Monday, February 25, 2008

I Think She Liked It.

Darcie Gudger, from, on Knuckle Sandwich:

I love how Adam Palmer isn’t afraid to Go There – into the dark alleyways of life Christian YA [young adult] books of yesteryear either ignored, or only alluded to. Harsh reality creates emotional ties between readers and characters. Teens no longer need feel alienated by fake Christian utopias. They will see that no matter how intense the desire to “Make some noise for JESUS”, they are not immune to common temptations.


My sides ached for days because Palmer’s unparalleled humor had me gasping for air. Cradle Christians (saved at an early age) will garner the most guffaws. Palmer pokes fun at the churchy institution and its stuffy culture. His innuendoes are brilliant!


Authors such as Adam Palmer and colleagues, don’t just tell compelling stories, they change lives.

Read the whole review here, and then buy the book here, if the mood should strike you.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Oh My.


Coens speak 'Yiddish' for Columbia
Rudin producing adaptation of Chabon's 'Union'

For their next collaboration, the "No Country for Old Men" team of Joel and Ethan Coen and producer Scott Rudin will transfer another Pulitzer Prize-winning author's work into a film.

Columbia Pictures has acquired screen rights to the bestselling Michael Chabon novel "The Yiddish Policemen's Union," with the Coens writing, directing and producing with Rudin.

Chabon sets up a contemporary scenario where Jewish settlers are about to be displaced by U.S. government's plans to turn the frozen locale of Sitka, Alaska, over to Alaskan natives. Against this backdrop is a noir-style murder mystery in which a rogue cop investigates the killing of a heroin-addicted chess prodigy who might be the messiah.

The Coens will turn their attention to the book after they shoot "A Serious Man" for Working Title and Focus.

"No Country" has become the highest-grossing film for the brothers, and the pic is nominated for eight Oscars. The Coens are up for four of them, and their trophy haul so far includes WGA, SAG, DGA, PGA and BAFTA awards.

"Yiddish" is the third Chabon novel that Rudin is translating to the screen. The first was "Wonder Boys," and Rudin is developing a Paramount-based adaptation of Chabon's Pulitzer Prize-winning "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay," which Chabon scripted.

The anticipatory saliva has already begun to pool in my mouth.

Monday, February 11, 2008

2007 Media Review: Amendments.

My top five needs to be reworked, because as great as The Bourne Ultimatum and Rescue Dawn were, I'll have to bump them down to "Honorable Mention" status and replace them with a pair of movies I saw this weekend: There Will Be Blood and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

What triumphs. And interesting, in that those two pictures, along with No Country for Old Men, share similar themes, in that they are elaborate character examinations of bad guys. Anton Chigurh, Daniel Plainview, Jesse James, and Robert Ford are all men with a certain amount of disdain for regular human life, though their reasons are all varied among them (click here for Entertainment Weekly's very good comparison/contrast piece on No Country and Blood).

It is a fascinating reflection of the times in which we live. And, refreshingly, all three movies are fairly free of profanity, completely free of innuendo, and relatively tame in their depictions of violence. All three pictures have shockingly violent moments, and I wouldn't recommend any of them for the under-17 crowd, but the violence is far from the sensational, buckets-of-blood variety we see in today's current glut of "horror" pictures.

These films are all an examination of deeply flawed men, and all of them, in their own way, point to a simple truth of life, namely: "Be careful what you wish for; you just may get it."

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Thoughts Turn To Space.

I recently took in the movie Sunshine, which, as I noted previously, promised to be a thinking-man's sci-fi picture that devolved in the last half-hour to a disappointing monster flick. However, because of the thinking-man's aspects of the film, I decided to revisit a couple of thinking-man's science fiction classics: 2001: A Space Odyssey, the 1972 Tarkovsky version of Solaris, widely considered a masterpiece, and Steven Soderbergh's 2002 update of the same picture.

It's interesting to me to consider the effect Star Wars had on the science fiction industry. When it was released, 2001 predated not just the Star Wars pictures, but also the moon landing. It was contemplative, in love with imagery, and eerily prescient (Roger Ebert notes that the moon in the film looks pretty much like the actual moon landing would a year later). In the same way, the '72 Solaris is contemplative (bordering on dull), in love with imagery, and full of unresolved ideas about the nature of humanity. Suddenly, along comes Star Wars five years later, and now all the space stuff is just a backdrop for a lot of swashbuckling and cool effects.

Soderbergh's Solaris was an attempt to revive that contemplative sort of sci-fi. It has no action sequences, no overwhelming mythology, no bludgeoning of the viewer's senses with ornate setpieces that feature thousands of extras (or computer-simulated extras). It's a wonderful character piece that grapples with the same themes as the original Solaris, and, unsurprisingly, it was a box office dud. Teenagers don't pay money on Friday night to see thought-provoking character pieces that, unfortunately, cost a fortune ($47 million) to produce.

All this to say, I'm starting to think more and more about the cosmos, and the human's role in it. Consider this little bit of information, lifted from, of all things, a column that appears weekly on

Recently, astronomers from Middlebury College discovered one of the fastest-moving large objects ever observed, a neutron star, designated RX J0822-4300, which appears to have been hurled away from a supernova that exploded about 3,700 years ago. Using the Chandra X-ray telescope in orbit around Earth, the astronomers calculated that the neutron star is moving about 3 million miles per hour and will, over the course of time, exit the Milky Way, hurtling into the intergalactic void. The incredible speed of RX J0822-4300 offers an opportunity to put cosmic velocity and distance into perspective. Since light moves at about 671 million miles per hour, the star is traveling at slightly under one-half of 1 percent of light speed. That means the star has traversed about 20 light-years since Hammurabi was king of Babylonia. It would take the star 20 million years to cross our galaxy from one end to the other, another 350 million years to reach the next-closest galaxy to ours.

Observation of this star tells us it is physically possible to accelerate a very heavy object to a measurable fraction of light speed; some physicists had contended that might always be impossible. Now that we know it can be done, we should assume humanity someday will accomplish this artificially. So let's suppose humanity someday builds a spaceship capable of one-half of 1 percent of light speed. (The fastest manmade object so far, the New Horizons space probe currently bound for Pluto, had a peak velocity of .007 percent of light speed, meaning the neutron star is moving about 75 times faster.) If humanity someday builds a spaceship capable of moving as fast as the neutron star, such technology would open up the solar system to every conceivable shenanigan. A ship moving at half of 1 percent of the speed of light could reach Mars in about 10 hours and be at Saturn in about a day. But a spaceship moving at half of 1 percent of light speed would still be a rowboat compared with cosmic distances -- requiring 800 years to reach the nearest star to our sun and 6 million years to reach the galactic center.

This thing is big, y'all. Much bigger than our limited vision, of science fiction genre films, of humanity.


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

It's High School, But It Ain't Musical.

So I got an actual-factual copy of The High School Survival Guide in the mail yesterday, and I gotta say: Bravo, NavPress. It looks great, you guys. Nice trim size, great cover, with the art theme cleverly worked in throughout the pages. It definitely is a smashing package that goes well with graduations, football/basketball/wrestling/baseball/competitive speech championship celebrations, gift-giving occasions (Presidents' Day is just around the corner!), or just because.

I've seen many iterations of this book, from the Microsoft Word document I shipped off to the publisher electronically, to the copy-edited and printed Microsoft Word document I received from them, to the print-out stack-o'-paper version I got back from them after it had made the rounds through the design team. But there's something about seeing it in actual book form that makes it feel so real.

Also, there's something about seeing it in book form that causes me to palpitate immensely and find a myriad of things I wish I'd done differently. Most humorously, this time around, is the acknowledgment I gave Evan Taylor at the front, thanking him for snapping the author photo that graces the back pages of my books (and the upper left-hand corner of this websites). Then I flip it over to look at the back cover and find... no photo. NavPress left it off for some reason.

Okay, that's the only thing I'll tell you. You'll have to find all my other palpitation-inducing nitpicks on your own.

(P.S. As I write, this the book is the 2,969,830th best-seller over there at that one website.)