by RIP RENSE
AN LTSEWH. . .LTSWEH*
Aug. 30, 2007
want to go to the trouble of getting a truck to run over my legs, or
an editor to ruin my life, so I wrote a book.
You know the book. You
see the ad for it on the right---“Less Than Satisfying Encounters With
Humanity” (LTSEWH), based on my long-standing column of the same
(deliberately) stupid name.
But this is not a cheap
plug. I am writing with sheer stupefaction, incredulity. You know when
Yosemite Sam gets
brained with a big hammer, and his head turns into about eight vibrating
Yosemite Sams for a minute? That’s me.
LTSEWH the illustrated book,
the "best" LTSEWH's dating back to the L.A. Times 15 years ago(!),
turned out to be a mutant, pustule-ridden, halitosis-blasting LTSEWH unto
I mean, drop some damn
bricks on me. Force me to watch “Oprah” 48 hours straight. Make me ride
with a woman driver on a cell phone. Pay Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan to
give me tongue kisses. (Aieeee!) Set me in the stall next to Sen. Craig.
All are preferable to
what I went through to get this book done.
You think I embellish?
Consider this alone: at
one point, the manuscript for LTSEWH---finished one year ago---was
kidnapped and held for ransom. Really.
There I was. . .
Asking a friend for a
recommendation for someone who was graphics-savvy. In other words,
somebody who could lay the book out, because the idea of me learning a new
software program is not much different from Stephen Hawking entering the decathalon.
“I know a good guy,” said
my friend, and before I knew it, I was meeting with Good Guy at a café.
He seemed all right,
affable enough, and wore a nice hat, which impressed me. I decided to
overlook the tattoos on his arms that looked like he came out second in a
nasty fight with a chicken, and the too-restrained speaking style. I also overlooked the
design work he brought along to dazzle me. It dazzled, all right. Looked
like something doodled and pasted up by a high school kid with guns in his
locker. Naturally, I hired him.
There was this whole
rigamarole for a few weeks about how the cover, inside layout, and 500
copies would cost me five-thousand U.S. (cough, hack) dolares, and
how I might be able to afford that if I spent the next ten years asking for
spare change. . .and how, well, he might be able to do it for $3000. . .and
how I couldn’t afford $3000 if my cat’s life depended on it. . .and how,
well, he might be able to do it for less. . .and. . . . .
how he was going to make
some calls and see what he could do, and. . .
In the end, he
suggested I do a docutech book on my own, and he would lay out the
manuscript for $150. Translation: his $5000 chump turned out to be a
freelance writer. For those unfamiliar with the definition of a freelance
writer, I believe Webster’s includes the word, “desititute” in the
description. Translation of docutech: fancier than handwriting.
Six weeks later---no
eight weeks later---no, twelve weeks later? Enough time for
humans-to-evolve-out-of-toes later, after many e-mail inquiries, and many
excuses about computers that sang, danced, did strip-teases, but seldom
processed information, Good Guy agreed to meet with me to show me the work
he had done “so far.”
So far? We’re talking 230
pages here, not The Bible. Pick the type face, set the page numbers, size
the art, plug it in, and zip-zam, you’re done. Right?
Man, I should have known
there was something wrong when this guy repeatedly used the phrase, “You
stated that. . .” Stated? What was this, implied legalese? Who says
"stated?" Stated? Never trust anyone who says “stated.”
There I was. . .
Meeting again with Good Guy.
He showed me the work, which at least it looked kind of like a book,
and was two-thirds finished. I suggested rearranging the illustrations a little,
gave him a couple new ones, and hoped maybe he would complete the thing by,
That night I went to a graveyard and swung a dead cat around my head
three times, and spat over my left shoulder.
Several more weeks and
pathetic, obsequious “how’s it goin’?” e-mails from me elicited. . .not
much. At this point I found someone to do the cover, who shall here be named
Joan of Arc, in honor of her heroic aid and sacrifice on my behalf. Well,
for reasons that are now as fuzzy as George W. Bush’s palms, Joan and Good
Guy had some e-mail back-and-forth about the software programs being used in order to
coordinate blah blah blah, and. . .
Joan made it pretty clear
to me that Good Guy had little idea what he was doing, or at least little
interest in what he was doing. Then Good Guy made it clear to me that he
didn’t have time to work on LTSEWH anymore, but somehow---you guessed
it---he wanted more money!
to do a job for $150, didn’t finish the job, but now you’ll have to give me
another $150 in order to receive the unfinished job!
Somehow, that sounds
about right in The United States of Halliburton.
I fired off a rather
blunt e-mail to him. I did not quite use the word, “crook.”
It was at that point that
I finally made a few calls and learned that Good Guy had oh, a wee bit of a
problem with the bottle, with the grape, with the libation of Bacchus, and that if you um, irked him, he made a
point of not letting you forget it. For quite a while.
Yowzah! Around my house,
we call this sort of thing, "Rense Luck."
Here I had hired someone
to work on a book, and had gotten a potential item for the police blotter. I
promptly apologized to Good Guy---who I must say maintained his “likeable”
persona---and stated that he would meet with me again. Funny
thing---he refused to do anything by mail. Maybe he was afraid of Anthrax.
In the end, I paid him
and his chicken the ransom and got my manuscript back---he was into me
for a few hundred bucks---then turned the whole thing over to Joan of Arc.
Phew? Not quite. Joan spent weeks redoing Good Guy’s work, then added
the extra illustrations and made proofreading corrections. Fixing Good Guy’s
“work” cost me another four of five hundred bucks, and polishing the
whole thing brought the total investment to about a grand.
Break even? Moi?
Then there’s the cover.
Joan created what I
thought was a magnificent cover, based on my vague suggestions, utilizing
two of the illustrations of my friend James Ferrigno (who does the marvelous
Dr. Wazoo comic on this site.) But my brother,
Jeff, the famous and remarkable founder and host of
Rense.com, thought the book needed a funnier
look. So he commissioned his resident artist,
David Dees, to come up with
something that turned out to be so utterly arrestingly schizophrenically
knee-slapping that I would have been a fool to refuse it. Well, okay, more of a
fool. Net result:
One book, two covers!
Reminds me of the
immortal line of the late great televangelist, Dr. Howard C. Estep: “Hell is
a bottomless pit---two tops, no bottom.”
Yes, I could have just
junked the first cover, but that would be the same as taking five
C-notes and using them for Kleenex. Besides, I like the first cover!
Instead, I decided to offer the book with the original front in a
limited edition of 50
signed by Ferrigno and
me, and the fabulous Dees cover as the
If you think resolving
this---among the several computers involved, and then uploading everything to
easy, then you probably think Jesus is coming to Atlanta. (Oh, wait---the
Mormons believe that, don’t they. . .) No, there were all sorts of medieval
devices, catapults, chants, spells, tantrums, and not a little voodoo
required to get the covers in shape for publication---you know, converting
them to pdfs and bfds and hpbs and tcbs, and fixing their spines and
Okay, folks, I’ll cut you
some slack here. Getting into the nuts and bolts of the rest of this LTSEWH
would be taking unfair advantage. You'll have to settle for the gist,
which is plenty thrilling enough:
I decided to (gasp)
rewrite the manuscript to better fit the wonderfully insane tone of the
Dees cover, which meant I had to edit a pdf file, but because I cannot edit
a pdf file on my computer, I had to ask Joan of Arc to input the changes, but Joan would have had to charge me another $60 an hour, which would
probably have doubled the cost of the book, so instead I prevailed upon my
neighbor, Syb, who has the proper software and many cats, but who for some
reason couldn't edit a pdf, so I had to get Joan to get me the original
file, and ask Syb to convert it to a pdf---but then the new pdf turned up
with the front pages out of order, and about seven blank pages in the back,
so. . .I had to unpublish the existing LTSEWH at Lulu.com, then to go back
to Syb and watch her figure all this pdf BS out (pant pant), which she did,
but then the new new new latest model 2007 pdf showed up, for some reason,
with the front pages still screwed up, and I’ll probably have to send it
back to Joan of Arc tonight, and. . .
I could get behind
book-burning right about now.
blessings. I left out the “War and Peace”-length saga of adding the two
versions of the book to the Rip Post
Bookstore, which took about two days. And then there were my repeated
attempts to figure out the importance of an ISBN number, and whether adding
one would mean that Lulu.com would start selling the book at Amazon.com (it
which I don’t want to happen because that means all my profits go the way
of. . .
The remains of my brain.
For more LTSEWH’s, watch
this space---and read the book!
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