Monday, June 11, 2018

Instapundit Plug Kicks eBook Up to Top Spot

modern-senior.com
 Ed Driscoll over at Instapundit was kind enough to promote my prostate book, resulting in enough sales to lift the info-packed, non-fiction saga of surgery and its aftermath to the pinnacle of TWO categories.


And humble thanks to writer and actor Charles M. Howell IV for his Amazon review of the above book.

No original posts for awhile, and now I'm awash in thanks.

Life.



Update: This morning I was #1 in two of my Amazon categories and #3 in oncology.

Thanks again to Instapundit. (You'll have to scroll down now to find me.) His notice bolsters the old adage that you can't buy what you can't find.

Friday, June 01, 2018

San Diego Marathon Back in the Day

Another running nostalgia post as I recall the last marathon I ever ran ten years ago.  Additional material here and here. I continue to lope along three times a week, at roughly 3 miles an outing. I'm grateful to be able to do that little. Happy June!




After a marathon moving experience, I left for San Diego on Friday in search of the real thing. As the San Gabriel Team lacked a "sweeper," I'd volunteered for the job. Thus I had to enter the race as a participant, station myself toward the back and sweep along our runners and walkers, making sure they passed the cut-off points and crossed the finish line. I drove down with TNT mentors Ernesto and CJ. In the car, we had a long spirited discussion on international monetary policy, the existence of God, and driving while drunk.

As marathons go, San Diego was deceptively difficult. On the map, it appears you're running a pleasant course around Balboa Park, downtown, around Mission Bay, and finishing aboard the USMC Recruit Depot in Point Loma. However there were a number of long inclines and declines coupled with several miles on a slanted freeway that aggravated old running injuries. In the latter miles, IT bands, hamstrings, and calf pulls would be refreshed, feeling just as painful as the day on which they occurred.


Sunday arrived with an overcast sky. Our team milled around the start area. Pictures were snapped, trash bags worn to ward off the morning chill, and Port-a-Potties visited again and again. Steaks dropped by for a chat before setting off to run a sub-five hour race. Teammate Gordie had been the featured speaker the previous night at our send-off dinner. A cancer survivor, he was treated  like a rock star by other TNTers except Gordie was coherent and didn't smash anything.

6:30 AM. Crack! A cheer. The race had begun! We advanced 14 feet then stopped. Then a few more feet and stopped. Then walked. Then stopped. Seventeen minutes later, we crossed the start mat. NOW the race began.

Mile One: Lots of laughs and fun. There were many people dressed as Elvis, including CJ. These running Elvi hoped to set a record for the most Elvis-garbed runners in a marathon. (How did they do? I can't say.) In addition, a woman ran with an artificial leg, several men ran with large American or MIA flags, and a blind woman with a shirt that read "China Gal," speed-walked without a guide, tapping like mad against the curb.

Mile Two: We passed over the 163 Freeway and started south along the east side of Balboa Park. Nice and downhill. I ran ahead, marking the position and disposition of teammates.

Mile Three: Still east of the park. A man jumped into a sumac bush to urinate, but found the bush already taken. These are the gritty set-backs that must be overcome for a successful marathon.

Mile Four: Coaches Katie and Kate said 'hi' and 'bye' as everyone was doing Okay.

Mile Five: Downtown. We passed a Hooters where two desperate men were already lined up at 7:30 in the morning.

Mile Six: More loping back and forth between groups. Several of our injured had cautiously begun running.

Mile Seven: A long uphill climb on Broadway.  Coach Alfredo arrived to capture the moment in digital pictures. Away from the camera, I stopped to use a Port-a-Potty. The smell was most dire.

Mile Eight: We're on the 163 Freeway, heading north and uphill on slanted concrete. Aches and pains crop up. A man in a red Super Man cape tore up a hill as if pursued by a kryptonite dog, leaped a chain-link fence in several bounds, and disappeared behind a tree.

Mile Nine: Adios cloud cover. The sun emerged and the temperature rose instantly. Worse, it felt humid. We came upon TNT drag cheerleaders. There's nothing like screaming men with beards, wearing make-up and short dresses, to energize the weary.

Mile 10: We passed beneath University Avenue. There was a strange phenomena: locals strolling along the freeway. Apparently, the novelty of walking on a freeway was too rich to ignore. What fun San Diegans have!

Mile 11: Downhill. Huzzah!

Mile 12: Off the stinking freeway and west on Friars Road. To our left stretched a colossal mall. It was layered with smaller malls within the mother mall as well as satellite malls across the street. Truly, we were running through shopping Valhalla. Cut-off time loomed close.

Mile 13: Anna, Liz and several others picked up the pace. Other teammates nursed more serious hurts. They vowed to run again another day and stopped at the half-marathon. Coach Pete cheered us on, offering encouragement as well as an odd snack consisting of wheat thins floating in a pan of hot dog water. The encouragement was appreciated

Mile 14: I almost missed the cut-off. This would've have resulted in my appearing weak and foolish. Virginia and Stacy stood on a curb with a bag of Oreos. I took one and it disintegrated from the heat like a cookie dandelion.

Mile 15: We were now on the east side of Mission Bay, running north through parks and suburbs. Natasha had fallen behind her group of Sanchez and the sibling duo of Whitney and Kingsley. Her IT injury was acting up and she walked along, having been joined by a runner named Stu. Stu had completed ten marathons, five San Diego marathons, and had tickets to Pat Benatar that evening.

Mile 16: Hobbling to a curb, the woman with the artificial leg sat down. I caught up with Kirsten and Sonia, battling pain and fatigue, but determined to press on.

Mile 17: Heading back toward Natasha, I found she'd ditched Stu. We set out to pass the mile 19.4 cut-off. Miss this one and you were bussed to the finish area, given a half-marathon medal and sent on your jolly way. Our team manager, Tiffani, met us, wished us well, and successfully hit up several children for contributions to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Mile 18: Despite IT pain, Natasha kept up a brisk pace. She remarked that her first name spelled backwards was "Ah Satan." True. But I felt it was the marathon talking.

Mile 19. We made the cut-off. Stopping in a medical tent, Natasha had ice wrapped around her IT band with yards of packing tape. It unraveled within a mile as we headed up a steep bridge. In the far distance, downtown San Diego shimmered in the haze. Rapid tapping. We turned as China Gal sped past, cane arcing from curb to pavement like a metronome.

Mile 20: Sea World was nearby. I'd been running and walking since early morning. I fantasized about dynamite fishing and Shamu.

Mile 21: Coach Sharla  showed up somewhere around here. It was getting into the afternoon. We turned onto a dirt road, curving along some tidal inlet that smelled like dead sea lions. Trucks were dismantling water stations. Did I mention this was a rock 'n roll marathon with bands every mile? They were striking their gear. In fact, there was no shade and we sensed it had also been packed up.

Mile 22: Coaches Karla and Alfredo met us with ice for Natasha's head. As I was an unpaid volunteer, it was felt ice would be wasted on me.

Mile 23: All around, runners hobbled and limped. We walked by a water station that had everything but water.  A street sweeping machine gobbled up the flattened cups, chasing us under a freeway and out again into the sun. Without question, we were at the butt end of the marathon.

Mile 24: Bleak concrete overpasses; scraggly bushes. We passed China Gal, tapping along, locked into pace.

Mile 25: Jets roared overhead from San Diego International Airport. To our left, we passed the Marine base where I went through boot camp 36 years ago. I wasn't in a nostalgic mood. Natasha's IT band hurt so much she was biting a piece of wood to keep from yelling. China Gal tapped past.

Mile 26: We're on the base. The end is near. Natasha vowed that no matter what happened, she wasn't finishing behind China Gal. We started running and passed that tapping machine.

Mile .2: But China Gal was a Terminator and would not quit. Tapping sounded from behind like the clock the crocodile swallowed in Peter Pan. We passed a guy with a "I Wish I Weren't Here" tee-shirt. We passed two chick in grass skirts. We crossed the finish line in seven hours and twenty-eight minutes.

But our adventures continued. The finish area was practically deserted, covered with trash and looking like the parking lot of a rock concert. We got our medals then tried to figure a way to reach the UPS trucks where our gear was stored. There was no crowd to follow, just wide open areas surrounded by fences and garbage. I climbed over a metal barrier near the trucks. Natasha and I tried dismantling the barrier, despite the fact there was an opening about twenty feet away. Eventually we spotted the opening, got our gear, stumbled over to the TNT sign-out area and called it a marathon.

That night there was celebration and drinking. (For some, a good deal of drinking.) Many first timers walked with the "marathon shuffle," a post-race gait that makes 28-year-olds look like doddering wrecks. CJ finished as Elvis and Ernesto finished despite a bum hamstring. Teammate Chris ran a phenomenal race, crossing the mat in 3:43. (On the 2008 highlight video, he's pumping up the crowd at 2:37.) Nevertheless, all who persevered and finished the marathon/half-marathon were exceptional.

Well done, Team.

Friday, May 04, 2018

Breaking Four Hours at the Eugene Marathon

(A decade ago witnessed the zenith of my distance running career. Back in December '07, I signed up for Eugene with the goal of running 26.2 miles in under four hours. From then until the 4th of May, I trained with that achievement in mind, working harder than I've ever prepared for anything before or since.

In September, I injured my left knee training for the California International Marathon and, what I hoped, would be my qualifying time for the Boston Marathon. I've never run more than six miles since then. Now, then: my goal is to run another marathon, regardless of the time. Then I write a book entitled "From Marathon to Couch Potato and Back." Always begin with a title. Time will tell. Enjoy this repost from May 2008.)





Light shifted subtly over the Willamette River. You sensed God working the sliders on his heavenly lighting board, blending shade and tone while sipping coffee from an immense mug. As marathon day began in Eugene, temperatures hung around the low 40s. I was reluctant to leave the warmth of our rented RAV 4. But MDW (My Darling Wife) pointed out that no man ever raced crouched over a hot air vent. So it was out into the cold near Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus. MDW vowed to meet me at mile 18. There I'd planned to leave my water belt: a symbolic act to "lighten the load" for the arduous last miles where head games are mandatory. Meanwhile, I lined up behind other shivering runners at a Port-O-Potty.

Back in January, around the time I began training for this race, the wife of a friend died battling leukemia. I asked Peter if he'd mind my dedicating the marathon to Rosina. He and the kids were cool, but I had forgotten to bring anything. Fortunately, MDW grabbed some art supplies and cobbled together a fine inscription for me to wear. As I ran that day, spectators called out Rosina's name, encouraging me to keep going for her. In those moments, it seemed Rosina was present but just out of sight, as if she'd gone to fetch something from the car.

As to the course, imagine a drawing of a bolo tie such as gentlemen might wear in a square dance. Now imagine that same bolo tie drawn by an angry man. This will give you an idea of the route's shape. The opening miles led out from the campus, up a hill, down another, then into a park area where the metal tips would be if it really were a bolo tie. Doubling back to the U of O campus, the course led up another long hill, down to the Willamette River and across. Instead of a turquoise clasp, Autzen Stadium provided the center piece around which the race swirled, looping along bike paths around the Willamette. Tree-lined and tranquil, the river flowed under quaint foot bridges. The finish line was just outside the stadium where you could purchase bolo ties and other treasured souvenirs.






Finally, we go. Despite last-minute wavering, my goal was to break four hours. That meant a pace of 9:10, 49 seconds per mile less than my previous best in Phoenix. Since January 2007, my only marathon had been an extended walk in Chicago. The night before, I'd phoned coaches Jimmy and Kate for a little advice. They told me many useful, savvy things that I promptly forgot. But what I recalled was to stay on pace and save something for the end.

The first mile led uphill. I ran way too slow (9:40). I wanted to sob like a weepy old man, but didn't.

Mile 2: Mostly downhill.

Mile 3: More downhill. Now I was almost a minute ahead of pace. Cool.

Miles 4 and 5: Running the dangling string section of the bolo tie. Ate some yummy goo.

Mile 6: Doubling back to campus through Amazon Park. Still slightly ahead of pace.

Mile 7: Up a long hill. I slowed again, keeping my heart beat even. Runners blasted by, huffing and puffing. I smugly watched them pass.

Miles 8 & 9: Back through the campus, then across the Willamette on a foot bridge. At one point, I thought my legs were buckling. But it was only the bridge wobbling from impacting runner feet. Still, I hurried across.

Mile 10: On the bike trails along the river; more yummy goo with double caffeine.

Mile 11: We'd been running mixed in with a half-marathon. Now the half-marathoners veered off to finish their race. I remarked to a woman next to me, "I thought they'd never leave."

Mile 12: MDW surprised me at 12. I was still ahead of pace, feeling great. Perhaps I'd made too much of this marathon business? We confirmed our date for 18.

Mile 13.1: Half-way assessment. I was at 1:56:52, about an 8:55 pace. A little brisk, but no strain. Figuring I could hold it a bit longer, I decided to press on.

Mile 14: I encountered the Clopper. A lean man in his 60s with short, silvery hair, he slapped the ground loudly with every stride like a farm horse walking on cobblestones. Whock-whock-whock-whock! The sound grated. I sped past. But since I was walking a minute every seven minutes, there was no escape. I'd prepare to run again when I'd hear whock-whock-whock coming up behind.

Mile 15: What was on the menu? Surprise, it was another double-caffeine goo! (Damn the Clopper!)

Mile 16: Holding steady two and three minutes ahead of pace. I was looking at a solid finish. I uped my run/walk ratio to 8x1.

Mile 17: Something happened here but I can't remember.

Mile 18: MDW took my water belt after I washed down the last of my salt.

Mile 19: I finally ditched the Clopper. Hurray! Oh, God, hurray! First little twinges of leg pain.

Mile 20: Back across the Willamette. We're now running on the south side bike trails. I was still ahead, 3:00:06, but my pace had dropped to 9:00. My legs were beginning to feel a tad thick.

Mile 21: Now began the Track of Broken Dreams, better known as the last miles of a marathon. I dropped a full minute.

Mile 22: Dropped another minute. The same effort took tons of energy. My calves felt like iron knots. The four-hour pace group leader, whom I hadn't seen all day, breezed past with several runners in tow.

Mile 23: Leaking seconds badly, I dropped intervals and ran. All around, marathoners were breaking down: a young, bearded guy fast-hobbled on an injured foot; a husky Asian man cramped out in pain; a girl in tangerine shorts ran backwards to ease the ache; a guy in a floppy hat staggered off the trail and heaved a great spray of liquid. He heaved again and again. Meanwhile, sunlight shone through the trees and the Willamette flowed serenely.

Mile 24: For the moment, I'd plugged the time leakage and was almost exactly on pace, but fading fast. My hip flexors felt as light as a parking structure. Walking at a water station, I ate jelly beans and realized I enjoyed walking. Forcing myself to run, I focused on a large man in a red T-Shirt and passed him.

Mile 25: On pace, but maintaining the effort brought a bonus hurt. A side stitch arrived as I passed a balding runner in a blue and gold singlet. His feet quickened as he tried to catch me. Pretending I was in the Olympics staving off a Kenyan, I moved ahead to the next runner.



Mile 26: Reaching the shadow of Autzen Stadium, I was roughly on pace, but gassed. MDW waved and cheered. All the blood in my upper body had migrated to my legs. Woozy and light-headed, I lumbered along on auto pilot.

Mile .2: An orange snow fence lined the final kilometer. On the race clock ahead, red LED numbers inched into the four-hour district. I tried recalling how many seconds had passed before I crossed the start mat. However calculations were oafish folly as I lacked blood north of my waist.

I made it by six seconds: 3:59:53.

MDW helped me to a curb where I sat and stared at nothing for several minutes. I was fortunate to have reached my goal. Nevertheless, I finished what I set out to do. Plus, I honored Rosina and pumped money into the Eugene economy so they might purchase yet more commemorative bolo ties.

It's been two days since the marathon, we're back home and life proceeds. We have to move in a few weeks. And there's still the TNT Summer Team and preparing them for their first marathon. Oh yeah, and finding a job. And jury duty.

But today I'll rest and eat pizza and think about running another marathon in a few months.

That'll be fun.



(Start line photo by Rick Russell. All others by MDW Joy.)

Note: A few additional observations and comments.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Book Trailer Basks in Anonymity




Well, what's the answer? I can write books, but I really don't have the zest to market them. Sad, pathetic, self-defeating, true. I will create book videos—and have—and I will maintain a number of social media outposts, but I lack all enthusiasm for the marketing grind. (That may have something to do with once working as a copywriter.)

It's not like I retired a millionaire from TV animation. Far from it. We're so mired in debt, I feel like the federal government. All I lack is a printing press.

But there is an upside, a big one: at day's end: I don't have to take notes from executive idiots.

So buy a copy of the prostate book or not.
Buy one of my other titles, or not.
View one of my other videos, or not.

Right now, I need to finish my next book.


Saturday, April 14, 2018

For Whom Art Bell Tolled

Tales From Out There
With sadness, I learned of Art Bell's passing on Friday the 13th. His paranormal-themed radio show was perfect for a time when I drove more and my nights were late. (Along with Phil Hendrie), Art made 90's radio sizzle.

Back in 2013, I sang Bell's praises as he returned to the air. But his new show was a faint shadow, a wispy shade of the old, with Art carrying more of the conversational ball, instead of deftly drawing out his eccentric guests as before, allowing them full scope to expound their non-traditional views.

I only wish there were a way Art could interview himself from the Beyond. I'm sure he'd say, "If what I'm saying is true, this is amazing."


Note: Actually, I got things backwards re. Art's 2013 show. He carried the ball less, letting guests ramble and not channeling their chat into bite-sized entertaining chunks.

George Noory, who is driving the Coast-to-Coast paranormal/supernatural van these days, seems like a competent pro, but lacks Art's showmanship. There was only one William Castle. There was only one Art Bell.

R.I.P. from West of the Rockies. 

Friday, April 06, 2018

Sucks to Be a Settler in 1860s Kansas


Dog Soldier Justice: The Ordeal Of Susanna Alderdice In The Kansas Indian War by Jeff Broome
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Historian and author John H. Monnett notes in the Forward that "over the past two or three decades it has not only been unpopular but unwise to write about the period of Indian resistance in American history in terms other than pro-Indian. Monnett goes on to say that, "Ubiquitous in these histories . . . is the obligatory litany of sins committed by white missionaries, Indian Agents, politicians, military leaders, and Protestant reformers . . . to write otherwise [is] to invite charges of racism."

Acknowledging brutality on both sides, the book concerns itself with the fate of white settlers in Kansas attacked by Cheyenne (and Sioux) warriors during the period 1867 - 1869. In particular, we learn of the destruction of the Alderdice family by raiding Cheyenne in 1869. Author Broome draws heavily on narratives contained in federal Indian depredation claims filed in the National Archives.

As settlers sadly discovered, the government would—allegedly—pay for stolen livestock but not gang-raped wives, or four-year-old children festooned with arrows. Depredation claims were often denied for technicalities, or because Congress failed to appropriate money.

I thought the book a bit thin on the actual details of Susana Alderdice's ordeal, though we're invited to grimly speculate based on the treatment of other female captives.

Overall, an interesting work detailing the fate of innocents, their stories adrift in a backwater of American history.

View all my reviews

Friday, March 30, 2018

JP Mac Spring Cleaning


These Books and More Will Brighten Your Spring!
No plugs in over a month. What's become of me? I must be crazed for a mug of Happy Clown Breakfast Soup. Nevertheless, stop by my Amazon page and engorge on the festive writings of JP Mac. I would, but I'm me. (Nifty image by All Author.)

Saturday, March 24, 2018

JP Mac's Four Rules of Writing


dplindbenchmark.com

I distinguish not a whit between fiction and non.

As I am now eight weeks into Webless Sundays—no Internet; computer turned off—and two weeks into my four new rules, I feel confident enough to share.

RULE #1

No Web Browsing Before Writing

A valuable tool, this Internet, but also an amazing time suck. Days have dawned when I've sat down to write, decided to "just check my email," and emerged two hours later, not a word written, and wondered what the deuce just happened, only to repeat the exact sequence of actions the next day.

RULE #2

No Web Browsing While Writing

There is a time for everything. Each day I allot myself several hours specifically for writing. That is the moment to put words on the page, not check the news, or social media, or my Amazon sales—depressingly moribund most of the time. Social media was designed to suck you in and keep you scrolling and it's real good at that. When writing, I write, turning off my web browser and leaving it mute.

RULE #3

No Research While Writing

Insidious. I'm writing a horror-fantasy book with an Iraq War back story involving troop deployments, wounds, genetic engineering and coal mining. Any one of those topics can metastasize into hours of link chasing. (Not counting visits to social media) At day's end, I'm exhausted, have written very little, and must face the fact that, at first draft stage, I might not even use any of the day's catch. I set aside separate research times for specific topics.

RULE #4

No Rewriting First Drafts

Rewriting the first draft has a name: the second draft. Perhaps I should say, "No Rewriting while writing first drafts." Such a practice is a bad habit I fell into; clearly a form of perfectionism and a fear that the finished work won't be adequate—hence not finishing. I've done this on two other book drafts and absolutely trashed my motivation for completion. Without even reaching the last page, I dart back to the first and tidy it up, plugging in foreshadowing and doing all the tasks normally reserved for later drafts. Sure, I've got a shiny chapter or two, but I sacrifice the overall story, losing spontaneity along with the delightful plot surprises  Mr. Subconscious will deliver if I'm not mindlessly polishing the same quarter panel over and over again. 

The last two weeks I've written more, Web browsed less, and ended the day eager to return to work tomorrow, not burned out on skateboard fails, cute cat videos, and watching old movie clips. 

I'll update my progress with this quartet of prescriptions as spring progresses.

Monday, March 12, 2018

What I Learned About Running a Decade Ago

As healthy as I was back then, I'm glad those days are past. Between unloading the house and training for the Eugene Marathon, I was awash in stress, stress, and a heaping order of stress.

From March 30, 2008
Busy with selling the house. We have become guests in our own home, leaving when prospective buyers arrive. We like to set out little treats such as bowls of steaming corn beef hash in every room. Our realtor has asked us to stop doing that.

My assistant coaching continues. Yesterday I ran with different pace groups. You pick up a lot about people on long runs. For example, at least three of my teammates were college athletes: two swimmers and a tennis player. Another teammate works for an elevator company. (Apparantly, you're in more danger from an elevator falling "up" because of counterweight problems then you are of crashing down to the basement.) Another runner owns a Ph.D and moonlights as director of a Civil War brass band.

Big open house today. I must go and prepare the hash.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Freak-a-Con Rolling Forward



Say it out loud only imagine there's a bad ass echo.

Livestream with Paul Rugg, Tom Ruegger and others Thursday, March 15, 2018 at 5:00 PM Pacific (8:00 PM Easter Time) on Facebook.

There'll be videos and contests and audience questions and anecdotes from the show they still talk about when the subject arises of a fascinating show that only lasted 24 episodes. Freakazoid is almost here!

On the subject of Warner Bros. from back in the day, I've had several people ask me if Steven Speilberg ever attended the Animaniacs voice recording sessions.

NO

Perhaps he attended a scoring session?

NO

In the day, Speilberg used to make his movies in threes, back-to-back-to back, then take time off. When Animaniacs began, he'd finished Hook and was in pre-production, then on location in Hawaii for Jurassic Park, followed immediately by work on Schindler's List. (We'd get faxes from him from in Poland, covered with frost.)

So Speilberg was often out of the country, and otherwise involved in the task of creating motion pictures. The idea that he'd pop by the remote, tricky-to-reach, studio where we initially recorded the Warners is mere internet chum. 

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Animaniacs Podcast Features Gabby Author


alligator.org (Good article there on Kids' WB.)
All I do is talk about Animaniacs, rebooted Animaniacs, and the Secret Room at Warner Brothers where people prayed they'd never be sent. And, of course, I carry on about my ebooks and how wonderful they are, and how everyone should buy one or two, until either Joey, Nathan or Kelly told me to be quiet and sounded an air horn that hurt everyone's ears.

As you can see, it was quite an event, baring in mind I tend to exaggerate a mite. Find out for yourself this Sunday, March 4 at Retrozap or via Twitter or iTunes. The show fires up at 6 PM Eastern Time/3PM Pacific, then lives forever on the Web. Lend your ears and enjoy!


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Kirkus Review Rates Cancer Book


Available at this place.
My cancer and my book, if you must probe and drag the truth from me. Kirkus was quite positive. For instance, they said:

"Mac's ordeal is refreshingly leavened, though, by his unique brand of dark, sarcastic humor, as when he laments an unromantic byproduct of surgical recovery ("Wearing a big wet man diaper chilled my passion"). This often charming remembrance will leave readers with a new appreciation for good health and a more optimistic outlook when things go awry."

To read it all, visit the page at Kirkus Reviews.

In Other News

In "Prostate," I touch on our dwindling finances. Recently, I was shredding some old tax documents from 2010 and was quite amazed to see how rapidly my wife and I burned through the proceeds of a house sale. (Minus a condominium, new vehicle, and a pair of laptops.) In '10, you could observe the last of the water circling the drain. Animation work consisted of a few meetings on two projects that went nowhere. In between, I published a few short fiction pieces, sold some stand-up material, and pitched a video game company to hire me as a scenario writer. This was despite having never played a video game, but, I figured, I'd never written animation before until I was hired. The game company said 'go away,' but with more finesse. 

In addition, I wrote a few articles for a now-defunct website. At the same time, I'd stalled on completing a first draft on what-would've-been my first novel. This stalling business on big writing projects continues to dog me. But like a fine wine, I sit in a dark cellar, covered with dust and cobwebs. After awhile, I finish something.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Do Your Doody for Valentine's Day


Author JP Mac
Roses are red, the jury is blue. Learn why.

Jury Doody to be precise. This fun Kindle non-fiction tale of crime, punishment and clock-watching is less than a dollar and more than a match for your short-reading pleasure. Surprise someone, anyone really, but a loved one might be best, with this fast-paced story of citizens sitting in judgment on a peer, showing you in detail how the justice sausage is made.

Still in awe over Sunday's book sale tsunami. At one point on Amazon Kindle, I had three separate books at #1, #2, and #99 in their categories. Splendid work, thanks to Oregon Muse, Hans Schantz and others for their stellar promotion.

Back to the keyboard.  

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Sunday Morning Book Thread Bonanza

dclibrary.org


For eclectic readers. On today's Sunday Morning Book Thread, arch sifter of stories Oregon Muse saluted my recent work on tussling with prostate cancer plus two other tales from the JP Mac canon

They Took My Prostate, Hallow Mass, Jury Doody Plugged


There. That's what happened. What manner of Web clout does this Oregon Muse fellow possess? Well, Hallow Mass rises on the Amazon rankings while They Took My Prostate: Cancer, Loss, Hope is currently:


And .99 Jury Doody is a lordly:


So thanks to Oregon Muse, as well as scientist-author Hans G. Schantz for his various pro-Mac tweetings and retweetings.

Choose among these works for your Sunday reading pleasure. I would if I weren't me.

Friday, February 09, 2018

Kaiju Rising in Time for Pacific Rim II


Kaiju Rising: Age of MonstersKaiju Rising: Age of Monsters by Tim Marquitz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

'Strange beasts' abound in this illustrated collection, offering the kaiju-aficianado a Godzilla-sized selection of monstrous tales.

Among these giant creature short stories, one may sample homages to "The Lottery," alt-histories, several Pacific Rim type punch-ups, peppered with a number of post modernist tropes and themes. Out of 23 stories, the gold to pyrite ratio is high, though the total amount might've been pruned to avoid kaiju fatigue.

My favorites included "A Turn of the Card" by James Swallow where there's more than mayhem afoot when clashing kaijus battle in the rubble of London. In Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam's "The Flight of the Red Monsters," a woman keen for vengeance finds revenge comes in different colors. And "Big Dog" by Timothy W. Long shows us how war makes for disparate companions aboard a kaiju-combat machine.

And here comes Pacific Rim II.

  

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Vote For My Prostate Cancer Book Cover


BIG BOLD YELLY FONT!   

If you liked the cover of my book,  They Took My Prostate: Cancer Loss Hope, please vote for it for the Cover of the Month contest on AllAuthor.com! Click under the potentially winning image to vote!

CLICK HERE!!                

Click below image to Vote! You can, you know! 

 I really said the word 'vote quite a bit. Forgive me. There's a certain excitement in the possibility of acquiring cheap digital kudos.
              
 Currently:

               
    NOTE: Like an astounding oaf, I failed to check the link before posting. It didn't work. Now the little text below the image works. And I didn't understand why my vote count was so low.            

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Chi Running, The Shallows and Fr. Elijah


Two reviews, no waiting as I slowly hone my critical style. The Shallows could be an absolutely life-changing book if I can focus long enough to remember the contents.

artimagesfrom.com

I haven't mentioned running in a good long while. 2018 marks the third year in a row of easy 3x a week runs after my knee surgeon pronounced me benched for good back in '09. I credit the Chi Running program as it taught me how to land with minimum impact on my weak knee. Despite the exercise, I've noticed a tendency to put on weight, starting around Halloween when I eat most of the Trick or Treat candy. Then Thanksgiving and Christmas arrive with gastronomical goodies, then I start losing weight in January by giving up sweets and carbs. Disney would call such a pattern the Cycle of Life. I would call it the Cycle of an Ill-Disciplined Fattie.

Oddly enough, I've discovered I can walk at a faster sustained pace than I can run. So, for now, I"m walking briskly around a local golf course, pausing only to pick up the odd golf ball sliced onto the bridal trail by form-challenged duffers. A pleasant mid-week to all.



  The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our BrainsThe Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Skim more, ponder less as "the transformative power of new communication technologies alters our neural pathways." Using studies to bolster his point, the author holds that our minds are changing as they adapt to an ocean of easily-accessible information streaming over our phones and computers. This alteration threatens users' ability to think deeply or analyze because the "Web has scattered attention, parched their memory or turned them into compulsive nibblers of info snacks."

Neither luddite nor scold, Carr reasons calmly that our technologies are changing us to better adapt to their nature. According to research, both young and old Web surfers find their neurons and synapses effected by heavy Web interaction, resulting in "shrinking vocabulary [that becomes] hackneyed and formulaic with less flexible syntax."

Carr feels we are seduced by Internet "benefits of speed, efficiency and desirability." Losing the knack of deep thinking "the tumultuous advance of technology could . . . drown the refined perceptions, thoughts, and emotions that arise only through contemplation and reflection."

Having experienced the drawbacks of prolonged Web usage, Carr explains what actions he took to focus enough to write this book, and offers hope that a more aware approach to the Internet may be on the horizon.

Written seven years ago, this book is accessible to the general reader, and remains increasingly relevant today.


View all my reviews Elijah in JerusalemElijah in Jerusalem by Michael D. O'Brien
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Carmelite Father Elijah once again attempts to unmask a rising world leader who may well be the antichrist. Picking up where "Father Elijah: An Apocalypse" ended, the hunted priest enters Jerusalem as a fugitive, wanted for a murder he didn't commit. Accompanied by fellow Carmelite Brother Enoch, Father Elijah finds himself pitted against spiritual and temporal forces, his own doubt, and the depressing knowledge that his mission may end in failure and a gruesome death.

With intriguing glimpses into the play of good and evil in human souls, the book often digresses into the backstories of seemingly incidental characters. And while these encounters propel Father Elijah forward to his destiny, they often slow the narrative in what is a fairly short book.

Still, this sequel is a fascinating, compelling window into Catholic eschatology as well as the power of faith, obedience and prayer in the face of hostility and disbelief.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Foundation Features My Prostate Cancer Story


RelaxingWhiteNoise
Written by award-winning science writer Janet Farrar Worthington, this article addresses the incontinence problem many men face post-op from prostate cancer surgery. I'd say the story was a pisser, but why overdo matters?

Here's an excerpt of the article from the website of the Prostate Cancer Foundation:

"Incontinence after Radical Prostatectomy sucks. But for nearly all men, it goes away. For the very small percentage in whom it doesn't, there is help.

JP Mac (John P. McCann) is an Emmy-award winning animation writer who worked for Warner Bros. and Disney, and a novelist. he is also very funny. 

So, when he wrote a short ebook about his experience with prostate cancer — including his diagnosis in 2014 at age 61, the rush to find the right treatment and get it done before his health insurance was going to expire, his laparoscopic-robotic Prostatectomy and the complications afterward, and his five-month battle to recover urinary continence after the surgery — he could legitimately have written a soap opera, or maybe even a tear-jerker; but he didn't.

Instead, his ebook has a title that sounds like 1950s pulp fiction: They Took My Prostate: Cancer, Loss Hope. It's not "Prostate Cancer Lite." and it doesn't minimize what he or anyone else has gone through to get back to normal after radical prostatectomy. Far from it; in fact, his 'short, hopeful essay' is a testament to what it takes to recover from this difficult but life-saving surgery: a balanced perspective, a good sense of humor, a great support system, and plain old hard work and persistence."

Read the rest here.

No Star Like a Ghost Star


Ghost Star (Ghost Star Adventures)Ghost Star by Roger Eschbacher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Young Galen Bray faces trouble by the gross. Pursued by the murderous alien Mohk, he pilots his space craft down an interstellar rabbit hole only to discover a lost civilization, his past and his destiny.

This book seemed designed for younger readers, with some of the characters a tad thin. Also, the familiar archetypes peopling this thriller might've been tweaked to separate them out from the usual space opera tropes of warrior women, clever robots, and evil-for-evil's-sake villians.

Nevertheless, the story's alien characters and locations are well-handled by the author who keeps his world accessible to the reader. In addition, there's action aplenty, a likable protagonist, droll humor and enough twists to keep the narrative speeding along. A fun, enjoyable read.

View all my reviews

Friday, January 12, 2018

Fast-Food Robots to Write Animaniacs


whiskeytangotexas


Studios Confident in Controversial Decision


Robots originally designed for a hot dog chain will be reprogrammed to write new episodes of Animaniacs. "Officially, this is unofficial," said industry insider Tony Hurl. "But the studios are really amped over this perfect synergy of technology and creativity."

According to sources, the Osprey Meat Company ("We Make Hot Dogs from Birds") decided against expanding their brand into California due to high taxes. That left the firm saddled with nine Golem-5 Public Interface Units. Popular in Ecuador and parts of the Rocky Mountains, the Golem-5s interact with the public, taking customer orders and upselling specials of the day.

Said Hurl, "Certain Hollywood big shots heard the 'bots were available and snatched them away from Burger King. I mean, these are sophisticated machines with a pretty fair vocabulary. Studio tech staff were confident they could reprogram a Golem-5 from saying, 'Would you care for additional onion rings?' to 'Faboo,' or 'Of course I'm cute,' or 'That'll leave a mark.'"

uproxx

Reports indicate that Osprey Meat Company is negotiating to partner with Warner Bros. and Amblin. Hurl thought such a move likely, citing marketing potential. "Imagine the end of a Pinky and the Brain episode:
Pinky: What'll we do tomorrow night, Brain?
Brain: The same thing we do every night, Pinky: enjoy a fine Osprey Hot Dog with additional onion rings."

While the Golem-5s are a substantial upfront cost, Hurl believes the studios can amortize the outlay over several years via the elimination of writing staff salaries. "It's in the cards," said Hurl, "Eventually, robots will replace the entire crew of an animated show except for executives, junior executives, and executive assistants. Maybe the receptionist, but don't count on it."

geeksofcolor



Friday, January 05, 2018

Boyle Book Broaches Environmental Issues


When the Killing's DoneWhen the Killing's Done by T.C. Boyle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Who owns the animals? Is it possible to restore an island to a pre-human state? Such as are a few of the questions raised in this story of Park Services employee Alma Takesue and activist businessman David Lajoy as they battle one another over the eradication of rats and pigs from the Channel Islands off the California coast.

Boyle's work is multi-generational, layered, well-researched. This provides a depth to the narrative that often diminishes the characters' concerns and squabbles in comparison to the unrelenting power of nature dominating the world of the story.

Plenty of twists and turns enliven a rapidly moving plot. Boyle's sense of the absurd lightens the mood at key moments. This is a powerful book, underscoring life and the will to live.

View all my reviews

Unhappy New Year

globe-views.com

A Perfect Storm of Maladies Mars 2018 Start


Not that expectations were all that high for me in the coming year, but he who controls the fonts controls blog emotions, or some such matter. In any case, remember that flu I mentioned at the end of my last post? (Probably not.) The bastard virus lingers like distant relatives with no other place to go. Dogging me in non-flu-like ways.

If you've read, They Took My Prostate, you'll know that my sleep apnea requires flowing air through my nostrils for me to sleep. Not so easy when the nose is clogged. Plus I'm coughing up phlegm and need to roll over and spit it out into a styrofoam cup. (Never look inside.) And since I have no prostate, a deep racking cough results in a fun urine squirt. I'm getting hammered top and bottom.

But the worst is no sustained sleep. Who do I lash out against?

If it's not on the upswing by Monday, I'll see the doctor. Until then, it's just me and the Circus Channel in the quiet hours before dawn.