Friday, January 30, 2015

Friends in Hell Podcast

Here is the podcast, thanks to the generosity of Kevinn Gomez, a busy young guy aiming to make a mark in animation. I believe he will.

Friends in Hell Podcast Plus

Today at 4:30 PM Pacific Time, I will again be chatting with podcaster Kevinn Gomez. I have no idea what he'll ask, but I shall answer in some fashion and off we go.

TV animation writing has picked up. I have an assignment for Thomas Edison's Secret Lab and await a premise for Tom Ruegger on 7D.

Chapters from 50 Shades of Zane Grey are arriving hot off the copy editor's screen. We're looking at a launch next Friday, Feb. 6 at Amazon Kindle. So break out your e readers and stand by. I'll post a link to the book page as soon as Amazon vets my version. Or you can always check out my Amazon Author page.

Be chipper in all your tasks this day.

Thomas Edison's Secret Lab and friends. More info at kidscreen.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

TVIT with Actor Tom Wilson

My bad, but Wednesday night saw edition five of That Voiceover Improv Thing casting forth it's laugh net over our fine web. Featuring voice over artists performing an hour of comedy improv, the podcast featured guest Tom Wilson. Because you did not laugh Wednesday night does not mean you cannot laugh tonight, a Sunday, a slow night for laughs. Take advantage of podcasting technology and listen in.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

50ZG Almost Finished

Thanks to beta reader Ken for pointing out the stinking obvious: my parody of 50 Shades had morphed into two books. There was the straight ahead mocking of the 50 Shades protagonist and author E. L. James clunky, trite writing style. Then there was an old west story of corruption, ineptitude, and arrogance centered around a newspaper, a railroad and an Indian uprising that featured drama, action, betrayal, but few laughs.

I'm better now. I have culled out the 50 Shades material and am polishing it up for release in two weeks. Today that's a bit over 30,000 words or 100 pages. No soft cover. Ebook only.

But I'm keeping all the old west stuff because it could easily be a separate book. Friend and fellow bibliophile Dan lent me Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian. I don't know if that's the right model, but I'm taking a look at a few contemporary westerns to see how authors are tackling the genre now days. Of course, there are the old standbys such as Louis L'Amour and early Elmore Leonard.

Come Friday, January 30, I return to podcast Friends in Hell with host Kevinn Gomez. We will discuss—I don't know—50 Shades of Zane Grey, TV animation, my recent health issues, and whatever else strikes our fancy. More updates here on this very blog.

Rough Edges

Friday, January 16, 2015

Medical Billing Muck + 50ZG Update

Ah, the rich life of poor health.

Take this prescription to your pharmacy, go back for a refill, get charged full price, call the health insurance, wither on a phone tree, be shunted to dead ends, check their web site and learn there's no way to ask a question that isn't in the FAQ. Call back, dangle like a Christmas ornament on the phone tree, finally learn that you must obtain a document from your doctor to get a refill on medication. Punt to the doctor's insurance team. They must have a nurse sign off on the request. Check back and learn the nurse has placed said request in the pipeline. Ten days later receive an OK from the insurance.

This is what I face in the morning before writing a single word.

Okay, on to '50 Shades.' With less than a month to go, I have the home stretch in sight. Beta readers are devouring the early chapters. But a big tubby question remains:

Will readers care for a book mocking a best-seller if they aren't familiar with the original?

And who in the name of triangular crackers is Zane Grey?

My wife suggested I write a forward, explain that Grey, King of Western Sagas, wrote last century and left behind an experimental novel exploring psychological disorders, sexual awakening and Indian attacks set in the Old West. I have obtained a copy and ask the reader to note the similarities between this book and E. L. James' 50 Shades of Grey trilogy.

Might be too many elements piled too high for the casual reader.

However, I'm pressing on because it will be my first completed fiction novel. Like any parent, I love my child, even the misshapen ugly ones.

Here's my latest salute to 50 Shades.

h/t: Movieclips

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Charlie Hebdo Hit For Killer Satire

"100 lashes if you don't die laughing."
A long history of snark and disrespect finally doomed the editorial staff of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Two killers shot cops, then broke into the magazine's Paris offices and murdered the editor and other cartoonists.

Afterwards, pronouncing "the Prophet Muhammad avenged," the pair fled, pausing only to execute a wounded cop on the sidewalk. The killers are still at large.

If Charlie Hebdo had only mocked the Amish . . .

Radical Islam's tactic of kill-the-artist-silence-the-critic really got rolling twenty-six years ago when Salman Rushdie's novel, The Satanic Verses cheesed off the theocrat running Iran. In fact, Rushdie continues to cheese off contemporary theocrats. According to a Daily Mail article from last year:

"The Iranian clergy has revived Salmen Rushdie's death fatwa [Islamic religious decree]  25 years after it was issued over his blasphemous 'Satanic Verses.

On February 14, 1989, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini called on all Muslims to murder the award-winning author and anyone involved in the publication of his work.

This Friday, senior cleric Ahmad Khatami reminded worshippers at the Tehran Friday prayer that the 'historical fatwa' is as fresh as ever.'

Big whoop. Some crank with a beard far away said some words. Who cares?

"The religious ruling forced the award-winning writer into hiding . . . Hitoshi Igarashi, the Japanese translator, was stabbed to death in the face at work, a Norwegian publisher shot and an Italian publisher knifed."

What if Rushdie finally apologizes for causing offense? Would that be cool?

"[Cleric Khatami] added that even if Rushdie repents, it will not affect the sentence."

And, to sweeten the pot, there's a 3.3 million dollar bounty on Rusdie's head.

More recently, we had a Danish cartoonist who drew a Muslim wearing a turban-bomb
The Augean Stables
that became linked with blaspheming Muhammad. Riots, protests, burned in effigy, you saw it all on TV—except for images of the offending cartoons. Artist Kurt Westergaard now exists under death threat, was attacked in his home by a ax-wielding Muslim seeking "revenge," and otherwise lives a far different life than he did before testing the limits of radial Islamic tolerance.

Animated TV hit South Park ran afoul of a group calling itself Revolution Muslim after the hit series aired a show where the characters agonize over how to bring Muhammad to town without actually showing him. A writer on the Revolution Muslim website warned show creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker that for insulting the Prophet they invited the same fate as Theo Van Gogh. A Dutch director, Van Gogh criticised Islam's treatment of woman in a film. In retaliation, a Muslim shot him down on an Amsterdam street and then slit Van Gogh's throat.

Comedy Central reacted to this threat against their employees and:

". . . added more bleeps to the episode than were in the version delivered by South Park Studios, and that it was not permitting the episode to be shown on the studio's Web site. Comedy Central did not broadcast a repeat of the new "South Park" episode at midnight as it usually does, and instead showed a previous episode from this season."

(Here is the unbleeped segment.)

In light of Comedy Central's self-censorship, a Seattle artist published a satirical cartoon in support of free speech and the First Amendment. The cartoon called for a 'Everybody Draw Mohammad Day.'

Molly Norris was stunned as the Internet took up her call to depict the Prophet. (Some Facebook pages had 71,000 followers.) Norris tried to walk back her remarks, but found the Islamic death threats piling up like unpaid bills.

Free speech can equal fatwa.

And even if you're sorry, die infidel.

Upon FBI advice, Molly Norris self-disappeared, vanished from the life she'd known pre-cartoon.

Artists, writers, filmmakers, cartoonists; lives upended or ended; family and friends left behind or mourning with a hole that never fills. And our culture faces the withering away of artistic freedom as the undrawn, unwritten, unfilmed accumulate for fear of death from those who believe it good to slaughter blasphemers of their religion.

Do all Muslims hold to these views? No. Do some Muslims believe this? They sure do and today two of them acted on those beliefs.

What is the answer to this murderous evil?

To write, to film, to draw, to speak.

Especially if it cheeses off radical Islam.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

The Road Review

The RoadThe Road by Cormac McCarthy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Spare, no frills dystopian fiction about a man and his son wandering in a barren post-apocalyptic world, where the food shelves have been picked clean and life's career choices have narrowed to expert scrounger or cannibal. The protagonist slogs through this dark realm, desperate to infuse his young son with survival skills, and, more importantly, a sense of what "good guys" do.

McCarthy's lean prose borders on the poetic and the lack of backstory infuses the narrative with a grim immediacy. In this place there are no small deals and an incautious act can lead to a horrid end. And yet the boy, who never knew the old world, retains a spark of hospitality and humanity toward other survivors that his beleaguered father often jettisons in fear.  

On a journey to the sea, the characters lead us on a dour emotional experience. And yet the book closes on the one item left at the bottom of Pandora's Box—hope. A sobering read.

View all my reviews

Friday, January 02, 2015

Sony Hack Inside Job?

Image: Ship of Fools
Well, I was certainly quick off the mark in blaming the Norks and shaming Sony. But now information has surfaced that Sony may well have been hacked by a laid-off employee and certain disgruntled members of the hacking community.

This is the view of a Silicon Valley firm called Norse which provides intelligence to companies to prevent their software being hacked.

"Norse senior vice president Kurt Stammberger said the crime hinges on a woman he called 'Lena,' who he says worked in a 'key technical' position [at Sony] for 10 years but was sent packing in May during a large sweep of lay-offs."

As the new story goes, Lena sought revenge and hooked up with hackers for same.

However, other hands point to Russian and Chinese meddling.

And the FBI insists it's the same old Norks as before.

Read more at the Daily Mail.

h/t: Ace of Spades

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