Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Wait, people actually read this shit?

Got two surprises the last few days.

Last night a friend and writer I respect a great deal told me he'd read my blog. He said it in passing, like, "So, I was reading your post the other day and thinking about it."

I had no idea he was reading it. My ego expanded like the heart of a supernova. My lips popped with the heat of the tiny explosion of gassy satisfaction like a hiccup of hydrogen processed in the furnace at the tiny heart of the empty, echoing vacuum of my cranium.

Then today, my best friend from my misspent youth in Switzerland asked how my Holidays were, "aside from a Marine sticking her head in your lap."

Someone quoth my shit! Holy shit! People actually read this stuff?! I was better prepared this time, and managed to keep the fires of ego banked and pleasingly glowy, rather than brainfarting all over the place.

Granted, they are my friends, and a certain level of interest in what I do is expected, as is the inverse, but as another of my friends once told me, "No one is going to be as interested in your shit as you are."

Now I know I gots ta be careful wit' muh writin'. Real people is readin' me.

All kidding aside, it is gratifying to know I do not scream into the void, my words falling unheard into the abyss

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas in Tennessee

This morning was quite fine, with my daughter ecstatic over her American Girl doll, Emily. My wife liked the things I bought her, and my parents appreciated the gifts they received. I too, looked about and thought myself blessed.

Isabelle, Karen, and I spent the day hammering out different games on the Wii... Entertaining, but sore shoulders for all.

Then it came time for dinner: Turkey, stuffing, cranberries, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green beans, aunts, uncles, dog trainers, dog, cat, and a general wonderland of wine. What I wouldn't give for another stomach!

Now we sit and digest, and I try not to watch Prince Caspian for the 8 millionth time (my daughter absolutely adores it, and can quote lines from any portion of the film). I am supposed to get some writing done, I think. Luckily, the laptop lets me be among the family and cozy whilst I type this out.

I am blessed in many ways, most of all with regard to my family. I treasure these times, I really do.

Merry Christmas to you and yours, and best wishes for the New Year.

Later, District 9.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Flying the Red Eye with Red Ma-Girl

"Holy shit, but I need to peeeeeeh!" quoth my squealing neighbor as we finally ended the long taxi to the gate in Memphis. It was a merciful ending to a strange leg of my trip home fo the holidays.

It started with a fifteen minute bus ride that shoud have taken three. Got to the gate in good time, regardless. Boarded on time, which meant we had a nice long wait for the stampede. While we all stood waiting, three marines on our flight were enjoying a few libations.

Now usually when I fly, at least one leg of the trip results in me being seated next to another large mammal, and one of us either arranges to take a different seat or we suffer through bumping shoulders and a great deal of discomfort.

So of course, as the stampede begins, I have a large man behind me. I ask where he's seated, and... wait for it... he's in the same row... other side of the aisle, thank god!

While I'm talking to him, he sneezes rather fiercely (into his elbow, thankfully). I say the usual, to which he replies, "I'm not sure what I've got. Haven't been the same since Singapore."

My first thought? FUCK ME!

"Don't advertise that," I said. speeding up to avoid over-exposure.

I took my seat, a window. The aisle seat was quickly occupied by a guy about my age who seemed to be an experienced traveller. Chatted a moment, confirmed the cool. we both kept our eyes forward, looking for the middle seat, dreading the outcome.

Here comes a Marine.

A dog starts whining in the back of the plane.

The Marine staggers past, blearily checking rows. My row buddy and I share a relieved nod. A family of indian women take seats in front of us.

Behind them comes another of the Marines. Digicam hat popped high and clutching a soda bottle in her hand. Being of exceedingly small stature, as she comes closer she tips her head back to look at the row numbers and the rather large lump of chaw in her lower lip becomes visible. The soda bottle, a rather large 2o oz, is a third full with her spittle and used vegetable product.

"Shit, but it's hot in here."

"You sitting here?" my cool row mate asks.

"Yep, this is meeee!" the Marine replies slurring her vowels as only alcohol and one born in the south can do competently.

The gent in the aisle seat rises and lets her in, helplessly looking to the front of the cabin.

The scent of chewing tobacco and no small amount of alcohol swirls in a sickening melange with the yapping whine of the dog somewhere behind us as she moves into position. She takes a while to take her seat, having to first pound her bag into the space between her seat and the indian's to her front.

"Hooweee! That was shit."

What followed was either a tactful silence or stunned muteness. I am still not sure which.

All the sudden her head is in my lap as she's scrabbling at her bag. This goes on for more time than was comfortable for me, adn I am relieved to discover her scrabbling has a purpose. She's trying to get her Marine training manuals out and study.

"Just made lance, tryin' for corporal," she mutters.

"Congratualtions," I say, releived to have her chaw-soaked mouth away from my crotch, and meaning it too; just cause she's uncouth doesn't mean she isn't a good soldier.

"Uhm-huh," a delay, then, "Shit, I gotta go to the latrine."

The aisle fellow rises, the Marine departs. My aisle buddy looks disappointed. Not that she left, but that she'll be coming back.

"Could be a big drunk one," I say.

He shrugs, as if to say, "Or it could have been a Maxim model."

The Marine returns, sans spitoon and bulging lip. Relieved, I buckle up and prepare to get off the ground.

We get off the ground without a hitch, aside from more muttered imprecautions from tiny Marine next to me, which I am good with. Some people just don't travel well.

The tiny Marine passes out, slumping between myself and Mr Cool Aisle for the duration of the flight, which means lights out for me too. I wake as we start to descend. There's a good bit of weather turbulence, setting the plane to rocking.

Tiny Marine gets agitated, bouncing in her seat and pressing one breast into my arm as she cranks her neck over to look out the window, "I fuckin' hate not fuckin' bein' able to see the ground. Hate worryin' we'll fall outta the sky and crash."

The Indian woman in front of us gives a tiny squeek of fear, not in response to the plane's movement so much as the Marine's brining that movement to her attention.

I just nod wordlessly, working my mouth to pop my ears. Some shit you just don't say out loud, even when you're giving cheap thrills.

We get on the ground and she's all over her phone, shooting the shit with someone, cursing every third word. I wouldn't have batted an eye, but then she starts to tell a story.

"Yeah, that Marine I was telling you about, he tried to kiss me."


"Shit, I told you he tried to kiss me. And I told him, 'I'm no whore to be kissing some Marine I just met. I was raised in a God-fearing household.'"

"Shit, I know. Oh, and by the way I have one word to tell you about- you know."





We make the gate and passengers start to disembark.

"Holy shit, but I need to peeeeeeh!I know, I've been sleepin' the whole trip since we got in the fuckin' air."

By now the other passengers have finally emptied rows through to thirteen, the row before us. I breath deeply, thinking, 'Freedom is nigh!'

Another head-in-lap session as she starts to pull her bag from beneath the seat in front of her.

At last, it ends.

Now for the Memphis to Chattanooga leg.

And back again.

It should be noted: I respect and appreciate all our armed forces. They give more than they should have to each and every day. The individual soldier can often do some funny shit, though. Especially the young, intoxicated and uncomplicated.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ten Signs I'm Getting Older

1) Movies I remember watching as a kid are being remade, and yes, thirty years have passed since I first watched 'em.

2) I have more hair on my back than my head.

3) Video Games I played as a kid appear so clunky they look like a phone from the twenties set next to my cell phone.

4) People of a legal age to drink were born after I started having sex.

5) My kid has a hard time thinking of me as a kid.

6) I can't stay up all night and still function effeciently the next day.

7) I can't drink like a fish and feel okay within a few hours of waking. Now it takes all week, and it's never a good week.

8) Celebrities that die young were younger than I am.

9) The music of my youth sounds dated, even to me.

10) and the worst: Grey hair in the pubes.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

My Results and Observations from Strikeforce 121909

Got 'em all, and in the manner I thought they'd go, for the most part.

Le Vs Smith:

I should have bet on this one, damn it. Smith just wanted it so very badly. He took a brutal beating from Cung's kicks, getting knocked flat at least five times. Smith came through it to land his brute of a left hook repeatedly in the last minute of the bout. Le ended on his face with a couple of goose eggs on his forehead. Smith's unlikely to make a long career of it, based on the lumping he took to win, but man, what a chin and a will to win.

Thomson vs. Melendez

Again, as I called it. Though there was little ground action, it was because both defended so well. The standup was incredible, with Melendez winning because he had been more a student of Thomson than Thomson was of him. They went the full five rounds again. Amazing battle. Can't wait for the third matchup of these two.

Souza vs. Lindland:

Another resent sign for Strikeforce, Souza (The crocodile) is a BJJ specialist who used to have little in the way of strike game. Tonight he came out with a sick arsenal of punches that so rattled Lindland that he was an easy victim for Souza's submission, which was a good example of the jujitsu's ability to knock you out with your own limbs.

Lawal vs. Whitehead:

Lawal did as I predicted. I've never been all that impressed with Whitehead, who looks like a regional fighter more than someone who should be watched on a card with the likes of the rest of the fighters.

Some other observations:

Strikeforce has made some very smart decisions recently in signing a series of fighters I first watched in the Dream tournaments televised in the US on HDNet Fights. Names include Miller, Mousasi, Souza and Fedor. All fighting and earning good money in Japan through the Dream series of promotions.

Mousasi took Souza with an upkick knockout (in Dream 8, I think it was?). All the fighters are something to watch. Every one of these guys was signed at about the same time, to punch up Strikeforce's credibility after the thunderous collapse of EliteXC. They are all also about as good as they come in the international scene.

I noticed Melendez had both Shields and Miller in his corner. Miller is a favorite of mine from the Dream series in Japan. He's known for his showmanship both in the ring and on his approach, something the Japanese audience expects. Interestingly, he had the smarts to tamp down his presentation to make sure that he didn't upstage Melendez on the lightweight's night, to the point of dying his hair all one color.

All this has me looking forward to the Strikeforce fights of 2o1o with a great deal of excitement.

Strikeforce Fight Night December 19 Calls

Taking a page from Mark's Journal, I am calling a few fights of my own.

He's a big UFC fan, and while I don't watch UFC (mainly because I just can't justify pay per view), I do follow anything on HDNet Fights and Strikeforce pretty religiously. Here are my calls for this fight night.

Le Vs Smith:

I would call this for Le, thinking that barring a lucky shot, he should own Smith. Then I considered that while Le hasn't been away from fighting long at all, he has been away from fighting for longer than he has _ever_ been away from the discipline, and it seems to me there are some shenanigans going on with all the title crap. So I give it to Smith by a surprise knockout or a TKO. If it goes to a decision, Le. He has the home crowd advantage, after all.

Thomson vs. Melendez:

Both can kick ass, but Melendez just can't be easily hurt. He can just take so much punishment. I think it'll be a long, very good fight ending with Melendez winning either a decision or submission. This will be the fight of the night, with good skill exhibition by both fighters.

Souza vs. Lindland:

Souza for sure, he has to prove he's worth the money Strikeforce paid to get him signed. Quick submission or submission over time, it's still Souza's to lose.

Lawal vs. Whitehead:

Lawal for an artless win. That said, I think there will be lots of pounding, so a lucky strike by either could end it quick.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Jealousy is a Dark God

I met Peter V Brett at World Fantasy after I was privileged to attend his and Mark Van Name's panel about violence in fantasy. I say Mark and his panel because they were the two panelists whose contributions I took the most value from.

I later cornered Peter (AKA Peat) and spoke with him for a few hours over drinks: A very good time that I both learned a lot from and enjoyed quite a bit. During this time I also met Myke, Alessa, and Rob, the latter two having blogs you can check out along the side here---------------------------------------------------------------------->

All this to say: like many of the folks I met at the convention, I hadn't read his work, but determined that it would be my next purchase. The book, The Warded Man remained unpurchased until I had completed my sergeant's oral.

I picked up the book Monday. I finally had time and opportunity to read it today.

I had thought to pick it up and read for an hour, then get to writing. BIG MISTAKE! HUGE! Holy shit! I've read 287 pages thus far, and I haven't written a thing all day.

When I read something, I often say to myself, "Shit! I could write this."

Sometimes I even say, in the long, drawn out southern style of my maternal forebears, "SHIiiiiT! I could write better than this."

Not once has that occurred to me while reading The Warded Man.

It is original stuff. He's written a gritty fantasy world that is one thing many fantasy worlds are not: believable. The characters have deep-seated, emotional reasons for doing the things they do. Even when it is the thing you would rather they didn't do, you still understand why they are doing it.

Peter writes with a smooth surety that makes me want to bang my head against the keyboard, cry, and drink a couple of my agent's bottles of Scotch to drown my sorrows.

I might get over it.

Until the next installment of his work.


Jealousy is a Dark God.

Monday, December 14, 2009


I am really loving life these last few days. Still sick, but things are clicking along all tracks... And I'm on them.

Mind you, I couldn't figure out how to format the last post so it fucking fit in the damn spot. Also, it's been raining so much I haven't been able to ride back and forth to work, cutting into my zen time.

But then, you can't have everything, all the time, can you?

But wait, you can, when it comes in a BAG O SCHWAG!

I finally picked up my bag o'schwag from World Fantasy Con. I had left it at Borderlands Books with one of the fine folks who work there. Yes, I left it there for nearly two months! There was a method to my madness, though. I had to study, write and generally handle business in the meantime. Self-flagellating reading of other people's good stuff would have been an evil burden to bear while trying to get all my tasks accomplished...

Now, however, the exam is done and the plot-jam broken!

The bag o schwag calleth and creatith scrivening interruptis

Saturday, December 12, 2009

How not to get beat by the police

This post is an oblique response to an incident on the US/Canada border that involved a Canadian SF writer and US Border Patrol personnel. Indeed, it is not so much in direct response to that incident as the persons who expressed their opinions on what happened. No one but the principles truly know what happened on that day, and I am certain that the truth will out when all is said and done.

My post is more in regards to the general contacts with law enforcement in the course of their day to day duties:

The worst people in the world for law enforcement to contact are people who have an awareness of their rights but an inaccurate assessment of _when_ to excercise those rights.

The street or border are not the place to stand on one's rights unless it _starts_ as an emergency matter or the person wishes to make new case law or raise public awareness by causing a confrontation.

Do not argue with the citing/arresting officer. Set your brain on record and be sure to remember what is said. Ask if you can turn on a recording device. Remember the reply. Do not tell the officer what you think is going on. Just recall, with as little emotion as possible, what is happening. Do not speculate as to why things are occurring. Certainly do not do so aloud.

All you are doing is moving the incident from the professional to the personal by stating that you think you are being pulled over based on your race, bumper sticker, car color, sexual orientation or immigration status.

If one does start a ruckus, be aware of the fact that your actions should dictate the actions of the law enforcement personnel you face: If you are six foot tall and have an angry expression on your face, repeatedly refuse to comply with orders such as ‘Get back in your car!” and outweigh/outsize the officer you have decided to argue with, prepare for a justified use of force to gain your compliance.

It will be painful, but you have moved the incident into that arena through the potential for violence you represent. Officers are not required to get hit or even be swung at before gaining compliance with a reasonable level of force. In the U.S. the standards for what is a reasonable level of force is not set by anyone but what another officer of similar training and experience would do in a similar circumstance. In other words, if you haven’t been there and done that, you are not setting the bar for excessive or reasonable force. Your opinions don’t count.

This is a case where the little man complex can get civilians into trouble. If the officer is smaller, lighter or generally not physically imposing and knows it, they can go to the force continuum much earlier than someone who outsizes/outweighs you. This is because they can be justified in using force when someone of greater stature would not be threatened by the relative size of the person contacted.

The courts are fairly well set up to deal with these situations in an environment where no one needs to raise their voice, let alone give/take a beating. Go to court and kick ass in that setting, it is generally much easier on you.

All of these guidelines that I have set forth are in relation to an officer upon first contact. If the officer shows a true inability to reason, then things are beyond the scope of this post. One must take comfort in the knowledge that the truly abusive of power rarely get away with it for long, and Karma is a bitch.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Oral Board

Well, the second oral board examination of my career is in the bag.

I started the day with many concerns, not least of which was the ICK I have been fighting for the last week and how it might prevent me from thinking and responding clearly to the board's questions. I felt like anyone who is rung from a cold medication-induced slumber by the alarm. Clogged nostrils took some time to clear, my brain even longer. I flogged ny brain to figure out where I was, let alone what I was doing there. When I recalled I was sleeping apart in a belated attempt to avoid infecting everyone, I cursed my luck and lamented the fact that I was not healthy for the exam.

I dragged myself through my morning routine, eventually getting on the road.

Being one who has a desperate desire to never appear late to any function, I showed up two hours early. The group that was to take the exam before me went up to perform for their individual interrogators.

A few minutes later a woman who works for the county Department of Human Resources came down and asked me if I was there to take the exam. I nodded, to which she asked if I wanted to take it early.

"Sure," I replied.

I won't bore you all with the rigamarole we had to go through, but suffice to say we are read the riot act and some additional information, and then have to sign away our rights with regard to talking about he test during the testing phases ("First rule of Fight Club" and all that.) Then we get a packet that includes a fictitious officer's background and a report completed by the officer in question. There are glaring deficiencies in the report and additional ones in the officer's performance and background. We are then given a half hour to write out and plan a strategy to answer the eight questions of the board. We don't know the questions, though my study partner and I had a pretty good idea what they would be.

Well now, those of you who have slavishly read this blog will know that I had some friends over to help me with a mock board. The board was very useful in making sure we shored up our weak points and were aware of what we needed to work on. In keeping with the theory that one must train how one works, the mock board had given us sample fictitous officer's backgrounds and a report.

Long story short, my fictitious officer for the board and the one from my mock board were the exact same fucking guy! I had to bite my lip to keep from swearing at my good fortune when I read the officer's background! It was a tremendous boost to my confidence going in, knowing that I had already answered and been critiqued by some pretty impressive minds on what I should do with regard to this officer's performance.

So, I cranked out my notes and spent the half hour making sure I got everything necessary ready.

Then I go before the board, which ends up being an older white southern gentleman and an african american fellow perhaps a few years older than I.

I actually got both to smile and nod at the appropriate points in my disertation and responses to their questions. When not smiling and nodding at me, they spent the entire twenty-two minutes I hoarsely communicated my strategy for improving officer Kirkland's performance either scribbling rapidly or checking off boxes.

Long story short: I did the very best I possibly could. Now it's just a matter of whether they were as easy to please for the others they assessed (The dreaded curve) or I was sufficiently good on the day to get a stand-out score.

Again, thanks to my friends, I actually gave a hugely better impression than I would have otherwise.

I am insanely lucky in my friends.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Ick

The ick hath struck. Last week I got the H1N1 vaccination. Now I'm running a fever and can feel the hole at the top of my throat where the cells are immolating in order to fight off infection. I am pretty sure I don't have the flu, just a nasty cold exacerbated by last week's hell-hath-frozen-over ride (Just 28 degrees before windchill and bay fog).

I must get better, and fast. Of course it had to be my throat, which I need in order to speak to the oral board this Friday.

Needless to say, I am not working tomorrow. Once done with this entry, I am taking several tylonol PMs and passing out. I will take my daughter to school tomorrow and repeat the process.

Sleep is for the weak. And I am weak, the now.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Amazing Amigos Part II

Well, just finished my mock oral board for the exam I have coming on Friday. Stressful as all get out and as useful as I could possibly hope for. I appeared relaxed, and to one of them, a bit cocky. I sure didn't feel that way.

All my previously mentioned amigos showed up as well as my friend and mentor in my own department. He added considerably to the effectiveness of the whole excercise. The lone civilian on the panel had some hugely important feedback, as I knew he would!

Train the way you fight is a military maxim, I believe. If our training was any indication, we are going to do pretty damn well on the actual day of our examination.

If men were judged solely by the quality of their friends, then I would certainly be held in higher regard than my actual merit warrants.

I thank them. I am happy to have had the opportunity to meet and join them under the various trees of our existence.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Few of My Amazing Amigos

Well, I am on the verge of my first paid writing gig. A friend hooked me up with both an introduction and a personal vouchsafe for my ability, rather unexpectedly.

I could not be more excited, and am chomping at the bit to engage in the project. This friend offered to get me into touch with the gentleman who needs a writer out of the blue, and without my prompting him. We will call this guy, a police officer with another agency, Amazing Amigo #3.

I am also in the final preparation phase for the Sergeant's oral exam. In order to best prepare, I decided to get some amigos together to form a panel and coduct as realistic an oral board as we could create.

I wrote a gentleman I know from Black Diamond Games and several conversations we had there. I asked him to be a panelist knowing he's a Lieutenant in another department. Most of the boards we will be reviewed by will be formed of Lieutenants from outside departments. He graciously agreed. Come to find out, he teaches and was directly involved in many similar processes for his own department. Amazing Amigo #2.

Amazing Amigo #3 also arranged, at cost to his previously-alloted family time, to participate on the mock board.

Black Diamond Games has been a nexus for me in my hobby and social life, and the owner-operator, Gary, has been a touchstone since he opened his store 5 or so years ago? Amazing Amigo #4

Amazing Amigo #1 is the guy who has been playing with me for years, who put me in touch with Amazing Amigo #3, and who has been very supportive of me and is generally an amazing guy. He also set aside other obligations to help me out.

Thanks, amigos!