Friday, May 27, 2005

American Movie

It's been about 5 years now since I saw this film, but it's still so memorable and so quotable ("It's alright, it's OK, there's something to live for! Jesus told me so").
This movie is funny on a "This Is Spinal Tap" level, and better than just about all of Christopher Guest's numerous follow-up mockumentaries.
"American Movie" focuses mainly on Mark Borchardt, an independent filmmaker from Wisconsin and his permabaked friend Mike. Mark seems somewhat aware that the purpose of the film is to mock his backwater eccentricities, but still, he can only be himself for the cameras. The result is a hilarious, sometimes touching, unforgettable glimpse into this guy's little world and his giant dreams.

These same filmmakers (not Mark Borchardt) made another surprisingly interesting documentary called "Home Movies", about people and their unique, interesting personalities and houses. Also worth watching.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

"Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town" review

My review of Cory Doctorow's brilliant, twisted new novel, "Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town" was posted last night at This is a great book, with one of the most diabolical villains I've encountered in quite some time. I gave it a 9 out of 10, but some anonymous reader has already tacked a 3-out-of-10 Reader Review onto mine (which is interesting, because the book isn't scheduled to be released until July).

Oh well, like I say in the review, Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town is not for everyone.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

AHOP is in the Dragon Page Library!

Monday, May 23, 2005

Mojave 3: Ask Me Tomorrow

I discovered Mojave 3's "Ask Me Tomorrow" album while a DJ at my college radio station. It was in the 'suggested play' bin; I picked the track, "Tomorrow's Taken" at random and announced on the air that I was about to play something I'd never heard, and that would probably suck (oh aren't college DJ's so daring and cool). Five minutes later, I was on the air again retracting that prediction, humbled and deeply moved. It became a regular play during my weekly, 2-hour show.
The song is a mellow, heart-rending lament of lost love... It blew me away... such emotion, such depth, such melancholy, such a haunting long instrumental outro. I eventually picked up the "Ask Me Tomorrow" CD; while "Tomorrow's Taken" is my favorite track, the rest of the CD overflows with understated brilliance. At no point does the music ever get up and 'rock', but the sleepy, quiet sound of the album is beautiful, never boring.
I never picked up any of their other CDs (I'm funny like that), never heard much beyond that first album, and what I did hear was disappointing. I understand that Rachel Goswell does little-to-no vocals on the latter material, and also that it's more upbeat. The mellow sadness and the soft feminine vocals are a large part of the appeal of the first CD, so if those accounts are true, then I'm reluctant to check out the other albums. Unless compelled otherwise, I'll stick with "Ask Me Tomorrow".

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Review of "TheZenith Angle"

Attention: My review of Bruce Sterling's excellent novel, "The Zenith Angle", is posted at

Friday, May 20, 2005

In case you couldn't find any written commentary on that new Star Wars movie....

I'm not going to go into a long rant about Revenge of the Sith. Throw a rock on the net and you'll hit three of them... (I will give it a strong, enthusiastic thumbs up though).

Here's my only comment:
One of the plot points that bugged me most from The Phantom Menace was Shmi Skywalker's claim that Anakin had no father. It had turned out her slave gear wasn't just making her look fat, she'd somehow been struck by an immaculate conception. That had always felt like a cop-out, like Lucas just didn't want to have to explain Anakin Sr., so he just wrote around that inconvenience. Until now.
In Revenge of the Sith's most wonderfully understated, Godfather-esque scene, Palpatine reveals new information which further explains Anakin's conception, along with a few other mysteries of the Force.

One other thing: I'm shocked at the negative critical reactions for ROTS. Any critic who fails to find ROTS thrilling, instead picking finicky gripes about "wooden dialogue, disjointed story, etc.", has completey allowed their cynicism to corrupt their judgment - - they've gone over to the Dark Side.
OK - gotta run - - I have a bubble concert to get to...

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Day The Earth Stood Still review

My review of the legendary science fiction film, "The Day the Earth Stood Still" is up at, replete with grammatical errors... ugh.

I also neglected to mention Bernard Herrman's great musical score. It's the definitive atmospheric, spooky, 50s Flying Saucer picture soundtrack. Quite possibly the greatest Theremin composition of all time.

Go check out the review anyway. It's a great film - 5 stars.
And hmmm... I recently gave "No Maps For These Territories" 4 stars, and I'm really loving the book I'm on right now - will probably also give that one a high rating. I may need to review something really awful soon, like "Yor the Hunter From the Future" or one of those extraneous hack Dragonlance spinoff series, just to balance things out.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

"The Last Cyberpunk" plot devices in the real world!!!

Speaking of boingboing, check out Cory Doctorow's latest post:

Straight out of my short story!

The trailer skyscrapers I depicted in "The Last Cyberpunk" (see the panel on the right) are stacks of the aluminum homes climbing up into the sky, so this isn't exactly the same thing - but it's still close enough for me to jump up and down and point excitedly at the monitor. I can certainly envision Grey climbing up to that roof and looking out on the deep snow below...

The Greatest Film Franchise of all Time

And so tomorrow, the latest and possibly final chapter in the greatest speculative fiction film franchise of all time will be released, and -- oh wait a minute --

"Herbie: Fully Loaded" doesn't come out until June 22.... Sorry, my mistake.
We'll have to wait another month to finally learn the answers to all the questions raised in "Herbie Goes Bananas". (I wonder if a ghostly Buddy Hackett will give Lindsey Lohan advice from beyond the grave)

Monday, May 16, 2005

The Dragon Page

I tend to despise talk radio shows. Obnoxious, unfunny twits trying to imitate Howard Stern and failing miserably. Stern is sometimes funny and Al Franken is smart, but for me, the talk just gets old quickly. I had AM sports stations set into my radio presets back in NJ, and have done the same here in the Phoenix metro area, but still get bored quickly when the talk turns from hockey and NFL football.
In spite of my distaste for talk radio shows, I've become hooked on the podcast releases of The Dragon Page. I met these guys at the LepreCon Convention, and downloaded a couple of the recent shows. Michael, Evo, Joe, Summer, and the team do a really smart, really entertaining series of radio shows covering all things Sci-Fi. The Geek Fu and Differn't Point of View (from Stormtrooper TD0013) segments are also witty and entertaining. Download some of the shows and be informed and entertained. It's easy to get lost perusing their website too.

I gave them a copy of Amityville House Of Pancakes to review, so hopefully they'll rate it highly and I won't have to rescind my endorsement. ;)

Friday, May 13, 2005

boing boing

Want to see what a real blog looks like? Check out: boing boing

As I've often stated, my humble blog here is specifically a source of news and announcements about my writing career. boingboing is a "Directory of Wonderful Things", the textbook example of what a blog that exists for its own sake ought to be. Go check it out and be more amazed, astonished, stimulated, provoked, educated, enlightened, informed, entertained, amused, distracted than a thesaurus.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Creating the Epic Fantasy

I'm breaking my blog's "No amusing weblinks" rule to bring you this.

Now that's some funny damn stuff.

For the record, I'd written a similar non-fic piece in the same vein a few years back, but never bothered to polish it and submit it anywhere. If I ever do drag that thing out and publish it, let the record show that the two satirical looks at epic fantasy were both created independently and in ignorance of each other. However, since theirs is out first, and so funny, and so well done, I'll really have to retouch mine to purge any similarities. But enough of my CMA rambling (rambling - that's another blog rule broken! dammit!)... OK go check out the link.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

How Was LepreCon? Part 2

More thoughts on LepreCon 31:

As promised, more about the Author Guest of honor, Kevin J. Anderson, and his wife, Rebecca Moesta.

I sat on their panel on professional writing. This guy takes a lot of abuse in the customer section - but you know what?-- he really knows his stuff. Rebecca Moesta too. I was impressed. If they ever come out with a book on the craft and business of writing, it will be an essential for all wannabe-and-established writers. Full disclosure: never read any of their stuff myself (had planned to eventually read his Captain Nemo book), but I will now. My wife won an autographed copy of his book, Hidden Empire, so I definitely plan to read that. Another thing to consider - as a general rule, if an author is getting that much flack on, then they must be doing something right.
A quick note to Kevin J Anderson:
I told you that I'd been a finalist for the L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future contest, but upon further recollection, I realized was actually a quarterfinalist.

KJA said that finalist meant "top ten"; I wonder what "quarterfinalist" means...

Anyway - the Dune Sea Garrison also needs to be recognized for their fantastic replica Star Wars props and costumes. The Stormtrooper uniforms, lightsabers, guns, thermal detonators, etc. all look like they could have been pilfered right from Skywalker Ranch. And the Darth Maul guy looked perfect enough to completely freak out my son.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Best Time Travel Stories review

My review of "The Best Time Travel Stories of the 20th Century", Edited by Harry Turtledove & Martin H Greenberg is up at Travel on over and check it out. ha ha ha :

A quick point.

There are 11 good stories, a few ok ones, and some bad ones in the book. In the review, I give negative comments on some pieces by some pretty big-name guys, namely Arthur C. Clarke, Joe Haldeman, Jack Finney, Jack Dann, John Kessel. Of those 5 authors, I'm only familiar with Clarke's other works (Rendezvous With Rama = genius), but all have had pretty stellar careers. No disrespect to anyone, but I can't call a bad story a good story, no matter the author.

How Was LepreCon? Part 1

LepreCon 31 was a success! It was a really great time, and I felt like all of my panels went well. I must give props to all the cool people I met and/or paneled with:

~ The guys at the Dragon Page radio show: I only met Evo, Summer, and Joe - but they were really cool people. Evo Terra was on two of my panels, and was always quick with insightful comments and questions. Their Dragon Page radio show is now available via Podcast - and will soon be on XM Satellite radio.
~ Kevin A. Murphy (smart, opinionated, funny guy - on all 3 of my panels), Tabitha Bradley, Janeen O'Kerry, Ken St. Andre, and Jan Howard Finder (aka the Wombat) - all of them (except the Wombat) refer to themselves as writers. All of them (including the Wombat) impressed me at some point - and I'd certainly be curious now to check out their stuff.
~ Dave Dorman, who's a big-time Comic Book and book-cover artist.
~ --- ------ for (I'm almost positive his name was Tom Sanders, but I can't be 100% sure - 10000 apologies). Nonetheless, he was a really cool, nice guy - and the show they're doing at the Dark Commandos website is really impressive.
~ Kevin J. Anderson and his wife Rebecca Moesta. I'll talk more about meeting them in How Was LepreCon? Part 2. I gave him an autographed copy of AHOP -- I hope he likes it.
~ The panel audiences! You guys rocked. I don't know any names, but - the IT/networking guy with the Heartbreaker t-shirt, his friend, the a Stephenson fan, the guy with the towel and bathrobe, a la Arthur Dent, his girlfriend(?) who asked the question about a technological end of the world (to which I gave entirely the wrong answer), and the older gentleman, who also stayed up late for the Worst Future Imaginable panel.

Finally: Paul Tanton and staff - great job! Paul was running the whole thing, but yet was still very approachable and willing to answer questions and help out.
It was a blast.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

No Maps For These Territories review

Alert! My review of the interview documentary film, "No Maps For These Territories", with William Gibson, is up at Go check it out.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Top 25 in my iTunes Player for May 6th

Well it's been 3 weeks - about time for another glimpse into the Top 25 Most Played songs in my iTunes player. Compare this list to April 15th and to March 23rd.

1. Vanity Fair ~ Mr. Bungle 31
2. Organ Donor ~ DJ Shadow 20
3. Dad and Dog ~ Fredo Viola 20
4. Wine ~ Jack Mangan 17
5. Saddam A Go-Go ~ GWAR 16
7. Waltz #2 (XO) ~ Elliott Smith 15
8. Tears of Liquid Mercury ~ Jack Mangan 15
9. Is There Love In Space? ~ Joe Satriani 15
10. Did My Time ~ KoRn 15
11. Slaughter of the Soul ~ At the Gates 14
12. Spirit Man ~ Mango 14
13. Asteroid Speed Highway ~ Matt Mango 14
14. Red Right Hand ~ Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds 14
15. First Time Ever I Saw Your Face ~ Roberta Flack 14
16. Just Like Heaven ~ The Cure 13
17. Rumble ~ Link Wray & His Ray Men 13
18. Head Out To The Highway ~ Judas Priest 13
19. Solfeggietto CPE Bach ~ Leslie Bridges 13
20. Asturias ~ Segovia 13
21. Seemingly Endless Time ~ Death Angel 12
22. Nuthin But a G Thang ~ Dr. Dre 12
23. Microphone Fiend ~ Eric B & Rakim 12
24. kidicarlevel1 ~ kid icarus 12
25. Defender ~ Manowar 12

Not a lot of big changes from the last list; same 5 songs in the Top 5. The most interesting mover is the Joe Satriani tune at number 9, which hadn't been in the top 25 at all previously. Great song.

There was actually a 12-way tie for 21st place for tunes with 12 plays (whoa... if only a Rush song was one of them...). Here are the seven that got cut out of the Top 25 purely for alphabetical reasons:

The Crown and the Ring ~ Manowar 12
Watch The Children Pray ~ Metal Church The Dark 12
Fight the Power ~ Public Enemy 12
It's Hard to Turn Me On ~ Quasi 12
Institutionalized (original Version) ~ Suicidal Tendencies 12
Lay It On The Line ~ Triumph 12
U Can't Hold No Groove ~ Victor Wooten 12

It's weird; I've become more conscious of a song's Play Count now when grabbing songs from the Library for listening. I'm doing my best to keep it from affecting my choices though; I still try to pick songs according to my mood/whim/random shuffle/etc.
Next Top 25 list in about 4 weeks.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

In the meantime....

Slow week. I'll have plenty of new blogfodder next week, but in the meantime, I'll give mention to some of my more obscure publication acceptances:

Two poems in Comrades e-zine. I especially like the poem, "Archipelago". Go check them out and - Hey! Stop laughing at that picture!!! Damn you!

My columns at Beyond Infinity Magazine, linked in the right sidebar of this site.... FYI: new issue coming soon - with new book reviews and a special new Mythological Idol column, in honor of the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings films!!

My music - I'm really proud of the guitar and songwriting work I did on the two Matt Mango CD releases, "The Wishing Bridge" and "Be The Light", not to mention the special CD of instrumental music for my wedding guests. This is definitely material for a future post.

Film reviews of "The Seventh Samurai" and "After Life" in The Third Eye Newsletter. They purchased both (at $1 each -woo hoo!) and published the Seventh Samurai one.

I had 3 book reviews published in Bookmuse, for "The Silmarillion", "The Land of Laughs", and "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn". Unfortunately, they're only considered Reader Reviews, which are the equivalent of Amazon customer reviews, which is why I quit submitting after 3.... Unfortunately, you have to pay to subscribe to Bookmuse to even see them.... But fear not - I plan to write better, entirely new versions of "The Silmarillion" and "The Land of Laughs" reviews for Eventually.

Last, and probably least - A bunch of years ago I wrote up a 20-question Stanley Cup Finals quiz for the Quiz Daily website. They accepted it, but screwed up the page... The first question appears, but there are no answers to click, and no way to move on to question number 2! I informed them immediately about the problem, but they never bothered to fix it. The bum page is still there, years later, still broken.... Oh well.

These are all obscure, small-time, somewhat-hard-to-find successes, but I'm proud of most of that stuff. No shame at all in a small-market publication. Heaps of respect and gratitude for Claudine Moreau and everyone over at Comrades, Blake Cahoon and everyone at Beyond Infinity, Matt Mango and all the other great musicians/friends we worked with, and the Third Eye Newsletter editor(s). All of these people truly paid heed to my voice, appreciated my voice, and in their own ways, each helped and encouraged me to keep striving to be heard and to further hone my expressive skills.

Now I'm getting all misty-eyed....

Sunday, May 01, 2005

LepreCon is next weekend!

Hey, I'll be in and out of events all weekend - but here are my scheduled panel appearances:

LEP 011: Meet the Pros

<>Begins: Friday 1900

Location: S3

Come mingle with your favourite speculative fiction professionals. We will also announce the winners of the film festival!

ART 163: Cyberpunk Today

Begins: Saturday 1200

Location: PV2

A discussion of how this "dead" genre is still present across all forms of media in the 21st century.

Participants: Jack Mangan Ernest Hogan Kevin A. Murphy Evo Terra

SCR 086: Who Will Be the Next Villain in SF?

<>Begins: Saturday 1430

Location: S5

Another ho-hum villain got you down? Are you craving a villain worthy of your hard spent entertainment dollar? Come join this roundtable discussion as we determine what it will take to be the next villain in speculative fiction.

Participants: Tabitha A. Bradley Emily Hogan Ernest Hogan Jack Mangan Janeen O'Kerry Ken St. Andre

SCR 087: The Worst Future You Can Imagine

Mature Theme

Begins: Saturday 2330

Location: S4

Oh sure, the future might be bleak. You might dread every second you creep away from the past. But in this roundtable discussion, share your absolute worst fears for the future.

Participants: Evo Terra Janeen O'Kerry Jack Mangan jan howard finder Kevin A. Murphy Mike Roberts

(all of this info subject to change - - check the official Leprecon site for up-to-date program information)