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Audio books are now available for my novels “A Hand With Women” and “Six Men Dead“! Both have been read by professional (and excellent!!) voice actors (Tim Shafer and Tom Lusty, respectively) who have really brought interesting takes to the stories. An audio version of “Cheerleader, Gymnast, Flautist, Spy” will be out in the next couple months.

Now me, I still prefer to read a book–whether on paper or on my Kindle I don’t really care, I just like to read–but I know many people love an audio book. Some of them love to read, too, but they prefer an audio book while driving around to the radio or music or whatever. If that’s you, you’re going to love these audio presentations of my novels!

As always: reviews are greatly appreciated. They are encouraging not just to me and potential readers, but in this case to the narrators.

Why the Western?

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My latest novel (please purchase it here) is a western. To date, I have written four westerns*, three already published.

What is attractive about the western?

Without going into a lot of, or any, argument about what exactly constitutes a western, I think it’s the same thing that attracts readers and writers to any period from the past: there is a built-in set of assumptions and rules.

For instance, my latest novel to be published, Six Men Dead, is set in Texas in the year 1895. Having told you that much, think about what has already come to your mind: horses, wide-open spaces, dusty streets, six shooters. There are no automobiles, and train travel—which you and I might find excruciatingly slow—was the quickest way to get around. Churches were a center of the community, even for those who didn’t attend.

If I had told you my novel was set in the nineteen-twenties, different pictures would have probably popped into your mind: jalopies, flappers, speak-easies. Nineteen-sixties: protests, hippies, soldiers shipping off to Vietnam. Seventeen-seventies: colonial soldiers, powdered wigs, corsets, silly hats.

Right now, on the whole, the western era of the United States still holds some romance. Realism in different forms has been used in books and movies set in the era (outhouses or just pots [uhg, more on that later], prejudice, disease), but there’s still an image in many of our minds of the “old west” that’s been put there by the western movies of the forties and fifties and the television shows of the fifties and sixties which still play on several TV channels.

Much has been written to psychoanalyze this phenomenon, often casting aspersions on those who enjoy the western—or plugging the western as if it is some sort of ideal. Maybe there is some truth to these thoughts, or maybe the people still watching the movies and (hopefully) reading or listening to my books (yes, it comes out in audio form in August!!), are just there for the entertainment, the escapism. Escapism isn’t always bad, so long as we don’t escape into whatever it is and never come back.

For me, I am attracted to the western for two main reasons: I live in an area of the United States where western iconography is still ubiquitous and, 2] there’s attraction to the ideal of living in a time and place where right and wrong are pretty well established.

Yes, I know that wasn’t as true of the Old West as “Gunsmoke” might make one think. Besides the fact that Matt Dillon had to shoot someone almost every week (someone who “deserved it”, of course), there was much iniquity that went on, maybe as much as now. And let’s not forget those outhouses, because I sure cant! So no, I don’t want to live in the old west. If I had Doc Brown’s time machine, I might want to go there for a few minutes and see it—and then come quickly back to the present, hoping I hadn’t changed anything. (I write a lot about time travel, too, see more about that here.)

Whatever the morals and mores of the time might have really been like, writing stories set in the old west is a chance to explore themes that are important to me because I find them easy to set in that era: love, loss, honesty, greed, guilt … I can explore those issues in other areas, and I have, but today I’m looking at the western.

Assuming you have read this far, and then double-assuming what led you to read at all was the title of this blog, I’d love to know what attracts you about the western. Write to me at


* A Thousand Miles Away is essentially a western, dedicated to Louis L’Amour, set 10,000 years in the future.

Star Wars Blog Pt 2 (see I did come back to it!)

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As a huge Star Wars fan (as mentioned in several other of my blogs), I have to admit that I don’t really get the adoration for The Mandalorean. It’s fun and attractive (at least the first 6 episodes I have gotten around to watching so far), but my youngest son–whose opinion I often trust on many things, including Reformed Theology–thinks it’s either the best Star Wars so far, or 2nd best behind Rogue One.
I loved RO, and I enjoy the Mando, but it’s just not that spectacular to me. It’s better than The Last Jedi, but then so were the other ten theater movies, the Clone Wars movie (which came to the theater, too, remember that?) and TV show, Rebels and the Ewok movies, which were made for TV on a budget equal to ALF‘s. The only Star Wars that TLJ is better than is The Star Wars Holiday Special and that’s only because TLJ was lucky enough to not have Bea Arthur.
But anyway, about the Mando, it’s a good show, and it looks good (not necessarily the same thing), but I’m just not blown away by it. Someone who does love it, tell me what I’m missing.
As for The Last Jedi, I’m going to say something here in the next paragraph that will surprise both of you who have read this far. First off, I have loved Star Wars since 1977 and seen all but one of them in the theater on opening day. I’ve read probably more than 60% of the novels, have played a lot of the table top games (and still own some of the toys and many T-shirts). So I don’t hate any SW so far. I just thought this most recent trilogy was the weakest of the three trilogies. With that being said, I really enjoyed Rise of Skywalker. I went in expecting very little but feeling almost obligated after all the time I have invested/wasted on SW over the years. Imagine my surprise!! It was just fun, which was what I was going for. Sure, there were some eyebrow raising elements (like the time within the story it took the events to unfold, which was too short even with the conceit of hyperspace) but I enjoyed it all three times I saw it in the theater and cheered every time when Lando showed up with the fleet.
Now, back to my big reveal: I think the 7-9 trilogy would have better if the whole thing had been done by Rian Johnson. I think it would have been a lot better if the whole thing had been done by JJ Abrams. It would have been way, way, way better if Disney had listened to Lucas and gotten Brad Bird to do the trilogy. Gareth Edwards, Ron Howard, Taika Waititi and, as long as we’re dreaming, the late Orson Wells, would have been better than what we got: a trilogy written by different people who didn’t have an overarching theme or idea. It was like that game we used to play in school where one person would write a paragraph or two, then someone else had to write the next section. Mainly, we were trying to stick it to the next guy, so whoever came up last had the sad duty to tie it all together.
Supposedly, Rian Johnson is still slated to write and direct a future SW trilogy that will be unrelated to the Skywalker family. I actually think that might be good because one of the things I love most about Lucas’s movies–and yes, I still enjoy the prequels–is that they were one man’s vision. [Shameless plug here] Kind of like all 32 of my novels are woven together–some more overtly than others. That aside, I think RJ’s solo project has a better chance of being good than the recent trilogy.
Speaking of solo projects, I want to find and sign that petition for Lucasfilm to continue the story set in motion with the movie Solo. My thought is, if they don’t want to do a whole, big-budget movie, they do a 6-8 episode miniseries for Disney+ (like the Mando) and get Ron Howard and Bryce Dallas Howard to direct. I enjoyed Solo and no, it didn’t have Harrison Ford, but I thought the actors all did a good job–especially Donald Glover who I had no problem seeing as a young Lando. Not that he looked like Billy Dee Williams, but he did a great job of playing a young and brash showman before he’s made somewhat cynical by the cares of maturity.
Lastly, if I were ranking the Star Wars movies (and I am, it’s my blog): I would rank them thusly:
1. A New Hope
2. Empire Strikes Back
3. Rogue One
4. Revenge of the Sith
5. Solo
6. Attack of the Clones
7. Return of the Jedi
8. The Phantom Menace
9. Rise of Skywalker
10. Force Awakens

Some of the Other Women in My Novels

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Now, as to some of those other women in my novels …

I was recently told by my sister that my nieces are constantly seeing my wife in the women in my novels. What surprised me about this idea was the one that my nieces had read my books. I am not surprised they can read, I just didn’t know the daughters of this particular sister had read my novels.

So, anyway, let me talk/write about some of those women in my novels.

Heather and Melinda, as mentioned in the previous blog, are probably too perfect—Heather’s penchant for conspiracy theories notwithstanding. Sonya Kiel may also fit in with those two, I’m not sure.

But what about the others? For starters, let me say right out that I am in love with all of them. Part of that is because they all do share some traits with my wife, but they are also written to be women I would want to meet—especially if I were single. Now, before I get accused of sexism (probably too late, huh?) let me point out that the men in the stories are better than real men, too. See, I like all kinds of fiction, but the kind I have tried to write (whether disguised as fantasy, mystery or western) is the kind where you read about the hero or heroine and want to aspire to be like them. Not that you want to get thrown off a cliff and shot (see The Nice Guy and Cheerleader, Gymnast, Flautist, Spy), but you want to find not only the kind of love they have, but to live a life of commitment like they exhibit. You want to be the kind of person who stands up for what’s right and, when a punch lands, you get back up and join back in the fight.

That’s the kind of woman Ellen (Hating God: A Love Story) is. Life has dealt her a lot of blows, and she almost succumbed, but she fought back, with help from friends, family and faith. Or Cassie Jones (A Woman Caught) who dug her own hole, but let God lift her out of it. And the most impressive part of her struggle is that she doesn’t return to the life she left. Or Alyste Farmer, who was left all alone but learned not so much to stand on her own two feet, but to let God hold her up (So Many Books).

And then there are the two Mariannes. The first Marianne (All the Time in Our World, Some of the Time) grows into the woman she becomes. For all she achieves, her proudest and strongest ties are to her family. Same with her husband. The second Marianne (TimeKeepers and TimeKeepers: Rectification) is thought by everyone around her to be just short of a superhero, but she sees herself as an orphan, orphaned not just from her parents, but from the whole world. She’s at her best when the world is falling apart, which reminds me a lot of several of the strong women I know.

I guess the closest woman to my wife of all “my women”, though, is Jody. (See most of the books I have written.) She bares the strongest resemblance to my wife—not physically, but in temperament, and determination and her love for her husband. But Jody’s not perfect. Everyone who has read The Return of the Nice Guy, especially, knows that Jody can be quite petulant. No, that part’s not based on my wife … not entirely, anyway. But be honest, guys: if you’ve read my books, isn’t Jody the one you’d want to marry? Sure, she’s attractive physically, but that’s not what draws you to her, is it?

Lastly, I am not a girl. In the words of Hayden Fox when discussing the “masculinity scale”, “I’m in the high 90s myself.” So yeah, some of what I have women in the books say or think may not be one hundred percent accurate to the feminine mind. Oh well. Women are not cookie-cuttered, I am writing about an ideal, and I really like the old stories like Louis L’Amour and Dostoyevsky where women were put on something of a pedestal.

Some of the Women in My Novels

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Heather Fitch and Melinda Overstreet are nothing like my wife. I think, if anything, they are conglomerations of all the girls I wished I could date back in school but never had the nerve to ask out. The real-life girls probably weren’t as together as Heather and Melinda, but in my young, immature mind, I didn’t realize that. “Gosh! She looks perfect so surely she is!!”

So, if there’s a maturity in my thinking that comes out in the books, Sonya Kiel (in A Star Falls on Oklahoma) is probably in a line with Heather in Melinda in that she looks perfect, but hopefully is a little more realistic with her flaws. But she’s also a fantasy in that I see these young starlets and “influencers” in the news that are certainly outwardly pretty, but as I read about their constant break-ups and melt-downs, I can’t help but think that, in the long run, they would have been better off—especially spiritually—to have never been “discovered” and stayed in their home town somewhere, involved in a local church, etc. (No, I’m not saying, “Barefoot and pregnant”. I’m saying, “Married, single, professional, homemaker, whatever, but not famous.“) But I can see where, if you’re 22 years old and the world is throwing millions of dollars and lots of adoration at you, it would be nigh-impossible to turn that down or keep any semblance of your head in the game.

Then, the secondary problem within this is all the young people who are being influenced by these influencers and thinking that’s the way their life should be. Of course, it’s all portrayed in the media as so fun and glamorous (even the pics of some 40-something star stumbling drunk out of a bachelor party), which just adds to the problem. I have no idea what to do about the problem in a world-wide sense … short of another flood, but we know that’s not going to happen. Though, personally, I haven’t seen a rainbow since last summer.

About that “Noah” book

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Some Thoughts on “Noah”

If you have read all or part of my new novel Noah (available here), you probably have some questions. Let me go ahead and try to answer some of them now. If you have additional questions, please write to me and I will try my best to answer them and work them into a blog. (Though I won’t mention you by name, just the usual “D.B. from Des Moines asks … “)

How are they so technologically advanced?

When most of us think about the pre-flood world, the first images that come to mind were probably put there by either Sunday School or elementary textbooks. For the former, it’s this picture of a dude in a full-length robe, probably holding a shepherd’s crook, and with a beard that’s long enough to tuck into his belt like Gandalf. For the latter, it’s a picture of a swarthy fellow with a thick brow and “tools” that consist of a club and maybe a rock.

But there are some realities that ought to be addressed, one of which I will (probably/maybe) get to later but suffice to say now that we have almost no record of life before the flood. The answer I want to propose right now, though, is that I don’t think either of the above pictures is correct. Even if they were basically agrarian, a farmer or rancher who lives for 900+ years is going to discover some short-cuts and he’s not going to be doing the job the same way he did it eight centuries before.

And that’s not all! I firmly believe, as proposed by Noah in the novel, that ancient man was way more intelligent than us. Before the inbreeding, before the diseases, and—most importantly—before the degradation of compounding sin, I think mankind could think circles around us. Oh, we have great inventors now and an incredible store of knowledge that has been recorded from experience, but I think they were just smarter than us.

Imagine, then, if Leonardo da Vinci, instead of inventing for 50+ years, had had 800+ years to come up with things! And what if he had had the favor of the powers that be and could have experimented with and manufactured those wonderful things he drew? I don’t think it’s any stretch at all to think that the technology in Noah’s day was at least on a par with ours, if not far beyond.

Doesn’t Your Book Have Way too Many People in It?

Maybe you have never thought about this, but another oft-assumed feature of antediluvian life is that the world was sparsely populated. But look back in Genesis 5. With every person listed there, after having the child that is the focus of the tree, it mentions something like, “After he became the father of Enoch, Jared lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters.” If we take the grammar literally there, it means that Jared had at least five children. (Enoch, then sons plural and daughters, plural.) It says that for every single generation.

So if every person on the planet averaged five children, the population of the planet in Noah’s day could be well into the millions. “But some of them would have died! Or not had children at all!” you object. True. But look again at that genealogy.  Enoch is the youngest to have a child, at the age of 65. Noah is the oldest to have a child, at the age of 500. Now, it doesn’t tell us anything about how old their wives were, so maybe Noah’s wife is considerably younger than him. Still, if the average “gestational range” for humans was even just a couple hundred years, you know there are going to be families who have ten and twenty—or even fifty—children. If it works out that the average person has only ten children apiece, then the population in Noah’s day could be in the billions.

[I’m not saying there absolutely were that many people, but I am saying it is mathematically possible, so I went with that possibility for my work of fiction.]

Now, imagine that an inventor like a da Vinci gets to not only live and invent for 800+ years, but also gets to overlap and even mentor an Edison and a Tesla. What wonders would they come up with?!?!

The Bible doesn’t mention anything like this!

Why would it? The issue at stake in the Biblical account is man’s depravity. Maybe that was in a simple, agrarian society where Noah’s boat is the greatest and most astounding thing ever seen. Or maybe it’s in a technological world where a guy building an old-fashioned wooden boat is kind of a curiosity. To not tell us which is not exactly out of “character” for the Bible because the key issue throughout is man’s relationship with his creator God.

I do not believe technology is evil. Any more than any tool from a hammer to a computer is evil; they are just tools. But I have noticed that, the more sophisticated we think we are getting, the less we think we need God. So I placed the story of Noah in a world not too dissimilar from our own, where we seem to be more and more under the impression that we have outgrown God.

Okay, So Where is All that Stuff?

If a flood of the type the Bible describes happened (and I believe it did), there would be nothing left of the civilization(s) before said deluge. Everything would be wiped out. Those “fountains of the deep” that Genesis told us broke forth? That might not be water, but lava. Psalms speaks of the mountains rising up and the water flowing away. Such a thing would scour the country-side clean. Buildings, roads, books, you name it: they would all be gone.

Why haven’t we found any graves, though? One, that’s assuming they took care of their dead before the flood the way we take care of them now. Two, even if they did bury them much as we do now, with all the turmoil and layer upon layer of ash and silt, who knows how deep such graves might be now? If they cremated … you get the picture.

But over all …

Please remember that: this is a work of fiction. I took the Biblical account, which I believe, and ran with it, Maybe I ran crazy. Still, that’s the point of fiction: sometimes it shows us ourselves and sometimes it shows us what might be—for good or ill—but it’s not an exact replication of what is or was.

Remake Star Wars? I Don’t Think So

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Just saw The Incredibles 2, a fantastic movie, and can’t help but think of how much better the Star Wars universe would be now if The Force Awakens had been directed by Brad Bird like George Lucas wanted. As strange as that may sound, it’s not as ludicrous as this …


Crowd-Sourced Remakes

There is a petition going around on the internet, supposedly enhanced by the idea that the signatories will pitch in their own money, attempting to get Disney to let them—the signatories—remake Star Wars – The Last Jedi.

Leaving aside the absurdity of Disney (or any studio) allowing that to happen for any amount of money, can you imagine just how bad that movie would be?!? Probably not. I’m not sure the human mind is capable of conceiving such a disaster.

It all stems from the fact that there are a lot of Star Wars fans who didn’t like The Last Jedi. Having many years to practice being unhinged, they have decided that they not only don’t like it, it was awful, terrible, horrible, and everyone associated with it except Mark Hamill should be taken out and shot—preferably in a non-vital organ so that their deaths will be slow and painful.

OK, I get not liking the movie. There are a lot of movies I haven’t liked. And, truthfully, The Last Jedi is my least favorite of the 10 Star Wars theatrically-released movies so far. But I have only ever walked out of one movie in my life (Star Trek 10—The Search for a Plot) and that was because the projector broke and they gave us all our money back.

Now, don’t get the idea that I am just a casual fan of Star Wars. I have movies I-VII (plus Rogue One) on DVD & Blu-Ray, I have read about 75% of the novels, have hundreds of the comic books, and am frequently seen in Star Wars T-shirts. I do well at Star Wars trivia, I’ve seen Rebels and most of Clone Wars, I have the Lego Millennium Falcon, I had a dog named Obi … and you get the point. It would not be a stretch to say I love Star Wars.

But I wasn’t crazy about The Last Jedi. I thought it had a lot of great moments, but—for me—they added up to an unsatisfying whole. So, while it’s been out on disk for a while now, I still haven’t bought a copy. Don’t know if I will (but it’s probable). Part of me is thinking maybe TLJ will be rescued by Episode IX*, but then I remember that IX is being directed by JJ Abrams, who is notorious for bringing projects to an unsatisfying conclusion (see Lost, or, well, everything else he’s made). So counting on Abrams to bring it all home is like that moment when your favorite team sends in that reliever who seems as likely to blow the 8 run lead as to hold it.

Having established my bona fides as a Star Wars fan, and expressed my own displeasure with TLJ, what I don’t understand are those people who hate TLJ. I mean, absolutely hate it. Some of them are so clearly unhinged as to declare that a movie (A MOVIE!!) has now ruined their childhood, but even some of the moderately hinged ones appear to be frothing at the mouth as they type out screeds against a film that is apparently the worst thing they have ever seen. (I would say that they are typing these words from their parents’ basement, but that may not be true. They may well be typing them from their law office, their comfortable summer bungalow, or even the RV behind their parents’ house where they sometimes attempt to bring chicks who they have met at the local comic book store.**)

Seriously, how do you let a movie ruin your life? Even if IX is worse than VIII, I will still happily—joyfully even—watch I-VI plus Rogue and Solo. I will even continue to play Star Wars Trivial Pursuit with my family because I have one edition that covers episodes IV-VI and another that covers I-VI (the only movies I will ever think of as true canon) and while I’ll watch the other four (and probably five, once IX is out), it’s not going to diminish my life in any way if they aren’t as enjoyable as the first six. Even if Rian Johnson’s planned trilogy*** doesn’t come up to snuff, and even if those miscreants responsible for Game of Porn make a Star Wars trilogy as abominable as their TV show, it won’t diminish the fact that I will still love I-VI.

Now, back to my opening statement: this remake the dreamers think they can persuade Disney to let them do, would just be awful because—trite though it may have become—too many cooks do spoil the broth. Would everyone who contributes to the cause be allowed a vote on whether Poe’s X-wing gets blown up or not, or whether Kylo and Rey get together? If not, why not? Will the person who started the crowd-fund be the director, or have a say in the hiring of one, or is there a committee in charge? Who selects them? And why would I think they would be any better at telling a story than Abrams, Johnson or that guy on the corner who thinks he’s directing a movie when he waves at traffic?

In short, as many faults as I personally found in TLJ, I am confident that this proposed remake would be infinitely worse.

* Some of you may not remember, but way back in 1980 there were people (a minority, but they existed) who claimed that Empire Strikes Back had ruined the saga because Han was frozen and the rebellion was losing and, surely, Darth Vader had just lied to Luke.

** This is, of course, said in jest as there are [almost] no chicks at comic book stores.

*** I’m not as down on this idea as some fans are. As I understand it, Johnson’s planned trilogy will be set somewhere else in the Star Wars universe, or, at least, not concern the Skywalker family. It could be that, given his own story to tell and not having to fit it into some committee’s paint-by-numbers plan, it will be better that TLJ because it will be solely his. Plus, I look at Rogue One and Solo and a clear takeaway for me is that the movies are better the less JJ Abrams has to do with them.

Tuttle’s the Comic Strip

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There’s a new website for “Tuttle’s”, the award-submitted comic strip drawn by Samuel B. White!

The web site that used to host my comic strip “Tuttle’s” is gone but (maybe) not forgotten. Enjoy new ‘toons 4 days a week!

[Click on the 'toon then, depending your device, you may have to click it again to actually read the strip.]

Is Amazon the Problem Or Is It Just There?

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The American mall, that symbol of the 1980s, is going away. People who once took haunting photographs of failing Detroit, have now moved on to taking haunting photographs of semi-abandoned shopping malls. (Here’s hoping they next move on to taking pictures of the offices of congresspersons who have been voted out of office.)

People, some of whom are actually writers—a subset within that who are even good writers—have written articles to lament the disappearance of these malls. Somewhere in the article, and in most other articles about the state of the American retail front, there will be a statement or two blaming the problem on the behemoth known as Amazon.

 Can I offer another side to this argument?

 It’s not Amazon’s fault.

 No, I’m not saying Amazon is perfect. Neither am I saying that I’m happy these other companies are going out of business (and putting my friends and neighbors out of work). I’m just saying that if it hadn’t been Amazon, it would have been someone else. (For grins, look up an international company called AliBaba and then tell me Amazon’s the problem.)

Go back 80 to 100 years and look at the American neighborhood. Every neighborhood had one (or sometimes more than one) grocery store. It was about the size of our modern convenience store, but it had groceries and sometimes a few sundries. But then came super-markets, which drove the little stores out of business (and I’m sure there were articles in the paper then saying this was the apocalypse for American retail). Service stations got replaced by convenience stores, photo developers got replaced by digital cameras and personal printers, and newspapers are getting replaced by the web. And one of these days, something will probably replace Wal-Mart and Amazon—whether something bigger and less personal or smaller and more friendly, I have no idea (but it will be interesting to see).

 For anyone sitting here thinking, “Amazon’s too big to go away”, that was probably said about the above-mentioned industries. The thing is: things change. Right now, Amazon (Bezos) has been the beneficiary of spotting the change and jumping on it at the right time. He might continue doing that for the rest of his life, but the odds are that one of these days Amazon/Bezos will miss some indicator someone else saw and another company or industry will jump to the fore. Amazon will lay people off or Wal-Mart will close stores or Love’s will shutter some convenience stores. Yes, it will be hard on some people, and I’m not trying to discount that, but it’s not necessarily anything sinister.

 It’s Not Amazon’s fault.

 It’s just the way the world is.

Doomsday Houses and Gullible Buyers

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Not all that far from Dallas, someone has erected a very large, very ornate fountain. Right now, it looks like it’s in the middle of nowhere. It’s not exactly nowhere, but it is Fannin county, which isn’t a well-known county* to people who don’t currently live there.

The fountain, according to this article (here
) is the first step in a planned development for people who want to spend a whole lot of money to ride out an apocalypse.  And I mean a lot of money. The builders of the complex expect to spend $330 million on this place, then sell individual lots/bunkers to rich people who think they’ll be able to use it when disaster hits. As the article states, there are other places like this going up all over, including one in Kansas you may have seen on the news recently where they have taken over an old missile silo and are breaking it up into high-end bunkers, complete with butlers and chefs.

Now, I’m all for capitalism, but I think PT Barnum had these particular capitalists in mind when he said, “The circus doesn’t open until tonight, kid.” Wait, the Barnum quote I meant to insert here was, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

I’m not addressing this from a religious or metaphysical standpoint (though I may later on in this paper if what first drove me to write this blog doesn’t generate enough words), but merely from a practical standpoint. The above-referenced bunker-condos are located near the town of Ector, TX, which if Google maps is any indication, lays across the countryside about 71.8 miles from Dallas, less from such northeastern suburbs as Plano or Garland, but still at least half an hour away.

So let’s say you’re a Dallas millionaire, living in one of those tony areas like Highland Park or a motel on Harry Hines, and the early warning sirens go off. Let me be frank: you are not going to get to your bunker in or near Ector before the bomb lands even if you have a helicopter. For one thing, all the other rich people are going to have their helicopters in the air and you’re probably going to collide somewhere over Richardson and then fry in the radiation while plummeting to the ground.

That silo in Kansas? It’s not near anything, let alone a big city. If the word comes down that a bomb is also coming down, you’re cooked before the chef can fix you anything. If you have to drive to one of these places … well, let’s just say the only way they’re going to protect you is if you’re already there when whatever the disaster is happens.

Some of my thinking is because I was in high school in the 1980s. Back then, we were sure the Russians were going to nuke us at any moment. Being in Abilene, Texas, as we were, with Dyess Air Force Base just outside town, we all assumed that—in the event of nuclear war—we were all going to be baked to a crisp in the first volley. In fact, we were told in school as if it were fact (and why not?) that if the early warning sirens ever went off, we had 26 minutes before the nuclear blast gave us all instant and irreversible suntans.

Pardon me for being skeptical that this will work out. Not only are such events notoriously hard to predict, when/if one does come, I still think it will be so sudden that most preparation will have been for naught. The only people those bunkers will save will be the people who happened to be there the day the disaster hits because they go out there a couple times a year anyway just to see the hole they threw their money down. (These people will then, of course, brag to the 3 other survivors about how they knew something was coming and how it was their wits that allowed them to survive when the hoi peloi have all passed deservedly away.)

Speaking of which (I’m expanding on the parenthetical statement from the last paragraph), many of these facilities also offer DNA storage  in case (I’m not kidding) someone in the future has the technology to clone you. Really, it’s probably just so they’ll have a DNA sample with which to identify your charred remains from amongst the helicopter wreckage.

The literature and sales pitches are designed to make one think that, with the purchase of one of these plots (I use that word intentionally), the purchaser has secured some sort of long-term security for themselves and/or their families. The reality is that the only people securing anything like near-long-term security are the people selling these places. They’ll make their money and retire to some place where they can live comfortably, comfortable in the comfortable idea that they will remain comfortable until either they die a natural death or the apocalypse comes and everyone else dies with them.

Honestly, I think the real purpose of owning a space in one of these places is for the same reason you’d buy that house in California with a life-size statue of the Airwolf helicopter on the roof: so you can tell your friends. It’s not going to save your life, it’s not going to prolong your life, but you can tell your friends—especially those who don’t have a doomsday bunker—that you have a hidey-hole you will no way in hole ever get to use for its intended purpose.

Finally, do I have a moral or spiritual objection to this whole concept? After all, wasn’t Noah the ultimate doomsday prepper? Yes, but with one crucial difference from all the other ones: God told him to do it! Now, I know there are probably people in these modern locations who claim God is telling them to do this, but until the animals start showing up at their door by twos (or 7s, in the case of hooved, edible animals [go read Genesis]), I’m going to think they’re just kooks.

My spiritual objection to this concept is one that I think we all battle, though we don’t have the money to do it on the scale of these doomers: the idea that with the right materials we can save ourselves. We can’t. Even if you ride out the volcano, you’ll still die. Just as dead as the homeless person who died in an old refrigerator box under a freeway on a cold night. To buy a spot in any of these places, you better have a good credit rating; but all that really matters is whether Jesus is your Lord and Savior. All the rest is just cardboard.

* Why is anything in Texas named after Fannin?!? His incompetence cost the lives of several hundred Texans and lost the town of Goliad.