Monday, November 24, 2008

Death Star Jr.

So the mass-market paperback of Death Star just arrived -- 25 copies, all nicely shrouded in bubblewrap, delivered right to my front door by a polite emissary of the United Parcel Service. Ain't life grand?

It doesn't look half bad. Couple of nice blurbs and ads for my Coruscant Nights trilogy on the inside flap. Plus it's nice and thick, which, as we all know, is good value for your hard-earned dollars. I think it'll do well. It's my 24th book.

Okay, enough smugness. Up it goes on my 5-foot shelf, and on I go with my life.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Kegger Of Amontillado

Some thoughts on living with Parkinson’s Disease, borne of trying to explain what it’s like to some friends:

It’s a lot like being trapped in an Edgar Allen Poe story (pretty much any one, as they all seem to be about premature burial, being mortared up behind a wall, etc.). The one that comes most readily to mind is A Cask of Amontillado.

It’s also like going around in my own private gravity field -- one with a faulty intensity switch. There are times when I feel like I'm wearing my “Parkinson’s suit”, which consists of a big bag of dirt strapped across my shoulders, five-pound bracelets and gangland-style cement overshoes (the kind favored by Jimmy Hoffa). Each movement, even little ones like picking up a glass of water, takes at least twice as much effort. It also throws my balance off.

As bad as that is, however, if I had to choose against between that and not having a voice, I’d pick the Parkinson’s suit every time. For over eight months now I’ve barely been able to croak a few words with about the same clarity as a dyspeptic frog. And when I can produce enough air support to make a sound, it’s so hypernasal you can’t help feeling that somewhere a village is missing its idiot.

So I try to write, but that's no good either. My hand shakes, and people with Parkinson's are prone to micrographia, which means writing teeny-tiny words. I can't write longhand effectively. I can type, but picking away laboriously, one key at a time, really draws out the conversation to an excruciating degree for most parties.

I still have stories to tell, but they're trapped inside my head. Yeah, I know people have written wordage of Proustian length while completely paralyzed, save for an eyebrow or a pinkie they can twitch, so quitcher bellyaching, Reaves. I'm not that bad off, comparitively. But what's a blog for if not to blow off steam every now and then?

There are a lot of crimes that a lot of people have laid at George W. Bush’s door, but the one that’s affected me the most is, of course, his all-but-unilateral ban on stem-cell research, as a cynical bone tossed to the religious right, who think it’s blasphemy to use blastemas for research.

Think about it. To use just one hypothetical example, if stem-cell research hadn't been so hobbled and blinkered over the past eight years, Christopher Reeve might still be alive. Maybe even walking.

It's a sad universe we live in when Superman dies of bedsores.

Obama says that one of his first acts as president will be to undo many of Bush’s medieval policies, and stem cells is high, if not first on the list. I hope so. If I had a god I’d pray for it.

Remember A Cask of Amontillado? Remember the ending, as Montressor walls Fortunado away, brick by brick, in the tomb of his ancestors?

“For the love of God, Montressor!”
“Yes,” I said, “for the love of God.”

Monday, November 17, 2008

Reefer Mildness

I see that Massachusetts has pretty much decriminalized personal use of marijuana, more or less by 2-1.

Out here in enlightened California, of course, we've had milder laws concerning loco weed for some time. Unlike Massachusetts, however, same-sex marriage is still against the law.

I guess it’s comforting for gays and lesbians to know that, even though they still can’t marry in the Golden State, they can at least get stoned and forget their problems.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


So it's 12:30 in the morning, and I can't sleep. I rev up the StumbleUpon button on my browser, and first click off, what do I learn?

"(Edward Gorey) had particular affection for dark genre series like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Batman: The Animated Series, and The X-Files; he once told an interviewer that he so enjoyed the Batman series that it was influencing the visual style of one of his upcoming books."

As my son would say: Dude. Dude. Edward Gorey. I mean, yeah, okay, it's from Wikipedia, which means you're best off taking it with an entire salt lick, but still --

Edward Gorey.

Excuse me while I do a total fanboy wigout.

Anybody out there have any idea which book of his we influenced?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Proposition Hate

One of the biggest arguments against “intelligent design,” for my money, is the concept of the reproductive organs being chock-a-block with the excretory ones (and, in the case of the penis, actually doing double duty). Either God has a really sick sense of humor, or everything above the amoeba has been the most screwed up operation since the Bride Of Frankenstein.

I’m just going to say this straight out -- the physical act of homosexuality really freaks me out. It gives me the willies. (Male homosexuality, that is; along with Woody Allen, I’m much more tolerant of lesbianism.) And why do I confess to this politically-incorrect stance? Simply to point out that, even feeling this way, I still find the passage of Proposition 8 a high (or low) point in bigotry and intolerance.

It seems we always go two steps forward and one step back. We elect a man who's right for the job at long last, without letting the color of his skin be an issue. We finally repudiate the backwards intolerant policies of the incumbent party. But then we heartlessly marginalize a percentage of the population for a difference than is really, when all is said and done, no difference at all.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes We Did

I’ve said it before -- I’m not a political animal. I’m not even a political vertebrate. (That sounded a whole lot funnier in my head.) But, like I suspect many people have, I’ve followed this campaign with a passion and a desperation the likes of which I can’t recall feeling in a long time -- maybe ever.

I grew up in the 50s, and I lived in the Deep South during the early 60s. I’ve seen racism as a casual, cruel afterthought of society; seen public rest rooms, waiting rooms, drinking fountains and the like divided into “Colored” and “White”, and attended a public school in Tennessee in which there was one, count ‘em, one African-American student in a student body of about 400.

He wasn’t referred to as “African-American”. Or “Black”. Or even “Colored”. I never knew his name. I wish I could say I championed his cause, but as a stranger in a strange land myself, I was in no position to stick my neck out.

I never thought I would see a black man elected President.

I have to say, I’m proud of my country. Not so much because we elected, at long last, a black man President, but because we elected the right man President.

Yes we can. And yes, we did. There just may be hope for us yet.