Wednesday, October 19, 2005


When I wrote about the fictional Hurricane Damien in my novel "Violent Night," my friends thought I was doing a "412." (Over-acting, for those who remember "Dragonnet.") Damien would be an October hurricane. He'd achieve a central pressure of 840 millibars. Winds of 270 m.p.h. Damien would be not the birthpangs but the birth of the Apocalypse.

Impossible? This morning, October hurricane Wilma reached a record of 887 millibars, one millibar lower than Gilbert in 1989 who had winds of 240 m.p.h. on his best day. Wilma, Rita, and Katrina ALL grew from tropical storm to Cat 5 in 24 hours. So would Damien- except he forms closer to the coast, so evacuation of Houston is out of the question.

Now we know this could really happen. Three warnings. Three birthpangs, as the Bible calls them, in less than two months! And what are we going to do? Use our tax dollars to rebuild and improve GAMBLING CASINOS!

Hey, if you read my book, you know the only thing remaining between Wilma and the ultimate disaster are some computer model forecasts. By the way, the Astros are in the playoffs, so no one is paying any attention. Sound familiar?

When the fig tree drops its leaves, we know winter is coming...

Sunday, October 02, 2005


America is a free country, right? Maybe not for long. If you watch news, you know by now that William Bennett said on his radio show that crime would go down if you aborted black babies. He then went on to say such a thing is not acceptable.

Of course, in the P.C. world we live in, the comments have raised a predictable firestorm of protest. Okay, I think the comment was insensitive, inappropriate, possibly even bizarre. I can see why it would offend some people. But I was offended by a sitcom I saw tonight, too.

I am not going to write a letter my congressman about it, though. I read the Constitution, and I didn't find a guarantee in there protecting me from being offended. But I do have a power switch on my TV and radio.

There are poeple calling for Mr. Bennett to be banned from broadcasting. Huh? If you're going to do that, please ban all of these gangsta-rap songs that cuss, promote hate, and offend women. When we remake our society so no one can be offended, we've brought Orwell's book to life.

What really bothers me is what Bennett said is probably the truth- even as offensive as it is. Should we regulate spreading of truth? If there is a bright pink elephant in our living room, are we not supposed to mention it? Get a grip, people! It's understandable to be offended, but it isn't your right to police what people think and say... yet.

Saturday, October 01, 2005


Don McLean wrote that song in 1972. I was a Boy Scout then. We used to sit around the campsite and pick the lyrics apart, line by line, and figure out what each item meant. On the surface, it was an easy thing to pick out the references to dead and defunct pop musicians. "The day the music died." Simple.
Too simple, perhaps. Many people who wrote the music died, all right, but not their music. Back then, talent went a long way. You could record a song with your friends in your garage, send the records to radio stations across the country, and have a hit. It was even possible to make it with just a single song (one-hit wonder). No video. No agents. No Hollywood.
Radio stations back then weren't so stuck up. The news followed by "Rainy Days and Mondays" (The Carpenters), then "Immigrant Song" (Led Zeppelin), possibly "Kiss An Angel Good Morning" (Charley Pride), and a seasonal "Monster Mash" (Bobby Boris Pickett) thrown on top. All of it part of the American Top 40, shared by everybody at the parks, in the restaurants, at parties. Just a great big wonderful music melting pot. Pop artists even had the audacity to sing about Jesus Christ.
Fast-forward thrity years. Now we have niche music. We're supposed to like what is shoved down our throats. First, the promoters decide what group we're in. Chick-rock, hip-hop, country, Christian, jazz, alternative, classic rock, oldies, the eighties, reggae, screw music, what-have-you. We must only have music appropriate for our group. Have you ever heard "screw music"? It's somebody else's music played s-l-o-w. Lotsa talent there! There isn't a variety radio station. My car radio has 18 preset buttons. You'd think by pushing random buttons I could get variety, but it seems ClearChannel owns most of the stations so they all play the same commercials at the same time. I can't find much new music, and even when I find something I like, no one I know has heard of it. If fact, even the kids I know have just given up. They listen to "oldies"! Surely talent still exists, but it's trampled down by an industry that demands videos, tours, agents, and sex appeal. The music is dying. Is this what Don McLean saw coming?
Warning: this is the scary part. Think about Hurricane Katrina. See if the lyrics take on a deeper meaning now...
"...the men there said the music wouldn't play. And the three men I admire the most: the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost-- They caught the last train for the coast, the day the music died. And they were singing: 'Bye, bye this American pie, drove my Chevy to the levy but the levy was dry. And good ol' boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye, singin' this'll be the day that I die."

Monday, September 26, 2005

What strange timing. My book, Violent Night, is about a hurricane plowing through my city--Houston--at the time of the Apocalypse. The book was at the printer when Hurricane Rita approached! I have to add the reference to KatRita (that's what a lot of people are calling it, Katrina+Rita=KatRita), and send it to my printer for revision.
Now Violent Night isn't about Hurricanes KatRita. Katrita is not, nor never was, the hurricane I called Damien in the book. It's not a sign of the end-times. It's a warning. And it's a perfect set-up. A million people spent 12 or more hours stuck on a freeway in 100+ degree heat, without air conditioning, without gas, without a bathroom, to escape the ultimate disaster. Many of them are coming home to find a few leaves on the ground--practically the only sign that Rita was here. Next time they may just sit at home. But the next time might be the big one.
The Bible talks of "birthpangs" of the last days. The Christmas tsunami, Katrina and New Orleans, Rita... it seems these disasters are more frequent. But unlike the tsunami, the worst that could happen with the hurricanes didn't. Rita lossed strength and turned eastward, into less pupolated territory. Katrina did the same, missing New Orleans. Yes, both were bad enough, but not as bad as they might have been. The tsunami couldn't have been worse--an 8.9 earthquake! (Did you know they had an 8.7 quake in the same place the day after Easter, but without the tsunami? Are these signs?) In my lifetime, America has set forth a Christian example and supported Israel. Is that why the ulimate disaster didn't happen? What happens if we reject God from our culture, as some want to do?