Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Pneumatics and Mnemonics

By James O. Born

My thanks to Paul for relinquishing his blog day to focus on his new novel. He's talked about it with me and I already can't wait for the release.

I’m introducing a new movie this week. Thinking back to how I got started in the Youtube movie business I realized I could blame, who else, Jeff Shelby. He made a movie to congratulate the talented Lori Armstrong on a big book deal over on their blog, First Offenders and had to crack wise about me.

I retaliated with Literature and Lead. Just a fun, stupid nod to my friends Jeff and Joe Konrath. It has prompted more e-mails and attention that I could have imagined. I get twenty requests a week to shoot author’s books. Also the local NBC station wants to do a story on the video and is interviewing me later today.

I had so much fun with it that last Sunday I used an unusual weapon, a potato cannon, to help thriller writer David Hagberg remember my name. It’s called Pneumatics and Mnemonics. It’s short, fun and more politically correct than Literature and Lead. Don’t worry, I’m not succumbing to the tidal wave of absolutely non-offensive, mediocre, middle of the road, boring tripe. I just wanted to try something different. Let me know what you think.

Sorry if the embedding doesn't work. The links should.

See you Thursday,



  1. Actually, I want my own potato gun. Cool.

    And whaddaya know, I've actually read Allah's Scorpion.

  2. I haven't seen a pototao cannon in years. They're lots of fun to shoot. Your post brought back memories of an odd chain of events that happened during the coal miner's strike in the Virginia mountains.

    I was in the state police academy doing re-cert training with my narc dog when the first violence erupted. The strike had become a little bit physical so the state began sending uniformed troopers from all over to quell the violence. A show of force alone was supposed to be effective.

    Upon arrival in the mountains where the strikers had rallied, the troopers were met by bursts of potato-cannon fire coming from all sides. The miners, who were well-hidden by thick woods and brush, were actually blasting away at marked blue and gray units with baseball-size spuds.

    The Potato Platoon didn't stop there. After the troopers passed by a certain location, the hillbillies loaded the dirt and gravel roadway with jack rocks - large nails/spikes twisted into large jacks (think the game of jacks you played as a child).

    When the troopers attempted to back out of the spudfire they backed over the jacks, flattening their tires.

    Anyway, several of those cannons were confiscated and we got a chance to fire them on the range at the academy. They're pretty powerful and can actually send a Yukon Gold through a cinder block.

  3. Lee,

    Now that's an interesting story.

    I was careful ot to give too many details about the cannon away in the film.

    Propellant is the key.

    Mark, my neighbor built that for my birthday.


  4. So, Bill, loved that first shot into the water :) When's the sequel to Easy Money coming out?

    (totally laughed out loud, which might not have been a good thing since I'm at work...)

  5. I think you're the next Steven Spielberg. A star is Born...

  6. I know. I wrote about the propellant at first, but deleted it. Didn't want to see any spuds flying through my office window.

    Anyway, another great video.

  7. Wow, Jim. Great neighbor.

    My neighbor built one of those blow-up swimming pools alongside our fence and then forgot to turn off the hose one night last summer. Once the water level rose to the top, the whole thing collapsed and flooded my basement.

    I'd much rather my neighbor built me a potato gun.

  8. Dear Mr. Born:

    It has come to our attention that you have failed to apply for a potato gun permit under Ordinance 69-348(b)(1)(q) of the Palm Beach County Code.

    Please immediately cease and desist (and also stop!) using said potato gun until you secure the required permit and pay all fees.

    We also note that you have polluted a lake, pond, or inland waterway in violation of rules promulgated by the Army Corps of Engineers, the E.P.A., and your neighbor Lou.

    Thank you.

    Wally Finster
    Department of Nuisance Abatement

  9. I'd have more respect for Mr. Hagberg if his book could take a bullet.

    Also - the end credits should include your hairstylist.

  10. Love the first shot...looks like me shooting. And damn, how can anyone miss with a bullet the size of a potato? Was it a baked potato?

    Cool vid.

  11. Jeff noticed that I filmd part of the movie on another day. Aside from less wind, I also got a haircut.

    Aiming that thing is hard. I did manage to hit a house across the lake once. Luckily he's the guy who made the cannon and was proud.


  12. I want one of those spud guns. I could have real fun with that. And your video is just great - Patty's right, the next Spielberg. Peelers of the Lost Spud.

  13. Now I know why you borrowed our library book, 1,001 New Uses for Your Vegetable Garden: How to Shoot a Book and Make Potato Salad at the Same Time.

    However, as you failed to give proper acknowledgement to the book in your production credits, your library card is being rescinded, effective immediately.

    This is most unfortunate as the library recently received a book you would find useful: Mnemonics for Book Tour Authors, or How to Remember What Town You Are In and Which Book You are Promoting.