Ask Correia 4 – Idea Management

 I was asked this question after my last writing update.  During that post I outlined the next few projects I want to tackle and the order I want to do them in. I started to respond, but then realized it was actually kind of complicated, and maybe I could help out some aspiring writers with my inane ramblings.

I just wanted to know how you keep track of all of these ideas. Or in other words, how do you organize it all. I love to write as well, but I suck at getting it all organized. In my head, everything works, but getting it onto my computer screen nice and tidy is tough. Its fun, but its tough. Do you have a set process for coming up with and incorporating new ideas? – Mikey Smith

 

This is actually a couple of different things, so first off, let me talk about ideas.  Ideas are the cheapest commodity in writing. Successful writers are not just successful because they’ve got good ideas, it is because they can take those ideas and then put in the work to make them into a good book.  What I’m trying to say that good ideas are the easy part. The actual writing part is hard.

For example, I was on a panel about this topic at Life, The Universe, & Everything at BYU this year. LTUE is a writer’s symposium at BYU, and its guests include some of the very best and brightest minds in the sci-fi and fantasy genres. (and somehow I manage to trick them into inviting me back every year!) Brandon Sanderson (who I suspect is actually a wizard) did a little game where people in the audience shouted out things, and then he had a few minutes to come up with a plausible plot.  I think the items he was forced to work with were sentient sponges and Rapunzel’s hair, and he managed to come up with a quick plot that sounded just absurd enough that if I read it on the back cover of a book at B&N, I would have had to purchase it.   My understanding is that Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series began the same way at a Con, only his challenge was combining the Roman legion and Pokemon.

I did this 2 hour seminar with super-author John Brown at LTUE also. It has a lot of info about stringing together plot ideas and twisting them to make them interesting.  http://johndbrown.com/2010/02/how-to-write-a-story-that-rocks/  I am the Vannah to John’s Pat, and I think it turned out pretty good.

A common thing with published writers is that we’ll occasionally be approached by aspiring writers with some sort of offer that consists of “Hey, I’ve got this super awesome idea. I’ll totally give it to you, in exchange for co-authoring it with me”.  Many authors I know have had something like this happen.  The problem is one of misconception.  Writers don’t lack for ideas, we lack for time.  (a second huge misconception there is that co-authoring is somehow easier, when I’d say that it is about twice as hard as just doing one by yourself).   I think many of the aspirants look at this as their way to get published. Let the famous guy do the heavy lifting with all that grammar, plot, and editing crap, and your super awesome idea will surely see the light of day.

Ideas aren’t really that important in the grand scheme of things, though.  Sometimes you can have a book that is totally about the idea, and it works, but it usually works because of the good plot or interesting characters in addition to the idea. I’ve read many sci-fi books that were “big idea” books, but honestly, I can’t really remember anything about them other than the big idea.  For example, there was this one where Neanderthals didn’t die out, they were living amongst us secretly, just waiting for Homo-Sap to screw up so they could take over. I don’t even remember the name of the book, because other than the idea, it was pretty dull.  Heck, that idea is full of potential, but the execution was forgettable.

Or your idea could be Teenage Wizard School or Sparkly Emo Vampire, both of which sound like ideas that rate meh at best, but turned out to be the best selling books of all time. (the first one because they were actually very entertaining, and the second… hell, I still can’t figure that one out).  

Okay, but that doesn’t answer Mikey’s question.  How do you get, manage, and use ideas?

Getting ideas.  Ideas are everywhere.  Seriously.  In conversations with friends, in stories, watching TV, taking a walk in the park, looking at pictures, kind of everywhere.  Now, I’m not saying to watch TV and then steal the plot, but you can have something vaguely related set off a spark in your own brain.  For example, look at this picture I found on Cracked this morning.  (from the article 5 lovable animals you didn’t know were secretly terrifying by the Word Puncher, Robert Brockway, who is a psychotically funny dude) http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-lovable-animals-you-didnt-know-are-secretly-terrifying/

 

Seriously.  Look at that thing… As a guy who is known for writing books about monster hunting… jeez.  I could do something with that fetcher.  Tell me that by looking at that picture it doesn’t spark some ideas in your monster loving head.  Imagine walking out to your car in a darkened parking lot and that thing is standing on the roof…. See, you’re already forming ideas.

Or here is an example from my own writing.  Most of you who read this blog have read the 7 sample chapters for The Grimnoir Chronicles: Hard Magic. (coming Spring 2011 from Baen Books, Yay!)   TGC came about because at LTUE a few years ago, somebody in the audience didn’t want my opinion, because I was just a “contemporary” fantasy author, not an “epic” fantasy author.  So I decided I wanted to write something “different” that still followed the tropes of epic fantasy.  (lots of characters, complex world building, magic system with rules, world changing events, etc.)

So I had a goal. Then I had a conversation about this. This is the picture that set off the entire TGC universe:  http://www.lorestrome.com/trash/marko/Spiderman_Noir-revision03.jpeg 

 

My son picked up a free promotional copy of Marvel’s young guns best new artists.  This picture was in it.  One day I was talking to Mike Kupari, co-author of Dead Six, and he was flipping through my son’s comic book.  We both agreed how awesome Spiderman looked set in the 1930s.  I’m not really a Spidey fan, and I’ve never read any of the Marvel Noir titles, but that was such a badass image there, and it really stuck in my head.  Mike then started talking about his character, Valentine, set in a noir/pulp world, and I made a crack about ninjas fighting on a dirigible. That set me off. We then had a four hour brain storming session, while I drew pictures of blimps and men in hats with futurized Thompson subguns.   20,000 pages of history books and four months later I had another novel. 

Managing Ideas.  So you’ve come up with an awesome idea. Write it down.  Some of us keep a notebook, others have a file on their computer, whatever works, just save it.  You may see some super cool visual that you want to use, but it might not fit in any of your current projects. Save it for later. The original idea for MHI occurred several years before I actually wrote it. The characters I used in Dead Six had their genesis in the first, failed novel I attempted to write in 2000-2001. (it was called Minute of Angle, and it really wasn’t that bad all things considered, but it wasn’t up to snuff) I’ve got a file filled with lines of dialog, character sketches, odd little notes and turns of phrase, and anything else you can think of, just stashed and waiting for something they may fit into.

The way Lord Machado looked in MHI was based on going fishing when I was younger, where you’d get those big bags of dirt packed with worms. That led to a note being jotted down at the dawn of MHI that said something like “Earthworms are creepy. Lots of slime. Dirt. Gross.  And make him a conquistador.” Why? Because my brain said so.

It could be anything. Years and years ago I heard somebody insult a cashier at Taco Bell. The customer was speaking to his friend. The cashier rudely interrupted with his political opinion about “so you’re the kind of that do people do X” and the customer snapped back with “and you’re the kind of people that put the cheese on my burrito, so snap to it.”  Ten years later I’ve got Earl Harbinger saying something similar to a nosy waiter in a greasy spoon in Monster Hunter Alpha.

To continue with the earlier example, after my original brainstorming session with Mike, I sat down and wrote about ten pages about the Grimnoir world.  ¾ of that didn’t end up in the book, and lots of it changed as I actually wrote and studied more about the real history of the period I was tweaking.   

So I’ve got this alternative-fantastical world, I need ideas on how to populate it.  The story starts in El Nido, California, which is my home town. I grew up there, and it is an old fashioned kind of place.  It wasn’t hard to imagine my home town in the ‘30s, since that was when most of the place was built. The whole bit with the Portuguese hating the Okies? Not fabricated. I heard that kind of thing from the old guys growing up. Ideas that had been in my head since I was a little kid ended up on the page.

Using Ideas.  Don’t be afraid to be different. If you think it is awesome, and it will make your fans happy, you can do it. When I was originally writing MHI, there was very little comic relief. Believe it or not, it started out much more horror than fantasy.  Then one night my wife was in bed, reading a fantasy novel, and she got frustrated and threw it on the ground.  “What’s wrong?” I asked. 

She responded. “I’m sick of elves. Elves are always the same. Everyone is just rehashing Lord of the Rings, over and over again… Why can’t elves be different for once?  Make them… I don’t know… rednecks or something.”

Suddenly a light bulb went off over my head. Redneck elves. Why not? I thought it was hilarious. But then again, that’s not “tradition”. People might not like it because it was different. But I said screw it, and that turned out to be everyone’s favorite part because it was an original idea.  Besides, many of my really good ideas come from my wife. Also, for the record, Mike came up with the idea of Interdimensional Insurance Agents.

Sometimes you might be surprised. Ideas that you’ve had for a long time might suddenly have a chance to insert themselves into projects in unexpected places.  You guys haven’t read this yet, but I’ve got a villain in something coming up that is based on Carson from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, only supremely evil. I’d always thought that having an uncharacteristically effeminate oddball turn out to be a James Bond level super-villain would be awesome.  And while writing on the fly, there was suddenly just this perfect spot to throw this dude into the mix.  It turned out really well.

Practice.  In addition to the above, one thing I’ve really seen over the last few years is that the more you train your brain to come up with interesting ideas, the easier it becomes to crank those out on demand.  When you get used to doing this kind of thing on the fly, it gets easier and easier.

Writing Update

Okay, haven’t done this for awhile, but people like to know where stuff is at.

Coming up next will be the eARC of Monster Hunter Vendetta. For those who don’t know, that is an Electronic Advanced Reader Copy.  Basically, Baen will put up an extremely early e-book.  You pay extra, (I think they are $15) but you get it several months in advance. I don’t have this date yet though.  As soon as I know anything I’ll post it here. The paper copy will release in October, (meaning it’ll ship in September) which means that the regular priced ($6) e-book will be out sometime right before that.

The Grimnoir Chronicles: Hard Magic will be out in Spring 2011. No idea which month, or if there will be an eARC for it. I’m guessing probably. After that will be Monster Hunter Alpha in the later half of 2011. (looking like there will be a MH novel toward the end of each year).  MHA is the book that I am currently working on, and the rough draft will be done this summer. Which makes it weird to write, since it takes place in winter, in a very cold and snowy place (the UP of Michigan).  MHA is the first MH novel written in the 3rd person, and it is primarily about Earl Harbinger.  Earl runs on sheer badassitude, so this has been a fun one to work on.   MHA is currently nearing 100,000 words, (expected 150,000 total).

I’ve taken a brief break from MHA though to work on getting a draft finished of Dead Six.  My co-author, Mike Kupari, returned from active duty this month, so we jumped on it.  I hurried and stuck it in front of Reader Force Alpha (and quickly had pointed out to me that we left some of our incoherant editing notes in place in the text and had forgotten to delete them before sending).  So, RFA, there is not actually a Deep Crow randomly living in Nevada.  Yes. We will edit that part out.  Mike was trying to make me laugh because he knows I hate editing. It still requires some clean-up, but we should be sending it off shortly.  Baen is interested, because they’ve had a few forays into the mil/thriller genre with Ringo’s Kildar series, and the new one, Countdown, from Kratman.  

After MHA goes out the door, I will start writing The Grimnoir Chronicles 2.  Which doesn’t have an actual title yet, though in my head it has been Spellbound and a .45   Though I don’t know if that is going to work or not.   TGC2 is set in 1933.  Remember in real life when someone tried to assasinate FDR right after the election? Yeah, now make that guy an Active.  (and you guys have only seen the 1st 7 chapters of Hard Magic, so you don’t even know how badly everything blows up in 1932)  If you think the goverment overracted a bit in real life by rounding up all the Japanese in 1942 to shove into places like Topaz, just imagine what they’d do to “undesirable” magicals.  I don’t know if you guys can tell, but I love me some alternative history.

Then comes MHI:4.  The 4th MH book goes back to Owen’s perspective.  Right now my working title is (drum roll please for the first time I’ve thrown this out on the interwebs) Monster Hunter Legion.  I will not elaborate on what the Legion is for… yet.  But it opens with a MHI vs. rival company fist fight at a fancy Las Vegas buffet.  The people who were with me one year at a certain SHOT Show know that this is loosely based on actual events involving two Jack Bauers, a bunch of uptight contractors, a SWAT sniper who got a little too involved with a cream-puff, and a talking moose.  Only MHI is far less diplomatic than the people I hang out with in real life. But I digress. 

MHL takes place between Las Vegas and the Dugway Proving Grounds.  Let’s just say that there are worse things buried in Dugway than the nerve gas.  It has been buried for a long time, and it is not happy.

In that same time frame, there are many other projects I want to work on as well, but those above mentioned items are ones that I’ve gotten sold. (except Dead Six).  So the timing is kind of variable. There is a sequel to Dead Six called Swords of Exodus, but I’m in luck there because I’ve already written most of my half of it.  Then I’ve got one sci-fi/thriller project that I’ve been calling the “Africa” book that is going to kick serious butt. It is about a reality TV show, where teams of contestants compete to overthrow a small country. I’m really proud of it.  Then I’ve got a straight up supernatural horror novel about a prison guard who volunteers to keep something really bad locked up for eternity.   The Africa book and the Prison project are both awesome, but I’ve got to squeeze them in between books for series that I’ve already sold.

There are many more MH books planned, including Monster Hunter Nemesis, about Agent Franks, as well as more TGC novels. The third D6 novel is called Project Blue, but I can’t start working on it until I get D6 sold.

So much to do, so few hours in the day.

CONduit schedule this weekend

If you’re coming to CONduit this weekend,  http://conduit.sfcon.org/   this is what I’ll be doing:

12p FRI – Writing Moods: Evoking Emotion and Atmosphere in Your Writing
1p FRI – Submitting Your Work for Publication
11a SAT SIGNING
4p SAT – Writing the Rogue
11a SUN READING (1/2 hour)
2p SUN – Vampires: Dracula is Not Your Boyfriend

 

And I usually manage to bluff my way onto other things when the other panelists are friends of mine.  CONduit is usually a lot of fun. So swing by and say hi.

A Message from Stranger & Stranger

Continued from: http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2010/05/17/the-adventures-of-tom-stranger-interdimensional-insurance-agent/

Earth #745-Q-15832

ANNOUNCER:  “ Don’t worry everyone, coverage of the Annual Macy’s Draw Mohammed Day Parade will continue in a minute, but first a word from one of our parade sponsors, Stranger and Stranger Insurance. Because you’re in Strange Hands with Tom Stranger.”

CUT TO -

EXTERIOR SHOT – DAYTIME IN A PARK.   Children play on a jungle gym. Happy parents look on.  There is giggling and birds singing. Suddenly a tear appears in the fabric of space and time and dinosaurs wearing Nazi uniforms spill out onto the playground.  Parents scream as children are plucked from the slide and eaten.

VOICEOVER:  “Has this every happened to you?”

CLOSEUP. A doll lies on the ground and is squished beneath a dinosaur foot with a swastika on it.

CAMERA PANS BACK TO REVEAL TOM STRANGER:  “Hello. I’m Tom Stranger, of Stranger and Stranger Interdimensional Insurance.   Did you know that over a million paradoxical Hawking rifts occur every day across the multi-verse?”

EXTERIOR SHOT – STATUE OF LIBERTY.  A giant Cthuloid tentacle horror beast is humping the Statue of Liberty’s leg like a deranged poodle.

TOM STRANGER: “Well, now you do.” 

MAN ON THE STREET INTERVIEW:   “It was horrible. One minute we were eating dinner, and the next, this buffed guy wearing  a hockey mask and driving a dune buggy crashed through our dining room. He said his name was Lord Humungous. The next thing I knew I was hanging from a bungee cord, having a chainsaw fight against a retarded guy with a bucket on his head!  Master Blaster! NOOOOO!!”   – he begins to sob.

Tom Stranger appears and pats the sobbing man on the back in a reassuring manner.

TOM STRANGER:  – looks at camera – “But because Mr. Lawson here had Stranger and Stranger Post-Apocalyptic Barbarian Insurance, he was fully covered. “

CUT TO-INTERIOR SHOT-THUNDERDOME – Tom Stranger is arguing with Lord Humungous and somebody that looks like Genghis Kahn.  Hell, it probably is Genghis Kahn.  Lord Humungous throws his hands up in the air and stomps away, obviously frustrated.

TOM STRANGER VOICEOVER: “I was able to get Mr. Lawson’s dimension fixed back the way it had been, and they even had to pay to vat grow him some new legs.”

MR. LAWSON:  “These new legs are way cooler than my old ones! Whee! Thanks, Tom Stranger!”

EXTERIOR SHOT – THE PLAYGROUND.  Nazi dinosaurs are all trying to do that Heil salute, but it is difficult with their stubby little arms. Tom Stranger falls out of the sky and lands, crouched, in the middle of the Nazi dinosaurs. They turn to look at him, surprised. Tom Stranger reaches both hands into his suit coat and comes out with a CCW (CorreiaTech Combat Wombat) pistol in each hand.  A Tyrannosaurs with a little Hitler mustache roars, but then Hitlersaurus Rex explodes into a shower of blood and meat chunks as a 3mm hypervelocity round strikes it at over 50,000 feet per second. 

CUT TO – R. LEE ERMEY:  “I’m Secretary of Defense, R. Lee Ermey.  We got invaded, but my dimension had Stranger and Stranger extended space marauder coverage. After being ****ed over by a horde of purple ***** sucking **** rags, Tom kicked their asses!  It was a mach 4 pterodactyl rodeo! OOOH RAH! Tom Stranger’s customer service is OUTSTANDING!”  

EXTERIOR SHOT – PARIS:  Gritty shaky-cam style – The Eiffel tower is on fire. It is chaos as an army of My Little Ponies run through the streets with chainsaws. A mime silently pleads for his life but is brutally chainsawed by My Little Pony Sparkle-Butt.  Blood splatters the screen as the camera  falls with a clatter.

VOICEOVER:  “No one thinks they need Interdimensional insurance until it is too late. Don’t let this happen to you…” 

CUT TO – A hand wipes mime blood from the camera lens. The camera is picked up. In the background a Stranger & Stranger BattleMech stomps the stuffing out of Sparkle-Butt, then turns to the camera and gives a robotic thumbs up.

TOM STRANGER SITS BEHIND A DESK, LOOKING CONCERNED:  “Think of us as homeowner’s, but for your dimension. All three of my hearts swell with sadness every time I see a planet destroyed when it doesn’t have to be.  Because here at Stranger and Stranger, we care.”  TOM STRANGER ACTIVATES A HOLOGRAM ON HIS DESK. HE IMMEDIATELY CHEERS UP.  “And we’ll even provide a free rate quote from us and each of our competitors.”

CLOSE UP OF HOLOGRAM – Stranger & Stranger is like billions of dollars cheaper. The next quote is for Conundrum & Company.

TOM STRANGER: -mutters as he stares into the hologram- “I hate you Jeff Conundrum, so very much.” – VOICE DROPS TO A DEADLY WHISPER – “You’ll pay, Conundrum. I swear you’ll pay.”  - TOM REMEMBERS HE IS ON TV. TURNS BACK TO CAMERA AND GIVES A FRIENDLY SMILE.

FADE TO BLACK

THE WORD “TESTIMONIALS” APPEARS. 

CUT TO – ADAM BALDWIN:  “I’m Adam Baldwin, President of the United States of America on Earth 345-Bravo-98081. You may remember me from such programs as Big Hollywood the Animated Series, The Grimnoir Chronicles, and the Serenity trilogy.  Tom Stranger saved our entire planet with his—“

GOES TO SPLIT SCREEN -

BARACK OBAMA: “And I’m El Presidente for Life on Earth 782-S-32591. We also use Stranger an–”

ADAM BALDWIN: “Hey, I was talking, jerk.”

BARACK OBAMA: “Well, I got bored.  And that hat makes you look stupid.”

ADAM BALDWIN:  “I think it makes me look cunning.  You take that back.”

BARACK OBAMA:  -nose in air- “I’ll have you know I’m very important on my planet.”

ADAM BALDWIN: “And I swear on Charlton Heston’s magic laser sword that I truly do not give a flying crap.  Apologize to my hat.”

BARACK OBAMA: “ I only apologize to dictators, terrorists, and occasionally the mayor of Cleveland, if I get caught up in the moment. It’ll be a cold day in Kenya before I apologize to a libertarian-space-cowboy.”

R. LEE ERMEY:  – shoves his way onto camera – “Let me through, Prez. Nobody talks **** to my dimension!  Hey, big ears! I know you! You’re that maggot that can’t even pronounce Corpsman correctly! Nobody disrespects my beloved Corp or my President’s hat!  I’ll plant my Space Marine size 12 combat boot in your corn-hole!  Hey! Yeah, I’m talking to you, maggot! Eyes over here.  Your teleprompter can’t save you now!“

BARACK OBAMA:  - confused – “You kiss your mama with that mouth?”

R. LEE ERMEY: “No, but I kiss yours with it!”

BARACK OBAMA: – sputters – “This means war!”

CUT TO – TOM STRANGER AT HIS DESK, PERPLEXED.  – shrugs – “Well, that just goes to demonstrate that when multiple alternate realities collide… things can get a little…”

VOICEOVER GUY:  Strange?

TOM STRANGER: – chuckles – “I suppose so. “ HUGE EXPLOSION NOISE IN BACKGROUND. “Wow. That guy from Family Matters is going to be in for one heck of a surprise when he finds out their policy lapsed when their check bounced! Well, it looks like I’ve got to get back to work.  It’s been nice chatting with you, Earth 745-Q-15832. Enjoy your Mohammed Day parade.”

VOICEOVER GUY: – whispers to Tom.

TOM STRANGER: “Oh… this is a dimension where the people stood up to those bullies. Oh. Sorry about that. I mixed you up with that other Earth where their comedy program network talks a big game, but only makes fun of religions that don’t cut people’s heads off.  This multi-verse thing can get really complicated. My sincere apologies to your…” TOM CHECKS GUIDE BOOK, “Emperor ManBearPig.   Bye bye.”   TOM WAVES AT CAMERA.

FADE TO BLACK.  

Join us next week for the further adventures of Tom Stranger, Interdimensional Insurance Agent, when Tom meets his dreaded nemesis, Jeff Conundrum, in ARBITRATION ON MORDOR STATION.     http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2010/06/01/tom-stranger-interdimensional-insurance-agent-in-arbitration-at-mordor-station/

Coming Monday, more Tom Stranger

I’ll be posting another episode of Tom Stranger on Monday.  This time it will be a commercial advertisement from Stranger & Stranger.  I think I’m going to try and make Tom’s adventures a weekly event.

Blogging, Amazon, what I’m working on, and why apartments suck.

Just so you guys know, most writers check their Amazon rankings daily. We’re kind of weird like that. It is a kind of strange competitive trait.  Really, since Amazon updates by the hour on some strange, unknowable formula, it really doesn’t mean much, but being in the good number range is always nice for our egos.   Amazon is only one outlet, but it is a really big outlet. Plus it is the only place where author’s with self-esteem issues can be updated hourly.

MHI has hung in there really well for almost a year now.  I figure out of the 4 million books on Amazon, if you’re hanging out in the top 1,000 you’re kicking serious booty.  The highest I ever got was into the 500 range back at the release, which considering that includes non-fiction, politics, news, childrens books, Kindle, etc. I’ll take it with a smile.  Since then I’ve tapered off, (since ya’ll already bought it) and MHI will normally be hanging out in the 20,000-30,000 range, which is still good out of millions. That means it is still selling. (B&N is still restocking it too, which is even more awesome).

I have noticed a trend though. Whenever I do something on my blog that gets a slew of links and hits, I get an Amazon spike. This week I had two big ones, Tom Stranger and the punching of Ms. Magazine in the face.  Links went out, I made new folks laugh, (and was honorarily adopted into the Robert Downey Jr. Screaming FanGirl club! “Ms. Magazine made fun of Robert? KILL THEM ALL!”  Thank you, Julie, for the intro. )  and yesterday MHI is back up in the 5,000 range, #50 in Horror. (being in the top 100 of a genre is always sweet).  And even better, Monster Hunter Vendetta, which isn’t even released for a few more months has been right there with it too. (though Amazon hasn’t stuck it into genres yet).  This morning both are sitting around 10,000, which is pretty darn good. I do believe MHV is going to do well.

As a writer, if you want to be a success, it takes more than writing a really good book. There are lots of people who are far better writers than I am who fade into obscurity. I’ve always been told that one of the keys is building up a loyal fanbase who trust and like you enough to buy anything you put out.  For any of you who are aspiring writers, I’d recommend blogging.  It introduces your work, it lets your fans get to know you, it helps you network and make friends, and every now and then you can use it to crush your enemies and grind them to dust.

Originally I had some other writers warn me not get too political on the blog, since that ran the risk of offending potential readers. (I’ve noticed that advice is often only applied to those of us on the right)  But I’ve never been very good at that whole middle-ground thing. Nobody has ever accused me of being “moderate”.  I figure, why be mushy? Let people know how you really feel.  Unless you are a writer and a lunatic, because then you might want to keep anything that will hurt your sales out of the public eye.  So you may want to keep your conspiracy theory about the Reptoids from the Hollow Earth to yourself.  Unless there is a big potential fanbase in that community, because if it sells another 10,000 books, then I’m all about the fact that Rahm Emmanuel is actually a Reptoid in diguise.  

On the fiction front, Mike and I have been working hard on splicing together the two halves of Dead Six. Last Saturday consisted of the two of reading the book out loud and tweaking things as we went. (his iguana, Winston, was there as well. Winston, however, failed to provide any useful input into the editing process). My goal is to have the draft out the door and into the discerning hands of Reader Force Alpha by Monday morning.  For anybody who thinks that co-authoring a book would somehow be easier because you’re only doing half the work, you are so very wrong.  Co-writing is actually a whole lot harder. Sure, you can come out with a superior product because two brains are better than one, but you’ve also got to figure out how to mesh two brains together into a coherant mass, and you’ve got a lot more continuity issues and editing work. 

Once D6 is out the door, then I’ll jump back on Monster Hunter Alpha. The actual word count on Alpha is only 75K so far, so about half way through, but the first part is always the hardest, and then it goes faster and faster as I go.  I’ll have Alpha done and out to Toni this summer. 

Meanwhile, the Correias are still living in a crappy little apartment while our new house is being built.  It kind of sucks. I bought our first house seven years ago. It was great. In fact, it was so great that I forgot how much apartments suck. Then we sold our nice house in town in order to build a magnificent house in the mountains.  The only downside was this required living in an apartment. No problem. How hard could that be? We lived in an apartment before… Oh… but we’d forgotten. The years of bliss had faded our memory of being renters.  We’d forgotten that no matter how nice your apartment complex is, some of your neighbors will be crack whores and imbeciles. I don’t care if you pay five grand a month in rent, if you’re renting, one of your neighbors will be a hooker (or might as well be) and somebody else will leave cigarette butts all over your doorway.    

For example, yesterday. My apartment (which by apartment standards, is perfectly nice and sound) has a pool and a hot tub. Mrs. Correia suggested we go let the kids swim and we could sit in the hot tub. They seem to have a pretty good resistence to diseases that begin in the word “Crypto”. Okay. Great idea.  Until we got there, and there were literally 400 children stuck into a 6×10 tub.  Even if it hadn’t been filled with stinky, screaming kid flesh, I’m sure most of the water had been replaced by urine at that point, so Mrs. Correia and I sat on deck chairs while the kids swam in the pool. (98% urine free!)  There was another guy sitting there by us. 

So after twenty minutes, this lady shows up,  goes to the guy in the chair, and I kid you not, says; “I’m back. Thanks for watching my kids. What was your name again?”  She then gathered up approximately 11 of the 400 children from the kid-tub (creating space that was surely immediately filled with pee) and left.  Huh? What kind of person leaves their kids at the pool (and they were young too) with a dude who’s name you don’t even know?  “Excuse me, you don’t look too much like a serial killer. Would you watch my kids? I’ve got to go perform unmentionable acts in the parking lot in exchange for crack money”

The basement is done. The wood has been delivered. There is a porta-potty.  FRAME! FRAME! FRAME! Come on, baby, Correia wants to live in a house again!

Fun with PhotoShop

Lord Barack and Darth Biden. Please feel free to caption away.

Ms. Magazine vs. Iron Man 2

I haven’t Fisked anything in a bit, so I’m feeling Fisky, and I discover this bit of awful today posted on the Dixonverse.  (fun board, run by comic book writer Chuck Dixon and his fans) It is from Ms. Magazine, and it is a piercing piece of journalism that dares to expose the horrible misogyny and racism of IRON MAN 2.  As a Wise Latino, who is always understanding of everyone’s feelings and since I also just watched Iron Man 2 this weekend, I feel uniquely qualified to explore this profound issue.  As usual, original article is in italics, my comments are in bold.

Gender 101 from Iron Man 2

By Natalie Wilson

And for the record, I didn’t know Ms. Magazine still existed. I thought that it had been put out to Shrill Harpy pasture back in the ‘80s. 

It’s right there in the title: Iron MAN, not meaning “human” but male.  Indeed, though I for one am hoping for an Iron Maiden movie starring Olivia Munn!  As I sat watching the movie with my 13-year-old son (and cringing at the overt sexualization of females), I cringed when I found out this lady had a kid.  Poor, poor child. I realized that Iron Man 2 is about the glory of males, the fact they are indeed “iron” and that, with their strength and ingenuity, the world will be saved. Hey, if magic unicorns wanted to step up and save the world, I’d be all in favor of taking the rest of the day off.

A number of other significant gender lessons are imparted in the film.

First, on men and masculinity:

1. Men don’t cry, they scream, as Ivan (played by Mickey Rourke) does when his dad dies.  Not only am I a wise Latino, I am also a writer. Trust me lady, nobody wants a weepy pansy villain. Plus, Ivan was a RUSSIAN.  Badass Russians only have three emotions: Revenge, depression, and vodka.

2. Men like power tools, technology, welding and weapons. Talking, not so much. Duh.  Ironically, my wife also prefers tools, tech, and weapons.  Which is one reason I love her so much.  And men do talk. We talk a lot. Just not about the stupid crap that people like you enjoy. Go watch Sex in the City 2 for that boring ass shit. Iron Man 2 was too talky. Hell, there were only two action sequences in the whole damn movie.

3. Men are big wheels and lone gunmen. Not all of them, just the ones interesting enough to make movies about. They may say, “It’s not all about me,” as Tony Stark (played by Robert Downey, Jr.) does at the beginning of the film, but, really, it is. Lady, he’s Tony Friggin’ Stark. If you don’t get that, I don’t think anyone can help you. 

4. Men need to leave a legacy and build a better future. The best way to do this is via weapons, wealth and womanizing  I don’t know about the womanizing, but an America without weapons and wealth would be speaking German right about now. (well, actually we’d still be a British colony) Weapons and Wealth (or guns, germs, and steel if you prefer) are what put us on top.

5. Men’s hatred of women is cute and humorous–or as one blogger puts it, “Tony Stark’s privileged sexist playboy antics are hilarious,” teaching viewers that “Men’s sexism is funny and endearing, as is their greed.” Yes. Tony is a great character, played wonderfully by Robert Downey Jr.  Tony is a playboy. That’s the character. When you find yourself easily offended by the personal habits of someone who doesn’t actually exist, you may want to reexamine your life.

6. Men are fabulous at business–so fabulous that they can successfully privatize world peace. Well, how’s that whole UN thing working out for you?

7. Real men (aka Tony Stark) think the “liberal agenda” is boring. AMEN!!  I cheered at that line. It is absurdly boring. It consists primarily of guilt, angst, and crying, and it only makes sense if you’ve been brained really hard in the skull with a brick.

8. Men will always need to be in the theatre of war. As such, they might as well turn their bodies into weapons. So that explains all those push-ups… Well, I suppose that we could just try to ‘love’ our enemies into not murdering us.

9. In fact, the male body is a weapon. Literally, figuratively, metaphorically.  Disagree. The MIND is a weapon. Everything else is just a tool.  Man is iron. Or, as Andrew O’Hehir’s naming of the Iron Man suit as “impenetrable iron-dong costume” Yes, because dongs are humanoid, red and gold, and can shoot laser beams.  in his Salon review Because hell, when I think of profound thought, I think of Salon.  suggests, the iron suit allows for the fulfillment of the male body not only as weapon but as walking erection–hard and ready all the time.  WARNING:  If massive walking laser erection that can fly and shoot missiles lasts for more than four hours, seek medical attention.

Wait a second though… wasn’t the single most effective combatant in the whole movie a woman?  More on that in a bit.

Secondly, on females and femininity (these lessons are longer, you see, because females need a lot of teaching): 

1. Women are for dancing, either around poles or on stage as props. Wherever they are dancing, they should be scantily clad. Yes, because movies featuring fat, ugly dancers really kill at the box office. And pole dancing while wearing a burkha is not only difficult, but unsafe. Note to cameraman: Shoot women dancers from behind so as to get maximum amount of booty shots, as in the opening scene of Iron Man 2 where our gaze is directed to numerous bent-over butts in red spandex hot pants. As O’Herir points out in his Salon review, there is “no irony” in these “loving, loop-the-loop tracking shots of these dancin’ hoochie-mamas with their spray-bronzed legs and perfect Spandex asses.” Wait… was he saying that was a negative? Screw you, Salon!  Rather it is, as this blogger aptly names it, “a vomit-inducingly sexist scene involving various swooping close-ups of womens’ body parts as they gyrate.” Yes, because attractive women dancing as a backdrop for selling a product would never occur in real life! How dare Iron Man 2 be set in a world we recognize!

2. Women are objects. When Tony is shown his new car, he makes a joke about the woman standing next to the vehicle: “Does she come with the car?” And what part of that would be out of character for the, you know, the character?  In other words, women, like cars, should be sleek, good looking, fast and expendable. Lady… Are you insane? That’s an Audi R8.  There is nothing EXPENDABLE about it!   It is not your Prius.  Tony assesses new female character Natalie Rushman (Scarlett Johansson) using the same parameters: Her intelligence, multi-lingual skills and martial arts training don’t seem to matter; he uses Google to find her old modeling pictures. I thought that part was pretty realistic, since if you use Google to look up anything, you are going to get boobies.  Go ahead and try it as an experiment.  I’ll wait for you…

See? Boobies. I told you so. Don’t blame Tony Stark for the fact the internet is mostly porn.

As Froley of ReelThinker notes, she is put “in her underwear just for the hell of it” and her character is no more than a “near-cameo.” Near-cameo is Salon speak for person with the longest action sequence.  This incites Froley to assume that director “Jon Favreau must be some kind of chauvinist dog, because he takes every opportunity to objectify women.” Well, have you seen Swingers? Man, that one is a classic.

But hold on a second. ScarJo (look how trendy I am!) plays Black Widow, a sexy super spy the defected from the USSR with super kung-fu moxy.  Once again, since we’re talking about fictional characters (since we’re watching Iron Man, and not some Sundance Festival piece of crap that no one outside of Manhattan will ever watch) and the Starkmeister is a known womanizer, then if would make perfect sense for Black Widow to have those photos on the internet, because the character would use that to her advantage against the other character.  Though I’m doubting very much that Ms. Magazine or Salon will be able to make that logical leap. (see brick to skull thing above)

3. Women need to have good make-up know-how. Both Stark’s assistant Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Natalie are not only beautifully made-up themselves, but also have the skills to mask Tony’s various bumps and bruises with foundation. Yes. Because ugly people go far… How many female CEOs wear Birkenstocks and don’t shave their armpits either?

This skill, along with their ability to take precarious, mincing steps on incredibly high heels, frames femininity as a performance that benefits males. High heels are tools of Male Oppression! BURN THEM!

4. Women’s most important asset is their bodies. Even when they are in full-on battle mode, they should remain hyper-vigilant about their bodily display. They don’t get to wear “iron man” suits, but really tight body suits. What fun would it be if their boobs and butts were hidden under metal? Actually, check Google. I’m pretty sure somebody is into that too.

Wait. Tony Stark should have been played by somebody ugly. Last I heard, women like Robert Downy Jr. Obviously this movie was just pandering to women!  (there, see how stupid that sounds, Salon? Yeah, **** you too).

5. Women are petty and jealous. Make fun of their jealousy by telling them “green doesn’t look good on you,” as Tony says to Pepper when his ogling of Natalie is obviously bothering her. Hey, lady. Have you ever actually talked to women about other women? Women are MEAN to each other in ways that men can’t even comprehend.  

You may say that this is just a stereotype… Sure. Did you go to high school? Girls are brutal to each other, and practice psychic warfare designed to ruin other girl’s self esteem. Or is that somehow men’s fault too?

6. The female body is weak. Pepper, after being saved by Tony near the end of Iron Man 2, says “I quit…My body can’t take this stress.” After two hours of watching Tony’s body take bullets, bombs, electric shocks and poisoning, we hear that poor Pepper can’t take the stress–of being a CEO for a week. That’s because he’s Tony Friggin’ Stark, and because it is a movie. In real life most humans are turned to jelly after fifteen seconds of the flailing about that passes for fighting. That would be BORING. So we watch characters that can kick ass. 

(ironically, despite Ms. Magazine’s astute observations, misogynistic director Jon Favreau gets beat up badly while womyn ScarJo kicks booty.  Apparently the folks from Salon had gotten up for popcorn at that point)

7. Women are very forgiving. Ignore her, lie to her, bring her the one food she is allergic to as a gift and make it known that you are a lifelong womanizer: Character… The word zips right over their head. None of that will matter as long as you kiss her at the right moment. Or, as Kyle Smith gleefully notes, “The Gwyneth Paltrow character is comfortable with being Tony Stark’s assistant instead of judo-chopping and blasting away at bad guys herself, in the somewhat silly manner of virtually every female lead in action movies these days.” Yep. So now if a woman does what the male lead does, then it is “silly”.  Make up your freaking minds!

Yes, it’s soooo silly when we act as if females want to be part of the action! As one blogger put it, “If I were Gwyneth Paltrow and I just played the role of a stiletto-heel-wearing submissive secretary cleaning up after some rich white chauvinist asshole, I’d send back my Oscar.” You would send back your Oscar, assuming you could get one, which you can’t, because you’re a no talent hack who writes for Salon. Meanwhile, the lovely and talented Gwyneth Paltrow is laughing at you, while she sits on a giant pile of money.

Finally, the film provides lessons in racism and homophobia:

1. Tony Stark explains his desire to no longer making weapons with, “I saw Americans killed by my own weapons in Afghanistan! I can’t put it better than this blogger: “Do I even need to mention how stupid and racist it is to say that he was OK with his weapons being used to kill all those other non-Americans?”  Huh? Uh… who are we currently fighting? Should Iron Man have been like that one Tom Clancy adaptation where the Jihadists suddenly turned into white supremacists?  In this same vein, as noted in my earlier post, various Others are framed as “evil terrorists,” namely Middle Easterners and North Koreans. Yes. It is absurd to think that Iran or North Korea would ever be a threat! (meanwhile, on Earth, they’re skipping the robot suits and building nukes)

2. Black actors are exchangeable. Swap Don Cheadle (Iron Man 2) for Terrence Howard (Iron Man 1). No one will notice. My goodness, you are stupid. No really, I mean you are really really dim-witted.  Terrance Howard was replaced because he wanted too much MONEY. Not only was it noticed, there was a hat tip to the geeks in Don Cheadle’s first scene where he said “I’m here, deal with it.” Indeed, deal with it, bitch.

p.s. Don Cheadle is a better actor. Deal with that, all you player haters.

p.p.s. Nick Fury was played by a black man. Nick Fury was originally white.  You don’t hear me screaming reverse racism. (okay, yes, geeks, I know. Ultimates… let’s not get too geeky)

3. Organizations which discriminate against homosexuals deserve huge donations. In the sequel, Tony donates a modern art collection, which Pepper has collected over 10 years, to the Boy Scouts of America. Okay, you want to pick a fight with the BSA. Kiss my ass and die. No seriously. Kiss it good. Then die. Go to hell, and die, on fire. A lot.  Oh, it’s not enough to cry about Iron Man picking on you, but you mess with the scouts, you’re lower than whale crap. They’ve done a thousand times more good than your pathetic, self-righteous, proud-to-be-a-victim, naive, liberal bullshit has ever even dreamed of accomplishing. You despise them because they have the audacity to stand up for what they believe in, instead of bending over to your agenda. And you people just hate that.

Bonus note: The sexist message of the Iron Man films spills off the screen and into our fast-food culture, with Burger King offering four lifestyle accessories for girls and four action-packed toys for boys.” Girls, get busy accessorizing! Boys, take action! News flash lady. Boys and girls like different toys. I’ve got boys and girls. My girls know how to defend themselves, and they can shoot. I’ve raised them to be very intelligent, self sufficient, and proud, but guess what? They liked to play with different toys. I feel sorry for your thirteen year old. When the other little boys were shooting each other with Nerf cannons, did he enjoy that My Little Pony you made him play with?

And not only do you hate the Boy Scouts, you hate the King? Bet you’re one of those people who thinks food should be regulated too…  Well guess what, lady. The Burger King will not be trifled with. He is terrifying. He is a force of nature. Do not piss off the King.

The King is watching you…

For this feminist, one thing’s certain: I won’t be stepping out in my non-high heels in order to see the sure-to-follow Iron Man 3.

Nope. Next is Thor, (a Viking! Boo! They’re insensitive! What with all the raping.) then Captain America (who, if the adaptation is faithful at all, should make your little head explode), then Avengers, then Iron Man 3. Me, and my Viking War Children will be at all of them, opening night.

This article was just an example of why the “feminist” movement died a pathetic death as a shell of its once important self.  True feminists are women are proud of who they are, and who take responsibility for themselves.  My wife is an example of a woman who truly takes no crap. However, since she’s a conservative, she is evil incarnate to the imbeciles at Ms Magazine. The feminist movement as it stands today is just another democrat shill organization that exists primarily to whine, feel picked on, and look for excuses to cry racism.  These are the people who hate Sarah Palin, but didn’t say a word about Bill Clinton’s misogyny. Apparently my Rule #1 of racism also applies to sexism.

Hey, Ms. Magazine, Iron Man go you down? Put on your big girl panties and deal with life.  That’s what Tony Stark would do.  

Come and see me at CONduit

http://conduit.sfcon.org/

CONduit is coming up fast. If you’re in Utah, come on out and say hi.  Most every fantasy and sci-fi author in Utah will be there, and there’s a mess of us.

The Adventures of TOM STRANGER: Interdimensional Insurance Agent

Washington D.C.

Earth #345-B-98081

October 5th, 2012

 President Baldwin surveyed the Whitehouse underground war bunker.  The greatest minds in the country were gathered here, appropriate for their greatest time of crisis.  It had only been two days since a hole had been torn between worlds, but already all of Europe and half of Asia had been conquered and consumed by the slimy purple bastards.  

The Secretary of Defense stood at the front of the room, giving the most important PowerPoint presentation in human history.  SecDef had even worn his nicest eye patch.  It was the black one with the embroidered USMC bulldog on it.  The fate of all mankind rested on the decisions that would be made in this room in the next few minutes. So of course, Powerpoint wasn’t working.  They’d wasted ten minutes trying to get it running.

“Piece of ****! ****-knuckle **** pot!” the SecDef shouted as he kicked the projector. “What’s the deal, Ed?”

“It says it suffered a fatal error,” the Secretary of Education said as he poked ineffectually at the keys.

“Fatal error?” SecDef drew his .45.  SecEd was smart enough to get the hell out of the way. “I’ll show you a fatal error!” POTUS covered his ears just in time as the computer exploded in a very satisfactory manner. The Secret Service detail was used to these kinds of outbursts, and barely raised their collective eyebrows.

Tom Stranger had a seat just behind POTUS.  He leaned forward to whisper, “It doesn’t really matter which dimension you’re in, Windows still does that.  There’s even one Earth where Bill Gate’s cyborg head is god-emperor, and they’re still forced to use Vista.”

POTUS shuddered at the thought.

“**** squat **** son of a ****monkey!” SecDef grumbled.  “I’ll do this the old fashioned way!” He snapped his fingers and two generals and an admiral brought in a dry-erase board.  “Dismissed **** stains!” SecDef bellowed as he drew a dry-erase marker from his dry-erase marker holster. He popped the cap and started drawing stick figure versions of the alien invaders.

“They call themselves the Horde of Righteous Purification, but they don’t talk much, because they’re usually too busy eating babies!” SecDef deftly drew a frowny face on one of the blobs.  Then he thought better of it and drew a bunch of sharp teeth as well.  “They travel from planet to planet. They face-**** the ever livin’ **** outta that planet, eat everything, steal all the resources, and then stick a black hole in the core before they leave, just to be dicks about it!”

“Have we tried negotiating with them?” the Secretary of Health and Human Services asked.

POTUS groaned. He didn’t really know what Health and Human Services did.  “Duh. You think I’m stupid, Tina? Of course we did. But they ate the ambassador. And then they ate the Secretary of State. Then they ate his dog. We even tried playing the keyboard, like in that one movie with the mash potato mountain, but they ate John Tesh too. John Tesh and his keyboard! I’ve depopulated half the state department. It was like an all-you-can-eat bureaucrat buffet,” POTUS sighed.

“But what if we were nice to the—“

SecDef hurled his dry-erase marker at the SecHeHum. “Shut your pie hole, hippie!” Sadly, because he only had one eye, he lacked depth perception and struck the Press Secretary in the nose. But SecHeHum hid under the table just in case. Victorious, SecDef drew another marker from his holster, purple this time, and continued his briefing.  “The Horde lives for war. They’ve been biologically augmented for the last million years to be perfect killing machines. They don’t have tanks. They are tanks!” He colored the many tentacles and murder sparklers and eye ball cannons purple.  “Their air power is made up of giant purple pterodactyls, with scramjets for buttholes. They fart themselves to mach 4 and sexually assault F-22s!”  He switched to red to draw flames as little stick figure human soldiers were crushed mercilessly beneath the tentacles. “Their vats grow a fully combat effective Death-Mauler in ten minutes!” SecDef made explodey noises as he drew. 

POTUS spoke up. “And you don’t even want to know about their Harvesters!”

“What do they Harvest?” the Secretary of Agriculture asked suspiciously. He knew a thing or two about harvesting.

“SCROTUMS!” SecDef shouted.

Every man in the room cringed and crossed their legs protectively. “Nuke ‘em!” screamed SecEd as he pounded the conference table. “Nuke the **** out of them!” 

The room began to chant “NUKE! NUKE! NUKE!”

“That’s the spirit!” SecDef answered. “Too bad we’ve been nuking them left and right since breakfast. France is now a glass parking lot with permanent nuclear winter so the Horde went ice skating on it!  They are immune to radiation, bullets, electricity, disease, lava, and personal insults. We’ve tried everything. They sweat nitro and sneeze acid, and when they’re not killing, they’re practicing killing, or sharpening things so they can do some stab-killing! They exist only to blow **** up…” he trailed off, a single tear forming in his good eye. “My God, they’re beautiful.”   

The greatest minds available began to panic. Which was understandable, since half the world’s population had died in the last twenty-four hours, but it was an election year,  POTUS knew he needed to get this situation under control, right the hell now, so he stood and flung his chair across the room. He went through a lot of chairs that way, but it got the point across. He’d risen to fame and popularity by playing a decisive man of action during the five seasons of the #1 most successful Libertarian Space Cowboy show to ever air on TV, so everyone knew not to screw with him. The room grew quiet. “Ahem… That’ll be all R. Lee.”

SecDef didn’t hear. He was drawing a bunch of little stick figure army men and saying “No. Not my scrotum!” in a very high pitched voice. Sadly, the purple blob thing got them. “AAHHHHH! NOOOO!”  Deep voice; “This will look good on my trophy necklace.” Then more exploding noises.

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” POTUS spoke calmly. “This situation is under control. All is not lost. Allow me to introduce Tom Stranger.”

“Your reality took out a policy with my company back when John Wayne was president,” Tom walked to the front of the room, passing out business cards the entire way. 

TOM STRANGER

INTERDIMENSIONAL INSURANCE AGENT

“Interdimensional insurance?” the Treasury Secretary asked. “What’s that”

“It’s just like home owners insurance, but for events relating to rifts between realities,” Tom answered.

“Are you the guys with the cute little gecko?” SecHeHum squeaked from beneath the table.

“No,” Tom said.  “That’s Geico.”

“What about the duck?” a Secret Service Agent asked.

“No. That would be AFLAC.”

“What about that weirdly attractive red headed woman with all the makeup who lives in that somehow Orwellian white room?”  the other Secret Service Agent asked.

“Flo?” POTUS asked. “Damn, yeah, she is hot.”

“No,” Tom answered as he adjusted his bowtie.

SecDef looked up from his dry-erase massacre. “Cartoon secret agent chick that fights robots?”

Tom shook his head sadly. “ I’m afraid my firm does not have any sort of attractive, ironic, or humorous mascots. What we do, however, offer is a full line of interdimensional insurance services. Since this Horde incident originated on Earth #789-Alpha-12567, they fall under your extended Space Marauder Protection. We’ll just need to fill out some paperwork, and by paperwork, I mean blowing up a bunch of aliens, but we’ll get this all wrapped up in no time.” The room breathed a collective sigh of relief. Tom had been voted number one in customer service for three years running.

“So there are other Earths?” SecAg asked.

“Every time a Planck event warps the geodeosynergy matrix, a Thorne Conundrum will cause an alteration in Hawking space,” Tom said happily. When SecAg looked at him blankly, Tom realized he needed to tone it down for this universe’s Cow Lord. “Yes, a whole bunch of Earths. A different one for every decision ever made.” 

POTUS whistled. That was a lot of Earths. There was an Earth where he’d had oatmeal for breakfast, and he didn’t even like oatmeal. “So what happened to 789 whatever?”

“Sadly, that version of America hadn’t kept current on their policy and they were harvested. It was a strange planet. You see, they spent all their budget on odd things, like tarps, or buying perfectly good cars so they could destroy them so they could buy new cars, or acorns, or Canadian style healthcare.”

“What’s a Canadian?” Secret Service Agent #1 whispered to #2. #2 shrugged. Whatever it was, it sounded silly.

 “I wonder how they could possibly have gotten in such bad shape?” POTUS asked. “We were doing awesome until that whole invasion thing.” 

“In that horrible reality, Firefly was cancelled after just one season your Excellency,” Tom Stranger explained.   Everyone present recoiled in horror.  Tom was used to the shocking variations between alternative worlds, but because of his extensive travels, he was extremely knowledgeable. “There was never a Libertarian Space Cowboy revolution. You were never elected. Instead the Republicans ran a senile version of Colonel Tigh and the Democrats won, with, what I believe was Steve Urkel.”

“Impossible!” SecDef shouted. “Lies!”

“You have a show on their History Channel where you shoot watermelons with machineguns. Only you didn’t have the eye patch.”

SecDef put on his war face. “OooRah! ****in’-A. Now that would be sweet!”

Tom Stranger nodded. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have work to do. Thank you for picking Tom Stranger for all your interdimensional insurance needs.” He clapped his hands twice and his giant robot battle suit crashed through the bunker wall. The twenty-foot tall velociraptor-shaped monstrosity of plasma weapons and bio-armor had a single bumper sticker between its death ray and the napalm sprayer. It read; You’re in Strange Hands with Tom Stranger.

“Thank you, Tom Stranger!” POTUS shouted, climbing on the conference table and lifting one fist heroically into the air. “America! **** yeah! Coming again to save the mother-****ing day, yeah!” he quoted from the National Anthem.

Tom leapt into the cockpit of his battle suit just as his cybernetic implants kicked in. “It’s time to kick some ass and adjust some claims.”

TO BE CONTINUED…  EDIT – Here in fact:  A message from Stranger & Stranger http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2010/05/24/a-message-from-stranger-stranger/

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