Saturday, August 29, 2009

Last night I was hanging around in my local Barnes & Noble, looking at books about viral marketing. Trying to get more web-savvy. Learning how to "promote my product more effectively." And as I flipped through the pages of helpful internet tips, the same thing started to happen that always happens: I could feel my eyes glaze over, my brain grow fuzzy. A deep sense of dread curdled my guts--the same dread I used to feel as a kid in school. I hated school. All I wanted to do all day was read, write, and draw (okay, and stare at girls), and they kept making me do all this other crap. It was torture, pure torture, and I couldn't wait for it to end. But it never ends!

You know what I do like, though? Good Mexican food. And there's no better place for authentic Mexican cuisine than Mexico Garibaldi, on Atwells Avenue in Providence, Rhode Island. From their delicious chips and salsas (don't miss the guacamole!) to their scrumptious chiles rellenos and delectable barbacoa de chivo (served with seasoned rice, salad, and warm corn tortillas), Mexico Garibaldi is a taste of Old Mexico--right here in the USA!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Nice--I just bought a used copy of Cormac McCarthy's novel Blood Meridian, which I'll read as soon as I finish The Three Musketeers. I've been a fan of McCarthy's work ever since I read The Crossing some years ago, and it was no surprise to me when I heard the Coen brothers were adapting his book No Country For Old Men into a movie, because they also have that pitch-black sense of humor--witness Fargo. That was why I was a bit disappointed in McCarthy's The Road, just because it was so unrelievedly somber. Come on, what's funnier than the end of the world? The idea of pushing a squeaky-wheeled shopping cart through an apocalyptic wasteland should have been painfully hilarious...not just painful. I'll be interested to see how the movie version handles it--two hours of dust and gloom is not exactly Hollywood gold. Somebody needs to remake A Boy and His Dog.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Last Comic-Con report, hopefully: was finally time for my panel discussion--Monster Mash, Room 2. This was only my second time taking part in a panel (the first being at ThrillerFest two weeks previous), and this one promised to be pretty well-attended, since one of the other authors was Amber Benson--Willow's girlfriend on Buffy the Vampire Slayer--who was promoting her novel Death's Daughter. A friend of mine had half-jokingly offered me a thousand bucks to let him impersonate me, just so he could meet Amber. The other authors on the panel were Rob Thurman (Deathwish), Alice Henderson (Voracious), and S. G. Browne (Breathers).

Climbing the stage I was a bit nervous, but attempted to act cool as I shook hands with the other panelists and poured myself a cup of water. I could see my friends Dave and Steve in the audience, giving me a thumbs-up. After that, everything was a blur. The moderator asked questions, and we on the panel attempted to answer intelligently...or at least interestingly. I know I yammered a lot about my book, trying to dispel any notion that it was misogynistic to have all the women in the world become raving monsters--Xombies--who prey on men. What I was doing, I explained, was merely turning the tables on men. Making women the brutal, dangerous sex, and men their ravished victims. It's a terrifying situation, yet not without its funny side, especially since my narrator is a young woman who must coexist on a submarine with a bunch of traumatized, paranoid guys.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

All right, time to wrap up this Comic-Con thing--I'm starting to bore myself.

Here's what I didn't like about Comic-Con: Too much shilling. Not enough just hanging out and enjoying the company of fellow nerds and nerdettes. See, when I do a book signing, I'm doing it because I get a thrill out of meeting people who share my interests--that's my primary motivation. But at this thing it seemed like so many people (and certainly all the corporate concessions) were there only to promote their latest product--which is the whole point, I know, I know, but it would be nice to at least have the illusion that there's some joy involved beyond the cash transaction. The girls in hotpants are nice, but I really just want to geek out with someone who loves talking about what they do. Maybe that's unrealistic in these difficult economic times, and people are depending on this for their living, but COME ON! If it's just about selling crap, then fuck it! No decent art was ever created solely to make money. It has to start with a vision, and someone who is willing to gamble everything on that vision. That's the part I'm interested in--the struggle, not the swag. And as a Star Wars fan, I would have loved to see a panel devoted to the original film, with as many of the actual movie crew, minor actors (Biggs? Porkins?), and props as they could dig up. I went to a horror convention a few years back where I got to meet almost everyone from George Romero's zombie films, and it was amazing how into it they all still are. I don't think the Star Wars folks realize what they're missing. For that matter, where was the booth devoted to Futurama, or Lord of the Rings, or Let the Right One In, or Alien, or Back to the Future, or Spumco, or R. Crumb, or Mad Magazine, or all the other stuff I would have loved to talk to somebody about?

Okay, that's my hippie rant for today.

Here's something I liked: There was a Ralph Bakshi booth selling actual frames from his animated movie Wizards. Ralph himself wasn't there, so I couldn't shake his hand, but I would have liked to tell him how much I loved Wizards--that movie had a powerful effect on me as a kid. With its blatant sexiness and violence, it was an antidote to the G-rated animated crap of the seventies. It took animated fantasy seriously at a time when no other cartoon would show a drop of blood, much less a nipple (and still won't, unless it's Japanese). Last thing I saw of Bakshi's was a hilarious reboot of the Mighty Mouse franchise, which was squelched for being too disturbing.

So I wandered the halls looking for these little moments of transcendence--and occasionally finding them--until it was finally time for my panel discussion. I had been stressing about this the whole time: the Monster Mash panel at three p.m. on Saturday. And it was finally here.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Comic-Con, Part Two:

That first night we didn't do much more than head down to the Con and pick up our badges. But I got my first look at the place--damn. It was a fanboy (and fangirl) fantasyland, a soaring astrodome celebrating every blip of pop-cultural nerddom since before the dawn of Superman. People were dressed up as Stormtroopers, of course, but also as characters from the Sims, replete with floating green icons over their heads. My jet-lagged brain could barely absorb it all. Fortunately the place was shutting down for the night, so my friends took me to a cheerfully rude honkeytonk called Dick's Last Resort for cold drinks, ribs, and buckets of fried catfish. Good first day.

Friday morning. I woke early and took a blissful swim in the motel pool, looking up at palm trees and hibiscus blossoms. It made me realize what I've been missing all these years, slaving away at my computer like a mindless, soulless drone. Man does not live by bread alone! On the way back to my room, I noticed a notice posted in the stairwell: WARNING! THESE PREMISES CONTAIN CHEMICALS KNOWN TO CAUSE CANCER AND BIRTH DEFECTS.

The complimentary waffles were excellent. Then Dave, Steve, Chris, and I headed out for our first full day at the Con. We didn't stay together long, because they had stuff of their own to do, and a base at which to do it: the Slave Labor Graphics booth. They had chairs and everything, while I was helplessly swept along like a pilgrim to Mecca. At first it was fun, seeing some of my favorite art and artists (the Last Gasp and Hi Fructose concessions), checking out the more outrageous costumes (butt cheeks galore), and surveying movie props at the various studio pavilions. Oh, and I met the delightful Penguin contingent, my publishers, who were very nice about me taking up half their available floorspace to babble incoherently about my book. But I couldn't bother them long; there were many other people yet to bother. Moving on, I realized I was crashing: dehydrated, jet-lagged, footsore, and carb-starved. I could barely see straight. Fighting clear of the crowd, I left the Con and caught a trolley back to the cool, quiet (and apparently toxic) refuge of my motel. A pretty girl dressed as Poison Ivy helped me find my way...or was she just a hallucination? Whatever, a little nap was all I needed, and it worked like a charm--by that evening I was back at the Con and meeting my buddies for another round at Dick's Last Resort.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Comic-Con. What is there to say? It was massive. Mammoth. I've been to the one in New York, but that didn't prepare me for the insanity of this thing in San Diego. But I think I had fun...or maybe I was just giddy with exhaustion. Four days is a long time to be fighting crowds, even if they're crowds of women dressed as sexy anime characters.

I didn't get off to a great start. My first mistake was trying to walk to my hotel from the airport (on the map it looked so close!), then, once I arrived, I had to work out sleeping arrangements with my friends, comic auteurs Dave Ray and Steve Ahlquist, who had arrived on an earlier flight. Since there were only two beds (one of them an excruciating convertable couch), every night was a game of musical chairs to see who got the floor. The fourth member of our party, Chris Reilly, wisely avoided the entire issue by taking a whole room for himself. But it wasn't all bad: the hotel did have a pool, and a very nice breakfast buffet (with a do-it-yourself waffle iron--waffles!), and convenient access to a trolley that would take us to the Con every day. Let the fun begin!