Friday, March 29, 2024

Clifford D. Simak and Grandpa Jones and Their Dogs

I wrote a few months ago about how much I like listening to Grandpa Jones sing about dogs, though I don't actually like dogs that much, or want a dog as a pet. I've been listening to Grandpa Jones fairly regularly for several months now, and thinking about why I like him so much, and I realized that one of the many reasons I love Grandpa Jones is that listening to him makes me think of one of my favorite science fiction writers, Clifford D. Simak.

The connection between Simak and Grandpa Jones? Well, several things -- a love of the land and nature, simple country characters, bucolic beauty, backwoods simplicity.

But mostly it's the dogs.

Dogs are one of Simak's characteristic story elements, along with aliens, which every SF writer of his generation wrote a lot about. And ghosts, which most SF writers of Simak's generation did not write about. But there are ghosts in a lot of Simak's stories. And robots. Lots of robots.

One of my first experiences reading Simak's work was more than 40 years ago, when he was still alive and writing. (He died in 1988, but published a novel that same year.) I checked out his then-current novel Special Deliverance from the Lilburn public library, along with Piers Anthony's then-most-recent book (Juxtaposition, I think, or else the book that came before it, Blue Adept) and I've been a fan ever since. (Special Deliverance is considered one of his minor novels, but I love it, probably because it was the first thing I read by him. It's got a great cover – there's a robot on it. However, the book doesn't have any dogs in it.)

I recently re-read one of Simak's most famous stories, the 1958 novella "The Big Front Yard," and in that story the main character, Hiram Taine, has a dog named Towser. There's a Grandpa Jones song called "Old Towzer." Sure, Grandpa Jones (or whoever actually wrote the song; I'm not sure if it was him or not) spells it differently – and Simak always spells it the same; lots of his stories have a character kind of like Hiram Taine, and they always have a much-loved dog, who is, it seems, always name Towser – but Grandpa Jones and Clifford D. Simak show a similar affection for their old dogs. Even those that aren't named Towser.

If only Grandpa Jones had some songs about robots!

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Depot District

This afternoon I stopped at Lawrenceville's Depot District and took some pictures:

The side of that thing in in the third picture above, that Little Library-looking thing, which is more like a soup kitchen, says Give What You Can, Take What You Need. It's a great idea, but I suspect that in that location it doesn't really reach the people who need it the most.

Friday, March 15, 2024

Elyse at the Sneaker Ball

Tonight, Elyse went to her school's "Sneaker Ball" (or as I call it, the shoe dance) at Archer High School, the high school she will be attending when she finishes up with middle school. Here's a picture Anna texted to me after she dropped her off:

Saturday, March 2, 2024

The Kids at Michaels

Today the kids and I went to lunch at Stevi B's, where Elyse met a friend of hers, and then we went next door to Michaels (a store whose name sounds possessive, but doesn't seem to have an apostrophe in it; in other news, yes, I know that nobody but me cares if I get these details right or not), where Gabriel took this picture:

After we left Michaels, we went to KPop Nation Duluth, where Elyse looked around for a while and bought some stuff: