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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Fanatics, Fools, Santas and Devils

Warning: This post may contain content considered obscene/objectionable by some viewers.



Photo Credit: Danny Hennesy/Kristian Svensson/Wikimedia Commons



I ran into a bunch of teens from a church while I was walking back to my house from town late this afternoon and they gave me an invitation card to their play. It turned out to be from a fundamentalist church. I get along with fundamentalist Christians as much as Jews got along with Samaritans in Jesus's time. You can't blame the kids, though; they're just going along with what their parents believe. But in the words of the British butler Cruikshank from 1966's Munster, Go Home!, I said as I tossed the invitation in the garbage as soon as I got in the house, "Adolescent, swine!" Only I replaced "adolesecent" with "fundamentalist". Man, I hate religious fanatics telling me what to believe and how. There's just no room in this horror writer's life for religious fanaticism since he is already a fanatic--a sci fi/fantasy fanatic, that is.

Anyway. . . Unfortunately my book, The Fool's Illusion, won't make it out before the New Year. As indicated on the book marks that I finally had printed and copied off, it's now due out early 2013.  Which may be better because the "13" in the year goes better with many of the stories in the book. (No, I didn't hold off publishing it just for that reason!) I don't know the specific month or day when it will be out, probably by the end of January (but I'm trying to get it out sooner). Just keep checking back here for more updates on the book. You can also follow me on Twitter.

If you want a book mark and are in the Sacramento area, you can get one at Movies On A Big Screen's (MOBS's) Crappy Christmas screening of the B-rated and mostly forgotten film, Santa Claus Vs. Satan, tomorrow evening at 7 p.m. (when the movie begins) at the Grange theatre. Provided that I'll be able to get a hold of one of the employees or organisers there to give them the book marks since I won't be able to make it to the screening itself.  But hey, if it turns out nobody is available to receive the book marks and therefore you see none there, you get to see the movie and laugh along at it's poor quality with your cool cat of a B movie/horror host, Mr. Lobo of syndicated Cinema Insomnia who will be there! So as far as the book marks go, it's just a maybe for the reason mentioned above, but like I said, you get the movie no matter what provided that you pay the five dollar admission fee. (Hey, the five bucks are for the show, not my book marks--those are free).

What's the movie about? It's about Santa versus Satan. If you want details, you'll probably have a better time reading them at MOBS's website than listening to me yap on about, what's said to be, one of the worst holiday movies ever (though I didn't think it was). Now if you do like listening to me yap on about such movies, then go to my review of it from last year's Crappy Christmas screening series. Or you can just wait until I talk about it in an upcoming article of mine on strange holiday movies, but I can't guarentee you it will be out on Examiner.com before the movie tomorrow.

Until next time and . . .

Happy Hallow-days, everybody!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Rain Men, Gibsonian Constructs, and Books on a Rainy December Night

Warning: This post may contain content considered obscene by some viewers.

Sorry for ditching the blog for the last three weeks. The holidays really keep a person busy as I'm sure most of you know. Hopefully that won't be the case anymore until Christmas, but even then I'll try to post each weekend through the end of the year.

A beautiful rainy Saturday, and I don't say it with sarcasm because I love the rain at this time of the year. For those of you used to white Christmases, I can't say I love the snow at this time of year since we don't get any here in Sacramento (except for Grass Valley maybe or somewhere around there, but I'm not even sure if they get that much snow).  So what do we Sacramentans do during this time of year when people elsewhere are making snow men? Simple. We make rain men. Don't ask me how, we just do it. Okay, so we don't make rain men (or rain women); at least nobody I know does.  Nevertheless, it's more the holiday season to me when it rains like it is now, with the wind howling and hissing and the chimes making mystifying music. Or when there's fog, but that can be pretty damn dangerous because it obscures one's view, so I don't prefer it. 

Speaking of rain men, I'm working my way to the end of China Mieville's super thick novel, Perdido Street Station, which in several scenes there are frog-like beings who make something like tiny rain men/women, in that they make them out of water and, if I remember correctly, I think they can bring them to life like Faust does with his homunculus in a bottle. You're probably wondering how can I forget when I'm reading the book. As I said, the book is damn, thick. It's 500-plus pages. Perhaps it shouldn't be too surprising because it's a steampunk novel in which the subgenre of steampunk has been heavily influenced by Victorian literature such as Charles Dickens' novels. And so, believe it or not, people, I've been on that book for at least the past year if not longer. Not to mention that I'm a relatively slow reader and that's not the only book I'm reading. Some people have been somewhat shocked that I read more than one book at a time. I say to those people, "Come on, now! I'm a writer. We writers have to read more than just one book at a time unless, like some people, we can read at a rapid pace and so read several whole books a week.  I often don't have the patience to read just one long book before beginning another. I need variety.  No matter how good the book is, I will get bored and lose focus if I'm reading a single book for too long.

What else am I reading?  Here's a list:

  • Witchcraft by Charles Alva Hoyt. It's a historical account of the witch craze from Medieval Europe through early American settlement, namely the Salem witch trials.
  • Ecotopia, by Ernest Callenbach. That's a good one, but many people may find it boring as a science fiction novel because, for one reason, most of the science fiction in it is now science fact. For another reason, because it is a news reporter's account of a, what was future, ecological based utopia of the 1990s it reads like a National Geographic article.
  • Witches, an anthology of fiction about witches edited by Isaac Asimov and from his Worlds of Fantasy series of books.
  • The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart, an Arthurian novel about the life of Merlin narrated by the legendary magician himself.
  • The Queen of Darkness, by Miguel Conner, which is set in a postapocalyptic Earth where vampires are at the top of the food chain and human mortals are their livestock.
  • Man and His Symbols, an anthology of long but intriguing articles on the psychology of myth, edited by no other than Carl Jung. It includes his own article that opens the book.
How about yourself? What are you reading at the time? Please feel free to share your comments in the box below. It's nice and snug for both dead and living authors' titles!

Speaking about reading, I just saw the 1975 film adaptation of Harlan Ellison's novella, A Boy and His Dog. I had to view it for a review I was writing which you can read at Examiner.com. The review is actually part of an article announcing a screening of the film that occurred here in Sac last Thursday. So even though the announcement portion is outdated, you may find the review portion helpful. The movie isn't bad and has several great scenes in it. Being a die-hard Harlan Ellison fan, I have to confess that I haven't read the book yet but will be sure to.

And while we're on the subject of science fiction in particular, do any of you believe we have reached the fullfillment of William Gibson's "prophecy", if you will, of a cyberpunk society?  Did you hear about the "Human Barbie Doll" that was so hot of an issue last month? There had been a debate about whether she really existed or if she was a digital construct. I discuss this in relation to cyberpunk in my most recent article  at Examiner.com as well. So please feel free to take a look at it.

If you don't have enough books to read at this time, hopefully the two above articles will give you enough to read for now and . . .

Until next time . . .



A neo surreal painting by George Grie.
Credit: George Grie/Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Titling Stories and Pages

I've been working on a Facebook page that will be devoted to my fiction, articles and the artwork relating to the two. An example of this last one is my cover illustration for my book of short stories, which I'm still working on slowly but surely. There have  been so many other writing projects that I've had to take care of as higher priorties due to financial reasons.

Posting content on one's own FB page isn't a problem. A problem is selecting a title and user name for the page. I was jotting down possible names for at least an hour last night trying to figure out which would best represent the page and its host. Strangely, I don't have that problem titling stories whether fiction or non fiction. Maybe I know my stories better than I know myself. And they say space is the final frontier! Ha! I sometimes think it's we humans ourselves that are. Just look at what we've invented and created in technology and art since the dawn of time and at what we're still continuing to invent and create. Thirty years ago the average person never would have thought that we could communicate in numerous ways by one simple looking handheld device! And now there's technologists who are coming up with ways for hendheld computers to bring up information and images based on the immediate environment the user is in!

Can anybody believe that George Lucas has sold his Star Wars franchise along with the rest of his company to Disney? It makes sense in a way since he had already allowed Disney the rights to use Star Wars for the Star Tours attraction. But Lucas, who has always been so set on doing his Star Wars movies in his way, selling it to Disney? Personally, I haven't seen Disney keeping very faithful to its founder, Walt Disney himself, in many of its productions (though there are some that they make that do reflect Walt Disney's style, more or less, but they've seem to be more rare since the mid '80s).  If you want more thoughts on this big move with Lucasfilm, please take a look at my article at Examiner.com.

I'll be sure to let you know here when my Facebook page is up. (I'm hoping that will be within the next week.)

Until next time . . .

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hallow-day Decorating

Since this is Halloween, I thought I would post some photos of my Hallow-day decorating that I  finished just this past Saturday (partly the reason this post is so late) in and outside the house. I especially dead-icated the day to working on the Disney Haunted Mansion scene. So I hope you enjoy the photos. Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments coffin below.

(Sorry, this photo that would normally be here has been moved for reasons of copyright.) 
Disney Haunted Mansion scene with just a few members of the Jack Skellington gang (including Dr. Finklestein's labouratory skull).
 My own work.

 In case you can't read the guy's jacket on the right: He is a teenage vampire ("Eye am a Teenage Vampire"). Yes, an image of an (evil) eye is used to substitute "I".







. . . and again, but perhaps only with just a little less tape showing. 
Until next time . . . and . . .
Happy Halloween, every body!
Photo credits: Steven Rose, Jr.
The Haunted Mansion is the registerd trademark of the Disney Company.
The Nightmare Before Christmas story and characters are copyright of Tim Burton/Disney.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

On "The Walking Dead"

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons



There's a lot of hype right now about AMC's "The Walking Dead". As much as I like zombies, I saw my very first episode only today, believe it or not, which was the first episode of the new season. You can watch it right now here but I suggest you do it now since it's only streaming on AMC's website for a limited time and that could be until midnight tonight for all we know. So if you do, come back here after it's done and let me know what you think in the comments box. As for myself, it really didn't impress me. Now I won't get cocky about it thinking I know the whole series because I've only seen one episode. When I saw it I didn't see much difference in "Night of the Living Dead", the mother of all zombie movies as we know them today. Nor did it seem much different than any of the "Living Dead" knock offs. Okay, it's post-apocalyptic, which almost all of today's zombie storylines are. "Night of the Living Dead" was apocalyptic and so takes place at the beginning of the zombie outbreak. But then the British film "28 Days Later" was also post-apocalyptic.

Now, at least from what I saw from the summary on the show's website the twist to the entire storyline is that the zombie outbreak causes people to question whether the living aren't much less zombie than the walking dead. It's just that I didn't see that idea coming into play in Season 3's premiere episode. I didn't see any indication of connection to that idea either. Now I can't say that none of the episodes of the first two seasons did not play out that idea since I haven't seen any of them, but I assume at least some of them did. I'll have to watch the first season.

The episode I watched today struck me as made simply to make an audience wonder how many zombies an individual character will slay. The suspense scenes were pretty old such as showing the zombie hunters searching through the blacked out penitentiary not knowing where a zombie might jump out from. When one would jump out it was too easy for the viewer to see it coming before hand.

Now as far as plot goes, the best part I thought was the one that took the biggest twist. The pregnant mom is talking with the old man about her concern for her child turning out to have been infected by the zombie plague. That's the only part that made me want to speculate and sympathize with any of the characters which, at least in this episode, I couldn't do with any of them because their development didn't show enough.

The show is based on an Image comic book. I've only thumbed through a few issues and some looked okay, but I can't say a whole lot since I haven't actually read any of them. But no kidding, zombies are hot right now probably even hotter than vampires (feel free to correct me, vampire fans, if I'm wrong) and so I've made sure not to miss the zombie craze. That's why back in the summer I picked up a copy of a graphic novel of another zombie series, "i Zombie: Dead to the World". It's by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred, published by Vertigo. It's from the "i Zombie" monthly comic book series. Michael Allred does some really great art in it like he did in his "Mad Man" series which had a kind of "I Was a Teenage Frankenstein" super hero storyline. He has a four-colour, '60s retro style in his work, yet Roberson gives a trendy plot. The plot: a female zombie must eat the brains of recently deceased humans in order to avoid rotting and to keep her human consciousness. Along with this, the brains she eats enable her to see the past thoughts of the people they once belonged to. In this graphic novel in particular she witnesses a murder through one of these thoughts and she and her fellow monster friends, a were-terrier and a ghost from the '60s, must track down the murderer. Both the series' storyline and the book's are really good and take twists on the zombie story like no other zombie story has before.

If you like zombies like I do and if you purchase my book, "The Fool's Illusion", when it comes out (hopefully end of next month), you'll get a couple of zombie-like stories in there. I say "zombie-like" because some of the undead in these stories are not quite zombies but are closer to ghouls since, unlike zombies, they have consciences. But that can be debatable perhaps. Let me know what you think defines a zombie if you'd like. I'm always interested in your comments.

Until next time, take scare.


Follow me on Twitter: @Starosep2

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Book Marks and Pop Art

Photo Credit: SacGeeks.com


I said two weeks ago that I would have more about my book and Disneyland last weekend. I apologise for missing last weekend. It was a really crazy Saturday last weekend. I tried making it out to Sacramento's annual horror convention but the bus route I was supposed to take was held back by road construction that they just had to pick do at that time (or close enough to it). And this week's been busy because I've found myself having to take on more writing projects than most other times.

A little about my book though: I'm in the process of colouring the cover illustration. I had meant to make some book marks based on it to distribute at last week's con but wasn't able to get past the designing of it on the computer. I'm only a modest computer geek, so it takes me some time to figure out the software to do these things. I plan to have the book marks done before next weekend though because that's when I need them for another event.

If you're in Sacramento next Saturday, October 13, I suggest you check out the art show in downtown called "The Best of Geeky Sacramento Comic Book & Pop Art Showcase" at The Urban Hive, 1931 H Street in Sacramento, CA 95811. It's from 4 to 9 p.m. I'm planning to have my book marks there but if you're too far from Sacramento please don't come out there just for that. Like I said, I'm only a modest software geek and so I can't be sure that I will have these book marks out by then but I am aiming for that date. But the show will have some of the best comic book and imaginative art on display not just in Sacramento but, at least in my opinion, the world.

Did anybody celebrate the first annual Star Wars Reads Day? If you didn't know about it you can read about it in my article at Examiner.com. And this month is also National Book Month as you may have known. Any of you every thought about joining a live book club (though some dead ones can be fun too!)? Well this article may give you an idea about how to get in touch with one starting with your computer.

I'll have more for you next week.

Until then . . .

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Back from the Fairy Land

Okay, I lied. I had said I would return to posting two weeks ago (or was it more?) and haven't until now. It's been a very busy couple of weeks. I've been getting promotional materials ready for The Fool's Illusion and will be even busier yet this upcoming week doing that. If you keep checking back here each weekend you may get a free book mark of my new collection of short fiction!

Besides working on promotions for my collection, I took a trip to the far out "fairy land", Disneyland to put it more popularly. I went to both amusement parks on the Disney Resort in Anaheim--the original Disneyland, and Disney's California Adventure--with my parents, brother and his family and had a blast! So I was away from my quarters for a week and just got back earlier this evening. I'll tell you more about it later.

If you're in the Sacramento area, next weekend is Sacramento's annual horror convention, Miss Misery's Days of Terror, at the Scottish Rite Center accross the street from Sacramento State University. There's going to be a lot of great things going on there, including guest speakers,  panelists and vendors. It's a great way to open up the Halloween season! If you attend, look for my book marks on the information table that they usually keep up front. Check out the details of the con here.

I'll have more for you about my book and about Disneyland/California Adventure next week.

Until then . . .

Sunday, September 2, 2012

All About Next Week . . . and Some Week

Been very busy this week and exhausted so I'm not posting much this time.  I'll be back next week with more, possibly with a movie review. I saw, for the first time, The Avengers today (Saturday)! As you may have known, it re-released on the big screen for the Labor Day weekend. So if you haven't seen it yet and you like super heroes, especially Marvel's, I strongly suggest you see it.  I'm not sure how much longer it's going to play on the big screen (probably not much longer). So if I have a review next week it will most likely be on that. If I don't have a review next week . . . well, I'll have a review some week for sure but will definitely have something really neat for you here at the Fantastic Site next week! 

You can follow me at https://twitter.com/Starosep2 if you like.  I get on there at least once or twice a week. Sometimes more. I also put a couple of share buttons in the right-hand column here, so you can't say it's too inconvenient to share my posts with your friends if you're on Twitter or Facebook. So share! Please!

Until next time . . .

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Tarzan: 100 Years

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
 
 
I thought I was going to have an article at Examiner.com on the Centennial of Tarzan about a week from this Monday. It’s actually going to be a little earlier than that. Even though the downtown library in Sacramento originally scheduled the centennial event for Labor Day weekend they moved it to this weekend instead. This was apparently due to a recent decision to close the library for the entire Labor Day weekend due to lack of funds and so having to furlough the staff for that weekend.  Well, at least it gives the library staff a weekend off which they definitely deserve (aside from not being paid). Where would this country be without our public librarians and their supporting staff? Literacy would be a much more elitist activity, now wouldn’t it? So maybe library work isn’t laborious work (at least not for the librarians) but it’s still a lot of work with a lot of complications and they don’t get praised or appreciated enough for it, at least not openly. So maybe we should call for a holiday just for them. That’s just a suggestion for you guys and gals out there to think over and plan if you think it’s a good thing; I’m not leading any petition or such movement. I’m not that political (I hardly am to begin with, but that’s an entirely different subject that I’m not going to get into here.)

 

So the Tarzan Centennial has been going this weekend at Sacramento Central Library. It’s a two day event, and so started today (August 25) and continues through tomorrow (Sunday). Think of it as a mini pop culture con only it’s all Tarzan, with supplements of other works by Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs--including the Mars novels that were initiated by A Princess of Mars and ended with John Carter of Mars which the Disney movie adaptation of released in theatres last spring and more recently on DVD/BluRay. In fact, I just rented it today before heading for the centennial. I’m going to watch it for the first time tonight since I’m doing an article about the best sci fi movies set on Mars and so need to see if it’s worthy of including in the article.

 

Now I know a lot of you are probably shaking your heads warning me not to include John Carter on the list, perhaps not even to waste my time watching it. Well, if I waste my time watching it at least I won’t be wasting the buck-20 that I paid to rent it from the Redbox at the Raley’s near my humble wooded abode here in the Woodland of No Return. But here’s the other reason I’m still going to watch it: it may had done crappy at the box office and so maybe the blockbuster majority wasn’t impressed by it, but some of us film viewers are not the blockbuster majority. And so we go by our own standards of what makes a good movie as opposed to Hollywood CEOs’ standards. Therefore I’m giving this movie a chance like I do with all movies that appeal to me in their trailers. If you don’t see Disney’s John Carter listed in “The Best Movies Set On Mars” (tentative title at the moment) at Examiner.com next week then you’ll know I thought it sucked. Or at least thought it sucked enough not to be included on the list.

 

Oh, the Centennial.  Like I said, it was today and continues tomorrow.  There’s been a lot of great talks there on everything from Tarzan as modern mythology and the Tarzan books (of course) to the films of Tarzan.  Tomorrow it continues with talks on the comic book adaptations of Tarzan and female characters in the Tarzan novels, great talks by authors and pop culture historians, including historians from big name E.R. Burroughs organizations such as the Burroughs Bibliophiles. There are Tarzan collectible exhibits on display and even a guided tour for them.

 

If you’re in the area and whether you’re a Tarzan/E.R. Burroughs fan or just a pop culture fan in general, I strongly suggest you stop by and check out the centennial celebration. It starts at noon tomorrow and goes to about 4:30 p.m. Here’s a link to an article of mine that gives more information on the event. I’ll have an article dedicated to it at Examiner.com within the next week. If you’re not in the Sacramento area then do a Google search for “Tarzan Centennial” and type in the name of the closest major city to you and you may be able to find an event going on in your area.

 

Until next time . . .

Sunday, August 12, 2012

On Atom Punk

1958 paperback edition of a Ray Cummings sci fi novel
Photo Credit: Amazon/Ace Books




There's been a heat wave here in the Sacramento valley for the last two days. It reached 104 degrees today is what I understand. I know that's nothing compared to other regions in the nation and throughout the world, but if you're a native of this part (like me) you would think the sun is moving closer to the earth at rapid speed! Kind of like in the 1951 movie When Worlds Collide. Which brings me to my discussion here.

For the past week I've been working on a new short story of mine that's supposed to be an atom punk story. A lot of you probably don't know what atom punk is. It's just another -punkism of science fiction that derived from cyberpunk like steam punk did, only instead of cyber futures and alternative steam powered futures, it deals with alternative futures based on the 1950s/'60s anticipation of future society. Examples would be similar to what you would see in the cover illustrations of sci fi pulp novels and magazines of the '50s: cities of glass tube towers and bullet shaped rockets. As far as anything made today goes, the sci fi web series Mercury Men is a good example of atom punk. It's really good. Unfortunately I haven't had the chance to finish the whole series of what has been produced to date. To add to the atom punk style, it was deliberately filmed in black and white yet with a good balance of today's special effects. It's reminiscent of 1950s sci fi TV but also1930s and '40s movie serials (e.g. Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers).

An example of a full length atom punk film is Matt Mercury [http://www.mattmercury.com/] that's supposed to be releasing either in theatres or on streaming television. It's an indie film and so there hasn't been a whole lot of talk on it, but based on what I've read it seems to have promise. You may want to check the movie's official web site periodically for updates.

Examples of atom punk literature? Unfortunately there's really not a whole lot out there, and the little there is is very obscure. They say that William Gibson's short story "The Gernsback Continuum" is a good example, but in my opinion it only comes close. The alternative future in that story is based more on the 1930s perception of future society which gets more closer to the art deco style of that time, though the '50s did inherit a lot of art deco elements. It's a great story, but it may be more correctly classified as diesel punk. What kind of punkism is that? The movie Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is a good example. Diesel punk involves alternative futures based more on World War II era air crafts more than on space crafts.
But here's an author's website, Philip Reeve's, who is not only very knowledgeable of atom punk but is also one of those few authors (besides mwa) who is coming out with a story in the sub-genre, particularly a series of novels for young adults. But don't make the mistake of thinking only teens and pre-teens will get enjoyment out of this series. Look at what happened with Harry Potter in the fantasy genre!

The story I'm working on I consider to be atom punk. However, probably the only overt element of that sub-genre in this story is a vacuum tube that a person's holographic image is stored in. But I am in the process of putting in predominantly transparent glass architecture scenes so maybe that will give it a more atom punk flavour. I'll let you know what happens next time. You're probably wondering why I want to put my story in an atom punk setting. I'll go over that next time too. Now you have an even better reason to come back here next week! So . . .

Until then . . .

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Movie Review: "The Dark Knight Rises"

Well, here's that "Special Edition" post I said I would have for you last time: my review of  The Dark Knight Rises. See, I always keep my word. It may be delayed a little bit, but I keep it.




Photo Credit: IMDB.com/Warner Bros.



Finally we’ve come to an end of another Batman saga of movies. Supposedly. The movie does play in such a way that sets up the possibility of a fourth film. But even if no fourth film comes along, The Dark Knight Rises still does a great job of concluding director Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy.  



Dark Knight Rises carries on well its consistent realism of the previous two movies. Two elements it does this best with is the plot and characterization. Bruce Wayne has been hiding out since his friend’s, District Attorney Harvey Dent’s, death eight years ago which is the time lapse in setting since the events of the previous film.  Feeling guilty about Dent’s death, Wayne has abandoned both his role as socialite and Batman. But after Alfred, his butler since childhood, encourages him to return to his role of CEO of Wayne Enterprise and as Gotham’s philanthropist, Bruce Wayne soon feels the need to turn back to his role of city protector too. And so once again he takes up the Dark Knight’s “armour”.



What provokes him to do the latter? Two criminals are causing havoc on Gotham at a level that has not been so high since the Joker’s threat in the previous movie: Cat Woman (in this movie, known by her real name of Salina Kyle, and just as the “Cat” in Gotham news headlines), and, worse yet, Bane--a monstrous super powered muscle man and leader of a literal underground terrorist organization. Anne Hathaway plays Cat Woman/Kyle good and with believability but her character is secondary to Bane’s, despite the fact she has been the longer time Batman villain and the more popular one at that. Therefore Bane is the real threat to Gotham even though the Cat Woman assists him and even manipulates him and his gang of terrorists at one point.



Cat Woman’s gang? It only consists of one girl: a teenage delinquent who is Kyle’s mentee in crime, who does not overplay her role. To have done so may have added too much humour and/or campiness to the movie and after what happened with Joel Schumacher’s Batman and Robin in 1997, we definitely would not want that to happen now would we? As in the comic books, Kyle is both a cat burglar/jewel thief as well as Batman’s infatuated admirer/enemy in one. But Bane, along with his terrorists, is the real threat to Gotham. He steals a nuclear device made supposedly for environmental protection but has it turned into a bomb setting it to literally blow the whole city to rubble.



Because Kyle’s villainous role is secondary to Bane’s, her character is no where as well developed as his. We hear that her excuse for crime is poverty but her background story stops there. Her costume matches the realism of the movies: a black body suit and a pair of goggles that merely suggests a pair of feline ears and so is much more inconspicuous than her costume in the comic books. But such suggestiveness is useful in that it reminds us we are watching a movie based on a comic book superhero.



Bane’s character, played by Tom Hardy, is much more developed than Kyle’s. As evil and destructive as he is, we can feel some sympathy for him since his excuse for crime is much more complex. He was born and raised most of his childhood in one of the world’s worst dungeons located in the Middle East. It is this experience that drives his evil ambitions.



A small exception to Bane’s character is that, in spite of the overall movie’s realism, it gets a little typical in its villainy and so may seem to some a little out of place with the trilogy. This is particularly due to the way Hardy performs the role, as great as his acting is. Many fans of the trilogy would probably find this a problem and perhaps that’s why other critics say this film didn’t do as good as expected. But being a big fan of the four colour comic book, I personally don’t see it as a flaw and so feel it adds to the comic book flavor without detracting in any major way from the realism of Nolan’s style.



As with the first two films, Dark Knight Rises goes deeply into Bruce Wayne’s/Batman’s character. In doing so it further develops his character. Wayne’s true character shows up more after he is captured by Bane and forced to suffer a fate similar to the one that led Bane to his present state. This is a test of endurance that Wayne/Batman must not only get through to save himself but to save all of Gotham as well whose citizens Bane has brainwashed with a false promise of liberation from social injustice.  This endurance shows Wayne’s/Batman’s self sacrificial values for humanity. Christian Bale carries out these characteristics in his role as the Dark Knight just as great, if not better than, in the previous two films.



The characterization moves the story along good enough and the plot holds together well. Part of this is due to the well utilized themes of falling and rising/redemption. Not only does Batman continuously fall and rise in his turmoil but so does Gotham even if more gradually, in both its social and even physical structures. The action also moves the story along well and so doesn’t obscure narrative elements, yet is enough to keep the audience intrigued and definitely from falling asleep.  Like the first two installments of the series, the special effects are also done good and so make Batman’s world believable. Also, the suspense and irony are sufficiently balanced from beginning to end.



It’s actually irony that sets up the movie at the end for the possibility of a fourth film. In this irony is a reference to another Batman character that I won’t give away here, even though such reference may only be symbolic. Because of the manner of the film’s suggestion of the possibility of another sequel, a fourth film would take too different of an approach on the Batman character (somewhat like the comic book has done at times), and so hopefully Nolan will go on with his decision not to do anymore Batman movies. It would be better to see someone else’s cinematic interpretation of the Dark Knight starting from scratch.



Because The Dark Knight Rises holds out so well like Nolan’s two other Batman films, and because it is set up as a conclusion to the trilogy, adding another installment that will do just as good would be very hard, nearly impossible if not. Although it does suggest the possibility of such an installment, this shouldn’t contradict the movie’s conclusiveness of the trilogy. Comic book super heroes’ stories, like those of all great mythic heroes, often are open ended to some extent since they are episodic.  


Until next time (our regular time slot and same blogman channel) . . .


Sunday, August 5, 2012

On Book Covers and World-building

I said last week I would have a review of The Dark Knight Rises by this weekend. I was actually in the middle of writing it, but got a little worn out. I haven't really been feeling my greatest today. I have that feeling of a head cold but we're smack in the middle of summer and so I'm going to be a little stubborn and say that it can't be a cold though colds can come up at this time of year. So I'm just assuming it's alergies. For this reason, I'm keeping this post short but will have the review for you by early next week, hopefully Monday. I know, it's not my usual time to post but we can call that one a "Special Edition".

I'm working out a bunch of technical elements with my cover for my book of short fiction and so haven't really been working on the illustration (the final sketch itself) lately. I'm shooting for next week to start work on that. There's so many implications that come with creating one's own book cover that most people don't think about, such as deciding on a trim size and the coresponding size of the illustration. You can't make a 5" x 6" cover for an illustration that was meant for a smaller or larger cover. Not that either in my case are those sizes, this is just an example.

Then I'm working on two short stories, one that I'm debating whether to include in the collection. Maybe I'll post it here in the next week or two for you to read and then let you guys take a vote on whether it should be included or not. The other story will probably not be used in the collection although it can since it does have to do with the theme of illusion/misconception but it is too complex and so I probably won't have it revised in time. I'm at the world-building level of that story, a level I thought I was already finished with until I discovered that one of my characters would be better off as an alien. So I had to add to the world building, particularly her home/ancestral world. Talk about complexity!

Until next time (the "Special Edition" posting) . . .

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Saturday of Batman, Bane and Olympic Scary, Fairy Tale Dreams


(Photo removed for reasons of copyright.)
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons


I just got back from seeing The Dark Knight Rises. It was awesome! I'll admit that I liked the first and second of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy better, especially when I prefer the Joker much more over Bane since he's Batman's arch enemy and the most grotesquely psychotic of the Batman villains. Even so, out of all three of the movies, I like Batman Begins (the first in the trilogy) best simply because I'm one that believe's no sequel or remake can beat it's original (with very few exceptions). But Dark Knight Rises was good. It went further into Bruce Wayne's character and his interaction with the other characters, including Alfred the butler, Salina Kyle/the Cat Woman, and Commissioner Gordon. And Bane's character was chilling especially with that mouth mask that he wears which looks like a pair of an alien monster's jaws but is really an oxygen mask of some sort.

I was never really into the Batman  comic books that featured Bane since they came after 1985 sometime. (I can't remember the exact year or decade Bane made his first appearance). I wasn't as impressed with the post 1983  Batman comics as I was with the ones before that, especially of the '70s when Batman's character returned to its dark appearance with darker stories after being eclipsed by the campy craze that the preceding decade's TV series brought on. Not that the post 1983 Batman storylines weren't dark; they most definitely were dark. It's just that for me the Batman storyline headed too much in a different direction than the storline of the earlier decades. Post 1983 Batman stories turn Robin into Nightwing, bring in a new kid to take up the Robin role, and Batman becomes too romantic with the Cat Woman/Salina Kyle and so she loses her villainous appeal. But I have to admit, I did like Bane with that Mexican wrestler's mask with the huge red eyes in the comics; it was very menacing looking adding to Bane's destructive and evil appearance. But the mask he wear's in this movie definitely makes up for the one in the comics.

I'll do a review of the movie either during the upcoming week at Examiner.com or next weekend here. Right now it's nearly the witching hour and though I normally don't go to bed until way later (too much later, actually) tonight I have to turn into the coffin earlier because I have to be up early for a planning meeting for a sci fi/fantasy convention that comes to Sacramento a year from now: WesterCon 66, the West coast region's annual convention and I'm proud to say it will be held in my home area next year! Right on!

I still have to squeese in tonight some highlights of the Olympic opening ceremonies that I taped that I didn't get a chance to see last night because a writer's and artist's work is never done. I'm not a big sports fan, but the Olympics is one of the few sporting events I'll watch, Summer and Winter. And I especially like the opening ceremonies because all the nations' teams come together and bring all kinds of diversity to the spectators. I especially like the ceremonies because of the dramatic performances that depict the host nation's culture and history, including their folklore and mythology in which England did very well with these performances. One that I saw on NBC's website was a kind of fairy tale dream a little girl has which first starts off as a nightmare with black cloaked spirits and a giant evil sorcerer then ends with Mary Poppins, several Mary Poppins that is. You can see it at the link below. I was so impressed.

I'll leave you with that. Until next time . . .

(Photo removed for reasons of copyright.)
A convention attendee dressed as Bane from the Batman comic books, at WonderCon 2012.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons


http://www.nbcolympics.com/video/2012/opening-ceremony-olympic-bedtime-story.html

Sunday, July 22, 2012

'The Dark Knight' to Blame for the Aurora Shootings?

As we all know, the premiere night (early Friday morning) of The Dark Knight Rises really was a dark night for an auditorium of movie viewers in Aurora, Colorado. My sympathies go out to the victims, including the wounded, and their families of the attack.

Many headlines have been indicating the shootings as movie fantasy having become horrid reality. Sadly, those headlines are true. Along with this, there have been fears of people wanting to blame movies with violence such as "Dark Knight Rises" for these killings. But the majority of media hasn't even been likening the gunman to the star character of Christopher Nolan's third and supposedly final installment of his Batman movie series.The media's been likening the shooter to the Joker of the previous film. Batman has never even used a gun, perhaps save once or twice in all his crime fighting career. He has been known to prefer fighting without fire arms. Batman is a symbol of justice, though in a very grim way and even though he appears to be on edge of his own sanity when fighting crime, he always holds back and brings the criminal to the justice that is fit. Perhaps the concern with Christopher Nolan's Batman movies leading to these shootings has more to do with the villains. But we can't forget that it's a hero that thwarts the evil deeds of those villains. Heroes are the mythic characters who represent hope in a violent and corrupt world.

Nobody has recently explained the mythic role of Batman better than NPR's Glen Weldon in his article "Catharsis In a Cape: On Comic-book Hereoes and Real-World Violence". I suggest you read it. You can also read my article at Examiner.com that speaks about the role of fantasy in life. I wrote it in response to the Aurora tragedy.

Until next time . . . 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Friday the Thirteenth and 'War of the Worlds'

Photo Credit: Thayne Multimedia Productions/Wikimedia Commons


It looks like a lot of you liked my final concept sketch for my book cover. Thanks, all of you who left me those great compliments/Facebook Likes. Now that I've finished the final concept sketch, my next step is to make the final drawing, complete in full colour and detail. I really want to get this book out and available to you. There may even be a contest where you can win a free book cover promotion poster for The Fool's Illusion! So stay tuned!

If you're in the Sacramento area, then I suggest you take a look at my "This Weekend" schedule of sci fi/fantasy events going on in the area this weekend of the 13th to the 15th.  Speaking about the 13th, "Are you superstitious" as Stevie Wonder sings in his famous song? I'm not superstitious, but this past Friday the 13th wasn't a very good day for me. And 13 is my lucky number! (Yeah, right. I just said I'm not superstitious, didn't I? Duh!) Okay, it's just a very nice number to me. Nice because it's so infused with so many mythic elements, which are used in horror and other types of fantasy a lot, and being a writer of horror I have to like it and so do. How did the so called curse of Friday the 13th get me? I had to screw around with a lot of technical issues with my computer at home (but they're taken care of now).

About a week ago, I saw a really great "War of the Worlds" film. No, it was not Steven Speilberg's; it was not even the 1950s original (though I always go for the original with almost any movie first and foremost). It was one that was made by two great indie filmmakers who I had a great time talking with after the screening (which they presented live) at the Crest Theatre last Saturday. You can read about this out-of-this-world flick in my new Examiner.com movie review!



Well, that's it for this week! Until next time . . .

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Completed Concept Sketch for "Fool's Illusion" Book Cover

Here's my final concept sketch of the cover illustration for The Fool's Illusion with the lettering. Thanks to those people who gave me their feedback so far, much of it very positive (including Facebook likes). Feel free to give me feedback on this finished version in the comments box below. Again, never mind the Linux Penguin in the background, that's Larry Ewing's that accidently got in there. (Please see last week's post.)



I'm aware of the title coming too close to the right edge. I will center it correctly on the final drawing, of course. I may move the byline (my name) closer to the title since it appears to be too isolated from it. Because the title looks to be drowned out a little by the illustration, I may enlarge it or may move it closer to the illustration. Again, please feel free to let me know what you think in the comments box. Please include any of your own personal suggestions you may have. It doesn't mean I'll use them, but I would definitely consider them and they would be greatly appreciated.  
Photo Credit: Steven Rose, Jr. (Linux penguin credited to Larry Ewing, put in there by mistake but no fault of his own.)

Until next time . . .

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Concept Sketch for "Fool's Illusion" Book Cover

Here's my concept sketch for my upcoming fiction collection, The Fool's Illusion, that I promised you centuries ago. It's only the illustration itself; I have not put the lettering in yet. I plan to have the lettering in by next weekend. You can see the title in its font, "Twisted Roman", by itself by clicking here. Let me know what you think of the illustration (or the font, or both) by leaving your comments in the comments box.

Until next time . . .





The Fool/magician will be coloured black and white (especially his costume) and the background will be solid black. I'm trying to give the surreal effect of a magic show (gone wrong?) performing in an eternal black space. The spotlights are to be the only signs of grounding (if any). The black background will be included behind the title and author's byline once the two are put in there. Never mind the penguin in the upper right hand corner. That's Larry Ewing's that got in there by mistake (see credit note below); he is in no way at fault for it.
Image Credit: Steven Rose, Jr. (Linux Penguin in upper right hand corner credited to Larry Ewing but Rose had no intention of putting it there so it is not part of the sketch. In other words, ignore it as far as looking at the sketch goes. The sketch was done on scratch paper  that happened to have Mr. Ewing's penguin on the back and therefore the penguin showed through the photo scan. So don't expect to see a penguin on the cover when The Fool's Illusion is released. Rose doesn't waste paper and so acknowledges that trees give their lives [or their lives are taken, if you prefer] for it.)


  


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Eulogy to My Maternal Grandmother


(Photo removed for reasons of copyright.)
A Mexican Tree of Life
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Alejandro Linares Garcia





June has been a month of deaths not just among great authors such as Ray Bradbury, but even in my own family. My grandmother on my mom's side passed away later during the week I posted my last article here. She was 89. It was sad but it was expected since she had been slowing down a lot for the last year and was bed ridden since the beginning of the year. So it has been a very busy last couple of weeks for me with the planning and contributing to the funerary events. That's why I have been off the blog for the last couple weeks. (By the way, that's why I decided to write this entry this evening, Monday, instead of my usual scheduled day of late Saturday night/early Sunday morning. I didn't want to go much longer than two weeks without posting. I don't like leaving my readers hanging in mid air.)

What did Ray Bradbury and my grandmother have in common? I would have to say it was story telling. My grandmother was not a writer, much less a writer of English. Even though she was born here in this country, she was raised most of her childhood in Mexico. When she came back she eventually picked up on English, broken but good enough to communicate the basics. And so even if she didn't speak clearly enough when she would tell us stories of her childhood and even more recent ones of her adulthood, many of them very funny which she herself would laugh at as we laughed along with her, she told them beautifully. She put the emotion into them, especially when she would immitate people's voices.  Emotion is a major element in almost all story telling, especially narrative. My grandmother wasn't the only great story teller in my family; there have been many others. But she was one of the ones who I believe influenced me to tell stories even if I tell them better in writing than I do in speech (and English is my first language, but, as far as story telling goes, I many times think I orally tell stories brokenly more than my grandmother spoke English brokenly!). And so I have that, among many other things, to thank her for.

I thought talking about my grandmother's story telling influence was fitting for the nature of this blog. But since this blog is also about art in general, and not necessarily just writing and story telling, I should also mention that she was a great artist. She was not so much a great artist in drawing or painting (her two oldest sons are the great ones in those) but in crocheting and, what I call, sculpting recyclable plastic, such as one gallon milk jugs, to fit what she crocheted over it. For example, she would sculpt a milk jug into the form of a swan which the crochet piece would fit over to complete.

My grandmother was a great singer as well. Most of her songs were in Spanish but I could still tell they were great by the very tone and melodies she would use. And, most of all, she was a great cook, especially of Mexican food. One of the things I looked forward to most whenever I went to her house when I was a kid was the great Mexican food she made, all from scratch. (Forget Taco Bell; don't even get me started on that!) She was always cooking and always serving what she cooked. Many times she wouldn't even asked you if you wanted to eat something; she would just make it and serve it to you. As far as her cooking goes, I think her greatest accomplishment had to be when she won the statewide menudo cook-off contest in Los Angeles in the mid 1980s. But my favourites were the tamales, which, as is traditional in Mexican culture, she would mostly make at Christmas but would also make at other times of the year. People would flee to her house from miles around just to buy her tamales at her and her second to oldest daughter's yard sales. If my grandmother had never married and had gone on to get a job cooking in a Mexican restaurant, I think she would've ended up becoming a Mexican gormet chef for critically acclaimed restaurants.

Perhaps I'm flattering based on my own biasness for my grandmother and her cooking, a biasness that comes from love. But I do know one thing: her cooking was gormet and critically acclaimed by us, her family. It was definitely critically acclaimed by me. I haven't tasted the genuine Mexican food yet that has beaten hers. And I don't think I ever will.

Is it just because I loved my grandmother that I'm saying this? Maybe. But love is also a major element in any art--whether fine art, literary art, culinary art, etc. And that's what gives art its spirit. My grandmother did precisely that. True art is made with love and it is received with love.

Rest en paz, Nana, y Dios te bendiga.

--Steven Arellano Rose, Jr.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

R.I.P. Ray Bradbury: A Very Sad Loss to Science Fiction/Fantasy

Photo Credit: Alan Light/Wikimedia Commons

It's been a sad week for many of us sci fi/fantasy fans since one of the greatest writers ever in the two genres passed away this past Tuesday--Ray Bradbury.

Ray Bradbury was one of the first science fiction writers who I seriously read. The very first novel by him that I purchased and read was The Martian Chronicles when I was a senior in high school. From then on I was hooked. I've read and collected nearly all his books of fiction and although I haven't read as much of his nonfiction books, the few that I did are totally awsome! Other fiction of his that I've read have been, Fahrenheit 451, the second book that I read, and The Toynbee Convector which I bought the summer immediately after my high school graduation and just before I entered my freshman year of college. Later I collected and read The October Country, a collection of his dark fiction, his dark fantasy novel Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Illustrated Man, I Sing the Body Electric, and many more that I still have stacked and/or buried away somewhere in my bedroom.  I doubt I'll ever get rid of any of them unless I can find older editions of some of them since I am a collector of vintage paperbacks and jacketed hard cover books because of their great art and the very eras it depicts. That is another thing Mr. Bradbury was in love with--the sci fi art of early pulp novels and magazines. 

However, Mr. Bradbury was not merely a science fiction/fantasy writer. To label him as such would under rate him way too much. Ray Bradbury was a great writer period. He could and did write in almost any genre of fiction though speculative fiction was his biggest. He also wrote mystery, romance, and romantic (as in highly metaphorical and sentimental, not necessarily as in love) stories and has done equally well in them.  His great poetic prose has transcended genre so much that his work is even required reading in the high schools.

I remember reading in my high school senior advanced English class one of his short stories adapted into the Martian Chronicles. It was about a horror expert who flees to Mars to make his own automated haunted house in a future where Earth has outlawed all things fantasy. Unfortunately, as much as many English teachers assigned their students to read his most famous novel, Fahrenheit 451--about a future society that illegalises books--none of my high school English courses selected that one for us to read. So I went out and purchased a copy and read it on my own. In reading it I discovered more than ever how dangerous censorship can be to both society and individuals.

I had the pleasure of meeting Ray Bradbury at CSU, Fresno in the '90s when he gave a presentation on his literary and artistic career. I was enchanted when I actually shook his pen-calloused hand just before he signed my copy of his Martian Chronicles at the book signing table. I had the pleasure of seeing him speak a second time during the 64th World Science Fiction Convention in Los Angeles during the summer of 2006, although that time I didn't get a chance to have him sign another copy of one of his books.  But I am so greatful that I spoke to him in person and had a book signed by him that first time.

One of the things I feared most in all my life is the day Ray Bradbury would die as all of us do sooner or later.  I knew when that would happen there would be no more new stories from him.  Sadly, that day has come.  But he'll always be with us when we read his work and talk about him as I am doing this very moment.  Also, I believe his spirit will echoe through us new generation of speculative fiction writers who were influenced by his work and his beliefs on art and creativity. I was definitely influenced.

Mr. Bradbury, we will miss you but will always remember you and continue reading your ingenious work. May you rest in peace.

--Steven Rose, Jr.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

This Is Not A Chainsaw

This is not a chainsaw. Can you turn it on?
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Pearson Scott Foresman



I was going to post a concept sketch of the cover illustration for my upcoming fiction collection, The Fool's Illusion, but had to look for a chainsaw online. No, I haven't taken up woodwork. Actually, I was only looking for an image of a chainsaw to sketch from because one of the characters on the cover is supposed to use one.  He hasn't taken up woodwork either.  I write horror, as many of you probably already know and so that should tell you enough what the character on the cover is using the chainsaw for. For now, anyway. You'll see the rest when I post the concept sketch next week and after I've mastered the art of drawing chainsaws within the art of drawing period.

Researching the details of a chainsaw for a story illustration reminded me of Stephen King's advice that he gives in his book, On Writing: research for a story is back story in which back story is just that, back story. It stays in the background. It shouldn't take over the story itself; it's there simply to make the story as a whole believable.

As a writer and artist I'm learning about a variety of subject matter all the time. And so I'm glad that I can do the research on a given topic, yet we artists and writers have to be careful not to turn our story into a term paper or our illustrations into technical drawings like seen in science textbooks (although most of those are done by computer graphics now). We don't write fiction or we don't make illustrations to show off our knowledge of what we researched. We write fiction and make illustrations to tell our stories in as convincing a manner as possible. And so we research to know how the chainsaw works and what it looks like in as much detail as possible so when we write about a character using it we'll know how to describe him/her using it. If we're drawing it in an illustration, we need to know how it works so we can show the person holding it correctly or, if he/she is a psychopath, believably. If we drew every damn detail, every damn bolt and screw and the most precise detail of every tooth on the blade, we're going to end up with a character holding a giant technical illustration of a chainsaw. Or maybe even worse: a photographic painting of a chainsaw with a comparatively sketchy background painting of the person who's supposed to be holding it.

If you are a writer or artist, just remember what the 20th century philosopher, Michel Foucault said about the artist Magritte's painting of a pipe: "This is not a pipe."

Until next time . . .

Sunday, May 27, 2012

What Makes Star Wars So Different From Other Space Epics?


(Photo removed due to copyright reasons.)
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons


Sorry about not checking in for the last two or three weeks.  There's been so much going on such as my parents visiting from Fresno and work at my day job. But I'm back on track so expect a post each week again.

Not only was this past Friday Geek Pride Day but it was also Towel Day for the ones who know Douglass Adams' satirical series of novels, The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. On top of that, it was the 35th anniversary of the first Star Wars film, A New Hope. Strangely enough to some, the movie wasn't even given that secondary title until several years later. I'll always know it as just Star Wars, though; it's just so '70s that way. I guess you can blame that one on my era-centricity as I like to call it. Or better yet, my '70s geekism. 

Anyway, Friday was a day that many Adams' fans wore towels. I wore one off and on (with my clothes on, that is) but can't really say I demonstrated my geekdom since I hadn't left the house all that day; I was stuck inside working on my Examiner.com article in commemoration of the anniversary of the first Star Wars movie. Well, it was sort of a commemoration. The article is actually a short history of the movies inspired by the first Star Wars movie during those years that George Lucas's blockbuster space epic sparked an entire craze. Not only did Star Wars fandom hit everywhere and nearly everyone (even non geeks it seemed), but movie directors and studios of that time felt they could make big money off of their own "Star Wars" films. These films are all too often called rip-offs, but have also been referred to as knock-offs. I prefer calling them inspired movies, in this case Star Wars-inspired. Maybe that's just a nice way of saying rip-off, but when you think about it art inspires art.

We can't forget that Star Wars itself wasn't born within a vacuum. It was inspired by movies before it such as old space epic movie serials like Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. But what makes a movie or story of any medium good is not always necessarily how new and unique it is but sometimes how new or unique it's told. George Lucas told his space epic setting it in a galaxy that has never come in contact with our own, an imaginary galaxy, hence the opening of each Star Wars film, "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away . . . " and so gave his epic a fairy tale flavor. It is a story that makes us forget that our own world exists transporting us to a totally different world (or more like worlds).

This more overt fairy tale, legendary quality to a science fiction (or space fantasy as many like to call it) film is probably one of the things that made Star Wars so unique. Before that, most science fiction was centered in our own reality and so was always about Earthlings in conflict with beings of other planets. Of course, we can't forget that on top of this quality were the special effects that were like no others anyone had seen since Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. But Space Odyssey was a more hard science fiction film, whereas Star Wars was made to where the science and technology and did not matter.  Therefore Star Wars was made to be a mostly fun, entertaining movie rather than one that speculated on a future science so much. Also, by the time Star Wars came out, the special effects were already advanced to a more noticeable degree.

A great article that I read earlier this afternoon was one by a fellow Examiner and is about the monsters in the Star Wars films. If there's anything I've liked most in Star Wars it's been the monsters such as the humanoid ones in the first movie's cantina scene, the robotic At-Ats in the second film, and the rancor in the third. Not to mention, the beasts in the arena of the second prequel, Attack of the Clones.

Are you wondering what the best sci fi/fantasy movies to see on the big screen this summer are? My Examiner article from earlier last week makes some suggestions, so please take a look at it.

I'll leave you with that for now.

Until next time . . .

Sunday, May 6, 2012

How a Mexican Geek Celebrates Cinco de Mayo on a Free Comic Book Day

     (Photo removed for copyright reasons.)

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons


This hasn’t been the best Cinco de Mayo or Free Comic Book Day for me.  I was supposed to attend a mini comic con at Empire Comics Vault in Sacramento but had to cancel all because a stupid glitch in the ATM at the bank in Woodland of No Return held me back.  So I drove over to the comic book store in Davis, Bizarro World, which is a lot closer to where I live. But I wasn’t able to get there until late in the afternoon so when I asked the owner, a really nice guy, if he had any free comics left he said he didn’t. That was both a good thing and a bad thing. It was a good thing because it drew a lot of people to read comic books who don’t often read them.  It was a bad thing in that some people didn’t get free comic books and yours truly was one of them. Actually, I didn’t even care that much. If I cared that much about the free comics I wouldn’t have planned to take an hour’s bus commute to Empire Comics; I would have just gone to Bizarro World to begin with. 



Empire Comics was the store that held the mini con that celebrated the day. (Free Comic Book Day that is, not Cinco de Mayo. But don’t think even us Mexican geeks don’t have a place in the Mexican holiday. More about that in a bit.) The real reason I go to Free Comic Book Day events is for the culture of it-- to be in an atmosphere of comic book fandom with fellow comic book fans who tend to be fans of other imaginative things too (for example, science fiction movies and literature, fantasy role playing games, horror, etc.) Such geeky culture is our culture that transcends race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, gender, and even politics in many ways.  (Although that last one does often overlap among us geeks, especially leftist ones such as myself.) It is a place for us to share our interests and passions and to converse without feeling like the person we’re talking with does not speak’a our language. In mainstream, non-geek culture you don’t feel that same bonding.



Now, many people might think that Free Comic Book Day falling on Cinco de Mayo is a contradiction. It’s not. Sure, two different events are being celebrated. But if you look at the two in a wider perspective, you’ll see the similarities. Comic book culture in Mexico and other parts of Latin America tend to be very big.  Traditionally, Mexico has had its own comic book characters like it has had many of its own B rated sci fi and fantasy movie characters.  One of these characters, who has been popular in the Mexican cinema, is El Santo. El Santo is a super hero-like masked wrestler who fights criminals who often tend to be fantastical villains such as aliens, Aztec mummies, zombies, vampires and even Frankenstein’s monster. Mexico and other parts of Latin America have a growing culture in science fiction and fantasy and this includes both A rated and B rated films. For a list of recommended Mexican sci fi/fantasy movies for viewing on Cinco de Mayo, or any time of the year for the matter, check out my most recent article at Examiner.com.



Watching Mexican sci fi and horror movies, no matter how high quality or low quality or cheesy they may be, is how this film geek celebrates his Cinco de Mayo. Not to mention eating--at his favourite Mexican restaurant, Chipotle’s--a super beef burrito with natural meat and vegetables instead of the processed crap you get in too many other places, including other Mexican restaurants. Don’t even get me started on Taco Bell.



Until next time . . .






Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Little More About Zombies . . .

Last time I talked a little about zombies. Well, this time I'm going to talk a little about zombies again, and I do mean only a little. Just a while ago I finally opened up my S.L.U.G. Zombie that I bought at Wal-greens a few weeks back. S.L.U.G. Zombies is a series of plastic zombie figures by Jakks Pacific in which each has a name and comes in a "Mystery Pack". So far there are eight different figures. The one I got was Brain Eatin' Brandon. I have a couple photos of it on my voodoo doll Pinterest board: one I call a "Teenage Zombie from Outer Space" and so depicted with a "flying saucer" and the other depicted standing next to its coffin.

I'm starting a small zombie figure collection, kind of inevitably. I'll try to provide photos or links to them of the other figures like I have this evening next time. I'll also try to have at least a concept sketch of the book cover illustration to my short fiction collection that will be releasing soon. I meant to post it here this evening but my day job and computer sci course didn't allow me to finish it in time.

Until next time . . .

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Great Zombie and Vampire Invasion

I hope you all got a chance to read my interview with Jeani Rector at Examiner.com.  It's a two part article where she talks about her career as both horror writer and editor of the online literary publication, The Horror Zine.  If you haven't had a chance to read it, please do so.  She's a really interesting woman with a lot of great insight and tips on writing horror and other areas of the dark fiction genre.

In that interview, Jeani advises aspiring writers to stay away from the zombie and vampire trends Perhaps they are just a little over used in horror. However, they've always played a big role in dark fiction especially in film but vampires have played more of a role in literature than zombies.  But zombies are appearing more in today's literature.  As far as vampires go, the peak in their popularity is due to the Twilight books and films (the books being much too over rated since they are said to be poorly written) having been so successful in sales. Because of that, there is now the series True Blood on television.  Speaking about television, Walking Dead has played a big part in making zombies more of a fad than ever. Walking Dead actually started out as a horror comic book several years ago. But because of the series the comic book industry has been infected by the zombie craze just as much as it has with the vampire one. 

I've never watched Walking Dead nor read any of the comics, but I've gotten started on a newer comic book series by Vertigo called iZombie, written by Chris Roberson and illustrated by Mike Allred. If there's one thing that series does that Walking Dead doesn't, it's bringing back the four color of '60s horror comics as well as drawing style and so is reminiscent of sci fi horror of that era. I'm very vintage and retrospect when it comes to speculative comic books and so for me iZombie is my "Walking Dead".  Yet this series isn't completely innocent. Its gore scenes and its violence gives it its suggestion for mature readers while, of what I've read so far, not going overboard with the two like many of today's fantasy and sci fi comics. The storyline has not been bad either. Its pre-apocalyptic setting (as of issues 1 through 16) and team of secret agent zombie fighters give it a twist.

We'll discuss the zombie/vampire craze more next time. But let me leave you with this: do you think zombies and vampires have recently been used in the horror genre?  Please feel free to leave your answers in the comments box and we can discuss those in the next post as well.

Until then, take scare!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Horror Hostess of Dark Literature

Horror author and editor, Jeani Rector
Photo Credit: Jeani Rector


Sorry I missed you people last week. I was a little more busy than usual it being the Easter weekend and all that.

Unfortunately I haven't gotten a chance to finish my cover for my short story collection. I'm just barely getting to the final concept sketch. I'll probably post that here by next week if I haven't finished the final product yet.

I have parts one and two of an interview out at Examiner.com with a really neat author from my home area of Sacramento, California. Her name is Jeani Rector. She writes horror and is the editor of an online horror fiction magazine, The Horror Zine.  The zine is world known and contains stories by both new and established writers.  And it's all for free! Therefore no subscription required.

I like to think of Ms. Rector as the "Elvira" of horror literature. The only difference between Jeani and Elvira other than the media they specialize in is that Jeani "hosts" good fiction and so fiction that is much closer to A rated movies than the B rated ones Elvira has shown.  Don't get me wrong though! I'm a big fan of B-rated horror and sci fi. However, when it comes to reading, I like to make better use of my time reading quality fiction. So I suggest you not only check out my article on Jeani Rector but that you check out her zine too.

I'll leave you with that for now.

Until next time . . .

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Poll Results and Sneak Peek of "The Fool's Illusion"

Warning: This post may contain content or links to content considered to be obscene by some viewers.

Hello, everybody!

At the poll for the lettering style for my upcoming short fiction collection, The Fool's Illusion, it looks like "Twisted Roman" won by 4 to 0 votes!  So "Twisted Roman" style it will be for the title on the cover. 



"Twisted Roman" style lettering for The Fool's Illusion book cover title


Thank you all for voting.  It helps me determine which will be the more efficient lettering style for you readers and lovers of books out there.  I don't want to just make myself happy with massive sales, but I want to make you readers (and you know who you are) happy with your reading experience and that includes the cover of the book when and if (which I hope many of you will!) you select my book to purchase. 

Do you want an idea of what my book will cover (e.g. themes, genres and subgenres)?  Then the links below may interest you. The first is from a blog posting I did for Horror Addicts' online con which includes a free excerpt of the title story.  The last three (all from past posts of this blog) add up to one whole free short story to be included in the book!  You'll be getting a shrunken head start before most people who will buy my book and so you can proudly say that you read it before it was even published!

I'm still working on the illustration but hope to have it done by next week so I can post it here for you to look at and to provide any comments on it you may have. 

Until next week . . .

Links for a sneak peek of The Fool's Illusion:
Article on The Fool's Illusion with story excerpt, "The Puppet Show" Parts I, II and III.