Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Ted Mann I talked to, Ted Mann in Bradbury bio: A Startling Coincidence

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of discussing Canadian estate law with Ottawa lawyer Ted Mann as part of my research and revisions to my horror novel Monstrous

While wearing my book reviewer's hat last night, reading Jonathan R. Eller's Bradbury Beyond Apollo, I discovered this passage on p. 29 about Bradbury trying to adapt his stories for film.

"Both men had a point, but the uneasy relationship became even worse when Ted Mann bought into the project.

Mann was the dynamic cinema-franchise owner and entrepreneur who would soon buy one of Bradbury's favourite Hollywood landmarks, Grauman's Chinese Theatre and place his own name on the marquee. He had also moved into film production, and his first producing credit was Warner Brothers' 1969 production of The Illustrated Man-a project where Bradbury felt as if he were an outside in all aspects of production."

This is simply the kind of startling coincidence that I cannot make up, but it certainly looks like I have.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Bam! Revising breakthrough

And then, while riding the ghost train in my imagination, boom!, there I saw yet another solution. As I rewrite Monstrous, I see that a scene shouldn't be occurring in a store just down the road from a retrofitted inn. I guess I wanted to work in some ginchy, scary bits like in the film Splinter, where the characters are trapped in a convenience store. Only, in my work-in-progress, I wrote the nearby store as, alternately, a park store and a convenience-store-type setting. Thing is, neither choice makes sense, because a park store would be closed for the camping season by mid-October (when the book is set), a convenience store wouldn't be zoned commercially and allowed to be built near either a campground or retrofitted inn.

So, my settling doesn't makes sense, legally or simply, realistically. So I mulled this over, talked with my fellow writer partner about it, and they asked why must the setting be a store? What do the characters need there? And, in answering her, it dawned on me that they need a particular item in the store in order to fight seemingly supernatural entities. So she suggested that I simple move or change the setting to a tool shed or equipment shed.

Armed with that solid idea, I revised part of the scene in the store (still in-progress, in fact) and I realize the characters must enter a different setting and meet the same character, but all that can be done in a toolshed. A ranger or groundskeeper could, theoretically, be there doing maintenance and they could seek out his help. And he is so much fun, this salty, should-be-retired park ranger. He is in utter disbelief and outraged to be placed in a weird and horrifying situation. 

In fact, the whole scene could have a whiff of 1950's horror, with younger characters trying to convince an older character that something terrible is happening.

So, bam!, indeed. This scene does play out quite differently. Oh, and a hint about what my characters are up against. I've got a werewolf, a ghost-fighter and a warlock. What are they looking for? Salt, of course. For the badness that is about to descend on them. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Mesmerizing: The Deuce, a show about the rise of porn in NYC

Binging on The Deuce, a three-season HBO series focusing on the rise of the porn industry in New York City in '71-'72 (s1), '76-'77 (s2) and '84-'85 (s3) produced by James Franco (in a double role as a twin brothers Vincent and Frankie Martino) and Maggie Gyllenhaal (as sex-worker-cum-porn-director Eileen "Candy" Merrell). While The Deuce is not the most uplifting show, it is realistic, a fascinating and at many times mesmerizing fictionalization of pimps, hustlers, cops, club managers and the mob gangsters among the proliferating porn industry. Complex characters figures, and many queer ones, figure in the story, even if they are not always redeemable, and aging with each season. The show is quite historically accurate, as far as I can tell, and my knowledge of porn history is considerable. It's also a vicarious trip through Times Square at the height of its decadence and danger, so it's fascinating voyeuristic stuff. Franco and Gyllenhaal are astonishing, as is most of the cast.

Season one is a slow-burning lover, but transfixing.

Thanks, Pete, of Movies 'n Stuff for providing season 3.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Gretel & Hansel briefest review

Gretel & Hansel is kind of a solid piece of revisionist filmmaking. Shot like The Witch or Beyond the Black Rainbow. Mesmerizing soundtrack a la It Follows. Solid acting. Neat reframing, but still same fairy tale, explaining what happened before and after the witch. Lush with mature shots, which I am admittedly a sucker for during pandemic.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Camping, misery, epiphanies, August 2020

I went into the car-camping wilderness, endured over 24 hours of on-off downpours. We went through it allleaking tents, failing rain gear and blow-up mattresses (for those who had them; I used a single foam mattress), soaked gear, crushed spirits, and misery. All of our modest plans, for hiking, walking to the beach and swimming, dissolved. 

But, thanks to my resilient party who re-rigged the tarp to give us cover during the deluge, we stuck it out, rewarded by a clearing sky on mid-Saturday evening and  a waxing moon with clouds scudding past, playing perk-a-boo, and glimpses of sharp constellations. 

There was beer, wine and whiskey and other drugs of choice around the fire, of course, including pre-rolls and drops, but we also shared coffee and food, potatoes; carrots, beans, beans, pork, spinach and all sorts of potato chips, two-bite brownies and even lemon cake. We also shared jokes and memories and grievances and passions to raise each other's spirits.

I went looking for epiphanies and found them, pinned them to the notebook page in the morning of Sunday, the only sunny, temperate day we had. The view of the three-quarter moon and the Sunday weather felt like recompense after our grim uniting experience. Some of us have camped together since 2002. I am exhausted but grateful. This was one for the books.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Five Healthy Coping Mechanisms during COVID-19

These healthy coping mechanisms help me through - that I should be talking about (Many of which are recommendations.):

- Positive Lists: A regular list of positive things - daily, weekly- all things count, both banal and monumental, from cleaning the kitchen to checking something off my list to getting through a day to leaving the crossroads I reached in revising my second horror novel and the ensuing weeks of blocked agony

- Physical: stretching every morning, working out, doing push-up and sit-ups every other morning, dancing spontaneously, walking around the neighbourhood when weather permits

- Watching (movies and shows, from Movies 'n Stuff but also free from the Ottawa Public Library and kanopy, and itunes, Netflix, DisneyPlus, as well as youtube for virtual panels (ComicCon@ Home 2020, TylerCon, the KGB Fantastic Fiction series out of Manhattan, run by Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel)

- Listening: podcasts, primarily John Siuntres’ Word Balloon outta Chicago, my go-to podcast for in-depth, sportscaster-style interviews with comics creators. Sasha Wood's Casually Comics on youtube is also hilarious, irreverent, pithy and sexy.

- Reading: books (Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, latest are Sonya Taaffe's Forget the Sleepless Shores: Stories, Adam McOmber's Jesus and John; comics; the latest are John Allison's wonderful and life-full Giant Days recommended by Amal El-Mohtar, Gail Simone's Clean Room, a vast conspiratorial number reminiscent of Grant Morrison's The Invisibles, if that's possible...; anything by Tom King (thanks, rob mclennan, for recommending!), Chip Zdarsky, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid, Jerry Ordway, Alex de Campi)

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Books on Writing Desk

Pictured on my writing desk are:

- The Headless Man, Peter Dubé's new poetry collection from Anvil Press.
These Lethe Press titles:
- Sonya Taaffe's Forget the Sleepless Shores: Stories.
- Adam McOmber's novel Jesus and John (review copy).
- Daniel Braum's short-fic collection Underworld Dreams (review copy) and Braum's mummy-themed antho, Spirits Unwrapped.

Also - very excited to review:
- Jeffrey Round's new Dan Sharp mystery, Lion's Head Revisited, from Dundurn Press.
- Jonathan R. Eller's Bradbury Beyond Apollo, the third and final installment in Eller's rather brilliant Bradbury bio trilogy
(The two above titles are advance review PDFs, and not depicted. Know anyone who wants a review of either one?)