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

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Limb to Limb by John Russo

Limb to Limb
by John Russo
1981 Pocket Books

From Vault of Horror

A ballerina loses a leg in a train accident.  Her rich father hires two unscrupulous doctors to steal and reattach another ballerina's leg, using methods they learned from Nazi concentration camps.

There are some moments of sleazy creepiness, such as rapist kidnappers and the doctors stealing fetuses from pregnant women, but most of it is at the made-for-TV-movie level of mild thriller.  Lots of padding, plenty of expanded character studies of people that don't especially matter to the story, and not a lot going on.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


The best severed hand movie, but nowhere near as good as it's movie poster