Saturday, January 31, 2009
Today's Pick (part uno): We got sidetracked today by many things, but the most entertaining was watching V for Vendetta, the movie based on Alan Moore's graphic novel. Stylish, literate, violent, politically powerful, thought provoking. Filled with great actors, marvelous action, brilliant effects and direction and editing. Highly recommended.
And then, I changed out the old vinyl albums on the wall. I have a set of six album frames and I periodically change out the albums in them. Recently, they held Christmas records. Today, I put some soundtracks by pop bands: Toto's Dune, Queen's Flash Gordon, Tangerine Dream's Legend, Pat Matheny/David Bowie's The Falcon and the Snowman, Giorgio Moroder (and various artists) Metropolis, and Queen's A Kind of Magic (music from Highlander and Iron Eagle).
Today's Pick (part duex): I put an old ELO album on the turntable in Nathan's room: Time. As close as I can tell, it's a concept album about a man from the 1980s sent to 2095, a media/news-saturated era, and despite the wonders, the moon flights and robot loves, all he wants to to get back home. Sonme great operatic/electronic rock and roll, and one of my all-time favorite albums. It ends with the upbeat and rollicking "Hold on Tight to Your Dream": "When you see the shadows falling, when you hear that cold wind calling, Hold on tight to your dream."
Today's Word: Dream.
Friday, January 30, 2009
No story. No real "pick of the day" that you can rush to Amazon and purchase. But here's a really good pilot for a well-written and somewhat eerie web series about life after the end of the world. I found it through John Rogers. It's the word of the day (a pretty good one, I think) and it's absolutely free entertainment. Enjoy The Remnants:
The Remnants from John August on Vimeo.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
I just posted the latest chapter in my ongoing 366 Days project. It's Chapter 13 in the story, "Life and Death in the Year of the Comet," and it reintroduces a favorite character of mine. She'll show up again as the tale continues. Whether or not you've been following it, you might get something out of this segment. Consider it Today's Story.
Today's Pick: Luc Besson. Yes, I know, that's a person, not a product. But he's a talented screenwriter and director, and just this evening, I was watching his Transporter 2 before I headed to the cafe. He's of course the creator of The Professional and The Fifth Element, as well as Arthur and The Invisibles and many more. He wrote the new movie, Taken, starring Liam Neeson.
Today's Word: Tempus Fugit
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Today's Pick: Serenity. A coworker asked me if it was any good. I nodded vigorously. You don't have to have seen the Firefly TV series to "get" it, but if you have seen Firefly, then it will have an even bigger impact on you emotionally. So okay, a double pick:
Firefly (and Serenity, which is the sequel to the series and also the name of the ship featured in the series and movie) is the story of Malcolm Reynolds, a man of conscience who was on the losing side of a civil war in deep space. Now he just tries to get by running cargo among the rim worlds. Until River and Simon Tam fall into his lap one day, on the run from the central government. Somebody did something to River's brain, turning her into a weapon and taking her sanity. The show stars Nathan Fillion (soon to appear in a new series, Castle, on ABC). Adam Baldwin (now featured on Chuck), Summer Glau (the teen Terminator on Fox's Sarah Conner Chronicles), Gina Torres (a familiar face on various series including Criminal Minds and Eli Stone), Jewel Staite (most recently seen on Stargate Atlantis), Ron Glass (Dirty Sexy Money, Barney Miller), Sean Maher (various small roles), Alan Tudyk (CSI, Knocked Up, Dodge Ball), and Morena Baccarin (Also recently a regular on Stargate SG1). Here's the kicker: Created by Joss Whedon (Buffy, Angel, Dr. Horrible, and the upcoming Dollhouse). SEE IT. Better yet, OWN IT.
Today's Word: Serenity.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Today's Word: revenant.
Update: The Frak Pak is no more. It has ceased to be. It is an ex-Frak Pak. Apparently, someone told Col. Sanders what the word meant. It is now the "You can't say that word on TV" sweepstakes. See here.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Today's Pick: Saving Grace. Starring Holly Hunter, featuring the story of a hell-on-wheels cop who blames herself for her sister's death in the Oklahoma City bombing (it's a long story, but I'll tell it to you if you want to hear it), who gets regular visits from the Earl "the last chance angel." We became fans last season. Just got the chance to view the original pilot tonight. New season starts March 2 on TNT.
Today's Word: Redemption.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
And I'm thinking about Books Alive! 2009.
The event is Saturday, Feb. 7, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Gulf Coast Community College. Most of the sessions take place in the classrooms ringing the second floor, with book sales in the main conference room. Admission is FREE. There's a "literary luncheon" at noon in the cafeteria, which is $20 a plate, with a keynote speaker.
I will be introducing my friend Janis Owens who will team once again with Michael Morris to discuss Southern storytelling. They have two sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
Last year, I had to leave early because we were trying to get to Jay Hospital to see Grandma Massey. It was a troubled day for all of us in my family for one reason or another. But we got to the hospital and spent some time with her, and that's what's important.
This year, I may have to leave early again. We will have visitors at our house that weekend (Debra's sister and her family), and we planned to go to the Mardi Gras parade in Panama City, which starts at 3 p.m. Meaning we'll want to get a spot along the street by 2 or 2:30 at the latest.
Add to this that Jessi will have a district choral event that morning at Gulf Beach Baptist Church, and we will be spread thin at the very least. We have some transportation logistics to figure out.
But back to Books Alive. I plan to bring copies of CITY LIMITS volume 2, as well as Volume 1 and a few other books. But I don't expect that to be the draw. If you like books or writing then you should really try to make it out, as there are so many different kinds of writers involved that there's bound to be a topic you're interested in. Check out the link above for specifics on the featured guest writers who will lead sessions, as well as the local authors who will attend to sell their books in the conference room.
No pick or word today. Back to that tomorrow.
Meanwhile, check out my blog (which is a reprint of my Sunday column today): Navel gazing in a holographic universe.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Anna Faris is HIGH-larious.
Today's Story: Catch up on the latest chapters in my ongoing tale, "Life and Death in the Year of the Comet." If you check later this evening, a new chapter will be up and tell you all about Sid Viscous.
Today's Word: Replicant
Friday, January 23, 2009
I also spent a half-hour downtown talking to my friend Matty Jankowski, a true philosopher and artist, who wanted to talk about "Nothing." It's the title of his installation on display in the breezeway of the Sherman Arcade building. I have a video of the talk, which I'll post on Monday and link to here as well. Meanwhile, check this photo for a glimpse of the man and his wonderful madness. Matty also showed me two pieces he's showing at the Gallery Above's second annual Heartbeats exhibit.
Last February, he printed and framed a photo of Marisa with a heart on her shirt as part of the show. She signed it with a "shout out" to Tony. He brought it to me for her vigil, and he sat among us through the evening, and told me to keep the portrait. It's on top of a cabinet in our living room, and I thank him often when I look at it. I look at it several times a day.
Today's Pick: Nothing. (Or rather, Not for Nothing.)
Todays' Word: Friend.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
So KFC and Sci-Fi Channel have teamed up to offer the FRAK PAK sweepstakes. I laughed so hard I started coughing, then I coughed so hard I nearly threw up, then more laughing. Don't they know what FRAK means? Didn't they read my word of the day for 01/13/09? Well, admittedly, probably not. But still ...
Can you imagine the glee that crossed the producers' faces when they signed off on this licensing agreement? "Hell, yeah, give me one o' those Frak Paks! Bet it's finger-lickin' good, too!"
So, anyway. I'm going to repeat myself. Frak is officially the word of the day again.
(And my thanks to the nerd-site Topless Robot for directing me at this.)
So say we all.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
(Below is an Associated Press photo of the Obamanator in a pack of brain-hungry fiends. Just look at them reaching for him. I thought for sure that one woman was about to bite him, but thank goodness he was able to reach his laser samurai sword and clear enough room to jetpack out of there!)
Todays' Pick: World War Z, which, despite having been written by Mel Brooks' son, is not the least bit funny. After reading it, I was in a psychotic state for several weeks, seeing zombies everywhere, and making plans for my family's survival. I'm only half kidding. You really must read this book if you like scary stories and verisimilitude -- and being prepared.
Today's Word: Augur. As in "In-augur-ation."
Monday, January 19, 2009
Two graphic novels written by Geoff Johns: Justice Society of America: Thy Kingdom Come (which is actually part three of an ongoing saga) and Green Lantern: Secret Origin, both from the Bay County Public Library. Both competently written, the first so thick with continuity explanations that only a True Believer could enjoy it. Fortunately, that's me. In both cases, the art was excellent. I particularly liked how the company brought in the great Jerry Ordway to pencil the portions of the JSA story that brought back characters from the 1980s.
Also, I've been reading the first several chapters of Nuclear Jellyfish, the upcoming new release from Tim Dorsey, which chronicles the latest misadventures of my favorite insane serial killer, Serge, and his overly medicated cohort Coleman. A must-read. Seriously. I can't be held responsible for what Serge might do if you don't.
Today's Word: Bibliophilia.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
I spent some time watching episodes of Highlander (the TV series) and the documentaries and other extras on the discs. You may recall the show, with Adrian Paul as Duncan McLeod, the immortal swordsman. It was a typical 1990s actioner, with mystical elements and historical flashbacks (same thing you'd have seen on Forever Knight, The Immortal, and later on Angel and New Amsterdam). But this one had the copyright on those sequences, having lifted the idea directly from the original Highlander movie. The swordplay was always well choreographed, the flashbacks full of meaning, the interplay of characters more natural as the series progressed. It is, of course, Today's Pick:
Also visited the library, where I picked up a few graphic novels. I'll fill you in on them later, after I've had a chance to read'em. Yesterday, went to Goodwill and picked up a couple of books (all books were half price yesterday) - got Star Wars: Dark Empire (a graphic novel), and Battlestar Galactica: Warhawk (a hardback written by Richard Hatch, who was the 1970s vintage Apollo on the show). Yes, once again, my taste for cheesy sci-fi wins the day.
Today's Word: Cheese.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
I arrived at the church, a converted house by a pond, nestled off the roads among pine trees at 6:30 and was directed to a table to set up. The reception was warm and friendly. Paul McAuliffe and Chris Arrant and his wife Melissa welcomed me. People began arriving soon, and snacking from the refreshment table. It was good to see Lynn Wallace again and catch up, and I talked briefly to artist Jim Davis and took his photo.
The event began with a number of songs by Jeanine "Dr. Jazz" Normand, from Fairhope, Ala. She played jazz, boogie-woogie, blues, and more, and the crowd enjoyed her quite a bit.
I was up next. I read "A Tangled Skein," the third chapter of my novel, "Welcome to the Dawning of a New Century." I was glad to hear the laughter in all the right places, and folks seemed very pleased with the story. They asked questions after, and I talked about some of the sources of inspiration for the tale.
My friend Lynn followed up with several of the poems that will soon be published by Pottersville Press. They're the work of a lifetime, and very moving, often funny, sometimes dark. I really enjoyed his delivery and the background he gave for each one.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Admission is FREE and light refreshments will be served, free of charge.
The evening will begin with jazz piano by Jeanine "Dr. Jazz" Normand, from Fairhope, Ala.
I will be reading from my fiction work, and Lynn Wallace of Gulf Coast Community College will read selections from his original prose and poetry. Both of us will have copies of our books available for purchase at our tables.
Local artist Jim Davis' paintings will be displayed throughout the building. Jim will be showing some of his work from the 1970s and 80s that has never had a public showing before. His artwork will be available for purchase.
Rug-weaver and jewelry-maker Emily Pritchard will have her work set up for display and for sale.
The Panama City Belly Dance group will perform. Group leader Kira Burdeshaw will talk about the history and ancient traditions of the dance.
Says organizer (and flutist) Paul McAuliffe: "Last year we had a full house and hope to be just as successful this year. Please join us in our celebration of the arts!" For more information contact Paul McAuliffe at firstname.lastname@example.org
Maybe I'll see you there?
Look for photos and possibly video of the event coming in the next day or so.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Friday, Battlestar Galactica begins its final run of 10 episodes. If you need a refresher, there's an awesome pair of videos you should watch: Everything you need to know about nearly four seasons of the show in all of 13 minutes. Very funny, too.
Part 1 (Seasons 1-3):
Part 2 (Season 4 so far):
Also, to go out with a real bang, the company is auctioning just about everything from the Galactica storehouse to raise money for charity. Costumes, props, full-size vipers and raiders, even a Cyclon costume. Check it out.
Watch all 17 episodes of The Prisoner at AMC's website, and get updated info on the cable channel's 2009 miniseries event - and all-new version of the show starring Jim Caviezel as Six and Sir Ian McKellen as Two.
And by the way, I hope you're not just reading these in your email, because you're probably missing some of the links. Be sure to visit the actual blog.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
I first remember being chilled by a movie he made for Disney, which I watched one Sunday night at Uncle J.W.'s house in the late 1960s/early 1970s as the grownups played canasta and talked. My memory of it is spotty at best, as I recall the story somehow being about a vigilante freedom-fighter in old England, but I've been reading descriptions of the movie, and it sounds very little like that. Anyway, it's called The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh.
He was in lots of films: Ice Station Zebra, Braveheart, Silver Streak, and more. But I'll always remember him most fondly as the unnamed Number Six on The Prisoner. Never bending, never broken, always smarter and stronger of will than the bureaucrats and strongarm rulers who wanted to get his "information -- by hook or by crook." I may have seen the show as a child, though I don't recall watching it then. Initially only knew about it from reading Starlog magazine articles about it in the early 80s. I don't recall actually seeing the show until sometime in the late 1980s/early 90s, when CBS ran it as part of a late night mystery block that also included the first season of Forever Knight. It was surreal and cerebral for an adventure series, with layers of meaning, tiny clues throughout, and experimental storytelling techniques. Shows like Lost and Galactica owe it a great debt. I videotaped many of these episodes and watched them till the tapes wore out.
It's Today's Pick:
Imagine my delight, then, when I found a book at the local Goodwill store: The Prisoner Omnibus, a collection of three original novels based on the series, originally published in 1969 and 1970.
It's also Today's Pick:
Today's Word: How about a word from McGoohan, taken from a 1977 interview and posted at Wikipedia:
"…We're run by the Pentagon, we're run by Madison Avenue, we're run by television, and as long as we accept those things and don't revolt we'll have to go along with the stream to the eventual avalanche… As long as we go out and buy stuff, we're at their mercy. We're at the mercy of the advertiser and of course there are certain things that we need, but a lot of the stuff that is bought is not needed…"
"…We all live in a little Village… Your village may be different from other people's villages but we are all prisoners."
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Today's Pick: Battlestar Galactica, which begins the final downhill run through its last episodes on Friday on the Sci-Fi Channel. This is not the same show you may recall from the 1970s. This is a tough, controversial, exciting, sexy, adventurous metaphor for modern America. You should be watching it. If you haven't, then here's a good place to start:
Today's Word: Frak. As demonstrated here.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Yes, I've been watching 24. It's good for getting my heart rate up. Just about too good. In the latest episode, Jack Bauer has stopped a nuclear bomb from exploding by beating it up. He's just that tough.
So have you figured out yet who the mole is in the FBI? Me neither. But this looks to be a good season. It's Today's Pick.
Today's Word: Patriot.
Today's Story: Just a little something I picked up along the way. Did you know people are posting made-up stories as "reviews" on Amazon? This one's pretty funny.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Today's Word: Pathos.
Today's Story: Life and Death in the Year of the Comet. If you've read my two most recent tales, then you know about the Comet. This is my new serialized tale at PCityLive, and I started it with two chapters in a row. Others will appear periodically as I figure out next steps in the storyline (with various freestanding flash fictions and poems in between).
Friday, January 09, 2009
ANYway. Everyone at work seems to be in one stage or another of the creeping head/chest cold. Hope it's not Captain Trips. I'm looking forward to sleeping through the night at some point in the near future. 'Til then, let's talk about:
Today's Pick: Stargate Atlantis. That's right, one of the cheesiest sci-fi action shows on TV, but tonight marks its final episode. I generally DVR these and watch them in bursts; that is, I watch a minute, jump ahead a few minutes, watch a few minutes. That kind of thing. But then came the final season, and the crew decided to show us what they could really do. This season's shows have broken out of the formula, and even offered an alternate reality episode that was as stylish and action-packed as anything you ever saw on TV -- and actually had repercussions in the regular timeline. Start picking this one up.
Today's Story: Let me recommend a free online web comic. Freak Angels explores the idea of what would happen if the Midwich cuckoos had grown up and changed the world. Six new pages are published each Friday. It's by Warren Ellis, which means it's not for everyone, but if you're a grownup with an ounce of imagination, you ought to take a look. The first volume of the story is even available in book form:
Today's Word: Persevere. (Hint: He was the real Superman.)
Thursday, January 08, 2009
This collection of fiction, poetry, memoirs, art, photography - and other stuff that's more difficult to categorize - features the talents of:
~Writers Peggy Willis-Aarnio, Emily Boyle, Anthony S. Buoni, S. Brady Calhoun, Louis J. Columbus, N.W. Garrett, Betty Wright Kearney, Bobbie Lowe, Jack Saunders, Nathan Simmons, Douglas R. Young, and editor Tony Simmons
~Artists Paul Brent and Bill Valle
~Photographers Debra Simmons and Ryan Yessman.
(Yes, there's a bit of a family connection in there, but I'll take quality submissions where ever I may find them.)
You can order the books directly from the printer using this handy-dandy button:
City Limits will also be available for purchase at Books Alive in February. (I won't have them in hand in time for next Friday's event at the Unitarian church.) I'll give more details on Books Alive in a later post.
That's it for today. It's got to be my Pick of the Day, and the word of the day is ... Finally.
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Today's Story: Let me point you at a friend of mine, and a neat story he posted. You should read it. And leave a comment for him to tell him I sent ya.
Today's Pick: When my kid was a kid, there was a neat little adventure show that tried to be one part Tim Burton Batman noir and one part Adam West Batman farce. Only it was about a scarlet speedster. I recently picked up the box set of the series, having not seen it in more than 10 years, and I sat down for an episode with my son (and his girlfriend). To be kind, it was not quite as we recalled it, but to be honest, we still enjoyed it quite a bit. It tried really hard, and it reminded Nathan of his oh-so-long-ago childhood. He said it has a special place in his memory in the same way I treasure classic Star Trek. I said no, that's not fair. Better to compare it to classic Battlestar Galactica, I said. Cheesy but compelling? You should check it out:
Finally, in honor of that which afflicts me, Today's Word: Hack.
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
Today's word is PATIENCE.
And my Pick of the Day is Life on Mars. I've been catching up on the Americanized version with episodes on my DVR, but I first became a fan of the original British series when it ran on BBC America. The big concept is that modernday police detective Sam Tyler is hit by a car and wakes up in 1973, with David Bowie's song playing on the eight track in his car. He may be dead, or in a coma, or maybe he's actually in the past. He tries to figure it out while working for a rotten police unit and trying to drag them into the 21st century with his modern methods and sensibilities. Highest recommendation.
Sam Tyler isn't even sure what moment he's living in. In order to make his future real, he has to make his now work.
Wow. That was almost deep.
Monday, January 05, 2009
I've been invited to read selections of my prose or poetry (I'll probably go with something from the 366 Days project). I will also have my books available for purchase.
Jeanine "Dr. Jazz" Normand, from the sister U/U Fellowship in Fairhope, AL, will start out the evening with her jazz piano. Lynn Wallace of Gulf Coast Community College will read selections of original prose and poetry, and his books will be available for purchase.
Local artist Jim Davis' paintings will be displayed throughout the building. Jim will be featuring some of his work from the 1970s and '80s that has never had a public showing before. His artwork will be available for purchase.
Rug-weaver and jewelry-maker Emily Pritchard will have her work set up for display and for sale. The Panama City Belly Dance group will perform. Group leader Kira Burdeshaw will talk about the history and ancient traditions of the dance.
Last year, I'm told, they had a full house, and I hope it will be just as successful this year. Please join us in our celebration of the arts!
For more information contact Paul McAuliffe: email@example.com
Today's Pick: I've been listening to lots of different music in recent weeks as I put together a couple of mix CDs for Twitter pals. One artist in particular has had me hooked for a while: Ben Gibbard and Death Cab for Cutie. His "Passenger Seat" will haunt me for the rest of my life.
Today's Word: Zen. (Be prepared to participate.)
Sunday, January 04, 2009
Ultimately, unsatisfying, however. I like an ambiguous ending more than most, but in this case I'd have liked to have seen something more, like a "Six Months Later" epilogue or something.
The original was a true marvel of its time, coming as it did in the early days of the Cold War, and having a message of worldwide peace. (Also using Christian symbolism in its portrayal of this saviour from beyond the heavens.)
It's my Pick of the Day.
And just for fun, click here for Today's Word.
Saturday, January 03, 2009
Today's Word: Parallax. (See "POV" above, and "perspective" below.)
Today's Pick: Gotham Central (Vol. 1): In the Line of Duty. I just picked this up today at the Bay County Public Library, which has a growing collection of graphic novels. (Look for them in the adult section by the story collections, and in the children's section in the far corner.) It's a highly realistic look at crime fighting from the street level, regular-joe's perspective, written with real grit by Rucka and Brubaker.
Spent the evening last night at Crossbridge Church, not for services, but to hear some bands perform. A storefront at a 15th Street strip mall, it is rented out as a venue on Fridays. Got to hear my son sing as lead vocalist of Not Ourselves, which includes his girlfriend Ashley Rader on keyboards and vocals, and they had their friend Giles on guitar for a couple of tunes. Have a listen right here.
Friday, January 02, 2009
Today's Word: Change.
Today's Pick: Ex Machina, a comicbook series by Brian Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, Lost TV series) and Tony Harris (Starman). I've been buying the collections, which are now up to volume seven. The art is incredible and was the hook for me (some of the collections show the photo reference-to-finished art, which you have to see to believe). But the story is the substance and reason for coming back volume after volume: Mitchell Hundred is the only superhero in a world exactly like our own, and on Sept. 11, 2001, he managed to stop the second jet from striking the World Trade Center. That's all backstory that gets revealed a little along. He's now mayor of New York City, and the politics and intrigue of that is the central storyline. You owe it to yourself to read this. It's smart, hip, controversial and thoughtful.
Thursday, January 01, 2009
The past year has been difficult for many of us, but a new year (while admittedly an imaginary demarkation) promises a fresh start. I'm taking that as my theme today and each day for the foreseeable future, by breathing fresh life into this old blog.
If you check previous entries, you'll see that this blog has been many things, mostly random. This year, it will be updated daily with all kinds of fresh content.
You see, I make my living on the Web, as the online content editor for The News Herald in Panama City, FL, where I also write a weekly column for the Lifestyle section and blog regularly. I also have an ongoing daily fiction project called 366 Days, at the PCityLive site, which I've been doing for just over five months.
This blog will carry those updates, as well as a couple of fresh features, such as journal entries, updates on how I spend my time (books, music, movies, TV, art and other distractions), a word of the day (see below), ruminations on the life of a professional writer, updates on my current publication projects (see this link to see what has gone before) and much more.
I hope you'll join in by sharing your thoughts, reactions, and favorite distractions as well.
Today's Word: Peace.
Today's Pick: One of my favorite gifts this Christmas was Tori Amos Comicbook Tattoo, a collection of leading and independent writers and artists who created short tales inspired by Amos' songs. My friend, Chris Arrant, wrote a tale inspired by "Glory of the 80s," which was illustrated by the talented Star St. Germain. The introduction is by Neil Gaiman.