HIL-GLE Wonderblog

HIL-GLE MIND ROT MODERN THRILLS QUALITY CREATIVE NEWSSTAND FICTION UNIT WONDERBLOG Shy people can contact us directly via email at Wunker2000 at Yahoo dot com.


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Wednesday, June 22, 2022

New PromoAd

 Eh... it's close. It's as close to unisex marketing as I can come to.  I was going to stick "Against The Coven" or some sort of rot on here, but then I thought "Why can't they be heroes, too?" I need to find a slightly more heroic backdrop, but I think I am close here. 




Saturday, June 11, 2022

Our First Print Advertisement

 We are now in Bachelor Pad's Summer 2022 issue!



There are worse places to be than under Fez-O-Rama. Or to the right of Scott Vaughn and his fine creations.  As proof of concepts go, this was fine. Any coloring mistakes belong to yours truly. I am going to be working on ad concepts once our tour is over. 


Tonight our movie goes into prime lensing. (That's filming stuff for all of you non-Hollywood types.) I had a pre-production conference call with the prime talent and creatives last night.  Hopefully our final product will appear here before too long.  After that, our efforts belong to the ages. 

Friday, June 10, 2022

HIL-GLE HITS THE BIG TIME

 

Movie Deal and Major Expo Announcement!


Brave Sam and myself had a great time at DIECON.  We met a lot of interesting folks and even sold a few books.  I would like to thank everyone who played in our inaugural demo sessions. The same scenario will be run at several sessions during the upcoming GENCON in Indianapolis. 

We are headed to Planet Funk in the Quad Cities at the end of the month. We may have some details to announce about that appearance coming shortly.

We are headed to Printer’s Row Lit Fest September 10 & 11, 2022.

The Printers Row Lit Fest is the largest free outdoor literary showcase in the Midwest. It will be taking place along Dearborn Street, from Dearborn Station to Ida B. Wells Drive (formerly Congress Parkway). HIL-GLE will have its very own table on the sidewalk (somewhere) where yours truly will be sitting with copies of our masterpiece Weird Detective Mystery Adventures and absolutely no protection from the environment whatsoever.  I will possibly be rained on, melted, or pelted while an estimated 100,000 people walk by… hopefully one or two buying a book. In any case, I am hoping that it will be quite an affair. This momentous event will mark the end of our summer promotional campaign, after which we will award our fine raffle winner.

Later this week, perhaps Saturday, HIL-GLE will be filming the Weird Detective Mystery Adventures movie. Weird Detective Mystery Adventures, the movie would cost Major Studio Dollars at the standard length of one and 7/10th hours, features a cast and is replete with many pre and post-production effects, including but not limited to a rented car. A screening of this film may appear in multiple venues as it is intended for the widest release possible. Our hearts are already pounding in anticipation!

Watch this space for more amazing announcements!

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

HUGE CONVENTION NEWS (PENDING)!

 

Our biggest convention appearance yet is in the offing!

No, not Gencon.  As of right now, we will be running four demo sessions at GENCON, all on Saturday. When we have the slot numbers, we will release them here. The demo itself will premier at DIECON in Collinsville on June 4th and 5th. It is not a published scenario and will appear here on the Wonderblog after I have retired it. That said, we are not formally vending at Gencon, nor are we official guests of the con. Until I get the lowdown on how I can promote this, all I can say is that there will be several sessions of Weird Detective Mystery Adventures run in the gaming area on Saturday. It is not a progressive scenario. There is no need to sign up for more than one session. More on this later.

In some ways, it’s bigger than Gencon. In other ways, it’s somewhat off the mark as far as demographics are concerned.  A lot is going to depend on weather conditions, Covid, and turn out. They have taken my money. All I need now is a formal confirmation. It’s huge! It’s the one we wanted!

As you may recall, we intended to premier our Weird Detective Mystery Adventures masterpiece at the Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention but wound up hitting CODCOM first instead.  Windy City had booked solid, and we had to wait for a cancellation. Thankfully there was one and we got in. Our virgin effort at CODCOM was fairly good and Windy City was worthwhile on several levels.

My takeaways from Windy City. Most of the booksellers I spoke with are not interested in handling games—or at least those sellers who are sticking with brick and mortar. The majority of the vendors were moving online or were online exclusively already. Of my fellow publishers, few had any retail presence. Most of them were POD oriented or were shipping online themselves. Mind you, Windy City is more an antiquarian niche convention than a gaming convention, but the model used seems prevalent. This is making me question my retail stores first strategy. The retail strategy impacts consumer price because I have to leave meat on the bone for the store and various middlemen. It is the vig middlemen are demanding which is actually sucking the fun out of my project, since it seems to be on a cost plus sliding scale basis. As a certified contract manager, I am not signing a cost plus contract with anyone ever. Only arms merchants and hobby game distributors (and big box retailers) foist these gems on the unwary. All of this has given me some food for thought.  I did make some sales at Windy City and the comics we peddled covered the cost of the table.

Thanks to networking at Windy City, we expanded the tour to the Southside Comic Show. We may also have one other convention to announce besides the BIG ONE. Also thanks to networking at Windy City, Weird Detective Mystery Adventures will be running its first print advertisement in the Summer 2022 issue of Bachelor Pad magazine. You can check out its website at www.bachelorpadmagazine.com.


My pal Brave Sam will be joining us at DIECOM, manning the table while I am away doing demo stuff. I will let you know our table number when I can.

ALSO: WEIRD DETECTIVE MYSTERY ADVENTURES is going to be a MOVIE! Watch this space as details unfold. 

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Newsweek Not to Be Believed

 

Once upon a time, I had a subscription to Newsweek.  Founded by the Washington Post, Newsweek covered much the same ground as Time magazine in its heyday.  It and U.S. News and World Report provided a more plain language counterweight to the haughty Time.  As part of its mandate Time invented new language, deliberately created its own compressed reporting style and appointed People of the Year. Time assumed that it had weight and proceeded accordingly. U.S, News and Newsweek offered English translations of Time, for people who weren’t into the whole thought experiment.

All three magazines have become relics of the past. Time ceased being meaningful round about half past the point where a television appeared in every living room. Newsweek held on as a method of burnishing the national reputation of the Washington Post organization. U.S. News took the unusual tactic of heading upscale, becoming an American version of England’s Economist. None of them did well in the modern era. Both Time and U.S. News took to running stunt issues or simply pulling stunts. (1) Today the haughty School Ratings Guide is all that remains of U.S. News.

Newsweek had the most tragic fall, as we detailed in this blog at the time. First, its parent company became taken over by an academic testing firm. (2)  At the start of the last print downturn, the firm decided to offload all of its news assets—essentially giving the Washington Post away to the owner of Amazon and then freebie garage selling Newsweek to… Harmon-Cardin Speakers… then the Daily Beast… and then a pernicious end of the world cult.

Please be advised that Newsweek is still the possession of a split off of the Unification Church, a truthfully dubious Ponzi scheme in the form of a religion.  In this incarnation, the purpose of the Newsweek trademark is to act as click bait for advertising media. Any story which surfaces on their pages has to be judged from this perspective first. There is no actual newsgathering institution informing its choices or abiding by any known journalistic standard. Much of what they have reported previously has turned out to be TRUE CRIME PULP FICTION.

While we at Hil-Gle love us some pulp fiction, we prefer the more clearly labeled as sensationalist type. We mention Newsweek’s current pedigree only because its words are being reflected as truth by legitimate outlets. In all likelihood the reporting that Vlad Putin has leukemia or “blood cancer” is erroneous. It is more probable that it has no source at all. Not that Newsweek’s heart isn’t in the right place, but rather that they are not disclosing their methodology. The cult’s doctrine is that if something is believed in widely or earnestly enough, it will become true. From their mouths to God’s ear. This story is doing double duty in priming the wish pump and drawing eyes to their usual flow of nonsense.

I am not about to debate the efficacy of their operant cosmology. I would just like to point out what it is. Until Newsweek is in other hands it may be safely disregarded.

(1)    Time took the weird tactic of attempting to outrage the masses. This was always a part of its presentation, however at about the O.J. Simpson cover on, it became their meat and potatoes. Alienating middle America has its consequences, as it and Rolling Stone later found out. Recently Time was offloaded from what had been Time/Warner (formerly AOL/Time-Warner and Warner Seven Arts) and traded for gum money by AT&T along with cash cow sister rag People Magazine to a firm which actually likes being in magazine business. The new firm is now attempting to define what an international news digest actually is. The verdict isn’t in yet but we wish them the best of luck.

(2)    Very long story, short. The testing firm was an investment, something with a small but predictable income that would help the Washington Post wean itself off of reliance on the spectacularly erratic advertising income cycle. And it was a good investment, one that grew both in size and profitability to the point that it dwarfed its parent company. Then the Washington Post and Newsweek started bleeding red ink with no end in sight and liability which hampered the testing firm’s continued expansion. Eventually someone who could read a spreadsheet without sentimentality showed up and made the obvious choice. Bad news for the Washington Post and Newsweek, but good news for the heirs of fatcat press barons. Our fairy tale ends happily with the rich people staying rich and no longer having to bother with a grimy public information trust.


Monday, May 2, 2022

ON FOOTBALL

 

This week my mother was annoyed by the NFL Draft pre-empting Wheel of Fortune.  Not to cut the NFL short, but as a television program with entertainment potential, the wonderous wheel—America’s Game—has it all over a stage of rotating twenty-year-old men in suits being chosen for gladiatorial combat.  Past day one, some of these guys are iffy as far as making the teams they are drafted by. Yet there is an undeniable interest in hearing a parade of them thank Jeebus, their families, their college coaches, their new fans and then walk off into some room to become an instant millionaire. Some of them will go onto genuine gridiron greatness and others to about four years of brutality followed by a lifetime of physical disability.

The NFL has one good thing going. It’s too good, which is why numerous parties take turns at trying to take a slice of its action. The brand spanking new USFL is the latest to try. Before going into how they are faring a short briefing is in order about what the NFL is in competition with and what inherent barriers there are to getting into its business.


Most of us are familiar with the NFL’s Football product. Football evolved out of the same base set of rules as soccer and rugby, reaching its current form after the intervention of Teddy Roosevelt. As originally envisioned, it was something like a group boxing match and a track meet. Eventually they threw in a game of catch. It has a ridiculous number of rules—on a par with cricket—some of which make limited sense (the ground cannot cause a fumble). It is also steeped in jargon.  You can understand none of this and still enjoy the game. (1)

It's a proven winner. Fifty years ago, a cable TV station put the image of a football on its channel for an hour and it outdrew most of the competition. Given its attraction as a consumer product, there is a lot of football about. How much? The NFL has 32 teams with a legitimate ability to expand a bit further. They are not, however, the biggest distributor of football as a product. It is primarily and most efficiently promoted by American colleges. The American college system fields 664 teams and out-earns and out-draws the NFL by exponents. (2) About half of these college teams feed into the TV football ecosystem to some degree. Maybe 40 of them would be more valuable than NFL teams if they were independent ventures and perhaps half of them would be viable as stand-alone businesses. In short, the colleges are the big monkey in the football field.

Prior to the 1950s, the NFL was a sideshow venture. Started in the 1920s and arising from the athletic club movement (which brought us baseball), the pros were slipshod affairs, existing primarily to allow the better college players to pick up some extra cash on Sundays. The NFL itself only secured its position as the primary purveyor of pro football after a series of mergers, first with the All-American Football Conference and later with the American Football League. It was a Darwinist affair for most of its early history, with a staggering 49 NFL teams having folded shop. It’s been fairly healthy since the mid-1960s.


The NFL, AFL and AAFC all proved that there was room for a little more football, provided that they did something different than the colleges. By different, I mean they played on Sunday as opposed to Saturday. They filled the TV gap left by the colleges on Sunday. This has been the key to the most profitable sporting venture in the history of the universe. (3)

NFL team expansion in modern times has been sluggish and goofy. By comparison, the top tier of college football has its teams divided up in proportion to population centers. It has every TV market covered with its top 133 teams. The NFL’s real expansion is an encroachment in times played—first Monday, then Thursday, then additional games on Sunday, then on Saturdays after the college season has ended. The NFL’s entire business plan has amounted to playing when the colleges don’t. This has given the NFL the ability to market its mere 32 big city clubs (with two teams each in Los Angeles and New York City) as national or super-regional entities.

As business plans go, it’s indefensible. In a more rational universe, the owners of the 133 teams would claw the time back or extend their seasons. The colleges only achieved their dominating positions by making it impossible for the original athletic club teams to compete at scale. Little mom and pop athletic clubs, usually adjuncts of ethnic non-profit social organizations, had to rent their staging areas. Originally the colleges were willing to allow these teams use of their track and field facilities (or polo ground)… until they smelled that there was money in it. And thus the National College Athletic Association was born, building stadiums to scale and swamping the mom and pops into oblivion.

While colleges are no more in the business of entertaining the public than the Knights of Columbus are, money is money and successful fundraising phenomena is precious. I’m not qualified to debate the ethics of this nor decry the non-profit model. It isn’t restricted to the colleges. The NFL’s Green Bay Packers are effectively a non-profit. As anyone who has lived near a giant hospital will tell you, non-profit does not mean without profit or prospects for expansion.

The colleges have passed rules, largely to police themselves, which inadvertently has allowed the NFL to thrive. Only they have the muscle to nudge the NFL from its roost. Until a moment of collective college football clarity happens, others with less in the way of endowment have incentive to dethrone the pro kings.


Every two years or so someone takes a swipe. Two ventures, the XFL and the current incarnation of the USFL, are stalking horses for the television networks themselves.  TV gives the NFL all of its money. Many in network land are wondering why. The game’s money comes from television and television is what television networks do. Why can’t a TV network employ football players directly? This is the outline of the XFL and USFL experiments. (4)

Prior experiments had a different methodology. The Continental Professional Football League was one of several attempts to make a national minor league system, a paying alternative to college football. It built out from secondary and suburban markets, hoping to profit, as minor leagues do, by seasoning players destined for the pros. It floundered after changing its focus mid-stream and then not settling on any sort of mutual strategy. Muddling up the plan mid-res also did in the World Football League and the original United States Football League. The Canadian Football League’s abortive expansion into the US was similar to Continental’s as far as choice of markets was concerned but turned out to be under-funded. Underfunding is the shorthand post-mortem for the original XFL, the later incarnation of the United Football League and the Alliance of American Football. An unwillingness to stick out early losses doomed the NFL’s own prodigies the Arena Football League and the World League of American Football/NFL Europe.

One might contend that running a football league is an iffy prospect, even if you know what you are doing and have the money to do it. Without going point by point, I don’t believe that there actually has been a credible effort to take on the NFL as yet. There are considerable barriers to going after the NFL which need to be addressed correctly.  Briefly, these are:

*Big City Domination. The NFL has the best football venues in the top 27 markets in which they operate. In most cases, the NFL team does not own the stadium nor enjoy any exclusive rights to preempt others from playing in it. That said, this is a bit of a trap. What the NFL does have nailed down are all of the Sunday dates and best time slots for these venues. In most places, the NFL team is the sole or marquee tenant of the stadium. Playing in the same places and paying the same rental rates as NFL teams is demonstrably a bad tactic for startup leagues. Why rent a 60,000-seat stadium when you are only likely to sell 30,000 tickets? Nearly every big city market has alternative venues, many at just the size a smaller venture requires. An unwillingness to start small and get bigger has doomed the majority of the NFL’s prospective competitors. Secondly, most of the population is outside of the influence of the top 27 markets. It seems to make more sense to set up in a smaller market—or barnstorm several cities.

*Good will. This is the currency of all sports teams and it is hard to mint. Many sports teams have generational followings. People follow the teams they grew up following and pass on the affliction to their children. Some NFL teams are ancient. It’s not an insurmountable problem since there are also people who are attracted by novelty or like the idea of getting in on the ground floor of something new. A new league would be at something of a disadvantage, especially teams locating in NFL mega metros.

*The NFL already has all the best players. This is true if you compete with the NFL on its current terms. Both the NFL and the top 40 college teams differentiate themselves through player size. You largely need to be a giant to play in the NFL. Many perfectly wonderful players are not considered for the NFL or the other 40 college teams primary because of gross body weight. Competing with the NFL for jumbo players may be a dead end. Instead, if you imposed a 220 cap on player weight, you open up to an entirely new talent pool. (5)

The new USFL is backed by the Fox Television Network and has charted a somewhat unique course. While it is only on week two its near term demise can clearly be seen. They’ve tried to address a few of the issues above.

USFL Fox knows it’s a TV animal. They are not bothering with renting venues in big cities. Instead, all of its teams are playing at two stadiums in the same city. They have chosen the sports dead zone that exists between the end of March Madness and the time when baseball starts to get into full swing to stage their spectacles. As with the original USFL and a few other start-up leagues, they are playing a Spring schedule to avoid direct competition with the NFL and college football. These somewhat reasonable steps have been undercut by their choice of Birmingham Alabama as the host city. They love football in Bama and you probably couldn’t find a better weather city for this time of year. That said, Birmingham is not huge and cannot produce an audience for four special stadium events a week, even if they are free. You can only cycle the sports fan population so many times. We are now on week two and the stadiums are empty. Fox is piping in crowd noise on their broadcasts, with comedic effect. Fox might have been better served staging the games in a television studio or a very small indoor football-capable stadium. (6)

Fox has addressed the Good Will issue by reviving teams from the original USFL, specifically the Birmingham Stallions, Houston Gamblers, New Orleans Breakers, Tampa Bay Bandits, Michigan Panthers, New Jersey Generals, Philadelphia Stars and Pittsburgh Maulers. Given the limited lifespan of the original league and the fact that none of these franchises have played since 1986 one questions the value of the trademarks. They may have been better served playing up the mascot names as opposed to the fictional city affiliation. Supposedly Fox is in this for the long haul—with the caveat that they at some point will be seeking about 200 million from outside investors. Let me repeat that: Fox, one of the largest media conglomerates on Earth is thinking of launching some sort of kickstarter campaign, perhaps using ownership in teams as its currency. Pretty dubious. If things continue to go the way they have this week, we may see yet another revision of this plan.


From what I have been able to tell, play quality is at a level below most college conferences. The guys are big college huge, most of them having some sort of NFL pedigree, they’re just not any good and haven’t been together long enough.  My feeling is that the NFL does indeed have all of the jumbo player talent locked up. It’s a pity.

The USFL can still right the ship. It means perhaps going out and discovering players or adopting a style which favors speed as opposed to brute force. In short, it involves innovating when it comes to the playing of football.  I’m not sure a television network is up for that.

 

(1(1)    One of the attractions of football is the explosive action, which requires no explanation of rules to enjoy. It is not universally loved. My sister’s description of the sport is “they run into each other for two yards and then they slap butts.”

(2)    The American football ecosystem is slightly broader than this. There are 110 or so Community Colleges with football programs. This number has shrunk and is expected to continue to shrink due to the liability and expenses of maintaining such programs. About a half dozen regional Indoor Football leagues are in operation throughout the country, however it appears that this version of the game is going the way of indoor soccer. Since its heyday 20 years ago, few of the leagues have been able to continue to function. The small venue operators for whom the game was devised have traditionally not been willing to foot the expense of running the teams themselves and few teams have proven solvent enough to consistently pay rent. Indoor Football went into a tailspin with the Great Recession and has not bounced back. The athletic club teams which were central to the foundation of the sport in the late 1800s still continue today in the form of Semi-Pro Football. Many of these teams are player-funded recreational affairs with about twenty regional leagues in operation. Other Semi-Pro teams are adjunct to social programs or are involved in variants of the sport. Despite the number of organized entities involved, football is a very thinly participated in sport, with opportunities for involvement winnowing to nothingness for most males past their first year in high school. This is true to some degree with all team sports.  

(3)    This is an accident of history. The three distinct levels of football—high school, college, and the pros—abided by a gentlemen’s agreement to carve up the weekends. Friday nights is for high schools. Saturdays are for the colleges. Sundays were defaulted to the pros not out of gratitude but rather because the pros and colleges were sharing personnel.  Traditions once established often outlive their usefulness. Being the only pro league left standing, the NFL inherited Sundays as its birthright. Except for tradition and its sway on network programming, there is little reason that the colleges can’t take Sunday away. If colleges were rational actors, they would have done so by now. I would be at pains to dismiss the success of the NFL as being entirely accidental, however it is better to be lucky than good. If the NFL has any real advantage, it is due to being the most rational actor in a field dominated by irrational actors.

(4)    Silly technical innovations and occasional rule changes are also thrown in. The XFL attempted to infuse its brand of football mayhem with a little wrestling theatrics, with spudriffic results. Not only was their product largely not being watched, it was being mocked by all who mentioned it. The powers that be at XFL attempted their experiment again recently, only to have Covid wipe the opportunity away. USFL has so far stuck to presenting football in empty stadiums with the exception of a roto-droid camera stunt attempted during the premier game.

(5)    If you go through the dedications listed at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton Ohio you will see one descriptive word used more than any other: undersized.  I’m not sure if these players were so successful because of this or in spite of it. My thinking is that size itself is overrated as a qualification at all levels of football.  If you restrict size, gross weight, you will probably cut down on injuries and overall health issues. Very, very few people are naturally heavier than 220.

(6)    The crowd noise is so loud that the announcers are straining to talk over it. It is also looped, on a repeat playback, so that the same sounds can be detected over and over again. Fox tries to keep its shots tight on the action, however there is no disguising the utterly empty stadiums. There are several indoor venues Fox might have had better luck with. Both Dome of America in St Louis and the Alamo Dome in San Antonio have ample population bases and could cycle in casual crowds. Heading downscale are Alerus Center, UNI Dome, Tacoma Dome, Kibbie Dome,and the stadium at East Tennessee State University, amongst others. Las Vegas also hold many opportunities.

 

 

 


Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Sales Portal to Go Live Soon!

 

With some luck our sales portal for Weird Detective Mystery Adventures should be live by the time Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention starts next week. In the meantime, we will be selling our paperback and prototype hardbound editions at conventions through the summer. Both of these editions are offered at a special Show Only price of $30.00. We have a limited supply on hand and once they are exhausted, neither of the editions will be available again.

Our production hardbound edition will be available only here through the web at our www.WeirdDetectiveMysteryAdventures.com website. This edition features a full color cover, is 500 plus fully illustrated pages, and is casebound. We believe that this format is as durable as our paperbacks with the added feature of a hard cover.

$47.95 Including Free Shipping to the Continental United States

Persons living outside of the contiguous lower 48 please contact us and we will make accommodations for your delivery.

We will also be distributing the production hardbound edition direct to stores. Please contact us at Sales@HIL-GLE.com and we will respond with details regarding our attractive wholesale program.

Persons wishing to purchase a paperback copy may also contact us at Sales@HIL-GLE.com.  We will hold to the $30.00 price point with a nominal add-on for shipping.   

Our two other projects are moving along well, and we should have details about them soon.

I am looking forward to seeing everyone at the Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention May 6th, 7th and 8th at the Westin Hotel 70 Yorktown Center in Lombard IL 60148. We will be in the dealer room. As with all of our tour stops this year, we will be running a raffle.

I have attended the Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention for the past ten years and have always found it to be a great time. It’s one of the few places where one can find pulp reference works and facsimile editions for sale. There’s also lots and lots of pulp magazines and other genre related materials. Our table will also be selling back issue comic books.

The hotel itself is very clean and in a safe area. It is on a pad site in the Yorktown Shopping Center, to the east of the main mall. Parking is free, nearby, and ample. You will get rained on. It’s Chicago in early Spring and Spring is cruel here.

The www.WeirdDetectiveMysteryAdventures.com website will be expanding soon. Pages will include changes to rules or rule expansions, scenario briefings and an ongoing project defining all of the public domain heroes in both historic and player character versions. While we have no intention of making our core rules obsolete through provisioning nifty expansions (and then scrapping them to make a new edition), there are a few additive features which we left out. With the exception of typo extermination, the core rules are fairly set.

Sadly, our venerable HIL-GLE site is beyond salvaging. I can replate it, but the previous content will be lost. I believe its future is as our wholesale and distribution site. The majority of its features I will port into this blog and then reconstruct the other pages as time goes by.

This blog will return to a less hype focus in due time.  Thank you all for your time and consideration.

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