So Bob Mueller, the special counsel investigating the Trump administration’s ties to Russians during the election, indicted and arrested two former Trump officials, the biggest naming being one time campaign head Paul Manifort, while revealing another, “smaller” name in this affair, George Papadopoulos, had pled guilty and was cooperating with the special counsel for some time now.
Which makes one wonder if, perhaps, he might have been used by the special counsel since his arrest to record some conversations…
Speculation, for sure, but…
Things must be pretty scary for some in the White House… and it has nothing to do with Halloween.
Today’s subject is actor Margaret Hamilton, who had a very long, productive career yet will always be best known for playing the Wicked Witch of the West in the classic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.
I read somewhere that the plot/story of The Wizard of Oz was incredibly influential to many other films.
The person who noted this -someone far more astute than I!- went on to note that the original 1977 Star Wars’ story was, essentially, a sci-fi version of The Wizard of Oz!
While many note Star Wars is a pastiche of many films, including taking many elements from the Akira Kurosawa directed film The Hidden Fortress, I was surprised by that analysis… more so when I thought about it and realized that analysis was dead accurate.
Back in 1982 legendary horror director George A. Romero, best known for his deservedly famous zombie films, united with equally renowned horror author Stephen King to create Creepshow, an horror movie featuring several individual horror stories and presented in the vein of the E.C. comic books of the 1950’s…
The movie was a success and Romero and company wanted to make a TV series out of it. However, because of issues regarding rights and, I’m quite certain, money, it was decided to make a TV series in the vein of Creepshow but which had nothing to do with it… other than having some of the same creative talent behind it. The TV series Tales From The Darkside debuted in 1983 and finished off its run in 1988.
The series did well and, in the meantime and in 1987, Creepshow 2 was released. There was interest in continuing the Creepshow brand but, again due to those pesky contracts and rights, Creepshow 3 would never be made.
Tales From The Darkside: The Movie (let’s refer to it as TFD from here on in) featured a trio of stories tied into a framing story.
The framing story featured singer/actress Deborah Harry as a seemingly normal suburban housewife who happens to have a young child locked in her home and whom she intends to cook. The child (Matthew Lawrence) manages to hold her off by telling her the trio of stories which make up the film’s run time.
The first story, Lot 249, was based on a story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (the creator of Sherlock Holmes) and features Christian Slater, Steve Buscemi, and, in her motion picture debut, Julianne Moore in a tale concerning a mummy which is, eventually, brought to vengeful life.
The second story, Cat From Hell, is based on a tale by Stephen King and concerns and ornery millionaire (William Hickey) who hires a hit man (David Johansen) to take out a black cat the millionaire is certain is a vengeful spirit.
The last tale, Lover’s Vow, involves a struggling artist (James Remar) who witnesses a bloody, supernatural murder and subsequently finds everything he desires, including true love and artistic success, when he bumps into Rae Dawn Chong’s Carola.
It is after the telling of the third tale that we get resolution in the framing story involving Deborah Harry’s curious evening meal.
TFD is not a bad film but, I would quickly add, it didn’t exactly fill me with awe. The first story, involving the vengeful mummy, was probably the best of the four (including the framing device) yet it wasn’t without its problems. Still, it was fun to watch a trio of well established actors in their youth doing their thing. Christian Slater was quite fun as the clever, but not clever enough, college student out to do the right thing. Julianne Moore gets a chance to play the vamp and Steve Buscemi was fun as a nerdy student who seeks rightful vengeance from those who put him down.
I’d probably put Cat From Hell and the framing story in second place and, again, these weren’t bad but neither did they wow me. Actor/singer David Johansen was good as the hitman and Deborah Harry was fun as what amounts to a witch straight out of a Grimm Brothers fairy tale.
The final, and longest segment, Lover’s Vow, was clearly intended to be the showcase piece of the movie but, alas, winds up being the least of the tales presented. And this despite some good acting by James Remar and Rae Dawn Chong and the goriest, though by today’s standards pretty tame, effects. The main problem is that the story presented is way too obvious and never terribly gripping.
Still, TFD isn’t a total bust. It is far from the worst horror film I’ve seen involving multiple horror stories.
Having said that, one can understand why this movie isn’t as well remembered as the original Creepshow. Hell, even Creepshow 2, IMHO a far lesser film than the original, nonetheless has fans of at least one of their segments (The Raft).
With that in mind, I offer a mild recommendation for TFD but this is directed to those who want to see some very familiar actors in their formative years.
Toward the end of the post, I created and put up this picture:I didn’t think all that much of it when I created and posted it in the still in-progress blog entry, but when I published the entry and looked back at the whole thing I got…
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t tear up or cry or howl at the moon or give myself high fives. Instead, seeing the published entry, I did have feelings.
The first, primary feeling was one of pride. The second was one of relief.
The pride part is easy enough to explain. Whatever job you have, and especially if it is one you enjoy, whenever you accomplish something “big” after plenty of hard work doing it and are happy with the way things turned out, then you should feel pride. You should feel like patting your back.
I’ve noted far too many times before that writing a book is extremely difficult work, at least to me. The amount of time spent on a single novel, much less eight novels that form a series, is very hard. There are many characters and situations to keep in mind. There are so many events and repercussions to deal with. Finally, I was determined to deliver something fresh and new and interesting and was extremely careful not to have any story devolve into cliche.
So when I looked at yesterday’s post and saw that image, all that hard work was right there in that single graphic.
Sure, books #7 and 8 aren’t out yet, but at this time both novels are written. The only thing keeping me from releasing them is the work needed to clean them up so they can be released.
Otherwise, this series -at least from the creative writing side- is done and, to my mind, done well.
That’s where the feeling of relief comes in.
After all these years -indeed much of my adult life- as of yesterday the process is almost done and, most importantly, it works.
After so many small and large steps, so many days and months and years of hard work, of whole days and weeks spent working on one particular segment of one particular book and sweating out how that would mesh with other parts of said book…
…I’m suddenly here, nearing the end of this long, wonderful journey.
As I said before, it has not been easy, but there’s nothing better than seeing the fruits of your labor and realizing you’re not just nearly done, but that you’ve done well.
I can’t wait for you guys and gals to see the next two books.
If you liked what came before, you will love what comes next.
Though the update is listed as today (ie, the 25th of October), this concerns yesterday.
Specifically, as of yesterday, the 24th of October, I finished the first detailed read through of my latest Corrosive Knights novel. This will be novel #7 in the series and will conclude the story I began all those years before with Mechanic.
(A quick side note: Though this will conclude the main Corrosive Knights story line, there will be a book #8 which will offer an “epilogue” to the story. For now I’ll say no more, other than that I have already written the first draft of that epilogue and it should come out very soon after the release of book #7)
Having now read through book #7 from start to end, I have a clearer idea of how the individual parts fit together. When I wrote this book, I first wrote one major section and the conclusion then went back to write the second major section, a process that took me some time, before marrying the two elements together in one large file.
As I have mentioned before, this is the longest novel I’ve written so far, clocking in at 128,761 words (261 single spaced printed pages) and I suspect when all is said and done the word could will likely increase.
There are bits and pieces that need clarification and/or expansion. There are less pieces here and there that require compression.
But the big question is: Does the book work?
It may seem like an odd question to make at such a late stage, but trust me, I was sweating for a while. Because I did one large section of the book, put it away, then worked on the other section before merging the two, it had been a while since I read and revised the first stuff I did. And when I merged the two together and started the full read-through, I was nervous, worried if everything would fit together and whether the story in full came together or, as I put it above, worked.
I’m happy to say it did.
Boy, did it ever.
Though there’s still much to be done, I’m extremely happy with what I have so far. This is a book that will, I believe, very satisfactorily conclude the Corrosive Knights saga. Those who have been following it, I feel, will be happy with this ending which deals with all the various plot threads I’ve opened but, up to this point, haven’t closed.
So today I start the revision process on the computer and, when I’m done with it, I’ll print the whole thing out and give it another read and do the pen revisions before once again doing revisions on the computer.
Released a couple of weeks ago to glowing reviews, Blade Runner 2049, the very belated sequel to the original 1982 Blade Runner, arrived with plenty of good reviews and buzz but delivered an underwhelming box office.
In fact, its safe to say the film is on its last legs in theaters though, perhaps like the original film, cult status beckons. Still, one can’t help but wonder what went wrong.
Welp, I just now came from seeing the film and I have some ideas about that.
The first, and predominant one relates to the film’s runtime.
2 hours and 44 minutes.
You read that right.
That’s an awful long time to spend on any film and, if you’re going to ask audiences to stick around that long, you better make damn sure the film is worth that much time.
That, to me, proved to be problem number one.
I’ll cut to the chase and say that I felt the film was good. Further, I have no problem recommending it, though I strongly suspect fans of the original film will find more to love than newbies. Thing is, unlike long -but mesmerizing- films like Lawrence of Arabia or 2001: A Space Odyssey, I feel this is a film that would have benefited greatly from some skilled editing.
Nonetheless, the main story is easily the brightest element of the movie. As much of a fan of the original Blade Runner as I am, I was skeptical what sort of story could merit a sequel to that movie, especially one that somehow logically brings Ryan Gosling’s character, a replicant Blade Runner (ie Replicant killer), to eventually cross paths with Harrison Ford’s Deckard.
The basic elements there work really well (I won’t go into Spoilers… at least not here), but the problem is that there are too many other things brought into the movie that could have either been pared down (ie skilled editing) or eliminated altogether.
Again, without getting into spoilers, Jared Leto shows up for a whopping 2 scenes but, frankly, they could have cut that down to one scene or, with some minor story modification, eliminated altogether.
Robin Wright, so damn effective in a small role in Wonder Woman, isn’t nearly as effective, or effectively written, this time around. Her character could -and in this case probably should (see below)- been pared down to one scene or eliminated all together.
Then there’s Edward James Olmos, playing a character returning from the original film, who is also given a scene that plays out like fan service more than necessity to plot.
When we finally get to Harrison Ford’s Deckard, it feels like we could and should have gotten there sooner. Even then, we’re given a fight between Ford and Gosling which feels like action presented just for the sake of giving us something exciting after too long not getting much of it.
Still, I can’t hate the film. While the story could have been firmed up, like the original Blade Runner 2049 immerses us into a bleak future that feels organic and makes us care for its lead characters. Ryan Gosling’s “K”, the Replicant Blade Runner, is quite good and his journey is emotional and, in the end, satisfying. I recommend the film, though I lament the fact that it could and should have been even better than it was.
I know what you’re thinking: How would you have made the film better, smart guy?
All right, here we go.
I would have begun the film exactly as it begins, with our “hero”, replicant Blade Runner “K” goes to a distant farm and confronts Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista). Everything presented in this part of the movie is ok, but instead of ending the scene when they did, I would have continued and have K discover everything, including both the buried box AND the stuff written at the tree’s base, which of course affects him. (The stuff in the piano could be cut out)
Here’s where I would then diverge big time.
Have K contact his Lieutenant (played by Robin Wright) and tell her he’s found bones but she doesn’t care all that much.
“Did you get Sapper?”
“That’s all that’s important. Get back home.”
That’s right, the humans are content. They feel replicants are under their thumbs to the point where they’ve allowed them to take care of themselves. Why should they care about what one stray replicant hid in his farm?
K, however, knows something is up and when he returns to the big city he presents what he found to an also uninterested coroner. The coroner doesn’t much care to examine these old bones when he’s overwhelmed with so many other crimes to deal with.
K winds up examining the material and discovers the bones belonged to a replicant and, even more startlingly, that the replicant died in child birth. (He can reveal this to his audience via talking to his computer “girlfriend”)
Being a good cop, he tries to tell his superior but, again, they don’t care. Here we can have the one “big” scene for Robin Wright. She cuts him off before he gets to any of the juicy stuff about replicant child birth and says something to the effect of: “The body belonged to a replicant? All right, go off, figure it out.”
Again, to so many humans, replicants are wind up toys and, what the hell, if this case gets him out of her hair, all the better.
So K begins his formal investigation and heads to Wallace industries and it is they who take an interest in his investigation -though they don’t act it- and wind up follow him along, though for most of the movie this is a secret kept from the audiences.
We don’t need to meet Wallace (Jaret Leto) at this point, instead have him be a ghostly figure who may even not exist for all the audience knows. Also, keep the fact that our main antagonist, who we are introduced to at this point, is a replicant from the audiences as well as K. For all we know, she’s another totally uninterested human who could give a shit about replicant problems.
When she steals the bones K (in my scenario) has found, we don’t need to show it was her. Instead, have K realize at some point the stuff is gone and that he isn’t simply spinning his wheels. The coroner could well be killed (or not, it doesn’t matter in my scenario) and K digs deeper, this time thinking he may have secrets of his own (ie, the memory stuff presented in the call back to Blade Runner’s oddball pseudo sequel, the Kurt Russell film Soldier. Only the big time Blade Runner fans will pick up on the dumping grounds’ meaning!).
K meets with the memory specialist just like we’re presented and then moves his way toward finding Deckard. After he does, they’re ambushed and it is there and then that the replicant identity of the antagonist is revealed. To everyone’s surprise, she beats K up, something we think a demure, smallish woman like her should not have been able to do.
K barely escapes with his life but Deckard is captured. He now knows Wallace is behind everything and we can then have his single scene where he reveals all -that he wants to have replicants be able to reproduce- and menaces Deckard with considerable torture.
But K hunts down the kidnappers, saving Deckard right in the nick of time and noting, as he does in the film, that Deckard, as far as the world is concerned, no longer exists. We then have the ending as presented and fade out.
So that’s my scenario.
(And, by the way, note I removed entirely the replicant underground stuff. Didn’t really need it, either)
Really poured my heart into this one and I’m really happy with the results.
Ladies and gents, Michelle Pfieffer’s Catwoman from the very quirky Tim Burton directed Batman Returns (1992)…
Even for someone as quirky as Tim Burton, Batman Returns was a decidedly oddball film, filled with astonishing visuals and eerie, bizarre sexual themes.
Catwoman’s character, who looks like a mix between a Dominatrix and the Bride of Frankenstein, was probably a big reason (the other being the very murderous Penguin!) why the folks at Warners decided to move in another direction and got themselves another director for the next two Batman films, which were decidedly campier and far less edgy.
I don’t feel Batman Returns is a “great” Batman film. Nonetheless I strongly agree with one long forgotten critic who said (I’m paraphrasing here) that the movie is “great” whenever Pfieffer’s Catwoman is on screen, but not so great when she’s not.
Loved her version of Catwoman and, frankly, wished Mr. Burton had stuck with her character as the main villain (though in truth the character of Catwoman has always skated the line when it comes to being an out and outright villain) and left Penguin for another time.
As with all the “sketches” I’ve posted, click on the above image if you want a closer look at the art!
Opening today, October 20th, is the film The Snowman. Here’s the movie’s trailer…
Looks ok, no?
Based on one of the several bestselling Harry Hole (don’t snicker… that’s the name given the detective protagonist) novels by Jo Nesbø, the film features a cast that’s quite literally to die for. You’ve got Michael Fassbender in the role of primary role of Harry Hole, Rebecca Ferguson (the standout actress, IMHO, in the last Mission: Impossible film and, hopefully, the one to come), the always reliable J. K. Simmons, the also always reliable Chloe Sevigny, and one other big name actor who I will mention in a moment.
The film is directed by Tomas Alfredson, who gained very positive reviews for Let The Right One In as well as (though I didn’t particularly like it) Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
Unlike those last two films by Mr. Alfredson, The Snowman, carries all kinds of hints it might be a disaster. To begin, the film is being released in a relatively dead period of time, movie-wise. Trailers, though they certainly exist, are hardly being shown on TV. Fans of the books, likewise, can be forgiven in that the film’s lackluster advertising barely makes mention of the movie being related to the Jo Nesbø book(s). Was this done on purpose? Is the author himself not terribly thrilled with the film?
Let’s cut to the proverbial chase: You don’t have to be a psychic or a tea reader to feel the studios know they have a stinker on their hands. They are essentially dumping it into theaters in the hopes they recover some of the budget spent on it yet it is equally clear these same studios aren’t getting their hopes up. They refuse to spend on advertising -the also proverbial spending good money after bad- a film with this pedigree might merit.
Finally, the very early reviews (those that beat the movie embargo) are almost all negative.
The reason for my posting about the film is not because of the film itself but rather based on the following fascinating article concerning the actor I didn’t mention above, Val Kilmer. He’s in the film, though based on this article, by Sam Adams and on Slate.com, his work here is very weird…
I really hope you click on the link above because it is a fascinating article that gave me memories of the late Bela Lugosi in Plan 9 From Outer Space. Without giving too much of the article away, it would appear Mr. Kilmer’s role in this film is something akin to Mr. Lugosi’s role.
If you find inside Hollywood stories as fascinating as I do, you’ll enjoy this article.
When one releases one’s own works to the general public, it stands to reason that not everyone will love what you do. This goes for people who draw, paint, sing, play instruments, direct, act, etc. etc. etc.
As an author, my hope, as should be the hope of all artists out there, is that the number of people who like your work will be far greater than those who don’t.
At this point, I have 44 ratings on Goodreads.com for my works. In total, the reviews for all my works merits a 3.89 rating out of 5, a number that frankly thrills me to no end.
Reading over the reviews, there are the positive ones. Look, I’ve got an ego and, like everyone out there, I love to have my ego stroked by people who love what I’ve done.
To them: Thank you. Thank you very, very, very much.
But some of the reviews make me chuckle.
Over at Amazon.uk (the British Amazon service), a reader named “sonnet” offered a four out of five star rating for my novel Haze and wrote that it was A surprisingly good read.
Again, I really appreciate the review but also couldn’t help but think that the reader was genuinely surprised an independent writer could do something “good”. Was the surprise based on this?
Who knows. Perhaps I’m reading too much into this.
Over at amazon.jp, the Japanese amazon service, I received a 2 star out of five review from Orezqtotter for my graphic novel The Dark Fringe and his/her review, under the heading of Too Simple, was Everything goes like as I could expect and nothing unpredictable.
Again (part deux), I don’t expect everything I do will appeal to everyone, though I do take issue with the notion that The Dark Fringe’s story is “too simple” or predictable.
But, again, this is this reader opinion and I can respect it didn’t turn him/her on, its his/her absolute right to have an opinion of said product.
Then there are these types of reviews, reviews that, frankly, irk me.
A few days ago on amazon.com my latest novel, Foundry of the Gods, received a one star review.
The review, under the headline “One Star“, is by Tony6232 who wrote: Did not Order this.
Amazon.com allows you to see the reviews of the people who post and, curious to get an idea of Tony6232’s reviewing, I found that on that same date s/he wrote the review for my novel s/he wrote three other one star reviews with the very same Did not Order this comment. Of the four items s/he reported, mine was the only novel.
I’m assuming Tony6232 is sincere in his/her comments that, perhaps, someone illegally took over his/her amazon account (the Gods know this can happen!) and purchased things s/he didn’t want.
…what the reviewer did was take out that anger/frustration on a product instead of where it should have gone to, however that order was made. And by offering the one star review, his/her opinion brings the overall reviews of my novel down as well, especially when the book hasn’t received all that many reviews to this point.
I can’t help but think there will be people who look at the overall review numbers and, unless they scrutinize the reviews, will think the book isn’t good because the overall ratings are low even if it is no fault of the product itself.
Understand: I know I’m not the first person with a product placed on amazon that has faced a bad review for something unrelated to the product itself. It is, however, the first time it has happened to me.
For example, I’ve read many poor reviews for products where, it turned out, the reviewer was upset not about the product but rather that it was delivered damaged to their door.
Think about that.
You order a book or movie or CD or whathaveyou and it is delivered to your house and the box is smashed and, unfortunately, the product within is damaged.
Instead of contacting amazon or the postal carrier and complaining about the delivery, you give the product a one star review even if you note that its because of a damaged product. Unfortunately, there may be people out there unlike me who do not read the reviews and think the one star review is for the product itself.
So what can one do? For me, I replied to Tony6232 with the following comment:
From looking at your profile, it is clear there were three other products you “reviewed” with a similar statement, ie that you “did not order this”.
While I appreciate reviews -positive or negative- of my novels, it seems your issue is not with my book but rather with Amazon.com itself. I hope you get the issue resolved.