Archive for April, 2020


© 2020 G.N. Jacobs

On the subject of ruthlessly mining my dreams for the next dream-based idea for my list of waiting concepts, I think I’ve been this way before…too lazy this morning to do the post archeology just yet (see post). And then the white gloves showed up for their closeup. An out and out nightmare…or would’ve been in an earlier time when perhaps I was less weird.

White gloves, by which the reader gets to interpret their choice of opera gloves or cop gloves used only for formal ceremonies and traffic control (white is a high visibility fabric color), kill people. The high points. I’m the investigator. The gloves wipe out some poor schoolgirl, possibly Catholic from the blue tartan pattern, spitting out the uniform like primates tossing aside fruit rinds. I reach through the swirling mist protecting the gloves bringing them fully into the real world (of the dream, at least).

You’d think from past monster movies that I’d burn them. Or whack them bloody on the kitchen island. Maybe made them see the error of their ways talking them to death in Interrogation Three. None of the above.

Yours truly ate the white gloves. No taste, not even silk. It was kinda chewy in a disgusting way and then a gray labradoodle waddled up glad of the snack. Maybe the labradoodle exists as a later addition from the in-between time between the dream proper and choosing to be awake and do my day on the merest pretense of adulthood. At this point, the “dog stays in the picture.”
Not that it’s all that interesting to me, excepting how I can churn this unformed cream into something useful like butter, but I guess I do have to use up a few words speculating as to origin. Is it a Virus-land dream as so many people report?
I suppose yes, in the same way that Die Hard has been adopted as a Christmas movie on the sheer strength of set during the holiday. I could go on about hearing Stephen Colbert ask a guest about his strange dreams…Ooh, a trigger! The reach in and yank the gloves into the light through a haze of smoke, sounds like armchair shrinks will go immediately a need for truth seeking (insert yelling about the Coronavirus politics here).

The chowing down on the gloves was something new. Do I have food issues? Am I stealing from the father of the Olympian gods who ate his children to stay in power? Is it similar to why Akiro (Mako) nearly got barbecued by cannibals in Conan the Destroyer? – “they think if they eat me, my power will become part of them.” I usually duck going that deep being generally comfortable with my personal fucked-up-ed-ness.
I guarantee you the possible first edit of the labradoodle absolutely is a Virus-land adaptation. Look, maybe you don’t hire labradoodle breeders without medical or public health degrees, if you’d like your citizens to dream about bunnies and rainbows. Stephen Colbert on the same show asking about the guest’s dream also did some barbecuing over hiring the former breeder…also a trigger!
I maintain that maybe I’m less fucked up than I think. The labradoodle that may or may not have featured in the main dream, but is there now…because I say so, has been put to better use than his metaphoric former master at the puppy mill. Feed the monster to a creature that regardless of individual breed has historically shown a tendency to eat everything seems like a plan.
In fact, there’s all kinds of reasons to keep dogs around in all kinds of fantastic storytelling. Die with your trusty hound at your side and discover that the first guy at the gate might be lying about the nature of the realm behind (Twilight Zone). Dogs also have a way of sniffing out other forms of bad guys, I’ll have to watch The Car again to refresh my memory if there was a dog snarling at the Lincoln Town Car.
Regardless, dogs jostle with cats for Improbable Script Immunity. A serious and loud pet rumble. Yes, Mr. Snyder did name the trope after cats, but he meant any moment that shows the audience the hero’s nice side. But I digress away from the truth that when confronting killer white gloves maybe we want to harness that our dogs seem to get away with eating our shoes with alarming frequency.
Anyway, the killer white gloves aren’t a completely new thing in my weirdness. My list of as yet unrequited concepts includes at least one tidbit of a comatose writer whose hands break off and do his subconscious bidding. The right hand is almost reasonable. The left hand is pure id, baby! And from there we eventually have a story.
Maybe something out there just tried to slap me around for prioritizing something other things as more interesting. Sometimes, I have to act like a certain governor absolutely convinced that the lockdown can’t end this week.
How much story did the dream give me? Not much. Unlike Robert Louis Stephenson’s claim about getting the full book, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, in two dreams from which his wife waked him the first time – “One of these days, Alice! Bang! Zoom! To the Moon!” – my dreams only give me two or three scenes. I’ll still have to fill in the rest.
Starting with answering the question at the top of this post about dress gloves for the opera or those that cops wear. Why is this important? Well, either I’m going to get a rich people milieu or I’m going to get cops, perps and traffic accidents. In theory, until my give a damn flees for something else, I could write both.

And that, Dear Reader, is yet another visit between the ears of the delightfully strange place called Greg-Land. Actually, eating the killer gloves is perhaps the most. Whatever, my takeaway here is that if I’m actually going to eat killer gloves maybe I should come prepared with a bottle of Tapatio. Yum…


© 2020 G.N. Jacobs

I got Zoom-bombed! No that’s not really much in the way of a positive experience, but it is something about which to write. I’m officially part of the post-pandemic we’re-all-in-it-together club. Still…I was angry for a minute.

The bare bones of the incident. Two weeks after first launching myself online into the Zoom world (no Jitsi, No Discord and certainly no Google Hangouts), I sign up for yet another writers’ group. I go for the greet, write and brag about word count types of groups. I sometimes read at the end of the session. The full-blown critique groups can wait…

So anyway, this group originated from a Dallas coffeehouse and wanted to open up the online writing from home experience to everyone setting the attendance limit quite high. More like the limit Zoom promises when you agree to pay for a Pro account ($150/year), say about 100 guests. Links and passwords went out.

I had been at the tail end of a successful writing day where my space pirate that also serves a mean macchiato became progressively more mind-fucked as his day went along (a playing hooky project when I don’t want to work on anything closer to print). Banging out another page and a half in the notebook seemed like a good plan.

At least 60 people or devices showed up. The first sign of trouble was a douchebag hiding behind a picture of one of those bearded gentlemen from the Middle East with whom the West likes to yell at as high order performance art (Great Satan, Dirty Persian @&$*head, you get the idea). The guy yelled a bunch of obscenities. The host guided by another member who himself hosts other Zooms out of Los Angeles tried to use the tools already at her disposal to kick the Mullah-man out.

Then the Chat function went screwy. More obscenities. Despite the guidance from the off-duty host, the actual host lost the handle on keeping her head long enough to delete anyone just there to selfishly raise hell and she canceled the meeting. Pretty sure the Zoom-bomber(s) declared victory and went home laughing. Obviously, steps were taken.

First off, once a host lets in more people than we have in fingers and toes the risk of some angry douchebag getting in increases geometrically with about every four extra RSVPed guests over 20. I have friends who are better at technology than me who when fed enough beer will loudly proclaim that nine times out of ten the user got sloppy with their passwords causing the problem themselves.

The host learned her lesson, as reported by others, that she immediately lowered the attendance limit to a slightly more manageable (49) number. Presumably there will be all sorts of verification steps like registering and being total dicks about the six-digit password. Things will work out next week…probably.

I first heard of Zoom-bombing right at the beginning of the crisis by way of a petition in my email inbox. Apparently, a black PhD candidate defended his thesis by Zoom with his family watching from their own devices. The Zoom-bombing event described seemed really bad like you could plausibly use a Dresden or a “took out Rotterdam” metaphor what with frequent N-words and dick picks. The petition was worded in an understandably hurt “Zoom must do something” tone.

I would just log on to Zoom with a link or the similar Meeting ID number, youthful innocence. Then a few days later, the link needed to have the six-digit meeting password. A few hosts required registration where you tell Zoom and the host your name and email and if they don’t match the host doesn’t have to let you in. A few days later, waiting rooms popped up where you logged in with your link, Meeting ID and/or password. A few days after that link info would appear in emails from the host using’s email feature in an attempt to limit who saw the information that anyone could see in a Comment box on Meetup.

Part of the problem is the age-old problem that encryption can sometimes be too complex and thus lock out the legitimate user. Follow the registration link. Here’s the meeting link with the password. It adds steps, but certain things remain constant because the codling team at Zoom knows that certain measures will Night follows Day mess with the users that drive their business model.

For instance, writers are constantly in a variable state between craving the rigid order of “I have my writers’ group at Noon on Tuesday” and the freewheeling joy of “Holy Hell, it’s a re-run of NCIS, might as well pick up my phone to finger-tap.” After a few sessions we start going to the same groups and the link numbers and passwords don’t change because even for the security minded host the hassle of distributing a new link, password and registration page every week induces baldness the way Homer Simpson went smooth (tearing his hair out).

But in the case of this hacked and bombed meeting, I’m pretty sure that the host may have to create a completely new meeting taking place at the same Bat-time and same Bat-channel. The douchebags have the link and password emboldened by the success of ending the meeting the first time to try again – “wow, it was, like, so hilarious that the writers group shut down with the PC bitch host probably blew a gasket like a cartoon!”

Yes, there’s a nasty political undercurrent to some Zoom-bombing. The racist attack on the PhD candidate. And the fact here that the host said – “I’m shutting the meeting down and for next time will have to think long and hard before admitting people who don’t look PC.” – just before closing the meeting.

Which to me as a writer understanding that my Free Speech depends on everybody’s Free Speech, I heard that as troubling in the sense that pure PC is almost equally the problem as douchebags getting a laugh lashing out randomly. Besides, I guarantee that the Mullah-man douchebag heard that comment and took both victory and validation. He’ll try again.

Why was I angry if my liberalism doesn’t run to the Pure PC end of the spectrum? I don’t need politics to get pissed at people with too much time on their hands that like to lash out at people they could safely ignore. These fuckheads wasted my time…the single most grievous sin you can do to me in my moral universe.

At least one of my stories that explain why I infrequently write screenplays and almost never co-write involves a guy only slightly less annoying than these pair (same guy with two devices?) of douchebags. And don’t get me started on how I feel about other people wasting my time since Mom died. If I’m goofing off, I’m not wasting time, but doing something else almost as important as the words…for the moment.

And then there’s the sense of basic respect. Since I’ll get snippy about you wasting my time when I want to spend it working, I assume you’ll be the same way. Besides I can pull a book off my shelf or try to figure out the next three bars of my much-delayed Concerto for Harmonica in F to have things to do inside.

Of course, the I’ve heard variations on the refrain, “what is it with these people that need to do this? Even without being a writer there’s plenty of things to do in the average house!” – or the similar – “who has the time to do this?” – at least twice, once before the Zoom-bombing and once after. There’s no understanding it, some people need to lash because they think it’s funny to watch someone get angry. And there’s the nasty politics underneath, racist douchebags seem motivated enough to make the time. Being that racist and angry also sort of answers the first rant too, we don’t understand the emotion and for the immature among them we’ve forgotten how whiny we got when we were bored as kids.

Several plus sides though. It’s been the better part of five weeks that I have slowly increased my daily Zooms. Only one session has been Zoom-bombed so I’m ahead of the game. The host will figure out her game and life will go on.

And the other thing, Zoom has been a godsend for my productivity. I used to go to coffeehouses either alone and for the in-person version of these groups. I was productive. Measured by squares checked off on my to do list, my best weeks have doubled my before output and more normal weeks the increase runs more like 50-percent more. I just need to save up enough money for an espresso/cappuccino machine and maybe I never leave the house except to support a restaurant I like.

Anyway, I got Zoom-bombed. I took it personally for a minute and a half. I now have a story to tell my nephews – “back in the 2020 Lockdown, there was this one writers’ group that got Zoom-bombed, you shoulda heard what those assholes said…good times!”


© 2020 G.N. Jacobs

Yet another monster of the week, the Car from Hell. Calling it the Baneful Blue Car is really a Marketing Department decision to go with the toys I have for the picture.

What makes it the Car from Hell? It drives by itself. It hates people in general or perhaps specifically. It mows them down on the pavement because…why not? It’s a really simple and apparently can’t miss horror concept. Stephen King goes back to it more than once (Christine, Trucks/Maximum Overdrive, From a Buick 8). And I keep meaning to publish the collection in which my own effort Cadillac Crusader appears…never mind.

Like most other story tropes, the writer can bend the Car from Hell to his/her own purposes. Even Mr. King varied it up a bit going with a dysfunctional romance between car and driver, or a post-apocalyptic epic of trucks in revolt, almost a slave uprising. I’ll get back to you when I dig up From a Buick 8. Mine had two Cars from Hell, former enemies from the Third Crusade (neither side acquitted themselves very well) who spoke the words that Melville put in Ahab’s mouth at the end of Moby Dick imprinting their anger onto their swords that were later melted down into auto steel. Essentially a heavy-handed treatise on tolerance from very soon after 9-11.

Why does the car drive itself? Usually, the author doesn’t explain beyond a few sentences. Christine, an almost stereotypical Candy Apple red Plymouth Fury (kinda on the nose, Mr. King, just sayin’) just starts killing people from jump on the production line. An evil car from birth. The trucks go nuts because of a passing comet.

The filmmakers of the Christine knockoff movie The Car pretty much just said – “it’s like a demon with bullet-resistant windshields, what did you think I’d give schematics?” I think my deal where a Third Crusade Christian and his blood enemy from among the Society of Assassins imprint their rage upon their swords is about the closest anyone has come to actually explaining the Car from Hell.

Unless perhaps the car is an AI creation of a pissed off mad scientist. It’s always a choice to go with people creating their own problems. Hubris and other forms of lethal stupidity all in one package.

And now we’re back to that scary fan theory about Disney’s Cars where the cars with the big eyes in the windshield are AIs that adopted the personality of their last drivers. So does that mean that Lightning McQueen once drove with Frankenstein (David Carradine)? Or perhaps Matilda the Hun, from before her taking up the Nazi motifs with her Buzzbomb car? Now I’m going to some dark places.

Anyway, it isn’t accidental that I’m tying into the Deathrace 2000 franchise. The difference between death races and Car from Hell is the human at the wheel. Anyway, if our world building says that the AI cars are like impressionable children waiting to learn from “responsible” adults then the Car from Hell very much could be a former death race wagon turning on its former masters. The cars are either done hauling our groceries, like Mr. King’s trucks, or maybe we’re all sick, didn’t stay inside and the getting smeared across the pavement is less painful. The writer/gamemaster gets to choose these things.

This column is loosely about how do you use these monsters in a campaign or other narrative. Several questions need to be asked…

What is the Car from Hell’s relationship to gasoline?

This is a big one that isn’t always addressed. More theological versions of the Car from Hell, like The Car, are just steel-clad demons. If a demon steals a possessed soul’s body and walks around in it for many centuries after the normal sell by date, then the same demon that possesses a 1971 steel gray Lincoln Town Car doesn’t really have to worry about stopping at the Arco.

The movie version of Christine wasn’t depicted stopping at gas stations. But the story undergoes a progression where the red witch car reveals herself slowly as she ensnares her driver-lover becoming viciously powerful in the Third Act. Says to me that if Mr. King thought the car should be limited by gasoline then the car would wheedle and whine until her human rolled up to the pump…ala Audrey the plant begging, “FEED ME!”

The writer that wants the unkillable car will mentally come up with some means of alternate fueling. Pulling water vapor and using electrolysis to crack it into hydrogen and oxygen and then reburning them in the cylinders seems a good approach. Answering the gas question is important…

When I adroitly plagiar…uh, homaged the Car from Hell trope in my own work, the gas problem was the solution. When dealing with count ‘em two cars, the female protagonist pissed the cars off making her bait for her boyfriend the wizard with a handy increased entropy spell. She lures to the LA River. He creates a dome where fuel efficiency goes from, say, 30 mpg to something with the opposite measurement, gallons per mile, the average Main Battle Tank for those keeping score on Quora.

What are the rules for the car taking damage through the course of the story?

Again, the writer/gamemaster is just going to do what he/she wants, all have their place.

James Brolin and his deputies put several 12-guage shells into the Lincoln. Nothing. Dialogue about assuming a set of armor, but it was a literal Car from Hell running down sinners who cuss and curse. It couldn’t enter the old cemetery with a cross, but could enter and open a garage door despite, “no hands, Ma!” And because explosions are always good to end movies, the villagers lured the car to where they could dynamite the cliff onto the car. The demon inside flees the car sneering in the fiery mushroom cloud only to be seen in Los Angeles driving past the Music Center…

Some cars will uncrunch reverting back to normal because the sheer force of evil always seems to want to keep biting our kneecaps off. Christine did this. My hell cars did this and yes using the gasoline problem in the same story is clearly one of those Because I Said So events where when asked for details the best bet is usually, “Hey, what’s that over there!” Other cars will be the hell car equivalent of Eleanor…simply tough to kill.

Okay, I’ll close this out suggesting actual hit points and such for the cars. Keeping it simple…the car has the equivalent of full plate armor. I just sort of assumed that an easy way to assign hit points would be to have the GM look up the horsepower rating of the car being pressganged into service as a hell car. There’re your hit points right there, about 150 hp for rice burners on up to 350 for say a Camaro.

Keep it simple. Don’t cuss. And have the car aim for center mass…






© 2020 G.N. Jacobs

Okay, for this one I’m just going to let you in on several related little secrets…my mother asserted car as my first word. Love driving them, except when I have to deliver your pizza or proof of service (a story for another day and another blog). Slightly know what I’m talking about when the hood’s up; comes from that one time it was still possible to change out an alternator on a motor where said part was at the top of the block.

Get gently yelled at over the size of my Matchbox/Hot Wheels collection by that sister sort of acting like Marie Kondo right now pretty much daily. Went kart racing just enough times to fake it for the story. Used to know the Indy Car guys backwards and forwards, less so F1 and Endurance. Whined really loudly when Mom decreed Speed Racer (unless it’s a G-Damn slow news day and I’m loaded respect for the anime says I’ll never comment on the live action here) to be too violent.

Have pulled Reverse J-Turns during my misspent youth. Have Deathrace 2,000 memorized even to the level of laughing at all references to – “the evil French.” And my first major series protagonist didn’t go pro because she liked writing better.

Oh, and did I forget to mention that the Ford GT-40, the subject of the movie Ford V. Ferrari is my single favorite closed-wheel car that didn’t appear in Speed Racer? From your perspective, objectivity just left the building with Elvis. Good thing, it’s verifiably a great movie…


There isn’t really anything bad to say about this mostly true semi-tragic buddy movie about a driver, Ken Miles (Christian Bale), and his good friend builder and former driver, Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon), teaming up to spend Ford Motor Company’s money to give the hated Enzo Ferrari a metaphorical punch in the nose in the pasta rocket manufacturer’s home break sport of endurance racing, specifically the 24 Hours of Le Mans. All because the Italian gentleman called Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts) fat and his cars and factory ugly when Lee Iacocca (Jon Bernthal) reports back from the failure to woo Ferrari from Fiat.

And so it’s a story about boys and their cars. Complete with that special gleam we get when we have the wagon just so. And the somewhat difficult personalities associated with doing cars at the top of the game. A movie where two headstrong personalities throw wrenches and fists at each other all to get that last ounce of performance and air flow over the car body.

Matt Damon as Shelby quickly becomes the translator between the pure driver of Christian Bale as Miles and the business-oriented executives at Ford put in charge of the team. Primarily, this plays out with Josh Lucas playing Leo Beebe, a senior VP likely to insist that Ken Miles “just isn’t a Ford type driver,” during the GT40’s disastrous first year (1965) racing at Le Mans. Shelby apparently solved the problem by going around Leo Beebe and taking Mr. Ford out for a spin in the car…leaving him crying in the shotgun seat. A highlight of the movie.

All throughout 1966, problems with the car, mostly brakes bedevil the team headquartered at LAX. Solutions come from everywhere in the team including redesigning the entire braking system for easy replacement, something that had never exactly been done before under the Le Mans rules. The creative interpretation of – “gentlemen, the rulebook says part and changing out the entire brake system is a part.” – is one of the other highlights of the movie.

Of course, it being a movie and not a Wide World of Sports special, we do have to come off the track and do a little bit of storytelling in rooms, houses and cars. Mostly we get to see Ken Miles’s relationship with his wife, Mollie Miles (Caitrona Balfe), and son Peter (Noah Jupe). We get to see that Ken Miles was really too good at cars without much businessman in him to keep his garage in the Valley from going belly up.

A marriage where the wife drops the hammer on the family Ford station wagon on a lonely two-lane blacktop road revealing that professional drivers really hate being passengers is interesting in the best of times. The scenes with Peter reveal a deep abiding familial love where the idea is to share passion and perhaps a few skills.

And then we finally get to Le Mans 1966, where Ford takes three separate GT40 teams to the endurance race. Once the race officials agree with the Ford interpretation of the rulebook concerning ripping out the whole brake assembly, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that all three Fords will take the top three finishes at the race, especially with all the Ferraris killing themselves before the finish.

Even at this late date, all is not perfect in the race. The cars were driven differently with some teams keeping to the company directives as to how fast and hard to drive the car. Meanwhile, Carroll Shelby puts 7,000+RPM on the chalkboard for Ken Miles, letting him drive full out. Leo Beebe then hits on a “great idea” to slow Miles down so the other Fords can catch up for the great picture of all the Fords crossing the finish line at the same time. I remain surprised that this character agreed.

Anyway, Ford v. Ferrari is exactly what you expect, a racing movie with all the crashes, cool maneuvers and drama in the pits where people do sometimes die. Filmmakers know all the tricks like getting the right music and making the cars look beautiful even disintegrating after pranging in Turn 3. Good thing the real story happening off the appears to have been as equally able to hold the viewer’s interest. A worthy rental…