Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Story Acceptance - Unknown Superheroes vs. the Forces of Darkness

I received a short story acceptance the other day, on my birthday in fact. It's for an anthology to be called Unknown Superheroes vs. the Forces of Darkness edited by Steve Dillon and Will Jacques.Will is also illustrating. Another image here 

It will be headlined by Jonathan Maberry with a story called "The Collector." The guidelines were pretty generous on the parameters of the heroes, so I wound up writing a tale called "Side-Saddle" about a heroine in Georgian England. 

Themed anthologies are fun because they kind of lead you to pull new things up from the well of your imagination. I don't know that I would have settled at the keyboard and said: "I think I'm going to write a monster story set in Georgian England" otherwise. 

Word on the forces of darkness my hero encounters will just have to wait until the antho's release, but I thought I'd use the old blogspot here to capture a few thoughts before they slip from my mind. I used to be able to remember everything in chronological detail, but I've reached that point where some of the colors fade and some things run together when you look back. 
Colonial Meal on display at Colonial Williamsburg

When I received the invite, my first thought went to a heroine I created earlier this year for a story called "Grand Tour." That was written on invite for an anthology calling for a story with a Hammer Films tone. I'm not sure of the status of that anthology, but if it doesn't see light I'll find another place for that story. 

Research such as the fact that young men went on grand tours for educational purposes in the 1700s or so coupled with an interest I've had for a while in the actual vampire legends of central Europe in the pre-John Polidori "The Vampyre" era. That all seemed to fit a Hammer mode.

Much of early vampire, and to some extent contemporary zombie traits, are seated in Serbia and adjacent regions, and I started thinking about the relative of someone like Arnold Paole, believed to be one of the first vampires in the European scares. 

What if the relative of an early, revenant-style vampire, maybe someone with ties to the Ottoman empire, felt responsible and compelled to track down a vampiric relative and any vampires he created?

I was pleased with how that story turned out, so when the Unknown Superheroes invite came along, I was still in an historical mood. 

I thought at first Andela of "Grand Tour" would be the star of another adventure. I envisioned her riding up to a British estate in a carriage, about the discover some new challenge while she visited. 

Then in research, I ran across Celia Fiennes, a real  young woman who rode across England on horseback in the late 1600s and early 1700s and kept a journal of her travels. 

Suddenly I thought Andela might ride up to an estate on horseback instead of in a carriage. 

But the more I read about Celia the real traveler, the more another character took shape, Cilla Frane, driven to travel and destined to encounter dark forces. 

I put a lot into shaping her story, and happily the tale came together, aided by a lot of research and even casual visits to spots like Colonial Williamsburg, though my tale unfolds on the other side of the pond.

I don't live far from Colonial Williamsburg's living museum these days, so dropping in to see tables spread with colonial-era meals and visiting colonial era-style gardens melded with my visits to London and Scotland in years past. Everything helped to shape Cilla's world. 

It was a lot of fun to spend time in her world. Deets here when the story comes out, and if all goes well Andela and Cilla will ride again into adventures of their own. Or maybe they'll meet one day. 


Thursday, February 10, 2022

From the Sid Archives - Interview with Joanna Going of the Dark Shadows Revival Series

Here's another article from my file cabinet. I loved the original Dark Shadows as a kid, so I was happy when the chance came along to interview actors from the revival series in 1991. It was polished and atmospheric, drawing heavily on the film House of Dark Shadows, and sadly didn't last long on NBC.

Joanna Going was one of several cast members I interviewed as the show was cranking up. A couple of moves let the press kit for the series slip away, but it was cool when it arrived at the newspaper building. 

The great shot of Going and Ben Cross as Barnabas Collins was just one of the color pics or slides that were included. 

Ben Cross and Joanna Going - Dark Shadows

Wednesday, February 02, 2022

From the Sid Archives - Interview With Gates McFadden of Star Trek: The Next Generation

I've been going through some files in anticipation of a move to a new place, and I ran across some fun things from my newspaper days.

Here's an interview I did with Gates McFadden in the middle of the Star Trek: The Next Generation run.

Full article .pdf here

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Wednesday Reads Fool's Run YouTube Review

Should have shared this a while back. It's a nice review of Fool's Run by E.G. Stone at QuillandPen.com.

Tuesday, October 05, 2021

Revisiting The Midnight Hour

I'm pretty sure I watched The Midnight Hour when it first aired in 1985. I don't remember much about that first viewing except an okay-fine reaction. I wouldn't have been watching for deep analysis then, and everything other than a vague notion of its plot pretty much got tucked away in my memory.

I decided to revisit it via YouTube. Because: October. And because the Pure Cinema podcast spoke highly of it fairly recently in an assessment of solid TV movies.

So, what a pleasant surprise a re-watch proved to be.  

In retrospect, it's heavily influenced by the Thriller video, coming down the pike just a couple of years after that event. It even has some of the same creative team involved in makeup and costumes.

But it's otherwise quite a bit of fun with a touch of camp and a sweet love story woven through its undead storyline with interspersed musical numbers and a comic performance by Fridays' Mark Blankfield as a zombie out to grab what he can of past life pleasures.

It also features LeVar Burton, Shari Belafonte, Lee Montgomery of Ben with Jonna Lee as a fifties teen returned to get one more chance at things she missed. Oh, and Kevin McCarthy of Invasion of the Body Snatchers on the flip side.  

There's one great musical number fronted by Shari Belafonte and one great horror set piece with a vintage '50s auto overrun by the undead. A few other flourishes including Jonelle Allen as a colonial vampire shore it all up. 

Wikipedia reports it received mostly negative reviews in the day. They're wrong or at least not taking everything it is now into full account.

It's not a fully satisfying feature experience for horror fans, but it's still worth a look for the intriguing package that it is. 

Check it out on YouTube here.

Friday, October 01, 2021

A Big Hand for the Little Lady and an Old Household Movie Viewing Mystery Solved

My wife, Christine, loves The Odd Couple original film, something about the combo of Neil Simon's humor and Jack Lemmon's performance as Felix. Anyway, it was streaming on Pluto the other day. I pointed it out, and she settled in to watch the what was left.

And Walter Matthau on screen suddenly reminded me of a conversation with my dad years and years ago. The, I guess, mostly forgotten comedy western A Big Hand for the Little Lady with Henry Fonda, Joanne Woodward as the the "little lady" and Jason Robards came on TV, probably on NBC. This would have been the very early '70s.

As the show neared its conclusion, my dad said he'd seen it before. "But it wasn't with Henry Fonda."

An ad for the upcoming broadcast of Cactus Flower popped on the screen about that moment with a tight shot of Walter Matthau's face. "It was that fellow there," he said. 

Seemed weird, but we chalked it up to an odd coincidence or something like that and moved on.

But Walter Matthau--busy with a different set of poker buddies--was on my screen again all these years later via the Internet, which we didn't have in 1971. I thought, why not check it out? Maybe my dad had a point.  

The IMDB entry simply credits Sidney Carroll as the screenwriter, though there are mentions in the trivia of it originally being written for TV along with allusions to an alternate title or two. Big Deal in Laredo et al.


Let's Go the the Wiki
I moved on to Wikipedia, and gained clarity. In 1962, Big Deal in Laredo was produced for television as an installment of an anthology called The Dupont Show of the Week. It earned Emmy nominations including one for Matthau. There's even a press photo of him in character out there for purchase.  

Son of a bitch, my old man was right. It's a little thing, but that brought me a bit of joy. The TV show would have aired a month after I was born. 

My old man was a route salesman for a wholesale grocery company. When he came home from work after driving all day from mom-and-pop grocery to mom-and-pop grocery in rural Louisiana, he still had an hour or two of making changes to his price book, a heavy, leather bound thing with semi-circle holes punched for easy removal and replacement.

He would have been working on those changes or pricing order tickets from his customers as we watched anything. That was probably how he watched The Dupont Show years earlier and with a newborn in the house, more focused on the storyline than the brand umbrella. 

It's nice to have little things mined out of the memory, reconnecting with little moments from life flowing along. You never know what's going to matter. 

Some triggers on a quiet Sunday afternoon are good ones. 

Monday, August 09, 2021

The Strong Women in Science Fiction Event


Strong Women in Science Fiction Event!

Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse, which includes my story "The Witch of Washington Pari," is part of the Strong Women in Science Fiction Event for August 2021.

Check out all there is to see. 

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