Not thrilled with the king of crotch-grab

So, for all 0.5 of you following this blog, I'm know you are just dying to know what I think about Michael Jackson and his death. As for anyone, I'm sorry to hear that he died when he had so much more planned to do.

As for my opinion of him as a performer, I was never a fan. I remember in 4th grade being the only kid who didn't think that the Thriller album was any good. The Thriller video was even more underwhelming: I heard how scary it was and it looked like a cheesy horror film put to a pop song. I thought Jackson was pretentious, showy and found his voice irritating. The only song I ever warmed to was "Man in the Mirror" and if someone remade it without his voice, it would be 1,000 times better.

Now that he died of what was likely a drug overdose, we can see his whole catalog and his effect on pop culture. And it amounts to: meh. He was a star of the 70s and 80s, huge for a time, like Pac-Man and Different Strokes. But he left the scene by the late 80s, eclipsed by his own sister on the current music scene by the early 90s.

Always lurking was the freak show. He was a rolling freak show of freak shows, with the chimp, the plastic surgery, the hyperbaric sleeping chamber, marrying Lisa Marie Presley, Neverland, the first child molestation charges, his second marriage, dangling his child over a balcony, the second child molestation charges and so on. And let's not forget what started the freak show: the crotch-grabbing. Ah yes, the non-sexual but not asexual crotch grab that made one think that an emaciated banana republic dictator with a Liberace streak really needed some jock itch cream.

Here are some of the music artists from the same era who have had a longer lasting effect, a greater effect on pop culture and had longer careers than Michael Jackson:
Elton John
Billy Joel
Rod Stewart
Led Zeppelin
Bruce Springsteen
John Mellencamp
Tony Bennett
The Rolling Stones
Paul McCartney

Their music will outlive them. All anyone will remember about him is the molestation charges/trials, etc. When was the last time any Gen Xer fans of him even bothered to listen to his stuff? His crap doesn't even reach the level of Patrick Swayze's "She's like the wind" on 80s radio stations.

I know, you're about to throw all the press attention his death got back in my face. Whoopee, Nixon got good press when he died in 1994. Princess Diana, well, let's not discuss her.

Thinking about Ps & Qs: Pitches and Queries

In the previous post I mentioned that I attended a panel on how to pitch your project to agents, editors, etc. Here are the highlights (almost a month late):

Neal Levin, publisher: He admitted that it's hard for writers to reach him when he gets about 250 queries a month. And he had three book pitches at Balticon that day, including one he implied came from the author sitting next to me, James Daniel Ross.

Nancy Greene, author: She related many of the ups and downs of querying and if I remember correctly, she stressed tailoring queries to agents with different interests and likes/dislikes.

David J. Williams, author: Had a lot of great tips, which he noted can be found here. Namely, avoid the query letter meatgrinder if possible and try to talk to agents face to face if you don't know anyone in the biz. He has a copy of the query letter that worked for him. It's about 90% describing the story, 10% credentials and 0% wasted words.

Jonathon Mayberry, author: has taught classes in how to query and had the most to say. He mentioned a Maberry formula that goes as such:
1. Name protagonist and crisis
2. Appeals to readers of...
3. Credentials

His site with a sample query letter and other advice and tips is here.