2013: Day 15 – Favorite Discoveries of 2012

Well as I still acclimate to this freshly minted 2013, I thought it was a good time to look back at 2012 and reflect on my own personal favorite and new discoveries of 2012. So here is my list in no particular order:

  • Kashi Raisin Bran Breakfast Cereal

  • Discovery of the work of Lord Edwin Weeks at the Richmond Museum of Artedlordweeksml

  • The Walters Art Gallery

  • Texas Roadhouse in Durham, NC

  • The Charlotte, NC skyline

  • The Spider novels and writings of Norvell Page:2012’s Norvell Page obsession , and my mad dash to collect all his books, only equaled by earlier years Cornell Woolrich, Beksinski, Robert Duncanson and Marc Olden obsessions. spidercouncilofevil

    :Browse Norvell Page Books Here!

  • Sidebar Podcast

  • Victoria

  • 11oclock Comics Podcast

  • Spy Smasher movie serialspywithmachinegun

  • And in a rare case of the popular choice actually being my choice, THE AVENGERS was my favorite movie theater experience of the year

  • James Jean Rebus

  • Dark Horse Creepy Presents BERNIE WRIGHTSON

  •   Dark Horse Creepy Presents RICHARD CORBEN

    Browse great Dark Horse Creepy Books Here!

  • Numerous writers, among them Derrick Ferguson and Richard Gavin

  • Rich Yancey’s MONSTRUMOLOGIST series audio books

    :Browse Richard Yancey Books Here!

  • Joe Hill’s Short Story POP ART (from the collection 20TH CENTURY GHOSTS) stands out as one of my favorite, if not THE favorite, short story reads of 2012

  • 20thCentury_hc_c

And these were a few of my favorite things! 🙂

BOOK OF THE DAY: John Varley’s THE PERSISTENCE OF VISION

pervision

BOOK OF THE DAY: John Varley’s THE PERSISTENCE OF VISION

I’ve been off the science fiction kick for a while, with much of what passes for sci-fi today just not interesting me. But thankfully there’s a lot of brilliant scifi from yesteryear waiting to be discovered.

Enter John Varley’s 1978 short story collection… THE PERSISTENCE OF VISION. I’m still in process, but so far the first story alone, THE PHANTOM OF KANSAS is worth the price of the book all by itself.

The story is just so imaginative, particularly if you consider when it was done, and yet you sense far closer to where we may be going as a society than is comfortable. He jams so many mind-blowing concepts into a story, with throwaway ease.

So hunt up the collection and give it a read. I think it will make a fan of those people who do not care for sci-fi.

WHAT I’M READING: SONG OF THE SILENT SNOW

“Many, many years ago a man told me that to deny my dream was to sell my soul. I was young and did not know that the words were finding their own particular place within me so they would be mine forever, but I do remember blinking my eyes and nodding my head as if the very motion was forcing the truth in what he said deeper within me.”

—OF WHALES AND DREAMS by Hubert Selby

SONG OF THE SILENT SNOW is a 1986 short story collection by Hubert Selby, the author of LAST EXIT TO BROOKLYN, a few stories in and I find the collection both bittersweet and endearing, with a lovely use of language and longing. Recommended.

Song of the Silent Snow (Penguin Modern Classics)

BOOK OF THE DAY: GRAHAM MASTERTON’s FESTIVAL OF FEAR! Plus Food poisoning and hamburgers!

So I almost returned Graham Masterton’s short story collection FESTIVAL OF FEAR to the library, relatively unread. The reason being the first story, PRESS, was just not grabbing me.

It felt very opaque, I couldn’t get into it. A short story, the first couple pages I just found incredibly un-engaging, and found myself rereading them to try to get into the story.

So I was all set to just call it a day, as I have no shortage of books on my towering ‘to-read’ pile, awaiting my attention; so there’s very little reason to force myself to plow through a book that is not grabbing me. However, for whatever reason when I went to take the book back, it ended up coming back home with me.

I think the Library (greatest human invention) was closed. So getting back home, I finally gave that first story a full reading, managing to finish it this time, and it, PRESS, wasn’t great by any stretch of the imagination, ending with one of those ‘O’Henry’ type puns. However, while not great, it was… good. And I do appreciate a good pun.

The second story, THE BURGERS OF CALAIS, was even better, far more insidious and smart, but likewise ended with an almost groan inducing pun, one so old it should creak. But rather than put me off, the seemingly irreverent, tongue-in-cheek nature of the writing… I felt growing on me. And coming as it did right before my bout with food poisoning, the story now seems particularly apt.

So two stories in, FESTIVAL OF FEAR is today’s book of the day. I’ll keep you gals and gorillas apprised as I work my way through the rest. But for right now it is recommended!

************
(The squeamish should avoid the following! You have been warned!)

Regarding the food poisoning, since I said I would mention it, here’s the 2cent version.

To be brief, a hole in the wall pizzeria, 2 slices of cheese pizza, the usual shady/sundry counter types who you are trusting to be clean enough to actually touch/prepare food, and someone who obviously wasn’t clean enough. My body is pretty much well tuned, so to be not too involved, I’m regular and efficient as a swiss clock.

Uhhh, I’ll never look at Swiss clocks the same way again. 🙂

Meaning I’m in and out with precision (how did we get on this subject?). The trains must Roll!!!!

So I don’t get the idea of people who spend enough time in the bathroom that they have time to read.

What the heck is that about?! If you’re on the toilet that long, you need to get yourself checked.

Plus I think any paper in your bathroom should only be for flushing, otherwise it’s nothing but a germ collector going from hand to hand. Could there be anything more disgusting than reading material sitting in a bathroom, use after use, bowel movement after bowel movement, flush after flush?

Answer: No there’s nothing more disgusting. 🙂

You want to read that’s what a bloody library, or your bedroom, or a living room couch is for. Reading material should not be in the bloody bathroom!

SAVAGES!!!!

🙂 (Yes, I am evil)

Anyhow all that to say, when something disagrees with me I notice, and there is no guesswork involved. I think a lot of people don’t listen to their bodies, and they accept as normal, reactions that are screaming to them… huge warnings in large brightly lit neon letters.

So yeah, needless to say that pizzeria joins a list of blacklisted places. a full list of which I’ll be happy to provide. Heh, heh heh!

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


‘You’re right, Velma. It’s weird, but it’s not unusual for hamburger meat to be contaminated. In fact it’s more usual than unusual, which is why I never eat hamburgers.

‘I don’t know if I want to hear this, John.’

‘You should Velma. See — they used to have federal inspectors in every slaughterhouse, but the Reagan administration wanted to save money, so they allowed the meat-packing industry to take care of its own hygiene procedures. Streamlined Inspection System for Cattle, that’s what they call it — SIS-C.’

‘I never heard of that, John.’

‘Well, Velma, as an ordinary citizen you probably wouldn’t have. But the upshot was that when they had no USDA inspectors breathing down their necks, most of the slaughterhouses doubled their line speed, and that meant there was much more risk of contamination. I mean you can imagine a dead cow hanging up by its heels and a guy cutting its stomach open, and then heaving out its intestines by hand, which they still do, that’s a very skilled job, and if a gutter makes one mistake — floop! — everything goes everywhere, blood, guts, dirt, manure, and that happens to one in five cattle. Twenty percent.’

‘Oh, my God.’

‘Oh, it’s worse than that, Velma. These days, with SIS-C, meat-packers can get away with processing far more diseased cattle. I’ve seen cows coming into the slaughterhouse with abscesses and tapeworms and measles. The beef scraps they ship out for hamburgers are all mixed up with manure, hair, insects, metal filings, urine and vomit.’

‘You’re making me feel nauseous, John. I had a hamburger for supper last night.’

‘Make it your last, Velma. It’s not just the contamination, it’s the quality of the beef they use. Most of the cattle they slaughter for hamburgers are old dairy cattle, because they’re cheap and their meat isn’t too fatty. But they’re full of antibiotics and they’re often infected with E.coli and salmonella. You take just one hamburger, that’s not the meat from a single animal, that’s mixed up meet from dozens or even hundreds of different cows, and it only takes one diseased cow to contaminate thirty-two thousand pounds of ground beef.’

‘That’s like a horror story, John.’

‘You’re too right, Velma.’
—-THE BURGERS OF CALAIS by Graham Masterton

WEDNESDAYS WORDS

WEDNESDAYS WORDS is a new weekly installment that ranks the most interesting, intriguing books of the week (old, new, reissues, digital, etc). Contributors represent a variety of genres and sources. Each book includes Title and publisher blurb.

A one item, abbreviated WEDNESDAYS WORDS. Enjoy 🙂 :

Collected Stories of Ray Bradbury: A Critical Edition : 1938-1943

Book Description
Publication Date: February 21, 2011 | Series: Collected Stories of Ray Bradbury
Inaugurating a critical edition of one of America’s most popular storytellers

In the past, collections of Bradbury’s works have juxtaposed stories with no indication as to the different time periods in which they were written. Even the mid- and late-career collections that Bradbury himself compiled contained stories that were written much earlier–a situation that has given rise to misconceptions about the origins of the stories themselves. In this new edition, editors William F. Touponce and Jonathan R. Eller present for the first time the stories of Ray Bradbury in the order in which they were written. Moreover, they use texts that reflect Bradbury’s earliest settled intention for each tale. By examining his relationships with his agent, editor, and publisher, Touponce and Eller’s textual commentaries document the transformation of the stories–and Bradbury’s creative understanding of genre fiction–from their original forms to the versions known and loved today.

Volume 1 covers the years 1938 to 1943 and contains thirteen stories that have never appeared in a Bradbury collection. For those that were previously published, the original serial forms recovered in this volume differ in significant ways from the versions that Bradbury popularized over the ensuing years. By documenting the ways the stories evolved over time, Touponce and Eller unveil significant new information about Bradbury’s development as a master of short fiction.

Each volume in the proposed three-volume edition includes a general introduction, chronology, summary of unpublished stories, textual commentary for each story, textual apparatus, and chronological catalog. The Collected Stories of Ray Bradbury is edited to the highest scholarly standards by the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies and bears the Modern Language Association’s seal of approval for scholarly editions.

I have my doubts in regards to people dusting off early, arguably rough draft versions of Bradbury’s stories and compiling these as if they are offering something significantly new. However the statement that these stories, have not been collected before is intriguing.

Though perhaps the reason they have not been collected is because, they were the imperfect forms of stories that Ray Bradbury went on to perfect.

So beyond the obvious… he got better, I’m unsure what, of value, can be mined from this approach. And what critical analysis one can offer on Bradbury’s stories, that are not inherent in a/the stories themselves or b/ Bradbury’s discussion of his stories that thankfully the great man left us with, in multiple forms, from books, radio, television, and even film. Bradbury being perhaps one of the most consulted and interviewed writers of our time.

Rather than a best of compilation, or even a chronological compilation, the selling point of this book would seemingly be… this is the rough draft compilation.

I’m not sure if that’s the collection, that any writer wants of their work.

But this is all guesswork. I’ll withhold final judgment till I can get a reading copy. And the fact that I’m intrigued enough to give this a look means it is… WEDNESDAYS WORDS material.


The WEDNESDAYS WORDS column is a new blog feature, appearing (you guessed it!) every Wednesday. Come back next week to see which books make the list!

If you’re a publisher, writer, or other creative representative looking to submit items for WEDNESDAYS WORDS, just leave a comment on this post with your email/contact info, comments don’t get posted they come right to me, and I’ll reach out to you with the snail mail details.

And as far as readers, if you see items on WEDNESDAYS WORDS you’re considering purchasing then, if you are able and would like to support this blog, please utilize the attached links.

Your helpful purchases through those links, generates much appreciated pennies to keep this blog running. Your feedback and support… just way cool, and way appreciated. Thanks!

Sponsored by Ebay Store: Deals of the Day!

WEDNESDAY WORDS! TOP BOOKS OF THE WEEK!

WEDNESDAYS WORDS is a new weekly installment that ranks the most interesting, intriguing books of the week (old, new, reissues, digital, etc). Contributors represent a variety of genres and sources. Each book includes Title and publisher blurb.


How Your House Works: A Visual Guide to Understanding and Maintaining Your Home, Updated and Expanded (RSMeans) by Charlie Wing. Understand how to maintain everything in your home—including the kitchen sink

How Your House Works, Second Edition reinforces the fact that it pays to be an informed consumer. Knowledge of your home’s systems helps you control repair and construction costs and makes sure the correct elements are being installed or replaced. How Your House Works uncovers the mysteries behind just about every major appliance and building element in your house. Clear, full-color drawings show you exactly how these things should be put together and how they function, including what to check if they don’t work.

Covering topics such as electrical systems, heating and air conditioning, plumbing, major household appliances, foundation, framing, doors, and windows, this updated Second Edition has considerable additional information, with new chapters related to sustainability in and outside the house, as well as new topics, including clock thermostats, ventless gas heaters, moisture and mold, and passive solar heating.

Jazz Age Josephine: Dancer, singer–who’s that, who? Why, that’s MISS Josephine Baker, to you!
Jazz Age Josephine [Hardcover]- A picture book biography that will inspire readers to dance to their own beats!

Singer, dancer, actress, and independent dame, Josephine Baker felt life was a performance. She lived by her own rules and helped to shake up the status quo with wild costumes and a you-can’t-tell-me-no attitude that made her famous. She even had a pet leopard in Paris!

From bestselling children’s biographer Jonah Winter and two-time Caldecott Honoree Marjorie Priceman comes a story of a woman the stage could barely contain. Rising from a poor, segregated upbringing, Josephine Baker was able to break through racial barriers with her own sense of flair and astonishing dance abilities. She was a pillar of steel with a heart of gold—all wrapped up in feathers, sequins, and an infectious rhythm.

Mekanika – ‘Mekanika,’ issued in 2000, is the first collection of work from this Argentinan born artist. Almost all the work here dates after his decision to relocate to Europe, which seemed to trigger a creative flowering… The reader will find both published and unknown work here plus an interesting discussion by the artist himself. If you are a lover of works of the imagination this is a collection that is required reading, and has become hard to find.’-AMAZON Review

King: A Comics Biography, Special Edition
King: A Comics Biography, Special Edition [Hardcover] – A special expanded edition of a Fantagraphics classic. “Anderson uses a film noir style, with a Wellesian mastery of shadows and moods.”—Vibe
Ho Che Anderson has spent over 10 years researching, writing, and drawing King, a monumental graphic biography that liberates Martin Luther King Jr. from the saintly, one-dimensional, hagiographic image so prevalent in pop culture. Here is King—father, husband, politician, deal broker, idealist, pragmatist, inspiration to millions—brought to vivid, flesh-and-blood life.

Out of print since 2006, King is Fantagraphics’ most-requested reprint. In recognition of the advances made in American social equality that has made it possible to elect America’s first black President, Fantagraphics Books is publishing King: The Special Edition, a newly designed volume that includes the original 240-page graphic biography, as well as nearly a hundred additional pages of “extras,”.


T. E. LAWRENCE AND THE ARAB REVOLT: An Illustrated Guide

Guerrilla Leader: T. E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt [Hardcover]
James Schneider (Author) – Publication Date: November 8, 2011
Reclaiming T. E. Lawrence from hype and legend, James J. Schneider offers a startling reexamination of this leader’s critical role in shaping the modern Middle East. Just how did this obscure British junior intelligence officer, unschooled in the art of war, become “Lawrence of Arabia” and inspire a loosely affiliated cluster of desert tribes to band together in an all-or-nothing insurgency against their Turkish overlords? The answers have profound implications for our time as well, as a new generation of revolutionaries pulls pages from Lawrence’s playbook of irregular warfare.

Blowing up trains and harassing supply lines with dynamite and audacity, Lawrence drove the mighty armies of the Ottoman Turks to distraction and brought the Arabs to the brink of self-determination. But his success hinged on more than just innovative tactics: As he immersed himself in Arab culture, Lawrence learned that a traditional Western-style hierarchical command structure could not work in a tribal system where warriors lead not only an army but an entire community. Weaving quotations from Lawrence’s own writings with the histories of his greatest campaigns, Schneider shows how this stranger in a strange land evolved over time into the model of the self-reflective, enabling leader who eschews glory for himself but instead seeks to empower his followers. Guerrilla Leader also offers a valuable analysis of Lawrence’s innovative theories of insurgency and their relevance to the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East.

With insights into Lawrence’s views on discipline, his fear of failure, and his enduring influence on military leadership in the twenty-first century, Guerrilla Leader is a bracingly fresh take on one of the great subjects of the modern era.


The Works: Anatomy of a City
The Works: Anatomy of a City [Paperback] by Kate Ascher – A fascinating guided tour of the ways things work in a modern city. Have you ever wondered how the water in your faucet gets there? Where your garbage goes? What the pipes under city streets do? How bananas from Ecuador get to your local market? Why radiators in apartment buildings clang?

Using New York City as its point of reference, The Works takes readers down manholes and behind the scenes to explain exactly how an urban infrastructure operates. Deftly weaving text and graphics, author Kate Ascher explores the systems that manage water, traffic, sewage and garbage, subways, electricity, mail, and much more. Full of fascinating facts and anecdotes, The Works gives readers a unique glimpse at what lies behind and beneath urban life in the twenty-first century.

Beneath the Metropolis: The Secret Lives of Cities
Beneath the Metropolis: The Secret Lives of Cities [Paperback]- The pulse of great cities may be most palpable above ground, but it is below the busy streets where we can observe their rich archaeological history and the infrastructure that keeps them running.

In Beneath the Metropolis journalist Alex Marshall investigates how geological features, archaeological remnants of past civilizations, and layered networks transporting water, electricity, and people, have shaped these cities through centuries of political turbulence and advancements in engineering — and how they are determining the course of the cities’ future.

From the first-century catacombs of Rome, the New York subway system, and the swamps and ancient quays beneath London, to San Francisco’s fault lines, the depleted aquifer below Mexico City, and Mao Tse-tung’s extensive network of secret tunnels under Beijing, these subterranean environments offer a unique cross-section of a city’s history and future.

Stunningly illustrated with colorful photographs, drawings, and maps, Beneath the Metropolis reveals the hidden worlds beneath our feet, and charts the cities’ development through centuries of forgotten history, political change, and technological innovation.

The WEDNESDAYS WORDS column is a new blog feature, appearing (you guessed it!) every Wednesday. Come back next week to see which books make the list!

If you’re a publisher, writer, or other creative representative looking to submit items for WEDNESDAYS WORDS, just leave a comment on this post with your email/contact info, comments don’t get posted they come right to me, and I’ll reach out to you with the snail mail details.

And as far as readers, if you see items on WEDNESDAYS WORDS you’re considering purchasing then, if you are able and would like to support this blog, please utilize the attached links.

Your helpful purchases through those links, generates much appreciated pennies to keep this blog running. Your feedback and support… just way cool, and way appreciated. Thanks!

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What I am Reading: Saturday Selections

Well I got up with the sun still low in the horizon, I could see it from my window, and I grabbed a passel of books and my laptop, parked my chair where the sun would hit it, and set out to combine reading with updating this blog.

So what was on my read list?

Imaro
I’m rereading Charles Saunder’s IMARO VOL I. I’m on chapter one, great read.

The Spider Chronicles SC (New Printing)
I’m reading for the first time the 2007 Moonstone Anthology THE SPIDER CHRONICLES edited by Joe Gentile.  It consists of 19 short stories by some great writers. Among them Steve Englehart, Chuck Dixon, Martin Powell, Ron Fortier and others.

Reading the fun introduction by Comic Book legend Denny O’Neil.  And the first story, Martin Powell’s CITY OF THE MELTING DEAD, takes you right into the action, with a very cinematic tale of the Master of Men.

The Spider: City of Doom (Spider (Baen Books))
Continuing the Spider love, a pulp character I was not familiar with (beyond reference to him as a poor man’s Shadow) I also picked up the 2009 Baen publishing paperback THE SPIDER: CITY OF DOOM.  It’s actually a 600 page paperback omnibus, that is comprised of three Spider novels, namely: THE CITY DESTROYER, THE COUNCIL OF EVIL and THE FACELESS ONE, written by Norvell Page. I had some trepidation going into these novels based on some reviews on Norvell Page’s writing, but I’ve decided to see for myself. So wish me luck. 🙂

“If you’ve read any of Norvell Page’s Spider series, you recall he took what was meant to be a simple imitation of the Shadow and immediately swerved left to careen through Crazy Town with it. Those stories are so over the top that I used to put them down sometimes for a “What the hell” moment…. it’s difficult to overstate how whacky and exciting they are. On the other hand, don’t expect a neat tidy resolution at the end. This isn’t Ellery Queen, where every detail fits together perfectly. Page apparently made it up as he went, starting plot threads he completely forgot and taking off in different directions halfway through. You’d have to read the stories to fully understand what I mean, but reading a Norvell Page Spider story is like being in a car hurtling down a mountainside in the wintertime, the brakes out and the driver unconscious and some sort of large animal growling in the seat behind you. That’s THE SPIDER.”— Dr. Hermes Live Journal

Alan Moore’s Neonomicon
I also picked up the graphic novel NEONOMICON by Alan Moore, Jacen Burrows, and Antony Johnston (yet once again, I’ve been hoodwinked by ‘positive’ Amazon reviews, by reviewers with no taste or sense). 

It’s something I’m immediately sorry I bought. Mainly because it starts off with the exceedingly unpleasant, needlessly slur and epitaph laden, and pretty poorly written THE COURTYARD by Antony Johnston off of a Moore story/script. I’m not really interested in listening to a bigoted sob go on endlessly (the protagonist of the book), if that’s my thing I’d just listen to Fox news all the time. :). Also while I appreciate publisher Avatar bringing us esoteric and adult books, their art leaves a bit to be desired. I’m not a fan of their artists, in this case that would be Jacen Burrows.

So yeah, add a story I don’t like with art I don’t like, and this equals me not being a fan of THE COURTYARD at all. The fact that THE COURTYARD takes up half the book, means by the time I get to the NEONOMICON story, I’m so soured on the book I just don’t care. But I drag myself through it and you know what, I’m sorry I wasted the effort. A lot has been made of the sex, and violence and racism, yada yada yada. But really the book is defined by two words I had hoped not to associate with Alan Moore… boring and stupid.

Being a fan of much of Moore’s 80s and 90s work (even into the 2000s, I think his FROM HELL is one of his best works, right up there with WATCHMEN), it gives me no pleasure to say the following. Moore’s NEONOMICON, his love letter to HP Love craft, is just inane, pathetic writing from a writer who had been one of the best. And I’ve lost all respect for The Bram Stoker committee for giving an award to this title. Best Graphic Novel of the year?!! Did they just see the names Moore and Lovecraft, and decide this must be literary? Are you on Crack?! What a load of crap! NEONOMICON comes across as the bland, pedestrian work of a hack. And that’s a shame to have to say. But it’s the gospel. It’s not worth buying people, it is not even worth renting. This book is getting returned.

Silent Hill: Past Life
Now a graphic novel I’m reading that I do like quite a bit is SILENT HILL PAST LIFE from a company called IDW that is just exploding onto the comics/graphic novel scene. Written by Tom Waltz the story is capable but the selling point is the sublime art by Menton 3. It’s very reminiscent of the multi-media effects that David Mack is known for. Few pages in and very happy with the book so far.

Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes
And finally one I’m several chapters into is Andrew E.C. Gaska’s CONSPIRACY OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Initially when I ordered this book I thought I was getting a graphic novel, and was a bit put off to discover this was a prose novel, with spot and occasional full page illustrations.

But that reluctance was short lived once I started reading it. Gaska’s CONSPIRACY OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is GREAT!! I’m not even a Planet of the Apes fan, but was just enthralled by Gaska’s engrossing re-imagining of this well known story. I should finish it today, as it will probably take precedence over everything else.

One more thing on this book from publisher Archaia Press, it comes with a beautiful slipcover by living legend Jim Steranko, but once you take off that slipcover, underneath is this sumptuous faux leather book, with gorgeous patining and typography. Call me a twisted bibliophile but the feel of this book is grand. It feels like… luxury. Try and get that aesthetic from your digital book. :). This is definitely a writer to watch.

So that’s what I’ve been reading this bright Saturday. What about you gals and guys? Feel free to leave comments about your recommended reads today. Thanks!!

p.s. If you like the books I mention and are interested in purchasing, definitely use the handy-dandy links provided. Come’on guys I know how many of you view these posts, and it’s a good number, however people clicking on the links has dropped a bit, even as the number of viewers has increased. So gals and guys support the blog, by buying stuff you were intending to buy anyhow. Using the links makes a huge difference, and is a win-win situation for everyone. So Thanks in advance! 🙂

DVD Review & Contest: THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS by H.P. Lovecraft

I do find it amazing how much and how quickly you can write, when on an Absinthe/Peyote high.

Hmmm.

Interesting.

Anyhow, onto the blog post, speaking of mind altering experiences…

I put a lot of work into these blog posts, and whether you agree or disagree with what is said, you can come here day in and day out, and know this is a man who will chew his veins open, in an attempt to say it well.

I strive for that type of ethic in myself, and I appreciate that kind of dedication in others. And this post is about a whole group of such people.

The good folks at the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society were kind enough to send me a screening copy of their film THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS, the second in their feature length HP Lovecraft films (The first being a 72 minute film, done in the style of the Silents, called The Call of Cthulhu: The Celebrated Story by H.P. Lovecraft).

The Whisperer in Darkness DVD

The Call of Cthulhu: The Celebrated Story by H.P. Lovecraft DVD

Going into the story, while familiar with quite a few Lovecraft stories (some I like, some I don’t), I was unfamiliar with THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS. So beyond knowing the standard Lovecraft constants of Miskatonic University, a creeping darkness from beyond, and a penchant for New England and florid language, I was a blank slate.

A dynamic opening shot, very much crafted in the style of the period, manages to set the tone of the film. Something that is not a homage, but rather a wonderful invocation of early 20th century film language.

As a fan of German Expressionism and Film Noir, the deep focus, and lush B&W photography, and consuming shadows and sharp angles they utilize to tell this period tale, very much play to my personal preferences, and I would think the the preferences of any who bring an appreciation of Universal Films or even Hammer Films (they made some very compelling B&W films) to the table.

But the look of a film will only take you so far, if you don’t have a strong protagonist and a strong actor to helm your film.

In Matt Foyer’s Albert Wilmarth, this film has both.

Matt Foyer’s performance is excellent. All the more so because he takes a character type that we are all familiar with from legions of horror films and books, namely the disbelieving and infuriating skeptic (who blithely saunters into a danger that the audience of course sees coming), and makes of a caricature something with character.

So the strength of Foyer’s performance, complemented by the writing, is that his Albert Wilmarth doesn’t come across as a fool, or an obtuse, to the point of stupidity, skeptic. His Wilmarth comes across as a sympathetic character, who believes in an orderly world, a rational world.

And we journey with him, as slowly those worthy beliefs… begin to crumble.

There’s something quite likable and endearing about Matt Foyer throughout. It’s a performance you’d be hard pressed to find in a film with ten times the budget. and the whole cast gives such compelling performances.

Among them Stephen Blackehart as the ever smiling Charlie Tower and Daniel Kaemon as the sardonic P.F. Noyes.

This is Kaemon’s first feature film, it will definitely not be his last.

And you can just go up and down the credits and everywhere you stop you’re going to find an actor who gave a great performance in this film, from Barry Lynch as the chuckling Henry Akeley, Matt Lagan as Nathaniel Ward (a friend, the voice of caution, who has been to the abyss… and endured) and impressive young newcomer Autumn Wendel as Hannah Masterson, It’s the kind of film actors are proud to have on their cv, one rich in performances and chances… to act.

And the crew is every bit as talented as the cast.

Beautifully shot film, smartly written (and I’ll come back to that in a minute), impressively scored by Troy Sterling Nies (I like how the percussion at times rolls up on you), for the most part well paced (it does begin to feel a bit long in the 2nd act, but stick with it, as the film kicks in the burners with the third act), and excellently directed by Sean Branney.

The special effects are used sparsely and effectively, particularly given the budgetary constraints. Most of the effects are designed not to call attention to themselves, and work very well. There’s some CGI that rears its head pretty massively in the third act, that can’t help but call attention to itself… but by that point I didn’t mind it.

By that time you are either with the story or you are not, and I was with it and quite enjoying myself.

Now in the interest of full disclosure, I must say that I was on the fence with the film, during the 2nd act (almost completely set in the house). during that juncture the film began to feel… long.

But the third act kicks in, and it’s all quite engrossing till the end. The final act making the film for me, all in all… creating a film that not only am I happy to have seen, but very happy to recommend.

And if, like me, you enjoy making of featurettes and behind the scenes segments then splurge and get the Deluxe Two-DVD Set. I am a huge special features fan, for me a movie worth owning is a movie worth watching again, and one you want to listen to commentary about.

THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS is that kind of film.

The second disk in the deluxe set also sports a couple easter eggs, appropriate considering when I’m posting this. One easter egg involves a rabbit, or maybe it’s a guinea pig, some kind of furry creature. 🙂 Then there’s one ‘after wrap’ easter egg scene, and of course numerous extras. As a package, it’s informative and fun.

Also, I’ve never seen a film with this many subtitle options. If you want to learn 23 different languages get this DVD. 🙂 (but No Amharic? No Swahili?)

And one comment regarding THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS film versus HP Lovecraft’s THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS short story: There are MAJOR differences.

I picked up an audio reading of the story after watching the film, and at the risk of annoying Lovecraft fanatics everywhere, while Lovecraft’s original is a richly detailed story, I don’t think it is a good story.

The Whisperer in Darkness: Collected Short Stories Vol I (Tales of Mystery & the Supernatural) (v. 1)

Yep, I said it.

Bring it.

BRING IT!

Fools will have me uppercutting you around here! 🙂

But seriously, I was underwhelmed by the original story. and I think the filmmakers’ changes (addition of characters, creations of scenes, adding a third act) turned an aloof stream of consciousness vignette into a dramatic full featured story. The film took four years to complete, three of those years being the two writers working on the script. My humble opinion, that time and effort paid off.

Lovecraftian purists may disagree. However considering this film was made by the HP Lovecraft Historical Society I don’t really see anyone being more of a purist than these guys.

So Final Verdict, on a scale of: ‘avoid’, ‘catch it on tv maybe’, ‘rent or stream it’, or ‘Buy the DVD’. My vote is Buy It. It’s one you’ll revisit. Grade: B+.

And putting my money where my mouth is, the 15th person to leave a comment saying “This sounds great! Thank you HT and The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society! I want a copy!” wins a copy of the DVD.

Yep, I said it.

Leave a comment, be the 15th person, win a DVD.

I won’t post any of those comments, I approve all comments so nothing gets posted automatically, they come direct to me. The 15th post (only one post per person is counted so no multi posting) wins the DVD. Include your email address when you leave your comment so I can notify you if you win.

Cool?

Cool!

Now get out of here and hug somebody! Did I tell you your Momma dresses you funny?!!

Well now you know. 🙂 .

Oh, I’m kidding! I love you gals and guys!!

—-HT

Oh, and one more thing before you leave. Just, uhh… turn off those lights.

Yes, yes like that.

Now follow my voice,

yes…

yes…

come closer. closer….

closer. I want you here,

that’s it

beside me,

in the darkness…

so that I may…

Whisper to you.

(Man, I just creeped my own self out. :))

PODCAST OF THE DAY: Neil Gaiman’s THE TRUTH IS A CAVE IN THE BLACK MOUNTAINS

“It is the curse of age, that all things are reflections of other things.”
–THE TRUTH IS A CAVE IN THE BLACK MOUNTAINS

You want to listen to something that is as beautiful as it is stunning, then listen to Neil Gaiman’s award winning THE TRUTH IS A CAVE IN THE BLACK MOUNTAINS as read by Richard Smith here, and be moved as you listen to a lyric tale of loss begun and loss ended.

It’s slow and languid and lovely. Starts at 12 minutes 40 seconds.

Artwork by Richard Wagner

Presented by SFF Audio and Star Ship Sofa.


“I take no joy in killing. No man should, and no woman. Sometimes death is necessary, but it is always an evil thing.”
— THE TRUTH IS A CAVE IN THE BLACK MOUNTAINS