Monday, December 3, 2012

New Release - Legends of Urban Horror Anthology

Today is release day ... sort of! My latest story, 'The Bridesmaid,' is featured in Siren's Call's newest anthology, Legends of Urban Horror: A Friend of a Friend Told Me. In addition to my entry, there are some great spooky tales in here, so I highly recommend checking it out. Here's a short synopsis:

We’ve all come across them. The warnings told by a friend of a friend - don’t go in there, I wouldn’t if I were you, did you hear about…? Or perhaps your mind leaps to the cryptozoological realm - creatures barely glimpsed, and yet to be identified. Other spheres of existence - they can’t be real… certainly not until you’ve experienced one! Maybe the real horror lies in the minds and hearts of others just like you. People with a slightly bent perspective that feed on the fear in others. Twisted souls that would take advantage of the weak, or vulnerable. Those who believe they are doing good for a higher power, or to gain power simply for themselves. Petty vengeance that breathes a life of its own once unleashed. Whatever your poison, the ten stories in Legends of Urban Horror: A Friend of a Friend Told Me are sure to intrigue, and perhaps bring back fears long forgotten.

As an additional incentive, I'm posting a very short excerpt of the story for your enjoyment. Check it out, leave a review, let me know what you think!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Why Nate Silver is Awesome, but not a Wizard

The 2012 election is now officially over. The dust has (mostly) cleared, the winners and losers have been (mostly) identified, and the accountability game has started up. Who made the best predictions? The worst? Did Tagg Romney take a swing at anyone on election night?

Some of these questions may never be answered. But it's clear in the wake of the results that The New York Times' (and former DailyKOS blogger) Nate Silver is being heralded as a modern-day oracle, possessing of superhuman knowledge and predictive skills. #NateSilverFacts has taken off on Twitter, generating a list of impressive feats about the Chicago Economics-bred statistician (my favorite? "Nate Silver can recite pi -- backwards.")

Does he deserve the credit? Absolutely! He's been doing this since the 2008 primaries, and while he's always been known in political blogging circles, it's great to see him get some mainstream recognition. That said, equating him to a wizard is sort of problematic to me, not because Silver isn't awesome (again, he is -- his book, The Signal and the Noise, was one of my favorite reads this year), but because it highlights the fact that the rest of us should be doing a lot better.

This whole concept is especially interesting to me, as the novel I'm working on finishing up for NaNoWriMo (uh ... right after this post, I swear) is about a guy who predicts the future with mathematics (sort of akin to Foundation, but more fantastic than science fictional). So ... yeah.

With that in mind, I'd like to present a few reasons why Nate Silver is not a wizard -- and most of these assertions actually come from Silver himself.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday Fun: Overclock Remix's FFVI Kickstarter almost finished!

Happy Friday! It's been kind of a weird week (or two) what with all the Reddit stuff, politics, and getting ready to move into my house (my first time dealing with lenders, builders, landscapers, etc). So I thought I'd throw up something light for Friday -- look for this to continue on Fridays for the foreseeable future.

Today I want to talk about OverClock Remix. It's a fantastic website for anyone into video game music, and I'd be surprised if there are any VGM aficionados out there who haven't at least heard of it. It's essentially a community dedicated to remixing songs from video games and providing those remixes completely free-of-charge. If you need to take a peek at their body of work, all their songs are available at their website, and if you want to listen to a big chunk, their newly redone torrents containing every song they've ever done are likely to be right up your alley.

There's more, though. The past few years, OCRemix has gone from doing individual songs, to remixing entire game soundtracks. They've done soundtracks for Donkey Kong Country, Final Fantasy I,IV,V and VII, Wild Arms, Pokemon, Zelda and tons more. Now they've set their sights on one of my favorite games ever, Final Fantasy VI, with an album called Balance and Ruin. And not only are they releasing the music free, digitally, as they always have, but they've also created a Kickstarter for a physical release.

Check it out!

With a week left, they've wildly surpassed their goal (and even added physical releases of previous albums to the rewards!) but there are still slots left to get your hands on the album. To encourage you to kick a few bucks their way, I've posted some of my favorite tunes from the game. The first two are remixes from OCRemix, entitled "Cid in the Factory" and "Arab Painting." If you're new to the site, these two should give you an idea of the diversity of musical styles that OCRemix plays with.

And finally, I have to post the climax of the soundtrack: the ending theme. One of my favorite pieces from the entire series, it's a shame this has never been properly remixed or orchestrated. Hopefully Balance and Ruin changes that.

Have a chill weekend, and I'll see you next week!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Better than Nothing

[Content Warning: This is a piece about an underage prostitute, and is not particularly cheery]
    She makes herself smile as she slathers another coat of blush on her face. She thinks it makes her look like a clown but the other girls say it’s just the way things are and new pussy shouldn’t ask questions. The other girls never talk to her much, but she doesn’t really mind because they’re old and they’re scarred and they’re not nice, not even to each other. But it makes her miss her friends. She used to have friends.

    She walks out into the hall and Daddy’s sitting on the couch with his brother, smoking his bud. He’s not her real Daddy, of course -- she doesn’t know anything about her real Daddy other than he knocked Momma up in high school and left town right after. This Daddy doesn’t like when she interrupts his “me time,” but that’s pretty much all the time and she needs a ride to 36th and Prince because he said if she doesn’t make at least two hundred tonight he’d take it out on her ass.

    “Hey Daddy,” she says, but it comes out as more of a cough as the smoke dancing in the room hits her throat. Neither of the men notice her, so she says it again, and her voice sounds more like the 13-year-old girl she is than the 18-year-old girl she’s trying to look like.

    “Fuck you want?” Daddy says without looking up.

    “I need a ride.”

    “Ain’t my fuckin’ problem. You got your own two legs, don’t you?”

    “Yeah, I got legs,” she replies. Daddy doesn’t like it when you don’t answer his questions.

    “Then fuckin’ walk.”

    His words sting. She hates the way he talks to her now, but more than that, she hates herself for being so hurt by them. She sniffles, and Daddy holds out an arm. She backs away, afraid he’s gonna hit her, but he wiggles his fingers and she walks forward. He bends her down and places a soft kiss on her cheek.

    “Do good tonight, okay Baby? Do good and I’ll take you out.”

    “All right,” she says. “Night, Daddy.” She heads toward the door, holding a hand to her face. It reminds her of when she first met him, when he said he wanted to be with her forever.

    She picks her purse up off the ground. There’s nothing in it except a pack of condoms, some cheap lip gloss and a stick of gum. She found both of those on the sidewalk last night before the fat old man picked her up. She almost chewed the gum after he bust in her mouth, but now she’s glad she saved it cause her stomach is groaning and it’s not real food but at least it’s something.

    Outside it’s that strange sort of weather between snowing and not-quite. The grey sky makes it seem like a different world, and she wishes it was. It’s not cold outside and she almost thanks God, but then she knows she doesn’t have a whole lot thank God for ‘cause He could probably give her more than a warm night if He really wanted to. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

How Women Play The Game: Part Two of Five

Welcome to Part Two of my 'A Feast For Crows' blog series exploring the vastly different ways the women in the novel play The Game of Thrones. This will contain SPOILERSOMG up through the end of A Feast For Crows. The previous entry covers Cersei Lannister playing by the rules. This week, we're going to take a trip to the Iron Islands.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Reddit, Jezebel, Free Speech and Anonymity on the Internet

For those of you who don't follow Internet drama, congratulations. You almost certainly have a more fulfilling day-to-day life than I do. But there were some pretty interesting events over the past week that I feel compelled to write about.

Reddit is an extraordinarily popular website. It's basically an open slate -- users can submit links (or simply text, like questions or statements), other users vote these links up or down and the most highly upvoted jump to the top. Reddit has something of a problem with misogyny and racism, as you'd expect with an unmoderated site. One community in particular, known as /r/CreepShots, is wholly devoted to taking pictures of unknowing, non-consenting women's body parts in public (usually in tight pants or low-cut shirts) and posting them for users to masturbate to.

ShitRedditSays, a group formed to call out misogynist, racist bullshit on Reddit, started a media campaign to get CreepShots shut down. This was mostly a failure ... until yesterday, when all hell broke loose. A (now defunct) tumblr popped up detailing names and personal information of several of the CreepShots creeps, and Jezebel posted an in-depth story covering the controversy. Needless to say, Reddit was outraged. Partially because they love creepy shit, partially because they are of the mindset that unfettered free speech is an unassailable ideal in every single case, and that to censor anything will mean the death of a free society, and partially because they have an aversion to the concept of "doxxing," or posting the personal information of anonymous posters.

I'm not going to talk about Reddit loving creepy shit, because SRS does a fine job of that. Instead, I'll talk about the free speech/doxxing issue.

1) On free speech: Reddit is not the government. I'm completely behind the concept of free speech when it pertains to laws and government intervention. I'm not at all behind it when it comes to private spaces moderating what speech is acceptable. You are free to post whatever horrible racist drivel you want on the Internet. You are not free to post it on my website. Reddit moderating objectively terrible content like CreepShots is not a violation of free speech in any way, regardless of the legality of creepy pictures.

2) On doxxing: there's a hilarious double-standard for the Reddit hivemind here. Reddit defends CreepShots in the name of "free speech", and yet, is completely unwilling to do so for doxxing. Newsflash -- doxxing is legal and morally ambiguous in the same way CreepShots is. If you're defending CreepShots in the name of "it's legal speech," you have no ground to object to doxxing. Absolutely none.

All of this leads to an interesting idea: what if there was no anonymity on the Internet?

A radical idea, I know, though I'm hardly the first one to think about it. One of my college professors (Computer Science, natch) advocated this approach, and at the time, I had a knee-jerk reaction against it. But if you think about it a bit further, there are some benefits. For one, no more doxxing. If everything you post on the Internet has your real name right there for everyone to see, the worry that someone's going to out you, well ... disappears. In addition, some (not nearly all, unfortunately) of the consequence-free marginalizing blather will dry up as well. John Q. Smith is going to be a lot less willing to post a creepy picture of a woman's ass without her knowledge when an employer searching for "John Q. Smith" will bring up John's creepiness.

Downsides? Of course. It fucking sucks that the Internet has the mindset of "default = straight white male," and stepping outside of that opens you up to attacks. Many people choose not to fight against this, and refrain from identifying themselves as a woman, or gay, or transgender, to protect themselves. I totally understand. A non-anonymous Internet would take that strategy away from marginalized peoples, which I'm not totally comfortable doing. On the other hand, it's quite possible that the default assumption might disappear once the diversity of people on the Internet is made more clear.

There's also a host of smaller issues. It becomes a lot more difficult to do anything of questionable legality online, which is sort of ... good and bad. While I'm not really an advocate of piracy, I don't relish the idea of the RIAA having full access to torrent logs and the ability to match IP addresses to names. And I don't like the idea of being outed for your interest in fully legal, fully consensual furry pony porn.

But there needs to be some sort of solution. The idea that the Internet should be a consequence-free zone for the worst sorts of behavior going into the future is not acceptable to me. And while I know that to Reddit and 4Chan, this unrestrained nature is the very key to the Internet, but I simply don't see that as sustainable. When these doxxing and counter-doxxing and triple-reverse-revenge-doxxing start to happen everyday, I think we'll see a lot of people naturally move from the "what happens on the Internet doesn't count" model. The best course of action is likely for the Internet to remain anonymous, but for the vast majority of people to pretend like it isn't.

What do y'all think? Do the benefits of an anonymous Internet outweigh the use of anonymity as a shield for deplorable actions?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Review: Perdido Street Station by China Miéville

Perdido Street Station is not a light, afternoon read. That's not necessarily a criticism, but it's absolutely true. The book itself is not even all that long -- I mean, it's no My First Weird Fantasy, but neither is it Infinite Jest -- but it really feels as though it is. It's like a rare ribeye with béarnaise sauce compared to a $8.99 sirloin from Applebees -- whether or not the ribeye is any good, it certainly takes more conscious effort to enjoy and digest.

It's said that any story should only have one or two Big Ideas. These are the philosophical underpinnings of the story -- in layman's terms, they're what the story is *about* outside of the characters. Terminator is about time travel and robots. Those are its Big Ideas. Harry Potter is about a school for magic. That's its Big Idea.

One of the reasons Perdido Street Station feels so dense is that it purposely breaks that rule. This novel is about so many things. It's about art. It's about dreams. Artificial Intelligence, academia, justice, Theories of Everything, free/potential energy, gods, demons, technology. Miéville touches on all of them, and at such a pace that you're never quite sure where he's going with it. As soon as you're sure that this plot point is going to be the central conflict, it falls by the wayside and becomes a subplot or less. This lack of focus is at once breathtaking and aggravating. There is no denying that the novel could have been substantially trimmed, kept the same narrative and touched on almost all of the same themes. Miéville made a conscious decision to jam-pack his novel with a plethora of topics, not all of which pan out to satisfaction, and while I think that's a completely valid choice (as opposed to an objective mistake), it didn't quite work for me.

So what is the actual, central conflict of the novel? Well, we don't actually find out until about halfway through, and describing it ruins some of the surprise. The story revolves around New Crobuzon, a sprawling, dirty, amazing, problematic, multicultural city within the magical steampunk world of Bas-Lag. The initial circumstances that lead to the conflict concern Isaac, a researcher, and his secret girlfriend Lin, a khepri (that is, scarab-headed) artist. Isaac is attempting to use his research into "crisis energy" to help Yagharek, a garuda whose wings have been sheared off as punishment for an unknown crime, and who can no longer fly. Lin, meanwhile, has been commissioned to complete a massive sculpture by a twisted, deformed crime boss, and though she's in over her head, the chance to work on something so monumental is too tempting to pass up.

You might have noticed the races I mentioned -- khepri, garuda -- and those are just a few of the imaginative peoples Miéville uses to populate his world. Those races, incidentally, are the best part of the novel. If you've read other Bas-Lag novels (which I haven't), you might be familiar with some of them, but as a new reader I thoroughly enjoyed being introduced to races outside the traditional elf, human, dwarf fantasy triangle. We have the aforementioned khepri, people with scarab heads and human bodies, garuda, bird-people, cactacae, cactus-people (and as a fan of Final Fantasy, I couldn't help being reminded of cactuar), vodyanoi, humanoid frogs with watercrafting abilities, and more. Even when the narrative sags, Perdido Street Station is worth the read for Miéville's fully-realized use of novel, nonhuman societies.

And really, despite its sometimes heavy, meandering nature, I would recommend you read Perdido Street Station. It represents some true forward-thinking for the genre, and contains some absolutely amazing scenes and creations. I desperately want to give it a 4 out of 5, but to me, that attributes a certain level of "couldn't put it down!"-ness to the novel which it simply didn't possess for me. Indeed, I had to actively force myself to continue more than once.

To continue the metaphor, Perdido Street Station totally represents that expensive gourmet steak with a crazy French sauce and some vegetable you've never heard of. It's absolutely worth a taste, just to experience what an artist can do when all conventions are thrown out the window. But in the end, it's just slightly undercooked for my taste.

Perdido Street Station by China Miéville gets a 3.5 out of 5.

Friday, September 21, 2012

I've been infected with a virus ... and the only cure is blogging about my WIP!

Thanks to Jim Reader over at the Central Texas Home for the Terminally Twitchy infecting me with a viral bloghop, I've decided to share some information about my current work-in-progress (which is, of course, different from the book I'm currently shopping). I've also decided not to tag anyone else, as most of the writing friends who I know are working on novels have already been tagged. SO THERE!

What is the working title of your book?

Chanter: A Song of War

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I always forget the answer to this question as soon as I start writing. I remember the initial seed of the story came from the system of magic (which is based on music combined with the Japanese elements), partially because I love Bard-type classes in video games, and thought they'd never really been given the potential they deserved.

What genre does your book fall under?


Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Hmm. For Magdalena, possibly Christina Hendricks (but, like, a young Christina Hendricks) or Deborah Ann Moll (she's a bit too thin, but she seems to have the right sort of fiery temperament). For Professor Rylock, uh, maybe Clive Owen or Colin Firth? All are absurdly attractive, but then, lead actors sort of have to be attractive, right?

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A songstress with an incredible power and a researcher delving into the mathematics guiding magic work together to fend off vicious insectoid invaders.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Good question, that. I'm going to do everything in my power to go the trade publishing route, but I won't say no to self-publishing if years and years pass and there's no progress.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I started last November for NaNoWriMo, and it's about 3/4ths done.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I hate this question as well. I suppose the first "Mistborn" book might be a decent comparison, given that there's a bit of focus on the magic system, and it's also about a young woman caught up in events as opposed to a predestined hero of the world or anything like that.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

As I said above, the initial seed of the story was based around music and bards, and it sort of took off from there. I've used (limited) experience in high school band and my (more extensive, but also limited) experience in academics to tug at some of the threads.

What else about the your book might pique the reader's interest?

Aside from the music-as-magic idea, which I happen to think is pretty cool, I think this story's strength is the same as all my stories, if such strength exists: the characters, their relationships and the themes that come out of them. I try to create flawed, complicated but still admirable characters, and that goes for both protagonists and antagonists. Stephen King said something like "Fantasy needs a really strong, really evil villain to succeed" in reference to Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter, and while that might be the case, I've never really ascribed to that. My antagonists are rarely "evil" -- "misguided" is about as far as it goes. If that idea appeals to you, you might enjoy Chanter.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Something From My Wonderous Work-In-Progress

Just thought I'd post an excerpt of what popped out of my head these past few days. It's a stupid project, one that will not amount to anything, but one that seems to refuse to stop bouncing around my thoughts until I write it all down. See if you guess what it is.

Do you want to know how your sisters died, Amazon? They died screaming, crying for mercy, begging Ares to spare their honor. They died cowering. Not like warriors. Like women. I wish I could have seen it.

DIANA appears on top of a crumbled pillar, clenching her teeth.

You want to hit a woman? Here I am. Go ahead and try me, coward. See what it feels like to be a big, strong man. But I promise whatever you give me, I can give it twice back in return.

CONQUEST stomps forward. DIANA lifts a massive piece of rubble from nearby and pelts him with it, halting his progress. She barrels forward into his chest, pushing him back. He swings wildly but misses, and as promised, DIANA hits him with two powerful blows to the midsection. CONQUEST swings again, hitting DIANA with little effect. She drives a heel into his knee, and as he bends forward, she directs a savage elbow into the side of his head. CONQUEST’S helmet falls into the dirt, revealing a bloody, battered head beneath it.

Don’t bother begging for your honor. You never had any to begin with.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

ArmadilloCon 34

This weekend I attended ArmadilloCon, a writers' convention in Austin, the heart of Texas and my current home. It was pretty laid back, but I still met a lot of interesting people and attended a lot of intriguing panels, so I thought I'd post a short writeup on the talks I listened to. Hope this is useful for the people who weren't able to make it out!

Friday, June 22, 2012

How Women Play The Game in "A Feast For Crows": Part One of Five

I've been wanting to put together a little exposé on the women of A Song of Ice and Fire for a while, and after reading and rereading and processing A Feast for Crows, I've got a few ideas that make sense. The fourth book in the series, AFfC is actually a wonderful entry for those, like me, who are drawn to women characters, as it's nearly all about them. All the point of view characters except for Sam, Jaime and the one-offs (Jaime and the One-Offs, that's a band name) are girls or women, all of them unique in their leveraging of power.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Release Day: 100 RPM

Today's the day! My short (short! As in shorter than most of my blog posts!) story "Gold Digger" is included in the anthology 100 RPM, which is now for sale on Amazon for 99p (that's ~$1.50 for us Yanks over in The Colonies).

I'm pretty proud of this, not only for the challenge of writing a story with so few words, or for appearing in print with Caroline Smailes and 80s idol Nik Kershaw. I'm also proud that the proceeds from the eBook go to One in Four, a charity aiding sexual abuse survivors.

So give it a go and let me know what you think. I'm only a few stories in and already loving it -- so many imaginative examples of what can be done in a tiny amount of space.

Buy at Amazon!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Few Reasons 'The Hunger Games' Film Rocked

The Hunger Games is immensely popular. The book is flying off shelves, and the movie broke all sorts of records. And of course, when something is popular, it's generally fashionable to hate it. Case in point, many of the critical reviews of the film.

One review in particular, sent to me by a friend, had me a bit worried about the movie before I saw it. Now, in retrospect, I think the review is actually comically petty. It's MovieBob at The Escapist's review. In it, he rakes the film over the coals for some pretty minor infractions, many of which are actually criticisms of the source material (for instance, he says the name 'Katniss' pulled him out of the story -- seriously?).

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Anthologies available - Now in Paperback!

Quick update for you all. After getting some crap from some friends for not alerting people about the latest anthology I'm included in (which is simply because I haven't gotten my hands on it yet!), I decided to check the previous one. Sure enough, that one's out in paper for too. So, without further adieu:


Timeless is an anthology celebrating eternal love ... as well as some more complicated relationships. It includes my story, The Boy and the Nymph, a fairy tale about, well, a boy, and also a nymph. But, like, a fairy-tale nymph. Not the other meaning of that word.

It's got some great and unexpected stories: "The Gate of Ethos," about a newly-born demon and the human woman who messes with his head, and "The Trippet Stones," where a time-traveling-spirit-sorta-it's-hard-to-describe is forced to seduce the descendant of her former lover -- as well as a bunch of others.

Ch-ch-check it out!

Amazon - Paperback
Amazon - Kindle
DRM-free from Cool Well Press

Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations

On the other side of the coin, Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations (or DaTaLoC, as I call it [I don't actually call it that]) explores things that aren't so eternal. My story for this one is entitled "We Are Not The Favored Children," and it follows an Ancient Pueblo woman who sets out to find what might be the last hope for her people's survival.

This one also includes a story by prolific and all-around awesome horror author Joe Lansdale, known for writing Bubba Ho-Tep as well as a ginormous list of shorts and novels. If you're looking for something a little darker, definitely pick it up.

Amazon - Paper
Barnes & Noble - Paper

If you pick up either of the anthologies, I'd greatly appreciate dropping a review of it on Amazon, Barnes + Noble, Goodreads, or anywhere else. Good, bad, ugly -- just so long as it's honest!

Other Stuff

While the anthologies are definitely my biggest news, I do have other things a'brewing. My novel is, for all intents and purposes, finished. It will be off to beta readers by tomorrow, likely, so after I deal with another round of revisions from the feedback I get (mostly on the second half), I'll be shooting it out to agents. Scary, but also exciting.

I also have some short stories in the works. There's one I'm pretty proud of that I'm targeting for a specific market, but if that falls through, I might give it a go via self-publishing. I dunno. We'll see. I've been wanting to jump into the Kindle market to at least give it a try.

Finally, I have a very short (100 words!) story that will be appearing in an upcoming flash fiction anthology entitled 100 RPM, edited by Caroline Smailes. It's for charity y'all, so you know you have to check it out. I'll let you know when that one hits (also a big shout out to my friend Teresa, who also made it into that one. Congrats!)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Best Films of 2011

Yes, I'm woefully late. In fact, if everything goes as plan, this will be posted mere hours before the Academy Awards. Oh well! That just means you won't have to wait long to see how utterly crap my predictions are. Last year I did this as a two-parter, but since I'm already running late, we're going to shove it into a single post. First up, the list of my favorite movies of 2011. Following that, my Oscar predictions. Without further ado, and in no particular order....

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Work for Hire -- Unfair, or Decent Opportunity?

Parafantasy dropped a pretty distressing bomb by covering the story that popular author L. J. Smith was fired from writing The Vampire Diaries, the story she (essentially) created.
“To put it briefly, I’ve been fired from writing the Vampire Diaries. And I’ve been fighting and fighting this since last fall, but there is absolutely no recourse. Midnight is the last L. J. Smith book in the Vampire Diaries series…."
Ouch. For fans of the series, I'm sure the news that their author is being switched up is a kick in the gut. Even for non-fans, it might be mystifying how something like this could happen. It's got to be some stupid legalese loophole, right? Well ... sort of.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

It's that time again ... Oscar 2012

So the 2012 Oscar nominations hit today, and I'll be writing up my complete list of predictions in the coming weeks. For now, I have a few thoughts:

  • This was one of those hard years for casual moviegoers, where many of the big, critically acclaimed films were artsy movies that came out in December. That means that they're hard to catch in theaters, and Netflix is a no-go because of the studio's insane 1-2 month restriction. As a result, I've yet to see a lot of these (The Artist, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Descendants, etc.)
  • While she won't win, it's good to see Melissa McCarthy nominated for Supporting Actress for her performance in Bridesmaids. To me, she exemplifies what a good Best Supporting nominee should have: she doesn't necessarily steal the movie, or change its focus, but without her, it would have been significantly weaker.
  • Jonah Hill is sort of the opposite. Yes, he did a very good job in Moneyball, and he absolutely proved he can do more than sit around and make dick jokes. However, compare his performance to last year's Best Supporting Actor (Christian Bale in The Fighter) and it doesn't quite seem up to the same level.
  • Really? They stretched out the Animated category to five with the unmemorable-at-best Puss in Boots and Kung Fu Panda 2, but couldn't have done the same last year for Tangled? Whatever. Rango wins this category easily.
  • Rooney Mara should take the Best Actress trophy. Her performance was stunning.
  • Speaking of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I was surprised that Fincher didn't get nominated for Best Director. While I wasn't expecting a Best Movie nomination, I would definitely categorize the lack of Fincher as a 'snub.'
  • Also interesting to see both Tree of Life and Terrence Malik garner nominations. That's a very love-it-or-hate-it movie, and I expected most critics to hate it.
I'll be back in a couple of weeks after I track down the remaining movies.

Friday, January 20, 2012

New Dangers in a New Publishing Landscape

One of the things that's often thrown about with self-publishing is the unprecedented level of freedom and control authors have with their works. And sometimes it's true. But if you think you can just assume that well-known companies like Amazon and Apple have your back ... well ... think again:

The nightmare scenario under this agreement? You create a great work of staggering literary genius that you think you can sell for 5 or 10 bucks per copy. You craft it carefully in iBooks Author. You submit it to Apple. They reject it. Under this license agreement [...] they won’t sell it, and you can’t legally sell it elsewhere.