Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Bob Barker Retiring After 50 Years on TV

Bob Barker Retiring After 50 Years on TV | AccessAtlanta: "Bob Barker is heading toward his last showcase, his final 'Come on down.' The silver-haired daytime-TV icon is retiring in June, he told The Associated Press Tuesday.

'I will be 83 years old on December 12,' he said, 'and I've decided to retire while I'm still young.'"

End times.

THE BEAT: Charles Addams review and interview

THE BEAT has the late great Charles Addams: "Charles Addams is the king of the creepy cartoons, and Linda Davis has just written a new biography of the artist called Charles Addams: A Cartoonist’s Life. You can listen to an interview with her in NPR, or read a review of the book." So go there.

AWOK&C: Chabon on Simpsons

The Amazing Website of Kavalier & Clay - News: "Finally, the date of Michael Chabon's guest-appearance on The Simpsons has finally been announced:

'When Homer forgets Moe's birthday, Moe's anger inspires Lisa to write about him for her school report. She finds a poetic side to Moe and helps him get published in 'American Poetry Perspectives.' However, when Moe is featured at a literary conference where he encounters celebrated authors Gore Vidal, Michael Chabon, Tom Wolfe and Jonathan Franzen, all guest-voicing as themselves he takes all the credit despite Lisa's feelings in the all-new 'Moe'N'A Lisa' episode of THE SIMPSONS Sunday, Nov. 19 (8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT).'"

Movie Poster Artist Jack Davis

Movie Poster Artist Jack Davis - Internet Movie Poster Awards Gallery H/T Mark Evanier (although he points out that several of these posters are misattributed to Davis...).

Ghosts in the Machines - Neil Gaiman op-ed in New York Times

Ghosts in the Machines - New York Times: "The things that haunt us can be tiny things: a Web page; a voicemail message; an article in a newspaper, perhaps, by an English writer, remembering Halloweens long gone and skeletal trees and winding lanes and darkness. An article containing fragments of ghost stories, and which, nonsensical although the idea has to be, nobody ever remembers reading but you, and which simply isn’t there the next time you go and look for it."

Sounds Cool...

Stanley Kubrick-Jim Thompson film treatment turns up - New York Times: "Stanley Kubrick never threw anything away. On the other hand, he didn’t have much of a filing system, and when he moved — permanently, it turned out — from Hollywood to London in 1962, a great many things went astray. Among them was the sole copy of a film treatment called “Lunatic at Large,” which Mr. Kubrick had commissioned in the late ’50s from the noir pulp novelist Jim Thompson, with whom he had worked on “The Killing,” a 1956 bank-heist story that became his first successful feature, and then on 1957’s “Paths of Glory.”

The manuscript remained lost until after Mr. Kubrick’s death, in 1999, when his son-in-law, Philip Hobbs, working with an archivist, turned it up, along with a couple of other scripts, and set about trying to make it into a movie.

There were a couple of false starts. Mr. Hobbs originally approached the French company Path�— partly because the French hold Jim Thompson in the same esteem as Edgar Allan Poe and Mickey Rourke — and after that arrangement fell through, he formed a partnership with Edward R. Pressman, a New York-based producer, and the London producers Finch & Partners. Mr. Pressman, who is expected to announce the completion of the deal today, said the film would be directed by Chris Palmer, from a finished script by Stephen R. Clarke."

Monday, October 30, 2006

Newsarama: Immonen on Ultimate Spidey

ULTIMATE IMMONEN: STUART IMMONEN TALKS ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN - NEWSARAMA: "Astounding readers, defying critics and making some retailers eat bugs, in six short years Ultimate Spider-Man has gone from speculative experiment to unbridled hit. Over the course of 100 issues, writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Mark Bagley have re-envisioned the formative years of Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, through modern eyes and explored familiar territory and uncharted deviations from the status quo. But with Bagley choosing to leave the series with #110, the question on everyone's minds is…. Who's the next artist?

Wonder no more.

Rumors of this have been floating for the past couple of months, and now, Marvel has confirmed with Newsarama that artist Stuart Immonen will be joining Ultimate Spider-Man with issue #111. Best known for his work on Nextwave, Superman and Ultimate X-men, Immonen has long been a go-to talent for Marvel Comics and this new assignment with the Ultimate web-crawler promises great things for Ultimate Spider-man and Stuart Immonen fans alike. As we've discussed with Immonen previously, Immonen displays a classic illustrator's mindset and the creative acumen to make the question not 'Can he do it?' but 'How great will it be?'"

Spider-Man #43 original cover art fetches $101K at auction

Spiderman cover makes $101,700 at Philip Weiss sale: "Original artwork from the cover of Spiderman # 43, drawn by artist John Romita for the December 1966 issue and depicting Spidey locked in mortal combat with his arch enemy “The Rhino,” sold for $101,700 at a multi-estate sale held October 20-21 by Philip Weiss Auctions. Prices quoted include a 13% buyer’s premium."

Ellison on Kirby

Courtesy of Mark Evanier, here's a clip from the late '80s video on Comic Book Masters, wherein Harlan Ellison introduces Jack Kirby.

FOXNews.com - 'Studio 60’ Cancellation Imminent

Roger Friedman of Fox News is reporting on gossip that Studio 60 is about to be canceled, as it is losing half the audience of the surprise hit "Heroes" just before it. This is sad--I really wanted to like this show, but I have to say that Friedman, though harsh, is pretty accurate in his opinion: "Sorkin and friends will argue that NBC has done something wrong, or that the audience isn't smart enough. Alas, in this case, neither is true. 'Studio 60'—as I wrote on August 7th after viewing the pilot—is just a bad show. There's nothing wrong with the acting, directing, or dialogue writing. But the premise is faulty. No one cares whether a bunch of over caffeinated, well off yuppies, some with expensive drug habits, put on a weekly comedy sketch show from Los Angeles.

Even worse: no one cares whether or not the people from the Bartlett White House puts on a comedy show. That's what 'Studio 60' is, essentially: the 'West Wing' annual talent show. There's so much earnestness involved in this endeavour, you start to think that nuclear war will be declared if the 'Studio 60' staff doesn't air some joke—usually one we don't hear anyway. The whole thing just feels weighted down and frankly, not entertaining.

There is one winner to come out of 'Studio 60,' however: Matthew Perry. In this show he's proven himself to be a star on his own separate from 'Friends.' His comedic timing and ability to ad lib, toss off lines, and give restrained physical reactions is what keeps 'Studio 60' even remotely interesting. We can only be hopeful that someone comes up with a great new show for him quickly—but a comedy that's funny, not a drama that isn't."

YouTube Is Purging Copyrighted Clips

YouTube Is Purging Copyrighted Clips - New York Times: "Hitting the financial jackpot, it appears, may have created some headaches for YouTube, the wildly popular video-sharing Web site that has agreed to be bought by Google for $1.65 billion in stock.

The site late last week began purging copyrighted material from Comedy Central, including clips from YouTube stalwarts like “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” “The Colbert Report” and “South Park.”

The action was “a result of third-party notification by Comedy Central,” according to one such e-mail message sent to a YouTube user, Jeff Reifman, who broke the news on the Web site NewsCloud.

A week earlier, nearly 30,000 clips of TV shows, movies and music videos were taken down after the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers cited copyright infringement."

Sunday, October 29, 2006

NYT: Audiences tuning out to serialized dramas

Serialized Dramas - Television - Report by Bill Carter - New York Times: "IN every television season some new lesson about the American audience is imparted. This season’s lesson was clear within the first weeks of the fall: you can ask people to commit only so many hours to intense, dark, intricately constructed serialized dramas, to sign huge chunks of their lives away to follow every minuscule plot development and character tic both on the air and on Internet sites crowded with similarly addicted fanatics.

Ask for more and you will get what happened to every network this fall. “The Nine” got low numbers. “Vanished” was banished. “Kidnapped” went unransomed. “Smith” was swift-kicked. “Runaway” sounded like a command.

“The message we received was that people have strains on their lives,” said Kevin Reilly, the president of NBC Entertainment. “People are saying, ‘I’ve got my handful of shows like this, and I don’t want more.’ ”

Or as Kevin Lubarsky, a recent Villanova University graduate who has relocated to Los Angeles, put it one recent afternoon: “Sundays you’ve got football. Then you’ve got a couple of these serialized shows. You can’t spend your life watching television.”"

While I enjoy several of the serialized dramas myself, I'm finding myself burning out a bit. "Lost," for instance, is weak for me and is losing audience, so others must agree. I'm ready for some good old episodic series again. With a main character, not an ensemble.

New biography presents Houdini as spy

New biography presents Houdini as spy | ajc.com: "Eighty years after his death, the name Harry Houdini remains synonymous with escape under the most dire circumstances. But Houdini, the immigrants' son whose death-defying career made him one of the world's biggest stars, was more than a mere entertainer.

A new biography of the legendary performer suggests that Houdini worked as a spy for Scotland Yard, monitored Russian anarchists and chased counterfeiters for the U.S. Secret Service —- all before he was possibly murdered.

'The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero' will be released on Halloween —- the anniversary of Houdini's untimely death at age 52. Chasing new information on the elusive superstar eventually led authors William Kalush and Larry Sloman to create a database of more than 700,000 pages.

'There's no way in the world we could have done this book without it,' said Sloman of the huge electronic index.

The biography lays out a scenario where Houdini, using his career as cover, managed to travel the United States and the world while collecting information for law enforcement. The authors made the link after reviewing a journal belonging to William Melville, a British spy master who mentioned Houdini several times."

Saturday, October 28, 2006

TUCKER'S TAKE on "Flags of Our Fathers"

Movie review by Lyle Tucker: "Flags of Our Fathers"
Directed by Clint Eastwood.

Something of a minor masterpiece. The war scenes are truly
amazing. You sit there and you ask yourself, "How the hell
did they do this?" Similar to "Saving Private Ryan" in the
"you are there" aspect. The acting is uniformly excellent,
and the direction is superb - how Clint can produce something
like this at 76 is unbelievable. Highly recommended!

ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive Project Blog

Thanks to James Cassara for the tip: "The International Animated Film Society: ASIFA-Hollywood has embarked on an ambitious project to create an animation archive, museum, and library for the benefit of the animation community, students and general public. The first phase of this project involves the creation of an ANIMATION DATABASE which will house images, movie clips and sound files pertaining to the art of animation."

NYT: A sitcom writer on why newer sitcoms suck

Phil Rosenthal is interviewd by Bill Carter in the NYT: "In the year and a half since “Everybody Loves Raymond” left the air, a few television comedies have managed to make noise in the ratings: “Two and a Half Men” on CBS, and “The Office” and “My Name Is Earl” on NBC.

That’s about it. And none has matched the consistent popularity of “Raymond,” which attracted close to 20 million viewers a week.

Network executives have tried mightily to fathom what went wrong with the sitcom, an entertainment staple in America since Jack Benny was on the radio.

Maybe they should ask Phil Rosenthal, the writer and producer who led “Raymond” all nine years it resided on Monday nights for CBS (after starting on Fridays). Or, if they’re afraid he would charge a consulting fee, they could just buy his book, “You’re Lucky You’re Funny,” published this week by Viking.

This is what they would learn: “The key is specificity.” That is how Mr. Rosenthal summed up his sitcom’s success in a telephone interview, and it’s exactly what he writes in the book. What made “Raymond” work was not simply a great cast led by Ray Romano, or a strong staff of experienced comedy writers — though all of that helped, of course.

What really made the show stand out, Mr. Rosenthal said, was faithful reliance on truly specific — sometimes minutely so — details of married life. The details were so specific because they almost always came directly from the lives of Mr. Rosenthal, Ray Romano, or any of a phalanx of the married men, and occasionally the women, who kicked around ideas (as well as one another’s egos) inside the show’s writing room."

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

On the road till Thursday night

I doubt I'll have much online time the next few days as I'll be in St. Louis. No, not for the World Series, but for a conference. Please check back later in the week... or visit the archives! Thanks.

Monday, October 23, 2006

WaPo: Insights into Doonesbury's Garry Trudeau

Doonesbury's War - washingtonpost.com: "Revealing more about himself than he ever has, Garry Trudeau gives us tantalizing clues about what's behind his venerable comic strip's recent burst of genius, and pain."

ATR: Superman DVDs coming with extras

All The Rage: "November 28th is the official release date of the Superman Returns DVD (regular and two disc editions), as well as the Richard Donner cut of Superman II.

The Donner cut will incorporate tons of footage that was never released, while the Superman Returns DVDs also promise to feature most (but not all) of the scenes edited out of the theatrical cut by Bryan Signer."

On TV as in Hollywood, Little Breathing Room for the Modest Success - New York Times

On TV as in Hollywood, Little Breathing Room for the Modest Success - New York Times: "The quick cancellation of “Smith” elucidates how television, like the movie industry, has become a business where there is little room for the modest success. Network executives might talk endlessly about how, in an era where the attention of audiences is ever more scattered, new shows need time to find themselves. But those same executives are often quick to pull the plug on an expensive production that does not immediately perform to expectations.

Combined with NBC’s announcement last week of plans to cut back on expensive programming, the experience of “Smith” demonstrates how the recent trend in television — costly serializations with large casts and complex plots — changes the basic rules of engagement for networks. Viewers cannot easily dip in and out of these kinds of shows, as they can with a half-hour situation comedy or game show. So networks have to make decisions on more expensive, more complex series based on very small samples — a few episodes, typically — to predict whether viewers will commit to an entire season, as they have for similar shows like “Lost” or “24.”"

NYT: Maslin on Stephen King's latest

Lisey’s Story - Stephen King - Books - Review - New York Times: "This sentence is about to do the unthinkable: connect James Joyce and Stephen King. The comparison is not made for reasons of poetry, audacity or soul-searching: Mr. Joyce has a definite leg up in all those departments. But Mr. King has delivered his version of Joycean wordplay, idiosyncrasy, voluptuousness and stubborn, obsessive chronology in “Lisey’s Story.”

Here is a tender, intimate book that makes an epic interior journey without covering much physical terrain. It can move great distances while traveling no further than from a house (home to lonely Lisey Landon, the widow of a Writer �la King) to its neighboring barn (the late writer’s “mostly benign one-boy clubhouse”). The scope sounds modest, yet this book is haunting even by Mr. King’s standards. And he knows a thing or two about haunting.

This is no occasion to make great literary claims for Mr. King, or even to exalt his linguistic experimentation. His use of language in “Lisey’s Story” is so larded with baby talk that it borders on the pathological. Here is a writer who has a thousand ways of naming a toilet, and whose work can thus be an acquired taste. But “Lisey’s Story” transcends the toidy-talk to plumb thoughts of love, mortality and madness — and to deliver them with gale-force emotion. When Mr. King writes in a coda to this blunt but stunning book that “much here is heartfelt, very little is clever,” he is telling the truth."

Harrison Ford still wants to play Indiana Jones in Part IV

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Actor Ford 'fit' to play Indiana: "Actor Harrison Ford has said he feels 'fit' at the age of 64 to reprise the role of action hero Indiana Jones.

The film star, who last played the part in 1989's The Last Crusade, said at the Rome Film Festival that he could 'bring the same physical action' to a remake.

George Lucas and Steven Spielberg have said they are working on a script for the fourth movie, which has been in development for more than 10 years.

Ford said that Sean Connery may return as Indiana Jones' father."

Sunday, October 22, 2006

What I'm reading right now

Among the books and magazines by my easy chair and bedside are:

- Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time by Marcus Borg--a fascinating review of contemporary theology on the historical Jesus vs. the Christ of faith. He articulates pretty much where I have ended up theologically, so it's quite encouraging to read.

- The Shark God by Charles Montgomery... the grandson of an Anglican missionary returns to the South Pacific isles his grandfather ministered among to discover the variety of religious expressions from high church Christianity to magic cults and more. Fascinating.

- The Complete New Yorker Cartoons

- The Confession by James McGreevey--haven't really gotten into this yet, and it's waiting along with Bob Newhart's new autobiography, I Shouldn't Even Be Doing This!

- Adventures of a Bird-Shit Foreigner by Sulayman X... a novel about a Northern Thailand boy, son of a Thai prostitute and a farang (white non-Thai), who leaves the farm of his hateful grandparents to go to Bangkok, becomes a drug-addicted boy prostitute, and then is taken in by a kindly Imam. It really is beautifully told.

- Essential Thor Vol. 3 - Lee and Kirby at their zenith.

A little Soupy sillyness

As a kid in the 60s, I loved watching Soupy Sales after school. Here's a very silly bit that totally captures the flavor of the show.

Mysteries of Pittsburgh production diary

Michael Chabon's first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, is coming soon to movie screens, and YouTube.com has the first four parts of a video production diary, including this latest one, wherein the author himself visits. And we see how to create a bookstore in a flash:

Friday, October 20, 2006

Chabon on Steranko

Organ: "The Kavalier of Reading PA"-- Check it out: Steranko was an inspiration for Joseph Kavalier (of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay). There's some great art examples too.

Hum a dirge for demise of catchy TV themes | ajc.com

Hum a dirge for demise of catchy TV themes --AP's Erin Carlson via ajc.com: "Don't remember much about high school biology or physics. Couldn't tell you how to compute a calculus problem. But, for the love of Will Smith, the theme song to 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air' remains fresh in the mind.

Smith's catchy rap opened each episode of his hit 1990s sitcom, in which he starred as a street-smart teen from Philly who moves in with wealthy relatives. A whole generation knows it by heart —- that, and the 'Saved by the Bell' song.

TV themes, from 'The Beverly Hillbillies' to 'The Brady Bunch' to 'Cheers' to 'Friends,' conjure up memories of cozy nights, childhood bliss and a universal nostalgia for bygone days. But, today, show themes are doing a fast fade, as the networks crunch their programming budgets.

Are they about to join the variety hour in the TV graveyard?

'It's a rarity today,' TV historian Tim Brooks said of the catchy, tuneful opening. 'It's kind of like the Broadway musical producing hit songs —- it just doesn't do that anymore.'

Back in the day, even into the '90s, shows usually had a 'main title,' a 40- to 60-second opening montage that introduced the cast and was often set to music written by a composer, said Jon Burlingame, author of 'TV's Biggest Hits,' a history of themes. Songs summed up what a show was all about, whether spinning the tale of how a group of wacky castaways ended up on 'Gilligan's Island,' telling how a spunky single career woman was 'going to make it after all,' or describing why six touchy-feely Manhattan singles were there for each other.

But now many sitcoms and one-hour dramas are dropping that device. They dive straight into the action, sometimes flashing the show's title or logo at various points throughout an episode."

AJC: Major changes coming to NBC properties

Prime-time laggard NBC to cut jobs | ajc.com: "Lagging in network television and facing a digital media revolution, NBC Universal said Thursday it would cut 700 jobs, overhaul news operations and change prime-time TV by dropping costly dramas and comedies from the 8 p.m. hour.

The entertainment company, which includes the NBC network and is owned by General Electric Co., said the changes would save $750 million and slash its work force by about 5 percent by the end of 2008. The plan includes closing MSNBC's New Jersey headquarters and potential cost-cutting changes at the Universal film and theme park operations.

Company executives said savings would be invested in faster-growing areas, particularly Internet sites and more efficient digital operations."

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Megan and Merv

TBS has been airing the new Megan Mullaly Show at 8 a.m., which I can watch a while as I get ready for work. Megan is great fun (of course we know her as the deliciously decadent Karen Walker from the late "Will and Grace") and she has created a talk show that hearkens back to the days of some of my favorite television viewing--Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin, and David Frost. Light, funny, silly, celeb-laden talk (the kind Ellen DeGeneres has rekindled after far too many years of Phil Donahue clones). She even uses asterisks in the set design, like Mike Douglas used to. While the show airs on local stations usually during the afternoons, TBS has the cable rights and airs each program the day after it originally airs. Unfortunately, ratings have not been so hot.

Megan seems to have a lot of fun with her guests. Thursday morning was certainly no exception. Merv Griffin himself was the first guest! Merv is looking good for 81, although he was a bit overly-botoxed and a little Jabba-the-Huttish. But what a quick wit. It was great fun to watch them play off each other.

There's some video online at http://www.meganshow.tv/

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

TUCKER'S TAKE on "Man of the Year"

Another movie review by Lyle Tucker...

Directed by Barry Levinson, with Robin Williams, Laura
Linney, Christopher Walken, Jack Black and Jeff Gold-

This is not the movie you think it is. It's not a comedy.
Yes, it's about a comedian who gets elected president,
but the film is actually a suspense film and a cautionary
tale - and it works well as both, although more so with
the suspense aspect. If you have a distrust for the idea
of electronic voting machines, then the movie will resonate
well with you. If you think the electronic voting machine
is just peachy, then the simplistic scenario they present
will most likely just piss you off. Either way, though, I
think the movie, although rather lightweight all-in-all, is done
well enough to keep and sustain your interest, largely thanks
to the always-excellent Laura Linney. She steals the show.
We went to see this, basically, due to Christopher Walken's
presence - and even though he has a coupla good moments,
it was Linney who kept our interest. Williams doesn't show
anything new, but he was the right choice for the role.

I don't want to give away the story, even though it reveals its
basic premises early on - but, again, if you enjoy a decent
suspense story (not great, by any means) and also like the
actors involved, I don't think you'll feel your money was wasted.
Not a glowing review, certainly, but we did leave the theatre
feeling well-entertained.

This week's comics haul

Today at lunch I picked up:

- The Amazing Spider-Girl #1... looks like good comicky fun!

- The Absolute Sandman Special Edition 50c - a preview of the upcoming recolored, remastered oversized volume. Nice introduction to the series for little coinage.

- Jack Kirby's Galactic Bounty Hunters #3 - enjoying this series more than I thought I would.

- The Lone Ranger #2 - the first issue was fun. This is a handsome series, so I'll keep with it a while.

My regular comics store, Oxford, always hands out free issues of Comics Shop News, which has been around forever (issue #1009 this week), although they tend to run out of their supply by Wednesday night. While I generally read all the info in there online, it's still a fun, geeky way to keep up to day with what's happening in comics. Bravo!

Poynter: Christopher Glenn is dead

Poynter Online has a reminiscence by Jeff Houck of the Tampa Tribune, which is exactly how I felt: "Before there was Linda Ellerbee, there was Christopher Glenn.

I remember that in between my of sugar-soaked bowls of cereal and endless Saturday morning cartoons, Glenn would come on to deliver his segment “In The News” in his resonant, mellifluous voice.

After hours of mindless drivel, (“The Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show,” anybody?), Glenn would give kids the headlines on the top stories of the day. Nothing heavy – it wasn't like he was dropping footage of Vietnam body bags on us. It was just enough news so that we could understand what our parents were talking about. He didn’t dumb it down, he didn’t put on trendy clothes or attempt to speak in slang; he just sat at the regular anchor desk and simplified it so we’d understand. He was like a Cronkite for kids.

Years later, I’d see him on a stray news update segment in prime time (Remember those?) or hear him doing radio news and it would totally take me back."

MB: An Interview with Neil Gaiman

mediabistro.com: MBToolBox: An Interview with Neil Gaiman

AP: Newhart hilariously sane, even in bio

Newhart is one of my faves, and this book should be in my hands soon: "Bob Newhart has some lessons for us about comedy.

Comedians are sadistic, he writes in his new book. Also self-absorbed, perverse, thin-skinned and prone to exhibit multiple personalities.

Newhart doesn't bother to excuse himself from these blanket pronouncements. But anyone who reads his charming memoir, 'I Shouldn't Even Be Doing This (and Other Things That Strike Me as Funny)' (Hyperion, $23.95), will come away only more sure of what they already knew: After nearly a half-century making us laugh, Newhart remains what set him apart from other comedians in the first place . . . an ordinary man befuddled by the world around him. A guy like us. Just much shrewder and funnier."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

DIAL B: The Final Chapter!

DIAL B for BLOG has the second in pivotal comics in Robby's life--and I too vividly remember the impact this comic book had on me when I was a wee lad... but it's not Robby's Final Chapter after all... thankfully: "In our last issue, we saw how a single page from Action Comics #332 changed Robby Reed's entire life. Today, we're going to take a look at the second comic book story to play a decisive role in the formation of young Robby Reed -- it's a Spider-Man adventure from 1965/1966, plotted and drawn by the legendary Steve Ditko, and scripted by the one and only Stan Lee.

The first chapter in this three-issue story was titled 'If This Be My Destiny,' followed by 'Man On A Rampage.' Then came the concluding chapter, 'The Final Chapter,' featuring what Stan Lee rightfully calls 'one of the most famous five-page sequences in the history of comicdom.' If Spidey should still exist in a thousand years, they will still look back upon the events in this story and say, 'This was Spider-Man's finest hour!'"

TUCKER'S TAKE on "United 93"

Movie review by Lyle Tucker:

As trite as it might sound to say it, the film is a fitting
tribute to the people who died on the flight, and even
those who died elsewhere on Sept. 11. Writer/Director
Paul Greengrass has done a tremendous job in main-
taining a naturalistic tone that serves the subject mat-
ter well. Not once did I feel the movie veered into the
sensationalistic. In addition to the story of the crew
and passengers, you learn quite a bit about the com-
munication breakdown that occured between the airports
and the military, and the military and the White House -
assuming the script is as accurate as you would hope
(I was somewhat disappointed to find out that there were
children on the plane, which the movie leaves out of the
picture entirely - not sure I could conceive of a reason
where I would agree with that decision). Nonetheless,
the movie is a sober and effective examination of an
important part of our collective recent history.

Highly recommended.

Monday, October 16, 2006

DIAL B for BLOG: Robby's Secret Origin part 1

DIAL B for BLOG: "And there you have it! The single page that changed young Robby Reed from an ordinary person first into a life-long comic book fan, and then into a professional graphic designer who works in the advertising industry -- where he learned the skills that make DIAL B for BLOG the world's most original comic web log! And so, to close chapter one of this series. let's thank the men responsible for creating this page: writer Leo Dorfman, artist Al Plastino, and last but not least -- the inimitable Ira Schnapp!"

Go check it out!

Make Mine Marvel: IGN Stan Lee Interview Parts 1-5

Make Mine Marvel: IGN Stan Lee Interview Parts 1-5: Check it out.

Stan Lee says 'Spider-Man,' other comics fight bigotry

Stan Lee says 'Spider-Man,' other comics fight bigotry (from azcentral.com: "If comic book characters like the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk and Spider-Man seem a tad different, their creator Stan Lee says that's the point.

'The thing I had in mind was to make it a story against bigotry of all sorts, because here were people who were certainly different than everybody else, but they were good, they were trying to do the right thing,' Lees tells the San Francisco Chronicle in Sunday's editions.

'But as so often happens in real life, if you have a different religion, a different country, a different sexual orientation, whatever the difference is, people - not all people, but it happens - are going to dislike you, distrust you, fear you.' "

Evanier on Sinnott (Happy BIrthday Joe!)

news from me: "Any list of 'The Nicest People in Comics' would have to include Joe Sinnott in the top three or so. Joe is a gentleman in every sense of that oft-misapplied noun and to everyone who admires his work — a very large group of human beings — enormously generous with his time and talents."

Today is Joe's 80th birthday--check out www.joesinnott.com (and the rest of Mark Evanier's essay).

Friday, October 13, 2006

NPR : A Tour of the Nation's Biggest Cartoon Library

NPR : A Tour of the Nation's Biggest Cartoon Library, on Talk of the Nation: "Ohio State University professor Lucy Shelton Caswell gives a tour of the nation's largest collection of cartoons. Caswell is curator of The Ohio State University Cartoon Research Library.

The Cartoon Research Library's mission is to develop and provide access to a comprehensive collection of materials documenting American printed cartoon art. This includes editorial cartoons, comic strips, comic books, graphic novels, sports and magazine cartoons, but not animation."

Evanier: Early Parker & Stone Video Surfaces

news from me: "This runs something like 14 minutes but if you haven't seen it, it's probably worth the time. In 1995, Universal Studios was acquired by the Seagram's Company, the largest distiller of alcoholic beverages in the world. This placed it under the control of Seagram's CEO, Edgar Bronfman, Jr..

For reasons that now seem elusive, Bronfman or some part of the new ownership decided it would be a good idea to create an employee training film that would sell the idea that Universal was and would continue to be an 'artist friendly' environment. If that was a good idea, it may not have been wise to hand the assignment to Matt Parker and Trey Stone who, of course, are best known for South Park. The two men put together an amusing film loaded with celebrity cameos but the folks at Universal didn't know what to do with the finished product. It made the rounds — everyone in Hollywood seemed to have a copy of a copy of a copy — and now it's on the Internet...but as I understand it, it was never really used for any kind of orientation. As you watch it, you might try to imagine the reaction of the Universal execs when they first saw it and wondered aloud why they ever thought this would be a useful tool..."

Go check it out!

The In-Sect: Levent Çakir is Superman. And Batman.

The In-Sect - article - video - Levent Çakir is Superman. And Batman.

I had no idea.

Mike Sterling has "All Things Nancy"

Mike Sterling's Progressive Ruin: "We are all Nancy."

A little scary.

Why comic strip creators pack up their pencils

JS Online:: "For comic strip artists, the daily deadlines and the demand to please in every word balloon can take the giggles right out of the job.

Add skirmishes with editors over politically or socially provocative content and backlash from readers, and it's enough to make cartoonists put down their pencils - even when their strips are beloved by millions of fans.

'It's a relentless grind,' said Berkeley Breathed, 49, who retired his Pulitzer Prize-winning strip, 'Bloom County,' in 1989. 'You wake up every morning and you have to come up with something, whether you're sick, whether you're depressed or even if your mother was hit by a truck.'

'It's a pretty brutal existence,' said Frank Cho, creator of 'Liberty Meadows,' a daily strip syndicated in 100 newspapers from 1997 to 2001.

'You're constantly under the gun, and there is always that burnout factor,' said Cho, 34. He now produces 'Liberty Meadows' as an occasional comic book and works for Marvel Comics on projects such as 'Spider-Man' and the 'New Avengers.'

Sabbaticals are a common way of coping with the pressure to be funny 365 days a year. Garry Trudeau took a 22-month break from 'Doonesbury' in the mid-'80s.

But in the history of comic strips, only a few major artists have shut down a strip while it was still popular: Breathed, Gary Larson of 'The Far Side' and Bill Watterson of 'Calvin and Hobbes.' Both Larson and Watterson took sabbaticals before eventually retiring their strips. They've been mostly silent since and have refused to do interviews.

The latest casualty of the grueling funnies business could be 'Boondocks' creator Aaron McGruder. In March, McGruder, 32, took a break from the 7-year-old strip about Afro-coiffed Huey Freeman and his gangsta-loving little brother, Riley, saying, 'Every well needs occasional refreshing.'"

The good, bad and 'Ugly' in fall television

The good, bad and 'Ugly' in fall television -- Rodney Ho in the AJC: "Ugly is in. So are superheroes. Hostages are out.

The broadcast networks have aired almost all their new fall shows, but only a handful are showing signs of becoming genuine hits. Viewers, perhaps taxed by existing serial dramas, have rejected several new ones while embracing more unusual, left-field options."

NYT art review: "Masters of American Comics"

Masters of American Comics - Newark Museum - The Jewish Museum - Review - Art - New York Times: "“Masters of American Comics” is a landmark and a pleasure. For many people, I suspect, it will be a revelation too.

Organized by the Hammer Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, where it made a splash, it has come east cut in size and split between the far-flung Newark and Jewish museums, in which it looks cramped. Art Spiegelman, one of the masters, who helped instigate the exhibition, felt so aggrieved by the circumstances that at nearly the 11th hour he pulled his work.

This was a pity, for the obvious reasons, and also because the Jewish Museum scrambled to fill the gap he left by appending a half-baked display of superhero comic artists, some great although in general reinforcing the exact clich�about comics just being schlock for kids that the exhibition was conceived to undo.

Good grief.

Still, the show shouldn’t be missed. It spotlights artists like Chris Ware and Gary Panter, amazing state-of-the-art talents and endearing in the tradition of all those shy, gifted kids who drew endlessly in their rooms when other kids wouldn’t play with them, dreaming about someday telling the world, “I told you so.”"

Thursday, October 12, 2006

TUCKER'S TAKE on 'The Departed"

Movie Review by Lyle Tucker

directed by Martin Scorsese, with Jack Nicholson, Leonardo Di Caprio, Vera Farmiga, Matt Damon, Martin Sheen, Mark Wahlberg, Ray Winstone and Alec Baldwin.

Scorsese *will* win the Best Director Oscar this year - both for this movie and for his body of work. The first hour of this almost three-hour-long film is absolutely brilliant - the leanest storytelling you're likely to see - not an ounce of fat nor waste.

Nicholson and Di Caprio take the show, especially Di Caprio. Everybody else is solid. The story is captivating, although with a few holes on retrospection, but the ending is very logical and satisfying. Vera Farmiga is simply yummy, and I want to see her other movies now.

The time flies by as this movie does not know how to drag - which is not to say it's an actionfest the way CRANK was. It simply is engaging from beginning to end. The parallel storyline of police mole and of gangster mole operating at the same time is truly fascinating. Highly recommended, don't miss unless foul language and graphic violence bother you.

This is Pop Culture: Lost Notes

This is Pop Culture has a synopsis and a number of clues, observations, speculations: "The Others put Sawyer and Kate to back-breaking work busting up rocks at a building site and Ben continues trying to break Jack's will power. Meanwhile, a band of Others manage to steal the sailboat from Sayid, Jin and Sun."

Is it me or is "Lost" starting out real slow this season? It looks like next week we'll finally get to see more of the rest of the islanders. But so far, ehhh.

AWoK&C: Escapists #4

The Amazing Website of Kavalier & Clay - News: "Brian K. Vaughan clearly likes The Escapists #4, in stores today

'I love this issue more than my wife,' Vaughan said in a forum posting.

Vaughan said 'it's all thanks to the art team,' Steve Rolston and Jason Alexander.

'If you're not reading this book, what the hell is wrong with you?' he said.

In this issue, Max, Case, and Denny become increasingly irritable toward each other as a high-powered corporate lawyer moves in to yank their Escapist rights. Meanwhile, within the comic they're making, the Escapist faces samurai-wielding female warriors, who have taken Luna Moth hostage."

Check it out! It's a great comic book.

More Evanier on the Python LPs

news from me - ARCHIVESHere's Mark's original post with Amazon links to all the new CD versions of Python LPs.

Evanier on the Monty Python records

news from Mark Evanier has some interesting tidbits on the Python LPs, of which I owned a few: "We don't think of the Python guys as audio/record comedians but there was a time when some did, at least in Los Angeles. The first few Python records got to L.A. at least a year and a half before the Monty Python's Flying Circus show appeared on the local PBS outlet...and this was a year after the PBS stations in other cities were running them. We had a couple of record shops in Southern California that imported Another Monty Python Record and Monty Python's Previous Record and copies just flew off the shelves. Some were even purchased, taken home and played. I had friends who fell in love with the 'Spam' routine and began chanting its tune incessantly, long before they ever actually saw it performed or even knew it had started as a sketch on a TV programme."


At DIAL B for BLOG Robby is acting like it may be over soon... no! Please! Check out the message board for clues...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

This week's comics haul

I ran to Oxford Comics in Atlanta today at lunch time and picked up:

- Stan Lee Meets Doctor Strange, with stories by Stan Lee and Alan Davis, and Bendis and Mark Bagley. Plus a story from 1972. Cool!

- Red Prophet: Tales of Alvin Maker
by Orson Scott Card (adapted). This is the first in the Marvel/Dabel Brothers collaboration, and this reprints under the Marvel banner two previous stories. I know nothing about the storyline but I'm a sucker for westerns.

- The Escapists #4/6, continuing the great series about the new creators behind the classic superhero comics.

- The Vault of Michael Allred #1. This is a strange compendium of art, scrapbooks, and tons of information by one of my favorite comic artists. "Rarities! Sketches! Interviews! Insights! Flip Action Corners!"

- Fables Special Edition #1, a 25c book that Oxford was giving away for free, introducing the ongoing series I have never read. We'll see if it works!

What did you get?

Garry Trudeau launches blog for soldiers in Iraq

New York Daily News - Home - David Hinckley: 'Doonesbury's blog of war: "It might seem mildly ironic that some of the most relentless, penetrating and sobering commentary about the effect of the Iraqi war on flesh-and-blood soldiers has come in a comic strip.

On the other hand, it wouldn't surprise anyone who has followed Garry Trudeau's 'Doonesbury.' Trudeau has always seen the strip as a stealth media missile, a way to slip some truth into the glass that washes things down with a splash of humor.

If that sounds difficult, it is. Equally difficult, Trudeau has managed something many war supporters maintain is not possible: taking the side of the troops who are fighting the war while consistently lampooning those who got them into it.

Now he has taken a further step, using his Web site to launch a military weblog, or milblog, called The Sandbox. It's a forum for soldiers, family and spouses to kick around 'the unclassified details of deployment - the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd.'"

Monday, October 09, 2006


TBS recently had one of those TV specials with funny ads, domestic and foreign. They now have a website where you can watch 'em all, and more. Including this top rated spot... hilarious!

Luckovich on CNN

The Daily Cartoonist has the transcript: "Mike Luckovich was on CNN’s American Morning on Friday Oct 6th to promote his news book - Four More Wars. I’ve posted the segment transcript below." Check it out via the link.

TV.com: Sci Fi expands Stan Lee's Superhero show

TV.com: Sci Fi expands Superhero: "Sci Fi Channel has ordered an expanded second season of the reality series Who Wants to Be a Superhero? The second season will include 10 episodes rather than the first's six.

The show follows hopeful regular folks who create a super alter-ego and attempt to woo the favor of Marvel Comics founder Stan Lee with their character. The winner gets to be the star of a comic book.

The first season of Who Wants to Be a Superhero? averaged 1.5 million total viewers a week.

'The show garnered great reviews, attracted a record-breaking number of younger viewers to the channel, and held its own against some very stiff competition on Thursday nights,' said Mark Stern, Sci Fi's executive vice president of original programming."

"Heroes" gets full season on NBC

Blog@Newsarama - TV Bits: "NBC’s superhero drama Heroes is the first new series to get picked up for a full season. The network ordered nine additional episodes, bringing the total to 22."

TV Week: Shatner gets another gig

TV Week: "Besides starring in the ABC drama 'Boston Legal,' William Shatner is getting additional duties: The Emmy winner will also host the new trivia game show 'Show Me the Money' for the network.
Story continues below...

'Money' is being developed by Endemol USA, the same company that produces NBC's 'Deal or No Deal.' A premiere date has not been announced.

'Bill was the guy we wanted from day one to host 'Show Me the Money,'' said David Goldberg, president of Endemol USA. 'More than anything, we were looking for a great showman, and in addition to being an instantly recognizable entertainer to audiences of all ages, Bill's got a naturally warm and witty presence that is simply perfect for the material.'"

TV Season Update--some surprises, no big breakthroughs

In TV Land This Season, a Few Happy Surprises but No Breakthrough Hits - New York Times: "Three weeks into the new network television season, three new shows are giving early signs of being winners: “Heroes” on NBC, “Jericho” on CBS and “Ugly Betty” on ABC. And some scheduling moves have worked brilliantly, like ABC’s shift of “Grey’s Anatomy,” now television’s hottest show, to Thursday night.

But on the down side for the networks, several new shows have already been dropped from schedules and many new series have wasted huge audiences from the hit shows that precede them. Those include three new entries on ABC, which still has reason to worry that it may never find companion shows to capitalize on three smash hits — “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Desperate Housewives” and “Lost” — it introduced two years ago.

One ABC hopeful, “Six Degrees,” has been driving viewers away in thundering herds, bleeding more than 13 million viewers from “Grey’s Anatomy” last week."

Tucker's Take on "The Illusionist"

The Illusionist

with Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, & Jessica Biel.

This is a gorgeous, extremely artful presentation of a rather pedestrian story. If you can't figure out what's going on, you haven't seen many movies nor read many books. Nonetheless, the cast is superb (Biel is beautiful and capable; Norton is intense and mysterious, and Giamatti, of whom to be truthful I would have thought I would begin to tire, continues to mine nuanced depth from a solid base of now-familiar mannerisms). The setting is turn-of-the-century Vienna, and the art direction is sumptuous -- like any period piece worth its weight, half the fun is in transporting oneself to another time and place and the movie delivers nicely. One might complain that there's an over abundance of sienna-tinting involved, but I felt it worked well. If you have the slightest interest in magic and implied mysticism, you'll probably enjoy this movie simply on those merits, but even if not, I would recommend this for its solid acting and atmosphere.

Lyle Tucker

Friday, October 06, 2006

Pulse: Bizarre crossover: Marvel and the Guiding Light?

Comicon.com's Pulse is reporting an interesting crossover:Returns from the dead. Evil twins. Secret from the past. Super-powers. These are all staples of the comic book world and now the soap opera world, too! Wait, even the super-powers, you ask? Why yes, and Marvel has partnered with the daytime drama Guiding Light to prove it!

In the first-ever comic-soap crossover, Marvel's mightiest heroes (and villains) meet some of daytime drama's steamiest characters. The Avengers and their deadly foes descend on Guiding Light's city of Springfield to determine if a new super-powered being is friend or foe! Appearing in comics as an 8-page back-up beginning 10/26 and written by soap-and-comic scribe Jim McCann, this adventure will actually be the second appearance of this new super-powered character. The debut and origin of Springfield’s first costumed crime-fighter will be told on air on the November 1st episode of Guiding Light. As an added bonus, the episode will feature many “Easter eggs” for sharp-eyed Marvel fans, so be on the lookout!

Pulse: Vaughan on the good Doctor

Jennifer Contino reports on Brian Vaughan's new Doctor Strange series--whose first issue I thoroughly enjoyed this week.

CBR: Steven Grant on Steranko & Krigstein

Comic Book Resources hosts Steven Grant's weekly column, which this week includes a brief discussion of the groundbreaking work of Steranko and Bernie Krigstein (with a few examples to drool over): While "doing some research this past week on an unrelated project, I ended up looking at some comics pages I hadn't seen in a long time, from Jim Steranko and Bernie Krigstein, and I still find them as surprising as the first time I saw them. Of the two, Krigstein is actually the more original and idiosyncratic, but to some extent that also makes him the less significant of the two in the broader scope of comics art; being more of a dramatist in the theatrical sense than a storyteller in the comics sense, his was a style few others could aspire to. Krigstein stands as a solitary island in a vast sea, while Steranko remains a life raft. Unlike Steranko, Krigstein shares one trait with the great majority of American comics artists: much of his work, especially work produced for companies other than EC (which somewhat encouraged experimentation) and Atlas (which doesn't seem to have cared as long as publishable pages arrives), he was in the position much of his career of having to dumb down his work to editorial specifications."

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Whoa! 300 Trailer is up...and looks great

Apple - Trailers - 300 - HD: "Based on the epic graphic novel by Frank Miller, 300 is a ferocious retelling of the ancient Battle of Thermopylae in which King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and 300 Spartans fought to the death against Xerxes and his massive Persian army. Facing insurmountable odds, their valor and sacrifice inspire all of Greece to unite."

AJC: Discovery suggests plenty of planets

Discovery suggests plenty of planets | ajc.com: "NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has detected a 'bonanza' of planets orbiting distant stars near the center of the Milky Way, a discovery scientists say provides the strongest evidence yet that our own galaxy contains billions of worlds, ranging from Jupiter-sized gas giants to rocky planets the size of Earth.

Astronomers and others have lamented the International Astronomical Union's recent 'demotion' of Pluto to the status of dwarf planet, but the latest evidence suggests that planets outside the solar system are a dime a dozen.

'This discovery allows us to say with confidence that there are literally billions of planets in our galaxy,' says Mario Livio of the Space Telescope Science Institute.

The report in the current issue of the British journal Nature officially claims the discovery of just seven new planets and nine 'planet candidates,' bringing the total number of planets now known outside the solar system to more than 200.

But the 'sample' of the stars in galactic center made with the space telescope is so small —- a narrow window of sky less than 2 percent of the area of the full moon —- and yet so richly populated with planets that the astronomers say it suggests that they may be as many as 6 billion Jupiter-sized planets in the Milky Way and billion of others of varying sizes."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Comics this week

I picked up:

- Agents of Atlas #3 of 6... enjoying this miniseries featuring Atlas heroes of the 50s.

- Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #13... the only Spidey book I'm reading regularly.

- Amazing Spider-Girl #0... in her relaunch she picks up a revision of the classic Amazing Spider-Man logo. This is just a catch up to prepare for the relaunch #1.

- Mystery in Space #2... I'll give this another issue. Enjoyed the first okay and am a sucker for sci fi comics.

- Doctor Strange: The Oath #1 of 5... Doc is one of my favorite characters, since the Ditko days. This looks to be a faithful Ditko-esque version. We'll see.

What did you get?

EW: First Look! Richard Donner's new Superman comic

Entertainment Weekly's EW.com | Photo Gallery: First Look! Richard Donner's new Superman comic: "It's The Man of Steel versus...The Man! For Action Comics: Last Son — in which Supes goes all Mother Hen after the Feds discover a new Kryptonian boy on Earth — the folks at DC Comics have recruited Richard Donner, director of 1978's Superman, to join forces with writer/onetime Donner assistant Geoff Johns and artist Adam Kubert. ''We brought [Superman] into what’s going on in the world today,'' says Donner, hinting at the comic's waft of government skepticism. ''We’re all involved in the world today, and issues that permeate our minds maybe poke their little noses up once in a while.''

But that isn't the only saga at play here. For Donner, it's also a chance to confront old ghosts harking back to the time when Superman II producers unceremoniously booted him off the 1980 sequel. ''I was thunderstruck,'' says Donner, before noting, ''I did ban them from the set. By my standards, they cared more about the process of money than the integrity of Superman.'' He'll get the last word when his original vision — cobbled together using his old footage as well as screen tests — is released on DVD Nov. 28 as Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut. In the meantime, he's giving EW an exclusive peek at his first foray back into the Super-dome, the premiere issue of Last Son."

Check it out!

AZ Rep: Chabon's novel and NYT Mag series--more details

Author mines Jewish history: "If you're waiting for the next novel by Michael Chabon, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, you may be looking in the wrong place.

Previously scheduled for publication this month, The Yiddish Policemen's Union is described as a thriller set in an alternate world where a Jewish homeland was set up, not in Palestine, but in Alaska - as per an actual proposal floated by the Roosevelt administration in 1939.

That novel has been postponed until May, to give Chabon time for one more rewrite. But in the meantime, he's working on a serial novel to be published in the New York Times Magazine starting in January. Working title: Jews With Swords. Chabon, who will give a 'reading with commentary' on Saturday sponsored by Arizona State University's Piper Center for Creative Writing, has described the serial as a 'swashbuckling adventure story set around the year 1000.' "

: More on The Visionary--Ira Schnapp!

DIAL B for BLOG picks back up on the fascinating series about DC's logo king, with a guest post by Mike Tiefenbacher. Check out all six parts of this fascinating series!

Dick Tracy celebrates 75 years today

Dick Tracy celebrates 75 years today » The Daily Cartoonist has links to all of today's homages: "Today marks 75 years since Dick Tracy appeared on the comics pages. Several cartoonist are paying tribute. Here is a list of features that I’ve been able to find that mention, display or otherwise give homage to Chester Gould’s creation."

CT: Stan Lee still at it

Metromix: Chicago Tribune: Nothing cartoonish about Stan Lee's comic book worlds: "Though he may not wear tights, haul gargantuan boulders on his shoulders or possess the ability to fly, Stan Lee is a superhero nonetheless: the father of an entire superhero race.

The co-creator of the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, the Mighty Thor, Daredevil, Doctor Strange and Spider-Man, Lee -- who turns 84 in December -- has earned the right to rest on his Marvel Comics laurels. But with the DVD release this week of 'X-Men: The Last Stand' and 'X-Men Trilogy' (Fox Home Entertainment, $29.98 and $44.98), Lee sounds as lean and hungry as a young Peter Parker chasing down deadlines at the Daily Bugle."

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

THE BEAT: When they were kings

THE BEAT - When they were kings: Heidi has the audio to the MMMS floppy record (and yes, I belonged.)

K&C Website: Sneak Peek at Chabon's Next

The Amazing Website of Kavalier & Clay - News: "Michael Chabon fans waiting for his next novel, The Yiddish Policeman's Union, can now get a sneak peek at the novel in the latest issue of the Virginia Quarterly Review.

'We're not permitted to post the excerpt online (sorry), but anyone who subscribes can get instant access to the piece online (while they wait for their print issue to arrive),' editor Ted Genoways said via e-mail.

Alternatively, you can also order a single copy of the issue for $11.

Chabon is also scheduled to read the excerpt, titled 'The King in Black,' at the Wisconsin Book Festival in Madison, Wisconsin on Oct. 19, Genoways said.

'Not only will Michael be reading, but we're also sponsoring a conversation between Chris Ware and Marjane Satrapi, and reading by Dan Chaon (who Michael chose for the O. Henry in 2001),' Genoways said.

The Yiddish Policemen's Union is scheduled to hit bookstores in May 2007.

'And in case anyone is worried. The new novel is fantastic,' Genoways said. 'You won't be disappointed.'

In his intro to the quarterly, Genoways previews Chabon's piece.

'More than a mere work of fiction, the novel is a counterfactual experiment imagining a different outcome for post-Holocaust Jews.'

'It is the year 2000,' Chabon explains in the intro, 'but the world is not as we now know it. Israel does not exist, and Alaska is not-quite-Alaska.'

Genoways wraps up, saying, 'The novel--and excerpt published here--is, at heart, a great detective story in the style of Raymond Chandler. (Chabon's title for the excerpt is a winking reference to Chandler's story 'The King in Yellow.') Nevertheless, the ghost of the Holocaust pervades.'"

Hitchcock's Cameos

They're all here (h/t Evanier):

PW Debuts Comics Bestseller list

PW Debuts Comics Bestseller list - Publishers Weekly: "In this week's issue, Publishers Weekly launches a monthly bestseller list for comics and graphic novels. The list is compiled from data from bookstores and comics shops and will appear in the first issue of each month."

Of course, #1-9 are manga, and #10 is the Halo game spinoff from Marvel, which has nothing to do with the kinda comics I like... sigh...

PubWeekly: E-Comics on Sony's E-Reader

E-Comics on Sony's E-Reader - Publishers Weekly reports: "Senior New York publishing executives were out in force last week at the official launch of the Sony Reader, the latest entry in the development of a secure handheld device for the convenient digital distribution of print content. The likes of HarperCollins CEO Jane Friedman, Random House Ventures president Richard Sarnoff and Penguin USA president David Shanks were at the W Hotel, where Sony announced that Borders Books and Music will be the exclusive holiday retailer for the device, selling the Sony Reader in 300 Borders stores, outfitted especially to sell them.

Sony v-p Ron Hawkins said Sony's publishing partners have made about 10,000 titles available to buy and download to the device, including more than a dozen comics titles, all of them either Tokyopop original manga or Harlequin’s romance manga titles. While comics are not the focus of the device, Hawkins and every speaker at the presentation were careful to mention 'graphic novels' very loudly at every opportunity. These days comics manage to get some sort of acknowledgment even when they're a throw-in item.

The new device is small (5'x7'), half an inch thick, weighs about 9 ounces and can hold approximately 80 full-text books that can be purchased online through Sony's proprietary Connect Store. The device will cost $350, and Sony is hoping to lure consumers by offering a $50 credit toward the purchase of e-books. The black and white reading device can also be used to view .jpgs and Adobe documents and can be used to download Sony-selected RSS feeds and blog content for free."

I'm not sure I get it. 350 bucks, black and white, 5 x 7... this feels like the e-book readers that flopped a few years ago. Am I missing something?

Monday, October 02, 2006

Tucker's Take on THE RUINS

A book review by Lyle Tucker:
THE RUINS, a novel by Scott Smith (author of A SIMPLE PLAN, which was
adapted as a movie with Billy Bob Thorton, John Cusack, and,
I think, Ashley Judd).

*Extremely* intense and engaging horror novel about a Mexican
vacation gone wrong.

Let me quote the back of the book by Stephen King:

"No quietly building, Ruth Rendell-style suspense here; Smith
intends to scare the bejabbers out of you, and succeeds. There
are no chapters and no cutaways -- THE RUINS is your basic
long scream of horror. It does for Mexican vacations what JAWS
did for New England beaches..."

Further quoting from USA TODAY: "If you love ABC's "Lost" and
the novels of Stephen King and Thomas Harris, you'll love this

Despite a lame beginning, once the book shifts gears, and it
doesn't take long, it is gripping all the way through. Smith
knows his characters inside and out, and knows how to pace
his horror effectively. Whereas at first I thought the central
core of the horror was a lame choice, and while there are a
few small holes you'll question afterwards, by and large he
pulls it off with bravura characterization and description. I
was fairly quickly won over. I had to read the book in one

Highly recommended.

[Lyle has good taste, usually. This is on my list!]

Another Classic TV Bit

H/T Evanier... it's the classic Thanksgiving episode from WKRP in Cincinnati!

Stephen King on the Writing Life

The Writing Life by Stephen King, from washingtonpost.com: "There's a mystery about creative writing, but it's a boring mystery unless you're interested in this one small animal, sometimes quite vicious, that makes its home in the bushes. It's a scruffy little thing with fleas and often smells of whatever nasty mess it's been rolling in. It can never be more than semi-domesticated and isn't exactly known for its loyalty. I'll speak more of this beast -- to which the Greeks gave the comically noble name musa , which means song -- later, but in the meantime, believe me when I say there's little mystery or tragic romance about the rest of it, which is why they never show the working part in movies about writers, only the drinking, carousing and heroic puking in the gutter by the dawn's early light.

Dig this: The so-called 'writing life' is basically sitting on your ass."

Evanier on the Dick Van Dyke Show

news from me: "My all-time favorite TV situation comedy is The Dick Van Dyke Show and one of my favorite episodes (I have many) is 'Coast-to-Coast Big Mouth,' which was written by Sam Persky and Bill Denoff, and which originally aired on September 15, 1965 as the opener of the show's fifth and final season. It was the second one they filmed that season. Obviously, they knew how wonderful it was and moved it to the kick-off position.

You've all seen it but here's the set-up, just to remind you: Laura Petrie goes on TV game show. Unctuous host tricks her into blurting out that megastar (with mega-ego) Alan Brady wears a hairpiece and is, ergo, bald. Rob and Laura are paralyzed with fear that the vain Brady will not only fire Rob but perhaps also do physical damage to him and/or his loose-lipped spouse. Alan is also in a bad mood because he injured his foot. Laura decides to go to Alan's office in one of her Jackie Kennedy outfits and apologize and hope that he will forgive her and not kill them too much."

Check out his whole post, then watch the video: