Sunday, May 30, 2010

Melville House Presents The Moby Awards for 2009's Best (and Worst!) Book Trailers

Ah Memorial Day weekend...something about that extra day just makes the skies a little bluer, the clouds a little fluffier, and the pigeon shit on the sidewalk a little less disgusting.

I went for a run in Central Park today. I've only been back there a couple of times since the weather's warmed up and it's still strange to see all of the green.

A few months ago the Great Lawn was covered in an army of snowmen. Now, the fountains are flowing and the pedicabs are out in full-force. I'm always impressed with those guys pedaling human bodies around in what essentially amount to over-sized red wagons painted yellow. Parts of Central Park are really hilly. I've seen some pedicab drivers (pedalers?) hop out at the really steep hills and tug their loads up manually, all the while chatting up their fares about the different sites they're coming to, entirely unwinded. Amazing.

But that's not what I wanted to make my post about. So, moving on--
The week before last I went to an event that, considering all laws of probability and rational thought, should not have existed, but, like so many things in the book publishing industry, went on in spite of all things logical and sane. 

This event was the first annual Moby Book Trailer Awards. That's right. Book trailers.

Presented by Melville House, an indie publishing house in BK I've mentioned in a previous post. The event was a red-carpet affair at The Griffin, a trendy bar in the meatpacking district.

(Side note: The meatpacking district used to literally be a meatpacking district in Manhattan. Up until the 80s, it was a slaughterhouse littered, fly-drawing area of town with blood-soaked cobble stones. Now, through the power of astronomical rent hikes and Manhattan's innate ability to reinvent the unreinventable, it's a yuppie's paradise littered in velvet-roped bars and over-priced restaurants, similar to Dallas's uptown.)

The event was an intimate affair with probably about 50ish people in attendance. True to my expectations of meatpacking district fare, my vodka pineapple was a steep $11. Also true to my expectations of that area's venues, the surroundings were very chic, with funky antique chairs and chaise lounges arranged in the center of the room beneath a stunning medley of chandeliers, further glamorized by an array of mirrors strategically placed to best reflect the fixtures' glittering glass. 

Kaci and I sipped our drinks and admired the surroundings while we waited for the event to start. Other guests included famous industry bloggers, authors up for awards, and anyone in the publishing industry who RSVPed using a work email address (which is how I, a lowly production assistant,  weaseled my way into an invite).

Everyone seemed really excited to see what this event was all about. The industry articles about it had been vague at best, promising only a "red carpet affair" that required "formal dress" for the presentation of book trailer awards and giving the date and location. 

Before coming across this event in a daily newsletter I subscribe to from, I had no idea that books had trailers. Silly, silly me. Apparently, in this new age of self-promotion homemade youtube videos by indie authors are the new craze. The purpose of this event was to showcase certain videos, the best of the year, the worst of the year, the least likely to sell the book, etc., in order to generate even more press for this new phenomenon.

When the award show started, a presenter announced the winner for each category and then we got the opportunity to see the winning trailer. Some were really funny. Some were really questionable. And some, thankfully, really made you want to read the book.

Click on the link below and scroll to the middle of the page to check out the nominated (and winning) videos and, if you like, leave a comment or two to let me know which ones you like best!

My two faves were John Wray's trailer for Lowboy and Kathryn Regina's vid for I'm in the Air Right Now .

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Fresh Ground Pepper Please!

Whew. What a whirlwind weekend.

It is entirely impossible that tomorrow is Monday and the start of a new week. I am not on board with that at all. 6:20 a.m. will most certainly come way too soon.

In any case, the past few days have been a ton of fun. New York is really coming alive now that it's springtime. People are everywhere and it seems like there's been a surplus of interesting events going on in the area.

Last Friday I went to an event put on by Fresh Ground Pepper, an organization that supports local artists of varying mediums. This particular night the focus was music. I realize that I recently published a blog on the NY music scene; even so, these acts were all so completely different from anything I described in my earlier post this counts as an entirely different topic.

I showed up not really knowing what to expect. A friend of mine sent me a vague facebook invite to the event which, I noticed immediately, was free. And, if nothing else, I'm a sucker for free. (I'm sure I would have definitelygone anyway to see Greg perform and support him at the show, but "free" helped!) 

It turned out to be a really cool hodgepodge collection of talent at a pretty interesting venue, The Tank, a non-profit performance space with stadium seating and sticky floors (probably covered in the only beer available at the concession bar--locally brewed Brooklyn lager). 

I was there to see Greg with his group, The Darklings, debut his newly written songs for a much-needed although not-yet-in-existence Broadway musical version of Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas

They performed the pieces in a group of three, each playing varying characters and miraculously changing their singing voices to fit the different acts. The songs themselves blended fantastically with Burton's existing music and Greg couldn't have picked more perfect performers for his group. They were, most definitely, The Darklings. Coupling the pieces with skeleton-hand gloves and fantastically fuzzy hats, the tone of the performance was a perfect Nightmare blend of light and dark, fun and fear. 

I was in awe. Gregory Van Acker is one of the most talented people I know and I cannot wait for the invite when this debuts on Bway.

Another group I thought was really unique and interesting was a twosome made up of James Monaco and Jerome Ellis, called, appropriately, James Monaco and Jerome Ellis.

In their bit one of them performs a monologue while the other plays an instrument. The music works with the pacing of the monologue to make the story's mood more or less intense, frantic, sad, or thoughtful. On Friday night the accompanying instrument was a saxophone, but in this youtube clip, it's a piano. I really liked the way these two complemented one another. It was just a great fusion of good writing and musical talent.

All in all, this was a great show and I'll definitely have to try to make it to more Fresh Ground Pepper stuff this summer.

Bedtime now. Hope everyone's Monday isn't any more irritating than usual.

<3 Leigh

Also--side note. Congrats to all of the new recent grads!! Are any of you moving to New York and interested in writing about it? I'm looking for guest bloggers to view the city with fresh eyes (mine are getting old and tired. I've been out of school a full year now. I'm practically in dentures.)

Contact me if you're interested or know someone who might be!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives Premiere Kills at Tribeca Film Fest

I wanted to write about this last weekend, but then terrorists targeted TS and, well, I was distracted. 

But, insurgent activity has been minimal since Friday, so I can focus on more interesting NY news, namely, the Tribeca Film Festival held from April 21-May 2 this year.

Israel Luna, a friend of my dad's, actually directed a major film in the lineup: Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives. The film's been the source of big tension between GLAAD and the Tribeca Film Festival. At one point, they even demanded the festival pull the film. Fortunately, that didn't happen and all the controversy just equated to a lot of awesome free press, including an article in The New York Times.

My dad flew in town and took me to the midnight premiere Friday, April 23. I don't want to make anyone jealous (OK, maybe I do...) but there was definitely a red carpet involved. I may not have set foot on it, but I saw many leggy, stilettoed people who did and it was everything I always thought it would be (or at least appeared to be so from my vantage point behind the photographers). 

The film itself was fabulous in every since of the word. I don't want to give anything away, but it's basically a revenge story with a Kill Bill/Charlie's Angels/ women-kick-ass-in-general feel. It's about a group of transgendered women who, after being the victims of a brutal hate crime, fight back. Hard.

There's blood. Lots of it. There's also makeup. Lots of it. And, somewhere in the middle of all of that bodily fluid and liquid eyeliner, there's a cast of characters you can't help but love and a story of true friendship. Every girl should hope for friends like Pinky La'Trimm and Tipper Sommore; women with the fierce sense of loyalty and strong stomachs necessary to rip an abusive ex a new one.

The film received reviews on both ends of the spectrum, but those who actually took the time to watch it seemed to be more positive. In his new LGBT blog, legendary Village Voice writer Michael Musto even cheekily recommended that GLAAD give it an award.

The Tribeca Film Fest is over, but anyone in Dallas or the general ArkLaTex area (so, most of my reader base, dear friends!) can still catch Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives at it's Southwest premiere at Q Cinema's International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival in Fort Worth, Texas June 5-6.

Also, if you happen to be in the state of Washington June 12-13, you could make it's premiere at the Seattle International Film Festival.

Check out the trailer below and, if you go, please be sure to drop me a line and let me know what you think of it!

For more information and fab trailers for other movies written and directed by Israel Luna, go here,