Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Kicking some vampire butt.

Sorry - but didn't all that goth-vampire-mortal love go down on Buffy the Vampire Slayer first? And better? Well, one could hope that Twilight's box office blow-out, and True Blood's hype might have some Hollywood producers dialing up Josh Wheedon to see about bringing Angel and Buffy to the big screen. Ah, if I ran things...

Anyway, if you're tired of mopey vamps and want a little more bloody red meat, then sink your teeth into Charlie Huston's Joe Pitt. Joe was a snot-nosed nihilistic punk in the New York underground scene until he was sucked dry and infected with the Vyrus in a grungy bathroom of CBGB's. Obviously this is not your mother's vampire Lestat.

Joe's a contrarian by nature and can't bring himself to join any of the various vampire factions seething just below the surface of New York. Instead, he navigates through them all as a private investigator, vigilante, fixer and badass. What makes Joe insanely cool, though, is that while he's a reluctant hero, over the course of the three books I've read he's come to terms with the fact that he's a monster - and those terms are uniquely his.

I met Charlie Huston at ComicCon a few years ago when we were on a panel together and I liked the sound of his books so I checked out his first Joe Pitt story. I thought it really rocked and I remember wondering whether there was an overall trajectory to his narrative. As I eagerly await the fourth now it's because there really is and I'm really looking forward to see what happens next.

Anyway, Charlie keeps up a really decent blog and he's donated books to Operation Warrior Library so I'm in his debt. But I'm also a fan and I think you should be too. So check out a vamp who'd give Edward, Bill, and maybe even Angel, a true beat-down.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hopefully the last... sigh.. test post

This is getting tedious. But necessary.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

DISPATCH: Operation Warrior Library thanks M. Glenn Taylor

There are only four movies which I've sat through and then watched again as soon as they ended.

Ghostbusters, Salvador, The Right Stuff...

...and Matewan.

I love Matewan by the great John Sayles and, while I wish in general that he'd make more movies, in particular I wish he'd make more movies like this one which tells part of the story of the largest armed insurrection in the United States since the Civil War. The two-year coal mountain war in West Virginia left dozens dead and was a turning point in the labor rights efforts in this country. Had Jack London been alive, he would have written about it.

But he wasn't. So John Sayles did. And now M. Glenn Taylor has taken up the story and added to it with his amazing book, The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart. He's created an amazingly memorable character, Trenchmouth Taggart, and placed him in the middle of this swirl of events. And that would have been enough for a good book. But what makes it a great one is how the character's participation in those days pursues him for the rest of his life. This is a book filled with humor and hurt, love and longing. Taggart's journey is wild and wonderful and brings him into contact with both John F. Kennedy and Chuck Berry in amazingly plausible ways.

I can't recommend it highly enough. Do yourself a favor and pick it up. You can thank me later.

Glenn, and his publisher, West Virginia University Press, have seen fit to donate a case of books to Operation Warrior Library. I think this one is going to be a big hit with our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Thanks Glenn.

DISPATCH: Operation Warrior Library thanks Ellen Shanman

Ellen is on a roll. Her last book, Right Before Your Eyes (a box of which Ellen kindly donated to Operation Warrior Library), garnered terrific reviews. Her new book is getting even better reviews, and seems poised for great success. I think the reason is that Ellen transcends the conventions of the genre she's working in by focusing on story first. That's kind of rare in a field where writers usually start by wrapping some personality quirks and aspiration desires in some fashion labels and call it a character that they then invent some situations for. In a lot of ways chick-lit and pulps have a lot in common - they both rely on the short-hand of conventions to carry a lot of the heavy weight. But Everything Nice is just a great story featuring a great character.

And, as an advertising copywriter myself, I enjoy seeing my profession depicted.

I hope you'll support Ellen, and Operation Warrior Library, by picking up a copy of this book. Thanks to Ellen's generosity I've been able to deliver a box to our troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Thanks, Ellen.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Reading Alert!

No. Not me. Though that's coming soon.

Tonight, Jon Fasman, a contributor to Operation Warrior Library will be reading from his new book, THE UNPOSSESSED CITY, at the Tribeca Barnes & Noble in New York at 7PM.

Here's how Jon describes his book:

This book tells the story of Jim Vilatzer, a young Russian-American
who takes a job in Moscow to escape gambling debts
stateside. He expected simple, routine work; he found something else
entirely: Central Asian gangsters, Russian weapons scientists and the
ghosts of both Russia's bloody 20th century and his own family. The
novel is a mystery, an immigrant's tale in reverse, and a deeply
personal love letter to Moscow.

His first novel, THE GEOGRAPHER'S LIBRARY, was a terrific read and thanks to Jon's generosity is hopefully being read at this very moment by our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So, if you're in New York and have the time tonight, drop in and meet Jon. If you're not in New York but still want to meet Jon, here are some more places you might be able to stalk him at:

Nov 12th: Trover Bookshop; 201 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC; 5.30pm

Nov 14th: B&N Bethesda; 4801 Bethesda Ave, Bethesda, MD; 7.30 pm

Nov 17th: The Bookstall, 811 Elm St, Winnetka, IL; 7pm

Nov 18th: The Stop Smiling Storefront, 1371 N. Milwaukee, Chicago IL, 7pm

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Not So Funnies: Farewell Opus

So you already know I love the newspaper comic strips, right? Back in the 80's Bloom County was a family favorite, second only to Doonesbury. I was always a fan of Milo and was kind of saddened to see how the ascendancy of Opus and Bill the Cat diverted the focus of the strip. But it was Mr. Breathed's strip not mine and he could do with it what he wanted. Can't blame him for sticking with what the audience really seemed to want. The same thing happened to Charles Schulz when Snoopy took off. If you get a moment in the zeitgeist you go with it. Anyway, Bloom County remained a wonderfully cockeyed commentary on Reagan's America. Then it morphed into Outland and, ultimately and simply, Opus.

When Breathed broke his back in a plane accident my little brother sent him a get-well letter. And the guy wrote him back, thanking him. I can't tell you what an impact that had on my brother that this guy took the time to send him a note. Very impressive.

Sadly, it didn't make much of a pop-culture ripple (at least in the pop cult I keep track of) when Breathed published the last appearance of Opus this past weekend. The set up for this is that Opus has decided to leave the stress of the world for a place where he can always be safe.

I think he made it.

I actually choked up when I saw this. I read this book a lot to my kids and I'll always picture this when I do from now on.

Just so you know, the final image up there was part of a Humane Society promotion. You might want to drop by and support them.

So, farewell to Opus and Milo and Steve Dallas and Cutter John and Bill the Cat and all the rest of those terrific characters. Twenty-eight years is an amazing run for any artist to have. Breathed, obviously, continues to publish - his books for children garner terrific reviews. And maybe, like the Lorax, someday Opus might return again.

Until then, thanks Mr. Breathed, and Good Night Opus.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

C'mon people! Get on the Pushing Daisies bus!

This post from IO9 is the best explanation why you may not be watching this show but you should be.

Come on, give it a shot. Would I lie to you?

"...not enough people are watching ABC's Pushing Daisies. Bryan Fuller's secretly twisted yet romantic detective show may bring the dead back to life on a regular basis, but it also goes out of its way to prove Isaac Newton and Stan Lee right every week as well. Hilarious, more cynical than you might expect and with the best ensemble cast on television right now, we're giving you four reasons why it's time to put your preconceptions aside and get onboard the Pie Wagon before it's too late."

Click to read the four reasons...

You can start watching them online right this minute if you want to catch up.