Friday, April 24, 2009

How much is that memoir in the window.

Today I'm attending a writers conference in New York.

While the sessions on being a better freelancer and who to contact and how to present yourself and the rest have been really interesting and informative I'm going to admit that my big fixation has been the member bookstore.

See, if you are a member of the organization you can make arrangements to have your book on display and sold in the onsite bookstore. And let me tell you, it's a nonfiction writing lover's dream back there.

So far I've not bought anything...but as the day goes on my resolve is weakening. My best hope is that they close up shop very soon. Or issue some kind of restraining order on me.

I know that seems kind of extreme but, so help me, the books are really good and...you know...they all need homes.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Say it ain't so Joe...

Well, well, well Mr. Shuster.

Writer Craig Yoe's new book, Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman's Co-Creator Joe Shuster, started when Yoe picked up a copy of the pulpy 16-issue Nights of Horror at a rare book sale.

Back in the day, which would be the mid-1950s, Nights of Horror was one of many comic-illustrated books and magazines that were giving the "what about the children" crowd fits (1).

That's funny is that, until Yoe conducted his research and had his theory confirmed by other comic experts no one had attributed the work to Shuster.

But really, I mean...look at that. It's Superman, right?

What's ironic is that this drawing hides Shuster's identity as well as Clark Kent's glasses hid his. Glasses on...bumbling reporter for a major metropolitan newspaper. Glasses off...Superman.

Shirt on...Superman. Shirt off, strapped to a table being whipped by a very Lois Lane looking woman in a teddy...random guy drawn by an anonymous artist.

Shazam.

1. If you've never had a chance to read about the comic book burnings and arrests that took place in the name of saving the moral fiber of the future, pick up a copy of The Ten Cent Plague: The Great Comic Book Scare and How It Changed America by David Hadju (2).
2. Or, I guess you could pick up Yoe's book. Or both. There's always room for one more, right?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Les Tweets dangereuses

As is often the case with technology, I am way, way behind the curve with the whole Twitter thing.

I don't get it. I don't know it. I don't understand what all the fuss is about. I don't need to know where you are right now or where you're going in 10 minutes or what really funny thing just happened while you were on the subway.

Or, not in real time anyway.

If you post it to your blog though? Then I'm all over whatever minutia you want to throw my way. Funny dental adventures. The new flavor of Jell-O you discovered.

Pretty much anything. I'll read it. I can't really explain why except to say it feels, to me at least, like the difference between reading the book and watching the movie.

Or, it, until I read about James Bridle's self-published book My Life in Tweets. What's funny is that the first thing that I thought of was Pierre Choderlos novel Les Liaisons dangereuses, a book I didn't actually read until I was forced to in graduate school (1).

This is not to say that Bridle's book is full of deception and the deflowering and despoiling of young innocents...but the concept. If you've not actually read it yourself, Choderlos told his story by having the characters write letters to one another. The "I have a literature degree (2)" way of saying it is that it's an epistolary novel.

What Bridle and all those Twitter-smiths out there are doing is pretty much the same thing. Only with their own lives.

I'm going to give Bridle some extra points though...because his take is pretty darn easy on the eyes (3). And didn't require my learning Twitter.

Yet.

1. Yeah, I'm talking about the book...not trying to be all pretentious about having watched the movie.
2. Or literature adjacent...or "I read the Wikipedia entry on this book"...

3. Seriously. You really need to have a look. I have no idea what the cover is all about which, actually, makes me love it more.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Rail Staker

Seth Grahame-Smith, the man who unleashed Jane Austen's zombies on the world, has a new book in the works. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer.

Seems the Great Emancipator was a foe of both slavery (1) and the undead.

And while most of the attention is being paid to Honest Abe I'm more excited to see what Grahame-Smith does with Mary Todd. After all, Mary Todd was big into communing with spirits and the occult. Maybe she could star in a sequel of her own.

Mary Todd Lincoln: Ghost Whisperer. It's a story that begs to be told.

Here that publishing world? A sequel. THAT. BEGS. TO. BE. TOLD (2).

1. Kinda, sorta...but ultimately yes.
2. Perhaps by someone soon to have a good deal of time on his hands.

Monday, April 20, 2009

There's something about Annie...

What is it about orphans?

What is it about orphans that makes them so darn attractive to storytellers? Annie, Superman, Moses, a good percentage of the members of the Disney mythology...all orphans or orphaned individuals.

Is it because it cuts the anchor lines and makes adventure and good fortune possible?

Is it something deep seated and psychological on the part of the authors behind these fictitious cases of matri- and patricide?

I am reminded of my mother's response to a friend at my grandmother's funeral. My grandfather had died years before and this well meaning individual walked up to my mother and asked, with that serious "we're-at-a-funeral" face that people wear and said, "How are you doing?"

My mother paused, looked at her friend and replied, "Pretty good...for an orphan."

Sunday, April 19, 2009

And now for something completely different...

Congress has put away the beer pong table and packed their Margaritaville trucker caps and are heading back to DC ready to spend those gift certificates they won in the wet t-shirt contest.

That's right, spring break is over and it's time to get back to all that non-partisan work they promised to do during those heady good ole' days of the last election. You know. All that non-partisan work (1).

Among the legislation to be considered is a vote in Congress for the residents of the District of Columbia.

For the most part, this has been one of those fights that's been important only to the people in the District. Folks in Colorado and Idaho and Michigan don't really so much care one way or the other. Or, if they did care, it's because of some of the misunderstandings that exist about what it is to be a DC resident.

Like that the federal government subsidizes city operations and we don't pay income tax and we make out like bandits by having all of those government buildings paying property taxes. Which, if any of these things were true, I wouldn't want us to have a vote either. But they're not so...that's a problem.

But, you ask, what's one vote in Congress really going to do?

Well, it's going to hopefully cause some of the legislative squatters on the Hill to stop trying to moonlight as DC City Council members.

Take that vote in Congress. Some conservative Republicans have tied that vote to the elimination of most of our gun laws. Because, as they will trumpet proudly in their mid-term ads, they want to preserve my second amendment rights.

Uh. Thanks.

Except, that I would like people to be arrested for having unregistered weapons...or at least have those weapons taken away until they are registered or we find out why they weren't registered in the first place.

I don't really understand why we need semi-automatic weapons in our nation's capital. Yes, I know, there's a really great line of reasoning being used to demonstrate how there's no significant difference in the kill power of a regular gun and a semi-automatic (2) but that little factoid just makes me ask again, "Ok, then why do you need it?"

A local journalist/pundit who I rarely agree with has suggested that - should the legislation pass - we start encouraging gun shops to open on the section of Pennsylvania Avenue across from the Capitol building and Congressional office buildings (3).

Knowing that that will never happen I will just continue to believe what I have long believed. If you want to make laws that affect the lives of the citizens of the District of Columbia, then move here. Actually move here. Move your family here and put them in our public schools. Buy a house in some of the neighborhoods where we actually live.

Ride the METRO at 11:30pm and then walk 6 or 10 blocks or wait for a bus to come and get you from the Potomac Avenue Metro Station.

Run for ANC and City Council and run on all the laws and legislation you'd like to see passed in the District. Tell us how you'll give us guns and outlaw same sex marriage (4) and draw funds away from an ailing public school system for a voucher program (5). Oh, I'm sorry.

School choice program.

Instead though, I think I'm going to be left sitting here and savoring the irony. Congress would like us to be able to choose what schools our children go to, but not the officials who make the laws that govern our daily lives.

1. Right. These people can't even agree on the same take-out during long sessions. I'm serious. There are actually side notes on our local NPR news station where they tell us, "The Republicans had Chinese food brought in while the Democrats had Italian." Don't they know there's an economic crisis? Why isn't anyone packing a lunch?
2. Well, phew!
3.
I think that's genius.
4. Yeah, they tried that too.
5. Which they did and, while I agree with it in theory, maybe ponying up and actually fully-funding that little educational experiment would have been nice. You know, instead of having me pay for it.