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.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner

Photographic evidence that I actually finished a 5K, and with people behind me (albeit mostly old ladies).  I tell people I finished 64 out of 100 without mentioning 30 people didn't show up day of because of cold and rain.