Friday, August 24, 2007

Vacation and a Contest
Win an Audiobook of THE MARK

In a few hours I'll be on a plane to Moscow, so in the interim there will be a new contest, beginning today, and ending Sunday, September 2nd. The winner will receive an audiobook of THE MARK (you must have iTunes or Audible). You can hear an excerpt from the audiobook on iTunes or on here.

To enter, simply post a comment in the blog with the title and author of a book that literally made you laugh out loud while reading it.

See you on the 2nd!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Greatest. Band Name. Ever.

Gym Class Heroes.

I'm in awe. That's a seriously awesome band name.

Monday, August 20, 2007

"Entourage": Risen From the Ashes, or Going up in Flames?

When "Entourage" first premiered, I became a full-fledged fan pretty quickly. It had a good premise, with the kind of cast that seemed so ingrained in their characters that you simply assumed they were like that in real life. Casting Kevin "Brother of Matt" Dillon as a washed-up, former B-list celebrity living in his bro's shadow was brilliantly ironic, as was the casting of consistently underrated Jeremy Piven as uber-agent Ari Gold, a guy always a hair away from going nuclear on some poor junior agent. The plots had minimal conflict but were always fun, and offered enough authentic-sounding Hollywood dope that you felt cool watching it. It featured tons of cool celebrity cameos (James Cameron, Jessica Alba, Martin Landau, Jimmy Kimmel, Scarlett Johanssen, the hilariously spacy Gary Busey), and even though the show was as deep as Lloyd's computer screen, it was always an enjoyable half hour.

This season, everything changed. Ari Gold, fired at the end of last season after costing Vince the Ramones biopic, was brought back into the fold after just three tension-free episodes in which Vince hired, slept with, then fired his new agent who didn't "respect" his love for Medellin. Fine. Ari was better with Vince anyway. Then after a promising start to the second part of the season--a neat documentary-style episode revolving around the near catastrophic filming of Medellin--everything fell apart. "Entourage" began to commit the cardinal sin of serial television shows. It would introduce a plot, spend an entire episode setting up a conflict, only to have that conflict forgotten about the next week. "The Sopranos" fell victim to that several times, but thankfully pulled its act together when it mattered. For a show to work, the episodes must be completely self-contained (Seinfeld, Law & Order), or have consistent long-term story arcs (Sopranos, Friends). Entourage wants both. It wants the freedom of beginning every epsiode fresh, but also wants to create conflict and familiarity over long stretches. Doesn't work that way. Viewers feel jerked around. The second we start to care about a story, it ends with no explanation. When we get emotionally invested in a character, they're dropped for no reason.

This season on Entourage we've seen 20 minutes of Turtle pursuing Rufus's daughter (apparently the only two black people in Hollywood, BTW). Then it's never mentioned again. Sloan--the only female on the show who isn't either a foul-mouthed bitch (Mrs. Ari, Shauna, Dana Gordon) or a complete nymphomaniac (everyone else)--is dumped by Eric simply because the producers didn't seem to want to bother with her. Of course not before having her participate in a gratuitous threesome in an arc that went nowhere. Johnny's successful t.v. show? We hear it's a success, get a few episodes with Edwards Burns, and of course, it's barely mentioned again. They begin a Medellin arc in which lunatic director Billy Walsh (a bright spot, in that his character actually has more than one dimension), after a falling out with Eric, is hired to direct Vince in another movie, an adaptation of a bestselling book. Once that arc is presented, it's promptly forgotten about.

Every episode had the exact same structure. Eric and Vince split up to do "business things," Turtle and Drama pair up and get into "wacky" adventures, usually ending with Drama being humiliated or, worse, being rectally "examined" by a fat woman. Ari, at his best when dealing with pompous movie execs and vapid stars, is resigned to literally begging a headmaster to allow his kid into grade school. And we're sitting there wondering: what happened to Medellin after the trailer buzz? Does Drama still actually work? Do we really need another episode where Eric has meaningless sex with a model just to spite an ex-girlfriend? I used to be able to justify the show's vapidity and mysogeny because it was genuinely entertaining. Recently, though, I've been sitting there embarrased while Drama screws a random bimbo while wearing a bunny outfit.

Yet the last few episodes reminded me why I enjoyed the show in the first place. They eschewed the stupid Turtle/Drama "comedic" duo and concentrated on the good stuff. I.e. Vince trying to make it big while showing the acting range of a kumquat, Eric getting in over his head in dealing with Ari, and Ari working himself into a frenzy to save Vince's career, deal with the loose cannon Walsh, and greenlight a completely different movie after the mountain climbing one falls apart (ok, so no studio in the world would presumably greenlight a movie that quickly, but what the hell, it was entertaining). That's what we need. More Ari. More Billy Walsh. More Eric aspiring to be more than Vince's manager. Less Turtle and Drama scheming to get free weed and trucker hats.

Two weeks ago I was about to write this show off. Now, I'm giving it a stay of execution. Let's see if the boys have really turned over a new leaf, or if we're in store for more episodes where the mayor chases transvestites.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Hee Hee

From DJ Gallo's hilarious fake "NFL News and Notes" column on

Washington Redskins
Players who have finished reading Al Saunders' 700-page playbook were shocked to discover that Harry Potter dies at the end.

Friday, August 17, 2007

If This Doesn't Perfectly Sum Up the Sad State of American Popular Culture...

From USAToday

Fox will give American Idol host Ryan Seacrest the chance to do the seemingly impossible: Appear on a show that, at times, can draw even bigger audiences than the all-powerful Idol: Fox's Super Bowl pregame show.

Fox Sports Chairman David Hill says there's a rationale in using Seacrest that goes beyond using the Super Bowl to cross-promote Fox's biggest hit. "I see Ryan as a latter-day Dick Clark, who was a conduit through which America viewed pop culture," says Hill. "He's on his way toward assuming Dick Clark's mantle."

Said Seacrest, in a statement: "This will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of my career. Seacrest, out."

Hill suggests, "more and more celebrities are showing up at Super Bowls, and they're being ignored."

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

South Carolina Inmate Hits Michael Vick With '$63,000,000,000 Billion Dollar' Lawsuit Alleging Al Qaeda Ties

Ok, if Michael Vick is guilty of those dogfighting charges, I hope he's penalized to the full extent of the law. But if he has to spend a dime fighting this "charge" then there's something seriously screwed up with our legal system. Check out this lawsuit, which also alleges Vick bought missiles from Iran(!) here.

Make sure to read the actual complaint. Greatest. Lawsuit. Ever.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

New Interview

I was interviewed recently by XM radio's Josephine Reed, which can now be downloaded for free at Check it out here.

This was my first radio interview, so hopefully I didn't come off like too much of a goober.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Nothing New Today... I thought I'd post another GWP (Gratuitous Wilson Photo). This pic was taken the day we first met our little monster back in January. He was about 10 weeks old in this shot. We knew Wilson was the perfect dog for us because as soon as the breeder put him down, he waddled into a corner and pooped. The rest, as they say, is history.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Dick Cheney '94: Invading Baghdad Would Create Quagmire

Damn that foresight.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Book Review Sections Are Being Cut Back For This???

From today's New York Times review of "Rush Hour 3":

There’s nothing new about any of this, yet it does bear repeating every so often, even in a movie review. Like a lot of big-ticket productions “Rush Hour 3” will flood into theaters this weekend (gobbling up more than 3,700 of the nation’s approximately 38,000 screens) and, because of its ubiquity and its brawny advertising muscle, will pull in a sizable chunk of change. Bad reviews won’t make a lick of difference to its box office, though franchise fatigue might.

The NYT is right. Reviews--good, bad, indifferent--will likely not cause any sort of difference in how "Rush Hour 3" performs. Only the individual moviegoer will decide if they've had enough of Tucker/Chan, or are up for another helping of gruel. So basically newspapers across the country will be devoting thousands of words and dozens of inches of column space to a "story" that will likely have no effect whatsoever. If there was a ratio of "words spent" to "influence," reviewing this movie would have to rank among the all-time lowest.

I'm not a fan of the "Rush Hour" movies, but I don't argue against their being made. They've grossed a bajillion dollars, so obviously a bunch of people out there like it. But all those words devoted to, basically, hot air? Wouldn't that space be better spent, you know, making a difference? Reviewing a book that might not otherwise get attention it deserves? Nope. We must blanket the earth with professional opinions of a Brett Ratner 'film'.

Because lord knows if we didn't, people might just not know about the darn thing.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Final Cover Art for THE GUILTY

...will not be seen today. BUT I will be showing the final art for the second Henry Parker novel exclusively to people on my mailing list. Naturally I will be posting the cover here at a later date, but come on, do you really want to be the kind of person who drinks the week old milk? Or buys a Playstation 2 when the PS3 is out? Or still wears Tommy Hilfiger jeans? (you catch my draft)

Anyway head on over to and sign up for my mailing list, and be one of the first kids on the block to see the ultra cool cover art for THE GUILTY. Seriously, it rocks the Casbah. In the meantime, here's a small piece of the puzzle...

Monday, August 06, 2007

Bourne Ultimatum Review

I was surprised how much I liked 2002's "The Bourne Identity," and even more surprised with how much I loved 2004's "The Bourne Supremacy." The first movie was smart, had a top-notch supporting cast, and seemed to value the intelligence of its audience. The second movie was simply awesome, taking the best aspects of the first movie and injecting them with nitroglycerine.

So needless to say I was pumped for this summer's B3. In the end I liked it. A lot. More than the first Bourne, slightly less than the second. Yet while the action scenes were actually better than "Supremacy" (the Tangiers rooftop chase and New York car pileup in particular), if you take away the stellar direction of Paul Greengrass, the all-star supporting cast (freaking Albert Finney!) and terrific music (I downloaded the symphony score from "Bourne Supremacy"--it's that good), "The Bourne Ultimatum" is a pretty standard thriller, complete with standard plot, tough-guy dialogue, and even the old favorite CIA status room where tech monkeys stare at computers and yell things like, "He's not on the grid!"

The first smart thing the Bourne series did was cast good actors all across the board (Joan Allen, Chris Cooper, Clive Owen, Franka Potente, Brian Cox). The second was hire good directors (Doug Liman, Paul Greengrass). The third was resisting the urge to plug in a soundtrack full of whatever Top-40 junk was hot that summer, and instead allowed John Powell to create a haunting and memorable score. The "Bourne 3" script is a 'C' at best, but every other detail about it is an A-plus.

Allen brings humanity and reluctant skepticism to recurring spook Pamela Landy. We learn that Julia Stiles's Nikki Parsons might actually be more than someone who looks 20 years too young to be in this series. And David Strathairn, so brilliant in "Good Night, and Good Luck", does his best to bring gravitas to lines like, "Let's move, people!" Because he's hamstrung by the dialogue, Strathairn never achieves the same level of menace Brian Cox brought to the bad guy role in "Supremacy," which had the killer action scenes but with also a deeper, more thoughtful story.

As for Bourne himself, I liked Damon's performance in B2 a little more. He's still good here, but in the last movie Bourne felt more caged, more human, more vulnerable. When he got punched we felt it, when he got shot at we held our breath. In B3 Bourne joins Bruce Willis's John McClane in the arena of "action heroes who used to be human, but can now get hit with a rocket launcher and walk away with barely an ankle sprain."

So in the end, as far as action movies go, B3 is good. Even very good. Yet beneath the stellar trimmings lies kind of an ordinary spy thriller. But hey, I'd rather have a A-plus action and A acting with a C-minus script than a bunch of B-minuses across the board.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Win a Copy of THE MARK

Alison Kent is running a contest on her blog in which the two winners will receive copies of THE MARK, one of which I will sign and personalize and even inscribe with a funny picture or haiku if the winner so desires.

Head on over to Alison's blog to enter!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

What Books Are You Looking Forward To?

Well summer is winding down, our days spent on the beach are dwindling, and the weather will soon go from "unbearably hot" to "when the hell do they turn the heat on in this building?"

The good news is that there are tons of great books scheduled to be released over the next few months. I'm curious to know what books you're looking forward to the most. I'll kick things off.

THE SHOTGUN RULE by Charlie Huston

In the absence of new Dennis Lehane novels, Charlie Huston has become my favorite contemporary crime writer. His Hank Thompson trilogy was pure, vicious brilliance, and his Joe Pitt series has ushered in a new genre of Vamp-Noir. Nobody writes the kind of violent, funny, and ultimately heart-wrenching books like Huston does. And he gets better every time he steps to the plate.

THE SHOTGUN RULE is Huston's first standalone novel, which already puts it at the top of my TBR pile, but add in the spectacular early reviews and I'm literally counting the days until it hits stores.

You have no idea the restraint I exhibited by not picking up a galley of THE SHOTGUN RULE at ThrillerFest, simply because I thought it only fair I plunk down my $21.95 and give Charlie some much-deserved royalties. Hell, they could charge $50 for this baby and I'll still be there when the bookstore opens on August 28th.

So count me in for THE SHOTGUN RULE. What upcoming books are you looking forward to reading?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Book Signing Tonight

I'll be signing copies of THE MARK at the Barnes & Noble in Greenwich Village tonight. Details are below.

Wednesday, August 1st
Barnes & Noble
396 Avenue of the Americas (at 8th street)
New York, NY
7:30 pm

Come or Wilson will eat you.
Speaking of Wilson, he makes his GalleyCat debut today. FYI, Wilson does not yet have either film or literary representation. Just putting it out there.