Once Again, The Distinguished Gentleman From West Chester Strikes Comedy Gold

I’ve been disappointed in House Minority Leader John Boehner (R – Last Tanning Booth On Right).  I started a feature called “John’s Little Comments” to showcase some of his more moronic statements, like criticizing Barack Obama for trying to bring the Olympics in Chicago (which, last I checked, was located in the United States of America, which Mr. Obama is tasked with managing until at least January, 2013, possibly beyond.)

But when I started the new feature, John decided to keep his comments in the Not-Quite-So-Spectacularly-Stupid category.  Some of them were even mildly intelligent, though one can’t help noticing Senator Mitch McConnell’s clear unease standing next to him during trips to the White House for the President’s meetings with the loyal opposition.

Ah, but John’s come back strong, thanks to Sir Paul McCartney.  See, Sir Paul didn’t like George Bush.  Understandable.  A lot of people didn’t.  George is cool with that.  He’ll probably make a good ex-President for some of his comments since going home to Texas.  Hell, George even makes fun of himself, a lesson Nixon should have learned.  But then if he had that kind of chutzpah, we might not have had Watergate, and Jerry Ford and Jimmy Carter might not have been saddled with the mess they were left.  I digress.

While George W. Bush may be letting the slings and arrows bounce off him, even advising his successor on how to keep the job from getting to him, John “SPF 0.04” Boehner is not.  So when Sir Paul kids that it’s good that America now has a President “who knows what a library is,” John is righteously indignant.

“Like millions of other Americans, I have always had a good impression of Paul McCartney and thought of him as a classy guy, but I was surprised and disappointed by the lack of grace and respect he displayed at the White House.  I hope he’ll apologize to the American people for his conduct which demeaned him, the White House and President Obama.”

Gee, John, does that mean you’ll apologize for a lot of the blatant bullshit that’s come out of your mouth since January?  (And before?)  Or how about that time you handed out lobbyist checks on the floor of the House during a session?

Like The Good Book says, Mr. Boehner, remove the log from your eye before you reach for the splinter in someone else’s.  Mr. McCartney owes you an apology about as much as he owes you a cut from his ex-wife’s settlement.

Which is to say he owes you nothing.

But keep talking, John.  It’s quite entertaining.

In a Distorted View sort of way.

Expiration Date By Duane Swierczynski

[I originally wrote this for Mystery Scene, but it didn’t make the cut.  Still, I wanted to have my say about this book, so here is my review of The Pole with Soul’s latest.  – Jim]

Mickey Wade has landed in Frankford, the wrong side of Philadelphia.  Laid off from his job at the local alternative weekly, he’s holed up in his grandfather’s apartment.  On his first night, he chases a headache with what looks like an old bottle of Tylenol.  And wakes up in 1972.

Life on Mars?  No, it’s the latest bizarre tale from Duane Swiersczynski, Expiration Date.  In it, Wade discovers the pills give him out-of-body experiences in the past.  He’s a ghost in the year of his birth, but with very real consequences in the presence.  If he’s exposed to light, parts of his astral body disappear.  In the present, those parts go completely numb.  If that’s not unnerving enough, the pills, the people Mickey meets, and even the victims of a local serial killer all seem to be tied to the death of Mickey’s father.

Expiration Date is Swierczynski at his trippy best, in the spirit of his debut novel, Secret Dead Men.  The protag from that book even makes a cameo as a patient in a mental asylum late in the book.  The style, however, is tight and very fast, with comic-book style illustrations similar to his most recent thriller, Severance Package.  The format works especially well here as the book was originally intended to be serialized in the New York Times, who originally commissioned the story.

What’s most striking about Expiration Date is the combination of Swierczynski’s love of noir with his ability to spin real-world tales the dance in and out of the realms of fantasy and science fiction.  After all, only Swierczynski can open two novels with the narrator explaining how he died.  Talk about a killer opening.

The End Of The Professional Author?

Scott Adams, he of Dilbert fame, posits that, because you can get most content for free already, the value of said content will eventually reach 0.  No one will pay for content anymore.  He points to music, with a figure he admits is unreliable, though suggestive of a still-alarmingly large amount.   “I heard someplace, albeit unreliably, that 90% of all music that people own for personal use is stolen. Let’s agree that the real figure is some large number, if not 90%.”

Transfer this to books, specifically ebooks.  Adams believes the Kindle, Nook, and so on are merely postponing the inevitable, that eventually no one will pay for ebooks.  They’ll read them, but they won’t pay for them.  His culprit?

The iPad, which is essentially this generation’s version of the laptop.

I predict that the profession known as “author” will be retired to history in my lifetime, like blacksmith and cowboy. In the future, everyone will be a writer, and some will be better and more prolific than others. But no one will pay to read what anyone else creates. People might someday write entire books – and good ones – for the benefit of their own publicity, such as to promote themselves as consultants, lecturers, or the like. But no one born today is the next multi-best-selling author. That job won’t exist.

That scenario has been on my mind for a long time, but I have reason to disagree with Adams’ conclusion.  Why?

  • Sales of music downloads have gone up, not down.  Yes, large record labels are losing money.  That’s because they’re still basing their models on CD’s, a model whose roots go all the way back to Edison’s wax cylinders.  Mind you, the recording industry has had a full 16 years to figure this out and still doesn’t get it.  So now bands like Radiohead and Marillion are doing quite nicely without a label.  (Although Marillion still uses EMI to distribute its CD’s in most of the world.)
  • One word:  Netflix.  They sell video content, another format Adams says you can get for free on the Internet.  This model is also used by Rhapsody for music.  It’s being looked at by several smaller publishers and even some new epresses.
  • The Cloud:  Yes, that big, nebulous thing Google, Microsoft, and (let’s not kid ourselves.  You know this to be true.) Apple want you to store all your stuff on for a monthly fee.  Personally, I want all my financial records, writing, academic work, and home-made porno personal photos and Photoshoppery kept locally.  I don’t want to be cut off from it by storing it on some anonymous network-attached storage device in a bunker thousands of miles away.  That said, I already do my email via Gmail and Yahoo.  I let Moneywell Bank, that Bank That Owns Jim Winter™ balance my checkbook.  Half my credit card statements and all my academic records are online.  If recording, television and film, and publishing want DRM, they can have it in The Cloud by tying all my stuff to me because only I am supposed to be in that particular cubbyhole on the Web.
  • Presumes print is dead.  Print is not dead, but it is undergoing a sea change that will soon see its role reduced.  That much is inevitable.  There is always going to be a fundamental human distrust of the other that will demand hard copies be kept of something somewhere.

I don’t think the professional author is dead.  I do think the days of stupidly large advances and unprofitable sales models are rapidly coming to a close.  Change is coming.  Embrace it and survive.

The Future Of Edged In Blue

Blogging is going to get light around here soon.  I’ve recently agreed to join a new blog I’ll tell you about shortly.

The other driving factors are academics, which I’m forever whining about here and will do so through at least 2014, and writing.  Currently, I’m in the midst of the college term from hell, and everything has suffered, including writing.  Yes, I’ve blogged.  It’s the only writing I’ve been able to get done on a regular basis lately.  However, I need to write… yanno… fiction.  And reviews.  So as work on two ebook projects begins and the revisions to Holland Bay approach, it’s time to cut back.

Having said that, I’ll likely end up blogging more.

It happens.

Here’s A Question For You To Ponder…

JA Konrath’s The List got a couple of good sniffs from New York, but no sale.  (His agent couldn’t reach terms.)  It went on to sell 16,000 copies on Kindle.

While I don’t have near the brand recognition Joe does, The List‘s history prior to Kindle mirrors that of Road Rules.  So…

Do I actually sell Road Rules?  Would you pay $3.50 for it?  Or should I stick with my plan to give it away for free?

What are the pitfalls of going this route?  Inquiring minds wanna know.

Comments are open.  Have at.  I’ll just sit back, watch the fireworks, and hose off any flame wars that erupt.

UPDATE:  Oh, what the hell!  Let’s make it a poll.