Tuesday, December 29, 2009

All Things Must Pass...

We've all had favorite possessions. Things that we enjoyed, perhaps even treasured. Things whose value to us outweighed their cost. For me, and for many men, one of the things we often treasure is a vehicle.

Ben Sollee wrote a song about this fascination, comparing Americans to ancient cultures and their burial habits. The main lyric is "In America, they'll bury us with our cars." And I find a lot of truth in it. I've had my fair share of vehicles over the years, some of which were just transportation, a few of which I really enjoyed and two of which I considered special. Not just possessions, but friends. I traded the first for the second, a little less than ten years ago.

That first was a Chevy S10 pickup that I bought with just under ten thousand miles on it. It is the closest I've ever come to owning a new vehicle. I loved that truck and it was my clear favorite, but when I became a father I knew its two-passenger days were numbered. When my son was an infant, it worked for a while, the car seat pushing my wife against me, but not uncomfortably so. But when my daughters arrival was drawing near, I began to look. I hung on for awhile, having acquired a second car and keeping my truck for when it was just me...but I knew it was a temporary solution.

So I traded my S10 for a Nissan Pathfinder. I figured here was a way I could still have "my truck" and yet also carry all the needs of a two kid family. And I did. My Pathfinder carried us to Padre and Charger games, to little league practice, to fencing, to Disneyland. It had hot chocolate stains in the back seat, and melted crayon that never completely went away, and memories of laughter and even fighting. It was the truck that had "Go PVLL!" painted on the back window when my son made his first All Star team.

And it had memories of all the friends and loved ones that have surrounded me for the last ten years. Sitting in the drivers seat, I could glance to my right or over my shoulder and remember people I love and care about sitting there. It crossed a country with me.

Over the last couple years, its been showing its age. The repairs began to mount and the creaks and leaks grew. But I still loved to drive it. I loved the power, loved the way I could feel the road. And it proved itself capable of handling the snow and rain of my new home.

Sunday, its time ended. Ironically, it wasn't because of recklessness on the part of the driver (I've been known to enjoy speed too much) or a mechanical failure. It was just blind and dumb bad luck. Turning a corner with a slight bank on a cold morning, there was a bit of invisible ice. The road is narrow, the kind of road where you hold your breath when a big vehicle passes and your mirrors almost trade high fives. I turned into the skid and my faithful friend kicked herself back. But just as it seemed that we had escaped, disaster.

Reconstructing it with photos and memory, I figure my right rear tire slipped off the pavement. And there just happened to be a depression there. The tire spun and when it hit the blacktop at an angle, over we went.

We skidded about a hundred feet, maybe a hundred fifty, with the disconcerting and surreal experience of riding with my head at three o'clock instead of twelve. The pavement of the road grinding the passenger side mirror down, the window unbroken.

If not for the trees, I might have just ended up with a need for some pounding, paint and a new mirror. Or maybe the frame twisted when we went sideways. I'll never know. Because we did hit the trees, wedging in beneath one, the branches crunching the drivers side fender and bumper into the engine compartment. I hung there in my lateral perch for a moment, marveling at the unusual angle, thanking the seat belt and cursing chance.

I crawled out, just in case the liquid dripping was more than water (it wasn't.) Then I lamented having only brought one glove. Like I said, the morning was cold. I called Alessia, let her know what had happened and that I was alright. Called work and told them I wasn't gonna make it in. Then I had to watch my faithful friend suffer the indignity of having a tow truck winch her out and back to her feet.

She was cranky in her old age, nineteen ninety-four having been awhile ago in truck years. She was closer to two hundred thousand miles than one hundred. And the truth of the matter is that we were going to part ways soon no matter what. I couldn't afford to keep fixing the same things again and again.

But she went out protecting me. I don't have a scratch, or even a bruise. None of the windows broke, the seat belt did it's job and none of the interior panels bent. I'll enjoy having a newer, more reliable, quieter vehicle. One with less of an appetite for gas and repairs.

But I'm gonna miss my old friend.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Costly Victory - And Perhaps A Useless One

As someone who has consistently advocated the reform of the health care system and as a voice that was far from silent on this issue in the past, I find the fact that the Senate has managed to pass a bill on health care insurance reform encouraging.

I also recognize that the failure to pass it would have been trumpeted by that portion of this country which continues to contest things simply because of the political party that presented them, ignoring the greater question of whether or not something is actually beneficial to their constituents.

Yet I am not happy about this vote that took place at dawn on Christmas Eve. Primarily because of the word before reform in my first paragraph. Insurance.

I am an unashamed advocate of universal health care. This is not that. Is this a victory for the Obama faction and it's supporters, including me? Yes, in that it was shown that things could be passed despite the full onslaught of the ridiculous opponents who cried about death panels and socialistic medicine.

But this legislation is far short of what we actually need in this country. It is only a first step and I fear that politicians tired of defending themselves from the histrionic antics of a vocal and ill-informed minority will now abandon this fight in favor of ones that don't get them called names. They can claim victory and that will be enough.

It's a silly position for two reasons.

First, you are leaving a job unfinished and half-assed is not good enough. Yes, it is better than nothing. But although this is a victory for reform, it is also a victory for the insurance companies. They still exist and they still are able to place profits over public good. A European friend of mine explained his view of the problems of health care in America very simply... "Of course your health care is too expensive and not good enough - you spend more than half the money on insurance companies and administration." That fact does not change with this bill.

We are still protecting the insurance companies. We shouldn't be. Free market economics, right my Republican friends? The insurance companies, who are essentially abacus salesmen in an age of calculators and computers, are left hale and healthy by this bill. A mistake, possibly an epic one.

Second, you are completely blind to the world view of your opposition. They could care less what legislation you propose. As long as the primary sponsor of the bill has a D next to their name rather than an R, the legislation must be evil.

If a Democrat proposes a bill saying that bunnies are cute and furry and a legitimate symbol of Easter, Fox News would run a story saying that representative hates baby chicks.

You can not meet their hate halfway. Until they quit looking at who supports legislation and start looking at who would benefit from it, compromise is entirely useless.

So yes, this is a victory. The democratic leadership has shown they can get something done despite the vitriol and propaganda of the right. But this is a starting point, not an ending one. Ted Kennedy's legacy is not fulfilled and if you honor his memory and if the democrats are truly concerned for their constituents instead of what people that already hate them say about them across their dinner tables, this will remain only a beginning.

We shall see. Actions speak louder than words.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

La Jolla Writers Conference 2009

Four and a half years into this gig, I've begun to develop that sense of blase. Whereas my first Romantic Times was frenetic and exciting, I now can look through the schedule with a whatever, maybe I'll sleep in attitude. I still get excited to see friends and attend parties, but the glamor is gone. EPICon is certainly fun, and the people and locations make it more so, but it has also transitioned to where the things around the conference are what I look forward to rather than the conference itself. And the average booksigning engagement is just that: average.

This is not to say I dislike or am bored with those things. That is most certainly not true. Yes, there are annoyances, such as RT's continuing attempts to marginalize the epublishing world. But overall I would instantly and repeatedly recommend attending those events. And of course my book-signings would cease to be average if attended by more people who had actually read my books instead of the sign in front of the store that day.

Yet there is one conference that continues to make me step back and say "Wow!" It is the smallest one I attend, deliberately so, and also the most valuable. The La Jolla Writers Conference.

A small event that is tightly focused on the emerging writer, Antoinette and Jared Kuritz continue to take that hanging curve and knock it out of the park. Every year, I meet a new inspiration or two, make a valuable connection or new friend and receive a major surprise.

I have the LJWC to thank for the wonderful friendship of Robyn Carr, just as an example. It was there that we first met her, as we also first met Lisa Jackson, Steve Berry, Ken Kuhlken, Warren Lewis and Eldon Thompson, among others. It's hard to stop the name-dropping thing, because there are so many fine authors and people we have met at this event. (Note to Warren: Get a website, dude. You rock too hard to be that far off track.)

I can't recommend this conference highly enough. This year was as stellar as any. We met Jane Green, who may forever remember me as the only man to show up for her eight a.m. Chick-Lit class...Lisa Gardner, who spun tales about wandering deserted mental institutions in the dark and the smells of the body farm...and our surprise for this year, the incredible Steven Boyett, for whom I had zero expectations. I must now consider myself a huge fan. The man's passion and energy, as well as his vision and acumen, are simply amazing.

We also renewed our associations with Warren and Eldon as well as author Mark Clements and agent Taryn Fagerness.

We saw some old friends (*waves to Walter*) and also met some new ones, including Marty and fellow Browncoat Dawn Maria. One of the wonderful things about gatherings of writers is that no one looks at you oddly when you scrawl an idea on a napkin or act like you've met a soulmate because you can both identify the nature of the special hell (hint: for people who talk at the theater) or quote a half-dozen opening lines ranging from Austen to Zelazny.


If you are a writer or a poet or a screenwriter...you need to look into this conference. It's not Comic-Con, or RT, or BEA...this is about business and craft and emerging from the small circle of buildings at Paradise Point inspired and aware. And it is the best conference/convention money I spend each year.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Shame On Maine

"This country, which has given to the world the example of physical liberty, owes to it that of moral emancipation also. For as yet, it is but nominal with us. The inquisition of public opinion overwhelms in practice the freedom asserted by the laws in theory." --Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, 1821.

I am not one to cry for the elder, better days. I believe in that depths of my soul that we, as a nation, a planet and a species, have continually made strides in the direction of maturity. There is no doubt, despite those who oppose anything which violates their own interest, that we have made great strides towards the ideals which Jefferson and Adams discussed at great length in their letters as they evaluated the results of their labors.

Yet this morning all I can think of is how well the quoted statement applies to the news from Maine.

"The inquisition of public opinion overwhelms in practice the freedom asserted by the laws in theory."

This very concept that the rights of a minority are subject to the whim of public opinion is diametrically opposed to the intent, words and public statements of the men who this country so reveres as the Founding Fathers.

Men who fought a war with arguably the most powerful military entity on the planet in order to avoid the tyranny of the majority would not in any way approve of what has happened in Maine, or what happened in California.

After all, do you think that the Stamp Act was unpopular with the great majority of the British Empire? Of course not. To them, it was right that the colonies should bear the expense of the recent war with France that, in the MAJORITY opinion, was fought on behalf of those colonies.

The fathers of this country risked death not to establish majority rule, but to oppose it. They put the checks and balances in our constitution to prevent exactly the kind of thing that is now happening. It has ever been the role of the courts to protect the rights of the minority. To have the efforts of those courts subject to the "whim of public opinion" is both shameful and harmful to the very cause of Freedom.

"The Gothic idea that we were to look backwards instead of forwards for the improvement of the human mind, and to recur to the annals of our ancestors for what is most perfect in government, in religion and in learning, is worthy of those bigots in religion and government by whom it has been recommended, and whose purposes it would answer. But it is not an idea which this country will endure." --Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Priestley, 1800.


Unfortunately, it does endure. It is the burden of those who have embraced reason over fear and superstition to persist in trying to achieve those ideals set down by our founders more than 200 years ago.

The cause of Marriage Equality has suffered another setback. Yet the odds for the eventual triumph of Freedom in this cause are still better than those faced by the handful of brave souls who sacrificed in pursuit of the establishment of an independent nation on these shores.

We must continue to fight, and we must continue to answer fear with reason, hatred with love, and superstition and loathing with common sense and forgiveness.

I hang my head at the results from Maine and wish they had been otherwise. Our citizens have proven that they yet have growth to achieve if they wish to truly reach the heights this nation once aspired to.

Yet, we must continue.

"[Let us] go on in doing with [the] pen what in other times was done with the sword, [and] show that reformation is more practicable by operating on the mind than on the body of man." --Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Paine, 1792

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Why Are We Still Talking About This? Blog Action Day 2009

Yes,I am one of those annoying people that likes to quote their favorite movies and TV shows. And one of those favorites is Firefly, the short-lived but extremely well written space-opera with a western overtone. In one of the episodes, Capt. Mal Reynolds brings his ship and crew into danger to rescue a brother and sister that have caused him nothing but trouble.

After the rescue, the brother (Simon) attempts to figure out why Mal would risk everyone else, his ship and his own life to come back for them. When Mal replies that he has a responsibility to protect his crew, Simon pushes the issue, giving all the reasons Mal should NOT have taken the risk.

Mal's response is full of loyalty and incredulity that the explanation he has already given is not so obvious as to defy all further discussion.

"You're on my crew. Why are we still talking about this?"

This last statement is how I feel about the validity of climate change. Why are we still talking about this?

Yes, there are scientists, especially in the United States, who argue against the existence of climate change and even more who argue against it being human-influenced. However, there are also scientists to be found who still argue about the validity of evolution, or the nature of gravity, or the curvature of the earth. Who say the moon landings were faked. That whites are genetically superior to other races. A Phd does not make one intelligent or ethical... only educated.

In the nineteen-fifties, there where hundreds of doctors who argued that smoking was not only not addictive and harmless, but actually said it was good for you. Why? Because they were PAID to do so. Take a look at the money-trail around some of these so-called Climate Change Deniers. How many of them can trace major funding back to people looking for precisely these kind of findings?

And no, I am not gonna do that research for you. Because when 99 out of a 100 say a thing and it is not going to benefit them personally and in fact cause hardship or at least a reduction of ease in their lifestyle, I tend to believe the 99. Especially when the 1% in question is screaming at the top of their lungs and the 99% are looking at him querulously and saying "Why are we still talking about this?"

Scientists love to get to the bottom of things. It is part of the reason they became scientists. A scientist deciding something is not worth the argument is like Glenn Beck deciding a Tea Party protest is not worth Fox News coverage. Both rare and puzzling.

So quit arguing about whether it is happening. Look around. Doctors had to quit taking the tobacco blood money when the lung cancer cases became so obvious there was no legitimate way to disguise their bias. Look at the fires this decade in Southern California. Look at Polar Bears drowning because there is not enough ice. Look at the shrinking glaciers. Look at the long term trend in temperatures.

It's obvious. It's happening. And if we are not wholly to blame, we are at least accelerating the process.

It's time to quit talking about whether or not the soup is burning and turn down the heat on the stove.

Why are we still talking about this?

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Dragon*Con Post-Mortem

Well, I'm back...

Alessia and I attended Dragon*Con 2009 in Atlanta this weekend and had a real blast. She has already posted her reactions and since we did all the same things, I'm gonna try to avoid repeating her thoughts... with one major exception.

I too wish to say how cool it was to be a part of the Thriller world record attempt. Even if they find some technicality we missed and deny us the official recognition, we all have that awesome moment when the laughter stopped and the excitement of accomplishment burst out. (Yeah, I know...all I devoted was a few hours to it while Lauren and the rest of the team worked on this for months. I hope they don't mind my leap to inclusion, but I really do feel like all 900+ participants have become a sort of team. It was that cool.) By the way, in the practice video that Alessia posted, I am the white-shirted Pirate at the very beginning.

I've been to several Comic-Cons, including back in the days before Hollywood really discovered it. Dragon*Con has that sense of camaraderie which characterized the original Comic-Con, although it is a bit more diverse in the interests and is already bigger than Comic-Con was in the early eighties.

I loved the diversity of the costumes. There are so many people walking about in costumes that they obviously made themselves. Not obvious because they look cheap...obvious because they don't. They are very individual and show signs of the love invested in them. The fact that some of the people in the costumes are attractive doesn't hurt, but I will also say that I would far rather take a picture of a person wearing something they made and love than a booth babe wearing something because she is receiving a paycheck.

We dressed up three of the four days and were quite flattered to be asked to stop and pose. After Friday, when we wore our Hammer and Anvil outfits in tribute to Dr. Horrible, we thought the remainder of the weekend we would be fairly anon. The H & A double entendre plays well with this crowd, so we expected some attention. But we actually were stopped more often on Sunday. Personally, I'm gonna lay the credit for that at the feet of my partner. She looked fantastic in her black pirate top and corset and high boots.

The fact that neither of us looked anything like Johnny Depp probably helped as well. Sometimes there is too much of a good thing.

We attended a panel about the Hobbit movie, saw Felicia Day a couple of times and saw way too much stuff that we wanted to buy. Through major exercise of willpower, we managed to keep the car only slightly stuffed.

Things I'll remember?

-Felicia's face when presented with a questioner who told her that since she had not been able to find any Bad Horse/Penny slash, she wrote some.

-Lunch with friends whom we dearly love and see far too infrequently.

-Being told to scoot in closer and for the people standing to move to the left (if you were there, you know what this means) and then Chitty Chitty Bang Bang causing a traffic jam around the piano.

-The obvious enjoyment shown by the celebrities in being reunited with their friends and the way they were so gracious with their fans.

-Kids on MARTA staring at the costumes and whispering to their parents. How they smiled back when we said hello.

-Fantastic costumes not just in the halls or panels, but being worn by people we know and love.

We are already planning to return to Atlanta next year, this time staying downtown so that we can avoid the transit time-sink, although I have to say that the trains were very easy to use. We didn't really hit any of the late night parties due to being dependent on public transportation and next year I would like to dance a bit and maybe take in the parade.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Very Busy Sunday


Wow, and I thought Sunday was supposed to be a day of rest?

On this last Sunday in August, I have three exciting things happening. My first solo release from Phaze in over a year was made available late last night, although the official release date is tomorrow. En Garde is the story about a man who thinks he is past being surprised by life and the woman that proves him wrong. It isn't my longest work, but the price reflects that and I have to say that Kelly is one of my favorite characters ever.

Its an intriguing and erotic adventure on many levels and I am very proud that this story is kicking off the Phaze Scores line of sports-related erotica. En Garde is available now at Phaze.com for the low price of two dollars. I promise you'll will it far more than a couple of dirty, crinkled bucks in your pocket.

Today is also the day we are proud to announce the next step in the evolution of Coming Together and erotic altruism with the launch of Coming Together: Neat. This single story line will shocase works between 10K and 50K, give authors who aren't comfortable writing short stories a way to contribute and also is CT's first venture into Micro-lending, a type of program that I personally believe will help maximize the impact of Coming Together. Let's face it, $50 doesn't mean much to the Red Cross. But in Afghanistan, it is an annual income for some people. Follow the link to the Coming Together blog for more details!

And last but certainly not least, Alessia and I are headed to the car to drive a few hours so that I can watch Park View Little League, where I coached and my son plays, take on Chinese Taipei for the championship of the world. There are a lot of endeavors in this country where we call it a world title and yet all the participants are from the US. This is NOT one of them. These kids, some of whom I've known since they were five or six years old, have a chance to accomplish something truly special. I have to go, I just have to. Once in a lifetime opportunity and all that, even though most of them won't know me unless I tell them whose Dad I am. And Alessia is coming along because she thinks its cute how excited I am about this. I love that she is willing to skip an entire day of productivity so that I can scream "P-V-L-L!" for a couple hours.

So that's my day of rest. How about all y'all?


GO PARK VIEW!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Honor Him In A Manner He Would Appreciate

Ted Kennedy has passed, brain cancer taking from us the last of a set of brothers whose impact on the history of this great nation is unarguably massive.

Senator Kennedy was a man of passion, an impressive legislator and a great American. He saw two of his beloved brothers pay the ultimate price for public service and yet never shied from that spotlight. Many lesser men would have removed themselves from public life after assassins stole the lives of their brothers. Ted never considered it. He even ran for the very office that had brought tragedy to his family.

He was a man I admired, both for his greatness and for his humanity. It is no great dishonor for me to call him the least of that triad of siblings. I might as well call Michaelangelo's Pieta a lesser work. It is, compared to the Sistine Chapel. So it was with Ted, always trying to live up to the legacy bequeathed to him in the most bloody of manners.

He was not entirely comfortable with the burden, as some of his history shows. Yet he overcame that to become a voice of leadership and change, a powerful force in the nation that murdered his kin.

He is gone, and I will miss hearing him. Miss that distinctive Kennedy accent, the tinge of voice that carried unmistakable reminders of Jack and Bobby, that made me believe in his belief in the ideas and concepts that he espoused.

Ted Kennedy should be honored in the manner most fitting, by the fulfillment of his life's work. In 1969, Ted Kennedy introduced into the national discussion the idea that a nation this powerful should care for all its children, not only those most fortunate.

Pass a national health care package. Those who have held up this process for mere money and political gamesmanship should be ashamed. They have succeeded only in delaying long enough to rob a great man of an opportunity to see his work finished before he passed. They are but a shadow of this man we have lost today.

Enough. Honor Ted in a way he would have wanted. Pass national health care.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Reviews and What They Mean

When I first became published, I hung on the possibility of reviews like a pet waiting to be fed. Not quite reaching out, but with that eagerness in the eyes and that not so patient wait.

Now, I don't even see them unless someone points them out, to the point where old reviews can be new to me. Part of this is gaining perspective, part of it is the realization that a good review is not going to mean that many sales in most cases.

I also think that a good portion of it has to do with the extreme disappointment I felt when our first "major" review was badly mishandled, as Romantic Times assigned an erotica piece with a "villain" (she is more of a foil, never villified) who is a crusading member of the Christian Right to a reviewer whose profile indicated that her favorites were Christian Inspirationals. You know, kinda like asking Ann Coulter to review The Audacity of Hope. You can imagine the response that character got from her. We were labeled "anti-morality."

But even with the results of the process having jaded me to things, I still feel a little anticipation when a new one is found by Phaze or a friend and brought to my attention.

After all, feedback was one of my favorite things about writing from the very beginning. In my time honing my chops at Literotica I was an unabashed feedback slut, checking my scores and my comments constantly. So it seems to be obvious that the opinions I receive on my professional work would also give me that anticipatory twinge.

Counterbalancing this is the idea that it can be a dangerous trap. There have been numerous instances of authors getting "caught" bitching and anguishing and even looking to retaliate over poor reviews. I almost fell into that trap over the RT review, so I understand. Now, I am glad I didn't, since the internet is forever and I just don't want to be seen that way.

So, do reviews mean something? Absolutely. Do I tear my hair out over a bad one? No. Besides, the best revenge for a bad review is a good one. That way I know it's not me protecting my "children," it is an unbiased opinion. So in that spirit, I present to you what the Romance Studio thought of Artifactual, with a reviewer that was not grinding an axe....

I found this a thoroughly delightful erotic romp, complete with adventure, plenty of sex, and a few mysteries. The unusual items for sexual pleasure were especially intriguing. Amanda and Bruce are well suited to each other, playing off each other’s strengths. They complement each other well. I found a touch of comedy in one chapter that really had me going. I laughed so hard tears streamed from eyes and it took me a few minutes to start reading again. I loved it!


My thanks to Patricia at The Romance Studio (www.theromancestudio.com)who gave me this wonderfully validating moment by writing a Five Heart review that I somehow didn't see for two and a half years.

And to all of you out there who take the time to read my books and share your opinions, good or bad ... thank you.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Baracknophobia!

First things first. I didn't coin that, Jon Stewart did. If you aren't watching him...well, then this column will probably piss you off.

See, I remain utterly amazed at the ability of certain individuals and *cough* "news" networks to complete ignore the facts in order to pursue the spreading of misinformation. The saddest thing? The reason they are able to continue doing it is because, compared to some of their target audience, these programs sound intelligent.

We are now almost a year removed from the point where the Republicans lost the election, when they named Sarah Palin their candidate for Vice-President. And in that year, what has happened is that the same people who trumpeted her selection have gone out of their way to make the craziest and most shockingly ill-informed of her comments look....well, moderate.

We've had the Tea-baggers, a movement so absolutely ridiculous and out-of-touch with the current state of the country that even after they became aware that the name of their movement had certain...other....meanings, they stuck with it. I mean, these are people who are so wacky that they are equating 4% bumps in tax rates to people who own the companies that pay them minimum wage with a time when a foreign power with an honest-to-god King was the ruler of 13 colonies. The Boston Tea Party was a protest against the Stamp Act of 1765, which was basically a way to make Americans pay for the expenses of British Troops stationed here. 4% tax hike on your boss vs. being made to pay the expenses of the troops occupying your soil to keep you under control. Yes, I see how that equates. *shakes head in disbelief*

We have the people that say Obama is stupid (um, Magna Cum Laude at Havard?) We have the ones that still think he is a muslim (like it should make any difference anyway.) We have the ones that say he is weak and unwilling to stand up to the foes of America (you know, like Somali pirates.)

We have the ones that actually think a forgery of a Kenyan Birth certificate from a time when the city named wasn't in Kenya somehow trumps the one from Hawaii and even try to explain how birth announcements were "planted" in Hawaii papers... because after all, everybody back in 1961 just knew we would have a black President from Hawaii. I mean, of all the crackpot conspiracy theories I have ever heard... even the Holocaust deniers are in awe of the ability of Birthers to ignore facts.

And now we have that Palin woman again, throwing out words about "death boards" that are rabidly echoed by the Glenn Becks of the world.

People, please! Back away from the kkkool aid and have some Kenyan coffee. The man isn't a socialist (please READ the definition before using that word!) He is not the anti-christ. He isn't even that much of a liberal! He is a politician. An intelligent one for once, who is actually pissing off some of us on the far left (yes, by their definition I am a member)because he is making too many compromises on health care, prosecuting those who tortured and the repeal of DOMA.

So quit with the panic already. Get a dictionary and read the definitions of socialism and tyranny. And while you are at it, look up xenophobia. Then look in the mirror and slap yourself in the face. I hope you are better than this. I really do.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Where Did This Idea Start?

I've noticed a small trend in the publishing world. A rather dismaying one and one that I feel may be linked to the plethora of new places where you can publish, including but not limited to websites, CafePress, Lulu and of course the growing industry of e-book publishing.

For better or worse, there is a small subset of authors who are redefining (in their minds, anyway) the role of editor. Basically, the change that they are assuming can be summed up in one sentence.

The editor is there to catch and fix my mistakes.

On the surface, this does not sound bad. It actually sounds exactly correct. The problem is that the emphasis has changed. Most authors, whether born in 1950 or 1980 or at any other time, do feel that an editor's job is to catch mistakes. They are not wrong. The problem is this... a small subset of authors out there feel that it is the editors job to catch all the mistakes.

In other words, they don't don't worry about self-editing first. They just throw it out there and trust that someone else will check and double check. Some of this I blame on a lack of education, not in traditional schooling but in the craft of writing. Some of it I blame on the pressures of a growth market; where companies who are struggling to stay on the crest of a wave that will eventually break on the beach of maturity buy things to keep other companies from buying them first. And some of it I blame on the authors themselves, who have fallen prey to a cultural expectation that anything wrong must be able to be blamed on someone else.

It's sad really. And completely beyond my understanding. I can not personally conceive of turning in a work that was as rife with problems as some of things not only out there being edited, but even already published.

It has to stop somewhere. So, a word of warning. If I am your editor and you write about King George receiving a telegram of anger concerning the Boston Tea Party? Or if your African-American hero from the south side of Chicago constantly proclaims things to be "bloody annoying" and no one finds it strange? Or if your baseball player hits eighty home runs in 2004 and never has to deal with a steroid accusation and never gets interrupted at dinner for an autograph request and can easily hide that he is actually an alien from Arcturus Prime complete with a tail that somehow never got noticed by teammates or the ESPN reporters in the locker room?

Expect me to call you on it.

You can use Google as easily as I. You can look up when the telegraph was invented, or the year Germany invaded Poland. And you know that a kid from Chicago will use the F word and a thinly disguised Mr. Darby clone in Victorian England will not.

As your editor, I am there to help you change there into their or point out that the brown sweater was red three pages ago. I have no problem with things like that. We all lose track of things over the course of months writing a book. I'm not perfect. I screw up,too. All the time actually. Both as an author and as an editor. But even so...

As an editor,it is not my job to do your homework. It is not my job to do your basics. It is my job to tweak and prod and try to help you be the best you can possibly be. I am not supposed to build the engine. Just tune it up. That's why I get one-tenth the royalty percentage you do. Because you are supposed to have already done the big job. I'm supposed to help with the details... and maybe keep you off Twitter's #romfail.

Monday, July 27, 2009

San Diego Comic-Con 2009: Rewards & Revelations

Back in the eighties I was a regular for Comic-Con. Had some great times, but just fell away from going to it when I "fell away" from collecting comics. Because back then, it really was more about comic books.

Last year I took my kids to Sunday and this year the entourage doubled. My kids, my love and two of hers. It made for crazy logistics, especially since the majority of them are not of an age where we can go "everybody scatter and meet here at 3 pm." But it also made for a day with the added perspective of a madhouse through a child's eyes.

There's something wonderful about a child realizing that she is not going to get in trouble for yelling along with the opening of Spongebob in a crowded room. In the giggles of the two girls as they snag freebies or pose for a picture with Barf from Spaceballs. Of the teenager grinning every time someone compliments his pink shirt with the "+10 Shirt of Masculinity" graphic.

For the adults, it was wonderful to see our friends. We made a point to search out Berkeley and Spice author Eden Bradley and Load World Comics Sam Saturday. The few minutes I spent with them would have been worth all the hassle. But they didn't have to be, because there were other things.

Panel highlight of the day for me was a discussion with Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. Dune fans, take note. There are several more books in the que and, perhaps most excitingly, there is talk of a new feature production. Brian was careful to point out that it is very much in the preliminary stage. It might never get beyond script doctoring. But even the prospect of a film produced in the post-Peter Jackson LOTR environment is enough to tingle the fanboy hairs on the back of my neck.

We ended the day at the Buffy Sing-Along, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all. The teenager, as we were leaving, pronounced Comic-Con to be "pure undiluted awesome sauce." More than enough motivation for us to return, and next time for more than one day. One day is too hectic. You need a minimum of two.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

I'm So Tired of The "I Can Shout!" Version of Political Discourse

I originally wrote this on a discussion board in response to specific claims. Then I realized that, even without changing the specific claims, it actually can fit with so many other similar discussions.

I want an end to the tactics of Karl Rove. I want to hear a political discussion where some research is evident. Where no one is called names, where no one repeats a stretch of an assumption ten times to make you think it must be true.

I want accountability. I want facts. I want something measurable, said by someone unafraid of the idea that if they put something out there that can be measured or tested they might end up being embarrassed because a mistake was found.

I'm getting so tired of the way certain people on these boards, when confronted, retreat into opinionated statements of doom and despair that have no component that can be discussed in a concrete manner.

Please provide evidence that there is a dictatorship or tyranny being planned. Please reference the definitions of dictatorship and tyrant while doing so. Please show examples of elected officials in this country who are legally entitled to hold their position "until death."

Please show evidence that the "far left" is a homogeneous group and that it is funded by a certain individual. In particular, expand upon claims that politically-motivated organizations with large memberships are the tools of a shadowy demagogue rather than the voice of a segment of the population.

Please be specific about which propaganda, please define socialism and compare and contrast it with the ideals in these publications and then please tell me how ANY political belief that is pursued through the current political system can actually be un-American when it is clear that public debate from all sides was considered to be an asset by the Founding Fathers.

Please define "myriad forms of welfare." Please discuss how certainty that medicare and medicaid will bankrupt the country fits with opposition to the establishment of a national healthcare system that would eliminate them. At the same time, please show why eliminating the significant cost to business that is currently imposed by supplying health insurance would be a negative upon the health of those companies... since I can't think of a single small to medium business owner I know who would not immediately point to health care and workers comp as their two biggest costs associated with employees other than actual wages.

Please provide examples of failed policies and programs that would indicate that this President is ineffectual rather than effective in a manner that disagrees with your personal goals.

Please provide examples of international failures and losses of territory and influence that would show that the global status of the United States has been weakened in the last six months.

And finally, please provide evidence that any and all of these individuals you scream against "hate America" rather than that they have certain beliefs that do not align flawlessly with your own.

I want stuff that can be proven or disproven. I want something besides the opinions. I want to see if you can actually quit screaming long enough to have rational discourse.

Forgive me if I don't believe that any of that will happen.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Anticipating A Decision In California

At approximately 1 pm eastern, the California Supreme Court opinion/decision on the most recent skirmish in the battle for California equality will be published. The decision will be focused on the legality of the marriages performed prior to the passing of Proposition 8.

Personally, I expect a decision that will satisfy no one. I expect them to uphold the legally-performed marriages in the interval between the striking down of the previous stricture limiting marriage to a man and a woman (which was not a constitutional amendment) and an opinion that because Prop 8 was a constitutional amendment, it has to stand.

I disagree with that last part. In my opinion, Prop 8 was only a constitutional revision. As such, it can be found to be incompatible with the actual document and rejected under the same grounds as the original court case that caused the drafting of Prop 8 in the first place.

Prop 8 does two things that, in my opinion, violate the constitution. One, it creates a separate standard of legal judgment for people of homosexual orientation, thereby deriving them of inalienable rights that are guaranteed in Section 1 Article 1 and making Prop 8 incompatible with the original document. Two, it violates Section 1 Article 4.

Free exercise and enjoyment of religion without
discrimination or preference are guaranteed. This liberty of
conscience does not excuse acts that are licentious or inconsistent
with the peace or safety of the State. The Legislature shall make no
law respecting an establishment of religion.


I believe that the existence of Prop 8 is inconsistent with the the peace and safety of the state. I further believe that Prop 8 prevents the free exercise and enjoyment of religion without discrimination or preference. What is more, I consider the denial of rights of a significant minority of the population based on religious beliefs to be licentious and therefore not protectable under the basis of freedom of religion.

I don't believe the Supreme Court will have the guts to completely overturn Prop 8, although I do believe that they will certify the marriages that took place prior to its passage. However, I also believe that they have reason to overturn it completely, reason that they themselves expressed in their prior opinion and that remain consistent with both the law and the Constitution.

I sincerely hope that the Supreme Court of California follows the path ofprotection of the rights of all of its citizens instead of following the opinion and preferences of a small and shrinking majority of its citizens.

Strike down Prop. 8.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Universal Health Care & Cops On San Diego Streets

With the ending of last falls election, some of the political steam left my blogging. Because rebellion against the establishment is fun to write but expounding on the pratfalls of Republicans and expanding on my admiration of Barack Obama went from supporting my candidate to feeling like I was gloating.

I don't like to boast and I certainly have never belonged to that group who likes to beat their chest and proclaim their victory. Oh, I celebrate. But I don't like to be perceived as rubbing it in.

But I am returning to these fields of endeavor. There is stuff going on.

One of the things that got Barack elected is his commitment to revamping health care in this country. Over the last few years, I have become an advocate for ending our current broken system altogether and putting the federal government in the role the insurance companies are now in. I feel health care should be up there with police and fire services, roads,infrastructure, education and national defense as the things that a modern society provides for all its citizens. This gets me labeled a socialist, or at least a believer in socialized medicine. But my argument has always been that taking basic health coverage out of the hands of the private sector would be a boon to businesses large and small . And a situation occurring in my hometown illustrates why, and also speaks to the very important issue of public safety.

San Diego is recovering from bankruptcy. Among the actions they have been forced to take is dramatic restructuring of retirement benefits for Police Officers and Firefighters. Those changes go into effect on July 1st, and affect not only new hires but employees who have been there for forty years.

Because of it, San Diego expects to lose up to 100 of its most experienced police officers and an unknown amount of fire crew in the next six weeks as they take retirement anywhere from two to five years before they planned on it.

See, under the new plan, health benefits for retirees are capped at just under $9,000.00 a year. As opposed to the full coverage they currently receive. And if any of you have actually seen what a hospital stay costs in this country, you know that this is the equivalent of paying 10 cents on the dollar.

I understand why the City of San Diego had to restructure. For that matter, so do most of the officers and firefighters. They aren't quitting in a self-righteous huff. They are reluctantly leaving departments they love and can still actively contribute to based on an inescapable financial reality.

In a nation with universal health care, this would be a non-issue. And 100 of the best of San Diego's Finest could continue to protect my children and share their experience with younger officers for a few more invaluable years. I'm sorry, but I firmly believe that some things you can't learn off a computer or out of a book.

So tell me, architects of John McCain's "5K Health Benefit." What good does a 5000 dollar tax break do for these people? Tell me, opponents of UHC, how private insurance is doing a better job in this case. Tell me why UHC would not be a good thing in this case.

And then, sorry to be harsh, tell it to the mother who wants to know why the people who shot her son while he was standing outside a party are still at large.

Or how about you look at today's headlines out of Southern California and last Octobers... and then make an argument to me about why you feel it is a good thing for some of the most experienced leaders and Chiefs in San Diego's Fire Department to take early retirement? We need that experience available come fire season.

The lack of a comprehensive health care system in this country is a threat to our economy and to our very safety. Nearly every other advanced society on this planet provides health care to all its citizens without placing that burden on the employers and without leaving millions of freelance employees, private contractors, self-employed or the unfortunate unemployed and their families in the predicament of choosing between dental care and new clothes, food or even the rent.

Tell your congressman. Tell your Senator. It is far past the time we caught up with the rest of the world on this.

Monday, April 13, 2009

#AmazonFail and Occam's Razor

Over this Easter weekend, something went wrong for electronic mega-marketer Amazon. That much is undeniable. What exactly went wrong? That is not so simple to determine.

The problem: Somehow, in an escalation of a policy implementation that has existed in some form since at least February, hundreds if not thousands of books with erotic and GLBT content were excluded from Amazon's rankings and thus from many of their search functions.

The exclusions were remarkably targeted. For example, The Parents Guide To Preventing Homosexuality was not removed. Heather Has Two Mommies was.

Theories over how this happened abound. Amazon, after being confronted with a huge outpouring of protest, especially on Twitter, says it was a glitch. At least one person on LiveJournal has posited that it was a deliberate attack by a Focus On The Family-type organization. Because of how specific the targets were, many are convinced it is deliberate discrimination from someone highly placed in the online retailer. Some believe that it was simply another example of a corporation being stupid.

By applying the most basic form of the principle generically known as Occam's Razor (All things being equal, the simplest theorem is most often correct), I would bet on the last being correct. And yes, I am aware that the Razor is actually far more complicated than this and that this is a pop culture application, not a scientific one.

Think no one could be that stupid? Please. New Coke. Hilary Clinton landing in Bosnia under sniper fire. John McCain choosing Sarah Palin.

The really interesting thing here is the reaction and the power of the internet. Amazon is going to be reeling under this for days if not months. Especially because other entities are smart enough to be jumping at opportunities. Phaze Books is running a protest 25% off sale. Twitterers are telling people to get a checklist of de-listed books and go buy them...from All Romance eBooks or Barnes & Noble or Borders.

One thing I am sure of is that the glitch explanation, by itself, does not wash. This was not an accident. That it may have been the exploitation of a found "glitch" by a small group of people, inside Amazon or out, with an agenda? That is most certainly reasonable.

But if Amazon is this vulnerable in their basic business practices, that doesn't make me feel very confident about the information security of my address, direct deposit info or, worst of all, my credit card info.

If you want to view the outrage, the information and some of the very funny opportunistic humor that lies at the base of this controversy, search Twitter under #amazonfail or, even better, under #glitchmyass. A good analysis of one of the possible causes is at Dear Author and you can find some interesting discussion at CNET.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Bit of Anti-CPSIA Silliness

If they can pass a silly law I can write a silly poem. Not claiming that it's good, just silly.

The little boy
From down the street
was looking very glum
he sat on the curb
his eyes downcast
not having any fun
I queried him
and he replied
"Oh sir, the world is sad
all the grownups are so mean
and the kids almost as bad"
So I ran home
and got Shel Silverstein
To make him smile again
with tales of Dirty Dan
and Where Sidewalks End
I knew he'd smile then
I put the book
into his hands
and smile yes he did
as sirens blared
and the police jumped out
from the bushes where they'd hid
they cuffed me then
and glared at me
and pushed me to the ground
the lead detective opened
up the book and groaned
and fixed me with a frown
"1974's the date
you very vicious wretch
how dare you give
a boy a book
the cancer then to catch?"
They snatched me up
took me away
but could not foil my plan
for as the cops
took me to jail
the boy laughed at Dirty Dan.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Another Case of Extremes in Idiocy: CPSIA

Neil Gaiman alerted me to something via Twitter. It's not something I had heard about before and is indicative of the reason that we need to have the occasional common sense veto on our lawmakers.

When the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 was passed last year, in the wake of the lead paint panic, it seemed wise. But a poorly written law often can do far more damage than good.

Now, I only discovered this myself within the last couple hours. But as much as it sounds like an Urban Legend, it does not seem to be so.

In trying to address a legitimate problem, our government has passed a law that is nothing short of stupid. The part that first caught my attention was about children's books published pre-1985. These are now considered so hazardous as to be outlawed for sale or even being stocked in libraries? Excuse me? Look, my copy of Where The Wild Things Are is not going to give my kid lead poisoning. Apple seeds are poisonous too. In sufficient quantities.

Another affected area? Bicycles. After all, I see kids eating bicycle frames for lunch every freaking day. They might be poisoned. We must address this atrocity! If my kid gets a bicycle frame in his mouth somehow, I am more worried about the fall he just took and his teeth. Not about possible lead poisoning from the metal. (Note that they are talking about the structural frame, not the paint on the frame.)

C'mon. We can not afford to allow this kind of stupidity to go unchecked. If you don't tell stupid people they are stupid, they think they are not doing anything wrong.

More information here:
http://www.city-journal.org/2009/eon0212wo.html
http://overlawyered.com/2009/02/cpsia-what-will-be-enforced
http://designloft.blogspot.com/2009/02/cpsia-by-numbers-why-libraries-cant.html

and directly from the source:

http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml09/09120.html

Spread the word and let's see if we can't get someone of intelligence in Washington to notice this travesty!

Edit: Adding a good link about how to handle calling your Congressional Representative.
http://www.whimsicalwalney.com/wp/?p=156

Further edit: I checked out the usually-reliable Snopes and their article is aimed at clothing resale and gives a blanket false report, not addressing the book issue. Please do not be fooled by this. The stay on the law still exempts children's books printed before 1985.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

A Review From The Wenches

BD Whitney over at Book Wenches reviewed the eXessica release Focus, which includes a short story/poem by yours truly. And she even liked it. Imagine that.

Dancing Wildly by Will Belegon:

After suffering the frustration of a long-distance relationship and six months of the delays that life can bring, a young man reunites with his girlfriend. Although he is initially uncertain of the reception he will receive from her, it soon becomes plain that their connection is as strong as ever.

The author of this short story has combined a poem with narrative to tell a tale of young love and joy. Although I am not a fan of poetry overall, this one is very well executed, and its use in this story is very effective in evoking an emotional reaction.


As a poet of emotion, who is less interested in being technically impressive than in eliciting a reaction, I am very pleased by the last line. Poem reviews are hard to come by. And when you do get them from someone not related to you, they are usually from other poets. I like discussing the details of word choice, etc. I do, really, I promise. But it is not why I write poetry. So I am especially happy to have this.

BD liked the entire book and gave a nice mention to my beloved for her short story Knead. BD, if I might be so bold, I think you show exceptional taste.

I'm biased, of course.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

The Heirs To Cronkite And Murrow

Looking back over what we learned in the campaigns and what we are learning in our present media, I have decided that I know who now holds the torch that Edward R. Murrow passed to Walter Cronkite.

And it's not Sixty Minutes, it is Jon Stewart. With Stephen Colbert and Bill Maher borrowing it on occasion.

If you had your eyes closed throughout the fall, suffering from the creepy overload of Caribou Barbie meets Senator I-Have-A-Hairball, it is time to open them again. Yes, the land of news is very disturbing because it reminds us of our diminishing 401ks. Personally, I've taken to measuring my losses in extra years I will have to work. But you aren't getting much reporting out of the major news networks anyway. Just parrot and spin.

It's the comedians that are giving us the real news. These three men, with their more partisan counterparts Keith Olberman and sometimes even Bill O'Reilly, make us laugh. Then they make us think about why it was funny. Stewart and his team at The Daily Show on Comedy Central (http://www.thedailyshow.com/) have become especially adept at using a public figures own words against him or her. Colbert is more sardonic and Maher more controversial. Olberman at his best can trump even Stewart, but his inconsistency is a factor and let's face it, he is as focused on one side of the issues as O'Reilly and Hannity. True, that side is the one I am on, but that is not my point today.

Murrow, who famously stood up to the madness of Joe McCarthy, and Cronkite, whose integrity can be measured by the once common sentiment that "if Walter says it, it is true," would see their legacy in these men, not at ABC, NBC, CBS or most especially at Fox. Honestly, can you imagine Walter Cronkite deep-frying a budget or using a racial slur on the air?

The media has a powerful position in America, and the electronic medias position becomes more powerful with every cutback at your local newspaper. There is a danger in papers like The Rocky Mountain News shutting down. It thins the conversation. Diversity of opinion and thought is one of the pillars of our liberty, something our founders knew very well. They were careful to protect the sources of diverse discussion in the Bill of Rights, and for good reason.

I'm not saying that the News Organizations lie, but I am saying that I trust Jon Stewart more than Brian Williams.

If someone asks you for your sources, you could do worse than these: http://www.thedailyshow.com/, http://www.billmaher.com/, http://www.colbertnation.com/home

Friday, February 27, 2009

DVDs, Movies and Obssessions

My beloved partner is to blame for this. She put the idea in my head that with all the interest I have and all the time I devote to video entertainment, I should put it to work. And she is not talking about the Mpeg's on my computer that feature mostly naked people, either. (Yes, I have some of that. In case you didn't notice the 501 crotch shot, I am male. And most men, whether they admit to it or not, have at least a minor porn stash. Which is not to say women don't...)

Do a review blog, she says.

And I'm taking her seriously. I woke up this morning thinking about what I could blog about today and started counting DVDs by title. I stopped counting at 669. Which is a number that is deceptively small based on other things.

Number one, that's titles. Which means that the 42 minute Dr. Horrible DVD counts the same as Ken Burns' Baseball, which has nine innings running about four hours each. Plus an "extra innnings" disc. Considering things like Baseball, Band of Brothers, The Tudors and even Lord of the Rings, I figured a better representation would be hours. If I call it four hours a title (which will be low, I promise) then I have over 2500 hours on DVD. It is probably closer to 3500, at least.

Number two, that does not count things still relegated to VHS or the countless hours that can be spent on the RPG genre of videogaming I love.

So, I have the inventory, especially when you consider that I am constantly wanting to acquire more and that I lost a goodly portion of my collection in the divorce. Many musicals, RomComs and movies the kids liked stayed behind in San Diego. Another 150-200 titles maybe.

But should I do it here? This blog was supposed to be to support my writing, then became political. But it's mine. I can do what I want.

Still, maybe I would be better served by doing a dedicated blog?

So, now I have to decide a few things. Dedicated blog, yes or no? If so, title of blog. How to distinguish from the hundreds already out there. Do I focus on new stuff? Overlooked stuff? Blasts From the Past?

I mean, there are still far too few people that have seen Before Sunrise.

Friday, February 20, 2009

My Poor Neglected Blog

It's not that I haven't been writing blog posts here... it's that I haven't been writing.

I've been plotting a new Erotique-world story with my partner and I did write sports during the Charger playoff run. But overall, I just haven't been writing. The Padres got a new owner and a new left-fielder. Not a word. the Chargers designated a franchise player. I'm silent. The Republicans have been acting like spoiled children who want to take their ball and go home and I've been quiet.

I so need to change this.

Yesterday, I wrote nearly 2200 words on a new story. Which is great, except that now I have yet another WIP. (Work In Process, for you sane people. You know, the non-writers.)

So I dutifully say to myself that I'm gonna finish it today. It's an erotic piece and I've got one of them naked and the other one half naked. I've written literally dozens of sex scenes. One more should just flow easily through my fingers to the screen, right?

Nope. Nothing. Not a friggin' word. Frick. Freak. Frak. And all those other substitute f-words that are out there. (Why do made up substitute F words always have an R in them?)

Maybe I'll try again this afternoon. Sigh.

Monday, January 19, 2009

It's Really Happening...

I've been silent here for a month. After a 2008 in which I ranted and raved about everything and everyone.

But I wake up today, on a day where we celebrate Dr. King's birthday...and knowing that Coming Together At Last is out, and knowing that the Bushes have moved out of the White House...and I think about what that means. And I think about how passionately I endorsed and hoped and prayed for tomorrow.

Tomorrow, Barack Obama will be sworn in as President of the United States. Tomorrow, the official face of our nation...will be black. Part of me wants to shy away from that, because after all, Barack's complexion is monumentally unimportant to me in so many ways. I didn't and do not support him for that reason. It just didn't register as a negative.

But see, that's the point, isn't it? I mean, I don't want to sound like a braggart. But isn't my attitude exactly what Dr. King dreamed about and searched and fought for so hard that they actually killed him for it? Dr. King never wanted restitution or guilt or apology... he wanted opportunity. He wanted his children and his grandchildren to be judged not by their genetics, but by their deeds.

So, I celebrate the inauguration of a black man because it represents a step toward that color-blind society. But that is not what has me excited. That is not what has me watching YouTube again.

Tomorrow, a man takes office who believes in inclusion over exclusion. Who appeals to our hopes instead of our fears. Who's first response to an attack is tempered instead of temperamental. Who is looking for solutions instead of scapegoats.

He is the child of a single parent. He understands the importance of grandparents. He knows what and where his roots are. He understands that it sometimes takes competition to bring the best out of us. He is unafraid to show that he loves his family. He is unafraid to utter the words, "I was wrong" although he presumably hates the need to do so. He hates to lose, but he is not arrogant in victory.

He does not say, "I am the authority," he asks us to join his team. He asks us to care for our fellow Americans and our fellow citizens of the world. He asks us to sacrifice, not shop. He can pronounce nuclear.

And he is perhaps the ultimate embodiment of the American Dream.

Tomorrow, we move from a nation that locks it's doors in fear to one that opens them to their neighbors. Tomorrow, we reclaim optimism, at a time when it is desperately needed. Tomorrow, the man who was derided as unready will hit the ground running with more of his administration already in place than any President I can remember. Tomorrow, the man I rooted for like he was the point guard of my basketball team steps on the court to take on the challenges and I will support him the way I supported Magic when he lead the Lakers. Because it is not bad for the President to inspire the dedication that a rock star, celebrity or sports hero does. Indeed, it has been far too long since one did.

I am a Charger fan, a Padre fan and a USA fan. And an Obama fan, too.

And yeah, maybe I'll have the feeling like my team just won the big game. And maybe that's wrong because all our work is ahead of us, not behind. But anyone who spent as much time in locker rooms as I did knows that leadership may be a concept in rhetoric, but it's a required reality when a team needs to accomplish something.

Tomorrow, our point guard bring the ball up court. Set the offense up, gang. We got a game to win.