Posted by Bob Greenberger on March 5, 2013
For those who missed it, yesterday was Robert Greenberger Day in Fairfield. I didn’t learn of this momentous occasion until about 8:30 p.m., giving me only a few hours to revel in it.
The reason I was so honored is because last night marked my retirement from the Democratic Town Committee. The resignation was prompted by the big change in my life and the reason I’ve been sporadically posting.
By month’s end we will be relocating from Connecticut to Maryland. The move is being driven by my wife correctly divining the stars, noting that our life circumstances are at a point where this move closer to Kate comes at the right time. This was a conversation which began leisurely over the summer and picked up speed over the fall as we confirmed the stars were indeed in the right place at the right time. We began purging the basement and used one of my fellow DTC colleagues to be our realtor. She walked through the house and gave us a laundry list of cosmetic and substantive things to maximize the house’s value.
Between Thanksgiving and Christmas the comedy duo of Ray and Ivan tackled the list and then some. By the holidays we had a renovated kitchen among other areas and marveled at it all. January saw Ray and his backup team renovate our deck and add a front walkway as we placed things in storage to “stage” the house for its listing. Having heard all the woes about the real estate market, we were ready to list and wait the months before the house sold.
Instead, it listed and we had an offer within two weeks. Long story short, we negotiated and settled on a price and a late March closing date. With about six weeks’ notice, we had to find somewhere to live, and begin the intense process of relocating after 20.5 years in the same place. Thankfully, we were already scheduled for Farpoint in Maryland so tacked on two days for house hunting, working with a realtor who came recommended. Before heading down, people we both knew recommended communities which helped us focus our thinking which first stretched from White Marsh to Annapolis.
We found ourselves gravitating towards townhouses over single family homes and wound up successfully bidding on a place. There were days where we did nothing but sign documents and negotiate with lawyers and realtors representing the seller or the buyer. Meantime, we received about seven moving estimates and that became an interesting exercise in trying to reduce them to apples to apples comparisons. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by Bob Greenberger on February 23, 2013
I think my fascination with film trailers began in college. Back in the 1970s, there were usually 2-3 trailers before a film and it was a given. But in Binghamton, the Crest Theater was known for showing tons of trailers, as many of fifteen minutes’ worth prior to the feature film and I was hooked. That was around the time the elevator pouring blood for The Shining became indelibly etched in our minds as fabulous teaser and awareness marketing. Not a single frame from the film but this torrent of blood streaming down the hotel corridor was enough to hook us.
During the 1980s, when I was working first for Starlog and then at DC, I would attend films and got to know film publicist Jeff Walker. Our friendship grew to the point where he would send me a complete set of trailers to show at cons he couldn’t attend. The Trailer Park panels (or whatever the con chose to call them), became a staple of media cons and was one reason I was constantly invited. The highlight may have been helping Jeff show trailers and take questions at the Millennial Philcon in 2000.
Studios, by then, recognized how important the trailers were to making audiences ware of coming films as competition for eyeballs increased thanks to video games, computers and cable television. Soon, E! and other channels devoted time slots to nothing but trailers. Studios cut deals to ensure that the last trailer seen was attached to their feature while studio chains could juggle what came before. By this point, theaters were running more and more trailers giving rise to the complaint that films were missing their scheduled start times and legislators even considered truth in advertising laws, although nothing came of them.
Every season we get teased with what is to come, notably during the holidays when studios whet our appetites for the coming summer blockbusters. Knowing fans eager flock to openings to get the first glimpse of the Next Big Thing. Studios feed that desire with exclusive looks at Imax theaters.
Now, I read in the Los Angeles Times that studios are being charged for showing trailers, another revenue stream for theaters who keep jacking up concession and ticket prices. Apparently, the unspoken rule is that each studio gets one free trailer and the rest get paid for. Several, but not all of the studios are giving in to the demands, but enough are to make this noteworthy.
The article states: “The competition is fierce, and prices high, to run a trailer in front of popular movies such as The Hobbit. Theater chains typically receive $25,000 to $100,000 to run a spot before a popular film at half their theaters — saving an equal amount of time at the other half of their theaters for another paid trailer.”
This certainly explains why I am now noticing we’re seeing fewer trailers than we did a year or five earlier. And that’s a shame since it is often the first time mass audiences (not geeks like us) are first aware these movies even exist.
We can carp about how their cut or if they give away too much/too little story at another time. But this story made me a little sad that something integral to my entertainment life has been compromised.
Posted by Bob Greenberger on February 20, 2013
Bob Jeschonek and I go back a ways, here with Aaron Rosenberg as we discussed the business of writing.
Sunday at a con is always a mix. People are dragging from partying all night long while also packing and checking out, some earlier than others. As a result, con programming eases people into the day, with me and Howie chatting for an hour. He read from his western-in-progress and I talked about this and that.
I immediately moved on to sharing a table with Aaron Rosenberg and Robert T. Jeschonek, talking the business of writing. There we talked taxes, estates, marketing, and so on.
Crazy 8 Press had its usual con business meeting and then Mike, Peter and I talked After Earth for an hour. We had a small but interested group of fans talking about the June 7 film and its related tie-ins. Then, I joined new author Kate Mason, Richard White, Lance Woods, and Dave Mack to talk about the music we use when we write. What was fun was that after knowing Lance for over thirty years, this was the first panel we did together. He published his first book last year, Heroic Park, and joins the pantheon of hacks.
Danielle Bonardi made four versions of the Mark IV costume before entering the masquerade as a first-timer. she walked off with four awards.
The final two hours of the show allowed me to finally relax at the C8 table. Aaron and Kathleen helped me brainstorm a story problem, which was a relief, and I sold a book so it was a good use of time. Then suddenly, the 20th anniversary con came to a successful close.
I missed John Billingsley and Bonita Fredericy’s two talks, catching just bits and pieces, but they were the talk of the con. Apparently they are quite the comedic duo, making the talks and even their auctions highly entertaining. Deb, who rarely attends the panels, texted that I was missing something wonderful.
One theme that recurred among the media guests was that a smaller show like this was tremendous fun because it allowed better interactions with the fans and a chance to do fun stuff like the audio performance. They certainly are well treated and already several are talking about coming back in the future, a good sign for any show.
The committee continues to evolve as several longtimers are stepping aside, making room for the younger members to take on new responsibilities and help it thrive.
I had a great time and already look forward to coming back.
Posted by Bob Greenberger on February 19, 2013
Farpoint is the convention that thrived after OctoberTrek and ClipperCon rose and fell. Organized and run by many of the same people, it become a generational con, started by the first generation of Baltimore-area Star trek fans and gradually taken over mostly by the second generation. And now, as the show celebrated its 20th Anniversary this past weekend, a third generation has come to work on the event. That’s pretty damn impressive considering how many shows have staffs that change almost annually.
It was always in the shadow of Shore Leave, half the size and therefore more intimate, the organizers wisely moved hotels a few years back to the Crowne Plaza so it has clearly developed its own identity and flavor.
The feeling of family has also been extended to the guests as they have brought back several faster than other shows would do. Felicia Day, Lee Arenberg and Bonita Friedericy, all appeared over the last three years and were brought back. Joining them as first timers was Bonita’s husband John Billingsley, Rob Paulsen, and Giancarlo Esposito, who was making one of his first con appearances so it was still new to him.
We brought Ariel David with us, and she came loaded with stuff to auction off to help raise funds to offset her father’s medical costs, which are an enduring concern. Hitting the road at 6 a.m. has become the norm for us, ensuring we arrive in Maryland in reasonable time. This year, we actually managed a record four hours flat, including one rest stop. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by Bob Greenberger on February 13, 2013
Tag: I’m it.
Welcome to my first blog hop post. What is a blog hop? It’s a virtual event that helps readers discover new authors. The first author tags five others whose work he or she admires, who each tag five more, who each tag five more, and so on. These memes float around the internet every few years, and this particular event has been so widespread, covering so many genres and amazing authors, that it was impossible to say no to participating.
Thanks to Kevin Dilmore, last week’s hopper and the guy who roped me into this.
In this particular hop, the authors I’ve chosen and I will each answer, on our respective blogs, the same 10 (predetermined) questions ranging from our current works in progress to our writing processes and beyond. Please feel free to share comments and questions.
Now, here is my Next Big Thing! This is what will follow all the After Earth prose that I’ve been shamelessly pimping here.
1) What’s the title of your forthcoming book?
ReDeus: Beyond Borders.
2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
Aaron Rosenberg, Paul Kupperberg, and I created the ReDeus universe ages and ages ago and after many years gestating, we finally decided to self-publish through Crazy 8 Press last year. We gathered a bunch of our pals and invited them to join us in this world, creating ReDeus: Divine Tales, which came out in August. Everyone had so much fun and the response was good so we decided to do two more this year, starting with Beyond Borders.
3) What genre does your book fall under?
It’s definitely a fantasy since it involves gods and magic and weird creatures. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by Bob Greenberger on February 12, 2013
Suddenly, it’s February and Farpoint is on the horizon. There’s been so much work done for After Earth and other things it feels like the con snuck up on me.
But, the fun show is celebrating its 20th Anniversary and fellow author Phil Giunta has assembled a stellar lineup of writers for a packed track of programming. He’s certainly keeping me busy. For those attending, or thinking of joining us, here’s where you can find me when I am not manning the Crazy 8 Press table:
10PM: Book Fair (Con Suite)
All the authors will be on hand to sign and sell books, shake hands, pose for photos, kiss babies, etc.
10AM: Bob Greenberger (Greenspring)
As usual, I’ll be chatting about what’s new with me (including some news) and showing movie trailers, with Glenn Hauman.
1PM: Crazy 8 Press (Dulaney 2)
We’re at the 1.5 year point and Aaron Rosenberg, Glenn Hauman, and Mike Friedman will join me as we talk about what we’ve learned, and more importantly, what’s coming next.
2PM-4PM: All Kinds of Writing Workshop with Howie (Parlor)
Howard Weinstein has been wrangling this event for years now and it’s always well attended and informative. It’ll be Howie, Kelly Meding, Dave Galanter, and yours truly.
4PM: Time Management for Writers (Dulaney 2)
I will be imparting some wisdom alongside Phil Giunta and Nobilis Reed.
10AM: The Bob & Howie Show
Howard Weinstein and I will be chatting and arguing about what’s good on television, the merits of baseball, politics, and the usual assortment of banter.
11AM: The Business of Being a Writer (Dulaney 2)
For those who think it’s all fame and fortune, here’s an hour devoted to the nitty gritty of actually making sure your income is allocated for taxes and covering other expenses. Aaron Rosenberg, Donna Galanti, Bob Jeschonek, and I will argue for your pleasure.
1PM: After Earth (Dulaney 2)
While Peter is home recuperating, Mike Friedman and I will be chatting about this June’s big film with Will Smith and Jaden Smith, emphasizing the bible work we did which led to the current fiction available for your reading pleasure.
2PM: Music to Write By (Dulaney 2)
Most of us have music libraries built specifically to put us in the mood for writing. Here, David Mack (who inspired this panel), Lance Woods, Richard White, Kate Mason, and I talk about what works for us, what doesn’t, and share our favorites.
Meantime, there’s Kate signing with the Boogie Knights at 11 a.m. Saturday and throughout the weekend, opportunities to purchase really cool things at auction, raising money for Peter David’s medical expenses. Check the website for details.
Posted by Bob Greenberger on February 6, 2013
Next week at Farpoint I will be doing a series of panels and workshops on being a writer. As a result, I’ve been giving the subject a fair amount of thought of late so I can sound like I know something useful. This morning, I came across a top ten list from Debbie Millman, a designer who doubles as an executive at Sterling Brands, who recently shared it with the Graphic Artists Guild New York Chapter. In looking it over, I realize this applies to all creators, writers included. You will look at the list and nod a lot, saying to yourself, “I know all this.”
Of course, there’s a difference between knowing this and putting it into practice.
Ten Things I Wish I Knew Sooner Rather Than Later
- If you are not making mistakes, you’re not taking enough risks.
- Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time.
- Work very, very hard.
- Ask for opportunities.
- Finish what you start.
- Say yes to almost everything.
- Busy is a decision.
- Don’t censor your dreams before you actually dream.
- In order to strive for a remarkable life, you have to decide you want one.
- It’s only a failure if you accept defeat.
I’ve certainly made my share of mistakes, both on staff and as a writer. I ghosted one of the Time Station Berlin books that Ace put out a million years ago and at the time, I tried a political thriller and while I researched the players in the era, I neglected to complete the task and really research the locale, Berlin, Germany. As it happens, I am currently working on a story also set in Germany and have learned the lesson.
I still have a YA fantasy partially written that pushes me in new directions and is certainly something risky and new for me.
Whenever I surface at the completion of a job, I tend to make a round of contacts, mostly to people I’ve worked with in the past and have remained on friendly terms. While it has not always led to new work, it certainly keeps me on their mind.
I can only think of one time in the last 20 years where I said no to an assignment because the deadline overlapped with an existing work and I was told it couldn’t move. As it turns out, I wound up ghosting two chapters for the book anyway. So, you never know.
I’ve written previously about how I never let defeat slow me down but I can’t say I’ve set out for a remarkable life. Instead, I have built a life and family that sustain me, freeing me to write which in turn lets me work hard, productively using my time.
Give that list a hard look and see how often you address these points.
Posted by Bob Greenberger on February 4, 2013
Much was made during the Super Bowl and in this morning’s write-ups that the cluster of advertisements was lackluster. They were made predominantly for males, ignoring the demographics that showed the significant number of women who also watch this particular game. Others noted that they felt old school and traditional, the majority portraying nuclear families as if the last few decades of demographic shifting has not happened.
Some studios went all in with their films, notably Disney with The Lone Ranger, Iron Man 3, and Oz the Great and Powerful. Other studios, Warner Bros and Sony among them, stayed away from the expensive (roughly $3.8 million a slot) territory.
When Volkswagen teased their Darth Vader ad in advance a few years ago, it created the buzz days before the game and since then we’ve been seeing the ads prior to the game or, worse, teaser ads for the ads so we are no longer generally shocked and surprised. As a result, the biggest surprises last night might well have been Beyoncé actually singing live and her being outshone by Alicia Keys.
Another interesting trend emerged during the blackout. While my geek pals filled the feed with comments about Bane or the clever product placement from Star Trek Into Darkness, I noted that smart and savvy social media staffers were alertly pimping their wares, making far better use of the interruption than CBS. Instead, they reran a block of ads fearing their customers would be annoyed of the audience’s distraction and then their on-air crew fumbled the opportunity to say anything of substance.
PBS cheekily posted, “This might be a good time to think about alternative programming. #SuperBowlBlackOut #WeHaveDownton”; while Nabisco tweeted, “Power out? No problem. You can still dunk in the dark.” Personally, I loved Major League Baseball chiming in with, “We thought we’d take this brief pause to remind you pitchers and catchers report in 8 days.”
An article in Forbes today also remarked that some companies were snarkily tweeting about their competitors right after their ads ran. We’re definitely in a new world of marketing and social media outreach. Now, if only Madison Avenue were to wise up and get a little smarter with the people seen in the ads.
Personally, the ads I enjoyed the most were the Steve Wonder Bud bits, Sketchers, and, Cars.com; the Ram ad was a great tribute to farmers and Willem Dafoe as the devil was great fun. Kaley Cuoco was the star of the night given her amusing work in the Priceline and Rav 4 ads, actually beating out Amy Poehler’s hilarious Best Buy spot.
The Tide ad that got a lot of commentary didn’t do anything for me. I also liked the teen empowerment ad on the surface, until Laura Ann Gilman reminded me that would constitute sexual assault and should not be encouraged. Point to her.
Posted by Bob Greenberger on February 3, 2013
Yesterday, Mike Friedman, Steve Saffel and I were at Chez David, helping Kathleen ready the house for Peter’s return next weekend. Glenn Hauman got a lot done the day before and we completed the assigned tasks and tidied up a bit more. Meantime, the bills are starting to arrive as are ways to help the Davids raise money to keep things as steady as possible.
We have two fundraisers that are going at this point.
One is being spearheaded by Ariel.
From the Desk of Ariel L. David:
First of all I just wanted to thank everyone for their support. You do not know what a big impact it has made both emotionally and physically. It is always wonderful to hear that someone has bought a book or left a nice message. It brings smiles and hope to my family. Second, as many of you know I’m planning to do an auction to try to raise money for the medical bills. I wanted to ask for donations of items and such for us to auction. If you have anything please email me at help4PAD@gmail.com. We are planning an auction at the convention Farpoint Valentine’s weekend. Also once I have enough items I will be working with Glenn Hauman to set up an online auction as well.
Ariel has in her possession a ton of autographed material from Bill Mumy and Harlan Ellison among others. A detailed list will be posted soon.
The other is being spearheaded by JK Woodward who has been the Fallen Angel artist since it moved from DC to IDW
Here is the information that JK sent me for the Art Auction in Development and the Art Auction in Progress. JK notes, “And I’ll be announcing the auction which goes live on 2/13/13 on my blog
I’ll also be announcing any further developments and new artist there as well.”
Posted by Bob Greenberger on February 1, 2013
I’m not sure I’ll recognize Major League Baseball when Opening Day arrives. First of all, they’re still starting the season in March rather than the first Monday in April. They’ve ignored tradition and no longer allow the Cincinnati Reds the privilege of being the first game of the season.
Now, thanks to the moronic decision to allow the Houston Astros to move to the American League, we will have an interleague game every day of the season. As a result, their dilution is complete and there will be little excitement except for the crosstown rivalries, and they’ve even cut back on those.
At a recent owners’ meeting there was a rule change, eliminating one of the last vestiges of old time fun baseball, the fake to third, throw to first move. According to this story in The New York Times, it was done in the name of speeding up the game. I still question why people feel the need to speed up the game when a 60 minute football game takes over three hours to play and no one tries to speed them up. (You’d think with 56 guys on a team, they’d be hustling on and off to keep the action moving but no such luck.)
This pickoff move, which admittedly works only rarely, is done to hold the runner on first, impeding the chances of a stolen base. This tool in the pitcher’s arsenal is now gone, and should he try it, will be called on for a balk (a tough enough rule to comprehend before adding this new wrinkle).
I strongly question why Commissioner Bud Selig is allowing the game to be altered to the point where a lot of the fun, joy, and excitement are being drained away. As it stands, I think the only thing separating the two leagues is the “experimental” Designated Hitter. I’ve long felt that too should be jettisoned to keep the game purer and let the owners get their money’s worth from the pitches by letting them hit two-three times a game. No doubt the Players Union would vehemently object should that happen.
With two weeks to go before pitchers and catchers report, I am trying to muster excitement for my New York Mets, which remains cash-strapped years after the Wilpons allowed Bernie Madoff to steal their money. Without significant moves to improve the team for 2013, they went ahead and raised ticket prices, which is a way of them asking me to stay home and watch the games on cable.
If I really want to enjoy the game, I will have to get more competitive in my fantasy league, hoping my Final Frontiersmen can climb out of the basement this season.