Thursday, March 30, 2006

Just watched the sequel to Saw. Didn't much care for the original but since I write horror screenplays I figured I should.
Disappointing. Let's see: Not scary. No characters to root for (I like film noir so the characters needn't be likeable but at least intriguing and only Jigsaw seemed more than a paper-thin type). No cool plot twists. Unbelievable plot turns (hey, I believe E.T. can make children on bicycles fly so it takes a lot to make me say "No way".) Basically a body count movie with little respect for its audience.
Oh, well, it grossed something like $250 million. Maybe I need to rethink my writing. I'm not writing literature (no one would mistake my stories for that) but at least I try to make them intriguing and enjoyable. More blood, I need more blood. Maybe some guts, too.

Monday, March 27, 2006

On the Newsweek site ( there's a quiz to see how "geeky" you are.
I'm "Stuck in the Last Century." Well, duh. Big surprise there.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Check out new releases at Jon Hodges' Project Pulp site: Some excellent small press releases including To the Mountain of the Beast by yours truly and the anthology Clash of Steel -- Book Three: Demon which includes stories by Steve Goble, Angeline Hawkes, Christopher Heath, Trista Robichaud, Steven L. Shrewsbury, Laura J. Underwood, and me with "The Beast of Lyoness" -- my fourth Crusader tale.
Good stuff. At least I think so.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

My new novella has been listed at Project Pulp (
Advance comments:
"Reading Chris’s hybrid novella reminds me of the kind of exciting adventures that inspired me as a kid to want to read in the first place. His richly detailed characters combined with the breakneck pace makes me glad there are daring and skilled writers like Chris out there. This is the first fiction I’ve read in a long time that I devoured in one sitting because I was anxious to see what would happen next. Hurry up with another, Chris!" – Raymond Obstfeld, author of Earth Angel, The Novelist's Essential Guide to Crafting Scenes, and Fiction First Aid.

"To the Mountain of the Beast--The Wild West and the wilder outer space collide for a fast-paced romp." – Simon Wood author Working Stiffs

To the Mountain of the Beast is a quick-paced amalgam of western adventure and science-fiction. For pure action and suspense, this novella outpaces many full-length novels. You won't find needless descriptions of alien political systems or discourses on post civil war America. Instead you'll find cracking Winchesters, cattle rustlers, slaughtered livestock, steamy romance and -- above all -- a collision of technologies and cultures that is both violent and captivating. If you enjoyed classic suspense science fiction movies like Alien or Predator -- or if you always wondered what Louis L'Amour might do with aliens -- give this one a read. Christopher Stires is a consistently entertaining and consistently suspenseful writer.” – Daniel E. Blackston, Senior Editor Pitch-Black, LLC and Managing Editor

"Chris Stires has written a whip-smart novella that allows his talents as a writer to shine: dynamic characters, intelligent plotting, and a writing style that drives the reader from chapter to chapter." – Jason Sizemore, author and Publisher, Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest

Thank you.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Available soon at

Friday, March 17, 2006

Below are some bumper stickers I've come across. How does this relate to genre writing and movies? They've made movies based on novels, short stories, comic books, graphic novels, TV shows, comedy skit characters, and amusement park rides. It's only a matter of time before a film is based on a bumper sticker.
Work harder ... millions on welfare depend on you!
Don't make me release the flying monkeys!
I live in my own little world but it's okay ... everyone knows me there.
Can you shift gears ... or are you stuck on "stupid"?
Your child may be on the Honor Roll but you're an idiot!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Lovefilm did a survey and named their top ten sexiest moments in film ( Number One was the spanking scene in Secretary. (Which was pretty good I have to admit.) I decided to list some of my favorites. Also decided to limit the list to films I own on DVD. That’s why Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in the surf in From Here to Eternity and Ursula Andress walking out of the surf in Doctor No aren’t on the list. (If I did, they would be.) By the way, sometimes romantic is sexy, sometimes erotic is sexy and sometimes it’s just plain sexy. Boy, this is a mixed bag.

Anyway, here we go (in alphabetical order):

Casablanca – the flashback, in Paris, when Bogie kisses Bergman. “We’ll always have Paris.”

Entrapment – Catherine Zeta-Jones, waking, nude, to discover Sean Connery sitting in her dark hotel room.

Friendly Persuasion – Phyllis Love chasing Mark Richman down the road as he’s riding off to join his Civil War command. She stumbles and falls; he finally hears her crying out his name.

The Quiet Man – In the empty cottage, wind blowing, John Wayne pulling Maureen O’Hara into his embrace.

Pretty Woman – Julia Roberts in the red evening gown.

Rear Window – James Stewart waking to Grace Kelly kissing him.

Rob Roy
– Liam Neeson saying to Jessica Lange – “Do you know how fine you are to me, Mary MacGregor?”

Some Like It Hot – Marilyn walking along the train platform past, in drag, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis. Lemmon: “Will you look at that! Look how she moves! It's like Jell-O on springs. Must have some sort of built-in motor or something. I tell you, it's a whole different sex!”

– Sean Connery taking Molly Peters into the steam room.

Working Girl – Melanie Griffith vacuuming her boss’s apartment in only panties and high heels.

This is such hard work on some days.

Monday, March 13, 2006

I've been up since 3AM and I'm a tad bit tired. I check my email before going into Twilight Zone mod and find six emails that have been posted on my blog. Three from "Your" and three from "Sally." All are porn spam. Geez. All are deleted now and the word verification program has been activated. That should end that.
By the way, for the curious, pita may be a bread but it is also a acronym for Pain in the ... well, you can guess the rest.
Take care all. Except for "Your" and "Sally". Is crotch rot a good curse?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Finding the MacGuffin
Or, the “Whatsit” everyone is after
We’re working on our new screenplay, Distraction. It’s a thriller. Hopefully. Our hero (hmmm, perhaps anti-hero is a better description of pickpocket and street thief Hannah Logan) comes into possession of “something” that the villain wants back very, very badly. In the first draft it was photographs showing an assassination target. Didn’t work. Needed to be “something” more. But what?
So I started researching MacGuffins and the Great Whatsits on the web.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

A MacGuffin, sometimes McGuffin or Maguffin, is a plot device that motivates the characters and advances the story, particularly one whose importance is accepted completely by the story's characters, yet from the audience's perspective it is usually not the main center of interest, might be minimally explained or may test their suspension of disbelief if it is scrutinized. The device, usually an object, is common in films, especially thrillers. Commonly, though not always, the MacGuffin is the central focus of the film in the first act and declines in significance as the struggles and motivations of the characters take center stage. Often the MacGuffin is all but forgotten by the end of the film. The term "MacGuffin" was invented by writer Angus McPhail (never heard of him either) but developed more fully by Alfred Hitchcock (I’ve heard of him).

Okay, I knew that but it’s sometimes a good thing to reread what you know (or think you know). I started making a list of cool MacGuffins – the black bird in The Maltese Falcon, the actual Ten Commandments in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the actual Declaration of Independence in National Treasure, the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and the ring in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

I remember one movie called The Formula where the MacGuffin was more intriguing than anything else in the story. The formula everyone was after was the formula Nazi scientists had developed to make synthetic gasoline. Can you guess who the modern-day villains were?

Usually, the MacGuffin is a more “serviceable” object. Gold usually works. It needs no explanation. But it’s a heavy object to transport in major quanities. Diamonds and cash are also good. Easier to move around, too. Drugs are another popular whatsit.

Those wouldn’t work though. Our story needed something explainable but unique. So I kept researching and hoping that something would give me an idea. In Cellular, it was a cam recording of a murder. In Charade, it was where the murder victim hid the stolen cash (in case you haven’t seen this Cary Grant-Audrey Hepburn film I won’t spoil the hiding spot – it’s cool). In The Thomas Crown Affair, it was a priceless painting. In The Untouchables, it was the Capone accounts ledger. And in Peckinpah’s Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia the object everyone is after is revealed in the title.

Good and servicable objects but not what I was looking for.

Then: In Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, the villains are attempting to flee the country with secret microfilm. What’s on the microfilm? We never find out. In James Bond’s second adventure, From Russia with Love, everyone is after a Lektor decoding machine. What does it decode? Never expained. In Barton Fink, there’s a mysterious suticase. What inside? We get a hint but never find out for sure. In the film noir, Kiss Me Deadly, there’s a suitcase that glows when opened. We’re told its something atomic but what exactly isn’t explained. That film is where Tarantino got the idea for the glowing-but-contents-never-revealed suitcase in Pulp Fiction.

Okay. Think. Object is valuable. A very wealthy and powerful individual wants it and sends a ruthless man to retrieve it. Bad man gets it. Then our hero takes it away. Our hero, along with her mentor, examine the object. Crucial plot moment. Because, upon seeing the object, the mentor immediately packs his bags and leaves town. But our hero, surprising herself, decides that something has to be done and these people have to be stopped. What is it.? What would make all the characters’ actions believable? Piece of cake. Yeah. Uh-huh.

What is the MacGuffin in Distraction? Ideas are lining up. All are waving to be noticed. Which will be the last one standing? Which will work the best? We’ll see. Just hope it turns out to be something cool.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The story is blazing along, almost in a white heat, and I reach the end. Feeling good. Let it sit for a few days. Have my screenplay partner read it. First response: First half is terrific. Get back to you when I finish. Second response: What happened? It took this turn and ... Well, you can fill in the blank for yourself. Didn't see it then but I do now. It's like two different stories. One is a hardboiled noir (which is what we wanted) and the other is a over-the-top spy thriller. Both are good but not spliced together. Rethink. Rethink. What if? What if? Okay, tighten the beginning. Change a couple of characters including the villain (not as easy as it sounds). And remember --- sometimes you have to "kill your darlings." Meaning it may be a really cool scene or line of dialogue but not in this story. Rewrite, rewrite. Now the "work" begins. Actually, the work continues.
(As for the picture, another Van Gogh)

Monday, March 06, 2006

Yep, only a writer would attend a formal black-tie affair in jeans and cowboy boots. Yep. That's Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry accepting the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for Brokeback Mountain. Let's see McMurtry is the author of The Last Picture Show, Terms of Endearment, Texasville, and Lonesome Dove. Yep.

Sunday, March 05, 2006


I got two right. It was fun and amusing. Still need to cut a few awards out. Including Best Song. Oh, well. Next year I'll be parked right in front of the TV watching again.


Confession time. I love watching the Oscars. Have for a long, long time. There, I said it.

I’m going to list who I think will win. It’s not necessarily the best in the category. I may not have seen the movie yet (and I haven’t seen very many of them this year). It’s who I think will win. Okay, perhaps, in a couple instances it might be who I’d like to see win because I’ve admired some of their work in the past. Whatever.

BEST MOVIE: Brokeback Mountain (Haven’t seen any of the Best Pic nominees. Going with the odds here.)

BEST ACTRESS: Reese Witherspoon – Walk the Line (I’ve actually seen this movie. Any man in his right mind would’ve fallen in love with her.)

BEST ACTOR: Joaquin Phoenix – Walk the Line (Hoffman will probably win but I felt the passion and agony in Phoenix’s Johnny Cash.)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Michelle Williams – Brokeback Mountain (Going with the odds on this one, too.)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Matt Dillon – Crash (I keep remembering the scene in In and Out when Dillon wins the Oscar and “outs” his high school teacher (Kevin Kline). A wonderful little comedy. If Dillon wins he won’t thank “Mr. Brackett”, but wouldn’t it be cool if he did.)

BEST DIRECTOR: Steven Spielberg – Munich (Ang Lee will probably win but I haven’t liked a single movie he’s ever done and I’ve even liked most of Spielberg’s failures. Lousy reason but hey.)

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Josh Olson – A History of Violence (Missed it at the theaters but I will see it in a week or two. My kind of movie.)

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco – Crash (In the wake of a Brokeback sweep this is where they’ll honor this film.)

All done. Got the pizza, popcorn, and Mountain Dew ready. Hope Jon Stewart does well. Hope he’s channeling Billy Crystal and not David Letterman. Okay, the envelope please.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Saw this poster for the new movie, Slither. Thought I'd share. Don't know whether it will be any good or not but the poster sure looks ... creepy.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

An interview I did with Armand Rosamilia at Carnifex Press is up at:
Boy, do I like to hear the sound of my own voice. Read not hear. Read the sound of my own voice? No, that's not right. Okay, got it. I go on and on and on... But no one knows that, do they?