Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Boston Globe looks at racial diversity in genre fiction.

Or rather, the lack thereof. Interesting article.

Bill Walsh dead at 75

No, I'm not a football fan, nor am I any kind of sports fan. But I grew up in a house where football was king, and Bill Walsh was a god to my father and brother. I note his passing here because I am still a San Franciscan in many ways, and Bill Walsh is a large part of my Bay Area history. Walsh turned the 49ers into a football team that everyone in Northern California could be proud of, even if - like me - some of them didn't quite understand what the hell a first or fourth down was. In the years immediately following the Jonestown massacre (most of the 900+ victims came from the San Francisco Bay Area, where the cult originated), the murders of Harvey Milk and George Moscone, and the subsequent White Night Riots that occurred immediately afterward, the people of San Francisco especially needed something to feel good about. Bill Walsh gave them that.

Rest in peace, Coach.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Jerome Weeks on book reviewing. Good stuff.

Jerome Weeks over at Book/Daddy posted an extremely thoughtful essay in response to Gail Pool's new book Faint Praise: The Plight of Book Reviewing in America. Go read it!

That big gay Comic-Con!

Prism Comics co-founder Charles "Zan" Christensen has the scoop on the GLBT presence at this past weekend's San Diego Comic-Con International. (For those of you who may be unfamiliar with them, Prism Comics is a great non-profit organization that exists to promote the queer community within the comics biz.)

Check out his Comic-Con diaries:
Also, in the world of homo comics news, a hearty congratulations to the extraordinary Alison Bechdel, who took home the coveted Eisner Award this past weekend for Best Reality-Based Work for her wonderful graphic novel Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. Check out Alison's blog for more Comic-Con stories!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

But does she use the litterbox?

There are a few animals that veterinarians recommend you don't keep as house pets. I'm pretty sure that "hippopotamus" falls into this category. Meet Jessica the Hippo. Not only does she weigh as much as a small Japanese car, but the folks who keep her actually get her wired on caffeine twice a day. (This does not seem like the brightest idea to me, but then again, I've never kept a hippo as a house pet before.) It's totally worth watching all the way to the end, though, just to see her curled up in her pretty pink blankie, snoozing away with her pal the bull terrier. So cute! (via bear)

The Sunday morning "This apartment is a friggin' mess and I am under-caffeinated" book review link dump.

I am now officially out of coffee beans. I can see the white at the bottom of the bag. Horrors! Indeed, this is something to despair about. Nevertheless, I bravely muddle on. (Possibly because I know I can walk over to Dunkin' Donuts again if need be.) I must have caffeine because this apartment is a disaster and needs a thorough scrubbing. Also, there is laundry to do. (Always laundry. Sigh.) I can't be caught napping in the middle of laundry.

Meanwhile, despite my own personal bean-less tragedy, I leave you with the following good things to read about books:
At The Denver Post, a couple of good things: Janna Fischer gives props to Doris Lessing's new fantastic myth of a matriarchal Roman Empire, The Cleft; and Robin Vidimos raves about Jasper Fforde's newest, First Among Sequels.

At the Los Angeles Times, Regina Marler also discusses The Cleft; and Sonja Bolle talks about the effect that Harry Potter has had on reading, and whether Harry made reading fantasy hip. (Um, okay.)

At the New York Times, David Itzkoff takes on Austin Grossman's Soon I Will Be Invincible.

Associated Press writer Chris Talbott talks to Kevin J. Anderson and Tor's David Hartwell about A. E. Van Vogt and Anderson's finishing of the sequel to Slan, Slan Hunter.

At the Portland Oregonian, Jim Carmin reviews Daniel Wallace's Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician.

At the Houston Chronicle, Bill Sheehan reviews William Gibson's newest, Spook Country.

At McClatchy Newspapers (formerly Knight-Ridder), Miami Herald critic Connie Ogle also takes on Fforde's First Among Sequels.

At the Independent (UK), Tim Martin reviews Brasyl by Ian McDonald, and Christian House discusses The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas.

At Newsday, John Freeman reviews Fforde's First Among Sequels and Three Bags Full by Leonie Swann (which you absolutely must read).

Book Fetish reviews John Scalzi's The Last Colony and gives it four stars (and if you aren't regularly reading this online review 'zine, you're missing out).

Somehow I missed this but January Magazine now has a blog. (Yay!)

And last but far from least, Fantasy Book Critic has a wonderful round-up of new genre titles for August.

Interesting.

Click to view my Personality Profile page

This bit is freakishly accurate:
Friends are what life is about to ENFPs, more so even than the other NFs. . . ENFPs are energized by being around people. Some have real difficulty being alone, especially on a regular basis. (TypeLogic)
And the strengths and weaknesses listed here for an ENFP are even more scary-accurate.

It's clear, then. I'm doomed.

Last night's dinner.

Fun new blog discovery for the foodies among y'all: Last Night's Dinner.
Yum, yum, yum.

Friday, July 27, 2007

And we still hate Holden Caulfield.

Chief IntarWebs Shit Disturber John Scalzi stirs up some major good shit over The World's Most Overrated YA Novel, aka Catcher in the Rye.

(Jesus H. Christ, how I hated that book.)

New mini-comic by Joss Whedon & Fabio Moon.

Groupies! Battle of the bands! Robots! Alternative lifestyles! All that and more in Sugarshock: Battle Royale with Cheese! Wicked clever and just plain fun.

How to humiliate a cat, or "Hello, kitty."

I'm fairly certain that Stinkyboy would run away from home if I bought this outfit for him.

How to vacuum a cat.

Don't worry; the cat isn't dead, just knocked out and prepped for spay surgery. But this gives me some great ideas about how to prevent hairballs.

The semantics of tighty-whities.

For your Friday morning amusement: a classic post from Language Log.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I haz Chabon galley.

In cyberspace, no one can hear you *SQUEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!*

Gentleman of the Road. (I haz nerds in high places.)

Edit To Add: By the way, this book is embargoed until August 6th, so I can't actually bring it home or read it until then. It is sitting here on my desk taunting me. TAUNTING ME! But I promised and a promise is a promise.

Stalking the free-range fanboy.

USA Today is hunting fanboys at San Diego Comic-Con International. (La Gringa respectfully suggests that USA Today try looking near the fangirls.)

Exxon Mobil sends man 2,000 copies of credit card.

Instead of two. Hilarious!

Nursing home feline accurately predicts death.

This is kind of creepy-cool.

New Alexander Solzhenitsyn interview.

From the English-language version of Der Speigel, this fascinating interview with Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn. (No, I didn't realize he was still alive either!)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

LOL Lohans

Lindsay Lohan gets the LOL Cats treatment from Jennsylvania.

Batgirl's sexy sexy fun time,
now with murder and apartment hunting!


Via awesome new blog discovery Chris's Invincible Super-Blog, a hilarious review of Detective Comics #388 (originally published in 1969), featuring Batgirl's search for new digs in the big city.

Publishers Weekly Annual Salary Survey is here!

Download the PDF here (sans annoying PW website registration).

Note: You may have noticed that I've gotten around the whole Blogger not letting me post files other than jpgs. It's a simple trick, really: I just load the files onto my WordPress account. Damned thing turned out to be useful for something, I guess. Heh.

If "Peanuts" had been written by Charles Bukowski.

This is hands-down the funniest thing I've seen in weeks. An excerpt for your enjoyment:

sopwith camel

my dog is at it
again
I hear my neighbors slam their
windows
up

“shut that fucking dog up,”
they yell
every night it’s the
same

“shut that fucking dog up.”

it’s not his fault that he wants to dance
on top of a
piano

it’s not his fault that he pretends his doghouse
is a sopwith
camel

it’s not his fault that he spends many nights
pounding mad
on the typer

“shut that fucking dog up,”
they holler

it’s not his fault
he’s just a dog

(via fimoculous)

Free Girlyman concert tonight!

(This applies to you folks who live in NYC only. Sorry!)

Girlyman is playing a live show at 7:00 PM this evening at Madison Square Park. Punky-folk; folky-punk. Just go!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Tuesday morning "I spilled my venti iced coffee on my own feet" book review & interview link dump. With an extra shot of espresso.

Iced coffee does nothing to enhance the color of faded blue jeans. It especially does not enhance the color of my feet or the beat-up Teva sandals that my feet are wearing. Sure, some of you may be saying to yourself "But that's what you get for wearing Tevas in the first place." And you would no doubt be right. But let me wallow for a bit in my sartorial self-pity, would you? In the meantime, here are a few things for you to read:

Ken Barnes at USA Today likes David Anthony Durham's Acacia quite a bit.

At the Guardian UK, Ursula K. Leguin reviews the enigmatic The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas. (Does anyone know if this book is being published in the U.S.?)

At PopMatters, Savannah Schroll Guz discusses Steven Hall's The Raw Shark Texts. (And dig that picture of Steven Hall - is it me, or does he look an awful lot like Richard K. Morgan?)

And speaking of Richard K. Morgan, over at the Seattle Times, Nisi Shawl writes a rave review of Richard K. Morgan's Thirteen. (Which is an amazing - if graphically violent and thoroughly gory - book, if you haven't read it yet.)

At UK SF Book News, Ariel interviews Robin Hobb about Renegade's Magic, the final volume in her Soldier's Son trilogy.

Time Magazine has a brief but fascinating feature on The House of Elsewhere, or Maison d'Ailleurs, Europe's only public SF/F museum.

Monday, July 23, 2007

No, you all weren't seeing things: you really did just see two teenage girls kiss on tonight's episode of Kyle XY.

Okay, that ABC Family Channel? Very subversive for a "family values" network. And the writers of Kyle XY? The masters of surreptitious subversive content.

Kyle XY is - for those of you who haven't had the pleasure - a skiffy show aimed at the what we used to refer to as the WB crowd (back when there was still a WB). Tweens, teens, and, well, nerds like me. (Okay, okay! I admit it! I liked Roswell! So sue me!)

The show features the requisite group of attractive young high school people doing attractive young high school people things with all the attendant drama that this entails, but in addition, Kyle XY takes on some surprisingly deeper issues.

I originally wrote about Kyle XY last year:
La Gringa stumbled onto this show quite by accident. Our DVR recorded it instead of some Discovery Channel thing we wanted to see. And we were pleasantly surprised! The show centered around a young man, around fifteen or sixteen, who is found naked and wandering in the woods near Seattle. He has no memory of his past, no knowledge of his identity and very little ability to communicate with the social workers and therapists who eventually are entrusted with his care. He also has no navel. Curiouser and curiouser! Eventually he is given a name (Kyle) and - because he is so ill-equipped to interact with other human beings - sent to live with one of his therapists and her family, while she works with him to help him piece together his identity.

As the show progresses, Kyle begins to exhibit unusual abilities: extraordinary mathematics abilities, physical speed and coordination that are almost superhuman, and extraordinary retention (he reads the entire World Book encyclopedia in one sitting!). But he is almost infant-like in other areas. It takes him ten days to figure out he is supposed to sleep at night, and that dreams don’t mean he is going crazy. He doesn’t know what hunger is, just feels a strange empty feeling all the time until one of the therapist’s children explains food to him. And in one scene that is funny and heartbreaking at the same time, Kyle wets his pants in public because he simply doesn’t understand when his body is trying to tell him to go to the bathroom. He gets an involuntary erection at one point and doesn’t understand why people are laughing at him.

The young actor who portrays Kyle - Matt Dallas - is a wonderful actor; he’s utterly charming. The cast works well as an ensemble, and the writing is surprisingly good. La Gringa says give this show a chance. If you’ve got kids around, even better. Kyle XY is one of those rare programs that approaches difficult subjects in a thoughtful way, and it might allow parents to more easily open up a dialogue with the kids after viewing.
In tonight's episode, the show manages to brilliantly move from a benign plot involving Kyle getting a date to the school dance to a more relevant sub-plot involving the rights of same-sex couples to attend that same dance, all without the usual melodrama or annoying preachiness that would usually accompany a teleplay that is - essentially - one step above an ABC After-School Special.

So, um, yeah, you really did just see two girls kissing on Kyle XY tonight.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The late Sunday night "Laundry ate my life"
book review link dump.

In no particular order of importance, La Gringa gives you:
At the Kansas City Star, friend-of-skiffy reviewer Robert Folsom gives a thumbs up to John Twelve Hawks's The Dark River and Michael Stackpole's The New World. Also, brief happy nods to Emma Bull's Territory and Will Shetterly's Gospel of the Knife.

Much skiffy goodness in the Washington Post Book World this Sunday. First, our pal Liz Hand pulled an all-nighter to get HP-7 read in time to get a review in under the wire. (Go Liz! How much caffeine did that require, anyway?) Next, Bill Sheehan reviews William Gibson's latest, Spook Country; Sheri Holman reviews Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician by Daniel Wallace, and Rachel Hartigan Shea raves about David Anthony Durham's Acacia. You thought I was done? Wrong! There's EVEN MORE wacky skiffiness! In a separate SF/F round-up column, our other pal Jeff VanderMeer takes on (okay, you ready?) Brasyl by Ian McDonald, Outrageous Fortune by Tim Scott, Shelter by Susan Palwick, and Bright of the Sky by Kay Kenyon, one of La Gringa's favorite writers, FYI. Last but not least, he also looks at Brave New Worlds: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction. (Cool!)

Good queer stuff going on over at the New York Times Book Review, Sylvia Brownrigg reviews Landing, by another of La Gringa's favorite non-skiffy novelists, Emma Donoghue. Also at the NYT's website, Dwight Garner interviews Alison Bechdel.

At the Denver Post, Carlo Wolff does not so much love Austin Grossman's Soon I Will Be Invincible.
Now I must go eat some Corn Chex. (No, you don't get to judge me unless you have actually tried Corn Chex; they are weirdly addictive.)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Thriller!


1500 inmates of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) practicing for a performance of Michael Jackson's "Thriller". (Don't forget to watch for the inmate in drag!) This is just bizarre!

Robots are the new kittens.

From LOL Bots. Hilarious!

Seems I'm not the only one who's never read Harry Potter.

John Scalzi has also come out of the closet.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Swiss traffic cops reward good drivers with chocolate.

Sweet!

Darth Vader vs. Ming the Merciless...in a Honda Civic?

This video is hilarious. Just who IS the fastest Evil Overlord of the Universe?

Nicola Griffith on the process of writing (parts one and two).

Aqueduct Press has a fascinating interview with Nicola Griffith posted at their blog. Gwenda pointed y'all toward Part One a couple days ago. Part Two of the interview is now posted as well. Go! Read! Learn!

And then go out and buy Nicola's new book Always, which is wonderful!

"Women, earn excellent money kicking men!"

Ah, Craigslist. What would I do without your job ads for entertainment?

I have a confession to make:
I've never read Harry Potter.

::: ducks her head to keep from being brained by flying books :::

No, seriously. Never. Not a one. I bought and started to read the first book aloud to my nephew once when he was but a wee toddler, but he preferred Captain Underpants and endless re-reading of The Stinky Cheese Man ("You can't catch me; I'm the Stinky Cheese Man!") so Harry Potter was brushed aside like so much garbage. For all I know it still sits gathering dust on my nephew's bookshelf, next to the nine hundred volumes of Captain Underpants that he DID read. He's eleven years old now, and really only cares about his electric guitar and skateboard. ("Harry who?")

For a long time, My nephew wouldn't even go see the Harry Potter movies with me; he scared easily when he was younger and - after viewing one of the films - declared them "unsafe and too scary for a little kid like me". 'Nuff said. (Eventually he did get over it.)

When I was a bookseller in San Francisco, I lived through the initial Harry Potter insanity. Not the Scholastic insanity. The original Bloomsbury British edition insanity. The "Holy shit, tell me again why we're importing 500 copies of this weird kids book again? The Hairy what?" and the frazzled parents hitting the information desk, pleading with us "Just one copy? Surely you must have JUST ONE COPY!?" and the kids with piggy banks dumping their accumulated coins in front of the cash register in triumph so they could pay for their own copy of the book.

Yeah, I lived that one, thank you very much.

But even then, I never read the books, even though I regularly read - and love - middle-reader and YA fantasy.

I have no idea why I've never read a Harry Potter book. But if it's any consolation, I have listened to the Harry Potter books. Not all of them, just books One through Four. I actually listened to Book Two first, when Big A came over to help me paint my apartment about seven (yes SEVEN!) years ago. It was a blast! I was working for Big Ass Publishing Company at the time, and they regularly gave free copies of the new audio version to the employees, so I scrambled to listen to as many as I could. But somehow I am still two books behind the rest of the world.

This year I have resolved that I will actually READ the Harry Potter books. To aid me in my resolution, Kgaard has agreed to loan me his copies of the books, one at a time, until I have caught up with the rest of humanity. Will this make me a better person? I don't know. But, hey! Maybe it'll help me make conversation with hot nerdy chicks who have read the books!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Missing Miss Snark? These agent blogs are worth reading, kids!

For those of you who are jonesing for the late lamented Miss Snark (the blog, not the person; she and her dog are alive and well, thank you very much!), I suggest you explore the following:

  • The Rejector: An anonymous literary agency assistant gives some helpful advice and makes some astute observations about the book biz.
  • BookEnds, LLC: A blog maintained primarily by Jessica Faust at the agency of the same name. Good stuff here.
  • Nathan Bransford: This self-titled blog is maintained by an agent at the San Francisco office of Curtis Brown. Ltd. Again, useful information about getting published and the book biz in general.
  • Lyons Literary, LLC: Jonathan Lyons maintains this blog. More good info here.
  • Lit Agent X: Rachel Vater (who just moved to Folio Literary Management) has been been maintaining this blog for quite some time. She slowed down a bit in posting when she first moved to Folio - hey, everyone needs time to settle in, right? But it looks like she's back. Some really helpful stuff here.

I hate being the annoying new person.

You know, the person who has to ask a million questions about departmental procedures and just ends up bothering everyone all day for the first week of their job? That is me this week.

Annoying New Person™

::: sigh :::

We all know who gets killed at the end of HP-7.

Scholastic.

Now enough with talking about the leaked books already. (And really, if you have enough time on your hands to take a digital picture of every single friggin' page of a six thousand page book and then post it to BitTorrent, well, clearly you aren't masturbating enough.)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I can't tell if this is a parody or not.

Ranger Up is a line of t-shirts produced by ex-military dudes for current military dudes and the chicks that dig them (because it is very clear from reading the "About" page that these guys don't believe that chicks belong in the military).

Some things that Ranger Up stands for, according to their website:

AMERICA. Nothing like her anywhere, anytime, in the history of the world.

Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen, Coastguardsmen, Firemen, and Police Officers. Basically, the crazy SOBs that put their lives on the line every day for less pay than they deserve so that we Americans can sit in front of our plasma televisions and watch crappy reality TV shows, drive nice cars, eat great food, and generally not have to worry about anything of substance.

Dogs. Never trust anyone that doesn't like dogs. They're loyal. They'd die for you, and all they want in return is some dried food, some petting, and the occasional piece of bacon.

Reversing the growing oppression of the proletariat in today's society. We, uhhh, think this is a good idea. (This one nearly made La Gringa snarf hot tea all over her keyboard.)

Hot chicks. Honestly, aren't they the reason we do anything? (Well, okay. I'd have to agree with this one.)