Saturday, January 07, 2006

Writing in the Shower

It's amazing how many ideas come to me during my morning shower. Lines of dialogue, the solutions to plot tangles, ideas for stories, etc. So this gizmo from Popgadget has some real potential. It's an erasable notepad for the shower, where you can jot ideas and notes to yourself or, presumably, whoever follows you in the shower. ("Step out of the shower if you have to to pee, you disgusting slob!" ) It's not the waterproof laptop I've always dreamed of, but it's a start.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Thank You, Publisher's Weekly

Publisher's Weekly sort of damned me with faint praise last time, so this review of the upcoming Good Day in Hell was a particularly gratifying :

At the start of Rhoades's well-crafted second novel to feature Jack Keller (after 2005'sThe Devil's Right Hand ), the North Carolina bounty hunter and his new girlfriend, sheriff's deputy Marie Jones, discover that the two suspects for whom each has been searching-a troubled young woman who skipped bail on an assault charge and the likely perpetrator of the brutal murder of a gas station owner-have taken the gas station owner's teenage son and in short order pulled off senseless mass murders at a local church and factory. When the media-savvy killers contact an amoral local news personality, guaranteeing her exclusive access in exchange for the chance to tell their tale, the situation escalates and the lives of all are put in danger. Fast-paced and rich in regional color, this satisfying thriller is notable for its empathetic portrayal of the two emotionally damaged protagonists, each struggling with past trauma-his sustained in the first Gulf War, hers resulting from the killing of her partner-in order to form a trusting relationship.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

2006: The Year in Preview

Latest Newspaper column:

(This is the uncensored, non-family-friendly version)

Once again, it’s New Year’s Day. And your Humble Columnist looks into his magic 8-ball to bring you 2006: the Year in Preview:

January: The New York Times runs an expose revealing secret White House memos in which Attorney General Alberto Gonzales asserts that the president, in time of war, is exempt not only from laws regulating wiretapping but from the laws of physics as well. “Sept. 11 changed everything,” one memo states. “If the president finds it necessary for America’s protection that he be able to fly, to toss automobiles around like Styrofoam, or to travel in time, then he is empowered by the Constitution to do so.”

February: Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly announces that he has discovered a secret “War on Valentine’s Day,” run by what he calls a “cabal” consisting of financier George Soros, comedian Al Franken, and the secret organization SD-6 from ABC’s show “Alias.” “It’s SAINT Valentine’s Day, you secular scum!” O’Reilly bellows at callers to his show, “and if you don’t like it, go live in Israel!” Finally, O’Reilly retreats to what he calls his “St. Valentine’s Bunker” beneath the Fox News offices. America breathes a sigh of relief when he refuses to come out.

March: Former House Speaker Tom DeLay’s trial for conspiracy and money laundering kicks off in Austin, Texas. DeLay’s defense team stuns the legal community with their strategy, which consists of invoking the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks at every opportunity. When asked by the judge how he intends to plead to the felonies, DeLay calmly announces, “9/11, your honor.” When the judge rules that there is no such plea under Texas or any other law, he is immediately denounced by conservative pundits as an “activist judge” and online petitions are circulated for his impeachment. “Hey,” DeLay is overheard telling his lawyers, “Dubbya gets away with everything by saying ‘Sept. 11’ over and over. It’s got to work for me.”

April: An attractive female college student goes missing on spring break. Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, A&E, and C-SPAN all initiate round-the-clock coverage, with updates every quarter-hour. Tragedy is averted when the girl calls her parents and confesses that she didn’t show up in Cancun because she overslept and missed her ride to the airport.

June: The Washington Post reveals the existence of secret White House memos in which Attorney General Alberto Gonzales assures the president that while human cloning may be illegal and immoral, it is legal for the president to clone himself. “Sept. 11 changed everything,” the memo reads, “and further, the Congress gave the president authorization to fight terrorism by any means necessary. Therefore, if the president, in his sole judgment, finds it is necessary for the defense of America to create his own evil army of exact duplicates of himself, he has that power.” President Bush denies any attempts to create a clone army, but threatens to veto any legislation forbidding him to do so.

July: Katie Holmes gives birth to a child allegedly fathered by Tom Cruise. Holmes gives birth in the manner approved by Scientology, which requires mothers to give birth in complete silence without drugs. The next day, Katie files for divorce from Cruise on the grounds of, in her words, “Fuck this.”

August: America is simultaneously hit by a Category 5 hurricane, a tsunami on the Pacific Coast, and a shower of giant meteors that flattens Kansas City. President Bush contemplates cutting short his five-week vacation at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, but decides against it. “After all,” he says, “this brush isn’t going to clear itself.”

September: California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger suffers yet another stunning defeat as the state legislature passes a law making it a felony for Schwarzenegger ever to use the phrases “Girly Man,” “I’ll Be Back” or any pun on the word “Terminator” in any more public speeches. “What about me?” California First Lady Maria Shriver bitterly complains. “I have to still listen to that crap around the house!”

October: Televangelist Pat Robertson calls for the assassination of Pope Benedict the Sixteenth. When Catholics react with shock and outrage, Robertson initially denies everything, then claims he was quoted out of context. However, when news organizations turn up a videotape of Robertson’s TV show where he is seen saying “Would someone please kill Pope Benedict the Sixteenth? Anyone? Anyone at all,” Robertson apologizes. Donations to Robertson’s organization go up 40 percent.

December: The Los Angeles Times reveals the existence of secret White House memos in which Attorney General Alberto Gonzales assures the president that he has the inherent power under the Constitution to sell the souls of Americans to the devil. “Sept. 11 changed everything,” the memo reads, “and if the president finds it necessary to consign the souls of innocents into everlasting torment in order to protect America, he has the inherent authority under the Constitution to do so.” President Bush denies ever making any sort of deal with the Prince of Darkness, but threatens to veto any legislation forbidding him to do it.

Hang on tight, folks. It’s going to be another bumpy ride.