Friday, October 1

Other stuff

I thought (in addition to the political whingeing below) some of you might be interested in the progress of CAINE BLACK KNIFE.

Writing this book has been an interesting process; it's the first time since I starting actually getting paid for this shit that I've been working without a net -- that is, lacking a detailed outline that traces the chain of causation from initiating incident through climax (the technical term is Bond-movie Big Blowoff).

So I'm 60,000 words in, and I discover that there are things (and, in fact, people) Caine actually knew at the beginning of the novel that would have affected how he handles the situation.

So I have spent the last month or so re-conceptualizing the whole fucking thing. Basically, I'm back-creating an outline that will incorporate as much as possible of the work I've already done, changing only where necessary.

The good news is, it's gonna be really, really good. My word on it. The bad news is, now I'm running behind.

As usual.



Frankly, I am fucking sick of American politics.

I make the comments below in response to Hawkie's interest in my reaction to the forged documents in the 60 MINUTES piece on Our President's failure to fulfill his National Guard obligations.

The only thing I think worth commenting on is the extraordinary effectiveness of the Republican spin-machine, and how a few RNC operatives posing as neutral bloggers could make that whole story become about the documents themselves, rather than about the truth.

The truth is that every allegation about Mr. Bush's Guard service in that story is factual. It all happened, exactly the way 60 MINUTES said it happened. In fact, no one in the Bush Administration or campaign has even so much as disagreed with the facts of the situation, let alone issued anything resembling an official denial. They prefer to allow their backdoor spin machine to muddy the waters.

I'm not going to draw any connections between Mr. Bush's virtual desertion under fire and his brainless "bring it on" swagger today. Whatever connection there may be is subject to interpretation, and anyone who reads this is welcome to their own.

Everyone has a right to be wrong.

Only in today's America is it wrong to be right.

Friday, September 17


Haven't been here for a while. There's been nothing worth sharing.

Until this:

Read it.

Gods bless Bill Moyers.

Sunday, September 5

Zell wiggin'

Posted by another Concerned Reader (Judas Priest do I love the Internet or what?):

<< Wanna see something funny?

Something "Zell Miller" funny?

Something that Rip Taylor would take one look at, and shriek, "That's FUNNY!!"?

From the Congressional archival website


Introduction of Senator John Kerry

Democratic Party of Georgia's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner

Zell Miller

-- March 1, 2001

"It is good to be back in Georgia and to be with you. I have been coming to these dinners since the 1950s, and have missed very few.

"I'm proud to be Georgia's junior senator and I'm honored to serve with Max Cleland, who is as loved and respected as anyone in that body. One of our very highest priorities must be to make sure this man is re-elected in 2002 so he can continue to serve this state and nation.

"I continue to be impressed with all that Governor Barnes and Lieutenant Governor Taylor and the Speaker and the General Assembly are getting done over at the Gold Dome. Georgia is fortunate to have this kind of leadership.

"My job tonight is an easy one: to present to you one of this nation's authentic heroes, one of this party's best-known and greatest leaders -- and a good friend.

"He was once a lieutenant governor -- but he didn't stay in that office 16 years, like someone else I know. It just took two years before the people of Massachusetts moved him into the United States Senate in 1984.

"In his 16 years in the Senate, John Kerry has fought against government waste and worked hard to bring some accountability to Washington.

"Early in his Senate career in 1986, John signed on to the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Deficit Reduction Bill, and he fought for balanced budgets before it was considered politically correct for Democrats to do so.

"John has worked to strengthen our military, reform public education, boost the economy and protect the environment. Business Week magazine named him one of the top pro-technology legislators and made him a member of its 'Digital Dozen.'

"John was re-elected in 1990 and again in 1996 -- when he defeated popular Republican Governor William Weld in the most closely watched Senate race in the country.

"John is a graduate of Yale University and was a gunboat officer in the Navy. He received a Silver Star, Bronze Star and three awards of the Purple Heart for combat duty in Vietnam. He later co-founded the Vietnam Veterans of America.

"He is married to Teresa Heinz and they have two daughters.

"As many of you know, I have great affection -- some might say an obsession -- for my two Labrador retrievers, Gus and Woodrow. It turns out John is a fellow dog lover, too, and he better be. His German Shepherd, Kim, is about to have puppies. And I just want him to know...Gus and Woodrow had nothing to do with that.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Senator John Kerry."


LOVED the part about Max Cleland...
# posted by Leto II : 1:07:17 AM>>

Leto, I may someday have to bear your children . . .

Saturday, September 4


A point from another Concerned Reader (hey, Hawkie, welcome back) that bears public comment.

People need to quit talking about how stupid Bush is.

Because it's a pose. It's a tool he uses to work the country. Like that fake-ass good ol' boy Texas accent. Think he talked that way when he was at Yale?

He PRETENDS to be stupid.

Calling him stupid gives him entirely too much credit. It's an excuse we offer him, because he comes across on TV as a regular guy. We want to believe he just doesn't understand how much damage he is doing to our country. We want to believe his administration does rotten shit because he's too stupid to stop Cheney and Rumsfeld.

Guess again.

Friday, September 3


Three thoughts on the Nuremburg Ra -- uh, the Republican National Convention:

1.) Anyone who tells you "things are simple" is trying to sell you something.

2.) When people start talking about good and evil, keep one hand on your wallet.

3.) Zell Miller is batshit insane.

That's all.

Monday, August 30


On TV last night, I saw something I never expected to see. Never ever.

Are you ready for this?

I saw Dick Cheney TELL THE TRUTH.

Speaking at a party-faithful gathering (which, I guess, is inevitable, because neither Bush nor Cheney ever appears in front of an audience that hasn't been thoroughly scrubbed of liberals, intellectuals, agnostics and other dangerous elements) about the RNC in New York City, Dick Cheney said,

". . . we will come together in New York City for a single purpose: To make sure that George W. Bush is President for the next four years."

He didn't say: "We will present a vision for our nation's future."

He didn't say, "We will prove to the nation that Operation Iraqi Freedom wasn't just a vanity war that has diverted the bulk of our military resources away from the War on Terror."

He didn't say, "We will show the country that George Bush has made us safer, and that his policies have rescued our economy."

Shit, I could make a whole list of the damn lies he's been spouting for three years that yesterday he managed to leave off.

This time, he told the plain unvarnished truth:

"The Republican Party doesn't give a shit about anything except power. Fuck the country, fuck the world, fuck the poor, fuck the old people and the boomers, slaughter civilians by the tens of thousands, let Osama run wild, let the Taliban take over half of Afghanistan, give the militants Fallujah as a permanent base of operations. Fuck everybody. We just want to stay in power."

That's the first time since Bush I I've ever heard Cheney tell the truth.

Sunday, August 29


Another question from a Concerned Reader:

-- Do sympathize with Vader more now, as GL said we might, or has the work (not yours, but the films, and cartoons, and comics also also) cemented your dislike for Anakin Skywalker? Because, either way, there are people that love and hate both him and his alter ego, or vice versa. I always liked Vader, he was always my favorite character. I believe he has the most depth of any SW character. --

I'm glad you asked this, because it's not only a salient question, it's something I can actually comment on.

I've NEVER disliked Anakin. Never. And I certainly don't now. Your opinion that Anakin/Vader has the most depth of any SW character is very likely shared by Mr. Lucas, since he saw fit to create the Prequel trilogy in order to recast the entire SW saga as the story of the fall and redemption of Anakin Skywalker.

On the other hand, I don't necessarily share the opinion myself, and I'll tell you why.

One of the cool things about Star Wars is that all the characters are so strong that they can carry however much depth the writers are willing (or able) to give them; I mean, jeez, look what was done with Wedge, who had, what? eight or ten lines in the whole OT?

So, yes, I see deeply into Anakin (in my opinion, anyway), but I see just as deeply into Obi-Wan, and Yoda, and Padme and Mace and even Palpatine and Dooku. It's just a question of how far a writer is willing to go -- how much brain sweat we're willing to invest -- because these characters are alive in a way that is not wholly explicable in rational terms. They are real.

We've made them real.

And I'm not talking only (or even mostly) about Mr Lucas and the Usual Suspects of writers, editors, artists and designers. I'm talking about the shared imagination of the billion-something people who carry these people around in their heads and in their hearts.

That's where the GFFA is. That's where all these people live.

And I think that is just so incredibly goddamn cool that words can't really express it.

(Aside to C-Wedge: Thanks for the heads-up; I'll have to check out his comments. So far, all I've gotten from Skywalker is a Thundering Silence while the ms works its way up the chain of command . . .)

Friday, August 27

Yoda gas

This from a concerned reader:

<< Mr. Stover, ugh I feel so stupid doing this, but there's no other official venue that will answer me.

People are all up in an uproar over this rumor concerning Yoda and something he does in Episode III: he farts while riding on chewie's back.

Seriously, do we have to deal with toilet humor again in this upcoming prequel movie???? Please say no.

And sorry for posting it as a comment to your update -- I haven't been able to find a contact email for you (which is probably a good thing for you!) And I've exhausted all other venues.>>

Once more, with feeling . . .

I can neither confirm nor deny the presence or absence of any character, plot point, device or other feature, actual or imaginary, in any Lucas-created or -licensed property that has not yet been released, previewed, and/or published.


Which includes the presence or absence of fart jokes.

Which is a fancy way of saying No Fucking Comment.

Not now, not ever.



Oh, okay, I'm not sorry. You should know better than to ask. You really should.

Tuesday, August 24

more dog shit

John Wayne's dog in BIG JAKE was named Dog.

And yeah, Malamutes are protective, and can be very dog-aggressive; fortunately for us (and for Aias) we knew that going in, and so Aias has been spending his evenings at various dog-parks since he was twelve weeks old. He's now three and a half, and is the cuddliest, most friendly teddy-bear of a 135-pound timber-wolf-loooking beast you can imagine.

Except for the time I was attacked by an enormous (85-pound) pit bull whose name was, curiously enough, Caine. Aias landed on him like a fucking meteor strike, and when the pit bull bit him instead of submitting, Aias decided he had to die. I had to tackle him and pry his jaws off the pit bull's throat, at which point the pit bull decided he'd had enough and ran like hell.

Aias favors the wolf-blood side, though he's 100% Malamute. Mals seem to come in two flavors: ones that favor the mastiff side (big square heads and dewlaps) and ones who, through a trick of atavism, look exactly like wolves. The only visible differences between Aias and a timber wolf is that Aias is a little shorter and more powerfully built, and instead of a light tail with a dark tip, Aias has a dark tail with a white tip.

And he's very independent-minded; he's not obedient, just cooperative. He's like a bright eight-year-old; he's got plenty of opinions and he expects me to listen to them -- but then he abides by what I decide. He reminds me a lot of Graegduz, from the Barra & Co. books. He's not tame, just respectful.

You get the impression I love my dog?

Monday, August 23

My dog

Gotta write this quickly, beffore my dog notices I'm in my office.

Apparently my suffering these past few months, as I struggled to produce REVENGE OF THE SITH as fast as possible, had become so papable that my dog decided my office is bad for me. Now, whenever he realizes I'm in my chair in front of this computer, he barges in and leans on me and drools on my keyboard and does whatever is necessary to prevent me from working. If I'm anywhere else in the house, doing anything else, he'll just go lay down and go back to sleep.

Fortunately, I have a laptop, so I can go work in other rooms if necessary (so far, as near as I can tell, the dog hasn't made the connection with the computer itself, only with the envrionment).

That's all. I just think it's funny. And I love having a dog who has decided he must protect me from myself.

Thursday, August 19


On the Great Bring-SFF-into-the-Mainstream (or, at least, Profitability) struggle --

That's it. The war is over.

We lose.

It's a simple, blindingly obvious fact of human nature, that came out while I was at the dog park tonight, chatting with a new friend who's even older than me, an even harder-core RPG geek, and big-time SW fanboy. I was telling him that I ended up in SF because my big brother had a huge collection of sf paperbacks, plus subscriptions to WORLDS OF IF, GALAXY, and ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION. I mentioned that my mother had a huge library of detective and mystery fiction (roughly five hundred back issues of ELLERY QUEEN'S MYSTERY MAGAZINE), and a whole bunch of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe stuff, and how I almost ended up a detective/crime writer, because I love that shit too. It's just that I have too much imagination to settle for our everyday consensual reality.

And that's when it hit me: why we'll ALWAYS be the ghetto. Because there just ain't enough imagination to go around.

The fact is, you have to be SMART to read SFF. It's that simple.

It even explains why SFF films can earn more money than Stephen King's, John Grisham's and Tom Clancy's fondest wet dreams COMBINED, and SFF will still be a tiny little corner of the bookstore, mostly ignored.

Because movies don't require imagination. They lay it right out in front of you. They pry open your mouth and force-feed you everything that a novel can only spark in your imagination.

If you have an imagination.

Which most people, frankly, don't.

That's why you see SFF on the NYTIMES Bestsellers list once in a blue moon (okay, maybe twice, if it's a Star Wars tie-in and Harry Potter), but on any given day half to two thirds of the titles on the fiction list will be detective-suspense thrillers -- usually shitty ones -- with the balance made up of Oprah Book Club-style Learning-to-get-right-with-your-personal-relationships crap.

Like I said, we're permanently fucked.


Game over, dude.

The worst of it is, I knew this already. So do you. All of you.

We just wish it could be different.

But it won't.


Wednesday, August 18


I didn't mean to sound like I was complaining. I'm not.

Writing is HOW I rest. Sort of. As long as it doesn't need to be done on a whipcrack deadline.

Getting paid for what I do is a privilege, because I'd still be doing it even if I weren't getting paid.

I'd just be even crankier.

btw, the ms of REVENGE I turned in is about 115,000 words, which will make it roughly the same size book as SHATTERPOINT (within 30 pages or so), depending on design and typeface.

Tuesday, August 17


Earlier this afternoon, I delivered the manuscript of REVENGE OF THE SITH.

Let me state here and now, with my customary modesty, that it is a work of goddamn genius.

Or something.

At least it's done.

Until the kind folks at LFL and Del Rey editorial deliver unto me their list of revisions.

I was planning to take at least a week off. Laze around, watch TV, start reading non-SW books again, hang with my wife, play with my dog, that kind of thing . . .

But I've got this Caine-shaped itch that I just can't scratch.

Monday, August 9

I just had to share

Okay, here goes (with thanks to Kathy Kozan, who forwarded this one to my wife):

How many members of the Bush administration are
required to replace the proverbial light bulb?

The Answer is SEVEN:

(1) one to deny that a light bulb needs to be

(2) one to attack and question the patriotism of
anyone who has questions about the light bulb;

(3) one to blame the previous administration for the
need for a new light bulb;

(4) one to arrange the invasion of a country rumored
to have a secret stockpile of light bulbs;

(5) one to get together with Vice President Cheney and
figure out how to pay Halliburton Industries one
million dollars for a light bulb;

(6) one to arrange a photo-op session showing Bush
changing the light bulb while dressed in a flight
suit and wrapped in an American flag;

(7) and finally one to explain to Bush the difference
between screwing a light bulb and screwing the

So, okay, it's not really funny. It's too true to be funny.

In answer to LKM, I don't really know any more about Barak Obama than anybody else; I, like most of the country, was most impressed with his keynote address at the convention. I also, again like most of the country, promptly forgot about it in the wake of a string of War On Terror announcements.

Wonder how many of those we're gonna have during the week following the Republican Convention?

Y'know, I don't WANT to be political. I don't have a position. I don't have a plan. All I have is a profound dislike for obfuscation and the politics of fear.

I hope one day to write my own work of political philosophy; I'll call it --


"I pledge eternal enmity toward every form of tyranny over the mind of man."


"Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than any lies can be."

I guess my vote is pretty much always gonna lean toward whatever party comes closest to realizing that Questions are more useful than Answers.

Instead of a War on Terror, we should have a War on Ideology, and just shoot the asses off every kind of fundamentalist, religious or political. But that ends up being an ideology of its own, so I guess -- to be truly intellectually honest -- I'd have to start by shooting myself.

So it goes.

Friday, August 6

Full disclosure

Just a note because, looking back over the history of this blog, I can see how someone might get the impression that I am a die-hard liberal Democrat.

I'm not.

I am a registered Democrat, but only because I lived for 20 years in Chicago, where (if you're not a Democrat) your vote doesn't really count. Municipal and Congressional elections in Chicago were decided by the Democratic primary; nobody cared who the Republicans ran, because they didn't have a chance.

I am not involved in politics. My business -- and my concern -- is with truth. Real truth, not the kind of half-assed hedging one gets from a Bushite State of the Union reference to uranium.

I believe that the Right and the Left, in this country, have both been blinded by ideology; I believe that they both indulge in a type of magical thinking, a superstitious belief that Things Are Simple, and that Answers Are Easy.

Caine's Law: Everything is more complicated than you think it is.

1st corollary: Anyone who tells you things are simple is trying to sell you something.

For me, that's a truth that cuts across the whole political spectrum. I lean Democratic these days because I truly believe that Kerry and Edwards are more interested in asking the right questions than pretending they have all the answers. I think there's an intellectual honesty that says: This is a problem. I think I might have an answer. Let's try it and see if it works. If it doesn't, we can try something else.

That's where the Republicans are losing my vote. They never seem to be willing to try something else. They're more interested in justifying their mistakes than in actually fixing the problems.

That would be an easy way for them to win my support: Admit they were wrong, and tell me how they're going to fix it.

"Stay the Course" is hypocritical and disastrous, whether we're talking tax cuts, energy policy, or the war in Iraq.

That's truth. As close to it as I can come, anyway.


One of my friendly readers posted a question on yesterday's post; I think it's important enough that I'm reproducing my answer here.

He asked why the Bushies have been lying to us about Iraq, and what they're really after.

My response:

There are a number of possible explanations; the most generous is that they sincerely believed we would be welcomed with open arms by the Iraqi people, and we would be able to safely and easily create a stable democracy in the Muslim Middle East.

I hope that's the truth, because it means they're just stupid, as opposed to actively rotten.

There are other likely explanations; one is a personal vendetta against Saddam Hussein by Mr. Bush, seeing as how Hussein did try to have his father, George H. W. Bush, assassinated.

It's also possible that Michael Moore was right. What d'you think the odds might be that the real reason Dick Cheney has been fighting the release of records of the energy task force meetings is that they contain (hypothetical, one hopes) discussions on how to divvy up the oil fields in Iraq?

For an overview of what the American Left Wing seems to suspect, check this out:

I do not fully endorse the arguments in this essay -- but I do think they raise the important questions, and I do think the Bush Administration owes the American people, and the world, some straight talk. We just don't seem to be getting it.

Thursday, August 5


Our only weapon is the truth.

Tuesday, August 3

For the fanbeings

This is your Star Wars update.

Yesterday, reading through meal breaks and such, I finished Sean Stewart's DARK RENDEZVOUS.

It's good. Really really good.

Anybody who likes my SW stuff is gonna love this. Most of the people who DON'T like my SW stuff are gonna love it, too.

I should probably have this guy killed.

Ah, nah. With that last name he's probably a Scotsman. Shooting him will just make him angry. He also seems to know his way around unarmed combat . . .

Here's the thing: Shelly Shapiro, who (as most of you know) is the Del Rey Star Wars Guru, tells me that SW authors get a cross-over bump to their own books' sales that's between 1% and 2%. Yeah, that's right: about the same as direct mail.

This is what I think: we can do better, and I'm gonna do my part. I, for one, am about to order at least three Sean Stewart novels.

That's all. I have to go kill some Jedi now.

Monday, August 2

This Just In

For anyone who was interested in our discussion on government:

I apologize for the lack of a direct link (there seems to be a Gecko issue with, but what the hell). The essay's worth checking out, and worth forwarding to every cretin who thinks the best government is no government.

Thursday, July 29


I am so close to the end that I'm starting to choke.

I've blown the Aug 1 delivery date, but I should turn it in within two weeks, if my body holds out. My vision blurs, my head pounds, my hands shake --

My perception is clouded by the darkness in the Force.

You want dark? You're gonna get it.

Sunday, July 25

The Ep III Moment

I wrote the Moment today.

I'm reporting this because I'm pretty goddamn proud of myself; I've been working on this Moment since last Thursday. It started out to be roughly twelve pages (around 3,600 words) spread over three scenes, but it just wasn't working.

It is now a single scene of under 200 words, and I am very, very happy with it.

That's all.

Sometimes the real trick to this writing shit lies in what you DON'T say . . .

Thursday, July 22

Now, everybody dies. Everybody. Ep IV is all clones. Really. Oh, okay, I'm a goddamn liar. Whatever.

I'm over the hump on Ep III.

Yesterday, I officially passed the point where it was still possible that this book would suck.

Yes, there was a chance it would suck (up till yesterday, anyway); there's always a chance.

There was a sequence that I just didn't know how I was going to handle -- so visual and kinetic that I wasn't sure I could pull it off on the page; if I could have cut it out, I would have (though of course that was never a real option).

But guess what? I wrapped that sequence yesterday, and it came out better than I had dreamed.

This book no longer contains the possiblity of suckitude.

There's a lesson for all you little writers out there: don't quit on something just because you think you can't pull it off. You don't KNOW what you can pull off.

No masturbation jokes, either.

Thursday, July 15

Okay, okay, here's your Ep III fix

Somebody asked, a few days ago, how I'm liking working on Ep III, and what I thought of the first two PT movies, and how I think the Ep III film will be. Since I know that a great deal of traffic around here is generated by people looking for Ep III tidbits, I'll undertake to answer those questions.


Writing this adaptation is the hardest work I've ever done. It's also extremely interesting: an entirely new challenge for me as a writer.

One of my talents (that is, one of the things I seem to just be good at, as opposed to the skills I've had to struggle to develop) has always been my control of incident. If what's happening in the book isn't working, I'm really goddamn good at coming up with something else that might (or should) happen that will lead the story in the direction it needs to go.

In Ep III, of course, I can't do any of that. Everything that happens in the script has to happen in the novel. I don't have the liberty to alter the incidents, or the chain of causality that carries the story. Instead, what I have to do is look at each individual scene as a simple historical fact -- it's almost like writing a history, in fact, instead of a novel. What I have to do is take What Really Happened (GL's script) and retell that exact story in a way that makes for an entertaining (and, one hopes, affecting) novel.

It ain't easy. A script is a script, and a novel is a novel; they are very different animals, and for good reason. So if a scene isn't working for me, I have to find a way -- a change in point of view, or an altered tone, or a shift in esthetic distance -- that MAKES it work. Because I am entirely incapable of writing anything I'm not excited about. My brain just won't do it.

So, to answer the unspoken question: yeah, I think the book is going to be really, really good. I am pulling out all the stops on this one, because I think it'll be a great film, and it's the culmination of the most important pop-cultural phenomenon of the past hundred years. It's the last of the movies, and I want my novel version of it to not only do justice to the film itself, but to the whole universe that GL (and so many collaborators) has given us.


I didn't like the first two Pequel movies when I first saw them. I suppose, like many other fans, I was really hoping for something that would be the Original Trilogy Bigger, Faster, and Louder.

But --

After reading the script for Ep III, I went back and watched I and II again, and they were MUCH more enjoyable to me when I looked at them as parts of an organic whole. There is a real emotional arc to the whole story, and it works for me. I think it's gonna work for nearly all of you, too.

This is what I truly believe: when Ep III comes out, there will be a radical re-evaluation of the first two films, not unlike what I went through.

I really think it's gonna be that good.


I recently received the latest disk of screen shots and concept art.

I can't speak to the pacing, or the acting, or the editing, since I haven't seen the actual footage.

What I can tell you is that it's going to be a goddamn masterpiece of visual imagination.

There. That's your Ep III fix for the week. Now I have to go get back to work on it.

Thursday, July 8

Promises, promises . . .

I will post something on Ep III soon. Really. I promise. Meanwhile, however, I feel compelled to reply to a rant from one of the kind folks who occasionally post comments around here.

This is the rant:

--I just object to being robbed and threatened by people who claim to represent me, and who claim to be doing it for my own good. Government is a racket, and government officials are gangsters with badges. The fact that most of the people around me get offended when I point that out I'm losing at least a quarter of my check a week for roads that don't work, a Ponzi scheme retirement plan that'll be bankrupt before I'm old enought to qualify for it, laws that don't make sense, armies that invade every country on the globe and piss off their inhabitants at me, and a government that no longer even pretends to obey its own laws just aggravates me that much more.
# posted by Joe Crow : 2:42:04 AM --

While Joe is an intelligent and well-spoken fellow, I must intercede here to make a claim that this paragraph represents a particularly pernicious species of bullshit. JC is the last guy I'd expect to spout Reaganista agitprop, and I think this needs a response.

First, taxes are not robbery. Taxation is the foundation of civil society; you can't have the second without the first. Somebody has to pay for the fire department's trucks; somebody has to pay for the cops, and the roads, and the courts of law that are the thin black line between us and the law of vendetta. If the roads where Joe lives don't work, maybe Joe should try petitioning his local government to hire better contractors. The roads where I live work just damn fine. Government is a racket? If so, it is a racket full of people who devote their lives to making sure that we can all live together in something resembling peace; I believe that Joe should focus less on what government "makes" him do, and more on the responsiblities incumbent upon a citizen of a civilized nation. One of those responsiblities is, for example, paying taxes. The threat of sanctions -- what Joe seems to see as extortion -- upon those who refuse to pay such taxes, is nothing more than civil society's attempt (flawed though it may be) at fairness: to prevent anti-social slackers from getting a free ride on the backs of responsible citizens. Joe is not LOSING anything; if he were to stop and calculate the value of the public services financed by that quarter of his paycheck, he will discover (unless he is very, very rich indeed, and paying considerably more in taxes than I make in a year) that he is getting back vastly more than his money's worth.

Second, Social Security is in no danger of going broke, if we can only stop our fucking Congress from sticking its fingers into the pot. This whole "Ponzi scheme" line of horseshit was invented by the Reaganistas as an excuse to privatize Social Security to prop up the NYSE. As long as the Social Security funds are left where they are, and not used as a bottomless purse to fund, oh, say, the occupation of Iraq, there is no danger it will collapse. Even with our current deficits, Social Security is fully funded until 2040. I'd say 35 years is enough time to fix any further problems that might arise. And Social Security is NOT a retirement scheme. Retirement funds are the individual responsibility of all Americans. Social Security is a safety net, intended to ensure that we don't have people in the United States (by reason of age or physical disablity) starving to death. If Joe thinks we'd be better off, as a nation, letting those folks starve, well, he's entitled to that opinion. I, however, disagree.

The hyperbole about invading every country on the globe requires no reply; the final feature of my response to this has to do with the "government that no longer pretends to obey its own laws" business. I'll avoid the rhetorical cheap shot of pointing out that he's already decided those laws don't make sense, and thus hardly has any cause to complain if they are not obeyed (well, okay, I won't avoid it altogether); mostly, I want to emphasize the logical fallacy in referring to "the government" as a whole, as if it were some unified entity, answering to a single will. The simple fact is that in America, at least, one should properly refer to "the governments," in the plural. As we have seen -- with the Supreme Court's recent smackdown of the Bushite enemy-combatants-are-whoever-we-say-they-are horseshit, not to mention the 9/11 commission's smacking around of Rumsfeld and Condoleeza Rice, and the upcoming Senate Intelligence Committee report -- our governments often work at cross-purposes, and the intersection of their often-messy vectors of interest sometimes produces something resembling justice. To pretend that "it's all one thing" is merely agitprop, like I said before, largely invented by the Reaganistas: a bogey on whom to blame all of society's ills.

Not to say all this works perfectly -- i.e. that Senate Intelligence Committee report I mentioned before will focus solely on the failures of the CIA in analyzing pre-war intel on Iraq; the Dems and the GOPs have agreed to leave fallow their findings on all the damn lies of the Bush Administration until after the election.

Which is a giant motherfucking disservice to democracy.

However, we all have a recourse on this: get the hell out and vote. Because once we throw those shitsacks out of office, it won't MATTER how much they lied -- except, perhaps, someday (okay, I'm fantasizing now -- but that's what I do for a living. Sue me.) at their criminal trials . . .

That's MY rant for the day.

Sunday, July 4


Read it. Now.

Later on, I'll have something to say about Star Wars, too. Right now, I have to go write some. Then I'll be back to talk about it.

Wednesday, June 30

Ep III news

Hey there, SW fanfolk.

The other day, while I was waiting for my meds to kick in, I cruised by the forums at TF.N (The Force.Net, for those poor souls still not In the Know), and I discovered that some fans are wrestling with the question of whether to read my novelization of Ep III before seeing the film, or to wait until you've seen the film to read the book.

I am here to reassure you all that I am doing my best to ensure that it won't make any difference. The book won't have spoilers for the best stuff in the movie, and the movie won't have spoilers for the best stuff in the book.

I mean, we are talking about a modern cinematic Greek tragedy, here. Of course, I can't comment on the plot, but you already know (in broad outline) roughly how the story has to come out in order to lead into the OT (that's Original Trilogy, for those poor souls mentioned above).

But plot is mostly a side-issue; the greatness in the film is going to be the depth of GL's visual imagination, in showing us all the surfaces -- how everything looks from the outside, you might say. That's what film is good at: giving you the outside, and letting you imagine what's going on inside.

Books, on the other hand, are largely the opposite. At least, my book is going to be. I'm writing about what's going on inside the characters, and providing only enough description to let you imagine what everything looks like, you get it? My primary concern is not to put anything in the book which will detract from the film -- I'm trying to make sure that nothing that you'll read will make you say, "Hey, wait -- it didn't look like that in the movie," or, alternatively -- if you read the book first -- "Hey, wait, they didn't act like that in the book."

Cinematic scenes are, by necessity, shorthand. So what I'm doing is taking each and every scene in this script as the "core" of a scene for the novel -- as being the heart of what the scene is really about -- then giving the characters (and the readers) a little extra breathing space, to let the scene expand . . .

This is what I'm trying to say: I'm writing this book as a companion piece for the film, not a substitute in any way. I'm hoping to make the book supplement and complement the film, so that reading the book makes the film even more enjoyable, and seeing the film brings the novel even more to life.

So, to bring this full circle:

Don't worry about whether to read before you watch or watch before you read. Go with your gut. I'm doing my best to make sure you won't be disappointed either way.

Saturday, June 26

Tolja so

Opening salvoes from those happy folks who sold you the war in Iraq.

Friday, June 25

Michael Moore

Go see FARENHEIT 9/11.

Then make all your families see it. And your friends. And their families and THEIR friends . . .

It is the civic goddamn duty of every resident of the United States of America to see this film.

You'll hear people say that Michael Moore hates America. That's a motherfucking lie, and it will be told by the same motherfucking liars who sold you Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Michael Moore LOVES America. He just hates President Bush (and all those neocon shitbags who work his strings), which ain't the same thing at all.

A.O. Scott, in his review of the film in the New York Times, calls Michael Moore "a credit to the Republic." And that is by God true, but it doesn't go far enough. I attended the very first showing of this film, at 1:25 PM on a Friday afternoon, and the theater was standing room only -- and at the end, the place burst into spontaneous applause that turned into a standing ovation.

That gives me hope for my country.

On the night when that smug scumbag in the Oval Office smirked his way through the announcement that the United States had invaded Iraq, I turned to my wife and told her that for the first time in my life, I was ashamed to be an American. Not long after the "end of major combat operations," Turner Classic Movies showed YANKEE DOODLE DANDY, the classic Cagney biopic of George M. Cohan, and I tell you without shame that when they played "Over There," I burst into tears.

I was grieving for my country -- for the idea of America. For the America of the Declaration of Independence. The America of the Gettysburg Address and Lincoln's Second Inaugural, the Bill of Rights and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Shit, I was even grieving for the America of "The Boys of Pont du Hoc."

Michael Moore is changing all that.

Michael Moore makes me proud to be an American again.

It is the greatest goddamn privilege imaginable to live in a country where a man can make a film like this, and not be executed by the government on whom he inflicts a two-hour hatchet job. (Well, at least, he hasn't been executed SO FAR . . . though the odds of him having a "fatal accident" in the next year or so have increased by several orders of magnitude.)

Is FARENHEIT 9/11 fair and balanced?

-- Erm, not so much.

Is FARENHEIT 9/11 a journalistic documentary, intent on portraying and preserving a moment in history?

-- Ye . . . well, no.

Is FARENHEIT 9/11 a rhetorical sixteen-inch cannon loaded with grapeshot, aimed at the Bush Administration?

-- Basically, yes.

Michael Moore is a very angry man. And he is a very gifted filmmaker. And, of course, when your basic premise is that our current Administration is a pack of venal thugs who hate everything about this country except how much money their friends can squeeze out of it, the movie pretty much writes itself.

He is so serious about this that the film is very short on laughs, and very short on his trademark ambush stunts. Mostly, it's made up of images that are public record -- he lets Mr. Bush speak for himself, which is the cruellest thing you can do to that fucking brain-damaged fratboy.

And the most extended interview in the film is with a woman from his home town, Mrs. Lila Lipscomb, and he just shuts up and lets her talk, because any comment would only be an insult. This is a deeply patriotic woman, whose fundamental goodness and unbearable grief make her almost impossible to watch.

I can only hope that every one of those soulless Bushdroids who will stand up to denounce this film has to go face to face with Mrs Lipscomb, and explain to HER why they think people shouldn't see it.

That's my take. Yours might be different. Which is okay. Even if you walk out of the film still convinced that Dubya is the greatest President since Washington, that's okay.

See it, that's all.

See it.

Wednesday, June 23

Ep III report

Hokay, for those of you who give a shit about Star Wars, here's your Ep III report.

I'm running behind. My health continues to go in and out, and it's getting in the way. On the other hand, something about the savage struggle to write in the face of mind-numbing pain (or through the fog of mind-numbing pain-killers) is actually improving the book, I think.

I wish I could tell you which part I'm working on right now, because I'm really getting into some of the interesting shit that underlies the bright surface of the script; taking those hints and allegations and turning them into full-fledged inner lives for these characters is pretty goddamn interesting.

I can only hope it will be as interesting to read as it is to write.

That's all. Back to work, now.

Tuesday, June 22

self defense redux

Back again -- following an excursion to the wilds of Central Illinois, for my brother's wedding -- and I find there is still nothing more interesting to talk about than self-defense. I have one more thing to say about this, then I'll shut up about it.

This applies to Bob's comment, and to JC's, and is the reason why I can teach you enough "elite ninja skilz" in two hours to save your life in 99% of the "combat situations" you will ever find yourself in (unless you are a soldier, a law enforcement officer, or a criminal).

It's this: you have to choose in advance.

I had an e-forum conversation some time ago with one of my friends, where he was trying to illustrate the existence of "instinctive morality" by talking about the guy who leaps out into traffic to save the life of a kid he doesn't even know -- because the guy in question doesn't have time to reason out the risk/benefit ratio, he just acts.

This is my answer: sure, at the moment, there's no time to make a conscious choice -- but that guy had already chosen, in advance.

We all do. When we think about that kind of situation, we think about the person we want to be. That's one of the primary powers of the human mind: to anticipate the future, and to make that choice before the situation ever occurs -- because when in actually happens, you don't have time.

So here's where this applies to self-defense: most people who get badly hurt in street-defense situations, get hurt because they freeze. Because they haven't made a prior choice to run or fight, they do nothing. One of the keys to effective self-defense is to give yourself guidelines -- rules of thumb -- that are already in your head.


1) If someone with a knife or a gun wants my wallet, I will fucking well give it to him. THEN I'll run away.

2) If someone tries to drag me into a car, or into an alley, or through a doorway -- no matter what he may be armed with -- I will scream my ass off and fight him with everything I've got, because he's taking me into his comfort zone -- where he has MORE power, and I have LESS. If he's going to kill me, I will make him kill me on the street.

3) If someone who is not a police officer in the discharge of his duty puts a hand on me in an aggressive way, I will hit him as hard as I can.

You get the idea.

The Anonymous comment below is a perfect example. I would like to add to it an experience of my wife's.

During the Christmas shopping season a few years ago, my wife was accosted in the parking lot of a Target store. This being Christmas time, the lot was jammed, and her car was in a remote corner. It was close to midnight, and the lot lights didn't reach that far. She had already opened the door when the man came around from behind the car -- so she was cornered between her car and the car next to her, with the open door at her back. The man was carrying a folded newspaper under his arm, and he came at her quickly, saying "Excuse me, ma'am -- wait. I need to talk to you."

Fortunately, my wife had already made her choice: instead of politely inquiring what he might want to talk with her about -- instead of trying to get into the car and get it started and away before he could smash the window and drag her out -- she dropped into a combat stance and put out her left hand like a traffic cop and shouted at the top of her considerable lungs: "STOP!"

The guy stopped.

She said, "You had better BACK THE FUCK OFF. RIGHT NOW."

He took three steps backward, watching her (I suspect to make sure she wasn't chasing him) then bolted like a cat with its tail on fire.

She had already decided that if she were ever trapped in a situation where she couldn't run, she would fight to the death. That decision saved her life.

These days, she's armed -- with pepper spray, which (as I've said below) is goddamn close to the ideal weapon for self-defense.

Thursday, June 17

A reply --

Got this from one of the unusually perceptive and intelligent types who actually read this blog.

"Y'know, for a less time-intensive self defence setup. How long does it take to acquire a practical knowledge of hand-to-hand chopsocky? Couple of years, yeah? Couple of weeks at the range and Bob's your (heavily armed) uncle...
# posted by Joe Crow : 3:23:16 AM"

While this is a reasonable point, I would like to emphasize that streetfighting is not a difficult skill to acquire. I can teach you enough in two or three classes to beat the snot out of your run-of-the-mill drunk college jock.

Another point to consider is that if somebody -- even several somebodies -- start slapping you around and you open fire, you'll go to prison. They call it the "rule of appropriate defense." You would also be astonished to learn how fucking hard it is to just draw a weapon once somebody has started in on you.

Finally, intelligent perceptive types usually hesitate before inflicting lethal force. That hesitation will cost you your gun or your knife, and after that, all bets are off. You're most likely dead.

First line of defense: a quality shin-kick.

Second line of defense: a good stiff jab followed by an overhand elbow.

Third line of defense (once your kick and your elbow have given you a second or two of breathing space): a can of high-quality pepper spray.

Pepper spray is great shit. I carry some myself. It can save your life -- not only against a mugger, but against a savage dog, or even a bear or a cougar (if you live out in the country, like me). And the best thing about it is this: if you're wrong -- if the guy you just shot was really only, say, asking for directions -- you can apologize, help him clean up, and go on your way.

Shoot this guy with your Glock, and this story has a different ending.

That's today's lecture on self-defense.

As far as my supposed homophobia goes, well, that's a subject for another day. Let's just say that human beings are human beings, regardless of who (or even what) they prefer to fuck.

Wednesday, June 16


Y'know, I was planning to write an entry tonight about why we are losing the War of Terror, and why it's obvious to anyone who's been awake for the past three years knows that our President is a lying sack of shit.

But fuck it anyway. Like I said, anyone who's been awake knows all that shit already.

Mostly what I'm thinking about is how I'd like to open a gay-friendly martial arts school. Let the faggots come to learn how to kick a little ass (no innuendo of any kind intended).

Sound strange? Who cares?

I worked in the city, in a high-end restaurant. I had a number of gay friends, several of whom informed me that gay-bashing is still a pretty popular sport in the US. We don't hear about it much any more -- it's "old news" -- but it still happens. Wouldn't surprise me if the incidence is rising, given the gay marriage flap and all.

When one of my friends came to work with a black eye and stitches in his lip, I honestly (for all of three seconds) wished I had been with him that night, because there were some people in Chicago who were in serious need of broken bones.

Sometimes I think of another friend of mine -- a friend from grade school, who drifted away from me in high school when he joined the footbal team and started hanging out with the jocks. Gay-bashing was a sport with the Danville High School football squad in those days too, apparently -- he told me about going on a "baseball expedition", which involved Lousiville Sluggers and State Parks after dark. Any time they found two guys in a car, instead of a guy and a girl, they'd drag 'em out and deliver the requisite assault with a deadly weapon. Right up until the night my sort-of friend found himself staring down the barrels of a twelve-gauge side-by-side poking out the window of a car in the rest area off Illinois Route 1.

I think I may have engaged in gay bashing of my own, once or twice -- in the ring, at the Degerberg Academy. But it's hard to be sure, since the general climate there wasn't exactly gay-friendly. Which is why I'd like to open a GLB self-defense school. Because the best way to make gay-bashing (or any other kind of bashing) go away is to make it DANGEROUS.

Okay, so I'm a starry-eyed idealist. Fuckin' sue me.

Of course, the Double-Barrelled Shotgun Defense has a certain charm of its own . . .

an interjection from nudzh gabe:

I'm working on tweaking Matt's blog here, but for the life of me can't figure out how to configure BloggerComments to work in a halfway decent manner. Do any of the readers know how to make it so three fucking windows don't pop open just to make a comment? Please? Anyone?

Now buy Matt's books... or else!

--gabe chouinard (who isn't Matt Stover)

Tuesday, June 15


gabe weighs in:

<< Dude, 'nudzh' isn't exactly a *nice* thing to call someone...>>

Which is absolutely true.

However, this is the guy who told me that if I don't start posting, my blog is dead.

I believe the phrase had something to do with "shedding readers as though I had revealed my secret affair with Janet Reno."

(And Oprah Winfrey -- who, by the way, I have met. Waited upon, in fact, and I can testify that she not only has superb taste in wine [Gaja RULES!] but she is a stellar tipper and an all-round really fine, gracious human being. I've also waited on Stedman, who didn't tip at all. Go figure.)

If there is a better term than nudzh(j), I welcome the correction.

Shit, I almost said: "The correction I welcome."

I've been writing too much Yoda . . .

On the other hand, it's worth noting again that gabe is the only reason this blog even exists. So I'm an ungrateful asshole. Go figure again.

Monday, June 14

Here I am again

Okay, fuck it anyway.

You can all blame gabe chouinard for this. Gabe is my press agent, in the same sense as that guy in the Wendy's commercials is Wendy's official spokesman. He's what, in Yiddish, one would call a nudzh (sometimes spelled nudj). Look it up.

Anyway, he's good at it, like he is at a number of other things which I am not going to go on about, since I am not HIS press agent. You can find out for yourself at HIS blog, and sites, and god knows what all else.

Let me start with my usual disclaimer: Everything on this site is intended to persuade you to buy my books (or at least to impress you with how honest/insightful/sensitive/machocool I am). If that's a problem for you, then fuck off.

But it's all also true, because to deal in less than truth (MY truth, anyway) just isn't worth my time.

So here is some recent truth: I finished reading James Luceno's Star Wars bridge novel just the other day. Right now, it's called LABYRINTH OF EVIL. (Those of you looking for spoilers are insulting me. You can find voluminous commentary on my spoiler attitude over at Check it out, then come back here only if you have some passing interest in what I have to say.)

Do I sound a little hostile?

There's a good reason for this.

Jim is really, really good at this Star Wars stuff.

His book is, in fact, exemplary: it shows how an author can capture the headlong adventure of the OT without sacrificing the gathering darkness of the PT. And, as I said to my wife when I finished reading it, comparing his book to mine makes me sound like a pompous, over-writing asshole.

Which, sadly, doesn't mean I'm going to change anything. I am what I am, and Ep III is what Ep III is, and I still think I'm the right writer for the job.

It's just that every once in a while, the universe (or another writer) weighs in with an edifying humility-smack.

But I don't have to like it.

Hence the hostility.

Tuesday, June 1


There used to be a magazine -- I don't knw it it still exists -- called "Maledicta," Latin for Evil (or Dirty) Talk.

They were dedicated to preserving the most brutally unacceptable of all the jokes one should not tell among strangers. I hope they're still out there. Evil sadistic half-smothered snickering is a part of human experience that should not be extinguished.

Off the top of my head:

What's black and brown and looks good on a lawyer?
-- A pair of Dobermans.

What's the difference between a dead skunk in the road and a dead lawyer in the road?
-- Skidmarks in front of the skunk.

A doctor, a lawyer and a priest take a troop of Boy Scouts out fishing. A storm blows up, and the boat starts to sink.
The doctor says, "We have to save the boys!"
The lawyer says, "Fuck the boys."
The priest says, "You think we have time?"

A Texan sits down on a flight to London next to another white guy. He says, "We'all's gonna be together for twelve hours, we might as well get to know each other. My name's Brown. That's BROWN, spelled B-R-O-W-N, I'm a Texan and I'm white from head to goddamn toe, and I hate all spics, wops, kikes and blacks, and above all else on God's Green Earth, I hate the fuckin' Irish. Who're you?"
His seatmate says, "Pleezta meetcha. My name's Seamus Shaughnessy, and I, too, am white from head to goddamn toe -- except for me rectum, which is brown. That's brown, spelled B-R-O-W-N."

"Mizziz Fitzpatrick! Oh, the calamity! Yer Paddy's gone on the Guinness brewery tour, and he's gone and fallen into the great gi'nt vat!"
"Oh, saints have marcy! Is he drownded, then?"
"We think not, Mizziz -- he's come out three times to pee."

What do Italian cars with four flat tires sound like?
-- Dago wop wop wop wop.

Why do Mexicans grow mustaches?
-- They want to look like their mothers.

How many African-Americans does it take to blacktop a driveway?
-- Depends on how thin you slice 'em.

Ever hear about the Greek boy who left home because he didn't like the way he was being reared?
He came home because he couldn't bear to leave his brothers behind.

A guy walks into a store. He goes up to the counter and says, "Five pounds of Polish sausage, please."
The guy behind the counter says, "Are you Polish?"
The customer gets huffy. "That's damn rude. If I walked in here and asked for five pounds of German potato salad, would you ask me if I'm German?"
Counterguy: "Uh, nope."
Customer: "If I asked for five loaves of French bread, would you ask me if I'm French?"
Counterguy: "No, it's not like that --"
Customer: "Then maybe you could explain to me just where the hell you get the goddamn gall to ask me if I'm Polish just because I ordered five pounds of Polish sausage!"
Counterguy: "This is a hardware store."

What do the numbers 1492 and 1776 have in common?
-- They're adjoining rooms in the Warsaw Hilton.

What do you call a Kentucky girl who can run faster than any of her brothers?
-- A virgin.

What's the difference between a Indiana farm girl and a beached whale?
-- Forty pounds and a flannel shirt.

How is Yoko Ono like Ethiopian children?
-- They both live off dead beetles. (say it out loud, knucklehead)

And, being of Scots ancestry, one of my personal all-time favorites:

Why do Scotsmen wear kilts?
-- Because sheep can hear a zipper a mile away.

Feel free, now, to flame my politically-insensitive ass.

Sunday, May 30


In answer to Nate's question [it's on the comments page, look it up for yourself if you gotta know]: yes. That's what the contract calls for. And my last two have been, strangely enough, bang fucking spot-on their contracted length.

However, as the mutual fund gougers like to disclaim, past performance is no guarantee of future results.

And, yes, I got my pages done today. That's why I'm here. Got 'em done yesterday too, but I had nuttin' to say. Friday, too.

Thursday, May 27


Did the math today: if I can write 35 pages a week of keepable Ep III material, I'll be able to turn in the ms on time and even have a month or six weeks for revisions before things start to turn ugly.

I can do this. Which is a relief: I'm not in as much trouble as I thought.

The upshot is that if you see a post in this place, it means I've accomplished my five pages for the day. Today was six, so I'm feeling particularly virtuous.

See you space cowboy . . .

Tuesday, May 25

More jokes.


I know all those.

How about:

What's red and black and can't turn around in a telephone booth?

A nun with a javelin through her head.

What do you call a red-headed test-tube baby?

Bozo the Clone.

Scott Lynch dies on Monday and goes to Hell. Satan meets him at the gate. "Hey, Scott, great to see you. Come on in!"
Scott looks around. It's the Tropicana meets Club Med. He starts thinking, Hey, this atheism shit worked out pretty good. He says, "What's it like around here?"
Satan says, "You like gambling?"
"Oh, you're gonna love Tuesday. No limit, any games you want, and you never lose. You like good food?"
"Yeah, who doesn't?"
"Great. Wednesday is gourmet night. Any cuisine, the greatest chefs in history, and you never get full and you don't gain an ounce. You like drinking?"
Scott's thinking, How lucky can I get? He says, "Of course!"
"Oh, Thursday'll be your favorite. Cognac, single malts, small batch bourbon, microbrews, drunk as you want and you never get sick and there's no hangover. How about girls? You like girls?"
Scott's thinking, can it get any better? He says, "Sure, girls, bring'em on."
Satan says, "Friday will be great for you. It's that Muslim Paradise. Endless virgins. And you're hard for all eternity."
Scott says, "Great! Holy shit, I'm glad I went to Hell!"
Satan's right with him. "And we're glad to have you! By the way, how do you feel about being boned up the ass with a dildo made of red-hot barbwire?"
Scott (wincing): "Um, I'm not really into that."
Satan. "Oh. Well, tonight's gonna be a problem, then."
Scott swallows hard.
Satan shrugs apologetically. "And, um, Scott buddy? In Hell, it's ALWAYS Monday."

Monday, May 24

The death of the joke

So a penguin walks into a bar. He goes up to the bartender and says, "Hey, have you seen my old man?"

The bartender says, "Dunno. What's he look like?"

I've been thinking lately about the death of the Joke. Nobody tells jokes anymore. Not like they used to. I tend bar for a living -- when I'm not writing books -- and I can't help noticing that jokes are dead. Nobody under 40 tells jokes anymore, and that's the death knell of any art form.

Guess it's one of those skills that people figure they just don't need. Twenty years ago, the ability to tell a joke counted for something. It was more than just repeating a line from some crappy stand-up; it was Acting, and Storytelling, and Knowing Something that Nobody Else Knows. It was an art in and of itself, and it's dying.

That sucks.

Tell jokes. Make up your own. Keep it alive.

My girlfriend's so skinny, she's gotta tease her hair to keep her pants up. And ugly? Shit, her whole body's covered with little round red marks from where people keep touching her with ten-foot poles. Then there's my wife. Fat? She fills the bathfub, THEN she puts the water in. Yesterday morning, I'm trying to get to work, she's sitting in the driveway. I try to go around, but I run out of gas. I get in a cab, I ask the hackie to take me someplace where I can get some action. He takes me to MY house. I come home early one day, I see a naked guy running across my yard. I say, "Hey, what the hell are you doing, running across my yard naked?" He says, "Hey, you came home early." I go inside, there's a guy fucking my wife. I say, "Who said you could fuck my wife?" He says, "Everybody." My old neighborhood's so tough, we bowl overhand. When I was a kid, we used to nail worms to the sidewalks, watch the birds get hernias. Shit, my neighborhood's so tough, the signs in the library say "SHUT THE FUCK UP!"

It's all in the delivery. Which is, of course, the problem.

Practice. It's worth it.

btw, the above jokes were all stolen from Henny Youngman and Rodney Dangerfield, among the last of the Great Jokesters (along with Milton Berle, who stole material from both of them).

Sunday, May 23


Here's my piece of useless writing advice for the day:

Regardless of how much your fictional universe may resemble the one in which we live, its actual existence is solely in your mind; there is nothing there which is not you. When writing, never forget that you are God. Writing well requires that you be every bit as ruthlessly capricious as the god which imagines our own reality.

Or even more so: never give the fuckers an even break.

Oh, wait, that's supposed to be "suckers."

This has been on my mind of late, due to my theological demotion: in writing Ep III, I am reduced to a minor diety, less even than a demigod -- say, maybe, an angel (which derives, someone might theoretically be interested to know, from the Greek word for "messenger"). I am charged by God -- er, George Lucas -- Himself, through the Archangel Del Rey and the seraphim at LFL who guard The Franchise with swords of flame, with delivering the Message. What latitude I have is restricted to style: I can shout or I can whisper, work in prose, blank verse, or rhyming couplets, but the Message -- the facts of the story -- must remain unchanged.

Not that I'm complaining. It's an interesting process in itself. Currently, I'm leaning toward dactylic hexameter. It's got a sort of Vachel Lindsay rumpty-thump thing going, which makes me want to dance.

Oh, okay, not really.

Thursday, May 20

The blog is waiting . . . waiting . . .

Jeez, this sucks.

As if I weren't neurotic enough already, it seems that having a blog is creating a bizarre psychic pressure . . . I know it's out here, electronically patient, waiting for me to have something to say.

Waiting . . . waiting . . .

Must . . . resist! Must . . . write STAR WARS. Must . . . write STAR WARS . . .

Wednesday, May 19

And now for something moderately similar . . .

Okay, here I am.

First: a round of applause for gabe chouinard, who (in addition to hosting this place) has done all the heavy lifting around here. He pretty much had to, since everything I know about coding for the Web could fit into the end of my dick, and he was getting altogether tired of pestering me to start a blog. This looks like home to me, and if you find yourself comfortable here, drop a line to let gabe know. He loves fan-mail. Hey, me too.

I'll be around.