Friday, February 25, 2011

All Creatures Great and Irregular

Hey there, honey-pies, how have you been? A lot's been going on since we spoke last, so let's get right to it.

Y'know, as I began my foray into this wacky world of writerliness, I certainly did not bargain on meeting and befriending as fine a group of people as I have, and most definitely was not prepared for the huge talents these folks would have. Take Daniel Ames, for instance. I first "met" this handsome fella when he participated in Dan O'Shea's Let Us Prey flash-fiction challenge last year, and I was quite blown away by his entry (although I sadly can't find the link to it now--hey, Ames, what up with that?). And now I find that not only does the guy crank out hardcore hardboiled, but he's a poet as well. Now, to my chagrin, I admit that what I don't know about poetry, you can just about squeeze into the Hollywood Bowl. But I got here in my hot little hands an ARC of Dan's forthcoming poetry collection, Feasting at the Table of the Damned, and lemme tell you kids, it is really something else. Dan's poems effortlessly slide back and forth from beautiful imagery to bitter humor back to beuatiful imagery. It's really something to behold, and I don't mind telling you, more than a couple of these poems choked me up more than a little bit. Then he would turn around and make an Animal House reference. So when this book is released this April, do your eyes a favor and pick one up.

On the electronic front, Chuck Wendig, whom I had the pleasure to meet and hang out with all too briefly in San Francisco this past fall, has put together a collection of his own short fiction called Irregular Creatures. Again to my chagrin, I don't read that many e-books, although publishing on the web is my own bread and butter. I suppose after spending hours at a time working on my own stuff and dicking around on Facebook, I get a real bad headache trying to get any further reading done on this here monitor. But Wendig proves that this format truly is the future of publishing, not only by making Irregular Creatures a steal at 3 lousy dollars (sorry, publishing industry, but you've been lining your own pockets for too long. Say hi to broadcast radio for me), but also by delivering short stories of the highest quality. Wendig's stories tend to hover in the arena of magic realism, and as such they do Gabriel García Márquez proud. The lead story, "Dog-Man and Cat-Bird (A Flying Cat Story)," really hit close to home for me, seeing as how it's all about the artist's responsibility to his/her muse, a subject which I've given a lot of thought and energy lately. But all of the subsequent stories follow this lead excellently. Wendig has got a pitch-perfect ear for dialogue, and his plots are astonishingly original. Get this now.

Speaking of get this now, Anthony Neil Smith--the man, the myth, the main catalyst to my own publishing career--has been a busy boy himself lately with two new e-books available. One, co-written with X-Men scribe Victor Gischler called To the Devil, My Regards, which you should buy just for the title alone, and a shorter solo effort entitled Choke on Your Lies. In conjunction with the above-praised Mr. Wendig, Mr. Smith lovingly shot a video depicting the average day in the life of a scumbag writer. Ladies and germs, Anthony Neil Smith:

"Jimmy," you say, "Clearly, you have very talented and sexually attractive friends. No one is disputing that. But what about you, what have you been doing with your own very talented and sexually attractive self?"

Well, first of all, you're too kind. Second of all, what I've been doing with myself couldn't be less interesting. But what I've been doing with my writing could be.

Firstly, allow me to direct you to one of my rare forays into the graphic arts. I don't draw that often for much the same reason I don't get laid that often--I usually get frustrated about halfway through and give up. But Robert Goodin started up this site, Covered, which I simply could not resist. Sadly, it could resist me. Unsadly, Josh Blair and J.B. Sapienza began the aptly-named Rejected by Covered and were kind enough to host one of the handful of my own rejects here, with the promise (threat?) of more to come.

Speaking of comical books, over at Gestalt Mash is an essay of mine on writer Garth Ennis's work on Marvel's The Punisher, entitled, "Run, Micro, Run." Ennis is hands-down my favorite comics writer, and The Punisher is, in Ennis's own words, the character he was born to write. As a late-'80s/early-'90s kid, I've always loved the Punisher, but it wasn't until Ennis took over the book in the late '90s that I saw just how much potential the character had and how little that potential had been met before, even by greats like Mike Baron and Chuck Dixon (not that their runs weren't phenomenal). In this essay, I talk about The Punisher's former sidekick, Micro, and just how Ennis deconstructs that whole notion of sidekick-as-conscience. This will definitely not be the last of this sort of essay from me.

As always, the Let's Exploit Everybody! quartet of movie criticism bloggies I run have been churning out the smart-ass pop intellectualism the kids all rave about these days. Brian Roe salutes the recently-late Charles B. Pierce over at Let's Kill Everybody! Chad Eagleton brings the sexiest quest for vengeance in the Old West to Let's Fight Everybody! At Let's Fuck Everybody!, we go through the pervy looking-glass with Alec Cizak. And we go south of the border with Josh Converse at Let's Drink Everybody! And not to be outdone, I have my own entries for the past two months here, here, here, and here. And as always, I still need submissions, so fuckin' get on that already, jeez (Hayes, Long, Elliott: I'm looking in y'all's direction...):

Last month, I mentioned that that Scottish flower, Donna Moore, had issued a flash-fiction challenge based on the musical stylings of the Ramones. My own entry was entitled, "The KKK Took My Baby Away," and not long after banging it out, I got together with my bowling team and we made a short film of it, which was a lot of fun to do and not just because I got to play a Bruce McCulloch-esque flirty secretary. So without further ado, Attention, Children is proud(-ish) to present for your viewing pleasure, The KKK Took My Baby Away:

Despite what the above may imply, I have a deep and abiding love for comedy and vastly enjoy its study--how it works, how it's done, how it gets girls to make out with me. Over at Pop Matters, one of their blogs is named Mixed Media, and it's a nice little outlet for quick but fun analyses of various forms of media (video, audio, not so much olfactronic). A few months back, I began a little series I like to call the Comedy Vs. blogs, beginning with this one about the Kids in the Hall. Then, over this past month, I've had three more go up about Mystery Science Theater 3000, Monty Python, and Mr. Show. It's a fun way to wring all the fun out of fun.

And speaking of comedy jokes, another article of mine that went up on Gestalt Mash this month is something of which I am quite proud. Jordan Brady, former stand-up comedian and perennial fave of mine, recently made a documentary about stand-up called I Am Comic. Now, I have sought out and devoured every sort of media I can concerning this heavenly enterprise, and I think I may have finally found a real milestone in this film, as a fan, as a critic, and as somebody who enjoys a good laugh more than even a bean-and-cheese burrito or the doggy-style position. But most importantly, I Am Comic reinforces the theme I seem to be hovering around most in my writing these days, fiction or non: there is no greater enterprise than to create art. Please read my piece on this here, and please enjoy the trailer for the film below:

All righty, home stretch now, gang. On the fiction front, I, as usual, have a million things going at once. But since these are all works-in-progress and/or stuff I'm not quite at liberty to discuss yet, you're just going to have to take my word for it. One thing I can most definitely talk about is Crime Factory. Since my buddies, Keith Rawson, Liam Jose and Cameron Ashley re-booted this rag last year, it has consistently been a solid collection of fiction and fact revolving around the joyous world of crime lit (and I'm not just talking about the stuff I wrote). I recently had occasion to read the CF anthology that will be coming your way, and boy, are you in for a treat. Kids, I read a whole lotta anthologies, and trust me when I say, this is going to be the best bang for your buck. Not a dud in the bunch, and I mean it when I say that. Stay tuned for updates as they occur.

On top of that, yours truly has recently been asked to officially join the editorial staff of stated e-mag, and suffice it to say, I am near to bursting with pride to inscribe my name on that particular door. As I was saying before, I never dreamed I would find myself so utterly surrounded by so many lovely and talented people, hanging out with them, reading and re-reading them, and now working with them as well. It does a body good, I'll tell you.

And with that, I leave you now with this: Patti Abbott, that mère fatale, recently threw down another flash-fiction gauntlet, the Scarry Night challenge. I now invite you, dear reader, to enjoy my own entry, a little story I like to call "Nueva Localización."

Kisses for all your faces.