Except he’s been demoted to just any “Prisoner” and beware of Episode 40 that went up today too.  In fact, timewise, #40 showed up in my email before the real McCoy, #39.  Such are the mysteries that roam the Interwebs.  Nevertheless the one titled “Prisoner,” née “The Third Prisoner,” originally published in LVWonline.org (as Honorable Mention, Ligonier Valley Writers 2008 Flash Fiction Contest, “Zombie Stories”, November 2008) as well as in Brazil in I ANTOLOGIA LUSIADAS (in Portuguese as “O Terceiro Prisioneiro,” Ediciones Lusiadas, 2009), along with a few other places in English, is now up with its slightly shortened title in FLASH IN A FLASH, EPISODE 39.  If you’re a subscriber, just plunk your email announcing the fact (cf. January 20, 14, et al.).

But if you’re not, there may still be time, and subscriptions to FLASH IN A FLASH are free. To try it out, press here.  Or if you prefer, I understand episodes are eventually gathered up for a future FLASH IN A FLASH anthology — except that that one probably won’t be free (of which more will be here when/if it becomes known).

We are excited to announce the first round of acceptances for inclusion in BURNING LOVE AND BLEEDING HEARTS.  This is our charity anthology to raise funds for the Australian bushfire victims.  All sale proceeds will be donated to the Australian Red Cross and matched dollar-for-dollar by Microsoft (up to $50k) as part of their Giving campaign.  This was the announcement on Facebook today, and so it can now be made known:  This is the “Mystery” acceptance of January 15’s post, with preliminary details just released — despite being still open for submissions “of 1,000 words (ideally, but we’ll consider any length as it’s for charity!)” until January 31.

The guidelines:  The theme is Valentine’s Day, so we’re after dark, suspenseful, menacing, memorable tales of human love gone wrong, or monster love gone right!  We want to have your stories by end of January please!  It’s a tight deadline, but we think it’s a fun theme and a worthy cause, so please get your writer’s heads on and start scribbling.  So what better story for me to send but one concerning those New Orleanian vampire ladies, les filles à les caissettes (see e.g. May 2 2019, et al.), one as yet unpublished of the literal-minded but always ready for fun Claudette?  And best of all, titled simply “A Saint Valentine’s Day Tale.”  And thus, five days ago, Editors Louise Zedda Sampson and Chris Mason agreed.

So there’s no money in it, but les filles are not averse to a worthy cause.  Should you be good with that as well, more information can be found here, or if you would simply be interested in a whole bunch of flash stories on love gone bad, to be out in time for Valentine’s Day, for details/Kindle pre-orders press here.

Just a quick reminder, if schedules hold up my “The Third Prisoner” should be tomorrow’s FLASH IN A FLASH feature (cf. January 14).  But to read it one must subscribe (it’s free — for two stories a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays!) which one is invited to do by pressing here.

Traditional silhouette animation as invented by Reiniger is a subdivision of cutout animation (itself one of the many forms of stop motion).  It utilises figures cut out of paperboard, sometimes reinforced with thin metal sheets, and tied together at their joints with thread or wire (usually substituted by plastic or metal paper fasteners in contemporary productions) which are then moved frame-by-frame on an animation stand and filmed top-down with a rostrum camera – such techniques were used, albeit with stylistic changes, by such practitioners as Noburō Ōfuji in the 1940s and Bruno J. Böttge in the 1970s.  (Wikipedia, “Silhouette Animation”)

Say what?  The “Reiniger” is German director Lotte Reiniger, in whose entry Wikipedia also has to say:  In 1923, she was approached by Louis Hagen, who had bought a large quantity of raw film stock as an investment to fight the spiraling inflation of the period.  He asked her to do a feature-length animated film.  There was some difficulty that came with doing this, however.  Reiniger is quoted as saying “We had to think twice.  This was a never heard of thing.  Animated films were supposed to make people roar with laughter, and nobody had dared to entertain an audience with them for more than ten minutes.  Everybody to whom we talked in the industry about the proposition was horrified.”  The result was THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED, completed in 1926, one of the first animated feature films, with a plot that is a pastiche of stories from ONE THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS.  Although it failed to find a distributor for almost a year, once premiered in Paris (thanks to the support of Jean Renoir), it became a critical and popular success.  Because of this delay, however, THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED’s expressionistic style did not quite fit with the realism that was becoming popular in cinema in 1926.  Reiniger uses lines that can almost be called “colorful” to represent the film’s exotic locations.  Today, THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED is thought to be one of the oldest surviving feature-length animated films, if not the oldest.  It is also considered to be the first avant-garde full-length animated feature.

Or in other words Saturday afternoon’s Indiana University Cinema feature was not exactly your average, Disney-style kiddie cartoon.  It was okay for the kiddies though who, brought with their parents, could get in for free.  In silhouette the prince and his rescued-from-the-demon-isle girlfriend were likely just kissing, as were, later on, Aladdin and the prince’s sister.  Of the latter, in fact, with the father of the prospective bride looking on, it may not even have been quite that sultry — especially what with pop being the Caliph!

But then again maybe that was the point, with the limitations of the technique deliberately used with its also suggested exotic backgrounds to force one to exercise imagination. The two stills with this post perhaps will help give an idea. To give the IU Cinema program blurb the final word, I’ll only add that the latish afternoon presentation was different — and fun.

When THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED premiered in Germany on September 23, 1926, it was hailed as the first full-length animated film.  More than 75 years later, this enchanting film still stands as one of the great classics of animation.  Taken from THE ARABIAN NIGHTS, the film tells the story of a wicked sorcerer who tricks Prince Achmed into mounting a magical flying horse and sends the rider off on a flight to his death.  But the prince foils the magician’s plan and soars headlong into a series of wondrous adventures.  This cinematic treasure has been beautifully restored with its spectacular color tinting and with a new orchestral recording of the magnificent 1926 score by Wolfgang Zeller. 

Looking to January 4 and the first story acceptance for 2020, last night the contract arrived from Deadman’s Tome and DEEP FRIED HORROR:  CTHULHU CHEESE BURGER and, less than an hour ago as I write this, I e-mailed back my agreement to the terms.  This was the one for Horror, campy horror, schlock, and dark fiction about Cthulhu and other lovecraftian influences.  Think off-beat Cthulhu stories. . , with my entry in it a flash piece called “The Reading,” about a poet who writes on dark subjects.  The greatest horror of all, however, is that which he faces in reading his poems. . . .

Thus the writing life continues — with more details to be revealed as they become known.

Two very quick items:  The first, a new story has been accepted, with email and contract received last night.  The problem, however, and not an unusual one, is that the market is still open and the editor has asked that I hold off on giving details until all acceptances have been announced.  At a guess, I’d suspect this might be in late January/early February at which time the news will be reported here; until then we’ll just have to wait together.

Then the other, on the 13th I announced that authors’ copies of MONSTERS IN SPAAAACE! had been sent out.  So yesterday evening my copy arrived, exceedingly quickly, and coincidentally at a time when I’d just finished reading another anthology.  So now I know how I’ll be spending my evenings the rest of this week. . . .

Flash in a flash is a bi-weekly* newsletter of bite-sized stories from every genre under the sun.  New, professional, and experienced authors all bringing you their best in less than 1000 words.  So begins the FLASH IN A FLASH blurb, which can be seen/signed up for by pressing here.  And the thing is, it’s free.

But that’s not just the reason I’m noting it here. Today word came that my story, “The Third Prisoner” (see January 8), will be published there in the near future and the thing is, if you’re a subscriber you’ll be able to read it.

So, January 8’s acceptance email from Publisher Jason Brick put the 21st of this month as the planned publication date, so check here for the news.  Or, if you’re a subscriber you’ll probably get an email as well, but either way it’s a very short story and, as said above, will be able to be read for free.

 

*That is to say twice a week, I believe, not every two weeks.

This one goes back to late summer, cf. August 2, and an oddly unexpected acceptance of my story “Atoms,” originally published in the February 1992 FANTASTIC COLLECTIBLES.  The anthology’s title, by Dragon’s Roost Press:  MONSTERS IN SPAAAACE!  So last night the email came, not to announce it was finally published, but rather a notice that authors’ copies should be received shortly.
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Well and good, with more to come here when mine arrives.  But, playing detective, that also implies . . . YES!  MONSTERS IN SPAAAACE! has indeed been published and, in fact, has been available for a bit of time in both print and Kindle.  Quoting the blurb:  One of the most common fears is the fear of the dark: what might be lurking in the shadows, what we can’t see.  All of the monsters from your childhood could be hiding in that darkness.  Given this, what could be more terrifying than the infinite void of space?  Who knows what creatures await you once you leave the comfortable confines of your home planet.  MONSTERS IN SPAAAACE! contains seventeen such explorations, classic monsters in off world settings.  This collection contains werewolves, vampires, ghosts, haunted items, and more all in the blackness of space or the terrifying settings of foreign worlds and abandoned starships.  Prepare to be scared out of your spacesuit.
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So which describes my story, “Atoms”?  To find out (or at least for more information) press here.

This is another “anthology coming out from the cold” episode, for which we go back to late October last year (cf. October 29, 6, et al.).  The project, BEER-BATTERED SHRIMP FOR COGNITIVE RUMINATIONS, the “witty and wacky all-illustrated micro-story and saying compendium,” including my own 75-word fairy tale epic “As Fine as Frog’s Hair.”  An ambitious attempt, it didn’t fare as well at its kickstarter as it might have, and production costs (“all-illustrated,” remember?) were apt to be high.  Well, these things do happen, so. . . .

So yesterday (still late “today” as I write this) word came from Editor Jaleta Clegg:  Yes, I am still working on this project.  I hope to have it ready to send out within a few months.  I’m still waiting on most of the art.  I’ve started pulling together the pages that I have everything for.  Once I have most of the art, I will start sending proofs to authors and artists. . . .  Or in other words, the battered-not-beaten Shrimp is still a “go.”

Of all these, I find this especially heartening, BEER-BATTERED SHRIMP being one of those quirky projects that’s hard to describe, but promising to be a delight when it’s finally realized.  More to be announced here as it becomes known.

It’s not a happy film, first off — but it is a fascinating one.  The docent at the Indiana University Cinema showing last night ended his introduction saying “the film must be soaked in.”  Soaked in . . . immersed?  Or, as I did, settling in my chair, leaving my mind open, and just enjoying the ride.  No thought, no attempt to decipher symbols — all that can come later; and, in the moment, I think the film worked.  A massively unreliable narrator (stay in his head, enjoy the ride!) and certainly not a happy one, but a film I think is worth seeing.

Here’s what the IU Cinema program book says about it:  From Robert Eggers, the visionary filmmaker behind modern horror masterpiece THE WITCH, comes this hypnotic and hallucinatory tale set in the 1890s on a remote island off the coast of New England.  Two lighthouse keepers (Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson), trapped and isolated due to a seemingly never-ending storm, engage in an escalating battle of wills as tensions boil over and mysterious forces — which may or may not be real — loom all around them.  The film evokes a wide range of influences, from literary classics by Herman Melville and Robert Louis Stevenson to the supernatural tales of H.P. Lovecraft, while presenting a story and film unlike any other.  Contains mature content, including violence and sexual situations.

But wait, there’s more.  The docent mentioned that one source of inspiration, some details of which may be in the film too (note, e.g., the names of the two men), was an incident at an actual lighthouse off the coast of Wales.  The old lighthouse brought about a change in lighthouse policy in 1801 after a gruesome episode, sometimes called the Smalls Lighthouse Tragedy.  The two-man team, Thomas Howell and Thomas Griffith, were known to quarrel, so when Griffith died in a freak accident, Howell feared that he might be suspected of murder if he discarded the body into the sea.  As the body began to decompose, Howell built a makeshift coffin for the corpse and lashed it to an outside shelf.  Stiff winds blew the box apart, though, and the body’s arm fell within view of the hut’s window and caused the wind to catch it in such a way that it seemed as though it was beckoning.  Working alone and with the decaying corpse of his former colleague outside Howell managed to keep the lamp lit.  When Howell was finally relieved from the lighthouse the effect the situation had had on him was said to be so extreme that some of his friends did not recognise him.  As a result, lighthouse teams were changed to rosters of three men, which continued until the automation of British lighthouses in the 1980s.  (Wikipedia, “Smalls Lighthouse”)

As for the seagull, well, killing one’s bad luck — the same, one recalls from high school English, as with albatrosses.  See, part of the fun is assembling pieces together after you’ve seen the film and decided you want to know more about it.  For instance the title, THE LIGHTHOUSE, as well as the movie’s initial idea came from a fragment by Edgar Allan Poe, though with just one character rather than two, which I’m not going to quote but which you can read by pressing here.  (And note the meerschaum pipe and the dog.)

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