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)