Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sarkozy Voodoo

Time for a story of France! This comes from Expatica.

Noble leader President Sarkozy failed in his attempt to stop K&B Editions, the maker of a Sarkozy voodoo doll, from distributing the product. His reasoning was that he owned exclusive rights to his own image. Right, run for president and retain rights to your own image and all the privacy you desire. Not!

The case was dismissed, but the worst part is that when Sarkozy filed the suit--his 6th since becoming president (who else did he sue? Mask-makers? stand-up comedians?)--the sales of the voodoo doll went up precipitously! In fact, the doll, which comes with a set of pins, is the #1 seller on! 20,000 have been sold--he might as well have hawked them on Oprah!

The sayings on the doll, btw, are little bits of "wit and wisdom" mouthed by Sarkozy himself. Cost is 13 euros--could not discover whether bits of Sarkozy's hair or nail clippings are included.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Forgetting Emily Post

Laura Claridge has written a bio of Emily Post. Reviews are available at Slate, Newsweek, and a bunch of other places, but it's the Newsweek piece that caught my eye. After three years of working on Emily Post, we learn:

[Claridge] was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer. For a while she lost her memory, including her awareness of who Emily Post was and why she had been writing about her

I have spent four and half years on a book. I can't imagine staring at the pages and wondering who this character is, and why my bookshelves are filled with information on her times. Could there be a worse nightmare for an author? Writer's block takes on a whole new meaning, huh?

The good news is that Claridge recovered completely from cancer, regained her memory, and finished the book.

Friday, October 24, 2008

NaNoWriMo to Start

NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month...November, and this is the 10th year that ambitious, self-motivated, and either jobless-and/or-mindlessly rich dilettantes and fools will chain themselves to their laptops and try to whip out a 50,000 word draft in thirty days.

Check it all out here. There's still time to register, and if you're lucky enough to be in a citified region with a nice group leader, you may even be invited to a kick-off party toward the end of October.

What do you get? A first draft in thirty days, one to occupy you for the rest of the year. If you don't know how incredibly rare and valuable that is, you ain't no writer yet!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bad News for Freelancers' Magazine Markets

Not that I expect to ever write for Entertainment Weekly, Teen Vogue, or National Geographic for Kids...I take that back, I would like to write for that last one. But according to MediaPost's Media Daily News, I probably won't get that chance. Due to plunging circulation, MediaPost writes that these three and several other magazines may fold in the next few months, due to declining sales and ad revenues.

Other mags at risk: Kiplinger's Personal Finance (newstand sales down 19.6%), SmartMoney (down 20%), Mens Vogue (down 17.9%), Nickelodeon (ad pages down 30.2%!), Sports Illustrated for Kids (ads down 24.8%).

All bad. And all those places that I joked I'd go work for if things got bad--places that served food and coffee? They're closing too. The one good thing is that we're all in this together.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wicked Absinthe

Thanks to a short piece in Wired (last August) I learn that we in the US get better absinthe than the poor connoisseurs of France. Here's a link to a longer Wired 2005 feature--the August piece was a short follow-up. And if you thirst for more, check out the Wormwood Society, from whom I purloined this lovely pictures.

According to the August blurb , the US has been very slow to permit the sale of absinthe. Only four brands are allowed: Lucid, Kubler, Green Moon, and St. George Absinthe Verte. The maker of one, Ted Breaux, says of absinthe in Europe: "80 to 90 percent is industrial junk."

Ouch. We were thrilled, five years ago, to find we could buy small bottles of absinthe in France and bring them home as gifts. We got the absinthe spoons, the whole bit. (you are supposed to put a sugar cube on the delicately-slotted spoon, set that over the glass, and pour the absinthe over it into the glass.)

The liquor has such a mystique about it--if you've ever read Hemingway, you want to taste absinthe. After WWI, only Spain continued to sell it--absinthe was considered to dangerous and maddening to be marketed in most other countries. It's made from wormwood. Sounds gothic.

Now scientists say absinthe got a bad rap, so it's legal again. Will it ever be mundane? Doubt it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Atlatl Competition

The 8th annual Blackwater Draw Atlatl Throw is this Saturday (Oct. 18). Man, I'd like to see this become an Olympic event.

Blackwater Draw is off State Hwy 467 in New Mexico--here's more information. Just in case.

And...woo-hoo!...there's actually a World Atlatl Organization. Who knew?

I am not making fun. I think atlatl is the coolest word in the lexicon (it's actually an Aztec, or Nahuatl word), besides being a bit of the oldest technology on earth. An atlatl is a gizmo for launching a spear with just a little more oompf than your arm alone can muster.

This picture is of Roy Madden using an atlatl, from the Altlatl page of Flight-Toys. When he whips his wrist forward, the spear flies out of the 16-inch (looks like) atlatl.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Update to the Witch World Estate

The Tennessee Court of Appeals has rendered a decision on Andre Norton's copyrights and royalties. In brief, when Ms Norton died in 2005, her last caregiver and a fan battled over rights to her books (see previous post for more details). The decision is that the caregiver controls copyrights on all books published in Andre Norton's lifetime, and the fan gets royalties for books published since she died. New link here.

Here's a website dedicated to Andre Norton that has statements from the caregiver about the lawsuit.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Owners Manual--Recommended Reading

Six simple rules for reading Owners Manuals, like: If the product needs a manual longer than one page, the designer failed. Plus some hilarious illustrations and sidebars. Where? In Southwest Airlines Spirit Magazine, online here. (That's the cover image at right) (the article is by James Lileks).

My favorite part so far: the sidebar on "Best Manual Cautions Ever"

"Use the dishwasher only for its intended function. If, for example, you are a coyote chasing a road runner, and you have strapped the dishwasher to your body intending to ski downhill on the mounds of suds it produces, you have voided your warranty..."

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Graphic Bio of J. Edgar Hoover

This is one of those moments when I feel like my grandmother, shaking my head and muttering, "What will they think of next?"

Graphic biographies. Their time has come.

Not talking about bios with graphic violence, but about the graphic novel. Publishers Weekly has reviewed Rick Geary's 112-page graphic bio of J. Edgar Hoover on its blog "THE BEAT", which is all about comics. I guess I just never thought of J. Edgar Hoover's life as lending itself to comics or graphic novels . . . nor of a psychological bio (according to reviews) that is largely presented in pictures.

The Biographer's Craft points out that " Of course, Geary is not the first to come out with a graphic biography. Capstone Press has a whole line of them. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux has published graphic biographies on Malcolm X and Ronald Reagan, both by Andrew Helfer (with different illustrators). On the whole, however, these works have been intended for young audiences. "

This cover image is from Amazon, and you can see a large version here. I wonder if artistic renderings are subject to the same laws and nonfiction text would be? Just musing here, but the idea that a picture might misrepresent something--could the illustrator be sued, as a writer might be?