Tyson Adams

Putting the 'ill' back in thriller

Archive for the month “July, 2011”

A Break From Work

I’m going on holiday for a little while, and as such I am unlikely to post.

What? Don’t you find blogging to friends and comrades fun?

Well of course. But, you see, I have a simple holiday rule that I think makes relaxation better.

Holiday Rule: Only do things that can be done whilst horizontal.

That’s right, unless I can be laying down during the activity then it can be crossed off the to-do list while on holiday. Internet is mostly a sitting activity, thus the likelihood of being able to view the internet, let alone post, will be limited. I’m sure that if I prop my laptop in the right position and find the correct cushion I could use the internet, but it even sounds uncomfortable to me.

Activities that could be done on holiday:
Sleeping – the King of prone activities.
Reading – rather obvious really.
Eating – have to keep the energy levels up.
Drinking – fluids are important for that fuzzy feeling around noon.
Writing – Truman Capote preferred writing whilst prone.
Bench press – not really exercise if you are laying down.
Sex – much easier laying down.
Guitar playing – it’s still practice, even if you fall asleep, as long as you are still holding the guitar.
Playing fetch with the dog – our little bundle of energy wouldn’t let us lay down for long if she doesn’t get to play fetch!

Activities that are definitely ruled out on holiday:
Anything that could be accidentally construed as work – this includes reading non-fiction, sorry.
Running – far too active.
Squatting – loading a barbell with double bodyweight is too much like hard work.
Listening to social commentators – I can’t stand them, they are usually wrong.
Adopting a stance on anything – mainly pun related.

Training Masterclass #3

In the previous two Training Masterclass posts (1, 2) I presented my friend Dan and his training videos. We have seen what it takes to train the chest and perfect the chin-up. This post is about the back.

Now back and bicep training is very important. Us desk jockeys spend a lot of time sitting down, a lot of time with internally rotated shoulders – just think of all the time you spend typing. Training the back properly will aid in keeping you healthy by offsetting your poor work posture. Training the biceps is important because everyone wants a nice set of guns.

Superb!

As a bonus feature I am including the Clean & Jerk. This is probably the single best exercise ever invented, next to the exercise in futility.

I Don’t Care For Cold Chisel

Sometimes I’ll be watching the news or listening to the radio and I will be reminded that I am on the fringe of society. It isn’t just the education, nor the largish brain, nor my desire to have standards, no it is the fact that apparently I’m un-Australian. You see, I don’t like Cold Chisel. To dislike Cold Chisel is un-Australian.

As a result I feel a little like Peter Griffin does about The Godfather.

Australians like to heap superlatives upon Cold Chisel and other “hard rock” bands. They like to hear them on the radio because it reminds them of the time they got drunk in that pub before drinking became illegal. Sorry, not illegal, the driving home afterwards part was what became illegal. Cold Chisel have come out of retirement to tour again, something that made all of the news channels. Why? It is a chance for Aussies to get in touch with their inner bogan.

For non-Aussies, a bogan is what you get when you cross flannelette shirts with mullets and cigarettes. Deep down there is a bogan inside every Australian just trying to get out.

Bogan

My inner bogan allows me to wear tracksuit pants around the house and feel unashamed to listen to AC/DC whilst playing air-guitar. Fortunately my inner bogan stops short of Cold Chisel fandom. That’s right, my inner bogan has class.

We have different terms for bogans all over the world: white trash, redneck, guido, hoser, skid, chav, ned, jejemon, scanger, ah beng, raggare, naco, dres, Paris Hilton; but we recognise the traits. Suffice to say, we all need to keep our inner bogan in check. If we don’t then the terrorists have won.

Training Master-class #2

You only have your health, and possibly access to some poor Indian’s kidneys, so we would all be wise to try and keep fit and healthy. Last time I presented the first in a series of training videos to help us desk jockey’s. This is video two in the training master-class, brought to you by my friend Dan/Rocky.

Mighty Pec Blasting Chest Power!!

See you all under a barbell somewhere soon.

Who will portray Jack Reacher?

That’s right, Jack Reacher will be coming to a cinema near you in the adaptation of Lee Child’s One Shot. The film about the big guy with the strong moral compass and the even stronger right hook is all set, with a director, a start date, a script and of course the star: Tom Cruise.

Tom Cruise has agreed to play Reacher in Paramount’s ONE SHOT; filming in Pittsburgh begins on September 27, 2011, which is the same day that Reacher novel #16 THE AFFAIR goes on sale in the US and Canada (Sept 29th is the UK, AU, NZ sale date).

Screenplay is by Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects, Valkyrie) who will also direct.  The screenplay, from all reports, is truly kick-ass.  The rest of the actors have yet to be cast but we’re hearing rumors that are pretty exciting. Source.

Yes you have read that correctly. Tom Cruise will play Jack Reacher.

Lee is of course in full support of Tom Cruise playing Jack Reacher:

Reacher’s size in the books is a metaphor for an unstoppable force, which Cruise portrays in his own way – Lee Child.

I can’t blame Lee, it isn’t like anyone will complain the movie is better than the book, and he will get paid regardless. Worst case for him is that they make a fantastic movie that generates him millions more fans. So there are three ways this will run: either Tom Cruise will completely own the role and make the fans of the Reacher books forget the 30 centimetre difference in height; or the casting director will cast munchkins in the supporting roles; or the Reacher fans will wish someone else was cast.

Lets go through some of the potential Reachers who have been raised on the interwebz, because despite the decision having already been made there is nothing like documenting the “I told you so” statements for future reference. Of course I’ll delete this post if Cruise pwns all.

Tom Cruise:

Advantages: Box office draw card, his production company bought the film rights, Cruise really needs to look manly in films, has a track history of appearing in good films.
Disadvantages: Short, too pretty, will have to shout at some point in the film regardless of the need to, despite appearing in good films he wasn’t the reason for them being good (Jack Nicolson, A Few Good Men; Dustin Hoffman, Rainman; Cub Gooding Jr, Jerry Maguire; etc).

Tahmoh Penikett:

Advantages: Tall, burly, manly, not too good looking, good looking enough to sell the film, good actor, could actually win a real fight (muay thai fighter), my choice for the role.
Disadvantages: Only had TV roles in shows no-one watched, what the hell do I know about making films.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan:

Advantages: Tallish, manly, chicks love him since he was on Grey’s Anatomy.
Disadvantages: Is he the only manly American actor? Can’t we find someone else?

Ben Affleck:

Advantages: Tall, appeared in other blockbusters.
Disadvantages: Budget blowouts would occur due to acting class costs.

Christian Bale:

Advantages: Not short, has appeared in every other film in the last few years, could actually get aggressive and violent.
Disadvantages: I think it would be good to cast Bale in every film, never a down side to that.

Liam Neeson:

Advantages: The right height, has done action films, can act, has been in a Dirty Harry film.
Disadvantages: He appeared in Star Wars The Phantom Menace, appeared in the worst Star Wars film, co-starred with the worst character ever portrayed on film, didn’t shoot his agent for letting him be involved in The Phantom Menace.

I guess we can only dream. Either way, I’ll be seeing One Shot on the opening weekend.

Training Master-class #1

There is nothing in this life more important than your health. As the adage goes; you only have your health. Yet, in this day and age (what a redundant statement), more of our populous live sedentary lives than ever. So many of us are desk jockeys and the aspiring writer in me is seeking to spend more of my day sitting down.

Fortunately I’ve been a weightlifter since my teens. I love lifting heavy stuff and keeping fit. It also allows me my other passions; involving sitting, lying down, and eating chocolate. It took me years to become good at lifting, even more years to become really good at eating chocolate on a couch.

It is important to learn lifting form to get the most out of training. So I wish to present here my friend Dan’s – also known as Rocky – Training Master-class so that all of us desk jockeys don’t become desk leviathans. This first video is illustrating the chin-up.

Australian Bookstore Memorabilia Auction

Borders Book Mark for Sale

I am selling my limited edition Borders bookmark for charity. Any and all offers between $40 million and $50 million will be accepted.

As many book fans will have noticed, there are a number of book retailers circling the drain of bankruptcy. Borders in the USA may have found a last minute lifeline, but here in Australia the Redgroup stores (Borders and Angus & Robertson) have gone the way of the honest politician. The superbly managed Redgroup managed to amass $170 million in debts, $44 million of that being owed to publishers (and consequently authors).

The reason for me auctioning off my bookmark is that I hope to be able to not only share a piece of publishing industry history, but to also recoup the money that Redgroup stole from publishers and authors. Redgroup felt that selling millions of dollars worth of books that they didn’t own was really just a creative book-keeping issue. Nobody else did and now all we have to remember them by is this bookmark.

Bid Now!

The bookmark is not laminated, but I can have it laminated. I can also list the board of directors of Redgroup on the back if desired. Please, no time-wasters, this is an auction to save starving authors everywhere.

How to interpret online book reviews

p { margin-bottom: 0.08in; }My previous post sought to elucidate some of those oft quoted expressions which plague music reviews. Despite the unequivocally superior standard of articulation amongst the literary fraternity, there are, upon occasion, some idioms that have become rather cliché. Thus it has fallen upon me, dear reader, to compile and define some terms and phrases that require proper denotation, in order to provide clarification of book review terminology definitions.

Page-turner: Meets the bare minimum standards for a book.
Gripping: I got this from a library where kids are allowed to play.
Poignant: Something sad happened in this book, most likely a character gets cancer.
Compelling: I spent so much time reading this book I had to finish it despite wanting to hurt myself after every sentence.
Nuanced: I have no idea what this book was about but I liked it.
Lyrical: Should be a poem instead so that it isn’t as long and self-involved.
Tour de force: The book is too long and waffly.
Readable: Boring but better than watching TV.
Haunting: Either used to describe a book that made the reviewer actually think, or, more likely, is meant to make you think but is just pretentious.
Deceptively simple: Could have been written by a 10 year old.
Rollicking: Something actually happens in this book.
Fully realized: The book has a beginning, middle and end.
Timely: Makes passing reference to something that happened 2 years ago.
X meets Y meets Z: The reviewer hasn’t read the book so is quoting the sales blurb.
Sweeping: Long.
That said: I’ve just insulted this entire book but it is popular for some unknown reason (e.g. Twilight).
Riveting: Was able to finish reading it.
Unflinching: Unpleasant.
Powerful: I read the hardcover.
Unputdownable: Reviewer is unfamiliar with English.
Masterfully or Masterful: The author is familiar with English.
Beautifully written: A lot of long words were used.
Startling: Reviewer was surprised the book was published.
Bold: Controversial.
Accessible: Written for kids.
Memorable: Reviewer didn’t have to look up the author or title to write the review.
Epic: Really, really, long.
A tale of loss and redemption: Someone dies, the protagonist gets over it, the end.
Sensuously, seductively, and/or lushly described: Painstakingly boring descriptions of mundane details.
Must read: Bestseller.
What it is to be human: Someone falls in love or someone dies.
Luminous: Has a pretty cover.
Evocative: Not boring or pedantic.
Poetic: Wordy.
Thought provoking: Reviewer is sure the book is cultural or intellectual but didn’t quite get it.
Rollicking roller-coaster: Kids book, or should be.
Provocative: Annoying.
Lends itself to X: Reading the book X was better.
Opinionated: The reviewer disagrees with everything the author has ever written.
Emotional roller-coaster: Nominated for some literary award.
Only minor quibbles: The book sucked.
Stays in your mind long after the last page is turned: Had a bad ending.
Writing at the peak of his/her powers: Much better than the author’s other books.
At once: The reviewer is about to use more than one of these terms in a sentence.
Also, lets not forget the various terms that are used to tell you what the genre of the book is, rather than just say what the genre is:
Explicit, steamy, romp, raunchy: Erotica or has sex in it.
Charged, taut, woven, layered: Political thriller.
Heart-warming, life-affirming: Romantic drama.
Seamy, gritty, underworld: Crime.
Taut, fast-paced, dynamic: Thriller.
Epic: Fantasy.
Hope this clears things up a bit.

How to interpret online music reviews

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One of the coolest things about the interwebz is the ability to find TV shows, movies, books/authors, bands/music, or people to argue with. I live a few hundred kilometres from the most isolated city in the world, which means that there isn’t a cinema, there aren’t many international touring acts that come through town, and author book signings are somewhat rare. Since Al Gore invented the internet we are all able to be connected and find things we like through the magic that is The Internet.

“This, Jen, is the internet.”

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Of course with an abundance of new stuff comes an abundance of indecision’s. How do you tell which books are worth reading, which movies are worth watching and which bands are worth listening too? The obvious answer would be to consult reviews.

Music reviews are often troubling, they use industry jargon that not everyone understands, especially not the people using the jargon. So I have quickly summarised the commonly used phrases and interpreted them.

Solid album: every song sounds the same.

Standout tracks: the only decent songs.
The album grows on you: hated this album the first time I listened to it and after having to listen to it several times to complete the review have found I can tolerate it.
Intricate melodies: pretentious wank.
Outstanding musicianship: lots of solos.
Impressive guitar work: endless guitar masturbation.
Concept album: lots of pretentious filler.
Soulful lyrics: girlfriend/boyfriend just left the singer.
Soulful melodies: all band members/artist depressed.
Heartfelt emotion: band members/artist suicidal.
Best album of the year: only new album I have.
The best release from this artist/band: it’s about time they put out something decent.
Epic: too long.
Pop sensibilities: commercial radio fodder.
Proponents of (insert name) style: I hate this sort of music.
Founders of (insert name) style: the guys that everyone else copied.
Challenging: annoying.
Diverse styles/sounds: imitates everything popular at the moment.
Critically acclaimed: only pretentious and annoying people will like it.
Commercially successful: listen to it on the radio instead.
Uplifting: saccharine.
Back with a vengeance: last album was terrible.
Offers up some great tracks: band/artist only wrote one song then packed in filler.
Career defining: surprisingly good album.
On heavy rotation: has a huge marketing budget to waste.
Staple of radio playlists: inoffensive.
Politically charged lyrics: think they are better than everyone else.
Confrontational: annoying.
Distinguishes itself: will fade into obscurity in a month.
Stamped their mark: all the vapid DJ’s like it.
Most important album/artist of the year: utter crap that is inexplicably selling well.
Taken (insert country) by storm: some DJ overseas thinks that it’s good.
Radio friendly: bland.

Hope that clears things up a bit. At some future date I will attempt to cover the common book review jargon.

E-books: Return of the Reader

Just like the previous two installments of this e-book saga there will be allusions to some non-existent struggle, my thoughts on the changing publishing industry, no Leia in a bikini, and definitely no Wookie. When we left our hero writers, they were diligently trying to decide whether they wanted to sign with a traditional publisher or self-publish like an indie rebel. Publishers had the track record, the self-publishing indies had the jump on the fastest growing segment in the industry: e-books.

Now hold on just a second. Traditional publishing is behind? As has already been stated in this blog, his mouth to my post, Michael Connelly is selling 45% e-books. His publishers are clearly on board of this new market place. James Rollins and Steve Berry have both released exclusive e-book short stories on Amazon and B&N as lead-ins to their next books (pity non-US people can’t buy them, not being close enough to the centre of the universe and all). I even noticed that Aussie authors like Tara Moss and Matthew Reilly are available on Kindle for under $10. Behind isn’t quite right.

On the other side of the great divide, all the cool kids authors are self-publishing. People like Konrath, Eisler, Mayer, some guy named John Locke, are doing well out of self-publishing and doing all the work themselves (or hire for service). Clearly all authors should be grabbing their manuscripts and uploading them now.

I’ll pause so you can upload your book now. Don’t forget to spell check first!

Well it seems that 10’s of thousands are doing just that. Given that 90% of everything published is probably crud, you have to question how wise it is to rush to publish. We also have to remember that e-books are still a minority share of the market place (this will change of course). Shouldn’t quality come first? Spend the time on crafting a fine book, see what industry professionals have to say about it, then publish? Preferably not the professionals that published Snooki. Basically writers will have to find the best publishing deal for them, even if it is swapping their novel for a packet of magic beans.

And here is a startling fact: readers don’t care if writers are traditionally published, indie published, self published, or published by a small Scottish Terrier named Rolf. Readers want to read something entertaining and well written. So writers shouldn’t care how they are published. To quote Nick Spalding:

“Writers on the traditional publishing side of this particular conflict want to be successful and earn a decent living as a writer, appealing to an audience with their work. On the other hand, writers on the self publishing side of this particular conflict want to be successful and earn a decent living as a writer, appealing to an audience with their work.”

What I love about e-books is that they are made for readers. Well Duh! Stick with me on this one. Lets say that it is August 2010 and I’ve just finished 61 Hours by Lee Child. Now Lee may or may not have finished with a cliffhanger in that particular book. Despite the fact that the next Reacher novel is finished and ready in boxes to go on shelves, I have to wait until the end of September to read Worth Dying For. With e-books there is no need to delay because of printing, shipping, and shop displays still being filled with James Paterson’s books. In fact, with e-books I can have the entire Reacher series downloaded the minute after I’ve finished 61 Hours to keep my spirits up while I wait.

Essentially the gap between writer and reader has been shortened. The reader is King.

So what about publishers? Well they sell books. Authors write those books for them. I don’t think that in the long run they will particularly care whether they are selling an e-book or a DTB. In fact e-books could really cut out a lot of their middle men costs.

A lot has changed in the past year or two, some of the big companies are behind to some extent, but are more likely to catchup. I still can’t believe that e-readers weren’t dreamt up by publishers and bookstores. But then again I can’t believe that Australia – lots of sun – has sent solar technology to Germany – no sun – and politicians are wanting to move from coal to gas.

As long as publishers are paying advances, advertising/promoting authors and fronting costs they will be who most authors will turn to in order to publish. And when the publisher rejects it, and the crying has finished, the author will release it, plot holes and all, on their own.

Bookshops look like the real loser here, despite their claims to the contrary. Apparently people love the smell of books. Solved. Apparently people like to browse in bookstores. Yes, nothing like spending hours in a store with your head at a funny angle to find the store doesn’t stock what you are looking for. Apparently people love the feel of books. Admittedly books are much better to throw at an intruder, although War & Peace is regarded as a lethal weapon.

Can I just point out that an e-book is a book. That you can read. Thanks for letting me clear that up.

Tenuous reasons for bookshops continued existence aside, I don’t see why there won’t be purveyors of fine literature, and the stuff I like reading, into the future. Online stores are often seen as more reputable when they have a physical storefront. Even if that storefront is never visited by anyone because it is located down a side street, off a back alley, near a crack den. Plus POD could make book buying like a trip to the deli counter for lunch.

“I’ll have the new best-seller and a long white to go thanks.”
“Did you want that signed or unsigned?”
“Hold the signing, but I will take the first chapter of the sequel at the back.”

As a reader and as a some-day published author, I think that the future is so much brighter for readers and writers. Readers will have access to more good books than ever. Writers will have greater access to an audience than ever. The future of books is very bright and may even step out of the shadow of DVD’s, when DVD’s become obsolete.

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