Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Violent expression of manhood

Yesterday morning I had MSNBC on at work while I was cleaning up and caught the press statement of quarterback and dog abuser Michael Vick. Certainly enough has been said about this scumbag that I hadn’t felt the need to comment before. After watching his so called apology I have been disgusted that no one is pointing out a simple fact.

Vick managed to give an apology to his coach, his teammates and all the children who may have looked up to him but at no point did he say he was sorry to/or about the dogs tortured and killed under his direction. He said dog fighting was awful and that he rejects it, however does anyone believe that he wouldn’t still be doing it if he was under so much pressure?

He clearly still believes he did nothing wrong by using the dogs, and he was willing to take the guilty plea on his involvement in the killings yet lied about gambling. That shows a really messed up set of priorities. He shows more remorse about playing football than anything that has happened to those dogs and the judge should nail his ass to wall for that reason alone. He still believes dog-fighting is ok in his heart and that apology proves it.

So what does this have to do with Ted Nugent the motor city madman?

After getting home from work I saw an article about Ted Nugent in Rolling Stone. Nugent was on stage with two machine guns saying, “Obama, he’s a piece of shit. I told him to suck on my machine gun. Hey Hillary,” he continued. “You might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch.”

We in the Animal Liberation movement have long hated Ted, who like Michael Vick seems to tie his exploitation and domination of others closely to his manhood. Nugent’s political speech is yet another manifestation of his patriarchal insanity. The man is one of the most public defenders of killing animals for sport. His bow hunting is no different ethically from Vick putting dogs to death.

While Nugent would argue that he eats his kills, the health benefits of vegetarian diet negate any logic in this thinking. He has spent a lot of energy on making hunting into a manly activity in the public eye. Nugent clearly gets a big boner from expressions of violence and domination. That is the real reason he hunts or resorts to violence hate speech to make a political statement.

I hope that more people disgusted by Vick’s actions will widen the circle of compassion and see that violence against animals is never ok, no matter how hidden or justified it is by our culture.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Review: Dying To Live by Kim Paffenroth

First things first I know a lot of jaded horror readers have long ago written off the Vampire genre as overdone and lame. Not me, as a genre I think vampires are wide open for thousands of paths but the novels do require a fresh spin. The only genre I was afraid to read before was the zombie novel. Don’t get me wrong I love Romero Zombie movies, hell I loved Land of the Dead a movie that many zombie fans were let down by.

The most interesting looking zombie fictions to me in the past were the books that subverted the genre. The Rising by Brian Keene and Cell by the King are not exactly Romero rules, this statement coming from a guy who hated idea of running zombies when I heard about it. So obviously I have mixed feeling about zombie novels. I finally swallowed my pride and watched the Dawn of the Dead and found running zombies were pretty scary looking. So could I be wrong again? Are zombie novels a good thing?

After my first read I’d have to say hell yeah!

Permuted press who put out this very nice looking trade paperback has in the last few years built up a reputation for putting out so many zombie books in the last few years it reminds me of the scene in Day of the Dead when the front gate is opened to the bunker. They have done a similar thing to the independent horror fiction market.

I have to admit if I wasn’t sent a review copy I would probably have never read this book, so let me say I am glad to have had the experience. It is a short but effective novel that lives up to the publisher’s promise of a thinking person’s zombie novel.

A novel true to the Romero style could do no less and perhaps the best thing I can say about Paffenroth’s first novel is that I could see it fitting in nicely with the original dead films.

The novel is a first person narrative seen through the eyes of Jonah a college professor turned zombie apocalypse survivor who finds a small community living in a museum. While I didn’t really connect with the narrator I enjoyed side characters like Popcorn and Milton a lot for reasons that should not be spoiled.

Pafferoth is a professor himself in religious studies and uses his knowledge to weave deep themes without a heavy hand. Dying To Live is an intense work peppered with chilling moments – one that impressed me was Jonah stopping after braining a zombie to look through his wallet. That was perhaps my favorite moment.

While I don’t think huge amounts of new ground were broken this book is a must for zombie fans. It also was good enough I intend keep checking out permuted’s releases.
7 stars out of ten.
For more about Permuted press...
Next review I Will Rise by Michael Louis Calvillo
Upcoming posts about the motor city madmen, Jet Li stuff, and Sawn Song Vs. The Stand

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Good news becomes bad, then good again...

Ok, Cari and I spent the last year living on the ass end of nowhere because we were saving money and planning a move to Canada. Various opinions from immigration lawyers, Canadian consulate and more telling us we were good to move north. In the last stage of applying for my work permit I was told I’m not legal to even step on Canadian soil.
It appears that resisting arrest (charges I have received in various protests) are considered felonies in Canada. Even though at least one of those times I was resisting by standing still on sidewalk and the cop decided I was “looking at him funny.” I’m not allowed in Canada. I can’t help at laugh at this since the city we were moving to passes out needles to drug addicts. I’m so dangerous….

I am aware that when World Horror Convention was in Canada that many horror geeks had to stay at home because of simple offenses. I was under no delusion that Canada was a utopia of free speech, I live across the border and watch Canadian news. I know how you treat your first nations, how you rape Alberta for oil, and lets face Canada your shit stinks too.

I wanted to live in Canada because Victoria was in Canada and it was not worth fighting for one city.

We were given advice on how we could appeal to consulate, but decided that at this point in our life we didn’t want to battle to live in a country that is not that different from our own. We have lots of friends in Portland and enjoyed our visit last year so we thought we would land in PDX.

Not only is Portland like a huge version of our hometown (many in Indiana call Portland big Bloomington) but it has a active Vegan and horror/bizarro writing communities. I think we will like it.

I’m not sure how this will affect my writing for absolute underground but I intend to do serious reviews here, and podcast reviews through Punk Horror. Reviews coming soon.

This also means of course I canceled at the anarchist book fair in Victoria. I’m really sorry about that….

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Good news bad news update…

Good news: September 8th 2007 I’m doing a workshop called “Using fiction as a weapon” At the 2nd annual Victoria Anarchist Bookfair. I’ll also be leading a Discussion panel on radical politics in Science Fiction and Horror. That will be at Dark Horse books in Victoria and Robert of Dark Horse will be adding his wisdom to the discussion. That panel will be recorded for podcast that will be up on Punk Horror press. If your in the northwest come be apart of the fun. I’ll also be tabling with Punk Horror press materials and books. I’ll update with the exact times in the next week or two.

For more info on the bookfair check out http://www.victoriaanarchistbookfair.ca/

I have two reviews that just went up at Monster Librarian. If you go to the “what’s new” page you can find them. If you sent me books for review these are the ones I have gotten and in the order you can expect reviews to be posted here. Once a review goes up here I might still write about it in Absolute Underground, but I wanted to wait to do the reviews until after my column sees print.

Expect Reviews of: Dying to live by Kim Paffenroth, I Will Rise by ML Calvillo, Voyeurs of Death by Shuan Jeffery, Pretty Young Things by Dominic McDonagh, Suicide girls in the after life/Chemical Gardens by Gina Ranalli.

Bad news: Just wanted to take a few minutes to talk about the Vault of Punk Horror Anthology. Another delay, we are hoping now to have it done and in your hands by Halloween. If you don’t know what the Vault is – it’s a short story collection I co-edited with Gabriel Llanas he’s half of the Punk Horror press team (that would be Gabriel and P.G. Stuart). The project has attracted many fantastic horror authors many of which also have long standing careers in punk rock and hardcore. A few Bram Stoker award winners and several nominees, they have all volunteered their fiction and we have volunteered countless hours to finish this project because it is a benefit for victims of domestic violence in Alaska the state with the worst problems of DV in the U.S.

Did I mention the introduction was written Dee Snyder? Pretty cool.

We had planned to have it released by the end of this month, but as always with projects like this we have been delayed. This month was stupid time for us to plan this. For one thing I’m moving to another country this month for the first time in my life. Paul (P.G.) Stuart is on a long bike trip from Portland Or. To Eugene, they are stopping along the way to check out sustainable habitats. Rick has been delayed by life from working on the cover and Gabriel has three kids so he is always busy, busy being super-dad.

We are hoping to get going again soon. We have a cool interviews coming up with Johnny Strike, Jeremy Robert Johnson and an interview Cody Goodfellow and Paul did with Gabriel and myself. They will be in the E-newsletter and then on the Punk Horror website. We are also ready to release the table of contents.

Bless John Skipp for taking thirteen years to finish Mondo Zombie because it makes us look not so bad. Ha-ha!

Keepin it real!

Syracuse Vegan Straight Edge represent!

article about Syracuse Vegan Straight edge

I was looking for an old friend Pete and I found this article with him in it...and a picture of Earth Crisis Best band ever.
I recently found old pictures from when I lived in Syracuse. I had alot fun living there. I may have to scan some pictures soon and post.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Horror Fiction underground needs to Embrace Legend

I am Legend by Richard Matheson is widely considered to be one of the greatest horror novels of the twentieth century. The mark of its influence could not possibly be rated. It is more than just another vampire novel it is perhaps the darkest and most effective vampire novel to be written in the wake of Stoker’s Dracula. Everyone who has read it is nodding in agreement; right now I would bet a finger on that.

If you only know of it from the trailers of the upcoming Will Smith movie of the same title then let me tell you something about it. I am Legend was written in 1954 for a writing class by then struggling author Richard Matheson. He went on to write novels and for screenplays Hollywood including penning classic episodes of the Twilight Zone.

Read it today and you will be struck with how strong and timeless it is(outside of the brief mention of nuclear war in 1976), how the intense drama and suspense writes circles around many authors working today, and most of all the sheer brilliant story telling ability of Matheson.

Hollywood has attempted twice to turn this novel into a film, in the fifties Vincent price starred in the Last Man on Earth; an ok adaptation that showed film was not ready for such a nightmare. In the seventies Omega Man starred Charlton Hesston and in the 3rd act so strayed from the novel it was unrecognizable. In the late 80’s Ridley Scott was set to bring a faithful adaptation to the screen when 20th century fox told him that he had to cast Arnold Swarzenegger as the last man fighting a world of vampires. He backed out thankfully.

20th century fox recently went into production with Will Smith in the lead. My fellow horror reading geeks were in an uproar. Fearing a film that included Will Smith “awww hell no-ing” his way though it. Personally I loved Will Smith in ALI and actually liked I, Robot so at first I was somewhat optimistic. Then word got out that they were moving the story out of L.A. which is an important setting for the book. Horror geeks filled the internet with annoyance. Word got out that the vampires were not even vampires anymore. More anger, and then the ultimate insult came with the news that the most important element of the novel, the main character being completely alone in a world taken over by vampires was gone.

Now I was angry! What is the point! I remembered Matheson telling the audience at the 2005 Bram Stoker awards that “it was their third chance to get it wrong.” Indeed. I had told several people I was refusing to see the film. Then I saw the trailer. I thought to myself after attacking it all this time it didn’t look as bad as I thought. Still bad, but maybe better than Omega Man. I had refused to see the Dawn of the Dead re-make and when I saw it I had it admit it was at least a fun movie. Could I be wrong? Does it matter?

I’ve thought a lot about this now and I have decided that we as horror reading geeks have an important role when this film comes out. Its Will weekend and the movie will sell a lot of tickets. We need to be spreading the word about the novel. Making sure that in the aftermath we are there to tell people about the amazing novel. I don’t know how many fans of Stir of Echoes (also a 1960 Matheson novel) had no idea the novel existed. So your mission should choose to except it is to convince two I am Legend ticket holders to buy the book. Talk loudly as you walk out of the theater about how good the book is. Send out e-mails. Something - anything to get this quality novel the respect it deserves.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Why this blog?

Lets talk about this for a few moments. I am going to assume that everyone reading this blog doesn’t know anything about me. Or that you know only about me what you can read on the links over to the right there. A few of you have read my book, a little more of you have interacted with me online and several I’ve known in various ways out there in the real world.

First and foremost I enjoy writing about and reviewing horror fiction. I resisted this urge for a few reasons. One as an author myself I didn’t want to judge others work because who am I to say a book is good or is not. I didn’t want a bad review of someone else’s work to come back and bite me when my work goes out.

Second who needs another opinion. Every so often a book came around like “The Other End” by John Shirley released by Cemetery Dance. It is amazing flipside of the coin responding to the Left Behind books and I felt it needed more exposure. So I wrote to Apex digest (a fantastic Sci-fi and horror mag) to ask if I could review it. The book while selling well in limited edition is in essence what the mainstream is missing in the sci-fi and horror small independent press.

I got to thinking that I wished for away to get more attention to the small press and all the fantastic Horror, bizzaro and science fiction that was being overlooked. I don’t have any illusions that one more blog could do that. What changed my opinion happened during a visit to British Columbia to go apartment hunting.

I should mention that my wife will be going to grad school in Canada starting next month. I happened to pick up an issue of Absolute Underground; it is a national magazine in Canada that covers mostly metal, punk and a few articles on horror movies. I wrote them asking them if they would be down for a column on horror fiction.

Well since they said yes I wrote a few authors, and posted to a few boards that I wanted to write about the small press and have gotten a lot of books passed my way. At the same time Dylan a fellow Hoosier and web-master of Monster Librarian asked me if I could do more reviews for him.

I decided that I was going to need a space to make more commentary. Since the column would be bi-monthly I couldn’t cover everything I wanted to there.

At the same time I am moving to another country for the first time in my life. I am working on selling my first novel, developing a screenplay and writing a second novel. Interesting times indeed, I thought a few blog entires about this might be interesting for people to read. Well at least a few of my friends- ha-ha.

I’m going to try hard not to overdo this but I’m sure I’ll be putting up a few important news stories relating to the themes and message to be found in my first short story collection Screams from a Dying World. If you have not read it most of the stories have ecological and Animal Rights messages that I attempted weave into the stories. The book is also a fundraiser for Animal Acres farmed animal sanctuary.

So here we go…