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.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
- 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.
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.
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?
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.
- Don't know if Action will come home again (sorry, I just wasn't digging that story AT ALL).
- Countdown is on the chopping block. Think I'm ready to call it quits with the book.
- 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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
- THE SIMPSONS-- eh
- 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
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).
BRAVE AND THE BOLD #7
DEATH OF THE NEW GODS #1
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #14
MARVEL ZOMBIES 2 #1
SUBURBAN GLAMOUR #1
ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR #47
ULTIMATE X-MEN #87
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
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.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Friday, October 5, 2007
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
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
- 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
- Waitin' on a Sunny Day
- Born to Run
- American Land w/ Larry Eagle & Lisa Lowell from Seeger Sessions Band
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!