Working On What Was Spoiled

First a brief note: I have said I’m sleeping a lot.  Make that A LOT.  Also things are falling out of my head faster than rain.  If I promised to meet you somewhere and I’m not there, for the love of heaven, text me.

I have no idea what is causing this.  I’m certainly NOT overworked, and I certainly am not nearly as ill as I was last year.

The only thing I can figure out is that I’m going through what used to happen when I finished a novel and I had “novel flu” and would sit in front of the TV without moving for three days.  Only this isn’t finishing a novel (I’m hoping to on the plane.  Certainly if we can get an upgrade, but even if the plane has a modicum of space, which sometimes happens in international flights — did on my last — and I can open my laptop.  It’s ten hours, undisturbed, which I haven’t had in a year give or take.)  This is the two years of packing/moving/packing/moving/repeat ad infinitum.  Oh, sure, when I get home I still have stuff to unpack (if I can at all swing the money — it will take about 1k, and frankly part of me would rather spend it on tiling the bathrooms or something more permanent.  On the other hand, getting done with unpacking is essential so I can concentrate and WORK — I’ll get a helper or a couple of them, so we can be done, before Robert’s school starts, and so I can finish the fantasy novel with Kevin J. Anderson, MHI Guardian, MHI… is that a snerk collar guys? Puts two fingers in for air, MHI Dark Fate, and aughhhhhhhh  damn snerk collar, and then the Dragon trilogy.  (I haven’t forgotten.  No. First thing Oleg asked me.)

But first I need the house unpacked and to get in people to fix the stuff that will get worse if we wait, like the gutters and the porch.

That’s the treadmill I’m on and have been on.  Unpack, clean, unpack, clean, see if I can find money and people to do x y and z (yeah, I know, money will come as I work.  You see the catch 22, particularly as Colorado has maybe two months to get outdoor work done before the snow flies?)

But for the time I’m here, and to an extent the time I’m in Portugal, the treadmill has stopped.  I CAN’T physically unpack or even deal with contractors from a distance.  I suppose the last few days in Portugal I can order things I’m going to need at home.  But until then, there’s not much doing.  So part of me has decided it’s time to pay back sleep debt, and boy that account MUST have been overdrawn.

I suspect most of what I do in Portugal is sleep.  (Other than finish Darkship Revenge, and Royal Blood (I also didn’t forget that, or that I owe you Eternal Blood shortly thereafter, but that’s a known world, and books that have been pushing for five years, so it should be easy.  Pie in the sky I do both of those in Portugal.  And I resume Rogue Magic — now edited — when I come back.))

How this affects you: sometime in the next week, supposing I don’t lose internet access in Portugal, and Dan tells me I won’t (fingers crossed) I will have a Through Fire Short Story, to help it along as it comes out in paper in August.  I also have permission to post UNCANNONICAL, UNAPPROVED, UN-LARRY-SEEN snippets of Dark Fate while I’m in Portugal.  what this means is that though I have permission to play with Grant after I’ve done the Julie book, and send him to Portugal, and get him a gf, Larry hasn’t OBVIOUSLY read the result much less approved it or said “Hey, we’ll publish this” — that will take a while IF it happens — until then, this is a weird parallel world where Grant goes to Portugal and gets a girlfriend, and becomes much more human (poor thing.)  I’m hoping of course at sometime that the owner of the toybox of MHI makes it cannon, but when I post it here, it won’t be.

My posting hours get REALLY weird.  As in majorly weird.  I’ll be about eight hours ahead of where I normally am, I’ll be accommodating family business/time, and this means that sometimes I won’t be sure what time it is in EST where this blog is set.  Which means you might see posts pop up at eight pm and three am.  I’m sure you’ll deal.

Okay, that’s a note longer than the post, I think.

Yesterday I was talking with gentlemen who are starting an indie company, and hoping to do to movies what indie is doing to writing.  I THINK the tech is there, and I wish them all the best of luck (to them and others like them.)  BUT I had to try to explain a really weird mechanic.

They were talking about movies and things Hollywood no longer does well, like Romance, (they don’t you know?  It’s all romantic comedies, as though love must be laughed at, like kids do) and saying that the market must be there for it.

Indeed it is, I’m sure it is.  Just as it’s there for historical mystery, or Heyer’s type of romance, with lots of sizzle and none of the anatomy, or–

The POTENTIAL readers are still there.  We didn’t vanish in a poof of smoke as the major publishing houses thought we did when they decreed the genres were dead or “double plus ungood” like milsf and cozy mysteries.

The thing is Mil SF still has a market, not potential, but actual.  This is because Baen kept the flame burning through the dark night, and fed the appetite enough that people look for more of the same.  In fact, because Baen has such an ebook side, they look for ebooks.  And Baen, though of course, still publishing these, doesn’t produce two to three books a day, which is what super-readers consume.  This is why most of the big money made by indies is in Mil SF.

And that will tell you what the problem is with Romance movies — or books, if you don’t like describing what went where how many times and how lubricated it was — or historical mystery books.  Or cozy mysteries that are not craft mysteries, or I’m sure a dozen other genres and subgenres you guys could name:

The audience wandered away or, worse, was never formed.  I.e. the people who are still looking for historical mysteries are more likely to be looking in the bookstores, which are still an area of low indie-penetration.  Which means you’re still swimming against the current in building an audience and making a living.

For instance, the last time I looked at historical mystery to check the covers, most of the successes were indie.  But I also know from my own sales how few sales it takes to get to the top of that particular pile.

Do I mean you shouldn’t do it?  Oh, hell no.  You should do it with both feet, castanets and one of those little tambourines to show your way.

Those genres had a huge audience, before they became vehicles for preaching/whatever idiocy captured the establishment and were shut down.  That means the potential audience is HUGE and no one is harvesting it.

But you’ll have to grow it.  The field is destroyed and the younger readers now transitioning/reading in e-reader, don’t even know they existed as healthy genres one day, or that you could enjoy them or in the case of Romance (which has become equated with “lady porn”) do it any other way.

So it will take a while to grow those audiences.  It’s a matter of steady effort, of putting things out, of getting the word out (here, and Charlie and I are going to bring back the Friday push at PJM I promise.  And other places) and of not giving up.

There is a line in the i-ching (my friend Charles — Hi, Charles — is a practitioner) that goes “Work on what has been spoiled by the father.” If I understand (I’m not a practitioner) it denotes that a lot of work will need to be done just to get things to a functional state.  That is the case here.  Work on what has been spoiled.  Don’t expect miracles.  If you need the money while you’re re-growing the fallow field, force yourself to do a UF (which the mains have declared dead NOW, and are shutting down, but which still has an audience and a young one) or a mil sf, or something else you enjoy but which still has an audience of e-book readers actively looking for it.

And don’t give up.  Never give up.  The task before us is enormous.  Many fields have been thoroughly trashed by MBAs without a clue, or by humanities graduates with a crazy agenda, but people are still people.  Genres that attracted a certain type of people will still attract a certain type of people.  Because people in general don’t change, nor do their inclinations.  Sure, they might want it in more modern or glitzy packet, but if their parents wanted it, they still want something very much like it.

Work on what has been spoiled — in writing, in society, in politics. — It is the destiny of our generation to labor at this, and it might be that we never even see the results.  We will surely never see the FULL results.

But if our grandchildren (blood or of the heart) do; if they inherit a more vibrant, richer, marginally saner world?

Then we are justified.

Work on what has been spoiled.



95 responses to “Working On What Was Spoiled

  1. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    From my experience, “Being Under Stress” is very tiring and can cause you to sleep more than normal (when it isn’t costing you sleep).

    Sarah, IMO you have been under a lot of stress (note stress can be a reaction to “good things”) so I’m not surprised to hear about you sleeping more.

    Catch up on your sleep while you can. 😀

    • Stress was my quick diagnosis, too, but telling a person that tends to increase their stress levels, don’ it? Sleep, relaxation and play are always good therapy regardless of what ails.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Stress is natural but yes some people don’t like to hear somebody telling them that they are “stressed out”. 😉

        Note, I have problems with stress myself and I once told a woman I knew who was in the middle of packing house to move that she was stressed out.

        She didn’t like it but her husband (privately) agreed with me. 😀

      • “De-stress, and do it quickly, damn it!” does tend to be somewhat problematic advice.

  2. ” I.e. the people who are still looking for […] are more likely to be looking in the bookstores, which are still an area of low indie-penetration. Which means you’re still swimming against the current in building an audience and making a living.”

    People are NOT looking for what I’m writing in indie – and getting access to those people who buy the hardcover novels such as The Goldfinch is proving to be VERY hard.

    But that’s where I write, and it’s not going to change. We ARE going to connect; I don’t know how and when yet. I just need to force a few more (thousands) to TRY. Sheesh. You’d think I was feeding them poison.

    Happy Portugal trip. Catch up on your sleep – that’s what I always did when I went home. Come back restored a bit, pick up where you left off.

    • One of my authors calls it waiting for the lightening strike. There is a certain threshold of attention at which word of mouth catches fire and before you know it you have at least a solid hit if not a best seller. What an author must do is keep the faith and keep writing. When that strike occurs your very best friend is that solid back shelf of prior books which will suddenly attract much interest from readers of the latest one.
      All assuming naturally that you have created a solid well crafted and most importantly entertaining book.

      • Book, yes. I did that. ‘solid back shelf of prior books,’ nope. newbie’s don’t have that. A lot of indie promotion depends on that. I can’t.

        And Book 2 of Pride’s Children may take five years – and I’ll be hard at work the whole time. I hope it’s shorter, but I can’t guarantee it, not if it’s to be as good as Book 1.

        So I need different methods. I’m poking at things – so far not a big winner. By ‘One of my authors’ do you mean authors you like to read? Or authors you manage?

        • Manage? Heavens no.
          I serve as first and beta reader for several published but struggling authors. On rare occasions I will agree to do a final copy edit for an author friend prior to submission for publication. I am also a subject matter expert that an author can query about details in my areas of expertise which include science, engineering, manned space operations, and firearms.
          Comfortably retired so I can do that sort of thing as a hobby so as to encourage new writers to succeed in their efforts.
          Just back from Libertycon where I haunted the indie publishing track sharing what I know and learning a good deal from others.

  3. Take care. ((Hugs))

  4. Call it the packing flu– because you have been working really hard and your body is signally that it needs rest– Hugs

  5. UF? Not sure I know that TLA.

    Unrelated, sleep accounts are very easy to overdraw, but they always need to get paid back. In full. With interest. Take care of yourself.

  6. The reason there is no audience for “that type of thing” is because that particular audience has been burned too many times. We see this in our politics, in our entertainment, in pretty much everything these days. The promises are always the same, that this is the genuine article, the pure quill, the old-time religion … but halfway through we start sensing the author/filmmakers/pols haven’t got the confidence to give us what was promised, that they’re going to turn on us and offer up their bellies to the folks who’ve been screwing us right along.

    They just can’t help themselves, they want the “respect” of the cool kids, the smart set, the folks who know that everybody is a phony and nobody lives happily ever after. They don’t want to be dismissed by their fellow professionals as just making “Hallmark” cards for the [FillInTheBlank] market.

    And after a while we, the audience, stop caring. We are weary of being offered cake that tastes like sugared lard on cardboard. We’ve been conditioned to “know” our heroes will prove clay-footed, the virtuous will be found out as hypocrites and the wise fools.

    If every work of MilSF ended up preaching the futility of war, the protagonists wasting their lives for a cause sold out before the war even started — that genre, too, would be moribund. It is bad enough our politicians and statesmen do that in the real world, having our noses rubbed in it literally would be too much.

    • Back before he went full Trumpkin, John Nolte over at Brietbart used to write about the “liberal sucker punch” and its close cousin, the “liberal tell” in mysteries. The tell completely ruins any sort of mystery movie, TV show, or novel by liberals, because before you even start, you know that the white, Christian, Republican businessman did it. The sucker punch, though, can show up in any genre. You’re happily enjoying your fluffy romance or your juicy soap opera or your gory horror flic, when suddenly out of nowhere, a character shows up to lecture you about Republican voter suppression tactics or the racism of rural America. You feel like you’ve been punched in the gut, and after that, the story is kind of ruined.

      After enough of that, I could easily see a reader/watcher deciding that there was no point in trying anything new, because you’re just sick of being punched.

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        Some people pay good money to be abused. I’m not one of them.

      • The TV show “NUMB3RS”, which had a lot of potential, was ruined for me by the “liberal tell” issue. I used to say that they could save a lot of time on the show by just shooting the first white male conservative to appear on screen in each episode.

        • Sigh. Yeah. Same with most of TV and cable – if there is a Christian, White, Male – he done it.

          Except the Hallmark-related channels. My husband watches them all the time, no matter how sappy.

    • > sugared lard on cardboard

      I’d settle for that… most of what I’ve seen lately has been saccharine, partially hydrogenized vegetable oil, and that weird felt-like paper stuff that’s too weak to be chipboard.

  7. “And that will tell you what the problem is with Romance movies — or books, if you don’t like describing what went where how many times and how lubricated it was —

    The audience wandered away… to…be…in the bookstores, which are still an area of low indie-penetration.”

    I guess the bookstores will do anything to increase traffic these days.

    Fun with editing MSM-style aside, it sounds like your sleep situation is a natural reaction.

    And well-deserved.

  8. First part – the Bank of Sandman is not constrained by any of those silly consumer protection regulations – when the loan is due, they send the big bruisers around to collect. Sarah, you’ve run that credit line way up, so I’m not surprised.

    Second part – oh, my, yes. So many good things we used to have have been destroyed by publishers. They’re going to take a lot of resurrection…

    Sales ranking – well, I think it takes at least a few more sales to hit the charts in historical mystery. I was fortunate to not have a drink in hand the other night when I found that my first offering was at #3 in “Short Reads – Science Fiction and Fantasy.” Looked at the Amazon report. Looked back at the page. Looked again at the report. Yup, less than 20 downloads moved me into that spot. Talk about a shark in a swimming pool… (Still made the spouse and children look at it, though…)

    Funny thing is, the next (or is it really the first?) Tale By The Road is what I would call a light romantic piece. That one’s going to be interesting – since I’ve decided to not make it free at first, I’m wondering whether it will ever move off the flatline.

    • The secret to sales rankings is that the Amazon algorithm ranks you within your specific subgenre, thankfully not against the greater tsunami of all books released. Apparently, you hit a day when in the category “Short Reads – Science Fiction and Fantasy” 20 sales put you over the top.
      Amazon is funny that way, but a real pro told us at a workshop at LC this past weekend that when it happens you report the results and don’t go into any details about the numbers. You were number 3 in your category on Amazon! And no one can take that away from you.

      • Forgot to mention – when it is free, apparently you really need to tack that on to the category in your head, you can’t do it in the search (unless you are in the top 100). The ranking zipped right back down to somewhere in the 400s when it came off of free yesterday. Which makes a lot more sense.

        • The categories are actually different for free books. I’ve actually been in the top 40 of “Free horror” once when I did a freebie. once that day was over, it was back to the regular category as if I hadn’t left it. In fact, the rank dropped because those sales didn’t count.

  9. The problem with indie movies is cast and crew. Not to demean the wonderful indie writers that I tremendously enjoy, but your work-to-reward ratio is a PC (that you probably already own) and an author’s or two’s cost of labor.
    For a movie, there are cameras, sets (or bluescreen and CGI), crew and actors cost of labor.
    Then there is data. Ebooks are really gnat sized, but movies are elephants. And there are no movie-kindles. Acceptance and marketing are also issues. Ebooks have somewhat reached the ‘tide lifts all boats’ area. Greater success yields greater interest and sales, and eventually, rises to the point that an author can afford to live off indie writing. I don’t think it is impossible for movies, and yes, Hollywood only puts out drek (which helps the indies), and yes, I’m positive Amazon will be glad to embrace the delivery mechanisms. The big problem is the break-even point will be much higher and the initial barriers to entry much greater.

    Enjoy your time in Portugal. Spend time having fun. We all will survive and be refreshed and revitalized with snark and carptastic comments when you get home.

    • “For a movie, there are cameras, sets (or bluescreen and CGI), crew and actors cost of labor.”

      That’s where the technology comes in. Right now a sub-$1000 camera will allow you to shoot at the same quality, at least for anything this side of IMAX, as the studios. Technology also allows you to replace a good deal of the crew that the studios are saddled with thanks to union agreements. As for actors, there are far more people who can act than there are jobs in Hollywood, so finding talented people willing to work cheap is quite doable.

      Yes, the costs of entry are higher for movies than for writing – that’s been the case since the days of Buster Keaton – but technology makes them hardly insurmountable and they’re lowering every day. The biggest hurdle is going to be the unions. If they decide to blackball anyone who participates in the true indy film industry it will hurt recruiting. They also have enough power to get legislatures and regulators to make things difficult. It won’t help them, we can route around them – see Paramount and their Axanar lawsuit – but it will slow us down.

      • I have seen a number of excellent short indie films posted to YouTube. Often they are used to gather interest in a crowdfunding campaign to make a feature length version. While the possibility of being blackballed by the major studios for working on a “scab” film can be a deterrent, it’s less than it used to be. The studios are seen as such a dynasty system–you get in by being related to someone who is already in–that people who want to just make movies are turning more and more to indies.

        And nowadays, there are “movie-kindles”. Most Americans own at least one device that will stream video, usually more than one. Streaming services, like Netflix, are also much more open to indie produced content than they were even a few years ago. I saw “The Guild”, “Red & Blue”, and “LXD” all on Netflix.

        • It’s already getting there for independent animation companies such as the guys doing Red vs. Blue and RWBY. I OWN the software they did the first one in, though they make their own shaders. It’s not insanely expensive as such things go.

          • I have both Blender and DAZ studio installed on this laptop, and in theory I could make animated films on it. (In practice my machine is so slow that I’d be spending days to render each second of video.)

            • I have Poser and Silo. My desk top can handle shorts at you-tube quality relatively easily. (It has. Though nothing yet screen worthy. Mostly me figuring bits of animation out.) If I wanted to toss in Luxrender the time would up but the quality would be much better on the image. I also have VUE which is much more expensive and can handle shorts with it as well. It’s getting it all together that’s the tough bit.

      • Normally, everything on a movie set is rented, not owned by the production. This requires an ecosystem of pro-grade rental companies who will keep their stuff in good shape and updated as to firmware etc., or alternately a studio with a captive equipment rental arm (so thay can play bookeeping games and never ever show a profit on any production).

        The capabilities of the new hardware are really amazing, as the cost comes down the rental companies can buy more and charge less to rent it out, and some of the new companies (i.e. Red) are doing innovative things to help make their equipment available as rentals, but you need lights and dollies and steadicams and rigging stuff and lots more unless you are doing pure shaky-cam low light cinema verite like Blair Witch.

        I personaly think we will get a revolution in movies, driven by the wide access to moviemaking and the ability to skip the distributing arms, but it’s going to take a while to climb the learning curve for all the crafts, not just the director and cinematographer stuff, and thus to build a more distributed production support ecosystem to enable that work to happen at a lot lower investment point.

        • Hardware and software image stabilization are progressing so rapidly that if the day hasn’t come where dollies and steadicam can be replaced by an intern walking around with the camera it isn’t far off.

          Likewise, I don’t think it will be too long before pro-grade cameras automatically record in HDR, allowing the director doing his editing and post-processing on his PC to include nearly any kind of lighting effect desired.

          • Hah! Just remembered the name…

            Freddie Wong. The daughter got me to watching “Video Game High School” (I think it’s still on NetFlix). Now the story line is not exactly the greatest (including a “WTF” moment at the start of, IIRC, season three). But the production values – I really couldn’t tell any difference from at least a major studio TV show.

            Like any proper indie, he also shares how he does it – dang, I’ve buried the link somewhere, I know I did have it at one time… Oh, here –

      • The biggest hurdle is going to be the unions.

        Ah cain’t hardly wait to hear HRC and Lizzy Boredom Warren screeching, “The Public MUST be protected from the scourge of unregulated, untrained, uncertified actors!”

    • “I’m positive Amazon will be glad to embrace the delivery mechanisms.”

      *waggles hand*

      Yes and no. Amazon currently offers to stream indie movies through Createspace. The catch is that the do not accept any movies without full captioning. I was going to offer a hunting video I sell through my own website (on DVD, not streaming) just out of curiousity, to see if I would garner any sales of streaming such a video through Amazon. But I suspect the sales would be nil to microscopic, so it really isn’t worth the headache of learning how to caption and then doing the whole thing.

  10. Christopher M. Chupik

    “MHI Dark Fate”

    Darkfate Hunters? 😉

  11. Has Hollywood really given up on serious romance? It’s not a genre I seek out, but I feel like romance is one of those things Hollywood has always done in a big way, even if they feel the need to make sure that everyone knows that all of the good guys follow the Progressive line of the year the movie was made.

    Of course, the big counterexample I was going to give was Titanic, and then I thought about it and realized that Titanic was nearly 20 years ago. This is really making me feel old…

  12. I am seeing a lot of readers who are looking for books combine the kind of depth and warmth of character that they find in “serious” fiction with the kind of fantastic elements they find in superhero and fantasy films.

    Sadly, they don’t realize that such a genre exists, and has existed for decades. It’s what Science Fiction used to be, and could be again.

    More than once I have seen someone recommend my books by saying “It’s like Science Fiction (or Fantasy) but with good characters.” The image of Science Fiction as being the home of people that you wouldn’t want to spend time with in the real world is very prevalent among new readers.

    I do think that is starting to turn around, mainly through the influence of the Comic Con “non-Trufan” crowd who are starting to recommend fiction to each other. People want novels that have characters that they can admire as much as they admire Black Widow and Captain America in the Avengers movies, and when they find them they are very enthusiastic about telling their friends.

    This is why characters like Harry Dresden are developing such big fan clubs. He’s certainly not a perfect person, but he knows what is right and wrong and tries to do what is right, and achieves it more often than not.

    There is a big market for exciting fiction which features likable characters and fantastic elements. The problem lies in branding it for an audience that has been taught that Science Fiction means depressing stories about reprehensible people.

  13. Christopher M. Chupik

    Speaking of idiocy capturing the establishment, I had an epiphany about the Ghostbusters reboot recently. Consider this? What’s Ghostbusters about? If you answered: “Fighting the patriarchy”, you may just be qualified to work in Hollywood.

    • My reaction: I watched the first two Ghostbusters movies, I’ll probably watch this one. Then bad reviews, I’ll probably still watch it. Then, the bad reviews are sexist, you have to watch it and you have to like it. Forget it.

    • Sara the Red

      The one review I’ve seen thus far regarding the new Ghostbusters follows precisely what I’ve been predicting for it: it’s an unfunny mess, that took a potentially very excellent comedic cast (supposedly, I don’t actually watch most things those particular women have been in, since I find ‘raunchy’ comedy to also be deeply unfunny) and wasted it.

      Pffft. I could tell that from the trailer.

    • I saw that trailer when I went to see the new Tarzan movie. I didn’t get even a mild smile out of it.

  14. The problem is that publishing and the other entertainment industries are now part of global media conglomerates. There are too many “money people” between the work and the results. It’s hard to escape a downward slide when you ARE the money person, but when an editor is just another cog in the chain and the CEO of the publishing house is too, responsibility gets dissolved to numbers and diffused through too many layers. Also the people paying the bills no longer have any contact with the material that pays those bills except as numbers that are already obsolete and that the money people don’t understand anyway. The typical publishing industry exec could probably tell you the numbers, but not how the product was created and more than likely doesn’t read his own books.

    • I’ve started to avoid almost any “entertainment” where I can trace back the producer to some company with “GmbH” in the name.

      Humorless Germans? Dunno. But it seems to be a correlation between “German owner” and “dreck entertainment.”

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        Years ago I read something claiming that some movies are made to fail in order to satisfy the tax code of some country. Uwe Boll and the German tax code may have been mentioned.

  15. Hi, Sarah. Yeah, I get that one a lot, needless to say. When I copy it down, I prefer the archaic spelling “spoilt.”
    You mentioned movies. The Red camera, the one that can shoot movie quality “film,” doesn’t need film, doesn’t need for you to stop and spend something like 20 minutes to reload for every ten minutes you shoot, can be rented for about as much as a U-Haul truck, If you hear anybody mention that they have access to a digital camera and are considering an independent movie, jump in and say you can write a script (then go to the bookstore for the many books telling you how to do that.) I mean, I spent all my time at “The Blair Witch Project” moaning to myself, what this could have been if only they had had a decent script!

    • Hollywood is full of the types that would remake The Blair Witch Project, only to reshoot it with a SteadyCam.

      • Well, there are consumer cameras with a kind of steadycam, so you have access to a steadycam for your Red cam, why not.

        • The point being that the shaky camera work was a major part of what made The Blair Witch Project so special. Remakes are being made by people who don’t understand what made the things they’re remaking special. (Ghostbusters, for example).

    • They HAD a script? Who’da thunk…

      • Actually they didn’t have a script. The cast was left notes giving them a general idea of what was going to happen on that day’s shooting, and the rest was improv. The director’s original plan was to just use the found footage to make a mock documentary around, but after he reviewed the found footage he decided to use that by itself.

        That film worked for me, because it felt very real, but different people reacted differently.

        • 😀

          Didn’t work for me. Maybe I have spend too much time in the forest. General feel the whole time was “city idiots”. Not even the weird stuff seemed scary since it mostly just seemed like somebody playing pranks on them, not anything supernatural, and it took too long before the pranks started to look like maybe made by somebody maybe dangerous instead by somebody with a very juvenile sense of humor. A bear would have been scary. Most of the pranks seemed like they should have merited a shrug, not getting worked up over them. And then they just kept getting more lost. Which I guess might be scary, except I have never gotten truly lost in a forest so I don’t really know what it feels like. Why not just walk back the same way you came, stupid characters? Didn’t you pay any attention to your surroundings? Should have… I always have, and I always have been able to walk back the same way if I needed to. It’s not as if it all looks the same. It hardly ever does, not really if you pay some attention. And I am by no means any kind of super woodcraft specialist. Not even close. I just look around often and notice what I see.

          Yes, I know it was supposed to happen because the witch was playing with their minds (or surroundings), but the characters hadn’t exactly convinced me of their skills before that happened so they mostly just seemed clueless. 😀

          And yes, it cranked up towards the end, but by then I was mostly just bored so that didn’t work either because I was merely hoping it would end so I could go and do something more interesting.

          So yes, I thought that a script with a real story would have been nice.

          • I think that your background skill set probably did have a lot to do with it. For me, just being in the woods at all is uncomfortable and scary. I had no problem believing that they could get lost a short walk into the woods because I think that I could probably get lost a short walk into the woods. (I avoid being out of sight of civilization for exactly this reason.)

            It sounds like you reacted to it the way that I reacted to M. Night’s film “Devil”. Since I am in building maintenance, I kept coming up with simple and obvious solutions to the problem of the characters being stuck in the elevator, and I couldn’t get past the fact that no one in building could see them.

            • I find that most movies, and all too many books, are ruined if you have a clue about the setting. Because it is all too obvious that the author/scriptwriter doesn’t.

              • Yeah. A lifetime spent working in commercial physical security has pretty much ruined heist movies for me.

                • Oh dear, I bet.

                  I can handwave a lot of movie (or comic book) science, even approximately in my field and laugh at a lot of the rest, and yet the protagonist of The Bee Movie being a male bee trying to avoid a life of hard labor just bugs me.

                  • Feather Blade

                    Part of what bothered me about “National Treasure” (that is the title of Nicholas Cage’s declaration-of-independence-as-a-treasure map, right?) was that the rickety staircase into the treasure chamber was built with round-shanked nails supposedly in an era when square-shanked nails and probably interlocking joinery would have been used instead. (… which would have largely prevented the staircase from collapsing, but w/e..)

                    Also using lemon juice on an irreplaceable original historical document. Who does that!?

                • Heh. I can imagine.

                • I know between little and nothing about any kind of security stuff, and even with that I have found that usually those movies which build their suspense by showing some sort of specialists doing something while the clock is ticking tend to work best if you try not to pay any real attention at all to what exactly they are doing. If you try to figure out that pretty often there seem to be holes.

                  So, just notice they are doing something but don’t try to think what exactly, and pay attention only to the ticking clock or approaching security guard or whatever, and hey, maybe it works. But even so, sometimes the “willing suspension of disbelief” part still does require work. 😀

                • kenashimame

                  I almost always want to beat my head against something when I see a character on film pick a lock with just a pick and no torsion wrench.

                  • Free Range Oyster

                    Having opened a lock with an improvised torsion wrench (Heavy paper clip, straightened, doubled, and hooked) I gained a much greater appreciation for the proper tool.

  16. Interesting about the stress and sleep thing. I just recently got out from under a big problem ( gummint related, natch), and now I find myself wanting to sleep constantly. Guess I’m missing the stress adrenaline.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      I think the “stress adrenaline” burns up body energy but keeps you going anyway.

      Thus after the “stress” is over you need to build up body energy and that often requires sleep.

  17. You will be on my timezone. So maybe I don’t need to wait until evening for the blog posts. 🙂 (Hm… first comments… Whee!)

  18. OT but:
    Is mixing and matching AR15 complete upper and lowers from different manufacturers a problem?

    Is the 1:8 rifling turn a good compromise for different bulletweights?

    If I get a T-shirt with a picture of an AR-15 on it will women find me irrestible? (Optional question.)

    • A, not usually a problem assuming decent quality upper and lower, but check the fit before you purchase.

      B, 1 in 8 will stabilize the military M193 (55) and M855 (62) round, it won’t stabilize the M856 tracer which is why they use 1 in 7. It won’t work on the heavier match bullets like the 80 Sierra and, IIRC the 77 grain. Unless you want to shoot match 1 in 8 is a great twist

      C, not going there.

    • #1: I’ve never even heard about any issues from mixing manufacturers. The critical dimensions are the locations of the disassembly pins and the shape where the upper and lower come together, which basically just make sure the hammer swings up into the space in the bolt carrier group to hit the back side of the firing pin, and that the top of the fully inserted magazine is in the right place for the next round to get picked up and pushed into the chamber when the bolt cycles forward. All the moving back and forth save the trigger pull and resulting hammer swing is fully contained in the upper.

      #2: I would think so – it looks like a 1 in 8 twist is a favorite of the three-gun folks, and the reasoning makes sense on non-flagpole length barrels. You can always get another upper with a different twist if you decide you want a really long barrel for really light bullets, i.e. for prarie dogs or such.

      #3: Absolutely yes. Trust me. Just sit back at any 3-gun meet and wait for the line to form.

      • But Judge Posner is still a moron.

      • 1:8 is your best all-around choice. 1:7 and 1:9 are mostly “off the end of the bell curve” for commonly-available ammunition.

        I went with 1:8 for my AK-74. It was originally 5.45×39, but it was easy enough to change it to 5.56×45 while building it…

      • Actually mix-and-not-match can be a problem depending on the mfg. I move a lot of Rock River Arms product and their stuff is very tight on the specs. I’ve had to mill out a couple of lowers that would not close on another mfg. upper. Measuring things, the RR lower was about 0.010″ smaller at the rear where the pin stud on the upper drops down into the lower. Had to buy an end mill to do the job, which is why I remember it.
        If you stick with stuff that is built to “milspec” you should be okay.
        That said, the RR guns have a very tight lockup compared to a lot of other mfg’s.

    • If I get a T-shirt with a picture of an AR-15 on it will women find me irrestible?

      Only for certain values of irresistible.

      Also: certain values of women.

  19. Ah! Luxurious sleep! Enjoy your vacation! Catch up on family, sleep, friends, childhood memories of places now changed . . . and with luck, a few that haven’t.

  20. kenashimame


  21. Captain Comic

    Don’t know your feelings on association football or reflected national glory, but good on the old country for winning Euro.

  22. BobtheRegisterredFool

    Everyone remember the 500 general officers who endorsed Romney by newspaper ad just before the 2012 election? I just checked, and I don’t see a Michael Flynn on that list. Wiki says he hadn’t retired at that point, and had later been appointed to a position by Obama.

    I’m a little bit bored and antsy. The news cycle is slow, and I strongly suspect the next week or two could potentially decide the general election.

    • The largely-mythical “undecided voter”?

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        I told myself on May 3 that the election was decided for Hillary, that Trump was no better, and not to put my hopes in the Presidency. I am weak, and have failed to entirely remove my hopes to a more appropriate location.

        Next week is the meeting of the RNC rules committee, and the week after is the convention.

        I have resigned myself to voting for Johnson of the Libertarian Party, both of which I hate and oppose, unless the Constitution Party can put Castle on my ballot. The Constitution Party’s foreign policy platform is not serious, but I’ve not seen any serious foreign policy options.

        We shall see what happens at the RNC.

    • Flynn was still serving, and was head of DIA until Winter 2014:

      The military fired me for calling our enemies radical jihadis
      By Michael Flynn
      July 9, 2016 | 11:26pm
      Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who is reportedly being vetted by Donald Trump as a potential running mate, was fired as head of the ­Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in the winter of 2014 after three decades in the military. Here he tells the real story of his departure from his post and why America is not getting any closer to winning the war on terror.

      Two years ago, I was called into a meeting with the undersecretary of defense for intelligence and the director of national intelligence, and after some “niceties,” I was told by the USDI that I was being let go from DIA. It was definitely an uncomfortable moment (I suspect more for them than me).

      I asked the DNI (Gen. James Clapper) if my leadership of the agency was in question and he said it was not; had it been, he said, they would have relieved me on the spot.

      I knew then it had more to do with the stand I took on radical Islamism and the expansion of al Qaeda and its associated movements. I felt the intel system was way too politicized, especially in the Defense Department. After being fired, I left the meeting thinking, “Here we are in the middle of a war, I had a significant amount of combat experience (nearly five years) against this determined enemy on the battlefield and served at senior levels, and here it was, the bureaucracy was letting me go.” Amazing.

      At the time, I was working very hard to change the culture of DIA from one overly focused on Washington, DC, to a culture that focused on our forward-based war fighters and commanders. It was not an easy shift, but it was necessary and exactly the reason I was put into the job in the first place.

      In the end, I was pissed but knew that I had maintained my integrity and was determined in the few months I had left to continue the changes I was instituting and to keep beating the drum about the vicious enemy we were facing (still are).

      I would not change a lick how I operate. Our country has too much at stake.

      We’re in a global war, facing an enemy alliance that runs from Pyongyang, North Korea, to Havana, Cuba, and Caracas, Venezuela. Along the way, the alliance picks up radical Muslim countries and organizations such as Iran, al Qaeda, the Taliban and Islamic State.

      That’s a formidable coalition, and nobody should be shocked to discover that we are losing the war.

      If our leaders were interested in winning, they would have to design a strategy to destroy this global enemy. But they don’t see the global war. Instead, they timidly nibble around the edges of the battlefields from Africa to the Middle East, and act as if each fight, whether in Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Libya or Afghanistan, can be peacefully resolved by diplomatic effort.


      • Additionally, Flynn is reported to be a registered Democrat and has expressed a pro-choice inclination:

        “What people do in their private lives, these are not big issues that our country is dealing with that will cause our country to collapse,” retired Gen. Michael Flynn told ABC’s “This Week.” “I’m more concerned that our country could collapse because we are not dealing with education issues, immigration issues.”

        On abortion, Flynn, 56, took a position opposite that of Trump — and the bulk of the Republican Party.

        “Abortion, I think it’s a, I think for women, and these are difficult issues, but I think women have to be able to choose,” Flynn said.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          Yeah. When he says that education is a significant priority, is he favoring or opposing rentseeking and pederasty?

          • It kinda depends on how you define education, don’ it?

            If by education you mean measurable achievement in a variety of intellectual skill sets which enable you to perform myriad necessary tasks for participation as a self-sufficient member of an advanced republican society, that’s something I support.

            If by education you mean heavy indoctrination in a philosophy of envy resentment and entitlement combined with an unjustified presumption of moral superiority to people who haven’t had your “advantages” while utterly lacking any concept of how to support your self except by looting the paychecks of others, well then, I reckon I’m agin that.

            If Flynn (and Trump) stood up and demanded decertification of teachers’ unions and elimination of the Federal Department of Education as a waste of money and haven for overweening bureaucrats lusting for power over “the masses” I suspect this election would be called before the polls closed in Chicago.

            To borrow from a Dick Armey speech:
            I’m reminded of something Phil Gramm once said. He was on TV with a left-wing advocate of some sort, and he said in passing that “The problem is people in Washington don’t love our children as much as we do.” And the advocate took offense at that. And she said, “Senator, I think I love your children every bit as much as you do.” And he said, “Oh yeah? What are their names?”

  23. Ok, somebody (and I hasten to add, a professional councellor) once told me that moving was one of the top four stressful events a person was likely to undergo in a lifetime. It ranks with death of a parent, marriage, and divorce.

    You’ve moved HOW many times in the last year?

    • I would think death of a spouse would be higher than any of the “top four” mentioned.

      • Death of a spouse is most often a not unanticipated event and allows time to adjust. While death of a parent shares similar aspects, the relationship does differ.

        Of course, if the spouse dies of old age and its attendant miseries, that passing may come as relief or at such a time as you’re beyond much stress yourself.

        • Perhaps a better guide than any “Top Four” or “Top Ten” list, this gif from the APA:

          © 2016 American Psychological Association

  24. On that person you forgot to meet with.
    Hard to text when you also forgot to give her your phone number.
    Hopefully the next two weeks will allow you to recover and get back in shape. That meeting isn’t the only thing you’ve forgotten lately, and that’s something we need to address. Only a matter of time before you forget something important.

  25. “I’m sleeping a lot. Make that A LOT. Also things are falling out of my head faster than rain.”