Not a Blog

Ugly, Ugly, Ugly

September 30, 2020 at 4:36 pm
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I have seen every presidential debate ever held.

I began taking an interest in politics when I was still in grade school.    The first presidential election I followed was the race between John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon in 1960.   I was twelve years old.   It was an historic occasion.

Most of you are probably way younger than me.   JFK died before you were born.   You may not even remember the day he was shot, let alone the election that won him the presidency, or the debates that played such a big part in that contest.   But fortunately you have YouTube.   Take a look.


Millenials, Gen Xers, Gen Zs, play a little of this.   The opening statements, at least.   The issues and controversies of 1960 are part of history now, and may not seem hugely relevant to us today (though some of them still are)… but it is the TONE of the debate that I want to draw your attention to.   This is what a presidential debate is supposed to look and sound like.   Two candidates exchanging views and ideas, debating facts, dealing with the issues of the day, all the while treating each other with respect.   It was a DEBATE.   Lincoln and Douglas would have been proud.   Maybe it was not the most exciting television in the world, but it gave us a good view of both candidates, where they agreed, where they differed.

I have seen every subsequent debate as well.   Nixon and Kennedy had three more of these, and I watched.   I was watching when Ford blew his election against Carter with a gaffe about Eastern Europe.   I was watching when Bill Clinton turned the 1992 race in the three-way debate with Bush the Elder and Ross Perot.   I saw Ronald Reagan debate Jimmy Carter, and John Anderson, and Walter Mondale.   I watched Obama against McCain, and Obama against Romney.   I saw all the good moments, and all the bad ones.

I have never seen anything like what I witnessed last night.

It was appalling.   Offensive.   Disgusting.    Donald Trump was bad four years ago in his debates with Hillary Clinton, but last night he set new records for being offensive, obnoxious, and rude.    He ranted, he raved, he shouted, he interrupted again and again and again and AGAIN, refusing to let Joe Biden finish a sentence without breaking in.   He spoke over Biden, he spoke over the moderator, he ignored the questions, he ignored the rules — rules his own campaign had negotiated and agreed to — he told shocking lies, and doubled down when called on them, he engaged in smears and personal attacks, he tried to discredit the result of the vote before most of America has even voted.

This was not the behavior of a president.   This was not the behavior of a presidential candidate.

This was the behavior of a schoolyard bully, an obnoxious child, the tinpot strongman of some third world dictatorship.

Look at the debate from 1960.   Can you imagine either Kennedy or Nixon engaging in behavior like this?   I am certainly no fan of Nixon, and he did some pretty shady things when he got into the White House (Watergate and all).   He said some pretty obnoxious stuff in his private moments as well.   So did LBJ.   So did other presidents, other candidates.  IN PRIVATE.   None of them would ever have behaved like Trump did in public.

It is not a question of Democrat v Republican, or Liberal v Conservative.   Nixon would not have behaved as Trump did.   Ronald Reagan would not have done so.   Nor Eisenhower, nor John McCain, nor Barry Goldwater.

Donald Trump disgraced the presidency last night.   He took a piss all over democracy.

All other issues aside — and there are hugely important issues being decided this year, from race relations to climate change to the pandemic — last night’s “debate” proved one thing beyond any doubt.   Joe Biden is a decent human being, and Donald Trump is not.


Current Mood: angry angry

Jetboy Lives!

September 30, 2020 at 8:43 am
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((Well, not really, but the memory of him survives)).

A few posts down I shared the wonderful Billy Joel / Wild Cards parody.

Here’s another Wild Cards song I stumbled on, from YouTube.   This one is an ode to the Kid Who Couldn’t Die Yet.


And read on!

Current Mood: amused amused

0-3, 0-3

September 27, 2020 at 6:51 pm
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Life is meaningless and full of pain.   At least on Sunday.

The Jets and the Giants did it to me again.   Two more losses.   Horrible losses.

The Giants lost their first two games, but at least they were competitive.   They hung tough in those contests, even had a shot at winning or at least taking the lead late in the game.   Not today.   Today the G-Men looked as bad as the Jets.   The 49ers crushed them.   A debacle, start to finish… and what was worse, they lost to a backup quarterback and San Francisco’s junior varsity defense.   Depressing.

Come the afternoon game, the Jets were miserable again.   The season’s first two losses were hideous, but this was the worst one yet.    Adam Gase needs to be fired.   Jets ownership thinks he is an offensive genius, yeah… but you know how you can tell if a coach is an offensive genius?   Their offenses score some points.   The Jets are getting worse, not better.   And Sam Darnold, our heralded quarterback of the future, is regressing.   He threw three INTs this afternoon, and gave up a safety.   He was supposed to be the best prospect in his draft class, but right now he is looking like the worst.   Gase is supposedly a “quarterback whisperer.”  I have no idea what he is whispering to Darnold, but it isn’t working.   Looking at the schedule in the weeks to come, Gang Green could easily go 0-8 or 0-9, unless they win one soon.

Most of the year, I work seven days a week.   The exception has always been Sundays in the fall, when I take off to watch NFL football.   This year, that is starting to look like an exercise in masochism.


Current Mood: discontent discontent


Another Nameday

September 24, 2020 at 8:43 am
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I had a pretty nice birthday.   And thanks to all my fans and friends who sent me greetings by email, text, or (in one case) card.

Parris came up to the mountains to visit me in my fortress of solitude, the first time she has checked out the cabin, and I was thrilled and delighted to be able to spend some time with her.   She brought me a wondrous present, a  wolf from the same Santa Fe artist who made my ravens.   I will need to take a picture and post it here.  He’s marvelous.   My thanks to Dahlia, her right hand and assistant, for helping her make the trip.

My assistant Sid, who is an incredible baker (she owned her own coffee and pastry shop when she was only eighteen, before coming to work for me) baked us a birthday cake from scratch, a gorgeous… and delicious… red velvet cake with cream cheese icing.

I got several other nice gifts as well, among them some amazing old vinyl albums, including old Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers radio dramas, and an album of JFK’s speeches.   Which is uplifting and depressing at the same time, when one contemplates how far we have fallen.   My thanks to my friend Ti Mikkel for the thoughtful present.

Come evening, we watched the Emmy Awards.   A very strange Emmy night.   Jimmy Kimmel did a nice job hosting, playing to an empty auditorium, and I got a hoot out of the big robo-boxes that John Oliver and a few others received, with a big hand that burst out clutching an Emmy when the winner was announced.   Congratulations to all of this year’s winners…. and to the losers.    I have lost quite a few myself, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the bridesmaids… whether Emmy losers or Hugo losers.   It IS an honor just to be nominated.

In addition to the pandemic-inspired weirdness, it also felt odd for me personally.   For ten of the past eleven years, I have attended the Emmy Awards in LA… including last year, when GAME OF THRONES won its fourth for Best Drama.   But I have to say, it was much more relaxing to be watching from home.   The big Hollywood awards ceremonies are exciting, beyond a doubt, but they are also very stressful… and exhausting, especially for an old codger like me.

And there is no doubt, I am an old codger.   As of the 20th, I turned 72.   Damn.   When did THAT happen?   The years have gone by so quickly, it seems.  Inside I certainly do not feel 72.  Hell, scratch me and that kid who wrote those letters to Stan & Jack and stories for dittoed comics fanzines is right below the surface.   Truth be told, birthdays tend to depress me these days.   And this year… ancient as I may be, there is no doubt that 2020 is the worst year I have ever lived through (I never thought any year could be as bad as 1968, till now)… I think the occasion might really have gotten to me, if not for that fact I was surrounded by friends and loved ones.   Thanks to them, I did have a happy birthday.

Current Mood: happy happy

Words For Our Times

September 21, 2020 at 9:12 am
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Current Mood: determined determined

More Losing

September 20, 2020 at 6:03 pm
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Well, today was my name day, and my birthday gift from the Giants and Jets were two more losses.

Pretty depressing.

In many ways, a replay of last week.   The Jets were terrible, just awful.  Awful offense, awful defense.   The 49ers scored a Td on the first play of the game with an 80 yard run from scrimmage.   That never would happened if Jamal Adams was still in green and white.   Every game, every play, letting Adams go looks worse and worse.   Sure, sure, you can say maybe the Jets will pick up some future Hall of Famers with those draft choices.   Maybe, perhaps, mayhaps.  But it won’t happen.   Adams, however, is a sure bet to go into Canton if he keeps playing at this level the rest of his career.  Sadly, he won’t go in as a Jet.  Oh, and letting Robby Anderson go is looking pretty bad as well.  Darnold has no one to throw to.   If they keep playing at this level, Gang Green will be competing for the #1 overall pick in the 2021 draft.

The Giants lost too, of course.   But just like last week, it was a much better loss… if any loss can be considered good.   Danny Jones committed too many turnovers, and of course the loss of Saquon to injury was devastating.  For the game, the season, and maybe for Big Blue’s future.   He was and is the best player on the team.   That being said, despite the turnover and the injury, the Giants hung tough and were in the game right up to the final play.   One more completion from Jones, on the last play of the game on the Bears goal line, and we’re talking about a come-from-behind victory instead of a second loss.   But… sigh… it did not happen.   So both the New York teams are 0-2.

Oh, and the fake crowd noise continues to be annoying.   Especially when the guy in the booth dialed up a chorus of BOOs from the “home town” crowd in Chicago on a penalty that went New York’s way.   Come on, NFL.   That is so stupid.  What’s next, a laugh track?

Anyway… life is meaningless and full of pain.   At least where football is concerned.

(Yes, that’s a lot of other misery going on outside the stadiums, but I will save that for another post).

((Comments allowed, but only for NFL football.  Off topic comments will be trashed)).


Current Mood: grumpy grumpy


Viral Music

September 18, 2020 at 9:43 am
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Jason Powell is back again, with a new and expanded version of his Billy Joel parody, to include references to a few of the latest volumes of Wild Cards.   It’s a lot of fun.   If you’re a fan of either Billy Joel or Wild Cards, you may get a kick out of it.

And remember, signed copies of all the Wild Cards books are available from Beastly Books.   Many with multiple autographs.

And yes, that includes the new trade paperback reissue of DEALER’S CHOICE, which Tor released on September 1.  Just in!


Current Mood: amused amused

Lose One, Lose One

September 15, 2020 at 1:24 pm
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The NFL season has begun.   The strangest NFL season of my lifetime, maybe of anyone’s lifetime.  Teams playing in empty stadiums, to the sound of piped-in crowd noise.

The empty stadiums are a necessity in the midst of our pandemic, of course.   That needs to continue to keep everyone safe.

I could live without the fake crowd sounds, however.   The whole cool thing about playing before a crowd is the reactions of the fans… the roars that greet a good play by the home team, the groans and curses that greet a bad play, or a good one by the visiting team, the boos that rain down from time to time.  Trying to replace that with some guy in a booth twisting dials just adds an element phoniness we do not need.   Let them play in the quiet.

The Jets played on Sunday… and lost to the Buffalo Bills, 27-17.

The Giants played on Monday night… and lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 26-16.

But scores can be deceptive.   The Jets game was not nearly as close as the score would indicate.   The Giants game was much closer than the score would indicate.   The Jets were never in their game, not for a second.  The Bills beat them every way a team could be beaten.   Gang Green’s offense was terrible and their defense was worse.   You kind of had to expect the D to stink, since they traded away their best player (Jamal Adams) for some magic beans.  You hoped the O would be better, since this was the third year for Sam Darnold, who was drafted third overall and thought by many to be the best QB coming out of that year’s class.   Clearly he is not.   The Bills Josh Allen outplayed him from start to finish, and down in Baltimore Lamar Jackson is setting the league on fire.   The Jets could have had either, but chose Darnold instead.  More and more, that is looking like a bad decision.   An even worse decision was hiring Adam Gase as coach.  The team was not ready to play.   You can blame the coronovirus and the lack of a pre-season, sure, except the Bills had the same handicaps, and they looked just fine.    The Jets may need to clean house AGAIN.

The Giants, on the other hand, were right in the thick of the things from opening kickoff to the moment Dan Jones threw that awful interception in the end zone.  Aside from his two INTs, however, Danny Dimes looked very good.   Way way better than Darnold, though he has been in the league only half as long.   Big Blue’s defense impressed as well.   They came hard after Big Ben all night, hit hard, hung tough.  Pittsburgh stacked the line to shut down Sasquan Barclay and New York’s run game, daring Jones to beat them… and he almost did.   That 19-play drive was a thing of beauty till the end, and the bomb to Slayton was lovely to watch as well.   This was the first outing for new head coach Joe Judge… and a definite upgrade over what we saw under Pat Shurmur.   I don’t know how many games the Giants can win this year, but I see hope.

A loss is a loss is a loss, of course… but some losses are better than others.

A few wins down the win, in these bleak and bitter times, would do wonders.

((Comments allowed here, but ONLY about NFL football.   ALL OFF TOPIC COMMENTS WILL BE TRASHED)).


Current Mood: gloomy gloomy


Scary Stuff

September 14, 2020 at 11:19 am
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Just watched a Netflix documentary about social media called THE SOCIAL DILEMMA that terrified me more than any horror movie I have seen in the past twenty years.

I have never been a fan of Twitter or Facebook or any of the other social apps out there.  My Not A Blog remains my main (and really my only) method of interfacing with the internet.   The accounts I have elsewhere largely just echo stuff I have already posted here.   I do think the social media is having terrible effects on our society… on political discourse, on journalism, on the fabric of our democracy itself.   But I do not think I ever realized how bad it was until I saw this doc.

I do hope we can find our way out.   But I am pessimistic.

But then, I am pessimistic about a lot of things these days.


Current Mood: scared scared

More Death

September 12, 2020 at 2:07 pm
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I am late to post about this, but I was very saddened by the news of a couple recent deaths.

The world of television and film lost a titan with the passing of Dame Diana Rigg.   Such an amazing talent.   It was such an honor to have her on GAME OF THRONES as the Queen of Thorns.  I only had the chance to meet her once, when I visited the set the first year she was on the show.   As brief as that meeting was, I count that a rare privilege.  A lovely lady.   As great as she was as Olenna Tyrell, for me… and for most every other member of my generation… she will always remain Emma Peel.


I was also moved by the death of Tom Seaver — Tom Terrific, the Franchise, the Hall of Fame pitcher for the Amazin’ Mets who led them to their World Series Championship in 1969.   I never met Seaver at all, but of course I was a fan.   I do not follow Major League Baseball as much as I did when I was younger, but as a kid in Jersey I was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan, and had my heart ripped out when Da Bums moved to LA.   So of course I became a Mets fan when they began play in 1962 as an expansion team.   I suffered through all the years of losing — as lovable as they were, they were still losers — and the turnaround led by Seaver and Koosman and the rest of the Amazin’s in ’69 was nothing short of miraculous.

It is odd, when you think of it, how caught up a sports fan can get in the fortunes of their team… but the emotions are real.   That World Series victory made me so very very happy, that even now half a century later I still smile when I recall it.

And in these dark days, we need every smile.

Goodbye, Tom.  Goodbye, Diana.  Rest in peace.

Current Mood: sad sad