Friday, April 29, 2016

Good Times at Pottersville, 4/29/16

Top 10 Ted Cruz Sex Tape Titles

     It's been making the rounds since late last week that a female Ted Cruz lookalike, Mississippi native Searcy Hayes, has agreed to do a six minute sex scene in a porno movie with her boyfriend in exchange for $10,000. While details are being hashed out and filming has yet to start, that leaves plenty of time for the filmmakers to settle on a title. So what are the top 10 working titles for the Ted Cruz Lookalike sex tape?
  • 10) I Am Curious Radioactive Green.
  • 9) Last Tango in Paris, Texas
  • 8) Swindler's Lust
  • 7) Teddy Does Dallas
  • 6) Deep Threat
  • 5) Cruz Missile of Love
  • 4) NonVictor/Victoria
  • 3) Blind Ambition
  • 2) New World Order Hookers
  • 1) Lucifer in the Flesh in Miss Jones
  • Thursday, April 28, 2016

    Transcript of the Ted Cruz Porno Movie

         By now, I'm sure you know that one of the hottest news items on the intertubz these days is that Ted Cruz's twin, Searcy Hayes, has agreed to do a sex tape for $10,000. What you may not know is that they've already done principle photography and location scouting (most likely in a model apartment in Gulfport, MS with sparse furnishings that look oddly static and lifeless that no one in real life actually buys). In fact, the much-anticipated sex tape is already in production and will no doubt finish the arduous and lengthy post-production process by sundown.
         Never let it be said that ole JP doesn't have your best interests at heart. He's reached out to his friends acquaintances total, random strangers with whom he had absolutely no relationship whatsoever and got a raw transcript of the Ted Cruz doppelgänger porno movie. Don't say I didn't warn you.

    (Porno music with quasi-romantic fiddle in the background)
         Knock, knock.
         "Hi, I'm the Literal Constitutionalist Repair Girl. I heard you need something in your Constitution fixed?"
         "They usually don't send a female for these jobs."
         "I'm a trailblazer. May I come in?"
         "Sure, baby."
         "You look oddly familiar. Have we ever met?"
         "Have you ever been to the Values Voters summit? CPAC?"
         "Can't say I have, darlin'."
         "Want to fuck, baby?"
         "Yes, ma'am!"
    (Quick disrobing scene)
         "Ooh, my! That's a big one! Every time I see something that big, I want to privatize it!"
         "Privatize this, sweetheart..."
    (Music's volume swells)
         "Cum inside me, baby. Don't strand them sperm people."
         "What if I get you pregnant?"
         "Why I'll have your baby. Would you marry me?"
         "I'll have to think on that. Damn, you look awful familiar. You sure we never met, darlin'?"
         "Oh, I think I'd remember a fine, southern stud like you."
         "Suddenly, I have the urge to deny women abortions and carpet bomb the entire Middle East."
         "Oh, you're just sayin' that to make me cum faster. Keep talking dirty to me, baby!"
         "I'm a'gonna bomb your pussy 'till it glows. Ain't no Syrian refugee gettin' in there, babe!"
         "That's my baby! Oh, oh!"
    Knock knock.
         "Who the fuck is that?"
         "Oh, that's my partner. You didn't think I wouldn't want a threesome, did you, big boy?"

         "Hi, stud. I'm Carly!"
         "Oh, shit! Cut! Get the fluffer here, quick!"
         "Better make it two."
         "Thank you for not noticing the booger on my mouth, doll."
         "Oh, Christ, get the Viagra and Spanish Fly, stat!"

    Reagan's 11th Commandment

    (By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari Goldstein.)
    "I've never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life." - former House Speaker John Boehner, April 27, 2016
    When former President Ronald Reagan handed down his dictum of, "Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican," no one realized that people like Ted Cruz would require a codicil. In other words, "Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican*"
         "*Ted Cruz, excepted, of course."
         Yesterday at a Town Hall, former House Speaker John Boehner (R-Super Tans) actually called Ted Cruz "Lucifer in the flesh", no doubt the kind of ad hominem that will get attention especially when coming from a fellow Republican. One wonders what the 40th president would think of this exception to his 11th Commandment. Then one must wonder what Reagan would've thought of the junior senator from Texas had he been in Congress during his administration. And then one wonders if, on meeting the loathsome Cruz, the Great Communicator would himself had quietly added that loophole in his own 11th Commandment.
         Boehner's feelings on Cruz had been roiling just beneath his Corinthian leather skin when the latter essentially usurped the Speaker's authority during the showdown between the right wingers in Congress and the Executive branch just before the ruinous government shutdown in the first half of October 2013 that cost the government about $25 billion. Then a freshman senator, Cruz delivered a rambling ten hour plus "filibuster" that included reading "Green Eggs and Ham" by Dr. Seuss, a boneheaded stunt that should've ended his political career by any reasonable rubric.
         But Cruz got swept in to Congress during the Teabagger resurgence of 2012 in a revolution that less resembled the Republican predecessor of 1995 and more like a ruptured sewage pipe. We're now living in a political landscape in which the Freedom Caucus does more than its part to ensure that Crazy is new Sane and anything goes. And when he first got to Capitol Hill the following January, Cruz wasted no time in alienating not just Democrats but his fellow Republicans. Considering how massively unpopular Cruz has been in the higher chamber, it's a wonder it took Boehner or anyone from the right side of the aisle this long to call him out for what he is.

    Here's a half a million dollars. Will You be my Running Mate?
          Lending at least some short-term credence to Boehner's very politically incorrect but nonetheless spot-on appraisal of a man whose father thinks was born to rule the earth in a divine Dominion, Ted Cruz named Carly Fiorina as his running mate at the same time Boehner was spitting venom at him at a Town Hall. (At least when inflicting Sarah Palin on the lower 48, McCain waited until late August '08 and was assured of being the GOP nominee.).
         There's so much that is wrong about this choice, not the least reason of which is Cruz's nomination in Cleveland this summer a mathematical impossibility (from here on in, Cruz could run the table, grab every delegate and still not get the 1237 delegates he'd need.). What pipe dreams Cruz still has seem to hinge on a brokered convention, which the GOP might not want to risk. It would also require the Republican Rules Committee to move back the goalposts on Trump by changing the requirements for Rule 40(b), which could further alienate the surprisingly incendiary Trump constituency.
         It's become obvious to many on both sides of the Great Ideological Divide that Trump's baleful presence over the political landscape is the only thing that explains Cruz's otherwise inexplicable viability. Cruz is like that ugly barfly still loitering at the end of the bar during last call and mainstream Republican voters that horny, desperate guy nervously adjusting his beer goggles, unwilling to go home to the wife with the bad orange hair and big mouth that just won't ever shut THE FUCK up.
         But Cruz is not only massively unpopular with his fellow Republican senators (he didn't get his first endorsement from there until last March when Utah's Mike Lee, after openly campaigning with Marco Rubio, finally gave him the nod almost a full year after Cruz threw his dunce cap in the ring at Liberty University).
         Otherwise, it seems Cruz's campaign is a good thing only for makers of memes, urban legends and late night TV jokes. And now, the man who's been half-seriously put forth as a Zodiac suspect has made as his running mate the even more massively unpopular Carly Fiorina, a woman to whom his Super PAC had given $500,000 not long before a sex scandal broke.
         I don't have to tell you, Constant Reader, that just conjures images of a pile of money on a night stand in a hot bed motel. The optics also makes less ludicrous than it ought to be a Ted Cruz lookalike agreeing to be in a porno flick for $10,000.
         Welcome to 2016, folks. This is not Ronald Reagan's Republican Party, anymore.

    Tuesday, April 26, 2016

    Primary Asshole

         Now, unless you're on Twitter and are as politically engaged as I am there, you won't recognize the fat twat leering behind the not-so-fat twat in the foreground. That's (former) Facebook troll Casey Champagne, one of the paid Hillary attack dogs who masterminded an effort to suspend several Bernie Sanders Facebook pages last night, including the three largest composed of some 120,000 members.
         If you want a condensed overview of what happened last night during Clinton's Night of the Long Knives, go to Freakout Nation. If you'd rather not, then keep reading.
         What Champagne and his fellow mercenary trolls did was game Facebook's algorithm, which is what all internet behemoths use so they don't have to, God forbid, actually think about anything. And they gamed the algorithm by filing complaints such as the one below that the Sanders FB walls were threatening violence.
         This, obviously, is Casey bragging about his anonymous cybernetic terrorism on his late, lamented FB wall. Then, as if that wasn't enough, they were posting kiddie porn on the Sanders walls then reporting them for that. Yes, these paid trolls are so despicable, they were using victimized children of sexual predation to erase the Sanders Facebook presence the night before Election Day.
         I'd made an observation on Twitter a couple of days ago that the more often I come into contact with them, the more I realize Hillary supporters and especially her trolls that are paid for by a PR firm (one of them going public on Daily Kos) are the new undeclared right wing. Because there is absolutely no daylight between Hillary Clinton's supporters and those zombies that followed Bush a decade ago or the ones that wreak havoc on seemingly every single Trump rally. Because these disgusting and despicable (if not actually criminal) tactics are precisely what one would expect from a right wing following. Even Karl Rove, the master of political kneecapping, would never stoop so low as to use images of sexually molested children for his clients.
        Luckily for us, just like the Bushbots of a decade ago, these arrogant cunts are so fucking bloated with hubris and so fucking stupid, they make themselves easy targets of retaliation by actually bragging about their insurgent tactics. And these PR firms that hire these assholes are paid for by the Clinton campaign and are the ones that send out the marching orders and constantly change the Rules of Engagement (and they tend to get more and more vicious the closer we get to the convention). And the lead photo proves, Hillary actually has met these people or is even on friendly terms with them. She will pretend as if these Warsaw ghetto-like tactics didn't happen last night much less decry them. Because if Clinton were to decry them, that could conceivably connect her to these tactics.
         And in case you have any lingering doubts as to whether Hillary is a right winger, note that she and Trump as well as over 285,000 tax-dodging corporate entities share the same address in Wilmington, Delaware. Yes, Hillary Clinton's a tax dodger. Surprise, surprise.
         But these tactics done on her behalf by these political terrorists should be remembered even past this election day. Just remember this when you go to the polls in any of the five states holding primaries.Keep in mind that Clinton's won just two primary states in the last 10 contests and they're both being investigated for electoral fraud.

    Monday, April 25, 2016

    A Humble PSA

    Good Times at Pottersville, 4/25/16

    Sunday, April 24, 2016

    The Internet Makes the World Small...

         ...and it also tends to make the minds on it even smaller.
         After blocking his IP Address when his stalking again reached epic proportions on, appropriately, April Fool's Day, it seemed I'd finally shaken this parasite off my butt for good. But this is Joseph David Chadwick we're talking about here, a professional shit bird and jailbird who hasn't held an honest job since getting booted out of the Army almost a decade ago. He's a "man", and I'm forced to resort to strictly biological terms as the ordinary criteria of what comprises a man's character is, tragically, lacking in Pal Joey's case, who is only too glad to sponge off his 85 year-old grandma Sylvia in Honeyville for his bread and butter. $2000 a month worth of bread and butter, that is. Being a grandson is nice work if you can get it.
         Then today I saw a comment with the usual moniker SRD (for Sugar Ray Dodge or Seriously Retarded Degenerate) and I now see the gloves have to come off.
         Actually, I'm really quite surprised that Sugar Ray can pull his hands off his withered penis long enough while jerking off to the shrine he's set up around his laptop devoted to WWE wrestler Becky Lynch to devote any time to stalking and harassing me. Think of that harmless but still creepy little freakazoid stalker in The Bodyguard who stalked Whitney Houston's character Rachel Marron, jerked off all over her bed, kept a shrine to her in his work locker but still posed no threat.
         Well, Pal Joey may not be that harmless because he has written to Ms. Lynch through the WWE and, as we all know, this is how it starts. Then he gets resentful she won't return his affections much less his correspondence and next thing you know he's jacking off in her privet hedges when she isn't body-slamming people on the road.
         And Joey seems to have a confused notion as to what is required of an anarchist. In my mind, as I've come to understand the definition of the word, an anarchist is someone who hates the government but wishes to replace it with nothing of value but angry blog posts. It certainly doesn't require fellating Donald Rumsfeld with a Jeff Gannon-like agenda and throwing him softball questions that he's only too glad to lazily swat at. Anarchism also doesn't involve writing letters to Rush Limbaugh bitching about liberals or bragging about seeing Bush from a distance during one of his Special Needs public appearances.
         Pal Joey also doesn't seem to understand the concept of the internet and how it makes the world a much smaller place and that if you've been around long enough, there will be people on that internet who know you in the real world and that some of them won't like you because you are an incurable, stalkerish, right wing, obsessive-compulsive douchebag. It also means that if you set one toe into the internet, that one little toe will result in a footprint for guys like me to find.
         Then again, that trait seems to run in at least that generation of the Chadwick family line as his own brother's marriage messily imploded in public at an amusement park in Utah called The Lagoon in which Joe's sister in law told his twin that she was fucking another guy and that she wanted a divorce (email me and I'll show you the court documents from the divorce.).
         Fittingly, Joey's Army career abruptly came to its merciful terminus after getting sent to the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland where (and I'm merely citing this as a coincidence and not at all suggesting this is the cause for Joey's behavior) they did LSD testing on soldiers during the 60's.
         Sometime between the ignominious end of his Army career and his equally ignominious career as a wouldbe Mike Nelson of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fame, he orchestrated a phone bank scam whereby he masterminded an incredibly illegal scheme that involved calling people on the National Do Not Call List, a scheme that not only got his company FFFF in hot water to the tune of $700,000 in fines but also his own termination.
         So you see, Pal Joey's already got a history of stalking and harassing people who don't wish to hear from him and, then as now, he didn't give a shit. Because the law apparently doesn't apply to right wingers and psychopaths (or am I being tautological?).
         Now, Joseph obviously still persists in believing that yours truly doesn't or can't do research, that he's playing keep away from a doddering old fool in his ongoing game of Blind Man's Bluff and nothing could be further from the truth. After all, research is part of what I do for a living.
         So, Joey pal o' mine, this is just to let you know you've finally woken the sleeping bear. Pretty soon, I'll make you more famous than you already are or will at least be enjoying a greater degree of notoriety than your pathetic and wholly ignored abilities have garnered for you.
         So here's what I'm gonna do:
         Once I put to bed my current project, I'm going to start a contemporary thriller about an Iraq War vet who comes home to Utah whereby a series of stalkings and murders begin roiling sleepy little Weber County. But is it our war "hero" who just got a Section 8 or his equally mentally disturbed and cuckolded twin brother? You'll have to read it to find out.
         Now, people, what should I name these characters? Suggestions?

    Makes Yourselves Half Black Like Me

         So, President Barry has finally gotten around to mentioning the Black Lives Matter movement on the international stage but in doing so, he had to say something predictable:
         He said during a Town Hall in London they "can't just keep on yelling” about the issues they want to change (like the Teabaggers he refused to criticize during their chaotic and often violent Town Halls in the summer of '09 when ObamaCare was being debated). He also said, just as predictably, they need to "compromise." As in settling for only half the annual average shooting deaths of unarmed black men? Maybe, like Michael Jackson, bleaching their skin to a less objectionable shade?
         It's another unfortunate coincidence that on that very same day, KKK sympathizers and other white supremacists held a rally at Stone Mountain in Georgia in advance of a confederate holiday that's observed in several redneck states. The police were there in full riot gear but not to pummel the right wing hate groups but to protect them. Several Black Lives Matter protesters were beaten and even arrested by Georgia Law enforcement, essentially shutting down the mountain.
         I would think that Obama, being a former community activist himself, would have sympathy and insight into another community activist movement that was born and bred out of what is obviously an epidemic of fatal police shootings (almost always with impunity) of unarmed African Americans. But he doesn't so he needs to shut the fuck up if he can't add anything substantive and insightful into the dialogue.
         Obama's mantra of compromise has gotten him, his administration and most of the American people absolutely nowhere. Kowtowing to the racist GOP had resulted in a clusterfuck of a watered down abomination called the Affordable Care Act, which is just a massive gateway to the health care free market, forced health care with a mandate without anything even remotely resembling a realistic public option.
         Compromise with these right wing lunatics on Capitol Hill cost us another $350 billion as the second half of the bailout got handed out to banks and the auto industry with no strings attached whatsoever. It put us on the hook for one tax cut after another for the 1% that also got us nowhere but further in debt.
         And Black Lives Matter activists now, according to our conciliatory President, need to avoid Angry Black Man Syndrome at all costs and to "stop yelling." Let's examine why they're yelling so loudly:
         They're yelling because even as teenagers and children such as Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and 12 year-old Tamir Rice are shot and killed by white men for no earthly reason and with utter impunity, racists in this country still twist their little minds to justify how "the little thugs" deserved to get killed even to the point of posting fake photographs of the victims which still don't justify their public executions.
         And Black Lives Matter did not become the potent national movement it is today because all they do is yell. They're holding the feet of politicians and law enforcement to the fire and addressing a problem that really hasn't gone away as a lot of white people comfort themselves into thinking: That lynching still occurs. We've just substituted hemp for lead. And all too many of us including, apparently, our President still doesn't think this is a very serious problem or is one that can be effectively addressed off the street in climate controlled conference rooms.
         No, it cannot. Movements such as Black Lives Matters needs to be taken to the streets because it is in the streets that these crimes against their own at the hands of racist law enforcement are taking place. That's not to say the movement should stay on the streets forever but that is where it must begin and begin to be heard, literally at the scenes of the crime.
         Obama doesn't get that and never will. And that's why he needs to shut the fuck up about Black Lives Matter. If he's not part of the solution, then he's plainly part of the problem.

    Wednesday, April 20, 2016

    Schadenfreude, Y'all

         There's a delicious, savage irony to Jack Lew announcing today that Harriet Tubman, who once staged a lengthy sit in for $20, will be replacing Andrew Jackson on the 20 dollar bill. Most people are all for the idea that an African American and the first woman in a century will be getting their face on US currency for the first time. Naturally, not all are on board with it and, gee, they tend to be Christian libertarian "patriots" who aren't too thrilled with the fact that an old white slave-owning southern man who subjugated people of color is being replaced with a female black abolitionist. Talk about a Trail of Crocodile Tears.

         Personally, I hope the Tubman 20 looks like this:

    Saturday, April 16, 2016

    Publish and Perish

         Back in 2013, the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society commissioned a study of nearly 2500 working writers of various ages, genres and backgrounds to determine what these writers earned. Carried out by Queen Mary, the University of London, the results were shocking but hardly surprising.
         Although it was a study of UK-based writers' earnings, it seems to jibe with what I've been hearing from my excommunication at the peripheries of the publishing biz on this side of the pond. Essentially, the University of London study found that median incomes for authors both independent and published by their version of the Big Five are making 29% less than they were just a decade ago. Not only that, 80% of those indie and traditionally-published authors make just £1000 ($1,420.20 in today's dollars) per annum.
         Keep in mind, that includes authors for legacy publishers, which, as with their American counterparts, strenuously refuse to read anything thrown over the transom and insist on doing business only with writers through their literary agents. But if the median income for the bottom 80% is £1000 (and 17%, the study found, made no money from their writing), then remind me again why we need literary agents?
         And the current trends in author compensation eerily mirror those of laborers working nine to five jobs and seems to be all of a piece. There's a corporation named A Hold that owns a large chain of supermarkets all over New England. Most if not all of these stores are closed shops, meaning you either have to belong to the union or quit or get fired. Most of Stop 'n' Shop's employees, for example, make minimum wage ($10 ph here in MA) and get nothing to pennies on the dollar for raises. The health care benefits are negligible and while the union pretends to shadow box with A Hold every few years and makes impotent threats to strike over health care or some other issue, the union members still make minimum wage.
         The union dues are especially galling (Over $8 a week, I last heard). While proving year after year of being unable or unwilling to get more than an unlivable minimum wage and tepid benefits for their members, the "union" has a sweetheart deal whereby the individual stores even helpfully siphon from the workers' paychecks the union dues and sends them directly to the union. If that doesn't bespeak of a collusive relationship between corporate management and this "union", then nothing will. It seems the union's only goal is in making money and collective bargaining and getting fair contracts for their members is, at best, of secondary or tertiary importance.
         We're seeing exactly the same thing with literary agents and their dealings with publishers. Alfred A. Knopf, a true book man if there ever was one, once likened dealing with a literary agent to having "a knife at one's throat." If literary agents must be part of the equation, then that's the way it ought to be. The agent should fight tooth and nail for their clients and try to extract as much money from the publisher as possible. But these days, we're seeing something very different. Contrary, even.
         It's the same set up that you see with wishy washy unions in bed with corporations and promising to extract nothing more harmful than wishy washy "concessions", such as dooming workers to endless serfdom through government-mandated minimum wages but paying the union out of earnings as if they had the union to thank for making that minimum wage. Agents count as their best friends some of the biggest editors and publishing executives in the business. They regularly have lunch together at the Four Seasons, where countless book deals have been hashed out.
         As an example of how collusive is the relationship between your typical agent and typical publisher:
         Getting nowhere with agents, I decided to submit my hostage negotiation thriller The Toy Cop directly to VP Judith Curr at Atria (an imprint of Simon & Schuster). She was intrigued with it enough so that she agreed to read the entire book. Within minutes, she sent me another email telling me she just happened to have lunch just yesterday with a literary agent buddy of hers named Victoria Sanders. She added she'd be emailing me within minutes to request the full novel. This immediately set off warning bells.
         When the usual process is inverted and a publisher tries to find an agent for an author, it looks more like a collusive kickback scheme than ever. To make matters more awkward, Sanders had just 10 days before rejected American Zen with a terse form rejection letter. Not looking for an agent this time, I nonetheless asked Curr, "Who else do you know?" I told Sanders I had no intention of hiring her to be my employee on account of the shocking lack of respect she had systematically shown my work and I refused to send her The Toy Cop.
         Not surprisingly, Curr passed on the book weeks later with a perfunctory summary, having since long ago kicked it downstairs to a flunky who also rejected it. In other words, when Curr realized I was not going to help her safeguard the interests of her buddy Sanders, she immediately lost interest in my novel.
         This is a pretty typical example of how things run in this filthy, collusive, massive, undeclared kickback scheme known as publishing. Why everyone who takes part in this collusion isn't rotting in federal prison for violating the RICO statutes is beyond me. It's a protection racket except the thing they're protecting isn't the interests of their authors but the interests of their buddies in the literary agencies that are part of this kickback scheme. And, like gangsters, publishers essentially tell authors, "Nice literary property ya got here. Shame if (sniff)... nuttin' happened to it."
         No agent, no deal.
         Now, agents make 15% of what authors make but agents typically have a stable of clients that, in the most extreme cases, can number over 100 authors. That's a lot of pelf and it's not unheard of for a high-powered agent to make more money than any one of their clients. And if authors in the UK are making 29% less than they were a decade ago, it's not much a stretch to assume this trend working to the disadvantage of authors also applies in the US. Agents are making more money than ever, publishers are, despite slowing book sales, making more than ever through the firing of employees and closing down entire offices. Yet authors are making nearly a third less than they were in 2003.
         Again, remind me why we need the literary agent?
         Indie authors like me need to flex our muscle. The year the ALCS study was commissioned, it was discovered that self-published authors accounted for 23% of book sales in the US. That's not to say we make 23% of the $25 billion slice of the pie because we often slash the cover price of our books in a desperate attempt to stay competitive. But three years ago, we accounted for nearly a quarter of all book sales.

         Barnes & Noble, are we paying attention?
         The B&N bookstore chain is the red-headed stepchild and the abusive stepfather is Jeff Bezos, the worst thing to ever happen to publishing since Nazis discovered books can burn. With the death of its sibling, Borders, Inc. a few years ago, that leaves B&N as the only child, one so abused and battered by Bezos' Amazon that's a miracle it's still alive, albeit on some mysterious life support.
         Despite indie authors accounting for 23% or more of all US book sales, B&N ignorantly and arrogantly refuses to even entertain the possibility of carrying self published books regardless of their literary merit and professional execution because of this antebellum-style bigotry against self-published authors. It isn't just them. This ignorant prejudice against indie authors is universally held up as part of the zeitgeist by publishers, literary agents, book critics and reviewers, authors and, yes, even book buyers.

         It's been a successful, albeit sleazy propaganda campaign designed by the Big Five publishers to ensure people remain loyal to their brands and various imprints and not to go after "Brand X."
         Not helping our own cause is the plethora of self-published authors who madly flung themselves on the bandwagon of desktop publishing eight or so years ago, publishing biographies of their great aunt Minnie who lived on the plains, propaganda, pornography and boiler plate novels you wouldn't keep in your bathroom. And, at first glance, it would seem the naysayers and literary snobs have a point when they say self published material is horrible. Often, they're poorly-written, poorly-formatted, poorly-proofread and edited and feature cover art done by rank amateurs.
         But that doesn't mean we should all be crowded into the same leaky life raft. And Barnes & Noble, struggling to establish and keep a customer base and otherwise fighting Amazon's relentless onslaught against authors (as well as publishers and book buyers) ought to pay attention to that 23% of all book sales figure I'd mentioned.
         What indie writers need is an organization that's part sales/publicity/placement oriented. Ingram's, the world's largest book distributor, plainly is not up to the task as they're similarly disinterested in pushing to get indie titles into Barnes & Nobles. We need a powerful organization to reach B&N executives, literary agents and reviewers (who by and large are fellow authors) and get them to accept independent books into their inventories and careers, even if only on a trial basis at first.
         All books are sold on consignment. That is a fact. Publishers rent shelf space at book stores as well as the "prime real estate" in the lobby beyond the front door in which the publisher wants their flashiest displays set up. The business being as ruthless as it is, books are routinely sent back to the shredders and pulpers in as little as 3-4 weeks if they don't hit the ground running. Even in legacy publishing, 90% of books fail, setting up the temptation of basket accounting, in which the sales from a successful book are siphoned to prop up the sales of a failing book.
         We need to impress upon them the fact that perhaps they can't maintain a customer base not just because Amazon offers better deals through predatory, deep-cutting discounts that harm both publisher and author alike but perhaps they're not seeing paperbacks by fresh faces, names and voices. Give the people what they want and they will come out for it, as the old show business adage says. Barnes & Noble could prove to be our salvation as we could prove to be their salvation. Otherwise, it makes absolutely no sense to refuse to offer in the real world something your competitor is offering in cyberspace.
         Carrying titles by independent authors would empower us so we would have more bargaining power and start earning the money the more talented of us deserve to make.
         And, to any nay-saying ladies reading this, here's another factoid from the University of London study: Female authors, as with everywhere else in the workplace, make only 80% their male counterparts make.

    Tuesday, April 12, 2016

    Beverly Cleary Turns 100

    (By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari.)
    OK, time for a palate cleanser. We need it during this sick, twisted election cycle.
         As some of you may know, children's book author Beverly Cleary turns 100 today. This is a big, hairy deal for anyone who grew up with Cleary's Ribsy, Henry Huggins and Ramona Quimby books while growing up in the 50's, 60's and 70's.
         I first discovered Ms. Cleary during the mid-late 60's through those corrupt and collusive book clubs that shoehorned their order forms directly to our elementary school and made sure our teachers brow beat us into buying at least one or two from the catalog, which of course our parents would have to buy. We never thought to say no because this was just the way things were. It was set in stone like the Ten Commandments. Thou Shalt Buyeth One Book From Column A and One From Column B! So Sayeth Scholastic!
         So, faced with a hard choice and very resentful at being told I must purchase through my father's equally unwilling tribute to the nation's publishing juggernaut, I bought Ribsy, the sixth and final entry in the Henry Huggins series. In fact, the one shown above is the exact same edition I'd (or Dad) bought. I loved dogs and I figured, how could I go wrong?
         Well, it was like meeting your wife during a blind date set up by one of your well-meaning but misguided friends. Ribsy and his owner Henry Huggins were two delightful characters who came right out of Main Street, USA. As children's books are the quintessential Coming of Age Tales, I immediately identified with the kids in Cleary's books because she could have been writing about me, the kids across the street or anyone with whom I went to school. The kids thought the way we did, making typical juvenile observations (one character in Ribsy was described as fat, sweaty and, to boot, he "smelled funny.")
         And that was the essence of Cleary's widespread and enduring appeal (Her publisher, in celebration of her 100th birthday, issued a three book set of Cleary's work, launching the centenarian scribe clear into the digital age where hopefully she will continue to reach children still yet to be born). Harry Potter has his readership for those who love wizards and magic and Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys will always have fans among those who love cozy, harmless mysteries where the characters never suffer a worse fate than getting tied up and missing supper.
         But Cleary's world is of a bygone age of innocence, one portraying children the way they really were. It's inevitable that Cleary's work would suffer and get dog-eared with time. She is, after all, 100 and published her first book when Truman was president, before the start of the Korean War, before the Hydrogen Bomb, when there were more radios in American households than televisions. One story details woolen underwear, which sounds like something out of Dickens. In response to this, her publisher in reprints tries to make it more relevant by updating the bicycles and helmets to resemble something more relevant to today. But despite these upgrades, you know the bikes still have cards in the spokes and Henry Huggins still has a paper route.
         And the anachronisms that date Cleary's books (which are now approaching 100,000,000 in sales worldwide) is what, curiously, makes her relevant again. They were written during those more carefree days when child abduction and domestic violence weren't serious concerns, before we had to teach our kids about Stranger Danger, before they were hooked on drugs or arrested and brutalized in the classroom by police for little or nothing and sent to for-profit corporate prisons by crooked judges making millions in kickbacks.
         Cleary's children never had to worry about those things and neither did their largely invisible parents. They were allowed to act and talk just like typical kids. Even the Red Menace or the completely useless Atom Bomb drills never played a part in Henry Huggins' or Ramona Quimby's safe little universe. A boy's best friend was still his dog and girls weren't bullied for being tomboys or "different."
         Sure, kids were bullied back in my day and every generation going back to the dawn of human history has had them. Sure, there were dangers to children. But Cleary never dwelled on those things and never attempted to write a "message" book intended to impart a point of view whether out of political correctness or private bias.
         It's plain Cleary has long since joined the ranks of other great children's book authors such as Beatrix Potter, A.A. Milne and, yes, J.K.Rowling. Her story lines were, by necessity, simple and quotidian yet never boring, giving the readers a glimpse and confirmation that their childhood was normal, giving children the comforting feeling that, yes, these books are about you and you're perfectly OK.
         Messages the kids of today and forever need to hear a lot more often from grownups.

    Thursday, April 7, 2016

    Life is What Gets in the Way When You're Trying to Blog
 paraphrase John Lennon.
         While surfing in to my own little back yard pool here at P'ville today, I was mildly horrified to see I haven't added anything here since April Fool's Day or one solid week. It's not as if I haven't had any material with which to work.
         The Wisconsin primary, won by Sens Sanders and Cruz on their respective sides, was just a reprise of the incredibly corrupt bullshit we saw in Arizona.
         Hillary is still pretending as if she's going to actually legitimately win the nomination despite losing six consecutive primaries and caucuses to Sanders and essentially letting the Superdelegates (Of which Slick Willie is one) steal the nomination for her.  A two and a half million popular vote lead? Nice try, bitch. Not only is the popular vote non-determinative in deciding the presidency, but the popular vote figures deliberately don't include caucuses.
         Notoriously redneck state Tennessee, famous only for whiskey, horse racing and being on the wrong side of the Scopes Monkey Trial, proudly leaped on the wrong side of history again with an anti LGBT religious liberty bill that strives to be even more unnecessarily cruel than its counterparts in Mississippi, Indiana and North Carolina.
         All this and the biggest news of all:
         Professional stalker John Chadwick still doesn't have a life.
         Well, there are several reasons for this unusually long silence:
         First off, I've had car problems. Some of you may recall that last month I drove over a curb to avoid getting cut off and hit and I ruined both the inner & outer front tie rods. I brought the car into the shop last Friday and when I picked it up on Saturday, not only could they not get the requisite front end alignment done even through a subcontractor, but somehow my exhaust system, which was perfectly quiet just the day before, was making an awful rumbling sound. Naturally, the owner claims my front exhaust pipe just committed suicide on the only night of the year my car was at his shop. Earliest I can get that fixed: Tomorrow.
         Secondly, after a months-long hiatus, I'm going full tilt on Blue Blood,  the sequel to Gods of Our Fathers, and I'm never one to walk away from a hot streak. I'd also been working with my graphic designer of late to revise the cover for Blue Blood and I think it's turned out well.
         Third, after rallying last week, by this weekend Mrs. JP had relapsed with a vengeance and I've been running around getting holistic remedies for her since we can't get on Obamacare to (literally) save our lives.
         After chasing down someone to whom I'd generously lent $175 in four installments, it looks as if I'll have to take another scumbag to Small Claims Court (at my expense, naturally) and that's unnecessarily galling and time-consuming.
         Plus, baseball season started on Tuesday. That's always good for 3-4 hours a day out of my life on game days.
         Add to that the normal running around and pragmatic activities such as bill-paying, chasing my slumlord to fix the oven that shit the bed on Easter, fixing other things in the house and getting a lease to replace the one that expired way back last February, that leaves precious little time for blogging.
         As always, any cash left over from your tax refunds you can spare for the cause would be tremendously appreciated. As a standing offer, anyone donating $25 or more will get on request a free copy of any of my paperbacks.

    Friday, April 1, 2016

    From the Mailbag and Right Back Atcha

         From faithful reader CC comes an interesting, if wrong-headed article from a so-called scholar of history who seems to glorify the Founding Fathers as being virtuous men of principle who were never once troubled by a single thought tainted by personal political ambition. At times, my responses get the better of me and rise to the level of blog-worthiness.

         Well, what did you expect from a Reagan biographer?
         It's pretty telling that this right winger in this pious encomium is still carrying water for the elitist (Elitists as models of governance to the right wing? Oh, horrors!), property and slave-owning merchants and gentleman farmers who conveniently left out women and black people when crafting our shining beacon of freedom and democracy. Why, politics in a Democratic Republic is much too serious an affair to be left to the unwashed masses, to paraphrase a certain individual.
         The original democracy set up by the Founding Fathers (and I have as a historical authority no less than David McCullough to get my back as I'm just starting JOHN ADAMS, which is my primary source of research for my third Van Zant novel) is vastly different from the one we look upon with horror and loathing today. It was an incestuous relationship across the 13 colonies as politicians created politicians by electing them through Acts of Congress and state legislatures. In reality, it looked less like a functioning democracy and more like an oligarchy and at times even looked like a reprise of the oppressive system of non-representative government from which they'd extricated the colonies.
         Taxes were around back then but the people had no voice in their destiny. In other words, taxation without representation since we would not popularly elect our first President until Andrew Jackson in 1824. And the author is right about this: The electoral college which had been in effect (albeit in a much shrunken incarnation than the bloated one we see now) acted as a final bulwark against the will of a people held in thrall.
         And in truth, these checks and balances were always proposed and enacted under the arrogant assumption that the will of the people, whose own advice and consent was neither sought nor wanted, would always be wrong. Only wealthy, educated men who'd studied governance could be counted on to make the right decisions guiding the destiny of the new nation just as children are taught to trust in good old Dad's judgment and pragmatism in handling the homestead's finances and other fortunes. As proof this is still the status quo, well over half the 535 members of Congress are millionaires or multimillionaires.
         But the Founding Fathers themselves were not infallible men. John Adams himself hated politics and was perhaps the most exempt from your mild jeremiad that all the Founding Fathers had political ambitions. He had all but retired from politics after one brief term in the MA legislature. And all throughout, he was beset by self-doubt. Washington earlier in life had sought a commission in the British army. Jefferson barely tolerated the very idea of a central government and felt the states should be on at least an equal footing with the federal government to guide their individual destinies. And, of course, many were Loyalists.
         Democracy had little to do with it. We had merely traded in an oligarchic monarchy for an oligarchic "democracy" that was wrapped in the flag and studded with hagiographies of the Founding Fathers even though it took our "democracy" nearly a half a century to permit the people to elect their own leaders. The issue of slavery during the Continental Congress in Philadelphia was paid little more than lip service by free states such as Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Delaware so as not to rile up their brethren in southern states such as North and South Carolina, Georgia and the most powerful colony of all, Virginia. They sold African Americans up the river figuratively just as they were literally and never even entertained the thought of giving women suffrage and enfranchisement.
         The electoral college, in my enduring opinion, has always been nothing more than a rotting final bulwark, a useless and destructive vestige of the Revolutionary War era that subverts the will of the people very much like Geraldine Ferraro's super delegate system that's working so handsomely for Hillary Clinton. This nation, even at its most ideal and most democratic, had always feared and loathed the will of the ordinary man on the street even though it is those men and women that wrested for us control of our national destiny from the yoke of British rule. In that respect, nothing has changed. When a candidate for President wins the popular vote and still loses the election because a dodgy, fragmented, easily massageable mess such as the Electoral College and the Super Delegate system says that they lost, something is seriously wrong. And no nation availing itself of its dubious virtues can call itself a democracy with a straight face or the slightest shred of credibility.

    I Guess Today is April Fool's Day

         After a few blissful months without seeing the IP Address (literally in a trailer park in Weber Co, Utah) in glorious abundance, today our favorite fool Sugar Ray Dodge, aka John Chadwick, has finally managed to crawl out of the open septic tank that is allegedly his life to stalk me at least 600 times today. What follows is but a tiny fraction of the hits this wouldbe man of letters had given me apparently to the exclusion of all else earlier today before I got bored and turned to more important matters:

         To any who care (and I couldn't fault you for not), his Twitter handle is @SugarRayDodge. If you have a Twitter account of your own, I'd sure appreciate it if you could go to it and block his sorry, bleeding ass. If enough of you block him, perhaps we can get this right wing miscreant suspended if not thrown off Twitter by tripping the algorithm that surely runs that site as they run all internet behemoths.
         I'll be doing some things on my own end to put this matter to rest once and for all, starting with placing another call to the Weber County Sheriff's department in Utah.

    KindleindaWind, my writing blog.

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