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Thursday, February 25, 2010


...Actually, I don't know if I ever was.

But now I am definitely not, as Farmington's own ERIN PAC has won a bronze medal in bobsled at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Here's a link to her official page. Please note her hometown:

And a slideshow gallery (no video? Boo hiss!):

So, I'd never heard of Erin before last night, but I like to think I probably went to high school with her mom or something. Hey it's a long shot, but whatever gets me rubbing elbows with fame, man.

Congratulations, Erin, and you too, co-pilot Alana. That's some sled you've got there.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Some comics I'm reading these days


Not much time to chat today, as I'm drowning under a flood tide of freshman comp papers (oy), but I thought I'd toss up a few covers to some comics I've been reading these days. Not much common ground here, maybe, although four of the five titles are published by Vertigo (all except for Viking), and they are all, I supposed, targeted to "mature readers," which means some swearing and violence. All are available at you local neighborhood comic shop, and they're all worth a look, in my opinion, if you like stories wit' pitchers, as I do. All these books have also been collected into bound volumes containing several installments each, so you can sample them and get a sense of whether it's the kind of thing you want to come back to every month.
The Unwritten - an odd story about a character form a series of children's books (think Harry Potter) who has, apparently, come into reality in this world. But things get interesting as the author explores the idea that fictional worlds a.) have their own physical realities, and b.) can collide with our own. Oh and there's a vampire.

Greek Street - modern-day retelling of the Greek myths--Oedipus, Madea and all the rest--transported to modern-day London's red light district. Lots of nudity, sex and violence, which is to say, it's pretty faithful to the source material.

Northlanders - fairly low-brow comic about Vikings, or at least Norsemen, or at least people who lived in cold places. A series of loosely-connected vignettes of anywhere from one to eight issues apiece, following various characters and their stories from roughly AD 950-1050. The surrent storyline is set in Siberia, but check out the two-parter "The Shield Maidens" for some killer artwork.

Madame Xanadu - modern-day witch/priestess located in Greenwich Village dabbles in the occult and tries to help people out. Hilarity ensues. MX used to hang with King Arthur, and her horrid sister is Morgana le Fay, so there's all that going on too, fairies and so forth. It's less dumb than it sounds.

Viking - possibly the dumbest book on this list, but it's Vikings, what do you expect? Nicely oversized, with killer painted art, the story is fairly incomprhensible--I'm pretty sure there's a feud, and somebody makes some bad choices and a lot of people get whacked. Beyond that I'm pretty much lost, but the art makes up for a lot. Did I mention it's about Vikings?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Greatest band in the World.

A little overdue here, as I've been listening to them for maybe three years. But anyway here they are. TINARIWEN. Look 'em up. New record out is great, as are all their albums.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Na'vi protesters storm the Wesk Bank

I guess the Avatar hype really has gone global. Protestors in Palestine, who march every week against the continued presence and expansion of the Israeli-built (and USA-funded) wall that divides their territory into ever-smaller pieces, dressed up as Na'vi, the aliens from James Cameron's epic.

Pretty clever, considering the movie's indigenous-rights subtext and it anti-militaristic POV.

Plus, just seeing a blue space alien with a tail holding a Palestinian flag pretty much makes my day...
Here's a link to the other pictures:

Rock and Roll Will Never Die...

...not even in Lahore. You can't say they aren't trying to kill it, though.

I don't know this Basim guy, but the writer he mentions, Michael Muhammad Knight, is the writer of this seriously strange book, which I reviewed for Dawn last year:

It's worth a look, especially for anyone more interested in the weird fringes of things than the well-trodden middle ground.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Our books are back.

I guess I can stop boycotting Amazon now.

For now.

Hey, that was relatively quick... I wonder how long before the next bit of stupidity?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Well worth reading

I've heard of this guy, never read his stuff, but he's a Macmillan author with an interesting view on the Amazon debacle. Also very much worth reading are the comments.


As of today, my books and Uzee’s Trespassing are still not on . Neither are the other Macmillan authors.

I am asking anyone who cares about authors to boycott Amazon. There are some people (see the previous post) who think this misses the point, and maybe it does, but fuck it, Amazon is boycotting me.

Meanwhile, here's an open letter to Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.

Dear Mr. Bezos,

You don’t know who I am, so allow me to tell you: I’m a writer whose books you are currently refusing to sell. This will not significantly harm my publisher, St Martin’s; nor will it benefit you in any meaningful way. The only consequence of note is that I will lose a few sales. As best I can understand, you are doing this out of a drive to acquire a monopoly on e-books.

Mr. Bezos, forget the monopoly. is a powerful force on the internet, and a reasonably profitable business as well. You should be satisfied with this. Take your earnings, count your money and be happy. If you get bored, you can count your money again. You have a great deal more than most people could dream of.

My publisher, Macmillan, has every right to determine a fair price for their product. That is what manufacturers do. If Amazon wishes to devalue the product—in this case, a book—by selling it below its market price, then Macmillan has the right to withhold the product from you and from anyone else who does this. They will make it available to other retailers, such as Apple, to sell at a fair price. Some time down the road, when the price drops, Amazon will then sell it for whatever you want.

Are you with me so far?

There are plenty of examples of this model already. Movies are released in theatres months before the DVDs are on sale. A DVD might cost $20 new, which is the price of just two movie tickets. If a family wants to see a movie, why would they spend $40 at the theatre when they can buy the DVD for half that? They will not (unless they’re willing to pay the extra cash to get out of the house and see the big screen). So, DVDs are held back for a few months so that the product—the movie—is not undervalued.

Do you need another example? Paperback books, which are cheaper than hardcovers, typically come out a year or so after the hardcover is released. Same idea. Let people pay more for something they get right away; otherwise, they can wait a while and pay less. Seems reasonable, doesn’t it? Consumers get to choose what they want. Fair, right?

Now let’s talk about you, Jeff. You want to sell your ridiculously overpriced and overhyped Kindle reader, but nobody will pay $300-$500 for a box they don’t need. So what do you do? You drop the prices on e-books—all of them, new, old, just-released, whatever—to $9.99 or less. You are actually losing money on every e-book you sell, but that’s okay, because you are giving people a reason to buy that electric box. This has the effect of cutting in to book sales, which hurts authors who rely on sales to get a few bucks back for their effort as opposed to the nickels and dimes they get for an e-book royalty. But you don’t care about that, because you’re after the monopoly. Over time, fewer writers will be able to be writers, because they won’t get paid, so they’ll have to work second and third jobs (many of us already are) but you don’t care about that, because you’re after the monopoly.

Macmillan took the step of saying, “Well, okay then. If you refuse to respect our pricing ladder, we won’t do business with you. We’ll release our books to places like Apple, who will sell our books for a fair price, and then, once prices drop to what what you want, we will make them available to you, too.” This is a step which, I stress, has many precedents in the arts and commerce today. See the above examples.

Your repsonse was to stop selling my books, and Uzee’s book, and many other people’s books.

You know what, Jeff? That’s stupid. That’s fucking idiotic.

Punishing authors will not make you more money, and it won’t get you that monopoly. It simply alienates the people you rely upon to make you your living. Your tidy fortune exists, Jeff, because of people like me, who create the things that you sell. Without people like me, and Uzee, and Hilary Mantel and the Rolling Stones and Black and Decker and every other artist and manufacturer whose products you retail, you would have nothing.

So here’s an idea: respect that.

I realize that talking to a peddlar about respect is like talking to the government about efficiency. But it’s the only thing I can think of that might get through. And also this: until my books are back on sale on Amazon, along with all the other Macmillan authors’ books, I will be boycotting Amazon. Uzee will too. Will anyone join me? I can only hope. Maybe it’s a forlorn hope, but maybe not. Maybe people will return some of their business to their local bookstores, which are run, often, by people who actually read and care about books.

Oh, and another thing? Yesterday I read that Amazon’s stock prizes dropped 5% since the argument with Macmillan. One might even call it “market forces.”


Dave Maine

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

You may be getting bored with all this, but it's pretty important to me

The lastest on Amazon's monopoly attempt and supposed backdown:

I'm giving them till tomorrow to start carrying my books and Uzee's, after which I'm officially requesting that people boycott Amazon and shop from B&N, Border's or--best of all--your friendly neighborhood book seller. Like this one from my hometown:

No, my books still aren't on Amazon... I guess there's nothing to do in the meantime, but have a cup of coffee. Which some people claim is good for you:

Not sure I believe this, but what the heck. It's something to do while fuming.