Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The More You Know

I kind of want to post all of these, but I won't. I remember my wife and I pissing ourselves when they ran mixed with the real commercials, last season. Good Times.

Agent Hunt?

(Sorry, couldn't resist the MI reference)

I just sent off a tsunami of e-mail queries, to fairly big name agents. Not as easy as you'd think. The query itself was a bitch and a delicate one, at that. I included a micro synopsis, as well as, information on the progress of the novel at Penguin.

Actually, I spent more time researching the agents and their clientele, to make sure my writing had some similarities. Difficult, as there aren't that many horror comedy writers producing today. Apparently, I fall into the Urban Fantasy column, a newish subdivision, birthed from Josh Whedon's Buffy-gina. Ended up at three different bookstores, reading acknowledgements in the hopes of an agent shout out.

Next step is to complete a decent synopsis, for the snail mail only agents (to some of whom I'm desperate to introduce the dead girl). Problem: I've been working on the damn thing for two weeks. The one that I sent to the editor in September, reads like toilet stall scratch–can't believe I sent it. My difficulty has been in trying to present a non-linear story structure in a traditional way. I'll keep plugging away.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Book Review: Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

When you dissect it, what is the Wizard of Oz? You can pick it apart from the movie if you wish. Most of us experienced the film rather than L. Frank Baum’s fiction, anyway. So…

Is it a retelling of a traditional Grecian quest? Is it a cautionary tale about the dangers of strangers or—even more ominous—the occult? Is it a treatise on good and evil, where good must ultimately prevail? Religious allegory?

Gregory Maguire has put together all of the above into Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, a novel as much political essay as it is an exemplary adult fantasy—and I do mean adult, unless you’re not interested in interracial witch humping—in which case, forget I mentioned it. A complete opposition of the original perspective is the literary device here, where the Wizard is a Hitleresque figure and Elphaba (the much maligned witch) is a rebel and assassin against his totalitarian government. Animals speak (some) and are persecuted for such, clockwork mechanics grind life into murderous robots, and soldiers march on defenseless lands. Good and evil is explored extensively in the book, with no consensus drawn, however, children are given a thorough bashing as being innately evil. Rightly so, too, anyone remember public school?

When you’re reading it, think in the negative. Glenda, a good witch? Hell no! Straight up cooze. TheWicked Witch of the East, so abruptly dispatched in the film, is a pathetic religious figure that allows fanaticism to turn her sour. That pivotal moment begins the climax of the book, where the sparkly ruby slippers are seen as totemic of secessionist tendencies by the Munchkins (who are only moderately short).

I have very little criticism of the book; it drags a bit in the middle. That’s it. In the end, the witch isn’t any more wicked than the other characters in the novel. But Maguire has put together something so rich with lore; it has my memory scrambled as to the original. Or am I thinking about The Wiz? No joke, there are similarities there, too.

I know I’m late getting on this train, but I highly recommend it. Just don’t expect me to see the musical!

Next Book:Whiskey Sour: A Jack Daniels Mystery by J.A. Konrath

Monday, January 29, 2007

Le Disko is Alive and Well!

I have to say, I'm likin' Shiny Toy Guns. Et Vous?

The End of Days!

Question: Who's still watching films ending in the word Movie?
Answer: Lots of you and I'm scared.

Epic Movie is number one at the box office, literally whores of people (do I mean hoardes?) took time off from their Mensa meetings to look at 75 minutes of sloshy bedpan, universally critcized as–get this–NOT funny. Duh! The first Scary Movie had some genuine laughs. The second: way fewer, but it had Chris Elliot molesting a turkey with his skeletal hand–so, forgiveable. The third: Unbearable! I'm talking suicidal thoughts, people. This is the point where the lesson should have been learned. But no, not so much, as it turns out.

Now I know people are masochists and we've bred generations of short term memory deficiencies, but come on! There's not a single laugh in the trailer, nor a sign of Anna Faris, anywhere. A movie so bad, even the PWT princess won't by in? It's like a sign from God, and I'm agnostic.

Let's make it stop here, with these simple steps:

1. Get down to the pay for play MRI, stat, and get that brain tumor identified; the life you save could be your own, maybe.
2. Commit to just one sarcastic phrase, per day–and mean it!
3. Don't be scareded: It's time to finish that pesky G.E.D. program.
4. Put down the crank, and pick up a dictionary.

If the above suggestions don't work: When Vacant Movie 8 comes out, and you really want to see it–please, I beg you–do something more constructive and stimulating like experimenting with autoerotic asphyxiation. Hell, you know what would be super funny? Just crank up that car in the old garage (door down, silly) and get to whackin'. No one's died from it or anything. I promise. Seriously, though that'll kill you. No, no it won't. Go ahead.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Between Vanity and Heartlessness Lies Apathy

Chuck Palahniuk has a new story, Mr. Elegant, in the latest online issue of Vice. Not his best work, but freakishly entertaining. I was preparing myself for a gut-twister ending and it fizzled a bit, still, pretty crunchy. After the last day and a half, I can relate–though not to the striptease aspect, just the shitstream.

You'll see.

Moore is a Solid Guy

Some notes from the Chris Moore comedy set/signing. That's right–no reading. He informed the audience of about 200 early on, he doesn't read. Rather he prefers to blather, and why not, most of the crowd had read You Suck, already. In Abby Normal speak, it would have been like, "vampire this, that, bluster-blah-blah." He spewed venom at Hollywood, which he insists will never make a film out of any of his books, and is currently paying him not to write a tv series–as insane as that sounds; commented that Janet Maslin thinks he's a "pothead"; and described his obsession with a case of bunny thievery in Hillsboro, Oregon. Apparently, the bunny's were stolen, after an "unexpected breeding."

He answered questions on influences (Ray Bradbury and Jules Verne) and relayed that his editor wouldn't let him meet Ray, 'cause he's a stalker. His reading assistant, threw shirts with the cover fangs on the front, wax lips and You Suck Holy Water to the inquisitive.

I spoke with Chris during the signing about the progress of Undead Socialite (he thought the title was "money") and he inscribed my copy, "good luck with your dead girl," but informed me that if the police came to question him, he would deny the meeting. I also met Duane the big UW bookstore guy, who's pretty cool.

All in all, good night, my wife tagged along and enjoyed herself. Although, she didn't follow through on having her Accounting Textbook signed. He totally would have done it.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Book Reviews: Bloodsucking Fiends and You Suck: A Love Story by Christopher Moore

I just finished Christopher Moore’s You Suck: A Love Story—figured I better before I get it signed—and came away laughing, one, and wondering what Janet Maslin looked like reading the line “pale as albino monkey cum.” Both You Suck: A Love Story and Bloodsucking Fiends follow the adventures of undying sarcastic lovers Jody and Tommy, the Safeway graveyard shift vampire slayers (a.k.a., the Animals), and the Emperor of San Francisco. Fiends begins the tale, focusing on Jody's experience of becoming a bloodsucker and enlisting Tommy as her assistant slash sex slave. The two are harassed by Jody's sire, who leaves a trail of dead bodies right up to Jody's door. Moore does some interesting things with vampire lore, while throwing out pop culture references like a commentator on Best Week Ever.

While both novels are hilarious, there’s just that something extra special about You Suck: A Love Story. Her name is Abby Normal, because she’s tossed aside her corporate slave name, to follow the night, like the punky goth shit she is. Sixteen years old and shameless in her journal: Being the Chronicles of Abby Normal, and variously subtitled. Abby becomes the minion of Tommy (The Vampyre Flood) and Jody (The Countess), her assistant, the tragically gay and pale Jared, tags along as her whipping boy.

I don’t want to give much away, and I highly recommend reading the books in order just to show that 630 pages can be a whole lot of fun, but there is a Blue Man Group hooker subplot, that’ll just kill ya.

Looking forward to meeting Chris Moore tonight up at UW, but not to reading more vampire lore. Hello, burnout.

Next book: Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Anatomy of a Stress Diarrhist

That's right, people–I'm churning liquid gold, it's streaming hot from the tap, burping with big brown bubbles. The editor from Penguin emailed and is taking my precious cocktail swigging corpse to her ed. director.

She said, and I quote, "This is very funny!"

One question: How freaked out should I be? Because I'm trippin' like a crackhead. I haven't had a lot of people read my stuff, and I have a tendency to disregard positive marks, but this is great right?

I couldn't help giving her some zombie research to take with. Like my character, Amanda would say: zombie is the new vampire, or; werewolves are so last season. For instance, did you know there are 23 zombie movies set for release within the next two years? I'm not shitting you–or at least on you. I figure by the time Undead Socialite could be on the shelves the market will be ripe for some bitchy mockery. But that's just me.

Fingers crossed.

Friday, January 19, 2007

I Can't Believe I Found This…

Elizabeth Fraser is probably most widely known as the vocalist on Massive Attack's Teardrop single (the theme to TV's House), if she's even "known" for that. Prior to guest vocals on film soundtracks (Lord of the Rings, The Winter Guest), she fronted the incredibly unique Cocteau Twins from the early '80s to their demise in the '90s. Immensely prolific, the Twins produced a sound that was much immitated during the "shoegazer" daze in England. What could not be mimicked was Ms. Fraser's amazing voice, part blues scat, buddhist tantrist, and post-pop queen, the layering created a sound equivalent to an instrument. Lyrics become completely unnecessary.

Blue Bell Knoll was my favorite of the band's work. This clip was shot at the band's final concert in Seattle. We were not aware at the time, but the band would soon break up. Sadness. Listen for her amazing cords and that wave that rolls in at the end, and washes away the sins.

Since the above video player seems to work only sporadically, here's another. My wife's favorite: Heaven or Las Vegas.

Crashing the Party

Last night, me and a friend from my writing group skipped on up to Bellevue to crash the monthly meeting of the Pacific Northwest Writer's Assosh. Are we members, you ask? Not so much, but they had a speaker on writing synopses. His name was Bob Dugoni, and to hear him tell it, he's the next John Grisham. On an ego-trip? Say hi to Bob. At least, that was the vibe, according to Megan (said friend). He's apparently written some legal thrillers or something. Seemed like a nice enough guy to me–he gave out free bookmarks with his picture on them–although he was an attorney, sooo…

He pointed out some good strategies–none of them his own–like: Short rather than long, synopsize (is that a word?) the book while showing a grasp of story structure, blah to the blah. For those going through the struggle of writing a synopsis, check out Elizabeth Lyon and Christopher Vogler, Dugoni blended the two for his presentation. For the most part I bought it, sounded like a good plan, if not common sense. The PNWA is supposed to have a worksheet up today, so I'll provide a link here, when they get around to it.

When I wrote my synopsis for Undead Socialite, I didn't do a bit of research on format. I just spat the story out on paper, as if selling it in a hotel hallway. It ended up nearly two pages and minimal: main character, life changing event (death), a mystery solved through bumbling insensitivity, and a crazy zombie showdown, life (or death) affirming ending, with a peppering of mixed drinks, finger foods (the nails removed, obviously, it's a klassy book, after all), and dj set lists. My thought process was who wants to read anything longer than a couple of pages. We've all got work to do. I can't say that the synopsis got the editor to request the complete novel, but it might have.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Seattle Sirens? Not so much.

Okay, before you lay in to me about giving in to my distractions, I have no intention of turning this blog into another pop-culture toilet. But, what the hell was up with the parade of Jon-bidets on American Idol last night. Seattle is not a vocal paradise–it's too damp, the cords get mossy. There is talent here (of some variety, I guess) but strip away the guitars and let Courtney Love’s vocal timbre lull you–no way. After the two-hour audition from hell, I don’t think anyone in America will question why the Pacific Northwest is the playground for serial killers. These people are just asking for an axe to the forehead! And after the show, our local news went on a rampage, interviewing any moron that would spread their cheeks with a dramatically false offensive posture. I think I'm going to move…to the Sudan.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Over the ramparts...

A paper cow serenade and the obsession continues...The Shins Pink Bullets

Book Review: The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

Elizabeth Kostova’s Stoker homage, The Historian, is so exactingly researched—or seemingly—so intricately detailed, that over the course of its 642 pages, one becomes convinced of the plausibility of vampirism. Sure, I believe there are people that get off on playing the part, even to the point of drinking blood (I live near Seattle, after all, home of the pale), but Kostova’s words are so subtle and her glimpses of the vampiric form so brief, that memories are sparked rather than literary images—Or, I’m simply crazy from reading too long a story.

The Historian is told through the same literary device that Bram Stoker’s original vampire masterpiece, Dracula employed: correspondence. Multitudinous letters, postcards, documents recount the tale of the hunt for Vlad “The Impaler” Tepes (cool porn name?), over the span of 500 years. The novel trips like a Bond movie from Amsterdam to Istanbul, Oxford to Budapest. And—get this—every character is an historian. Who would have thought that would be interesting?

While there is no way, despite its theme, the book could be considered horror, The Historian is nevertheless immensely readable and, at times, thrilling. Kostova has produced an enviable debut novel that seeks and finds a fresh perspective on some pretty moldy lore.

Next book reviews: In honor of Chrisopher Moore's Seattle reading/signing: Bloodsucking Fiends and its sequel, You Suck: A Love Story, reviewed, all in one tidy bundle, sans swaddling clothes.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Progress on my Blood Blister

I'm taking the first of it for critique from my writer's group. It is coming along, in a foul bubbling sense. I'm focusing specifically on my schizo-heroic panhandler, really developing back story and a chilly damp atmosphere, that I can spot with islands of mold, and dump on buckets of bile and flies. It's all about the fun.

We'll see what they say.

My goal of 1500 words a day, went out the window for the three day weekend–as it has a tendency to do when no one else has to work. I'm so easily distracted that when my wife is home, I rarely bother to write. Blog? That's another story.

Current distractions: Rome premiered: "Where are my Children!" Verenous shouted. To which Erastes responded, "I f**ked 'em, killed 'em and threw 'em in the river." Harsh right? And, it was such a small stain. We've got the Psych marathon on Tivo–cute show. My best friend's birthday at the casino. The dogs need baths.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Flock you, muttonhead!

I was going to put up a clip for George Romero's return to independent zombie film, Diary of the Dead. But, I couldn't overlook this!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Whose Fault?

Okay, let's, for a moment, indulge my nature as a psychotherapist. We'll couch–no pun intended…yeah right–our discussion in the yearlong debate as to where the fault lies in the Brad and Jen divorce and the subsequent birth of Brangelina.

The Facts: Brad and Jenn were together and got married; Brad and Angelina made a horrible movie together (Mr. & Mrs. Smith) and spent their spare time fucking. Brad and Jenn lived through ugly public divorce. Brad and Angelina get together, marry, have babies of the rainbow variety. Jennifer Aniston is cannonized (St. Jenn). Most recently–today to be exact–David Arquette comments that it's all naughty Angelina's fault.

Alright. David Arquette can express his opinions on Jerry Springer with the rest of the folk who choose to misdirect their anger and live in oblivion. Which brings us back to the question: Whose fault is it?

The answer, quite simply, is: It's Brad and Jenn's fault, dumbass. Affairs are the symptoms of problems within a marriage, not the problem itself. Usually the result of the husband (occasionally the wife) not being able to use his (her) "big boy" words and asking for something he wants (hot butt lovin'). We can infer that Brad and Jenn were not communicating well. Duh! Half the time these movie star couples work in different states and/or countries. It's hard to make a relationship work when your partner isn't around. It's hard enough when they are. It takes open communication. Expressing your thoughts and emotions. And, above all accountability, through working out your own shit.

A divorce is never the responsibility of the object of the couple's problems (Angelina), it lies entirely on immature human interaction (Brad and Jenn). Let's hope Brad does a better job communicating, this time.

Enough said. Or is it…

Working Title

How does Blood Blister sit with you? Probably not as cozy as Cute Little Puppy, but, I'm not writing about slow comfortable porch swings, or Sunday family dinners. It's the apocalypse people! It's not going to be pretty.

I ended up at the library in Olympia yesterday and pounded out my 1500 words before they closed down early for no reason other than melted winter panic. I finished another page at the new Batdorf and Bronson on Capital Way–and can I just say, beautiful space.

My goal for today is to finish chapter 1 and jump start 2. So far the characters are my main focus (Chapter 1: Disorganized Schizophrenic–look it up–Chapter 2: Telephone Domination Specialist). I think I've said before, if I outline or get too far ahead I'll lose interest.

Oh…and, before I forget: I'm obsessed with The Shins Pink Bullets. Got it on repeat. "Since then, it's been a book you read in reverse. So you understand less as the pages turn."

Back to the wall of flies…

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The new novel

So, I'm doing the apocalyptic thing in my next novel, rather than raining down mass destruction on humanity (or those closest to me). I probably need to get it out of my system. I'm going for a multiple perspective narrative, which is really challenging me. I tend to slow down production when I'm challenged (my wife refers to this as being fucktarded), so I've got to be vigilant. I'm going to shoot for ten pages a day, although I'll probably settle for 1500 words.

I've got to do something while I wait for word from Penguin! I'm going crazy.

I've been thinking about the quality of my work, and writing in general. I took a look back at my first few short stories. Blecchh! It's true that the best cure for mediocre writing is more and more writing. My work now is much more fluid. I have learned to read it aloud in my editing. Totally helpful. My writing group, The South Sound Algonquins–pretentious?–has been a great source of inspiration, too.

Excuse the stream of consciousness blather but…has Dean Koontz been fucking a muse? I just finished listening to Odd Thomas on CD and damn if that character isn't fleshed out and fatty. Loved it!

Anyway, it's snowing in the Northwest. You know what that means: paranoia, dry roads and school closures. People around here freak when the first ice crystal drifts from the sky. There's probably a half inch. I haven't checked, but I'm certain the government has collapsed.

Monday, January 08, 2007

January 24th: It's like Christmas Part 2

Christopher Moore, author of A Dirty Job, The Stupidest Angel, and the upcoming You Suck, will be in town on the 24th for a reading/signing. I'm bouncing ADD style–plaster's cheap right? I just starting reading his stuff last year (Practical Demonkeeping: his debut); he has rapidly become my favorite comedy author and horror/comedy hybrid hero. Check out the specifics on the new book, a sequel to Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story, at Chris's site.

Book Review: Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

I must have picked up and discarded Good Omens ten times since its release, and I can't quite put a finger on why I haven't read it 'til now. I've been a fan of Gaiman, since the Sandman days; my shelves contain unread copies of American Gods and Smoke and Mirrors–I have a bad habit of buying books and never reading them, creating a huge financial burden. So, even a few pages in, I started to flagellate over the wait. Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch is a great book, and right up my alley–It even has footnotes like Undead Socialite.

The book concerns the biblical Armageddon, from the point of view of an angel, Aziriphale and a devil, Crowley, neither of whom, wish to see the event take place, as it will disrupt their comfortable situations. A pact is sealed; hilarity ensues. It's also about an eleven year old bait and switch Antichrist and his friends, the four bikers of the apocalypse, witchfinders screwing witches, and witches screwing ye olde towne folkes, but, also about Atlantis rising, aliens landing and Tibetans tunneling. It's definitely an irreverent take on the subject, neither delicate nor heavy handed. It includes interviews with the authors on their process which I found horrifying. I can't imagine co-authoring, particularly by voicemail. I think it would drive me to murder.

Good Omens is Left Behind for those readers who aren't completely insane. Pick it up, it only burns a little.

Next Review: The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Book Review: The Bookman's Wake by John Dunning

I sneaked in another book ahead of Good Omens (which I'm reading now–and loving). This one, the second in Dunning's Cliff Janeway mysteries, The Bookman's Wake, refers to a small print specialist and his ultimate foible of a misspelling in his issue of The Raven. Again, Cliff Janeway is a funny grump and the insights on book antiquities are intriguing. Wake twists and turns like a Costco churro (a metaphor which has more to do with the state of my stomach than any real connection to Dunning's work–unless he likes churros–and who doesn't, really?)

Although, a little loose in the end,The Bookman's Wake is a worthwhile read, particularly if you've got do deal with a two hour wait for an oil change–unacceptable Walmart!

Next Book: It's still Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (for real this time).

My Deepest Regret…

That may be an overstatement, but…Hey! 2007 is the year of the overstatement (spread it around or on toast). I committed a most egregious offense in my 2006 best of TV list. My two favorite shows–which are no longer on, of course–were omitted due to wiring issues in my rotting brain stem.

So. It is with much fanfare (and with no help from Bill W.) that I make my amends:

The finest comedies of 2006, one deemed insufficient for the moronic masses, the other with some cross-your-fingers hope for return, are:

The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman (IFC)

Comedian/Writer/Producer, Laura Kightlinger, has created one of the smartest (along with the following show) comedies since Seinfeld. Jackie (Kightlinger) is a screenwriter with just enough ambition and bitterness to get into trouble. She's joined by her best friend Tara, played to the hilt with brash sluttiness by The Nanny's Nichole Tom. While the season was a mere 8 episodes, the laughs were worthy of 26 on the networks. My fave was "Peyote Ugly," in which Jackie and Tara fraudulently promote Native American filmaking by documenting a peyote ceremony, take a pee-your-pants hallucinogen trip, and wake up cut and bruised in a cactus patch. Jackie could actually be around in the new year, if we wish hard enough.

Sons and Daughters (ABC)

This show–moment of silence–was probably the best thing I'd ever seen on network television (I think I actually wet myself during an episode). Now, lest you think I say this out of bitterness–or as giving alms to the Gods of Overstatement– check out this scene here, where Jenna and Liz play a drinking game. The family in Sons and Daughters is so f**ked up you'll feel right at home. Fred Goss, creator and shining star, put together this show, that is on par with Christopher Guest's format for his films (Waiting for Guffman, For Your Consideration, etc.) Minimally scripted and reliant on a perfect cast chemistry. I can't wait for the DVD. Just typing these words brings a tear.

So there they are. If you haven't seen them, start browsing–youtube has episode 3 of Minor Accompishments, and there are tons of Sons and Daughters clips floating around. When I look back on these shows, the memories make the comedies on my list seem cheap.

I'm sorry.