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A Simple Observation

New Mexico has been a battlefield state in past presidential elections, most recently in 2000 and 2004, but Obama carried it easily both times, and of late it has been trending blue. So much so that until very recently it was considered safe for Clinton this time around, which meant that neither side was paying us much attention.

That's changed in the last couple of weeks. All of a sudden, it is thought that the Land of Enchantment is in play, and we're seeing campaign commercials for both sides daily, often hourly. All summer our airwaves were blessedly free of those, but now one can't escape them. Some of them are positive ads, about the wonderful things the candidates is going to do for us... but the vast majority are negative, attacking the opponent. Sadly, that seems to have become the default setting for politics in this 21st century of ours.

Watching them, however, a very huge and basic difference struck me.

The Trump commercials are all fairly standard political attack ads. You've seen a thousand like them. Find some bad pictures of the opponent, in this case Hillary, pictures that make them look ugly or angry or crazed (easily done, there are thousands of unflattering pictures of any public figure floating around these days). If they are not bad enough, put them up in black & white, which always seems to make them worse. Juxtapose them with negative imagery, maybe some out of context headlines. Use a faceless narrator's voice over the pictures telling us that the candidate is corrupt or a liar or "too extreme." The latest Trump ad manages to add Anthony Weiner, who is called "Pervert Anthony Weiner." The blatant name-calling -- flinging around words like 'pervert' and 'crooked' -- is not something we have often seen before in American politics, unless you go back to the 18th and 19th centuries; that's Trump's own original ugly contribution to lowering the tenor of political discourse. The rest, however, is Attack Ad 101.

What's notable here is that the whole thing is accusation. It's one side calling the other side names. If any political positions are presented, they are usually distorted. Smith says Jones is corrupt. Jones says Smith is a liar. Smith says Jones voted for something unpopular. Jones says Smith favors something vile. Trump's ads against Hillary tick every box here. They are made of assertion, innuendo, and name-calling, but there's no substance to them.

Clinton's ads are something else. Very different, and -- to my mind -- much more truthful. The star of all the Clinton ads in Donald J. Trump. There are no deliberately unflattering photographs, however. Nothing in black and white. Just video clips, full color, professional footage from news cameras at his rallies, interviews, television appearances. There's no name-calling either. Clinton doesn't need to label Trump as "crooked" or "a liar" or link him with "perverts." Clinton's ads just show Trump being Trump.

So what we have here is not Smith claiming that Jones said terrible things. What we have is actual footage of Jones saying and doing those things. No one has to accuse Trump of anything, he has laid it all out there in public for the world to see.

Yes, he mocked a disabled reporter. There he is, doing it.

Yes, he told Billy Bush he liked to kiss women without their consent and grab them by their pussies. There he is, boasting about it. When you're a star, you can do anything.

No need to accuse Trump of going into the dressing rooms of Miss Universe and Miss Teen USA pagaents when the contestants were changing so he could see them naked. There's Trump himself, telling Howard Stern about it.

Yes, he said women should be punished for having abortions. There he is, telling Chris Matthews. His own words, his own face.

Yes, he said he wants to ban all Muslims from entering the US. Here, see the clip.

Yes, he's in favor of Japan and Saudi Arabia and South Korea having nukes, here's the clip where he says so.

And on and on and on and on. The Gold Star family, the bad hombres, Judge Curiel, the Miss Universe contestant... his own speeches, his own tweets, his own words.

The usual pattern in election is that Smith says Jones said something terrible, and Jones denies it. Not so here. Hillary does not need to use the sort of hoary attack ads that Trump is using. She only needs to present him as he is, and let his own words condemn them.

And they do.

In my lifetime, there has never been a presidential candidate more unfit to lead this nation.

You don't need to like Hillary. You don't need to listen to what Hillary says about Trump, or what I say about Trump. You just need to listen to Trump. If you can do that, and still consider voting for him... well...

Pappy Bush lost an election by looking at his watch. Michael Dukakis lost an election by riding around in a tank. Howard Dean lost an election by giving a yeeeehah scream. Trivial things. Insignificant things. Trump, on the other hand, has said the vilest things any presidential candidate has said since George Wallace, and he's rising in the polls.

He has boasted that he could shoot someone dead on Fifth Avenue and still not lose any votes. I am beginning to think he was right.


Cubs Win

The Cubs have won the World Series.

Yes, you read that right. The Cubs have won the World Series, for the first time in one hundred and eight years. They are weeping in Cleveland and dancing in the streets of Chicago.

Surely the end of days is at hand. The seventh seal has broken, some rough beast is slouching toward Bethlehem (or Washington, D.C.), pigs are flying. The Cubs have come back from being down three games to one, and that bleating you hear is the billy goat that cursed them so long ago.

Somewhere Harry Carey is saying "Holy Cow," and Steve Goodman is singing.

Truth be told, I'm a Mets fan. We have our own agonies, sharing a city with the Yankees. But it's nothing like the pain Cubs fans have known. We will always have 1969. A painful memory for Cubs fans, and golden one for Mets fans. And we will always have 1986. Agony for Red Sox fans, magic for Mets fans... and especially for Parris and me, who were actually there for game six, in great seats four rows up on the first base side, so close to the field that we could see the stitches on the ball as it rolled between Bill Buckner's legs.

But I digress. As I saying, I'm a Mets fan... but I did go to college at Northwestern (1966-1971), and did my VISTA service in Chicago (1971-1973), and lived there in Uptown afterwards (1973-1976), so I have a certain affection for the Cubbies too. I certainly enjoyed many a lazy spring and fall afternoon sitting in the bleachers at Wrigley, both in college and after. (Okay, okay, living in Chicago and being surrounded by Cubs fans as I was, I took a certain cruel pleasure from the Mets classic run in 1969, mea culpa). I'd still prefer the Mets to win it all... but if it can't be them, I'm glad it was the Cubs. Chicago is a great city, Wrigley is a great field, and Steve Goodman was a great songwriter.

So congratulations to all my friends in the Second City. Enjoy the moment. Let's hope it isn't another hundred and eight years before it comes again.

There is one fly in the ointment, though. Last week, when the Cubs were down 3 games to 1, Nate Silver wrote that Trump had as much chance of winning the election as the Cubs did of winning the series.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

The Cubs have won the World Series. The end is nigh.



Just got back from the courthouse, where I cast my vote.

It was a busy, bustling scene. The poll watchers and election personnel told me that early voting is way up compared to 2012, at least in Santa Fe County. That's encouraging.

After you cast your ballot, they give you one of those little red, white, and blue I VOTED stickers. We want to do our own part in encouraging everyone to get out and vote, so from now until November 9 anyone who turns up at the Jean Cocteau Cinema with one of those stickers will get a FREE POPCORN. No charge for butter, or the topping of your choice. And we do have the best popcorn in town, so...

I have to admit, this election has me very anxious, especially this past week as the polls began to tighten. Every four years someone is sure to say, "This is the most important election of our lifetime," but this year I think that is absolutely true.

In other words: vote. Do it for America, do it for the world, do it for your children, do it for the popcorn... but DO IT.


Trump is Coming...

... to the Jean Cocteau Cinema.

Opening tonight at the JCC for a one-week LIMITED ENGAGEMENT, we have TRUMPLAND, the latest film from Michael Moore.

TRUMPLAND is the latest from the Academy Award winning director of SICKO, BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE, FAHRENHEIT 9/11, and many more.

And the Jean Cocteau is the only theatre in all of New Mexico showing TRUMPLAND. We're a small theatre, so if you want to catch this one, I'd get my tickets now:


See you at the movies... and at the polls, I hope.

A Win is a Win

A win is a win. And any win is better than a loss.

Still... it is hard to get to excited about the Jets' victory yesterday.

They beat the Cleveland Browns. The hapless, winless Cleveland Browns, who are clearly the worst team in the NFL this season, stumbling ahead toward next year's number one draft choice.

They barely beat the hapless, winless Cleveland Browns. In fact, they were losing for much of the game. Gang Green came out sleepwalking, and snoozed through the entire first half, allowing the Browns to run up a 20 - 7 lead. The offense was asleep, the defense was asleep, and Fitz was just awful.

They woke up in the second half, hallelujah, and scored 24 unanswered points to take the lead. Then, with the game seemingly in hand, they went back to sleep again in the final two minutes, to let Cleveland score a late TD and a 2-point conversion, so the whole thing came down to an onsides kick. Final score 31-28.

It was ugly and it was sloppy and it was way too close. A win, sure, but not one for a Jets fan to feel very good about. If the Jets are only twelve seconds and three points better than the Browns, it is hard to imagine they are going anywhere this year.

But at least it wasn't a loss.

(The Giants had a bye)


Now On Sale

The 20th Anniversary edition of A GAME OF THRONES, with all of its gorgeous art, is now on sale everywhere, I'm pleased to say.

You should be able to find it at your local bookstore, if you're one of the folks who is lucky enough to have a local bookstore.

If not, it is of course available from all the usual online booksellers.

You can find it at:



Or any one of hundreds of independent bookstores or B&N outlets. Just find your favorite.

And if you're looking for an autographed copies, those are available too, from the Jean Cocteau Cinema Bookstore:


The Cards Get Wilder

Some cool new stuff to announce for you Wild Cards fans out there.

We have a couple of brand new original never-before-published Wild Cards coming up on Tor.com, and available for free. The first of them is "The Thing About Growing Up in Jokertown," by Carrie Vaughn, a prequel of sorts to FORT FREAK, featuring two of your favorite 5th precinct joker cops as teenagers. John Picacio just sent us the cover art, and as usual it's wonderful.

Carrie's story will be uploaded to Tor.com on December 21. Hope you'll enjoy the read. (I did).

Meanwhile, on other Wild Card-ish fronts... Tor taped hours of interview with myself and a whole legion of my Wild Cards writers in Kansas City, during the big launch event for HIGH STAKES, and will be releasing them in a series of videos. The first came out in late August. The second has just been released. Enjoy.

More videos will be forthcoming in future months.

HIGH STAKES is available now from your favorite local bookstore and online bookseller. And if you're an autograph hound, we do have copies at the Jean Cocteau Bookshop with signatures from Melinda Snodgrass, John Jos. Miller, Ian Tregillis, and yours truly. http://www.jeancocteaubooks.com/bookstore/high-stakes-wild-cards/

Two for the Win Column

Life is magical and full of joy? Well, that may be overstating the case this weekend. Let's just say life is tolerable and full of hope.

By which I mean, hell yes, the Giants and the Jets both won this week, and that was good. But neither win was convincing enough to have me turning cartwheels. The Giants beat the Rams in London, and the Jets beat the Ravens at home. Neither of those teams is exactly a powerhouse this season, however, and both games were a lot closer than I would have liked or hoped.

The Giant offense was supposed to be lights out this year with Eli and three terrific wideouts, but it looked anemic yesterday. Big Blue has no running game whatsoever. The highlight of the game in London was an insane pick six runback by Landon Collins that changed the whole momentum of the game. Aside from that, and one cool catch by ODB, there wasn't much.

As for Gang Green, well, this was the week that Geno Smith got his starting qb jon back. He held on to it for almost a quarter before an injury sent him back to the sidelines, and brought Fitz back in again. Good thing Fitz did not get hurt, since neither one of the young Jet quarterbacks was active. The win broke the losing streak, which is good, but at 2-5 the Jets have little or no chance of making the playoffs, so I think the debate over whether Fitz or Geno should start next week is pointless. It's time to give Petty and Hackenberg some playing time, to see if either of them is the long awaited savior Jets fans have been waiting for since Joe Willie.



Good News New Yorkers, last week our friends over at Penguin Random House in conjunction with NYC Subway Transit Wireless rolled out a new program to help ease boredom during your commute.

And here it is, a shiny new link to SUBWAY READS

On Sunday, Subway Reads started delivering novellas, short stories or excerpts from full-length books to passengers’ cellphones or tablets.

The idea is for riders to download a short story or a chapter and read it on the train. Subway Reads will even let riders choose what to read based on how long they will be on the subway — a 10-page selection for a 10-minute ride, a 20-page selection for a 20-minute excursion, a 30-page selection for a 30-minute trip. Delays not included.

And one of the top stories available now to read is GRRM'S chilling horror tale SANDKINGS.

And here is the LINK leading to the Free Transit Wireless Wifi station map for availability in your area.

Happy Reading!


Once Upon An Election...

We're on the cusp of the third and final (thank god) presidential debate of the 2016 presidential election. All the signs point to this one being even uglier than the last, which itself was the ugliest debate in the history of our nation.

Most of you reading this are younger than me. You may not know what presidential debates used to be like... what they should be like... but I remember.

Take a look below. (But be warned. You may find it boring. Serious discussions of policy are a lot less "exciting" than what we have today).

The Lincoln/ Douglas debates were pretty impressive as well, but alas, no video exists. ;(



George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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