“Vengeance is mine.” Sayeth the Author.

Vengence Graphic

​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.

Top it Like it’s Hot: The Eighth Day Tears Up the Barnes and Noble 100

The Eighth DayI’m proud to announce the first installment of the Bill Hiccock Thrilogy has crested the 50th percentile to reach #53 on the Barnes and Noble Top 100. This coincides with the start of summer reading season.

Ah, summer.

It means barbecues and tapped out kegs, but there is one cohort that is conspicuously missing. No scientists participate in this defiant disregard for the earth’s actual position around the sun because they know that summer does not actually start until the interval of time between June 201/4 June 213/4. So scientists everywhere will be abstaining from hot dogs, hamburgers and presumably beer.

QED.

Avitabile - Science vs BeerOf course the author in me can’t help but view Memorial Day as the official start of summer beach reading. This magical season has always been a time of mixed emotions for authors and publishers, who pray that people will buy their books and sit on the sands with the dust jackets on –  so everyone can see who’s reading what. It’s quite a thing in the publishing world.

Not being immune the trends of the industry, my elite marketing department has put together a Father’s Day promotion. Scientific dads will love Presidential Science Advisor Bill Hiccock – just like his dad does – even though Father’s Day falls on June 16th this year.

From June 2nd to the 16th,
The Eighth Day will be available for $.99! If that doesn’t satiate your appetite and you need more Bill Hiccock, The Hammer of God is available for just $7.99. The perfect summer read and the perfect gifts for dad…for under $10.  

You might even see some of my ads around town – the ladies up in marketing will be doing their best to make sure I won’t be able to afford any parties until after Labor Day.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy this selection of posts from my blog!

Summertime People Watching Tip: In this disputed summertime limbo, it will be easy to spot the scientists in any crowd as those not wearing white pants.

Avitabile
Tom Avitabile
http://tomavitabile.com/
tom@spadvertising.com

You gotta Have Heart!*

*and soul, tooTom Avitabile | You've got to have heart and soul too

News Flash: When you write you can’t avoid writing about heroes, or heroics. Even when writing antagonists, you may be reflecting a reversed mirror image of the heroic. I mention this as a segue to today’s blog, which was inspired by a dear friend who reminded me of the following quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson who said:

“The mind is the last part of yourself to listen to.
It thinks of everything you can lose.

The heart thinks of everything you can give, and the soul thinks of
everything you are.”

As for the quote, I love it! Today it brought clarity to me. That quote is the prima facie case against “intellectualism.” A mental disease that is infecting our country from our young people on up to our leaders. It metastasizes when only the intellect is stimulated and nurtured vis-à-vis higher education, secular studies and culturally correct programs, to the exclusion of spirituality, connectivity and humanity.

When only the intellect grows, it dominates the person because it goes unchecked by equal growth in the heart and soul. The real damage is done because the ego, which resides solely in the mind, is also expanded as intellect grows. The ego feeds off intellectualism and without being buffered by Spirituality or Humanity, eventually takes over all. Omnipotence and greed become “intellectually” justified. Think of most of the bad guys, madmen, or evildoers in classic literature, even the most heinous ones are convinced that what they are doing is “the only way.” It could be said that their intellect was guided by their ego, which was built by their intellect. For a literary character, and unfortunately those living beings who have succumbed to this mental disorder, the weaker elements of heart and soul become manipulated into being slaves of the ego.

More and more, Harvard, Yale and the like eschewed spirituality, leaving only the development of intellect to rule the roost – and eventually the souls under its influence. Those institutes of ‘higher learning’ need to also be ‘institutes of higher spirituality and higher humanity.’ As I have alluded to in my books, without some kind of moral guidance package, pure intellect is up for grabs to be seduced by the forces of ego and greed. Now don’t mistake Spirituality or Humanity for any one idea, as in God, or Universal intellect or Scientific evolution. Spirituality is nothing more or less than a firewall against, or antidote to, Ego. By guidance package I mean whatever element within a person that guides them on a moral path, or at least a non selfish one, to the exclusion of, or abridging of, others’ rights.

As an author, one good way to define character is through the mix of Heart, Mind and Soul.  What is the percentage of impact that each of these has within the character? I think you can see which of these aspects may motivate a character through their actions.  Since I am quoting, one of my favorite Grooks (don’t ask – but a trade paperback of obvious wisdom in rhyme I was given in the 70’s by Carla Chase) is the following:

To be brave is to behave bravely even though your heart is faint,
So you can only really be brave, only when you really ain’t!

Applying Emerson to the lowly Grook: to be brave is to overcome with your heart, that which your brain is telling you you’ll lose.  Is that not a recipe for heroics? The first responders who run into the burning building while others flee, comes immediately to mind.  This is good meaty ground for planting the seeds of heroism in your characters!

Creative Death and Taxes, s’il vous plaît.

Although Gerard announced to the world and the French politicians that he was renouncing his French Citizenship and moving to Belgium, our crack Paparazzi photog from our vast international staff, snapped GD in Gay Paree on May 11th, Hardly incognito (note emblazoned blazer).  Image by Jean Rúisi.

Exclusive Image: Although Gerard announced to the world and the French politicians that he was renouncing his French Citizenship and moving to Belgium, our crack Paparazzi photog from our vast international staff, snapped GD in Gay Paree on May 11th, Hardly incognito (note emblazoned blazer). Image by Jean Ruisi

Ah France, you gotta love it.  I love Paris; it’s one of the world’s great cities to walk around in. I love and have written about The Côte d’azur and the jazz joints of St Germain. And then there is Normandy and her history, the valor and sacrifice of American boys who fell on the beaches with that day in 1944.

French literature, French cinema and Art nouveau have influenced me, and millions of Americans, from birth. Yet here’s a little sour pickle I picked up from the Associated Press. Dateline Paris: France mulls “culture” tax on smart phones.

Ha! Culture Tax? Okay, so the French gouvernement  (which thought necessary the designation of Bridget Bardot as a national treasure), is very conscious of France’s artistic contributions and identity to the world. So a culture tax turns out to be a 1 percent sales tax on everything Internet from the phones to tablets to possibly Google and YouTube use. Ostensibly this tax will pay to build a healthy and robust resource of French online content, free of franglais. Put another way, to subsidize the online content and web-related industries of France. The French have done similar things, to a degree, with their movie industry. Many feel it hastened the decline of risqué French cinema because part of the creative process was risk itself, and the government tried to minimize risk to the filmmaker. Smarter people with more time on their hands than me will debate the outcome over coffee and cigarettes, but I feel it hurt more than it helped.

However, enter the Pigeons! Yes, pigeon is a rough French translation which actually means “fall guys.”

You see, France is on the verge of 75% income tax on Frenchmen who make more than 1 million euros per year. Well, the Pigeons are revolting. The Pigeons, as they identify themselves online, are a group of entrepreneurs and business leaders who are threatening to leave France because they find it too… taxing! Some have already done so. And, you guessed it: Many of the Pigeons are the ‘early birds’ into the French online industries. Programmers, content providers, artists and in general people who risked their life savings and ate canned soup for years because they had a dream. They succeeded, built companies, hired thousands and are now, somehow, branded as the Diable! So the Culture tax will do what, exactly? Who’s going to be there to take the subsidies? To build this brave new French online world?

It seems to me that the mother lode of everybody on the Internet in France, chipping in 1% of sales, has to be worth more than whatever confiscatory tax the government could wring from the pockets of those rich misérables. But now, those who can build, populate and create content with those taxes, will not be there to be protected by the government.

Even the film industry (already enjoying subsidies) was shocked when their mega-star, Gérard Depardieu, split France (au revoir) as a way of keeping more than 25 cents on every dollar (or Franc or Euro, whatever) he earned.

Of course, no one in France, Europe or most of the PIGS, (not a demeaning term but an acronym actually used in economics and finance which refers to the economies of Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain) would ever connect the ‘cradle to grave’ costs associated with many of the government programs that Politicians use to keep the masses voting for them. Spending beyond means is the real reason why governments run out of money… yet the Pigeons are being scapegoated.

The streets of France are filled with French citizens who embrace and even cheer-on the idea of going after the rich to make up the shortfall in the public treasury – as they take their share of benefits that deplete that same treasury. It will be a bittersweet moment when every person en France who has a smartphone tablet, or uses the internet, will be forced to pay, just like the erstwhile roi of cyberspace. 

Trying to create the next generation, online French content culture without the Pigeons would be like… I don’t know… like trying to make a French film without Dépardieu? 

P.S. For more laughable reading, see:
UK’S RICHEST CONCEALING BILLIONS IN OFFSHORE TAX HAVEN

Avitabile

Tom Avitabile
http://tomavitabile.com/
tom@spadvertising.com

A play, right?

Tom Avitabile, A play, right?Last night I had the most wonderful, wonderful dream, in fact it’s 6 a.m. on a Sunday morning and I jumped out of bed just to write this down.

Last night, I dreamt of Broadway! For the first time in my life.

I was on a subway platform. People were dressed in colors and outfits the likes of which I had never seen underground.  Women wore pastel colors, their skirts and dresses very float-y, moving and swaying as they did. The men were in primary colored suits, sport coats, overalls and jackets.  All the men wore thick rim glasses. I entered down a flight of stairs to the platform. The gleaming silver train was already in the station.

Somebody said, “and a 5, 6, 7, 8.” and suddenly everybody snapped into precision from the shapeless mass of people they were a second earlier. A piano started playing and someone clapped in time to the music. People were moving… no, they were dancing! Choreographed in and out of the car doors onto the platform and back again. They were singing. I was like Dorothy on the first day in Oz, turning every which way trying to see all around me. Every new part of the number brought with it some inventive set piece, or some alignment of dancers that was based on the morning commute I’d seen a million times before, but shaped in a moving pulsing throng of color and body attitude that made them move as one.  Suddenly the men had hats, fedoras, and they became part of the routine as they used them as props and did complicated hat switching routines that actually made me laugh out loud in awe.

Then I saw the lead. She was definitely a Broadway dame! I didn’t know her, but she came right past me as I was taking it all in. I could see she was the star. Her voice was thick and resounded over the entire stage without a mic. She moved like she was on wheels, you could see her as being on the Broadway stage since she was a kid, probably played Annie, and probably just got a Tony for being a witch in that revisionist Oz musical or something like that. Whoever she was, I mean she was impressive.

Then I saw another man enter, he was in a blue suit.  Not your ordinary blue, a shocking blue with wide pinstripes you could see from the back of the theater, different from all the others. It was Tom Hanks! Tom Hanks was in this play! I smiled and giggly laughed as he did his bit again passing right by me.  

At one part in the number the ‘Train” started to move, the whole thing. I remember how silent it moved, with just the slightest rolling noise. Ball bearings, I thought. It moved maybe 20 feet in total, I remember watching the front of the train, it looked as though it was going to hit one of the steel columns of the subway station set, but at the last minute the column pulled away. And the train car moved without incident.  I remember thinking in my dream, “That had to cost a million dollars just for this.”

A few of the performers, gave me odd looks, as I was the only inert object in a sea of swirling chroma and intense motion. Then the door to the train jammed as it was halfway open.  The dancers who were now, I guess, leaving the train, amassed at the half-opened door and suddenly the symphony of movement halted. The intentional choreography disrupted, they became a messy mass of humanity piling up at a narrowly opened door.  The guy clapping stopped and the piano player halted mid-score. Someone yelled from out in the dark seats. “Harry, what the hell is it with this door?”

From somewhere up over my head, at least 30 feet and into the rigging, ropes, sandbags and lights came a voice. “On it, boss.”

A dancer walked by me, and said to a fellow chorus member, “Just like the real thing.” The dance captain heard that, “Hey, did you hear what Frank just said, like the real subway.”

I had only been on Broadway for 4 minutes and felt that I was witnessing something special, a moment when, with all the creativity around me playing out, when choreography and lighting and set pieces were all acting as one organism, in all this well planned, well executed spontaneous art that was unfolding exactly as painstakingly planned, beat by beat by hand clap, came a moment of randomness that would, if they went with it, bring the beauty of real life to their ‘Morning Subway Commute of the Mind’. The Stuck Subway door!  At that moment I saw it as another brilliant element in this brilliant mosaic that would tickle audiences and maybe put another notch in a reviewer’s memory stick. A little dab of New York the way the actors themselves on this stage, who take the subway daily, see it.

 Then somebody from the dark seats in the ‘house’ section of the theater yelled.  “That’s 5 everybody… Harry can we make that do that? Somebody find Jerome. See if he can choreograph the stuck door.”

As the staging around me dissolved into regular traffic and the performers made their way to whatever they do when they weren’t on stage, a man approached mister Hanks with a cell-phone and he took the call and walked off.

Tom Avitabile, A play, right?The leading lady chatted for a moment with a wardrobe person, and was tugging at her costume, demonstrating something.  I took the opportunity to do what I came here to do. Suddenly, in my dream, there was a reason for me to be there. I picked up a case I didn’t know I came in with and headed up stairs to the offices of the theater. I walked through a room with benches and maybe 20 people, all sitting reading books, newspapers or working their phones, coats and bags at their sides.  Extras, I thought. Or Understudies, more like casting probably.  A big show like this must constantly be replacing cast members, or maybe it was for the touring, bus and truck productions that mirrored every big Broadway play across the rest of America. Then, in a logic that can only make sense in a dream, I looked into a room as I passed it. It looked more like a large classroom. A few music stands and a piano were up front.  For some reason my first thought was some kind of Julliard type classroom where students learned Broadway appreciation 101.  Then I thought, maybe it was a rehearsal room of some kind, but I dropped the whole line of thought.

I found myself approaching a desk, there was a woman going through papers, I waited and introduced myself.

She looked up. “Can I help you.”

“Yeah, I was told to show up here.”

“Who are you here to see?”

I didn’t know, or couldn’t say.

I remember seeing the look on her face. It was like she took pity on me. “Are you here for the casting?”

“Kind of, I guess”

“Do you know what part?”

“Adrian, I blurted out.” Then I remembered, “A Mr. Krantz, asked me to come in.”

Those two names turned her around. She immediately changed her tone and body language. Adrian (?) was the 3rd starring role in this play. And I got the immediate respect and attention, as if I were a big star.

“Oh, I’ve been expecting you. Have you been shown to your room?”

“No, I have kind of been wandering around.” I was now playing it like a big country bumpkin for some reason.

Then suddenly I knew why I was there. I remember saying in my dream, “I guess I am the ‘ingénu’.” And I also remember, as soon as I said it, saying to myself, “a 50 year old ingénu, can you believe it.” (I just looked up in the dictionary what I thought was spelled Angeniux or some French derivation, and found it to mean, and I swear I didn’t know this, “2. naive character in drama”)

She picked up the phone and announced, “He’s here. Yes, I will.” She hung up and said, “Right this way, the director, the producer and the choreographer will meet you in your room.”

I walked up more stairs and had the following thoughts, I am out of shape, I’ll have to get my boss to give me enough of time off from my job so I can do this, but this is big, it’s worth it, I got a lot of catching up to do. I am sure the dance captain will assess my limited abilities and help me not make a fool of myself. In two or three weeks, I’ll bet I’ll be thinner and in good shape. I’ll eat good and stick to it.

Now again, this is the dream I just had, this dialogue actually happened in it. I am not embellishing it. I do find it troubling that in my dream I was so vain.  Anyone who knows me will tell you, I think, I hope, that my appearance, fashion sense and caring about those things is never evident outside of a wedding reception or business presentation.

Around this point in the dream I awoke. I lay there in a state of warmth, in a wonderful peace. The dream actually must have made me smile.  But the narrative kept going. (Now, did I really wake up, or was I still dreaming that I was now dreaming that I was thinking about it after waking up?) Anyway here are the last thoughts, the kind of climax to my dream, the back story if you will: I was chatting with someone in a Sardi’s styled restaurant the night before, we hit it off pretty good and were laughing and topping one another’s jokes. At some point he handed me his card and asked me to come here today.  He was the producer of this play. He wanted me to play a role I was born to play.  You see, the whole idea of this play was that there was a regular guy in it. Someone who spoke to the audience. He was trapped in a Broadway play. He had lines like, and this would be before a big number, “No, no don’t start singing… no, no more singing again.” He was a character, unbeknownst to me, previously played by the likes of Matthew Broderick, who I was replacing.  An everyman who is trapped in a Broadway musical.

In a fit of inspired casting, they decided to try a real person. Someone with absolutely no talent, to play someone with absolutely no talent whose idea of hell is Broadway!

I even had a line in the play that said, “Hey, there’s Tom Hanks!”

Then I really woke up.  I was still in love with my dream. It was a rare dream, in that it had a beginning, middle and end. It was totally wrapped up. Very rare. I immediately tried to remember what I ate last night, and how late I ate it. I never had such a congruent dream. So much in fact, that I wrote this even before eating or the other thing you do as soon as you get up. So much in fact that right now, some 57 minutes after I got out of bed this morning and turned on this computer, I am thinking about synopsizing it and showing it to a friend who is a show runner for one of the big Broadway production companies. It could work? Especially if they don’t cast me and we can talk Tom hanks into playing himself.  (…Why Tom Hanks?)

AvitabileTom Avitabile
http://tomavitabile.com/
tom@spadvertising.com

AutoSynopsis Deficiency Syndrome

Open book with charactersI create, write, pitch, produce and direct ads for a living. It pays for my writing. Everyday, my whole universe is usually 75 words or 30 seconds. Someone spends millions on a company, idea, product or service, and turns to me to sell it in 75 words or less. So when I am asked to do a two page synopsis of my 106,000 word thriller, The God Particle, you would think, “Easy. Do it all day long. A snap!”

Well, three attempts later, and what I have created is a shorter book, 70 pages. Next it was a 10-page rambling, confusing essay on something based on my book and finally…a two-page ‘treatment’ that, unfortunately, reads like it was written on a roller coaster with a fountain pen.

So I got nothing. The ability to encapsulate the work of others is my bread and butter, but the ability to do my own is a crap sandwich.  I do not have the ability to perform autosynopsis. I am too close to the work. I know and birthed every one of the 106 thousand words. I know how interconnected and woven into the fabric of the story they are. As I try to summarize one thread, it leads to another, which, at this point in the garment I have sewn, is equally important. So off I go, pulling on that thread. Do that 10 or 20 times and you get to a short, crisp 70 pages without even approaching the climax.

But wait, a synopsis is not a legal contract, nor is it regulated by any federal law. And really isn’t the job of a short version of your book to sell the mother lode? So why not be more dramatic? Leave out the connectors; hit the big points, the flashy and the showy. Wow, I got it. The Synopsis isn’t the book, it’s a road map of the book. Great, with that kind of thinking…wait, that went nowhere. (50 pages of maps)

Okay, I got it, what does it matter? I mean, lets say I write the following synopsis.

Boy meets girl they have sex, more sex, good sex, then bad sex, somebody gets killed, the other wrongly accused, then the dead one reappears, they have sex again, get married, live happily ever after (or words to that effect).

The agent, publisher or reviewer reads it and the document does its job, and gets them to read the book. Which of course is nothing like the synopsis, except what I just outlined is the plot of a book one of the characters is reading in my book. But they like the whole book.  Who’s going to bitch? Which publishing professional is going to say, “Hey, you know, you turned the tables on us, like we do with practically every cover where we put a sexy girl, a gun or the American flag, to lure the reader, but once they buy the book, we’ve succeeded, nice job doing that to us. “

Eventually I solved the problem of not having been born with the synapses in my brain to perform autosynopsis. I hired a pro to do it.

Tom Avitabile, AutoSynopsis Deficiency Syndrome

Tom Avitabile
http://tomavitabile.com/
tom@spadvertising.com

Surfing the Point of Interest

Avitabile - Surfing the point of interestThe Point of Interest is the ‘edge of a seat’, the energy that starts to ‘turn the page’ before the last sentence of the one being read is complete, it’s the ‘Shhhh’ when an engrossed member of the audience doesn’t want to be distracted by someone talking in a theater. If as the writer you create enough points of interest then together they define a wave. If we are good at what we write then the reader becomes the surfer catching the edge of that wave, constantly being supported and moved along in perfect balance along the leading edge, as the plot roils below them. At that moment the surfer, as well as the reader, is totally involved, totally focused on continuing the ride for as long as they can, totally attuned to the story. One of my observations on art, literature, film and all things theatrical, is that they play out in the extreme reaches of reality and human existence.

A story that does not approach the outer edge of a human situation holds less drama. (because we surf at the edge of the wave) There is no drama in washing socks, but there is drama in washing the socks on Mars in a sonic washing machine that’s powered by a thermonuclear reactor – because we’ve taken a common, everyday chore and we’ve pushed it to an extreme. To hold an audience, reader or listener at the point of Interest we must strive to drive all characters, all plot lines all narrative to approach the extremes of the human condition or extremes in behavioral patterns.

So when you’re looking for that MacGuffin, when you’re looking for that thing that the story seems to be about but isn’t, it’s very tempting to go to an extreme, somewhere outside the norm that lies just beyond what reasonable people would think of, consider or accept. It’s in this area where you get to write the rules, it’s in this area where you get to bring the readers to a place where they haven’t been before. Is that the primary part of any story? Maybe not the whole story, but it’s certainly one of the guardrails of the plot. That unchartered territory can be internal within a character, in their deepest darkest recesses or external to the character, where the world or environment forces dramatic action.

So in my fourth book, I have a plot that deals with an aspect of human trafficking. However, the notion of an entire underground economy, complete with an international infrastructure, designed to force people into indentured servitude, slavery or out and out sexual exploitation is already an extreme place to write about, but a general awareness of this horrible endeavor is out there and somewhat known in our culture. Therefore, going back to my rule, I’ve picked up on a particular part of human trafficking, which is not pretty much on anybody’s radar. It is the extreme of the extreme, an aspect not generally known. The question is: Is it too far? Is it so far out there as to be beyond the willing suspension of belief? Will it cause my reader to wipeout and lose the edge of the wave? 

That’s a big challenge that I’m struggling with right now in book four, The Devil’s Quota

AvitabileTom Avitabile
tom@spadvertising.com
tomavitabile.com

The NEW Italian Renaissance

Tom Avitabile | The NEW Italian RenaissanceThis new renaissance is brought to us by the two most famous Italians in history; forget DaVinci and Michelangelo, I’m talking about Mario and Luigi.

The world will soon be divided into two classes: The addicted class and the non-addicted class. The defining addiction will be to Digitally Enhanced Living (DEL).

The non-addictive folks will be cursed to suffer the raw, naked, unfair, unkind, slow, unpredictable, low-tech reality of being an organic life form (factory installed). The people who are addicted to DEL will live in their own plugged-in world, and will have no need to share their lives in the physical reality. An unplugged person will be limited to the friends and loved ones they can manage to interact with on a human level while the DEL will have virtually millions of friends. What do I see as the first page of this Orwellian nightmare?

Google Glasses. Finally the isolation of sitting hours and hours in your mom’s basement on your computer, trying to be relevant, can now brought to the great outdoors. Bring your fantasy-based, illusion-generated life with you wherever you go. On second thought, why go anywhere? Continue reading

Production Value = Life or Death

“Did you hear about this guy named Ben Ghazi who killed a bunch of people in Libya? It was in the news a while back, and they said it was because of a video that some guy produced.” *

Tom Avitabile  |  Production Value = Life or DeathWhen I looked into it, I found that it’s wasn’t actually a video, it was just a trailer – a couple of minutes long posted on the internet. And at the time of the attack, maybe less than 500 people had seen this trailer. Yet it caused riots in Egypt, Libya and the Middle East. But more importantly, it really pissed off that Ben Ghazi guy.

Last week the North Koreans released their own YouTube video trailer. In this video they depict a nuclear attack on the United States, complete with missiles, computer graphics and the destruction of New York City. They even scored it with the counterpunctual melody of the Michael Jackson song We are the World… and yet there has been no outcry.

American people have not surrounded North Korean embassies or interests, screaming and yelling for the blood of the North Korean ambassador. As far as I know, no American named Chevy Chase, or Austin Texas killed four Korean diplomats. There has been no outcry in the press anywhere in the world over this shameful video. A vile, disgusting video that hit America below the belt, right in that deep and dark nightmare of the previous attack on the United States. Not a word of disapproval even to the point of just pointing out that it was rude. Not one word, not one peep.

Here’s the reason, Production Value! The Ben Ghazi guy video thing was crudely done, horribly edited, had bad ADR (Automated Dialog Replacement) in that the voices were chopped in after the shoot to change the meaning so that the actors who actually played the part didn’t know what they were saying because later on somebody went back in and edited different words. It was a real hack job. So bad, they arrested the guy who made it and he’s still in prison. (America defends good production values, and this dude’s were woefully inadequate)

But the North Korean video, now that’s excellent production value. It was a good CGI video, that’s the difference – good, clean production wins the day all the time. So nobody killed anybody, or lodged any complaint. Except for maybe one small group, BMI/ASCAP. Did those North Koreans pay the royalties to use the Michael Jackson hit? Forget about the whole thing about blowing up New York, illegal downloading may be the true crime here!

Oh, and this week, the North Koreans released another video, the one they shot of the detonation of their latest production – a nuclear bomb. But hey, at least they used High Def, so again, nobody anywhere in the world is saying nothing about anything.

*actually overheard in a Starbucks near NYU in New York City.

Tom Avitabile  |  Production Value = Life or Death

BS: For those of you who read my post from Monday but were wondering where the pictures were, scroll down to the updated post.

Tom Avitabile

Tom@TomAvitabile.com


Free Press in China?

Tom Avitabile, Free Press in ChinaI once recommended to an economic expert on China a trailer for an upcoming book. My vision was to have the economist standing on the Great Wall of China, explaining to the camera that seven centuries ago this was the technological achievement of mankind.

Then the economist holds up an iPad, explaining that this is the current technological achievement of mankind. Both from China. Interesting, I thought, that the technological impetus has come around full circle from the Great Wall to the Great iPad.

But when you look deeper, look at all the things they missed.

For example, we have the Bill of Rights. All the greatest (and wealthiest) men of the day had the notion that it was necessary to specifically enumerate the rights that were at the heart of the conflict of England and the Revolution, and they eventually got it down to 10.

Extra credit reading: Look up the original Bill of Rights.

If you go to the National Archives in Washington, DC you can see that there were actually 12 amendments in the original Bill of Rights.

  • The original 1st amendment set out rules for districting the House of Representatives – a scheme that would have made today’s Congress 6,000+ members strong.
  • The original 2nd amendment stated that Congress cannot ratify its own proposed pay raises until after the next Congressional election. This would eventually become the 27th amendment, ratified in 1992.

The elimination of these two amendments cleared the way so that right up there at number one, which the Chinese never considered, was a nasty little thing called Freedom of the Press. (Now as a writer, I think it’s inherently unfair to reveal the Founder’s early draft, after all, they didn’t publish until they had the 10 and if you saw any of my earlier drafts I’d dig a hole and hide.)

Freedom of the Press (along with Speech and Religion) was a founding part of this nation’s psyche, government and culture. Last month that little notion of freedom arose again in a small revolution in South China. Not exactly the Redcoats against the farmers, but a small local newspaper dared to print something close to the truth. This brought upon it a hefty dose of scorn and consternation from the old party apparatchiks of the ruling elite in Beijing.

But then, with the internet and with the world going the way it is, those old Chinese guys in the Politburo must have said to themselves “Hey wait, what’s so bad about this?” or “Hey, maybe if we give them just a little, we can keep a lid on this thing.”

Perhaps they had this old Chinese proverb in mind when they decided to loosen up a bit:

That which doesn’t bend, breaks.

So they bent a little. A seemingly tacit allowance of what would, five years ago, buy you a ticket to the reeducation camp or a bullet in the brain – a bullet your own family would be billed for after your death – Communist Party family values being what they are.

But here is the most tantalizing question of all, if the Chinese Communists were to suffer a come to Jefferson moment and, more unbelievably, grant a Bill of Rights to their billions of subjects which of our 10 would never see the light of a Chinese day?

Send me your answer vis-a-vis the comment section.  I’ll give you my ‘forbidden amendment’ next time.

Tom Avitabile, Free Press in China?

Tom Avitabile
Tom@TomAvitabile.com