Monday, June 26, 2017

A Musical Interlude: Bach's Little Fugue, BWV 573!

Hollywood is still working out the business of the Distant Cousin series--after all, if each book took a year to be written, how long will a TV series of five of the seven books take? So here's a slight change of pace, just for fun.

Earlier we mentioned the first book that Ana's editor published was a book of over 40 baroque duets, arranged from works of Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, and others. It was intended to address the sad lack of challenging, fun music for two players. If there are are musicians reading this, I hope they have experienced the delight of playing well with a duet buddy. The duets in this book are mostly advanced with a fair number of intermediate ones mixed in. There are many delights.

 My own duet buddy, back when I was lively enough to play them (and also, alas, before the ubiquity of cell phone videos and digital sound recording.), called the book "Killer Duets," because they usually left us puffing.

In another post we offered one of those duets in printable form for duet buddies to actually try out. Now it is our great pleasure to present two outstanding musicians playing this very duet: Drs. Scott Hagarty and Mary Thornton. They said they had fun making it. You may click on that link and follow the music with them!

NOTE: This "Little Fugue" is counterpoint; that is it has two melodies at the same time, back and forth all the way through. Listen for them!  Ana Darcy loves this. Many people do. WHY?

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Amazon's Package Deal!

May 9, 2017
Just in, a terrific deal from Amazon: the entire seven Distant Cousin volumes to date, in one neat, highly affordable set!

Only Amazon knows how long it will be offered, but for entertainment value as well as convenience, right now it's hard to beat this offer from Amazon. It's a summer reading bonanza!

(Yes, it could, in fact. Episodes have been scripted and seasons laid out. Watch this space for future developments!)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Once again, Distant Cousin scoops the news!

Once again, something in today's headlines was foreseen in the world of Ana Darcy's Distant Cousin chronicles. Ana admitted, in her 2005 debut in Distant Cousin Arrival, that she had had her genes slightly modified before she was born, and she went on to explain the main two differences that set her apart from most of her fellows. Today, in a story on NPR's Morning Edition (Swedish Scientist Seeks To Edit DNA Of Healthy Human Embryos) we learn that our own scientists, for better or worse (hopefully for better) are beginning to investigate that very possibility now. 

The Distant Cousin stories have anticipated developments in science and the news many times before--more than a dozen so far (examples). Readers disagree, however,  as to whether the stories are "science fiction" or not. There is no time travel, no hopping blithely from galaxy to galaxy, no worm holes to other dimensions, and the like.  Ana's world is our world, pretty much, our world today. 

But you shouldn't read the Distant Cousin stories merely to wonder about future advancements in science and technology. What you'll love is the  great characters, in colorful places and unexpected situations, situations that intrigue and stir your imagination. That is the reason Distant Cousin is being turned into a series. It may take years to appear, but you don't have to wait. The pleasure is available right now!

There are many excerpts in Ana's blog:

Before it's a TV series, it's a series!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Take a drive through Ana's pecan trees!

The extraterrestrial sweetheart, ranch wife, and star of the Distant Cousin stories, Ana Darcy, lives with her family near Mesilla, in southern New Mexico just south of Las Cruces (and about forty miles north of El Paso, Texas). A narrow width of highly productive farmland lies along the Rio Grande River, with harsh desert close on either side. The entire area can easily be seen from the air, in this post and below:

Several satellite photos of the same area may be seen here as well. The larger solid green areas, believe it or not, are vast orchards of pecan trees which yield over twenty-five million pounds of pecans a year.  

Of interest to readers, Ana's husband keeps his wife's space pod in a leased machinery building in the middle of one of these groves. They are fenced and patrolled and the family has never had a problem with intruders--not yet, anyway.

New Mexico Highway 28, the original paved road from Las Cruces to El Paso is seen in the photo above as a thin line running top to bottom. It is not the wider line, which is the bed of the river. 

A drive down Highway 28 can be beautifully hypnotic. Here is a small taste, made from a car traveling 55 mph. Try it! You will see a LOT of pecan trees!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Ana and son explain another cool math puzzle

Remember the card trick on YouTube, where the poster begged someone to explain how it worked? Ana and her son Julio figured it out and the explanation is here, in Ana's own handwriting.

Now they've done another one. She and her son loved a puzzle Will Shortz used on his regular feature on a recent Weekend Sunday, on NPR. It's simple (but not that easy). Here's the puzzle: 

Using only standard mathematical symbols (x, ., /, ÷,  etc.) make three nines (9, 9, and 9) equal 20. 

Ana was embarrassed that Julio figured it out before she did, but it might be because Julio grew up knowing Earth's standard mathematical notation system. Ana didn't. She came to it as an adult, when she arrived on the moon from Thomo. Thoman math uses different symbols. Our symbols are a second language to her, mathematically speaking. 

When you give up, you may find the answer, plus Julio's insightful understanding of this problem, here.

(The wildflowers--wine cups--are only a reminder of warmer weather.)

Other puzzles from our extraterrestrial Distant Cousin:

Friday, January 15, 2016

El Chapo or El Checo? Distant Cousin scoops the news again. Twice!

Fans of the Distant Cousin books already know the series has anticipated many recent and surprising events in the world today, in politics, medicine, athletics and more. (There are EIGHT examples here.) Now, in quick succession, there are two more.

In Distant Cousin: Santa Muerte, Earth's favorite extraterrestrial Ana Darcy Méndez and her daughter run into one El Checo, a notorious drug kingpin, in northern Mexico. Let's only say that their encounter turned out a little differently than the one that put the real El Chapo in the news five months after the book was published.

The second item is also from the news of the last few days: progress in the fight against river blindness, a nasty disease the World Health Organization calls a "neglected tropical disease." The lack of treatment was noted in Distant Cousin: Repatriation in 2006, chapter 32, in which Ana cannot understand why the people of Earth don't do more to fight it. Now, at last, they have. About time!

The Distant Cousin stories do NOT try to predict the future. Their genre has always been difficult to define. They take place on Earth in the present day with only humans (including Ana, the extraterrestrial), and the occasional cat or horse. They have been called character-driven western Chicano action/adventure romance sci-fi stories. Whatever they might be, they are also fun!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The problem with "real" books

The problem with "real" books is painfully obvious to any book lover:

E-books, as far as we know, weigh nothing and take up no space. Anyone who can make a case to the contrary is invited to comment.

Another huge advantage of e-books, at least in the case of the Distant Cousin stories, is that the price-to-entertainment ratio is super-attractive. Each one creates the type of mental movie that appeals to almost everyone. (Several could be double features.) Fast readers with time to spare could be lost for a week. Readers who are slower or have little spare time can look forward to weeks immersed in the unforgettable chronicles of Ana Darcy, the first alien to find her way back to Earth. 

The best thing is that all seven Kindle editions cost about what the first one costs in paperback, the approximate cost of one movie theater ticket, a drink, and popcorn.

As one person told us (with a smile), "You know I love to read escapist trash. Yours is as good as the best of it. It's better than most of it!"