And let me say this about the parade

Without a doubt, this year's Santa was the most animated ever . . .

And one of these days I'm going to remember to stay on the side of the street I want to be on after the parade . . .
Thank God for turkeys . . .

Alleged car thief hit with frozen turkey

RALEIGH, N.C. (Nov. 24) - Stopped. Cold turkey.
North Carolina authorities say a shopper clubbed an alleged carjacker with a frozen turkey as he tried to steal a woman's car in a grocery store parking lot Sunday.
Police say 30-year-old Fred Louis Ervin of Raleigh stole money from a gas station before running across the street to a Harris Teeter store in a town just south of Raleigh. Garner police say he began beating Irene Moorman Bailey while stealing her car.
Other shoppers came to her rescue, including one who hit Ervin with the turkey. Police did not release the person's name.
Despite serious head injuries, Ervin got away in Bailey's car and hit several other cars as he fled. But police arrested him a short time later.
He faces several charges including assault inflicting serious injury. Ervin was hospitalized Monday in good condition, a hospital spokeswoman said. He had not yet been assigned a lawyer and was to appear in court Dec. 30.

Just think - if it had been July 4 or Labor Day, he would have gotten away...
What I learned from the copy editor today

You can't use leapt any more. They always change it to leaped.

I hate leaped. Bleep your friggin' leaped. I steted all the mf'ers.

Sister Mary Elephant would be so proud.
Rogue Warrior signings

The Rogue Warrior - Meet the Rogue himself tour continues . . . November 25 at the Borders store in Warrenton, Va., beginning at 7 p.m. There are only a 100 copies of Dictator’s Ransom left though, so hit the place quick.

And somebody bring Dick a Dr. Bombay special. The man gets thirsty on the road . . .
Why do people jump bail?

Lately, a lot of people come here looking for the answer to that question. That's easy: Because they figure it's better than the alternative.

Usually, it ain't. But that's only if they're caught.

Some statistics, which is what the web traffic is probably really about:

There are no reliable numbers from the U.S., probably because of the decentralized nature of the U.S. criminal justice system.All of the academic work seems to be based on educated (and maybe not so educated) guesses. The number 35,000 per year appears in a bunch of sources on the internet, and was used by the BBC a while back in a report, but once you dig down you can't find any indication that it's anything but a WAG.

According to my friends in the, uh, profession, the number of people jumping bail is relatively low because bail bondsmen are pretty careful about who they post bonds for. (What about people who skip on ROR - released on their own recognizance - or who posted their own bail? "Whud the @#$#$ would I know?" responded one of my sources. "You buyin' that beer you promised, or what?")

There are statistics in the UK, which has a different criminal justice system. Counting everyone - traffic scofflaws to mass murderers - on the order of 38,000 people skip in a typical year. Ninety percent are caught within a few months.

So that's what I know. Good luck with your term paper. Thank you for visiting; come back as often as you wish.

Now back to the regularly scheduled mayhem.

Presented as a public service, and an excuse to bs with old friends. Thanks to Bounty Hunter Bob, Scranton, Jersey City Jones, and Google.
What I learned from the editor today . . .

Snowmelt is one word.*

*But not according to the Blogger spellchecker. The OED and Shorter Oxford don't like either. I'm guessing the Brits never really cared much for snow, at least not in Oxford. I don't know what Blogger's got against it.
What brother Jeremy is up to . . .

Jeremy Roberts' latest wrestling effort hits the stores Dec. 9 . . . two days after Pearl Harbor Day.

A coincidence? I think not.

The book covers some of the greatest feuds - pardon the expression, as apparently that's no longer the accepted term - over the past twenty years or so . . .

A link to B&N. And one to Amazon.

Thanks Moose . . . we miss you already.
Speaking of pirates & Rogues . . .

Dick will be on Fox & Friends tomorrow, Thursday, at 7:15 a.m. to talk about some of the things that should be done.

He may also give a seminar in ship boarding. Dictator's Ransom*, by the way, details several methods, all battle-tested . . .

(And fug on using those suction cups. Crazy's crazy, but that's just nuts ...)

* The mandatory shameless plug for the new book.

More on pirates . . .

Why am I so bugged about the piracy off Somalia?

For one thing, Dale Brown and I have been writing about it for something like five years. We've seen it progress from (mostly) random acts of highway robbery to an organized activity yielding untold millions a year. The press talks about the pirates as motley collections of near homeless men. (I assume this is because of their sources; I doubt they've talked to any.) The truth is, most of these guys are being outfitted and run by highly organized bandits using high tech to make good their ransoms. Islamic terrorists and organized crime - hard to tell them apart here - are involved.

Beyond the shameless plug for our Dreamland series*, my point is this: if two fiction writers can figure this out, what's with the people who are actually paid to consider national and international security issues?

The way things are going, I expect that next the pirates will take over a bank and ask for a bailout.

* - They make an appearance in a couple of places; check out Satan's Tail, where one of our all time favorite characters, Captain Harold "Storm" Gale, makes his debut . . .
And speaking of plugs- yesterday's excerpts came from the Wall Street Journal.

My all-time favorite translation cover. Just because.

Now in pirate custody . . .

This is what navies are for . . .


Oil Tanker Waylaid

DUBAI -- The U.S. Navy said pirates commandeered a Saudi-owned supertanker bearing more than $100 million worth of crude a few hundred miles off the Kenyan coast, an attack that sharply increases the stakes in an effort by governments and militaries to protect the world's energy-supply lines.

And this from a Navy - our Navy - admiral:

In Washington, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said he was "stunned" at the circumstances of the latest seizure. "Certainly we've seen an extraordinary rise" in attacks, he said. "I am extremely concerned by the overall number."

Yo, get a clue boys - the hijacking has been going on for a number of years and is now being run by highly coordinated and organized gangs - mafya, al Qaeda, et al - using fishing trawlers and tugs. They have and are collecting millions of dollars in ransom from companies, mostly in Europe, but all over the world.

Time to do two things:

1 - no more ransoms, period.

2 - kill the bastards.

Pick your order.

This is why we have a navy... as do the Brits, France, Russia, etc.
Rogue Warrior Virginia area book signings

People ask me questions . . .

Rogue Warrior book signings in the Virginia area:

11/22 signing at Little Creek in Norfolk
11/25 signing at Borders in Warrenton
12/11 signing at Ft. Lee
12/12 signing at Borders
in Springfield

Dick will be at all of these. More details - like the times - should be posted on his website when it become available: soon - or check with the bookstores themselves.
Fleecing of America, cont. ...

Just to make sure we're up to date....

One of the largest insurance companies in the world, having burned through - was it $90 billion? I lose track - says it needs more money . . . a lot more money . . . and oh by the way, the execs thank you for the bonuses . . .

Congress, with a gun to its collective head, approved a $700 billion bail out to buy bad mortgages securities so banks wouldn't fail . . . but the Treasury Secretary now says, hey, forget that idea, but I'm spending your money anyway. . . .

Everyone from American Express to Mom&Pop's Cafe down the block is claiming they're a bank so they can get in on the fed easy money giveaway . . .

GM says it will run out of money by the end of the year if taxpayers don't fork over their great-great grandkids' pensions . . .

And today I got three emails about Obama being a socialist....
About the NSA . . .

A group of historians recently prepared a report on a large portion of the NSA's operations dating back to its post-war beginnings. Given No Such Agency's justifiable obsession with secrecy, the project was and is an amazing undertaking. (Notwithstanding the fact that it has pulled back its curtain somewhat over the past decade or so. Check out James Bamford's excellent and groundbreaking books on the agency if you're interested in what they do, etc.)

Portions of the historians' report are being made public today. I haven't read it, but from what I understand, a lot of what made it to the public version are fantastic accounts - of spectacular failures.

I'm sure the accounts will be accurate, or at least as accurate as human memory, etc., can make them. But I suspect that the historians involved would be the first to say that the public report presents a somewhat lopsided view. The reason - the agency itself discouraged or redacted information on its successes.

I'm guessing - I don't know any of the historians involved. But I base that guess on my own experiences.

A few years ago, I wrote what amounted to a history of special operations during the period from Panama to post-Gulf War I. (My credit is so obscure you'll never notice it, which is fine with me.) There was a lot of official cooperation - the best - but I'd say 90 percent of that involved missions that had failed. And even when we were done, the editing took out a lot of the good stuff.

Why? Because the good operations are models for what works, and you don't want to tell the enemy what that is... Even if you can get some of the same stories by hanging out at the bar that night and not being a jackass.

I certainly don't believe that U.S. intelligence agencies are infallible. The image sometimes portrayed in fiction - mine occasionally included - often paints a ludicrously optimistic view of what goes on. (I do occasionally try to be realisitic - that's a top for another time.) We certainly do need to remember that the intelligence agencies, the military, big business, small business - everything humans do is fraught with imprecision, errors, and plain bad luck.

On the other hand, things do work out a heck of a lot of times. Even more times than some of those in the field like to admit.

The NSA report is bound to be fascinating reading. Just remember the context is slightly skewed.
Meet the new boss . . .*

As just about every baseball fan knows, the Yankees are opening a new stadium this year to "enhance the fan experience" - and coincidentally wring every last available dollar from their pockets.

Hank, Hal and the gang invited the press over the other day to talk about how great the technology is going to be. To demonstrate, they showed an in-Stadium traffic report that will be available via wireless connection throughout the stands . . . a report which indicated that there was no way out of da Bronx.

Maybe the seats fold down into beds.

* -As in the Who song, "Won't Get Fooled Again," a few bars of which are (usually) played just before the Yankees take the field before games.
Make mine black . . .

So now we're bailing out GM? Does this mean every taxpayer in the country gets a car?

I want a Cadillac - oh, and it should get fifty miles to the gallon around town, a little better on the highway.


Two years ago, I had the privilege of attending Veterans Day services in Scotland and London - or as they called it, Remembrance Day.

The ceremony in London was a grand thing, with an awesome ceremony and touching words. But much more moving was a simple flower laying I witnessed at a memorial for commandos near Achnacarry. Some friends and family of a young man who'd lost his life in Iraq spent a few moments remembering him. There wasn't a parade, or a band; no speeches, no songs. But it was a moment as important as any at the national day in London.

I've seen that moment repeated countless times at small cemeteries around the area where I live. Most of the veterans remembered were older men when they passed away, but I doubt that lessens the feeling of their loss; I know it doesn't lessen the struggles they faced during their time of service.

There's no way of compensating the living, let alone the dead, no matter how necessary the sacrifice. We just go on and do our best.
Sacro Terrore

Speaking of Rogue, a note to our Italian friends - the new paperback is out. Rumor has it the Pope is planning a signing (he has a cameo) . . .

No, I'm not sure why you guys are an installment behind. . . .
The wonders of Photoshop

The North Koreans released a photo of the Great Leader front and center and a military bash over the weekend . . . the only problem was the photo was very obviously Photoshopped. (You can read the story here, courtesy of the BBC.)

So is Kim il-Jong on his deathbed?

That's been the theory for several months. What happens when he finally dies?

Dick Marcinko speculated on that during some of the interviews for our new Rogue Warrior book. You can read some of the interview at www.Dictators; basically his take is that North Korea may become even more dangerous, as the military and the pretenders to Kim's throne maneuver to take control.

Will North Korea's next leader feel secure enough to abandon the nuclear program and stop developing (and exporting) missile technology? The truth is, we know so little about North Korea that it's impossible to say.
The latest Dreamland

There's been some sot of snafu on this week and last, and reviews of a religious book have conflated with Dreamland....

It's funny in a perverse sort of way. And heck, most people like his book and are generous with the stars, so I'm not complaining.

What I wonder is whether the other author is getting our reviews... which may really confuse him.

Click the cover above to go to our Amazon entry.

Dreamland is an action-adventure book, completely plot-driven. It's air battle after air battle after air battle, with an occasional pause for a land battle.

But for myself, and I think for Dale, too, it's always been about the people.

The characters take on lives of their own, especially after you've lived with them for so long. You start thinking about them as real people. Even some of the characters you could take or leave - Mack Smith springs to mind - are literally real to you.

Dog - Colonel Bastian - has always been my personal favorite. Dale said something once that described him - I forget how he put it exactly, but it was along the lines of "d-o-g" is God spelled backwards, and that's not a coincidence. But right from the start, Dog hasn't been conceited at all. I think if anything he's been humble. Now granted, he doesn't take no bs from anyone, and he expects things done when he says do them . . . but he always tries to be decent to people, treating them the way he would like to be treated.

I think Dog's character works well, and gives the book a good feel, adding to that epic quality I mentioned the other day. But sometimes I wonder - what if he was a bit more conceited? What if he was a jerk? We'd've had more conflict in the books . . . different plots.... more intrigue ...

Maybe the stories would have been better, maybe not. But in any event, I just couldn't do that to those people . . .

The latest Dreamland - Revolution - has a character named Mark Stoner.

Unlike most of my characters, Mark is semi-based on a real person. (It's not his name, btw.)

I first met him in high school. He was a middle linebacker. I was a wide receiver. Actually, I think I was playing slot back that day. Anyway, for some reason in their coverage scheme he had to cover me when I ran short patterns over the middle. Let's just say I was having a field day in those patterns, including one for a TD. At some point, we went to the well once too often; the quarterback didn't quite lead me enough and Mark got a good measure of revenge, just about taking off my head with probably the most vicious slam he'd ever made.

(Mark was about twice my size. Everyone is about twice my size, but he was really twice my size.)

I wish I could say I held onto the ball, but I didn't. I saw about three of everything after that, but I stayed in the game. I don't think any more routes over the middle were called for me, though...

Flash forward like a million lifetimes, and Mark and I crossed paths in Europe. We were friends, though that probably deserves an asterisk, because Mark wasn't a friends kind of guy. In a lot of ways he was still a middle linebacker type, ferocious on the field and very much to himself off.

We generally didn't work together, but one night he needed to get picked up from somewhere, and I got the job. I'll say it was in Paris under a bridge near the Seine . . . which it wasn't, but it'll give you an idea of the ambiance since it's similar to the actual setting ... and believe me, a hell of a lot more romantic . . .

There were complications, and I showed up an hour late. Mark wasn't there. I hung out a bit, left, came back, left, came back, left . . .

Mark never showed, there or anywhere else.

In the morning, we found blood beneath the bridge. Was it his? I have no idea. I never saw him after that day. I'm not sure anyone has.

Stoner's different - kinder, older, less likely to take your head off. But if he ever asks me to meet him someplace, I'll show up an hour early, well-armed, and prepared to wait.
Dreamland & Evanescence

This was another song from that same CD that set the emotional tone for the characters.

More than the other series I've done, Dreamland has always had an epic feel. The heroes strove to go far beyond themselves, and the individual stories were about things larger than what was going on on the surface.

Whoever you voted for in the election, stand up today and say you're proud to be an American.

Anyone who doubts that this is the greatest country on the earth should sit back and think about what has happened here over the past fifty years. The enormity of what we have accomplished, with dedication and sacrifice, stands as a lie to anyone who would tear it down. What polemic from a psychotic terrorist failure carries one-one hundredth of the strength and truth of our collective narrative?

America is not about being rich. America is about dignity and respect, working hard and enjoying the right to prosper, helping our neighbors do the same. We've had great - and not-so-great - leaders along the way, but the fight has mostly been waged by us, the great unwashed, in small ways everyday.

Obama may turn out to be a lousy president, or maybe a great one. Either way, the republic will survive and, with all of our efforts, thrive.
'My Immortal' & Dreamland

Zen is the hero of Dreamland, but the real engine of the series has been the relationship between him and his wife Bree.

It's a love story, really - about his struggle to stay connected with her while overcoming his physical limitations and surviving the long deployments and other nasty stuff that happens in the book.

There have been times working on the books that I started to lose that thread - the epic sense between them. And of all things a music video by Evanescence helped get me back on track. The song somehow hit the emotional sweep at the heart of the characters.

I don't usually write with music playing - it injects its own agenda into the words, obviously a problem - but I ended up playing the song over and over as I worked on one of the books. I go back to it every so often to remind myself of the character arcs; I can't hear the music or see the video without thinking of them.
Vote early, vote often

Dogboy turned up at the cafe for coffee this morning, looking unusually chipper. Ordinarily if he's up that early, he's on his way to bed. But today he had a full day ahead of him, and was just getting up a head of steam.

Someone asked the Dog if he'd voted.

"I already voted four times," he said, sipping a tall-boy caffeine-plus straight black no sugar.

Dogboy believes in democracy. He's kept his registration open in every place he's ever lived; has to be up to several dozen by now.

"Only four?" asked someone else.

"Would've been six, but the polls at **** hadn't been opened. Seems Lucy had the key, and no one knew where she was."

In New York, the polls open at 6 a.m. Dogboy got there around 6:45. It sounded like a scandal was brewing.

"They had to let you vote somehow," said John, whose grandfather is an election worker. Can't see, can't drive, doesn't drink anything but Bud Lite, but he's still chipper enough to be a guardian of our democracy. "It's the law."

"I know," said Dogboy. "I volunteered to break a window, but they wouldn't go for that. Would probably have doubled next year's town taxes anyway."

Dog took a sip from his cup before continuing. Ordinarily this early he'd be chasing it with Red Bull, but the cafe had sold out during Apple Fest and hadn't gotten its shipment in.

"So they handed out absentee ballots," he continued. "Had people fill them out."

"I thought you said you didn't vote," said John.

"I didn't. I don't trust those absentee things. Too easy to cheat. Don't want to be involved in no voter fraud thing . . ."
The hero in a wheelchair

One of the things that's always interested me about the Dreamland series is the fact that the main character, Zen Stockard, is a paraplegic.

I don't think there are too many other thrillers, let alone military thrillers, where the hero is a guy in a wheelchair. But we've never really gotten much feedback about that. (As a matter of fact, I can recall only one letter, rather cryptic, that addressed it directly. And we get a fair amount of correspondence, mostly electronic.)

Maybe it's because no one really thinks of Zen as being handicapped. True, he doesn't have use of his legs. But he is able to succeed - and struggle - in other ways. He gets cranky just like the rest of us, though over different things, like the two inch rise between the sidewalk and the restaurant that is almost impossible to navigate over.

But hey - a guy who's saved the free world a few times over is entitled . . .
One more robo-call

And I nuke the call center . . .

Make that, every call center.