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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Ludlum Writes From the Dead & Comedy

I'm fascinated by this New York Times article below. And am always just amazed that people don't mind buying books that're written by someone beside the author. Or rather, and maybe this is all ego and fear, but what amazes me is that most people don't even know the author is dead.

Also, for those who like their comedy, Tom Franck emailed me and says he needs your votes for the finals. If he wins the 10K, he'll buy us all ponies.

Plus he can quote Rocky II, so that's good enough for me.

So please vote for him at Famecast.

The Ludlum Conundrum: A Dead Novelist Provides New Thrills

Ludlum books written by other authors.


Published: July 30, 2007

Robert Ludlum died six years ago, but that has done nothing to slow the release of books published under the name of the actor-turned-novelist who specialized in thrillers built on a foundation of paranoia.

Twelve Ludlum books have been released since his death, with a 13th due out in September. The business is deployed now as a kind of film studio, presenting books completed by others or new ones written using his name.

Since early 2006 there have been three alone: “Robert Ludlum’s The Moscow Vector,” the sixth in the “Covert-One” series of paperback originals; “The Bancroft Strategy,” and “Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Betrayal,” by Eric Van Lustbader.

Mr. Ludlum did not want to be forgotten or leave behind only an enormous backlist that started with “The Scarlatti Inheritance” in 1971. He had little reason to worry: he is now a brand extended far into his afterlife.

“This goes back to 1990 or ’91 when Bob had quadruple bypass,” said Henry Morrison, the agent for Mr. Ludlum. “One day we were talking about what would happen when he was gone. He said, ‘I don’t want my name to disappear. I’ve spent 30 years writing books and building an audience.’ ”

His estate has borrowed from the examples of V.C. Andrews, dead since 1986 but selling well thanks to novels in her name written by an uncredited author; Ernest Hemingway, whose estates issued several books after his suicide; and Tom Clancy and Clive Cussler (both quite alive) who diverted from their skin of solo thrillers to create series written in conjunction with, or solely by, others.

“People expect something from a Robert Ludlum book, and if we can publish Ludlum books for the next 50 years and satisfy readers, we will,” said Jeffrey Weiner, the executor of Mr. Ludlum’s estate. The estate’s post-mortem publishing game plan is reminiscent of licensing and other deals for dead stars like Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and Babe Ruth, and the film industry’s comfort with familiar franchises.

“Publishing does look to the past to see what will work in the future,” said Sara Nelson, the editor in chief of Publishers Weekly. “Series and big-name authors have tended to work well. Publishers, like executives in other creative fields, want Nos. 2, 3 and 4 to work as well as No. 1. And instead of going off to find the new Ludlum, they figure they’ve got this formula and will continue to use it.”

Whether it is fair to readers to publish the Ludlum books posthumously — in the form of spruced-up old manuscripts or new novels written by others — is not a serious concern to the estate or to Grand Central Publishing, the former Warner Books, where the rights to all new novels moved from St. Martin’s Press.

“I don’t think anyone objects as long as you maintain the quality of the book,” Mr. Morrison said. “The Sherlock Holmes novels have been a business since ‘The Seven-Percent Solution,’ and some have been better than others. It’s the characters that interest people.”

Mr. Weiner and Mr. Morris have executed an aggressive plan that has perpetuated the “Covert-One” series of paperback originals that Mr. Ludlum created with the central character of Lt. Col. Jon Smith. He oversaw the first three (two by Gayle Lynds and one by Philip Shelby) before he died, but three more have been published since. A seventh, “The Arctic Event,” by James Cobb, the fifth writer in the series, is due in September.

Three other books have been polished by an uncredited writer (Mr. Morrison said he sought no credit) and editor (also unnamed) from unpolished manuscripts left behind by Mr. Ludlum, including last year’s “The Bancroft Strategy,” which sold 102,000 copies in hardcover, making it to the ninth spot on The New York Times best-seller list, according to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks about 70 percent of retail book sales.

That book, Mr. Morrison said, “sat around in the safe awaiting its turn. There are others that will be finished, as suitable.” He insisted that there are no ghostwriters in a bunker with a laptop writing books in Mr. Ludlum’s name.

Two best sellers by the veteran thriller writer Eric Van Lustbader have lengthened the troubled double life of Jason Bourne, Ludlum’s C.I.A.-handled assassin who had amnesia when readers first met him and whose memories have returned in glimmers like the scent of a certain Scotch.

Mr. Lustbader’s newest novel bears the title “Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Betrayal” in which the agency believes he has gone rogue by killing two of its own and orders him terminated. The title underscores the franchise and the hope that readers will buy a Ludlumesque book that he only inspired but which displays his name in letters twice as tall as Mr. Lustbader’s.

Mr. Lustbader, who was a friend of Mr. Ludlum’s and is a client of Mr. Morrison’s, was enlisted to refresh the literary Bourne after the success that Matt Damon had in playing the character in the 2002 film, “The Bourne Identity,” very loosely based on Mr. Ludlum’s first Bourne novel of the same name. That and the 2004 film, “The Bourne Supremacy,” have grossed nearly $500 million. (The third film in the franchise, “The Bourne Ultimatum,” opens on Aug. 3.)

The writers met at Mr. Morrison’s annual Christmas party in 1980, the year in which “The Bourne Identity,” and Mr. Lustbader’s “The Ninja,” were published. Mr. Lustbader said that they sat rapt in each other’s company in a corner at the party.

“We talked for hours about characters and story arcs and how to fashion a book in three acts, where one act outdoes the next one. We talked about being the only thriller writers who knew anything about characters and wrote about characters in our books.”

Mr. Weiner suggested to Mr. Lustbader that he write a Bourne novel, but he didn’t take the offer seriously until the plot for “The Bourne Legacy” (St. Martin’s Press) came to him while showering. He admired Bourne and believed that he understood what motivated him; he agreed to a deal with the estate in which he had no obligation to copy Mr. Ludlum’s italicized style, although his pacing and plotting are eerily similar to Mr. Ludlum’s. “The Bourne Legacy” has sold 272,000 hardcover and paperback copies, Nielsen BookScan reported.

“I wanted to preserve the essence of Bourne and his sense of honor,” Mr. Lustbader said. He refreshed Bourne by killing off characters who were central to Mr. Ludlum’s creation and made him ageless, which conforms to the possibility of the Bourne films continuing. James Bond, after all, doesn’t turn into an on-screen geezer; he gets replaced by a younger actor.

Mr. Ludlum sent Bourne into action three times between 1980 and 1990.

“He never intended Bourne to be a series,” Mr. Lustbader added, “so he gave Bourne a wife, Marie, and kids, and made him older. But you can’t have that with continuing characters. So with the O.K. from the estate, I wanted to kill off Marie by natural causes and have the kids shipped to her family in Canada. He needed to start the next chapter of his life.”

Mr. Lustbader’s “The Bourne Betrayal,” has sold 86,000 copies through July 20, and is currently No. 8 on the New York Times hardcover best-seller list.

Mr. Ludlum worked with Ms. Lynds and Mr. Shelby on the “Covert-One” books but never met their successors, Patrick Larkin, or Mr. Cobb, who said that Mr. Morrison, who is also his agent, asked if he had any possible “Covert-One” plots.

“I had one drifting around the back of my head,” Mr. Cobb said by telephone from Tacoma, Wash. “I could file off the serial numbers and bend it to fit the structure. I banged out an outline, and in a few days, they accepted it.”

He added: “I do not pretend to be Robert Ludlum. That would not be fair to him and it would not be fair to me. I just hope it will satisfy readers.”

The estate, which benefits Mr. Ludlum’s heirs, will put that standard to the test with the planned revival of another of the Ludlum characters, Peter Chancellor, who first appeared in “The Chancellor Manuscript” 30 years ago in “The Chancellor Letter.” The first 100 pages of the manuscript — by a veteran science-fiction writer — must still be approved by the estate. In addition, a script based on the original “Chancellor” is being developed for Leonardo DiCaprio.

The estate is also looking at TV series deal surrounding the shadowy Treadstone agency in the Bourne books, but would exclude Bourne if it is produced. A Bourne video game from Vivendi is due out next year.

“It seems like more of a posthumous factory than anybody I can think of,” Ms. Nelson said. “And more of a well-oiled machine than V.C. Andrews’s.”

Monday, July 30, 2007

Tom Snyder Dies

I know he wasn't a staple of our generation, but when my very first novel came out, Tom Snyder was the one big late night talk show host to give me a shot (for The Late Late Show). It was for The Tenth Justice. I was the second guest, and when I came out, Snyder seemed unimpressed (to be honest, I think I was filling in for someone who canceled, but they were too nice to say it). Yet by the time I was done, Snyder was laughing, enjoying stories of my mom and insane family. It mattered. Today, so many interviewers couldn't give a crap once they have their mind made up. Snyder listened. And when it was over and the camera was gone, he shook my hand and said, "That was funny." Like I said, it mattered. And still does.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

JLA Logos And Disney's No Smoking

First, we're bringing back the logos on the monitor chairs. It's so sad how much this excites me. Some are obvious. Here are the others:

JLA Logos

Also, check out this article about how Disney is taking out ALL smoking from its films. It's amazing how Congress can't change the world, but some well placed politics can.

Most vital new news -- casting in Watchman. I've tried to remain clam, but Jackie Earle Haley as Rorshach? Best. Ever.

From Newsarama:

According to both of today’s Hollywood trades, the long-awaited big-screen adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons Watchman has the first additions to its cast, and they are Patrick Wilson, Jackie Earle Haley, Matthew Goode, Billy Crudup, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and Malin Akerman. Zack Snyder 300 directs.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, "Set in an alternate America, 'Watchmen' follows costumed hero Rorschach, who is living a vigilante lifestyle because most masked heroes have retired or been outlawed. While investigating a murder, Rorschach learns that a former masked-hero colleague has been killed, prompting him to begin investigating a possible conspiracy."

Haley - best known for this roles as a teen in Breaking Away and The Bad News Bears before mounting a comeback with his Oscar-nominated role in Little Children will play Walter Kovacs, aka Rorschach, "who ignores the ban on costumed vigilantes."

Crudup (Almost Famous, long-time voice of the Mastercard “Priceless” commercials) will play Dr. Manhattan, "a superpowered being with godlike powers and temperament."

Akerman will play Laurie Juspeczyk/the Silk Spectre, "who is involved with Dr. Manhattan -- but that relationship begins to fall apart as he becomes more disconnected from humanity."

Goode will play Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, "a costumed adventurer who retired voluntarily, disclosed his identity and built a large fortune. He hatches a plot to avert a global catastrophe he believes will be caused by Dr. Manhattan."

Wilson will play the Nite-Owl, "a crime-fighter who uses technical wizardry and has an owl-shaped flying vehicle."

Morgan will play the Comedian, "a cigar-chomping, gun-toting vigilante-turned-paramilitary agent."

Shooting is set to start this fall in Vancouver, with Snyder reportedly employing many of the filming techniques he used for his adaptation of 300.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Michael Bay Is Just Like Us

I heart this so much. And not to make fun of it (mostly). But it just shows, no matter what anyone says, a bad review always sounds like (and I'm stealing this part) your mom said it to you.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Harry Potter Spoilers

First, let's take a moment to point fingers at this article here which points out how they'll catch the people who put the Harry Potter manuscript online a week early. I'm all for the revolution, but have to say, I thought it sucked someone leaked it (though kudos for taking 700-plus photographs).

Now, onto the book. Loved the book -- loved seeing the world, loved when Ron left (and came back), love patronuses, love the elfs coming in, loved how outrageously clever J.K. Rowling is, love Neville even more (still my favorite character after Harry), loved that last scene with Harry and Dumbledore (who still is Rowling's best voice), and even loved the Lord of the Rings locket making them all Smigel.

Oddly, didn't love the set piece of the final battle, or Harry faking unconsciousness for so many pages, but that's the hardest part of trying to beat expectations: those damn expectations keep getting in the way. But I'm not complaining. I'm thrilled with the book. Do I have a few quibbles? Of course. Was the epilogue sorta sappy? Sure. Was the Snape origin sorta rushed? Yes. And did I want more comeuppance for Malfoy? Damn I am. But, bitching about those details is like bitching that they replaced the old Anakin with the new one at the end of Jedi: Fair point, but if that ruins it all for you, you've got bigger problems.

Most important, on my wish for Harry to die. I admit I wanted it -- still do becasue it's something I didn't think she'd do (and we all want what we can't have). But looking back (and ignoring my righteous bloodthirstiness, and even my love of dear Frodo): wanting Harry dead is cool. But it's unfair. And it comes from us wanting her to write OUR book. The book for us. And at the end of the day, as epic and beautiful and realized as the Potter world is, it's still a book for young people first. And as much as I love lessons of loss and sacrifice, I'm starting to backpedal and come to grips/rationalize that when I teach it to my children, the lesson still needs to be that Harry LIVES for being good, not that Harry dies. As I type these words, I'm already in my own internal debate, but y'know what? I don't care. Because the trip was that thrilling for me.

And so...I've decided to be thankful. Like the walk-to-death chapter says: That's what the world needs more of. So thank you, Ms. Rowling for handing us your world. We'll take good care of it.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Happy Potter (no spoilers)

Stayed up till 2am to finish the book last night. That's how determined I was to not have it spoiled for me. There is still nothing like the pristine reading experience that has true surprise.

Tomorrow, far more thoughts and comments. But man, do I love this character and this world Ms. Rowling has created. It's not that I want to belive in magic (though I do). What I want to believe in is simply that pure goodness and selflessness that is Harry. That's what I believe is in all of us.

Friday, July 20, 2007


I love the mushy stuff. And I love this guy on this video clip. Yes, they could've lost the crappy montage music in the end, but man, this is what I believe in: those who love what they love at any cost. If you don't cry, don't look in the mirror. You'll turn to stone.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

JLA 11 Redux

Just a huge thanks for the emails and postings and bits of love about JLA 11 -- and especially those who said they wanted to hate it and were surprised how much they enjoyed it. Gene and Art killed themselves on this issue. And to be honest, I was terrified we took too big a leap in a book that's lived so much with attacking aliens and world threats. But my one belief is you have to tell the story you have to tell. So thanks.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Gene Ha And Art Lyon

I love this Harry Potter New York Times story about the guy who does the audio books.

And with JLA 11 being previewed yesterday, people have been asking about Gene Ha's stunning art and what he did that's different from his other work. I can't explain it. So I asked him. And so...from Gene:

The short answer is gray Copic markers and Photoshop.

The first stage is tight thumbnails. I scan this into my computer and print it as a blueline onto good /inkjet/ paper or Copic marker paper.

I then go to work with graphite pencil, gray Copic markers, white charcoal pencil and white paint. I mostly used Copic paper on this issue for the grainy, dusty effect. I prefer good quality inkjet paper because it absorbs the marker better without bleeding.

I use the pencils for fine details (like outlines and facial details) and the markers for most everything else. The white media lets me to create clean highlights.

After that Art puts it into Photoshop and tints the gray originals (The finished artwork couldn't have been done without a fine colorist like Art Lyon.).

There are two main techniques. Our classic technique is to select an area and Ctrl-B it. The other technique is to create another layer that makes the area darker, lighter, glow, etc. You'll have to ask him for more details!

And from super-colorist Art Lyon:

Let me elaborate on Gene's description of the coloring, if I may. Maybe no one cares and I will cry.

This issue had more than the usual number of insertions, meaning stuff Gene drew separately from the full page of art which I then inserted into the art. These are usually backgrounds, but are often common in situations where we have similar looking panels with limited but significant differences: an arm has moved, something has come into frame, etc. I've learned that in most cases it's best to insert these into the art and then flatten it and color it all as one thing.

So, yeah, Control+B calls up the Color Balance tool in Photoshop. I saved Color Balance settings for all the colors I knew would be cropping up a lot: character costumes and skin tones and hair color, rebar, cement, blood, etc. I spent a lot of time consulting with my oil painter wife Ellen, and with Gene, to get these colors just so. I knew we were going to be seeing A LOT of these colors, so I wanted to get them just right. I sampled colors from recent JLA issues, pictures of Halle Berry and Eric Johnson, and 9/11 and World Trade Center (the movie) images.

First I go through and do the Color Balance thing, which also occasionally involves the Hue & Saturation tool, too. This colors the grays in the original art layer. There are other ways to do this, but actually playing with the original art (rather than just layering in see-through colors on top of the art) will emphasize the texture of the original art, so I went with that.

I had a Shadows layer and a Highlights layer on top of the colored art. It's in these two layers that I do all my detailed coloring work, the stuff that hopefully "sells it". I lightly brush in all the niggly skin tones. I have a nice, fairly light rosey color, a pale green, and a purplish gray. Then reflected colors on an object are sampled from surrounding objects, and lightly brushed in to tint different areas. The advantage of these layers is that I can adjust their opacity, darkness, hue, and the like, and I can erase any area large or small partially or completely.

The Shadows layer is where I did all the blood effects, as well as some dust effects, the secondary light source colors, and dark reflected colors. The Highlights layer is where I did most of the dust effects and lighter reflected color.

Vibration effects are copies of this finished, colored art that have been made less opaque and less saturated. I erased different areas to let the base colored image peak through enough to keep it clear what we're looking at, despite the shaking.

Part of the trick was figuring out how dark to make it down there, and how much to make the characters costumes stand out. I darkened things a lot, and despite the need for grit and dirt and the like, I wanted to make the costumes still colorful enough to make the characters pop and to make the fans happy. Realism and flashiness was a big struggle here, color-wise.

So, that's basically it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

JLA 11

Tomorrow is JLA 11 with Gene Ha. It's a risky one, folks. Not as risky as a JLA/JSA crossover with no villains at all, or the last 5 full issues with no fistfights at all, but you get the pretty pictures. Can't wait to see if it works.

The preview for 11 has been posted to Newsarama.

Also, this is my favorite cover in a long time.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Harry Potter Guesses

Less than a week to go. We gotta get some guesses going. For me, I hope Harry dies, though don't think she'll do it. And Snape will turn out to be good, simply because, well: Dumbledore is always right. Also, saw the movie this weekend and just loved it. Imagine it's near impossible for a non-Potter reader, but I'd rather us book readers be happy (screw you moviegoers who don't read!).

Also, for a truly great ending, check out this contest winning ending by Tamar Siegel, age 12. Love this idea.

Friday, July 13, 2007

China Makes Artificial Weather

"For a largely agrarian country like China, the weather was thought of as far too important to be left to the whim of gods or nature."

I got dibs on the first lightning strike. Though let's be honest, this is gonna end so badly. Like Krypton badly...

Also, less than 10 pages to go with JLA art for issue 12. I'm getting misty...

From Asia Times

Greater China

Jul 13, 2007

Ready, aim, fire and rain

By Pallavi Aiyar

BEIJING - After weeks of watching the mercury soar, hardening the already cracked earth of their wilting orchards and farms, a group of farmers on the outskirts of Beijing gather in the Fragrant Hills that line the western fringe of China's capital city. Unlike their ancestors, they do not assemble to perform a rain dance or gather in a temple to pray to the Lord Buddha to bring the rain.

Instead, they grab rocket launchers and a 37-millimeter anti-aircraft gun and begin shooting into the sky. What they launch are not bullets or missiles but chemical pellets. Their targets are not enemy aggressors but wisps of passing cloud that they aim to "seed" with silver-iodide particles around which moisture can then collect and become heavy enough to fall.

The farmers are part of the biggest rain-making force in the world: China's Weather Modification Program.

According to Wang Guanghe, director of the Weather Modification Department under the Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, each of China's more than 30 provinces and province-level municipalities today boast a weather-modification base, employing more than 32,000 people, 7,100 anti-aircraft guns, 4,991 special rocket launchers and 30-odd aircraft across the country.

"Ours is the largest artificial weather program in the world in terms of equipment, size and budget," Wang said, adding that the annual nationwide budget for weather modification is between US$60 million and $90 million.

It is no coincidence that the world's biggest such project is in China. The country's leadership has never been cautious about harnessing nature, taking on a slew of what were once thought impossible engineering challenges, such as the Three Gorges dam, the world's biggest hydroelectric project, and the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, the world's longest highland railroad.

For a largely agrarian country like China, the weather was thought of as far too important to be left to the whim of gods or nature. As a result, Chinese scientists began researching man-made rain as far back as 1958, using chemicals such as silver iodide or dry ice to facilitate condensation in moisture-laden clouds.

In the beginning, the idea was to ease drought and improve harvests for Chinese farmers, but over the decades other functions have evolved such as firefighting, prevention of hailstorms, and replenishment of river heads and reservoirs. Artificial rain has also been used by some provinces to combat drought and sandstorms. In 2004, Shanghai decided to induce rain simply to lower the temperature during a prolonged heat wave to bring relief to an increasingly hot and sweaty urban populace.

And now China's weather officials have been charged with another important task: ensuring clear skies for the Summer Olympic Games next year.

Zhang Qiang, the top weather-modification bureaucrat in Beijing, said her office has been conducting experiments in cloud-busting for the past two years in preparation for the Games' opening ceremony on August 8, 2008.

She said that according to past meteorological data, there is a 50% chance of drizzle on that day. To ensure blue skies, the Beijing Weather Modification Office is busy researching the effects of various chemical activators on different sizes of cloud formations at different altitudes. The aim is to catch pregnant clouds early and induce rainfall ahead of the big day so that during the opening ceremony the sky is cloud-free.

Wang said similar efforts in the past have already helped to create good weather for a number of international events held in China, including the 1999 World Horti-Expo in Yunnan and the 1993 East Asian Games in Shanghai.

However, Zhang warned that her cloud-fighters will only be effective in the event of the threat of a drizzle: "A heavy downpour will be impossible to combat."

Her caveat goes to the heart of the primary criticism leveled against weather-modification efforts worldwide: doubts about their effectiveness. Wang himself admits that it remains notoriously difficult to establish how much real impact cloud-seeding has, since there is no foolproof way to establish how much rain might have fallen without intervention.

The United States, which pioneered cloud-seeding techniques in the 1940s and 1950s, has long cooled in its enthusiasm for the science behind artificial rain. However, Israel and Russia continue to have substantial weather-modification programs and Wang said experiments conducted in these countries reveal that cloud-seeding can increase rainfall by between 6% and 20%.

Zhang said reservoirs in Beijing have shown an increase of 10-13%, one directly attributable to the efforts of her rainmakers.

Despite some international skepticism, the Chinese authorities remain convinced of the merits of attempting to alter weather. China's state news agency Xinhua recently reported that between 1999 and 2006, 250 billion tonnes of rain was artificially created, enough to fill the Yellow River several times over. Moreover, China's 11th Five Year Plan, which kicked off last year, calls for the creation of about 50 billion cubic meters of artificial rain annually.

While declining to provide specifics, Zhang said her office's budget has seen sharp spikes in recent years and she expects it to continue to grow given northern China's extreme water shortages, which are exacerbated by the impact of climate change. Indeed, the annual per capita water supply for China is only 2,200 cubic meters, just 25% of the global average, according to the World Bank.

Artificial rain, however, is not controversy-free even within China. City dwellers have raised concerns about environmental pollution, though both Wang and Zhang insist that silver iodide is used in such tiny quantities that it brings no negative health consequences. Cloud-seeding shells and rockets have also sometimes gone astray, damaging homes and injuring inhabitants. Only last year a passer-by in the municipality of Chongqing was killed by part of a rain cannon that flew off during firing in May.

Wang says training programs and licenses have sharply curbed accidents in recent years, and the 135 farmers who comprise the on-call rainmaking force in Beijing go through intensive training, lasting several weeks, before they are let loose on the artillery. The farmers are paid about US$100 a month for their cannon and rocket-launching duties, which they perform about 40 times a year.

The person who gives the shooters the green signal to launch their cloud attacks is none other than Zhang, China's modern-day equivalent of Zeus, Indra, or the Chinese rain god Xuantian Shangdi. However, the businesslike bureaucrat is modest when it comes to describing her role: "We try our best, but there are no guarantees of success."

Could the rain gods have claimed differently?

Pallavi Aiyar is the China correspondent for The Hindu.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Patton, Comedy and Mayer

Lots of stuff today. First, best interview of the last few months: personal favorite Patton Oswalt talking comedy (and therefore life) at The Onion's A.V. Club. Love them. Love him. Buy his album. In my mind, he's all that's right with art today. He is who he is and never forgets it.

Second, in the theme of comedy, Tom Franck emailed me to ask you all to go check out the comedy competition he's in over at
Have to admit, haven't seen the video yet, but Tom is a friend of a friend and therefore someone I'm rooting for no matter what (I'm sappy like that -- go fuck yourself).

And last, this snarkfest story on John Mayer switching to the Blackberry. It was a much cooler story when I thought Mayer had actually dumped the iPhone for the Blackberry simply because he liked it better. This...not so much.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

What I Believe

Went to the Police concert last night in Miami. Was easily the best people watching in ever. As if all of 1980 had been aged 27 years and plunked back in the stadium. With boob jobs. Miami boob jobs.

It's still a Sting show, but boy-are-dee do I love Stuart Copeland playing those funky tambourines. For one night, we were young again.

And on that note, here's what I believe: Kool & the Gang? They're fine. But I love them reclaiming the age limit on kool.

Kool & the Gang says there's no age limit on cool
By Belinda Goldsmith 39 minutes ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) - In trademark shades and wide-collared open shirts, Kool & The Gang claim there is no age limit to being cool as the group returns with a new CD, its first studio album in 10 years.

Formed in New Jersey in 1964, the group has gone through several musical phases over the years, ranging from jazz to rhythm and blues, funk and disco. "Still Kool," from Universal's New Door Records, hit stores Tuesday (July 10).

Two of the four original band members, Robert "Kool" Bell, 56, and his 55-year-old brother Ronald (also known by his Muslim name, Khalis Bayyan), said the group has moved on since its 1980s hits like "Joanna," "Celebration," "Get Down On It" and "Jungle Boogie."

After falling off the public radar in the 1990s, the group is hoping a new generation of young musicians that has joined the band's 12-man lineup -- including Robert Bell's son Hakim and 23-year-old singer Jirmad Gordon -- will bring the group new success.

They spoke to Reuters about their long career and staying cool.

Q: Why a 10-year gap in albums?

A: RONALD - "The inspiration comes when it does. We've been touring and thinking about this, but you have to wait until the inspiration comes, and then comes the opportunities. The content, some of it, is very timely to the situation that is going on the world."

Q: Is it hard to get known for new work, not just the old hits?

A: RONALD - "We have a couple of younger people in the band. We wanted to broaden our audience. People do get surprised as they expect us to be a dance band, but we are more than just that. If you follow the history of Kool & the Gang, we were an instrumental band, but when disco came along we needed to switch to that kind of music to stay involved and current. We did a rap album, but I don't think people want to hear their fathers rapping."

ROBERT - "We constantly have our ears on what is going on. We tour a lot, and we travel everywhere from Moscow to Australia. There is a lot of inspiration that comes from that and keeps us going. We have young guys in the band with new ideas."

Q: Is it hard to stay true to your name -- cool?

A: RONALD - "Everyone always want to be cool even when it is hot. Everyone loves those cool shades and everyone want to be cool. It is something of destiny. We picked a perfect name for it -- Kool was my brother's nickname -- and I think that helps. We try to stay level-headed."

ROBERT - "Cool is fashion. Cool is what is happening and what is hip. I think cool will be around when we are long gone. People who are 75 and 80 years old can still be cool, there is no limit to being cool."

Q: You've introduce a new generation to the band. Is this part of a handover plan?

A: ROBERT - "That could be part of the plan. We have our own record label now and the brand is there."

Q: But not thinking of retiring just yet?

A: RONALD - "We are not over yet, we have other things we want to do -- radio, TV shows and movies. When my legs won't run to those airports anymore, then I might give up."

ROBERT - "We have a few more years yet. I always say that Mick Jagger is about 65 right now, and he is still rock 'n' rolling."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Byrne Hates Meltzer

Oh, the joy I take in this.

From Lying In The Gutter, Volume 2 Column 112


Brad Meltzer on Newsarama internet and comics. "Most positive is that we're all not alone as readers anymore."

John Byrne on his forum. "I would call that the most negative! And right there we see the danger of what happens when fans turn pro, and are unable to stop thinking like fans."

Monday, July 09, 2007

Rock Paper Scissors

Best game ever. The only sport I was ever good at (besides hiding). This is the sport that us ordinary kids loved.

From: Digg.Com

ESPN televises Rock Paper Scissors

via digg on Jul 09, 2007

ESPN will push the edge of the envelope in prime time Saturday with its debut coverage of the USA Rock Paper Scissors Championship.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Insane Day

Was at a retreat with a wise man/shaman/revolutionary. Made me think a great deal. Not about silly what-if-we're-just-atoms-in-another-universe's-toenail kinda way. But in a way that makes you stop and take stock. Doesn't change how I think, but reminds me why I'm here. One of those insane days.

Will have more on it later, but wanted to put the word out. Also, JLA 12 is looking so geeky beautiful. I swoon at it.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

J.J.'s Marketing 101 And iPhone Sales

I hate buying into this hype, but we have to reward it when someone figures out a new mousetrap for us to stick our heads in.

J.J. Abrams' Secret Project Gets a URL


iPhone Weekend One: 700,000 Sold, $200million+ Profit For Apple

via digg on Jul 04, 2007

"After speculation earlier in the week that Apple had sold between 400-500,000 iPhones, the actual sales figures for the iPhone have been released and they are even wilder than the speculated figures: Apple and AT&T moved 700,000 iPhones to the close of business Sunday."

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


From The Superficial:

Fergie has become the first singer to use product placement and is being paid a ridiculous $4 million by Candie's to promote their clothing line in her songs. An executive at Interscope says:

"With record sales in decline, you must find novel ways to make money out of the music. The trick is to make the brand part of the song so that it slips down easily rather than chokes the fan. Candie's will have no say over exactly what Fergie will sing, or when. Fergie does not sing jingles so it will have to work unobtrusively in the song."

Fergie? Really? They want Fergie to promote their clothing line? Maybe they should sit back and think about this a little longer. Why not just ask a bear in a clown outfit to promote their clothes? Or my four-year-old niece? She puts on garbage sometimes. Why not ask her?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

MacGyver Tip: Turn a C battery into a D with quarters

via Lifehacker by Gina Trapani on Jun 25, 2007


You need a D battery but all you've got laying around are C cells. Since C and D batteries are both 1.5 volts (they differ only in size and energy storage), you can build a makeshift D to C "adaptor" with a few regular, conductive, George Washington quarters. Just insert them into your gizmo as pictured and you're good to go. Photo by L. Marie.

Quick hack: The $1 C-to-D adapter [Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories via Hackszine]