Evidence 101

EVIDENCE 101...Wherever you go, there you are...







Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Good morning, America!

I hope you said that title in Robin Williams voice. You know, the one from Good morning, Vietnam. 

Are you over my radio silence or just getting used to the slumber? 😍😎😜

Some huge political happenings going on out there. I'm sure you have kept up with the latest and greatest. BUT...you sure haven't had my spin. My spin matters, right? Right. Well, not really. It is just out there to chew on.

First-Strzok. I did not like him very much. In fact, I thought he revealed himself as an arrogant narcissist who thought he was above the law. I believe people can separate their political bias as cops and get the job done objectively. However, he did not convince me that he did that nor did he convince me that he wasn't up to something nefarious. I just did not believe those explanations, although they were good ones. I think they were taken out of the same playbook as James Comey. Strzok's facial expression and emotional fits in the hearing were things nightmares are made of and frankly, I think he views himself as above the law, although he will convince you he is a saint. 


Additionally, his mother should be ashamed of how he talked to Congress, talked over people, and grandstanded. There is a time to defend your honor and there is a time just to ask and answer. Well, he was a  💩💩💩. That's a triple threat poop if you don't speak emoji. 

Congressmen and women both were out of hand as well. It was a circus. Lots of chaos. For the average bear such as myself, it was highly entertaining, but disturbing at the same time. It was like a train wreck. I could not look away. By some media reports, I wonder if they were watching the same thing I was because their spins were wild representations. Others were factual. LOTS OF OPINION pieces out there. So, there is bias and there are different perspectives. Some times the two blend. 

This leads us to the events of yesterday: Trump and Putin. I really do not know what to make of it other than 2 awkward meetings where I felt Trump looked out of place and had no command presence. Before yesterday was the meeting with Queen Elizabeth. The Queen thing was just comical. 

The meeting with Putin, not so much. Putin looked so fierce I swear I can see the evil in his face. Trump looked uncomfortable and intimidated. Those are just my cop observations. As far as the content: rehearsed and spontaneous. 




One of the most profound things Trump said at Helsinki was, "I would rather take a political risk in pursuit of peace, than risk peace in pursuit of politics.

However, did that get lost with his words of believing Putin over US intelligence. I would never trust Putin as far as I could throw him. Or it didn't get lost, but got twisted into something nefarious. Either way, it is a great historical statement. Credit is given when credit is due.

I do not like some of the things which went down at the summit, but do I think it is the fall of the United States? No. Do I think it is treasonous? Not in my assessment, but I do not count.

Those are really strong words. Here we have countless Americans who do the same including celebrities and they are never called treasonous.

Let's look at the dictionary definition: involving or guilty of the crime of betraying one's country. Dictionaries do not make the statute definition.

Let's look at the legal definition by US Constitution, Article III: "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court," the Constitution says. This requires a high burden of proof. Additionally, the US and Russia must be at war for this to hold true and for the conditions to be met.

Did he betray his country by saying he did not trust our intelligence agencies? That is up to the legal experts. However, he gave more ammunition to the Mueller probe. Can aid and comfort be translated to favorable foreign policy-tit for tat-say Russian election meddling for favorable policies? Well, again that would be a high burden of proof.  Some legal minds say for this summit to be proof of treason or other criminal charges, there must be a level met to satisfy the legal means which includes evidence. Was Trump blackmailed or forced to say that as part of a deal? Did he trade election meddling for foreign favors? Well, that would certainly be grounds for criminal charges and impeachment. You can bet your britches, the Democrats are going to spin it that way. They want him out. They want control of Congress. This is the first time in history, I have witnessed long time politicians melting down. They have thrown fits, blocked appointments on either side, and refused to work together, thus stonewalling the legislature, BUT...I do not remember such a time they have reverted to childhood emotions and so many dirty tricks. 

One thing is for sure, Trump faces extreme scrutiny and backlash and perhaps needs a protocol officer and more oversight. But will he accept it? He is often known for speaking off script. I myself cannot put labels such as traitor and treason on the president's words, but I do not have to like them. I do not have to agree with him nor do I have to search every grain of sand to find a good reason why he acted that way and said those things. Some times, there is just a disparity in how a politician handles things versus what you think should happen. Well, actually, that happens a lot.

I always fall back to my sure safe, General Mattis. I am confident with his leadership in his position and the safety of the United States. 




Tuesday, July 10, 2018

TidBITS

Ronald Reagan said, "When you can't make them see the light, make them feel the heat." I am pretty sure he was speaking of law and policies. Perhaps. It really applies to us poor Heartland people. Apparently, we are getting roasted to death by Mother Nature. Poor me. It suffices to say that 75 is my optimal temperature and the scorching summer is not agreeing with me very well. 

So this means it is a good idea to jump in the lake or stay inside. Pick your poison. 

It might surprise you this is a short post today. More to follow including the latest and greatest in law enforcement news, trends, and politics.

Whichever way the wind blows for you, please enjoy these articles on Law Enforcement Today by moi! 

9 Unconventional Things About Police Leaders You Can't Learn From Books


Line Up You Lionhearted 

Lastly, we shall not forget a courageous and self-less first responder. The Thai children and their coach were all rescued. May Petty Officer Saman Gunan rest in peace. What a hero he is to the world. His sacrifice saved all. Very sad indeed. 

Monday, July 2, 2018

Interview with Dr. Travis Smith

Grab a cup of coffee or a cool drink. Sit down for a great interview with author of Superhero Ethics, Dr. Travis Smith. 
Can you give us a brief introduction (perhaps beyond your bio-something we don't know) and a little background of yourself?
I was a math/science kid growing up. I went to college to study chemical engineering originally. After working in environmental consulting for about twelve months, at what I imagined might be the most suitable job for me as an engineer, I gradually came to the realization that it really wasn’t for me. So, I transferred into the lucrative field of political philosophy.
Before I made that switch, though, I had been self-educating in the humanities. When you demonstrate an aptitude for math and science, the system seizes on that brute fact and does everything it can to cultivate those talents. Our society’s morals and economy alike value those skills so much. But something inside me told me that I was missing out on something essential, something I needed to investigate more—on my own if I had to, although a couple of high school teachers encouraged me (thanks, Ms. Forbes and Mr. McKinnell!)—if I were to better appreciate the human condition and live a fuller life. So, I would read a chapter of the Iliad in calculus class after I finished solving my differential equations for the day. I would eventually dig into German philosophy and Russian literature and learn a bit of Latin, too. I really think that the educational system does a disservice to students, and indirectly to society as a whole, when it neglects the humanities—meaning the classics—especially among students whose passions and strengths lie outside the liberal arts.
Wow. That is great! Your teachers sound like fantastic and inspirational people. Such profound things to make an impact on a high school student and so telling of what we should all aspire to. What were some painstaking moments during the evolution of writing Superhero Ethics?
The rewriting! It took me several rounds of rewriting to get the manuscript for Superhero Ethics into publishable shape—mainly because my professional training was in academic writing for a scholarly audience. Learning to write for a more general readership was a process.
Interesting. I never thought of that process. I think you have a nice blend. I can see the academia in the pages, but it also has flare to grab anyone's attention. Did you fall into any writing traps when writing Superhero Ethics?
I can tell you what my main challenges were. As I mentioned above, I had to write for a general audience, not for university faculty and graduate students. And yet, I also wanted to avoid writing in an informal style. Finding the mean between the way I would speak among scholars at an academic conference and the way I would talk over pints at the pub—that was tricky. Finding a way to communicate to readers who are learned in philosophical traditions without depending on quotations and citations from philosophical texts, while also communicating with people who don’t read philosophy either for fun or for pay—that was a challenge, too. Finding a way to communicate with hardcore comic book fans who have read as many superhero stories as I have without being pedantic, while also communicating to people who have never read comic books and may be only casually familiar with some of the summertime blockbusters—that took some figuring out as well. It was important to me not to get lost in the weeds or engage in too much inside baseball.
How do you feel when you finalized the last word? Energized or exhausted or something else?

Anxious. Several people proofread the manuscript before Superhero Ethics went to the printers. Still, I imagined some imperfections would sneak their way in. Luckily, part of the book is an argument against perfectionist tendencies. I will gladly award No-Prizes to people who discover mistakes in the text and then find ways to explain them away.
When you dove into comics when you were in your childhood, what is/are your favorite(s)? Most valuable whether memorable or monetary?
I remember devouring the Claremont/Byrne issues of Uncanny X-Men at my cousin’s house during one visit. (This book is all your fault, Brent!) A friend in elementary school let me borrow his copies of Power Pack. I grabbed new issues of Power Man & Iron Fist from spinner racks and hunted for back issues of the Walt Simonson run on Thor. In the post-Crisis DC Universe, I loved Suicide Squad and Justice League most—especially Green Lantern Guy Gardner.
I have always collected comic books for recreational purposes, not as an investment. So, I don’t have many “monetary memories” (except for the time I found a first appearance of Guy Gardner at a comic convention for 75 cents, back when cons were held in dimly-lit smoky basements). As a fan, though, I treasure the letter that Mike Grell sent me to answer questions I had about Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters in 1987. Just as dear are letters that James Kochalka wrote to my son, who, at the age of five or six, had submitted Johnny Boo fan art to him. (To your readers with young children, I cannot recommend the Johnny Boo series of books strongly enough.) Ryan North—who writes The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, my favorite series from Marvel in recent years—recently retweeted an article I published about superheroes on Entrepreneur.com. That was a big geek-out moment for me.
Very cool! Those are very special moments and memories. What kind of research did you do for this book? I can tell some from the book, but was interested in methods and time frame as well.
I watched and rewatched a lot of superhero movies. I read and reread a lot of comic books. I found articles like “The 100 Superman stories you must read!” online and then tracked down key issues. Also, to make old ideas and arguments seem relevant and familiar to my students, I make a lot of pop culture references during my lectures. I gathered those together and expanded on them, drawing on modern and ancient sources alike. Then I had to find something thematic in each character to base my analyses on. It all took longer than expected.
I cannot imagine the brain work involved with all that. Reading the book, I was fascinated with the analytical components. What was purposely left out or edited out of the book?
My editors reined in the nerdy side of my sense of humor. We didn’t want the book to sound like an episode of The Big Bang Theory. We also cut out references to recent events from the daily news cycle, aware that they would date the book quickly.
Ok. That "nerdy side of my sense of humor" made me laugh out loud. I can relate. The edits on the daily news cycle is an interesting take on it and I agree, it could date it but what was included was timeless comparisons to societal issues. Reading it today, it mimics today. Reading it tomorrow could very well be relate-able even though you don't mention particular events or trends. Was it always these particular 10 superheroes?
My original proposal included dozens of characters worth considering. But a decision was made to focus on characters familiar to the general public rather than obscure characters that only comic book readers know and love. This meant that I did not write a book about my personal favorites. I had to pair characters up, too, pitting them in battles in which each hero was distinctive while each pair shared a commonality. Regrettably, some important characters who warranted greater consideration weren’t given the extensive critical assessment they deserve.
There are places in Superhero Ethics where I suggest that characters who are not allotted feature spots might actually be more praiseworthy than those who are. One friend read the book and remarked, “So, you’re really saying that the Invisible Woman is the best superhero?” Maybe. I mean, in telling the story of the Ring of Gyges, Plato suggests that invisibility represents the ability to do whatever you want, however wrong, and always get away with it. To have someone defined by the power to commit the worst injustices, and yet she only uses that power for good—wow, right? Plus, in the Biblical tradition, invisibility is associated with the mysteriousness, immensity, and ubiquity of divine power. It’s no wonder that Francis Bacon placed so much emphasis on gaining knowledge regarding the invisible winds, and therefore power over them. Come to think of it, weather control is a popular infatuation among supervillains, too.
That is insightful. I never thought of invisibility like that, but what a great comparison. What phrase of the book are you most proud of? Chapter?
Phrase? “Global governance is for supervillains.”
Chapter? I think my examination of Tony Stark hits the mark. Think about how the most troubling scene in Avengers: Infinity War is when Spider-Man “dies.” To me it wasn’t disturbing just because it was heartbreaking to see young Peter Parker fret about his own undeserved demise. It was disturbing because he was practically praying to Tony Stark—the embodiment of the technological mindset and technological might in the Marvel Cinematic Universe—to save him. Peter Parker should not be praying to Tony Stark.
I happen to like your favorite phrase and it echoes problems today. I think that part of your book showed the breakdown in a super power in that their spirit can be crushed to a point of weakness just as if they were ordinarily human. Just my take, anyway. What do you want your readers to gain or take away from reading Superhero Ethics?
Philosophy is not only for snooty elitists. And pop culture shouldn’t be sneered at by those who think they’re too sophisticated for it. In order to make his arguments about the best life and the just society, Plato himself had no compunction about looking at the stories that Homer and the other poets told about heroes and villains. If you enjoy popular culture today and would like to think about it in a more philosophical way, then Superhero Ethics is the sort of book that can help get you started. If you are the kind of person who wonders, “what kind of role models should we give our children?” or “what kind of person should I try to imitate?”—and you’re curious about what responses can be found in popular culture today—then Superhero Ethics offers some suggestions and admonitions.
I like that takeaway. Did you get hijacked by certain characters where you wanted to go further into their complexities but kept it to a certain depth?

I had to hold back on Green Lantern. Until I became partial to Ms. Marvel (now Captain Marvel, coming to movie theaters in 2019) around fifteen years ago, the Green Lantern corner of the DC Universe was my favorite thing in all of comics.
The Green Lantern. It isn't easy being green. Well, that's what Kermit said anyway. I read a lot of the green lantern in the 70s version I never would have guessed that, but now I will have to watch and read differently to grasp that. What chapter did you put your most effort into and why?
My polished draft of chapter four on Captain America and Mister Fantastic was almost twice as long as what was published. We had to pare it back.
Oh geez. Now we are all going to be curious about what we missed. What is next?
I am presently preparing notes for a bonus chapter on Wonder Woman and Black Panther.
Interesting mix. Anything you would like to add you feel is important that I did not ask.
Modern society is designed to reduce our need for heroes and suppress the impulse toward heroism. “Don’t try be a hero” is generally regarded as good advice for everyone to follow nowadays. But the appeal of superhero movies is evidence that we cannot shake our admiration for the heroic. Modern society tells us to focus on our material interests and busy ourselves with satisfying our appetites, but we cannot help being moved by considerations of the noble and the honorable. Superhero Ethics is in part a reflection on tensions like these within our society.
I appreciate this opportunity to talk behind-the-scenes about Superhero Ethics. Thank you, Momma Fargo. I’m glad you enjoyed the book.
Thank you, Dr. Smith! I enjoyed this insight and getting to know more of the backstory!
**********
You can grab your copy of Superhero Ethics on Amazon! You won't want to miss it!

About the Author:

Travis Smith is the author of Superhero Ethics (Templeton Press). He received his PhD from Harvard University and is associate professor of political science at Concordia University. He has been collecting comic books since he bought Uncanny X-Men #207 with his allowance in 1986. His writing has appeared in the Weekly Standard and Convivium Magazine. For more information, please visit https://www.templetonpress.org/books/superhero-ethics

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Superhero Ethics: 10 Comic Book Heroes; 10 Ways to Save the World; Which One Do We Need Most Now?

There are many authors who take me by surprise. Dr. Travis Smith is one of those. Recently, I dove into a good read:

Superhero Ethics: 10 Comic Book Heroes; 10 Ways to Save the World; Which One Do We Need Most Now?

 

I really did not know what to expect. I thought maybe it would reveal who was the best comic book hero we all grew fond of in our heart of hearts. The convergence and divergence of the comparisons kept me flipping the pages.

Is this the answer to the great debate of which superhero should be on top?

You might have to stick around for the contest to find out.  I found it endearing that Dr. Smith also unveiled his humanitarian side blended with a political strategy with a dab of common decency. You have to read it to understand what I mean. Perhaps I should explain more clearly, but I do not want to give out spoilers.

Superheroes have shaped and inspired us to cheer for good over evil. But you know, some of those supervillains were just so bad. Their additions made the stories so good.

Readers will discover brilliance and a unique perspective reflecting a hidden humanity mixed with nonhuman abilities. Smith dives into the complexity of several characters and bounces the internal conflicts each one possesses with societal comparisons. It feels like a twist and kneading of the perfect mix for a win. But can you do that? Superheroes are all so different with individual skills and abillities.

Furthermore, Smith demonstrates superheroes have a larger purpose than just entertainment value. Sure, we all see glimpses of these hero types in ordinary people during extraordinary moments captured by someone and displayed in the media.

But superheroes are more than that. They really stimulate the action junkie inside you. You want to be in their shoes. You want to be cheered by the people with your crime fighting capabilities.

I wanted to be them. You want to be them. We all wanted to be them. Right?

So what about the human parallels? Superheroes are imperfect. Sometimes it was frustrating, but that made us love the drama more. Even Superman was flawed with his weakness of kryponite which could symbolically resemble a human vice.

When Smith compares beasts such as The Hulk and the Wolverine, he writes,"As we will see, Wolverine's need to defend the innocent and act honorably in a social setting contrasts with Bruce Banner's desire to live separately from society, protecting others by isolating himself from stimuli that might engage his rage."  They are opposites but still the end goal is the same. Maybe that is why they all get stuck together in some adventures.

Smith goes on to explain the Wolverine is a deliberate fighter whereas The Hulk comes by being a hero through opportunity, unintentionally. Both characters struggle with internal clashes, but still persevere against evil and try to right a wrong.

The Hulk and Wolverine are dangerous and dark in the stories. They have savage responses which are sparked usually by anger and out of control emotions. In the same sense, they can somehow harness that aggressive behavior into a product they steer which can fight for the good.

As we grow with each superhero's story, they evolve almost with some sort of similar reality as a mortal. It is important for fans that there is a moral to the episodes, comics, or movies in which is relatable to everyday societal problems or futuristic chances of peril.  Perhaps it is social decay almost on the brink of destruction rescued just in time by Batman and Robin. Maybe it is a strong single woman saved from a horrific death and left to admire her savior while she uses her networking to help defend the world and aid her superhero crush. Don't forget about the characters who are on the fine line of going rogue but somehow turn to good choices.

Superhero Ethics is definitely a unique approach to human conflicts, behavior, and morality issues with an academic spin. I found it fascinating to read about all the angles Smith brings to the surface.

As he suggests, maybe Batman has more in common with Lex Luthor. Nah. I can't go there. He despises Lex Luthor. Batman still feels it is his responsibility to save Gotham City. He gives to needy causes as Bruce Wayne and intrigues us with the highest technology and secret black veil to disguise him as the dark of night.  Who could dismiss that raspy voice? He's just too good to be so bad.

Dr. Smith brings many viewpoints to the table which really spark a conversation as to which character is best. As a great author, it is designed to reach your imagination. Explore, through each chapter, the comparison to our own human conditions.

Travis Smith is associate professor at Concordia University where he teaches political philosophy. He remembers seeing Superman: The Movie with his dad on the big screen at the age of five. He has been collecting comic books since he bought a copy of Uncanny X-Men #207 in 1986 with his allowance from the racks at Stan's Variety. For over thirty years, Travis has made a weekly stop at his local comic shop on the day new comics are released to pick up the books on his pull list--from Comic Connection in Hamilton, Ontario, while he attended McMaster University, to the Million Year Picnic in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as he earned his doctorate at Harvard University, to Major Comics in Montreal, Quebec, the city where he now teaches Hobbes, Tocqueville, Plato and Aristotle by day, and fights crime by night.


Superhero Ethics is a fun read with very deep analytics. Heck, you should expect fantastic stuff from someone who received their doctorate at Harvard.  He does not disappoint. This is a book with profoundness and fascination. Great fun!

Stretch your imagination while you dive into the complexity of the character contrasts. I think you will find Smith is really on to something beyond the normal examinations.

I find it tricky he looks like an ordinary gentleman in his profile picture. Does he use a phone booth to change into his superhero costume? It might be what we least expect.

He even had a love for comic shops and collects comic books. That's pretty cool.

I also picked up those comic books as a kid. You might have done the same. Keep the thrills going by rushing to Amazon to pick up Superhero Ethics.  You get to psychoanalyze some of our favorites through Dr. Smith's perspective. It is so interesting and makes for a fast read because you can't put it down. You will love it!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Go With The Current

First off, I must clarify this post with that fact that people I know can stop dying now. Please and thank you. Gah. What a rough few weeks.

Sometimes we paddle upstream or against the wind. Today, I am going with the current. Flowing. Keeping up on current events. Not pushing. Letting the stream take me where it goes.

Why? Sometimes God pushes you in these directions.

I have an exciting book review coming up this week and another one next week. Yay for summer reading! I think you will be impressed and excited to add them both to reading list.

As for me, I am still pushing full steam ahead. Doing what, you might say? A lot of stuff. I feel like Cinderella construction worker. Weeding, mowing, fixing, painting, blah blah blah. My summer has been zero fun and all work. So, I hope to be able to go swimming this hot weekend perhaps. Or fishing.

I wrote a new diddy here: Squeezing the Free Speech out of Cops. Enjoy. There are those who disagree and those who agree. Start a conversation. If you want to talk it up, find the posts related to this article on Law Enforcement Today's Facebook page.

Because today's society only absorbs 6 second blips, the news in short form. To keep you current:

Kate Spade, fashion icon committed suicide by hanging herself.

No more purses for you!

You never know what goes on inside a person.

Money does not make your world perfect.

It could make mine perfect, however.

There are some blunders in the news; ie. Fox with Philly Eagles, CNN with a WH event.

Wait, when are there NOT blunders in the news?

Seriously, I am beginning to think mainstream media are all satire sites and mimic the early days of the National Enquirer.

Guatemala volcano has been a factor in deaths and missing person.

Prayers.

The EU had a big move with same-sex marriages and rights.

A Senate report is criticizing the Iran deal Obama made and stating he "misled the American people".

It does not matter what the report says, many will buy in the report because they drank the Kool-Aid.

When will Americans realize no matter your party affiliation, presidents make some little and some huge mistakes.

All of them are imperfect.

Facebook is in trouble again.

It sounds like Mark Z should be in the NFL.

I think you get several passes and still get to play.

Passes, get it?

I'm punny.

NBC news reported the Republican candidate for CA governor asked for civility in the election race while the Democrat announced Trump was the issue.

Trump is not running for governor of CA.

If he was, can he legally run two countries?

Snork.

It's just a question.

By the way, who would want that job?

For reals.

Happy hump day, peeps!




Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Blue Umbrellas of Respect

The cure to saving humanity is: be kind. There. I solved the world's problems.

So let us give a statement of the problem:

1. People are killing cops. More so than before.
2. We have school shootings. More so than before. School is out for the summer. Relief.
3. Bullying is now a policy and might become law.
4. Terrorists are prevalent in every country. Attacks usually accompany them.
5. Gas is almost $3.00 a gallon and was over that a few weeks ago. We still drive. Like everywhere. We showed them supply and demand manipulation. Not.
6. Media are part of the problem but claim to have all the answers. Yet, they lie, skew, and cheat to pass an agenda. Look at what they have taught generations.
7. We have raised entitled brats because we wanted to give them more because we had more and suffer not. Yikes. We didn't pass on the coping skills.
8. Technology took away social skills.
9. Our rights are being chiseled away all in the name of public safety. This includes all rights, not just the 1st and 2nd amendments.
10. No one suffers any consequences. Prison does not work. The justice system does not have punishment fit the crimes. Reform is just a word.

11. Chicken Little used to be a moral of the story. Now it is the way of the world.

I could go on. But those are some basic observations. Amidst all this doom and gloom, I found some hope of humanity and respect left in our nation. Where? At a baseball game.
Respect.



Thursday, May 10, 2018

Breaking Curtis

It was an old building in disrepair. No one would know we were there. The clicking of my boots on the 70's tile flooring was far from stealthy. He knew when I approached the room with no hint of surprise. I wondered if he counted my steps and knew from my stride how tall I was, whether I was a man or a woman, and if I was mean or gentle. The door creaked as I opened it carefully to monitor my subject. Only emergency lights were on and the room was dimly lit. I had to fix that. If I was going to meet my match, I had to look him in the eye. 

[click the overhead light on, move the chair aside]

His books reflect a brilliant mind. I had to know more. Like...what makes him tick? What secrets does he NOT want us to know? The Grey Man series gives us insight into John Cronin, the ornery law man. Rimworld is about sci-fi on a whole new level. And then...there is Calexit. 






"Good evening, Mr. Curtis. Hope no one was too rough on you. I have several questions I would like to ask you. Can I get you anything? Coffee? Tea? Whiskey? A fine micro-brew, perhaps?"

"I'm fine. Let's get on with this."

"Ok, then. No need for introductions and pleasantries. I'm familiar with you and you know what I let you know about me. We're somewhat on the same page. Where do you get your ideas? Are they drawn from real life experiences and people or total imagination?"

"Most of them are based in reality. Or at least reality as 'I' know it... Like the characters, they are composites of incidents that may roughly resemble real life."

"Ah. The famous Curtis riddles. What do you mean by 'reality as I know it'?"

"My reality". 

"Yes, I know. But what do you mean? Describe some of your reality."

"You wouldn't understand." 

"Try me."

"No."

"Well, then just entertain me."

"Next question."

"Getting words out of you is going to be a task, eh? That's Ok. I'm used to people playing hardball. Does writing making you energized or send you into exhaustion?"

"It depends... Writing I enjoy, editing and roofpreading drive me nuts!"

"Roofpreading? What is roofpreading? A new term? Is it a device? An operational tactic?"

"Proofreading. Damn Auto Correct!"

"Mr. Curtis, we are chatting. Auto Correct does not apply."

"It's my reality."

"Well, keep roofpreading a secret then. We will get the codes!"

 [slams The Grey Man Twilight down on the table] 

Do you ever get writer's block? What do you do to overcome it if you do?"

"I always have more than one book going at a time. If I get stuck on one, I will switch gears and move to another book until the muse decides to come back and play in the right place."

"Seriously? How do you do that without hurting your brain? My mind can multitask, but several authorship works at once? You need more captains to man those ships."

"I'm retired. I write. I shoot guns. I attend things."

"Attend 'things'. Like gardening? Animals?"

"I 'attend things' not 'attend to things".

"Semantics.The Grey Man series is set in a western culture. Why western law enforcement? What brought you to that setting while planning your series?"

"Growing up spending summers in that part of the country, and a lifelong respect for law enforcement. And I know a number of old retired Deputy Sheriffs... :-)."

"What does colon, dash, parenthesis mean? Is it a secret code?"

"It's a smiley face with a nose."

"I realize that when I look at it. But when you speak it, it makes no sense. Why would you say that? Why wouldn't you just smile?"

"Because you emailed me these questions.We aren't really having this conversation."

"But I'm talking to you now. Oh, I get it. Spy stuff. Right. Right."

[groans, rolls eyes]

"Your Rimworld series is a fascinating series. It reminds me of The Twilight Zone in the new century mixed with a new spin. How did this come to be your creation and what inspired it?"

"Actually, it was a challenge from LawDog and Peter Grant. They wanted me to branch out. Hence the Rimworld short story, from a maintainer's point of view. And I spent a dozen years working around and with some brilliant scientists at various Applied Physics and Applied Research Laboratories. So I try to mix in the possible with things that I've never seen 'covered' in science fiction. I try my best not to do handwavium, but go for the art of 'possible'. And do a lot of research."

"Research. Tell me more about that. He must have been a good dog if you named him LawDog. Followed the rules. I don't get how he challenged you, though. At least, I am assuming it is a boy dog. How did you interview a dog? Do you have to ask it yes and no questions? Do you have this on video? Is it part of the laboratories?"

*blink*blink*

 "Ok, So now we get to the laboratories. Interesting. What goes on in there?"

"It's classified."

"No, it's not. You are just telling me that so you don't have to talk about it."

"I just don't really want to answer your questions."

"Come on, Mr. Curtis."

*crickets*

"It's Ok. I will find out another way. I am quite intrigued by Calexit. We certainly cannot brush off the unique problems going on in California. Did the Jefferson Movement have anything to do with this take off? Or is is all your political twist close to plausible reality?"

"Sadly, the Jefferson Movement is a small 'logical' part of it. The rest is based on logical extensions of what is currently happening in California today, based on the past fifteen years of actions by various administrations (and I was stationed out there three times, twice in the 1970's, again in the late 1980's, and I worked out of California in 1997-1998."

"Go on."

"That's it."

[shaking my head]

"Do you think someone could be a writer if they don't have a passion or emotion for life, writing, stories, or reading?"

"I really don't have a good answer... People can and often do have strange passions, in strange directions that take them down much different paths than their careers might predict."

"Hey, stay on track. We are not talking about my life. This is about you. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? Why or why not? Are there any secret works out there from JL Curtis?"

[Mr. Curtis laughs out loud]

"No I haven't. I figure JL is enough of a pseudonym."

"How do you select the names of your characters?"

"Random name generator, or for different ethnicities, name lists from the web."

"Huh, interesting.  What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?"

"Editing and roofpreading. For 30+ years, I wrote technical documents and test plan documents. Grammar and punctuation are NOT strong suits in those. Now days, it takes almost as long to do those two editing steps as the actual writing. I am blessed with excellent alpha and beta readers who are NOT shy about criticism, and I relish that. They deserve a lot of the credit for the quality of the books!"

"Aha! You mention it again. Is roofpreading where you throw someone off the building if they don't tell you what you need to know? You read them on the roof? Is it Chinese accent for roof pleading? Like pleading for their life? On the roof? Dangling?"

"I have no idea what you are saying."

"That word."

"I just typed it really fast. It's supposed to be proofreading. I hate proofreading! Are all of you this hard headed? There is nothing secret here. It is proofreading!!!!"

[pause]

"And..."

"And what?"

"I was waiting for the Sgt. Hans Schulz to come out in you...'I know nossink!'"

[groans]

"Is this almost over?"

"I will break you, JL Curtis."

"I know. That's what I'm afraid of."

"Do you feel gut wrenching pain when you have to cut something out of your books? Do you save it for another time and table the idea?"

"I never throw anything away. I save it in a pieces/parts file. I may have to file off the serial numbers, or change characters, but those bits can come in handy. The SASS segment in book 5 was actually written in 2015! It took three years to find a home."

"Where are those secret files kept? The password?"

"What secret files?"

"The pieces you keep. With the stuff. The bits! When you were in Area 51, did you touch the alien bodies? Do they feel like alligator skin or spongy? Are their eyes really that big?"

"What? Area 51 has nothing to do with this. The files. On my computer. They are not secret files. They are parts I don't use on one book and might on another."

"So you say. But it came from your head, right? Do you Google yourself? Why or why not? Do you ever look around the internet to see what people are saying about your books?"

"Not really. I get plenty of direct feedback, both positive and negative directly from the readers. Occasionally, friends will point out reviews, especially the one stars! Those tend to actually sell more books!!!"

"Well, if you are so passionate about one stars, I will give you a few under some fake profiles.Do you pay attention to your reviews? Have you gotten a negative one? Well, I assume so, if you like the one stars. If so, how did that affect you?"

"I generally look at the trends. There are always people who will not like what you write. Or feel they have the right to pick it apart for (insert reason here). I figure if 75% of the readers like it, I'm good. "

"75%? That's a C. You have to do better than that. You are a man of few words, Mr. Curtis. Anything you would like to add?"


"It's been an interesting ride! One of the first rejections I got said I'd never sell 200 books if I vanity published it myself. I topped 10,000 total sales last month, and I'm happy with that, considering it's all Indie, no real advertising other than blogs and Facebook, and word of mouth. I would just say this, the only way to be a writer is to write! All the books in the world don't help, it comes down to sitting in front of the computer, or pad of paper, and putting words on 'paper'. And doing that day after day. Much like 'new' technology, it doesn't happen overnight, contrary to what one may be told. It's grinding along in obscurity, networking, and being willing to accept criticism of your 'baby' that will eventually end up with a written novel."

"Well, I am very happy about your writing success. I just wish you would publish those great adventures you keep inside your steel trap. They have to be fascinating!"

"I prefer the series I have going on now. Much entertainment still to be formed!"

"Guards, take him away. We got what we needed out of him.Drop him off at the hotel. Make sure he isn't ruffled up and looks presentable. We don't want people to get the wrong idea.I am going to have to get on Amazon and pick up some more copies of Curtis's books. Everyone of you is going to read them. We will find it! It's code in there somewhere!"