Thursday, June 25, 2015

This Crazy Little Thing Called Retirement

     It’s a lazy June morning, and I’m sitting at the keyboard... just sittin’ here at the Group W keyboard, trying to produce a piece through free-association because the news offers nothing much to write about...also, so I won’t have to post a dreaded “day off” announcement. So we’ll just have to see how it goes.

     It appears that Mark Steyn doesn’t think much of Bob Dylan. Well, de gustibus non est disputandum, and all that. In my opinion, Dylan should have hung it up some years ago, but I still cherish several of his early recordings, especially Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde On Blonde.

     Come to think of it, there are an awful lot of musicians from four and five decades ago still recording and touring. The great majority of them should hang it up. Why they go on – believe me, I know how hard it is to mount a stage, sing and play for hours, then get on a bus, drive hundreds of miles, and do it again the next day, thirty days in a row – escapes me. Is it for the money? For the adulation? Or perhaps just out of reluctance to accept that their day is done, that they’re not “the happenin’ thing” any longer?

     In recent years I’ve seen just two “oldsters” in concert who really gave the audience value for the money. One was Steve Winwood. The other was Tony Bennett.

     Television, so often described as a “vast wasteland,” has actually improved somewhat in recent years. Part of the reason is the availability of so much programming “on demand.” When a program can be seen days or weeks after its original broadcast (or narrowcast), it tells the producers and ‘casters much more about the value of the program than they would have learned from just the first showing. The results can be striking, especially in the case of a “maverick” production whose ‘casters accepted it “on spec.”

     Granted that the ‘casters were basically forced into offering on-demand access by the explosive success of Webcasters such as Hulu and Netflix. It’s still a positive development...especially since some of us can’t keep our eyes open past about 8:00 PM. Yo, FOX, why not make Megyn Kelly’s program available on demand?

     It’s become painfully obvious to me that having more time available for fiction does not equate to greater productivity. “The Muse” comes and goes as she pleases, unmoved by my pleas. The fifth Realm of Essences novel, working title Statesman, is progressing very slowly indeed...perhaps more slowly than before I retired. I keep turning to other subjects as this recent story and this companion to it demonstrate.

     No, it’s not “writer’s block,” whatever that is. It’s more likely to be an effect of Parkinson’s First Law. One way or the other, it’s frustrating as hell.

     While we’re on the subject of fiction, I’ve only just learned about this foofaurauw:

     So, in the end, we have a company, Tor (and its holding company, Macmillan) that is/are apparently unwilling to take responsibility for the misdeeds of its employees, their misuse of corporate time and resources during those misdeeds, and their deliberate slander, libel and lying about a large part of the fan base upon which that company depends for its livelihood. I think that constitutes an indelibly shameful mark on executives at both companies, and makes them complicit in the actions and statements of their employees....

     Nor are they alone in their dishonor. The so-called 'Social Justice Warriors' or SJW's who've supported the guilty parties for years have been shrill in their screeching support for their heroes and heroines. That's continued in the present crisis. The facts of the situation have been ignored, and those drawing attention to those facts (including yours truly) have become objects of scorn, derision and open attack....

     Regrettably, due to the apparent lack of action by (and the deafening silence from) Tor and Macmillan, the time has come to do as I promised. I therefore ask all those who believe, as I do, that the recent statement by Irene Gallo, and the pattern of behavior and statements from others at Tor whom I've previously named, are completely unacceptable, to join me in refusing to buy any of Tor's products from now on.

     First things first: TOR editor Irene Gallo has indeed committed a shameful, wholly inexcusable slander upon the “Sad Puppies” and the organizers thereof. That is beyond rational dispute. That TOR has not disciplined her sternly – suspending her for a year from her position without pay seems about right – does open the company itself to opprobrium. My question is whether a boycott of TOR books is the best approach, as there will be some innocent victims among the authors of those books.

     As a wholly independent writer, I tend to ignore what goes on in the world of conventional publishing and associated institutions. Indeed, I only learned about the “Sad Puppies” kerfuffle well after it was under way. But I’d be sad to learn that the reprisal for Gallo’s vicious defamations of the “Sad Puppies,” which she had to know were utterly, demonstrably false, had gathered in innocent writers as “collateral damage.” That’s the sort of thing the “social justice warriors” do; let’s not descend to their level.

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