Saturday, February 23, 2008

Poetry News, In Brief

Charles Bukowski's former crash pad is on its way to becoming an official Los Angeles city monument. Fans are welcome to puke, piss or sh*t anywhere.
(For the full story, click here.)


(an excerpt)

you haven't lived
until you've been in a
with nothing but one
light bulb
and 56 men
squeezed together
on cots
with everybody
at once
and some of those
deep and
gross and
from hell

Oscar-winning director Pedro Almodovar is to film the autobiography of Marcos Ana, a communist poet who spent 23 years in prison during the Franco dictatorship.
(For the full story, click here.)

Mi casa y mi corazón

(sueño de libertad)

Si salgo un día a la vida
mi casa no tendrá llaves:
siempre abierta, como el mar,
el sol y el aire.

Que entren la noche y el día,
y la lluvia azul, la tarde,
el rojo pan de la aurora;
La luna, mi dulce amante.

Que la amistad no detenga
sus pasos en mis umbrales,
ni la golondrina el vuelo,
ni el amor sus labios. Nadie.

Mi casa y mi corazón
nunca cerrados: que pasen
los pájaros, los amigos,
el sol y el aire.

A 1956 recording of Allen Ginsberg reading his poem, Howl, was just found in the archives of Reed University in Portland, Oregon. It is the earliest recording of Howl, the poem that would make Ginsberg famous when it was published a few months later, sparking a landmark obscenity trial.
(To hear the recording, click here. For the full story, click here.)

(an excerpt)

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,
who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated,
who passed through universities with radiant eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the scholars of war,
who were expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull,
who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burning their money in wastebaskets and listening to the Terror through the wall,
who got busted in their pubic beards returning through Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York,
who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in Paradise Alley, death, or purgatoried their torsos night after night
with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, alcohol and cock and endless balls,
incomparable blind streets of shuddering cloud and lightning in the mind leaping towards poles of Canada & Paterson, illuminating all the motionless world of Time between,
Peyote solidities of halls, backyard green tree cemetery dawns, wine drunkenness over the rooftops, storefront boroughs of teahead joyride neon blinking traffic light, sun and moon and tree vibrations in the roaring winter dusks of Brooklyn, ashcan rantings and kind king light of mind,
who chained themselves to subways for the endless ride from Battery to holy Bronx on benzedrine until the noise of wheels and children brought them down shuddering mouth-wracked and battered bleak of brain all drained of brilliance in the drear light of Zoo,
who sank all night in submarine light of Bickford's floated out and sat through the stale beer afternoon in desolate Fugazzi's, listening to the crack of doom on the hydrogen jukebox,
who talked continuously seventy hours from park to pad to bar to Bellevue to museum to the Brooklyn Bridge,
a lost batallion of platonic conversationalists jumping down the stoops off fire escapes off windowsills off Empire State out of the moon

Friday, February 22, 2008

Bookstore News, In Brief

A darkly funny anecdote from a seriously depressing news item (or: Why hate tourists when you've got locals like this?)
169-year-old Halifax Bookstore Closing
The fate of Canada's oldest independent bookstore was sealed just before Christmas when it mistakenly received a delivery of books destined for a resident of one of the apartments upstairs. Staff at The Book Room, a 169-year-old shop presently located on a corner of Halifax's bustling Barrington Street, unwittingly opened the box to discover the same titles they already had in stock -- plus an invoice from one of the big Internet booksellers.
"Somebody had ordered a bunch of books from Amazon," Charles Burchell, who managed the bookstore for more than 40 years, recounted in a recent interview. "To find that it was books we had on our shelves that they could have had in five minutes rather than five days if they'd walked downstairs ... that really made us sit up and take notice."
You ask me, they should have pooped in that box.

Amazon Bookstore for sale! No, jackass, not that Amazon. This one's a 38 year old co-op in Minneapolis, and while it doesn't carry the Kindle, it is the country's oldest womens' bookstore. Oh, and then there's this great selling point, via It's common knowledge that like many independent bookstores, Amazon has struggled financially in recent years. Although the store hasn't made a profit in a couple of's in relatively good shape.
Wow! Where do I sign?

Bad news for behemoth online bookstores is good news for their brick & mortar indie enemies.
Via Hackers obtained credit card information and other personal data from several thousand customers who purchased books on Eslite's online bookstore after gaining unauthorized access to a third-party computer system, the company said yesterday. Eslite is currently the largest bookstore chain in Taiwan, with nearly 50 branches and more than 400,000 online customers. The company was established in Taipei City in 1989 by Wu Ching-yu.
While I want to believe that this is some sort of V for Vendetta-like act of sabotage instigated by the anti-big business underground, I'm guessing it's actually just the act of a bunch of hyper-intelligent, internet thieves.

Comic Book Galaxy has posted a thorough interview with comic book shop owner, Jim Crocker. Crocker's shop, Modern Myths, sounds like heaven, the kind of place that makes you ask yourself, "Why can't all comic/book/gaming stores be like that?" Store owners and employees interested in inspiring similar reactions might want to click on over. Crocker's spilling all his retail secrets.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Recommended Viewing:
Neil Gaiman's Coraline Trailer

The Perry Bible Fellowship Is Closing Its Doors...For a While, Anyway

Nicholas Gurewitch has just announced that he's retiring his Perry Bible Fellowship comic strip. Sort of. "It's really not as big a deal as it might seem," Nicholas said today. "I'll simply be producing comics at a pace I'm more comfortable with."
For now 25-year-old Nicholas plans to live off proceeds from his recent collection, and prints of the strip. "His book did really, really well through Amazon," said Dark Horse's Krystin Overstreet, and the book actually pre-sold more than 27,000 copies before its official release date in November. But Nicholas says he's looking forward to "dedicating my thoughts to new books, scripts, movies, or whatever else comes my way."

Damn. This was one funny comic strip. If you're not familiar with Gurewitch's work, check out his website. He's got dozens of strips posted.

Where the Wild Things Are FX Test Footage

What we've got here is some leaked (internet speak for: most likely stolen) special effects test footage from Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation) and Dave Eggers' ( A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, What is the What?) adaptation of Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are. It's a rough but charming bit of sweetness. Still, you might not want to get too attached to anything you see here, as rumors are swirling that Warner Bros (the studio footing the bill) heard about a couple of kids crying at a test screening and are now debating a major re-tooling (Hollywood speak for: new effects, new cast, new director, new script). Like that chatty neighbor that talks about things he/she actually knows little about, as the rumors pour in, we'll keep you posted. Until then, enjoy this:

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Random Facts:
The 20 Best Selling Books Of All Time

1. Bible 5 to 6 billion
2. Quotations from Chairman Mao 900 million
3. Qur'an 800 million
4. Don Quixote Miguel de Cervantes 500 million
5. Xinhua Dictionary 400 million
6. Book of Common Prayer Thomas Cranmer 300 million
7. The Pilgrim's Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come John Bunyan 250 million
8. The Count of Monte Cristo Alexandre Dumas 200 million
9. Scouting for Boys Handbook Robert Baden-Powell 150 million
10. Foxe's Book of Martyrs or Actes and Monuments of these Latter and Perillous Days, touching Matters of the Church John Foxe 150 million
11. Book of Mormon Joseph Smith, Jr. 125 million (The Book of Mormon is always given away and is never for sale, it is is therefore open to debate whether it should be on the list at all.)
12. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone J.K. Rowling 120 million
13. And Then There Were None Agatha Christie 115 million
14. The Lord of the Rings J. R. R. Tolkien 100 million
15. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets J.K. Rowling 77 million
16. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire J.K. Rowling 66 million
17. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince J.K. Rowling 65 million
18. The Catcher in the Rye J. D. Salinger 65 million
19. The Da Vinci Code Dan Brown 64 million
20. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban J.K. Rowling 60 million

Book News, In Brief

Who says that no one reads self-published memoirs? A Cleveland nurse was fired last month because of hers. Adrienne Zurub's bosses claim that she violated the doctor/patient confidentiality agreement, but Zurub says that she only trash talked the doctors, not the patients.

Oh, what a tangled web they weave: Author A writes a dust jacket blurb for author B, who writes the blurb for Author C, who has already written a blurb for Author A. Click here for Foreign Policy Magazine's byzantine map of Washington D.C.'s worst 'I'll do for you, you do for me' pull quote whores.

From The Guardian UK: "The exiled Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin, who is accused of insulting Islam, will be allowed to stay in India it emerged today – but only if she remains in a government flat in a secret location in Delhi, unable to receive visitors or step outside her door." Before we picket the Indian consulate, let's try and put this unfortunate situation into its proper historical perspective. Remember, this sort of shunning never lasts forever. Salman Rushdie had to go into hiding after publishing Satanic Verses, only to show up a couple of years later on-stage at a U2 concert, dating a woman a third his age. Oh, and Hollywood once demanded a similar thing of Corey Feldman, and he just finished shooting Lost Boys 2.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tomorrow's Comics, Recommended Today

Tomorrow is New Comics Day, a day/phrase that gets capitalized in the hearts and blogs of comic book lovers everywhere. Ah, but can it possibly live up to the six day hype that we have mentally preceded it with? This week, yes.

Dark Horse Comics will be releasing the third volume in their Aliens Omnibus series. This volume covers all of the US and UK licensed comics from 1993-94, and boasts such critically acclaimed contributers as Jim Woodring, Kilian Plunkett and Peter Milligan. For the first first few pages of Salvation, a one shot comic by Mike Mignola (Hellboy) and Dave Gibbons (Watchmen), click here.

LOST fans may want to check out Batman: False Faces. It's a collection of short stories written by the guy that finally got that show back on track, Brian K. Vaughan. Don't like LOST? Well, Vaughan is also responsible for writing the recently completed, brilliantly executed, Y: The Last Man.

Want to look like a 'serious' comics reader, the sort of person that still gets a kick out of Chris Ware's boxy draftsmanship and one emotion storytelling? You could do a lot worse than toting around Fantagraphics special edition of Joe Sacco's Palestine. Sacco's artwork is deliriously cartoony, while his writing is an engrossing, non-fiction reporting of his time spent in the war torn country. One of my all-time favorite comics, by the way.

Author Du Jour: George Pelecanos

(Stolen whole from dude's official website)
George Pelecanos was born in Washington, D.C. in 1957. He worked as a line cook, dishwasher, bartender, and woman's shoe salesman before publishing his first novel in 1992.
Pelecanos is the author of fourteen crime novels set in and around Washington, D.C.: A Firing Offense, Nick's Trip, Shoedog, Down By the River Where the Dead Men Go, The Big Blowdown, King Suckerman, The Sweet Forever, Shame the Devil, Right as Rain, Hell to Pay, Soul Circus, Hard Revolution, Drama City, and The Night Gardener. He has been the recipient of the Raymond Chandler award in Italy, the Falcon award in Japan, and the Grand Prix Du Roman Noir in France. Hell to Pay and Soul Circus were awarded the 2003 and 2004 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes. His short fiction has appeared in Esquire and the collections Unusual Suspects, Best American Mystery Stories of 1997, Measures of Poison, Best American Mystery Stories of 2002, Men From Boys, Murder at the Foul Line, and D.C. Noir, for which he also served as editor. He is an award-winning essayist who has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, GQ, Sight and Sound, Uncut, Mojo, and numerous other publications. Esquire magazine called Pelecanos "the poet laureate of the D.C. crime world."
Pelecanos served as producer on the feature films Caught (Robert M. Young, 1996), Whatever (Susan Skoog, 1998) and BlackMale (George and Mike Baluzy, 1999), and was the U.S. distributor of John Woo's cult classic, The Killer and Richard Bugajski's Interrogation. Most recently, he was a producer, writer, and story editor for the acclaimed HBO dramatic series, The Wire, winner of the Peabody Award and the AFI Award. He was nominated for an Emmy for his writing on that show. His novel Right as Rain is currently in development with director Curtis Hanson (LA Confidential, Wonder Boys) and Warner Brothers. He is a writer on the upcoming World War II miniseries The Pacific, to be produced by Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, and HBO.
Pelecanos lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his wife and three children. He is at work on his next novel.

(Thanks, Wikipedia)
* Shoedog (1994)
* Drama City (2005)
* The Night Gardener (2006)
* The Turnaround (2008)
Nick Stefanos Series
* A Firing Offense (1992)
* Nick's Trip (1993)
* Down by the River Where the Dead Men Go (1995)
* Stefanos Novels: Down By The River, A Firing Offence, Nick's Trip (2002)
D.C. Quartet Series
* The Big Blowdown (1996)
* King Suckerman (1997)
* The Sweet Forever (1998)
* Shame the Devil (2000)
Derek Strange and Terry Quinn Series
* Right as Rain (2001)
* Hell to Pay (2002)
* Soul Circus (2003)
* Hard Revolution (2004)
* Right as Rain, Hell to Pay, Soul Circus (omnibus) (2005)

Assorted Links:
G. Pelecanos' official website
Excerpt from The Night Gardener
Excerpt from Hell To Pay
Excerpt from Right as Rain
Interview with

Lastly, G.P. on the Chatshow couch with an idiot of an interviewer.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Book Reviews, In Brief

The AP reviews High Crimes: The Fate of Everest in an Age of Greed by Michael Kodas, summing up the book's non-fiction tales of prostitution, narcotics, physical assault, extortion and theft of indispensable oxygen tanks with this twisted travel ad: 'Mount Everest — if the brutal winds and minus 30 degree Fahrenheit temperatures don't kill you, your fellow climbers will.'

The NYTimes gives the Oscar to Mark Harris' Pictures of a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood, saying that the book "can take its place alongside top-shelf film industry books like Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, Final Cut, The Studio and The Devil’s Candy for qualities all of them share: the big-picture overview, the nuts-and-bolts understanding of exactly how films evolve from the drawing board to the screen, and gratifying antennae for all forms of Hollywood-related horror stories."

Want to piss off your Bible-thumping peers with well-constructed, fact-based arguments proving that their translations are no damned good? Then perhaps Truth in Translation: Accuracy and Bias in The Old Testament is not the book for you. According to Kirkus Reviews, author Frances Werner "sets out to show statistically how well 20 major English translations of the Bible match up to the ancient biblical languages," but falls short by of her goal by "oversimplifying the difficulties of translation" and using "one-sided statistics and occasionally incorrect syllogisms (that) make her argument only partially convincing."
So much for giving this one out as an Easter present.

Book News, In Brief

The lemmings have laptops. From "The Oprah touch doesn’t just work for traditional books. More than 1 million copies of Suze Orman’s Women & Money were downloaded after the announcement last week on Winfrey’s television show that the e-book edition would be available for free on her web site for a period of 33 hours."

Just when it looked like Hollywood was learning to treat its writers with respect, Deborah Gregory, author of the Cheetah Girls book series, has come forward claiming that Disney is denying her profits from the hit TV show that her work inspired. When Gregory signed her contract with the three fingered mouse in 2001, she was promised 4 percent of the net profits. But after 8 years, 3 movies, 3 cds and 3 world tours, Gregory has still only received $125,000 (or roughly the cost of a week's stay at Walt Disney World).

Boston Comic Con has announced some of its lineup for the 2008 festivities, and there's something for everyone...provided that "everyone" only includes the very young and the very old, anyway. Twenty-somethings may not be so stoked. Let's see, for the grey hairs and the serious fanboys, there's Carmine Infantino, co-creator of the Silver Age Flash. For the DDR dancing kidlings and pervy pedophiles, there's Cookie Cutter Girl, the self-described pop singing superhero. For everybody else, there's the faint glimmer of hope that other names will be added by the time B-Comicon puts out its second press release.