So You’ve Played Red Dead Redemption 2 and Loved it: Be a gunslinger in real life, join the Cowboy Fast Draw Association

As much as I talk about other things, I am not completely lost like a lot of people my age might otherwise be on the magical world of video games and their relatively new impact on global entertainment. But let me just say to my usual readers, its big business. I finally finished the story mode of Red Dead Redemption 2 after around 100 hours of game play, taking my time when I could and I have to say that I was absolutely amazed by the result. The game is such an astonishing technical achievement and it is by far the best thing that could have ever happened to the entertainment format of the American Western. As a story and experience it really is like taking a real-life cowboy experience like the movie City Slickers and placing them into a 1960s spaghetti western with all the high drama of something like Game of Thrones. It is big, bold and beautiful in so many ways. And I knew that as I completed the game and all the epilogue missions that there was going to be a Red Dead online coming at the end of November. I planned to revisit the game at that time but wasn’t expecting much. But let me say that I have been pleasantly surprised. It looks like as massive as Red Dead Redemption 2 is as a game with sales well over a billion dollars already and something like 20 million copies sold before the Holiday season, that the purposed of the online play is to use the game as a kind of training experience for the online world that they have created. It is just vast and ultimately never-ending in what it allows players to do and interact with one another.

I couldn’t help but think as I was playing missions with other people the other day, most of them much younger than I am, that this game is really their only experience with a real American western and for many they are very touched by it. The game itself is a very moral story about good and bad and the many quandaries of the critical decisions that went into exploding life across the American frontier. But at its core it’s about gunfighting and is clearly one of the best arguments for the real-life problems of the Second Amendment. A lot of young people may not be paying attention to the real political problems going on in the outside world, but they sure care a lot about earning enough money in the game to purchase upgrades for their guns and dress in the coolest gunfighting outfits. But I couldn’t help notice that many of them probably didn’t know that they could do all the things they are doing in Read Dead Redemption in real life with Cowboy Fast Draw as seen at the following link:

http://www.COWBOYFASTDRAW.com

Belonging to the Cowboy Fast Draw Association is one of the groups I am most proud to affiliate with, they are really a good group of people who meet all over the United States to compete in real life fast draw competitions using real guns. It’s what I think of as one of the coolest sports in the world right now as other countries are trying to participate but have too strict of gun laws to actually do it. But in the good ol’ United States it is much easier to participate in. Yet I have noticed that most of the members are well over 40, largely because guns and holster rigs are expensive so it takes a little upfront investment to get involved. But once you do, it is infinitely rewarding. I enjoyed the original Red Dead Redemption enormously and getting my own fast draw rig was always something I had planned to do. But raising a family every last dollar that I made went into family needs, a car was always breaking down, a kid always needed a school fee or band instrument. Someone needed braces of a family member across the country wanted us to visit them, so there was always something for like twenty years that kept me from getting my own fast draw gun rig.

I ran across a substantial amount of money for a big job I had been working on so I treated myself to my gun rig and have been practicing at Cowboy Fast Draw for several years now, and am getting pretty good at it. After probably 30,000 to 35,000 shots at a fast draw target, I am starting to feel good about my speed and accuracy. It did take a while. It was something that had been on my mind well before I ever played the first Red Dead going way back into my twenties when I was going through a really tough time. Westerns and western music really kept the zest for life alive in me. On their most basic foundations westerns are about the meaning of life so they always had great appeal to me so when I grew up I wanted to be as much of a gunfighter as society could endure. Ironically, I had acquired my gun rig and some advanced fast draw skill before Red Dead Redemption 2 came out which had even more meaning for me because of the new hobby I had.

Traveling around the online world it has become very obvious that many young people are deeply touched by Red Dead Redemption 2 and likely would like to have a similar experience as I have. So let me put this little invite out there. If you are unsure of how to get involved in Cowboy Fast Draw because you are enjoying playing Red Dead Redemption but would like to take everything up a notch, don’t hesitate to ask me. I can help you get started on something that would be infinitely rewarding. While my regular audience here is much older than the people playing Red Dead Redemption 2 I would personally love to see more young people getting involved in Cowboy Fast Draw. It really isn’t any different from what you do in the game, but that it never ends. While the content of Red Dead Redemption does eventually run out, the challenges in real life never do.

In the Cowboy Fast Draw Association, you get to dress up as a gunslinger for real, and have a reason to do it. You have a reason to buy fancy guns for real and learn to take care of them. And the scoring format is safe and fun. Its one of the most satisfying things I’ve done in my life and I would recommend it to anybody. I had been thinking that membership in the cowboy sports may just flicker away because new generations just do not have many positive western entertainment venues that are cool enough to hold their attention, that is until Red Dead Redemption 2 came along and inspired millions of people to live in that world quite authentically. And for those who just want to climb into the world of Red Dead Redemption for real and live it in real life I’d point you to the Cowboy Fast Draw Association at the link shown here. If you have any questions, just ask. I’d love to help as many new people get involved in the sport as possible. While I personally love the world of Red Dead Redemption, it is no match for having a real fast draw rig on your hip which is an experience I have every day. And wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

Rich Hoffman

Sign up for Second Call Defense here: http://www.secondcalldefense.org/?affiliate=20707 Use my name to get added benefits.

Red Dead Redemption 2: Playing in the future by exploring the great westerns of the past

When Red Dead Redemption came out many years ago, I said that it was one of the best westerns ever produced. As a video game by Rockstar, the company that made the title, it was an awe-inspiring effort that still holds up as one of the greatest games ever made eight years later. Other games that were benchmarks of open world simulation gaming have been titles that I’ve referred to such as Uncharted 4 for the PlayStation 4 console, and Zelda: Breath of the Wild for Nintendo Switch. I wish I had time to play everything because I really enjoy video games, but I only have time for a few that I consider to be exceptional and game changers. So when those types of games come out, I usually take some time to spend with them. And that was certainly the case when it came to the sequel to Red Dead Redemption called appropriately enough, Red Dead Redemption 2. The game has been on the radar for release for a long time, many years now but finally on October 26th of 2018 the game made release so I targeted time to spend with it for my own reasons. The game itself is a prequel to the previous story and is set this time in 1899, a period I am very interested in regarding American history. The result was just astonishing. It really is the closest thing to a real-life West World experience that anybody could hope to get. It is not a perfect simulated reality but as a player you can easily forget about the real world and find yourself living and breathing in that massive computer world complete to every detail including tree bark, flowers and insects. The world of Red Dead Redemption 2 is fully alive with people and places set in the Old West and is just an amazing technical achievement not to mention some of the best writing for a western that I’ve ever experienced. It is truly an amazing achievement that is worth talking about.

But first there needs to be some context as to how powerful and popular video game sales are, especially for something like this. As a person I am well over the age of the average player so when my wife and I picked up our pre-ordered copy of Red Dead Redemption 2 at GameStop at Bridgewater Falls in Ohio at 9 P.M. on October 25, just hours before the official release at midnight I was met with a very large line that snaked out the door, down the sidewalk and down into the parking lot. I had just come off an important oversea call with some business partners and worked some political angles that were important for the upcoming election. On the very next night I would be at the Jim Renacci debate with Sherrod Brown at Miami University and mingling with the crowd there. During those conversations the talk wasn’t about the upcoming election for anybody under the age of 30, it was about playing Red Dead Redemption 2. But I didn’t get any weird looks for being too old to be at GameStop even though I can’t say that I had ever been to a video game release quite like this. One of my daughters used to manage a GameStop store and she’d tell me about these hot releases, such as happen with each new Madden game or Call of Duty. But this game, Red Dead Redemption 2 had been promoted for a long time as the game missed several previous release dates so people were very excited to see the result. My wife somehow managed to get us into group one on the pre-release so literally the moment we arrived we were called to the front of the line to pick up our copy and within a few minutes we were back home to start the 3 hour download of over 100gigs of information just to start playing the game. The game sold over 17 million copies during that opening weekend which accounted for nearly $800 million in sales. Compared to the average Hollywood movie, these video games are just destroying the traditional movie experience. These entertainment platforms are far more popular with young people than any movie and for good reason. I left that GameStop amazed.

It’s no secret that I love gunfighters and the basic morality of the Wild West period. I have always felt that there was something extremely optimistic about Wild West towns, that really beautiful moment in world history where individual liberty was free to dream and yearn for a better life as it matched up against the harsh realities of nature. The great things about westerns and the American historic period about gunfighters is that it was the culmination of a lot of philosophic thought crashing into an Asian culture in the American Indian that puts many of our modern problems into a correct context. And Rockstar Games has done something quite remarkable with Red Dead Redemption 2, they have paid honest homage to great classic westerns like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Magnificent Seven and High Plains Drifter and literally put video game players in those worlds not with a two-hour story but one that goes on for hundreds of hours. I have been taking my time with the game and am at over 100 hours and I still have a lot more story to get through as of this writing. I have been doing all the side quest which include taking up bounty hunting jobs, fishing, hunting, crafting various equipment improvements and generally exploring a massive western themed world from the high snow-capped mountains in the north to the plains and deserts of the lowlands. There is even a fictional town called Saint Denis which is a kind of New Orleans city complete with early versions of electricity that is fully realized and populated with people. For instance, just for fun I went into town on my horse and spent the entire night in a high stakes poker game, and I won a lot of money. The game play was just jaw dropping cool, and realistic. It was as close to an experience of actually sitting down at a table in Las Vegas is, yet the whole thing was set in an Old West environment as the sun set and rose again outside the windows. There are many little side activities in Red Dead Redemption 2 that a player could literally get lost in forever, if there was ever enough time in that sentiment.

The game is quite honest and eager to explore the clash of progressivism with the rugged concept of the American individualist and the amount of dialogue that was written and acted in this story by many random events is just staggering. There really isn’t any way to experience everything and to talk to everyone in just one playthrough of the game. Decisions made have consequences in the overall world so not everyone will be available to players based on what they do or say to other people. But the basic plot of the game guides you through a kind of participatory novel. Red Dead Redemption 2 is a story telling experience that is unlike anything ever produced, novel, motion picture or Broadway play. There are some very probing questions asked in the story that is explored with great depth that no western ever had time to fully contemplate. The attention to every little detail is just staggering and how they all randomly interact with each other only conjured in my mind that Red Dead Redemption was simply an early version of the HBO series West World. You really do forget that you are playing a game as a player, you are pulled into that world and living it.

At this point I still have a lot more to play, I probably won’t have it wrapped up as a story until after the Thanksgiving Holiday. Maybe even Christmas. If I put 14 hours a weekend into the game it will probably take another 6 weeks to finish, that is how big it is as a conceptional element. Players could blast through the story if they wanted probably in 60 hours or so, but for me, I want to live in that world of Red Dead Redemption. I personally love the time period and the optimism of the American frontier and this is the best way to experience it. Even in their worst elements, I consider the drunks, thieves and whores of the Old West to be much better people than our modern counterparts because there is an honesty in human endeavor that is evident in that time period that is lacking in modern life, so I am spending as much time there as I can. And if you are like me and like to play video games but don’t have time for all of them, if you had to pick, Red Dead Redemption 2 is the one to play. It is better than any Netflix series, any movie made, or long-standing network television program. It is modern entertainment in its best form yet and it is something to see. If this is how entertainment in the future will be, then we all have a lot to look forward to. One thing that is obvious about the makers of Read Dead Redemption 2 is that they love American westerns and they have somehow managed to put every one of them into the story of this new video game from the ugliness of criminal outlaws, such as the movie the Wild Bunch explored down to the innocence and honesty of Little House on the Prairie. It’s all there in raw and spectacular fashion and is an experience everyone should have at least once, no matter how old you may be.

Rich Hoffman

Sign up for Second Call Defense here: http://www.secondcalldefense.org/?affiliate=20707 Use my name to get added benefits.

I am Han Solo: The ‘Star Wars’ personality test

I’m Han Solo—at least that’s what the new Star Wars personality test told me when I took it.  A friend of mine told me that The Blaze did a story on a new Star Wars personality test by www.Zimbio.com which was actually more sophisticated than I thought it would be.  The questions are involved and pretty good about bringing to the surface the raw nature of a person’s personality as related to the Star Wars film series.  For instance, while taking the test I thought I’d come out as Obi-Wan Kenobi—whom I personally admire for his love of wisdom and the philosophic chess matches he tends to play on a galactic scale.  But Han Solo has always been my favorite character and that trait emerged during the test even though I was consciously aware of avoiding it.  So it was a pretty neat test.  At the end of The Blaze article linked below it was revealed that most of the staff at The Blaze including Glenn Beck, Doc Thompson and Skip LeCombe had taken the test and were enthusiastic about their results which they promised to cover on air.  I thought this remarkable because it provides insight to all that I have been saying lately about the cultural impact of Star Wars and the future of our society.  There are few things which can unite minds quicker than Star Wars does in discussions with other people and it’s not just nerds anymore—but mainstream acceptance.  NFL football used to be that topic item breaker that anybody could discuss with any other person in business or other affairs, but quickly Star Wars is overtaking it.  It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t know about Star Wars who is under 55 years old and doesn’t have an opinion about the film series.

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/01/18/are-you-a-yoda-luke-skywalker-or-maybe-a-princess-leia-take-the-star-wars-personality-test/

I took the test while on the road at my sister-in-law’s house with many family members present so we all took the test and had a good time with the results.  I was surprised how many of them came back as Yoda, and the young men who took it mostly came back as Boba Fett—which was remarkably accurate.  There were no Darth Vader’s in our group which says a lot about the quality of our family.  That much didn’t surprise me—but the number of Yodas did—my wife included.  It could not be ignored how many of our family members instantly understood what the test was and the intent which reflected the response of The Blaze staff.  Star Wars is something that touches just about everyone as good memories of their childhoods flood back to them upon the mention of Han Solo, Luke Skywalker or Princess Leia.

I remember what it was like to be a kid in the late 70s and early 80s.  Star Wars was everywhere—it was on the radio, it was at the stores, it was on television, it was in comics, magazines—it defined popular culture from about 1977 to 1985 when it began to subside just a bit.  Even popular films like Back to the Future and ET the Extra Terrestrial made frequent Star Wars references—so it was a huge part of that 8 year period and anybody who was a child during that period knows what I’m talking about.  That doesn’t mean that everyone was an open Star Wars fan.  Many of the kids in my school made fun of kids who openly loved Star Wars—kids like me who had Star Wars notebooks, wore Star Wars t-shirts, and drew pictures on my homework papers of Star Wars space ships.  I didn’t care what other kids said, once I got past the 7th grade, I was never picked on for Star Wars again because I had so many fights at school that kids stopped trying.  The more they made fun of me the more I rubbed it in their face.  I had a Star Wars shirt for every day of the week—my favorite was a Han Solo shirt that I never got tired of wearing.  I wore it so much that it fell apart.  I developed a rivalry with another kid in Junior High school at Lakota who was a Star Trek fan and hated Star Wars.  We actually had fist fights over Star Wars and which movie was better.  It got so bad that I shoved the kid right into the principles office as he was trying to escape me after I was waiting outside his bus in the morning to catch him with a confrontation before class started.  He had previously declared during lunch period that Captain Kirk would beat Han Solo any day of the week—so I was going to teach him otherwise. I’d give him some real life Han Solo through me—and as he was running away from he thought he’d get safety inside the principles office—which he didn’t.  I took the fight straight there shocking all the other kids in the hallway and the adults alike when I grabbed hold of the Star Trek lover by the back of his shirt and threw him right into the front door with the principle and secretary standing right there.  Nobody had been so audacious before—and nobody knew what to make of it.  Nobody understood that I loved Han Solo that much because the character represented everything I wanted to become when I grew up—and calling him names was the same as calling me names—and I wasn’t going to stand for it.

My brother and I had so many Star Wars figures that we set up our basement with elaborate hand-made models featuring Star Wars toys. Every Christmas and birthday was an opportunity to increase our holdings for these gigantic Star Wars set-ups.  On Friday and Saturday nights our friends would come over and we’d build new Star Wars buildings and ships late into the night staying up until 3 and 4 AM in a world of our own making inspired by Star Wars.  My parents couldn’t afford to give me a Millennium Falcon like many of my friends had, so I built my own out of a cardboard box.  That creation was destroyed during my late teens—and I never got over it.  During the Christmas of 1995 my wife finally bought me a Millennium Falcon when Kenner re-released the old toys with minor updates in anticipation of the Special Editions to the films which occurred in 1997.  The world we created in that basement had so much reverence for me that I wanted to do little else but create my own world in the context of that one.  We had entire areas around our set-ups in the basement sectioned off with black felt to simulate the darkness of space and on the ceiling was white felt to simulate clouds.  We had our own power supply, there were floating asteroids, and epic worlds re-created to model scale.  It was the happiest place for me on earth.

I was never shy about my admissions.  Star Wars represented limitless possibilities and an escape from oppression and Han Solo was the kind of guy who was full of confidence and a never say die attitude.  He was the model of a man who I would grow up and become.  Many other kids one-on-one loved my enthusiasm, but would never admit it in the light of day.  But privately most of them felt as strongly as I did, they just didn’t show it publicly.  I carried this love into my adulthood and it never really subsided.  With my children I raised them on Star Wars, and now with the Disney acquisition of Star Wars, my grand children will benefit—and with everything I just described, the cultural impact under Disney’s guidance will far eclipse my experience.  There will be more toys, more clothing, more music, video games, posters, magazine articles-virtually everything in our society will be touched by Star Wars and a whole new generation will find solace within the story lines.  Unlike me—who had good parents who really cared and behaved in a traditional sense–kids today have broken families, step parents and lack structure as a result of progressive social engineering policies.  The strongest thing to a real family a lot of modern kids will have is the characters of Star Wars—which as sad as that may sound—is absolutely true.

The character of Han Solo was never intended to be a hero in the way he turned out.  Fans of the films were supposed to yearn for Luke Skywalker, not Han Solo, but I could never relate to Luke’s naïveté.  I wanted to grow up and become the space pirate Solo who is more like a character out of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged than any other creation ever put on-screen.  A lot of people thought this was destructive, but it has made me into an interesting adult—one who thought I’d be more like Obi-Wan Kenobi than Han Solo as more mature years are now upon me. But upon seeing the test results I was actually relieved to see that many of my core values are still intact after all these years and I can honestly say that I’ve lived my own Han Solo type of life and behaved in a very similar way when pressed.  The difference between being a young person and an old person is the experience.  People are drawn to certain types of things based on their core personality—something this Star Wars test is attempting to uncover.  When I was a kid I hoped that when faced with perilous situations that I would behave with the same valor and skill that Han Solo did in Star Wars.  Now as an adult, I no longer have any doubt.  With a string of car chases, crashes, narrow escapes, and perilous follies of virtually every type now behind me, I can rest easily now knowing I measure up to the highest hopes I had as a child.

It is for that reason that this Star Wars test is flooding office buildings and places of business with a fury.  Most of the adult population had similar hopes for themselves, and they want to know how they measure up after all these years.  Now with some of the social stigma of fandom removed, people want to know how far they have fallen from their childhood dreams.  For me—not far at all.  I would have considered Obi-Wan Kenobi to be a concession—an honorable one—but a concession.  Han Solo, out of all the characters in Star Wars was my target, and now as a grown man who has grandchildren of his own—I have hit the bull’s-eye, and for that I am very, very proud.  Setting those high standards actually made me a better grown-up than Han Solo—considerably.  But under pressure—and when it really counts—it is good to know I’m still more like Han Solo than Obi-Wan Kenobi.

And I was there……………….Han shot first!

Take the Star Wars Test for yourself and see who you are most like.  CLICK THE LINK BELOW.

http://www.zimbio.com/quiz/Ukldm8Pi5Ub/Star+Wars+Character

Rich Hoffman

 www.OVERMANWARRIOR.com

 

The Best Transformer Costumes: Opening the new Tranformer 3D Ride at Universal Studios

I know what I want for this Halloween’s costume, the Optimus Prime outfit seen below at the grand opening of the new Transformers 3D ride at Universal Studios in Florida absolutely rocks!!!!  I want one!!

The don’t make them any better than that!

____________________________________________________________

This is what people are saying about my new book–Tail of the Dragon

Just finished the book and am sweating profusely. Wow, what a ride !!!  Fasten your seat belts for one of the most thrilling rides ever in print.

While you wait for Tail of the Dragon, read my first book at Barnes and Nobel.com as they are now offering The Symposium of Justice.

Rich Hoffman
https://overmanwarrior.wordpress.com/2010/12/04/ten-rules-to-live-by/
http://twitter.com/#!/overmanwarrior
www.overmanwarrior.com

New Novel Set in the Great Smoky Mountains: The Famous Matt Clark interview on “Tail of the Dragon” with Rich Hoffman

On Sunday May 6, 2012 I spent some time with Matt Clark of the Clarkcast Radio Network to talk about my new novel Tail of the Dragon which is about to hit book stores everywhere. Matt had read an early version of the novel before I signed with my publisher and enjoyed it so much he called me personally to say just how much he loved the story prompting us to discuss it well in advance of its release to the public. When the book was close to release, we spoke about doing the interview heard and seen below as it aired on Talk 1600 WAAM in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Check it out!

On a special note, during the interview, I say “WE” quite a bit. This is in reference to either my wife who has been on many adventures with me and has been a big part of the writing process–or its in reference to my publisher and the team who has worked with me to bring this book to life. Its a process that involves a lot of people, so saying “WE” seemed appropriate.

Even though Matt and I spoke about a lot of topics that make Tail of the Dragon a unique and timely novel, where the events of this intense story are paralleling the tensions of our current nation, a lot of what we wanted to discuss didn’t make it into our interview. If it had, our talk might have gone on for hours. So to further elaborate the content of the Tail of the Dragon I have a longer version of the interview to enjoy while the final stages of production are completed prior to the release of the book in The United States and International markets. 

Enjoy!!!!!!

Q: What is your new book Tail of the Dragon all about?

A: I set out to write the book I’ve wanted to see written for a number of years, an action packed good ol’ car chase that was filled with excitement. They used to make lots of those films in Hollywood years ago, and of late, even with the strong video game market from the Need for Speed series and the popularity of the Fast and Furious films, studios have been shy about tackling those types of projects.

When I was growing up it was films like Smokey and the Bandit and The Dukes of Hazzard that dominated movie and TV sets and I always felt that those types of entertainment mediums were healthy for American culture since questioning the merit of the law is important to our checks and balances as a society. And for me, it is kind of sad that one of the greatest car chase films of all time is The Blues Brothers which was made back in the 70’s. So I set out to write a story to contribute to this starving deficiency, and I purposely set out to write the most exciting, and intense car chase story in the history of car chase stories. If early readings of the book are any indication, I’d say that mission was accomplished.

Q: After reading this novel it seems that there is more to it than just a car chase. These characters are in deep peril. The politics of the novel seem to be a very direct commentary to real life.

A: I think of this story as a modern pirate story, where the main character Rick Stevens has been hired as a privateer much the way England and France hired privateers to harass the Spanish Main during the 17th century leading to the golden age of piracy. This gave rise to the great privateer/pirate called Henry Morgan. In a way I see Rick Stevens as the modern counterpart to that historic character. Stevens has been hired by political interests to harass the Highway Patrol in Tennessee for political reasons—to prevent a presidential run to the White House of the current Tennessee governor. So in that respect, there is a contemporary storyline.

Q: But you don’t deal with party politics, you keep it neutral.

A: That’s right. I make no mention of Republicans or Democrats because to me they are all kind of the same thing. If there is a political meaning to be taken from this particular story it’s that the political system is broken beyond repair and a small number of characters are intent to correct that system with a rebellious upheaval which causes this grand car chase.

Q: Isn’t it a hot dog that starts all this in motion?

A: Yes, Rick Stevens accepts the bet of a hot dog in a race that triggers off the chain reaction of events that lead to the next civil war in America. This time the battle lines are drawn between those who want government to continue to expand, and those who want to see it withdrawal from their lives. But yes, the whole thing starts over a bet for a simple hot dog.

Q: But this isn’t just a tough guy car chase; you have romance in it too.

A: Yes, Rick Stevens and his wife are on a trip to Gatlinburg to shake the dust off their marriage, which is a very popular destination for that kind of thing, and while there Rick wants to run his new motorcycle on the Tail of the Dragon which is a road on the western frontier of the Great Smoky Mountains that has 318 curves in just 11 miles. It’s considered one of the most extraordinary roads in the world, so it’s a very popular destination for high performance bikers and automobiles. In the novel this is the destination for this middle-aged couple as they reconnect romantically now that their oldest son is off and married.

Q: Ok, so that brings up the question, how much of this story is real? How much of Rich Hoffman is there in Rick Stevens?

A: There’s a bit there, especially in the first couple of chapters where the couple is traveling on their way to The Dragon for the first time. I’d say those chapters are a bit autobiographical. When my wife and I traveled to the actual Dragon I was amazed by the culture that was there. There was a real hunger for personal freedom that I found refreshing so I knew I had to make my next book about that extraordinary place. That same summer my wife and I traveled over 10,000 miles on our motorcycle as I started writing this book so that I could get my head into the mind of a character like Rick Stevens. We traveled from the shores of Lake Erie to the tip of Key West by motorcycle and many places in between. On those trips this story was born in every aspect. When you travel by motorcycle and speak with other motorcyclists at gas pumps and rest stops there is a respect that is undeniable. Where Rick Stevens and I part ways is that Rick does not have the same outlets as I do. I write, and read a lot, but Rick invests his time in cars and engines and doesn’t have mechanisms to relieve the stresses he feels in his life. I would never snap the way Rick Stevens does, but there is a part of me that really understands his reasons and motives for the behavior that becomes the greatest car chase in human history.

Q: So you and your wife rode 10,000 miles on a motorcycle all over The United States to research this novel?

A: Yes, but our riding stayed on the eastern side of the Mississippi River because most of the traveling was on long weekend trips that were close to our hometown of Cincinnati. But yes, our trips to The Dragon being some of the most interesting experiences I have had on a motorcycle. While on the road you meet a lot of people who want pretty much the same thing that you do, a sense of freedom, which is the appeal of traveling by motorcycle, and are the reason that motorcyclists wave to each other when they pass on the road.

The character of Rick Stevens is such a freedom loving person and to understand him correctly I found that he came to life for me somewhere between the Smoky Mountains and Key Largo, Florida. In fact, my wife and I stopped by a McDonalds in between Key Largo and Key West after several days on the road with our tent and a weeks worth of supplies stacked our motorcycle luggage rack and there was a profound sense of freedom that I felt at that moment that I used to create the character of Rick Stevens. I had to ask the question, what if a person lived like this every day? What would happen if a man who had such a profound sense of freedom and a determination to stay that way found himself pulled into a political whirlpool involving a presidential run to the White House. The result is this novel, Tail of the Dragon.

Q: Didn’t you have a lot of trouble with the law yourself, so isn’t there more of Rick Stevens in you than you’re admitting?

A: It’s true I grew up in trouble with the law quite a bit. I’ve received about every type of speeding ticket, and reckless operation citation a person can get, and I’ve been to court more times than I can even remember. Like Rick Stevens I had lost my driver’s license under state mandated suspension till my late 20’s. I do love speed, which is very obvious by the pace of this novel. But after I started raising a family and was driving family type cars, I drove just as fast–I never did slow down—even today. But I stopped getting tickets because the police do pull over a certain kind of driver, and certain types of cars. This is what confirmed my suspicions that the law was crooked in selective enforcement, and that traffic violations have nothing to do with safety, and everything to do with “revenue enhancement,” which is one of the central themes of this novel.

But Rick Stevens unlike me expects the world to be fair and he refuses to budge off the line of what is right and wrong. He’s a very determined character who expects logic in the law, and when he doesn’t get it—watch out.

Q: That brings us to another compelling character in Tail of the Dragon. We’ve talked about motorcycles, but this isn’t a motorcycle chase with the police, it’s a car chase. The car in this novel is unlike anything ever created.

A: That it is. In the story Rick Stevens has been trying to save up the money to fix up an old 1977 Firebird he has from his youth, but he could never come up with the money to restore it, since he was raising a family. So the car was in the garage collecting dust waiting for Rick to come up with the money. He gets it from a political enemy of the Governor of Tennessee who gives him $20 million to fix up his old car and turn it into the supercar that’s in the book.

Q: And it truly is a supercar.

A: Well, it had to be. Again, I think of it as the ultimate pirate ship for the ultimate pirate. Stevens takes the $20 million dollars and converts his old Firebird into an armored tank that can travel at speeds of over 200 MPH, which would be needed if he was going to pick a fight with the state of Tennessee and their highway patrol. He knew that the police would use lethal force to stop him once the chase got started so he put so many gadgets into the car that it would make James Bond jealous.

As a kid I always loved the car in Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang, where the car could do just about anything, including fly, so in that spirit the old Firebird in Tail of the Dragon is a tribute to those great cars designed by Ian Flemming in his literary works that became the early James Bond films and set a level of expectation that hasn’t been matched. So with this story, I wanted to top it. I kept imagining how cool the Hot Wheel car of this Firebird would be in the toy aisle for a 10 year-old-boy, and I designed the car to appeal to all the children under 12 and adults over 30 who have old cars in their garages that they are trying to restore for all the reasons that Rick is, and are finding that money is hard to come by. This is the kind of story that fathers can share with their children in equal joy because both young and old love a cool car that is a strong character of its own.

Q: But what’s most unique about this car is that it’s the first hot rod of its kind that’s “environmentally friendly.” It doesn’t run off fossil fuel, but off of “vegetable oil.” Is that right?

A: Yes, the car has had a Lemans race car engine installed that is based on real technology from Puguet where they have had great success in developing diesel racing engines that can run on biodiesel. They have one engine that they currently use that produces 700 HP, so that gave me the idea to use that technology to solve a unique problem that always comes up in car chase stories—how do the bandits get gas, because in long, involved, and violent car chases, the last option of the police would be to shut down all the fuel stations along the chase route to starve the bandits of gas? So if a bandit/runaway pirate like Rick Stevens wishes to survive a massive car chase, he has to solve the problem of how he can refuel, otherwise he will simply run out of gas and he’d be gunned down with no place to go.

One thing that is very common, especially in the American South are lots of free-standing fast food restaurants that have plenty of waste veggie oil they keep in large containers behind their buildings. Rick hopes that by resurrecting his beloved car to a diesel engine power plant with a vegetable oil conversion kit, which is actually technologically feasible, then he can solve his refueling problems no matter what the police do, because law enforcement won’t be able to deny him of that source of fuel while on the run.

Q: So this is the first car chase in history that is “environmentally friendly.”

A: You could say that. Veggie oil is an alternative fuel that makes no sense to me why we don’t explore it as an alternative to diesel fuel. If I were a truck driver in America, I’d be pretty upset by the cost of diesel fuel, and I’d be looking for alternatives. So I wanted to make that technology known to a wider audience by making it a central story point in this novel, so people could learn that there are options to traditional fossil fuel available right now. Using those alternative fuel sources will help drive costs down by relieving demand and creating a more competitive market in the fuel processing businesses. So it only makes sense as an option that I think people should be utilizing. In Tail of the Dragon Rick Stevens uses veggie fuel to stay one step ahead of the law.

Q: I don’t want to give anything away, but I will have to say that I didn’t know how this story would end. It’s intense right up to the very last paragraph and I couldn’t put it down, especially the last 80 pages. There was just one cliffhanger after another and the story didn’t stop. There were action scenes that were just incredible, that’s the only way I know to describe them.

A: Well, I’m glad to hear it, because that was my intention. When I was a kid I played with a lot of toy cars, and I imagined every imaginable chase sequence possible by the human mind, so when I sat down to write Tail of the Dragon, I was able to go back and relive those childhood moments with the wisdom and reality of being an adult that has spent over 20 years traveling at a high rate of speed. So the car chase in this novel is a culmination of 44 years of playing on my behalf with the idea of the car chases that are in it. I wrote the scenes the way I’ve always wanted to see them, but so far every other story ever made has fallen short in some way.

I’ve read a lot of books, and car chases don’t typically play out well in literature, but as a tribute to my favorite car chases from movies, I wanted to apply one to literature as a mechanism to advance a very intense plot. So I thought of the great car chase stories like Road Warrior, Thunder Road, Vantage Point, Smokey and the Bandit, Hooper and many others and wanted to bring them into the modern world of advanced police tactics and superior technology. I didn’t want the police to be stumbling buffoons like they are typically in the old 70’s car chases, but worthy adversaries, which greatly increased the level of tension and made this story one of a kind. I’m very proud of what ended up on the printed page and the images it congers up in the mind.

Q: And that brings us to the point of the book. Without giving anything away, what is the point, because to me this novel works on many different levels? I mean you can blast through this novel in one sitting, or over a weekend. And you can read it several times and still take away more on the third and fourth reading. There are messages in it that seem to resonate to a much deeper philosophical yearning.

A: For me the point of the book is to get to the final pages, literally the last four pages. All the billions of dollars of destruction, the carnage, the audacious disregard for the law is to take the characters and the readers on a journey to a place beyond the law of mortal human beings to a place I believe all of humanity is clamoring for, but they just don’t know how to get there. We have a culture that is addicted to safety, to laws; too many chains we willingly place upon ourselves in a grand scheme to have an advanced and fair society. But that’s not what we’re getting; we’re finding our freedoms being eroded away slowly and beyond our control, and the common cause is in our tendency to be driven by our fears by politicians and social do-gooders.

So the characters in Tail of the Dragon decide that life is moving by too quickly and they have a shot to pull those chains off for the first time in their lives, and they make the leap for freedom even if it means their death. This is why the planned provocation of the highway patrol takes place on the Fourth of July because the characters are declaring their freedom, even though they are fully aware they probably won’t live to see a sun set. The yearning for freedom is that important to them.

As a literary device I used many mythological symbols to take the characters to the edge of social acceptance to arrive at a life beyond the laws of mankind to learn the meaning of their existence, to touch the face of what they were meant to be. To step beyond the limits that all the social devices of our age place upon us as shackles, the characters had to break all the rules and reach for their human potential beyond the reach of the law to truly understand. The point of the chase is actually a metaphor for how society as a whole seeks to hold individuals to the limits of the law. And to the point of Tail of the Dragon, the law is made up primarily of social reformers who have control and manipulation in mind, and not the needs of the people in general. So the conflict works at many levels, and the characters are both running to it and from it so they can smash through some invisible social barrier they have no way to understand, until it’s too late.

Of course if everyone in society acted on these impulses, there would be chaos. But in the name of art, we can explore these emotions through these characters so that the reader can break free like Rick Stevens into the world beyond politicians, legal manipulation, and guilt ridden morality to a place where the human being can be everything that it was meant to be. And in Tail of the Dragon, even though the results are tragic, the hero quest is in the pursuit of this freedom that is uniquely American, a freedom I touched on so often during my motorcycle trips, that exists just out of our reach.

Q: So when does it come out and what’s in the future for Tail of the Dragon? What about a sequel, or a series? This has to become a movie.

A: Well, again, not to give anything away, I don’t think there could be a sequel. That’s all I can say about that. But the book should be out within months. The publisher has not given me a firm release date yet, which was pushed out in the last-minute because of a change by me to the manuscript during my final reading approval. But it will be very soon. As to a movie, I think that may be a possibility. But for now, I mean for it to be a literary experience that is very personal to the reader. This is a journey that is intended in a language only a book can provide. I envision that there will be many readers clamoring for a taste of freedom on long motorcycle trips like the ones my wife and I enjoy going on that will pack this book in their side bags and pull off at that McDonalds between Key West and Key Largo and just rest for a while and cool off while reading Tail of the Dragon over a Big Mac like I’ve enjoyed doing over the years on many occasions. I have no doubt that the visitors to the mountain cabins around the actual Dragon will buy the book and enjoy reading it in the early morning mist that hovers around the mountains and contemplate the grand adventure of Rick Stevens and his epic car chase. A book is a personal journey that is deeply intimate for the reader, and as a lover of books, I put everything the written word can articulate into Tail of the Dragon to provide for readers an adventure they will never forget and yearn for again and again.

Stay tuned!!!! –And pass this on to a friend!

For more information and video about the actual Tail of the Dragon from The Discovery Channel and Good Morning America, CLICK HERE.

This is what people are saying about my new book–Tail of the Dragon

Just finished the book and am sweating profusely. Wow, what a ride !!!  Fasten your seat belts for one of the most thrilling rides ever in print.

Check out more by CLICKING HERE!

Rich Hoffman
https://overmanwarrior.wordpress.com/2010/12/04/ten-rules-to-live-by/
http://twitter.com/#!/overmanwarrior
www.overmanwarrior.com
 

What Being at the Front of the Train Looks Like: The Making of The Hobbit

My normal readers might be mystified by my sudden fascination with The Hobbit, the film that is set to be released in December of 2012 for part one, then December 2013 as a two-part film adaption of the classic Tolkien novel. Well, aside from being a lover of great books, I love great movies, I love stories that articulate mythology because it is myth that builds or dismantles cultures. I concluded this during my 10 year independent study of comparative religion and mythology led by Joseph Campbell. My passion for life is in these topics, and my anger at politics at all levels is because I can see clearly that they are on a destructive path in the scheme of cultural understanding. Many people who share these passions with me withdrawal from political involvement. I see this as a flaw since observations seem wasteful if assistance to our current culture is not utilized.

But the more I interact with the people of the world the more I’m disappointed, which is why people who study such things retreat to mountain cabins or even caves to live out their days with stacks of books and very little social interaction. Because when you work hard to gain knowledge and elevate your consciousness, it becomes infuriating to deal with people who insist on being stupid, and insist on being at the back of the train.

When I speak of trains at this site I’m talking about the Robert Pirsig concept of the Metaphysics of Quality which you can read and see a chart I prepared to display the idea at a previous article I wrote. (CLICK HERE) When you understand the Metaphysics of Quality you can accurately predict elements in society that will work and what will not work. Successes in society could be said to be at the “cutting edge” at the front of the train. Losers chose to be in the rear of the train, as exhibited in my article and chart as reference.

When I meet people who insist on being in the front of the train, I find joy. And I begin to cheer for those people to be right, because it takes a lot of courage to exist at the front of the train of any mode of thinking. In regard to The Hobbit, it is a film production that is at the front of the train. It is a project of extreme quality as determined by Pirsig’s Metaphysics of Quality. Because of that, I will predict right now that The Hobbit will win Best Picture at the Academy Awards ceremony in the spring of 2013 as well as Best Director along with at least 5 other Academy Awards. Part 2 of The Hobbit will do the same in the spring of 2014. It is as clear to me as a freshly cleaned window that The Hobbit is a special film, because The Hobbit obeys all the elements of the Metaphysics of Quality, and anyone who wishes to study what it looks like in the real world as opposed to words on a printed page needs to just watch this Hobbit Blog from the set of that same film to study what being in the front of the train looks like and see quality before it’s creation.

The primary reason for The Hobbit’s success is Peter Jackson, the director. He functions from the front of the train as most successful people do. But the difference with Jackson is that he effortlessly is able to deal with all elements of his train, with ease. Keep in mind that the film he is working on has a budget of around $150 million dollars which is the same budget as the Lakota School System or any medium-sized corporation. The startling aspect of the above clip is that Jackson is not predatory in his dealings with his co-workers. He is loose, and addresses all departments of his film projects equally. Jackson knows he is way out in front of everyone else, that he’s on the cutting edge, but he does not feel the need to belittle the other members of the train, even those in the back who tend to bankroll these kinds of projects. Jackson deals with everyone well, and this is reflected in his films.

Movies to me are fascinating to study as little mini companies. They rise up like rain clouds then storm like there is no tomorrow then as quickly as they came are gone from the sky as though they were never there. They go through a typical business cycle in just a few years what a company like Boeing might go through over decades. In the clip above you are seeing the start of a company, the hiring, and basic implementation of the product by a small army of cast and crew. On a movie, thousands of people are suddenly employed; hand-picked by the producers to execute the product, so the quality of those decisions will ultimately determine the success of the venture.

Most film productions do their hiring from the back of the train. Jackson does his from the front. This is the prime difference in determining success or failure. It doesn’t matter if it’s a movie, a large company, or an advertising firm; they all share in the rules of the Metaphysics of Quality. If decisions are made by those at the front of the train they tend to work much better than those from the back. The science behind that concept requires study to understand the reason. But it does not take a mind from the back, middle or front of the train to observe quality and anyone with a mind can witness from the above clip that there is something special going on with The Hobbit.

Unfortunately people like Peter Jackson are rare. And I doubt that Jackson set out to learn and live the Metaphysics of Quality. Jackson is the benefactor of a number of unusual circumstances that prepared his mind to be simply the greatest film director in the modern world. And he is. History will prove it. Those two Hobbit films will bring joy to hundreds of millions of fans and will generate at least a billion dollars in revenue per film for a two-year period. The merchandising alone will carry the mythology of The Hobbit into mainstream culture that will transcend politics for years to come and society will benefit from that joy in immeasurable ways. And it all starts at the front of the train of thinking, in the clip seen above.

You see, because Jackson is at the front of the train he’s already achieved the success in his mind. He’s already arrived and it shows in his body language, his speeches, his general communication to the people under him. He doesn’t feel a need to comb his hair or dress in a particular way to impress anyone, because he doesn’t need to. Everyone else in the world is under him in thought and he knows it. But he doesn’t rub it in either. He knows that the people in the middle of the train, who are helping him make the films will understand where he’s going eventually, and they’ll arrive there of their own accord. The financiers in the back of the train with the media are scared as they always are. They are ready to jump off the train at the first sign of trouble. But when the box office receipts come in, they’ll be the first to take credit for the entire train. And Jackson knows it and does not show bitterness about the process. Because by the time all this happens, he’s already on to his next project well out of sight from those in the back of the train and Jackson doesn’t care. And society isn’t even on the train, they just watch it come and go in passive observation. Once it passes they might say they enjoyed it and will remember it far into the future. But they cannot take credit for its creation, or its motion. For them it’s just an experience.

So when I’m ready to fold up the chairs and take my books up to a mountain cabin and tell the world to go “fu** itself” these clips by Jackson remind me that not everyone is worth casting away as fools. Because Jackson reminds me that there are some good things to look forward to, and there are people worth knowing. Peter Jackson and his Hobbit films are examples of these. Traveling in the front of the train is usually a very difficult task because the rest of the train weighs you down. And most of the time it leaves those in the front feeling used and abused. But every now and then the situation works out really well, and Peter Jackson is among the best of the best at what he does, and I find his work refreshing, and his Hobbit Blogs more than entertaining. I see in them hope and it is how I recharge my own batteries for all the parasites that I feel I drag along behind me who refuse to move their feet or exercise their minds.

That’s why fighting from the front of the train is better than retreating off the train all together to read books and watch the worlds trains roll by in a valley below without being engaged. It doesn’t always feel that way, but it’s worth doing.

Rich Hoffman

https://overmanwarrior.wordpress.com/2010/12/04/ten-rules-to-live-by/
http://twitter.com/#!/overmanwarrior
www.overmanwarrior.com
 

Check out Rich Hoffman’s favorite website, (besides this one):

http://thepeoplescube.com/

Avast There Matey: Birthday, Pirates, and Freedom at all costs

Avast there matey’s. As my daughter returned to her abode after a full night of retail work, a 22nd birthday awaited her and it is the duty of her family to usher in these festivities with the kind of rhythmic tempo demanded by her upbringing. To understand what follows for those of timid nature, please refer to these past articles.

https://overmanwarrior.wordpress.com/2011/05/09/the-magic-of-pirates-spending-mothers-day-at-the-hoffman-house/

https://overmanwarrior.wordpress.com/2011/05/16/pirates-freedom-and-key-west-whats-more-important-order-or-happiness/

It was her husband who carried on a tradition that has become a part of our very souls…….savvy. For my daughter has been raised to think as a good and just person, as her sister has been as well, by my wife who is as good and just a person to ever breath air. However, I had my hand in their upbringing also and presented to them a firm distrust of the law, and a wit to survive no matter what the social conditions or government circumstance and that if injustice befalls my children at any point in their lives, that the pirate life would be the only life for them. And so the most treasured prize she desired on this birthday of hers was the recently released Blue Ray edition of Pirates of the Caribbean’s 4 film treasure chest that her husband bought for her, and hid in her home to be found with the aid of a treasure map seen in the video below.

But our love of pirates goes far deeper than Pirates of the Caribbean, for we have spent many nights and days indulging in pirate lore as I taught all my kids the valiant efforts of Henry Morgan and a host of real and unreal mythical pirates which have populated the dreams of my daughter and reside deep in her soul which will overlook her through a life time on earth and a life which will extend into the ever after. It is without doubt, these figures of my stories passed through my daughters exhausted 22-year-old mind as her fingers gripped her steering wheel on her journey home after 12 hours straight of work and no sleep until her final destination and the treasure hunt that found her at the day’s conclusion.
My daughter might say that in her recollections of my stories she sees me most in the spirit of Captain Montana Mays. May’s military commanders disliked his wild and reckless ways: he lost seven ships chasing sea monsters and other cursed ilk. But they admit that he always finds a new ship to sail, even if she doesn’t meet Navy specs. His crew and the American press love him, and extol his exploits every chance they get.

Her mother, my wife emits the essence of Calico Cat, being too successful in the Atlantic; the “Cat” became a target of every nation that sailed there. But it was treachery by her own crew that nearly led her to the gallows. Disguised as a widowed Puritan she escaped to the Pacific, where she has but one goal: to amass enough power to return for her revenge.

Her own husband the heroic Jack Hawkins at the wheel of the Dauntless! Her sister Bonny Peel, mentored by Calico Cat, she saw her opportunity to command when the Cat mysteriously disappeared. Tough on her crew she’s rumored to be kind to those she captures sometimes even ransoming them back for nothing more than the right to dock at their ports.

But that’s not all, Duque Marcus Vaccaro, also known as the “Golden Tongue,” is Spain’s most important negotiator. He alone can interrupt the king at any hour, and his imperatives often become reality. He has been dispatched to the Italian city-states, the Knights of Malta, and even to England and France. Devereaux, the French privateer, has lost his sanity to his obsession with finding the Dragon’s Eye, a gem that legend says grants the owner immortality. The beautiful Lady Baptiste, considered both a hero and a scourge, she has even been asked by Madame LaFontaine to be one of her girls. Her allegiance remains true to her ship and crew. Madame LaFontaine is the proprietress of Chateau Fontainebleu, a burlesque house in New Orleans. Her girls report everything they hear to her which she can then sell to the highest bidder. Guy LaPlante born in New Orleans has never seen the France he defends. Both Madame LaFontaine and Vicomtesse Richelieu covert his new-world attitude, but he desires only one treasure: Lady Baptiste. Luc Savard watched Canada become a pawn and forgotten territory while the upstart United States thrived, Savard grew increasingly dissatisfied. Starting life as a pirate preying on U.S. ships was a start, but when he was outlawed by Canada, he vowed to fight on his own until he controlled the entire hemisphere. Tabatha McWarren was run out of Providence. Two months later she arrived in New Orleans with a crew devoted to her life. To join her crew, a sailor must drink a mug of her home-brew of cursed blood. Geoffery Flores signaled his resignation from the French Navy with the dead body of his superior officer, who referred to him as a half-breed. Captain Flores is ruthless to his prey but generous to his crew. Gaston de St. Croix might have damned his soul, but Crimson Angel has shown him the gates of heaven. Jonas Richman knows the seduction of evil only too well. The loss of his family to violent predators left him with a single motivation: the destruction of any servant of evil! Brent Rice has always been signed on with the American Navy; he’s just always been there. Although he has no rank, his stories of ship engagements are so exact, and his knowledge of naval strategy so advanced, he is sought after by every military commander. And finally, Sammy the Skull! While Sammy Skulow was alive, he was considered one of the most brutal and insane captains. It is only fitting then, that his hatred for everyone damned him to living even after his flesh rotted away upon his death as his body roams the seas with his sails set for destruction as a phantom ghost and recruiter for the gates of hell!

These are but a few of the characters which populate the childhood mythologies of my children and my oldest daughter is particularly deeply embedded in this lore which gives me great comfort in the knowledge that her survival is not dependent upon the souls of mankind. So to celebrate her 22nd birthday it is appropriate for all of her family to recreate the mythology of her youth so the spirit does not die as her age advances. For it is a rule we all established long ago, that so long as the rules of man could provide a reasonable living, that we would be kind to our enemies and live by a justice generally agreed upon by the collective minds of man. However, should the looters of living continue to rob and pillage our existence to the point where our own lives no longer have any quality, then plan B is already on our minds. I’ll crush ye barnacles matey…..savvy……….for there are far more things to fear than the spirit of those who are willing to leave the static patterns of society and the rules that come with them to defeat the enemies of freedom……..no matter what the cost. Shiver me timbers the sweet trade is what comes next when all else fails. And birthdays are a not only a celebration of what years have passed, but what the years have yet to show.

https://overmanwarrior.wordpress.com/2011/11/12/dead-men-tell-no-tails-a-fair-warning-im-obligated-to-give/

For the answer to everything click the link below!

https://overmanwarrior.wordpress.com/2011/09/18/the-answer-is-c-who-runs-society-the-engine-or-the-boxcar/

Rich Hoffman
https://overmanwarrior.wordpress.com/2010/12/04/ten-rules-to-live-by/
http://twitter.com/#!/overmanwarrior
www.overmanwarrior.com