Friday, February 26, 2010

Bad Attitude now available for Kindle!

Oh the bittersweet irony! Bad Attitude is now available on a widget! If you’ve read the book, then you’ll savour this quirk of fate. And if you haven’t…well, you need to follow the mis-adventures of Jesse Durnell, world’s most bitter widget-salesman as he tries to navigate the spurious employee policies of Electronics Pit and the nebulous void of wage-slavery in the BRAND NEW KINDLE EDITION!

Yes! Bad Attitude is available in all its digital glory for Amazon’s ebook reader. It’s cheap - $5.99 - and illustrated. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will make you laugh again, it will make you never look at the world of retail the same again!

But don’t trust me – here is a review from one of the readers on Amazon:

McGinnis has done an astounding job of capturing a sense of alienation from consumer culture, and at the same time providing a dead-on account of working for a mind-numbing corporation in retail. It'd be great to see this find a cult following behind cash registers across the country.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tim Burton at MoMA

One of my favourite directors, Tim Burton, whose films I would say have been significantly influential on my writing, has an exhibition on at the Museum of Modern Art in New York from November 22, 2009-April 26, 2010.

I, and most of the people reading this blog probably, live nowhere near New York so it’s unlikely I’ll be able to attend. HOWEVER, you can view much of the exhibition online here and even better, there is also a great behind-the-scenes interview with Mr. Burton over here where he talks about his influences, the correlation between drawing and film, and what’s the deal with his love of stripes?

Definately worth a look-see.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Scientists discover MERCH!

For the man or woman in your life who has everything...but Red Fez merch!

Yes! Just when you thought poetry couldn't be turned into a t-shirt...or artistic sensibilities into a beer stein...Red Fez has done it! Our secret labs have been at work for months on a very serious question: How do we improve the state of underground and independent poets and authors everywhere, spread the good word of the Fez and maybe even create some revenue stream to support this wild-eyed volunteer run website which loses money every year?

So those lab-coated scientists went away to their cave of science, smashed some particles together, poured some blue liquid into some yellow liquid and then measured their toenails with some expensive caliper-thingy and then hypothesized that Red Fez was drastically short of the chemical element MERCHANDISE!

Emergency action was, of course, needed and so our graphic design/zoology department was immediately set to the task to creating t-shirts, mugs and more. Which are now available at the Red Fez store. We’re hoping you’ll like and buy them, because otherwise we’ll have to let our science staff go.

Sincerely yours,
Leopold McGinnis
Founding Editor of The Red Fez

Monday, February 8, 2010

Athabasca University Press to publish my new book!

Yes! I have fooled another publishing house into believing my work is ‘visionary’*! Oh frabjuous day! Oh supercalifragilisticexpialidotious!

This is good news indeed! AU Press is a pretty good feather to have under your cap – not only are they one of the few academic presses in the country to publish fiction/poetry, but they are also very well regarded for the quality of their publications. It will be an honour to be part of their list. I’m fairly certain they have good distribution too, so you may even see Zeus and the Giant Iced Tea in a bookstore! Wild.

Actually, I received word sometime last week that the press had decided to publish my second collection of poetry, but knowing the small press, and considering my previous history, I didn’t want to say anything until the papers arrived and I had signed them for fear of jinxing it all. They still need to be signed off by the press, but…well, I couldn’t hold it in any longer.

I have confidence that they will go ahead with my book, though, because of the quality of the assessor reviews. Before accepting a book, AU Press sends it out to two or three experts in the industry (other authors, etc…) and asks for their feedback. Based on that feedback, they either accept the book, or ask the author to respond to the assessments and then make a final decision. In this case, though, they didn’t even ask me to respond…which is something of a literary slam dunk! Both assessments were VERY positive, and it was kind of surreal reading almost full essays on my work - a book that’s not even published yet. Weird, too, because I’ve never even had one essay written about any of my published work. Very cool experience.

Anyway, I’d like to post some of that here, but I’m not sure what I can and cannot share at this point. I’ll be talking with the fine folk at AU Press over the next few weeks to figure out how we go ahead…and give you some updates and maybe a few poems from the collection and what the reviewers thought, if I can.

*Yes, this word was actually used in one of my assessments! I’m going to inflate my head right now to maximize my ego before it gets popped.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Thief and the Cobbler

I remember at some point in junior high, not long after Disney’s classic Aladdin was released, coming across advertisements for an animated film called Arabian Night. For me at the time is was a transparent knockoff riding and my initial reaction was disgust. What about producing good original art? It saddened me to see so much money and talent dumped into derivative rip offs. Sadly, at the time I was not aware of the true tragedy of Arabian Night, and I use tragedy in the artistic sense of the word.

Arabian Night, rather than a case of Hollywood screwing up by producing a knock-off, was in fact the very opposite. A rare case of Hollywood taking a breathtakingly original idea, and a man’s life work, and…screwing it up. It was only until I very recently stumbled across the film trailer for The Thief and the Cobbler on You Tube that the true story of Arabian Night unfolded.

To quote the wikipedia article on the film:

Richard Williams' magnum opus, a painstakingly hand-animated epic inspired by the Arabian Nights and with the production title The Thief and the Cobbler, was begun in 1968 and was initially self-funded. As a largely non-verbal feature meant for an adult audience, The Thief was initially dismissed as unmarketable. After over twenty years of work, Williams had completed only twenty minutes of the film, and following the critical success of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Williams sought and secured a production deal with Warner Bros. in 1990. However, the production went over deadline, and in 1992, with only 15 minutes left to complete, The Completion Bond Company, who had insured Warners' financing of the film, feared competition from the similarly themed Disney film Aladdin and seized the project from Williams in Camden, London. Completion Bond then had the animation completed in Korea under the direction of animator Fred Calvert. Calvert's product was released internationally in 1994 as The Princess and the Cobbler. Miramax then acquired rights to the project and extensively rewrote and reanimated the film to include continuous dialogue and to add several musical interludes. Miramax's product was released in 1995 under the title Arabian Knight.

Having not seen Arabian Knight, I can’t make any claims to the quality of that film, the (lost) backstory to the film is tragic – but what makes the story all the more magical and, yes, uplifiting is that fans of William’s work have pieced together much of William’s original vision from Arabian Night and the cutting and designing room floor to create a ‘recobbled’ version - a film much truer to Richard Harris’ original concept. A look at the trailer for the ‘director’s cut’ should convince you it’s worth watching. But better yet, the entire recobbled film is available on You Tube in 11 parts.

It’s really a lovely film in its novel and unusual approach to animation and its willingness to spend time experimenting on pain-staking details such as backgrounds, and optical illusional camera pans. The film is all the more remarkable on this front in the land of computer animation - that this is all hand done is really quite remarkable and charming.

Check it out, it’s a great film in its own right, with the added interest of its cematic history, and art vs. commerce narrative giving it that much more artistic pull.