Thursday, August 27, 2015

Interview I did in 2010 about Vegan Revolution With Zombies

Interview I did to promote Vegan Revolution...With Zombies on Animal Concerns of Texas an El Paso Texas based animal rights show on Public radio. From October 2010

Friday, August 21, 2015

New Movies I Think You Should See!

Cop Car is A great low budget indie thriller that is part coming of age, part thriller and all fun. Kevin Bacon is fantastic.

I am not a huge Guy Ritchie fan but I loved his updated Man from U.N.C.L.E. which man manged to hit all the right notes.

Book Review: In The Gulfs of Dream By David Barker and W.H.Pugmire

The Gulfs of Dream and other Lovecraftian Tales by David Barker and W.H. Pugmire
Hardcover, SIGNED AND Numbered Hardcover Edition,Trade paperback 274 pages PUBLISHED June 2015 by Dark Renaissance Books

Hailing from the American northwest far far away from the northeastern lands where Lovecraft lived and worked these two authors certainly carry his flag. I have read very little work before from either but I have enjoyed several Pugmire live readings in Portland at the H.P. Lovecraft film fest. David Barker I knew less about other than he was a writer also from Oregon.

This collection has novellas co-written by the two authors and collects solo stories by each other. I can see why these two were drawn to each other. I doubt I could have told you who wrote each story with a blind taste test. Having their names before the stories did help to give little clues to make makes each tick.

Pugmire as an author looks very modern but his style and often his stories feel as though they are pulled straight out of 1935. The same could be said of Barker. I have to admit that this is not my favorite style of horror, but if you like the grand old style of H.P Lovecraft you can't go wrong here.

The opening and title novellas were fantastic with meta moments of the authors inserting commentary about the form and style they were using. In one meta moment a character talks about his own writing owing too much to Poe. In the title story characters have asides talking about what a weird tale is or is not. It talks about a actual Museum of Weird Tales.

This book is not exactly my cup of tea but I am really impressed by it. Barker and Pugmire make a natural team and create atmosphere of dread that feels like it comes from a dusty old book in the library.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Book Review: The Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker

The Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker

361 pages

St. Martin’s Press

There is a reason that Clive Barker separated from the pack of horror writers even in the over populated post Stephen King flood of the 80's. Just look at some of the titles. The Damnation Game, Weaveworld and the Great and Secret Show to name three. I am also a fan of some of his less popular novels such as Coldheart Canyon and Sacrament. One of the problems with the Scarlet Gospels is Barker set the bar so impossibly high in his career. To make matters worse and set the bar even higher Barker teased this book for 15 years. Teasing your fans like that with hints and hype in interviews can only make the expectations grow even higher. In reality maybe we should have taken this as a warning.

I have been reading Barker since I was 8th grade. He was one of my heroes from that time. It should be noted first that I consider several of his short stories to be among the best EVER written. I think he has written multiple Masterpiece novels. Hellraiser and Lord of Illiusions are two of my favorite films. I have met Clive twice, and he was amazingly kind to me. I hate to do this, but I didn’t like the Scarlet Gospels despite eagerly waiting and wishing for it for 15 years.

The disappointment level for most fans is quite high. Before I even got a chance to read I heard more than one person suggest the book was ghost written. As I started the book I certainly saw why many people thought this was the case. It didn’t read like a Clive Barker book. For one thing a great deal of the prologue was “Told” in dialogue sometimes with very little description at all. That is something I don’t recall ever seeing in a Barker book. The man’s strength is his verbose and often beautiful use of language.

It is important to point out that beginning writers often have stories/novels rejected for this. One of the most common pieces of advice young writers need is “Show, Don’t Tell.” Huge chunks of this novel is “Told” in characters talking to each other. If you open the book to page 4-5 and read it, you’ll find almost entirely dialogue. I admit at this point I thought there was no way Clive wrote this.

I mean if you read most Barker novels there is no mistaking it’s him. You know you are reading a Clive Barker novel. Do I think it was indeed ghost written? I am going to say no. Lets keep in mind that Clive has had a divorce, and several bouts with serious illness since this title was first discussed in interviews. It is unreasonable to expect the man to write with the kind of power he did in the past. Not to mention it had been some time since Clive had written anything besides Abarat and he had seemed more focused on painting in the last decade. Writing is like muscles, atrophy can set in and it seems there was some lost mojo.

According to Revelations a website devoted to Barker’s work the Scarlet Gospels was originally “230,000 words, the page count of 368 pages reflects its editing down to a final word-count of just over 100,000” That is a lot of cut words. While it has been suggested that several storylines were cut, I suspect it was a over zealous editor at St.Martin who cut chapters down to almost all dialogue. There is a chance that a author's cut might be better or “More Barker.” There is a long novel’s worth of words on the cutting room floor.

Now on Goodreads I gave the book three stars, which is only low if you compare it to a lifetime of five star reviews that I have given Barker in the past. I don’t think it was nearly as bad several of my friends, including a few who just couldn’t finish it. I think Hellraiser nerds will enjoy it. If you go in with the bar set appropriately then you might enjoy it.

There were enough Barker-ish moments of invention and weirdness to entertain me. But I can’t ignore the problems. The story brings together Harry D’Amour the private detective that was in Barker’s film Lord of Illusions and his novel Everville and the Cenobites uniting his mythos. Barker spoiled the end not only in interviews but the dust jacket letting everyone know that Pinhead would die.

Harry and a group of friends end up walking (a lot) around hell and getting inbetween a battle between the Hell Priest (pinhead) and Lucifer. Yes the devil is a character. That is my biggest problem with the book. Barker’s greatest strength is creative imagination. He doesn’t write vampire novels, or use classic monsters. He would also come up with wild new terms and original never before monsters.

The cenobites who were weakened by over exposure in films sequels were a good example. Demons to some, angels to others but they were like no demons we ever saw before. You had a sense they came from reality that was almost beyond our ability to imagine. It wasn’t just characters out of the bible like on CW’s supernatural.

None the less Hell, demons, and Lucifer get very unBarker attention in this story. Once Lucifer and Pinhead are fist fighting in a crumbling castle in hell…well I was checked out. When I read Hellbound Heart or any early Barker novel I would marvel at his imagination. How did he think of that? I am not sure I did that once in 100,000 words of Scarlet Gospels. That is why I think everyone is so Bummed.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Amazing Punk Songs

Amazing Punk Songs

In celebration of Amazing Punk Stories release those of us involved in the book to celebrate our all time favorite Amazing Punk Songs.

First the man who introduced Amazing Punk Stories the author of several dozen of my favorite collections and novels. The author of the Other End, Wetbones, In Darkness Waiting and more. John Shirley:

My favorites are Pretty Vacant by the Sex Pistols, Blitzkrieg Bop by the Ramones, Blank Generation by Richard Hell, Institutionalized by Suicidal Tendencies, Rise Above by Black Flag.

The Editor of this project, and all books released by Deadite Press. The author of Shatnerquake and Super Giant Monster Time. and owner of Dredlocks longer than his arms. Jeff Burk:

5: Rancid – Journey to the End of East Bay

Born from the ashes of the seminal ska/punk outfit Operation Ivy, Rancid is arguably one of the most successful bands to ever play punk. Combining ska, street punk, old-school hardcore, and straight-up rock n’ roll, their super catchy songs have earned them fans all over the planet. This song is a wistful look back at the legacy and experience of half the band having been in Op Ivy. Like all of the best Rancid songs, it’s a mournful look at bad life experiences but tinged with vague hope and joy.

4: Fucked Up – The Other Shoe

Combing occult themes, blistering hardcore, and experimental song writing, there is no one else like Fucked Up in the scene. Each of their releases are a sigil (magic spell) in musical form (seriously, this is what they say). “The Other Shoe” is a personal favorite of mine that showcases what makes the band so unique. The song veers back a forth between tranquil beauty and vicious rage. And it’s a great one for massive singalongs at live shows.

3: Leftover Crack – Gay Rude Boys Unite

Bringing the crack rock steady beat, we have NYC’s Leftover Crack. Originally known as Choking Victim, Leftover Crack can best be described as a combination of ska and anarcho punk. Even though they are one of the defining bands of US third-wave ska, don’t expect anything like Reel Big Fish here. Leftover Crack songs are about doing drugs, killing cops, and burning churches. Their over-the-top politically vulgar lyrics and offensive stage shows (like reenacting the 9/11 attacks with papier-mâché buildings and planes) have gotten them banned from venues all over the world. Truly punk rock and I love the shit out them.

2: The Clash – (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais

These English punks are my all-time favorite band. Of the first wave of punk, there was no other band that was as political or willing to experiment with mashing other genres like reggae, dub, and folk with the then still new punk sound. This song is the perfect illustration of their signature sound of pogo-punk combined with traditional ska. It also features some of lead singer/songwriter Joe Strummer’s best lyrical ranting. It starts off telling a story about a night out at a disappointing reggae show and then switches into poetic criticisms on the punk scene, race, and money. As their slogan goes – The Only Band that Matters.

1: Crass – Big A, Little A

The original anarcho trouble makers. Crass were less of a band and more of a political activist collective that organized protests, played pranks on the media/government officials, help create the concept of DIY, and played music as well. Crass took the concept of first wave punk and applied it to radical anarchist/leftist politics. Their songs are less music and more political speeches/essays about the dangers of capitalism, creating one’s own life, the need for feminism, and hatred of any sort of authority figure. “Big A, Little A” distills everything that makes Crass amazing into one perfect six-minute long rant featuring some of my all-time favorite lyrics:

“Be exactly who you want to be, do what you want to do I am he and she is she but you're the only you No one else has got your eyes, can see the things you see It's up to you to change your life and my life's up to me The problems that you suffer from are problems that you make The shit we have to climb through is the shit we choose to take If you don't like the life you live, change it now it's yours Nothing has effects if you don't recognize the cause If the program’s not the one you want, get up, turn off the set It's only you that can decide what life you're gonna get If you don't like religion you can be the antichrist If you’re tired of politics you can be an anarchist”

The Artist of this project and many other amazing works of art. Nick Gucker:

5. Dog Faced Hermans - Virginia Fur Anarcho punk art band, making throbbing angular rhythems that sound familiar and at the same time new. One of the best live bands I’ve ever seen. The song Virgina Fur covers everything from noise guitars to drop down improv bits with a herky jerky jazz sensibility and pure rawness. Political and moving on many levels.

4. Butthole Surfers - Hey One of the many stand-out songs on this first EP, Pee Pee the Sailor. This band and song helped broaden my understanding of what punk is, inclusive, weird and unique. Creative and off-kilter, sick and twisted, this weirdly melodic tune will stick to you like a virus.

3. Cramps - Garbage Man The first song off the record ‘Bad Music for Bad People’ opens up with a solid beat, the crunchy guitars kick in and Lux Interior immediately challenges you “You ain’t no punk you punk! ” You have my attention. With a lurid fuck you swagger and prevailing sense of pulpy fun and horror overtones while riffing on some solid garage punk. The Cramps immediately burrowed under my skin and I committed.

2. Dead Kennedys - Riot One of the more unique punk bands, with a style all thier own, always topically satyrical and musically creative and driving. Riot is a beautiful collection of all the things I love about the Dead Kennedys, intersting intro, long buids to blistering overdrive madness. I’d often put this song on before heading to skateboard. Klaus Florides guitar tone and angular surf-stylings immediatly spoke to me and convinced me that I wanted to play guitar. So I did. Started learning from a broken accustic my sister gave me that she found in a garbage can. My first band was called The Excreted Republicans.

1. Scratch Acid - Owners Lament This song, off all of Scratch Acid’s work, sticks out with it’s somber and sorrowful violin intro, and then the band kicks in and it’s tribal, moody and driving. Pulling you down a long dark corridor of a mystery that remains unanswered. Swampy and articulate while unhinged and sinister, this is one of my favorite punk songs.

Now as the author of this book and blog I went a full top ten.

10. Subhumans – No

This British political punk band has many classics, but this song gave me chills when I saw them play it live. Personal and political melded it all together. 9. 7 Seconds - In Your Face

Through most of their history 7 seconds are amazing consistant, like a hardcore AC/DC. I love this song in part because of what it says. "It's not just in my head it's in my heart." the back-up vocals of Ian Makaye are awesome, and showed that they walked and rocked together. 8. Dag Nasty - Under your Influence

I love the sing alongs in this amazing early song about straight edge. The way Smalley goes from talking to screaming in certain parts, the way it repeats just an amazing song. A powerful anthem. 7. Sado-Nation- Johnny Paranoid

The pounding rhythm, the energy. This song with vocals by John Shirley who introduced Amazing Punk Stories captured a time and place. This was depictured in Northwest Passage a documentary about Portland's early punk scene. A must watch for fans of early American punk. 6. Misfits – Where Eagles Dare

The Misfits are a pretty dumb band but also amazing at the same time. This song rules. The sing along, the tempo and the weird lyrics. So many classics songs. 5.Circle Jerks – Deny Everything

Yes I picked a 28 second song. I love this song. Perfect punk song, come on it is amazing. Short, fast and has a sing along. It kicks off an amazing record, and is kind of a mission statement for the record. 4. Cro-mags - World Peace

From the opening bass line, the way it all kicks in. “All you hippies better face reality…” This song expresses a anger and hopeless feeling that we all get watching the news. The mid tempo break down is one of the best mosh parts ever written and the sing along is powerful. If you ever see the crom-mags live this song is amazing in the pit. 3. Dead Kennedy’s - (the only tie allowed myself.) Government Flu

Along with the “Advice from Christmas past” intro this song shows the full amazingness of DK. The music is crazy and sounds like no other band, with the wild guitars etc. The lyric are clever satire and a more interesting way of writing an anti-“Government” or conformity song. I have to give special props to Nazi Punks Fuck off

Look this was the first punk song I ever heard and granted I wanted to hear it because they said fuck. I thought that was hilarious in the summer of 1987. Whatever this is a genius song. Besides being their most directly “hardcore” song it is intelligent. The line “You aint hardcore if you spike your hair, if the jock still lives inside your head.” In one minute this song address more ills of the punk scene than a song this hard and fast has any right too. 2. Minor Threat – in My Eyes

As a song Straight Edge had a bigger global impact, but this song to me is the best Minor Threat song. Besides expressing my frustration with the culture around alcohol it is just an amazing song. Heavy and powerful music while expressing strong feelings of anger, disgust, sorrow and more. Just a powerful song.

1. Bad Brains – Attitude

I picked a live video from 1979 for a reason. Who was playing this heavy, this fast, with riffs like this in 1979? Only one band. There are thirty or forty amazing Brains song from this era I could have choosen. I choose this song not only because the music is insanely awesome, but the lyrics. The stereo type at that time was that punk was nilist crap as the Sex Pistols said “ Fuck this and fuck that…” This song was about PMA, and being positive force for good. Hell yeah.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Book Review:The Hitchhiking Effect by Gene O’Neill

The Hitchhiking Effect by Gene O’Neill

Dark Renaissance Books, 2015

Trade paperback, 274 pp., $19.95

(No cover image yet)

Gene O’Neil is one of my favorite under rated horror writers. I know it is weird to call a writer with blurbs from Kim Stanley Robinson, Scott Edelman and publisher’s weekly unsung but I think as good as he is it is a shame he is not a household name. Serious horror as literature fans know his name and work. I have reviewed him three times before including a fantastic collection of stories set in the San Francisco neighborhood the Tenderloin. The Taste of Tenderloin is a fantastic read that gives a great taste of what O’Neil can do while painting a vivid picture of the infamous section of the city.

The Hitchhiking Effect is an even better example of O’Neil’s work not just because it spans his thirty year career but because it is fantastic top to bottom. The emotional depth of this book highlights the O’Neil trademark. Stories that make you feel things. You will feel the emotional depth of these stories long after you close the book. The theme if there is a connective tissue seems to be the insanity and impact of war on the people forced into them.

The book opens with a wonderful forward by the author that explains the title. I found this a fantastic and inspiring look at how O’Neil learned in his early days the craft of writing from meeting peers and in one case making eight hours drives with one. Really neat.

The first story “The Burden of Indigo” was O’Neil first major sale to Twilight Zone Magazine in the 80’s. This is a vivid and moving tale of a post apocalyptic world where criminals are dyed colors so everyone knows what they did. Wisely the author expanded that story into a novel that I believe is finally coming out soon. That story was a favorite of mine along with The Hungry Skull (fantastic tale of loss) and the short but epic feeling closer ‘Firebug’ that was written to tie up this collection and it certainly did. Firebug follows a fire investigator as he enters the mind of arsonist he is trying to catch.

It also doesn’t hurt that the book comes with 11 fantastic pieces of art based on the stories by Steven Gilberts who is a artist apparently from my home state of Indiana. This book is worth the twenty dollars for the stories alone but the art is amazing. If you like lyrical, emotionally rich horror fiction that leans heavy on the literature side of the genre then you simply can’t go wrong with Hitchhiking Effect. This book should be in your collection and giving a prime spot in the new releases because O’Neil deserves new readers.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Screenplay Review: Killing on Carnival Row

Killing on Carnival Row by Travis Beachum

It is impossible to read a screenplay for a made movie and not seen the finished movie in your head as you read. It is interesting to breakdown how it was finished but really reading an unproduced screenplay is a totally different thing. Since I am working on doing more screenwriting I decided I needed to start doing more of that. Reading well regarded screenplays for movies that never got made seemed the right idea. It is one thing to read William Gibson's Alien 3 script or Oliver Stone’s first draft of Conan but I wanted to read one with no history. No conception in my head at all.

I choose to read script that has been creating buzz for years. Travis Beachum's Killing on Carnival Row. This script has never been made but it has hung out year after year on hollywood's blacklist, the producer guide to the best unproduced screenplays. It got a draft by G Del Toro who I believe optioned it. In fact he liked it enough that he hired Travis Beachum to co-write Pacific Rim for him.

What makes KCR such a fascinating script is the various fantasy and noir genres it crosses and the worlds it builds in it's 117 pages. Screenwriters are taught not to direct on the page but in simple strokes Beachum does fantastic world building. Set in The Burgue a city that is part Noir, part fantasy in many ways reminded me of China Mieville's New Crobuzon. (in the novel Perdido Street Station)

In this noir local humans, faeries, pixies and vampire co- exist in a steampunk ish setting that mixes gothic and modern. It is well realized and in short pieces of description we get a a vivid picture. The story is of a serial killer targeting faeries, who mutilates them by taking their wings. The main character Philostrate is cop who gets framed for the crime.

I thought the script was fantastic as a piece of work that stands on it's own. My favorite line of dialogue was said by a character named Bottom who said "You think you know a bloke, then you find a tub of Pix’s blood in his loo." The bottom line is I hope one day someone makes this movie.