Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Here's your handy-dandy vampchart.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
She got back to me not long after that and told me, bluntly, that the book would never sell to a mainstream house.
People aren't buying newspapers today, she told me . . . so who would buy a book about newspapers?
While that fact is increasingly significant, I still thought it was a good idea. 48 million people read a newspaper every day, and that doesn't count the millions of readers of a few thousand community weekly papers -- and a large number of American who don't read any papers at all, but are interested in business, the economy, futurism, and publishing.
I can try to get another agent who might believe in the book – hell, I got Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and NYT bestselling author Edna Buchanan to agree to write the foreword for me – but then I started thinking about a less traditional publishing route, where I could capitalize on publishing on the Web and stir up some viral word of mouth.
Yesterday I contacted Jeff Jarvis, the guy who wrote What Would Google Do? and who has a blog all about journalism, technology and the death/rebirth of news, and I asked for his advice -- is there a venue on the Web where a book like this could be published, maybe week by week, and raise not only public interest, but some money? Is there a venue where a potential publisher could see it?
His response, like my agent's, was brutally honest.
No. There isn't a market for a book about a dying industry.
He had already tried to market a book of his own, and his publisher didn't even want to hear about it.
If Jeff couldn't sell his book, then what chance would I, a mere 14-year veteran of ad sales and marketing, ever have?
If you're even remotely interested, the introduction is here. I based it on a blog post about the RTD ten months ago, but I've expanded it and opened it up, setting the stage for the rest of the now-dead book which was to be about the potential reinvention of the industry.
Here's the title:
THE SLOW AND AGONIZING ALMOST-TOO-PAINFUL-
TO-WATCH EXTINCTION OF THE GREAT METROPOLITAN DINOSAUR
A Tough Love Guide to Kick Newspapers Off Their Brontosaurian Asses and Into the 21st Century . . . or Die
Oh well. Thank you anyway, Jeff -- I appreciate your honesty.
So it's time to put this project behind me and ramp it up with the novel. My agent wants rewrites, and I agree.
More than I ever wanted to admit, it's time to cut. It's time to sing.
It's time to leave the past -- and the dead -- behind.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Like the geek I am, I've always been interested in the origins of the Mansion, both in terms of its special effects and whatever sources were influences to its designers. I covered most of the FX in two articles I wrote for Storyboard Magazine way back in 1989 (under my real first name, Howard).
Specific influences, however, have been harder to confirm. I guessed years ago that the Hallway of Doors was based on a scene in Robert Wise's 1960 film, The Haunting. Just this year, one of the Mansion's designers admitted they studied The Haunting for ideas.
Now I've stumbled upon a couple of other possible influences, these from the '50s, that I never would have guessed. But they make perfect sense, especially to Imagineers who had been pimply-faced comic readers a few years before.
You be the judge:
Madam Leota's seance:
The caretaker at the graveyard:
Were these the inspirations for the Hitchhiking Ghosts and their mirror alcoves?
The Ghost Host (note the elongated angle and the portraits on each side):
My only problem with the essay is the use of a word I see misused on the Internet frequently: renown. Renown is a noun; renowned, the form that should have been used in this essay, is an adjective. Maybe it was just a typo, but I see it used wrong on the Net all the time.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
And this is about the Republicans who follow them mindlessly. Who want to see blood spilled in our political forums like it was the Springer show. Who play follow the leader blindly, believing all the while that their belief in the American Way and God will protect them as they stomp on their own sisters and brothers in the name of low taxes, states' rights and, the holiest of holies, freedom.
Republicans have no monopoly on God, nor on every American's Constitutional rights. Both are as much the property of Democrats, Liberals, and the United Federation of Planets as they are of anyone else, but that won't stop the vast right-wing conspiracy from rewriting the Bible in their own image. Nor will it stop the Republitards from trying to make end-runs around the President and kow-tow to today's would-be Castros. Nor will it stop the racial hatred, nor the childish insults and lies, and the anti-American government hatred...a government they're part of.
It's all the temper-tantrum behavior of spoiled brats who can't get what they want: the return to complete and unlimited political power.
Paul Krugman gets it absolutely right in the New York Times. He knows how the 12-year olds are trying to break into daddy's liquor cabinet and blame the other guys at the party. Joe Conason gets it right over at Salon.com, where he says what no one else is saying about the Republican bullshit: "a cascade of slurs, threats and rhetorical violence that reanimates all of the worst themes of the bad old [Clinton] days."
Just how bad are the catcalls, the insults, the slurs, the lies, the mocking, and the juvenile, incoherent hatred aimed at anyone who is not a Republican? Here. Read for yourself how the Democratic candidate for governor here in Virginia is being treated. Watch the video. Judge for yourself if children who behave like this should ever be given charge of our sandbox.
Frankly, the little bitches need to be spanked.
I'd like to say to the Republicans, "Shame on you."
But I can face the facts.
They have no shame.
The jury is still out on their humanity.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
But Dracula is not only a good book, it's a great book -- an allegorical archetype that has proved as deathless as its title character. And Dracula the Un-Dead, co-written by Stoker's great-great-nephew and by a Dracula scholar, is not great, nor even remotely good. Instead it's a big-budget, Hollywood equivalent of a timeless, supernatural classic: filled with dumb, uninspired action, disrespectful, spiteful of its far-superior predecessor, and plotted with pointless rush-rush* that only the least discriminating reader will enjoy. It has a couple of good ideas, but the whole endeavor is so amateurishly executed that it should drive a stake through its own heart and put the public out of our literary misery.
This sequel, the first of a planned trilogy, subverts Stoker's classic in many ways: it changes the timeline, it ties the action in with the murders committed by Jack the Ripper five years prior to the action in Dracula, and it makes a mockery of the honor and sacrifice of the original's characters by killing them off in the most ignoble of ways. If the original was so wrong in so many ways, why even bother to capitalize on it with a sequel?
The real villain of this novel -- the behind the scenes evil genius of the secret-story premise -- is Countess Elizabeth Bathory, the Blood Countess of history and legend. She's been used before in Dracula tales, and will be used again -- she's just too convenient not to use. At the same time, using her is not original at all -- it's old hat, as is the book's concept of vampirism: we've seen it all on the screen, in Buffy, Lost Boys and Fright Night: grotesque mockeries of humanity aided and abetted by metamorphing CGI. There's no relationship here between the undead of the original, nor even the undead of the single best Dracula-inspired novel, 1975's 'Salem's Lot by Stephen King. King's creation of Barlow, who is clearly the Dracula the 20th and 21st centuries deserve, is so far above and away from this book's Dracula, who at best is a cardboard character, weak and utterly gentrified. He's less the Lord of the Undead and the Prince of Darkness and more like Count Chocula. Bleh. Bleh.
By the time the reader reaches the revelations at the end, anyone who cares about Dracula will not care about the climax. There has been no restraint; no elegance. It's all pandering to a commercial audience instead of telling a brilliant and creative story deserving of the original.
Dracula may be undead, but this book is Dracula the Un-Readable.
* Pointless rush-rush" is a term borrowed from a review of Surrogates in the Los Angeles Times. It captures perfectly the unintelligent pacing and action endemic in Hollywood's youth-oriented action films today. I plan on using it a lot.