Friday, November 29, 2013

Quote of the Week: There Is No...

Nobody wants to hear that you will try your best. It is the wrong thing to say. It is like saying 'I probably won't hit you with a shovel.' Suddenly everyone is afraid you will do the opposite.
  - Lemony Snicket, "When Did You See Her Last?", pp.19-20

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

In Case the "Black" In Your Black Friday Shopping Refers To Ink

There are scads of sales going on over the next few days in North America, but only a few of them are on comics, making those sales even more special than they would normally be.

First off, the fine Montreal publisher Drawn & Quarterly is having a very rare holiday sale -- available both online and in their actual Montreal storefront, for those of you either local or up for an immediate road-trip -- of 40% off everything through Monday, December 2nd. I've already spent my money on Vanessa Davis's Make Me a Woman, Yoshihiro Tatsumi's Fallen Words, and Anders Nilsen's Big Questions (which I reviewed when I read it from the library -- but I think I'm going to want to read it again, since it's that big and impressive).

And what used to be my local comics store -- Manhattan's own Midtown Comics, which is probably the place I still get more comics from than anywhere else -- is also having a big sale, both at their three physical locations and online. All graphic novels are 40% off, and a bunch of other things are "up to" 40% off as well. And everything in the store is 25% off in the store on Friday until noon. I'd tell you what I'm buying there, too, but I'm still assembling my cart. (But, if you do buy from them online, they have free shipping over $75, and they pack as carefully as only a retail-employed comics geek can.) The main sale here seems to continue through next Wednesday, but some categories may just run through "Cyber Monday," so don't delay too long.

Sure, you can get deals on toasters and linens and car parts elsewhere, but are those things as good as comics? Obviously not.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Oddly Specific Denial

I'm reading "When Did You See Her Last?" today, by the author called Lemony Snicket, and it has the following very interesting denial on its copyright page:
The publisher is not responsible for websites (or their content) that are not owned by the publisher.
This is weird for two reasons: first, it should go without saying that any entity is not responsible for things it didn't do. But, if it doesn't go without saying, why is a disclaimer only needed for websites, and not for every other media packet in the world?

Does this therefore imply that Little, Brown is responsible for all of the TV shows, movies, podcasts, radio broadcasts, magazines, newspapers, and books that it doesn't own? And, if not -- which would be a really silly implication, obviously -- why on earth does L,B feel the need to tell us that, for this one category of media, just for our knowledge, they don't control anything they don't control?

I'm sure this, like most legal language, is the remnant of some unpleasant situation in the past that an executive decided to fix forevermore by printing a big notice in all of the L,B books in the future. But that's the boring, staid explanation -- I prefer the more baroque possibilities of what TV Tropes calls the Suspiciously Specific Denial.

(I've probably mentioned this before, but one of my best friends in college had a great example: he would often remark, usually in a reasonable context, that he "had never been convicted of a felony in New York State." I've since used that several times myself, and it usually elicits at least a double take.)

What would it mean if L,B were responsible for everything in the world -- except for those few "websites (or their content) that are not owned by the publisher"?

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 11/23

Here are the books that the hard-working publicists of American book publishing [1] sent me this past week, trying to get me to review them and make the world love these books as much as they do. I haven't read them (yet), but I do want you to know they exist, so here's what I can tell you by looking at them:

Something More Than Night is the fourth novel and first standalone from Ian Tregillis, author of the magnificent Milkweed Triptych, a trilogy of novels about a very alternate and very fantastical WW II (Bitter Seeds, The Coldest War, and Necessary Evil, which are recommended as highly as I possibly can). If you've been waiting for him to be out of the trilogy to try his work, this is your golden opportunity: it's a hardboiled mystery set in Heaven, in which one fallen angel has to solve the murder of the Archangel Gabriel. Something More Than Night is a Tor hardcover, hitting December 3rd, and I expect it will be as brilliant as Tregillis's previous books and I also expect you all to at least look it up. (Though I will be very disapproving if you don't read it.)

Angelopolis is the second in Danielle Trussoni's series about the human-angel hybrids called Nephilim, after the major bestseller Angelology. (And so Trussoni bears the same relationship to the urban fantasy genre as Michael Crichton did to SF: she writes the same sort of thing, but it's considered completely different, because it's never had the grubby genre imprint on it.) By Angelopolis, ten years have passed since the first book, and until the angel-hunter Verlaine once again encounters the mysterious Evangeline. It's a Penguin trade paperback, quite portable for reading on airplane or elsewhere, and will be available on the very last day of this year.

And last for this week is another big fat original anthology from George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, Dangerous Women, which follows their similar books Warriors and Songs of Love and Death. It has twenty-one brand-new stories by some of the best genre writers (and that definition of "genre" is wider than you may think), from Lawrence Block to Cecelia Holland, from Joe Abercrombie to Diana Gabaldon, from Pat Cadian to Lev Grossman, from Sharon Kay Penman to Jim Butcher. But the biggest draw will be the last story, "The Princess and the Queen," a new novella by Martin. This one is a Tor hardcover, and you can find it on December 3rd.

[1] If any hard-working publicists in other industries or of other nations would like to send me free stuff so I can write about it here, please let me know -- I like free stuff and I like excuses to get myself writing more.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 11/16

I review books on the Internet, so people try to send me books. Some of them already have my address, so they just do send them.

Some of those weeks, I get a bunch of books that I may or may not be interested in. Some weeks, there's nothing at all. And some weeks, there's just one perfect book. This is one of the last kind.

This week, the only thing that made it all the way to me is Gene Wolfe's new novel The Land Across, a Tor hardcover that hits stores on November 26th. Wolfe is of course a SFWA Grand Master, of course the author of the phenomenally tricky, intricate, and wonderful "Book of the New Sun" series (and the related, even trickier and perhaps as wonderful sequel serieses about the Long and Short Suns), and of course one of the treasure of American and world literature. He's been writing books for forty years now, nearly all of them worth reading more than once, which is a amazing thing.

(I've reviewed here several of Wolfe's recent novels: Pirate Freedom, An Evil Guest, and The Sorcerer's House.)

This time out, Wolfe has written about a travel writer who journeys to a small, insular European country -- in typical Wolfean fashion, it appears that country remains unnamed -- where things are more unsettled and unsettling than he expected. The description -- full of bureaucracy, corruption, propaganda broadcasts, evil dictators, and femmes fatale -- makes it sound vaguely Cold War-ish, another throwback novel (as An Evil Guest was set in a future world very reminiscent of the 1930s), but Wolfe is dependably convoluted, so that's likely only the starting point.

Again, The Land Across will be available November 26th. It's the new novel by one of the great living writers of the world. You should take a look at it.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Abandoned Books: 50 Popular Beliefs People Think Are True by Guy P. Harrison

I'm a skeptic of long-standing -- I read a pile of James Randi in my mis-spent youth, and had a subscription to the Skeptical Inquirer for at least fifteen years. (I think I finally let it lapse in my personal magazine-pocalypse of the late '90s, when I realized I had more than a year's worth of about five magazines sitting unread and decided I wasn't as much of a magazine reader as I'd thought I was.) So I thought I was exactly the right audience for Harrison's 50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True, a recent publication from Prometheus Books, part of that same upstate New York skeptical nexus with SI and the organization I still think of as CSICOP (though now just CSI for almost a decade).

Harrison's book runs through a whole bunch of popular paranormal, pseudo-scientific, and other beliefs not overly burdened with proof, from Nostradamus and psychics to flying saucers and astrology, from homeopathy and anti-vaccination theories to creationism and the power of prayer, from ghosts and Bigfoot to Atlantis and end-of-the-world prophecies. He gives each theory five or eight pages, in a breezy, journalistic style, and explains why each of them is not, strictly speaking, true.

I read about half of it before I stopped, and I stopped only because Harrison was telling me things I already knew, and telling me them in less detail than I already knew. If Harrison was a flashier writer, or more  aggressive in his investigations, I would have read further, but it's a good basic book by someone trying hard not to alienate an audience of believers in the irrational. I am happy to see that therapeutic touch and "memory water" have been debunked enough that they don't need to be included here, though disappointed that ancient astronauts and the Bermuda Triangle are still going strong in the public mind.

This is an excellent introduction to the skeptical literature, with extensive lists of resources in each chapter and a tone that verges on the conciliatory at times; Harrison bends over backward to be fair to people who believe in stupid, irrational things for no good reason. Even the title bends in that direction: it implies but does not actually say that these beliefs are of note because they're not true.

I didn't need to finish 50 Popular Beliefs myself, but I was thrilled to see that my local library had it, and I hope it circulates widely. It's an excellent handbook of the current catalog of popular irrational beliefs, and, I hope, a signpost on the road to knowledge to many people who ignorantly believe one or more of those things. It's probably a rude gift to give to that astrology-loving friend -- and he might not read it anyway -- but it should do some good in the world, and I'm very happy to see it exists.

Incoming Books: One Whole Week Ago

A week ago today, I drove myself up to Boston for the mighty SIMposium convention, a collection of IT executives the likes of which the world has never seen. Along the way, I stopped for lunch just the Connecticut side of the Massachusetts border, in a place called Traveler Food & Books.

Their schtick -- I've been there once before -- is that every eater can pick up to three free books from the shelves in the dining room to take with them when they leave. (There's also a more conventional bookstore downstairs, with actual prices on the merchandise.) The food is average American roadfood -- sandwiches, burgers, etc.; dependable but not all that notable -- and the books are the usual church jumble-sale conglomeration of what people were reading last year or five years ago or before they retired. There was a lot less ex-library stuff this time around than I expected -- it was mostly books in decent shape. And the selection is obviously, completely random -- it's whatever has been donated or found or scrounged recently, or not taken away since it arrived.

So, I ate lunch, found my obligatory three free books, and then went downstairs to buy two more. (One of the latter was a nice-ish edition of The Big Sleep for my older son; he's currently reading In Cold Blood for school and thought it was great, so I figured I might aim him at some fiction that's not a million miles away.)

For myself, I found:

Soft Water, the first novel by Robert Olmstead, as part of what I guess really is my plan to collect the early years of Vintage Contemporaries. I believe it is essentially a rural thriller, though I imagine the Vintage imprimatur classes that all up a lot.

The Case for Books, a recent "whither publishing?" collection of essays by the professor/executive/writer Robert Darnton. This and the book below look to be untouched, so I suspect they may have come out of the stock of a Borders location.

We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families, Philip Gourevitch's account of the mid-90s genocide in Rwanda. I read Gourevitch's follow-up book, A Cold Case (before this blog, I think, since I can't find any record of it here), and was waiting for him to write another book. (I think he did a book/documentary with Errol Morris about Abu Ghraib, but nothing standalone.) I don't know when/if I will ever actually read this, but it's the kind of book I think I should read, so at least now I have a copy.

And last was a novel called The Ethical Assassin by David Liss, which sounds noir-ish and perhaps Hiaasen-esque in its comic-thriller story of a college student in Florida swept up into the complicated and murderous life of the title character. I don't think I'd heard of ti before, but it looked interesting and was only a couple of bucks.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Remember the Harry Potter Broomsticks?

Yesterday's Sandra On the Rocks comic, which has a joke that I'm sure has been common in some circles for several years -- but it's new to me:
SOTR, by the way, is a companion/shared-world strip with Menage a 3, which you should also be reading. Probably not if you're underage in your jurisdiction or particularly sheltered, though.

(This nearly was posted to my cobweb-encrusted Tumblr, until I remembered I barely post enough to keep this place going, and recently had the good sense to consolidate things here.)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 11/9

This may be the only Antick Musings post for a few days either side -- I'm back home briefly (more than 24 hours, but not by much) in between a week-long family vacation in the Lands of the Mouse and a work conference up in Beantown. So this is my official apology/excuse if I don't manage to post otherwise from Saturday through Thursday.

This particular post is a weekly tradition, going back several years, which makes it pretty venerable for the Internets, where it's not a real week if Google doesn't kill a major service. Since I get books in the mail -- sent to me by publicists, hoping I will read and love and review and recommend those books and that sales will increase -- and since I will never manage to read every one of those books, I make sure to give them all a little attention the week they come in.

These books are as new as ever I'll be able to write about them, and one of them might just be your favorite book of the year. So here's a semi-serious look at those books, based on what I can tell by looking at them quickly.

First up is a ringer: I backed Matt Feazell's The Amazing Cynicalman, Vol. 2 on Indiegogo, and the finished book arrived this week. It collects the weekly Cynicalman strips from various small Michigan papers (Feazell is famously from Hamtramck) from 2008 through nearly the present. Feazell has been writing and drawing his stick-figure stories for more than twenty years now -- originally, and still occasionally, as traditional mini-comics, and in many other formats since them -- and his world is much sunnier and more interesting than you'd expect from a twenty-year run about a guy called "Cynicalman." There have been three other collections of Cynicalman stories before this, in various formats and from various publishers, though they're all hard to find now. But this one will be available soon from Feazell's website, and it's as good a place to start as anywhere.

Laddertop Books 1 - 2 collects the first two volumes -- though I can't find any indication that the second volume was actually published as a separate book -- of a newish manga-influenced graphic novel about plucky kids competing to maintain the mysterious technology at the top of a group of alien beanstalks on a near-future Earth. (Apparently the technology in question couldn't be accessed by either adult humans or remote robots, because shut up, that's why.) Laddertop is credited with a story by Orson Scott Card, his daughter Emily Janice Card, with Zina Margaret Card and art by Honoel A. Ibardolaza. It does not credit an actual script at any point, so I assume that the Cards had the idea and Ibardolaza did all of the hard work of turning it into an actual book. This is space adventure that's manga-ish while still reading left-to-right and being tuned for American sensibilities, which may be appealing. And it's a Tor/Seven Seas trade paperback, which went on sales November 5th.

Fiddlehead is also a Tor trade paperback, but that's about all it has in common with Laddertop. It's steampunk rather than traditional SF, a novel with no pictures, and entirely the work of one person: Cherie Priest. It's the fifth (and reportedly the last) book in Priest's loose "Clockwork Century" series, and, this time out, a brilliant inventor has to convince ex-President Lincoln to stop the Civil War to save the world from a threat his calculating engine has uncovered, and then a female Pinkerton and ex-Confederate spy has to stop the secret forces trying to destroy that inventor. It hits stores tomorrow.

Child of Vengeance is something else again: a historical novel set in 17th-century Japan, retelling the story of the life of the legendary swordsman Musashi Miyamoto. It appears to be the first novel of David Kirk, a student of samurai movies and a teacher of English in Japan, and may lead into a series. It's a trade paperback from Anchor, and will be available on December 3.

The second novel in Gilliam Philip's Rebel Angels series is Bloodstone, continuing the intertwined stories of medieval Scotland and the otherworldly realm of the Sithe. It's a Tor hardcover in November -- and, if you're looking for the first book, that's called Firebrand.

And last for this week is Johnny Hiro: The Skills to Pay the Bills, the second graphic novel about the titular young slacker in New York (call him the Asian Scott Pilgrim, and you're not far off), his lovely girlfriend, his tough boss, and the various supernatural oddities that keep complicating his life. Like the first book -- which was titled just Johnny Hiro when I reviewed it, but turned into Half-Asian, All Hero in its most recent edition -- all of the stories here are by Fred Chao. I liked the first book a lot -- it had verve and energy and a light touch, all good things -- so I'm very happy o see more adventures of this Hiro.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

The Stinking by Darby Conley

The Stinking is the sixth "treasury-sized" -- the album-sized softback with three dailies or one Sunday per page, re-collecting the strips that previously appeared in two smaller books -- collection of Conley's Get Fuzzy comic strip, including about three years of strips.

I reviewed the fifth such treasury, Treasury of the Lost Litter Box, about three years ago, and I find that I don't have much more to say about this next book now. It's still the same kind of strip it was then, with the same strengths (well-defined cast, a willingness to be obscure in pursuit of a good joke, long sequences that mutate and proliferate) and weaknesses (narrow premise and occasionally claustrophobic setting).

And I still think that if you like strip cartoons, you need to buy strip cartoon books somewhat regularly, so your revenue stream helps them continue to exist. (Whether you think the best mechanism for that is the fine publishing house of Andrews & McMeel and some corporate book purveyor is a more loaded question; there are definitely other mechanisms to push money towards comics creators these days -- but the point is to find one you like and use it, semi-regularly, to keep the things you enjoy going.)

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest Book, introduced by Robert Mankoff

Once upon a time there was a magazine called The New Yorker.

When The New Yorker ran a cartoon, it was a New Yorker Cartoon.

And under that cartoon was a group of words, a New Yorker Cartoon Caption.

After seventy-odd years of publishing cartoons with captions all written by the cartoonist, one plucky editor decided to run a cartoon without a caption, and ask New Yorker readers to come up with plausible captions for that cartoon and then vote on the best choice. And that was the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest.

After five years of annual New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contests, they suddenly began appearing in every weekly issue. And then, after two years, there were enough to form a stack of paper large enough to bind.

And that, dear children, is how The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest Book came to be.

Each contest takes up two pages. On the first is the cartoon, with a line beneath it signifying the missing caption and a box of commonly-occurring words and phrases in the set of caption entries -- as if there were trying to SEO-ize their own cartoons.

On the second page is the cartoon bedecked with winning caption, the two losers, and two other captions the editors liked almost well enough to be finalists at the time. Alongside those bits of copy, there's a pie chart illustrating the caption voting, and, sometimes, a short remembrance by a winner or finalist about how the Cartoon Caption Contest changed their lives forever.

Up front is an introduction by New Yorker cartoon editor Mankoff, which explains the concept and history somewhat less flippantly than I've just done.

And that's what you have here: a bunch of crowd-sourced New Yorker cartoons, festooned with data and thoughts about the process. It's a particularly interesting book for those who worry about using exactly the right word or phrase -- seeing the same cartoon with several different captions clearly illustrates what Twain called the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.

(Full disclosure: I've entered this contest a number of time -- not all that regularly, I admit -- and never been a finalist, proving something or other.)

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

The Best of the Rejection Collection edited by Matthew Diffee

The New Yorker runs cartoons -- it always was one of the top markets for single-panels, but now it stands pretty much alone (though you could make a case for Playboy) as the best market left. And The New Yorker rejects several hundred cartoons for every one they publish -- including a hundred or so by people you or I would consider prime "New Yorker cartoonists." And that means there's a lot of New Yorker-style cartoons that the New Yorker didn't buy, and that are pretty much unfit for any other use.

Matthew Diffee is a cartoonist whose work regularly appears in the New Yorker, and he deplored this situation -- so, in 2006, he convinced thirty of his fellow cartoonists to submit the best of their rejected cartoons, and a publishing company to issue them all as The Rejection Collection. It was not a book of New Yorker cartoons, of course -- every single cartoon failed to be published in the New Yorker -- but it was very much like a New Yorker collection. A year later, there was the inevitable sequel, The Rejection Collection 2.

The Best of the Rejection Collection collects bits of both of those books, and possibly a bit of new material, into what the subtitle of RC2 called "the cream of the crap." Diffee is still editing, and this time he adds an introduction anatomizing the various ways that these cartoons fail to be New Yorker-worthy -- too sexy, too dumb, too nasty, too weird, too silly, too hackneyed.

If you have the first two books, you don't need this one: it's basically the same material. If you don't have those books, and like the New Yorker style but wish it could loosen up a bit, this is exactly the book for you. If you can't stand New Yorker cartoons, you might find this amusing, but probably not hugely enjoy it. If you've never heard of the New Yorker...why did you read this far to begin with?

Monday, November 04, 2013

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 11/2

I do this every week, and I've long since run out of cutesy ways to talk about it: here are a bunch of books that arrived at my house last week, sent by their publishers, which are coming out Really Soon or Right Now. I haven't read any of them yet, but here's what looks interesting and/or amusing about them right at this second:

21st Century Science Fiction is a major new reprint anthology edited by the powerhouse team of David G. Hartwell and Patrick Nielsen Hayden, who have a pretty strong claim to be the preeminent SF book editors of their respective generations. It contains thirty-four stories originally published between 2003 and 2011, by some of the best writers working, including Neal Asher, Kage Baker, Tony Ballantyne, Elizabeth Bear, Mary Robinette Kowal, Ken Liu, Hannu Rajaniemi, John Scalzi, Karl Schroeder, Jo Walton, Peter Watts, and Liz Williams. It's a doorstop that attempt to show what SF is right now -- or, at least, some of the best things that SF is and has been over the past decade. It's a Tor hardcover, officially on-sale on November 5th.

Also in hardcover from Tor this month is the finale of Beth Bernobich's "River of Souls" trilogy, Allegiance. From the description, I gather this is a sexy fantasy -- comparisons to Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel series, references to "an exotic world where politics and sex go hand in hand," and the word "passion" used prominently -- in a non-traditional epic fantasy setting. If that sounds intriguing, the first book in the series was Passion Play, which is conveniently available in various inexpensive formats right now.

Robert Charles Wilson, who doesn't get as much attention as this thoughtful, smart novels deserve, also has a new book from Tor this month: Burning Paradise, a new big-idea SF novel set in an alternate 2015 where peace and prosperity has reigned since the end of The Great War...because an alien entity, for its own reasons, has bent humanity in the direction of peace and tranquility. As you might expect, at the core of the book is a young person who knows that secret, is in danger, and (I expect) will be instrumental in changing things.

Tor will also publish To Dance with the Devil by Cat Adams in November as a trade paperback. This is the seventh book in the urban fantasy series about Celia Graves: part vampire, part Siren, all bodyguard. And she's in deep trouble in this book, with rival families of magic-users threatening her and what looks like a kidnapping early in the book.

Last for this week is a graphic novel, The Werewolf of New York, by Batton Lash. It's the latest adventure of his series characters, Wolff & Byrd, whose adventures as lawyers to the supernatural (usually under the title Supernatural Law) have been running for more than thirty years in various places -- most recently as a webcomic. This book collects a recent story arc about -- yes, you guessed it! -- a werewolf, and the book itself was published with help from the Kickstarter platform. I've read various Supernatural Law stories over the years -- I had a long run of the '90s comics version of it before my flood in '11 -- and they're always interesting and entertaining, particularly to those with a legal frame of mind. Werewolf of New York is available right now from Exhibit A Press.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

How to Avoid Huge Ships and Other Implausibly Titled Books, compiled by Joel Rickett

The world's most sublime literary award, the Diagram Group Prize, has been given to the book with the oddest title for several decades, growing out of what must have been an alcohol-fueled long lunch at a Frankfurt Book Fair back in the late '70s.

The award has puttered along for more than thirty years -- this book was published in the UK, the home of the Prize (and its instigating publication The Bookseller) in 2008 to mark that thirtieth anniversary -- as its selection mechanism, like so many other British things, meandered from something mysterious done by unknown insiders to a basically democratic vote by everyone with an interest in the field.

That's all vaguely interesting, but what makes this book fun is that it collects a lot of winners and finalists, covers and all, each with a quick line to explain just what kind of book it was. From Versailles: the View from Sweden to Knitting with Dog Hair, from The Sexual Politics of Meat to Highlights in the History of Concrete, from How Green Were the Nazis? to the sublime Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers, this slim book is chock-full of odd things that someone thought worth publishing.

So How to Avoid Huge Ships and Other Implausibly Titled Books is amusing for everyone and possibly a great pick-me-up for would-be authors; if these guys could make it, there's hope for everyone.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

A Horrible Experience of Unbearable Length by Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert, is, of course, the best-known movie critic of the past three decades -- which may sound like damning with faint praise, but he always had the essential virtues of a newspaperman: he was precise with facts and entertaining with rhetoric and on time with copy. So his work was always fun to read, and perhaps most so when he was vituperating about bad movies, or just mediocre ones that he hated.

His bad reviews have been collected into two prior books, I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie and Your Movie Sucks (the latter of which I reviewed), and A Horrible Experience of Unbearable Length is the third in the series, collecting his two-star or fewer reviews from 2006 through 2011.

It's not a book to read straight through, certainly, but it's a wonderful book to pick up and read in pieces over a period of time, full of lovely invective and imaginative descriptions of lousiness and utter raging anger at the massive wastes of time and talent these movies represent. And there are event some thoughtful pieces about movies that don't quite work, or that have one aspect that ruins them, or otherwise are flawed and not really good, but still interesting. Ebert was a smart man who loved movies and could communicate both in the language of movies and the street-level English of a daily tabloid, which is a great gift and not to be taken lightly.

He's already missed, but at least we still have what he wrote. And how can you resist a book with the subtitle "More Movies That Suck?"