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Why So Angry, Buzzy-boy?


I’ve had people ask me why I get so angry over certain kinds of posts.

It’s because I’m not stupid, I know how to readI know my history.

You say: “Syrian”
I hear: “Italian”

You say: “Muslim”
I hear: “Catholic”

You say:
“We shouldn’t let those Middle Eastern Muslims into this country. Their cultural values are too different from ours, they’ll never assimilate. Anyway, they owe their allegiance to Islam, not America. They want to impose Islamic laws and religion on us. They’re nothing but a murderous bunch of gang-raping violent terrorist thugs; if they aren’t full fledged members of ISIS then they’re supporting them and they won’t tell the police about Al-Q’aeda activity. Their culture hates women and exploits children. What have they ever contributed to the world except crime and bloodshed? Send ‘em all back where they came from!”

I hear:
We shouldn’t let those Italian Catholics into this country. Their cultural values are too different from ours, they’ll never assimilate. Anyway, they owe their allegiance to the Catholic church, not America. They want to impose Catholic laws and religion on us. They’re nothing but a murderous bunch of gang-raping violent terrorist thugs; if they aren’t full fledged members of the Mafia they’re supporting them and they won’t tell the police about Mafia activity. Their culture hates women and exploits children. What have they ever contributed to the world except crime and bloodshed? Send ‘em all back where they came from!

Think I’m exaggerating?

anti Italian cartoon 3


anti Italian cartoon Ganges1876


anti Italian cartoon 1


anti Italian Demons+loose+in+New+Orleans


To this day prejudice exists against Italians, not necessarily the vile bigotry of the late 19th and early 20th century, but prejudice nonetheless

Who are the most famous Italians in America?

The Corleones and the Sopranos.

anti Italian Mr._Big_Render

When Americans think of Italians, they usually think of the mob, the Black Hand, “the La Cosa Nostra”*, not the scientists and the scholars and the explorers and the engineers and the artists and the composers and the musicians and the poets and the writers and the film makers.

“The mass media has consistently ignored five centuries of Italian American history, and has elevated what was never more than a minute subculture to the dominant Italian American culture.” — “Hollywood vs Italians”, The Italic Way, a publication of The Italic Institute of America, Vol XXVII, 1997

Wow! Does that sound familiar?!?!?

So, yeah, I get a little short tempered when I hear somebody ranting and raving against “them” because what I hear instead of “them” is “your mother” or “your grandchildren” or “your cousins” or “your wife”.

I can’t be around my family 24/7 to protect them. All I can do is be willing to stand up for others who are the targets of bigotry and defend them against hatred and ignorance when I see it. It would be great if those whom we defend would then in turn defend us and ours when we are threatened, but truth be told, we don’t really need that kind of quid pro quo.

It’s enough that some ignoramuses spreading the hate start to look over their shoulder, wondering if they’re going to get called out for posting unverified nonsense.

If all I can do is make those people have second thoughts before posting — at the very least making sure they have their facts straight before sharing a hate bomb — then I’ve helped turn back the dial on hatred and prejudice just a smidge.

If that’s all I can do,
that’s all I can do.

But I’ll do it.

I know who my friends are.

And I know who my enemies are.

anti Italian cartoon 6

* Literally “The The Our Thing” to use the terminology of ignorant anti-Italian-American bigots who heard criminals euphemistically refer to “this thing of ours” when discussing gang activities and assumed “cosa [thing] nostra [ours]” was a proper name.


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The Elephants’ Graveyard


save for 2016

I’m coming around to the thought that Donald Trump is an outlier so unexpected, so grandiose that he will — official party nominee or not — have the effect of a wrecking ball on the GOP’s national political brand.

They will not vanish immediately at the end of this election cycle — like the Dixiecrats they’ll probably hang on for another decade or so — but they have lost all external credibility and too much internal support.

Every political party, to enjoy long term success, needs several things:
Rank and file volunteers who ring the doorbells and hand out the flyers, donors up and down the economic spectrum, a leadership coterie that not only crafts long terms strategies and goals but can also step in and stop any brushfires before they engulf the party.

For a party to succeed, there must be some cohesive unity from the top down, the bottom up, and the middle out. When one set of outliers obtains dominance, it is not good for the party as a whole.

Hedrick Smith has done an excellent job tracking down the ever increasing influence of big business in this country, and their willingness to aid, abet, and encourage bigotry of all stripes so long as it meant more money for them. Check out his timeline on Who Stole The American Dream and see how the damage was done.

Where once political parties were supported by donations up and down the financial spectrum, now through conservative Supreme Court rulings by conservative Supreme Court justices appointed by conservative presidents, big money has pretty much taken over both parties.

The Democrats, for all their sins and shortcomings, are still able to say to their big donors, “Whoa, if you want that, you’ve got to do something for the common citizens.”

It may not be enough,
but at least it’s something.

The Republicans, however, have degenerated into nothing but a mouthpiece for the ultra-rich and multi-national corporations. The big donors funded the original “Tea Bag Party” (until Google embarrassingly showed them what “tea bagging” was all about, leading to their name change); any ground root organizations that sprang up at that time were quickly subsumed by the big donor led organizations.

And while the original tea bag partiers might have represented a variety of ethnic and religious groups, it very quickly became dominated by white Christians, and far too many of those were outright bigots.

The Southern strategy of Richard Milhous Nixon runs in a straight line from the anti-integration Dixiecrats of the late 1940s through him to Ronald Reagan and up to the post-Bush / anti-Obama opportunists we see today.

I know people who identified with the tea partiers nee tea baggers in early 2008 and they got upset when the tea party was identified as the party of white racists because, as they were quick to point out, they weren’t white and / or they weren’t racists.

And they weren’t…but they belonged to a group that had no qualms about accepting large numbers of white bigots into its ranks and supporting candidates who espoused white racist talking points.

Lie down with pigs,
get up smelling
like pig shit.

Most of those people, while still holding to conservative positions, now no longer identify with the tea partiers.

That should be held to their credit.

The problem is, that by enabling big money donors easy access, the GOP leadership not only turned a blind eye to the racist dog whistles the tea partiers sent out but on many occasions puckered up and blew along with them.

As long as their corporate donors were happy, the GOP was happy. And as long as the big money donors got to keep more money and pay less in wages and taxes, they were happy. As long as the rank and file had commie symp pinko rainbow feminazi social justice warrior liberals to hate, they were happy.

Funny thing:
The rank and file slowly began awakening to the fact that they were rapidly losing ground in modern America. Their wages and salaries stagnated, their pensions were looted, their homes were devalued in real estate bubbles.

The persons responsible are easy to locate, but neither party is eager to pursue them in the name of justice because, hey, donations…

But the divide springing up in the country was growing just as fast within the GOP itself.

And when Donald Trump, outlier extraordinaire, showed up and told the rank and file GOP the most fantastical lies that he was absolutely incapable of delivering on, well, what did they have to lose?

And the party splintered.

Right now the GOP is divided into two groups:
Those who are leaving and those riding the jettisoned anchor all the way to the bottom.

Those who are leaving cover a spectrum of people from those conservatives with personal integrity to career opportunists who have enough sense not to kill the goose laying the golden eggs.

Those staying are, to be perfectly frank, quite often bigots or else are willing to carry the water of bigots to advance their personal fortunes.

There is probably no walking the party back from this precipice. Those of foresight and integrity are no longer welcomed by the rank and file. The big donors now realize there is no upside to supporting the current GOP and are withholding their contributions.

The party has fractured:
Angry, mostly old white people; rational moderates and center-leaning-right professionals; big money donors unwilling to throw away money on a suicide mission.

It does not promise to be a happy election cycle for the GOP, and unless Trump implodes in a manner so spectacular and so shameful that even his most ardent supporters realize they were foolish to have ever believed anything he ever said, there appears to be no place for the GOP to go except down and out.

That is not the same thing as saying conservatism is over and done with as a political philosophy in this country.

Quite the contrary, there’s a rich opportunity opening up for moderate and leaning-slightly-right ex-Republicans to link up with dissatisfied conservatives and moderate-leaning-left-of-center Democrats to form a new party, hopefully one where they’ve learned the lessons of the Nixon-Reagan errors eras and offer platforms and candidates more representative of the nation as a whole than merely the 1%.

What will happen over the next decade? Well, with the standard caveat of “nobody knows for sure”, here is a scenario that I think is at least plausible:

  1. Trump destroys the GOP as a national party in 2016. The party becomes permanently tainted in the eyes of minority and independent voters. Trump blames his loss, at least in part, on lack of support by party establishment and big donors, thus further cementing the divide between rank and file and GOP leadership.
  2. The Libertarians benefit in the short run, having their best national showing ever though coming nowhere near close to winning the White House. All the GOP protest votes will go to the Libertarians, all the Democratic protest votes will go to the Green Party. Neither Libertarians nor Green Party are in a good field position to capitalize on that; they are perceived as too tightly focused for local races. If the Libertarians can figure out how to compromise without appearing to sell out, they might be able to start winning more local races and thus move into legitimate national party status. Ideological purity comes at a terrible cost (just ask the GOP).
  3. Rational Republicans, driven from their party, reach out to moderate Democrats and form a new party. Assuming they can flip non-tea party GOP officials in state and congressional posts, they can start with a power base already in place and not have to build one from scratch. The big money gravitates in this direction, especially as this new party aggressively woos moderate minority and millennial voters with a more inclusive pitch.
  4. The Democrats dominate politics for the next couple of decades much the same way conservative Republicans dominated politics from 1968 to 2008. By the time they wear out their welcome and have their turn being on the political outs, most of the policies established in the Reagan era will have been rescinded and reversed. The new moderate-leaning-conservative party will gain traction through fiscal responsibility, not ideological purity.
  5. What is left of the GOP staggers on for a few years, perhaps a decade or so, much like the Dixiecrats of old (and, truth be told, that’s who a vast number of the Trump supporters really are: Rebranded Dixiecrats). 2016 marks the official end of their viability as a national party (though historians may cite 2008 as the actual end); if they continue to exist and wield power it is on a state-by-state basis, not as a cohesive / coherent national party. More likely by 2028 they are reduced to a post office box number relying on octogenarians and older voters to donate whatever they can off of their meager Social Security, and by 2040 death, dementia, destitution, and decrepitude have claimed all of their base.


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Compare And Contrast: New VOLTRON vs RWBY


This is gonna be a short one because despite many people lauding the new Voltron series on Netflix, I just couldn’t get into it.

Five minutes in and my interest failed to engage. Technically proficient, good character and mecha design, but man, the dialog and plotting were just gears slipping. Not a fresh idea in the bunch and all hammered home with sledgehammer intensity.

CnC VvR voltron3

I watched the first two scenes, skipped ahead about 20 minutes, watched some more, tried the opening of the next episode, said fuggedaboutit.

Not saying it’s bad, not saying you can’t enjoy it.
Just saying for me it failed to grab my attention.

Conversely, RWBY sparked my interest immediately despite a lengthy deadly dull narrated opening and clearly derivative anime tropes.

Perhaps that’s why it attracted my attention:
When you start a faux-anime story with rip-offs homages of Alex and his droogs raiding what looks like a candy or bubble bath shop, well, you’ve got my attention enough to want to see what happens next.

And when one of the pseudo-droogs points his sword a young female customer in a red riding hood and she looks at him innocently and asks, “Are you threatening me?” we all know what’s going to happen next, the question is how well and with how much panache?

And sunnuvagun, they pull it off. Frankly the video-game quality animation is far from perfect, but the character designs are fun and the character interactions and dialog keep the more familiar parts of the show from working against it.


RWBY is available online but Netflix has edited all of the first season into a single feature length story. It’s episodic but fast moving.

Comparing the two shows — even as briefly as I did with Voltron — sparked some critical thinking regarding media for kids then and now, and what quality of writing is to be found among them.

And to do that I’m going to need to invoke Buster Keaton, Laurel & Hardy, and John Wayne…but that will require another post.

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You Cannot Serve God And Mammon


The original title of this post was going to be A Parliament Of Whores but that would have been an insult to the sex workers of the world, most of whom have demonstrated consistently higher moral and ethical standards than the presumptive GOP nominee and his sycophants.

The good news is this: 
Not all of those attending the mass meeting with Trump fell for his finely honed line of bullshit.  While it’s safe to say there are no Clinton fans in that crowd, it would be unfair to say they are all falling in lockstep with Trump.

The bad news is this: 
There are enough rubes among the mass attendees who are buying into Trump’s finely honed bullshit to explain the rapid collapse of Christianity in this country.  As South Park’s Eric Cartman so eloquently explained it:

TrumpEvan Cartman quote

American Christianity, in particular white conservative Protestant evangelical Christianity, is infested with a virulent strain of power-hungry Mammon-worshipers who would sell their own mothers to a donkey show in order to further their own ambitions.

While 960 evangelicals cooled their heels awaiting Trump’s presence, he held a private meeting with 40 movers & shakers in the evangelical movement.

These instruments of Satan — ‘scuse me, Mammon; to paraphrase The Big Leibowski, say what you will about Satan, he at least has an ethos — are eager to push Trump onto the rest of the world.

Some of these turds are fueled by racial hatred, others merely by the reward of catering to bigots and white supremacists.  Others still are misogynists, more than a few are child rapists who abuse their pastoral authority to cover their crimes.  There are LGBT-haters so closeted they might as well be Ikea shelving units.  Prosperity gospel preachers who tell the most desperate members of their flock that God won’t love them until they give everything they have to their pastor.

And they all taint the teachings of Christ by perverting it into the most vile, hate-them / fill-my-pockets evil imaginable.

And we, the body of Christ on this
earth, have allowed it to happen.

Here’s how: 
When I was growing up in the South back during the cusp of the civil rights era, the thing that held African-Americans back was not the most evil, most violent, most racist members of white society but the vast majority who recognized African-Americans were being sadly short changed on the scales of justice, yet were unwilling to speak out against it because it would mean being critical of friends and neighbors and family members who were racist anusoids of the lowest order.

Rather that offend that minority of gibbering hate filled baboons, the majority of Southern whites kept their mouths shut and averted their eyes at African-American suffering.

…until the day came when their TV sets just wouldn’t let them look away anymore, and they saw what it cost to maintain a segregated society, and they finally — finally! – said, “Hold!  Enough!  If this is the cost of segregation then we are unwilling to pay it.”

Christian America has not yet had their moment when they have said, “Hold!  Enough!” to the thieves and liars and cutthroats who denigrate the faith, who demean being a follower of Christ for their own power and profit and glory, who wipe their asses with the Bible.

And every day — every minute! – that we remain silent, more and more people look at the Christian faith and echo Eric Cartman.





We have failed them by not purging our ranks of the most egregious charlatans, profiteers, hate-mongers, and know-nothings.

We have failed them by not freezing these bozologists out, by not roundly condemning them for their visibly harmful actions, by not exposing again and again and again how everything they preach is in direct contradiction to the words of love and mercy and compassion and justice from our Lord and savior.

“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

The world at large looks at these shitheels in their thousand dollar suits and says, “If they are the representatives of Christ in this world, then I want no part of him.”

Now, some reading this are going to say, “Aren’t you being harsh and vindictive?  Are you indulging in the exact same sin you accuse them of?  Shouldn’t this be better handled quietly, among the Church itself, without going public?”

To which I say: 
Screw that noise.

The time for private, quiet counseling is long gone; the snakes have taken over the garden of Eden and are re-writing the gospels to satisfy their self-centered needs.  The Christian faith is imploding in America, and it is imploding because for the first time people can compare notes outside their immediate congregation and they can see others calling the same shenanigans they see and for the first time they know they are not alone much less wrong in turning their back on what passes for organized Christianity in this country.





You are a damn fool idiot to disregard the evidence of your own senses and follow self-serving greedy bastards as they lick the ass shoes of an even bigger damn fool idiot who knows nothing except how to lie cleverly enough to con people out of their money.

I grasp not liking Hillary Clinton or the Democratic Party or progressive ideas, and to those who say they would feel a bit more comfortable with the evangelicals issuing a statement along the lines of “considering our options, we think this is the lesser of two evils”, I understand.

I don’t agree, because based on his lifetime behavior there is more than ample evidence Trump is lying to you and doesn’t give a flying fuck at a donut hole what you think or want, but I understand.

And to those who opt to vote Libertarian or Green or Peace & Freedom or some other protest vote this year, hey, go for it.

But in the sweet and holy name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, don’t further denigrate the faith by having anything to do with this ruthless conman.

Yeah, I know God can wrought miracles, I know even the hardest of hearts can change should they desire to, but Donald Trump is a 70 year old narcissist who has spent his life lying and cheating and stealing from others to line his own pocket and make himself famous.

Hoping — no, strike that — wishfully thinking that somehow he is going to become introspective enough to realize he needs to change his behavior is just going to drive more people from the faith.

“Hold!  Enough!”

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Connecting The Dots or How I Think


MGWG cartoon

I saw and shared the above cartoon because it struck me as funny.

The incongruity of a cartoon gorilla and a cartoon alligator agreeing to a mutual protection / revenge pact was ridiculous.

As Monty Python has pointed out:

Accountants acting like accountants or Vikings acting like Vikings = Not Funny

Vikings acting like accountants  or accountants acting like Vikings = Funny

What’s doubly ironic is that these two characters have diametrically opposed goals: Magilla Gorilla wants to be purchased and cared for as somebody’s pet, Wally Gator wants to escape the zoo and recover his lost freedom.

Some have asked if it’s too soon for this sort of humor, and all I can do is repeat what Lenny Bruce said as he took the stage for the first time after President John F. Kennedy was shot: =phew= Vaughn Meader…”

One can sympathize with the terror and tragedy of a two-year old’s death, or the deadly peril of a child who fell into an ape pen, while at the same time recognizing the irony of gorillas and gators being punished for acting like gorillas and gators after humans intrude on their habitats.

But even as I was typing that, I became conscious a connection between this cartoon and a different problem on a different scale that I had obviously “seen” in the cartoon, only didn’t realize it at the time.

What happened to those two poor unfortunate children and then to the animals they encountered parallels the arrogance of racism and white privilege.

Now, I am most emphatically not saying the parents in either case were arrogant; far from it.

But they were certainly benefiting from an arrogant human mindset that said destroying a gorilla’s native habitat for human needs was okay and imprisoning those surviving gorillas in a small enclosure was okay, a human mindset that said building elaborate recreational facilities in the middle of a deadly predator’s native habitat was okay and if the animals did not go along with the plan then they were expendable.

No, I am not saying any number of gorillas or alligators are equal to one human life.

But I am saying the families who experienced these terrible events wouldn’t have experienced them if there hadn’t been a presumption on somebody’s part that it was okay to imprison large primates for the amusement of humans or build human vacation resorts in the middle of gator country.

Those families who suffered those horrible encounters certainly did not arrogantly demand that the zoo or resort be built and animals exploited for their personal benefit…

…but when they saw there was a system for that already in place, they thought, hey, why not?

No, strike that. They didn’t think anything. Going to the zoo or the resort was as natural to them as breathing. All their lives they had been told that zoos and resorts were good things and if the topic of the animals in them ever came up, it was probably dismissed with a PR claim that the animals were actually safer and better off now than they had been before.

A few weeks ago we had dinner with a Dear Friend whom we’ve known for close to thirty years. I won’t identify Dear Friend any further other than to say they’re slightly older than us.

Dear Friend told us they didn’t like President Obama.

Okay, why?

“The country has gotten worse under him.”

By what metrics?

“Well, the economy…”

Whip out the smartphone*;
a few quick keystrokes and…
nope, economy’s doing fine.
We’re enjoying a recovery.

“Those numbers don’t mean anything.”

Those numbers are the same
statistics and measurements
both parties use when they’re
in control, they’re not whipped
up in some publicity hack’s office.

“Crime is going up…”

Another quick flurry of keystrokes.
Nope, crime has been falling for
the last two decades. The numbers
vary from year to year, of course,
but the overall trend is down.
Last year, in fact, had less crime
than the year before.

So says the FBI database.

“Well, maybe nationwide, but
here in Los Angeles it’s going up.”

More keystrokes. Nope, crime
in L.A. is falling. too, about at the
same level as the national average.

“Well, maybe in Los Angeles as
a whole, but in my neighborhood…”

Ahh, and now the little light comes on.
Dear Friend, your neighborhood isn’t
becoming more dangerous.

It’s becoming more brown.

Now, Dear Friend is as kind and as generous a person as you could hope to meet. If Dear Friend was told there was a non-white family that needed help, they’d chip in what they could. Dear Friend certainly has several non-white people whom they love dearly in their circle of friends.

And Dear Friend certainly wouldn’t go around slandering or libeling non-white people.

But Dear Friend grew up immersed in a culture that said, overtly and indirectly, explicitly and implicitly, by word and by image and by deed, that there was something wrong with being non-white, and if not wrong wrong, then certainly not as right as being white.

And Dear Friend has never questioned this.

Dear Friend, like the parents cited above, would never question why we have zoos, or what those zoos mean in the larger scheme of things. Dear Friend might recognize in the back of their head that a resort for families that abuts right against an alligator habitat might not be the wisest thing in the world, but it would never occur to Dear Friend to question the whole idea of having a resort.

That’s what we mean when we say “white privilege”.

“No white skin off my nose.”

Which brings us full circle to Magilla Gorilla and Wally Gator, and why this cartoon resonated so deeply with me.

I grew up with these characters as a child, and encountered them in various professional venues when I was writing for animation.

Both lead lives of anxiety and longing based not on what they would have wanted in their natural habitat, but on demands placed upon them by the humans who dominate them.

And mind you, for all intents and purposes, these characters are the equals to human beings: They speak, they can plan, they even wear clothes.

Despite this, and for purely arbitrary reasons, they are regulated to animal status in their cartoons; conversely Huckleberry Hound and Top Cat are treated as equals by the humans in their cartoons.

Magilla Gorilla has been told his function in life is to be the pet of a human being; he is typically found confined to a pet store at the beginnings of each episode until a new owner is located, but by the end of the cartoon his hopes are dashed and he’s returned to the pet shop.

Conversely, Wally Gator is trapped in a zoo and constantly schemes to escape; when he does he is returned to his pen.

It would be a gross oversimplification to say Magilla Gorilla represents the African-American experience in America while Wally Gator represents the Native American experience but dang, they fit, don’t they?

The more I thought about the cartoon above, the more I realize the reason it resonated with me so strongly was because it reflected a very real change that is going on in American racial and cultural attitudes right now.

And a big part of that change is that various minority and ostracized groups in America are realizing they no longer need the permission of white America to live fulfilling lives.

In the cartoon above Magilla Gorilla and Wally Gator realize they have no friends in the human camp, their lives are circumscribed by roles the humans have forced them into. They realize they will receive no support or protection from the humans, either.

The only choice left is to look after one another or live and die miserably alone.

Here’s another cartoon, this one from Sophie LaBelle of Assigned Male webcomic.

MGWG assigned male LGBT comic

Not a funny cartoon, pretty tragic actually, but it uses humor (okay, sarcasm) to make a point:

The privileged always want to make it about them.

And minorities and ostracized groups are getting tired of it, and are starting to say no.

And the fact they’re doing that is making some privileged people lose their s4!t.

So that’s the way my mind works,
those are the connections I see.




* I am a total fncking asshole when it comes to using my smartphone in an argument; I will not let you fob off some egregious piece of b.s. without a fact check. My late aunt used to say, “Put that thing away!” whenever she saw me reaching for it.

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Writing Report, June 15, 2016


Eddie Poe on writing sanity

Where we at?

The “WWII-era Lord Of The Flies with Catholic schoolgirls” is ready to go, has been ready to go for quite some time.

I don’t want to upload it prematurely, however, because that runs the danger of squandering the work.  The plan is to launch it as the first of three books, all coming out within a short period of time to one another (I’m aiming for three books in as many months).

The modern Western with teen girls saving horses is in first draft, with one pass through on the editing.  I want to spend at least a couple of weeks going over it before making it ready to upload, but when I can devote full time to it I should see it complete in three to four weeks.

“The Most Dangerous Man In The World: The Lost G.I. Joe Episode” is nearing completion, I’m at the start of the climactic battle.

But it’s slow going, a tough slog.  I’ve been out of the Joe world / mindset for quite some time, and while some of the characters come back readily as old friends, for the most part I’ve had to do a lot of research and double checking.

If I’m going to pitch this to readers as an authentic G.I. Joe story by an authentic G.I. Joe writer, I’ve got to do my homework and make it as accurate as possible.

I have no illusions that I’ll pull it off 100%.
I’m sure there will be lots of
details I’ll miss or garble up.

Back when we were doing the series, I didn’t have to know the proper name and nomenclature for every vehicle and weapon; I could just write “The Joe tanks fire at the Cobra tanks” and let the animators and storyboard departments worry about what it looked like.

Not this time.  This time I have to maintain a patina of consistency.  (Though I’ve got to say Hasbro themselves were never sticklers for consistency, and frequently the same vehicle or weapon would have radically different capabilities from toy to TV show to comic book to card game.)

Once “The Most Dangerous Man In The World” is completed, it’ll sit aside for a few weeks as I go over the Western, then as the Western is with beta readers, I’ll do my re-write on the Joe book.

It will be extensive because I am writing this one large, throwing everything in and often creating some redundancies that will have to be attended to.

The plot isn’t going to change
but beats will be tightened.

Once the first draft of “The Most Dangerous Man In The World” is complete, things will start to move quite rapidly.  God willing and the crick don’t rise, I may have all three for download available by mid-September.

Then what?

Well, I’ve actually been enjoying quite a creative spell.  Since the first of the year I’ve written six short stories of varying length, and am about halfway through another.  I’ve also got several short stories I wrote last year that I’ve polished and have started on the rounds.*

I’ll give them five or six chances to find a paying home then post them here if nobody buys them.

On top of that, several poems (mostly short) and a handful of essays.

The short story I’m writing currently (parallel to “The Most Dangerous Man In The World”, one by collegiate composition notebook, the other on my iMac) is expanding as I write it.  I first thought of it as a short story in the 3,000 word range, but now I’ve reached the 6,400 word mark and am still adding stuff.

It’s expanding because the world it’s set in is getting richer, more complex.  It’s a heroic fantasy story but one that’s sufficiently different from most stories in the genre to stand out.

It features a very dark protagonist (dark in more than one sense of the word) and its hard to reconcile their actions with any sort of conventional heroic morality, which I think is what makes them so interesting.

It’s not going to have a happy ending.  Evil will be vanquished, but it will still not be a happy ending.

And for those anxious to read “The Most Dangerous Man In The World”, I’m making progress.  But the short stories are flashes of fire, not a long slog, and as such I can complete them in just a few days (typically; this one is running longer but through no fault of its own).

After that?

I’ve got a big novel planed, dozens if not potentially hundreds of characters (most small walk-ons, but still crucial to the story; it’s similar to The Simpsons insofar as the support cast builds the reality of the premise).  It’s not going to be a science fiction or fantasy story, but I think most people will enjoy it as a pretty broad farce and satire on small town morality.

And past that?

I’ve got tons of stuff in the hopper.  I have books where I have started on them years ago, hit a good stride, then slammed into a wall.

I’ve learned for me that when that happens it’s foolish to attempt to force anything; it will only ring false and have to be thrown out and redone.  So when the next book is done (i.e., book #4, the small town farce) then I’m going to go back through these stalled out stories and see if my subconscious has come up with any ideas.

Right now I have enough ideas on tap to keep
me occupied for the next decade, if not longer.

*  If you’re wondering how I’ve managed to increase my creative productivity, it’s because I am under one helluva lot of stress in my personal life and writing is the only safe outlet.  My books tend to be upbeat and optimistic since I don’t want to spend all that time with a downer story, but the short stories have been very heavy and dark recently.  I cannot relax and I find myself getting constantly bombarded by new squalls and pressures.  It’s coming out in the short fiction, and even when the stories read light, the core tends to be rather heavy.

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If You’re Getting This Link…



It means you’ve done or said something so egregious that I have to call shenanigans on it but, due to the delicate sensibilities of my wife, I am holding my anger and intellect at bay.

Most likely you’ve said something that is a flat out attack on somebody I know and love. Maybe you’ve trashed talked or slandered a family member or friend, maybe you’ve railed against the “other” not realizing that in my immediate family and close circle of friends I have just about every ethnic, cultural, gender, and religious group imaginable, so what you said about “them” is actually an attack on “mine”.

I cut you no slack on that.

You may be guilty of *splaining, that is to say, attempting to distract focus from the real problem to some minor issue by complaining that, no, it was not the XB-69 widget but the XB-69C widget that was attached to the problem and to that I’ll suggest you take both widgets, find the smallest and most tender aperture on your body, and cram them in there with as much force as you can muster.

Use a baseball bat to pound ‘em home if necessary.

You may be supporting a person or cause who is simply Beyond The Pale. This differs from prejudging the “other” in this sense: We can document clearly that either the individual in question or the cause itself is actively involved in wreaking great harm on people, and while it is unfair to say all members of group X or followers of philosophy Z are evil beyond redemption, it isn’t unfair to say that those members and followers who unjustly hurt innocent people are wicked.

If you defend the wicked, you are wicked,
and that may be why you’re receiving this link.

You may be accusing others while ignoring what your side does; this is called projection and it typically means you accuse others of the very things you yourself do.

You may be making false accusations and slanders and libels against people who make you feel icky. It may surprise you that I have no desire for you to be forced to associate with people who make you feel icky, and as long as you can avoid them without impinging on their rights as human beings or citizens of this country, please, go right ahead.

If you hate square dancing,
don’t go to the square dance.

But don’t try to stop the square dance.
Especially by burning it to the ground
while the dancers are inside.

You may have done some other thing that warrants this link. Trust me, if you argue Plan 9 From Outer Space is a better movie than Casablanca, I may roll my eyes but I’m not sending you this link. If you prefer oranges to apricots, or think Picasso was a fake, or believe that the underlying philosophy of this group or that is bogus, hey, I may disagree, but I’m not going to get angry with you about.

In fact, I’ll probably engage in a very spirited public debate.

But…when you cross the line of common human decency…this post is what you’ll receive.not here to be polite

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The Last Con Man


Let’s follow the money and apply Occam’s Razor…


Consider the evidence pointing to Donald Trump being just a fast-talking con man who has run out of gullible marks in the business world:

  1. His casino failed
  2. His so-called university is being sued for defrauding retirees and a RICO investigation is underway involving him
  3. He hasn’t built anything in a decade but merely licensed his name to be slapped on already existing real estate
  4. He apparently isn’t worth anywhere near a billion dollars
  5. His “brand identity” is frittered away on dozens of penny-ante failures such as “Trump Steaks” and “Trump Magazine” to “Trump Airlines” and “Trump Vodka”
  6. He can’t get anyone to work with him in business anymore because he’s a deadbeat who refuses to honor his obligations and sues or threatens to sue anyone who tries to collect their money from him
  7. He can’t fund his own campaign despite his claim he would
  8. He can’t find donors to support him

He’s going broke — if he hasn’t gone bust already and is just hiding it.

He has been caught flip-flopping back and forth on issues as much as three times in the same speech so there is no way of know what, if anything, he’ll do.

He’s a con man at the end of his rope,
scamming America for one last big score is his game.

Go big or go home.

Don’t be his mark.

Trump Paul FellP20150828_lowcartoon by Paul Fell

Seriously, how do you go bankrupt with a casino?

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Aren’t You Reading ASHES TO ASHEVILLE Yet?


Mi amigo John Shore is hard at work on a new novel, Ashes To Asheville, which, in the time honored tradition of Charles Dickens and Armistead Maupin, is being serialized in a newspaper, in this case the Asheville Citizen-Times.

I’ll let John describe it:

“It’s the story of Tammy, a 45-year-old mother of two grown children whose husband of 22 years … well, let’s just say critically disappoints her.

“For 10 years she taught art and painting at a San Diego junior college. She thought her life was settled. And suddenly she discovers that it’s anything but. This launches her into what is, to say the least, an unsettling time for her.

“In her anguish, Tammy flees her comfortable life in San Diego for the home of her beloved half-brother, Charlie, who lives in Asheville.

“And if you’re going to be thrust into an intensely wrenching, soul-upheaving season of your life, in which so much of what you know, or thought you knew, about yourself is essentially up for grabs, then Asheville is certainly a spectacularly unique place to have that experience. It sure proves to be for her, anyway.”

Check it out. As a former resident of Asheville (and with family members still living there), I can say he’s capturing the flavor and spirit of the town in a really well crafted story.

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What IS Star Trek?


StarTrekTheOriginalSeriesintrotumblr_loyv0pxXD51qboo5qo1_r2_500Of the several threads woven into the ancestry of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek, one — and I think the most important one — can be traced all the way back to John W. Campbell‘s Astounding Stories by way of Forbidden Planet and Dianetics.

There’s a wide variety of opinion on how to look at Star Trek (and we will confine ourselves to just the original three seasons of the first series, Roddenberry’s core idea in its purest distilled form).

Roddenberry himself referred to it semi-sarcastically as “Wagon Train in space”. Others have called it a planet-of-the-week story. As with many science fiction and fantasy programs, it was at core a series of morality plays.

The common joke is that the basic Star Trek idea is they meet God, and –

  • He’s a child.
  • Or an idiot.
  • Or a machine.
  • Or some combination thereof.

Much truth is said in jest, and I think the core of Star Trek, the philosophical heart and soul, as it were, is really a much more profound question:

“How then shall a god behave?”

Yes, I know Roddenberry was an atheist;
they frequently as the best questions.

Here are the episodes that I consider to be in the “How then shall a god behave?” theme:

“The Cage”
“The Menagerie”
“Where No Man Has Gone Before”
“The City On The Edge Of Forever”
“The Squire Of Gothos”
“Charlie X”
“Shore Leave”
“The Return Of The Archons”
“Errand Of Mercy”
“Who Mourns For Adonis?”
“The Changeling”
“The Apple”
“Plato’s Stepchildren”

Quite a number, and several of them crucial to the series’ impact / success / longevity. I hold that if you remove these episodes, particularly the first five on the list (which include the two pilots), you remove what makes Star Trek “Star Trek”.[1]

Star-Trek-The-Original-Series-image-star-trek-the-original-series-36390304-1024-768The stories cited above involve characters who are either capable of altering the fabric of reality (“The City On The Edge Of Forever”, as opposed to other time travel stories in the series, is about a moral choice that will drastically alter the future instead of merely creating a mild disruption), creating an illusion so universal that it might as well be altered reality (as opposed to fooling just one or two individuals), or overtly demanding to be worshipped as a god.

STTOS ForeverThe difference between these episodes and those where characters possess superhuman abilities (including shapeshifting), are extremely powerful but in a conventional manner, or use illusion to attempt to gain what they want is that the latter still fall inside the range of recognizable human conflicts and behavior while the core stories involve to one degree or another human interaction with a being who, whatever their origin, is now several degrees of magnitude above and beyond humanity.[2]

The quintessential Star Trek story, it appears, is basically a 20th century retelling of the Book of Job. It is humanity staring God in the eye and asking, “What gives?”

Okay, so how did Star Trek arrive at that particular equation?
What led Roddenberry and his staff in that direction?

Roddenberry made no bones about drawing inspiration from the published science fiction of the era.  Star Trek is certainly chockablock with pulp sci-fi gadgetry and concepts; it’s not that far removed from Space Patrol or Rocky Jones.

And the episodes themselves certainly drew inspiration from older science fiction stories.  “Arena” notoriously ripped off Frederick Brown’s short story of the same title, and purely unintentionally: Line producer Gene L. Coon, needing a script in a hurry, dredged up the idea from his subconscious, having forgotten he’d read it in college. The moment Desilu’s legal department realized the similarity, Coon contacted Brown and purchased the story rights from him.

And where was that story first published?

From the ur-source of 20th century science fiction:
The pages of Astounding Science Fiction and the editorial offices of John W. Campbell.


art by Hubert Rogers

Frank Kelly Freas ???????John W. Campbell by Frank Kelly Freas

Before we get to Campbell,
we’ll make two brief stops.

First is Forbidden Planet, one of the clearly acknowledged inspirations for Star Trek, and itself derived from Campbell’s pool of creative talent.

Forbidden Planet was the last big budget film of the early 1950s sci-fi craze, arriving just too late to catch the crest of the wave. A B-movie from MGM, an A-list studio, Forbidden Planet stood head and shoulders above most science fiction films of the era.

While it’s origins were decidedly B-movie, Forbidden Planet received two creative streams through screenwriter Cyril Hume.[3]

Hume melded in Shakespeare (by way of The Tempest) and popular sci-fi (by way of whatever was on the stands at the time). He found the sweet spot for the story, the perfect blend of corn and cosmic consciousness.

For those not familiar with Forbidden Planet, it involves a starship arriving at a remote planet where a mad scientist has been playing with a now extinct advanced race’s brain boosting machinery, giving him the god-like ability to create a super-sapient robot, a menagerie of living animals and, in the film’s great unanswered question, possibly even his own daughter.


The studly young space captain falls for the daughter (of course) and arouses a Freudian fit of incestuous jealousy in the scientist that finds form in the infamous Monster Of The Id, which in the end can scarcely be constrained long enough to allow the daughter to escape with the captain and his crew before the entire planet blows up.

forbidden planet monster from id

Is that or is that not as perfect a Star Trek episode as one could hope for?

Despite a mediocre performance at the box office,
Forbidden Planet remains a touch stone of literate science fiction.

Hume’s dip into the depths of literary sci-fi doubtlessly occurred at Campbell and Astounding’s end of the pool.

Campbell and Astounding had already provided the foundation for two of the 1950s earliest sci-fi successes:
The Day The Earth Stood Still, based on “Farewell To The Master” by Harry Bates (originally published in the October 1940 issue of Astounding Science Fiction) and The Thing From Another World, based on “Who Goes There?” by Don A. Stuart (originally published in the August 1938 issue).

“Don A. Stuart” is
the pen name of
John W. Campbell.

Campbell is arguably the single most influential person in the history of American science fiction. A writer of slam bang adventure in the early pulp era, once he ascended to the editor’s desk of Astounding he demanded writers jettison early cardboard characters, formula writing, and dubious science to produce stories that were sound as both science and as fiction.

His high standards almost immediately propelled Astounding to the top of the pulp sci-fi heap; it remains in print to this day as Analog Science Fiction / Science Fact. If he didn’t find the all great writers of the 1940s and 50s, he certainly championed and challenged them, leading to some of their best stories.[4]

But for all his strengths, Campbell also had one weakness, one type of story he was a sucker for.

As a young college student at Duke University, he was aware of the research of J. B. Rhine and his Parapsychology Laboratory.

Rhine was an enthusiastic believer in parapsychology, but he approached the field with a basic set of scientific controls. While Rhine’s results were never duplicated by other researchers, he at least made an effort to weed out frauds and attempt to find genuine examples of parapsychology.

At Astounding, Campbell revived his interest in parapsychology in the form of “psionics”, originally parapsychology through electronic means but eventually any form of the phenomena, including through human evolution.

Campbell was far from the only person interested in the field, but his influence and guidance led to the publication of the Lensman stories by E.E. “Doc” Smith[5] which in turn provided inspiration (i.e., was ripped off by) the 1950’s revival of the Green Lantern, “Slan” and “The World Of Null-A” among others by A. E. van Vogt[6] which in turn provided inspiration for the X-Men and other Marvel mutants, James H. Schmitz’ Telzey series about a teenage girl with psionic abilities[7], and a little thing by Frank Herbert called “Dune”.

Unfortunately, Campbell also promoted a lot of other iffy ideas, proving yet again that the most hardened cynic is really a dashed idealist. Among other ideas he promoted as rooted in reality were the Dean drive, a reactionless drive that never worked as advertised, the Heironymus Machine, a psionic device so powerful one didn’t need to actually build it but just possess the blueprints, and a new “science of the mind” called Dianetics.

Yes, that Dianetics, by author L. Ron Hubbard, one of Campbell’s regular stable of writers and an eager promoter of his own ideas regarding the outer limits of human abilities and perception.

For all the hard science nuts & bolts stories that Campbell published, he also included a good stiff brace of more fanciful ideas.[8]

So the realm of science fiction, even in the 1940s, was already deeply into the question of superhuman ethics. Ayn Rand’s best selling books (and “Atlas Shrugged” is borderline sci-fi) clearly advocated the right of the strong to tyrannize the weak, while a legion of more altruistic writers saw a possibility of human morality through psychology and not religion.

That was the heady cultural mix that Roddenberry drew from when he first pitched Star Trek in 1964. From that starting point he, as did Rod Serling with The Twilight Zone, used the genre of science fiction to examine certain assumptions about the human condition.

But while Serling clearly believed there was some underlying sense of karma dealing out justice in the universe, Roddenberry clearly believed humans had the right and ability to choose their own fate.

Star Trek certainly celebrated that yin, but it also recognized the yang of the equation, that without some sort of moral and ethical governance, the temptation for absolute power to corrupt absolutely is strong, the serpent, as it were, in a new garden of Eden.

God and Satan frequently get blamed for things they’re not responsible for, with human beings quick to shift their own guilt to other shoulders.

And while Roddenberry and Star Trek celebrated a triumphant humanist culture, they still needed to deal with that dark part of the human soul, and rather than face it directly, used the metaphor of the insane god-child machine.

That’s not a condemnation.

Sometimes it’s hard to face the reality before us, and we find metaphors more acceptable, more comforting.

Star Trek’s metaphor is that those who wish to be gods must also be eternally vigilant against the temptation to not be vigilant, to drop our guard, to let the worst of our natures rise to the surface.

It is not a warning but a caution.

And it’s what gives Star Trek the depth and resonance that previous space opera lacked.




[1] And, yes, these aren’t the only kind of stories Star Trek could do; there are a lot of really top notch episodes in a variety of sub-genres and themes which are good stories to this very day. Even the most lackluster 3rd season episodes had their brief moments of incandescent wonder. Nonetheless, those stories are not what gives the show its life.

[2] Episodes like “The Paradise Syndrome”, “And The Children Shall Lead”, and “Spectre Of The Gun” brush up close but don’t cross the line into this particular theme.

[3] Allen Adler, a blacklisted writer, and Irving Block, who co-owned a special effects company that specialized in low budget films, came up with the idea of a planet of invisible monsters to appeal to low budget film makers. MGM was having none of that and promptly elevated the budget and scope of the film considerable.

[4] Of all the great names in the golden age of magazine science fiction, only Ray Bradbury traveled outside his orbit.

[5] He had a PhD in making donuts. Seriously.

[6] He also wrote “The Voyage Of The Space Beagle” which in turn led to the films Night Of The Blood Beast, It! The Terror From Outer Space, and Alien.

[7] Somebody is leaving money on the table by not reviving this series today.

[8] There’s nothing wrong with such flights of fancy when they are clearly just flights of fancy ala They Might Be Giants core conceit. Campbell thought too many of them were bona fide and eventually enough of his writers and readers said, “Really, John…?” and he backed off a bit, though he still published stuff like Herbert’s and Schmitz’ work, among others.

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