Next Time You Make a Mistake I’m Gonna Ride Off and Let You Die

I didn’t get as much done last week on my big writing self-challenge, but I did accomplish a lot. I got a little sidetracked toward the end of the week when the Independent called and asked if I’d do a story/interview with Lita Ford for the upcoming show with Queensryche next week.

I was all over it. I was a big fan of Lita back in the day; she wrote some great songs and could unleash righteous shreddery on her BC Rich axe. In fact, interviewing her was probably trumped only by the interview with Ace Frehley.

Yeah, big hair 80s! That article will run in Thursday’s Independent.

Montana Festival of the Book

I attended two events at last weekend’s Festival of the Book, and both were fantastic. The first one was Thursday afternoon at The Wilma; “The Last Good Kiss: An Appreciation of James Crumley.” The authors involved were Dennis Lehane (Mystic River, Shutter Island, The Given Day, etc.), George Pelecanos (The Night Gardener, The Way Home, writer/producer of HBO’s The Wire, etc.), Laura Lippman (Life Sentences, Tess Monaghan series) and James Grady (Six Days of the Condor). They are all top, TOP shelf writers, and it was a fun and inspirational panel. Lehand and Lippman did most of the talking, and their banter was witty and entertaining. Crumley clearly meant a lot to all of these writers, and I enjoyed myself. Since the panel I have read Crumley’s The Last Good Kiss, which Lehane called “the greatest American crime novel ever written.” I enjoyed the hell out of it. I’d post more of the quotes I wrote down, but don’t have my notes with me. I’ll just say that for where I am with my writing, this panel was perfect timing.

The panel was moderated by Michael Koepf, longtime friend of Crumley. All in all, it was a couple of the best hours I’ve spent.

Julia got home from San Francisco late Friday night, then Saturday we went down to the Festival to see “The Wire: An Interview” with Pelecanos again and David Simon. Simon also happens to be married to the aforementioned Laura Lippman. Anyway, it was an interesting discussion on our latest favorite program, HBO’s The Wire. It was cool to hear how their processes for writing the show worked, the filming, all of it. Very interesting and informative. Another great event.

On the Road in Nebraska

I’m catching up on this thing from a hotel room in Omaha, Nebraska. It’s bigger than I imagined it would be. This is actually my first time to set foot in this state, though I’ve literally been in site of it a number of times. Here’s the glorious view outside my window.

That was taken when I arrived on Tuesday afternoon. Shortly after arriving I went hunting for something on which to feast. I found it on just the other side of the mighty Missouri river in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

It hasn’t been too exciting so far. Here’s the view outside the room I spent my day working in. These yayhoos make radios or something.

After work I managed to find a little culture, though.

You know I made the most of it.

We’re So Noir

The other night after I’d gotten home from this latest trip to Oklahoma, Julia and I sat up watching the film version of After Dark, My Sweet. I had actually just read the book while I was on my trip, so the story was pretty fresh in my mind. I thought it was actually a pretty solid interpretation, despite a few changes to the plot that left me scratching my head. The weakest link was Rachel Ward as the female lead, Fay. She didn’t do a particularly good job of portraying Fay’s personality swings based on how sober she was at any given moment. Jason Patric as Collie, and Bruce Dern as Uncle Bud, though, were awesome.

There was a scene (several, actually) where the three main characters were together in the ugly ranch house that Fay lives in, on the edge of Palm Springs. They’re burning through cigarettes and making a bottle of whiskey rapidly disappear. Julia and I, who often plot our own illicit scores, were in the process of wildly passing back and forth a plastic liter bottle of . . . Diet Pepsi. When I pointed this out, she said, “We’re so noir.” It was pretty goddamn funny. I suppose you probably had to be here.

From the “You’ve Got to be Freakin’ Kidding Me Department

Our very friendly neighbor across the street, Becky, owns the Becky’s Superior Cuts barbershop on South Avenue. I’ve been going there for beard trims and (much more infrequent) hair trims since we found out it was her business. Anyway, Julia went there for a little trim the other day (go ahead, Butthead: trim, huh huh huh . . . trim), and happened to be there when the mailman delivered a bunch of magazines. Most of them are types that Becky doesn’t really care to have in her shop (in particular, women’s lifestyle and fashion magazines, that are somehow automatically sent to her) and Julia managed to work out a deal to have Becky give them to her instead of just tossing them. Those types of mags are a guilty pleasure of Julia’s, but the only one she actually buys is one called Lucky. This jackpot was akin to me falling into a steady supply of free Batman or Captain America comics!

So I’m eyeballing Scarlett Johansson on the cover of Vogue, and Julia asks me how much I think the t-shirt she’s wearing costs. I shrug, I don’t know, $200. No, $5000. What?! Five THOUsand dollars? “What, is it made from the plucked pubic hairs of virgins?!” I ask. No, she says. I just can’t believe that kind of thing. I mean, I could see if it were made of silk pulled from the asses of spiders, but it’s just a goddamn t-shirt . . . and an ass-ugly one too, if you ask me.

Have I mentioned Scarlett is playing Black Widow in the next Iron Man movie? I’d be remiss if I didn’t. That’s pretty awesome. I’ve always liked that character.

     

Bachelor Week

As I type, I imagine — hope — Julia has her ass planted on the BART taking her to the hostel she is staying in in San Francisco this week. She is there for the big bellydance thing she’s been working on all year. She’s been working very hard to get ready, so it’s quite the culmination of a lot of work. I had originally planned to go with her, but we decided that, for the money, with the level of distraction she’d have with the class we’d be better off waiting. We’ll make it back some other time. Hopefully we’ll go to Tucson some time this winter for a little vacation.

As for me, I have the week off as well. I have some big writing plans I hope to accomplish. At the moment, though, I’m watching the final big shootout of The Wild Bunch, surrounded by empty whiskey bottles and passed out hookers.

I’m just kidding. About the whiskey.

DonkeyGirl Online!

I meant to put this up about a week ago, but I’ve been pretty lame when it comes to updating this blog . . . again. I’ve mentioned before that Julia (my wife, for those of you who don’t know) calls her clothing design business DonkeyGirl; now she’s taken it online! You can check it out HERE.

Neither of us are web designers, which has been a bit of a challenge. We found a host for the site and Julia has done all the work herself using a design template thing provided by the site host. It works okay, with some frustrating limitations, but so far it is serviceable.

I’m pretty blown away by how she can take simple clothes off a thrift store rack and revision them into something else. Besides the purses and stuff she makes out of leather skirts and jackets, she designed these outfits from various articles of clothing. Then we went out around town and took photos of pretty models wearing them.

          

This one we went to The Wilma to shoot pictures, not realizing there was some country concert going on there that night. That made for an interesting challenge. I wish I could have gotten better pictures.

A little over a week ago Julia entered these outfits into the 1st Annual FUNKY JUNK Recycled Fashion Show & Wearable Art Contest at The Green Light in Missoula. The Missoulian ran a story on this event; you can check it out HERE.

I took rough video of our friend, Sonja, on the runway in a couple outfits.

Julia’s dress won in one of the categories, with big thanks to Sonja for making them look even more fetching. The dress is now on display in the front window of the store with the other winners. If you’re in town, swing by and have a look. She is selling all these outfits as well as custom stuff, so check it out!

An Exercise in Twitter Awesomeness

I had heard of this particular Twitter page before, but hadn’t checked it out until my friend April hipped me to it. It’s pretty freaking hilarious. It is a page that belongs to this guy Justin, who only posts things his 73 yo dad says. Some of these kill me.

_________________________________________

Shit My Dad Says

Name: Justin
Bio: I’m 28. I live with my 73-year-old dad. He is awesome. I just write down shit that he says.

1. “Who is this woman?….Kate Beckinsale? Well, you can tell Kate Beckinsale she sucks.”

2. “You need to flush the toilet more than once…No, YOU, YOU specifically need to. You know what, use a different toilet. This is my toilet.”

3. “Don’t touch the bacon, it’s not done yet. You let me handle the bacon, and i’ll let you handle..what ever it is you do. I guess nothing.”

4. “Your mother made a batch of meatballs last night. Some are for you, some are for me, but more are for me. Remember that. More. Me.”

5. “Your brother brought his baby over this morning. He told me it could stand. It couldn’t stand for shit. Just sat there. Big let down.”

6. “Love this Mrs. Dash. The bitch can make spices… Jesus, Joni (my mom) it’s a joke. I was making a joke! Mrs. Dash isn’t even real dammit!”

7. “The dog is not bored, it’s a fucking dog. It’s not like he’s waiting for me to give him a fucking rubix cube. He’s a god damned dog.”

8. “They serve Jim Beam on airplanes. Tastes like piss. You wouldn’t be able to tell the difference, because you drink shit. I don’t.”

9. “My flight lands at 9:30 on Sunday…You want to watch what? What the fuck is mad men? I’m a mad man if you don’t pick me the hell up.”

10. “It’s watering plants, Justin. You just take a God damned hose and you put it over the plant. You don’t even pay rent, just do it. Shit.”

11. (left on answering machine) “Hello? Hello? It’s Sam. Anyone there? Nobody checks this god damned thing. HELLO?! HELLO?! Screw it.”8

12. “Tennessee is nice. The first time I vomited was in tennessee, I think.”

13. “If your brother comes by, tell him I’m on vacation. I already told him that, but who knows with that guy. Are you listening to me? Fuck.”

14. “Why would i want to check a voicemail on my cell phone? People want to talk to me, call again. If i want to talk to you, I’ll answer.”

15. “Jesus it’s hot in here? Right? No? It’s fucking hot, you people looking at me like i’m crazy. You’re crazy.”

16. “When I used to live in Los Angeles, I used to step in human feces a lot.”

17. “The dog is an outside dog. You want an inside dog, you go get your own inside.”

18. “I didn’t live to be 73 years old so I could eat kale. Don’t fix me your breakfast and pretend you’re fixing mine.”

_________________________________________

I can’t wait to be that ornery and cantankerous to my ungrateful mutant offspring when I’m 73. I may not even wait that long, seeing as how he’s turning into such a weisenheimer. Case in point: last week he called me while I was in Oklahoma. Apparently his favorite band, CAULDRON (who is playing in Missoula tomorrow night and Sid’s band is opening), contacted him via MySpace, wanting to know how to contact me because they had some new merch being done, and wanted to know if they could have it drop shipped to me. I told Sid that was totally cool (I handled merch for Nashville Pussy in much the same way a few years ago), and that he could give them my phone number. The next day we had a little text exchange.

SID: hey old man. did anyone call you from earache about the cauldron merch? [note: the “Earache” he refers to is Cauldron’s record label]

ME: No, I haven’t heard anything yet.

SID: oh. maybe they figured it was all cool just from me talking to them on myspace.

ME: Maybe. But that would only be if they didn’t realize that you are just a little kid.

SID: or maybe they realize that you are just a poser.

ME: You suck.

SID: slayer

August Ain’t Just a Name for an Obnoxious Heir-ling

I’ve been pretty lame about posting anything here. I’ve bookmarked a lot of stuff to mention, but just haven’t gotten to it. Been in a bit of a funk lately, on top of doing a lot of reading and (not quite enough) writing. And weightlifting. And going up and down that goddamn M. I’ll try and cover a few bases now, and maybe more over the next few days.

Darwyn Cooke Nails It

This book just came out, and it is freakin’ brilliant.

If you like crime stories and good art, pick this sucker up. You can read an article/interview about it right here, and I urge you to do so. From the article:

 

Although many fans know Darwyn Cooke mainly from his work on superhero titles like “The New Frontier” and “Catwoman: Selina’s Big Score,” his first love has always been crime fiction. Cooke’s first published work from DC Comics, in fact, didn’t involve superheroes — it was a short story called “The Private Eye,” which appeared in “Talent Showcase #19” in 1985.

“It’s really what I’ve always wanted to do,” Cooke said at his spotlight panel at Comic-Con International. “You sort of have to go where the interest is, and in this industry, that means finding out things about superheroes that excite you that you want to get into. But I knew after ‘The New Frontier’ I probably had the leverage and the ability to perhaps try to go out and do something that would be a little more in line with my own personal interests.”

Cooke’s passion for crime drama resulted in one of the best reviewed graphic novels of the year so far, IDW Publishing’s “Parker: The Hunter,” an adaptation of the book by Donald Westlake, who wrote under the pseudonym Richard Stark.

This is really one of the coolest things I’ve read. The first 30 pages or so only has text in, if I recall, one spot. The rest is just the visual journey of Parker — the main character, who is in no way a “good guy” — returning to New York bent on revenge. We see him get a fake ID, use it to get a fake checking account, buy stuff by check then go pawn it for cash. It’s the little details in the art that make it so awesome. And the angular, hard-edged art that Cooke does so well could not be more perfect for Westlake/Stark’s prose. This is beautiful work. If you like a good crime yarn, or appreciate graphic storytelling, then this is for you. I can’t urge you to do so enough.

Though I will probably be making as strong, if not stronger, of a case for the graphic book I will finish tonight, called Asterios Polyp.

What a great time to be a fan of this stuff. This isn’t even geek shit — none of this is superhero storytelling. So don’t miss out.

Though Since You Did Mention Geek Shit

My dad reads this blog, so he’s well aware of a lot of this stuff I’m into. He scored me a stack of old comics from the 70s at a yard sale, and they are awesome. Some Invaders, Champions, a couple Tarzan, and several John Carter — Warlord of Mars (which I never collected as a kid, so I’m thrilled to have them now). What’s awesome is a couple issues were ones I had way back when, like this Daredevil Annual from 1976!

(in case you’re wondering, in the fight depicted above, Daredevil and Black Panther would be a good battle. Neither of them can go toe-to-toe with Namor, the Savage Sub-Mariner, though — he’s a dude who can hold his own against the freakin’ HULK for crissakes!)

What’s great about these comics too are the ads. The little green army men. The weird little joy buzzers and x-ray glasses. And this piece of awesomeness off the back cover of a John Carter issue from 1978:

You just can’t find that level of utter cool these days. I know you people are feelin’ this!

Everyone’s All a’Twitter

So you’ve probably heard of Twitter. The idea is each “tweet” gives you 140 characters to say what you want. You can “follow” people you want — i.e. other Twitter users whose comments you want to see — and other people, presumably, follow you in return. When I first checked it out, I thought it was pretty lame. It seemed like the majority of it was stuff like someone posting, “I’z hungry but I’z don’t have any food. I can haz pizsa plz lol’z!!!1!” So I bailed on it, but after catching wind that a lot of the writers and various other creative people I admire were getting on board, I decided to revisit it. I have mixed feelings about it.

As of today, I have 91 people I’m following, with a whopping 47 following me (contrast this with someone like, say, Neil Gaiman, who has 904, 608 followers)(speaking of Mr. Gaiman, I’m a fan of his writing, but I am not following him anymore mainly because the ratio of interesting to not-so-interesting tweets was pretty poor; I’ll stick with reading his journal). Almost all of the people I follow are writers — either of books or comics, or both — or artists. I also follow a few local people and friends as well, none of whom post all that much.

For the most part it’s been pretty cool. I’ve found that most of the people I admire are pretty interesting, and I have discovered some great stuff around the web as a result. But it’s also a little weird. It is supposed to be this “social networking” thing, but it really isn’t all that social; most of the communication seems to be decidedly one-way. Just because you follow someone, it doesn’t mean they are aware of you, or, if they see you respond to something they say, that they’ll bother to acknowledge it. It’s like being an underclassman or something, hanging out on the periphery of the “cool kids” and trying to chime in on their conversations . . . only to be ignored. It’s kind of weird. I’ve exchanged a few words with some people here and there — Poppy Z. Brite is awesome — but for the most part it isn’t much more socially interactive than subscribing to websites via RSS feeds or something. I’ll keep after it. I’ve definitely spent less time looking at Facebook as a result, and will probably continue because at least Twitter doesn’t have stupid quizzes.

Music-ly Unemployed

For the first time in about 12 years, and for only the second time in something like 26 years, I am currently without a going musical concern. That’s right, I pulled the plug on Lazerwolfs. In a lot of ways it sucks — I’m actually pretty goddamn sad about it if you want to know the truth — but in others it is kind of a relief. I could probably write 5 posts just on this subject, but bottom line is it had reached a point where the amount of fun just wasn’t holding up to the headaches. As the guy booking shows, I was saying no to offers so much that I think people stopped asking, mainly due to scheduling impossibilities. Future prospects looked less favorable. I think we took it as far as we could, and it was never just a hobby for me; go hard, or don’t go at all, right? And, given that we haven’t heard from the drummer in over a month (he has no phone, no workplace to call, and didn’t respond to notes left on the door of the house he, presumably, lives in), it put the writing on the wall in bold print. So yeah, it’s a drag. But whatever. Maybe I’ll do my long-considered vanity solo album or something.

I’ve Always Wondered. . . .

Does this mean you have to pay . . . before you pre-pay . . . or . . . huh?