Nov 26, 2009

Clint Dempsey Scores Two

Happy Thanksgiving, Clint--the first one's a tap-in but man, the turn on the second was something else. Watch this:


Original Video - More videos at TinyPic

Nov 24, 2009

The One Word That Checkmates Intelligent Design

Is...

Before I get to that (you probably already know what it is), some random notes of literary and/or scientific interest:

Flannery O'Connor's Complete Stories wins the National Book Award of National Book Awards (sort of the way Rushdie's Midnight's Children won the Booker of Bookers a few years back).

In a development whose irony he himself would have appreciated, profanity filters screen out the surname of a certain Philip K.

Evidence mounts for the existence of a large ocean in Mars' past.

Scrotum. That's the word...or is it? Maybe not, suggests an article in Scientific American. Does this mean we have to take ID seriously, now that the scrotum makes sense?

Nah.

Nov 22, 2009

Daredevil Noir Premiere Hardcover

Amazon still says it's not out yet, but well-informed sources indicate otherwise.



That Dennis Calero cover is purty, isn't it? And Tomm Coker's interior art (of which you can see samples here, among other places) is beautiful. Hie ye to your Local Comic Shop and check it out.

Nov 18, 2009

If France Plays Algeria in the World Cup...

Because of this abominable series of actions (on Thierry Henry's part) and inactions (on the part of the officiating crew who missed two handballs and a clear offsides), France is in the World Cup.



Because of their gutty playoff win against Egypt in Egypt's favored neutral site in the Sudan, Algeria is in the World Cup too.



What if they play each other? Wars, massacres, the legacy of colonialism, repression, current racial tensions in France's larger cities, the ghosts of Algerian-born French players from Zidane all the way back to Villaplane...all of it adds up to what would be maybe the most politically fraught World Cup matchup in the history of the tournament. Other contenders would be West Germany's 1-0 loss to East Germany in 1974, Argentina-England in '86...I'm sure there are plenty of others from the Cold War era that I'm not coming up with off the top of my head. For homerish reasons I should probably also mention US-Iran in 1998, but the memories of that one still rankle. So pretend I didn't mention it.

Part of me hopes that FIFA, which is commonly assumed to rig its World Cup group assignments, makes this match happen. Mostly because I want France to go down in flaming humiliation after the way they got to the Cup.

2010: Anno Iron Man (For Me, Anyway)

In this upcoming World Cup year, I have (in addition to a bunch of other stuff including D&D and Transformers novels, as well as original stories) three Iron Man projects coming out. First comes Iron Man: Virus, coming at the end of January:

In the clear blue skies above Long Island, two airplanes collide. Tony Stark watches the scene in horror and wishes he had the technology that is almost within his reach—a new hyperintelligent instant control system that could have given the aircraft advance warning. But Stark, an obsessive, increasingly troubled recluse, doesn’t know that his invention has been compromised.

In fact, the collision was a carefully crafted hit on Madame Hydra, the final stage in Arnim Zola’s plan to seize control of HYDRA and get rid of Iron Man once and for all. The cunning adversary has already infiltrated Stark Industries security to develop a version of the instant control mechanism that will take over the armored suit and turn it against Stark and S.H.I.E.L.D. While Tony races to track down the source of the intrusion, Zola unleashes direly ingenious computer viruses and the ultimate secret weapon: a murderous clone army based on Stark’s most trusted friend. A puppet master of self-replicating terror, Zola is plunging a city into a war that threatens to consume all in its wake.

After that, there's the novelization of Iron Man 2, which will appear around the time the movie comes out (which is supposed to be May 7; it's going to be cool, and you can see various clips and trailers here). I'm just putting the finishing touches on that now.

Also, beginning (I think) in the fall, comes a third project--this one a comic that I'm not supposed to say much about yet. But it's going to be sweet. I just started seeing some art. More as I can tell it...

Nov 17, 2009

Soccer Players and Totalitarianism

For a while I was convinced that the story of Joe Gaetjens, who scored the only goal in the US' famous 1-0 victory over England at the 1950 World Cup and then later died at the hands of Papa Doc Duvalier and/or the Tonton Macoutes, was just about the most interesting soccer biography around.

But this Guardian remembrance of Algerian (pied noir?) French soccer pioneer-turned-savage Nazi collaborator is really something else. Meet Alex Villaplane.

Batman: Inferno Audiobook

I haven't listened to the whole thing yet, but this audio version of Batman: Inferno is a blast so far. Makes the commute fly by; if you don't believe me, listen to a sample. (Also kind of makes me want to write other Batman stuff, especially if I get to play with the Joker again...)

Nov 16, 2009

Cormac McCarthy's Understanding of Short Fiction Is Kind of Different Than Mine

In this conversation with the Wall Street Journal (mostly about the upcoming movie based on his novel The Road*), Cormac McCarthy says, "I'm not interested in writing short stories. Anything that doesn't take years of your life and drive you to suicide hardly seems worth doing."

I don't know about you, but I read that part and immediately thought about all of the short stories I've worked on over years of my life, and by which I have been driven to (if not suicide) maddened distraction. And then I thought, Yeesh. McCarthy, you don't know nothing about short stories.

The Road is a fine, fine book, though. I'm not sure I want to see the movie because I fear that all of the greatness of the book might be invisible to film as a medium.

*But he also talks about being the 76-year-old-father of an 11-year-old son, which made me think that he should be reading Marilynne Robinson's Gilead, if he hasn't already.

Nov 13, 2009

Tie-In Fiction, Orphaned Books, Sick Prisoners, Etc.

Over at Jeff VanderMeer's Ecstatic Days, there was an interesting conversation about genre and tie-in fiction. As someone who has written quite a bit of both, I found the points raised both familiar and interesting all over again. Here's one, about the number of prominent writers of original stuff who have also worked in tie-ins:
I guess what a lot of readers don’t know is that high-profile authors of original fiction have written tie-in work in the past. Christopher Priest (of The Prestige fame) wrote a tie-in novel to accompany the David Cronenberg movie eXistenZ. World Fantasy Award winner Robert Holdstock has written tie-in fiction. James Blish novelised Star Trek. Jack Yeovil was a pseudonym of Kim Newman, who wrote many well-received Warhammer books. The list goes on...

I would add Liz Hand, Brian Evenson, Tod Goldberg (and VanderMeer himself)... And, of course, me. Evenson and Goldberg are of particular interest, perhaps, since they come from a more literary background. Could tie-in fiction be achieving a sort of respectability, at least as a valid place for respectable writers to go play? Developing...

More publishing self-reflection from Jeff Rivera at GalleyCat in this post about orphaned books. My first novel, A Scattering of Jades, was orphaned twice at Tor. Looking back on it, I think this had quite an effect on the next several years of my career as a novelist.

In other news, "Prison health care costs rise as inmates get older and sicker." This, you will perhaps recall, is one of the cost pressures that got people thinking about life-term buyouts in a recent novel...like Stan Robinson said the other day in the Guardian (and others have said before him), we're living science fiction right now. It'll be interesting to see how that affects the genre itself. (Although it could be argued that any culture that survives into a future imagined by an earlier generation of that culture is, in a sense, living science fiction. So from that perspective the idea of "living science fiction" is kind of obvious and meaningless insofar as it basically means "existing for more than a couple of generations beyond the invention of a literature interested in technological progress and influence." That's an argument for another time.)

Speaking of Stan Robinson, I'm dying to read Galileo's Dream.

Nov 10, 2009

Thus I Thwart the Gods of Irony

I walk to the computer store intending to buy new headphones. I pause outside the door of the computer store, certain that if I buy new headphones I will immediately find my old headphones. I walk away from the computer store, putting my hand in my coat pocket. In my coat pocket I discover my headphones. True story.

Nov 9, 2009

Big Fire from Small Meteor

Apparently the meteor that caused this bolide was only the size of a tricycle. Kind of amazing that five cameras just happened to be pointing at that part of the sky...

Nov 4, 2009

My Public School Gay Sex Indoctrination

One of the primary reasons given for their opposition to marriage equality by the 53% of the Maine electorate who voted yes on Question 1 yesterday was the boogeyman of gay marriage being taught in school as part of a larger effort on the part of those conniving 'mos to indoctrinate our innocent offspring. This is of course despicable fearmongering, but it also got me thinking about an event that took place waaayyy back in the misty fall of 1981, when even Liberace was still pretending to be straight.

I was in my 8th-grade algebra class at West Middle School in Ypsilanti, Michigan, where between intense Rubik's Cube competitions with Calin Pintilie I was reading a book called Bored of the Rings, a deliciously vulgar little spoof on Tolkien's masterpiece done by the editors and cronies of the Harvard Lampoon (whose magazine we all used to covet for its inevitable topless shot somewhere toward the back).

The main character of the early part of Bored of the Rings is none other than Dildo Bugger. One day after lunch (algebra happened after lunch) I was reading a funny bit from the book to my algebra teacher, a witty but mercurial Vietnam vet we'll call Mr. G. Another student was in the room, I forget who, and he laughed at one point when I said Dildo's name. I stopped because I didn't get the joke. Mr. G looked at me and said, "Do you know what his name means?"

I said no.

Mr. G explained what a dildo was, first noting women's uses for them and then adding, "and gay men like to stick them in their boodie holes." (This was how we spelled 'booty' in Ypsi then.)

Huh, I thought. People do that?

And then I forgot all about it, because Bored of the Rings was funny as hell to my nerdy 12-year-old self and that was far from the best joke in it. (My favorite, I think, is either the footnote in which it is asserted that a great historical deed was done by "either King Arglebargle IV or somebody else" or the character of Tim Benzedrine.)

I see now, of course, that not only the National Lampoon, but Harvard University itself--and of course Mr. G and the entire teaching profession--were trying to indoctrinate me, nay bamboozle me, nay seduce me on the spot!

It's a miracle I survived.

Or did I? Twenty-eight years later, I have become that thing most devoutly to be feared...a teacher.

Nov 3, 2009

Txtmsgsp33k and 50s Poetry

See, what I'm wondering is how come people are reinventing the language for the channels of SMS and Twitter when all you need to do is look at the correspondence between, say, Olson and Creeley to note that a perfect shorthand was already there? I will always prefer 'yr' to 'ur.' Just saying.