Hollywood Ending…

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Haven’t we seen this movie (hacked) a hundred times already?

Okay, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of Insanity… and Hollywood. Think sequels! Here’s a big idea to remember in this technological age in which we all live; the last thing that is yours, the last thing that no one can steal from you, the last thing that no one can use against you, is your own internal thoughts. They are privately held in your mind. They are the very origin and exacting definition of “intellectual property.”

That’s a term Hollywood knows well. They’ve got thousands of lawyer’s and hundreds of ways to screw you out of your intellectual property, while having the FBI protect theirs. But I digress.

We are talking about the smartest people on earth here. That must be because we shell out 35-billion dollars a year for their games and movies -almost everything they produce. Well, these masters of technology, art and marketing, forgot that an E-mail, a computer and even the Internet, are not extensions of their central nervous system. That cybernetics is not an extension of who they are. These inept TECHNOSPIENS are seduced away from the common sense logic that the web is not a part of their private, mental space, but instead a public, at times very public, space. When these high-priced executives foolishly think it’s secure they believe they are actually communicating, one-on-one with another person in private.

We now know, and have seen this movie at least a hundred times so far, that they are in fact connecting through at least a dozen nodes, network choke points and just as many opportunities for someone to invade the communicated thoughts of these geniuses. Their most insightful, embarrassing and detrimental thoughts that is… laid bare to the world. Smug little comments and corporate secrets, all damaging to their business and stature that they freely expressed in an E-mail. AN E-MAIL!… HELLO.

This is so unnecessary because Hollywood has made at least a few dozen movies (including optioning my book, The Eighth Day) about when evildoers assume identity; erase a person’s data, or hackers hack (starring Gene Hackman, I believe) . BUT not once did these enlightened folks ever get the very message they were sending out to an enraptured audience… that being: Beware the Internet, take heed that Big Brother is always watching, listening and digesting your entire “on-line life.”

Of course they have an excuse. In most of their dystopian-internet yarns, the evil is the government… the all powerful, all knowing and very capable federal government (only in the movies, by the way) So here’s the behavioral truth brought out by how these guardians of the public taste and trends- these titans of Hollywood conduct their own lives: They never really thought the government would do this to them. At this point I have to remind you that the name of this blog and my tag line is, “It’s Only Fiction ‘til It Happens.” After all, they support political candidates and causes. They donate, in a way, by waving their huge appearance fees to show up for a lowly “cause non-celeb” and make it an instant, cause-celeb! We can deduce from the actions and false trust in the Internet, that they never held much faith in their own storylines, namely that someone would, purloin, scrub, scrape or out-right expose their private E-mails … Amazingly these are the same folks who thoughtfully considered how many millions to spend on, and how many movies to “green light” into production about Edward Snowden!

Well they got it half right and half wrong… it was the government, just not ours. How do you say, “That’s a Wrap!” In North Korean?

P.S. How do you say, “Did they mention, The Eighth Day, in the e-mails and whether or not why were considering funding the movie?” in North Korean?

Episode 5 of the Accidental Author

Click above for the latest episode of the Accidental Author and hear me discuss the following • Backstory to the Bill Hiccock “Thrillogy” • Passion-the essential element to being a good writer • Perfection – the enemy of good.

Don’t miss an episode!

Episode 1 click here
Episode 2 click here
Episode 3 click here

Episode 4 click here

Me and my shadow

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Secrets are the dark side of our portraits. The Masters, in oil, and later photographers on film, used less light on one side of the face or subject to bring out depth or dimension. It’s how they created the realism of three dimensions when, as you know, the paintings were two-dimensional rectangles, same for film. They call it modeling. It makes a picture more interesting, less flat. In writing, characters need shadow too. Only in this case the shadow comes from within. The source of this darkness is usually the secrets a human has but shares with no one but themselves. The kinds of things that only self-love can abide. The literary opportunity here is that these very same secrets could also generate self-loathing.

In photography, contrast ratio is how much light is employed against how much dark. In literary characters, how much light they emit is also a ratio between their secrets, baggage and internal weight – against their lighter natures. This is a very essential tool in deep character analysis. That analysis, by the way, is always best done after the character has taken form. These character elements should be discovered as you are writing, not engineered into the DNA before you write. That way these foibles’ become more organic to the flow of the story and don’t stick out like… “And now a word from our sponsor, the character building department.”

​So shading a character in prose is akin to utilizing “Rembrandt Lighting” in film or photography. Too heavy a hand, too much obvious contrast and we start to look stagey, over done. But the right balance of contrast and dimension brought on by the shadow of secrets will fit seamlessly into the canvas of the story.
​Way back in 1930 the biggest show on the air, the radio air that is, was a show that started with the chilling refrain, “Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of men? The shadow knows…”

Accidental Author Episode 4

Click on the video for Episode 4 of the Accidental Author. In this show; writing in the dark. How much drama or action is too much or how little is not enough? The sensuality of literature… If you missed any of the previous episodes click below
Episode 1 click here
Episode 2 click here
Episode 3 click here

THE BIRD’S THE WORD…

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Happy Bird-day to you… Happy Bird-day to you….. Happy Bird-day dear, reader, happy Bird-day to you. Now blow out the flaming turkey… (that’s going to make it a little dry.)

Today is the day when America gives itself the bird. You know, Turkey, Butterball, Oven Fowl… And why? To celebrate abundance but also to offer thanks for the blessing of NOT having to track the thing through the frozen woods and hunt down this feathered feast and bring it back to the homestead alive and pecking. Instead, we just go down to the market. While there, we simply grab an ear of corn from the neatly stacked display, rather than fertilizing and tiling the field months before. Then we head to the desert aisle to grab a pumpkin pie that we didn’t bake from a pumpkin we didn’t grow.

In a way, this might make you feel a little guilty, but that’s not the point of today’s Thanksgiving blog. The point is that we have it really good. But consider for a moment, how much of a pilgrim’s everyday life was consumed by maintaining a food supply? How much “downtime” could they have possibly enjoyed when they had maybe 6 months of productive time by which to generate enough food to be able to LIVE through the other six? Compare that to how long the average American spends in the supermarket today.

But the moral of this story is: all of this almost didn’t happen! American that is. This country was nearly wiped out in its infancy. The first generation of American’s was almost the last. Why? Human behavior. And that leads to the character study part of this author’s blog.

The first form of government of the Plymouth Colony (the beginning of the United States of America) was outlined in the Mayflower Compact. It was the kind of document that intellectuals dream up… and dream about. In theory, it was a plan for Utopia, where everyone in this new land would share in everything. It was envisioned as the antidote to the unfair, uneven distribution of goods and wealth in bad, old Europe. In the New World everyone would share in everything, everyone held one share of the colony. The thinking was that this equality of wealth would  render poverty, famine, injustice and class divisions, a thing of the old, discriminatory,  European system’s past. These ills of society would be eliminated from the human condition by the simple, HUMANE, act of sharing.

Well, a lot of people died. In fact, everyone almost died. You see, it didn’t take long before those humans who didn’t work, or didn’t work as hard as others, realized they still got the same share of everything. And those humans that tilled the fields and broke their backs making everything started resenting the fact that they got the exact same share as the takers. Eventually, the “makers” started envying the “takers” and they quickly caught on and figured they’d slow down and still get their share too. “Utopian Paralysis” ensued and production practically ground to a halt. This forced Governor William Bradford, of the now starving, Plymouth Colony, to throw out the Compact and declare, in rough terms, the free market system. Like magic, those who were takers suddenly didn’t have anything to eat, so guess what? They became makers. And the rest, as they say, is history. Human history. Or in this case, history in spite of humans or their human behavioral defaults.

In short, the open market way back then is the reason we can go down to the market when it’s open today and buy, in a couple of minutes, a full Thanksgiving dinner – because way back when, we gave Utopia the bird!

The Accidental Author – Episode Three

Happy Thanksgiving! Here’s our normally Thursday posting, today. Click above for the latest installment of The Accidental Author. In this episode: How to start and get through a first draft. A great quote from one of the biggest author’s around and how to see your writing as an art form. Did you miss an episode? Click here for episode 2 and here for episode 1.

The Accidental Author – Episode Two

In the window above is the next installment of The Accidental Author, some real heartfelt confessions in this one plus an homage to one of the finest authors living today. If you missed episode one, click here.

“Vengeance is mine.” Sayeth the Author.

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​Sometimes characters do the darndest things… Like suddenly they show a side of themselves that I, their Lord and Creator, never imagined, intended or wrote. Such is the case with my dear sweet, Brooke Burrell. Now don’t get me wrong, she’s a tough warrior as well as a good investigator. Over the course of the four novels that I have known her, she was never vengeful or carried ill will. She of course did do some things that got her a raised eyebrow from her superiors. Mostly for on the spot improvising of procedures and methods that they never taught at the FBI academy at Quantico, but this time she shocked even me!

​Normally, I write bad guys who eventually get their just deserts. And “we” never go after them with anything other than purely professional, prosecutorial ends in mind. However, if these evildoer’s choose to turn and fight it out, well so much the better, good-riddens to the no-good. Up until now, with Brooke, it was never personal, just part of the job. But somewhere along the way, in my next book, Give Us This Day, this poor schmuck, Paul, must have gotten on Brooke’s S-list, because she left the story, walked away from her character profile and violated several laws in settling the score with this “walking cancer on humankind.”


The image of me sitting at the keyboard, mouth open in shock at what she just did is maybe not the most flattering picture of me as a confident, able, top of my game author, but it is nonetheless where I found myself… My immediate thought as I reached for the delete key was, did I just lose the Brooke Burrell fan club? My finger hovered over the top right most ‘destruct’ key as I pondered. Did the words and actions on the screen before me amount to a literary death warrant or divine inspiration. In the end, I did what any courageous, confidant and in full command of my craft author would do, I let it stay in the manuscript, so the editor can make the call. Sometimes… I am such a wimp.

Blog note: The next episode of the Accidental Author goes live on Thursday.

The Accidental Author

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With this posting we start a new series of audio blogs, The Accidental Author. Recently I did a radio show on WESU-FM from Wesleyan College with Jeff Sherman, who’s normal beat is business. However, he offered me the rare opportunity to do a full hour, just the two of us, and we talked all about my writing. During the broadcast many callers and tweeters expressed the same sentiment; they’d like to write a book, but the process seems either daunting or beyond their skill set.

The epiphany from which the idea of this mini-series, Accidental Author emerged occurred during that show. The following is the first of six, 7-minute multi-media excerpts from the show. Much of the nuts and bolts and the heart and soul of writing is contained in these segments… whether you are an aspiring writer waiting for the lightning bolt of inspiration to strike or an accomplished author, I believe you find some great nuggets here and a way of couching what the writing experience is all about from someone like me; the last person on earth that should have been an author… Hence, The Accidental Author.

 

The Drone Wars vs. Hot Beans!

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Okay, so I am going to try to make this not some old guy rant about, ‘In My Day…” but since The Eighth Day has achieved #1 bestseller status, many more people have been reading it and resonating with the Bronx, New York side of the story. Which elicits E-mails from fans of both the book and the Bronx. “Belly Flopping” a street game being central to the character development of FBI Special Agent, Joey Palumbo, has started a stream of E-mail consciousness that lead to HOT BEANS!

For those of you NOT blessed to have grown up on the gritty streets of the Bronx, I will endeavor to explain this particularly unique “childhood” game.

Start with a Garrison Belt, which is a serious looking strap of leather that’s around two inches wide with a mean-ass metal buckle on the end. Just like in Hide and Go Seek, one person is designated as “It.” The rest of the kids hide at “home base” around the corner. Now the guy that’s “it” hides the belt anywhere on the street. When he’s got the belt where is sure no one will find, he yell’s, “REEEEEAAADDYYY!”

Everyone comes around the corner to find the belt. The one who finds it, gets to yell, “HOT BEANS” and then gets to whip the crap out of everyone who is caught between the home base (around the corner) and him. At this point it would help to remember we are talking a heavy thick belt with a heavy buckle that can draw blood.

Believe me you don’t know what terror, fear, trepidation, caution, strategy and courage is until you play this game. Why? Because unlike other games, where the only skin in the game is playing for a win, bragging rights or the most points, in Hot Beans, your skin is actually at risk in this game.

Today, kids hardly go out into the street anymore. Their games are on a computer. The optimists and sociologists say it’s a good thing, that they are developing skills for our techno-future.

However, I wonder about those men and women who operate the drones and other High Tech, Stand Off, Remote controlled weaponry that we are embracing as national policy. I am referring to those who joystick their way through a war, one that’s been made impersonal and game-like on LCD screens. A process that transforms the deadliest endeavor of mankind to be remarkably like, Call Of Duty or Battlefield 3.

What happens if somebody pulls the plug on their console, will they, who have been raised in this kind of Sanitized War, be able to become warriors? The bigger question is, are Americans, who never played HOT BEANS and have no skin in the game but a vote once a year, citizens who in general have become war weary, will they have the grit to turn to our war fighting soldiers who have tested their mettle? Combat ready troops who are the ultimate weapon, and last resort, in defending a nation’s way of life and thus all we hold dear? Or will our techno-war complacent population cower at “home base” when some big, ugly brute from a foreign land wields an actual big belt with malicious intent?

P.S. Millions of people play war-based video games. All of these games are sold with graphics depicting “Shit Wired Tight” soldiers who are shown as stoic, deadly and dressed to kill. These are homage’s to the true warrior. Yet, millions of players, who assume these roles, never show up to a Veteran’s Day parade or write their congressperson to take better care of the actual “prototypes” of these fake computer icon warriors, when they return from the real life battle.

Those images and the exploiting of heroism has amassed many billions of dollars in box office for games and almost equal amount for movies. Unlike these computer generated figures, our soldiers have actually faced danger, unspeakable horror and have risked everything. Yet, far too many are homeless.

Here’s a thought for all you gamers out there, donate 1% to 10% of your highest war game score to Veterans Matter or text VETS to 41444.

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