Monday, January 30, 2012

A Little Help from My Friends

'It's a kind of zen question: if you write a book and no one reads it, is it really a book?' Lee Child

An inevitable and terrifying step in getting other people to read a book I've written is to foist it off on my publisher. Not because she's evil incarnate - Marci's supportive, upbeat and genuinely wants to give new writers a shot in the business. Not because the process beyond the contract is a fire-breathing, sharp-eyed editor.

It's because....somebody might read it.

Yesterday, I sent out a manuscript to Wild Child Publishing, beginning the process of acceptance (never guaranteed), editing and eventual release. This one is tentatively called a Miracle of Zeros and Ones, the story of a police woman and a stalker.

Monday, January 23, 2012

No Tights for this Robin Hood

"Soon every lupin in the land, Will be in his mighty hand. He steals them from the rich, And gives them to the poor."*

Held: Kim Dotcom, formerly known as Kim Schmitz and also known as Kim Tim Jim Vestor, was arrested along with three other executives of MegauploadsI don't pretend to understand everything about Megaupload. In fact. I don't pretend to understand a lot. I know that, the other day, the Internet equivalents of the corner mom and pop - Google and Wikipedia - threatened to hold their breath until they turned blue if Congress restricted their access to...access or something. Having grown up in the vinyl era of music distribution, I'm aware that awful, evil, ruthless tycoon types conspire to make me buy stupid songs on an album with one great tune. Those charlatans had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the era of single-track downloads. I get that.

So when a person comes along who wants to fight for us little guys (and gals) and hold the conglomorates' tootsies to the blowtorch there is a side of me that roots for our champion. Until I read the story.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Tower, This is Ghost Rider Requesting a Flyby UPDATED

"Sorry, Goose. It's time to buzz the tower."*

I admit to age. I grow occasionally weary attempting even passive feats. I am gray, and an easily-consumed Enchiladas Delmar at the Rio Grande (one margarita, too) requires several sessions in the gym to neutralize. I have recently been called "Old Man" in a chance encounter at work. I grew up in the shadow of the World War II generation, and their legends. Consequently, the recent events surrounding the grounding and partial sinking of the Costa Concordia off the coast of Italy are astounding.

Reading material is awash with descriptions of the facts. A modern, three thousand passenger cruise ship, her captain apparently deviating from the prescribed course for frivolous reasons (passing within 450 feet of shore to honk the horn at someone), struck a submerged object. Fatal damage occurred to her port side and she partially capsized before beaching within sight of shore. At least a dozen people perished. The captain and many members of the crew preceded the majority of passengers into the lifeboats.

Big picture writer Mark Steyn has made the point that modern society has turned its collective backs on the kinds of behavior in the face of peril that defines courage. He writes:

In fact, “women and children first” can be dated very precisely. On Feb. 26, 1852, HMS Birkenhead was wrecked off the coast of Cape Town while transporting British troops to South Africa. There were, as on the Titanic, insufficient lifeboats. The women and children were escorted to the ship’s cutter. The men mustered on deck. They were ordered not to dive in the water lest they risk endangering the ladies and their young charges by swamping the boats. So they stood stiffly at their posts as the ship disappeared beneath the waves. As Kipling wrote:
We’re most of us liars, we’re ’arf of us thieves, an’ the rest of us rank as can be, But once in a while we can finish in style (which I ’ope it won’t ’appen to me).
I leave for others the inevitable discussion of the "women and children" concept as either shamefully chauvinistic or rooted in the Darwinian notion that our species' survival rests on preserving the vessels of procreation or its result. As a man, I feel personally responsible for my family. I cannot explain it - only report it.

Titanic references abound, with the best of them "Dude, Where's my Lifeboat." It seems piling onto this tragedy has become every blogger's preoccupation. I have a smaller point to make.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Good, Old Fashioned Ass Kicking

titleWhen someone kicks your ass, just be thankful you brought it with you. No one likes to show up unprepared.

I just wonder, as Tim Tebow meandered around the field - alone - after losing 45-10, who was going to put an arm around him and say that everyone endures days like he had. At least he didn't give up. Or, something.

Instead, he wandered around looking for someone to talk to. I wonder....

When he looks around the locker room tonight in Massachusetts, does he see friends? A band of brothers?

Or, a room full of people who were just along for the ride.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Playoffs? Playoffs?*

Well, now. Who woulda thunk it. And what did the winning quarterback say about an especially improbable win?
The receivers make him look better than he really is.

Maybe that's true, maybe he just tosses the ball in someone's direction and lets them try to make a play. Maybe this whole thing has been one stroke of dumb luck after another, a cacophony of happenstance, the unpredictable outcomes of an inept, ill-suited flash-in-the-pan making it up as he goes along.

Monday, January 2, 2012


"Bill Wade, the outgoing chair of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, said Congress should be regretting its decision to allow loaded weapons in national parks. He called Sunday's fatal shooting a tragedy that could have been prevented. He hopes Congress will reconsider the law that took effect in early 2010, but doubts that will happen in today's political climate." Read more:

Such is the level of discourse in this country. Long before the investigation is concluded, at a point where it seems the suspect in the murder of Ranger Margaret Anderson was running from another shooting, we get the above. Did Congress forget to reenact the law making the murder of a Federal Officer a capital offense, too?

Bill Wade is a tool.

The loss of an officer should never be used as political fodder. Her death is a tragedy, an unspeakable loss to her family, to her friends and to her coworkers. It's not a talking point.

UPDATE: As much as I read politics, I don't really like writing it. Too often, unnecessary battle lines create fruitless animosities. Careful, occasional snippets of "Jim world" is all a person can stand, if that.

Recently, it has come to light that Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum and spouse Karen had a son who survived for only two hours after his birth. Although warned of that outcome, it had to be devastating nonetheless. During his short life they loved him, baptised him, welcomed him into their family. After he passed they took him home, allowing their other children to grieve along with them.

Wrong? Having come close with my daughter, I'm not prepared to judge. Our family didn't have to face the death of an infant - thank God.

Now, apparently, some political commentators think his decision is legitimate fodder to score political points.

Few things are more contemptable. Have we all sunk this low?

Captain Jack

"Jack Sparrow: Not just the Spanish Main, love. The entire ocean. The entire wo'ld. Wherever we want to go, we'll go. That's what a ship is, you know. It's not just a keel and a hull and a deck and sails, that's what a ship needs but what a ship is... what the Black Pearl really is... is freedom."*

Our recent cruise was restful, recreational and a great learning experience. We ate, we drank (a little) and read (a lot). We met some very interesting people along the way - an underwater photographer looked remarkably like Johnny Depp, something the snorkeling crew played up, especially when it came time to buy the pictures.

The Shore Excursions Ain't What They Used To Be. Some years ago we went on a snorkeling venture, an outing organized by our home resort in Playa Del Carmen. To make a long story short, it was a bit unstructured. The equipment was old and tired (my personal flotation device was missing three of four buckles), the crew confused.... We lost the dive leader seconds after leaving the boat, picked our way through coral in four foot swells and, upon returning were dropped off in water over our heads.

This time -

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

Wishing a happy and healthy 2012 to our growing community of readers and contributors.