Tuesday, March 31, 2020

March Words of Wisdom

Always stand on principle...even if you stand alone. --John Adams

Don't explain your philosophy. Embody it. --Epictetus

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away. --Henry David Thoreau

Don't lose hope. When the sun goes down, the stars come out. --Unknown

The greatest victories come when people dare to be great, when they summon their spirits to brave the unknown and go forward together to reach a greater good. --President Ronald Reagan

First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.

The more momentum you have the more things you get done. It's like a habit. The energy of the momentum feeds on itself, and right now America has been told to sit back like a big fat fuck on the couch, and that scares me, that's not good. I've been a big fat fuck on a couch, nothing good comes of it, you've got to really train yourself to be the opposite of the big fat fuck on the couch. Because it's not the American spirit, not in the spirit this country was built on.
--AJ Benza

In the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to. --Dave Hollis

Sunday, March 29, 2020

"Crossing Borders" on Dru's Book Musings

We may have lost out on our launch party when Left Coast Crime was shut down earlier this month, but there's still the internet to help promote Crossing Borders. Today the book is featured on Dru's Book Musings.

The post features a brief description by the author of each story. I really appreciate the effort that's being made to bring attention to this anthology. Despite the restraints created by the COVID-19 crisis (an in-store event scheduled at Mysterious Galaxy was also cancelled) there is a real effort being made to publicize the book and I really appreciate it.

If you're looking for something to help you pass the time during this quarantine, consider ordering Crossing Borders (both trade paperback and ebooks are available) and enjoy!

Saturday, March 28, 2020

I heart my Marina

Pics via Visit Marina del Rey.

I miss the beach and the unobstructed sunsets!

The Marriott at the end of the road. I miss you MdR.

This beach of all beaches.

Hope and joy. Because beaches.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

TCM brings its film festival to the people

Turner Classic Movies had to cancel their annual film festival due to the Corona virus, but they just came up with a great way to keep the spirit of it alive: They are bringing it to viewers at home. It's happening April 16-19. Here's the lineup:

A Star is Born
Luise Rainer at the 2010 TCM Classic Film Festival
The Good Earth
Neptune's Daughter
The Seventh Seal
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon
A Hard Day's Night
Eva Marie Saint at the 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival
North by Northwest
Some Like It Hot
Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story
The Creature from the Black Lagoon
Grey Gardens
Night Flight
Kim Novak at the 2012 TCM Classic Film Festival
The Man with the Golden Arm
Mad Love
Double Harness
Vitaphone Shorts: Baby Rose Marie the Child Wonder, Don't Get Nervous, Lambchops
Sergeant York
Safety Last!
They Live By Night
Faye Dunaway at the 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival
The Magnificent Ambersons
Night and the City
Norman Lloyd at the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival
The Lady Vanishes
The Passion of Joan of Arc
The Set-Up
Peter O'Toole at the 2011 TCM Classic Film Festival
Lawrence of Arabia
Red-Headed Woman
Auntie Mame
Singin' in the Rain
Floyd Norman: An Animated Life
The Hustler
Baby Face
Bardelys the Magnificent

I think this is a great idea and am looking forward to this. Hopefully, we won't be watching it under quarantine.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Desperately needed words of wisdom...from a politician no less.

Take the time to watch Wyoming Senator John Barrasso absolutely go off on Nancy Pelosi and our political betters who are blocking a Coronavirus relief bill unless it includes funding for their pet projects. It will be ten minutes of your time well spent. Everything he says is spot on. Americans are in danger of losing their lives and livelihoods, and the House of so-called Representatives is holding up aid and relief.

It is nice to know that some politicians like Senator Barrasso actually give a shit. I wish we had a Congress full of people like him. I just hope he can prevail.

One of the things I didn't realize until I watched this video is that the House is still on recess. They couldn't be bothered to return to work even at a time like this. Let that sink in...and remember it the next time these evil bastards come up for re-election.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Ever wonder what Commander Riker would sound like drunk? Of course you have.

If you need a good laugh - and let's face it, we all do these days - WATCH THIS.

"Have you ever noticed how many successful restaurants are theme based...these days?"

Big fat tip 'o the hat to Jord/Jax on Twitter for posting this.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Watch this and have an A-1 day!

Holy moly - someone on social media linked to this and it's just so cool. It's the table read for Breaking Bad episode 509, "Blood Money". This is the episode where Hank has just discovered Heisenberg's true identity and they have their first confrontation as predator and prey, and we all know what that led to. It's also where we learn that Walt's cancer has returned.

It's really interesting to see what they had in the script that late in the game that didn't make it into the final cut. LOL at Peter Gould filling in as Badger, Bob Odenkirk in costume, and everyone laughing at Badger's Star Trek spec script. It's crazy how intense Aaron Paul is even during the table read - he's in full on-camera performance mode and brings Anna Gunn to tears. The absolute dread in the silence when Walt and Hank are facing off in the garage is hair-raising. And how great is Betsy Brandt as Lydia Rodarte-Quayle?

Enjoy, and have an A-1 day!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

There are epic public relations disasters, and then there's Entercom/KROQ's firing of Kevin Ryder

Not sure how I didn't hear about this sooner, but early this morning I learned about KROQ's unceremonious dumping of Kevin Ryder and everyone associated with his morning show yesterday morning. And as if unexpectedly axing a hall of famer who spent the last thirty years building your brand wasn't shitty enough, someone who is still actually working there thought posting this to KROQ's social media was a good idea:

Uh, oh yeah, P.S.: Thanks for thirty years guy!


I'd love to be a fly on the wall among management this morning as they review these comments. With this one badly handled decision they just erased KROQ's standing in the Los Angeles radio community. I couldn't have done a better job of destroying the station in one fell swoop if my life depended on it. It's really kind of amazing, albeit in a truly awful way.

I've been listening to KROQ pretty much all my life that I can remember. Entercon, on the other hand, I've never heard of, but I do know this about them: They have no concept of their audience. They don't know the listeners, they don't know the community, and they obviously have no idea of KROQ's history, importance, and place in said community. Or, even worse, they just don't care. Either way, they just cratered KROQ's audience and ratings.

For some strange reason - even though they had three guys escort him out of the building - the station's management did let Kevin on air to say goodbye to the listeners. And he didn't go quietly. Good for him. His criticism pales in comparison to the online reaction from KROQ listeners, who are incensed over the loss of the morning show that has been such a huge part of our lives for decades here in Los Angeles. Kevin and Bean got me through a lot of shitty commutes over the years and provided me and a lot of other people with countless hours of awesomely hilarious entertainment for which I'm incredibly grateful.

The funny thing is that I was out uncharacteristically early Monday morning running errands and came across Kevin's morning show on KROQ, and although I don't listen much these days since I don't commute, it was nice to hear his familiar voice on the radio. And now that's gone. I honestly think KROQ's listenership and ratings are going to crash spectacularly because of this decision, and I hope heads at Entercom will roll as a result. There are ways to run a business and this ain't one of them.

If I was currently running a rival station in L.A. I wouldn't be able to hire Kevin fast enough. And when someone does, I'll be tuning in.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Panic-buying humor

These guys live in the same area as the Tennessee guy who bought up all the hand sanitizer from local stores and tried to sell it online and they just wrote a song about it. And it's hilarious! Say hello to Good Cop/Rad Cop!

I hope this makes them famous.

Also, the guy they're singing about? Forced to donate most of his stash.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Better villain = better hero and better story

I know we all have other things on our mind right now, but this is a great article if you'd like a writing-related distraction: 10 Most Thought-Provoking Villain Monologues.

A lousy villain doesn't help your hero. A superior villain elevates your hero, so you need to put as much work into your bad guy as you do your good guy.

This reminds me of the experience years ago when I got to judge some Project Greenlight scripts. Out of the twenty scripts I read and rated, I'd say three were really exceptional. Most were average and unmemorable, and there were a handful that were really awful. One was an Indian burial ground story, a concept that was old and tired even back in the 2000's. One had an evil vampiric force that slaughtered an entire town except for the lead character for no particular reason, at least none that was given in the script. There were a couple of good old fashioned government conspiracy stories that didn't bring anything new to that genre. The absolute worst was a poorly written ripoff of A Christmas Story that threw in an alcoholic stepfather as a comedic device. And no, it wasn't funny. None of the characters in any of these scripts were noteworthy or memorable in any way. I only remember them as crappy scripts, not stories about people that stick in my memory.

My point is that it's not enough to write a script. You have to write a story and a story needs interesting, well-developed characters.

One of the best pieces of advice I've seen in regards to writing villains is to keep in mind that they are the heroes of their own story. I think you see a lot of that in this ScreenCraft article. It also drives home the importance of great dialogue. There's just a lot of really terrific info here. Give it a look or bookmark it for future reference. And stay healthy!

Monday, March 16, 2020

Left Coast Crime 2020

Early last Wednesday morning, prior to heading to San Diego for this year's Left Coast Crime Writer's Conference, I blogged a rather defiant piece in defense of the conference's decision to soldier on despite the COVID-19 virus, while a slew of last minute author and attendee cancellations and shutdowns were just beginning, including sporting events and the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

I did write that I respected that anyone who didn't feel safe traveling to the event (especially those who fall into the high-risk categories - elderly, existing health issues, immunity issues) were absolutely entitled to bow out, especially if they had to fly. I was fortunate that this was one conference I could drive to and I didn't have to worry about being packed into an airport and plane like one of many sardines. But other than that I wasn't about to let a little hysteria ruin a conference that was going to include the launch party for Crossing Borders and my chance to sit on the other side of the table as an author.

About an hour later I deleted the post. It had zero views, for which I'm grateful. Because during the next 24 hours, the shutdown of, well, pretty much everything commenced. Rather than being precautionary or panicky, the shutdowns announced earlier in the week turned out to be just the first of many dominos to fall and in retrospect, while my feelings expressed in the post were well-intentioned, that post could have come across as obnoxious and irresponsible. God knows it wasn't the first time I've used the blog as an outlet to vent, and it is my blog so I've always felt justified using it to express my opinions. But I also put it out here in the public and ultimately I just didn't feel like that post served any good purpose.

Less than a week later, schools, restaurants, movie theaters, gyms, the L.A. Times Festival of Books, Broadway shows and countless upcoming events have been cancelled or postponed. Also cancelled: Left Coast Crime before we could even get through the first complete day. San Diego County issued a statement late Thursday afternoon shutting down large gatherings and that included us.

Shutdown announcement came at the conclusion of Matt Coyle's interview. L to R: Stan Ulrich and Lucinda Surber (LCC National Committee), Kim Keeline (San Diego Co-Chair along with Lisa Brackmann and Maryelizabeth Yrurralde), interviewer Corey Lynn Fayman, and Matt Coyle.

The Crossing Borders launch party was scheduled for 7:30pm on Thursday, so that became one of the many casualties. The attendees took the news well - not surprising as it's the kind of community that you can count on to take the high road - but my heart just went out to the organizers. For the local crew this represented over two years of work and planning and it was shaping up to be a great conference. I just feel so bad for them. Their biggest problem should have been the rain. Instead, they had to watch all their hard work be brought to a screeching halt.

3+ days later, this still just makes me so sad.

To me the worst part of what happened to LCC 2020 is that I think that when all is said and done, we're going to look back on at least a large portion of the panic and shutdowns as an intentional media and politically fueled frenzy. That's my theory (or conspiracy theory, if you wish - we're all entitled to our respectfully expressed opinions here on the old blog) and until I'm proven wrong, I'm sticking with it. I do understand that all the shutdowns and cancellations (and social-distancing, my new least favorite phrase) represent erring on the side of caution, because what if you don't and this does turn out to be the next black plague? But I've heard enough sources describing it as no better or worse than any other flu epidemic we've been through before and right now that's what makes sense to me, so that's how I'm proceeding. If it turns out I'm wrong I'll be the first to admit it. And also probably die from it, because, irony.

The small portion of LCC that I was able to enjoy was great and I'm glad I made the trek to San Diego. I got to meet Kim Keeline, one of the local organizers who was also our contact during the submission and publication of Crossing Borders, as well as LCC Guest of Honor Rachel Howzell Hall, author of They All Fall Down and who also wrote the forward for Crossing Borders. Unfortunately, I didn't get the chance to meet Lisa Brackmann, my editor on the anthology, but I'm hoping to at a future event.

If you're a fan of the genre and you haven't experienced Left Coast Crime, your next chance is April 2021 in Albuquerque. Hopefully sanity will have been restored by then and we'll get to enjoy what will no doubt be a great conference.

Gorgeous San Diego sunsets from my room, nights one and two:

Bonus points: Spot my car in the parking lot!

Friday, March 13, 2020

Expecting a little rain, are we?

The Weather Channel.com doesn't care about your feelings. Or your plans for this weekend. Or your plans for next week. Or your plans for next weekend. I'm beginning to notice a pattern here.

If April showers bring May flowers, I wonder what March showers will bring? Hopefully an end to this Corona virus madness and we can go back to living in a world that is merely crazy and not off-the-charts bonkers.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

I needed some good news this week

Monday was the second anniversary of my Mom's death.

Next time I need to remember to bring something to clean up the marker.
I also paid a visit to my godfather, who is buried nearby.

Then yesterday my landlord passed away. I don't know how (or if) it will affect the property I live on, but I'm not worried about it at the moment. His family has a lot of other stuff to deal with right now.

So I was really happy to read this today: The Kids in the Hall are reuniting for an Amazon series. The rumor actually came up a couple of years ago, but I guess they just finally got their schedules synced up. I do wish the article had indicated when the show is going to air.

Pic snicked from the linked article.

Tomorrow is The Brother's birthday and we're getting together for lunch, so hopefully the week will end on a high note.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Time travel at your own risk!

This popped up on my Facebook feed today: Apparently O'Reilly Auto Parts carries parts for your time traveling DeLorean. Go to their website and search for part 121G.

Go ahead, I'll wait.

Okay then, here is the result:

They do indicate that it isn't actually for sale, but it's still so cool.

Supposedly they were also carrying Mr. Fusion, but I couldn't find it on the website.

I couldn't find any info on why O'Reilly has the flux capacitor on their website other than they're just that cool and have a great sense of humor. I know it made my day.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Thank you and RIP

Joe Coulombe, the founder of Trader Joe's, passed away last Friday at the age of 89.

Talk about someone who made the world a better place - this man did it. Trader Joe's is one of my absolute favorite stores. My world would certainly be a poorer place without this store and it's amazing array of food.

From Trader Joe's website:

The first Trader Joe's store opened in 1967 in Pasadena, California. (That store is still there. It's still operating. It still has the same parking lot.) The store had a nautical theme and it was run by people who were described as "traders on the high seas." At the time, Joe had been reading a book called "White Shadows in the South Seas," and he'd been to the Disneyland Jungle Trip ride, and it all just...coalesced. To this day, Trader Joe's Crew Members consider themselves "traders on the culinary seas" and are known for their bright, tropical-patterned shirts and for generally being nice, helpful, and well informed.

I read somewhere that TJ's purposely overstaffs their stores so that shoppers never have trouble finding someone to help them. Going into their stores is like going to In-N-Out Burger - the employees are so dang happy to be there and it's just fun doing business with them.

RIP sir, and thanks for all the yummy food and the awesome shopping experience.