Monday, January 25, 2016

Gods of Our Fathers Promotion

      As many of you know, my latest novel Gods of Our Fathers launched this past Christmas Eve. In order to keep sales, hence visibility, up I'm offering a promotional deal: The tenth person who buys Gods of Our Fathers on Kindle gets a free $25 Amazon or Kindle gift card. That's a pretty good deal considering my royalties for 10 sales would come to the price of a $25 card.
     And, just so the other edition doesn't get left out, the tenth person who buys the paperback version direct from the Create Space estore also gets a $25 gift card. With a list price of $8.99 plus shipping, that's like getting all your money back plus almost 100% more. Again, that's a better deal for you than it is for me because as with the Kindle version, buying a $25 gift card would nullify all my royalties for 10 paperback sales.
     To qualify for the promotion that will last until the tenth copy of each edition is bought, all you need to do is email me at with proof of purchase (such as forwarding me the confirmation from either vendor of your purchase then telling me which card you'd prefer) and when you're the tenth buyer, I'll let you know and you can send me a mailing address to where I can send the gift card.
     If you've already bought the book in either format, I'm sorry. But that's not to say you can't buy another copy for a friend or loved one (You can send a Kindle as a gift) and put yourself back in the running. Or, if you haven't bought it yet, buy two and skip ahead one place in line. You never know- You could be the ninth and lucky tenth buyer.
     So if you love historical thrillers or just period literature, this exciting tale of the first days of the Boston Police Department will be perfect for you. And if you buy and read it, please write and post a review. Reviews tell potential buyers that a book is being both bought and read and is one that inspires feedback.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Thought o' the Day

     Think about it...

Friday, January 22, 2016

Il Douche: The Most Dangerous Man in America.

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
     Earlier this month in Burlington, Vermont, where Senator and leading Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was mayor for eight years, Donald Trump held a so-called private rally (How does one turn a rally in a public, taxpayer-funded venue private? Simple. Just give away tickets.). Without warning, provocation or preamble, the paranoid crowd suddenly surrounded a young woman who was just quietly sitting in her seat and was forcibly ejected by the Burlington Police Department. 
     As the lady was manhandled out of her chair and pushed out the front door, the mob began screaming, "Trump, Trump, Trump" as they were instructed to do earlier by a Trump flak. During this travesty of Constitutional rights, Trump wearily sneered from behind the podium, "Get 'em outta here, get 'em outta here." That same night, a young man was thrown out in the cold in -10 degree weather, on Trump's insistence, without his coat. And, that same evening, a Young Turks producer was thrown out by the police with this simple explanation: "They don't want you here."
    The fact this took place in what is ordinarily a nice, sleepy New England city in which Independent Socialist Bernie Sanders was once their Chief Executive is more chilling than most people realize. It doesn't take much of a stretch of imagination to theorize that Trump could hold a rally in a commune in Berkley and still attract a crowd of thousands of screaming racists.
     Comparisons have been understandably made between Trump and Adolph Hitler, but perhaps that isn't accurate enough. When one looks at Trump's flat shark eyes, the defiant, upturned chin and the lips distorted in a sneer of constant contempt, those who know their history cannot help but see the modern day analog of Benito Mussolini, the fascist who ruled Italy for two decades.
     And you would think you'd have a problem when David Duke, the arch racist and white supremacist of his generation, says that Donald Trump is more radical than him. But no, they don't see a problem unlike we who are on the outside looking in and wondering in amazement how there can be so many bigoted, fascist mouth-breathers in 21st century, "post-racial" America.
     R. Douglas Fields of the Daily Beast nailed it in a recent article in which he sought to answer Trump's sudden and inexplicable appeal (at least to those of us who aren't obsessed with NASCAR and the WWE). In "This is Your Brain on This Election", Fields breaks down how many times the word "kill" was used at a recent Republican debate (53 times) vs 0 times when Kennedy debated Nixon in 1960. Or 0 times in the final GOP debate in 2000. Or 0 times in the final Republican debate in 2008.
     So why is a thrice-married, former abortion-supporting multibillionaire casino mogul now suddenly so popular with the screaming Teabagger rage monkeys of modern-day America? Well, as someone once famously asked, "Did the Beatles make the 60's or did the 60's make the Beatles?"

Which Came First? The Chickenhawk or the Egg?
     Trump is the very epitome of the triangulating, opportunistic politician or wouldbe politician, someone with just enough smarts to know how to exploit a situation. He's like an overflowing septic tank whose sewage is ever seeking the weakness in the infrastructure, hence the path of least resistance. Trump isn't saying anything remarkably different than he was during his brief stunt of a presidential campaign four years ago that barely got out of his exploratory committee: Trump's just being more vocal, belligerent and strident about it now that he sees America is a bitterer, more frightened and racist nation than it was back in 2012.
     We had the chutzpah to re-elect a black man as president whom the gun-clutching NRA membership is convinced, despite all contrary evidence, is going to grab their guns. The fear is pumped out like rancid river water into Flint over ISIS (created by Bush but blamed on, again, the black guy), immigration is now suddenly a YUGE concern despite the fact that more Mexicans are leaving the US than entering because they find their native Mexico that's racked with ceaseless drug cartel warfare preferable to the United States.
    Then there's the hysteria over Syrian refugees who have killed fewer Americans than Ebola last year, which is to say none.
     Trump is counting on this fear, is nakedly pumping it up and actually exhorting his security and supporters to get even angrier and, amazingly, is able to do so with complete impunity because he has the Teflon coating of being a major presidential candidate. Even taxpayer-funded police departments now reduced to acting as Trump's temp goon squads are ejecting people from Trump rallies left and right from coast to coast based on little or nothing.
     So, indeedy. Has the paranoid, xenophobic faction in our once-great nation created Trump or is Trump recreating America in his own cynical image?
     To revisit R. Douglas Field's article, he mentions something interesting that's rooted in scientific fact: He theorizes that Trump, as with virtually all the other GOP contenders but more adroitly, is appealing not to the cerebral cortex that distinguishes us from the animal kingdom, the part of the human brain controlling rational, cognitive thinking. Rather, he's specifically appealing to the limbic portion of the brain that keeps us tethered to the animal kingdom as it governs the baser drives of Man: Libido, fear, anger and rage. Especially rage. In other words, Freud's Id.
     One doesn't need to be a neurologist or social scientist to see how incredibly dangerous and wantonly reckless this is. And whatever racist teabaggers that haven't been sucked into Trump's toxic orbit are getting mopped up by the other Republicans who are trying to outdo Trump with playing King of the Dunghill and trying, vainly, to topple him.

Throwing Out the Dog Whistle
     One of the reasons for Trump's appeal happens to be the very same reason why he's so reviled by establishment conservatives starting with the All Star Republican hit squad recently assembled by the National Review: The complete lack of a filter. Oddly enough, that same establishment GOP is now at war with the venerable conservative periodical founded by William F. Buckley, having dropped their debate sponsorship over this collective ankle-biting.
     Trump's saving grace among overweight, barely literate racists and protofascists was his distorted Bulworth-like decision to throw the dog whistle over his shoulder and "say what other 'real' Americans are thinking." Trump doesn't have any time or patience for dog whistle language such as "state's rights" or "entitlement programs". One is half-amazed Trump hasn't gone full bore racist and dropped the N bomb in a speech while referring to the president. And one would half expect that if he did, it would automatically make him the Republican nominee and the convention this summer a mere formality. Which it may already be.
     Yet in reality, Trump isn't betraying the GOP or core values in his spittle-flecked speeches and Twitter account- He's just amplifying and purifying them. And the establishment Republicans, horrified to hear their positions repeated back to them unfiltered, hate him for it and hate his enduring success even more. Even so, most of these Republicans are barely smart enough to see a good tactic and, as with everyone else in this country, is very willing to be the first to do something second.
     And this seems to be working for Ted Cruz, whose own loudness and nastiness of late has paid dividends in the straw polls as he's now snuggled up just below Trump. Ted Cruz is such a vicious prick that when he was Solicitor General of Texas, he actually petitioned the Supreme Court to keep a man in prison for the full 16 years to which he was sentenced for stealing a Walmart calculator. The reason it was appealed all the way to the high court is because the infamously-flawed Texas criminal justice system mistakenly categorized the defendant as a habitual offender.
     The fact is, Trump wouldn't make a more horrible President than Ted Cruz or any other batshit insane Republican screaming out of the 11th century because they're all saying the same thing. But Trump keeps the parishioners coming in, as the saying goes, and continues this sick, silly love-hate relationship with the mainstream media that, as Ennis del Mar said in Brokeback Mountain, "just can't quit (him)."
     But the one thing that distinguishes Donald Trump from the rest is his uncanny ability to unite and rally the worst elements our society can inflict on the rest of humankind. That is how and why Donald Trump is the most dangerous man in America.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Why Amazon Needs to be Heavily Regulated by the FTC

     This is the barely literate email that I just got from Create Space in answer to my question why the $7.99 paperback for American Zen nets me exactly ten cents in royalties:
Hello Robert, Thank you for writing to us. I checked your account and I found why you received a $0.10 for a sale. Allow me to explain this to you so you may better understand. Your title was setup for distribution through Amazon initially, you then removed your book from the sales channels on 01/17/2016 which was yesterday. Before you removed your title from distribution this sale was made and if you check your pricing step within your Member a Account you will be able to see with the current list price of 7.99 you earn an Royalty of $0.10 per sale. I hope this information helps and answers all your questions. Thank you for choosing CreateSpace for your self-publishing needs. I hope you have a wonderful day further.
      Now, I'm the first one to admit that I'm not the most pragmatic writer out there when it comes to price points and Amazon's increasingly Byzantine pricing tiers but I know when we authors are getting a raw deal. And this new revelation, one of which I admit I should have been aware years ago when I first published American Zen, highlights in a microcosm just another of countless and myriad ways in which steals from its authors.
     In this particular case, I'd originally chosen all six distribution channels for this title, a natural inclination for an indie author wanting to get as much exposure for their book as possible. But what Amazon doesn't go out of their way to tell until you realize your drastically diminished royalty statements is when someone buys your paperback on Amazon, the distribution fee shoots up from 30% (standard for a Kindle title) to 40%. It also literally cuts your royalty in half. I found that out when I sold a copy of Tatterdemalion last November and saw my royalty cut from what was then $6.20 to $3.10. The CS guy who called me informed me when someone buys a paperback from, this is what happens.
     When I saw American Zen netted me exactly a thin dime (the Create Space edition's price point is $7.99), I understandably saw red and wrote to complain about this. I pretty much expected the usual non-answer that I often get from these third world drones with the suspiciously-sounding Christian names (this one was named "Lyle") so I did some poking around on the Create Space product page.
     Trying to raise my royalty rate without bloating the price point, I experimented and discovered that even when I got rid of five of the six distribution channels (keeping only Create Space's), my royalty rate stayed pat at .10¢ a book. More maddeningly, even though I divested myself of Amazon as a distribution channel, American Zen's paperback edition, as with all my novels, is still being offered on my Amazon Kindle product page.
     This essentially means I'd have to sell 10 copies of American Zen a day at the current price point before I could earn even a thin dollar in total royalties. Ten sales a day to make one dollar. There is something seriously wrong with such a royalty system and I am amazed Amazon so brazenly thinks it can get away with stealing so much money from their own authors.
     Here's the kicker: If you opt for expanded distribution for your Create Space project, they force you to bloat the price point for your paperback regardless of the set overhead expenses of paper, ink, printing costs, etc. For instance, when I had chosen all six distribution channels for Tatterdemalion last spring, they told me I had to charge over $15 per book (I settled on $15.50). I figured since this was a 193,000 word book, that's a lot of ink despite choosing a 10 dpi font size to keep down the page count.
     Then when I saw what was going on with American Zen, I decided to get rid of all but my Create Space distribution channels and discovered I could get away with charging less than $10 a book and still earn a royalty. No more $15.50 price point and it's now going for a much more competitive $9.99.
     So don't believe Amazon and Jeff Bezos when they tout offering authors royalty rates of 35-70% because they will always find some sleazy way to do an end run around their authors and throw corporate double speak at you when you ask where the fuck all your royalties went. Granted, math isn't my best subject but even I know that .10¢ for a $7.99 title doesn't come close to even 35%. That's a joke.
     And that's just one out of countless ways Jeff Bezos and his Merry Pranksters in Seattle steal money from their authors. Here are some other ways:

     Those of you with Kindles no doubt know of something they launched a few years ago called Kindle Unlimited. This is Amazon's version of a con job that we saw on the Simpsons. Homer buys $1,100 in Itchy and Scratchy money that he's told at the gate he can use once he enters. Then when he does, every single concession stand in the park says they refuse to accept Itchy and Scratchy dollars (a real life amusement park scam in full evidence at places like Disneyworld and other corporate entities that get to print their own scrip).
     Kindle Unlimited is much like that. For the supposedly low price of $9.99 a month, Amazon boasts over a million titles offered even though they limit you to 10 titles per month then take them off your Kindle when the month is up (By comparison, Scribd, another subscription service, offers 20 books a month, including several bestsellers)
     Something else they don't go out their way to tell you is that trying to find an actual bestseller to read for your monthly subscription price is like literally trying to find a needle in a field of haystacks. Every single one of the Big Five publishers decided to opt out of this when Amazon announced their subscription service. Logically, they didn't like the idea of getting cut out of any real sales and having their authors screwed over while Amazon continued raking in $10 a month from probably millions of people who were duped into thinking they were getting a great deal.
     So where does that leave the author? At first glance, it would appear as if readers were reading their books for free while they earned no royalties. And the truth isn't too far from that.
     Bezos pretended to address the issue by setting up a pool to give to authors each month like JD Rockefeller handing out dimes to the poor and the actual size (Usually around $2-12 million) of this pool is squishy and changes from month to month. In virtually 100% of the cases, authors discovered that with Amazon KDP Select's payment scale they wound up making far less than as if they'd sold the title outright (usually a buck and change, if that).
     As if that's not bad enough, for authors who choose to opt out of entering their books to Kindle Unlimited, there's another catch. Doing so will essentially remove your title from the virtual shelves and have it relegated to Amazon's dark basement where no will see it, which places an even greater burden on the author to publicize a title that Amazon was never very interested in publicizing to begin with. So essentially, Kindle Unlimited offers only dog shit no one wants to read while on the open market making you pay what they decide you should pay for a Kindle bestseller (up to $17 or more). On the face of it, it looks as if Amazon is touting the work of their indie authors (a corporate line they love to run with) but there are stiff penalties for authors who opt out of KDP Select even though opting in inevitably results in greatly reduced earnings.
     Then there's the outrageous scam they hatched last year and implemented July 1st: Paying Kindle authors by the page. Here's how it would work in the real world:
     You buy a paperback at a brick and mortar book store. You take it home and begin reading it. Yet if you don't know enough to look, an employee from the store camps out in your bushes and takes careful note of every single page you read by looking over your shoulder. After hiding in your bushes for 60 days, they then hack into the author's bank account and steal back the percentage of money s/he didn't "earn". Meanwhile, the bookstore and distributor get their full cuts and the only one penalized is the author.
     In other words, you could have the biggest-selling Kindle title on the planet earth but if no one reads a single page, you don't get a single penny while Amazon still gets to rake in their 30% while keeping your money in escrow or some place.
     See how far that would fly in the meat world. So why should it be any less creepy or any more legal in cyberspace and why are so many authors enthralled with this idea?
     It's bottomlessly despicable enough that Amazon keeps track of your spending and reading habits down to the last page (a tradeoff for being part of a network). But this KENPC program, as they called it, even had safeguards built into it. Since this implementation, several authors had tried to get more pages read by increasing font sizes but Amazon had an ingenious solution for that, too- They don't go by actual page count but percentage of content read and the only way around it is to include pictures, pie charts and graphs that still (for now, although I'm sure Amazon will eventually find a way around that, too) count as actual content.
     So, in other words, the author doesn't get paid for the pages that aren't read and "meeting thresholds" as they like to term it in their corporate double speak. And the onus and stigma is being despicably placed on the author for not sustaining the reader's attention enough to get them to finish the book. But that's just one of literally countless reasons why a reader wouldn't finish reading a Kindle title.
     The buyer could have died or had been hit by a bus and put into a long coma. Their Kindle could have been lost or stolen or damaged. There could have been any family emergency or a new job or relocation made them too busy to finish your book. None of which has any bearing on the quality or content of your book. Yet Amazon pretends to blame the author entirely for their content not being fully read to justify stealing money from our pockets.
     Indeed, despite what my royalty reports told me, when I finally got my money at the end of last year I realized to my horror that I got less than half of my royalties (Amazon, natch, got to keep their usual 30% distribution fee) and when I pressed them to inform me where my money was being held and if Amazon was making interest on my withheld money, they couldn't or wouldn't answer me aside from blandly telling me they'd release the rest of my money once I'd "met the threshold." Then they dropped the matter entirely and, predictably, began ignoring me.
     Back in the old days, authors automatically met that threshold in the devilishly difficult act of getting a customer to part with $5-10 for a book of yours but now Amazon had ingeniously made that very conditional. They bully authors in their passive/aggressive way to sign up for a program that's guaranteed to lose them money and sales then place the burden and penalty on authors for not sustaining interest when there are literally thousands of reasons for a book not being read. If you earn Amazon a 30% distribution fee, you've already done part of your job "meeting thresholds" and they should do their part and pay their authors fair and square. 
     But they continue warbling their siren song about how they're all about the customer and how they offer 35-70% royalties for their authors. But you need to read the fine print especially with an Amazon agreement. They are one of the most evil corporations on earth and the authors who viciously defend Jeff Bezos and his band of thieves are no better than the Jewish trustees who worked at Auschwitz, hoping their service will earn them a dispensation from the showers and gas ovens and maybe, if they're really lucky, a pat on the head from the commandant. In reality, Amazon serves as an ongoing object lesson of what happens when you deregulate industry and allow them, instead, to self-deal so they use their size to bully vendors, customers and authors alike.

Friday, January 15, 2016

What Would You Rather Do on Your Birthday?

     I had a pretty low key one planned. Maybe sell a few books, if I was lucky, then go to a local pub to watch the Patriots play their first post season game. And I still intend on doing that. But now I've something more important to do because a family is about to be hit with a calamity that few of us who haven't suffered through one like this can fully imagine.
     I just received a letter crossposted to both my email clients from a dear friend of mine in Washington state who's now hopping on a jet to North Carolina. Since she knows this gentleman and the family better than I do, I'll let her do the talking straight from her blog, Experiential Pagan, and I'll have to trust she won't mind the copyright infringement:
     As I said on my more (ever slightly) active blogs at Herlander Walking and Steel Kachinas….I have a grim week ahead. I am even being forced into flying for the first time in over a decade. A veteran as dear to me as my sons, Lincoln Marston, is dying at Duke University Medical School. Just after New Year’s he suffered the rupture of an aneurysm in his brain and almost a dozen catastrophic strokes. His wife, Amy, also an Air Force veteran who served with him in Afghanistan has no income whatsoever at this time. They have two young children who are just becoming terrified they will have to say farewell to their father.
     It is time to support the troops, any of you who call me friend! There is a site to help raise money….for everything from medical bills to funeral costs. I take flight this weekend, with my son who considered Lincoln another brother. We have packed our black suits and robbed our savings accounts. The miserable woman who can soon claim the title widow can’t even access Lincoln’s bank account. Please throw a few dollars into the pot and pass the word to all and sundry.
     She also said in her email that they're cutting off life support on the 18th, if he makes it that far.
     I don't expect you to know this young couple and their family but if you aren't moved by something like this then you have no right to lay claim to the title of human. My heart goes out to them because they were until recently what appeared to be a happy family. My heart goes out to them because they're former Air Force and during our younger days my old man and I both were also in the Air Force. And lastly, my heart goes out to them because they both served in Afghanistan, a place we never should have invaded and occupied. It seems the only good part about being stationed there was that's where Lincoln and Amy met.
     And even though Mrs. JP and I are hurting financially, we're not facing adversity nearly this calamitous or gut-wrenching so even I'd contributed to the Go Fund Me fund. I implore you to please do the same. Money obviously won't replace their husband and father or heal their wounds but regardless of a death in the family, the wolves are never very far from the door and don't care about your loss.
     So please give whatever you can to this poor family because they're about to be in more need than anyone in this country should ever have to stare down.

Turning 57 is Still Better Than the Alternative

     I'd long since reached the age when unimaginative wags think it's funny to buy me black tombstone-shaped birthday candles mass-produced for other unimaginative wags the world over. In fact, sometimes I feel older than my protagonists Scott Carson and Vesey Van Zant, even though were born in 1866 and 1829, respectively.
     I can't do a lot of the things I used to do and took for granted or wasted the opportunity to do when I was decades younger but one thing I can do much better than ever is write. So as I shuffle off into my 57th birthday tomorrow, it would sure make my day if you could buy a copy of either Tatterdemalion or my newest opus, Gods of Our Fathers either on Kindle or Create Space. You can get the first
here and the latter here in paperback.
     Or, if historical thrillers aren't your speed and you'd like something more political and contemporary, American Zen is still on sale for the usual Kindle price of $4.99 and the paperback going for the low cost of $7.99 (not a bad price point for a 150,000 word novel filled with great one liners).

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Good Times at Pottersville, 1/14/16

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Good Times at Pottersville, 1/13/16

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Let Us Call Jeb Bush "Accordion Dick"

(From top left, clockwise: Jeb! Bush, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee. Not shown: Donald Trump, constantly regnant and spooging all over the face of a grateful white America.)
     Someone recently asked Jeb! Bush (aka the "smarter one") why he had the lowest favorability rating among all Republican presidential candidates and this was literally his answer:
     To briefly take a page from the Rude Pundit, Jeb! Bush is essentially a once promising porn star who is reduced to supporting roles jerking off in a forgotten chair while the younger, sexier porn stars get it on rogering Carly Fiorina. He's gamely trying because that's his job, after all, lording it over everyone else not born to the Bush brand name but you just know his heart isn't in it.
     His entire performance has been lackluster and he just can't get that little draft-deferred soldier to stand even on his knees at parade rest. Still, he tries while, oddly, not caring why he can't achieve Trumpian tumescence. The poor little thing just disappears like a stunted Wack-a-Mole, briefly poking up its embarrassed head every few seconds over the pudgy little fist as Jeb! grinds away at it like an arthritic, nonagenarian corn husker, the withered, once-proud Bush wacker offering as its only proof of life the little clicking sound the lube makes as it gets old and sticky on Mr. Not-So-Happy.
     Oh sure, when poor Jeb! mournfully whacks his tally on Wall Street, people like Sheldon Adelson and Paul Singer throw a few hundred thousand dollars into his size 14 hat that lies between his feet but it's obvious the love's not there as it was for his Special Needs brother George. It's the sloppiest, most indifferent effort of its kind since Ted Kennedy ran for president in 1980 and only did so because Rose would not unlock the attic door where he was being held against his will until he agreed to do more than form an exploratory committee. After all, one can live on caviar and scotch for only so long.
     And Jeb!'s rhythm-less autoeroticism spoils the fun for anyone who would endeavor to accompany this sad parody of actual masturbation with The Who's "Squeeze Box". But unlike Teddy, poor Jeb! can't blame Mommy because even she doesn't want him to be president.
     And his dwindling supporters try to get him into the sex swing of things again by showing him pictures of his Mexican wife getting vigorously squired by a man with Donald Trump's double weaved head Photoshopped on a buff body nude from the waist down but it doesn't do the trick. Others whisper dirty little talking points in his ear such as "Cut taxes for the 1%!" and "Cut funding for Planned Parenthood!" but the sloppy parody of Buffing the Bishop continues.
     The problem is, there's a certain Wimp Factor to worry about and, as with the actual act of love, once one begins firming the fish, there is no turning back unless there's at least a trickle of precum to show for hours of elbow grease going back to June. And it would be unmanly to pull out and admit ED won the day. Calling Bob Dole for advice simply isn't an option.
     But John Ellis Bush's incipiently failed experiment in self love is doomed and we all know it even as we turn to see the better-ripped, better-hung porn stars (Like those young Latino up-and-cummers Ted and Marco) of the Republican Party steal the show. His fans will continue throwing a few Viagras in his size 14 hat, perhaps a half-hearted endorsement and maybe $2500 from a Super PAC but the outcome is preordained with Calvinistic certainty. A crippled, paralyzed orgasm is one of the many things Jeb! can't fix.
     And with the stubborn arrogance peculiar to those who just don't give a flying fuck anymore, Jeb! will never again cry with pent-up orgasmic ecstasy as he did in those palmier, carefree days when he spooged with gleeful abandon all over the state of Florida, itself ironically resembling a discouraged phallus. The cum of conservatism will never again proudly fly from the chubby Bush's chubby and we know the end is nigh. It's only a matter of when he will finally struggle to his feet and stagger into the bathroom to wash the caked anal lube from his sticky little hands.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Top 10 Things I'd Do if I Won the $1.4 Billion Powerball Jackpot

     As I'm sure everyone knows, the Powerball jackpot is currently at $1.4 billion. This more than doubles the previous record for a North American lottery jackpot and is roughly two and a half times the previous record Powerball jackpot. No doubt, by Wednesday's drawing the kitty will get up to at least a billion and a half bucks. In the statistically astronomical odds one person wins it, that would be a one-time gross payout of almost a billion dollars, automatically making that person one of the few thousand richest people on earth. In the event Mrs. JP and I are the sole winners of this largesse, here's what I'd do with my share of the money.

  • 1) Bring Scott Weiland and David Bowie back to life. Seriously, there's no reason why these guys are dead while the Koch brothers, Paul Singer and Sheldon Adelson are still drawing breath at their age.
  • 2) Buy a New York City literary agency. Seriously. Because that's the only way I'll ever get these fucking morons to submit my work to the Big Five publishers. I'd also institute some ground-breaking paradigm shifts, such as treating authors with respect, not ignoring them or sending out form letters through flunkies. Once word spreads throughout the writing community that they'll get a fair shake, they'd come flocking to us in no time and hopefully it would start a trend. Any one not on board gets shitcanned immediately.
  • 3) Whatever my cat allows me to buy.
  • 4) Hire Wesley Snipes' mercenary psychopaths to clean out the Malheur Wildlife Refuge of Ammon Bundy's mouth-breathing welfare queens.
  • 5) Hire a legal dream team and sue the entire Bush administration in a massive civil lawsuit for crimes against humanity. Seriously, is there not one conscientious member of the 1% who has thought of this?
  • 6) Hire a private eye so I can call up Mitt Romney just to laugh at him and call him a pauper.
  • 7) Kiss Netzero goodbye forever and get a Cadillac wifi plan. Verizon's costs literally $7 a day, which a billion dollars would pay for for a few years.
  • 8) Let's just say even the irascible and dyspeptic Bernie Sanders would be happy after a meet and greet with yours truly. What's a bigger nightmare to the right wing than a hippie liberal with a billion dollars in his pocket? One with a political action committee named COMMIEPAC.
  • 9) Homeless shelters where they're most needed. We don't have one in our area and there are many other places that don't have one. Veterans, single mothers and whole families would be given priority. It would be tied in with job training programs and temporary health and dental insurance would be offered free of charge to guests.
  • 10) Fund local school districts suffering from budgetary shortfalls. No kid should have to tearfully say goodbye to their clarinet or football uniform because a district's tax base shrinks or corrupt local officials think taking money from schools is a responsible spending offset. 
  • Sunday, January 10, 2016

    "We will kill or be killed... as soon as we get our tampons, slippers and French vanilla creamer."

         Somehow, I doubt when John Brown took Harper's Ferry in 1859, he ever asked for any of this shit.
         To show us all what deadly, masculine, manly men are the Oregon occupiers of that federal wildlife refuge in Oregon, they've used social media to tell their supporters what exactly they need. And, no, it doesn't just stop at "snackies."
         Courtesy of the Twitter feed of JJ MacNab, the antigovernment terrorism expert at Forbes, we now know what living rough, Ammon Bundy-style, really means.
         Boxer briefs (No word, yet, on whether there's a need for Magic Bundy Fundie Undies, since he's Mormon.)
         Throw rugs, any and all sizes (Any Muslims reading this who want to get rid of a frayed prayer rug, now's your chance.)
         French vanilla coffee creamer (An indispensable staple of the rough frontier life when Bundy's forebears camped on the plains surrounded by hostile Native Americans.)
         Slippers. Yes, slippers. Apparently, their tootsies are cold as they're slopping around in the cubicles on a Sunday morning harvesting names and Social Security numbers off the federal building's database.
         Medicine (Yes, there's a generic panacea for all ills courtesy of medical science and it's eponymously called "medicine".)
         And, lest we forget this public begging of modern conveniences in no way should impugn the masculinity of these brave, stalwart patriots, they want Marlboros, the most manly cigarettes out there (although they were originally marketed as a woman's cigarette).
         And, no, you silly, weak-kneed liberals, do not think this in any, way, shape or form is reminiscent of Socialism let alone that of white privilege. It's not their fault these sovereign citizens left their shacks, hovels and trailers with no pork rinds, water, clean change of clothes, Copenhagen dip or any of the essentials of redneck life to join Ammon Bundy in his Quixotic quest to... well, I don't know. Occupy a federal building and piss off birders.
         They legitimately thought this would be a PR stunt that would last a day or two, tops and never thought for a minute in their addled brains that Bundy would make this last for weeks, thanks in large part to a federal law enforcement apparatus that gets the dry heaves of taking a shot at white men even when they're sighting down on them with .50 caliber rifles. After all, the very last thing we need is another Waco or Ruby Ridge.
         So if y'all have any ideas of what I should send to the Oregon branch of the Bundy ranch in the way of a CARE package, this is the place to make your suggestions.

    Tuesday, January 5, 2016

    Bad Blurbs

         Granted, the official line is writers support each other. We're supposed to sit collegially at round tables and give each other constructive criticism and unstinting support or what Keats called "tea and comfortable advice" both in the meat world and online. We do stupid little things like NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) to see how prolifically and horribly we can write a full-length novel in a month.
         In reality, however, and I count myself as the only writer of consequence on the planet earth who will publicly admit this, writers actually loath and despise each other. Whatever middling support wannabes show each other instantly evaporates the minute one of them gets a book deal. You don't believe me? Try asking an established author to put you in touch with their literary agent. Even though they know damned good and well many literary agencies work by referral or invitation only, you will see the frost literally form on your monitor as you wait for the answer.
         So, no, writers do not support each other, especially when there's something at stake.
         However, while there are many authors and writers I loath, I am not like the guy who said, "It is not enough that I succeed. Others must fail." Unlike a certain stalker in Farr West, Utah I can think of, I'm content to leave well enough alone because it's a foregone conclusion a bad book will sink of its own weight (which doesn't explain 50 Shades of Grey but that's grist for another post).
         However, when I see epically horrible writing that cannot be left to die of its own accord, I'm sorry, I just want to kick it with steel-toed boots even while it's writhing in its death throes.
         Which brings me to Bad Blurbs, which I fear will be a series.
         Authors do this all the time, especially on Twitter. They'll put up a .jpeg of a book cover that looks as if it was designed by an autistic 12 year-old using Photoshop for the first time. Often on these .jpegs, they'll provide the potential buyer with a sample of their writing. Now, this is supposed to be a superior example of your writing, a representation of your caliber as an author. Yet the above is what I just saw on my book and writing account on Twitter.
         As painful as it is, I'll help you along by typing the entire transcript of the blurb:
    Shaw rarely took his black eyes off Bronagh. He was a shield, her protector. He was crude and arrogant, aggressive yet tender, raucous and sexy, commanding but loyal. Bane Shaw was the imperfectly, perfect man.
         If this blurb is supposed to warn the reader of another 80,000 words of banality awaiting them, then it succeeds admirably and spectacularly.
         First off, I understand that there's a market out there for romance fiction. Barbara Cartland wrote exactly 756,935 romance novels in her lifetime and made a lot of pelf from it. That doesn't mean one should immediately sink into banality, genre stereotypes and cliche when availing oneself of that dubious muse.
         Secondly, let's start with the "black eyes" of this Shaw guy. OK, I've never once in my life ever saw someone with black eyes. That's a creepy image, the only one the author ventures here (more on that later) and makes me think of countless stringy-haired girls in Japanese horror movies. Black eyes are not sexy. That's The Walking Dead territory you're straying into.
         Thirdly, a guy who rarely takes his eyes off a woman tends to be a clumsy stalker who's constantly running into street lights and mailboxes (Or, if it's a fantasy novel, unicorn horns and Hobbit houses). I get it that Shaw is captivated by the woman with the bastardized Gaelic name but a guy who rarely takes his Grudge-type eyes off a woman is just bottomlessly creepy.
         Then there's the mixing in the same sentence of an isolated metaphor, followed by a completely unnecessary, redundant and literal reiteration of what Shaw is to Erin Go Bragh or whatever her name is. Pick one and stick with it. But this overwriting and over-description just gets worse as the writer picks up steam and warms up to her subject. And thence begins the march of the adjectives.
         In the third person narrator's observation, Shaw is by turns crude, arrogant, aggressive, tender, raucous, sexy, commanding and loyal. (Literary convention, I guess, can be forgiven for not commenting on whether or not he is also trustworthy, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent, alho he seems to have the loyal part down pat). And one should know they're getting far afield when they begin straying from romance cliches to pulp crime fiction cliches reminiscent of Sam Spade ("She walked into my office, sultry yet cool, a real femme fatale, a Lady in Red, with legs that went all the way up to the moon...").
         Now, that's an awful lot for the reader to take in at once and I'm immediately put in mind of the Three Blind Chinese Men and the Elephant Syndrome. Which, up to a point works in fiction because each individual reader will form an image or impression of what a character is like.
         And that's the crux of the problem in this Roget's regurgitant: They're not images but concepts, ideas. And this inevitably brings us back to the old writing saw about showing, not telling. Anything else is wearisome exposition.
         If one must resort to adjectives, make them unexpected and evocative. I recall once before using this example from Nathaniel Hawthorne when he once described a character as being, "Grave, sable and gray." That's a great image because Hawthorne used unexpected and mostly nonliteral adjectives to describe this character's appearance while giving a vivid hint of the kind of personality he had.
         Now, one can't reasonably expect everyone to be Nathaniel Hawthorne but that doesn't mean one can jettison the basic rules of writing or violate inviolate ones.
         And who the fuck names their kid "Bane?" That makes me think of Tom Hardy's character in The Dark Knight Rises huffing into an arachnid-looking metal breathing apparatus. "Bane"? Seriously? And what the fuck's with the comma after the adverb "imperfectly"?
         Honestly, take a writing class or at least read a lot and by that I do not mean tripe getting troweled out hourly by shitty publishers such as Harlequin. Get a couple of novels under your belt before venturing into self publication waters. Because this is what legacy publishers, literary agents, bookstores, reviewers and critics and, yes, even other authors point to when they sneer at how horrible self-published books are and why they refuse to even acknowledge them. You're simply making it harder for the more conscientious of us to successfully navigate the already harsh waters of self publishing.
         Self publication has democratized the market, true. But, as our democratic political system teaches us time and again (while its lessons go unheeded), democracy comes with certain responsibilities and duties along with those rights.

    Monday, January 4, 2016

    Good Times at Pottersville, 1/4/16

    Saturday, January 2, 2016

    Rahm Emanuel Is a Piece of Dog Shit That Needs to be Bagged and Thrown Out ASAP

         I don't know what Chicago-based blogger D r i f t g l a s s will say about this. Yet even though Chicago's not my city I might as well chime in and say what an absolute piece of shit Rahm Emanuel is. He needs to be scraped up, bagged and thrown in the nearest Dumpster and not even given the chance for compost recycling.
         Media outlets obtaining private emails passed between Emanuel's staff and the Chicago Police plainly show there was a coverup or at least the delay in the divulgence of information in the Laquan McDonald shooting in October of 2014. Rahm was running for office, for Pete's sake, and not only that, he was losing big in the polls before winning, improbably, by a landslide (Perhaps a closer look at the ballots is called for).
         Apparently, for the Emanuel administration, a dead darkie was just too darned inconvenient during an election year and it was much more politically expedient to just pretend as if he never existed much less that he was shot 16 times in the back by Officer Van Dyke as he was walking away and carrying just a knife.
         A quick look at Rahm's past and his work on behalf of the Blue Dog faction of the Republican Democratic Party shows this ought come as no surprise to anyone who has followed this man's one man crime wave going back the earliest days of the first Clinton presidential campaign. It also comes as no surprise to this blogger that Rahm, as he's affectionately known in Chitown and the Beltway, had been chosen by faux Democrat Obama to be his first Chief of Staff. The official consensus among the Gibson-swilling cocktail circuit on the Beltway was that Rahm was a tough but fair man who knew how to get shit done.
         Sure he was, very much in the same way concentration camp commandants kept the showers and gas ovens full and got their shit done.
         The New Yorker cover piece by Rick Perlstein is a masterpiece of understated condemnation that's content to merely give a dry recitation of facts of Emanuel's political career since he was a 32 year-old up-and-comer vacuuming up huge amounts of money for Slick Willie's campaign. We're treated to an indelible picture of Rahm screaming into telephones and berating campaign contributors whom he felt weren't giving enough money.
         He helped quash Bill Clinton's Gennifer Flowers sex scandal and was essentially the future 42nd president's Jeff Gilooly. By the time he was appointed Chief of Staff by Obama he'd already begun laying the groundwork for the sleazy back room deal with Big Pharma during the ObamaCare debate that, perhaps illegally, capped Medicaid drug reimbursements at $80 billion per annum. The drift to the right has been as vicious and inexorable as the path of a black tornado veering east: In present day Chicago, Rahm is much more likely to be seen in the company of rich Republican businessmen than Chicago community leaders.
         He's essentially one of the pigs in Animal Farm who at the end morphs into the very same people he'd originally sworn to fight. Except, contrary to popular belief, Rahm was never one of the pigs but one of the money-grubbing sociopaths all along.
         And comparisons to the spectacularly corrupt Daley boys who'd once occupied the Mayor's office are fruitless. This is Rahm's time and it should now come to an end. Only 17% of Chicagoans recently polled say they do not believe anything Rahm says and the majority want him out now. He always has been, is and always will be a snarling junkyard Blue Dog who will crawl into bed with anyone if it promised money on the dresser the next morning. So it's not surprising that the Ultimate Blue Dog, Barack Obama, chose him to be the first of several Chiefs of Staff.
         And despite his and his staff of fellow ball-cutter's best efforts, it's notable that Van Dyke was only charged with murder about 400 days after emptying an entire clip into the back of a mentally unbalanced 17 year-old from several dozens of feet away when Van Dyke's life was in no way even remotely threatened. It's also telling that, among the other five officers in attendance, who were closer to McDonald, not a single one of them felt their lives were threatened or had fired even one bullet.
         And this expose proves Rahm and his staff much preferred to remain in power and to continue letting a homicidal cop roam the streets of Chicago than to move swiftly and decisively on the unquestionable execution of a disturbed black teenager.

    So Long and Thanks for All the Gefilte Fish

         When you get right down to it, bloggers are really just glorified bleacher bums. Some of us have louder voices than most, others ruder and more profane and some even have megaphones. Jill at Brilliant at Breakfast was once described as "the best bleacher bum since Pete Axthelm." Those are some pretty big shoes to fill since the late New York Herald Times sportswriter was pretty much the best at his game.
         I just got an email from Jill, our server at Brilliant at Breakfast, and while I won't quote the letter in full, I can certainly paraphrase the abstracts:
         Jill's shutting down B@B and two weeks ago had moved from her native New Jersey for warmer, palmier climes. If you were a fan of Jill's blog, you'll remember that she'd suffered some catastrophic losses over the last couple of years, starting with the death of a beloved feline then the even greater loss of her husband. She dove into work, frequently putting in 80 hours a week for her company and pretty much put B@B in mothballs.
         As with many other blogs, she had invited others to contribute, including yours truly. But they were erstwhile, at best, and with the death of Bob Rixon, the likely gradually morphed into the inevitable. Even I could not crosspost much over the last year due to my various fiction projects and other matters to attend to, although I'd recently tried to make a game effort to freshen the place up once I'd put my latest title to bed with my publisher.
         Jill could kvetch with the best of us and on many occasions, as good writers are wont to make other writers do, I'd find myself muttering, "Damn, I wish I'd thought of that!" As with Pottersville, B@B was a catch-as-catch-can type of blog and when you surfed in during its heyday, you never knew what you'd get or how you'd get it. The title of the blog was a quote from Oscar Wilde, who'd once written, "Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast."
         Yet, despite the self-deprecating title, Jill was never Oliver Wendell Holmes' "The autocrat of the breakfast table". Quite the contrary. The sub masthead was also a not so sly dig at Arianna Huffington's plantation at the HuffPo: "Where noone cashes in on unpaid writers." Indeed, Mrs. JP and I had benefited countless times from Jill's largesse over the years, often handing over whatever meager income B@B had accrued in the way of ad revenue.
         And, like a true liberal blogger, Jill has a quasi socialist sensibility and special affection for the B, C and even good Z list blogger that was famously championed by the late Jon Swift. During a time in which many of the A listers also left for palmier climes through MSM and book deals, Jill stayed true to her roots and those who shared that root network, often with an eloquence and passion of which the likes of the late Steve Gilliard would be proud. I don't know if she will take down the blog or merely restrict access to the other contributors. I hope it will only be the latter.
         So this is your server's New Year's resolution: To seek happiness in the hideous rictus of devastating loss and heartbreak, which, after all, is what distinguishes us as a species: That stubborn insistence of putting one foot before the other regardless of how arduous and adversity-riddled the journey.
         Godspeed, Jill, or Whoever and whatever puts wings on your heels. I will keep the campfires burning as long as I can from here and will keep a candle in the window for you, old friend.

    KindleindaWind, my writing blog.

    All Time Classics

  • Our Worse Half: The 25 Most Embarrassing States.
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