Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Hurray for Hollywood! Sorta …

From time to time, I get some interest in the rights to do other media based on my novels. Generally, this goes to TV or screen rights, sometimes a game or graphic novel, like that.

How it works is, a producer (or, more often, a would-be producer, more on that in a bit) approaches with an offer for an option on a work.

An option here, meaning the rights to do, say, a movie, are rented for a specific period, usually six months or a year. During this time, the producer tries to raise money for the project. If that happens, the option turns into a sale, with more money for the work, usually tied to a percentage of the production costs going to the writer. 

On a big-budget movie, this is winning the lottery. Say, for instance, somebody has a hundred million to spend on a moving picture, and your agent gets you three percent, you can see how that would make your day better.

This is not, alas, how it usually goes. Usually, the option runs its course, the producer couldn’t interest the money-folk in ponying up, the rights revert, and Bob’s your uncle.

In my case, I have had some of my stuff optioned a dozen times, gotten the small money, without getting the green light.

Some of the would-be producers worked hard at it; some not so much.

Hollywood is the land of sunshine up your sarong and blue, blue, bootstrap skies. The Biz runs on hustle, and you need that to get to the intersection, much less the green light.

However …

The dividing line between the serious hustler and the Tijuana haggler is simple: If you are willing to pay for an option, presumably with your own money? I will listen to your pitch.

If you are seeking a free option for a year, in the hope you can wheel and deal and make something happen and we all get rich?

No. You haven’t put anything at risk, and if you can’t get something going, all it costs you is your time. And ties up the work for however long.

I confess that earlier in my career, I allowed myself to get hustled thus. Guys who could talk the talk, promise the moon, drop names hither and yon? I let myself be convinced. Visions of sugar plums danced in my head, and that’s what they use: 

Oh, yeah, Brad and Leo and Scarlett would loove to do this! Spielberg!  Scorsese! Let’s make it happen!

Not any more. Whatever value my stuff might have, the only way you get to play with it is to cross my palm with silver, I will send your note to my agent, and we’ll see, but if Brad and Leo and Scarlett are hot for it? If Steve or Marty are ready to sign on?

Tell ‘em to gimme a call, hey?

Manage that. you are a player.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Not Funny, Dude

Humor is one of the most subjective of concepts. That which will make one man laugh hysterically can make another cry; a knee-slapper can be a heart-breaker. 

I won’t bore you with the classic Mel Brooks definition of what is tragic and what is comedic — nor should there be a race to see who can post it first, thank you — but ceilings being floors, oxen being gored, yadda, yadda, yadda.

What I find more fascinating is how many people seem to think that they are funny, hilariously so, when there is absolutely no evidence for that belief.

Early in his career, so the story he tells goes, Eddie Murphy was taken to task by Bill Cosby for his blue humor. 

Murphy called up Richard Pryor to complain.

Pryor said, Was it funny? Did they laugh?

Well, yes,

Then tell Bill I said to to have a Coke and a smile and shut the fuck up …

(Nor is lost on Murphy where he is and where Cosby is these days — Eddie stayed home to raise his kids, and “America’s Dad”is in the Big House …)

How do you know the most boring professor you ever had has just told a joke? He stops talking, looks up from his lecture notes, blinks, and waits. You can’t remember what he said, but you know you are supposed to laugh …

All to often, I will be perusing a thread online, and poster after poster, who thought the comments were too long, so they didn’t bother to read ‘em, will repeat the same-lame-not-at-all-funny comment as though it is the best of Dorothy Parker.

Some people just need to be kept away from the microphone.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021


Went to the weight room today, first time in fifteen months.

Not as if I have been a complete slug the whole pandemic, but I know I have lost some strength.

Dunno how much, that’s because I didn’t let my ego overrule my brain — a hard-learned took-a-long-damn-time lesson — so I didn’t go near my previous poundages. 40-50% max on most exercises, save for lat pull-downs, and that’s because chin-ups were things I did frequently while homebound. Even there, I stayed under bodyweight.

I mentioned the protocols — appointment-only, maximum of eight  people in the weight room, windows and doors open, social distance, antiseptic wipes to the machines before and after each station. Could go maskless if you had proof of Covid vaccination, we put our cards on file, though my wife and I wore our N95s anyhow.

Two older guys working out when we got there, two women arrived about the time we were about to leave.

It wasn’t that hard, so I suspect I might not have become quite as decrepit as I feared, but it will take a few months to get back to where I was, if I can.

Older you get, the slower that happens.

I was never the strongest guy in the gym, and that by design; the iron is not forgiving; push it too heavy or fast, you will pay for it. Bench-pressing a Volvo is not worth the risk.

Careful as I have tried to be, I have tweaked or pulled this and that over the decades, and had to work around it. I wanted to be in for the long haul — staying fit and strong is the goal, being able to do what I need to do, picking up the dogs, taking the trash out, opening jars. Need does not equal want.

The journey of a thousand miles restart …


Friday, June 11, 2021



So, we had a couple of buddies over to lunch, and after some boiled shrimp and beer and hummus, we sat down to play music together.

Just a few songs, and I was a bit rusty — first time playing live with these guys for fourteen months. 

We tried doing it online, but it wasn’t the same. That face-to-face energy matters.

I was always impressed that groups who had grown to hate each other — Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Eagles — managed to lay down separate tracks at different times to produce some terrific albums. I wondered if they had been together in a studio and enjoying it, how that would have affected the result?

Back in the early recording days, a group would often stand or sit in front of a mike, do one take that went straight onto a cylinder, and that was it.

Magic synergy, when it worked.

I have missed it. 

It was a joy, the jam.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

You’re My Favorite


Writers sometimes get asked the question: Which of your books is your favorite?

Some writers offer one up; some — include me mostly  here — will be less forthcoming and default to the books-are-like-children response: Hey, that is like asking which kid is my favorite child.

There are people who have favorite children, but don’t include me in that one, thank you.

Still, truth be told, there are books you like more than others after you have written fifty or sixty of them. Sometimes, in tie-ins, you have less to work with than others; now and again, a protagonist will tickle your fancy and be more fun to put through their paces.

You try to never phone it in, you give each tale as much as you can, but it’s the nature of the endeavor. If you are having fun, it shows.

Writers aren’t always the best judges of their own work. Books I thought were just okay sometimes sold like ice water in Hell; some I loved drew naught but shrugs.

Go figure. 

If you ask me which anthology of short stories I have written is my favorite? That I can say — Gatekeeper in Hell: The Collected Roy the Demon Stories.

Since it is the only such collection I have done, that’s easy …

These tales about Roy are as wild hairs as they get for me, and that is saying something. They are xxx-rated for sex, violence, and language; they are profane; they are, to my warped mind, hilarious. 

Not to everyone’s taste, Roy and the demons and angels who populate Heaven and Hell, and, in fact, not to most readers’ taste. (I read one aloud at a convention once, and when I was done, the silence was deafening. Few things more subjective than humor.)

But nearly all of the stories were written in a state of Flow, unfettered, raucous, just plain fun to do. I just stepped onto the roller coaster and went along for the ride, it was as if someone else had written them.

Would that everything I create came this easy.

Now, this is the place where I should tell you to buy the ebook, but truth is, most of my readers aren’t apt to like this one. So probably better you should save your money.

(If you want to check the short collection out, only nine stories, don’t say I didn’t warn you …)

Friday, June 04, 2021

Way Too Much Pad Thai


iOS Blues


Speak ill if you will of Apple’s iOS system, iPhone and iPad and all, but when it comes to using a song for a ringtone?

They would really have to go some to make it any harder to do. 

The choices are 1) bad, 2) worse, and 3) awful. 

You can try what used to be iTunes but isn’t that now; you can screw around with Garageband; you can download one of ninety-seven-thousand apps that are supposed to make it easy as peasy, but instead send you into swirling Langmuir eddies where you will drown trying to escape.

After two hours of following dead-ends, helpful advice from the web, installing, and then trashing, four apps, updating my iOS, and more fruitless snipe hunting, I managed to somehow get a new ringtone installed on my iPhone. 

Not sure I could do it again. Nor am I inclined to try.

All just so that when my phone rings, it will be Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man.

Thursday, June 03, 2021

Weights Awaiting

So, the pandemic storm isn’t over. 

However, the weather is, at least in some areas, improving.

My wife and I, most of our family and friends, have taken the vaccines. No absolute guarantees, we will still be masked in places, but the winds have diminished, the seas are less choppy.

We were, when the plague blew in, already battened down, recovering from a serious medical malady that unexpectedly swamped us, and the pandemic just added to that.

My excuse to eat and drink too much, to exercise too little, and to keep my head down and stay home all the time, needs to change. 

Health is not just about avoiding  one disease.

Back to life: Diet and exercise. Going for more frequent walks, eating fewer cookies, ease off on the beer. Lift this. tote that, play music, re-engage. In the long run, all flesh is grass, but a healthy and fit life is better no matter how long you get to ride the ride.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, it starts where you are, not where you wish you were.

We need it, the dogs need it, it is time.

Your mileage may vary, of course, but while it might not be a complete Johnny Nash lyric, it is close enough for me: “I can see clearly now, the rain is gone …”

Of course, seeing it, and doing it aren’t the same, but I gotta start somewhere.


Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Technology …

Some esoteric gun stuff:

Back in the day, I had a revolver tricked out out for use on the combat range at the club.

The piece was a short-barreled S&W .357 Magnum K-frame revolver. I had my gunsmith tune the action, smoothing it, new springs to lighten the pull. He removed the iron sights, glass-bead blasted the finish to satin, and mounted a Picatinny rail, upon which I installed a red-dot sight.

This resulted in a smooth and light DA pull, and the ability to knock bowling pins hither and yon, ring steel, and fill the A-zone of a combat silhouette with almost-boring regularity.


Shooter had to do hir part, but if you missed, it wasn’t the gun’s fault.

The scope was an early version, they make ‘em with bigger cans and brighter dots now, but the process was simple: you dialed the zero-mag scope in to your desired range — twenty-five yards, say — and when you lifted the revolver up and looked through the scope, both eyes open, what you saw was a target with a red dot floating over it. Wherever the dot was, that’s where the bullet went, if you held the gun still.

Works fine with one eye, too.

No laser beam, only the shooter can see the dot.

It was not a tackdriver at long range, but at combat distance out to fifteen or twenty yards, you had to work to miss a target the size of your hand.

A fun piece to shoot.

Now the point of this essay is not about the gun, but about the battery that ran the scope. It was (and is) a 3 volt single-unit about the size of three stacked button batteries.

I picked up the piece recently, and the battery was long-dead, so I got online to get a replacement.

You can buy ten of these, with a five-year guarantee, for what two of them cost ten years ago.


The AC Conundrum


When we moved to the Pacific Northwest, none of the houses we looked at had air conditioning. Speaking here of the cooling devices, not heaters.

Because they were mostly unnecessary.

Yeah, there were a couple weeks in August where we might soar into the high nineties, even an occasional hundred degree day, but you ran the fans, took a cool shower before bedtime, opened the windows, good to go.

Then we began to have more hot days strung together. 

When it drops into the fifties or low sixties overnight, still no problem, but when it says in the seventies? House wouldn’t cool, and sleeping got uncomfortable.

We had big dogs with double-coats, they suffered, so we got a roll-around AC to keep the bedroom livable. And sometimes my office, since the computer got cranky in the heat.

My wife doesn’t like AC, so we would only run the unit if it was really bad.

The question then became, what was really bad? One ninety-five degree day? Nah.

Two or three in a row, no cool-down?


Yesterday was 97F here, and it stayed warm all night. We didn’t run the AC, but it was not a comfortable night. Dogs were restless, us too.

Supposed to be 90 today, though they usually underestimate that here.

If it is still 80 in the bedroom come time to turn in? We will run it. 

If you have it and you need it? Okay to use it …