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Saturday, February 25, 2012


Posters by the students of PSJA North HS on
the many topics of the Alex Van Helsing series.
This may well be the first-ever triptych on the live of
Dr. John Polidori.
Gang, I had a great week. I spent the past week visiting schools in the PSJA (Pharr-San Juan- Alamo) ISD in Texas, visiting no less than fifteen schools:

  • LBJ Middle School
  • PSJA North HS
  • Sotomayor HS
  • SW-Escalante MS
  • Kennedy MS
  • Liberty MS
  • San Juan Middle
  • PSJA High 
  • Alamo Middle
  • Austin Middle
  • CTA/ Options HS
  • Buell Central HS
  • T-STEM Jeff. HS
  • Memorial HS
  • Audie Murphy Middle

I had such a fantastic time. One thing that PSJA ISD did that was new to me was the make the author visit into a reward for readers. Generally the only students who attended were those who had read enough to qualify and had even read Alex Van Helsing: Vampire Rising (proven, believe it or not, by passing an Alex Van Helsing Accelerated Reader test.) The result: these kids were motivated and wonderful, and I spent five days surrounded by students full of questions. We talked about books, writing, vampires, and Alex, and a bunch of other stuff.

At Costa Messa in McAllen with book distributor
Pat Anderson of Overlooked Books.

And check it out! San Juan Middle School's librarian, Minnie Lazo, posted an Animoto video regarding one visit that I really enjoyed!

Thanks PSJA ISD-- especially Ms. Nora Galvan, the Media Director who made it all possible!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Tales from Development Hell

I'm a real sucker for books about the history of movies-- particularly those that detail intricate stories about how projects  came together-- or sometimes didn't. (My taste for these things goes all the way back to the Medved Brothers' Golden Turkey Awards, the grandfather of bewildering backstage stories, among other things.)
I just got a new book called Tales from Development Hell by David Hughes and it's chock full of geeky movie "unhistory." For instance there's a whole chapter on various versions of Lord of the Rings, and a chapter on "The long road to Batman Begins" with details bout Darren Aronofsky's Batman Year One project.
Ever wonder why it took so long to get a reboot of Planet of the Apes going, or what went wrong with Tim Burton's version? There is a whole chapter on that here, too. The new version of the book is updated (for instance, a version I read a few years ago hadn't yet contemplated Rise of the Planet of the Apes, whereas this one does. I love this book.  Definitely check it out!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Podcast Kind of Goes Off on Bram Stoker's Dracula

The Castle Dracula Podcast has returned with BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA (1992), and we kind of go off on it. Or at least I do; we have Drew Edwards defending and Tony Salvaggio in the middle. I think I called it the biggest disappointment since The Avengers (1998) at some point. 

Hear the new episode of the Castle Dracula Podcast: