Thursday, March 26, 2009

Wise Blood

Wise Blood will, at long last, make it's way to DVD May 12th! This movie has been out of print for years.
It seems Flannery O'Connor is finally getting the love she so deserves...first a bio was released in February (oddly enough, the first in depth biography ever wrote), and now this.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Debt to Clancy

As I watched the two towers burn on 9/11, the first thing I thought was "Tom Clancy wrote this would happen."

I've had a love hate relationship with Tom Clancy for quite sometime; on one hand he describes WAY too much and isn't the greatest writer...on the other hand he may just be one of the best storytellers of the Cold War age.

I have read his Jack Ryan books off and on ever since I picked up "The Hunt for Red October" one summer while looking for an easy read to spend a few days with. Those of you not familiar with Clancy, Jack Ryan is the main character in most of the books, and he's done it all and seen it all. In "Executive Orders" he became President--one of the best ones the country ever saw, of course (it's fiction, after all)

When Amazon released Tom Clancy on Kindle last month, I was in the mood for an easy read, and download "Debt of Honor" (SPOILER ALERT: the reason this book is known as the 9/11 one is the ending has a plane crashing into the Capital Building in DC, and wiping out a huge chuck of the government (including all nine Supreme Court Justices and the President), which is how Ryan becomes President, and the stage is set for "Executive Orders")

The book is about a war between the U.S. and Japan; the book would be interesting if it was just a plain old fashion war, but what makes it absolutely fascinating is one of the ways Japan attacks the country--economically; Japan engineers the collapse of the U.S. stock market--done so in a way that made me think instantly of our current economic crisis; in the midst of this, the Vice President is involved in a sex scandal, and Ryan is later asked to become Vice President just until the elections over.

Most of his books are about 800 pages; a good editor would have no problem cutting this down to 350 or 400. Writing narratives isn't what makes Clancy so great; it's his stories. He writes about scenarios that I'm not sure the government has fully worked out, and he does so in a way that makes you just a little afraid, because you know that everything he's writing could quite easily come true.

The dialogue is a bit corny at times, but if you ever wanted to know the workings of government he's worth the read.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Evolution of Quiet, Please

Coming soon, "Quiet, Please" in Chinese and Korean

Friday, March 20, 2009

Happy Birthday, Diana! I Love You!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Don't Watch, Man! Save to Rent!

I wasn't as excited about Watchmen as some people; I had read the book and I didn't quite think it lived up to its expectations. It was a fun read, but not quite the masterpiece everyone claimed--it was ahead of its time, but that's about it. So when I went to see the movie this weekend, I didn't have high hopes--despite Roland (from the book)'s claim that it was one of the greatest superhero movies of all time.

I think part of the problem is it's not a superhero movie--it's an anti-superhero movie. As we stood in line to buy tickets, two teens went away disappointed when they learned it was R; the teen said, "What kind of super hero movie is this?!" I couldn't help but laugh. The movie used gore where other super hero movies left it up to the imagination, had dialogue that was silly at best, and had a story that just went on way too long--you could have easily cut out 40 minutes and it still would have made sense.

I suspect the director wanted to stay loyal to the book, and perhaps this is another one of its follies. Print doesn't transcribe well onto film; you have to change things around. It felt like the director wanted to pay homage to the book, and give something to true fans--but he forgot that for a movie to do well you have to make a movie that sells well to the mass, and not just the fans.

As I walked out of the movie, I could help but wonder if this was nothing more than an R-Rated version of the Incredibles (then again the Incredibles was nothing more than a PG version of Watchmen)...the storyline is the same in many respects--super heroes must become normal people, but they never quite fit this mold and always secretly wanted to get back into action; the villain turns out to be someone the good guys know in both movies to--a villain, in both cases, that became corrupt in part because of fantasies about what a super hero is. The only difference is the Incredibles was funny--even charming; Watchmen is just long.

The Dark Knight is the perfect example of a dark superhero movie done right; people's bones are broke, but unlike Watchman, the audience doesn't see the bones sticking out of their body--and there's no slow motion clip of people's faces getting smashed in--and there's certainly no sex scenes with a slutty girl who can't keep it in her pants on (please tell me I'm not the only one just a little creep out when the girl was hitting on her father? Totally unnecessary and weird!)--Diana said it was also weird that she left the blue guy who could basically please her in ways not human for a guy who couldn't even get it up at first was also a bit weird...I agree.

The soundtrack was great (especially the title sequence); and parts of the movie was entertaining--but the just of the movie was a sloppy, unedited mess, that needed more test screenings and definitely more cutting. If movies carried a letter grade, then this one would get a B-...a good effort, a potentially good movie, but too many flaws to get into A turf.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Quiet, Please For Kindle

Quiet, Please  has at last found it's way onto Kindle. I've been hearing about people boycotting books that are over $9.99...sadly, my book falls into the above $9.99 price. At $15 it's still cheaper than the hardback.

I wish I had more say in how the book is formatted...I would have rewrote it for Kindle because footnotes on that device can be frustrating, and text box's just do not fit.

I also had to buy a copy of my own book to have it on my Kindle, which I think is absolutely ridiculous. Authors usually get ten to twenty free copies of any editions, but I guess this doesn't apply to electronic.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Did You Watch It?

I didn't make it out to the cinema this weekend to see Watchmen, but it seems like everyone else did. Check out Roland (from the book) review of Watchmen...I can say with certainty that he gets one thing right--the My Chemical Romance cover of Dylan's "Desolation Row" is HORRIBLE.

Watch the video below and see for themselve...I think what happened is some guy in a suit said, "Hey, the Watchmen people will pay you a bundle of money if you cover a Bob Dylan song." And they said, "Who the heck is Bob Dylan? He sounds old." And the guy in the suit said, "It doesn't matter. Here's the words. Just play it super fast. The important thing is that you let the guitar sound more important then lyrics." And why did Watchmen pay them lots of money? Because they knew the song would be horrible, and if the movie was bad there is no possible way it could be as bad as the cover.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Weekend Funnies

Friday, March 6, 2009

Sit Down, Shut Up

I just read a very short EW post about the new Fox animated series, Sit Down, Shut Up! It's from one of the creators of Arrested Development, Mitch Hurwitz, and features voices from Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, and Henry Winkler. I'm sold on the show just because Hurwitz is attached, and judging from the short clip up on YouTube, it won't disappointed...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

New Dylan Album Due In April

Proving again that he works harder than basically any artist on Earth, Bob Dylan will have a new album out in late April (this on top of that memoir he's supposedly scribing, the never-ending tour, the radio show he host, and Hank Williams record that he's producing).

According to Rolling Stone, the teen track record will be dark country.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Book Review A Long Time Coming...

Several months (yes, months), ago I received a note and book from Ian Sansom (author of "The Book Stops Here"), which I have just now got around to answering; those who know me know that it often takes me seconds to answer an email, but way too long to answer an actual letter--a bizarre phenomenon, I know. My wife is the one you should direct any corresponds to if you desire a prompt reply.

Added to the fact that that this letter was physical and not digital was the matter of the book. I felt obliged to read it, as I feel obliged to read anything sent to me in the regular mail, and I found it would be rude to reply before reading it. But I feared reading it, because that would mean I immediately was put in danger of not liking it, and having to fluff my letter in reply with unfit praise.

Alas, however, I have finished the book, finished the letter, and wrote a blog to tell about it.

Some of you know that I teach online writing for the Gotham Writers’ Workshop in NYC; the thing I tell my students most often is write characters well. It doesn’t matter how weak the plot is—if you create characters that are interesting, then your book will be great.

I’m not trying to say the plot of Sansom’s book was bad (it’s not)—I’m trying to say it has fantastic characters. They were absurd, dry, bitter, and absolutely hysterical to watch. The plot of the book centers around the disappearance of an old, beat-up, bookmobile. It’s a strange plot for a book, but Sansom makes it work.

I’m not a fan of mystery books (it’s probably about the only genre, aside from erotica) that I do not read. Because of this, I had a stand-offish attitude towards the book, and that’s a shame because it was such a fun read.

In recent years, I have been drawn away from contemporary fiction; I think part of this is the stories I’ve read in recent years takes themselves too seriously and don’t offer the same kind of escape as classics. They are often full of thought provoking themes, but not enough actual storytelling—there are exceptions to this of course, but sometime it seems like these days there’s less and less exceptions.  The Book Stops Here is an exception; it’s a lighthearted story that never takes itself too seriously.

I recommend you buy, borrow it, check it out, or do whatever it is you do when you are looking for something good to read.

Monday, March 2, 2009

DFW Gets Last Tycoon Treatment

David Foster Wallace's final novel (which is not complete) will be published in 2010 along with notes and an outline about his direction.

The Revenge of Gawker

A few years back, a publisher paid Gawker $250,000 to write a book; they had thousands (perhaps millions) of readers, so how could it be a bad thing? It turned out to be a very bad thing. I'm not sure how many copies it finally sold...I know in 2007 (when it first came out) less than 500 copies were sold. I imagined this number has grown thanks to places like the .99 cent store, who probably currently have it on there shelves. Whatever the numbers were, it was disappointing, and it made a lot of editors think twice before shelling out cash for a book by a blogger.

So what does that have to do with anything? HarperCollins just paid former Gawker writer Nick Douglas (no relation to Scott Douglas) a five figure advance to write (if you call this writing) a book of his favorite Twitter posts! The only thing odder than paying money to read a book with nothing but Twitter post, is that the guy can actually find enough Twitter post to fill up a book an entire book.

I sarcastically asked a few weeks ago if Twitter was making us dumber...well, we might find out real soon.