CLICK HERE to SeE the DEVIL Pt 1 of 2

Part 2 will be made available only to subscribers. So if you’re not a subscriber, it’s a decent incentive to become one.

Picture… Darkness.

True, true darkness.

You wake up.., no wake up, wrong word, it implies a noticeable transition, an easy, gradual awareness; this rather is the darkness of beginning and end, the first and only.

This is a Darkness that has always been here, but is ever new.

Has always been waiting for you, and has never left you.

In the beginning… Darkness, as it were.

And you are there.

Alone.

For a second or a century, both words have as much and as little meaning here.

But then

something

moves.

It is absolutely dark, and yet

You are clearly aware of something moving toward you

You are looking straight ahead

Standing

You know that much

You think

And are aware

of something

walking

slowly

toward you.

Something moving in the darkness

that is beyond darkness

It’s like if you close your

eyes

and put your palms over top of them

If you keep them there long enough

You may in that absolute darkness

begin to see a speck of light

Moving.

And that now was coming in this dark

with your eyes wide open

and seeing nothing

but something beyond Dark…

coming closer.

And was moving

With a primal grace

like worlds uncoiling at their dawn.

You saw it now

something luminous

in the dark

A face

on top a form

and eyes

that sidled madly back and forth

back and forth

but never losing track of you

And a tongue that rolled

And lips that grinned

unbidden and eternal

and behind it

there were the dream of wings

great

vast

and slow

And never losing track,

Never losing focus

Never losing you

those mad, mad eyes of its,

and that eternal grin

that was not a grin,

this thing that was so dark,

that it made darkness pale

that it was white

luminous, ghastly white in its black

it came on

skittered

walked

drifted

closer

to you.

And you

being only flesh

did what all flesh must do

when such a thing comes near

You froze

And prepared to endure.

Copyright 2011 –HT

Book Review: Edgar Allan Poe: Masters of the Weird Tale

“Nothing will teach you more about the human heart, than Murnau’s SUNRISE. Not the living of it, and not the leaving of it. If that simple, supple, nuanced tale does not move you. Indelibly move you, then you are something I prefer not to know. For its day there was no bigger, more sumptuous, more lavish spectacle. And technically, SUNRISE, with its use of various compositing effects, and camera effects, was both innovator and game-changer.”
— Heroic Times on MURNAU

Sunrise [Blu-ray]

Edgar Allan Poe: Masters of the Weird Tale- Centipede Press is the producer of high end tomes containing work by some of the standout writers of the fantastic, among them H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, August Derleth, Fritz Leiber, Ray Bradbury, Stephen King to name a few. True to the title, EAPMOTWT concentrates on collecting all the work of foremost writer of Dark Fiction, Edgar Allen Poe. At 900 pages, the book also contains many illustrations done for Poe stories.

Edgar Allan Poe: Masters of the Weird Tale

Aware of the giant over-sized art retrospectives done on HP Lovecraft and Stephen King respectively, and led by the dimensions listed on the on-line purchase page, 14″ by 10″, I bought this item. However, once received, actual dimensions are 7″ by 10″, which is comparable to regular book size.

The good? is it is 900 pages, contains all the Edgar Allen Poe stories, sports large type, illustrations and spot illustrations sporadically through the book. Comes in a slipcase, with quality cover, paper and binding.

The bad? As stated it is not oversized, it is regular sized. The artwork is sporadic at best, so not an art book in the sense of Centipede Press’ phenomenal and large enough to bludgeon the odd badger, KNOWING DARKNESS: THE ART OF STEPHEN KING. It’s more a book with various spot illustrations tossed in, all pretty turn of the century and stock. The best of the illustrations are the handful done by Virgil Finlay. And while these sporadic illustrations are pecfectly fine if this book was priced say at $40, this book retails for nearly $300!!! Even getting this deeply discounted online, you’re still looking at $180 to $200!?! A lot of money for what really amounts to a hardcover book with some spot illustrations. This is not an art book. You can get any number of books containing all Edgar Allen Poe’s stories, for a fraction of the cost of this tome. I recommend this one:

The Complete Edgar Allan Poe Tales

My recommendation… pass.

You can decide for yourself… here.

Edgar Allan Poe: Masters of the Weird Tale

Short Story: A critical analysis, with allusions to Poe and Dickens

Short stories are an odd beast. When done well they can stick with you, almost in their entirety, in a way novels can’t quite match. There’s a beautiful, immediacy and directness to short stories, the best of them. Short, paired to the bone prose, no filler, no padding, just what is needed… to tell the tale.

The best short stories are timeless, in a way I think novels, have a hard time competing with. Short Stories because of their brevity, waste less time on the scene setting, the minutiae of place, and fashion, and political woes, all of which becomes archaic in time, whereas the short story, distilled as it is, concentrates on the interaction between people. Concentrates on those simple, essential and essentially repeated questions of the human condition, those questions of love and loss, of eros and thanos.

To elaborate on the strength of the short story, let’s discuss a bit on Poe.

One of the greatest short stories of all time, Edgar Allen Poe’s TELL TALE HEART, was written in 1842. (There are some quarters that assert Poe wrote TELL TALE HEART after having a heart attack, but I can find no corroborating evidence. Or indeed any evidence that Poe had ever been diagnosed with any Heart issues. I think the heart attack myth, is people trying to give impetus for such a great story, beyond Poe just being a great writer. People without imagination looking for the impetus of such imagination. Like the question people still task writers with today… “Where do you get your ideas from?” ).

It was submitted that same year to BOSTON MISCELLANY, but was rejected for publication on the grounds of essentially being too macabre. It would not see publication till January of 1843, when a friend of Poe, would buy the story from the destitute writer for $10.

$10 would be all the proceeds Poe would see from a story, that has since generated, guessing loosely, billions of dollars in revenue from records, to books, to films, to comics, to plays. Only $10.

Not much money today, and not much money in 1843 (the dollar in 1840s being 9 times today’s dollar, still only translates into Poe receiving $90, not enough to pay bills, or keep his house in food).

Poe’s $10 payment for THE TELL TALE HEART would be a far cry from the $2000 Poe is reported to have lost gambling in the course of 8 months, or the $100 he won for publication of his story ‘THE GOLDBUG’, or the roughly million dollars that Charles Dickens was making around the same time for CHRISTMAS CAROL.

-To be continued-

For those interested in more on Poe, I direct them to this comprehensive (while being condensed) and quite elegantly written bio on Poe:

http://www.jacanaent.com/Biographies/Pages/PoeEA.htm

The Last Black Samurai: Remembering Marc Olden; an interview with Diane Crafford

22 Feb 2012 Wednesday

There’s some news on the horizon regarding Mark Olden’s seminal series BLACK SAMURAI, as well as other work. I don’t have the thumbs up yet… to break the news, but in the interim I thought it was a great time to re-present this fun and informative interview, to tide you over.

Plus it has been updated with new pics, courtesy of Ms. Crafford. Please Enjoy!

And is it me, or does the new film THE RAVEN bear more than a passing resemblance to Marc Olden’s POE MUST DIE? hmmmm. :) .

**************************

The fact that what you are about to read and hear is a YEAR in the preparation, goes to the absurd vagaries of mi vida loca, my crazy life.

But here finally, before the clock turns over on yet another year is my interview with Diane Crafford, on one of my favorite writers, the late, great and incomparable Marc Olden.

We’ll start with the text portion of the interview, and following that the pretty free flowing audio interview. HUGE, HUGE thanks to Diane for her time, her good humor, her anecdotes, and her extreme patience.

Now without further delay….

1st to set the stage.

Who is Marc Olden?

Marc Olden is a writer I became aware of, oddly enough on an auction site. Being something of a bibliophile I’m always looking to pick up books, and no doubt I was looking for either Warren Murphy’s DESTROYER books, or books by the late great Donald Goines.

And instead I came across this auction of a near complete series of BLACK SAMURAI books by Marc Olden. Being a Blackophile as well as a Bibliophile :) , the title alone, as well as the very impressive 70s art on the paperbacks were enough for me to decide to purchase the books.

So I won the auction got the books, and was… from book one, blown away. This was not the hokey Jim Kelly movie, this was the undiluted source material, and it was pure and gritty, and brilliantly written. I’ve a huge fan of the Warren Murphy DESTROYER books, as well as the James Bonds and the MacK Bolans, but BLACK SAMURAI takes it to another level. BLACK SAMURAI is the BEST of that flooded market that was Men’s Action Adventure Books of the 70s. And the fact that it was so relatively short lived, also makes it a far more accessible body of work, and to my mind, far more prized.

And passion leading to passion, I just became obsessed with collecting all the work, primarily the 70s work, of this somehow inexplicably under the radar writer. Two of the holy grails being the Edgar Nominated POE MUST DIE, and the even more obscure BOOK OF SHADOWS (which I have to thank Diane for really making me aware of).

And reading his books led me to wanting to share with the world more of this, I felt and feel, brilliant, important, and overlooked writer.

So I reached out to the person who was keeping the late Mr. Olden’s web presence alive, the gracious Diane Crafford, and she was both kind and crazy enough to consent to the following free flowing and I believe informative and engaging interview/conversation.

The early part of our interview… the audio does not capture Diane’s, bubbly, fun, immersive personality, so I’m going to transcribe that from notes, and memory as best I can (I have a tendency toward the romantic, so anything that sounds like bs I take the blame for) bullet points mainly, and then we’ll kick into the audio.

HT: Hi Diane, thanks in advance for your time. We’re here to discuss Marc Olden one of my, and I assume your, favorite writers. Now most of this I got from your site as well as my research: He’s done over 40 books. His first work of fiction NARC a series of nine novels. He also produced the eight book BLACK SAMURAI series, made into a bad movie with Jim Kelly. And POE MUST DIE a stunning immersive novel drenched in period detail.

DC: You do your homework.

HT: I try. Now I’m detecting a bit of an accent, and your name Crafford, Londoner?

DC: Welsh, actually.

HT: Ahh, missed it by that much. Now tell me a little about Marc Olden behind the books

DC: Well he was born in Baltimore and was a press agent before he gave it up to become a writer. And once he chose that road, he embraced it completely. He had a strong work ethic, he wrote every day. His Black Samurai series was written at the same time he wrote the Narc series. It was while writing Narc he got to know guys in Law Enforcement. With advanced degree black belts in Japanese Karate and Aikido, he coached and mentored many members of the NYPD in Aikido.

HT: So his writing was an extension of the man.

DC: Yes. Like every good writer he wrote what he knew, of his passions. And after the NARC, BLACK SAMURAI books, he went into stand-alone novels such as INFORMANT. It did well but was not a best seller.

HT: Going back to BLACK SAMURAI series for a second, what did he think of the film?

DC: He had no input into the film. And resigned himself to it being something distinct from his work.

HT: Well let’s backup a bit, and tell us bit about you and how you met Marc.

DC: -I met him here at New York. He was a press agent for a restaurant, and I was working in film. We hit it off immediately. He had a way of carrying himself. –Later I was in London working for a film Producer, Sidney Dujer. The film was THE TWELVE CHAIRS starring Frank Lagella.

It’s amazing the little decisions that make all the difference. Marc went from Press Agent to writer, writing magazine articles. And then was approached to write a book on Angela Davis. And at that time I was looking for work, and became his transcriptionist. He had a head full of stories, he loved to tell them. And at the center of them was his belief in Justice.

HT: Now how did one of his earliest books, and what I consider not just one of his best books, but one of THE best books, POE MUST DIE come about? It seems a very ecletic work and ahead of its time work, mixing historical fiction and figures, mystery, horror, action, and adventure.

DC: He loved Edgar Allen Poe and he loved Charles Dickens. And POE MUST DIE at its heart is his love letter to those influences, but done as only he could do it. Dicken’s Christmas Carol, all about redemption, at the heart of this elaborately researched and gothic murder mystery,

HT: I can definitely see that. The book is so full of period detail, and authenticity, it puts you there in that place and in that time, of a wilder and younger England and America. What were some of his other inspirations?

DC: He thought Raymond Chandler was the best American writer. He was inspired by Eastern Philosophy through his mother and father (his father was George Olden, an art director). This filtered down to the type of man he was. Very calm, very contained, very brave and strong. I once asked him, “What is it that makes you so together?” and he said, “Good looks and the power of prayer.”And while he said it with a smile, that was sincere, it was how he lived his life. In balance.

“It was a different breed of man who sat in the cherrywood chair, his legs crossed under a cashmere robe, a thin volume on his lap. His graying hair, immaculately groomed, seemed to highlight a strong-lined, somber face… An aura of greatness and elegance seemed to permeate his being, as if his presence lent dignity to the book-lined walls. He seemed like what men should be, but never were.“
….THE DESTROYER: CREATED, THE DESTROYER by Warren Murphy.

HT: You can see that balance in his work. It’s very measured and… sincere. Which is an odd thing to say about fiction, but he wrote fiction with Authenticity.

DC: Yes. All his work was an extension of his interests. Take BOOK OF SHADOWS, he got the idea for that on one of our annual trips to England. He loved history and was a real Anglophile. He became intrigued by the canals that snaked through England, and that was the impetus for BOOK OF SHADOWS about vacationing American’s who stumble across things best left undisturbed.

***********************************

Okay that brings our text portion to an end. Onto the audio. You’re going to hear a lot of paper shuffling, that’s me jotting down notes, and flipping back and forth in my book, to consult my notes. I don’t think it distracts too much, Diane does a great job. So please enjoy! And bottom line, if you haven’t read anything by Marc Olden, go to Diane’s site and get acquainted. I would also suggest purchasing through her site.

Diane’s great site on Marc Olden

For more on Marc Olden, and particularly BLACK SAMURAI also see the following sites:

Great overview of the 8 Book BLACK SAMURAI series
More great Marc Olden/Black Samurai coverage

The below audio is a little over 33 minutes,, and the audio has been noise reduced to minimize the sound (my frantic note taking) as much as possible. Not great audio, but definitely listenable, and DEFINITELY informative.

Okay! You can listen to it HERE!

Copyright 2000-2012 Masai Inc and other specified writers. Images copyright their respective owners.

THE ULTIMATE EDGAR ALLEN POE and Today’s Greatest Voices!

littlescarlet

I’m currently on an audio drama kick (but then again, when am I not :) ). One of my favorites of course being:

WALTER MOSLEY’s ‘Little Scarlet’ read by Michael Boatman. Michael Boatman is one of the best audio actors I’ve come across, and I’ve listened to several hundred audio books. Add him to Walter Mosley and you have a MUST BUY audio book! I’ve been looking for his current audio book work, but so far haven’t found any updated info.

And re-listening to the above, put me back in mind of my pet project.

You all know one of my pet projects is THE ULTIMATE POE CD, the idea is to get great actors together to do readings of Poe’s works. I think it’s a shame that great actors have shuffled off this mortal coil without doing their take on Poe’s TELL TALE HEART.

Call me strange, but if I’m an actor I would think there’s some attraction to the idea of doing Shakespeare, doing Poe, recording these classics for generations to come.

Thankfully people of yesteryear were forward thinking enough, so that we have recordings of Price, Basil Rathbone, Karloff, Peter Lorre, even James Mason doing THE TELL TALE HEART, but for every actor we do have immortalized, there are tons we don’t. no Orson Welles, no Ossie Davis no Paul Robeson doing Poe.

As you can tell I dig Poe. Not all by any means, there’s a good bit of Poe’s work I don’t like. He is a product of his time, and at times in addition to being a bigot his lesser work has a tendency to meander, to be unworthy of him at his best. To speak poorly or him, and his talent. But his TELL TALE HEART is the ultimate performance piece. It just is. And it should be a rite of passage for all great actors.

So my mission is to commit the great audio actors of our day to an ULTIMATE POE cd. Guys whose voices should be immortalized, doing the memorial work of Poe.

Upon my list of dream actors to get for this project is Avery brooks, Harlan Ellsion, Michael Dorn, David Birney, Patrick Stewart and of course Michael Boatman. I’ve been attempting to make this happen, but nothing yet.

So if you’re the agent for these guys contact me! :)

Or if you’re just someone who wants to help me make this happen, contact me. And I’m not worried about someone stealing this idea, hey my only concern is getting this done, and getting this stuff recorded for posterity. I don’t care who does it, as long as it gets done. If you can help me, great. If I can help you, great.

And if you want to hear my current favorite performance of TELL TALE HEART, go read this old post and you’ll find a link to listen to Richard Taylor’s kirking rendition of THE TELL TALE HEART. Great stuff!

Real Wealth and Richard Taylor’s rendition of Poe’s THE TELL TALE HEART

nightmare

I want very few things in my life.

When you’re young you want everything. All the things those tv gods promise you.

If you are lucky enough not to die young or live stupid, you realize the things that are important have very little to do with what everyone has told you. Has very little to do with the bling (street slang for riches– for the uninformed among you).

Though without doubt, without money those higher things in life, those real things in life, are hard to attain.

But money will not give you an appreciation for those things. A fool with money is still a fool. And he will be parted from it and all his things, and he will have missed out on the pursuit of real wealth.

What is real wealth?

I reckon if you’re reading this you know it, and a few of you, a lucky few, may have it. Hold onto it. To real wealth. Hold on to hearth and home, wife and children.

Because that is a wealth… that if you invest in it, endures.

Man, that was awful somber for a Sunday.

Chalk it up to… nostalgia. Yeah, that gets blamed for a lot. :) .

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rt_nightmare_288

Leaving on a more up-tempo beat, the real reason I started to post was to share a fantastic find with you.

Well whether you think it’s fantastic depends on two things:

1/ are you a huge fan of Edgar Allen Poe?

and

2/ are you a huge fan of audio dramas?

I happen to be guilty of both of the above vices, so the recent link I stumbled across, and just got finished listening to… made my day.

It happens to be, a combination of both those things.

It is from the 60s, 1960s to be precise. An mp3 of a record created for kids. This particular record is performed by Richard Taylor ( a person I’m not familiar with. I’ve searched and these kids records appear to be his only available work) and on it he tackles Edgar Allen Poe’s THE TELL TALE HEART and THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM.

I don’t know what kids this was aimed at, but it is a frigging UNHINGED performance!

r_taylor_410

I’ve heard and seen just about every take on THE TELL TALE HEART there is. It is one of my favorite stories, perhaps the favorite. So I’ve heard everyone’s take on it, Christopher Lee, Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, you name em, I’ve heard em. And Filmwise, I’ve seen at least 6 to 8 different versions of The Tell-Tale Heart.

But not in all the ones I’ve come across have I seen anyone give a more kirking, manic performance than Richard Taylor does; in these 4 decade old recordings.

It is such a joy to see someone just throw themselves into a part, that I had a smile from ear to ear while listening to this stuff. And i was roaring with appreciation through most of it.

And I’m not talking about someone just hamming it up, or over acting, as I’ve heard some bad examples of actors doing just that with Poe material (most recently THE STRANGE CASE OF EDGAR ALLEN POE I thought had some poor performances, that said BBC is typically excellent. Their recent TELL TALE HEART, read by Richard Pasco, is brilliant).

Without a doubt Richard Taylor is off the charts, but the difference is, you don’t see the artifice, the acting, you don’t see the wires, he makes you buy that he is in the moment, is— this madness. It is a brilliant performance. So good it impelled me to share it, here, with you.

And we have to thank, for the availability of this otherwise lost gem, the fantastic site: SCAR STUFF. For saving this record from the trashbin of history, he and his site should be applauded.

So go on over there and listen to Richard Taylor’s rendition of Edgar Allen Poe’s THE TELL TALE HEART (The site has a few other Taylor recordings, some great [THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USER], some poor [THE BLACK CAT- Taylor stumbles and fumbles many lines, and the obtrusive music doesn't help, but still well worth a listen] but THE TELL HEART is Richard Taylor’s finest hour).

If you get a 10th as much enjoyment out of it as I did, consider yourself… well paid. You can add it, this really enjoyable performance, to those few things in your life, that you call… real wealth.

Do you like how I tied that up in a bow? Yeah I thought it was pretty nifty.

Oh and if anyone has additional Richard Taylor performances, or is aware of anything else he did, please contact me. And finally, if you guys appreciate this blog and these posts, do me a favor, leave a comment. It helps. It really does. I know you’re looking, cause I can see the stats, but it would be nice if more of you guys left comments or emailed as well.

Thanks, and please enjoy.