Thursday, March 19, 2009

Charlie Stella Speaks Out!

Shocking, I know...but this one's an interview over at Ed Gorman's always excellent blog.

Don't miss Charlie's advice to the publishing world.

And Now You Know

50 Reasons No One Wants to Publish Your First Book

Some highlights:

2. There’s this thing called punctuation. You might want to look into it.

7. It probably wasn’t a good idea to base the main character on yourself, considering how much most people seem to hate you.

28. Because they threw away their annual budget on the new Lindsay Lohan autobiography, BOOKS ARE RETARDED.

My personal favorite:

31. There’s a fine line between writing authentic regional dialogue and making all of your characters sound like stroke victims.

Check out the whole thing, though. It's priceless.

via Bookgasm.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"And Max said, I'LL EAT YOU UP!"

At the next link, a the teaser poster for the movie version of WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE.

I am, to say the least, ambivalent about there being a WtWTA movie at all. It's my all time favorite kids' book, but it's short, and I can't see how padding it out to 2+ hours is going to do anything but make it suck. But the poster looks cool.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Just What I Needed: Write or Die!

For those who need a little extra motivation, Dr Wicked's Writing Lab brings us Write or Die. You set how many words you want to write in a certain period of time. If you stop typing, there are...consequences.

Terrenoire Explains It All

The AIG Mess Made Comprehensible, If Somewhat Profane, courtesy of my good friend, David Terrenoire.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Life Imitates Art, and It's More Than A Little Creepy (with CONTEST!)

You know how, in some thrillers, a character will entrust the Big Secret to a trusted friend, to be sent out if the character disappears? Well, meet Death Switch, a service which sends out emails upon your unfortunate demise. Like so many things on the 'net, there's a free and a pay version:

The basic service is free and includes a single email. The pay service, $20 a year, allows you to compose up to 30 emails with 10 recipients each. Only the pay service allows you to include attachments. Death Switch determines when to send out the messages by sending out messages to you on a regular basis. If you fail to respond to enough of those messages in a row, the emails are mailed out..

Consider the possibilities....and post them here. Best one wins an autographed copy of BREAKING COVER.

Maybe Somebody Can Answer This Question For Me (UPDATED)

Okay. I'm pissed off about AIG executives getting big bonuses after the bailout, too.

But I'm hearing things that suggest that at least some of these bonuses were already locked in contractually before the bailout was even requested. In other words, if AIG chose not to honor those contracts by paying bonuses already agreed on, they'd get sued--and lose.

Does anyone know if that's the case?

If so, then obviously, considering the performance of these executives, the contracts were bad bargains. Putting into an employment contract, 'you get a bonus, no matter what,' is, no doubt, a bad deal. But "we made a bad deal" has never been an defense for simply not paying.

But if we demand as a cost of the bailout that the company spend attorney fees defending a contract claim that AIG'S going to lose and end up paying anyway (with interest), doesn't that seem like a worse deal?

Now, demanding as a cost of the bailout that these idiots get shitcanned, given their agreed-on bonuses and escorted off the property by security with the contents of their desk drawers in a little box...THAT I could get behind without reservation. Demanding as a condition of the bailout that all future compensation be tied to actual performance benchmarks, definitely.

But the Feds coming in and saying "previous contracts are null and void...." Hmmm. Don't know if we want to go there.

UPDATE: an interesting proposal, via BoingBoing:

Congress, as usual, is merely whining. Here's what it might do: Enact legislation that imposes a 100 percent income tax on bonuses or whatever the financial wizards want to call them at the companies receiving our tax dollars for their, and the economy's, survival.

Please, Please, Please Stop.

If I see one more headline about Bristol Palin and Levi Wossname's breakup, I am going to go mental or something. Leave the poor kids alone. It's bad enough to go through all that shit when you're barely old enough to drive; making them go through it in the public fishbowl is just unconscionable.

And no, I'm not assigning blame to anyone but the media for this one; Caribou Barbie may have dragged the poor kid into the public eye, then she and John McCain Who Was a POW tried to use her as a human shield, but at this point, it's the media keeping her in it, and for no good reason I can see. As if there ever was one.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Give Up, Wil Wheaton. You Will Never Be a Bigger Geek Than This.

"Share it fairly but dont take a slice of my pie..."

Latest Newspaper Column:
This past week, President Obama signed a $410 billion spending bill that's supposed to carry us through September. Now, you or I could probably make it through to September on a lot less, but then, neither of us is a nation of 308 million people.

Predictably, the Republican Party is criticizing the bill over the 1 percent of the spending which they call "earmarks."

Ah, earmarks, the bogeyman du jour. Everybody claims to hate earmarks and wants them done away with. Problem is, no one can seem to come up with a definition of exactly what an earmark is. Pretty much everybody who complains about any earmark seems to define it as "a federally funded project in someone else's district."

Projects in the district of the person complaining, of course, are "vital economic development."

Take, for example, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who demanded on "Meet The Press" that Obama veto the bill because of all the earmarks. Host David Gregory pointed out that Graham's own Republican colleague, Honorable John McCain, had tagged a $950,000 Myrtle Beach Convention Center that Graham had put into the bill as an earmark.

Graham flip-flopped so fast I thought he must have been taking lessons from Mitt Romney. "I voted to take all earmarks out," he said, "but I will come back in the new process and put that back in." In other words, he was for it before he was against it, but he'll be for it again. The convention center, Graham insisted, is important. It will stimulate the economy of Myrtle Beach. Graham said bringing home the earmarks is his prerogative.

"I should have the ability as a United States senator to direct money back to my state as long as it's transparent and it makes sense," he said.

Well, yeah, Senator, and so does everybody else.

Nevertheless, the GOP and their shills in the media have made "earmarks" a major talking point, notwithstanding the fact that 40 percent of the identified "earmarks" in the bill were inserted by Republican lawmakers.

Over at Faux News, Sean Hannity smugly chuckled over Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin scoring "almost $2 million for swine odor and manure management, because those pigs and their manure, they do smell pretty bad. We need to do something about that."

Honorable John, who said during the campaign that he didn't even know how to use a computer, suddenly embraced the online messaging service Twitter to broadcast his 10 least favorite earmarks.

"$650,000 for beaver management in North Carolina and Mississippi," he twittered. "How do you manage a beaver?" (Much merriment ensued on the Internet over that one, let me tell you). He went on: "$1 million for Mormon cricket control in Utah -- is that the species of cricket or a game played by the Brits?"

This drew a swift response from a fellow Republican, Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah, where apparently the Mormon crickets aren't a joke; they're an agricultural plague of biblical proportions. "Maybe we ought to shoot some of the crickets over the border into Arizona," Bennett snapped.

You could use these line items as a topic for useful discussion about just what role the federal government needs to be playing in solving local or regional problems. You could, for example, discuss whether the feds should spend money to help states manage beavers, which do $100 million a year worth of real damage to farmland in North Carolina alone, or whether that money should come from cash-strapped state governments (and paid for by higher state taxes).

You could talk about whether the federal government should help in controlling the damage done to the health of real people by the air and water pollution coming from massive corporate-owned hog farms. You could ask: Since Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal complained about spending money on "something called volcano monitoring," does that mean that governors of states where volcanoes are a danger, like Hawaii and Washington, can beef about Jindal's state benefiting from "something called hurricane tracking"?

You could discuss, in short, whether we should change the country's motto from "E Pluribus Unum" to "I'm all right, Jack. Keep your hands off of my stack."

Or, as President Obama has done, you could admit that the spending bill is imperfect, sign it because we need to keep the government running, then propose ways to make the process better. Ways like requiring lawmakers to post their pet earmarks on their Web sites in advance and subjecting earmarks for private companies to competitive bidding. You know, you could act like a grownup.

But so far, Honorable John and his ilk seem to be interested only in the kind of bumper-sticker rhetoric that's plagued our discourse for the past few years, a thuggish, bully-boy sneering at things they don't understand. "Beavers! Crickets! Pig poop! HAW HAW HAW!"

Guess when you have eight houses like Honorable John, the problems of people in farm country are pretty funny. Funny enough, at least, to mock for political mileage. So who's the out-of-touch elitist again?