Given that it’s New Year’s Eve, what better song to do than “Midnight Hour,” and what better version than the one done by Wilson Pickett backed by Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band at the 1999 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony concert.
2018 started out horribly, as we lost Dale. Hell, 2017 ended with Dale going to the hospital, and he never came home from that particular trip. He rang in 2018 from a hospital bed, and he died on the 4th of January.
It took a lot to recover from that, and we haven’t 100% recovered, truly, but the year got better from there almost by default. And there were some wonderful things that happened in 2018.
The best, of course, was our trip to Italy in November for a belated honeymoon. It was a magical trip, full of food and wine and joy and happiness and art and architecture and friends and food and wine and did I mention the food and wine? It was magnificent and glorious and we can’t wait to go back and eat more food and drink more wine.
I also finally completed two projects that I’ve been trying to complete for, um, a while: Mermaid Precinct and A Furnace Sealed. They’re both in the editing stages and should be out in early 2019 (I’m hoping to have copies of one or both at Farpoint).
We’re ringing in the new year the same way we always do: spending it with some of our dearest friends at one of those friend’s house. There will be food and wine (I’m noticing a theme here) and celebration and fun and bidding 2018 adieu.
2019 should be a much better year. For one thing, I’ve got three new books coming out — besides the two mentioned above, there’s Alien: Isolation. Plus a bunch of short stories, and continued writing for Tor.com, and still training in karate and teaching my afterschool program and my fighting class, and all that stuff.
Best of all, though, is that 2019 will see me celebrating three major anniversaries.
The first is the 15th anniversary of my karate studies. On 20 September 2004, I walked into my dojo as an overweight, under-conditioned 35-year-old. Now I walk in as a third-degree black belt, which is much better. The dojo has become a second home in so many ways, and I’m eternally grateful to Shuseki Shihan Paul and everyone else.
Next is the 25th anniversary of my fiction writing career. I sit here now with a truckload of fiction to my credit, including 55 novels, and upwards of a hundred short stories, plus comic books, novellas, vignettes, etc., but it all started in November 1994 with “An Evening in the Bronx with Venom,” a story I co-authored with John Gregory Betancourt for The Ultimate Spider-Man, published by Berkley Books.
And finally, 2019 is the 50th anniversary of my birth, as I entered this world on the 18th of April in 1969, the same year as Woodstock and the moon landing, the year that Star Trek ended, the year that the Mets won the World Series for the first time.
Happy new year, everyone. *raises glass*
The fine folks at eSpec Books are having a post-holiday sale on Amazon: now you can get the Kindle editions of their backlist for only $.99 each! This includes all the “Precinct” books (Dragon Precinct, Unicorn Precinct, Goblin Precinct, Gryphon Precinct, and Tales from Dragon Precinct), my short story collection Without a License, and the anthology The Best of Bad-Ass Faeries — not to mention titles by Christopher L. Bennett, Michelle D. Sonnier, Jeff Young, Brenda Cooper, Jack Campbell, and more!
In honor of Wrenn’s cousin/our housemate Matt, who just returned to NYC from a trip home to visit his family for the holidays, here’s a quintessential Noo Yawk song from Ace Frehley of KISS.
We complete our year-end examination of overlooked 20th-century films with a trio of movies starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as secret agents who keep us safe from aliens. The great superhero movie rewatch looks at the Men in Black trilogy.
The first movie is the jewel in the crown, and deservedly so. It’s eminently quotable (to this day whenever I drive by the World’s Fair grounds, I have a tendency to call out, “Hey—old guys! Do those still work?”), the plot moves along nicely, the acting is fantastic, and the whole thing has the signature macabre look that Barry Sonnenfeld made his trademark with The Addams Family.
Indeed, the look of all three is perfect, from the wild designs of the various aliens to the retro-futurist look of MIB HQ and much of their equipment. (It’s the same look that Brad Bird would give The Incredibles and which we also see in The Venture Bros., to wit, what everyone thought the future would look like in 1965 or so.)
Because you get to read cool stuff like these things that I’ve posted in December:
- $1/month and up: reviews of The Grand Budapest Hotel and Animal Kingdom (the original movie and the TV show based on it)
- $2/month and up: a veritable truckload of cat pictures
- $5/month and up: a review of the eleventh and final season of M*A*S*H
- $7/month and up: excerpts from “The Silent Dust” and A Furnace Sealed, and two excerpts from Mermaid Precinct
- $10/month and up: a vignette featuring Bram Gold entitled “The True Meaning of Hanukkah“
- $20/month and up: first looks at “Alien Invasion of Earth!” and “The Silent Dust,” short stories I’ve submitted for, respectively, Thrilling Adventure Yarns and Brave New Girls
And the plan for January includes:
- $1/month and up: reviews of Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse and M*A*S*H: Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen, as well as the entire Mission: Impossible series starring Tom Cruise
- $2/month and up: more cat pics, obviously
- $5/month and up: reviews of Prime Suspect, The Good Cop, FBI, Doctor Who, Lodge 49, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, AfterMASH, Rome, and I, Claudius
- $7/month and up: excerpts from upcoming works, mostly the three new short stories I’ve written most recently (“The Silent Dust,” “Alien Invasion of Earth!” and a Cassie Zukav story that’s still in progress)
- $10/month and up: a January vignette, though I’m not yet sure what it’ll be yet (I’m open to suggestions….)
- $20/month and up: stories and chapters as I finish them of my original work, as per usual
So go support my Patreon, and you can read all this cool stuff, too!!!!!
We continue our examination of overlooked 20th-century movies, as the great superhero movie rewatch takes a gander at Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy, in which producer Beatty and director Beatty do a superlative job of creating a nifty adaptation of Chester Gould’s strip, but actor Beatty sabotages the whole thing with a truly awful performance in the title role.
Most of the cast is very obviously having a great time, starting with Madonna living up to her character’s first name as Breathless Mahoney, perfectly playing the sultry lounge singer. (She does a lovely job singing the Stephen Sondheim-written songs Mahoney performs at the Ritz Club, too.) Glenne Headley gives Trueheart a nice edge, her performance beautifully inspired by Noel Neill’s Lois Lane and Rosalind Russell’s Hildy Johnson. Seymour Cassel and Charles Durning are delightful as the Greek chorus of Tracy’s fellow cops, trying to keep up with the determined detective, Dustin Hoffman is perfect as the pathetic Mumbles, and Paul Sorvino and James Caan lean into their histories of playing gangsters as Lips and Spud.
But the standout here is Al Pacino. There are far too many occasions in Pacino’s career when he’s let shouting substitute for acting (Scent of a Woman, The Devil’s Advocate, Glengarry Glen Ross), but this is the only time he does it to good effect. He’s having a grand old time, going so far over the top as Caprice he gives everyone around him nosebleeds. It’s a joyous, hilarious performance, leaving no piece of scenery unchewed.