Crazy lady at Barnes & Noble?

Pop Quiz: Who recognizes what is going on here?

[Answer after the video]

The entire encounter is a staged performance to promote a local production of an adaptation of Stephen King’s Misery.

Stephen King’s novel Misery was published in 1987.

In the book, author Paul Sheldon has just finished writing his latest novel when he crashes his car in a snowstorm. He is rescued by a woman named Annie Wilkes, his “number one fan” and a former nurse who takes him to her nearby home to restore his health.

Sheldon is most well known for a series of Victorian-era romance novels featuring the character Misery Chastaine, but has decided to end the series. When Annie reads the final novel, in which Misery dies, she violently forces Sheldon to write a new Misery novel.

A movie adaptation of Misery was released in 1990 starring James Caan as Paul Sheldon and Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes. Bates won the 1990 Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance.

Review: Fight Club 2, issue 1 (Dark Horse Comics)

FightClub2_1_signedFight Club 2
Issue # 1, May 2015
Dark Horse Comics

Chuck Palahniuk published Fight Club in 1996. I am Joe’s Beautiful Start to an Amazingly Twisted and Off-Beat Writing Career. Of course, most people have not read the book. They remember the amazing 1999 Brad Pitt and Edward Norton film directed by David Fincher. I am Joe’s Spoiler Warning.

Alright, well, normally I would offer a spoiler warning here, but if you haven’t seen Fight Club yet, then you probably aren’t actually reading this review.

At the end of Fight Club it was revealed that Tyler Durden was a multiple personality/figment of the narrator’s fractured mind. The narrator presumably freed himself from this alter.

Fight Club 2 begins years later with the narrator, whose name is finally revealed as Sebastian, happily married with a child. Married to Marla, who still sneaks into support group meetings. With a kid who makes homemade gunpowder.

Both Marla and Sebastian’s psychiatrist secretly awaken Tyler Durden on a regular basis without Sebastian’s knowledge. Of course, Tyler is still recruiting new soldiers but Sebastian has drugged himself into ignoring the obvious signs that Tyler is not gone. Tyler is also continuing with Project Mayhem, on a global scale.

I won’t spoil what happens next, but the end of this first issue clearly displays Palahniuk’s acumen for the unexpected. This series is certain to deliver the same twists and turns that all of his writings do.

I just wonder if they plan to turn it into a movie. Both Brad Pitt and Edward Norton could use a new hit to recapture the magic of their 1999 careers.

An Evening with Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club)

MakeSomethingUp_coverThursday night (28 May 2015) I had the extreme pleasure of attending “An Evening with Chuck Palahniuk,” presented by the Politics & Prose bookstore at Sixth & I in Washington, D. C. Palahniuk is one of my favorite authors—most famous for Fight Club, though my favorite book is Rant. The event included a signed first edition of his new collection of short stories, Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread (Doubleday, 2015) and a signed copy of the new comic book sequel, Fight Club 2 no. 1 (Dark Horse Comics), which was released on 27 May.

Palahniuk is a natural-born storyteller. His stories just happen to tend to be pretty f***ed up. Throughout the evening he read a few short stories from Make Something Up, but even his responses to audience questions evolved into the same type of twisted stories that he writes. Like the French veterinary student who was drugged with animal tranquilizers and stuffed into a hollowed-out horse carcass (true story). The event was scheduled to run until 9pm, but we didn’t get out until 10!

FightClub2_1_signedIn between the stories and the questions were several other giveaways. Everyone who asked a question received copies of various of Chuck’s books. Several times throughout the evening he tossed bags of candy into the audience. At other times he asked the audience if anyone had a dog and tossed large stuffed animals into the crowd.

The grand finale/giveaway was an amazing spectacle, however. In our bags with our signed book & comic was a clear blow-up beach ball and two glow sticks. We were instructed to blow up the ball, put the glow sticks in the center, and write our names on the ball with the Sharpies that were floating around the room. During the finale, the lights were turned off, and everyone threw their balls into the center of the room—and there were a few hundred people there. As the balls were popped up into the air, it was a pretty amazing sight! Seven of the balls were selected to receive signed, hardcover, gilted-edged first editions of Fight Club or Beautiful You (reported retail value $150). Of course, I did not win. No big surprise there—I rarely win anything that relies on “luck of the draw.”

The final part of the night was a big thank you to the hosts of the evening—the staff of Politics & Prose and Sixth & I. After giving them a huge ovation, they tossed signed rubber or plastic severed arms out into the crowd. Again, didn’t catch one. Sadly they are now selling on eBay for $70-$150.

The night was awesome—it was definitely not your typical book event, but what would you expect from an author like Chuck Palahniuk?

Top 10 Baddest Bad Guys (of all media)

When Michael Jackson (RIP) sang, “I’m Bad,” he couldn’t touch these 10 big bads. This list is not just about who was the most evil or who were the most hated bad guys. These villains all also hold the distinction of being crazy cool!

10. Khan Noonien Singh (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, 1982; Star Trek: Into Darkness, 2013)

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“I’ve done far worse than kill you. I’ve hurt you.”
(Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

Star Trek had some “bad” aliens (racists), but there was really only one true bad guy. And he was baaaad: Khan! He is such a great bad guy that he is the only character besides the crew of the Enterprise to appear in all three incarnations of the original crew: the original 1960s series, the 1980s movies, and the recent J. J. Abrams reboots.

9. Tony Montana (Scarface, 1983)

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“So say good night to the bad guy! Come on. The last time you gonna see a bad guy like this again, let me tell you.”
(Scarface)

Tony Montana, the Cuban-born Miami cocaine kingpin with the “little friend,” just won’t die in the film-ending battle royale. He finally goes out in a blaze of glory after several minutes of taking out dozens of cartel hitmen. Only film buffs know that this Scarface was itself a reboot of the 1932 Paul Muni vehicle of the same name. That “Scarface” was named “Tony Camonte,” an Italian-American bootlegger during Prohibition. The end scene is much different, with Camonte giving up to the cops in the most cowardly manner. He was also loosely based on the original “Scarface” Al Capone, who died of complications from syphilis. Al Pacino’s Montana was definitely the baddest of the Scarfaces.

8. General Zod (Superman II, 1980; Man of Steel, 2013)

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“Kneel before Zod!”
(Superman II)

It’s a good thing that 1978’s Superman was a hit, eventually grossing over $300 million worldwide. That movie began on Krypton, with Super-Man’s father banishing General Zod and his two henchmen to the Phantom Zone (a spinny mirror place). He wasn’t seen again until the 1980 sequel. And he was awesome: imagine a cold, calculating warlord with Superman powers, except cool with an awesome black uniform and goatee. (We won’t mention the deep V-neck; it was the late ’70s, after all.) Plus, Michael Shannon’s 2013 take on Zod in Man of Steel might have been the coolest thing about that movie.

7. Venom (Spider-man comics, cartoons, and movies, 1988–present)

Venom

“We are Venom. We know the evil that men do.”
(Iron Man, vol. 1, no. 302 [1994])

Venom started out as a costume change for Spider-Man introduced in the Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars crossover mini-series, became an evil alien symbiote slowly draining all of Spidey’s energy, and then became the absolute best thing that Todd McFarlane ever did (with the debatable exception of the independently published Spawn). Sadly, his one big screen appearance somehow featured Topher Grace from That 70s Show as Venom’s alter ego Eddie Brock. Despite this obvious strike against him, Venom is bad enough in the comics to deserve his place on his list.

6. The Predator (Predator movies and comics, 1987–2010)

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“You’re one ugly motherfucker!”
(spoken by Dutch [Arnold Schwarzenegger], Predator)

For the purposes of this list, I will apply the name “The Predator” to any representative of the awesome race of planet-hopping game hunters. The Predator first took out Arnold’s whole team, including Carl Weathers and Jesse “The Body” Ventura, in the jungle. Then he got loose and took out a bunch of people in Los Angeles. Next the aliens from Aliens became the Predator’s victims. Finally, it was back to the jungle, but with a whole bunch of Predators, including some that were even bigger and badder than what we had seen before. Plus they all have dreadlocks. I only hope that we haven’t seen the last of the Predator(s).

5. Hannibal Lecter (Red Dragon/ManhunterThe Silence of the LambsHannibalHannibal Rising books, TV, movies,  1981–present)

Hannibal

“You will let me know when those lambs stop screaming, won’t you?”
(The Silence of the Lambs)

Sure, he’s a cannibal, but that alone doesn’t give him this high ranking in this list. It’s the psychological games he would play with people. He toyed with minds like Play-Doh. Calm, cool, and collected. But then, just to be sure that he was a true badass, he went crazy psycho cannibal on his guards in order to escape. Then played more mind games with FBI agent Clarise Starling by telephone.

4. Keyser Söze (The Usual Suspects, 1995)

Usual Suspects

“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. And like that, poof. He’s gone.”
(The Usual Suspects)

No one paid any attention to “Verbal” Kint. To the other members of the makeshift gang of misfit criminals, he was just a handicapped scam artist. To the police he was the stupid pawn of a dirty cop. Yet he manipulated all of his enemies to be in the same place at the same time so he could take them all out in one fiery explosion. Revenge is a dish best served cold. Then he manipulated the police into letting him limp right out the front door. When he was younger, living in Turkey, and rivals tried to control him by threatening his family, Keyser Söze killed his own family first, before killing his rivals, their families, their friends, and basically burning their whole towns to the ground. “And like that, poof. He’s gone.”

3. The First Evil (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, TV, 1998–2003)

Thefirstbuffy

“Do you think I’m god?”
(Buffy the Vampire Slayer, season 7)

The only reason that this literal “source” of all evil in existence isn’t higher on the list is that it does not have a physical form. It only affects the world by appearing to individuals in various forms to manipulate them psychologically. This means not only appearing to heroes in different forms to cause confusion or self-doubt, but also doing the same to other (physical) bad guys, like the über-vampire Turok-Han.

2. The Joker (Batman comics, TV, movies, etc., 1940–present)

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“I’m going to kill everyone in this room.”
(Batman: The Dark Knight Returns [comic book, 1986])

“Tell me something, my friend… you ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?”
(Batman [movie, 1989])

The Joker first appeared in comic books seventy-five years ago! For about half that time, he was the “Clown Prince of Crime,” using silly pranks against Batman. He was as campy as he was portrayed in the 1966 Adam West Batman television show and movie. Then came the 1980s. Frank Miller, in The Dark Knight Returns (1986); Alan Moore, in The Killing Joke (1988); and Jim Starlin, in “A Death in the Family” (Batman nos. 426–29, [1988–89]) took the Joker to the next level of crazy, completely redefining the Joker as a truly psychopathic clown. He killed the entire audience in a television studio where he was being interviewed; shot Barbara “Batgirl” Gordon; tortured her father Commissioner Gordon; and then actually killed Robin! That, and he’s a clown, so he’s totally creepy and scary just on principle.

1. Darth Vader (Star Wars saga, 1977–2005)

Vader

“You underestimate the power of the dark side.”
(Star Wars: Return of the Jedi)

Some might question Darth Vader as the baddest bad guy ever. Let’s look at his actions: he killed a bunch of children at the Jedi Temple, killed his pregnant wife, blew up a planet, and tried several times to kill his son. Definitely some serious bad right there, but top this off with awesome body armor, the voice of James Earl Jones, and the ability to choke someone out with his mind via Skype! Some might argue that Vader worked for the Emperor—and that would be valid if this list was based on who was the most evil. The Emperor may have been the most evil, but Vader was definitely the baddest!

All about Fight Club 2 comic book (out 27 May 2015)

OK, so it’s old news after being first announced back in February, but here are some great things about Fight Club 2, written by creator Chuck Palahniuk and published by Dark Horse Comics.

Issue 1 will be released 27 May 2015.

A special prologue issue will be part of Dark Horse’s “Free Comic Book Day” offerings on 2 May 2015.

Click here to see exclusive artwork from Issue 1, courtesy of Rolling Stone

Click here to see a full six-page preview of Issue 1, courtesy of Playboy

Click here to read the very first review of Fight Club 2, courtesy of The Atlantic

Interviews with author Chuck Palahniuk about Fight Club 2:

MTV (27 April 2015)

About Face Magazine (Spring 2015 issue)

Maxim Magazine (27 March 2015)

Brian Michael Bendis interview for Comic Book Resources (4 May 2015)

 Interview with Scott Allie, editor-in-chief of Dark Horse Comics

Previews World, 26 May 2015