Saturday, October 27, 2012

World Fantasy Convention schedule

Next week I'm moderating one panel at the World Fantasy Convention, but i's a good one. The WFC is literally a gathering of writers and I fully expect to have my mind blown. Here's the writeup on my panel.

Friday 1:00 p.m. GOTHIC FANTASY NOIR
In the Encyclopedia of Fantasy(1997) Mike Ashley writes: “The 
cityscape has replaced the old castle, and Urban Fantasy is the new Gothic.” As counter-intuitive as that may read, it can be a
rgued that this is true. And there’s a type of Urban Fantasy that could be termed Urban Fantasy Noir, with the popular “huntress” theme a variant of this: down these mean streets a woman must go, armed only with edged weapons and a wit as dry as the pavement is damp. Phillippa Marlowe, Boogen Hunter, still the knight errant. The panel will examine the evidence of a reversion, in Urban Fantasy, to older forms of literature, whether it be the despair of the Gothic or the bleakness of noir. And is the growth and popularity of Urban Fantasy—with its mean streets, grim realities, modern attitudes, and contemporary settings—a response to High Fantasy, with its emphasis on Arthurian-style legend and faux-Medieval settings? With more people living in,
or on the fringes of, cities than ever before, what’s the attraction of going to a darkly fantastic world under their streets or above their rooftops, as opposed to a distant past or an unknown kingdom?
Elwyn Cotman (M), Dana Cameron, Gemma Files, Elizabeth Hand, Rhiannon Held, Nicholas Kaufmann.

Who is this "Elwyn" Cotman? I look forward to meeting him. In the meantime, I'm brushing up on my Walpole and Hawthorne.

I look forward to seeing some old friends at this convention, in addition to making new ones One of the best things about publishing The Jack Daniels Sessions was entering a world of fantasy writers. Wondeful, beautiful, imaginative people. It's been a gift.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Chapter 91: In Which I Discuss Going to a Concert

New Orleans is some serious shit, my nigga.

I've been greatly stressed lately. There's too much to do and I'm not doing any of it to my full potential. It's that metaphor from Peter Jackson Tolkien come to life, "feeling stretched, like butter over too much bread." But music never fails to lift my spirits. At this moment I'm listening to "Princess Lily's Chant" by Jerry Goldsmith. It's a gorgeous song from the original soundtrack to Legend, the more classical OST they were going to use before the studio decided to be more "modern," replacing it with the now horribly dated Tangerine Dream soundtrack (for the record, I love both soundtracks [hate the movie (for the record ) ] ).

I found out pretty last minute that one of my favorite bands, the mighty NIGHTWISH, was playing at the House of Blues on October 11th. After a short debate with myself as to whether I should spend the money and time, I went on Ticketmaster, winced through their surcharges, and got a Greyhound ticket. Thus began my first Louisianan adventure.

I hate riding Greyhound. They charge you the most for the worst service. They also left me at a truck stop once, and refused me entry on the next bus because my precious ticket was on the last bus. You know, the one that left. Hate them. Megabus all the way. Nevertheless, there was no choice. The pricing was ridiculous as usual: 70 bucks for a 5 hour round trip. I should have walked. Anyway, while waiting in the station, I saw an electrician replace the old and broken Cruisin' USA game with a new Capcom Marvel Heroes game. This makes the Lafayette station the most impressive Greyhound terminal I've ever been in, because I've never known them to even fix their arcade games, let alone order new ones.

Nightwish is one of those bands who give me escape. I can listen to a song like "Sleeping Sun" and forget life for a while. Very few bands can do that for me, and very few power metal bands, despite the genre's mythic and fantasy content. I'd learned a few days before the show that Annette Olzon had left the band, so I wasn't caught off-guard when this giant woman strolled onstage with the band. The last time I was going to see Nightwish was in Batimore, but Annette got the flu. Now she leaves the group. I'm starting to suspect Annette was never real, but some kind of weird Japanese virtual idol. I've never seen her in person, so it's true.

Sometimes I feel embarrassed to be a Nightwish fan, because they have to be the biggest drama queens in all of metal fandom. You've never seen so many fits thrown over lineup changes for a band that has had THREE lineup changes in SIXTEEN years. Everything turns into some knockdown, drag-out flame war over Annette versus Tarja and it's tiresome. They also love to speculate about the members' personal lives. "Tarja acts like a diva." "Toumas is a dictator and he backstabbed Tarja." "Annette couldn't cut it." "They fired Tarja in such a mean way!!!!!!!111111" Obsessed with backstage interpersonal crap, like they're commenting on an episode of Vampire Diaries. And seriously, bands like Styx and Journey have had ten different lead singers. It happens. All that matters to me is the music, and Nightwish has maintained incredible quality over a long period of time.

The rumors say Annette left to start a nursing career. I'd be pretty impressed if the nurse treating me was a multi-platinum selling rock star before she found her true calling.

But I get ahead of myself. I got to see some of the Louisiana landscape.



The marshland is very interesting geography, and got my writerly mind imagining. That's always the best part of going somewhere new. After a dreary stop in Baton Rouge, I wound up in the Cresccent City.
The sight of the Superdome scared me. I don't know how your average New Orleanean relates to the thing, but I could only imagine people lying in their own filth, abandoned, forgotten, murdered and raped in the stinking football field. The story of the Superdome always stood out to me among the horrors of the hurricane. I kind of wish they'd torn it down.
Hurricane Katrina is easily the American tragedy of the 21st century. With 9/11, the fall of the towers precipitated a Genghis Khan-like rampage of justice, retribution, revenge, whatever you call it. We've murdered uncountable civilians in the Middle East, littered the sand with Muslim dead. Anybody who felt sore over the World Trade has a mountain of corpses to salve their victimhood. What did the gulf get for their troubles? An oil spill.

Heavy metal pigeons: "We come for your soul, and your bread crumbs."

New Orleans is one of those places you have to see, because explaining it to someone doesn't work. Your average American has no frame of reference because there's nowhere else like New Orleans on the continent. It reminded me of Havana. It looked like Havana. It smelled like Havana. (That's the smell of waste, btw). I arranged to meet with some folks at Petit Espresso to discuss touring in December. Turns out Petit Espresso closed six years ago. Thanks, Google. Anyway, I finally caught up with them and had a business meeting in New Orleans. That's about as official as it gets. I'm like Donald Trump in here.

"For the New Orleans native did chafe at what he deemed the effrontery of the Yankees, with their inscrutable ways , tres etrange, and the manner in which they unfurled red and white banners that said 'Coca-Cola' over the streets, until their presence seemed less an invasion than a virulent plague..."
                                                                                                    -George Cable, Old Creole Days

The concert itself was badass. Such gifted musicians. And it felt wonderful to be surrounded by my fellow Nightwish fans.

Overheard dialogue: "Wouldn't it be cool if somebody had a show with real live bats? Not like Ozzy, though. No biting the heads off."

I've decided to unleash bats at me next reading, just for that kid.

About a Korn concert : "People were even moshing to the dubstep." "
"How can you mosh to dubstep? It's like rock 'em, sock 'em robots."

I had a mind to tell the kid that I find even non-heavy metal dubstep mosh-worthy. It's great sex music, too. Man. Korn. That's a band I haven't seen live in ten years. I must rectify this.

Oh, yes, and this one kid sounded like he was from Long Island. Apparently, a New York and New Orleans accent sound just alike. I guess there's only so much you can stretch people geographically before the inflections start sounding alike.

This was a power metal crowd, as evidenced by the tiny teenage girls standing next to me. And I love that power metal shows don't have that moshing shit. I go to shows to enjoy the music, not participate in athletic contests. In fact, people were saving each other's spots in the crowd--not saving seats, but standing room--and just generally being respectful of each other's space. On this night I was not ashamed to be a Nightwish fan. I rocked the fuck out with my fellow fantasy nerds and it was glorious.

The hell?
Favorite audience member: that girl with the really long, high scream. Second favorite: the guy who who randomly yelled "bring it!" when the Kamelot singer was about to belt out a ballad. That earned him a well-deserved wry look from the singer.

Kamelot opened. I don't have a single picture of them that's remotely good. It was a quality set. The lead guitar's a real old school rock guy who did a lot of solos. They had two girls wearing black wings playing marching drums, and a girl who came out in a masquerade mask kinda thing, and the dudebro whose their new lead singer looks like that "Moves Like Jagger" guy but can actually sing, and at some point a girl in an S&M corset who looked like she stepped off the cover of Heavy Metal came out and started screaming. There were more people onstage than a Slipknot show. Good times.

After a musical introduction that seemed to last an hour, Nightwish came onstage. They are professionals, every one knowing how to work the stage, even those stuck behind drums and keyboards. Oh Nightwish. How you made me dance. I got to hear my favorites: "Dark Chest of Wonders" and "Ghost Love Score." Danced with my fellow fans. Did a do-see-do with one guy. I'm pretty sure at some point during the acoustic version of "Nemo" we folks in the middle got an obnoxiously long kumbaya sway going.

The band only sang songs off Once, Dark Passion Play, and Imaginaerum. This is the unfortunate part of having a new singer: the Tarja songs get jettisoned from the setlist. They've spent years gradually working those songs back into their live shows, making them suit Annette's voice, and now it's another do-over. "Ghost River" sounds great live, as does "A Song of Myself," even if they skipped the 7-minute long spoken word part (just kidding: I know that would've been awful live). I would have liked if they played "While Your Lips are Still Red," but no complaints. Surprisingly, they played the blues song "Slow Love Slow," not the kind of song I'd ever expect them to do live, yet fitting for the setting. That's what I love about Nightwish: they actually embrace the freedom that power metal provides to incorporate other genres. A song like "Slow Love Slow" shows their versatility more than any keyboard bombast.

People complain abut Tarja leaving the band when it was going in another direction anyway. Toumas was bored after so many albums of opera metal, and it's cool seeing him branch out.

Even in a state of calm, Marco Hietala rocks so hard a black hole opens from his very being

The giant blue woman reaches to high five the hand of God.


Eventually I stopped taking crappy pictures and watched the band. They had a bagpipe player who was going crazy on these pipes. Playing them like they were electric guitar. "Lasts of the Wilds" was just fun and I jigged my ass off. Jigging, headbanging, and swaying with my fellow Nightwish fans.

An amazingly clear picture of Floor. Don't get used to it.

I knew nothing about Floor Jansen, Nightwish's beautiful Dutch angel replacement singer, but that lady has some serious pipes. The audience was eating it all up, especially those guys behind me who kept yelling at Floor how much they loved her. Floor: I think you got the job.

Other notes: Toumas is very tall in real life and makes the funniest "I'm rocking so hard I'm in physical pain" faces. Marco has the thickest damn Finnish accent. I couldn't understand a word that came out his mouth. I also love the seven-man long devil horns some guys made (just kept adding fists), and all the dudes making hearts at Floor.

FLOOR: This has been a magical night. But, like all magical nights, it must come to an end.
GUY: Nope! Nice try.
OTHER GUY: Rewind!

Nightwish was doing autographs outside afterward, but I don't really care about such things, and already have their autograph on a copy of End of an Era somewhere. I had some time to kill before the Greyhound station opened. I killed it on Bourbon Street mostly. Everything people told me about Bourbon Street, well, I thought they were kidding. But no. It really is some disgusting shit. Drunk tourists stumbling around with giant drinks in their hands, grinding on each other in the middle of the street. Because New Orleans is where you go to to drink and fuck, not experience actual culture. I like that sexuality is open, with the myriad strip clubs and tranny hookers, because fuck that Puritan shit, but this nonsense was the kind of thing that makes me never want to have fun again. Just curl up in my monastic cell and live the ascetic life.

But damn, that city picks up at night. You wanna talk about never sleeping. My favorite part was the group of black women in the SUV, one of whom starts screaming at some white lady with a baby: "TAKE THAT BABY HOME! IT'S TOO LATE TO BE DOING ALL THAT! DON'T YOU LOOK AT ME, MUTHAFUCKA! WHO THE FUCK SAID YOU COULD LOOK AT ME!" After, you know, calling attention to herself. Bon temps.

Toumas triumphant

No encore

Other News

I recently ran into the guy who does the OTAKUAssemble Game of Thrones reviews, entirely randomly. Apparently dudebro goes to my school. I talked about the show with him a while, which was kind of crazy, because it was like watching one of his Youtube reviews, only right in front of me. Cool guy.

Other news? Eh. Something about a book, and a tour, and all my friends having books, and an international fantasy convention. I'll get to that.


All that great heart lying still
In silent suffering
Smiling like a clown until the show has come to an end
What is left for encore
Is the same old dead boy's song
Sung in silence

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Chapter 90: In Which I Discuss Recent Developments and Living Colour

Currently listeninig to Living Colour. God, I love this band. Love love love. They are so tight musically, and lyrically, and are still kicking ass well into their 40s. When they first came out, everybody was golly-gee-willikering about a black hard rock band. As if, you know, Jimi Hendrix hadn't redefined rock just 20 years earlier. In turn, critics ignored that this was a hugely talented group of musicians. Guitarists don't come much better than Vernon Reid (if you remember the "Cult of Personality" video, he's the one in the tie dye Zubaz pants), and Corey Glover (neon yellow wetsuit) is a legendary frontman.  And they weren't just rock. They dabbled in every genre. Country, calypso, soul, whatever. From the very onset, they showed a versatility few bands even think of.

But what I find most amazing is that they were commercially successful, while at the same time being conscious. Decades ago, they were fighting gentrification with "Open Letter to a Landlord." My personal favorite of theirs is "Wall," a screed against prejudice. Think about the giants of the late 80s hard rock scene. Metallica. Megadeth. Guns & Roses. Motley Crue. Living Colour were making political music at a time when rock was dominated by drug-addled, narcissistic sociopaths. Have you ever read the Motley Crue biography? Even with music to calm their destructive tendencies, they still managed to kill one or two people. Living Colour was actually on some grown man shit, talking about issues relevant to the world.

Found this awesome rendition of "Bi" the other day, from an early 90s episode of the Tonight Show. You can tell it's the early 90s because it doesn't have Kevin Eubanks barking like a circus seal in the background. Watch Corey Glover tolerate the presence of Roberto Bennini.

Is it just me, or is Leno trying to make out with Corey? I can't say I blame him.

Hard Times Blues/Once Upon a Body

Ten days into this most magical month of October, and we're revving up for hard times. The release date is scheduled for December 8th, just in time for my book launch in Lafayette. With this settled, the small press gears are in motion.

Pre-orders. We discussed whether to handle pre-orders through Kickstarter or Indiegogo, which, though few seem to grasp this, are pre-order sites. They are ways to simultaneously take pre-orders while judging the actual demand for the product. Ultimately, Christine and I chose to cut the middle man and do pre-orders through her site,

This ultimately puts more work on us, as far as keeping track of who orders the book and ensuring they get a copy. Six Gallery is a small operation that is currently doing overhaul on their online presence. Doing pre-orders through Amazon might have once been an option, but this book is not being printed through Createspace, Amazon's printing arm.

As I said in previous blogs, Createspace, being lame, doesn't do upside-down print. Apparently, some issue arose with the Pittsburgh-based printer we were going to use, which created all kinds of annoyance for my colleague Dan McCloskey (whose book comes out this month). The new printer is up in Massachusetts, and there's a possibility Dan can pick up his books while he's on tour in New England. I've been talking with my editor about possibly having the Hard Times Blues/Once Upon a Body galleys ready for him to pick up as well. So what we have is an adventure across Massachusetts to manually pick up our books. I wish I was coming along.

The number of books ordered depends entirely on availability of funds at any given time. Sometimes it's been the press' money, lately it's been my own. As I haven't toured lately, I've been ordering books for scattered readings (like the few I just ordered for World Fantasy). That said, there's never a ton of books to go around. Dan paid for his books out of pocket. and I will most likely have to drop cash for my own tour in december, at 2 dollars and change per book, if I want an adequate quantity. The small amount of books proved an issue with my first tour, in which I ran out of merchandise. A flattering problem, but still a problem. The count for December tour looks to be between 100 and 500. Again, this depends on the press' funds and how much I can chip in.

Which makes budgeting essential. I'm no longer putting any energy behind consignment, since I don't sell books from brick and mortar stores anywhere but Pittsburgh. And the corners I could cut in the Bay (such as using Bay Area Alternative Press to print hundreds of fliers, most of which I didn't need) will not fly now that I'm in the south. Hell, putting together CDs for when the audiobook comes out will probably have to go on an order by order basis. The good part about that is that nobody is bottomlining the auiobook but me. It's fun to be the sole actor on a creative project, and all the variables, good or ill, lie at my feet.

So my focus for gettting this next book out is word-of-mouth and online sales. As we are no longer printing through Amazon, the press has to ship them a number of books to sell, as opposed to the perpetually in print status of Jack Daniels Sessions. The downside: more work. The upside: we keep more of the profit, small as it is.

As you can tell, we're playing everything close to the hip. Christine handles presales. Cover illustrator picks up galleys directly from printer. Hell, Christine's book was written in the same coldass house in coldass Pittsburgh where I wrote my first book. That's one of the upsides: there's honesty and forthrightness when the people on your team are your friends.

All this talk of printing and distro only goes so far, as none of us are making tons of money. I mainly see this newest publication as an impetus to tour and perform, which is how I reach people, and connect, and make the most of this opportunity that's been given to me. I've been speaking with some New Orleans-based writers about doing a southern tour, and booking those dates is going on the list of 15,967 things to do between now and December.
I've seen the .pdf for the book and it's beautiful. Christine's section is more beautiful than minie, as it has a cover. A hell of a cover, actually. But mine is getting there. Okay, I don't have a cover yet. Maybe, in keeping with the retro theme of the project, I'll just have no cover, like an old beat-up copy of Dune you find in the used boosktore, the psychedelic cover ripped off so you're looking on grainy paper, a title, and "$3.00" penciled into the upper right corner. Anyway, as soon as I have a cover, I'll put it up.

I regret that one thing I've had no time for is new work. Charles de Lint once said that, as soon as he finishes one book, he starts another. Sound advice. Well, I finished one book, and I'm kind of floundering in short story land, adding phrases and sentences to stories that are simultaneously long and aimless. Not a good sign. Idid manage to get ine piece in for an anthology, and I'll tell which anthology it is after it gets accepted, because to start crowing and then find out it was rejected would be embarrassing. I plan on starting my next doomed NaNoWriMo novel on November 1st, so I guess this is my between-book rest period.

It's been a pleasure working with Christine through all the ups, downs, transcontinental communication, drugged-out hippie house shenanigans, and blown deadlines. If you check her site, I think we've had this book scheduled for release every month of the last year and a half. My own personal Dance With Dragons. But the ultimate pleasure is seeing such a talented young artist publish her first work.

In fact, a few of my friends are becoming first-time authors this year, with bigger presses than the ones I run with. One of my Mills sisters is putting out her first,, and one of my IWL sisters also put out a book,!contact/c1et. I know they worked very long on these projects, so it's even cooler when I can say I know these Published Authors. Dan's book is waiting for him in Massachusetts, and Kim Vodicka put out a book as well. Maybe times aren't so hard after all.

Oh, yeah, and tomorrow I'm seeing Nightwish in New Orleans. Nightwish. My first time in Nawlins. Yes!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Chapter 89: In Which I Discuss the Lies We Tell Ourselves

I watched the debates. I am currently a rhetoric and composition teacher, and assigned my students to analyze this farce, so I had to watch, too. Favorite part: Romney telling Jim Lehrer to his face that he would be out of a job should he become president. Then he proceeds to make the same threat on Big Bird, effectively sending Jim Lehrer and and the Sesame Street Workshop to the unemployment line, and it's only a half hour into the debate. Ah yes, the Republicans' age-old war against PBS. Lehrer was not a good moderator, but I can see how he'd be flummoxed by holding in his desire to punch this smirker in the jaw.

Other than that, the same talking points as ever. Drilling for oil, destroying reserves, giving more benefits to more billion-dollar energy companies. More hot air, as always. I look at those two men and see nothing.

Biggest disappointment: Obama did not bring up the 47 percent remark. For me, that was the most telling and honest moment of this election. So of course it was something not meant to be filmed. Romney himself came out with what would have been his response the other day, after Obama's failure to capitalize.

"Well, clearly in a campaign, with hundreds if not thousands of speeches and question-and-answer sessions, now and then you're going to say something that doesn't come out right. In this case, I said something that's just completely wrong."

"Well, clearly in a campaign, with hundreds if not thousands of speeches and question-and-answer sessions, now and then you're going to say something that doesn't come out right," Romney said. "In this case, I said something that's just completely wrong."

So this guy who wants to be president finds out in the home stretch of the campaign that many people who don't pay income tax are seniors and people who are just flat-out poor. Not the welfare queens trading food stamps for 40s while their eight kids play in the dirt. Well, I'm glad he learned something. Makes him a more well-rounded guy.

But deep down, he believes what he believes.

Over the summer I taught high school level ESL. These were rich kids, the kind whose parents could afford to send them across the world to a summer camp.  The most interesting part was seeing the gamut of privilege awareness. On one side you had those who were aware of the social constructs and systems of oppression their lives were built on, and on the other side you had those who were entirely self-entitled. Then you had a range in-between.

One time we were having a sociological discussion in the Upper Intermediate class related to different places and economies. This one kid, who was either French or Belgian, states "Africa does not have as much as Europe because Europeans work harder." Needless to say, all sorts of alarms went off in my head. As the teacher I felt it my duty to keep things focused on ESL, but asked him to consider the cultural differences that create different levels of wealth between (white) Europeans and Africans. I asked him if he really thought the average dirt-poor farmer, oil worker or diamond miner in Africa did not work hard, and eventually he came around that cultural differences could be the reason why one group has more modern-day distractions than the other group.

I did my best, but I was still BSing him. I felt it would have been out of line to point out that Africans are worse off economically because Europeans have been raping their resources for the last 200 years. And it's not the kid's fault. The Europeans do just as much to never face their colonial past as Americans do. Germams are more willing to make amends for Nazism than the horrors their Prussian ancestors committed in Africa. All the European kids at that camp had a vague idea that Nelson Mandela was an admirable peron, but nobody could even tell me what he did. They were fed the same nonsense about his election in South Africa ending racism that American kids get about Martin Luther King ending racism by giving a speech or something.

But it goes deeper. It's class. At some point, the boy's father obviously told him that the reason poor people are poor is because they don't work as hard. Not the situations they are born in, their resources, or the prejudices against them. This is what the rich tell themselves, and their children, in order to justify a wasteful lifestyle, and their own culpability in oppression. So it was interesting to me when Romney said basically what this kid said. Two people, separated by age and geography, with the same story embedded in their culture. Romney is a politician, a liar by trade, but I know he 100% believes this.

And that's always infuriated me. I've never met anyone on government assistance who wanted to be. Yes, living in the Bay, I met a fair share of lazy pothead assholes getting by on their EBT cards and welfare. California's a welfare state and it breeds that culture. The real people, however, were making ends meet on welfare while working jobs, when they could find work. Romney says such people "believe that they are entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing." Health, food, and shelter are apparently an entitlement now. That was a "let them eat cake" moment if I ever saw one.

Romney's the equivalent of that kid at the school who walked around with $700 cash in his wallet, then whined when it got stolen. His idea of what is important is completely divorced from everyone else's. Yes, people believe they are entitled to the basic things that were taken from them. For instance, there's a lot of homeless in the Bay. The wealthy keep arbitrarily raising property values with no end in sight. That's also why the area is such a powder keg. You cannot have champagne-sippers living in close proximity to that many people who literally have nothing. After all, gated communities were invented for a reason.

This is all propoganda. The shiftless negro (cousin to the negro rapist), the drunk Irishman, the siesta-taking Mexican, the no-class-having white trash. These stereotypes are invented to make the poor hate each other, and themselves. How many poor have internalized that they are not worthy of healthcare? The town hall meetings with the people shouting. And they say it's the blacks over there being lazy, without realizing that, in Romney's eyes, they're just one dirty lump.

And can somebody explain to me why this guy is running for president? Somebody who was pro-choice up until some mouth-breather told him this year that he's required to hate women. I know why Obama ran. Because at some point somebody told him (paraphrasing George R.R. Martin), because he looks nice, dresses nice, and smells nice, he should be president. Romney's the same kind of narcissist. This guy outright says he doesn't care about his constituents. He's there for the same reason Bush was there: to help out his buddies monetarily. For a guy like him, governance will always be second to business.

Behind that smirking exterior, there's some truly evil things going on. The Republicans are far right-wing. I watched a bit of the RNC, which they held in Florida this year, just to troll all the people they disenfranchised in 2000. A sea of white faces. And they were literally throwing nuts at a black reporter and calling her an "animal." I kind of liked the Clint Eastwood speech, rambling as it was, but the moment he said "we own this" and they started roaring was genuinely terrifying. I wondered how many people there were former, or active, members of the Florida Klan. The fact that they trotted out Condoleeza Rice made the whole thing even more sinister. I wouldn't want to be within a mile of such a place. Behind the rhetoric, there are people in their party who truly want blacks subservient, who truly view women as brood mares, who truly want homosexuals wiped off the earth. So it comes to the same decision as every four years: spineless beurocrats versus comic book villains.

It took me awhile, but I've finally joined the 50 percent (there are those percentages again) of Americans who don't vote. I probably will at some point, for smaller elections and such, but the federal election is just masochistic. On November 2nd I'll be in Canada at World Fantasy, watching the events from afar, probably talking politics all day long.

Despite what many say, Americans aren't stupid. Many people, not anarchists, not socialists, but regualr Americans see the two-party system as a smokescreen and refuse to take part. And sometimes their response is complete apathy, which is never good, but there's a large contingent who are just fed up with the whole thing. I don't expect the electoral system to change in any way. The change is going to come from the people, as these politicians keep letting them down.

Back to my point. Simply put, there are many rich people who hate poor people. The same reason many whites hate blacks: a guilty conscience due to oppression, and a refusal to acknowledge it by seeing the oppressed as the orginators of their problems. It is the fear of retaliation. Only hate would inspire somebody born with the best healthcare in the world to deny the poor healthcare. Obama said black people need to "pull themsleves up by their bootstraps." Obama is also a millionaire. He grew up in a privileged household in the tropical paradise of Hawaii, and does not have the slightest idea what it means to really struggle in this country.

I wish Romney had stuck to his guns. I believe that we, as a country, are moving towards a new level of honesty. Things are so bad that folks are losing the energy to keep up their lies. There's a reason the police--and vigilante cop wannabes--are shooting young black men left and right now. They simply don't have the energy to maintain that "protect and serve" PR, and just want to blast away their perceived enemy. Romney was raised to believe what he believes, same as that kid in the ESL class. It's a lie, but it's a lie that allows him to get through his day. It's a cornerstone, a keystone. It's the heart of him.