Monday, June 30, 2014

You Can Have Cheap - The Aggressive Mexican Vendors of Walt Disney World Part 2

You Can Have Cheap - The Aggressive Mexican Vendors of Walt Disney World Part 2

World Showcase at EPCOT has two rides.  Both celebrate the history and culture of their country, and both end with depressing modern realities.

Maelstrom shows us that the seas of Norway were once sailed by Vikings seeking adventure, and are now littered with stark oil rigs.

El Rio Del Tiempo (now home to Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros) takes us from the heights of Mayan civilization to this:

More on the pavilion's history from, of course, Martin Smith -

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Richard Laymon - One Rainy Night

One Rainy Night
by Richard Laymon
1991 Headline

Black rain makes the residents of a small town go crazy and rape and kill each other.  That's it.  Like you need anything more.

Laymon keeps things moving here and just switches scenes when things start to run aground.  There are several sets of survivors - a babysitter and her charge, parents in a restaurant, a cop and two citizens, and some rapey teenage boys.

Laymon doesn't get too hung up on the causes or the "rules" like a lot of these things do, though he does get wrapped up in admin at times.  There are several scenes of survivors changing into scavenged clothes, and every single article is described in detail.

Also present is his creepy juvenile sexuality, with characters being distracted by boobs in the middle of a massacre.

Luckily the internal monologues are mostly absent, and Laymon actually manages some suspenseful moments.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

TV Horror Anthology - Freddy's Nightmares

First off, this show is horrible.  Just bad.  Cheap, poorly written, and poorly acted.  If you like Freddy, he's not in it enough.  If you hate Freddy for single-handedly destroying the horror film for over a decade, seeing him as a Cryptkeeper knock off won't improve your opinion of him.

Having said that, there is a certain charm to it.  It has the same sleazy vibe as other syndicated horror series of the late 80s, like Friday the 13th and War of the Worlds.  Strangely, while in the theater Freddy's yucking it up, here he's explicitly a child molester in addition to a child killer, something the R rated movies avoided.

Freddy isn't in most of the stories, and when he does appear it's a badly done double.  I think Englund only showed up for the promos.

Instead of Freddy, we get two Tales from the Crypt/Darkside/whatever type stories to stretch it out to an hour's length.  Unusually, and possibly uniquely, the two stories are related.  Sometimes they just segue with a minor character bridging them, in others the two stories intertwine for several minutes.

I didn't look super hard, but about the only place you can watch this is on the channel Chiller.  No YouTube, no Netflix, no Amazon.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Don't Fake the Steamfunk

As you'll recall, the -punk suffix means "modern fiction written to emulate the science fiction written in the past".  It has nothing to do with Richard Hell.  The -funk suffix in the same context means "see above, only with black folk".

Some of it is straightforward new pulp or fill-in-the-blank-punk with black characters.  Some deal with social issues of the time period, unlike mainstream steampunk which tends to idealize the past, but from what I've seen politics takes a back seat to action and entertainment.

Some authors mix in fantasy elements from both Africa and the American south, or use historical and folk characters like Harriet Tubman and John Henry.

A related genre is Sword and Soul - think Conan, but set in a mythical Africa of the past.

Some names to look for - Charles R. Saunders, Milton Davis, Balogun Ojetade, and Valjeanne Jeffers

Monday, June 23, 2014

You Can Have Cheap - The Aggressive Mexican Vendors of Walt Disney World Part 1

You Can Have Cheap - The Aggressive Mexican Vendors of Walt Disney World Part 1

Until they were replaced by cheap prescriptions and meth superlabs, one of the main tourist attractions for Mexico were the vendors of various handmade goods.  And, as they were represented in a couple of Walt Disney World rides, they were a touch pushy.

Let's begin our fiesta fun flight with If You Had Wings, a long form Airline commercial that went through four different incarnations.  It was later replaced by Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, which kept the same track layout.  I've skipped ahead to the scene in question:

And here from the soundtrack:

You want buy a sombrero 
made of real fine straw? 
Or how 'bout a nice handbag
For your pretty mama? 
You can have cheap
Have cheap, Have cheap, Have cheap
You'll notice that the actual ride doesn't have the "cheap" chorus, but rather goes back to "If you had wings".  I don't know if there were changes, or if they recorded that segment and you only have time to hear the first bit before the omnimover vehicle passed by,.

The vendor stayed after Eastern Airlines dropped its sponsorship and the ride was changed to If You Can Fly from 1987 to 1989.

The only change was the song, which is just horrible.  I've seen collections of every obscure piece of Disney ride and background music, and NOBODY has bothered to track this one down.

More on the ride itself from Martin Smith -

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Frankie Goes to Hollywood Video Game

I guess when you couldn't come up with a concept for your tie-in video game, you just went with the "wander around a house grabbing stuff" template

Friday, June 20, 2014

Earworm: Soft Cell Had Other Songs

Quite a few, actually.

You'll thank me for not going with the one with Marc Almond in a gimp suit.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Steampunks, Get Off the Grass

I like Victorian era science fiction.  I like some modern day science fiction in the same style.  I dig retrofutrism.  I hate steampunk.

Maybe that's too harsh.  The actual movies, books, and general aesthetic I enjoy.  What gets under my skin is steampunk as some kind of subculture, specifically how I hear about its "rising popularity" every couple of years.

The first thing that annoys me is the "-punk" suffix.  It made some sense when originally used in cyberpunk, but it's spiraled into meaninglessness, kind of like how all indie bands were in some obscure "-core" genre.  It kind of fit with splatterpunk, but decopunk should not be a word.  Dieselpunk sounded stupid and obscure until I figured out it meant "Sci-fi from and set in the 1920-40s, but written today".  Then you get your stonepunk (caveman days), clockpunk (Renaissance), atompunk (1950s-60s).  I would make a joke about nowpunk, but neologist Bruce Sterling beat me to it.  Instead I'd like to introduce my series of science fiction about hackers on the fringes of society that have implants in their brains that allow them to interface directly with computer networks, written in the style of 1980s books by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling.  I'll call it cyberpunkpunk.  If that isn't already a thing, it will be.

Such things are largely meaningless in the 21st Century, but there is nothing edgy about steampunk.  Disney embraced it at Disneyland Paris back in 1992 while hipsters and nerds found out about it with 1999's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the same year Will Smith's Wild Wild West came out.  It was uncool long before it was cool.

Bleeding Edge!

Meanwhile, steampunk has spun off into some weird directions.  There's a collection of steampunk Sarah Palin cheesecake and more than one steampunk mime band.

Mainly it gives me bad flashbacks to some of the idiots that embraced cyberpunk a couple decades ago.  I knew a guy that had a tall stack of issues of 2600.  He would go through the dumpster in the back of Radio Shack, take apart old calculators, and sew circuit boards into his jacket.  He did not own a computer.  There was also a guy that would show up places in a full blown Borg outfit.  These people were idiots.  As is the guy in a waistcoat that held up my bus this morning because he kept missing the coin slot because he couldn't see through his welding goggles.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Real Evil - "Ghost" Rapists of Bolivia

In Bolivia, in Manitoba Colony, there is a group of Mennonites (similar to Amish), who reported several attacks on women between 2005 and 2009.  The women were attacked in their sleep, with only hazy dreams instead of memories.  Originally the rapes were blamed on imagination, ghosts, and demons, despite physical evidence left behind.

Eventually, a gang of Mennonite men were arrested and convicted of the attacks.  They used an anesthetizing spray obtained from a veterinarian and sprayed their victim's houses to knock out entire families before attacking - shades of the Mad Gasser of Mattoon.

More from Vice

Monday, June 16, 2014

Getting Meta - Mission Space

Getting Meta - Mission Space

I've stopped playing a few video games at the point that I have my character enter some kind of virtual reality simulation.  My instant reaction is that what's going on isn't real and there are no consequences.  This is, of course, a completely accurate statement towards playing video games in the first place, but I don't like to be reminded of it.

So, Mission Space.  It replaced Horizons at Epcot, but it's also more of an update to the classic Mission to Mars, it self updated from Rocket to the Moon and Flight to the Moon.  Take a look at the original and see how it's done properly:

The only effect you can't see in the video is that the seats sunk down to simulate the g-forces of acceleration.  Not the most thrilling attractions, and by the 80s it was outdated to the point of needing to be either revamped or replaced.  But it did have one neat thing, or at least neat to a little kid:

You got to pretend to go to Mars.

So, Mission Space.  So close to Mission to Mars that people still mix the names up more than twenty years after the original closed.  Instead of a theater, guests sit in an actual spinning centrifuge, or a stationary centrifuge for the tamer, less likely to kill you version.

Here is the script.

So, we're not actually going to Mars, of course.

Nor are we pretending to go to Mars.

We might be pretending to go on a training mission in a futuristic spaceship, the X-2, but we're not.

We're pretending we're in the future (2036 to be exact) and pretending that we're entering a simulation of travelling through space.  Meanwhile, in real life, we actually are going into a simulation of traveling through space.

The scripts are a bit hazy in parts, but they're very clear that nobody is going to Mars, pretend or otherwise.  Some issues:
  • The pre-show implies that we're going to board an actual (or at least pretend) X-2 Deep Space Shuttle.
  • The pre-boarding spiel refers to it as the X-2 flight trainers.  The green team spiel is even clearer - "X-2 Flight Trainer that produces the sensation of a flight through space".  So we're not even pretending to take the X-2 on a training run.
  • The script constantly mentions how you're training for the first mission to Mars, and how elite this mission is.  But to be clear, you are not going on (or pretending to go on) the first mission to mars, only training for it.  And the elite mission is not the one you're going on, its one that you're training for.
  • If we're only on a simulator for a future trip to Mars, why do we need to do this from the imaginary future?  Why send us halfway to imagining we're going on a trip to Mars, only to pop our bubble and stress that it's a simulated training mission.  We could have a modern day Gary Sinise just say "Spin around like an astronaut in training, maybe one day we'll go to Mars" 
I'm struggling to come up with any reason why "a futuristic simulation of a training mission" was picked over a straight out "you're going to Mars".  Some possible stupid reasons might be:
  • to explain why a regular tourist is piloting a ship to Mars.  First off, I don't think any guest is so insecure that they're thinking "I'm not qualified to pretend to fly to Mars.  I can only handle pretending to be on a training simulator".  Also, this would be a brilliant time to pull out the patented Disney "something goes wrong" bit, like Space Camp or Far Out Space Nuts.

  • to explain why there's no return trip, like the original Mission to Mars.  But they could have had a return trip, or theme the post-show area to be a base on Mars.
  • to explain why the in-ride video looks so horrible.  This one is a titch more plausible, as the video doesn't cut it for a realistic view of a space flight.  For that matter, it doesn't cut it for a ride that cost $100,000,000.

As an aside, to make the pre-show narrative even clunkier, they had to have lines to spackle over a plot hole which doesn't even matter.  This is the first mission...sorry...this is a simulation of a training mission for the first landing on Mars, so why does it appear that there is already a base there?  Sinise has a line about robotic teams setting up the landing zone, but since it's only a simulation why does it even - 

- deep breaths, crystal blue persuasion - 

If anyone can fill me in on why they didn't just go with "You're flying to Mars, please don't die", please let me know.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Saturday the 14th

Richard Benjamin was like a poor man's Jeff Goldblum, before Goldblum became box office gold in the 90s.

There was a sequel, which was perversely not called Sunday the 15th.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Victim City Stories Issue 1 Free Friday and Saturday

This Friday the 13th (and Saturday the 14th), try your luck with a free kindle copy of Victim City Stories Issue 1.  

In this teeth grinding installment you’ll unveil -

The Bleeding Skull searches for a missing college student, but what he uncovers will shock even the citizens of Victim City.  Thrill to the adventure of The Chains That Bind, The Skull That Bleeds

Teenagers push all the limits and break all the rules at a party weekend in an abandoned lake house, but there are some lines you can't uncross.  Cringe to sex slasher shame in Beer Bong Bloodbath

When someone tries to play a deadly game with George Murdam, the Murder Man plays rough.  Recoil from the crime horror of Violation: Red Holes

No word is wasted bringing you the best in pulp action
No nerve is untouched unveiling the worst in crime depravity
No line is uncrossed giving you a frank look at what happens behind closed doors

You’ll find it all in Victim City, the town that fear calls home.

Connect with us at:

If you like what you read, leave us a review on Amazon, let us know at or @vcstoryhouse, and get a free ebook of Issue 2.  Details here.

Earworm: Stephen Tin Tin Duffy - Kiss Me

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Author Overview - Richard Laymon

Richard Laymon began his horror career with 1980s The Cellar and produced some 50 novels and tons of short stories before his untimely death in 2001.  I'd only heard of him relatively recently - for some reason he missed his place with other 80s horror paperback greats, though he reportedly found more success in England than in his native US.

His books are known for their over the top sex and violence, but it's the way he does it that stands out.  While other authors seem to relish pushing or crossing boundaries like a rebellious child, with Laymon it's more like he innocently didn't know these boundaries existed.  Like he didn't know you're supposed to have the child rape happen off page, or that it's silly to have the women fleeing said child rapist hook up with a hit man at a house where monster's live.

This is a good thing.  There's all the gore and depravity of your typical splatterpunk outing, but it's more matter of fact than in your face.

This is Laymon at his best.  At his worst, there are hundreds of pages of padded out interior monologues of annoying people.  The characters are supposed to be annoying, or petty, or in frustrating situations, but he just goes on and on.  This seems to get worse further down his career, if the trajectory of his Beast House Chronicles is any indication.  By the last installment, there is hundred pages of a guy wanting to ditch his girlfriend and ask out a tour guide for every one page of monster penis biting (that's a monster with a penis that bites, not a monster that bites penises).

With the monologues comes another Laymon standby - juvenile sexuality.  A lot of voyeurism and copping sneaky feels, not so much actual doing it.  This is perfectly at home in this setting, and supports his atmosphere of being innocent and depraved at the same time.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Manitou - Graham Masterton

The Manitou
by Graham Masterton
1976 Pinnacle Books

A woman has a tumor on the back of her neck that ends up being the quickly developing fetus of an Indian shaman from hundreds of years ago.  It takes our phony fortune telling protagonist half the novel to figure this out, via trips to the library and talking to various experts.  This is how narratives were padded out before Google.

Phony fortune teller gets a modern Indian to do a magic showdown in the hospital and stuff finally gets going.  There was an obscure little film in the 70s that had a similar situation involving priests and possessions - I had forgotten the title, but luckily Masterton reminded me it was the frickin' Exorcist.  This kind of stuff is bad enough on the back cover, but if it's 3/4ths into the book, they've bought the damn thing already.

Now things finally get moving, with demons and spirits and orderlies being turned inside out and cops being frozen and chopped into pieces.  Luckily there's lots of exposition and repeating exposition to other characters to slow things down.

I'm not sure if this would have worked as a short story, but there needed to be something other than research and exposition to fill out the non-"tearing bodies to pieces" parts out, a subplot or something.
Since we're dealing with magic, and we've ridden the crazy train this far, I don't blame the silly and rushed ending.  A quick and fun read, but even at it's short length it feels padded.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Cuckoo on a Choo Choo

Widely considered the worst Three Stooges short, and certainly the strangest.

Monday, June 9, 2014

RIP Rik Mayall

The Young Ones gets all the attention, but my personal favorite is Filthy, Rich and Catflap:

Also good was the earlier Kevin Turvey Investigates:

Getting Meta - Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater

Getting Meta - Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater

While not best food by a long shot, probably the best themed restaurants in Disney are at Hollywood Studios.  Some are themed to the concept of classic Hollywood, like the Hollywood Brown Derby, while others stay in the studio concept, like the ABC Commissary.
"Mommy, I want to pretend I'm a soap opera extra while I eat chicken nuggets"
                                         - No Child Ever
A favorite is the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, themed to a 1950s drive-in movie theater.  Or rather, a soundstage of a 1950s drive-in movie theater.  Described by The Imagineering Field Guide to Disney's Hollywood Studios as a "faux outdoor setting clearly mounted on a soundstage".  Clearly.  Clearly, people.
So you're not pretending to eat at a drive-in movie, you're pretending to eat at a movie set of a drive-in movie, as if that was ever a thing.  It would be less confusing, and fit the park concept better, to just have it be a pretend drive-in movie, as the drive-in is just a much a part of classic Hollywood as the Brown Derby.  People also eat at drive-ins, as opposed to soundstages.  The bare wooden frames and a few props in that awkward walkway just leaves guests thinking they just didn't bother to theme this part.

More pics at

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Chikara recap

Chikara was shut down June 2013 and came back May 2014.  In the meantime we've had the related "Wrestling Is..." promotion, a Youtube series, a feature film re-edit of the basically the same free Youtube series, and the official recap on the Chikara website.

None of which bothered with explaining why Chikara was shut down and how it came back.

Until this:

To recap: an evil corporation owns Chikara, and the son of that owner is jerky booker Wink Vavasseur.  Wink pisses people off, who in turn reveal that the parent company of the evil corporation is building a white supremacist training camp.  Chikara is shut down to keep this quiet.

So the pretend corporation is evil for pretend shutting down Chikara, but Mike Quackenbush is an innovative genius for shutting down Chikara in real life.

Icarus rushes his hinted at face turn and goes around standing at places to get Chikara back.  However, none of the wrestlers have anything to do with Chikara's return.  Chikara superfans go on a scavenger hunt, discovering documents exposing the training camp, and the corporation sells Chikara at auction to wash their hands of it.  Who bought it?  Don't know.  If Chikara was sold at the end of 2013, why did it take six months to have a show?  Don't know.

The above Youtube recap is the only official account of all this, and it's already old news.  The new story is the Flood, which is a bunch of rudos ganging up on Chikara, kind of like the GEKIDO who are basically the same thing.

It's looking like we can already ignore the Heroes Reborn of the indie wrestling world and just jump back in. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Thank God For Kids

Filmed at the long closed Sesame Place in Irving, Texas, during a simpler time when a group of bearded musician could borrow several young boys to cuddle on camera.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Fight Card

I will probably never read any of these, but I like what these folks have done.  Paul Bishop and Mel Odom have created a revival of the niche pulp genre of the boxing magazine.  Fight Card is a series of monthly 25,000 word novelettes set in the 20s to 50s, though there are sub-imprints set in modern day, and even a romance variation.

There is a house name, Jack Tunney, and writing guidelines that set the stories in a shared universe.  Also, it's more of a collective than a publishing house, with authors submitting directly to (and getting paid directly from) Amazon.

Probably the only boxing stories I'll ever read will be by Robert E Howard, and that's because it's Robert E Howard, but I think it's a pretty cool concept, and I'm glad they've found several participants.

More at Fight Card Books and at Amazon.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Victim City Stories 2 now at Smashwords

Issue 2 of Victim City Stories is now available in all formats at Smashwords, and soon in all major online ebook retailers.

In this teeth grinding installment you’ll uncover -

The procurers of Victim City have sunk to a new low, but they will learn that man can be the most debased of the beasts. Though beaten and in chains, they will find out that Every Dog Has His Day, Vengeance is the Bleeding Skull's.

Stan and Lisa are taking a vacation from their marriage, from their inhibitions, from their decency. But they can't get away from themselves, or their Suburban Shame.

Shamed Witness: Club Bounty - Terror on wheels is rolling through Victors Crossing, and the Murder Man, George Murdam, has a contract to put on the brakes.

Pimps vs Farmboys, with the Bleeding Skull in the middle!
Lost lovers look for lust in all the wrong places.
Bikers vs Militiamen, and the Murder Man pulls the strings!

38,000 sweat-drenched words of modern pulp crime, sex, and horror.

Make sure to have Adult Content turned on - Victim City is not a safe place.

Tales from the Darkside - No Strings

Mafia meat puppets-

Monday, June 2, 2014

Getting Meta - Original Star Tours at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Getting Meta - Original Star Tours at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Formerly Disney MGM Studios, Disney's Hollywood Studios has gone through several incarnations and focuses.  It began as an alleged tour of a working studio, much like the original Universal Studios Hollywood.  Actual stuff was filmed there, from Newsies to Thunder in Paradise, but the implication that you could watch an actual production in the works and see real movie stars was largely unrealized.

As the park expanded and the focus turned towards individual attractions rather than one ginormous tour, the concept went from "pretending to be a real movie studio" to "being a pretend movie studio".  Stay with me here, it gets worse.

Star Tours was the first E ticket thrill attraction in the park, and Disney wasn't about to just attach a space ride in the middle of a studio themed park.  From The Imagineering Field Guide to Disney's Hollywood Studios -
"Sometimes a particular show makes sense in two or more different park concepts, but a change is usually required to alter the "wrapper" that places the attraction into each setting.  At the Studios, we're not trying to imply that Star Tours is part of a fantastic future.  This is about the movies!  So here we placed the attraction into a soundstage like others on the lot.  We dressed the front of the soundstage with a standing set of of the Ewok village.  And we allow Guests to see the backs of the set walls when they enter the building"

There's a couple of ways this can go.  Guests can pretend that they're on the set of a Star Wars movie production the entire time.  Or they can start by pretending they're at the Ewok Village, but wait, it's just a movie set.  Now we're heading into the Imperial bunker, but wait, also a set, and now we're in a loading bay, etc.  One transitional scene in the queue from movie studio to spaceport would suffice to keep the concept, but the guests don't need constant reminders that this isn't real.

Or, like ALMOST EVERYONE, they either don't notice/care, or they think "Hmm, they didn't finish this part for some reason.  Hey, they didn't even do the other side of that AT-AT.  A little lazy."
Happily they changed the concept during the update, as well as that of most of the park, to be "Attractions that might have something to do with movies".