Bear hunting season starts . . .

. . . October 15. Be there or be square.
Something odoriferous comes this way . . .

Here's a news story about breaking new ground in the legal profession:

Man Charged With Passing Gas at Cop

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Sept. 25) -- A West Virginia man who police
said passed gas and fanned it toward a patrolman has been charged with
battery on a police officer.

Jose A. Cruz, 34, of Clarksburg, was pulled over early Tuesday for
driving without headlights, police said. According to the criminal
complaint, Cruz smelled of alcohol, had slurred speech and failed three
field sobriety tests before he was handcuffed and taken to a police
station for a breathalyzer test.

As Patrolman T.E. Parsons prepared the machine, Cruz scooted his chair
toward Parsons, lifted his leg and "passed gas loudly," the complaint

Cruz, according to complaint, then fanned the gas toward the officer.

"The gas was very odorous and created contact of an insulting or
provoking nature with Patrolman Parsons," the complaint alleged.

He was also charged with driving under the influence, driving without
headlights and two counts of obstruction.

Cruz acknowledged passing gas, but said he didn't move his chair toward
the officer nor aim gas at the patrolman. He said he had an upset
stomach at the time, but police denied his request to go to the
bathroom when he first arrived at the station.

"I couldn't hold it no more," he said.

He also denied being drunk and uncooperative as the police complaint
alleged. He added he was upset at being prepared for a breathalyzer
test while having an asthma attack. The police statement said he later
resisted being secured for a trip to a hospital that he requested for
asthma treatment.

Cruz said the officers thought the gas incident was funny when it
happened and laughed about it with him.

"This is ridiculous," he said. "I could be facing time."

I don't know; just seems like something Dogboy would do . . .
So misunderstood . . .

Act I, pirates seize "big boat" with an array of tanks and ammunition . . .

Act II, pirates are surrounded by U.S. Navy . . .

Act III, pirates meet media and claim they are misunderstood . . .

Act IV, shit happens . . .

Somali Pirates Tell All

The Somali pirates who hijacked a Ukrainian freighter loaded with tanks, artillery, grenade launchers and ammunition said in an interview Tuesday that they had no idea that the ship was carrying arms when they seized it on the high seas. . . .

He said that so far, in the eyes of the world, the pirates had been misunderstood. “We don’t consider ourselves sea bandits,” he said. “We consider sea bandits those who illegally fish in our seas and dump waste in our seas and carry weapons in our seas. We are simply patrolling our seas. Think of us like a coast guard.”

Gee, wonder what happens next.

The plot of these real world events is roughly similar to a Dreamland installment back a few books ago, except for Act III. That was a twist I didn't think of . . . guess I'm just not sensitive enough...
So shoot me . . .

People scold me for forgetting to link to the website:

Click here to pre-order the book from B&N online.
It means sell, sell, sell

So I had to go up to the Club today and have lunch with the judge so he'd fix my ticket. On the way through the dining room, I heard the following:

"I picked my Wall St. Journal up from the driveway this morning and it had fox scat on it! Yellow fox scat. What do you think that means?"

"Sell like there's no tomorrow."
Rogue Warrior: Dictators Ransom update

People ask about the signing schedule . . .

Dick is doing some signings at military bases on the east coast around the middle of October when the book comes out. He's also probably going to be in San Antonio during that same period doing appearances there. Last I heard, nothing has been set up in NYC, but that may change.

The schedule is actually set by the publisher, but it has to coordinate with Dick's schedule, which can be pretty nutso.

We're hoping to get a list of the appearances on the book's website: shortly. You can also go from there to Dick's main site, which is a good way to keep up with him directly.

Truth is, I'm a flea on the back of the dog when it comes to most of the promotion stuff for Rogue Warrior. We have a publicity manager as well as people at the publisher who handle all that. Dick handles the appearances and the interviews himself as a general rule.

Me - pretty much I stay in the bar and drink beer. Who the hell wants to hear me talk?
Bailout or surrender?

The Treasury Secretary's proposal to stave off the eminent collapse of our financial system represents a unique opportunity to begin a restructuring that will lessen the power of the international corporations and ultra-rich, reestablishing principles that have guided this country's best days since the Pilgrims tripped over the rocks at Plymouth. It is nothing less than a test of Lincoln's maxim that the U.S. should be a government "of the people" - of all the people, not just the obscenely wealthy and well-connected ones.

You can look at it from a conservative, liberal, libertarian, main street view - the plan as presently stated reeks, rewarding not just derelict behavior but the financial equivalent of mass murder and terrorism. Lacking even the simplest guarantees and oversights, it is little better than legalized robbery of common taxpayers, future as well as present.

And with the lobbyists working overtime, maybe there's no hope.

My seats, second row, section 120: waiting for me now in eternity . . .

Beyond the wrecking ball

ESPN interviewed me for a documentary on the Stadium Friday. I'm pretty sure I was my usual incoherent self, so there's no danger of anything I said actually being used. But the interview did make me think about the Stadium and its last days before fading into the great maul of remembered and disremembered history.

I'm talking about Yankee Stadium, of course. If you grew up in New York, even if you're not a Yankee fan, that's what "Stadium" means.

I resisted all the forced and for-sale nostalgia crap this season, turned off by the forced hype that seemed designed more to make money than generate memories. If the people who own the Yankees really cared about the Stadium itself, they would have renovated the place; instead, tearing it down became just one more opportunity to separate fans, semi-fans, and the merely curious from their money.

But I have come to understand and appreciate the real nostalgia for the place, the memories and emotion that transcend the dollar signs. All the fans talk about the players they've seen there, the Mantles and Mattinglys and Jeters, but the real nostalgia is for the people they've been there with, the fathers and sons and brothers, the wives and lovers, the friends they've gotten drunk with and the strangers they shared a bond with in the stands.

Like my dad, who bought me so many peanuts the first time we went to a game that to this day I don't eat them any more...

My uncle, a Bronx kid who showed me all, or almost all, the joints still standing that he used to frequent before, after, and during the games. ("Ten percent of what was here once. But this place was good. And over there . . .")

Like Kit, Luce, and Melf, the best friends a derelict 13-year-old could ever have ...

The Blaze Brothers, who walked with me through East Harlem to get there ...

Smith, the Diehard, screaming at people leaving in the 7th, knowing the Yanks would come back seven runs down. (They did.) ...

Ford, who never met a beer curfew he couldn't get around ...

Jerome, who maybe can punch out a cop and an EMT on a bad day, but won't brave the sushi on a good one ...

Fred, a Mets fan who found the Dark Side impossible to resist ...

And on and on. My own history with the Stadium is somewhat checkered. I didn't tell ESPN that I'd been kicked out one and a half times for intense and earnest philosophical discussions with members of the Red Sux Nation. (One of those times is only a half because really, honestly, in my heart, I was trying to be a peacemaker. Just sometimes you have to be forceful about it.)

I also neglected to mentioned the time the piece of railroad track fell off the el and missed me by six or eight inches. (Fortunately, NYPD was right on it, surrounding the wayward iron plate so it couldn't get away.)

Or how easy it used to be to sneak beer in, or bribe an usher for a better seat. Or how old I was before I stopped getting hoarse by the second inning.

Some of these things - the fights especially - happened several lifetimes ago. Going to the Stadium was much different then, not least of all because you could walk up on game day and buy good seats from the little blue booths. But I've changed a bit myself.

I'm sure the new ballpark will be fun, and when it is replaced eighty years from now people will wax poetic about what a great place it was to see a game. But that glint in their eyes won't really be about the park; it'll be about the people they went there with, and the person they were when they did.

Thanks for being there, friends. And thank you, Yankee Stadium. You'll stand forever in our hearts.

And by the way - I ate the sushi, and lived to tell about it.

* - Why me? Dunno - I think they confused me with Studs Terkel. Musta been the stogie.
And about that bailout . . .

One of the things that bugs me about the reporting/commentary on the meltdown of the American financial/investment banking/insurance system is the way it's generally blamed solely on subprime mortgages and the obscene run-up in housing prices in the MSM.

Don't get me wrong: those are serious ingredients in the current mess. But the improper leveraging and use of that debt - all of it, good as well as bad - is acting as the immense force multiplier. That's what caused Wall Street to crater into a black hole. Without that, you have red ink on balance sheets and maybe a problem along the lines of the S&L crisis in the 1980s* . . . not a debacle that is so serious the world's financial system is at stake.

Focusing on bad mortgages takes the spotlight away from some of the real villains/dopes here - people who took home millions of dollars over the past several years.

And if I hear one more $%^&!! say he had no idea what the derivatives his company was trading/selling/creating were all about, I'm shooting the son of a bitch.

* Bigger, yes. But still easier and "cheaper" to deal with. By comparison, at least.
Bailouts . . .

I guess we're all New Dealers now . . .

I just want to know, when the Fed bails out writers, do I get to keep my golden parachute?

Most writers are unrepentant tinkerers, never really content with how a sentence sounds, let alone how a story goes. Given the chance, they'll change, edit, rearrange, shift, rework, rethink and rehash for the rest of their lives.

I'm one of them.

Deadlines usually save me. To get it out the door (or off the computer) by a certain time, you have to stop tinkering eventually. My rule is that, once it's done, it's done, go, get out, move on, no looking back.

Of course, that doesn't really work with a book. The copy edit comes back, then the proofs, and, arg, the finished product. Which in my mind, and I'm sure in most writers' minds, isn't really finished - it's just the state of the story when an arbitrary deadline arrived.

I try to avoid making too many changes at either the copy edit or the proof stages; the first because I don't necessarily trust myself to be objective - the first time you see the book back, no matter how good it really is, it sucks - and the second because publishers tend to completely freak when you do much more than point out typos.

But lately, I've been confronted with another stage - the excerpt for the web stage. The other day, looking over the first chapter of the new Rogue Warrior book, Dictator's Ransom, I was confronted with a whole bunch of prose that read not the way I wanted it to read. (Kinda like that sentence.)

It was tempting - beyond tempting - to revise it. But would people who then bought the book notice the changes and say, WTF?

I guess there's a philosophical question there: once it's "done," should it really be "done"?

I made a few changes, and probably would have made more, had a deadline not loomed... good thing it's football season, or I might still be tinkering.

And now for the shameless plug:
Dogboy goes Wall Street

I hadn't seen Dogboy since before I went to Italy, so I wasn't quite ready the other night when I ran into him at our local cultural establishment. I mean, he looked the same, he sounded the same, he even smelled the same.*

But he had three-ring binders in front of him, and papers spread out all along the bar. That ain't Dogboy, at least not the Dogboy I know. The only piece of paper I've ever seen him study was a racing form; when he went to get his marriage license, he had his wife summarize the highlights. (Bad luck for him, but that's another story.)

"What the hell are you reading?" I asked.

"CAEL reports."

I blinked, then ordered a shooter to go with my beer. CAEL stands for "capital adequacy, asset quality, profitability, and liquidity"; a CAEL report is an assessment of a bank's financial stability - pretty technical stuff, and definitely not bar reading.

Not red-neck, trailer trash reading either. You wouldn't think.

"What's up with that?" I asked after I did the shot.

"Studying up. Looking for some bargains."

I leaned back on the barstool, sipping my beer. The bartender - it was Tony, the aneorexic Soprano sound-alike - came over and whispered in my ear. "He's been like that since McCain tapped Sarah Palin. He's got an in with her somehow; wants to be treasury secretary."

"I heard that," said Dogboy, looking up. "And it's not true."

"Just saying." Tony retreated.

"I have my eye on some bargains here." Dogboy frowned at me. "You gonna have another shot?"

"I was just about to ask for the bottle," I told him.

* A mix of stale cigarettes and butchered deer. Yeah, I know it's not deer season yet. Don't ask.
Whose side are they on?

The Pakistan military has decided that it will shoot on American forces coming over the border . . . and don't you know they'll be using American bullets to do it.

Pretty clear whose side the army is on.

Who's in charge in Pakistan? The president, the military, the terrorists who have turned a good hunk of the border area into their private reserve?

There'll be an argument that the statements about shooting Americans are being made to play to internal politics. But Pakistan is well beyond that, as the assassination of Bhutto should have made clear to anyone outside the country . . . let alone inside.

As an aside, maybe I'm just cranky from watching the melt-down of our banking system, but lame-ass formulaic and no-think reporting bothers me more and more these days. These paragraphs were in one of the AP stories on the situation:

Pakistani officials warn that stepped-up cross-border raids will accomplish little while fueling violent religious extremism in nuclear-armed Pakistan. Some complain that the country is a scapegoat for the failure to stabilize Afghanistan.

Pakistan's civilian leaders, who have taken a hard line against Islamic militants since forcing Pervez Musharraf to resign as president last month, have insisted that Pakistan must resolve the dispute with Washington through diplomatic channels.

Pakistan a scapegoat? Give me a break. Just because a source says something doesn't mean a) it's true or b) that it should be included in the story. And as for Pakistan's civilian leaders taking a "hard line" - I'd hate to see what capitulation looks like.

But crappy reporting isn't going to change the situation in Pakistan . . . Pakistanis will.

You're invited to:

PLEASE IS URGENT/TEL+226 76-86-44-69
By your host:
Mr Umar Dialo




Saturday September 13, 2008
9:00 pm - 10:00 pm (GMT +00:00)

Will you attend?
RSVP to this invitation

The hole remains in our hearts . . .
Finally, we start to get serious . . .

I won't go into a big tirade about Afghanistan/Al Qaeda, since the few people who might actually read it already know pretty much what's going on. But the administration finally seems to have gotten serious, or almost serious, or almost-almost serious, about dealing with Al Qaeda there - and in Pakistan.

At least they've finally formally said it's OK to operate there.

Actually, they're just belatedly recognizing (part of) the reality. In truth, parts of the Pakistan army have been at war with America for several years. They've been firing on Americans for quite a while now.

Here's a story that actually has the balls to say what's going on there - first thing I've seen in the MSM that acknowledges that Pakistanis are attacking Americans:

Right at the Edge
Published: September 7, 2008
The Taliban and Al Qaeda have established a haven in Pakistan’s tribal areas along the Afghan border. This is where the war on terror will be fought – and possibly lost.

Click here to read.

Filkins' article will seem pretty pessimistic. There are a lot of people who will tell you he's not pessimistic enough.

It's funny: when I first started working on Leopards Kill - which was about two, maybe three years before it came out - I thought it would be old news by the time it was published, because surely we'd have woken up . . . more and more, it looks like a dark prophecy.
How'd the French get there?

What the hell were the French doing in Vietnam anyway?

Compressing a few hundred years of history into a couple of sentences, like other European powers, the French started trading with Asia during the sixteenth century, establishing small communities* throughout southeast Asia. During this period, the area of Vietnam was actually two different kingdoms, both with strong ties to China. China had given up direct rule in the 15th century, but still exerted great influence and, at various times, took what amounted to tribute and/or tried to regain direct control of the area.

During the 19th century, France decided it wanted Vietnam as a colony, primarily for financial reasons, though also because Catholic missionaries wanted to save souls there. They fought a series of battles, first in the south, and then in the north, defeating the locals and Chinese mercenaries (who were operating with their government's blessing and maybe money, but I digress . . .). They did this with relatively small numbers of troops; the battles that took place involved only a few hundred to a few thousand men.

Why Vietnam? Besides saving souls, French businessmen got raw materials and rice real cheap. But the colonial administration was less than enlightened - torture, concentration camps, the works - and the government had to deal with various rebellion movements right up until World War II, when the Nazi conquest of Vietnam made Indochina a de facto Japanese colony, a key base during the Asian portion of the war.

So why were the commies so strong there? Two reasons: Because the communist party provided the structure and discipline necessary for an anti-French movement to survive the repression, and China (and Russia) supplied aid to their fellow travelers. When the war ended, the communist-dominated liberation movement led by Ho Chi Minh quickly moved to seize the country. The liberated French government actually concluded a treaty with Uncle Ho after the war, which effectively would have turned control of the country over to a national government, but it was clear that the two sides were working with different aims -- the French wanted Vietnam back as a colony, and Ho wanted to establish a communist state. Things quickly came to a head . . . and every other body part.

* If I call them colonies, you're going to think of America, and that's not really a good parallel. And yeah, I'm just going to gloss over the whole protectorate/colony thing, which distinguished different parts and times of the administration. The French arrangements were even more complicated than the British, but then that's France for you.
Vinh Yen

Today, Vinh Yen is a provincial capital; roughly 75,000 people live in and around it. The name is pronounced nothing like it looks - unless you're Vietnamese, in which case you're used to the weird systems Westerners use to try and translate their language into something more familiar to their computer keyboards.

One word of advice: be careful, very careful, where you ride your motorcycle there.
Vinh Yen

Vinh Yen - or more precisely the area to the north and east of the city - was the site of an important battle in the French-Vietnamese War that preceded ours. Giap - the great Vietnamese general - tried breaking the French forces with a series of concentrated attacks that culminated in a mass charge. He got his butt kicked in the end, but it was a hellacious fight. The outnumbered French used napalm to help hold off the attack. (It was not the first battle where napalm was used, though some people thing so.)

Nobody but the dead and their relatives remember it today.
Where we are today . . .

Tuyen Quang, 1885
Upon further review . . .

So A-Rod gets the historical footnote of having been the first baseball player to have a home run reviewed by instant replay.

I don't like it. Not A-Rod -- hard not to like a guy who's getting it from a rock star billionaire who still looks good at whatever age Madonna says she is. It's instant replay I can't stand. (At least not to review home runs. Intimate shots of - never mind ...)

Somehow it's not baseball. Football, all right. That's a sport where brute force and technology must mesh. But baseball . . . hell, if we can't complain about the umpires, all we're left to bitch at are the outrageous prices.
Another rejected RW trailer . . .

More from the rejected trailer series for the new Rogue Warrior book . . . the real video, which features Dick talking about the book and how it relates to the world situation, should be available soon.