All posts by ERTorre

E. R. Torre is a writer/artist whose first major work, the mystery graphic novel The Dark Fringe, was optioned for motion picture production by Platinum Studios (Men In Black, Cowboys vs. Aliens). At DC Comics, his work appeared in role-playing game books and the 9-11 Tribute book. This later piece was eventually displayed, along with others from the 9-11 tribute books, at The Library of Congress. More recently he released Shadows at Dawn (a collection of short stories), Haze (a murder mystery novel with supernatural elements), and Cold Hemispheres (a mystery novel set in the world of The Dark Fringe). He is currently hard at work on his latest science fiction/suspense series, Corrosive Knights, which features the novels Mechanic, The Last Flight of the Argus, and Chameleon.

History Repeats Itself…

…again.

Read about actor Jussie Smollett? He’s an openly gay actor known for being in the TV show Empire. Here he is:

On January 29th of this year, he reported to the police that two people attacked him while in Chicago. He alleged they hurled homophobic and racial slurs at him, put a rope around his neck, and poured a chemical substance on him.

(For more details and a timeline of events regarding this case, check out this article by Sopan Deb and presented on The New York Times).

Needless to say, the assault and details Mr. Smollett provided were harrowing. Only thing is… it now appears that Mr. Smollett may not have been telling the truth. It appears he may have staged the event himself, something I can’t even begin to understand why.

Ah, but you ask: What’s this whole “history repeats itself” thing you mention at the header?

See, when you get older and if you pay attention to the news and have a pesky habit of remembering things from years to years, you begin to realize that, indeed, history does have a weird habit of repeating itself.

Way back in the 1980’s and before the rise of the Rush Limbaughs, Ann Coulters, and other right wing fanatics, there was this TV personality, now deceased, named Morton Downey Jr. who had a very wild right wing TV show. Here’s Mr. Morton Downey Jr as he appeared on his show:

Image result for morton downey jr

And here’s the very same Morton Downey Jr. photographed in 1989 after he was allegedly attacked -as he claimed- in a public bathroom by youthful hoods that, among other things, drew a swastika on his face:

Image result for morton downey jr

You can read a little more about this alleged attack on this site:

Bogushatecrimes.com

As you can tell by the website’s name, this attack on Mr. Downey Jr. wound up being… well… bogus. There proved to be too many discrepancies in his story and, amusingly, the Swastika was drawn on his face backwards. You know, as if he was looking in the mirror and drew it that way.

As it turned out, Mr. Downey Jr.’s TV show was suffering and was looking like it might be cancelled. It was theorized he set up this bogus attack as a way of getting attention on himself in the hopes of bringing the ratings of his show up and, thus, save it.

Alas, the show was cancelled anyway and Mr. Downey Jr. declared bankruptcy and appeared in other markets before his eventual death in 2001. I distinctly recall watching one of his shows way back when, where he puffed maniacally on his cigarette and blew smoke right at the camera, his provocative way of telling those who would dare try to stop him from smoking to go fuck themselves.

The big irony is that in 1996 Mr. Downey Jr. developed lung cancer and had to have one of his lungs removed. He went from being that very pro-smoker to a staunch anti-smoker but, clearly, by that point the damage was done.

I know there are rumors Mr. Smollett’s actions, if indeed the attack on him does turn out to be bogus, were motivated by perhaps being in danger of being dropped from Empire, just as Mr. Downey Jr. allegedly did what he did for fear his show was on the rocks.

Either way, if indeed Mr. Smollett did stage this attack, it looks like its in the process of being found out.

Greed is good…?

So said the oily Gordon Gecko as played by Michael Douglas in the 1987 Oliver Stone directed film Wall Street.

Apropos of that, I present the following article written by Jason Owens and presented on Yahoo sports (though the link I’m providing is on AOL.com:

Matt Kuchar defends paying caddie $5000 on $1.3 million win: I “don’t lose sleep over this”

I’m completely bewildered and, I must say, enraged by this article.

As is stated (and at the risk of giving away everything in the above article), Matt Kuchar played in a tournament, the Mayakoba Golf Classic, and didn’t have his usual caddy with him. According to Mr. Kuchar, the two verbally agreed to a payment of $5000 for the caddie job.

Mr. Kuchar went on to win that tournament and received a prize of $1.298 million dollars.

He paid his caddie $5000.

The caddie, obviously not happy with the very small fee given to him, asked for more and, truth be told, caddies usually receive bonuses when the person they are “serving” win and win big.

After the story reached the news Kuchar offered the caddie $15,000 (or a little more than 1% of the winnings) but the caddie felt even that was an insult. He asked for $50,000, or a little less than 4% of Kuchar’s winnings.

Kuchar refused and, according to the article, he feels the matter is now closed. From the article:

“It’s done. Listen, I feel like I was fair and good,” he said. “You can’t make everybody happy. You’re not going to buy people’s ability to be OK with you, and this seems to be a social media issue more than anything. I think it shouldn’t be, knowing that there was a complete, agreed-upon deal that not only did I meet but exceeded.

“So I certainly don’t lose sleep over this. This is something that I’m quite happy with, and I was really happy for him to have a great week and make a good sum of money. Making $5,000 is a great week.”

I know there will be those who say: Well, if they had an agreement, the caddy should just shut up and accept what he got. However…

Golf.com notes that $3,000 for a week on a bag for a club caddie like Ortiz would normally be considered a generous offer. But that figure wouldn’t include a payout bonus and win bonus that generally comes with handshake deals.

So, dear friends, while Mr. Kuchar’s offer was indeed generous, it is common for golfers who win to then sweeten the caddie’s pot and give them payout bonuses or win bonuses, something Kuchar didn’t do until this story received airplay. (POSTSCRIPT: I have since learned that it is not uncommon for caddies to receive up to 10% of the winning pot from golfers, though granted this is often offered to “regular” caddies who are long term with their golf pro. That being the case, the “regular” caddie could have been in line for a bonus of up to $130,000)

The story ends with this whopper:

According to Golf.com, Kuchar is 10th on the PGA career earnings list with more than $46 million.

Holy crap.

A man who has made $46 million in his career (even assuming this past win of $1.3 million was “all” he made up to that point in the year) feels it is appropriate to give a caddie $5000, an admittedly decent amount for a week’s worth with pro golfers, but then feels the man deserves nothing more… even when he wins a very big prize at the end?

As I said before, if he were to accede to the caddie’s demands (which he clearly has no intention of doing) and give the man $50,000 for that week’s worth -a fabulous amount!- that still amounts to less than 4% of Kuchar’s earnings for that week.

And if he felt that was too much, couldn’t he have gotten together with the caddie before this story blew up and worked out some kind of arrangement? If he was willing to go to $15,000, why not come somewhere between that amount and $50,000? Why not take the nicer path before you come off looking like a greedy fool?

Bear in mind, while it was certainly Kuchar’s skills that won him the tournament and he is undoubtedly entitled the winnings, the caddie was right beside him the whole way and it is my understanding caddies do more than just carry around the golfer’s bag. They are known to offer advice, keep track of information regarding the individual holes, and are often a sounding board regarding how to take on a hole.

Whether this was the case here is unknown to me, but I doubt the extent of the caddie’s involvement was limited only to carrying those bags and giving Kuchar club X or Y whenever he said he needed it.

Further, Kuchar’s final quote in the article, of “not losing sleep” over this situation doesn’t do him any favors as well.

If it was his intention to come off as a greedy fool, he certainly accomplished his mission, IMHO.

POSTSCRIPT PART DEUX: Written by Ralph Ellis and presented on CNN:

Matt Kuchar says he’ll apologize to caddie and pay remainder of the $50,000 he requested

So, after a few days of generally very bad news, the headline says it all: Matt Kuchar will do the right thing and give the caddie what he requested.

Mr. Kuchar, to his great credit, issued a press release that seemed very sincere in acknowledging he re-read his comments on this subject and felt it made him look very bad (which it did) and that he isn’t like that guy. So, he’s giving the man what he requested, which I’m assuming is $45,000 which will supplement the $5000 he already gave him.

The picky part in me notes that, as I stated above, it is “usual” for golfers to offer 10% of their winnings to caddies and this would mean the man may have been owed up to $130,000.

However, and as I also stated above, in all fairness this individual was not Kuchar’s usual caddie. He likely did less for Kuchar than the usual caddie would have done, ie offering advice on holes, clubs to use, etc. and likely was more of a club holder/mover.

So while the amount still feels a little light, the reality is that the man was asking for $50,000 for his work and he’s getting what he asked for AND an apology from Mr. Kutchar.

Case is closed.

Yet more signs of the times…

A while back I noted, with great sadness, the closure of my local go-to comic book store, Villains (you can read the post here), which previously was known when owned by different people as Starship Enterprises.

The sadness was related to the fact that in that location a comic book store existed for some 30 plus years, and after my trip to California over the summer I was saddened to find that Villains was gone.

Even worse, and to the best of my knowledge, there are NO comic book shops anywhere around/near me which I can now go to to get books.

And yet…

Since the closure, I’ve found myself getting more and more into digital comics via either Amazon.com or ComiXology (which, it should be noted, is an Amazon company).

I was already into getting digital copies of various favorite books of mine, but since the loss of Villains, my only real choice for getting the latest comic books or graphic novels is via the internet and Amazon/ComiXology.

I have to say, it has turned out to be a pretty good thing.

ComiXology often has sales on books from various companies and, very quickly, I found myself not only finding stuff I loved from the past and wanted to re-acquaint myself with, but increasingly I’m finding newer works that I didn’t even know existed and which, sadly, a small store like Villains simply couldn’t keep up with.

To date I’ve spent entirely waaaaay too much money on these various works, discovering some “new” favorite authors (I particularly like much -though not all- of what I’ve read from Jeff Lemire) and new -as well as some old and recently “printed”- favorite works.

I’ve noted before that I used to love going to the local Borders, before that store chain closed down, and couldn’t imagine not going to a bookstore at least once or twice a week.

Now, I have neither a bookstore or comic book store close to me to visit and… its ok.

If anything, I’ve spent even more time than before finding and reading new and interesting works because so damn many of them are available at my fingertips via Amazon or ComiXology.

But…

I do wonder if the younger souls out there who are not initiated on books or comic books and the love of them will ever get that same kick I get out of reading in general. Is it possible there will come a point in time where younger generations do not get into books or comic books like previous generations did?

Its a worrying thought and ironic given the moment in time we’re in. Never before has there been such easy access to so many wonderful works, be they novels or short story collections or comic books, yet only in the digital environment.

As I said above, perhaps more signs of the times.

At a loss of words here…

Like many, I spotted this over the weekend:

I understand what Disney is up to here. They’re taking popular, well known properties and squeezing even more money out of them by creating “live action” versions of them (see Beauty and the Beast, Jungle Book, and Dumbo for example).

To some degree, its a win-win scenario for them: The properties are already (as mentioned above) well-known so you don’t have to spend oodles of money advertising the “new” movies. You also don’t have to spend all that much money getting a new story/screenplay… you just use what you have and touch it up a little here and there and, voila, there you go.

But this one…

I just… I just don’t know. It looks ok, I suppose, but the trailer’s “punchline”, Will Smith appearing as the Genie is…

Seriously, I’m at a loss of words.

I don’t like it all that much, though I grant you seeing only a few seconds and hearing only a few words shouldn’t be enough to either love or hate a thing, but Aladdin, unlike some of the other features making the transition from animation to live action, featured a manic vocal performance by Robin Williams in the Genie role and he was likely the main reason the film was as successful as it was.

Will Smith doesn’t have nearly the same manic qualities as a Robin Williams, though he clearly has built a terrific career of his screen charisma.

I suspect I won’t see this film when its released, though this may be more related to the fact that I have difficulty finding free time to see films I want to see, much less those that I’m not as interested in seeing.

However, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t curious to hear what people think of Mr. Smith in this role. Will the full film prove he could do something like this? Or will the end result prove to be something far less?

Time will tell.

Corrosive Knights, a 2/7/19 Update

Been a little while since I’ve written about my lil’ ol’ series.

So, what’s new?

First, its been a very good couple of months since the release of Legacy of the Argus, the seventh and concluding chapter in the Corrosive Knights series.

I’ve seen a big increase in people both reading the books (almost all of them are available to be read “free” if you have Kindle Unlimited) and purchasing them (to then, very hopefully, read as well!). I’m also incredibly honored to find the increase in positive reviews of the books in Goodreads.com as well. Please, keep it up and bring on more reviews in Amazon.com as well!

In the time since releasing that book, I’ve also been writing a new book set in the Corrosive Knights “universe”, though I have to admit I’m still kicking ideas around and I’m not entirely certain how things will shake up in the end.

Originally, I was intending to release an 8th Corrosive Knights novel which would serve as an “Epilogue” to the CK series. However, since releasing Legacy of the Argus and after giving it some thought, I decided to put that book on hold for now. The reason being is that the story, which is already pretty much done though it is much shorter than any of the books in the series, serves as a good conclusion to the series and I find I’m not willing to end it all quite yet.

BUT…

I feel I’ve set a very high bar for myself with the CK series. Without sounding incredibly obnoxious, I feel the series is pretty damn great as is and if I’m going to add to it with “new” novels, they better damn well not be lame add-ons but full-fledged great stories in their own right.

So I started writing this new CK book shortly after the New Year and, I’m not going to lie: It has been a bit of a struggle to figure out where I want to go here. I spent a few weeks working on one particular set of story ideas but found my mind moving in other directions and effectively re-started later in the month with another concept.

I’ll keep working at this. I’m nothing if not bullheaded and will eventually crack this nut, but in the meantime, THANK YOU GUYS SO MUCH for giving my books a try and for the positive reviews you’ve given.

I truly, truly appreciate it!

SuperBowl snores…

Like many out there, I found yesterday’s SuperBowl, number LIII, a complete bore. In fact, I only watched the first half and when it was done decided there was no point in watching more.

As a Dolphin fan, I’m no fan of the Patriots, but reading up on their win yesterday one can’t help but feel they are and remain a next level team, one that seems to have cracked the code to Football.

So congrats to them for that!

Now then: The game still sucked.

It was dull and, inexplicably, so too were the SuperBowl ads.

Even people who aren’t huge Football fans (like my wife), might watch the SuperBowl to catch the ads. They’re often incredibly creative, funny -sometimes quite hilarious!- and original.

Not so this year.

Few of the ads stick to may mind… there was a Budweiser ad which was really a Game of Thrones ad, or was it a combo Budweiser/Games of Thrones ad? I don’t know, but it wasn’t all that humorous.

There was a Jason Bateman as an elevator operator ad which was for some online car buying company… I think… that did nothing for me.

In fact, the only ad I kinda liked was the one featuring the NFL banquet where a football falls from the cake and the veterans and current players there go to town.

At least that ad had me cracking up.

Otherwise…

A Postscript: There were many who also knocked the Maroon 5 half-time show. Not a fan of the band and didn’t bother to see it (again, I was gone when half-time began), but looks like it was par for the course.

Sadly.

Not what you want to hear…

…if you’ve invested in cryptocurrency. Found on gizmodo.com and written by Tom McKay:

Crypto exchange says it can’t repay $190 million to clients after founder dies with only password

At the risk of giving away everything in the article, let me quote the first paragraph in it:

Canadian crypto exchange QuadrigaCX says it cannot repay most of $190 million in client holdings after its 30-year-old founder Gerald Cotten, the only person who knew the passwords to its “cold storage,” unexpectedly died in India in December 2018.

While I suppose one shouldn’t generalize, reading this sure makes it sound like investing in crypto currency is at the very, very least… risky? And that maybe, just maybe, there should be more guardrails/regulations involved in crypto currency exchanges to avoid something so seemingly …stupid… from happening to one’s investments, no? Especially when they come to $190 million!

Here’s the thing, and I really do hate sounding like some kind of conspiracy theorist… but isn’t this rather convenient?

Also from the article (the bolding is by me):

Some other reporting has suggested it is possible some of the funds in question moved after the case was publicized, and though the evidence was not definitive, it and the strange circumstances of Cotten’s death spurred accusations that his demise was either faked or the pretext for an exit scam by other parties with access to the holdings, according to CCN. However, Robertson included a death certificate in the filings, CoinDesk wrote.

According to CBC, the government confirmed a Canadian had died in India, but could not offer more details due to privacy laws.

Okay then.

Granted, evidence of funds being moved after the date Mr. Cotten supposedly died was “not definitive” and therefore we cannot say for sure some funny business happened, it is weird that beyond a death certificate we can’t get more evidence to prove he did indeed pass away.

But, even if he did pass away in India and hasn’t “faked” his death to cover some financial crime, who’s to say Mr. Cotten was the only person to have that password? Is it possible someone else within his company or family had that password and maybe used it after the fact?

Pure speculation, mind you, and based on the article alone there’s absolutely no reason to believe anything beyond what’s presented.

Still, the whole situation is beyond weird.

DC Movie schedules…

Curious as to what’s going on with the DC movie schedule… after, that is Wonder Woman ’84 and Shazam!…?

Then check out this article presented on i09.com and written by Germain Lussier:

Three DC Movies are coming summer of 2021

The big news is that one of the films, The Batman (or whatever it will be called when all is said and done) will not feature Ben Affleck in the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman. Looks like his days in the role are officially finished.

I enjoyed Ben Affleck’s foray into the role but can’t say I’m surprised or terribly unhappy he’s done in the role. Nowadays and with so many films featuring recurring characters, I’ve reached a point where I know actors won’t be tied to a role forever and there is a good chance we’ll see others take the role on, for better or worse.

Now… what’s going to happen with Henry Cavill’s Superman? Will we soon hear about a reboot of that role, as well?

Speaking of other roles/movies: The other two films mentioned in the above article are The Suicide Squad and DC Super Pets. The former is the film James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) wrote and may direct and which, according to the article, is not beholden to the first Suicide Squad film and may feature a mostly new cast. The later, I strongly suspect, will be an animated film of some sort.

Also not mentioned is the Birds of Prey movie (which appears to be filming right now and features the return of Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn), and the Joaquin Phoenix Joker film (which concluded filming a few weeks back). Also not mentioned, nor has filming begun, of The Flash and New Gods film.

Stay tuned!

Oh my…

Ran across this article by Patrick Redford and presented on Deadspin.com yesterday:

The sports highlight of the day

The header is pure sarcasm, the topic is this video:

After you watch the video, check out the article which offers some pretty funny comments about this wonderful neighbor row. I especially loved this line:

New highlights pop up every time I watch this video: the 11-second gap between the peacemaker trying to break things up and grabbing a plank of her own

Yeah, that was my favorite part as well! 😉

Winter Weather…

Apropos of nothing much at all:

The other day day, there was much ridicule heaped at the folks in/around the area I live in for things like this:

Image result for miami weather warning temperature

This is a Channel 10 weather “alert” that notes we’re about to have a “weekend winter blast” with morning temperatures “Near 50” and afternoon temps in the 60’s.

This provoked much ridicule by the folks from colder climes up north, who scoffed at the idea that you needed a “coat” for such temperatures, that in their neck of the woods, such temperatures didn’t merit a long sleeved shirt, much less a “coat”.

Or, to put it bluntly: Jeeze, you guys are freaking wimps!

Here’s the thing:

When I was very young, I lived in Nova Scotia, Canada. I LOVED the winters there, and recall at least a couple of below zero blizzards that passed through and caused the city I lived in to essentially shut down for everyone’s safety.

Back then, I was easily one of those folks who, upon seeing a graphic like the one above, would have scoffed at the idea that weather “Near 50” would cause anyone any trouble.

Thing is, the human body adjusts to the climate they’re in.

After Canada, I lived a while in Venezuela (pre-current craziness) which had a suffocating (for a winter boy like me) tropical climate. I eventually moved to Florida but, for my first year in college, I chose to attend the University of Ottawa in Canada.

I froze my ass off that year, the first time in nearly a decade I once again encountered a genuine winter.

Luckily for me, I had the option of continuing in Ottawa or transferring to a University in Florida.

I chose Florida.

This one time winter boy had acclimated himself to the warmer climate and switching to such cold proved incredibly difficult.

The point is this: Don’t laugh too hard at us, friends from the north. Your bodies are adjusted to take the colder climate and, trust me, if you spent a year or two in Florida or any other more moderate/warm setting, your winter weather body will also adjust to the warmer climate.

And, yes, when the usual temperatures around 80-90 degrees drop to 50, you too might find it quite uncomfortable once your body adjusts to the warmer weather.

I know… I know…

Doesn’t matter.

We’re wimps. 😉