Sunday, March 16, 2014

Writing Updates / Other Happenings

Has been a very busy 2014 so far, hence my absence from this wonderful blog! But here's what I have cookin' ...

- AT LONG LAST: Along with my co-author Sheri Sebastian Gabriel, we have FINALLY finished our epic tome titled SATANIC CINEMA: A GUIDE TO OCCULT FILMS OF THE 1970s. The book clocks in at over 130,000 words, and is currently in the editing stages. The project took us over a year, and over 130 films are given lengthy synopsis and comments. We'll be shopping it around just as soon as the final edit is completed. To say we're excited about this project is a massive understatement.

- My "Third World Cannibal" novella, KANNIBALEN IN DER STADT, is nearing completion and will be a part of a very limited edition Third World Cannibal series from Dynatox  Ministries, who are quickly becoming one of the coolest small press specialty publishers around. In a nutshell: Members of a remote South American cannibal tribe are brought back to Manhattan for study by anthropologists. Guess what happens? I'm having a blast doing my version of DR. BUTCHER meets CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST meets any and all of those types of films.

- I understand my "nunspolitation" novella, THE BLASPHEMOUS SISTERS OF SAINT APOLLONIA, will be out soon from Dynatox Ministries. This is also an extremely limited edition so you might want to keep your eyes on their site: Dynatox Ministries Bookstore

- I'm making some nice headway in my bizarro novel, CHANNEL 79. It's the tale of two buddies, a community television motivational speaker, and a very liberal Catholic nun. And streaking. And a whole lot of surprises that have both my dachshunds scared.


This past Friday, March 14th, I had the absolute pleasure of seeing the NYC premiere of THE DANCE OF REALITY at the Museum of Modern Art. It's the first film in almost 23 years by the iconic cult film director Alejandro Jodorowsky, and I was fortunate enough to be sitting three rows behind him during the entire screening (see non-stalker pic below). The film was followed by a wonderful Q&A session, but as hard as I tried afterward, I just couldn't get a pic with the man himself. But a great time was had, and Cinema Knife Fight will be publishing my review of the film on Tuesday, March 18th.

YES! That's the legendary Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky just three rows in front of me. I was in Geek-Fanboy Heaven!

Slick poster. If I was still a teenager I may have attempted to swipe it...dang adulthood!

That's all for now folks...

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Under Construction

NOTE: This blog is temporarily under an overhaul. Thank you for your patience.


Sunday, January 5, 2014

35 Years of Electronic Revolution...

35 Years of Electronic Revolution… 
Anyone who loves music will cite artists, songs or albums that changed their lives. On a warm night in 1988, a friend of mine let me borrow his cassette (remember those things?) of Gary Numan’s 1979 album THE PLEASURE PRINCIPLE. Of course I had heard his “one hit wonder” song, ‘Cars,’ and snippets of his song ‘Down in the Park’ when I saw the 1980 Tim Curry film TIMES SQUARE. But other than that I was unfamiliar with the rest of Numan’s material. By the time I finished listening to this 10-song album, my life had literally changed, and I flipped the tape back over and listened to the entire thing for a second time. Then a third.
At the time I was two years out of high school and working the overnight shift at my old job. I turned my cassette walkman on and hit play, and for the next 117 minutes and 21 seconds (i.e. The Pleasure Principle 3x), I had entered the world of Gary Numan. And I’m still stuck there to this day.
While I enjoyed a few new wave bands growing up (such as Missing Persons and the Police), I was mainly into punk, hardcore, and metal. When The Pleasure Principle’s opening track ‘Airlane’ came on, I frowned. It sounded almost like a disco song. I fought fast forwarding the tape. By the time it ended, I really had no opinion, so decided to give the next song a chance before taking the tape out of my player. Halfway through second track, ‘Metal’, I thought Hmmm. This is different. So different, in fact, that I kept the tape rolling through the third track, ‘Complex’, which I later found out is the world’s first electronic ballad. I never liked ballads…still don’t with only a few select exceptions. But this one, like the song before it, was different.
Track four, titled ‘Films,’ is when The Pleasure Principle kicks into high gear and never lets up. I think it was less than a minute into the song when I had to lean against a wall and savor what I was hearing. I felt like I had entered a Sci-Fi movie, and couldn’t get enough of the bass line, eerie synth tracks, and unusual drum beat. I had never been so taken by a mid-tempo song before. By the time the fifth track, ‘M.E.’ ended, I had asked myself, Where has this album been hiding all these years?
Flipping the tape to side 2 (I actually miss flipping tapes and records over…they really gave albums a different feel for some reason), sixth song ‘Tracks’ begins with a light piano intro, then goes into a straight-ahead electronic rocker that leads into track seven, ‘Observer’, which is kind of a prequel to ‘Cars’ in structure yet manages to stand on its own.
The album’s longest song, ‘Conversation’, clocks in at 7:36, and when it ended I rewound it to hear it a second time. Today I consider it a masterpiece of electronic rock, but at the time I didn’t know how to categorize it; all I knew is I couldn’t get it out of my head. Everything from Numan’s dead-pan, robot-like vocals to Cedric Sharpley’s snare-tom drum beats, to the addictive sounds of the clap trap (more on that in a minute) made this my favorite track on the album (another rarity as I was never a fan of lengthy songs).
Track nine, ‘Cars’, should be familiar to most music fans, and sadly most people think this is Numan’s only song. When you listen to The Pleasure Principal in its entirety, ‘Cars’ has a different feel than if you hear it on the radio or during a cable TV “one hit wonder” countdown. Many Numan fans claim they’re sick of this track, but none can deny getting excited whenever they hear it pop up on a TV commercial or when one of countless bands cover it in concert.
The album concludes with ‘Engineers.’ Of all the tracks, I had the hardest time getting into this one, but it has become one of my favorites. With a marching drum beat and industrial feel, it stands out even among the originality of the nine songs that come before it.
One thing that makes The Pleasure Principle so great: the songs get better as the album plays. While I love the first three songs, it’s not until ‘Films’ kicks in when the album begins to give off its true flavor. And from there it becomes a landscape of dark, eerie, at times emotional and cold Sci-Fi-rock that still sounds about 100 years ahead of its time.
With Numan’s unusual vocals (as well as moog and synthetic percussion), Paul Gardner’s smooth bass lines, Chris Payne's thundering and haunting synths, Billy Currie’s occasional violin, backed by the late Cedric Sharpley’s simple but grabbing drum tracks, The Pleasure Principle is one of those rare albums where the stars must have been perfectly aligned as it was written, recorded and mixed. Not a second of the album is filler, not a moment wasted. And popping up in several tracks is the use of the aforementioned “clap trap,” an electronic snare drum (of sorts) that sounds like someone smacking a robot in the face with a piece of sheet metal; it  adds to the overall unique sound and feel and gives the album a most unusual heaviness.
This September of 2014 will be the official 35th anniversary of this landmark album. It was Gary’s third studio album and first album under his own name (his first was released as TUBEWAY ARMY then his second as GARY NUMAN + TUBEWAY ARMY). A long-awaited re-mastered CD was released in 1998, and in 2009 a 30-year anniversary, 3-disc edition loaded with bonus tracks came out to those of us who simply can’t get enough. But the original ten tracks of The Pleasure Principal remain one of the greatest, most addictive pieces of future-rock ever recorded, and forever opened my eyes to alternative forms of music.
(Back cover of the original ATCO Records release)
(Reverse side of interior lyric sheet in original ATCO Records release. Although Billy Currie toured with Numan for a few years on synths, on this album he only provided the brief violin parts, hence the absence of his picture here)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

My Annual Top Ten Books List

2013 was a bit more difficult than in previous years, not because I read more books than usual, but less. I usually read around 85 books a year, but due to much writing of my own fiction and dealing with a busier than usual year with my small press, I only managed to get through 47 titles (am currently reading the 48th), and that will probably be it for me unless I can miraculously squeeze in another 40 books within the next 10 days.

But that's just not going to happen!

THAT said, it really was difficult narrowing under 50 novels down to a top ten list, especially since one of the best I've read won't be released until 2014, hence I'll have to save it for next year. I also want to point out that the books that make my list are titles that stay with me long after I've finished reading. I think I gave one or two books here 4 out of 5 stars on my initial review, but they're books that--for whatever reason(s)--never left me.

It also thrills me that several of the books I've picked this year come from writers who I've become friends with ... but their friendship has nothing to do with why I picked them. It's always a thrill to see any writer grow at their craft, let alone someone you know and have been cheering on.

So without further psychobabble, let's count down from 10:

10) FEAST OF OBLIVION by Josh Myers
Myers' debut novel is a wicked-fun blast of bizarro mayhem, featuring some famous characters (including actor Peter Weller!) and a host of madcap happenings. This is one author I'm truly keeping my retina's on...
9) BONE WHISPERS by Tim Waggoner

"Waggoner's prose sucks you in in each story, and whether the tale is straight-forward or bizarre, there's not an entry here that can be ignored. If you like horror on the weird side, this is a must read, and even if you don't, give BONE WHISPERS a try anyway. It's a refreshing alternative to your by-the-numbers horror fiction." (From my review)
8) MOUNTAIN HOME by Bracken Macleod
"MOUNTAIN HOME is a seige/revenge thriller that gets in your face before the second page ends and never lets up. MacLeod slowly reveals what makes Joanie tick, and the suspense level is nearly non-stop .MacLeod's debut novel is a quick, well-crafted tale that reads as if it were written by a seasoned vet (full pun intended). Joanie Myer would surely give John Rambo much to worry about. Great Stuff Here." (From my review)
Pic's sequel to THE LAST KIND WORDS is everything fans would want, and more.

"We're given a deeper look at the Rand family, and Piccirilli offers some surprises, especially by way of Terry's mother. There's plenty of slick dialogue, fight scenes, and all the grim happenings the author's fans have come to expect, wrapped around prose that's to die for." (From my review)
6) THE FLAMETHROWERS by Rachel Kushner

"THE FLAMETHROWERS is a wonderfully written novel if a bit frustrating: we cheer on Reno as she slowly discovers herself, but we never get to see her accomplish much, especially with her artwork. And while Kushner gives us some really shady and unlikeable characters, the novel thrives by the way Reno interacts with them. Her observations are often unusual, funny, and always give the author an interesting canvas to work her words on. This may be considered hipster-lit, but Kushner's way of dealing with the historic settings makes it wildly entertaining and not, as I had worried before reading, just another stale interpretation of 1970's New York." (From my review)
5) N0S4A2 by Joe Hill
Hill's third novel is a horror/fantasy hybrid that kept me glued to the pages even more so than his first two offerings. This is my fave from him so far aside from his amazing short story collection, 20TH CENTURY GHOSTS.
4) WAITING FOR MISTER COOL by Gerard Houarner
"For a novella, Houarner packs this one with epic levels of action, fighting, and splatter that will test even the most jaded of gorehounds. Yet on top of all the fun, what makes this story (and the entire series) work is the author's ability to make us care for both Max and the twisted demon that lives inside him. We hate ourselves for liking him/them, but like other classic anti-heroes, we just can't help it. Max fans will love this one to death." (From my review)
3) THE OBLIVION ROOM by Christopher Conlon
Highlighted by one of the best stories about a musician I've ever read, Conlon's collection shows why he continues to be one of the best writers in the business."THE OBLIVION ROOM is a real treat. Conlon's tales go from flat-out terrifying to subtle, quiet horrors, but each one dark and thought provoking in their own ways. The writing is razor sharp and a real pleasure to read. Highly recommended and easily one of the best releases of 2013." (From my review)
2) YOUR CITIES, YOUR TOMBS by Jordan Krall
Although this is the fourth installment of a four-part book series, the other three read as novella / chapbook-length build-ups to this full-length novel that completely blew my mind.

"This intense study of fear and conspiracies uses shadow and suggestion and allows the reader to savor and discern every bit of information and ultimately feel deeply for its cast (especially one reluctant terrorist) as the tale comes into light; a shaded light, but a light nonetheless. As far as bizarre fiction goes, Krall's "False Magic Kingdom" series is a true masterpiece and easily his finest work to date." (From my review)
1) ROCK 'N' ROLL by L.L. Soares
There's nothing--and I mean nothing--that I like more than reading a novel thinking it will be one thing then realizing halfway through that it's something completely different (and better) than I had expected. Soares' second novel is the most original tale I read in 2013, and almost ten months after reading it has still not left my head.
"ROCK 'N' ROLL is like an off-the-wall late night supernatural erotic thriller as directed by David Cronenberg. Soares blends several genres to deliver an original and quite difficult to put down tale (I read it in two sittings). There's wall-to-wall sex, but unlike a typical exploitation story it's key to the constantly-unfolding plot. This is a real wild ride that's highly recommended to those looking for something truly different." (From my review)
So THERE you have it, folks! Hope you check some of these titles out ...

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Start of a New Epic

PHOENIX ISLAND by John Dixon (to be released 1-21-14 by Gallery Books / 320 pp / hc & eBook)

Sixteen year-old boxing champ (and orphan) Carl Freeman is the type of guy who likes to stick up for the weaker kids against bullies: he has a sense of justice handed down from his father but as noble as it is, he often goes overboard and gets into trouble. After too many instances (taking out an entire football team single-handedly now pushing the limit), a judge takes Carl away from his current foster home and sentences him to Phoenix Island, a military-style boot camp designed to straighten-out teens like Carl. But within the first few minutes on the island, Carl and his fellow recruits discover the isolated place (located off the coast of Mexico in the Pacific Ocean) holds many secrets, and it doesn't take long for them to realize they're all in a fight for their very lives.

While this set up may bring BATTLE ROYALE or THE HUNGER GAMES to mind, PHOENIX ISLAND is more like a combination of the 1983 Sean Penn juvenile prison film BAD BOYS, LORD OF THE FLIES, ROCKY, and any mad scientist film. Dixon blends action, scifi, and horror into a tale that had me flipping pages to the point I finished in two rapid sittings. Dixon (a former Golden Gloves boxer) gives vivid descriptions of the boxing mindset, hence making the hand-to-hand fight scenes edge-of-your seat exciting (especially Carl's fight with a taser-wielding drill sargeant). The violence level is quite high (considering this is a YA novel) and Dixon's cast of good and bad guys & gals are to die for.

The second book in this series can't get here fast enough (and I hope the forthcoming CBS TV series, 'Intelligence,' based on this novel, is even a quarter as good as its source material). There are plenty of surprises at every turn, and like any good story featuring a boxer as the main protagonist, this one is completely full of heart and just may have you cheering out loud. Don't miss it.

Friday, October 11, 2013

2 New Anthologies

The following soon-to-be-released antholgies contain all-new stories from yours truly:

DARK FUSIONS: WHERE MONSTERS LURK! Edited by Lois Gresh, features my Lovecraftian tale "What Was Called." From PS Publishing.

BIZARRO BIZARRO features my bizarro story "A Path for the New Bride." From Bizarro Pulp Press.
More news to follow...

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Helman Returns (Part 5)!

STORM DEMON by Gregory Lamberson (2013 Medallion Press / 406 pp / tp and eBook)

Private Eye Jake Helman returns in his fifth epic adventure and the series shows NO signs of losing steam. This time we pick up fresh off the violent revolution that went down on Pavot Island in TORTURED SPIRITS, with a now hand-less Jake and detective Maria bringing Edgar back to New York (in human form, now cured of a shape-shifting curse).

But of course things quickly go downhill (despite Jake and Maria taking their relationship to the next level): it seems someone has their eye on Laurel, Jake's clairvoyant neighbor, and that someone turns out to be an ancient demon who is able to control the weather ... and she's bringing a massive hurricane to the Big Apple in an attempt to get Laurel and finally rid the world of Jake Helman.

STORM DEMON features plenty of action (a staple of the series), plenty of occult happenings, an apocalyptic rat attack, some wild monsters, and all manner of obstacles for our favorite anti-hero to grapple with; but there's also a side story involving a rising in the drug underworld and Maria's attempt to protect an innocent child from it. Like the others in the series, it's pretty much a perfect blend of occult horror and gritty street-crime goodness. And the ending this time is total edge-of-your-seat fun ...

The Jake Helman series has been very consistent; each installment is hard to put down (no easy feat considering the high standard set with the first book, PERSONAL DEMONS), and STORM DEMON does not disappoint. Those new to the series are urged to read what came before, yet first timers might not be too lost despite many references to what came beforehand. I'm chomping at the bit waiting for the sixth and final novel ...