Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Week I've Had So Far

But tomorrow is another day. And I can always make a dress out of the curtains.



Comic Books I Will Never Own

Lifted from Mark Evanier's site.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Iron Crotch

At least once a day I come across a story that reaffirms my suspicion that I’m wasting my life.

For instance, I have never pulled a vehicle using only my penis. But this guy did.

(Okay, technically it wasn't my penis.)

Imagine waking up one day with the realization that your life was incomplete unless you hauled a truck across a parking lot by tying it to Little Mark. Afterwards you could laugh at all those penis enlarging spam mails, couldn’t you?

I mean, after the screaming stopped.

Monday, November 28, 2005

More From Me

That's the lovely cover to Horror Fiction Review #11, which came in the mail today. It's a cool 'zine that -- as the name implies -- reviews a ton of books and magazines. This issue includes a superb interview with talented writer James Newman.

It also has my story "Life's Work", the first piece of fiction HFR has ever published.

Editor Nick Cato knows how to please on a budget. HFR is only two bucks! You can order it here and here.


I've always had a love/hate relationship with westerns. When I was a child we watched a lot of them, even when something cool like, say, Flipper, was on another channel. I had my fill and promised myself when I was in my prime reject-everything-your-parents-like stage that I would never watch another cowboy show. Now, as I age gracefully (cough, cough) I do enjoy the occasional western ( and I'm a big fan of HBO's Deadwood, surely as accurate a portrayal of the old west as any John Wayne film. Heh). In fact, I'm in a bit of a western phase right now. So I got a little excited when I learned The Lone Ranger is coming back to comics.

Dynamite Entertainment is bringing back the masked rider of the plains in a new series, as well as reprints. Get all the details here.

When I was a kid, The Lone Ranger was waning in popularity, but the classic TV show was still on, there were tons of comics and merchandise, and a local radio station was airing the radio show (mostly episodes from the late 40s). This sparked my lifelong love of old time radio and led to a good sized collection of shows. Thank God for the mp3 format or I'd be living in a house full of cassettes.

I still have a few of the comics from Dell and Gold Key. The best recent incarnation of the hero was a mini-series put out in the 90s by the short-loved comics division of Topps. It was written by novelist Joe R. Lansdale and drawn by Timothy Truman.

If you ever find it at a comics shop, snap it up. It's well worth your time.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Party's Over

It’s back to work tomorrow, but it’s been a fine vacation.

This Thanksgiving was the most mellow we’ve ever had. That was good, since Norma’s cold/bronchitis got worse every day. She slept a lot, which meant much reading and writing for me (but no ‘rithmetic).

In fact, it was one of the most productive writing weeks I’ve ever had. I guess I need to get one of those fancy Steve Vernon word count meters.

I’m finishing up a story for an anthology, then it’s back to the novel. I also have to write a fun story for a top secret project before the end of the year. The genre is a particular love of mine, so I’m looking forward to it.

During the Bengals game today ( a game they almost gave away) I worked out a big chunk of my comic book proposal, so I need to carve out some time to formalize that.

At least I won’t be bored.


I’m reading Branded by Ed Gorman.

Gorman, if you don’t know, is one of the finest writers in America. He works in a variety of genres, and every novel is a gem.

Branded is one of Gorman’s westerns, but if you’re not a fan of the oaters, don’t worry. As others have pointed out, most of Gorman’s westerns are really noir mysteries in cowboy dress.

Gorman can set a scene or bring a character to life with just a few word, wielding his keyboard like a scalpel. As a result, his books move like a rocket sled.

Here’s your assignment: Run out to the bookstore or go online and grab an Ed Gorman book -- thriller, mystery, horror, western. He’s one of publishing’s best kept secrets.

You will not be disappointed.

And You Can't Understand Why I Love Comics

Now do you get it???? This is frakkin' ART, man.

Snowmen. Carrot Noses. Corncob Pipes. Death beams from their eyes.

It's magic.

And their evil plan will work. They will conquer Earth. Until, you know, Spring.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Dark Tales

My brief story "Halloween Everlasting" is available in the free anthology Dark Tales. You can download it here.

I'm In A Hard-Boiled Mood

Friday, November 25, 2005

Damned Nation

Due out in January, Damned Nation includes my story "Das Höllenfeuer", along with selections from some really fine writers. It's edited by Robert N. Lee and David T. Wilbanks. It's very affordable, so you can place your order here or here.

As Bartles and James used to say, "Thank you for your support."

It's ET, eh?

According to this press release, former Canadian Minister of Defence Paul Hellyer says UFOs and aliens are real, are here and are very sensitive about having guns pointed at them. Here's my favorite quote:

Hellyer warned, "The United States military are preparing weapons which could be used against the aliens, and they could get us into an intergalactic war without us ever having any warning. He stated, "The Bush administration has finally agreed to let the military build a forward base on the moon, which will put them in a better position to keep track of the goings and comings of the visitors from space, and to shoot at them, if they so decide."

Is this really a good idea? We can't figure out how to get out of Iraq. Do you think we have an Andromeda Exit Strategy?

Currently Reading

The Girl With The Long Green Heart

Hard Case Crime has reprinted another early Lawrence Block novel. Like Grifter’s Game, The Girl With the Long Green Heart is a lean, fast-moving story about con men. Originally published in 1965, the novel showcases Block’s sure hand with plot and dialogue, even at that early stage of his career. Back then, a novel didn’t have to be 400 pages, so you get nothing here but story. No bloat. No padding. And it’s cool to revisit a time when men called women “kitten”. So smoke ‘em if you’ve got ‘em and pick up The Girl With the Long Green Heart.

If you want to try a more recent Block novel, I suggest Small Town.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

I started to put up a jokey post ( cuz that's who I am, it's what I do) but it didn't seem right. I'm a sap about the holidays and I especially love today (okay, I hated Thanksgiving for a few years, right after we were married and had to go four places each year. It was like that episode of The Andy Griffith Show where he ends up with three dinner invitations in one night and spaghetti is served at each one. You try to look excited about your fourth plate of sweet potatoes. That's why we started having dinner here, and despite a couple of attempts to scuttle that, we're on our 14th or 15th, I think).

So I'll spend today with the people who matter most to me. I'll try not to eat too much. I'll watch football, make fart jokes with my brother and try to be thankful for all that I have.

Then later tonight, when everyone has gone and the mess has been cleaned up and Norma is asleep and the cats are wandering the house, sniffing the spots where the guests sat, I 'll heat up a plate of leftovers.

That's what I'm talkin' about.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Let It Snow!

It's a little past 2 in the afternoon here in my part of the Bluegrass state (depsite what the Blogger time stamp says).

The snow is pouring down. I just called my snow-hating best friend to razz her about it.

The turkey is in the oven. Norma has baked two Red Velvet cakes, two pecan pies, and two pumpkin pies. She also made a Better Than Sex cake that I delivered to another friend this morning. Said friend has stated in the past that, while she likes the cake, it's not actually better.

I'm ready for the holiday. Bring on the parade and football. And some dressing.


A copy of Taverns of the Dead arrived today, along with a check for a story. And we didn't get any medical bills. That officially makes this a Good Mail Day.


Instead of blogging, I'm supposed to be cleaning the den/office. But I'm hung up on which books to keep here and which to box up for the attic. A little of that wisdom of Solomon would come in handy.

Or a bigger house.


I wrote another story today. Don't be impressed; it was a very short one and I had planned to write it next week. But the idea struck this morning and wouldn't shut up. So I wrote it down and sent it off.

I received some solid advice today from a writer who I respect more than almost any other. Sometimes I need a good swift boot to the ass and that's what he gave me, though in a polite way.

Bare Bone

I just saw that still has copies of Bare Bone #s 5,6 & 7, each with a story of mine. You can check 'em out here.

I need to order another copy of #7 for my files. I gave my contributor copy to my mother (no, it wasn't a way to get out of a Mother's Day gift).


And when will NBC wise up and replace Katie Couric on The Today Show with the effervescent and leggy Campbell Brown from Weekend Today?

The world would be a different place if I were a network president.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Oh, and....

I finished the short story and bought some stories for Story Station.

Yep, Mr. Productive, that's me.

I'm not sure how much I'll get done tomorrow with all the Thanksgiving preparations, but the next project is making edits in my novella Dead Town, so I can get it submitted next week.

Now it's time to goof off for a bit and maybe watch War of the Worlds or The Polar Express.

Hey, they were the only things that made today's Wal-Mart trip bearable.

"Deadnecks" in Dark Discoveries

The always cheerful USPS lady just rolled up my contributors copies of Dark Discoveries #6 and crammed them into the mailbox.

I've already started getting feedback on "Deadnecks", so I'm glad to finally have the issue in my hands. I can't wait to devour the whole thing later tonight. James Beach always puts out a fine publication (despite his obvious lapse in judegement when buying my story).

You can order it at the DD site or from

Now I have to find someone who wants to publish the sequels, "Deadneck Woman" and "Deadnecks vs. The Martians".

Monday, November 21, 2005

My Relaxing Vacation

I HAVE to finish the first draft of a short story today. That's about 2200 words, but a lot has to happen, so they have to be good words.

I HAVE to edit stories for Story Station today.

I hope by posting this, it will force me to accomplish those tasks, so I won't look bad in the eyes of the three readers of this blog.

But first I HAVE to get the Christmas tree out of the barn and put it up, according to my Supreme High Commander.

Pod of Horror #6

The sixth installment of Horror’s answer to Hee-Haw is now live, featuring:

* Everyone’s favorite Irish Ohioan, Kealan Patrick Burke.

* The Tomb of Trivia, with free copies of WILDWOOD ROAD by Christopher Golden (courtesy of Cemetery Dance) and BONELAND by Jeffrey Thomas (thanks to Bloodletting Press).

* Enter our drawing for a $50 gift certificate and a subscription to Cemetery Dance magazine (and it’s soooooo easy; just send us an email).

* Dave’s Poop.

* Advice Demon Grim Rictus takes a drug test.

Download Pod Of Horror #6 now at I-Tunes or direct from the Horror Reader site.

Now you can listen by clicking on the player in the upper right corner.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Most Realistic Superhero Of All

Blogger's Rights

This Is Only A Test

Fried Green al-Qaedas

I don't necessarily want to turn this into another political blog, but I will occasionally share some of the things I'm reading, including this blog.

Just In Time For Thanksgiving

My wife and I are both showing signs of having the flu. Sore throats, fever and all the rest of the symptoms.

We’re pretty sure it’s not the Bird Flu, even though I crapped on somebody’s windshield yesterday. But that was more of a neighborhood dispute.

I kid.

It wasn’t really a dispute. It was just something I felt like doing.

At least Thanksgiving should be low-stress this year, since our out-of-town family has decided to be somewhere else. Norma also figured that the smaller crowd saves us about $400 on dinner. Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, rice dressing, red velvet cake and pumpkin pie, with plenty of leftovers for me! Bwah-Ha-Ha-Ha!

Sorry. The thought of nuking a plate of leftovers at midnight always brings out the maniacal laughter.


At least it’s vacation for me this week. Hopefully, I can squeeze in some writing and a little reading.

Reading has been tougher than expected since the cataract surgery. I have to wear reading glasses, which provides the same magnification for both of my eyes, when, in fact, they need separate prescriptions. The result is a pulsing in my vision, which leads to eye fatigue after just a few pages. I’m told that this is the brain’s way of dealing with the new eyesight, and that the problem will be cleared up with prescription bifocals. It takes six to eight weeks for your vision to fully adapt to the new lenses after they’re implanted, so I should be able to get new glasses in early December.

I have a gargantuan pile of books and magazines to get caught up on. I’m so far behind on the weekly comics that I may drop a bunch of titles from my pull list.

On the comics front, the Major Event Series from the Big Two have been a pleasant surprise. Marvel’s House of M actually resulted in a huge change to the Marvel Universe (being comics, of course, the change will last only until the next editor or publisher wants it reversed). Meanwhile, DC’s Infinite Crisis looks like it’s heading back toward the multiple-Earth concept that produced hundreds of cool stories in the 60s, 70s and 80s.


The novella I wrote with Dave Wilbanks has been sent out into the cold, cruel world of publishing to make its way or bounce back. We think we have a solid book and the introduction by the Big Name writer should help.

I still can’t believe the kind things he said about the book, both in the intro and privately.

It has us raring to start on the follow-up novel.

Meanwhile, I have the notes back from the first readers of Dead Town, my solo novella. I aim to make all corrections this week so that sucker can get submitted too.

Friday, November 18, 2005

In Case You Were Going to Ask

Since we started Pod of Horror and the barely-entertaining feature Will Mark Justice Ever Get Paid By Gothic.Net?, I get a couple of emails a month asking me about it. So I thought I’d do some ‘splainin’ here for the record.

Back in July 2003 I wrote a post-911 story called “Hole in the Sky” about a New York cabby and the thing only he could see above ground zero. At the time, I thought it was the best thing I had ever written, so I was blown away when it was accepted by Gothic.Net.

I received an acceptance letter detailing the payment I would receive (the most I would have been paid for a story, at the time) and the date the story would go up on the site.

Sure enough, on December 29, 2003, my little story appeared on Gothic.Net. It was a big thrill for me. It was also the first time I had received much positive feedback on a piece of fiction.

So I sat back and waited on the paycheck.

And waited. Then I waited some more.

After a few months I wrote the editor. She said she had nothing to do with payments and she would have to check with someone else.

A few more weeks of silence.

I emailed her again. This time she indicated she was still working on it.

And that was the last I ever heard from her. Subsequent emails went unanswered.

Not being very experienced in the genre or in publishing, I wasn’t sure where to turn. Eventually I posted my situation on the Shocklines message board. Immediately, several writers jumped on to sing the praises of Gothic.Net and how quickly they received their payment. A couple of other writers had, like me, been overlooked when the checks were cut. The thread died after a day and I moved on.

Sort of.

It still rankled me. I just wasn’t sure there was anything I could do about it.

I still sent the occasional email to the editor. Like the others, these never received a reply.

Then back in late spring or early summer, a notice appeared in some of the market reports that Gothic.Net was open to fiction again.

While I had no hope of getting paid, I thought I should share my story to prevent somebody else from getting a screwing.

Again, my posts received a number of responses defending Gothic.Net and its owner. A couple of posters mentioned that the guy had been going through a rough economic period.

Tough times? I get that. Been there myself.

Eighteen months of silence? That’s a little harder to understand.

Finally, the owner himself appeared on the thread and reiterated his financial woes. But he also invited any writer who had not been paid to invoice him so he (the owner) could get caught up.

So I invoiced him. Three times.

A few months later I followed up with a couple of inquiries.

This is going to come as a shock, so I hope you’re sitting down.

I didn’t get a reply. To any of my messages.

So along comes Pod of Horror and Will Mark Justice Ever Get Paid By Gothic.Net?

Since POH began, I’ve received a couple of semi-polite notes from other writers suggesting that, um, maybe I shouldn’t, uh, bad mouth a publisher, you know? They might blacklist me or something.

My response is simple. Why in the name of the sweet baby Jesus do you think I would EVER want to submit to a publication that boned me?

For the pleasure of getting shit on again? Yeah, that’s appealing.

And just in case you’re thinking of dropping me a line to tell me how well you were treated by these guys, please don’t bother. I’m happy for you, but it doesn’t mean dick to me.

I hope Gothic.Net gets their problems cleared up. I hope everyone who sells a story to them gets paid.

Until then, my message is this: proceed with caution.

And if you’re a publisher with a cash flow problem, let your writers in on it. I bet most would be understanding, to a point.

Silence, on the other hand, is just insulting.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Another Story

I sold "Appointed Night" to the online magazine Dark Krypt so long ago I had forgotten about it. I just found out that it's online now. Click here to read it.

I wrote it right after Christmas a couple of years ago when I was filled with the warmth of the holiday season and love for my fellow human beings.

But don't worry. It doesn't show.

Our Little Book Part 2

The Well Known Writer has finished the introduction for our novella. It was waiting in my In box when I got up this morning.

My head is still spinning.

My first thought was: "This guy -- one of the best writers out there -- likes our stuff???"

After I remembered how to breathe, my current mantra became: "Let's submit this before he changes his mind!"

I'll keep you updated.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Free Short Story

My story "Down Among the Lonely" is up now at The Late, Late Show.

Let me know what you think.

My So-Called Life

It’s been a busy week already.

Tuesday night I co-hosted a roast for the mayor of the city where I work. It meant missing a little sleep, but it was a lot of fun and we raised a bunch of money for the March of Dimes.


What happened to all that free time I used to have for writing?


Diabolical Dave Wilbanks and I are busier than Santa whipping his elves as we cobble together Pod of Horror #6. This episode features an interview with one of my favorite new writers, Kealan Patrick Burke, the author of The Turtle Boy and The Hides. He’s frank and funny, but that feller don’t talk like he’s from ‘round hyar.

POH #6 should go live on Monday.


Over at the Shocklines message board, Bev Vincent published this description of Stephen King’s new novel, The Cell, due in January:

Civilization doesn't end with a bang or a whimper. It ends with a call on your cell phone.

What happens on the afternoon of October 1 came to be known as the Pulse, a signal sent though every operating cell phone that turns its user into something...well, something less than human. Savage, murderous, unthinking-and on a wanton rampage. Terrorist act? Cyber prank gone haywire? It really doesn't matter, not to the people who avoided the technological attack. What matters to them is surviving the aftermath. Before long a band of them-"normies" is how they think of themselves-have gathered on the grounds of Gaiten Academy, where the headmaster and one remaining student have something awesome and terrifying to show them on the school's moonlit soccer field. Clearly there can be no escape. The only option is to take them on.

CELL is classic Stephen King, a story of gory horror and white-knuckling suspense that makes the unimaginable entirely plausible and totally fascinating.

I am so there.


We have three VCRs, two of them replacements for older machines. Before the cruise, I set them all to tape the various shows we watch (Commander-In-Chief, Supernatural, Desperate Housewives, Gilmore Girls). When I checked the tapes a few minutes okay, I found out that unlike the old VCRS, the two new machines did not switch automatically to daylight savings time.

I guess I’ve found some extra writing time.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Our Little Book

I don’t think I’ve mentioned the novella I’ve written with David T. Wilbanks, my partner on Pod of Horror.

Back on April 1 (yeah, the irony hasn’t escaped me, either), Dave asked if I wanted to write a novel with him. I jumped in as I usually do, with all limbs flailing, crapping out ideas and characters like a salad shooter. The initial concept was Dave’s and we massaged that sucker for a bit, then started writing.

We quickly realized that the story was bigger than we had first thought. So Dave suggested a prequel. The novel went on hold and the novella was begun. We stuck to a tight schedule and finished fairly quickly, with few disagreements ( though I still think I could have made a case for grass in a New Mexico backyard, dammit!).

We sent the manuscript out to a few writers whose work we respect and the response – so far – has been favorable.

And right now an introduction is being written by an author who I consider to be one of the finest creators of horror and dark fantasy to ever put words on paper. This guy makes ninety percent of the other writers out there look like freshmen creative writing students. He sneezes out stuff that is better than anything I will ever write.

My palms are sweating.

I keep expecting an email that says he’s come to his senses and deleted our file. Or that the very act of reading the novella has put him into an irreversible coma, and Dave and I will be forever remembered for bringing a brilliant career to an early, tragic end.

And if he does survive the reading of our story, then all we have to do is find a publisher.

Wish us luck.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Dean Koontz: Racist?

A group of mystery writers is upset about comments that Dean Koontz made in a recent speech. You can catch up here.

I’ve read most of Koontz’s output. If the man’s a racist, he certainly hides it well.

What I actually think happened here is something I can identify with. It’s a syndrome we’ll call “I Thought It Was Funny At The Time”. Anyone who has ever spoken in public has probably succumbed to ITIWFATT at least once. You’re facing an audience. You want them to like you. Or, at the very least, you want them to respond to you. So you dredge up a joke, a comment, an expression, a sound, that you hope will elicit laughter. Sometimes it works. Other times you cut bait and move on as quickly as you can.

I’ve fallen prey to ITIWFATT dozens of times: on the air, while hosting events, at parties. It aint pretty, but it comes from a flop-sweat inducing desire to entertain, rather than a need to promote a personal creed or value.

According to Koontz, the joke had worked before.


Most audiences are very generous when it comes to celebrities. I think it’s safe to assume that most of the people who show up to hear Koontz talk are fans, eager to show a little love for Their Guy. So I have no trouble believing they laughed at the Mr. Teryaki line.

That doesn’t mean it’s especially funny.

See, while I ‘ve read nearly all of Koontz’s novels, I do think he – like all writers – has a few flaws (we don’t have the bandwidth to discuss my feelings on Koontz insistence on using obscure words, though he seems to have eased up in the last couple of books). For example, he’s not as funny as he seems to think he is. Much of his attempted humor falls flat or seems forced.

Still, he gets points for attempting comedy. And it certainly sets him apart from most horror/thriller writers.

Oh, yeah. And he still sells a gazillion books, so somebody likes what he does. I personally find a lot to recommend in Koontz’s books. That’s why I buy them in hardcover.

But is he a racist? Nah. Not from where I’m sitting.

This is another case of overreaction in action. Besides, look at who’s complaining. Is it the general public venting over the bad joke made by the prolific and phenomenally successful writer?


ITIWFATT doesn’t have a telethon or a charitable foundation. But many of us suffer from it. Dean Koontz is one.

Controversy seekers and Koontz detractors will keep this alive for a while, until most people who care enough to follow the story see it for what it is.

A bad joke.

Mitch Albom's Giant Ears

As I type this, I'm watching The Sports Reporters on ESPN.

I think Mitch Albom is a fine sports writer, okay novelist and pretty good interviewer.

But those massive friggin' Ferengi ears are freaking me out. Can you get Lobe Reduction surgery?

(Yeah, I know. I'm no GQ cover boy, either. It just weirds me out. Kinda like Giada De Laurentiis's oversized head.)

Sorry. I've held that in for too many years. Please continue with what you were doing.

Lindsay Lohan's Nipples

Unlike other bloggers -- who shall remain unnamed -- I will not lower myself, or the high standards this blog has set, to mention Miss Lohan's nipples in a cheap attempt to get more hits.

But if you did stop by for Miss Lohan's nipplage, maybe you'll find them in Dark Discoveries #6, which has my story "Deadnecks", or Horror Fiction Review #11, where you'll find my "Life's Work".

I mean, I haven't actually seen those issues yet, so they could have pics of Lindsay with the AC on, right?

The Seadog Returns to Port

Back home.

The floor in my den is swaying. Can't wait till I get my landlegs again.

Went parasailing in Mexico. My feet are sunburned. I performed "Funky Cold Medina" in the kareoke bar with two other, uh, alcoholically inspired shipmates. I missed my cats.

It's good to be back.

More when I can get more than three hours sleep.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

My Pirate Days

In case our cruise ship is boarded by pirates, we can defuse the tension thanks to this joke my pal Bob Queen told me.

A pirate walks into a bar. On the front of his pants is a steering wheel.

The bartender takes a look at this and says to the pirate: “Hey, buddy, did you know there’s a steering wheel on the front of your pants?”

“Arrrrr,” the pirate says. “It’s driving me nuts!”

Popping My Blogger Cherry

It's been a long time coming, as inevitable as a session on the can after a trip through the White Castle drive-thru.

I'm a blogger.

We're furiously packing for our cruise. We're going to Grand Cayman, then somewhere in Mexico. Originally it was going to be Cozumel, but since that garden spot was wiped from the face of the earth, we'll be stopping at a backup site.

(And everybody has directed me to the story about pirates attacking the cruise ship off the coast of Somalia. I don't think we'll have a pirate problem on our cruise, but it begs the question: who picks Somalia for a vacation destination? "Somalia: Come for the starvation, stay for the genocide.")

Before the trip, I still have some administrative things to take care of at work, two reviews to write, and a Bengals game to watch with my brother (can't let productivity stand in the way of the Bengals).

I want to finish a short story, as well, but that probably means no sleep. Hey, I can always snooze on the plane, right?

For the trip, I'm packing Dusk by Tim Lebbon, who we just interviewed for Pod of Horror #5. That episode goes live in the morning right here.

POH #5 includes the BBC appearance from Halloween night, the "we want you for fifteen minutes, but it will actually only be three and we'll cut you off as you scream out the web site address so no one can easily utilize this free publicity to find you" appearance.

Page Horrific just went up with my reviews of Blood Red by James A. Moore and Cold Flesh edited by Paul Fry. But the highlights of the issue are Dave Wilbanks' interview of Ray Garton and another great column by Tom Piccirilli.