Tuesday, October 30, 2012

What was now is now old (and vice versa)

Was doing some research on a book today and uncovered a section about the Young Americans for Freedom convention in Madison Square Garden in March 1962 and how demonstrably they attacked President Kennedy with vitriolic assaults, calling him names such as ‘traitor’ and ‘enemy of the state’. Some called for his impeachment while others said “This Presidency must end either peacefully or with force.”

Sounds like today. And Kennedy wasn’t even black.  The leaders of that movement were John Wayne and Strom Thurman. Two men that are still revered by the far right as heroes and folk icons.

There were, interestingly enough two people who spoke out against the violent diatribe coming from the 18,000 gathered inside Madison Square Garden. One was Barry Goldwater and the other, Ronald Reagan. Both men said empathically, there is no room in a democracy for a power-hungry demagogue leading wild-screaming banshees around the lynching pole in the name of a political cause – for either party.

One man from the Republican Party who stood on the sidelines and applauded the mass hysteria during that three-day convention was none other than – Richard Nixon. “These are fresh voices for the future of America,” Nixon was quoted as saying.

What goes around comes around.

Monday, October 29, 2012

And gentle good-bye to the OLD GOP

It is not often that I turn the reins of this blog over to someone else, but Tobin has defined so well an issue I will let his words speak for me today.
“Let me just be candid: My party is full of racists. And the real reason a considerable portion of my party wants President Obama out of the White House has nothing to do with the content of his character, nothing to do with his competence as commander in chief and president, and everything to do with the color of his skin. And that’s despicable.” - Republican, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson.


There is without doubt an underlying or latent level of racism involved in this election. A significant portion of the white electorate will believe and do anything to justify not voting for a black man. They'll even go so far as to rationalize belief in crazy conspiracy theories like birtherism or Obama being a secret Muslim. Sure, the portion of white America says they're not "prejudiced" and admit blacks deserve the same rights as whites, but in the recesses of their character, they do not want a black family next door or a black man elected president. If even 10% of the electorate thinks like this, it creates a significant obstacle the honest and egalitarian portion of the electorate must overcome in an election. Fortunately this latently racist portion of the US electorate is on the decline demographically. They are dying off, replaced by young white Americans who do not accept the old sins of racism, sexism or homophobia. The extremism of todays GOP is a case of "running scared" and reflects the desperate convulsions of an old and out touch view of the US society. I just hope the convulsions of this dying minority doesn't create too much damage in the process and leave us a weakened and divided society, instead of a stronger one.       Toby Threadgill

Saturday, October 27, 2012

My right to pick who I want. So screw off.

Yesterday we had our yard signs for Obama stolen from our private property. We had my car keyed because it had an Obama for President sign on it.

Here’s what I have to say to those who did this and to your political party.

You are losers.

I have the right to vote for and to support anyone I choose.  If you don’t like that, you have the right to go screw yourself.

It is going to cost $2,500 to fix the Obama with an x through it on the trunk of my car. Think the GOP will pay for it? 

No way.

I HAVE VOTED FOR OBAMA JUST TO PISS YOU OFF.  I hope he looses the popular vote and wins the election in the Electoral College. If he does, I will raise my middle finger to every member of the GOP who whines out loud about it not being a fair election.

And I will repeat…Go screw yourself.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Land of the free...

I am sitting in my studio working today, while my housekeeper is busy vacuuming and dusting and changing the beds. In the background I can here Rosa’s (my maid from Mexico –a citizen now) granddaughter singing. She is signing the Star Spangled Banner in a child’s voice, but with perfect pitch, knowing every word. 

This is America. God bless her, for the old white man, the immigrant and the immigrant’s grandchild. We are a melting pot. But we are Americans.

I wish every American alive could have experienced this moment. The young child had no idea I was listening. She was just signing. And her song, her voice and those marvelous words that capture the spirit of her land and mine, are so true and so pure.

The land of the free and the home of the brave.

It is the same weather you are white, black, brown or purple. It is true no matter where your family came from. From Guanajuato or from Scotland. This is the land of the free. God bless America. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Just some ramblings

What’s with all the truck tire carcasses in the roads these days?  It’s like they are everywhere? Can we not build tired to stay together anymore?

And how is it that suddenly oil prices and gas prices are falling again? thought we had this huge shortage?????

Why is paving streets such a big deal?  We can build a bridge to nowhere, but potholes are ruining the drives in Dallas.

Do we really need a $180,000 a year public relations officer for the Dallas School district? Answer NO.

Just heard that running for a city council seat in Dallas costs you at a minimum $250,000.  (Some districts as high as a millions bucks.) The job pays $30,000.  Seems to be there is some major room for graft management here.

Tony Romo?  Really?

Everybody is lamenting all the depletion of Ranger bats in their line up and the loss of power.  Watch the Giants. Pennants are won with great defense and even better pitching. Detroit, too.

Tony Romo?  Really?

Now that Big Texas has burned down, I’ve got a good job for Rick Perry…hummmm.

University of Texas at Austin says it uses race as a qualifier in admissions.  I thought just a few years ago we marched in the streets to stop that shit.

Just noticed that my drive-up ATM machine has a section for brail instructions. Really?

Ohio just decided that it could not execute a man because he had the flu. They would have to wait until he recovered. Really? Thank God he doesn’t have a beard, in the military he couldn’t even go on trial.

Jerry Jones. Really?

Had Mack Brown lost to Baylor last weekend he might have lost his job at UT. But then again, we would have won salvation for life at any Baptist church in the state.

Want to know how important football is in Texas. The UT system loses about a million dollars in product sales if UT has a losing weekend on the gridiron. Or said differently, UT makes about a million dollar more in product sales during a winning weekend as compared to a losing weekend. Numbers are apparently pretty close to the same at TAMU.

Jerry Jones. Tony Romo. Really?

Anybody know who has made the huge difference in Houston this year. Wade Phillips. That name ring a bell.  Maybe Jason was the problem with the offense after all.

Jason Garrett?  Really?

Here’s to Dallas play calling.  First Down –right side off tackle run.  Second down – left side of tackle run. Third down. Go long.  Forth down – punt.

Jason Garrett? Really?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Your guy sucks.No, your guy guy sucks. No...

In Monday’s Dallas Morning News there was an article about the severe state of combativeness that social media has exposed in this year’s election. One in ten people reported to a Pew Foundation research project that they have either been dropped as friends on Facebook or Twitter or they have dropped friends themselves due to political disagreement. One young lady even related a story of she and her brother-in-law not speaking anymore because of posts she wrote on her Facebook site. Family versus family, reminds one of the Civil War days.

I asked some old timers (I myself an touching 60, so these people were at least 61) if it had always been this contentious. The answer is yes and no.

Yes, people have always been devoutly for or against a candidate. Especially around the re-election of Richard Nixon. (George McGovern just died this past weekend and his memory brought about some hard feelings between two of my friends over the anti-Vietnam protests. That war has been over for almost 40 years; yet, some people can’t let go of the fact that there were many Americans who thought we were wrong for being in the jungles of Southeast Asia. Of course McGovern’s campaign, which at best was like a wounded duck, was scandalized by the Nixon Plumbers in a little fiasco called Watergate. And the whole country went round and round over that one.) And even before Nixon, there were the Kennedy attacks in the local newspaper as he came to Dallas in November 1963 – attacks calling the President of the United States a traitor. Pretty strong language from a pretty stupid minority of narrow-minded folk – not unlike a lot of the attacks today.

But as hateful as those times were and as strong as the attacks on the candidates, there were not the personal attacks as have been assembled on people of different beliefs. (I, for example, have never had my car keyed because of a bumper sticker before. That just shows the childish and immaturity of the radical idiots on the other side. As soon as one of them reads those words, a new battle – a new skirmish – will break out on the web. And so it goes. Perhaps the media is the reason we have such vitriolic display of loss of civility. Too much access too instantly.) And that leads us to the ‘No’ answer.

According to many, the sheer power of social media has made the instant jabbing, the political bobbing and weaving part of the prizefight of today’s politics. It is akin to a man dropping a lighted Molotov cocktail into a crowd and then quickly crossing the street to watch the ensuing chaos.

People have always had yard signs stolen. High school pranks no doubt, but several homes in Dallas and other areas have been painted with racial slurs for families supporting Obama. (If you haven’t noticed or been watching for the past four years, Obama is a black man upsetting an inflamed white minority’s world.) But again, the rise of these sharp and uncivil political responses is somewhat new and unsettling in America.

We have always thought of ourselves as a land of free speech. A land where you and I could differ and still be friends. A land where political differences are settled at the election poll not with spray cans of red paint or keys scratched across the surface of expensive private property.

There will always be idiots amongst us. But even very close friends of mine, people who I considered educated and very open-minded have become sullen and antagonistic in this election season.

I just go back to the week before the last inauguration, when a friend of our family’s told me, he was ashamed of America sending a “nigger to the White House.” I use the pejorative in this case that he uttered to make a point. People are very, very upset at this time in our history. And many hate the man running for re-election. And they have hated him, even before he took a single step into the oval office. So their hatred could not be based on his policies. He had not enacted any. His cabinet was a cross section of Republicans and Democrats. So their vile could not have been his staffing of a cabinet. It was aimed at the color of his skin.

Yes, this election is the most contentious I’ve ever seen. I hope we can get back to politics as usual. Democrats hating Republicans and vice versa, just for general good of the country. And I hope we can get rid of the racial under current, which has lingered since November 4, 2008. It is too divisive for a country such as ours. It has no place in our society.


Do your duty

I went to the poll yesterday to cast an early ballot – quite a crowd for day number one of early voting. The line was long, but well organized and moved quickly.  I looked around me and discovered even in white bread north Dallas there is still a melting pot of people. Whites, Blacks, Asians and Hispanics– old and young, college-educated and day laborers who barley finished high school; yet, they were all there to do their civic duty. Vote.

Longhorns, Aggies, Horned Frogs, Bears and Mustangs along with a few schools I had never heard of, ordained the t-shirts of several in the crowd. There was even a man with a West Virginia shirt on, but we let him vote anyway.

There were Jewish mothers and fathers, Baptist housewives, Methodist ministers and a few agnostics and atheists sprinkled in among those voting at a Lutheran church. Got to love the openness of America.

It felt good to be part of the democratic process. Going to a polling station and placing your vote for the men and women you wish to run the county, the state and the country for the next few years. It is almost cleansing, as if by placing your marks on a ballot, you’ve done your part in insuring that democracy works.

My wish is that every American who can, will go and exercise the one right that no one will or should take from you – the ability to have a voice and a say in your government. And yes, your vote counts. So go exercise it. It will do you good. It will do America good. And if you go at noon, I’ll have a better chance at a parking place at the mall.

Good luck to your candidates.  And remember, your vote is just as important as the Kock brothers’, even though they spent a hell of a lot more on their votes than you did.

Speaking of the Kock’s…if an employer tells you must vote a certain way or to give funds to a certain political party or candidate, call the U.S. Attorney General’s office or the local police or even the local newspaper. It is against the law. We don’t need that crap in our process. Not today. Not ever.

How you vote is your business and yours alone. No company, no church and no union has the right to control your vote.

It is your vote. Take care of it. Exercise it. Make it count.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Stop the Press

Just had a chance to see the AMS-PBS documentary by Mark Birnbaum Stop the Presses, about the demise of the printed newspaper in America. Besides being an extremely well produced video, the piece also sets up the premise of the danger to democracy that the disappearance of the daily newspaper may bring.

In my new novel, The Myth Makers, I deal with the decline and death of a major city newspaper. It is top of mind to me. So, this week I asked people what they thought of the death of a newspaper, say if The Dallas Morning News were to go away, how would it affect them? And the answers disturbed me.

By in large, all the people I talked to said that if Dallas were to lose its daily newspaper, they would miss the Cowboy’s coverage.  Number one thing – the cowboys. Most of these were men.  The women said they would miss the features –non-specific, but features.

Then yesterday morning I got up and walked the neighborhood and looked at front lawns early. I wanted to see how many people on a Sunday actually took the paper. It was discouraging. There were far fewer homes with a plastic sheathed paper than there were with none. And even fewer had two papers, usually the tale-tale blue plastic wrapping of the New York Times.

On a day when America used to slow down and read a daily newspaper, there are far fewer people reading the news. True, many are getting it on the Internet. Others rely on TV or radio, but the watershed of information that comes to us in the printed form of a daily newspaper is remarkably low and it is shrinking.

This is worrisome.  Because if all your news and opinion forming information come from Fox News or from MSNBC, then you are getting a highly slanted and biased veneer. It is bad enough to rely just on a veneer, but to have it cut in a prejudiced direction is even more disturbing.

As one young man said to me, “I watch Fox News because they agree with me.”


And what if you are wrong?

He didn’t have a comeback. What do you vet your ideas and facts against?  What do you use as a standard of truth? How do you know you are right?

And that is what worries me.  To be sure, The Dallas Morning News is no great independent sentinel in the country – its voice is far from independent– but it is all we have here standing between us and the total darkness in many major categories of news, which the electronic media doesn’t even bother with. Yes, there are voices such as the Dallas Observer and others that raise truth to a new height, but as for the coverage of daily news, we need a strong newspaper. We need it until the newspapers figure how to use the web in their dissemination of their information. So far, their attempts have been very feeble.

I will miss a daily newspaper, if it were to go away.  I will have to find another way to examine what is going on in my world. I hope you feel the same. And I hope you take a subscription to the daily newspaper, to keep it alive as long as we can, to give them the chance to figure out how they will deliver quality journalism to us in the future.

Stopping the presses now, is not a viable alternative. It is far too dangerous for our democracy. 

I am glad a director such as Birnbaum took on such an important topic in his film. And I hope this message will be carried to you. Read a newspaper. It will make you smarter. Subscribe to a newspaper. It will make America stronger.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The witch-hunt...or...can you spell politics?

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California is on a witch-hunt. Here in election time he is trying to once again bring public light onto a problem of on-going intelligence gathering and deciphering during a time of crisis. (Remember he was the one who tried unsuccessfully earlier in the year to bring down Attorney General Holder due to the Arizona boarder patrol agent’s shooting.) So, here is my question for Representative Issa, where were you when President Bush was sending in troops to Iraq based on intelligence that said there were Weapons of Mass Destruction stationed all over the countryside? Where was you committee and its insistence on seeing all the evidence then?  Huh?  Can you tell me Rep Issa?  Can you? 

No. You can’t.

Because a Republican was in the White House and it was not an election year.

You wait to do your witch-hunts when the cameras are on and you can make hay for the GOP against a sitting president. You are only doing it for politics. You are the lowest of all the GOP fungi. You try and sound God-almighty self-righteous and in fact you are a little tyrant in the same mold as Joe McCarthy.

Carry on Mr. Issa.  Your day will come.  It always does. And when it does I will stand an applaud your leaving your elected seat in whatever shame it is that brings you down – you and the other depots that sit in the chamber once inhabited by honorable men and women. Yes, keep up your witch-hunt and go after the President of the United States. That is most patriotic, and you and your party love to wrap yourselves in the stars and stripes of Old Glory.

I am sure that Benghazi needed more troops.  But the House of Representatives itself turned down funding for more state department sponsored personnel for protection of U.S. embassies around the world. Tea Partiers saying that it is not necessary to spend any more money aboard.  Mr. Issa. The vote came on your watch.  Might want to do a witch-hunt in your own ranks.

                                                X       X       X

Now onto another topic: for those of you who wrote or called in about where Chapter Two of Dream Chasers is…well…I checked with the publisher and it will be daily starting Monday. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

                                                X       X       X

And finally, a special thanks to the University of Texas English Department and the graduate Creative Writing Track for having me as a guest of honor this past week. Besides enjoying some very fine food, I had the pleasure of meeting some exceptionally bright graduated students and faculty who are making the writers school at UT something quite special.  Hook ‘em horns…

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Man on the Grassy Knoll


Dallas director, Stan Hart is undertaking the cinematic challenge of bringing John Crawley’s novel, The Man on the Grassy Knoll, to life in a thirty-minute short by the same name. 

There have been countless theories about the assassination of President John Kennedy in Dallas on November 22nd 1963. Hart now introduces us to Raul Domingo Salazar, who has a different story. Told in a series of taped interviews with Salazar who sits in prison, waiting sentencing on a drug hit, the viewer is taken back to the streets of Dallas on that fateful day. But well before that terrible act in Dealy Plaza, we are all transported further back to the recruitment of Raul in Mexico by the CIA and his subsequent training and landing with Castro rebels in Cuba.

“The book tells the story of the fictitious second shooter in Kennedy’s assassination in transcript format. That is great for literature, but hard on the camera. To bring that to life in video is quite an undertaking. Crawley delivered us a marvelous screenplay that adds dimension and excitement to an already shocking story. Putting it through the lens is a marvelous exercise,” said Hart, a thirty-five year veteran of the Dallas film and video scene. “We all know how the story ends. It is how it gets started that The Man on the Grassy Knoll tackles.”
Hart explains his motivation, “I’ve always wanted to do a historic film. I’ve always wanted to do a fiction piece. With The Man on the Grassy Knoll, I get both worlds colliding head-on. It is a director’s dream come true.” The project is currently in pre-production; filming to begin before the holidays. “Our hope is to have it ready for the spring video festivals and especially for airing here in Dallas by summer since this coming year will be the 50th anniversary of the assassination on the streets of downtown Dallas.”

“I’ve known Stan for a number of years now,” said Crawley in a recent interview. “His view of this script is nothing short of amazing. The detail we get into is phenomenal. Things I took for granted in the writing of the book, have to be gone over in minute detail for the film. Stan peruses this with a focus like I’ve never seen before.” When asked about the staging of a historic novel such as this, Crawley says, “We are approaching the project as if it were totally real history.” 

Hart concured, “Even though it is fiction, we want the viewer to believe Raul was there and the story he is telling could very well have happened.”
Was there a second shooter?  Look for The Man on the Grassy Knoll and maybe you can find out.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Dreams begin today

-->Chapter one delayed 24 hours. Will come out on Thursday. My apologies....technology!!!!!

Just a reminder that my new serial novel, Dream Chaser, begins today at Venture Galleries.  (http://venturegalleries.com/category/blog/)

Everyday will feature a new chapter and you can follow along or go straight to Amazon and purchase the book. (Not sure it’s up at Amazon quite yet, but soon, I promise you. My publisher, Gallivant Press, promises you.) Remember, following along at the blog site is free. Doesn’t cost you a dime.

Dreams are funny things. Sometimes they feel so real, so life-like – as if you could reach out and touch those around you; yet, other times they take us to places we could barely imagine in our waking hours. Dreams are the paintings – the movies– of the subconscious, a most powerful place for human development and exploration. Just as we have traveled deep into space and far below the ocean’s surface, we are now venturing inside man’s brain and our portal is the dream.

Matt Stephens is an out of work electrical engineer. He will take us along on a journey through his dreams. But hold on. The ride is wild and dangerous. You never know whom you might meet inside the world of dreams.

No Thursday blog. Working on the movie. We’ll see you back here on Friday.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Extra Innings versus overtime.

I’ve been watching the baseball playoffs recently and have discovered why baseball is still America’s pastime and not football. Take last weekend for example.

In Dallas, at halftime, the football game between Texas and Oklahoma was over. Finished. No comebacks. Sorry. Not enough time and enough Hail Mary’s can pull it out. Why?  The clock. Too little time for heroics.

But in Yankee Stadium there were heroics all weekend long. Come from behind, walk-off wins in extra innings. Unknown, has-beens, hitting not one home rum, but two – to first tie the game, then to win the game. Time – that is the clock– was not a factor. It never is in baseball. It is only the man and the bat versus the man and the ball. Your fastball, curve and change-up versus my flick of the wrists with this piece of lumber from Louisville.

And that is what makes baseball so American. It is never over until it is over. You can always fight back and win. There is no artificial entity involved – the clock. Your team versus my team in nine, ten or a thousand innings – whatever it takes.

Same is not true for the elections. Thank God. Where a clock – or in this case a calendar says time is up.  Your guy versus my guy until November 6th. Then it is cast your vote and count ‘em.

Winner take all.

I prefer baseball in sport, because there is always a chance to come from behind and win.  Miracles can happen.

But in my politics, I wish there was less time.  Too much noise for far too long, it hurts my ears and I believe it hurts America, too.

As for football in the second weekend of October – there is always next year. This year there are no miracles for the Longhorns. Not this year. Maybe in baseball.

Unashamidly self promoting

Starting this Wednesday a new novel by yours truly will be coming out in serial form. You can find it on the Venture Galleries web site. A chapter at a time will reveal the plot and characters of this new thriller.

It is called Dream Chaser and is published by Venture Galleries.  You can fine this serial novel and others at www.venturegalleries.com/category/blog/ 

Hope you enjoy this new book and this new way of receiving fiction. I am told if you like it after a few chapters, you may jump ahead to Amazon and purchase the eBook. You don’t have to wait for the whole thing to unwind before your eyes. (A lot of readers don’t have the patience for a serial spellbinder.)

Anyway, it’s a new way to introduce readers to our works and we look for ward to your comments about the new novel and the new process. the writers and editors at Venture Galleries are truly excited about this new venue to showcase our stories for you.

The great thing about the eRevolution in publishing, is that all kinds of new things are being tried. And many are as old as the hills. Serial stories and serial books were popular when I was growing up. And that was last century. And here they are, coming around full circle and in vogue once again.

Look forward to see you at Venture Galleries in the blog section reading the new novel, Dream Chaser.

One other hint, coming in December a new full-length novel from me called The Myth Makers. It has been in the works well over two years. Look for it for your holiday reading.

Friday, October 12, 2012

In the long run, cheaters never win, do they, Lance?

I’ve been collecting my thoughts about Lance Armstrong over the last few days, what with the news of the teammates who came forward to testify against him. They have made a most solid case that he was, in deed, doping – in fact, he was the ring leader of it all.

I remember watching with a great deal of pride as Lance sprinted up the Alps leaving the others in his wake. Always some fool racing on foot beside him, carrying a Texas flag. There was a great deal of pleasure in seeing that. A fellow Texan, kicking ass and taking names.

But then the truth settled in. Lance was a cheater.

He took the rules and bent them. He broke them. He walked all over them. He destroyed what we love about sport – the competition. Two guys, two gals – going at it head-to-head…best person win. But not so with Lance. He had an unfair advantage.

He was a doper.

I will always remember the days watching him winning his seven Tour de France races. But instead of remembering them with pride, I will now remember them with a sense of betrayal. We gave our trust to Lance. We gave him our hearts. We cheered for his efforts.

He gave us lies and soiled results.

I remember when Carl Lewis lost his world record to a man who had doped before the race. It took a year, but the guy was convicted and Carl’s record was restored. But as Carl said, “…it is not the same. I won only in the record books. I didn’t get to enjoy the fruits of my hard work on the track. That was taken away from me.”

Same is true with all those riders who finished second to Lance Armstrong. They will now be champions. But only in the record books. Their day on the track was taken from them.

By a cheater.

Contador did it. Armstrong did it. Others as well. Cycling has to clean itself up. Or we won’t follow it anymore. We hate those who win by cheating. Play hard. Compete head up. And if you lose, you lose. But if you win, then you are a champion. Take short cuts, and you are just a has-been. Like Lance Armstrong is now.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I just can't remember...

(Reprinted from Venture Galleries Blog Site.)

Heard a band play not long ago and saw the lead singer totally forget the lyrics to his song.
I mean the guy was singing along and then nothing. He wasn’t an old fart like me, either. Guy was in his twenties. Later in the set it happened again. The singer blew it off as too many distractions in his life. And we, the audience, applauded because we knew exactly what he meant.
I mean there are TV shows, news shows, debates, the Internet. Facebook, Tweeter, and gobs of other sites I have not yet learned about. There is eBay and BidNow and the daily newspaper and the weekly magazines and the on-line magazines and then there are books. (Remember them?) And neighbors wanting to come over and talk. And then you want to go to the neighbor’s house and talk. And then the pets go missing. Not bad if it is a cat , but the gold fish is most disconcerting.

Didn’t we have sushi last night?

Pollsters call. They come by your door. The catalogs have started arriving – by the pounds. The emails are piling up. Your bank demands you change your PIN number. They even tell you how it can be changed to be accepted by them. (Arrogant bastards!)

No fault of your own, you forgot to pay the credit card bill on time. Or was it the phone bill? Why is the electric service truck in the alley? “Honey, have we paid the light bill?”

There are visits to the doctors’ offices. Insurance forms. Then calls to the insurance company because a period was left of a form. The car has to go into the shop for computer adjustments. And your own PC is getting slower and slower, not to mention that you are waking around with a two year-old iPhone, for God’s sake; or worse yet – an original Blackberry.

All of this builds and builds. The kids need money for school. Their cars need tuning, tires and tags. The office is going to move adding thirty minutes more to your commute. The Rangers lose. The Astros go into the American League. Chavez is re-elected in Venezuela. More illegals cross our borders. And the price of gasoline enters the stratosphere.

Wait, the Rangers had a thirteen-game lead just the other day. What happened to it?

No wonder the guy can’t remember the lyrics to a couple of songs.

And through all of this we want him and about a million other people like him, to remember our books. Remember to stop what they are doing and go buy them.

Good luck.

There is a lot of competition out there and little of it has to do with publishing. Most of it is life’s static. That bleeding noise which seems to infiltrate every corner of our being. It saps our energy, our imagination and our memory.

I mean, I’ve even forgotten the point I wanted to make – oh wait – it is this. Your marketing has to cut through all of that to be successful.  You aren’t just competing against Stephen King or John Grisham – oh no. you’ve got CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, ESPN, FX, TNT, TBN, HBO, PBS, RSVP and God knows who else standing in your way. Not to mention The New York Times, and times changes in the fall (do we spring or fall and in which direction? What day does it happen on.)

And don’t forget the trash has to go out, there’s a school play tomorrow night, a soccer match on Thursday and the Lawrences want us over for cocktails Friday at six-thirty sharp. And through it all you are supposed to remember to buy a book. A book. A quiet little invention with words printed in it. A book, among all this cacophony. Shew!

Who the hell are the Lawrences?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

You can't trust Mr. Romney

A war breaks out in the middle east. President Romney announces that America will side with Israel for her protection. then the Arabs state that if we do,  we lose all our oil production from their cartel. Mr. Romney does an about face and proclaims Ala the one true God and that Israel should be driven into the sea.

Sound far-fetched?  Not so. As many times as Mitt has changed his positions in this election, this is the kind of President he very well could turn out to be.  An opportunist who makes his living on taking over companies in trouble then sucking the blood out of them, isn't exactly standing on the highest ethical ground. When you flip flop as much as he has done – it becomes down right deceitful.

Obama may have laid a couple of goose eggs in his term of office, but Mitt has laid a track record of not having any will power to take a stand and to stick with it. Not very presidential, not very manly, not at all what we need.

I like the ideas that Mitt is gravitating toward right now. I like that he is moving to the center. But come election time and he wins, what proof do we have that he'll stay there?  If his track record is any indication and his recent history as well – NONE.

You can not trust Mitt Romney.

Sorry. I want a President that will make the tough decisions, even the unpopular ones and dig his heels in and take a stand for America. Mitt, you're not that guy.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

No road to paradise

It might just be my perception, but I swear that the state has been working on I-35 between Belton and Waco since my college days in the 1970’s.

It reminds me of the on-going construction on I-45 in Houston heading toward Galveston. That project was at least thirty years on-going, as well.

And why is it that every time the State of Texas Highway department decides to build an overpass from one busy road to another, they manage to make it only one lane wide?  Is it for job security, knowing that in a few short years they are going to have to come back and do it all over?  And it is not just in Texas.

In California, along the 405 – arguably one of the busiest freeways in North America – the exit to LAX, arguably one of the busiest airports in North America, the exit ramp is but one lane wide.

Originally Woodall Rogers ramp heading north onto U.S. 75 was but a lane. Then they “painted” another lane into existence. Reminds me of Wertheimer in Houston. The city said it needed widening, so what did they do?  Took up the lane stripes, and placed them back down in far more narrow lanes creating enough room for a new lane. Brilliant. And most cost effective.

But one lane for a freeway to freeway exchange?


The other day the news reporters were warning Dallas traffic that the High Five overpass connecting U.S. 75 to LBJ Freeway (I-635) was going to be closed down to one lane. So?  It’s actually only one lane as it stands now. To be sure, two cars can go up the ramp a certain distance, but it closes down to one lane before merging. So where is the problem? We’ve been stuck with one-lane access since the highway as constructed.

If we are going to rely on highways in the future for our transportation corridors (and it appears that we are…) we need them to be thought through a whole lot more. And it would also be nice if every road in Texas wasn’t a toll road.  Tell us, Governor Perry – where did all the highway funds go? Funny, the state can invest in a Formula One race track in Austin, but in Dallas we’ve got to pay a toll to travel faster than 35 mph on our freeways.

Monday, October 8, 2012

You need to change your code. Yesterday.

Passcodes. I hate them.

There I said it.  Remembering a dozen different passcodes is something that my aging mind doesn’t like to do. Keeping up with the ever-changing ones is next to impossible. I know, I sound like my grandfathers, but so be it.  I’ve got a passcode for the bank. For the insurance company. For the car alarm. The home alarm, the savings and loan, the stock broker, the ATM, the motorcycle maintenance manual.  Hell, I’ve got a passcode for the damn refrigerator water filter order system.

Then the other day, my bank made me change mine. Made me do it; They wrote a note that said, it is time to change your passcode.  (You should know that by their own measure my passcode was in the upper 90 percentile of effectiveness. The one they assigned me was only at 50 percentile secure rating.  I immediately changed it back to what I had with a little twist just to make the IT boys happy.)

Then last night I signed into another financial account and my passcode didn’t work. I must have forgotten something.  I checked and re did it. Nothing. Again. Nothing. Now I was locked out.  And furious.

I was given a prompt, which said, “Please call us Monday through Friday at regular business hours.” Regular business hours.  Why would I need you then? I am on-line working when I am home and you guys are asleep in your nice warm beds.  Give me service when I need it. Too bad. No can do.

So I logged in today only to discover an email from the institution telling its customers that “Hey, we’ve changed your passcodes over the weekend.”  As in past tense.  No notification on Friday that, “This weekend we are going to change your passwords so you won’t be able to access your accounts until Monday.” NOOOO!

Talk about being hacked off.  I called. I gave the IT guy a piece of my mind and he said, “You know, I’ve been getting a lot of these calls today.” YOU THINK? His own institution had not notified IT that changes were coming this weekend. Apparently some hot shot account guy or analyst lost some records last week that had a list of codes in them and the institution was scrambling to cover their rear ends.

If I have picked a passcode. Leave it alone unless one of your numbskull ivy-league finance majors losses about a billion names and addresses and passcodes. Then send out an emergency notification that says, “We screwed up and here is your temporary passcode. Please use it for the next week then change it to a new one. We are so sorry for hiring people from Harvard and Yale.” But send it out prior to changing things. Not after the fact. Even if its by only an hour or two. That would be nice. Nothing like trying to log in on a Sunday night and not being able to get in and not knowing why until Monday morning.

And quit making us change them at random.

Passcodes are personal. And they are hard as hell to remember, as many of them as we have to keep up with. Don’t make it tougher on us by constantly requiring us to change them.

Now, if I can remember the code to get into my blog publisher, I’ll send this out.

Friday, October 5, 2012

What’s gotten into football?

I’m headed out to the game today. West Virginia v Texas. Let’s see I’ve got my seat cushion, my windbreaker, my rain slicker, my binoculars, my tickets, my parking passes…oh yeah and my calculator.

Seems that the Big 12 is putting up some unbelievable numbers in offensive production – read points.  And to keep up with them, you almost need a PC in the stands.  63-70 Baylor and WV last weekend. I mean I can remember the days when Texas didn’t score that many point in basketball. (Like last year.)

Nick Saban at Alabama isn’t sure this fast-paced, high octane offensive is good for football. He likes it slower, more defensive and controlled. Coach Royal would probably agree with him. But Royal is gone from the sidelines and Alabama is having to put up fairly big numbers itself just to remain on top in the SEC. Nick worries that the no-huddle, fast-pace of the game will lead to more injuries of players. (He may have a point.) But fans are not going to fall asleep in the stands in the Big 12.

I watched a defensive struggle the other day on TV between two Big 10 teams (Lets see the Big 10 has 12 teams and the Big 12 has ten teams….Hummm?) The ball went back and forth as the strong defenses played smash-mouth football. Punt after fourth down punt it went. My friends watching with me finally said, “Turn the channel this is boring. We might as well be watching soccer.” But to a real football fan it was a good-old fashion game. A fight in the trenches. Mano-mano.  No fancy flea-flickers or double-reverses.  Run ahead and pass ahead. And punt. This was Jimmy Johnson football.

Then I saw the highlights of the Baylor –WV game. It was like watching a match at Wimbledon.  First one who breaks serve, wins. It was breathtaking and fun. It was like backyard football. “You go, long and I’ll hit you by the blue Mustang under the pecan tree.”

Yes football is in the air and in the Big 12, so are higher mathematics. No, longer is it just x’s and o’x – no we’re solving for X in algorithms of heavenly reaching scores. So here is to offensive coordinators for lighting up the skies. And here’s another toast to the defensive coordinators who just need another drink to brace themselves for another aerial bombardment.

Why I can remember the days 17-9 was a big day at Memorial Stadium…of course, we had real grass in those days. (Both kinds.)

No Sunday Blog this week. I’m taking a day off to visit the State Fair. Corn dogs, new cars, fried gumbo (no kidding) and butter sculpture. You gotta love Texas.

Note #2:
That was no infield fly rule hit. the umnps in the Bravs/Cardinals game blew it.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

“Let me be very clear, America, I have changed my mind. Again.” –Mitt Romney.

I am sure of two things. One Mitt Romney won the debate the other night.  Mostly on style points, but won it he did. And two, he has moved left, from some of his far right positions, now placing him squarely in the center and this is making a lot of Tea Party faithful angry. Rumor has it that giving to his campaign has slowed to a trickle. (Maybe it’s why he turned his back on trickle down…)

Why the problems for Mitt, with this apparent win?

Because nobody on the right can compromise. They think it is a dirty word. Mitt knows he is going to have to. He’s run a state before. And he knows a lot of good ideas have come from the Democrats and their President. I mean, he had Mittocare in Mass. It is exactly the same as Obamacare. Without the Boston accent.

So here is how the race is going to shape up. Can Romney move far enough into the center to get voters in seven key swing states to vote for him over the President? If he can he will get sworn in in January as the next President of the United States. If he can’t do that, he will be another victim of the right’s all –or-none polices when choosing their candidates. Something that the Democrats fought in the 70’s.

Here’s the question that he will have to answer. Do his yet unseen economic policies create jobs? Millions of them?

On the other side of the table, Obama, who was playing a far too cool “not to lose’ mentality is going to have to come out swinging and forget trying to look so Presidential. It is time to show leadership, courage and an attack dog mentality. America likes that. And do it, without being too negative…a fine, fine line to walk.

Here is his cue card: the economy has improved under me, and it is getting better. It’s been slow hard fight, but we inherited such a deep hole anyone would have taken this time to turn the ship around. Get America to believe that, to remember 2007-2008 and he has a fighting chance. If he doesn’t, then Mitt can call the moving vans.

Romney has an edge. But it comes with a big price tag.

He can point to four years of little to no growth – all be it in an economy that was ripped apart by the policies of a Republican administration who got us into two wars financed on credit cards, lowered taxes and a runaway medical pharmacy fiasco for Bush’s’ drug-making buddies and a totally deregulated financial industry – a product of Right-Wing lobbying for seven years.  But Mitt has to be careful that to distance himself from Trickle Down, which the party was backing strongly – and the Ryan faction still is –  he must keep a foot in the tax reform camp. If he doesn’t, he will lose the right. And Obama will keep his clothes at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. another four years. That too will be a fine, fine line to straddle. And the tax reform has to be middle-class based in reality, not in lip service. Protect the yachts and private jets – and he’s history. This is about workers – not their bosses. Lose sight of that and the big O stays in D.C.

Both guys are going to have to address the deficit. And do it pragmatically. But before we tackle the debt, we are going to have to put the country back to work and fuel the American Industrial engine. Without that energy, the debt is going to hang around regardless which party is in power and lives at 1600 Penn Ave.

It is going to be a very interesting last month of the campaign.  One thing is for sure, Medicare and Social Security found two friends last night and the Tea Party got shut out. I’m betting that even Obamacare will survive a Romney White House in some fashion. Maybe not totally intact, but it isn’t going away either.

Game on folks.  We’ve got a real choice this time. As my friends in East Texas say, ‘a racist, Islamic terrorist lover versus a Mormon flip flopper who will promise anything to anyone to get elected’.  God loves America…just look at who He’s sent us to lead us. 

Where the hell is Moses?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Enough of the noise. It is time to vote. Then drink.

A buddy of mine in Hollywood told me on the phone the other day that the studios all have slap-stick comedies ready for the new year. Their idea is that the nation will be so battered and bruised after November’s election, that we will all need some laughs.

Interesting marketing.  Perhaps true, too. Laughter, after all, is good medicine.

But this week has also found me having to answer some rather harsh letters that right-wing friends of mine have sent out regarding the President and his office.  Friends that I do not want to give up on, but who need a bit of medicine on their won side of the aisle.

Here are some harsh truths for both sides to swallow. Obama isn’t as bad as the pundits make him out to be.  He is a fairly centrist President. Romney isn’t going to be as radically to the right as Dems make him out to be. He’s too smart for that. (Even if his own party can’t see it, the center is from where you rule America.) So both guys could do a reasonably fair job.

You will have your favorite. You will not like the other guy. And that is fine. I, for one, was never wild about Al Gore, but I didn’t trust the W, either. So we have all been here before. You’ve got your fellow selected in your heart and in your brain.

Fine.  Keep it like that.  Just stop with the lies and innuendo about the other guy. For example, white, Christian women are not going to have to sleep with Mormon men if Romney is elected President. None of us will be forced to go to Paraguay to evangelize for the Mormon church. The same is true if Obama gets re-elected. Lubbock is not going to be invaded by the U.N.  And we are not going to give Israel to the jihadist. So can we quit already with the inflaming accusations?

There will be Medicare. There will be Social Security. There will be a tax break (for which Americans it remains to be seen…but a tax break is coming). And there will be rumors of wars, earthquakes and famines. Life will go on.

And get this. There will be national health insurance. Regardless who is President.

Go to the polls and vote for your guy.  It is your duty as an American. And good luck to you. Hope your guy, whichever one he might be, wins.

Then go and have a good laugh. And thank God that you are an American and we can have a “civilized” debate among responsible adults…oh wait…we’re still working on that.  Maybe that’s the first joke we should laugh at in the new year.  Looking back at this process and how terribly dark and silly it became.