Saturday, December 29, 2007

Purpose of movies

In article on today, Charlie Reese said, "When people go to the movies, they want to be entertained, not depressed or lectured." To bolster his assertion he cited the line of legendary producer Samuel Goldwyn, who reportedly said that if he wanted to send a message, he'd use Western Union.

Movies should entertain. They should also say something. It's pretty hard for even the dumbest movie not to deliver some kind of message. But wouldn't it be nice if we came away from our entertainment with a better understanding of issues that affect our lives critically? Al Gore won a big propaganda victory with An Inconvenient Truth. How about a few inconvenient truths for Gore and his carbon-neutral buddies, entertainingly packaged?

Later in his article Charlie quotes Ayn Rand favorably. Rand's novels are a masterful combination of message and entertainment. If Atlas Shrugged ever makes it to the screen a lot of people will be outraged if the producers soften or obliterate its messages. The difficulty in finding producers brave enough to stand behind its messages is one of the biggest reasons it remains unproduced 50 years after its first publication.

Movies and the entertainment industry generally do send powerful messages, just not the right ones. How many movies portray businessmen favorably? How many portray politicians as good guys? Or our Good War as an exercise in unprecedented mass murder and state growth? Songwriters write patriotic songs to sanitize the state's wars and motivate subjects to sacrifice themselves. I have yet to see a movie that portrays Lincoln or FDR as the monsters they were; they're usually treated as saviors.

Notwithstanding Goldwyn's comment, the entertainment industry is not merely a messenger but an important one, especially for statist causes.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Apple's Keynote '08

This latest version of Keynote looks like it might be what I need to create the promotional video for my novel, The Jolly Roger Dollar. You can create a self-running presentation with video, animation, and voice over, among many other things. I also like its opacity control tool and the Alpha tool for eliminating unwanted background color. It's still too early to know if I can use it effectively, but I'm greatly encouraged at this point.

Preston opening presents

My grandson Preston on Christmas Day. He'll be three in March.


Judge Andrew Napolitano on Lincoln


Lew Rockwell said many people want the Judge to be Ron Paul's running mate.

Are people like Paul and Napolitano a necessary first step for getting rid of state rule altogether?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Katie's Near Miss

Katie, my senior twin daughter by three minutes, is planning to move from Savannah to Atlanta soon to begin graduate studies at Georgia Tech in January. She's been looking for a decent place to live near campus.

She contacted a realtor in Atlanta for help, and one their agents directed her to a three bedroom house with hardwood floors and a fenced backyard on Atlanta's south side that was renting for $1,000/month plus utilities. Feeling pinched for time and needing someplace to live, she gave the go-ahead to her mother to work out a rental agreement with the agent.

Before signing, I agreed to drive to the rental from Lawrenceville and check it out.

I lack the competence as a writer to do the neighborhood justice. It reminded me of war zones I've seen in film clips. The photos posted here will convey some of what I saw, but they can't express the horror I felt at the thought of Katie and her boy friend Petar attempting to live in that area.

The rental's porch afforded a panoramic view of the Atlanta federal penitentiary. Blighting that view were the properties across the street from the rental. Given the massive amount of litter in the area, it was highly unlikely there was any trash pickup service.

And check out the picture of the rental itself. You'll notice it looks recently painted and has a retaining wall in front built from landscape timbers. You'll also notice there's a guy lying on the porch with his legs resting on the first step. He and the door looked that way the first time I drove by. They looked that way the second time too. Was he dead? I don't know, and I didn't get out of the car to investigate.

Turns out it wasn't that close to the Tech campus.

Katie's still looking.


Another friend of Kim's, Hanna Dettman, has offered to do a cover for my novel. Hanna's an artist who has done some beautiful line drawings of Kim's son Preston as well as her husband David paired with their boxer Rebel. She also has an outstanding gallery posted online. Fortunately for me, Hanna is pro-liberty and therefore very distrustful of government. I sent her a synopsis of JR$, and she thinks she can have some ideas worked out by the end of the week. I'm looking forward to the results with great excitement.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Beth's Ron Paul Pumpkin

As late in posting as this is, it is still worthwhile.

Beth Gilleland and my daughter Kim are friends and former co-workers. For Halloween, Beth created a stencil of Ron Paul's face then carved a pumpkin from the stencil. The result was outstanding. Notice Ron Paul's initials running down the left side of the image. Not as clear in this picture is "08" running down the other side. The Ron Paul Campaign Staff had this to say about Beth's work:
That is AMAZING! It certainly brought a smile to our tired faces. Thank you so much. Please thank the artist from us too.
I have wondered what other comments she received about the carving. I also wonder what she did with the pumpkin after Halloween. I would find it impossible to destroy.

Standing next to Beth is another of her friends, who did a carving of Randy Travis.

Amazon's Kindle

I discovered yesterday that authors wishing to get their work published in Kindle format can do so quite easily. At least, that's my understanding after looking over the process of submitting a manuscript electronically. There are no fees, no editors, no gatekeepers of any kind. Amazon pays you 35 percent of each sale it makes, based on the Suggested Retail Price you set. From the Terms & Conditions:
. . . we will pay you, for each Digital Book we sell, a royalty equal to thirty-five percent (35%) of the applicable Suggested Retail Price for such Digital Book, net of refunds, bad debt, and any taxes charged to a customer (including without limitation sales taxes) (a “Royalty”).

We will pay Royalties approximately sixty (60) days following the end of the calendar month during which applicable sales of Digital Books occur.

We are responsible for collecting and remitting any and all taxes imposed on our sale of Digital Books to customers.
A seven-page Getting Started Guide runs you through the process of submitting a manuscript. All you need is a manuscript people will want to buy for the price you set.

The information contained in this post is not widely advertised as of now. Until yesterday I thought only book writers published in print were eligible for Kindle publishing.

If I've misunderstood Amazon's offer, I'll post a correction as soon as I find out about it.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Selling to the Establishment

I'm thinking less about a mainstream publisher and more about doing something on my own. Mainstreamers only listen to their anointed gatekeepers, their book agents, so I hear. And book agents are looking to make as much money as possible. First, they want writers who are well-known, if not as writers then as celebrities of some kind. They want name recognition. Tiger Woods, for example, could sell a novel far easier than I could. What book browser is going to pick up a book at B&N authored by one George F. Smith? Probably the handful who mistake me for George H. Smith. (Actually, as I just discovered, even George H. is plagued somewhat by the science fiction writer of the same name.)

Secondly, they want material with a proven history that presents a unique viewpoint. Radical political intrigue has been around for a long time, and some of it has been highly successful, such as David Baldacci's Absolute Power. Publisher's Weekly has this to say about it:
Casting the president of the United States as a crazed villain isn't a new idea -- Fletcher Knebel worked it 30 years ago, in Night of Camp David -- but in this sizzler of a first novel, Baldacci, a D.C. attorney, proves that the premise still has long legs.
I can't say if Baldacci's treatment of government is comparable to mine because I haven't read the book. The movie, however, doesn't go beyond the president as a power-mad villain, as I recall. It doesn't present the holders of political power as an organized criminal gang with an aura of legitimacy.

The Ron Paul candidacy, along with the Bush II presidency, have perhaps opened doors that I have overlooked. Some publisher might be willing to take a chance on a first novel by a largely unknown writer who portrays government in the Nockian sense:
Nock therefore defined the State as that institution which 'claims and exercises the monopoly of crime' over a territorial area; 'it forbids private murder, but itself organizes murder on a colossal scale. It punishes private theft, but itself lays unscrupulous hands on anything it wants….' (from Murray Rothbard, The Betrayal of the American Right)
I will have to reconsider my views about mainstream publishers.

I will have to read Baldacci's book and perhaps try to contact him.

Yesterday I sent a query to G. Edward Griffin, author of The Creature from Jekyll Island, who founded a publishing house. I asked him if had any interest in publishing a novel about the Fed. Mr. Griffin has not published fiction and has published almost exclusively his own work. My query is a long shot. He may not even reply.

Creature, incidentally, is #2 in Amazon's Money and Monetary Policy category. That's highly encouraging. Not so encouraging is the #7 ranking of Nathan Lewis's Gold: the Once and Future Money. It doesn't deserve such a high place.