Archive for the 'Sports'

Champions and Trolls



Josh Getzler

I's Tuesday night, and I'm waiting for my 10 year old daughter to finish her homework so we can watch the NCAA women's basketball championship game between UConn and Notre Dame. Both teams are undefeated, having gone a combined 68-0 this year. Neither team has lost in more a calendar year--and each team's last loss was to the other.  The players don't like each other much. The coaches don't either. It stands to be a brilliant game.

So as I was sitting around waiting to start watching, I decided to check my Twitter feed.

And now I'm depressed. Here's what the responses are to ESPN's tweet of

SportsCenterVerified account‏@SportsCenter

Both UConn and Notre Dame have not lost in more than a calendar year (!!). And each team's last loss was to the other. Talk about a RIVALRY.

 

 Here are the respoonses:

  1. Zack ‏@ZTennenhouse  33m

@SportsCenter lebrons a pussy tho.

  1. Stefani Ciccone ‏@c0ckeater  33m

@SportsCenter i send NUDES to my new FOLLOWERS FAV if you want them

Details

  1. Connor ‏@McCartyConnor  33m

@SportsCenter who cares honestly?

  1. FrenchFry ‏@TweetGamePretty  32m

@SportsCenter nobody cares about womens basketball

  1. iHu$$le ‏@iTrue_6lu3  32m

@SportsCenter Sound fraud but it's not

  1. ⚾️ Tanner ⚾️ ‏@TannerMoore30  32m

@SportsCenter yet again, a cooking and cleaning national championship needs to be on HGTV, not ESPN

  1. Amr Korayem ‏@amr_korayem  32m

@SportsCenter no one gives a fuk

  1. Bastel Nooristany ‏@NBastel  32m

@SportsCenter just stop

Details

  1. Jakobee ‏@UojiKehara  32m

@SportsCenter Too bad IDGAF

  1. Bigg Poppa ‏@TheRealBIGBrown  32m

@SportsCenter that's crazy shit

  1. Kyle Levier ‏@OneManArmy_10  32m

@SportsCenter It's women's basketball. #Joke

  1. Jordan Handy ‏@kidd_culi  32m

@SportsCenter Who watches women's basketball? 100 people?

  1. Matt Ashton ‏@MbAshton  32m

@SportsCenter ya you would think, but it's not cuz it's women's basketball

 

That’s the first THIRTEEN responses. And it starts young (my daughter’s friends scorn her Liberty tickets from FIFTH grade, even though she can take most of them in a game of 1 on 1.) Just pathetic.

 

And then I think about the terrific lunch I had today with a young editor—a guy—who’s building a list. He was talking about the frustration he feels when he receives “guy books” because he’s the new young male editor, despite the fact that he is uninterested in pigeonholing himself as the bro-diter (not his term, but it works). I talked about the fact that I say over and over that I am looking for badass women and strong girls and historical fiction, but it’s taken a long time for that to stick.

 

Fundamentally, we live in a gendered society with particular expectations and assumptions about us. That’s nothing new. But there are times that I sit in my apartment in Manhattan, with my highly empowered daughters and my son who’s as likely to wear his Liberty shirt to school as his Punisher hoodie, and I forget what a long, long way we have to go. And unfortunately, all I need to do is look at Twitter before arguably the best athletic contest—men or women—of the year, and I’m reminded of the distance we need to bridge before we can just look at each other as people, with talent and skill and game. I think the game is about to start. And I hope Jakobee and Bigg Poppa give it a try. 

Somebody Get Me Mel Brooks’s Phone Number!

Jeff Cohen

You never know who may be listening to you--Paul McCartney, "Take It Away"

How about those Academy Awards, huh? Were you shocked? I was stunned.

I'm lying. I wrote this a week before the Oscars. Hey. Life gets in the way sometimes.

Still, thinking about the glamor and silliness of Hollywood--and the best thing about the Academy Awards is how silly they are--got me to wondering. My writing has certainly not made me a household name, and I'm perfectly fine with that. But if I'm being accurate (to the best of my knowledge), my books have, in the past few years especially, sold conservatively in the tens of thousands, and that's probably an underestimate. 

So after a while you start thinking that maybe one or two of those mass market paperbacks has made it into the hands of a famous person. 

It's sort of a cool thought. Who might be a fan of the Haunted Guesthouse series? There's no way of knowing, really, unless said celebrity were to reach out and communicate with the author (that's me). And so far, they haven't, with one exception, who was a friend before the series started and has blurbed a couple of the books.

Erin posted a while back about the impression an author leaves when making public his/her thoughts about politics or some other sensitive topic. The flip side of that is wondering whether someone whose positions I support might be reading my work.

Or what if it's someone with whom I disagree vehemently? What would that say about my novel?

So in order to prevent myself considerable embarrassment (after this display of undigestible hubris), I've decided to provide a list of celebrities whom I hope are or will be fans of my work. Because you never know.

My Hoped-For Famous Fans

  • Mel Brooks: Always at the top of my list, unless Harpo Marx is resurrected. If someone knows how I can get Mel a copy of any of my books, don't hesitate to get in touch;
  • Jon Stewart: The smartest comedian at work for the past 15 years. Can take an incredibly obvious joke and still make it hilarious. I don't even care if he likes the book; I just want him to read one;
  • Queen Latifah: Hey, a fellow alum of 8096523-standardFrank H. Morrell High School and multitalented performer. Jersey girl with attitude, someone I'd be proud to have as a reader;
  • Ringo Starr: The People's Beatle and funniest of the bunch;
  • Steven Spielberg: Let's face it--if he were a loyal reader, Josh and I would have heard from him by now;
  • Derek Jeter: Not only an unparalleled athlete entering his final campaign, but an aspiring publisher--someone get this man a book!
  • Bette Midler: Because she's damn funny;
  • Craig Ferguson: Doing the funniest, most subversive talk show on the air, and a fan of crime fiction who books authors on his show. Yeah, you could do worse;
  • Neil DeGrasse Tyson: Simply the coolest guy in any room he enters. A superstar astrophysicist? You know if Dr. T. likes your work, you must be smart;
  • Bill Murray: I'm not sure why, because I don't think he'd like my work, but I want to hope he would;
  • George Clooney: This generation's attempt at Cary Grant, falling a little short but way closer than most of us get. Smart, talented, committed; what's not to like?
  • Tina Fey: She's really funny, and if she publicly said she liked my books, my wife would be impressed with me for the first time this millennium;
  • Gene Wilder: The best comic actor of the past 50 years, and an author in his own write.

To be fair, of course (or even not to be fair), it's probably right to list a few celebs who, if they are fans of my work, I'd appreciate keeping it to themselves:

Thanks-But-No-Thanks List

  • Ted Nugent: Yeah, and his music is lousy, too:
  • Mel Gibson: I hold a grudge. Move on;
  • Rush Limbaugh: You shouldn't have to ask why;
  • The Duck Dynasty Guy: I'm almost ashamed to have a beard because of you;
  • The Boston Red Sox: Nothing personal. It's a religious thing;
  • Alec Baldwin: Luckily, he's getting out of public life, so that will never become an issue;
  • Vladimir Putin: Keep your shirt on, Vlad. I didn't watch your Olympics, either, so we're even;
  • John Travolta: If he can't get my name right, he's not going to be much help anyway; *
  • Justin Bieber: Get help, man--or just get better advice, and listen to it;
  • Isabel Allende: You know why.

For the record: I doubt any of these people has ever been in the same room with one of my books, but this is a fantasy league sort of thing, where you get to choose the names and assume they'll go along with you--or not. So that's my list. What's yours?

 

P.S. Recently the world of comedy has lost its grandfather and its funny uncle. Rest in peace, Sid Caesar and Harold Ramis. It doesn't matter how old you were; either way, it was much too soon. This is a world that can't afford to lose the laughs.

*Added after the Oscars

Leverage, or Lack Thereof: A Tale of Minor League Baseball

Josh Getzler

 

I was talking with my fabulous assistant Danielle this afternoon (it’s her one-year anniversary today, so congratulate her on social media!), and we were discussing the way we negotiate contracts. It came up that often, particularly when only one publisher has been looking at a book, we negotiate from a position of weakness, and often can’t retain rights or control the level of the advance we get for the particular project. I decided to tell her my favorite negotiation story, which would have been genius if it hadn’t happened to me, and it explains the value of leverage.

 

The story has to do with when, in my Past Life, I was working on moving the minor league baseball team I’d owned from upstate New York down to Staten Island. We had to make a deal with the Yankees in order for them to approve the move, and the cost to us was almost half the franchise. We talked with Hal Steinbrenner, then not quite 30 and still learning the trade from his still-very-active father, The Boss, and he asked my father and me to come up with a price that would be fair, but, as he put it “not market value.” (There was no way to negotiate with anyone else, as the Yankees controlled the territory of Staten Island exclusively. And they didn’t really care whether they moved our team to Staten Island or some other, which they could potentially control as well. So they held all the cards in the negotiation, and knew it.)

 

My father and I worked for two weeks on an appropriate number to ask for, running every number we could think of. Then cutting it in half. Finally, the day arrived for the phone call.

 

Understand, the Alex Duffy Fairgrounds in Watertown, New York, does not contain luxurious Executive Offices. Our space was a cinderblock room near the parking lot, approximately eight feet wide by 15 feet long. Our general manager and I each had a desk in it, and he chain-smoked. It was a pleasure, particularly in the middle of winter, when opening a door for ventilation would result in immediate frostbite. That day, however, it was approximately a million degrees, with my wife and both parents cramming into the office with the GM and me. A swarm of flies left over from the previous week’s Jefferson County Fair joined us, still hanging out because it wasn’t crowded enough. The phone rang and it was Hal.

 

There were no pleasantries.

 

“So, what’s the word?”

 

I took a breath, gave a short explanation, and named the number my father and I had massaged for two weeks. There wasn’t even a pause.

 

“You don’t want me to take that number to George.”

 

It was masterful. I could have said a million dollars or a buck and a half, and the answer would have been the same: “You don’t want me to take that to George.” Apparently, I turned extremely white. I asked him to hold, put my hand over the phone, and said “He says we don’t want to him to take that to George.”

 

As my father said “Ask him what he wants,” our GM spoke for the only time during the meeting.

 

“Get Yankee tickets. Behind the dugout.”

 

Which is how I sold half my team for a fraction of its value, but watched the New York Yankees win three World Series from two rows behind Mayor Giuliani.

 

Leverage.

Talent

Josh Getzler

 

 

Over the last several weeks, I've felt like I've been on some kind of nostalgia tour. I went to Mariano Rivera's retirement game at Yankee Stadium, where all the of players I lived and died with (and some of whom played for me in my Previous Life in Baseball) came on the field and honored Mo. The next week we went to see Mike Piazza inducted into the Mets' hall of fame (where among the old-timers honoring Piazza was Bud Harrelson, the shortstop from 40 years ago whose replica jersey was the first I ever wore--and which I got in exchange for giving up my Blanket...). This evening my wife and I saw Steely Dan play songs from junior high; tomorrow we're seeing Sting; and Thursday, Rodriguez (from Searching for Sugar Man), whose 1970 album became a thoroughly improbable hit in South Africa and whose career was resurrected in 2011.

 

Besides being our entire entertainment budget for the second six months of 2013, these events tell me something I think of when I hear of a new gimmick in books or music or art. Ultimately, and overwhelmingly often, talent will out. Mariano's cutter was his one pitch (basically--don't quibble, Cohen), which he threw over and over. Steely Dan played 40 year old songs and messed with them enough that they were fresh but still recognizable. They were jazz; ephemeral and improvisational, where Mo was relentless and repetitive.

 

And they were both brilliant.  

Boucherball

Jeff Cohen

When next you hear from me (that's a week from today), I will be just back from delightful (for all I know) Albany, NY, where the traveling roadshow known as Bouchercon is stopping this year. 

B'con, as the insiders call it, is a jumble, a blur, a drive-by of a convention, hard to take in all at once. It gathers about sixteen billion people (eight billion of them authors) in one place, adds a bar, and lets things fall where they may. It's always a good time, we get to see many friends we otherwise wouldn't get to spend time with, and the panels are usually a hoot.

It is also physically exhausting, mentally overwhelming, intellectually taxing and worst of all, occurs every year as the pennant races in Mlb-logobaseball are in full swing and every game seems absolutely essential. The one thing I always know I can talk to Lee Child about at Bouchercon is the previous night's Yankee game.

Every year I start the baseball season (I don't play; I'm a short, out-of-shape middle aged man who was never much of an athlete) thinking that I won't get that invested. By Bouchercon, I'm a rabid, mouth-breathing, obsessed lunatic who is smiling and nodding at you, laughing at your jokes, and wondering if tonight's starting pitcher can go more than five innings.

For the record, this year I will participate on a panel at 3:10 on Friday afternoon. It's called "Light as a Breeze--How Far Can You Go and Still Be a Cozy," and luckily will include Laura Bradford, Liz Mugavero, Katherine Hall Page, Rebecca Tope and our indispensible moderator Donna Andrews in addition to me (under the Copperman banner). I say "luckily" because I haven't a clue how far you can go and still be a cozy. I've never actually been a cozy. I'm more of a rumpled.

I really do hope you'll drop by to see the panel (if you're in Albany at Bouchercon--just flying in for that one panel would be a grand gesture, but a little odd). The best part of any convention is meeting readers and seeing other authors. If you see me and I looked overwhelmed, please come over and say hello. In a gathering that big, it's nice to be recognized. If I look distracted, it's because I'm not sure who's starting at third base tonight.

A couple of quick commercial announcements: First, October 1 is a mere 15 days away. On that date, Spook coverAN OPEN SPOOK, the latest eSpecial novella in the Haunted Guesthouse series, will become available to your Nook, your Kindle, and your whatever the heck else you read books on that doesn't require paper. It's a fun story--I rush to point out that it's a NOVELLA (because some reviewers seemed upset the last one was not novel-length)--told from the point of view of Alison Kerby's mother Loretta and involving a missing POW bracelet and the POW, now a ghost, who wants it back. During Hurricane Sandy.

And only 36 days after that (November 5, for you calendar fans) will come the next honest-to-goodness Haunted Guesthouse novel, THE THRILL OF THE HAUNT, in which Alison has to investigate the murder of a local homeless man and a man who may be cheating on his wife (who wants to use the evidence as leverage for the rest of their lives). By the way, AN OPEN SPOOK includes a sneak preview of THE THRILL OF THE HAUNT.

But we had another piece of news to announce a few days ago: Thanks to Josh G's herculean efforts, COOLER HEADS, the first in the Questions Answered mystery series, about a man with Asperger's Syndrome who starts a business answering people's questions, is coming from me and my CLOSE PERSONAL FRIEND E.J. Copperman (both our names will be on the cover) from Midnight Ink! It'll be the first of at least three books involving Samuel Hoenig and his associate Janet Washburn and believe me, you'll be getting more information as it develops. 

Whew! That was a lot of self-promotion all for one week. And I've got to drive to Albany on Thursday! See you on the other side!