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30 Oct 00:00

Kevin Smith Shaves His Facial Hair, is Now Unrecognizable

by Lisa Marcus

Via Facebook

Film director Kevin Smith posted these pictures of himself to his Facebook page, one of which is the "after" picture of him having shaven his trademark facial hair. People familiar with Smith, what do you think? Does he look better with beard and mustache or without? And what on Earth would Silent Bob say? (Yeah, likely nothing.) -Via Uproxx

Via Facebook

27 Oct 06:00

A Tumblr Reveals the Starbucks Orders of Your Favorite Literary Figures

by Katharine Trendacosta

A Tumblr Reveals the Starbucks Orders of Your Favorite Literary Figures

There's a Starbucks that sits at a place where the walls of space, time, and parallel universes is thin. It's where authors and fictional characters go to pick up their coffee. And, of course, it's a particularly entertaining tumblr thought up by two English majors and a history major.


13 Oct 23:00

Some of The Best Nintendo Cartridge Box Art From The 1980s

by Zeon Santos

Cover art is designed with visual appeal in mind, and the best cover art grab the buyer’s attention from across the aisle, begging them to take a closer look. 

Video games used to rely on cover art to help sell cartridges- they presented polished and generally exciting scenes to lure gamers into buying the game, then gamers would discover the in-game graphics looked nothing like the cover art.

That’s why it’s best to think of cover art as a piece of concept art, rather than a faithful representation of what to expect from the game.

With that in mind you should check out GeekTyrant's collection of 15 Best Pieces Of 1980s NES Cover Art, where each piece is paired with a video showing the actual in-game graphics, so you can get a feel for how far off the cover art really is!

02 Oct 19:44

The details of David Fincher

by Rob Beschizza

Every Frame a Painting analyses the work of director David Fincher (Seven, The Social Network): "He cares about information." But what does he not do?

25 Sep 06:27

Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars books to be adapted for TV

by Cory Doctorow

The books, which are among the best science fiction ever written, have been picked up by Game of Thrones co-producer Vince Gerardis, which bodes very well for the adaptation. Read the rest

25 Sep 20:20

Oh God, The New Big Hero 6 Trailer Is Making Us Cry

by Lauren Davis

The earlier trailers and clips for Disney's superhero film Big Hero 6 have focused mainly on how funny and adorable its characters—especially medical robot Baymax—are. But this trailer hits home the tragedy at the heart of the film.


11 Sep 21:20

Alan Moore Just Wrote A Novel So Enormous People Can't Pick It Up

by Rob Bricken

Alan Moore Just Wrote A Novel So Enormous People Can't Pick It Up

The acclaimed author of Watchmen has recently finished his second novel, Jerusalem. Two interesting facts about it: 1) it's not set in Jerusalem, but Northampton, England, and 2) at over one million words, it's almost twice the size of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace. Moore has said he doubts people will even be able to lift it.


11 Sep 15:23

Bryan Fuller On American Gods: Casting A White Man To Play Shadow Would Make Us TV’s “Biggest Assholes” - And a bunch of A-Holes they are not.

by Carolyn Cox


When a beloved book is adapted for film or TV, fans are going to have a lot of understandable concerns: will the spirit of the original work be destroyed? Will the adaptation be crafted by the right creative talent? And will any and all of the story’s diversity be honored? In the case of Starz’s series adaptation of American Gods: yes, absolutely, and praise be to Bryan Fuller.

In an awesome interview with Den of Geek, the Hannibal showrunner explained that preserving the diversity in Neil Gaiman’s Americana fantasy novel is a priority (bolding is my own, because booyah):

In our conversations about who our ideals are for specific roles, Shadow is described as… is he a gypsy? Is he Hispanic? Is he black? Or is he all of those things in one? So we know that he is not white! I think if we cast a white man to play Shadow we would be the biggest assholes on television.

The decision to cast a POC as Shadow might seem like an obvious one, but whitewashing roles is alarmingly frequent: look at the inexcusable casting in Exodus, for example, or the CW’s choice for Arrow‘s Ra’s al Ghul. Starz has a pretty solid record of diverse casting (yeaaaah Spartacus), but still, it’s heartening to hear Fuller’s conviction. Casting POC to play POC shouldn’t be controversial, but if online comment sections are any indication, there’s always going to be a peanut gallery of pinheads ready to cry “reverse racism” at the mention of diversity (American Gods is fantasy, sure, but nothing in the book is as fabricated as that bullshit concept). In the context of that idiocy, Fuller’s bluntness is refreshing: whitewashing American Gods would be f’ing insulting, regardless of any perceived ambiguity over Shadow’s race.

In the interview the showrunner also said he plans for the series to last more than a season and spoke about what viewers can expect from its 2016 debut:

We’ve broken the first three episodes, Michael Green and I, and we’re having so much fun. It’s such a different muscle to Hannibal. There’s a big, bold, sprawling world that is at our fingertips that is going to be so much fun to explore.

It’s fun to platform the world and say to Neil [Gaiman], okay, if these are the rules of this universe that you’ve created, then it would also apply in these circumstances. That’s been great for Michael and I because we’re recognising the rules and then also allowing ourselves to navigate those rules and expand the story in a fun way where those rules are supporting a greater, grander world than you’re able to see in the novel.

[...] One of the fun things about the television series we’re crafting is that for every moment that takes place, there are alternate points of view of that moment so we will see an episode that is primarily from Shadow’s point of view, and then the next episode will be primarily from Wednesday’s point of view, and then the next episode will be primarily from Laura’s point of view so there’s a fun to point of view when you’re adapting a novel like this, because it gives you the freedom to expand the world and the characters.

Considering Fuller recently compared the series’ intended scope to Game of Thrones, it’s not surprising that the show will allow for multiple points of view. Now to pass the time until 2016 fancasting Shadow! Thoughts?

Previously in

(via io9, image via Matt DeTurck on Flickr)

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02 Sep 22:42

What If Game Of Thrones Came Out In The 1960s?

by Meredith Woerner

What if Game of Thrones came out in the '60s and legendary graphic designer Saul Bass (the mind behind the title sequences for Psycho, Ocean's 11, and North by Northwest) created the opening titles? It would probably look a lot like this.


29 Aug 19:45

Bryan Fuller Promises American Gods Adaptation Will Have A Similar Scope To Game of Thrones, Says Gaiman “G.D. Better” Write Episodes - Everything's coming up Gaiman.

by Carolyn Cox


Praise be! In July we lost our collective shit over the announcement that Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies, Hannibal), Michael Green (Kings, Heroes) and Neil Gaiman (weird, perfect) would be executive producing a TV adaptation of Gaiman’s beloved 2001 book American Gods for Starz. And it just keeps getting better: For Gods fans who might have been worried that the spirit and enormous scope of the novel would be lost in its transition to the small screen, Fuller made some statements today that should reassure even the most intense of Gaiman purists.

In an interview with CraveOnline, the showrunner said the series is on-track to shoot in 2015 with an air date in 2016, adding:

It’s basically the following the events of the books, but expanding those events, and expanding the point of view to go above and beyond Shadow and Wednesday. In that way, as with Game of Thrones, there are dozens of characters that you’re tracking through the events and that’s probably the biggest similarities between the worlds, in that there’s a wide variety of characters at play.

(Interestingly, HBO actually passed on American Gods in 2011. Eat your heart out, Home Box Office!) In the interview Fuller also hints that elements from Gaiman’s 2005 book Anansi Boys will make an appearance in the show, and says the author himself “god damn well better” script some of the episodes. Speaking on Gaiman’s executive producer role and involvement in the series, Fuller said:

He’s given birth to the baby, raised to the baby, and now Michael Green and I are marrying the baby. [...] So the relationship is similar [to George R.R. Martin and Game of Thrones] in that way, where he is absolutely integral to the process and also very excited just to see it coming together in the fashion that it is.

And, unlike A Song of Ice and Fire readers, American Gods fans probably don’t need to worry that the show will distract its creator from his work–Gaiman announced the completion of a new book just yesterday, so we should be set for awhile.

(via Coming Soon)

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22 Aug 12:00

uBlock Is a Fast and Lightweight Alternative to AdBlock Plus

by Alan Henry

uBlock Is a Fast and Lightweight Alternative to AdBlock Plus

Chrome: It's no secret that AdBlock is one of our favorite add-ons, and it does a lot of cool things. However, it's definitely memory hungry, and can slow your system down. If you want a leaner alternative that still keeps the web clean and protects your privacy, try uBlock (or rather, µBlock.)

µBlock works on any Chromium-based browser, so you can use it in Google Chrome proper, or in Chromium for other platforms (like Linux). Once installed, the app works very similarly to Adblock Plus; it'll block ads for you, uses the same lists (namely EasyList, EasyPrivacy, Malware Domains, and more—or you can add and customize your own sources to block), and overall keeps your browsing experience clean and trim. There's one notable difference though—µBlock uses significantly less resources than AdBlock Plus. Of course, its feature set is also a bit lighter—it doesn't do quite everything that ABP does, but if the reason you have ABP installed is primarily for adblocking and privacy protection, it'll do the trick.

As with any extension of its type, the add-on requires heavy permissions to work. The developer explains those permissions in detail here, and answers questions about the tool and its features here (including comparing it to ABP.) If you're curious how much memory you're actually going to get back his efficiency comparison is a good read, too. Hit the link below to give it a try, or read more about it over at GitHub.

µBlock (Free) | Chrome Web Store via GitHub and Kevin Du

17 Aug 17:30

Yo, Film Nerds. You’ll Want to Watch This Video on Depicting Texting and the Internet On-Screen - CINEMATOGRAPHYYYYYYYY

by Rebecca Pahle

A Brief Look at Texting and the Internet in Film from Tony Zhou on Vimeo.

I’ll include “TV nerds,” too, because the conclusion Tony Zhou (he of this analysis of the visual style of Edgar Wright) comes to is that, at least as far as the aesthetics of on-screen texting is concerned, Sherlock pretty much nails it. Filmmakers have not, however, cracked how to depict the Internet on-screen. It’s all incredibly interesting, at least if you’re me.

That said, on-screen UNIX? Nailed it:

(via io9)

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14 Aug 16:34

The Afghan Whigs cover The Police

by David Pescovitz

My pals in The Afghan Whigs transform The Police's "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" into a burning dark ballad dripping with soul. Read the rest

09 Aug 06:35

blueeyedmenace: The walking dead// Rick Grimes dad jokes


The walking dead// Rick Grimes dad jokes

06 Aug 14:00

XCOM: The Board Game Is The Board Game Of XCOM

by Graham Smith

So many little pieces!

It’s been almost two years since XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and even with the Enemy Within expansion in between that’s too long a time to live without a new XCOM game to play. We can therefore justifiably lust over the just-announced XCOM board game coming from Fantasy Flight. It’s called XCOM: The Board Game, it requires a digital companion app to play, and it’s due out before the end of the year.

Cor, look at all the little cardboard pieces in the image above. I could roll around in those all day.

… [visit site to read more]

01 Aug 05:06

The New York Times Just Discovered We Serve Breakfast In Australia, And They Are Losing Their Shit

by Steph Harmon

At this point, the only thing more predictable than a New York Times trend piece that’s equal parts out of touch and condescending is the backlash that follows,” wrote Flavorwire in 2013. Flaccid trend-spotting articles are in the paper’s DNA, and we love to hate them.

It happened with the man bun surge of 2012, the normcore movement that didn’t need to be named, and, most recently, the return of the monocle – which brought forth not only international ridicule, but a trend piece from the New York Times about New York Times trend pieces.

But this week’s article is particularly special, because this week’s article is about us.

Australian Cafes Arrive In New York‘ reads the triumphant headline from Oliver Strand, who has uncovered a new phenomenon in his city: cafes named after bits of Melbourne which manage to serve coffee AND breakfast AT ONCE.

“New York is a city of immigrants and their unofficial embassies offering a taste of home: the French bistro, the English pub, the California juice bar,” he begins. “Add to that list the Australian cafe.”

GUYS, there is, apparently, a foodie scene outside of New York City, and The Times is ON IT.

— The Times Is On It (@NYTOnIt) July 29, 2014

Confused? So is the journalist.

“At first glance,” he writes somewhat suspiciously, “an Australian cafe may seem like an American coffee shop, with colorful idioms: brekkie (breakfast), a piccolo (a cortado), a flat white (a small latte) and “no worries” (you’re welcome).”

That’s where the trouble begins:


“But it functions differently,” he continues, “and differs from the dozen or so Australian coffee bars in New York, which offer the coffee but not the full experience.”

For instance, there is the way they work: “The cafes offer table service, with a waiter bringing your drink.”

Also, there is the way they feel: “A sunny disposition so genuine it could disarm the most brusque New Yorker.” One of three entire people interviewed for this piece, an Australian, agrees: “It’s breakfast,” he reminds us. “It’s not serious; it’s meant to be fun.”

And speaking of fun, there’s a new dance in town, and it’s called The Avocado Smash. “Sometimes called an avocado toast (and in the United States often associated with California), it’s comfort food for any time of the day,” Strand writes, with audible awe. “You smash half a ripe avocado onto a thick piece of multigrain toast, season it with salt, pepper and chile flakes, then give it a splash of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.”

Wondering what inspires such culinary adventurism? Well it appears to have something to do with surfing.  “You wake up, go down to the beach, have a swim, then go have some coffee and poached eggs and toast,” says one cafe owner. “I surfed every day of my life until I came to New York,” says another.

And then the article ends, with what is possibly the most obvious quote about New York City ever to be published in its hallowed newspaper: “You don’t have surfing here. But you have a lot of other opportunities that make up for it.”


in melbourne everybody is so nice in cafes uhuh and if you believe that I’ve got a fleet of trams here to sell you

— adam brereton (@adambrereton) July 31, 2014

@therevmountain in australia everyone goes surfing and then has a coffee and poached eggs at a super friendly cafe

— adam brereton (@adambrereton) July 31, 2014

@therevmountain australians love to smash avocados while we drink our flat whites (small lattes)

— adam brereton (@adambrereton) July 31, 2014

@therevmountain i smash literally hundreds a day and sometimes i don’t even eat a single one

— adam brereton (@adambrereton) July 31, 2014


Delicious-looking feature image by Katherine Lim, under a Creative Commons license on Flickr

29 Jul 17:00

Welcome to the Land of Pain!

Welcome to the Land of Pain!

Submitted by: Unknown

28 Jul 21:07

The Digital Fob Watch

by Warren Ellis

There was a day when, to learn the time, people would take a fob watch from a pocket and read it.  Then came the wristwatch.  Just a small turn of the wrist and a flick of the eye to learn the time.  Many of us today take out our phones, as we once did a fob watch, to learn the time and the information pushed to us by digital services.  The promise of the smartwatch is that with a small turn of the wrist we would once again learn the time and also gain that extra information with a flick of the eye.  Taking out our phones, or leaving them on the table in front of us to scan, during conversations, is considered rude.  The promise of the smartwatch is that we claim ambient awareness of the digital space while remaining fully engaged in the physical space.  We maintain the social contract of the conversation.

But I am 46 years old, and I am here to tell you that there was a time when looking at your wristwatch during a conversation was considered bloody rude.  Hell, it arguably cost George HW Bush an election.  Am I the only one who remembers “oh, is there somewhere else you have to be?” or “oh, am I keeping you?” or “did you know it’s rude to look at your watch while having a bloody conversation with someone?”

Smartwatches may well prove to be useful.  But never pretend that you have technologically solved the social world.

Also, I still want a fob chain for my iPhone, while I’m waiting for Oculus Monocle.


Reading: AMERICAN SMOKE, Iain Sinclair


28 Jul 18:00

Neil deGrasse Tyson's Three Little Words to a Creationist Saying We Should Stop Searching for Extraterrestrial Life

16 Jul 08:33

Tom Waits in 8-bit

by The Eyeball Kid
The strangest Waits covers/adaptations I've ever heard: TOMW8S - the Donkey Kong Variations by Buddy Peace.   TOMW8S - 'Donkey Kong Variations' by Buddy Peace
16 Jul 08:00

David Bowie’s Enchanting Isolated Vocal Track for “Ziggy Stardust”

by Maria Popova

Because Ziggy didn’t always play guitar.

In June of 1972, David Bowie released his fifth studio record, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars — the album that gave birth to his legendary alter ego, the fictional rock star Ziggy Stardust, who catapulted Bowie into superstardom and went on to become one of the twentieth century’s greatest pop-culture cults.

This mesmerizing isolated vocal track for the album’s title song reveals as much the intimate beauty of Bowie’s imperfect voice as it does the enormous role instrumentation and performance play in creating the overall effect of the song’s enchantment and exhilaration:

Complement with Bowie’s 75 must-read books, his answers to the famous Proust Questionnaire, his narration of the pioneering Soviet children’s symphony “Peter and the Wolf,” and the full story of Ziggy Stardust, then treat yourself to astronaut Chris Hadfield’s magnificent cover of Bowie’s “Space Oddity” aboard the International Space Station.

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08 Jul 21:15

invocationwithin:loosetoon: Early 70’s behind the scenes of...


Early 70’s behind the scenes of Sesame Street with the Muppets.

08 Jul 21:20

Celebrate 50 Years Of The American Version Of Doctor Who

by Rob Bricken

Remember that great list of American actors who could have played the Doctor during the last half-century? Sam Vestey was so inspired he cut footage from the actors' various works to make an American Doctor Who highlight reel, if you will, and the results are a fascinating what-if.


07 Jul 18:00

Kickstarter of the Day: Potato Salad Kickstarter Raises Much Much More Than Expected

Kickstarter of the Day: Potato Salad Kickstarter Raises Much Much More Than Expected

Zack Danger Brown asked for just $10 on Kickstarter so he might accomplish his dream: "Basically I'm just making potato salad."

The Kickstarter has since gone viral and so far has raised more than $9,000!

Update: The Kickstarter has now raised over $40,000!

Submitted by: (via Kickstarter)

07 Jul 16:00

This Dad Discovers a Surefire Way to Stop His Daughter From Crying

01 Jul 20:37

Starz Picked up the American Gods TV Show, and Bryan Fuller Is Co-Showrunning - EVERYTHING IS GOOD AND RIGHT WITH THE WORLD FOREVER AND EVER AMEN.

by Rebecca Pahle

american gods

Here’s where we left the American Gods TV show: HBO was going to do it but then didn’t, because reasons. FremantleMedia picked up the slack and started developing their own version, but with no network attached.

And here’s where are are now: Starz just picked up American Gods. Neil Gaiman will executive produce along with Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies, Hannibal) and Michael Green (Kings, Heroes), who are showrunning. Fuller will write the pilot.

Everything is beautiful and nothing hurts.

Starz Managing Director Carmi Zlotnik promises “a series that honors the book and does right by the fans and viewers,” but of course he would say that. I’m more interested in what Gaiman, who wrote the book American Gods, has to say. And here he is:

“When you create something like American Gods, which attracts fans and obsessives and people who tattoo quotes from it on themselves or each other, and who all, tattooed or not, just care about it deeply, it’s really important to pick your team carefully: you don’t want to let the fans down, or the people who care and have been casting it online since the dawn of recorded history. What I love most about the team who I trust to take it out to the world, is that they are the same kind of fanatics that American Gods has attracted since the start. I haven’t actually checked Bryan Fuller or Michael Green for quote tattoos, but I would not be surprised if they have them. The people at Fremantle are the kinds of people who have copies of American Gods in the bottom of their backpacks after going around the world, and who press them on their friends. And the team at Starz have been quite certain that they wanted to give Shadow, Wednesday and Laura a home since they first heard that the book was out there.I can’t wait to see what they do to bring the story to the widest possible audience able to cope with it.”

“Neil Gaiman has created the holiest of holy toy boxes with American Gods and filled it with all manner of magical thing, born of new gods and old,” adds Fuller. “Michael Green and I are thrilled to crack this toy box wide open and unleash the fantastical titans of heaven and earth and Neil’s vividly prolific imagination.”

There is literally nothing about this that I don’t like. American Gods is a great book. Starz made Spartacus, so I am all about that. Green has extensive TV experience, ranging from Kings to Heroes to Smallville and the upcoming Gotham, and yeah, that record isn’t spotless, but: Bryan Fuller. I would lay down my life for Bryan Fuller. I would submit to cannibalism for Bryan Fuller. Really, the only thing I can say is:

high pitched screaming

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24 Jun 09:06

Review: Ugg-Tect

by (Paul)

Paul: A thing you should definitely know about Ugg-Tect is that, the very first time we started playing it, Brendan almost immediately began whacking himself over the head with a large club, really pounding at his own skull with a very singular sort of determination. He was going at it full speed, full strength, and looking at me with a particular sort of sadness in his eyes.

It’s important that I add that Brendan wasn’t wearing any sort of protection when he did this. Yes, the club was only inflatable, I will concede this, but I’m not sure this mattered much given the intensity of his self-inflicted blows. He was grunting one thing over and over again, one thing in the language of Ugg-Tect, and that was “Ignore me.”

Put yourself in my position for a moment. There is a man standing in front of you who is hammering away at his own head with an enormous inflatable weapon, grunting with great insistence that you ignore him. What do you do?

Read More

24 Jun 02:00

Nick Offerman Is An All-Powerful Narrator In This Meta Western Comedy

by Lauren Davis

In Stranger Than Fiction, Will Ferrell finds his life controlled by a narrator he hears in his head. In the short film The Gunfighter, an Old West gunslinger also finds himself pursued by a voice (belonging to Parks & Rec's Nick Offerman). The bigger problem? Everyone else can hear it, too.


20 Jun 13:46

PCHH B-B-B-BONUS-S-S CONTENT: My Favorite First Lines


So on this week’s episode of Pop Culture Happy Hour, we devoted a segment to “First Impressions.” I took it as an excuse to bloviate about one of my favorite topics, “First Lines of Novels and Short Stories and What They Do and How They Do It.”

I, as is my wont, as the show’s resident grind, overprepared. The show’s a discussion, not a lecture, thank God, and I only got around to name-checking three or four of these. But there’s lots to say on this. And back when I taught writing, and the earth was new, and icthyosaurs swam the turbid seas, I prepared a sheet sort of like this for students.

These are just some of my favorites. You got yours. Don’t bogart them, give ‘em up already.


First lines can outfit your reader with important information for the journey ahead with remarkable efficiency.

  • Call me Ishmael” – Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. (Introduces a layer of doubt in the FIRST TWO GODDAMN WORDS, and in the third, if you know your Bible, provides you with a hefty does of foreshadowing – basically gives away the ending.)
  • "It was a bright, cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen". – George Orwell’s 1984. (We are in a militaristic setting.)
  • "As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from a sleep of uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect." – Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis (This is all of the explanation Kafka provides for the huge, abiding weirdness at the story’s core – this flat assertion in the first sentence. That’s all you’re getting. Deal with it.)
  • "Doomed planet. Desperate scientists. Last hope. Kindly couple." - Grant Morrison, All-Star Superman. (Ok, it’s a comic, but that right there? Is a familiar origin story ruthlessly distilled into four perfect nouns, modified by four perfect adjectives.)

But sometimes efficiency isn’t the goal. Sometimes it’s about making sure your reader packed everything for their trip. Like, EVERYTHING.

  • "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. " – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (The air kind of goes out of the sentence there at the end, but really, how could it not?)
  • “It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”—Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (The most-mocked opening line in English literature, the inspiration for a contest of worst first lines, and you can see why: Wait, you’re saying the night was DARK? I see. Got it. Thanks, guy. I love how he doubles back on himself “this happened! Except when it didn’t, on the streets (did I mention we’re in a city? Which is why I said streets not roads? I didn’t? Well, that.)”

But first lines can supply your readers with clues to what’s coming without being so damn showy about it.

  • "Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself." - Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. (The fact that the author feels compelled to note that Mrs. D wants to buy the flowers herself suggests its not the usual order of things (ie, that she usually has someone else do it for her, and that perhaps she’s been dissatisfied with that person’s job in the past) and suggests there’s some flower-worthy event coming up.
  • “Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and razor lay crossed.” – James Joyce, Ulysses. (Hunh. “Lay crossed.” Wonder if there’s gonna be, like, a lot of Catholic stuff comin’ up.)

Showiness is good, too. You can always attempt to charm and intrigue your audience, effectively daring them to stop reading.

  • “A screaming comes across the sky.” – Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow.
  • "It was the day my grandmother exploded.” - Iain M Banks, The Crow Road. (If you can put the book down after that, you are some sort of monstrous automaton with a transponder where your heart should be. I mean, yeah, it’s a gimmick of an opening line, but come on.)
  • “124 was spiteful.” —Toni Morrison, Beloved
  • “It was a pleasure to burn.” —Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
  • "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit." – JRR Tolkien, The Hobbit (This came to Tolkien as he was grading papers – he scribbled it down distractedly, knowing he’d come back to it later. Note how it’s got “children’s story” coded into its very structure and syntax and rhythm.)
  • “You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino’s new novel, If on a winter’s night a traveler.” —Italo Calvino, If on a winter’s night a traveler

You can use a first line to bait the hook by presenting a dilemma the reader (hopefully) needs to see get resolved.

  • “It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me.” – Anthony Burgess, Earthly Powers
  • “You are not the kind of guy who would be at a place like this at this time of the morning.” – Jay McInerney, Bright Lights, Big City
  • “Every summer Lin Kong returned to Goose Village to divorce his wife, Shuyu.” – Ha Jin, Waiting
  • By our second day at Camp Crescendo, the girls in my Brownie troop had decided to kick the asses of each and every girl in Brownie Troop 909.” – ZZ Packer, Brownies
  • “It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.” – Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
  •  “Midway upon the journey of this life, I found myself within a dark forest, for the straightforward pathway had been lost.” – Dante’s The Inferno.

You can also turn the focus on you, and not your characters, to let them know they’re in sure hands. Assert your authority by opening with a pithy, world-weary observation. Look how smart you are!

  • “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karennina
  • “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” – Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
  • 'The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there.' - L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between. (Lookit: I have never read The Go-Between. You have never read The Go-Between. But we both know this killer line. You think writing a book is your ticket to immortality? Shyeah. A killer line. That’s what does it.)

Maybe you want to be a little more circumspect, but give your reader a sense of the tone – how you/your narrator FEEL toward the events you’re about to spend a chunk of time relating to them.

  • “The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.” – Samuel Beckett, Murphy (Maybe my favorite sentence ever. Showy as hell, but give it up for the guy.)
  • “All this happened, more or less.” – Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
  • "Mr. and Mrs. Dursley ,of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say they were perfectly normal, thank you very much." – JK Rowling Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
  • "Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun." – Douglas Adams, The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  • “A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head.” - John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces
  • “The first great act of love I ever witnessed was Split Lip bathing his handicapped daughter.” – George Saunders, Isabelle
  • “We were fractious and overpaid.” – Joshua Ferris, Then We Came to the End
  • “During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country; and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher.” – E.A. Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher
  • "There was a boy named Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it." – CS Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Be funny. (If you’re good at it.)

  • “Understand that your cat is a whore and can’t help you.” – Lorrie Moore, Self-Help
  • “America, said Horace, the office temp, was a run-down and demented pimp.” – The Ask, Sam Lipsyte

Maybe you want to introduce your reader to the character, as a way of saying, “This is the voice that’s going to be living inside your head for the rest of the story/novel. Just, you know, know that.”

  • “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all, before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.” JD Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
  • “First, try to be something, anything, else.” – Lorrie Moore, How To Be A Writer
  • “True! –nervous –very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?” – EA Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart (There’s the whole story, right there.)
  • “You don’t know about me, without you have read a book by the name of ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,’ but that ain’t no matter.” – Mark Twain, The Adventuers of Huckleberry Finn

Maybe you want to state right up front that this isn’t one a them precious, airless short stories where some drunk divorced middle-aged white guy has a mild epiphany in a trailer park looking out at a garden gnome or whatever. No, this is a NOVEL. A novel with SWEEP and SCOPE. About the human goddamn CONDITION.

  • “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.”- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Or screw it, and just dazzle ‘em with language.

  • “Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.” – Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita
  • “‘When your mama was the geek, my dreamlets,’ Papa would say, ‘she made the nipping off of noggins such a crystal mystery that the hens themselves yearned toward her, waltzing around her, hypnotized with longing.’” - Geek Love, Katherine Dunne
  • “The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”—William Gibson, Neuromancer
17 Jun 10:30

Danger Mouse Reboot Gets 52-Episode Order, Horrible Histories Writer

by Brendon Connelly

It’s been in the works for a while but the official announcement dropped overnight. Danger Mouse is being rebooted by Ireland’s Boulder Media, and Horrible HistoriesBen Ward is on board to write the scripts.

We don’t know – yet – who will be providing the voices, but that’s already some serious talent behind the camera… er, drawing boa… er… computer.

Some things will be updated, of course, and DM’s new eyepatch is going to be more Google Glass than Arrr! Me Hearties.

The original Cosgrove Hall series ran for about ten years and was, quite regularly, brilliant. When a nostalgia weekend on CITV led to some repeats a year or so ago, Danger Mouse gave the channel its highest ever ratings.

Fraggle Rock and Knightmare did very well too, you know. I’m just saying.

A run of 52 new Danger Mouse episodes, eleven minutes apiece, will screen on CBBC from next year.

Danger Mouse Reboot Gets 52-Episode Order, Horrible Histories Writer