Bucs Blog! 2018 Season, Week 10.

You know I can’t quit you, Bucs, but damn.

Redskins 16 – Bucs 3

Dubious records and honors have been a part of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ DNA pretty much from the jump. I mean, I was there in their inaugural season when they went 0-14, then the for second season when they lost the first twelve games before finally securing the first-ever victory. I watched, year after year, as the Bucs became the longest-running team in NFL history to never return a kickoff for a touchdown. In 2010, they received the honor of being the only team to have all their home games blacked out in the Tampa market due to low ticket sales. The team’s 40+ year history is filled with all sorts of amusing (and irritating) anecdotes of this sort.

With yesterday’s game against the Washington Redskins, the Bucs added another stat to their books: First NFL team in history to accumulate 500 or more yards of total offense while scoring 3 or fewer points. Yes, NFL statisticians have way too much fun cataloging oddball facts like this. One would think we’d all like to forget these sorts of things and just wallow in yet another loss. Reading such an infonugget while still stinging from the latest defeat is like jamming an entire salt lick into a sucking chest wound. I mean, you’d think with that kind of moving around, you’d at least stumble into the end zone at least once, right? Even by accident?

Ah, nope.

Instead, five separate visits to Washington’s red zone yielded four turnovers and those precious three points Tampa managed to collect. Of those 500 yards we’re talking about, Bucs quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for over 400 of them. With no touchdown passes. With two interceptions. Add two lost fumbles to the mix, and a defense who for the sixth consecutive game failed to create a turnover, and you start to see the recipe for not winning coming together.

All of this, from the league’s #1 passing offense.

Shit.

The loss, Tampa’s third in a row, drops the Bucs to 3-6 and still in the NFC South Division’s basement. New Orleans kept on keeping on yesterday, winning their eighth straight game while both Carolina and Atlanta lost.Next up? The Bucs are on the road to take on the New York Giants, who are having an even worse year than Tampa. I’m guessing this won’t be the “game of the week” or the matchup NBC decides they want to flex into the primetime spotlight next Sunday.

As the Bucs continue treading water with cement blocks tied to their feet, the post-season picture is already starting to take shape. Incredibly, given the turmoil currently embroiling the NFC, Tampa’s still in the hunt, at least on paper. However, the Bucs need to get their act together, and pretty damned fast, if they plan to do anything but watch football on TV in January.

Bucs life. Grr. Argh.

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Veterans Day.

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the ending of the First World War, which raged across Europe for more than four years and ultimately resulted in forty million military personnel and civilians dead or wounded. Key leaders of the Allied Powers and Germany reached an agreement to end the fighting at 5:00am on the morning of November 11th, 1918 in Paris. The resulting armistice went into effect at 11:00am (“the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month”), at which time the weapons of war finally fell silent.

We remember.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

– Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, 1915

Erin-PoppyField
(Artwork: Erin Ward)

Happy 243rd Birthday, Marines!

On November 1st, 1921, John A. Lejeune, 13th Commandant of the Marine Corps, directed that a reminder of the honorable service of the Corps be published by every command, to all Marines throughout the globe, on the birthday of the Corps. Since that day, Marines have continued to distinguish themselves on many battlefields and foreign shores, in war and peace. On this birthday of the Corps, therefore, in compliance with the will of the 13th Commandant, Article 38, United States Marine Corps Manual, Edition of 1921, is republished as follows:

On November 10, 1775, a Corps of Marines was created by a resolution of the Continental Congress. Since that date many thousand men have borne the name Marine. In memory of them it is fitting that we who are Marines should commemorate the birthday of our Corps by calling to mind the glories of its long and illustrious history.

The record of our Corps is one which will bear comparison with that of the most famous military organizations in the world’s history. During 90 of the 146 years of its existence the Marine Corps has been in action against the Nation’s foes. From the Battle of Trenton to the Argonne, Marines have won foremost honors in war, and in the long era of tranquility at home, generation after generation of Marines have grown gray in war in both hemispheres, and in every corner of the seven seas that our country and its citizens might enjoy peace and security.

In every battle and skirmish since the birth of our Corps, Marines have acquitted themselves with the greatest distinction, winning new honors on each occasion until the term “Marine” has come to signify all that is highest in military efficiency and soldierly virtue.

This high name of distinction and soldierly repute we who are Marines today have received from those who preceded us in the Corps. With it we also received from them the eternal spirit which has animated our Corps from generation to generation and has been the distinguishing mark of the Marines in every age. So long as that spirit continues to flourish, Marines will be found equal to every emergency in the future as they have been in the past, and the men of our Nation will regard us as worthy successors to the long line of illustrious men who have served as ‘Soldiers of the Sea’ since the founding of the Corps.

— from The Marine Officer’s Guide

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Happy Birthday, Marines! 243 years old today. Semper Fi!

Talking Trek and Eating Brains on the Super Geeks Podcast!

And once again, I’m babbling.

I’m babbling, and somebody decided it’d be cool to record said babbling and offer it up for later listening to an unsuspecting populace. This time, I sit down with hosts George Silsby, Carlos Pedraza, “Chelle,” and Sunseahl Silverfall for an all-new episode of their Super Geeks podcast.

While we spend a few minutes talking about my writing – specifically, the experience of writing Drastic Measures, my Star Trek: Discovery novel – the conversation does end up bouncing around to talking about the show itself, the recently announced and still-forthcoming “Picard” series and “Lower Decks” animated series, the pros and cons of streaming services, and assorted topics that seem to pop up as we move merrily along.

The episode clocks in at an hour and fifty minutes, but it sure seemed to fly by. Have a listen, if you’re of a mind to do so:

Super Geeks, Season 2 Episode 13: “Dayton Ward Ate Our Brains!”

Many thanks to George, Carlos, Chelle, and Sun for inviting me to hang with them for a bit. They’ve invited me back to talk about whatever at some future date, so maybe our paths will cross again one day soon!

October writing wrap-up.

Yeah, yeah. I’m a few days late with this, but I had a good reason.

Actually, nah. I didn’t. Just was busy doing catch-up stuff after turning in the novel manuscript. This was one of the items on that list, so where we are!

The big story, writing-wise, was the novel (see below). With that done, I treated myself to a little breather last week, but now I’m starting to get organized and turn my attention to whatever’s next on my writing agenda. With that in mind, here’s the October rundown:

Continue reading “October writing wrap-up.”

Bucs Blog! 2018 Season, Week 9.

Y’all are going the wrong way!

Panthers 42 – Bucs 28

Here’s the deal: having the NFL’s #1 offense only takes you so far when you’re giving up an average of 30+ points per game to your opponent. It means every game ends up being a shoot-out, something the Bucs have never been built to do. They’ve come close a few times, but over the long haul Tampa’s just never been that kind of team, and they really shouldn’t have to be. Once possessing a hungry, opportunistic, punishing defense, when the Bucs were on their game they could hold an opposing team to 17 points or fewer. With the offense they currently wield, that would be more than sufficient for the offense to carry the day.

Sometimes I really miss you, Monte Kiffin.

Instead, Cam Newton and the Carolina offense had their way with the Bucs defense during the first half of yesterday’s contest. Fakes, reverses, double reverses, runners who seemed to be coated in baby oil as they zipped and darted through the Tampa secondary, and a quarterback all but unchallenged in the pocket were enough for the Panthers to run up 35 points during the first two quarters of play. At one point during the early going, I wondered on Facebook and Twitter if the Bucs had actually made the trip, or if the Tampa coaches just found 11 eyes wandering the concourse and stuck them in uniforms. The first quarter in particular was a brutal outing for the D. Carolina had their number and just kept curb-stomping them at every opportunity.

It was, to put it mildly, embarrassing, but then the Bucs offense, guided by Ryan Fitzpatrick who started in place of the still-struggling Jameis Winston, finally started to put things together. They fought their way to two touchdowns of their own before the end of the half. There was that bit of business with an attempted fake punt that ended up about as horrible as you might imagine. It was a little trainwreck, nicely setting up the Panthers do add to their already daunting lead. I’m already trying to scrub it from my brain.

Then, as has been the case in recent weeks, Fitz and the Bucs started to click. Motivated by the good goings-on, the Tampa defense responded in kind, holding the Panthers scoreless throughout the third quarter and well into the fourth. Meanwhile, the Bucs ate into Carolina’s lead, pulling to within 7 points with almost the entire fourth quarter left to play. It only took 5 minutes of game clock for Newton and the Panthers to get back in the groove, tacking on another touchdown to extend their lead. The Bucs last two drives ended with a stall/punt and an interception to seal the deal. Unable to prevent the Carolina offense from advancing and out of time-outs, the Bucs let the Panthers get far enough so that they could run out the clock. Game over.

Sigh.

Their second straight loss drops Tampa to 3-5 and a commanding grip on the bottom rung of the NFC South Division ladder. New Orleans, Carolina, and Atlanta are all on winning streaks and picking up speed as they head in the opposite direction, with the Saints on a 7-game run with no signs of slowing down.

Next up? The Bucs are back home to host Washington. At the season’s halfway mark, all games are important from here on if Tampa holds out any hope of post-season play.

Bucs life, ain’t it?

Your Moment of TrekZen*.

From the Annals of Knock-Off and Even “WTF?” Merchandising comes Mr. Rock, Space Adventurer from Another Planet!

“What the hell?” I can hear many of you asking. According to the MegoCollector.com, this figure was produced and distributed by a company called Lincoln International during the 1970s, right about the time Mego was running and gunning with their super-slick and very fondly remembered line of 8″ action figures based on a number of comic, film, and TV characters, including the original Star Trek crew. Once the Mego’s version of Mr. Spock hit the market, this one pretty much disappeared, almost certainly in the hopes of avoiding a lawsuit.

Finding an original Mr. Rock figure – with or without his original packaging – is likely a Holy Grail item for serious collectors. Be sure to check out the page devoted to Mr. Rock on MegoCollector.com to see more/better pics of this little bit of hilarity.

(* = inspired by the “Your Moment of Zen” segments from The Daily Show)

Headless and Other Improbable Excitations of The Muse, a Kickstarter project by Michael Jan Friedman.

My pal Mike Friedman is up to something, again.

For those who don’t know, Mike is a salty author. He’s got a list of publishing credits about a mile long, including novels, short stories, comics, and TV, so yeah…he’s been around the block a few times.

About once a year or so, he gets a wild hair…uh…someplace, and decides it’s time to undertake the challenge of bringing to life some kind of writing project without the benefit of a traditional path to publication. In recent years, he’s turned to crowdfunding to help him acquire the money necessary to bring these plans to fruition. His typical mode of operation is to set modest fundraising goals in order to cover the expense of bringing the project to life, and in every case (five, so far), he’s hit his mark and delivered on everything promised.

He’s also one of the genuinely good, decent guys in this whole writing business thing. He’s been a friend and supporter from the first time I met him 15-odd years ago at my first Shore Leave convention appearance, and he’s on a very, very short list of people to whom I can never say “No,” such as when he asks a favor like promoting his latest project.

What’s he got brewing this time? Another collection of short stories and a followup to his earlier collection of short fiction, Cabal and Other Unlikely Invocations of The Muse. Having apparently not learned his lesson when it came to considering the virtue of a shorter title (the other book did fine, regardless), Mike’s new anthology of more of his own short tales is to be called Headless and Other Improbable Excitations of The Muse.

(I can already hear that book’s spine bending under the weight).

What’s it all about? Well, I’ve learned it’s best to just let Mike tell you:


Headless has all the kinds of stories I’ve become known for in books, in comics, and on TV–fantasy, science fiction, and superhero yarns. And as I said of Cabal, my first short-fiction collection, I really like the work I’m doing in these stories. I’m PROUD of it.

SO WHAT’S IN THIS BOOK ANYWAY?

* In Headless, the title story, a crewman aboard a starship does his best to carry out his duties without a critical portion of his anatomy.

* In Cold Case, a private investigator tries to find the killer of a most unusual victim–the son of a winter deity–as we revisit The City of A Thousand Gods.

* In The Company of Failed Beings, a teen-aged superhero searches for a cure to a bizarre malady that keeps him from using his powers.

* In Anteater, Doughnut, Casino, we travel to a diner beyond time to see the forces of good and evil compete for the ultimate prize. 

* In Connections, a woman with remarkable intellectual powers finally appears to have met her match.

* In The Garvin Street Ghost, a man returns to his old neighborhood to resurrect the best part of his past.

* In Geocachers, a sister and brother find themselves taking the long–very long–way home.

* In The Spirit of Lost Women, a businessman in provincial Mexico must bargain with a devil to get his wife back.


Sounds cool, amirite?

For the complete rundown on Headless and Other Improbable Excitations of The Muse and all the delicious rewards and stuff waiting for those  who boldly choose to opt in, run on over to Kickstarter and check out the project’s page:

Headless and Other Improbable Excitations of The Muse
by Michael Jan Friedman

Headless-Cover-Cropped

Good luck, Mike!

Happy 80th Anniversary to the War of the Worlds radio broadcast!

Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt our program of dance music to bring you a special bulletin from the Intercontinental Radio News.

At twenty minutes before eight, central time, Professor Farrell of the Mount Jennings Observatory, Chicago, Illinois, reports observing several explosions of incandescent gas, occurring at regular intervals on the planet Mars. The spectroscope indicates the gas to be hydrogen and moving toward the Earth with enormous velocity.

Professor Pierson of the Observatory at Princeton confirms Farrell’s observation, and describes the phenomenon as, quote, “Like a jet of blue flame shot from a gun,” unquote.”

Uh-oh.

wotw

On the evening of October 30th, 1938, 80 years ago tonight, Orson Welles did no less than scare the unfettered crap out of a whole bunch of people who had done nothing more than tune in to listen to the latest weekly episode of Welles’ Mercury Theatre on the Air.

Whoops.

Adapting H.G. Wells’ seminal novel of the same name while updating it for the “modern” era of 1938 and moving the action from London to Grovers Mill, New Jersey, Orson Welles presented The War of the Worlds as a series of radio news broadcasts pretending to interrupt other “regular” programming. Many of those who missed the announcement at the start of the show or Welles’ remarks at the end of the broadcast actually thought they were hearing real news interruptions reporting on disturbances in and around Grovers Mill, along with frightening descriptions of the otherworldly machines and the destruction they were wreaking as they advanced across the countryside.

The actual impact of the show, so far as how many people might’ve believed it to be real or with respect to any ensuing public panic, has been the subject of debate pretty much since that night, but there’s no denying the broadcast’s contributions to pop culture. The War of the Worlds remains a staple of Halloween programming on radio stations to this day. Schools and radio stations often perform their own versions of the play, and it has been officially updated/remade on at least two separate occasions, including one performance by L.A. Theatre Works and featuring Leonard Nimoy, John DeLancie and a host of other actors from the different Star Trek series.

The original broadcast has been referenced and parodied or provided story springboards in numerous films, television series, books and comics, and the events of the invasion at Grovers Mill even were included into the backstory of the War of the Worlds television series, itself a sequel to the 1953 film and which celebrates its own milestone this year, having premiered 30 years ago on October 10, 1988. During festivities to observe the 50th anniversary of the radio broadcast, a permanent monument marking the “Martian Landing Site” was unveiled in Grovers Mill:

Roadside America: 1938 Martian Landing Site Monument

Cool.

Also in 1988 as part of the anniversary festivities, AT&T video newsmagazine Directions interviewed telephone operators from across the United States who were working that evening, and dealt with the huge influx of calls from terrified listeners. Decades before cell phones or even 911, operators were the first point of contact for those seeking emergency assistance. Needless to say, those folks had a rough night. Check out an archived version of the video at the AT&T Archives: “Operators Help Save the World from Martians.”

Meanwhile, the Newseum (among other sites) has the entire broadcast available for free listening. What? You say you want to listen to this for yourself, and see what all the fuss is about? BOOM. Here you go:

Newseum: “The Original Broadcast That Panicked the Nation”

Enjoy. I plan to. It’s a Halloween tradition for me, too.

Strange to watch the sightseers enter the museum where the disassembled parts of a Martian machine are kept on public view. Strange when I recall the time when I first saw it, bright and clean-cut, hard and silent, under the dawn of that last great day….”