CASCADE FALLS OVER AMERICA TOUR!

CascadeFalls

INITIAL DATES…

3/26 - 7 PM Santa Monica, CA.   Barnes and Noble – 1201 3rd St. Promenade Santa Monica, CA 90401

4/17 PM West Hollywood, CA.  Book Soup – 8818 Sunset Blvd, W. Hollywood, CA 90069

4/4 – 2 PM Ventura, CA.  Barnes and Noble – 4820 Telephone Rd. Ventura, CA 93003

4/8 – 7 PM Huntington Beach, CA  Barnes and Noble – 7881 Edinger Ave, Huntington Beach, CA 92647

4/25 - Time TBD Annapolis, MD  Annapolis Book Fest, 534 Hillsmere Dr. Annapolis MD. 21403

5/9 – 4 PM Corte Madera, CA  Book Passage – 51 Tamal Vista Blvd, Corte Madera, CA 94925

6/23 – 7 PM Hollywood, CA  Toastmasters Club – 8900 Emerson Ave. Los Angeles, CA. 90045

Know Thyself (Without Breaking The Bank)

brreclusWHAT POISONOUS ARACHNID ARE YOU?

I got Brown Recluse Spider.

Thanks to advances in Internet technology, we’ve long had the ability to listen to music, watch videos and do research free of charge. Now there’s a new kid on the Free Stuff block — Self-Knowledge. Talk about a game-changer. Why send your therapist’s kids to private school when you can get all the answers online? For free. It sounds too good to be true, but in one week, I learned everything I needed to know about myself simply by taking social media quizzes. Never has enlightenment been so easy. You find a quiz on Facebook, answer nine questions related to the subject, and boom, out pops another revealing piece of your personal puzzle.

Some of my results:

WHAT SODA ARE YOU?

I got Coke Zero.

WHAT INTERNATIONAL GOTHIC ARTIST ARE YOU?

I got Tilman Riemenschneider.

WHAT COMMUNICABLE DISEASE ARE YOU?

I got diphtheria.

WHAT UTENSIL ARE YOU?

I got soup spoon.

WHAT POEM ARE YOU?

I got “Howl.”

WHAT MOURNFUL CRY ARE YOU?

I got howl.

You get the idea. The more quizzes you take, the more doors you unlock. For twenty years, I had been using the man-sized bars of Safeguard. Then I took the soap quiz and lo and behold…

I got Dove.

Which naturally influenced the result of the next quiz:

WHAT FAT BIRD ARE YOU?

After fifty-seven quizzes, I have more self-knowledge than I know what to do with, the only glitch being that there is an enormous amount of information to retain. The other day I was looking for a new place to live, but I suddenly forgot — am I ‘rent’ or am I “buy?”  On my last trip to the mall, I couldn’t remember if I was “freeway” or “surface streets” and wound up crashing into the median divider. Feeling stiffness in my neck, I then drew a blank as to whether I was “orthopedist” or “chiropractor.”  I saw my world starting to unravel when I suddenly realized that all the answers were on my smart phone — I just needed to check Facebook. Quickly going to log in…

I got empty battery.

Which made perfect sense, because twenty-two quizzes ago I had been asked…

WHAT PHONE ARE YOU?

I got landline. 

I soon realized that the abundant riches of self-knowledge had become a lot for me to manage. One day, tired of berating myself for not remembering what casual shoe I was, I started to look for help.  As luck it would have it, I located a professional on Craig’s List who calls himself a “Social Media Response Organizer.”  There’s no Internet test he hasn’t seen, no answer that fazes him. In less than half an hour, Dr. Quiz outfitted me with a lightweight digital wristband housing my entire history of answers. Then we met for three sessions to make sure I’m applying everything I’ve learned — all for only $1800.   Pleased with my progress, I decided to celebrate by taking one more quiz.

WHAT PERSONALITY TYPE ARE YOU?

I got schmuck.

****

“But I Just Want To Write…”

BruceandTimHere I am, in my guest starring role as a chair rental delivery guy in the series finale of “Home Improvement.”  I’m not really an actor, and based on the look I’m getting from Tim, he seems to agree.  It’s a look many Executive Producers have witnessed from their stars, the studio, the network, or any number of entities whose bottom line is at all dependent on our talents. Producing is a high-pressure gig, no doubt about it.  Most of us started out as writers, only to find ourselves becoming business people as our responsibilities increased.  It’s perfectly natural to fantasize: “What if I could just be a writer again?”

I didn’t know whether or not I was capable of penning a novel, but getting back to the written word in its pure, unadulterated form seemed like a challenge worth exploring.  Once I actually finished my first book (without the “benefit” of network notes), I felt elated… that is, until I realized I had to become a businessman all over again.  Since there were zillions of books published each year, both traditionally and independently, I had to ask myself: “How are people going to become aware of mine?”  I was ready to share on Facebook, tweet on Twitter, tumble on Tumbler —  whatever it took to spread the word.  The one thing for which I was totally unprepared was PUBLIC SPEAKING.   Wasn’t I supposed to be holed up in my garret, creating evocative flights of fancy for lucky readers to embrace unconditionally?  Apparently not.  The mandate was to get out in the world and do speaking engagements — reading from the book… and sometimes not.  Turns out, certain venues do not want to hear authors read.  They simply want us to talk about ourselves.  Isn’t that what actors are for?  Good actors?

It didn’t seem fair, but I sucked it up and forced myself to learn how to be the center of attention.  It never does feel completely natural, but you do whatever it takes to honor the work.  And sometimes the results aren’t so bad…IMG_4079

 

The Audiobook. Here at Last!

BruceJasonheadphones copy

A little over a year ago, I had the honor of going into the studio with the amazingly talented Jason Alexander, and watching him record the audiobook for Elevating Overman. Through the various trials and tribulations of getting the files digitally ready for Audible and the other audio powers that be, it’s taken until Hanukkah 2014 to see this come to fruition.

The upside, and it is huge — Jason did a phenomenal job.  But don’t take my word for it.  Check out a sample from MY BEST HANUKKAH GIFT EVER!  And should you need a little holiday gift for someone you love… what could it hurt?

Happy and Merry to all,
Bruce

Writers Who Break the Law!

firstwritingHere I am, back in the Mesozoic Day with my Hermes 3000 portable and legal pad, flanked by a pack of Merits, a box of kitchen matches, and a beer of indeterminate brand.  A budding procrastinator to be sure, but a future criminal?

Yes, indeed — at least according to the nice folks at Getty Images, the largest photo licensing service in the world.  How did I wind up turning to a life of crime, you ask?  Simply by dragging one of their pictures off the internet and onto my author blog, not knowing it was copyrighted. There was no indication of ownership on the picture, there were no people in it, and it really wasn’t essential to my blog post — I just thought it added a whimsical visual touch.

Apparently, Getty Images isn’t all that big on whimsy.  They sent me a letter demanding a $1200 payment, due in thirty days.  If I didn’t comply, the matter would be handed over to lawyers.  I, of course, was appalled. I didn’t steal anything.  It had to be a mistake. Or a scam. Seeking comfort and validation, I rushed into the loving arms of Google, where I found numerous sources who said to ignore Getty’s predatory trolling.  Just to make sure, I called a friend who is a top Los Angeles litigator. He informed me that not only was Getty’s claim legal, but that his wife had had a similar experience with her website and he advised her to pay.  Copyright law states that you are responsible for using an image even if you didn’t know it was copyrighted, and you have to pay for it retroactively.

Still unable to come to grips with being penalized for an innocent mistake, I tracked down the photographer who took the picture.  He sympathized with my plight and called the fee outrageous, but said he was powerless to do anything and I’d have to take it up with Getty. So I called their lawyers, informing them of my innocence. “I never would have used the image if I knew it cost $1200.”

How many times do you think they’d heard that?  And how often do you think it did any good?  The best they could offer me was a reduced payment of $800.  They presented it as a bargain, but caving to their demands still seemed like saying “uncle” for the schoolyard bully.  I re-Googled the internet folks who seemed sure that Getty doesn’t bother suing for small amounts, they just threaten.  Convincing myself I was safe, I casually mentioned my experience to friend who owns his own photo news service.  He told me that licensing companies now have cases like mine down to a science — they sue people all the time for small and big amounts over the use of their images, and should I choose to ignore them, my $800 claim could easily become $10,000.  He advised me to pay.

Tail between my legs, I called back the Getty lawyer, whereupon I was informed that they had raised the fee back to $1200. I told her that I didn’t want to deal with this anymore.  (At that point, she knew she had me.)  “What if I were to give you my credit card number and have you charge me right now?” I inquired softly.

The fee got cut back to $800 and I claimed victory — because the nightmare was over.  Moral of the story: Authors — take your own blog photos or get them from royalty-free websites.  You’ll save yourselves a lot of money and even more headaches.

Come to think of it, I have no idea who took the picture above. They could be suing me any day now….

 

 

ISRAEL DECLARES VICTORY IN BOYCOTT WAR

JERUSALEM, Israel (IP) – While there has been significant media attention surrounding the international boycott of Israeli goods, Israel has quietly mounted its own international effort to boycott products made by the Palestinians. Today, Israel announced that it is the clear winner in the battle of the boycotts.

Economic Affairs spokesman Eliyahu Ben-Hazar broke down the results thusly:

LIST OF ISRAELI-MADE OR ISRAELI-SUPPORTED PRODUCTS :

boycott-card.jan2012.front.640

LIST OF PALESTINIAN-MADE OR PALESTINIAN-SUPPORTED PRODUCTS:

N O T H I N G

Ben-Hazar pointed out that while the boycott of Israeli products garnered 350,000 signatures, the worldwide boycott of “nothing” has far eclipsed that success.   From South Africa to the University of California, the boycott of nothing is making its presence felt. UC Riverside student Juan Carillo told the UCR Highlander: “I thought depriving myself of nothing would be more difficult, but living without it really hasn’t affected my day-to-day life.” Similar sentiments were expressed from Japan to Norway.

Asked why he thought the Israeli-led boycott was far outreaching the Palestinian one, Ben-Hazar responded: “For the breadth of its existence, Israel has had to say ‘no’ to nothing.   The rest of the world is just catching up.”