Thursday, July 12, 2007

Old Dog, New Tricks

I've started a new blog, Old Dog, New Tricks, hosted on my private domain and devoted solely to the topic of freelance writing. No Stoppard. No Foobs. No Gossip Rag Bitch-Slap. I envision it as a kind of laboratory for experimenting with new ways of stringing words together and, maybe, making some money from them.

It's sparsely furnished at the moment, but please check it out if you're so inclined.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Killer Bs -- Baker, Bull and Bachman

Time for a new science fiction and fantasy roundup in the San Francisco Chronicle!

I'm positively giddy with the way Kage Baker wrapped up her series about the Company. No dangling plotlines. The right mix of characters. Plenty of mind-boggling time-travel action. Everything you could wish for in a finale. (Take that, David Chase!)

I hadn't ready anything by Emma Bull in quite a while and was pleased to see what she's done in her new Western fantasy, "Territory."

I remember back when no one knew that Richard Bachman was really Stephen King. In high school, my good friend Matt Gats got ahold of the now-out-of-print "Rage" and told any member of the Portsmouth Clippers Marching Band who would listen that it was great. I'm not sure how many of us believed him, though many probably wish they could own that first-edition paperback now.

Eight Is More Than Enough

I've been infected with a meme by my pal and colleague Michael Ansaldo. In the interests of not being a spoilsport, I will play along and provide eight autobiographical facts and/or habits.

First, the rules, always with the rules:

1.We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
2. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
4. At the end of your blog post, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
5. Don’t forget to leave them each a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

FACT: I'm really good at learning to read and write foreign languages and absolute crap at speaking them. That's why I enjoyed classical Greek in college and grew so frustrated with French and German.

FACT: I'm left-handed (which is probably part of the reason why I'm crap at speaking foreign languages. Stupid right-brain dominance.)

FACT: As a child, I always managed to injure myself seriously on major vacations. In Hawaii, I stumbled off a cliff while hiking to a scenic waterfall. In Texas, I walked through a plate-glass door after throwing firecrackers from the balcony of my grandfather's apartment.

FACT: In my early teens, I was obsessed with the pulp novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Tarzan of the Apes. John Carter of Mars. Carson of Venus. My avid interest may have had something to do with the Frank Frazetta covers.

FACT: Four summers ago, I appeared as Mr. Bumble in the Vallejo Musical Theatre production of "Oliver!"

HABITS: I've pretty much eradicated my New England accent, but if tired and inattentive, I will do such things as refer to the singer of "What's Love Got to Do with It?" as "Teener Turna." My daughter gives me grief for calling the second day of the workweek "Tuesdee."

FACT: I can still kinda-sorta play the trumpet, but my chops are like day-old spaghetti.

FACT: Before I got married, I lived platonically with my wife's sister for four years.

I don't have many bloggy friends, but I will tag the following:


Friday, July 06, 2007

Gossip Rag Bitch-Slap -- Part Three

"Let's do something other than read!"

Both Us Weekly and Photoplay feature full-page ads for various and sundry post-literate media. Us tends to focus on TV shows and videogames.

Nothing impressive or particularly risible here. Modern marketing at its most mundane.

Photoplay's got it going on, though, with movie ads like this one. I've never seen "Vendetta," but it certainly seems to be an attention-grabber.

Who needs that HBO black-and-white minimalist crap when you can have a four-color Faith Domergue, star of "This Island Earth" and "The House of Seven Corpses," clutching a knife with her dress half torn off? Plus, grown men smacking each other with riding crops or blackjacks or both!

You don't even need color photography when you've got copy as vivid as that promoting "Storm Warning" (or "I Frenched a Bigot"):

"The kiss of a Klansman...! This is the story of a pretty girl who spends a night in "friendly" little town...Suddenly out of the dark she is faced with the fear only a girl can know. Here is a picture more tense than words can describe -- as fresh as the ink of tomorrow headlines!"

Yow! All that, and Ginger Rogers, Ronald Reagan and Doris Day!

I never knew that the Klan spent all their energy menacing perky blondes. Guess that's why there are no African Americans in the supporting cast.

Photoplay is way ahead in this category, but I'm not finished yet. More hyperventilating movie ads have an appointment with the scanner.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


Get me to the eye-wash station, stat!

We all knew this day was coming, but did Johnston have to spoil Independence Day for us Americans? The barbecue, the fireworks, the interminable pops concert from D.C. with two-fifths of the original Beach Boys -- they've all been ruined by the Love That No One Wants to Name.

If you need an antidote to Granthony mackin' on Liz, check out the re-mix of the "Shannon Takes a Stand" saga. UPDATE: Sorry, but "Shannon Takes a Stand" has been shut down by The Man, or more accurately, by a polite-but-firm letter from the official FBofW Web developer.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Happy 70th Birthday, Tom Stoppard

Today is Stoppard's 70th birthday. We wish him all the best and many more.

Franz Kafka was also born on this date. As was Tom Cruise. Make of that what you will.

Monday, July 02, 2007

More Stoppard on the Radio

The radio play "In the Native State," a precursor of "Indian Ink," is now available on BBC 7:

The British Empire and India, as viewed through the prism of the present and 1930 - when an artist painted a woman's portrait.

Also on the schedule are "The Dissolution of Dominic Boot":

Tom Stoppard's first radio play written in 1964. Dominic travels around London trying to raise cash for the mounting taxi fare.

And "Where Are They Now?":

An Old Boys reunion dinner inevitably invites echoes from the past.

Links for all three can be found on this page.

BBC 4 has "The 15-Minute Hamlet" for your listening pleasure.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Gossip Rag Bitch-Slap -- Part Two

"They think they're people!"

Magazines such as Us and Photoplay operate with a set of conflicting imperatives. On the one hand, they like to pretend that celebrities are some higher order of being, that being photogenic and marginally talented invests upon them a sort of ineffable miraculousness. On the other, you don't want your movie stars to get too uppity, so these magazines print lots of unflattering shots of them under the pretext of "See, they're really nothing special!"

The caption about train-wreck-in-the-making chanteuse Amy Winehouse alleges that she does her own laundry, but I suspect that what she's really doing is destroying her own evidence.

Photoplay can't really match the tawdry banality of Us. The best it can do is provide this completely natural and action-packed shot of household accountacy by Lena Lamont from "Singing in the Rain" and her condescending hubby.

This round goes to Us. At least they don't make us look at shots of Brad and Angelina firing up TurboTax together.