Wednesday, November 30, 2005
I was prompted to check out the Internet Movie Database entry on the film, due in 2006, and I discovered a message board entry -- no more lightweight PG-13 horror movies, someone celebrated. Here's a back to basics terrorfest.
The world's done another 360 again. Back in the '80s people were singing laments about the feeling that horror films had to be R-rated and spiced with gore. The economics of general audiences changed that more than a desire to create atmospheric art.
Some horror films need to be R or NC-17 . I'm all for a new "Hills" being as gory as it wants to be.
But I do love quiet scares too, and sometimes those are the best.
The Others with its eerie twists.
The Village with its lurking fears.
The Haunting with its unseen ghosts and loud noises.
The Univited with its ghostly seaside mansion.
Hey, it's all good.
We realized they are one of those things that sort of fade away without your realizing it.
But those of us of a certain age recalled the little telephone dial dispensers the clerks used to crank out your green or yellow stamps, depending on where you shopped.
We were mainly an S&H Green stamp family. (It's sort of a testament to their resiliancy, I guess, that they're still around in a virtual format: S&H Greenpoints.) I think we probably pasted in a few Top Value stamps as well.
I don't remember getting anything but crap with them. The thing that stands out most is a hair dryer my mother picked out.
I was a teenager and trying to wear my wavy hair long without a lot of success. A blow dryer seemed like a requirement.
My mom didn't get the memo on blow dryers.
She came home from the Green Stamp store with a plastic bag that had a tube sticking out of it and a heat generator of some sort, though I don't recall that part.
Some of the younger people in our office, whom we polled the day after dinner, had no knowledge of trading stamps.
They don't know what they missed.
Sunday, November 27, 2005
Yet, as I've written on this blog in previous posts, I was deeply saddened by the death of Glenn Mitchell of KERA in Dallas, so I bumped a non-holiday album to the top of my iPod playlist because its an anthology I might not have discovered had it not been discussed on "The Glenn Mitchell Show."
The Rose and the Briar
If you're interested in the roots of contemporary music or music history in general, The Rose and the Briar: Death, Love and Liberty in the American Ballad and its companion book edited by Sean Willentz and Greil Marcus are essentials. The volume includes a collection of essays on each of the CD's tunes--story songs ranging from one of the oldest folk songs, Barbara Allen, to Bruce Springsteen's "Nebraska." From what I can tell its chilling POV account of Charles Starkweather's killing spree and execution is as historically accurate as "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgeral" which I mentioned in an earlier post.
This collection is not for all tastes. Some of the tunes are so twangy and, well, earthy that music snobs will make you change tracks if you're not listening on ear buds, and I speak from experience.
But the songs are spirtiual meditations from artists both familiar and lost in the crumbled pages of history and they're worth a few spins of the disc or drive, to put you in touch with a rich legacy. I asked Christine to get it for me last Christmas after hearing that talk show sometime in the fall and it's still a great gift.
2. Pretty Polly, The Coon Creek Girls
3. Ommie Wise, G. B. Grayson
4. Little Maggie, Snakefarm
6. Deliah's Gone , Koerner, Ray & Glover
7. Wreck Of The Old 97, John Mellencamp
8. Dead Man's Curve, Jan & Dean
9. Buddy Bolden's Blues (I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say), Jelly Roll Morton
10. The Coo Coo Bird, Clarence Ashley
11. Volver, Volver , Vincente Fernandez
12. The Foggy Foggy Dew, Burl Ives
13. Black, Brown And Beige, Part IV (COME SUNDAY), Duke Ellington & His Orchestra, Mahalia Jackson
15. Trial Of Mary Maguire, Bobby Patterson
16. Down From
17. Sail Away, Randy Newman
18. Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts, Bob Dylan
20. Blackwatertown, The Handsome Family
Friday, November 25, 2005
Oliver followed me out and reverted to the wild for a while, scratching trees instead of my sofa and diving into piles of leaves.
We're not getting a lot of color change this year, just green to brown.
Kind of wish we had a little more transitional coloring, but the brown can be interesting.
Found I was a little disoriented after focusing on a lot of closeups. Had to pick my way back to the house with care, but it enhanced some story ideas.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
As those who were watching know, The Night Stalker, with all of its floating words and X-Files style, was pulled from the ABC schedule in the middle of a two-part episode that focused on the show's neo-werewolf backstory.
This morning I'm downloading The Sea, the conclusion of the story that started in Episode 6, The Source. I'm paying a buck 99, so somebody's recouping a little of their investment on the series.
It's definitely the first time I've finished off a two-parter that way. It won't be the last, I'm sure, so regardless of how popular the show is in download it's a new step. Sure people were sharing unaired shows long ago--that ep of Buffy that was bumped in Canada or watever is one example. But this is for sale by the original owner.
It confirms the long tail theory espoused in the October 2004 issue of Wired--the Internet offers a mass audience for the least popular entertainment choices.
Let the fans see how the story ends.
How `Arrested' can cash in
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
They're a sample of his on-air style for those who never got a chance to enjoy his show. They don't give you the full flavor of what he offered as a talk show host, but the are a reflection of his personality and flare. Visit here to listen.
Blog links to the KERA Glenn Mitchell memorial pushed it onto the blogdex roll, a testament to how well loved and respected he was.
My lunch hours are never going to be the same.
"Sorry, mom, I got a C because a demonic spirit with a rope tried to tie me up."
Actually the situation sounds sad and unfortunate. It's a reminder of how powerful superstition can be.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
This photo on Flickr reminded me of a poem she wrote one year for the school's literary magazine. She described a tree in winter, dormant, unchallenged, waiting. "How safe" she noted.
She chose not to be safe, not to settle, not to give up. Even though she was fighting illness, she traveled, finished her degree and generally raged against the dying of the light. She was anything but a tree in winter.
We lost touch after school. Years later, I was manning a booth at some function or other and bumped into her daughter, who told me she'd died a couple of years before.
It was too early, of course, but she made good use of her years.
And she made it possible for me to look at a quiescent, leafless tree on a cold gray landscape and think of life.
Monday, November 21, 2005
Sunday, November 20, 2005
On the morning I heard Johnny Cash had died, I was driving through a cold September rain, headed to sit at the bedside of my father, who was also dying. He would live less than a month past that Sept. 12.
Cash was one of three celebrity passings we chatted about as Dad’s health slowly declined. John Ritter and Warren Zevon were the others.
But it was Cash's music that had been in the background of more of our lives together, even though Cash was not a favorite of my father early on. A little ironic since he grew up in Ferriday, LA, which produced Jerry Lee Lewis, Mickey Gilley (my father always pronounced it with a J sound the way he said the family always did) and Jimmy Swaggart.
My dad's musical tastes were more oriented toward Herb Alpert and Pete Fountain as well as an eclectic assortment of others, at least in my lifetime. Family legend had it that when he and my mother went on dates in the fifties he always played Hank Williams on road house juke boxes.
Cash was more a favorite of mine even in my pure Top 40 days; my tastes are eclectic as well. By default my dad heard a lot of him too.
That talking singer
My first awareness of Cash came in 1969 on The Johnny Cash Show. We watched, but Cash was perceived in our household as a performer for my generation or at least teens of those days; I was still pretty young in 1969.
I guess on the strength of A Boy Named Sue and a few other songs with Shel Silverstine lyrics, my dad always thought of Cash as "that talking singer." And he turned up here and there on our pop culture radar:
We went to see A Gunfight on a double bill with True Grit when the former came out in 1971. My dad was rooting for co-star Kirk Douglass in the showdown. (Some magazine of the time, that I read on one my mom’s beauty salon visits, reported that Cash demanded that saloon girl Karen Black be clothed in scenes with his character and that he went on strike until producers worked that out. Jane Alexander, Douglass' on screen wife did the bare-bottomed or "wrapped only in sheets" duty that still earned a GP raiting. It was GP in those days.)
I Walk the Line, starring Gregory Peck and featuring Cash's soundtrack tunes, aired frequently on network TV.
I had a greatest hits album in the '70s that seemed to support that "talking" notion with an inclusion of "Sue" and a few others, though I never owned "Johnny Cash The Singing Story Teller" which would have cemented it if "Ragged Old Flag" hadn't come along to finish the impression.
Cash's frequent appearances on Billy Graham Crusades probably earned him the most respect from my father.
Hurt as background
As my father died, Hurt became a significant background track with the video playing frequently on television during those days. As he sang the Nine Inch Nails lament of a heroine addict, the wizened Cash, ravaged by multiple diseases, seemed to embody all physical suffering as well as introspection and reminiscence.
I got American IV that Christmas along with Zevon's The Wind, both ironically suitable for mourning, retrospection and celebration of life.
What's on the Pod this week?
With Walk the Line in theaters and Cash on television, my playlist needed Cash tunes for this week. Songs from American IV are there and also "Ring of Fire" with those exuberant Mexican trumpets.
But I added perhaps the first song of Cash's that ever stuck with me - 25 Minutes. I heard him sing it on his show in 1969 and it lodged in my brain even though it was not repeated nearly as often as other tunes.
It's a sad song, the Silverstein lyrics often spoken instead of sung, recounting a prisoner's final "25 minutes" before the gallows.
Yet it takes me back to my childhood home and to sitting in the den with my family and to an uncle who postulated I could understand lyrics the adults could not because it was music of my era.
I added the Pearl Jam rendition of the tune as well because my tastes are still eclectic. It’s a little rawer and sprinkled with more profanity, but it emphasizes the universality of an ARTIST’S music.
Just found out Cash's "Ring of Fire" was featured on the 9/19/03 episode of This American Life. I'll be listening to that online when I get a chance. Found out about it on the Swaprocks blog.
Saturday, November 19, 2005
A great gift idea for the horror fan.
Friday, November 18, 2005
THE Canadian (CTV) preview for next week's episode - visit The Tail Section.
Extra lost episodes for cell phone - OK will it work on a video iPod? I need to step up my lobbying efforts for Christmas. If not I need to upgrade my cell. Right now its best feature is wallpaper of my cats.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Exactly what House needs
As I watched those interviews, it struck me that a British actor is exactly the person to bring a negative character like Greg House to life. Laurie's considerable talents and comedy background are important elements, but he also brings a sensibility to the character that I bet would not have worked nearly as well with an American actor.
American television audiences don't usually respond well to darker characters. Years ago Buffalo Bill with Dabney Coleman was a great show but never captured ratings.
William Goldman in Adventures in the Screen Trade, if memory serves, talked a lot about the demand for likeable characters.
British audiences on the other hand have made lots of nasty sorts top viewing choices:
- Edmund Blackadder - who sometimes had Laurie a more upbeat sidekick
- Basil Fawlty
- Chef Gareth Blackstock
|You Are a Martini|
There's no other way to say it: you're a total lush.
You hold your liquor well, and you hold a lot of it!
Found the test doing the blog hopping thing, you know hitting the "Next Blog" button. It was on this blog.
Grey Goose is always a nice gift.
My favorite characters
I read Ark stories in EQMM and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine mainly in the '70s and '80s. My favorite Hoch characters include thief-of-obscure objects Nick Velvet and solver-of- -impossible-crimes Dr. Sam Hawthorne, but Ark with his mysterious past is always the one I look for first when I scan EQMM's contents. They stand out with their extra hint of spookiness.
I wrote Mr. Hoch a couple of years ago, sometime after my father died. I told him how much my father had enjoyed his stories and mentioned my own appreciation for Ark. He was kind enough to write back and mentioned Ark would appear in Murder on the Ropes, boxing mysteries by various authors. I keep meaning to seek that out.
One day we'll get a big collection of all the Simon Ark tales. In the meantime, seek out Mr. Ark where you can find him.
Read an interview with Mr. Hoch here. It includes a mention of another Simon Ark tale I missed in a 2004 EQMM issue.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
But the Lost podcasts offer interesting tidbits, especially on the show's writing. I found it intriguing to hear Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse discuss the character development you've probably observed if you're a fan like me.
They bring in a character who's seemingly negative i.e. Sawyer, Shannon and now Ana-Lucia, let you hate 'em for a while then shed light on what made 'em so nasty.
It's a good example to study for anyone interested in creating compelling fictional characters. It certainly makes for richer, more complex characters and everyone knows bad guys are usually more interesting than good guys.
Comingsoon.net includes a report today with more information about Ana-Lucia.
Demi plays a mystery writer who retreats to a secluded fishing village to mourn the loss of her 5-year-old child but becomes embroiled in a "supernatural murder mystery" instead of getting the rest she deserves.
Looks like it will be on DVD only in the U.S. Coming in January.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
I noticed it first on author Lee Goldberg's blog, and he makes valid points about the show's shortcomings.
Still, it was a well-intentioned stab--OK maybe attempt is a better word--at a quality horror series on a major network.
Maybe Carl Kolchak will still stalk again some day. In the meantime at least there's Moonstone Comics.
It would have been impossible not to discuss the Gordon Lightfoot song on the anniversary. The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald makes the incident real, a chronicle of the mysterious sinking that is more factually accurate than most ballads. CNN called it haunting and that too is accurate.
On the heels of a string of Lightfoot hits, the tune was released roughly a year after the incident in 1976. For me, then, it was a catchy hum-along enriched by Lightfoot's distinctive voice, the same voice that had stuck in my head with "Sundown" and "
"Edmund Fitzgerald" takes something less universal and transports us into the experience. It was a while after the tune was on the charts that I realized it was based on a true incident that cost 29 crewmen their lives. I was a kid, and the original report didn't make it into current events hour. When the book The Great Lakes Triangle by Jay Gourley came along, I got the whole account. Touted heavily in radio ads the book was an attempt to link crashes and shipwrecks in the way the Bermuda Triangle had captured everyone's imagination. As I recall the book sought to link Otis Redding's death near
At any rate, over time, I've come to appreciate how much detail "Wreck" includes from the timeline to the suspected distance from safe harbor.
Today, looking back it's impossible not to feel a tear come to the eye as the tune plays in testament to the lost 29, memorialized, again as the lyrics note, with the pealing of a bell in the Maritime Sailor's Cathedral.
A few of those men were in their twenties. Most others were, as the song notes, "well seasoned"-- in their 40s, 50s or 60s, working men who had toiled no doubt many years on ships. They came from hometowns as far away as
Not long ago on an episode of "House," Hugh Laurie's acerbic doctor charged that it's genetically impossible for human beings to feel true empathy for a distant people, but not so if there's a bridge. That's the power of story whether it is on a page or in a song.
"Wreck" is a classic ballad, recounting a story the way the tunes of the early troubadour’s did.
That's why it's in my playlist this week. For the 29.
Saturday, November 12, 2005
It was worth the trouble. Like the the first, the stunning visuals are what most of the to do's about.
•Lots of black leather
•A Nosferatu-looking vampire with huge bat wings
•Moody weather shots - rain and snow
•Historic back story
•Brother Cadfael himself, Derek Jacobi
Coming in January. View the trailer here.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
I always enjoy Stephen King event television. I didn't get to see the complete "Kingdom Hospital" until the DVD, but I usually catch the various miniseries in first run.
I think "The Shining" was my favorite though "Storm of the Century" was interesting as well.
The Rose Red stuff was not my favorite, but I found it interesting because I've always been a fan of "de-haunting-a-house" thrillers like the original The Haunting (I wrote a piece on that Shirley Jackson novel as an "indepedent scholar" for some educational volume once upon a time) and The Legend of Hell House. - (Check out this great page on Richard Matheson, author of Hell House.)
I re-watched the latter a couple of days after Halloween, having DVR'd it from a Fox Movie Channel airing. It was probably the best quality print I'd ever seen.
The last time I watched it must have been back in the aforementioned day most channels came in fuzzy at my house.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
It would have been nice to have had it during the three-week hiatus, but I'm happy it's here now: the official "Lost" podcast.
I haven't listened to it yet, but it's nice to have one more supplement to the weekly fun and the endless examination of the minute following.
Choice of weapons
I use Ipodder for Podcasts because it gives me a little more control over downloads. With the iTunes Podcast subscriptions, you can fill up gigs quickly without trying because they download automatically.
I only use iTunes for the Podcasts I absolutely positively want every week like Ancestor and now "Lost."
A happy side effect
I was pleased to discover the other day that with the recent iTunes upgrade, bookmarking was added to MP3s, the file type of most Podcasts. Took me a while to figure out which checks to put in place in iTunes to change other Mp3s on my pod, but now I don't have to listen to Old Time Radio shows in one sitting. They book mark just like Audible files.
Despite my enthusiasm, I'm saving the "Lost" Podcast for tomorrow.
That will be soon enough to hear from creator/executive producer Damon Lindelof and executive producer Carlton Cuse. If I force myself to listen in the gym it'll make me work out one more day this week.
That was the whole point of getting an iPod in the first place. :cool:
Thursday, November 03, 2005
I'm using MS Word 2003, and it's started a war. The initial strikes were silent and secretive, leading me to believe I was making typographical errors. I have a character named Barth. (Tip of the hat to John Barth? If so it's subconscious because I saw an avant-garde reader's theater production of one of his stories 20 years ago and its haunted me to this day.)
Left rebels and doesn't tell right what he's up to
Anyway, I was editing some copy and I noticed his name appeared as Berth in one instance.
Thought I'd just hit the wrong vowel even though the E's at a pretty good diagonal stretch from the A. So I changed it back and went on with mulling over Barth's inner conflicts and my desire to make them rich and meaningful.
Then I discovered another occurrence of "Berth," and another. Either my pinkie was starting to take on a mind of its own like that Clive Barker story "The Body Politic", or something strange was going on.
I started wondering if imps or gremlins had invaded my keyboard. And of course they had. Not mysterious spirits but techno gremlins out to drive me slowly over the dark edge of madness.
I've tried several ways to cast out the minions of Bill Gates, but so far nothing has worked. I have to go back and change the e to an a again.
I've had to do that at various times in the past with letters Word has insisted on capitalizing, but this is the first war over a proper name.
I think Word is winning. Barth is short for Bartholmew, but lately I've been thinking maybe my protagonist could be named Bertha. A boy named Bertha? It would certainly stand out in contemporary fiction.
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
The film seems to be an original from James Gunn of the new Dawn of the Dead and live action Scooby Doo flicks.
Gunn is great at blending humor and horror, and the trailer suggests Slither might be one of those winning mixes of gross-out horror and laughs.
It stars Nathan Fillion of Serenity and Firefly, and a cast of a lot of slugs.
View it here.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Here are some recent ones I've enjoyed:
1. The Green Mummy by Fergus Hume - The mummy of the title has South American origins. It's stolen after being purchased by a British researcher and the man he hired to deliver it is murdered. Much of the plot revolves around family and romantic relationships and the like, but I still found it engaging and fascinating.
2. The Beetle by Richard Marsh - Three interconnected stories chronicle this tale of a hellish creature seeking vengance for the desecration of a tomb in Egypt. It's a great horror-gothic.
3. Three John Silence Stories and Three More John Silence Stories by Algernon Blackwood - Six great horror mystery stories featuring one of the early psychic detectives. It's a Victorian X-Files. Silence battles fire demons, survives haunted houses and investigates strange towns with mysterious histories - all great reads.
4. Dr. Who by various authors - Tales of many different Doctors from the BBC. Some are in more readily downloadable formats than others, but with a little patience there are great selections.
5. Can Such Things Be by Ambrose Bierce - A collection of great stories including "The Damned Thing."
I told Patrick, graphic artist extraordinare, we'd try to enter earlier next year. I think the amount of display time was a factor. We entered on deadline because I didn't notice the contest until a few days from deadline.
It was fun, though, and I'm pleased with our entry. I think I'll print a version for my office.