Mike Rowe A Guy Walks into a Bar...

So I’m at the bar last night, waiting for my drink to arrive, when the man beside me orders a “Clint.”

“A Clint?” says the bartender.

The man reaches into his pocket and offers the bartender a business card. The bartender examines the card and nods his head.

“One Clint, coming up!”

I turn to the man beside me, who appears to be the same age as my father. “It’s none of my business,” I say, “but what the hell is a Clint?”

The man smiles and hands me his card. “Keep it,” he says. “Might come in handy sometime.”

On the business card, are the ingredients for a very specific drink. I am intrigued, not only by the drink, but by the man who carries a card with instructions for bartenders to properly mix the cocktail he desires.

“Campari?” I say. “Interesting.”

“Don’t knock it till you try it.”

“May I assume you’re the Clint for which the drink is named?” I ask.

“You may,” says Clint.

“And may I further assume you’re a man who has grown weary of describing a drink no one has ever heard of?"

“You may,” says Clint.

We shake hands, and I make no further assumptions about the man with a taste for pink cocktails. We chat some more though, and I soon learn that Clint has spent his life in law enforcement. Specifically, I learn that he worked with the secret service.

“Interesting,” I said. “Did you know John Barletta?” John is the only secret service guy I’d ever met. He guarded Reagan for years. I met him at the ranch once.

“Sure,” said Clint. I knew John very well. Good man. Died not too long ago.”

“Yeah,” I said. "I heard that. Did you read his book, Riding with Reagan?"

“Sure did,” said Clint. “He was devoted to the Reagans. Absolutely devoted.” Clint raised his pink drink to John Barletta, and we drank to his memory.

“Were you involved with Reagan?” I asked.

“No, I was done by then. My last guy was Ford.”

“Your last guy?” I asked.

“Yeah, I guarded Nixon before that.”


“And Johnson before that.”


“And Kennedy before that.”

“You’re kidding,” I said.

“No. I actually started with Eisenhower.”

“Wow,” I said. “Five Presidents? You must have some stories.”

Suffice it to say, he does. Turns out, the man sipping the pink cocktail with yours truly is the agent who threw himself over Jackie Kennedy in 1963, two seconds after her husband was assassinated in Dallas. Clint was not only there - he was in the middle of it. All of it.

Last night, I came home and read up on Clint Hill. This President’s Day, I encourage you to do the same. His story is incredible. https://clinthillsecretservice.com/ Better yet, download the #1 New York Times Best Seller about his remarkable life, Five Presidents. That's what I'm going to do. Then, I’m going to make myself a Clint, and think not just about the Presidents we remember on this day, but of the men and women who risk their lives protecting them.

Carry on, Clint Hill.
Carry on.


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Camille Paglia: Sexism and the 'Star Is Born' Films

The academic, author and cultural critic analyzes the four versions of the tragic love story and finds one a "feminist landmark" and Bradley Cooper’s to be "a misogynous disgrace."

A Star Is Born, with its symmetrical plotline of rising and falling stars, is Hollywood's canonical myth-saga, capturing both the glory and cruelty of the modern entertainment industry.

The fourth version of A Star Is Born, directed by Bradley Cooper and starring himself and Lady Gaga, has been nominated for eight Oscars at this year's Academy Awards. How does this movie treat our red-hot theme of women's aspirations and achievement? Surprisingly, despite its progressive gestures toward masculine sensitivity and transgender inclusiveness, this A Star Is Born is the most sexist film of the entire series.

In Cooper's film, the epic Hollywood story has been hijacked by camera-hogging male vanity, curtailing the magnificent classic role of the ascending woman star who painfully eclipses her self-destructive, alcoholic husband. What the script has stingily left to Gaga to play is not leading lady material. Her performance has never belonged in the best actress category because Cooper demoted her to supporting actress from the start.

Particularly outrageous amid the overpraise of Cooper's film has been denigration of the previous, 1976 version, with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson, from whose performance Cooper heavily borrowed. Except, that is, for Kristofferson's robust sexy allure: With his greasy hair, hobo beard and chronic slump, Cooper scarcely manages more than two facial expressions (dull and duller) throughout.

The dynasty of A Star Is Born began with What Price Hollywood? (1932), in which a waitress (Constance Bennett) is discovered by an alcoholic movie director, who steers her to Tinseltown fame at a time when the phenomenon of movie stardom was barely two decades old.

Janet Gaynor, the heroine of the first A Star Is Born (1937), had won the very first Oscar for best actress for 1927. The girliest of the four, she was already 30 when the movie was shot, which explains why we sometimes feel a strain in her miming of fragile innocence. However, Gaynor's Esther Blodgett is gritty with ambition, inspired by the movie magazines she devours in her North Dakota farmhouse.

In the wake of American women winning the vote after World War I, the film foregrounds the then-new theme of female careerism. Esther rejects marriage and motherhood as her only choice: "I'm going to be somebody!" Overarching the film is her outspoken grandmother, a formidable dowager played by May Robson, who supports her drive to succeed and identifies it with her own generation of pioneer women who braved immense hardships. At the end, the grandmother, stronger than the heroine's dead spouse, reappears and plants her female flag in Hollywood, forcing Esther (now Vicki Lester) to embrace her professional dominance.

The film explores the unresolved conflicts still experienced by many women in balancing home and work. Most studio-era movies showed women eagerly surrendering their job for a wedding ring. A trace of this remains in the first A Star Is Born in Vicki's decision to abandon her career to care for her husband (Fredric March), who is struggling with substance abuse. But in a heroic gender reversal, he frees her by sacrificing himself, walking into the sea at Malibu.

Oscars: How Did 'A Star Is Born' Become a Longshot for Best Picture?
From its opening panorama of the glittering lights of Los Angeles, the 1937 film exhilaratingly documents the sights, rituals and churning mechanism of the movie industry, from clapper boards, screen tests and Central Casting to premieres, awards shows and mobs of ruthless fans (who tear off Vicki's veil at her husband's funeral).

Clinically inspected and processed by the brusquely efficient makeup and publicity departments, Vicki emerges with a new name and life story. She has become that supreme artifact, the movie star. All this sweeping expansiveness — the wilderness through which the fairy-tale heroine apprehensively makes her way — is missing from the disjointed Cooper film, which claustrophobically contracts to Jackson Maine's stalled relationships with other men. The ravenous industry in which Ally (Gaga) rises is hardly glimpsed.

The Judy Garland version (1954), like the Gaynor film, has a tremendous sense of place. It begins with the thrilling magnitude of spotlights, clogged streets and surging crowds at Los Angeles' Shrine Auditorium, palpably vibrating with the excitement of old Hollywood. Compare this riveting specificity to the fogginess of the Cooper film, where we're never sure where we are. (Does Jackson live in Laurel Canyon or Santa Barbara? Does Ally live in New York or the San Fernando Valley? If the latter, why is she taking a jet plane to see Jackson's show, which is presumably in L.A.?)

The Shrine event is shockingly disrupted by drunken, belligerent Norman Maine (James Mason), who lurches through a backstage bevy of ballerinas and showgirls. Unsparingly presenting Maine as arrogant with male privilege, the script prepares the way for the tragic intensity of the love story. In contrast, Cooper upgrades himself to lovable stumbling klutz, merely drawing a few hard glances from fellow musicians. He thus defeats the entire redemptive pattern of the three earlier films.

What astonishes about the Garland version is how often she appears in daringly half-male clothing with a butch haircut. This film's Norman Maine, whose predatory womanizing is seen at the Coconut Grove club, zeroes in on Garland's Esther in androgynous mode — a man's bow tie and long tuxedo jacket flashing pert legs and high heels. Directed by openly gay George Cukor, the movie suggests a hidden sexual fluidity in Norman, also shown when he enthusiastically subs as Esther's makeup and hairstylist.

In the Cooper film, in contrast, Jackson fails to recognize a false eyebrow and ickily peels it off Ally's forehead like a parasitic slug. Inexplicably, Cooper sets the scene in a glossily sanitized drag bar while missing a huge opportunity to showcase Lady Gaga in drag — as in Marlene Dietrich's swaggering cabaret style.

The tour de force of the Garland Star is her epochal performance of "The Man That Got Away," a torch song that became an anthem for gay men in the pre-Stonewall era. Here we see the supranormal power of the true star: Garland's petite body literally throbs with profound passion, repeatedly arcing from soft to loud and back. A gifted performer operating at this level of near-mystical inspiration has entered an abstract realm beyond gender.

In the third A Star Is Born (1976), John Norman Howard (Kristofferson) is a rock star, while Esther Hoffman (Streisand) fronts a biracial trio, the Oreos. One of the greatest romantic scenes in film history is achieved by Streisand and Kristofferson when he charismatically improvises lyrics to her exquisite piano riff ("Lost Inside of You"). Two minds and bodies meld, as the locale shifts to a candlelit bathtub, where Esther flips sex roles by rouging John Norman's cheeks and tenderly tagging his eyebrow with transgender glitter.

Cooper's Jackson generates credibly hard-edged guitar rock in scenes filmed at several music festivals, but they are less well photographed than those at Arizona's Sun Devil Stadium in the Streisand film. Furthermore, the overall soundtrack of the new A Star Is Born is bland and forced. Gaga's pop singing still lacks subtlety and finesse. She and her hard-core fans mistake applause-milking bellowing for emotional authenticity. Truly great singers, from Aretha Franklin to Adele, know how to express and temper emotion at high volume.

A harrowing highlight of the series is the ritual humiliation of the leading man. The Gaynor and Garland films are gut-wrenching in showing the cold contempt of other men for a wounded alpha male as he tumbles down to become a mere adjunct to a more successful woman. The public scenes at Santa Anita racetrack, where Norman is shunned, derided and slugged to the floor are unforgettable, as are the private scenes where he is idly housebound and painfully called "Mr. Lester" by a delivery man.

Barging drunk into the Academy Awards banquet, Norman ruins Vicki's supreme moment with his bitter rant against Hollywood. In the first two films, he inadvertently slaps her, drawing gasps from the crowd — a fiasco that starts his slide toward suicide. In the Streisand film, a decade after the birth of second-wave feminism, the venue switches to the Grammy Awards and, significantly, there is no physical blow.

At the Grammys in Cooper's film, the tipsy Jackson simply slips en route to the stage with Ally. And it all ends in infantile passivity: Jackson pisses his pants in full view of the audience. This ugly scene, which reduces a triumphant career woman to a gal pal awkwardly hiding a urine spill with a flap of her gown, is a misogynous disgrace.

In retrospect, we can now fully recognize Streisand's A Star Is Born as a feminist landmark. Wandering into a low-rent club, rowdy John Norman is instantly attracted to her Esther when she sticks a mic under his nose and sternly rebukes him, "You're blowing my act." Garland's androgynous costumes are revamped by Streisand's gender-bending outfits ("from her closet," say the credits), including a belted Cossack shirt with high boots.

Finding John Norman in bed with a groupie, Esther says in white-hot fury, "You can trash your life, but you're not going to trash mine," then speeds to the game room to smash his liquor bottles with a pool cue, in spectacular close-up. After his death in a James Dean-like car crash, Esther (introduced as "Esther Hoffman Howard," rejecting the previous films' female erasure of "Mrs. Norman Maine") reappears for an operatic solo of grief, defiance and transcendence.

Streisand takes the audience prisoner in this almost unendurably protracted single take, a raw assertion of female ego and power. Then the credits flash with her multiple roles, starting with executive producer. Streisand was setting the terms for the new frontier: women in Hollywood seizing control of their own creative universe.

Camille Paglia's most recent book is Provocations: Collected Essays on Art, Feminism, Politics, Sex, and Education.  Read more 

Betty Ballantine, Who Helped Introduce Paperbacks, Dies at 99

Betty Ballantine, who with her husband helped transform reading habits in the pre-internet age by introducing inexpensive paperback books to Americans, died on Tuesday in Bearsville, N.Y. She was 99.

Betty and Ian Ballantine established the American division of the paperback house Penguin Books in 1939. They later founded Bantam Books and then Ballantine Books, both of which are now part of Penguin Random House.

In those early years the challenge for purveyors of high quality, inexpensive paperbacks was enormous. At the time, Americans mainly read magazines or took out books from libraries; there were only about 1,500 bookstores in the entire country, according to the Ballantines, who wrote about the origins of their business in The New York Times in 1989.

With a $500 wedding dowry from Ms. Ballantine’s father, the couple established Penguin U.S.A. by importing British editions of Penguin paperbacks, starting with “The Invisible Man” by H. G. Wells and “My Man Jeeves” by P. G. Wodehouse.

They were not alone in seeing the potential of the paperback market in the United States. Pocket Books had just started publishing quality paperbacks, breaking in with Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights” and James Hilton’s “Lost Horizon.”

Both companies charged just 25 cents per book, making books easily affordable for people unable or unwilling to pay for hardcover books, which cost $2 to $3 each (about $45 in today’s money). And they overcame the distribution problem by making books available almost everywhere, including in department stores and gas stations and at newsstands and train stations.

The paper shortage during World War II put a crimp in the business, but that was temporary.

In short order, paperback books were flying off the racks and shelves, with readers able to buy two or three at once and more companies starting to publish them. The Ballantines were making good on Ian Ballantine’s stated goal: “To change the reading habits of America.”

They left Penguin in 1945 to start Bantam Books, a reprint house. Having purchased the paperback rights for 20 hardcovers, their first round of titles included Mark Twain’s “Life on the Mississippi,” John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.”

They started Ballantine Books in 1952, publishing reprints as well as original works in paperback.

While Ian Ballantine, who died in 1995, was the better known of the publishing duo, Betty Ballantine, who was British, quietly devoted herself to the editorial side. She nurtured authors, edited manuscripts and helped promote certain genres — Westerns, mysteries, romance novels and, perhaps most significantly, science fiction and fantasy.

Her love for that genre and knowledge of it helped put it on the map.

“She birthed the science fiction novel,” said Tad Wise, a nephew of Ms. Ballantine’s by marriage. With the help of Frederik Pohl, a science fiction writer, editor and agent, Mr. Wise said, “She sought out the pulp writers of science fiction who were writing for magazines and said she wanted them to write novels, and she would publish them.”

In doing so she helped a wave of science fiction and fantasy writers emerge. They included Joanna Russ, author of “The Female Man” (1975), a landmark novel of feminist science fiction, and Samuel R. Delany, whose “Dhalgren” (1975) was one of the best-selling science fiction novels of its time.

The Ballantines also published paperback fiction by Ray Bradbury, whose books include “The Martian Chronicles” and “Fahrenheit 451”; Arthur C. Clarke, who wrote “2001: A Space Odyssey”; and J.R.R. Tolkien, author of “The Hobbit” and the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

“Betty was succinct and to the point and had a steely eye and was a respected editor,” Irwyn Applebaum, the former president and publisher of the Bantam Dell Publishing Group, now part of Penguin Random House, said in a telephone interview.

“Most people who knew the Ballantines would say that much of the editorial vision and brilliance, from variety to quality, that Bantam and Ballantine were known for were due to Betty,” Mr. Applebaum said. “Ian was the proselytizer for their brand of books, but Betty was the identifier, the nurturer, the editor.”

Elizabeth Norah Jones was born on Sept. 25, 1919, in Faizabad, India, during the British rule on the subcontinent. She was the youngest of four children of Norah and Hubert Arnold Jones.

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Her father was an assistant opium agent who oversaw quality control of the crop before it was exported to Britain, where it was used for medicinal purposes. He often traveled to remote farms to inspect crops and would take along his family, who would live in tents with full linen and silver service, Ms. Ballantine, Betty’s granddaughter, said in an email.

Betty learned to read at 3 by following her father’s finger as he read aloud. At 8 she was sent to school in Mussoorie, in northern India in the foothills of the Himalayas, where the heat was less stifling than at home.

When she was 13, the family moved to the British island of Jersey in the English Channel, where she completed high school. She did not attend college; instead she took a job as a bank teller on Jersey, where she met Ian Ballantine, an American. They were married in 1939 and sailed for New York.

After building Ballantine, the couple sold the business to Random House in 1974, at which point Mr. Ballantine returned to Bantam in an emeritus status and Ms. Ballantine continued to work with authors, including the pilot Chuck Yeager and the actress Shirley MacLaine. The couple also published art books through their Rufus Publications.

Over time Ms. Ballantine earned a reputation as a shrewd and insightful editor.

“She was very traditional, and she put authors through their paces,” said Stuart Applebaum, a longtime publishing executive with Penguin Random House and the brother of Irwyn. “She understood that her job was to make the author’s work as good as it could be — in the author’s own words.”

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How The MEG Should Have Ended

How It Should Have Ended has released its latest fun take on Jason Statham's shark-hunting adventures in The Meg Movie!

Clocking in at just under three minutes, the clip runs through the various ways Statham's team could have and should have killed the shark.

You made a movie. Now what?

1. Making a good film isn’t enough.

Congrats! You made a good film. Sorry to say, that isn’t enough. “Of course, we want good films, but we are looking for a combination of elements that make it really stand out and give it a clear path to market. Having a film selected by a prestige festival gives a film an obvious path to market That’s part of the role of festivals, sales agents, marketing professionals and entertainment attorneys.” That said, sometimes films off the beaten track find their way to audiences. Just to say ‘it’s a good film’ is almost a meaningless description at this point. It’s totally subjective. If it's an advocacy documentary, is there a core audience or organizational value that will bring people out who will, in effect, vote their politics by buying a movie ticket? With a narrative film, there should be some approach to genre that makes it stand out stylistically. How is it unique?"

2. Determine your goals.

Before you set out to make your film, decide what your distribution goals are. “It’s really important to think about who you’re making the movie for and familiarize yourself with the marketplace. Do you care how your film is seen? On the big screen or at home? Socially or in isolation? Do you want a small, rabid group of people to see and love it or would you rather reach as many people as possible regardless of whether or not they appreciate it? Do you want to persuade a group of people to change their minds about an issue, or preach to your choir? Any and all of these are worthy goals in my view. It’s just important to decide upfront what’s important to you and then align your collaborators (and budget) accordingly. What are the goals and what do we want to accomplish? For most filmmakers, she said “the goals are to reach as wide an audience as possible, to pay back investors and to be in the position of making another film. When you're working with a distributor the goal is going to be money for the most part, but some want prestige or an awards campaign or visibility. When it comes to making those decisions, it's important that filmmakers have a holistic view and what are the sacrifices you're willing to make. If you want visibility, that may stand in the way of making money.

3. It’s never too early to start thinking about your distribution strategy.

Filmmakers should be considering festival and distribution strategy before they shoot. What kind of film are you making?

There are other steps filmmakers can take in pre-production that could benefit them when it’s time to seek distribution. “What can you do to enhance the marketability of your film? Maybe find someone with a social media following and put them in your film. During production, in addition to hiring a photographer to take set photos, you might consider additional original content that will help with marketing.

Research the market and develop a plan early in the process. Know what movies like yours have been doing in the market for the last five years and have a plan that you put in place before you start shooting. Distribution is work and time and planning and some money and it’s not going to be done for you. You don’t have a God-given right to make a movie and have it distributed, so be prepared for that not to happen and have a game plan.”

5. There is no “one size fits all” in distribution.

One film might benefit from a grassroots campaign with live events and another might do better going directly to VOD. Distribution is a strategy, not a formula.What works for a horror film is not necessarily going to work the same as a romantic comedy. Bbuild distribution campaigns that are specific to the film. Each film follows a unique path to distribution and it's up to the filmmaker to lead the way. Filmmakers have to understand that every film is different.The new equation is 50/50. 50 percent of your time, money and resources should go into making the film and 50% should go to connecting your film to an audience.

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Russell Baker on Writing...

“The only thing I was fit for was to be a writer, and this notion rested solely on my suspicion that I would never be fit for real work, and that writing didn't require any.”

~ Russell Baker

R.I.P. RUSSELL BAKER 1925-2019

Russell Baker (You might recognize his face if you watched Masterpiece Theater on PBS) died in January a few days after my birthday, and I recall with fond nostalgia our lunch at the New York City Yale Club about the same time in 1984--some months after The Los Angeles Times Book Review nominated his Growing Up for its Biography Award and asked me to do the write-up:

We share a gentler world in Russell Baker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Growing Up (Congdon & Weed: $15, hardcover; Plume: $5.95, paperback), a book that casts the spell of honesty on narcissism and turns it into sweet nostalgia. Baker frames his autobiography with the recent death of his mother: “It was useless now to ask for help from my mother. The orbits of her mind rarely touched present interrogators for more than a moment.”

His father died when he was five, and his memories of the wake have that family vividness that makes us realize how our memories are formed, “‘Do you want to kiss you daddy?’ Annie asked, ‘Not now,’ I said.”

Interwoven with gossip, insight and deeply moving letters from his mother’s Depression suitor, the texture of Baker’s reminiscence transforms deferred pain to present poignancy. We end at his mother’s deathbed: “Her eyelids closed again. ‘You remember Russell,’ I said. ‘And Mimi. You remember Mimi.’ Her mind seemed about to surface again. She got her eyes open.

‘Who?” ‘Russell,’ I said. ‘Russell and Mimi.’ She glared at me the way I had so often seen her glare at a dolt. ‘Never heard of them,’ she said, and fell asleep.”

The life of a human being is a million moments of action. Character is decision, a signpost along the way. Biographers serve us by revealing how human beings design for themselves the characteristic force that gives life meaning. They offer models for emulation or avoidance…

He’d written to thank me for the review, and I suggested the lunch because I’d considered him a mentor in my journalism career. During lunch we discovered dozens of what my friend the late Denise Levertov called “Interweavings,” those connections discovered only when human beings actually sit down to talk about nothing in particular, just life in general. If I recall, we talked about the creative energy caused by deadlines and word-count restrictions, Richard Nixon, and solitude vs loneliness. I walked out feeling exalted by being in the presence of a fully engaged human being. Even today I savor trips to New York, one of the cities, other than in my native South, where just plain talking is still considered the best that it gets and where many of this country’s just plain good talkers like Russell hang out.

He made it to 93, died of “complications from a fall,” as so many do, including my brother Fred this past July.

I’m sorry I can’t report massive insights from the lunch. What I can report is the gentleness of spirit that informed his writing and his life, and that made me want the genial conversation to go on forever. And so it will.

Congratulations to our friend and colleague Nancy Nigrosh who Joins The Partos Company To Head Motion Picture & TV Division!

Nancy Nigrosh The Partos Company

Nancy Nigrosh, the industry veteran who has worked repping directors and writers as a talent and literary agent at Innovative Artists and running the lit department at Gersh, has joined The Partos Company. She has been tapped to head the Motion Picture & Television department at the Santa Monica-based agency, which is known for its representation of artists behind the camera.

Nigrosh previously ran the consulting firm Literary Business and taught at UCLA Extension’s Writers’ Program. During her career she has repped clients including helmers Kathryn Bigelow, Peter Bogdanovich, Chris Eyre, John Cameron Mitchell and Leslye Headland and scribes Barry Morrow, Amanda Brown, Luke Davies, Albert Magnoli and Stuart Beattie.

Partos, run by Walter Partos, reps clients including costume designers Albert Wolsky (Bugsy), Natalie O’Brien (Honey Boy) and Heidi Bivens (Mid90s); cinematographers Scott Cunningham (Kendrik Lamar’s “Humble”) and Maxime Alexandre; and producer Hartley Gorenstein (The Boys).

“Every agency has the same information, knows the same people and pursues the same projects,” Partos said. “Nancy has an incredible eye for material and, at the end of the day, choosing the right material is the difference between a great career and a good one. It is an honor to collaborate with her.”

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Fall in Love With Time...

Film Courage: One of your many books Ken is WRITE TIME? And in the forward you say that the world can be divided into two people, productive people and non-productive people. And you say that productive people have a love affair with time. I’ve love to know what makes someone on the right side of time and what make someone where time is their enemy?

Dr. Ken Atchity, Author/Producer: Well that’s a very good question put in a very intelligent way that makes it hard to get a handle on it because time is…time doesn’t really exist. Time is a human construct, we created time. Squirrels and chipmunks don’t have much idea of time. They know that the sun rises and the sun goes down and they know that it rains but they don’t think the way that we do and they don’t keep track of their birthdays for example, only humans do that. And it’s unfortunate because you’re only as old as you think you are. And that’s the way a squirrel looks at it and nobody is arguing with the squirrel about it but humans know better.

Some people look at time as the enemy and some people look at it as a friend. There is an old Spanish saying that is “There is more time than life,” which I always thought was a wonderful way of looking at it because that is what a productive person would say “there is more time than life.” And another Spanish or Italian saying says that “Life is short, but wide.” And that’s another way of productively looking at it. Like people say “How can you do as much stuff as you do?” Well that’s because that’s what I do. I don’t do anything else. And I used to give classes on time management and do a lot of studies on it, in fact WRITE TIME is filled with time management theories. And one of the things I noticed about people was they had no idea where their time went. And they go “I don’t know where you find all the time.” And I would say “I don’t know where you lose it.”

I mean we all have the same amount of time and they go “How much time do we have by the way? How much time is in a week?” And 2 out of 10 people can ask the question right off the top of their heads because they’ve never really multiplied 25 by 7 and realized exactly how many hours there are in a week.

Everybody has the same amount of time. So what I would do in a time management class at UCLA or elsewhere is I would say let’s chart your time this week. I just want you to make a chart of what you do with your time and let’s come in and talk about it next week when we come back together. And they would come back in and that was before I asked them how many hours there were in a week I would wait for the third week to ask that question.

And some people would come in with 98-hour weeks and some people would come in with 62-hour weeks and nobody seem to agree in general how many hours there were in a week because the hours they gave me didn’t add up, they didn’t make sense. They’d say “I sleep six hours a day.” But it turned out in the third week of analysis that instead of 6 hours a day they were actually sleeping 10 hours. They just were telling themselves they were sleeping 6 hours a day.

How much time do you spend talking on the telephone? Most people thought they maybe spent 15 minutes a day, when in fact it might be an hour a day. And watching television (of course). Some people said they were only watching an hour a day when they were actually watching three hours a day.

But a productive person knows exactly how long it takes to do something. Like when I write a screenplay or a book, I can tell you how many hours it takes to do it and so I know that I can get it done in a certain amount of time. Agatha Christie apparently wrote as many as 10 books a year. She had to use four or five pen names because she just kept writing. When you think about it writing is a function of how fast you type. Because I always say (in my writing book including that one) if you’re making a rule not to sit down to write if you don’t know what you’re going to write then you’ll never waste any time and you’ll never have writer’s block. So simply don’t sit down until you know what you’re going to write. It’s just a matter of how fast can you type. So it’s better to be walking along the beach thinking about the structure of your story then it is to be wasting a lot of time sitting in front of the computer typing stuff and throwing it away and all that stuff. Just figure it all out in your head. “Well what if I forget it?” Well guess what? If you forget it that’s probably good. You are forgetting forgettable things? You won’t forget it when it starts getting really good. Because then it will do what Faulkner said, it will start haunting you and you won’t be able to forget it and then you’ll just write it down.

William Saroyan was asked once how long it took him to write the Human Comedy because somebody had told the journalist it had took him three days and he said “No, it took me all my life to write it. It just took me a few days to type it out.”

How To Book Meetings With Studio Heads And Get Into The Story Market - Dr. Ken Atchity With Alex Berman

With more than forty years’ experience in the publishing world, and twenty-five years in entertainment, Dr. Ken Atchity is a self-defined “Story Merchant” – author, professor, producer, career coach, teacher, and literary manager, responsible for launching dozens of books and films. Ken’s life passion is finding great storytellers and turning them into commercial authors and screenwriters.

In this episode you’ll learn: 

[01:14] Dr. Ken’s first deal was for 8 movies

[05:25] No one knows anything in Hollywood [06:14] Entertainment business is based on wild ideas 

[06:36] What stops someone from thinking outside the box 

[08:40] It took 22 years for Meg to get to the screen 

[12:13] Story market is very volatile 

[15:14] How is Dr. Ken setting up the meetings with studio heads 

[17:55] How to stay memorable 

[19:50] Pitching is an art 

[23:00] Difference between amateur and veteran pitching 

[23:55] What makes for a good film story 

[28:55] It’s hard to get in the story market at a national level

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Liz Manashil & Rebecca Green - This is What Distributors Want in a Film

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There is nowhere for filmmakers to go to learn the protocol for selling your film. No one tells you who is supposed to reach out to whom—do you call the distributors or do they call you? Liz Manashil and  Rebecca Green joined forces to  create a distribution resource for filmmakers that could help break down the walls between artists and gatekeepers.

To create this resource, they reached out to the distributors who are currently acquiring and releasing independent films and asked them a series of questions:

How long has your company been in business? HISTORY

How many titles do you acquire a year? TITLES PER YEAR

Of these titles, can you break down (even if a rough estimate) how many are theatrical vs how many are just digital? TYPES OF RELEASES

Do you take all rights? All territories? RIGHTS

Would you be willing to share a rough range for term length your contracts i.e. 1-5 years, 10-15 years. TERM

What do you look for when acquiring titles? WHAT WE’RE LOOKING FOR

How important is having name cast? CAST

Do existing social media numbers impact your decision? SOCIAL MEDIA

What festivals do you attend and consider strong markets for acquiring films? FESTIVALS

How many employees do you have? EMPLOYEES

How should filmmakers approach you? Do you take unsolicited submissions or do you only work with sales agents? SUBMISSIONS

What follows is a breakdown of the distributors who were willing to participate and be transparent in giving an inside look at their process.

1) Term lengths are still astronomically high.

If you look closely, you’ll see that the typical term length for most distributors is 10-15 years. At a time where we can barely predict what will be the most successful distribution model six months ahead of time, why are independent storytellers acquiescing to giving away our rights for so long?

2) Distributors did not admit the influence of social media in their acquisitions.

As someone who manages the Creative Distribution Fellowship at Sundance Institute, I’m aware that social media presence is really important. It implies that the filmmaker has taken the time to build a foundation of an audience from which a distributor (or themselves in scenarios of creative distribution) can build upon. It seems very clear to me that a distribution company would want to target an audience that is at least already partly built, but the answers below imply otherwise.

3) Shocked by lack of discovery.

Too often distributors are dependent on the curatorial powers and prowess of certain signature festivals without looking to regional festivals. You’ll see a lot of the usual suspects in the festivals that are mentioned below—it would be great to expand this list so that more films are being exposed to distributors. Please also note that distributors were interviewed before Los Angeles Film Festival decided to close its doors. I wonder who will take its place?

4) The majority of rights taken, territories focused on, and distribution strategies are similar across the board.

I’d love to see more distributors take a chance on innovation. Very often distributors will take as many rights that they can get (though mainly domestic territories noted below) and will not have the resources to be super customized in how they release their titles. Additionally, (there are exceptions) there doesn’t seem to be enough direct communication between artist and distributor. It would be great for the two forces to truly line up for each film’s release so that marketing and release strategy align with the filmmaker’s goals as well as their aesthetics.

5)There are still no open doors. 

The majority of people I talked to expressed reticence at looking at cold submissions. Sure, there’s an influx of content, but to be reliant on recommendations, agencies, and festivals is shortsighted. There are a lot of great movies out there looking for homes. I’ve even had distributors admit to me they are not watching the full duration of the films they receive. There is too much valuable substantive content for just a few festivals to properly curate and exhibit all of the quality work in the world. If distributors take chances on more festivals, they’re contributing to communities who could really benefit, and could have access to new quality and unsupported storytellers for them to consider.

Regardless of my takeaways, let this document inspire you to get your work out into the world. Abide by how each company wants to be approached and approach them respectfully.

Check out responses from individual distributors

Battleship Pretension: The Other Side of The Meg

Check out this great discussion about the writing in  The MEG here.

Gordy Hoffman of BlueCat Screenwriting Contest sits down with the cinephiles and hosts of Battleship Pretension to discuss the importance of subverting audience expectations and why great screenwriting is not above films like The Meg.
“If you generate emotion and an abundance of it, it’s going to generate revenue. Audiences have a heart. They want blood. They want to have something to be worried about.” – Gordy Hoffman
Check out this great discussion about The MEG
Without giving away spoilers, Gordy advocates that the 2018 summer shark flick, The Meg, delivers genuine peril. Modern blockbusters tend to get more spotlight and better ratings due to smart marketing and star ensembles, but does star quality guarantee high stakes and an emotional story? Not always.
Though The Meg might not be considered a “prestige picture” by most Hollywood critics, Gordy and the hosts of Battleship Pretension applaud the film for engaging the audience with unexpected turns and a sense of lost hope.
“Blindside them with a source of conflict that seems impossible to overcome. That sense that all hope is lost. You want to get the audience in that place – that we have NO IDEA how they’re going to get out. That’s screenwriting. The characters are in trouble and you care that they’re in trouble.”

Nicole Conn's More Beautiful Selected as Semi-Finalist for Best Picture, Los Angeles Independent Film Festival

We're delighted to offer our Congratulations to Nicole Conn on being selected as Semi-Finalist for Best Picture (More Beautiful), Female Filmmaker and Best Actor Cale Ferrin from Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards.

Nicole Conn Writer/Director

Cale Ferrin

The Disastrous Decline in Author Incomes Isn’t Just Amazon’s Fault

The bookselling behemoth is making life harder for writers, but so is the public perception that art doesn’t need to be paid for

There is a scene in the film Moulin Rouge in which a crowd of top hat-wearing men belt out the Nirvana song “Smells Like Teen Spirit” as they riotously descend upon the famous French hall of can-can dancers. “Here we are now! Entertain us!” the suited patrons roar as they greedily reach out for the amusements around them. It’s a high-energy, campy scene that director Baz Luhrmann overlays with a sinister message about the power discrepancy between entertainers and the men who pay them. This scene has been on my mind lately, both in the wake of the #MeToo movement and the horrific stories we’ve heard from actresses and other women in the entertainment industry, and again on Monday, when the Authors Guild published its 2018 Author Income Survey.

This was the largest survey ever conducted of writing-related earnings by American authors. It tallied the responses of 5,067 authors, including those who are traditionally, hybrid, and self-published, and found that the median income from writing has dropped 42% from 2009, landing at a paltry $6,080. The other findings are similarly bleak: revenue from books has dropped an additional 21%, to $3,100, meaning it’s impossible to make a living from writing books alone. Most writers are cobbling together various sources of income like teaching or speaking engagements, yet the median income for full-time authors for all writing-related activities still only reached $20,300, which is well below the American poverty line for a family of three. Writers of literary fiction felt the greatest decline in book earnings, down 43% since 2013.

Most writers are cobbling together various sources of income like teaching or speaking engagements, yet the median income for full-time authors still only reached $20,300.

The Authors Guild has a pretty clear idea of what’s behind this disturbing trend, namely the rise of Amazon, which severely cuts publishers’ margins on book sales. Authors ultimately shoulder the cost because publishers offset their losses by giving out smaller author advances and royalties. The platform’s resale market also means that, within months of publication, books are being resold as “like new” or “lightly used,” a scenario in which no new money goes to the actual author of the book. The Authors Guild acknowledges that Amazon isn’t the only place where authors are losing out, but the culprits are of a kind: electronic platforms like Google Books and Open Library claim fair use rights in order to offer classrooms products without paying authors royalties. This is problematic because those royalties, a kind of pay-to-play model of compensation, are how artists have made their money ever since it went out of fashion to have a patron who could support your entire career.

This year’s Authors Guild Survey is right to focus on the harm Amazon does to working writers; personally, I’ve made my 2019 resolution to put my money where my mouth is and buy all my books at local, independent bookstores. But the survey results made me wonder if that would be enough—if it’s possible, in the age of the Internet, to reverse the belief that content should mostly be free. By content I do mean to encompass all ends of the artistic spectrum, that ill-defined mass of high and low entertainment and art and news that rubs up against each other on the web in a way that makes it more difficult to separate out, and perhaps less meaningful to do so. Basically, people are insatiable for this panoply of words and images; they want mass input. If you do a Google search for “apple pie recipe,” for example, the top results include both Pillsbury’s website and the personal blog of a home cook. The point isn’t that there is anything wrong with the latter, it’s that discernment has taken a backseat to access; we want all the apple pie recipes, all the videos and photographs and articles and books. We are here now. Entertain us.

Here’s What People Don’t Get About Writing as a Job

A Twitter thread asking “what does the public misunderstand about your profession?” turns up a lot of writing wisdom

Like the charging patrons of Moulin Rouge, we see the entertainment around us and we want it now. Worse, we feel entitled to it. That we feel entitled to be entertained is, I think, symptomatic of how our attitude towards art and literature has shifted. Those things used to be much more difficult to obtain; you couldn’t flip through Monets or read some Robert Frost poems while standing in line at the grocery store, and as a result we did what we do with many rare things — we intellectualized them and tried to ascribe them meaning. This had its own flaws, of course. In her 1966 essay “Against Interpretation,” Susan Sontag argued that modern critics were so focused on examining the content and extrapolating the meaning of a piece of art that we were overlooking the thing itself. Our issue now isn’t that we’re overanalyzing art; it’s that it’s all so familiar that, instead of looking for its meaning, we are encouraged to “connect” with it, which is to say, to see ourselves in the work. But if the hallmark of a great work is that we can inhabit it and make it our own, what does that say about how we view the work’s relationship with its creator?

People have always felt a sort of ownership over art, and that’s actually good. It’s why you keep a book on your shelf and return to it, it’s why you hang a picture on your wall that speaks to you. But when this gets out of hand and you mistake access or a personal connection with your rights, as happens so often in our Internet age, it leads to a dangerous sense of entitlement. That’s why readers feel empowered to complain, directly to the creator, that a book or show doesn’t have absolutely everything they want: the romantic pairing they’d hoped for, the language they find most friendly, the ending they desired. And it’s also why, for instance, the last Harry Potter book leaked on the internet before it was officially published: fans saw the book as something they were owed, not the product of labor that deserved compensation. Not that J.K. Rowling needs more money—but she, and all authors, deserve to have their work recognized as work.

Our issue now isn’t that we’re overanalyzing art; it’s that it’s all so familiar that, instead of looking for its meaning, we are encouraged to “connect” with it, which is to say, to see ourselves in the work.

Consumers hold a pernicious power, so this trend towards free content won’t reverse itself unless we want it to. This is a sad thing, and we will all be much worse off if we can only hear stories from people who can afford to write. Nicholas Weinstock, a Guild Council member, said: “Reducing the monetary incentive for potential book authors even to enter the field means that there will be less for future generations to read: fewer voices, fewer stories, less representation of the kind of human expression than runs deeper and requires and rewards more brain power than the nearest bingeable series on Netflix or Amazon or GIF on your phone.” Maybe we will all get what we think we’re entitled to — free art — but what kind of art will that be?

Read more

Go to the profile of Carrie V Mullins

Carrie V Mullins

Writer: fiction, food, travel, culture @carrievmullins

People who read live longer than those who don’t, Yale researchers say

The benefits of reading should not be understated, even when it comes to living a longer life. A new study finds that reading books in particular returns cognitive gains that increase longevity.

Bookworms rejoice! A new study in the journal Social Science and Medicine just discovered that people who read books live longer than people who don't.

Researchers at Yale University asked 3,635 participants over 50 years-old about their reading habits. From that data, they split the cohort into 3 groups: non-readers, people who read less than 3.5 hours per week, and people who read more than 3.5 hours per week. The researchers followed up with each group for 12 years. The people who read the most were college-educated women in the higher-income group.

Over the course of the study, the researchers consistently found that both groups of readers lived longer than the non-readers. The readers who read over 3.5 hours a week lived a full 23 months longer than the people who didn't read at all. That extended lifespan applied to all reading participants, regardless of "gender, wealth, education or health" factors, the study explains. That's a 20% reduction in mortality created by a sedentary activity. That's a big deal, and a very easy fix for improving quality of life in anyone over 50.

Credit: Social Science and Medicine

The results get better. “Compared to non-book readers," the authors continue, “book readers had a 4-month survival advantage," at the age when 20% of their peers passed away. “Book readers also experienced a 20% reduction in risk of mortality over the 12 years of follow up compared to non-book readers." The authors continue:

"Further, our analyses demonstrated that any level of book reading gave a significantly stronger survival advantage than reading periodicals. This is a novel finding, as previous studies did not compare types of reading material; it indicates that book reading rather than reading in general is driving a survival advantage."

The reason books had greater gains than periodicals is because book reading involves more cognitive faculties. The readers didn't begin with higher cognitive faculties than the non-readers; they simply engaged in the activity of reading, which heightened those faculties. “This finding suggests that reading books provide a survival advantage due to the immersive nature that helps maintain cognitive status," said the study's authors.

As any book lover knows, reading involves two major cognitive processes: deep reading, and emotional connection. Deep reading is a slow process where the reader engages with the book and seeks to understand it within its own context and within the context of the outside world. Emotional connection is where the reader empathizes with the characters, and that promotes social perception and emotional intelligence. Those cognitive processes were cited by the Yale team and used as markers for this study. While they apparently offer a survival advantage, “better health behaviors and reduced stress may explain this process [as well]," according to the study. Still, those cognitive benefits are real.

Start Reading Dennis Palumbo's Head Wounds…

Formerly a Hollywood screenwriter (of My Favorite Year, Welcome Back, Kotter, and more), Dennis Palumbo is a licensed psychotherapist and author. His mystery fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, The Strand and elsewhere, and is collected in From Crime to Crime (Tallfellow Press). His series of mystery thrillers (Mirror Image, Fever Dream, Night Terrors, Phantom Limb, and the latest — excerpted here — Head Wounds) all feature Daniel Rinaldi, a psychologist and trauma expert who consults with the Pittsburgh Police.

From the publisher: “Psychologist Dr. Daniel Rinaldi consults with the Pittsburgh Police. His specialty is treating victims of violent crime – those who’ve survived an armed robbery, kidnapping, or sexual assault, but whose traumatic experience still haunts them. Head Wounds picks up where Rinaldi’s investigation in Phantom Limb left off, turning the tables on him as he, himself, becomes the target of a vicious killer.”

Praise for Dennis Palumbo’s Daniel Rinaldi Series:

“Accomplished writer Dennis Palumbo calls his latest novel Head Wounds and the grim title should
serve as a warning. This psychological thriller has some fine language and a strong narrative pull that keeps the pages turning, but the series of crimes that occur are unnerving…People in the story wear Pitt Panthers and Steelers sweatshirts, drive on the parkway, and get their news from KDKA. Mr. Palumbo often does more than just mention Pittsburgh landmarks; he characterizes the city in both positive and negative ways…As Head Wounds rolls to its clever, crazy gothic conclusion, no one could accuse Mr. Palumbo of being flat. This is the fifth book in his Daniel Rinaldi series and most readers will hope Dan lives to see a sixth.”
— Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“Head Wounds delivers relentless action toward a climax as vivid and harrowing as anything I’ve ever read.”
— Joseph Finder, New York Times best-selling author of The Switch

“The character of psychologist and trauma expert Daniel Rinaldi gives great heart to this story and elevates it to novelistic heights.”
— John Lescroart, New York Times best-selling author of Damage

“Lovers of noir will enjoy Dan Rinaldi’s fast-paced adventures. Rinaldi, an empathic therapist, is on call to the Pittsburgh police. He needs every ounce of his Golden Glove skills to survive the violent world of Pennsylvania politics.”
— Sara Paretsky, Mystery Writers of America Grand Master, author, V.I. Warshawski novels

“A gripping thriller, chock full of the desired twists and cliffhangers, with the added layer and intriguing access of a therapist narrator/detective. A page turner!”
— Aimee Bender, New York Times best-selling author of An Invisible Sign of My Own


Miles Davis saved my life.

I was sitting on the couch in my front room, re-reading the three-inch-thick dossier, listening to Davis’ seminal album with his New Quintet. I’d slid the CD into the squat disc player minutes before, right after I’d poured myself a second Jack Daniels. Neat.

It was sometime after nine PM. My broad picture window looking out on Grandview Avenue reflected an opaque darkness chilled by an earlier spring rain. As usual lately, I’d forgotten to draw the heavy drapes when I came home from work. Sometimes I even forgot to eat.

My only task, these past few nights, was to put the dossier on my lap and slowly peruse its many pages. To read yet again the police detectives’ statements, peer at the crime scene photos, review the Medical Examiner’s report. The hard-backed binder had become an important but cryptic artifact, the potential key to a mystery that I’d long accepted as buried in the past.

“Okay,” I said aloud, to an empty room. An empty house. “Tonight I find it. Whatever the hell it is.”

The key to a mystery. At least that’s what he’d claimed it was, the man who told me about it. Who believed that hidden in the dossier’s pages was an overlooked or ignored piece of evidence proving that my wife’s death almost a dozen years ago hadn’t been what it seemed. That the gunfire that ended Barbara’s life was not the lethal result of a mugging gone wrong.

It was murder.

And the proof was in this extensive dossier that same man had once prepared at a wealthy new patient’s request. Before she’d consider entering therapy. A dossier on me.

He told me all this over a week ago, as I crouched by his blood-soaked body, staring in disbelief at the man’s stricken face. Moments before, he’d saved that patient’s life by stepping in front of a killer’s gun, taking the bullet meant for her. Although the shooter had been quickly subdued, it was too late for the wounded man.

Gasping in pain from the slug lodged in his gut, he urged me to go to his office and find his copy of the dossier. Though within moments his voice had fallen to a croaked, desperate whisper as he struggled to speak, to find words. Which he somehow managed to do, right before he died in my arms.

I winced now at the memory and swallowed half the whiskey, barely aware of the artful harmonics flowing from the CD player atop the nearby bureau. Denied even the meager solace I usually derived most nights from the soulful, insistent music.

Truth is, I was still pretty scarred, both physically and psychologically, from the events of the past few weeks. The kidnapping of that troubled new patient. The shocking violence and sudden, unexpected deaths that followed. The final showdown with her captors. And, throughout, my own head-strong, perhaps foolish involvement.

God knows, I still had the bruises to prove it.

I sighed heavily. My eyes, tired after a long day seeing patients, squinted down at the blurred, Xeroxed documents arranged chronologically in the ringed binder. Trying to make sense of what I was seeing. Especially the handwritten notes of the investigating detectives. As though, in the soft amber light of the table lamp, the hurriedly-scrawled words had become meaningless cyphers.

Not that the police reports made up the bulk of the binder’s contents. This painstakingly-prepared dossier was literally the paper trail of my entire life. From birth certificate to University of Pittsburgh psychology degree, from my clinical experience to favorite bar, hospital affiliations to tax returns. My family and its many sorrows. My marriage to the former Barbara Camden, also a Ph.D, including our brief stint in couples counseling. My friends and colleagues, my private practice, my work as a consultant to the Pittsburgh Police. All my forty-plus years condensed into a stack of documents, copied records, data printed off the Internet. The gains and losses, both professionally and personally, that made up my life.

But it was the material pertaining to Barbara’s death that drew my repeated, almost obsessive interest. Including the personal details that were compiled by the police at the start of their investigation. Her own family’s history, her noted career as a linguistics professor at Pitt, her marriage to me not long after we’d first met as graduate students. Then came the forensics from the crime scene, the futile canvas of the surrounding area. Leads that went nowhere, anonymous tips that never panned out. And finally their interview with me a month after the mugging, as I lay in the hospital bed, recovering from my own gunshot wound.

Though there hadn’t been much I could tell them. Barbara and I had been approached coming out of a restaurant at the Point by an armed thug in a hoodie. He was about my size, I vaguely recalled, though his face was almost totally obscured by the peaked hood and the black of night. A chilled darkness barely broken by the restaurant’s soft-hued exterior lamps and a single light canopied over the valet parking kiosk.

It had all happened in what seemed like moments. The guy grabbed for Barbara’s purse, she resisted, and I tried to intervene. In the struggle, three shots went off, two finding my wife. I took the third to my head, putting me on the ground. Then the mugger ran off, his echoing footsteps the last thing I remembered before passing out…

He was never found.

Someone inside the restaurant called 911. But by the time the police and an ambulance arrived, Barbara had died at the scene. While I, for some reason, didn’t.

Though I still bear the scar from the bullet that had pierced my skull, evidence of my unlikely survival. My inexplicable, unearned luck.

I guess I’ve been trying to earn it ever since.

* * *

Despite the knot tightening in my stomach, I threw back the rest of the whiskey. It tasted as sour as I felt. Whatever clue I was supposed to discover in this dossier still eluded me, after a half-dozen careful readings on as many nights. Unless the dying man had been wrong, and there was nothing to find.

I was just about to close the binder for the night when an old favorite track, “Just Squeeze Me,” came from the CD player’s speakers. Miles on trumpet, Coltrane on sax. Heart-stopping, elegant and perfect.

Except the volume wasn’t loud enough. So, favoring my still-bruised ribs, I levered myself up from the couch and went over to where the player sat on the bureau.

I never made it.

I’d just bent to turn up the volume–

Suddenly, the front window shattered behind me. A booming explosion of glass, jagged shards cascading into the room.

Frozen with shock, I felt the rush of the bullet as it whistled past me, just over my shoulder. Missing me by inches. Embedding itself in the wall.

I threw myself to the floor. Sprawled there, unmoving. Conscious only of a dull roaring in my skull. The insistent reverberation of the gunshot.

As I waited, heart thudding in my chest, for the sound of another shot. Another implosion of broken glass.

A sound that never came.

Copyright © Dennis Palumbo. This excerpt is published here courtesy of the author and should not be reprinted without permission.

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