Archive for September, 2007

Robert Jordan

Posted in Uncategorized on September 17, 2007 by Matt

Picked up from Boing Boing that Robert Jordan died today.

I guess that there will be plenty of time for reflection upon his life and his works, there will be praise and there will be respectful criticism, too (I suspect that it will be mostly praise).

For my part when I think back on the Wheel of Time series, I remember mostly the thrill of being in my early twenties and discovering the joy of high fantasy again.  I picked up the second book in the series on lark – a bored summer read – and almost against my best of intentions, I was hooked.

I suspect that his unfinished opus will be regarded as one of the touchstones of a generation of fantasy writers – a writer that brought many of the faithful back to the fold.  And of course his books will always be a source of intense pleasure as well as critical debate.  And that, my friends, is one hell of a legacy to leave behind.


Yeah, but he’d be so much cooler if . . .

Posted in Writing, YA Books on September 7, 2007 by Matt

I have this friend who is eleven years old. He’s a great kid. Really, he’s one of those kids you meet that make you want to have kids of your own. He’s that cool.

A few weeks ago I was bouncing some plot points off of him for my next novel, the Powerless sequel and when it came time to describe one of the characters and what his powers were this kid looks at me for a second and says, “Huh. Bet I could come up with someone cooler.”

Being one who is easily goaded and particularly susceptible to the taunts of eleven-year-olds I answered, “Bet you can’t!”

So he decided that he was up to the challenge and came up with the character Flame Lord (not the real name, I don’t want to steal his thunder in case the precocious and internet-savvy little tot has already trademarked the guy).

Whereas my character has the ability to manipulate small fires, Flame Lord has the power to control all fire everywhere. Also he can create fire. And nuclear blasts. Big ones. That could burn the earth to a crisp. I lose, story over.

In short, Flame Lord was cooler than my guy cause he was tougher. Infinity-plus-one tougher, to be exact.

If it were only so easy.

Like an aging Rocker with leather pants and chin-waddle . . .

Posted in Best Of on September 1, 2007 by Matt

I present the “Best of” the old, lamented and sadly never-archived Blatantly Obvious.  This here little tirade was written for opiummagazine back in ’04, around the time of the democratic convention.  Since election time has come early this year, I thought I’d dust it off and shamelessly try to get some more mileage out of it.  Maybe this time someone will listen.


Putting Down the Jack-Ass

The word on the street is that we need a revolution within the Democratic party. In the wake of a machismo- fueled, neo-con hostile take-over, we Democrats are scrambling to affirm our own butchness. In a post-911 world, the socially progressive pacifist politics of the far left are a poor shield against Sheriff Bush and Conan the Destroyer. Of course, we tried. We even punched first, c’mon America didn’t you see the 2004 convention? We saluted! We ran a decorated Vietnam Vet for president who was endorsed by a former NATO Supreme Allied Commander! Hell, just typing that sentence makes me feel like kicking ass with a combat boot! This was the Democrat’s dream. Serious military cred backing the not-so-good-at-sports party.

 But alas, like Dukakis in a tank, we tanked. We threw down the gauntlet to the Republicans, we rode out to battle on Shining White Steeds to face the Grand Old Mastodons and what happened? When they pulled out THEIR big guns and smear machine and dropped ALL of their balloons. Then what did we do? Why, we hugged the nearest tree, closed our eyes and took it like a man. You know, it’s not the right-wing sodomy I so much mind, it’s the running start.

 And now, here we are one year into the reign of Boy George the second and the crap is hitting every available fan along 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  A prime time for Democrats to strike back and  . . . um, well.  Maybe there are some more obscure senatorial procedures we can invoke to annoy the leadership?  Yeah, that’s taking it to them!  The nit-picking party!

One has to wonder: what is it about the identity of the Democratic Party that makes us so Charlie Brownish about being tough?

Well I think it’s the damn donkey.

 Let me explain: We live in a nation hard-wired to subliminal advertising. Television and magazines assail us with attractive spokespersons for even the most unattractive products. It’s gone so far that I am no longer afraid of erectile dysfunction, because I feel too homely to fall victim to it. Television has taught me that ED (as the cool kids call it) affects really good looking people in soft-lighting and hot tubs. And they seem very happy about having it. Apparently there are a lot of men with ED having a really good time and I am missing out on it. It figures that when people look at the two parties and they see our respective mascots, they see them with consumer’s eyes – On the one hand you have the elephant, not a sexy animal, but certainly powerful, and it’s got plenty of positive connotations – noble, long-lived, good memories (no Reagan jokes here, please). Yeah, if the karmic wheel turned round and left me as an elephant, I’d be pleased as punch.

 Then there is the donkey. The mule. The jack-ass. Also not sexy, (no West Virginia jokes here, please). And let’s examine the associative qualities, shall we? Loud. Stubborn. Funny-looking. Beast of burden. An annoying creature that carries other people’s crap for them? Go Team! Now before you history aficionados start lecturing me on the origins of each mascot and how they emerged from the political cartoons of the 19th century and blah, blah, blah, I say this – so what? Just ‘cause some muck-raking yellow journalists in stove-pipe hats assigned us a crappy mascot doesn’t mean we have to stick with it. This is America man! Let’s vote ourselves a real mascot, one that says, “We are Democrats, big “D” and WE WOULD EAT BABIES IF IT MEANT KEEPING AMERICA SAFE!”

 Now I recognize that there is a danger here, because obviously if we vote ourselves a cooler mascot, the Republicans will get hip to the scheme and do the same (anyone remember when WE were the compassionate party?) So yes, there is the risk of an animal arms race, a war of mascot escalation, if you will. We could vote for say, a wolf (cool huh?) and then the next week they could vote for a lion (d’oh!). But I’ve thought long and hard on this and I have the solution – we go for the jugular at the start. We begin by voting for the absolute coolest, cooler than yours by infinity plus one mascot of all. . . . .

 Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I hereby propose that the Democratic Party retire the Donkey and become the Party of the Dragon. See? The Dragon! That’s freaking cool. Think about it. It’s 2008, and in the great convention hall are thousands of delegates waving around Styrofoam dragon claws. When our candidate ascends the dais we let out a mighty dragon roar in show of support. You want tough? Just watch us rain fiery death upon the opposition. You wanna play Hardball Mr. Matthews? Fine, but you’re playing against the Dragon, baby!


Babies are excuses for buying yourself stuff. Really.

Posted in babies, YA Books on September 1, 2007 by Matt

So while The Wife-All-Powerful has been buying little thumb-sized shoes and teeny-weeny plaid shorts for our expected baby boy, I’ve been quietly up to my own shopping – for books. I’ve been telling myself that I am assembling a library of children’s classics both new and old for the little tot, but as I type this and look at the ever increasing stack of tomes, yes tomes, that I feel compelled to buy, I think it’s time I came clean and admitted that I’m shopping for me.

Honestly, how many years is it going to be before he can enjoy a lavishly illustrated edition of Peter Pan or Treasure Island? And how will I react when he takes his little crayon set and draws his OWN treasure map on top of John Silver’s? Or when he gives the pan a mustache in red marker?

But I can’t help it. Those books are just so freaking cool, and try as I might, I cannot get up the enthusiasm to buy Baby’s First Book of Kittens and Colorful Geometric Shapes Produced on Sturdy Nibble-Friendly Cardboard or some such.