Monday, August 25, 2014

The Ferguson Incident: The Thurber Brigade goes wildly off topic

The last blog at The Thurber Brigade was a sidestep about writing. However, what transpired in Ferguson, MO on August 9th really agitated me due to the police behavior. So this blog goes completely off topic and dips into an even more volatile world then relationships.

 As a writer it’s my passion to tell stories ( and when watching a TV show or movie mystery, I try to guess the outcome or perpetrator.  So here's a dramatization of what I have theorized happened in Ferguson.

The Players:
Policeman—Darren Wilson
Victim—Michael Brown

On a warm Missouri night Michael Brown and a friend are walking down a street instead of using the sidewalk. This might be a new youthful trend as while vacationing in Jackson,Wyoming last year, I noticed a lot of young people doing this. At that time I decided it was a fad, but didn't see any police stop them either.

Police officer Darren Wilson didn't see this action as a harmless fad though. He passed by the two kids and pulled his cruiser over and jumped out to confront the wayward pedestrians.

"Hey, you boys* need to get off the street right now," Wilson yelled.

"Screw* you! We ain't doin' nothin' wrong," Brown answered.

Officer Brown didn't like being talked back to, especially by a punk kid. His macho police instincts slowly began to kick into gear. He stepped up to the large teenager and grabbed the kid's arm.

"Ya'll* come over here!" He said and began pulling Brown back toward his patrol car.

"Leave me alone you turd*!" Brown shouted at the officer.

This inflamed the policeman even more, as he wasn't about to let this young "thug" sass him. He assured himself he wasn't being a racist, but his constant exposure to his fellow biased officers played into his thinking and he had come to believe that any black person who didn't do as told had to be a "thug."

This angry white policeman yelling at him and yanking him toward his car frightened Brown. After all, he had plenty of friends who had been taken into custody and came back home bruised and battered. So he pushed at Wilson's chest, causing the policeman to lose his grip and fall back onto the seat of his car. While falling back, his head hit the top of the doorframe and his arms the side of the door. This added pain enraged him even more.

Brown, seeing he now had a gap between himself and the officer, began to back away. Furious at being pushed, Wilson sprang back out of the car and simultaneously pulled his pistol from its holster.

"Stop right there you damn black person*!" Wilson screamed.

Brown saw the gun and panicked. He began to run away. Wilson fired a shot that nicked Brown. This so shocked the young man he fell to the ground. He suddenly realized he couldn't get away, so turned while on his knees to face the officer. He suddenly threw his hands up in surrender.

"Don't shoot mister*, I surrender!" He cried.

Wilson, seeing the sudden turning movement panicked. It was a thug after all and he could have just pulled a gun.  Wilson’s only thought was to protect himself.  He promptly fired the remaining rounds in his gun at the kneeling young man.

And so concludes our little tale. A young man walking harmlessly down a city street at night gunned down for the simple offense of putting up resistance and frightening a man who had a rigid stereotype of this type of person. Frightening the officer enough that any sudden movement could cause the officer to panic and respond the only way the police in the United States are trained to handle people who resist—with violence.

* Colorful metaphors have been replaced with less offensive words

The Thurber Brigade apologizes for once more veering off the road of the War Between Men and Women and assures everyone that it will return to the straight and narrow soon. Um, maybe. 
Ahhh, James Thurber

Monday, August 18, 2014

Write This Way: Another Thurber Brigade Sidestep

Jay's "neat" writing space
Since returning from vacation a short while ago, I have neglected The Thurber Brigade.  Therefore, not having a stinging blog about relationships and The War Between Men and Women I thought I’d take another writing sidestep and provide some insight into my writing.

First off, some people have suggested that I might be insane:

My short stories are usually satire and humor

My books are typically action/adventure or mystery

 My newspaper/magazine articles are usually serious subjects
My blog focuses on male/female (mis)behavior

 My comments on Facebook mainly rant about politics

I think instead of insanity though, it’s just that I like to try different things. Speaking of different, here’s a few little tidbits about my writing.

Don’t try this at home

When I began doing research for my eBook TAX BREAK, one of my activities included a recon (military jargon for reconnaissance) of the Austin IRS building. Believe it or not, I actually drove around the whole place. No, not on the street nearby, right next to it. At that time, the parking lot was right next to the building and included the back. So I just drove through the parking lot near the building. If I remember correctly, I think there was a door at the back with some people hanging out and smoking. I always believed that I could easily have just parked and walked inside. I didn’t though, I just drove around.

Keep in mind this was back around 1991.  As a nation we were a little na├»ve back then and so what I did probably wasn’t that much out of the ordinary. Today just about all federal buildings are fortresses. Last time I drove by (not around) the IRS building they had erected a large, sturdy fence. I’m sure there are quite a few other security measures too. So don’t even think of trying anything like I did way back then.

As a side note, after the OK City bombing in 1995 whenever I submitted my book to a publisher, I’d include a little note stating that I didn’t model my book after those killers nor want to do anything to the government.

Voss up?

My other eBook, WINGS OF HONOR, has a serial killer who shoots down unarmed, small airplanes.  In one of my other sidesteps I talked about how the killer was based loosely on the killers in the slasher movies that were popular around that time.

I don’t give away many clues to the killer, but one interesting aspect of his personality is his affinity for all things German WWI.  After all, he flies a Fokker triplane, likes to sing in German (sort of. Yes, that’s a hint), but on a lighter note, he has a dog named Voss.  That’s Werner Voss.

Werner Voss was considered the second greatest German fighter pilot of the war. Maybe in homage to that pilot, the killer named his dog after him.  In the first reference to him I say he’s a “small, wiry collie.”  When I dreamed him up though, I really thought of a Sheltie, or Shetland Sheepdog, which in the old days they called a Shetland Collie. Although I pictured the killer having a smaller dog like a Sheltie, to me it didn’t seem right verbally to include that. “Collie” sounds more regal or tougher, so I would always try to mention that Voss was a small collie.  What? You didn’t think that writers worry about every little aspect of their books. Well, we do. Right down to the dogs they own.
What is honor?

Another insight about WINGS OF HONOR is that although no one really knows much about the killer, I actually visualized him as a nice guy. Hey, he had a Sheltie after all. Uh, I mean Collie. He also owns a small private farm, so probably has money (which doesn’t mean he’s nice, but helps paint a picture of him). He just has a very distorted idea about who should be allowed to take to the skies. So a nice guy with a killer instinct? Yeah, he might be a touch schizophrenic

Paul on the other hand is a jerk. At the beginning of the book I even tried to make it seem like he might be the killer, but later we understand it's not him. I made him a jerk to contrast him with the super nice guy Dallas.  So in a way Paul is a bit of an “anti-hero.”  With this contrast between Paul and Dallas I attempted to make a statement about honor. We Americans too easily think of a big tough guy who beats up and kills bad guys as a good guy. But is that really honorable?

This has nothing to do with this blog nor my short stories.
I'm just trying to keep you interested.
Ha ha, I had to throw that in there to see if you were still reading. It’s also a good way for me to bring up my short stories. Several of them even mention sex quite often. However, none of them are really about sex. For example, “Raw Sex in theWild” is really about the environment and National Parks. I had read an article about how some republican (purposely not capitalized) wanted to have a state park named after a corporation. This really made me mad, but also made me think about what would happen if loonies like this actually had enough power to do something like that and ruined our parks? 

Likewise, "Cars, Sex and American Fulfillment" has nothing to do with sex but instead makes fun of America's infatuation with cars, especially humongous gas guzzlers. The cover of the magazine it appeared in was just as hilarious as my story:
I’m still attempting to get someone to publish my collection of short stories, but until that happens you can read a few of my selections at Jay’s Place.

 A Policing Action

When I wrote "Dead Men Tell No Tales" I originally planned on it being a book. I would have a section on police killing civilians, one on random violent acts by them (you know, like bludgeoning Rodney King) and a section on corruption and other evil acts. After little success finding a publisher and getting a little depressed about the subject (there were thousands of cases), I just turned it into the current article and got someone to publish it.

Some people believe I hate cops, but that isn't really the case. What bothers me is that police are always given the benefit of the doubt. If a case boils down to a cop's word versus a defendant, the cop always wins. This is because most people, well white people, believe it' the exception when the cop does something wrong. I wanted too point out this isn't the case at all. In fact, I think there's an overwhelming amount of police malfeasance and it is either ignored, unreported or justified because the person doing it is a cop. The latter is where the person thinking about this situation will tell himself that "well, it was a cop, he was just doing his job and had to do it for some reason."

With all the new reports, I'm tempted to try a book again, but I would have to figure out a way to avoid the depression from reading all the cases.

What's up with that blog?

 I had to include one picture of this blog's namesake
 Lastly, let me give you a little insight about this blog. When I started it, I thought it would be merely about the ins and outs of relationships. If you read the first couple of blogs you'll see this. However, as I did research for the blog I kept running into women's blogs where they pretty much put men on the same level as sea slugs. So I slowly began to make this a sort of counter-point. For example, in the recent controversial blog about women drivers (I had women "unfriend" me and the HR guy at work threaten my job) it came about because I kept running into female blogs about mens' driving (he's a monster, etc.). Or the blog on how men are always told to grow up because women get to decide what is adult behavior was spawned by countless women's blogs about how apish men act.
I also want to point out something else about the blog. I remember years ago a fun TV show called "My World and Welcome To It." It was loosely based on James Thurber and starred William Windom. In one episode he was getting raked over the coals because he was always writing about some odd behaviors of women he didn't like when his daughter came up to him and said "Dad, you don't hate women, you hate everyone." Or something like that. He was a little nonplussed about this, but he did have a habit of yelling at the neighbor kids, arguing with his boss, etc.

So I just want to say that I don't hate women. In fact, I believe women might be better than men. They can withstand more pain, they seldom start any wars, won't break your nose if you look at them wrong and are less emotional then us guys. That doesn't mean I'm not going to talk smack about them. I could write just as much about men, but hey, we need to have some balance around here, plus I am a guy after all and so have to stand up for the team.

Therefore you'll probably continue to see goofy blogs here about the differences between men and women. However, instead of calling my boss, why don't you just write an angry comment below. That's right, there is a section for comments and so far in two years there have been only three. So come on, grow a pair (darn, I should have used that in my last blog) and type your anger to the world. If there' something I like better then writing contrarian, controversial blogs, it's getting into lively, spirited exchanges. Give it a shot.

Oh and one final thing about my writing: buy my books! They're great.