Tuesday, December 25, 2007

It's Christmas Eve, babe...

... and I hope that none of you are in the drunk tank.

Enjoy one of the best Christmas songs ever written, try not to cry in your eggnog during the harmonizing, and happy holidays.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The older they are, the... uh....

I'm not sure how to finish that sentence. Bloodier they shoot? Snarlier they mumble? Mulletier they mullet? Maybe you should tell me: What cliche bests describes an 82-year-old Sylvester Stallone hopping back into his headband as John Rambo?

But leaving his age aside (which I think is only fair, given the number of octogenerians who could marathon me into oblivion), who is left for Mr. Rambo to brutalize? As my friend Nikkos put it, there were really only two options: The Mexicans or the Terrorans.

But no, it's actually (DO NOT CLICK THIS LINK IF SPECIAL-EFFECTS BULLET WOUNDS MAKE YOU NAUSEATED) the Burmese--er, Myanmarese?--army. On the one hand, you haven't seen them much in the headlines lately. On the other hand, they seem to meet the 21st Century's ridiculously high bar for being horrible people.

So there you have it. An aging, principled and apparently still lethal John Rambo takes on human rights abusers. And you know what?

I think I'm gonna see it. Who's with me?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Next on Fox News:

N. Korean sub found... crew dead... Chicago author blamed....

That's right, I'm in the media. An interview in the Chicago Star-News includes a dashing picture (thanks, Christine!) and quotes that don't make me sound like an idiot.

Doyle cites the influence of Stephen King and Elmore Leonard, master novelists whose books have frequently made the transition to the silver screen. Having From the Depths turned into a movie is something that Doyle has allowed himself to dream about.

In the role of Christine Myers, Doyle envisions Grace Park, an actress best known for playing Sharon Valerii on "Battlestar Galactica." "The story is very cinematic in a lot of ways, so I think it will lend itself well to the screen," he said.

Go read it now, and forward it to Bill O'Reilly.

P.S. The event last night at the Book Cellar last night went great--a recap with pictures is in the offing.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Meet the author and ask him tough questions!

He will then mumble something under his breath, sign your book and send you on your way.

OK, OK... not really. If you come to Local Author Night at the Book Cellar on Dec. 19, I promise I will listen respectfully to all your questions and comments, answer them if I can, and write something legible in your copy of "From the Depths" if you present it to me. I might even read from the book, too.

No, I won't do voices. Sorry.

So, to recap:

WHEN: 7 p.m., Dec. 19, 2007 AD
WHERE: The Book Cellar, 4736-38 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago
WHO: Me. You. The book makes three.
WHAT: Local Author Night

Hope to see you there!

P.S. Another reminder about the contest: PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR E-MAIL ADDRESS IN YOUR ENTRY. It will not be published, but I need it to shower you with praise if you win.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

An important message from our sponsor

Actually, it's a message from me, about the contest I'm running.

Please include your e-mail address in your comment when you tell me who your favorite female protagonist is. All comments are moderated--by the great and powerful Gerry--and I promise your address won't appear on my blog, unless it's attached to your blogspot profile.

If you don't give me some way of contacting you, I have no way of getting you your fabulous prize. Let alone discussing your "The Holograms would have been NOTHING without Jem!!!!" thesis.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Contest! Prizes! Win!

Fame! Glory! Adven... ah, you get the idea.

Here's what you have to do: Post a comment on this blog entry explaining who your favorite female protagonist in literature is. Yes, comic books count.

Dr. Christine Myers and I will sift through the entries and decide which 15 are the most cleverest. The winners will receive the envy and admiration and respect of many important people. And more impressive, an autographed copy of "From the Depths." Autographed by the author, even!

So get thinkin'. The deadline for entries is Dec. 25, and all entries must include a working e-mail address (but don't worry, they won't be published. The only people who will see them are me and the CIA). Good luck!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Hunting creativity in the wild

Creativity is an elusive thing. It can hit you during your commute like the untended backpack of that guy standing in front of you. It can subtly slip ideas into your consciousness until they reach some kind of critical mass and explode... ideally someplace where you've got a pen and paper nearby.

And you can't force it, either. It's like a snow leopard--wait, hear me out. You kind of have to be patient and wait for it to come to you, and then you get the best footage in the world.

OK, so maybe that wasn't the greatest metaphor. I should have tried to be more creative.

Anyway, with "From the Depths," it was one blinding thermonuclear explosion of creativity followed by shorter microbursts, each feeding on the one before it. I tried to write every day... not just to ensure that I made progress, but because the act of writing itself seemed to let my brain cells free-associate until they came up with some good ideas.

Then they sat down, talked about it over beers, took some notes and delivered the conclusion to me.

Who then bumbled his way through putting it on the page.

One of my reporting professors in college swore that writing was best accomplished after one beer. I can buy that. Anyone else have suggestions for making the words come out prettier?

Monday, December 3, 2007

There's "get an idea stuck in your head"...

... and there's "want to stick a fork in your eye."

I refer, of course, to the unfunny, unclever and mercilessly difficult to watch Dr Pepper commerical that I was forced to watch Saturday night. And by "forced," I mean "saw during the Big 12 championship game."

It's certainly concievable that it's funny, by someone's standards, to watch what appears to be an offensive lineman take a swig of Dr Pepper and then dance around like he had just downed an entire bottle of grain alcohol. By my standards, it's a great reason to not only not drink Dr Pepper, but to do everything in my power to blot the brand name from the face of the Earth.


Sigh. Yes, I realize that by writing this I'm just spreading the ad around further. But I ask you, dear reader: Is there a point at which having a memorable spot isn't a good thing? I remember clearly spraining my ankle (thanks, Kevin!), but I have no desire to go sprain it over and over.

But Dr Pepper still is my favorite soft drink.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

There are no bathroom breaks in basketball!

Wait, actually, there are. They're called timeouts.

And yet, on national TV last night, viewers witnessed a different way of dealing with... uh... bladder issues. Don't worry, the video's not graphic or anything. But watch the bench at the lower left-hand corner and you can pretty much figure out what's going on.

Now, I'm not a fan of K-State, although I am a fan of several K-State graduates. But even if we leave out that natural enimity, I have to wonder: What the hell was he (KSU player Bill Walker) thinking? I've played sports my entire life, and I can't think of a single instance of having to "go" so badly that I "went" in front of the entire stadium.

So, yeah. Not really sure what else to add here. Except that I hope Walker never decides to eat Mexican before a game.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Can flying cars and robot maids be far behind?

Thanks to modern technology, our soldiers now won't have to exert themselves while smiting evildoers!

I have to say, I'm not sure how useful it is to have a machine assist you with weightlifting. But the whole punching-bad-guys and lifting-heavy-ammo-boxes stuff looks like it could come in handy during a war.

It's interesting. At some point--and this is a theme I touch on in "From the Depths"--it's going to be easier to improve the soldier than it is to improve the weaponry he or she carries. When that point arrives, I'm not sure we won't lose something big in the process. But on the other hand, by then we'll surely have toasters that do dishes.

Monday, November 26, 2007

We're No. 5! We're No. 5!

I know that all of you, dear readers, watched the epic game between the forces of all that is good and right (KU, freedom, the American Way) and those of evil (MU, cheap beer, kitten-stomping) on Saturday night. And yes, I know that you, like me, are disappointed at the outcome.

Kansas and Missouri players stare meaningfully into each others' eyes.

Having said that, it was a fun game to watch, and I'm man enough to say that MU has an extremely talented team and they played like it. My thoughts about the game may be found on such repositories of knowledge as phog.net.

The good news is that my beloved Jayhawks still are ranked No. 5 in the BCS standings and will be playing in a post-New Year bowl, which is fantastic for the program.

And although the Chiefs are doing their best to make everyone forget how good they were three years ago, I had a great time watching them with Longtime Friend of the Blog Adam.

Now, I have a solid month without any college football in which to concentrate on writing. Except now there's basketball on....

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Lies, damn lies, and reviews

Where would art be without criticism? Smoking a cigarette in a Manhattan coffee shop and complaining about being poor and misunderstood, that's where.

It's part of the creative process. Working in a vacuum gets you nowhere (except the aforementioned Manhattan coffee shop, which overcharges for muffins anyway). Feedback--friendly or not--makes you a better artist.

That includes writing.

So far, I've seen three reviews of "From the Depths," --in Booklist, Library Journal and Publishers Weekly--and they all had positive things to say. Of course, they all have negative things to say, too. That's what these two cliches were invented for:

-What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
-There's no such thing as bad publicity.

So, as a not-dead and publicized author, my advice to you is to do the rational thing and go buy the book, if you haven't already, to gauge how accurate the reviews were. And send them nasty letters if you'd like to register a complaint.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A touch of class for a submarine full of dead people

Friday's reading at Lincoln Square little-bit-of-everything boutique Scents and Sensibility went swimmingly. There weren't even too many complaints that Dr. Myers had a Johnny Cash-esque speaking voice. But hey, you give people enough wine and they'll applaud if you read the back of a cereal box.

Here are a couple of photos from the event, taken by Owner of the Boutique Julie:

Tastefully decorated book lovers browse the tastefully decorated store.

That's right, I'm sitting behind a fence.

Thanks to everyone who came by! Next stop: The Book Cellar, Dec. 19. Be there to pick up the bestest Christmas present ever!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Dear Mayor Daley: Thanks for the fireworks

Yeah, that's right--not only did the KU football team celebrate the release of "From the Depths" with a victory over Oklahoma State, but Hizzoner (The Second) made sure there were some festive explosions down near the museum campus... in other words, in perfect view of Lake Point Tower.

The release party on Saturday was a lot of fun, full of good cheer and good books and good friends and good wine. Technically, the good friends were full of the good wine, not the party. But you know what I mean.

Here are some destined-for-the-cover-of-People shots from various Friends (and Relatives) of the Blog:

Well-behaved attendees, less than 15 bottles of wine in and before the first television was defenestrated.

James, Former College Roommate of the Blog. What you can't see is that I'm stomping on his foot as hard as I can.

I rest my signing hand as several friends try to explain to me why "have a great summer" doesn't make sense on the title page of a novel.

Kristen, Cousin of the Blog, makes sure I know how her name is spelled.

People dressed more stylishly than I was also had a great time.

Thanks so much to everyone who helped make this such a fun and wonderful night. And stay tuned for information about coming events featuring "From the Depths," and possibly its author.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Maybe if I say it quietly, the Jinx Gods won't hear

I'm hesitant to even post this.

KU football is kicking a remarkable amount of butt this year. I doubt they even have TIME to take names. Undefeated. No. 2 in the country in scoring. No. 7 in defense.

Todd Reesing, the team's quarterback, is breaking records like every night was Disco Demolition Night.

The multitalented Reesing uses his healing powers on a Colorado defender.

They beat OSU last night (to help me celebrate the release of my book) and are now 10-0, which hasn't happened since TWO centuries ago. It's exciting and, frankly, a little disconcerting for Kansas fans. This is unexplored territory, and we're wandering around without a compass. Fortunately KU's head coach, Mark Mangino, seems to know the way. Even if that way seems accompanied by a few too many onion ring baskets.

Mangino: Football IQ equal to scale readout.

Friend and fellow bloggist Erin Thompson has celebrated this historic event in traditional fashion. That's right: a celebrity look-alike comparison of the players. Check it out here... and go, Jayhawks!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

There's no accounting for creativity

Actually, wait, yes there is. If you're a professional writer, you account for creativity with a paycheck.

Which is why the Writers Guild strike makes perfect sense. The ideas at the root of everything Hollywood creates spring (sometimes fully formed, like Athena, and other times half-baked, like a box of cheap brownie mix) from the minds of writers. And the writers would like to be compensated for that--can't say that I blame them.

Here's the crux of the issue, though. New technology has given way to new media on which their work (shows, movies, etc.) are presented. It's clear what direction we're headed; the Internet is, I'm told, the future. Yet the studios don't want to give writers a piece of the action in media such as the Internet. Huh. That sure seems to be setting the writers up for some unpleasant accounting--there's that word again!--down the road.

The writers of "The Office" put it thusly:

Anyway, I stand by my enormously creative brethren and hope that they get what they're asking for. If not, be prepared to watch a lot of crappy reality TV and funny movies that, as my friend Clark puts it, are "the other kind of funny."

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

How to become famous without really trying. Or becoming famous.

“From the Depths” is on the street—well, hopefully, on the bookshelf—and you’re probably asking yourself how you can get your hands on a copy. Well, the obvious answer is to check amazon.com, mcbooks.com or pretty much any bookstore of good repute.

The less obvious, but more fun answer is to visit the many book-related events planned around Chicago and beyond. The bonus there is that you can meet the author and have him write something witty in your copy of the book. (suggestions for witty inscriptions welcome)

Here’s a quick rundown of what’s on the docket so far:

-Nov. 10: Book release party! Wine! Cheese! Enthusiastic punctuation!

-Nov. 16: Book reading and signing at Scents and Sensibility, 4654 N. Rockwell St. 6-8 p.m. More wine!

-Late November (maybe): Assorted book-signing action in the greater Kansas City area. Yes, wine.

-Dec. 19: Book reading and signing at the Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln Ave. Time to be determined. IT’S A WINE SHOP.

And, as we say in journalism, “more stuff to come.” Actually, I’m pretty sure everyone says that. At some point.

Hope to see you and your hard-to-spell name soon!

Monday, October 29, 2007

“From the Depths” launches this week!

Launches. Like a ship launches. Get it? Get it? Yeah, I crack me up too. Anyway... on Wednesday the 31st, as spirits return from beyond the grave to carve pumpkins and eat too many mini-Butterfingers, my novel will hit the bookshelves across the United States. Wait, did I say United States? I meant THE WORLD.

: Whether you sell books or let people check them out for free, send an e-mail request to receive your free review copy and more information about the book. "From the Depths" is sold to the book trade by Independent Publishers Group, and published by McBooks Press.

Whether you're a book club member, a bookseller, librarian or would just like to drop me a line, shoot me an e-mail and I'll get right back to you. Please note that plot points will not be given away under any circumstances. Unless those circumstances involve briefcases full of cash.

And there was much rejoicing from the Pulitzer committee. (note: actual Pulitzer committee not pictured. )

So run out and grab a copy so you can find out what happens to Dr. Myers and the Dragon. You’ve got the candy to fuel a long reading session left over from Halloween.

Just be ready for immersion in a little bit more fear... and not the kind that will go away when you close the front door.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

That axle ain't gonna fix itself, Moneybags....

Do you remember "Oregon Trail"?

Of course you do. For me, killing off droves of settlers, oxen and of course game animals was a big time-waster back at Red Bridge Elementary School. And when I finally reached the Pacific coast, I could thumb my nose at the losers who chose the banker (carpenterz rule!) and basically bought a first-class ticket across the West.

How 5th-graders learned about intestinal infections.

Now you can find a close-but-not-perfect analog of this fun, educational and hyper-realistic (see graphics above) game online here. Yeah, it's kind of like "malk" is to milk, but still... better than, say, running out of food in the Rockies during the winter.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Hey, NASA: I'm calling shotgun

Things that are necessary for life: Water, light, heat and a planet.

Things that one of the planets circling red dwarf Gliese 581 has: Water, light, heat. And I think I mentioned that it's a planet.

This is exciting. Yes, I'm of a type that tends to get more excited than most about science news, but this could be huge. The as-yet-unnamed sphereoid is 1.5 times the size of Earth--good news for the possibility of an atmosphere, but bad news for those of us with bad knees. It's much closer to its star than Earth is to the Sun, but that's OK because Gliese 581 (which will definitely need a more catchy name if we ever visit it) burns at a lukewarm 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Honestly, artists have no idea what this thing looks like.

For those of you keeping score at home, that's half as hot as the sun. For those others of you who don't care how hot stars are, that means the planet's surface has temperatures ranging from 40 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Sound familiar?

But the best part? The planet's year is 13 DAYS LONG.

Thirteen. Days.

That means legal drinking age would be about nine Earth months. In August, I would have celebrated my 870th birthday--truly a milestone. And, best of all, my salary per day would be 28 times higher. That would pay for my knee operations.

So, two questions: What should we name this thing, and what are the odds that the aliens are enjoying first-run episodes of "Miami Vice"?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

When do they find time to watch the game?

What you're about to see is--as far as I can tell--real. Real South Korean soccer fans watching real South Korean soccer. Except by "watch" I mean "turn themselves into a giant LCD display."

The explanation for this ridiculously disciplined cheering is that the participants are wearing jackets with different colors on the front and back, plus a third-colored shirt underneath. Top cheer scientists are working on incorporating pants, hats and socks so the kids can cheer in high-definition.

Monday, October 8, 2007

The worst robot-fighting, my-home-planet-got-blowed-up trip I've ever been on, as played in 2/2

1) For some reason, the song "Sloop John B" has been not just stuck, but absolutely BURIED in my brain lately.

2) I like "Battlestar Galactica."

Therefore, 3) You will now watch this video.

That's Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, perhaps the world's only punk cover band. If you want to continue wasting time on the Internet after reading this post, search for some of their stuff on YouTube. They cover "O Sole Mio" admirably.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Excerpt No. 3 from "From the Depths"

Author's note: All right--dialogue! Interaction! More dead people! I promise, there is a lot of all three in "From the Depths." This is the final excerpt... to read more, you're going to have to find a way to get a copy of the book in your hands.

"How’s it going, Doctor?" Larsen’s voice pulled me back into the dining area’s bleakness. He had appeared in person this time, leaning against the doorframe.

"Things are a little confusing," I said, gesturing to the bench to his left. "Maybe you can help me out."

He sat, laying his rifle next to him.

"Help you? How can I do that? I’m just a sailor, a simple submarine driver."

Men and their macho idiosyncrasies didn’t bother me. I had even been engaged once, when I was in my late 20s, although, as Mom would say, it just hadn’t worked out. With my odd schedule, it was tough to meet men, and most of the guys I hung out with were co-workers. Stephen too, of course, whenever I was in Washington. None of them ever had been able to dent my patience with testosterone-inspired behavior.

But now I reached over and closed the door, a sudden rush of black emotion clouding my thoughts.

"What is your deal? Really, can you tell me that? As far as I’m concerned, we’re on the same team here, trying to accomplish the same thing. But since I climbed on your helicopter, you’ve treated me like some kind of an obstacle to your mission." I tried to keep my tone conversational, but each word seem to detonate in the tight quarters, filled with anger I couldn’t hide.

His expression didn’t change. I don’t think he even blinked. He pulled his watchcap off and tossed it on top of his rifle, then ran his fingers through the blonde buzzcut the hat had concealed. Taking a deep breath, he screwed his features into a caricature of clenched muscle, then relaxed and exhaled. His off-kilter eyes bored into me.

"Yeah, we’re on the same team, Doctor. General Patterson called us both, right? Called us and told us there was some fucked-up situation on a submarine, and we needed to fix it. Except he told me that my men and I had to take control of the submarine—without knowing who was onboard, really—by helicopter insertion and then navigate it safely to port." He placed both of his hands palm-down on the table, as if he wanted to prevent them from doing something more drastic. "That’s a pretty tall order for most people, but we’re fucking SEALs. Our job is to put a boot in someone’s ass before they even hear footsteps. This kind of operation is what we do, and no one does it better.

"Then I’m told, just before we’re scheduled to take off from the base, that there’s someone else being included at the last second. A civilian. A civilian who is going to be examining the boat while we’re trying to operate it. ‘Yes, sir,’ I said. ‘No problem, sir.’ You know why I said that? Because I’ve never met a civilian who could keep a SEAL platoon from fulfilling its mission."
He leaned toward me. I could see the edges of his nostrils twitch.

"And our mission is to get this sub back to port in one piece, without any complications. Nothing you do onboard will be worth a damn thing if we don’t make it to shore."

"I know that. I’ve tried to stay out of—"

"No, Doctor, you haven’t. You’ve ignored at least two orders I’ve given you, and if your presence on this boat weren’t so damn important to the general, I’d just stick you in one of the officers’ quarters and have Young lean on the door until we were in Norfolk."

I sighed and nodded. "I’m sorry. The first time, that wasn’t deliberate; I just jumped off the helicopter without thinking. And I’m sure that’s the kind of thing that worries you about involving civilians in your missions. But all this," I said, gesturing at the collection of plastic bags and envelopes on the table, "is absolutely vital. I needed to find the gun that shot the man in the control room, and it wasn’t in the control room. I knew we had limited time. So rather than risk it being moved or tampered with once you and your men came onboard, I left the control room to find it."

"Understandable. In your situation, I might have done the same thing," Larsen said. He crossed his arms, the limbs sturdy and powerful under the turtleneck’s ribbed sleeves. "And that’s why you’re not locked up. I’m not asking much from here on out, Doctor."

I was sick of the way he spat out the title like it was a pejorative.

"You don’t have to keep calling me ‘doctor.’ Christine is fine."

"OK, then, Christine. As I said, I don’t require a whole lot from you in the next few hours before we make port. You can examine what you need to examine, take pictures, dust for fingerprints, whatever it is you do. Just understand that this is my boat. If you’re in the way, no matter how important you might think your work is, you have to move. If you’re interfering with my men as they operate this thing, then you’re in the wrong place. Do you read me?" He raised his eyebrows, an expression that showed his question wasn’t rhetorical.

"I understand, Lieutenant. And believe me, I don’t intend to get in the way of you or your crew. OK?"

"OK. I’m glad we’re on the same page."

"In fact, I don’t think there’s much more for me to collect. Autopsies, that kind of detailed analysis, that will all be done on shore. I’ve sketched together a rough scenario that, hopefully, the lab technicians can solidify."

"Oh yeah? Let’s hear it. I’m interested in what went down on this relic. In fact, I’ve got some more evidence for you," Larsen said, drawing two black automatic pistols from his waistband and laying them, butt-first, on the table.

"What are these?" I asked.

"The firearms we found in the mess hall. This one’s cockeyed—the barrel’s bent. The other one seems fine. Both mags are full, eight rounds each."

I leaned in to look more closely, knowing as I did so that any value as evidence had been lost when the SEALs picked up the pistols and inspected them.

"Nine millimeter. The bent one’s got some blood and hair caught on the front sight. Probably used as a club," I said. "Norinco, same as the one I found in the forward torpedo room."

"What else?" Larsen said as I sealed the weapons inside separate plastic bags and put them away.

Links: McBooks Press
"From the Depths," by Gerry Doyle, available in November!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Outside the bounds of taste

As you read this, keep in mind that everything I know about fashion, I learned from "Project Runway."

Don’t ever try to tell me there is no fashion in sports. Yeah, high-priced sneakers tend to be gaudy and annoying. There are too many armbands, headbands, wristbands and assorted other fuzzy paraphernalia. And, come on, do we REALLY need baseball caps that come in non-team colors such as, I dunno, camouflage?

But you look at a beautifully designed team uniform—an esoteric balance of tradition and color—and it can bring a tear to your eye. OK, maybe only after several beers and a rendition of the alma mater.

Here’s exhibit A for good uniforms:

I can't believe they called that a charge.

And you can tell it looks good by holding it up next to this crime against eyeballs:

I can't believe they're going to charge for this.

The KU Athletic Department decided to change the team uniforms because, famously, a consultant decided that the university needed a unifying font. Yeah. Never mind that to most basketball fans, Kansas’ old "circus" font was the most distinctive thing on the uniform besides the Jayhawk itself.

So as basketball season approaches, I’m prepared to smile and cheer while wincing. I just hope none of the players try to wear dark socks with white sneakers.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Behold your new idol

I've always judged books by their covers. And with the exception of "The Sparrow"--a great book whose cover made me a little skeptical--it's always steered me toward great prose. Assuming this rule holds true, "From the Depths" is going to change... your... life. If not halt global warming and resurrect Jimi Hendrix.

Because the cover art is awesome. This is the final design:

It's great: mysterious, foreboding, intriguing and my name is GIGANTIC. I can't wait to see it on an actual book. Also, neither can you.

Paying the piper. Er... the guitarist.

The question of what art is worth can’t be easily answered. Is there an intrinsic value to the entertainment it provides? Does it edify the human soul for us to be able to see, right there in front of us, a depiction of our own emotions? How do you put a price tag on those qualities—if they even exist?

If you’re saying, "that’s a pretty pointless philosophical question, Gerry," you’re not alone. Radiohead is in your corner.

Kind of. Actually, they’re doing philosophy by popular vote: On the band’s Web site, you can download their new album and simultaneously tell them how much you think it’s worth. They’re letting the purchaser set the price... all the way down to a penny. (but that’s 2 cents U.S. Seriously.) This has the side effect of kicking their record company in the groin, as owners of the album can do whatever they want with it, and everything they DO pay goes directly to the band. But I guess that’s a luxury that comes with being immensely popular and rich and stuff.

So tell me... wait, no—tell them: What would you pay for a Radiohead album?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Cue the synth trumpets

Na na na naaaaa... na na na na naaaaaaaa... na na na na... na na na na na na naaaaa...

You probably guessed that I was just singing "The Final Countdown," by the Pulitzer-winning supergroup Europe. Why is that song stuck in my head? Because it's accurate. And as a journalist, I love accuracy.

An artist's depiction of "From the Depths" on release day.

Oct. 1 means we're one month away from the release of "From the Depths." Angels will sing, penguins will march, wine will flow and the threat level will drop to green, if not translucent.

Watch this space for announcements about readings, signings, appearances and other stuff. And also for other interesting blog entries--such as the final excerpt from the book.

T-minus 31....

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A dark day for punctuation

Huge news, here, people. No, not International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Not the Fed’s decision to lower interest rates, sparking a crazed mixture of celebration and sadness among meth-addled day traders.

It’s much bigger and more sinister than that.

This week, you see, marks the 25th anniversary of the invention of the emoticon.

You might say, “But Gerry—they’re cute, tiny Internet smiley faces. What’s sinister about that? Have you been getting enough sleep?”

I might reply, “You’re insane. Smilies lead to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to the Dark Side.”

Scott E. Fahlman and his unstoppable civilization destroyer.

Just as I refuse to type “LOL” except in very rare and precious circumstances, I refuse to create a happy face out of otherwise innocent punctuation. It’s just not right. I guess, rationally, you could argue that such expressions take the place of actual verbal communication, which undermines our ability to really relate to one another. But mainly they just grate at my soul. I can’t tell you exactly why.

I also refuse to type “u” for “you” and “2” for “too/to.” But that’s just because Prince doesn’t appreciate imitators. A reasonable stance, I think.

Anyway, put on a black armband and type out a dirge for the written word. There’s only one expression for our continued slide into emoticon oblivion: Frowny.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Not as tough as I look

Yeah, so, I don’t cry very often. Blame it on my Irish heritage, but I tend to keep any negative emotions under wraps until I have a few Guinnesses, at which point I’ll tell you more than you want to hear. Like I said, Irish.

But a few times in the last month, I’ve been moved to tears. I know, it’s hard to believe. Watching “White Light, Black Rain,” about the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki really hit hard. And in the same vein, HBO’s “Alive Day Memories” laid bare the physical and emotional damage that war inflicts on those who participate in it. The last chapter of “The Last True Story I’ll Ever Tell” made me want to launch myself over a cliff. (Fortunately for everyone involved, I live in Illinois, not known for its towering rock faces) And even more recently, as I began reading “Canticle for Leibowitz again, I skipped ahead to a few of my favorite parts… and, well, you know what happened.

And, of course, when I’m just sad I cry by myself and don’t blog about it. Unless those Guinnesses get involved again.

Anyway, are there any works—songs, paintings, books, whatever—that affect you like that? And please, people, I’m going to reject anyone who tries to post about “The Fox and the Hound.” That one’s just a given.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Let us all bask in television's warm glowing warming glow

Last night, allegedly, people on TV gave other people on TV awards for being on TV. It was a joyous event, and Philistine that I am, I missed it.

Before I come off as too snide, though, I do think there’s some great acting and writing on television. “The Office” and “Flight of the Conchords are, I think, two of the funniest and smartest programs you’ll find anywhere. “The Daily Show” manages to be insightful, cutting and hysterical while discussing actual, wince-inducing current events.

It’s easy to say something like, “there’s a lot of bad TV out there” (there is) or “will my life change because James Spader beat out James Gandolfini?” (it won’t. As far as I know.) But there’s no question that the shelves of the world’s libraries are groaning with reams of bad books, too.

Writing for the screen is hard. And for me, it plays against my weakness: Writing dialogue. When you need to move the story along using the characters’ mouths, you better be pretty good at putting words in them. I’m a lot better than I used to be, though, as I hope my recent writing shows. So maybe I should keep my sarcastic comments about television dialed down a bit.

What’s the point of all this? Good question. But as some successful shows have proven, a point isn’t really necessary. ("Seinfeld" is horribly, tragically overrated and makes me laugh about as much as a cereal box)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Too... believable?

This is an ad for a video game.

It's pretty simple, and no video game actually makes an appearance therein. It uses a technique I love--taking something commonplace and understandable, such as a documentary or a museum, and applying it to a fantastic situation. In this case, that situation is a war against a "covenant" of alien races, driven by an opaque religious fervor.

So we see the desperation, the death, the fear, the pain, all reflected in the subject's face. It's like watching a veteran look over a diorama of Normandy, or the Ia Drang Valley, or the blood and dust of Baghdad.

It's powerful. But is that kind of intensity--and its echoes of real life--appropriate in an ad for a video game? You tell me.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Good 'til the last page

There are, one can assume, a finite but really freaking huge number of stories floating around in the universe, waiting to be told. Some people argue that no matter what the subject and plot, the best ones are nothing more than echoes of our subconscious; fading shadows of a primal existence. That there are archetypical tales we don’t even realize we’re adhering to when we start writing.

If that’s true, there must have been some remarkably dull times back when we still slept in caves. How else do you explain James Fennimore Cooper? Oh, no! Suck on that, Bumppo!
Where is your literary God now, Natty?

But what about the good ones? The great ones? What makes a story stick in our consciousness and—as the best writing does—affect the way we view the rest of our lives? There are many theories. They’re probably all right in some way, and I don’t want to get in the middle of a literary slap-fight.

So I’ll just say that I have my own theory. Which is indisputably right in my own head. Here it is: The best stories transcend genre—they exist outside of themselves. Take, for example, "Canticle for Liebowitz," which I recently began reading for the 100th time and instantly got swept away in.

Yes, it’s set in the distant future. Yes, there is terminology—and later technology—that play a role in understanding the story. But at heart, it’s just about the human condition, about what man does to himself and why he keeps doing it. It’s moving because... well... it’s truth. And our minds can recognize that in a story.

Other stories tell us what we already know, deep inside, about war... love... death... sacrifice... hate... towels... and they resonate, stick, become popular and make their authors fabulously rich.

So as a writer, make sure you’re saying something besides what’s plainly on the page. I realized after I finished "From the Depths"—thanks to an assist from my dad, an extremely literate guy and a hell of a photographer—that the subtexts I had worked in, purposefully or not, had given birth to an allegory about what warfare does to humanity.

Which, let’s face it, makes me look a lot smarter than I am.

What books or stories have in some way imparted some spin on your life?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Pull up

There’s something both tragic and uplifting about watching someone take risks and fail.

I think it’s important for us as a society—and individually—to push limits, to follow dreams, to make bold plans. If you let that part of you atrophy, what are you left with? Breathing, eating, sleeping. Watching bad TV.

Steve Fossett was (and possibly still is) one of those risk-takers. It’s silly to try to guess at his personal motivations or glamorize his successes and failures. But from a third-person perspective, it’s good to see someone try to, for instance, fly around the world, solo, without refueling, just because it had never been done. Sometimes I think we’ve become so inoculated against that kind of daring that it doesn’t even register in the public consciousness as it has in the past (see Lindbergh, Chuck).

As of Wednesday night, Fossett still was missing somewhere in the sun-baked wilderness of Nevada after taking off on what should have been a routine three-hour flight.

I have a major soft spot for aviation. That particular winged horse might be well out of the barn for me, but I still love watching the state of the art develop, the envelope expand, pilots continuing to give gravity the middle finger. So to see someone whose public life was predicated on trying to leap tall buildings trip and fall over the equivalent of a sidewalk crack… well… that’s only sad, and nothing else.

I hope they find him soon.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

'Tis not quite the season... but still....

Football is upon us.

And as much as I dig football (if not Brodie Croyle’s decisionmaking), for some reason it just makes me miss college basketball more. For now, though, all I’ve got is recruiting news, preseason rankings and Internet videos… like this one, featuring ex-Kansas Jayhawk Julian Wright, 2007 NBA lottery pick, semi-pro bowler and sporter of occasionally wacky haircuts.

I appear in none of those clips, in case you were wondering.

Anyway, here's to watching more sports--football, basketball, baseball, occasionally soccer and never NASCAR--in person. And the great thing about going back to Lawrence is that a) Southwest gets you there cheap-like and b) that leaves you more money for darts and beer.

Friday, August 31, 2007

The stars at night are big and bri... usually obscured by light pollution

Chicago’s a big place. About 10 million people. If you lived in Chicago and met 250 of its residents every day for your entire life—and you lived to be 100—you’d still wind up with a few strangers in your life. On the other hand, think how many cards you’d get on your 99th birthday. (note: My math skills are suspect. But I used a calculator to arrive at these figures.)

The point is, given the wealth of humanity in the Chicago metro area, it would seem tough notice two or three leaving. But as a couple of my good friends hit the road on Wednesday, I noticed. They’re heading to Austin after spending the last few years here in one of the Windy City’s hippest neighborhoods.

There’s something comforting and good about having friends nearby, even if you don’t see them every day. And there’s something equally displacing about watching friends leave, even if there’s no question that you’re going to stay in touch. Personally, I have a much easier time moving from Point A to Point B and saying goodbye to my homies in Point A than I do watching the aforementioned homies heading off to Point C.

Maybe it has something to do with the excitement and anticipation of finding one’s self, i.e. me, in a new locale. And I know my friends are excited about their move and exploring a city that is known for being a pretty fun place.

So that, I think, is what I’ll focus on. For them, safe travels and new adventures.

For me, having a place to crash during South by Southwest.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sing a song of sci-fi

I don’t know how I managed this. I spend enough time bumbling around on the Internet that, really, I should have noticed it earlier. And what about my friends? Why didn’t they share this news with me? Were they afraid of how I might react?

Because, honestly, it’s pretty damn cool that the final season of “Battlestar Galactica” is going to kick off with a two-hour movie.

As has been established in this blog and elsewhere (by “elsewhere,” I mean “my life”), I enjoy good science fiction. If you think that makes me a dork, stop reading, because it’s only going to get dorkier.

“Galactica” is a great show, not because there are neat-looking spaceships shooting at each other or because the female leads are pretty hot, but because it’s full of great stories. Like the best fiction in any genre, the stories and characters transcend the settings. The overstory is about a search for home—a subconscious aspect of all of our lives, at least in my wholly inexpert opinion. The subplots are about everyday life: Love, death, longing, chasing dreams. And also neat-looking spaceships.

But what I think makes my enjoyment of the show about as dorky as it gets is how much I like the main theme song. It’s… haunting. Probably because it’s a hymn from the Reg Veda (parts of which I had to read in high school—thanks, Bettye Tracy!). Doesn’t get much more haunting than a spiritual cry for redemption. Especially if there are neat-looking spaceships involved. Observe:

Translation: “O God, Thou art the giver of life, the remover of pain and sorrow, the bestower of happiness; O Creator of the Universe, may we receive Thy supreme, sin-destroying light; may Thou guide our intellect in the right direction. Grace Park is smokin'. Amen.”

As far as science fiction-related songs, it doesn’t get much better than that. Although Peter Schilling’s “Major Tom” is a close second, if only because he’s a German synth-pop specialist who wrote a song in German, later translated to English, in homage to a David Bowie song ostensibly about the American space program. Which has neat-looking spaceships.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

It's coming for you like a giant foam ball rolling down a padded maze

Is there anything cooler than watching everyday Americans get pummeled by oversized athletes weilding giant padded Q-tips?*

NBC is bringing back American Gladiator, a childhood favorite of millions of people who were children when I was. So I guess that would make it an adulthood or adolescent-hood favorite of other people. But that’s not the point.

The point is that once again, viewers will get the privilege of experiencing bulging muscles, pointless obstacle courses and gargantuan mullets on the small screen. The only way they could do it better this time around is by including American Idol washouts.

*The correct answer is "No," by the way.

Friday, August 24, 2007


It’s the kind of news you’d hope to never see in any media outlet: Weekly World News, purveyor of fact-free reporting and extreme Photoshoppery, is folding.

Vicious vampire child struck without mercy.

Yeah. I know. You wouldn’t think that a paper with fact-checking and research budget of zero could run out of money, but it looks like it happened anyway. Strange, but true, like Hillary Clinton adopting an alien child.

It’s too bad, because although there’s a Moab-like drought of fun in the newspaper biz these days, the staffers at Weekly World News really seemed to enjoy their jobs. And who can blame them? If all reporters were given a computer, a phone and a license to invent as many UFOs as they could fit into a 10-inch story, the world would be a happier place in general. The Washington Post has an interesting history of the paper, tracing it from its early days as the Enquirer’s trashier cousin to its demise as a "comedy" rag that forgot to be funny.

At any rate, the next time you make an impulse purchase while waiting for the person in front of you at the grocery story to HURRY UP ALREADY AND JUST PAY WITH A CREDIT CARD, WHILE WE’RE YOUNG, whisper a prayer of lament toward the empty tabloid rack next to the gum. Weekly World News has gone to heaven (which the Hubble Space Telescope took pictures of. True story).

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Rangers' D holds Orioles to field goal

OK, now, look people--this just isn't right. Or maybe it makes perfect sense. I dunno.

The Rangers are standard-bearers for the most insufferable of states, Texas. Texas is well-known for its obsession with football, to the exclusion of other activities like basketball, baseball and smart government.

Perhaps that's why on Wednesday night, the Rangers, a baseball team, went and scored three touchdowns (with extra point!) and three field goals against the Orioles in a double-header. Their bend-but-don't-break nine-man front gave up only an early field goal.

The resulting carnage equaled the most runs scored in 110 years. That's before even Jerry Jones was invented.

Friday, August 17, 2007

From the "Mental Jukebox Stuck on Repeat" Department:

This band, Shiny Toy Guns, is tangentially connected to me by one of my good friends. Which is just a fancy way of saying that I hadn't heard of them until he brought them up, I went to find some of their music to listen to, and now one of their songs is stuck in my head.

Now it can be stuck in your head, too. Thank me later.

Proof that domestic spying can get a little tedious

We all love Wikipedia, don't we? An organic, peer-edited and -created encyclopedia of everything you could ever care about, and a lot of things you don't. Not only is it useful to lazy college students, but when some big news item happens, its value as a source of entertainment pokes through the stratosphere.

One of my favorite Wikipedia moments--now lost in the e-mists of e-time--was when Bob Huggins, former K-State basketball coach, left that job to be the coach at West Virginia. Within nanoseconds, his biographical entry on Wikipedia suddenly included some odd bullet points about his great love of bestiality, homosexuality and terrorism.

You would think that only a K-State basketball fan, maddened by grief and emboldened by grimy glass jugs of moonshine, could embark on such a destructive mission.

But no. Turns out our government agencies are pretty good at it, too:

On the profile of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the tool indicates that a worker on the CIA network reportedly added the exclamation "Wahhhhhh!" before a section on the leader's plans for his presidency.

... snip ...

The site also indicates that a computer owned by the US Democratic Party was used to make changes to the site of right-wing talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

The changes brand Mr Limbaugh as "idiotic," a "racist," and a "bigot." An entry about his audience now reads: "Most of them are legally retarded."

And that, dear readers, is what you call burying the lede. You expected to read something about Wikipedia, then, what the hell, K-State athletics? Moonshine? And finally governmental (and, to be fair, journalistic) Internet hijinks.

I think we've all learned something here today.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Insert "run-and-shoot offense" joke here:

The dogfighting allegations tied to Michael Vick are heinous enough.

But now a federal lawsuit is saying he did the unthinkable. That’s right. He sold two pit bull mixes on eBay and, after pledging allegiance to Al Queda, he used the money to purchase missiles from Iran. There’s your story, liberal media. Stop sweeping the truth under the rug. It’s all right here in U.S. District Court, Richmond Division:

Fortunately, the freedom-loving former owner of the aforementioned pit bulls is suing Vick for $63 billion billion. (yeah, sure, there’s probably some mathy word for that number, but I stopped taking math in high school)

Did I mention the plaintiff is in prison? Not that it matters. Anyway, read what evenhanded non-sensationalist news outlet Fox News has to say about it here.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

At least it's the color you'd expect it to be....

Historic combinations: Steak and baked potatoes. Rum and cola. Kid 'n' Play.

Now, in A.D. 2007, comes Pepsi and cucumber.

Put down the phone--your local grocery store doesn't have it. It's only available in Japan, where the cucumber is a much-loved symbol of refreshment and carbonation. Or something. Fortunately, thanks to Al Gore, we can witness first-hand the reaction to a consumer's first taste of this beverage.

Behold Random Guy on YouTube Living in Japan:

That's correct, kids. He said "green-flavored." And also "Satan in my mouth."

So, given Pepsi's great track record with experimental soft drinks, expect to see this on American shelves by Christmas.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Distractions while… wait, what were we talking about?

Few of us are fortunate enough to be able to support ourselves by writing fiction. Even those of us with “day jobs” that we love daydream about being able to spend all our time thinking, writing and appearing on Oprah to promote our best-seller.

The problem is, even when your only writing concern is whether Mingus or Modest Mouse provides a better soundtrack for your typing (or teeth-gnashing), other stuff can get in the way. Like, say, the rest of your life. If you’re worried, stressed-out, depressed, anxious or any of a million other words that worm their way into your vocabulary when you’re grappling with something difficult or painful, writing seems like a pointless distraction at best.

So how do you let your mind wander off into a story if it’s busy trying to figure out the way back to Happyland?

One time-honored method is to drink. The upside is that it definitely helps you relax and, by extension, allows your mind to skip off in any direction it wants to. The downside is, of course, alcoholism, public nudity and embarrassing phone calls. So scratch that one.

You can also treat it like writer’s block: Power through it by staring at the screen until something good trickles out through your fingertips. That can work too, but your mileage may vary.

Or you can ignore writing altogether, but the pitfall here is that your ideas may shrivel up inside your head and when you DO finally feel ready to write, you discover that sometimes inspiration has an expiration date.

The best way to deal with this, in my experience, is to write like you read. Everyone can get sucked into a good book, right? Allow it to carry you away from your couch (or, if you’re me, your semi-padded Brown Line bench seat) and off into some other, more exciting place. That’s what you need to do with your story—just start throwing ideas out there, follow them around, poke them, prod them and try to let yourself get carried away. Except without consciously trying. It’s Zen, people.

And in the end, if all goes well, you wind up with a manuscript. Getting the Oprah appearance will be covered in a future blog entry.

Anyone out there playing the home version of Read Ink have any experiences in this vein? Want to share?

Saturday, August 4, 2007

The Running of the Blades

Brilliant cinematography, brutal futurism, superlative actorating, mind-numbing special-effectorialization.

I made up some of those words, but I think they all describe one of my favorite movies in the history of me: "Blade Runner." So imagine my enthusiasm at hearing that Ridley Scott is going to release a "final cut" version at the Venice Film Festival. Except... wait. Haven't there already been two or three or 25 cuts already released?

Let's see. There's the original, where DON'T READ IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE MOVIE Dekker and his android hottie girlfriend ride off into the sunset using borrowed footage from "The Shining." Then there's the director's cut, with no voiceover and a much darker ending. Supposedly this "final" version will clean up a lot of the effects and remaster the sound, which is cool, but what scenes does Scott want to alter that he hasn't already tinkered with?

Will the Replicants always shoot first now? Will Dekker calmly ask Rachel out for coffee as their first date? Will it ever stop raining in L.A.? Here's what the new trailer looks like:

But come on, I'm gonna go see it anyway. Dystopia, fighting robots, flying cars and Darryl Hannah doing backflips... tell me, someone, what's not to love?

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The man who would not be king

Royals manager Buddy Bell today decided to join the long and occasionally distinguished list of once-optimistic souls who thought they could manage the disappointin’-est team in major league baseball. He wants to spend more time with his family after this season, and, frankly, I can’t blame him. Even cleaning ice cream off a 2-year-old would be more fun than watching alleged professional ballplayers such as "Jason Smith" and "Jason LaRue" try to hit fast-moving baseballs.

But let’s not focus on the Jasons.

Let’s focus on the future! And by "future" I mean "who’s going to turn this ship around." Joe Girardi, an alleged Academic All-American at Northwestern (a long time ago), is a front runner. Buck Showalter? Frank White? Roy Hobbs?

These are all rhetorical questions, by the way. I don’t have the first clue who’s going to be in charge. But he better like barbecue. For me, that would equate to a specialty of my beloved R’s: a moral victory.

Friday, July 27, 2007

I thought it was 24 hours from bottle to throttle. Lift-off. Whatever.

Space exploration is a risky and stressful business, what with all the launch mishaps and equipment malfunctions and totally insane astro-women. But does that mean that the astronaut corps should cope by drinking? According to a recent NASA survey, the answer is a big "Roger that, Houston."

Astronauts were allowed to fly after flight surgeons and other astronauts warned they were so drunk they posed a flight-safety risk on at least two occasions, an aviation weekly reported Thursday.

It cited a special panel studying astronaut health, which found "heavy use of alcohol" before launch that was within the standard 12-hour "bottle-to-throttle" rule, according to Aviation Week & Space Technology. It reported the finding on its Web site.

A NASA official confirmed the health report contains claims of alcohol use by astronauts before launch, but said the information is based on anonymous interviews and is unsubstantiated. The official didn't want to be named because NASA plans a news conference Friday to discuss the panel's findings.
As a guy who loves rockets and rocket fuel, I’m not sure whether this means my desire to be an astronaut is shaken or reinforced. Or stirred.

Cue the R.E.M.

In May 2008, there is a slight chance that scientists in Switzerland may destroy the universe. Not on purpose, of course—the Swiss are neutral and wouldn’t start a war with anyone, let alone provoke all of creation by... well... blowing it up.

Physicists—OK, construction workers—are finishing up the Large Hadron Collider, a particle accelerator in Geneva that will use magnetic fields to send exotic bits of matter rocketing toward each other for the purpose of seeing what happens. It’s a grand scientific tradition, blowing stuff up real good and sifting through the aftermath to figure out why it done blowed up.

These particular experiments will try to generate a Higgs boson, which has the somewhat intimidating nickname of "The God Particle." Among its deity-like features is, apparently, being a key part of why things have mass. Exciting stuff. But if things go slightly wrong....


While many have voiced concerns that the LHC will destroy the Universe, engineers close to the project claim that the possibility is infinitesimally small. As CERN has pointed out, if the Earth were in danger of any such fate, it would have happened billions of years ago from the bombardment of protons the planet receives that are millions of times more energetic than anything that could be produced by the LHC.[8]

As with the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), people both inside and outside of the physics community have voiced concern that the LHC might trigger one of several theoretical disasters capable of destroying the Earth or even our entire Universe. Each advance in particle accelerator technology exposes the stability of the very fabric of the universe to more stringent tests.[citation needed] RHIC has been running since 2000 and has generated no major problems; however the Large Hadron Collider is set to create an environment significantly more alien to nature than the RHIC has ever created, and therefore the probability of catastrophe is greater.

Theoretical disasters include:

-Creation of a stable black hole[9] inside the earth
-Creation of strange matter that is more stable than ordinary matter
-Creation of magnetic monopoles that could catalyze proton decay
-Triggering a transition into a different quantum mechanical vacuum (see False vacuum)

The Large Hadron Collider is expected to create tiny black holes within the Earth [10]. However, some physicists expect that Hawking Radiation will cause these black holes to dissipate. The primary cause for concern is the fact that Hawking Radiation, the only means by which these black holes could be dissipated, is entirely theoretical.

Good times, indeed. So that’s the bad news, that we all might wink out of existence when some PhD flips a switch next spring. The good news is that it probably won’t hurt much, and "America’s Funniest Home Videos" will be off the air forever.