An Open Letter To Bill Kristol…

Dear Mr. Kristol:

Recently, in the Paper of Record, you wrote a piece that I may be late to the bandwagon in rebutting.  However, I finally did run across your column in June 23 New York Times while in the restroom at work yesterday.

It was a good thing I was already sitting down considering what it made me do.  Your column decried’s most recent ad about a woman worried her toddler son may have to serve in Iraq because of President McCain’s policies.  Here’s what got my blood boiling and bowels moving:

I’m not persuaded. Having slandered a distinguished general officer, MoveOn has now moved on to express contempt for all who might choose to serve their country in uniform.

So if a parent worries that their son will be involved in an endless war, which, you must admit, your candidate is not doing a good job persuading us we won’t be, it’s contempt for those who serve in uniform.

Mr. Kristol, you are so full of what I was leaving in the toilet when I read your column that it’s a wonder you’re not wearing diapers.  Frankly, I resent your comment.  I am a new stepdad.  And while my wife and I doubt AJ will serve in the military (He’s probably better informed about the war than you are.), we (and likely AJ’s father) would be proud if he chose to do so.  It represents an opportunity I myself was denied when I was younger.

But I am scared that, if he has to pursue that option, he might very well die by a roadside bomb in a never-ending war.  Sure, John McCain says it would be more like our presence in Germany or Japan.  Any thinking person, however, knows that the culture of that part of the world would never tolerate such a presence.  Any parent with a child old enough to serve as part of that presence (meaning even some parents who haven’t been born yet) has a damned good reason to worry.  We’re not safer for this war.  My day job has me moving from between two major federal buildings to this city’s tallest building by 2011.  All this war has done is paint a Manhattan-sized target on my back.

So tell me, Mr. Kristol.  Is being a good parent unpatriotic?  If so, I’ll put my patriotism up against yours any day.

See, I love my country enough to criticize it, even if people like you can’t handle that.  You merely love your party enough to keep your nose planted in its backside.

That’s not patriotism.  That’s crass ideology.

Shoot, Pass, Cont, Frack, Corksoaker, Motherfracker, And Tits…

One of the greatest comedians ever, if not THE greatest, has passed away.  George Carlin died this past weekend of heart failure at age 71.

One of my fondest memories of Carlin came in the late 1980’s.  Jim Chenault, a DJ for Akron’s WONE, used to play comedy bits between songs on his afternoon drive show.  One day, while out driving around, I heard George Carlin’s voice saying, “Join the Book Club!  As an introductory offer, we’ll send you the following books absolutely free…”  Though the bit was edited for radio, I still damn near wrecked the car laughing so hard.  The bit’s actually not one of Carlin’s best, but Carlin had a delivery that made you think you’d fallen down the rabbit hole or accidentally drank a Deadhead’s 7-Up.

We’ll miss you, George.

Helluva Pink Slip

Severance Package Severance Package by Duane Swierczynski


rating: 3 of 5 stars
The latest in a loose series that started with THE WHEEL MAN, Duane Swierczynski continues peeling off the layers of the secret organization known as “CI6.”

Jamie DeBroux reports to work at the end of paternity leave for a “management meeting.” There, his boss reveals that they are the front company for a super-secret intelligence agency. The company is being shut down, and to protect national security, everyone in the room is to be killed. They have two choices. If they try to escape, the elevators have been rigged to ignore their floor, and the fire towers have have rigged with sarin gas. Or they can mix themselves a mimosa that’s been laced with a painless poison.

And then sweet, corn-fed secretary Molly Lewis shoots her boss in the head.

What follows is sort of a combination of DIE HARD and THE TERMINATOR, done up as a strange hybrid of conventional novel and comic book. No surprise to the format. Swierczynski has been getting work with Marvel on the CABLE and PUNISHER series of late.

The book is laced with places Swierzy has been in real life: Madison, Wisconsin, Scotland, and, of course, his beloved Philadelphia. However, whereas THE WHEELMAN and THE BLONDE were very strong novels, SEVERANCE PACKAGE comes in as the weak sister of the series. Part of it is the format, using comic book illustrations every few pages and writing almost as though each page were a series of panels. On the downside, Swierczynski’s usual skillful plotting suffers as the story becomes a thin plot punctuated by violent scenes. On the upside, he gets points for trying this format out. It does make the story move faster, and eventually ramps up the suspense.

While I was a little disappointed with this one, it did do the one thing a series novel should do.

Made me ask what happens next.

View all my reviews.

Reader Request: The New Mrs. Winter

Nita says, “I think you should write about how wonderful your wonderful wife to be is.”

By the time you read this, she will be starting her third day as my wife. We met through my standup comedy earlier this year, and tried to hook up for drinks. No agenda, just being social. Frankly, I wasn’t ready to date again, and even if I was, I didn’t want to commit to anyone for at least a year or two. My divorce, while amicable, was still hard to deal with. I wanted time to curl up in the fetal position and sulk.

However, the only day we could hook up for drinks was Valentine’s Day. Since we were both unattached, I asked Nita if she’d like a man to spoil her on Valentine’s Day. Just because.

By the end of the date, it was clear there’d be no sulky time for J.  Nor did I want any.  She is beautiful and incredible.

And now we’re married. She’s beautiful, funny, and very caring. And I can’t imagine my life without her.

I love you, Sweet Rose.

Reader Request: What Am I Writing At The Moment?

Graham Powell asks, “what have you been writing lately?”

Mostly my standup set, which evolves almost daily.

I am also working on novel with the working title “Monticello,” about a fictional Lake Erie city.  Road Rules is still making rounds, but Monticello is going to be going in a new direction for me.  In the meantime, I keep working here and there on a related novel called Holland Bay, which I descrive as 87th Precinct meets The Wire.

Reader Request: Trekkiedom

Dave White asks (and will be avenged upon for asking), what is “[y]our most exciting experience and your most embarassing experience as a Star Trek fan (not including Fan Fic).”

Most Exciting: Partying in full Klingon gear with Robert O’Reilly, who played Klingon Emperor Gowron on Star Trek: The Next Generation/Deep Space Nine.

Most Embarrassing: Meeting Walter Koenig (Chekov) in a dealer’s room and realizing the dude’s pretty uncomfortable talking to someone in full Klingon gear.

I only did that for about a year, but it was an interesting year. However, I needed to get a decent job and an education, so hanging with the “Klingons,” though they drank lots of beer and partied well, had to go.

Reader Request: Desert Island Music, The Honeymoon Edition

Patti Abbot asks “What five pieces of music will you play on your honeymoon?”

Well, given that this marriage is the culmination of a whirlwind romance, I have to pick five of the songs I put on a mix tape for Nita when we first started dating:

1.) “Tonight’s the Night,” by Rod Stewart
2.) “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic,” by The Police
3.) “Love Ain’t for Keeping,” by The Who
4.) “Little Rock n Roll*,” by The Rolling Stones
5.) “Clocks,” by Coldplay

*Yes, I know. It’s “Little T&A,” but that actually sounds wrong.

Just Because I’m Not Going…

Yes, sad, but true. Personal comittments (like two house payments until we sell one of the places off), will prevent me from going to Bouchercon this year.

However, lest ye fall for the lies of a bogus union, I’m here to tell you.

GO. If you don’t and have no real reason not to, you will regret it. I regret it, and I have a legitimate reason to stay home.

Co-chair Ruth Jordan explains the confusion caused by a union dispute that happened with the Wyndham became a Sheraton. While I am sympathetic to the employees (The staff of the Chicago Sheraton in 2005 rocked!), I do not appreciate my fellow authors receiving misinformation and phone calls stating that Bouchercon has been rescheduled or canceled.

Being from a big union town, I was brought up to believe that real unions picket their employers or run ads when there’s a dispute. I was unaware that it was perfectly acceptable to commit fraud.

My only message to this group is:

If you have to lie to support your cause, you don’t have a cause.

Bottom line:  Bcon is on.  Go forth and enjoy!