Styxing it to ’em

Andréa writes:

For 60 years, I lived a few miles from CubLand, but I still don’t get this . . is he giving a raspberry? Does it have something to do with this . . .
. . . if so, the comic is 10 days early, as he was born on 25 July, NOT 15 July.

Here’s a bonus Steve Goodman track, another live performance, the ultimate country song:


  1. That’s not a raspberry: he’s whistling a carefree tune. The connection to the Cubs isn’t the Goodman song, it’s simply the well-known ability of any Cubs fan to remain cheerful in the face of unspeakable adversity. The comic doesn’t work quite as well now that the “streak” has been broken, but even despite their World Series win (in 2016), the old fan “traditions” still survive.

  2. Maybe, as Hubby suggested, he’s whistling Steve Goodman’s “Go, Cubs, Go’, written because the GM of the Cubs complained his previous song was too depressin’ . . .

  3. To tie this in to the previous comments on dreaming, this comic caused a novel of a dream [BEGIN TMI ALERT]:

    Once I went down the YT rabbit hole (isn’t that an fun metaphor?) of Steve Goodman, I watched interviews with John Prine (whom I saw up in Door County, before he was dx’d with cancer), Marty Stuart (is his hair NATURALLY that black??), Kris Kristofferson, Mrs. Goodman, et al . . . in which they mentioned Chicago’s Old Town and its two nightclubs, The Earl of Old Town and The Quiet Knight. Which then led me over to Aliotta, Hayes, Jeremiah’s tune, Lake Shore Drive.

    First Hubby (now deceased) and I would drive down from Kenosha, WI to Chicago via Sheridan Road (Highway 32), linking to LSD at Hollywood, then SWEEP into downtown . . . lovely drive (altho I believe the curve has been straightened out now?) . . . then spend the entire day at Marshall Field’s, complete with lunch in the Walnut Room, before heading to Old Town for the evening.

    This was during the rule of Mayor Richard J. Daley, of course, when the area was safer, altho we didn’t realize at what cost.

    So of course, I had a ‘visit’ from First Hubby, and my dream continued for what seemed to me the entire night. Funny how one little thing like a comic can set up an entire sequence of events, continuing even during sleep. {END TMI]

  4. I was sort of sad when the Cubs finally won, because a plot point in a John Scalzi novel revolves around someone claiming to be from Chicago, hundreds of years and thousands of light-years from here–and being caught out by not reacting when someone makes a crack about the Cubs never having won.

    I think Kilby’s explanation has it.

  5. I thought it was sad ’cause Steve Goodman had already passed away. Yes, I, too, agree with Kilby, but don’t tell Hubby I said so ‘-)

    What’s the name of the novel, please . . . ?

  6. Thanks – I sent the name of the series to Hubby, who likes to read ‘alternate history’, such as Turtledove, and sci-fi’s future history.

  7. It’s not alternative (not alternate!) history, it’s more high-end space opera. But one of my favorite series.

  8. No matter what they’re called – those are genres he likes to read; he’s read some of the Scalzi books, so he’s checking to see if our library has his others.

    BTW, for all readers who want to know every book from a particular author and/or, like me, have OCD about reading a series’ books in order, this site is invaluable:

  9. What do you think of “For All Mankind”, an alternate (alternative) history show currently on TV (I think from Apple TV)? It branches from pretty recent events, the 1960s “space race”, and posits that the USSR beat NASA to the first moon landing. They go from there to a single different timeline, with scientific and political differences from our actuality.

    Some real names of NASA astronauts and officials are used, and some politicians. I don’t read or watch much in this genre so I’m not sure what the ground rules and assumptions are, but it seems to me they are too readily rejecting “chaos butterfly” for “momentum of history”. Still it’s kind of interesting to speculate on how they gave Gary Hart a Presidential term. (I suppose if I really cared I could get answers from their accompanying podcast series. I’m not that much into it.) Also, using some parts of our real political/electoral history lets them use real video clips, e.g. Bill Clinton in a debate, addressing his opponent “Senator, if you…” — but now his opponent is Senator Ellen Wilson, a former astronaut.

  10. There is still a zigzag, but it’s no longer a pair of hard right angles taken at speed. Also, there has been an official name change, and the LSD is officially “Jean-Baptiste Pointe DuSable Lake Shore Drive”. Maps and signage do use some form that includes “DuSable” .

  11. So I normally would try not to negatively reply to a recommendation (chacun à son goût), but very specifically here in this discussion, Andréa’s recommendation of was so bad, that it was actually worse than just going to Amazon and figuring it out. I went to said site, typed “The Human Division” into the search box, and clicked on the resulting The Human Division link, which then gave me a series of 13 or so titles, none of them “The Human Division” — huh? So I had to click further in, and I get to Amazon, and eventually I figure out that these are podcast episodes to the audio version of the book, or something. I still have no idea what series the book is part of, nor where it falls in the order of reading, the one thing I wanted from that site! So I search on Amazon, and finally find out that The Human Division is the penultimate title in the six book Old Man’s War series — thanks for nothing! (Had I known to click on the “Old Man’s War” link, I would have gotten better information, but I didn’t know, that’s the whole point, isn’t it?)

    I still don’t know how crucial it is to read the series in order. I’ve had mixed results with Scalzi, I really wasn’t impressed with Red Shirts, it was very much a paint-by-numbers written book, yet it got so much praise; however, I was pleasantly surprised by the Interdependency series — I could see ties to the paint-by-numbers lazy writing of Red Shirts, but the meat of the story was much deeper, despite the light writing, so I was very much aware while I was reading the first book of the series of what a good job he was doing, because I came in with a negative mind set, and had it reenforced by the writing, and yet he was still able to overcome that and impress me deeply — so the book must have been really good? Or just good and because I covered so much ground in my assessment starting from negative territory I only thought it was very good? I liked the rest of series just fine, but I did read them in that binging way of when you really get into a series, so I’m not sure how good they really were. So I’m very curious to read the the book under discussion here, but I’m not sure if I want to invest in a whole series predating Red Shirts and the Interdependency — if he’s grown as a writer, then pre-Red Shirts will probably be even poorer, and I don’t want to invest that much time and effort; on the other hand, maybe Red Shirts was every inch the commercial sellout it seems to me to be, and he was always a better, deeper writer, and I’m depriving myself not reading his previous work…
    Oh well, guess I’ll start with *Old Man’s War” and see how it goes…

  12. The coverage, and from a couple quick checks, the accuracy of the data are quite impressive.

    But the surrounding material is less clear and helpful than I would like. Andrea is of course correct that the best way to the meaningful display of lists is by searching on the author’s name (and first name first). But I can’t agree that that should be obvious. Why wouldn’t you start as larK did, with a search on a known book title? It seems just as normal a procedure as starting from the author’s name. And the home page isn’t really helpful about this, although it does say there is a structure to the lists, with author being the top sorter and character or title being next. But that doesn’t quite say “start with author”.

    Part of larK’s disappointing experience must be written off as the fault of the author, or publisher, or Amazon (for calling those things audiobooks if actually podcast episodes). Their issue is just that the key book title HD comes up in a series with a different name (from a different book); and then the title is used for a series, which does not include the book in question.

    I was quite happy with the result for the Slough House spy series, by Mick Herron. (Though I had to use the author name to get to the correct place.) It happens that Slough House is also one of the books, but late in the series, and most people might be looking under the title of the first book, Slow Horses, which recently had a quite good tv adaptation. But that title does not work well, and I had to externally look up Mick Herron’s name (I thought it was Nick).

    Also to check that they were good outside the “special genre” world and handled so-called “literary fiction”, I checked A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell. The list, and the write-up, are fine! Like the work of Proust (of course not on this site, since not in English originally), the series of twelve novels has a title given by the author, asking us to consider it [also] as one work. That’s why “A Dance to the Music of Time” also occurs within the listing, and the list has 13 items. (There is no reason this site needs to get into finer points of the publication history — there were four volumes of three novels each, released at the end of each triplet. ) It’s a little confusing, but since the whole-thing-as-a-single-item can be purchased as such, it needs to be listed and given Amazon links.

    Oh oh oh! Let’s see about Gene Wolfe! Hmmm, pretty good. You can look for yourself,

  13. Just for giggles, let’s see if I can remember the progress after all these years, without looking at a map (this was in late 1960’s and early 1970’s):

    WI/IL state line; Winthrop Harbor; Zion; Waukegan (Ray BradburyLand, and where FH and I were married); North Chicago (Great Lakes Navy Base, whose PX & Commissary I used); Lake Forest (LF College); Highwood; Highland Park (lovely little downtown to shop in, which is now infamous & Fort Sheridan Army Base, whose PX & Commissary I also used ‘cause there were much nicer items available, and which exists no more); Winnetka; Kenilworth (supposedly the highest-income earners in IL, or US, I can’t remember which); Wilmette (home of Walker Bros. Pancake House, a real favorite & Plaza de Lago – is that still there, I wonder & the Baha’i Temple); Evanston (Northwestern University); Skokie (Old Orchard Mall, which opened in 1956; my parents and I went there often via I-94, as we’d immigrated to the US in 1954. Carson Pirie Scott is also there, but I never liked that store); then somehow (at Hollywood, I assume, as the song says) jumping on LSD and sweeping past the beaches on one side and the Gold Coast houses and buildings on the other. And on to either State Street or Boul Mich for the rest of the day and evening.

    Thanks for allowing me to reminisce; maybe if I get it all out in writing, I won’t get it in my dreams. But . . . those were the days, my friend; those were the days.

  14. When I want a series, I just google “x series by publication date” and almost always get a list, usually put up by the author

  15. If you REALLY want to get into an argument about books in order, try The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.

  16. For sf/f series stuff, I might first use the ISFDB:

    select “Fiction titles” in the dropdown menu at the left, and type in human division, getting

    only the top hit (the one coded “Novel” is really useful here); if you click on that you get

    which tells you that the series of which it is a part is Old Man’s War — click on that and you get

  17. The saddest part of this thread for me was discovering the street name “Lake Shore Drive”. Up until that point, the phrases “…linking to LSD at Hollywood…” and especially “…jumping on LSD and sweeping past the beaches…” had a completely different, surreal meaning, although strangely appropriate for a Nemo-esque dream sequence.

  18. Goodreads also does series lists. If you search for a book in a series the title will be followed by “#x in the yyy series” as a clickable link.

  19. Kilby, I don’t think there’s much doubt that they meant to create that ambiguity regarding “LSD”, in spite of protestations in interviews. The Beatles made similar statements about “Lucy in the Sky”.

  20. Also the “just a coincident” explanations after 2001 came out that villanous HAL was not meant to be a one-letter shift from IBM.

  21. Hey! I just started Old Man’s War, and I’m not even five chapters into it, and already I have the reference to the Cubs not winning the World Series — in the very first part of the very first book in the six book series, and not in the penultimate one like I’d been told! Could have saved a lot of angst… So does this mean he revisits this particular trope five book down the line?
    (I’m certainly going to finish Old Man’s War, but it’s far from certain I’ll continue with the rest of the series; there is already a certain unexplored mid-century, middle American bourgeois complacency in what to expect from the universe, and what is possible to expect from the universe, but it is from a mid-century, middle American bourgeoisie narrator view point, so maybe it does get explored…)

  22. larK, I’d forgotten the ref in OMW, but I’m quite sure it comes up again.
    I don’t disagree with your comment about the tone of the book, but I liked it. Not sure what that says about me (though I am 61, for whatever that’s worth, and grew up on Heinlein, Harrison, et al.).

  23. @Mitch: I am five episodes into For All Mankind, and I’m still not sure what they want to do with it, where they are going. Up to now it seems to have been following a very tight what-if scenario from the very interesting observation that Chappaquiddick happened right before the Apollo 11 moon landing, so I’m thinking it’s going to be at least as much about changing the political scene of the early 70s as it is about what if the Russians landed on the moon. Exposing von Braun is near to hand (the info about his SS membership and all didn’t surface until the 90s with a new, pretty devastating biography, but the info was always at hand: it was our government that broke all the rules allowing him citizenship and hiding the evidence!), but I don’t really agree with the idea that by getting rid of him, suddenly NASA is going to get all reckless and cowboy, and even the idea that this is necessary for accelerated advances. And sadly, the nonsense they spout about landing booster modules on the moon as if the only thing preventing that is Congressional will — there is a huge difference between using the spent booster in Earth orbit, and magically sending that booster to land on the moon! (That booster is there to be filled with fuel and all that fuel burned to just push the little command module and lunar lander into lunar orbit — if you want to also boost that booster (and then land it!), you’ll need another, even bigger booster to boost it!)
    But then, at the end of the last episode I saw (5th), they suddenly jump 2 years ahead, so it isn’t going to be a detailed exploration of moon landings (did Apollo 13 happen? Did Al Shepard tee off on the moon? Was Apollo 12 on the moon at the same time as the Russian woman mission?? Why haven’t the Americans utilized their superior telecommunications to explore and expose the possible Russian lunar crash?), and yet, it also seems to be downplaying or even ignoring the political situation (we’ve jumped to 1973 — did Ted Kennedy beat Nixon??).
    Based on what you said about following the inevitability of history, I fear that within an episode or two we’ll have Reaganomics with space shuttles flying to the moon (!) — I hope that’s not where it goes… But as of right now, I’m still intrigued and agitated about the show! Fingers crossed that they don’t jump the shark of plausibility too definitively…

  24. Spoilers for For All Mankind

    larK, I also don’t know what to make of their overall vision, or intent with regard to how close to stay to real history. But I’m now 3 or 4 episodes into the second season, and it is no longer tracking the tech developments of Apollo at all. In fact, by the point you have reached, I think they had permanent lunar stations from both superpowers. But my guess is that they would want to claim all of their timeline would have been possible, given a few changes; and that exploring this from an engineering point of view is maybe their first concern, with political reasoning a close second. Oh, I threatened spoilers — by the episodes I have reached, by 1994 there are three competing human-carrying vessels on the way to Mars.

    One implausible reach, it seems to me, is that the discovery of large supplies on the Moon of “Helium 3” would trigger the development of cheap fusion power, destroy the petroleum industry (with political-economic consequences), and solve the climate-change crisis. Can anyone here even work out how Helium 3 would help in building controlled fusion?

    From some developments in season 2 I wish I had paid more attention to a few details from earlier. From the personal stories, how did this kid Danny get to be so central, and why does Ed Baldwin (Joel Kinnaman) treat him so very paternally? By 1992 in this world did it not matter that a Presidential candidate was concealing a Lesbian past?

    In the broader global political sphere, why is there still a Soviet Union? I suppose their success in beating NASA to a Moon landing is supposed to have invigorated their whole society. but also I don’t remember what the story did with US Presidential politics, and I get the uneasy feeling that they’re crediting Reagan in our world with having swung the USSR into collapse, and if there was no Reagan presidency in this fictional world then the USSR persisted. But dang it, I didn’t listen that closely or make notes…

    BTW I really like some of the acting, particularly Joel Kinnaman. I first saw him as the assistant investigator in the American version of The Killing; but more recently in a variety of English and Swedish roles.

  25. Mitch4: I haven’t watched it but I think based on other knowledge (or belief in said knowledge):
    – Helium 3 will be easier to fizz than regular helium 2.
    – the continued existence of SovUnion is part of “It’s a complex system: poke it here, it bulges there”. IOW, it’s not unlikely that beating us to the moon might have changed SovUnion’s fate dramatically.
    – same with lesbian past for candidate.

    This is sort of the point, though they should at least give hints as to why these things happened–not that they’re always predictable. Similarly, I’ve read things suggesting that if Hitler had been killed before WWII, things might not be better overall: the war prompted rapid research in some areas; post-war rebuilding fostered international cooperation; etc. The folks suggesting this weren’t saying “Yay WWII!”, but rather expressing this same butterfly effect.

    Obviously, what we need is a good global war about now, so get us to solve all modern problems! /s

  26. re: For All Mankind [spoilers..!]
    One thing that bothers me is that the writers seem to be following a how-to book on emotional arc development within episodes, and that this seems to trump any technological or logical historical progression — what matters most is the emotional arc of the story. So when Apollo 11 seems to crash, you know that it will have a triumphant conclusion, this is basically Apollo 13 — we’re not going to have the triumph of the first moon landing, so skip right to act two, overcoming incredible adversity, and boom you have a US ready to engage in a space race (how convenient!) Who will win in the women’s training cohort? Obviously only named characters (except for the one fake named character, who only gets named as she get rejected) will make it through to the end, and one of them will have to tragically be sacrificed to make the whole thing “real”; it can’t be the main character under-qualified astronaut wife, it can’t be the Black woman, the other one hasn’t been revealed to be lesbian yet, so it could be her, or more likely, one of the two highly qualified Mercury 13ers (there are two of them…), and so, especially given that the other one turns out to be queer, in retrospect it is blazingly obvious who gets sacrificed to the gods of hubris.

  27. Phil Smith III sez “Helium 3 will be easier to fizz than regular helium 2”

    Let’s take it as read that you meant “regular Helium-4” .

  28. Danny Boy: Yes, let’s 🙂 I was thinking atomic number rather than atomic weight! College chem was a VERY long time ago…
    Thanks for keepin’ me honest.

  29. I once inadvertenty read Greg Bear’s The Serpent Mage and The Infinity Concerto in the wrong order. I have to say it made it a very different, and fascinating experience, as in TSM I kept encountering things that I just didn’t get, and so just went with the flow, and then in TIC repeated satisfactions of things falling into place. I can’t now undo it and try them the right way round to compare, but I genuinely wonder if I would have enjoyed it so much had I not reversed the order.

    And a few years ago there was a book published (name escapes me) which had two halves. One set in the present day, with someone having flashbacks to mediæval times and one set in mediæval times with a person having visions of the present day (and, for example, deciding we are all incredibly pious, as we carry icons everywhere, cup them in our hands and gaze at them, or hold them to our faces). Well, that’s as I recall the basic plot as described. The point is that half of the printed books had the stories in one order, and half in the other, so it was pot luck which one you read first.

  30. I think I just got it, although it seems to be six years too late.

    He’s been told “It will be a cold day in Hell when the Cubs win the World Series.” Then the Cubs won the World Series. So he’s happy because he knows it will be nice and cool.

  31. Mark in Boston: that adds more plausible detail!

    There’s a town in Michigan called Hell. Some local DJ used to call some old dude up there when it was abnormally hot here, to verify that it was, indeed, hotter than hell here. Dumb but the old dude was into it, it was funny. (Or maybe it was fake–still funny!)

  32. Re: For All Mankind [spoilers…?]

    If they find a source for easy fusion, then maybe Chernobyl doesn’t happen, and that’s why the Soviet Union is still a thing? The fashionable consensus nowadays, at least since the Chernobyl miniseries, is that it was the beginning of the end for the Soviet Union.
    (Just finished season 1, they haven’t found the Helium 3 yet… and NASA apparently only has about 8 astronauts; anyone else notice they adopted the new NASA worm logo, only it isn’t quite the worm? The “A”s have a bottom stroke — that difference is probably the root cause for a lot of the divergences…)

  33. More For All Mankind [spoilers]

    Speculating on Gary Hart, I was remembering there was a film starring Hugh Jackson recently, and was thinking maybe it, like Chernobyl, inspired the writers with some trivia that could have caused him to not go on the Monkey Business or something, but actually they have Hart winning in ’84, which is just trivial, actually, since Hart was a close second to Mondale’s nomination in ’84, so without Carter, no Mondale, leaving Gary Hart the clear Democratic leader in ’84, especially given his “Atari Democrat” tech economy credentials in this NASA tech heavy alternative reality… but yeah, inevitability of history.

    (PS: the NASA meatball logo is also subtly altered, so I guess they are trying to avoid trademark infringement or something…)

  34. So I finally finished Old Man’s War; I had set it aside because it just got too jingoistically depressingly nihilism-cum-wisdom — why is anyone writing Heinlein pastiches after Harry Harrison anyway?? (He claims his drill instructor isn’t going to be the cliched drill instructor, and then he is exactly that, in spades, and it’s silly to boot, you wouldn’t use that technique on 75-year-old people who all have life-time experiences, and it wouldn’t work, anyway. So what’s the point? There is no cleverness, there is no wisdom, it is just mindless cliche…)
    I did finally finish it, it got a little less nihilistic kill-kill-kill from where I had stopped, but I didn’t think I was going to read anymore from the series, thank-you-very-much, but I ran out of stuff to read, and there it was, right on the Library shelf, so on a recent long dark night of the soul I started The Ghost Brigade, and wow! What a difference! Suddenly he’s engaged and challenging the concepts he’s invented, and clever, and developing his characters beyond being self-satisfied white guys from Ohio. I just finished Jared Dirac’s introductory chapter, and at the end of it, I felt like applauding! I saw what he did there! Wow!
    So, I guess this author bears watching; this is the second time he’s pulled this feat in front of me, from me being ready to dismiss him as a mindless hack, to him really, really impressing me. (No doubt by the time I finish Ghost Brigade I’ll have 180ed again, but he’s earned my respect now.)
    (It’s almost like he’s writing the sequel especially to win me, peppering it with subtle Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy references, and I’m pretty sure Gabriel Brahe is a nod to Penny Arcade, so I feel clever for having gotten it…)

  35. And Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers. And even one of the Stainless Steel Rat books, lemme see here… The Stainless Steel Rat Wants You.

  36. And larK, how did you do with For All Mankind? I actually got caught up with their weekly release schedule and saw the last few episodes of the current season (I think Season 2, or maybe 3 — in any case, the Mars season) as a weekly broadcast ; just like in the old days, as it were. Unfortunately, it wasn’t really on an upward curve. But still fun.

  37. Sadly, it jumped the shark as I feared with space shuttles going to the moon…. Turns out it is a soap opera about 8 people, and it becomes ever more improbably as everything in the world has to happen to one of these 8 named characters, and no one else.
    (If NASA had had a budget, it would never have developed the compromise shuttle that we had — it would never have had solid rocket boosters; in fact, the Soviet Buran didn’t have solid rocket boosters, it used their advanced Engergia lifter — so none of that aspect in this alternate universe makes any sense whatsoever. And you can’t “fire missiles” at each other in orbit, it just doesn’t work that way, and all this time on the moon, they never bothered to launch lunar polar orbit communications satellites? They still have communications blackouts when they go behind the moon???)

  38. If I may interrupt the sci-fi convention for one more indirect reference to the comic… Even if the old Cubs streak has been broken, it is comforting to see that some baseball traditions never disappear forever:

    Washington: First in war, first in peace,
    and last in the American, no, National League.

    (Currently on pace to lose 109 games this year.)

  39. The St. Louis Browns saying was: First in shoes, first in booze and last in the American League.”

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