Archive for April, 2016

Remember REEL DARK (cf. November 15, May 4 2015, et al.)?  The book of “twisted tales projected not on a movie screen but on the page,” that premiered at World Horror Convention 2015 (cf. May 10, 11, 12), edited by L. Andrew Cooper and Pamela Turner.  Take a moment.  The one with my story “Marcie and Her Sisters,” about the love between sisters . . . and zombies?

Well, as they say, it’s ba-a-a-ack, and not only that but with a new dress and a few extra stories!  Let’s let Editor Cooper tell us in his words:  “Get ready to be shocked out of your seat.  After a limited release in 2015, Reel Dark is back in 2016 with this stunning new cover by Aaron Drown Design and two new tales, Michael West’s sojourn into apocalyptic soundscapes ‘Ave Satani’ and Alexander S. Brown’s love-song to ReelDarkFront800X1200late-night horror-hosts ‘Grotessa.’  In all, it’s a collection of twenty authors who in prose and poetry combine elements from across genres — horror, sci-fi, and noir, of course, but also the western, comedy, and others — in order to show us the mayhem the movies might work on the world.”

More information as it becomes known.  But for now, here’s the new, expanded, rearranged ToC:

Russ Bickerstaff, “24 per second: Persistence of Fission”
Hal Bodner, “Whatever Happened to Peggy… Who?”
Alexander S. Brown, “Grotessa”
James Chambers, “The Monster with My Fist for Its Head”
L. Andrew Cooper, “Leer Reel”
James Dorr, “Marcie and Her Sisters”
Sean Eads, “The Dreamist”
JG Faherty, “Things Forgotten”
Amy Grech, “Dead Eye”
Jude-Marie Green, “The Queen of the Death Scenes”
Karen Head, “Amnesia”
Jay Seate, “It’s a Wrap”
Caroline Shriner-Wunn, “Confessions of a Lady of a Certain Age” and more poetry throughout the book!
Rose Streif, “Caligarisme”
Sean Taylor, “And So She Asked Again,”
Pamela Turner, “Rival”
Jason S. Walters, “Low Midnight”
Mike Watt, “Copper Slips Between the Frames”
Michael West, “Ave Satani”
Jay Wilburn, “Cigarette Burns”

(This is being written late Tuesday night, and will likely be time/date stamped for Wednesday.  So it goes.)  Flood or famine, it’s always that way.  Nearly a week of nothing to post, then a flurry of items, the first for today (really late yesterday, that is to say Monday evening) being an email from GrayWhisper Graphics Productions:  “Thank you for your submission to SINGULAR IRREGULARITY, AN ANTHOLOGY ABOUT TIME TRAVEL GONE TERRIBLY WRONG, and giving us the opportunity to read ‘The Master of Time.’  We feel your story would be a great addition to the book and would like to include it in this collection.”  And so this evening was spent in part going over, signing, and emailing back  the contract plus going over and filling out a “checklist” with a number of items including a biographical statement (“This bio will appear on the KickStarter page along with a list of your credits, so quirky and anecdotal are welcomed”), the already mentioned credit list in its books-mostly form, a few other things. . . .  “The Master of Time,” also, is a reprint (“We all travel through time in a generally steady progression.  But suppose there was a clock which, in the reverse of the usual order of things, did not measure the progress of time but rather caused it.  Now suppose something happened that threatened to make that clock stop.”  Yes, part of the checklist was a “Story Teaser” too), first published in Summer 2002 in FANTASTIC STORIES, and also included in my collection DARKER LOVES:  TALES OF MYSTERY AND REGRET.  But what a neat new home!  As the original guidelines challenged, “When things don’t go as planned, what’s Plan B?  What’s the contingency?  Who cleans up the mess? . . .  Anything from hiccups in the time-space to full-blown Armageddon. . . .”

But what if the clock stopped?

Then just the day after DREAMS AND NIGHTMARES #102 was received, I sent back corrections for another poem, “Godzilla vs. King Kong”  (cf. August 30 2015), for DREAMS AND NIGHTMARES #103 — actually received Monday too but, due to issues with the cave computer, not opened until today at the public library.  But also, and this one did come today, a second proof has been received, read, and returned to Bards and Sages Publishing for my story “Pavlov’s Dogs” for Volume 2 in their GREAT TOMES series (see this year, March 4).  So at least for now, the life is busy.

The octopus is coming for us.

No matter where you look, no matter how far you try and run, no matter how much you wish it weren’t true, the signs of the coming octopocalypse are everywhere.  And who can blame them?  We’ve been poking at these wily mini-sea monsters with sticks, shutting them inside aquarium tanks, and grilling them with slices of lemon for thousands of years.

So begins “13 of the Most Frightenly Smart Things Octopuses Can Do,” by Eric March on UPWORTHY.COM — nor is this the first time we’ve met our eight-armed friends on this blog.  I did say “friends”?  Consider, for instance, January 14’s post or, in 2015, October 8.  And then, of course, there’s my own story, “In the Octopus’s Garden,” in leadoff prose position in THE TEARS OF ISIS (cf. November 1 2015, et al.).  But that’s an entirely different matter.

Anyhow, for the latest in octopuses today, press here.

In more writerly news, this afternoon’s street mail delivered DREAMS AND NIGHTMARES 102 dated January 2016, but then that’s the way things go sometimes.  While not related (at least not directly) to Isis’s Tears, my contribution is the poem called “Plus-Size” (see March 27, February 28, et al.), on page 18, the tale of an ultra-capacious Egyptian soldier and how, in a steampunk world, he arrived in England.

Time again on a lovely near-summerlike Sunday afternoon for The Bloomington Writers Guild’s “Last Sunday Reading & Open Mic,” co-sponsored by and at the Monroe County Convention Center.  Featured readers were Kentucky poet and teacher Kathleen Driskell, whose latest book is NEXT DOOR TO THE DEAD from the University Press of Kentucky; and local actress, prose writer, and poet Patsy Rahn, a founding member and one-time chairperson of the Writers Guild.  Kathleen led off with several poems having to do with the fact she currently lives next to a graveyard, along with some others about Kentucky, and ending with a long and interesting speculative piece about an apparently middle-class housewife, ancient Egyptian mummy currently at the Kentucky Science Center.  Patsy followed before a larger than average audience with poems about the Fourth of July and children, among other subjects, ending with a long poem about the beauty of landscapes in China.  Then when it was open mike time with, as well, a larger than usual number of participants,  I read five short, “light” pre-summer type pieces that shared the attribute of all having recently been rejected (but not to worry, several are already out again, testing the waters martyrs_2of new magazines), ending with one of a demon wife taking the expression “Shoemaker, Stick to your Last” a little more literally than usually expected.

For a second Sunday punch, this one comes courtesy of Mike Olson via Facebook’s ON THE EDGE CINEMA.  Sometimes these lists end up here because I think they’re interesting in general, but sometimes because they’re something I want to save for myself too.  This is one of the latter, films that probably won’t be to everyone’s taste — including some I’m not sure of myself; of those that I’ve seen some are hard to watch, but all are brilliant at least on some level.  So herewith “New French Extremity/French Extreme Films List” on HORRORNEWS.NET, for which press here.

No, no, not the one with Boris Karloff.  This is the original Frankenstein movie as written and directed by J. Searle Dawley for Thomas A. Edison, Inc., which had its premiere on March 18 1910.  And with it a tip of the hat goes to Jenny Ashford, a.k.a. the GODDESS OF HELLFIRE, a blog buddy as it were who offers it on her site, complete with a (ahem) tongue-in-cheek review.  Or, in her own introductory words:

Look, my Scary Silents series is alive!  ALIVE!!!  And today we’re dissecting a classic, the Edison Studios adaptation of Frankenstein from 1910.  As most horror buffs know, this was the first filmed version of Mary Shelley’s novel, even though I gotta say the adaptation is a tad on the “creative” side.  Time to get this experiment started, so fire up the kinetogram and watch along!

The film itself, with a running time of approximately 13 and a half minutes, can be seen in its entirety on GODDESSOFHELLFIRE.COM with, as noted above, a possibly slightly less than entirely sympathetic appreciation, and which for both press here.  But be warned, it being, as it informs us itself, “a liberal adaptation of Mrs. Shelley’s story for Edison production.”

Hot off the Interwebs, as they say, comes the following info from Kevin David Anderson via Facebook, to which he has added, “Feels great to be sandwiched in between all this talent!”  Okay, I’ll second that!  In fact, it looks like I’m near the head of the list in the number nine spot, just after such luminaries as Peter Straub, Poppy Z. Brite, and Gene O’Neill.  And, yes, Ramsey Campbell, John Skipp, Edward Lee, Rena Mason, and Monica J. O’Rourke to be exact.  But there are plenty of big names behind me as well, for a grand total of 39 authors in all.  Edited by Alessandro Manzetti for Independent Legions Publishing, THE BEAUTY  OF DEATH (cf. January 23) is expected to be released next month, May 2016 — and as we can see from the contents below should be worth waiting up for!

THE BEAUTY OF DEATH Table of Contents, from Independent Legions Publishing

Blue Rose by Peter Straub;
Above the World by Ramsey Campbell;
Calcutta, Lord of Nerves by Poppy Z. Brite;
This is how we learn by John Skipp;13061926_10155078745434815_6210223371993290689_n
White Trash Gothic by Edward Lee;
12 by Gene O’Neill;
Metamorphic Apotheosis by Rena Mason;
Breaking Up by Monica J. O’Rourke;
Gold by James Dorr;
Season’s End by Colleen Anderson;
Alley Oops by Del Howison;
The Bitches of Madison County by John Taffin;
No place like home by JG Faherty;
Rotten Apples by John Claude Smith;
In Frigore Veritas by K. Trap Jones;
Dearly Beloved by Ron Breznay;
How to make love and not turn to stone by Daniel Braum;
Candy by Paolo Di Orazio;
Contractions by Kevin David Anderson;
Building Condemned by Adrian Ludens;
Professor Aligi’s Puppets by Nicola Lombardi;
By the River She Wakes by Erinn Kemper;
The Office by Kevin Lucia;
Mulholland Moonshine by John Palisano;
The Carp-Faced boy by Thersa Matsuura;
In the Garden by Lisa Morton;
The Captain by Stefano “El Brujo” Fantelli;
Blacker Against the Deep Dark by Alexander Zelenyj;
Larrie’s Tapes by Luigi Musolino;
The Dark River in His Flesh by Maria Alexander;
Bleeding Rainbows by Shane McKenzie;
Game by Daniele Bonfanti;
Fathomless Tides by Tim Waggoner;
Cold Finale by Bruce Boston & Marge Simon;
Every Ghost Story Is A Ghost Story by Nick Mamatas;
Finding Water to Catch Fire by Linda Addison;
The I of the Beholder by Katrhyn Ptacek;
Vestige by Annie Neugebauer;
The Lady with the Stick by Simonetta Santamaria.

So the picture in Sunday’s post, just below, was Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon — why not?  And this evening,capping another beautiful warm day, the IU Cinema screening was the tale of another young lady, this one newly moved with her parents to San Francisco and missing her old life, fearing the new.  But the difference here, and what makes the movie truly surreal, is much of the action is within her own head.  Thus the title, INSIDE OUT — or, quoting the program brochure:  “The power of emotions in establishing human connection during tough times is exemplified by Riley, a young adolescent whose family just moved from the Midwest to San Francisco.  Yet her emotions — Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust, and Sadness — are also thrown into chaos during the adjustment.”  And, one might add, the film is a cartoon.

What can one say?  Again from the brochure, “[t]he emotions, stored in the control center in Riley’s mind called the Headquarters, each with their own unique characteristics work through conflict to help Riley adjust to her new life.”  But what fun we, the audience, expect to have as they do so!   Except, of course, there’s a serious side too.  Joy has pretty much been the team leader and, as she tells us, 1InsideOut“Riley’s eleven now, what could happen?”  Fear, Disgust, even Anger in his way help protect Riley from harm.  But Sadness, the blue one,  is sort of the odd emotion out — because what good is sadness?  But then Joy and Sadness get separated from the Headquarters and, while Joy assumes she can make things right, there’s the problem of both of them making their way back while Riley’s personality, literally, crumbles around them.

So it’s a quest movie and on the journey Joy learns something too — that sadness is needed as part of growing up.  With sadness comes sympathizing, bonding, understanding — and minds are not nearly as simple as first thought.  But all is well, ultimately, and the team even gets a new, expanded control board including a new button labeled “Puberty.”  What is that, they wonder.  But, as Joy once more reassures all:  “Riley’s twelve now, what could happen?”

In fact, as the docent explained before the movie, the film was picked in part for its analogy to the new college student experience, leaving the comfortable world of high school to a larger, strange world, where it’s all too easy to get isolated.  To be prey to loneliness which, as the docent said, can be toxic — the loss of human connectedness to the various “islands of the mind.”

Well, the film explains that too.

Then for a bit of a change of mood, earlier Monday afternoon came, through the wonders of email, a brief discourse on Victorian mourning conventions* courtesy of DIRGE MAGAZINE.  But DIRGE continues — and, yes, this does involve commercial products, but interesting nonetheless — with several samples as well as a window to “The House Of Widow.”  Speaking of loneliness, but maybe not so much.  Not in this context.  So for a bit more than only that Little Black Dress, be pleased to peruse HOUSE OF WIDOW.COM, but by first pressing here.

*For more on Victorian mourning fashion, cf. below, October 21 2014.

A lovely Sunday with a high, or so has said the Weather Channel, just hitting eighty degrees.  A precursor of summer?  But meanwhile the Indiana University Art Museum in conjunction with the IU Cinema offered “Art and a Movie,” an afternoon that began with a lecture at the museum followed by the short feature film (about 62 minutes) “Picasso and Braque Go to the Movies.”  Movies, movies.  But Picasso loved the movies, it seems, and both his and Braque’s invention of cubism, after meeting each other in Paris in 1907, were both influenced by and, in a sense, an answer to the new art form of the motion picture.

To quote the brochure:  PICASSO AND BRAQUE GO TO THE MOVIES — produced by acclaimed director and film historian Martin Scorsese and Robert Greenhut — looks at the connections between early motion pictures and the development of the revolutionary art movement known as Cubism.  Narrated by Scorsese with interviews with art and film historians and contemporary artists including Chuck Close, Julian Schnabel, Lucas Samaras, Robert Whitman, and Eric Fischl, as well as a wealth of rare film clips.  And, to continue, as a sort of bridge Demoisellesbetween lecture (including early prints in the museum’s collection) and show, [T]he documentary will be preceded by BALLET MÉCANIQUE, an early experimental art film by the Cubist artist Fernand Léger.

I have trouble describing movies like this, except I can say if you’re a lover of early cinema, this is a film you shouldn’t miss — that is, if you can find it!   (It is available on DVD with Amazon prices starting in the $12.00 range.)  The discussion in large part is on the effects of what amounted to a technological revolution, but also, of course, with the movies themselves.  While not the only ones seen by the artists a number of clips are from Georges Méliès who, with others, presented illusions much as a magician might through various editing tricks, tricks which the Cubists used in their own way in changing their, and our, perception of space and motion.  Thus a guitar is seen from a number of views at once, to imply the whole, but all in a flat plane in lieu of perspective.  Thus motion is suggested, again through multiple glances, in paintings like Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.

Indeed a suggestion in the film, when viewing Cubist art, is to look at the elements in the work as if they were moving.  This even with much early Cubist work concentrating on still lifes, but again with multiple views of an object, as if one were oneself walking through the scene being depicted.  But more than that, at a time in itself being defined by change, in this case from more or less 1900 to 1914 and the advent of World War I, both art and film, as a part of this change, did their part to make the public feel it in terms of its possibility — much as science fiction, for instance, later may have done to prepare for the Space Age.

And as for the art, the change itself was a radical one not just in form, but, as one might argue, in vision itself.

A lovely mid-April day today, the sun bright and warm after an at-best mixed spring.  And the Weather Channel says more is to come through most of next week!  But what of the vampires?  Will they be doomed to ever-shortening nights, fearful to go out in the sun by day?  Or is there a way to bring the sun’s power inside, even into one’s coffin, for power not only by day but night as well?

Enter Jarad Jones on UPWORTHY.COM with the latest in scientific prowess in “How Do You Power a Solar Panel Without Sunlight?  These Scientists Have an Awesome Answer.”  But let’s hear a bit from the horse’s own mouth:

Yes, the cumulonimbus cloud is truly the kryptonite to the solar panel’s Superman. . . . 

For some areas of the world, the push toward clean, renewable solar energy has faced an uphill battle due largely to climate constraints and regional weather patterns.  With environmental experts predicting that solar energy could account for two-thirds of all new energy generated in the next 25 years, these areas are increasingly at risk for missing out on this largely untapped goldmine.


Scientists from China just unveiled an “all weather solar cell” that could turn even gloomy weather into glorious electricity by generating energy from raindrops. . . .

And that isn’t all!  Scientists at Binghampton University’s Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science in New York have suggested a second method of harnessing the sun, even at night, by using bacteria.  But for the rest, it’s time to read the whole article for oneself by pressing here.

Now, what will science offer to do with the moon for year-round werewolfing?

Those who know the name Roger Corman (cf. September 28 2015, et al.; also March 30 2014) probably know where this one is going.  PIRANHA, BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS, GALAXY OF TERROR — low-budget adaptations based in this case on, respectively, JAWS, STAR WARS, ALIENS, and many many more.  But let’s let compiler Paul J. VanTassle explain:

Anytime that a movie gets released and is popular or a huge success, some smaller studio is StarAlligatorgoing to try and take advantage of that success and release its own movie that is somewhat similar.  It has happened throughout cinematic history but wasn’t more prevalent than during the drive-in, exploitation, and VHS rental craze.

Low-budget producers in the United States and around the globe were churning out their own versions of popular American films.  Some of these took just a core theme from its popular source; some marketed it with a similar sounding title and similar looking movie poster, some actually lifted footage and music from its original source, some stole licensed characters, and some were almost shot for shot from the original.

The films on this list mostly focus on the period from the 1970’s and 1980’s, when exploitation cinema and the video rental market were at its strongest.  Some are decent B-movies, some are bad, and some are awesome because of how bad they are.

VanTassle adds that this is not by any means inclusive, nor even necessarily the best — so many abound, who could even count Starcrash-1978them? — but I’ll add that I’ve marked about eight (that is, that I haven’t seen already) that seem worth checking out further.  The article:  “25 Great Cult Films that Are Rip-Offs of Popular Movies” on TASTE OF CINEMA, brought to my attention courtesy of Mike Olson via ON THE EDGE CINEMA, for which one may press here.

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