Monthly Archive: September 2009

New Video

It’s appropriate that I post this week’s video today, since last night I went out for drinks with the annoyingly talented Sean Ferrell and my uber-Agent. We writers managed to drink Janet under the table, which is no small feat, and while I am a bit, um, slow this morning, it was a fine evening at a great bar (The Old Town Bar on 18th street in Manhattan – one of my faves).

Naturally, a video concerning the uses of booze in writing and how to survive seems appropriate today. I have much lore about booze to share. Why keep it to myself? So, without further ado, here’s the new video:

Enjoy. Please drink responsibly, which involves inviting me along and paying my tab.

Flash Forward

Ah, the stench of missed opportunities. I was on my own last night, with no Duchess in sight, and thus was not forced to watch Grey’s Anatomy. So I decided to take in Flash Forward on ABC, on the premise that a) it at least wasn’t yet another medical/lawyer/cop drama, and b) it’s at least somewhat SF-ish.

Now, I’ve never read the source material, so I can’t comment on that. From what I understand, the TV series is quite different from it, which is probably a good thing. Because the premiere episode of Flash Forward was kinda disappointing. As in, dull to the extreme.


The Futility of Writing

Ah, another week, another video. I’m having far too much fun with these. This week, we’re discussing the futility of your artistic and financial literary dreams:

As always, tell the world and let me know if you have any comments as feedback is always appreciated!

Pop Culture

Friends, I’ve spent far too much time this week a) reading and b) watching the MTV VMAs. As Tv Tropes put me in the frame of mind to overanalyze everything, what struck me about the VMAs was how drastically the pop culture world has shifted in my lifetime, and, hell, within the last few years. I mean, most of the people who attended the 1999 VMAs weren’t at this year’s, weren’t even mentioned, and are possibly entirely unknown to kids starting High School this year. I mean, here’s a short list of performers/presenters:

Kid Rock, Aerosmith, Run-DMC, Lauryn Hill, Backstreet Boys, Ricky Martin, Nine Inch Nails, TLC, Fatboy Slim, Amil & Jay-Z, *NSYNC, Britney Spears, Eminem, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Korn, Garbage, Marilyn Manson, Lil’ Kim

Now, some of those folks still have hot careers, some are dead, and some are still plodding along, but very few of them are still part of the bubbling pop culture conversation. It’s amazing, really, to think what a difference 10 years makes.

So I was going to write a post about how pop culture references affect and date writing, but then I realized I wrote that eassay five thousand years ago in my zine The Inner Swine. So I’ll just reprint it here, slightly revised (very slightly):

How Many Simpsons References Can I String Together in One Essay, Anyway?

Pop Culture in Fiction

by Jeff Somers

FANS, I don’t claim to know much of anything at all. I know a few things: I know that Warren Spahn is the winningnest lefthanded pitcher in Major League Baseball history. I know that Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle states that one cannot simultaneously know both the position and the momentum of a given object to arbitrary precision. I know that irony is a form of speech in which the real meaning is concealed or contradicted by the words used. I know how to tie a Square Knot. I can write a Hello World program in BASIC. I know what a Fnord is. See, I know a few things, but nothing, really, of any importance, and nothing, really, that would convince you that I am qualified in any way to write intelligently about Serious Writing Topics. The fact that I’ve published a few literary gems doesn’t mean much, if you consider some of the crap that gets published these days—not just published, but the crap that wins awards. I don’t have any advanced degrees and I’ve rarely won an argument, usually descending to physical threats after about five minutes of stuttering impotence; I haven’t published any scholarly papers on the subject of writing and I’m not making millions through my art. So, there’s really no reason to pay any attention to me, is there? On this subject, I mean. If you need an essay on why a six-pack is good breakfast fare, I’m your man.


Interview with ME! ME ME ME!

The good folks over at Rescued by Nerds carried through on their terrorist threat and have posted an interview with me:

“In those five minutes, however, Avery sang a haunting ballad about life being hard for honest assassins. It’s too bad you won’t hear it. It was very moving.”

Surf on over and make some snarky comments. First person to make Jeff the Preparer cry with their snark gets a prize. Said prize may not be something you actually want, though.

Your Mortal Ways Booooore Me

Friends, it probably isn’t a well known fact that my gorgeous wife, The Duchess, who secretly (or not so secretly) runs this household forces me to watch the MTV Video Music Awards show every year. The reasons for this are tied up in obscure traditions established during our courtship, when apparently I was willing to do a lot of things in order to impress her that I now regret, once of which was volunteering to watch the VMAs with her one night. One thing all young men have to realize is that when you’re dating, the most ridiculous things can become bronzed as Special Moments that will come back to ruin you later in life. The VMAs is one such moment. So was promising her that someday I’d be a rich author and she’d be a Woman of Leisure; take my advice and never promise anything like that to your partner. You will regret it.

So, I sat through most of the VMAs this week. Which means I got to stare blankly at the screen in perplexity every time Russell Brand prosecuted some of his ‘comedy’, I got to be mildly impressed with Janet Jackson huffing and puffing her way through her old Scream dance routine (and almost pull it off perfectly, which in itself was pretty impressive), and yes, I got to see Kanye West finally turn the tide of jackass opinion against himself. Although, you know, Taylor Swift should maybe man up a little. It’s not like she was stabbed.

Anyway, I also got to see the extended New Moon trailer. I’ve never read the Twilight books and I did not see the first film. I’ve got nothing against them. I’m told they are not great books, but then I guess your mileage will vary on books, especially books that come with a built-in backlash like Twilight. So I only took two things from the New Moon trailer:

  • Kristen Stewart must have studied every episode of ER in order to approximate the George Clooney Circa 1999 Acting Style of looking at your shoes and frowning when you speak every line of dialog, and
  • Elder Vampires?!? Sweet baby Jebus, Anne Rice has struck again.

Why is it that every Vampire story has to have ancient, vaguely rotten-looking vampires in ridiculous outfits, lounging about in ridiculously luxurious and/or old settings like Eurotrash on smack? Now, this was a pretty fun idea 40 years ago. And it can, of course, be a fun idea again and again if handled well. But it does seem like it’s the go-to trope whenever you’ve got vampires. Somewhere, there must be a 1000-year-old debauched rich dude with long fingernails who THE MOST POWERFUL VAMPIRE IN THE WOOORRRLLDDD.

Again, not having read the book or seen the movies, I am basing this on the trailer alone. Which is how I roll: Ignorant and fearless. So maybe I’ve got New Moon all wrong and it averts or subverts this trope. It’s still a pretty common feature in vampire tales, as far as I can tell. And again: It’s not a bad idea in and of itself, though I can’t help but wonder if I’m the only one who rolls his eyes whenever someone in a vaguely 17th-century suit shows up looking dapper and menacing, dropping gradeschool historical references – gasp! – as if he was there witnessing them at the time!!

Obviously, vampires are immortal – or at least, traditionally they are; we are dealing with the imagination, after all. We can has mortal vampires if we wants ’em. But okay, so say your vamps are immortal – fine. One can imagine they might play the stock markets well, steal priceless art and fence it, profit from wars and such. If I knew I’d still be here 400 years from now, I could just tuck my savings account into a slow but steady investment and wait for it to top a trillion or so, patient as a spider. So okay, having rich, ancient vampires who have great power and influence isn’t a crazy idea at all. But must they always be collected into some sort of Vampire Council? Jebus, vamps suck blood and murder humans who used to be their fellow houseapes. A VC just seems a bit. . .civilized.

Then again, most of the body horror dread has been sucked out of Vampires, to the point where they are now acceptable crushes for pre-teen girls. So maybe they form clubs and scrapbook together – why not a council?

Eternal Prison Review

And lo! A review of The Eternal Prison over at Rescued by Nerds:

“It’s a dark path that should be really interesting to read. If you are a fan of Richard Morgan, David Williams or David Gunn then Jeff is right up your alley.”

They also did a little interview with Your Humble Author that’ll be up in a day or so; I’ll let y’all know when.

Everything Sucks

Well, I downloaded OpenShot for Linux the other day, and it’s a pretty nifty MovieMaker-type app. Naturally, with a new video application I had to actually make another video. So, I hereby present the new ridiculousness: Everything Sucks, a rumination on how no matter how wonderful your book is, someone somewhere hates it:

Enjoy! Although, based on what I just said, some of you probably won’t. You bastards.