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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Silk Spectre

The pain in my chest is the excitement I have for this film. And the disappointment I will bring on myself if they blow it.

I'm so excited, I'm linking to MTV News.

Carla Gugino Gets Sexy For Silk Spectre In 'Watchmen'
Published by Larry Carroll on Wednesday, January 30, 2008 at 11:53 am.

When I recently visited the set of one of 2009's most anticipated movies, "Watchmen," I saw many amazing things that I unfortunately still can't talk about. One of the people who wasn't there, however, was the stunningly sexy Carla Gugino — so when I caught up with her on the red carpet at Sunday's SAG Awards, we were naturally both excited to engage in some red-hot, non-embargoed Sally Jupiter action.

"It was really one of the craziest, most fun roles I've ever gotten to play," marveled the "Sin City" star, cast as the burlesque dancer who proves to be the most PR-savvy of the complex superheroes. "I start at 25 years old in the 1940s, and I age to 67 years old with full prosthetics in the 1980s. [Sally] is a larger-than-life character. She's a costumed crime fighter, but her idea of a costume is very Bettie Page-meets-[Alberto] Vargas."

As those who've read Alan Moore's beloved 1986 comic know, Gugino's character dubs herself "The Silk Spectre" and becomes a de facto matriarch among the alternate-reality antiheroes. Years later, she'd pass the torch to daughter Laurie ("The Heartbreak Kid" star Malin Akerman) and retire — but not until after she might have been raped by another so-called "hero."

"The rape scene is pretty crazy that Jeffrey Dean Morgan and I have," Gugino insisted. "Not that I would say that's the one I really want you guys to see. … The title sequence of this movie is going to be extraordinary. We spent many weeks over the time of the shoot shooting it. That's going to be a very, very special thing that wasn't scripted, that will be really empowering."

In those opening credits, Snyder is mixing CGI and real-life footage to establish the close-but-not-quite reality of a "Watchmen" world that mirrors our own. "It incorporates real history and the fictitious world of Watchmen, and so it's very cool," Gugino explained. "We meet Nixon and all sorts of people."

And once those credits conclude, Gugino gets to squeeze into a famously skimpy costume and re-create the character's superhero heyday. "I kick a small amount of ass. I don't kick as much ass as some people do in the movie, however," she sighed. "But I get to play an old lady, which was just, for me, the most fascinating thing. To start as this young crime fighter and end up an alcoholic woman in her late 60s was for me enough of a challenge; let's put it that way."

The actress also got to don Sally's trademark hairdo, albeit a slightly more plausible version. "We did our own take on the poodle [haircut]. It's not quite as poodle-y, though it's an homage to the poodle," Gugino laughed. "I wear red wigs; I've been in many hairdos this year, on many things. Sometimes I have to look in the mirror to remember which character I'm playing."

On March 6, 2009, however, it seems quite likely that Gugino and many of her co-stars will be appearing in the most unforgettable roles of their careers. "It was really great," she remembered of the Canadian shoot. "The cast is extraordinary; we all really bonded with each other. [Director] Zack Snyder has such a very strong and clear vision for this piece."

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Top 300 Comics Of 2007

Fascinated by this. And owe a huge thank you to you for JLA. As for more comics, more news soon.

Diamond’s Top 300 Comics of 2007

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Y: The Last Issue

Just back from NY, and the best part of the plane ride home? Reading the final, beautiful issue of Y: The Last Man. Brian knows my love for his work, but I'd be a putz if I didn't tell all those who haven't dabbled in the Y world, you really did miss something special. And yes, we always celebrate everything once it's taken from us (usually overstating how great it is as emotions take hold). But Y is worth celebrating. So don't forget to give the swan song some love shack tomorrow.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Stan Lee!

Still counting title votes. Please keep sending them.

And...just got off the phone with Stan Lee. And not about a comic project. Man, he's still The Man. More to come on this one with the next novel...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Vote On The New Title

Here we go... For those new here, welcome to a true tradition. For seven books now, we've voted on the new novel's title. That's right. Democracy.

It's how Addison's Judgment became The Tenth Justice, and how The Fiddler's Three became The Book of Fate.


Screw the primaries. Let's vote on something that really matters. Like imaginary people. And thrillers. And stuff like that.

Just please vote for which title you like best (and try to make up your mind before you see the replies below. Or better yet, send it to me at: bradmeltzer27 at bellsouth dot net). No, it doesn't matter what the book's about. I'll tell you later. Just pick what you'd rather read:




Okay, that's it. You've made your decision, just send it. Don't overthink it. And thank you thank you thank you for putting up with such nonsense. I keep telling myself that this isn't the way to do this, but if it ain't broke, cliché, cliché, cliché.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

First Draft. Done.

Okay, the blood is all over the floor, but the very first draft of the next novel is done. Still a long huge way to go (and they want to publish in September), but I'm excited and spent and can't wait for you to read it.

More details soon. And in a day or two, we need you to vote on the title. Fun! Democratic!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sci-Fi vs. Literary

This one was just fascinating. I love the theory.

Also, trying to finish a first draft of the new novel here. So close and so far far away.

Why "Reality Fatigue" Has Made Science Fiction More Interesting Than Literature [Rant]
via io9 by Annalee Newitz on 1/21/08

One of Wired magazine's brainiest writers, Clive Thompson, has a great essay in the latest issue about why science fiction novels have become more philosophically rich than literature. He points out that scifi often gets the short shrift in literary circles, partly because it's perceived as just so generic. And yet so-called realistic literature is just as generic. In fact, there is a kind of poverty to literary fiction that refuses to bend the rules of social (or material) reality -- one can only describe the world in such books, not suggest ways to change it.

Argues Thompson:

There are, at the risk of sounding superweird, only so many ways to describe reality. After I'd read my 189th novel about someone living in a city, working in a basically realistic job and having a realistic relationship and a realistically fraught family, I was like, "OK. Cool. I see how today's world works." I also started to feel like I'd been reading the same book over and over again.

Here's my overly reductive, incredibly nerdy way of thinking about the novel: Consider it a simulation, kind of like The Sims. If you run a realistic simulation enough times -- writing tens of thousands of novels about contemporary life -- eventually you're going to explore almost every outcome. So what do you do then?

You change the physics in the sim. Alter reality -- and see what new results you get. Which is precisely what sci-fi does. Its authors rewrite one or two basic rules about society and then examine how humanity responds -- so we can learn more about ourselves. How would love change if we lived to be 500? If you could travel back in time and revise decisions, would you? What if you could confront, talk to, or kill God?

Teenagers love to ponder such massive, brain-shaking concepts, which is precisely why they devour novels like Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials, the Narnia series, the Harry Potter books, and Ender's Game. They know that big-idea novels are more likely to have an embossed foil dragon on the cover than a Booker Prize badge.

I wonder if reality fatigue is going to affect television-watchers, too. With the writers' strike forcing studios to roll out so many awful new reality TV shows, maybe there will be a much greater hunger for speculative and scifi series.

SciFi is the Last Bastion of Philosophical Writing [Wired]

Monday, January 14, 2008

Missing Star Wars Scene

I know this is getting old, but I missed it in the holiday rush, so maybe you have too. If not, you're cooler than me, which is, well...easy.

So here's the missing Biggs scene we've always heard about. This is real. And I don't think it's awful. I don't. I just think it looks like Luke and him are gonna kiss.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Damon Lindelof - "Why We Write"

You all know we love Damon. And this is even more proof. I was asked about my heroes recently, and I keep coming back to one idea: that in everyone I admire, one thing is always true -- that they do what they love. Whether they love to sing or play cello or collect trains or write TV shows, that love is what's geniune. And being genuine is all.

And so, I'm so pissed I didn't write about this (though I did save the astronaut story when it came out becasue all of us writers are whores who use everything. Everything. Including, as you'll see in the next book, our own fathers).

"Why We Write": Damon Lindelof of 'Lost'

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Beta Testing Your Novel

Trying to finish up a draft of the new novel now -- which is why I'm so fascinated with this:

Beta-testing a novel using Amazon's Kindle

via Ars Technica by Nate Anderson | Published: January 09, 2008 - 11:01PM CT

Novelist Daniel Oran was finishing up his second book, Believe, when the Kindle (see our review) launched. Reviewers saw a cool device with some odd quirks, but Oran saw an opportunity to use the device for beta-testing his book. Users don't like to read long works on a screen, nor do they like printing 300 pages (even on the office printer), and print-on-demand made distribution too expensive. But the Kindle's superb screen, high profile launch, and easy distribution methods made it the perfect platform for launching Oran's work-in-progress, so he slapped his book up on Amazon's site for a buck and asked for feedback.

I spoke to Oran today about the project, which he characterizes as a "chance to really have readers help you arrive at something that's most appealing to the audience." In his view, that's not pandering, it's collaboration—and it requires a respect for one's own readers that not all novelists possess.

Though in draft form, the novel is complete and polished. But before finalizing the text, Oran wanted feedback from readers. Did they like the book? Did they have ideas for improving it? If software processes could benefit from iterative development and many eyeballs, then why couldn't novels?

It's an approach that appeals to Oran in part because of his own background in software. He was a team leader at Microsoft in the Windows 95 era, and his name actually appears on the patent for the "Start menu" that's still with us today. He's now a full-time writer (a move which he terms a "career migration").

Believe is loosely based on Oran's pre-Microsoft experiences of working at New York's Bellevue Hospital. It tells the story of a patient with amnesia who stumbles into the ER at Christmas and turns out to have amazing talents. A young doctor works with the man to figure out what's happening to him.

Throwing up content on the Web and asking for feedback isn't new, but Oran argues that the Kindle makes reading large amounts of digitally-distributed text easy enough that beta testing a novel is a real possibility. While he's hoping for plenty of user comments, the book has only been up a few days and has yet to receive any.

When he published his first novel, the thriller Ulterior Motive (involving a Seattle company called, not coincidentally, "Megasoft"), Oran went the traditional publishing route. While enjoyable, the only feedback he received was sales figures. By making the book available on the Kindle and asking for feedback, he hopes to change the "nature of the relationship between writers and readers" and get fan feedback before the novel's text is finalized. (One wishes that George Lucas had adopted the same strategy with his Star Wars prequels.)

This makes the creative process a more collaborative one, and it's a bit at odds with the traditional "artist at a typewriter" method of crafting fiction. Unlike truly collaborative projects like Wikipedia, though, Oran will retain control over the text, incorporating only those suggestions that seem like good ones.

In the end, Oran still plans to publish the traditional way, as publishers are still the only reliable way to get a title carried by bookstores. Kindle is great for the cheap distribution of long-form writing projects (Amazon makes it simple to upload content to the system, and the process is free), but e-book readers are still no substitute for a paperback on a bookstore shelf (and they don't impress your mother nearly as much).

One of the ironies of the whole experiment is that Oran doesn't have a Kindle; in fact, he hasn't even seen one. They've been out of stock at Amazon for some time.

Beta-testing books via Kindle may not turn out to be the future of novels, but it's worked out well so far for Oran (he's donating all proceeds from the beta to charity). The media coverage of his experiment has pushed the title as high as 80 on Amazon's Kindle sales charts—not bad for a beta. Even if the feedback from readers turns out to be unhelpful, the publicity certainly can't hurt.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Death To Waiting On Hold

I love you so much I'm sharing this with you. Best hack ever.

How To Never Wait On Hold With Your Credit Card Company [Get To Human]
via Consumerist by Ben Popken on 1/7/08

Reader Jamie shares a neat workaround so that she never has to wait on hold with her credit card company. She says that whenever she calls, "I do not use the 800-number on the back of the card. Instead, I use their outside-the-US instructions on the back of the card and call them collect at their regular phone number. When the credit card thinks that they are paying international collect call charges, they do NOT put you on hold - they take your call right away!"

Sorry if this makes you sad, companies, but this what your interminable queue times have driven us to. We're not going to sit in your cattle chutes anymore. You've wasted enough of our time, now we're going to waste your money.

Friday, January 04, 2008

What I Believe - Iowa Edition

Sometimes I forget how much I love politics. Sure, it's so easy to hate it and dismiss it and point out all its obvious pimples and flaws. But what I loved about last night in Iowa -- and I say this to both sides, from Huckabee to Obama -- I just love when it's clear that the people rule this country. Sure, big business will come and crap on it in the end, but I just love when the underdogs take down the sure things, and when dreaming and believing beats callous sound-bite advisors. It's why McCain and Huckabee and Obama will continue to roll. I respect every single person running for President, but what I care about most -- more than anything in politics -- is the belief that genuine big dreams cannot be contained. By anyone.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Google Tricks To Make You Smarter Than Your Friends

Most are just eh, but the "better than" one is worth the admission. Have fun.

Top 10 Obscure Google Search Tricks
via Digg on 1/2/08

When it comes to the Google search box, you already know the tricks: like searching for exact phrases in quotes like "so say we all" or searching a single site using gmail. But there are many more oblique, clever, and lesser-known search recipes and operators that work from that unassuming little text box.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Most Pirated Movies And TV Shows

Sad part? Still haven't seen Transformers.


Ranking Movie (downloads on Mininova)

  1. Transformers (569.259)
  2. Knocked Up (509.314)
  3. Shooter (399.960)
  4. Pirates Of The.Caribbean At World’s End (379.749)
  5. Ratatouille (359.904)
  6. 300 (358.226)
  7. Next (354.044)
  8. Hot Fuzz (352.905)
  9. The Bourne Ultimatum (336.326)
  10. Zodiac (334.699)


Ranking TV-Shows (downloads most popular episode on Mininova)

  1. Heroes (2.439.154)
  2. Top Gear (1.217.923)
  3. Battlestar Galactica (706.209)
  4. Lost (705.724)
  5. Prison Break (608.487)
  6. Desperate Housewives (457.805)
  7. 24 (524.303)
  8. Family Guy (522.839)
  9. Dexter (435.670)
  10. Scrubs (427.420)

Top 10 Most Pirated Movies and TV Shows of 2007
via Digg on 1/1/08

TV-shows are by far the most popular files on BitTorrent sites. On Mininova alone, some episodes are downloaded more than 2 million times. Movies are a good second, with over 500.000 downloads for the most popular titles.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Year, New Color

I love this stuff. I love that some company out there predicts not weather or style or tie-width -- but just color. The sad part? The year they predicted orange was the year The Tenth Justice was published...and broke out...with an orange cover.

Death to brown! In with blue!

Pantone cranks up the whalesong

'Anchoring and meditative' colour of the year

By Lester Haines

Published Monday 24th December 2007 10:34 GMT

In case you thought common-sense outfits like Pantone - the "global authority on colour" - were immune to rebranding madness, symptomised by the overwhelming desire to give forth in Strategy Boutique Newspeak, it's our sad duty to bring to your attention this announcement regarding the company's "colour of the year":

Pantone's colour of the year - Iris BluePantone, Inc, the global authority on colour and provider of professional colour standards for the design industries, selected PANTONE 18-3943 Blue Iris, a beautifully balanced blue-purple, as the colour of the year for 2008. Combining the stable and calming aspects of blue with the mystical and spiritual qualities of purple, Blue Iris satisfies the need for reassurance in a complex world, while adding a hint of mystery and excitement.

"From a colour forecasting perspective, we have chosen PANTONE 18-3943 Blue Iris as the colour of the year, as it best represents colour direction in 2008 for fashion, cosmetics, and home products," explains Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Colour Institute®. "As a reflection of the times, Blue Iris brings together the dependable aspect of blue, underscored by a strong, soul-searching purple cast. Emotionally, it is anchoring and meditative with a touch of magic. Look for it artfully combined with deeper plums, red-browns, yellow-greens, grapes and grays."

Splendid. Ms Eiseman doubtless did her soul-searching for this particular load of complete nonsense with the whalesong cranked up to 11 and in a thick joss-stick-generated scented fog. We wish her and our beloved readers a beautifully balanced, meditative, and anchored 2008. ®


Thanks to Roland Muts for the heads-up.