Archive for October, 2015
And what did you see at the movies on Halloween? For me, with a screen time beginning at 11:59 last night at the IU Cinema, the midnight showing for All Hallow’s Eve was a strange one, the 1977 Japanese film HAUSU. And yes, it means “house.” It’s an “evil house” movie, but with a big difference. This one combines the expected tropes with a weird undercurrent of surrealism, including cartoons, a demon cat, telegraphed punches — all clearly intentional — even slapstick humor in a tale of seven schoolgirls’ summer outing at the home of one of the girls’ maiden aunt. An aunt she hadn’t seen since her grandmother’s funeral years in the past.
But the past stretched further. Auntie, it seems, had loved a man during World War II who had promised to come back — but never did. And since then, with the exception of Auntie, the village seems to have become bereft of unmarried young women (it does, however, possess a creepy male watermelon seller who points the way to Auntie’s over-large house). That is, until now.
There was no docent to explain the movie. It is what it is. The program notes say, in part: “Too absurd to be genuinely terrifying, yet too nightmarish to be merely comic, HOUSE seems like it was beamed to Earth from another planet. Or perhaps the mind of a child: the director Nobuhiko Obayashi fashioned the script after the eccentric musings of his 11-year-old daughter, then employed all the tricks in his analog arsenal (mattes, animation, and collage) to make them a visually astonishing, raucous reality. Contains graphic content, including violence and nudity.” I say if you don’t mind wackiness with your surrealism, nor mind an ending that masks its horror with sweetness and sadness — and even a philosophic note on the persistence of love — I recommend HAUSU.
Did someone say the Invisible Man? Not quite, but I’ve just returned the proof sheets for a story, “Invisible People,” to Frank Hall for DYSTOPIAN EXPRESS (cf. August 23, May 30). To be published by Hydra Publications, “Invisible People” has to do with lots of invisible men, and some women too, and a near future society that likes them fine just that way. Of course, it being a dystopian society, things may not remain exactly that way forever. . . .
“Invisible People” is a reprint, I should add, having originally appeared in the Winter 1992/93 edition of DARK INFINITY.
Then in other news, the local cave cat Wednesday (for more on whom press “Wednesday” in the column to the far right) celebrates her 11th anniversary of arriving here tomorrow, on Halloween. All has not been completely well for her, however. A shelter cat, she’s led a placid enough life once she came here, but this summer — a strange one for insects in general, including the Invasion of the Tiny Ants — she was apparently bitten by a mutant, flea-treatment resistant flea which in turn may have given her a tapeworm or other internal vampiric parasite, in turn afflicting her with anemia. So last month she went to the vet, has been given meds in her food each day since, and today, Halloween Eve, she went back again for more tests.
The bottom line: she’s getting well! But there’s still the problem of the possibly mutant fleas, so she is now wearing a modest but elegant, muted gray expensive flea collar of a veterinarian-recommended sort to deter even the most voracious of insects.
I asked, but alas, she couldn’t get it with imitation rhinestones.
Our perky French vampiress, lately of New Orleans, is at it again. Yes, Aimée, the original fille à la caissette (see April 17, 10 2014; also August 24 2015 et al.), is embroiled in a contemporary mixup of suitcases at Louis Armstrong Airport in a tale called, simply, “La Valise.” But what might she have lost in her overnight bag and, perhaps more important, what would she find in the one she picked up instead by mistake?
These and other questions (e.g., what does one do for a late supper in the French Quarter?) can now be addressed. The word came late — a mixup apparently at his end — from Editor/Publisher Lester Smith: “Reviewing my email, I find that although I’ve saved ‘La Valise’ to my ‘accepted’ folder, I may not have responded to you. . . . Thanks for the story — accepted.” The publisher is Popcorn Press and the anthology will be ZEN OF THE DEAD, hopefully, from the guidelines, to be out in ebook form Saturday, Halloween, with the print version to be published shortly thereafter.
Also, as a lagniappe, for two more stories starring Aimée check the dates in the citation above — or, more directly, “Flightless Rats” can be found here while the original “Casket Girls” is available here.
This came from one of the authors, Rose Blackthorn via Facebook, that CORPUS DELUXE: UNDEAD TALES OF TERROR, including my story “River Red” (cf. October 17, September 25, 24), is now available on Kindle. “River Red” is a tale of the Tombs, my far-future dying-Earth story series, originally published in the 2008 anthology ESCAPE CLAUSE and also appearing in THE TEARS OF ISIS. And now as well in CORPUS DELUXE, for which one may press here.
Also announced is the table of contents (albeit not in final published order), and that’s right here:
Amongst the Living – R. Thomas Riley
A Tale of the Undead – Tony Dews
Blood Bond – Druscilla Morgan and Roy C. Booth
Bury the Bird – Katie M. Flynn
Carlsen’s Plastic Bags – Roy C. Booth and Axel Kohagen
Chooser of the Unslain – Cynthia Booth and Roy C. Booth
Lorcaspedia – Edward Ahren
Lucky Chucky – Stuart Conover
Night Class – David Jon Fuller
Night Staff – Jan Loeb
Night Walker – DJ Tyrer
No Rest – Rose Blackthorn, Author
Rattle of Bones – Robert E. Howard
River Red – James Dorr
Stiffed – Ken MacGregor and Kerry Lipp
The Death of Halprin Frayser – Ambrose Bierce
The Vampire Costume – Daniel S. Duvall
What Are You? – Brian Lu
And comes the last Sunday of the month and time again for the Bloomington Writer’s Guild’s Last Sunday Poetry Reading (cf. May 31, et al.). This one was a little different, though, in that, rather than individual poets being spotlighted, this month had a local poetry reading and critique group, The Free Range Poets, as its “featured reader.” Or at least a subset, consisting of Suzanne Sturgeon, Ian Woollen, Jack King, Jerry Smith, and Judy Lafferty Beerman each giving several samples of their work. This was followed by the more usual open mike session, again coincidentally consisting of five readers of which I, fourth in the lineup, read — with a special nod to Halloween — three poems just out in the current issue of NOTHING’S SACRED (of which I have received a .pdf preview, to be followed soon by a print copy; see also June 24), “The Vampire’s Excuse,” “The Vampire Reflects,” and “Necropolis.” In all, an enjoyable afternoon accompanied, outside, by not-too-cold weather and some of the most brilliant autumn foliage in several years.
Shortly after an unspecified apocalyptic event, a group of survivors gather together and begin to attempt to recount the episode “Cape Feare” of the television show THE SIMPSONS. The second act picks up with the same group seven years later, who have now formed a theatrical troupe that specializes in performing SIMPSONS episodes, with commercials and all. The final act is set an additional 75 years in the future. The same episode of THE SIMPSONS, now a familiar mythos, has been reworked into a musical pageant, with the story, characters, and morals repurposed to fit the artistic and dramatic needs of a culture still reeling from destruction of civilization and the near-extinction of humanity decades earlier. (WIKIPEDIA)
Anne Washburn’s MR. BURNS, A POST-ELECTRIC PLAY premiered in May 2012. A subsequent 2014 Drama League Award nominee for Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Play, it opened last night, Friday, at the Wells-Metz Theatre on the Indiana University campus, Bloomington Indiana. It is an odd play, receiving extremely mixed reviews and with a third act that is more musical than drama. It also mixes metaphors even within THE SIMPSONS, the “Cape Feare” episode being the one where Sideshow Bob is paroled from prison, then attempts to kill Bart in revenge despite the Simpsons having their names changed by the FBI and hiding out on a houseboat — except in Act 3, when the houseboat is released into the river, the villain has morphed into Mr. Burns, one-time producer of nuclear generated power.
In fact, as the synopsis above does not say, the notion of loss of electricity and the failure of nuclear power plants being closely intertwined with whatever the original calamity was pervades the dramatic part of the play. And the musical part, as revealed as Act 3 ends, is assisted by restored electrical power provided by human generation — at least in the performance here — giving the ending not only an air of hope, but one of triumph. Thus, to me, it seemed to be less a musical pageant than a post-modern version of a miracle play, à la the Middle Ages, complete with the murdered Homer and Marge (the one through hate and other love via a now-toxic Mr. Burns) and Lisa reappearing with angel wings, albeit of a bedraggled sort.
Then a second thing that struck me, although it may be just me as a writer, was an argument within the company during Act II, having to do with acting out characters’ motivations. That is, all still recognize at this time that THE SIMPSONS is just a cartoon, but one of the actresses insists that there’s more, that the reason it’s funny lies in its holding up a mirror to reality, to which it is countered that, no, it’s funny because as a cartoon it has no consequences. “You want reality? Out there is reality!” Thus THE SIMPSONS really acts as an escape.
I don’t know the answer — I think it may be both. Or maybe the viewer (or reader) may take it, THE SIMPSONS, the play, the story, the art, to either illuminate or deny depending on his/her own needs? I claim myself to be an Aristotelian — ars gratia artis — but allow my audience to be Platonic. If you need a moral, hopefully I’ve provided you one to find, but you’re invited to just enjoy my work for its own sake. In the case of MR. BURNS, however, in view of Act 3 I think there is to be a message, that human will may triumph over the worst adversity (Bart knows that he’s supposed to die, but points out that in his entire life he has never done what people tell him he’s supposed to do) if we’ll just let it.
A quick note to mention that my guest blog, “To PEDS and Beyond: Community and the Writer,” is now live on AReCafe (cf. September 29) and can be seen by pressing here. This was originally published in an earlier version on the Open Book Society in 2012 (see November 28 of that year) on how a writer’s contacts — sales, meeting editors, etc. — forge bonds between him or her and a wider community which, in turn, can lead to more opportunities. The example here is the novelette PEDS, published as a stand-alone ebook by Untreed Reads Publishing, and how it led from and to other Untreed Reads sales* while other, similar associations led to the publication of the poetry book VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE), as well as my Stoker® nominated third fiction collection THE TEARS OF ISIS. Direct links are also provided to OmniLit’s pages on PEDS and the Untreed Reads anthology YEARS END: 14 TALES OF HOLIDAY HORROR with my lead story “Appointment in Time,” from which other titles may be linked to too.
In other news, Grey Matter Press has announced a $10 per paperback sale for Halloween, covering all titles in their current catalog. “This year’s Halloween Fear-ganza . . . includes horror, science fiction and speculative fiction from some of the most acclaimed voices in our genres, as well as the freshest faces to have arrived on the scene. Every Grey Matter Press volume containing exceptional dread-filled work from award-winning authors and bestsellers Jonathan Maberry, Ray Garton, William Meikle, Stephen Graham Jones, JG Faherty, Tim Waggoner and many more are all included.” My own pup in this frightpack is the story “The Artist,” about a butcher who sculpts in meat for banquets and other special occasions, in the 2013 anthology SPLATTERLANDS (cf. February 1, January 28 2015; October 14 2014, et al.), for more on which one may press here. Or for info on the sale in general (which, if you scroll down, also mentions SPLATTERLANDS with a link), press here.
Note though that the sale is only good at Grey Matter Press’s own store and is only for a limited time. And while the precise cutoff date doesn’t seem to be mentioned, my guess is it would be a good idea to take advantage by Halloween.
*The first of those from an original contact through the Short Mystery Fiction Society, which also, years later, led me to the movie/horror anthology REEL DARK and publication there of my story “Marcie and Her Sisters,” for which see May 19, et al.
So began the call from Bards and Sages Publishing: “THE GREAT TOMES Series will feature short fiction and novella length works within the speculative genres. Each installment in the series will surround a specific theme. The series will begin publication in 2016.” The pay wasn’t much but reprints were welcome. And the first anthology was to be THE GREAT TOME OF FORGOTTEN RELICS AND ARTIFACTS.
Why not, thought I, and off I sent the 4900-word “The Candle Room,” initially published in the Summer 1995 edition of TERMINAL FRIGHT and also appearing in my collection (ah, now), THE TEARS OF ISIS. That is, if the latter credit then appears in THE GREAT TOME with it, perhaps it may move those who enjoy the story to take a look at THE TEARS OF ISIS too.
So goes the theory.
Be that as it may, the good news came today from Editor Julie Ann Dawson. “Thank you for the submission. We would like to include this in the anthology.” More information will be coming later.
In addition, for fellow writers, THE GREAT TOME OF FORGOTTEN RELICS AND ARTIFACTS is still open as far as I know till the end of the month, October 31. And after that there will also be new volumes in the series opening, so, again, while the money’s not huge, it is a way to get one’s works farther disseminated. More information from Bards and Sages can be found here.
And for readers, here is the blurb on “The Candle Room” that the guidelines asked be sent with submissions: “An antique, strangely shaped candle, when used in ritual candle magic transports a woman to a different-dimensional world. The narrator must follow to rescue her and, in the process, possibly save the Earth as well.”
This comes courtesy of ON THE EDGE Edge CINEMA on Facebook for those of us anticipating Guillermo del Toro’s (of PAN’S LABYRINTH fame) latest movie, CRIMSON PEAK, but perhaps feel weak on its genre background. Please note however that in some ways it’s not a horror movie, or as author Evry puts it, “[a]lthough the advertising emphasizes the supernatural apparitions, audiences may be surprised in how foregrounded the love story is over the ghosts. As they say in the film, it’s not a ghost story, but rather a story with ghosts in it.” Thus forewarned, behold, via SHOCKTILLYOUDROP.COM, Max Evry’s “12 Gothic Horror Films to Watch Before You See CRIMSON PEAK” (even though the film itself, I understand, opened yesterday) by pressing here.