February 25, 2015

A Further Open Letter to Andrew Ladd

Dear Andrew Ladd,

Hi there. Sorry it's been a while. I've been pretty busy, I guess; I moved to London, and published my book in the U.K. (to some great reviews, incidentally), and I got shortlisted for the New York Public Library's Young Lions fiction award. If you'll pardon the hubris, it's been a pretty great year for me.

But anyway. I gather, as always, from my Google Alerts, that you've been busy too. You've signed some pucks. You've scored a lot of goals. You've been called for a lot of fouls. And last week, I notice, you visited a school to promote the Winnipeg Jets' children's book, The Home Team, as part of "I Love To Read Month."

Now look here, Andrew Ladd. Getting kids excited about reading is great. I'm on board with that. Kids who get excited about reading today are my meal ticket tomorrow. But dude, COME ON. It's already hard enough for me to get noticed as an author above the constant flood of news about you and your already very successful hockey career. (And now I have this jackass to contend with as well.)

So why did you have to go and start attaching yourself to books and plugging them in libraries, too? You don't catch me slapping pucks around the ice for the cameras, do you? That's your thing, and I respect you for it. So is it really too much to ask that you extend me the same courtesy?

I guess I wouldn't be so cheesed off about this, Andrew Ladd, if you hadn't so studiously ignored my book all these months. Don't get me wrong; I don't expect everyone to be totally jazzed about my depressing, acclaimed, Hebridean family saga. So after I tried tweeting you about it, and I wrote you all these open letters, and then tweets about ME started accidentally showing up in sports website feeds about YOU, and still I didn't hear a peep, I just figured: okay. Maybe he just doesn't read all that much. Maybe he doesn't care about books.

But now I find out that all this time you've been holding out on me? That you've got no qualms about promoting other people's books in public forums, and yet you can't even throw me one fricking bone? Come on, Andrew Ladd. We may not have met, may never meet, and sharing a name may not mean all that much to either of us. But it's SOMETHING, right? It's a reason to at least say, hey, millions of people who hang on my every word and step, check out this book by this other Andrew Ladd. Maybe it doesn't suck.

Anyway, Andrew Ladd. It's still I Love To Read Month, after all, so maybe it's not too late. Maybe now, just once, just a little, you can tell your adult fans to check out my book. And if not, well, shucks. I guess I'll just have to dig out those ice skates and come down to the MTS Centre after all, and see how YOU like it.

Yours, despite everything, in homonymery.

Andrew Ladd

February 13, 2015

Clooney Would Actually Make This Film, Too

From BBC News: Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed freed
Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohammed have left prison in Egypt following their release on bail.

They spent more than a year behind bars. On Thursday a court ordered their release pending a retrial this month.

They are accused of spreading false information and helping the banned Muslim Brotherhood.
In the film version of their story, Baher Mohamed will be played by George Clooney circa E.R.

The trial is due to resume later this month.

February 10, 2015

The Defense Calls Pepé Le Pew

From the New York Times: Strauss-Kahn Expected to Defend Legality of Lust at Trial
LILLE, France — Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund who is accused of participating in a global sex ring, was expected to testify on Tuesday to present a novel defense: There is nothing criminal about lust.
I believe the full argument he's presenting to the French court is: "Ma cherie, zere is nussing criminal about lust, hein?" And if you think I'm just unfairly stereotyping the French, here's an actual quote from Strauss-Kahn's lawyer, Henri Leclerc:
“I dare you to distinguish between a prostitute and a naked socialite.”
They used to say the same thing about Mitzy Goldfarb from East 73rd.
Mr. Strauss-Kahn, a high-flying former finance minister once seen as a leading contender for the French presidency, stands accused with 13 other defendants of pimping...

Mr. Strauss-Kahn has thus far been a stoic and elusive figure in the courtroom, arriving at the courthouse in a car with dark tinted windows.
Pro-tip, Dominique: if you're trying to convince people you're NOT a pimp, maybe ditch the car with tinted windows.
He has acknowledged being present at sex parties. But his defense team has said he played no part in organizing them and has insisted he was not aware that some of the women at the parties were prostitutes because they were all naked by the time he arrived...
Gee, officer! I just figured those gals musta been real hot!
[In more recent testimony] he said he might have been naïve about why the young women were there.
Annoyingly, the Times has been continuously updating the same page all day as the story has developed, so you can no longer find most of the excerpts I quote here in the link I provide above. (N.B. It is annoying that they are updating the same page rather than posting new iterations of the story on different pages. It is not annoying that they are continuing to practice journalism as new details emerge.) However, to prove I am not making this shit up, you can helpfully read all past versions of the story here.

And now, Dom, take us home. What's the Frenchest excuse you can come up with for all this?
Mr. Strauss-Kahn characterized the sex parties as libertinage, or freewheeling sex and pleasure among multiple and consensual partners, an age-old and legal practice in France dating from the 16th century.
He said that the festive nature of libertinage would have been sullied had he known that the women were being paid for sex.
"Bwuh, mais non! It would be like aving foie gras after being told ze geese were force fed! Quoi?"

The trial continues.

December 11, 2014

In Which The Author Appreciates Why Amazon Might Sometimes Be Not So Bad, or, Why British People Can't Go Anywhere

Two months ago I wrapped up Conversations With Greatness, which for the last two years has been pretty much the only regular content on this blog. The plan was to start putting the time I'd been spending on CWG into actually writing on the blog more frequently, but this hasn't happened because my timing was terrible; in November I drove up to Edinburgh for my second festival of the year here, Edinburgh's Christmas, and since then I have pretty much not had time to do anything except Edinburgh's Christmas. (Also, eat sausages. Because I also haven't had time to buy food most days, except from the German market stalls on site.)

Another thing I haven't had time to do since Edinburgh's Christmas started is go to the bookstore, to do a favour for a friend back in London who wants to give a signed copy of my book to someone for a Christmas gift. (Side note: this is probably the best idea for a Christmas gift you will come across this year. It's certainly the best one I've ever heard in my life.) Since he's still in London and I'm in Edinburgh, it seemed like the easiest thing to do would be for me to buy one here to sign and send, and get reimbursed later. So today, two weeks after promising to do so, off I went to the Waterstones on Princes Street.

I picked this Waterstones specifically, because my book was listed as in stock on their website, so I figured I wouldn't have to awkwardly ask someone if they had my own book. (As an added element of shame, Alexander McCall Smith was just leaving when I got there, having spent the evening signing copies of his book that OTHER PEOPLE were buying.) But when I went searching for my book it was neither in the Scottish Fiction section where it has previously been shelved in this store (because I've checked, because I have a sad authorly existence), nor was it in the general fiction section. So there went my ingenious plan...
ME: This is embarrassing, but... I need to buy a copy of my own book, and I can't find it.


ME [wondering what sort of tone adequately expresses "I don't expect you to know my name"]: Andrew Ladd.

KSBC: Okay... [taps at keyboard; frowns] What Ends, is it?

ME: That's the one.

KSBC: Is it... Scottish Fiction?

ME: Yes, but I checked there already and couldn't find it.

KSBC: Well, you should probably look upstairs in general fiction then. I expect it's been mis-shelved.

ME [knowing full well that it is not in general fiction, because I have already checked there too, but not wanting KSBC to feel unhelpful]: Oh, okay. Thank you.
I then went upstairs and pretended to check in general fiction again, considered asking another clerk but suddenly realised I didn't want to be the guy in the bookstore telling every employee I was an author, and finally returned downstairs to check the Scottish fiction section again, causing KSBC to cast a concerned glance in my direction from the till. After another few seconds exaggeratedly looking at the shelves for his benefit, I walked back over to him.
KSBC: Still no luck?

ME: No. Sorry.

KSBC [motioning to the clerk beside him]: Well, if you wait a second and ask my colleague, he'll probably be able to help. He's in charge of the Scottish Fiction section.

...a few moments pass...
GUY IN CHARGE OF SCOTTISH FICTION SECTION: So what was it you were looking for?

ME [now more self-conscious than ever about being the guy mentioning he's an author to every bookstore employee he sees]: It's, uh... What Ends. The book is called What Ends.

GICOSFS: Is there a question mark after that?

ME: No.

GICOSFS: Hmm. It says it's in stock. I know I've seen it. Weird.

ME [now regretting not telling him I'm the author in case KSBC has already mentioned it]: [nervous chuckle]

GICOSFS: Oh, hang on. It says it's in stock because it just came in this morning. I'll have to go get it from the back.
GICOSFS proceeded to disappear for what was probably five minutes but felt like fifteen. At one point I saw him leave the back room he had gone into and disappear into an elevator. I didn't even know this bookstore had an elevator. It was taking him so long I was really starting to regret not telling him I was the author, because if he thought I was just a normal customer this was probably no big deal, but if KSBC had mentioned it then GICOSFS was probably thinking, Jesus, who is this jackass who's sending me on a wild goose chase ten minutes before closing time to find him a copy of his own goddamn book, and won't even own up to it?

At last he reappeared clutching a copy of my book, and took me back to the till to pay. By this point I was kind of hoping that when I handed over my card he would notice my name and we could have a good laugh about it, so that I wouldn't leave with him still thinking I was jackass (or, worse, with me wondering if he thought I was a jackass)—but in the end he barely even looked at it. Then he gave me two extra stamps on my loyalty card, which he said was for "being so patient," and I was on my way.

Anyway, if you're reading, Guy In Charge Of Scottish Fiction Section at the Waterstones West End in Edinburgh: sorry if you thought I was a jackass. And thank you for being so helpful.

November 13, 2014

Burying the Hachette

From NYTimes.com: Amazon and Hachette Resolve Dispute
Amazon and Hachette announced Thursday that they had resolved their differences and signed a new multiyear contract, bringing an official end to a publishing dispute that blossomed into a major cultural and business brawl.
In an excruciating PR exercise that both companies realised was increasingly necessary, given how much money they were both losing and how petty it was starting to seem to even the most passionate observers on both sides, they expressed their satisfaction with the terms of their new agreement in breathtakingly vague, whitewashed pleasantries.
“This is great news for writers,” Michael Pietsch, Hachette’s chief executive, said in a statement. An Amazon executive, David Naggar, said Amazon was “pleased with this new agreement." [...] Neither Amazon nor Hachette would comment beyond their statements.
But the authors whose hackles were raised during the months-long negotiations are less sanguine.
“I’m relieved that Amazon and Hachette reached an agreement,” Mr. Preston [founder of Authors United, an organisation formed in response to the negotiations] said. But, he added: “If anyone thinks this is over, they are deluding themselves. Amazon covets market share the way Napoleon coveted territory.”
Mr Preston added. "I dunno, does that analogy seem forced? I feel like it seems forced. Time to kill some darlings!"
Authors United and the Authors Guild are in the midst of writing a lengthy letter to the Justice Department.
Of COURSE they are. I'd love to be a fly on the wall in that meeting.
AUTHOR 1: "Frankly, we are shocked and appalled that the government would stand by while an organisation like Amazon, whose business model alone seems sometimes to verge on antitrust, dismantles the publishing industry."

AUTHOR 2: Dismantles? Demolishes? Decimates.

AUTHOR 1: Decimates is a little melodramatic, don't you think?

AUTHOR 2: You can talk. You covet melodrama like Napoleon coveted territory.

AUTHOR 1: That analogy seems forced.

AUTHOR 2: YOU seem forced.

AUTHOR 1: I mean, why not go with Genghis Khan? Hitler? Napoleon feels awfully bland, really.

AUTHOR 3: I wrote a prologue to this preamble if someone wants to take a look!
N.B. I will still gladly accept a publishing deal with Hachette. Call me, Pietsch!

October 28, 2014

Correction of the Week

Seen on this HuffPo article about a man at Dallas airport who started trying to beat up another guy while yelling homophobic slurs:
Update: An earlier version of this story noted that Wonkette.com had reported actor Paul Rudd was part of the group that took down the homophobic bully. However, it apparently was not Rudd.
I have no idea whether the man being beaten up was actually gay, by the way. He also appears to first provoke the (drunk?) man by taking pictures of him with his phone. But the "reporting" here leaves a little to be desired, so it's hard to say. Probably because the newsgathering went like this:

HUFFPO CONTRIBUTOR: Okay, time to get to the bottom of what really happened he—OH MY GOD IS THAT PAUL RUDD? [*files report*]

Please bear with me as I (hopefully) ease back into blogging more regularly.

October 25, 2014


Got the following through my letterbox last night:

They bill themselves as a "noodle and pizza house" so I guess the "noodle" part is as in, "you will have to use your noodle to figure out just what the heck we're talking about."