Translate This Page

NEW: THE MISADVENTURES AUDIOBOOK

CLICK THIS LINK TO GET IT!


WE ALSO HAVE ACTUAL PAGES!

Here's where you can buy the MisAdventures worldwide in both paperback and Kindle editions:


U.S. .............................................France

United Kingdom ...........................Spain

Canada ........................................ Italy

Germany ..................................... Japan

Brazil .......................................... India



Friday, August 26, 2011

FADE IN: LORNE GREENE

Lorne (That Voice!) Greene
We were three disastrous episodes into GL-80 when Lorne Greene - Mr. Bonanza Himself - came calling.

Chris and I were in our back office, bemoaning our fates and cursing the Black Tower in general, and Glen Larson in particular, for not only creating such a sorry ass show, but fouling America's airwaves with it. (Someday, Gentle Reader, scientists will discover that it was on Jan. 27, 1980 at exactly 7 p.m. - when GL80 was first broadcast - that the whole nasty business of Global Warming, Economic Meltdown, and the Tribble-like proliferation of the cellphone was set in motion. In short, the end of Civilization as we knew it.)

Our first sign of his coming was a mighty knock on the main door of the double-wide that served as our headquarters. Then there was a heavy tread of footsteps, a low resonate voice that made the very walls tremble, and the melodious voice of our secretary, Dolly Brown, replying.

Beat, beat - and the phone buzzed. I answered.

Dolly could barely contain her excitement, announcing: "Lorne Greene is here to see you, Allan."

I said to give us a beat, then send him in. Immediately Chris and I scrambled out of the desks in our back office, pushed a bookcase aside and entered our official office. Pushed the bookcase back, and turned in time to greet Lorne (That Voice!) Greene.

(The reason for all the hidden office business was because we had a book overdue - the first novel in the Sten series - and were writing it on the sly. Front office, GL-80 business. Behind the bookcase office, Sten.)

Lorne had to bend his handsome head under the door frame to enter. He blessed us with that fabulous smile of his, shook our hands - his grip was firm, but not overpowering - then lowered himself into a director's chair between our two desks.

"Boys," he said, "it's good to finally get together with you in an informal setting."

Yikes! Another Larson Script
Lorne looked around our office, decorated with a crazy assortment of posters featuring everything from WWII-era "Loose Lips Sink Ships" propaganda, to crazy Big Daddy Roth artwork Chris had scored in his motorcycle and car magazine editor days.

He laughed. "Very informal," he rumbled.

We'd met before, of course. At the start of the show in a get-together with the whole cast and crew, on the set for quick script-doctoring work, and at the commissary during rare group lunches.

After mixing him a drink, we chatted for awhile. We told him a little bit about ourselves and he regaled us with tales of his early career, his days on Bonanza, shooting the mega-hit miniseries Roots, and the delightful time he had doing a syndicated show on nature - Lorne Greene's Last Of The Wild. He even made a few jokes about his time as a spokesman for Alpo.

"I'll was kidded more about that on Johnny Carson, than all the days I spent as Ben Cartwright with three sons by three different very dead wives," he said.

Finally, there a pause. It was time for him to tell us why he was here, other than for the pleasure of our scintillating company.

A troubled look creased his noble brow. Then he sighed and ran a large, muscular hand through the steely locks that glistened on his handsome head.

And he said, in that booming Bonanza voice of his: "Boys, what the fuck are we going to do about this show?"

FREEZE SCENE FOR SOME FANCY BG-TYPE FOOTWORK

It's like this, Gentle Reader: Chris and I and poor Mr. Greene were stuck firmly in the center of a humongous disaster-in-the-making created by the Champion Schlockmeister Of The Universe, Glen Larson.

Now don't get me wrong, it wasn't all the nice Mr. Larson's fault. He was being pulled by devils from every side.

Side one: Avarice. He wanted to make as much money as he could as quickly as he could before they canceled the piece of #$%$# he called a science fiction show.

Side two: There was his artistic side.

Wanna Go To Catalina, Little Girl?
No, really. I mean, after all, this was the guy who as a youthful member of The Four Preps had crafted and made a hit song out of Twenty Six Miles Across The Sea, Santa Catalina For You And Me, Romance, Romance...

Bring a tear to your eye? A hairy blob to the back of your throat?

'Nuff said.

Federal Communications Commission Politics and the loss of the last remaining brain cells of the Suits at ABC (the Anything But Class network) conspired to pay Larson a zillion dollars to produce a sequel to a show that had already failed once. It was to be a Children's Hour Show, overseen by a censor placed high in the network food chain, and scheduled against 60 Minutes, which has always killed any competition set against it.

Immediately, the show began to take on water. Experienced old round heels that he was, Larson panicked for probably the first time in his career. Adding to that panic was the fact that the network – and Universal Studios – was insisting that he not only produce, but do most of the writing.

From everything anyone ever told us, Larson was the most reluctant of writers. He avoided actual writing like the plague. On the other hand, Larson’s genius was imitative. So if he could only free up his mind with whatever inducements the studio and the network might provide, perhaps he could, you know, get his stream-of-conscious pseudo-plagiarism mojo going.

In other words, give him enough money and comforts and he could blast out bullshit forever. To that end, Glen Larson – like Kubla Khan of old – decreed his own pleasure dome.

In other-other words, certain expensive comforts were required if he was going to write his head off and deal with censors, stupid scheduling decisions, and a premise that flat didn't work. We were told that Universal picked up most of his expenses for his home in LA, including entertainment, box seats at sporting events, plus a cool beach condo in Honolulu, where he could shake out his writerly kinks and dictate to a bevy of pretty maids in scanty beach wear. Which he flew back and forth with in the Universal Company Jet from his beach condo in Hawaii to his beach house in Malibu.

Dolly assured us that she knew all the ladies in question and that they all had excellent secretarial skills.

Well, of course they did.

Anyway, that was the (ahem)lay of the land three episodes in when Lorne Green came calling. And so now we'll….

Getting Nothing But Stinker Lines
RESUME SCENE - BACKING UP ONE BEAT FOR REPLAY

Lorne said: "Boys, what the fuck are we going to do about this show?

He let this sink in - right to our very toes - then went on: "The scripts are awful. The directing is awful. The acting is as good as it can be, under the circumstances. But we're getting stinker lines that Lord Lawrence, himself, couldn't rescue from the lavatory."

I flashed on our mentor, Al Godfrey, who'd once told us: "A good actor can make a shitty script better. But it'll still smell like shit."

"There's only one way out," Chris said, “We have to make Glen Larson quit writing.”

Loren’s eyebrows rose to Ponderosa heights as he turned his gaze on me.

I shrugged. “Chris is right,” I said. “Larson has become this non-stop bad writing machine."

He gave a heavy sigh, accepting the drink we made for him. "Don't you have any influence?" he asked. "After all, you're story editors on the show."

Lorne had been around the block a lot more than we had, so he knew the answer before it was asked - which showed you the measure of his frustration. To lighten the mood - or, perhaps to darken it even more - Chris handed Lorne something we had knocked out in our copious non-writing spare time. As it happens, I found a yellowed copy in a Bunch & Cole memorabilia box the other day and here is what we had written:

* * *

GL-80 Story Editors
How To Boil A Story Editor GL-80 Style

Step 1: Like mushrooms, you must keep writers in a dark room and feed them only on horseshit.

Step 2: Before sustenance (the above horseshit) is delivered, a pre-determined number of Glen Larson PAGES must be shoved under the door. Withhold all but one ounce of HS until pages are read.

Step 3: Render pages unto Caesar and render unto Art, Story, Social Consciousness, Drama, Action, Adventure, Plain Common Sense – absolutely nothing.

Step 4: At all costs, avoid allowing the writers to write anything original at all, at all.

* * *

Lorne chuckled, then asked. "Is this true? You're not allowed to write anything of your own?"

"Sure, we can write it," Chris said.

"We've got a two-script guarantee," I added. "Pay or play." Meaning they had to pay us, whether they shot the scripts or not.

"But Glen is never going to actually expose frigging film on them," Chris said. "Not until hell grows icicles, that is."

Lorne sighed, drained his glass, and stood. He laughed a little at the predicament we were all in.

"I'd like to say something like, 'Cheer up, boys, I've seen worse,'" Lorne said.

Chris held up a hand. "Nobody wants to ever hear Ben Cartwright lie," he said.

Another rumble of a laugh. "Did you know," he said, "that there is some kind of story going around that a damned alligator bit my nipple off when I was doing the nature show? A few say it was the right nipple. But, the majority claim it was the left one that got it."

We both looked at him. We'd heard the stories. Well? Was it bullshit, or not?

"I'll never tell," Lorne said.

Then he made his way out of our office, paused long enough to say something gentlemanly to Dolly, and left.

We looked out the window and saw his Teamster driver taking him away in a gleaming limo.

Chris turned to me. "How much bigger do you think this *blivet is fucking going to get, Cole?" (Definition of a blivet. Ten pounds of shit in a five pound bag.)

I said, "My guess would be - a whole lot bigger."

And there was nothing for it but to go make a couple more drinks.

NEXT: MEATBALLS IN SPACE


THE COMPLETE MISADVENTURES: IT'S A BOOK!


THE VITAL LINKS:
The MisAdventures began humbly enough - with about 2,000 readers. When it rose to over 50,000 (we're now knocking at the door of 110,000) I started listening to those of you who urged me to collect the stories into a book. Starting at the beginning, I went back and rewrote the essays, adding new detail and events as they came to mind. This book is the result of that effort. However, I'm mindful of the fact, Gentle Reader, that you also enjoy having these little offerings posted every Friday to put a smile on your face for the weekend. So I'll continue running them until it reaches the final Fade Out. Meanwhile, it would please the heart of this ink-stained wretch - as well as tickle whatever that hard black thing is in my banker's chest - if you bought the book. It will make a great gift, don't you think? And if you'd like a personally autographed copy you can get it directly through my (ahem) Merchant's Link at Amazon.com. Click here. Buy the book and I will sign it and ship it to you. Break a leg!

THE STEN COOKBOOK & KILGOUR JOKEBOOK





Two new companion editions to the international best-selling Sten series. In the first, learn the Emperor's most closely held  cooking secrets. In the other, Sten unleashes his shaggy-dog joke cracking sidekick, Alex Kilgour. Both available as trade paperbacks or in all major e-book flavors. Click here to tickle your funny bone or sizzle your palate.    




EMPIRE DAY 2012 - A COMMEMORATIVE EDITION

Relive the fabulous four-day Stregg-laced celebration.  Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever. New recipes from the Eternal Emperor's kitchen. Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever. Sten's thrill-packed exploits at the Emp's castle. How to make your own Stregg. And, did I mention, Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever?



Friday, August 19, 2011

THE UNSINKABLE DOLLY BROWN


The young lady sitting before us had a starlet-grade smile, legs forever, and the rest of her was just - well… as Chris put it when she left: "If we hire her, Puni's gonna kill me." (Puni, an Air-India stew - was his girlfriend at the time.)

I scanned our prospect's resume. She did possess the requisite secretarial skills - or else she wouldn't have made the cut for Universal Studio's Secretarial Pool; ruled over, it was said, by an Office Manager La Suprema who could give the Wicked Witch of the West lessons in meanness.

On the other hand, her CV was especially Vitae in skills such as acting, singing, dancing and… as I told Chris: "Says here she's an expert with a sword, riding a horse, and is working on her black belt in Akido."

"If we go with her," Chris observed, "after Puni gets through killing me we'll never see the chick again. She'll be too busy hitting the Casting Department up for a part on the show."

In case you hadn't guessed, Chris and I were interviewing for a secretary. Now that we were big time story editors on Galactica 1980, we learned it was not only a perk, but a necessity. Over a week had passed since Peter Thompson had greenmailed us into taking jobs we did not want, on a show we were embarrassed to be associated with, and we still didn't have simple supplies like typing paper to type scripts on, much less typewriters to write them with.

"Got no fucking pencils," Chris warbled, in his worst Hank Williams imitation. "Got no fucking pens. No paper clips. No staples. Feel just like an eggless hen."

"Look on the bright side," I said."We have a brand new set of Encyclopedia Britannica."

Artistic Miracles Galore
This was true. It sat in the place of honor, nestled in a faux cherry-wood bookcase, beneath wide windows that looked out over the Studio Backlot, where busy people - many in costume - dashed here and there, no doubt producing Artistic Miracles for Madison Avenue to stick commercials into every ten or twelve minutes.

"We bought the encyclopedia ourselves," Chris said.

This was also true. In anticipation of our first payday as story editors, we'd decided to treat ourselves to something to help brighten our days of indenture. Chris wanted to get a new Ak47 to blow Peter Thompson and Jeff (The EatAnter) Freilich away for muscling us onto the lot. But, after I pointed out it might be just as hard to get paper and pencils - much less typewriters - in San Quentin, we settled on the Britannica.

Other than our desks and chairs - which were pretty nice, I must admit - it was the only functional object in our huge, empty office. In the alcove outside the office was an empty desk and chair, meant to accommodate our secretary. Several empty filing cabinets. A couple of chairs for people to wait in, if we ever got a secretary who could set up appointments with freelancers so we could make them wait, you sons of bitches, just like you used to make US wait when you were story editors. (A basic rule too frequently ignored in Hollywood: when you are sitting on the money side of the desk, the guys pitching will most likely be in a position like yours not too far down the line. And you will be pitching them.)

Oh, and there was a small office fridge with a nice coffee pot on top. But there was nothing in the fridge. And no coffee for the coffee maker. Jeff said not to bring any of our own, that the Studio would provide us with everything we needed, and that soon as we got a secretary she would order it all. We were so dazed by our Black Tower Press Gang experience, that we just went, "Yeah, yeah," and brought thermoses of coffee from home.

Chris Lost The Names First Toss
Don't get me wrong. We had a super office in the brand new "Producer's Building," just across from the Black Tower. Jeff had seen that his story editors got the very best.

"The fucking problem is," Chris said, "is that there's nothing but producers in the Producer's Building. We're the only writers. And they hate us."

"They don't actually hate us," I said. "They just don't want us in their neighborhood."

"They complained to Jeff," Chris pointed out. "Told him we were too fucking loud."

He had me there. The day before we'd finally been handed something to do. A scene Jeff wanted rewritten, or something. Said he needed it like, the day before yesterday. So, we'd temporarily stolen an IBM Selectric from one of the offices down the hall, along with some paper and pens. Then proceeded to write. Chris at the keyboard, me striding across the room and back, shooting lines of dialogue back and forth.

In Other Words:
 "Shut The #$%$# Up!"
Immediately the complaints came flooding in. Women appearing in the doorway, putting fingers to lips and shushing us. (A couple of guys wanted to do the same, but scuttled away when Chris fixed him with his best Chris Bunch Glare.) Somebody finally shut our door. Then somebody else opened it and shushed us again.

Finally, Jeff's redheaded assistant intervened. "You guys do get pretty loud," she said. "Can't you try and keep it down?"

I shrugged. "Sure, we can try," I said. "But, we get worked up when we write, you know? And when we get worked up we forget everything around us and the volume goes up."

"You are also rather profane," the redhead said - just as nicely as she could.

"We never say anything worse than fuck," Chris said.

She just looked at him. Pretty little foot tap-tap tapping the floor. All red hair and green eyes and a look that just said, "Oh, please!"

"Okay, maybe a mother fucker, now and then," Chris grudged. "And, sure, a pig fucker once in awhile. But that's it. Tops!"

"I hope you aren't putting those in the script," the redhead said. Then she giggled. "Futterman will shit kittens." She covered her mouth, blushing furiously. "I've been around you guys too much," she said.

Then she asked us - please, could we watch our language, and our volume, and could we please return the typewriter and office supplies to Stella down the hall before she called Security?

After she left Chris said, "We've gotta get away from these people, Cole."

"I know, I know," I said mournfully.

We sat in silence for a few minutes. Feeling like Gene Wilder after the unintended successful debut of Springtime For Hitler: No way out. No way out. No way-

Chris said, "The problem is we don't know anything about working on a Studio Lot. It's like we've been drafted in the Army and were just dumped off the bus into Boot Camp and we literally don't know our shit from Shinola."

"What I think you are getting at," I said, "is that we need to find somebody in the know, who is on our side."

The Road To You-Know
Is Paved With Cuties
Chris snapped his fingers. "Damn fucking straight. All they are sending us is one cutie after another. And a Cutie for a secretary we don't need," he said. "What we have to get is a fucking Sergeant Bilko. Somebody who knows where all the bodies are buried. And the supplies are kept. And whose palm to grease, and whose ass to kiss. Most of all, we need somebody who won't fink on us to the bosses."

I said, "Let me call the Redhead. She'll know what to do."

And so that's what I did. Explaining our requirements very carefully. And she put the word out and before long La Suprema herself called us, and said she was sending somebody along who ought to fit the bill.

That very afternoon, the Amazing Dolly Brown showed up at our door. She was a tall, classy-looking woman a few years our senior. Tastefully dressed, with a skirt that fell just below the knees, but not so far as to hide her fabulous dancer's legs. Her CV shone with office skills of all kinds, and like just about everybody else in the Universal Secretarial Pool she had a showbiz background. She was a former dancer, chanteuse and actress, playing mainly B-Movie roles - "I was usually the blonde Gun Moll with the heart of gold," she told us. "The one the hero should hook up with, but goes for the virginal bank teller instead."

We started out by listing our problems and asking if she could help. Beginning with the lack of such basic writerly tools as typewriters.

She nodded at that. "There's always a shortage," she said. "Especially the nice new IBM Selectric 2's. Big waiting list for them. Basically, you have to grab them when a show closes down and they're returned to Central Supply."

"Can you get us a couple?" I asked.

"I can do better than that," she said. "The guy who runs Supply is sweet on me. He's a little jerk with a bad combover and BO, but I flash him a little leg now and then to keep him primed. Inside a week, I can half half-a-dozen typewriters delivered."

"We only need three," I pointed out. "Two for me and Chris and one for you."

Dolly laughed - a big, throaty sound that was a delight to the ears of two depressed writers.

She said, "We need trading stock. With extra typewriters… and some others things I can lay my hands on… we can get everything we need - and more."

This was getting better and better.

Some Shameless Sten Hype
We went on to explain that besides working on the show, that we were under contract to deliver the first in a series of science fiction novels (Sten), and we'd need help with some things we couldn't do while stuck on the lot. 

And there was other personal business as well, that was sure to come up.

Chris said, "Cole and I don't expect you to do any of that on the company's dime. We were thinking, maybe a hundred bucks extra a week - fifty from me and fifty from Cole. How's that sound."

The smile Dolly blessed us with would have put the sun to shame. "Boys," she said, "if the other girls find out about you two, I'll never stand a chance."

"Well, maybe you won't think that if you talk to some of the ladies in this building," I said.

"They think we're too fucking loud," Chris blurted.

Dolly grinned. "Can't be louder than me," she said. "I did a roadshow version of 'Gypsy' and one very nice critic said I could out bellow Ethel Merman."

"They also think we curse too much," I said.

Dolly laughed. "I fucking noticed," she said.

That broke us up - big-time.

When we recovered, Dolly explained further: "My father was career Navy," she said. "I was brought up on Navy bases and became pretty immune to hard language."

"That's great," I said. "We won't offend you. But we're stuck in a neighborhood where we just flat don't belong."

"Can you get us out of here, Dolly?" Chris said, with real feeling.

Dolly thought a minute. Looked around our office. Then nodded.

She said, "Girl I know says her boss hates his office. He's a producer, but they stuck him over by the LA River. How about if I arranged a swap?"

"Done!" Chris said.

"Not so fast," Dolly said. "It won't be in a nice building like this. You'll be getting a big double-wide trailer, stuck along the LA River with, perhaps, two dozen other trailers."

"We know the place," I said. "The Writers' Village."

"That's what they call it," Dolly said. "A whole neighborhood of crazy writers just like you two."

Dolly not only delivered, she did it double time. Before the week was out we were in our new digs in the Writer's Village. Double wide trailer, with a pop out. Paneled offices. Plush chairs. Nice desks. And not six IBM's - but eight of them. Plus all the paper, pens, pencils, staplers, staples, paperclips - you name it, we had enough to stock a stationary store.

We also had not one - but two coffee pots. Plenty of coffee. A fridge stocked with goodies, including a couple of shelves that were magically resupplied with beer, courtesy of the Studio, every morning.

And the neighborhood was terrific. We could yell our lines loud as we pleased. Cuss up a storm. And when stuck on something, wander out and mingle with our fellow writers, usually gathered on the banks of the LA River.

For you non-Angelenos, the LA River is your basic, big clottin' ditch, cemented in on all sides, with a few inches of water running down the center of the cement channel most of the year. (We were somewhere in this morass on the Google Earth Map.)

Back then a whole lot of high speed car chases for both "A" and "B" movies were shot there so if you stepped out your office most hours of the day you'd see stunt cars driving a trillion miles an hour all over the cement throughway. Ron Howard directed one of his first movies there (Grand Theft Auto) when he was just out of "Happy Days." (We met him later on and he said he always knew his freckle-face would keep him from getting roles as an adult, so he started studying directing and the business of filmmaking at an early age.)

We also had parking places right in front of our trailer, instead of the other side of the lot - a distance of a thousand asphalt-hot miles. Across the river were the fences that marked the Bob Hope Golf Course.

Now, like I said, we were only one of many double wide writer trailers lining the banks of the Universal Studios portion of the LA River. There were maybe fifty or more writers residing there - sort of like the literary equivalent of Navajo caves, except made of aluminum and allegedly fire-proof insulation.

A fat gray cloud of smoke with a distinctive odor hung over the settlement day and night and Security pretty much declared it a Dedicated Peace Pipe Zone.

Fairly often - usually in the late afternoon - somebody would slap a Fade Out on the final draft of a script and send for a bicycle messenger to take it to one of the Producer Buildings. When the guy/gal got there we'd all run out, shaking bottles of cheap champagne and showering the poor soul with it as he/she pedaled away.

Drinking would then continue to commence. (Writers tend to either not drink at all, or drink all day long). Around about dusk the writer tribe would gather at the banks of the LA River and try to peg the empties to other side - the target being Bob Hope's Golf Course.

It was a rite of passage of sorts, but not so bad, since it didn't require ritual scarring. Unless one became so overcome by the muse and booze that one tumbled down the banks into the river. Then scarring might commence, because for a very long time the bottles we hurled did no more than crash into the cement, scattering shards all over the place.

Then one night a new team from the Dallas TV Series took up residence. They had heard about the daily contest and came prepared. The Dallas prop department had constructed a catapult mounted in a kid's Red Ryder wagon bed. And, as we all stood there in awe, they placed the bottles into the catapult and slung them clear over to the other side, where they bounced  - tragically unbroken - on the soft green meadow grass.

We all turned away. Terribly disappointed. The contest would never be the same again. Empty bottles piled up, but no one had the heart to hurl them.

Then, a week or so later someone stole the wagon - it was said by a team from the Incredible Hulk - and the game began once again.

But this time as writer equals.

At day's end the cheers went up as before.

And boom, went the bottles.

And crash went the glass.

And all was well with the world of American Television...

The Vast Wasteland was whole once more.

As for Bunch & Cole: Our coming days of indenture were made a little bit more bearable by the Amazing Dolly Brown.

NEXT - FADE IN: LORNE GREENE
THE COMPLETE MISADVENTURES: IT'S A BOOK!


THE VITAL LINKS:
The MisAdventures began humbly enough - with about 2,000 readers. When it rose to over 50,000 (we're now knocking at the door of 110,000) I started listening to those of you who urged me to collect the stories into a book. Starting at the beginning, I went back and rewrote the essays, adding new detail and events as they came to mind. This book is the result of that effort. However, I'm mindful of the fact, Gentle Reader, that you also enjoy having these little offerings posted every Friday to put a smile on your face for the weekend. So I'll continue running them until it reaches the final Fade Out. Meanwhile, it would please the heart of this ink-stained wretch - as well as tickle whatever that hard black thing is in my banker's chest - if you bought the book. It will make a great gift, don't you think? And if you'd like a personally autographed copy you can get it directly through my (ahem) Merchant's Link at Amazon.com. Click here. Buy the book and I will sign it and ship it to you. Break a leg!

THE STEN COOKBOOK & KILGOUR JOKEBOOK





Two new companion editions to the international best-selling Sten series. In the first, learn the Emperor's most closely held  cooking secrets. In the other, Sten unleashes his shaggy-dog joke cracking sidekick, Alex Kilgour. Both available as trade paperbacks or in all major e-book flavors. Click here to tickle your funny bone or sizzle your palate.    




EMPIRE DAY 2012 - A COMMEMORATIVE EDITION

Relive the fabulous four-day Stregg-laced celebration.  Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever. New recipes from the Eternal Emperor's kitchen. Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever. Sten's thrill-packed exploits at the Emp's castle. How to make your own Stregg. And, did I mention, Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever?



Friday, August 12, 2011

THE CURSE OF THE BLACK TOWER

In Hollywood... they don't throw their garbage away. They make it into television shows. 
(Woody Allen) 
*****
As we crept from beneath the scary shadow of the Black Tower and headed for the Studio gates, Chris said, "I think we've just been royally screwed, Cole."

No disagreement here. But I said nothing until we had waved goodbye to Scotty, everyone's favorite gate guard, and Chris pointed the car toward home.

As he negotiated his way onto the freeway, I said, "We've been screwed not just once, partner mine - or even twice. We are screwed seven times over."

Chris' eyes cut to me, then back to the traffic. "How so?" he asked in a dread-laden voice.

I sighed. "While you were in the Head, Larry told me that was the standard deal Universal requires of its writers. Seven years. Renewable each year on Universal's option, not ours."

It is a testament to Chris' driving skills that he didn't lose it right there and pile into a big damned Shell Oil tanker truck that had jumped lanes in front of us.

"Well, we won't fucking sign it," Chris said.

"Do you really think we have a choice?" I asked.

Chris' brows furrowed. Thinking over what had just happened.

FLASHBACK - ONE HOUR BEFORE

Mr. Thompson Will See You Now
The three of us - Chris, me, and our agent, Larry Grossman - followed the silk-clad posterior of Peter's lovely executive assistant into his office.

Peter waited behind his incredibly expensive antique desk, framed by a huge window that looked out on a significant portion of the World Of Entertainment. (Lest you forget, Gentle Reader, Peter Thompson was head of production for MCA/Universal, prince of the Studios' Black Tower, and one of the el primo Guys With The Big Telephones.)

He watched us enter, smiling that Highwayman's smile and when we were settled, and he'd asked his assistant to bring us refreshment, he waited until she closed the door then let the smile dissolve into a gleam of sharp teeth.

And he said, “Now what’s this bloody shit about you boys not coming on board at Galactica 1980?”

Our agent, a really, really nice guy, said, “I’m sure it’s just a little misunderstanding, Peter. Something we can clear up in no time.”

It was no misunderstanding. Jeff (The EatAnter) Freilich had asked us to write an episode for GL80. A show we had no liking for whatsoever and only agreed to the script deal because Jeff was a "friend." At the meeting he'd asked us to join him on GL80 as story editors, but claimed to take no offense after we refused as politely as we possibly could. Obviously, this was bullshit and he'd gone and did his EatAnter whine to Peter that we were badly needed, but were bull-headedly ignoring his entreaties.

Private Doberman
Of course, we couldn't say any of that. And when Chris nearly slipped and opened his mouth, Larry shot him a warning look. Then he was all beatific smiles again, doing his best to charm Peter back into good humor. Our agent always reminded me a little of Private Doberman of Sgt. Bilko fame. Larry was a chubby little cherub with a lust for chocolate turtles and a passion for small carvings of elephants. His specialty was comedy. How he came to represent us is a whole story in itself, which I will tell down the road.

After the executive assistant had delivered the refreshments, Peter made with a sigh of great sorrow. Disappointment, even. “My dear boys,” he said. “What have I done that you would treat me this way?”

Chris and I hastened to assure him that we were the best of pals, owed him our very lives and intended to name our grandchildren after him, if we ever had any.

“It’s not that we don’t want to work for the show,” I lied. On the face of it, Galactica 1980 was many levels below abysmal. “But we have a novel due. Soon it will be overdue. And, frankly, Peter, we’re making more money freelancing than you could ever pay us on staff.”

Peter snorted. “You have no idea,” he said, “what staff money is.”

In our partnership it was my role to beard the beast, so I continued on with our well-planned (ha) defense. “We’re not trying to be difficult, Peter,” I said. “But we really like working on a smorgasbord of shows. We’re learning so much, jumping from one show to the other.

"It’s like the old days when magazines were king and writers served up short stories to dozens of different publications. It’s a real learning experience, Peter. Besides, we’re already agreed to write a script for Galactica… a really dynamite idea about earthquakes… and we’ll write as many more as Jeff and Frank want.”

(Frank was Frank Lupo, who shared Showrunner duties with Jeff. He was the boy genius on the lot. A former cab driver, he’d risen quickly through the ranks to co-helm his first show. Though GL80 failed miserably, it wasn’t Frank’s fault. And he was so damned good that nobody tried to blame him.)

Peter took my statement in. Nodding in gentle (was it agreement?) as I made point after point.

When I paused for breath, he said: “Are you quite finished, my dear boy?”

I admitted I was.

Peter inquired, “So, you’ll agree to write more than one episode for us on Galactica 1980?”

“As many as you want,” Chris put in. “We’re ready.”

“How kind of you,” Peter said, but he said it in a way that we knew he didn’t really think we were being kind one damn bit.

Shit.

This was not going well.

Peter said, “Allan... Chris... In the time I’ve come to know you two, I like think that I’ve become an uncle to you. A wise uncle.”

He gestured for agreement, or disagreement.

We did not disagree.

“Since we met during those first days at Quincy, I’ve also thought of myself as your mentor. I saw talent.” He paused and looked at both of us. Then at Larry. Then added, “Great talent. Rare talent.”

Our agent nodded vigorously. Larry wasn’t bullshitting, by the way. He really thought well of us. And was trying to bring us along in Larry’s very personal way. In later days we screwed up big time and traded Larry for some sweet-talking devils. It was the second worst mistake we ever made.

“I was the first producer to buy one of your scripts,” Peter said. More nods of agreement. (Although, actually our break came courtesy of Jack Klugman, star of Quincy M.E., and friend to writers everywhere. But this was no time to quibble.) “And since then,” he continued, “I’ve done my best for you.”

He laid his hand across the phone positioned before him. “Many a time I have picked up this phone in your behalf,” he said.

My mouth went dry. I knew what he was going to do next.

“And many times I spoke your names into the receiver…” He picked up the phone and whispered into it: “Bunch and Cole.”

Then he lowered the phone. Replaced it in its cradle.

“Now, my dear boys,” he went on, “it would be just as easy for me to..… well… ” He patted the phone… “Well, you know…. There are some who are my friends… and some who are….”

He let the rest slide. But we certainly got his point.

Larry said, “I’m sure the guys are eager to help you out on this, Peter.” He turned to us. His eyes saying it all: Blow this and you are dead. “Aren’t you, boys?”

“Damn straight,” Chris said.

“It was our intention all along,” I added.

"When would they start?" our agent asked.

Peter looked us over. First me. Then Chris. Making certain his victory was assured.

And he said, "Monday wouldn't be too soon."

RETURN TO CHRIS' MOMENT OF STARTLING REALIZATION

"I won't fucking do it," my partner said, maneuvering the car around the Shell Oil tanker. "I will not - Capital N-O-T, NOT - bend 'em and spread 'em for the likes of Peter Thompson and fucking Universal Studios."

"You're right," I said. "Fuck him. We'll tell Larry to have Peter stick his contract where the sun don't shine."

Later - after we'd had a couple of soothing Scotch and waters -  we thought we'd best seek the advice of someone who didn't have a dog in the fight. Larry was on our side, of course. But, he also got ten percent of our action, so we weren't sure how unbiased his opinion would be.

Story? What story?
We got our producer/mentor, Al Godfrey, on the line and told him our sad story. Godfrey, you may recall, succeeded Peter as Showrunner at Quincy and had bailed us out of a jam Peter has stuck us well into. (See, Episode #5: What's The Story Boys?)

Godfrey said, "You do realize, don't you, that you guys have only been in the business for a few months and you are already being tapped as story editors on the most expensive show in TV history?"

"It's a shit show," Chris said.

"So what?" Godfrey said. "Shitty is the definition of television. Comes with the cost of admission, which is Free."

"Yeah, but this is really shitty, Al," I said. "We don't want our names associated with it."

Godfrey sighed a weary sigh. "Boys," he said, "do you really think anybody ever looks at the 'Written By' part of the End Credits? Shit, by that time they're taking a bathroom break, grabbing a snack, or onto the next lousy show."

"It's a total loser," Chris said. "It's gonna be cancelled."

"Everything's eventually cancelled," Godfrey said. "The good news is - then you can go home."

"What about the seven-year contract?" I asked.

There was a long silence from Godfrey.

"Al?" Chris pressed. "Al?"

Finally Godfrey said, "Better buy some KY, boys. You're fucked."

I said, "Is it really for seven years? That's like being indentured servants."

Godfrey said, "The way it works, is that your first contract period will probably be for ten weeks, or twenty weeks."

"That's not so bad," Chris said. "We can handle a couple of months. The show will be kicked off the air, and they won't need us anymore."

A Seven-Year Sentence
Godfrey grunted. "Yeah, but that's not how it goes. Cancelled or not, when that time is up it is Peter's choice on whether to pick up your deal for whatever is left of the first 52 weeks. If he does that, then you are on the hook for the full seven years. And you'll have to work on whatever show they want you on. Shit, they can even loan you out to another studio, if they so fucking desire."

"What if we refuse to sign the contract? I asked.

Godfrey said, "Right now Universal is just about the only game in town when it comes to television. If Peter blackballs you - and he will - then you've just lost over eighty percent of your freelance market."

"Well, shit and fall back in it," Chris said. "Guess we've got no choice."

Godfrey said, "Look on the bright side, boys. Think of it as an adventure."

Chris said. "Last time I had an adventure some little guys in black pajamas kept trying to kill my ass."

NEXT: THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN 


THE COMPLETE MISADVENTURES: IT'S A BOOK!


THE VITAL LINKS:
The MisAdventures began humbly enough - with about 2,000 readers. When it rose to over 50,000 (we're now knocking at the door of 110,000) I started listening to those of you who urged me to collect the stories into a book. Starting at the beginning, I went back and rewrote the essays, adding new detail and events as they came to mind. This book is the result of that effort. However, I'm mindful of the fact, Gentle Reader, that you also enjoy having these little offerings posted every Friday to put a smile on your face for the weekend. So I'll continue running them until it reaches the final Fade Out. Meanwhile, it would please the heart of this ink-stained wretch - as well as tickle whatever that hard black thing is in my banker's chest - if you bought the book. It will make a great gift, don't you think? And if you'd like a personally autographed copy you can get it directly through my (ahem) Merchant's Link at Amazon.com. Click here. Buy the book and I will sign it and ship it to you. Break a leg!

THE STEN COOKBOOK & KILGOUR JOKEBOOK





Two new companion editions to the international best-selling Sten series. In the first, learn the Emperor's most closely held  cooking secrets. In the other, Sten unleashes his shaggy-dog joke cracking sidekick, Alex Kilgour. Both available as trade paperbacks or in all major e-book flavors. Click here to tickle your funny bone or sizzle your palate.    




EMPIRE DAY 2012 - A COMMEMORATIVE EDITION

Relive the fabulous four-day Stregg-laced celebration.  Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever. New recipes from the Eternal Emperor's kitchen. Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever. Sten's thrill-packed exploits at the Emp's castle. How to make your own Stregg. And, did I mention, Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever?




Friday, August 5, 2011

SUMMONED TO THE BLACK TOWER



What Larson Wrought
FADE IN: 
EXT - AERIAL - DAY - THE TURBOCYCLES 
Hurtling through the sky. Troy and Dillon aboard. 
DILLON
Two more hours to the turboshowers and bed. 
TROY
First I'm going to devour a five kilo soyastreak. Then -- 
His LANGUATRON beeps. Troy reacts.
TROY
We've entered a radar blanket… On the ground… Fast! 
THE TURBOCYLES 
Swoop down toward a highway. 

EXT. HIGHWAY - DAY 
The turbocycles… hauling along a deserted highway. They round the curve and see… 
U.S. ARMY CONVOY 
A long line of two and a half ton trucks and other vehicles. 
THE TURBOCYCLES 
Move out to pass. 
THE BACKS OF THE TRUCKS 
Filled with a detachment of Rangers. Camouflage fatigues. Black berets. Armed… Near full battle gear… including M16's. One Ranger grins at them and waves. Dillon waves back. 
ON THE TUBOCYCLES
Speeding away. 
DILLON
Why do you think there are so many soldiers around here? 
Is someone expecting a war? 
(Opening of GL-80 Episode: Earthquake by Bunch & Cole.)

*****
If you are a couple of freelance scriptwriters working out of Santa Monica, and you have a pitch meeting on Galactica 1980 with its Showrunner, Jeff (The EatAnter) Freilich, at Universal Studios here's what you do:

1. Grimace and groan and curse because the @#$%@ show has such a stupid premise that you have been stumped for days, and haven't a scrap of an idea to present when you get there.

2. Self-medicate with a pop of single malt, then lie to your partner that two geniuses like yourselves will surely come up with something on the way to the meet.

3. Spritz mouth with Famous Producer's Breath Spray to neutralize the odor of single malt.

4. Douche eyes with Famous Producer's Eye Wash to get the red out from a night of tossing and turning, thinking up ideas that shriveled up and died at dawn's early light.

5. Hit the Santa Monica Freeway (the Ten) and take it East to the 405. Force yourself into the traffic going North to the 101 (Ventura Freeway) East/South. Taking care to follow the signs that say to Los Angeles, or you will be royally fucked and off to Oxnard or maybe Santa Barbara and if you really screw up, San Francisco.

6. But, just before you reach the above mentioned Venture Freeway East/South, I double damn guarantee you that some semi full of oranges, or chickens, or in our case - avocados - will go upside down somewhere ahead of you and you will be stuck, fuming and cursing, along with umpity million other stranded drivers all headed Nowhere at No Speed whatsoever.

Everybody's Ass Is Stuck In Traffic
Behind us, somebody relieved his frustrations by laying on his horn. Chris relieved his by flipping him the middle finger salute in the rear view mirror.

I said, "The bad news is that we're going to be late. But, that's also the good news because I don't have the foggiest idea what we're going to pitch."

Chris grunted, then said, "Maybe the Gods Of Bullshit Premises are smiling on us. Maybe they whipped up all that freeway guacamole the KFWB Eye In The Sky twit is going on about - big joke, ha, ha - just to delay us long enough to finally think of something."

I nodded. I'm as ready as the next guy to see the glass half full if that's what his partner wants.

I said, "Let's go over them again."

And so we did. One by feeble story idea by one. Inching ahead toward the Venture Freeway, ignoring the horn-happy son of a bitch behind us as well as we could.

PAUSE FOR A TEENSY BIT OF BACKSTORY

The big problem was that Galactica 1980 was a stupid idea spun off from a show - Battlestar Galactica - that had been Cancelled With Cause the previous season. (Neither Galactica mentioned here should be confused with the excellent remake done a couple of years ago starring the brilliant James Olmos, among others.)

In the first incarnation, the remnants of the Human Race fled across time and space with some very nasty guys (Cylons) on their heels. Their goal: to find Earth, the mythical birthplace of Humanity. It starred the supremely talented Lorne (That Voice!) Greene as Adama, the Colonial Leader, as well as several other damned good actors and actresses.

What killed it? The super lousy management of the creator, Glen (The Rip Off Artist) Larson, who also wrote most of the awful scripts that no actor or director - no matter how talented - could transform into a higher element than Leaden on The Periodic Table Of Words.

The GL-80 Condemned
The second incarnation - Galactica 1980 - kept Lorne Greene as the lead. But this time around, the good guys have… Ta Da - Found Earth. But - and here's the twist, folks - it's not any old Earth. But "Present Day" Earth. See, Adama and his noble band of heroes punch through time and go back to 1980, way, way before humankind abandoned Earth for the Stars. (Trivia: 1980 A.D. was 7378 on the Galactica Colonial Calendar.)

There are many reasons that this idea sucks, some of which can be found in the previous episode, The Galactica 1980 Fiasco , and others that will become clear over the next several MisAdventures.

Tick, Tick, Tick - Kapow!
What's worse, Glen Larson was still the man at the helm. Worse still, the show was scheduled by ABC (The Anything But Class Network) during the Sunday night "Children's Hour" - in the 7 p.m. slot opposite the Serial Competition Killer: 60 Minutes. Even worse, since it was the Children's Hour, Galactica 1980 would have its very own censor overseeing production - one Susan Futterman, sworn to uphold the purity of America's tots.

But at that moment, Chris and I thought the only problems we had was a traffic jam and a supremely empty Story Bucket.

As Chris was wont to put it: "Ignorance is a mother fucker."

RESUME TRAFFIC JAM

So, we were going over out list of (ha) possibilities, ditching them one by one as we went. Then Chris scratched his head and said: "Didn't Jeff say they had some kind of human bad guy? A Colonial who turns traitor, or some such?"

I nodded, glanced at my notes, then said, "Commander Xavier. Kind of a fallen angel sort who wants to expose Earth's inhabitants to Galactica's superior technology. Deliberately shake things the hell up."

Chris muttered, "Shake things up. Hmm. Shake things up."

The guy behind us did his horn number yet one more time and Chris automatically gave him the finger flip, but his heart wasn't in it. He was too busy thinking.

Then he said, "What if this Xavier cat wants attention so badly that he deliberately triggers a Big Mother Earthquake?"

I said, "Is that possible?"

Chris said, "Who gives a fuck. It's Science Fiction ABC style. That makes it possible."

Starting to get a glimmer, I offered - "So, he gets this earthquake machine - or whatever -  going. But, then… well, damn, what if the whole thing spirals out of control and instead of just a little scare-the-shit-out-of-you earthquake, he gets one that sets off the whole damned San Andreas fault?"

New Beachfront Property
"Fucking California might fall into the sea," Chris said, getting enthused.

"Arizona and Nevada become beachfront states," I added.

"But, Lorne Greene and his guys ride to the rescue," Chris said. "Bonanza in space." And he made bump/ bump/bump/bump Bonanza theme music noises.

Just then the traffic cleared and we were on our way again. Took the Ventura East/South turnoff and headed for the Lankershim Boulevard exit where the Black Tower loomed over the entrance to MCA Universal Studios.

By the time Scotty cleared us through the gate and we got parked, we had the rest of the story worked out, with a nice little Earthbound subplot, involving a young geology professor who is on the outs with his colleagues because of his radical ideas for earthquake detection.


Earthquake! Earthquake!
 I'd recently read a Scientific American article about how the Chinese were touting ancient quake prediction methods that relied on nature. Barking dogs. Chickens going to roost in the middle of the day. Dropping water levels in wells. That sort of thing.

By the time we got to Freilich's building, we'd added a Children's Hour angle, that made the professor a widower with a teeny-bop daughter.

As we stepped out of elevator onto the third floor, we heard a delighted female voice say, "Bunch and Cole!"

Nice voice. Just ahead, outside Freilich's office, we saw the source.

Nice source.

It was the red-headed beauty we'd first met when Jeff was on Mrs. Columbo. Still just as sexy. Still just as smart. And she had a smile guaranteed to put a spring in any man's step.

She said, "You're a little late, boys. But, not to worry. I heard about the Guacamole Traffic Jam on the 405 and alerted Jeff. I'll ring him and you can go right on in."

As we started for the door and she added, "No beer this time around, guys. Jeff's with Frank, and he's pretty much of a teetotaler."

"Who's Frank?" I asked.

"Frank Lupo," she replied. "He's Jeff's co-producer. Glen Larson's man."

At our frowns, she hastened to add, "Don't worry. He's not a spy. Seems like a nice guy and his girl (meaning Frank's secretary) says he's a good boss. He just doesn't drink, that's all."

In the office, we found Jeff smiling behind his desk and Frank Lupo sitting in a chair pulled up next to Jeff's. He was Italian stocky and young - shit, maybe 25. Which is really damned young for a TV Show Runner. He had a great cynical smile, and a I'm-in-on-the-joke glint in his eyes and when he rose to shake our hands, we spoke with a gravelly voice right off the streets of Brooklyn.

"Glad to meet'cha," he said, sounding like he meant it.

The Man With The Plan
(Down the road we'd learn Frank's fascinating Cab Driver To Hollywood Producer/Writer story, work for him on everything from The A-Team, to Hunter, to Werewolf to Walker, Texas Ranger. With a Magnum PI and a couple of others thrown in for good measure. Our very best experiences were working with Frank - the exception being Galactica 1980, and that wasn't his fault. I consider him a friend to this day.)

After a couple of friendly preliminaries, we got down to the pitch. We had to ignore Al Godfrey's dictum that you should always pitch your best story last. (See Episode # 9 - Buck Rogers Is A Fatty - Ardala Definitely Isn't.)

Problem being, we had only one story. That Earthquake sucker we'd figured out in the middle of the traffic jam.

And son of a gun, it went down like bacon through a goose. In short, Jeff and Frank enthusiastically bought into our con… uh, No, I mean our most excellent story premise.

But before we were told to go thou and write, Jeff dropped the bomb. He asked if we wanted to be story editors on the show.

Chris said, “Do we still get the sale if we pass?”

Jeff said, “Sure. No problem, boys.”

Chris looked at me, I looked at him - both of us remembering the shit we had shoveled to come up with even one story.

I said, “Thanks, Jeff. But I think we’ll pass.”

It was my job in those days to announce the bad news to the boss class. Jeff argued a little, but I told him very firmly that we were writing the first of a new series of science fiction novels (Sten) and besides, we were making a ton of money free lancing. Who needed a regular staff job? Jeff seemed to take our turndown well, and we left feeling pretty good about things. Frank appeared to be amused by the incident, and I think it was then that we really started to stand out in his mind.

*****

DISSOLVE TO:

It was the next day and we were working merrily away. We'd moved our setup into the living room of my Santa Monica apartment, because it was such a hot day. All the windows and the patio doors were open, trying to catch whatever faint breeze that might be coming off the Pacific - about 15 blocks away.

This Is A Schtickup!
We were finishing up a story about a bank robbery for some show whose name I've forgotten. Clearing the decks so we could tackle the monster that was the Galactica 1980 story.

I said, "Okay, so when we go into the bank, we've got seven minutes tops, so we go in guns blasting. Shoot the shit of out the ceiling, scream Everybody Down On The Floor."

Chris said, "The bank guard is a stupid old shit - thinks the money's his - and goes for his gun so we blow him away."

I shook my head and said, "No, no. Give him a whap across the chops with your gun stock. We don't want any fucking murder raps."

We argued the point a minute, Chris wanting some blood. Me saying one of the bad guys has to be redeemable, so he can't kill anybody.

Then, just as we were getting back to the blowing the vault business, there came a knock at the door. Shit! Talk about Scriptus Interruptus.

I answered, and it was my landlady - Terry. I started to think something was wrong - maybe she lost the rent check - but Terry was chortling about something, so I invited her in to see what was so funny.

She said, "You owe me, Allan. I just saved you from the Santa Monica police kicking in your door."

Chris and I goggled at her. What the hell?

Terry pointed to the apartment building next door. It was identical to ours. Shaded balcony. Open windows and patio doors to catch the puny sea breeze. And in that neighborhood the lots went for such a premium that they were very narrow. The balcony across from my place couldn't have been more than thirty feet away.

"That's Mrs. Grady's apartment," Terry said. "She's a gentle old soul of 75 and you boys have scared the Geritol out of her."

We still didn't get it.

"What happened?" I asked.

"Well, Mrs. Grady just called me," Terry replied. "She said did I know that I have rented an apartment to a gang of bank robbers? She said she could hear them plotting their next job right this minute. And she was going to call the police, but she thought out of courtesy she should alert me first."

Chris and I erupted into howls of laughter. Pointing at the script page rolled into the typewriter. And the other script pages scattered across the table.

"It's for a television show," I managed to get out.

Terry joined us in the laughter. "I know, I know," she said "That's what I told her… But… but… she didn't believe me at first… She insisted that she should call the police right this very minute…Finally… I convinced here you were just a pair of goofy Hollywood writers."

And the three of us laughed and laughed until our sides were hurting and we could laugh no more.

Joke over, I saw Terry out  and turned back to Chris.

Chris said, "Fuck me, did we just dodge a bullet!"

"Don't I know it," I said. "Santa Monica cops have a hair trigger. They'd have booted in the door and commenced firing. Bang! Halt! Bang! Halt! - Like that."

Still laughing and feeling really lucky, I headed for the kitchen to build a couple of drinks.

But just then the phone rang.

I answered. Listened to what was being said. Face falling as I realized that we'd used up all our luck with Terry's intervention.

I hung up and told Chris that I'd just spoken to Peter Thompson's office.

"We are requested and required," I said, "to show up at Peter's office tomorrow afternoon. And we're supposed to bring out agent with us."

“The fucking EatAnter went and whined about us to Peter,” Chris surmised.

I thought so too.

*****

DISSOLVE TO:

Bunch and Cole making their second visit to the dreaded Black Tower. (The first visit was reported in Episode #5 - What's The Story Boys?) But, this time we had our agent in tow, a sweetheart of a man named Larry Grossman.

Peter's office, if you recall, was on the very top floor. We checked in and after a small eternity, Peter’s exquisite executive assistant summoned us. Once again we found ourselves following her lovely, silk-clad posterior into Peter’s Office. 

It was a marvelous office. As head of production at Universal, Peter commanded a space only a few places under the legendary Lew Wasserman and Sid Sheinberg and their phone-fisted Knights Of The Golden Box Office. There were so many floor-to-ceiling windows, you felt like you might fall off the face of the Earth.

And, although you couldn’t see All The Way To Tomorrow, the view did offer a scary glimpse of your immediate future – if All Did Not Go Well.

Peter rose from his fabulous Prince Something Or Other Desk and favored us with his extra special smile of pure roughishness. Like the glint of a highwayman's teeth in the night.

“It’s good to see you again, my dear boys,” he said in his best plummy English accent.

Then, his smile transformed into a frown.

And he snarled: “Now, what’s this bloody shit about you boys not coming on board at Galactica 1980?”

NEXT: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK TOWER 


THE COMPLETE MISADVENTURES: IT'S A BOOK!


THE VITAL LINKS:
The MisAdventures began humbly enough - with about 2,000 readers. When it rose to over 50,000 (we're now knocking at the door of 110,000) I started listening to those of you who urged me to collect the stories into a book. Starting at the beginning, I went back and rewrote the essays, adding new detail and events as they came to mind. This book is the result of that effort. However, I'm mindful of the fact, Gentle Reader, that you also enjoy having these little offerings posted every Friday to put a smile on your face for the weekend. So I'll continue running them until it reaches the final Fade Out. Meanwhile, it would please the heart of this ink-stained wretch - as well as tickle whatever that hard black thing is in my banker's chest - if you bought the book. It will make a great gift, don't you think? And if you'd like a personally autographed copy you can get it directly through my (ahem) Merchant's Link at Amazon.com. Click here. Buy the book and I will sign it and ship it to you. Break a leg!

THE STEN COOKBOOK & KILGOUR JOKEBOOK





Two new companion editions to the international best-selling Sten series. In the first, learn the Emperor's most closely held  cooking secrets. In the other, Sten unleashes his shaggy-dog joke cracking sidekick, Alex Kilgour. Both available as trade paperbacks or in all major e-book flavors. Click here to tickle your funny bone or sizzle your palate.    




EMPIRE DAY 2012 - A COMMEMORATIVE EDITION

Relive the fabulous four-day Stregg-laced celebration.  Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever. New recipes from the Eternal Emperor's kitchen. Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever. Sten's thrill-packed exploits at the Emp's castle. How to make your own Stregg. And, did I mention, Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever?