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Darrell Bain's Newsletter

June 2007

  From the perennially cluttered three-sided desk of Darrell Bain

Note: Responses to subjects brought up by this newsletter are welcome. I can be contacted by e-mailing me from my website.

Contents or individual segments of this newsletter may be forwarded or copied so long as www.darrellbain.com source is noted and you mention that the material is copyrighted. I don't mind at all.

Household Hint, Free Books, Interview, Progress Report, Book Report, Periods of History, Old Folks and more.

Household Hint
Always looking for a tool for those little household jobs? I found an easy solution. I keep a few simple tools such as a small hammer, pliers, a small adjustable wrench, screwdrivers, etc. in a little basket with a handle. I keep it on one of my bookshelves and regardless of the tool I need, just grab the basket and carry it along. When I'm finished, the basket goes back on the shelf. No more looking in drawers, crannies, on shelves, etc. for the tools that even a mechanical idiot like me uses occasionally inside the house.

Free Books
This month's selection for the five copies of books I will give away free to readers is Alien Infection. To qualify, simply email me from my web site (or from your mailbox) with the subject line Alien Infection. The first five people to send it will receive a copy of Alien Infection free of charge, postage included. This is my second best selling book after The Sex Gates. It is the story of a laboratory technician becoming infected with a mysterious illness which immediately makes him a fugitive from federal authorities, to be shot on sight. It takes an odyssey across Texas and into Oklahoma and Arkansas and perhaps even off earth before discovering what kind of bug he and a woman he meets and infects are carrying, and why it's so dangerous to humans.

Dishpan Full of Pudding
Back when all of us kids were home, and even afterward when we managed a reunion, Mother always made banana pudding since it was a dessert that all of us liked. What with three young men and three women and our wives, husbands, and/or sweethearts, there was never enough to satisfy us. We always emptied the bowl and asked, "Is there any more?"

After years of this, Mother began threatening to make a "dishpan full of pudding" so there'd be enough for everyone for a change. Now this was back in the days before dishwashers in homes were as ubiquitous as they are now. Dishes were washed in a sink or sometimes in a big pan, naturally called a "dishpan." I don't even know if they make such things these days but back then you could find them in just about any home.

Sometime in the mid-sixties, I forget the exact year, all three of us brothers managed to get leave from the Army, Marines and Navy at the same time. It took a lot of finagling and that's a story all in itself, since on the way home, my youngest brother and I stopped in Dallas and convinced my sister, her husband and their two kids to come along to Shreveport, too. My other two sisters already lived there and my next youngest brother flew in. So anyway, there we all were, a huge family reunion, completely spontaneous. We descended on the folks like a swarm of locusts, as I'm sure it must have seemed to Mother and Jim. The first day after we were all there, Mother and the other women made a gigantic fried chicken dinner with all the trimmings. After we were finished and were wondering what Mother had made for dessert she disappeared for a few minutes then came back into the dining room carrying…drum roll…a dishpan full of banana pudding!

I can't remember now if we managed to finish it all in one sitting or not, but I sort of doubt it. That was a damn big dishpan. I do know that I don't remember a single one of us asking "Is that all?" And of course it became a family joke from then on. I haven't thought of it for years. The reason I did now is that I have a temporary bridge in my mouth and can only eat soft food, so Betty is making a great big bowl of banana pudding for me today.

For those who like to see how I respond to interview questions, go to http://jenndicamillo.wordpress.com/ to see my latest interview. Actually I like doing them and this one kept the questions short and sweet, allowing me to ramble a bit with a couple of the questions.

Progress Report
Two of my articles and one of my short stories have been included in two new anthologies:
The short story "Neanderthal Nemesis" appears in Twisted Tales II (Time On Our Hands, Vol I), available in print at http://www.lulu.com/content/853548 and e-book at Fictionwise.com and eReader.com

The articles appear in the non-fiction anthology From Hollywood Experts and Published Authors: Words of Wisdom for Starving Artists

They are:
Life of a Writer on a Christmas Tree Farm and
How To Become a World Famous Best Selling Author, Work Seven Days a Week And Still Earn Less Than a Migrant Day Laborer.

From Hollywood Experts and Published Authors is available in print at http://www.lulu.com/content/775602
It is available as an e-book at Fictionwise.com and eReader.com

I finally finished the novel of an odd little dachshund, the only creature on earth able to sniff out the alien invaders. Bark! is the title. It should be available now as an e-book at Fictionwise.com and eReader.com.

Book Report
I just finished Warp Speed by Travis S. Taylor. This is the first of his books I've had the opportunity to read. I've always thought David Weber was about the best in the business for edge-of-your-seat suspense, but I've just found his equal. A good portion of the book is so gripping that several times I had to set it aside in order to get my adrenaline level back down from the stratosphere before I could continue reading. He has a couple more single author books out and a couple of collaborations with John Ringo, another extremely good author. As soon as my finger nails grow back I'm going to order another of Taylor's books. Betty has gotten into David Weber with his Honor Harrington series and she's going to try Warp Speed now. I hope she cooks a couple of meals in advance before she starts it or I may have to go hungry.

For those of us who were adults during the "Cold War," it's hard to explain that era to one who wasn't. Basically, it was a clash of cultures between Democratic Nations and Communist Nations, with The United States and Russia as the two main antagonists, and each of them having millions of men and women under arms. Both of us used proxies to fight the cold war, supporting various regimes all over the world and using financial or military incentives to try bringing them over to one side or the other. The whole world lived in fear of an apocalyptic nuclear war between the two powers and probably a thousand or more novels were written of such a war or its aftermath. There were very few who wrote novels of a non-nuclear clash between the United States and Russia and their allies. The one I think is the most definitive for that scenario, describing a "what-if" of non-nuclear war between the two sides, is Tom Clancy's Red Storm rising. It's a wonderful book, his very best in my opinion. He attempted to take as many possibilities and ramifications of the warfare into consideration, along with creating very well defined characters and even a love story within the context. I recommend it highly, both to the older and newer generation.

Rarity Hollow by Robert Eggleton is a very unusual offering if you're looking for something different. Proceeds will go to Child Abuse Prevention.

Infectress by Tom Cool is a really great thriller of the near future. It was written about ten years ago but I can't find a thing wrong with reading it today. Tom Cool is a pretty good prognosticator of future technology and I can only describe the last part of the book as absolutely breathtaking. One passage in the book really caught my attention: "Once a government allows its police to kidnap, torture and murder, then it cannot defeat the enemy, because it has become the enemy." That sounds awfully close to the actions of our own government lately, doesn't it?

If you like lawyer/suspense books, J.F. Freedman is your man. Everything he writes is good. This month I read The Disappearance and Key Witness by him. Both are novels of a lawyer fighting seemingly hopeless murder cases for less than ideal defendants. Freedman is great with characterization. You practically live in the protagonist's mind and those of his supporting characters. He strings out suspense really well, too.

Everything Daniel Galoye wrote was good. I just re-read A Scourge of Screamers. There's a little cribbing here from one of Poul Anderson's early works but don't let that deter you. Most science fiction today draws on ideas first propounded by the old masters.

I read in the newspaper that Alex Haley's Roots is going to be re-issued in a 30th Anniversary edition and the television series, the most watched series in history, will be re-broadcast as well. The news inspired me to get out my old copy of Roots and read it again. It was just as absorbing as the other times I've read it.

Periods of History
History can be divided, to a certain extent, into periods of special events or social structure, either locally, nationally or multinational. A lot of the time, especially if you're young, you may not even realize you're living through one of those periods, but if you live long enough you can probably look back and recognize some of them that you experienced. I can think of three I've experienced personally and am still living in the third.

The first was my childhood in the old segregated south. That's an era fading into history for many of the younger generations but I lived it, from the time I was born until I was grown. It lasted up through the era when Lyndon Johnson was president, then most of those old laws and practices were outlawed by the supreme court (which didn't change anything overnight, by the way, and we still see remnants of that society flourishing today).

Second, and concurrent part of the time was the Cold War. That's a term that's not even recognized by many younger folks but it was on everyone's lips from the late forties up through the early nineties, when Communism and Democracy were facing each other eyeball to eyeball with nuclear holocaust a possible outcome. I was in the military from 1956 through 1969, a period when the two great powers fought a lot of proxy wars. Vietnam was one of them, in a sense, though not entirely. It had merits on its own (I believe) but was fouled up about as badly as the Iraq war is today. Vietnam has been analyzed to death and I don't want to go over old ground, so let's just say it was one of the Cold War's hot spots. I spent two years in Vietnam. It's hard to describe now how we felt when we had millions of men and women under arms and big bombers constantly in the air armed with nuclear weapons and rockets ready to be launched at a moment's notice. The propaganda was fierce, too, and often had unintended consequences, such as the Hungarian revolt when we stood helplessly by and our cowardly politicians wouldn't even attempt a little decent gun running to people who had revolted against an oppressive power based on our propaganda, espoused and broadcast on Radio Free Europe.

The third period, and one we're all living through now, is the rise of terrorism, fundamentalist religions (of several faiths) and the ramifications of both. I doubt that I'll see the end of this period like I did the other two. I believe a great paradigm shift in religion is taking place and driving terrorism to heights we never thought possible a few short years ago. Our reaction to terrorism may be helping to fuel more of it, but again I don't want to get into a discussion of it. I do wonder how it will come out, though. Hardly anyone predicted the collapse of the Russian empire, least of all our intelligence agencies, so I doubt what a lot of pundits are saying now about how this period of history will end.

My readers can probably identify other eras, possible some recent ones I didn't mention here. History is an interesting subject, and becomes more interesting the older you get.

Old Folks
There's lots of muses, rules, and complaints about old age on the Internet, so rather than reproducing something you may have already seen, I just made up a new one. If you're over 65, I'm sure you'll relate to it. If you're younger than that, just wait; your time will come sooner than you realize!


  1. You no longer need to feel embarrassed when complaining about aches, pains and illnesses. They are legitimate and senior citizens are expected to talk about them. In fact, that's about all they do talk about.

  2. When you go see your doctor, don't write a check. Tell them to charge it to the government.

  3. All work more strenuous than lifting a cup of coffee to your mouth should be relegated to younger members of the household. If there are no younger members, you are authorized to hire household help.

  4. If your wife or husband is not yet a senior citizen, he or she must give you a back rub morning and evening to get your day started and ended right.

  5. Horseback riding is now one of the forbidden activities. You may still look at a horse, though.

  6. Keep the number of a tow truck in your wallet at all times. You are no longer allowed to fix flats or try to repair cars or trucks.

  7. If you feel the need of some sort of physical activity to help pass the time, just ignore it and it will soon go away.

  8. You are authorized to spend money as fast as you possibly can in order to avoid the nursing homes getting their hands on any of it.

  9. If you're over 65 and have not already retired, do not go to work any more. If your former place of employment calls to see why you didn't show up, tell them where to send your last paycheck and order them not to bother you again.

  10. You are now a sage, wise and humorous old man or woman rather than being a cranky old sh*t. Take advantage of it.

  11. Remind youngsters constantly of how hard you had it in the olden days when you had to get up to change channels on the TV, computers took up whole rooms, phones were found only in homes and offices and you actually had to have things repaired instead of throwing them away and buying new ones.

  12. Get yourself a handicapped parking permit whether you need it or not.

  13. Dogs and cats may live in the house now that all the kids are gone. Goats must still be kept outside unless you live in West Virginia.

  14. You can be as rude as you want to whenever you want to. People will just think you have Alzheimer's.

  15. When you don't want to do something, just say you forgot. People will expect you to forget anyway, whether you do or not.

  16. You don't have to wear shoes any more. House slippers and sandals are fine, even on formal occasions.

  17. You no longer have to baby sit the grandkids or great grandkids unless you really feel like it.

  18. Ignore all that advice about eating and drinking healthy. You've probably already outlived several doctors.

  19. Start all conversations by telling people how bad the weather was last century.

  20. And finally, avoid funeral homes. They are bad places and you don't want to go there no matter how eager the kids are to inherit your money.

Computer Problem Monster
I got a piece of mail stuck in my outbox that I couldn't get rid of and it was preventing me from sending any more mail. If I had known what was gong to happen when I called tech support I might have just gone out and bought a new computer. The tech was a nice guy and before trying to fix the problem he said he was going to save all my mail in the sent, deleted, and inbox in some other folders so I wouldn't lose any of it. Sounded fine to me. He created some folders to move all the other mail into, removed the hung up mail, then attempted to move the other mail back into its proper place. I'm not sure what happened, but those folders he crated to save it in began proliferating like self-replicating nanobots gone wild, appearing right below the normal folders for inbox, sent mail, etc. and he couldn't get rid of them. Three hours later he gave up. Since I could hide them, and was tired of holding the phone, I quit the session. Then, every time I turned the computer on or off, more of those folders showed up. I could delete them but they kept coming right back, in ever greater numbers.

Finally I called tech support again. Two hours later, they were no closer to solving the problem than ever. I finally suggested that I move any mail I wanted to save into a folder in my documents, then have them uninstall and reinstall the complete e-mail system. Nope, they were determined to solve it their way, but by then they had all the night shift involved and working overtime into the day shift and all the day shift involved, as well as another tech center in Little Rock. Again, I was tired of holding the phone so since they wouldn't do it my way, I suggested they do some research and call me back. They were supposed to call at a certain time. Two hours past that, no one had called, so I called them. The tech guy immediately started doing the same thing all the others had done. By this time my poor arthritic shoulder was about paralyzed and I'm afraid I got a little sharp. At any rate I made a VERY strong suggestion that they do it my way. And guess what? It worked perfectly. I don't know what the moral of this story is, but I can say the tech support people got to try solving a brand new problem (proliferating folders in the e-mail section). At last report they still had no idea where they were coming from or how or why it was happening. I think I should get an award for patience and the tech people should get an award for persistence—or better, for stubbornness.

Belgium Waffles
This is a breakfast dish I was only introduced to a few years ago by Betty. It's not only delicious but can be addicting. The best way to prepare Belgium Waffles is to first get some ripe red strawberries, then slice them into small pieces and sugar them liberally about an hour before you're ready to eat so they'll juice up nicely. Stir them about every fifteen minutes to make them really juicy. Leave them at room temperature. Then make the waffle and just as it comes hot from the waffle iron, lather liberally with soft butter, allow it to melt on the waffle, then heap on the sliced and sugared strawberries and top with about half a carton of Extra Rich Cool Whip. Guaranteed to bust any diet in existence. This recipe isn't in it, but you'll find other diet breaking dessert recipes in my wife Betty's recently published book, Articles, Muses and Favorite Diet Breaking Dessert Recipes by Betty Bain. It's available at Fictionwise.com and eReader.com as an e-book and in print at http://www.lulu.com/content/790652

Newsletter Index
I didn't get the newsletter subject index finished in time for this newsletter. Hopefully, it'll be up next month.

CD Set of Alien Infection
For those of you who like to listen to books as you drive, the complete 5 CD set of Alien Infection is now available at http://www.lulu.com/content/153464. Alien Infection is my second best selling book and is on track to become my best selling one. It is available in print from Twilight Times Books and as an ebook.

There are a few professions where the supply greatly outstrips the demand. Entertainment (musicians, actors, etc.) and writing are two I can name right off hand. If you're thinking of trying to make a living in either of these, be prepared for a long hard road. There are only a few hundred novelists in the whole country who are able to make a living as novelists. I'm not one of them, by the way. I think I'm a fair story teller but there are many more writers out there better than me. Anyway, I wonder sometimes why there's such a great surplus in those professions. Sometimes it seems that every other person wants to be a writer. There's nothing wrong with that, of course. In fact, unlike some other professions where there's an oversupply, you can become published today, and I'm not speaking of vanity publishers where you pay to get your story in print. With the advent of Print On Demand publishing, there are places which will do it for free, no matter how inept you might be. I don't know if this is good or bad. Probably neither. It's just a reflection of advancing technology. I still would like to know what makes so many of us want to write or sing or act when there's so little demand in proportion to the number of supplicants. Is it something inherent in being a social animal which impels us to try to entertain our fellows? Maybe so. I don't think the prospect of making money at it is the prime mover. I know it's not for me. Sure, I'd love to make a million bucks off every book I write, but I don't, and doubt that I ever will. I'm not particularly in need of money now, either. Heck, I just like to write and have, ever since I was a pre-pubescent kid. I'd like to hear some opinions on the phenomena of supply vs demand in the arts. Anyone?

Final Notes
I think of a lot of little notes to wind up my newsletter each month but unless I write them down immediately, they escape me. The longer subjects are ones that usually come to mind while I'm writing fiction so they go into my newsletter notebook immediately. I guess I'm going to have to start carrying a pen and pad everywhere I go.

If you ever get tired of struggling with traditional harnesses for dogs, try the hug-a-harness. It's the easiest thing to put on and the most comfortable for doggies that I've ever seen. If you buy one from this link http://www.doxykeeper.net/hugadog.html, proceeds will go to rescue operations for homeless dogs. We got one for each of our dachsies and even poor little addled Tonto will wear this one, while he runs and hides when he sees the old type.

I've been encouraging the doggies to dig around the squash plants when Betty isn't looking. We're producing enough squash from five plants to feed half of Texas. Unfortunately, they'd rather dig potatoes. It's a good thing the new potatoes are about gone or Betty would be mad at me and the dogs both.

That about wraps it up for this month. Thanks for reading.

Darrell Bain
Shepherd, Texas
June 2007



Places to find my books

Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.


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