Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year? Doubtful.

With the New Year rapidly approaching, a mere number of alcohol-soaked hours away, I find myself pondering the completely arbitrary and pointlessly ritualistic changing of the calendar year, and what it means about the events that have occurred over the past twelve months. For this truly is a holiday meant for reflection and anticipation, a weighing of the past's influences and whatever the future might hold.

Normally, the changing over of the old year to the new one is represented by the iconic images of Old Man Time and Baby New Year. The white-bearded elderly soul, back bent and crippled from the trials and tribulations of his past experiences, hands off the baton of responsibility for forging through yet another year to the innocent diaper-clad newborn, and scampers off on withered legs and a crooked cane without even attempting to warn this naive cherub about the horrors that await his brief and harrowing existence.

ⓘSAW †he dirty soul ☠Part I☠Image by CornĂ©rStonĂ© via Flickr
Being a movie fanatic, I prefer to personify the New Year by comparing it to a film that contains the essence of what the holiday represents. In this case, with the complete nightmare that this past year has become, I don't seem to be able to shake the feeling that January 1 is coming upon us with all of the harsh brutality of a Saw sequel. Just look back at the massive amounts of abject misery and mindless destruction that have occurred over the length of 2010, and ringing in the New Year raises the same levels of terror and dread as waking up strapped into some psychotic cancer patient's homicidal shop project and hearing a prerecorded message explain exactly how gruesome your impending demise is going to be.

This past year has been so screwed up, they might as well have replaced last year's Time's Square ball drop with a bicycle-riding Jigsaw puppet rolling on to every television set in America:

"Hello people. I want to play a game. This coming year, your house values will be driven down by reckless and opportunistic lending practices. Unemployment rates will hover indefinitely high while new jobs are shipped overseas, and soulless corporations alter their business models to exploit the fear of downsizing to squeeze uncompensated productivity out of their underpaid workers. As you struggle to keep your head (and mortgage) above water, your ineffectual political leaders with put on lavish shows of false concern and hollow efforts of economic restoration as your quality of life rapidly deteriorates. Live or die, the choice is yours. Actually, you have no control over it whatsoever; you're basically doomed. Have fun." 

Instead of being a time of hope and celebration, this New Year's is like surviving one horrible Jigsaw trap, with other victims viciously destroyed before your eyes while you cling tenaciously to life, only to get shoved through a time-locked door where yet another perilous struggle for survival awaits you. I'm to the point where I'd rather wake up with a spring-loaded mechanical trap strapped to my face and a key surgically implanted in my scrotum than face whatever mindless, spirit-shredding madness 2011 has in store for us. Instead of slowly descending during Dick Clark's uncomfortably humorous countdown, that giant geodesic sphere hanging over Times Square should plummet to the pavement, eject hundreds of spring loaded spikes, then tumble at full speed down Broadway like a giant spiked bowling ball of death and destruction, impaling the crushed and mutilated corpses of the helpless inebriated onlookers, rolling over the unsuspecting crowds in much the same way that 2011 will eventually bulldoze over what's left of spirits.

So, this is Scott from Moviesucktastic, wishing you a Happy New Year, a fun New Year's Eve celebration, and a quick, painless death at the hands of our destructive sociopath Baby New Year.

Game Over. 

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dream Diary: Treasure Hunt

double scope ice cream coneImage via WikipediaI had this weird dream last night.

A group of people and I are involved in some kind of elaborate scavenger hunt that centers around us following clues and riddles scribbled on a pile random slips of papers, coasters, napkins and envelopes. One specific clue leads us onto an old fishing vessel, where we try to figure out the coordinates left behind be a dead fisherman that will supposedly lead us to the location of the Loch Ness Monster's ocean home. We figure it out when one of his former shipmates tells us that his old partner would often write the coordinates down wrong. This somehow enables us to figure out the right numbers, which lead us to a tape recording of the dead fisherman's voice under a pile of newspapers in the same room.

Meanwhile, in an unrelated portion of the dream, a serial killer has body wrapped tight in Saran Wrap, and is digging a hole in the floor of a cabin in which to hide it. The body, which bares a striking resemblance to Bryan Cranston from the AMC series Breaking Bad, has its face wrapped tightly with the plastic, mouth opened wide as if screaming. Suddenly, he comes to life, tears through the plastic and attacks his would-be murderer. I never return to this scene, and so I am unsure of the outcome of the struggle. 

Meanwhile, back at the bizarre treasure hunt... this clue-driven challenge somehow involves time travel (of course), and at one point I find myself walking through a lightly snow-covered field with an older woman. We reach a house supposedly belonging to her, at which point she asks if I am from the future. I confess that I am, and she asks me if I can do something about coffee cups when I go back. It seems that the paper coffee cups of whatever time I am currently in keep igniting when she drinks coffee, as she likes to smoke at the same time. I assure her that there is no need to worry; the coffee cups of the future are thick, heavy, and highly flame retardant. I then return to my future time to discover that, reminiscent of Ray Bradbury's A Sound of Thunder, my conversation with the woman has somehow resulted in all modern day coffee cups looking like ice cream cones.

Taking a moment to assess my situation, I thumb through the stack of clues and realize that there is no way I am going to finish this bizarre game before I wake up. Then I wake up.

Analysis: No more eating Coffee Ice Cream while watching Dexter reruns.
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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Scott's Dream Diary - Giving Unto Caesar

Benjamin-Constant-The Throne Room In ByzantiumImage via WikipediaHad this weird dream last night. I thought I was a Roman Soldier transported to modern times, and walked into a Roman-themed casino wearing a toga, carrying a broken spear, and demanding to speak to Caesar.

It turns out that they have an actor who sits in a throne room pretending to be Julius Caesar, so for some reason the staff decides to humor me and take me to him. They take me to the entrance of the "Throne Room," where I kneel and bow, and allow the broken spear to be taken away from me. I then spend the next ten or fifteen minutes talking to Caesar about fate and one's importance in the world, while the actor goes along and plays the part, possibly enjoying the chance to finally do some real acting. I can't recall the specifics of the conversation, but it was tinged with sadness about being out of place and time, and how we shape our own destiny.

At the end of our conversation, he grips my shoulder with a firm squeeze full of emotion, looks me straight in the eye, gives me a knowing nod, and comps me $10 on the nickel slots. Then I wake up.

Verdict: I've been playing too much Fallout: New Vegas before bedtime.
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Friday, December 10, 2010

PETA: Dead Puppies Aren't Much Fun

I have a theory that 70% of the people that complain about PETA going "too far" are just upset because the organizati­on's extreme push against animal cruelty makes them question their own inattentio­n to the consequenc­es of their actions, and they hate being made to think so much. The other 30% just enjoy complainin­g.

As far as the commercial goes, I think it woks on both angles. The message of the ad agrees with responsibl­e and emotional side of me that hates to think of animals being tortured and murdered to feed the pet industry, while the morbid humor of the ad appeals to the side of me that thinks children playing with dead dogs is funny. See? Everybody wins.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

100 Notable Books of 2010

HALLATROW, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 12:  Seco...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
The holidays are already upon us; time to start making that list of books you should have read this year as potential stocking-stuffers. The New York Times Sunday Book Review has been gracious enough to help us out be releasing their top 100 list of notable books released in 2010, soon to also appear in the December 5 edition of the Book Review.

Anybody have any titles to add to the list? What novels did the New York Times overlook this year?

100 Notable Books of 2010 - Holiday Gift Guide -
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O'Reilly: WikiLeaks Leakers Are Traitors, Should Be Executed

Bill O'Reilly's predictabl­y insane declaratio­ns aside, the react of our Government and News Media over the latest round of WikiLeaks documents is very reminiscen­t of the reaction to the potential release of the Abu Ghraib pictures way back when. Not the supposedly comical Frat Prank ones that made the rounds, but the pictures that weren't released, that were viewed behind locked doors by our political leaders; pictures featuring rape, murder, depraved forms of torture, and other happy-go-l­ucky Snuff Film material worthy of a seventies Italian cannibal film.

The documents being released now are nowhere as bad as the pictures of America's treatment of foreign prisoners in Abu Ghraib, but both involve the airing of dirty laundry. Back then, as is now, the cry of the powerful and enlightene­d was not that these things shouldn't have happened, and steps must be made to prevent them from occurring in the future. Instead we see only a mad scramble of ass-covera­ge, shrouded in complaints that the release of documents revealing the truth of how things are done behind the scenes will hurt us in the eyes of the world. No pause is taken to discuss the implicatio­ns of the truth; instead, our time is wasted arguing whether or not the truth should be known in the first place.

I have no real solution to offer regarding this. Just pondering the state of things, which I am beginning to realize is never a healthy mental exercise.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost
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Monday, November 29, 2010

The Big Lie of Black Friday Economic Recovery, Take Two

We went through this same nonsense last year. The mad rush to cash in on bargains on Black Friday spawned headlines screaming "What Recession?­" and articles featuring pictures of shopping carts overflowin­g with widescreen television­s, with newscaster­s and journalist­s practicall­y giddy over the concept of "consumer confidence­" (a disgusting term in itself) as they predict this sudden shift in spending habits is an indicator of a waning recesssion­, and not just a typical spike in holiday shopping. Then, after New Year's Eve has come and gone, more subdued articles are released, sans pictures and exclematio­ns, with numbers showing an actual decrease in holiday shopping.

I understand that the news media is desperate to fill empty space on a regular basis, but when the lies and distortion­s become cyclical and predictabl­e, if not just boring, you have to start asking yourself why we even bother anymore. Granted, the supposed improvemen­t projected this Christmas season might have been influenced somewhat by the recent increase in high-end spending by the wealthy as reported last week, but the this rehash of unfounded hopefulnes­s is still adding to the nation's already plentiful seasonal depression­.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost
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Friday, November 26, 2010

Yet Another Bank Commercial That Pisses Me Off

Does this commercial piss off anybody else besides me?

Here we have an average blue-collar worker (notice the clean suit and tie) with a decent job (notice how he has an overseas business "colleague" that sends him surprise gifts, and not a co-worker that drew his name in a Secret Santa pool with a $10 limit) that apparently pays well (notice the clean and modern kitchen of what appears to be an expensive city apartment) that receives two unexpected surprises: A rare and popular toy from a Japanese "colleague," and a $1000 prize from entering in a contest by activating a Citibank credit card.

Now, the intended sentimental holiday message is supposed to be about an ordinary guy who is inspired to give a valuable toy away to charity by the generosity of his credit card's financial institution. All I can see, however, is the story a greedy corporate douche who receives a gift that turns out to be quite valuable, and so immediately begins fantasizing about all of the money he can make by auctioning off a children's toy to the high bidder online for a boatload of cash that he doesn't appear to be hurting for.

But then he wins $1000 dollars in an advertising scheme designed to convince economically inexperienced individuals to unwittingly enslave themselves to a financial institution at 20% APR for the rest of their natural lives with the promise of fabulous cash prizes to be won. So, now that he has lucked into a chunk of unearned excess income already, he decides to donate to charity, not out of the kindness of his heart or the eagerness to do good, but because now it has become exceedingly convenient for him to do so. Then, instead of donating the $1000 to a charitable organization dedicated to housing and feeding the homeless, he takes the valuable toy that didn't cost him a dime, and will be worthless in six months anyway, and drops it in the nearest toy-drive bin.

A bank attempts to sell memberships to their credit-cards with the false promise of easy money by disguising it as a demonstration of the desire to do good to others by donating to charity, and they still can't manage to make it any less shallow than some greedy prick who only considers being charitable when it becomes extraordinarily convenient and manages to not cost him a penny.

This commercial is the perfect example of:

a) How screwed up we are as a nation and a culture, and
b) Why I shouldn't be watching any television this holiday season.
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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gospel of the Money River

God Bless You, Mr. RosewaterImage via Wikipedia"Perhaps, if they stopped believing in crazy things like a Money River, and go to work, they would stop having such a rotten time."

"If there isn't a Money River, then how did I just make ten thousand dollars today, just by snoozing and scratching myself, and occasionally answering the phone?"

"It's still possible for an American to make a fortune on his own."

"Sure - provided somebody tells him when he's young that there is a Money River, that there's nothing fair about it, that he had damn well better forget about hard work and the merit system and honesty and all that crap, and get to where the river is. 'Go where the rich and powerful are,' I'd tell him, 'and learn their ways. They can be flattered and they can be scared. Please them enormously or scare them enormously, and one moonless night they will put their finger to their lips, warning you not to make a sound. And they will lead you through the dark to the widest, deepest river of wealth ever known to man, You'll be shown your place on the riverbank, and handed a bucket all your own. Slurp as much as you want, but try to keep the racket of your slurping down. A poor man might hear.'"

God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater - Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
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O'Reilly Strikes Back At The Simpsons For Fox News Jab (VIDEO)

First of all, I love the fact that Bill O'Reilly implies that Fox should manipulate and control the creative output of the shows broadcasting in its entertainment division so that they don't clash or interfere with the public image of its news/entertainment channel. I guess the idea of controlling the message by suppressing alternative views seems like a no-brainer to Bill.

But, more importantly, I am totally smitten with Bill's refusal to take any negative criticism from a cartoon. Speaking out against critics and detractors is one thing, and defending yourself against comedians and satirists is another, but complaining about a joke in a cartoon takes it all to an entirely new level of whining narcissism that is almost (almost) funner than the actually Simpsons clip shown.

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost
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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Denis Leary: People Only Pretend To Read Franzen (VIDEO)

So, Denis Leary's selling pitch for his new book Suck On This Year is that other books have too many pages. It's nice to know that somebody out there has the guts to market their book specifically to lazy people and functional illiterates. As far as his assertion that most people only pretend to read Jonathan Franzen, I guess that could be true. After all, most people only pretend to think Denis Leary is funny. I guess it worked out well for both of their careers. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go and pretend to read How to Escape From a Leper Colony.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost
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House Passes Ban On Crush Videos

Sorry animal-lovers, but as cruel and barbaric as these "crush videos" are, they are not exactly what you would call a widespread epidemic, and far from what I would consider a major issue requiring swift and decisive action. With all of the problems sweeping this nation, and the impending gridlock of the upcoming GOP-run House, it is depressing that this is the kind of stuff lawmakers are fine-tuning to be more effective. I guess they all just want to be able to point out having accomplished SOMETHING, even if it is simply making it easier to prosecute individuals selling hamster snuff films.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost
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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Jon Stewart Responds To The "False Equivalency" Critique Of The Rally To Restore Sanity

I think a lot of people are overlooking something important when it comes to the lame pseudo-controversy surrounding the Jon Stewart / Stephen Colbert Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. The reaction of the news shows, pundits and supposed reporters, singled out during the event for their alarmist and disinforma­tion-brand of journalism, have spent all of their time dissecting the rally's overall message, and no time whatsoever examining the target of the rally's overall theme: themselves.

Predictably, the talking heads have taken an immediately defensive stances, eschewing reflective self-examination for more self-serving denials and complaints. The most humorous of these are the more liberal voices, like Keith Olbermann or Bill Maher, who are now bristling at being lumped into the same category as Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity. Olbermann's was especially funny, as he prefaced his complaint with a suspension of his "Worst Persons in the World" segment in acknowledgement that Stewart's argument was wholly unfounded.

The "They Do It Worse" complaint is not only a poor excuse for an overall culture of shoddy and sensationalist reporting in the news media, it is illustrative of the overall point: news media channels and personalities alike are more concerned with their public image and approval ratings (or just ratings) than they are with transcending the rhetoric and simply reporting the facts.

Take the hit, guys. Stop whining about the dig, spare us the pity party, and start cleaning up your act.

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost
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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Book Quotes: Death Wish

Cover of "Death Wish"Cover of Death Wish
"There are times I'm convinced there is nothing more to existence in this world than a black desert where blind people pick up rocks and grope around to kill one another."
 - Brian Garfield, Death Wish
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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It's nice to know that someone cares what I think...

Performed by Lugosi (Volume 0)In this case, that someone is Susan Whitfield, who has posted an interview with me on her author review blog. In the interview, Susan asks me about my background, my writing habits, my projects, and my latest book, Performed by Lugosi. Stop over at her blog and read all about me, browse her other author interviews when you get bored with mine, and post flattering comments about my author photo if you are so inclined. Come on, you know you want to.
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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Why Aren't Republicans Funny?

Chistine O'Donnell's new "I'm not a witch" commercial is depressingly reminiscent of Sarah Palin running with the "Palm Notes" debacle, and underlines one of the major flaws of most republicans: they truly have no noticeable sense of humor. Palin and O'Donnell trying to act like they are good sports who are in on the joke, or firing back with staff-written jabs of their own, always fails with an audible thud. Why do most far Right Wingers have no comprehension of satire or parody, or even a basic understanding of the form and function of a joke?

2 9 10 Bearman Cartoon Sarah Palins HandImage by Bearman2007 via FlickrThis isn't an isolated incident, either. A recent poll showed that a large number of conservatives did not realize that the Colbert Report was satire; they thought he was actually championing conservative causes, albeit in a humurous way. They didn't get the joke. Could it be that buying into the Republican world view actually divorces you from reality and the human condition so much that you no longer understand what is humorous? It would explain why Dennis Miller stopped being funny once he gave up his impartial comedian status and became a dedicated toe-the-line conservative commentator.

Still don’t see the connection? Remember Fox News' short-lived attempt at a Daily Show-type comedy news series, the 1/2 Hour News Hour? Yeah, most people don’t. Yet another audible thud.
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Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Funeral for Mickey

Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park

There were many guests at my sixth birthday party. Among those in attendance were Mickey Mouse, Fred Flintstone, and the rock band KISS. Actually, KISS was present in name only, their logo plastered across my t-shirt in a rather unusual and ill-advised form of product placement advertising. Then again, perhaps it wasn’t that inappropriate; the fact that KISS t-shirts were available in my size suggests that there was plenty of money to be made in even the youngest demographic.

It feels strange to refer to the other guests, the other children present at my sixth birthday party, as my friends. I have no idea who any of them were. There are no names or fond memories available to attach to blurry, frozen faces laughing in this Kodachrome moment from the past. Friends from that age seem almost inconsequential, casual relationships dictated more by classrooms and neighborhoods than any innate desire to bond with others. We probably had very little in common besides shared classrooms. Otherwise, I might not have been the only one endorsing KISS so publicly at my birthday party.

My fondness for KISS had no basis on musical taste. Posters of Gene Simmons breathing fire and walking on foot-long spiked platform shoes in studded leather garb hung on my bedroom wall, yet I owned none of their albums. The closest I ever came to listening to their music was watching the television special KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park. I can only assume that my parents encouraged this fascination because of the cuteness factor inherent in a kindergartner running around in a KISS t-shirt making Gene Simmons devil faces.

Despite my affection for the flamboyantly costumed rock band, there were no KISS related decorations at my sixth birthday party. Instead, the centerpiece of the event was a large cake in the shape of a more wholesome and kid-friendly Mickey Mouse. The Disney theme did not extend far beyond the cake, however, as the plates and cups all featured Fred Flintstone. I guess that is the one benefit to catering a party for children; they don’t put much emphasis on coordination or consistent presentation as long as there is cake, ice cream, and a pile of gift wrapped goodies..

The Mickey Mouse cake turned out to be a huge hit, although not quite in the way it had been intended. The cake looked great sitting on the table, but after the candles were blown out and the cake was cut, the removal of a portion of Mickey’s ear exposed a dark, rich, red interior. I don’t know who was first to point out the blood-red filling’s resemblance to freshly cut flesh, but it wasn’t long before we were all joining in, a group of six year olds laughing and giggling as we gleefully screamed that my parents had killed Mickey Mouse. As we rejoiced over the ritualistic vivisection of a cartoon icon, a party balloon in the other room suddenly popped, inspiring someone to shout out “Oh no! They got Goofy!” My parents did little to discourage our behavior, and so our sugar-fueled imaginations kept us ranting about cartoon character safaris until parents finally started arriving to remove my party guests one by one.

I have no recollection whatsoever of the presents received on my sixth birthday. The memory of my gifts, no matter how much I treasured them then, have since faded from the slide show of my childhood’s most cherished moments. Yet I will never forget the touching image of me and my friends celebrating Mickey Mouse’s mutilated, frosting-covered corpse.
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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ray Bradbury Corrupts Young Girls

Talk about your Book Lust! Here's a NSFW tribute to one of Science Fiction's most prolific authors:

Why do I get the feeling that follow-ups for Isaac Asimov and Philip K. Dick are already on the way?
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Monday, July 5, 2010

Total Eclipse of the Killers

Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) - The Twilight Sa...Image by Nayara - Oliveira via Flickr

This weekend's episode of the MovieSucktastic podcast is up and available for your Fourth of July listening pleasure. After all, why would you blast Creedence Clearwater Revival or Nickelback by the poolside when you could subject your pool party guests to the fevered rantings of a man forced to watch both Killers and The Twilight Saga: Eclipse in one sitting?

Yes, episode #17 of MovieSucktastic features reviews by yours truly after a harrowing night spent huddled in the front seat of my car at Becky's Drive-In while the feature films Killers and Twilight: Eclipse unfolded before me like two great oceans of pain and indifference. After last episode's positive review of The A-Team, it was nice to hunker down in familiar territory and spew the usual spiteful yet informative venom about some movies that violently sucked several hours of my life into the Godless abyss in which all bad movies store the life energies of their victims.Needless to say, I wasn't as enthralled by Ashton Kutcher or Taylor Lautner as the gaggle of twittering teenage girls packed into the SUVs surrounding my car.

This little foray into my total despair at being asked by the ticket booth girl whether I belonged to Team Jacob or Team Edward can be listened to or downloaded from iTunesPodcast

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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Amazon Puts 70% Royalty in Place for DTP Publishing

Image representing Amazon Kindle as depicted i...Image via CrunchBase
Amazon Puts 70% Royalty in Place for DTP Publishing

Well, it looks like Amazon might be dragging the big publishing companies into the new technology once again.

One of my main complaints with eBooks has always been that the publishing companies were raking in extra cash at the expense of both the artist and the consumer: with eBooks being sold at the same or similar price as physical books in most cases, publishers were successfully eliminating printing and shipping costs, but without passing the those savings onto to the artist through larger royalties, or the consumer with lower prices.

Tackling this issue has been a long time coming. The massive writer's strike in the entertainment industry a couple of years ago was over very similar circumstances; distribution companies were tapping into extra income streams through new media distribution channels (such as streaming video and video on demand), but were being extremely vague about these new ventures when it came to sharing royalties with writers under contracts written up before the explosion of communications technology advancements. It is actually shocking that book publishers have been able to deflect similar arguments and concerns for so long.

Now, with Amazon offering 70% royalties for sales on books priced between $2.99 and $9.99, Amazon is effectively forcing the publisher's hand on their sketchy pricing policies regarding new technology book sales, while also easing criticisms of their price reduction policies. This should not only improve writer confidence in releasing works in eBook format, but the lower pricing involved with the royalty shift should also result in increased book sales. Of course, Kindle sales might also increase a bit, which I'm sure is one of the main motivating factors behind the move.

I'm sure a lot of people in the industry will have some very persuasive and logical arguments on why this new royalty scale for eBook publishing is a bad thing. But I seriously doubt any of them will be able to convince me that either the publisher or the artist will stand to lose any money.
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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Book Review - My Footprint by Jeff Garlin

Having never watched Curb Your Enthusiasm (yeah, I'm THAT guy), my only familiarity with Jeff Garlin in the past has been recognizing his voice as the Ship's Captain in Wall-E. So when I picked up his book, My Footprint: Carrying the Weight of the World, I did so with no preconceived notions or expectations, other than that I was about to read a humorous story about one man's quest to lose weight and 'Go Green'. I give this disclaimer only to separate myself from those familiar with Garlin who have gone on to either devotedly praise the book or trash it because they expected so much more.

As someone who has struggled with weight loss, I found a great deal of sincerity and honesty in Garlin's writing. Unlike many books on the subject, Garlin focuses more on the ease of failure rather than success, and how hard it can be to change ingrained and previously unrecognized habits formed over a lifetime. Like most comics, Garlin turns as harsh an eye onto himself as he does others, and he is the first to make a joke at his own expense, adding a glaring truthfulness to the recording of his attempts at weight loss. Without this kind of sardonic and insightful self-awareness, the book (and his journey) would ring hollow. In this respect, Garlin's book is a resounding success. Where it falls short, however, is the overall reading experience. Despite the author's obvious desire to take the reader on a journey through his own experiences, there is no real flow to the novel, and progressing through it feels more like a stumble through disjointed thoughts and anecdotes than it does a trip through one man's story of self-discovery.

Perhaps what hurts Garlin's book more than helps it is the diary format. While this approach might seem like the logical choice for the author's desire to bring his readers along on his journey of self-improvement, it can often feel as random and disjointed as, well, a diary. Much of the ground covered within the book is spread thin and jumbled nonsensically, resulting in a disjointed structure that continually fails to draw the reader in. If Garlin had taken the time to arrange his thoughts and experiences into whole chapters dedicated to a particular focus, like a chapter about the pitfalls of dieting on set ("How to CURB Your Appetite") or his experiences with Ed Begley Jr. ("My Green Guru"), then perhaps his struggles would have had more of a literary impact. Even more importantly, he might have been more successful in thematically joining his desires to lose weight and decrease his carbon footprint, rather than have them continue to feel like two almost unrelated personal goals. If the idea behind the format was that our increasingly Twitter-truncated communication culture would make a book in bite-sized segments more popular, it was a bad idea. Most readers, despite the popularity of text messaging and Facebook status updates, prefer to read books that are more than just random thoughts and musings jotted down throughout the day and faxed to an editor.

This isn't to say that Garlin's book is bad. As I said earlier, his struggles with weight loss and environmental awareness are inspiring as they are humorous. But the way in which he tells his tale makes the book feel like little more than an afterthought. In the end, as endearing and humorous as it might be in spots, My Footprint comes off as haphazard and unstructured as Garlin's admittedly slipshod approach to dieting, leading to the wish that he had struggled to improve his writing before writing about his struggles to improve.
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Monday, June 21, 2010

The Holocaust Ended? In Jeannette Katzir's "Broken Birds", Her Mother Brings It With Her To Los Angeles

Jeannette Katzir's struggle to get Broken Birds: The Story of My Momila published serves as yet another example of why "self-publishing" should be treated as a legitimate form of literary output, and not looked down upon by industry insiders. Publishers more concerned with market trends than exceptional writing or storytelling are constantly passing over books and authors that do not easily fit in whatever niche markets the publishers and agents are gearing towards that particular quarter.

This focus on markets is understandable as far as the business end of publishing is concerned, but adds doubt to the argument that self-published authors aren't "real" authors because they haven't proven themselves by passing through the various filters of the system. For every book rejected for inferior writing, there is undoubtedly one (if not more) passed over merely because it isn't the right time, or sales in that genre are currently lackluster.

Keep this story in mind the next time you consider passing over a Self-Published book because it isn't a "real" book. Some might resort to self-publishing because they couldn't get past the editor, but there are just as many that couldn't make it past the publicist.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost
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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

MovieSucktastic Episode 16: The A-Team and Drive-Ins

Yes, the MovieSucktastic podcast is back on schedule, after an extended hiatus so I could (unsuccessfully) attempt to track down co-host Joey, who was abducted last month by militant Avatar fanatics in retaliation for my past anti-Avatar reviews.

But the hunt is over now, and I am back in action and well into the MovieScottastic swing of things with my full-on review of The A-Team, which I screened at Becky's Drive-In. This, of course, also leads to a brief rant about moviegoers and drive-in moviegoers, and their never ending quest to ruin the movie-going experience for the general public. Here's a quick preview: what do you do when a crying baby isn't loud enough to disrupt the film? Bring the dogs along as well, of course.

So tune in and check out the latest on the A-Team, as well as my opinion on the film's lack of a Mr. T cameo. I pity the fool who doesn't listen to the latest episode, either at iTunes, Podcast Alley, or Current plans for the next episode include reviews of Killers, The Human Centipede, and Deadtime Stories..

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