About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Monday, August 6, 2018

San Jose - here I come!

My second WorldCon in San Jose, and it's starting next week.

Here are some things I remember from ConJose in 2002:

John Hemry/Jack Campbell and I went looking for lunch, and we walked and walked and walked on a kind of hot day, and we never exactly found the restaurant.  John still holds this against me.  And I kind of can't blame him.  But, like -- there was barely MapQuest in 2002, let alone the wonder of Google Maps.

Tobias Buckell isn't a client of mine any longer, but I had the honor of representing him at the start of his career, and we had a pretty long chat at the Starbucks in downtown, around the corner from the Waldenbooks now long since gone, about the wonderful novel that became Crystal Rain.  The Starbucks is still there, and I'll think fond thoughts of Toby and Crystal Rain every time I pass by.

It was an adventure getting to the party floors at the Fairmont, finding the secret stairs to walk up and up and up because the elevator service wasn't up to it.  Sadly, this is a familiar story at lots of conventions.  Rarely do hotels have elevator service designed for peak hours.

The Marriott didn't exist yet.

Those were the days when you could still head out and catch a mall bookstore, a B&N, a Borders, more -- all in close proximity.  I visited sooooo many bookstores in 2002.  Borders in Milpitas and Los Gatos and Fremont and Emeryville and Dublin and San Ramon and here and there and lots of other bookstores besides.  The store in Milpitas, not far from the Cisco HQ, was a fabulous store for science fiction and fantasy.  And back then, the front of the store wasn't being sold off to the highest bidder and was still largely determined by what was doing well at each store, so you knew the moment you walked in that you were in science fiction heaven.  L. E. Modesitt visited as many or more bookstores as I did, and however many I went to in 2002, but he had a car.

Still around, the Barnes & Noble on Steven Creek Pkwy, which I took the bus out to, and which was an amazing store as well for science fiction and fantasy.  I kind of miss when my life was a little less busy, a little simpler, and I could more easily explore the world beyond WorldCon when I went to a WorldCon.

Meisha Merlin did exist.  

In any event, it's sixteen years later with one World Fantasy at San Jose between now and then.

Maybe you can help me create some new memories this year?

There are three JABberwocky authors up for Hugo Awards this year -- Marie Brennan, Suzanne Palmer and Brandon Sanderson.  The last time I was in San Jose, I had read some Brandon Sanderson but not yet Elantris, and we weren't officially author/agent for another six months.  

My 2018 schedule:

Friday, 11am, 211C in Convention Center
Negotiating Book Contracts

Saturday, 3pm, 211B in Convention Center
Kaffeeklatsch
This event will require an advance registration through the convention

The link on internet to my schedule page is here:

For another couple of days, I've opened an express line for querying me.  If you are going to San Jose, and if you put WorldCon in your schedule line, we'll give top priority to looking at queries.  What better way to find a great new manuscript for me to take on, and maybe even talk about it at the Starbucks just like I got to talk about Crystal Rain with Tobias Buckell sixteen years ago.
Find my query guidelines here.

I'd love to have more panels on my schedule, so more definite places where you can hear me speak, find me after, collect a business card -- that sort of thing.  But I'm going to WorldCon to be part of it.  I'll be around the Dealer's Room when I can be, so maybe you'll find me roaming about there.  If you're a SFFWA member, I'll pop into their hospitality suite.  I'll be hanging at whatever hotel bar all the publishing people end up hanging at.  I like to visit the different bid parties or publishing parties, so sometimes at night it's just a question of being in the right place at the right time as I rotate from the bar to the SFFWA suite to the bid parties to a publisher party.  And wherever I am, unless I'm in a meeting I'm there to meet people.

WorldCon, Baby!

WorldCon!!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Balticon 52 - Program Schedule

Can't wait to be back at Balticon this Memorial Day weekend, and am sharing my full program schedule below.  The convention and all of the events are at the Renaissance Inner Harbor hotel.

This is a special convention for me.  Balticon was the first convention I attended as a pro, heading down to meet up with Elizabeth Moon the year she won the Compton Crook Award for best first novel for Sheepfarmer's Daughter, which is about to be reissued in a 30th anniversary trade paperback edition, with a new introduction from Elizabeth.  Last year's Balticon was where I sat down in the Renaissance, read the opening page of Nick Martell's The Kingdom of Liars, and knew instantly that I'd found a great new author, ultimately doing my best deal ever for a debut author.

Balticon has done a great job keeping with the times, broadening its program to appeal to a wide range of ages and a wide range of interests, all unified by their love of science fiction and fantasy in all its many forms.

It's a great opportunity to get some quality time with me.  JABberwocky client Jack Campbell is also attending; link to his schedule follows mine.

JOSHUA'S SCHEDULE

Friday May 25, 2018, 6pm
Intellectual Property and You
St. George
James R. Stratton (moderator), Harold Feld, Joshua Bilmes, Doc Coleman
What you need to know about the legal framework for protecting your works.

Sunday, May 27, 11am
Best Books on Writing
Mount Washington
Joshua Bilmes (moderator), Val Griswold-Ford, Sarah Pinsker, Scott Edelman, Marilyn "Mattie" Brahen
What books should you have on your shelf when you're trying to read about writing?

Sunday, May 27,  5pm
How to Incorporate Critique
Guilford
Joshua Bilmes (moderator), Day Al-Mohamed, John Appel, Leah Cypess, Alan Smale, Rosemary Claire Smith
What do you do when you have two readers giving you different or even contradictory feedback? How much are you willing to let the feedback change your work?

Sunday, May 27,  8pm
Long Live the King: The Success of Black Panther
St. George
John Edward Lawson (moderator), Joshua Bilmes, Inge Heyer, Devin Jackson Randall
Black Panther shattered box office records from the time tickets went on sale. What about the writing and visual storytelling resonated so strongly with audiences?

Sunday, May 27,  9pm
Tales From the Slush Pile
Mount Washington
Joshua Bilmes, Neil Clarke, John Edward Lawson
Editors share tales of some of the gems they’ve received, and give advice on how to avoid becoming fodder for future panels like this.

Monday, May 28, 10am
Who Cares About the Critics?
Room 8006
Track: Television/Film
TV and film crtiics have a habit of panning genre works, even if it's exactly what the audience wants. What's the disconnect?

Monday, May 27,  11am
Pitches We're Sick Of (and Ones We Want to See)
Mount Washington
Sarah Avery (moderator), Joshua Bilmes, Neil Clarke
Agents and editors discuss trends in submissions.

ALSO ATTENDING:

Jack Campbell, website and con schedule

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Three Oscars Outside Hollywood, CA -- the 2018 Oscar Live Blog

11:55 PM - 3:53, but thought it moved at a decent clip. At the end of the day, no great surprises.

11:46 PM - Three Humbugs Outside Queens, New York.

11:37 PM - "We'll be opening this envelope when we come back."

11:22 PM - I melt in Timothee Chalamet's smile.

11:20 PM - John Avildsen for Rocky, Jonathan Demme for Philadelphia, Michael Ballhaus for Fabulous Baker Boys, Roger Moore when all I wanted was a sweet distraction for an hour or two, Sam Shephard for The Right Stuff,

11:14 PM - del Toro not my first choice, but he gave a really nice speech.

10:59 PM - well, multiple great scores had to lose, and no complaints here about what won.

10:56 PM - This Is Me. Best for Last. The only musical number when I closed by iPad to watch the whole number without distraction. What a great number,more at performance, great anthem. Can this please win? And the movie such a word of mouth audience driven hit.

10:51 PM - Deakins!

10:38 PM - Screenplay was an interesting race. A school of thought for Three Billboards, but even people who liked it often didn't like it all the way through. A lot of love in the room for Jordan Peele and Get Out. And his speech was on the long side but had a vivid passion and purpose, as did the movie. It captured a moment without every trying to be important or worthy. Have sometimes told my clients not to worry too much about theme in writing, because theme arises from whom they are, and whom they are provides guide rails which will provide the theme. Tell a good story, the theme takes care of itself.  The speech Michael Stuhlberg delivers in Call Me By Yoir Name -- the acting puts it over and it's a really really good speech, but doesn't it also show a lack of confidence in the writing to put across the message without announcing it?  I'm not upset or surprised to have a win for Call Me By Your Name, but doesn't make me more of a fan of that style of filmmaking.

10:35 PM - Listening to the long, worthy, stolid acceptance speech from James Ivory encapsulates in a minute or so my general dislike of the Merchant Ivory school.

10:32 PM - Len Wein didn't last long enough to hear his name read on an Oscar telecast.

10:16 PM - There are only nine awards left to go. I actually think they're doing a not bad job moving things along.

10:14 PM - Woth a title like "Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405" how can you not win an Oscar.

10:09 PM - "do not aim the hot dogs at the vegetarians"

9:59 PM - "I'm am editor. I should be able to do this."

9:57 PM - Editing. Another tight category. Dunkirk deserves, but Baby Driver especially, hate to see lose.

9:54 PM - Blade Runner 2049!

9:52 PM - Shouldn't Spider-Man have a Queens accent?

9:49 PM - Verizon ads -- like, isn't there some other ad agency, any other ad agency, that would be better for Verizon than the one it's using?

9:41 PM - Looking over my list of movies seen in 2017 during the animation awards I don't care about. One of two clear snubs for me is in the animation category, I actually saw Captain Underpants, and I really, really enjoyed it, and I can't believe it wasn't better than one or another of the movies that were nominated.  Second snub, Jake Gyllenhaal in Stronger.  The acting categories are tough, since you've always got to ask who gets the boot to make room for your preferred.  But that was such a vivid, memorable performance, and I don't believe in 20 years that anyone will study Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour as a lesson in acting the way they might pore over every frame of Gyllenhaal's performance in Stronger. They don't get better, just don't.

9:35 PM - What a pod. The Hans Zimmer Walmart ad, the AARP ad, and the T Mobile all rocked.

9:28 PM - A consensus that Janney would win, but could you watch Laurie Metcslfe in Lady Bird and not want very very badly for he to take the award?  I have this sudden urge to see Lady Bird again after watching that clip.  Like, I liked I Tonya and I liked Janney's performance and yet can't feel right now very very clearly that the wrong person won.

9:23 PM - First year I can remember that I've seen not a one of the Foreign Film nominees.

9:20 PM - Rmember Me production number drew my attention to the TV screen over my iPad more than the Mary Blige performance did. The very long Google ad did nothing for me at all.

9:11 PM - Shape of Water wins for Production Design, a category I don't mind having it win in. It is very stylized, very much an artistic vision, and none of the other nominees strike me as being better or more so.

9:10 PM - "I am from Pakistan and Iowa; two places that no one from Hollywood can find on a map."

9:06 PM - And this is a good opportunity to talk about the Best Score category, which has so many amazing and very different scores. At least two of three when I saw the movie I tweeted "this should be an Oscar nominee," amd they were.  It's hard to think of watching Dunkirk with a different score. Carter Burwell's for Three Billboards was different and pitch perfect.  Johnny Greenwood also different and tonally adroit over the course of the movie.  Anything other than a multi-way tie, and multiple deserving scores are going to lose. About as close as Oscar ever comes to the difficulty of knowing every tennis match will have a loser when you really really like both players.

9:00 PM - The Sound categories -- tough this year. Sound so integral to Dunkirk and to Nolan's vision. Saw Blade Runner in IMAX and wow! A Star Wars movie. A movie like Baby Driver with music so integral and action so timed to the music.  Can't complain to have Dunkirk win both, but poor Blade Runner. But maybe in Cinematography for Blade Runner moment.

8:50 PM - What do we think of the Twitter ad?

8:46 PM - 
Justin Chang

Willam Hoke has this comment: "Since when does having a microphone allow you to attack someone? So far Jimmy Kimmel has attacked Mel Gibson and others by name. How is that decent? Let us all remember that Obama's attack on Trump got us where we are today. This is shameful."

A good point, actually -- though we are losing sight of the idea that we hold the President to a higher standard of behavior than we do a talk show host.  Part of the damage that may not get undone in my lifetime, the coarseness of discourse.

8:42 PM - Funny story: I went to see Icarus and slept through almost all of it. Abacus the other one I was interested in, but having read extensive coverage of the event it described in New York Times and New Yorker, figured movie wouldn't add anything more to my knowledge of it.

8:37 PM - Really liked not just having Eva Marie Saint present an award, but letting her precede with a really classy, historically minded speech. For all the "rich history of Oscar" claims by Oscar producers, a rare instance of actually doing it.

8:35 PM - 
Justin Chang

Did not know this: Jordan Peele is the first filmmaker to be nominated for best picture, director and original screenplay for a debut film.

8:31 PM - It would have been weird for Costume Design not to go to a movie about fashion designer, but some thought it might have gone to something more period, or as part of a Shape of Water sweep.

8:29 PM - The big "Costume Design" on the envelope -- why didn't they think of that 89 years ago?

8:27 PM - maybe more of a burgundy tux. The make up award foreordained.

8:26 PM -- will there be better dressed pair of presenters? Love the red tux, and the silver dress goes well with the crystal theme of the set.

8:24 PM -- that was a Rolex ad? I've seen movies that are worse, with lower budgets.

8:18 PM -  "Everyome who's ever looked at a billboard." Sam Rockwell's win widely predicted. It is a great performance in a movie I loved, for an actor with a great CV.  When I was 8, my parents were taking me to see things like Walking Tall, Godfather, and Deliverance.  As Jack,Torrance says in The Shining "perfect for a child."

8:10 PM - love that Timothee Chalamet has the confidence of youth to be doing the white tux.

8:08 PM "if we can't trust agents." Trust me😬
8:07 PM - Kimmel is nailing it. Funny, serious, tonally about perfect.

7:52 PM -- getting ready.

Oscar Warm-Up

Movies are the thing I do that I've done the longest, aside from reading, and aaaahh! Oscar night.

I saw over 100 movies in 2017, a lot but there are years I've been closer to 120. Around 90 of those new first run films. Most but not all of the Oscar nominations.  I'm old enough to know what I'm not likely to like, and if there's a movie like The Florida Project or Mudbound, where every wonderful review screams out "Joshua will not like this," I am happy to listen to that voice,

Call Me By Your Name was close to being that kind of movie, but the Paris has a nice balcony, and Timothee Chalamet was very pleasant to watch in Lady Bird, and even though I hate Merchant Ivory movies I went to see this movie with a screenplay from James Ivory.  And it was about as good as a movie I'm not going to like can be? Did I snooze through the peach scene? Possibly. But I mostry stayed awake. Chalamet was good. The last scene was great. Yeah, could have and should have been ten minutes shorter, but I don't mind the movie having success, or winning an Oscar or two.

The Shape of Water, however...  That one I mind. It isn't very good at all.  It's a highly stylized movie like The Artist, but to me stylization isn't a substitute for the real world. Part of why I don't like on the whole the Wes Anderson school of filmmaking. There isn't a true word, a true moment, a true performance, a true anything. It's craft that's about nothing other than its own craft.  Not happy, not happy at all, that people talk about this as Best Picture material. Best Director material.  If someone wants to give an Oscar to Alexandre Desplat, have at it. Anything else....

Lady Bird... Frances Ha was an awful dull miserable sit through with not an enjoyable moment to be had, amd the critics swooned over it. Having the star of that in another movie with critics swooning.... I made that the second half of a DIY double feature so I could walk out guilt free when it proved to be another Frances Ha.  Which it totally is not. This movie was full of humor and great performances, and wit and reality and an utter delight through and through. My first glimpse of Timothee Chalamet. A true introduction to Sacramento.  It isn't my choice for Best Picture, but it is still an amazing movie.

And like Get Out, Lady Bird captures a moment.  And my did Get Out capture a moment. Solid acting, a script that transcends its genre, and so so so of its time.  Is Get Out in the Best Picture mix?

Phantom Thread? Tell me after the Oscars how you like your asparagus and your mushrooms. It's interesting. The Post is too safe, though accomplished. Darkest Hour is safe.

Ah, Dunkirk. A spectacular achievement for Christopher Nolan, fascinating to watch once, lots of great ingredients. And then seeing it a second time, the icy chill of a movie with barely a human soul to be find left me so utterly cold that I tuned out, and then walked out,

My clear favorite Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri.

Yes, I get it.  The lead character is annoying. Agree. There are great scenes where we see the writer writing, like the lecture to the priest comparing the Catholic church  to the Crips and Bloods. There are ridiculous things, like having a cop throw someone out the window with no real consequence, someone else firebomb a police station, and no real consequence. And yet, I was utterly caught up with these characters, not as symbols of our time but as themselves. If we can enjoy the unreality of Get Out because we are caught up with the symbolism of the moment of the movie's exaggerations, can't we be caught up enough in the strength of these characters to let the falseness of individual moments slide on by?  With sharp writing, indelible characters, a suite of strong performances, one of the year's best scores, excellent photography -- the moment the movie ended, with sublime perfection with the perfect line at the perfect time, I wanted to see it again. And when I did see it again, I liked every moment and every element every bit as much.

Almost 8pm. Time to end the warmup and get ready for the live blog.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Boskone 55 - My Schedule

Pasting below my full schedule for Boskone 55, which will be taking place at Boston's Westin Waterfront Hotel from 16-18 February.  Hope to see you there!

If you're spending all of your time hanging out at big comic book and media conventions, and you have any ambition to be a published writer, I'd strongly suggest  you do a re-think some, and look a lot more closely at attending some of the conventions like Boskone that have been part of the science fiction and fantasy community for several decades.  In a convention center full of tens of thousands of people, I'm awfully hard to find.  At Boskone, it's a great opportunity to find and spend quality time with the editors, agents and most especially the authors that can help you to achieve your dreams.  In 2018, Boskone will have half a dozen of our clients attending, and some of them clients as a direct result of my meeting with them at Boskone or another sf/fantasy convention like it.

clients in attendance:
Dan Moren - author of The Caledonian Gambit.  First met him at Boskone.
Auston Habershaw - series with Harper Voyager Impulse. First met him in Boston, and the Boskone trip forced me to get his letter out of my in-box.
Suzanne Palmer - author of Finder, forthcoming from DAW, and first met her at a convention in Boston.
Gregory Scott Katsoulis - author of All Rights Reserved.
Erin Underwood - have a proposal from her on submission, first met her at Boskone.
Toni L. P. Kelner a/k/a Leigh Perry - author of the Family Skeleton mysteries.

Most of them will have their own schedules for Boskone available on their individual websites, and you can find a text view of the entire schedule here.

And as I type this, I'm on submission with a debut fantasy by Nick Martell, whom I saw in 2017 at both Boskone and Balticon.  Without my having met him at two conventions last year, his amazing novel might still be hiding away on my iPad.

You'll get to see me on a few panels at Boskone, including one that also includes literary agent Barry Goldblatt, who is especially well known for his great list of YA authors.  I'll often be hanging out in the hotel lobby or in the dealer's room.  And for some real quality time, sign up for my Kaffeeklatsch, which will be just me and no more than ten or twelve people for an hour of conversation.

Can't wait to be at Boskone.  See you soon!

What Good Is an Agent?

Format: Panel
17 Feb 2018, Saturday 18:00 - 19:00, Marina 3 (Westin)
Everybody wants an agent — but why? What's the big deal? Sure they can help you make contacts with publishers, but is that their only purpose? What else can or should an agent do for you? How do you know when your agent isn't really working out? How do you transition between agents without burning bridges?
Erin M. Hartshorn (M), Joshua Bilmes, Barry Goldblatt, Richard Shealy, Hillary Monahan

Soup to Nuts: The Life Cycle of a Book

Format: Panel
17 Feb 2018, Saturday 21:00 - 22:00, Marina 3 (Westin)
What is the life cycle of a book, from completion to publication? Our panel of agents, editors, and authors share advice on everything from querying an agent or an editor to dealing with revision requests, reviewing the contract, maintaining the relationship between editor and agent, and more.
Joshua Bilmes, Richard Shealy, Pete Hollmer, Susan Jane Bigelow, J. Kathleen Cheney

Kaffeeklatsch: Joshua Bilmes

Format: Kaffeeklatsch
18 Feb 2018, Sunday 10:00 - 11:00, Galleria - Con Suite (Westin)
Joshua Bilmes

Marketing Uphill

Format: Panel
18 Feb 2018, Sunday 11:00 - 12:00, Harbor II (Westin)
Sometimes marketing for writers feels like walking uphill to school barefoot in the snow. Does it ever get easier? At what point is enough enough for you and your social network? What about live events? How much should you invest, and how do you measure the return? Our panelists share their experiences and tips for managing your marketing.
Alexander Jablokov (M), Melanie Meadors, Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert, Joshua Bilmes, Craig Miller 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Jumping at the Chance

When we’re interviewing for new staff, we’re often talking to people who are currently working at a publishing company, and we’ll often ask why they’re looking to move to an agency. The most common response is a variation of: “I realized that I want to work on the books I like, and at the publishing company, I’m having to work on books the publisher can publish.”

And for me, I don’t think that’s ever been truer than in our work on Gil Griffin’s JUMPING AT THE CHANCE, a wonderful fish-out-of-water story about fish swimming very very far from America’s coastal waters.

Twenty years ago, I was like many Americans.  Australian Rules Football was this weird thing you heard about, mostly as a strange joke about the strange things you’ll find watching TV in the middle of the night.  Then, in 1999, I went to Australia for the first time, and I went to see this strange thing for myself.

Well, let’s just say I was mesmerized.  I sat in the Melbourne Cricket Ground and watched a Kangaroos game, and I couldn’t take my eyes off of it.

It was, yes, a little bit strange, but it was strange in the way of some wonderful Baskin Robbins flavor, taking a chunk of this sport and a ribbon of that sport and a base of a third, and then it all comes together and it tastes wonderful. It was kind of like soccer, because people couldn't throw the ball but rather had to dribble, pass like a volleyball dig, or kick, which is kind of being like three sports act once. It was kind of like US football with big goalposts to kick through. It was kind of like a clean-skated game of hockey because it was free-flowing and free-form.  I could hardly pick up every little quirk of the rules, but the basics emerged easily enough, even from well up in the stands with no native guide.

And like a Baskin Robbins flavor you really like, and which goes away at the end of the month, I was eager for some future opportunity to taste footy.  When I got that opportunity on my second trip to Australia in 2010, it was just as enjoyable to go to the MCG and take in a footy game.

Subsequent to my 2010 trip to Australia, I discovered you could still find the occasional footy game on ESPN 2 (and now on Fox Sports networks)  As I got to watch more and learn more about the game and the teams and the history…  Soon enough I’m DVRing whatever game is on my cable package, watching all of them, hanging out at The Australian at 1am on a September Saturday to watch the Grand Final, as the AFL’s Super Bowl is known.

Twenty years ago, it was this strange thing, and now it and tennis are my two favorite sports.

Stranger than Australian Rules Football is the fact that Brandon Sanderson’s Tor editor, Moshe Feder, is also an AFL fan, a bigger one, one for longer, much more passionate than I, and one day, two-and-a-half years ago, knowing of my kindred interest in AFL, he sent me a link to this wonderful article by Gil Griffin on US NCAA basketball players looking to make their way into the AFL.

And after I read the article, I knew this needed to be a book.  I had no idea where or how I would sell such a book, because major publishers in the US prefer to buy books about baseball and football, golf and tennis, and other sports better known in the US.  But that wasn’t going to stop me.  Because I’m an agent, and I get to work with the books I want to work with.

So I reached out to Gil Griffin. He was game to give it a try. We worked up a full proposal, and we sent it out to all the sports publishers in the US, and of course, we came up snake eyes. But as Australia is part of the British Commonwealth, we also reached out to our friends at the Zeno Agency in London. Maybe a British publisher that better knew the Australian markets would end up buying the book.  And that didn’t happen.

But John Wordsworth, who had just come over to the Zeno Agency from working at the British publishing house Headline, somehow knew the right person who knew somebody, hooked up the proposal with Nero Publishing in Australia, and by some magical process I still can’t quite believe happened, this passion project that I was never sure would find a home managed to find a pretty much perfect one.  In Australia, the book came out at just the right time in 2016, with a couple players featured in JUMPING AT THE CHANCE making their marks in the AFL.

And this year, JABberwocky is delighted to bring you the first US publication of JUMPING AT THE CHANCE, updated from last year’s Australian edition.

I am pleased as punch.  I’m still not sure what success it’s destined for in the US.  But it’s a great story that has only gotten better since I first came across it in 2015. Players from a country that knows virtually nothing about the AFL are making an impact on footy in Australia, not conjecture or hypothetically but by taking marks and kicking goals and scoring points.

And deep in my heart, I am sure that the right person is going to stumble across JUMPING AT THE CHANCE on the right day and realize what a great story this is. It’s a story we’ve seen five or fifteen times in the movies that I never, ever tire of, the story about the baseball pitchers from India pitching in the show, the story about the kids from a poor school beating the kids from the rich school, the story about the coach from another planet having the winning team with students nothing like himself.  Oh, sure, it’s set against the background of Australian Rules Football, but if Adam McKay can find a way to make complicated financial stuff understandable in “The Big Short,” we can make a movie where people understand enough about the AFL to revel in the triumphs of Jason Holmes and Mason Cox as some of the first players to emerge from the AFL’s American Experiment.  And when that happens, I’ll be happy not just because more people will buy JUMPING AT THE CHANCE, but because I’ll have succesfully shared my love and passion for footy with the world at large.

C’mon, Mate! Take the first step with me. Click on over and check out Gil Griffin’s JUMPING AT THE CHANCE.  Here's an Amazon buy link, which has just gone live, and more to come as the metadata spreads.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Oscars: Made in America

12:23 AM: Actually, I do know what to say.  For a movie full of shots of people slowly coming into focus, it's only fitting that the Moonlight win for Best Picture was initially so cloudy.  Totally, 100% fitting. It summarizes the aesthetic of the film itself.  And, I still can't stop laughing.

12:13 AM: I have nothing more to say.  I look forward to reading about the final ten minutes of tonight's ceremony.  I don't know what to say.

12:04 AM:  And Dunaway looks spectacular.

12:03 AM:  Beatty and Dunaway.  A nice touch.  Drunaway also appeared twice in the ill-timed Rolex ad, in her role in Network.

12:01 AM:  The most special Oscars are the ones when I get to start typing an "AM" in for the live blog.

11:58 PM:  If wishes were fishes.  But while I enjoyed La La Land, I just don't really see this, even if everyone kind of said it's what would happen.

11:57 PM:  I don't want Emma Stone to win.

11:50 PM:  The Best Actor field was originally considered to be Affleck's to lose, then looked like maybe he would lose it to Denzel.  I am very happy with this win.  http://brilligblogger.blogspot.com/2017/02/ready-set-oscar.html. Very humble speech. Bottom line, I'd love to be twenty again, just so I could go to college and go to grad school and do a dissertation on Manchester by the Sea, awful use of music included.  It's a special film in so many small and wonderful ways.

11:42 PM:  No complaints here.  Damien Chazelle directed Whiplash, which was quite a fine piece of work, and followed it up with another quite a fine piece of work.  La La Land isn't my favorite of this year's movies, but it's every bit a director's vision and passion and hard work as any of the other films it was contending with.  And, yes, Whiplash was also a damn fine piece of work.  It's quite rare for a young director to start out with films like this that are critically acclaimed and genuinely accessible to a wide swath of moviegoers, that don't put me to sleep or thrive only in the rarified atmosphere of Park City.  So I'm happy.

11:38 PM:  Oh yay! Another Verizon ad.  More to the point, poor Cameron Crowe.  His Jerry Maguire is kind of like my autobiography; I screened it for my 50th birthday party, in fact.  So to see his pleasant We Built a Zoo turned into fodder for the Matt Kimmel show tonight. Sigh.  And it is a pleasant movie.  Not a great one, but a very pleasant one.

11:30 PM:  Yay! Manchester by the Sea wins for Original Screenplay. Matt Damon will now happily eat all the McRibs he's gotten over the course of the evening.  Lonergan is an excellent playwright and screenwriter, and plays like Lobby Hero are as worth seeing as Manchester by the Sea is.  He's had "History" in Hollywood, which is a little too long to discuss here (I'll add a link later), but taking home an Oscar tonight after the odyssey of Lonergan's last movie has to be sweet.  And it is such a good screenplay,

11:19 PM:  Nice to have a shout out to the teaching of arts in public schools, which has been losing ground for years due to budget cuts and teaching to tests.  But. Really.  Someone's mother let someone leave the soccer team to appear in a school musical.  The horror.  The horror.

11:17 PM:  If you weren't pegging La La Land in the Score and Song categories, you should never get to fill out an Oscar pool ballot again.  Ever, ever again.

11:15 PM:  http://variety.com/2017/film/news/fantastic-beast-first-harry-potter-oscar-1201997179/. So this was the first time that any Harry Potter movie won an Oscar for anything.  I'm not the biggest fan of the series; Azkaban is the only of the movies that I've actually liked.  But still, you think of all the technical resources poured into the movies, often by top talents in the industry like Production Designer Stuart Craig, or music for some of the film's from John Williams, and the visual effects, and etc. etc., and it's hard to believe there's always been something better every single time, until tonight.

11:08 PM:  Spoke to soon.  The purple prose of unnecessary clutter in an Oscar musical # hath returned.

11:06 PM:  Here we go again.  The #s from La La Land would be perfectly fine if it was just John Legend singing and playing piano, and instead we've got all sorts of unnecessary stuff going on in the background.  At least they appear to have exited the stage without hitting John Legend in the head, like one of the flags did in the Moana number earlier.

10:57 PM:  Because we all think of Bridges of Madison County as first choice of Meryl Streep's excellence.  But it's a surprisingly good movie, and it has Clint Eastwood, whose Sully deserved more love from Oscar than it received.

10:54 PM:  One of the best ever presentations about the Sci/Tech Oscar presentation.  And are we looking at a midnight EST closing time for the Oscar ceremony?

10:42 PM: Great Google ad.

10:41 PM:  If we do get to vote for the best Walmart short, the Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg is far and away my top choice.  It was fun.

10:38 PM:  One of the biggest changes from when I was growing up -- it's so much less likely for a Best Picture to also vacuum up wins in the technical categories.  Film editing is often a very tough category with lots of worthwhile nominees, and I'm kind of pleased with Hacksaw Ridge winning in this category.  And of course, we'd all expected two hours into the ceremony that Hacksaw Ridge would have twice as many Oscars to its name as La La Land.  Mel Gibson has been a good sport about the ribbing he's taken from Kümmel, and why not.  If I could get a little ribbing in exchange for two Oscars for my movie, yeah, probably me too.  It remains to be seen if Matt Damon will feel like he's gotten any return on his investment in ribs.

10:25 PM:  So I'd have pegged Production Design for Fantastic Beasts, rather than Costumes.  That's why we play the game.  It is "most likely correct" that I would not have done well in an Oscar pool.  "Most likely correct."

10:18 PM:  "This is Ryan Gosling.  He's very handsome.  Don't look into his eyes."

10:01 PM:  Around and about the halfway mark, and the Sting number is a great place for a bathroom break, and for Lady Gaga.  Except it was probably too short for a bathroom break.

9:58 PM:  On Bill Paxton:  https://twitter.com/ecoevoevoeco/status/835990351278112768

9:50 PM:  And, yes, Viola Davis did win for Supporting Actress, while I was telling you about Lynn Stalmaster.  If Verizon should be calling AT&T's add, I'd like to suggest that Apple go after Samsung's.  Apple's approach to ads can use an updating, and maybe that can be a column idea for Dan Moren.  Final thought on this set of ads:  will there be some kind of toll free # or something, so that after the Best Picture, we can give an award for the Best Walmart Receipt Picture?  Even better, can they get Jeff Bezos to come up on stage to present that award?

9:44 PM:  While we head to the coronation of Viola Davis, some notes on the excellent group of honorary Oscar recipients.  Anne Coates may be best known for the "match cut" in Lawrence of Arabia and has decades of achievement as a film editor.  Same for Lynn Stalmaster, who was one of the leading casting directors, a category that has a branch in the Academy but not an Oscar to award -- making his receipt of an honorary award the only way of honoring.  For whatever reason, the first film that popped to my mind as being cast by Lynn Stalmaster was "Tootsie," and I surfed over to IMDB to see if that was in fact a correct recollection.  It was.  But I could just as easily have associated Stalmaster's name with the casting of Superman: The Movie or dozens upon dozens of other films.  And casting is so very important.  Who cast Hidden Figures?  Whomever it is, that's a hidden figure behind the success of a movie that relies heavily on the quality of its cast.  Frederick Wiseman is one of the leading documentarians of our time.  As his time has gone on, it's gotten harder and harder to love his movies if you aren't a critic because nobody's able to tell him to cut, and he distributes his own movies.  Better to go looking at a movie from decades ago like Titticut Follies than his most recent In Jackson Heights, with all due respect to the fact that I know several of the people who appear in the most recent.  But at his best, and even sometimes at his longest, he'd shed light on US institutions from hospitals to fashion to the military to prisons to schools to more.  It's hard to say you're a movie lover or cineaste of any sort whatsoever if you haven't seen something that Wiseman has directed.  Do you need me to tell you about Jackie Chan?

9:33 PM:  After having to endure two Verizon ads in just the first hour, I may cancel my FIOS service the moment the ceremony is over.  Also, I have no plans to be Disney's guest on March 17.  Maybe I will go look for a VCR tape of the animated version that I can hold up to the light because I can't play it on a VCR.

9:30 PM:  The bummer about that Arrival win -- Sully was also nominated, and Sully was a really good movie that deserved more Oscar love and which I really wish I'd gone back to see a second time, and it doesn't even get a consolation prize.  I really, really, really liked Sully.  It would be on my Ten Best for 2016, hands down.

9:28 PM:  In honor of Arrival winning, I will doze off for most of the acceptance speech, wake up near the end, and decide I woke up too soon.

9:23 PM:  That was a nice Walmart ad, which doesn't make it any less soul deadening for me to walk into a Walmart.  Also, maybe Verizon should hire a good advertising agency, like the one AT&T is using.

9:19 PM:  Lesson to writers:  do not clutter up your movie with unnecessary flourishes the way the Oscar performance of "How Far I'll Go" had those people with blue flags going back and forth in the background for not particular purpose.

9:14 PM:  Was Caroline Waterlow tearing up in the background during Ezra Klein's acceptance speech for OJ: Made in America?  And an excellent speech; dispensed with the laundry list to focus on the actual crime that underlying the movie.

9:11 PM:  As noted in my pre-Oscar blog post, I consider OJ: Made in America to be the Best Picture, the real Best Picture.  Not just the best long form documentary.  It's worth seeing.  All eight hours of it.

9:11 PM:  One of the NY Times reporters live chatting is with me -- quietly pulling for Hidden Figures to surprise us at the end of the night.

9:05 PM:  Unintended relevance.  Bill Paxton shows up in a Titanic clip in a Rolex ad.

9:03 PM:  SInce I have never wanted to buy a car, I don't understand why there are so many ads for them.

9:02 PM:  I wonder how many Oscar pool ballots have been wrecked by having Fantastic Beasts win for Costume Design?  Was that going to be a thing?  Also, we can now say with reasonable assurance that La La Land will not be tying any records for Oscars actually won.

8:53 PM:  I said to myself before the ceremony, "please, no Verizon ads with the guy holding the mic." Anything can win the awards now, it won't be more disappointing than seeing one of these crappy Verizon ads.

8:50 PM:  I'll consider this to be the award for his role in Hidden Figures.  Because when it comes to Moonlight, there were four other performances which the clips reminded me how much I enjoyed relative to the winning one.

8:45 PM:  Not bad, unless you're Matt Damon.  Working to the host's particular strengths, and doesn't seem like a monologue four other people could have given.

8:41 PM:  "We didn't see Elle, but we absolutely loved it.". Well, see it!

8:40 PM:  Jeff Bezos and I are each "JB" yet he is at the Oscars, and I am just watching it.

8:38 PM:  "Remember last year when it seemed like the Oscars were racist."

8:37 PM:  Sadly, the 230 countries that hate us is most likely correct.

8:35 PM:  Honestly, it can only go downhill from here.

8:33 PM:  Um, no idea what this has to do with the business at hand, but I will never complain if someone wants to bring Justin Timberlake into my living room.   Maybe he could host the Oscars some year.  And the people in the audience seems to be enjoying it.

8:20 PM:  I got a devil's food cheesecake and chocolate cupcake from Juniors, a German chocolate slice from Amy's Bread, and a couple cookies from Empire Cake.  Even though I've been 2:20 on the bike and elliptical today, I should maybe try not to eat all of them?

8:12 PM:  18 minutes to go.  Oscar live blog!!