Friday, April 29, 2005

Best Character Award

Attention committee members for the Hugo, Nebula, and all literary awards! I have a suggestion for a new set of categories:

Best Character.
Fact: The most important components of any story are the characters. The cleverest idea in the coolest setting can wow the reader, but only stories with great characters can attain classic status. Let's establish an award to recognize the Molly Millions, the Professor Snapes, the Paul Atreides, the Feyd Rautha Harkonnens, the Gandalfs, the Sarumans, the Enders, the Hiro Protagonists, the Ravens, the Y.T.'s, the Leggy Starlitzes, the Geds, the Hamlets, the Iagos, the Prosperos, the Victor Frankensteins, the Dorian Grays, the Captain Nemos, the Sherlock Holmes, the Shrikes, the Dirk Moonfires ;), the Tom Sawyers, the Ahabs, the Jack Aubreys, the Robbie the Robots, the Zaphod Beeblebroxes, the Rob-from-High-Fidelity's, the Jack Shaftoes, etc. -- the great, memorable characters of literature. Hopefully, it will even inspire authors to create more of these great inhabitants of their stories.

I think there would need to be 4 new categories implemented:
"Best Major Character in a novel length work (published stories of 45,000+ words)"
"Best Minor Character in a novel length work (published stories of 45,000+ words)"
"Best Major Character in a short work (published stories of fewer than 45,000 words)"
"Best Minor Character in a short work (published stories of fewer than 45,000 words)"

Sure, characters from the winners of the "Best Novel", "Best Novelette", "Best Short Story", etc. categories would often win these categories, but what's the harm in that? There would also be those occasions when a really great character from a runner-up - or even from an otherwise un-nominated book - could be recognized.

I'm serious about this. Let's get a movement started - let's get this into the ballots at at least a few of the major literary awards. What do you think?

( I know what Leggy Starlitz would answer: "Yes. No. Maybe.")

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Low Art Medium: comics

I'm not much of a comic book reader.
I enjoy them with my son, who most-often refers to himself as Spider-Man (and to me as Captain America), but I'm not one of those guys with stacks and stacks and boxes full of comics. From ages 10 to about 13, I was really into TSR's Marvel Superheroes RPG, and during that time I read quite a few Marvel titles - even subscribed to Fantastic Four and Strikeforce: Morituri, but it was a pretty brief phase. Since my comic-reading phase was brief (1984-1987), and dedicated mostly to Marvel (I have no logical explanation as to why I'd have excluded DC, or any other publishers), I missed out on Sandman and Spawn and other classics of the medium that would follow.
Jeff Grubb's half-assed Marvel RPG system had its flaws and its good points; I had a lot of fun with it as a kid. Though I long ago stopped playing the game and reading the books, I always found the histories and the characters in the widely-developed Marvel Universe to be cool stuff, and remembered them well enough to answer my kids' questions. Though my interest quickly waned, my fondness for the superhero genre never really disappeared; I was, and am, always willing to embrace quality books and films based on the best characters and settings. I'm just not as willing as others to wade through the scores of cheaply-written, cheaply-produced, churned-out, juvenile kid-fodder that dominates this medium, just to find the occasional quality series.
I think the comic is a valid story-telling medium, capable of achieving any literary goal, no matter how lofty. I'd definitely like to helm a series of my own... Just give me a good artist - I've written a few comic scripts; I know the mechanics...
But anyway - - - the point of this overlong post is to endorse the handful of comic titles that I've read that have really blown me away. Here they are, in no particular order:

The Watchmen. It's the smartest, most painstakingly crafted piece of comic fiction I've ever read.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. I didn't read the sequel... the original is brilliant. Tim Burton's 2 Batman films were very good, but disappointing, because they couldn't live up to this book. Someone ought to do as meticulous a comic-to-film-translation for this as Robert Rodriguez' Sin City is said to be.
Frank Miller's Elektra miniseries. It's been many years, but I remember this being a really amazing series, with the demon that stank of curdled milk. Great, unique look and dark feel.
Spider-Man vs. Wolverine one-shot. This was released in the mid-80s and much of the action takes place in a Wall-divided Berlin. It completely blew me away as a kid - and still holds up to my more critical eye, almost 20 years later. I never looked at Spider-Man the same after reading this book.

That's it; that's my list.

It seems that J. Michael Straczynski is doing some good, mature stuff with Amazing Spider-Man these days; I've read a few issues. Bravo for incorporating Anansi, the Spider God into Spider-Man books! I've heard raves about Lone Wolf and Cub, V is for Vendetta, Sin City, to name a few others, but never read any of them. Someday...
Phew - there you have it - my take on the comic medium.

Monday, April 25, 2005

CGP newsletter

Go ahead and sign up for the newsletter. Don't worry, the folks at Creative Guy Publishing won't fill up your inbox with heaps of crap.

-To receive the bimonthly (at most) newsletter on events and happenings at CGP or Liaison Press, simply send an email to: newsletter-subscribe "at" To unsubscribe, send an email to newsletter-unsubscribe "at" Note to spam types this mailing list does not allow any posting except from the adminstrator.-

Sunday, April 24, 2005

State of the Blog.

OK, a quick reiteration of the definition of this blog... (this is actually going to be a semi-frivolous post decrying frivolous blog-posting).

When you're done wasting this minute of your life reading this post - click that "NEXT BLOG" button up in the top right and waste another few minutes. Channel surf through a few, if you feel up to it. You'll find: shady-business blogs (with titles like "betting races viagra vioxx cialis weight loss"), diary blogs ("today i went into circle k for a 99 cent hot dog and why don't they make sauerkraut in little packets like ketchup and mayo? and this old lady called me a growing young man but i'm 31, how many more times will i be called a young man by a stranger? and..."), utterly pointless blogs (wanna give a shoutout to all my p33ps at da Basement! Ho11a Sluggo, Murph, Grump, Shotgun Bob - c ya all at Dunkins lates!!!), empty political rantings, ("The goddamned liberals/Bush administration are ruining this country!"), and long sequences of posts of the blogger and his/her friends mugging for their digital camera. After about 30 of these, you may find someone with something interesting to say, but at that point, your brain is already jellified.

So - I bear all of that in mind when I decide what to post here, and try not to fall into any of those pitfalls.

The point of this blog:
I'm a writer, not a blogger (dammit, Jim). I post to generate interest in my work - and also in the occasional book, song, artist, movie, etc. that I thinks needs my public declaration of respect. If I had no writing career to promote (shaddap wiseasses), these posts wouldn't then be full of useless rambles or rants ---- no, this blog just wouldn't exist.

However, it does exist, and I hope you're entertained and/or inspired by your visit here. I especially hope it leads you to read my stuff - or at least to check out my recommendations.

A final bit of news - I didn't know until 2 days ago that only Blogger members could add comments to the posts here. I've since rectified this - all are welcome and enabled now to give feedback.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Smoking Mirror Blues

My review of Ernest Hogan's excellent underground novel, "Smoking Mirror Blues", is up at I realize now that I kinda made it seem like he's this hotshot young writer - the guy actually had quite a few notable novel and short story publications before SMB came out in 2001. I still stand by my statement though that Ernest Hogan is a writer to watch.

1. Click the link.
2. Read my review.
3. Get Smoking Mirror Blues and give it a read.

Friday, April 22, 2005

The Hobbit

My review of The Hobbit (yes, the Rankin/Bass animated telefilm from the 70s) is up at

Go have a look:

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

LepreCons in Arizona

Hey, I'll be on a few panels at this year's LepreCon science fiction convention in Carefree, AZ. There won't be any author's readings during convention hours, but I plan to do one Saturday night at ConSuite, if I can drum up enough interest.
I'll have cool Creative Guy Publishing CD business cards to give away, plus a select few print copies of the Amityville House of Pancakes, vol 1 and Funnybones anthologies.
Kevin J. Anderson, Dave Dorman, Ernest and Emily Hogan, the guys from the Dragon Page radio show -- lots of interesting guests this year. Come on by!!

Yes, I already posted about this once before (Repeats in a blog??!?!? What is this, the TVLAND cable channel??!?!), but that's buried in the archives now.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Trent Reznor is Nine Inch Nails

OK, I promised I wasn't going to fill this space with "isn't this cool?" links. But - look what Trent Reznor is doing with his latest single:

Isn't this cool???

I've felt for some time now that the art of the future will require a certain level of audience interaction. Trent Reznor proves again and again to be one of the most important artistic innovators of our time.

I'd already decided that my next computer would be a Mac, just because of the GarageBand app. This only helps to strengthen my decision.

As for NIN - I didn't find "The Fragile" double-album to be the total change-of-direction that he'd promised, and I thought he spent too much effort on cool studio tricks, as opposed to composing the brilliant, raw songs that are all over his previous album releases, but I still liked it. The instrumental track, "La Mer", justified the whole album's existence. I haven't heard a single note yet of his new CD, but if he's reintroduced his brilliant songwriting skills into his levels of genius, then it's sure to be a classic.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Spherical Tomi

Well, I suppose the folks over at CGP won't mind the formal announcement here on the blog - -

"Spherical Tomi", my short novel of revenge, regret, intrigue, love and ambition, has been accepted at Creative Guy Publishing! Release date TBA.... Stay tuned to this space for further details....

“No. Here and now, the void of space will burn.”

(The story is about 46,000 words in length. Some define that as a novella, some call that a novelette, still others acknowledge that as a short novel. I'm sticking with the latter definition)

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Three

After years of training, honing my skills, perfecting my techniques, developing and installing the most high-tech cybernetic weaponry, I knew that my time had finally come. Sterling was moving his HQ; I may never have another opportunity like this.

I staked out his new fortified compound in Cali, planning to ambush his caravan as he arrived. It didn’t take long for me to realize though that I’d arrived too late by over a week. Sterling’s no fool; he’d moved in ten days early, to mislead his enemies. I am the fool.

But the moment was not lost.

Another opportunity would surface from my ill-planned ambush. Less than an hour after I’d realized my error, as dusk settled through the smog, a sleek, black, heavily-armored vehicle rolled up, boldly crashing through the front gates and parking on the front lawn. To my astonishment, Gibson and Stephenson stepped out, standing calmly in the bask of the vehicle’s headlights.

It hadn’t been a mistake to come here after all. I’d only planned to get one of them, but now fate had elected to grace me with a chance to take out all three in one fell swoop.

Before any kind of strategy could even form in my mind, multiple streams of fire burst from the compound’s perimeter guns, ripping open the night. Gibson and Stephenson dodged acrobatically; Stephenson’s mirrorshades exploded outward with return fire from his skull gun. Sterling then stepped up the grade of his assault, the ground held by Stephenson and Gibson churned with explosions; the two assailants were engulfed in the billowing orange fire.

Sterling cooled his guns for a moment; the only audible sound in the thunder's wake was the metallic chink of swords coming together. As the fire and smoke dissipated, I saw with disbelief that Gibson and Stephenson were now fighting! Had one of them secretly allied with Sterling? Stephenson’s skull gun fired as he dexterously wielded his twin katanas, Gibson countered masterfully with his single blade, slashing with razor fingertips each time Stephenson stepped in too close.

My perspective rotated in 360 degrees around them as they continued to fight in slo-mo, like in those Matrix movies that had ripped them both off.

I then saw that Sterling had emerged from within his stronghold, looking determined, wielding a sword with a blade so fine as to make it invisible to even my electronically enhanced eye. Gibson and Stephenson paused to watch him approach. He finally reached their ground and stopped; the three combatants stood equidistant from each other. There I stood, off to the side, looking in at this triangle of death; I realized for the first time that I was messing in business where I had no business messing.

I’m still not sure who started it, but there was a sudden violence of fire and micro-filamented steel. I felt a sudden intense, vague pain and staggered to my knees. Something else struck me hard, and the world went void. I struggled but could not keep my eyelids apart, couldn’t keep my head from the rumbling earth.

I awoke where I’d fallen, alone and uncertain how much time had passed, uncertain of the outcome of the battle. The field was calm. My body was broken; my first thought was that they’d left me there to die. But then I realized the truth, and it was that much more awful.

They’d never even known I was there.

If I ever get off of this field, I will continue my practice, continue to train, continue to develop my weaponry and enhance my arsenal. . . but I must accept the harsh reality – I will never equal any of the Three.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Top 25 songs in my iTunes player

Well it's that time again... here are the Top 25 Most Played tracks in my iTunes player.
Check this blog's March archives - March 23 - to see the previous Top 25.

(I gotta say, since I made the switch from Windows Media Player/WinAmp last June to iTunes, I've never looked back. WinAmp is a decent program, but I've never been too thrilled with Media Player. iTunes rules!)

1. Vanity Fair ~ Mr. Bungle 31
2. Organ Donor ~ DJ Shadow 19
3. Dad and Dog ~ Fredo Viola 18
4. Saddam A Go-Go ~ GWAR 15
5. Wine ~ Jack Mangan 15
6. Jack Mangan - Tears of Liquid Mercury ~ Jack Mangan 15
8. Did My Time ~ KoRn 14
9. Red Right Hand ~ Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds 14
10. At The Gates - Slaughter of the Soul ~ At the Gates 13
11. Waltz #2 (XO) ~ Elliott Smith 13
12. Spirit Man ~ Mango 13
13. Asteroid Speed Highway ~ Matt Mango 13
14. Roberta Flack - First Time Ever I Saw Your Face ~ Roberta Flack 13
15. The Cure - Just Like Heaven ~ The Cure 12
16. Link Wray & His Ray Men - Rumble ~ Link Wray & His Ray Men 12
17. Judas Priest - Head Out To The Highway ~ Judas Priest 12
18. kidicarlevel1 ~ kid icarus 12
19. The Crown and the Ring ~ Manowar 12
20. Asturias ~ Segovia 12
21. Institutionalized (original Version) ~ Suicidal Tendencies 12
22. U Can't Hold No Groove ~ Victor Wooten 12
23. Seemingly Endless Time ~ Death Angel 11
24. Eric B and Rakim - Microphone Fiend ~ Eric B & Rakim 11
25. Hallowed Be Thy Name ~ Iron Maiden 11

Well the top 5 have all stayed the same. Nothing's going to take Vanity Fair's title for quite some time.
Have I really listened to the Kid Icarus theme that many times?? That's a new addition to the list at #18. (Yes, that's Kid Icarus midi from the original Nintendo ES system. I'm so embarassed...)
The biggest mover of all is Spirit Man by my old band Mango at #12... tied for 10th, really. It wasn't in the Top 25 at all last month.
The two tracks that got bumped are "Nuthin But a G Thang ~ Dr. Dre" and "Circle of Stars ~ Jack & Debbie Mangan" (sorry honey).
Other tracks with 11 plays that don't appear solely for alphabetical reasons are :

Solfeggietto - CPE Bach ~ Leslie Bridges
Defender ~ Manowar
Watch The Children Pray ~ Metal Church
Shape Of My Heart ~ Sting title
Lay It On The Line ~ Triumph

Young Harry P- I mean, Young Sherlock Holmes

Hey you!

Go and look - my review of Young Sherlock Holmes is up over at

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


I first heard "Rumble" by Link Wray & His Ray Men in my dad's Firebird, sometime about age 12. I was already in my "metal-only" phase and suffering through an oldies marathon when this song suddenly came on the radio. He knew it right away and was ecstatic to hear it again... "Now that's playin'!" he said during the fast guitar lead.
I sat there with my long curly hair and heavy metal t-shirt, utterly blown away. Here was a song, recorded in 1958, that sounded as moody, as doomy, as heavy as anything from Dio, Iron Maiden or AC/DC. This song is years ahead of its time. Two minutes twenty-four seconds of cool....
I'd considered "Rumble" for our grand announced entrance at our wedding reception, but went with the ceremonial theme from the end of Star Wars: A New Hope instead (hey, I knew a guy who'd had Darth Vader's Theme playing while the wedding party held plastic lightsabers. Nothing wrong with Star Wars in your wedding reception). "Rumble" ended up as the garter ritual portion of our reception - it worked perfectly. OK, enough of my ramble on "Rumble". Go buy an oldies compilation CD and get ahold of this track.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

John Joseph Adams aka JJA aka The Slush God

Hey, John Joseph Adams has finally accepted a few of my writing submissions!! Not for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, mind you - - but blurbs for his website.

The "Blurb - O - Matic" is in the column on the left; he published quite a few blurbs, so if you refresh your browser a few times, you should spot one of mine.

For those who don't know - JJA is The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction's first line of defense against sub-par story submissions. It's a great magazine, consistently nominated for Hugos, so he and Editor-In-Chief Gordon Van Gelder are obviously doing something right...

Friday, April 08, 2005


Pinot, anyone?

I've finally figured out the subject of the Prince song, "Sexy Motherfucker"; it's Paul Giamatti.

How about this guy? He's pretty good at this acting thing, eh?

Critics love him, but he doesn't get a lot of public respect. I suspect it's because he plays a lot of vulnerable, fragile, sensitive roles - like Miles. I think if he played a badass Michael Corleone-type role, people would really embrace him and put him in the same category as Pacino and De Niro, where he belongs.
So what do you think, Giamatti? Hook up with Scorcese or Tarantino and play a tough-as-nails mob boss, or maybe a loose cannon hitman. Or how about The Mole Man in Fantastic Four 2?

The Bonfire of the Vanities


{OK - the other day I posted pointless, fun pictures/crap, deviating a bit from the blog's original intent. As for Mark Hamill; he needn't be too distraught about my crticism in the Muppet Show post. I wouldn't have cracked on his goofy dancing and singing if I wasn't a big fan. See, I don't intend to waste these pixels on people I detest, unless you REALLY REALLY offend me. So it's unlikely you'll ever see posts here about Barbara Streisand, Brendan Fraser, overzealous, hyper-righteous fanatics, etc. (damn, now I've wasted pixels on people I detest.) If I criticize you at all in these entries, then take it as tough love. - JM}
So now back to the unsolicited endorsement of cool stuff, one of this blog's original stated intentions....

Today, I must give praise to Tom Wolfe's book, "The Bonfire ofthe Vanities". Mr. Wolfe's skill with prose and metaphor is to be admired, studied, and envied by authors everywhere. The story is somewhat compelling, but what kept me hooked all the way to the end was the fantastic style, the dead-on accuracy with which he creates his vivid, familiar, flawed characters. Despicable as Sherman McCoy is, the reader gets so deep inside his mind that one can't help but to sympathize with his plight. "Bonfire" was written in, and is very much a product of the 80s - - but it doesn't feel dated at all. It comes across more like an indepth study of all the widely varying levels of New York City society in the 80s. The deep, recognizable truths and vivid imagery grace nearly every page; reading this is like watching a master of his craft at work.OK, it would probably be better if it ended 100 pages sooner... there's a great deal of text devoted to Peter Fallow, the Brit reporter/social parasite, which while entertaining, probably could have been cut. Supposedly the film version was pretty bad; I don't know - - I will tell you that Tom Wolfe's book is awesome.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Joe Satriani

The Lord of Karma.
"Some of us are going to play faster than others. Hitting the right notes and getting your technique right is so much more important than speed." - Joe Satriani.

Satriani's mastery of the guitar is akin to Wayne Gretzky's mastery of hockey - or Michael Jordan's mastery of basketball.
Sure, Hendrix was more of an innovator, David Gilmour may be more soulful with his bends, Yngwie Malmsteen may be faster, Jimmy Page may have been a better riffsmith; the last fifty years have seen hundreds of great guitar players do lots of amazing things. But when it comes down to it, no one can match Satch.
His melodic, emotional touch is beautiful; he can shred with the best of them; his wah-pedal-use is unparalleled... but most importantly - Satch is a brilliant composer. This guy's catalogue of published music, spanning 20 years now, has a staggering number of great, great songs. People focus so much on his guitar skills that the quality of his music is sometimes overlooked. Listeners who are turned off by screeching guitars and blinding leads can marvel at the beauty of songs like "Midnight", Tears in the Rain", or "Day At The Beach (New Rays From an Ancient Sun)".

I saw him in concert last night at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix. The guy is 48 years old, and as energetic a musical performer as you'll see this year. The highlight of the night was the jam of "Searching" from the latest CD, "Is There Love in Space?". I'm still reeling.... About three hours of music and it felt way too short. Don't pass up the opportunity to see the world's best guitar player the next time Joe Satriani does a show in your town.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Cthulu, The Ultimate Evil (?)

Kid Icarus

Mark Hamill on the Muppet Show

Just rented a DVD of Muppet Show episodes from Netflix - one of them, circa 1978(?), is the Star Wars episode, guest-starring Mark Hamill as himself and as Luke Skywalker, joined by R2-D2, C-3PO, and Chewbacca. I vaguely remember seeing this when it originally aired, back in the prehistoric 70s. Even aside from the Star Wars stuff, it was great to see The Muppet Show again. It's still good for what it is, even after all these years. Definitely takes me back.
As for Mark Hamill.... what were you thinking, man??
I know it's a kid's show, but this guy takes the goofiness way beyond any acceptable level. I'm embarassed for him as I watch him do his jokes, impressions, and especially his "gargling with Gershwin" dance. There's a scene where Kermit throws him out of the theater because his act stinks. No kidding.
Now I'll say something in support of George Lucas. He's taken a lot of heat for perceived flaws in his retouches of the original Star Wars films, and even more for perceived flaws and "sellouts" in Episodes 1 & 2. Some of this criticism is justified (ahem, Jar Jar Binks), but it's mostly unfair. They don't stand shoulder to shoulder with the original 3, but they're both good films on their own.
This episode of the Muppet Show has Chewbacca dancing with R2-D2 and, good lord, c-3PO tap dancing!! This doesn't bother me, but can you imagine the nerd uprisings if something similar had been done in the last 5 years? If Jar Jar Binks tapdanced while Hayden Christensen acted goofier than Richard Simmons on some TV show, the nerds would be outside of Skywalker Ranch with pitchforks and torches, crying that Lucas was ruining and tainting the sanctity of the Star Wars canon.
Anyway- rent or buy the old Muppet Show episodes on DVD - and don't miss the Star Wars episode.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Only Time Will Tell

My review of Arthur C. Clarke's "The Songs of Distant Earth" is up at

As I mention at the end of the review - Mike Oldfield's album, "The Songs of Distant Earth" is inspired genius. All of the songs are linked together in a near-perfect single composition. If you like/can stomach progressive, synthesizer-heavy instrumental music; if you like/don't hate Tangerine Dream or Vangelis; if you don't need quick resolutions, <5 minute song lengths, and poppy, jingly hooks in your music, then you MUST own this CD.
Mike Oldfield is most famous for the piano intro his album, "Tubular Bells", which was used as the theme music for The Exorcist. That is a pretty great riff, which leads into a really good album - but "The Songs of Distant Earth" is better. Definitely my favorite "New Age" CD of all time.