Sunday, December 30, 2007

Further Thoughts on the WGA Strike: Avoiding Being Tuned to a Dead Channel

I was interviewed by Lawrence O'Donnell on KCRW National Public Radio's "To The Point" this past Friday about the continuing WGA strike and its impact. This was a return engagement for me - I was interviewed on KCRW's "Which Way L.A." about the strike by Warren Olney at its outset in the beginning of November.

The most significant part of Friday's interview, from my perspective, was an exchange of sorts between me and Shawn Ryan - a member of the WGA negotiating team, and creator, among many other important accomplishments in television, of the critically acclaimed "The Shield".

I said, at the conclusion of my interview, that I thought the television viewers were being hurt the most by this strike, and then the writers themselves.

Shawn Ryan responded, with more than a bit of derision, that, well, of course it's unfortunate that television viewers are being inconvenienced by not being able to see their favorite shows, but obviously writers who are not getting paid during the strike, and need the money to live, are being hurt far more.

Radio - even NPR - being what it is, I never got the chance to respond. But that's what they make blogs for, so here's what I would have said:

First, of course writers are suffering more due to the loss of income during the strike, and the damage that creates. Indeed, one of my main points before and during the strike has been that the writers are hurting themselves more than those they are striking against.

But dollars and cents and the essential things they buy are not the only things of great value being damaged by the strike.

There is also a psychic, cultural damage, that is very different from the sheer economics, but can affect far more people, and have a much longer impact.

Television viewing of scripted shows, like all forms of narrative appreciation, is based on what Samuel Taylor Coleridge called a "willing suspension of disbelief" - we know that what we're seeing is not real, but a part of our mind pretends that it is. This allows us to make the story our own - to care, sometimes deeply, about the story and its characters. We take time out of our busy lives to read the book, go to the movies, watch television.

In the case of television, this process can be especially profound. We become engaged in continuing series, on screens that cost us little or nothing to watch, in our living rooms and bedrooms. When this process clicks, the characters and the stories can become almost essential parts of our lives. This is what the television industry hopes will happen - and, contrary to what many critics of television in the academic world say, I think that's by and large a very good thing. (See my book, The Soft Edge, for more of my championship of television and its benefits.)

This is what is being jeopardized by the strike, and it's more than a mere inconvenience. Although series are not yet being stopped in mid-stream, their relationships with viewers are being seriously disrupted. Lost, which had such a fabulous finale in May, will debut its new season at the end of January - but with only eight episodes. 24, which was supposed to start in January, won't go on at all. Mad Men, which had a superb and pathbreaking first season on AMC, was supposed to start production on season 2 in November - and that's now on hold. And this is just the beginning.

Comparing these jeopardized viewer relationships to writers not receiving income during the strike is obviously comparing apples and oranges.

But a shattering of the bond between television viewer and television may be irreversible - and lead to something which cannot be healed by money - viewers going elsewhere, to non-television screens, for their entertainment.

This in no way lets the television networks and producers off the hook for being so stingy and unfair to writers.

But it means the WGA should think again about how long it will keep the strike going. Writers can convey their arguments to the producers - and the public - without being on strike. Reason can prevail without risking the destruction of the medium that the writers toil so hard to make alive.

"The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel," William Gibson began his 1984 Neuromancer. Let's hope that doesn't describe the future of television...

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Silk Code in Top 20 of 2007 Podiobooks!

I'm usually trumpeting The Plot to Save Socrates when I talk here about my science fiction novels - which is pretty often - but today I'm pleased to announce that the podiobook of my 1999 novel, The Silk Code - as read by my good friend Shaun Farrell - has made the Top 20 Most Popular Podiobooks of 2007.

The list is in alphabetic order, so I have no idea how high it placed in the Top 20, but given my ego and imagination...

The nice thing about podiobooks is they're free! And Shaun gave this a good reading. You can get all of the chapters right here.

The Silk Code won the Locus Award for Best First Science Fiction of 1999, and it was also the first appearance in novel of Dr. Phil D'Amato - my NYPD forensic detective.

Phil appeared in the novelettes The Chronology Protection Case, The Copyright Notice Case, and The Mendelian Lamp Case earlier in 1990s, and the novels The Consciousness Plague and The Pixel Eye, published after The Silk Code. See the links below, and/or here for further details.

Phil even has a Wikipedia entry.

A complete list of links for and about the adventures of Dr. Phil D'Amato follows ...







David G. Hartwell, Cory Doctorow, and Daniel Keys talk about The Silk Code


The Silk Code one-minute audio mix


audio trailer for The Chronology Protection Case movie (by Jay Kensinger)





Shaun Farrell's podiobook of The Silk Code
... FREE!

Mark Shanahan's radio play of The Chronology Protection Case (live reading of the Edgar-nominated play) ... FREE!




The Consciousness Plague on iTunes ...


The Silk Code podiobook on iTunes
... FREE!





trailer for The Silk Code ... from the History Channel



trailer for Jay Kensinger's short film of The Chronology Protection Case






Phil D'Amato's Wikipedia entry


The Four Phils ... PL, JK, MS, and SF ...

Neanderthals in Fact and Fiction

Thursday, December 27, 2007

previously unknown Socratic dialogue



New York City, 2042 ... Sierra Waters reads a previously unknown Socratic dialogue ... it takes place in the prison of Socrates, on the night before his death,, right after Crito's visit ... Socrates receives another visitor, Andros, who makes him an offer...






The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates...

Get your own at Profile Pitstop.com



Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Time-Travel Blind and Journeyman: My Response to TV Guide's Adam Schubak

Journeyman was included in TV Guide's Worst TV of 2007. Writes TV Guide's Adam Schubak, "The major problem with this show is not so much the time traveling as it is the two completely unnecessary love triangles . . . . Week after week, the show spends half the episode dealing with the family drama while the rest is spent in the past trying to help random strangers whose fate has them going on to do something great in the future."

Wow, talk about clueless. The great strength of Journeyman is its powerful mix of family/love triangles on the one hand, and the societal issues on the other, and this mix was brought to a near-perfect pitch in the last two episodes.

But beyond the fact that Schubak just didn't get Journeyman - and was by no means alone among TV critics - I think there is a more serious, and therefore more interesting, factor at work here.

I realized a long time ago, when I was just a kid, and I'd spend hours holed away reading science fiction, and my mother would chide me for wasting my time, that some people, otherwise intelligent and even sensitive, are just blind to the virtues and appeal of science fiction. Years later, when I published my first science fiction novel - The Silk Code, in 1999 - my mother was steadfast in her well-meaning opinion. "You're a good writer. Why don't you write novels about real things?"

"Ma, science fiction is about real things ... ," I tried to answer.

In fact, it's about the most real things in our existence - our uniquely human capacity to edit the very nature of the universe.

As a genre of science fiction especially complex, time travel stories bear a special challenge. You've got to love the buzz-saw of paradox, have a high tolerance for - actually, a zest for - the nearly incompatible, the things that don't add up to any common sense.

The appeal of a time-travel series such as Journeyman is that it is especially uncommon. How can a man choose between a son he knows and loves, and a daughter that has just been brought into being in a new timeline he has created? Whatever choice he makes brings him pain, personal and cosmic.

Adam Schubak is entitled to find a show that presents such a choice of little interest - just as a color-blind person might understandably turn his back on a magical sunset.

"Quantum Leap it ain't. Heck, it's not even Back to the Future Part 3," Schubak concludes about Journeyman. He's right about Quantum Leap, at least - Journeyman, especially in its last two episodes, was far better. As for Back to the Future - well, let's just say that Part 3 was an integral part of the trilogy masterpiece, which doesn't jibe with Schuback's "not even Part 3".

But, it's ok. Schubak is time-travel blind, so of course he doesn't get it. It's just that ... well, maybe next time TV Guide should take its cues from someone a little better versed in the genre.

My reviews of Journeyman episodes ... 1: NBC Quantum Leaps Into Journeyman ...2 ... 3 ... 4 ... 5 ... 6... 7 ... 8. Livia's Story ... 9. Dan Unravels His Present ... 10. Jack's In! ... 11. Livia's Beau ... 12. The Perfect Time Travel Story ... Lucky 13








The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates...

Get your own at Profile Pitstop.com



Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!


NBC's Journeyman in Second Life: Media Within Media Within Media...



And here I am, plugging NBC's Journeyman, in Adele Ward's Meet the Author interview with me...

Or, more precisely, it's my avatar plugging Journeyman, on Adele Ward's Meet the Author show in Second Life, as broadcast on the web via SLCN.tv ...

You gotta love this: a shout-out for a network television series, via webcast of an interview in a virtual world...

A good example of an observation I first made in Digital McLuhan. The distinction we often make between medium (say, television) and content (Journeyman) is too simple. What we really have are media within media within media, almost ad infinitum ...

Also a good example of how Second Life is increasingly spilling over and into real life - as I pointed out in my Second Life Meets Real Life piece on Internet Evolution a few weeks ago.

So, when you look at the above ad, you're seeing the medium of this blog, which contains the medium of a YouTube video, which contains my plug for Journeyman, which is itself a clip from SLCN.tv's webcast of my (avatar's) interview by Adele Ward('s avatar) in Second Life ...

Little boxes ... no, that's Weeds ... though weeds, viral marketing, and media within media all partake of a kind of dandelion spore dissemination...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Jerry Edling's 'Twas the Night Before Christmas in L.A.

Well, with no television to review tonight - not because of the WGA strike, but the time of year - I thought I would share this poem with you. It was written by Jerry Edling - producer of my weekly media interview on KNX 1070 all-news radio out of Los Angeles. A shorter broadcast version was nominated for a Writers Guild Award in 2006.

Enjoy ... and have a wonderful holiday, everyone!

Jerry Edling's ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas in L.A.

’Twas the night before Christmas, and all through L.A.
The Starbucks served scones and cafe au lait;
The stockings were hung by the mailbox with care
In hopes that residual checks soon would be there.

The actors were nestled all snug in their beds
While visions of callbacks danced in their heads
Mamma in her bikini and I in my Speedos
Had just left the jacuzzi and were munching Doritos.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I put down my cell phone to see what was the matter.
Someone had breached the property’s border
In violation of my latest restraining order.

The mushroom lights glowed on my circular drive.
I hoped security would catch this burglar alive
When what to my bloodshot eyes should appear
But a miniature sleigh--- and eight pre-owned reindeer.

A little old driver was manning the sleigh.
I knew it wasn’t the parking valet.
He yelled at his reindeer, tried to get them to rally.
I thought, "He needs a shrink. I know one in the Valley."

"Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen.
To the top of the guest house! To the edge of the pool!"
But the reindeer eyed him like a jolly old fool.

Comet said, "Santa, you tell a good story.
The problem is, you’re not a Guild signatory.
For hours of overtime we pull your sleigh,
Without a meal penalty coming our way."

There was bickering, arguing, much consternation;
I expected a grievance, perhaps arbitration.
It was Blitzen who finally said, "That’s enough,"
And led his union brothers away in a huff.

I watched as eight reindeer clopped off toward the fence.
(One of them got a little too close to my Benz.)
Santa yelled, "That’s all right. You won’t listen to reason?
I’ll see to it you’re blacklisted, beginning this season."

So production shut down, and the sleigh sat on idle;
Where the reindeer had been, there were eight empty bridles;
And Santa Claus, looking all portly and odd
Like that silver guy on the Third Street Promenade.

He was chubby and plump... a right jolly old soul.
I thought of calling the Bel Air Patrol.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his back
Made me wonder how he ever got past the guard shack.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
Lugging the sack by himself like a jerk
He said, "This is good exercise. Good for the abs,
And if I get too winded, I’ll just hire scabs."

He mounted the chimney, slid down with a crash,
Landed flat on his duff in the soot and the ash
It was then that he learned, with considerable alarm,
That my security system hadn’t been disarmed.

The alarm whooped and whistled and summoned the cops.
Santa ran out the door with a bound and a hop.
I wondered what could cause such trepidation
and thought he might have an unpaid citation.

"On Dasher! On Dancer! We’ve got to get out,"
Santa shouted as the reindeer gathered about.
"The cops are coming! We have to move."
But the reindeer just stared and dug in their hooves.

"Not so fast, " said Comet. "Are you ready to talk?
We need a new contract, or we’re gonna walk."
"A three percent raise," Santa said somewhat gruffly.
"Vision and dental and a meal penalty."

Comet said, "That‘s a good starting point, though
What we really all need is a new PPO,
Major medical and a much smaller co-pay,
Two weeks off every year and a 401(k)."

"We want hay and a promise to build a new stable.
Then we’ll talk about ancillary rights and cable."
"Not now," seethed Santa as he paced about.
"Here come the cops. We’ve got to get out."

"What’s the rush?" said Prancer. "We have nothing to hide.
Why outrun the cops? They’re on our side."
"Not exactly," said Santa. "See, what we’ve got
Is a sleigh that’s been sleigh-jacked. This sleigh is hot."

Kids all over the world were astonished to see
Santa Claus being chased by the L.A.P.D.
On Sunset, on Vine, and on the 405,
Cops chasing Saint Nick, trying to catch him alive.

Choppers hovered above, and in the spotlight,
Santa screamed, "Get away. Let me ride out of sight."
He lashed at the reindeer with the tip of his whip
Until Donder and Blitzen hit the spike strip.

The sleigh and the reindeer careened all about
And came to rest in a bush, where Santa jumped out.
So the image was televised, over hill and dale
Of the jolly old fat man on a foot bail.

He threw off his jacket, tossed away his shirt,
And a cop yelled, "Lie face down in the dirt."
Santa knew he was licked, and he huffed and he puffed
And surrendered, and waited until he was cuffed.

It was just then that I awoke with a start,
In front of the fireplace, with a heavy heart
Wondering how I could get so carried away
And believe that Santa could hijack a sleigh.

He’s all about goodness and sharing and toys
And putting some smiles on good girls and boys
I must have been dreaming. It’s the only way.
Of course, anything’s possible. This is L.A.

I'm Voting for Barack Obama in the Democratic Primary

I'm voting for Barack Obama in the Democratic primaries. Since I live in New York, that won't happen until February 5, 2008. But with the Iowa caucuses and other primaries coming right after New Year's, I figured I might as well come to a decision and announce it now.

It wasn't easy.

First, as I wrote back in March, I think Americans should work for the best candidates in both parties, so as to have the best possible choice on general election day. In the Republican party, there has been and is only one candidate I could ever support - Ron Paul. His respect for the Constitution and the First Amendment, his opposition to the war, make him far and away the best Republican, and in many ways the best candidate, period, running for President in this election.

In contrast, I would be happy with any of the Democrats. In comparison to any of the Republicans other than Ron Paul, any of the Democrats would make a far better President.

So the choice of whom to support among the Democrats is much more difficult. Beyond the positions of the candidates, which are different only in nuances, there is the question of what the election of a candidate would symbolize and accomplish in a larger political sense.

Three of the Democrats are members of groups which have been treated unfairly by American political culture - and American society in general - in the past. Bill Richardson is Latino. His election would do the country and the world good for that reason alone. But his standings in the polls are very low, he has no Internet support to speak of (unlike Ron Paul), and therefore I would say his chances of getting the Democratic nomination are nil.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, on the other hand, are leading in the polls. Both candidates have enormous wellsprings of support.

Hillary Clinton's election would have the wonderfully beneficial effect of putting a woman in the White House - as President. Barack Obama's election would have the equivalent effect of making an African-American our President.

Which statement to the world, which redress of American wrongs, is more important?

To some extent, comparing the mistreatment of women and blacks in our culture is comparing apples and oranges. But, all in all, I think African-Americans have received the worse treatment. They were brought here as slaves. We fought a Civil War to free them, but they were hanged in the South, anyway, for decades after the war. Their leaders - Martin Luther King and Medgar Evers - were assassinated. Nothing like that has ever happened to women as a socio-cultural-political group.

I therefore think that the election of Barack Obama as President of this nation would make the most powerful possible statement - to the world, to the future, to the past, to ourselves.

Beyond that, I like Obama's style - his quick wit reminds me of JFK. And there are a few of Hillary Clinton's positions and actions that I'm not very happy with. She should not have voted in favor of labeling Iran a terrorist nation, as President Bush requested. She should not have even considered legislation cracking down on violence in video games. This last might seem like a small issue, but when Bill Clinton was President he signed the Communications Decency Act into law - an act so afoul of the First Amendment, that even the Supreme Court struck it down.

I like just about all of the positions of John Edwards, now in third place in most of the polls. I'm impressed that he says I. F. Stone's The Trial of Socrates is one of his favorite books, because it bespeaks a philosophic depth and appreciation of history. I like most of the positions of all of the Democrats, as I said above. But none of them as President would bring the kind of rectifying electrifying revolutionary change as the election of Barack Obama.

I'm a registered Democrat in New York, and on February 5 I'll be voting for Obama.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Video: The First Pages of The Plot to Save Socrates...



my avatar reads from the very beginning of The Plot to Save Socrates ... in Second Life ... it starts "Athens, 2042... Sierra Waters had always done everything for the thrill..."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Journeyman Lucky 13//Contest Winner!

It feels really good, exhilarating to be reviewing a great new episode of Journeyman just two days after the last one - two days after the Episode 12 masterpiece - but it also feels a little bitter sweet, and it makes me sad. Because tonight's wonderful Episode 13 may be Journeyman's last.

The show tonight pulled out a lot of the best time travel stops. Running into yourself in the past is the arch danger that every time traveler must avoid, lest he or she cause his or her mind to unravel - into infinite regress. I spent a lot of time tweezing the timelines in The Plot to Save Socrates so this didn't happen, and in the sequel, well...

But future Dan manages to just stay out of sight of past Dan in this episode, which is good, and exquisite, since Dan's past in this show is September 2007 - or, the beginning of Journeyman in our and Dan's time.

That little dance between the present and the beginning of the series will make this episode a classic, too - but I still like that first scene with Dan and Katie and their daughter on Monday best of anything in this series.

There were other fine touches in tonight's show. The split-up of the politician and his wife, three months after Dan's new time traveling colleague gets to dance with her - I love little details like that - they make time travel sing and ring true. Dr. Tachyon Langley's explanation to Dan was good, too. I like cosmic forces moving things, rather than evil geniuses pulling the strings.

The beginning of tonight's story - Dan in a mental institution - was a bit too close to 12 Monkeys, and I think the other time traveler dying of a heart attack was a bit pat, but those are just little quibbles.

What would have happened to Journeyman had the first two shows been as powerful and satisfying as these last two? Impossible to know, unless we were able to go back in time and make that happen....

As it is, we have been treated to the best time travel series ever on television, and a twofer ending which both explained a lot of things and left us hungering for more. Kevin McKidd and Reed Diamond were never better in their acting, and the series reached some real peaks in story telling. I'm predicting that we will indeed see more of Journeyman someday - I just hope we don't have to wait too long...

That last scene between Dan and Katie was pure gold. I can still see it shining...

============================
Which brings us to tonight's contest winner... the first person who sent me email with the last word that Dan uttered tonight. It was "Katie" - which couldn't be more appropriate...

And Rahul Gupta of Virginia got me that answer within a minute of the show's conclusion! Congratulations, Rahul!

An autographed copy of The Plot to Save Socrates will be in the mail to Rahul tomorrow!

For everyone else: If you've already answered the question correctly - but got it in after Rahul - I'll be happy to send you, via e-mail, a copy of my 1997 award-nominated time travel novella, Loose Ends (first published in Analog Science Fiction and Fact Magazine, and widely reprinted, including on Fictionwise.com).

And, further, for anyone who answered tonight's question correctly, I'll be happy to autograph and return to you at my expense any copies of The Plot to Save Socrates that you send to me between now and the end of this year.

My email is Levinson.paul@gmail.com

But Rahul gets the free copy of my novel for tonight's episode.

And this will be the end of this Journeyman-Plot to Save Socrates giveaway. It has been my pleasure to give away autographed copies of my novel to four of Journeyman's devoted viewers.

Hey - if the show comes back in the Spring, or any time, maybe I'll do another contest for either The Plot to Save Socrates, or its sequel.

I'll definitely keep you posted.

My reviews of other Journeyman episodes ... 1: NBC Quantum Leaps Into Journeyman ...2 ... 3 ... 4 ... 5 ... 6... 7 ... 8. Livia's Story ... 9. Dan Unravels His Present ... 10. Jack's In! ... 11. Livia's Beau ... 12. The Perfect Time Travel Story


And Troy Price has a great interview on his podcast with Journeyman creator Kevin Falls!






The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates...

Get your own at Profile Pitstop.com



Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

FCC Ends Longstanding Ban on Cross-Ownership: Good!

Well, the FCC overturned a 32-year-old ban on broadcasters owning newspapers in the same market - at least, overturned the ban in the top 20 markets. I was interviewed by Richard Dalton for Newsday about this important development, and that appears in Wednesday's editions.

The gist of what I told him: good!

Here's a little more context and explanation.

First, I don't like media concentration at all. The fewer the hands and minds that control our media, the easier it is for the government to push them around. More diversity in voices means that differences in opinion and perspective are likely be heard, and that's a good thing for democracy.

So why am I applauding the 3-2 FCC ruling - a great example of even a broken clock being right twice a day?

Two reasons:

2. Media concentration is becoming less of a threat to diversity of communication in the age of the Internet. Plainly, there are many more voices on YouTube and countless other web sites than a decade ago, and the net result is even if every major broadcast medium were owned by the same organization, Americans would still have more variety in communication than ever before. The Obama Girl videos and Ron Paul's candidacy are two examples of profound developments in media that had nothing to do with broadcasting - and, in the case of Ron Paul, was actively opposed by mainstream media.

1. Even more importantly, even were the Web not providing unprecedented diversity in media, the FCC relaxation of ownership standards would be a good thing. The FCC is an affront to the First Amendment, and its injunction that Congress shall make no abridging freedom of speech or press. Much as I dislike media concentration, I see government regulation as a far worse threat to our freedom. You don't bring in a snake (the FCC) to control a rat problem (media concentration) - because, obviously, the snake can then slither around and bite you.

So on this rare occasion of the FCC pulling back from government regulation, I say, good for the FCC.

And if you're worried about undue media concentration that might result, complain about it in your blog, and hope that the FCC never tries to regulate that.

Further reading -

The Barely Political Revolution


Rating the Networks in their Election Campaign Coverage

Monday, December 17, 2007

Journeyman Continues: 12: The Perfect Time Travel Story//Contest Winner!

Tonight's Episode 12 of Journeyman was one of the best hours of time travel ever on television. I expect it will become a classic-

But first, we have a new winner for tonight's contest. Like last week, I was emailed the correct answer for Dan's last word in tonight's episode within a minute of it being said-

No, I'll get back with the name of the winner, and some consolation prizes, at the end of this review...

Let's talk about this splendid show, first:

We had a perfect time travel story on Journeyman tonight, and I predict it will become an all-time travel television classic, along with "City on the Edge of Forever" in Star Trek: The Original Series and "Yesterday's Enterprise" in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and that's about it.

Even the beginning was perfect: Dan goes eight years back in time to save a mother and son, sitting in the front of an RV, perched half over a cliff. Dan's sheer weight, when he materializes at the back of the vehicle, prevents it from tipping over. And he then uses the weight of his intellect, as always, to talk the mother and son out of the vehicle.

All's well, except ...

Dan has left his new 2007 digital camera in this past. It fell out of his hands. Now leaving any piece of future technology in the past can be very dangerous. It can engender all kinds of profound changes in the present and future.

And it does. The introduction of this digital technology eight years ahead of our time catapults our digital technology far ahead of where it is today, in our and now Dan's original timeline. A scene in the Register's office makes this beautifully clear, as Dan and we see the marvels of digital paper, at least three or four years away from our real time.

But that's the least of it.

When Dan gets home - where he goes before seeing the advanced digital technology - he finds that Zach is gone, and Dan and Katie have a beautiful little girl, by the name of Caroline. Everything else is the same. Katie - and Jack - know about Dan's time traveling. Except Katie, of course, loves Caroline, just as she loved Zach in Dan's (and our) original timeline. And Dan, of course, is desperate to get Zach back ... which he tries to communicate to Katie. In one of the best scenes in the series - an exquisite scene, really - Katie makes it clear to Dan that he better not do anything to change Caroline...

Lovelines and timelines always clash in the better time travel stories, and this episode of Journeyman was one of the best of these I've ever read or seen.

As the time traveler, and agent of the change, Dan of course remembers and will remember everything. (We discussed this here in Infinite Regress last week.) When Dan goes back in time and eventually destroys the digital camera he left in the past, he gets Zach and his original life back. Katie doesn't suffer, because in this reinstated original reality she was always the mother of Zach not Caroline.

But what about Dan? He remembers everything, including the picture of a butterfly that Caroline made for him in school, and Zach now proudly presents his own rendition of to him ...

I wouldn't want to be in that position as a father, and watching this wonderful episode made me glad that I'm a writer of time travel stories, not a time traveler myself, though I've thought about it from time to time.

There were other fine touches in tonight's show - including a bit of information about why Dan and Livia are time travelers, and another cryptic appearance of our tachyon Dr. Langley.

I'll save discussion of those themes for Wednesday, and the 13th episode of Journeyman... I'm looking forward to every minute.

============================
Which brings us to tonight's contest winner... the first to send me email with the last word that Dan uttered tonight. It was "minute" - as in, "you're kidding - wait a minute," Dan's last words to Langley, when the tachyon doc claimed he didn't know Dan...

But I know the winner of tonight's contest, and it's Stephanie! Congratulations!

An autographed copy of The Plot to Save Socrates will be in the mail to Stephanie tomorrow!

For everyone else: If you've already answered the question correctly - but got it in after Stephanie - I'll be happy to send you, via e-mail, a copy of my 1997 award-nominated time travel novella, Loose Ends (first published in Analog Science Fiction and Fact Magazine, and widely reprinted, including on Fictionwise.com).

And, further, for anyone who answered tonight's question correctly, I'll be happy to autograph and return to you at my expense any copies of The Plot to Save Socrates that you send to me between now and the end of this year.

My email is Levinson.paul@gmail.com

But Stephanie gets the free copy of my novel for tonight's episode.

Every minute really counted tonight. Believe it or not, I got another correct answer, just a minute after Stephanie's.

And the contest will continue for the next episode of Journeyman. I'll give a free, autographed copy of The Plot to Save Socrates to first person, after Wednesday's show, who e-mails Dan's last word on the show to me! See Extending The Plot to Save Socrates - Journeyman Contest for details.

Note, by the way, that the contest calls for Dan's last word spoken on each episode - not the last word spoken by someone else, if that last word is the last word on the show.

My reviews of other Journeyman episodes ... 1: NBC Quantum Leaps Into Journeyman ...2 ... 3 ... 4 ... 5 ... 6... 7 ... 8. Livia's Story ... 9. Dan Unravels His Present ... 10. Jack's In! ... 11. Livia's Beau ... Lucky 13






The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates...

Get your own at Profile Pitstop.com



Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!

And the Winners in the Dexter Poster Contest Are....

As I announced here yesterday, Showtime gave me three cool, posters of Dexter that I'm just dying to give away. I received lots of email in response to the following question - which you had to answer correctly, to win one of three copies of the poster -

What 2007 motion picture bears a striking resemblance to Dexter - featuring a serial killer who is capable of powerful love for his family, attends AA meetings to keep his "addiction" at bay, and has a sarcastically commenting inner voice?


And most of the emails made good tries, but gave wrong answers, ranging from Sweeney Todd to Hannibal Lecter to Suspect Zero (the last not really a good guess at all, since that movie was in theaters in 2004).

But three readers did get the right answer. In order of my receipt of their response, they are:

1. Davin and Denise Ledbetter from Texas
2. Michele Hettel from Florida
3. Russ Glenn from Cambridge, England

A nice cross-section of erudite readers! Congratulations, all!

-oh - and the correct answer to the contest question:

Mr. Brooks - starring Kevin Costner in the title role, William Hurt as the alter-voice, and a very good cast. The movie is not as good as Dexter, I would say - but is nonetheless compelling and original in many ways, for this genre.

================================

Interested in another contest? One in which you could win a free copy of my time-travel, history, romance novel, The Plot to Save Socrates - all you have to is watch NBC's Journeyman, at 10pm Eastern tonight. First person to email me with the correct answer to an easy question regarding the show will get the novel. Details at
Extending The Plot to Save Socrates - Journeyman Contest. Best of luck with this!










The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates...

Get your own at Profile Pitstop.com



Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Dexter 2 Superb Finale: All's ... Well//Deb's Great Line About D's D//Free Dexter Posters (See End of This Post for Contest Question)

DexterA powerful, tough, believable finale to this great second season of Dexter on Showtime tonight, which wrapped all the bloody and singed loose ends convincingly.

I say singed - as well as bloody - because this was Lila's finale as much as it was Dexter's, even more so.

First, she brilliantly incinerates Doakes after she finds him in the cell in Dexter's cabin, and Daokes tells her Dexter is the Bay Harbor Butcher. This shocks and inspires her - makes her love Dexter more than ever before - and in a split second she rises to the moment, and figures out a way to get Doakes out his cell and blown to death in the fiery explosion she sets in the cabin. (I had always admired her intensity and devilish genius and devotion to Dexter.) Had Daokes died in his cell, this would have tipped off the authorities that Daokes was not the killer.

So Dexter's home free from Doakes, and enjoying it ... until he finds out he's not home free from Lila. Dexter plans on luring Lila to her death - even though she truly loves him, and even though he does believe, at least in part, that they are soul mates - until Lila gets what's going on, kidnaps Rita's kids, and almost kills them and Dexter in yet another blaze.

Deb plays a role in all of this, and she has had some of the best lines this season. (For example - tonight she puts it to Dex about Lila - "What did you do to make her so pathetically crazy for you? Does your dick dance?")* Jennifer Carpenter does a killer job - sorry, couldn't resist - and her performance as the trash-talking, fast-talking vulnerable sister of Dexter was every bit as good as Michael C. Hall's superb performance in the title part this year.

*Under the great-minds-think-alike-heading - see the discussion started by anniedeuce on Dexter-IMDB for this and other Deb gems...

Now back to Lila, I gotta say - and my regular readers know - that I wouldn't have minded at all had Lila made it into the next season. A dark, beautiful, counterpart of Dexter - willing, moreover, to take wild chances because of love - would have made a strong addition to the show. On the other hand, her knowledge of Dexter's secret, and her instability, would have made her as much a threat to Dexter as was Doakes, in his own way. And her threatening the kids, the totally pure, innocent recipients of Dexter's love, sealed the deal in Dexter's mind.

So ... well, the fade to black is followed by a classic Dexter scene - in Paris.

And this symbolizes the new leaf that Dexter must turn over. He can't be the Bay Harbor Butcher again, because that would invalidate Doakes' taking the fall. He'll have to kill another way.

Where is it written, after all, other than in our popular culture, that serial killers have to be 100% consistent....

We'll find out more, next year...

====

And now the contest: I have three posters of Dexter that Showtime was good enough to give me, and I am itching to give away. All you have to do e-mail me - at Levinson.paul@gmail.com - with the correct answer to the following question:

What 2007 motion picture bears a striking resemblance to Dexter - featuring a serial killer who is capable of powerful love for his family, attends AA meetings to keep his "addiction" at bay, and has a sarcastically commenting inner voice?

First three correct answers to the above each get a free poster in the mail.

Good luck - and all of you Dexter fans - there will be a lot of Dexter here when Season 3 comes back on Showtime, next year...

AND THE WINNERS ARE ... contest winners announced! (December 17, 2007)

Season 3 Sneak Preview Review - No Spoilers
...

See also Dexter's Back: A Preview and Dexter Meets Heroes and 6. Dexter and De-Lila-h and 7. Best Line About Dexter - from Lila and 8. How Will Dexter Get Out of This? and The Plot Gets Tighter and Sharper and Dex, Doakes, and Harry and Deb's Belief Saves Dex









The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates...

Get your own at Profile Pitstop.com



Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Four Gems from Showtime Get Nominated for Golden Globes//Dexter Contest Right Here!

I was delighted to find out the following today, in the Golden Globe Nominations announced for television ...

Best Television Series - Drama
The Tudors

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Drama
Michael C Hall, Dexter
Johnathan Rhys Meyers, The Tudors

Best Television Series - Comedy or Musical
Californication

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Comedy or Musical
David Duchovny, Californication

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Comedy or Musical
Mary-Louise Parker, Weeds


Now, there are worthy and wonderful shows and acting talent from venues other than Showtime in the nominations - including some Infinite Regress favorites like Mad Men and Big Love - but I am especially pleased that Infinite Regress reviewed almost every episode of the four Showtime series, and gave them pretty much rave reviews at the time. You can see the Infinite Regress reviews by clicking on the titles, which will bring you to my review of the first episode of each of the series, with links to subsequent reviews.

The Tudors was a wonderful blend of intellectual history, great acting, and lust. Californication was a writer's delight, and never was short of laughing-out-loud-hilarious. Weeds had a riveting, splash-in-your-face season. And Dexter's second season, concluding this Sunday, is better than the first, and about the best show on television right now.

The face of television is changing, and very much for the better. Cable shows have three out of five nominations in several major Golden Globe television categories. And Showtime is clearly giving HBO a run for its money. All of this is great for the viewer. I'll be writing more about these trends soon.

In the meantime, and apropos Dexter, I wanted to let you know that I have three big Dexter posters all set to give away in a brand new contest!

I'll be posting my review of the Dexter season finale shortly after it's over this Sunday. Come back here then, and at the very end of the review, you'll find a question about Dexter. The first three people who email the correct answer to me will get the Dexter poster, put in the mail the next day.

See you on Sunday...










The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates...

Get your own at Profile Pitstop.com



Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!

And the Pre-Primary Presidential Debates Ends With ... Almost a Snore, But a Great Line from Obama

The Republicans put on their last debate before the January 3, 2008 Iowa Caucuses yesterday - in Iowa - and the Democrats followed suit today.

I had trouble keeping my eyes open for the Republican debate, which is saying a lot, since the debate was on in the afternoon, I don't usually take siestas, and I had gotten a good night's sleep the night before.

But I can't think of anything new I heard from any of the candidates, except maybe Alan Keyes, who is an elegant speaker but somewhat out of his league (if not his mind). Huckabee seemed less exuberant than usual, Guiliani seemed tired, and I still can't help thinking that Mitt Romney may be a Cylon, quietly prepped in some Battlestar Galactica back room. I thought at the beginning of this crucially important election process that Ron Paul and his respect for the Constitution made him far and away the best Republican candidate, and the only one I could ever vote for, and I feel absolutely the same right now.

Meanwhile, I like just about all of the Democrats, more or less, in contrast to the Republicans. But none of the Democrats lit any new fires today. Actually, I thought Biden and Dodd were better than usual, and I would not be at all unhappy if either got the nomination, which seems highly unlikely at this point.

It's pretty much between Obama and Hillary - with Edwards still a possibility - and I'd say the best exchange in either debate came when Obama was asked why, if he's such a future-focused contender, does he have several (Bill) Clinton administration appointees as advisers in the Obama campaign.

Before Obama could answer- Hillary quipped, I wanna hear that...

And Obama shot back- I'm looking forward to you advising me, as well...

That struck me as something JFK might have said - which in my book is a good thing, indeed...

And so the sun sets of this first chapter of the run for the White House, 2008 ...

I'm looking forward to what Iowa Caucuses tell us on January 3.

See also Something New: How About We Look for the Best Candidates in =Both= Parties?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Meet the Author: Talking and Reading My Science Fiction in Second Life



I'm interviewed, in my Second Life avatar identity, by Adele Ward on her Second Life Meet the Author show on December 9, 2007. Videotaped by SLCN.tv - Second Life Cable Network.

I talk about how I came to write The Plot to Save Socrates, my love of time travel and Journeyman, my nonfiction books (ranging from The Soft Edge to Cellphone to In Pursuit of Truth), and other goodies. I give advice to new writers and discuss how to work with your editor. And ... I read the first two sections of The Plot to Save Socrates...

Sixty minutes in all ... enjoy.






The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates...

Get your own at Profile Pitstop.com



Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!

ABC News Good to the Last Drop in its Dissing of Ron Paul

Several people emailed me about this - but Jason Gordon was the first, early yesterday, and he gets the credit. (Two other early correspondents were Matt Caverhill, and Lee on MySpace.) The world at large - all of you, via your Internet connections - are the eyes and ears and witnesses of the mass media doing right and wrong. Our democracy depends upon you.

This is not the worst thing that ABC has done to Ron Paul, his supporters, and thereby our democratic process - no closing down online boards in the middle of discussions, no leaving Ron Paul out of post-debate analyses, as ABC did earlier this year - but it's bad enough to warrant taking permanent note.

As Matt Simon writes about in detail in the Huffington Post, ABC shunted John Stossel's interview with Ron Paul, intended for television broadcast, to its Internet site.

Now, there's nothing wrong with the Internet, and ABC is of course entitled to decide where and how to publish its interviews ... but, who is ABC kidding here? Clearly someone decided to deprive the American people of the maximum exposure that broadcast as well as Internet posting would have given this interview.

What could have driven ABC to do this? Clearly, John Stossel is a major, well-respected broadcast journalist, and Ron Paul is certainly a candidate who has raised millions of real American dollars.

Perhaps Ron Paul's low standing in the general polls was the reason. But surely ABC is aware that Mike Huckabee, once not that much higher in the polls than Ron Paul, is now in first place in the Iowa and South Carolina polls. Is ABC so sure that can't happen again? Do we want the American Broadcast Company making such kinds of decisions for the American people?

This part of our election process is soon coming to end. Beginning with the Iowa caucus in January, America will be moving from candidates debating to candidates being voted up or down.

When the history of this 2007-2008 election process is written, ABC will have a special place of dishonor. I will certainly include a section on its misreporting and anti-democratic behavior in the next book I'll be writing - entitled New, New Media.

One can only hope that ABC will improve as we move into the next phase of this process. But I'm not holding my breath that ABC will be standing up for democracy any time soon.

For the Very First Time: Reading from the Plot To Save Socrates Sequel, in Second Life!



You don't want to miss this.

For the very first time, anywhere, I'll be reading from Unburning Alexandria - the sequel to The Plot to Save Socrates - Second Life, this Sunday, at 3pm Eastern (12 Noon Second Life and Pacific Time).

Here are the details:

You do need a Second Life account to attend. You can get one, free of charge, at SecondLife.com

You can "teleport" to the site of the event - even before the event -  via this link

My Second Life name, again, is PaulLevinson Freenote. Make sure you wave at me, or say hello.

***

Thanks to everyone who came to my reading this past Sunday. All told, we had more than 50 people (avatars) in attendance. If you missed it, or would like to see yourself on television, there's a good link at http://slcn.tv/meet-author-paul-levinson

Another place you might want to visit in Second Life is my Soft Edge book shop - just down the street from Sunday's reading - and pictured below. Click on the picture to "teleport" to my bookshop...




 

Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Jean-Baptiste Régnault and The Plot to Save Socrates


painting by Jean-Baptiste Régnault, 1785
Socrates dragging Alcibiades from the Embrace of S.

So, who is this mysterious "S." in this real painting by Régnault from 1785....

Sierra Waters?

See also: Letter from Sierra Waters...







"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book



Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Journeyman Continues: 11: Livia's Beau//Save the Paper Save the World!// Contest Winner!

And we have a new winner for tonight's contest - like last week, I was emailed the correct answer for Dan's last word in tonight's superb episode within seconds after it was said. Look for the name of the winner, and some consolation prizes, at the end of this review...

And what a wonderful holiday episode it was. Tonight's Episode 11 of Journeyman was about family, and deepened and developed the relationships of all the major characters.

The chapter began and ended with Livia in 1948. She's proposed to, and accepts. Now she and Dan are equal. Both are married, both are caught up in the time travel and the feelings they have for each other. (Livia has a picture of Dan and her on her table.) At this point, Katie knows much more than Livia's fiance, and it would be nice to see how he plays out in the late 1940s and after.

Jack and Theresa (played by beautiful Lisa Sheridan) are getting much closer, too. Theresa tells him she's pregnant with their child...

And Dan's assignment this week concerns family, too. The Scrooge owner of the paper intends to fire a big portion of the staff, on Christmas eve, no less. Dan goes back to the late 1970s and finds the owner's father. Turns out he suffered a coronary, and the son took a little too long to call for medical help ... One other person knows what really happened - a young woman who would do anything to become a reporter back in 1979, and has been a fixture with the paper ever since. Dan convinces her to speak to the son, turned Scrooge, in 2007 - and, much as in the Charles Dickens classic, he relents with the firing.

And just to turn this time-traveling Christmas Carol one more twist, Dan also has a talk with his father, back in that 1979 Christmas party at the office. To convince his father not to leave his family would have bent the time line far too much ... but Dan does get his father to at least tell his younger self and brother Jack the night before he left, which has the good effect of keeping the boys from wondering all of their lives if their father's leaving was their fault.

Back in 2007, Jack of course now has always known this - and I can't help feeling that maybe Dan's good deed in time will make Jack a happier, better person. That's one of the nice dividends of time-travel stories.

Dan tells Jack he doesn't remember what their father said that night. If he truly doesn't, this means that Dan, at least as far as his own life is concerned, is one of those time travelers who doesn't remember original realities he changes in the past. (I always have my time travelers remember - since they're traveling in time, their minds are stacked with memories of all alternate realities.) But I have feeling that Dan told his brother he doesn't recall just to keep it less complicated. In previous episodes, Dan seemed thoroughly aware of all sets of realities in which he was involved.

And so Journeyman continues to strengthen its family roots and thereby the possibilities for future story lines. The show belongs here...

"Here" - which was also Dan's last word tonight - when he says "I belong here" ... which brings us to the contest winner...

=======================================================
Who is ... John Muth of Pittsburgh!

An autographed copy of The Plot to Save Socrates will be in the mail to John tomorrow! Congratulations, John!

For everyone else: If you've already answered the question correctly - but got it in after John - I'll be happy to send you, via e-mail, a copy of my 1997 award-nominated time travel novella, Loose Ends (first published in Analog Science Fiction and Fact Magazine, and widely reprinted, including on Fictionwise.com).

And, further, for anyone who answered tonight's question correctly, I'll be happy to autograph and return to you at my expense any copies of The Plot to Save Socrates that you send to me between now and the end of this year.

My email is Levinson.paul@gmail.com

But John gets the free copy for tonight's episode.

And the contest will continue for the next two episodes of Journeyman. I'll give a free, autographed copy of The Plot to Save Socrates to first person, after each show, who e-mails Dan's last word on the show to me! See Extending The Plot to Save Socrates - Journeyman Contest for details.

Note, by the way, that the contest calls for Dan's last word spoken on each episode - not the last word spoken by someone else, if that last word is the last word on the show. Livia had the last word tonight, when she said "Yes" to that proposal. But the last word I was looking for is Dan's....

My reviews of other Journeyman episodes ... 1: NBC Quantum Leaps Into Journeyman ...2 ... 3 ... 4 ... 5 ... 6... 7 ... 8. Livia's Story ... 9. Dan Unravels His Present ... 10. Jack's In! ... 12. The Perfect Time Travel Story ... Lucky 13






The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates...

Get your own at Profile Pitstop.com



Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Dexter 2 Episode 11: Deb's Belief Saves Dexter

Dexter Well, I was wrong last week about Captain Matthews and what he told Dexter about Harry's suicide. If tonight's superb Episode 11 is to be believed - and I can't see why it should not, on this issue - Harry indeed took his own life, and Dexter's feeling that the suicide came from his father's incapacity to accept Dexter for what he really is seems warranted.

This was the major spur of tonight's show, in which Dexter comes this close to confessing. He let down his father, he let down everyone. He might as well give it up.

Except, Dexter realizes that he didn't really let down Deb, and his confessing would be the thing that would let her down. Deb is standing up for yourself and her man Lundy, and has even revealed Lila's true identity, and run her (or so Deb thinks) out of town. Deb is happier than she's ever been before, and Dex doesn't want to take that away from her. In a telling interior voice, he says to himself and us that Deb's belief in him can sustain him - his sister's belief in him has replaced his father's code.

Except - and there always "excepts" in Dexter, that's part of what makes the show great - Maria has some evidence that seems to exonerate Doakes, and Lundy's beginning to think that Doakes may not be the BHB. True, his superiors are closing in on Doakes, but when the FBI gets to cabin ....

They'd find Doakes, who knows Dexter is the Bay Harbor Butcher, and Lila - who, according to the coming attractions, is informed of Dexter's true inner demon by Daokes. She looks horrified in the clip - but will this revelation make her hate Dexter, or be drawn to him, even more?

She has already framed Angel for date rape, all on behalf of trading Angel's fate for Dexter's coming back to her.

How much will all of this come into play in next week's finale? Likely it all will, and even more. One thing we also know is the cabin will be ablaze....

I'm betting Dexter survives (easy bet) and Doakes and Lila do not. I don't see how Doakes can live, and Dexter can continue, if Dexter does not want to confess ... And Lila - much as I'd like to see her on the show next year, I think she's coming to the end of her rope....

And I'll be back here next Sunday, a few minutes after 10, with my review.

See also Dexter's Back: A Preview and Dexter Meets Heroes and 6. Dexter and De-Lila-h and 7. Best Line About Dexter - from Lila and 8. How Will Dexter Get Out of This? and The Plot Gets Tighter and Sharper and Dex, Doakes, and Harry and Season 2 Finale: All's ... Well









The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates...

Get your own at Profile Pitstop.com



Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Remembering John Lennon

I just heard John Lennon's "Woman" on the radio, and, as always, it brought a tear to my eyes and soul.

It's impossible, on one level, to compare assassinations, the murders of public figures. They are all horrendous. But the murder of John Lennon on this date in 1980 is in some ways the worst for me, and I can't speak for my generation.

John was a singer, a songwriter, for God's sake, not a President or someone running for office. His murder was fueled by a sick thirst for fame, pure and simple. That's why I never mention the sicko monster's name.

But this day - and public murders in the quest for fame - also makes me think about gun control. The killer in Omaha this week was looking for fame, too.

I know about the Second Amendment. And as an absolutist on the First Amendment, which I think should be followed literally, with no government restrictions on speech or press, all of the time, I want to do the same for Second Amendment.

But I can't help thinking that John Lennon might have survived a knife attack, and fewer people might have succumbed to the killer in Omaha had he been armed with only a knife.

I'll think more about those issues tomorrow.

Today, let me just say, John, I always loved your music and always will. It brings me joy to this day to hear anything you wrote or sang - from "Dr. Robert" to "Jealous Guy," just two of my all-time favorites.

And Yoko - thank you, too, for being so strong and dignified and unswerving in your commitment to peace all of these years. John would have been very proud of you.

I write about time travel in my fiction. If only it were real, and I could employ it, I think the first thing I would do is go back and save John, and warn him not to go into that alley....

I can't do that, but at least his music doesn't need saving. It will be here forever on CDs and MP3s and whatever new forms of music media invented by our species.
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