Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog

Monday, June 28, 2004

Rejection sucks!

I spent Sunday afternoon on the third floor of Patrick Sullivan's Saloon making a fool out of myself.

Not that that's in any way unusual; I often make a complete fool out of myself, but this was one of the rare occasions when it was in public and on purpose.

I was trying out for the Einstein Simplified Comedy Troupe. I've written about them here before, but in case you're just joining me, they are a short form improv group, performing in the vein of Whose Line Is It Anyway? which you may have seen on ABC, or the original version on the BBC. They held an open audition on Sunday, and since I spent most of my formative childhood years being laughed at and verbally abused, I figured I must have some sort of talent for provoking laughter, especially when it's at my expense. So I figured it was time to take advantage of this talent, which should've made me a lock to win a coveted spot on the Einstein roster.

As you can tell from the title of this post, I wasn't.

The audition worked like the reverse of the standard show; we performed for the troupe, playing the same games they play each Tuesday night from 8:30 - 10:00 PM, while they smoked, ate, talked, heckled, and took calls on their cell phones. There were 12 of us trying out, so we rotated through the games, making sure everybody had the chance to make the biggest fool out of themselves they could in the time allotted.

And did we ever! Not always in the way the boys wanted, but hey, anything for a laugh, right? To our addled minds, simple instructions like, "form a square," seemed to be incomprehensible gibberish stuttered in archaic sanskrit. We were told to never ask a question in a skit; instantly that's all we could do. We barked like chickens, talked of 7 foot tall midgets, and depicted death by mop from a porn store.

This was not your normal Sunday afternoon conversation, where you talk about how the lawn looks on account of the rain, or whether Jeff Gordon will win another race, or topics equally sane and boring. This was comedy, or at least a reasonable facsimile.

Going in to the audition, I was afraid I would freeze up, and really stink up the joint. But we did a few warm up exercises, and after the first game, I relaxed, got into the flow, and then proceeded to stink up the joint. Oh, the boys gave me a polite chuckle or two here and there, and I did manage to crack up some of my fellow auditionees, but there were no belly laughs from the guys. Although Wes did take an unnecessary pot shot at my belly.

Hey Wes, that heckler in the back row that's going to throw off your timing for the next month? That'll be me, my friend.

Paybacks are a bitch, buddy.

To be perfectly honest, I knew my chances weren't good since they had mentioned several times over the past couple of weeks that they were really looking for female members, and I don't have the required genetic programming, and the surgical alterations are too expensive and frankly, scary. I mean, I guess I wouldn't mind having a set of boobs of my very own, to play with whenever I want, but the thought of excising Mr. Winky is simply out of the question. However, I did consider taping a couple of large water balloons to my chest in order to augment my chances, but I thought better of it and didn't. In retrospect, I'm glad I chose the high road, although if I had it to do over again---I'd go for the knee-shooters, baby! Heck, I'd look so good I might even start my own website.

But perhaps I'm sharing too much.

A couple of things I learned over the two and a half hour audition:
  • Improv is damned hard work. I was wired on adrenaline as I left the place, but by the time I got home, I was exhausted. You have to keep a high energy level the entire time, concentrating on your fellow performers, trying to read their cues, and give them cues to work with, and hoping to God you don't draw a blank on one of fast paced games.
  • Improv can be painful. The stage floor is not a forgiving surface, and when you're blown up in a bookstore (long story) the impact of your body hitting the floor can be stunning, not to mention frightening to the folks dining below.
  • Improv is not pretty.
    Need I say more? Although honesty compels me to state that there were some very attractive auditionees there. There were also some women trying out.
  • Improv is a blast!

It wasn't until after the audition was over that I realized we'd been at it for 2.5 hours. The guys in the troupe, far from being critical and demanding, worked with all of us, and tried to keep the pressure off, allowing everyone to give their best. Laughter was the order of the day, something I've heard isn't found at many auditions.

Was I funny? Well, I'd have to say that while I may not be Adrian Cronauer yet, I'm not Lt. Hauk either. But, good, bad, or totally awful, this was the most fun I've ever had getting utterly rejected, and that's something I have a lot of experience with. In fact, I had so much fun, that I realized that these guys would do the show for free.

And so I think they should.

Henceforth and forthwith, I shall attend the show tip-free, (Except for the wait staff, who work their butts off every night)knowing that the guys in Einstein Simplified all perform for the sheer joy of it.

And for the groupies. Right Paul?

UPDATE: Auditions are a tough thing, particularly among a tight knit group like the Einsteiners and their audience. How do you tell a loyal fan that they don't have what it takes? And as a fan, how do you deal with it? I chose to laugh about it, but it has been brought to my attention that the above piece may be interpreted as a bitter slam at the guys in Einstein Simplified. Such was not my intent, and reflects only on my writing ability, or lack thereof, and possibly a reflection of my very real disappointment at not making the cut. The guys, as I said, made everything as easy for us as possible, and did their best to let us do our best. I had an absolute blast trying out.

And Wes, I won't heckle you. I respect you too much. The fact that you're 3" inches taller than me and could very well reassign my gender without the need for expensive surgery has nothing to do with it.

Posted by Rich
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Monday, June 21, 2004

Building traffic

You know, I've ben neglecting this site lately. Getting laid off and starting a new business has taken up a lot more of my time than I'd anticipated. Plus, I've ben trying to get caught up on about 3 years of household chores I've neglected because of the 3 hour daily drive I used to make.

As a result of this neglect, traffic has fallen off, especially if I discount all the comment spam. So, I need to do something to bring traffic back to my former mediocre levels, and fast.

Now, I could take the high road, and post significant articles, filled with links to heavy research, and then flog those posts unmercifully to the movers and shakers of the blog world.

But that would be, like work, and I'm kinda busy to work, particularly when I have so many more important things to do, and there are much easier ways to build traffic.

I could go off on a massively partisan tear, and just rip the other side for everything from their policies to their haircuts. Of course, there are those who believe that's all I've done here anyway.

Nope, I think this situation calls for a quick dip into the gutter of the internet. Nothing builds traffic faster than pictures of naked women. Heck, even the words "naked women" will build traffic. And so, I'm posting here a picture of the tastiest breasts I've ever seen. It's a cheap tactic I know, but it is also very effective.View image I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did!

Posted by Rich
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Yeah!  Let’s Be More Like the French!

If we don't like what somebody writes, we can just sue them for inciting racial hatred.

Brigette Bardot was fined $6000 for saying, among other things, that she was "against the Islamisation of France" in her book, A Scream in the Silence. She was convicted of "inciting racial hatred," which is kind of curious, since Islam is a religion, not a race.

Those silly french!

But here's the really ironic part. The same folks who fined Bardot for inciting hatred just gave Michael Moore the Palme d'Or for the very same thing.

I guess it all depends on who you hate, n'est ce pas?

Posted by Rich
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They Did It!

SpaceShipOne made it!

Private spaceflight is one giant step closer to reality.

What it took the government years and countless millions of dollars to do is now within the grasp of a private company; Paul Allen spent approximately $20 million dollars to send Michael Melvill into the history books as the first private pilot to go into space.

I wish we had more news like this.

Posted by Rich
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Thursday, June 17, 2004

Hey folks.

Nope, not dead, not burned out, just busy building a website from scratch. It's kinda funny, but it's easier for me to code it myself, even though I'm only passingly familiar with html, than it is to try and learn the Adobe GoLive package. It seems to me that it's not geared for CSS, but that could just be my unfamiliarity with the package.

Anyway, the site is moving along, as is my first publication, which is on track for a July release.

Thanks for your patience, and I promise, I will get back here more often.

Posted by Rich
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Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Adventure Con 2004


Who knew comics and toys were so popular in Knoxville?

Normally, Rex and Troy cover the toys and collectible scene, but since I actually made it to Adventure Con this year, I thought I'd post a little bit about what I saw.

First, there's a lot of people still interested in comics and toys, and as you might notice from the picture, there aren't many kids. Looking at the prices of some of the toys, I can understand why.

Next, it's very odd seeing comics I collected in the mid to late 80s referred to as Silver Age. Am I that old already?

Don't answer that.

The toys ran the gamut from true collectibles to yard sale crap, with the latter making a strong majority, but then again, one man's junk is another man's treasure, and money changed hands constantly.

I took my youngest son with me, and he was amazed at the folks there in full costume.


There were enough storm troopers and Fett clones there to populate an entire Star Destroyer. Unfortunately, now that Lucas has gone all digital CG all the time, they've all been replaced by two programmers and a case of Jolt Cola. Don't worry about them though; they seem very happy hanging out with some of the lady wrestlers from TNA. (I wonder what that stands for?)


I'm still not really clear what female westlers have to do with comics and collectibles, but hey, nobody was complaining about their presence.

One of the big draws of any convention like this is the celebrity guests, who ranged from nearly A-list (Brad Dourif-Grima Wormtongue in The Two Towers) to "Huh? Whozzat?" (Sandra Taylor? Evidently a bit player and a Playboy model.) I was primarily interested in meeting Steve Stanley, and talk to him about contracting cover art for PHD. But once I took care of that, I wandered through the celebrity area, just taking in the atmosphere.

The lonliest man in the room had to be Richard Hatch. Not the Survivor guy; he'd probably have been a bigger draw. This was the guy who played Apollo on Battlestar Galactica. I circled the room several times over about an hour and a half, and rarely saw anyone at his table.

The busiest table appeared to be Miss Catherine Bach, Daisy Duke from the Dukes of Hazzard, and one of the few people to get an article of clothing named after them. I took my son over to visit with David Prowse, the real Darth Vader, who turned out to be a very friendly fellow.


We chatted briefly, more about his work in A Clockwork Orange than Star Wars, then moved on down the line.

I was happy to talk with Ernie Hudson for a few minutes who also seemed to be a very nice, down to earth kind of guy, although he stil carried a little bit of a grudge against ABC for cancelling his latest series, 10-8. Not that I blame him for that; I carry a little grudge too. I liked the show. Looking at his table, I was surprised just how many projects he's been in. I've seen him in a lot of movies, but it wasn't until I looked at his table that I realized just how busy he's been. When I asked him what his latest projects were, he reeled off three movies and a TV show, so I don't think he'll be going hungry any time soon.

But there was one surprise. Ernie usually plays very powerful characters in his roles, and he looks very big on screen. But he isn't as large as I thought.


I figured him for 6'1" or 6'2", but he's about an inch shorter than I am.

Must be movie magic.

Speaking of which, I'm now completely convinced that if a female celebrity walked past me on the streets in Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge, I would never even notice. I recognized Tanya Roberts as she walked past me in an aisle only because I'd seen her sitting at her table earlier.


Kate Jackson only confirmed why she was always my favorite Angel; she was the only one that seemed real. Farrah seemed too plastic, and Jaclyn Smith was simply unattainable, but Kate was smart, sexy, and the ultimate girl next door.


A few years older, and not dressed and made up, she's still instantly recognizeable as the soccer mom next door. I got to talk with her a bit, and it was funny that her biggest concern was that she was missing her son's baseball game. She talked about putting motherhood ahead of her acting career, showing a strong sense of priorities.

I have to say that all of the celebrities there were easily accessible to the fans, and willing to spend time just chatting.

Except for one.

Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) ran his booth like an assembly line. From what I could see, interaction was very limited, as fans were walked through, grabbed a photo, paid their cash, got an autograph, and maybe a picture.

I passed, and instead spent 15 minutes talking to Clayton Hill & Sharon Ceccatti Hill, two of the lead zombies from Dawn of the Dead


George Romero has always been one of my favorite directors, and it was interesting to get their perspective on working on Knightriders, my favorite Romero movie. I read a Romero bio several years ago that described the troubles making the movie, but it was interesting hearing it from somebody who lived it.

I guess what surprised me the most about the whoe thing was how ordinary most of the celebs were. Granted, most of them were past their peak popularity, and may have been just grateful for the attention, but even those with healthy careers were genuinely interested in the folks they talked to.

Or maybe they're just really good actors.

Posted by Rich
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Thursday, June 03, 2004

Thank you all!

I've been overwhelmed with the support I've received since I made my announcement. Not only do I have your best wishes, but I've also received offers of assistance, as well as several prospective clients.

I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate it all.


Posted by Rich
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Tuesday, June 01, 2004

At Last!  The Big News!

As of today, I am no longer unemployed.

Even better, as of today, I am officially self-employed. I figured if I was going to work for a jerk, I might as well work for myself.

Yes, I have joined the ranks of the fearless entrepreneurs, stoking the mighty engine that drives economic expansion even in the face of governmental interference through excessive taxation and regulation.

Over the past several weeks, I've been filing paperwork, acquiring equipment and supplies, talking to vendors, and doing a little industry research. Heck, I've even got one client on board, and a couple more prospects.

Ladies and gentleman, please welcome PHD Publishers LLC, your educated choice in micro-publishing.

So, what is micro publishing? Well, you're reading it right now, at least, in one form. New technologies have allowed the average person access to traditional media processes that before had been out of their reach. While blogging is a very visible part of that, it is really only a small piece of the whole picture. Just as blogs complement the traditional news media, micro-publishers like PHD Publishers LLC will complement traditional publishers.

Think of us as a microbrewery; they're not out to compete with Anheuser-Busch, but to offer the public a variety of options that the big brewery can't afford to offer. They serve the niche markts that are too small for the big boys. In the same way, PHD Publishers LLC will take advantage of the thousands of talented writers whose work may not be mainstream enough to warrant the attention of Warner or Random House.

My mission is two fold. First, I will run a small, independent press, specializing in genre fiction, and releasing 12-20 new titles per year. I'll be marketing these PHD Press releases directly to independent bookstores, as well as to the big chains through a distributer. The books will also be available through Amazon, and/or the PHD Publisher website, currently under construction. The titles will also be available as e-books, if the authors wish. Additionally, PHD Press will provide low cost, quality editions of classic books in the public domain, like Huckleberry Finn, A Christmas Carol, or Around the World in 80 Days. These PHD Classics will be available through the web or mail order.

The second mission will be to provide a one-stop solution for people looking to self publish their work. The big publishers have such a high overhead that they really can't afford to take a risk on an unproven author. They reserve their time and efforts for proven talents, making it increasingly difficult for new authors to break in. It's far easier for Tom Clancy to get a steaming pile of horse crap (The Teeth of the Tiger) published than for a young unknown to get a truly unique story even noticed. Looking through the Writer's Market illustrates this point. One major publisher puts out 60 books per year, but gets 3000 submissions. Another publishes 175 books, but only 5% of those are from new authors. While many may be rejected for good reason, even if only 10% of them are good, that's 300 quality books that will never find an audience. One of the most celebrated examples is James Redfield, whose The Celestine Prophesy was initially self published. While not every author will see a similar success, his story certainly shows that there is a market for books rejected by the big publishers. But there was no cost effective way for authors to reach that market.

Until now.

In the past, a rejected author's only recourse was the vanity publishers, who, for a substantial fee up front, would promise to edit, format, print, bind, and market the book, "just like a real publisher." Unfortunately, the reality rarely lived up to the promise, and most authors wound up several thousand dollars out of pocket, with a garage full of books they couldn't sell.

But today, there is another option; self publishing has become both cost effective and efficient. Rather than requiring a press run of several thousand copies to achieve a reasonable cost per book, new printing and perfect-binding processes make printing even a single copy inexpensive, which brings just-in-time inventory management to the publishing world. Rather than maintaining an inventory of several thousand copies of a book, with Book On Demand (BOD) printing, the writer can order copies of their work as they sell them, reducing the amount of capital tied up in inventory to the point where self publishing becomes a viable option for virtually everybody.

Self publishing is also expanding into a brand new area, electronic publishing, or e-books. While still in its infancy, by dispensing with printing and binding altogether, an author can make his work available to the entire Internet community for the price of an account on a webserver.

Which leads us to PHD Publishers LLC. We offer all the services a self publisher needs, proofing/copy editing, formatting for print or e-book, ISBN registration, printing and binding, whether short run (100-200 copies) or BOD, and web hosting for e-books, or author's book stores. It is our purpose to provide all the support the new author needs to break into self publishing, or to prepare their manuscript for traditional publishers.

So, that's what I've been doing with myself the past few weeks. I'm very excited about this project since if it works out, I'll be able to make a living doing something I love, which is worth the risk I'm taking.

Wish me luck!

Posted by Rich
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A note

I was using the comment moderationfeature in MT 3.0, which meant that any comments you posted had to be approved by me in order to post.

That's a pain in the butt, so I turned it off.

Posted by Rich
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