Michael Crichton is Dead

November 6th, 2008 at 3:00 am

It’s a tough time to be a writer. And I’m not referring to the fact that thirty-seven publishers have passed on my high-concept, psychological thriller-novel about a Latino ascending to the Presidency. (Note to interested parties: I can easily change Latino to woman, homosexual, or Scientologist.)

David Foster Wallace. Dead.

Studs Terkel. Dead.

Tony Hillerman. Dead.

Michael Crichton. Dead.

Crichton was my favorite author for an extended period in my youth. I read every single one of his books, losing interest sometime after Airframe. Tastes quickly mature into elitist sophistication and one most stop reading books and start reading literature. But to this day I wonder why Travels isn’t more popular. It is probably Crichton’s best book (and the closest he ever got to a memoir/autobiography). I don’t re-read books because life is too short, but thinking back to all that time I spent in the very capable mind of Michael, I can’t help but think how much fun it was.

Say what you will about Crichton’s breezy genre tendencies and his poorly developed characters, the man has contributed some serious stories into our canon. Jurassic Park. ER. Eater’s of the Dead. Sphere. The Great Train Robbery. The Andromeda Strain.

Totally decent reading.

I bid you adieu, Good Sir.



David Foster Wallace is Dead

September 15th, 2008 at 3:08 pm

Author David Foster Wallace, 46, was found dead at home by his wife, having hung himself in the garage.

A writer of “postmodern,” “darkly ironic” tales, David Foster Wallace is best known for his 1,079-page novel Infinite Jest. I’ve only read the abridged, illustrated version.*

But I did read Wallace’s collection of short stories, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. The titular thing is cruising. I read it prior to going on a cruise myself. Beyond Wallace’s signature barrage of endless footnotes, which I found mostly distracting, he suffered from mild agoraphobia and therefore confined himself to his tiny cabin, missing about 85% of the obnoxious excess that makes a cruise worthwhile.

While I don’t have anything more intelligent to say about David Foster Wallace that you can find by Googleing his name right now, I do mourn his loss and find comfort in imagining a lively discussion in Hell between him, Arthur C. Clarke, and Norman Mailer.

I’m sure they’re looking down hoping we vote for Obama.

*To the best of the authwhore’s knowledge, an abridged, illustrated version of Infinite Jest does not exist.



Wall-E

May 7th, 2008 at 4:27 pm

So there’s this new movie coming out from the hard working people at Pixar called Wall-E. Perhaps you’ve heard of the hard working people at Pixar? They’re renowned for making “good” movies like Ratatouille, Cars, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc, A Bug’s Life, and the Toys Story.

Perhaps you’ve heard of Wall-E. It comes out June 27, 2008.

I liked Wall-E the first time when it was called Short Circuit.

Wall-E poster

Short Circuit poster

And the second time when it was called Short Circuit 2.

What was wrong with Short Circuit? Sure, Toy Story was a cute movie, but does it star Steve Guttenberg? Maybe they should have called it Shorty-C…

But if the hard working people at Pixar are so brilliant, why does Wall-E look like Johnny Five?

Wall-EShort Circuit

Sony’s going to sue somebody!

And there is no possible way that Wall-E will be able to compete with Short Circuit. It has one of the finest lines in the history of cinema:

“Hey, laser lips, your mother was a snow blower!”



Charlton Heston is Dead

April 8th, 2008 at 3:22 pm

539w.jpg

 

Now we can pry the gun from his cold, dead hand.



AUTHOR ARTHUR C. CLARKE IS DEAD

March 18th, 2008 at 4:44 pm

The famous, prophetic, preeminent, visionary, distinguished, knighted, celebrated, transcendent writer died in Sri Lanka on March 19th, 2008 at the age of 90. I bet Anthony Minghella’s family is pissed for having Tony quickly pushed right out of the Obituary Spotlight.

arthur_c_clarke_372x495.jpg

Sri Lanka was called Ceylon when Clarke moved there in 1956. Which makes me wonder how creepy it will be to tell my children about when this particular arbitrary landmass was referred to as the United States of America.

Though expiring in Sri Lanka, Clarke also seems to have died in Britain, New York, Space, and MTV. This SciFi Star was killed by breathing problems, having suffered from post-polio syndrome for two decades.

No mere writer, Clarke invented the concept of geostationary satellites in 1945, and the orbit of such satellites is named in his honor. Pick up a cell phone and tell that to Dan Brown. As if co-writing a spectacular movie with the Greatest Filmmaker Ever was not enough…

Having separated from his wife after only a few months together in 1953, Clarke spent the rest of his life sharing a home with his “business partner” in Sri Lanka. Which sounds like one hell of a gay tryst. But when asked if he was gay, Clarke would answer, “No, merely mildly cheerful.”

Ha!

Adieu, good Sir. Adieu.



HOWARD THE DUCK IS DEAD

February 16th, 2008 at 6:08 am

Actually, Howard the Duck isn’t dead. Steve Gerber, the creator of Howard the Duck, is dead.

But still, it is a sad, sad day and I mourn the loss.

Steve died in Las Vegas. In what other American city would the creator of Howard the Duck be living? Cleveland seems Obvious, but Las Vegas seems Right.

This particular loss means something to me in a perverse, peculiar, and personal way because my sister and I were fans of the 1986 George Lucas adaptation when we were growing up. We watched it all the time. It was one of our favorites. We wore out the VHS tape our father had copied it on. Despite the film’s reputation as “a critical and box-office debacle,” my sister and I appreciated the mediocrity of it. Perhaps in our innocent youth we understood the irony and humor of it all. It was stupid. It was fun. It was perfect for us. At that pure, tender age we wanted to believe in a world where a beautiful woman could love a duck.

At one point, Disney threatened legal action over Howard’s striking similarity to another duck.

Go figure.

So adieu, Steve. And thank you.



NORMAN MAILER IS DEAD

November 13th, 2007 at 4:07 am

It is difficult to fathom the passing of someone so great, so relevant, so significant; so writerishly.

You write The Great American Novel. You found the Village Voice. You win Pulitzers. And you still die.

Jeez, it seems like it was only yesterday that I was watching BookTV and seeing Norman give a dual interview with Gunter Grass. Those were the days! Now they have wilted and succumbed to the harsh, whimpering winter of reality…

(Speaking of hot interviews, can we please get Jhumpa Lahiri to moderate an interview of Zadie Smith and Marisha Pessl???)

Unlike the recent passing of great American writers who I’ve read, like Hunter S. Thompson and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Norman Mailer did not die from a fall nor a self-inflicted gunshot wound, but nonetheless and regardless, I look forward to exploring and ingesting his greatness posthumously. Public Library: here I come!

They say that deaths come in threes. I have recently endured the death of an Uncle, a Grandmother, and a Cat, so it must be true. Appropriately so I suppose, following the death of a writer of such stature as Norman Mailer comes news of the passing of none other than Donda West, the mother of rapper Kanye West.

Yes, she’s an author.

I haven’t read Mailer. You haven’t read West.

So Norman is 1. Donda is 2. Who will be three? My money is on Tom Wolfe.



Author Merv Griffin Dies

August 13th, 2007 at 2:58 pm

For a man of his stature, it is impossible to properly summarize and praise Merv Griffin. The extent of his influence is unfathomable. As the creator of “Wheel of Fortune” we have him to thank for the inexplicable success story that is Vana White. As the creator of “Jeopardy,” Griffin is responsible for the brilliant SNL skits hilariously and dutifully satirizing said cultural icon.

With such an exorbitant amount of achievements and wealth, how could he not write a book about how wonderful he is? I would. Later in his life he got rich(er) from hotels and gambling. What didn’t this Man-Called-Merv do? He even wrote the famous Final Jeopardy ditty.

And he’s not done! Merv had been developing “Crosswords,” a new game
show based on crossword puzzles. It’s scheduled to premiere posthumously September 10.

In 1950, Merv had a hit with a recording of “I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts.” It was a different time in 1950. A time when you could record a hit song called “I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts.” It was a time when you named your son Mervyn, after his father of course. His name is MERV for crying out loud! Don’t you wish you at least had a friend named Merv? It’s fun to say. Merrrrvvvvvvv.

Adieu, good sir. Adieu.