Johnny Bee Goode

Today is the first day of Autumn.  Why not stop over at The Bees Are Dead, and mark the encroaching cold with a few dark futuristic visions?

There you’ll find Gary Glauber’s “After the Deluge”, which is a sanguine twist on the usual narrative of the post-apocalyptic poem.  There is also some truly arresting photography — Paul Gerrard’s “Monochromatic Beginnings” is shudder-inducing and delightfully monstrous, and Kathryn Nee’s ““Windows into the End” is a haunting exhibition of abandonment art.

 

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Al Pueblo de México …

El Pueblo de los Estados Unidos le desea paz, seguridad y fortaleza durante esta crisis.

 

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Teotitlán de Valle. Tapestry shop.  Photo credit: By Wolfgang Sauber (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Throwback Thursday: Nena’s “99 Red Balloons” (1984)

The 80’s were a weird time in a lot of ways.  Pop culture’s answer to the threat of global nuclear annihilation was a really cool, really catchy song with an upbeat tempo that topped the charts.  (Full disclosure — I don’t know much about music, and I’m not sure I’m using the term “upbeat tempo” correctly.  If I’m not, you can totally call me on it.)

Nena released “99 Luftballoons” in 1983 in Germany, it was released a year later in America as “99 Red Balloons.”  Wikipedia taught me some interesting trivia this afternoon — the group was actually pretty unhappy with the loose translation of the Americanized lyrics, and all but disowned them.  Nena performed the song only in its original German, even when the band was on tour in England.

Maybe we need a catchy pop song to teach the perils of nuclear brinksmanship to the current president.  Or, better yet, set something to the tune of one of those Looney Tunes cartoons.

 

Publication Notice: “Roanoke Summer Midnight” will appear in the Peeking Cat Anthology 2017

I’m so pleased to share here that Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine has selected “Roanoke Summer Midnight” to appear in its 2017 Anthology.  I’m always honored to have my poetry selected for the magazine, but seeing my work appear in the annual anthology really is a special distinction.

The anthology will be published in October.  I’ll post ordering information here as it develops.

Thank you, Editor Samantha Rose!

 

 

Today is shaping up to be a great day!

First, a particularly kind Twitter user in Argentina informed me that she translated one of my flash-fiction stories into Spanish.  The title of the story is “I Bring Her Diamonds.  My Hands Are Full of Them.”  It originally appeared as a 100-word horror story in Microfiction Monday Magazine, and you can read it here.

Then, the talented Robert Hansen shared with me his printing proofs for some of the flash fiction he accepted for the Poems-for-All Project.  Poems-for-All crafts matchbook-sized miniature books for poetry and flash fiction, which can be easily distributed to family and friends, or just “scattered like seeds” in true guerrilla poetry fashion.  The flash fiction that Mr. Hansen selected include another 100-word horror story, “There in the Bags,” as well as my response to the online “Six-Word Science Story Challenge.”

The artwork that Mr. Hansen is downright terrific, and I can’t wait to share it with you after the miniature books are completed.  For more information about Poems-for-All and Mr. Hansen’s unique publishing project, please visit his website here.

 

 

 

 

A short review of Season 4 of “The Strain”

The fourth and final season of “The Strain” was easily its weakest, but was still fun enough to merit an 8 out of 10.

Season 1 was a unique, detailed, methodically assembled techno-thriller crossbred with vampire mythology — you could tell that it was adapted from a pretty decent book series by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan.  The show’s subsequent seasons progressively meandered farther and farther into comic book territory … the fourth felt loosely and hastily plotted, with spotty and confusing exposition.  (I was considerably confused until late in the game about who deployed nuclear weapons in the war between vampires and humans, when they did so, and what their strategy was.)

But what the hell.  I still enjoyed this.  The writers here still know where their bread is buttered, and gave survival-horror fans more of the screwball guilty pleasures they were tuning in for.  There was plenty of blood and gore (even if it’s only the white, worm-infested vampire blood that I suspect was easier for the censors to approve). There were more of the show’s creepy, cringe-inducing monster effects.  And there was plenty of action — right up until a finale that was predictable but cool.  (If you’ve been following the show the way I have, do you not want to see machine guns, explosions, swords and severed vampire heads?)

Richard Sammel consistently outshined everyone in his role as the WWII Nazi turned vampire Himmler.  What an extraordinary villain.)  It’s a further testament to his talent that the man actually appears sublimely good-natured in real life.  (He interacts with his fans from time to time on Facebook.)

The show actually surprised me, too, by how attached I got to its characters.  It hasn’t always been a show that is strong on its characters, but … I’m going to miss them.  Vasily Fet (Kevin Durand) and “Dutch” (Ruta Gedmintas) were two in particular that I found myself surprisingly attached to — especially considering that Dutch was a superfluous character that seems to have been added only for sex appeal and romantic tension.  I was rooting for both of them.

So I’d still recommend “The Strain,” despite Season 4’s failings.  To quote Jack Nicholson’s Joker in 1989’s “Batman,” “I don’t know if it’s art, but I like it.”  (Yes, I do know that Walt Disney said it first.  Whatever.)

 

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A short review of “It” (2017)

“It” (2017) succeeds on a number of levels; it’s both an excellent horror movie in its own right and a faithful adaptation of Stephen King’s incredible 1986 novel.  It’s rate it a 9 out of 10.

The movie works so well because it captures the book’s key juxtaposition of sweetness with horror.  There is a gentle innocence about the story’s circle of adolescent protagonists, who remain kind and good in King’s story — despite facing an incredibly powerful monster while being alienated by adults who are shifty, feckless, or monstrous themselves.  The screenwriters understand that juxtaposition, and successfully bring it to the screen.  The kids here feel real, three-dimensional, quirky and damned likable.  (My favorite was Eddie, the wisecracking hypochondriac, played by Jack Dylan Grazer.)  It adds great tension to the story.

And the monster itself is truly terrific, thanks to an inspired, menacing portrayal by Bill Skarsgard and startling visual direction that nicely summons summons both coulrophobia and grotesque (yet sometimes subtle) body horror.

The film might suffer just a little from something its makers couldn’t avoid — so many of its basic story elements are overly familiar tropes.  King wrote his novel more than 30 years ago.  “Scary” clowns are now omnipresent in popular culture.  (It’s something I’ll never understand.  Clowns are mysteriously and positively irritating to me.  They’re a lot like David Tennant before “Jessica Jones.”)  We’ve also seen more than a few alienated adolescents, period settings and shape-shifting monsters that impersonate our worst fears, in everything from “The X-Files” to “Stranger Things” to … other Stephen King adaptations.  We don’t want the filmmakers to neglect these key story components.  That would ruin the movie.  But they feel like overly common tropes in 2017.

Still, this was a great fright flick.  I can’t wait for Part 2.

 

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