30 November 2007

Publishers Lunch

Here's the little blurb about my upcoming book from Publishers Lunch, the industry email where deals are announced. The first draft is finally all done and submitted so I'm looking forward to some time off before I hit the revisions. The book is due in Spring 2009. Pre-order now! Or you know, wait.
Children's: Young Adult
14 November, 2007
The Rough Guide to Blogging Jonathan Yang's untitled novel about the misadventures of a "celebutante" who decides to shake things up in her life, to Karen Chaplin at Puffin, in a two-book deal, by Stefanie Von Borstel and Lilly Ghahremani of Full Circle Literary.

26 November 2007

Hangin' Tough

My Thanksgiving was mostly spent transported back to the late 80s as Lilly introduced me to New Kids on the Block: Greatest Hits - The Videos. I don't care what you think of me after my next statement but here it is: That shit is hot. NKOTB wasn't just a boy band, they were clearly the boy band. Driving down to Lilly's in preparation for time travel, I was trying to figure out who the fifth member was.

"Danny," his name was Danny.

Some observations: It's clear that Jordan Knight is a marvel -- as was his hair -- and the greatest boy band leader of all time. Joey McIntyre had a crazy voice for a twelve year old; shame puberty didn't skip over him. Donnie Wahlberg looks increasingly out of place as the years went by. Jonathan is like an 80s version of Ross -- but with no personality -- and he consistently gets the worst outfits. I was also informed that he went out with Tiffany during this time, which discredits the gay theory. Danny is simply ridiculous (not in a good way).

Seriously though, the New Kids are good. For five white guys from Boston, they can dance, as evidenced here and here -- even if it's way dated. And damn, I'd forgotten how good some of their songs were. It all came flooding back. I've been listening to their greatest hits all weekend. Insanity.

In honor of all the joy they've brought me this holiday season, here is the dream team boy band lineup. Note, the members don't have to necessarily have been in a boy band, although most of the following have.
  1. Jordan Knight
  2. Justin Timberlake
  3. (Young) Michael Jackson
  4. Chris Brown
  5. Ricky Martin
Look over that lineup. Tell me you wouldn't pay money to see these guys. There was some talk of throwing in a member of New Edition, Color Me Badd, Boyz II Men, B2K, something like that. But all potential prospects were all eliminated for various reasons.

I had originally slotted in Usher for Chris Brown's spot but Brown's a better dancer and seems more boy band material. I'd take Usher as a replacement for Michael when MJ quits halfway through the first tour, claiming plagiarism and identity theft against everyone else.

And no, I have no idea if Ricky Martin can dance but he adds to the group's multi-ethnic appeal and I assume his experience with Menudo is a plus.

That's how my weekend went, how was yours?

25 November 2007

Lars and the Real Girl (2007)

Retarded good. While 2007's not quite over, this will probably be the movie I most enjoyed watching this year. It's absurd and really quirky but manages to fill you with true emotions -- pathos, sadness, humor. Ryan Gosling (The Believer, The Notebook) is underrated, but everyone says that so maybe he's just amazing and everyone agrees? What a difficult movie to make since it could have so easily crossed the line into farce and disaster. Go watch it before it totally disappears from theatres.

20 November 2007

Stuff I've Been Reading 1

  • Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made - David Halberstam
  • Let Me Tell You a Story: A Lifetime in the Game - Feinstein/Auerbach
  • The Princess Bride - William Goldman
  • Bookmark Now: Writing in Unreaderly Times - Kevin Smokler
  • Playing for Keeps
  • Let Me Tell You a Story
  • Firstborn (Dragonlance Elven Nations, Vol 1) - Thompson/Carter
  • Children of the Mind - Orson Scott Card
  • Black Hawk Down - Mark Bowden
  • About a Boy - Nick Hornby
Here's what I've been trying to figure out: how much should a book budget be? This past weekend I exited a bookstore with product in hand for the first time in months and it felt wonderful. The problem was, it also cost me $50 for four books -- two of which were in the bargain bin. Nowadays, that's just about a gallon of gas but still, books (especially bad ones) have a short shelf life. A fifteen dollar book will last what? Four to six hours?

I would like to set my book budget at $200 a month but when I stop to look at that number, it's the same amount as a month's worth of insurance, bills, or car payments. Let's say I make two thousand dollars a month, that figure would then represent ten-percent of my income. If I flipped that into a Roth IRA, I could be a millionaire in forty years or something.

But it's so much fun to buy books isn't it? Sure the library is cheaper and semi-convenient but the selection is never what one would like. Although I've heard that some libraries have organized themselves bookstore style, which seems like it would be pretty awesome.

The point is, how much is buying new books worth to me? Ten percent of my paycheck per month? Should I look for other (stimulating) alternatives? Netflix provides unlimited movies for a mere $20 a month; Internet is around the same; after fixed costs, a videogame is the most economically efficient form of entertainment around. So again, how much is literature worth?

My number one criteria for buying books for their retail price (in a bookstore) is re-readability. Am I likely to read this book multiple times? Then I should buy it. Also, is it a book that should be in my collection ten years from now? Auto-buy. The last kind of book I'll purchase in-store is one I just happen to stumble upon and don't have the patience to wait for it post-Amazon. These are often the dumbest buys of all time because it's like committing to a girl after the five minute meet and greet; totally hit or miss. Sometimes you have to judge a book by its cover (or blurb or title) right?

Since the basketball season's starting, I was forced to buy the Halberstam and Feinstein book just to gear me up for the Celtics' championship run ahead. Princess Bride made the cut because I've been told it's a true classic. After purchasing Bookmark Now and opening it up, I realized that the editor, Kevin Smokler, was on Lilly's pitch panel for the Ann Arbor Book Festival we attended in May. The local bookstore and my book life is starting to collide! It must mean I'll soon be a real author. Yes!

17 November 2007

Beowulf (2007)

"Are you not entertained? Is this not why you are here?"
Do yourself a favor, pony up the extra bucks and go watch this in the theatre, with dorky 3D glasses on. There's no better way to experience this movie. While reviews said that this was more of a visual experience, I found the plot to be much deeper than in something like 300, which was just fight fight fight.

In fact, I'd almost say I like this better than 300 because there was hardly a moment when I wasn't entertained. Beowulf clearly proves himself to be the hero among heroes. Of course, the movie differs from the classic (it's the oldest surviving epic poem in the English language) by quite a lot so don't expect a history lesson; just an awesome guts and glory movie.

The CGI is impressive as well. While it's not pure CGI, but rather photorealistic animation, most of the shots are pretty amazing. Then again, the characters also tend to move in some unnatural ways. It's sort of like watching a video game's cut-scenes, but for two hours.

I wonder when this technology will get good enough to start using it for everything. It can already make Ray Winstone -- whoever that is -- look just like Russell Crowe apparently. I swore it was Russell as Beowulf...

09 November 2007

Bloggie Awards

Another year, another round of Bloggies, the Academy Awards of the blogging world. I'm a little disappointed that so many of the winners I already know about. I was hoping to find a few gems to add to my reading collection. Then again, I haven't had too much time to dig through everything quite yet. I'm also sad that the "Best Tagline of a Weblog" category is now defunct. That was always good for a laugh or two. Anyway, check'em out!

What I have been exploring is this site, CollegeOTR.com, which is a blog portal focused on colleges. It reveals a side of campus life that wouldn't be available in any sanctioned outlet. I keep thinking about how fun it would have been to have blogs when I went to college. I would have blogged my little life away. At my alma mater, Michigan, there's been this recent brouhaha involving an an anonymous blogger who takes (hilarious) potshots at the Umich Greek scene. He was unveiled recently so I hope he runs fast and carries a big stick.

04 November 2007

American Gangster (2007)

Denzel and Russell should make for a classic right? There's really nothing wrong with the movie but there's definitely a lack of energy about the whole thing. Scenes taken individually are well constructed but nothing held together and at times it was almost boring. The best thing about the film is that it's based on a true story and you can research the real Frank Lucas afterwards. here's "The Return of Superfly," the article that got the ball rolling on the movie.

Compared to something like Heat, American Gangster had nothing to recommend it.