In Today’s Literary And Marketing News…

I thought I’d pass the word; at some point in the near future (likely in time for Christmas), “Trulbert:  A Comic Novella About The End Of The World As We Know It” will hit the virtual shelves.   I’m going to publish it as an e-book.

And while it will be substantially similar to the serial I’ve been doing for the past few months, there will be many updates (above and beyond the usual rewrite) and a whole lot of new, book-only material. 

Pass the word, and stay tuned!

“Today Is God’s Gift; That’s Why We Call It The Present”

 Peggy Noonan had an excellent piece last week on the late Joan Rivers - whom Noonan counted as a friend. 

The whole thing is worth a read.  But there was one part I’d never known about:

She was a Republican, always a surprising thing in show business, and in a New Yorker, but she was one because, as she would tell you, she worked hard, made her money with great effort, and didn’t feel her profits should be unduly taxed. She once said in an interview that if you have 19 children she will pay for the first four but no more. Mostly she just couldn’t tolerate cant and didn’t respond well to political manipulation. She believed in a strong defense because she was a grown-up and understood the world to be a tough house. She loved Margaret Thatcher, who said what Joan believed: The facts of life are conservative. She didn’t do a lot of politics in her shows—politics divides an audience—but she thought a lot about it and talked about it. She was socially liberal in the sense she wanted everyone to find as many available paths to happiness as possible.

I always enjoyed Rivers’ comedy – and like the little life lesson about politics dividing one’s audience. 

Anyway – the whole thing is worth reading.

Subscribed

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Reviewing Amazon’s subscription service, this guy is talking about me:
“ . . . the sort of people who will benefit most from the subscription model are the sort of readers who will make do with reading the back of a cereal box if nothing else is available.”
Joe Doakes

Perhaps.

Me? Well, I will read darned near anything when I’m desperate enough, I hate subscription model everything. Software, books, periodicals – you name it.

When Out And About The East Metro Tonight

Longtime friend of the NARN and this blog, Katie Kieffer, send this:

I’m holding a book signing TONIGHT (my only signing for the month of July) from 5-7 pm at the Starbuck’s Coffee located at 3450 Pilot Knob Road in Eagan, MN. Thank you and hope to see you if you can make it! :)

Anyone who doesn’t have a copy of “Let Me Be Clear” yet can pick up the book up at a local Barnes&Noble and brink it to Starbuck’s and I’ll gladly sign it. Here is the address.

Thank you!

Katie

The book is a good read – especially if you have some under-30s in your life who are struggling with the way things are in Obama’s America.

Saturday Plans!

Tomorrow on the Northern Alliance, I’ll be talking with:

  • MNGOP gubernatorial candidate Scott Honour
  • Amy Alkon, the Advice Goddess, on her new book Good Manners for People Who Sometimes Say F**k.  And yes, I will be using my radio training to the hilt tomorrow. 

Hope you can tune in from 1-3PM on AM1280!

You’re Invited!

It seems like just yesterday Katie Kieffer and her friends were vexing the management at Saint Thomas with all sorts of conservative hijinx – like publishing a conservative newspaper on the famously liberal campus, and booking an appearance by Ann Coulter over the fervid phumphering of college president Dennis “Havana Denny” Dease.

Katie’s on to bigger and better things, now; her first book, Let Me Be Clear, is coming out next month.   We talked about it on the show last Saturday; it’s Katie’s view of the world facing Millennials, and what to do about it.

She’s holding a pre-launch party; it’s on Wednesday, June 4th from 6-8:30 pm. at Casper’s Cherokee in Eagan (just off Cliff at Nichols).  And unlike some big-buck K Street soirée, yoiu’re invited…

…or, actually, technically, you have the ability to invite yourself!

Sue Jeffers, Ed Morrissey and I will be there.  Hope you can be too!

Publishing Notes

While we wait for further news on Katie Kieffer’s first book – of which more to come soon – I’m happy to notice that XKCD is publishing a book this fall.

Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions will be published September 2nd by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Starting today you can pre-order it from your favorite bookseller (Barnes & NobleAmazonIndie Bound).  There are also foreign editions, including a UK and Commonwealth edition and a German edition

Sounds like my next couple of airplane trips are covered!

White Trash Chic

I’ve never been much of a TV watcher.   I’ve gone through some major parts of my life with no TV at all, and many more not really watching any.

But over the last eight months or so, via the miracle of Netflix, I’ve caught up on some of the shows everyone says “you just gotta see” - House of Cards, Mad Men, The Killing, Walking Dead, Lilyhammer, Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, Battlestar Galactica (at least the first three seasons; it crashed to a halt in Season 4) and a few others.

It’s commonly said that we’re in a third “Golden Age of Television”.  And if you are a picker and chooser, the amount of quality TV out there is pretty amazing (although given how much TV there is out there compared with 40 years ago, I’m not sure the quality-to-dreck ratio is that much better).

But something’s always nagged at me about this boom in quality – from the Sopranos’ New Jersey full of strip clubs and body dumping grounds to Breaking Bad’s Albuquerque full of  tweakers, TV is focusing on flyoverland like it never, ever did in its earlier eras (Mary Tyler Moore’s Minneapolis and Happy Days’ Milwaukee were thematic window-dressing)…

…and it’s pretty alarming.

John Podhoretz identifies it:

[Brett Martin, author of the book "Difficult Men", about the producers behind the current era in TV] notes that there was something explicitly political at work in the early days of what he calls television’s “Third Golden Age.” Americans “on the losing side” of the 2000 election, Martin writes, “were left groping to come to terms with the Beast lurking in their own body politic.” As it happened, “that side happened to track very closely with the viewerships of networks like AMC, FX, and HBO: coastal, liberal, educated, ‘blue state.’ And what the Third Golden Age brought them was a humanized red state. .  .  . This was the ascendant Right being presented to the disempowered Left—as if to reassure it that those in charge were still recognizably human.”

Of course, the “recognizably human” people who dared vote for George W. Bush were all sociopathic or psychopathic crooks: Tony Soprano, Walter White (note the name) of Breaking Bad, the polygamous Mormon Bill Henrickson on Big Love, and others. They were the characters at the center, and they were indeed fully human.

Less human, but no less emblematic?  ”Peter Griffin”.

No, seriously.

Anyway, J-Po finds the part that’d been nagging at me:

It’s the depiction of the worlds in which they live that is so striking, even more so in the series that have come along since the body politic’s shift to the left, beginning in 2006. The canvas on which these characters are brought to three-dimensional life isn’t a “humanized red state” at all, but rather the red state of liberal horror fantasy.

The whole thing is worth a read.

 

Everyone’s A Minstrel

You know what I can’t stand?  Chinese violin and piano players.  [1]

The violin (as we understand the instrument today) and especially the piano are utterly western inventions.  They are utterly inseparable with the development of western music, and thus art, and thus culture. 

Ditto Japanese blues guitarists, and Arabic hip-hop artists and African opera singers, and the like.   [2]

When, say, Asian or African or Arabic people put on tuxedoes and sit in philharmonic orchestras, and do art assocated with western civilization, while not being actual westerners who grew up thoroughly marinated in the culture, they are essentially playing in “whiteface”, pretending to be western.  They have no concept of these artifacts of western culture - they don’t gather for jam session in garages, they don’t sit on street corners in the Bronx, they don’t know the feeling of Renaissance-era Italy. 

“Wait”, you say – “adopting parts of other languages and cultures into one’s own is an essential part of humanity!”

Huh.

OK.  I guess you could say so. 

But tell it to this joyless slagathor at the apparently-racist, nativist rag Salon.  Who has, by the way, adopted a form of communication – the “opinion piece” – that is not native to her ethnic culture.  Why is she turning my culture into a white-face minstrel show?  [3]

[1] Not really . This is satire.

[2] See 1, above.

[3] It’s her logic, not mine.

There Once Was A President From Nantucket

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The President was in Saint Paul last week. Did Saint Paul Poet Laureate Carol Connolly memorialize the occasion with an epic poem? Why didn’t I hear about it?

Joe Doakes

Ms. Connolly was unable to write the poem; she is apparently non-union.

I’m going to cross the artistic picket line:

“The President rode on the train,
Debarked, and made for his plane.
As he left on his trip,
the train it did flip,
As if it were financed by Bain.

I live to serve.

Cutting The Cookies

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

I found “Robin Hood” on Netflix, the updated version released by the BBC in 2006. The casting was more interesting than the show.

The BBC modernized the story but only up to the 2006 Code of Stereotypes: the Bad Guy Sheriff of Nottingham must be a White male, Maid Marian must be a butt-kicking, wise-cracking feminist, the hero’s side-kick must be a dumb White guy to serve as the butt of all jokes, all war veterans must have PTSD and be ticking time-bombs for violence, at least one racial minority must play a supporting role as Member Of The Merry Band (Hispanic preferred) and most important of all, no Black may be cast in an unsympathetic light.

In 2014, that Code has been updated to require at least one gay character and, if at all possible, a disabled person, e.g. “Glee.”

In this “Robin Hood,” there is no Friar Tuck in the Merry Band (religious characters are forbidden under the new Code), but there is a Saracen woman named D’jaq and of course, she’s smarter than all of the White males put together. But get this – D’jaq is supposed to be slave captured by King Richard’s armies fighting Saladin in the Middle East. She ought to be an Arab Muslim. But she’s played by an English actress of Indian descent using a Pakistani accent to sound foreign. Why? Probably because there is a giant immigrant population in England from former Crown colonies like India and Pakistan and the BBC Code must acknowledge them by substituting a Paki for a Hispanic in the Member Of The Band slot.

The most amazing thing of all? The Master-at-Arms, who kills innocent women and children so the Sheriff can blame Robin Hood for it, is a Black man. The fake Abbess who’s really a con artist, is a Black women. Black people are criminals! That would never happen in an American series.

Rearranging the priority of victims to cater to local sympathies makes business sense for the film maker. But it also reflects a certain callousness. Casting a show to fit the Stereotype Code means you don’t actually care about the people being stereotyped, only that the correct boxes are checked to meet your quotas.

Joe Doakes

I think I wrote about that a few years back, when my kids were still watching the Disney Channel (back when I’d still let kids watch the Disney Channel); all of the cookie cutter “Disney Movies” had the same basic characters:

  1. The spunky, low-income white kid.
  2. The Latina tomboy who kicked everyone’s butts athletically (except, perhaps, #4 below
  3. The black, Chloe-O’Brien-level tech nerd.  Always, always, always the black kid was the nerd. 
  4. The lead character – almost always a blonde white boy…

…and a painstakingly-mixed bunch of supporting characters.

RIP Harold Ramis

Via Sheila O’Malley, to whom I often outsource my show-biz obits:

Of all of the films that have come out during my lifetime, all the huge important Oscar-winning serious films, all the weighty masterpieces, all the films about important topics, all of the “instant classics”, the beloved movies, the camp classics, the game-changers, the films draped in awards … of all of them, if I had to choose one film to be the #1 contender for “Film That Will Be Watched Regularly 150 Years From Now”, it would be Groundhog Day.

Not sure I could disagree.

Review: “House Of Cards”, Season 2

I’ve watched both seasons of Netflix’s drama “House of Cards”.

PROS:  Well-written, generally-tautly-paced, intricately-plotted, it rewards the viewer with an attention span.  It’s superbly-acted by a stellar cast of excellent actors and Robin Wright.

CONS:  It asks the viewer for one absolutely implausible suspension of dispbelief; the idea that a DC newspaper would energetically investigate a Democrat for corruption.  (Bonus suspension – that the Chinese would sneak money to Republicans, and that the Dems would buck the teachers’ union and demand entitlement reform).

RATING:  Four “Shots In The Dark”.

Image

It’s “Super Bowl” Sunday.

Just a reminder, as you watch a couple of teams of overpaid thugs gambol and prance about a stadium owned by a couple of modern-day robber barons who’ve built their stadiums at the expense of the cities and states where they do their dirty business, playing a mobbed-up game; this is the ad that the NFL thought didn’t serve their image properly:

Sorry, NFL. I’ve watched my last Super Bowl…

Continue reading

Lone Reviewer

I caught “Lone Survivor” – the film adaptation of former SEAL Marcus Luttrell’s memoir chronicling his surviving a badly-awry mission in Afghanistan in 2005 – a few weeks back, as part of a review audience.

It was, by the way, an amazing movie.  Not a perfect retelling of the book – I won’t spoil anything, but one of the battles does get Hollywooded in comparison to the book, just a little.

All of that aside, it’s a great move, and I highly recommend it. 

Of course, it bleeds red white and blue – which means Hollywood’s liberal film critic elite have broken out the long knives. 

Which brings us to Roger Simon’s review of the reviews (and the movie’s snubbing from this year’s Oscars).  Read the whole thing.  But the conclusion is the vital part:

As for those of you who are lining up to diss Hollywood again in the comments, remember the late Andrew Breitbart said that politics is downstream of culture. He was a 1000% correct. Diss Hollywood all you want. It deserves it. But save some of your energy for taking it back. That’s a lot harder. And a lot more important.

Winning – no,contesting- the culture war is going to be as hard as Afghanistan.  And maybe more vital for this nation’s future.