Posted by Bob Greenberger on July 29, 2011
What a wasted day.
Yesterday, the external monitor acted up, repeating a problem I had about two months back. At the time, it was diagnosed as a series of driver issues and that my relatively new laptop was already hopelessly out of date with drivers for the port replicator I was using for docking my peripherals.
So, I tried to self-diagnose the problem and finally gave up, calling HP’s crack support team. After a while, they decided it had to be a Dell problem and that I needed a driver for the external monitor I was using. Not so fast, Dell tells me; their monitors are plug and play, no drivers needed.
I shut down the system, unplugged stuff and tried a clean restart to see what would happen. That’s when old problem number two reared its ugly head. The laptop wasn’t booting. When this happened the first time, it required me to totally reinstall the Operating System.
Once more on the phone with HP, we go through a series of personnel, largely because I kept getting transferred to the wrong party. When I got the right person, a lovely woman named Bhavani, we got to work. She had me going through a series of diagnostics, which was time consuming but reassured us that the hard drive was intact. That meant, she declared, the motherboard was bad and I would have to return the system. We managed to get into the laptop and recover my personal files, which went to the external hard drive.
She was documenting the case and would call me back. I hauled out the old and creaky Dell laptop and began preparing it for service once more.
After two hours of waiting, I called HP and spoke to someone else. He couldn’t believe she said it was the motherboard nor did her case file notes have half the stuff we discussed and did. He did some checking about both issues, had me download a new BIOS update for the laptop and a graphics driver for the replicator and…wow, everything worked.
I put the Dell laptop away, reconfigured my desk…again…and suddenly it was 3 p.m. This began before 9 a.m. so literally, my work day was shot. While I did manage to read a book for review and finish another tome I had lying around, it frustrated me no end.
When I finally managed to get to work, I did manage to complete the first draft of the ghostwriting project and can now let it marinate for at least a week before I go back and polish it before delivering. (I also saw that the first ghostwriting project finally got solicited and hope to be able to discuss it with you all soon.)
Posted by Bob Greenberger on July 25, 2011
I usually don’t do this, but htere’s my ComicMix review of Captain America which goes live on that site tomorrow.
Joe Johnston knows how to direct adventure films but watching his growth as a director has been a pleasure. His first offering, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids was a visual effects feast, thanks to his training at Industrial Light & Magic. He followed up in 1991 with his first comic book adaptation, Dave Stevens’ Rocketeer and while the movie is far better than the critical reaction or box office would indicate, it still lacked that certain spark of delight for a summer blockbuster. Over the intervening years, Joe has continued to direct films that has shown steady growth as he has more subtly integrated effects with characterization with the family friendly Jumanji and the heart-warming October Sky. It was all good training as he took on what has become his highest profile project yet, Captain America: The First Avenger.
Clearly, he has learned his lessons as the critics – both mainstream and geek alike – have raved over the film while the $65 million it earned over the weekend proves he delivered a film people wanted to see. There were many obstacles challenging Johnston so that he managed to overcome them with aplomb is quite impressive. First of all, he had to turn a brief origin story from Captain America Comics #1 into a story that was plausible for modern day audiences. He had to fill it with winks and nods to the comics continuity that has been built around that Joe Simon & Jack Kirby tale of a man being turned into a super-solider. Then there was all the spadework that was required to prime audiences for the next installment in the Marvel Film Universe, next summer’s The Avengers.
Joining me for the Saturday matinee were two neighbors who only knew the character by name so while I sat there geeking out like the rest of you over the little touches, they were thoroughly satisfied with the story from beginning to end. (I had to spend dinner annotating it for them which was a fun test of memory.)
Steve Rogers was 4F despite his desire to serve as America was entering World War II, the script adaptation by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely wisely took the time to show exactly why it was Rogers who was selected for the experimental serum. Retrofitting in Howard Stark, played with verve by Dominic Cooper, helped tie things to the greater Marvel continuity and made perfect sense. But it remained Professor Erskine’s show and Stanley Tucci did a nice job giving him a world-weary personality with more than a sense of humor. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by Bob Greenberger on July 22, 2011
Last night the Democratic Town Committee held its special meeting to pick the slate for the November 8 municipal election. The Republicans had their primary vote on Tuesday so we had some sense of who the competition was going to be.
As Vice Chair, I spent the last month juggling preparations for the meeting, the subsequent campaign, and overseeing the DTC’s website revamp while also answering numerous questions from tyros. There was a lot of recruiting to be done, especially in my own district where it the Dems had a fairly stable slate of candidates going back a decade or so. In 2009, as you may recall, the incumbents were swept out of office, victims of the nationwide tide of fear and frustration that trumped reason.
This time around, we were looking for new faces, fresh voices. We hit PTA-active parents hard and we knocked on neighbors’ doors and made countless phone calls. All this work netted us a mix of new and old.
A few weeks back, I mentioned my weekly Patch column had been suspended until after the election so they would not appear partisan. That freed me to consider running again and at first I refused to consider it, given my school commitments. One day, though, Deb surprised me and said she thought I should go for it. “You’re good at it, and you want to do it,” she said. That got me to thinking.
Last night it was made official: I will once more be a Democratic candidate for the Representative Town Meeting in district 8. Alongside me will be Allen Marks and Mitch Fuchs, both RTM vets, along with Bill Barrett and newcomer Brian Sikorski. Making time for walking the neighborhood will be tricky but doable and once the heat abates, work can begin in earnest. Our competition is made up of three incumbents and two newcomers and the district is fairly divided between Ds and Rs so it will come down, as usual, to the independents to determine who will represent the area.
Wish me luck.
Posted by Bob Greenberger on July 18, 2011
So, the blog has been quiet for a week and for that I apologize. You’re probably wondering if I’ve recovered from Roast and I have and it had little to do with the silence. Instead, I blame life. Here’s what’s been going on:
I returned from the con and dedicated myself to completing the revisions to the Young Adult novel that has been awaiting my attention since March. That took Tuesday and it is now off to my Beta Reader for additional feedback.
I then turned my attention to the ghost writing project which calls for 55,000 words of brilliance by September 1. The sample chapter was approved in June so I dove into the research and began conducting several online interviews. Then I began writing and realized the outline handed to me no longer made sense. I therefore revised it and submitted it to my client to see what they thought. I got a green light and proceeded to work. I am now just over 39,500 into the raw, first draft and feeling pretty good. I have lined up other interviews for the book and expect to hit my target without too much trouble, which will free me to move on.
Crazy 8 Press
Once the ghost book is off to my client, I can then focus on one or two projects for our new venture before I return to being a student. One is part of a long series of novellas that has been gestating for quite some time now while the other is something I talked about at Shore Leave. Bloodlines is a fantasy to be co-written with Aaron Rosenberg and it has an outline and three chapters done so we know where this is going. I’m pretty excited about getting back to fiction and having something for the website.
Meantime, our collaborative story Demon Circle, written to support the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, is about to be uploaded and should be on sale this week as promised.
The other thing that has been consuming my life has been gearing up for this week’s Special Meeting of the Democratic Town Committee. As Vice Chair I’ve been taking point on organizing things and making certain we were all on top of which candidates we do (or don’t) have for slots. We’ve been revamping the website to coincide with this so that’s taken extra time as I’ve been working with our web designer, whose done lovely work. It’s amazing how many moving parts there are to the political process and the campaign hasn’t even really begun yet.
Our retaining wall has been crumbling for some years now as the railroad ties have deteriorated and beg for replacement. We put it off for one reason or another until it became clear that replacing the wall and filling in with more soil was now essential. Fortunately, we have skilled family we can hire for such jobs. My nephew Tim came down for the weekend and led the work, aided by his dad, my brother-in-law John, and another nephew, Zachary. Fortunately, Zach lives nearby so did the prep work days before and we arranged for lumber and rock to be delivered. Still, I spent a good chunk of Saturday running to Home Depot and Stop & Shop because there was always something else needed. Still, they did great work in a short amount of time so the wall was done by Saturday night. Sunday, Tim filled in the last of the rock and cleaned up. Zach will be back this week to shovel in more rock that arrives and then we need some soil to fill in the gaps and then Deb can plant and fuss to her heart’s content.
All told, life has been pretty full.
Posted by Bob Greenberger on July 13, 2011
Shore Leave tends to be a busy event for me as I juggle panels along with emcee duties, always trying to stuff more into a day than is possible, especially as I try to spend time with the local friends from down there. Sadly, after three decades, we’re all used to catching whatever time we can for catch-up conversations, hugs, and the like.
After the roast, there was the Meet the Pros party where I happily signed books, posed for pictures, and since it was lightly attended, managed to chat with my peers.
Saturday morning was kicked off with my hour of chatter and later I did a panel on tie-ins followed by an hour of the writers’ workshop.
The focus, though, was on Crazy 8 Press. We had the kickoff panel at noon where we talked about the line and solicited opening lines for our collaborative story, with donations per line going to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. The submissions were read aloud without author attribution and we gauged response before settling on a line that turned out to come from author Kevin Dilmore. After the panel, we set up in the narrow space provided by the con with a laptop and exterior monitor so people could watch our output.
I didn’t have to judge Masquerade which was nice, getting to sit with Deb and Kate for a change. She performed with the Boogie Knights as part of the half-time show and they played an extended set which was loose and fun. Afterwards, there was a Mystery Trekkie Theater rehearsal and by then I was tired so skipped the dance and collapsed. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by Bob Greenberger on July 12, 2011
We’ve gotten into the habit of hitting the road early to ensure we arrive in Maryland without being frazzled by traffic and time pressures. This year was no different and, Starbucks in hand, we were on I-95 at 6 a.m. on the dot. As a result, we made fabulous time, crossing the George Washington Bridge in record time but a mile or two after that, we had quite the scare.
A tractor-trailer in the middle lane lost a spare tire, which came barreling towards us at high speed, smashing into the hood and then going under the car. Another truck paralleling us kept pointing to the oblivious truck zipping away and we nodded then pulled over. The hood is scratched, the Toyota emblem gone, the license plate bent in half and the frame cracked apart. The plastic undercoating had ripped loose so thanks to my well-prepared wife, we used the Leatherman to cut away the loose part, secured the remainder and checked for further damage. No leaks or parts on the ground so we cautiously eased back into traffic and got down to Cockeysville without further incident. With that and one gas stop, we still did the trip in 4:15 which is pretty impressive.
Since it was early and a work day, we settled in across the street at Panera Bread, drinking coffee and getting work done until it was time to check in and begin the con experience.
Entering the Hunt Valley Inn I was faced with myself. A giant, full color copy of the poster was on a table and the hallways were covered with the poster in black and yellow. I was told by more than one woman that I haunted them in the various ladies’ rooms. Someone wisely put tape over my poster-eyes. The afternoon zipped by and suddenly it was time for the Roast rehearsal and my first real exposure to what an enormous undertaking this was for Dave Mack. Dave also was wise enough this year to recruit his wife Kara to direct the show, which helped ease the pressure. As the roastee, there was little for me to do after I practiced my entrance.
I wolfed down dinner, changed into my evening attire and headed off.
The room had to two-thirds filled and there was a definite buzz in the air. With a cue of music, the roasters took their seats as I stood with my escorts, Irene Jericho and Amy Sisson. My intro came and I strode onto the stage and we were off. I was placed upon my throne which turned out to be a hard plastic portable toilet with the only relief supplied by the Bob throw pillow I was given. While I have no trouble appearing in public, being the center of such attention was awkward. Then we were underway with John DeLancie making a surprise appearance, asking people to donate to the Red Cross then being the first of several claiming Kate’s paternity. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by Bob Greenberger on July 8, 2011
Today’s the day. Officially, Crazy 8 Press is open for business. We’ve had endless amount of technical glitches and human error that would make the strongest of you weep, but somehow, we’ve gotten past those and can offer you the first book as promised.
Here’s a link to the dedicated page for Peter David’s The Camelot Papers. We go live at 4 p.m. so start saving your nickels and order so you can have something fun to read this weekend.
Meantime, check our Facebook page and the website for photos and news from Shore Leave where the six of us expect to celebrate this achievement.
Posted by Bob Greenberger on July 4, 2011
After all the talk and anticipation, suddenly, this week is Shore Leave 33 and I’ll be busier than ever. For those attending, here’s my schedule and please, come say howdy.
7-9 p.m. The Character Assassination of Robert Greenberger
The third annual charity roast for the American Red Cross. David Mack, I gather, has gone above and beyond this year, guaranteeing that this year’s event is the most memorable one yet. He’s even recruited his adorable wife, Kara, to direct so he can be the obsessive compulsive producer. The e-mail about the rehearsal schedule was pages long so you can imagine.
10 p.m.-Midnight Meet the Pros
As usual, a bookseller will have most of our in-print works for sale and we’ll have stuff on our own to hawk. The six inmates that comprise Crazy 8 Press will be seated together since our first eBook is available this day. We’re also accepting opening line suggestions for a stunt that will happen Saturday and Sunday.
10-11 a.m. Me
I’ll take the stage, ramble for 10 minutes then, with Glenn Hauman’s able assistance, we’ll show movie trailers followed by Q&A until they throw me off the stage.
Noon-1 p.m. Crazy 8 Press
We first mentioned this project at Farpoint and now that it’s a reality, Glenn, Peter David, Mike Friedman, Aaron Rosenberg, Howard Weinstein and yours truly will talk about what we’re doing, when we’re doing it and how you can help. The panel will end with our selecting the first line of a story and then for the remainder of the weekend, the Crazy 8 Press team will take turns writing the story on the convention floor. A week later, we’ll make it available for sale with the proceeds helping the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
3-4 p.m. Misconceptions About Tie-In Literature
I will try and get a word in edgewise about the topic but since I share the dais with Greg Cox, Keith R. A. DeCandido, Peter, Mike, and David R. George III I may just wave.
3-5 p.m. Annual How to Write Everything Workshop
Well, once I finish the above panel, I’ll come barreling in to join Howie, Bob Jones, Dave Galanter, and Kelly Meding.
10-11 a.m. The Bob & Howie Show
Once more, we’ll find oddities to talk about, things we love and hate to argue about and kill an hour as we all slowly make our way into the show’s final day.
11 a.m.-Noon Writing Super-Hero Novels
I’m probably crashing this panel to join Keith, Greg, Peter, Christopher Bennett, David Mack, Mike, Kelly, and Alan Kistler. Or I’ll just sit in the audience and heckle.
5-6:30 p.m. Mystery Trekkie Theater
Peter, Mike, and I once more skewer an episode of Star Trek in the manner of Mystery Science Theater. Which one? What will we do for the opening? Stick around and find out.
Additionally, I recommend watching Kate and her fellow Boogie Knights Saturday at both 11 a.m. and during the Masquerade half-time show. There’s also Saturday evening’s Third Annual Robbie Greenberger Memorial Texas Hold’em Poker Tournament.
Posted by Bob Greenberger on July 3, 2011
On June 30, my two online classes came to their scheduled conclusion and it appears I have aced both classes, satisfying the state’s demand that I deepen my literature base. With those obligations completed, I was a free agent until August 29 or so. That’s about eight solid weeks with no school assignments of any kind.
I now remember the elation I felt as school was declared out for the summer.
So, how shall I spend all this free time? The first free day was spent with Mike Friedman and Peter David, rehearsing for next week’s Mystery Trekkie Theater at Shore Leave, planning Crazy 8 Press stuff, and talking about a long gestating project. A fun time was had by all, trust me.
There’s a growing stack of personal reading that has been patiently waiting for my attention. Already read one of those and about to begin another.
It’s also time to start generating some income and once I get the green light, expected Tuesday, I will begin writing another ghost project. The sample chapter was delivered in June and I have been researching on and off so can dive right into that.
Of course, I need to write some stuff for Crazy 8 Press, too. There’s a collaboration with Aaron Rosenberg awaiting me, right after I revise the Young Adult sample chapters and get those off to the interested agent.
Between those two and my reading, I should be set. But there are also my obligations to the Democratic Town Committee as we move into campaign mode. Later this month we have the special meeting to select candidates and that’s proving time consuming.
My mom will be around for a few days followed soon after by Deb’s sister and family for three days. We’ve hired our nephews to come rebuild a retaining wall so there will be plenty of family to visit with as well. And Deb and I are actually planning a short getaway with the parameters roughed out and this week I have to refine it and start making reservations.
While there’s no school work, there’s also no shortage of things to do to occupy my time. I’ll want to see friends, even take a trip the Big Apple for a mix of business and pleasure. And before I know it, I’ll be heading back to Darien. But for now, I look forward a summer without anywhere near as much pressure as the first six months of 2011 presented me.