The big screed will have to wait. I have everything except a thesis. Well, I have one, but I don’t like it. Makes me feel nervous. It’s all wind-spitting anyway, but I want to stake out a position. It’s not even something I have to do; I should be working on the novel. Got up last night after going to bed and scrawled down some notes, worried that I’d forget the breakthrough idea.


That’s not a name, but it would be a good one. For certain professions, anyway. If you’re really curious about it, well, I decided to take a pal’s advice and write a Young Adult novel, which frees me up to do all sorts of things, like write a 12-book series with a premise that would never get me lunch in New York with a real editor, because it’s not a memoir about growing up a one-legged quadroon whose parents ran a fig plantation in Madagascar and converted the locals to a strange variant of Rosicrucianism that combined Freemasonry and Amway. As I warned, the Bleat will have to take a hiatus when I bang this thing out, but I should be blogging during the day at 2.0. Eventually.

A fine day; I can’t take many more of these. Just work. Writing, reading, scouring, writing, with a big MEH at the end of it all, and consequently I reach the end of the day with diminished enthusiasm for this or anything else; it’s all a long grey smear punctuated every 17 minutes with a distraction. Even the nap was pierced: the talking caller ID said CALL FROM NEVADA. (ringggg. Ringgggg.) CALL FROM NEVADA. I woke, did not stir; a prerecorded voice offered me a great deal on a cheap mortgage.  I imagined an empty bankrupt mortgage office, a few Successories posters still hanging on the wall – no one wants to take those home – with an automated phone system sitting on the carpet, dialing at random, offering the cozening rates to gullible strangers. Eventually the bills will fall behind and the calls will cease. The call ended with a cheerful reminder to call in 48 hours, and I fell back asleep.

A while ago I got a text message would have been cryptic if it hadn’t come from a Trusted Source. It said, simply, “Responsibly!” I knew this was from DB in Florida, and referred to this fellow:

The cheerful Captain Morgan of rum fame. He’d been at the conventions at summer’s end (seems like a very long time ago, they do) and had ended every exhortation to drink and PARTY with the word “responsibly!” It seemed a violation of the piratical creed. It’s like an actor dressed up as a priest to sell communion-wafer Oreos shouted “blasphemously!” with a lickerish grin. What kind of pirate are ye, who trades in temperance and warns of the morrow? I never had the interest in pirates some do, aside from enjoying the occasional good pirate movie, few of which have been made in the last ten years. (I loved the first “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie and endured the second and third like someone waiting to be pried from a car after a wreck.)

But. The other day a book appeared at the office, a review copy kindly inscribed by its author: “Empire of Blue Water: Captain Morgan’s Great Pirate Army, the Epic Battle for the Americas, and the Catastrophe that Ended the Outlaws’ Bloody Reign.” I’m taking a break from reading it right now – I’m in the church basement, waiting for Natalie to finish choir – and I would rather read it than write about it, because it is a ripping yarn.

Things I didn’t know: since they often sailed by educated guesswork, they would “deduce” their destination, and enter “de’d” in the log. Which is where we got “dead reckoning.” Buccaneers? Named after boucan, or a process of preserving meat. The Jerky Boys! The book has just enough detail to hang off the narrative without slowing it down, and it vaults across the Atlantic with nimble grace to put the pirate wars in the context of European politics. It is difficult not to burst into the whole yo-ho-ho-a-pirate’s-life-for-me now and then. Best of all: it’s not 600 pages.  I’m a third into the book, and I’m ready to book a flight to Jamaica to visit the old pirate haunts. If any of the subjects discussed above have the slightest interest, order this book. I only knew the basics of Morgan’s life before, but now I have considerable respect for the blackguard, and what it took to make his pile.  

Unrelated fun around the world: “great terror plot building up,” UK spokesperson says. I long for the day when this becomes a legitimate statement by a concerned, engaged official who is working closely with the respected, trusted President of the United States, who rarely mentions terrorism except when it’s absolutely necessary – as opposed the nutwad we have now, who forced everyone to install telescreens and required us to wear 3D glasses so we could jump up and shriek in fear when a turban-wearing jack-in-the-box sprang into our living room every fortnight. I just can’t wait to stop living in constant fear, and start living in the era of Prudent Concern. It’s coming!

In cybernews, as they might have said in 1997: objections to in-game product placement are finally silenced, as they are now used as a force for good.

In Lewis Black News, as they might have said for a brief moment a year or two ago, this clip is hilarious. I hear him all the time on my XM comedy channel, and he’s a barking misanthropist. But his dad worked for government, so heaven forfend anyone criticize government. Especially Amtrak!  The audience applauds, because he swore and got angry, which is a sign of a serious, deep person, and I look forward to his equally vociferous defense of the TSA, the CIA, and Fannie Mae.

Then a Palin question brings out his classy side. To be fair, the audience would have laughed if he'd said it about Hillary; Oh that Lewis! Plus, she got in the way there for a while. It's okay to make fun now. Within reason, of course. As he said to Entertainment Weekly when his last book - a brave attack on religion! - came out:

"The Daily Show regular sidesteps a handful of sacred cows of the sacred world, including Scientology (''I refuse to consider seriously anything that Tom Cruise believes in,'' he writes) and Islam, partly out of fear he'd have ''to go undercover. Even if it might increase the sale of books."

Guys who question whether Amtrak's difficulties relate to its management, though - rip 'em a new one, Mr. Courage.


Today: the #33 hit, by that quintessential coquette, Helen Kane.

New Minneapolis addition - two more theaters to go after this, then I'm done. By which I mean, it's on to the huge hotel update. Why? Because I must. I guess.

See you at!