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KRAD's Inaccurate Guide to Life
ramblings from a mad fedora'd writer
Tomorrow, Bastei Entertainment will release the third of my three Super City Cops eBook novellas, Secret Identities. This is the latest tale about the police who serve Super City, a great metropolis that is filled with costumed heroes and villains, following the December 2016 release of Avenging Amethyst and last month's Undercover Blues. You can get the book for your Kindle or Nook, or get the eBook from Kobo.

Here's the cover:

Here's the promo copy:
The great metropolis of Super City is the home of dozens of costumed heroes -- the Terrific Trio, the Bruiser, the Superlative Six, the Cowboy, and many more -- who do battle against the super-villains who terrorize the citizenry.

These aren't their stories ...

When the heroes are done punching out the villains, it's left to the stalwart men and women of the Super City Police Department to restrain them, arrest them, and hope that this time there's enough evidence to actually convict them.

Just another day on the job for the Super City Cops.


Lieutenant Therese Zimmerman's life is turned upside down when a badly injured Spectacular Man stumbles into her apartment and reveals himself to be her on-again, off-again boyfriend, philanthropist Marc McLean.

At the same time, Detectives Kristin Milewski and Jorge Alvarado investigate what seems to be a simple murder of four homeless people by a powerful supervillain. Unknown to them, the murders are connected to how Spectacular Man got hurt. Now Zimmerman must choose between the person she cares about and her duty as a cop.

And finally, here's an excerpt. This is one of the scenes I'm proudest to have ever written in any work of my fiction, to be honest.....
Therese Zimmerman quickly got to her knees, put a hand on Marc McLean's shoulder as he lay on the floor, and asked, "Are you okay?"

"Apparently not. I'm definitely improving, but whatever the source is of that kaiju's power, it's a lot stronger than Elysian genetic engineering. I've only taken this long to heal once before."

"And when was that?" Zimmerman helped him back to sitting up on the floor against the bed.

McLean hesitated.

"What is it?"



Nine months ago...

Zimmerman was finally ready to go home after an absurd day that had three triple homicides, a major jewelry heist by a costume crew, and prep for a COMPSTAT meeting where they had to justify their shitty clearance rate to Commissioner Dellamonica.

And then the damn phone rang.

She was within a hairsbreadth of not answering it. Her shift ended an hour ago. The second-shift lieutenant had very generously been using Cordova's desk until Zimmerman went home.

But she was also waiting on calls from three different medical examiners, two different deputy prosecutors, and one reporter. So she answered.

It was, of course, none of those people.

"Therese, it's Beth. Hold for Mr. McLean?"

"Um, sure." Zimmerman tried not to grumble out loud. If McLean was going to break their dinner date tomorrow night, Beth could've just as easily done that via voicemail.

"Hi, sweetness. I have some news."

Zimmerman blinked. McLean sounded excited, which he almost never did. "Okay. Good news, I hope."

"That depends on whether or not you can take next weekend off."

"I thought next weekend was that business trip to Mexico."

"It was cancelled. I've still got two plane tickets—for me and my assistant—and if you want, I can change them to tickets to Florence for you and me."

For a moment, Zimmerman found herself unable to form words. "Uhhh..."

He chuckled. "Is that a yes?"

"I— Holy shit, Marc. Are you saying—"

"I'm saying, we can spend next weekend in Florence. You've been talking the place up for years, and now you can show it to me."

"I—" Zimmerman almost lost her grip on the phone. "God. Um, yeah, of course! I mean, I have to check, but— Fuck it, I'll make it work. Send me the itinerary, I'll work it out here somehow."



"So there was no trip to Mexico?"

"Oh, there was," McLean said, as he sipped his third glass of water, which Zimmerman had just brought back. "But I cancelled it after what happened."

"Which was?"

McLean took a deep breath. "Dr. Magus and I teamed up to fight a Tinder Demon on Colan Island. The demon did something to me—I still don't know what, honestly. But suddenly, my powers were gone. It was even worse than right now. I couldn't fly, I had ordinary strength, my vision and hearing decreased sharply, and I had slowed down considerably. My stamina was wretched, as well."

"Gee," Zimmerman said with a smirk, "and here I thought the sex in Florence was all lethargic because of all the touristy stuff we did."

At that, McLean actually blushed. "I'm sorry about that."

"Don't be. That trip wasn't about the sex, it was about sharing something I loved with you. Florence has been my favorite place to visit since I was a kid, and I loved being there with you." She looked away. "It was the first time I felt like you were really my boyfriend."

"I came so close to telling you so many times. On the Ponte Vecchio, that night at Cesarino, when we were in the Uffizi... But I couldn't do it."

"Why the hell not?"

"Because I didn't know what was happening!"

Zimmerman's breath caught. She'd never heard McLean sound this—this helpless before. It was heartbreaking, and she almost forgot how pissed she was at him.

"I couldn't even go back to Elysia to try to diagnose it, because without my powers, I couldn't get there."

"Why couldn't you get one of your teammates to take you?"

Now McLean looked away again. "They don't know about Elysia. I told you, I'm forbidden from discussing it. My people take their privacy very seriously. There was a time during the Second World War when they feared a Canadian submarine would find the city. There's an emergency plan in place that would have the vessel take off into space if Elysia were ever discovered. Had the sub found them, the plan would've been enacted, and I'd be living in space now instead of here."

"Wow. That's—that's ballsy."

"You are only the second person I've told about Elysia. The other was a couple of years ago, and she—" McLean's voice caught. "I told her because it was her dying wish to know where I came from."

On the one hand, Zimmerman suspected she wanted to hear that story. On the other, it would get them off topic, and she had more important questions.

"So how did you get your powers back?"

"I have no idea. One day—the day after we flew back, in fact—they just came back. I literally woke up Tuesday morning and I was back to my old, Elysian self."

"So you went back to lying. Or, I guess, kept lying."

"I wasn't lying, Therese, I was trying to protect—"

"Oh, bullshit!" Zimmerman got to her feet. "Do not pull that shit on me, Marc! Who, exactly, were you protecting?"

"By the very nature of what I do as Spectacular Man, I make a lot of enemies. I can be much more effective if people don't know where to find me on my 'off hours.'"

"I'd buy that argument if it weren't for the Terrific Trio and the Bruiser and the other heroes who don't keep their names secret. They do just fine. Everyone knows Jesus DeLaHoya is the Bruiser, and everyone knows where he lives. The Terrific Trio's IDs have been public from the beginning. Hell, your teammate, Komodo Dragon, her name's public, too!"

"Perhaps, but—"

"And you know what else? They can actually follow through with us. DeLaHoya's in HQ all the time filling out witness statements and complaints, and he always testifies. When you trash the Brute Squad, we have to rely on property damage and eyewitnesses, and half the time, we can't even hold them on all the charges we should because the people who are in the best position to tell us what they did wear masks and won't testify because they insist on hiding their real names."

"I understand your frustration, Therese, but—"

However, Zimmerman refused to let him get a word in. "No. No no no no no, I have had it with this, Marc. We've had this argument a thousand times before, and you always weasel out of it or have to go off and be a superhero before we can finish it or get around it by getting me into bed. Well, now you're lying helpless in my apartment, and you are goddammit gonna listen to me."

McLean swallowed. "Okay. Can I at least move up to the bed? If you're going to pace back and forth like that, I'd really like to be off the floor."

"Yeah, of course."

"And some more water, please?" McLean asked, as he started to float slowly in the air.

By the time Zimmerman got back with another glass of water, McLean was sitting upright on her bed.

She was actually grateful for the break to get more water, as it gave her time to catch her breath and better phrase her argument. Now it would be more of a presentation than a rant.

Besides, McLean had always had a tendency to dismiss her rants. An argument might work better.

"All right, I want to give you two recent examples that my detectives had to work with."

McLean nodded. "Okay."

"Last year, there was a rash of break-ins in Simon Valley, all very obviously being done by a costume. The doors were all just shattered. At one point, an overnight shift patrol caught the guy in the act, and they got their asses kicked. The costume smashed their unit and put both officers in the hospital. They both medicaled out, by the way—good police, both of them, and this asshole ended their careers."

"I'm sorry about that." As was typical, McLean sounded completely sincere in that apology. Though Zimmerman found that she had to reconsider what she had always considered to be McLean's natural sincerity in light of recent revelations...

"Anyhow, this guy was nasty. Later on, we found out he was part of some kind of government experiment that went sideways. DeLaHoya went after him, worked the neighborhood, tracked down the abandoned building over on 19th Street where he was hiding out, and brought him in."

"Sounds fairly typical," McLean said.

Zimmerman shook her head. "I'm not finished. See, the experiments they did on this guy removed all his hair and made his skin all smooth and hard. He left no trace evidence behind at any of the scenes. No hair, no fingerprints, no skin cells, no DNA, nothing but fibers from his clothes, but those were all generic. We literally had no usable forensics on this guy, so the only way we could prove it was him was from witnesses. And if DeLaHoya hadn't testified, we wouldn't have had enough to even hold him, much less convict him. He's still serving time, too."

"Wouldn't the word of the two officers who were injured be enough?"

"Without evidence? Maybe yes, maybe no—jurors don't always believe cops anymore, especially if there's no physical evidence to go with it. I mean, they did testify, but without DeLaHoya, it wouldn't have been a guaranteed conviction."

"I see."

"No, you don't. Because then we have the Cowboy. A few weeks ago, we had a major undercover operation finally come together. One of our detectives had been working to get hired by Apollo."

McLean frowned. "I recall reading about Apollo in the Six's records. I believe that the Bengal faced him once, but the outcome was inconclusive."

"So have all of SCPD's attempts to nail him. Hence, the UC op. We had a detective, Elias Vondelikos, one of our best UCs, go in and work his cover ID until Apollo starts hiring for a job. Vondelikos gets hired, they're all set to hit Robinson Airfield. We're able to alert DeLaHoya and the Terrific Trio and your team—because at least you guys maintain a public information office—and we try to keep the costumes away so the bust can go down."

"I'm guessing by how you began this story that the Cowboy didn't stay away?"

Zimmerman threw up her hands. "We don't know who he is! Nobody knows a damn thing about him, and because of that, not only couldn't we warn him, but we can't arrest his lasso-throwing ass for obstruction, assault, interference in a police investigation, and all kinds of other things."

"What did he do?"

"He attacked Apollo and his gang—including my detective—before they could break into Robinson."

"So he stopped the crime before it could be committed. That's a noble goal, isn't it?"

"Not when we need to catch the bad guy in the commission of a crime!" Zimmerman was screaming now. So much for a presentation over a rant. "The whole point of the UC op, the whole point of spending six months getting Vondelikos in there, was to actually be able to catch Apollo in a crime. And the Cowboy fucked it up! He put all the henchmen, including my detective, in the hospital, and Apollo's lawyer claimed he had no knowledge of the half a dozen guys with AR-15s on 104th Street, he just happened to be nearby."

"You didn't believe that, did you?" McLean asked incredulously.

"Well, gee, it would've been nice to have some evidence to support that, but all we had was the Cowboy. Who didn't stick around to help with the paperwork."

"I see what you're trying to say, Therese," Marc started.

"Oh, I'm not done. See, because of the Cowboy's up-fuckery, Vondelikos had to go back in, try to convince Apollo to hire him for the next job. Except Apollo may be crazy, but he's not stupid. He saw all the cops who crawled all over him after Cowboy attacked, figured it was a setup, and figured that my detective—who was the only one who went back to him looking for more work instead of laying low—was the rat. He's dead now. Apollo killed him. We were able to arrest Apollo, at least, and he's waiting for his trial. But I doubt Cowboy will testify, and Vondelikos can't, either."

McLean shook his head. "I'm truly sorry, Therese. That's horrible."

"Vondelikos was damn good police, and he didn't deserve to die so Cowboy could show off. I don't care how many parades or keys to the city Cowboy gets, the next time he shows his face in public, he's getting arrested as an accessory to murder."

"I can understand why you'd feel that way." As he spoke, McLean crossed his legs.

"Hey, your legs are moving! Looks like your Elysian tricks are starting to work."

"They're not tricks." McLean sounded almost petulant. "This is science, not magic."

"Science that your buddies keep to themselves," Zimmerman said with disgust.

"I'm right there with you, Therese, believe me. I think it's appalling that the others are willing to just let the world go on without their gifts. Being Spectacular Man—and being Marc McLean—are my ways of doing so. It's the best I can do."

"See, now, that's what I don't get. Why are they separate?"

"What do you mean?"

"What do you gain by keeping Spectacular Man and Marc McLean distinct?"

"Well, the Foundation is a private corporation that attempts to do good works for the city. It's Marc McLean's business, not really that of a superhero."

Rolling her eyes, Zimmerman said, "Oh, come off it. Spectacular Man is the most popular hero on the planet. If you had been up-front about being Marc McLean all along, then Spec Man could be the face of the McLean Foundation. You'd do a helluva lot more good that way."

"Perhaps." McLean didn't sound convinced.

Zimmerman sat down on the edge of the bed near his feet. "Besides which, both Spec Man and Marc McLean have strong reps. Combined, they'd feed off each other. Not only that, but then you could actually fill out witness statements, make reports, testify in court. Then maybe half the supervillain-types wouldn't get out early on nothing charges. Maybe we'd be able to put them away longer like we did that big guy from Simon Valley."

"Maybe." He looked right at her. "But how can I do that now?"

She frowned. "What do you mean?"

"I mean, it's too late. If I 'come out' now as Spectacular Man, you've just provided a very apt demonstration of what will happen. Outrage. Venomous pronouncements. Accusations of wrongdoing. And a great deal of yelling. Forgive me if I fail to see that as a positive."

"So you just want to perpetuate the lie?"

"It isn't a lie, exactly."

"Oh, it's totally a lie." Zimmerman got up from the bed and started pacing again. "You know why Richard Nixon resigned from the presidency? It wasn't because of what happened at the Watergate Hotel. It was because he covered up what happened at the Watergate Hotel. It wasn't the original malfeasance, it was the extension of the lie that got him in trouble." She stopped pacing and stared down at him. "Marc, you don't stop a falsehood with more falsehood."


"Not maybe. This is real life here, Marc. By hiding behind that mask, by not telling anyone who you are, you're perpetuating a lie. Hell, you may even be guilty of fraud. Does anybody know you're really McLean?"

"The founding members of the Six do. We all shared each other's identities when we formed the group."

"But you didn't even tell them about Elysia."

"No. And, of course, three of the other five founders are dead now."

"And no one else?"

He smiled wryly. "Not until today."

"Last night, technically, but yeah." She shook her head. "You realize what this means, right?"

McLean frowned. "I'm not sure."

"It means that everyone Marc McLean knows, loves, is friends with, cares about—you lie to them every single day. And except for—what, Mercury and the Bengal?—that's true of everyone Spectacular Man knows, loves, is friends with, and cares about, too. You call yourself a hero, yet your entire life—really, two entire lives—involve you repeatedly and constantly lying to those closest to you. Every day, you have to deceive the people you love most. What's so damn heroic about that?"

"Perhaps not much." McLean was staring at a point on the far wall, seemingly lost in thought. Then he looked up at Zimmerman. "But you just put your finger on it. Spectacular Man is a hero, an idol, a symbol. That's—that's very exhausting. When I take the mask off, I can just be Marc McLean, a person who goes to meetings and makes phone calls and signs requisitions and does normal things. I grew up in a utopia, Therese, and then I became a superhero. Being Marc is the only time I get to be normal."

Zimmerman couldn't help herself. She burst out laughing.

Frostily, McLean asked, "Did I say something funny?"

"Marc, you're a goddamn billionaire who runs a major corporation and several charities. Trust me, nothing about your non-costumed life is even remotely 'normal.'"

McLean had nothing to say to that.

And Zimmerman found that she had nothing to say, either. Instead, she collapsed on the bed at McLean's feet. "Goddamn."

"You've been wanting to say a lot of that stuff for a long time, haven't you?" McLean asked quietly.

"Looks like, yeah." She sighed. "I'm getting hungry. When was the last time you ate?"

"I honestly couldn't tell you—and I'm a little peckish, too, actually. Perhaps we can order from that diner down the street?"

Zimmerman couldn't help but smile at that suggestion. The first time they'd had sex was in this apartment, on this bed, and the following morning, they'd ordered breakfast from Buscema's Diner.

Grabbing her Zap, she immediately called up the app that allowed her to order directly from the diner and have it delivered. "Let me guess—steak and eggs, the steak medium rare and the eggs sunny-side up?"

McLean gazed at her with tired, but loving eyes. "You remembered."

"Yeah." With a wistful sigh, she started entering the order, while wondering what, exactly, she was going to do with her ex-boyfriend now.

Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful
Current Music: "We'll Be Together" by Sting

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So that was a helluva football game...............

I honestly thought the Falcons had it in the bag. Then they couldn't score the field goal when it was 28-20, and from that point forward, they were stuck in the mud while the Patriots finally remembered why they were favored to win this thing.

If you follow me on Twitter -- @KRADeC -- then you saw my live-tweeting of the game and its attendant fanfare, pomp, circumstances, and, of course, commercials. The game capped off a lovely weekend with dear friends that included yummy food, port tasting, a Texas Hold 'Em tournament, and finally the game. The food included handmade pasta from Borgatti's in Little Italy, my tomato sauce, Lisa's cheese sauce, salad, and then a bunch of cool things for dessert, including assorted cheeses, Wrenn's blueberry cobbler, Kara's chocolate cake, and also a peach pie, babkas, and cheesecake. Oh, and Wrenn's whipped cream. In addition, Brandy made chili for feetsball.

The week ahead is filled with writing, rewatches, karate, and such. I'm hoping to get my Baker Street Irregulars Volume 2 story done in the next day or two, and then dive into both editing Volume 3 of the Star Trek: Prometheus trilogy and writing A Furnace Sealed.

Current Mood: tired tired
Current Music: "Mean Streak" by Steven Rosenhaus

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The good news is that it's Eartha Kitt's debut as Catwoman. The bad news is that it's still a third-season episode, and therefore pretty dire. The Bat-rewatch sees that "Catwoman's Dressed to Kill."

An excerpt:
Let’s get this out of the way—Julie Newmar is, has, and always will be perfection in the role of Catwoman. There is no denying her place atop the pantheon of women who have played the role over the years. She was, in fact, the first to do so, and remains in many ways the Platonic ideal.

But that doesn’t mean that others can’t also put their stamp on the part, and what I like about Eartha Kitt’s portrayal is that she totally makes it her own. Lee Meriwether was pretty much doing Newmar’s shtick only less slinky (she was actually much more interesting as “Miss Kitka” than she was as Catwoman), but Kitt does her own thing. Where Newmar is a sleek tabby who pretends to be affectionate right before she claws you, Kitt is a feral cat who claws at you right away.

Current Mood: nerdy nerdy
Current Music: "Grocery Blues" by Arlo Guthrie

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At this point, we're pretty well settled into the new home, but one thing I haven't done in the new place yet is make my tomato sauce! That is being rectified today, as I have been requested to make a batch for a dinner party tomorrow night, so it's now simmering in the kitchen, making the place smell yummy.

This time of year, I use Cento canned tomatoes because actual tomatoes are out of season. I used to make sauce from scratch at this time of year, but it always came out orange. This way is better, at least until tomato season rolls around......

Current Mood: happy happy
Current Music: "Here I Am (Come and Take Me)" by Al Green

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Still my favorite remake of a song, this thirty-year-old duet between Aerosmith and Run-DMC remains one of the best mashups of hard rock and rap ever done. I love the way it starts as a "rivalry" between the two styles, and ends with Steve, Run, and Daryl dancing together gleefully at the end. Just great stuff.

Current Mood: happy happy
Current Music: "Rag Doll" by Aerosmith

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My writing schedule in one simple blog post!

Super City Cops. My three new Super City novellas are all done, and two are out (Avenging Amethyst and Undercover Blues), with the other due out one week from today (Secret Identities).

"Precinct" stories. Mermaid Precinct is on the schedule to be written this year. No, really! Honest! And I intend to finally write "Baker's Dozen," the Kickstarted story from a thousand millennia ago. Oh, and the "Precinct" story "House Arrest" is being reprinted in The Best of Bad-Ass Faeries, coming later this year from eSpec Books.

Bram Gold. The first book in the urban fantasy novels starring this nice Jewish boy from the Bronx who hunts monsters is A Furnace Sealed, and that's actually the next novel in my writing schedule. Should be starting back into it (five chapters are already written) this weekend. And the contract calls for two more books.

Cassie Zukav. I have plenty of other Cassie stories to tell, but right now the only one in the pipeline is "Behind the Wheel," which is supposed to be in TV Gods: Summer Programming (I say "supposed to be," because I haven't actually gotten a contract yet....). Nothing else specifically planned, but that will, I'm sure, change as opportunities present themselves.

Tie-in projects. I've got three tie-in projects with a publisher, one a book that's 99% done, one a book that I have to work on once I'm done with A Furnace Sealed, and one small one that's done and awaiting approval. The first should be out in the summer, the second in 2018, and the third in the fall of this year.

Shirley Holmes & Jack Watson. My first story involving these two folks, a modern NYC-based update of the Sherlock Holmes stories, is called "Identity" and will be in Baker Street Irregulars, out this March (and has already been singled out for praise by Kirkus!). Volume 2 of BSI will have my second Shirley-and-Jack story, "Six Statues," which is what I'm working on this week.

Star Trek: Prometheus. I'm editing the translation of this German-language Star Trek trilogy, as the translation is awkward and needs touching up. I've done Books 1 and 2 and Book 3 is on the docket for February.

KRADitorial. Beyond Prometheus, there's no editorial work on the horizon, so this is a reminder that KRADitorial is open for business and we're available to edit your manuscripts, long or short. Contact me at krad at whysper dot net for rates and schedules and things.

Current Mood: busy busy
Current Music: "This Land is Your Land" by Arlo Guthrie

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I will again be an author and musical guest at Farpoint in Timonium, Maryland (just north of Baltimore). Here's my planned schedule:

5-6pm: autographing (Atrium)
8.25ish-9.30ishpm: "Prometheus Radio Theatre," w/bunches of other people doing a radio drama (Greenspring)
10pm-midnight: Farpoint Book Fair, w/all the authors (Dulaney)

11am-noon: Boogie Knights concert (Greenspring)
2-3pm: practical self-defense workshop (Atrium Front)
3-4pm: reading, w/Heather E. Hutsell and Stephen Kozenewski (Chesapeake 3-6)
4-5pm: autographing (Atrium)
6-7pm: "Star Trek Beyond...and Ahead," w/Colin Caccamise, Bram Crocker, and Brian Massey (Chesapeake 2)
7-8pm: "Genre Blending: Science Fiction, Fantasy, and More," w/Mike D'Ambrosio, Chris Kennedy, and Phil Margolies (Chesapeake 1)
some time after 8pm but probably before midnight: Boogie Knights concert at masquerade halftime (Greenspring)

11am-noon: "Fight Scene Planning" (Atrium Front)
1-2pm: "Sci-Fi Fights," w/Robert Greenberger and Tim Van Blarcom (Dulaney Valley 2)
2-3pm: "Them's Fightin' Words: Writing Combat in Science Fiction," w/Mike D'Ambrosio and Chris Kennedy (Chesapeake 1)

Looking forward to seeing folks there!

Current Mood: geeky geeky
Current Music: "Coming Into Los Angeles" by Arlo Guthrie

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So I have arthritis in my knees.

My knees have pretty much been in constant pain -- or at least constant ache -- since I became a grownup. They were at their worst at age 35, and then I started doing martial arts and then they got better (big shock!). However, the pain's gotten worse, especially with all the stairs I had to take during the move, plus we now live in a duplex.

So I had X-rays done and, yeah, arthritis. First step is to see if physical therapy does the trick -- which is good, as I was worried that there would be surgery -- and go back to the very nice orthopedist in April........

Current Mood: thankful thankful
Current Music: "Days are Short" by Arlo Guthrie

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It's another sequel, as the Enterprise revisits the planet from "Shore Leave," with equally mixed results as the last time. The TOS Rewatch goes "Once Upon a Planet."

An excerpt:
If I hadn’t known that Menville and Janson were animation writing veterans, I would have pegged them for newbies who didn’t know their way around a half-hour animated action-adventure show, because so many parts of this episode drag needlessly, from the too-long establishing shot of the planet before Sulu, McCoy, and Uhura beam down to the even-more-too-long sequences with the Enterprise malfunctions. (It doesn’t help that the episode grinds to a halt every time M’Ress speaks, since Majel Barrett has her talk so slowly that she sounds like she’s doped up on Quaaludes, plus every line of dialogue must be followed by a purr.)

Current Mood: nerdy nerdy
Current Music: "Sunshine of Your Love" by Eric Clapton

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Was up until 4am reading over the thriller and then I sent it off to my collaborator, as well as two other people involved with the project (the guy who bought the film rights and another author who is the one who brought me into the project). Once they give their feedback, it goes off to La Agent and we try to sell it. Wheeeeeeeeeeee!

Today is recovery, and also starting on my next story (more about that in the irons in the fire update I'll post later today), some housekeeping stuff, and also recording Volume 2 Episode 2 of Dead Kitchen Radio.

Also: it's snowing! Handily, all our errands are run, we've got food in the house, so we don't really have to go anywhere. Although we do have a chicken carcass that I intend to turn into soup today.......

Current Mood: tired tired
Current Music: "Going Down Slow" by Eric Clapton

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Where I spent my weekend

The original intent this weekend was to go out to Philadelphia for Hugh-Con, which was a supportive thingie for Hugh Casey. Hugh is a great guy, and a big person in east-coast fandom, and also the person who introduced me and Wrenn to each other in 2009. So we really wanted to go out for it. It would also give us a chance to see Wrenn's father and our friend Zan.

Two things killed that notion: I had deadlines coming out my ears, and Wrenn had emergency oral surgery on Friday. We might have been able to work around one of those, but not both. Wrenn was in no shape to travel, and I just had too much crap to do.

I'm pleased to say that I actually did the crap! I had to finish up the collaborative thriller, which I did, and also do some work on the project I can't talk about. The former I still need to read over, but I'm doing that today, while the latter is almost done, but the last two things I need to do for it I can't do until the licensor provides a piece of information I need, which we're still waiting on.

On top of that, I wound up having to do something else. The same guy I'm collaborating on the thriller with also drafted a short story that he needed me to work on.

Okay, some background -- my collaborator on the thriller and this short story is a plastic surgeon in southern California who has some excellent ideas, but isn't as comfortable with actual line-by-line prose. The thriller is based on a movie treatment that he's sold -- he wanted there to be a novel based on the story as well, and he hired me to write the novel based on the same treatment. It's been an interesting experience, and my collaborator is great fun to work with.

He also was invited to send a story to an apocalyptic anthology, and the draft he wrote was fascinating, but it needed a bit of work. The plan was for me to rewrite it between now and March, and then he called me yesterday afternoon saying that the story was due today. Oops.

So after finishing off my work on the secret project, I dove into the short story. Luckily, the framework was already in place, and 2600 words later, I had a short story. Go me!

Somewhere in there I also taught a kids fighting class -- we had seventeen kids Friday night! -- helped teach the Saturday afternoon kids color belt class, and took the adult class right after it, and also made notes for Volume 2 Episode 2 of Dead Kitchen Radio.

Meanwhile, Wrenn is recovering nicely. Thursday night was something of a nightmare, as she was in agony, and then Friday morning, our primary dentist (who will not be our primary dentist for much longer) didn't answer their phone until 11.30. No voicemail, no answering service, just ringing until someone showed up at the office. And then it turns out that on Fridays there's only a dentist there every other week, and this was the wrong week. Argh.

In another victory for the Affordable Care Act, we were able to find an oral surgeon on Wrenn's insurance who took her right away and pulled the tooth.

While she did that, I was having my knees X-rayed. My knees have, frankly, sucked for pretty much my entire adult life. In my mid-30s, it got to the point where they were in so much pain I was on prescription Celebrex for them, but then I started doing karate, and the pain subsided. Lately, though, they've been getting bad again, so this morning, I'm off to see an orthopedist who will discuss options with me after looking at the dirty pictures they took of my knees on Friday.

Meanwhile, I have to finish reading over the thriller today and get it off to my collaborator (as well as the movie producer, who's been getting chapters as I write them as well), and then write my next Shirley-and-Jack story for Baker Street Irregulars Volume 2 (Volume 1 has my first Shirley-and-Jack story, a modern-day reworking of Sherlock Holmes in New York City, which will be out in March). I also have to record the next Dead Kitchen Radio episode that I made notes for this weekend (it'll be about Without a License).

After that, I dive back into A Furnace Sealed, the urban fantasy about the nice Jewish boy from the Bronx who hunts monsters, and I don't come up until it's done.


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Current Music: "A Song for Jeffrey" by Jethro Tull

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The Kickstarter for The Best of Bad-Ass Faeries has already funded, but there's lots of stretch goals, plus if you back it, you're guaranteed to get what you're pledging for! Such a deal!

If you want a preview of what cool stuff there is in the anthology, the fine folks at E-Spec Books have put up an excerpt from my story in the anthology, "House Arrest," a Dragon Precinct story that focuses on Torin ban Wyvald, as he interrogates one of the titular faeries. Check it out!

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Current Music: "The Witch's Promise" by Jethro Tull

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Arlo Guthrie has said in concerts about his father Woody Guthrie's songs that on the one hand, it's amazing that decades later, his songs still resonate and are important, so long after he wrote them and after Woody died. On the other hand, it's really too bad that the world still sucks.

Here's his father's best-known song, one we need to remember. Especially the last three verses:

This Land Is Your Land
Woody Guthrie

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York island,
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters,
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway;
I saw below me that golden valley;
This land was made for you and me.

I've roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
And all around me a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving, and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting, a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said "No Trespassing."
But on the other side it didn't say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple, I saw my people.
By the relief office I seen my people.
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking,
Is this land really made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway.
Nobody living can ever make me turn back.
This land was made for you and me.

Thanks to wrenn, who posted this on Facebook.

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Current Music: "This Land is Your Land" by Arlo Guthrie

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Batman, Robin, & Batgirl go to Londinium to show that British cops are just as useless as Gotham City ones! The Bat-rewatch suffers through Rudy Vallee and wastes the talents of Glynis Johns in "The Londinium Larcenies"/"The Foggiest Notion"/"The Bloody Tower."

An excerpt:
So much doesn’t make sense here. Why does Ffogg use his pipe to cause fog after they’ve broken in to cover their escape? Besides the fact that there aren’t any witnesses in general, wouldn’t it make more sense to cover their breaking and entering as well as their escape? Why does Prudence play both sides? That never pays off. Neither does Ffogg’s fake gout, which barely survives the first part, and is hardly mentioned after that (though it makes for a dandy alibi, at least until he stupidly abandons it). How is stealing a bunch of clothes bound for export going to give Ffogg and Peasoup control of London’s fashion industry? (Probably the same way winning a surfing contest would lead to Joker ruling the world…) We won’t even go into the Indian rope trick...

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Current Music: "Setting Me Up" by Dire Straits

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Two years ago, Cross Cult released the cover image for their German translation of my Star Trek novella starring the Starfleet Corps of Engineers, entitled Here There Be Monsters. Here it is:

Thanks to this, I am forevermore the author of Achtung, Monster!

Which makes me happy.

Anyhow, the English version opens with a scene between Duffy and Stevens (with a brief bit o' Gomez) that is one of my favorite scenes I've ever written, and in the interests of -- oh, I dunno, because I feel like it, I present that scene here on the ol' blog. The scene is copyright 2001, 2003, 2017 CBS, all rights reserved.


"I can't find anything wrong with this thing, Duff," Fabian Stevens said from under twelve tons of machinery.

"There's got to be something wrong," Lt. Commander Kieran Duffy said as he peered at his tricorder. "I mean, it's not working."

"I know that, but everything here is checking out."

"Except for the whole not-working thing," Kieran added dolefully.

Fabian climbed out from the hatchway that gave him access to many of the critical systems in the Tellarite generator. "Yeah, except for that." He wiped the sweat off his brow. "I dunno—we've been running around like crazy people for days, and we spent most of the last day repairing this monstrosity. I don't think I'd know a fried EPS conduit if I saw it at this point."

Kieran smiled. "What, you don't like dashing around half the galaxy mapping gateways and fixing blown-out power systems?"

"Over the course of a month, sure. Over four days? Not so much. The captain wasn't kidding when he said this was gonna be a doozy."

Holding up his tricorder, Kieran said, "Well, in any case, these things don't get exhausted, and it says that everything appears to be functioning normally, too."

"Gomez to Duffy."

Grinning, Kieran tapped his combadge. "Duffy here. You're back, Sonnie?"

"We'll be flying the Archimedes into orbit of Tellar within five minutes."

"So the comm relay's all fixed?"

"Yup. Pattie did most of the work by crawling around the thing's outer hull and replacing the burned-out relays. What I'm wondering is where the da Vinci is."

Kieran chuckled. "Was wondering when you were gonna ask. They found a derelict ship that apparently fell through the same gateway that blew out the comm relay you were fixing. The captain's towing it to Starbase 12. They should be back—" he checked his chronometer "—actually, any minute now. Didn't realize how late it had gotten."

"How are you and Fabian coming with the generator?"

"It's, ah, it's coming."

"Still haven't figured out what's wrong yet, have you?" Kieran could hear her smile.

"You know me too damn well, you know that?" he said with mock indignation.

"Do you want a hand, or would you two rather prove your manhood by fixing it yourselves without any help from us?"

"Oho, a challenge. Fine, we'll have it fixed before the da Vinci gets back."


Kieran could hear the dubious note in Sonya's voice. So, apparently, could Fabian, given the guffaw he was trying to suppress.

"Do you doubt me, madame?"

"No, just wondering if you're willing to put your money where your foot is."

"Tell you what, when we have that overhaul at Starbase 96 next month, the winner picks where we have dinner."

"You're on, 'Duff.' We'll be in orbit if you need us. Gomez out."

Fabian frowned. "She called you 'Duff.' I thought that was my nickname for you."

"You take it up with her."

Holding up his hands, Fabian said, "No thanks. I don't mess around with officers."

It was Kieran's turn to frown. "Fabe, I'm an officer."

Fabian snapped his fingers. "Dang. Keep forgetting that." He removed one of the panels from the generator. "I gotta say, I was really worried there for a while. Gateways opening up all over the galaxy, fights breaking out, planets in danger—it was a major mess."

"I wasn't worried."

Shooting Kieran a look, Fabian said, "You weren't?"

"Nope," Kieran said as he opened up another panel. "They put Picard in charge."

"Yeah, so?"

"Soon's I heard that, I knew everything would be fine."

"You're kidding." Fabian was looking at Kieran like he had two heads. "How?"

Kieran opened his mouth, closed it, opened it again, and closed it again. Finally, he said, "You've never served with Picard, have you?"


"Then you won't get it. He's just got this ineffable—Picard-ity. When he's in charge, you just know that he's gonna find a solution to the problem."

"Uh, okay."

"Might I add that he did find a solution to the problem?"

"True," Fabian said as he peered more closely at the circuitry he had exposed. "Is that—? Oh, no, that's fine. Damn." He closed the panel then opened another one. "Of course, he wasn't alone. As I recall, certain former crewmates of mine on Deep Space 9 did a nice job disrupting the gateways."

"For all of ten minutes."

"Yeah, but from what I hear, that was a pretty useful ten minutes. Helped expose those fake Iconians for the frauds they were. And it was engineered by one Lieutenant Nog. You remember Nog, right, Duff? The 'kid' you were so condescending to on Empok Nor? The one whose plan you wouldn't even listen to? The one who made us all look like idiots?"

"Yes," Kieran said in a tight voice, "I remember. It should be pointed out that I did apologize and offer him a spot on the team."

"Actually, it was Captain Gold who offered him the spot on the team, and would you take it if you were treated the way you treated him?"

Kieran sighed. "Is there any way I can win in this conversation?"

Fabian looked like he was pretending to consider it. "No, not really," he said.

"Just checking."

"All kidding aside, though, I'm especially glad we didn't find ourselves in the middle of any major wars. I mean, bad enough that the gateway that connected this place to Andor led to that little bit of thievery…"

"What little bit of thievery?"

Fabian turned to look at Kieran. "Duff, we've been on Tellar for a day. All anyone's been talking about are the Andorians who came in and stole the colAndor Scrolls."

Kieran shrugged. "It's best to just tune out Tellarites complaining about Andorians. You'll live longer."

"Good point."

"I was more worried about that nonsense between the Carreon and the Deltans. Not to mention the Markanians and the Aeron."


"Couple of former members of the Thallonian Empire."

"Oh, okay. I don't follow all that post-collapse Thallonian stuff. I tried, but it just got too complicated. I lost track, is Captain Calhoun still dead?"

"As of this week, he's alive," Kieran said with a grin.

"Okay, just checki—" Fabian cut himself off.

"What is it, Fabe?"

"You're not gonna believe this."

"Believe what?"

"I mean, you're really not gonna believe this."

"I certainly won't if you don't tell me what it is."

"This is really unbelievable."

"So I've been led to understand."

"You know how the gateway on Tellar started draining power from this generator?"

"Considering we just spent most of the last twenty-four hours fixing the damage done by the power surge, yes, I do know. Get to the point, Fabe."

"Well, when that surge hit, it knocked an isolinear rod out of whack. Not much, only about a millimeter or so."

"So that's why this thing won't work?"


"This entire piece of twelve-ton machinery is dead because an isolinear rod is a millimeter out of alignment?"


Kieran hesitated. "This is the part where I say, 'I don't believe it,' right?"

"It would bring the joke full circle, yes."

Sighing, Kieran put his head in his hands. I suppose I walked right into that one. Then he looked at Fabian, who was simply standing there. "Uh, Fabe?"


"All we need to do to fix this is put that rod back into place, right?"

"That's right."

"So, uh—why haven't you?"

"I was waiting for your order. After all, you are an officer, second in command of the S.C.E. team, third in command of the da Vinci, and all-around important person. I am but a humble engineer, a mere cog in the mighty wheel of Starfleet. I would never presume to circumvent the chain of command by proceeding without an order from you."

Okay, it's official, Kieran thought, we need shore leave, and soon. That damned overhaul at 96 can't come soon enough. "Mr. Stevens," he said in a mock-formal voice.

"Yes, Lieutenant Commander Duffy, sir?" Fabian said in a like tone.

"Would you be so kind as to put the isolinear rod back in place?"

"Yes sir, right away, sir!" Fabian saluted sloppily, then reached into the generator.

Two seconds later, the large piece of Tellarite machinery hummed to life.

"Congratulations, Mr. Duffy," Fabian said, "it's a generator."

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Current Music: "Thick as a Brick" side 2 by Jethro Tull

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The Superhero Novels blog -- which has already reviewed Marvel's Thor: Dueling with Giants, and also reviewed Super City Police Department: The Case of the Claw back in 2011 -- has now reviewed the second book of the "Tales of Asgard" trilogy, Marvel's Sif: Even Dragons Have Their Endings!

Money quote:
Without a doubt, Sif is on the list of our all-time favorite female characters in the Marvel Universe – right up there with Clea, Medusa, and Valentina Allegra de Fontaine. To be honest, the existence of this Sif novel absolutely blows our mind. Never in a million years did we expect to see such a thing on our shelf. It makes us feel like the universe has shifted slightly to acknowledge our measly presence.

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I have mostly not been posting political stuff, mainly because it engenders lengthy tirades from other people, and I'm on deadline and don't have time to sink down an Internet rabbit hole to get into arguments about this stuff -- besides, it's not like these arguments are going to be slowing down as long as we have our current president in office -- but I do want to point out the fallacy I've been seeing since the international collective of women's marches that happened Saturday, specifically asking what's the point of these marches, that marches and protests are useless, and they marched and President Trump is still in office, so why even bother?

Everyone who says that is woefully ignorant of history.

It's because of marches and protests that women got the right to vote in 1920. (Yes, women have only been able to vote for less than a century...)

It's because of marches and protests that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 got passed.

It's because of marches and protests that LGBT folk have more rights now than they used to.

It's because of marches and protests that we have child labor laws.

It's because of marches and protests that weekends are not considered work days.

It's because of marches and protests that apartheid is no longer the rule of law in South Africa.

Of course, it's a process. One march doesn't change anything. The March on Washington in 1963 was just one such action, one of many. It's a continuum of action, it's a continuum of protesting and demanding that our government actually be for the people.

And many of these marches and protests were for things that people didn't have. It's going to be that much more intense when it's for rights that have been granted that folks in government are trying to take away.

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Current Music: "Big Love" by Fleetwood Mac

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The fine folks at Kirkus Reviews have published a review of Baker Street Irregulars, the alternative Sherlock Holmes anthology edited by Michael A. Ventrella & Jonathan Maberry, which has a story in it by me!

Best of all is that the reviewer singled my story out as one of the best ones! Money quote:
In the three most successful stories, Beth W. Patterson makes Holmes an unusually reflective parrot, David Gerrold festoons his cyber-Holmes and -Watson with some hilarious acronyms, and Keith R.A. DeCandido scores with a surprisingly faithful update of one of Conan Doyle’s most treasured tales.

*happy dance*

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Current Music: "Under Wraps" by Jethro Tull

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Nifty new project from eSpec Books on Kickstarter: The Best of Bad-Ass Faeries, edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail, which will include a reprint of my story in the first BAF anthology, "House Arrest," a Dragon Precinct story. My other BAF story, the Cassie Zukav tale "Undine the Boardwalk," is one of the stretch goals.

There are also stories by a bunch of other cool folks:
    From Bad-Ass Faeries:
    Koscienski & Chris Pisano: "The Ballad of the Seven-Up Sprite"
    Keith R.A. DeCandido: "House Arrest"
    Adam P. Knave: "Futuristic Cybernetic Faerie Assassin Hassballah"
    Jesse Harris: "Hidden in the Folds"

    From Just Plain Bad:
    James Chambers: "Way of the Bone"
    C.J. Henderson: "Do You Believe?"
    Danielle Ackley-McPhail: "Within the Guardian Bell"
    John Passarella: "Twilight Crossing"
    Jeffrey Lyman: "Grimm Necessity"
    Bernie Mojzes: "Moonshine"

    From In All Their Glory:
    L. Jagi Lamplighter: "A Not-So-Silent Night"
    John L. French: "So Many Deaths"
    James Daniel Ross: "The Natural-Born Spy"
    Robert E. Waters: "At The Grasshopper's Hill"
    Kelly A. Harmon: "Selkskin Deep"

    From It's Elemental:
    D.L. Thurston: "The Face of the Serpent"
    Patrick Thomas: "Looking a Gift Horse"
    Jody Lynn Nye: "Fifteen Percent"
    Lee C. Hillman: "Bad Blood"
    N.R. Brown: "Melia's Best Wave"

So go! Back it!

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Everybody's gone surfin', surfin' Gotham City...... The Bat-rewatch catches a wave with "Surf's Up! Joker's Under!"

An excerpt:
It’s pretty much the same dumb plot we’ve already gotten in “Ring Around the Riddler,” “The Sport of Penguins” / “A Horse of a Different Color,” and “Louie, the Lilac.” Like Riddler and Penguin, Joker is taking on a sport to master in order to, like Louie, win over the youth of Gotham as a stepping stone to greater power. It’s less clear how, exactly, winning a surfing championship will lead to Joker’s plans for world domination (at least Riddler and Penguin had some cash attached to winning, and Louie actually actively tried to recruit the flower children), but then this is a guy who invents time machines and devices that can transfer someone’s surfing skills and athletic ability, yet hasn’t become incredibly rich selling these things to the highest bidder. Go fig’.

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Current Music: "Locomotive Breath" by Ian Anderson w/orchestra

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Larry Smith died today. For those of you who didn't know him, he and his wife Sally Kobee have been selling books at conventions for ages and ages. They didn't have an actual store, they just set up at cons all the time. He was a good dealer, a good book pusher, and I was always tickled that he loved the "Precinct" series and kept bugging me to write more original stuff.

We just saw him at Arisia, but I didn't get a chance to talk to him. My heart goes out to Sally and to everyone (including me) who bought books from him at conventions over the decades. We've lost a good one.

Rest in peace, you crotchety old bastard. We'll miss you.

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Current Music: "Pavane" by Ian Anderson w/orchestra

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A study in contrasts, and an even bigger study in lack of contrasts. Here's me in 1997 (at the San Diego Comic-Con, photo by Ken Estes) on the left and me in 2017 (in my home office, photo by my phone's selfie function):

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Current Music: "Budapest" by Jethro Tull

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The Farscape comics posse at BOOM! Studios' booth at the very first C2E2 in Chicago in April 2010 (the weekend of my 41st birthday, as it happens): Farscape artist Will Sliney (these days doing a magnificent job as the artist on Spider-Man 2099), Farscape: Scorpius scripter David Mack (a New York Times best-seller, currently working on nifty Star Trek fiction as well as an original fantasy series for Tor that will debut next year), and Farscape scripter and Farscape: D'Argo writer me. :)

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The Enterprise goes to the center of the galaxy and meets the devil, which sounds more interesting than it actually is. The TOS Rewatch slogs through "The Magicks of Megas-Tu."

An excerpt:
As a general rule, when I do these rewatches, I write the plot summary as I go along, often having to pause in order to get it all down. I didn’t hit the pause button once while doing this one, because everything happened so friggin slowly! There are two action sequences, which are both spectacularly uninteresting, and between them we have endless monologues by Lucien and Asmodeus explaining the Megans’ backstory. At no point do they explain how the center of the galaxy can go from a point where matter is created—which is actually a nifty scientific concept, worthy of the Big E’s overall mission—to a wibbly wobbly funky-colored area of space with whirlwinds that serve as dimensional portals that take you to a place where magic works. Because that totally makes sense.

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There's lots of things I could say on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but I can't really top the man himself......

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Current Music: "Speedway at Nazareth" by Mark Knopfler

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