Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Okay, first thing first, I stole this eye off Dink's blog. Yes, I did. I'm bad. And I know she'll get even. Not in a blatant way but she'll do something subtle and clever. I will pay for this.
But there's something mesmerizing about this eye. I had to do it.
If you're a writer -- don't care what genre: mainstream, horror, historical, science fiction, romance, etc.--look at the eye. I mean really look at it. Hey, man, it's looking back -- make it stop! Yeah, stories immediately start forming in your mind. All kinds of tales. All kinds of possibilities.
What does it mean?
It means: go write one (then sell the puppy!).

Sunday, April 23, 2006


While doing research on a current project, I looked at several (actually, a heck of lot) of modern horror films. A few films stood out because it appeared they were there first. They are not necessarily the best in each category but they were there first and that counts. This is not a complete list. It will need to be revised as I gather more information but these movies seemed a good place to start.

PSYCHO (1960) -- Hitchcock’s story of a city girl who runs into a serial killer at a small, off-the-highway motel. Think about all movies where the plot revolves around city people who encounter country madmen and killers such as Deliverance, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th, and The Hills Have Eyes. Countless film killers can trace their roots back to quiet, polite Norman Bates. Oh, yeah, there's that pesky shower scene, too.

THE BIRDS (1963) – Hitchcock again. What would horror films and thrillers be without him? The first nature out-of-control storyline. Jaws may be the best film in this category but Sir Alfred was there before anyone else.

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) – While there had been zombie movies back in the ‘30s and ‘40s, this Romero low-budget movie really kicked off the undead plotline and basically established the rules of the genre.

ROSEMARY’S BABY (1968) – Think about all the movies where mankind has battled Satan like The Exorcist and The Omen. Rosemary faced him first.

HALLOWEEN (1978) – While Michael is a descendant of Mr. Bates, this started the teen slasher genre. Pick any holiday and you’ll find a let’s-kill-those-darn teenagers storyline. It’s this film’s fault.

ALIEN (1979) – Several movies have had an alien creature in outer space as their monster before this film premiered but this one got it right and the creature never looked like a guy in a rubber suit. Which it wasn't.

Will Hostel be a touchstone film? Haven’t seen it yet. I will. But the basic storyline is college students run into trouble in Europe. First reaction is Psycho country moved to Europe. An American Werewolf in London did that. We’ll see. More later.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

For my list I limited the choices to the last twenty-five years. Figured that would be "modern." *Subject to change on mere whim.
The Thing (1982)
Poltergeist (1982)
Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Aliens (1986)
Tremors (1989)
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Dog Soldiers (2002)
HBO has created some terrific series. Deadwood (my personal favorite), The Sopranos (I'm hooked again), Sex & the City, and Entourage to name a few.
Their new series with Bill Paxton as an old-faith Mormon with three wives and families didn't sound like something I'd enjoy. I was wrong. I'm hooked. It's another well crafted series. I loved the arc where Paxton and first wife, Jeanne Tripplehorn, are sneaking around to meet each other so the other two wives won't be jealous; and character actor Harry Dean Stanton, as the splinter group's leader known as The Prophet, is a creepy villain. Good show.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Wolf Creek
(Didn't think I'd find a movie that would make The Ring, The Grudge, and The Village look like works of horror art. Good acting, good locale, professionally made but the storyline and especially the ending are ... see single word above. Come to think of it, I felt the same way about The Village.)
Seven Best Modern Horror Films
In an article in the L.A. Times, Christophe Ganz, director of Silent Hill, listed the movies he felt were the best. Okay, I know all "best" lists are subjective but what time frame in considered modern? The last ten years? Twenty-five? No definitive answer I know but forty years? Whatever. Here's the list:
The Haunting (1963)
Deep Red (1976)
The Innocents (1961)
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Prince of Darkness (1987)
Ringu (1998)
I think my list would be different. In fact, despite the influences of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Dawn of the Dead, I don't think a single fim on this list would be on mine.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Found this story on another blog. Checked it out. Decided to pass it along. Millenia Black is an author whose debut novel, The Great Pretender, was published in 2002. She finished her second novel and sent it to her publisher. The publishing house responded by saying they would publish the novel if--and only if--she changed the race of her characters.
Read Ms. Black's response at: It's interesting reading.
As for me, I guess that means I can only write about mid-age, white males who grew up in Southern California with a couple of side trips to Texas in their youth and lived in the late 20th Century and early 21st Century.
What a crock.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Do you ever find yourself thinking about an old friend and wondering what happened to them? Well, I have. Decided to do something about it this time. Tried several different avenues but I've come up with zilch at every turn. So I thought I'd try this. Feel like I'm buying a lottery ticket. But here goes: I'm trying to contact Melanie Julsonnet. We used to work together in Norco. I think she moved to the San Diego area after she got married but that was years ago. Don't even know her married name. If anyone knows her (or Melanie, if you're reading this), please contact me. Thanks.
I have discovered that meat producers like to work in pounds and bakers like to produce in fours, eights, ana twelves. One nagging question down, about a million others to go.
PS -- Dink, I think you were on the right track however. :)

Saturday, April 15, 2006

I should be writing but this question keeps bopping around in my head. I don't know the answer and it is driving me crazy. Why? Why?
Why do hot dogs come in packages of 10 and hot dog buns in packages of 8?
I need to know.

We recently completed a screenplay, Distraction, where the main character is a street thief and pickpocket. I believe it’s the only story, novel or screenplay that I’ve worked on where a bad person (criminal or otherwise) has been the main character. Okay, the arc forced Hannah Logan to reconsider her life and make a move toward redemption but she’s a thief. I enjoyed the experience and the ending is one I truly like.

The other day I walked over to my DVD library and looked to see how many films I had where the bad guy or guys were the focus. Here’s what I found:

Cool movie. Period. Terrific characters and quotable dialogue. Michael’s rise in the family business is worth watching and rewatching. A top ten movie of many lists and justifiably so.

A personal favorite. An outlaw gang is their last ride down in revolution-torn Mexico. Complex and fascinating characters. Moral debates. Hardboiled and violent. I can’t recall a single “good” person in the entire story.

Southern prison movie with one of Paul Newman’s best performances. The religious symbolism seems a bit heavy-handed now. Didn’t notice it at all when I was younger. But I can watch this movie again and again. “What if have here is failure to communicate.”

A fun movie. Well-written and terrific dialogue by William Goldman. Newman and Redford are cool. Katherine Ross has never been lovelier. They are the exact opposite of the The Wild Bunch outlaws. These guys you'd like to ride with.

This movie isn’t on any top ten list. It was one of the ‘30s films that Warner Brothers used to grind out by the week. But I just plain like it. Cagney and Bogart as gangsters and Pat O’Brien as Cagney’s boyhood friend who became a priest. Love the ending.

Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway are smart people but in this tale you believe they are dumb punks who think they’re slick bank robbers. The real stand-out however is Gene Hackman as Clyde’s brother Buck. This was his breakout role. You believe the movie producers hired a dumb-as-dirt, two-bit crook for the part.

Eastwood, Hackman, Morgan Freeman, and Richard Harris. What a male cast. Hardboiled, violent, well-done. This isn’t your grandpa’s western

A bad man attempts to change but his past catches up with him. You’ll either love this film or hate it. Ed Harris is memorable as one of the big-city villains who is after the anti-hero.

Not a classic by any means but only Cary Grant can be a cooler thief than Sean Connery. Add Catherine Zeta-Jones to the mix and I’m hooked.

This is the remake. Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo. Fun and sexy.

One of the few films adapted from an Elmore Leonard novel to get it right. I’m not a big John Travolta fan but his Chili Palmer (who is a mob loan shark) seems to fit right in with the Hollywood crowd. Add Hackman, Russo, Danny DeVito, Dennis Farina, and a before-The-Sopranos James Gandolfini and you have a terrific film.
Okay, now back to working on a story where the main character is a good guy.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

FedEx is expected to merge with its major competitor, UPS. The new company will be called: FedUP
Grey Poupon and Docker Pants will merge and their new name will be: Poupon Pants.
Victoria's Secret and Smith & Wesson will merge under the new name: Titty Titty Bang Bang

Sunday, April 09, 2006

I am now the movie critic for Dred. My first column is now up. I review the new version of The Hills Have Eyes along with A History of Violence and Red Eye. Check it out at:

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Excuse me for a sec … okay, box is set up. No mike but I can talk loudly. {stepping up … clearing throat} Three … two … I’m on.

The other day I read that the American Family Association has begun a massive letter-writing campaign to Wal-Mart and in the letters they are protesting Wal-Mart’s sale of the DVD Brokeback Mountain. A boycott of Wal-Mart for pushing a “gay” agenda has been implied.

I haven’t seen Brokeback. Haven’t seen Crash either. Batman Begins was my favorite film of 2005. I digress. Two family members, whose opinions I trust, both said independently that I’d be bored by the movie. Way too slow. A friend said he figured I’d see it because Larry McMurtry co-wrote the screenplay and it’s about cowboys. Probably wouldn’t but now who knows.

A little background.

I have a first-edition copy (somewhere packed away in the garage) of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses. I bought the book because the Ayatollah Khomeini called the book blasphemous and issued a “fatwa” (death sentence) for Rushdie. I still remember buying the book and the sales clerk asking me if I wanted a security escort to my car. I was young and macho so I declined. It was no big deal. No one cared that I bought the book. By the way, I tried reading it and never got past chapter one.

When Simon & Schuster decided (supposedly because of a feminine staff backlash) not to publish Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho, I bought a copy when Vintage published it. I bought it despite the fact that I’d read another novel by Ellis in a college class and truly dislike his writing style. I found AP to be more of the b.s. style of Ellis’ earlier book. Never finished it.

Back to Brokeback, Wal-Mart, and AFA.

I’m not a big fan of Wal-Mart but, occasionally I do shop there. I wonder if I write a letter saying that I won’t shop there if they cave-in to AFA if it would do anything. Probably not. Bottom line: Business is business. Wal-Mart will do whatever the executives feel is best for their business. End of that part of the story.

As for AFA, why don’t they have a problem with Wal-Mart selling Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Hostel or Land of the Dead or, one of my personal favorites, The Wild Bunch? Why do they feel so threatened about a story about two men in love? That’s rhetorical. I know why they object. Objecting is okay. In the U.S., we have the right to our opinions. We have the right to voice them. I will always encourage that. I can write a story or screenplay then attempt to get a someone to publish it or make a film based on it. If I succeed then the reader or viewer can decide whether or not to read it or see it. That’s a free marketplace. A free exchange of products and ideas. Some I will accept, some I won’t.

Are the makers of Brokeback pushing their own agenda? Probably. So what. Why doesn’t AFA make their own film and see if anyone goes to it or wants the DVD later? Then the people that don’t like their movie can write letters to Wal-Mart and threaten a boycott.

I could ramble on but I’m stopping here. Final statement: Wal-Mart should offer Brokeback Mountain. And the DVD buyer can then cruise into the store and decide for themselves if they should purchase Brokedown Mountain or The Passion of the Christ or one of the Harry Potter series or Texas Chainsaw Massacre or nothing.
Stepping down. Putting soapbox back in the corner. Till something else irritates me and I pull it out again. To state my opinion or agenda.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

New Sword-and Sorcery Anthology from Carnifex Press
"The Beast of Lyoness" (included among the fourteen tales of sword-and sorcery in the above anthology) is my fourth Crusader tale. Patrick Novarro is the only character that I've written about more than once. "The Covenant" appeared in Parchment Symbols and was later reprinted by Flashing Swords. "In the Garden on the Far Shore of the Styx" appeared in Pirate Writings and was later included in The Best of Pirate Writings II. "Sanctuary Defiled at Ananyas" appeared in Fantastic: Stories of the Imagination.
The plot of the first tale was simple enough. Novarro is a warrior who has destroyed several of Hell's disciples. He has become known as the Crusader in the lands and kingdoms he rides through. Despite the pleadings of angels, he goes to a cursed valley to barter a deal with Satan. Novarro's bride, the loving and loved Lenore, is dead and Novarro wants her to live again. He is willing to sacrifice his own soul to achieve this. What he discovers however, from a very angry Satan, is that a covenant had already been reached. Lenore had once stood before him and sacrificed her soul for Novarro's life and the stipulation that he would never be harmed by Satan or Satan's minions. That was the first tale.
But I wondered what became of Novarro and Lenore. Did he rescue her? Were they ever together again? Was Satan able to circumvent his oath not to harm Novarro? So I wrote another story. In "Garden" Novarro accepts a challenge to rescue an innocent child from Hell who truly believes she belongs there. Then I wrote another. In "Sanctuary" Novarro is asked by an archangel and a demon to rescue a man from execution that neither Heaven nor Hell wants killed. How does Lenore play into these two tales? Novarro sees Lenore chained to Satan's side in "Garden" and in "Sanctuary" his reward for success will be an hour with Lenore in the flesh.
In "Beast", Novarro agrees to save a village from a man-created creature because Lenore would be ashamed of him if he didn't help.
These are fun tales to write as I mix Biblical lore and several different mythologies. I need to do more with them.
Clash of Steel: Book 3 -- Demon is available at:

Carnifex Press (

Project Pulp (

Shocklines (