Friday, June 29, 2007

I'm Close...

...too bad close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

After not being able to locate Scanner Dude last Sunday (a bad day), I found out he'd been working on my scans and had a stack for me on Monday (a good day). So, I'm frantically going through them, cloning out any remaining bits of dust and retarded pixels, and placing them into the Quark layouts so Scanner Dude can do a few test proofs. I wasn't holding out much hope for some of the color - especially Marc Bolan - because they didn't look that great on my monitor. But Scanner Dude said they looked good on his and they would proof well. Okay.

Got them back on Tuesday (a bad day) and the black and whites looked great, while the color sucked ass, just as I thought they would. Scanner Dude couldn't figure it out. Maybe it's your slides...after all, they are kinda old. "Well," I respond, "they look just fine on my inexpensive Epson flatbed so I don't see why you can't get them to look great on your ultraexpensive drum scanner." Not one to back down from a challenge, Scanner Dude says not to worry, he's going to figure it out.

Also on Tuesday, or maybe it was Wednesday (making it two bad days in a row) - yes, it was Wednesday, Scanner Dude sends over more scans, including re-dos of my troublesome Keith Knudsen color shots. Guess what? They suck ass, even worse than Marc Bolan. I call Scanner Dude and tell him. He doesn't know why they suck on my monitor because, again, they look fine on his. I told him I put his scan next my scan and his is so bad, I might have to use mine if he can't fix it.

Here's a portion of his and mine so you understand what I'm talking about:

Scanner Dude's scan

My scan

So, I email him my scan and let him know he's a loser if he can't at least make his as good as mine, and it better be better.

I also decide on Wednesday (let's call it Black Wednesday) it's time to call the Printer Dudette and let her know that I'm not going to be there with my files on Monday as I had planned. Although it's not the end of the world, and it probably won't delay the delivery of the book (October '07, folks) the call was really tough to make because in all my years of advertising this is the first time I have missed a deadline. And that pisses me off. Not to mention having to redo the placement of the scans over and over again.

On Thursday Scanner Dude calls and says he figured it out and that he ran a test proof of the Keith Knudsen photo to prove it. He came running over with that and more scans last night. He was right - the new scan looked good, even though the color hadn't been balanced yet. What had gone wrong, you ask? The monitor he had been working on had a calibration problem, so when he put the scans on it they looked too hot - cartoony, he said - and he balanced them until they looked right...on his monitor. Aaarrrggghhh! Guess I've been overworking him.

Now, we are more or less back on track and I'm being over-optimistic in setting a new lofty goal-slash-deadline of Thursday. I really shouldn't write that down because chances are I won't make that one either. There's so much time-consuming work left to do. For example, I'm utilizing a lot of film strips in the design so I can present more photos without the layout looking yearbookish. But when Scanner Dude spins the strips, since they're negs the image has to invert, making the sprockets black. Which means I have to retouch them back to white and also clone out the lubricant they use that coagulates on the edges of the strip. For a five frame strip, it take an hour plus change.


And to add to the pile, I re-read one of the text bits and it sucked - I'm not telling which one because I don't want anyone searching it out to see if it still sucks - now I have one more reader going through all the text and being brutally honest with his 'suck meter' as well as catching more typos that three of us missed. So, I have a little rewriting to do, not to mention I still have finished the last two musicians and the last two dedications.

I think it's time to start a betting pool and see if somebody can nail the date and time I'm ready to go to the printers - meaning when the last approved proof is spit out of Scanner Dude's proof printer. Think of it like a baby pool. And the winner (closest to the date and time) gets a free book (FOB Los Angeles - meaning you have to pay the postage if you live outside of L.A.).

I had no intention of turning this post into a contest, but what the heck. And there's no way I can put the fix in, because I don't have a clue when this baby is going to be delivered. Although I can say I'm getting tired of being pregnant, so a scheduled C-section isn't out of the question.

Place your guess in the comments section of this post. No need to divulge your contact info...I will announce the winner when it happens and the winner can email me. One entry per person by noon on July 4th. In the meantime, I will not update my progress, so there will be no point to waiting until the last minute to enter. As a matter of fact, your best guess might be taken by someone else if you don't enter early.

Good luck!

Monday, June 25, 2007

My Bad

Turns out scanner guy was at his shop yesterday and worked until 4 this morning. He didn't hear the phone when I called because the ringer was turned down and he was wondering why he hadn't heard from me.

So he stopped by this morning with the remainder of the color scans and a bunch of black and whites. I put Marc Bolan's section together since his color shots are the most troublesome for me at the moment and scanner guy will output a proof for me tonight. The Bolan black and whites kick ass. The color shots are great shots, but I have to see how the scans proof to see what adjustments need to be made to the color.

Once I see the Marc Bolan section proofed, I will know what adjustments are needed on the rest of the scans and can move full steam ahead on the rest. (She said, optimistically.) I only have two musicians left to write about and four dedications. Trying to finish them all by end of day tomorrow. May need to pull an all-nighter tonight just to get a grip on the enormous amount of work left to do.

Despite all my complaining, let me say... I am having a great time doing this book. It is incredibly rewarding every single day and I can't wait for people to see it.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

One Week

That's it. That's all the time I have left. We're talking wing and a prayer here, folks.

I have two musicians left to write about and still need to finish up the five dedications. That's not so much. I can definitely see the light at the end of that tunnel. My big problem is that I haven't placed the high res scans yet...well, maybe I've done 10% of them. I was going to work on it at my scanner guy's place yesterday afternoon and all day today. 'Cept he's gone AWOL. I've called him at least ten times today but nobody was there.

So, tomorrow I am going to show up at the place - it's a workday so there will be people there - and under the auspices of needing to look at the original slides in order to redo the color corrections that I'm not happy with (which is true, btw), I'm going to park my ass there until he's finished with my job. (I'm afraid to count how few final scans I've received from them). And whatever's not working out, I will rush my originals over to the other scanning place. I've worked with this guy for many years but I'm losing faith in his broken promises, and there's just no more time left to screw around.

I also need to find an attorney to consult and make sure I take care of whatever things in the text need to be cited. I'm mentioning song titles in the text and have yet to receive a definitive consensus on whether I need to list credits to the publisher, copyright holder and/or record company. And it's always good to have an attorney look over things before they go to print, just to lessen the chance of getting sued over a misspelled name or something.

Yup, it's definitely a wing and a prayer time.

I'm expecting a few sleepless nights over the next week, but it will be worth getting the book finished. Although, it's a little on the bittersweet side. I'm really getting used to living with my dead rock stars. They're beginning to feel like family.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Do You Believe In Ghosts?

As this blog is my witness, yesterday I was writing the text to go with my Harry Nilsson pictures. It was a tough write because there was a lot to say in very little space, but I finished it. And it started me wondering what really happened to that last album he had finished the vocal tracks on just days before he passed away. I thought about trying to get in touch with my friend who I knew Harry through, but then I was thinking, there's really no time to do that. And besides, I was pretty happy with how the text finally came out. Then last night Harry was in one of my dreams but I've been so tired lately, I'm not remembering the details of my dreams when I wake up. But he was definitely present. I know, I know, it's not uncommon to dream about someone when you've just been focused on them for seven hours.

Today I had appointments with both companies that are doing the scans for the book. While I was driving there I got a phone call from one of my movie clients asking something about a previous job I'd done for her. A couple of seconds into the call she said my voice was garbled. We hung up and she called me back. It was still garbled, even though I could hear her perfectly. Then I got another call and the same thing happened. Okay, I need to get my cell phone fixed.

After all my meetings over the hill, I dropped by Sprint - the store near my house where I knew they had while-you-wait repair service. I go in only to find out they closed the repair counter down because there wasn't enough traffic. They gave me a piece of paper with listings of a bunch of repair places and circled the second one of the list. I don't know why they picked the second one when the first one was as close, or closer.

I drove the 3 miles East on Ventura Blvd and pulled into the parking area that was overflowing with cars from from the local gym, thinking I really need to go to my gym. Fortunately, there was a reserved spot open in front of the cell phone repair shop. (Of course there was...I have a parking fairy, but that's another story). I walk in the shop and notice two guys sitting behind the service counter. The guy on the right asks what he can do for me before I even reach the counter. The other guy was online and talking to a guy leaning on the side of the counter. I tell the guy helping me that the mic is not working on my phone. He asks to see it and immediately informs me that he probably doesn't have the part, but he'll look it up.

How am I doing at dragging this story out? Pretty good, eh?

So, while he's tending to that, the other guy turns to me and asks if I know how to spell the name of the restaurant "Pasche." I gave it a shot - P-a-s-c-h-e - but they didn't think that was right and my guy was ready for me with my prognosis so I turned back to him. He said they didn't have the part and couldn't fix my phone. Shit. But the store in Encino could probably fix it since they were a corporate Sprint, whereas these guys were independent and weren't provided with a lot of older (2 years) parts. I then go out to my car to get my list to confirm with him which store it is.

When I come back in the other guy happily reports that they found the restaurant. It's P-a-c-e. "Oh, Pace," I say. Yeah, but it's called Pashay. Does it have an accent on the e, I ask? He shows me on the screen. Yes. And then calls the restaurant. While my guy is calling the other Sprint place to make sure they have the part, I overhear that last part of the other guy making a reservation. I thought he was doing it for the other customer. I wasn't paying much attention until, out of the corner of my ear, I heard him spell N-i-l-s-s-o-n and say it was for four.

I glanced at him and when he hung up the phone I made some smartass comment like, "So, I'm invited to dinner?" as the spelling of the name sunk in. How odd, I thought, as he joked back, "Sure, dinner's at 7:30." Then I mumbled, "You don't happen to know Harry. do you?" "Excuse me?" "Sorry, I just heard you spell Nilsson. Just wondered if you knew Harry."


"No shit." As I looked at him a little closer. Of course. He looked a lot like him.

"Yup. Harry Nilsson is my dad."

I immediately went into my "Oh my God, you're not going to believe this but I'm doing a book and your dad is in it..." spiel. I don't think he believed me at first, until I started filling in the details with evidence that I did actually know his dad. And then he had lots of questions, as did "whatever happened to the album he was working on when he died?"

He was as freaked out as I was that I had just been writing about Harry yesterday. We talked about a bunch of stuff and I gave him a postcard on the book. We exchanged information and I told him I'd be in touch so he could see the pictures. And that I'd give his family a print when I got them done and then I left...


I mean what are the chances that he'd spell his name on the phone when I happened to be standing there? Hell, what are the chances that Harry Nilsson's son would be behind the counter at a cell phone store I was sent to to get my phone fixed?

Especially since I'd run into the woman who is directing my movie at the scanners earlier in the day. And we had a long talk while she looked at the mock-up of my book. She also had some good news about our movie and we discussed how great things were working out for both of us. I made a comment about how cool it was that things and people were just connecting out of the blue for us and that it was a sign that we were going in the right direction.

So, I'm guessing you think the story is over now, right?

It's not.

I got in my car and as I was leaving the parking lot a song came on the radio.

It was One by Three Dog Night. My all-time favorite Three Dog Night song. They don't play it much on the radio anymore.

Do you know who wrote One?

Harry Nilsson.

And what could be weirder than that?

Someone called my cell phone as soon as I got home. The caller could hear me just fine. Then someone else called. That caller could hear me just fine. And then someone else, and someone else. There's nothing wrong with my phone.

Hi, Harry. Thanks for visiting. Feel free to stop by any time.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Nilsson, Badfinger & Schmilsson

I'm trying to finish writing about Harry - don't know why, but it's hard to organize everything he did and who he was in less than a page.

I also have to finish Badfinger which is very tricky because their story is a convoluted tragedy, making it tricky to condense.

Whenever I mention Badfinger, people seem to have heard of them but can't remember any of their songs. Same thing goes for Mr. Nilsson. And since there are forever intertwined by Without You I thought I'd share these With You.

Harry Nilsson's hit version of Badfinger's Without You:

Badfinger's version of Badfinger's Without You:

And finally, a little Schmilsson that will hopefully put a smile on your face:

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Tick, tick, tick...kaboom!

I feel like I'm in a video tape movie where the time is on fast forward but I'm in real time desperately trying to keep up. I have several more travelblog posts to finish but with my giant looming deadline casting a dark cloud over the sunny California horizon I'm full throttle (make that slow throttle) on finishing Everybody I Shot Is Dead. Sometimes I wonder if I'm stalling because I don't want this experience to end. Once the book is finished, I'm going to miss living with my dead rock stars.

Nah, I'm just a slow writer. I'm four lines away from finishing Keith Knudsen's text. I have yet to complete Frank Zappa, The Beach Boys, Peter Wood, Harry Nilsson, Badfinger, Terry Kath, George Harrison, Maurice Gibb, Tim Buckley, Marc Bolan, Alex Harvey, the five dedications and my story. And I haven't even started the Grateful Dead, Lowell George and John Denver. I also haven't placed all the high res scans, nor have I done the new cover. Yes, I am completely revamping the cover.

I'm assuming my readership would prefer I finish the book before I continue documenting yet another failed sexual exploit and my other excellent New York adventures.

Friday, June 08, 2007

NYC Travelblog #4

Saturday Night...

Friday night I went to the theater. After another long day of blabbing and walking at the expo, Saturday night started with party at a restaurant/bar - somewhere around 59th and Madison - hosted by the company that is printing Everybody I Shot Is Dead. They served drinks and buffet food (the ravioli was killer) and people who worked for their various companies plus authors, clients and other guests. The company contracts printing in China and they also have two publishing companies, including one that does music/art/photography oriented titles.

I spent much of the evening chatting with a girl who lives in the Bay Area and handles books created by the environmental non-profit she works for. Then they did a bunch of patting themselves on the back and honoring the authors of the new books they have coming out this Fall. So, I took the opportunity to meet a couple of other music photographers. One who tagged along with Elvis for a year while he was on his rise to the top and came out with a beautiful book called Elvis at 21: From New York to Memphis. The other was a guy who shot pictures of John and Yoko and has a book called John and Yoko: A New York Love Story coming out this Fall.

As the party was nearing its end, a friend of the girl I befriended showed up and the three of us had a drink at the bar. Her friend used to work for the Grateful Dead so we had some stories to share. Turned out he attended the San Francisco gallery opening we had for my previous book, Starart. The world continues to shrink.

By 10pm I was on my way back to my hotel to prepare for the arrival of Chris Parker. He had a gig in Connecticut, a couple of hours out, so I assumed he'd show up no earlier than midnite. I had spent the whole day sweating it out at the convention center and then went straight to the party after a quick stopover at my hotel and had planned to shower and do my best to transform into something presentable before he showed.

Turns out the maid service didn't clean the room on Saturday so I had to deal with that as well. Then, right when I was about to hop in the shower my cell phone rings. It's Chris Parker and he's three blocks away from my hotel. He'd be in the lobby in ten minutes. Great. Two minutes to recover from the shock, four minutes to faux-tidy the suite and four minutes to wash my face and apply the necessary layers of make-up to disguise my fatigue. Then a race down to the lobby to escort my cute drummer to my boudoir...

Imagine this suite much, much messier. Beds unmade, clothing and suitcases and papers strewn about. And now I've run out of time to blog so I'll have to finish this next time. Which is okay because it really took place in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

NYC Travelblog #3

Day 2 rolled around way too soon. I was already tired when I woke up. I took a cab to the Javitz instead of walking the 3 avenue blocks.

This time I was armed with my list and talked to as many people as I could about my book. I hung out at Google for a personal tutorial on their new Book Search feature. While there my tutor and I became subjects of the official expo photographer. It always pays to pick the cutest guy in the place to teach you (me) the ways of googleland. The photographer must have take twenty shots if he took one. Then I was accosted by a couple of women. Because I was wearing this:

The one girl said,"Where did you get that tee shirt? I have to have it." I had seven shirts made for the trip - some tees, some jerseys - and I got a huge response to them. Also for the title of the book in general. It was fun to overhear people's comments at the booth where my fliers were when they didn't know who I was. Things like, "Everybody I Shot Is Dead...what a great title." And with the shirts even when they had no clue, I'd hear "Did you see that shirt? Everybody I Shot Is Dead. Cool." One of the booths I visited had already heard about the book from some friend of theirs that brought them one of my postcards 'cause they loved the title and the idea.

The girls who were at the Google booth turned out to be freelance writers for the NY Times. I told them about the book and said I'd give them shirts if they wrote about the book. The girl that really wanted my shirt said she'd write about it whether she got a shirt or not.

So, as you can imagine, I'm very happy with the response I continued to receive on Day 2.

Last but not least, here's my Day 2 celebrity photo:

Next installment: Saturday Night.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

NYC Travelblog #2

Um, where was I?

Oh yeah, the first day of the Book Expo. Hot and sweaty. There was no air conditioning on in the building on Thursday when everybody was setting up their booths. They turned it on for Friday but it didn't feel any cooler. Too many bodies.

I arrived shortly after the 9am opening. I put my flyers and postcards on one of the display tables at my printer's booth and started to make my rounds. Oops, I forgot all the pages I tore out of the catalogue with the companies I wanted to see circled. I decided to forego a new catalogue, they're too damn heavy to carry around and toddled off to Amazon. That took about an hour...the meeting, not the toddling. Three different Amazonians checked out the mock-up. All positive responses.

Then it was off to see the major wholesalers. One of the wholesalers won't distribute for publishers that only have one book. After I showed her the mock-up, she said they'd make an exception.

My other stops on my many mile walk included as many exhibitors I could find that had connections to foreign companies that were appropriate for distribution (Canada and the UK) and/or co-editions and translations. None of the end people were there but I was given excellent referrals.

My other stop on Day 1 was the five minutes it took to snap photos of the correctly identified celebrity (by Brett) LL Cool J.

I was dog-tired by the time I walked the three avenue blocks (much longer than street blocks for those of you unfamiliar with NY) carrying my heavy bag back to the hotel at the end of the day. But not to tired to hike uptown to the Burger Joint at the Parker Meridien (best burgers ever) followed by an evening at the theater to see Wicked (big thanks to Rick for that). Great show. I was especially impressed with the lighting and sets.

Stay tuned for Day 2.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

More Chris Parker

Okay, I'm fucked. I was going to write this earlier and tell you that Chris Parker was coming over after his gig in Connecticut tonight. I figured he'd be here at midnight or whatever, if he came at all. Shit. He just called. He's three blocks away. The maid didn't come today. I just got back from a party. I was going to take a shower. Now I gotta make the bed.


Well there you go. There's going to be another Chris Parker hotel room story.

See ya'.

Friday, June 01, 2007

NYC Travelblog #1

I'm in my fourth hotel room. Started in the usual NY closet with a double bed. Fortunately, the TV was a split screen - the right side of the screen on the left and the left side was on the right. The front desk guy was going to give me a room with two beds but on a smoking floor. When my reaction was 'I'll check and see how bad it smells' he decided to give me another room with a double bed without telling me. When I went back down and told him I had wanted to see the double room he got kind of pissy and said it would be an additional $25. He finally gave me the key and an overling who had been eavedropping him apologized to me and said there was no charge. The room was better but there was no internet.

I decided not to complain, but then I got a call from the guy. He was suddenly sweet as pie and said if I wanted a different room he would change it the following day. Guess the overling had words with him. So, the next day he gave me a suite. A sweet suite. Two beds, a sitting area, a refrigerator and TWO bathrooms. In New York City. For the price of a closet with a double bed. The guy told me the only drawback was no wifi on this floor. But, it turns out there is wifi. Free wifi. In New York City.

This is the tail end of a line of at least 20 cop cars with lights flashing and sirens blaring parading through the streets for no apparent reason. They could have stopped and arrested the rat.

Yesterday I saw a guy on a bicycle get hit. He had a gash on his arm. Saw him again tonight walking on the bike.

I stopped by the convention center yesterday (the show didn't open until this morning) to have my badge scanned and pick up my badge holder because I knew it would look like this today:

The convention center is hot and sweaty. Even inside there are way too many people:

I didn't see Harry but here's his bus:

But I did see this celebrity:

First person to name him doesn't get a prize. Just bragging rights.