I just finished READING: Imperial Bedrooms

imperial bedrooms

Imperial Bedrooms is the sequel to Less Than Zero and Bret Easton Ellis (the author of both) sure knows it.

From the first words of the first chapter he slides right back into the same familiar stylistic choices that made the first book so memorable, only this time it all falls very, very flat.

Let me explain.

In Less Than Zero the entire book read like one long thought process. It didn’t really have a plot, it just, sort of, existed. As you read you go from the beginning of winter break to the end and see some incredibly terrible things along the way, and because it’s almost like you’re parked behind the protagonist’s eyes you feel like you’re there. Nothing seems staged, nothing seems planned. Nothing seems like fiction.

In Imperial Bedrooms Mr. Ellis tries to inject traditional storytelling mechanisms like a jilted lover and a murder mystery into this same winning style. These mechanisms immediately shatter the idea that everything is just happening. The reality that what you’re reading is just a story and not some crazy first hand memoir is instantly apparent, and as a result the entire thing loses its most compelling element. What you’re left with is a poorly concocted mystery novel that doesn’t really have a mystery. Oh and it, like Less Than Zero, is randomly punctuated throughout with graphic descriptions of over-the-top violence. Only this time, because you’re not as attached, it all just seems excessive and disgusting. It’s weak sauce.

In its defense though, IB has an incredibly smart first 30ish pages where Mr. Ellis runs down how the characters all got from Less Than Zero to the present day. Beyond that though it just withers.

I did not enjoy reading this book.

And beyond that, I don’t know what else I can say.

Brighton Beach Memoirs Review for ILiveInDallas.com

Brighton Beach Memoirs

I recently tried my hand at theatre reviewing for the always-excellent ILiveInDallas.com. The play I placed under my critical microscope was Brighton Beach Memoirs at the Contemporary Theatre of Dallas. I don’t want to give away the ending of my review (because you should all go HERE and read it) but I really enjoyed the show and highly recommend it to all of you.

It’s only playing for one more weekend so get down to the CTD and check it out ASAP. Go HERE for more details.

As for me and theatre reviewing, while I don’t see it as being my future career I enjoyed putting this one together and hope to write some more in the future.

So look out thespians because there’s a new word monkey on the Dallas drama beat. YEAH!

I just finished READING: Less Than Zero

Less Than Zero cover

Less Than Zero is a vivid gallery of miserable, over-stimulated rich kid assholes in 1980’s Los Angeles. It doesn’t really have a story or any sort of character arc. It just sort of happens.

And for that reason, it’s a masterpiece.

It’s written from the perspective of the most likable of these assholes, a guy named Clay. Over the span of 200 pages Clay comes home from college for Christmas break, meets up with his old friends (who include an ex-girlfriend, a former friend turned heroin addict/male prostitute, a drug dealer and several other overly-tanned, drug addicted, sexually irresponsible types) and realizes that his entire world is a mess.

But don’t let that short summary fool you into thinking that this book moves like a traditional novel moves. It doesn’t. This book just glides by documenting everything going on in Clay’s life. It’s almost like a diary.

It’s captivating stuff. I can’t recommend it enough.

And if you like Less Than Zero, I recommend going out and getting the just-released sequel (yes, sequel): Imperial Bedrooms. I’m reading it now and over the first 50 pages it’s proving to be more of the same style, albeit 25 years later.

Go read. Do it.

ITE Update: 300 posts and counting

300 movie poster

Today was a momentous day in my blogging career. I posted my 300th (and 301st… I was on a roll) articles to in-this-economy.com, the site I helped give birth to about 17ish months ago. While my posts haven’t always been brilliant, they’ve all been a lot of fun to write.

And now, to celebrate me turning 300, I’d like to present a hastily crafted list of some of my favorite posts from ITE.

And yes, I realize just how insanely narcissistic this is. I’m writing a blog post compiling my own blog posts. But hey, this is my personal blog and I feel like tooting my own horn… so yeah.

Ok, here goes.

NINE AWESOME POSTS

(presented in no particular order)

1. The economic upside to Patrick Swayze’s death

Insensitive? Yes. Thought-provoking? Maybe.

Unfortunately for the economy too much time has passed to put my product-placement-plan into action, but I’m confident that if we just would have moved quicker we could’ve added “economic Godsend” to Patrick’s already strong list of achievements. Such a pity. R.I.P., dude.

2. Drocolate’s favorite music from 2009

This one has to make my meta list because it’s a great example of me doing something that I don’t do that often — write positively. The vast majority of my ITE work is pretty negative, so when I get the chance to write something gracious it presents an initial challenge.

This one is also good because it’ll give you some solid music recommendations from last year. Yes.

3. Donating bodily stuffs

This was the first real post I did for ITE and it’s still one of my favorites. It’s semi-informative, humorous and it manages to work in a Vincent Gallo reference. That’s a big fat “mission accomplished” right there.

4. Shithead trading card #5: Annette Yeomans

I have such fond memories of this one. The story was so perfect: A woman was stealing money from her company and spending it on things like shoes and closet upgrades. It was a really under-reported story so this article became an early SEO success story for ITE, which gave me my first brush with Internet crazies from both the pro- and anti-Yeomans camps. All in all, it was a fun one.

5. The facebook quizzes just won’t stop.

I wrote three posts about my hatred for facebook quizzes but this one, the middle one, was the best. It was my Empire Strikes Back… or something.

6. The Healthcare Reform Town Hall Psycho Cutout

This one showcases my INCREDIBLE Photoshop skills. And my flair for political humor. It’s definitely one of my favorites if for the Nick Nolte image alone.

7. 5 new and creative ways to get your resume out there

This one is just fun. And I kind of think some of these ideas may work. But definitely not the X-ray-sume… that one is just silly.

8. Top 5 untapped money-making ideas: July ’09 edition

I’ve done a lot of these untapped money-maker posts but I think this one might be my favorite. The Bush and Bush gag and the home plate key-hider are just awesome. And ridiculous. And awesome. And that Crumblies cookbook still makes me gag a little.

9. WASTE OF MONEY: Olive Garden

I’ve written a ton of these WASTE OF MONEY articles but this one still stands out as one of my favorites. It had references to Sarah Palin, Wendy’s, Chef Boyardee AND it had some Youtube clips. It had it all! Yes!

Ok, I think I’m sufficiently sick of myself now.

Here’s to the next 300.

SXSWi is coming soon!

SXSWITE

Starting this Thursday I’ll be attending the 2010 SXSW Interactive Festival down in Austin, TX. This will be my first SXSW experience and I couldn’t be more excited to get down there and take it all in.

To help myself better prepare for the fest I wrote a five-part preview over at ITE. It goes through each day of the interactive portion of SXSW and picks out 10 must-see events per day. Check it out:

And none of that really gets into the best part. The best part will be on the second day at 11am when in-this-economy.com makes its SXSW session premiere as a co-presenter at the Citizen Journalism Brigade core conversation. For more information on that, go HERE.

I don’t update this personal site nearly enough (if this and ITE were my two children… this would definitely be the neglected one), so I wanted to get the word out about the exciting week ahead. I’ll definitely make more of an effort to update this site while I’m down there.

And remember to check ITE often… because I really do love that child a little bit more.

OVER AND OUT.

Facial cHAIRity is back!

facial chairity

Every year the Donorschoose.org group does a program where benevolent dudes with lots of face testosterone rally together and grow mustaches, beards and everything in between in exchange for any donations their friends and family can muster. Now I understand that in my case there is very little novelty to me having a beard or even a disgusting lip broom (as I tend to grow these accessories on a semi-regular basis), so I am basically just doing anything I can to bring a great cause to your attention.

Check out my profile HERE. Bask in the brilliant glow of my pic for a moment before reading about some of the projects I am sponsoring. If you can donate anything, do it. The kids you’ll be helping will really appreciate it. And so will I. And so will my mustache.

HERE is that link once again. It’s also HERE. And HERE.

I participated in this program last year and raised $1,169 for DFW classrooms. I’d like to raise even more this year so please donate.

If you have any questions send me a note by clicking HERE.

Thank you in advance, and my mustache loves you all.

AT&T Portfolio Simplification Letter Kit

AT&T Portfolio Simplification Letter Kit1

AT&T Portfolio Simplification Letter Kit Envelope (Click to enlarge)

I wanted to include this piece in my portfolio because it was one of the most successful pieces I have ever worked on. And when I say successful, I’m not talking about it being successful in a creative way (though it does look great), I’m talking about actual results.

Due to a perfect storm of factors (a fertile target market, seasonality, engaging creative, etc.) this piece did extremely well and yielded very high response rates. It was a really rewarding experience.

And like I said above, it looks great.

The letter is below:

AT&T Portfolio Simplification Letter Kit2

AT&T Portfolio Simplification Letter Kit Letter (Click to enlarge)

Click HERE to return to my portfolio.

TXU Green Self-mailer

TXU Green Self-mailer1

TXU Green Self-mailer Front (Click to enlarge)

TXU Energy was offering a new plan and wanted to put out a DM piece to let everyone know. The new plan was a more environmentally conscious option that used a percentage of wind power, so I concepted around that idea. The results were a fun take on both saving money, and saving the Texas environment.

Plus, to top it all off, we printed it on recycled paper.

Here’s the inside:

TXU Green Self-mailer2

TXU Green Self-mailer Inside (Click to enlarge)

Click HERE to return to my portfolio.

DSVC Rough Magazine; Volume 16, Issue 133 — Fresh Face Auto-Interview

Derek Fresh Face1

DSVC Rough Magazine-Volume 16-Issue 133-Fresh Face Interview Page 1 (Click to enlarge)

You could call it an auto-interview. Or maybe an intraview.

For my third foray into the world of the DSVC Rough magazine I was given the amazing opportunity to interview myself. The work that came out was equal parts insane and informative.

Well, maybe it was a little more insane than informative, but it was a lot of fun to write.

Check out a couple other examples of my work for the Rough HERE and HERE.

And check out my schizophrenic interview below:

DSVC Rough Magazine-Volume 16-Issue 133-Fresh Face Interview2

DSVC Rough Magazine-Volume 16-Issue 133-Fresh Face Interview Page 2 (Click to enlarge)

DSVC Rough Magazine-Volume 16-Issue 133-Fresh Face Interview3

DSVC Rough Magazine-Volume 16-Issue 133-Fresh Face Interview Page 3 (Click to enlarge)

Plus, this entire issue of the Rough was made in a flip book style. It was really awesome. Check it out here:

Thanks to the DSVC and to Jeremy Sharp for the gig.

Click HERE to return to my portfolio.