Friday, September 11, 2015

Repairmen Wanted

The repairman never came. My oven stopped working two weeks ago. I called the place where I bought it and they said the quickest they could send someone was two weeks. Fine. I always knew appliance repair people were in way more demand than writers, but I’m not about to switch careers now. First, I’d have to invent a talent machine to infuse me with mechanical acumen, and if I could do that, I wouldn’t be fixing ovens.

Jump ahead two weeks and I’m waiting around for this person. I get a phone call, and a pleasant young woman tells me he ain’t showing. It’s not worth it. The repairs on my oven are going to be so much that I’m not going to want to pay. He’s doing me a huge favor by not coming out and changing $125 for rolling into my driveway.

I tell the woman that this would have been a bigger favor the day before, or the week before, or maybe when I called, seeing has how they can diagnose over the phone and all.

“Does that mean you want me to send the man out, then?” she asks. “No,” I reply, because how could the answer be anything else? I didn’t ace my logic courses in college, but how could statement one lead to statement two?

In my head, I’m thinking, these people have my email address, phone numbers – plural – and it’s the 21st century. I’m not in the witness protection program. On the odd chance that Ridley Scott wants to turn one of my books into a movie, I want him to be able to contact me. As a result, everyone can get a hold of me any time.

Relieved my post on the repairman watch, I run up to the pharmacy. They had ordered something for me. “I’m wondering if my order is in,” I start.

The woman at the counter puts her hand up. “I’m sorry, the truck is not in yet. You’ll have to come back tonight.”

“But,” I say, “I haven’t told you my name or when I ordered this stuff, which was a week ago.” I give her my name and she leaves. I have hope that she’s looking for my order, though I can’t really be sure. I am, at this point, doubting my ability to communicate with young woman or older woman or anyone.

She returns with my stuff and I’m gone, back out into the world, into the Information Age. Information is not communication and I don’t think there’s any repairman that can fix that fact.

And if there was, I’m not sure he’d show up.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Learning from Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter faces terminal cancer with “faith, hope and acceptance” just like do with my writing career . . . which makes me a total schmuck.

I'm going to learn from this guy and change right now. Ebullient is the word I am now, officially, making my signature quality.

Friday, August 14, 2015

From Calgary

When Worlds Collide is a writer-reader festival that throws authors from different genres together. Which is kind of how we all are anyway. Thrown together. I don’t know anybody in the real world who just reads one kind of thing, so it’s nice to be here for this, um, collision.

The word ‘collision’ got tossed around quite a bit when I toured the Gates Vascular Institute last year. The place was designed to enhance interaction among the various disciplines involved. Doctors, physician assistants, nurse and techs interact with engineers, scientists, marketing professions and even – and can’t believe I’m saying this – writers. They all share ideas via informality. The goal is to save lives.

The device here is the same, though the goal is not so lofty. But, good literature does make life worth living. I’ll hang my new Calgary cowboy hat on that. I’ve got to. You don’t want me putting a valve in your heart.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Hobble Along

The United States of America has 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. Out of every 100,000 people, we keep 707 in jail. Russia’s at 470. China – 172. It is expensive. The average cost per prisoner in the US is $31, 286 (as of 2013) for a total outlay of $38 billion. Worse is the opportunity cost to the economy as a whole. Some inmates train guide dogs or make cabinets but most would be much more productive outside than in. To punish others in this country, we insist on punishing ourselves, but our redress does not have to be a two-way street.

We should hobble law-breakers.

Why build walls and hire guards to restrict movement when removing a foot from a leg costs next to nothing? In today’s information-based economy hands are important. You don’t need both feet to take orders at Zappos. You need them to run and climb fences, which might what got you thrown in jail in the first place. Hobbling offers an offender constant reminders of his or her errors, saves the country billions and maintains a usable workforce. It is quick, easy and I’m fairly certain presents a sound deterrent to future crimes.

With that, I announce that I am seeking the Republican nomination for President

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Reality 2016

There is a problem with the news and it needs to be fixed. I don’t want to avoid the press. I’m not some Unabomber ostrich. I keep my head up and out and want to know what’s going on. This presidential election – a year and a half from now - is making that much more difficult.

The candidates are not news. They are people talking. Were they next to you at a decent party, you would be doing your best to sidle away. They are not generally interesting or even truthful. They are, all of them, your friend’s friend who’s full of crap and yet there on the news, embodying a temporal barrier between you and something you might want to know. Or worse – they have replaced a genuine story.

It is true that we might be able to gain a sense of a candidate’s personality or temperament from the two-year telethon that is the presidential race. Those traits are important when comes time to fill in the dot. None of us need 18 months to decide if a person is reasonable or another caveman busting your wheel, saying, “Father drag, father’s father drag, you drag.”

I don’t care about the Real Housewives of anywhere. I care less
whether or not someone’s property gets flipped, yard crashed or a porcelain poodle is successfully pawned. If I do suddenly care, I can tune in. It should be the same for the presidential race.

The presidential race should get honest, admit it is a reality show and start scheduling like one. If you give a hoot, you can watch for a while. If you don’t, you don’t, leaving the news to the newsmakers. The sharks, the terrorists, people that love or hate flags and whoever licked that donut.

I promise to watch. When it gets interesting. Near the end.

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Interview

The writing process is actually more interesting than half the stuff I read. (I won't comment on half the stuff I write.)  So I was pretty happy when Sacha Black asked to interview me about the way I go about things. For the moment, it seems Kim Jong-un has not blocked this interview, but that may not last so enjoy it while you can.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Milkman - by way of Chris Hedges

In his latest book, “Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt,” Chris Hedges argues that the world is on the cusp of revolution. French style - with world churning upheaval.

Here's my favorite quote from an interview with Salon: "There are all sorts of neutral indicators that show that. Low voter turnout, the fact that Congress has an approval rating of 7 percent, that polls continually reflect a kind of pessimism about where we are going, that many of the major systems that have been set in place — especially in terms of internal security — have no popularity at all." Followed by: "This is symptomatic of a state that is ossified and can no longer respond rationally to what is happening to the citizenry, because it exclusively serves the interest of corporate power."

I like when other writers think governments have become little more than middlemen. Makes me feel less alone.