Archive for August, 2019

THE BUBBLE is the work of writer/director Arch Oboler, famous for his LIGHTS OUT! radio plays in the 1930s and ’40s.  He’s the same Arch Oboler responsible for the 1952 3-D film BWANA DEVIL, who for the rest of his life was a vocal cheerleader for the artistic and commercial potential of 3-D movies.

Oboler liked communicating his ideas about humanity and our imperfect society using the narrative vehicle of the strange, the bizarre, the unexpected.  THE BUBBLE is this kind of story.  Some have compared the film to an extended episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE or THE OUTER LIMITS, and there’s a ring of truth to that.  The events of THE BUBBLE unfold like a groggy dream, nightmarish not in its intensity but in its unsettling mood and mysterious implications.

Thus begins an Amazon review by David M. Ballew of THE BUBBLE, Friday’s “Not-Quite Midnights” series first fall semester screening at the Indiana University Cinema.  Maybe not madness, exactly, but lovely 1966 schlock with at least a sort of zombie apocalypse.  That is, it’s more a psychological thing, but the people in the mysterious town our heroes find themselves in, a man and his wife and their newborn child along with the pilot who unwittingly landed them there, certainly act like zombies.  The cabdriver asks “do you need a ride” but never drives (the hero ultimately commandeering his taxi), the bartender keeps polishing the same glass pausing only to repeat “how may I serve you?” when addressed directly, the bar’s entertainer does her dance without needing music. . . .  A kind of a bad place to raise a new child.  And, as the Cinema’s program puts it, [t]hen there is an even more terrifying discovery — the zombie inhabitants live under an impenetrable dome, trapped like insects in a jar.  Can Catherine, Mark, and their newborn baby escape THE BUBBLE, or will they become mindless drones trapped in a human zoo?

AND, going back to David M. Ballew on Amazon, the real star of THE BUBBLE is Space-Vision 3-D.  The first truly practical American single-strip 3-D system, Space-Vision delivers strong, deep, beautifully rounded stereoscopic imagery that is nevertheless pleasantly comfortable to view, owing in part to the felicities of the original system design and in part to the remarkable restoration work put forth in this Blu-Ray incarnation by Bob Furmanek and Greg Kintz.  If 3-D were a classic Hollywood film actress, you would say she was never lovelier than she is right here.

In other words (but noting this was a theater version “[r]estored from the 35mm negatives by the 3-D Film Archive,” though it may have led to the Blu-Ray one Ballew cites), an ideal film for the IU Cinema:  entertaining, historically /technically important, even avant-garde in its way, and just a whole lot of fun.

Then a second quick note, in view of the lateness in sending some print copies, the DWARF STARS voting deadline for ultra short poems (see just below, August 30) has been extended until September 15.  SFPA has emailed a new voting link to members and it also appears in the July 7 email that included the link for the PDF edition.

Yes, the two long-time perambulating publications finally reached their destination, my personal mailbox, late Thursday evening. The Summer issue of STAR*LINE (see August 24, July 6, et al.) and, sharing its envelope, this year’s DWARF STARS (see July 7, et al.) are here — and with a whole day to go before voting on DWARF STAR poems closes!  Say, what?  Yes, while STAR*LINE is the official quarterly magazine of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (a.k.a. SFPA, for more on which one can press here), DWARF STARS is an annual compendium of nominees for the past year’s best very short poem, here defined as ten lines or less, for SFPA members to vote on.  And, lucky for me, my choice for first place is easy, a poem called “Never Trust a Vampiress” at the top of page 21, by me, though my second and third choices may be a bit harder.  (For SFPA members who may be reading, that’s right at the top of p.21, and remember to vote.)

“Never Trust a Vampiress” is about, in a way, the fickleness of hemophages and why you shouldn’t take everything they say at face value.  Especially if you’re a vampire hunter.  While STAR*LINE this time has two poems by me, one about another vampiress but this time of the mermaid persuasion, and one about the demise of two iconic dolls.

So many stories! ITTY BITTY WRITING SPACE is the third volume in the Flash in a Flash series of crowdfunded celebrations of short-short fiction.  104 Authors.  101 Stories.  No Holds Barred.  Inside you’ll find brief but stirring explorations of every kind of story you care to imagine.  From debut authors to celebrated veterans, this books’ writers bring you short glimpses into their imaginations. It’s like speed-dating to find your new favorite authors.  Dip in and enjoy!
Well it’s not really huge, but at 235 pages it does has some heft, and it actually came out in lateish June.  But yesterday’s mail brought my author’s copy and, notwithstanding dipping into the electronic proof copy from time to time already, I’m looking forward to reading it now in a more systematic manner.  Not that it can’t be dipped into, of course — stories on all different subjects and styles, as long as each is no more than 1,000 words long, that’s what it’s for too!  My story, for instance, is about zombies — but also problems in the big city — and is called “The Junkie.”  But others no doubt are not about zombies, or cities, or even horror.  Nevertheless, all can be bought if one has a mind to by pressing here.

I believe it was our President’s idea, with a tropical storm as of this morning on a track that could have it reach Puerto Rico, to just drop a hydrogen bomb on the thing.  Well, maybe not this one, but in theory if you can nuke a country, why not the weather if you don’t like it?  Oddly, today, an email came on that very topic, “Why Can’t We Stop a Hurricane Before It Hits Us?” by Charlie Jane Anders via POPSCI.COM.  Also, I’d remembered before that when I was a kid, I’d read a Tootsie Roll (yes, the candy) comic about “Captain Tootsie” and how he was able to break up a tornado by having him and his squadron fly their jet planes through it — and that’s covered in Anders’s article too (that is, for hurricanes, not necessarily tornadoes, but one might suppose the principle’s the same)!  So, to find out if either, or both, or a few other ideas included would actually work, one need but press here.

(Hint: Don’t cancel your storm insurance just yet.)

Of course I’m talking about special dreams, the ones where you’re chased and it’s like you’re trying to run through a lake of molasses.  Or worse, you can’t seem to move at all!  Welcome “Night Terrors:  Why Do We Wake Up Frozen in Fear? by the Lineup Staff, via THE-LINE-UP.COM.  Or, [w]hen you first hear a sleep paralysis story, it can be all too easy to dismiss as something fake or all in the teller’s mind.  You wake up.  You know you are in danger.  An intruder is after you; the water is rising above your head; an evil creature is sitting on your chest and crushing the air out of your lungs.  You need to escape, but you can’t move.  You can’t even scream or call for help.  Could it have been real?

The answer is yes, the feeling of paralysis at least, and a good thing too — if it weren’t for that lack of physical movement you could conceivably end up being seriously hurt.  And could dreams of this sort could be sources of inspiration as well?

Well, that last would be up to you, but to see the article for yourself press here.  And once you’ve read it, note the link toward the bottom to “a sampling of the terrors” for fifteen case reports from other readers in some detail of their own dream experiences.

STAR*LINE 42.3, the magazine of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association, has been available in PDF form for SFPA members for several weeks, but now the print version has been released too.  This is the Summer issue and, rolling with the season, concentrates a bit more on lighter verse than the average issue according to Editor Vince Gotera.  And with the print issue its web page is up, with a list of poems and information for purchasing for non-SFPA members who might wish to do so.  If interested, one can press here.

I have two poems in the pack myself (see July 26, et al.), both humorous — or, perhaps, better classed as tragicomic.  One, “Enemy Action,” concerns a certain gluttonous mermaid vampiress who we’ve met in STAR*LINE before, while the second is about an iconic young couple, beloved by American girls near and far, and is titled “Roadkill Doll.”

And here it is, the DAILY SCIENCE FICTION contract for “Steel Slats” (see August 17) arrived and has been signed (or more precisely, my agreement assented) and returned.  As requested I also included an about 150 word biographical note and, as DAILY SCIENCE FICTION will sometimes have, a few remarks concerning the story’s writing — the latter in this case including the words “the devil made me do it.”  “Steel Slats,” that is, is a sort of reaction to troubles at the US southern border, and celebrates the *President’s Dream* of a “beautiful wall” to be paid for by Mexico to solve all problems.  But might it possibly lead to some new ones?

Exactly when we’ll find out I don’t know, DAILY SCIENCE FICTION usually having a robust lead time before stories are published (though not as bad as some recent examples, including the one that won’t appear until 2021).  In this case it should be within a year, though, and possibly sooner than later, exact information to be shared as soon as I find out.

It goes round and round.  In a Goodreads reading group I sometimes indulge in the book of the moment is Karel Capek’s WAR WITH THE NEWTS.  It’s one I had read long, long in the past and on re-reading am finding entirely enjoyable, at least as of chapter five or so.  It starts however with a sea captain named van Toch who works largely in the then Dutch East Indies, and one of his ports of call, mentioned several times, is Surabaya.

So big deal, right?  Except there’s a song by Kurt Weill with lyrics by Bertolt Brecht called “Surabaya Johnny,” from a musical by Brecht and Weill with Elisabeth Hauptmann called HAPPY END — with a story line much like GUYS AND DOLLS and with nothing to do, really, with the East Indies (it takes place in Chicago and also includes “The Bilbao Song,” though the action has nothing to do with Spain either) — and I found the tune going around in my head.  And . . . anyway you can hear it now too, sung by Lotte Lenya (who didn’t actually sing it in the play when it was produced in Germany, but never mind), by pressing here.  And to read the lyrics in English, press here.

No, not this update, but the BEER-BATTERED SHRIMP anthology itself (see August 4, et al.) will be illustrated according to an email today from Editor/Publisher Jaleta Clegg.  Also, yes, things have been somewhat delayed for various reasons, but a promised kickstarter is expected to be ready on or about September 1.  More will be here as it becomes known.

We may remember that the full title (I think) is BEER-BATTERED SHRIMP FOR COGNITIVE RUMINATIONS, or words of that sort, and the guideline description:  You were expecting it to be a NORMAL book filled with NORMAL stories?  Nope.  Silliness and weirdness will abound.  Also my part in the potpourri is an all of 75-word saga (possibly long, BEER-BATTERED SHRIMP is to be a book of *very* short stories) of magic and beauty called “As Fine as Frogs’ Hair.”

Speaking of Aimée et les filles à les caissettes, the contract arrived today from WEIRDBOOK for the blood-appreciative New Orleanian’s most recent adventure, “Death and the Vampire” (cf. June 16).  This will be the fifth, I believe, of the “Casket Girl” stories to be published, including two in DAILY SCIENCE FICTION as noted below, so Aimée and her friendMusidora_6_16_19s have been getting around.  Not to mention some of these have been reprinted as well, plus that the entire casket girl canon, published and non-published, is currently being presented at the Writers Guild “First Wednesday Spoken Word Series” in form of successive open mike readings.

“Death and the Vampire” runs at about 1000 words and concerns a late night meeting on Rampart Street, in front of St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, between Aimée and a tall, gaunt gentleman claiming to be Death.  But if, as the saying goes, Death cannot be delayed, the issue he’s to be a guest star in apparently can.  According to Editor Douglas Draa, due to a last-minute special issue, material planned for WEIRDBOOK #44 in mid 2020, including this story, will now appear in #45 later that year.

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