Saturday, January 31, 2009

An Exciting Opportunity to Sit One Thin Cube Wall Away From Me!

Marketing managers with experience in finance preferred required.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Here's the Skinny

Today for ComicMix, I reviewed Carol Lay's new diet book/graphic novel The Big Skinny.

One Way to Do an Interview

Pat's Fantasy Hotlist interviews Glen Cook, and they fail to communicate nearly the entire way through. The interesting thing to me is how utterly different Pat's and Glen's views of the literary world are.

Pat's questions also at times seem to be exceptionally generic, though he obviously has read some of Cook's work -- which is better than many interviewers.

(I've never done interviews myself in large part because I'm afraid they'd end up like this.)

Quote of the Week

"Love is not the dying moan of a distant violin -- it's the triumphant twang of a bedspring."
- S.J. Perelman

This is the first of a series of quotes on the same subject -- appearing the last Friday of the month -- that will run nearly all year. I got them all from The Big Book of Sex "Quotes", edited by Julian L'Estrange and published by Cassell in the UK in 2004. I'll chuck in the obligatory Amazon thingy below, but I bought it cheaply from Edward R. Hamilton, and -- if you're interested in it -- I suggest you check his stock first.

I read The Big Book of Sex "Quotes" just as a book like this was meant to be read -- in fits and starts, as I had a spare moment, generally lying in bed before going to sleep. I'm not going to "review" it, because it's a book of quotes about sex, and that would be just silly. It's just fine as what it intends to be, and would be a more than adequate diversion in the smallest room or elsewhere.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Quote of the Day

"Because nothing says hope like half-naked people fighting."
- Heidi MacDonald, The Beat, today

Andrew Wheeler Watch: Week 3,754

I am not the Andrew Wheeler urging you to reconsider your 2009 Marketing Budget, even if it sounds like the kind of thing I might say.

If I had any concerns about your marketing budget, I'd tell you directly -- that's the kind of guy I am.

Further updates from the world of Andrew Wheelers will follow as necessary.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What World?

I reviewed the new fancy-schmancy Ghost World: Special Edition -- a collection of the Dan Clowes graphic novel, the screenplay by Clowes and Terry Zwigoff for the movie of the same name, and various other related materials -- today for ComicMix.

My Green Man Music of 2008

For the third and last time, a post full of links related to my "best of the year" selection for Green Man Review. This one will be slightly more useful, since I'm using the MAGIC OF WIDGETS! to embed snippets of the songs I chose. That way, you can tell if I have good or bad taste immediately.

This list is in three parts; first comes my favorite albums of 2008, with links:
Next is the first of my two widgets for today, with the songs I called "Quiet":

(Missing from the widget are: “Ghosts” by Caroline Keating, “Song for the Winter Sun” by Loom, and “C’mon Baby Say Bang Bang” by Jane Vain & the Dark Matter.)

And last is widget #2, with the songs I called "Rocking":

(Again, several songs aren't available for the widget -- "Brigitte Bardot” by Creature, “Fairy Tales” by Hypernova, and “Growing Old” by Terrordactyls.)

Movie Log: Brideshead Revisted

I've never seen the miniseries version of Brideshead Revisited, but I've recently seen the very Emma Thompson-heavy movie version from last year. And it's a perfectly respectable classy movie of a certain sort -- a period movie, set in England, about how it's beastly awful that all of those repressed people (often religious, as well) are so repressed.

(The Wife is quite fond of any period movie with plummy accents, so I see more than my fair share of the type.)

I haven't read the book in a decade, but I do remember it being somewhat more nuanced than the movie is -- although Charles Ryder's lust for the house comes across pretty clearly. (And, speaking of things coming across clearly, a minor character spells out the point of the movie about five minutes before the end, nudging all of us in the ribs who haven't managed to fall asleep.)

The story is familiar to readers of Evelyn Waugh's novel and those who remember the miniseries: Ryder (Matthew Goode) is a poor-but-honest student in the '20s at Oxbridge -- I think the movie specifies which, but I didn't bother remembering -- where he falls in with the rich, dissolute, and flaming Sebastian Flyte (Ben Whishaw). Flyte takes Ryder home to the ancestral pile, Brideshead, and Ryder immediately wants to become part of Flyte's world. (Flyte wants to fuck Ryder -- that and drink heavily -- but little else.)

Everyone moans about how oppressive and unpleasant Catholicism is, particularly the type epitomized by Flyte's mummy, Lady Marchmain (Thompson). Thompson plays the role as rigid and upright, but she's no nastier than a thousand similar upright Victorians in a thousand similar movies -- she'd be an utter wimp as an aunt of Bertie Wooster's. So the hysteria surrounding her -- she's supposedly "destroyed" her estranged husband and her children with her piety -- doesn't make much sense.

And, of course, Brideshead Revisited the movie does its best to reverse the moral of Brideshead Revisited the book, since this kind of period movie is always in favor of freedom and license, which Waugh most definitely was not. It's not a bad movie, all in all, but it's barely a cartoon of Waugh's story. And it's too true to that story to provide the cathartic running-away-to-Italy ending that movies of this sort always want to have.

So Brideshead Revisited is really only for those, like my wife, who really really like this kind of movie, and will see it as many times as they can. The rest of us can take a pass.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My Green Man Movies of 2008

These are the movies I listed for Green Man Review's big "Best of 2008" special issue. Here they have links, in case there's anyone so foolhardy as to buy a movie just because I liked it. But you'll have to go to GMR to know why I liked any of these. (And to read my lame excuse for why my list of the best of 2008 includes several movies from 2007.)

My Green Man Books of 2008

Here are the books I listed for Green Man Review as my favorites of 2008, in the categories of SFF and comics. Nitpicky readers might note that these do not precisely line up with my "Favorites of the Year" post from this blog on the first of the year.

If you call it a contradiction, I'll only start quoting Whitman, and nobody wants that. So let's move on hastily to the list itself...



More Publishing Bad News

Reed Business Information, the publisher of Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and School Library Journal, has restructured their staff, laying off about 7% of employees.

The highest-profile job loss is Sara Nelson, the occasionally-too-perky editor-in-chief of PW.

[via New York Times ArtsBeat]


The e-mail newsletter Shelf Awareness has further details of the Reed cuts: the Spanish-language magazine Criticas will be folded and its senior editor, Aida Bardales, laid off.

Also let go by PW are executive editor Daisy Maryles, bookselling editor Kevin Howell, children's reviews editor Elizabeth Devereaux and director of business development Rachel Dicker.

The remnants of the group -- PW, Library Journal, and School Library Journal -- will be overseen by SLJ editor-in-chief Brian Kenney, who becomes editorial director.

Best wishes for a speedy and successful job search to all of those let go, especially Bardales, who was a book-club colleague some years back.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Some People Have Painted Marriages, While Others...

Today for ComicMix I reviewed a new collection of cartoons by Liza Donnelly and Michael Maslin entitled Cartoon Marriage. I liked it, too.

Green Men Declare Best of 2008

Green Man Review just posted its annual special issue, devoted to the best of the year just ended. And this year they not only asked me to join in, they even led off with my choices -- I think entirely because I wrote far too much, but I'll take it.

Others who participated -- choosing music, movies, books, chocolate, and other things -- were Lou Anders, Kage Baker, Tobias Buckell, James Hetley, Elizabeth Hand, Josepha Sherman, Peter Beagle, and Tim Pratt. (And many more.)

I'm going to turn my various lists into link-filled posts here -- because linking is one of the core joys of blogging -- but you'll have to go to Green Man to read what I said about everything.

Gaiman's Graveyard Book Wins the Newbery!

And, yes, I do think that deserves an exclamation point.

The John Newbery Medal is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. It's the Hugo or Booker of children's books, and -- if you grew up in America -- is probably the first book award you ever knew existed.

This years Newbery Medal was awarded to Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book.

And, just for good measure, here is my review of Graveyard Book.

Reviewing the Mail, Week of 1/24: Comics & Manga

This is the second part of my usual Monday morning post; see the first part for the usual potted explanation. This post lists and comments on the comics, manga, graphic novels, illustrated narratives -- or any other terms that mean "words and pictures telling stories together" -- that I saw last week, and that I may review in the fullness of time.

Jeffrey Brown, whose work is growing on me the more I see it -- maybe growing like kudzu, but definitely growing -- has launched a new series called "Sulk" from Top Shelf. In front of me are the first two issues: Sulk Volume 1: Bighead & Friends, which came out in October, and Sulk Volume 2: Deadly Awesome, from December. The first one is some kind of superhero story, with a protagonist called Bighead. And the second one is a long fight scene, between two fighters in a fictional version of one of those "ultimate" martial-arts leagues.

And then I get into the books Yen Press -- the manga-publishing arm of Hachette in the US -- will release in February. These next seven books are all from Yen in February, all in the usual paperback format -- though some read "forwards" and some "backwards," depending on the creators.

Zombie-Loan, Vol. 5 is from the Peach-Pit collective, continuing the story of a small group of resurrectees working as loan enforcers/bounty hunters to pay off their own debts. (My reviews of earlier volumes: two, three, four.)

Black God, Vol. 5 was written by Dall-Young Lim and drawn by Sung-Woo Park, and is yet another one of those stories in which a regular guy is connected magically to a super-powered something-or-other. A cute girl, in this case -- which is also not that uncommon. (My reviews of earlier volumes: two, three, four. Those links may cause deja vu in some clickers.)

And then there's Higurashi, When They Cry: Abducted by Demons Arc, Vol. 2, with a story by Ryukishi07 and art by Karin Suzuragi. This one started out like a harem manga, but there are building horror undertones, particularly as more is revealed about this creepy little town. (And the "abducted by demons" in the subtitle may also be a clue.) I covered the stories that became the first volume of this as they appeared in Yen+ magazine in this review. (And I imagine Higurashi, When They Cry has already spawned a thousand "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra" jokes, so take those as read.)

Speaking of Yen+, another series has spun out from there into its own collection: Maximum Ride, Vol. 1, credited to James Patterson and NaRae Lee. Patterson is the author of the "Maximum Ride" series of novels, published by another division of Yen'a parent company, and this series is set in the same world -- though it's not clear (to me, since I haven't read the books) whether this manga adapts any of the novels or if it's a separate story. I also only just learned, from the back cover, that "Maximum Ride" is the full name of the young woman called "Max" in this story. Um, really? Her name is Maximum Ride? Sounds like the jokey name for a biker's "old lady" to me.

And then there's Moon Boy, Vol. 6, by Lee YoungYou. I really don't know what is going on in this story, but there are "foxes" and "rabbits" -- all human, as far as I can tell -- who are fighting. I think.

I also have here Goong: The Royal Palace, Vol. 4, by Park SoHee, a slightly alternate world story in which a young woman has married the heir to the (no longer extant in our world) King of Korea, and then had to learn to live with the spoiled teenage brat. I reviewed the second volume for ComicMix.

As far as I know, Comic, Vol. 5 is the latest volume of a soap opera series by Ha SiHyun, for girls, from Korea, about a wanna be comics creator (or manwha-ga, to be all Korean about it). The back cover of this volume seems to bear that out, talking about the feelings -- mostly wounded -- of a number of people. But, if all that's the case, why does it have Sexy Nazi Boy on the cover? A confused world wants to know.

And that was it for Yen; we'll now turn to other publishing companies once again.

In the Flesh is a collection of ten short comics stories by Israeli cartoonist Koren Shadmi. Some of the stories have previously been published in France, (and, thus, presumably, in French) but Shadmi now lives in New York, so I believe these were all written in English. From a quick look at the pages, these seem to be dark, sometimes surreal stories of love and lust. Villard will publish In the Flesh on February 3rd.

Top Shelf recently published the third collection of James Kochalka's daily "American Elf" diary comics -- available, as always, on the web -- under the obvious title American Elf, Book Three: The Collected Sketchbook Diaries of James Kochalka: January 1, 2006 to December 31, 2007. And I'm gonna read it.

And last for this week is Dean Koontz's Dean Koontz's Frankenstein: Prodigal Son, the comics adaptation of the novel of the same name. The novel was credited to Koontz and Kevin J. Anderson -- though, in my experience, if a writer's name is in the title, it generally means he had very little to do with the actual writing of a book -- and the graphic novel was adapted by Chuck Dixon and illustrated by Brett Booth. Once you get to the title page, a "Volume One" floats into view, and a quick flip to the end reveals a "Continues in Prodigal Son Volume Two" burst. And what's it about? Well, the good guys are some cops, and the bad guy is a nasty scientist (I assume) who has created an artificial race of humans. (The lesson of a Frankenstein story is always the same: science is bad.) This part of the story will be published by Ballantine on February 3rd.