The Book Market…. and why it’s chaotic…

Do not take my word for it. Just think about this observation and make your own conclusions. I have no real reason or even a clue why it is this way. Maybe there’s some industry secret that makes sense and the senior’d Editor or Publishers would get in my face and say, “yeah, duh dude!!” (I used two exclamation marks because that means it’s more exclamatory than just one, right?)

It’s been over a decade since I bought my first e-reader. When the Amazon Kindle entered the market, it basically dominated. It was a nice piece of engineering. It was CHEAP! And it with the power of Amazon books behind it, the sky was the limit. I remember when the big book sellers all had one: B&N had the Nook, Borders had the Kobo. I really struggled with which to buy. Because like everything in America, they were proprietary. I wanted something more universe. I really didn’t like how I had to buy my books from one business —all the time. In the end, my mother solved it by buying all Kindles one year for Christmas. Why? They were the cheapest and technically the largest source of books.

I was so excited. Don’t get me wrong. I love books. And when I say books, I mean real books. You know, paper, ink, the smell of a printing press. But, like the iPod, I was amazed and fascinated by the efficiency to carry around every song I owned and not have to worry about a back pack full of CDs and Cassette tapes. Now I had something for books too. Wow. No more rooms full of books. No more storage units filled with books. No more sleepless nights thinking where I put that one book that I now want to re-read. Yet, there was a problem. A very big one.

The cost! I would literally have to rebuy all my books. Or I could just simple move forward with digital only books. And that was a problem just as big. I love books. I want to hold them and smell them. So, okay, I’ll just buy most books digitally and then the favorites I would buy the real deal. Ok. That might work. Then it didn’t…. see, digital books should be cheaper. And when I say cheaper, I mean A LOT cheaper. And unfortunately they weren’t. Even a basic knowledge of commerce knows that a book you pay $26 for is really only getting about $6 to the publisher and $3 to a writer. (And cost of printing isn’t even factored here for ease of understanding). Because the universal rule of business is 50% as in everything is purchased at 50% to make the seller money. So the book is printed and sold to Wholesaler who buys book for around half the cost they’ll sell it to a Bookstore. Then that bookstore needs to double it so they can pay the rent, employees and make a profit. What if? The book never has to be printed. This cuts out a bunch of middle men and costs. The book never has to go to a printer. There’s no paper, no trees sacrificed to feed the machines. The books are not stacked on pallets and stored in warehouses (rent of warehouse costs money). Nor is the book put on trucks and trains and shipped to the Wholesalers warehouse. No gas used, no salary of a truck driver (or train driver…huh engineer?), no wholesale warehouse rent. Then those books would have to be back on a truck or train to ship to the bookseller. See where I’m going here?

There’s a ton of cost in printing a book and just getting it where it needs to be. But digital doesn’t have that. I mean its basically just electrons and photons right? How do you put a price on tiny particles of energy. I guess if you wanted to get picky you could say how much does it cost to transmit the file of about 1MB to a user. There’s the small cost of the user’s internet and electric bill. The publisher or writer has to store the book on a server or hard drive that costs money to buy or maintenance. But isn’t that literally pennies. I mean like 5 cents or a dime! So I’ve concluded that a book, with the original profit margin in place, should sale for about $4.99. Split that 50/50 with the writer / publisher…. huh? HUH? Sounds good. Maybe the publisher worries about lost sales buy sharing digital files?….

Now my RANT and gripe. Why in hell are digital books more than paper books? Clearly this is a big issue and why digital books will fail. Unlike digital songs which went to a very cost effective (cheap) model. .99cents a song…. So why can’t books do something similar and stay around the 4.99 price model? You know why I’m still buying tons of paper books to my regret. Because the books I’d most likely buy digitally are usually $14.99 and I can get the Hardcover for 12.99 (or a soft cover for 8.99). Sorry, I’m not JK Rowling and I don’t have $billions to burn. Is it me or is this just backasswards??

to be continued…..maybe….

Analog writing….

So I watched a documentary the other day….

It was about the resurgence of typewriters in the writing community. The film also spotlighted the notable writers that have and continue to use vintage and trusted typewriters.

I grew up in a time that I was given a typewriter as a child. My mother inspired me to write my stories. She even allowed me to type on her electric IBM at the office and she was lucky enough to take one home. Back then I just hunted and pecked my way around the keyboard. When it was time to go to High School, the one class I had to take and there was no debate (according to my mother) was typing. She said it would come in handy.

See, she knew that typewriters (and eventually ‘word processors’) was the future of my academic writing. And it would one day the tool to write my book(s).

When I was a small child, I remember my mother going to the community college to take a typing class. Because she was a single mother and poor, she asked the professor if she could bring me and sit in the far corner of the room. The professor took a great risk and trusted that I wouldn’t be one of those children that disrupted the class. I took my coloring books and notebooks. I sat there drawing and writing stories every Wednesday and Thursday nights, for 16 weeks. It was so cool to hear a dozen students banging at keyboards and hearing the rhythm hum and beat of the IBMs typing away!

After the class was over, the professor marveled at my discipline (more like my shyness) and thanked my mother. I couldn’t wait until I could use the machine to write.

So, as I watched the documentary, I decided I want a typewriter again. I have the old manual one I was given as a child. Its lost to the archives of the garage but I will venture to dig it out and maybe clunk away at it once again.

Wish me luck!

Where’s the Coffee Machine?!

And, so we stood, confused and dazed.  The coffee machine was missing!  This happened early on a Monday morning.  The coffee machine was the one thing we all looked forward to on a Monday morning – it made the stay in the office tolerable.  It was a miracle of modern technology – it dispensed black coffee; decaf coffee; coffee mochas; cappuccino; hot chocolate; lattes; and hot water.    Some of us even were rumored to worship the coffee machine.  The area around it was a social hangout.  We told stories about our weekends in front of the coffee machine; we discussed the reports in front of the coffee machine; we shared photos of our kids around that freaking coffee machine –  the machine was part of our family.  There was always a line – most of us standing with empty mugs in hand.  We needed it to get the extra wake-up juice that the day required.  There we stood, in disbelief.  Jack Eden had already called building security to report it stolen.   When the security guard finally arrived to take our statements, the management staff strolled up and tried to get us to disperse. 

A few weeks before we all learned we were moving cubicles, again.  Management brought it upon itself to suspend the funding to the coffee machine.  Budget reports showed that it was a huge red line in the bottom line and somewhere the management staff had to decided that the only way to fix it was to have it removed.  No concern was taken on how this would effect the employees or our morale.  The situation  started to get ugly.  Tempers started to flare.  Tensions were rumbling on every floor of the building.  We took it upon ourselves to send emails to anyone who would listen.  The story goes, that even the CEO was aware of the musings of mutiny.  He quickly placed a note on his blog, on the company’s homepage on our intranet – to dispel rumors and sweet talk the employees with his boyish charisma.  The seasoned workers like Rick and Jack saw through the lies and deception.  Rick and Jack spent the rest of the day calling the coffee machine vender and other coffee wholesalers.  Their daily reports and emails went ignored.  The two men worked up spreadsheets, powerpoint presentations and pie charts on the expenses on a company providing the simple life blood of coffee to its employees.  Jack had even called the exact technician that removed the machine.  With a day’s work and math, they came to the conclusion it only cost the company about $10 a day to give 1000s of cups of bold, hot, stimulating coffee to its legion of cubicle prisoners.   

After days of buying coffee from the Starbucks from down the street, the group decided to pitch in for a coffee machine and coffee.   It took several days before building management discovered our bootleg coffee pot.  We were instructed to remove it.  We asked, “why, we’re paying for it out of our own pockets?”  The building management’s excuse was “it’s a fire hazard and the building couldn’t accept the liability.”  That excuse had us scratching our heads – once again – for hours.  How could our machine be a fire hazard yet the one that sat there just days before – for years and years – was not? Did they know the liability of disgruntled employees?

Production had already slipped by 37%. The writing was on the wall. Yes, several uncontrollable naps would happen. Concentration would be lost to staring at cubicle walls for hours at a time. But most importantly, the tine it took for 87% of the staff to walk 1.5 blocks to the Starbucks, waiting precisely 8.6 minutes to order their drink, waiting another 12.7 minutes to get drink, and then walk slowly back the 1.5 blocks back to the building. Before the coffee machine was 20.7 feet away. Now it caused this reckless behavior and loss of production.  It made no sense whatsoever! 

If we were to keep our freshly installed coffee machine, we were gonna have to take it to the mattresses – and bribe a few fire inspectors!

And So We Stood

And, so we stood, watching Mary Sela cut into a glazed doughnut.  The doughnut was still in the box from the little doughnut shop from around the corner – The Donut Hole.  Using a plastic knife in a rigorous sawing motion, she promptly removed an expertly cut half a doughnut.  She placed it on a paper towel and walked back to her cubicle.  We stood there wondering if anyone else would courage up to taking the other half of the doughnut.  

Jack Eden decided he didn’t want to ponder the idea. He yelled, “Mary!” As she turned around with a “yeah”, he questioned her with a “what the hell was that?”  Her eyebrows scrunched down into an inquisitive “what?”  He approached her and asked her why she only took half a doughnut.  She quietly responded that she didn’t want a whole doughnut.  “So, you figure someone wants your discarded half of a doughnut?” he grilled.  She stumbled on her words, looked over his shoulder at the rest of us, and in a passive voice “I didn’t want to waste it.”  Jack didn’t care what her best intentions were, nor did any of us think we would happily dine on half-a-doughnut still in the box from the little doughnut shop from around the corner – The Donut Hole.  

First off, we didn’t get free doughnuts very often, especially those bought and paid for by our management staff.  Secondly, we weren’t exactly concerned about our pride when it came to gorging ourselves on free food.  So to witness such an odd event, we found ourselves scratching our heads.  Even after Jack interrogated Mary.  And wouldn’t you know, that half-a-doughnut sat in the box even after all the others were gone.  Pillaging free food still had its requirements and it didn’t involve scraps. We weren’t heathens.  We weren’t vagabonds. We weren’t animals.  We were highly educated morons that sat in tiny cubicles all day, shifting through emails, answering phone calls from whiny brokers, and ‘servicing’ our clients – although no one liked that term – it just sounded perverse.            

The half-a-doughnut was still in the box when everyone had gone home for the day and the lights were turned out.  It sat in the box, from the doughnut shop around the corner – The Donut Hole, on the green table, in the green kitchen, through the night.  The green table, in the green kitchen was also known as the table where discarded food went to disappear – if someone had leftovers or excess amounts of Halloween candy, it was placed on the green table. Within a few days (sometimes only hours), it would be gone.  It defied explanation.  The phenomenon wasted hours of useful production time as we discussed the theories and probabilities of how the food disappeared. Maybe the Dining Hall manager suspected contraband and had it disposed of? Or, maybe the Health Relations Monitor saw a potential food poisoning event and quickly bagged and tagged it for analysis. Maybe, the table actually had a trap door where the food would fall through a maze of tunnels and passage ways and fall right into the incinerator? In the end, we suspected it was simply eaten.  We hoped the cleaning crew just took care of it each night.  Yet, this was disproven by the half-a-doughnut incident.  The following day, the half-a-doughnut still sat in the box on the green table, in the green kitchen as it was left the day before.  Most of us stared at it as we got our morning coffee and threw our lunches into the refrigerator.

Then, Joey Brena, getting her third cup of coffee that morning, noticed something! The box, from the donut shop from around the corner – The Donut Hole, was open and more importantly, empty. The half-a-donut was gone! Joey raced over to Rick Whitmore’s cubicle to inform him that the half-a-doughnut was now missing.  The box from the doughnut shop from around the corner was still on the table, including crumbs and smears of chocolate icing.  But more importantly, the half-a-doughnut was gone!  Rick Whitmore proceeded to walk to Jack Eden’s cube and inform him of the news.  Before we could even check our voice mails or log in to our emails, we gathered in the green kitchen, near the green table.  We stared at the table, at the box.  

“You think Mary came back to get the other half?” Sandy Johnson hypothesized.

“That’s just ridiculous!” Jack rebutted.

The thing is, someone had to take the half-a-doughnut.  Someone decided it looked appetizing.  It obviously wasn’t thrown away, or why was the box still on the green table, in the green kitchen?  

Jack whispered to Joey Brena he would check on Mary and see if the half-a-doughnut was on her desk or if her sweater revealed the crumbs of evidence.  Mary Sela, a nice fifty-something lady, typically kept her self clean and smelled like cheap Walgreen’s perfume.  But sometimes she had the unfortunate character of clumsiness. Like the time a meatball escape her fork and rolled down a heavenly white blouse – leaving a Morse code of bright red spaghetti sauce in its wake. 

Joe Eden, gone only a couple minutes, returned to inform us that, “She’s not there. Her computer isn’t even booted up.”  We all just looked at each other.  We continued to debate the disappearance of the half-a-doughnut.  What happened to the half-a-doughnut?  Worse yet, did someone eat it?

Faith Restored!

So last week, I had a bit of hard roads.

I lost my way. And I couldn’t find a solution.

Well, one thing is I stayed off social media. I just read books and watched movies.

I avoided the negativity of people. Honestly, I think this negative attitude to other people’s ideas, opinions and art created an overwhelming sense of self doubt.

So, I’m back to feeling some desire to write again. I want to tell my stories. Perhaps they won’t be any good. Maybe no one will ever read it. Yet, I will complete them. I think thats the attitude I need and hopefully I can keep the faith restored….

Everything is Super!

Growing up in a small town in southeast New Mexico, I knew only a simple life. There wasn’t much there.

I’m not sure how we heard about anything. As a child, I’m not sure how we knew what was cool or hip. Logically, we weren’t living in a Amish community. We had radio and television. We had a few big stores like SEARS and JCPenney. So perhaps this kept our little community in touch to the outside world. If we saw it on TV, we trusted the SEARS would bring it to us. This is where I showed my mother the Atari 2600 and the VCR.

Roswell was too small to have a Toys R Us. Nearly every toy I every owned was purchased from Kmart. I hold a sentimental hold on Kmart. This is where I saw my first Star Wars figure. This is where I saw Voltron toys for the first time. As I got older, this was where I bought my first phone and Walkman.

Kmart was the Walmart of my childhood. We did eventually get a Walmart when we got a real shopping mall. This was around 1984. Then sometime in 1989 we got a Target. Yet I always thought that I needed to leave the small town and live in a real city. So when given the opportunity I left for the big city of Denver. We got a hotel and right next door was a Super Kmart. I was amazed. I figured this city has the places we have but here they were super! Everything is Super! I knew my life going forward would be better!

I learned later that Super Kmart was the first in Colorado but it didn’t tarnish my new excitement and astonishment of my new home. It’s hard to believe this marks my 25th year living in this Super city. But you wanna know a secret….I now have dreams of returning to a small town — where it’s a bit quieter and where everyone isn’t moving so fast.

I think that would be Super….

Losing Faith…. pt. four.

The new Star Wars Prequels are not terrible. The movies don’t deserve hatred or fan outrage. Yet, I do wish they had been slightly different. Being a child in the late 70s and early 80s, I was the perfect age to enjoy the Original Trilogy. I also had 15 years of adult years, college study and personal imagination to overthink the next chapter.

The Force in the Prequels was simply forgotten. When it came time to explain important things, expand on the mythology, we simply didn’t get them. Almost like George couldn’t answer them himself (odd since this was his world – his creation). Or maybe he just didn’t want to revel his hand. Now, I’m not stating I needed more such as how or why it worked (so I definitely don’t want Midichlorians). Actually keeping it vague actually works for the story. But, why does Obi-Wan and Yoda disappear to the Force in the Original Trilogy but no one in the Prequel Trilogy does? This was a critical misfire for the saga. Yes, at the end of Revenge of the Sith, we get one line of dialog to “wrap” that mystery. But why wasn’t this slowly developed through the entire Prequel Trilogy. Why wasn’t the audience shown the Jedi more in tune with the Force? (not just using its magical powers) With Anakin, Qui-Gon should have just felt the Force stronger than he’d ever felt it before within Anakin. Instead of testing his blood, he should have told Obi-wan “There’s something about this boy! I’ve never felt a vergence of the Force like I have with him.” “Even around Master Yoda?” “Not even Master Yoda!” Their surprise is the cinematic story telling. Concluding in a test similar to the one Anakin got in front of the council, we, as an audience, know that Anakin is Force sensitive. He would and did perform tasks that are beyond that of an average Padawan. But still raw! (not the Rey syndrome!) Qui-gon’s original Force insight of Anakin would make sense with what we know from the OT: “I feel a presence I’ve not felt in a long time.” “It was a 1000 voices all screamed out in terror at once.” “Search your feelings.” “Leia is my sister.” – “Your insight serves you well!”.

Queen Amidala of the Naboo should have been a true royal monarch. There’s nothing wrong for a royal Queen ruling a world or people in a fantasy story. Actually, it would have made more sense. It would have been a positive look at a monarchy style government. Besides, the government of the galaxy is a democratic Galactic Republic with representatives of each member planet working together for a greater good. Well until, it became corrupt and open for an evil Emperor to take over. More important it would have stay true to George’s original story element of Anakin marrying a young queen. With some slight tweaking, Amidala would still get mixed up in the action as a Padme decoy. I always thought it would have been more powerful to see how Naboo suffered once the Empire formed and Amidala had to go into hiding. (maybe I’ll go into more details at some point). Secondly, Amidala wouldn’t die at the end of Revenge of the Sith. Naboo would fall to Imperial control. The Royal family would be imprisoned or forced into hiding. That scene in ROTS, where Yoda and Obi-wan decide to go into hiding, it should have included Amidala. Yoda asks, “what should we do with children. They are a threat to Anakin?” Bail Organa volunteers, “We will adopt the girl (smiles at Amidala), we’ve always wanted to adopt a girl. Your majesty, you will serve as her Nanny on Alderaan and you’ll be safe there.” Yoda questions, “what about the boy?” Obi-wan offers, “to his family on Tatooine. I will go and watch over him.” This also doesn’t deviate the facts we already know. Leia would have memories of her real mother because she was her nanny. Young Padme would still die young but thats a story for another time.

Easy fixes and the story wasn’t drastically changed. It doesn’t impact the sadness at the end of ROTS nor does it cause issues in wrapping up the Prequel Trilogy….

to be concluded….

Losing Faith…. pt. three.

In the documentary, George gives some interesting insight on his film making philosophy. One of those insights: “you don’t have to spend much film time to create an environment.” George continues to say that sci-fi movies are notorious to do this to show off the amount of work and it slows the pace of the movie. Star Wars pulled this off. Perhaps it was simply there wasn’t a budget to do it. Yet, it worked as he said. I don’t need a 3-4 minute fly-over of Manhattan to get a sense the characters are in a big city. But when it came to the prequels, I found George was showing off more and more of the environments: Coruscant, Naboo, etc. The magic of CGI and digital paintings made them great eye candy but the feel of the movies changed.

George also stated, “my effort was to use less exposition and tell the story cinematically.” Again, the prequels are riddled with dialog to tell us where the action is going. The dialog is there to enrich the story – not tell us what we’re looking at: “They went up the ventilation shaft.” “There’s a problem with the main reactor!” Both were just seen only seconds ago. Either George thought we weren’t so bright or he was catering the story to a different audience (more on that later).

The Force was also one of the big issues with the Prequels. George needed to somehow convey that Anakin is more powerful in potential than other Force users / Jedi. But how do you do that? Simple. You make it a scientific explanation. In the previous Trilogy, The Force was a mystical entity, a source for a faith and religion. Yet, in the new Trilogy, it’s all about how many microbial parasites you have in your blood. More exposition. Dialog could have easily fixed this – would have benefited the story not try to explain it. I think this tarnished the mystery and power of The Force.

In the original expanded canon, it was told that Anakin Skywalker married a young queen. This was the mother of both Luke and Leia. We never got a name nor a true definition of her royal line. We really didn’t need it. The mystery was sorta interesting. Yet, now we have the opportunity in the Prequels to explore her character. Yet, is she really a Queen. No. George’s personal political opinion interfered with the fantasy. She needed to be elected to the position because an elected official seems more moral, right? Again, this failed the overall story in a galaxy, far, far away. And by the time she was married to Anakin and gave birth she was no longer a Queen but a simple Senator.

That last example could also lead into another one: changing the previous known canon. In Return of the Jedi, Luke asks Leia if she “remembers her mother, her real mother?” This clearly points to the idea that Leia as well as Luke and Han know she was the adopted daughter of Bail Organa. Could it just be an error in the writing and Luke is projecting his own knowledge toward Leia? Possibly. But why didn’t Leia freak out and say “what do you mean, real mother!?” By the time we got Revenge of the Sith, Padme Amidala died in child birth. So how could Leia possibly remember her. (I know fans have tried to explain this as Force memory) But why did it happen in the Prequels? George could have easily supported what he’d already told the audience.

These are just some examples. Next time, I’ll propose alternatives….

to be continued….

Losing Faith…. pt. two.

In 1983, Star Wars was finished with the release of Return of the Jedi. The hero’s journey was complete. The redemption of the father was successful and freedom was restored to the Galaxy.

Ten years passed. In 1993, George Lucas, finally pleases fans, stated he would return to do another Star Wars movie (starting a new trilogy). A couple years later, we got some hard evidence that he’s writing and producing this new movie. History noted that the release of The Phantom Menace (in 1999) was the most anticipated movie of all time. Being part of it, I would agree. George’s new movie could have never made a dollar but he would’ve still come out a billion dollars richer just in food and toy merchandizing. I don’t recall a time, then or since, that I saw the Star Wars logo more – Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and Burger King ran promotions that had bobbles to collect while we bought value meals no one wanted. Companies like: Hasbro had action figures, Pepsi had collector cans, and Applause had vinyl statues. Not to mention, bed sheets, coffee cups, toothbrushes notepads, keychains, tennis shoes. I bet there was motor oil, toilet paper and dishwasher detergent.

I saw the movie at midnight. I actually saw it 7 times that first day. I loved it. I couldn’t get enough of it. Maybe I was just so desperate for Star Wars I took what I got and loved it on first sight alone. I watch it often – even 20 years later. It isn’t that bad. But, there are a few flaws in it. There is also several flaws in the other two films that would conclude the Prequel Trilogy.

There’s a Star Wars video that I’ve seen nearly as many times I’ve seen the movies. It’s called From Star Wars to Jedi, The Making of a Saga. For me, it was the quintessential behind the scenes documentary and the inspiration for my own creative theory and projects. It was the first time, as a kid and later as an adult, to get insight on George’s philosophy on the story and production. Honestly, I don’t think there’s a better one even today. The only better historical device for the films is the books written by J.W. Rinzler. I recommend any fan to watch.

Where did George go wrong? Well, ….

(to be continued….)

Losing Faith…. pt. one.

George Lucas started creating his Star Wars in 1973. After several years, he would finish it with its release on 5/25/1977. He based it on his inspiration of movie serials, like Flash Gordon, and others movies (Kurosawa) as a child living in Modesto California. His enjoyment at the theater is one of the most obvious reasons why George entered film school back in the mid-1960s. He studied anthropology and literature, researched many aspects of mythology, like the works by Joseph Campbell’s Power of Myth and Hero’s Journey, in his quest to tell great stories and the eventual creation of his galaxy far, far away.

Star Wars wasn’t straight up science fiction. It was more fantasy set in a universe with technology greater than our own. The story didn’t go so far as to convenience the audience the believability of the technology. Instead it was a simple story of good vs. evil, family truth and the hero’s journey that just happened to have starships. Star Wars was really just a sword and sorcery tale – the first one on film. We had swords: lightsabers. We had sorcery: The Force. Although we had this concept in literature with the likes of JRR Tolkien, there really wasn’t any movies. Not until the 1980s would films be made in the genre later dubbed: Sword and Sorcery! (the rise of D&D also helped but that’s a different topic)

During the creation process, George created fantastical situations like swords of light, armored troopers riding lizards, and sensing presences and life. We just got them. It wasn’t explained how or why it was. We didn’t care (at least my child self). The creator – the author – saw these things and believed them. The story worked because of it. In a sense, it was magic….

to be continued….

You Must Believe.

As a writer, I struggled for so many years and worried over so many stories on whether the details were realistic. Could the events happening in the story really happen? Would the characters really do this? Does the law of physics allow this object to move like that? Which one is better: fission or fusion? Can a horse jump that high?

When you’re writing science fiction, the science really makes me stress. I’m not a scientist and I’m not the smartest crayon either. But I do have an interest in learning. Science intrigues me and fascinates. I’m not so good on the math or the equations but I can usually grasp the basics. I want the details to be realistic yet not embarrass myself either. And it can’t just be techno-babble either. I feel when I do that it does sound a bit too Star Treky.

Like, I stated it took a long time to overcome the hurdle. My own grounded mind kept my stories plagued with believability. When you read a story, or watch a movie, you sometimes have to suspend your disbelief. This is true and exists as the author and creator of the work. Before I completely learned this, I just started writing fantasy or science-fantasy. This allowed me to make it up. I’ve returned to writing science fiction but I’ve decided I’ll research it the best I can, but in the end, it is my tale.

Hint: the writer just has to believe the story. It doesn’t always have to make sense. It doesn’t have to meet some set of rules or laws. It just has to be fun. It just has to entertain. So if you believe a man can fly or a ship can travel between the stars, it’s not important that you explain it. Just tell the story!

(This theory is why I think some films and books fail. Something that I think George Lucas may have lost. More to come on that….)

Worlds Finest.

So, let’s pretend that history was slightly different.

It’s 1990. The world has just experienced Batman as a big budget (and dark) movie masterpiece. Fans are rejoicing and dancing in the streets. We’ve not been this excited since …. well, I don’t know…. but its BIG!

The intelligent minds and businessmen at Warner Brothers green light a sequel. Duh. Who wouldn’t, right? So work begins immediately on the next chapter. They call it Batman Returns. (Not sure why this was the title since its not like he went anywhere. Maybe they could have called it Batman Strikes Back. Nah, what’s he striking back at? It’s not like he lost at the end of the first movie. Maybe, Batman Again! Yeah, we get Batman AGAIN! That’s kinda dumb. It’s the title that doesn’t so much refer to the movie itself but to the audience to tell us, “hey! Batman RETURNS!!! Go buy tickets!”) [back on topic] The movie starts production but there’s one tiny difference….

Batman saves Gotham again. Bruce Wayne finds a stray black cat and he thinks of Catwoman with one life left. We pan up to see the Bat Signal and Catwoman pop her head up. Then the clouds of the signal are broken by something zooming through them. We cut to the credits. After a couple minutes the credits are interrupted – fade in to Wayne Manner. The Batmobile blasts out of the Batcave. A blur of red and blue flies into the frame and block the Batmobile – which slams on the bat brakes! We cut back to the thing blocking Batman’s path – It’s SUPERMAN! Christopher Reeve’s Superman. His blue eyes look down at the Batmobile as the roof slides open to see Batman poking his head out. Wide shot of Superman and Batman. Superman speaks, “Batman – or should I say Bruce Wayne (x-ray vision folks) – I need your help in Metropolis. I’ve got a problem right up your alley. See, there’s this little problem with an old Kryptonian computer….” Cut back to the credits. Fade out.

The style is beyond its time. But don’t discard it. Let’s also move forward on the assumption Superman III never happened in 1983 (or the bad Superman IV: Quest for Peace in 1987). Because the original story plot for Superman III was meant to be a story about Brainiac but due to budget constraints and a studio that demanded Richard Pryor be in a Superman film, we got what we…got. Warner Bros. begins production on the next block buster super-hero movie for release in 1995. The title: WORLD’S FINEST: Superman & Batman. Today, you could have just stuck to World’s Finest, but in the 80/90s you had to put the characters in the title or no one would know it was a Superman and Batman movie.

1995. World’s Finest opens starring Christopher Reeve and Michael Keaton in a double bill, and the fans go crazy. The movie breaks records. It destroys the 1993 record for Jurassic Park. Revolutionary special effects from Industiral Light & Magic creates a marvoulous Brainaic. Batman works to hack into the system and manipulate the ex-Kyptonian computer program. And Superman flies in just at the right moment to fling Brainaic and his ship toward the Sun! It sets up for a new status quo for super-hero films. And the world rejoices!

Oh I wish that were the way things went. Fanboys have always dreamt of a Reeve/Keaton team-up. It would have been stunning….it would have been legendary!

Direction.

My promise to myself in 2019 was to write here every day. Because if I’m writing here, I’m writing on other things. It truly is helping. I’ve done more this year than I did in 2018. But….

I feel like these posts are all over the place. Perhaps its just my OCD.

All through my life, I felt secure when things were organized. Maybe organizing things simply provided me the satisfaction of security. I had control of those little things. And all together, I was in control!

So, maybe, I should find some focus here. Should it be a motivational journal? I’m not so sure. I’m no psychologist. And I’m definitely not a motivational speaker (living in a van down by the river). Yet, I hope my readers do find useful nuggets here. Even if its just mindless entertainment or laugh (at my ignorance?).

I’ve really thought about starting like a serial or some ongoing creative project…. (feel free to post)

3

Finally, I feel like I’m getting into the swing of things. The chaos of the Holidays is over. The new year is going to be the year. No, really.

Few know this but I have this thing with numbers. Our family and myself have found things revolve around the number 3. Birthdays, death days, and events have something in common with the number. So if you add all the numbers in 2019: 2+0+1+9 = 12. 1+2=3. So this year will be eventful. And I will control that event.

Today, I started following a strict schedule.

Morning: Coffee – minimum of 1 cup. (Maybe 2) Read – 1 hour Writing – minimum 1 hour

After completing this, I continued work on the family photo archive project. I’m only a couple years behind but I should have it done with the next month or so. Basically this is just 1000s of old family photos that I promised my mother I’d scan and digitally archive them. Now that she is retired, it will be a great time for her to take those files and document the metadata and create a history of who’s who.

Lastly, took the dogs for a walk. Not only for them, but its time to get get healthy after too much Christmas cookies, candy and pie!

Now can I keep it up? Stay tuned….

“I’ll have a Ham & Cheese and a Savings Account, please.”

As I’ve stated before, I have a odd fascination for television commercials. I look at them artistically and creatively. And do they make sense….

So, there’s this kid and he’s trying to kick a football through the goal posts. He just can’t muster the strength to get the ball up and over. His father runs over and kneels before him and gives him some motivational advice. He reaches up and puts his hand on the boys chest and says, “free. free, free, free.” The child understands this and returns to his efforts. Years later, he’s about to kick the field goal to win his high school championship. He kicks. He scores. He looks to the stands and finds his father, tears in his eyes. He waves and repeats, “free. free, free, free.” Ofcourse this has to make sense. Maybe its some weird language I don’t understand. Then the story fades to be an advert for a Tax Service that is free. Free, free. Free. (Huh?)

A car pulls up to pick up a dog with a bowling bag in its mouth. The car is driven by another dog. This dog decides its funny to stop and as the dog with the bowling bag tries to get in, the doge driving pumps the gas to move forward. It’s an age old trick we play on ptentional passangers for a ride. We cut to a slide that stars, “Dog tested, dog approved.” (Do dogs drive Subarus?)

A man walks into a bank and orders a venti Carmel Macchiato. He takes a sip and reads his morning paper. People sit at tables. Some are chatting. Some are tapping on tablets and computers – most likely enjoying the free WiFi. The counter is stocked with deliscious fruits and sandwiches. Another gentleman orders a ham and cheese and opens a savings account. No this isn’t a strange world. It’s CapitalOne believe that we need to go to a bank to get our morning cup of joe.. (uh, okay.)

I’ll keep watching and I’ll keeping questioning them….

…push us further!

Honesty.

Be honest to yourself.

Be honest to those around you.

It’s easier to show a side of honesty than trying to deceive or misdirect.

I’ve always believed I’d rather tell the truth than be shamed by being dishonest. Perhaps I had a great teacher – my mother.

It’s a virtue I hold higher than most. Yet I still have a filter and don’t always share my true feelings. I wish I did not do that. Maybe it would be liberating. Yet I try to be non confrontational and wish to be liked by all.

As I grow older, I’ve discovered cynicism and pessimism. I wish I hadn’t.

But I think if we were more honest with each other maybe we wouldn’t get so easily offended by insignificant things. Because the honesty would developed a tougher skin. It can make us stronger and push us further.

Just be honest…

Bird Box

From time to time, I’ll see a movie and then I spend hours – (actually) days thinking about it. It doesn’t have any real rhyme or reason behind it. Sometimes they are insignificant films: like Passengers, Baby Driver and Bird Box. And they aren’t like big geek features either. I’m not analyzing it. I’m not trying to figure out a theory of how the Avengers will defeat Thanos and get their friends back. Or why Luke just sat on a rock instead of zooming off in that submerged X-wing. I just replay scenes over and over again in my head. Perhaps, I’m trying to relate to the characters. Or maybe, I’m infatuated with the story. It could just fall under a simple fascination (like the colors in a sunset) to it all. And that, I can’t explain.

If anything, Bird Box kept me hooked. That could be the secret. I was exuberantly  curious to know what happens next. I wanted to know if they would explain the “mystery”. Was it a virus? Was it a mind control weapon? (I won’t spoil anything here). Is this the gimmick to a great story?

It could have been: the premise of the plot is just plain bonkers! A woman and her 2 kids make a long and dangerous journey but must do it blindfolded. The thought of traveling through a forest or down a river; but not able to see where you’re going, is inherently a fear we all have. Is the movie a metaphor for taking risks? Especially in an environment – or activity – that has grave consequences. Am I subconsciously relating this scenario into my writing? I suppose I feel blindfolded in the outcome of this venture. What if no one reads it? What if I can’t find readers to buy it?

In the process of writing this post, I’ve done what I said I don’t normally do. I’m analyzing (over analyzing) the movie. Or more accurately, I’m analyzing myself in context to the it. Not sure which one is more troubling….