Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Last Stand

I have read a few books about Custer...ok, more than a few. Why would I read about George Armstrong Custer? I don't know. I guess one of the reasons is because of all of the American icons of the past, so many of them have been almost deified by history so that they are infallible paragons. Custer is not that way at all. He strides through history warts and all.
He did not drink and he did not curse. He did have several lovers, he was brutal to his men, he desecrated Native American burial grounds. He was also brave, dashing, charismatic and an ass kicker in a fight. Of course he was brash, reckless, a climber and very, very vengeful. Lots of real characteristics here. Custer is just a great character. He was already a national hero before The Little Big Horn.
Of course the epic Last Stand always looms large in history and I'm sure that adds a lot to it.
I know more than I should about Custer, but I can still learn things that fascinate me.
I just read "The Last Stand" by Nathanial Philbrick. It was amazing. He presented facts that I had not read before. He wove together his sources into a fantastic narrative and I learned a whole host of new facts about Custer, the 7th Cavalry and the battle at The Little Big Horn. I also learned a lot about the Sioux people, Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse.
I have been a bit pensive after reading the book because of how well he makes you feel what these people felt. Like characters in a great novel, I wish the ending could have been different for all of them.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Bob Lefsetz

I don't know if you subscribe to Bob Lefsetz or not. He writes about the music industry and MAN does he know the music industry!
Sometimes, he writes about something that crosses more than just the music industry though. Sometimes  he writes  about stuff that just makes damn good sense. He did that today in his newsletter about the magic "10,000 hours".
I don't know what you may know about the 10,000 hours, but the thought is that if you spend 10,000 hours at something then you should have it mastered. So, the corollary is "overnight success" takes 10,000 hours...but sometimes it  takes more! Or sometimes, you are in the wrong gig...Bob says it better than I can. I could not link to the newsletter so I am just re-posting it below, but I highly suggest it as a subscription.
Here's what Bob says about "10,000 hours"

"I'm sick and fucking tired of people telling me they've put in their 10,000 hours, so they should be rich and famous.

It's 10,000 hours of HARD PRACTICE!

Let me put it to you this way... If you spend 10,000 hours on the bunny slope, you're never going to win the World Cup. You've got to challenge yourself, ski the double blacks, go out when it's blowin' and snowin' as well as when it's sunny and smooth.

So you can play the riffs on the record, good for you. But can you play the riffs on the records you don't like, that aren't in your genre? Mutt Lange, the best record producer in the world, honed his chops, learned his craft by making soundalike records in South Africa. Speak to anybody who's worked with him, Mutt can make the records himself, can you?

Can you play the drums as well as the guitar? Jeff Beck plays without a pick, have you mastered his technique? It's only when you've got all the basics down that you can fly.

Have you written a thousand songs?

No, let me refocus this so you get it. Have you worked on your craft to the point of frustration? Instead of telling everybody how fucking great you are have you gone to bed thinking you're dog shit, that you just can't get it right?

If you haven't had this feeling, you're never going to make it.

Get off your self-satisfied soapbox and realize that all the masters slogged through shit to get to where they are. Don't look at Justin Bieber and the TV wonders, they're flashes in the pan, celebrities du jour barely different from the kids in the "Real World" house.

Do you want a doctor with no education to cut you open?

Better yet, if you've got cancer do you want to see the guy you play golf with or the world class surgeon who went to the best schools, had the best residency, killing himself to be number one in the class to get such opportunities?

You don't want the second-class M.D., why do you think people want the second-class musician?

Anybody can write a book, anybody can record a record, that doesn't mean the rest of the public should care.

But you keep telling them they should, like you're entitled.

You're entitled to work at McDonald's, as an unskilled laborer.

If you want to make it in music, you've got to be incredibly skilled. Better than all the rest. Ever play sports? Do they allow the lame-o to pitch just because he showed up for all the practices, wears his uniform right?

Better yet, is the most productive President the one who campaigns best? Sure, campaigning is crucial to winning, but that has little impact on your ability to analyze problems and govern.

So you're a whiz at Facebook, you've got a ton of followers on Twitter. Congratufuckinglations, you've done what any middle schooler can do. It's like thinking the roadie can sing, can step in and play lead guitar because he's slept on the bus and been close to the equipment.

Then again, the lead singer probably can't rig the stage.

But that's not the point. The point is you want to be a successful musician, you want everybody to pay attention. If that's so, then you've got to believe you suck before you'll ever be great. You have to be willing to work where no one pays attention. Sweating hours in your bedroom, practicing leads until your fingers bleed.

I'm not saying this younger generation with a trophy for everything can't make quality music, I'm just saying that too many of these so-called winners think they can be successful, when what's always been true is still true, just a thin layer of incredibly dedicated artists will ever make it, will ever be known, will ever be able to make a living.

And being able to play is not enough. To truly make it in music, you've got to write. And that's a whole 'nother skill. You don't see the wannabes performing their own compositions on "American Idol", ratings would sink to zero, it'd be godawful.

There are only a couple of hundred professional basketball players. Even the stars from the Final Four often don't make it to the pros.

But you sat in your bedroom and decided the world needed your music. Your mom and your significant other agreed with you. And you spam the universe believing if you just get enough attention, people will realize how great you are.

But it don't really happen that way at all. Especially in today's world.

Today, grazers find you and then spread the word on you if you're great. And with so much at their fingertips, listeners only have time for the great, mediocre, even really good, won't do.

So stop complaining. Stop fighting to win a Grammy no one cares about. Forget about getting into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Play to the public. They know what's good.

And if you haven't made it, chances are you suck.

Or you're just not good enough yet.

Instead of complaining, go back into your bedroom and PRACTICE!"

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Some gift ideas from GGE and ThinkGeek

Check out these Plush Zombie slippers from Think Geek.
Just one item on the GGE Christmas Wish list.

Here's another cool one. "He's Undead, Jim."

Since we are talking Star Trek (and loungewear) here is a snazzy Trekkie robe (Make mine Yellow please). Will I get action like Kirk if I wear one?

Okay, so you have to be a true geek to know the the "Bag of Holding" reference but for anyone who has ever wanted one...here it is.

I thought they smelled bad...on the outside!

Must have this Minecraft pixelated axe

Sunday, December 11, 2011

GGE Publishing

For my 400th post, I should probably make an announcement. This sounds a little lukewarm I realize, but that is because the plans are still crystallizing, but I can say with a high degree of assurance that 2012 looks like the year GGE will move into publishing it's own stuff.
I have a couple of titles identified so we'll see how this goes. Why would we do this and not just continue selling our stories to others?
Here are my reasons:

  1. I am not always satisfied with what others put out. In fact, while I like a lot of stuff a little bit, there are only a few things that I like a lot. I would like to publish stuff I like a lot.
  2. Having sold a couple of books now, I cannot believe how long it takes from sale to publication. I'm not judging publishers for this, I just feel like it can be done quicker. Maybe companies bite off more than they can chew? GGE is not built to have to make a fortune, just to generate art, so I don't need to sign 100 artists hoping to generate profit from 5 of them. I can just sign the 5 I think are great. I can then focus my promotional efforts. Maybe the public will agree with my assessment of what "great" looks like. If not then we can keep trying.
So, stay tuned for more on this. Of course, this represents a higher degree of financial investment and the first step will be a much needed revamp of the GGE website. 

I am really thrilled by this notion. It's daunting, of course, if not downright terrifying, but most things worth doing are.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

More news!

So, "The Forsaken" is finally into the editing phase with Wild Child Publishing...that is incredibly exciting!

Meanwhile, I am well into the author proofread of "The Pendragon Chronicles" from Double Dragon Press.

And, "Return To Glory" is being edited right now as the potential first offering from GGE publishing!

A lot going on right now. A good time to be GGE. Stay tuned!