Thursday, December 20, 2007

Two Days, Five Reviews

Ouch. I have five books in front of me for review in this month's, not including INSIDE STRAIGHT (which you've already seen "previewed" here). I'm reviewing:

It's a lot of work to do but... that's the life of a reviewer.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

One Goodbye and One Hello

Saying Goodbye is Never Fun but Sometimes There's No Choice

A friend of mine was fired from his job in November. Considering how hard he worked at making the business a success, this was little short of stunning. I won't go into the identities and causes of this situation--some of you reading the blog already know them, and to be extremely fair this is only one side of the story--but it leads me to talk about departures and fresh beginnings.

I've cut ties with a local store where I did a lot of business. That's the outcome, and it's been in the works for about a month. I did this because 1) I owe my friend loyalty; 2) I don't want to support business practices that I am led to believe are not honorable; 3) I can do business elsewhere much more easily than I can replace good friends. Number 3 is sort of a subset of number 1, but you see where I'm going.

That's the departure side. The fresh beginning side? A bunch of us are going to a new place. We look forward to socializing just as we always have, realizing that we may have lost a few of our gang along the way, but figure it's a chance to ring in 2008 with something new and different and exciting.

This was written in early December but represents my hopes for a happy 2008. Here's hoping!

Travel Plans

Hey everyone,
Kat and I are off to NJ starting Saturday. If my blog posts become erratic between now and then, you'll know why.
A few tidbits in the meantime:

  • Absolutely loved VICIOUS CIRCLE (Felix Castor #2) by Mike Carey-- a grim, gritty occult mystery set in modern London, the hero is a likeable underdog caught up in some truly nasty doings. Should be available in the US this summer-- put it on your wish list now! (If you want it even sooner, I recommend
  • Also loving FOUNDLING: MONSTER BLOOD TATTOO #1 by D.M. Cornish-- very much like China Mieville's New Crobuzon stories, with a terrific young boy-hero named Rossamund cast into strange and frightening circumstances far from his city home. Buy it now! And visit the author's blog here. (P.S., I'm reviewing this one for January's SFRevu--it may be a few months' late but what the heck.)
  • Work is progressing on my own urban fantasy-in-progress. I also had a great idea for two fanfic works, which I hope to complete in January, as both are fairly short and to-the-point. Which reminds me...
  • January 2008 should see the launch of, my own domain. I bought the domain and hosting a couple months ago but haven't done anything with it yet-- well, 2008 will see an end to that.

later, all!

Monday, December 17, 2007

In Memoriam: Dan Fogelberg

Dan Fogelberg, a folk-rock singer with hits like "Leader of the Band" and "Same Old Lang Syne," died of prostate cancer at his home in Maine earlier today. He was 56.

I can't listen to "Leader of the Band" without tearing up a little. Like Fogelberg's, my dad was a musician who went to war (Dad was in the Navy in WWII) and poured his heart and soul into his music. He gave us (Mom, Rob, Beth and me) all the love he had, too, but music was his first love. He played trumpet for most of his 62 years on this planet, earning a Masters from LSU (where he met my mom) and working for most of my growing-up years for the American Federation of Musicians.

He would have been 82 this February.

Fogelberg's song gives me a way to grieve for my dad, and for that, I can't thank him enough. With the coming of the holidays, hearing his bittersweet love song "Same Old Lang Syne" will be just a little more poignant this year.

RIP, Dan.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

New Wild Cards Site Live!

This just in-- Tor has launched its official Wild Cards site! The home page includes an introduction from George R.R. Martin, with pages for the new characters, the writers (and links to their websites), Q&A, and a whole lot more. If you're a long time fan or a newcomer to the series, this site has LOADS of stuff you'll want to see. (And if, like me, you subscribe, you can open the link to GRRM's description of how Wild Cards came to be... which is a great story.)

Check it out!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Wild Cards News- BUSTED FLUSH Sent to Publisher

Hey everyone! This may not be news to some of you, but George R.R. Martin announced that the next novel in the series, BUSTED FLUSH, is now in the hands of the publisher. There's a lot of GREAT info about the book, including the names of some new characters and a promise of some returnees-- in short, stuff a wild cards fan wants to read. Check out the artwork at the bottom, too!

Read his announcement, then and spend some time on his site. It's a trove of great reading. (Not only that, but Mr. Martin referenced my blog's preview-review of INSIDE STRAIGHT, and how great is that?)

O Tannenbaum! part 2

When we left off on Wednesday, I was walking through a drizzly dark night to Home Depot to buy a tree. Kat was still in DC, working, so it was my job.
yay. (imagine the tiny flags waving in MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL)
At Home Depot, finding the trees isn't hard-- they're at the far side of the parking lot, in the garden area. Finding a worker is the hard part. They are scarce on the ground, not to be found. Finally one lady took pity on me (I was standing in the store, holding a tree and looking kind of lost, I guess); she came over, confirmed what kind of tree I was holding (lucky me, the $26 kind!), and got me on my way, even giving me the number of a local cab company.
Paying up, I got outside and waited about five minutes for the cab. Not bad. They sent a van and the driver and I wrangled the tree into the back; he said he didn't know what to charge, so I only had to pay for a regular fare (so I tipped a little extra).
That left struggling to get a 6-foot-plus tree inside the condo and then inside our unit.
By myself.
More on this later today, including our kittens' fascination with indoor shrubbery.

Grading the Comics 12/12/07

Hey everyone-
Read up on my stuff for this week and... let's get to it.

  • Booster Gold #5- Can you really change history? Booster gets a hard lesson in what's immutable and what isn't when he's called on to save Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) from being paralyzed by the Joker. A
  • Boys #13- Wee Hughie, last man standing? Continuing their adventure in Moscow, the picture starts to come into focus... and that last splash page is a riot. B+
  • Countdown to Final Crisis #20- Jimmy Olsen returns as Turtle Boy, Mary Marvel loses a friend, Pied Piper is talking to himself (sort of) and Brother Eye relocates. Meh. C+
  • Gen 13 #15- the kids are scattered and finding new lives for themselves in NYC... so why isn't Caitlin happy? Interesting. B+
  • Green Lantern #25- a blowout ending to the Sinestro Corps War, this had a payoff better than any other crossover of recent times. Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis did it right and earn the highest grade of the week (heck, probably of the season). A+
  • Green Lantern Corps #19- epilogue to the Sinestro Corps War, not sure it really advanced the story much but has a few nice bits and pieces. B
  • Salvation Run #2- Psimon attempts to organize the castaways into a functional unit and gets Jokerized for his trouble, then Lex Luthor shows up to do the job right--as well as give these demoralized villains a goal: return to Earth for revenge! Fun but ultimately, wouldn't we see them come back eventually anyway? B
  • StormWatch Armageddon #1- John Doran's up for a future jaunt this time around, courtesy of Void. The future is a mess, folks. Interesting stuff, and a very interesting comparison of Jackson King with a bygone supervillain. B+
  • Ultimate Iron Man II #1- Orson Scott Card takes young Tony and Jim Rhodes off on a new adventure, this time putting the "robot" built by Stark Enterprises through its paces in a real-world setting. Doesn't get more real world than this... and Obadiah Stane's just causing more trouble with the proto-Mole Man on his side. Good story, good art. B
  • Walking Dead #45- um, okay, I read it real fast but want to go back and read it again. There's something going on and I want to be sure I got it.
  • Wonder Woman #15- started reading it but haven't finished yet.

Okay, so I didn't read EVERYTHING... look for me to post an update where I talk about Wonder Woman and Walking Dead.

No D's this week and only one C... not bad!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

O Tannenbaum! part 1

Kat called me while I was coming home from work Monday night. "Are you tired?" she asked. Not a good sign.

"No, I'm okay. Why?"

"Can you get a Christmas tree?"

Kat's been feeling out of sorts and out of the Christmas spirit this year--no reason given why, she just is. So I said yeah, with about as much enthusiasm as I could muster for trudging alone through the night to Home Depot and wrangling a tree back to our condo.

Oh the adventure.

More on this tomorrow.

Terry Pratchett's Unhappy News

This is really bad. Terry Pratchett, the world-renowned and much beloved author of the Discworld series, has been diagnosed with an early-onset form of Alzheimers disease. In a note on artist Paul Kidby's site (, he said that he is still alive and intends to find out what he can do next.

Our hearts go out to Mr. Pratchett and his worldwide legions of fans (which includes Kat and me).

Kat's Blog

Hey everyone- Kat has got her blog up and running. I've had a link to it for awhile now but she's added content and plans to update every Friday. Give it a look!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Comics This Week!

Well, I think I have my list for tomorrow figured out... here goes.

  • Booster Gold #5
  • Boys #13
  • Countdown to Final Crisis #20
  • Gen 13 #15
  • Green Lantern #25
  • Green Lantern Corps #19
  • Salvation Run #2
  • StormWatch Armageddon #1
  • Ultimate Iron Man II #1
  • Walking Dead #45
  • Wonder Woman #15

Will they be good? I'll be back Thursday or Friday and grade what I got.

New "Ask the Question" Column Coming on Monday

Hey folks, I know it's only Tuesday but there'll be a brand new "Ask the Question" column on BPD this Monday. It's definitely-- different-- but I hope you'll give it a look.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Odds and Ends

Got very little sleep this weekend. I stayed up till about 3am reading STAR WARS: LEGACY OF THE FORCE- FURY by Aaron Alston without really meaning to, then was up very late helping Kat look for a missing item. Sort of groggy today.

The TV strike has me at odds with myself. On the one hand, I like knowing that I have lots of free time now. Liberation from the tyranny of the glowing box hasn't happened from within, so maybe freedom is at hand. On the other hand, I'm already missing the stuff I like to watch.

Now reading VICIOUS CIRCLE by Mike Carey, courtesy of Kat's and my good friend Sherin Nicole. Really good follow up to THE DEVIL YOU KNOW, featuring Felix Castor, exorcist. I'll be reviewing it for SFRevu, even though John Berlyne has already done a magnificent review of the British release (I think it came out there last year-- lucky Brits!).

My Xbox 360 went down a week ago Saturday. It must be a fairly common problem--it's the dreaded "three flashing red lights" around the on/off button, which supposedly indicates a hardware failure. After calling customer service, I struggled with removing the hard drive, only to have Kat succeed when she pushed the button and I wrenched the stubborn part loose. Teamwork!

Then I packed up the console, labeled it and took it all the way into DC to send back via UPS. With luck, I'll have my Xbox back sometime in the new year. (this is me not being very happy)

Got lots of Christmas cards to send out this week. If you're reading this, you're probably on the list to get one. If not, comment below with an address and maybe we (Kat and I) will send you one.

and that's it for now!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Marc Guggenheim: The Man, the Myth, the Legend

Kat and I had the pleasure of interviewing Marc Guggenheim (affectionately known in our circle of comic fans as "The Goog") for BPD a couple of months ago (said interview went live on the site Monday). Terrific guy with an extremely diverse writing career-- I'm nearly as jealous of him as I am of Seth Green.

Anyway, check out the interview. Kat took lead on this and did a great job; she's got a knack for interviewing. We talk Resurrection, his new creator-owned series from Oni Press, as well as his stints on Blade, Wolverine and The Flash; we also touch on his upcoming series Eli Stone.

We're wishing Marc all the best; Hollywood writers are dealing with a strike over unfair compensatory practices and he's in the middle of it all. But he's a good guy and we know he'll be okay.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

In other TV news...

Lest you think I don't watch anything but a certain Monday night show...

  • PUSHING DAISIES continues to bring something awesome to Wednesday nights. I was almost certain that Ned would never spill the beans about killing Chuck's dad (accidentally)... but he did, and the next episode seems to be about dealing with those consequences. Poor Ned. Still, the show is perhaps the most romantic thing on TV these days, and who can't love that?
  • Loving FAMILY GUY and AMERICAN DAD, though I feel I can't watch them now that Seth MacFarlane is on the picket line. I know at least one ep of FG was completed without his input; that's sort of like watching a PEANUTS special knowing that Charles Schulz was boycotting King Features and CBS.
  • ROBOT CHICKEN is always great. Their "Half-Assed Christmas Special" airs Sunday night. Seth Green continues to dismay me with the depth of his talent... dammit.
  • BEAUTY AND THE GEEK was fun this season, but we missed the live finale. Will have to catch it on a repeat.
  • Ditto REAPER. We like Missy Peregrym a lot on this show but wish they'd let her play Candice when they killed her on HEROES. If it was only a cameo, why not? Sheesh.
  • CHUCK is a hoot, and this last episode introduced a danger that was really implied from the beginning but never stated outright--and Adam Baldwin continues to be incredible. My wife and I also think Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski are terrific; they have great chemistry and make these two entirely believable.
  • NBC's Thursday night lineup is pretty much in repeats now, right? Still, we've loved 30 ROCK especially this year, and are still on board with THE OFFICE, SCRUBS and MY NAME IS EARL (wait, okay, Earl isn't a repeat this week--so watch it!)
  • Can't think of anything we're watching on Friday or Saturday nights lately...

And there you have it, folks. The TV season, already chopped short, is almost done. We'll probably keep an eye on AMERICAN GLADIATORS (which was my "guilty pleasure" viewing when I was a bit younger), but besides that...? Not much I can think of. If anything, it'll be a chance to get some writing done without feeling like I'm missing anything worth watching.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Let it Snow...

We're getting a very modest snowstorm in DC today. Been flurrying all day long and we have about an inch or so to show for it.

Considering we need to use public trans to get home, that means we'll be lucky to have an ordinary commute home tonight.

ah well.

NOW PLAYING: Golden Compass review

The Next Epic Trilogy

Kat and I went to see "The Golden Compass" last night at a sneak preview in DC. Not having read the books, I didn't know anything but what the commercials were showing--Nicole Kidman in form-fitting dresses, Daniel Craig bearded and scholarly, a little girl astride a polar bear fresh from a Coca Cola commericial... you've seen the ads, you get the idea.

We were impressed and delighted.

Without going deep into spoiler territory, the summary is this: a little orphan girl raised in a college finds herself in the middle of a covert battle between those who champion the right of all to think for themselves and the forces of the Magisterium, an authoritarian quasi-government with its own horrifying secrets and ambitions.

The girl, Lyra (Dakota Blue Richards), holds the last golden compass; this is an artifact capable of discerning truth for those able to read it. She encounters Mrs. Coulter (Kidman), a deliciously evil woman so despicable she even brutalizes her own "demon" (a physical manifestation of one's soul--part companion and part conscience). Lyra's own demon, Pan (voiced by Freddie Highmore), is not settled into one shape like Coulter's; instead, he is able to change from ferret to bird to rat to cat with quicksilver speed. He is both ally and vulnerability to Lyra, as his welfare is used against her more than once.

Lyra's uncle, Asriel (Craig), is an explorer and self-professed "heretic" in the eyes of the Magisterium. He sets out for the distant North, where he believes the secret of the mystical "dust" can be learned and access to myriad other worlds obtained.

Meanwhile, Lyra must explore the mystery of several missing children, as well as an unsettling prophecy and the need to make friends in strange places. She befriends Scoresby (Sam Elliott), a cowboyish 'aeronaut' with his own flying machine, and ice bear Iorek (voiced by Ian McKellen), a figure who is both tragic and pathetic when first met. However, with Lyra's faith and support, Iorek shows he is a force not to be discounted.

As Lyra plumbs the depths of the mysteries around her and leads an unlikely assortment of allies into battle, she makes some powerful discoveries--and sets the stage for a great conflict, which the film promises with its closing shots.

Kidman and Craig lend not only star power but also terrific acting as Mrs. Coulter and Asrial, respectively. Craig plays against the Bond persona he crafted for Casino Royale, portraying a scholar strait-jacketed by a ruthless enemy organization; he is a man of thought and action, more cerebral than Bond if only slightly less dangerous in a fight.

Coulter is a platinum blonde fiend, whose tyranny and ego are both monstrous in scope as well as practice. There are not many movies where she's been quite this pitch-perfect. Richards, as Lyra, does a magnificent job particularly in her scenes with Kidman, when she effortlessly calls Coulter on her hypocrisies. Richards also does a superb job acting with Iorek (McKellen), whom one imagines was created on a computer, giving the girl little to act with. That she makes her interactions with the bear so warm and believable is remarkable for an actor of any age, doubly so for such a youngster. She'll also make you believe she's discerning the world's secrets while staring into a golden disk.

Sadly, though grace notes (mostly historical allusions) flesh out the supporting cast, there is very little screen time given to the diverse actors backing up the above quartet. This isn't to say they don't give their all-- there just isn't much given to them to do. We hope that their roles will be expanded in the second and third installments, as there are many heroes and villains ready for their turn in the spotlight.

Rated PG-13, the movie has moments of violence but nothing truly terrifying.

Opens Friday, December 7.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Tuesday Morning Quarterback: HEROES

Last HEROES post for awhile, I guess.
The chapter finale? Meh.
Things I liked (spoilers implied if not outright said):

  • not a bad little clash between Peter, Hiro, Matt and Nathan (Kat insists that Nathan is the antidote to the Shanti virus, which she maintains is "stupidity");
  • how Hiro took care of Adam;
  • Nathan's speech (and the video recap);
  • Angela really is Lady MacBeth;
  • Elle stepping up;
  • Molly's scene with Maya; and
  • "Bro-Yay: The Reunion"

Things I didn't like:

  • Peter sides with Adam over everybody else? I can see Peter dismissing Parkman but Hiro...?
  • Monica: can you spell W-A-S-H-O-U-T? She might have tried to help Niki...
  • Micah, orphaned;
  • HRG cutting a deal with the Company seems insanely out of character--isn't he the guy who kept ranting that "you can't trust them"?
  • so what, HRG goes back to being a killer robot?
  • Claire wanting to out the Company and those like her (which came off more as a tantrum than an act of defiance);
  • Peter being an idiot again (not a new moment, just the same one bubbling up like indigestion);
  • Mohinder not even guessing that Sylar might be de-powered, much less taking a precaution or two walking in the door (lamb to the slaughter)--I really thought he might have tried infecting Sylar with a different strain, but no;
  • oh yeah, and Nathan getting his ass shot off when trying to go public with his power, after having been (wisely) totally against it last season

Overall, I'd give these 11 episodes a collective grade of C-. It wasn't good storytelling, much less HEROES-caliber, and deserves to be "the forgotten season" that most shows find cropping up much later in their runs. I hope Tim K and the gang get it together better for Chapter 3 or it'll be sayonara.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Mourning Friends' Losses

I'm overdue on some condolences.
There have been two losses among close friends in the last two weeks.
Our friends Ulysses and Jackie suffered a loss in their family; likewise our friends Dan and Lisa.
Kat's and my hearts go out to them, and they are in our thoughts and prayers.

Lest I Forget (another HEROES post)

It's possible that the producers and writers of HEROES are sneakier than I've been in my last couple posts.
Could they plan to kill off Molly? Monica?
I don't know but I guess we'll see in about ten hours.

Fauxhemian Rhapsody

I'm trying to introduce a new word. Let's see how it does.
The word is "fauxhemian" (foe-hee-me-an), adj., 1. inauthentically bohemian, 2. pretentious.
Any takers?
Other possibilities: Fauxlex (any knockoff of an expensive watch)

Friday, November 30, 2007

More INSIDE STRAIGHT-- Wild Card Consortium Writers Reading My Blog!

Just for fun, I backtracked where some traffic was coming from in the past few days... and found myself at, a comic book site with a healthy discussion board. One of the topics was Wild Cards, and I found (to my surprise) that "old school" WC writers John Joseph Miller and Stephen Leigh post there!

Not only that, but Mr. Leigh happened across my proto-review of Inside Straight and put a link to my blog on the Captain Comics board.


I interviewed JJM years ago for COMICS SCENE about the Wild Cards comic miniseries by Epic Comics (a now-bygone imprint of Marvel), and have an interview with George R.R. Martin and Melinda Snodgrass coming soon in SFRevu-- but it's mighty gratifying to know that two (or more!) of the folks who created the series saw this little write-up.

Thanks for looking in and hope you'll come back again! Drew

HEROES: Dead Pool

Okay, folks, we've heard at least two characters are going down on Monday night.
So who'll it be?
You saw my picks below, but I'd like others to weigh in.
The group of "notables" that could be killed off, to my mind, is:

  • Peter
  • Hiro
  • HRG
  • Claire
  • Sylar
  • Adam Monroe
  • Nathan
  • Matt
  • Niki
  • Micah
  • Monica
  • Mohinder
  • Molly
  • Elle
  • Bob
  • Maya
  • Angela Petrelli
  • Ando

Who's not coming back for another chapter in this story? Comment below!

Avenue Q

What a great show!

When it won the Tony in... um... a couple years ago, I thought this was a soundtrack I'd want to hear. So I bought it to hear on a ride from DC down to Williamsburg.

I laughed my ass off on every song.

Now Kat and I have gone to see the show (it's playing in DC 'only for now' at the National Theatre) and we had a blast. We were both humming along with the songs, applauding at the punchlines and generally enjoying every minute. Kat was surprised by how graphic the sexual content is, while I liked how they integrated a lot of Sesame Street elements through flyaway TV screens.

The cast was fantastic and I was not surprised that many of them have been on the Broadway and/or Las Vegas casts. In particular, we loved Minglie Chen (who played Kate and a bunch of other folks)--she brought real heart to "There's A Fine, Fine Line" and "Mix Tape." We also loved (oh great, I don't have the cast from last night handy-- I'll have to add names later) the actress who played Christmas Eve, the actor who played Princeton and the Bad Idea Bears--they were absolutely adorable little "friends from Hell." But *everyone* in the cast was terrific, well deserving of the ovation they got last night.

If you have the chance, catch the show. We think you'll enjoy it-- but leave the kids at home. This ain't Sesame Street, friends.

Official site.
Artwork copyright Avenue Q, all rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Point of Clarification, and thoughts on next Monday

I'm coming down pretty hard on HEROES and Mohinder in particular. But I'd like to clear up one point.

I don't want anyone to think I'm bashing Sendhil Ramamurthy, who plays Mohinder. For my money, he's giving it his all. Doesn't change my opinion that Mohinder's one of the dumbest smart guys on television... but he's doing a fine job as an actor.

On to other HEROES business.

The promo promises TWO heroes aren't walking away from this one. Who's likely to get the axe? I think...

  • It won't be Peter or Hiro. Between them, for different reasons, they're the anchors of the show.
  • It won't be Claire. That reunion with HRG doesn't feel like it has impending tragedy written all over it (unless they bump off HRG for real this time-- see below).
  • It won't be Elle. She has too much potential and I think she'll be switching sides anyway; Bob isn't doing much to earn his baby girl's loyalty. (The scene in the car was brutal.)
  • It won't be Maury Parkman-- he's out of play anyway-- and it probably won't be Bob or Angela (I don't think enough viewers would get bent out of shape if any of these three bit it).
  • And has the Haitian even been seen in the past month? It'd be cheap to have him show up long enough to get bumped off.

So who does that leave?

  • Matt- a definite possibility, but I think there's a lot left to explore in his descent into the corruption of power. A longshot for elimination.
  • Nathan- poignant if he and Peter are reunited just before Nathan's taken out of play for good. Even money.
  • Mohinder- probably not; they get a lot of mileage out of his being smart and dense at the same time. Longshot.
  • Sylar- are you kidding? Zachary Quinto is gold on this show! Extreme longshot.
  • Maya- yeah, I can see it. Even money.
  • Adam/Takezo- does anyone really doubt Hiro will find a way to get revenge for his dad's murder? I don't think Mr. Forever will make it past next Monday. Sure thing.
  • HRG- sadly, I can see them taking Noah off the board this week. Seeing Claire get him back just to lose him again? Heartless... but not impossible. Even money.

What do you guys think?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Okay, I think Mohinder's marrow-deep stupidity is infectious. That's the only explanation for a bunch of bad decision-making on last night's episode.
Let's recap [spoilers!]:

  • Mohinder is responsible for reviving Noah... and then bitches him out, saying that Noah being shot in the eye was all Noah's fault (my logic professor would love to see that diagrammed out!);
  • Micah tells his worthless, greedy cousin that he has valuable comic books (I can excuse this one, 'cause he's a kid);
  • Peter and Adam go after Victoria Pratt and Peter does pretty much one dumb thing after another (and even Adam isn't too bright if he let her blast him with a shotgun--guess regeneration limits one's peripheral vision);
  • BTW, what the hell power did Victoria have, other than toting a shotgun?
  • Claire goes after Elle, who watches the scattering of the ashes while working a Slurpee, even after Elle knocked her and "West the flying boy" out of the sky last week;
  • Peter chooses to side with Adam over Hiro at Primatech (okay, in what universe does THAT make sense? Didn't Peter get a hint that Hiro was one of the good guys last time?);
  • and finally (the whopper), Maya chooses "Gah-bree-yell" over her own brother because a) they're BOTH murderers (wow! what an insight!), b) her brother Alejandro "hates" her for killling his unfaithful wife (something we've never seen even suggested) and c) apparently Maya is not only gullible and guilt-stricken but she's horny too. Probably doesn't hurt that Sylar's a good looking guy.

So we see a HUGE amount of stupidity last night. Was this...

1. because of the hypercompressed season?
2. an example of "we need Outcome X so people have to do Stupid Things 1 through 15"? or
3. a show bottoming out in its sophomore season?

You be the judge, friends. Comment below.

Monday, November 26, 2007

INSIDE STRAIGHT: the next generation of Wild Cards

I've been a fan of the Wild Cards books since they started coming out in 1987. The premise is simple and elegant: an alien virus is let loose in 1946, killing nine out of ten infected, transforming nine out of ten survivors in a random but bizarre fashion, and leaving that final one-in-a-hundred seemingly untouched... yet endowed with some amazing superpower.

There have been 17 books (from three publishers) in the series, edited by George R.R. Martin (visit his site!) and Melinda Snodgrass (visit her site!). The series grew out of the authors gathering to play a superhero roleplaying game and finally deciding that, being writers, they'd better make some money out of this time-consuming hobby. Publication of the titles trailed off, with the last two releases in 2002 and 2006.

Now, however, the Wild Cards are back.

INSIDE STRAIGHT is the new mosaic novel (collection of interwoven short stories) by this writing group, which includes a handful of new writers amid the veterans. It begins with an assassination in Baghdad, zips to the other side of the world for the debut of a wild cards-based reality show, and ends on the bloody killing fields of Egypt.

Although there are cameos from established characters (such as Golden Boy), the stories introduce a number of terrific new characters:

  • Jonathan Hive (aka Bugsy), a blogger who can turn into a cloud of green wasps;
  • Lohengrin, a knight armored in "ghost steel" who answers the call of duty wherever it leads;
  • Rustbelt, an ironclad Minnesotan who faces a monstrous injustice... and makes a momentous decision;
  • Amazing Bubbles, whose career lies in ruins after her wild card turns;
  • Drummer Boy, a superstrong and six-armed joker who fronts a rock band;
  • Curveball, the "girl next door" who plays to win;
  • Lilith, a mysterious British ace; and
  • Stuntman, a kid who never quite measured up to his athlete dad's expectations, but has an opportunity to become the first American Hero.

Also featured is John Fortune, stripped of his uncontrollable powers by his father Fortunato, who now wants to gain back what he's lost. He has a shot at it, thanks to an amulet given to his mother Peregrine (a famous wild card known for her beauty and her huge white wings). Putting it on opens a world of possibilities... and takes him into the path of terrible danger. Backed by Bugsy and Lohengrin, Fortune chooses to embrace his destiny and heads for Egypt, where the Living Gods (jokers who resemble the Egyptian pantheon) have asked for his help.

You see, as mentioned, the adventure begins with an assassination. The Caliph, ruler of a multi-state Muslim empire, is murdered and a joker terrorist group is framed for the crime. This leads to a horrifying retaliation against Egypt's joker population, a situation that at first seems to be a background element but takes center stage very quickly. (Long-time readers of the series will get an Easter egg, of sorts, as the Caliph is a well-established character from a long time back.)

Up front is the debut of reality show American Hero, pitting 28 aces (divided into four teams) against each other and judged by aces Digger Downs, Harlem Hammer and Topper. Situations are created and the teams must react--with failure meaning each losing team has to "discard" a player. (Yes, the card imagery is still in full force herein.)

The show provides a snapshot of aces in 2008 America. Many of them are celebrities because of what they are (that is, superpowered), not who they are; Bugsy blogs about this at length in the very opening of the book. This becomes an extremely important point, as the entire book turns upon one question:

What is a hero?

As the book splits between the trio (or quartet?) in Egypt and the dwindling cast of AH in Hollywood, the importance of the question grows more clear by the page. Each character has a moment of truth, when they can be a hero or not. Some of these are exceptionally poignant, as a handful step up; the others either fail this test of character (one spectacularly so) or opt out entirely.

A small group of ace volunteers joins Fortune, Bugsy and Lohengrin in Egypt, as two armies converge on Aswan and the masses of joker refugees taking shelter there. There's a Magnificent Seven quality to this final act, which ends in desperate battle and none left unchanged (and several dead) before it's all over.

It's an ambitious book with a lot to say. Wild Cards as a series hasn't shied away from social commentary (in the context of alternate history), but this is perhaps the most head-on tackling of real world issues and the theme of heroism that the series has yet attempted. In a way, it harks back to "Witness" by Walter Jon Williams, one of the very first WC tales. That was about the Four Aces, a team assembled by an altruist and set loose on the world stage in the 1950s; now, the stakes are higher, but the underlying problem is the same: can wild card powers solve world crises? Can those with power stand aside and do nothing while terrible things happen?

What is a hero? By the end of this book, the true heroes are revealed--and a new age dawns for the children of the wild card.

What can I say? I loved this book.

Look for the SFRevu review in January 2008.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Just Finished CITY OF BONES by Cassandra Clare

Really enjoyed it tremendously. In fact, I'm jealous, as a number of elements she's used are things I'd thought of for that urban fantasy I keep promising Kat I'll write. Darn it. Guess I'll have to "creative up" real soon...

She read from the sequel, CITY OF ASHES, at World Fantasy. The book's due out in March 2008, giving you all plenty of time to find and read this first installment.

The summary: Clary Fray, a teenager in Brooklyn, discovers a shadow world of vampires, werewolves, warlocks and faeries co-exists with mankind. A handful of folk descended from the Angel Raziel and imbued with special abilities-- the Shadowhunters-- protect the unwitting masses from supernatural destruction.

A former Shadowhunter named Valentine, long believed dead, has returned and threatens the fragile Accords that enable peace between the Downworlders (the supernaturals) and the Shadowhunters. Clary's mother is involved and soon kidnapped, leaving Clary to seek help from a group of teenagers-- including the charming Jace, the brooding Alec, Alec's boy-bait sister Isabelle-- and their mysterious mentor Hodge. Her best friend, Simon, is dragged into this business as well, and finds that dabbling in the occult is not always very healthy.

Events build to a breakneck pace as revelation follows betrayal, back and forth. Clary's in for quite a number of shocks, especially regarding her forgotten early history and the nature of her mother's boyfriend Luke.

It's quite a ride and there's plenty that will carry over into CITY OF ASHES. The characters are lots of fun, with Clary providing a sensible centerpoint as her world gets darker and stranger by the page.

Okay, that's your capsule review for the day.

The Valiant Resurgence

Hey folks-
Back when I was writing freelance for COMICS SCENE, I ended up doing a fair crop of interviews with the folks at Valiant: creators like Janet Jackson (not the singer/dancer/Superbowl misfire), Jorge Gonzalez, Don Perlin, and a few more I'm forgetting, as well as the amiable presence of Jim Shooter.

Why did I write about them so much? Well, it was an assignment, for one thing. But I really liked Valiant, particularly in its pre-Acclaim, Shooterrific heyday. It was a tight-knit world with a few funky fringe elements (Shadowman, anyone?) but a core mythology that was mighty good. It was "superheroics in the real world," before that caught on in other comics, movies and TV.

In some ways, it was Shooter's Marvel era experiment-- the New Universe-- done right.

My favorite book? Probably Harbinger. I liked the "kids on the run" storyline and enjoyed the first 25 issues tremendously. Then... well, you probably know what happened in that 25th issue. Pete Stanchek (aka Sting) faces off with Toyo Harada and pretty much kicks his ass, losing his powers in the process. =sigh= So much for Harbinger.

And so much for H.A.R.D. Corps, too. Without Harada to kick around, the Harbinger Active Resistance Division (the H.A.R.D. part) had less focus. Sure, they had a traitor in their midst and lost some of their comrades, but the book wasn't the same after Harada was out of the equation.

What do these things have in common? If memory serves, Sting's last stand happened around the time Shooter left Valiant. Then books cropped up like Armorines, Second Life of Dr. Mirage, Secret Weapons and so on. They were pretty good titles, but I felt like the Valiant universe was losing cohesion without Shooter.

It didn't take long. Attempts were made to reconfigure the line, with the launch of Quantum & Woody and a rebuilding of Solar, Man of the Atom. (Phil Seleski, yer outta there!) Didn't really work.

Now there's a resurgence building, with the release of a Harbinger TPB and more in the offing. I hope that if the line does get resurrected, they'll do two things:

1. focus on the "good ol' days" when Harbinger kids were running wild and
2. get Jim Shooter to mastermind the relaunch.

You may disagree but to me, the Valiant line succeeded because of Shooter. Bring him back and you might have something.

Thinkin' Bout HEROES

Last night's episode felt like the show was once again firing on all cylinders. Looks like Tim K heard the sighing masses and injected some adrenaline right into the heart of this beast, 'cause it sure was slouching toward resolution.

Some thoughts (and a couple spoilerish musing in invisotext):

  • West might have started off as a jerk (my wife really didn't like him at all) but I think he's sorting himself out--and he proved to be a stand-up guy when HRG needed his help, which undoes a lot of emo in my book;
  • Was that a sweet move when he grabbed HRG from his own front door or what? Definitely a high moment for this season, you ask me.
  • Hiro and Kaito have some of the best interaction in this episode. Hiro's grown a lot since his first "puppy dog" days--he's probably the most heroic of the characters.
  • Matt is finding out that power can indeed corrupt. His interrogation of Angela Petrelli was illuminating in more ways than one. Could we be seeing Nightmare Man II coming up?
  • Mohinder shot HRG? Are you freakin' KIDDING me? Oh, that's a karmic debt that'll put Dr. Suresh in massive pain sometime soon.
  • The show telegraphed the possibility of HRG coming back from the dead when Adam's blood cured the severely burned and irradiated Nathan last week; I called it after he was shot and Kat said I knew too much;
  • Elle and Claire are going to have one hellacious catfight real soon.
  • Elle is not happy with Daddy Bob right now. Guess HRG hit a nerve.
  • And the Haitian might not be too happy the next time Elle finds him, either. He'd better be quick on the draw with his nullifying power or he'll be Caribbean BBQ.
  • I still think Maya's power has something to do with the Shanti Virus kill-off, though maybe that's a red herring.
  • Is Sylar going to off Suresh? Seems like that'd be one loose thread he wouldn't mind snipping.

All in all, last night was pretty damn good. How are they going to wrap up their version of THE STAND in two episodes? No idea, but the shot of Hiro holding a sword to Peter's throat was pretty killer...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Taming of the Shrew, Washington DC

Kat and I met our friend Sherin (familiar to all you readers of BPD) on Saturday to see "The Taming of the Shrew" at the Harman Center for the Arts in downtown DC (7th St NW, y'all). I'd been in a production (as Biondello, the hapless younger servant of Lucentio) many years ago and figured it'd be fun to watch the show instead of being in it.

We were floored. What a great production! We loved Charlayne Woodard as Katherina and Christopher Innvar as Petruchio especially; their chemistry was brawling, physical, lusty and exciting to see develop. Truly a very well-chosen pair for this role.

We also liked: Nicholas Hormann as the beset-but-enterprising father Baptista; Lisa Birnbaum as the much-desired (but ultimately less pleasing) Bianca; Aubrey Deeker as Hortensio (who plays the character as a '70s-era slicked-back caricature- well done!); Michael Milligan as Lucentio/Cambio, who wins a prize that may not be all he'd hoped; and the diverse cast of disowned fathers, cunning servants (Louis Butelli as Grumio was superb and Bruce Nelson as Tranio a pleasure to watch) and impostors (several of the men adopt aliases, which can become dizzying). In all, the cast was fantastic.

But the cast was fortunate enough to have a setting that matches their artistry. The blog wants to pay special compliments to director Rebecca Bayla Taichman and set designer Narelle Sissons for going above and beyond. The staging was ingenious.

As a side note, Kat and I have discussed at length the outcome of the play. Not to spoil anything but Katherina's final speech may strike many as the product of a monstrously chauvinistic and un-PC society. But I think:

  • Petruchio shared all of the deprivations he inflicted on Katherina-- he didn't feast while she starved or slept while she remained awake;
  • as staged, there is absolutely no doubt of his love for her--he simply needs to get her attention and does so in the most efficient way possible, and he earns her love by the end;
  • Katherina "gets" Petruchio-- this is their game, their way of understanding each other, and her willingness to submit is more an acknowledgement of their partnership than of her spirit being broken
That's my take, anyway.

If you're looking for an outstanding trip to the theater, check out "Shrew" while you can. It's been extended through this week, so go see it! Now!

Friday, November 16, 2007

UPDATED! Grading the Comics November 14

Hey folks-
last month I graded my week's haul of comics. Kind of surprised to learn that this was a popular page to visit on my blog!

So let's do it again, for this past Wednesday's books.

ALL STAR SUPERMAN #9 - Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely did a spectacular job on this issue, one of my favorites of the series so far. Perfectly captures the superiority complex Kryptonians have shown in the past, contrasted with Superman's more understanding and compassionate attitude. A+

AVENGERS INITIATIVE #7 - so THAT'S who the Scarlet Spiders are! No wonder. It clears up one mystery, but suggests much yet to be learned. And Spider-Man really is terrific in this appearance... heck, I'd read Dan Slott on just about anything (and have). A

BOOSTER GOLD #4 - One of my favorite DCU books these days, this one gets moving to clear up a mystery established in issue #1, as well as setting up a bigger, darker nemesis than Booster or Rip suspected. Great use of continuity (a Geoff Johns trademark), and nice use of Flash and Kid Flash too! A

COUNTDOWN TO FINAL CRISIS #24 - okay, finally something happening. Superman-in-Black's identity is revealed (and it's not Kryptonian Johnny Cash), a world is murdered (whoa), Mary Marvel has no meeting of the minds with Darkseid, and the Challengers keep trudging along after Ray Palmer. (And why is the Silver Age Atom so dang important anyway?) B

GEN 13 #14 - the kids hit New York, find a crummy hotel to crash in and go their separate ways. Looks like a set-up to the "break-up" interludes lots of teams go through, except there's a definite agenda behind this (see that last panel and you'll know what I mean). New enemies lurking, new dangers ahead... cool! B+

SALVATION RUN #1 - the Rogues on their own, fending off alien horrors as they try to find safety, only to run into a bigger and somewhat nastier group of "newbies"... well, I like Bill Willingham's work and am ready to give it a shot but I hope something more goes on in the second issue. B-

SUICIDE SQUAD RAISE THE FLAG #3 - Okay, so we see some of Rick's background with Rustam and a final showdown in Skartaris, plus the timely sage advice of Jennifer Morgan. (Probably a lot of non-Warlord readers say "huh?" about now, but it's all right-- she's a sorceress, that's about all you need to know.) Not sure that recruiting the Shaggy Man for the new Squad is going to turn out well for Waller, either. Hm. B

TEEN TITANS EAST SPECIAL #1 - whoa. Cyborg cannot catch a break, can he? Just sorry that [spoiler/invisotext on] everybody was just learning to work as a group before they were all slaughtered. I mean, I didn't really know the new Hawk and Dove but... geez! Eyes torn out, Power Boy burnt to a crisp and then impaled on a branch. This was some truly graphic $#!t, my friends.[spoiler off] So what comes next, as if we didn't know? B+

THOR #4 - A little preachy but interesting. Makes sense that the second "hit" on the Asgardian world tour round-up would be [spoiler]the Warriors Three[/spoiler], but what ya gonna do? Great art, pretty good story. C+

ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR #48 - Mike Carey, you are one sick puppy. Wasn't quite expecting the Negative Zone connection here, but it makes sense (since Kragoff was originally a space traveler, makes sense he'd follow in the FF's footsteps here as well). But Rutskaya is one nasty piece of work... and the new Red Ghost (?) sure is fugly! A

WELCOME TO TRANQUILITY #12 - last issue!! ARGH! Okay, was hoping it'd stick around but... nice resolution to the Coyote Kid storyline, as well as the rampaging zombie hordes and the Host story. Just sorry to see it go. A

WONDER WOMAN #14 - got it, haven't read it yet. Stay tuned. (Update: Still haven't read it. Could it be I'm afraid it won't live up to my high expectations?)

WORLD WAR HULK #5 - Good and bad, honestly. Huge, explosive end to the World War Hulk story, except that it sort of runs out of steam toward the end (like our two major combatants). Nice message, except-- what happened? And who is the Red Hulk supposed to be, if not Bruce Banner further mutated by Tony Stark's energy barrage? I dunno, but... B- (which ain't great considering the series had been A+ up to now) . And... son of Hulk? Really?

X-FACTOR #25 - interesting story, as Jamie sends two dupes on a one-way mission--with Layla tagging along! Forge has a nice guest appearance too. Good work, interested in seeing how these potential futures tie into Messiah CompleX. B+

SCOTT PILGRIM VOL 4 SCOTT PILGRIM GETS IT TOGETHER TP - FINALLY! Do you know how much my wife's been looking forward to this book? She got out of bed at 3 FRICKIN' A.M. to read it! She said it's spectacular. A for content, F for making us wait so long.

The grades skewed way high this time around. Maybe I'm guilty of grade inflation. But... if you have an opinion, chime in!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Another Review Preview Coming Soon

Hey folks-
I owe SFRevu a bunch of reviews between now and the end of the month. Look for a quick "Review Preview" of The Phoenix Unchained by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory (the first in a new trilogy set about a millennium after The Obsidian Trilogy they co-wrote).
My full review will show up here on December 1, by the way.
In the mean time, I know I'll be doing a Review Preview of Inside Straight by George R.R. Martin, Melinda Snodgrass and a batch of folks real soon, so... keep an eye out for it.

Kat Home Sick (and Homesick) Today

My wife woke up yesterday with a scratchy throat, but went to work anyway.
Not today.
She's stayed home with the kittens, tending to what could blossom into a nasty cold or sore throat (which I think is prudent and helps her office more than slogging ahead).
She's also feeling kind of down about the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. This is the first time she'll be away from family and it's hard on her.
We're going to shop for and make Thanksgiving dinner together-- we have a rough menu plotted out and are heading to Whole Foods soon-- and hope it'll be a nice occasion for the both of us.
Still... I think we'll be setting up our webcam so we can Skype our families and friends. It'd be nice to see them, if we can't be there with them.
What are you doing for the holidays?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Busy November

Wow, just looking at the calendar, it's clear Kat and I are heavily booked this month.
We had-or-have:

  • World Fantasy Convention the first weekend of the month;
  • WSFA meeting Friday night;
  • a few reviews due for SFRevu, including the Marc Guggenheim interview we did a couple months ago;
  • probably going to see Taming of the Shrew this week;
  • Thanksgiving (still no plans set, may end up staying home for this one);
  • going to see Avenue Q on the 29th;
  • and figuring out Christmas plans.

whew- I'm tired just reading that list.

One thing I'm hoping is that we won't be renting a car this month. Gas prices are insane.

What are you readers doing this month? November is *supposed* to be quiet here in DC but... not so far! Write and let me know!

Monday, November 12, 2007

more WFC stuff

Saratoga Springs is a great town. We can highly recommend Circus Cafe, near the convention center, and the Borders is probably one of the biggest I've seen outside a huge city like New York. It's easily as big as the one in downtown DC.
Holly Black gave a great reading from Ironside; if you haven't bought the book already, buy it now!
Just finished Sarah Beth Durst's Into the Wild, which is awesome. Follow the link to her site on my home page and give it a glance.
Packed up two huge bags of books and entrusted them to my buddy Ern. Now we just have to get them back.
Got a few books to read-and-review this month, as well as that ghost story, so I'll be keeping busy.
see you soon!


Kat and I had an unbelievable time at the Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band concert at the Verizon Center in DC last night.
I've seen Bruce live about... maybe eight times? Last night was definitely in the top two concerts. The band sounds incredible, and if Bruce is talking a bit less than usual, there's no shortage of sheer musical power up on the stage.
Lots of Bruce-and-Steven nose to nose on microphones (he called out "C'mon, Steven!" about five times during the show), and did the same with Patti on one or two songs (their duet on "Tunnel of Love" was fantastic).
Here's the set list:

  • Radio Nowhere
  • No Retreat, No Surrender
  • Lonesome Day
  • Gypsy Rider
  • Magic (introduced with a few words about Washington DC and spin)
  • extended harmonica solo by Bruce, leading into...
  • Reason to Believe
  • Night
  • She's the One
  • Living in the Future
  • Promised Land
  • I Work for Your Love
  • Tunnel of Love
  • Workin' on the Highway
  • Devil's Arcade
  • The Rising
  • Last to Die
  • Long Walk Home
  • Badlands (absolutely the most high-energy song of the concert to that point)
  • Girls in Their Summer Clothes
  • Growing Up
  • Kitty's Back
  • Born to Run
  • Dancing in the Dark
  • American Land

A little surprise on the way out: we were making our way out of our row and reached the steps when we saw Tim Russert and his wife. He's really youthful in person! Had on glasses and a huge grin. I asked him (probably shouted, 'cause my ears were ringing) how he liked the show and he said "Amazing!" I said this was Kat's first Bruce concert and he said, "My first was in '73!" I added she was first in line for this concert and they said it was a great show to have as a first. Could not have been a better way to say "Hi!" to someone we watch nearly every Sunday morning. Gonna have to send a fan letter...

(Note: the Wikipedia entry above has an interesting paragraph about Mr. Russert's Bruce connection.)

Anyway, Kat's off at work this morning and I'm home, enjoying Veterans Day off. I'll post on Veterans Day later, as my dad and two of my uncles were WW2 vets, but for now... Bruce absolutely rules.

Great article on Bruce's show here.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Friday already?

Where'd the week go? My last post was Monday and go figure, it's already the end of the week.
I have a new item I'll post later today or tomorrow-- it's the ghost story I wrote and read for World Fantasy's open mike night (with a couple of tweaks). Kat thinks I should go right to trying to sell it but it is really short; I'll post it and see if you guys like it.
Anyway, not much planned for the weekend. I'm working Sunday for a few hours, then going to see Bruce Springsteen at the Verizon Center. Ought to be incredible.
Have a great Friday!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Kitten pictures

We got home last night and our kittens have not left us alone. Eileen our neighbor did a great job catsitting for us, but our white tigers missed us a lot.
Here are some current shots.

And more!

Okay, here's a few from this weekend's trip to World Fantasy in Saratoga Springs, NY.
This is a pic of me with Jane Yolen, who's a really terrific person as well as being a wildly prolific author (in diverse genres, no less!).
Below is a pic of Esther Friesner (who was sort of cut out of the frame) and Jennifer Schwabach at the author signing Friday night. You can see the tower of candy they made (which they tipped over immediately after this pic was snapped). We dubbed it the world's sweetest brand of Jenga.

I think we have some more (and I know our SFRevu confederates Paul, Gayle and Ern certainly do), but... it was a LOT of fun!

Costume Pictures!

Last Wednesday was kind of special at Ye Olde Big Monkey Comics. See, a couple of us had the bright idea to take advantage of it being Halloween and come in costume.

So Kat snapped a couple pictures.

Hopefully someone else at BMC also got a few snaps...?

Lots of Stuff Coming Tonight!

Okay, there is a LOT going on to blog about.
Kat and I went to World Fantasy in Saratoga Springs, NY, this weekend and had a fantastic time (no pun intended).
Some highlights:

  • Kat and I interviewed Jane Yolen (a sort of "what's coming next?" conversation), then George R.R. Martin and Melinda Snodgrass about the upcoming relaunch of the Wild Cards series (we're VERY excited!)
  • We also had an unparalleled opportunity to sit and chat with Charlaine Harris (truly one of the nicest writers we've ever met) about all kinds of things; SFRevu did a great interview with her but we hope we'll have the chance to chat again soon
  • Had a get-together with the editorial staff of SFRevu for the first time (John Berlyne--a really terrific guy-- was attending from England; it was a genuine pleasure making his acquaintance, and here's hoping we'll see him again soon!)
  • Caught up with (or at least said hi to) a bunch of friends and acquaintances-- it was worth the trip twice over to see Holly and Theo, Jeff and ME, Chris G and Tom S, plus a big bunch more
  • Got to meet some really wonderful writers-- a big shout-out to Sarah Beth, Cassandra, Mary T, Ian, and (again) a big bunch more (I promise I'll update this as I dig up my notes from the weekend)
  • Also got to see beautiful Saratoga Springs, NY, best known as a resort and racetrack, but there are lots of great stores and it's just plain lovely-- so go see it!

We have some pictures AND I'll be uploading the ghost short story I wrote (and read, at 3am) for an open mike night last Friday. When we record it, I'll upload the audio as well (Kat says it's better heard than read-- gee, thanks).

And of course, there's more news to come.


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Well, the end of October is here and we didn't even carve a jack o'lantern this year.
However, I did make a costume...
Expect pictures soon.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Heroes: Back on Track?

Caught Heroes last night and was pleasantly surprised. What had seemed a scattershot and underwhelming season so far is picking up steam. Some interesting things... [SPOILER ALERT, inviso-text on]

  • HRG is BACK, baby! If anyone thought Noah Bennet had lost his edge, this episode should've proven he's still the same ice-cold bastard he's always been. Not only that, but Jack Coleman does a really magnificent job of showing--just for a split-second--the temptation to give in to Ivan's offer. He can't take it... but you can see that he wants to.

  • West is evil. Not so much in a gloating supervillain way, but he's a bad influence and he's going to mess up Claire but good. I also think HRG is going to end up facing off with this kid (after they meet in an episode or two) and it won't be good for either of them.

  • Sylar is back too. His little aside to Alejandro, about killing the twins and stealing their powers... or settling for his "shiny new toy" Maya if that doesn't happen? Sweet! Zachary Quinto, you're the man.

  • What's gotten into Mohinder? Is he tired of being everyone's patsy? Sure seems like it. Smashing a fridge full of virus (good idea/bad idea?) and refusing to inject Monica with a virus that *should* take away her powers... well, it was a ballsy move, but I still have no idea why Bob targeted Monica. What can being an adaptive muscle mimic do that's so much worse than half the heroes we already know? Geez.

  • And why did Bob have a total change of heart regarding Monica? This is really suspicious--and I think she knows it too.

  • Takezo Kensei, a traitor? Say it ain't so! Well, Hiro did betray him first. I'm eager to see how they'll tie this into the modern story arc for this chapter. I think Kenzai is the ancestor of one or more major bloodlines, probably including the Petrellis... and I wonder if they'll drag him into the present with Hiro. Hm.

Giving this ep a solid B+. Don't know that it's up there with the best of last season but the show is looking up-- and Kat and I are darn glad to see it.

Monday, October 29, 2007


I'm taking a few things with me this weekend-- notably a bit of writing from two projects I have bubbling along.

The first is a section from a book (first of more-than-one) called The Black Key: The Last Eldritch. I might post a little here once in awhile but would like to wait until I'm further along to do more than announce the title. It's an epic fantasy.

The second is less developed but a lot of fun so far. (Kat noted I've used a LOT of profanity in this one, so anyone with delicate reading sensibilities might not want to give this one a try.) The working title is Mirabilis and begins with the narrating character dying in an alleyway from a rather savage neck wound.

Anyway, might be fun to show some writing around and see if anyone is interested in taking a look. They're meant to go to my friend Susan, who's an agent in NYC and agreed long ago to send out anything novel-length that I complete. However, if there's any writerish gatherings at WFC, I might trot these out and see if anyone likes 'em.

Who would you want to meet?

Kat and I are off to World Fantasy on Thursday. Part of the reason we're going is because there are some writers attending whom I really want to meet. Folks like Kim Newman (whose take on Dracula-- in his Anno Dracula series-- has been ingenious and entertaining), for one. He's one of the bright lights of alternate history fiction, in my mind, and I hope I'll have the chance to buy him a beer.

There are lots of other SF and fantasy luminaries but my question is: who would YOU want to meet? If you had the chance to drop a few bucks and attend an event where you could talk to one person, who would it be?

Please comment below, I'm interested in hearing.

Friday, October 26, 2007


Got an email from Stephen R. Donaldson a few weeks ago, replying to a question sent to his Gradual Interview page on his site; he let me know that his touring schedule in the UK will mean he isn't coming to this year's World Fantasy Convention.

I'm bumming.

Not just that I was looking forward to hearing him read a bit from Fatal Revenant, the new Covenant book, or that I wanted another autograph (he's signed my first edition Covenant books and Runes of the Earth for me... I think).

No, it's mostly that I was looking forward to saying "thanks!" for returning to the Land and Covenant. It took me two or three times to dig into Lord Foul's Bane. I was a dedicated Tolkienite; Donaldson's work threw me hard, being the first epic fantasy I'd read that didn't derive a lot of its... well, everything from Tolkien. It went to new places. The dynamic wasn't good vs evil, it was health vs illness; wow, not even a "near hit" like Moorcock's Law/Chaos! It was an entirely new paradigm.

And frankly, Covenant was a bastard. That threw me hardest of all. How many people had trouble getting past page 81 (IIRC) in LFB? I did. The fact that he was a suffering bastard and his arc was about redemption was tough going for my 13-year old brain.

Now here I am, 30 years later, and my wife and I have white gold wedding rings because of SRD. He heard about that, too, at WFC in Madison back in '05. He got a laugh out of it and said, "Don't blame me if something happens!"

Well, I won't see him this time around but I hope he'll be at whatever future WFC we go to-- you have to say thanks when you have the chance, you know?

Grading the Comics (October 24)

Okay, this will be a first. Let me know if you agree or disagree.
Here we go!

  • Action Comics #857 - the end of the Bizarro World trilogy. (Thank God.) Honestly, "Superman vision?" Yikes. D
  • Authority Prime #1 - Bendix's memory tower again? Geez, how many secrets can the guy possibly have left? Let the old Weatherman rot already. There's a difference between plucking up old plot threads and gravedigging Ellis' leftovers from 1998, especially if all you want is StormWatch Classic duking it out with the Authority. F
  • Countdown #27 - wait, wait, is something... happening? Kinda sorta. Sadly, I'm falling out of love with DC's weekly project-du-jour. D-
  • Gen 13 #13 - the Gen kids try to cheer up Grunge (sorry, "Eddie") after last issue's unpleasant business. And they have a battle with a batch of brain-scrubbed clones, too. Not a terrific entry but not bad. B-
  • Green Lantern Corps #17 - a lot of action but not one of the stronger entries in the series. Felt like it was more placeholder than anything else. (We got a new Ion! Guy Gardner goes to fetch a painting! And Kilowog kicks an alien's ass real hard!) Again, not a strong entry but the whole thing has been so good... B
  • Madame Mirage #3 - standout issue of a kickass series. Major revelations, but no spoilers here! Dini's writing is gold and Rocafort's artwork? INCREDIBLE! This guy can draw women like nobody's business. Top Cow's best release of the year. A+
  • She-Hulk #22 - Peter David kicks things off in an interesting way but I'd like to see where he takes it from here. Pretty good art, too. B+
  • Superman #669 - art's good, story is okay. Might be good if they develop this third Kryptonian further, but it looks like it'll be bye-bye Kandor real soon. B
  • Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Superman Prime #1 - SP is still a whiny manbitch. Hearing his backstory (and long list of rationalizations) doesn't change a thing. Nice back-up story. B-
  • Teen Titans #52 - continuing last issue's fight with the future Titans, it looks like the kids are getting beat down hard, caught between their fascistic future selves and Starro-enslaved supervillains. Lots of action, some interesting character insights (potentially). Nice splash page at the end, too. A-
  • Ultimate Spider-Man #115 - Peter's in SHIELD's hands and Kitty Pryde doesn't like it. Plus, the Green Goblin (sorry, Harry Osborn) is running around loose and you know that ain't good at all. A
  • Uncle Sam & the Freedom Fighters vol 2 #2 - a major Phantom Lady issue, slow paced but with some nice character moments and a mild shock at the end. B
  • Walking Dead #43 - shows the build-up to last issue's huge "oh F*** no!" closing splash page from the other side. Nicely done, Mr Kirkman. A
  • Umbrella Academy #2 - some pretty freaky stuff, boys and girls. A
  • X-Men #204 - The X-Men lick their wounds and regroup after having their collective asses handed to them by a coalition of their enemies, while Rogue and Gambit rediscover their passion (and not for Sudoku). BTW, why haven't the X-Men killed Mystique yet? A

Hm. Not a lot of love for some of DC's output this week. Am I holding them to a higher standard? I dunno, but I wasn't feeling it too much on some books.

The Drop Box
So am I dropping anything after this week? Hm.

  1. Don't know if Action will come home again (sorry, I just wasn't digging that story AT ALL).
  2. Countdown is on the chopping block. Think I'm ready to call it quits with the book.
  3. This was the last issue of Tales of the Sinestro Corps I think I'm interested in.

And that's it for this week! Hey, this wasn't so bad. Maybe I'll rev it up next week... oh wait, that's Halloween and we're off to WFC on Thursday. Well... I'll do it again soon, promise.

Preview Review: Dog Days by John Levitt

Hey folks!
I'm working up a bunch of reviews for SFRevu; we have to have them in early this week 'cause almost all of the SFRevu gang is going to the World Fantasy Convention in Saratoga Springs next week. (Expect a bunch of posts either from or immediately after the event--it should be awesome!)

In the meantime, here's my Preview Review of DOG DAYS by John Levitt.

Mason is a bar band guitarist... and more.

His best buddy Louie is a dog... and much more.

These two are the core characters of Dog Days by John Levitt, a new entry into the expanding urban fantasy subgenre. Is there room in what's become a crowded field for one more? Let's see.

Mason makes a living picking up gigs with local blues bands in San Francisco. It doesn't pay an awful lot but lets him keep a roof over his head. He even manages to avoid the trouble he used to encounter as part of a group that policed reckless or dangerous "practitioners" in the Bay Area.

He gave up that job awhile ago, but it seems someone isn't ready for Mason to retire.

In quick succession, he's magically attacked twice, forcing him to call on his old friends for help. The attacks aren't lethal, and Mason comes to think they aren't meant to be; rather, they seem intended to get him out of someone's way... but why? Louie, his magic animal companion, saves the day but the skill and determination of the attackers is more than they can handle alone.

Mason checks in with Sherwood, a former girlfriend who instructs young practitioners. She convinces him to visit with Eli (his former mentor) and Victor (his former much-despised colleague) to pursue the problem. Mason does so, but doesn't find any answers. Instead, he learns that animal companions like Louie have been disappearing more often than usual. Perhaps, he figures, they know something their human friends don't.

The mystery deepens with the surfacing of strange gemstones and a former magic-poor nobody who's suddenly demonstrating a massive, inexplicable increase in power. What does this have to do with a hidden "fight club," a runaway girl with the power to find anything and a murder or two in the magic community?

Turns out, an awful lot... especially once Mason realizes the true nature of the danger growing in San Francisco. But having given up the life of magic, it's not clear he could win a battle of magic. If he's going to survive, he'll have to fall back on the one talent that serves him in magic and music: improvisation.

Levitt creates appealing, fully-rounded characters in Mason and Louie, giving them a huge challenge to confront in this first adventure. It helps that they have a worthy supporting cast: Sherwood is a no-nonsense presence and an anchor of sorts for Mason, whose night-oriented lifestyle needs that kind of balance. Eli is a former teacher, who compensates for his limited magical talents by obsessive scholarship, while Victor is a very rich man with tremendous skill, no time for foolishness and a cat companion of his own.

Then there is Campbell, a healer to whom Mason turns at a crucial moment. She's a refreshing change of pace from the stock "cleric" of roleplaying games, being a Wiccan who's both practical and generous.

On the other side, there's Christoph, a slick weasel who was never a player... until he suddenly shows off powers that should be impossible. His goals and methods come into focus only slowly but make appalling sense once the truth is revealed.

Anyone who likes solid storytelling (and is partial to urban fantasy) will enjoy Dog Days. Here's looking forward to the next adventure of a guitarist and his extra-special dog.

Like in stage magic, there's a bit of misdirection involved, but readers will enjoy the rollercoaster ride through dangers both magical and mundane.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Big Week in Comics!

Hey gang!
Looks like I'll be shelling out today. Here's what I have on my list for must-buy/maybe-buy this week:

  • Action Comics #857
  • Authority Prime #1
  • Countdown #27 (if I buy this, it's probably for the last time)
  • Doktor Sleepless #3
  • Gen 13 #13
  • Green Lantern Corps #17
  • Madame Mirage #3
  • She-Hulk #22
  • Superman #669
  • Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Superman Prime #1 (ah, how soon they grow up)
  • Teen Titans #52
  • Ultimate Spider-Man #115
  • Uncle Sam & the Freedom Fighters vol 2 #2
  • Walking Dead #43
  • X-Men #204 (go, Mike, go!)

And... is it me or is anyone else getting a little tired of the zombie variant covers on EVERYTHING? Don't get me wrong, I love Arthur Suydam's work... but I'm seeing it all over the place these days, and ubiquity is not engendering affection. In a way, it'll be a good thing when MARVEL ZOMBIES vol 2 is over--the zombieverse needs to go away for awhile. (Or maybe zombies are just monstrously overused in horror films of the last six or seven years. I know I'm not eager to see any more shambling corpses on the silver screen.)

Your mileage may vary.

Is Pushing Daisies Too Good?

Last week, my wife and I were catching up on Pushing Daisies (having gotten home after it's 8pm start time). She looked at me and said, "It's too good."

I know just what she means.

From time to time, a show will come along that is charming, witty and well-cast. That show often doesn't survive more than a few episodes. Why? Let's look at a few:

  • Profit (1996)- a brilliant, darkly humorous show in the rapacious '90s, featuring a young and rather wolfish Adrian Pasdar in the title role. It was way ahead of its time, with themes and elements that are almost standards now--a psychopathic-but-sympathetic lead character, vicious backstabbing under hearty camaraderie, and a driving "who's going to stop this guy?" question hanging over the whole thing. What killed it off? It was AHEAD OF ITS TIME. Maybe the viewing public wasn't ready for a prime-time character that dark--but it paved the way for a lot of what HBO and Showtime have done in the last decade.
  • Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974)- the show that blazed trails for an awful lot of others (including The X-Files), Night Stalker was largely "monster of the week" TV viewing but the show carried off what might have been trite or conventional with flair. Darren McGavin was Karl Kolchak, a shabby and fallen-from-grace reporter in an old suit, straw boater hat and sneakers, whose disreputable publication only ensures his incredible adventures are dismissed. Kolchak is no fighter; however, he is heroic in his single-minded pursuit of the truth, wherever it leads. What killed it off? McGavin claims credit, saying he was tired of doing the same kind of story over and over again, but it's equally possible that the "thrill of the new" had worn off in the show's first season. Without anything larger--shows have figured out how to do "meta-plotting" in the decades since--perhaps people felt Kolchak's adventures added up to not very much. Still... I defy anyone to watch those old episodes and not feel a shiver or two.

Okay, that's the two that struck me. Do you have any examples? Post your thoughts in the comments below.

In the meantime... do I expect "Daisies" to go off the air? No, not really. It's a terrific show, lots of fun and (most importantly) has a time slot that isn't the kiss of death. Put up against the heavyweights of the TV schedule and it might wither beyond even Ned's power to revive it, but as it is--I think the Pie Hole will be open for business for some time to come.

UPDATE- Yay! ABC has given a full-season order to Pushing Daisies, from 13 to 22 episodes. Read about it here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Should've Done This a Long Time Ago...

I just signed up my site with Google Analytics. This site offers extremely cool stats on how the blog is performing--and says I received ten visitors yesterday. Cool! Hope you'll come back and visit soon.

Anyway, I'll post some "preview reviews" of what I'm writing for SFRevu for November, along with some pictures I took from this past week's Solar Decathlon here in DC.

Beat the heat-- stay home and read my blog! Be seeing you.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Loudoun County VA Farm Tour

Yesterday Kat and I did a bit of driving around Loudoun County. This weekend was the annual Farm Color Tour, wherein a bunch of local farmers open their properties to agritourists like us. We had a real good time visiting the Heritage Farm Museum, Crooked Run Orchards and Temple Hall Farm Regional Park.

We also had lunch at a nice place on West Colonial Highway in Hamilton, VA (just off Rt 287). It's Lowrys Crab Shack, and we can definitely say that the portions are ample and the prices very reasonable. We liked the place quite a bit (as did their many customers) and plan to visit again if we're out that way.

We have a few pictures on our second-best camera and will update this post when we unload the chip. Kat took some pictures of sheep, chickens and so on, while I snapped some landscapes. You'll see them here soon.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The TV Season Thus Far

Okay, it's coming up on November (aka Nielsen or "sweeps" month), so where do we stand on what's out there now?

  • HEROES got off to a slow start--my wife in particular didn't feel engaged in the storylines-- but the last installment kicked it into overdrive; the "last generation" of heroes looks like it will be a goldmine
  • PUSHING DAISIES just keeps getting better and better; Lee Pace, Anna Friel, Chi McBride and Kristin Chenoweth are the new Fantastic Four
  • BIONIC WOMAN? Haven't seen it, don't have much interest in seeing it. Gives me a faux-Alias vibe which is about as fresh as "the Y2K bug"
  • CHUCK-- oddly enjoyable, with Zachary Levi showing range (and likeability) I wouldn't have suspected from his stint on LESS THAN PERFECT
  • MY NAME IS EARL is doing very well, considering the lead character's been in prison this season and shows little sign of getting out soon-- btw, did you know Wikipedia has an entry for Earl's list?
  • 30 ROCK is the best show not enough people are watching-- my wife and I are absolutely hooked on the byplay between Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin
  • THE OFFICE is doing well but I have some doubts if the show will stay "up there" now that the Jim & Pam thing has jelled (unlike in the British original, where that was pretty much the end of the series); we're definitely watching, though
  • FAMILY GUY/AMERICAN DAD!-- maybe I'm hopelessly middlebrow in my choice of viewing, but I really like these shows; I think they've been doing great and are only getting better (side note: we saw the AD panel at San Diego and were BLOWN AWAY--Scott Grimes [Steve] is a riot and Seth MacFarlane does the best Patrick Stewart impression I've ever heard)
  • ROBOT CHICKEN-- cost of action figures: immense, per episode; value of entertainment (especially the Star Wars bits): priceless. As if Seth Green weren't talented enough...
  • BEAUTY AND THE GEEK-- my wife and I know Will (who was eliminated with Rebecca last week) and were watching largely to see him, but we're kinda/sorta sticking with it if we're home Tuesday nights. We don't have any vested interest in anyone winning or losing at this point, so it's just more about seeing the spectacle.

So there you go. Write in if you agree, disagree or just want to talk TV.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

My Comics List for 10/17/07

Here's the rundown on what I'm reading today. The stuff in italics is either "on the bubble" (meaning I'm pretty close to dropping it) or entirely new and untried (the one on this list would be Highwaymen, which I haven't read yet).

BOYS #11

Of what's out this week, I'm really looking forward to Marvel Zombies and Ultimate Fantastic Four. I reviewed the first issue of Marvel Zombies for Big Monkey Comics way back when, and think it's probably the most fun book Marvel's put out in a long time. UFF is written by Mike Carey and darned if I won't read just about anything the man writes.

(BTW, Mike, if you read this-- Kat absolutely LOVED "Confessions of a Blabbermouth"! She thinks Louise is a terrific writer and that the themes you delve into are things she'd never seen tried in comics before. Kudos!!)

Friday, October 12, 2007

Some Upcoming Stuff

Kat and I are heading off to the World Fantasy Convention the first weekend in November. Should be a good chance to meet some writers and editors. I'm shooting to have a couple chapters of two or three books in progress to take with me, but think trying to complete a novel between now and then just won't happen. At the least, it wouldn't be something I'd feel comfortable about showing.
So I'll get a couple things in the works and see which one hits the finish line first.
Also thinking about the holidays already-- Mom might come up from Mississippi, which we're all hoping she'll do, and we might do like we did a few years ago and find a place for a big family gathering for Christmas. Sure would be fun if we did.
And of course there's the Bruce concert on the 11th of November. Cannot wait.
later! Drew

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

New Banner Coming Soon

Kat designed a new banner for the blog. I think you'll all enjoy it... and I'll try to get it uploaded tonight. It's cool.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Long Weekend Not Long Enough

Hey gang-

Well, we had us quite a weekend. My parents-in-law came to visit Friday afternoon and left very early Sunday. In between, we went to Clydes in Gallery Place for lunch, then to the International Spy Museum's gift shop, then to the sculpture garden and the art gallery next to it. (That's where I took this picture, which is NOT that good, I'm afraid.)

After that, we went to Kat's office to pick up the car, and then home.

Saturday was pretty much Alexandria Day. We went to Great Wall to do some shopping, then home to drop off groceries, then out to Old Town for a day wandering up and down and along the waterfront. Took a cruise in the Potomac (thanks, Mom!) and wandered along King Street awhile, before grabbing dinner at Fish Market. Kat and I weren't feeling too good afterward, possibly the cumulative effect of the whole day. We felt a bit better later Sunday, after sleeping in a bit.
Yesterday was very quiet, mostly stayed at home (Kat called in sick, I had Columbus Day off). I wrote more of my novel (up to 15k words, woohoo!) and we took a walk around the block (twice). Then HEROES and... that's about it.
Let me know how you all spent your (hopefully long) weekend! Later!

Friday, October 5, 2007

This Weekend

Hey gang-
Kat's parents (my in-laws) are hitting DC today so we'll be doing a lot with them tomorrow and Sunday. Most probable destination: Dupont Circle Farmers Market on Sunday. Steve won't be coming (he has something silly to do, like work or study or whatever), but we'll find plenty to keep us occupied.
Odds are good Kat will want to hit Tysons Galleria for some marathon shopping, in which case... I'll stay home and write!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Field Report on Bruce in NJ, by Paul Skeen

Hey folks,
Paul Skeen, one of my oldest and best friends, saw Bruce's rehearsal show in Asbury Park. He also had a bit of extra luck when it came to the Boss, as his email describes...

I have very interesting Bruce story for you. Tuesday night my friend Rich asked if I could go with him to the Tuesday rehearsal show in Asbury.

Having seen the show the night before and the $100 price , I thanked him but said I'd have to hold off. The next day I asked if he was able to get rid of the ticket. He said he had,in a way.

He traded that ticket for 2 tickets to the Friday rehearsal show at the Meadowlands. His wife would then be able to get to see the show. Well, on Thursday his wife discovered she would not be able to go. He offered me the ticket for free.


Free Bruce Ticket/the Arena was not charging for parking/3500 people in a 20,000 seat Arena.

I'm not an idiot.

The difference between Monday's show and Friday's was unbelievable. The sound was much improved, the band was tighter . The only thing they need to fix is a couple song transitions, which I know they will. The feeling of being in a 20,000 seat arena that only had about 3000-3500 people was surreal.

About 10 minutes before they came out they allowed everyone to go to the floor. We opted to move over a section and down about 7 or 8 rows. They only sold the side sections on the lower level for reserved seating and not that many general admission tickets.

To say the least, you are going to see a great show.

Here's the setlist:

  • Radio Nowhere
  • Ties That Bind
  • Lonesome Day
  • Gypsy Biker
  • Magic
  • Candy's Room
  • She's the One
  • Livin' in the Future
  • Promised Land
  • Town Called Heartache- Duet w/Patti
  • Reason To Believe
  • Darlington County
  • Born in the USA
  • Devils Arcade
  • The Rising
  • Last to Die
  • Long Walk Home
  • Badlands
  • Waitin' on a Sunny Day
  • Thundercrack
  • Born to Run
  • American Land w/ Larry Eagle & Lisa Lowell from Seeger Sessions Band
I have to say this. "Reason to Believe" was one of the best songs I've ever seen him do. I really hope you get it at your show.

Thanks for the heads-up on the Bruce show, Paul. Being the longtime fan you are, your opinion carries a lot of weight with me and Kat. Hope we'll see you and Belinda soon!