Play the Game Existence

Very Quick Update

I’m still in the hospital. CAT scans show improvement: the spot(s) on the lung(s) are gradually but steadily getting smaller, which means the presence of a tumor is highly unlikely. I’m probably dealing with a very nasty, very persistent viral or fungal infection.

Jim McLauchlin of the HERO INITIATIVE was in LV today and stopped by to watch me vegetate. And walk — first time I’ve done that in a while.

In fact, today was the first time in weeks that I’ve actually felt a little stronger, a little more well.

Have to keep this short. Urgent Doctor Fate stuff to be done. Will post another update next time I can get to a net connection.

Back in Hospital

As the latest tactic in my continuing effort not to have lunch with Mark Evanier, I was spirited back to MountainView Hospital in Las Vegas late Saturday night by ambulance, after finding myself unable to breathe very well or even stand up for very long without experiencing dizziness and confusion.

Since being back, I’ve had a CT that doesn’t look very good at all, and some disquieting news I’ll share with you later, after I’ve had a little more chance to absorb it myself.

The happy news, if such it can be termed, is that I have an Internet connection in my new room, so I can stay in touch on a more regular basis and email DC and Marvel much more easily. That should make easier whatever level of recovery is possible.

They expect me to be here for another ten days or so. Someone tell Harris Miller that the laptop is saving my life and my sanity again.


I’m still alive, but I’ve been moved to a room in the hospital where the wireless signal is too weak to access the Internet. The room does have a window and a real “Mountain View”, however, and the nurses are taking good care of me. They actually wheeled me back to my old haunts long enough to send out some email and write this post.

Looks like I’ll be in here at least until Tuesday, and I may be severely limited in what I’m able to do when I get out. The phrase “wheelchair-bound” escaped one doctor’s lips. I have the feeling I may have crossed a line in the progress of this disease. Any disability attorneys in the audience?

There’s other less-than-pleasant news, too, to relate, but I’ll save that for next time.

I’ll check in here again when I can. Stay tuned.

Al Veoli’s Journal

Dr. Tu, my pulmonologist, stopped by this morning to look me over and listen to my lungs. They sound better, he says, and the chest x-rays are showing some improvement. They also dialed me back from 60% to 50% pure oxygen through the mask this morning, with no ill effects so far. That, too, is a sign of improvement. Because of the steroids, they’re checking my blood sugar several times a day. They’re watching my kidneys, too, just in case; so far, no danger on that front.

Late last night, I actually emailed some pages of final dialogue to Joey Cavalieri on *Doctor Fate*. I plan to do more today.

Spoke to Mark Beazley at Marvel this morning. I’m going to try to write the Omnibus introduction, too, over the next couple of days. Weirdly, I think I can do it. And, given the circumstances, it may equal the bizarreness of the rest of the book’s content. Which is only appropriate.

Quick note before I sign off: This Salon article by Joe Conason is worth a quick read. It has to do with the press’ treatment of Hillary Clinton leading up to the New Hampshire primary. The related article cited at the end of Conason piece, “The Witch Ain’t Dead and Chris Matthews is a Ding-Dong”, comes even closer to expressing my own feelings about the media’s conduct. (For the record, I’m not a Hillary supporter, an Obama supporter, or an Edwards supporter yet. I like all three; I have reservations about all three. Gore would have been my candidate.)

Sympathy Ploy

Greetings from Mountain View Hospital, Observation Unit, Room 2, in Las Vegas.

Mary drove me to the emergency room yesterday, and I was admitted pretty much immediately. My oxygen saturation percentage was in the 70s. (Ninety and above is considered normal.) It had reached the point that walking across a room was leaving me winded.

It’s pneumonia.

So now I’m on IV antibiotics, IV steroids, 10 liters of oxygen per minute, a hurricane-force bi-PAP machine at night — and a beautiful laptop afflicted with Windows Vista. There’s pain, and then there’s pain.

They expect I’ll be in here through the weekend. I’m in an accepting mood. If it takes that long to get me functional again, fine. In the meantime, maybe I can actually get caught up on Doctor Fate and that Omnibus introduction. (I know, I know — my health comes first, but my spirits improved mightily when I got my hands on this machine this afternoon.)

I’ll keep you informed as my recuperation progresses.


…for not posting more regularly.

I’ve been sick again, damn it, and very little work is getting done.

This may mean that COUNTDOWN TO MYSTERY #6 will be late, and that, for scheduling reasons, I won’t be able to write the introduction to Marvel’s Howard the Duck Omnibus edition.

I have seldom been so thoroughly pissed off.

And saying so just depleted the last of my energy.


With Friends Like These…

Looking back at ’07, I find the emotion that predominates for me is gratitude. In the main, people were awfully nice to me in 2007, helping me cope with everything from deadline difficulties problems to panic attacks — yes, real ones, brought on by extreme shortness of breath — to, on occasion, maintaining a simple sense of self-worth in the face of encroaching disability.

The list is long, and it’s almost inevitable I’ll forget somebody, but even so, I need to thank all of the following:

Buzz and Soon-ok Dixon; Art and Judy Ginsberg; Gordon and Donna Kent; Jim McLauchlin and the members of the board of The HERO Initiative; Bill Willingham, for postulating the Tenth Age of Magic and giving me a ’98 Ford Windstar he happened to have lying around; Erik Larsen, Nat Gertler, the folks at Image Comics, and the folks at Marvel Comics (!), all for reasons you’ll hear about shortly; Dan Didio, Paul Levitz, and Joey Cavalieri of DC Comics, for keeping me working during the year; Justiniano and Walden Wong, for making my scripts look wonderful in Doctor Fate; Mike and Carol Gerber, my brother and sister-in-law, for their genuine concern, despite the fact that a decade or more had gone by since I’d seen them; my daughter Samantha M. Voll, my new son-in-law Jeff, and Samantha’s mother, Margo M. Macleod, for acting as if I mattered, which was asking a lot; Bret Walker, for watching me cry in my Starbucks when necessary; Carol Lay for pep talks, shop talk, and “Waylay”, one of the most original comic strips on the net; Jennifer Meyer, for her friendship.

Then, there’s Mary Skrenes, who has saved my sanity and my bacon so many times that she should just give me a Jimmy Olsen signal watch to summon her for emergencies.

And Harris Miller, my friend and attorney, who worries about me, I think, but never seems to lose faith.

And Mark Evanier, whose friendship and support over the years, from the darkest days of the Duck lawsuit to the present, has been incalculable.

And my favorite Internet Slut (yes, a real person; she finds that sobriquet funny) for reasons that shall remain unspecified.

I’d also like to thank all of you who read this blog regularly and, even more so, those of you who’ve bought COUNTDOWN TO MYSTERY. (Now if I could just get you to talk it up on the other boards a little more…!)

Thank you again.

And Happy New Year to one and all.


Doing some hard disk housekeeping, I ran across two WAV files I thought I’d lost years and years ago — my impressions of Destroyer Duck’s “QWAAAGGGH!” and Howard the Duck’s “WAAUUUGH!” exclamations.

There’s a good reason to post both of them here, and I’ll be doing that shortly.

Meanwhile, in case it escaped your notice — as it did mine, until Gail Simone pointed it out in an email — Rich Johnston’s Lying in the Gutters column of 12/24/07 carried an interesting little item under the heading of “Christmas Charity”. Take a look. I’ll have more to say about it in the near future.

By the way, I’m not the only person mentioned in that piece. Give some thought to helping the other guy, too.

Sick Again…

It never fails. I’ve got urgent writing to do this weekend, and the diet was starting to work again — so naturally, I come down with something flu-like that floors me utterly and puts me back on 60 mg of prednisone for the next five days.

This is the Cosmic Thwart at work. It’s a force in the universe that targets whatever is most critical in life, whatever matters most at a given moment, and, with the accuracy of William Tell armed with a laser-sighted rifle, brings down precisely the skills and abilities needed to accomplish that thing.

I’ve been on intimate terms with the Cosmic Thwart for most of my life. I’m told it doesn’t afflict everyone equally — I don’t know. I probably need to go watch The Secret again.


Interview on PULSE

Click here.

Regular readers of this blog will already be familiar with most of the ideas and opinions expressed, but Jen’s questions did elicit a couple of responses you haven’t heard before.

Take a look — and if you’re enjoying COUNTDOWN TO MYSTERY, please comment on the article and let Jen’s readers know.

Good grief. It’s Christmas eve day already?

How the hell did that happen?

What with continuing health annoyances and worsening computer catastrophes, I’ve just been through one of the most aggravating months of my life.

Another week and we can put this year out of its misery. About time.

Happy holidays, all.