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Return from AnthoCon 2012


It has been a solid week since AnthoCon 2012, I traveled down with my friends Bracken and Chris—both AnthoCon veterans. It wasn't until later that I learned that 2012 was only the second 'Con and I allowed myself to be less impressed. (Shiv goes in, shive comes out, that's how Mad Dogs* roll!) Thankfully, New Hampshire isn't too far from Boston, so sitting with my hip jammed against Chris's in the back seat sounds worse than it really was. Besides, he was wedged between Bracken's son and me—the back seat immaturity levels were high. This is the price payed for spending two days up to our eyeballs in horror writers, their writings, publishers, and all related media. In other words: well motherfucking worth it. Of all things, I was able to sell a couple of copies of my comic strip compilation Lost In Transition as well as a few copies of Dreadworks Journal, our writing group's chap'zine of horrors.

"I can't say enough about the caliber of people I was privileged to meet."

The convention itself sprawled over three days, starting on Friday. We arrived Saturday morning and I'd already been jealous because both Chris and Bracken were going to be on panels. Lo! Later that day, I was invited to appear on a panel, Writing for Video games, Role Playing Games, Comics, and other Formats.  Sweet succor! As any nerd knows, there are few pleasures that exceed waxing pretentiously about subjects we've steeped ourselves in for at least as long as we've been able to read. Maybe next time I'll get a name card and advance notice. (Regardless, thanks to T.J. for the opportunity!) And as long as I'm on "getting stuff," here's some stuff I got:

This Only Happens In The Movies/She Makes Me Smile (chapbook, signed by) by Mandy DeGeit, The Howling (I, II, III) by Gary Brandner, WTF? (Pink Narcissus Press anthology) edited by Mambert & Racicot, The Black Death of Babylon by Edward J. McFadden, The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes (anthology signed by my friend Bracken MacLeod), Chiral Mad, Anthology of Psychological Horror edited by Michael Bailey, Shock Totem #3, Shroud #11, signed print of the cover painting by Jesse Young for The Wicked, an epic yet manageable hangover.

I can't say enough about the caliber of people I was privileged to meet. I hope to stay in touch with as many of them as possible and to see them again at other conventions, events, best-seller lists, and not at all in jail for drunk and disorderly. Ooh, random highlight: Ron Añejo Pampero Aniversario. It's a rum. Drink it.

Most importantly—professionally—I can honestly say that no less than four creative opportunities sprang out of AnthoCon '12 and into my lap. Proof positive that this is the right crowd to be around. I look forward to attending AnthoCon 2013 as well as attending as many other conferences as I can manage.

*Mad Dogs, by the way, is my writing group's hyperbolic name. We're all dedicated family men and rolling terror only when well away from our wives and children. More like 'Tame Dogs.'

Comeuppance!

Former United States Marine Corps ex-Sergeant Gary Stein, charged with conduct "prejudicial to good order and discipline," has received a "less-than-honorable" discharge from service. With the conclusion of this situation, one would think that media coverage of Stein's troubles would be clearer. In other words, odd headlines like Marine Discharged For Criticizing President Obama need to go extinct quick, fast, and in a hurry. Why? Because critique of civilian politics is fine, those kinds of comments are certainly available for any member of America's armed forces to make since they are United States citizens. It should be more clear to everyone, however, that active duty military personnel do not have complete freedom of speech rights.

Marines, sailors, and soldiers are contractually obligated for several years under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, a far more strict and clear set of codes than common U.S. law. Stein crossed the line by posting several derogatory comments about his Commander-in-Chief, but the following post from Stein is as clear a violation of  Code as I can imagine:

"As an Active Duty Marine I say 'Screw Obama' and I will not follow all orders from him ... has [sic] for saluting Obama as commander-in-chief ... I will not!"
I've seen far too many media outlets doing a lousy job covering this by presenting Stein's discharge as a freedom of speech issue—which it is not. This is about violating the UCMJ and Stein, in my opinion, got off easy. The former Sergeant was warned to cease the types of comments he was posting, he fought the charges and lost, and he continues to act like a victim ("I think they're trying to use me as an example"). His appearances on "news" programs, subsequent comments, poor spelling and grammar, and affiliation with the Tea Party are all indicative of his lousy cognitive abilities, ignorance of history, and misunderstanding of the nine-year commitment he pissed away by ranting like a bitchy little troll on Facebook. I'm certain he'll continue to dishonor himself and besmirch any legacy he may have had with the Marine Corps posthaste.

I served in the Marine Corps and ex-Sergeant Gary Stein's behavior personally disturbs and insults me as much as the Marines who urinated on dead Taliban fighters, took smiling photos with a suicide bomber's body parts, and posed with Nazi flags. There is no excuse for this dishonorable behavior and all of these Marines—as well as the civilians publicly defending them—should known better.

(For reference, this is a very good article about Stein's cockup and subsequent fall.)