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August 6, 2014
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September 3, 2014
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What’s Your Number?

Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

You’ve heard the terms to describe a certain type of person. All talk, no action. All sizzle, no steak. All foam, no beer. Or one of my all time favorites that derived in Texas, all hat, no cattle.

These are all terms to describe somebody who speaks a big game but never really delivers.

My old man had another way of describing this kind of blow hard. He’d say that person had a high P to BS ratio. The P standing for Product. The BS standing for, well, you can probably figure that out.

“See that guy?” he’d say. “He talks a big game. Too bad he’s got a damn high P to BS ratio.”

I’m partial to this description. Not just because it came from my father. But because it offers a calculus to measure one’s own dithering versus one’s actual doing.

I’d like to think I have a reasonably low P to BS ratio. At least that’s the standard I try to live up—or should I say—down to. Maybe even to a fault. I so don’t care to talk about what I’m doing that I have been known to flummox both my agents and my beloved War Department. Relatives have often complained that I never tell them what I’m working on. I’d explain that it’s not because I’m so secretive. I’d just rather show you than explain it to you.

Then there was my mom.

“Whatcha working on, honey?” she would ask.

“Same kinda stuff,” I’d say. “Loud action movies with lots of foul language.”

“Ha ha ha,” she’d say with petroleum thick sarcasm. “I’m sure you are. But seriously.”


“Anything special?”

“They’re all special, mom.”

“None more special than the other?”

“Love ‘em the same, mom. Just like your children.”

“Who says I love you the same?”

“I know you love me less. Shoulda seen that one coming.”

“Why won’t you talk to me about what you do?” she begrudged.

“Just don’t like to talk about stuff until it’s real.”

“But I’m your mom.”

“Yes. And next time I talk to you, you’ll ask about that thing I told you about. And I might have to say it’s not happening because it didn’t happen.”

“Why wouldn’t it happen?”

“Which is exactly what you would ask next,” I’d say, going on to explain, “Because some things don’t work out. A million reasons why a movie falls apart. And it’s no fun explaining it. In fact, it’s like reliving a nightmare.”

“Even if you’re telling your mom.”

“Especially if I’m explaining it to my mom.”

“Because I love you?”

“Because you’re way too curious.”

“Is that wrong to be curious about my own child’s job?”

“It’s a lovely gift that sometimes goes awry.”

“Like now?”

“Just be satisfied I’m working. I’m getting paid well. I’m happy with what I do.”

“It’s your father’s fault,” she said. “It’s that P to baloney thing he always talks about.”

Pop’s fault or otherwise, I’d just rather keep my own counsel, do my work, and wait for the studio publicity machine to gin up interest for the only folks who truly matter. The consumers of whatever product I’ve had a part in making.

But that’s just me.

So many others would rather tell you, talk at you, describe to you, natter and yack and illustrate for you their grand plans for success. And yet, so many months later, when you cross paths with same person and ask about his latest endeavor, he seems to have moved on to another scheme, thus beginning a whole ‘nother cycle of ear-bending bunk.

Like this schmuck:

“Hey Doug,” he said. “You know anybody in the video game biz?”

“I might’ve met somebody,” I said politely.

“Cuz I got this bangin’ concept,” El Schmucko went on to say. “Video game based on an actual historical event. And that’s just the first platform. It expands into a movie, then a TV show, merchandising, commercial ties ins.”

“Sounds big,” I said.

“Gonna be huge,” he continued. “Just gotta tie up the last rights’ holder. Lawyers, you know.”

“Oh. I know.”

“So you said you might know somebody?”

“In the gaming game?”

“Video games. Yeah.”

“I know people who know people,” I explained. “More like that.”

“Can you put me in touch with them?” To make things more sticky, El Schmucko was asking me this question with a straight, I’m serious-about-this-shit face.

“Not really my wheelhouse,” I deflected.

“But you said you might know somebody.”

Yes. It’s true. I might’ve known somebody. Somebody who might even matter in the video gaming universe. But for El Schmucko to assume I might make the intro based on his informing me that he’s sitting on top of a King Solomon’s goldmine concept is a mighty stretch. And I’ll usually lay strong odds that whatever intellectual property rights he’s locked up are attached to some other halfwit’s Rube Goldberg construct of ownership which is sure to include more lawyers, an unbreachable family trust or two, a vellum covenant between the Vatican and the Illuminati, and a once-in-a-millenium alignment of Jupiter, Pluto, and a ripe pimple on Kim Kardashian’s most infamous asset.

You see, El Schmucko’s idea of a business plan is to light a candle at both ends in hope that when the two flames meet there’ll be some sort of chemical-like cataclysm that somehow manifests in million dollar bills raining down on him from the heavens.

In essence, El Schmucko has a pretty big number. And as one might expect, when I next bump into him and ask about his last killer concept, he’ll inform me that even though the video game “thing” was still in play, he has a new grand scheme to resurrect the IP’s on nineteen-seventies era game shows in order to turn them into ninety-nine cent smartphone apps.

We all know these folks. Hell, I’ll wager some of you might not merely be acquainted with, but are even up to your nose-hairs in business with one of these high-quotient charlatans. If so, good luck. Or maybe you should grab your toys and run for the exit.

More importantly, take a look in the mirror and put a number on what you see.

Lastly, as summer vacation draws to a close, I’m going to put the blog in the freezer until after Labor Day. For you non-Americano blog fans, that’d be the first full week of September. Until then…


  1. david kessler says:

    Loved this, Doug. Reminded me of my own Hollywood B*llsh**-ters. A guy (they tend to be guys, right?) for years kept telling me he was going to introduce me to the creator of a MEGA hit show cause I could be the next ‘mega-hit’ star. (not that I was aiming for that or even asking from him — he would volunteer the introduction)

    • Doug Richardson says:

      You’re right, David. It usually is a guy. Now why is that?

      • Kerri Moseley-Hobbs says:

        It’s not that women aren’t BS-ers, it’s that women treat ideas like lions treat meat: you’ll never have access to it until we’re finished with it, and by that time we’ve either succeeded at it, or thrown it to the wayside so it’s no longer worth talking about, so you never know it happened.. muahahahaha!

  2. James Moran says:

    Exactly why I keep quiet about details until I know it’s in the bag. Not a superstition, more self protection… By the way, I was always partial to the similar expression “all mouth and no trousers”.

  3. Mick Alderman says:

    Sounds like something my old man might say, too. Sad thing is – at
    least in the indie film world – people fall for the BS time and
    again. Like you, I pride myself on being a straight shooter. But no
    one gives me the time of day because El Schmucko over there is hocking
    the snake oil with fervent aplomb. My dad also often laments, “Why’d we
    have to be born with a conscience?!”

    • Doug Richardson says:

      It may be a lament, Mick. But only in jest, I’m sure. Without morality and conscience there’d be chaos.

      • Mick Alderman says:

        In jest, certainly. But also frustration over the fact that those seemingly unencumbered by conscience very often wind up the most successful. The “nice guys finish last” aphorism.

  4. M Pepper says:

    I’m sort of superstitious about it. For some reason, I feel like if I talk about an idea or project too much, it will never happen. Maybe because if I tell it, I then don’t feel the drive to write it.

    • Doug Richardson says:

      M Pepper. You remind me that I expected only those with the correct P to BS ratio would comment here. Doubt anybody with an actual bad number would be brave enough to come out here.

  5. Johnny O says:

    “Still waters run deep.” – Dr Dre

  6. Herschel Horton says:

    I’ve been working seriously in the biz for a short four years and I can’t believe the number of people in the business that are always a gnat hair away from the big deal. I’d rather just keep plugging along working on my craft and hopefully one day I’ll hit a few triples and maybe a homer. Maybe the people that have that high P to B ratio never really tried working hard for something. Or just maybe they don’t have enough B & HW (Brains and Hard Work) in them to really be a “Player”!

    • Doug Richardson says:

      Herschel. I haven’t measured many gnat hairs. But I reckon it must have an awfully serious tensile strength to retard so many showbiz gasbags from crossing the finish line.

  7. Bryson Howe says:

    Completely unrelated to this blog but I am a big fan and just want to share a story with you. Today I watched Die Hard 2 with my sister and it came to the twist with the Marines and upon the new kid getting his throat slit I laughed at how devostated my sister was but realised it was the same reaction I had. That scene always stayed with me and that and the crazy effective introduction to the villain is why it’s my favourite Die Hard sequel. I tip my hat sir.

    Ps. He was just a new kid, trying to do his job. You are brutal hahaha

  8. Ralph says:

    Love this. Great advice, however, as a slowly recovering all-hat, I can’t resist the urge to note the delicious ratio of head to beer in your pic. Cheers.