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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Synopsis: Take 2

I posted an earlier draft of my query/synopsis of my novel. 

Please consider my novel, "The Noise of Endless Wars" (101,562 words).  The Midwest city of Cadmus faces problems similar to those found throughout the Rust Belt: harsh winters, vast income inequality, racial tensions, and increasing urban decay.

            The Hathorne family, with its vast amounts of wealth and prestige, has dominated the social and political structure of Cadmus for over a century.  The only surviving children of this legacy, George and Virginia Hathorne, struggle with the meaning behind the family name.  George, the eldest son, renounces this legacy and the dark, brutal history it hides under its fortune.  As an exile within the city, he finds his life's purpose in sexual copulation with a variety of women and, when he can, in fighting his younger sister who now runs the Hathorne Corporation.  Through her indomitable will, Virginia has built an even greater family fortune through both legal and illegal means.  Her older brother sees her efforts as the continuation of the evil and inequality that has been carried on since his great-great grandfather, a notorious Indian fighter, settled the once tiny village and renamed it after the mythical founder of Thebes. 

            On the other side of town another set of siblings try to survive the city and its hardships, coming to grips with a past that renders them both captive and immobile.  Emmanuel Lyon, just out of prison, repudiates his past misdeeds and hopes to start a new life. He decides the only way he can advance is through seeking out the father who killed his mother when he was only a child.  Ultimately he will discover a half-sister he has never known.  Isabel Butler, a woman also without a father or mother, feels trapped in a hapless cycle of stagnation from which she cannot escape.  After finally making some progress in her life she’ll then be forced to face the father who abandoned her and make a horrifying decision.  She and her brother will then have to learn to rely on one another if they are to progress beyond an unforgiving past. 

            These four separate protagonists and their separate paths and world views eventually cross after events bring them together in a moment that may forever change them all and the city they inhabit.

            The first five parts of the novel focus on both sets of siblings and at various points of their lives, past and present, in order to capture the experiences that lead to the closing events of the novel.

            I am a graduate of Western Michigan University with a Bachelors’ in English and Sociology. Also, I have written a novel and currently writing an anthology of short stories. I have a Masters Degree in Library and Information Sciences and am currently working in metro Detroit for a distributor of foreign language materials.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Race Relations in America*

I have always been an amateur student of history, and I'm always surprised how easy those in the present discard its influence--especially when it comes to race in America. We usually define history as "past" as if it were self-contained and had no relevance to the present.  I don't know what you'd call that, but it's not history. If we were truly unconditioned free agents as we like to believe, we wouldn't need history at all.

There's a way race history plays out in America; White America, mostly: slavery, Civil War, Segregation, Martin Luther King, equality achieved--the end.  This is really a gross generalization, but this is how most of us want to view the African American struggle for freedom: finished, with sporadic and isolated incidents of racism.  Mostly, blacks are stuck in the past, unable to overcome past gripes that today are nonexistent.  Quiet a few Whites look at the president and many other African American successes and wonder why the rest of Black America cannot seem to get it together. Disregard facts such as Black people facing higher unemployment rates and also the fact that a white man with no degree has an equal chance of being hired as an African American college student (Forbes Magazine, June 27, 2014).

Police in most cases (both black and white) even approach African Americans with "threat" and "danger" on their mind, and with that, more guns pulled and used on more young black men and even women than whites in similar situations.**

Yes, white people are also unemployed, get killed by cops--i.e., just about everything that has happened in post-Jim Crow to black people has happened to whites.  Injustice is not completely the domain of one demographic over another.  Yes, injustice happens to white people too, however, such injustices happen at a disproportionate rate to African Africans.

Why? It has to do with a kind of racism that exists within all of us (including myself).  This racism has nothing to with the hate you'd find in the Ku Klux Klan. It really has nothing to do with the individual.  It's an historical inertia that has come from generations of a caste-like structure coupled with stereotyped attributions that connote inferiority.

Since what has come before (not just events, but long-held ideas and ideologies) conditions our "now" in some way or another, the racism of the past affects our very mindset: the acts of the past have conditioned the present.  Once established they become inert or likely remain at a default setting. It's foolish to believe we completely eradicated the past injustices when what lies in our upbringing (not even parental but cultural) still remains.

That part of it cannot really be our faults, naturally.

Only as it continues unnoticed or unaltered in ourselves does we become at fault. Certainly, most whites do not want to be racist and despise such a label--which no doubt is an improvement. important to dissociate the person from the unconscious behavior: we can call a person's behavior "racist" without calling the person a racist.  And it's true: most of the times the people who err need only have the error be pointed out to them. Nothing personal and it shouldn't be. Also, in no way would it be an easy accomplishment.  Soul-searching rarely is, but if we can challenge ourselves and our outdated way of thinking, we could progress towards having that elusive post-racial society we all dream about.

*OK, a very narrow look at race relations between blacks and whites at the unjust exclusion of  other groups within America. I apologize, but this is intended to be a short blog post.
**Think of Tamir Rice when watching this

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Argument that convinced me that America should do away with the death penalty

Actually more a person than an argument: Henry Lee Lucas.  Who is Henry Lee Lucas?  Was he an innocent man who was wrongly convicted and put to death?  Nope. He was far from being an innocent man.

The adult life of Henry Lee Lucas was pretty much a never-ending crime spree--outside of the three separate times he spent in prison.  Besides the crimes of robbery, rape, and attempted kidnapping, he is believed to have killed at least three people (including killing his mother).  Others believed the number to be in the forties. Lucas, himself, had during his time in prison confessed to hundreds of murders.  In fact, he is so notorious that he makes many lists of the most famous American serial killers.  Not only that, his crimes are detailed in a film:  Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer starring Michael Rooker (Merle from The Walking Dead).  Arrested in 1983, he was sentenced to die by the state of Texas.

So why is the execution of a clearly-guilty man be the best argument for abolishing the death penalty?

Because he wasn't executed. After fifteen years on death row his sentence was commuted to life in prison.

What bleeding-heart liberal governor would allow a such a horrible miscarriage of justice, you ask? Then-Texas governor George W. Bush.  Because Henry Lee Lucas had confessed to so many murders researchers figured out he could not have killed all the people he claimed due to many inconsistencies, such as an inability to be in two parts of the country at once.  He had his sentence commuted to life in prison in 1998 and died of heart failure in 2001.*

He remains now as a piece of trivia: Who is the only death row inmate to have his sentence commuted to Life in prison by George W. Bush?

I can't remember if I was for the death penalty when I read about his death years ago, but I remember being opposed to it ever since.  Ironic that of all the innocent people to have died, along with all the well thought out arguments against the death penalty (the message of love and redemption throughout the four Gospels, Amnesty International, a John Grisham novel, a great Metallica song), it takes the non-death of a truly evil man to convince me that it should be outlawed.  People like him are the reason we argue for the death penalty, and yet for him to avoid death due to bragging about crimes he did not commit brought home to me the injustice of state-held executions.  Also consider that the man who commuted his sentence is the modern day incarnation of a hanging judge whose tough-on-crime approach helped put him into the Oval Office.

It only goes to show you the deeper you dig into vile history of the death penalty the more you truly understand how vile and unjust it truly is.**

*I could have also chosen Charles Manson, who had his sentence commuted due to California abolishing the death penalty in the 1970's. Because it would be a violation of his constitutional rights (yes, you still get to have those no matter who you are or what you have done), his life sentence remained even after California reinstated the death penalty.    

**I'll blog later on in reaction to people throwing out names like Timothy McVeigh, among the other monsters who have been executed.  For now I'd answer, what satisfaction did you or I get out of seeing such a person put to death?  A lot of victims' family members who witness an execution of an alleged murderer come out disappointed at the abrupt and supposedly-painless death.  "I only wish the person could have suffered more like how the victim did," they usually say.  Some sense of closure and retribution that was. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A brief look at Islam

With millions of practicing Muslims in The United States, the biggest threat to America is still a white man with a gun (a large majority of them Christian).

Arab does not equal Muslim.  The largest Muslim population is in Indonesia and Malaysia (along with Bangladesh and Pakistan).   The largest population of Arabs is in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula and share Arabic as a common language.

Iran is Persian.  The language the majority speaks is known either as Persian or Farsi.

In Afghanistan the majority of the population speaks Pashto.  Yeah, that country we've been in for thirteen years doesn't speak Arabic.

 In Pakistan, one of the most populated countries in the world, they speak Urdu, an Indic language that sounds so much like Hindi that an Urdu and a Hindi speaker can carry on a conversation with one another without knowing anything about the other's respective language (the written scripts are another story).

The second largest Arab population in the world resides in metropolitan Detroit; largest population of that existing in Dearborn.  A large percentage of those Arabs identify as Christian (also other religions and non-religions).  Having been to Dearborn I can attest to the fact that the city is not under Sharia Law.

A majority of Muslim women do not wear burkas.  That head scarf you've seen on many Muslim women is known as a hijab.  Many women who wear hijabs wear more than just the color black.  They have many styles from which to choose.

There are many sects in Islam.  The three biggest are Sunni, Shia, and Sufism. The major schism in Islam had been over the recognition of the rightful Caliph after the death of The Prophet.  Shiites believe that Muhammod's nephew, Ali, was the first rightful leader of the Islamic state.  Sunnis believe The Prophet's loyal companion and the first Caliph, Abu Bak'r, to be the first.  Thus the first major schism in Islam was political and not religious.  The difference in cultural and religious practices came later due to this primary division.  Sufis are the more mystical and more liberal of the three and is associated more with Turkey (a country, like the many other countries with a majority Muslim population, I neglected to mention earlier) .

And finally, the number of Muslims who are terrorists is most likely comparable to the percentage of Italians participating in organized crime (i.e., a percent of a percent of the population).

Stuff to think about when trying to pigeonhole a population of one billion instead of listening to bigoted dicks like Bill Maher (that's right, I'm tired of seeing him held up as a paragon of liberalism. I agree with him 95% of the time, but the other 5% is so repugnant that I'd rather hear from a more enlightened voice).

Personal note:  Most of the practicing Muslims I have met have been wonderful people.  I suspect that those three people senselessly murdered in North Carolina this week were the same way.

(if I misstated anything, please let me know in the comments section).


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Novel Synopsis

This is a first draft of my novel query (short synopsis):

Please consider my novel, "The Noise of Endless Wars".  Cadmus, Michigan is a mid-sized city like many others in the Midwest: harsh winters, racial tensions, vast income inequality, and economic downturns.  Four characters, two sets of siblings from two families with no obstensible connection, strive for meaning and definition within the city's boundaries.

George Gordon (formerly known as Hathorne) tries to escape his family name and the dark, brutal history it hides under its fortune and its prestige as one of the city's founding families.  He seeks self-actualization in sexual copulation, and fights the current Hathorne corporation.  His younger sister, Virginia Hathorne, has taken the family name and legacy and has built  a vast fortune through both legal and illegal means.  Emmanuel Newman just out of prison, repudiates his past with sights on a future life but must find the father who killed his mother when he was only a child.  Ultimately he seeks to reconnect with a past he never known.  He has a half-sister he has never met, Isabel Butler, a woman also without a father or mother who feels trapped in a hapless cycle of stagnation she cannot escape.  Contemplating suicide, she receives a phone that changes her life.

These four separate protagonists and their separate paths and world views eventually converge after events bring them together in a moment that may change them all and the city they inhabit.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The name of the blog

This is like the fourth name change of this blog.   You probably won't know this and could give a damn otherwise.

This is the title of the novel I hope to get published in the near future. Well, at least it's a little longer than the actual title, The Noise of Endless Wars.

Will this novel ever be successful?  If the past is any indication of the future, the answer is no.  Of course I'll try anyways.

Well, enough with the unfettered optimism.  I hope to post to this blog once a week, along with two other blogs I will link up to this one.  

I obviously haven't posted on this blog since the day after the 2012 elections.  I don't plan to post much, if anything, about politics.  I plan to blog on and use this blog to focus on my other interests and promote myself and my novel (more on that to come).

I also post an entertainment blog under the name, Wexter (don't ask why I chose that name) at

Saturday, November 10, 2012

2012 election and some thoughts

--A message sent to the GOP: your dirty tricks won't work.

We saw part of the dirty tricks, voter suppression, play out on election night with the long lines.  Fortunately it became an inspiration and a victory of spirit.  Let's celebrate it but work to see that that does not happen again.   

--As someone who pretty much votes with a majority of African Americans, I am disappointed--as usual--in a lot of my white brethren.  I watched them vote in George Bush, members of the tea party, and even vote for Mitt Romney.  Maybe instead of voting for "the black guy", most African Americans might just vote for good candidates over the awful ones.  Sure they got more excited for "the black guy" winning.   But why not? They spent years voting for the lesser-of-two-evils white guy .  Why not get excited because you voted for a competent, charismatic African American in a country where black people were once slaves and have been pretty much getting a raw deal ever since emancipation. I too, as well as other whites, was excited on November of 2008.

Now they celebrate a victory over hatred and bigotry. The right wing threw everything they could at not just Obama but against black voters themselves.  And to say that a majority of blacks voted for Obama because he was black, what about Latinos (71%) and Asians (73%!)?

--Besides Mitt Romney and some senate candidates losing, their agenda also lost.  No abortion for rape victims and dying mothers, austerity, tax cuts, inhumane treatment of immigrants--all (or so I hope) in the past. You can now light up a doob in Colorado, and marry your gay lover in Maryland.*

 --Sour grapes? More like rotten grapes.  The despair and disappointment by Romney supporters on Tuesday turned into ugliness and hatred on Wednesday.  I read some posts by people on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter who mourned the loss of their country and their values. They believed that a democratic majority had doomed this country.  I was disheartened to see so many people making themselves sick with worry over such nonsense.  I think they would do themselves a favor to turn off Fox News and talk-radio for a while, take a long walk, and think things over.  They may come to understand that it is not the end of the world (except for the ones that think Obama's the Antichrist), accept that this country is going in a direction they might not like, and look for ways to still be involved in the shaping of their country (That's what I did in 2004).

As for me I am happy with the national election results and know that this is only the beginning and not the end of the journey.   


*OK. As homogenous as the GOP may look, some support marijuana legalization and gay marriage.