Monday, November 29, 2021

Corporations are people...psychopathic people.

Corporations don't have empathy. Corporations don't allow for human weakness. Corporations will exploit those weaknesses.

Kill Jack Welch. 

Many years ago, probably in the mid-80s, I went through my "young entrepreneur" stage. Most of the advice I read was wrong, but the only way to find out was to try it. Eventually, by trial and error, I learned what worked and what didn't. 

During this phase of my business career, I ran across an interview with Jack Welch. By the end of that interview, I wanted to kill the motherfucker. I'm not sure he was human at all--maybe an alien reptile in a human skin suit. I loathed the man. I mean, I almost never have that reaction to anyone.

And he was the "most admired" businessman in America. An example of his business principles--fire 10% of your employees every year.

Everything was about shareholder value.

Instinctively, I knew this was wrong. I mean, on its face, it was morally and ethically repugnant. But I was pretty certain it was bad for business, too. 

Jack Welch retired with a 417 million dollar exit package, his reputation intact. I saw his reptilian face on the cover of best-selling books. The Cult Of Jack Welch. 

Here's his current reputation from an article today in the Daily Beast about the downfall of Boeing:

"Every attempt to divine how Boeing’s culture went from exemplary to execrable tends to lead to a man who never laid his hands on Boeing, Jack Welch, the infamously bottom-line hatchet man, known as “Neutron Jack” for his ability to vaporize thousands of jobs at General Electric while its CEO from 1981 to 2001 before leaving with a $417 million exit payment. His leadership style, once hailed as a master class in squeezing as much money as possible out of any business, became posthumously toxic. Nonetheless, managers schooled by Welch fanned out to work their magic at other companies deemed in need of it."

It took a long time, but the performance of General Electric after he left has been nothing short of disastrous, and most of that can be laid at Jack Welch's feet. Turns out, short term results don't predict long term success. Who would have thought?  

He died last year. (I didn't do it.)

All those years I hated him when he was considered a success. It's very validating to find that my instincts about him were right from the start.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

My wife is as cute as all get-out. 

She makes me feel good all the time. 

Thank you to whatever deity is responsible. 

I'm a lucky bastard. 

Thursday, November 11, 2021

The 30 year old fantasy addicted Duncan McGeary would be surprised.

Contemplating the short fiction market, with which I am unfamiliar. I never thought of myself as a short story writer, but since the first two stories I took seriously were actually published, and since I'm not yet ready to tackle another novel, maybe I could try a few more times.

Right away, the horror market looks more attractive to me. With SF and fantasy, my impression is that there are trends, that there are certain types of stories they are looking for and other stories the editors are avoiding, based on what's been selling, what's been overdone, and which is new.

Whereas, with horror, I have the feeling that anything goes, as long as it's good. I mean, I would have to tailor the story to the requested perimeters, but the field just seems more open to me.

I had the same impression about the novels when I started. It was more or less random that the first novel I wanted to write was a supernatural Donner Party with werewolves. The people I talked to in the horror field seemed really open to my efforts. Almost by accident, the next story that grabbed me was a vampire story, and then super-intelligent wild pigs on a rampage.

I'd always been a fantasy writer until this streak, but as soon as these stories were accepted--by three different publishers--I decided this was the genre to write.

I figured out that any good story can be turned into a horror novel. For instance, I had an idea for an unstoppable mobster: think Luca Brasi from The Godfather, only one that doesn't sleep with the fishes but keeps on killing.  So I mulled that over, trying to figure how to put in a supernatural element and thought of a Golem. 

Another example. Had an idea of a femme fatale who lured men into camping deep in the woods and then abandoned them to die. Which I turned into a succubus story. And so on.

After that, any idea I came up with had a tinge of horror attached. Even the thrillers I wrote started off that way and only later did I turn them into straight thrillers. 

I'm just not up to date on fantasy and SF. I'd even go so far as to say the my tastes are out of date. I've pretty much disliked most of the award winning books over the last 10 years of so in these fields. Lionized novels that I really didn't care for. 

I'm actually way more up to date on thrillers, since that has been the majority of my reading over the last 20 years of so.

The 30 year old fantasy addicted Duncan McGeary would be surprised.

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Elvis was an accident.

I'm reading "Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock 'n' Roll." 

I'm at the part where Elvis makes an entrance.

The short version is that Elvis had done a couple of acetates for his Mom, but they weren't anything special. But Sam's assistant, a woman named Marion Keisker, really liked the look and sound of Elvis and finally convinced Sam to give him a chance.

Elvis came in to sing some songs, but Sam was unimpressed. 

Marion persisted, so Sam called a couple of his session musicians, Scotty Moore and Bill Black, to spend an evening working on stuff and come in the next day for a recording session. They came in, but after a long session of nothing working, Sam finally called a break.

During the break, Elvis started fooling around, singing a song from a few years before, "That's All Right, Mama," byArthur Crudup. 

Sam poked his head out of the booth and said, "What's that?"

And so a legend is born. 

Thing is, what a random sequence of events! Elvis was trying to sing like everyone else and he ran into the only person in the world that could recognize when he was doing something different. The one person in the world who was soothing and confident enough to show faith in the callow lad.

Once Elvis got a little confidence, he was on his way, but what pops out to me is that Elvis was a fortuitous accident. It so easily might not have happened. 

But, as a writer, the lesson I take out from this is the old William Goldman saying (about Hollywood): "Nobody knows anything."

The early days of recording remind me an awful lot like the current indie writers scene. Back in day, there were regional record producers who would record the local acts and fill the jukeboxes and radio waves. There was a constant stream of musicians coming and taking a stab at it. 

But time after time, songs on the B-side would be the one that really hit. Or a song that was ignored when done by one artist, would be a hit with another artist. 

Sometimes a musician would come in with talent that couldn't be ignored. Howling Wolf and B.B. King were a couple of artists that Sam recorded early on. But most of the time, the cogs in the recording machine were interchangeable.

In the current indie scene there are a lot of writers who are competent, some more talented than others, but trying to get a hit is completely unpredictable. There are writers who are so hungry and persistent that they finally break through--though I have to wonder if there weren't equally hungry and persistent writers who fell by the wayside.

One of the first things I heard when I first started writing was that success in writing depended on "Luck, Timing, and Who You Know."

Everything I've seen since then has only confirmed it.