Least Mode: The Unofficial Official Super Bowl XLIX Timeline

5th February 2015 by admin No Comments

For those of you who are fans of sports, commercials, controversy, halftime shows, fistfights, and all of the other things that go into a Super Bowl, my annual award-winning* Super Bowl Timeline is up now at ProjectShanks.com, featuring lines like…

9:57pm – The Seahawks get a miracle catch to get the ball down inside the Patriots five yard line, where they will surely give the ball to the unstoppable Marshawn Lynch for the go-ahead touchdown!

10:00pm – Ha-HA! Just kidding. The Seahawks make the worst offensive decision since Hitler thought he could beat Russia on their home turf in winter. The Patriots intercept the ball.

Check it out, kids.

* Theoretical awards only, there is not yet an award for “Best Smart-ass.”



Why “Free” Is Still A Great Deal For Everybody

27th December 2014 by admin No Comments
The Great Texas Trailer Park Escape

The Great Texas Trailer Park Escape

I had a friend ask me why I was excited about my book (“The Great Texas Trailer Park”) being offered for free for Christmas.

Quick plug, yes, free. You can get my book for free for another day or so here, as well as 20 other books from great horror writers like John Paul Allen, Sara Brooke, Neal Barrett Jr., Monica J. O’Rourke, and many others. Also, a free book from some guy named Neil Gaiman. Never heard of him. He sounds Canadian, or something. Click here for the link, and download all of them for free while they last.

Now, back to my point.

How can I make it as a writer when my book is free for a couple of days? It’s a logical question. When you get something from an artist for free, it’s hopefully a part of a long-term arrangement.

By the way, I’m using the word “artist” to mean anyone who creates. I’m not putting all of us on the same level. I look at some of the authors who are also on that page of free books, and I consider my own writing abilities, and it just makes me want to go sit in a corner and eat a bag of candy. I use the term generically, and without judgment.

For an example, my book sells for $2.99. For me to sell enough copies of my book to live my desired life of a riverboat gambler, I’d have to sell a copy to every man, woman, and child in the greater Dallas area. And I’ve been up there often, and I can assure you, many of those people don’t get my jokes.

The point of writing my first book was to keep writing, and build an audience. At this point in my career, I’d just like more people to read my books, hopefully enjoy them, and come back for the next one. Giving away a book for free if it creates a relationship with a new reader is an investment in the future.

So please, go ahead and download my book while it’s still free. And get the rest too, especially if you’re a fan of horror, because there are some really strong books on that page.

Just remember, you got the book for free from the author, and if you enjoy it, there are a couple of things you can do to help them in gratitude for providing you with free (or even low cost) entertainment.

First and foremost, if you like it, tell someone. A quick tweet or post on Facebook will do wonders, especially if you’ve got friends with similar interests. If you have friends without similar interests, well, you have really weird friends but they still might enjoy my book. Remember wearing a t-shirt from your favorite indy band? Same principle, but better fashion sense.

If you like the writer, follow them. I’ve got a writer’s page on Facebook  where I’ll be moving all of my random comedy bits after the start of the year. If you “like” my FB posts or my tweets, then like my new page so you don’t miss any of it. And better yet, share my page with your friends. If you think I’m funny, hopefully they will too. The best way to advertise is through word of mouth, so if you read something you like, let your friends know. Every connection made helps an author expand their reach, and creates another potential fan.

Also, leave a review. When you like something you’ve read from an author, please go to Amazon, B&N.com, and Smashwords, and leave them a positive review. Stats show 83% of people will at least glance at the reviews on a book from a new author before they buy it.

By the way, stats also show that I make up a lot of stats, and I always use 83% as my default percentage. Still, it’s vitally important.

If you like the new Lee Child “Jack Reacher” novel (I did), leaving a review for it would be nice, but not necessary. That book had already sold 47 billion copies by the time they finished printing it. Word of mouth doesn’t make that much of a difference to something that’s already in the front window of Barnes & Noble.

On the other hand, small press and indy authors need your love. “The Great Texas Trailer Park Escape” has 22 five-star reviews, and believe me, I appreciate every single one of them. The fact people not only have bought my work but enjoyed it? That makes me feel awesome.

When you create art of any kind, whether it’s writing, art, music, comedy, whatever, you create it in a vacuum. No matter how much you workshop it, take it to writers’ groups, and get feedback, there’s still a huge leap of faith involved in finishing it and throwing it out there for public consumption.

It’s like having a baby that you know the world won’t hesitate to point and call ugly. Thank God there’s no Amazon reviews for infants. Yet.

I’m pleased with getting my royalty checks from Biting Dog Press, don’t get me wrong. I’m even more pleased that people like my work, and are interested in coming back for the next book. That’s the goal.

So by all means, go ahead and download my book while you can. Grab some of the others too, and see if you like them. If so, let the authors know, and tell a friend or two.

Enjoy!



The Rundown

19th November 2014 by admin No Comments

My morning run was especially exhilarating today!

Since it’s 19°, that run was to the bathroom and back to bed. Which is the most rewarding exercise I’ve had in a while.



Winter’s Boner

16th November 2014 by admin No Comments

10389284_10152912005121554_4443874567358025410_nAccording to the forecast, it’s going to start snowing here about five o’clock, and continue through May.

Sugartit Sunday morning coming down, my friends.



Low Society

9th November 2014 by admin No Comments

Since I don’t really know anyone in Cincinnati, I joined a county-wide Facebook group. After one week of listening to them, I’ve decided that instead of cheering for the Reds or Bengals, I’m just going to root for meth lab explosions.



Reid’s Writing Tips

15th September 2014 by admin No Comments

While hanging out on Twitter today (at @ReidAboutIt, of course), I saw some other writer handing out some #WritingTips. I felt like the world should have the benefit of my vast lack of knowledge, and since my jeans were in the wash and I had time, I thought I’d hammer out a few of my rules for newbies.

These are 100% guaranteed to work, although please remember that guarantee is not legally backed up in any way, shape, or form.

  • Remember, backstory and context are important to establish for characters, so always start your book with a murder spree at a family reunion.
  • Try not to write things that make people wonder what’s on TV.
  • If you use social media solely to harass people to buy your book, you risk shunning, plus getting punched in the taint.
  • Non-paying gigs can really help you with exposure, which is what you’ll die of when you’re broke and living under a bridge.
  • If your intro sucks, feel free to use “I was dreaming when I wrote this, forgive me if it goes astray.”
  • Literary agents generally prefer to find their own clients. But not in their backyards, holding a hatchet.
  • Getting a high Google ranking is important for sales, so play it safe and name your book’s romantic interest “Google.”
  • Sometimes it helps to get away from your work while editing, so don’t be afraid to bury it in the back yard for a few days while you go get drunk.
  • If you’re running short on a word count, drop a few dozen “very’s” in there. Editors very love that stuff.
  • You can learn a lot from negative reviews of your work, including which pills you can mix with alcohol and still live.
  • Asking social media followers to retweet things for you often is like asking them to pick you up at the airport. Every day.

– Reid Kerr would like to remind you his comedy novel, “The Great Texas Trailer Park Escape” is available for the low low price of $2.99 at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com.



How To Lose Me In Three Days, Cable TV Edition

21st August 2014 by admin No Comments
Time Warner Cable keeps trying to send a strange guy over to stick this in me.

Time Warner Cable keeps trying to send a strange guy over to stick this in me.

I’ve been without cable/satellite for about five months. With Hulu/Netflix/Amazon Prime/Crackle I didn’t miss it at all, but since I still have a gig as a football writer, I needed to get some kind of television for the NFL/college football season.

I have two options, basically, Time Warner Cable or DirecTV. I loved having DirecTV, never had any problems with the service (or customer service), but it requires a two-year contract, and I would prefer to be able to turn it back off again after football season. So that meant even though it’s a bit more expensive, I went with Time Warner Cable.

Monday afternoon, I talked online with a TWC rep and got their best offer. I told them if I got the service, I’d take the option to install the equipment myself (for free, as opposed to the $39 install charge), which they said was fine. I told them I was going to compare that to some other offers and get back to them. The rep said okay, she’d put this offer in my file and it would be there if I came back for it.

Monday night, I get a call from TWC to confirm my appointment for Tuesday afternoon for installation. Which I never signed up for. Or wanted. Or would have accepted, even if I had agreed to get cable.

I told them no, then held on the line to speak to an actual person. I explained the problem, she apologized profusely and told me she’d take care of it.

Monday night again, I get a second call from TWC asking me to take a survey on my recent interactions. Oh, you betcha, Time Warner Cable.

Tuesday afternoon, I get a call from TWC, from a guy with a connection so bad, it sounds like he’s calling me from a pay phone in 1977. He wants to know about the survey, and what they did wrong. I politely tell him, and he again apologizes profusely. He tells me there’s another package I could sign up for that might be cheaper. I can’t really make out what he’s saying, because it sounds like he’s on a party line phone in Warsaw, and he’s mumbling like Mitch Hedberg after a bender. I tell him I’m busy, but I’d love to hear about this plan later on a better connection. I tell him to call me Wednesday morning and I’ll listen, and he agrees.

Spoiler Alert: I never hear from him again.

Then, Tuesday afternoon about two hours after the previous contact I get another phone call. Yep, from Time Warner. At this point, Time Warner would make up most of my Friends and Family plan. It’s another rep, wanting to ask me about my service. I was honest with her, and she apologized profusely, which is apparently a freshman level class at TWC-School. She says they’re sorry for the miscommunication(s) and it won’t happen again.

Wednesday night, I decide to go with TWC anyway, since even though they’ve already shown themselves to be bafflingly incompetent at listening to me, there’s no long-term contract. What the Hell, I say. At least if they suck, I can cancel. And at this point, there’s not more than a 40% chance of that.

I go online again, chat with a representative, and get set up. I set up my cable package, featuring 200 quality channels! Except that at least 180 of them are not of any quality whatsoever and will never be watched, so they might as well be showing Who’s The Boss reruns all day. I get a price that’s ridiculous but cancelable after football, and tell them I want to do my own installation again. The rep double-checks everything with me, I ask a million questions to make sure there’s nothing I’m forgetting, and I’m signed on. I ask the rep for the closest office to pick up the equipment on Thursday, she looks it up and tells me everything I need to get hooked up, and I’m on my way to being a cable subscriber again.

And then, Thursday morning at 7:45am, I get a call from a Time Warner installer to confirm my appointment to have cable installed. Again.

To begin with, what the Hell is wrong with a company that offers phone service, but every time you talk to them their phone lines sound like you’re calling an underground bunker somewhere? If I got a phone call from Hell, I feel pretty sure there would be a better connection there, and the person on the other end of the line boiling in a lake of fire would at least be enunciating better than TWC’s reps.

After making the guy repeat his orders four times to make sure I understood him, I tell him in no uncertain terms that I don’t want him to come over. I don’t want him to install cable. I don’t want him to bring me coffee. I don’t want him to stand at the foot of my driveway with a jambox playing “In Your Eyes.” I just want him to stay the &%$# away from me before I wake up with him at the end of my bed, sharpening a knife and asking me “Is it safe?”

We hang up. Twenty minutes later, I get yet another (another) call from TWC to ask why I didn’t want the service call. Well, because I never wanted it, TWC. You’re getting kind of date-rapey on me. I feel like Time Warner Cable is just driving past my house all night, listening to “Goodbye Horses” and waiting for a chance to toss me into the pit TWC keeps in its basement.

At this point, Time Warner Cable has tried to send more strange guys over to my house than Craigslist. I just want football, TWC. Not a soulmate.

Time Warner Cable won’t be ignored, Reid. I’m headed off to make sure my bunny is still okay.

Against my better judgment, I went by Time Warner Cable and got the cable box to hook it up myself, only to find that their crack tech staff couldn’t activate it. The tech help was as clueless as a caveman, at one point telling me that my TV was on the wrong input, even though I was seeing the Time Warner Cable screen, just no programming. She tried to fix it, asked me to do things that my cable box wasn’t apparently capable of doing, and then right at 5:00pm, told me that I’d have to take my cable box back to the TWC office and get a new one, which is now impossible because everything closes at five. Whoops! Imagine that.

Continue the apologizing profusely.

Then TWC called me back with yet another automated phone call to ask my opinion on their service. I rated them somewhere between Hiroshima and a swift kick in the crotch.

The next day I returned and got another box, and another round of apologizing profusely. Hooked it up, and it doesn’t work either. After TWC’s reps were clueless again, I figured out that my house’s cable wiring may not actually be hooked up, which is something that neither of the two TWC tech help people could tell, despite their ability to look right into my cable box to tell if I ordered a PPV of “Emmanuelle Gives A Handy.”

So I waited, mostly patiently, for Monday to come. All I wanted to do was watch a football game, and now, I just want to throw my TV out the window.

Sunday, I get two more calls from TWC, and I realize I have spoken to Time Warner Cable more in the last week than I have any of my family members in the last year.

Monday morning, they call yet again, and a rep wants to confirm that I have an appointment with them today to have my internet installed.

No, Chester. I already have internet with you, and have had so for about two years. Please don’t install more internet on top of that.

He’s confused, and has to ask me again what I’m installing, what problems I’m having, which service it involves, where I live, what my favorite Rocky movie is, if I think Ryan Reynolds is a good actor, and all sorts of other things vital to my account. He finally confirms that yes, the thing I confirmed three times already is indeed confirmed.

And so Monday at one, they call again to verify that I am there, and I do indeed exist. I confirm, and we’re ready!

For what, I have no idea. I’ve spent a week trying to get a major cable company to hook up cable at my house. I’m the one trying (desperately) to get service from TWC, patiently answering the phones as they ring over and over again with stuff I didn’t ask for, and correcting them politely every time, and filling out their phone surveys time and again to try and get them to improve their business so they don’t show up at my house to try and hook up a landline, or a cuisinart, or track lighting, or a telegram outpost, or whatever. It’s my time they’re wasting, and I’ve taken it because I still desperately need football.

I realize that if I had another option that wouldn’t make me sign a two-year contract, I’d take it. It eventually dawns on me that cable companies gain their power Walmart style, by being the only available option. It’s a good racket, I guess, so now I get to see whether or not TWC can actually do this without pissing me off so badly I just throw them out, and go without.

Finally, TWC sends a guy out somewhere close to the time they were supposed to, switched the wires, sent the tone, and everything was fine. I had TWC for about a week before the sound on my cable box disappeared.

And now, my TV sounds like this. Metaphorically speaking, I mean.

Sometimes, my TV sounds like this. Metaphorically speaking, I mean.

Yep, just vanished.

Picture was fine, but no sound. I call TWC, they tell me it’ll be fixed soon and they’ll call when it is. Late that afternoon, I get an automated call from Time Warner Cable that tells me that the service problem in my area is fixed!

Except it isn’t. Still no sound. I called TWC after that for help. They tried to reset my box twice. Then unplugged it. Then called in a faith healer. Then they told me it’s not working, and they don’t know what’s wrong with it, so I’ll need to take it down to the service center and get another one. That will make my third trip to the TWC Service Center in less than two weeks. I’m thinking of moving my bank and laundry to something in that area, since it looks like I’ll be going there more than to my mailbox.

The TWC rep does tell me if I’d like, I can plug my cable straight into my TV to watch basic channels, although they’re certainly not going to stop charging me for the channels that are now silent. She also says if I leave my TV alone for a half hour or so, the sound might come back on.

Amazingly, ignoring it and hoping it comes around like some kind of wayward child does nothing to make it work.

Time Warner Cable, I really tried. I’ve patiently answered your phone calls, I went to your service centers three times to pick up three different models of cable box and remotes, and I’ve tried hard not to throw your crappy equipment in the river. I did everything I could to give you my business, and you just kept redoubling your efforts to lose it. Well done, corporate monolith.

Two weeks after getting my service turned on, I went back to DirecTV.

 

 



Robin Williams & Depression

11th August 2014 by admin No Comments

New column up at Project Shanks.com, on Robin Williams, depression, and a confession of my own. I had a lot of trouble dealing with the death of Robin Williams, and I had to eventually realize it went far beyond just being a fan of the man since I was seven.

Check it out here.



Sixteen Candles of Sexual Dysfunction

17th June 2014 by admin 4 Comments

JakeRyan01Watched the 80’s classic movie “Sixteen Candles” last night. Found this conversation between Anthony Michael Hall’s Geek and the dreamboat Jake Ryan mildly jarring.

JAKE RYAN: I can get a piece of ass anytime I want. Shit, I’ve got Caroline in the bedroom right now, passed out cold. I could violate her ten different ways if I wanted to.
FARMER TED: (choking) What are you waiting for?

Ah, 1984. That was back when date-rape was funny, I guess. It’s like remembering that Nick Nolte’s character in “48 Hours” was hilarious, and then seeing the movie again and noticing he’s more than just an eentsy-bit racist.

– Reid Kerr doesn’t even want to start on “The Donger.”



The Revolution Will Not Be Syrup-ized

19th April 2014 by admin No Comments

Eating at a nice brunch place (that is neither a house of waffles nor pancakes). My waitress has a machine gun tattooed on her bicep. And not in a “Welcome to the gun show, ha-ha” sort of way. It’s more of a line-drawing, “Viva la revolucion” kind of thing, which makes me scared to ask. She may be taking up arms against the harsh and unfair syrup rules imposed by Obamacare.



100 Words: The Gentle Ballad of the Local News Anchor

2nd April 2014 by admin No Comments

She’s famous.

Everyone knows her. She’s on your television every night, smiling and reading you the daily news.

It’s a burden being famous. That’s why she’s comes here to this cafe and sits outside afternoons. She’ll smile and be feaux-bashful about being recognized, but that’s her job. She hates the publicity, though.

So why isn’t anyone noticing her yet? Guess she’ll order another coffee.



Indirect TV: The Satellite Battle

27th March 2014 by admin No Comments

Quick background, I’m cancelling my satellite service with DirecTV. It’s actually not because of any problems I have with the service, it’s just that…well, TV sucks these days, so I’m cutting the cord for a while. I cancelled my service for mid-March, which was the day my contract ended. DirecTV shut everything down early so I called to complain, then they told me I was actually paid for through the end of the month. After that, it certainly seemed like I was charged for the rest of the month anyway, so I sent them an email. This is the third or fourth go-round with them, after a series of confusing emails.

(Disclaimer: This actually happened.DirecTV)

Bernadette (probably not her real name), I appreciate you getting back to me. Let me make sure I have this correct:

1) I call DirecTV and request that you cancel my service as of 3/19/14, which is the day my current contract expires. Your representatives get that taken care of for me, and never mention anything else about my bill other than I’ll be billed for this later, and my service will be shut off at midnight on the 19th. Sounds good, and so I make plans to finish watching everything on my DVR by then. I’ve been a DirecTV customer for years and never had any problems with you guys, and would certainly consider using you again in the future.

2) On 3/19/14 I try and watch things on my DVR, which shuts off at about 10pm Eastern time. I call up to see what happened, since this isn’t what you told me. Your representative (Linda, perhaps?) apologizes, and offers to turn my service back on for the night so I can finish watching my shows I had DVR’ed. She looks at my account and tells me that I’m actually paid up through 4/3/14, and she can turn my service back on until then since I’m already paid if I’d like. Two things here, I’m growing quickly frustrated with Linda, who appears to speak English in a manner reminiscent of Yoda, and she’s in no hurry to get my service turned back on so I can watch the last two episodes of “Justified” before my DVR goes away again at midnight. Secondly, she’s telling me that I’ve actually already paid through the end of the month, so it won’t really matter if I continue my service until then. Since that’s easier than trying to get a refund, I agreed. So she got my service started again, and I would just keep it until 4/3/14 when both parties end the deal and walk away happily.

3) Until I log into my account, and see that somehow I owe you $35 again. And since your bill is about as easy to read as a VCR manual written in Farsi, I have no idea where that charge comes from, if it’s current, or what it covers.

So even though I tried to cancel my service with you last week and your representative told me everything was square through the end of the month, I owe you $35 for what amounts to me extending my service to cover what you told me I had already paid for? This basically amounts to me paying $35 because you shut off my DVR early, and I wanted to watch those last two episodes of “Justified.” Which is a bit steep. I wouldn’t pay $35 to have Timothy Olyphant come to my house with a local Readers Theater group to act those out.

Am I correct on all of these points? And Do I know owe you $35 to shut my account off on 4/3/14? Would there be an extra charge if I just took your satellite out and shot it? Just asking for a friend.
It took them a while, but eventually DirecTV decided the best way to handle me was in a non-text form. They called and explained, and I don’t actually owe them anything. Probably. They still weren’t certain, but at least they were polite about it.

– Reid Kerr recalls the time the cable company sent a shirtless man to his house and hook up his wiring, which sounds like a gay porno movie but isn’t.