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Monday, September 29, 2003
Criticism For the first time in almost 3 years a new customer review has appeared on Amazon for my first book, By the Balls. Titled "Irresistible package surrounds inadequate story," this review goes on to say, "It's a meatless tribute to all things hard-boiled, featuring prose written in a spare (much too spare) style. Descriptions are sorely lacking, and the dialogue, while it talks 'tough,' is un-creative."
Actually, I love it when someone cared enough to write out my work, even when the criticism is harsh. And this guy seemed to really love the design we did for the book. But there is one line that I feel needs a comment from me: "[By the Balls] doesn't attempt real spoofery, and it certainly is not authentic."
Here's the truth. We definitely weren't trying to write a spoof, though I think this book is plenty funny. And even though Tom and I may say that we tried to create an artifact from the 1940s, we weren't really trying to create something that was "authentic," because that stuff already exists. What we were REALLY trying to do was funnel the 1940s pulp fiction through the Fassbender & Pascoe filter, which I hate to say, in some ways results in an anachronistic mess. But for me, that is totally the beauty.
This review mentioned a huge laundry list of pulp writers to check out. Check them out. Then, if you haven't already, please check out By the Balls and its follow-up Five Shots and a Funeral. Not because we belong on this long list of pulp greats. But because we belong on our own list.
Monday, September 22, 2003
Through the Funk Yes, the truth is I was in a bit of a funk last week. But this weekend Tom and I did two back-to-back book festivals, one in Santa Barbara and one in West Hollywood. And that is always good for my spirits: hanging out with my fellow authors and friends (Mike Lester is always quick with the one-liners). Although the best part of the whole weekend might have been the old lady in Santa Barbara with the greatest sweatshirt I've ever seen. Fire-engine red with yellow letters across it that said: JOHN DENVER.
Tuesday, September 16, 2003
Piano Fighter In what I can only consider a small celebration for finishing my latest Disney novelization manuscript (though I have a ton of other things to do), I spent the entire night playing piano. I can't believe I can type because my wrists are so sore. I worked on a piano arrangement for a song called "Love Interest," written by my friend, Martin Briseno. Some of you may remember my brief stint as a guest bassist in Martin's band Atomic Crowd. Those of you fortunate/unfortunate enough to catch one of the live shows will no doubt recall that "Love Interest" was the song in which I played the bass using an electric egg beater. No egg beaters were used on the piano in the current arrangement. Yet.
Sunday, September 14, 2003
Circus Okay, so HBO's new series Carnivale is just about as bad as they come. Well, maybe not -- it's not nearly as unwatchable as Mind of a Married Man. But what's sad is that after you get past all the inevitable Twin Peaks/David Lynch comparisons ... nothing is left. UglyTown authors know that I've been fond of asking recently "what's the Laura Palmer of this story?" What I mean is that whether you're doing crime fiction or not, your story has to have some kind of hook to get you going and keep you going. Twin Peaks -- with all of its strangeness -- had one of the best: Who killed Laura Palmer? That's all you need to know. Carnivale is all flash and no substance, no Laura Palmer, and easily one of the tinniest scripts I've heard in ages.
Immediately following that is K Street. And because I'm not a TV reviewer and this is not a TV review column, I have to say that I couldn't finish watching it. Not because it wasn't good -- it certainly looks way more interesting than Carnivale -- but because of the blending of reality TV with a political drama....
I don't know. Maybe I should be happy. I believe in fiction way more than I believe in "the real world," but when a candidate for President of the U.S. appears as a celebrity in a fictionalized take on the real race for the Presidency -- AS IT'S HAPPENING ... well, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Are these the people voting for Schwarzenegger? Or the people who want you to believe that he's making a circus of politics?
Friday, September 12, 2003
The Man in Black "I hear the train a comin' / It's rollin' 'round the bend / And I ain't seen the sunshine / Since, I don't know when...." Rest in peace, Johnny Cash.
Thursday, September 11, 2003
EN and KP Just received in the mail today the new CD by Einstuerzende Neubauten. It was financed entirely through the band's Web site, www.neubauten.com. I've only listened to it once, but it's brilliant. So much better than I thought it was going to be after watching the band rehearse the songs in the studio. On another note, I just finished the manuscript for my second Kim Possible adaptation for Disney Press -- ahead of schedule even. Maybe it's time to listen to that CD one more time.
Monday, September 08, 2003
Sleep well I've just returned to L.A. and I find I'm one day late in saying goodbye to one of my heroes, Warren Zevon, who passed away last night. There are other musician I both like and admire more, but none has had the same influence (for better or worse) on my songwriting than Mr. Zevon. A true underground, independent legend is gone. More than one year coming, and I'm still devestated by the news. . . .
Sunday, September 07, 2003
The blues - finale I could not be more proud of my dad. The blues festival was fantastic. and for those of you keeping score at home, here is the winner of the final night's T-shirt: "I have gone off to find myself. If I get back before I return, keep me here." I'm not sure it made a lot of sense when I wasn't drunk, but noww .. . . what the hell does THAT mean? really. I love you all. Goodnight.
Saturday, September 06, 2003
Blues & T-Shirts, pt. 2 Just when I thought my T-shirt gag would be a one-trick pony, I saw tonight's winner! While watching the amazing blues work of the greatest blues musician in PA -- Mr. Wil E. Tri -- I saw this gem: "I don't smoke crack. I lick it." Goodnight, Carnegie! (yes, it's 3am).
Thursday, September 04, 2003
Ah ... please keep in mind that my last post was recorded in West Coast time. I'm not stumbling hoime from the bar at 11:14 ... but at 2:14. Please. Give me some crecit.
Blues pt. 1 Here I am in Pittsburgh, PA for the incredible Blues festival my father -- the mayor of Carnegie, PA -- organizes. This year, I have a booth to sell UglyTown books. So far, so good. I just stumbled back (with my parents) from the bar. I can tell you that the greatest T-shirt I saw all day belonged to a young girl. It said: "Alaska is for players." How rad is that?
Tuesday, September 02, 2003
New Music by JPP I've indulged my electronica impulse and have begun working on new music. First up is a piece called "Tone Garden." Read all about it, listen to the source samples I used (created by Atom Heart), and frighten your co-workers with the mp3!
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