I know that, Achmed thought and swatted the donkey's flanks with great vigor.
He and his brother panted as they pulled and drove the reluctant beast up the incline into the craggy foothills below the high wilderness.
-- Virgin by "Mary Elizabeth Murphy" (F. Paul Wilson) (1996)
When a two thousand-year-old scroll is discovered that reveals the final resting place of Mary, mother of Jesus, it causes a sensation. The sensation is short-lived when the ink on the scroll is dated to less than a dozen years ago. Certainly the scroll is a fake. Or is it? Skeptics and believers vie for the remains of 'the Mother" in this religious thriller of international scope that ranges from Judea to Ireland to America to the middle of the Pacific. The only novel Wilson ever published under this pseudonym, Virgin was later released under his own name. Wilson was already a well-established writer in 1996: with the science fictional/Libertarian LaNague Chronicles behind him, he had already finished his first pass at the six novels that made up his "Adversary Cycle" and would shortly come into his own with the first independent Repairman Jack novel. Virgin's publication was bookended by two thrillers written as by "Colin Andrews," Implant and Deep as the Marrow, both of which have been re-issued under Wilson's own name.
- Jeff Connor, editor, Classics Mutilated. CTRL-ALT-LIT. An anthology of 13 mash-ups for some "High-Impact Genre-Blending Mayhem." "This all new collection redefines the so-called Monster Lit movement, bring Mashup Culture and Genre Blending together in one illustrated cage match of Subversive Fiction...Snow White vs Alice...Huck Finn vs Uncle Remus vs Cthulhu...Jim Morrison vs. Edgar Allan Poe...Dr. Moreau vs Hollywood...Capt. Ahab vs the Wendigo...Sid Vicious vs Voodoo...Joe McCarthy vs Killer Frogs...and more!" Authors include Joe R. Lansdale, Nancy A. Collins, John Shirley, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Thomas Tessier, Mark Morris, Rick Hautala, Marc Laidlaw, Rio Youers, and John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow.
- Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls. YA fantasy. "The monster showed up after midnight. As they do. But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting, the one from the nightmare he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the won with the darkness and the wind and the screaming...This monster is something different, something ancient, something wild. And it wants the truth." Inspired by an idea by the late Siobhan Dowd (it would have been her fifth young adult novel; "She had the characters, a premise, and a beginning," this was the first book to win both the Carnegie Medal for literature and the Kate Greenaway Medal for illustration. Yes, the illustrations by Jim Kay are great.
- Sarah Shankman, editor, A Confederacy of Crime. An anthology of a dozen "stories of Southern-style crime." "Look past the mint julips and magnolias, the grace and good manners. Forget about the sultry drawls and the beautiful belles. Hidden behind the sweet-as-honey smiles and the 'yes, ma'ams" and "no, sirs," there's a sinister, seamy side of the South that you may not have seen -- until now...Do you know how best to react when you overhear your own flesh and blood plotting your murder? Agatha Award-winner John. Have you ever met an obituary writer with a disturbing obsession? In Terry Kay's story, you will. Do you sometimes wonder just how far a wronged widow will go for revenge? After reading Michael Malone's tale, you'll know. Have you ever been in the middle of a murder investigation in steamy Atlanta? Thomas Cook puts you there. In this collection of never-before-published fiction, twelve esteemed authors expose the shrewdest characters and cleverest crimes in the South -- where what you don't know might just kill you." Despite this less-than-sterling back cover blurb, I suspect his is a pretty good anthology with some very worthwhile stories.
Sandwich Day: Yesterday was National Sandwich Day, one of those totally made-holidays that retailers love. Alas, the restaurant chain Chick-fil-A did not love it this year. As you may know, Chick-fil-A and Popeye's have been having a "war" over their chicken sandwiches lately. Chick-fil-A has been touting their chicken sandwich by noting that they don't run out their sandwiches. For it's part, Popeye's notes the people still get hungry on Sundays (the day on which Chick-fil-A famously is closed). Any promotions that Chick-fil-A might have been considering for National Sandwich Day were blown out of the water when November 3 fell on a Sunday.
Since I am a chicken and refuse to get involved in the chicken war between these two purveyors of tasty sandwiches, I hereby offer -- one day late -- my own suggestion for a great sandwich: a spipcy, moth-watering habanaro, rum and molasses pulled pork sandwich. Try it. You'll thank me later.
The Week in Trump:
- Trump vows no more federal aid to California amid devastating wildfires. Sugguest that California should concentrate on cleaning the forest floors, harking back to his erlier theory that forest floors should be raked to prevent forest fires.
- As smugglers are seen cutting through the big, beautiful border wall with ordinary household power tools, Trump admits that "You can cut through any wall."
- Trump was booed at the fifth game of the World Series with loud calls of "Lock him up!" He was later booed at a mixed martial arts event.
- Trump went to Mississippi to try to rally the faithful for Republican Tate Reeves, who is in a tight battle for the state's governorship. As usual, the rally was more about Trump (and falsehoods) than it was about Mr. Reeves. Trump declared victory over the "Clinton dynasty, the Bush dynasty" and -- reminiscent of his false claim that Obama was not born in the United States -- "the president Barack Hussein Obama Dynasty," noting that he was "kicking the ass" out of Obama and his supporters. I don't think Mr. Trump knows the definition of the word "dynasty." Trump also went on to call Beto O'Rourke "a poor bastard," to falsely claim that Tate Reeves' opponent is a "progressive liberal," and to blast the "deranged impeachment witch hunt."
- As the impeachment inquiry is about to open its doors to the full House and the public, the president has ramped up his attacks on the inquiry and the Democrats in the House. He is also pushing to have the "whistleblower's" identity , something which is protected by law. A number of Republicans in the Senate are said to now be in agreement that a quid pro quo had happened in the notorious phone call to the Ukranian president, but that such an offense does not rise to an impeachable matter. Meanwhile, reports are beginning to circulate that there was a previous quid pro quo. Also, the action of Trump's lawyer, Rudy Guiliani, and his associates, as well as several former members of Congress are being called into question.
- Trump has indicated that the impeachment inquiry may have the effect of closing the government and that he is just fine with that.
- It was revealed that Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman had been instructed by a white House lawyer not to discuss the July phone call between Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zlensky. A number of subpoenaed witness have refused to speak and/or appear before the House committees -- several on orders from the White House.
- The transcript of the call has been moved to a highly classified server -- the NSC Intelligence Collaboration Environment, or NICE. Former Trump national security experts have said this was an unheard of move (storing presidential calls with foreign leaders on NICE), although it is believed that at least on other such transcript had been placed there by John Eisenberg, the white house's legal adviser on national security issues.
- Trump wants to print t-shirts with "READ THE TRANSCRIPT" on them in an effort to counter the impeachment probe. Trump has also floated the idea of him reading the transcript on television. The transcript in question is not a true transcript, just an edited reconstruction of the call with glaring omissions. Even so, most people consider what has been released to be damning. Trump doesn't think so and feels that this would completely vindicate him. this may be another indication that he is delusional.
- Syrian president Bashir Assad has praised Trump as "the best U.S. president. Not because his policies are good, but because he's the most transparent president."
- Trump tweeted on Saturday: "Schiff will change the transcripts just like he fraudulently made up the phone call. He is a corrupt politician!"
- Trump ordered federal agencies to no longer subscribe to The Washington Post and The New York Times.
Happy Birthday: Today is the birthday of Will Rogers (1879-1935):
The Good, No Bad, and Definitely No Ugly:
- 15 teenagers each lauded for their own projects to save the oceans from plastic pollution. https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/15-teens-awarded-for-each-launching-projects-to-protect-oceans-from-plastic/
- Seven-year-old turtle activist convinces L. L. Bean to change company policy. https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/7-yo-sea-turtle-activist-helps-change-l-l-bean-policy/
- Nurse adopts man after knowing him for two days so he could receive a heart transplant. https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/nurse-adopted-man-with-autism-so-he-could-get-heart-transplant/
- 650 volunteers help Oklahoma library to move books by forming a human chain. https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/650-people-helped-library-move-by-forming-human-chain/
- Astros baseball fans take out a large ad in The Washington Post to thank opponents for their hospitality. https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/open-letter-to-nats-fans/
- A new "anti-viral" drug proves to be highly effective in treating all flu strains in animal and human tissue. https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/antiviral-drug-treats-all-flu-strains-in-animals-and-human-tissue/
- In more than 35 US and Canadian cities Lyft is offering free rides to persons on their way to job interviews or training. https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/lyft-giving-free-rides-for-job-interviews-and-training/
- World's largest holocaust archive is making their records available to all on the internet. https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/worlds-largest-holocaust-archive-available-on-the-internet/
- After a seven-year-old boy calls police to order a Happy Meal for his sister, officer teaches him about 911 -- and brings him his food. https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/after-boy-orders-happy-meal-officer-teaches-him-about-911-and-brings-food/
Simple kindnesses...a willingness to change the world for the better...beautiful in so many ways.
Vote: Tomorrow is Election Day in many states and communities. You now what you have to do.
When I Will Be No More
Nothing will happen that had not happened
In my lifetime: sailors will
Sail the seas, the winds will howl sadly
In the branches, the ripe ear of wheat will bed towards the earth.
Boys and girls will love each other
Like nobody had
Ever loved before.
-- Dragutin Tadijanovic (1905-2007)