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.