Red Belt – The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little

Lottery tickets

Me: It’s 9:15 PM. Would it be crazy for me to run out and buy some lottery tickets?
Her: Do it. You’ve had a great week so far.

Last week, wrapped up several projects that I’ve been working on for months.

Then at 9PM last night, found out that another project I was working on came through AND I got a completely unsolicited five-star Vine Voice Review for The Men Made of Stone saying it was a Damn Good Novel.

For those of you that don’t know, a Vine Voice is an invitation-only accolade from Amazon that is for “the most trusted reviewers on Amazon.”

Between that and the Olympics last night, could barely sleep. Speaking of accolades and people with great weeks, watched as swimmers Dana Vollmer and Brendan Hansen broke two world records.

In my insomnia last night, thought of Sir Roger Bannister, the first person in recorded history to run a four minute mile.

Also thought of pancakes but that’s neither here nor there.

In any case, the thing about Bannister is that he could only train 45 minutes a day because he was studying to be a neurologist – in fact, he’s the author of the book on nervous system diseases.

This other fella named Pedro Valente Jr. is one of ten people on the planet that has a red belt (aka a 9th degree black belt) in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. That’s impressive enough. However, he’s also recognized by the New York Times as one of the top 5 plastic surgeons on the planet.

And, if you’re a long time reader of this blog, you know my idolization of Heady Larmarr who was not only a gorgeous film actress but also an inventor that patented the frequency-hopping technology we use in today’s mobile phones.

These people’re my idols cause they show that one can excel at numerous disparate things. They dispel the myth that one can be the best at only one thing, if anything at all.

It’ll take time, but I think I can be King of two things and Jack of four things. Put another way: The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little and these are people that refused to settle.

Or to quote yet another philosopher named Eminem:

Yo I won’t tell no lie, not a moment goes by
That I don’t pray to the sky, please I’m beggin you God
Please don’t let me be pigeon holed in no regular job
Yo I hope you can hear me homey wherever you are

———-

Lottery tickets

If you haven’t picked up a copy of my book yet, here’s the first ~60 pages of it just to see what you think:

Location: home
Mood: ambitious
Music: got every ingredient, all I need is the courage
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My Experience with Kirkus Indie Book Reviews

Did not have a pleasant experience with Kirkus

For those of you that don’t know, Kirkus Reviews was a book review magazine known for having very harsh reviewers, rarely giving a positive review to anything.

In 2004, they launched a service whereby someone could pay for an honest review. In theory, this sounds great because it fulfills a need; few ebooks by unknown authors are given a chance to be read by a reputable house.

Unfortunately, this didn’t seem to help them enough financially and they announced that they would close at the end of 2009. However, a man from the Indiana Pacers swooped in and saved them so that they were able to continue their business model (as Kirkus Indie Reviews).

That’s the backstory.

A few months back, I wrote this post which I can tell you now was about Kirkus Reviews.

I sent them The Men Made of Stone, because: A real artist ships, otherwise you’re just a nutcase with a notebook. Putting my money where my mouth is, requested a review.

And as I said, I got a scathing review of the first 30 pages of my story. Almost half the review – 102 out of 304 words – is spent talking about a minor character that’s killed on page 24 out of a 296 page book.

The hero of the book is given 13 words in the review and called a “minor character” by the editor. The antagonist wasn’t mentioned at all.

That’s like writing a review of Hamlet and saying it’s about the witty banter between Bernardo and Francisco and some punk kid named Hamlet. With no mention of Claudius.

Put another way, that’s writing a book review on The Godfather and saying that it revolves around Bonasera and Fredo.

And if you don’t know read crime thrillers to know what that means, that’s fine, because neither did the Kirkus reviewer, who called the story “completely unrealistic.”

But just like The Godfather, The Men Made of Stone, while fiction, is a roman a clef; the scenes that the reviewer said could not have happened, actually happened.

In any case, I exchanged emails with the editor and asked him to just refund my money, which he refused to do. He essentially said, “We’re Kirkus, our reviewers are anonymous and you can’t do anything about it.”

After countless emails back and forth, I just opened a complaint with the credit card company, printed up the emails we had, and sent in my side of the story.

After about three months, my credit card company said that after hearing from Kirkus and reading everything, they decided that Kirkus Reviews did not, in fact, provide what they were supposed to provide: an honest review by a qualified reviewer who read my book.

Logan: 1
Kirkus: 0

Now, logic would say I should just pocket my returned funds and keep quiet.

But it was never about the money. It was about the unfairness of it all. I can brook a lot but I can’t put up with bullies. If I didn’t just get a refund, I woulda just gone to court.

Moreover, I believe in my story and my editors. Enough to write this entry.

For those ebook writers that ask, “Is a Kirkus Review worth it?” For me at least, the answer is no.

I’m not saying that this is going to be your experience with Kirkus – but it is my experience. Moreover, my opinion is that in order to make money at that model, you have to churn quantity. Assuming an average reading speed of 250 words a minute, skimming is an attractive option. Since it’s anonymous, all the more so. As I neither get paid nor am anonymous in my reviews, I know of what I speak.

So take this post as you will.

Kirkus Editor: I’d hope you could appreciate the subjective nature of reviews. [If you go to court, you’ll lose].
Me: Your review make it seem as if my book is about a guy named C and a guy named TT. My position is simple – that is not what my book’s about. I’ll take my chances. Thanks.

———-

I did get a positive review on the San Francisco Book Review but more on that next week. Or just read it for yourself:

The Men Made of Stone - Logan Lo
 

Location: getting dressed for work
Mood: vindicated
Music: takes more than what you got to frighten me
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That’s not what I call myself

Me: Have you seen my keys?
Her: (glancing up) They’re right there on the dresser.
Me: What would i do without you?
Her: (looking back down) Probably walk around in circles.

Hoping to catch the new Batman flick.

Was in the tail end of college when Batman: The Animated Series came out. Being the geek I am, still caught most episodes.

One episode stuck in my mind, which was recently alluded to in this article and part of that episode’s below.

What they don’t show you is at the very end of the story (or maybe another episode), Bruce Wayne is asked how he knew that he wasn’t going crazy.

He replies that the voices in his head kept calling him Bruce.

“That’s not what I call myself,” he said.

A man is as he believes. Since I’ve gotten married, what I believe of myself has changed slightly – expanded, mainly. But I still keep who I actually think I am to myself.

I will say, though, that in my head, I think I’m someone.

Just got into the Apple iTunes/iBook Store! So if you have an iPad, iPod, or iPhone, download a copy of The Men Made of Stone.
The Men Made of Stone - Logan Lo Also, another post rant on Friday.

Location: between fast asleep and wide awake
Mood: focused
Music: They call me Adam Yauch, but I’m MCA.
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Why are we so violent?

I’m surprised at how often this blog has entries about some random shooting. Maybe I shouldn’t be.

Won’t be surprised when I read when someone says the shooter wouldn’t hurt a fly.

America has an odd fascination with violence. Statistically speaking, it’s the most violent developed country in the world. There’s something in the grain of our existence where everyone thinks he’s Pacino or DeNiro, ready to die like a hero. Or a villain.

Don’t know why that is.

I love the film Fight Club not because of the violence but despite it; remember thinking that the Hollywood writers of it must never’ve taken a punch in their lives. It warps people’s views of what real violence is like just like it warps the view of what real love is about.

A friend recently said that capitalism sucks and I said that it was the best of a poor lot of choices – what is the alternative?

Also offered that it wasn’t capitalism that sucks but people.

Then again, perhaps there’re more Marian Fishers in the world than we know. One can only hope.

———-

Saw another friend for dinner the other night at a Basque restaurant on the west side of town.

She’s at a crossroad with life. Suppose we’re all at similar points in our lives with regularity. But that’s her story and not mine.

Told her that I wished I could offer her some good advice. She said that it was ok, she just liked talking it through.

I get that.

In fact, I have a whole blog that’s nuthin but that.

Location: America – land of guns and fat people
Mood: dismayed
Music: looks like the road to heaven But it feels like the road to hell
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Stop looking only north

This happened 15 years ago maybe?

Her: Who’s out there that could possibly overtake Yahoo now that AltaVisa, Excite, and Snap are gone?
Me: It’s gonna be someone we never heard of, doing stuff we never thought of, making things we’ve never seen.

There’s a story I’ve told for decades: For thousands of years, the Chinese have been invaded by the north.

  • The Xiongnu (aka Attila the Hun) invaded from the north regularly
  • The Jurchen invaded from the north and controlled China for over a century.
  • The Manchus invaded from the north and controlled China for over three centuries

It goes on.

In any case, they hit on the idea to build a wall. And for the next 1,800 years, they kept an eye on that wall.

Then in 1839, the Opium Wars start – in the south – which led China into the civil wars, WWII, more civil wars, Communism, and now China making Olympic clothing for the US.

My point is that they’d trained themselves to respond automatically to a set stimulus: Blitzkrieg attacks from the north.

But they no idea that they could be attacked – slowly and both militarily and economically – from the south.

By people they’d never heard of, doing stuff they never thought of, with things they’d never seen.

The hardest lesson to learn in wrasslin and in fencing – one I’m still struggling with – is how to stop going for a closed path and see the open paths.

Anywho, tell this story cause I got some interesting news the other day: The guy that made it into that law school just got a pretty good gig somewhere else. He’s super psyched. I remember telling him this story on the phone.

Me: The moral of the story’s this: Stop looking north. You spend all your time and energy looking at this one direction and your threats and opportunities are potentially – and probably – somewhere else completely.
Him: So stop looking north?
Me: Well, stop looking only north.

 

Location: my steamy room
Mood: hot as balls
Music: Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head
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Sleepy Logan and Bachelor Cooking


Last night was particularly rough in terms of the insomnia.

Don’t write much about it any more because if I did, this blog would be one endless post about my not being able to sleep peppered with occasional mentions of rum, wrasslin, fencing, and dropping something. Managed to get about three hours of sleep last night with a client meeting this morning at 9:30.

And I think I’m coming down with something.

When I was younger, used to get a lot done when I couldn’t sleep. Had a separate persona I called Sleepy Logan who did all sortsa stuff for me.

For example, on more than one occasion, I’d wake up and there’d be a pot of chili sitting on my stove and I’d think, “Ah, Sleepy Logan made some chili.” Amongst other things, he’d also learned German, organized my books by colour, and renamed my files to “subject – year.month.day.”

Now I just lie still and hope to catch just a little more sleep.

I’m told it’s the better way to go but on nights like last night, wonder if it’s just not better for Sleepy Logan to visit.

———-

On a somewhat related point, my brother asked me about the old Bachelor Cooking episodes Rain and I did and realized they weren’t up any longer. So I’m reposting episode one. Rain’s probably got a better quality version somewhere.

Partly because of this video, made a concerted effort not to talk so much with my hands.

It’s not been all that successful. Even less so when I get no sleep.

Location: somewhere between kinda awake and kinda asleep
Mood: exhausted
Music: nothing to do waiting for the sun to rise
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It’s only Wednesday but it’s been a good week so far

Her: I’ve changed a lot as I’ve gotten older. Before, I used to procrastinate all the time, now I just want unpleasant things over with as soon as possible.
Me: (laughing) Like marrying me?
Her: Well, that goes without saying.

Was supposed to go to Washington DC again this morning but the trip was cancelled last minute. Just as well, got slammed with more work.

Did have some downtime earlier on in the week so I caught up with Skinny, who just got back from Japan after all these years, PB, and Cain. Was supposed to be a quick get together but, as these things go, turned into a four-pitcher-of-beer night.

No rum just because I’m trying to switch it up, but that’s another story.

The very next day, met up with Johnny who didn’t punch me this time. He was in town to close a major deal in midtown and wanted to take me out for lunch; he showed up in a tee shirt, shorts, and flip-flops.

Me: You’re dressed like a kid!
Him: (shrugging) I’m the boss so I can dress how I want. Also, I’m a kid at heart, Logan.

Ended up a Japanese joint that made fresh soba noodles. When I got back to my desk, found out a client finally sent in a check.

It’s only Wednesday but it’s been pretty good so far.

The fact it’s not 108 degrees in the shade helps, also.

Location: getting ready to get to the bank
Mood: upbeat
Music: take advantage of tonight, cause tomorrow I’m off to do battle
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Honesty and politeness are (very) different things

Me: Do you want me to be honest or polite?
Him: Honest.
Me: If that’s the case, then the truth is that: Unless you make it to an ivy league or top tier one, it just doesn’t pay to go to law school any more.

Hazel asked me to chat with a friend of her’s the other day.

What a lotta people don’t realize is that honesty and politeness are two very different – and usually, opposite – things. Consider some scenarios:

You’re rushing out the door and someone’s walking in.
Honest: If you’re honest with yourself, you’d want to head out first.
Polite: You let the other person in first.

Your friend’s in a play and you think it’s terrible.
Honest: You tell him he should stick to accounting.
Polite: You tell him that he has promise.

As for the conversation I had, it wasn’t the most pleasant one I’ve had in my life. He just got out of a messy marriage, lost his job, and law school was one of the few bright spots in his horizon.

But it was just a bright spot in his mind.

It wasn’t a first, second, or even a third tier law school. Moreover, he was getting zero financial aid. It would be a $150,000, three-year black hole.

Me: I once fought tooth-and-nail to get this company started – after two rejections – so that I could do it with a close family friend. I finally got it and I was so psyched.
Him: And?
Me: Well, the family friend ended up stealing all my scratch and I spent the next three years of my life just to end up at zero. Sometimes you spend all your time fighting for something without realizing what you’re actually fighting for.

Conversations with strangers remind me that I’m barely running close to schedule.

 

Location: in front of spreadsheets
Mood: slightly cooler
Music: If you ask me how I’m doing I would say I’m doing just fine
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You don’t look a day over 100

Her: Are you still eating?
Me: (nodding)
Her: (three hours later) You’ve been eating for hours, stop eating!
Me: (opening bag of chips) Just one more thing…

Adolf Hitler, when informed that the Americans might join the war efforts, scoffed: What is America but beauty queens, millionaires, stupid records, and Hollywood?

By the time it entered the war, US factories built one war plane every five minutes. In other words, Hitler only saw the superficial and not the substantial.

Think that it’s true even now, that people only see the superficial and not the substantial.

A short little story before I stuff my face with burgers and coleslaw with a pretty lady.

Happy B-day to my corner of the world!

Location: home, making cole slaw
Mood: grateful
Music: work and prayers of centuries have brought us to this day
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In defense of lawyers: To do evil things, first kill all the lawyers

There’s this popular quote going around attributed to Will Smith:

Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.

However, that saying’s been around forever (most attribute it to Will Rogers). I personally like the variation that goes: It’s crazy to work at jobs you hate, to buy things you don’t need, to impress those you don’t know.

It’s yet another onea those sayings that people think they know but they don’t know at all; although, unlike these sayings, it has more than just the air of truth.

But there’s this joke that I’m tired of hearing that has only the air of truth:

Him: You know, Shakespeare said, First, kill all the lawyers.
Me: Really, when did he say that?
Him: (thinking) I don’t know.

Shakespeare wrote the line in Henry VI, Part 2. (Part 2 Act 4, scene 2, 71–78)

In it, a fella named Jack Cade is bragging that the world’d be a wonderful place if he were king cause:

  • you could buy seven half-penny loaves for a penny
  • get ten pots of soup for the price of three
  • it would be illegal to drink a small beer

If only the Jack Cade could get people to “worship me as their lord.”

It’s at this point that a villain named Dick the Butcher laughs and says, The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers. To which, Jack Cade goes, Yup, that I mean to do.

Why? Cause that would mean killing the people that ask the questions. Kill the people that protect the little guy.

(“How y’gonna make people sell ten pots of soup for the same price as three pots?” and “Why should you be king?”)

This is true even now: The most dangerous profession in China is a lawyer. It’s why it was such a big deal earlier in spring with the blind dissident, Chen Guangcheng. He was beaten and tortured for trying to make authorities follow their own laws.

Me: So basically, you’re quoting a villain – who’s also a Dick – who’s saying that to be a good and proper dictator, you have to kill the people that think and protect the little guy from empty promises. And the actual line is: The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.

We’ll add this to the list of things that have the air of truth, but no real truth at all.

Of course, only a lawyer like me would parse out every bit of meaning behind a fella trying to say something funny.

Some days, y’just can’t win.

Location: home, eying the AC
Mood: irritated
Music: funny the way it is, if you think about it
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