Saturday, April 26, 2008

Mad Scientists Speak Out!

Latest newspaper column:

HOST: Good evening, and welcome to the Discovery Channel's "Mad Scientist Roundtable." Tonight on our special Election Edition, we're going to ask the universe's foremost Evil Geniuses how they would use this election to destroy America. Our guests are Professor Victor Von Ruin, absolute dictator of the tiny Eastern European country of Walpurgia.


HOST: Isn't he great, folks? Also with us is Dr. Strangemind, free-lance evil genius and author of "World Domination for Dummies."

STRANGEMIND: A pleasure to be here, Bob. Now look closely into the rotating hypno-disc. closer.... closer....

HOST: Sorry, Doc, maybe later. And last but certainly not least, we are truly honored to have with us Zarton, science adviser to the Evil Emperor Zork of the Planet Wango.

ZARTON: Resistance is useless! Prepare for your utter destruction, foolish humans!

HOST: Ha Ha! What a kidder! Oops! Careful there, Zarton. You're getting some tentacle slime on the tabletop.

ZARTON: Hissssss ...

HOST: Zarton, remember our agreement. Use your words.

ZARTON: Sorry.

HOST: Now, I understand each of you has brought your own evil device or scheme by which you hope to destroy America. Zarton, since you're from farthest away, let's start with you.

ZARTON: Thank you, Bob. I call my device the Amnesia Ray.

HOST: Well, it certainly has a lot of pretty lights.

ZARTON: It works on your primitive human brains to erase all memory of certain events that happened even a few months ago.

HOST: Can you give us an example?

ZARTON: Well, you remember how your "news media" predicted that if the human female Hillary Clinton did not win your so-called "primary" contests in the provinces known as Ohio and Texas, and win them both decisively, that her bid for the leadership was doomed?

HOST: Well, I do sort of remember...


HOST: What was that?

ZARTON: It seems that, when your votes were counted, the human female Clinton actually did not win any more delegates in the province of Texas. At best, she tied.

HOST: So? She's still in the race. She can still win.

ZARTON: HAHAHAHAAA! You have forgotten everything you once believed! With the Amnesia Ray, we can even make your masses think that the same people who led you into your war in Iraq are the ones who know best on foreign policy!

VON RUIN: Very nice, Zarton.

STRANGEMIND: You are to be commended for your evilness.

HOST: Professor Von Ruin, tell us about your evil scheme.

VON RUIN: Of course. I call mine the Distraction Virus.

HOST: And what does it do?

VON RUIN: It's a genetically engineered virus that affects the human brain, inducing a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder in which the affected persons concentrate on meaningless trivia, rather than on real issues affecting them. And the best part is, it's easily dissolved in water.

HOST: Really?

VON RUIN: Really. In fact, it's in your water glass. So tell me, Bob, with your country involved in a ruinous war, gasoline and food prices rising with no end in sight, millions without health insurance, and the country trillions of dollars in debt, what you see as the most pressing issue before the political candidates?

HOST: Why, flag pins, of course. If folks don't wear flag pins, how can they be true Americans? And food. If persons go to a restaurant and order the wrong kind of food, then they can't understand the common man. That's it. Food. Food and flag pins. Did I mention flag pins?

ZARTON: Brilliant!

STRANGEMIND: Yes, Von Ruin, very fiendish.

HOST: What was I saying?

STRANGEMIND: You were going to ask me about my plan for destroying America.

HOST: Oh. Oh yeah. Flag pins! Sorry, please go on.

STRANGEMIND: Well, dear colleagues, I don't like to gloat.

ZARTON: Foolish human! Of course you do!

VON RUIN: Gloating is one of the perks of this job.

STRANGEMIND: Indeed. Well, my device combines the effects of Zarton's Amnesia Ray with those of Von Ruin's Distraction Virus. It fogs people's minds to the point where they will pick their leaders not on the basis of their qualifications or their competence, but on criteria that seem almost totally random.

ZARTON: You mean ...

VON RUIN: You old dog! Tell me you didn't ...

STRANGEMIND: Yes. I bought a cable news network.


ZARTON: OK, you win.

VON RUIN: Yep, can't beat that.

HOST: This has been "Mad Scientist Roundtable." Remember, if you don't wear your flag pin, you're a Muslim terrorist. Flag pins!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

My God! It's Full of Suck!

After this, this, and this, John Scalzi comes up with the best answer ever to the bad Amazon (or other internet) Review:

Post your one-star (or otherwise negative) Amazon reviews, if you have them, and you probably do. Oh, go on. Own your one-star reviews, man. And then, you know. Get past them. If you’re lucky, some of them might actually be fun to read.

Now why the hell didn't I think of that?

I bow down.

This Is Your Brain On Hope

Courtesy of Tod Goldberg, here's an entry in's "Obama in 30 Seconds" ad contest:

Another one, even better IMHO, is here. (warning: it plays automatically)

Note: I changed it from embedded to a link because I can't figure out how to make it not play automatically, which some people understandably find annoying. I know I do.

I personally love this ad. it's the best answer I've seen to the naysayers. Because, really, since when IS hope a bad thing?

If you'd like to vote for it, go here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Crime Fiction Dossier: "GUMSHOE AWARDS:
Best First Novel:

Sean Chercover - Big City, Bad Blood (William Morrow)

Well deserved, in this blogger's opinion. Which opinion is, as you know, always correct.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Aw, Shucks...President? Me?

Latest Newspaper Column:

My good friends, there comes a time when a man must realize that his destiny is summoning him.

There comes a time when a man must realize that weird buzzing he's been hearing in his left ear, the one everyone tells him he really ought to see a doctor about, is actually the clarion call of history, inviting him to greatness.

That time, my friends, is now. That man, my friends, is me.

First, a little back story. As I'm sure you've heard recently, presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama was recently overheard at a fundraiser in (gasp!) San Francisco, making the following horrifying statement:

"You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them and it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

Boy, that one really chaps my butt. How dare Barack Obama suggest that people's dislike of anyone different or fear of immigrants is anything more than a deeply held American value!

Obama's opponents were quick to point out what a big hoity-toity Mr. Fancy Pants Obama is: "It shows an elitism and condescension toward hard-working Americans that is nothing short of breathtaking," a McCain spokesman said of Obama's words.

It's good to know that the son of one Navy admiral and the grandson of another, who went to one of the most elite private schools in the nation in Alexandria, Va., who married a model and later an heiress, and rode his wife's father's beer distributing fortune to his first political office, a guy whose wife owns eight houses, for crying out loud, is still in touch with the steelworkers and farmers that make this country great. Assuming, that is, that he can find a steelworker whose job didn't go overseas during the past 25 years.

Hillary Clinton went even further. Not only did she say that Obama's comments were "elitist" and "condescending," but she also went to great pains to show that her multimillionaire status, privileged upbringing, and former first-ladyship didn't set her apart from the common man.

She even talked about how her daddy used to take her up behind the summer cottage and teach her to shoot, then she went to a working-class bar in Pittsburgh and downed shots and draft beer, just like the working class dudes do every day! Why, she even apparently recognized the average American's need to economize by recycling. After all, why should she spend her supporters' hard-earned dough by hiring speechwriters when she can save money by parroting the Republican candidate?

And I for one am so glad that we have rich TV and media stars like Sean Hannity and Michelle Malkin to tell us how the working people of America really feel.

They're not bitter, our well-heeled pundits assure us. They're happy their jobs went to Mexico and Indonesia!

But then it struck me. Compared to Clinton, McCain, and certainly to Mr. Brie-Eating, Latte-Drinking Barack Obama, I am totally a man of the people. I'll bet I've had a gun in my hand a lot more recently than Hillary Clinton, and when it comes to doing shots and beers -- fuhgeddaboudit. In fact, I'm typing this with one hand while holding a .38-caliber revolver in the other, with a half-empty pitcher of Milwaukee's Best on the side table and a drained bottle of Old Grand-Dad at my feet. I've never even been to San Francisco. Well, OK, one time. But I kept my eyes closed the whole time.

I am that elusive guy that people like Chris Matthews say you want as your president: the guy you want to have a beer with. Ask anyone who's ever drunk beer with me. I'm huge fun. Oh, sure, I'd probably be a total incompetent when it comes to governing, especially after a few beers. But I am not, by golly, an elitist, and that, it seems, is all that really counts.

So it is time for me to embrace my destiny. As a totally normal guy who's no better than anyone else, and maybe even worse than some, it is my duty to declare my candidacy for the presidency of the United States of America.

And to show that I'm not an elitist, if I get elected, you guys can all totally come to the White House and take turns being the president. Because this is America, Mr. Liberal. We're founded on the principle that no one should act like they're any smarter or more competent or more perceptive than anyone else.

But wait. If I declare my candidacy for Leader of the Free World, doesn't that mean I'm saying I'm smart enough to do it? And wouldn't that mean I'm saying that I'm...

Dang. Never mind.