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

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Perhaps he attended a scoring session?


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 (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!

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'Twas suggested I post a few episodes of my work in a pleasant spot. I've chosen here. Sadly, not everything I've written has y...