Saturday, December 26, 2009

Criswell Predicts: North Carolina

First in a series of selected future visions from legendary psychic Criswell, star of several Ed Wood Jr. movies (as taken from his 1968 book of predictions).

North Carolina

I predict that North Carolina will face economic growth in the 1970s with the development of artifical tobacco that is completely harmless. This will be developed in North Carolina. But that state will, while enjoying economic growth, be subjected to racial violence and natural disasters. Many towns, large and small, will be the scenes of violence in 1969 and 1970. And the shifting coastline of the 1980s will destroy many coastal towns.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Memories from the 1970's


Sleepless nights and early mornings. Hideous orange and red shag carpeting. A haze of cigarette smoke from my father. Santa's inability to assemble both of my bicycles correctly (in a span of six years apart, his mechanical skills never improved). Plaid furniture – plaid pants. My baby sister when she truly was my “baby” sister. Odd visits from unnamed and unseen relatives (except in December).
*****
Side note - best non-Santa gift ever? The Mego Mobile Bat-Lab from my Uncle Carl. Half-watching the Christmas Day Parade on television while playing in the living room floor. Fifty dollars worth of yearly Santa swag made flesh by way of the Sears Wish Book and our sole retail credit card.
*****
Posed photographs in which my parents become smaller in stature and height, while my sister and I both sadly, inexorably, outgrow the magic of Christmas.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Five A.M. Observations About Oz


So, if water melts a Wicked Witch, how does she take a bath?

I know from Frank Zappa that ships (as a rule) arrive too late to save drowning witches, but it matters not if they dissolve when placed in water. Salt water must really do a number on a witch's skin. All that remains is the pointy hat, and that alone is hardly worthy of rescue.

Or does she even bathe? And if not, is that why her skin is green?

Or was she belted by gamma rays?

Or does she just reek to high heaven?

And ... could you even smell her in a castle filled with flying monkeys? After all, only the Great and Powerful Oz himself knows where the turrets and castle corners are that might contain fistfuls of flung simian poo.



Margaret Hamilton, our lonely nation turns its eyes to you.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

400?!

According to WXII TV 12, as well as Johnny Shelton, head of the local EMS, in the last 24 hours of torrential snowfall, there have been over FOUR HUNDRED ACCIDENTS in Surry County, NC!

Surely this must be some sort of collision record in these here parts (clumsy grammar added on purpose).

Now, I'm all for getting out of the house when cabin fever descends like a wet parachute over the inside of the living room, but even coma victims knew to play as inanimate objects and stay put last night.

Over 400 accidents (shakes head). Well, I suppose the body shops can use the extra business as we quickly rustle though the last weeks of the holiday season.

Merry Christmas, Mr. Tow Truck Man!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Kung Fu Requiem


Ashley Holt not only crafted the wonderful tribute artwork above, but writes about the death of David Carradine in a note perfect mix of childhood nostalgia, social commentary, and wry observation.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Who Knew Conan O'Brien Was In Such Great Shape?

Perhaps I'm easily amused, but I think this cross-country opening of Conan's taking over the command chair at NBC's The Tonight Show is nothing short of brilliant. The monologue that followed ... er, not so much, but I've never thought of him as a "joke teller" so much as a humorous conceptualist anyway. I've read reviews that griped about the numerous sketches during this first week of shows, but the critics seem to be missing the point. Of course the show is going to have a different feel with a new host, and like or loathe Leno, his filmed pieces usually fell flat (or celebrated the woeful ignorance of the American public). Even if Conan stumbles from time to time, credit his writing and production staff with being as experimental as possible in a new time slot with a potentially new (and larger) audience.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

TV GUIDE: July 2, 1977


Borrowing (stealing) a page from Al Bigley's recent TV GUIDE-oriented blog posts, I dug out a vintage issue I had in the stack o' reading material for review. Nothing particularly special about this issue, at least on the surface - and what a ghastly surface to behold! Enjoy the awkward, yet strangely fascinating cover shown above featuring the stars of Alice! I picked it up at the flea market along with a handful of other issues for twenty-five cents a pop (not a bad price for instant nostalgia).

Here's three quick tidbits from inside this issue:

"Gaining nary a gray hair in the process, Wonder Woman will leap forward from World War II to 1977 merely by entering a disco time machine and ... sorry ... merely by switching the series from ABC to CBS next season. LYNDA CARTER as Wonder Woman will still assist an intelligence agent played by LYLE WAGGONER, but how does he stay young? Simple. He's now the son of the man Wonder Woman worked for 30 years ago."

First thought: Ewww. Second thought: This is the season where a so-called "cute" robot named Ira (?) was added to the cast. Final though: Shades of the Captain America/Peggy Carter/Sharon Carter love triangle, and if you don't have a clue what I'm talking about, you're probably reading the wrong blog ....

"New Version of Star Trek is On Launching Pad. Paramount Pictures is planning to produce 22 episodes of an all-new Star Trek to begin appearing in April 1978. It is part of an effort to create one night a week of prime-time programs on a proposed "fourth network' of independent and network-affiliated stations. Paramount has signed Gene Roddenberry, the original producer, to put together the new show at a cost of $400,000 an episode. Will Trekkie heroes from the original series be back? That hasn't been decided yet."

In other words, Shatner's in - he's tired of doing dinner theatre, but Nimoy's trying to get a piece of the action from the Trek-licensing machine at this particular junction of his career.

And lastly ...

"Paul Michael Glaser has returned to his role as Starsky in ABC's Starsky and Hutch. A lawsuit was in progress and two days of testimony had been taken when an agreement was reached between Glaser and the producers. In the settlement, the actor, who made $10,000 an episode last year and was to earn $12,500 for 1977-78, will get a raise and some directing assignments. His new salary is said to be $25,000 per show."

Shh! Settle down Glaser - do you want to give Nimoy ideas?

Seriously, do you?

Jaw-droppingly awful cover artwork copied from the good folks at http://www.coverbrowser.com/ ... lots of great magazine artwork (not including this example) to be found here!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Instruments of Enlightenment

For every op-ed piece such as this one as reported in The Nation, I find solace in the independent publishers who beat back against the tide, including Winston Salem's own Press 53 (which I highly recommend you click over and check out this very moment).

Still, having been a professional working writer for - my god - twenty years this June, I've lived through so many permutations to smash into the venues in which I've toiled (newspapers, comics, children's stories, paperback originals, coloring and activity books, newsletters, etc. ) that the one constant I can attest to when it comes to publishing is this:

For all of the constant visual and aural noise we are consumed by daily, the written word will always have value, and books will always have the power to move the mind, body and soul.

If the delivery method changes, then so be it - but I'm going on record now to say the sheer tactile pleasure of the printed word vastly outweighs the electronic screen. If that makes me a book snob, so be it - lord knows as a collector I do so love to cling to physical objects (he says without a shred of intentional irony).

Okay, enough literary musings ... next entry will be more whimsical (I promise)!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Books Are No Passing Fad

Against all odds, a new bookstore opens with an amazing back story (and back list). Click the above photograph to learn more!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Burning Down The House ...




... literally.

Thursday morning, approximately 3 a.m., I'm awakened by my dog barking, and in turn, a pummeling at the back door to warn me of potentially terrible news.

I staggered out to a warning of "Fire," that most dreaded of words. The abandoned house next door was in full orange bloom. I watched in slack fascination for a short time, than ran for the digital camera. The first of the photos shown above was taken through the dining room window (which is why you see the glare of the flash reflected back), before I stepped out into the side yard to feel the heat on my face, and peer into the unreal inferno.

The fire department arrived as I was stepping outside, and put the fire (which a mere sixty seconds before, seemed unstoppable in all of its horrible glory) down and out within minutes. Long story short -- no one was injured, my own house is fine and this tale is apparently of such little interest locally that the blaze didn't even make the local newspapers.

Still, I'll never forget experiencing such a dangerous vision so close to home.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

"Rare" Convention Appearance



I rarely attend conventions these days, but Chris Garbee of Untamed Worlds coaxed me out of con-retirement for the Roanoke Valley Comicon ... a one-day show in Salem, Virginia on Saturday, April 25th. I'll be there to hawk (er, sign) books and comics I've written, which range from recent Dreamworks hits Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar 2 and Monsters Vs. Aliens to earlier works such as Elfquest, Jimmy Neutron, E.T., The Ren & Stimpy Show and Explorers.

Hours are from 10 AM until 4 PM. Admission is $5.00 each and children 10 and under are free with a paid adult. The show has moved to a new location at the Salem Civic Center, offering a large con space (over 5000 square feet) with almost 50 dealers.

In addition to me, other luminaries include Andy Smith, Budd Root, Kevin Sharpe, Louis Small Jr and Matt Slay.

There will be an an art contest at this show. Paid admission is all that is required to enter the art contest (and a piece of your original art work, of course). There will also be free comics for the first 100 people through the door and hourly door prizes. The Salem Civic Center offers plenty of free parking, and, if you don't bring enough cash, there is an ATM on site.

Take Exit 141 of I-81 and follow the signs to the Salem Civic Center. And if you show up at my table and say "Pop Culture Debris sent me," I'll give you a free comic!

Why Neutral eBay Feedback Sucks

So, another week goes by - another one of the scant few Andy Griffith biographies I have left sells on eBay.

The feedback I receive to go with my 100% positive feedback record?

"So no one else is disappointed:Bk has no Photos+Andy didn't sign-his writer did."

Of course, this is neutral feedback and not a negative, but it still stings. I have no way of responding on eBay in public, so I was going to email the buyer ... and then decided I didn't want to get into a war of the emails with an unarmed opponent.

That being said, here is my unsent reply, and why I think so-called "neutral" eBay feedback sucks:

Dear Disappointed,

Out of over 200 other purchases of this same book on eBay, no one else has been disappointed. I never have understood why, if someone isn't pleased with a item, why they can't be bothered to let the seller know. The book's description plainly says signed by the author. It lists no photos in the book and instead gives the name of Bill Neville, the illustrator.

Instead of leaving neutral feedback a simple request for a refund would have appreciated, and gladly given if not satisfied. Instead, to demonstrate your so-called cleverness, you have to leave a snide remark "warning" the world.

Somehow, I imagine you are the same kind of dimwit who leaves negative remarks about authors on the Amazon site in the Book Review section when you are upset over slow shipping or condition (both of which, let me add, since I know you don't bother to read descriptions, are things writers have absolutely no control over - those complaints should be directed at the seller).

Also, if you had an iota of savvy, you would know that a true Andy Griffith autograph isn't going to be selling on eBay for $14.99 in the first place. Griffith rarely signs anything, one of a multitude of facts to be learned in the disappointing book you purchased.

Sincerely yours,

Andy Griffith's Writer

There. Venting complete.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Dying Is An Art, Like Everything Else ...


Anyone who knows me well enough to have read my poetry knows of the high regard in which I hold Sylvia Plath.

Ergo, a photo swiped from The New York Times website, along with an embedded link therein in which several luminaries debate "Why The Plath Legacy Lives."

Which is actually a rather painfully ironic title in light of Plath's death, as well as the recent passing of her son. A purposeful one? One hopes not.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Stories & Links of Interest

Courtesy of ShelfTalker: A Children's Bookseller's Blog comes a photo list of "The Most Interesting Bookstores in the World!"

The New York Times takes note of the sudden interest in the chair that cushioned William Shatner's ass for three years (don't miss the piece of trivia from Shat stand-in Eddie Paskey that closes the article).

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Many Humiliations of Illya Kuryakin Part 2


Poor Illya K! We all know that kinky torture sessions are as common as brushing your teeth when you are a licensed agent of U.N.C.L.E., but even my hardened eyes are shocked at this sight! Illya clones or evil twins? Napoleon Solo on the dark side! Barbie with bunny ears? What fresh hell has our long-suffering hero landed in the midst of THIS time?


Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Muppet's Tale


While screening the film A Knight's Tale today as part of a unit on Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, I was suddenly struck with who the character Wot (played by Serenity's Alan Tudyk) kept reminding me of ... so, for your viewing pleasure, I give you the lastest separated at birth candidates:


Wot


Beaker

Bonus Thurday Muppet content ... Mental Floss recently contributed a fun "Secrets of the Muppets" piece to the CNN website. I did remember Oscar the Grouch as being orange in his first appearances, but never knew Miss Piggy was from Iowa. I guess what enlightened minds say is true ... we do learn something new every day.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Grand Comic Book Database Project


For friends and readers into comics, you can easily spend an afternoon enjoying The Grand Comic Book Database Project. I found a lengthy list of my own comic book writing credits (by no means complete, but an excellent start) ... even one or two I had forgotten about! Click the cover above to check out my incomplete resume!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Political Cartoon of the Day / Month / Year?


Mike Luckovich of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution hits the mark of timeliness with verve and humor. The only Obama Inauguration cartoon to make me laugh out loud!


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Future of Publishing


Some common sense ways to (hopefully) bring both readers and books into the technological age....

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Art of the Title


Discovered while researching Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, this is my favorite new web destination. However, Mockingbird is only the beginning. A plethora of opening title sequences to a vast array of both television shows and films are analyzed here (from Deadwood to 300 to The Incredibles to Repo Man), along with the ability to play the credits sequences directly from the site!

Truly a place on the web in which one can become lost and spend hours.
Don't say I didn't warn you ....