America On Edge

by Shelt Garner

For some time, I have suggested that all America needs is a slight push and all hell is going to break loose. And I still think that. There are two reasons why I believe this to be the case.

One is, I continue to get a trickle of people to this blog looking at my hysterical “terribly negative” predictions of doom and gloom for America’s future, specifically the possibility of civil war. Not that it’s all that many people who are thinking this, but there definitely are a number of people floating around the country thinking enough about civil war that they’re searching for it online.

The other is each new mass causality event in the United States seems to make people even more anxious than they already are. To me, that seems to indicate that the nation is a lot more on edge than it has been up until recently.

As such, it’s at least possible that if some big historic event happened in the US that left us all wondering Which Side Did It long enough for the guns to come out.

Or not. It could be that that isn’t at all what is going to happen. It could be that I’m overestimating how fucked up things are in the US and it will be a lot later, like around 2024 – 2025 before everything is primed for something catastrophic if we get just a little bit more pressure put on our society.

At ~100,000 Words At The End Of The Second Act Of The First Draft Of The First Novel In A Projected Five Novel Project

by Shelt Garner

After several years of hard work, I’m finally — finally — about where I want to be with this first novel. I’m now officially about to break the book (as you might say if you used magazine parlance) on the third act of this novel while being at about 100,000 words. That will put me still in the sweetspot of a first novel (80,000 – 120,000) once I wrap up this first draft.

Then I give myself a month off to read, daydream and generally develop. Then, around July 4th weekend, I’m going to throw myself back into the first novel. I’m hoping that I can keep the word count down. My fear is as the story gets better, the whole thing is going to balloon towards 200,000 words.

So, I’m going to have to combine a lot of scenes and maybe even reimagine some of the novel to make sure I don’t blow past the wordcount sweetspot. I thought I was going to do that with the first draft, to the point that I had a “second track” novel thought up that would be shorter and the calling card that I feared this novel couldn’t be because of word count.

But, now, I think maybe I can use this mystery-thriller as my calling card and the one I try to pitch to literary agents.

I always thought my first novel would be scifi. Oh well. Lulz. Let’s rock.

Fixing Star Wars

A lot of ink has been spilled by people complaining about Disney’s handling of the Star Wars franchise. They’re slowly getting better, but that improvement has come largely on the edges. The main franchise continues to be a shit show of half-measures and muddled movies that seem to be just crap put together in a hap-hazarded way.

The last few franchise movies have been so God-awful that I have simply walked out of them. The issue is not Kathleen Kennedy being “woke,” is that apparently Disney on an institutional level is not fans of the franchise and have no idea what to do with them.

For me, Disney has not one, but several existential problems they have to fix with the main franchise of Star Wars. All of these are extremely difficult to fix because of what Star Wars has become as a cultural and, most importantly financial standpoint.

Off the top of my head, the biggest problem of Star Wars is what you might call the “Bloatware Problem” Disney looks at Star Wars and sees dollah bills — selling toys — and also an opportunity to sell the “woke” agenda to a fan base of mostly center-Right men. Disney has done this to the point that the whole thing is unwatchable now.

But it gets worse.

Star Wars has always been camp for little kids. Despite the best efforts of middle-aged fanboys, Star Wars has no internal logic that functions. Things just happen for no fucking reason. They have begun to try to fix this problem by using the rubric “A Star Wars Movie” for some of the darker films, but Disney wants to sell toys, so it’s difficult to have sex or gore in a Star Wars movie.

There are no ready fixes to these problems.

I do think if they just would cool it with do ANY Star Wars movies for a few years, it might help to clear the air. Then I would really lean into using the massive universe that Star Wars has and explore the stories of lesser known characters.

Go to a planet that doesn’t have just one type of climate, for instance. Anyway, whatever. Until Star Wars gets its act together, I’m going to try to make my own interesting worlds for people to play in.

[Spoilers] Let’s Fix ‘No Time To Die’

by Shelt Garner

Ugh. No Time To Die was a really good film, and, yet, that third act was a huge let down. “Teerrbile,” as my some of the Southerners I know might say. The issue is this — we have this GREAT concept — Bond with a family in danger….and it’s just dropped when Little Bond Daughter bites the finger of the bad guy?

More Phoebe Waller-Bridge in the next Bond!

What the fuck where they thinking?

So, let’s fix it.

Act 1

Inciting Incident: Bond gets called back into service to stop The Bad Guy.

Bond finds out not only does he have a family, but The Bad Guy knows this too and has kidnapped them.
Act 2
His personal life and his mission keep intersecting in ways that force Bond to reflect on his life and all the women he’s banged over the years as well as what he might have had with Vespa. This happens in the context of vintage flashbacks from throughout the last 60 years of Bond that the audience sees in glimpses now and again.

Midpoint: Bond’s baby mamma dies in such a way that it leaves him thinking his daughter is dead, too — has a moment of grief.

He finds out his daughter isn’t dead and this only redoubles his efforts to stop the fiendish plot of The Bad Guy.

Bond manages to get his daughter back, but they’re on the run. The Bad Guys are chasing them through the woods and you lean in as you watch all of this, wondering, are they really going to kill Bond’s daughter? They don’t and the family Bond gets captured.

Bond is forced to have his “Bow, to Lord Zod” moment that is in the real movie. But, hopefully, you would have built out the emotional framework for this scene so when it happens, there is a lot more identification with the audience than what was actually there in the real movie. I found the real scene rather perfunctory.
Act 3
The Bad Guy escapes with Little Girl Bond and the chase is on. But this time, our Little Tyke Bond is far more street smart and makes life hell for The Bad Guy to the point that it’s both amusing like a Roger Moore Bond movie and emotionally compelling.

The climax of the movie is structured such that Bond is forced to work with his daughter for some reason. There’s a massive fight between Bond and The Bad Guy and just as it looks as if The Bad Guy is about to murder her dad, Little Tyke Bond shoves a Glock to her dad and he shoots The Bad Guy dead.

For a moment, all is well.

I would use the new 007 as the person who is babysitting little tyke Bond in the last few scenes as he prepares to kill himself off.

America’s Looming ‘Battle Royale’

by Shelt Garner

The American center-Left has to go beyond angry Twitter rants and move into the more difficult stage of figuring out what the fuck we’re going to do in the real world. The first thing we have to do is do triage. Things aren’t great.

American democracy is in its twilight.

Not only is autocracy very, very popular with huge swaths of the American body politic, you have Steve Bannon actively working on an “administrative coup.” So, it’s very possible that Trump is going to win fair and square without the aid of Bannon’s shenanigans.

So, what does that mean for people who believe in Lincoln’s dream?

We’re fucked.

If there isn’t a civil war, then I would suggest if you can to leave the country. Everyone who doesn’t believe in autocracy is going to leave the country gradually anyway, so lulz. For a lot of people, autocracy is an abstract that is difficult to understand in real terms. That is, of course, until ICE or The Patriot Front starts knocking heads and then, suddenly, the difference between autocracy and democracy becomes a lot more clear.

So, if we slip peacefully into autocracy, we simply gradually become identical politically to Russia and that’s it. In a generation President DeSantis will be eying a chunk of Canada in an effort to secretly have some sort of defense against a warming earth. (Or something.) Form follows function.

Now, we come to the other, more horrific possibility — civil war.

I still don’t think we’re going to have a civil war. And, yet, Trump IS a lazy idiot and the MAGA New Right IS rather bloodthirsty. So, it’s possible to imagine a scenario where the fascists self-own and Blue States are forced to deal with the existential. If that happens, then you have a lot of concrete things to address.

A lot of the excesses of the identity politics, or cancel culture, or whatever the fuck you want to consider will burn off pretty quick when you’re too busy bombing yourself into the stone age through seized WMD to think about your pronouns.

The same dynamic of the first Civil War or WW2 will be at play. Every able bodied person will have to contribute to the war effort. Everything will be thrown up in the air and everything will be up for grabs. There could be a race war in the South. New York City could declare itself a free state. The United States could have a civil war and there not be any sort of clear endgame.

We could just break up into a number of waring states with various shifting alliances and there won’t be any re-uniting of the nation. A lot would depend what California decides to do. If it just leaves the Union because it can then, we’re really fucked. But if it stays and fights, then it can be the Blue State arsenal of democracy.

Things would get a lot more radical. During the civil war, the two sides would grow more radical. In Blue States, especially, suddenly politics would start to work with a big bang because there are a lot — a lot — of popular policies that Blue States want to enact but haven’t been able to because of Republicans.

I don’t want a civil war. But there comes a point, much like 1860 – 1861, when history makes that choice for you. We have to do everything in our power to prevent and avoid a civil war.

But we also need to begin to game out what we’re going to do should one start at some point between Election Day 2024 and Certification Day 2025.

A Return To South Korea

by Shelt Garner

On or about July 24, 2004, I arrived in South Korea for the first time. I was a down on my luck drunk American at the time. Little did I know the adventures that would await me.

It’s fast approaching 20 years since that fateful day, and I find myself wanting to return to South Korea (specifically Incheon, Seoul and Busan) one last time before I shuffle off this mortal coil.

While I think I can pull it off, the whole issue of when it might happen is still very much up in the air. I’d like to do it in 2024 as close to 20 years to the date as I could get, but that’s highly unlikely. More likely, I’ll be happy if I can accomplish this goal a few years on either side of the exact anniversary.

My favorite ROKon Magazine cover.

If I did do such a trip, it would be part of a Japan – ROK – Southeast Asia trip of about two weeks. Now, one issue I’m well aware of is there both a lot of love and a lot of hate for me floating around Asia, even to this day. For every person who would flip out seeing me for a good reason, there would likely be two or three who would do the same but out of anger.

I was a very interesting person in Asia.

Anyway, it’s all very up in the air. I just have a general desire to return one last time to my old stomping grounds in South Korea. I’ve changed a lot — a whole lot — and know that but for the mutual distaste between myself and little Korean kids, I would still be there.

Sometime in 2004.

But there is always the very small chance that I will sell these four novels I’m working on and will make enough money that way that going to Asia won’t be that big a deal anymore for me. That, of course, is at the moment just another instance of me being very, very, VERY delusional.

One man’s hope is another man’s delusion.

The Electoral College Is Obscuring The Severity Of Our Current Crisis

by Ender

It’s difficult to make a one-to-one comparison between the modern United States and early 30s Germany for one crucial reason: Germany was a parliamentary system, while the United States has an presidential system based on balance of powers and an Electoral College.

A more honest depiction of the American political system on the ground would show the American Fascist Party being the biggest party, only countered — at the moment — by a large center-Left coalition. If we had a parliamentary system like German, we would all be freaking the fuck out a lot more because it would be a lot more obvious how dire our situation is.

The Democratic Party is really a center-Left coalition of anti-fascist parties, socialists, moderates, Labor, etc. That’s why it’s so difficult to get the party to do anything — it’s not even really a party, but a jumble of different smaller parties fused together because of how we election our presidents.

Or, put another way — the Electoral College, on a systemic level, is luling us into a false sense of security. It’s difficult for us to comprehend that one of the two major political parties in the United States no longer believes in democracy and are hell bent on establishing an autocratic White Christian ethno state. They will stop at nothing to do this, to the point that they would rather wreck the world economy than have any form of bipartisanship.

Politics is now dead in the United States. In a post-political environment, you’re pretty much just waiting for some sort of crisis to spark some sort of violent historical event be it revolution or civil war.

Also, note that if we were a parliamentary system it would be a lot more clear how dire things are because it would be growing more and more difficult for us to form a government. What the fascists GQP New Right Republicans are doing with the debt ceiling would have an immediate effect as opposed to causing a crisis that would only be felt at the polls in about a year.

The point is — the United States is far, far more unstable than you might think. At the moment, the only thing holding the country together is, well, the political system that the Electoral College mandates. That’s why the next crisis will be severe and it will happen either in 2022 or 2024.

Things are dark.

John Mulvaney, Olivia Munn & SNL As Celebrity Dating Service

by Shelt Garner

The news that John Mulaney is Oliva Munn’s new baby daddy has got me thinking about how old this whole imbroglio has me feeling. Though, given Munn is 41, I think it’s safe to say what happened was she wanted a baby and she “accidently on purpose” get pregnant while she still could. (You go, girl.)

Anyway. I feel old because when I was growing up, SNL was just a TV show. Yes, I remember in the late 70s staying up way, way, way past my bedtime to watch the original Not Ready For Primetime Players, but otherwise, this business of Lorne Michaels becoming a celebrity matchmaker leaves me scratching my head.

What the what?

What about my old cultural friend would lead it to be some sort of celebrity dating service? All I can think of is a LOT of celebrities like having a direct link to the show given how culturally important it is now and how pretty much every celebrity alive passes through its doors at some point in their career.

And, for some reason, SNL’s behind the scenes office politics is legitimately interesting. I have no idea why, but I think some of it has to do with it’s interesting to hear the wild behavior of the show’s larger-than-life cast members.

Though, in passing, it’s so interesting that Great Britain doesn’t have an SNL-like show. Or, put another way, there’s no live show in the UK that is so good that it has become a cultural touchstone for global English speakers.

Second American Civil War: A State By State Breakdown

by Shelt Garner

Macro trends are not on America’s side. As I keep saying, 2024 is going to be it. It’s the year when either the United States turns into a Russian-style “managed democracy” or there’s a civil war. Now, this isn’t going to be a complete list of the 50 states, but I am going to highlight some of the states that may be more problematic should a Second American Civil War erupt.

The state is really two states and, as such, is probably going to be a major flashpoint in any Second Civil War. What’s likely to happen is Portland will buck any attempt at a putsch on the part of bonkers Right wing nutjobs in the rest of the state and, as such, either there’s a really blood struggle in the state or there are a massive amount of political refugees from the Portland area as the rest of the state sides with MAGA.

Again, this is really two states. There’s the NOVA-Richmond-Hampton Roads urban corridor and everything else. It’s very easy to imagine a situation — especially with Virginia’s historic ties to the first Civil War — where the state implodes as we grow closer and closer to a Second Civil War. Too many good old boys in the rural areas of Virginia might get wrapped up in the “Lost Cause” mythos and decide to seize places like Danville (the last capitol of the Confederacy) or Richmond (another Confederate capitol.) If nothing else, simply because of the larger population of the “Blue” parts of the state, there will be significant violence and political refugees as the Blues consolidate power.

I don’t know as much about this state, but it definitely seems as though once the pre-war process of coups and political consolation begins that there will be at least a coup attempt on the part of the Far Right. Again, don’t underestimate how once you actually start murdering people that the dynamics of things change significantly. It’s very possible that there would be a coup in the state, it would fail, and there would be significant political violence as the state’s Blue population fought back and put the state firmly on the Blue side.

New York
Yet again, we have a situation where once politics fails us that the otherwise banal regional differences in a state tears it apart. New York City is far more progressive than the rest of New York State and, depending on how things work out, it’s possible that New York City could become a revolutionary hotbed to the point that is tears itself away from the rest of the state and proclaims itself a Free City. This almost happen during the first Civil War. If nothing else, there will be a serious jiggling of the relationship between NYC and the rest of the state to the point where it aligns itself in any Second Civil War with New Jersey and Connecticut in a way that update New York does not. Or, again, there could be significant political consolidation as Blues from all over the northeast flee to New York and the MAGA-friendly natives of the state flee elsewhere.

I really don’t know that much about this state other than a vague belief that the northern part of the state is far different than the southern part. It’s very easy to imagine significant consolation in the state one way or another as people flee to it as the rest of the country buckles. The state is big — if sparsely populated — and it’s strategic location near the Canadian border might be enough for it to be the home to large refugee camps.

Texas would be in an odd situation as the country fell into civil war because its long-term political trend is shifting Blue, but it’s part of the South and a lot of people consider themselves Southern and MAGA. So either it simply buckles into its own intra-civil war or the MAGA cocksucker fucktards push out all the Blues who flee to Blue States nearby. The end result would be a lot of pissed off former Texans who would be of great benefit to the Blue cause.

In a sense, the whole fate of the United States rests on what California does. If it simply bolts from the Union, then that significantly hobbles the Blue cause on the ground. California sitting on its hands and become its own nation in the event of a Second Civil War makes it far more likely that either Red states win or there is some sort of half-ass balkanization of the United States. But if California stays and fights, then they could provide not only the necessary economy and population for a Blue state victory — after many, many dead — but also something of a vision for what America would look like after we’re finished bombing ourselves into oblivion.

The Deep South
It’s very easy to imagine at the onset of a Second American Civil War most of the old Confederacy on a political level getting extremely excited and having a massive amount of momentum to either leave the Union outright or support the Republican controlled Congress’ attempt to brazenly steal the election. Then reality would sink in — all of the Southern states have significant African American populations and once politics is no longer a viable method of solving problems then the far more brutal dynamics of realpolitik would kick in. I just can’t imagine millions of African Americans lulzing a return to the Confederacy, no matter how badly the white political establishment of those states may want it. So, even though the South has a lot of people and a big economy, it would be, on a regional basis, too busy fighting a race war to really help the Red cause all that much. If things really grew as radical as I fear they will — probably because WMD are stolen and cities start to get vaporized — it’s the Deep South where you’re most likely to see some WW2 level atrocities as radicalized whites begin to murder blacks en mass.

As for the rest of the states, their ability to pick one side or the other is probably far easier and their biggest problem would be dealing with political refugees.