Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hallowe'en 2010

"Hey! Turn off that damn light!"

Hallowe'en. My son's birthday, my daughter's wedding anniversary, and my holiday from forever. As usual, I carve a jack o' lantern. This year's, I was kind of in a hurry -- we had somewhere to go, and I cranked, so this is about an hour and a half from start to finish.

Not my best, but not bad.

"Who you callin' 'Slick?'"

(Addendum: After three days ...)
Other business:

Rory has weighed in with his comments on one of my earlier posts, and focused on that area between what I thought he meant, and what he thinks he meant. 

It mostly works for me, since he's closer to his mind than I am. Mostly -- I still think it's been so long since he was a civilian that his memories of that time are maybe a bit faded. Soldier, bouncer, deputy, armed contractor in an active war zone, author of books on, and  teacher of ways to deal with violence -- I think he has to reach way back to dredge up what it felt like to be a civilian. Got scars he doesn't remember where they came from? Been in so many dust-ups he lost count long ago? 

But even that? I can go with it. So I learned some stuff, and we're good, Rory and I.

We always were. 

(And those of you who feel the need to run to his place and tell him I said something about him -- Ooh, Rory, Rory, didja hear what Perry said? Didja? -- can save yourself some trouble. He's got a link to my blog on his, so what I post shows up there and if he wants to read it, all he has to do is look.)

Friday, October 29, 2010


I got this in an email. Probably some of you have seen it, along with a bunch of other graphs. I liked these two the best.

On the Notion of Reasoned Debate

Couple postings back, I got into some stuff about violence and teaching, and referenced an expert in the field, Rory Miller.

Couple of my readers took me to task for what I said. Which is fine, because a difference of opinion is what makes a horse race, innit? 

Just to clarify some things, a little history:

First post I read of Rory's on his blog was in November of 2005. He talks about going to Orycon, and mentions in passing that he doesn't read fiction. More than a couple times since then, he's brought that up again, even asked for recs once from folks trying to get him back into it: his blog, 5 April 2010. He has little patience for fiction. If he is using force and it is dramatic or entertaining, he says, he's doing it wrong. (23 February 2008)

If you are writing a novel and you aren't dramatic and entertaining, you are doing it wrong. 

Truth is no defense in fiction. 

I've trained in an ER and worked in a clinic. I've seen all kinds of body fluids outside the containers, and dealt with them, and how they got outside. But I'm not going to -- so to speak -- splash it all over the pages of a novel. It doesn't serve my purpose in most stories to do so. Thus my fiction is not real, but if you want reality? You can read non-fiction or watch the evening news. 

Still, I don't fault Rory for writing a book offering how to teach fiction writers how to write about violence even though he doesn't read the stuff. (Scroll down the page for my notice and the review, which was five stars.) You don't have to know everything to venture an opinion or a helpful comment. Let me repeat that, with emphasis: You don't have to know everything to venture an opinion or a helpful comment. There's good material in his book, even if I believe that too much of it might kill a novel sale. It's not my job as a fiction writer to educate my readers, it is to entertain them. What I use to season my dish is up to me. Too little spice makes it bland. Too much makes it inedible.

Rory allows as how there are things he knows how to do but has problems teaching to beginners. Breakfalls, for instance. He can do them, but he's forgotten the basics of how he learned them. (I've had this discussion at length, the expert showing the beginner, and I won't belabor it, but my opinion stayed the same after the discussion because nobody showed me anything compelling to change it. And I don't hear disagreement in that comment.)

The reason we got into tigers and rabbits is because I think it's hard for a tiger to teach a rabbit how to think or behave like a tiger. I could be wrong, but that was my thought.

Against a tiger, a wolf is going to have big problems. I wouldn't bet anything on the rabbit. 

More than once, Rory and I and other readers of his and my blogs have thrashed through some of these questions about movement and psychology and fight-or-flight, and more often than not, come away with something we didn't have before. This is one of the reasons to bring it up. And if I read something I think is fuzzy, I am going to point it out and listen for clarification. If Rory is looking for yes-men -- and I'm pretty sure he isn't -- I'm not the guy he wants to ask. Mostly I'll go with him. Sometimes, I think he's wrong, so he gets the "no" response.

Just as I appreciate it when I get called on it on my blog. Which happens often enough.

When Rory and I get to a point where the words on the page don't do it, we get together for coffee, because face-to-face conversation beats the best writing all hollow. 

I respect Rory; who he is, what he does. But he's not always right, and if I hear something I don't agree with, then not telling him would be a disservice. I'm a reasonably bright fellow. If I miss something, I know it could be me; I could be biased, I could misread it, I could misunderstand it. Happened plenty of times before, no reason to believe it won't happen again. But it could also be that the person offering it didn't do it as well as s/he could. And telling him makes him sharpen his argument and rethink it ways he might not if everybody nods and smiles and gives him a reflexive thumbs-up. If you believe something is true, it should be able to withstand questioning. If an opinion isn't worth defending, is it worth having?

Book 'Em, Danno!

James MacArthur 

James MacArthur, who probably heard that line, "Book 'em, Danno!" a thousand times after the original Hawaii Five-O went off the air, has passed on. 

I first saw him in a movie version of Kidnapped, circa 1960, and in this and that until Five-O. After that, he did a few guest appearances and a couple of movies, and then mostly retired. He was a scratch golfer and -- something I didn't know -- an accomplished Spanish guitarist.

Adiós, James.  

New Diet

I started my dial-down-the-sugar diet on what? Monday? 

Down nine pounds as of this morning. Tons of fruit and popcorn ain't doin' it. Maybe the five-egg omelette for lunch and chicken and squash for dinner will hold the line ...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

As Long as You Spell the Name Right ...

Actor and Producer Mark Kilbane 
(He's the one on the right ...)

Latest on TMWNM in the newspapers. Might see a couple things of interest, such as the possibility of getting a bodybuilder who would be pretty awesome for the role of Bork, four-time Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler (image below). At 5'9", he's a bit shorter than I see Bork, but he's 274 pounds in contest shape, so Lord knows he's big enough ...

eBook Info

Dunno if I posted this here before, but I got a query, not the first, about what format the ebooks are in.

Here's what Smashwords offers -- and if you buy there, you can choose any or all of these.

Available Ebook reading formats:

FormatFull Book
Online Reading (HTML)View
Online Reading (JavaScript)View
Kindle (.mobi)Download
Epub (open industry format, good for Stanza reader, others)Download
PDF (good for highly formatted books, or for home printing)Download
RTF (readable on most word processors)Download
LRF (for Sony Reader)Download
Palm Doc (PDB) (for Palm reading devices)Download
Plain Text (download) (flexible, but lacks much formatting)Download
Plain Text (view) (viewable as web page)View's version is .mobi, and B&N's is whatever B&N's is. There are a couple here on the site not available elsewhere and they are in PDF. I expect that most of the dedicated ereaders and computers out there can find something here that works for 'em.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Faster Than A Speeding iPod

So, Superman is getting the upgrade to dark. Gonna wear a hoodie, have an attitude ...

I'd think this was completely doomed, except that Joe Straczynski is writing it, so there's a shot that it might fly.

But still. Batman, sure -- he was always on the edge of psychosis, in it for revenge. Supe? Mr. Goody Two Shoes? 

What next? Richie Rich becomes a communist? Mickey and Goofy hook up?

Weight Loss Problem

Well, crap. Since I cut out sugar and simple carbs a couple days ago, I've lost four pounds. 

Yeah, okay, I figured I might could drop five or six pounds and get those nice abs, but this is not good, when you think about for long term. Since I normally fast one day a week and lose about six pounds that way, I could be down ten by Friday and while I usually get the fasting weight back by the next week's fast, I'm not going to do that if I'm already running a calorie deficit.

I'm pretty sure people trying to lose pounds will hate me for this, but if I'm going to maintain my weight, I'm gonna have to eat more fat and protein to make up for the sugars ...

I Got No Street Creds

A bit more on the violence thing. Most of you here will assume that when I post such things about the reality guys, I am talking about Rory Miller and Mac and the other hardcore dudes like that. 

You're right. I am. But it's not meant to be derogatory when I offer it.

A couple thoughts to clarify things ...

I like Rory, and I believe what he teaches is valid and valuable. I've reviewed all his books, given them raves. I also believe that what he teaches is mostly geared for, and aimed at, people who are apt to find themselves in scuffles regularly. It's from and for people who deliberately put themselves in harm's way. Soldiers, cops, bouncers, folks who go forward knowing things are about to get active. 

As Rory has been all those things and has not-walked-but-run into the room as the shit hit the fan, I might be excused for thinking that's where he likes to play. I think he gets bored if somebody is not shooting at him -- and barely missing. 

He has specialized knowledge, worth diamonds to people who need it. As he points out, he does violence for money. 

That's a long way from where most of us live. It colors one's world.

We want him on the wall. We need him on the wall. But on one level, I get the sense that he mostly wants to swap stuff with  the other guys on the wall. (You might can add serious martial artists to the teaching pool, in that they are willing to pug in practice, and thus aren't completely against the idea of thumping or sticking somebody, should the need arise. People who could never hurt a fellow human being even in defense of their own lives don't seem to be good candidates for reality fighting.)

When he's talking to guys like me, chair-sitters old enough to be his father, or people who hike a long detour to avoid the mean streets, he has to dial it down. We need to know about it, to be sure. We might need some of it someday, and it'll be worth diamonds if we do. But "might" and "surely will" are two different horses.

Big attitude change from "this might happen" to "when this happens 'cause it's gonna." 

Here's where I keep coming down to it: I can't tell you what it's like to be a soldier, cop, or bouncer, because I've never been one.

I think it's hard for Rory to tell you what it's like to be a civilian, because he's never been one.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Martial Expectations

Something I noticed and have been thinking about. I don't have it nailed down completely, so bear with me while I explore it a bit.

If you haven't seen the new TV series Sherlock's opener and you still plan to do so, this is a spoiler, so skip this post if you don't want to know one of the big reveals.

In the story, Dr. Watson is accosted by a mysterious and powerful fellow -- he can make any phone the doctor passes ring -- who has him transported to a warehouse. This fellow offers that Sherlock probably considers him his arch-enemy, and offers to pay the doctor to keep tabs on his new roommate.

Naturally, the doctor tells him to piss off.

Well. As readers of the books know, Holmes's arch-enemy is Professor Moriarty, and while no names are mentioned, we make the assumption. Who else?

Not so. It's Holmes's smarter brother, Mycroft, and his intent toward his brother is benign.

To fans of the novels, this is a full-on cheat. 

Might be that all is fair in love and war, but all is not fair in a mystery wherein one is expected to figure out something from legitimate clues. Yes, you can strew red herrings hither and yon to confuse a reader or a watcher, but you have to play fair to the extent that the truth, however disguised, is there and can be winnowed out. 

One could argue that Mycroft displays some of Sherlock's abilities, and that is a clue, but it doesn't overcome the cheat: This fellow is tall and slender. Mycroft was a stout, large, beefy fellow, and the writers  knew that, given what else they got right, so it was a deliberate falsehood. Had he been a large and beefy fellow, that would have been valid; that he was not flouted the rules they have to play by. (Unless of course, a diet to lose weight had been mentioned. It wasn't.)

Non-fans of the great detective, it doesn't matter, but the show was full of things pitched to the hardcore, so this one shouldn't have been there. Not a red-herring, but an outright lie.

I brought this up to demonstrate something that raises a question for me in fight training, notably the reality versions. 

The caveat: I am not a fighter. I have studied martial arts for a long time, but if I see a fight coming, I am heading elsewhere if I can.

It's been pretty well established that scenario training adds much to fight exercises. What works on the nice padded mat in the dojo in a gi might not work so well on the sloped muddy ground in the rain, or the smoky barroom full of drunks in street clothes. It's thus good stuff. Not reality -- only reality is that, as has been pointed out -- but closer and thus more useful. I'm good with this.

However, one of the things mentioned in passing is the notion of a sudden, unexpected, full-out attack. Those are hard to deal with, and one of the drills offered is that a teacher can pick a student in a class and demonstrate this by going unexpectedly bugfuck on him. The six or eight hits a second tornado blows,  and very few people will be able to successfully withstand that.  

Muggers don't play fair, it is offered. You shouldn't expect the Marquis of Queensbury.

True. I can see that. And if the point is that an unexpected attack can come from anybody, anywhere, at anytime? Yeah. But like the skinny Mycroft Holmes, that part is also a cheat. 

Expectations are bad, I've brought that up here a time or fifty. They get you into trouble across the board. And yet, we all have them, and we couldn't function on a day-to-day basis without at least a few. 

We wouldn't get into a car if we didn't expect that most of the drivers on the other side of the road were going to stay there and not zoom head-on into us. Or that there was some expectation of people stopping at the red light after it turned red and stayed that way. Stragglers, sure, you watch for them, and if you aren't driving defensively, you are missing a bet. But at the end, we are assuming incompetence over malice most of the time when we get behind the wheel. The road is full of assholes, but not murderers.

We don't expect the waiter to poison our food. Nor the Safeway clerk to pull a pistol from the register. Nor the gas station attendant to turn the hose on the car and flick his Bic. All those things could happen. But anybody who expects them? Probably needs to have his meds adjusted.

We don't expect our best old pal since third grade to suddenly up and come at us full on with murderous intent for no reason, assuming we think he's reasonably sane. Nor do we check the hall closet to see if our loving spouse is in there with a bat, waiting to bash us when we go to turn out the kitchen light. 

It is not unreasonable to expect that your wife isn't going to stab you while you are asleep, and if you believe that, why are you sleeping there? Leave.

So when the instructor goes bugfuck, he gainsays the implied teacher/student role, which carries with it certain expectations. Yes, he can. Yes, it makes a point. But it's still a cheat. 

If you are walking down a dark alley and you hear somebody coming up behind you, if you aren't on some kind of guard, you are missing a bet. With people you don't know, you might behave differently than with those you do know.

Sometimes the switch is not a rheostat, it's on or it is off. It might take more to flip it on, but if that happens, the game changes. I would think in a less-structured scenario that starts with real surprise, that the chances of serious injury would rise. If the defender gets frightened and is able to break his freeze, what might happen if he's strong and skilled?

Just a thought. 

Monday, October 25, 2010


Came across this link when I was doing some research. Might be some use to writers -- it's the skinny on how long a copyright lasts before a work goes into the public domain.

Ways to Avoid Doing Work

I've washed the dishes, folded a load of laundry, walked the dogs, and picked up a package at the post office. Then I needed to shoot some pictures -- for the day when I might want to use one as a b.g. for another book cover. Then I figured, what the hell, how about I do a book cover for somebody else ... ?

(Addendum: Here's what I had to say about Moran's book, a couple years back -- I had a review of it for the local paper, once upon a time, but lost it:

"Moran is one the best space-opera writers ever. I thought The Last Dancer, the third book in the Emerald Eyes, The Long Run, um, trilogy, was as good as they get.

Probably hard to find these day, and buying them used doesn't put any money in his pocket, but if you can find copies, you should read them."

Since it's going to be an ebook, you should get a copy of that instead, since it will put money into his pocket..

Well. I guess I have to go to work now.

Okay. Just one more ...

(Addendum the Second: And here's the last graph of I said about Reaves's book in my review when it came out:

"Reaves skillfully weaves these and other disparate characters into a tangled web, never losing a thread. The feel of the writing is real enough to wilt your clothes, to make you sweat, to swat at the clouds of buzzing mosquitoes. Against the dark and humid New Orleans spring, with the workings of voodoo, the French Quarter, and even a bleak trip into the Louisiana State Prison of Angola, the players are bound for a horrific showdown, upon which their fates and that of the world itself hinges. Voodoo Child is a welcome addition to books that go bump in the night."

I dunno its status as an ebook, but you can still find used treeware copies on

Meet the Producer

Above: Mark Kilbane, Producer, at the press conference
for The Man Who Never Missed, Capclave 2010
(from Facebook)

I get my best jokes about a particular profession from those in that profession -- lawyers always have the funniest lawyer jokes, doctors, doctor jokes, people in the media biz, etc. 

Some years ago, a producer on one of the animated shows upon which I worked told me this one, and since this is a post about a producer ...

It helps if you know anything about movies in LaLaLand, but it isn't necessary:

A writer, a director, and a producer are lost in the desert. The sun broils them,  terrain is bleak. Things are getting dire. 

The writer finds a stick and starts to dig near the base of a scrubby plant.

What are you doing? The director asks.

I'm digging a hole. Go deep enough, I'll hit water, and we'll be saved.

The director nods. Great idea. He points. Why don't you dig over there?

There? Why?

Trust me.

The writer frowns, but, okay. He starts digging where the director points.

He labors for hours. Finally, when he is exhausted and down about three feet, water begins to well at the bottom of the hole. Water! he yells. We're saved!

Great job! the director says. 

The producer walks over, unzips his fly, and pisses into the water.

The writer and director stare at him, aghast. What the fuck did you do that for?!

And the producer says ...

It needed something ...

Here it is germane to say that Mark Kilbane is also working on the script as the writer, and that I wouldn't be awfully surprised if he wound up being the director, come the funding.

But it is funny ...