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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Original Halloween

Happy Halloween everyone! In celebration of the dark holiday, my wife and I ventured to the bank breaking theater ($36 admission, large popcorn, two drinks - the horror, the horror). The Original Halloween is showing for two nights. As neither of us have ever seen it in the theater, we thought what the hell?

Hell was exactly the right expression.

We had stepped back into the '70s (if only the pricing reflected such). The sound was so low, that popcorn crunching behind jowls and slow bubbly slurps of diet coke obscured the actors voices. When I asked an usher about the problem, she reported that this was a satellite feed and the theater could do nothing, and that the film would be grainy as well. Hey, I remember the '70s, this was proving to be a realistic flashback.

It is a credit to the film, that despite all the blurry discomfort and ear strain, and after, at least, 30 viewings, the tension still builds, Michael Myers is still a horror. Jamie Lee gives great fear.

But if you want some horror, here's some info: prior to the movie starting a brief documentary was shown. Apparently, the reason for the Original Halloween's presence in the theater was the announcement that Rob Zombie (The Devil's Rejects) is in the process of remaking Halloween.

In the end, what did I take from seeing the film on the big screen? The awful swelling of popcorn gut, and some dread (did I overdraw the account). We'll probably watch it again at home this week.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Unleash the Zombies!!!

I just sold my first short story, An Acquired Taste. It will be published in November of this year in the horror anthology, Loving the Undead, an Anthology of Romance, Sort of. I love the title. Not much money in it, but who cares. Published!

My novel, loosely titled, Zombie Happy Hour, is based on this story (I have three chapters off to Penguin, and it has been in review for almost 7 weeks - so cross your fingers).

I'll provide a link to the book, once its up on Amazon.

I'm pissing myself! Published!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Book Review: The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill



I hadn't heard of Colin Cotterill, prior to a recent visit to The Elliot Bay Book Co. in Seattle. The author's latest mystery, Disco for the Departed, was prominently displayed as a Seattle favorite. I'm glad the author is someone's favorite, or I'd likely never have heard his name.

Cotterill's sleuth is Dr. Siri Paiboun, an elderly state coroner, in '70s communist Laos. Siri is a South East Asian Quincy, both grumpy and quick witted. The difference is the presence of supernatural events and spirituality, and that this coroner has no formal training in pathology. Autopsies are performed with an open textbook.

Cotterill combines three mysteries into one congruent jigsaw puzzle. The murder of a ranked officer's wife, leads to the bodies of three torture victims, found in a lake. Along the way there are seances and suicides, beaurocracy and bombings.

The Coroner's Lunch is likely considered a "cozy" mystery as most violence and death occurs outside of the narrative. Cotterill does a good job creating a vivid Vientiane city and his characters are fleshy and welcoming. Not a challenging read but perfect for fireside entertainment. I will happily pick up the next novel in the series.

Next book: Lisey's Story by Stephen King

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Takes me right back...

Book Review: The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld



This book has gotten some press recently as the apparent result of a botched marketing plan. It is a shame, really, as The Interpretation of Murder is a pretty good read. Reminiscent of that other, turn of the century, murder mystery, The Alienist, Interpretation take the reader to 1909 New York. The cast of characters is a grab bag of NY society and the founders of psychoanalysis (Freud and Jung, play a big role).

Our heroes, Stratham Younger an American Psychoanalyst and Detective Littlemore, must collaborate to solve the murder of one socialite and the assault of another. The second crime provides impetus for the author's dissection of Freud's Oedipal Complex, as the young psychoanalyst is brought in to work Miss Nora Acton through a traumatic reaction to her assault.

Rubenfeld weaves multiple subplots together to inspect psychoanalysis, including a thorough discussion of Shakespeare's Hamlet and a particularly sordid family structure.

The Interpretation of Murder is a worthwhile read and a great buy, nowadays, stacks are already showing up in clearance bins. The victim, purportedly, of The Thirteenth Tale's juggernaut.

Next up: The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A Not So Subtle Urging

Go see The Departed. Scorcese is back to '80s form. Violent? Yes. Hilarious? Surprisingly. Alec Baldwin is fantastically funny.

Based on the Japanese film Infernal Affairs, The Departed tells the doomed story of a bunch of rats. I'll leave it at that.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Book Review: The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak



Okay, so I finished Zusak's The Book Thief about 2 hours ago, and I might be recovered enough to write a short review without deteriorating into heaving sobs. Jesus, the last 100 pages are a wringer.

What can I say about a coming of age story set in Nazi Germany and narrarated by Death, himself? An excellent read for Young Adults (as it is geared to) and adults, alike. Liesel Meminger is abandoned by her mother, shortly after her 6 year old brother dies beside them in a chilly boxcar. Liesel, in shock, does some self soothing by stealing her first book, The Grave Digger's Handbook. She is taken to Himmel Street in Molching, a few miles from Dachau, to the home of Hans and Rosa Hubberman, who raise her like one of their own. Rosa, the potty mouthed washer woman and Hans the accordianist with a heart and eyes of silver. The book traces Liesel's life as a book thief and is told in sections related to each of the stolen books.

Suffice it to say, any story told by Death and involving nazi's and Jews, cannot end without delving into the horrors of that war. Zusak delivers a tale that is surprisingly gentle while effective in portraying the atrocities of World War II. While never lingering on the Nazi's activity at the concentration camp, for long, the author coats the sky with an ashen grey as the Jews are marched through town to "concentrate" and this grey does linger throughout the course of the story.

Fantastic! Read it, now.

Next up: The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld

Strip Tease No. 2: A Confligration of Ideas (A bad thing)

I started a story in early summer called, The Park John, a horror story. In its initial draft, it read creepy and gruesome, my wife liked it (or so she said). Long story short, I put it aside, without an edit.

Jump ahead to September.

I worked feverishly at my writing for six weeks, on two projects (my zombie comedy and my teen ghost mystery). I felt good about the resulting six chapters (three of each), which have, since, been sent off to and editor and an agent.

The crux: it's been a month, now, and I've written a wopping 3 pages total between those two projects. Can you guess why? Right. The Park John, and to a minor degree this blog and the beginning of a writer's critique group (see link).

The Park John consumed three weeks in editing and revision. It kept stretching out like a muslim on a inquisitors rack. The page count increased daily, exponentially. From 8 to 12 to 16 to 21. With each revision the story took on qualities, I'd never envisioned. Disturbing scenes sandwiched between melancholic nostalgia. It was a mess.

My wife finally read a version that I now see was tragically flawed and deeply full of itself (myself). She convinced me to put it down and focus on at least one of the projects. Preferably, just one of the projects.

So four weeks later and I'm back on track and the winner is: zombies.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Book Review: Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk



I worry for Chuck Palahniuk. I worry that a stack of his books are sitting on a decoupaged coffee table on the hollow floor of a christian fanatic's single wide--I imagine the nicotine running down the wall like back alley tavern spit. I worry that the christian is fingering a pistol trigger like a lover's pink rosebud, and thinking. My biggest worry for Mr. Palahniuk is a fanatic thinking, dwelling. Thinking of the author, and not fondly.

That being typed, I'm not that christian. Haunted was a lot of things, none pleasant or staid. It was original yet filthy. But, rather than reach for a gun, or a loofah, I'll let it sink into my skin, saturate.

The novel is told, through a succession of stories, by characters the likes of Comrade Snarky and the Baroness Frostbite (many more). They have been lured to a writer's retreat to conjure their masterpiece, but this retreat is no Macdowell Colony. There'll be no private cabins, box lunches or elicit affairs. A sealed ornate theater becomes a prison and later a charnel house. But a fun charnel house, if you consider progeria mercy-fucks, horrible masturbation accidents, and "anatomically correct" child dolls fun. Luckily, I'm sick that way.

Mr. Palahniuk's is a world that preaches ideas--for real, I'm not joking--despite the disturbing quality to the book, there is something to be said about its fame and money grubbing characters devolving (literally), human life is only as valuable as the face time it can elicit, the amount of money the story can be sold to the studios. That drama is more important than humanity?

There is a legitimate horror story lurking within the pages, brought to you by Mrs. Clark, the elected villain. Her tales are truly scary (The Nightmare Box was my favorite).

Or, maybe, Chuck Palahniuk just wants us to puke, bottle it, let it mold over, and then, when the bile is gray and dead, eat it up. God bless him.


Next Book Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Check out Dina's site

The previous video is a rare captured image of the phantasm known as Dina Martina. I have been fortunate to witness her Christmas Mayhem at Seattle's ReBar, as well as, her "special" spring brunches.

If you have the chance to go see her, go see her!

She's online here.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Deeeeeeena! Look. It's Inspector Boss's Kiwis.

Book Review: The Keep by Jennifer Egan



My internal debate reached a fever pitch; finding an opening statement about Jennifer Egan's new novel, The Keep, is like fumbling through the pitch black of labyrinthine caves, to which, oddly enough, both cave and labyrinth provide a catalyst for Ms. Egan's tale of childhood trauma relived.

Though, on the surface, a gothic castle ghost story, populated by a creepy baroness, the spirits of tragically drowned twins, and the damaged renovation team of Howie and Danny, the major players in the previously noted trauma, it quickly dissolves to reveal its unique narrator: a maximum security inmate in a prison writing class.

The resounding metaphor, here, as the title purports, is the keep itself. Standing stoic in the background of interactions and in the foreground of thought, it is that place that we can all run to, to hide from; our past, present or future. The question is: are we locked in--at that very moment, when we feel the safest?

Ms. Egan has a way with layers, and at one point--and, this stuck with me--suggests that fiction is the voice of the dead, and writers are their medium.

There is no question that the book is a great read, for whatever your purposes, however, I would like to know what others think of the switch in narrator in Part three. This character's voice is powerful and her last line does what great sentences can do: wrap the essence of the book into a single strand of words, seven cultured pearls.

My next review: Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Religious Fervor of Chuck Palahniuk

Now would I let a worthwhile cult slip past your attention?

I met a student, of Mr. Palahniuk's, at a writer's conference, who described his work this way:
Chuck's best, when he writes from the gutter, and to prove it, his manuscripts are dipped in piss (paraphrasing).

Please join us in prayer with Chuck, author of Fight Club and Haunted (more, of course).

Pretty in Pink? Not Molly; it's Heather Chandler, Bitch!


Strip Tease No. 1: A Reflection Enveloped in Lyrical Prose (Masturbatory)

I have been many things, up to this point--my middle age--a janitor, a shopclerk, a knifesalesman, and a frontline orderly; but, for a good 13 years, I was a counselor. I langoured in deconstructing errors in thought, communication and gesture, but rarely to my own benefit. The milieu itself flawed, the program a set up, the clients dismissive and static, it has been a relief to leave it behind, wadded up like used tissue, next to my Master's degree.

The experiences, no more than memory and countless reports and interviews clogging my harddrive--a waste laden park john of a laptop--have, nevertheless, afforded me a slew of personal trauma to rape for stories and character development.

So, I can't complain.

I'm a writer now. I must tell myself this, daily. I'm a writer.

Now, that's not to say that I haven't always been a writer. I love words; they circle around my head as I type, twittering like blunt-force nightingales. I was a lonely-only, a single child in a big family, full of big southern personalities. My mother was, and is, a ravenous book consumer. And, I did what came natural: read, myself, and created worlds. These worlds tended toward the dark and depressing, or like Sergey Lukyanenko wrote in his Nightwatch (brilliant-check it out), the gloom.

My current work is split between a young adult novel about the recently departed and the aforementioned Zombie Happy Hour Mystery. I'm so hard at work at it, I have time to beat myself off on a blog--Jesus! but, I can waste time.

Back at it…

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Book Review: Booked to Die by John Dunning



I know what you are thinking, and I agree. A horrible, exceptionally tired title. That being said, I loved this book. Cliff Janeway, the sleuth in the Bookman series, of which this is the first--I hate to start in the middle of a series--is damaged and lonely, inveterately unethical but goodhearted. I feel a kinship with the character, for reasons I'll keep close to my chest.

The book is older, a 1992 copyright, but the mix of detective novel and literati-in-the-know, holds the readers interest. This combination has come into vogue recently with such titles as:
  • Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl
  • The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (series)
  • The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
…and to a lesser degree, as the book is not a mystery, The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Fowler. I'm impressed with the writer's abilities to make connections to books through their character's action and story plotting. I'll definitely be reading Dunning's The Bookman's Wake, I've already got a request in at the library (see initial blog).

The next book review - The Keep by Jennifer Egan

Keep a straight face. I dare you…

And, how evil am I?

I am 64% Evil

I am very evil. Too evil to care.
Those who love me probably also fear me. A lot.