Tuesday, November 5, 2013

"Shrinkage" (My book)

My first book, "Shrinkage," was released on April 29. It's available now in hardcover, digital and audiobook formats from Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iTunes, Wal-Mart (yes, my book is sold at Wal-Mart... how crazy is that??) - pretty much everywhere. I worked really hard on it and I think it's pretty good, so please consider ordering it today.

UPDATE (4/17): The audiobook is available for order! Check out the official page from the publisher to listen to an excerpt.

UPDATE (3/27): The official Facebook page for Shrinkage is live! Thanks to Mike Altier for creating and managing it. More behind-the-scenes pictures and goodies to come. Stop by, have a look around, and "Like" it, if you're so inclined.

UPDATE (3/13): This is awesome… Amazon's editors named "Shrinkage" to their list of "Big Spring Books: Fresh Picks From Our Editors." The list is subtitled "Books to Look For This Spring: Twenty books we think you’ll be hearing a lot more about this season." Check out the list here! 

UPDATE (2/8): Signing events! More will be added, but here are the first ones to be confirmed.

UPDATE (1/6): Here's a link to a really fun interview I did… or rather, I'm doing. It's called "Reply All," and it's a sort of live-blogged, ever-evolving interview-meets-email-exchange. Lots of book talk, and more.

UPDATE (11/5): Here is the official page from the publisher. A special thanks to everyone who wrote an amazing blurb for the book.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

LA Brain Tumor Walk: Oct. 19, 2013

The National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS) had their second annual Los Angeles Brain Tumor Walk on the morning of October 19, and they once again asked me to be the honorary Chairperson for the event. I'm flattered and honored, but most of all, I'm excited to make this event successful, memorable and fun. Last year, we raised over $250,000 - well above our goal. This year, we raised $289,000 by the day of the walk - and we're not done yet!

Please consider making a donation to the NBTS (all the money they raise goes to research, advocacy, patient care, and finding a cure) or to Team Bald Bryan. All funds raised by the end of the year go towards the total for this year's walk.

You can still donate to my team here.

More info: www.BrainTumorWalk.org/LosAngeles

UPDATE! Here I am promoting the Walk locally on LA's KCAL 9 morning news. If you look closely, you can see the bags under my eyes.

2 Southland Walks To Benefit Brain Tumor Research « CBS Los Angeles

Monday, September 9, 2013

Commissioner Me

My Top Fantasy Football Scoring Changes

I love fantasy football. As with any relationship, sometimes I hate certain things about it, but I always come crawling back. One of the things I hate most is when the scoring doesn't reflect value in the real (NFL) world. The horrible trend of a quarterback's passing touchdowns being only worth 4 points is a perfectly absurd example of this. Quarterback is the most important position in football - and possibly in all of team sports. Why would you not want to reflect that in the fantasy game?? Look at the playoffs - you'll see most of the league's dominant QBs playing in January. Why? Because teams with dominant QBs usually win a lot of games. That's how it is in the NFL, and thus how it should be in fantasy football.

I've never been the commissioner of a league - too much pressure, what with having to approve and reject trades and such - but if I ever become one, here are the other scoring changes I will immediately implement:

No loss of points on quarterback kneel downs. My #1 pet peeve in fantasy scoring. Your QB has played well enough to win the game. He has the ball and is simply running out the clock by mercifully taking a knee after the snap. Yet the official scorer counts this as a rushing attempt - for a loss of yards! QB kneel-downs should be considered their own thing - DEFINITELY not rushing attempts. I know a guy who lost a close fantasy matchup because his QB lost a couple of points by kneeling with the ball after a dominating victory. It's the spirit of the rule.

Instead of Points Per Reception (PPR), first downs should count for points. PPR leagues are dumb. Why is a 1-yard dump-off to a running back worth a point? Are Wes Welker's 10 catches for 80 yards really worth 18 points? No. In the real world of the NFL, first downs are much more valuable than a simple catch. A tight end catching a 2-yard pass on 2nd-and-13 means nothing, but on 3rd-and-1, that could be crucial to winning the game.

Tackles for loss should be worth 1.5 points. I love playing with Individual Defensive Players (IDP). It brings a whole new element to the game and makes you a more informed fan. Plus, it turns out defense is important, and having a dominant defensive player in real life can get you to the playoffs. But in normal fantasy scoring, ALL tackles are worth a point, whether you drag down a receiver who just burned you for 55 yards, or you tackle the running back 4 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Make the latter worth just a bit more.

Missed Field Goals should cost you points. I'm not talking about desperation 50-yard attempts. But if you miss a gimme chip-shot field goal - say, 30 yards or less - your team should be docked a point or two. In fantasy scoring, your team gets more points based on the length of the field goal (4 points for a 40-yarder, 5 points for a 50-yarder, etc), so make a missed 30-yard FG worth -1 point and a missed 20-yarder worth -2. Because again, in the real world, missing a scoring chance and turning over the ball so close to the end zone is like giving a point or two to the other team. 

Major Penalties = loss of a point. This would be great, because it adds a new wrinkle to your draft strategy. You'll think twice about drafting Ndamukong Suh or any Raider if they lose a point for every 15-yard penalty. And I'm not talking about anything of the 5- or 10-yard variety. As a reflection of the real world, doesn't this make sense? If you kill your team's drive with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, should't that be worth losing a point in fantasy?

Recovering an onside kick should be a point or two. Most leagues have a Defense and Special Teams on the roster. Yet the biggest play they might make in a game goes unrewarded. Considering how rare and valuable an onside kick recovery is, it should be worth AT LEAST one point. 

Return yards should count. In most leagues, you don't get points for return yards (whether the yards come on an interception return, fumble, punt or kickoff return). If Adrian Peterson breaks off a 50-yard run, that's worth 5 points. But if Patrick Peterson (see what I did there?) returns an interception 50 yards, it's only worth a couple of points. How is that remotely fair? The interception and return is a MUCH more valuable play in the real world, and should be valued as such in fantasy. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Open Letter to T.C. Boyle

Apologies for posting this letter in such a public forum. I tried sending this to TC Boyle directly, but the email address I had must have been old or abandoned, because it got sent back to me as undeliverable  Hopefully this finds its way to him.

Hello Dr. Boyle,

This is your former student Bryan Bishop. I was a Creative Writing major at USC from 1996-2000. Your name came up recently when another former student of yours - Brad Thor - came on the podcast I work on to promote his new book, "Hidden Order." I read that he (like I) had studied under you at USC. We traded stories for a bit and laughed at what a small world we live in.

Our exchange got me thinking about my experience at USC in your class. Yours was easily one of the best courses I ever took at any level of my education. It was so supremely influential on my life and career choices. To wit: I was more than a little proud to tell Brad that I myself have my first book coming out next summer. It is going to be published by Thomas Dunne Books (a division of St. Martin's Press/Macmillan).

Brad told me you had recently retired from USC. Congratulations, sir, on a magnificent academic career. If you were still employed at the university, I would send a copy of my book to your office (where you and I met on occasion). If you feel comfortable providing me with an address, I would be honored to send you a copy.

Thank you, and congratulations again.

Your student (and fan),
Bryan Bishop