Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday Night Videos

Friday Night Videos

One of the most glorious pieces of WFT? genius from the 1990s was "Mad About the Mouse" which collected a wide array of popular artists to put their own spin on classic Disney songs. The results, as with any anthology project, range from "brilliant" to "meh" to "OMG I can't believe this exists." LL Cool J's cover of "Big Bad Wolf" falls into the latter category. You're welcome.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... The Hollies.

Now Playing: Dire Straits Brothers in Arms
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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Chicken Ranch report no. 73: So... this happened

So, today was quite eventful. I accomplished quite a bit--some pretty cool things are breaking in my favor--and I was all set to blog about them when I got home this evening. Then this happened:

Jayme looks at his first copies of Inside the Chicken Ranch

The box was sitting in my office when I got home and HOLY GEEZE GUYS! I WAS NOT EXPECTING THIS! Okay, hang on, let me catch my breath... I MEAN IT'S ALMOST SIX WEEKS TO GO UNTIL THE RELEASE DATE AND I KNEW THEY WERE GETTING CLOSE TO PRINTING BUT THOUGHT MAYBE I'D GET COPIES MID-JULY OR SOMETIME!

Oh my. I'm giddy. This is seven years of my life here, a project that I originally thought would demand maybe six months of effort, tops. Instead it turned into my own personal albatross, a Sisyphean stone that took on rectangular form with pages that flapped in between the stony covers. There were times I thought it might never see print. But now it's a real, tangible thing in my hands. And let me tell you, it's a handsome book. It's a hefty book. I mean, it is substantial. Until now I hadn't realized how much of a presence 110,000 words were, plus two appendices, plus 741 endnotes, plus an index... Nobody will mistake it for one of George R.R. Martin's books, true, but that doesn't mean you couldn't inflict serious injury on someone if you flung it at them hard enough. The pages are of semi-glossy stock, slick and smooth and very kind to the 100 illustrations included therein. Physically, it's dense. I'm very pleased with how it turned out.

And yes, I've already found typos. Thanks for asking.

Since I have a for-true book now, I suppose it apropos that I share the for-true book signings I have on the calendar for the coming months:

I will be at BookPeople in Austin on August 15 at 7 p.m.

I will be at the Twig in San Antonio on August 19 at 7 p.m.

I will be at the Memorial Student Center Bookstore on the Texas A&M University campus prior to the A&M-UCLA football game September 3, and again October 8 prior to the A&M-Tennessee football game. Signing times are yet to be determined.

That's not all, folks. I've got more groovy events in the works that I'll be sharing in the coming weeks. This is going to be an exciting autumn for me!

Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse is now listed on both Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com for pre-order.

Title: Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse
Author: Jayme Lynn Blaschke
Publication Date: August 1, 2016
ISBN: 978.1.46713.563.4

Ghosts of the Chicken Ranch is still available:

Now Playing: Dire Straits Alchemy
Chicken Ranch Central

Monday, June 20, 2016

Comicpalooza in the rearview mirror

So I rousted myself early Saturday morning to make the trek to Houston for Comicpalooza!--no small feat, since Saturday is normally the only day of the week I get to sleep in. The drive in on I-10 was uneventful and I arrived at 11 a.m. with plenty of time to wander around before my lone panel of the day. First up, I have to say these mega-sized pop culture conventions aren't my favorite, simply because they're so overwhelming. It's not terribly easy to run into people you know and the media celebrities dominate with their cattle-call autograph and photo lines. That said, it's the nature of the beast these days, and as far as spectacle went, there was more than enough to entertain in the dealers room alone.

Cosplayers were out in full force. There were more Whovians and the Scooby Gang, Adventure Timers and Power Puff Girls, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica and more Star Wars Jedi, Stormtroopers and Mandalorians than I've ever seen. There was a lightsabre parade that probably totaled 300 folks once all was said and done. The fascinating thing was that there were as many, if not more, women cosplaying as men, and the age distribution was a good representation of the general population as well, with teens and 20-somethings outnumbering the greybeards by a wide margin. After seeing how anemic recent Worldcon costume contests have become in recent years, and the constant lament about the aging attendance of local genre cons, I have to wonder if they will ever start taking cues from the success of these events to boost their own appeal. Adding high-profile YA guests could be a good start, but we'll see. One thing that surprised me was the high number of Steven Universe cosplayers. Two of my favorites (below) were girls dressed up as characters from the baseball episode. That was just fun. I hadn't realized the popularity of that show, I suppose.

One of the highlights of the con for me was NASA's display, set up between the dealers area and Artists' Alley, adjacent to the massive Maker Space. A full-size mockup of the Orion spacecraft was on display. I'd known about this, since I saw news reports about it being trucked in to Houston for the event (closing down highways in the process). It's impressive in person, but I expected it to be larger. It's certainly larger than the Apollo command module, yeah, but not that much bigger. To carry a larger crew on the long-duration missions NASA is talking about--even if there are mission-specific habitation modules for the crew--one would think the primary craft would be larger. On the downside, NASA had a nice vendor section set up with shirts, hats, pins and other collectibles that I couldn't purchase, because their card reader went down. Ah well. In any event, I got some good photos of the Orion itself. I have to say I'm unreasonably pleased with the fact NASA chose to name it after my 10-year-old son.

My lone panel, "Workshop: Revising Your Drafts," went off about as well as could be expected. The literary track is something of an afterthought at Comicpalooza, from what I can tell, and despite good intentions some things were just off. My panel description said that we'd be distributing 1,000-word first draft pieces for groups to "revise." That really didn't make any sense, because there's no right or wrong way to do such a thing. And you can't really have a writers workshop without people bringing in their work to workshop, and there'd been no mechanism set up to allow such a thing. Plus, there were only two hours allocated. So instead we had a freewheeling two hour panel discussing various approaches to revisions, using critique groups and beta readers, that sort of thing. J. Cathleen Cheney, Katherine Catmull and Heather Poinsett Dunbar tolerated my antics, fortunately, and contributed insightful and witty commentary during the discussion. Without their input, it's have been a very poor panel. As it was, we filled the allotted time and could've continued quite a bit longer.

Another highlight was wandering through Artists Alley and stumbling upon unexpected folks, such as legendary comics author John Ostrander, below. Had I known he'd be at the con I'd have brought some of the many, many books of his I'd bought over the years. As I was, I stopped to tell him how much I enjoyed his run on Firestorm way back in the day, and expressed my desire to see a return of Shadowstorm. Ostrander said he thought DC had brought back Shadowstorm, before correcting himself that no, that was actually Earth-2's Deathstorm. I gave him a postcard for my new Chicken Ranch book, which prompted him to start talking about the Everleigh Club from his old Chicago stomping grounds, which in turn prompted us to share our mutual admiration for the works of Karen Abbott. Convention conversations are fun that way.

Elsewhere, I ran into old friend John Picacio (above) and saw, in passing, Arianne "Tex" Thompson, Martha Wells and Troyce Wilson, although things were rushed and we didn't have any meaningful conversation. I also ran into Alan Porter (below), who will be returning to Texas on a permanent basis next month. Coolness! Alan was kind enough to invite me to dinner after my panel, during which we shared our collective bafflement over how the recent James Bond movies have managed to totally go off the rails and utterly bungle the re-introduction of Blofeld and SPECTRE. I opined that the series should introduce Nena Blofeld (from John Gardner's Bond books) and Alan allowed the idea had merit, and I was delighted that he agreed with me that the Moonraker novel (which is pretty much as unlike the absurd movie of the same name as possible) could be updated and adapted to a smashing Bond film ("The last, great, unfilmed Bond novel" is how Alan put it). If publishers were smart, they'd give Alan a contract to write a few novels in the Bond series--after all, he's already written an exhaustive encyclopedia on the character, which should be published pretty soon now.

After dinner, I headed out the crowded Hilton doorway and just about trampled little Tara Reid. She was there as a celebrity star of Sharknado, which isn't as dubious a distinction as being an expert on the Chicken Ranch, but it's got to be pretty close. I've known she's not a large woman, but I'd never realized she was such a waif. She was so thin as to border on emaciated. I'm glad I didn't actually trample her, because I probably outweighed her by 200 pounds and could've done some lasting damage. My close brush with celebrity behind me, I braved the stormy weather out to the satellite parking lot to my car and had and uneventful drive home. The end.

Now Playing: Astrud Gilberto Astrud Gilberto's Finest Hour
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Friday, June 17, 2016

Friday Night Videos

Friday Night Videos

I first heard the Hollies' "Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress" in the spring of 1989 and completely fell in love with it. It took me quite a few more years, however, to appreciate the fact that it was probably the greatest John Fogerty homage ever recorded, even though Fogerty despised the song and even tried to sue the Hollies. I'd love to hear a Fogerty cover, but that'll never happen, as John does like to hold his grudges. Apart from that, this video clearly shows that 80s rockers weren't the only ones who made poor fashion decisions. (Huh. Looks like I already ran this one back in 2009... but I don't actually remember doing so, and I'm in a Hollies mood, so we'll go with the repeat).

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Def Leppard.

Now Playing: Billy Joel Cold Spring Harbor
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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Chicken Ranch report no. 72: Banner!

Well, lookit this. A goofy-looking fat man went and got himself a fancy-pants vertical banner to use at book signings and the like. Presumably because he's such a shrinking violet that nobody would notice him otherwise.

Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch vertical banner

Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse is now listed on both Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com for pre-order.

Title: Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse
Author: Jayme Lynn Blaschke
Publication Date: August 1, 2016
ISBN: 978.1.46713.563.4

Ghosts of the Chicken Ranch is still available:

Now Playing: Billy Joel Piano Man
Chicken Ranch Central

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Chicken Ranch report no. 71: Der Spiegel Online

I'm back from vacation! Did you miss me? Did you even notice I was gone? I didn't think so. The family and I went on a cruise to the Easter Caribbean--the first time we've ever ventured to that part of the world--and in true Griswold fashion, a tropical storm formed right over us as our ship approached Key West. Things never got rough for us, but everything was kind of off-kilter from that point on. Not the most satisfying vacation, but The Wife and I drank many fruity drinks and eventually got to see Hemmingway's house, so it wasn't a total bust.

What's this got to do with the Chicken Ranch? Nothing, really, except for the fact the first thing I did upon my return was prep for an interview with Der Spiegel Online. "What's that?" you may ask. Why, it's simply one of the oldest and largest German news magazines, with print circulation in excess of 800,000. Now, I'm not going to be featured in the print edition, but rather the online version, which has its own editorial staff and operates independently of the parent magazine, although they're both part of the same company. And Spiegel Online is one of the most heavily trafficked news websites in Europe. So, yay!

Jasmin Lörchner, a freelance journalist who does a lot of work for Spiegel, contacted me a couple weeks ago wanting to discuss the Chicken Ranch for an article. She did some research and I did some vacationing in the interim, and once our schedules connected we talked for more than an hour and a half. She asked thoughtful questions and got more details out of me than I'd initially planned on offering. I'm sure she didn't expect to have so many random tangents thrown at her, as one thought often reminded me of another point I thought relevant to whatever we were discussing at that moment. All in all, it was a good deal of fun. The very idea of the Chicken Ranch is somewhat absurd on the surface, but once you start going through all 170-plus years of history associated with it (many of said years being somewhat dubious in authenticity) it quickly becomes apparent just how outrageous and unbelievable the entire saga actually is.

In any event, the article should run in a few weeks. Jasmin has promised to give me a heads-up in advance of publication, so I can share with all of you faithful readers. The one drawback is that the article will be in German, which, despite my surname, I don't actually speak or read. On the bright side, the German language rights to my book are still available, so maybe this will spur some editor in Berlin to drop me a line. One can hope!

Now Playing: Jimmy Buffett Feeding Frenzy
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Friday, June 10, 2016

Friday Night Videos

Friday Night Videos

Def Leppard was huge during my high school years and I listened to their stuff just like all my classmates, buying their CDs and whatnot. For some reason, the band hasn't aged well for me. There's a sameness to their music so that it almost becomes a parody of itself. I always did like "Hysteria" though, moreso than most others I'd say. A lot of their songs get heavy airplay on 80s stations, but this one gets overlooked. Probably because it's understated. That's probably what I like about it.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... AC/DC.

Now Playing: Jimmy Buffett Boats, Beaches, Bars & Ballads
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