Sunday, December 10, 2017

My inner middle-aged curmudgeon

One of my personal Facebook friends was a bit dismayed today when the cashier at his local McDonald's automatically rang up a "senior's coffee" for him. 

Her intention was not to insult him, but to save him $0.45 cents. She remarked, as a consolation prize of sorts, that he "didn't look that old". 

My friend (like me) will turn 50 next year. Senior's coffees and AARP cards, here we come.

I replied in the comments thread of that post that I, for one, am not worried about such eventualities. I have always been a middle-aged curmudgeon at heart. 

He said, she said, they said

At the time of this writing, we don’t know how Roy Moore will fare in this Tuesday’s Senatorial election in Alabama. 

Moore, in case you don’t know, has been accused of making unwholesome advances on a number of women during the late 1970s and early 1980s. The alleged incidents would have occurred when Moore was in his thirties, and the women were in their teens. 

Roy Moore is now 70. His accusers are in their fifties. So everyone involved is now fairly old. 

I was here in the late 1970s and early 1980s. (I’m an oldster myself.) Overall, the Carter-Reagan era was a more permissive time, a time when people were a bit less riled up about…basically everything, like they are now. If there had been an Internet in 1977 or 1983, you can bet that it wouldn't have been as saturated with political diatribe as it is now. 

But even in 1977 or 1983, it was not considered copacetic for a thirtysomething man to put the moves on a high school girl. It happened, to be sure (as it no doubt happens now). But it was illegal, even then. Not to mention predatory, in most people’s eyes. 

So if Roy Moore really did everything that is alleged against him, he shouldn't be elected. He should never have entered public life, in fact. Surely he would have known that all this would come out.

On the other hand, if Roy Moore has been the victim of malicious slander, either for political purposes, or personal attention-mongering, then he is owed an apology. He would also have grounds for a libel suit. 

The question is: Did he do it? Or didn't he?

My answer: I don’t know. 

And really, neither do you. Think you know? Okay…prove it, one way or the other.   

Since everything nowadays is processed through the twin lenses of partisan politics and identity politics, your opinion about the Roy Moore accusations will doubtless boil down to whether you consider yourself a conservative or a liberal. Are you a Trumpist or are you part of the “resistance”? Are you a frothing misogynist (boo! hiss!) or are you one of the good enlightened guys (and ladies) who “believes women” when they come forward with such accusations?

Because of the personality of Roy Moore, and the mood of the country at the moment, don’t look for any rational discourse on this subject—at least not on the Internet. It’s become just another convoluted, stupid meme war.

But this question is bigger than Roy Moore, just as it’s bigger than the stereotype of the swaggering, presumptuous heterosexual male. In recent weeks, several gay men (the left’s beloved George Takei among them) have been the targets of sexual harassment accusations. 

And mark my words: It is only a matter of time before accusations are leveled against a prominent female CEO or politician. Life imitating the art of Michael Crichton’s 1984 novel, Disclosure

When we evaluate a claim of sexual harassment, we must evaluate it just as we would any other claim of wrongdoing: with objectivity, and reasonable standards of proof. 

We must balance the rights of victims with the rights of the accused. 

We must balance the reality of sexual harassment with the reality that in the 21st century, allegations of sexual harassment can easily be weaponized, to ruin a career or a political campaign. Yes, the incentives for false accusations do exist. 

Objectivity becomes more difficult as time passes. George Takei’s accuser waited 36 years to come forward. Roy Moore’s accusers have waited about that long—even though Roy Moore has held public office for four decades. 

Nearly 40 years after any alleged incident like that, the question isn't “Whom do you believe?”. The question is “Whom do you prefer to believe?”

Sarah Silverman’s selective fears

In a recent monologue, comedienne Sarah Silverman recalled being “scared” when a boyfriend hoisted the American flag in his front yard. 

Although the experience occurred many years ago, Silverman was still shaken (or so she claimed) by her “visceral reaction” at the time. 

She then called her sister (a rabbi in Israel) who declared:

“Dude, nationalism is innately terrifying for Jews. Think about it: flags, marching, blind allegiance — these things tend to ring a bell for us. Right. Of course. Duh. It made sense.”

Since Silverman addresses this issue from a Jewish perspective, it might be worth asking if the Jewish inmates of Buchenwald felt this way when they were liberated by (gasp!) flag-waving American troops. One supposes not. 

Silverman’s inane comparison (however indirect) between her boyfriend’s hoisting Old Glory and the depredations of Nazi Germany is ahistorical and cringeworthy.

Also, Silverman seemed to have no problem with her sister being a rabbi in Israel. 

Not that she should have a problem with that, mind you. I’m a supporter and a fan of Israel…a revelation that will no doubt “trigger” some of you. 

But if nationalism is the matter, we can’t avoid pointing out that no nation is more “nationalistic” than the Jewish ethnostate, may Yahweh bless her.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Sample my fiction on YouTube

Just in case you weren't aware: You can listen to samples of many of my novels on my YouTube channel. There are presently videos for 12 Hours of Halloween, Blood FlatsEleven Miles of Night, and many others.

Videos that feature readings of fiction do not comprise a "hot" genre within the YouTube ecosystem. YouTube is more focused on video games, celebrity gossip, profane adolescent humor, partisan political screeds, and similar worthwhile endeavors. A fiction author on YouTube is lucky to get a few hundred views on any given video. I don't think that any of my videos have received more than this.

Nevertheless, the videos are useful for hyperlinking and embedding in other locations (this blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) for potential readers who are interested in one of my novels or short story collections. 

I completed over 400 story videos during 2016 and 2017. There is already a lot there, and I'm presently focused on writing some new novels and short fiction. So I probably won't be uploading many new YouTube videos between now and the end of the year.

That said, I'm one of those relatively few authors who isn't camera-shy. Video remains a core element of my overall strategy for getting my stories out into the world, and I do plan on jumping back into YouTube in earnest in 2018.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Reader question: Where's that county in BLOOD FLATS?

A reader asks: 

Where is Hawkins County, Kentucky, where your novel BLOOD FLATS takes place?


Hawkins County is a fictional location. As a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, I've spent a lot of time throughout Kentucky, and I'm familiar with many locations in the Bluegrass State.

I decided, however, that it would be best to use a fictional county, so that I could tinker as necessary with the names of towns, etc.

This doesn't mean that Hawkins County is completely divorced from reality, though. I've spent a lot of time in the Louisville area, and I envisioned Hawkins County to lie somewhere between Louisville and Lexington.

An ex-marine framed for murder. A gun-blazing chase through rural Kentucky, as he battles meth dealers and hitmen in a fight to clear his name.

Something scary for Halloween

Read my coming-of-age horror novel, 12 HOURS OF HALLOWEEN:

It’s Halloween, 1980, and the suburbs of Cincinnati are filled with vampires, monsters, witches, and other supernatural terrors. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Our House (thriller): Chapter 1

The Eavesdropper (About the book)

Thanatos Postponed: a short tale of terror

In entertainment, we're all replaceable

I was unsure of what to expect from Hawaii Five-O this season. 

I was sorry to see Grace Park and Daniel Dae Kim leave the series. I thought they both added a lot to the show.

I'm pleased to report, though, that Hawaii Five-O is just as good with the new costars, Meaghan Rath and Beulah Koale. The Five-O remains on my personal television lineup. 

Hawaii Five-O isn't the kind of television that is going to change anyone's life, but it's entertaining, with fast-moving plots and sympathetic main characters. 

Actors leave successful, long-running series all the time, for various reasons. M*A*S*H lost numerous actors over its eleven seasons on the air. The final season was just as good as the first one. 

In television (and in most forms of entertainment) everyone is replaceable.