Millet Poetry

my photo. my fault.

my photo. my fault.

So I’m hoping to make millet bread sometime soon. The goal is a corn bread style thing. Ironically most dishes like this, even when they feature millet, have corn in them too.  This I find extremely baffling.  Suffice to say, mine won’t.  Stay tuned. Probably I will have time around the week after New Years. (EDIT: this was written a long time ago… this article is already published.)

I know I haven’t pubbed food in a while. I suppose that being busy writing is no excuse.:) Documenting cooking projects takes a remarkable amount of time because I’m the world’s slowest cook. There is no way I’d be able to compete in any contest. I can always come up with something tasty, but it takes me an extra hour to get anything done.

So I may as well leave you with a slow cooker recipe.😉

Millet Congee

Let’s be blunt.  Congee is an innocuous sounding Chinese word for gruel. Unless you have very strange (what are the odds?) or very young, or very sick children,  gruel isn’t going to appeal very much. The thing is, in case you didn’t notice the many articles here about gluten free breakfast cereal–four or five on GF oats alone– I’m kind of obsessed with warm, slurry like comfort food. Congee is just an excuse to have hot cereal for dinner. I’m fine with that.

There are days when I just want food, I want it hot, and I want it tasty, and I frankly don’t care if it looks appitizing or not. I have other days when I simply won’t eat unless the food is awesome, and that’s when I have to put on my apron and do something impressive. Is it any wonder why I now keep the camera near the kitchen?  Hrm. Maybe *that’s* why I haven’t been cooking lately.  :)

The benefits of gruel are as follows. As long as you can get the people to be okay with it, (what? I thought you said pizza!) you can feed a lot of people VERY cheaply on this. Millet is currently about $2.50/3.00 per pound, and you only need half a cup of the stuff, in four cups of water.  Use the classic recipe and you have spent less than three dollars for 8 servings of food– at least. It’s very filling.  Then you add… stuff. Pretty much whatever won’t get spoiled by cooking in a slow cooker for a short run.

Well, short for a slow cooker.  This means about two hours on high or four hours on low (I recommend the first hour on high then the last three on low) you get a rich creamy gruel that blows rice congee out of the water. Yes, rice gets thicker and smoother, but I like a bit of tooth (not TOO much). In my experience, and rice cooked out that much gets… epic bland.  Millet won’t be much excitement on it’s own, I grant, but it does have flavor. This is especially true if toasted. It smells…soooo yummy. 

Also, you can just put it in the cooker and forget about it until the timer goes off. Bonus for writers on a budget. It also works well for when you are sick, or if you have a sensitive day and you absolutely need to have something innocuous. Millet is considered one of the least allergenic foods on the planet. It’s good for people who are nauseous, or sick with a touchy stomach and can’t keep down most other food.

Heck, monks in the 12th Century raised it special for situations like that. In case you think they were backward, these monks also first diagnosed syliac disease.   It’s also good for fussy kids who demand bland food. With the sweet potato melted in the pot, it adds sweetness, color and *gasp* nutrients.  The slow cooker keeps them in, because the vapors are trapped.

The classical treatment from our friends from the East. This recipe comes from China. I have heard it’s a big hit in Taiwan, up to and including lunch trucks serving the stuff on street corners. There they use it toasted, with a handful of toasted chestnuts, thinly sliced sweet potato (about a cup–so one small one or half of a medium sized sweet potato sliced thin) and you can feed a brood for a day or yourself for several.  

Toss in a stick of cinnamon, a few pods of cardamom (spices in a bag! Eating cinnamon splinters is not fun!)  before cooking. When done, serve with a dash of salt,  honey, coconut sugar, or maple syrup, and a pat of butter or virgin coconut fat.  Trust me, the fat makes it.  In some moods just the coconut fat and a bit of salt is all you need.  The recipes I have read don’t call for salt.  

I always put a bit on top when I dig in. 

There are other variations too, that revolve around using broth instead of water, adding about a half to three quarters of a cup of meat (duck breast with beef broth in my case) I still add the nuts (walnuts) and some mushrooms. This variant I serve on top of finely shredded cabbage, green onion and a shot of coconut aminos.  Sriracha or other classical condiments are not amiss either.  I have also used beans of various types as a substrate, generally mixed with sauteed kale. This way, more nutrients and protein. Good for penitential or meatless days.

Other people can put cheese in it, too. Let it cool for a bit and it’s like Chinese grits.  Which is awesome.  Dayia also works in a pinch.

My next experiment is going to use my secret slow cooker weapon– smoked turkey tails. They are like ham hocks only even better.  They are cheaper, for one, and you can find them at the meat market/grocery in the frozen chitlins isle in big bags.

All you need is one– maybe two if you are feeling luxurious. It adds a stocky element in the form of a bit of fat and collagen from the connective tissue.  You also get the meaty smoky element because there’s lots of little morsels of meat which reminds me of pig leg from Pho– only it tastes like the platonic ideal of smoked turkey bacon. It’s glorious.

That’s what I do for slow cooked “baked” beans, too.  I have nothing against pork! In this case, I like the flavor for it’s own self, and the kindness to cholesterol is an added bonus.

 

Margot Reviews The Prisoner, Take 2: Why ruin a perfectly good Caviezel?

Margot Reviews “ThePrisoner”, ca. 2009

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So… This happened.

Really, it sounds perfect. Patrick McGoohan’s classic reformatted with Jim Caviezel in the original six episodes that Patrick really wanted? Looks so perfect and tailor made for the fans, doesn’t it?

It’s not.  Really, it’s not. In fact, I say to you that his current and soon to be over project, Person of Interest, is actually closer to what The [Original] Prisoner was about than this one.

Imagine M. Night Shyamalan trying to be David Lynch– and failing miserably. The directing was so horrible that you could come away with the idea that Caviezel can’t act.

I mean, it was nice to know that he has a vocal range past a whisper, but he still seemed stilted and generally lifeless.  Bad directors can do that to just about anybody. I even saw it happen to Vincent D’Onofrio, but that’s another show.

The music was produced by a tone deaf knock off of Aphex Twin. Or at least that’s what it sounded like.  I saw those episodes and realized… I just didn’t care about any of these people. The writers were too clever, and revealed so little of what was actually happening that you simply didn’t feel like investing in, or trusting the rest of it. I might have seen a few more episodes out of morbid curiosity (really, how do they end this mess?) but the natives (the people I was watching it with) were threatening to rebel.

Then I read the Wikipedia summary of the plot.

I’m glad they spared me. Seriously, these writers had NO CLUE what the original was about or what it was trying to say. I get the feeling they were trying to unmake the original from the inside– and it came off the same flaws as bad Shyamalan, a one trick pony that tries sooooo hard to EXPLAIN itself.  Ultimately, it has no sense of humor about itself or even what it’s trying to tear down. The driving principle was, “If you can’t blind them with your brilliance, baffle them with your BS.”

While I appreciated the side message about the best laid plans, the structure of the show did little to hold up to the original.  It comes across as more dated (at 2009 that ages fast!) and far less coherent than the original.  You knew exactly where things started with McGoohan’s opus, but even where the beginning was in the story turned out to be a moving target.

By the time that I could see what they were trying to do, they got families involved, further muddying everything up.

So…what was good about it? Anything?

Okay, it was very pretty to watch. Jim Caviesel is great eye candy. And the sets were visually interesting, too. I also liked the intro– It gave me a lot of hope. But it went downhill — and quickly– from there.

But I’d need a lot more drugs or something to keep me interested for the story itself. Especially since it was just another attempt at raping my college experience. I suppose I should be glad it wasn’t  my childhood… again.

Margot Reviews The A TEAM

The copyright belongs to @2010 Twentieth Century Fox.  FAIR USE claim. Please don't sue.  Not much blood in this stone.

The copyright belongs to @2010 Twentieth Century Fox. FAIR USE claim. Please don’t sue. Not much blood in this stone.

Margot Reviews The A TEAM

 

This is a movie I proudly avoided when it hit the theaters. I was convinced they’d find a way to ruin my deeply held guilty pleasure of my tweens and early teens. Okay, I never felt THAT guilty that I enjoyed this series, but when you are of a certain age, the fact that nobody ever runs out of ammo and the villains don’t hit anything while spraying firestorms of lead can get to you after a while.

I made a terrible mistake. I should have taken my fear out to the woodshed and left it a smear on the gravel. Because this movie was fracking awesome.

Imagine if the original series had a wild fling with The Unit, add a dash of Mission: Impossible, then add more explosions and update the action a tad, and holy pocky sticks you have a creation made of pure fun.

I seriously loved every minute of this movie. It was the best action film I’d seen in a very long while.  Okay, maybe it’s not Die Hard, but it was as close as an action film could get.

Yes there was fan service– in more subtler forms than I’m used to. Original actors (hint: the ones that could act, and were still alive) put in cameos in humorous places. There were jokes and even subplots that lovingly lamp-shaded the original series, but was a noogie not a slap to the face.  BA’s haircut and his weird experiment with peacenik in prison were done perfectly. And central casting was actually brilliant, though it took a while to adapt to Hannibal’s new jawline.

They get props for one of the most crazy helicopter dogfights in the history of film.  And proof positive that helio pilots are their own special brand of crazy.

So was it perfection? Did I see anything that I didn’t like?

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This image was found in the Press Packet. It still belongs to @2010 Twentieth Century Fox

Actually yes.  It also took me a while to get used to the short cropped, almost choppy scenes that went by so quick you weren’t always sure what happened. I appreciate that combat can be like that, but I missed having time to know how the good guys got away in the opening sequence.  I did manage to follow the helo dogfight,  but just barely. I’m glad they slowed that shit down for the resolution of the finale. That could be just me, I was able to follow the rest of the movie.

The shell game had a nice twist, with plenty of action and explosions worthy of a Michael Bay movie, but there was character development, hilarious rescue scenes, bow-tied up with the light hearted fun you remember from the show.

The fact that the villain identity twist was a a tired and reused trope to the point I won’t reveal it. You’ll figure it out. Its not the destination but the journey that makes this movie fun.

But they remembered to count bullets, and people actually got hurt. But, nobody got preachy about it. It’s hard to think enough high praise to fill into this movie. No, Virginia, the summer blockbuster is not dead.

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^^^The saddest thing about this film is that THIS IMAGE is as close as they get to an action still for the press packet.

 

In our next issue, we can discuss rumors about rebooting the TV series!

Margot is Back and Better than Ever!

Margot is Back and Better than Ever!

... More or less.

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Okay, ladies and gents, felines and germs, I suppose I owe you all an explanation. I stopped blogging around the time my husband became seriously ill with cancer.

Then he died.

Then I had to leave my house and retrieve all my stuff and take care of everything in less than a month after the funeral.  I pulled up stakes with the help of a friend (Truthfully? Friends did most of the work)  and am currently residing on the east Coast. I suppose it doesn’t narrow it down much to say that I’m safely ensconced in NYC with a good friend and his family.

If you’d told me a year ago that this was going to happen, I would have told you you were crazy. And even then I knew something was up with my husband, just not what, nor how lethal.  Where I’d wind up, or with whom would be counted as even more evidence of terminal insanity.  It’s still all very bewildering, and somewhat frustrating because of all the lose ends that come with your beloved, and primary breadwinner returning to dust.

It’s been a period of rude awakening.

But I’m back, and living in interesting times. I’m here to say it beats the alternative with a gore encrusted stick.

The Special Hell

special_hell-n

I found another category of “specially damned” individuals rampant in modern times. All those people who morph the faces of their friends or famous people (who can tell) on classic paintings. If that weren’t bad enough, they share them to the point it uselessly pollutes Google image search with the world’s most wretched and ugly Photoshop.

For goodness sake, what did Velasquez ever do to you?!  Just search for Velasquez if you really want your eyes to bleed.

OK, Fine. This is by far the best of the lot. It’s even funny.

So I guess sentence reduced to eating desert first and purgatorial probation.

diego-velasquez

Overheard this Sunday…

popesplaining

My commentary on this.

I really wish I understood more of the homily at the Spanish language mass I went to. Remember last Sunday’s set of readings? He equated the riches of this earth with lies… and the lies told about Pope Francis. He described the MSM as “having a perverted relationship with truth”. Even better in the original Spanish. He also quoted St Luke, and the Pope’s latest Encyclical. Almost shocking to hear a priest talk like that, outside the usual suspects. What a commentary of our age.

He stated at least three times, that the sacraments were the riches in heaven, giving us guideposts for living everyday life in the family. He then when into a discussion of the sacrament of confession and what that teaches us about dealing with problems in the family– and how that relates to truth as used in society. It was pretty strongly worded for someone used to English homilies.

Having heard lots of “liberation” theology, (and yes, in Spanish, too) I could tell that this was NOT it.

Based on this paltry sample of one, I wonder if this means that Pope Francis is having a positive effect on Spanish speaking parishes. It’s harder to hide from them what he’s really saying. For people repeatedly washed over with the LC crap, it’s easy to see where Francis really stands.

What does that have to do with his visit?

As the priest said, “in the light of Truth, lies will fall away like tattered last year’s high fashion.”

Earlier in the week, I overheard an executive from the music industry RAVE about Pope Francis. My only defense is, I couldn’t help overhear this conversation. He was practically shouting it from the rooftops.

It sounds worse than it is. He was actually persuaded by the guy, even though he knew he didn’t agree with him… and here’s the shocker. He didn’t believe the media lies either, and he’d be inclined to. Talk about immersed in the culture that revels in them!  He got the real message, and even developed a bit of respect for that, even if he was not Catholic,and in truth quite skeptical.

Hey. It’s a start.

It’s hell on the rest of us, but long term seeds haven’t started growing just yet.

IN short: there are all kinds of idiots who want to believe lies. All we can do is point to the truth. They will cheerfully ignore us, because lies are prettier to them than what is.  Thankfully, that will all fall away soon enough.  We are torn, because we want more time to convince the recalcitrant. Let me write a volume or two on what I know about recalcitrant. Oh…20 years worth, maybe?

Considering the great fanfare invested in my personal conversion, I hold on to hope that it’s not just me.  :)

One last thought.  I wonder if it was this bad when PJ II was Pope.
I just remember he was in the news an awful lot, and there was usually some softly worded scandal among those who flaunt the fact they do  not believe in scandals. Sadly, I was a kid at the time, so I don’t remember the details. By the time I got older, JP II was ill and the media backed off a little bit… until they stabbed him in the back for his illness.

Review: HONOR AT STAKE

 

The review you’ve all been waiting for…

Honor-at-Stake-n

The closest thing you could describe me as in high school was a Goth. I played Vampire the Masquerade, both tabletop and LARP, for 15 years. I read both Anne Rice and Barbara Hambly, and liked the latter better. Hell, I even watched My Best Friend is a Vampire, probably one of the most underrated teen films of all time. I even watched that brief flash of awfulness they called the Masquerade tv series. Hint: we called it “The World of Noon”. I watched Forever Knight, Buffy, and Dark Shadows. Hell, I was weaned on The Munsters. Morticia Addams hosted one of my favorite B movie horror shows back when I was watching a hick station from a 60’s Zenith that had technicolor and a fish eye lens. Fortunately, her show was done in black and white. Then again, it flickered back and fourth from color to black and white, so I’m not sure which it really was.

..But it was my best friend who was obsessed with vampires. Yeah, that’s what I kept telling myself.

By the time the books that True Blood was based on hit the shelves, I was a bit burned out. I read them, and enjoyed them. The TV show lost me when the actor with the best southern accent became the supervillain. Sure, I saw it coming, but it still galled me.

Oh, then there was Twilight. Sure, an enthused friend handed them to me. She did a fine job of convincing me they were awesome.

They weren’t.

I was pretty sure, by the time I put the first book down, scraping my gray matter with a paint scraper was too kind a way to get rid of that drek. I felt DIRTY because of that book, and no, not in a good way. I was pretty sure I was done with vampires. For good.

Then Declan Finn comes out with Honor at Stake. Dammit, I thought I was over this. I’m even hauling out my Rasputina and Black Tape for a Blue Girl thanks to this guy. He already knows he’s responsible for all the Cruxshadows appearing in my playlist. And, he’s not sorry at all.

That’s a good thing.

It will be all his fault if I start wearing black lipstick again, I swear.

Okay, I’m joking about that last part. No, seriously, this guy writes about… ahem, real vampires, not the sparkly fucked up Jar Jar Binks of the vampire world. They are deadly hunters, with vestiges of humanity that make them more frightening.

And yet, it is one of the most powerful love stories I’ve read in a long time. For a wonder, he’s not all angsty and whiny and whatnot. The Goth movement whine came later… thanks to Morresey and those Emo wannabes who can’t see out of their own pain. The whole point of Goth is to celebrate the darkness of life, because it is short. And, Declan gets it. He really gets pretty much everything we loved about vampires by displaying an impressive knowledge of the classic repertoire. Then he brings in his own contributions, turning it up to 11. He uses both Thomas Aquinas and advances in modern science to give a whole new dimension to the moral, ethical and medical possibilities behind the beloved predators of the horror world.

There is plenty of action and Things Going Boom, this being penned by the Mighty Finn. But this is more meditative, more emotional, and the raw feeling he wields like a master is something to exult in.

I’m sure you’ll fall in love with Amanda, and Marco is a fun character to follow. His life is a very real look into an outcast with a unique set of problems. He’s a PA. And he likes killing people.
In fact, that goes back quite a ways into his personal history.

He’s not a serial killer. Yet.

He’s a lethal weapon with a brain, and that makes him even odder than most nerds. Fortunately for him, patching people up is much harder than taking them down, so that scratches his itch for a challenge, and being up to his elbows in blood. Mostly.

Marco practices fencing, because he always needs a new challenge. That’s where he meets Amanda, who is just as good as he is. But there is something… off about her.

He knows killing people is wrong, and there are even people out there he likes, But… look out if he has to defend himself. Most of the traditional big city predators in his neighborhood have already found this out the hard way. He also has a secret that makes his problems a bit hard to deal with, or even talk about them.

Is there anyone out there who might understand?

Well, then he meets Amanda. Who has– shall we say– good reasons to understand.

They meet (not quite cute, but meet flirt?) at a late night college fencing class. The tension crackles, the steel flies, and soon they find themselves in a class of their own.

When they aren’t trying to lop each others’ heads off.

Though clearly wealthy, she has what seems to be more than a lifetime’s store of sadness in her past… and is so far passed jaded she is a smooth and graceful sculpture. Yet in battle is quick, clever, and vicious… So they get along excellently. The statue discovers she can be moved.

Why should such a splendid creature be alone? Seems to be the question each of them asks.

Until Marco finds himself bound and gagged on an unfamiliar Brooklyn roof…

And no, I’m not going to tell you how it ends.

Suffice to say, there is a lot of heat, a lot of fang and the action spirals ever upward to a innuendo/confrontation that has to be read to believed. Advisable to turn up the AC before proceeding.

Let’s just say, as excellent as they both are in the dojo– or in the street, a great deal of backup needs to be called before this train gallops toward a breathtaking finish. You will see vampire bars explode, gang on gang action, Vatican ninjas and some very heavy firepower.

Did I mention that the FBI gets involved? Merle Kraft isn’t exactly what you’d call a normal FBI agent, he specializes in the strange, and the exotic. He’s a short Asian cross between Penn Jillette and Fox Mulder, with piercing blue eyes. Like any magician, he brings a bit of baggage with him– which blends wonderfully into an already explosive mix.

He has questionable, nay diabolical relatives and a dubious past.

Can Amanda and Marco trust him?

And… even that is not enough. After all, something evil is not only creating murder and mayhem in NYC, but seems to be emanating from the UN building.

Trust me, it’s an enjoyable ride. Highly recommended.

 

Plus something fun I found on G+. Why is it here?   Um… no reason…😈

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Margot talks about God… again.

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So I was thinking the other day.  Dangerous I know.  But I wondered… what the heck does God want?!

You stare up at the Cross and understand that duty and and love being sacrifice is a Big Deal.  But there’s more to it than that.

Cristo_crucificado

Why did he feed us? Why did he heal us? If it’s all just one big slog, why did he spend two years hanging out with his disciples, reaching out to people, teaching them, listening to them, touching them, and telling stories to anyone who’d listen?

He believed that whomever heard the story and cherished it would just… understand what it meant. So what are critics supposed to do again?  Laugh, as I jest. You can still have commentary on the worlds of Jesus written today– and they still have insights to relate to the modern age.Yes, even ours.

After all, Jesus had an audience in mind, and a body of tradition, and we need to be reminded of that.  But what does that mean for Him? What does he really want?

Okay, okay, teach the nations how to follow God. But somehow, we lose something if that’s all we do. Reason can show us that the whole world lacks a certain something, like a beginning, unless God’s in the picture somewhere.

But… Where is the fire?

But like the proverbial guy who has everything… God is a bit of a murky topic when it comes to motive. Why… the Universe? Why this place? Why time? Why did he make a bunch of hyper intelligent naked monkeys with delusions of grandeur?

I know you saw love coming a mile a way, but this is still not quite an explanation. What does love really mean? Sacrifice? Tolerating hardship for a greater cause? Necessity? Sure.

But what is it that we crave when we WANT love?

Cherub_(PSF)

A soldier learns to love duty, or at least derive the satisfaction of being a necessary part of a larger whole, owed not only to abstract entities or places on a map, but to the faces of his comrades in arms. Those of us who didn’t serve don’t really understand that anymore, because we don’t teach it to anybody but soldiers or within military families.  This is a shame, because it is easy enough to lose the depth of this powerful impetus and think of it as slavish or guilt bound. It’s not. And it completes the lives of many men and women who otherwise would be shadows without souls.

But there’s still more.

Because… reading between the lines and recalling Genesis, God doesn’t want to be merely needed. That is why he holds off those who follow him for bread or promises of miracles and living water alone.

He wants to be wanted, not needed. He wants to be gratuitous, to be a source of joy and delight, to be a gift that turns the daily grind of grimdark planet earth into a transcendent mystery.  God wants to be the Anti-Murphy that makes all this shit worth while. That’s why even death had to fall before him, and the resurrection came as a huge surprise.  Even he he had been telling stories about it all along.

And I believe that it is this aspect of love that we idolize the wild affair, break our homes and our marriages, looking for the spark we left to die at home. We become accustomed to the necessity of our beloved, and not the precious gift that God meant him or her to be.  And because we think of all reality as a gift, we forget to cherish the gifts we truly value, and become vain accountants looking for an equality that cannot exist between two different people.

So this key to love is not just about God, but about us, and our relationships. It is true for friends, for family, for lovers and spouses. And in the name of delighting in every flower, we love the wide field and forget the fragile blooms entirely.

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Why The Puppies Did It

The Arts Mechanical

I’m not a professional writer. I haven’t pursued the muse in the makings of the craft.  I’m an engineer and designer.  Because most of my work has been in rather eclectic things, the average person will not encounter what I create, but their lives will be enriched from them through better manufacturing methods and being able to detect toxins in foods.  I’m not sure what experiments have been run on the Free Electron Laser, but I imagine that something significant was learned.

In any case I’ve been asking myself why I’ve been devoting so much time to the Hugo Awards, science fiction and the future of  science fiction and fandom.  Then I saw this.

http://www.tickld.com/x/sp/most-people-know-how-magical-harry-potter-is

I think that each and every one of the puppies is to some extent the kid under the stairs.  We are the odds that instead of looking inward at our rage, try to look forward for…

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Welcome to Ask A Geek Anything, Issue 16

It was me. Guilty. I made it happen. Sorta.

Otherwhere Gazette

Welcome to Ask A Geek Anything, Issue 16

This Sweet Sixteen episode is brought to you by a glitch in the Universal Prognosticator’s predictive formula. We were trying for the most entertaining possible combination of topics… and got this instead.  Fortunately, we will answer anything that won’t crush grain elevators in Gainesville.   There are clouds of confusion on smoking and its influence on SF and Fantasy, brought to you by Cirsova-  

Lately I’ve been collecting a lot of old sci-fi pulps and paperbacks, and have found a lot of great stuff crammed with shmancy cigarette ads (particularly Kent in MoF&SF and various Ace paperbacks); while I can chalk up spacemen smoking cigarettes to the fact that everyone smoked cigarettes back in 40s and 50s, I’ve begun to wonder how much influence tobacco had on the SF/F publishing industry; casual observation suggests they might have been bankrolling the industry at…

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