Monday, December 29, 2014

Overqueue - Muppet Vision 3D

The Overambitious Overflow Queues of Walt Disney World - Muppet Vision 3D

This new series is going to take a look at parts of Disney World that (for the most part) aren't off limits, but are rarely seen.  First, here's what we're not talking about.

Many popular rides get lines longer than their queues during busy times.  For most of these rides, the solution is to put up temporary rope switchbacks outside.  Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, and It's a Small World regularly do this.

We're also not talking about rides that just have a queue way too long.  The Seas With Nemo and Friends comes to mind.  Aside from New Year's Eve, this one has always been a walk-on for me, and making my way through the queue takes almost as long as the ride itself.  However, you get to see the entire queue.

The subjects of the series have themed overflow queues that are not part of the regular queue, and for the majority of these, the demand for such queues has been a titch overestimated.

The first one is an exception, as it is a part of a popular attraction and is actually used from time to time.  This is the overflow queue of Muppet Vision 3D in Hollywood Studios.  This is a simple switchback that snakes along the side of the building to the right of the entrance.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Adventures in Self-Publishing - Amazon

I'll get back to covers later, but I'm making a slight detour to talk about where to sell your ebooks.  The first and most obvious place is Amazon, via their KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) program.

First, let's talk about the bad things people have said about Amazon.

They're an evil corporation that is using it's size to undercut other businesses, like Walmart or Blockbuster.  Once they have total control of the ebook market, they will raise prices and lower royalties.

This is more true for brick and mortar stores than ebooks, I think.  Unlike physical stores, it doesn't take near as much infrastructure to sell ebooks.  If Amazon jacked up the price of ebooks, someone would step in and undercut them in turn.  In general, Amazon can be compared to a benevolent dictator - harmless for now, but not to be trusted.  I can understand someone taking a principled stand and not selling at Amazon.

Amazon screws publishers

Maybe.  Amazon does the same thing cable companies do when they're having contract negotiations, and it makes them sound like a divorced parent in a custody dispute.  Amazon delays shipping for a publisher that won't play by their rules, and the publisher illegally colludes to raise prices.  I have a hard time feeling sorry for publishers that want to sell ebooks for more than paperbacks and screw their authors in the process.

Amazon won't let me post my book for free

I'd love it if they did, but they don't.  There is a hack (give away book for free somewhere else, ask Amazon to price-match), but it hasn't worked for me.  Other markets (B&N, iTunes, etc) have no problem setting books to free right out of the gate.

Amazon posted my book for free when I didn't want them to

The opposite of above.  There's this nasty trick that publishers and/or author's do, where they post a book for free, but it turns out it's just a sample chapter and they don't tell you this in the title.  This has fooled me before, and evidently it's fooled Amazon's "price match" computers, causing the entire book to be free until the authors complained.  Serves them right.

Amazon censors arbitrarily

Amazon can drop you or your books for pretty much any reason they want.  They're a bit vague ("What we deem offensive is probably about what you would expect.on what is allowed and what isn't"), and people expect to have an objective measure.  This is their actual, unstated policy: "We want to make money off your book, but if it gives us bad press or possible legal attention, we will cut if off".  They don't care if the Greeks did it, or it's in the Bible, or whatever.  I've published some pretty vile filth myself, so I kind of shudder to think what might get authors "banned".

I think it just autoflags (or puts it under an Adult filter) by keyword, which is why we get terms like "multi-species" or "inter-generational".  I also think there is a plagiarism filter - the times I've packaged short stories separately from previously published collections, its taken an extra day to be approved.

Just remember, nobody at Amazon is reading every book that gets submitted.  There is maybe a computer program that searches for suspect text, and I imagine some poor intern has to scan the covers looking for dirty pictures, but that's it.

Amazon will proclaim they don't allow pornography, then add erotica categories at the same time.  They ban various genres wholesale after a bad news report comes out, and then quietly allow them
My attitude is: if they sell it, they sell it.  If they don't want to sell it, I'm in the same place as if I didn't submit it.

Amazon starts new programs without letting you know or letting you opt out

I was chuffed with this myself.  I get an email, as a customer, letting me know about the new Kindle Unlimited program.  A couple hours later I get an email, as a publisher, letting me know about the program, and that my KDP Select books have automatically been included.  I look at the KDP website and there is a page that said authors may opt out of their KDP Select contract if they wish, providing directions and a link.

I was in the process of trying out other markets, so I followed the procedure to opt out early.  The response was that I couldn't get out early, and the original web page had been taken down.

I'm sure in their terms and services they have language allowing them to do it, but I was annoyed at not being informed earlier, and by the illusion that I had some say in it.  Other authors that actually sold books, and sold them for a higher profit margin than KU gets them, would have even more reason to be pissed.

Amazon sucks at mobile apps

I've heard someone else describe their phone as a great method for buying things from Amazon, not so great at being a phone.  The same goes for everything else Amazon does in the mobile world.  They gave me $10 to spend in their app store and I ended up having to contact support to get back real money and delete everything Amazon related from my phone.  You don't have any control over payment methods, they spam you with push notification ads, apps disappear from your home screen every update, and their Kindle app WON'T KEEP YOUR F%$&ING PLACE in the F%*#%ING BOOK!  What should be a glorified text reader loses my place and occasionally deletes all my bookmarks every time it gets updated, which is like three times a week.  I don't even try to use it anymore, it's so frustrating.

The actual Kindle works fine, but as tablets get cheaper they're going to go the way of PDAs and MP3 players.  Reminds me of the days of paying money for PC games, only to be forced to download the hack to get around the absurd security features.  Third party ereader software works so much better.

Of course, anyone can read multiple formats of whatever they want, but it's easier to stick with one format and one ereader.  If I only read books off the Kindle app, I would have switched to Nook a long time ago.

Amazon is ripping me off!  My facebook friends and the janitor at work and the lady that rides my bus and the barista at my Starbucks all told me they bought it, but it's not showing up!

Yes, they're also blocking your phone and deleting your texts, which is why you can't get a date.

These blogs are all written by Amazon apologists trying to get affiliate $!

Yes, they are, and thanks to someone buying some absurdly overpriced Legos a week before Christmas, I finally broke that $10 barrier!

Seriously, if you don't want to sell though them, don't.  If they piss you off, you can leave anytime you want.  Talk to any author about how hard it is to leave a traditional publisher and ask them if they could leave within minutes and retain all their rights.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Queue Review Finale - Star Tours

One of my favorite lines, but maybe not the best subject for a finale as three are almost exactly the same.

Disneyland Paris

I believe they are getting a 2.0 upgrade soon, but here is the original version of Star Tours, pretty much the same as the interior of the previous version at Hollywood Studios.  The exterior has a giant X-Wing fighter.

Walt Disney World - Hollywood Studios

All the 2.0 queues are roughly the same.  The exterior is some Endor thing, but when you're in it, it's just rope and wood.


I can't tell what's outside the main entrance, as I know there has to be more line than this, but anything is better than Hollywood Studios.

Tokyo Disneyland

At first I didn't like the switchbacks, but at least they're indoors.  I think there might be a few more droids as well

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Adventures in Self Publishing - Covers Part Two

Before going to the nuts and bolts of making covers (or rather, I link to people who can actually explain things), let's take a look at some of the cover elements.  For physical books in a physical store, covers were like miniature billboards that first got the reader's attention.  Things aren't too much different today, but now we're looking at thumbnail images on Amazon.  This means that your image needs to look good at this size, and (most) text needs to be readable.  Let's look at some particular elements.

Simple enough.  Just make it readable.  Even if readers already know the title, it looks bad to have some kind of smudgy nonsense on the cover.  The title can also be the major visual element of the cover.

If you look at bestsellers, the author's name will be bigger than the title.  That's because Stephen King or James Patterson or whoever can sell a book on the basis of their name/reputation alone.  You are nobody.  Nobody will buy a book because of your name.  One could make an argument that if you put J.O. Nobody on the cover you could fool people into thinking you're more important than you are, and sadly that me be true.  For me, I'll say that the author's name is the least important element of an ebook cover for beginning authors.  If someone is looking for you, they'll find you through the search box, not by browsing covers.  And your name will pop up anyway below the cover in those coveted "You might like" thumbnails.  You do want to have the author's name there somewhere, though, as some retailers require it.  Smashwords has kicked back my stuff sometimes for not having it.

These are optional, but are often used as a way of sneaking more keywords into the Amazon metadata.  Here's where you'll have your "In the tradition of a [enter real book here]", or "If you liked [actual writer], you'll love [your crap]".  Or my favorite, "By the Bestselling Author of a Book That Made it to #99 on the Free Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Settings/Mountains list for two hours that one time".  I hate those techniques, but they probably work.  You are excused for something like "A Curvy, Were-Walrus Menage Fantasy" or the like.  If you want to put it in the "Subtitle" entry when submitting it to KDP or wherever, it needs to be present on the cover.  Note that if you're just using a subtitle to get in more keywords, it might not be as important to have the text readable at thumbnail size.

One difference between physical books and ebooks is that readers may be more critical of ebook covers.  If a book is in a store, there's an implication that it's passed some kind of editorial scrutiny before getting there.  An ebook, not so much, and the competency of the cover may be a warning sign for the rest.

Keep in mind, you can change your cover whenever you want.  I've done so several times, and it takes mere seconds to upload, though it does sometimes take several days for the changes to take affect on the various websites.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Queue Review - Space Mountain

I love all of the Space Mountain queues.  It tends to be one of the longest lines, and they had to get creative on how to lay it out.

Hong Kong Disneyland

A cardboard box overlay at the entrance, way too many safety spiel screens, and a teeny tiny load area.  This is the last time I'll pick on poor Hong Kong.

Walt Disney World - Magic Kingdom

Both the entrance and exit run underground, underneath the Walt Disney World Railroad.  The TTA PeopleMover runs above the exit speedramp, and I believe the exit runs directly above the entrance.  I love this line for this reason alone.

There is a modest attempt to establish the ride as a space port at the beginning.  There are some video games that might ease the wait for thirty seconds, but unfortunately you end up dumped into a sea of switchbacks.  In the dark.  There are some OK visuals on the ceiling, but not enough for the hour wait from that point.  I haven't gone in a few years, but I imagine it's nothing but glowing smart phone screens.

Load area feels very efficient and is separate from the unload.  Has the best music of any version, or indeed almost any ride.

Disneyland Paris - Space Mountain Mission 2

I'll forgive the outdoor switchbacks as this really is a lovely area.  Tomorrowland needs more water features.  A nice dark windy hall, a not at all steampunk ride video, and then back outdoors to a 19th Century train station, which misses the whole point of being engulfed in dark cramped tunnels.  It all looks very nice, but that jarring theme change messes it up for me.  Also, aside from the banners, the train station is too generic roller coaster for me.

Tokyo Disneyland

Coca Cola!

They still have a speedramp as part of the entrance, which runs even when the line trails way outside the ride.  The theming doesn't get particularly spacey until right at the load area.


Perhaps more than any other land, Tomorrowland lends itself to being one discrete place, though the execution is usually lacking.  Space Mountain here does an excellent job of feeling like a part of a bigger whole, rather than just a distinct ride by itself.  Though the entrance area does feel a bit like a shopping mall.  There's a nice elevated outdoor area, the indoor area feels like a space station, and no switchbacks!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Adventures in Self Publishing - Covers

I love book covers.  Up until around 1990.  You can share the love with these websites:

Too Much Horror Fiction

Pop Sensation

Women Running From Houses - Gothic art with a similar theme

Good Show Sir - a celebration of bad sci-fi art, but its still wonderful

Everything after around 1990?  I hate.  Hate, hate, hate.  Ebook covers?  Forget about it.  Worse than useless.  I've almost missed reading fantastic stuff because it had cover art someone's Mom wouldn't even magnet to the fridge.  There used to be websites for bad book covers, but that's become such a redundancy that they stop bothering.

At best, they are inoffensive.  Author, title, maybe a silhouette of something.  At worst, they look like clip art being beaten to death by fonts.  There are some decent artists, but even they just make decent graphic novel covers, which I think should be different than novels.

I am also the last person to ask about this, as my tastes are clearly different from other authors and readers.  I've seen semi-professional printing houses brag about the artwork they've commissioned, only for it too look like Lawnmower Man level computer graphics.

Read this instructive yet soul-destroyingly depressing blog post by our friend Lee Goldberg about updating his covers.  The original .357 Vigilante covers were great.  Not the best out there, but good covers, and ones that probably set the publisher back some coin.  Now look at the new covers.  Competently done, but I hate them, they aren't as good as the originals, they are bland, uninspired, look like a million other covers, and I know that they were done in around 15 minutes.  Thing is, when judged commercially, ie. how many books they sell, they are objectively better covers.  Readers liked them better and they sold more books.

If you can manage to figure out a little bit of Photoshop, GIMP, or the like, you can try your hand at doing it yourself, which I'll address another time.  I'm not the best person to address commissioning cover work, as I've never done it myself, but here's where you can start.

Do you want an original piece of art?  If not, you don't need an artist, just a graphics person, which is a different skill set.  There are a lot of places that will put together a cover at various levels of  cost and competency.  I don't know how they operate, but I can guess - they have a few dozen set ups of stock images and backgrounds, and they literally just change the cover text for your name and title.  Probably takes them all of thirty seconds once the basic design is sorted, which itself probably took two minutes.  I haven't used any myself and can't vouch for anyone, but you could start with fiverr and work your way up.

If you want some original art, there are a few routes to go.  If you find modern covers you like, find the cover artist and check out their website.  I did this with the Hard Case Crimes artists and it looks like they started at $3000, so that's as far as I got going that route.

Someone suggested that I look for someone on Deviant Art and contact them, but I didn't find anybody I liked.  Be warned that no matter what you search for, you'll end up with pictures of Transformers banging My Little Ponies or some such.

You can also look around for a professional or semi-professional artist, but they can run a good four figures.  If you're one of those internet social types you might be able to network your way into a cheaper deal, or find someone just starting out.  Honestly, you can find high school kids from third world countries who will probably do a fine job.  People throw together these stupid meme things for free and this doesn't take that much more work.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Things I Didn't Finish - Bio of a Space Tyrant - Refugee by Piers Anthony

Bio of a Space Tyrant - Book One Refugee 
by Piers Anthony
1983 Avon Books

In future year 2615, Hope Hubris - hell, I should have stopped right there.

I didn't stop this one because of the supposedly graphic sex and gore - hell, that's why I picked it up.  The opening gang rape scene was miserably done without a drop of menace or exploitation, just a pile of cliches and distracted musings.

The main problem is that this a first person memoir written four hundred years in the future that uses what would be anachronistic turns of phrase and feels obliged to explain them in excruciating detail.  To me this is particularly obnoxious, as people today use turns of phrase from previous centuries with origins in their obscurity, and we don't have a problem.  That's how language works.

Example: "Faith attracted men the way garbage draws flies in the incredible films of old Earth" - because, presumably, either trash or flies no longer exist in the future.

I tapped out when I got to a scene where a rich man basically calls a poor woman a two dollar whore.  The narrator then goes on to explain that the dollar is still currency, and that due to various revaluations, two Jovian dollars in 2615 has the same buying power as two American dollars did 700 years previously.  And further, he had to explain how he learned these particular details of economic history in school.

What he didn't explain is why someone writing to a presumably contemporary audience would care what $2 was worth 700 years ago.  The whole thing reads like he was trying to win a no-prize from himself.  He ends up just making the inconsistencies worse instead of, I don't know, maybe rewriting it?  "You're worth two space credits, which is the price of a cup of space coffee."

I can only imagine that Anthony got lots of long, ranty letters from neckbeards complaining about these things and wanted to head them off at the pass, as the cow herders from a previous century would say as often portrayed in Earth films several Terran wars ago.  Or he had more OCD and self loathing than he did imagination and writing skill.

Sorry, this is giving me flashbacks to nerd school.  People ate this stuff up.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Vampires of Mars by Gustave Le Rouge

Vampires of Mars
by Gustave le Rouge
Translated by Brian Stableford
Black Coat Press
Originally published 1908

Been a while since I read this one, but it's a great ride.  An engineer goes to Mars by means of an orb surrounded in ocular fluid (ie eyeball juice) that is propelled via the psychic power of a bunch of yogis.  On Mars he explores the bizarre wildlife before discovering the invisible bloodsuckers that prey on the living, who are not topless ladies.  In the weaker second half the vampires follow the engineer home, but the ending didn't leave any impression with me.

There are a lot of great old French scfi books being translated by Stableford for Black Coat Press, but there was a bit of a pedantic afterword literally listing all the dropped plot threads and inconsistencies.  I'm used to this kind of thing with comics, but here it seemed overboard, as if the reader won't be satisfied unless every tiny aspect of the story is explained.

Coming from more of a pulp background, I kind of know what to expect from a hundred year old scifi magazine story that was probably written in less than a month in one draft.  I enjoy scifi, but I never got into hard Science Fiction, mainly because of their fan base.  Not all of them, but I knew plenty of folk that hated all forms of fiction because it wasn't realistic, but would devour science fiction.

Mainly bringing this up in context of my next post, another thing I didn't finish.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Butcher

The Butcher
35 Books
Pinnacle Books 1971-1982
by Stuart Jason (house name): James Dockery 1-9,12-26; Lee Floren 10-11; Michael Avallone 27-35

The Butcher is Bucher, who only has one name like Cher or Sting, and is pronounced more like "booker", so it doesn't really work.  He was left on the doorsteps of a Knoxville church and named after a 16th century theologian.  He fell asleep in a train car at the age of ten and ended up on the streets of Chicago.  He befriended a mobster's kid and was adopted into the family after the child dies of leukemia.  He worked his way up to heading the East Coast division of the Syndicate.

Bucher has an attack of conscience and quits the Syndicate, resulting in a bounty on his head.  He was approached by the mysterious government agency White Hat and given an offer to use his skills against the Syndicate.  He agrees under the condition that he plays by the Syndicate rules, because having an attack of conscience shouldn't mean you have to stop murdering people.

The Butcher is the first (I think) cash-in on the success of the Executioner, but it has a closer feel to the James Bond knock offs that preceded it, with a bit of Matt Helm and Mike Hammer.  I've only read two so far, and they have a weird, almost beat poet vibe to them.  They also followed a very specific formula.

In the first chapter Bucher dispatches a team of two Syndicate hitmen, both with depraved back stories.  No real action, he just takes them out cowboy style.  There is then a country threatening menace that ties into the Syndicate, although the Syndicate doesn't actually make another appearance.  In both of the books I read, there is a red herring about scientists creating body doubles.

Reading the Butcher I'm reminded of some of the riffs in the MST3K version of Agent From H.A.R.M.

Mainly about how there are big budget ambitions done on a shoestring.  Things like setting and location cost money when you're making a movie, not so much for a book.  If anything, I would think it would be easier to write a giant underground base than it would getting into the minutiae of rural Alaska.  The Butcher books I've read start off with large scale menaces, but Bucher mainly ends up puttering around and failing to keep people around him from being murdered.

The Stuart Jason name was also attached to several Mandingo style plantation exploiters, presumably also written by Dockery.  I've heard the Avallone books are an improvement, so we'll see.

Much more at Spy Guys and Gals.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Queue Review - Pirates of the Caribbean


Chained outdoor switchbacks.  Go straight to hell.  Note that this isn't the overflow queue - the line is designed to be 90% outdoors.

The line leads into a house (groan), where it runs parallel to the boats themselves.  This would be incredibly awesome if not for the fact that the boats are floating through a freaking house with drywall ceilings.  There's a marginal attempt at theming as you get closer to the load area, which is the same as the unload.  I mentioned my attitude towards this kind of thing, and this is perhaps the worst offender.  While Magic Kingdom has the sense that you're getting your own boat, this one rubs in the fact that some other sweaty rear has been rubbing into your spot, as well as heightening the impatience of both parties as people are eager to get on or off.  I don't know how they keep kids from splashing water out on folks.

Walt Disney World - Magic Kingdom

Starts with a nice covered veranda, which is roped into lines during busy periods.  The line splits in two, each with it's own minor scenes within a Spanish fort.

The unloading area is on a completely differently level than the load, to the point that one has a hard time figuring out how they relate to each other.  As it should be.

Disneyland Paris

Just brilliant.  The American parks have modest exteriors, while Paris almost makes it it's own mini-land fitting the status of one of their best attractions.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Adventures in Self-Publishing: Table of Contents

Almost forgot!

There's a bit more formatting that you'll need to do - add chapter headings.  Even if you don't have an actual table of contents, you'll want to do this to help the reader navigate.  Do yourself a favor and ignore most instructions you'll find online for this, as they are needlessly complicated, even on the official KDP style guide.  Don't use the built in TOC creators in Word.  Don't try to integrate a NCX file.  Don't mess with styles and headers.  This method is the easiest and will cause the least amount of headaches.

Go to where you want your chapter breaks or have your chapter headings and highlight the chapter title or first few words - this is what will show up in the ereader when someone brings up a menu.  Insert a bookmark and name it something that makes sense to you - you won't be able to put in spaces, so CHP1 or ChapterOne, etc.  These are your chapters.

It's a good idea to have a Table of Contents at the front of your book, even if it is just "Chapter 1, Chapter 2" etc.  Just type out the contents in plain text - chapter #s, story titles, whatever, like:

Chapter One - The Dawn Breaketh
Chapter Two - Thus Cometh the Horseman

,etc.  Highlight your first line and click on "Add Hyperlink", then click on the option to choose from within the document.  Your bookmarks should be listed there.  Click on the right one and you have your first link.  Do the same with the rest of the chapters.

For Kindle, put in another bookmark titled "TOC" at the beginning of the Table of Contents.  You don't link to this one, it just helps the ereader software locate it.

That's it.  Just highlight, insert bookmark, highlight, insert hyperlink.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Death Mercenary by Jason Rosencrantz

The Death Mercenary
by Jason Rosencrantz
TNT Books 2014

Imagine a thirteen year old kid that reads a lot of Mack Bolan titles.  Now imagine that he just figured out how to download butt stuff porn from the internet.  Now imagine he opens a KDP account.

Taken in that spirit, you might like the Death Mercenary.  Cheesy, lurid, amateurish, but with its own honest charm.  And just short and cheap enough to be worth the time and money.

The plot - cat lover Calvin Jackson is the Death Mercenary, an assassin who works for the CIA at 10,000 TAX FREE dollars a kill, later changed to $100,000 TAX FREE - I didn't know 13 year olds had to pay taxes.

Mobsters kill a hooker.  The hooker is the sister of one of Jackson's friends, and he promised to protect her.  He's doing a great job so far.  Jackson kills all the gangsters.  He flirts with his cougar boss at the end for way too long, the end.

Not a whole lot of action, as only one guy fights back, but lots of sex, though not quite enough for this to be an attempt at erotica.  Very by-the-numbers.  The mob boss is Don Capone, the lackeys are Gonzo and Rat, the black stud is Jerome Washington, the lawyer is Shelly Silverstein, since Jewy McJewJew was already taken.

All told, though, worth my 99 cents.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Adventures in Self Publishing - Seriously, Don't Spend Any Money

Just read a depressing thread of a guy asking if the company he was about to shell out $4,000+ to package his book was worth it.  He mentioned that a friend did everything himself and spent $40,000.  The comments told him not to spend more than $1,000.

Honestly, I don't think I could spend 40 grand on a book if I tried.  Having a book fail is a soul crushing experience.  Having a book fail and going into debt over it, I can't even comprehend.  Before shelling out any upfront costs ask yourself -  why do you want to publish a book?

If you want to share your story, fluff your ego, be cool, or just have it out there, great.  There are tons of places to give away your book for free at no cost to you.

If you just want to make money there are a billion better things to invest in if you have that kind of cash.  Yes, a handful of folks have made it big self-publishing.  You won't be one of them.  I'm too jealous to look up their success stories, but I'm guessing shelling out a few grand to charlatans was not part of their rise to fame.  From a pure investment point of view it's not a good risk.

Or, if you're like me, you enjoy writing, you like the process of putting a book together, you enjoy the petty thrill of seeing your own work up there on Amazon, you like making enough to treat the family to ice cream once a month, and despite yourself you still hold on to an irrational dream of some day making it big - you can do that on the cheap, free even.

Here are the total expenditures I've made in my illustrious career:

$8 on a prop chain, my only pre-published expense.
~$25 on proof copies, but these are more a gift to myself because it's an awesome feeling, and cheap enough that I'm not being a pathetic schmuck for getting them.
$20 on ten stock photos, my first self-funded expense.

Even those were all optional.  You might counter that my stuff sucks and isn't selling.  True.  But if I sold my car and got a team of pros to work me over, it would still suck, just maybe with fewer typos and a slightly less crappy cover, though seeing the quality of some of these companies, probably not.  And it still wouldn't sell.  Maybe better, but not enough to cover expenses.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Book Creations Inc

Book Creations Inc, also called the novel factory, was set up in 1973 by Lyle Kenyon Engel.  They concentrated on series books and were positioned between authors and publishers.  Engel and his staff would create series characters and farm out assignments to various authors, giving them synopses or outlines.  The works were edited and in house before being sold to publishers under house names.  BCI would split the proceeds 50/50 with the author, and they were involved in the marketing as well.

They seemed to have their best success with historical dramas, but there were a few Men's Adventure series as well, including:

John Eagle: Expeditor
Nick Carter

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Trash Menace authors in ebook

One of my favorite things about ebooks is they allow my favorite (and not so favorite) authors (or their heirs) to keep their backlist in print and at a reasonable price.  Some don't quite get ebooks and price themselves out of the market, while others don't have the rights to particular series characters or have other complications.  Others, sadly, just aren't being reprinted and will languish until they go into public domain or get bootlegged.

Many times the books have been stripped of their series number or title, and almost all have a new (and inferior) cover, so there may be series favorites from the 80s that are hiding under a generic "thriller" packaging.

Below are some of my favorites, to be updated as more become available.  And yes, I want your affiliate percentage.

Jerry Ahern: The author page for Ahern is incomplete, so you'll want to browse by name.  Includes the Survivalist, Defender, the Takers, They Call Me the Mercenary, Surgical Strike.  Too pricey with most at $9.99 each.

David Alexander: Including the Phoenix and Nomad series

Ian Barclay: The Crime Minister

Mike Barry: The Lone Wolf

Chet Cunningham: The Penetrator series isn't here that I could tell, but there are a lot of westerns and stand alones.

George Gilman: Piccadilly western house name for Edge, Steele, and the Undertaker

Lee Goldberg: The Jury series and some TV thing

Donald Hamilton: Matt Helm

William W. Johnstone: There are a billion here, most of them from after he died.  The westerns, recent thrillers, and Ashes garbage fill up most of space here, but it looks like many of his horror books are finally becoming available in 2015.

Len Levinson: The Rat Bastards, the Sergeant, Butler.  His stuff isn't up to date on his author profile, so you'll just want to browse by his name

Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir: The Destroyer - first one is free

Marc Olden: Another one without a good author page.  Includes Black Samurai, Narc, and Harker Files

Don Pendleton: Unfortunately, his stuff is mixed in with the hundreds of later Mack Bolan titles, and there's not a good way to sort out the real Pendleton.

John Russo: This one's hard to sort through, as the author page only has two titles, there are multiple authors with this name, and he has a habit of re-titling his books.  Just look for "From the Author of Night of the Living Dead".

Barry Sadler: Casca, way too pricey at $9.98

Guy N Smith

Randy Striker: The MacMorgan series

Monday, December 1, 2014

Queue Review - Haunted Mansion

The three Haunted Mansion rides and Phantom Manor all follow the same pattern - Mystic Manor in Hong Kong Disneyland is kind of an equivalent ride, but the queue is completely different.

There is an outdoor area, a foyer, the stretching room, and the final queue to the loading area.

Walt Disney World - Magic Kingdom

This one is kind of vanilla.  Nothing outstanding, but nothing offensive either.  A long stretch to the foyer, with a detour to an interactive area.  I'm indifferent to the interactive stuff, but you can skip it entirely, making it inoffensive.  The door to the foyer is usually closed until the stretching room is open, so guests end up marching right through it.  We have the non-elevator stretching room (ceiling goes up) before being released to a short queue in near darkness.

Disneyland Paris - Phantom Manor

The outdoor area is appropriately decrepit, and you get a better feeling that you're entering an actual house.  Paris loves their switchbacks, and there's an ugly mother right there, though it appears to be used for overflow purposes.  This would have rated higher, but I hate their jank stretching room portraits.  Mainly, I don't like how they reveal things in the foreground as opposed to things vertically lower - misses the whole point in my opinion.

Disneyland Tokyo

I like the outdoor area of this one the best - looks like the place is falling apart.  Once you're inside, appears to be about the same as Magic Kingdom.


Well laid out outdoor area, but not spooky enough.  This is my favorite because the stretching room is a real elevator, and the second queuing area is more of a walkthrough attraction than a line.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Adventures in Self Publishing - Formatting

A word about formatting - don't.  That is to say, when people format their books for submission to Amazon's KDP or Smashwords or where ever, it becomes more of an issue of un-formatting what is already there.  Starting with simple text makes life so, so much easier.

I've had formatting issues before and went down the rabbit hole of the KDP forums, which invariably suggest opening it in HTML and messing with the CSS code and a bunch of other things that will make things a million times worse.  Just don't.  A simple .doc or .docx file will be better.

The first thing you should keep in mind is that you will lose almost all aesthetic control when publishing for ereaders.  The ereader, the reader software, and the human reading it can adjust the font, the size, all kinds of things.  I know there are some OCD folks that want the words to show up just so, but sorry, it doesn't work that way.

If you intend to do all the fancy layout jazzamatazz for the hard copies, do yourself a favor and start with a clean, simple file in .doc for the ebook.  I use Google Docs and Open Office myself.  Word works, but it can add unnecessary coding.

Have one master file, then separate files if there are changes per venue (one for Amazon, one for Smashwords, one for Lulu, whatever).  Then if you make any changes later, you know which file is the most current.

Do your basic formatting (or unformatting) before your final edit, so you can check for things while you're going through the text anyway.

You may have written in various different files and combined them later.  Even if you use the same program with the same defaults, there always seems to be a difference in style between them.  You want it to be consistent throughout the document, so hit your ctrl-A and make the font and font size the same.

You'll want to left justify or align.  Justifying on both sides doesn't look good on ereaders.  You can center, but since the margins are so narrow, unless the text is very short, you might not be able to tell.

Here is the biggest mistake I see (and made) - never, never, never use tab to indent.  If you have already used tab, or even if you haven't, go through and delete all of them.  Look here for tips on that.  What happens is that ereaders read tabs as distinct from indention, and some ereaders set their own indention.  So what happens is you get double or triple indention randomly through the text.  After your tabs are gone, hit ctrl A, then go to paragraph styles and set the indent option for "First line" between .25 to .33.

On a similar note, don't try to use double indents for a block quote or something similar.  With the margins so narrow, you end up pushing all the text to one side and get maybe one word per line.  A lot of poets hate ereaders for this reason.

There are a couple of things that are particular to ebooks.  Many authors put an extra line between paragraphs, kind of like I'm doing here.  Also, make use of the page break at the ends of sections or chapters, which is usually ctrl enter.  In ereaders, this ends one section and you have to turn the page for the next, regardless of how long the text is.

Basic stuff like bold, italics, and underline is fine.  While you can't control font size, you can usually control relative size, so you can have chapter headings larger if you want.

If you start out with a pretty clean copy, you shouldn't have any issue just uploading the .doc file.  Smashwords has what they call the "meatgrinder", which takes your word file and spits it out into multiple formats, and it's a bit more particular with extra formatting.  Even if you strip it out, often the code lingers.  This is when you go nuclear.

If all else fails, there the nuclear option to strip out your formatting.  Copy (ctrl c) all the text, and paste it into something like Notepad or Wordpad.  Save that as a .txt file, close it, reopen it, then copy and paste it back to where you want to proof it (Google Docs, Word, Open Office).  This will strip all the formatting, even the stuff you wanted to keep, so you'll need to go through and add your page breaks, bolds, etc.  If you're starting out with a heavily formatted proof copy, you might want to start with this step and add your formatting back in while you proofread.

Above all, there is no reason to pay anybody to do this.  If you create and/or proof in an ebook friendly format, you don't even have to spend any extra time formatting.  And frankly, you'll probably do a better job than the "professionals".  These days, most authors will have an ecopy of their book, but there are services that will take a paperback, OCR the text, format it, and give it to you to submit.  I'm sure some of these are good services, but as a reader I've seen some turkeys.  When every letter I turns into a ! for two chapters, this is profound sloppiness on their part to not even do a basic spell check.

In summary, start with a stripped down version with minimal formatting, get rid of tabs and indent with paragraph styles, do it yourself.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Along with Shock Chamber, this is another one that I've been trying to find for decades.  I was hampered in assuming it was Canadian.  Specifically, the short "Something Fishy", which I think was presented by itself to pad out Saturday Nightmares.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Shock Chamber aka Greedy Terror

And we're back:

Some dads sit their kids down and have talks about the birds and the bees, religion, the meaning of life.  Mine had to have a talk with me about Canadian tax shelters after I asked him why someone could make something so bad and still try to call it a movie.  Pretty sure I watched it on USA's Saturday Nightmares.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Name That Movie

I've managed to find most of the weird film and movie images that haunted my childhood, but a few have continued to elude me.  One involves a woman being handcuffed to a grate at the bottom of a pool.  I think it was a hotel pool with lots of bystanders, and it was likely a TV cop/mystery show from the late 70s, early 80s.  It isn't the Killing Hour.

I haven't found the movie, but I have found a deviantart manga tag with the same theme.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Queue Review - Tower of Terror

All four of the Tower of Terror queues have the same basic structure - line to heavily themed hotel lobby, guests are brought by groups into the library for a pre-show, then another line to the elevators.

Disneyland Paris - La Tour de la Terreur - Un Saut dans la Quatrième Dimension

Disneyland Paris and Disneyland are almost identical.  The entrance abuts directly to the walkway, with switchbacks sprouting off to the sides.  For some reason, I get a bad vibe from the facade in Paris - too much fakey purple wear and tear.

Disney California Adventure - The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Much the same as above.  One advantage these two have over Disney World's is that you get a better chance to see the theming in the lobby.

Walt Disney World - Disney's Hollywood Studios - Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

This one wins for best outdoors area.  The lobby is well done, but there is an issue with line timing here.  There is only a few feet of line before guests are hurried forward to the area by the library doors, so there is very little time to check everything out.

Tokyo DisneySea - Tower of Terror

Not much of an outdoor area, but this one wins best facade.

This one has a different premise, that of a cursed explorer, so the preshow is completely different - a cast member makes an introduction and winds up a gramophone, which is awesome.

I couldn't find a lot of footage of it, but DisneySea's really shines in second line.  The second line is in a dingy boiler room in the other three versions - true to theme, but boring.  Here we have a two story walk through various items our explorer host has collected, mostly Egyptian stuff.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Down the rabbit hole  

Blog posts will be getting rather thin for the next month as I participate in National Novel Writing Month, in which participants attempt to write a 50,000 word rough draft in one month.

This will be my first attempt at a novel in almost fifteen years.  I intend to cannibalize every idea I had in Junior High and pad out the rest with sex scenes.  It's going to make a million dollars.

Clownwatch - France Stands Up to Clowns

Fake clown attacks put French police on alert and trigger vigilante response

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Academy (aka Day Care) by John Russo

The Academy (Originally Day Care)
by John Russo
1985 Pocket Books / 2014 Burning Bulb Publishing

Too Much Horror Fiction
Students at an exclusive academy get brain implants as part of a secret government program.  Someone has discovered how to manipulate the implants, and uses this knowledge to fulfill his own twisted desire for sex and violence.  A lot of the background comes from the real life work of Dr. Jose Delgaldo.

John Russo once again has an apparent stand-in character, a commercial director who dreams of supporting himself with his writing and is in a bitter divorce with his overbearing wife.  There's that nasty undercurrent of unpleasant sleaziness present in all of Russo's works, and a titch of gore this time.

Along with many of Russo's books, they've been recently made available in affordable Kindle editions.  This one was "updated" and renamed - a record is called a "CD" before going back to being a record, and a specific date is changed.  But we've still got dial-up hacking, home computers are new and expensive, there's a "home video box", and the idea of a woman doctor is a novelty - sounds dated by even 1985's standards.  I think they would have been better off just keeping the original setting, as the entire story has issues if it's set in 2014.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Queue Review - Splash Mountain


The overflow seems to snake along outside of the ride.  This one gives me PTSD, so last place.

Walt Disney World - Magic Kingdom

The overflow here snakes around it's own little area, plus there's a neat effect with a shadow of a frog or something.

Tokyo Disneyland

Can't find any footage except for this animatronic owl, so winner

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Adventures in Self-Publishing - Proofing and Editing

I'm skipping the whole "how to write" thing, you're on your own there. The roles of various copy editors, proofreaders, and the like confuse me, and I also don't use them. I know I suck, and I'm not going to pay someone else to tell me I suck. At the bare bones proofing level there are things like punctuation, spelling, grammar, etc. Stuff that should give you colored squiggly lines when you look at it. You can do this yourself, but spellcheck isn't enough. If you're super serious, you hire a proofer, find alpha readers, get friends to check it out, but if you're a broke misanthrope (aka, a writer), you won't do those things.

Here's what I do. I use the spell and grammar checks from multiple plug ins in Open Office to find the obvious stuff. Obvious misspellings can be missed on a read through. It won't catch everything. Do you have a habit of mixing up your and you're? Its and it's? So does everyone else. Do a search and double check every instance - it won't take long. Unsure of the rule? Just google "its vs it's" or whatever and figure it out. Read the damn thing, preferably a while after you wrote it. Take notes for continuity. That express elevator needs to stop on a floor in the middle, better fix that. Is his name Zach or Zack? Better do a search and replace.

Other people will tell you what to do on your third and twentieth draft - do that if you like, Proust, but your steampunk shifter erotica won't get any better. Check for continuity of style, again with the find feature. OK, ok, or okay - doesn't matter, just make it consistent. Decide you like dashes instead of ellipses? Change all of them.

Editing is something different. An editor addresses story concerns, not just the typing. A lot of it has to do with pacing, and in practice an editor tells an author to throw away half of the material. The sucky half. The Tom Bombadil half. This might apply more to your 200,000 word epic fantasy than your 15,000 word masked vigilante short, but a good editor will make you a better writer, and you will hate them for it. But we're not talking about how to make your writing better. We're talking about getting your crappy writing published. You do want it to be polished as possible the first time, and don't EVER submit an unfinished or first draft version. EVER. EVER. If you find a mistake later you can update the file, so don't panic, but the version you submit should be the version you're ready for the world to ignore.  A shocking number of people hit "submit" first, then do their spellchecking. Don't do that.

Next up, a little about formatting.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Torturer by Peter Saxon

The Torturer
by Peter Saxon (Wilfred McNeilly)
1966 Paperback Library

Classic film-crew-in-peril piece, shockingly similar to Bloody Pit of Horror.

Said film crew sets up in an abandoned Spanish castle and unwittingly revive a hundreds year old dead Count who was an adept in an Aztec death cult.  A masochistic director with a sadistic nympho wife, a lecherous Spanish funder, and a rapist Irishman fill out the victims.  Luckily the film's writer is an ordained priest, so he's able to do some Jesus magic, although the castle seems to have caught on fire by accident.

The British style of writing took some getting used to, but it ended up being more nasty and entertaining than it lets on at first.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Where to get pulp - more free stuff

I forgot about places to get complete scans of old pulp magazines:

There's the Pulp Magazine Archive at - don't try to get anything except the scans (epub, mobi, txt, etc) - the OCR on these is less than useless.

The Pulp Magazines Project

I'm constantly reading about digital archive projects at various universities, but I have yet to run across anything one can just click and download.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Phantom Detectve 107 - Murder Moon Over Miami

Murder Moon Over Miami
by Laurence Donovan
Phantom Detective 107 - January 1942

Murderous bandits roam the waters of Florida's bays and swamps, killing immigrants that they smuggle in and blackmailing a judge to find hidden stolen goods.  But mostly, the Phantom and company dog paddle around boats in various states of being blown up.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Clive Barker on What's Up With Dr. Ruth

1989 was a weird year.  Dr. Ruth could have her own show on Nickelodeon, but Clive Barker had to stay in the closet.  From memory, when they came back from break, Dr. Ruth, the sexologist with no gaydar, asked Barker if being scary kept him from getting girls.  I recall him giving her a little patronizing smile before giving a gender-neutral response.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Adventures in Self Publishing - An introduction

Vanity presses were once a sad case of vultures feeding off dying dreams. An aspiring author would spend thousands, and if they were lucky would end up with a case of unsold hardcovers in their garage. Traditional publishing was not much better. I once got a letter in response from an agent, saying my novel had potential but could use a professional eye. Note that I had not so much as sent them a sample chapter by this point. Soon after, I got a letter from a "script doctor" offering his services, from the same address. He even called me, sounding exactly like a cartoon mobbed up con artist on my answering machine. I never got far enough to have a legitimate publisher take 90% of the take. Modern self publishing is easy and painless, and should also be mostly free. Sadly, the vultures are still out in force. While there are legitimate services (proofing, editing, formatting, cover design), there are also a ton of marketing scams, from fake twitter followers to fake Amazon reviewers. I mention this because there's no reason one's broken dreams of being a famous writer should also punish one's bank account. The one thing that traditional publishing has over self publishing is that a traditional publisher won't bother to print you if you suck. The people that do make it tend to suck, and the ones that don't suck even worse. Not to be rude, but lets just start there. Your book sucks, and you suck for writing it. I don't suck. I'm writing in a genre that is in a downturn, I don't have proper promotion, I haven't been given the right break, the Goodreads mafia doesn't like me, I'm still establishing my brand, and maybe I should go ahead and spend $500 bucks for that sidebar ad. No, I suck, just like you suck. We won't get rich self-publishing. People I know that consider themselves successful cover part of their utility bill with their writing. The numbers are even sadder. Amazon has this delightful self-worth meter called Author Rank, which will replace alcoholism as the main contributing factor to authors' suicides in the years to come. I hover around 800,000-1,000,000, because I suck. If I sell one single copy, I jump up to around 200,000 before sliding down again. Selling one copy sucks, but I'm still doing better than 4/5ths of the titles out there. There are only around a couple hundred self-published authors on all of Amazon that make enough to live on. You won't be one of them. You will be one of the other hundreds of thousands. The ones that suck. And it's a wonderful time to suck. Teenage boys sitting on couches make millions on YouTube. Twilight fanfic sells millions. Any amateur idiot can get on the exact same platform as the professional idiots. Temper your expectations, and there are still wonderful rewards. The first $2 direct deposit from Amazon. Reaching double digits in a very specific category during free promotions. Opening the box with your proof copy from Create Space that you got for less than $10. I can't help you stop sucking, but I can share what I've learned along the way. Self publishing can be intimidated, but once you've got it down, you can go from your proofed copy to being submitted online in a single evening. And there's no reason to spend a dime on it.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Where to get pulp - paid stuff

One of my favorite imprints is Altus Press - they have affordable ebook collections for pulp heroes, adventurers, and detective characters, including the Green Lama, Secret Agent X, Doctor Death, Thunder Jim Wade, the Black Bat, Ki-Gor, the Secret Six, the Purple Scar, the Hooded Detective, and more.  One minor caveat - when getting a "complete" or "collected" volume, check out the page length or story count so you know what you're getting.  I know I've become spoiled living in a world where you can get the collected HP Lovecraft or Jules Verne for 99 cents, but they're still a great value, with the lowest per-page cost here.  Most of the older stuff is $4.99 at Amazon, but lately the prices have gone up to $9.99 before recently coming back down to $7.99.

Radioarchives is another favorite, selling $2.99 ebook editions of several pulp heroes - The Spider, Operator #5, Dusty Ayres, Captain Future, G-8 and his Battle Aces, as well as a zillion Weird Menace titles.  A little more expensive per page, but way cheaper than a lot of the criminally priced reprints I've seen.  They also have 99 cent singles, but they're not as good as a value in my opinion.  Also available at Amazon.

Ramblehouse has a nice collection of Weird Menace, the only downside is that most titles are only available through the site and require paypal.  Also, ignore the covers.

Wildside Press is best known for their cheap megapacks.  Black Dog Books has a few.  Black Coat Press has a lot of translated French stuff.

Moving into the high rent district, we have Haffner Press, which has fancy hardback editions that seem to sell out way too fast, mostly of science fiction.  Still a decent per-story value.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Earworm - The Drums - I Felt So Stupid

There's evidently a Hipster Post-Punk Generator app for the iPhone.  This one is set on the Wake and it turned out well.  The rest, not so much.  It helps if you don't look at them.

I was going to make fun of Operator Please sounding like the B-52s, but I listened to them and they're not that interesting.  So I am officially better at snarky music reviewing than BBC radio.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Spectors 2 - Silverado by Logan Winters

Spectros 2 (1st for Tower)
by Logan Winters
1981 Tower Books

The least weird Weird West I've seen, and a real missed opportunity.  Dr. Strange, I mean Spectros, was shanghaied years ago and ended up in a monastery in the Himalayas.  He was betrothed to the lovely Kirstina before she was kidnapped by Baron Mordo, I mean Blackschuster.

And that's our back story, in not many more words than that.  Now, decades later, Blackschuster keeps Kristina in suspended animation in a glass coffin, while Dr. Spectros chases him with his various companions: womanizing gunfighter Ray Featherskill, giant mute Montak, eastern moor Inkada, and his horse Khamsin.

Dr. Spectros has exactly two spells.  He can turn into young gunfighter Kid Soledad which he does off page in a completely unspectacular manner.  As in "Dr. Spectros is sleeping in the wagon, but I'm here now, somehow," or "I'll tell you the truth now, I am also Dr. Spectros, but I changed a little while ago."

He can also change into an animal in an equally unspectacular manner.  In one scene he becomes a cougar, possibly while also being Kid Soledad - the scene is a titch ambiguous.  Later he becomes a kestrel to stop an Indian uprising.

And that's the grand sum of all things supernatural in Silverado.  There's kind of a plot, but mostly we've just got people talking about going places, going places, and other people talking about who went where.

There's something about a tapped out silver mine that Blackschuster needs to keep up his supply of silver for his alchemy, but that gets abandoned for a bank robbery that turns out to be a distraction for, well I didn't really catch that either.  Spectros doesn't even show up for the denouement that has Blackschuster running off - without Kristina, who's also been forgotten about.

A shame, because it's pretty well written, it just doesn't have a lot going on and doesn't make use of its premise.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Belabored Explanation Theater - CBSRMT 98 The Phantom Lullaby

A girl, fresh from a broken romance and abortion from an older widower, moves into a haunted apartment.  She begins to speak French and talks about a phantom toddler.  What's the connection to her estranged lover, the one with a dead wife and child?  I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll just let them explain it to you for a solid ten minutes.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Where to get pulp - free stuff

For public domain stuff, you can try Project Gutenberg and its Australian counterpart, though you need to know what author you're looking for.

Likewise with Librivox, which is basically the audio version of Gutenberg.

Pulpgen has an excellent collection, although the search interface isn't the best.  All files are in pdf.

Munsey's is another good place, though not as updated as it used to be.  There's a wide variety of formats for each story.

There are a lot of good collections on Mobileread - do a search under "omnibus".

Friday, October 10, 2014

Earworm - Black Kids - That one Black Kids song

Nostalgia and its homages comes in stages.  Popular, played out, out of date, ironically out of date, kitschy, nostalgic, classic.  The next few earworms will be out of date music that is in itself a tribute/knock off of music currently in nostalgic mode.  Most of these are one-hit wonders, a few may have larger playlists but the rest of it sucks enough for me not to care.

First up - a tribute act for happy Cure songs, specifically from 1992's Wish, more specifically from the single High, and to be specific, the scatting.  The cheerleading is not from the Cure, but I seem to remember a lot of that going around in 2008.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Movie Myths - O Fortuna and the Omen

Humphrey Bogart never said "Play it Again, Sam."  Charles Boyer never said "Come with me to the Casbah".  And O Fortuna from Carmina Burana, also know as the Omen theme -

was not in any of the Omen movies.  Instead, there was a kind of similar but not really original score by Jerry Goldsmith.  The vibe is similar, but you couldn't confuse the two.

In fact, unless you count Salo and Natural Born Killers (which I don't), the only horror feature it's ever been used in that I could find is 2002's miserable Thai film 999-999.  How did the piece become associated as a horror movie cliche, and specifically as the theme song of the antichrist?

Hard to say.  It's been used plenty of times in a non-horrific, dramatic context, probably most notably in Excalibur.  Like most of these kinds of things, the association probably comes from parody - commercials, comedy skits, etc.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Author Overview - John Russo

John Russo, as you will be reminded on the cover of every book listed below, is the author of Night of the Living Dead, which he kind of was, and he's milking that for everything it's worth.  In addition to his fiction, he's written non-fiction, scripts, comics, and been involved in multiple film projects.

His fiction, at least what I've read, has an emphasis on character studies which sometimes drags on to padding, occasional meandering storylines, and some sleazy elements.  He manages more creepiness than thrills.

Recently he's been making his work available for ebook at reasonable prices.  About half of the below are available on Kindle Unlimited as well.

1974: Night of the Living Dead
1977: Return of the Living Dead
1979: Majorettes
1980: Midnight - my review
1981: Limb to Limb - my review
1982: Bloodsisters
1982: Black Cat
1983: The Awakening
1985: Day Care - updated and enhanced as The Academy
1985: Return of the Living Dead (Novelization version)
1986: Inhuman
1987:Voodoo Dawn
1988: Living Things
1995: Hell's Creation
2011: Channel 666 in The Big Book of Bizarro Horror Collection
2013: Escape from the Living Dead (novelization of the comic)
2013: Murder, Mayhem, Mystery (short stories)
2014: Dealey Plaza
2014?: The Booby Hatch - movie originally from 1976