane got her flu shot earlier this week. Are you planning to get a flu shot? When?

FORGOTTEN BOOKS #609: COSMIC CORSAIRS Edited by Hank Davis & Christopher Ruocchio

The first Space Pirate SF novel I ever read was back in the early 1960s when I read Murray Leinster’s The Pirates of Zan (one half of an ACE Double). Since then, I’ve read a number of Space Pirate stories with some of them ending up in Hank Davis’s latest anthology, Cosmic Corsairs. I’ve read and reviewed about a dozen of Hank Davis’s SF anthologies. I like his choice of stories and Davis provides informative introductions about the stories and the authors who wrote them.

One of the Space Pirate stories I’d read when it was first published in 1966 (in If: Worlds of Science Fiction) is Larry Niven’s “A Relic of Empire.” It may be the best story in this book! And I’d read “Boojam” by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette in 2008. After that, the rest of the stories in Cosmic Corsairs were new to me. I’m a big Fritz Leiber fan but I’d never read his “They Never Came Back.”

“Postmark Ganymede” by Robert Silverberg is an early story with plenty of pulp. For fans of James H. Schmitz, there’s “Captives of the Thieve-Star” from a 1951 issue of Planet Stories. If you’re in the mood to don your eye-patch and join the pirate adventures, Cosmic Corsairs is right for you! GRADE: B+


Introduction: Yo-Ho-Ho and a Bottle of Oxygen by Hank Davis 1
“Boojum” by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette (Fast Ships, Black Sails, Night Shade Books, 2008) 5
“A Relic of the Empire” by Larry Niven (If: Worlds of Science Fiction, December 1966) 27
“The Night Captain” by Christopher Ruocchio —  published for the first time 47
“Pirate Chance” by Carysa Locke — published for the first time 77
“They Never Come Back” by Fritz Leiber (Future Fiction, August 1941) 101
“Redeemer” by Gregory Benford (Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, April 1980) 147
“Trading Up” by Sarah A. Hoyt and Robert A. Hoyt — published for the first time 161
“Breaking News Regarding Space Pirates” by Brian Trent (Galaxy’s Edge 23, November 2016) 183
“Teen Angel” by R. Garcia y Robertson (Asimov’s Science Fiction, February 2006) 193
“Blackout in Cygni” by James Blish (Planet Stories, July 1951) 229
“Postmark Ganymede” by Robert Silverberg (Amazing Stories, September 1957) 249
“Mystery of the Space Pirates” by Arlan Andrews, Sr. (Pulsar 11, Fall 1988) 259
“Collision Orbit” by Katherine MacLean (Science Fiction Adventures, May 1954) 263
“The Barbary Shore” by James L. Cambias (Shimmer, August 2007) 273
“Captives of the Thieve-Star” by James H. Schmitz (Planet Stories, May 1951) 289


On May 3, 1968 I saw a CREAM performance in a Milwaukee, Wisconsin bar with about 300 other fans. Eric Clapton played his guitar like his hair was on fire! Clapton later drifted off to BLIND FAITH and then launched a successful solo career. The consistent factor is Clapton’s extraordinary talent. The Cream of Clapton captures much of his best work. If you want one Eric Clapton album, this is the one I’d recommend. Are you a Clapton fan? GRADE: A


  1. Cream: “I Feel Free” (Pete BrownJack Bruce) – 2:52 (from Fresh Cream, 1966)
  2. Sunshine of Your Love” (Brown, Bruce, Eric Clapton) – 4:11 (from Disraeli Gears, 1967)
  3. White Room” (Brown, Bruce) – 5:00 (from Wheels of Fire, 1968)
  4. Crossroads” (Live) (Robert Johnsonarr. by Clapton) – 4:16 (from Wheels of Fire, 1968)
  5. Badge” (Clapton, George Harrison) – 2:46 (from Goodbye, 1969)
  6. Blind Faith: “Presence of the Lord” (Clapton) – 4:50 (from Blind Faith, 1969)
  7. Solo: “Blues Power” (Clapton, Leon Russell) – 3:11 (from Eric Clapton, 1970)
  8. After Midnight” (J.J. Cale) – 2:53 (from Eric Clapton, 1970)
  9. Let It Rain” (Bonnie BramlettDelaney Bramlett, Clapton) – 5:04 (from Eric Clapton, 1970)
  10. Derek and the Dominos: “Bell Bottom Blues” (Clapton) – 5:02 (from Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, 1970)
  11. Layla” (Clapton, Jim Gordon) – 7:05 (from Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, 1970)
  12. Solo: “I Shot the Sheriff” (Bob Marley) – 4:23 (from 461 Ocean Boulevard, 1974)
  13. “Let It Grow” (Clapton) – 4:58 (from 461 Ocean Boulevard, 1974)
  14. Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” (Bob Dylan) – 4:22 (Non-album single, 1975)
  15. Hello Old Friend” (Clapton) – 3:36 (from No Reason to Cry, 1976)
  16. Cocaine” (Cale) – 3:39 (from Slowhand, 1977)
  17. Wonderful Tonight” (Clapton) – 3:42 (from Slowhand, 1977)
  18. Promises” (Richard FeldmanRoger Linn) – 3:04 (from Backless, 1978)
  19. I Can’t Stand It” (Clapton) – 4:09 (from Another Ticket, 1981)