Thursday, September 20, 2012

It's that time of year again...

...the weather's getting colder. We're spending more time indoors, seeking something to entertain during those long upcoming winter hours. And what better to serve the purpose than the bloodsport of pitting the best against the best, knowing without pity that only a few of those bright-eyed hopefuls will make it?

I'm speaking, of course, of the upcoming television season. (Not to disrespect football fans. Let me know if your favorite team scores a home run, all right?)

I used to be in fandom; honestly, I still am, even if I'm much more of a consumer than a producer these days. If there is one thing I am constitutionally unable to do, it's dismiss pop culture as "just" anything. I live for television, for storytelling. So here's what I'm keeping an eye on this fall:

Elementary: I've been a Lucy Liu fan ever since she was an Angel, and I thought she was brilliant during last season's turn on Southland. Johnny Lee Miller has taken longer to grow on me; he's one of those actors, I think, who is going to wow you as he ages even while he was lost in a sea of pretty as a younger man, but he grips me hard now when he didn't before. On top of liking both of the primary actors, I got a chance to peek at the pilot a few weeks back. I give it an enthusiastic thumbs-up: character-driven, aware of its ridiculousness in a wry way, and engagingly acted on the parts of Liu, Miller, and Quinn. If I had to pick one new show I'm hopping up and down over this season, it's Elementary, and only part of that is because I'm contrary and Lucy Liu has been treated abominably by Sherlock fans. (Which is why I'm going to say this: it's possible to have entirely legit reasons to be dubious about Liu as Joan Watson, but I would prefer you didn't air them here. Lucy Liu has had so much racist, misogynist shit thrown at her since the casting news broke, I kind of have a knee-jerk thing happening at this point.)

Arrow: I watched Smallville. I liked Justin Hartley as Green Arrow. I kind of dig antiheroes. A friend of mine who has an automatic nose-crinkle reaction to Hartley and sort of loathes everything about SV's Green Arrow watched the pilot and gave it a thumbs-up. That means I'm most likely going to love it to the point of rolling around like a puppy. Not to mention that it features Katie Cassidy, who does snarky badass incredibly well, as...wait for it...Dinah Freaking Lance. I will defend Smallville in its cheesy, lost-opportunity, good-hearted glory until the air runs out of my lungs, but they shanked Dinah hard. I am stupid kinds of excited about a show featuring her as a regular. (Just let her yell. Just let her yell just once.)

Beauty and the Beast: I am not old enough to remember the original B&B. I have seen clips, though, and the amazing thing is how inhuman they make the Beast look. In the reboot, he has a cheek scar and a golden eye, like that wouldn't get him more women in, oh, any bar or club whatsoever over the past twelve years. I like Kristin Kreuk, though, so I want this to succeed. At the very least, I want it to be beautifully terrible and fun. Hey, The Vampire Diaries started the same way, and grew to be kind of amazing by the end of its first season. (Fell apart utterly in the second, but let's not speak of that. It still hurts too much.)

And let's not forget the returning favorites!

Nikita: Honestly, this show is my very favorite thing on television right now. Nikita is a brilliant, layered heroine, acted close against her chest by one Maggie Q. I didn't think she was a good actress when I first started watching the show, but she deliberately tamps down her affect to show Nikita's constant emotional control, even if you have to re-watch to get everything Q is actually doing. And when she bursts out? Oh, lord. Nikita started in a fairly mediocre fashion, but over the last half of the first season and the entirety of the second became a smart, exciting, amazing piece of television. If you've hung around this blog even a little bit, you know that I love powerful women in my fiction, and this show has been incredible in its dedication to diverse ladies being badass without apology.

Raising Hope: Okay, so I'm redneck. I also grew up very poor. As a result, I'm very sensitive to LOL REDNECK bullshit, and that is why I love Greg Garcia. He understands class issues intimately, and he writes comedy about them in a way that is hilariously on-point, but in a strangely gentle way. I laugh my ass off until I have a brand-new set of abs, because I have lived that life, but he never crosses the line into meanness and always seems to believe in people's best qualities.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Review: How to Sell a Gazillion eBooks In No Time by Russell Blake

Description: How To Sell A Gazillion eBooks In No Time (Even if Drunk, High or Incarcerated) is a parody of all things related to writing, self-publishing and self-promotion. Featuring 59 Writer’s Tips running the gamut from selecting a blockbuster title to creating compelling narrative and dialog, Russell’s relentlessly evil humor mocks everything sacred to the writing profession. Described as “…the literary equivalent of Ebola” and “vicious, demented, reprehensible brain poison,” Blake’s book is sweeping the publishing industry and garnering rave reviews. A must buy for authors, friends of authors, and readers everywhere.

”How to Sell a Gazillion eBooks In a Year is by far the most important book ever written on any topic, although I exclude the Bible since the Bible wasn’t exactly written in the way we mean the word “written.” But other than that, Gazillion does it all. For everyone. A can’t miss, sure fire Gazillion hit-a-thon from the master of them all.”

My Thoughts: I laughed so hard I threw myself into a coughing fit several times. Admittedly, this is not difficult in my current state of health, but Blake has still written a hysterically funny satire on the glut of self-publishing how-tos blooding the internet over the past couple of years. I caught John Locke (even funnier now that he's revealed himself to be a fraud who buys reviews), JA Konrath (not a fraud, but sometimes a bit of an acquired taste), and a few others that I'm not going to name because they're obsessive self-Googlers and I honestly do not need to deal with their shit right now. (The chapter mocking existentialists and anyone else who stands behind half-understood jargon as a substitute for argument had me wheezing so hard that I now have a brand-new set of abs, however. Do you know how long it's been since I had abs? Since never.)

What I enjoyed most about the book, though, is that it's satire in the truest sense: Blake is making fun of certain behaviors because he knows these people are capable of better. He's snarky as hell, but never trips over the line into the mean or personal, and there is a lot of genuinely good writing advice buried under the pigtail-pulling.

And, I have to stress this again, he mocks existentialists. Everyone should mock existentialists, all the time.

(I apologize for how little I've been around lately, either in this space or on Twitter. I haven't descended into another terrifying depressive episode; my reasons for being scarce around these parts are much more mundane. I'm doing line edits on Leech, finally throwing up my hands on Bulletproof and admitting that I need to stick it in a drawer for a little while until I figure out where it twisted wrong on me, and dealing with a truly ugly cold. Since I'm already on antibiotics for another condition, I have to assume that I 1) have the most apathetic immune system in the world, or 2) I am unleashing Captain Tripps upon you all. I am truly sorry if I have inadvertently caused the apocalypse.)