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About That Coke Ad

Common sense and perspective–thanks to John Scalzi.


Dear every conservative getting his underwear in a twist about that Coca Cola Super Bowl commerical in which not only was the “deeply Christian patriotic anthem” sung in something other than the English that Jesus spoke, but also featured a gay couple being happy with their kid:

Dudes, you’re aware that Katharine Lee Bates, the writer of the song, was almost certainly a lesbian, right? And while undoubtedly Christian, Bates used her faith as a foundation for progressive social activism that would have given the conservatives of her time, and possibly some conservatives now, the shudders and shakes (she also nearly resigned her professorship at Wellesley when the school thought to force its faculty to profess their fealty to the Christian faith).

Bates was a pacifist with the dream of uniting people “from the Pacific to the Atlantic, around the other way… and that will include all the…

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Happy Holidays, and the Dog with No Name


Dear Readers,

Thanks so much for visiting now and then. Happy Holidays from me and from this cute critter I rescued yesterday from the Humane Society of Tampa. He and my family became instant friends. Now, it’s time to train him to be a polite member of society, but…he is currently known as the Dog with No Name. That doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue while teaching him to sit and breaking him of his paws-on-the-chest habit. So, I wonder if anyone out there on the interwebs has a clue what we might call this new addition to our household. Send me some ideas, won’t you?


Flashback Upon Waking

This morning I woke up thinking of a long trip I once took in Paktia Province, Afghanistan, from FOB Salerno to a town near the Pakistani border called Khowst. The trip started with a nausea ride aboard a USMC CH-53.









We took the next leg of the trip by truck.


Grit crunching between teeth. Dust in the eyes.Image


Young soldiers hurling insults in English, Spanish, and Pashtu to stave off fear of the ambush we were warned to expect on the narrow, confined road through the village.


We all agreed later it was the children playing in the road that saved us the trouble.

I carried a little digital camera all over that country. One image I don’t need a photo to remember is a particular little kid cringing and frozen in terror as a truckload of foreign troops rolled through his town.



I wonder where that boy, now a man, is today. Is he crouched behind a mud brick wall, clutching an old hand-me-down Soviet rifle?

Here’s one sight he’ll never see again:


Wedding Crashers

Wedding Crashers

My reaction to reading about yet another U.S. drone strike on a Yemeni WEDDING:

Gen. Dwight Eisenhower: “Beware of the Military Industrial Complex.”

Gen. Omar Bradley: “The world has achieved brilliance without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living. If we continue to develop our technology without wisdom or prudence, our servant may prove to be our executioner.”

During George Bush’s administration, while I was serving in Iraq–a war I didn’t believe in–I started to get the feeling America was becoming something different than the nation I grew up with. Increasingly, I see my country becoming something I don’t identify with anymore: an aggressive global empire more concerned with maintaining the status quo (cheap oil, cheap Chinese plastic, cheap fast food, convenience over significance, fiscal negligence). I wonder if we, as a nation, have our brains engaged beyond what’s right in front of our faces.

Who do we want to be, America? Can we please wake up now?

The Magic Spreadsheet

Screenshot 2013-12-03 09.54.41

The Magic Spreadsheet

I struggle with self-discipline in all things, not the least of which is keeping myself on a regular writing schedule each day. As Mur Lafferty mentions in her terrific podcast I Should Be Writing (ISBW #301), Cory Doctorow pointed out that if a writer puts out only 250 words per day, the result will be a novel in a year. It sounds simple, but my writing is more like panic-and-binge than the machinelike regularity I’d like to develop.

Enter The Magic Spreadsheet. It’s a brilliant idea–to tap into the natural human competitive spirit and our tendency to become creatures of habit. The Magic Spreadsheet awards points, one point for 250 words, and level-ups for consistency. After keeping up with a daily quota for awhile, who would want to break the chain? Not me. I’m going to give this a try, and if it’s like so many others’ experience with this simple strategy, (I suppose for me it’s a tactic, since I’m just starting it.) I’ll make progress on my “extracurricular” science-fiction novel while keeping up with the MFA responsibilities of pushing my literary novel forward and annotating books.

If any of you has tried using a word count spreadsheet in an attempt to make yourself more productive, I’d like to hear about your experience.

By the way, there are a few of you who seem to read my message-in-a-bottle blog fairly regularly. I’d just like to say Thanks for tuning in. I really appreciate it.

Holiday Spirits


How about some horror fiction? Check out the November 15th edition of Tales to Terrify which features two chilling tales by Joe McKinney, narrated by me. If you like what you hear, leave a comment on the Tales to Terrify website. If you love it, you can support the ‘cast by picking up a printed anthology for the horror lover on your gift list.