Not that I would argue with Michael Chabon, but is an outfield really a ribbon of green?

A ribbon?

More like a woman's dress, stretched out to dry. Or a Chinese fan, with the print faded by the long days of unrelenting sun.

Or a battlefield, peaceful now, years after the last soldier fell.
Talking about deadlines

Never ask an editor when a book is due. Case in point, an excerpt from a recent discussion:

Me: Hey Xxxx*, how's it going?
Xxxx: Oh, hi Jim....
Me: Say, when do you want [next installment in best-selling series]?
Xxxx: Oh, yesterday. No, no - last week. Earlier than that would even be better. Want to go club hopping with a mafia assassin in Boston? . . .

Of course, the book's not actually due for months, but if I was bar-hopping with a mafia assassin, I'd want it now myself.

* Semi-famous editor at major house, who may actually be identifiable from the conversation, but we'll protect his identity anyway.
Bombing Iran's bomb

The NY Times had a story in its Week in Review section Sunday about the war games for an Israeli attack on Iran. So I guess it's jumped the shark.

(You can read the story here. My feeling is that an Iranian attack on Saudi Arabia is unlikely, but if it does happen, the U.S. launches an air war at that point, not later. But you've heard that already.)

The real calculation is this: Will five years buy Israel a missile defense system? If the answer is yes - and it is - expect an attack sooner rather than later.
The original . . .

In all its frenetic, jangle-jam, unbalanced, poor audio glory.
A different take . . .

"Those were diff-er-ent times"

By popular demand . . .
Things the copy editor taught me

. . . but I never seem to remember:

Adviser with an e is preferred.

It's cord, not chord.

Hard-ass gets a dash.
Heroes you don't hear about . . .

SEARCY, Ark. (AP) -- Family members say an Arkansas soldier's buddy tried to shield him before both were killed in an attack in Afghanistan.

Sgt. Jonathan J. Richardson, of Bald Knob, was buried Tuesday in North Little Rock after a funeral in Searcy.

Richardson's mother, Sharon Dunigan, says Richardson and Pfc. Jason Kropat from White Lake in Sullivan County were killed March 9 when a suicide bomber disguised as an Afghan police officer detonated a bomb.

Richardson's stepfather, James Dunigan, says other soldiers told the family that when the bomber approached the site, Kropat pushed Richardson out of the way and tried to shield him from the explosion.

The 24-year-old Richardson and Kropat, 25, were assigned to C Company, 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky.

Kropat, who graduated from Monticello High School, was buried Friday in Evergreen Cemetery.

At a private service Brig. Gen. Warren Phipps Jr. presented the family with Kropat's Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and several other commendations for valor.

Another blast from aviation's past . . . though this one's more a footnote...
Reality worse than fiction . . .

We're down to the wire on the next Rogue Warrior, but we've still been folding in things that are happening in real time. Like all the novels, this one is based at least partly on stuff Dick has been doing; we try to walk the line between fiction and reality - and sometimes fiction and prediction, as Dick likes to put it.

But the scary thing this time is that the intel reports keep getting worse and worse.

The new book is set partly in India, and some days I all I can say is I hope the fiction portion remains just that.
The Dragonlady & her lovers . . .

Great story here on an old warrior that is still kicking butt in Afghanistan.

Pilots who fly the U-2 have an incredibly difficult routine before and after boarding the aircraft. And while in general they're too high to worry about groundfire, they face some pretty unique dangers. The aircraft and its mission require incredible dedication, not to mention 12+ hour workdays.

It takes a special kind of religious fervor . . .

. . . to try and convert a guy holding a running chainsaw.

The Jehovah's Witnesses are dedicated around here. You gotta give them that.

So I spent the day making toothpicks out of some of the damage from the last two storms. There's something to be said for the immediate gratification of chopping down trees, even if you are using a chainsaw.

Of course, I now have more wood than I can burn in a year, and still have at least four more to go.

Maybe you can have too much gratification, immediate or otherwise.
LA Woman . . .

. . . a continent or two down the road.

(The group is Poddighe; they're from Brescia, Italy. Check the links via You Tube for more information. It'll help if you can read Italian.)
Ask not . . .

. . . what your insurance company can do to you, but when . . .

Spell checking . . .

Why is it that when I put a dash in wannabes (wanna-bes), my spellchecker suggests cannabis?

Is the worm finally starting to turn on China?

Today's WSJ had this headline:

Business Sours on China Foreign Executives Say Beijing Creates Fresh Barriers; Broadsides, Patent Rules

While over in the NY Times, Paul Krugman lays out a case for a 25 percent tariff on Chinese goods if China doesn't allow its currency to find its actual level. (On his blog, here. The economic terms may scare some people off, but there isn't a clearer description of what China has been doing over the last decade anywhere on the web.)

I don't expect to see a tariff or companies pulling out of China any time soon, but there's at least some hope the country will be looked at more realistically.

You can't get there from here . . .
Speaking of marketing . . .

Well we weren't, but if we were, I'd direct them to this:

Hi, Ellis—

Let me introduce myself. My name is Gineen Klein, and I’ve been brought on as an intern to replace the promotion department here at Propensity Books. First, let me say that I absolutely love “Clancy the Doofus Beagle: A Love Story” and have some excellent ideas for promotion.

To start: Do you blog? If not, get in touch with Kris and Christopher from our online department, although at this point I think only Christopher is left. I’ll be out of the office from tomorrow until Monday, but when I get back I’ll ask him if he spoke to you.

Read more:
What the copy editor taught me

Do I really not know how to spell Fahrenheit?

And whatever possessed me to set something near the Dnieper River?
Clarification . . .

Travel disasters in places acknowledged to be problematic beforehand - read northern Pakistan, et al - don't count.

Unless unsolicited gunfire was involved.
NY moments

So we're in the city to see a play and crossing the street near Penn Station I think and for once I'm not only in the crosswalk but have the light . . . car runs the light and nearly runs me down . . . so being in NY I do the NY thing and pound on his trunk and parlay a few choice words . . . whereupon said car goes lights and sirens . . . for five minutes in the pouring rain a shift supervisor sergeant master of his domain explains what a big favor he did by not jumping the sidewalk to take me down . . . did I mention it was raining hurricane winds? . . . so after the play it's bag the dinner plans and let's grab a cab to the train . . . except the cabbie who stops doesn't feel like going downtown (eight or nine blocks) . . . so after yelling at him that he's breaking the law and getting him to agree "just this one time" he gets better words than the cop and jump out because who's going to give money to a slime like that even in the rain . . . only to reach the NJ transit train and wait for a half-hour while Amtrak untangle signal problems . . . might have said they were under water . . . bail and head back in the rain to the Path . . . arriving at a flooded Hoboken station . . . escaping New Jersey via Journal Square moments before the line shuts down . . . back at Penn where no trains are running until tomorrow maybe . . . find the last closet, er, hotel room in mid-town . . . warm . . . and eat Korean food cooked homestyle . . . if your home was in Dear Leader land . . . then sleep an hour until at 2-3 a.m. (time change) the food provides the extra benefit of toe to scalp hives . . . must've had a bad cockroach in there somewhere . . . morning and the trains are running now but the parking lot's under water . . . luckily I parked on the highest possible ground and it's just barely up to the chassis and with luck it floats its way clear . . . to find all roads out of town blocked . . . until making our way via Pennsylvania to warmth if not safety.

Good thing I found a penny for good luck . . . though doesn't make top ten personal worst travel experiences . . . better times stranded in France and then there was Oklahoma and . . . still a fun time was had by all.

How was your weekend?
It's all in how you ask . . .

So Fred* puts in a request for crime scene photos for the story he's working on, a fairly routine request when you haven't been there yourself, and one that would go unnoticed in most cases, except this case was unique . ..

Not because the case involved a murder - that, unfortunately, is anything but rare, especially if Fred's writing about it. The unique thing here is that he was working for Hustler magazine, and mentioned that in the request.

Next thing you know, he's being denounced in the state legislature, and there are 465 stories about him on Google News. Well, mostly about how terrible Hustler is. But some of them do use his photo, grabbed off his website.

Hey, at least they're spelling his name right.

Here's a link to one of the stories. The thing that kills me though, is that the reporter didn't know why a journalist would request crime scene photos.

I guess the AP uses seances to figure out how the crime occurred and link it to other crimes...

* Fred Rosen - true crime author who wrote the book on the history of crime in America, among other things. a lot of the stories incorrectly say he wanted autopsy photos, which isn't true. Not that he shouldn't get those, to0 . . ..
More and more f'ing trouble . . .

There comes a point in every Rogue Warrior book where a character could turn to Dick and say, "Look at it this way. You've had your SNAFU, your goatfuck and your clusterfuck. What more could you want?"

We're at that point now.
Meanwhile, in the production dept.

While I go through the copyedit, the bookmakers are hard at work . . .
The return of the copy edit

There are certain unspoken rules regarding the arrival and proper treatment of the copy edit.

Rule number 1:

The copy edit will always arrive when either a) the writer has a tremendous amount of other pressing deadlines or b) the writer is out of the country.

Rule number 2:

The amount of time allotted for the writer to review the copy edit will be in direct inverse proportion to the writer's other commitments.

Master these rules, and you too can become a managing editor, terror of publishing houses and small children everywhere . . .
Good-bye, old soldier . . .

About the time I was trying to get those tickets (see the next post), this was happening.

I sat in that section during the "Who's Your Daddy" playoff game - the very last row, literally with the pigeons.

(Shoutout to Ken, who mentioned the photos last night. More photos at the Daily News site here. And if you have to ask what the 'Who's Your Daddy' game was . . . you're younger than I thought.)
But is there a TV screen nearby?

We wanted more Yankees tickets and seats in the right field porch, so yesterday I spent an inordinate amount of time fishing for a plan in the Swish seats, selecting then throwing back, selecting and throwing back - so much so that my account got locked for a while on suspicion of being an illegal scalper.*

In my defense, part of my problem was trying to figure out what aisle access seats were. (As a public service: those are apparently the folding chairs in the wheelchair area. But I'll have to wait for a visit to confirm; nowhere on the web, let alone the Yankees' site, is the actual definition provided.)

In the end, we ended with a modest plan in the main section, in foul territory, too deep to have much hope of snagging home runs. But it will be closer to the beer.

* - Scalper isn't the right term: A special class of ticket brokers have ways of getting through the lockouts to buy up tickets. I don't think the word has been invented yet; Webster is probably working on it right now.
This just in . . .

The headline tonight:

Researchers: Men want sex until almost dead

Shocking. Simply shocking.

(The story, here. Though if you have to read about it . . .)
Unanswered questions

Her: (opening can of anchovies) Hmmmm . . . these taste different.

Him: Are anchovies the kind of thing you want to taste different?
How not to blow something up

No, not mine. And not Dog Boy's either.
Better to be lucky than smart . . .

But if you're neither, you're really screwed:

Police say a man impersonating an FBI agent with a search warrant tried to con his way into a home in the First Ward on Monday -- but he picked the police chief's house.
Middletown and state police say Santiago Contreras, 20, knocked on Chief Ramon Bethencourt's door at 9:18 a.m., said he was with the FBI, flashed ID – actually a resident alien ID card – and held up a sheet of paper he claimed was a search warrant allowing him to search the home.
Bethencourt immediately asked to see the ID again, police said, and Contreras left. Police found him shortly afterward on Irwin Avenue – with plastic gloves and a homemade plastic shank tucked up the sleeve of his jacket.
Contreras was arrested, charged with attempted first-degree robbery and burglary, first-degree criminal impersonation and second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, felonies; and misdemeanor weapon possession. He was held pending arraignment in City Court.
Police said it appears Contreras picked the house at random.


. . . and the Rogue Warrior. . .

A marriage made in hell? Or just New Delhi?

And the cool thing about this - the most advanced (German) warship of the time was defeated because of an obsolete biplane . . . and one crazy pilot.*

* - If you don't know the story - A Swordfish came in toward the Bismark's stern and with a hundred to one shot, disabled its rudder, so it could only steam in a circle. Taking the shot - taking any shot - against that ship called for more balls than brains. A lot more. The aircraft could make maybe 100 knots with a torpedo. Yow.
Here's a shocker. . .


The federal government has awarded more than $107 billion in contract payments, grants and other benefits over the past decade to foreign and multinational American companies while they were doing business in Iran . . .

That includes nearly $15 billion paid to companies that defied American sanctions law by making large investments that helped Iran develop its vast oil and gas reserves.

What was Kruschev's line about selling the rope? . . .

More to the point - how are you going to get sanctions to work when you can't even get (allegedly)* American companies to cooperate?

Full story here.

* - Why allegedly? Clearly they don't consider themselves actual responsible citizens. Then again, what large corporation does?
So this is why I couldn't get a ticket . . .

The bad news continues for Gov. David Paterson -- he was just charged by the state's Commission on Public Integrity with violating the gift ban under the state's ethics laws for getting free tickets to game one of the 2009 World Series.

NY Post story here.
I hope he liked my seat.
Well, I do want one . . .

Question: Why is everyone and their mother* sending me articles and pictures of the "XM25 shoulder fired, semi-automatic 25mm grenade launcher"?

I mean, what do you guys think, I'm a gun nut or something?

(But it's not too early to plan for Christmas...)

* - I've gotten four different emails on the weapon over just the past few days. But not from mom yet.
Can't find my latest book?

Then you must be here . . .

From a reader via Dick (and from there, the world).
George Steinbrenner has an heir apparent

“Those who are responsible for training for the Olympics must take responsibility,” Mr. Medvedev said on Monday. “They must have the courage to submit their resignation,” he said. “And if they do not have this resolve, we will help them.”

Such language from the typically measured Mr. Medvedev underscores the extent of the frustration here with Russian athletics just four years before Russia hosts the next Winter Olympics in the resort town of Sochi.

Russian athletes took home just three gold medals from Vancouver, compared with eight in the last Winter games. Russia came in a disappointing sixth place in the overall medal count with 15, trailing far behind its former Cold War athletic rival, the United States, which led with 37.

For Russians used to seeing their athletes dominate international competitions, the last two weeks have been agonizing. Russian figure skaters fell, Russian bobsledders flipped, and in a final embarrassment, Russia’s much-vaunted hockey team was smacked by Canada 7-3, and left Vancouver without a medal.

“Let’s put up a bunch of guillotines and gallows,” Vyacheslav Bykov, the team’s coach was quoted as saying last week. “We have 35 people on the hockey team. Let’s go to Red Square and dispatch with them all.”

From the NY Times, here.

I was wondering who took the Olympics seriously . . .