Monday, September 30, 2013

When the Rain Comes

After a record dry summer, we now have had a week of record-breaking rain. Now we aren't talking tropical deluges, but we have gotten a couple-three inches at Steve's house over the last few days, and for us, that's a lot.

Come the rains we also get mushrooms, and there are four or five of them under the Oregon Grape next to the arbor vitae out front that have, well, mushroomed up in the last few days ...

Largest of these, (above) is as big as a pie-plate, nine-inches across. 

Cool, huh?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Old New Wave

Back in the sixties, there came a New Wave in the genre loosely-defined as Fantasy and Science Fiction. It started in the U.K. with writers who were relatively new to the field, Moorcock, Aldiss, Ballard, and spread, with writers like Ellison, Spinrad, Delany, Farmer, Sheckley, Dick, and it was there with the rise of the women, LeGuin, Russ, McIntyre, and others.

Look no farther than Dangerous Visions to see brilliant stories that would not have sold to any of the magazines.

The focus was less traditional and more experimental, both in what was being written about, and the manner in which it was offered. It wasn't all rockets and ray guns and white guys kicking alien ass, but broached such subjects usually left alone: Sex, politics, drugs; sociology as much as physics.

Science fiction, for all its futuristic setting, was not the most daring of literatures prior to this era.

What happened? It was the Sixties, and the writers were not unaffected by the times. 

Some of the old guard stepped up their games and joined in. Some wouldn't–or couldn't–and there was a schism. Not everybody slotted neatly into one pigeon hole or the other, but there were some obvious divisions, and the respect, or lack thereof, for one side by the other caused some rifts.

The Wave came ashore, and as such things do, ebbed, but altered the sandscape enough so it didn't go back to where it had been. The next round of newbies brought us cyberpunk: Jeter, Sterling, Gibson, et al, and assorted waves have been shifting the shoreline since, he says alliteratively. 

You can check out the wiki, here.  

This was before my time as a writer, I didn't start seriously trying to write and sell stuff until the late 1970's, but I was a reader and aware of it. 

Some of it was brilliant. Some of it was, well, not-so-brilliant. Sturgeon's Law and all. 

There was some ... enmity twixt the old guard and the new. Like the war in Vietnam, which divided writers the same way it did everybody else, the grand old men and the young turks were not always happy with each other. Some writers subsequently allowed as how this wasn't the case, that the fans wanted to see blood, and pumped up the differences to get it, but there were writers who you didn't invite to the same party if you wanted peace in the room. Hawks and doves, and the old and the new. 

Norman Spinrad, no slouch at the keyboard, dedicated his first collection of short stories, The Last Hurrah of the Golden Horde, to the "Grand old men of Science Fiction," and this dripped sarcasm and not admiration ...

(Contention amongst writers is nothing new, nor did it cease when the New Wave ended. Don't, for instance, ask Norman Spinrad and Scott Card to your cozy dinner.) 

An aside: I had my first Japanese food with a bunch of writers at a restaurant in Berkeley during a fantasy convention some years ago, and I sat across from Spinrad. What is this green stuff? I asked. Is this guacamole? Yes, he said, deadpan, it's guacamole. 

Well, no, it wasn't. It was wasabi, and I took a big bite and was not pleasantly-surprised. 

Ho, that's a good one on me ...) 

Um. So there you have it,  my brief historical essay on the literature Fantastique ...

Monday, September 23, 2013


Saturday morning, my wife and I went to the gym. It was early, only a couple of other folks in the weight room, hardcore guys who are always there. One of them will generally homestead on a station and do multiple sets, but one guy is easy to work around.

I had stretched, warmed up, and was woolgathering as I loaded plates onto the incline press. Woolgathering: this is a lovely term that essentially means doing something mindlessly, on auto-pilot. Goes back to the days when people plucked bits of wool from brambles and branches where the sheep hung out; apparently there was enough of the fur to justify collecting it. Not the most intellectually-challenging activity.

Normally, I am more focused when I do weights. I don't listen to music, I tend to do reps slowly and carefully, watch my posture and form, all the good stuff, but for some reason I wasn't paying attention, and thus managed to bang the rim of the 45 I was moving into the side of the bar upon which I was about to load it.

Which would have been no big deal, save that between the plate and the bar, was my left thumb. Whacked the middle joint a good one, Ow, crap–!

Didn't drop the weight, got it loaded, and after a moment to reflect upon my folly, went on to finish my work-out. I did pause to run cold water on it, then iced it when I got home and taped it. I don't think I broke it, and there will be a little bruise to go along with the soreness to remind me of my inattention.

The lesson for today, children,  is ... mindfulness. It is better to pay attention to what you are doing, especially when performing it incorrectly is apt to cause injury, pain, maybe death, all like that.

A word to the wise ...

Saturday, September 21, 2013

For the Science Geeks

This is way cool, totally nerdy, and, so, of course, I loved it ...

Friday, September 20, 2013

iOS7 - Really?

Apple's new OS for its peripherals is out. Been in beta for a long time, and apparently was a breeze to get if you told them you were a "developer," but the official release was day before yesterday.

So I downloaded it for my iPad.

And what do I think?

Meh. Shrug. Yawn.

Yeah, it has a few more bells and whistles, but most of what has changed I can tell?

Mostly, stuff that wasn't broke has been fixed. 

Used to swiping this way to delete your old emails? Well, now you have to swipe the other way. 

Want to do a search? Don't reach for the left side of the screen. And finding stuff on the net via Search? Apparently gone. 

The new icons, with their, flat, cartoony look? These are improvements? To me, they look, well, flat and cartoony ...

Some of the new controls and headers have gotten exceedingly fine-lined and harder to see.

Want to get rid of open apps running in the b.g.? Not hard, but good luck figuring that out on your own.

Want to go online? Safari has a new look, and all the pull-downs windows and controls have moved and been shrunk. Why is it better to have them on the right side instead of the left? Change for change's sake?

Apple maps are still Apple maps. Get the Google app and install it on your home screen.

So far, most of my apps seem to run with the new iOS, though my guitar magazine forgot that I'm a subscriber and wants to charge me for old issues I already bought. 

Over all, this big whoop doesn't seem like such a big whoop, and if you are a long-time user, you are going to have to re-learn a lot of functions that you used to know just fine.

Some of the recommendations online offer that there's no hurry to switch over, and maybe you should wait a couple months. Since you don't get to go back to 6 if you don't like 7, and all in all, you probably won't be blown away by the improvements, don't break anything hustling to upgrade. 

I agree. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Gear Head

Okay, I mentioned that I decided to amplify one of my ukes. It's done, and it came out fine.

For the gear heads among you, here's what's what: The uke is an all koa Woodley White tenor, tuned to Low G, below, thus:

The guitar tech is Ryan Lynn, who owns Eastside Guitar Repair. I had him install a K&K Twin Spot passive pick-up. What this means for those who don't know is, the pick-up is installed inside the guitar, under the front, and it doesn't require batteries to work.

As you can see above, the jack is installed at the bottom–this is where the 1/4" plug goes, and can also can serve as a strap button. Ryan's work was clean, reasonably-priced and there's not a new scratch on the uke. He's the go-to guy in Portland for fretted instrument repairs. If you go there, tell him I sent you.

I also bought a pre-amp, likewise a K&K, above, which goes between the guitar and the amp. With passive pick-ups, the signal isn't particularly strong, and this gives it a boost, as well as offering ways to tweak the sound.

The cable out of the uke goes into the pre-amp; a second cable from there goes to the amp, which is the itty-bitty Roland Micro, two watts of pure power, and able to operate either on wall current or AA batteries, of which it takes six rechargeables.

Voila! It sounds terrific, the basic Acoustic setting is clean and just makes the uke louder without distorting the sound.  Well, until you crank it up real high ...

Now, I'm ready to blow the strats off the stage ...

As soon as I can get it together, I'll do a sound sample vid and stick it up. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Joe Landsdale's Novel, The Thicket - Review

Okay, so it's Lonesome Dove meets A Game of Thrones ...

Well, no, not really, even though if you've read those, you'll understand why I said that. It's more like ... um, actually, it's not more like anything. Nobody writes quite like Joe Lansdale, and The Thicket isn't anything else, the similes and metaphors kinda don't apply.

Let me give you a quick hit as to the plot: After their parents die from smallpox, a teenaged brother and sister see their grandfather murdered, get caught in a tornado while crossing a river on a ferry, and the sister is kidnapped by bad fellows. Her brother goes after her, and along the way, picks up a crew that includes a black alcoholic gravedigger and bounty hunter; his best buddy, a well-read and off-handedly cruel dwarf, also a bounty hunter; a prostitute, a sheriff-cum-bounty hunter with his own storied history; a jail cleaner named "Spot," and a large, quick-tempered hog. Those are the good guys, and just barely so.

Ever read that one before? 

Me, neither.

Lansdale fans know what to expect when they pick up any of his work, and the ride is always worth the price of admission and then some. Nobody does this kind of thing like Lansdale does, and if they did? he'd still do it better.

Man can write circles around most of us, and that is a fact.

It's funny, but also brutal, populated by robbers, murders, and rapists, and all of that happens along the way in some gruesome detail. I'd rate it a fairly hard R, for language, violence, and sex. It is, in places ugly, not a book for anybody with a queasy stomach.

I have one niggle with Lansdale's writing, and that is, he is loath to reveal the specific historical time a story happens. He did it in The Edge of Dark Water and he does it again here.

A quick lesson from the how-to-write department as I learned it: The defaults when one picks up a novel are, that unless there is a big clue on the cover or blurb, showing a scene from some  historical past, a fantasy world, or rockets and ray guns, hinting that we are maybe skying off into the future, the time and setting of the book are now, and somewhere on Earth.

That's what readers will assume, that the tale is contemporaneous with the present. If it's different, you have to tell them. 

East Texas is on Earth, more or less, and the setting and characters pop right up, but the when of things arrives in small doses. People are riding horses, mostly, or in wagons behind mules, so you figure it is in the past, but that covers a lot of territory. 

It seems that making the reader figure out the era is part of Joe's intent. He gives clues, and if you are a history buff or close to Google, you can figure it out, if you can suss the fact from fiction and look up the pertinent information. 

I kinda like such exercises, but I'm not your usual reader. The simple solution is a tag under the opening chapter's number:

East Texas, 1913

Joe doesn't go there and I have to assume that's on purpose. I don't know why.

There's nothing a reader is apt to spot in the first 18 pp that tells you within  a hundred years when the story is taking place. 

19 pp in, a bad guy is observed carrying one of those newer automatic pistols, no brand mentioned, and that that back-ends the earliest possible time to the late 1890's, though it would have almost surely been later, since practical semi-auto pistols didn't show up in this country until after the turn of the century. There were Broomhandle Mausers, but the Colt 1911 wasn't adopted by the military until, well, 1911 ...

A character mentions a Nick Carter story, (p 70) and those ran from the mid-1860's to 1915, (then were restarted in the 1930's,) so that's not really much help.

There are some of them newfangled horseless carriages (p 74) and early oil wells. In Texas,  the earliest locally-owned automobile showed up in 1902. The first oil well gushed in 1901. (Autos stayed close to home until years later, because finding gasoline was not easy, even in Texas where the oil came from. Somebody had to make the stuff.)

There comes a reference to a vaudeville act, the Marx Brothers, and if that's who it ought to be, that narrows things: The speaker allows as how he had seen them a year back, and they were singers, the Marx Brothers, but not so good at it; however, they told some jokes that were passing funny. According to the history about this, the Marx Brothers didn't start doing comedy in their song-and-dance act until 1912, which puts the story a year later, minimum, as the new back end cut-off. So now, we are no earlier than 1913.

I didn't see any mention of WWI, which started in 1914 and into which the U.S. entered in 1917, and had the war begun, I would have assumed it to be a topic of conversation. If I had to nail it down, I'd guess the novel is set in 1913 or 1914, before the Great War began. The archduke wasn't assassinated until June 28th. 

Is it necessary to know this to enjoy the story? No. It's just that knowing the five-W's and the aitch–who, where, what, when, why, and how–make for a richer experience, so I took the trouble to figure it out ...

Friday, September 13, 2013

Major Uke Collection

A guy in Thailand who collects ukuleles. Whaddya think ... ?

New Mic

Got a new USB microphone. The old one, a Samson USB, was great when I got it, but it finally crapped out after what? seven or eight years?

The new one, a Blue Yeti, is way better and cheaper than the old one. It's a big, heavy sucker, got several bells and whistles, not the least of which is the ability to record in stereo. You can sit it on your desk or mount it on a stand or overhang, and the sound input quality is clean and full.  Check it out here.

In preparation for my upcoming career as a world famous 'ukulele recording artist ...

Bad Cat - Connections ....

So, my son sent me a link to an online piece about seriously-deadly old western gunfighters, most of whom weren't particularly well known outside historical buffs. 

One of these was the New Mexican lawman, Elfego Baca.

Man was a serious bad-ass: sheriff, marshal, lawyer, politician, and while he was a lawman, got so respected that, according to the legend, he would sometimes just send a letter to bad guys telling them to turn themselves in or he'd feel justified in shooting them. Apparently, more often than not, they did just give up ...

One of the legends I like was after he got to be a lawyer. He got a wire from a client: Just been charged with murder, I need you at once!

His reply: Leaving at once. Bringing three eyewitnesses ...

Um. Anyway, that sparked old memories and a couple of connections.

There was a short-run TV series done by Disney, back in the late 1950's, The Nine Lives of Elfego Baca and I remember it. It starred Robert Loggia, and in the show, he was called "El Gato," the cat. It being pre-non-violence TV, there where a lot of new residents of Boot Hill after every episode.

Fast forward to 1966, and another TV show, a TV noir series called T.H.E. Cat, about a reformed cat burglar and ex-circus performer turned vigilante, one Thomas Hewitt Edward Cat. This also starred Robert Loggia. Did he get the second role because of the first? 

Who knows? I found it interesting is all ... 

Monday, September 09, 2013


Just put the finishing touches on the draft of Cutter's Wars: The Dixie Conflict, and shipped copies to to my editor and agent.

Glory be! 

This was one of my slowest and most difficult novels. Not for the writing or the story itself, but for all the stuff surrounding the doing of it. The last few months, I have been living, as the Chinese curse goes, in interesting times, and getting the book written was very much hampered by the experience. 

But, turned in, along with, a couple days ago, the galley corrections for the second book, The Vastalimi Gambit.

In theory, Gambit hits the racks around Christmas Eve this year, and Dixie will see the light of day around January, 2015.

I have other work in the offing and I'll get to it, but I believe I might take the rest of the day off ...

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Upwellings from the Memory Pool ...

Recently, a woman writer I knew slightly passed away. I won't say who, nor will I confirm it if anybody posts here, that's not where I'm going with the story, but people in the biz who know me will likely know to whom I refer.

This is not to speak ill of the dead, but to examine my reaction to the death, and the personal history upon which I found myself looking back when I heard of her passing. 

I got into writing for the Star Wars™ universe eighteen or so years ago. My first novel for them was Shadows of the Empire; I subsequently wrote a five-issue miniseries for Dark Horse Comics, and eventually, collaborated on three more SW's novels, with Michael Reaves. 

Between the Dark Horse project and the MedStar and Death Star novels was a long gap, during which I didn't officially work for Lucasfilm/-arts. 

The gap wasn't my idea.

I would have done more. Intended to, having in mind another original comic book series and a couple of novels. But something happened and I–along with several of the other SW's writers of the time–suddenly seemed to find ourselves personae non gratae.

Several of us who had been writing for 'em, and quite successfully, were suddenly somehow longer able to do so. Was there a blacklist? Who can say? There were some hard feelings, and I heard them manifested. I also heard some reasons why I wasn't being considered, and proved to myself and others that those reasons were, um ... the word here is "bullshit ..." 

It is hard to prove anything at this far a remove, but at the time, it seemed easy enough to figure. You don't need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

What happened? 

The writing organization to which I belonged, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, aka SFWA, became unhappy with Lucasarts and the then-new publisher of their SW's novels. The house that won the bidding war had to pretty much give away the store to get the rights to the next round of books, and as a cost-cutting measure, was electing to cease offering royalty payments to writers, in lieu of a flat-fee.

A figurative drop-in-the-bucket, such royalties, but there you go.

Typically back then, the writers in shared-universes got a tiny piece of the pie, and if sales were very good, might actually earn back their advances, even with only 1% or 2% of the action.

I had such a deal with SOTE, and it paid off long-term. I'm still getting little checks eighteen years on, and given my druthers, I would prefer a tiny piece of the action over what became fairly handsome flat-fees. (As I recall, the deals were something on the order of $40K for a paperback original, and as much as $70K for a hard/soft deal. Much more than the advance I had gotten.) 

At at 1% royalty, you have to sell a bunch of books to earn that much, do the math: At, say, $8.00 for a paperback, the writer's cut is $0.08. Divide that into forty grand, any you earn out after half a million copies are sold. 

Back in the day, when I had a Top 5 New York Times Bestseller with SOTE, you could do that, though it would take a while. As the franchise expanded to more and more books, sales of any one title dropped, and that is much less likely to happen now. When I started, a SW's novel was an automatic bestseller.

Not anymore.

So, the book house announced its new policy, and SFWA came unhinged. There was some serious frothing as some of the officers and members climbed onto their steeds and rode off to do battle with Lucas and his minions. The intent was to slay the greedy dragon, or at least wound it enough so it would see the light. We the writers deserve a piece of the pie!

I was not among those heading into that war. Yes, I allowed when they asked, my druthers would be for royalty over flat-fee, but given the amounts of the latter, which was nothing to spit at, I wasn't going to aim my lance at Lucas and spur that horse. George been bery, bery, good to me, so just, you know, include me out, and thank you, kindly.

SFWA, mainly in the form of the writer who passed away, included me in anyhow, after I told them specifically not to do so.

I was a bit peeved. I sent a note to my editor and my contacts: Listen, I said, I didn't do this, I'm not part of it!

Yeah, right. That's not what that open letter said.

Fast forward a bit: Lucas, unsurprisingly, was not brought to his knees by SFWA, whose entire budget, if it fell out of his pocket, would not have been worth his time and energy to bend over and pick up. It wasn't knights against a dragon, it was mosquitoes against an Abrams tank.

Writers who were interested in getting well-paid for fun work lined up out the wazoo, and the SW's biz continued unabated, eventually netting George what? four billion and change? when Disney bought him out. 

Along the way, by the by, the publisher went back to offering small royalties, because given the decline in individual sales, it was cheaper.

But: While I could be wrong, it certainly seemed as if I and others had been tarred by that brush SFWA slung hither and yon. 

How do I know this? Attempts to contact my editors at Lucasfilm failed. Nobody would even talk to me, much less allow me to pitch anything. I thought we had this great relationship, only to see it vanish like smoke in a Class-5 hurricane.

Understand, that past Tim Zahn's first couple, my first SW's novel sold more than any, and everybody made money on it. I was one of the golden boys, Bantam sent me a leather-bound, gold-leaf impressed copy of the book in appreciation. But then nobody wanted to take my calls.

I had been a faithful, on-time worker, loyal, didn't reveal any secrets, ne'er talked out of turn, was a team player, but it was crickets and echoes. 

It wasn't just me, I spoke with others who had similar stories. A few more bits and pieces came my way to confirm it, I shan't bore you with the minutiae. We had, the thinking seemed to go, gotten too big for our britches, and AMF.

So, okay, I had other work, life goes on, and if you live long enough, wide ties will probably come back. Things change, worlds move. Eventually, there was more work to be had from the fine folks at Lucas. I got some, and much enjoyed doing it. Let bygones be bygones.

But: The woman who helped put me into bad professional graces died, and while I didn't bear her any ill will–she was, by accounts, a fine person–it did stir up all those old associations. It was a road not taken, and as it turned out, I have nothing to complain about, but at the time it happened, it was a disturbing experience, and memory forms as it does.

Interesting how that works.

New Uke Case

Red fiberglass. Used, but it looks new.

Rock on ...

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Surprise, Surprise!

Two different kinds of surprise to relate ...

My lovely spouse went to visit a friend recently, a woman who had several plum trees in her yard, and who wished to share the fruit.

Plum season is pretty much passed locally, so the friend had rendered the overripe plums and turned them into plum juice, which has some use. (Think: Prune juice ...)

Wife had a gallon or so of the stuff in a couple of containers inside a carrier in the back of her car. 

The lids to the containers were not affixed very well ...

You see where this is going, don't you? (And if you do, it is because I wrote it in such a way as to provide hints without saying it directly, which will speak to my second surprise in a few moments.)

Back to the car:

So I'm writing away and my wife arrives and allows, in a somewhat unhappy manner, as how the back of her car is the recipient of much plum juice.

Took almost three hours to blot and use the rug shampooer extension to get it all up. It soaked through the dog blanket and carpet, the carpeted top of the jack compartment, and seeped around edges into the carpet under the jack compartment. The sun was shining brightly, which was good and bad. Good, because once we were done, it dried things up nicely; bad, because we were mostly in the sun scrubbing away.

Note to self, and anybody who might find themselves in a potentially similar situation: When transporting sticky, sugary liquids, be certain that the container won't leak if it falls over whilst in transit inside your automobile ...

The other surprise is more pleasant: I am doing the rewrite on the first draft of the current WIP, the third and final Cutter's Wars novel. Should be done by maybe Monday. Late, but not fatally so, and happy I am to be nearly finished. (And the galleys for the previous novel, The Vastalimi Gambit, have just moments ago arrived in my in-box, and need be attended to, as well.)

As I go through the text, I am sometimes struck by the impulse to add a phrase, to clarify or clean up a line or graph. Part of rewriting is to do that. A quick example: The enemy troops, using the cover of hard rain and wind delivered by a hurricane, are trying to sneak a sapper team up the hill. Our Vastalimi fighter Kay, out to fix a sensor that has stopped working and thus missed the enemy, spots the sappers and after knocking off a couple, calls for assistance. Gunny arrives with grenadiers, and they give the sappers reason to rethink their plan.

Kay allows as how the sappers know they have been spotted and are probably retreating.

The line was: "You heard the fem. Eighty and walk 'em."

By which Gunny means that the grenadiers are to lay down a pattern of explosions eighty meters down the hill, which is, not coincidentally, where the sappers are.

So, reading that line, I thought it would be a tad better to add a word at the end, making the line, "You heard the fem. Eighty and walk 'em down." Since the sappers are probably leaving.

The grenade launchers go off, the bad weather makes the targeting less than optimum, they correct their aim, yadda, yadda, yadda.  

But then, four lines after my correction, a line ends thus: "the shooters corrected their aim and walked the pattern downward." 

Which they would know to do, right?

I had, in the draft, already spoken to that thing I wanted to clarify, i.e., the direction of the moving grenade impacts, and while there are times to repeat a thing for effect, mostly you don't want the same words popping up in close proximity too often, so you need to say it but once, and if it needs to be emphasized, recast the phrase slightly, for variety. 

My present editor forgets what my past editor did, and he adds or subtracts and finds momentarily that the past has anticipated the present. Because he is more or less the same and he tends to see the same things that need to be fixed. But forgets I already did it. 

You write something you think sharpens or make something a bit more clever, and then a few lines down, you realize you are fixing something that isn't broken. This usually makes me smile when I realize that the me from a few days or weeks ago is at least as smart as the me of today ...

Monday, September 02, 2013

Scary Website

Doing some quick research on tactical nukes for the third book in the military SF trilogy, The Dixie Conflict, I came across this. A site where you can  dial up a size and ground-zero a nuclear device onto a map of a city, then show how big the blast radius would be if it were to ignite.    

Take a look at man's ability to deal inhumanity to his fellow men.

Sobering to realize that even the smallest one would do terrible damage and kill a lot of people in an urban area. A Davy Crockett shell would take out a few blocks in New York City; The biggest Russian device tested, the Tsar, would obliterate Manhattan, and irradiate most of Long Island, a big chunk of New Jersey, as well as the southern parts of Pennsylvania and Connecticut. 

As somebody who grew up under the threat of mushroom clouds in the duck-and-cover days, and in a city that was on the Russian's Top Ten Hit list I used to have nightmares about nuclear Armageddon. Look at the map of Louisiana, and see what the biggest Russian nuke tested would have done had it been dropped on the oil refineries in Baton Rouge. Third-degree burns halfway to New Orleans, seventy miles away; up to Mississippi, almost to Opelousas and Lafayette. 

Einstein had it: 

"I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones ..."

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Gifts ...

Went to visit family this afternoon, got a couple of gifts. My son bought me a high-end wooden flashlight, above, and my daughter-in-law, who has gotten into crochet in a professional way, made me this, below ...