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April 24, 2014

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April 17, 2014

Rep. John Lewis’ ‘March’ Nominated for Will Eisner Award

A trailblazer in more ways than one, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., has another first to add to the list: the first member of Congress to be nominated for a Will Eisner Comic Industry Award.

Rep. John Lewis March Nominated for Will Eisner Award

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Eisner Awards, one of the industry’s highest honors, are awarded to the year’s best comics and graphic novels.  Lewis’ graphic novel “March Book One was honored with two nominations this year, receiving a nod in the Best Publication for Teens and Best Reality-Based Work categories.

The novel is the first in a three-part autobiographical series about Lewis’ participation in the civil rights movement.  The first installment explores Lewis’ childhood in Alabama and his early involvement in civil rights protests as a student at Fisk University.

Lewis co-wrote the novel with Andrew Aydin, his telecommunications legislative assistant, along with artist Nate Powell. The first-time novelists have been extremely successful, with “March” topping The New York Times best-seller list for paperback graphic novels and The Washington Post’s nonfiction list last year.

The winners of the Eisner Awards will be announced at Comic-Con International in San Diego this July.

Lewis is certainly no stranger to Comic-Con, becoming the first sitting Congressman to attend the convention last year. In San Diego, Lewis was met by enthusiastic supporters as he promoted his graphic novel.

Although Lewis will have to wait until this summer to see how “March” fares, a nomination certainly gives him a reason to dance.

April 2, 2014

Zombie Pandemics and Gobbeledygook Grace GPO’s Funny Title List

“Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic.”  It wasn’t an April Fools’ joke — this government document actually exists and was one of the Government Printing Office’s Top Ten Funny Federal Titles proving government documents aren’t always mundane.

Of course, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wasn’t actually predicting a zombie apocalypse with its contribution to the mix, so there’s no need to hoard water and binge-watch “The Walking Dead” — yet.  The agency was creatively informing the public how to be prepared for emergencies.  And the CDC wasn’t the only agency having some fun with their document titles.

Among those listed by Jennifer Davis on the GPO’s blog were “Gobbeledygook Has Gotta Go,” highlighting the issues with complex language in government documents, “America the Beautiful: Collection of the Nation’s Trashiest Humor,” and “USDA Saves French Donkey.”

“I love reading government documents for their data and their fascinating stories, but I usually wouldn’t consider them to be laugh-out-loud funny,” Davis wrote.  “And when I searched GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP), and picked my colleagues’ brains, I found that Uncle Sam sometimes gets his chuckles, too.”

And sometimes perhaps he laughs a little too hard? Read “Self-Motion Perception and Motion Sickness: Final Report on the Project.”

Coloring Book Chief Draws on Success of Ted Cruz Title

Really Big Coloring Books ® Inc. publisher Wayne Bell captured the imagination of the politisphere last fall by releasing “Ted Cruz to the Future,” an activity book chronicling the rise to power of  a certain headline-grabbing Texas Republican.

Coloring Book Chief Draws on Success of Ted Cruz Title

The kiddie book is such a runaway hit — “Amazon the company itself orders by the pallet. Several pallets in fact,” Bell gushed — that RBCB has rushed three more politically themed projects into production. Bell declined to identify whom, exactly, might grace the mostly blank pages (“We prefer not to tell, as we really do not want those being profiled to ‘see it coming,’ ” he told HOH), but did intimate that a handful of Senate lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are on the short list, while House members remain more iffy.

The new books are expected out within the next six months.

Having amassed six years of political workbook savvy beneath his belt, Bell has learned to pick his subjects carefully.

He published the debut entry in his burgeoning catalog of  “cultural event and political coloring books and novels” shortly after President Barack Obama clinched the keys to the Oval Office. Full story

March 5, 2014

Prose-Peddling Pols Swarm CPAC

The annual Conservative Political Action Conference is once again upon us, bringing together hundreds if not thousands of right-wing activists determined to crack the code to winning back over the government.

A number of prominent House and Senate Republicans are scheduled to rally the faithful during the weekend long strategy session.

Some are even bringing along some product to push.

In addition to the donation-driven receptions and private meet-and-greets sprinkled about National Harbor, several past, present and would-be politicos are expected to hunker down for book signings of their personal texts.

The nightstand stocking opportunities include:

Thursday, 2:30 p.m.: Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., signs copies of “Just Fly the Plane, Stupid!”

Currently No. 575,242 in Amazon’s Kindle rankings. Full story

By Warren Rojas Posted at 4:52 p.m.
Books, Reps, Sens

January 17, 2014

Exit Interview: Philip Minardi

With just hours to go before he officially cuts ties with Congress, GOP aide Philip Minardi took a little time to reflect on the rollercoaster ride that is working on Capitol Hill.

The House flack, who most recently handled press for Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-Minn., will be juggling communications duties for the Travel Technology Association starting Monday.

Minardi told HOH there are a number of things he’ll miss about working on the Hill. Full story

December 18, 2013

Booze, Books, Model Cars Traded Among Senate Secret Santas

Senators briefly set aside their budget deal bickering on Tuesday night for the chamber’s third annual “Secret Santa” gift exchange, organized by Minnesota Democrat Al Franken.

The holiday spirit inspired more than 60 senators to participate, roaming the marble corridors of the second floor with packages containing booze, food, dog toys and model vehicles after enjoying the Christmas cookie spread at the reception.

Vermont Democrat Patrick J. Leahy bellowed out “ho, ho, ho” as he breezed in and out, clutching a new Batman figurine from New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte to add to his extensive collection.  Full story

December 9, 2013

Former Hill Aide Spins Pages’ Tales Into Political Thriller

Newly minted author Michael Middlechurch uses the everyday drama of doing Congress’ bidding to propel the trio at the heart of his Hill-centric novel, “The Buddy System,” into the nightmarish side of politics.

The former House page handler told HOH he began writing his debut novel the day after the longstanding educational program was shuttered in 2011, weaving together the stories he’d so eagerly collected from participating high schoolers with a story arc developed for his own edification.

“I wanted to create a fictionalized account for why it ended,” Middlechurch explained, noting that he and many of the other instructors were left unsatisfied with the party line about budget constraints and modern conveniences rendering the program useless.

“The Buddy System,” the first book of a planned trilogy, was designed to delve into a “deeper reason that is more intriguing.” The main story line focuses on a trio of congressional pages and what they do in their off hours — “I created this apartment in Dupont Circle where they party and have a good time when they’re not in school,” Middlechurch shared — which, naturally, leads to a series of misadventures. (Paging Florida Republican Trey Radel!)

Although the novel is clearly fiction, Middlechurch said many of the characters and situations are rooted in reality. Full story

Palin Book Critiques: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Political pot-stirrer Sarah Palin’s new book, “Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas,” has been released just in time for the holiday shopping blitz.

Palin Book Critiques: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Based on the online reviews to date, the polarizing tome appears to be brimming with exactly what true believers and fervent detractors both wanted to hear.

The latest publishing effort by the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee marries the former Alaskan governor’s personal reflections about Christmas with her current campaign to shame secularists for presumably robbing this nation of its holiest of holidays. The book debuted in mid-November and briefly broke onto The New York Times best-seller list (debuting at No. 13).

A fellow Breitbart scribe (Palin pens a column for the conservative blogging network) praised Palin’s prose as a “brisk and enjoyable read.”

“Even as we learn that Todd Palin gives the Governor what she considers the coolest of Christmas gifts — such as a .30-06 rifle, hockey skates, and a ‘beautiful red manual ice auger for ice fishing’ — Palin packs powerful punches,” Peter Schweizer proclaimed late last week.

Critics, however, have been punching back via faux five-star (and some one-star) reviews on Amazon.

A commenter who identifies himself as Brian C. Gardner of Cleveland, Ohio, could not contain his excitement, declaring the item “the book America most needs right now” on the very day of its publication.

“Christmas is real. Not only is it real but, just as the earth was created in six literal days six thousand years ago, it is more powerful than the 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Veteran’s Day, Labor day, and Memorial Day combined. It is the Voltron of Holy Days, not to be confused with the liberal facade of ‘holidays,’” Gardner asserts in his tongue-in-cheek takedown.

A commenter who identifies himself as Joel Cruz of Chicago, Ill., marveled at Palin’s commanding grip on the issues of the day.

“In concise, two-syllable words and plenty of illustrations, Mrs. Palin calls us to battle, Constitution in hand, Bible in the other, and the Declaration of Independence in the other against the forces that would steal our Christmases and in doing so, return to the greater, snow-white America that we love. Mrs. Palin, I doff my tri-cornered hat to you and humbly lay my godless degrees in Bible, history, and theology at your Alaskan feet!” Cruz jeered. Full story

December 3, 2013

John Lewis, Top Shelf Productions Shower Congress With Free Comics

Top Shelf Productions, publisher of the top-selling graphic novel based on Georgia Democratic Rep. John Lewis’ contributions to the civil rights movement, is spreading the wealth this holiday season, gifting his congressional colleagues with a free download of digital versions of “March” and “Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story.”

John Lewis, Top Shelf Productions Shower Congress With Free Comics

(Courtesy Top Shelf Productions)

Lewis has spent the better part of the year sharing his debut graphic novel, the first in a planned three-part series, with the world. He broke ground by being the first sitting lawmaker to brave the wilds of Comic-Con, matched wits with a parade of cable talk show hosts (Stephen Colbert, Rachel Maddow) and has chatted up everyone from trained librarians to local readers.

This latest effort, however, appears to be more personal, as Lewis conveys in a note to be delivered to every congressional office today. Full story

November 14, 2013

This Week in HOH: Speaker Jim Wright’s ‘Busy-Beaver’ Co-Author

This Week in HOH: Speaker Jim Wrights Busy Beaver Co Author

Texas Democrat Jim Wright became the first speaker of the House to resign his office because of scandal in May 1989. Perhaps the handwriting was already on the wall in November of the previous year, when news broke about the titillating bibliography of the man who was set to help him write a book about his time in Congress.

From the Nov. 13, 1988, Heard on the Hill:

Tome on the range. Just as the controversy over Speaker Jim Wright’s last book, Reflections of a Public Man, seems to be dying down, the literary lawmaker is writing a new one, appropriately titled Mr. Speaker. The book is being co-authored by George Mair, Wright’s busy-beaver press secretary. Mair, the famed author of The Sex-Book Digest: A Peek Between the Cover of 113 of the Most Erotic, Exotic and Edifying Sex Books, is typing away on a tome of his own to be called The Rules of Love, illustrated by Scott Bennett. Both works have yet to find a publisher.

Wright went on to write other books, but “Mr. Speaker” wasn’t one of them. Mair wrote many more books, making quite a name for himself as a celebrity biographer and ghostwriter.

November 7, 2013

This Week in HOH: Jay McInerney Considers This Town

This Week in HOH: Jay McInerney Considers This Town

Long before Mark Leibovich took this town to task in his book “This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral — Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking! — in America’s Gilded Capital,” another celebrated writer zeroed in on the power and the glory that float through the air in Washington.

In the Nov. 6, 1988, Heard on the Hill column, Bill Thomas chronicled the D.C. visit of Jay McInerney, the author of “Bright Lights, Big City” and a zeitgeist-catching scribe of the times. Full story

November 6, 2013

John Schlimm To Join Next Vegetarian Staff Shindig

The ever-optimistic Congressional Vegetarian Staff Association is hosting another educational event on Thursday, part of an evolving outreach effort accentuated this time by the chance to hobnob with vegan cookbook author John Schlimm.

The late lunch/discussion is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. in the Capitol Visitor Center, room 217 (colloquially known as “meeting room south.”) Per staff, the complimentary luncheon — featuring sandwiches from Zenful Bites and sweets from the award-winning Sticky Fingers — is open to everyone (no RSVP required).

Schlimm, who released his latest work, “The Cheesy Vegan,” just last month, wasn’t born a devout plant-eater:

But it sounds like taking in the myriad sights/sounds/smells of a butcher shop at a young age made choosing his current lifestyle a no-brainer.

October 30, 2013

Peter King Says ‘Killing Kennedy’ Nails Shock of That Bygone Era

Peter King Says ‘Killing Kennedy’ Nails Shock of That Bygone Era

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

For Rep. Peter T. King, the most salient part about “Killing Kennedy,” a TV movie dramatizing President John F. Kennedy’s doomed ride through downtown Dallas in late 1963, was reliving the utter chaos the shooting loosed on the unsuspecting American public.

“It just captured the way the whole country just came to a halt,” King told HOH about the paralysis that gripped the nation in the wake of Lee Harvey Oswald’s defining political statement.

Peter King Says ‘Killing Kennedy’ Nails Shock of That Bygone Era

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The film tracks the lives of JFK, played by Rob Lowe, and Oswald, portrayed by Will Rothhaar, from 1959 until that fateful November day in Texas. It is based on a book by the same title co-written by Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly and presents grim portraits of everyone involved.

The dark sides of JFK (troubled leader burned by the Bay of Pigs debacle) and Oswald (paranoid psychotic with monumental delusions of grandeur) propel both of the main characters along their collision course, with their respective counterparts (Jackie Kennedy spends most of her time smoking, crying and/or fawning all over her unfaithful spouse while Marina Oswald is little more than an emotional, and sometimes physical, punching bag for her malcontent of a mate) dragged along for the brutal ride. Full story

October 21, 2013

John Lewis Brings ‘March’ Madness to Fantom Comics

After months of sharing his incredible life story on the road, Rep. John Lewis will bring local fans along for the ride Wednesday evening during a signing of his debut comic book, “March,” a graphic novel depicting his civil-rights-era exploits.

John Lewis Brings ‘March’ Madness to Fantom Comics

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The event will take place in the East Hall of Union Station from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday. Lewis will be joined at the Fantom Comics-supported event by his co-author and aide, Andrew Aydin.

Lewis has been making the rounds with his illustrated history — including a well-attended stop at this year’s Comic-Con — since earlier this summer. Fantom Comics manager Esther Kim, who told HOH she considers Aydin to be both a valued customer and a friend of the store, said the shop has had a hard time keeping up with the demand for the duo’s handiwork.

“It has been extremely popular. It actually sells out every time we stock up,” Kim said of the critically acclaimed work.

According to Kim, these types of promotional events are typically handled in-store (like a recent visit from “Star Trek” alumnus Robert Picardo). But she said the anticipation this time around is so great that they decided to lock down the larger space.

“Everyone who hears about it is very excited,” she said.

September 27, 2013

Archivist Gadfly Aims to Keep Ex-Presidents Honest

Dogged researcher Anthony Clark wants to peel back the curtain on what he believes might be the most blatantly revisionist outlets to ever operate on the taxpayers’ dime: presidential libraries.

Archivist Gadfly Aims to Keep Ex Presidents Honest

(Screenshot)

His forthcoming exposé, “The Last Campaign,” delves into the secretive world of how former presidents and their privately funded foundations put the happiest face possible on all that they accomplished, while also striving to sweep any negativity under the rug.

According to Clark, most modern presidential foundations — and, by extension, the monolithic showplaces they spawn — have abandoned any semblance of being merely academic, assuming more of an activist role in rehabilitating their namesakes’ legacies.

Full story

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