HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE!
Edited by Paul Kane and Marie O'Regan, the book even includes a foreword from Clive Barker. Inside there are 21 stories written by such notable authors as Sarah Langan, Kelley Armstrong, Tim Lebbon, and a graphic piece by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean (McKean also did artwork for Gaiman's Coraline).
I've really begun over the last couple of years to appreciate themed anthologies such as this, as I used to only read short story collections compiled of a single author's work. Even with the supposed restrictions of working in someone else's playground, especially one of Clive Barker's caliber, I suspect each and every auther has produced a story with remarkable depth and clarity. If Paul Kane and Maire O'Regan managed to get Barke's stamp of approval on this, all the better, and I look forward to reading it someday.
It's been a while since I threw together one of these. Getting online long enough in one sitting to either read blogs, or download them to read later, has been a bit cumbersome lately. For a while now it's been about all I can do to update my own blog and handle research and correspondence with the couple of hours I have to get on the internet each week. I have managed to spot some particularly interesting posts and articles over the last few weeks, however, that I wouldn't mind sharing. Maybe you already follow some of these blogs yourself, but in case you don't, here's some more stuff to keep you occupied.
At The Cold Spot, Tom Piccirilli recounts a horror story of a different kind: trying to find and buy a copy of Punisher #75 in Colorado. I cherish the modest bookstores in my area after reading about his ordeal.
Ink and Paper interviewed fellow book blogger, Celia, of Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia. As a guy muddling his way through blogging about reading and writing, I like reading these interviews because they give me a chance to see how others are approaching it. I like to think WtF has gained a little bit of structure and cosmetic improvement in the months since I started. But it still needs improvement, and it helps to read from others about how they go about it all.
Monster Rally is a recent addition to my blogroll, after discovering it through Countdown to Halloween. If you like link directories, you'll love this one. October is chock-full of Halloween goodness, with all kinds of themed links to news, lists, movies, photos, and more. "Wag the Blog" is measly and small compared to the onslaught of links provided here.
The Vault of Horror compiled a list of the thirty best works of horror literature. A great spur for debate, if you're interested to see where your favorite stacks up (or if it stacks up). I'm a little disappointed in myself after reading it though, as I've read less than half of the stories listed. For shame. Also, VoH has a great interview with photographer, Joshua Hoffine, which also displays some of his absolutely mesmerizing work. You can check that out here.
And Now the Screaming Starts brought to my attention a contemplation of a "post-horror world" by Guardian blogger, Damien Walter. Though it centers on sci-fi, fantasy and horror can be applied to the bleeding of genre into literary fiction. I consider myself an unapologetic fan of horror, yet recognize my definition of the genre may differ from many others. At the end of the day I like good stories, no matter the genre. And horror, whether written by those who avoid classifying their work as "horror" or intentionally are steeped in it, tends to entertain me most.
The Intellectual Devotional had a post regarding Stephen King's The Shining, and King's pseudo-feud with Stanley Kubrick over the film adaptation. I liked this post simply because it reiterated my own favoritism towards Kubrick's adaptation with Jack Nicholson over King's later adaptation with Steven Weber (the guy from "Wings"). I'm reading the book for the first time this week--a read-along with Bella and Stella, so I'm curious to see how that alters my perception of the story and the film.
I'm always on the hunt for other blogs dedicated to horror literature. There are a few on my blogroll that have pointed me towards some fantastic authors I might have otherwise not discovered through simple excursions to the bookshops or library. So an open "thank you" to The Doctor Is In for pointing me towards Grasping for the Wind, which has compiled a monstrous list of blogs dedicated to reviewing horror, fantasy, and science-fiction. I've been following a few of them for quite a while now, but there are countless others that I'm just now becoming acquainted with, including Doctor Horror's own.
Is the ability to jump sharks a super power? If so, NBC's "Heroes" may be able to chalk up a new one.
When the show premiered, I was enthralled. I half-expected to see a gussied up version of "Mutant X" after hearing about plans to produce a show about regular people with extraordinary abilities. My cynicism spoke up first to decry it as a ploy to capitalize on Marvel Comics' rise to cinematic fame. But after watching the first couple of episodes, I was hooked along with a lot of other people. The approach felt like a breath of fresh air compared to so much of what network TV offers.
In 2009, however, the show is beginning to feel like something that's been hijacked from it's original destination. Perhaps it's simply how television shows work with their ceaseless storylines, going from season to season in an attempt to ring as much viewership from the show before casting it aside for a cheap reality show. "Heroes" doesn't feel like the same kind of show I enjoyed so much during that first season. Heck, the show seemed to take a notable decline in direction and quality as early as the middle of the second season.
I suppose things could be worse. While I may gripe about the show's current bout of mediocrity, I still have managed to see every episode this season. It's one of a select few shows that I watch with regularity, and I'd still try and make time to see it over the vast majority of shows presented by the major networks--you'd have to pay me handsomely to waste my time with the likes of "Grey's Anatomy" or "Prison Break" (do they even air that anymore) or any show that has a title such as, "Law Enforcement Drama: Insert Random City Name Here."
After a half dozen or so episodes, "Heroes" looks like it may finally be picking up steam this season. But I only say that because last week's episode was the first one I found genuinely interesting. The Carnival has started to show it's true colors, though we're still in the dark (I am at least) as to what their motives are for seeking out Sylar and the others. And the writers wisely focused on the two most interesting and relevant storylines of all the characters: Sylar's resurgence; Hiro's mission of atonement.
Everything else on the show feels like fluff, and up until right now the multiple story arcs have felt muddled and incoherent. Surprisingly, I could get by never seeing Ali Larter's or Hayden Pennetierre's characters again this season. As a matter of fact, does the Claire character have anything to do with this season's major storyline at all? Or is she there simply to appeal to younger viewers? Her hijinx on campus feels like a tacked-on excuse to keep a young, pretty blond girl on the show. If the character has something to do this season, I sincerely hope the "Hell Week" episode gets to the geezly point, finally.
"Heroes" has lost it's ability to hold my attention unwaveringly, though. I'm ready to abandon it altogether and afford myself an extra hour in life to read and write. Frankly, I should probably do that anyway. But, I'm going to give the show one more week. If I'm not wowed by the show, if I'm just as confused and disinterested in the supporting characters, if the show doesn't find a way to recapture the magic of the first season, then mark me down as one more lost viewer in the show's declining ratings.
It takes place during the late 19th century and takes place around Hungary and Romania, revolving around the ordeals of a half-Gypsie horse trader, Imre, and his family as they contend with Imre's mother-in-law's witchcraft. Sounds like good reading and a premise I haven't had the opportunity to read yet. Throw in some curses, ghosts, possessions, and a talisman and there's no telling how much this family will have to go through to survive.
There was an article on one of the major media sites a while back--Guardian or maybe Daily Beast--that talked about the perceived sexism in horror-themed literature and film, dismissing female horror writers as belonging to the romance section. Well, I have a feeling those who feel horror has no female representation, or feel it shouldn't have female representation, have not come across the likes of Lisa Mannetti, Alexandra Sokoloff, Sara Langan, and others currently writing some very good stuff that can be measured against anything a guy can write.
I've yet to read Mannetti's work, but it's received enough praise to warrant a look-see. And The Gentling Box sounds like it would be a great place to start.
Anyone heard tell of this novel? Care to give your thoughts?
You've probably said it yourself a time or two, usually after sitting through two hours of rehashed refuse. You liked the first one, heard some good things--or maybe just some good hype--about the remake, and decided to give it a go. But it turns out it was all a ruse by Hollywood, just to get your hard-earned cash in return for suffering at the hands of a dullard director and his derivative drivel. You were duped. We all were.
It's a tricky thing, recycling movies. So tricky, in fact, that it's rarely successful, and causes me to wonder why directors and screenwriters even try. Oh yeah ... the money. Could there be any other reason for the remarkable Steve Martin to wallow in sub-par cinema like The Pink Panther? Or for a charismatic Kurt Russell to render a ramshackle version of Poseidon?
I've always been of the mind that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. It's an adage lost on Hollywood. It's kind of deplorable that Slumdog Millionaire couldn't get a distributor in North America for the longest time, yet producers were practically selling their mothers down the river to get a piece of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. But, Revenge of the Fallen was a sequel, not a remake. The remakes might be even worse.
A prime example, in my opinion, is Psycho. The original iteration by Alfred Hitchcock is a stroke of genius. Even in the 21st century, the story and the movie hold up. Yet, someone took it upon themselves to produce a new version at the start of this century. I can only guess, for no other reason than the fact that Hitchcock's indelible film was in black and white, a director whose name escapes me saw fit to give us a colorized version. Hell, Ted Turner and his Technicolor dreamcoat could have done that over a long weekend with the stock footage of the first film.
And if daring to tread on a such an iconic piece of cinematic history wasn't enough, the director actually filmed the new movie shot for shot, frame for frame, to the original up until the infamous shower scene. Why? That's like the directorial equivalent to lip syncing. If you're not going to at least give a new twist or take on the subject matter, and you're simply going to copycat the cinematography, aren't you wasting everyone's time? I sure thought so when I watched the movie.
Casting is another big hiccup when it comes to redoing an established movie. I adore Steve Martin's comedic talents, but he is no Peter Sellers. They're styles are so dissimilar. Just as Vince Vaughn is no Rock Hudson--I'm still trying to figure out the rationale for that casting choice. Definitive and proven films are like the proverbial lightening in a bottle. Can you imagine the audacity it would take for someone to attempt a remake of Citizen Kane or Dr. Strangelove? It's unthinkable, yet there is at least one unimaginative filmmaker out there who wants to give it a go. And God only knows who he would cast in those roles immortalized by Orson Wells and Peter Sellers ... perhaps John Goodman and Will Ferrell?
The reason I felt compelled to rant about this was because I recently read online--I know, I know, a grain of salt--that there were plans to remake one of my favorite horror films of all-time, The Thing. No, I say. Don't touch it. Kurt Russell is king, so it doesn't matter who is cast as the bad-ass chopper pilot in the remake because it won't be Kurt Russell. I can already see someone giving it to Vin Diesel.
And you know somethin'? I can't help but accept the irony of consternation about a Thing remake, since it was itself a remake of sorts of a 1960s sci-fi B&W flick. Go figure. Maybe I should just quit while I'm ahead.
Set in an alternate London, a disease called "The Clacks" is spreading. The twist here is that it turns its victims into machines. Alrighty then, that's got my attention. I imagine the whole thing of late 19th century/early 20th century settings, the machines are more coal and steam powered, which will add a very dark and sinister element to the story.
Whether this novel ends up being my foray into reading steampunk or not, I'm not overly concerned. I'll be reading this one at some point I'm sure, and if I come across stuff by China Mieville's Perdido Street Station or maybe Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, so be it.
Are you a fan of steampunk? Any suggestions on which novel I should start out with?
Wednesday night I was typing up a storm, trying to retrace my steps through a short story. The most recent draft got overwritten, which is a blunder I haven't committed in ages, so I had to go back and try to make lightening strike the same place twice using the first draft. Grrr.
Anyway, I had the window open to let some of the cool autumn air in since it had stopped raining. It was around nine o'clock and the streets were quiet--the streets in this neck of the woods pretty much roll up after supper--until a frenzy of mewling and snarling and yipping started up across the street in amongst the long grass and apple trees. It snapped me to attention, I can tell you that.
Through the warmer months you can hear the likes of every kind of caterwauling at ungodly times in the night. A fellow gets used to it, tunes it out in no time at all in a town or city setting. Annoying as hell when you're trying to watch TV or read a book. Or in my case, write one. Those occasions are provided by the town cats usually, as I can only guess people can't be bothered to let the things inside their homes after sunset. Sure, a tomcat has to prowl, but I swear there's more out than in around these parts.
But, Wednesday night gave me a polecat philharmonic. I'd smelled that malodor of skunk in the air, just a hint of it, around suppertime. So I have to assume at least one of the combatants reenacting an episode of Wild Kingdom across the street was a skunk. I couldn't tell from my vantage point and I damned sure wasn't going to venture out in the dark to see if my suspicions were right. I haven't been sprayed by a skunk yet in my life, though there were a couple of close calls, and I'm in no hurry to press my luck in the matter.
Whatever was out there was raising such a ruckus, the likes of which I can't recall ever hearing before. And I grew up in the woods, and have seen and heard some strange things out in the wilderness. Maybe it was the town setting that amplified the creep-factor for me. A couple of alley cats clawing at each other on a side street is one thing. We've all heard that stuff, but the hell-for-leather turf war going on under those apple trees was something else. I don't know what kind of junk the neighbors have piled back there, but those critters were knocking things over and tearing the place apart. You'd think the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had permeated into the wildlife.
After ten minutes of riotous racket, things went back to normal. I have no idea who won and what species left to lick its wounds, but I got knocked right out of my stream of consciousness for writing that short story for the night.
The silver lining, however, was I got myself an idea for another short story. Thanks, nature.
This week, since The Neverending Shelf is hosting an Alice In Wonderland Week, I thought I'd take the time over the weekend to read Carroll's classic, and also read for the first time Through the Looking Glass. It turned out to be a bit of a chore for me, much to me chagrin.
Like many others of the past few generations, my introduction to the works of Lewis Carroll came to me in childhood from the hegemony of Walt Disney. To me, Alice in Wonderland was the psychedelic odyssey that stood out as one of Disney's most colorful and psychotropic films, second only to perhaps Fantasia.
More than a decade removed from my last viewing of the movie, scenes are still seared into my memory. The Cheshire cat's wide, puckish smile descending from the heavens as a crescent moon; the caterpillar puffing opiate smoke into the face of Alice and snobbishly asking, "Who ... Are ... You?"; or the entire scene of the Mad Tea-Party, including the March Hare's immortal line--at least to me--of, "I have an idea. Let's change the subject."
It remains one of my favorite Disney films to this day. There's the nostalgia factor, I admit, as very few of Disney's modern films have gripped my imagination and enduring reverence like those classics from the early to mid-twentieth century. And even the classics have been tainted and bastardized by ceaseless cash-grab sequels and spin-offs--I thought Aladdin was an amazing film until Aladdin 2 reared its unnecessary head. I think Disney may have even egested another after that to make it an unholy trilogy. And I once heard blasphemous rumors there existed a sequel to another favorite of mine, The Fox and the Hound. I hope that's patently false.
I think the Wonderland movie may have even played a role in getting me to read at an early age. Reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in elementary school after having watched the movie, I felt the scenes leaping off the page with all the vivid color that the film had provided. The language was a different and a bit rough for a kid like me to read through, written in the nineteenth century and all, but I kept up with it in spite of my then vocabulary's plainer pallet and loved the story all the same.
I'm one of those dullards who is less enthralled by the language of the times than the story being told. I love Bram Stoker's Dracula, and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein even more, but the language and style are not what kept me reading. Even Charles Dickens, God love him, has a writing style that seems dated and can inspire more arduousness than avidness. It's much the same case with Lewis Carroll's works. That nineteenth century charm is lost on me. I try ... Lord knows I try. But the antique flourish of how many writers craft their stories feels dusty and outmoded. I can sometimes smell the must of the words on the page.
Like any great author's works though, the story is as solid as ever. And each scene still pops off the page. I just wish I could take a holiday from my own prejudices to fully enjoy the stories, as if a child of the times. I can be a stubborn old goat at times.
The re-imaginings and adaptations of the work help keep that kid in me alive, as I'm sure that's the case with many. I know I'm not the only one curious and with bated breath to see Tim Burton's version of Wonderland hit the silver screen. There's a very twisted trademark to Burton. And with the Alice character, the morbid side of her and the story reminds me of an old computer game that had Alice as a knife-wielding goth chick, taking out an army of playing cards. Macabre stuff, yes, but Lewis Carroll's work whether intentional or not lends itself well to that kind of mindset.
Like The Wizard of Oz, I think it is the twisted takes on the subject matter that keep me coming back to Wonderland. There's apparently a series of books called The Looking Glass Wars. I was unaware of this until only a couple of months ago, but now that I am I think I'm going to need to sample the work. While I appreciate what Carroll's original work means to everyone, including me, it's the interpretations and reiterations that are what will more likely rejuvenate my love of Wonderland, more so than reading the original children's stories.
And let's be honest. Alice could get a little insufferable at times in those old stories. I like the idea of others giving her a more personable nature.