Archive for August 31, 2005

Be kind to your four-legged friends

August 31, 2005

My friend Josiah lives in New Orleans. He’s hard enough to get in touch with even when he’s not in the middle of the worst national disaster in American history, and I certainly haven’t heard from him since Hurricane Katrina hit. But one of our college housemates managed to track down his parents, who relate that he is currently holed up in the veterinary hospital where his girlfriend works (worked?), alone with all the animals. I hope they are okay; I hope they can keep the animals comfortable and safe.

I’ve already donated to the Red Cross, and I’m sure most of you have done so through it or a similar organization. But please remember that thousands and thousands of animals, like the ones in Josiah’s veterinary hospital, have been killed or injured or left homeless, stranded, sick, or starving. Please consider donating (a little or a lot) to the hurricane relief funds of one of these organizations, dedicated to helping these most helpless of victims.

The Humane Society

The American Humane Association


I’ve already heard heartbreaking stories about pets left behind or washed away; perhaps your donation to one of these groups will give a new story a happy ending.

Many more relief donation links may be found here. Whatever you end up deciding to do, please do whatever you can.

The Big Eerie

August 28, 2005

New Orleans is one of the world’s great cities for horror. It’s the kind of place I can tell I’d love without ever having visited it myself. It’s also, if the countless documentaries I’ve seen on the Discovery/History/A&E/Travel/SciFi channels are any indication, one of the most heavily haunted places in America. My deepest wish right now is that it get no more heavily haunted than normal by day’s end tomorrow. Please stay safe, everybody. (Especially my friends Josiah and Rose–I’m thinking of you.)

As a small salute to this wonderful town, here are a few links to some of NO’s horror notables. Keep all of them–living or dead–in your thoughts tonight.

Poppy Z. Brite

Poppy Z. Brite’s LiveJournal

Anne Rice

Haunted New Orleans (lots of linked articles)

“The New Orleans Axeman”–unsolved serial killings (at

“Queen of Voodoo” Marie Laveau Wikipedia entry

Marie Laveau biography page

Marie Laveau’s tomb

New Orleans Voodoo information page

Vodun history and information

New Orleans and its ghosts

New Orleans haunted houses (with pictures)

“Cities of the Dead”–New Orleans cemeteries

Lafayette Cemetery inventory/index

nine inch nails–longtime (now former) New Orleans residents

School’s out

August 26, 2005

I thought I would LOVE doing this meme I saw at Bill Sherman’s and Johnny Bacardi’s:

A. Go to

B. Enter the year you graduated from high school in the search function.

C. Bold for the songs you like, strike through the ones you hate and underline your favorite. Do nothing to the ones you don’t remember (or don’t care about).

I thought I would love doing it, until I saw what songs were big in 1996. Feast your eyes, glut your soul:

The Top 100 Songs of 1996

1. Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix), Los Del Rio

2. One Sweet Day, Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men

3. Because You Loved Me, Celine Dion

4. Nobody Knows, Tony Rich Project

5. Always Be My Baby, Mariah Carey

6. Give Me One Reason, Tracy Chapman

7. Tha Crossroads, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony

8. I Love You Always Forever, Donna Lewis

9. You’re Makin’ Me High / Let It Flow, Toni Braxton

10. Twisted, Keith Sweat

11. C’mon N’ Ride It (The Train), Quad City Dj’s

12. Missing, Everything But The Girl

13. Ironic, Alanis Morissette

14. Exhale (Shoop Shoop), Whitney Houston

15. Follow You Down / Til I Hear It From You, Gin Blossoms

16. Sittin’ Up In My Room, Brandy

17. How Do U Want It / California Love, 2Pac

18. It’s All Coming Back To Me Now, Celine Dion

19. Change The World, Eric Clapton

20. Hey Lover, LL Cool J

21. Loungin, LL Cool J

22. Insensitive, Jann Arden

23. Be My Lover, La Bouche

24. Name, Goo Goo Dolls

25. Who Will Save Your Soul, Jewel

26. Where Do You Go, No Mercy

27. I Can’t Sleep Baby (If I), R. Kelly

28. Counting Blue Cars, Dishwalla

29. You Learn / You Oughta Know, Alanis Morissette

30. One Of Us, Joan Osborne

31. Wonder, Natalie Merchant

32. Not Gon’ Cry, Mary J. Blige

33. Gangsta’s Paradise, Coolio

34. Only You, 112 Featuring The Notorious B.I.G.

35. Down Low (Nobody Has To Know), R. Kelly

36. You’re The One, SWV

37. Sweet Dreams, La Bouche

38. Before You Walk Out Of My Life / Like This And Like That, Monica

39. Breakfast At Tiffany’s, Deep Blue Something

40. 1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin’ New), Coolio

41. The World I Know, Collective Soul

42. No Diggity, BLACKstreet (Featuring Dr. Dre)

43. Anything, 3t

44. 1979, The Smashing Pumpkins

45. Diggin’ On You, TLC

46. Why I Love You So Much / Ain’t Nobody, Monica

47. Kissin’ You, Total

48. Count On Me, Whitney Houston and Cece Winans

49. Fantasy, Mariah Carey (Ol’ Dirty Bastard version only)

50. Time, Hootie and The Blowfish

51. You’ll See, Madonna

52. Last Night, Az Yet

53. Mouth, Merril Bainbridge

54. The Earth, The Sun, The Rain, Color Me Badd

55. All The Things (Your Man Won’t Do), Joe

56. Wonderwall, Oasis

57. Woo-hah!! Got You All In Check / Everything Remains Raw, Busta Rhymes

58. Tell Me, Groove Theory

59. Elevators (Me and You), Outkast

60. Hook, Blues Traveler

61. Doin It, LL Cool J

62. Fastlove, George Michael

63. Touch Me Tease Me, Case Featuring Foxxy Brown

64. Tonite’s Tha Night, Kris Kross

65. Children, Robert Miles

66. Theme From Mission: Impossible, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen

67. Closer To Free, Bodeans

68. Just A Girl, No Doubt

69. If Your Girl Only Knew, Aaliyah

70. Lady, D’angelo

71. Key West Intermezzo (I Saw You First), John Mellencamp

72. Pony, Ginuwine

73. Nobody, Keith Sweat

74. Old Man and Me (When I Get To Heaven), Hootie and The Blowfish

75. If It Makes You Happy, Sheryl Crow

76. As I Lay Me Down, Sophie B. Hawkins

77. Keep On, Keepin’ On, Mc Lyte

78. Jealousy, Natalie Merchant

79. I Want To Come Over, Melissa Etheridge

80. Who Do U Love, Deborah Cox

81. Un-Break My Heart, Toni Braxton

82. This Is Your Night, Amber

83. You Remind Me Of Something, R. Kelly

84. Runaway, Janet Jackson

85. Set U Free, Planet Soul

86. Hit Me Off, New Edition

87. No One Else, Total

88. My Boo, Ghost Town Dj’s

89. Get Money, Junior M.A.F.I.A.

90. That Girl, Maxi Priest Featuring Shaggy

91. Po Pimp, Do Or Die

92. Until It Sleeps, Metallica

93. Hay, Crucial Conflict

94. Beautiful Life, Ace Of Base

95. Back For Good, Take That

96. I Got Id / Long Road, Pearl Jam

97. Soon As I Get Home, Faith Evans

98. Macarena, Los Del Rio

99. Only Wanna Be With You, Hootie and The Blowfish

100. Don’t Cry, Seal

Jesus, that was ugly. I guess I truly was “alternative,” considering how many of those songs I’ve never heard and how many of the ones I have heard I actively dislike–the Tower Records clerks of my youth would be so proud of me! Figuring out my favorite took about two seconds. And keep in mind that I’m judging this list from my current, far more open-minded-to-pop perspective, too. In that regard I could have been more generous, actually–there’s something undeniably enjoyable to me about all those Night at the Roxbury-type dance songs, like “Where Do You Go” and “Beautiful Life” and “Be My Lover”; I semi-enjoy some of those early precursors of mediocre hip-hop’s chart dominance, such as “California Love” and “Tha Crossroads” and “No Diggity” as well–but I simply don’t relish the craft of those songs the way I do, say, disco or ’80s pop. I’d have done a lot more bolding in 1978 than Johnny B. did, that’s for sure. And Christ, look at Bill S.’s 1968! I would KILL for the equivalent of the Human Beinz!

If you’re interested in what I did like in 1996, I made a list once, and I’m reposting it JUST FOR YOU. I went with only one album per artist or it would have just gotten ridiculous; the album selected is frequently, but certainly not always, the first album I discovered by that particular artist; it’s generally the one that had the biggest impact on me.

69 Albums That High-School Sean Loved

1. Alice in Chains: Dirt

2. Aphex Twin:

The horror! The horror!

August 23, 2005

Hey, look at that–I finally picked a title for my horror linkblogging posts! It was right in front of my nose all along, don’t you think?

The other day I mentioned how much I love a good (or, really, even a bad) water monster. (Catching the episode of MythBusters where the guys debunk nearly every major plot point and set piece in Jaws this weekend did nothing to lessen this love, by the way.) Inspired by that post, I spent a little time surfing for watery cryptids like the sucuriju, the mokele-mbembe, and the strange creatures of Lake Iliamna in Alaska, about which I’d never heard before. (Interestingly, the theory in this particular lake-creature case is the same one advanced in Loch Ness these days, as I mentioned the other day–large, lake-locked sturgeon. And oh, hey, I took a trip to Loch Ness and wrote about it a couple years back, if you’re curious.)

And while on, I came across a link to Leviathan: The World Serpent Revealed. The link loudly noted that “this site is fictional,” but more than five minutes reading the tall tale contained therein would have been sufficient to reveal that; the nature of the sea monster described in this particular bit of web fiction is simply too far beyond belief to maintain the illusion that what you’re seeing is true. But I think that’s what makes the site so interesting, and well worth a thorough visit–this fellow clearly could have concocted this fiction in a more persuasive fashion, but apparently the aspects of this particular monster that fascinated him were beyond the realm of believability, and admirably, he didn’t let that stop him. There are several moments of fine descriptive prose to be found here, but the real highlight? Using an “infinite canvas” model of Web art at which Scott McCloud himself would nod approvingly, this “size comparison” plays upon basic fears of heights, depths, the sea, snakes, and simple enormity so effectively that it gives me the freaking chills regardless of how self-evidently unreal it is.

A little more sniffing around the domain at which Leviathan rests revealed this creepy untitled short story about a very different kind of ocean-based horror. Again, plausibility is not a strong suit of the piece–the first-person narration simply doesn’t make sense as constructed–but the central image is genuinely compelling, an echo of one of the more overlooked aspects of the horror of The Blair Witch Project, actually. Assuming author M.K. Davis is responsible for the Leviathan site as well, he’s a voice worth keeping an eye on. (Can you keep an eye on a voice? Ah well.)

Next up: Bringing more worth-reading insight to the situation than I can muster at the moment, Jog at Jog the Blog brings our attention to a bit of back-and-forth between the makers of the self-proclaimed exploitation flick Chaos and critic Roger Ebert, who hated, hated, hated the movie. If you start with Jog’s piece, then read Ebert’s review of the movie, then read the filmmakers’ response to the review and Ebert’s response to the response, you’ll pretty much be caught up. The long and the short of it is that Chaos is apparently an incredibly cruel, misogynistic, violent, and nihilistic movie whose debt to Wes Craven’s The Last House on the Left is comparable to that which Bono has encouraged the G8 to drop; Ebert objects to the film on both counts, and the filmmakers retort that they’re only a reflection of The Way Things Really Are. Jog says most of what I’d say on the subject (which probably wouldn’t be that much, seeing as I haven’t seen Chaos or (this makes me a bad horror fan) the Last House on the Left, or even Virgin Spring for that matter), placing special emphasis on the fact that the movie’s apparently brazen theft from Craven’s earlier film (right down to the promo posters) makes their claims re: Chaos‘s Redeeming Social and Artistic Value a lot harder to swallow. I’ve said quite a bit on where I draw my particular line in terms of cruel, misogynistic, violent, nihilistic films in the past, though: Basically, this is one side of that line, while this is the other.

Another one bites the dust? Not quite. Though it seems like more horrorblogs are on hiatus than not these days, Steven at Corpse Eaters explains that while his blogging has been comparatively light of late, that was his plan all along, pretty much. He’ll be posting once a week, and I definitely recommend visiting his site at least that often.

Finally, in not-quite-horror news, I’ve got a review of cartoonist Paul Hornschemeier’s Forlorn Funnies #5 in this week’s issue of The Comics Journal. There there be monsters…

Links of the day

August 17, 2005

Back when I was mostly a comicsblogger, my linkblogging posts were always titled “Comix and match.” I need to think of a good title for horror linkblogging posts…”Lynkanthropy”? Just a thought. Anyway, on with the show.

Dark But Shining’s Kevin Melrose has Western horror short story in an upcoming issue of the comics anthology Digital Webbing Presents. Check it out, won’t you?

Carnacki at the Mystery of the Haunted Vampire links to this Guardian essay by dark fantasy writer China Mi

Hey! It’s the Thing!

August 15, 2005

Move over, Prince. Take a hike, Dashboard Confessional. Don’t let the door hit your asses on the way out, generic mook-rockers who sang that song from Spider-Man.

There’s a new superhero songmaker in town.

Ladies and gentlemen, I heartily advise you to download “The Fantastic Four Song,” by the Ray Wall Band.

Your ears will never be the same.

They come from all over

August 12, 2005

Where the Monsters Go: The Horrorblog Update Page continues to grow pretty much every day, which is delightful. I’ve received numerous requests from bloggers who want their site added, and each new blog I come across tends to have a blogroll of its own ripe for the picking. The page is also now the number-one Google hit for “horror blog,” which is neato indeed. I hope everyone’s been digging it; I know I am.

One thing I’d love to do with the page is to broaden awareness of it beyond people who are already reading horror blogs. Link-love from the many comicsbloggers and comics message-board people who I think still read this page would be cool, but perhaps the best thing I can think of for you to do if you’d like to spread the word is to post about it on any horror- or genre-related message boards you may be a member of. My hope is to attract not just new users of the resource, but new contributors as well.

Meanwhile, I’m looking for any suggestions you may have as to other blogs that should be listed on the page. I’m particularly interested in blogs by horror authors, filmmakers, artists, actors, and other folks directly involved in the creation of horror works, or dedicated to specific examples of same. (I’ve got a handful listed already, but believe it or not I only got around to adding Poppy Z. Brite’s LiveJournal yesterday, so clearly I’m a little behind the eightball in this area.) Foreign-language sites would also be appreciated.

I’m also looking for semi-horrorblogs, or blogs that fall in the gray area between horror and other topics. As far as I’m concerned, blogs about things like serial killers, dark sci-fi, dark fantasy, the paranormal, the occult, and cryptozoology are all fair game. Now, there’s a fine and fluid line between these topics and subjects that I don’t think would make the cut, like true crime, general sci-fi/fantasy, conspiracy theory, mysticism/gnosticism, pure ufology, and so forth. As Howard Peirce mused recently, it can be tough to fix appropriate link boundaries when you’re walking this beat. But I’ll take a look at nearly anything, and thus far I’ve been following the model of the Comic Weblog Update page and erring on the side of generosity when it comes to blogs for which horror is just one topic of many covered. So if you can think of anything, let me know!

Finally, if you come across a great horror blog that doesn’t have an XML feed or isn’t pinging, chances are that’s why they’re not already on the list. So do everyone a favor and encourage them to hook themselves up, ‘kay?

And now, on with the links:

Breaking the embargo once again: Following up on his extremely useful breakdown of how best to acquire the complete works of Chris “Acme Novelty Library” Ware, Fantagraphics’ Kim Thompson has now done the same for anyone looking for more work by Gilbert “Palomar” Hernandez and Jaime “Locas” Hernandez beyond the aforementioned massive hardcover collections of their main Love & Rockets work. The Fantagraphics blog justifies its own existence with these three posts alone.

Back on the Howard Peirce tip: The blogger more commonly known as M Valdemar has announced a hiatus, along with his intention to return this fall as the blog equivalent of a Halloween haunted house. Imagine that: a non-fiction horror blog that’s actually a horror work itself! I’m extremely curious to see how this turns out. Godspeed, M!

Over at new (to me, at least) site my concerns about the upcoming remake of The Wicker Man. He points out that the original Wicker Man‘s relative obscurity will mean that this remake becomes the definitive version in the public consciousness (to the extent that the public consciousness will ever demand a definitive version of The Wicker Man), a risk that the lousy remakes of Psycho and even The Texas Chain Saw Massacre didn’t present.

And in an earlier post, Derelict argues that I overanalyzed the ending of Spielberg’s War of the Worlds. Does that film’s “happy ending” belong in sneer quotes or what? Read Derelict’s piece and decide for yourself.

Speaking of aliens, BoingBoing directs us to this New York Times review of the new book Abducted: How People Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliens. As I get more skeptical in my dotage, I find such psychological explanations of apparent paranormal phenomena fascinating.

Finally, I just noticed that blogger Gardner Linn has me blogrolled under the category “Life and How to Live It.” Best blogroll category ever.

Barker’s Beauties

August 11, 2005

From the “missed it” file: Clive Barker’s new Midnight Picture Show production shingle, which plans on producing a series of horror films including several adaptations of short stories from Barker’s seminal (in more ways than one) Books of Blood. Among the tales slated for translation to the screen are two of my favorites, “The Midnight Meat Train” and “Pig Blood Blues.” (Besides being great stories, they have fabulous titles.) Apparently things are already underway, with The Plague, based on a new high-concept idea from Barker that’s maybe the best I’ve heard in years, already in production. (Starring James “Dawson” Van Der Beek!)

And once again, I’m a little wary. Books of Blood was, quite frankly, brilliant; a raft of movies made on the cheap and on the quick by comparatively unexperienced directors and starring WB refugees will, let’s say, likely be less so. And we’ve all seen what happens when Barker’s work falls into the wrong cinematic hands. On the other hand, the source material really is strong enough that it would take a concentrated effort to louse it up; moreover the fact that Midnight Picture Show will be mounting what amounts to its own mini-movement of horror films that don’t fall into any of the current horror camps (riffs on Scream, riffs on The Sixth Sense, riffs on Ringu, remakes of ’70s classics, and the Dark Castle widget factory) alone makes it a promising development.

Elaborate, please

August 10, 2005

Okay, fine.

The Missus reminds me that Nicolas Cage was once good, which I guess is true–he was in my least favorite Coen Brothers movie and my least favorite David Lynch movie, but that’s still ahead of, like, 85% of all movies, right? But now he’s just a bag of tics to which some big studio or other occasionally staples a paycheck. Even if he was handing in young-DeNiro performances every time, there’s almost no point in trying to fill the shoes of Edward Woodward in the role of Sgt. Howie. It’s like Vince Vaughan in the remake of Psycho–nice try, but sometimes when you put a quirky character actor into an off-kilter horror film, you get career-best gold the first time around, and trying to duplicate that alchemy is utterly futile.

The real problem, though, is setting the film in America. So much of the strength of the original Wicker Man lies in its very specific milieu, that of the pagan rites of the United Kingdom. To say that the existence of a pagan cult in the middle of the Great American Nowhere strains credulity is to put it mildly. On the other hand, if the filmmakers were to go the more predictable (but also more believable) route and transmogrify the Summerislians into Old Testament types, not only would they be treading on ground trodden pretty damn hard and pretty damn often (there’ve been more than enough Children of the Corn movies, thanks), but they’d be losing the ability to play with the arthouse audience sympathies the way the original film did. Pitting Sgt. Howie’s priggish (though sincere) Christianity against the islanders’ earthy, unabashed paganism ensures that the viewer–like as not a lapsarian–will, on some level or other, be rooting against the Sergeant…until the viewer’s growing sense of complicity in an atrocity gets the better of her, but by then, of course, it’s too late. Make the Summerislians fundies, or even just exurbanites with skeletons in their closets (as I’m assuming LaBute will do, given his preoccupations in the past), and you’ve stumbled out of the blocks.

This is an awful lot of judgement to pass on a film that hasn’t been made yet, I know, and I’ll happily eat my words if the thing comes out great. But The Wicker Man is a very special movie. I’d like it to remain so.

You do NOT have an appointment with the Wicker Man

August 10, 2005

Good Lord.

Nic “Gone in 60 Seconds” Cage as Sgt. Howie in the remake of The Wicker Man? Directed by Neil “In the Company of Men” LaBute? Set in America? With Ellen Burstyn in the Christopher Lee role?

This is going to be Stepford Wives-remake bad, isn’t it?

Now that’s something you don’t see every day

August 9, 2005

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…

The Hellraiser Playset!

Details here. If I wanted to be persnickety I’d complain that the Female Cenobite (I’d use her on-set nickname, but this is a family site) is the one from Hellbound rather than Hellraiser, but when the words “Hellraiser Playset” are being used I’m put in a mood that’s far from persnickety indeed.

Please advise

August 8, 2005

Let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that I had in my possession mp3s of the entire new Death Cab for Cutie album, Plans. Is linking to them from here the kind of thing one gets in trouble for? My email is to the left.

The autobiographies of Mister Chuck

August 6, 2005

Now that I’ve finally gotten around to reading Haunted, the latest book by Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk, I think I’m joining the consensus: This would have worked much better as a straightforward collection of short stories than it does as a novel with short stories told/written by the characters therein.

For starters, each of these different individuals speaks in almost the exact same voice. (Palahniuk gives a couple of them the Chuck Palahniuk equivalent of down-home American accents, but you almost can’t tell.) Next, and I’m going to try to be spoiler-free about this, but the notion that this is the collection of people such a “writers’ retreat” would assemble…I’m sorry, but there’s only so much disbelief I can suspend. Moreover, and again trying to be spoiler free, 90% of them really don’t need to suffer through this sort of event to make them famous–they could almost all become (in)famous through their own life stories, and at least two that I can think of should already be famous anyway. That’s to say nothing of the masochistic behavior in which the group indulges en masse, which would be tough enough to swallow (no pun intended) even if the bulk of the book weren’t dedicated to chronicling the very different lives and neuroses of the characters involved. There also are some weird problems with structural asymmetry, in that almost but not quite all of the characters on the retreat have done a certain thing (something very specific, but again, trying to be spoiler-free), and in that almost but not quite all of the stories they write/tell (it’s never made completely clear, though by the end the context clues and the occasional reference to the framing story would indicate the latter) are autobiographical. It’s in those asymmetries that Haunted really betrays its origins as a short-story collection; or if that’s not really the case, it’s in those asymmetries that it at least shows why it would work better that way.

That being said, I really think the short stories are almost all top-drawer. The foot-massage one was hilarious–it read like a perfect parody of Palahniuk’s trademark “literature of obscure expertise,” you know? Taken in tandem with the “Chef Assassin” story, it’s proof that for all Palahniuk may vocally rage against his critics, he is one himself. But genre fans who don’t belong to either the Cult or to the Cult-haters will find much to appreciate here too. There’s a great Bigfoot horror story (!), a great rural urban-legend horror story, one of the most unique serial-killer horror stories I’ve ever read, a great masturbation horror story, a couple of traditional “Jesus Christ these people are sad and messed-up” Chuck P. stories…excellent work, and really excellent horror. In fact, I daresay that in the latter regard, Haunted is more effective than Palahniuk’s previous two stabs at the genre, Lullaby and Diary. Hell, I think that if you took the overarching conceit about the writers’ retreat, scrapped the notion that the people on the retreat are the people telling the other stories, and condensed IT into its OWN short story, you’d have maybe the best book Palahniuk ever wrote–better even, perhaps, than the masterful and moving Choke. Instead you’ve got what you’ve got: a flawed though compelling, or compelling though flawed, work overall.

Misty Mountain Hop

August 5, 2005

I love, love, love Stephen King’s novella “The Mist.” Collected in Skeleton Crew, it tends to find its way to my bedside every summer, when the nights get hazy and warm and the insects gather ’round the light outside the front door. (Fans of the story will understand the connection.) Just this week I brought up with my co-workers at lunch what a terrific freaking movie it would make.

And lo and behold, Frank “Shawshank” Darabont is making it! Lots and lots of details can be found here at Lilja’s Library.

Post-apocalyptic horror and giant monster horror, together at last! Joy, rapture!

We must not remind them that Giants walk the earth

August 5, 2005

Heidi MacDonald’s recent shout-out reminds me that I’ve been meaning to plug Giant, the genuinely excellent entertainment/pop-cult mag that occasionally employs me, for some time now. Simply put, if I didn’t receive free contributor’s copies, I’d subscribe to this magazine in a heartbeat. (And I’m not just saying that because they pay me.)

Why? Because recent issues have included such features as a profile of State-offshoot comedy group Stella as written by the State’s “red-head gay” Kevin Allison; a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon; a full-page photograph of Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian, labeled simply “Just Because”; a profile of Joy Division featuring interviews with Bernard Sumner and Deborah Curtis; photos and excerpts from Matthew Modine’s on-set memoir of Full Metal Jacket; a lengthy Office Space cast reunion; a “Where Are They Now?” write-up for each member of Faith No More; a Top 20 guide to Asian horror; an interview with David Patrick Kelly of Twin Peaks, Flirting with Disaster, and The Warriors, which among other things reveals the origin of “Warriors! Come out and plaaayaaay!”; a guide to Lebowski Fest; an interview with Law & Order: SVU star Christopher Meloni focusing solely on his character from Wet Hot American Summer, Gene the cook; and on and on and on. It’s so close to having a pipeline directly from my brain that they could well call the magazine Sean. My guess is many readers of this blog will feel the same way about the magazine themselves.

And since I might as well plug what I’ve got in it this month (issue #6–the one with Mischa Barton on the cover): I’m oddly Marvel-centric this go-’round, with a quick “Break Into Comics in Five Easy Steps” interview with Brian Michael Bendis and a review of Brian K. Vaughan’s Runaways Vol. 1 hardcover. I also plug the upcoming Mark Newgarden collection from Fantagraphics, We All Die Alone. Next ish, my piece on Charles Burns’s Black Hole, the best horror comic of all time, is the Books section’s lead review, and I’ll have a write-up of the new Chris Ware Acme Novelty Library hardcover in there as well.

It’s a great magazine, is what I’m saying, and according to the subscription card in the latest issue it’ll cost you $7.97 for a year’s subscription. I don’t know how to beat that, folks. Go read it already.

Generic nonsense

August 4, 2005

I was just getting around to adding Neil Gaiman’s weblog to the Horrorblog Update Page when I came across this entry about some sort of contretemps involving Terry Pratchet, J.K. Rowling, and the pre- and post-Potter fantasy landscape. It includes this extremely astute observation from Gaiman:

Mostly what it makes me think of is the poem in Kingsley Amis and Robert Conquest’s NEW MAPS OF HELL, which went, from memory,

“SF’s no good!” they bellow till we’re deaf.

“But this is good.” “Well, then it’s not SF.”

And it’s an odd double-standard that applies to all genre work as much as to SF. It’s always been easier for journalists to go for the black and white simplicities of beginning with the assumption that the entire body of SF (or Fantasy, or Comics, or Horror, or whatever the area is under discussion) is and always has been fundamentally without merit — which means that if you like someone’s work, whether it’s J.G. Ballard or Bill Gibson or Peter Straub or Alan Moore or Susanna Clarke or J.K. Rowling — or Terry Pratchett — it’s easier simply to depict them as not being part of that subset.

This is something I’ve railed against for ages; I best remember discussing it in terms of 28 Days Later, the excellent non-zombie zombie movie that was touted hither and yon as a horror movie too good, therefore, to actually be horror…

Anyone who refers to any movie of any genre as “a genre-busting vision” is an asshole who doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. If a movie of a particular genre is good, it hasn’t “busted” the genre or “transcended” the genre or any other dopey pseudoeducated cliche–it IS the genre, insofar as it’s the best the genre has to offer.

The topic comes up often in superhero-comic circles as well, as in this post‘s brief examination of the notion of “transcending the genre”:

Listen, folks: If a given work is of a particular genre, and it’s really good, it hasn’t transcended the genre–it epitomizes the genre. It shows you what the genre is capable of. To say it transcends the genre is to write the potential for greatness out of that genre by definition!

Great works “transcend their genre” only if that genre is defined in terms of its hoariest cliches and worst excesses. Dig?

A brief breaking of the embargo

August 4, 2005

Fantagraphics’ Kim Thompson has done a real public service by posting a breakdown of every issue of Chris Ware’s Acme Novelty Library and where (if anyplace) the material therein is available. Acme is the best comic book of all time, but it can be dizzying for newbies to dive into, so this little guide is really invaluable. Thanks, Kim!

Cries and whispers

August 3, 2005

A propos of a chapter in Chuck Palahniuk’s Haunted (about which more later, probably) and my wife’s voice student’s claim that she saw a dinosaur in Canada: Bigfoot Sounds, recordings allegedly made of the vocalizations of the North American sasquatch. Some are more obviously fake than others, but quite a few are pretty damn bone-chilling, no matter what they actually may be; before Peter Jackson made his Lord of the Rings movies, I thought these would make excellent Nazgul screams.

Some monsters

August 2, 2005

The Horrorblog Update Page is already paying dividends–for me, at least. Here are a few of the dark delights I’ve found thus far:

Discovered today at Dr. Mysterian’s Essential Ghoul’s Record Shelf is this terrific analysis of Robin Hardy’s brilliant film The Wicker Man, all written by way of introducing an mp3 from the film’s Paul Giovanni soundtrack. And if it gets you to watch the movie (either again or–and I’m insanely jealous–for the first time), so much the better.

Next, courtesy of Exclamation Mark comes Empty World, a website dedicated to post-apocalyptic fiction. As you might have guessed, narratives of societal breakdown in the face of some cataclysmic disaster really toot my horn–my interest in zombies is really just an offshoot of the same fascination that leads me to dig The Road Warrior, The Stand, a lot of Stephen King’s short fiction–hell, even The Warriors has hints of it. A great idea for a site.

Not from the Update Page, but still horrifying: Courtesy of Wretchard comes Totalitarian Art, a website for a 1999 course at Northwestern University that among other relics of the fascists, Nazis, and Communists features this scale diagram of the statue of Lenin that was to have stood atop the Palace of the Soviets in Moscow:

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Tough for zombies to beat that.

Finally, another great idea for a site: Old Haunts, Keith Milford’s collection of old photos and art from Halloweens gone by.

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Boo! And remember, there’s more where all that came from…

Today, the ground-floor half-bath…

August 1, 2005

As I was driving to work today I saw, out of the corner of my eye a logo on a delivery van. And if I hadn’t used google to dredge up proof of its existence, I’m not sure I’d believe that I actually did see it. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you paint manufacturer Sherwin-Williams’ logo:

Is this the most horrifying corporate logo you’ve ever seen in your life, or what? Forget the Trilateral Commission–at least we now know what the Illuminati’s REAL front organization is…