My first solo 30 Days of Night novel (after three co-written with Steve Niles, who created and wrote the original comic books that the movie and novels were based on) is coming out at the end of this month. It's called 30 Days of Night: Light of Day. Today I discovered that publisher Simon & Schuster has posted the first chapter online, so if you're interested or curious, you can see it here.
My friend, writer Jess Hartley, has a new feature on her website called One Geek to Another. It's kind of a geek Dear Abby service--or, as she more elegantly phrases it, it's "an ongoing advice guide to the ethics and etiquette of the geek life."
It's entertaining and informative. So if you have questions or you're just curious about it, check out her site, or send her your questions at OneGeek@jesshartley.com.
Everybody's favorite book pirate and moral coward Mick Gilbert (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) has another piracy site (still on Blogger/Google), here. Still getting his kicks by posting the works of his betters for illegal download. Should you feel so moved, you can report this one and his old one, http://englishbookworm.blogspot.com, as spam blogs, here.
President Obama used the bully pulpit of an address to a joint session of Congress last night, and gave a very good speech. It was, unfortunately, rudely interrupted at one point by South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson, who shouted "You lie!" This (and Rep. Eric Cantor's texting during the speech) are both in violation of the House's official Rules of Decorum, and could result in punitive action against both men. Given the look in Nancy Pelosi's eyes at Wilson's outburst, I wouldn't be surprised to see some sort of action taken. Wilson has already apologized in writing, but hasn't worked up the guts to apologize verbally from the floor of the house.
Wilson, sadly, represents Hilton Head Island, where I have family. You can donate to his Democratic opponent, Rob Miller, here.
Regardless, Obama came off like a grown-up, after the silly season of the Town Halls and tea partiers running around screaming like frustrated toddlers. To that point, he said:
"But what we've also seen in these last months is the same partisan
spectacle that only hardens the disdain many Americans have towards
their own government. Instead of honest debate, we've seen scare
tactics. Some have dug into unyielding ideological camps that offer no
hope of compromise. Too many have used this as an opportunity to score
short-term political points, even if it robs the country of our
opportunity to solve a long-term challenge. And out of this blizzard of
charges and counter-charges, confusion has reigned.
Well, the time for bickering is over. The time for games has passed.
Now is the season for action. Now is when we must bring the best ideas
of both parties together and show the American people that we can still
do what we were sent here to do.
Now's the time to deliver on health care."
Toward the end of his speech, he turned it into a defense of liberalism itself:
"You see, our predecessors understood that government could not, and
should not, solve every problem. They understood that there are
instances when the gains in security from government action are not
worth the added constraints on our freedom.
But they also
understood that the danger of too much government is matched by the
perils of too little; that without the leavening hand of wise policy,
markets can crash, monopolies can stifle competition, the vulnerable
can be exploited.
And they knew that when any government
measure, no matter how carefully crafted or beneficial, is subject to
scorn; when any efforts to help people in need are attacked as
un-American; when facts and reason are thrown overboard and only
timidity passes for wisdom, and we can no longer even engage in a civil
conversation with each other over the things that truly matter -- that
at that point we don't merely lose our capacity to solve big
challenges. We lose something essential about ourselves.
That was true then. It remains true today.
I understand how difficult this health care debate has been. I know
that many in this country are deeply skeptical that government is
looking out for them. I understand that the politically safe move would
be to kick the can further down the road, to defer reform one more
year, or one more election, or one more term.
But that is not what this moment calls for.
That's not what we came here to do. We did not come to fear the future.
We came here to shape it. I still believe we can act even when it's
I still believe...
... I still believe that we can act when
it's hard. I still believe we can replace acrimony with civility and
gridlock with progress. I still believe we can do great things and that
here and now we will meet history's test, because that's who we are.
That is our calling. That is our character."
Long-time readers of this blog will have discovered that while I'm basically a leftist, I appreciate people who can cogently state their argument and defend it with facts, whichever side of an issue they're on. I happen to think the conservative philosophy is misguided in most instances, but there are aspects of it that I can understand and sympathize with, like the idea of personal responsibility.
The problem for the right is that the maniacs have, to a great extent, taken over the asylum. Not in every case--just the other day, prominent conservative intellectual (he wears bow ties, after all) George Will called for a US withdrawal from Afghanistan. Anyone who has studied history knows that armies have tried to occupy Afghanistan since the days of Alexander the Great, and in the end, Afghanistan is always the winner. So Will might have a point there--but it's not an argument the tea partiers, birthers and deathers who are drawing all the attention on the right are likely to make.
But watching Rachel Maddow last night, I learned of a website called The Next Right.com, where conservatives with brains and consciences are fighting a noble fight for the future of their movement and the Republican party. Since our system of government really needs two parties each proposing actual ideas and debating real issues, I'm in favor of that effort. While I will probably disagree with them politically, I'm going to be checking in on The Next Right.com to see that thinking conservatives are talking about. You might want to do the same.
Here's the text of the speech President Obama will deliver to the nation's schoolchildren tomorrow. You can certainly see why it's so controversial--calling for kids to stay in school, asking them to take responsibility for their own lives. It's practically straight out of Mao's little red book.
When you live most of your life in the city, you get used to the idea that you can turn the faucet and water will come out. It's one of those things you take for granted.
In the country, it's not always that easy.
Last night we had a major storm, lots of thunder and lightning, a pretty good amount of rain. Not as much as they had in town, but still, in a summer that has been way too dry, it was a helpful downpour.
But that flash of blue-white light outside, with the thunder right on top of it loud enough to shake the house?
That was the lightning hitting the wellhouse.
Capacitor fried, pump fried.
Fortunately, we knew who to call, and the well people were out first thing this morning. They had to remove all 200+ feet of pipe, replace the bottom section that had a hole in it, replace the pump, replace the electrical box. And now our water tastes weird, plastic. We're hoping that's something that won't last long, because until this point our tap water tasted better than any bottled water on the market.
But the faucets and showers run again, the toilets flush, and these things--so commonplace for most of us these days--are very, very good things.
My friend Didi tipped me off to a movie I hadn't l known about, that never had a US theatrical release but is available on DVD. It's a French/US adaptation of James Lee Burke's brilliant novel In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead. For the movie that's shortened to In the Electric Mist, but the Confederate dead show up just the same.
I was never a big fan of the previous Burke adaptation, Heaven's Prisoner's (I wouldn't mind catching it again one of these days, to see if it's any better than I remember), but this one seems very faithful to the novel and to the overall mood and themes of Burke's fiction. It's a twisty, turny mystery that assumes the viewer's intellligence--which might be why it never had a US release, come to think of it, because that's rare these days. It's stylishly shot on location in Iberia and St. Martin Parishes, Louisiana. Tommy Lee Jones is a fine Dave Robicheaux.
Because the book was told in first person, from Dave's point of view, there are very few scenes in which Dave doesn't appear. That's okay, because Tommy Lee is an easy actor to watch. Here he's abetted by fine performances by John Goodman, Mary Steenburgen, Ned Beatty, Peter Sarsgaard, and others. The only not-great performances were by Buddy Guy as Sam Hogman Patin and The Band's Levon Helm as General John Bell Hood. Helm isn't bad, just not quite in a class with Tommy Lee. Buddy Guy isn't terribly convincing as an actor--he pulled me out of the experience and made me feel like I was watching someone act--but he gets to play a couple of songs, and watching and listening to him perform is compensation enough. And that's only part of an excellent bayou-tinged soundtrack.
It's highly recommended, especially if you're a fan of James Lee Burke's books. And if you're not a fan, then get reading, because you're missing out on one of the best American writers ever to put words on paper.