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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Spring? Spring!

Okay, it's been a while getting here, but I have good reason to believe that sring may finally be just around the corner..

The above photo is of the crocuses I planted in September--I put in dozens of them:

I love how they bloom right there in the snow. They're like, "Screw you, winter."

They were supposed to be a mix of colors--white, yellow and purple. All the evidence so far points to their being only yellow, but whatever. I'll take what I can get, at this point.

Above are a couple of tulips, which are sprouting at an alarming rate along the front of the house. This is great, especially as we face north and so get virtually no direct sunshine along there. I was afraid I had planted in vain, but... so far so good. Also, there are daffodils mixed in there. Maybe they're the red things sprouting in back? I'm not sure. Not a huge fan of daffodils, myself, but supposedly they prevent the squirrels from eating the bulbs.

I also put in a few along the sunny edge of our parking spot:

With any luck, these will bloom just fine.

So: winter is in retreat, spring is on its way, but will we have flowers? Stay tuned.

Friday, March 29, 2013

My first couple of contributions over at Spectrum Culture

Spectrum Culture is a lively web site covering music, movies, books and--hey presto!--food, and I've been invited to contribute. Being congenitally unable to say no, I have signed on to write some graphic novel reviews (ie, comics) and will also drop the occasional record review as well.

My first two contrbutions went up last week and this, the first being a review of the the new Black Rebel Motorcycle Club album, and the seconf being my contribution to the site's Monthly Mixtape, in which writers say a few words about recent songs that they think deserve some attention. I dug up a live version of Red Baraat's "Shruggy Ji," but all the tunes on the list have soem merit, and I invite you the check 'em out. (Red Baraat shows up on page 3 of the list, btw.)

There's a lot going on on this site, so bookmark it and check back once in a while. Right now new content seems to go up every Friday, but I have a feeling that schedule is going to start accelerating soon...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Don't Open That Door! #35: Teenagers From Outer Space

Ohhh, this is a good one, kids! The latest entry into my ongoing PopMatters column, Don't Open That Door!, is a little 1959 quasi-masterpiece entitled Teenagers From Outer Space. I can hear you asking right now: "Wait--you mean there are other kinds?"

The movie features teenagers from--wait for it--outer space, who land on earth intending to take over the place for, um, some reason that I can't remember right now but I'm sure seems very importnt to them. There's a flying saucer and death-ray guns and giant lobster-like monsters and all manner of mayhem. But that's not the weirdest thing about the movie. The weirdest thing is this:

Against all odds, this movie doesn't totally suck.

Here's the first paragraph of the column:

"A flying saucer arrives on Earth carrying a load of teenagers with names like Thor and Derek, plus their lantern-jawed captain, who appears related to Ed O’Neill of Married With Children. These interplantary white supremacists (there is much talk of “our supreme race”) decide that Earth is a perfect grazing ground for their herds of giant, flesh-eating Gargons, and the presence of human beings is of little concern. Only sensitive Derek, who busily reads from a forbidden book of Pablo Neruda poems in his spare time, has qualms. He’s quickly outvoted, so he runs off from his heartless companions, one of whom is dispatched to catch him while the others return to their home planet to pick up the Gargon fleet and conduct it to Earth. The race is on."

And things just go downhill from there.

Do me a favor and trot over to the column and check it out. The more hits the page gets, the better for me. And then click on the Facebook Like button and/or the Tweet button and send this little masterpieces out into the internetosphere, or whatever we're calling it these days. The more hits and the more popularity, the longer they'll let me continue with this column, which is something I enjoy a great deal. Thanks.

Next week it's The Deadly Mantis, another favorite from years gone by. Be sure to check that one out, too...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pretty much done with winter. Right?

So, last weekend my tulips and daffodils and crocuses began poking their noses up out of the cold heart ground, and I found myself fluched with enthusiasm for, y'know, spring and life and renewal and color and all that. Then on Monday night it snowed, a lot, and it kept up on Tuesday. We got the better part ofn eight inches, and I'm officially Pretty Sick of Winter. Then I did my taxes yesterday, and believe me that didn't make me Any Less Sick.

So what's a guy to do to keep his spirits alive? Well, I reviewed the excellent Mars Attacks book for Spectrum Media, and it should be up online in a week or ten days. And I've been gulping down previews for season 3 of Game of Thrones like there's no tomorrow. Lame, I know. But helpful nonetheless. As I've said more than once on this blog, it's the best. Show. Ever.

If and when any surviving crocuses/tulips dare to raise their heads above ground, I promise I'll let you know. The way this winter is dragging, I'm thinking May. Mid-May. Or maybe June.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Spectrum Culture blog is well worth a look (and I'll soon be writing for it)

Take a look at this nifty web site, Spectrum Culture, which a small but mighty site dedicated to books, movies, music and food. I have been invited to write for it, and I will be doing so, concentrating mainly on comics and maybe a little music from time to time.

This will of course not interfere with my PopMatters writing in any way, especially my ongoing column, Don't Open That Door!. I have way too much fun writing all that stuff, and it will remain my first priority. (After my own books, of course.)

Nothing there that I've written as of yet, but there are some good reviews and plenty of fun features, so stop by and check it out...

Sunday, March 10, 2013

AWP 2013 was a party and a half

I had never been to AWP before, and I have still never been to the MLA conference, so I really didn't know what to expect. But the Bookfair part of AWP, at least, was hugely fun and a little bit overwhelming.

I signed books for an hour, along with some fellow Red Hen Press writers, and got the chance to shmooze with a few peole who were genuinely interested in what I do. This was gratifying to say the least. I also met with tons of Red Hen press people, who were without exception enthusiastic and vociferous in their love of books in general and An Age of Madness in particular. So that was mighty exciting also.

Sorry about the blurry pics. It was indoors and these shots were taken with a phone (thanks Uzee!). Plus, y'know, I'm sort of jittery and dont stand still much.

More important is Red Hen's unique take on book promotion, to wit:

That's right, it's a candy bar. The David Maine An Age of Madness candy bar to be exact. Buy a book, get a candy bar. Red Hen does this for every new release and I have to say, it's a stoke of genius. And also tasty. And also popular. how popular? Well, I got the last one, so there you go.

Plus as a SPECIAL BONUS for making the trip to Boston, I was able to meet up afterward with the lovely and rather frighteningly brilliant Fizzah Sajjad, a former student of mine (from 10th grade!) who is now a Fulbright scholar getting her Master's at MIT. Holy shit. There was a time, once, when I could say with confidence that I knew more things than this person, but those days have long since passed.

It's been eleven years since we'd last met, so it was quite the reunion. Fizzah joined me, Uzee, and Uzee's editor, the lovely and talented Hilary from Clockroot Books, for lunch at a Greek place in Boston near Newbury Street. (See photo below, in which we are toasting our day with empty water glasses. This was my idea and it made sense at the time.) We then strolled Newbury Street to the quite awesome Trident Bookstore, which besides selling books also has a pretty killer restaurant offering a quite tasty (ahem) apple cobbler. A fine time was had by all, trust me. No pics of the cobbler, unfortunately. But I highly recommend the shop.

So, a great big SHOUT OUT to Red Hen Press for being such a great publisher with such a lively stable of talented and compelling authors, and also for takign the time to ask me to appear at AWP. It was, frankly, loads more fun than I had anticipated (much less stuffy and "academic" than I'd feared).

And I haven't even mentioned Traveling Marla -- but will do so soon. Promise.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Off to AWP in 20 minutes!

Hey, it's Saturday, which means the Bookfair part of the conference is free to the public! So go take a look, and stop by to say hi.

It's a beautiful cloudless day here in western Mass., and I believe Boston is the same. It's a terrific day to get out of the house and work off some of that cabin fever. Hynes Center in Boston (Copley Square next to the Sheraton, on Boylston Street). I'm signing books from 12:30 to 1:30 at Booth 304.

See you there... And if not, I'll try to put some pictures up tomorrow, provided my camera behaves.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Another blogger says nice things about me & my book. Shucks.

Take a gander at the wryly-titled blog In Which Our Hero, which ran this very nice review of An Age of Madness back in February but which I only noticed yesterday.

Obviously a discerning reader possessed of fine critical taste, the elusive "Keith," who is reputed to be a librarian in Los Angeles, has many fine things to say about the book. To wit:

"Maine's characters are the novel's strong suit. Regina has a sharp and distinctive voice, and Maine's not afraid to let her be unlikable. The principal supporting characters, Anna and Russell ... are equally well drawn, and Maine is very good at letting us see them through Regina's eyes in ways that let us understand how that view might be distorting things."

Told you he was discerning...

In all seriousness, a big thanks to Keith out there in LA for taking the time to read the book and write up something about it. It's much appreciated!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Hindu (Indian newspaper) loves Thinner Than Skin

Here's link to a terrific interview/review with Uzee in The Hindu, one of India's biggest newspapers, as she talkes about Thinner Than Skin, the writing process in general, and a whole pile of other stuff:

A vivid contouring of politics, geography, relationships and “fragments that never extended far enough into history books but lingered in the air”, of vastness and intimacy, [Thinner Than] Skin is a story of lovers, exiles, dreamers, wanderers, set flush with a backdrop that’s as mythic as it is spectacular: Pakistan’s Kaghan Valley, the Karakoram and Pamir Mountains, forests of deodar and pine watched by owls, rivers and lakes born of “mating of glaciers” and violence of wind-blown rumour. Destinies as sinuous, entwined and varied as the ancient trading routes along the Silk Road fill out Skin, perspectives shape-shift like snowmelt in mountainous passes where “China encroaches and Pakistanis, Uzbeks, Russians, Chinese, and Afghans all come together to trade”. Inhabiting this world, Skin dwells on dispossession, the rent in silken connections, the drift when love is “like a Pakistani glacier. It was difficult to say if it was growing or retreating”.

It's quite a long article and there's a lot more to it, so take a look. Oh and the book is great too, if you haven't checked it out already.

IN OTHER NEWS: Just three days till AWP in Boston. I'll be there at the Red Hen Booth from 12:30 to 1:30pm on Saturday afternoon, so stop by and say howdy if you're near the Hynes Convention Center.