Real and Imagined.

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God is on our Side

I’m currently laid up at home with a bad back. I have CNN on in the background, just for the sound of human voices. I muted it to answer the phone and forgot to turn the volume back on.

Anyway, a moment ago, I looked up and what did I see, but Barack Obama, gesturing as he spoke. And the little CNN “blurb” underneath read “Obama asked if God takes sides in a war.”

Is there any good reason for that question, except to generate pointless controversy? The fact of the matter is, that question exists to make the pro-war crowd feel justified. If Obama says no, then the pro-war crowd can bash him around for saying that God is not with us. If Obama says yes, then he also has to agree that God is on OUR side (anything else would get him accused of being unpatriotic, right?). And if that’s so, then not only is being against the war “unpatriotic,” but it also becomes heresy as well. Better yet: it doesn’t matter how many of our troops get killed or maimed because the war is God’s work.

This is, perhaps, the ultimate in ducking responsibility. It’s not even “The Devil made me do it!” It’s “God wants me to do it!”

I think Bruce Springsteen best summed this up in a rare instance where he discussed the meaning of his songs. Performing before an audience, he sang a line, then explained it. Early in the concert, he performed “Devils and Dust,” with the lyric, “I got God on my side.”

Then paused.

And said, “Doesn’t everybody?”

If there is a God and if He can even be bothered to turn His eye to our small segment of the vast universe on occasion, I can imagine his only reaction to war is NOT “Go, team, go!” But, rather, this:

“You stupid assholes. Why are you killing each other again?”

Stupid Google Tricks

I am easily amused…

  • Go to Google Maps .
  • Click on Get Directions
  • Make New York your starting point and London your ending point.
  • Read the directions. Hilarity ensues.

Like I said — easily amused.

Day-um!

OK, I can think of ten, maybe twelve ways to fake this.

But I don’t care. It looks so. Damn. Cool.

Perfect music choice, too…

Fan Mail

I got fan mail today.

OK, now I hope I don’t sound like I’m tooting my own horn or anything, but I actually get fan mail a lot. (Well, it seems like a lot to me. To some writers, I’m sure it seems like a paucity, but hey — for me it’s a lot!) I almost wrote that today’s fan mail was special, but that sounds like I’m denigrating the rest of my fan mail. Every piece of fan mail is a big deal. For those of you out there who are readers, trust me — you have absolutely no idea how much it can make a writer’s day to get a letter or even just a brief note from a fan. We work in isolation, with only our keyboards, our Internet connections, and our pets to keep us company. We thrive on contact from the outside world.

(Um, said thriving, by the way, does not in any way, shape, or form justify the woman who — a few months ago — called me from out of the blue and said, “I’m in your neighborhood today and was wondering if I could stop by to have you sign my book.” Er, how did you get my phone number? And my address? And, oh, right — NO!)*

Where was I? Oh, yeah — contact with the outside world. We love it. Live for it. Keep that fan mail coming.

Today’s fan mail was… Oh, hell, I’ll say it — it was special. Special in a different way from the rest of the fan mail, which is special in and of itself.

See, today’s mail came…in the mail.

As in, via U.S. Postal Service.

As in, actual physical paper with actual physical ink that produced actual physical handwritten words.

This wonderful, wonderful fourteen-year-old girl from New York was so taken with my book that she actually wrote to me. With a pen held in her own hands.

She didn’t pound on a keyboard. Or text me from a phone.

She sat down with that three-hole-punch notebook paper we all remember from school. She filled three sides of it. She folded it up and put it in an envelope and stuck a stamp on there and sent it to my publisher, who dutifully forwarded it to me.

Like I said, I’ve gotten a decent amount of fan mail since The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girlcame out. And I’ve been thrilled by each and every contact with readers.

But this was just cool. In this Internet-connected world, the time and effort it takes to handwrite a letter and mail it seems almost…superhuman. When was the last time you actually handwrote a letter to someone you didn’t know? Hell, when was the last time you handwrote a letter to someone you do know?

I was really touched by the letter. I’m touched by every instance of contact with my fans.

But this one… Yeah, this one was a little extra-special.


*(Oh, and about that woman who called my house a few months ago? Never fear, dear readers — I arranged to meet her in a public place. She was a perfectly lovely woman who had no idea how much she freaked me out. I happily signed her book.)