Monday, August 31, 2009

Find A Girl With Faraway Eyes

My contest for "The Girl Who Played With Fire" is finally over and a winner has been chosen. The contest has taken a bit longer than expected, now that I check in on my blog and see it's been a while since I posted. In my defense, the novel is a pretty chunky 500 page opus and I have been fairly busy (though I was trying to read it quickly as per the rules clearly outlined here).

The good news for our lucky winner is that my close friends at the Farmland Public Library got it to check out (probably for me; I have gone to this nice little library for 15 years and they are beginning to know what I might want to read, a plus for small-town living) so I decided to quit reading the copy from Knopf and finish the library's (though I think I am also the first one to read it as well).

Without further ado, the winner is Rue, and as soon as she emails me her address she will receive a nice copy of Stieg Larsson's latest that was only a little bit read. For sore losers, I have some odd little "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" tattoos that Knopf sent along and I will be glad to give one to any contestant that asks.

Thanks for playing! Until later I am at

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Got To Move To The Trick Of The Beat

I have read almost 200 pages of The Girl Who Played With Fire this week, so the contest is well underway (scroll down for details). Lots of good book ideas have been submitted via email and by posting below. As the contest ends when I am finished reading this book, and the book is about 500 pages, I figure you have another week or so to enter. I am trying not to read the prize while eating or sitting on the toilet for the contest's sake.

For those who can't believe I passed on going to GenCon, the world's premiere D&D event, to talk about social media at a conference will find photographic proof here and here as well as further evidence here. As a dude who got an electric typewriter to go to college in 1984, forsaking his manual one, I still have a lot to learn, but it was nice to be asked to talk and be amongst the young hipsters who will one day snatch my job from me and leave me broken on the side of the information superhighway.

Plenty going on; until later I am at

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Long and Winding Road

Think b-movie screenwriting is easy, grasshopper? Several years ago I wrote a script I called "Hellshocked" about a group of WWII GIs forced to spend the night in a haunted church behind enemy lines. This was shot and put forth for distribution as "Black Mass." It was sold to the overseas market and did well in Japan as "The Da Vinci Curse" with footage from another already-completed film spliced in. That version came back to the U.S. as "Dead Knight" but didn't get much traction. Now that film has been cut with about 15% newly-shot footage (with another writer) featuring werewolves. Yet through it all my cameo getting machine-gunned straight up in the face has survived.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Night with the Bums

A photo from my third stop on my quest to visit six ball parks this summer, breaking my old record of five, set a few years ago in a bout of Nerd Extreme Sports. Here I am at the Traverse City Beach Bums; a ballpark that looks like an outlet mall on the outside, but the baseball is plenty enjoyable inside. Last week I visited the Richmond RiverRats as my fourth stop at historic McBride Stadium. Strangely, the former Richmond team moved to Traverse City. Even stranger, at one park they yell "Go Bums!" and the other "Go Rats!"

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Awake in the Heartland

I was sitting in the barber's chair reading TIME Magazine yesterday when I read this column from one of my film reviewer heroes, Richard Corliss, and for the first time felt compelled to write a Letter to the Editor.

Mr. Corliss,

I am a longtime fan of your work but take issue with your portrayal of Netflix in your recent article.

It is too easy to draw a parallel between the rise of Netflix and the fall of the local video store such as the one you mentioned in Manhattan. However that theory is contingent on the fact that you ever had that option to begin with.

I live in a town with the unlikely name of Farmland, Indiana, in which the closest video store is a Redbox at a McDonald's in a town ten minutes away and the closest Blockbuster is in the nearest city thirty minutes the other direction. There is also where you can find the closest movie theater (that you can't drive your car right up to the screen). I am fortunate to live on a road where the cable service runs past, connecting two towns, but many of my neighbors rely on spotty dish reception or digital rabbit ears.

Netflix is a godsend to me, a person who graduated with a film major in college (reading Film Comment voraciously at the college library), works peripherally in movies and film festivals, and yet lives in several square miles of cornfield. I am also a voracious reader and probably get a second strike for loving Amazon and my new Kindle. The proximity of a hip bookstore to my home does not bear discussion.

Those of us who live in the vast Flyover Country between our two coasts have learned to live without the instant gratification our metropolitan brethren yearn for but do still smart at those who take our cultural lifelines to task.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Me And The Girl Who Played With Fire

Not, as one might suspect, the title of my wife's autobiography but instead the new Stieg Larsson book, which astoundingly Knopf has entrusted me to give away on my blog; one of only 250 bloggers to snag one, so look sharp. Whether I might have been #249 is only speculative. Contest rules below.

Tattoo You

Every once in a while a plugola scandal wafts through the blogosphere--a blogola scandal, if you will--where somebody is blogging merrily along about how great a movie or gadget is and lo and behold it comes out that somebody might have given that something to said blogger for free, contingent of course on them blogging merrily about it.

I can promise that everything you read on here is my own two cents given freely, though loyal readers might suspect that there aren't a lot of people willing to give me freebies to blog about grassroots microcinema, obscure b-movies, old paperbacks, underground comics and zines, and the like. As Blogalicious once pointed out, I am prone to writing about "very weird and unpopular b-movies and comics"--many of which, as it happens, are my own.

That being said, I have been offered a DVD or two from time to time, though some Amazon and Netflix reviewers who have longed for my death--or at least a long incarceration in a b-movie Gitmo of some kind--might speculate that I would more likely be offered blogola to not mention their movie at all. Nonetheless I am glad to have stayed clear. The next time you see a horror or sci-fi movie getting talked about all of a sudden on all of your favorite genre blogs, you might stop and think about why. I'm just saying.

All this is a preface to the fact that Knopf emailed to ask me if I wanted to be one of only 250 bloggers to give away a free copy of The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson.

This is cool for a number of reasons. Loyal readers know I read and loved Stieg Larsson's first book, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and have pimped it mercilessly to the general reading public that I come across on the interwebs and in real life. I have nothing to gain professionally by sucking up to Stieg Larsson as Stieg Larsson is, unfortunately, dead and his books are being published posthumously.

I also liked that Knopf trusted me to give this book away and not ferret it under my pillow. Even though my name is going to be entered for a chance to win the third book for my very self to keep I have never done well in Vegas and am not holding out hope.

Even better, I get to come up with my own contest.

My first thought was that I would ask people to send in a picture of them holding a copy of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and then I would put their names in a hat and draw one at random. That wouldn't mean that they had read it, but I think they should know it exists before trying to mooch the second one off me (Knopf, actually). And I believe if they read a teensy bit they would probably get hooked like I did.

But my wife nixed that idea, saying she thought I would get a lot of weird or inappropriate photos. She was right; I had simply forgotten how many hot young things flock to my blog regularly to read about old D&D games I have played and what comics I like and what I thought about the new Star Trek movie.

So she suggested a wiser alternative. Send me a list of five good mystery/noir/thriller books. Don't send me your top five because I probably have already read them. In fact I read five pretty good books last week on vacation and can on average read four or five a month. If you happen to include a couple of Scandinavian thrillers in there I will write your name down twice as I am trying to find some more of those for myself. If you don't know what I'm talking about, here is a current list of good ones I have already read:

1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (natch).
2. The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo
3. Jar City by Arnaldur Indridason
4. The Princess of Burundi by Kjell Erickson
5. Missing by Karen Alvtegen

Yes, I know there is no Henning Mankel or Karin Fossum on this list, I haven't read their works yet and that's why I want a recommendation.

So. A list of five books. Make it worth reading or I throw your crap in the trash. Your name can go in the hat twice if you include Scandinavian authors. I will pull the name out at the end of the contest, which will be when my ass finishes reading the book for myself. Knopf didn't say I couldn't read it! So your book is slightly used by me. It's free, what do you want?

Send contest entries to Good luck!