Transcending Genre

I'm not a huge Neil Gaiman fan. I do not dislike him, but in the scale of fandom that belongs to him, most everyone I know falls into the "I would give him a kidney if he asked for it" category, and I'm not there. Not all his stories resonate with me. And while my wife owns all his books, and I am thus at my liberty to try them all, I tend not to finish most I start.

The exception to this is Neverwhere. I love me some Neverwhere. I love it so much because if I was going to write that story, I would write it pretty much just the same. (That's big praise from me because I write the stories I want to read, thus he's doing all the work for me and I can sit back and relax as a reader unconcerned with being the writer.) I used a rarely used word today to fit into Twitter's 140-character limit, elseways. It reminded me of Neverwas (a good movie, check it out) which sent me on to Neverwhere.

I would love to write a book named Elseways, but I think if I did, it would end up being a lot like Neverwhere. That got me thinking on what kind of story I would write for Elseways. I bounce around within fantasy a lot: traditional, pre-steampunk, post-apocalyptic pulp, sword and sorcery, epic, contemporary. The one I never write on is urban. Urban is not my cup of tea. And too often, people use urban when they really mean contemporary. Urban fantasy deals with worlds within worlds, most often fairies, vampires, and/or werewolves, but regardless, it includes a Venn diagram of a world laying on top of our own that of which the average citizen is unaware.

Neverwhere is Urban Fantasy. But because Urban Fantasy is not my cup of tea, I balked at it and thought to myself, really, isn't it more contemporary? That was an unfounded claim because clearly there is a Venn diagram of worlds going on, which is the requirement I just put forth. So what's the problem? Well, so much urban fantasy is about fairies, vampires, and/or werewolves that something like Neverwhere just seems like a high-quality contemporary fantasy. And I'm really loving contemporary fantasy right now. Thus, I want this book I like to fall into a genre I like. Logic be damned!

I think if I were to ever write an urban fantasy, it would be Elseways. That's a title that could get me over that hump. The real goal wouldn't be to write in a subgenre that isn't tea, but to write a book that isn't Neverwhere. I already associate them and I just came up with the damn title. That's not a very good sign.

That and I don't actually have a story. But I have a title now, so dibs. I call dibs. Go find your own title.

(And happy new year.)

Bringing KITT Back

First let me apologize for my absence. I've been fiddling with more personal, non-writing specific posts. That was fine and all, but there was one topic I've been trying to tackle for awhile that is difficult because it involves another company owned by the company that owns mine. In other words, there's a lot I'm not allowed to say, even if it was in support of the company. At least, a lot I'm not allowed to say without getting permission, and I don't want to go through that hassle. Job is over there. Joe the writer is over here. And I want to keep those two separate. I've been burned too many times in the past for not doing so.

And then there was the biggun. I was one of the three million people that lost power. Now I've lost power before, but I've always been fortunate in that it comes on a few hours later. I think the longest I've ever gone without power (as a result of a calamity and not the electric company turning it off or not having a home to power) was five hours. Not this time! Three and a half days. And that's still not as bad as some! But you learn a lot about how your house is heated when there is none. We eventually had to flee to a motel as the heat fell below 40 degrees in our house. We were lucky that we got a room in town, one of two that required we wait in the motel lobby for an hour waiting for reservations to be cancelled.

So then power came back and I had a lot of work to catch up on. Still, I had an idea today I'd like to share. While it's still not the post I've been brainstorming on for awhile, I think a lot of you might find it recognizable.

Those of you 30 or older, at least. The youngins might only remember the reboot from a couple years ago. And if you remember it, I apologize. It was quite awful. I would rate it worse than the reboot of Bionic Woman, which was sadly awful as well. What am I talking about? Knight Rider.

It's the show that made David Hasselhoff famous before Baywatch. It aired at a time when Saturday morning still showed cartoons (not Power Rangers or VR Troopers or any of that offal, I'm talking about real cartoons). Saturday afternoons were the pantheon of young boy television. A-Team, Incredible Hulk, Airwolf, Knight Rider, Battlestar Galactica (original). Dear lord, I weep just thinking about its greatness (I also weep when I watch the pilot of Airwolf and discover just how bad that show was).

I'm also old enough that I got the tail end of the greats from the previous decade. That means the Six Million Dollar Man and the original Bionic Woman. Plus all their made-for-TV movies! SO. GOOD!

I was excited to see the reboot of Bionic Woman and sad to see they missed the mark so badly. I gave Knight Rider a chance. I had given Knight Rider 2000 a chance, so why not this? I had less confidence that they could do it right because it's such a niche story that the original series covered a lot of bases. And as expected, it was a crapper. Even with Val Kilmer as KITT. Like so much TV, they tried to be what the other show wasn't, even though the other show worked for its time. Now you had a car that could do everything, a hot shot idiot driver, and an ex-flame with an axe to grind as the scientists daughter.

These things are expected. There are so many political decisions that go into TV casting now, that you can't have an all-guy cast except for the chicks in bikinis like you could in the '80s. That's a good thing. But it's approached with specific biases (e.g. your lead still needs to be a white male) that it makes casting pretty predictable.

Today, for some reason I cannot imagine, pieces for the show fell into place. The reboot had a few right ideas in that it needed a younger cast. Not the middle-aged guy talking to the old guy except when he was talking to his car. It needs some women who are competent. And it needs a talking car. It doesn't need an "on the run from the law" when in the first episode you introduce a car that can do everything. There is no cop in the country that's going to catch your car, so why are we watching?

So here's what we do. Make the lead Idris Elba or Taye Diggs. Let's break that "all leads must be white" mold right now. We know it's not true and these two are recognizable enough that it won't be a big stretch for the less liberal of America to sign onto the concept.

Knight Industries returns as a military research and design company, run by an old white guy. We'll name him Michael Knight. It never made sense that Knight Industries was run by Devon Miles and Michael Knight was just an employee. Let's fix that with a little throw-back to the old series. It's a pity Edward Mulhare couldn't fill that role because that would have been awesome. RIP, sir. This new character is the CEO and head of research, the guy that started it all. And while the company has grown well beyond that scope (we'll see later), Dr. Knight is all about military research that saves lives.

Specifically, he's working on an adaptive AI program to be installed in military Humveess to reduce the amount of casualties by IEDs and other impediments. They are in the final testing phase before the computer system goes operational. His team?

Captain Taye Diggs Idris Elba, United States Army, detached to Knight Industries to serve as military liaison, field expert, and the best damn driver in the military.

White chick engineer. Former military. She doesn't mind getting greasy and she's great with machines. Mix Zoe with Kaylee from Firefly and you're looking good here.

Indian nerd. Let's get rid of the typical gangly guy with the thick nerds or the FOB import. Have an Indian guy great in electronics without the accent that doesn't look like he was beat up all his life. He just likes to get his nerd on. (The first time you see KITT's red light going back and forth, I'd love to see the computer say "By your command." It makes me squee with glee.)

Chinese AI expert. He's your mole. Oh, that's right. We're throwing some Scarecrow and Mrs. King in to this thing. We're well ahead of China on adaptive AI, and they send in a ringer to take what we have and eliminate the team. Make it look like an accident. The Humvee explodes, but Taye Elba saves the primaries of the team (except for Michael Knight and the red shirt engineers who don't get names).

This is all part of a grander espionage that the team must foil because there's not time for anyone else to do so! But in so doing, they alert the Chinese spy they're still alive and still have the technology. They install the AI into Captain Taye Elba's own sports car and use it to save the day. Most of its systems are off-line because it was built to be in a custom-made Humvee. It can't go invisible or any of that stupid shit.

Now Michael Knight's daughter shows up. She runs Knight Industries clandestine unit, farming out equipment and computer resources to the CIA and such. The entire team has been declared dead and there's an espionage war that America can't openly fight. Do they want to wave the red, white, and blue while using awesome gadgets and kicking some ass? Why yes they do.

Oh but wait, their families have been told they're dead. Captain Taye Elba was privy to some super heavy top secret shit. If ever he disappeared or was killed, his family would be relocated with new identities. He has a wife! He has a son and a daughter! And now they're gone. He never got to tell them he was okay. He must find them. But Young Knight chick won't let him. It's for their own safety. And KITT is still an infant AI and follows its own protocols, doing what it must to keep Taye Elba away from his family. Oh the angst! Who can he trust? Who are his friends? And what other dangers are there out there aside from the Chinese! A resurgent Russia, a corrupt military industrial complex, and a boss who never seems on the level.


Okay, Hollywood. Get on that. That's a show I would watch as long as you don't make it suck.

(How not to make it suck. Have them working to get KITT operational through the climax, but they can't get it working in time and the humans carry the load on their own. At the end of the pilot, THEN have KITT finally go online. Having a car that can do anything basically means you're filming 41 minutes of car chases which is Nascar without the beer.)

Music to My Eyes

So one of the exhibits at Old Sturbridge Village is a building full of firearms and textiles. It is interesting to see the evolution of muskets and eventually rifles over the course of two centuries, but what I really found interesting was a few items in the textiles section of the building. There used to be a frugal wife's guide published by a woman that taught women how to do things on the cheap, like dying fabric. Seems bread was wrapped in purple paper and you could leech the color out of it and use it to dye paper. That sort of thing.

One of the last things you see on your way out are a selection of patterns and some yellowed paper. Now, the first time I went there it was the end of the day and we were in a bit of a rush. I thought it was music. Going through it again, I saw that it wasn't music, it was notation on how to make the pattern. Some looked like music. Some looked like an accountant's ledger. None of them looked like instructions on how to make fabric patterns, but people understood them! The gears started turning.

What if a people's sewing patterns were a means of communicating, but not just a single intent like "we are at war" but an entire song and that song had meaning. You could tell the tales of your great deeds or the deeds of your ancestors, singing a song that all your people would understand.

I really thrilled to that idea. It really gets my brain to swimming in a new and exciting culture.

Good Ken is Good

My friend Good Ken1 Braun is in town. We are leaving for Canada today for he has never been out of the United States and I will pop his international cherry. We go to Montreal for a couple days and then Quebec City. This is the first vacation I've had in years. While money is still tight, it'll be nice to get away. ...or would be if I hadn't gotten sick. Stupid germs.

Now, you may ask, why do I care that Good Ken has come to visit, Joe? I don't know this guy. I don't even know if he's good2. You care, gentle reader, because when Good Ken comes to town, our conversations inevitably lead me to new novel ideas. It was a conversation with him that prompted the original idea for WANTED: CHOSEN ONE, NOW HIRING (that has since become WITH A CROOKED CROWN following agent feedback).

And he has not disappointed! I took him to Old Sturbridge Village and we looked about the cemetery because old cemeteries are awesome. He says what a growing number of people think, cemeteries offer peace for families, a glimpse to the past, but are otherwise a colossal waste of space. He'd rather be cremated3. Then take his ashes and turn them into a synthetic diamond.

If my brain had sound effects, it would be the dive alert horn from a submarine. AWOOGAH! AWOOGAH! Story idea! Story idea! AWOOGAH!

So here's the situation. It's the future and wealthy people are turned into diamonds when they die. Their names are laser-etched into the gem. The family weaves those gems into a necklace. The most prestigious families have massive necklaces that show they are the best of the aristocracy.

And one of them is stolen! Duh duh DUHHHHHHH!

1 When we first met, there was another person who I was friends with also named Ken. Things were not well between us. To keep others straight about whom I was referring, I named them Good Ken and Bad Ken.

2 He's so good. O.O

3 I can't find a burial ritual I approve of. You're not allowed to be buried in wooden coffins any more so how are the worms and the beetles supposed to eat me? And cremation is nice but all that fire energy is wasted. Hook up the crematorium to the grid and generate some power with my passing. One last good act for mankind!

Secret Passages

There are few things I like better in adventure storytelling than secret passages. In fact, the two middle grade novels I have in mind (one written, one started a few times but never finished) both are heavily reliant on secret passages. I think that's a dream of a lot of kids, to live in a house that has secret passages.

Did you ever see the movie Candlestick with Jodie Foster when she was a spunky kid? I can't tell you how many times I watched that movie as a kid. I want to watch it now and see if it holds up the test of time.

Walking around Old Sturbridge Village with my wife, she saw a hill in a field, most likely just piled dirt that eventually had grass grow over it. She sees it and says, "That needs a hobbit hole." Well, on one side of it is a dead and dry tree stump. And I say that there is a hobbit hole. It's beneath the tree stump and the whole thing opens up.

This causes the magnesium flash in my brain where ideas start flying up like fireworks. I LOVE secret passages. What if hobbits lived in a less friendly place than the shire? If they had hidden the doors to their hobbit holes, would Saruman been able to scour the shire as he did? They could have hidden and who would have worked the fields for him?

So this is what I want. I want underground houses like hobbit holes, but I want natural landmarks like tree stumps that no one would think twice of when they saw them, but open up to reveal the actual entrance to their home. When they're closed, it just looks like hills.

I need to figure out how to make this happen.

A New Adventure!

Groupon Queen discovered that we lived near the nation's third largest living history museum, Old Sturbridge Village. This is a village as you would have found it in 1835 New England, and many of the buildings are actually from that period transplanted from one of the various states. Actors/educators are in period dress and conduct themselves in particular professions, so there's a printer, a tinsmith, a potter, etc. This was REALLY cool and I learned a ton! (My understanding of how a grist mill works was informed by Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow and 19th-century mills did not use a rotating millstone of that fashion, if that fashion ever existed. Also, I learned how a sawmill works and a schoolhouse and...and...who the hell can fit 12 people in a house that small?!)

There was also Fife and Drum corps there today playing a variety of music. And some of the early 18th-century muskets are as tall as I am. How the hell could anyone aim with something that large? You'd need a stand to rest the barrel on! (They also had a seven-barrel musket that you might recognize if you've watched the Richard Sharpe miniseries. I don't know if it appears in the novels.)

Inevitably in these places, I end up taking pictures of the placards instead of the actual structures because I want to be able to go back and reference their information later. (I did this for a map at a Greek Fest for the Middle East c. 2nd millenium BC and it was pretty awesome.)

The one I was most enthused about today was the information on the mill. Aside from showing the proper way to turn the millstone (they laid on top of one another like two donuts whereas I had thought one vertical rolling around the other), they also explained how millers kept their business. People brought their grains that needed milling and would pay the "Miller's Toll," 1/16th of the milled grain that the miller could then sell to those people who did not raise their own crops.

I love the phrase "Miller's Toll" and am devoting considerable effort to finding a story that will fit with it. I'll let you know if I come up with anything.

Food in the Future!

I'm from the Midwest. A historian might argue I'm from the South. Either way, I'm from the land of cows and pigs and chicken. Fish came in two varieties, cat or sticks. I cannot stand catfish. It is the most bland, boring, flimsy fish known to man and it looks pretty disgusting beforehand (my fish should not have whiskers). After a Tyson fish stick debacle when I was seven that had me trying not to vomit on the stairs and my mother screaming at me for "faking it," I'm not a fan of those either.

So I moved to New England where the fishes1 are. You cannot go to a restaurant without seeing calamari and crab cakes as appetizers. Fish and chips and baked/fried haddock will almost certainly be in the entrées. Lobster of some kind, either by the pound or in a roll (and they put it in pasta too, blarg). Scrod2, mussels, salmon, scallops, swordfish, and so on and so forth.

I come from the land of cows and sausages, but here everything is from the Atlantic Ocean. It has taken some adjusting and a little bit of courage on my part. I overcame the scars of my childhood and tried fish again. The lesson? It depends on the restaurant and how they prepare their fish. (And the sauce they put with it. I'm not a fan of dill and they can really go overboard with the dill.) My preference is blackened swordfish.

Well today my wife made tilapia tacos. Onion, sour cream, lime juice, a spicy concoction of spices, sliced avocados, and grilled tilapia on a wheat tortilla. This is the first time I've tried tilapia, and I discovered something. Tilapia doesn't taste like anything. It has such a mild flavor that really, it's just there for texture. You taste the spices and the condiments, but you don't the fish. As someone who doesn't much care for fish, one might think this to be a great find. But in truth, I discovered that if I must suffer through fish, I want to suffer. How can I wear eating fish like a badge of courage if the fish doesn't taste like fish?

"This is like tofu!" I complained because I hate tofu, but tofu eaters always tell me how it can taste like anything. (It can taste like anything because it tastes like nothing. Someone just made a much cube and convinced people it was good.) "It's firmer and has a different texture than tofu," was my wife's answer. That was all.

And that's when it struck me. In science fiction stories when man is populating deep space and traveling lightyears in ships like Serenity, they eat protein. We'll ignore star trek that has molecule resequencers/computer replicators. Matrix, Firefly, and so on and so forth all eat protein bars that are infused with minerals, vitamins, and everything else.

This is all well and good, except they CALL them protein cubes/squares/bars. And with that, I call shenanigans. No one would eat protein cubes. They eat brand names. If Kellogs or Kraft hasn't smacked a name on the box that carries those protein cubes, then those people didn't come from Earth.

And so, I introduce to you gentle reader, the future. Tilapia® brand protein cubes! Have Tilapia® for dinner tonight and get all the necessary vitamins and minerals for your space voyage.3

1 Grammatical curiosity: The plural of fish is fish when all the fish are the same. When you have different species of fish, the plural is fishes.

2 Scrod is almost always cod, but I can't order something that sounds like it's a euphemism for shit.

3 Obviously that's not really a registered trademark, but I'm definitely going to use it in a story some day.


I will admit that I'm not a fan of collaboration. But I realized today that it's not a matter of not being a fan of collaboration, it's just that collaboration has never been presented to me in a fashion that I particularly cared for. But then I got linked to a video of Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing Nirvana's Lithium at a show in Seattle. And from there I got linked to hitRECord. Holy balls! This is genius!

Now I will say that I have not yet registered for this site (but I will) or participated (but I will). I will also admit to having a huge man-crush on JGL. He's one of my favorite actors. I will go see a movie if he's in it because I trust the quality of his work (he owes me big for GI Joe). But take a look at this video and tell me that doesn't make your creativity bone tingle. It tingles right down in the coccyx.

Prince of Cats

Hello! Yes, I'm still alive, just super busy. Lots of work combined with home stress has been sucking up my hours. I'm still writing, because writing comes before blogging, but even that is slow going. I'm at the 1/3 mark and really I should be at the finished and ready to query mark. I need to get my ass in gear on that one.

While I didn't have time to post, I had the good sense to write a quick blurb and save it as a draft as I had a new idea for a story and didn't want to forget it like I did with the last one. After working it out in my brain, it reminds me a little as Bran's story in A GAME OF THRONES, in that there is a young boy where he is unexpected that overhears something he shouldn't. The similarities stop there.

Main character (whose name I have not picked yet so we'll just call him GROOM) works in a castle's stable as the youngest groom. As he is so small, the stable master sets him to tending the cats. The castle is reputed for its large cat population, a necessity based on an edict from the king to protect against the plague. The stables attract rats as do the dark corners of the castle itself, so they have a lot of mousers to catch the vermin for them. BOY tends to the kittens and does his best to keep the cats from getting into trouble as they have a tendency to get under foot (just like him!). Because of this and his own small size, he crawls about in the castle's nooks and crannies, finding a number of passages too small for regular use but large enough that he can go most anywhere in the castle without the use of a hallway.

This allows him to visit the princess, as she is a fan of kittens and has few people her own age to play with. At least, no one who will actually play because hurting her would be ruinous to their families, so everyone is too gentle with her. Except for BOY who has no genuine understanding of the social differences between a groom and a princess. When he gets caught and told he would have to be a prince to visit her, she names him the PRINCE OF CATS so that he would continue to bring her kittens to play with.

One day, after a new litter is weaned, he comes to the princess' bedroom to find two men there, arguing. He sees one, a king's advisor, but cannot make out the other. The princess was supposed to be there. It turns out they have some scheme to kidnap her. Now he knows of the plot and must warn someone. But who can he trust? In trying to riddle out who was the villain and who will be the hero, he uncovers other plots and other villains and everything becomes twisted and dangerous.

I envision the story as a middle grade offering, much along the lines of HOUSE ON SANDWICH NOTCH ROAD. That is a very difficult genre for me to write, so I don't know what will come of it. We'll see. :)


The boy's name will be either Kaveh or Mirza. The kingdom will be in a Mid-East breadbasket like place, people and architecture with a Persian influence. The kingdom's name will be Kshathra, though it will be ruled by a shah not a king (I think). I'm also considering a caliph, but that is a different form of government. I also considered a raja instead of a shah, but that adds a lot more Indian influence than I want to at the moment.

The princess' name will probably be Shahnaz but I'm drawn to Parisa, a young Persian girl I knew online 12 years ago. Her attitude reminds me a lot of how I want this character to be. I'll probably go with the latter. I can already feel it.

Witness Protection is Always Funny

Necessary backstory: Every Monday in Nashua is a board-game Meet Up. This is how I met most of my friends when I moved to New England. I showed up thinking it would be three nerds playing Ticket to Ride and it turned out to be twenty awesome people (many of them nerds--like me) playing Ticket to Ride and a slew of other games.1

Among this group of players is Hal. Four and a half years later, I can say that I know Hal's name and what he does for a living. This was not true for the first two years. Though he showed up every week and we frequently sat at the same table together, the only thing I knew about him was that his name was Hal. It took me over a year to find out he came from Pepperell, MA, but we still didn't know his last name or what he did for a living.

This closely guarded information with a group of people one associates with every week can mean only one thing. Hal is in witness protection!2 This became a long-standing joke that Hal had some kind of secret information about the mob that took him from some life elsewhere and deposited him in northern New England where he played board games and didn't tell anyone anything about himself. Because if he did...HE MIGHT DIE!!!

This leads to last night's discussion. My wife and my friend Britt were discussing another person who we had known for awhile but knew almost nothing about despite efforts to the contrary. What does this mean? She's in witness protection as well!

Odd, don't you think, that two people in witness protection would be so close to one another. You'd think they'd want to space those people out so the mob doesn't stumble on all the people it wants to kill at the same time. They must be close by for a reason. What reason would witnesses have to hang out together. It's summer. It must be time for the witness protection softball league!

Just imagine, you go to the local baseball diamond for your own night of sports and fun and you play a team that spends as much time looking at the stands as they do their opposition. What's stranger is that all their jerseys have the name Smith on the back.


1 When we say board games, we're not talking about Monopoly or something. You may have heard of Settlers of Catan or Ticket to Ride and those are old stalwarts. New board games are published so frequently that it is easy to say that someone can show up with a new game every week. A few members (also including me) have designed games of their own. Thurn and Taxis, Gonzaga, Dominion, Seven Wonders, Letters to Whitechapel, Tomb, Bohnanza, Wits and Wagers and on and on.

2 Appropriately known as witness security, but since he's not actually in witsec--that I know of!--we'll go with the classic witness protection

It's a Code!

Every once in awhile I'm in the mood to write a conspiracy thriller story. So I'm updating a website to a new edition. The editor gives me chapter summaries in a Word doc, which implies they're all new. But they're not. Most of them are identical to the previous edition. BUT not all of them are, so rather than sending me a correlation document that says what I should keep and what I should change, I have to go through them all line by line.

Now the simple short cut to this is to look at the beginning and end of the bullet point. If they match, the rest does too (I tested this theory just to make sure I was correct--which I was). Scan for page numbers that might have changed and you're good to go.

In a couple of chapters, a weird thing happened. The first word and last word of each bullet point, when all points were read in succession, ALMOST formed sentences. Grand conspiracies of world manipulation and domination began to surface. I was part of some grand plot!!!

Oh, no wait, now it stopped making sense. I was ALMOST part of some GRAND PLOT!

But that would be kind of interesting, eh? Not someone who is really good at ciphers or puzzles but is just doing something mundane and stumbles on something that was in plain sight.

Who does he tell? How does he tell? Now he's on the run by what might as well be called the Illuminati! Oh no!!!!

Toof Fairy

Someone tell me if this has already been made into a horror movie. It sounds familiar. A friend suggested a story idea while we were goofing around, but it's one that's really stuck with me. The tooth fairy takes kids teeth because there's a bit of youth stuck to the tooth that the fairy can extract, ensuring it lives forever.

Is that a movie? It seems so simple that I figure someone else has to have thought of it. If not..DIBS! ;)

A Double! (The War Makers)

Man, I'm not having the best luck with names today. Discussing whether it's okay to be happy about the death of Osama Bin Laden (short answer: yes, yes it is), I had an idea for another story. Not sure if it would be novel length. Maybe short story or novella. I think there's more than than a short story.

Anyway, so general concept, five war mongers, bankers or what have you, vying control of a central McGuffin. It's a great international chess game with armies rather than pawns. Two main characters, the generals of the armies that will battle until only two are left. In the end, they meet before their armies clash and agree that rather than they and their men dying, they should simply kill the war makers, each giving free passage to the other (as they could not trust each other to kill their own).

Not sure if it won't be too hokey, but I like the idea of it. It speaks to me about our efforts to pursue and destroy those people that make war against us.