Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Clip of Lee Goldberg interview

A clip of an interview with author Lee Goldberg.  What he says here applies largely to midlisters with a large back catalog that's gone out of print, which can be said of pretty much every author we cover here at Trash Menace.  No matter how out-of-date or unpopular the genre, there is a market for these kind of books, and small but steady sales multiplied by several titles can add up.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Phantom Detective - Death Over Puget Sound

Death Over Puget Sound
by Laurence Donovan (Robert Wallace)
Phantom Detective 103
Phantom Detective September 1941

The Phantom heads out to the Pacific Northwest to investigate a series of high altitude murders against mountain climbers and lumberjacks by the ruthless Black Wolf gang led by the mysterious Echo Voice.  There's an unusual cast of characters, including a pro-wrestler, an amazonesque mountainlady, and a deranged prophet.  And bankers, lots of bankers.

Another unfair mystery from this series, with most of the revelations coming from a peek at bank records the reader isn't privy to until the end.  A lot of convolutions with further convolutions to explain them.  Luckily this piece has plenty of action, including a white water rapids rescue from a dynamite loaded barge and a downhill chase with a runaway streetcar.

I'm still having issues visualizing the Phantom in the story.  He spends much of the time in disguise, but much of the time he just goes around in the open as the Phantom.  He doesn't seem to wear the mask as shown on the cover - I guess either the character or the writer just aren't bothering to keep his secret identity that secret.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Queue Review - Buzz Lightyear

Pretty much all the same, with the exception of last place:

Walt Disney World - Magic Kingdom - Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin

This queue trails outside the building pretty much at all times.  Inside are more switchbacks and an animatronic Buzz Lightyear.  The other four parks have identical queues, as far as I can tell, and differ from Magic Kingdom in that they have interior walls breaking up the view, and there's more of a feel of being toy size.

In a four-way tie, in no particular order, the rest of the parks:

Disneyland - Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters

Disneyland Paris -  Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast

Hong Kong Disneyland - Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters

Tokyo Disneyland - Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Saturday, July 26, 2014

18-Wheel Avenger - Rig Warrior 3 - William W. Johnstone

18-Wheel Avenger
Rig Warrior 3
by William W. Johnstone
Zebra 1988

Barry Rivers is a former arms dealer who now works for the President as a one man death squad.  In this installment he pretty much just drives a bulletproof 18 wheeler around and lets terrorist throw themselves at him like lemmings.  And by terrorist we mean all of them - black nationalists, Islamic, Irish, they're all in it together.

Barry is joined by Cutter, a female Air Force Special Ops officer who's there for him to have sex with off page, and George, a journalist he kidnaps.  They drive around as bait, occasionally taking detours to murder people that are identified as terrorists by a bureaucracy that he doesn't trust.

This is the fourth book of Johnstone's that I've read that has a journalist playing the straw man against Johnstone's halfbaked political philosophy.  The purpose of journalism is to be completely controlled by the government, a government which he also mistrusts.  Mainly, he hates them because they don't know how guns work.  So we get Barry threatening to murder a civilian woman if she doesn't censor the news.  But she deserves it because she's Irish.  And she let herself get raped by Barry, so who can respect someone like that.

Yeah, the sex is all a bit rapey.  As in he'd be doing prison time if the women didn't decide, eventually, that they didn't mind it.  Did I mention the racial slurs?  Most being variations of camel-fill-in-the-blank-er, though there's a bizarre mistrust of anyone with any Irish ancestry.

Seriously half of the book is Barry whining to George about politics.  About how we're finally starting to come out of the liberal hell that was the Reagan era.  Barry is a former arms dealer who is moving arms in his truck for foreign sale - remember, this was a time that we were helping arm Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan.  That worked out well for the war on terrorism.

All this would be okay if any of the fifty action sequences were any good at all.  They're not.  A car or truck swoops up, Barry points an Uzi out the window, and everyone is dead.  No sense of danger and very little sense of what's going on.  He stays in the safety of his his invincible truck except for when he pulls over for the sole purpose of letting Cutter get shot up.  I would say this was a case of Women in Refrigerators, but Barry wasn't bothered by it, and Cutter disappears from the story aside from some third parties reporting that she was alright.

The wafer thin plot isn't helped by Johnstone writing like the guy in Memento.  He wakes not knowing who he is and just starts typing based on the last paragraph he wrote the day before.  We start out with Barry deputizing a group of truckers, later warning them that all their families are now going to die, then forgetting about them.  The middle is just a series of dull ambushes and Barry berating a reporter, and the final showdown with villains we've never met takes just over a page.

Jerry Ahern is known to jump on a soapbox now and again, and I don't see myself sharing a lot of bumper stickers with him, but he can write coherently and isn't a bigot.  Joseph Rosenberger was a bigot, but his politics usually ended with "F- Communism".  Neither are necessarily my favorite, but I don't loath them the way I do Johnstone.

As bad as this was, it at least shorter than Ashes, and I think his race baiting fear mongering got worse in later books, but to be fair that might have been after he died.

And the truck didn't shoot any damn missiles.  Watch Thunder Run instead.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

House of Scorpions - Chill 6 - by Jory Sherman

House of Scorpions
Chill 6
by Jory Sherman
1980 Pinnacle Books

At this point I'm convinced that Sherman hates his protagonist Dr. Russell V Chillders and wants us to hate him too.  I mentioned in my review of Doctor Orient that there was a subgenre of occult investigators that rarely leave the house.  We've got that going on here in spades, with Chill being too lazy to pick up his own damn phone most of the time.

We start with Laura Littlefawn, Chill's half-Indian psychic assistant and not-quite love interest.  It's implied that they hook up now and again, but she doesn't let him know where she lives or what she does for her regular job, which is running a chain of Indian crafts like that episode of South Park.  I think they're supposed to have one of those undefined casual things those California people have.

Littlefawn has nightmares about scorpions and gets some scorpion charm sent to her, so she goes to Chill for help, who helps her by doing absolutely nothing for almost the entire book.  I think he mentions something about the astrological sign Scorpio, which is the sum total of occult investigating he does this time out.

We then meet our villain, a rather pathetic failed cult leader Dan Crooked Creek.  He seeks to lead his people back to the traditional ways of the Navajo and hates Littlefawn for being modern and western, the only native American to do so in 1980, evidently.  His cult now consists of one trashy teenage girl, Rowena, and he lives in a cave near her ranch house.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Death of a Citizen - Matt Helm 1 - Donald Hamilton

Death of a Citizen
Matt Helm 1
by Donald Hamilton
1960 Gold Medal Books

First, forget about the Dean Martin movies.  While the films try to out-camp James Bond, the books are closer to Mickey Spillane than Ian Fleming.

Matt Helm is a retired secret agent who is trying to live a normal life after leaving the service at the end of World War II.  Most of the first installment is a series of slow-paced cliches - Nobody ever really quits, being framed for murder, searching femme fatales for weapons, "I want you to find her and stop her.  Permanently.", etc.

I'd like to give Hamilton the benefit of the doubt since the book is pretty well written, but I'm sure all of this was already old hat by 1960.  Most of the first person narrative is Helm thinking about what he's going to do, doing it, then thinking about what he did.  There's a good gritty, realistic tone, but not enough happens until the end, and the ending's not quite enough to really recommend it.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Queue Review - Astro Orbiter

The Dumbo on a Rocket Ship ride has had several names, locations, and designs, all of which have a lousy queue.  The ride capacity ain't great, and as they are designed to have a tiny footprint, the queues are tiny as well.

Tokyo Disneyland - Star Jets

Strangely, Tokyo has the lamest version.  It's the only non-steampunk one, and has the ultra-futuristic Space Shuttle motif.  Like Magic Kingdom it has an elevator, but here the ride sits sadly by itself, though that may be less sad than being next to a defunct Peoplemover track.

Normally something like an elevator would break up the monotony of a rail switchback, but it's such a normal, non-spacey elevator that it just makes things awkward.

Disneyworld - Magic Kingdom - Astro Orbiter

I hate this queue.  I know, intellectually, that the reason there is a line, any line, is that I'm waiting for the people that got there before me to finish whatever they're doing.  I know this, but watching these people while I'm waiting is just frustrating, which is why I'm in favor of any queue that has separate load and unload stations.  Here we:

  • See all the guests waiting in front of us in the switchbacks
  • Wait for guests to unload from the elevator before getting on
  • and wait again at the top for the ride to finish and unload

Additionally, I know that once I'm on that elevator, my ride will start at the same time as everyone else in the elevator, but there's still the instinct to try to get in and out faster than everyone else, or to jockey to the front once the elevator unloads.  

The only saving grace is that the switchbacks are within the proximity of the TTA Peoplemover, and they are sometimes adjacent during the rare times the TTA has a line.

Disneyland - Astro Orbiter

Those stupid elevators are the only thing that let Disneyland's uncovered, unthemed, outdoor switchbacks to come in third.  I would say that there is some nice nearby theming, but I never got the whole Flintstones motif for Tomorrowland.

Hong Kong Disneyland - Orbitron

Better than Disneyland because at least it's covered.

Disneyland Paris - Orbitron

Still not a great queue, but at least they used the fake rock walls instead of rails or chains for the switchbacks.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman (Books 1 & 2) - Balogun Ojetade

Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman (Books 1 & 2)
by Balogun Ojetade
Roaring Lions Productions 2012

Harriet Tubman is martial arts expert government agent who rescues the child of Secretary War Edwin Stanton at the request of John Wilkes Booth.  We start with alternative history and from there we get the whole kitchen sink added one element at a time: super powers, anachronistic technology, clockwork tree creatures, zombies (ghuls, but yeah, zombies), a serial killer, were-coyotes, mythical heroes, and magic curses.

At first this seemed like world building, but soon it becomes clear it's ADD.  This is the best and worst thing about the book depending on your point of view.  Things are light and fast paced, but the story jumps from one set piece to the next regardless of whether the last bit got resolved.  By the end we barely even see Harriet, and I lost track of what happened with the main conflict.

There's science fiction set in the 19th century and there is steampunk.  This is steampunk, and you could make a drinking game out of the words steam, brass, chrome, and goggles.  Despite having black characters and being set during the Civil War, slavery and racism are far from the worst things they encounter.  They are acknowledged but Ojetade doesn't let it get in the way of the fun.

This has nothing to do with Ojetade's book, but I imagined how this kind of thing would have gone down in the early 90s.  Most of the book would have been a heavy handed account of the horrors of slavery and racism, but with some sympathetic white folk shoehorned in so it didn't seem too militant.  And white readers would pat themselves on the back for being progressive enough to read it, all the while feeling a bit guilty and unsettled.

I'm not going to lie and say we're in a post-racial society, but I'm glad that we're at a point where we can get black genre fiction without having the characters and stories be defined by white racism.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Kids Can Say No!

Rolf Harris was the "tie me kangaroo down, sport" guy, which for some reason gave him a lifetime career in TV presenting in England.  And, like all English 70s TV presenters who seem the least bit dodgy, he's a serial child rapist.

So, perfect presenter for this -

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

TV Horror Anthology - Masters of Horror

Masters of Horror
2005-7, Showtime
26 Episodes

Much like Dream On or Mr. Show, at the time Masters of Horror was most notable for having gore, cussing, and nudity on a TV format, back when that was a big deal.  Well, twenty years after it would have been a big deal.

Aside from that, there are some good episodes, but perhaps not as good as it good be considering the names here.  For directors we have John Landis, John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper, Stuart Gordon, Dario Argento, Larry Cohen, Takashi Miike, and Joe Dante.

Most notable, we have the best we've seen from Dario Argento in decades, since Opera or maybe Trauma.  Granted, that's not saying much.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have one of the worst things to have aired on TV, and just one of the worst things in general.

Dead soldiers come back to life to vote Democrat.  No matter what strong opinion one has against the various wars, Republicans, or even soldiers, people are entitled to their beliefs, and I sound like Ann Coulter complaining about smug Hollywood liberals, which pisses me of the most.  He did do The Screwfly Solution later, which was one of the better ones.

Not a bad series, and expectations and misfires aside probably a pretty good one, but it fails to live up to what I would have imagined this line up to have accomplished in 1986.  That and Steven Spielberg isn't here to carry them, Dante.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Queue Review - Autopia

Let's start with a lesser queue - the Autopia and its equivalents, which exist at all five Disney parks.  Disneyland California had several incarnations of the ride, many of which existed at the same time.  In order of increasing bettertude we have in last place -

Magic Kingdom - Tomorrowland Speedway

A brief covered switchback that dumps you onto an uncovered ramp.  A titch of racing theming, but not much going on.

Tokyo Disneyland - Grand Circuit Raceway

Can't find any video, but from what I can tell it's pretty much exactly the same as Magic Kingdom, only maybe a little nicer.

Hong Kong Disneyland - Autopia

More ramps, but a little nicer.  And it's covered.

Disneyland Paris - Autopia

This is my favorite themed of the Autopia's, with a fifties retrofuturistic touch.  I like the proximity to Space Mountain.  I also like the viewing area, which looks to be a little circular island among the tracks.  The queue, meh.

Disneyland - Autopia

Mostly uncovered ramps, but I prefer ramps to switchbacks.  Also, there's a little indoor section with animations of talking cars, not Cars, just cars.  I imagine this decision has something to do with the sponsor Chevron.  The loops are short enough to get mind numbingly annoying if one was to spend more than thirty seconds at any one spot.  The fact that the last vignette involves someone being annoyed by a wait in line doesn't help.  Not much, but it puts Disneyland in the lead.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Frankenstein Lives Again - Donald Glut

Frankenstein Lives Again
The New Adventures of Frankenstein 1
by Donald Glut
Mews 1977

Dr. Burt Winslow believes that Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was a factual account, buys the original castle Frankenstein, and heads to the arctic to recover the creature's remains.  The monster is frozen in a block of ice and worshipped by Eskimos like Captain America.  A chase and shootout later and Dr. Winslow is back to the castle.

The mayor and villagers are protesting, fearing that the doctor seeks to reanimate the creature and start the nightmare all over again.  The angry mob is the voice of reason here.

Meanwhile, Professor Dartani brings his Asylum of Horrors to town, a kind of traveling wax museum.  The mayor insults Dartani, who vows revenge.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Oily Man

The Orang Minyak, or oily man, is a good example of when ancient folklore meets modern media and becomes urban myth.

The oily man began in Malaysian folklore, but I'm not familiar with those original tales.  The tale was popularized in the 1956 film Sumpah Orang Minyak.  At this point, the legend is that a man makes a deal with the devil to win back a lost love.  In exchange, the man had to rape 21 virgins within a week.  Other versions had the man make a deal with an evil shaman.  The man covered himself in oil so that he could slip through anyone's grasp to evade capture.

Through the sixties until today, there have been reports of an orang minyak terrorizing various villages and colleges.  Since he only attacks virgins, women would borrow sweaty clothes from men to give the impression that they weren't.  Of course, in reality, they are in fact advertising that they are virgins to the rest of the world, which may be the point.

I can't find my original reference, but within the last few years there was a scare at a Malaysian college and administration had to follow up with complaints that there were several rapes by a orang minyak that were unsolved.  The police responded by saying that had no official reports, and it dissolved into the classic urban myth "friend of a friend" scenario when they tried to track down any actual victims.

By this point we have a more rationalistic approach to the orang minyak.  Instead of being a man that gains magical powers, he is now a man who thinks he will gain magical powers.  To complicate the mix, there may be actual copycat rapists who actually do attack women.  Or a panic about copycats when none actually exist.

There is a similar notion in Sri Lanka of the Salini, or grease devil, which appears to follow similar lines, only this time there have been arrests and suspects killed by vigilante mobs.  Here we get more muddling elements, such as murders that are committed by criminals or corrupt government elements using the accusations as a cover.

Sound like material ripe for exploitation?  You bet -

Creepier, we have a ton of YouTube hits of villagers beating up suspected orang minyaks, or CCTV footage of men walking around in their underwear, and/or hoaxes of either.

On a lighter note, there's evidently a dance:

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Monday, July 7, 2014

Queue Review - Introduction

I'm weirdly obsessed with the design of theme park ride queues, both the theming and load efficiency.  To really appreciate a Disney queue, go to a Six Flags park.  Watch as a single coaster train goes through the whole cycle of loading, safety, climb hill, ride, brake run, and unloading, where Disney would have twenty trains safely on the same set of tracks.  Observe trains with a third of the seats empty and you'll appreciate the "how many in your party?" and the two finger pointing.

And stand in an unthemed set of switchbacks, unprotected in the summer sun in a dug out rock quarry, watching a single TV set with a two minute loop of commercials, for two hours before being unceremoniously dumped into a pretty good thrill coaster, and only figuring out it was a Superman ride from the gift shop you exit out of.

With the possible exception of Ellen's Energy Adventure, you'll spend the longest stretches of time at Disney in line.  My longest line was the Splash Mountain soft opening at Disneyland.  Three hours in the sun, delirious, finally reaching the front only to have Wil *&$%ing Wheaton and his #@%&ing entourage cut in front.

Disney's been experimenting with ways of reducing or even abolishing the queue, from fast passes to the pager system at Magic Kingdom's Dumbo.  But until then, different parks with similar rides often have very different queues.

Over the coming weeks we'll be sizing up the four different Disney locations and Hong Kong (if it doesn't have Pirates, it's not a real Disney park).

For our purposes, a line begins at the point it would be rude to cut in front of someone, though that standard might not work for Disneyland Paris.  It ends when your butt goes in the ride vehicle.  So we're including pre-shows.

Plusses for:
  • Theming
  • Indoors
  • Being able to see parts of the ride
  • Level of overlap with other rides
  • Load and unload in different areas, preferrably out of view of each other
I'm pretty indifferent to various interactive elements being introduced.  Playing a mediocre video game for thirty seconds doesn't improve on a two hour wait.

Minuses for:
  • Unthemed outdoor switchbacks
  • Loading and unloading being within view of each other, or worse, at the same station
  • "Cheater" queues, when you think you're near the front before turning a corner and seeing a hundred people in front of you.
Spoiler alert - California doesn't do well.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

HUSTLE - Great Muta

I wanted to like Hustle, but the shows I saw had severe pacing problems with long stretches of dead air.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Free Thurs & Fri - Victim City Stories 1

Free this Thursday and Friday, declare your independence with a trip to Victim City.  Issue 1 is free for kindle July 3rd & 4th.

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.

Mystic Rebel - Ryder Syvertsen

Mystic Rebel
Mystic Rebel 1
by Ryder Syvertsen
1988 Pinnacle Books

Bart Lasker, a down on his luck pilot, accepts a contract from the CIA to smuggle gold to rebels in Tibet.  He's shot down by a Chinese missile and is rescued by some monks and Tibetan freedom fighters.  This is the first 200 pages.  The late 80s were a rough time for men's adventure.

Do you like scenes where the hero passes or is knocked out, wakes up being cared by strangers, and is told he's been out for x number of days?  You better love them, because it happens like seven times.

The third or so time this happens, Lasker wakes up in a mysterious temple, where he learns that he is the reincarnation of Raspahloh, a Bonpo assassin that had assassinated a previous Dali Lama.  In the world of fiction and conspiracy theory, Bon is the evil, human sacrificing, satanic precursor to Buddhism in Tibet.  In real life, not even close, and I can't find where people even got that from.

Like kung fu training scenes?  Too bad, we're going to skim over that part, but Lasker's body is now capable of performing Raspahloh's kung fu magic.  There's a necrophilic orgy to give Raspahloh full control of his body, but Magic Buddha rubs his belly or whatever and Lasker takes full control.

Like kung fu fights?  Too bad.  Lasker escapes the temple, dispatching six guards on the way, in half of a sentence that's shorter than this one.  384 pages and here's where Syvertsen decides to be brief.  He escapes into the snow and the temple disappears because it's like that thing in Iron Fist.

Where am I?  You've been asleep for three days.  Now it's time to get trained by good guy monks. He gets locked in a cave with a sassy hermit who teaches him telepathy, astral travel, and other stuff we're not going to tell you because we haven't figured out what he'll do in other installments yet.

We also learn about the Celestials, I mean Cultivators - aliens from another dimension that crash landed on earth and humped monkeys.  They might have done some other stuff, but mostly monkey love, which is where people come from.  There might be good guy Cultivators and bad guy Cultivators, based on how much monkey love they got, and it looks like Buddhism is based the bad guys.  Again, we're just going to leave that open, we might want to get back to it in book four or something.

Lasker vows to use his powers to help Tibet, so he sneaks into an ancient temple which is now the headquarter of a sexy female Chinese officer.  He confronts her and uses his telepathy to discover a plot to sell nuclear material from Smoke Mountain, mined by slave labor, to a Middle Eastern power.  He also discovers that she is a virgin and is terrified of being raped.  So, in the name of Buddhist compassion, he rapes her.

Well, in text he uses his Buddha love magic to make sweet, tender, painful, blood splattered love to her, but whatever.  He breaks into her bedroom, restrains her, threatens her, does the deed, and she's crying and screaming rape afterwards.  All the justifications Syvertsen adds work about as well as the excuses of a fratboy after a kegger.

So, off to Smoke Mountain to put an end to the scheme, only to be attacked by a Chinese Red Army strikeforce, which for some reason has two ancient Japanese samurai working with them.  Yep, after several hundred pages of authenticish Tibetan culture, we get "Asian fighty time, whatever" for our only fight scene in the entire book.  Which is promptly cut short by a sedative blow dart.

Where am I?  Lasker wakes up to being tortured in Smoke Mountain.  He possesses a vulture, and from there raises a Zombie army to destroy to complex and free the prisoners.  Evidently Tibet has Zombies, and they're called Zombies just like the the voodoo ones.  Not that I'm going to complain - as jaded as I am on the Zombie glut of the last decade, this was pretty cool.

But we're not done.  Lasker has to get out Tibet, which involves a lot of walking, a lot of riding, a lot of pages, and a couple more trips to unconsciousness.

He hangs out with the Dali Lama a bit and threatens his CIA contact for his money, because Buddha gets paid, B.  There's a hint earlier that Raspahloh may try to regain control of his body, which I'm guessing happens in later issues.  I'm also guessing the KGB and CIA hitmen in the back cover are for a later time, because they sure weren't here.

For being a padded out travelogue for most of the page count, it actually went by pretty painlessly.  The zombie attack almost saved it, but it really needed like ten times more of "stuff happening".  Later issues reportedly focus more on the spirituality of the rapist thug that worships alien monkey humpers, so yea for that.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014