General

The Art of Selfishness

In THE ART OF SELFISHNESS, author David Seabury talks, fundamentally, about the difference between what we’ll call productive selfishness and destructive selfishness. And after reading his book, and talking about with some folks about it, I believe that understanding those differences–and then acting accordingly–can have a remarkable positive impact on ours lives.

Productive Selfishness: Let’s say a friend asks you to help him move. He’s a pretty good friend, and you really want to help him out. You’re not necessarily excited about moving furniture, but you figure it’s the kind of thing your friend would do for you if the situations were reversed.

But truth is, you’re physically tired from a long couple of weeks at work. You’ve been feeling pretty run down lately and it’s been getting worse, and you just need a weekend to yourself to recuperate. You also feel that if you exert yourself now, you may take a legitimate turn for the worse. So you tell your friend that you won’t be able to help him move.

And then he guilts you. “Come on, dude. Help me out. You know I’d totally help you. It’ll only take a few hours. Otherwise I’ll be at this all day by myself or it’ll cost me a fortune to hire movers.”

So what should you do? The answer is, it depends. But I think Seabury would argue that while you might feel on some level that helping your friend is a good thing to do–that you’re being a good friend–if it compromises your well-being or your values to a degree that would be more harmful to you than it would be helpful to your friend, then you should say no, even if your friend gives you grief about it. This is an example of productive selfishness.

Of course, every situation is different; there’s no one size fits all. We need to consider all factors and then make the best decision we can.

But I think that we have been conditioned over the generations to often let guilt dictate our actions, and to worry about what other people will think about us. Far too often we put what other people want ahead of what’s best for us. We compromise our values, thinking that we’re doing so for a good reason. And sometimes making a sacrifice is the right thing to do. It can be difficult to know what the best decision is. But I think it’s extremely important that we understand–and legitimately believe–that saying no is an absolutely acceptable option. Knowing when to say no is the tricky part.

It’s something I’ve struggled with for many, many years, especially when I was younger. I’ve gotten a far better handle on it now, but it can still be a tough one for me. And being a dad now, I can only image what’s coming.

Destructive Selfishness: Here’s a true story. When I was in college my fraternity (don’t judge) had a spaghetti lunch one weekend. We held it at my apartment. Basically, we just made mounds of pasta and had a meal together. To accompany our pasta, we also bought a couple of bags of garlic bread that you heat up in the broiler. Naturally, everybody wanted a piece, and there was only so much to go around.

One guy who, we’ll call Fred, was first in line in the kitchen (sort of no surprise there). So I served him up a plate of spaghetti, and put a piece of garlic bread on his plate. And then he grabbed another one. When I told him that it was only one to a customer, he got aggressive with me. I told him to put one piece back. We argued. Finally, he walked away with only piece.

Had there been far more bread than people, I wouldn’t have cared that he took another piece of bread. But he knew there was only enough bread for each person to get one piece. He knew that, and tried to take a second piece anyway.

Nothing good came from Fred’s selfishness here. Had he taken two pieces, then someone else wouldn’t have gotten any. And even though he ultimately put the second piece back, his selfishness, and then his subsequent attempts to justify his selfishness, added stress to what was supposed to be a fun day, and also demonstrated that he was far more interested in what he wanted than in being equitable. Beyond that, trying to scam a second piece of garlic bread is just so petty that it inherently lowers the quality of the experience on its face.

This is destructive selfishness.  Fred thought only of himself–and acted accordingly–in a way that was harmful to others, and, really, to himself.

Overall, I’d say I’ve done a fairly good job over the years of descerning when and where to be productive selfishness, but life has a funny way of reminding me that I’ll be tested every day on this one, and that the moment I think I’ve got it licked is the day I’ll get it wrong.

(note: the original version of this blog ran January 23, 2007).

Russ’ Review: The Good Wife – Season 2

Coming off an inconsistent — and in my opinion — overrated season 1, I was still mildly optimistic heading into the sophomore season of The Good Wife. With the wrap of season 2, I can now call myself a convert. The show is still prone to some goofy and unnecessary plotting, but season 2 was a satisfying ride that got better and better as it went along. The Good Wife is now, essentially, Grey’s Anatomy, but this time that action centers on a few Chicago lawyers, with good looking people doing naughty things while trying, with varying degrees of success, to retain their occasionally questionable souls.

What Works: Once again, the chemistry between the characters rules the day. Having made the very wise choice to abandon some of the “procedural” aspects of the show in favor of the juicy characters, The Good Wife became far more focused and driven, delivering generally excellent performances all around. The will-they-or-won’t-they between Julianna Marguiles’ Alicia Florek and (personal favorite) Josh Charles’ Will Gardner was there all season, while Chris Noth’s possibly reformed Peter Florek ran for re-election for State’s Attorney while also trying to reclaim his family. Alan Cumming as campaign manager Eli Gold was a welcomed presence of sometimes icky wisdom, humor and, in a very strange way, humanity. And the always mysterious Kalinda as the law firm’s investigator hit new highs (or lows, depending on how you look at it), pushing Alicia to the point of deciding once and for all whether she really is “The Good Wife.”

What Doesn’t: The legal plots are still boiler plate. The death row inmate looking for a last-minute pardon? The unscrupulous insurance company? Ho-hum. Been there, done that. And despite the quick pace of the episodes, the cases get resolved way too fast, challenging their credibility. One of my biggest pet peeves comes in the form of the “quirky” judges, which seems utterly implausible. One? Maybe. But almost every judge seems like a cartoon character with bizarrely exaggerated traits, which is painful to watch when the show is based on, in theory, the real-world legal system. The show also struggles to keep Alicia’s children in the mix, forcing her son’s very bad and unlikable/sorta girlfriend into the frame, just to stir up trouble.

Final Thoughts: As a popcorn show, The Good Wife is a tasty treat. There’s no high art here, just a pulpy, semi-trashy workplace drama that mixes law, politics, family, sex and love, and for the most part leaves the viewer wanting more at the end of each episode. The Good Wife looks good, moves fast and is littered with quality actors who bring layers to their roles. I still hold out hope the silliness will dissipate in coming seasons, but even if not, The Good Wife is addictive, watchable TV that I look forward to week in and week out.

Season 2 Score: 8 Stars out of 10

Douglas Adams, Christopher Moore and … Russ Colchamiro?

I’m always appreciative of kind words about Finders Keepers or my writing in general. In that spirit I’d like to share this intro, from book reviewer Jaime Chambers of Ruled By Books, who had these very kind words for me during our interview, comparing me to two of the best — and best selling — comedy authors of all time:

“I cannot believe that I read and reviewed Finders Keepers by Russ Colchamiro all the way back in June. I still find myself telling friends with a bent sense of humor about this book that had me laughing heartily. It was a well written first novel that, I have to admit, surprised me. Comedy writing in any form is hard to do well. The intangible stuff that makes people laugh can be hard to grasp and even harder to deliver. There are only a handful of comedic authors that I enjoy, tops among them being [best-selling authors] Douglas Adams and Christopher Moore. After reading Finders Keepers, I was happy to add Russ Colchamiro to that list.”

 
   Click the link below to read the full interview: http://www.ruledbybooks.com/author-interview-with-russ-colchamiro/

Author Interview with Russ Colchamiro … with a Zombie Twist

Ruled By Books reviewer Jaime Chambers interviewed me about my novel Finders Keepers, advice for new writers, and thoughts on my latest project, Crossline.

Plus … final thoughts on what I’d read if I had time to kill on my way to becoming a zombie.

 
Here’s the link:

http://www.ruledbybooks.com/author-interview-with-russ-colchamiro/

My Pavlovian Batman Response

One day after school, I was only in pre-K at the time, and I was on my way home on the bus. The day was slightly overcast, but I didn’t care. I only had one thing on my mind: get back in time to watch my favorite show.

Do you remember the theme song?

Denna-nenna neh
Denna-nenna neh
Batmaaaaan

It was the cheesy POW! OOF! Adam West Batman, and I freakin’ loved it.

But in one of those rare scheduling snafus, when the bus driver was set to drop me off at the stop, my mom wasn’t there.

 Not good.

 We waited a minute, but then had to move on. More stops to make.

 I didn’t say much, I just sat there on the bus, four years old, not sure what to do. Since this was 1975, in a world before cell phones, the driver took me with him to his other stops, and each time those doors opened and closed—farther from home—I had two thoughts: where’s Mommy and … I’M MISSING BATMAN!!!!!!!!

 Of course, as an adult, the new incarnations of Batman are far more sophisticated than the original show. Michael Keaton’s first Batman movie put the Caped Crusader back on the map. The sequel, Batman Returns, was lousy. And despite its flaws, I enjoyed the Val Kilmer-led Batman Forever, and then the movie franchise just collapsed with the final (and awful) Batman & Robin, with George Clooney and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Then the animated Batman returned with a darker, more serious edge, and my hero was back again.

And now we’ve got Batman Begins and epic The Dark Knight from the team of Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan, and Batman is cooler than it’s been, maybe ever. Not to mention The Dark Knight Rises is still on its way.

And yet … as my mother often reminds me, when I was that young boy, no matter where I was or what I was doing, as soon I heard that theme song, I would stop whatever I was doing … and freeze.

My eyes would just light up as I heard:

Denna-nenna neh
Denna-nenna neh
Batmaaaaan

 

With a Pavlovian response, to this day, I’m no different.

Funny how some things never change. In this case, I’m totally OK with it.

Batman lives on.

And by the way, on that day back in 1975, the bus driver circled back to my stop, my mom was waiting for me, and I was able to catch the second half of Batman, with action in the Bat Cave, which, of course, was better than not seeing it all.

NY Comic-Con 2011: Nugget Man, Batchicks and Chicken Fett

The NY Comic-Con was its usual array of spectacle and madness. I was there for the Friday showing, and despite the pure overwhelm of the event, I found it to be much better organized than in years past and easier to navigate.

As always, I was there to promote Finders Keepers and see the gang. I hung out with partners in crime (and Zoomies creator) Rich Henn and Crossline editor James Chambers, and stopped by the booth of Terry Moore, who signed his latest paperback editions of Echo for me.

The big attractions I saw were a Q&A about the new Avengers movie, and a long line for the Walking Dead comic, tied into the AMC show.

Also where I was there, here are a few fans I picked up along the way:

Holy Batchicks, Batman. This is what crime fighting is all about:

Abracadabra. This magical beauty was all about Finders Keepers:

Only at Comic-Con can you say that Chicken Nugget Dude has joined the fray:

And of course, what would a Comic-Con be without Chicken Fett?

Physically, NY Comic-Con is tough, between the constant blaring of noise, navigating almost 100,000 people, not to mention those convention floors are unforgiving! Maybe I’m just showing my age, but my back is still aching. Invest in some padding carpets! Yikes.

Still, NY Comic-Con was a good show for me, where a good time was had by all. In fact, by night’s end a bunch of us made it up to Heidelberg on 85th Street and 2nd Avenue for some beer and Bratwurst.

And for those of you who missed out last year, here’s a link to my video interview for the debut of Finders Keepers:

https://russcolchamiro.com/interviews/

Russ

Russ’ Newsletter Vol. 5, No. 9 – NY Comic-Con + My Star Trek Connection

Hi Gang-

Hard to believe we’ve got Halloween in our sights, but with the ghoulish holiday coming up, here’s some scary good updates in my adventures in publishing:

* This weekend is the NY Comic-Con. I won’t be taking a table this year, but I’ll be there snapping photos, meeting fans, agents, producers and fellow creators, and of course, knocking back a few cold ones with the guys. I’ll be sure to report back on all the news that’s fit to print.

* OK. It’s major milestone time. Just yesterday I handed off Crossline to my editor, none other than horror, fantasy and suspense writer James Chambers (http://www.jameschambersonline.com/blog/). For those of you unfamiliar with Jim, he’s a writing workhorse, pumping out short stories and novellas seemingly every other day. He’s also one heck of an editor. In fact, in his former life, he once worked as a comic book editor, dealing directly with Spock himself, Leonard Nemoy. Jim also gave me some critical feedback on Finders Keepers, so I know Crossline is in good hands.

Jim should be getting back to me by around mid-December with his feedback, and then I’ll get to work on my latest round of edits.

* In the mean time … I start my prep for the first of two Finders Keepers sequels. I already have the main story mapped out — with a killer ending — and I’ve got notes and such to go through. But for the next two months I’ll be doing a lot of research and reading to make sure that I’ve got the right mojo going when I put on the full court writing press on the sequel in 2012.

* And speaking of Finders Keepers, I’m now in the planning stages for my next round of conventions. The way things are shaping up so far, I’m likely to be doing signings at PhilCon in November, and then Luna-Con and I-Con in the spring of 2012. I’m also looking to add a few more shows to my itinerary, but for now, I’ve got my hands full.

* For those who have been asking, indeed, Finders Keepers is available as an e-book, including through Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as places like ebooks.com and many others. You can find it anywhere e-books are sold, and will work with any e-reader.

* And for this edition’s shout out, click below to read a very cool profile about my good buddy Michael Wolfe, a writer/actor/director/producer, whose debut film Maybe Tomorrow is in post-production:

(http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/movies/2011/10/10/2011-10-10_rego_park_bartender_michael_wolfe_submits_his_film_maybe_tomorrow_to_sundance_fi.html).

Maybe Tomorrow is a character-driven study on the effects of a crime amongst friends that comes back to haunt them later in life. Michael asked for my input on the script, and I can tell you that you’ll be in for an intense 90 minutes or so of movie time when it comes out.

That’s all she wrote for this edition. I’ll be back next month with NY Comic-Con updates plus a few new surprises up my sleeve to share. Until then …

All the Best,

Russ

 

Subway Stories: The Pick and Wipe

OK, so … I’m on the subway heading to work. It’s about 7:30 a.m., and I’m reading the newspaper, just minding my own business. We make a stop, the doors open, which draws my attention.

In the corner there, is a guy, sitting by himself. He’s maybe 25 or so, in jeans a t-shirt and sandals.

And he’s digging.

Yep, he’s a picker.

I’m not saying he should be up to his elbow in a public place, but to quote Seinfeld:

“An’ what if I did do it? Even though I admit to nothing, and never will. What does that make me? And I’m not here just defending myself but all those pickers out there who’ve been caught. Each an’ every one of them, who has to suffer the shame and humiliation …”

Yet my judgment of Mr. Pick isn’t that he did the picking, per se. It’s what he did after the pick.

I don’t know if on that finger he had a nugget, some goo or just general crusties. But I do know that he reached over by his leg, and, presumably thinking he was being sly, wiped his whole hand over the plank next to his seat.

I mean he just smeared it all over.

And then he did it again!

To quote George Costanza in that same episode:

“I guarantee you that Moses was a picker. You wander through the desert for forty years with that dry air. … You telling me you’re not going to have occasion to clean house a little bit.”

The picking, while nasty, is, I suppose, forgivable.

But the wipe?

Hell no.

I just hope the MTA calls in a HAZMAT team to hose down that subway car before anyone else gets back on it.

Russ’ Newsletter: Vol. 5, No. 8 – New Web Site Launch + E-book!

Hey Gang-

Now that we’ve survived tornadoes, earthquakes and hurricanes, I hope you had a festive end to the summer with a joyous Labor Day celebration. As for me, Abby is practically climbing the walls and Nate is venturing out with his first steps, so we’ve got quite the jungle gym going on at our place.

On the writing front, there’s loads of updates to share, so here we go …

* With a new wave of awesomeness in the works, it was time to deliver a new Web site to match. So thanks to the Web stylings of Mike Rende at SiteByMike, welcome to my brand, spanking new web site!

www.russcolchamiro.com

You’ll see that it’s neatly organized, easy to navigate and loaded with all the bells and whistles you’d want, including new reviews of the latest X-Men movie, the new Planet of the Apes and my take on Season 1 of The Good Wife, among others.

Plus ….. you can now buy Finders Keepers directly through my site! So if you want a personalized, signed copy, it’s just one stop and you’re done!

I’ll be making some minor tweaks along the way, but feedback on the new site welcomed and appreciated. 🙂

* Speaking of new stuff … the Finders Keepers e-book is finally out! With the distribution contract I signed it took a little doing to get new files created, but alas … look no more. No matter what device you use, whether Nook, Kindle or Ouija Board, you can order your e-copy of Finders Keepers through Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com and other outlets that will be popping up before too long.

* Believe or not, I’ve already got 2012 on the brain! The end of 2011 and leading into next spring brings an entirely new wave of conventions where I’ll be signing Finders Keepers, so I’m now in the planning stages for my next round of appearances. Check back soon and I’ll have more to share there about that.

* Also on the promotion front, I’m participating in some new Q&As about my crazy trip in the world of book publishing, so I’ll be sharing those as soon as they pop up.

* And now that we’re moving into the cooling air I’m putting the finishing touches on Crossline before I pass it along to my editor extraordinaire, so I’ll be making the hand-off by the end of the month. After that, I’ll finalize the manuscript, get that ready for publication, and then move onto book No. 3.

That’s all she wrote for this edition. Stay tuned for regular updates, be sure to check out my new Web site, and who knows? I may just have another awesome announcement to make before too long …

All the Best!

Russ

 

Russ’ Newsletter​: Vol. 5, No. 7 – The Alaskan Connection + Happy Birthday Nate and Abby

Hey Gang-

Don’t know about you but it’s been a scorcher of a summer on my end. I’ve been full-stop for the past few months on multiple fronts, and to put an amazing cap on the past year, my bundles of joy Nate and Abby celebrate their first birthday next week. It’s been truly amazing to watch and experience. And if the next few … decades are anything like this last year, I cannot wait to see what’s next. Liz and I are truly blessed, and on top of everything else, those kids crack me up! They are freakin’ hilarious.

And with Abby just starting to walk and Nate starting to discover his inner Bart Simpson-like instinct for causing mayhem, here’s what else I’ve been up to:

* I’ve been having some fun these past weeks now that Finders Keepers is officially on the shelves of Barnes & Noble! It’s in five NYC locations and a bunch in Seattle, plus Anchorage, Alaska (and others around the country … including Rockville, MD). I’ve dropped by some of the NYC locations to sign them, so if you happen upon them there, you’ll get an autographed copy. For a full list of Barnes & Noble locations nationwide where you can find Finders Keepers, see below.

* July wrapped up my summer book signing schedule, where I made stops at the Long Island Toy Show and the East Hanover Comic Book Expo. Not my best shows sales-wise, as they were not quite the right venues for me, but I continued to get the word out and make some new friends. I’ll be taking a convention break, but will be back later in the year. And though I sat out the San Diego Comic-Con this year, I’m hoping to make my return in 2012. Stay tuned.

* Keeping the momentum moving forward, I will be unveiling my new Web site some time this month!

Because of the various projects I’m involved with and the multi-tiered marketing programs in the works, it was time to revamp the site and give you guys a snazzier, cleaner destination where I can upload new blog posts and photos, make all sorts of announcements and otherwise make myself available to those Hollywood folks who absolutely MUST have my book for themselves and get that movie in motion! Look for a launch notice any week now.

* Speaking of Hollywood, I’ve got a pretty intense marketing program in the works — with some pretty awesome participants — and now that I’ve consulted some filmmakers, the project itself has grown in scope. Hate to be secretive here, but until I’ve got all the elements locked down I’m going to play this one a little bit close. But trust me. It’s in motion. And it’s very cool.

* And lest you think I forgot to mention, my second novel Crossline is still speeding along. I’m in the final revisions now, and then I turn the manuscript over to a top-notch editor I know who gave me critical feedback on Finders Keepers that helped make it the success it is today. So I think I’ve got the right guy to also help me get Crossline to where it needs to be.

That’s all she wrote for this edition. I’ll be back around Labor Day for a final summer announcement, where I’ll be sharing the latest news on Finders Keepers and report back on Nate and Abby’s first birthday party, which should be awesomeness supreme.

All the Best!

Russ

 

Finders Keepers in Barnes & Noble:

#2988 – Fox Run Crossings, 45 Gosling Rd, Portsmouth, NH

#2791 – 235 Daniel Webster Hwy,Nashua,NH

#2966 – 98 Middlesex Pkwy,Burlington,MA

#2957 – 60 Pine St., Pacific  Place, DowntownSeattle,WA

#2965 – 106 Court Street,Brooklyn,NY

#2784 – 200 East Northern Lights Blvd, Anchorage, AK

#2876 – 267 7th Avenue, Park Slope,Brooklyn,NY

#2942 – Hacienda Crossings, 4972 Dublin Blvd, Dublin, CA

#2575 – 1201 3rd St Promenade,Santa Monica,CA

#2281 – Kitsap Mall, 10315 Silverdale Way, Silverdale, WA

#2280 – Northgate Mall, 401 NE Northgate Way, Seattle, WA

#1979 – 82nd and Broadway, NY,NY

#2278 – 86th & Lexington, NY, NY

#2262 – Clackamass Town Center Mall,Portland, OR

#2536 – Arboretum, 10,000 Research Blvd., Austin Texas

#2703 – Spectrum Center,1851 Fountain Dr.,Reston,VA

#2573 – University Village,2675 NE University Village St.,Seattle,  WA

#2675 – Union Square – NY, NY

#2234 – 555 Fifth Avenune, NY,NY

#2764 – 12089 Rockville Pike, Montrose Crossing, Rockville,MD

#2238 – Tysons Corner Mall,McLean,VA

#2275 – 131 Colonie Centre, Albany,NY

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