Saturday, April 2, 2011

Why I love Joe Lansdale's writing

If you already read Lansdale, then you know what I'm talking about, and you can slide on by--unless, of course, you don't have a copy yet of Hyenas. If that's the case, stay a minute.

Subterranean Press, a publisher whose fine books I love, recently put out a limited edition of Lansdale's novella, Hyenas. It features two of Lansdale's most successful characters, Hap Collins and Leonard Pine. The Hap and Leonard books are always great, and one of the biggest reasons is Lansdale's voice. For an example, go here. I'll wait.

Most folks have one of two reactions to a chapter excerpt like this one. The first is, "WTF? Why would I want to read this garbage?" If you're one of those folks, I'm sorry, and this is definitely not for you. The second, more common (at least among my friends) response is a combination of "Wow!" and laughing out loud, even if you're alone.

I'm definitely in the second camp. Lansdale is so prolific and has so many different editions of various works in print that I'm not at all willing to claim I've read everything he's written, but I sure have read a lot of it. He's written in pretty much every genre, and though his voice is strong, it's not always the same. Most of his work exposes the dark side of life, but often you laugh at what you see. No matter what genre Lansdale is working in, however, he's excellent.

If you don't already know Lansdale, pick up Hyenas, then grab the newest Hap and Leonard novel, Devil Red, and then keep the good times rolling with more of his work. You'll be glad you did.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Are you a marketing person who’d like a new job?

My company, Principled Technologies, is looking to hire a marketing person whose job would be to raise the profile and value of the proof points we produce for our clients--and also the profile of PT itself. In addition, the person might also help market my books and raise the profiles of some staff members.

We’re looking for someone who is high-energy, positive, skilled in both traditional and newer forms of marketing, a self-starter, and able to work in a rapidly changing and highly unusual corporate environment. The ideal candidate would have multiple years of experience, be a good writer, and have significant knowledge of useful software tools of the trade.

If you’re interested, drop me a line via the form on my contact page. As I’ve said before, PT is the best in the world at what it does and a great place to work.

(No, this is not an April Fool's joke.)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Meet Diego Chan

He's the protagonist of the original novelette of mine that will appear this summer in the anthology, The Wild Side, that I'm editing. Publisher Toni quite reasonably wants you all to have to buy the book to read his story--so do I!--but I'm confident she wouldn't mind me sharing with you a tiny, tiny taste of the first scene of the first story of a character with whom I hope to spend a lot of time over the next several years.

The Long Dark Night of Diego Chan

"Sam’s gone over,” the first line of the text message said.

“You said you’d help if it ever came to this,” the second continued.

“It has.”


Diego Chan kept running but reversed direction and headed back to the Super 8 that was passing for home this week. His legs carried him easily, his heart beat a steady rhythm, and his muscles moved smoothly and with power. He brushed the sweat from his eyes and thumbed a response, “Okay.” He sent it on its way through the three redirectors that would mask its origins before it reached her.

He pulled up the tracking display on his phone: five miles out, a hair over seven minutes a mile so far, over thirty-five minutes to make it back. Not good enough. He pushed harder but not so hard that anyone would notice. That wouldn’t buy him much time, but if she was right, the clock had started ticking a while ago.

The morning sun was still coming into its own when he reached the motel thirty-one minutes later.
I did say it was a tiny taste, right? For the more than twelve thousand remaining words in what I must immodestly say is a story I quite like, you will indeed have to buy the book.

Of course, when you do that, you'll get nine other urban fantasy stories you're sure to enjoy, an exclusive introduction to the collection, and afterwords to all the stories from the writers. Plus, a kick-ass Dan Dos Santos cover--and all for only $13 list, less online and at many bookstores.

You know you need to meet Diego. Give in and pre-order now.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What the heck is it?

At my birthday party, Jain (the talented artist whose 3D art you absolutely should be buying now; go here to see some of what she has on offer) gave me the following extremely cool glass object.

Click on the image to see a much larger, more detailed one.

The tubes poking from it are hollow, and the bit in the middle will spin.

I quite like this little guy. Everyone at the party did. There's just one little problem with it.

None of us knows what it is.

Oh, we all have theories, and most agree it's some sort of lab device, but no one could definitively state what it is.

Do any of you know? If so, would you please tell me?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sucker Punch

Despite all the hype around this fantasy film, I entered it with as little data as possible. I watched all the trailers, of course, because they played before other movies I went to see, but I didn't read any reviews, and I completely avoided all spoilers. I have not read the graphic novels on which they based the film. I wanted to see where the film went without burdening it with my expectations of where the plot should go.

My reactions to the movie ended up being highly mixed.

From the opening frame, I was transfixed. Visually, it is simply wonderful and compellingly watchable. I was never bored, and I never looked away from the screen. Even when the CGI turned lame, as it did too often, I wanted to see what would come next.

At the same time, the story is often just dumb. It functions on multiple levels, as is obvious from the trailers, and while its direction was never in doubt, it did offer a few small twists and turns along the way. At no point, however, was a single one of the characters an actual, believable person. Each one was a cut-out designed to move down the track of her/his part of the plot machine.

I was also deeply uncomfortable. Sucker Punch makes sure we see men at their worst, and indeed at times I was embarrassed to be a man because of all of the horrific things members of my gender have done to women.

I found myself further disturbed that this movie about multiple forms of exploitation of women so blatantly exploited the sexuality of its actresses. If there was a chance to show cleavage or thick lips or something else highly sexual, the film grabbed it.

Three of us went to the movie together. One loved it, one disliked it, and I find myself highly torn on it, liking the visuals and having trouble with other parts, but having to admit that I watched every second of it raptly. Overall, I have to recommend you see it if only so that you can debate it with friends who disagree with your take on it--as surely some will.

Monday, March 28, 2011


This Hillsborough, NC restaurant has been making waves in foodie circles for quite some time, but I've never before managed to get there. The other night, I finally did.

Its chef and owner, Aaron Vandemark, was a nominee for the James Beard award for Best Chef: Southeast this year. After the meal we had there, I'm convinced he deserves this nomination.

We sampled a significant portion of the menu, and every single dish was a winner. A bruschetta with Carolina Moon cheese, maple bacon, a fried egg, and arugula was a revelation, a breakfast I'd eat on any day. The carpaccio was thicker than normal and enriched with shaved mushrooms. The lamb ragu featured chunks of fried green tomatoes, an amazingly good combination. The grilled pork chop melted in your mouth and left behind a smoky, wonderful aftertaste. The simmered collards that came with it were, to my pleasant surprise, wonderful. I'm not at all a fan of collards, but I'd eat these with any dinner. Both desserts on the menu, a chocolate cake and a vanilla ice cream, were delicious.

Panciuto's Web site talks about the fusion of Italian dishes with a southern sensibility, and the food delivers perfectly on that mixed heritage. Added delights include their local sourcing--they source almost 90 percent of the ingredients from area farmers--and their homemade approach; they make everything in the meal from scratch.

I regret not going to Panciuto years ago, but it's definitely now on my list of the best places to eat in this area.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The King's Speech

I know, I know: This film is so yesterday that it's almost out on DVD. What am I doing writing about it now?

Various trips and schedule conflicts meant that I missed it when my friends went to see it. I could have waited for the DVD release, which I will definitely buy, but I really wanted to watch it in a theater. Friday night, the opportunity presented itself, so I headed over to the one last local cinema that was still playing it.

With all the hype and awards around The King's Speech, and with such wonderful lead actors, I expected to like it. I didn't.

I loved it, absolutely adored the movie.

This film was as close to perfect as anything I've seen on the big screen in years. The script hewed closely to honesty while developing the difficult and complex relationship between the leads. The performances were broad only when the characters would have been acting broadly and otherwise were perfectly nuanced. The big three of the movie--Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and Helena Bonham Carter--nailed every moment they were on screen.

If by some miracle you don't know anything about this movie, I don't want to give away any more. If you've followed it, I can't add anything about it that you won't already have read.

Save this: My recommendation that you see it, buy the DVD, and generally support this sort of filmmaking. After reporting again and again on movies that required me to turn off my brain, it's a refreshing pleasure to get to recommend one that rewards as much engagement as you are willing to give it.

As far as I'm concerned, it deserved its Best Picture Oscar.


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