Thursday, March 24, 2011

Satan Wants You

You have to admit that as far as book titles go, Satan Wants You catches your eye.  You walk by it at the bookstore and think, "He does?"  You just got to pick it up.  I know I had to.

I got this hardcover in 1988.  Mysterious Press put it out.  Before I bought it I paged through it and saw photos of Black Sabbath; Anton Lavey; Ozzy Osbourne; The Process Church of the Final Judgment; Sammy Davis, Jr.; and John Travolta.  I kid you not on the last two.

With pictures like this, it really didn't matter how well the book was written.  Author Arthur Lyons could've been a babbling idiot for all I cared.  I just had to have a book with that title featuring a picture of Sammy Davis, Jr. with Lavey.  I mean, that should be an album cover right there. 

To be honest, I thought the book would be the typical Satanism hysteria that gripped America in the late '80s thanks to heavy metal music, Geraldo and preschools built over the gaping maw of Hell.  Chapter two is titled "The Birth of Satan" while chapter twelve is "The Call to Cthulu."  Obviously the usual suspects would be at play here.

I was pleasantly surprised.

It was a critical and unbiased look at what passed as Satanism in the culture.  It put to rest the many urban legends around Satanism, and gave a fairly decent overview of the names and faces associated with it.  It was fair.  That was unheard of in the 1980s.  Having been associated with Satanism in the Poconos in the 1980s (unfairly at first, but then I played around with it as a prank on those foolish enough to think that about me), I can state firsthand that when the charge of Satanism was tossed, common sense took a vacation.  (I remember the mother of a girlfriend of mine getting a call telling her that her daughter was dating a Satanist who killed cats or some such nonsense.  I think we were eating ice cream in the kitchen when that call came in.  Everyone knows Satanists don't eat ice cream.  They eat Lunchables.)

The book tends to go for collector's prices these days.  I haven't seen a used copy in person in quite some time, either.  I think it's one of those books people tend to hold onto.  I'm not looking to part with mine anytime soon.  With the rise in conservatism and "traditional values" (whatever the hell that means) making a comeback, it seems that a Satanism scare is just around the corner.  I'll be safe knowing that Satan won't want me.  He's already got Sarah Palin.

Mandatory FTC disclaimer:  If you click on one of my affiliate links, you'll go straight to Hell.  Actually, if you click and buy the book, I'll get a commission.  I recommend checking out the links I've done, as they are kind of funny and/or educational.

Finished With The Dead

I finished reading my decidedly rare hardcover edition of Dawn of the Dead by George Romero and Susanna Sparrow.  The movie, as many of you realize, is a classic.  How well does the book hold up?  I am loathe to say this, but in this case the movie was actually better than the book.

The book stays fairly true to the movie.  To find all the differences, I'd have to back and watch the film again.  I last saw it about four years ago, but I've watched it about a dozen times.  Any differences in the book didn't seem to matter.  What did matter was that I had no emotional connection with the characters and all the social critiques of the movie which were laid out in images were laid out in the book in words (obviously), and that is where it failed.  Instead of letting readers draw their own conclusions about consumerism and zombies in the mall, as well as our protagonists actions while holed up in such a place, it spelled them out.  Black and white.  All on the page. 

I like zombie fiction probably a little less than the average zombie fan.  I find that the movies work better as the visuals are what cinch the deal for me.  Zombies are, no pun intended, too lifeless to hold my attention on the page.  The scope of their terror is lacking, but can be well-displayed on a film screen where their stages of rot take over for their personality.  For myself, zombie fiction has to have strong living characters.  Dawn of the Dead, the film version, made the living and dead equally matched in various ways.  It worked to captivate viewers like few other zombie films have.  The book version of the same story simply accentuated the flaws.  Both the zombies and living came across as flat, with the exception of Peter, whom we still never really get to know.  Usually that is a flaw of a film since a film can't go into the background like a book.  Here the book never tried to get too deep into Peter's backstory, and that was a damn shame.

Books and movies are two different mediums that do different things.  They each tell their story in their own way.  A movie done as a book doesn't work, and, as we can plainly see here, a book written as a movie leads to nothing but disappointment.

Mandatory FTC Disclaimer:  Clicking on the Dawn of the Dead affiliate link and buying the movie will earn me a commission.  You would be buying the original and not the remake, which has its own strengths, but is nowhere near as good as the classic film.  I did not provide a link to the book, and I'm sure as hell not selling mine.  I may never read it again, but when the zombie invasion comes, I can barter it for safety from all those FTC ghouls.  Also, that book was not a review copy.  It came straight from my extensive library ... now approaching 1,000 books.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What the Google Books Decision Means For Book Lovers

Nothing.  That's what it really means.  Nothing.  The decision from Judge Chin, which you can read about here, means more for Google, publishers and authors than it does for readers. 

Google, by some accounts, wants to digitize every book in the world.  Now it wants the orphan books (books where the copyright holder cannot be located) at its disposal, a move I don't think is a bad thing.  All sorts of groups and people have issues with this, however.  Microsoft has objections.  Groups are worried about privacy.  The list goes on and on, but I can't help but think, "I don't know anyone who uses Google Books."

This lack of use by people I know doesn't mean people don't use it or that it isn't important.  I do actually believe Judge Chin's ruling is important in the long run as it brings up the issue of copyrights (always important to me) and fair use.  The idea of Google scanning millions of books to make snippets available to researchers (the ones who are going to use the most) is something that should be applauded.  Google, however, has had its share of run-ins with copyright issues, so any cry of "fair use" should be met with a grain of salt.  That said, making orphaned works available for research purposes is going to open up a world of knowledge for everyone. 

I randomly looked up Anarchism: A Very Short Introduction by Colin Ward.  What I got was well within reason without, I think, violating any copyright law.  That's not to say that will be the case every time.  I can see both sides to the argument, but I have to say that in this case it appeared that Google was within the fair use doctrine.

All of this is really material for lawyers, privacy rights advocates, publishers and authors.  I fall into the author and privacy rights categories, but I am also an avid reader.  When I think of what the judge's decision means for me and other readers, I can't help but think that Google Books wasn't a part of my life before, and this doesn't change anything.  Yes, it's great that it's there if I need it, but I just don't use it.  If Google is doing this, the books will still exist (for the most part at least -- books disappear every day).  I can still buy them.  People can still buy digital copies of them.  In order to be fair, if Google were allowed to pursue the orphaned works, anyone should be able to do the same, sort of like public domain works.  As a reader, this could actually benefit me as material that is hard to find now could be more easily obtained ... but how often do I even look for this stuff?  Only when I'm doing research.

The Google Books decision is fascinating in what it means for copyright and privacy issues, but holds little for readers ... at this point.  And lest anyone think all publishers are up in arms over Google's actions, remember: This decision blocked the settlement made between Google and publishers.  Publishers were a partner in this.

Obviously not everyone thinks Google is evil.

Disclaimer to make the FTC happy:  Clicking on my affiliate link and purchasing the book will gain me a small commission.  Clicking on the link about the judge's decision will enlighten you.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Letters from George 7

More letters from the Master of Revenge, George Hayduke.  I wonder how his books are selling in Wisconsin, where businesses are being boycotted for their support of the governor's 2010 campaign?  I hope they are doing well.  Without further bullshit ...

Hi Doug,

Read your latest 'zine.  I enjoyed much of it and didn't understand a great deal.  But, then, being an old fuck I didn't expect to.

My God ... I read your essy[sic]\interview with Tisa.  That's her real name?  She didn't get pissed at you for making such intimate stuff public?  WOW!  The way things are today most women would have sued what was left after cutting you every which way.  I get some nasty letters from women's groups and other PCPigs.

Looking forward to your next issue ... I am trying to wrap my book so I can head out here for a good while.  I want to go far South!!!


P.S. Yeah, both pix are me ... lottsa years + living between them.  I know author of Poor Man's James Bond ... although not well.  I think he may have died recently.

Disclaimer: The FTC has new rules for blogs!  Yea!  We love rules! Anyway, if you click on one of my affiliate links and buy the product linked, I get a commission.  Pay no attention to the irony of me needing to mention FTC rules for links to revenge/bomb making books. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Letters from George 6

Continuing in my series of letters from author George Hayduke, one of the masters of revenge.  For all my Wisconsin readers, you may want to read these when you target businesses that have supported Scott Walker.  (You can read a piece I did on it on my Cancerous Zeitgeist blog here.)  Hayduke is the writer of books like Get Even: The Complete Book of Dirty Tricks and Hardcore Hayduke.  Know the great thing about writing to Hayduke, reading his books and contributing to them?  Only an idiot will mess with you!  Enjoy.

Hi Doug,

Your two letters (among 675609 others) were here when I got back from fun in Mexico.  I love that country ... might move there for seven or eight months a year!!  So, I thought I'd better answer you before I go back to other work "down South."  And, you're right, you don't want to know.  Ahhh, I do have some fun times, too ... food, drink and etc. (is that legal?) No.

When I get back (three weeks) I will have my friend from the phone company tell me about the stunts (not to worry, she is a close buddy and your name will not come up ... she's a great mole for me with Ma Bell).

No, you can't order books from me.  I just write.  I keep no copies here ... and orders that people send to me I forward to Paladin.  Also, I am going to move in May.  I will keep this address and a friend will forward my mail to me.  So, anything you want, get from Paladin.  You to make letterhead for your 'Zine and write for a review copy of my new book.  It would be free that way.

Theresa's interview was fun and cute.  If folks have problems with it, UNfuck them.  Don't apologize to those humorless assholes who PC everything.  As I say, UNfuck them.  Doug... have fun and laugh a lot.  I'm sorry that Tisa didn't say them ... she appeals to me.  I like raunchy ladies with funny minds and senses of humor. 

The new book ... which I want to call THE MERCHANT OF MENACE... will come out in December.


Paladin, it should be noted, used to send me review books, including Hayduke's ... until the publisher decided I was too political for it.  Paladin!  The publisher of The Ancient Art of StrangulationI'm too political for a company that openly publishes that sort of thing?  Oddly enough, I understand that logic.  Paladin has had its share of problems with the law (go figure), so having some loudmouth anarchist review its books may not have been keeping too low a profile, if you know what I mean.

As for the Theresa (Tisa) Hayduke referenced, I'll eventually run that interview on my Published and Unpublished Works blog.  She was a raunchy lady (I lost my virginity to her and had many a fun sexual adventure with her) who was funny and had a great sense of humor.  Hayduke was spot-on with that description.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Kindle Problem

As many of you know, I recently posted a short story to the Kindle.  It's not my first short story ever written (I've been at this game over 20 years).  Nor is it my first piece available to the public.  That said, it still feels ... weird.

I originally wrote the story, Melinda, with the intent on getting it published in a magazine or on a site that actually pays for pieces.  It's a horror story, so that limits the audience, and then there's the whole thing about getting paid.  Anyone who has written for a magazine knows that it can take months before you see a check.  (In the case of UFO Magazine it took about a year or so.)  That's when I started to look into the Kindle.

I don't own a Kindle.  I'm not into eReaders.  Publishing to it, however, was a different ballgame.  The royalties were amazing, and I retain the important rights.  I can yank the story at any time and try to get it published elsewhere.  The only question remaining was: Why not do it?

Because I don't have a Kindle and don't like eReaders.  It seems fair enough.  Why write for a medium I don't use?  In the end it came down to wanting to eliminate the middleman and wanting the piece available to the public.  I wrote it so people would read it, and publishing to Kindle let's people read it.  In fact, I liked the experience so much that I'll be posting more.  (Whether or not anyone buys it is another story all together.)

I still don't want a Kindle, but the idea that a short story is out there that I would have had to shop around, wait for answer, wait for payment on, and get less than I could possibly get through Kindle is rather unappealing to me at this point.  With a magazine, I get a flat check.  It doesn't matter how many copies sell.  That can be good and bad, but with Kindle, it's all about what sells.  I posted the story for .99.  A steal, really.  A disposable price.  It's not that I value the story so little, it's that I think that is the price it will move at.  When I post a novel, I'll go higher up on the price tier, but I still won't go too high.  I want people to read it.  I want them to enjoy it.  The easiest way to do that is by controlling the price ... and Kindle lets me do that, too.  When I wrote my poker book, my publisher overpriced it (it still sells, however), and I think that killed sales.  With Kindle, I have no such problem.

The story is out there.  Read it if you'd like.  Ignore it if you will.  It is there regardless.  And soon there will be more.  It wasn't an easy decision, but I'm sure it was a smart one.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Next Stephen King Book

Publishers Weekly reported yesterday that the next Stephen King book will be titled 11/22/63.  Those who recognize the date will remember that this is when John F. Kennedy found himself on the business end of a bullet, and that is what the novel (at around 1,000 pages) is about.  A man goes back in time to prevent the assassination of one of America's most beloved presidents.

Being a King fan, though one who admits his latest works are not always the best, and a fan of political assassinations, one would think I've got mixed feelings on this one.  The way I see it, though, a good story is a good story and with King behind the wheel this will be pretty interesting at the very least.  People can say what they want about King, but he sells books and knows how to tell a story.  Only one of those is really important for the art of writing, however.

King is no stranger to epics.  It and The Stand are both literary workouts, as is Insomnia.  While It started to lose my interest toward the end, the other books worked and I think part of that had to do with their length.  King writes characters you care about, and if you only get 400 pages, it's fine, but you usually end up wanting much, much more.  11/22/63 seems like it could deliver.

The book is set to be released 11/8/11.  I think the obvious date should've been used, but the beginning of November works out just as well.  Will it be any good?  I have no clue.  I most likely won't be getting a review copy.  I will be buying it at some point, however, and not on an eReader.  I want to hold that one.  And I'm sure I won't be the only one.