Posts

Showing posts from November, 2016

Fidel Castro, 1926-2016

So he's finally dead.

I don't know where to begin with this post, because the reaction to Castro's death has devolved into predictable fault lines. People are roasting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's tribute? Condolence message?Colin Kaepernick stepped in it- yet again. (ESPN's Dan Lebetard actually had something interesting to say about it.) There's a range of reaction out there, but I suppose if I have to begin somewhere, it would probably be with my email address.

Many moons ago, in the distant past, I think I went with a Yahoo.com account that was something like boristhatr1983 or some such idiocy. I have no idea if the address still exists or not, but eventually I transitioned over to Hotmail, which I still have and went randomly with fidelmags1979, once again throwing two world leaders that had always fascinated me together with a random yet to well, get what you get. Fidel Castro has always fascinated me for some reason...  I don't know if it…

It's Here!

Well, I finally shoved the sequel to The Prisoner and The Assassin over the finish line. The Kindle Edition of The Arrows of Defiance is now available for purchase! (If you're kind enough to drop a couple of bucks on it, it'd be awesome if you could drop me a review too!) So I guess, instead of one of my periodic 'This Month On Medium' posts, this is sort of a 'This Month on Amazon' post. That said:

The Prisoner and The Assassin

The Arrows of Defiance

If you're nice enough to buy them, I really hope you enjoy them. I had a lot of fun writing them and I think I've learned a lot in the process but my philosophy on writing has always been a simple one: always get better. I've got a month or so to wrap up a print edition of The Arrows of Defiance (I want to get that done by Christmas- fingers crossed) and then it's off to 2017 to try and figure out how to take my writing to the next level. Right now, I don't know what that's going to entail. (…

This Week In Vexillology #191: Guam

Image
The Brown Flag Challenge rolls right along this week with the flag of Guam:
I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume that every one has heard of Guam and knows that it's an American Territory in the specific, but let's get more specific than that: just where the hell is Guam out there in the big wide blue ocean of the Pacific?  Well, it's here:
(My apologies for this map being a little small. I tried to set it as extra-large and it was too damn big, but I assume this is good enough for everyone to tell where Japan, Korea, China and the rest of Asia are in comparison to where Guam is. That little white smudge on the right side of the image? That's Hawaii.)
So what's up with Guam? Discovered by Magellan in 1521 but it wasn't officially claimed by Spain until 1565 and served as an important stopping point for the Spanish fleet on the route between Acapulco and Manila. After the defeat of Napoleon, many of Spain's colonies in the New World became indep…

Coming Soon!

Image
Hi, Gang:

I wanted to this done much, much earlier in the year than I did, but it seems appropriate that it's finally get heaved over the finish line about three years after I launched The Prisoner and The Assassin out into the world for everyone to read.

Part of me is relieved. Sequels are hard, man. I had to keep so many things straight and consistent- which I probably failed at (there's going to be at least one thing in there that I messed up.) There's the pressure of expectations- you're aiming for The Godfather Part II or The Empire Strikes Back when you're talking about sequels- that's the gold standard. If you're lucky you'll get halfway there- I like to think I did.

The Arrows of Defiance comes from a speech that Chelsea gives in Chapter Four (it's one of two speeches that survived the editing and revising process more or less intact, which is kind of amazing.) It's a good speech, so I won't spoil it for you. I keep trying to find so…

Let's Talk About 'Mockingbird'

Image
I've been an avid listener of 'Jay and Miles X-Plain The X-Men' for awhile now, so when, about a month or so ago, I saw them Tweet something with the hashtag #StandWithChelseaCain attached to it, I got curious. I clicked on the link, did some reading and found out what it was all about and as usual, the big old 'DOES NOT COMPUTE' error message flashed in my brain.

Basically, Cain, who did an run as the writer for a Mockingbird solo series got chased off of Twitter after Mockingbird was cancelled- she had the temerity to call for Marvel to 'make room for more titles by women about women kicking ass.' The segment of the internet you'd expect to lose it's mind promptly lost it's damn mind after some ugly, online harassment, she deleted her Twitter account.

I've been sort of tip-toeing around the edge of the whole debate over toxic fan culture for awhile now. I've done plenty of reading about the Hugo Awards Mess, Gamergate and the like. I&#…

Albums2010 #84: High Times

Image
I feel like this might be cheating ever-so-slightly, but I also don't care. Technically, when I started this whole 'listen to 100 albums' thing about six years ago now, I wanted to listen to albums and sort of excluded Greatest Hits/Singles/Compilation albums, but for this one I made an exception.

Jamiroquai is one of those bands that I sort of run into from time to time and I usually like what I hear. Of course, everyone remembers the trippy video for 'Virtual Insanity'- but I also had 'Cosmic Girl' in my rotation, but a few weekends back I learned that the Napoleon Dynamite dance sequence is actually another Jamiroquai song, 'Canned Heat'. So having learned that and, looking around for an album to listen too, I decided to take a deep dive into the music of Jamiroquai and listen to High Times, their Singles Collection which covers 1992-2006.

First of all, I was somewhat surprised to learn that Jamiroquai is a band and not a person. They're fro…

This Week In Vexillology #190: North Western Province, Sri Lanka

Image
The Brown Flag Challenge is getting to the deep cuts of the program this week- heading all the way to Sri Lanka to take a look at the flag of the North West Province:
Well, the immediate challenge of breaking down this flag became clear to me immediately. In terms of symbolism, the Wikipedia page provided more of a description. A little more digging revealed that all the provincial flags are based on Ancient Sinhalese Flags- but no more than that. An interesting little tidbit on the CRW Flags website reveals that apparently, the provincial flags are straight up not used. But that's also as of the year 2000, so I'm not sure how much I trust that.
I found a similar looking image on this site over here, but irritatingly, despite the numerous descriptions for the flags below it, they don't have anything for the one right at the top. The closest ancient flag I could find was the flag of the Kingdom of Sitawaka- which has a few similarities but isn't an exact match either. S…

Sportsyball! (MLS Playoffs Edition)

MLS Quest
Okay...  I listened to this excellent interview with FC Dallas Manager Oscar Pareja and you should too if you love soccer, because FC Dallas is impressive as hell. But it also forced me to get serious about this whole #MLSQuest thing. So, hang on to your butts- because I've got a Final Four:

FC Dallas: because I really like the whole #BuscaLaForma thing they've got going on. Fostering homegrown talent is going to be especially important not just for the future of MLS, but US Soccer as a whole. I really, really like this.

Sporting KC: Geographic proximity + what I'm told is a vibrant fan culture keeps Sporting in the mix. Goal for next year: maybe go to a game?

Toronto FC:Were flat out fun to watch in the conference semis.

Minnesota United:They're the Loons! Of course they're still in the mix.

Adopt-A-Team
Well, they're slipping. Currently 12th in the Eredivise, they've had a 'meh' month- but I think there's some hope on the horizon- perhaps…

The Day After

Appropriately, I woke up with a vicious migraine, so I did as little as possible for most of the morning in an ultimately successful attempt to make it go away- or at least beat it back enough to do things like eat food and take medicine.

This all seems like some sort of crazy fever dream. I keep looking at numbers and being flabbergasted at what I'm finding...  this was a huge (or dare I say it: 'yuuuuuuge') miss for pundits, pollsters- pretty much everyone. The Markets, thankfully seem to have recovered some ground, but they had a bad reaction to all of this because the Lumpen Commentariat, as it were, was banking on a Clinton Victory. It was pretty much in the bag- it was going to be close, but her ground game was better than his and though it was going to be a long night, Clinton would grind out a victory. Hell, even Trump people were saying early on that they thought it would take a miracle for him to win, well, guess what? They were wrong. Every one was wrong. The on…

Election Day 2016 Live

Image
00:02
As I was leaving work, I got to see the first vote drop for this Election- and it was awesome. In New Hampshire, communities with less than a hundred people can open their polls and cast their votes at Midnight- and they kicked things off with the usual trio of Dixville Notch, Hart's Location and Millsfield. Hillary Clinton took the first two towns and Trump took the third. After all the dust had settled in the midnight voting, Donald Trump had a seven-vote lead.

Just a fair warning to everyone: this is going to get nerdy. If you don't want to see me get my nerd on, try a different blog, because to me, Elections are beautiful things. Yes, the candidates were underwhelming or just plain awful this time around. Yes, we're all praying for this to be over quickly and painlessly, because hey- this is America. We like our Elections to be long, painful root canals that last months and months. But the process is the amazing thing to me. Democracy isn't pretty- as Churchi…

Flip Your Ballot and Vote YES for Measure C

I'm already on the record as endorsing and planning to vote YES on Measure C, but the recent eruption of opposition from the local political establishment has annoyed me enough that I want to weigh in again. If you haven't voted already (if you have, I sure hope you voted yes) then tomorrow when you go to the polls, I urge you to flip your ballot and vote YES for Measure C.
The local establishment doesn't like change and it sure doesn't like potential challenges to the status quo. Here's the problem I have with both of those arguments: they're completely and utterly bogus.
The opposition seems to be under the impression that the voters (those poor, poor voters) would be flooded with so many ballot initiatives they wouldn't know what to do with themselves. They think it'll decrease participation in local elections, not increase. They worry that 'the students won't understand what they're signing' when the hordes of radicals begin petitioni…

'Star Trek Beyond' --A Review

Image
I'm not a Trek Purist by any stretch of the imagination- I loved the first Star Trek reboot/AbramsTrek/Kelvin Timeline movie- I loved how they tied the new timeline in with the old and the destruction of Vulcan was a brilliant move that demonstrated that while they wanted to honor the series, they weren't going to let themselves be bogged down in the decades of canon that came before them. And the sense of scale was perfect! For the first time, the Enterprise felt like a starship- a really big one and everything look amazing and really really cool.

I had a lot of hope and a lot of optimism after the first movie. It felt fresh, exciting, even new- just the injection a lagging franchise needed, right? Then came Star Trek Into Darkness...  ugh. Talking about pissing away your advantages. You can't divorce yourself from decades of canon only to cook up a contemporary half-baked remake of Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan which is universally acclaimed to be one of the best Star T…

This Week In Vexillology #189: Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Image
We're digging deeper in Week 3 of the Brown Flag Challenge, this time heading all the way down to the southern hemisphere to a couple of islands just southwest of Java and surprisingly far to the northwest of Western Australia. Yes, we're talking about one of Australia's External Territories, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
Well, here's the kicker right off the bat: the population of the islands is 596 as of July of 2014. Which...  hmmm, brings up a question. Is this the smallest population of any territory to have it's own flag? I might have to do some digging on that score, because now I'm interested to find out.

Second, let's talk about the whole (name) thing they've got going on here. Per Our Font Of All Knowledge, Wikipedia, the islands have had a complicated naming history. They've been called the Cocos Islands from 1622, the Keeling Islands from 1703, the Cocos-Keeling Islands (1805) and the Keeling-Cocos Islands (from the 19th Century.) I have …

Squawk Box: Adam Ruins Everything

Image
This show is my spirit animal. No, seriously. I kept seeing this pop up in my Facebook feed and I attempted to find it online somewhere, only to be told I had to download the TruTV app to get my fill of it. This, I did and I binged and it was amaaaaaaaaazing. This is what a reality show should be- hell, I'm starting to think that this is what the news should be. The episode on immigration and on voting should be required viewing for anyone and everyone planning to vote next week.

But, before I get to that, let's talk about the show itself. Basically, comedian Adam Conover shows up to tell people the truth about any given topic. Cars, Voting, Immigration, Nutrition, take your pick. Basically, he spends a half-hour raining down an annoying parade of facts about any given topic on unsuspecting players in his little game- but in a humorous and entertaining way. But here's the hook: he shows his work. You don't have to take his word for it at all, because not only do littl…

Again

Image
This is the worst part of the job. You wake up, roll over, check your phone like you always do- one of those ingrained habits of modern life that have dug into your brain and muscle memory. There, all over your social media are profile pictures, badges crossed in blue, state outlines crossed in blue. Your heart sinks and you scroll through to find out what happened. Two officers gunned down in Des Moines overnight, sitting in their cars.

Whenever I had to change the Department's Facebook page after one of these tragedies, I always used to take some comfort from the fact that I could count on both hands the number of times I've had to do it over the years. Hating it, wishing there was more than just words you could say, support you could offer. But now I seem to be running out of digits.

This is the worst part of the job.

My thoughts and prayers are with the friends, family and colleagues of the fallen officers of the Des Moines Police Department and the Urbandale Police Depar…

25

I was in third grade when it happened. I didn't really understand it then. Jagged flashes of memory jump out at me. The newspapers the next day. Talking about it in class. A neighborhood girl, scared and crying because they hadn't heard from her Dad. Someone called my mom and told her to try and call my Dad, because there was a shooting on campus.

I feel like it faded from the collective memory a bit as I got older. This was the mid-90s and a parade of horrors dominated the headlines. Columbine. Paducah. Jonesboro. It was a strange time to be in high school and I think it marked our generation in a way. I know technically we're all millennials, but as September the 11th marked the kids in high school just after we left, Columbine shattered our innocence- though, really, our innocence was shattered years before on that November day. It was a strange thing to contemplate. The mass shootings were seemingly everywhere and people would always try and comfort themselves by sayin…