The Capitol Coup, the People Power Revolution that Failed

Still thinking about the attempted Coup on January 6, 2021, about the Nazification of the Republican/Right wing, and the consequences going forward.  It ain’t pretty.

One of the defenses that Nazis are raising is to deny it was a Coup attempt at all. This particular party line is that it was a simple riot. Hell, it wasn’t even a riot, it was just a demonstration, a ‘First Amendment Protest’ that got out of hand. Watch for that little descriptor by the way, that’s probably going to be pushed really hard on the right.

“First Amendment Protest” as if anyone in that crowd was thinking of the first amendment as they tried to overthrown Congress.

But the Nazis have the shadow of an argument?  Is it a real coup if it’s such a badly organized shit show?  Aren’t coup attempts supposed to involve the Army, or at least professionals rather than semi-literate cosplayers and fat guys in T-shirts? Look at them, they just wandered around tasering each other accidentally, pooping in hallways, and stealing letters from Nancy Pelosi’s desk! How do we call that a coup attempt.

Well, there are a few responses.

First, history is full of half baked coup attempts by incompetent ass clowns.  Incompetence has never been a defense to a crime.

Second, it’s become pretty clear that amongst all the fat boys, the angry old farts, the real estate agents who flew in on their private jets and costume players, there were some serious people there who were really intent on damage. We know that ‘storm the capital’ was repeated 100,000 times in the month preceding, that there was an immense amount of internet planning and traffic, ranging from admonitions to bring weapons, to sharing maps. We know that people brought sledgehammers, clubs, firearms, bear spray, twist ties. We know that there was intent to kill and intent to capture and take hostages. We know that there were serious people, and dangerous asses like the Proud Boys, the Three Percenters, the Oath Takers.  Simply put:  We got lucky, Pence and the Congress people, some of them, ended up within sixty seconds or sixty feet of capture, some staff sheltered under tables behind locked doors that were hammered but not broken. If this crowd had got its hands on Pence or Congress persons, it might have gone very badly.

And finally, let’s not rule out them getting lucky and succeeding, or opening up a pathway to success.  If they’d managed to kill or take hostages, it’s a whole new ball game, particularly a hostage situation.  If they’d managed to kill or brutalize enough Democrats and marshall (or intimidate) enough loyalist Republicans, they could have forced a vote to go the way they wanted.  Hell, even the specter of enough intimidation might have swayed things.  And once these votes go through, it’s not as if the Constitution or the legislation has any provision to take back or change a vote. They might have disrupted things enough to swing the vote back to the states. Or opened the door for Trump to institute a declaration of martial law or emergency powers.  All of this is unlikely, but not impossible.  Personally, I would have said a coup attempt was impossible, and a coup attempt actually getting as far as it did would be twice as impossible.  But here we are…

So ‘First Amendment Protest’ my ass. It was a goddammed coup attempt, and anyone who says different is either a Nazi, a Nazi apologist or a Nazi ‘useful idiot.’

But still, I keep thinking it.  Assuming the scattering of really bad people who had something like focused goals and plans, what about the rest of the useful idiots?  What were they thinking?

Today I had an epiphany in terms of the goals and objectives of the Insurrectionists and how they expected to succeed.

You just have to look around – 1986 the Phillipines following the murder of Begnino Aquino, suddenly there was this uprising, this vast people power movement of thousands of people demonstrating and coming into the streets against Marcos. And he’s swept from power and sent running.

The Iranian Revolution, 1979, – people power, thousands and tens of thousands in crowds in every city, the Army refuses to fire, the Shah is thrown out of power. Russia same thing 1991, the communists try a coup, and people power runs them off, with Boris Yeltsin standing on a tank.  I can give you a handful of other examples of third world dictatorships swept away by outrage and mass demonstrations, refusal or fear of the military to suppress.

That’s what they thought – they thought they were the Vanguard of a populist revolution. They thought that they’d just sweep in there, hang or throw out a ‘corrupt Congress’, and usher in the revolution. The police wouldn’t shoot at them because the police were secretly on their side, so they weren’t going to shoot the police, or do more than necessary to get them out of the way.

They thought once they started the fire, it would catch on nationwide. That with a corrupt congress swept aside, all their secrets (cannibalism, pedophilia, whatnot) exposed, then the 75 million real Americans who all voted for Trump and believed the Election was stolen would all rise up, right across the country, mass demonstrations in all the cities, the army would refuse to fire and join them. Biden and his evil henchman would get on a stolen plane and flee to China. And puppies for everyone.

They thought that they were the leading edge of a people power revolt, and that was how the coup would succeed.

I think that everyone who went there is pretty shocked that it didn’t happen, the nation didn’t rise up, and people think they’re assholes. The reactions of some of them, particularly people caught venting about being on the know fly list is telling. They thought everyone would be applauding, and now they’re upset that no one is.

They’re also, the movement, sticking to its guns. That Washington and 50 state Capitols shtick? They’re still trying for a people power revolution. They honestly think everyone will take to the streets, and all they have to do is ‘show the way’strike the first blow.’

As video blogger B’eau From the Fifth Column’ says, they’re not sophisticated or organized enough to simultaneously launch 51 attacks. But overall, they probably think they can launch 51 public demonstrations. And maybe in a few places, attacks to inspire people and show them how easy it is, then….. revolution!

I don’t think that they appreciate the massive lack of interest in their tactics. I think they look at polls saying 81% of Republicans believe the Election was stolen, and 18% to 36% actually support the coup, and another larger percent make excuses for it. They think ‘wow, there’s a shitload of people, and even if a small chunk of them come out for us, we’ll make waves, then when people see the waves, he rest will pile on, and eventually, everyone will be with us!’

What will they do when that doesn’t happen?  When America gives a yawn and turns the channel.  When millions and millions don’t come rallying into public squares and the army doesn’t throw down it’s guns, the bad guys aren’t swept away and the millennium doesn’t come round?

(At least, I’m hoping it doesn’t happen – it’s only the 16th, and no sign of it, but wait and see).

If it doesn’t happen, then we’ll see a great disillusionment.  Some of these people will wake up and realize they’ve been sold a bill of goods.  Some of them will cling to their fantasies, but read the lay of the land, shut up and shape up because they want to keep their jobs and families.

Some of them, they’ll get bitter and mean.  Mean enough to join the crazies, or give them enough popular support, enough cover to make them truly dangerous.  A very few of them will join the ranks of the violent and murderous, that’s bad. But all by themselves, mad dogs just get hunted down and shot. I’ll waste no tears on mad dogs, two legged or four.

The worrisome part may be a bitter, resentful, radicalized subset of the population, people maintaining jobs and families, people staying out of trouble, but still nutty as a squirrel’s colostomy bag, who will provide aid and support, comfort, money, hiding places for the mad dogs.  That’s when a mad dog is most dangerous, when it’s got backing.

Because what do you do, when you throw a revolution and no one shows up? Some grow up, some move on, some get depressed…. and a few get ugl.

 

After the WFC, Reflections and Musings.

he World Fantasy Convention in Salt Lake City is over and done with, life returns to normal. Or as normal as we get these days.

I thought I’d share a few reflections.

First up, I found it really well organized. The web site was clear and easy to navigate, the portal or video conferencing system, was intuitive. I got the hang of it pretty quickly, and despite trepidation, navigated quite easily. I found what I wanted to find without difficulty, and the few times I struggled, the tech crew was understanding and helpful. Apparently they had technical glitches, as with the readings, but they coped, adapted and everything went smoothly.

Not everyone had my experience, a few of the more famous established writers seemed to struggle a little.

But personally, this was great. As far as I’m concerned, this could serve as a blueprint for online conventions.

Programming what I saw of it, was excellent. Programming started Wednesday and ran through Sunday. There was a mix of ‘professional development’ and ‘writing development’ panels. I especially appreciated the ones on finding an agent and on marketing. But all the panels were interesting and imaginative.

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Super 8 and the Mystery in Dracula’s Castle

I was watching Super 8 last night. That’s the J.J. Abrams tribute to the 80’s, and Steven Spielberg movies. It has that same sort of feel of Stranger Things. Likely because they both have the same inspirations, ET, the Goonies, kids adventures and Steven King novels.

One of the cool things about Super 8, is the movie within the movie. The kids are using Super 8 cameras to make their own little epic. The connection is tangential, their Super 8 project means that they’re in the right place at the right time to see the train wreck which marks the alien escape and the main plot.

Oddly, that reminded me of a movie I hadn’t seen in a long time. The Mystery in Dracula’s Castle. This is an oldy, it aired way back in 1973, as a two parter, on the Wonderful World of Disney. Later on in the 1980’s, the two parts were stapled together and it floated around on cable channels.

Basically, the story is that a small group of kids get inspired, and decide to make their own version of Dracula on mom’s trusty Super 8. This intersects with the “A” plot which involves a jewelry heist, when the kids decide that the lighthouse the gang is hanging out with their ill gotten jewels turns out to be the perfect location for their Dracula movie.

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Semi-Finals!

Word came in today, my novel, The Princess of Asylum, has breached the Quarter Finals, and has made it into the Semi-Finals!

That makes it one of the top five entries in the Sci Fi/Fantasy/Horror category!

Finalist will be the top entry in the category.

Grand Prize winner will be the best of all the categories.

I feel like I’m in Glen Garry Glen Ross, man oh man, one more win and those steak knives are almost in reach!

I’m officially a Quarter Finalist!

My unpublished novel, The Princess of Asylum, has officially made it into the Quarter Finals, for the Booklife Prize.  Yay!!!

https://booklife.com/prize/5/category/6

The BookLife Prize is an annual writing Contest  sponsored by BookLife and Publishers Weekly. The Prize seeks to support independent authors and discover great written works in nine categories across the two Sections. The categories in the Fiction Contest are: Romance/Erotica; Mystery/Thriller; Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror; General Fiction; and Middle-Grade & YA Fiction.

It’s a multi stage process.

Quarter Finals:   All novels submitted to the BookLife Prize will be initially judged by the professional book reviewers of Publishers Weekly. Each submission will receive an evaluation called a Critic’s Report. Each Critic’s Report consists of a brief written critical assessment of the novel, as well as a rating–on a one to 10 scale–of the book’s strengths and weaknesses in the following categories: Characterization, Plot, Prose/Style, Originality, and Overall Strength. The submissions with the 10 highest scores in each genre will move to the quarter-finals.  THAT’S WHERE I AM.

Semi Finals:  All submissions advancing to the quarter-finals will be critically assessed by the editorial staffs of Publishers Weekly and BookLife. Of the ten quarter-finalists in each category, five will be selected based on merit by PW and BookLife’s editors to advance to the semifinals in their categories. The semi-finalists will be announced on BookLife on October 22, 2020. TOMORROW

Finals:  All semi-finalist submissions will be critically assessed by a guest judge–professional book editor or bestselling/award-winning author–in each of the five categories. The guest judges will select one submission from each category to advance to the finals round. These five submissions will be the winners in each of their respective categories.  The finalists will be announced on November 15, 2020.

The Prize From the five finalists, the panel of guest judges will select one grand prize winner for the Fiction Contest with a grand cash prize of $5,000 going to the most outstanding finalist in each Contest.

So….  Today, I ride high.  Tomorrow, I may end up as just another nobody.  A has been, a second place contender.  But right now, I’m a quarter finalist, with a shot at advancing to the Semi-Finals, and perhaps further.

Who knows?  But it’s exciting, right?

Meanwhile, here’s the review, once again….

I might as well make hay while the sun shines.

Plot/Idea: 9 out of 10
Originality: 10 out of 10
Prose: 9 out of 10
Character/Execution: 9 out of 10
Overall: 9.25 out of 10

Assessment:

Plot: D.G. Valdron’s bold, funny, fast-moving fantasy The Princess of Asylum follows quick-witted actress Dae Zea Lors after the destruction of her city. Dae survives in the wasteland by improvising a series of increasingly outlandish lies and personae, convincing bandits and orgus and more that she’s, variably, a princess, or an expert in jewel magic, and eventually a priestess. The story’s scope is epic, with airships and military sieges galore, but its tone is light and its perspective intimate, always tied to Dae. Inevitably, the hero’s lies make her a leader, and she’s surprised to discover herself caring about people beyond herself. The novel opens as a picaresque, with Dae bumbling from encounter to encounter, but by the end, as the plot takes shape, readers will actually care for Dae’s world and companions. The sense of urgency that powers the novel’s final third, though, is sometimes missing in the book’s middle, especially in the occasional cases when the balance between comedy and fantasy storytelling proves uncertain.

Prose/Style: Valdron excels at both the narrative perspective of his protagonist, a savvy actress who finds being on a fantasy adventure something of a comic imposition, and at the demands of epic fantasy storytelling. His worldbuilding is memorable and unique but communicated to readers in Dae’s offhand observations; his descriptions of the fantastic or terrifying are quick and powerful. Much of the novel is driven by dialogue, as Dae improvises new selves and lies to stay alive; at times, the characters she’s hoodwinking, such are written as if they’re willing participants in a comedy routine, such as the tyrant who apologizes for scheduling conflicts with her upcoming execution. The novel’s pleasures and occasional problems rise from the same source: the tricky balance between the comedy of Dae’s improvisations and the threatening reality around her. For the most part, though, Valdron aces that balance.

Originality: It is rare for a fantasy novel to center on such an exciting new character and idea. Besides the strength of the premise and Dae’s general delightfulness, the world of The Princess of Asylum is itself original, wrought with care, and revealed in tantalizing glimpses.

Character Development: There’s no doubt about it: Dae is a character readers will love, and her wit and sensibility drive the book. She faces hard choices, makes surprising sacrifices, and movingly comes to care about more than her own life. At times, especially in the novel’s middle, the complaints and patter of Dae’s inner monologue cut against the narrative urgency, especially when she’s joking or crabbing about the book’s cast as if they’re all in a play together rather than continually facing their own deaths. At such moments, she seems not to have grown during her adventures, reverting to being a comic type rather than a fully-shaped protagonist. That makes the novel feel long, even as it’s entertaining: If she’s not taking the situations seriously, readers will be tempted to join her. The saps, villains, monsters, and occasional upstanding folks she encounter also prove memorable, driven by their own coherent but interesting motivations.

Blurb: A fast-talking actress makes her scrappy way across the wasteland, surviving by her wits — and shaping empires with her lies. Imagine a vivid high fantasy, full of beasts and sieges and cults, narrated with the wit of Anita Loos.

Date Submitted: August 14, 2020

 

Local Heroes: Daniel McMillan, Lost Temples and Deceptive Visions

The one and only time, so far, that I met Daniel McMillan was last year in Brandon.  I was giving a workshop on Copyright for the Brandon Public Library and he was one of the participants.  Even in that brief session, Daniel distinguished himself with his focused, relentless approach. He wasn’t just there to learn, he was there to write, and he was voraciously interested in everything about the craft.  Since then, I’ve been impressed by his dedication to his craft, and to his prodigious output.  Now, on the eve of Daniel’s latest novel, the exotic and intriguing  The Lost Temple of Phoketh, I’m happy to showcase him and his work…

I honestly don’t believe that not expressing one’s self creatively is even an option. Nor is it self-indulgent, and it is certainly not a luxury meant to be attempted by the creative elite. We all owe it to ourselves to unearth our passions and chase after them or, rather, allow them to come to us without being shoved away by irrational fears or feelings of ineptitude.

Writing, for me, has become like a disease for which there is no known cure. Not that I would want to be cured. I love my illness, and will never relinquish it to anyone under any circumstances. It has set a long-dormant part of me free.

I wasn’t always a writer, but at the same time, I was always a writer. I published my first book in 2017—a non-fiction book that I may someday dust off and polish, but until then will remain mine and mine alone. It doesn’t live up to my standards. Even though it would take some effort to make it into something that I would share now, the point is that I completed it and loved doing it. At the time, it didn’t matter if it was good or not. The goal was just to get it done.

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Convention Appearances!

Go figure.  Despite Covid-19, I will be making appearances at a couple of conventions, thanks to the magic of  Zoom and the intertubes.

****

San Diego Who Con 2020 

http://www.sdwhocon.com/

A Virtual Con starting today, October 9, 2020

Dr Who Fan films and other fan related creations panel –Join David Dawson from IntelleXual Entertainment, Anna Livingston, Raymond Montemayor and Den Valdron, as they talk about their work and other artistic endeavors each is involved with.

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The Squad…

This was going to be about my third horror collection, What Devours Also Hungers. The others are Giant Monsters Sing Sad Songs, and There Are No Doors in Dark Places. They’re collections of old and new stories, and with each collection, I try to explore a different subtle flavour of horror.

Giant Monsters is melancholy horror, the sadness of monsters and victims, the absence of happy endings.

Doors in Dark Places dwells in fatalism, the relentlessness and inescapability of terror.

What Devours Also Hungers is about restlessness. It’s about evil that doesn’t stand still but reaches out. It’s hungry and aggressive, even relentless. It’s the evil of predators, expansive and robust.

Or maybe I’m pulling your leg.

What Devours is fifteen short stories.  When I write these blog posts to promote these things, I try talk about some of the more interesting or significant ones.  Where they came from, how they came about, why I wrote them. Sometimes it’s personal, sometime’s it’s a writing exercise, it’s about structural challenges and the writing journey. Sometimes it’s fun stuff, or some interesting bit about the story’s history.

If you’ve read the Doors in Dark Places blog post, I’m very personal there, and I talk about the personal energy, the personal darkness and fears, that can animate and drive stories.

But sometimes, hey, a story is just a story. You get an idea, spin it, and it runs off on it’s own. There’s no deep psychological root, no personal trauma. It’s just telling a good story.

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Review: James Batman, I’m not Kidding

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this: I’ve never seen E.T. I’ve picked it up of course. It’s a cultural touchstone, and the defining movie of the Spielberg era. I just figured Steven Spielberg didn’t need my eight bucks.

I think I might be a contrarian. Sometimes where everyone else Zigs, I Zag. It’s not a point of pride. I’m not out there in a black trenchcoat, pontificating about how much better I am than all the heathen masses. Sometimes I just don’t feel the need to follow the crowd.

And I find I’m interested in the hidden gems, the diamonds in the rough, the obscure beauties, flowers growing in the concrete. There’s a gentle sweetness to these discoveries, I want to share them, not crow over them.

Which brings me to one of the stranger things I’ve run across lately: James Batman, a full length black and white Batman movie, also starring James Bond, made in 1966, currently available on Youtube, in subtitles and everything.

Let me tell you, I was shocked at the existence of this movie, and I’ve watched the Mexican Batwoman, Turkish Star Wars and Turkish Star Trek, among many other cinematic oddities. But I’d, honest to god, never even heard of this. So I was thrilled to discover it, and to be able to watch it.

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Murder in Minneapolis

As a rule, I try not to get too political on this blog. I like to talk about writing and life. Politics is messy and bitter.

Having said that, I just can’t look away from the Minneapolis fiasco, and as a basic human being I can’t help but be outraged.

I know this post may be read long after, so let me start with a recap.

On Monday, May 25, 2020, Memorial day in the United States, a deli in the Powderhorn district of Minneapolis, reported to police that a middle aged black man was attempting to pay with a forged twenty dollar bill. Four police officers converged on the scene and apprehended a man, Floyd George, who was in his car who apparently fit the description. There were two other persons in the car. It is not clear whether George was the actual person or simply fit the description. I assume that will be clarified at some point.

George was ordered out of the car, and apparently reluctant to do so. However, he exited or was removed from the vehicle and handcuffed with his hands behind his back. At some point, he fell down. From this point on, he was laying down, on his stomach, hands cuffed behind his back, with three officers on him. One officer was on his legs, another on his back, and the third, Officer Derek Chauvin, knelt with his knee on George’s neck, for roughly seven to ten minutes. The fourth officer maintained control of the scene, keeping bystanders away.

On several occasions, George complained that he couldn’t breath, claimed discomfort, and asked for help. He begged not to be killed and cried out for his mother. There was a strange conversation, where one of the officers who was physically holding George in place kept instructing him to ‘get in the car’ despite the fact that George was physically immobilized by three officers, including the one kneeling on his neck.

After begging for his life and calling for his mother he fell silent. A number of bystanders complained that the officers were killing George, there were demands or requests to check his pulse. An ambulance was called, by the time it arrived he was dead. The body was moved onto an ambulance gurney and carried away, with no apparent resuscitation efforts made on site at any point by either the officers or ambulance attendants. The officers then departed the scene in their respective patrol cars.

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