Friday, December 30, 2011

Fave Reads of 2011

I met my challenge of reading 50 books again this year, and for those interested wanted to take a second to list my top ten favorite reads of 2011.

Embassytown by China Mieville

The Devil's Star by Jo Nesbo

Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason

Robbie's Wife by Russell Hill

The Tourist by Olen Steinhauer

The Painter of Battles by Arturo Perez-Reverte

Nobody's Angel by Jack Clark

Up in the Air by Walter Kirn

Nineteen Seventy-Four by David Peace
Bossypants by Tina Fey

And five honorable mentions:

Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan

Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell

The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto

Zombie Spaceship Wasteland by Patton Oswalt

Our Kind of Traitor by John LeCarre

This list is fairly heavy on crime, mystery, and thriller, and I admit to feeling a bit of ennui when making this out.  I'm getting an itching in my mind to read a little better, or at least smarter, for a while.  We shall see how it goes, but based on what I bought with my Amazon gift cards, I am going to try.

I have also now mastered this challenge for, unbelievably, four years in a row.  Here are my lists of favorite reads from 2010, 2009,  and the first go-round in 2008.  To maybe spice it up in 2012, I will be taking suggestions from readers.  Let me know what you think is good and I will try to mix a few new ideas.

Cracking IQ 84 by Haruki Murakami tonight!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Turn Left at Icewind Dale

My son and my brother in our traditional holiday gaming day.  Legend of Drizzt board game and Lord of the Rings soundtrack on Pandora.  Another day in nerd's paradise.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Thy Colors True of Red and White Shall E'er Exalted Be

Three generations of Ball State University grads, with seven college degrees and 36 years of service to the university between my dad, my wife, me, and my daughter.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Guitar Santa

Christmas 1987 we were newly married and broke like the Ten Commandments; that first year we bought all of our ornaments from a drugstore that was going out of business and I think we spent about 50 cents each on them. Still my favorite ornament from that time though the kids are sick of hearing this story.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Non-Team's Non-Team

So Victor Gischler is a novelist and a comic book writer and a pretty active Twitter personality (and I've followed him for so long I went out and got The Deputy for my beloved Kindle) who every once in a while lets people ask him questions over Twitter.  So I asked him what his dream Defenders line-up would be and he came back with Doctor Strange, Tigra, Valkyrie, Howard the Duck, and Juice Newton; but when I pointed out that all superhero teams should really have seven members, he tweeted back to add whatever vampires were left alive after he got done with his series Hulk vs Dracula.  Although I did not read it, I am speculating that one of my favorite 70s characters Morbius the Living Vampire is probably hanging around; as well as the rather obscure Bloodstorm, the alternate universe Storm from the Mutant X book that featured, of all things, Havok going to a parallel universe.  Dazzler, in the costume I remember her best in, fills in for Juice.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Me and Warren's Giant Head, Live from BWIFF

Skype Q&A with documentary director Warren Skeels, whose doc "Thespians" played at the Blue Whiskey Film Festival this summer, bringing back some nostalgia for me.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Things That Go Bump In The Night

Me and my Little Brother, still Colts fans but wearing disguises, Halloween 2011.  That classic Batman mask has been with me since 1966, the luchadore mask since Athens Georgia a weekend or so ago.  Trick or Treat!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Everybody's Talkin' At Me

Throwback night at my college's volleyball game had me resurrecting this jacket from the back of my dad's closet (accompanied by a Goodwill castoff shirt); a jacket I coveted back in the day and now fit in fine. Gold chain and chest hair my own. Although some observed I might have been working a little Midnight Cowboy, I was feeling somewhere between Easy Rider and Superfly; kind of an Easyfly.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Paradise Regained

Looking at a chocolate tree at the Georgia State Botanical Gardens.  Behind me is a coffee tree.  If there was a comic book tree here I could have just moved in.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Lost Files of the JLA #1-6

So I got a sketchbook and some art supplies for Father's Day and have been doodling away.  I know I can hardly draw but when I'm thinking, especially about writing projects, it's good to draw.  Oddly, my entire family has encouraged this.  I have, also rather strangely, had some drawings accepted on the Rejected By Covered art blog (with my contributions defining the blog's mission somewhat loosely) which reminded me how, as a kid, I always liked to draw the covers of comics I wanted to make.  I frequently talk about writing Suicide Squad or Secret Society of Super-Villains (mainly because I don't think anyone cares that much about them and thus one day I might actually get a chance to write them) but let's face it, the gold standard is the Justice League of America.  I have batted around a "Lost Files" fan fiction idea for a long time and decided to draw up some of the covers.  Bonus nerd points if you can identify some of these characters, and seek help immediately if you can divine what my plots were intended to be.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Turn of the Screw

If you want to know what it's like to be a 2x4, get a dental implant done.  This started with a big filling back in the 70s that broke, then I had to get a root canal that broke, then I had to get a crown that never held together, so that got pulled and then I had no bone underneath so I got a "donor" bone graft which was probably from some serial killer (you've seen the movie).  Now I've got a screw from Lowe's in there to put a tooth on top of.  It was basically put in with a socket set and tweaked up with an allen wrench.  Someone told me I should start taking this x-ray to the airport with me.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

On the Book Beat

My latest column for Pomp and Circumstantial Evidence, the magazine for the Magna Cum Murder Mystery Conference.

The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly
A lawyer working the foreclosure angle finds himself in the middle of a murder case when his client is accused of killing a banker in Michael Connelly's The Fifth Witness.

Michael Connelly is one of my favorite recent-era mystery writers and his series about police detective Harry Bosch is, despite a few low spots, a significant achievement in contemporary crime writing.  He has dabbled in a few other characters but seems to be really finding some traction with Mickey Haller, first introduced in The Lincoln Lawyer.

Like Bosch, Haller has a lot of baggage, including two ex-wives, and feels most comfortable working out of the back seat of his car.  He is also a fairly tarnished but ultimately likable character.

Connelly seems to have hit his stride with this entry, which has a neat story and compelling courtroom action.  It has been interesting to see how the characters have evolved over the last few novels as well.  I am beginning to look forward to the next Haller story almost as much as the next Bosch.

The Tourist by Olen Steinhauer
After a mission turns tragic, a spy in a top-secret branch called "The Department of Tourism" goes into semi-retirement with his new family; but soon various tightly-woven plots bring him back into the fold in Olen Steinhauer's highly enjoyable espionage thriller The Tourist.

In turns darkly funny but eminently credible, The Tourist harkens back to the best of the genre (most especially one of my favorites, Len Deighton) but the storyline is up to the minute in terms of contemporary threats and political scenarios.

Steinhauer writes in a very readable, engaging style while remaining suitably complex for the steady reader of thrillers.  Worthwhile right through the final twist.

I would have to say this is one of my favorite novels of the year to date and would recommend it to any general reader.

The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg
Murders and suicides rock a small town in Sweden, sending ripples through various families and back a generation, in Camilla Lackberg's debut mystery The Ice Princess.

Lackberg has arrived on a big wave of Scandinavian novels that made it to our shores in recent years post-Stieg Larsson, and I have enjoyed them as a change of pace from their American counterparts; typically more morose and thoughtful and tangled with family dysfunction.

But Lackberg takes something back in return from here; a glimmer of romance, as the main character--writing a book about her childhood friend's death--takes up with a handsome police detective, a departure from the usual gloomy ruminations of her Scandinavian counterparts.

The darker novels of some of her colleagues (authors I enjoy like Arnaldur Indridason and Asa Larsson among them) might not be to everyone's taste, so Lackberg's relatively lighter fare might be more palatable to the general reader.  I will still look for her next book even though I would not rate her as highly as some others (including current fave Jo Nesbo).

Three Seconds by Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom
A deep undercover police informant goes to prison to break up a Polish drug ring, only to get burned by his superiors and have to fight his way out, in Three Seconds, a tough-minded crime drama from Sweden.

Three Seconds is very hard-boiled and well-written and showcases a different voice in crime writing, which is one of the elements I have enjoyed from the recent spate of Scandinavian mysteries that have graced these shores in recent years.  Unlike others, the writing team of Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom is less melancholy than some of their counterparts and relies more on burly action.

The down side is that, after a long buildup, the finale relies too heavily on an intricate Rube Goldberg-like sequence of events, coincidences, and lucky breaks that allows the storyline to come to a satisfactory conclusion.

But I was with them most of the way and would recommend this meaty thriller to mystery fans.

Three Stations by Martin Cruz Smith
Moscow police investigator Arkady Renko, an outsider in his own department, still puts his skills to work trying to solve a young woman's murder and a baby's disappearance in Martin Cruz Smith's Three Stations.

Smith's series has chronicled life in Russia for several decades now, oftentimes with long intervals between novels (though they are starting to come out considerably faster lately).  This is a credible, admirable crime series that started with the well-known Gorky Park but has produced many notable entries since then (my favorite is probably Polar Star) that are as much socio-political treatises as they are mysteries.

Wolves Eat Dogs and Stalin's Ghost, the most recent novels in the series, represent Putin-era Russia and might be a jumping-off point for new readers.

Djibouti by Elmore Leonard
A documentary film crew get involved with Somalian pirates and, by association, an emerging terrorist plot in Elmore Leonard's Djibouti.

In the 50s and 60s Elmore Leonard solid but today underrated Westerns, then was best known for a very admirable string of crime novels up through the 90s, many with a strong Detroit Rock City flavor.  In the 21st Century he has sampled all over the place with various genres and time periods, with some pretty good novels (Tishomingo Blues, The Hot Kid) and some okay ones (Pagan Babies, Road Dogs).

This one has an interesting premise, and Leonard also does some neat things with nonlinear storytelling to change it up a bit.  As usual, the novel is populated by Leonard's trademark quirky characters.

But unfortunately it's all talk, talk, talk until a (literally) explosive conclusion.  And some of the dialogue clanks a bit (including the young lead character calling movies "pictures," which seems dated).

Although this one is a bit of a mixed bag, Elmore Leonard is still worth reading, well into his 80s.

The Innocent Man by John Grisham
A washed-up, mentally unstable former pro baseball player ends up framed for an Oklahoma woman's murder in John Grisham's hair-raising nonfiction work The Innocent Man.

I have always liked Grisham but hate to admit that a lot of his books were starting to run together in my mind.  But this non-fiction work you almost couldn't make up, populated with blind and drunk lawyers, bungling judges, treacherous jailhouse snitches, bullying cops, dream confessions, last-minute death-row reprieves, and more, in a  case that spans decades.

What's more, Grisham sets forth and least two other botched cases from the same time period and geographical area during the course of the story that are almost as chilling as the main story.

Long but absolutely compelling from start to finish, The Innocent Man actually made me rethink some of my beliefs about the death penalty.

Robbie’s Wife by Russell Hill
An aging screenwriter, not exactly washed up because he was always an also-ran, tries to restart his foundering career by going to a remote English farmhouse; but instead almost instantly fall into a dangerous infatuation with a farmer's wife in Russell Hill's Robbie's Wife.

Robbie's Wife is a mature noir with a classic unreliable narrator.  It is part of the very notable Hard Case Crime series, which releases lost classics alongside contemporary counterparts.  This is a great addition to the series, a very strong modern entry that stands alongside some of my favorites, including Scott Smith's A Simple Plan and Robert Ward's Four Kinds of Rain, books that would bring a smile to Jim Thompson's face.

Hill's book also reads as a solid literary piece, with a lot of sharp writing and an interesting subplot about the Mad Cow Disease issue in England.  Recommended.

Nobody's Angel by Jack Clark
A Chicago cab driver ends up in the middle of two horrible crimes, the maiming of a teen prostitute and the murder of a fellow cabbie; cruising the streets in the shadows of the city's worst housing projects, he almost subconsciously moves towards solving both in Jack Clark's superior contemporary noir Nobody's Angel.
This book came out as part of Hard Case Crime, and has a very unusual history, as Clark is an actual Chicago cab driver who self-published the book originally and sold it out of the front seat of his cab.
It is an astounding story when one finds out how good the writing is.  It is obvious that Clark knows the mean streets of the Windy City intimately, and the characters are well-rounded.
If Cornell Woolrich drove a cab, and Jim Thompson was a passenger in the back seat, they might put their heads together and come up with something like Nobody's Angel.  Recommended.

Nineteen Seventy-Four by David Peace
Set in an early 70s northern England, a crime reporter tries to unravel some grisly murders that end up taking a psychic and physical toll on him in David Peace's blistering noir Nineteen Seventy-Four.
Peace writes in a raw but realistic voice and the storytelling is dense and electric.  Although I enjoyed this immensely, I would only recommend it with reservations as it is very, very mature in situations and content.  Peace's novel makes the bleak noir of Jim Thompson and James Ellroy seem like a Hardy Boys mystery.
This is the first of four novels that Peace wrote in this setting, to great acclaim.  I have also seen the first movie based on the series, Red Riding 1974, shot for British television and worthwhile in its own right.
The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto
A young mural artist takes up with a fragile man with a dark past in Banana Yoshimoto's The Lake.
I had never heard of Yoshimoto and picked this up on a whim.  She has apparently been big in Japan for some time.
The Lake is a slight, and slightly creepy, novel that read a bit like Haruki Murakami lite.  The story ambles along as a blossoming romance between two troubled people until the pair visit a nearby lake cabin and two odd siblings who live there, one of who is an apparent psychic, where ties to a frightening past are revealed.
Without revealing too much of the backstory, I believe the novel would be pretty resonant to Japanese readers, and I enjoyed it well enough to look for more translations of Yoshimoto's work.

Look At Me by Jennifer Egan
A supermodel has a life-altering car wreck that ends up with her face being rebuilt, though unrecognizable; the results impact not only her but a teenage girl from her hometown, the supermodel's childhood friend, a downtrodden private eye, a mysterious figure known as Z and others in Jennifer Egan's genre pretzel of a novel, Look At Me.
Egan's novel The Keep was one of my favorite reads of recent years.  I didn't like this one quite as much, but it is very interesting throughout, with plenty of surprises and no linear paths to follow.  There are also lots of unique characters and very complicated characterizations. As in the last one I read, I thought the ending sort of ran out of steam, but I genuinely could not guess what was coming next; and as I read a lot of books, that means something.
Despite some flaws, I am beginning to think that Jennifer Egan is becoming one of my favorite new writers, almost entirely based on her unique storytelling alone.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Splash Mountain

So the college where I work was having a "Back to School" bash and everyone thought I would be "popular" in the dunk tank.  Why this was I will leave up to the reader to speculate.  Suffice to say there was a long line of familiar faces lined up to take their shot, on what happened to be my 45th birthday.  If you ever wondered what it would be like to get waterboarded on your birthday, a dunk tank is for you.  Actually it was like doing about 35 cannonballs in a row; at least, that's what my body was telling me afterward.  It wasn't exactly on my bucket list, but a memorable and ultimately fun birthday nonetheless.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Still Loved by Rejected!

There's a cool site called Covered where artists do music-style covers of their favorite comic book covers; then there is Rejected By Covered, where there are still tons of people that can draw better than me, and yet they took two more of my covers; a Gene Colan tribute and one of the first covers I remember seeing, The Freedom Fighters #1.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Lest Ye Be Judged

The exceedingly handsome Judges Panel for the Blue Whiskey Film Festival in Palatine, Illinois.  This was a great pair of guys to work with, which was handy because we all liked different things.  My festival fave was Fleurs du mal (Flowers of Evil); Falling Overnight won Best of, and Turkey Bowl, The Dead Inside, Absentia, The Wanteds, and The Day Carl Sandburg Died were all well received, among others.  You can check out the whole lineup at

BWIFF Journal

Live music in the lobby before the screenings.

BWIFF Journal #2

Me and festival coordinator Mike Noens.  I'm not sure he had slept since the previous fest.

BWIFF Journal #3

Dinner between screenings.  Man, the food is always good in Palatine.

BWIFF Journal #4

Hardware at the Awards Breakfast.

BWIFF Journal #5

Awards brunch at the Blue Whiskey Film Fest.  Already looking forward to next year!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

In The Year 7510

Finally had to write down the directions for how the TV works for when I'm away and the family wants to watch it. It takes five remotes for it to work and I'm totally okay with that.  There's something that makes you feel less liberal about having a big flatscreen TV but I am getting used to that as well.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Everything Old is New Again

How cool is Duane Swierczynski?  I pre-ordered his new book, Fun and Games, for my beloved Kindle, and he sent me a postcard from The Alamo.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

G.I.s In Space (Super-8 B/W Silent, 1982)

My homage to old-time serials, watched feverishly in my teen years; I shot this mostly in my parent's garage with Estes rockets and borrowed costumes from the high school. Filmed on black-and-white Super-8 Tri-X film stock in Muncie Indiana in 1982, later projected on the wall and recorded on SVHS, now presented digitally.

Geekbusters (Super-8 Silent, 1984)

Fueled by multiple viewings of Ghostbusters at the local cinema, and armed with shop-vacs and jumpsuits, my friends and I made this parody short in 1984, filmed on Super-8 in Muncie, Indiana. Later this was projected on the wall and taped onto SVHS, and very recently digitized for your modest pleasure.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Justice By The Slice (Super-8 Silent, 1986)

So many people have told me that the movie Super-8 reminds them of me, and this might be why.  For your modest enjoyment, the saga of a vigilante pizza deliverer, shot on Super-8 Silent film stock in Muncie Indiana in the summer of 1986, later projected on the wall and taped on SVHS, recently encoded for its 25th Anniversary.

Uncensored Heroes (Super-8 Silent, 1986)

An old plastic Batman helmet from my childhood and a renewed love for comic books spurred on this short, filmed on Super-8 in Muncie Indiana in 1986 (with a long gap and some rewrites due to a case of mono). Still wishing I had filmed the poker scene featuring the Golden Age Flash and the Golden Age Sandman, but alas.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Accepted By Rejected!

There is a pretty cool site called Covered where artists do covers (music style) of their favorite comic book covers; there is also Rejected By Covered, which still has a lot of talented people on it, all of whom draw better than me.  But it struck my fancy nonetheless so I whipped up a few covers of comics that struck a chord in me as a youngster; and, shockingly, they took them all.  Whether this foretells a rise in my cartooning skills, frozen since about 1979, or a thinning of the talent pool on Covered, is for the viewer to decide.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

So Long, And Thanks For All The Fumetti

For the few that missed me, I was out goofing off in Europe.  This is Rome, a great city with history on every corner.  For my hometown, history means going to the McDonald's where they have the neon sign from the 50s, so this was quite a culture shock.  As you can see, they have let things get a little run down, though.  Would some asphalt and a few Starbucks hurt anybody?  Just saying.

Check, Please

A statue in Italy commemorating how hard it is to catch a waiter's eye to bring you your bill at any local restaurant.  Around tourists, Italians seem aggressive and in a rush, but when you catch them in their own element you learn they prefer to chill out, drink wine, eat pizza and have leisurely lunches; basically how I spent my first few years of college in the mid 80s.

The Touch of a World That is Older

Grave of Marconi, the dude that invented radio, Florence, Italy.  This church also has Machiavelli, Dante, Michelangelo, and some other big names who had big honking statues and other huge monuments dedicated to them.  Meanwhile, my brother here looks like he got put in the pet cemetery.  AV nerds always get the short end.

Johnny Stecchino

In Florence, the outside of the church where Marconi is taking the long dirt nap.  I sort of figured out if you know how to say "Scusi" and "Grazie" you can pretty much make your way across Italy.

Said I Shot A Man Named Ray, Took His Wife To Italy

This big shack is the Parthenon.  Half of Rome looks like a movie set.  Besides the obvious Sergio Leone and Mario Bava and Dario Argento movies I would recommend "The Bicycle Thief" and "La Dolce Vita" and "Big Deal on Madonna Street" for the classics; some good contemporary movies include "Cinema Paradiso" and "Johnny Stecchino" and "I'm Not Afraid."


Me:  "I think I compare favorably to the statue of David."  Wife:  "You must have been looking at a statue of Socrates."

Rock On, Romans

I like how in Rome the buses run wherever and whenever they damn well please, you better be ready to tuck in to a hearty meal all the time, and you can buy Dylan Dog and Nathan Never comics at every newsstand.  But my favorite thing was these posters plastered all over the city advertising an upcoming rock concert by showcasing an old man shushing people.

London's Calling

Crazy statue in the Tower of London, England.  Everywhere you look there are ideas for new D&D adventures. 

Holidays in the Sun

British Museum, London.  Where they keep all the stuff they took when they conquered the world, once upon a time.  London is a great city, which I felt very comfortable with since I have watched a lot of Doctor Who and read Harry Potter.  What you might not know is that the food is better than you'd think and the Tube is a great invention.  Even more surprising was that Obama was there at the same time and didn't invite me to the barbecue at Downing Street.

She Wouldn't Have A Willy Or A Sam

Where Anne Boleyn was beheaded at the Tower of London.  Didn't see Natalie Dormer around anywhere.

BBC 1, BBC 2

One of my favorite areas of London, the South Bank.  Tons of good little shops and restaurants and hipsters and buskers.  Stalls full of paperbacks.  Found some good British hardboiled stuff here.  Big Ben dead ahead, the Eye behind.

The Runaway Bride

Speaking of Doctor Who:  Yes, my brothers, I saw Doctor Who's David Tennant and Catherine Tate in Much Ado About Nothing in London's West End. (Photo borrowed from somebody who thought to bring a camera to Leicester Square). This show was sold out but they had a lottery to sell twenty returned tickets for ten pounds each (face value 50 pounds and up) the morning of the show. I stood in a block-long line and thought I wasn't going to make it but got drawn second to last. Then they had a few more available at face value so I queued back up and managed to get a second ticket. Strangely my wife and I were only a few seats apart in the same row and some nice ladies swapped with us so we could sit together. My nerd karma rolled all that day. After I nabbed these two tickets I walked down Charing Cross Road and finally found the latest issue of 2000 AD that I had been searching for. Good night, sweet London town, good night.

Friday, April 29, 2011

You Thought The Leaden Winter Would Bring You Down Forever

Commemorating our first win (in four tries) playing the D&D board game "Castle Ravenloft."  Recommended.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

It's A Thousand Pages, Give Or Take A Few

Whenever I talk about my attempt(s) to read 50 books a year I typically get asked for book recommendations.

Right now I am pretty much always recommending The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson to people who like to read, as kind of a good safe bet.

Historically my favorite novels include Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul, Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, and The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer.

My favorite genre authors historically are probably Philip K. Dick, Samuel R. Delany, Ursula K. LeGuin, Mickey Spillane, Chester B. Himes; and contemporary probably Michael Connelly, Chuck Palahniuk, Jonathan Lethem, Jennifer Egan and Michael Chabon.

So that’s where I’m coming from, otherwise.  Below I have listed 25 books that I have read over the last few years that pretty much make up my current contemporary recommendations.  Enjoy!

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold

The Boy Detective Fails by Joe Meno

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

The Painter of Battles by Arturo Perez-Reverte

Lunar Park by Brett Easton Ellis

The Keep by Jennifer Egan

The City and The City by China Mieville

The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon

The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo

Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey

Rule of the Bone by Russell Banks

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby

Missing by Karen Alvtegen

Real World by Natsuo Kirino

The Wandering Ghost by Martin Limon

Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon

The Princess of Burundi by Kjell Ericksson

Sun Storm by Asa Larsson

Jar City by Arnaldur Indridason

Four Kinds of Rain by Robert Ward

London Boulevard by Ken Bruen

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


For those of you who didn't see me blowing up your Twitter feeds and Facebook walls over the last few weeks, here's a meme that I did.  (Bonus Fact:  The first time I heard the word "meme" was when I read F. Chong Rutherford's script "Meme" on TriggerStreet).

100. Met my future wife on a blind date in January 1987 and got married that October.
99. Majored in TCOM (Film) with minors in Humanities and History at Ball State, so I'm really good at Trivial Pursuit.
98. Made about 30 short films on Super-8 between 1980-1987.
97. The first time I ever heard the term "homeboy" used was via Johnny Depp on 21 Jump Street.
96. I think the best overall dining experience I've had on the planet was at Joseph Decuis.
95. Married the Valedictorian of Blue River Valley High School Class of 1983.
94. On our honeymoon, we made the mistake of going to see the new Michael Douglas movie--Fatal Attraction.
93. Got married in the Kitselman Center at Ball State University in 1987. #100factsaboutme
92. Had a recurring nightmare all through the 80s (Reagan Era) that a nuclear flash goes off outside my bedroom window.
91. I made an unbreakable vow to call my daughter Sarah every time I hear "Sarah Smile."
90. The first date my wife and I had was at a health food place on the Ball State campus called Kazoo's.
89. Was active in Boy Scouts on into high school. Rat Patrol, represent!
88. My earliest memory in life is my dad riding me around the Ball State Duck Pond on the back of his bike.
87. Have kept a blog detailing my attempts to read 50 books/yr for the last 3 yrs:
86. Played clarinet in the Anthony Elementary School band (but never learned to read music).
85. The older I get the more I like hotter and rarer food.
84. My favorite article of clothing is the big comfy green sweater my wife knitted me; second, my Carhartt jacket.
83. Somehow developed shellfish/seafood allergies as an adult.
82. Probably my favorite long-running D&D character I gamed was a Fighter/Magic User/Thief half-elf named Pollux.
81. Have had pneumonia twice and still not sure how to spell it.
80. The first book I ever bought for my Kindle was Shepard Rifkiin's "The Murderer Vine."
79. I played outfield and sometimes pitched for the Anthony Aces Elementary School baseball team in Muncie, IN.
78. I think the first time I was in Fangoria Magazine I reached the first pinnacle of my screenwriting career.
77. Screenwriters are in either MovieMagic or Final Draft camps; I use MovieMagic but also think Celtx is pretty good.
76. The first screenplay I got paid to write was the spy thriller "Player in the Game" which never actually got made.
75. I've completed two 24 Hour Comics Day events.
74. Although Dr. Strangelove is my favorite movie ever I bet I have seen When Harry Met Sally more times.
73. That being said, I think my favorite album of all time is Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.
72. When I need creative energy I like to listen to The Fifth Dimension Greatest Hits on Earth and ELO's Out of the Blue.
71. I think my favorite song over the longest time is probably Strawberry Letter 22 by The Brothers Johnson
70. Started my blog on August 19, 2003:
69. I never thought CDs would catch on because they just seemed to me to be little records.
68. I want to go to the Macy’s Parade before I die.
67. Was once very adept at the Video Toaster.
66. If I go to Hell, it’s likely because I stepped in a puddle then cussed in front of a priest on the Notre Dame campus.
65. Probably the most surprising person who ever sent me an email was Michael Tolkin.
64. Told everybody I voted for Mondale but secretly voted for Reagan.
63. Have never figured out how to blow a bubble with gum.
62. Didn't start liking football until I played the 1983 San Francisco 49ers on the Statis Pro football boardgame.
61. A lot of people don't believe I don't know how to play Solitaire, but I have never been alone long enough to learn.
60. My brother and I stayed up late to watch the start of MTV in 1981.
59. The first Doctor Who episode I ever saw was "The Androids of Tara" and that was an awful good place to start.
58. Once almost cut the ball of my thumb off opening a can of tuna. 8 stitches closed it up.
57. I was at Six Flags St. Louis the day the gondola crashed in 1978.
56. I think the only comic I still wish I had was a Suicide Squad #1 John Ostrander wrote a personal note to me in.
55. The first DVD I ever owned was "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."
54. When I first learned to shave, Aqua Velva was my aftershave of choice.
53. The last time I cried reading a book was Larry McMurtry's Streets of Laredo (though I did have pneumonia at the time).
52. The last time I cried was when I heard Johnny Cash's cover of Roberta Flack's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face."
51. A bird once pooped on my head when I was riding a bike. What are the odds of that?
50. Given a hard hat as a gift when I left my last job because I had gone several years without being knocked unconscious.
49. Kicked out of AV in high school for drawing (and taping to the wall) a comic strip called “AV in Space.”
48. Had a pet tarantula as a kid.
47. Kept stats for my daughter’s basketball team for six years.
46. Can be heard on DVD commentary tracks for “Among Us” and “Peter Rottentail.”
45. Probably have re-read Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22” more than any other novel.
44. Did not learn to type until I took a course in college.
43. Wrote a fan letter to President Jimmy Carter in sixth grade.
42. Earned my first actual paycheck in high school videotaping varsity wrestling matches.
41. The first TV show I ever worked on was camera on "The Phipps Gospel Sing” on WIPB-TV.
40. I was an active member of the Pen Pal Club on PBS' Big Blue Marble throughout the 70s and early 80s.
39. My first car was a 'vette. A 1979 Chevette we bought from my gym teacher. I shared it with my brother.
38. I have never watched the final episode of "The Prisoner" because I never wanted to end.
37. Played a pawn in a human chess game at a Renaissance Festival.
36. The first song I ever called a radio station to request was “Telephone Line” by ELO at 990 WERK in Muncie IN.
35. I have seen a lot of famous people but only asked for one autograph (from Carl Erskine, for my son).
34. My daughter and I were both born at Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie Indiana.
33. Since I didn’t have a bank account as a kid, I used to keep all of my money in a copy of Spillane's “I, the Jury.”
32. I was named Big Brother of the Year for east central Indiana in 1993.
31. I have been active in Big Brothers/Big Sisters more or less continuously since 1987.
30. The first song I played through without getting booed off stage on Guitar Hero was Fascination Street by The Cure.
29. I have had two gold teeth (one of them I finally had to pull).
28. Until my mother retired from hairdressing, nobody else had ever cut my hair.
27. The first D&D module I played was White Plume Mountain.
26. The first movie I watched on HBO was The Last Remake of Beau Geste.
25. For whatever reason the Golden Age Flash has pretty much always been my favorite superhero.
24. Have stood in the DMZ and looked into North Korea.
23. Was in New York to watch a taping of Late Night with David Letterman in 1988.
22. I was brushed with a foul ball and knocked down at a Reds game last season.
21. I was at the first Pacers game ever at Conseco Fieldhouse, with my dad and brother.
20. Stood on the Great Wall of China.
19. Took a square dancing class in college.
18. Wrote the script for, and appeared as a suicidal Nazi, in the direct to DVD "Black Mass."
17. Wore a bigfoot suit in the direct-to-DVD movie "Among Us" which I also wrote.
16. I am mentioned in the acknowledgments for Haven Kimmel's novel "The Used World."
15. In college, I was a DJ for a carrier-current radio station in a dorm at Ball State.
14. Several times I was the guest host for "Now Showing," a movie review show on WIPB-TV.
13. I won a David Letterman Telecommunications Scholarship in 1987.
12. I was Freshman Writer of the Year for the Ball State Daily News in 1985.
11. Characters in the short films "The Hook" and "The B-Team" are named after me.
10. I used to host a public access TV show about comic books in Muncie, Indiana.
9. The first movie I remember seeing was The Barefoot Executive.
8. My first R rated movie was Alien.
7. I was an extra in the movie Hoosiers.
6. I "sang" in a punk band called The Johnnies in high school.
5. M first CD was Pearl Jam Ten.
4. My first cassette was Bryan Adams Cuts Like A Knife.
3. My first 8-track was Wings Greatest Hits.
2. The first .45 was "King Tut."
1. My first concert was Adam Ant, opening act The Romantics.