Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I love me some Neil Gaiman.

I don't think I've mentioned this before, but I'm a big fan of Neil Gaiman. Neil, in case you don't know, is one of the best writers of supernatural fiction working today. He made his mark writing the 90s-era Vertigo comic THE SANDMAN and is also the author of a number of most excellent novels (and big sellers) like AMERICAN GODS and ANANSI BOYS. If you want to know more about Neil, check out his web site and pick up, oh, just about anything he's written.

I'm mentioning him today because lately I've been reading old trade paperbacks of THE SANDMAN and am really loving it. It's creepy, twisted stuff. There's no way I could accurately describe the plot, but if you enjoy graphic novels - and even if you don't - I think you'd like it.

In one of those weird-coincidence type of things, I happened to finish watching Beowulf (the semi-animated film with Ray Winstone in the title role) this morning. (I watch DVDs on my laptop while walking on my treadmill at the crack of 5:45 a.m.) I got to the end, started watching the credits, and who was listed as the co-writer and co-producer? Yep. Neil Gaiman. No wonder I enjoyed it so much.

There's actually a remote chance that Neil and I may have something in common sometime down the road. His agent, Merrilee Heifetz, is currently reading my ACOUSTIC KITTY manuscript. I don't have a literary agent but very much would like to have one so I can have a shot at getting KITTY carried in bookstores everywhere. Keep your fingers crossed; Merrilee is, by all accounts, a fantastic agent, and I'd be very lucky to work with her. She also represents the bestselling author (and St. Louis resident) Laurell K. Hamilton, another crazy-good writer. Who knows if Merrilee will sign me, but heck, I'm honored to have her even consider the notion.

The moral of the story: read a lot, and when you do, find some time for Neil Gaiman stuff. And Laurell K. Hamilton, while you're at it. Oh, and keep your fingers crossed.

The downside to knowing Bob The Excellent.

First of all, before I forget, today is Fringe Day, so if you haven't yet, go check out the latest column. I actually think it's pretty good. I liked it, anyway.

Anyway, that's not the point of this post. The point of this post is to share with you a funny e-mail I got today from my friend Raymee. It read thusly:

i'm considering having a party at my house. the theme of this party will be MEET BOB. here is why.

every week, without fail, a friend will read your column and then write to me (politely including the link) and asking me things about you. is he really funny in person? (to which i reply "no he is an enormous ape" which does not answer the question at all but communicates my opinion of you nonetheless). what was it like to work with bob everyday? (to which i reply "it was like having the life sucked out of me by vampires at the bottom of the sea...but, this one time, in vegas...") is he really tall? (to which i reply "he is an enormous ape).

hope you're happy.

Yeah, all the rotten grammar and lower-case letters were in the original e-mail. I think Raymee does that because she knows it gets on my nerves. We have a special relationship like that.

I do think it's really funny when people act like I'm some kind of celebrity or extra-cool person. I'm convinced that anyone who does will be crushingly disappointed to meet me, as in person I can, at times, exude the personality and charm of a stunned halibut.

Here's how I responded to Raymee:

If you do have this party, I will attend, upon certain conditions:

1. I am carried in and out on one of those thrones like the old Egyptians used, which required four people to lift and move.

2. My throne shall be carried by strippers, all of whom will respond to the name Debbie.

3. The strippers shall be covered in butter and nothing else.

4. A lavish feast of nachos, pizza and cheeseburgers will be prepared for me, by strippers covered in butter and nothing else.

5. All will address me as "Your Most Excellently Good Looking Genius."

6. All must bring copies of "Acoustic Kitty" for me to sign. I shall, however, sign none of them.

Please advise.

She said she's thinking about it. I don't think she's telling the truth, though.

And for the record, I was joking about the butter.

Friday, June 20, 2008


So check this out...ACOUSTIC KITTY is getting reader reviews over on Amazon. I am proud to report that thus far KITTY is average a perfect five out of five stars on reviews. Yep, all three of the people who reviewed my book gave it five stars.

I actually am excited about this. Yeah, it's only three people, but for three folks to buy the book, read it, go to the trouble of writing a review, and then give it a perfect score...well, I think that's pretty cool. Baby steps, folks, baby steps.

Here's what the good people wrote:

Entertaining, March 24, 2008
By T. Raymond
I haven't laughed from a book in a very long time. Could not put the book down! Worth your time!

Very entertaining, June 10, 2008
By J. Heick
I enjoy Bob Rybarczyk's weekly newspaper column so I decided to give his book a try. Now at first it was a slow buildup but by page 100, I was laughing out loud. I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the book! I enjoyed his characters, from nerds who only know work, the single mom working because of the good pay, the military vet who lives to shoot something, and the team leader who is all show. Here you find that nothing and no one is what they seem. It's great fun to learn the different layers of the characters, their interactions with each other, and the poor cats... Hello Mr. President!

Faithful column reader turned book fan, May 20, 2008
By C. Behr (Jefferson City, MO)
I've been reading Bob's column for years, so I was excited to read this book. I was thoroughly entertained, even though I typically read books written about women or from the female perspective. The story is humorous and original, with interesting characters.

See? That's not too shabby. I don't even know any of these people. (If I did I can only assume they would have given me horrible scores.)

In order to put these remarkable reviews into perspective, I compared my perfect 5.0 score to that of other allegedly good novels. Here are the average reader scores of a few other books you may have heard of:

  • WHEN YOU ARE ENGULFED IN FLAMES, David Sedaris, 4.0 stars (#4 seller on Amazon today)
  • THE DA VINCI CODE, Dan Brown, 3.5 stars
  • IT, Stephen King, 4.5 stars
  • THE FIRM, John Grisham, 4.5 stars

So there you have it. ACOUSTIC KITTY is better than those other not-quite-as-good novels.

Really, there's no excuse for you to not own a copy. I'm sure of this.

Sounds like I was right.

In this week's Fringe, I wrote about funny t-shirts and wondered if anyone actually wears them in public, despite the fact that retailers seem to keep selling them. My guess is that people only wear them at home, when nobody else can see. Sounds like I might be right. Check out this e-mail from a guy named John:

I'm totally with you on this, but even more so, I capitalize on it. I have two online websites selling funny shirts of my design. Mostly they are "reworkings" of other funny shirts I've seen, but some of them are 100% original designs. Some are just funny or popular quotes from movies and such. One of my sites is geared directly toward adults, the other is a more kid based store with funny shirts for babies and toddlers.Personally, I don't wear ANY of my shirts. I can never think of an occasion to wear a shirt that says "REAL MEN CHANGE DIAPERS", but I'll sell you one. The kid's shop is my big seller though. People are unreasonable when buying things for kids. They'll easily drop their cash in my mailbox for a witty shirt that their kid will fit into for exactly one month. It's ridiculous, but who am I to turn down their money. Anyway, I just wanted you to know that not even the people selling the shirts think that they're quality stuff. I mean, sure I'll feel proud of a particularly clever design or witty phrase, but I would never wear it.

And thus is my awesomeness once again entirely confirmed.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

That figures.

So today's Suburban Fringe is all about how we don't get a spring any more in the Midwest; we just have winter and summer. I spend a great deal of time in the column complaining that we only had a few really nice days before the blistering summer heat settled in.

I went outside just now and lo and behold, it's gorgeous. Sunny, clear and about 75, I'd guess. In other words, the exact type of day I was saying doesn't really exist around here anymore.


Sometimes I think the weather is proof that God exists and that he is having a lot of chuckles at our expense.