Saturday, February 18, 2017

Where the Hot Springs Blow

This entry first appeared, in a slightly different form, in my e-newsletter I WAS BIGFOOT'S SHEMP, which you can subscribe to in the sidebar.

I ended up reading 18 books in January, well on my way to reading 50 books this year, my usual goal.  I don't know if it was because of hunkering down for the winter, getting ready to go on some sort of creative binge, afraid to watch the news, or all of the above.

But my book club entry for January is Warren Ellis' NORMAL, for a lot of reasons.  It was Ellis who gave me the idea to do an email newsletter.  He is a long-time comic book writer who has written several challenging genre novels.  This one was published in chapters via Kindle and then came out in paper.

He always gives you a lot to think about.  This one is about a trend forecaster who starts to lose his mind predicting a bleak future, and ends up in an asylum.  After another patient is murdered in a locked-room mystery, he tries to put the pieces back together.  Pretty nutty overall.

I have this perverse desire to read gloomy Scandinavian mysteries in the winter; I guess to realize that my life, and my Indiana winter, isn't that bad (If you have already read all THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO books go looking for Jo Nesbo, Arnaludur Indrioason, Helene Tursten, Asa Larsson, for a start).

I thought I would jump on some Scandinavian movies and have by and large found them surprisingly cheery and sometimes outright funny.  Some pretty good ones I have seen lately are A MAN CALLED OVE, THE 100 YEAR OLD MAN WHO CLIMBED OUT THE WINDOW AND DISAPPEARED, IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE, FORCE MAJEURE.  IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE has Stellan Skarsgard as a snowplow driver, if you really want to think we have it easier here.

We are closer to the end of winter than the beginning, a good thing.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Trying To Relax, Up In The Capsule

This entry first appeared, in a slightly different form, in my e-newsletter I WAS BIGFOOT'S SHEMP which you can subscribe to in the sidebar.

I have been on a crazy reading binge lately, having knocked out a dozen books this month, reading one about every other day or so.  Either it's winter, and I'm in burrowing mode, or I am getting ready to have a big chunk of creativity, or maybe both.

I had a crazy fall, and turned down some screenwriting work, but it may be time to get back in the saddle.  I have had an idea for a dystopian sci-fi screenplay since last summer, but let's be honest, is this really the right time to write a dystopian story?  And whether it is or isn't, I suspect a lot of people are cranking on them right now anyway.

I have been reading a lot of pulp paperbacks again; spaghetti-flavored westerns and hard-boiled mid-century noir and other fast reads.  There is something about these authors from this time period, somewhere in that span of time from the 1950s to the 1970s, writing for the spinner racks, many of them borderline alcoholics or chasing other demons, churning out a book a month sometimes under a handful of names, often not their own.  I have an affinity for them the way I do following the peculiar rhythms of VHS horror movies, and threadbare spaghetti westerns on broken-down sets, and DIY backyard epics.  To be reminded that putting your butt in the seat and working is just as valuable or perhaps more so than being an artistic genius.

Speaking of spaghettis, my homage to those movies, CALAMITY JANE'S REVENGE, is free on Amazon Prime right now, if you still have missed it.  I named most of the villains after bad guys played by Klaus Kinski--memorably the guy that gets a match lit off of his face in A FEW DOLLARS MORE, but I love him as "Hot Dead" in I AM SARTANA YOUR ANGEL OF DEATH--if you wondered how much I really love Italian oaters.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Time, Time, Time, See What's Become of Me

Portions of this post first appeared in my e-newsletter I WAS BIGFOOT'S SHEMP.  You can subscribe to the right.

Even though it was below zero, and the snow was coming down in the way it only does when it is coming off of Lake Michigan, I had a great time in Chicago with the Horror Society screening SEX MACHINE.  We had a small crowd, but all engaged and interested, and the Q&A ranged far and wide.  I hope to one day be back screening another movie--we talked about JURASSIC PREY, which is lunatic enough for this crowd.

With Christmas money, I am renewing subscriptions to The New Yorker and The Alantic and plan to renew my Showtime streaming subscription to binge on THE AFFAIR, SHAMELESS, and MASTERS OF SEX over the holidays.

In the meantime, I just wrapped up a pretty good thriller series called SPOTLESS and am cooking along through THE GIRLFRIENDS' GUIDE TO DIVORCE since I made my wife watch SPOTLESS.  Even though SPOTLESS is about French crime scene guys living in England, DIVORCE, with its California culture and lifestyle, seems farther away to me, somehow.  THE CROWN is quite good, unbelievably soapy and yet by and large true, and THE DETECTORISTS is pretty good but so mild that I sort of can't remember what any of it is about.  JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL is good for those with Harry Potter withdrawal and I liked EASY because it was shot in Chicago and I saw a few familiar faces from that community in it, and knew some of the people hanging out behind the scenes.

Obviously it is winter, and the Netflix binge is underway under a cold and dark sky.

Happy New Year, everybody.