Hot Time, Summer in the City

Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting burnt and gritty
Been down, isn’t it a pity
Doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city

All around, people looking half dead
Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head

The irony, my god the irony, so dense and thick it practically drops through the earths’ crust and heads straight for the core; that injured anti-administration protesters in the streets of Tehran are being encouraged to take shelter in various foreign embassies. And I daresay that ours would have been one of them, that is, if we still had a functioning embassy in the Iranian capital. And always assuming that our State Department would have grown a pair and decided to do the decent thing – always a bit of a stretch as far as Foggy Bottom is concerned, admittedly.

One gathers that it’s not that any of those who were running for office in the contested Iranian election were expected to be much of an improvement – just the best of a bad lot, and maybe someone just a little bit less worst. And one way and another the same-old-same-old ritual shouts of ‘death to America, death to the Jews’ and sadly, the funding of Islamic militants like Hezbollah would continue without much diminution, regardless of who among the mullahs was really in charge.

That being said, it’s hard to watch some of the video, and read some of the tweets, emails and blog-posts filtering out of Iran and not feel some sort of instinctive sympathy for the outrage of citizens, upon seeing an election being casually, openly stolen, and having their very understandable outrage and objections over this unfortunate turn of events being dismissed by a grubby little thug, essentially saying: “I won.” (The corollary being, “You’d better sit down and shut up about it, you unpatriotic and ignorant little gits – we know what is best for you!) And then, adding injury to insult, to be set upon – once again – by foreign bullies with clubs … well, as I said, the irony of it all. And not just that particular irony, but that word and image of this is filtering out through cellphones and twitter, through email and all the rest of the electronic volunteer citizen’s media … not with press releases and statements from the usual suspects, and press conferences where the usual anointed spokesperson stand up in front of the anointed and properly gilded media representatives (oops, I nearly said gelded… well, that’s what living in Texas will do to you, straight to the biological, domesticated-animal comparisons). The spontaneous, real-time, real-life video is heartbreaking; the evidence of what happens when citizens reach their limit and are pushed beyond it … yes, the bad little lizard part of my brain is wondering what would happen if the penalties for loudly protesting in the streets (or on the sidewalks of the city) involved out-of-town thugs with clubs and permission to beat the heck out of whomever they feel like beating up.

And what if it began to happen here?

For Your Amusement And Delectation

The stupidest, least-convincing and most inept spam/quasi-Nigerian Email ever received by yr Humble Correspondent is pasted in its entirely for your amusement.

And you know what is the scariest part? There are no doubt one or two people who will fall for this. G*d only knows who they voted for in the last election, although I have well-founded suspicions.

Did you authorize Mr Lious parker(Kindly get back to me immediately)
Sunday, June 21, 2009 12:37 PM
From:
“Michael Povey”
Add sender to Contacts
To:
marrymalone14@gmail.com


From The Desk Of Impex diplomatic Courier Service.
STORAGE VAULT MANAGER
MR MICHAEL POVEY
BROOKLYN NEW YORK.
PHONE:904-352-7417
FAX: 206-666-3947
DATE:13/06/2009

Attn:

Did you authorize Mr. Louis Henrik who presented document of claim andin
hand(Cash) the storage Dumurage Fees of $5,500.00 purported to have been
signed by you for the release of your Consignment containing your Immunity
Rebuilding Grant of Five million five hundred thousand US Dollars ($5.5)
only, which was made out by United Nations Grant for affected people of the
last Hurricane Kathrine,(London Office) via Cash Payment Consignment
delivery to this storage outfit last week Monday. Why this, because the
Fund Certificate was credited to you,hence this later development of Mr.
Louis Henrik?

Ensure that you do not delay to get back soonest as this calls for urgent
and cogent attention to avoid misappropriation, misconception and
misconstrue in our records. If you did not give any Power of Attorney or
Authorization to the said Mr. Louis Henrik for claim of your Consignment
fund, please reconfirm immediately to avoid irregularities, as your
Consignment fund is now ready to be delivered to you once payment for
Storage Duty Fees are cleared out (based on the urgent instructions from
the Committee of Out Of The States Payments Board under the control of the
White House D.C).In summary to your Consignment Release Order,contact this
office by taking note to
complete the under listed:

Fill the information required below and send it to;
mickcontractor22@aol.com

ATTN..Mr Smith Tanner
THE MANAGER STORAGE VAULT DEPT
1) Your full …………………………
2) Residential ………………………..
3) Direct Cell-Phone/Mobile ……………
4) Age and marital ……………………
5) Company Name and Position if any ………..

As soon as this information is received and charges for dummurage cleraed
out by you, your consignment with Ref. No. UN/GRANT/UK/USA/09will be
delivered to you via a doorstep delivery by one of our agents.

Waiting for your Reply.
Mr. Michael Povey.
Management.

Broadcast Standards

Well, far from me to hold off giving another couple of energetic thwacks to the deceased equine, with regard to David Letterman’s tasteless and ill-considered joke about Governor Palin’s daughter (whichever daughter was meant) and a baseball player, but what the heck, now Bill Maher has gotten into the act – apparently aggrieved at how upset a large portion of the people who heard about said tasteless and ill-considered joke have become. Ah, well, that’s what happens when you engage your yap before your mind is in gear.

So – do I think people are overreacting? Meh … maybe they are – it was pretty crude ‘n crass, but stacked up to all the bales of crude n’ crass delivered to Chez Palin, courtesy of our so-called media and intellectual elite over the last eight months, it was a pretty pale effort. But that might be the point – it was the final, absolutely last, penultimate straw. Look, a lot of people in flyover America really liked Sarah Palin, when she sprung up onto the national scene, like Athena stepping out of Zeus’ absolutely splitting headache. So she turned out to be John McCain’s absolutely splitting headache, as well as an opportunity for a lot of the mainline established feminist figures to go eeek! over a woman who turned out to be everything they claimed to have been working for, lo, these last forty years. The monstering of her, and her family, and even the heave-ho from John McCain when it was all over did not go over real well in flyover country … where blue-collar couples work a couple of jobs, and scratch together their education from no-name community colleges and state schools, and where the grandparents look after the children, and going to church on Sunday (not just for weddings and funerals) is pretty much a given. People hunt, and hike, and plant gardens and run for the PTA or the city council, and do a pretty good job at looking after themselves and their communities. And we sat back and watched all that be slimed by the very superior political aristocracy and their sycophants in the old-line media, and god save us, what passes for intellectuals in these degraded days. And no, we did not care for it at all. Not one bit.

And so an aging and unfunny late-night talk host slaps a knowing smirk on his face and delivers a desperately crass and barely humorous line, while his obliging audience of wanna-be hipsters obediently chortle … and some days later he (and his equally knowing and sarcastic friend) is wondering loudly what happened, and why is everyone picking on him, what did he do? It was only a joke, man … don’t you hicks in the sticks have any sense of humor? There is talk of consumers boycotting Late Night Show sponsors, and even a letter or two of complaint filed (with much noisy fanfare to the FCC) and even the National Organization of Women has bestirred themselves to file an angry comment.

OK, Mr. Letterman, I’ll explain it to you in simple terms: no, you did not happen to tread heavily and publicly on your own d**k. Not with that particular joke. You just had the bad luck to be the one among the smirking brigade of so-called comedians who delivered the one single line that crossed the line, that was the absolutely last straw – or even the match that set the whole gasoline-soaked pile of previous straws alight. All that accumulated anger on the part of the public just picked your face to explode in, like one of those joke cigars in an old Three Stooges comedy. It isn’t personal, and it may even not be about that particular joke. It’s just that there’s a lot of suppressed anger in flyover country … you know, from those people outside your cozy little studio and oh-so-hip little world, all those people in Lubbock, or Muncie, or Bakersfield or Peoria. Hey, sport, they watch your show, too – remember? So, they just got fed up about the treatment of Sarah Palin and her family, and your little throwaway gag exploded all that combustible material. Hey, they just picked that joke and you as the chosen scapegoat; could have been any other joke, any other late night host or TV anchor with delusions of adequacy. You just got lucky, and now you are an object lesson, in what happens when you blunder over that line, and just that one little step too far. You must feel so special.

Oh, and say hi to the Dixie Chicks next time you see them.

June 14 – Flag Day

And leave it to a Marine to say it best.

I Am Old Glory

I Am Old Glory:
For more than ten score years I have been the banner of hope and freedom for generation after generation of Americans.
Born amid the first flames of America’s fight for freedom, I am the symbol of a country that has grown from a little group of thirteen colonies to a united nation of fifty sovereign states.
Planted firmly on the high pinnacle of American Faith my gently fluttering folds have proved an inspiration to untold millions.
Men have followed me into battle with unwavering courage.
They have looked upon me as a symbol of national unity.
They have prayed that they and their fellow citizens might continue to enjoy the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, which have been granted to every American as the heritage of free men.
So long as men love liberty more than life itself; so long as they treasure the priceless privileges bought with the blood of our forefathers; so long as the principles of truth, justice and charity for all remain deeply rooted in human hearts, I shall continue to be the enduring banner of the United States of America.

Originally written by Master Sergeant Percy Webb, USMC.

copied from usflag.org

What Authors Live For

What do we live for? Some kind of association or meeting with people who love our books, that’s what. Drink to an alcoholic, blood to a vampire, the drug of choice to a junkie – it’s what we live for, but unless one is at the very top of the fiction-scribbling food chain, one doesn’t get to sample it very often. Or often enough to get blasé about them, which is why Blondie and I spent two hours on the road, heading down to Beeville for a book-club meeting. This was at the house of another writer from the Independent Author’s Guild, Al Past, who wrote a trilogy of his own – Distant Cousin, which is also set in Texas but isn’t historical, it’s more of a science fiction-suspense-roman-a-clef sort of thing. Besides that, he is a musician and a wonderful photographer; he did the cover pictures for the Adelsverein Trilogy, all three of which were snapped not fifty feet from where the book club meeting was taking place in their living room.

Oh, we so envy his house: he and his wife, Kay, built it themselves way out in the country over the last two or three decades, in the middle of pastures that used to be – and still is ranchland. The main room is one big tile-floored area – dining room, living room and concert-hall, with a pellet stove in the middle (near the piano and the harpsichord) and a kitchen at one end, screened off by a block of cabinets and a buffet. The living room end features a deep window-seat and a many-paned glass window looking out over a terrace and a green meadow beyond. Miraculously, this room pulls off the hat-trick of being roomy without making people feel they are rattling around like peas in a gourd, and full of stuff without feeling cluttered. Al has the usual book-lined study through an arched doorway on one side, and the bedroom wing is through another arched doorway on the other. And marvelously, there is a three-story tall Italianate tower attached to the end with the broad window-seat; three teeny rooms stacked one on top of each other, and a teensy balcony through a French door on the top floor. Al says, aside from maybe a church-steeple and a couple of cell-phone towers, it’s the tallest structure in Beeville.

Most marvelously, most of the book club members are friends of Kays’ – a strong element of teachers and librarians, who know and love books and read a lot of them, and have friends who also know and love books. Everyone had read “The Gathering” – and one gentleman had bought all three. He was especially keen, as his family had come over with the Adelsverein Germans, although they had not carried on to New Braunfels and into Gillespie County. His ancestors had been among those who got a little way up from Indianola before washing their hands of the Adelsverein as a bad deal, and setting up on their own. He had brought a book about the Adelsverein Germans to show me – and I wish that I had the time to have set down to read it, because it was one of the few that I had missed in my scouring of the San Antonio City Library system of every scrap to do with the subject.

One of the nicest comments, and which I cherish because of the source, came from one of the book club members who had loaned her copy of “The Gathering” to a friend who was a dedicated re-enactor and a fanatic about local history. She reported that her friend began skimming through the first couple of chapters, becoming more interested the farther he went, murmuring, “Oh… that’s right… absolutely correct … yes, that’s right… and so is that…” Finally, he looked up and asked, “Well, who is this Celia Hayes woman, and why haven’t I heard of her before?”

All I can say is that I am hiding out in plain sight – and I very much prefer getting details right; there are readers who will notice and it makes the story very much more convincing. Besides, when I am working in real historical figures as side-characters and historical factoids, I usually wind up with something that is even more interesting and dramatic than anything I could possibly create. Historical reality has a way of trumping imagination.

The News Making Machinery

I am reminded this morning of the old axiom about law and sausage – if you are fond of either one of them you’d best not watch either one being made This also applies to news; if you are a consumer of it, you just don’t want to watch it being made. And also of the other understanding, so often noted by bloggers recently: that would be the one about how one can be intimately involved in an event, or even just present at it – but the way that brief snippets are presented afterward by the news media present something so different from what you experienced.

All righty, then – yesterday, elements of the San Antonio Tea Party had a protest in front of Senator John Cornyn’s office in downtown San Antonio: basically, our aim was to encourage him to step up to the plate when it came to reviewing Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s fitness for the Supreme Court.

This was how the story played on one local news channel which covered it:

And the local Fox affiliate (which doesn’t have the video portion of the story in easily linkeable format wrote it up this way, on their website:

“The confirmation hearing for supreme court justice nominee. Sonya Sotomayor is now set for July 13th. Here in San Antonio, those in favor and against her nomination confronted each other in front of Senator John Cornyn’s office. As Yami Virgin shows us. The exchange got so heated police had to get involved.”

Yep – for about ten minutes we had a dueling bullhorn thing going on, between our group and about three pro-Sotomayor partisans; one of whom was, so one of the policemen told me, a professional protester of long-experience and an even longer arrest record. And yes, they did step in and tell us all very firmly to stop it with the bullhorns. Not that it stopped the protest in the least, for despite how the news channels framed it – the protest went on for another hour or so, albeit at a lower decibel level.

And where, you ask, was your fearless media rep, Sgt. Mom, in all of this? Oh, yes – I was there too, not that there is much evidence on the final edited video coverage on either of the news reports, and yes, I did look for any evidence that I was. I’m not completely without vanity, you know, and I had dressed up a bit. I did spend a good few minutes in front of their cameras. Efficiently, both camera crews taped me, side by side; which was nice, as I didn’t have to repeat myself. I was speaking in quiet and reasonable tones, outlining the various reasons that we had for doing this, our very real reservations about Justice Sotomayer’s ability to be fair and impartial, given her record in various cases, and her associations and assorted public statements. And yes, Senator Cornyn is theoretically one of the good guys, but we wished to remind him of who he worked for, that we were constituents with issues that we wanted to see addressed, and apparently the only way to get the attention of Washington insiders these days – as well as that of the legacy news media – was to make a fuss on the sidewalk.

All of this, as I said – in quiet, respectful and measured tones… none of which wound up being included in the finished broadcast stories. Of course; passion and raised voices draw the eyeballs, shedding lots of heat and not much light on the subject.

I have better hopes for serious consideration from the two guys with the cable access show, who spent some serious time with everyone – even taping a long dialog between one of our members and one of the Sotomayor partisans, a conversation which was conducted with decorum and which will probably turn out to be much more informative, all the way around.

Oh, and we did present a petition with a great many signatures to one of Senator Cornyn’s assistants – a young man who seemed to be acquainted with the concept of ‘mau mauing the flack catchers’ if not the actual literary reference , so it wasn’t all a wasted effort.

Things Happening Too Fast to Count

Well, that’s me – life in the fast lane, as it is, what with fifteen hours a week of soul-numbing drudgery at the call center, or as I refer to it “the Hellhole” (all apologies to anyone who now has the earworm from This Is Spinal Tap now firmly stuck in their consciousness for the rest of the day. No really, I live to serve.)

BTW, I can’t see my way to quitting, just yet. As horrendous as working there is – it’s reliable. Unless and until the monthly royalty checks for the Adelsverein Trilogy and Truckee about double and do so on a reliable, month to month basis. I can’t afford to slice up my nasty plastic employee badge and walk away – as tempting as the thought might be. With the economy apparently circling the drain and certain large corporations getting ready to tank worse than the Titanic … well, a regular job, however unpleasant, is not to be sneezed at. And as I keep reminding myself – it’s only fifteen hours a week.

But it’s fifteen hours away from time I can work on Watercress Press stuff – I have a horrendously complicated memoir, two huge binders full of not-very-well-organized pages (typewritten, mercifully) to work on … and now and again I have a mad wish to squeeze out another couple of hours to continue on the next book, or to market the current lot a little more vigorously. I have a book-club meeting in Beeville on Monday, and a pair of events in July in Fredericksburg … but I can’t even begin to think about that because of the most horrendously looming project…

Tea Party Hearty.

The San Antonio 4th of July Tea Party is going to be at the Rio Cibolo Ranch, a little east of town on IH-10 … and all of us who worked on the Tea Party on Tax Day, have been looking around in the last couple of weeks to try and figure out – well, not how could we top it, but at least equal it. Or come close to equaling it, and yes, we have spent hours and evenings in meetings working on this; how to re-organize the website, how to re-do our media efforts, how to reach out to the local media (and grab them by the short-n-curlies), and how to even begin to keep level of events and the proposed legislation that looks to be fair raining down upon us. It looks to be, sometimes, as if there is a sort of legislative hailstorm of laws approaching us – laws considered at every level, laws now in committee, under consideration, or proposed, each one more potentially damaging than the other, each one seemingly carefully crafted to favor someone involved, to the detriment of someone else, each of them with an apparently harmless intent, but with a vicious sting buried within it’s heart. Like that ghastly CPSIA law… where to start? I had the feeling three or four years ago that there was something malign lurking, some deadly danger, but I didn’t think it would be our republic being nibbled to death by ducks, or at least, some ghastly, self-serving political class of elected aristocrats, out to better themselves at the expense of the nation.

Oh, yeah – and the US is not a Muslim nation. Just thought I’d throw that in. Jeese, who is writing and fact-checking the Obaminator’s speeches these days? What desperately awful institute of learning did they pass through – and I use the word in the sense of fecal matter passing through an intestine. Like I am going to sit by and watch my country turned into something like Argentina under Juan Peron, while the old-line media establishment ooohs and ahhhs. Have a nice weekend – think of the musical that will be made of this in a couple of decades.

Sunshine

Spy Chips Guiding CIA Drone Strikes, Locals Say

It sounds like a tinfoil hat nightmare, come to life: tiny electronic homing beacons, guiding CIA killer drones to their targets. But local residents and Taliban militants in Pakistan’s tribal wildlands say that’s exactly what’s happening. Tribesman in Waziristan are being paid to “plant the electronic devices” near militant safehouses, they tell the Guardian. “Hours or days later, a drone, guided by the signal from the chip, destroys the building with a salvo of missiles.”

Targeting by underpaid locals.  Blowing up houses – and we dunno who is in them!  That’s pretty damned bad. And a whole bunch of people [1] used this as a springboard to get all angry at the United States and the military in particular.

Run this part past your MK I eyeballs and feed the data to your brain-housing group.

local residents and Taliban militants .. say that’s exactly what’s happening.

Are you people so damned uncritical in your thinking that you just accept foolishness at face value?  Do you not recognize bullshit when you step in it? 

A group of zealots have declared war on our culture.  They do not like us.  They have killed many thousands of people in the West.  Do you expect their news releases to be full of Truth and Sunshine?

Guys like the Taliban – this may come as a shock, brace yourself – will lie to you.  They want to win and lying to the gullible is a cheap way to make that happen.

And many many tens of thousands of y’all just accept their shit as if it were sunshine.

Y’all need to cut that out and engage your brains.

Cross posted to Space For Commerce.

[1] Christopher is not the only one I read who is guilty of this.  But he is the only person whose link I bothered to save.

Monday Morning Doldrums

Still recovering from a bad allergy cough that sounded as if I were bringing up a lung – the very sound of which made people edge nervously out of range and ask, with deep concern, if I was all right. I had to beg off working the usual Saturday evening at the hell-hole telephone bank, taking reservations because – it sounds bad to the prospective guests when the reservations agent is hacking away like Camille dying of tuberculosis, and besides, I could barely talk above a whisper. So home and to bed very early, loaded up with over-the-counter stuff which is supposed to help … and this morning was the first time in a week I opened my eyes and felt something close to normal.

Which is all to the good, because I have a book club meeting in Beeville next Monday – this sort of thing is meat and drink to writers, a room full of people who have actually read the book and have serious questions. I got some lovely ideas for the next round of writing about early Texas from the last book-club meeting – so, we’ll see how it goes. Also putting together an IAG-All-Texas writers event for a bookstore in Fredericksburg late in July, the very day after another event for me at the Pioneer Museum. The owners at Berkman Books were all very keen on the idea, so here’s hoping for the best. Hard to tell, how it will all go town, with the economy apparently on the verge of tanking like the Titanic. I’m kind of worried about the other independent bookstore that carries my book, the Twig in Alamo Heights. I managed to scrape far enough ahead of the bills that I could use my royalties to buy copies of the Trilogy for consignment sales, but the Twig management only wanted one of each. When we stopped by to drop them off last week, Blondie noticed that – although there were no gaps in the shelves, they didn’t have much in the way of the other knick-knacks and little non-book items that they usually had in stock before.

I put some more work into on-line marketing, though – Amazon.com has set aside Author pages for a wider array of scribblers than formerly, so I’ve been spending some time this morning uploading the necessary files to expedite the “search inside” feature. Yea on many moons ago, I had uploaded “To Truckee’s Trail” as a Kindle book, and had such an awful time doing it and no appreciable uptick in sales, that I had written off doing so as wasted effort. This was just after Amazon had launched the Kindle Reader Mark One, so I guess the bugs in their system were to be expected. I didn’t upload the Trilogy as a Kindle book until January, when some of the other IAG authors began discussing it; lo-and-behold! Uploading them, and adding the necessary links to the paperback version suddenly was a lot less fraught. I’ve actually had a good few sales of all four books, ever since. Don’t know how or why someone suddenly added Tabasco sauce to Amazon.com’s wheaties, but I’ll play, as long as they’re in a helpful mood.

Ordinarily, my vision of Amazon is that of a huge, cavernous underground warehouse, piled highe with books and other goods, sort of like that in the final scene of the first Indiana Jones movie. Up in the dim ceiling overhead, there is some kind of vast, clanking machine, with tracks and pulleys and long arms which reach down and pick up something, and carry it away. I visualize those items being dropped into a huge hopper, and eventually they emerge on the other end – which is an anonymous UPS drop-box on an anonymous street in a featureless urban warehouse development. The point is, there don’t ever seem to be any humans involved, save for someone in a long gray cloak that slips around the corner and runs away, immediately you catch sight of them … or the whole place may be run by rubbery-tentacled aliens, like the Thermians in Galaxy Quest. In any case, interaction with a real human at Amazon is just about impossible.

Oh, and you’ll never know it, if you get your news from major media outlets, but the San Antonio Tea Party is perking along, planning our big 4th of July bash. It’ll be at the Rio Cibolo Ranch, just east of town, with live music, and speakers and singers, and games, and consciousness-raising, and hay-rides and a herd of long-horns … everything but the kitchen sink. Think of it as a conservative Woodstock. But that’s a month away, and ever so much more to do for it… sigh, back to work.