Thursday, November 12, 2009

More THIS GREEN HOUSE publicity

A gaggle of good reviews:

Sacramento Bee.

Buffalo News

In Style (at right)

Milwaukee Journal

TGH features in Times Square

Check out this Times Sq Billboard. You can't buy publicity like this. (Well, you can, but I can't.)

DIY Blog: Review of TGH

Here's another good review of TGH.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Pirate News Conference

A spokesman for Somali pirates who hijacked a Ukrainian freighter — which is loaded with tanks, artillery, grenade launchers and ammunition — said today that the group didn’t know the ship was carrying arms when they seized it last week. “We just saw a big ship,” the pirates’ spokesman, Sugule Ali, told the New York Times. “So we stopped it.”
--The New York Times, Sept 30

Somali Pirate News Conference with Sugule Ali

Sugule Ali: Yo ho ho, praise Blackbeard. Please excuse the seating; at the last minute all we could find were the empty rum barrels. Let me start by saying 'Tanks for coming!'


But seriously, like I said yesterday, we really didn't know about the weapons. But let me tell you, that was a nice surprise! [Laughter.] We typically just hijack emergency food shipments and the like. So, this is all new for us, too, mateys. OK, the time is yours.

Reporter 1: How do plan to offload the tanks?

S.A.: Arrrgh! Very carefully! [Laughter.] I'm kidding of course. It goes without saying that the small arms are more our . . . shall we say, booty of choice. The rocket propelled grenades were like the cherry on top of our buccaneer sundae. [Laughter]. You there, landlubber in the back.

Reporter 2: What sort of ransom are you demanding?

S.A.: Got a treasure chest of jewels? [More laughter.] Well, originally we wanted $30 million. But we thought it over, and now, with the U.S. Navy--curse the scurvy dogs--ready to blow us out of the water, we've altered our demands. We'll take ten grand.

Reporter 2: Dollars?

S.A.: No, gold Dubbloons. Yes, of course dollars, you idiot. This credit crisis isn't going to last forever. We might also consider a few hundred barrels of oil. Marine fuel is through the roof.

Reporter 1: Are you still holding hostages?

S.A.: Yes.

Reporter 2: Where are they?

S.A.: In the hold. Avast! [Wipes parrot poop off shoulder.] I told them I wanted to use an inflatable parrot. You know, like Clouseau in that movie? This thing isn't trained.

Reporter 1: Why are you wearing an eye patch?

S.A.: It's piratey. Also the parrot pecked my eye.

Reporter 3: Aren't you afraid of the U.S. Navy? The Russians?

S.A.: No. We've got the tanks, remember. Putin does scare me though.

[Puts hand to earpiece, tilts head.]

Wait, hold on a second. [Nods head.] Right, right. Jolly Roger, over and out. OK, so listen, I've just gotten word that we've decided to reduce our demands. I'm just the messenger here, so I can't get too much into specifics, but let's just say that we need lots of limes and boat-load of cannonballs.

Reporter 2: Why? What about the ten thousand?

S.A.: Forget about that. We've just had word that the U.S. Treasury department is going to float the banks a huge loan. Now that's what I call a target for boarding! Praise Blackbeard!

Reporter 2: What are you going to do if they pay the ransom?

S.A.: Take a Disney cruise. The kids have been bugging me.

Friday, September 26, 2008

I’m From The Government, And I’m Here To Help You:

The Top 10 Ways To Survive The Not-Quite-So-Great Depression

10. Go to a swap meet. Swap all your credit defaults for some gently used Pez dispensers.

  1. Call Iraq. Ask if we can pretty pretty please have our trillion dollars back now.

  1. Call a random U.S. corporation. Claim to be Henry Paulson Jr. with “an offer they can’t refuse.” Use a gravelly voice.

  1. Introduce new U.S. tourism marketing slogan: “The Collateralized States of America—you know, like France, but without the free healthcare and the good cheese.”

  1. Keep shopping. We’ve never met a crisis we couldn’t spend our way out of.

  1. Replace the stock market with a really big game of Chutes-n-Ladders

  1. Play “Which one of these is not like the others?” using Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Fannie Mae, AIG, Washington Mutual, Morgan Stanley, and Merrill Lynch.

  1. Replace all golden parachutes with anvils.

  1. Convert your retirement plan to crude oil.

  1. Party like it’s 1929.

Originally written for BBC Radio 4, Sept 26, 2008

Monday, August 18, 2008

Goings on

Yes, it's been a while.

I've been working on finishing up This Green House, my newest book. It'll be out in 2009. As soon as I get permission from the publisher--even though I own it; isn't publishing wonderful?--I'll be posting some excerpts . . .

Friday, November 02, 2007

FEMA Press Briefing

The Federal Emergency Management Agency staged a fake news conference this week, with agency staff officials, pretending to be reporters, peppering one of their own bosses with decidedly friendly questions about the response to the California fires, the Department of Homeland Security acknowledged Friday.

—The Times

FEMA Press Briefing

Harvey E. Johnson, FEMA deputy director: Thank you all for coming this morning. As you know, FEMA has been working night and day to respond to the wildfires currently burning in parts of Southern California. I’m here to take your questions about our handling of this dangerous situation.

Reporter 1: Did you like your coffee this morning? I added a dollop of heavy cream.

Johnson: Er, yes, it was excellent.

Reporter 1: I’d like to say, and I think I speak for the entire news staff of my paper, that FEMA is doing a stupendous job of addressing a very difficult situation.

Johnson: Thank you very much. Was that your question?

Reporter 1: No. Is that a new haircut?

Johnson: Yes, yes it is. Thanks for noticing.

Reporter 2: Would you describe the fires as being “completely contained,” “pretty much out” or “just lots of smoke”?

Johnson: That’s a very good question.

Reporter 2: It’s the one you wrote on the index card.

Johnson: At this point, we believe the fires are pretty much out and there’s no reason for continued evacuations.

Reporter 1: But it is true that where there’s smoke, there’s fire, right?

Johnson: I suppose you could say that.

Reporter 1: Would you characterize the firefighters as having performed a heckuva job? [Laughter]

Johnson: Well, you said it, I didn’t!

Reporter 3: There have been reports that the tens of thousands of evacuees living at Qualcomm stadium are actually staying in the luxury suites. Is that true?

Johnson: I believe so, but you’d have to check with stadium officials.

Reporter 3: Those are the ones with TVs and complimentary food and beverages, right?

Johnson: Yes.

Reporter 1: Sounds a lot nicer than trailers! Oh, did you get the phone messages I left on your desk this morning?

Johnson: I’ve been in the field all night.

Reporter 1: You sure seem to be working hard. It must be tiring.

Johnson: No, I’m fine.

Reporter 1: You sure? Maybe you’re working too many hours.

Reporter 2: He said he’s fine. Why don’t you stop badgering him?

Reporter 3: Yeah, you’re out of line, Mary. Mr. Johnson, I’d like to turn to FEMA’s response to Hurricane Katrina for a moment. In comparing the agency’s response to the wildfires to its handling of Katrina, would it be fair to say that FEMA has learned from the past and is applying those lessons to its handling of this crisis? Or would it be more accurate to say that FEMA is handling this crisis based on lessons learned in the past?

Johnson: Well, that’s a tough one. I’d say things are going very smoothly.

Reporter 3: But sir, you haven’t addressed my question. In fact, FEMA is handling this crisis based on lessons learned in the past, isn’t that accurate?

Johnson: I don’t want to get into comparing two very different types of natural disasters. Let’s just say that we’ve learned from the past and are handling this crisis accordingly.

Reporter 2: So, you’ve made mistakes. Is that what you’re saying? People make mistakes, and they learn from them. I believe you’re paraphrasing Santana, who said those who don’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it. Is that correct?

Johnson: You mean Santayana.

Reporter 2: It says here “Santana.”

Johnson: That’s a misprint.

Reporter 2: I was wondering about that. Which one is the guitarist? [Laughter]

Reporter 1: That’s Santana.

Johnson: He has a new album out.

Reporter 1: Would you characterize it as “good” or “great”?

Johnson: It’s pretty good. [Laughter]

Reporter 1: You’re hedging, bo . . . er, Mr. Johnson.

Reporter 2: Can we discuss the federal aid that’s just pouring into the region? I mean, it’s like, what, a billion dollars? That sounds like a ton of money.

Johnson: We believe it’s the federal government’s responsibility to step in when a natural disaster overwhelms local and state resources.

Reporter 2: Gosh, it seems like the White House has really stepped up to the plate. You must be pleased with their response.

Johnson: Yes, I just got off the phone with the President. He’s on his way to California as we speak, to survey the damage himself.

Reporter 3: Wait, the President is coming here? Right now? Boy, he really does care. But he’s not stepping on your toes, right sir? He’s giving you the resources you need to battle these fires, but he’s letting you make the important decisions. The decisions your training has prepared you to make?

Johnson: I’d say that’s accurate.

Reporter 3: Shoot, can you repeat that? This tape recorder thingie wasn’t on.

Johnson: I’d say that’s accurate.

Reporter 3: Testing, testing. OK, got it working now.

Reporter 1: Bush is coming? But I thought you said we could go home early.

Johnson: This briefing is over.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

More online stuff going on

First off, you can ignore that post about It's now an entertainment site and I guess I just wasn't damned entertaining enough So, kaput.

But, there' s a lively online discussion going on about THE ESCAPE ARTISTS on The Well. You can view and post, no membership required. Check it out. It'll be up and active for two weeks.

Monday, July 16, 2007

New column on careers

I've just started writing a new column, aimed at college students, on work and careers. Check it out at

It's fun to write, amusing to read, and some clueless college kid somewhere might actually benefit. Ha ha. Just kidding, clueless college kid. Anyway you're probably on YouTube right now anyway . . .