Archives - May 2004

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May 21, 2004

Reality Check

This is day what, 21, of the Iraqi prison abuse scandal. Fingers are pointing everywhere: the intelligence community did it...renegade GI's with no supervision...Delta Force operators having some fun...SEALs just carrying out orders from the president himself...blah blah blah.

You want to know what I think about the Iraqi prison abuse scandal?

I don't give a shit if they abused Iraqi prisoners. I don't care if they beat them, humiliated them, or even *&%@ing killed them.

Okay, now that my feelings are known, I'll explain. First, a little quote from Shakespeare:

Cry "Havoc," and let slip the dogs of war.

This is from Julius Caesar. Metaphorical meanings aside, the dogs Shakespeare is referring to are quite literally, dogs. War dogs. Now imagine the war dogs of the ancient times, not the war dogs of today. These weren't highly-trained explosive-sniffing animals; these were killers. Born and bred to seek out and find the enemy and rip him to pieces. They were often starved and beaten before battle so they'd be in a really bad mood. At the appropriate time, hundreds of such dogs would be unleashed and sent toward the enemy lines. The "havoc" that ensued would break the morale and discipline of even the most hardened infantry unit. And the main thing about these dogs is, you can't call them back after you let them go.

Now, I'm not calling our soldiers dogs. What I am saying is that we trained these men and women to do a job. An unpleasant job that entails crossing over the lines of legality, of restraint, of decency, and morality. War is war. The Geneva Conventions are sweet, but there are times when the conventions must be broken. We let slip our dogs of war, and they got the goddamned job done.

We owe the remarkable success of the U.S. military, from the first days of the Afghanistan campaign to the current conflict with various forces in Iraq, to the very people who are now being criticized for their tactics. The intelligence people saw a psychological weakness in Muslim men, and they exploited it. To these men, the fear of being humiliated sexually is a better information-getter than a 500,000 volt cattle prod up the wazoo. Do you think the military rooted-out thousands of Taliban and Al Queda operators in Afghanistan by offering their captured comrades a Diet Coke or a pack of Lucky Strikes? No. They tortured them psychologically and probably physically as well. This is the nature of war we SUV-driving, Sex In The City-watching, get my nails done on Thursday, and watch the big game on Sunday Americans just don't want to acknowledge. At least some Americans.

If we can't stomach the ugly side of war, we will lose it. Some people say we shouldn't be in Iraq in the first place. My view is that every "gimme my 99 virgins and praise Allah" zealot we kill over there is one less mother *&%!er who won't come over here and blow up a school bus. Every cache of weapons we blow up is one less cache that will wind up in a "gimme my 99 virgins and praise Allah" training camp or in a cargo container in the port of San Diego, disguised as a shipment of DVD players.

So there's my political rant of the day, take it or leave it. If you believe as I do, show your support for the troops, for the Delta Force guys, the CIA, the SEALs, and all those other hard mother &(^$ers over there doing what we sent them to do.

*****

May 19, 2004

Too Stupid to Breed

I love weird news stories. One doesn't need to read fiction to get a dose of the unusual; there's plenty enough weirdness in the real world. Sometimes I see patterns in these stories. Here are some stories I've run across that fit the "too stupid to breed" pattern.

This is a big story today. Seems some revelers at an Iraqi wedding party did the customary wedding ritual we've seen before in the Middle East:

Iraqis interviewed on the videotape said partygoers had fired into the air in a traditional wedding celebration. American troops have sometimes mistaken celebratory gunfire for hostile fire.

Yeah, that's the thing to do at your wedding party WHILE YOU ARE SURROUNDED BY THOUSANDS OF ARMED AND NERVOUS SOLDIERS IN THE MIDDLE OF A WAR ZONE.

Here's another weiner. Seems a guy visiting the zoo in Albuquerque got a little too close to the jaguar cage. This Kitty Chow Dumbass was seen running from the zoo trailing blood. Police tracked him down at his house, where he admitted losing a digit to the quick-biting feline. He had been seen lurking around this jaguar's cage many times, sometimes daily...and had been cautioned not to try to pet the critter. The zoo says it is going to revoke his privileges. Poor kitty; I think he wanted a second helping.

Here's one about a burglar in Florida. Here's the M.O. of this waste of talent :

The thief squeezes down ventilation shafts or kitchen vents, or smashes a small hole through a wall, to get in. He or she normally grabs cash, cigarettes and food. The robber has eaten a watermelon, a mango and even cooked a meal at one restaurant...

Now, if I had the skills and time and audacity to pull off a felony burglary, you wouldn't catch me in a fast food joint or a convenience store stealing cigarettes and watermelons. You'd find my skinny ass in the middle of a Bank of America with a duffel bag in one hand and a crowbar in the other. Hell, at least you'd find me in a Denney's.

Then there's the story of the ranch hand in Poland who got too close to a Horny horse who was in the middle of mating. Horny boy bit the ranch hand in the neck and killed his ass. I guess the ranchhand forgot Rule #1 of animal husbandry:

Don't @!#* with a horse while he's gettin' some.

Last but not least, my favorite. These people need a Showtime subscription . This couple went to the doctor to find out why they weren't getting pregnant. After a battery of tests, the doctors determined that they were both healthy and fertile. The doctor asks them how often they had sex. Their reply was basically, "What's sex?" Seems this well-educated and otherwise normal married couple didn't know the basic biology of reproduction. Quoting one of the doctors:

We are not talking retarded people here...

Uh, you're not? How can you live in a western society replete with sexual images, sexual talk, sexual media, sex sex sex sex sex and more sex and not know about SEX? Well, the couple is off to a crash course in bumpin' uglies, courtesy I'm sure of their health insurance company. This is so they can procreate and make more little ignorant dumbasses like themselves.

*****

May 17, 2004

Ode to Sugarmama

One of my favorite bloggers, Sugarmama, has decided to take a hiatus. I miss her sardonic wit and her Southern attitude. I'm having a sugar withdrawal.

So in honor of Ms. Sugar, I wrote a little limerick:

There was a young lady we know;

The Sugar she gave us a show.

But she bid us farewell

For how long we can't tell,

So we're stuck now

with just Sweet-N-Low.

Hurry back, Sugarmama.

*****

May 16, 2004

Laziness and Hollywood

Spent the last few days working on a new screenplay. Yeah, I know I last reported that I was working on a novel, but I changed my mind and picked up the screenplay again. Wrote 20 pages this weekend. I've found that I can write screenplays at about 5 pages per hour when I get to typing it. About 5 times faster than I can write a novel. But if you look at a screenplay, about 75% of the page is blank.

Spring is here and the smell of cut grass is in the air. I hate the smell. I can remember cutting grass all the way back to when I was a little kid. Even when I was too small to push a lawn mower, I was expected to pull weeds during the weekly mowing chore. My brother usually got saddled with the actual mowing. He kind of liked it, though, and actually turned it into a job in junior high. But I still remember kneeling by the edge of the house, dodging spiders as big as dinner plates while I pulled the tough St. Augustine runners away from the foundation (weed-whackers hadn't been invented yet).

My dad gave me a little toy lawn mower when I was about four. I think he did it to encourage my sense of lawn maintenance, kind of like some dads take their sons to Boys Town when they turn 14 so they can be assured the son will like girls. I remember pushing it around behind my dad when he mowed; it made lawn mower noise as you pushed it. Even at age four, I felt the whole enterprise was a royal waste of time.

When I bought my first house, I was Joe Yard Man for awhile. My front yard looked like a golf green. But I soon wised up and let the grass go to hell, mowing it only when forced by threats from the neighbors to call code enforcement officers. Then I started getting plagued with horrendous sore throats; like, it hurts so bad I lose 5 pounds from not eating kind of pain. They lasted nearly two weeks. I had every test in the world run on me, trying to find the cause. They thought it was everything from strep to herpes, but all tests were negative. Then I noticed a correlation between my grass-mowing and the sore throats. I would mow, then in a few days, I'd get a sore throat. It would heal up just in time to, yes, mow the yard again.

I'm allergic to grass.

Halleluja!!! I now have a legitimate excuse to not cut the &$?!ing yard.

The first yard guy I hired was excellent; he was cheap and did a meticulous job. He cut the grass for about a year. Then one day I looked into his local - and public, I might add - criminal record. I finally knew where he learned his meticulous lawn care skills: in prison.

He was on parole for TWO murders. And he didn't kill the guys at the same time; he killed one then the other when he got out on bond. Upon learning this, I wanted to fire him. But then, I really didn't want to; he was damn good yard guy. And being a multiple murderer, I really didn't want to piss him off, either. Fate intervened and he disappeared.

My next yard guy was an elderly gentleman who did a good job, but he really had a hard time cutting the yard when the temperatures soared like they always do. He got to where he would call me and say it was too hot to mow. Since it is 100+ degrees for about 3 months of the growing season here, my yard was three feet tall most of the time. When he would finally show up, he labored behind the mower trying to cut through the thick weeds. I would watch him through the window, with my phone in hand ready to dial 911. He finally had a heart attack - not in my yard, thank God - and I had to get another yard guy.

My new yard guy is named Juan and he doesn't habla English very good. But he does a good job, even though his physical condition is questionable sometimes when he shows up at my house. I once asked him if he wanted some water, and he replied, "No thanks; I had a few beers before I got here." Nice.

So now that I've inhaled my neighbor's yard clippings, I need to go take an Allegra before I go to bed in order to avoid a sore throat later on. Thank God for advanced pharmaceuticals.

*****

May 11, 2004

Bling Bling

I am impressed by technological achievement. Although that part of my brain doesn't work that well, I can appreciate the creative genius that is behind many of our modern industrial achievements. Like this one: a masterpiece of design and function. Only the finest minds in our country could come up with this one. The greatest metallurgists and engineers of our time planned and built it. Thousands of hours in advanced training at MIT and Cal Tech were its genomes. It is art and function at the highest level. Take a look.

A friend of mine, a very German friend of mine, says things like this are just Social Darwinism at its finest. He believes that expensive blingblings like this are a way to separate the weak-minded of our society (of all races, genders, and backgrounds, I might add) from their money. And since money is the root of all power, both collectively and individually, items like the HIPNOTIC wheel are a very slick way of separating fools from their money, thereby stripping them of any chance of true parity with pro-social people. He has a point. A set of these wheels and tires would cost someone over $10,000. In searching for other spinner wheels, which seem to be the new Holy Grail of trash consumerism, I didn't find any that were less than $700 per wheel. A set would be around $3,000 including the tires. Let's split the two and say a young fellow buys a set of wheels for $6,500 (a sum that my German friend says ultimately winds up in the bank accounts of pro-social suburban corporate types).

My German friend says one thing that disenfranchises the weak-minded and anti-social of our society is a lack of education. I thought I'd test his theory:

This set of wheels equals the tuition for 209 semester hours at our local community college. An Associate of Applied Science Degree at that institution is just 64 semester hours. The local state university charges $48 per semester hour. The set of wheels would pay for 135 hours. Total number of hours needed to obtain a degree in Aerospace Engineering at that college: 130.

My German friend believes that we should use not only these legal methods of destroying the anti-social and weak-minded of our society, we should permit and even encourage the use of extra-legal and even illegal methods to destroy them not only economically and educationally, but psychologically and spiritually as well. He loves the illegal drug problem. He sees it as the ultimate social weedwhacker; a chemical blingbling that not only destroys the weak economically, but in every other way as well. And it does it quickly and absolutely; murder, suicide, prison, premature death...those elements of the drug culture are merely a symptom of society cleaning itself, like ants piling up the bodies of their dead outside the mound so they won't rot inside.

When I asked him about the ripple effect of their destruction on the rest of us, the rest of our society, he said that our society could absorb it and survive; we would build enough prisons to separate them from us, hire enough police to hold the line against anarchy, and otherwise turn their destruction into a revenue-generating machine that would employ the pro-social.

So that's my blingbling story of the day. If you take offense to this, don't get miffed at me; there really is a German friend of mine out there. And if you believe he's the only one who thinks like this, think again.

*****

May 10, 2004

Movies and other stuff

Went to see a film this weekend: Godsend. I have one word to describe it.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

Good acting, good script. Awful story. A plot right from a new Outer Limits. Been done before, been done better. Save your money.

It's hard to see a good movie these days. They're all so predictable. The formula is part of the problem; the formula that Hollywood demands. Next time you're watching a movie, especially one that was made in the last couple of decades, look at the clock. When the movie itself starts, not the opening credits, but when the movie actually gets going, note the time. At exactly 10 to 11 minutes, the problem the actors must confront during the rest of the film will be shown. In Godsend, it occurred at exactly 11 minutes; the doctor proposed to the couple that he could clone their dead son. That is exactly the 11th page in the script. On other pages in the script, and in the corresponding minutes of the film, there are at least five other points where things MUST happen. Thus, all modern movies are predictable in that way. Things will happen when they ARE TO HAPPEN. What happens in between is more or less irrelevant at times. Originality is often sacrificed just to make sure the plot follows the formula.

So that's why I don't drop a lot of money these days at the movie theater.

Now on to other things. Received a few emails from people congratulating me on the blogiversary. Thank you kindly.

Also received an email from the illustrious A.P. Fuchs, who read L.A. Stalker and posted a review to my B&N and Amazon pages:

Pandora Collins, one of Hollywood's most famous movie stars, has a stalker. To eliminate the threat, she hires a hitman to pop the guy. Quickly, all goes awry as the hitman delves into plans of his own, betrays Pandora, and slips away without a trace every time he strikes. Add a romantic subplot between Pandora and Jerry Leger, the detective assigned to her case, and you've got yourself a compelling read.

Kilpatrick has succeeded where only the best authors do: he tells the story to you straight and not once are you thinking "Hey, wait a sec. What happened here?" and you're forced to reread the last paragraph or two or, sometimes, even chapters. But the most important aspect of his storytelling is his ability to make you believe he knows what he's talking about and that every word you read is truth. I'm a huge fan of the small press and of self-published titles. I've said it many times, but these "lesser known" books are far more engaging and far more authentic than so much of what comes out from large publishing houses these days.

Kilpatrick has written one heck of a novel and the fact he went independent with it instead of selling out to some big name publisher (which he could easily have done), speaks of his desire to keep things simple and give you, the reader, a superb tale, an engrossing story, and an honest-to-God page-turner.

Being an author myself, it's easy for me to pick apart someone's work (I'm not saying I'm perfect, but after writing a few books, you develop an eye for "near-perfection"), and with Kilpatrick's novel, that is extraordinarily difficult to do. This story is one worth reading several times over and one that gives you a sense of comprehension of how those who have been hurt in the past grow into the adults they become, whether for good or ill.

Read.

Thanks, A.P.! He's got a new book coming out soon, so be sure and peruse his extensive web site, and if you are an indy writer or artist of any kind, be sure and buy his ebook Book Marketing for the Financially Challenged Author. It's fun and HELPFUL.

Also received an email from Milena Gomez, a young writer from Florida whom I have helped a little bit with this and that. I wrote the foreword to her first book of poetry, and lo and behold, she has another one published and yet another in the wings. Visit her site to check out her wares. She'll move on to novels now, so we'll need to keep an eye on her and give her our support.

Still working on my next novel. Oh, yeah, I think I may have told you I was working on a new screenplay. Back burner now. Gotta do the novel.

*****

May 7, 2004

Happy Anniversary

I was just updating my archives and realized that I've hit a milestone: this month is the one-year anniversary of this blog.

When I started this thing, I really didn't know where it would go. I envisioned a help site for wannabe writers like me, and it has been that. But more than that, it has become a platform from which I launch all kinds of little writing projects that are really too small to do anywhere else. It has been my bully pulpit, my social rant, and my lame attempt at entertainment, all rolled into one. I guess that's what a blog is supposed to be. Maybe not. But what the hell do I know? I'm not a true blogger by blogger definition; I don't use pre-formatted templates complete with comment loggers, guestbooks, link-makers and all those bells and whistles. It's just a simple web page, updated manually. I get about 600 hits a month on it, sometimes more and sometimes less, usually depending on if any of the big blogger pals I have out there like DaGoddess, Trailer Park Girl, or Sugarmama mentions me or if I post a comment on their blogs. One of the side-effects I wanted to create was to steer people to my main site so they could see my books. Maybe buy some. In that way, the blog has been successful, but in the small way of an indy writer.

I guess I'll keep it up awhile. It's a lot of fun most of the time. I don't set a schedule for myself regarding new posts; I just post when I want to or if I have time to. I think to try to post every day would just be too much.

So, I just want to say thanks to all of you who have visited my blog over the past year. I appreciate all the nice comments and I hope that you've come away with a few chuckles here and there to brighten up your day. I also hope that you have come away with a little understanding of what it means to be an independent writer these days. I also hope that you've gotten a little peek inside my head, and you weren't too frightened at what you saw.

Thanks again!!

*****

May 5, 2004

Justice

First, the daily dose of white trash culture:

Okay, now on to other things...

I don't write much about my day job. I actually maintain this blog and write creatively to ESCAPE my day job to some extent. Also, I respect the privacy and confidentiality of people I deal with. I believe that victims and defendants alike have the right to their privacy to the extent the law allows. I could fill this blog with anecdotes that would both amuse and disgust you, but I won't and never will. But in general terms, I don't mind telling you what I know about the system. And this is all criminal justice sytems, not just the one in which I work. I think there's a few points I need to make, especially in these days where high-profile cases flood our news.

One thing that continuously bothers me about media representation of trials and such is that they are usually skewed. Not just on the part of the newscasters and journalists, but on the courts and attorneys as well. When the cameras and press are watching every move, these entities just don't act like they usually do. But that's another story.

The first thing I want to note is that the American "innocent until proven guilty" creed is absolute bullshit. That's a term people like to bandy about in their Constitutional Law classes and over beers afterward. No one in the system believes in it. Sure, they may believe that defendants could actually be innocent of crimes they are charged with, but no one believes that a courtroom is a place where the state has to prove guilt to "beyond a shadow of a doubt." The truth is very simple; once charged, a defendant must prove himself innocent, with no doubt whatsoever. Sure, the rules of evidence are clearly in the defendant's favor in many cases, but that doesn't mean a damn thing.

In 20 years of working in the courts, I can count on two hands the number of defendants I've seen found "not guilty" by a jury or a judge in a felony case. It does happen on occasion, but it is a rare thing, and is usually seen in more minor cases such as misdemeanors and non-violent felonies like embezzlements.

The thing that wins or loses jury trials is simple: juror selection. What the defense strives for is to make sure they get one or two idiots on the panel. All it takes is one or two zealots or people with a chip on their shoulder to throw the whole deliberation out of whack. There's a phenomenon I've seen, I call it the "I wanna get out of here" syndrome which occurs at 5 o'clock when jurors look at the clock and realize they aren't sucking on the county teet any more; they're on their own time. I also call it the "Let's convict this S.O.B. so I can get home" syndrome. After all, I have to pick up my kids from soccer practice, the big game is on TV, etc. Suddenly, twelve honest citizens doing their best to perform their civic duty become a bunch of bureaucrats who want to stamp the time clock and go home. They'll cave to the demands of those one or two idiots who have been holding things up, compromising their beliefs for the sake of getting the hell out of the courthouse. By this time, even the idiots are ready to compromise even if it means their innocent defendant goes to prison. This is so common that I have to make sure that I have someone available until 5:30 every day, even when our quitting time is 4:30, for I often have to send someone to court to do what we do. If you don't think the average person can be this cold-blooded, think again.

I guess I'm laying this diatribe on you to keep this in mind in the upcoming season of celebrity-trials-on-TV. Note what Kobe, Jacko, Scott Peterson, and even Courtney Love have done; they've all hired attorneys who specialize in jury selection. O.J. did the same thing. In California, which has the absolute worst rules of criminal procedure in the free world, goofball courtroom antics will play second fiddle to facts and logic. Inflaming those one or two idiots will be the defense's main tactic. The Kobe case in Colorado may be far different; that state seems like Old West justice to me. I guess Kobe is thinking that he should have raped the girl in L.A. where his chance of acquittal would almost be guaranteed.

*****

May 4, 2004

Sizes

Women must be geniuses. How else could they keep track of their labyrinthine sytem of clothes-sizing? Trying to understand this is like the time someone tried to teach me to play bridge. My left brain shut down; it just couldn't deal with the complexities. For the benefit of my male readers, here's my take on the phenomenon.

First, there are the categories: Women's, Misses, Juniors, Plus, Petite. Then there's some sub-categories: Tall, Junior Plus, Women's Petite. The Women and Misses and Petites seem to be broken down by even numbers: 6, 8, 10, etc. But Petites can be Women's Petites or just Petites. Petites are for shorter women, but the name is a misnomer; a woman can have an ass as big as Kansas and still be "petite." Well, actually, the size ends at around 16 and I guess the wider petites have to move over to Plus Petites (?)

But sometimes, clothes can be S, M, L, XL, just like men's sizes. But the Juniors are in odd numbers, even though they might be the same size as a Woman's or Petite or whatever. Women don't buy pants that are measured; a guy buys jeans in a size based on linear measurements: 34x32 inches, for example. A woman, looking for the same thing, would buy a 6. There doesn't seem to be a vertical measure for women; I guess that's what the Petite and Misses and such categories denote: height (?) A man buys shirts by neck size and sleeve length. Women don't have that option. Do all women have the same neck-to-arm measurement ratio, or leg-to-waist ratio? They must have, since women don't get a choice of lengths. Therefore, women must all have the same length arms and legs. Or, women have to have their clothes altered a lot more than men do, at three times the price that men do. Maybe it's some kind of conspiracy.

Then there's the psychological aspect of the sizing process. The categories denote not only size, but fashion as well. Junior is young and hip; Women means you're on a slow boat to frumpsville. Misses, I think, is somewhere in between. Equivalent categories in men's sizing would be something like: Geezer and Smart-Mouth-Punk-Ass, with What-The-F***-Is-Happening-To-My-Gut? in between.

I guess in The Woman Book (you know, the one all girls get; that secret book with all the codes and rules of womanhood. We get one, too; we call ours The Man Book, but I can't talk about it here...) there's a chart to explain what is what. Girls have to memorize the chart so they know how to shop for clothes properly. Too bad The Woman Book doesn't come with a secret decoder ring like ours does.

*****

 

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