Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Trump wins me over

Last night Donald Trump spoke at a huge rally in my beloved Buffalo. I had some skepticism going in, but he won me over. Now some of these phrases he used are ‘dog whistles’, veiled comments directed at only some people in the audience. So let me clear them up for you. Here is what I heard –

- If Trump wins, my next novel is going to be a best seller. I’m going to have a best seller so big, I’ll be like Donald, please, I can’t even have a best seller selling this big.

- If Trump wins, my children will no longer be mouthy. They will say ‘yes, sir’ and ‘no, sir’ and ‘gosh, that was insightful’ as they finish their peas every night. If they don’t, they will be sent to work on the wall.

- If Trump wins, my hair will grow back. He has an inordinate amount of hair for his age and I can too, if I vote for turning back the clock, to a time when I had to have my bangs trimmed every Saturday morning I wouldn’t be able to see getting out of the pool.

America, this is going to be great. Again.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Book Review:

I picked up Hellmaw: Soul Larcenist because the author, Suzanne Church, is a riot to read. And I use that uncareful word carefully. Like an actual riot, Suzanne’s stories can be loud, fast, funny, full, purposeful and end with a lot of broken glass and blood. Her novel length work is no different. This book moves and moves and moves. I enjoyed the blending of genres and moods - gritty procedural, shadowy horror and a hint (only a hint, I actually wanted more) of rom-com just to throw you off. She is a skillful writer. You can sit back, read and relax, knowing that she will continuously entertain.

Friday, March 4, 2016

What to do when a comicbook villain attacks

You’d think after more than 75 years America would know how to handle a comicbook villain. Yet here we are, watching one take over the Republic party and we all seem helpless to stop him.

Don’t feel bad. When Lex Luthor became president in the DC Comics world (circa 2001), Superman and Batman were stymied. Of course, that Earth has a bunch of superheroes. All we’ve got is a sensible electorate?

Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap. Not even a freakin’ Hawkgirl? Seriously?

OK, it’s up to us. The people. What have we got? When you’re a comicbook writer, you constantly examine strengths and weaknesses. That’s how you make stories. In this case, we start with Trump. An excellent character name. In various card games, trump is the suit that beats all the others. Were I writing this story, I might find that a little too contrived – a power suit making a run at the presidency? – but I ain’t writing this plot line. No one is. Michael Bay would be doing a better job that this.

Trump’s powers are formidable. He’s more like the Parasite than Luthor. He sucks in all the energy that’s thrown at him, growing stronger from what should be devastating attacks. Racism, misogyny, or what I incorrectly announced would be the coup de grĂ¢ce of his campaign: Stating John McCain was no war hero. This should have pushed him to the sidelines with the gung-ho crowd. Everything he says should push him off somebody’s list. Yet he continues to gain and gain and gain.

Those of you familiar with the energy sucking creature trope know we’ve got two options. (1) We feed him more and more until he finally can’t contain himself and explodes. I’m not a fan of this as the US only has like 330 million people and I think the Donald can handle that much attention. (2) Total isolation. This is how Superman usually defeats the Parasite. If he can’t touch anything, if he is totally alienated, then he shrivels into irrelevance.

If the Republican Party is as ballsy as it always claims to be, this is the play. No more debates, no more discussions, no more mentions of the name. He gets the full Lord Voldemort treatment.

There is no other way.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

None of the below

There is a petition at Whitehouse.gov asking that “None of the Above” be added to ballots. As of this writing, its got close to 100,000 signatures. I’m guessing these people are fed up with the system and think the easiest possible solution – saying a two-letter, one-syllable word – might help.

Sorry. You’ve got to pick someone. You. If all you’ve got to choose from is tripe and cottage cheese, you can’t say “I’ll starve to death.”

The perception, this being a request to the White House and all, seems to be that the problem is at the top. It’s not. Our is a government by the people. Yes, money and special interests and shadowy organizations have lots of power and influence. But not all of it. Not any of it, in the end. If we all decided to vote for Kanye West he’d win. It would not matter how much money the Koch brothers have, if Wall Street approved or if it was a good idea. That’s the real power. And it’s at the bottom. Us.

Each of the current candidates, and most of those that have dropped out in the last few months (Carly Fiorina being the exception) have had plenty of support in order to make it to the national stage. Donald Trump has never been elected to office, but he’s sold millions of books and hosted a television show for years.

We, as a collective, have done this to ourselves. To complain when discomfort reaches the highest office in the land is to complain too late. To complain at all pales in comparison to voting. Our political process starts locally. That is where attention, outrage and activity needs to be applied.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Doppelganger

So I meet this guy about my age, with two young children, who has a career very, very similar to mine: Lots of writing and producing and strategizing for a big non-profit. We both try to find meaning and purpose pursuing art and integrity in a commercial world. We fight the uninterested, the unenthused and the unimaginative. I could tell by talking to him that we both struggle with our internal periscopes, poked up from the depths of practical compliance into creative air much easier to view than to breach. We live in the same environment, physically and metaphorically. I probably have more in common with this person than anyone I’ve ever met.

I couldn’t stand the guy. It is interesting to meet someone so like you and not like them. I didn’t hate him. There was no revulsion. But if I never see him again, that would be cool. He bugged me and I’m not entirely certain why.

He had more hair than me. That might be it.

Luckily, I know he won’t read this. He’s too self-involved. I know that because I can’t remember his name. Tim? Tom? Tucker?

Whatever.

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Wrong Channel. Second Edition

The new cover the The Wrong Channel, the second book of The Misspellers trilogy. It is another fantastic piece of art by Linda Shenk - Etsy shop here. I like that it is spooky without being too obvious about it.  Of course I would, right? It's something I try so hard to achieve in my everyday life.

Try and not quite succeed. On either front. I'm about as spooky as the My Little Pony Halloween Special and more obvious than Donald Trump.  I wonder if that's why I appreciate Linda's painting so much? Admiration for qualities I don't possess.  Like Harry Styles' hair.  Mmmm. . . .

Not Trump's.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Decoding The Rosetta Man

Claire McCague’s The Rosetta Man is so lovable I’m not sure I can give it a fair review. There are literary missteps I could mark off like potholes in the spring, but it would be more to show you I’m not a pushover, than to inform you about your chances of enjoying this ride. And your chances are good.

The central character, Estlin Hume, is a plausible, 21st century, and highly reluctant, Dr. Doolittle. The opening scene, with the squirrels, is enough to propel me into the novel. Hume becomes embroiled in a first-contact, political thriller – that never loses its sense of humor. It is one of the reasons the book is so fun to read.

Reasons 2: Aliens. Creatures from another planet that are really, truly alien. They don’t look like us, communicate like us, or think like us. They are so fascinating and imaginative, you can read the book for them alone.

But you wouldn’t. Clair’s fictionalized science is deep but approachable, spanning physics, biology and psychology. Her mechanisms for interstellar travel and seemingly telepathic communication are particularly delightful.

The book has perhaps too many characters, but that’s me wanting to spend all my time with Hume and the aliens. Which I hope to do in the next book, which I’m thinking reviews like this one will help move along.