JUST LIKE HELL makes the Top Ten!

Brian Keene has posted his annual top ten list.  I am both honored and amazed to see Just Like Hell sitting at the number one spot!  Some incredible authors make up that list, and it amazes me to come out in front of any of them, let alone all nine.

Please support all the authors on Brian’s list (even if King doesn’t particularly need the money).  Less than twenty copies of Just Like Hell remain, so feel free to support me first.

Thank you very much, Brian.

For the rest of you, just wait until you see what comes next!

Let the Right One In, a review


If another word does a better job of describing this movie, I can’t think of it.  Since seeing this Swedish flick last night, I’ve read some more of the Slash autobiography, had a good night’s sleep, walked the dogs, eaten some breakfast tacos, and enjoyed two cups of coffee–yet I still have this movie bouncing around in my head.

Again.  Wow.

Let the Right One In is the story of Oskar, an awkward boy of twelve living in an apartment with his divorced mother.  He’s a quiet, introspective kid, prone to standing in the snow all alone for no particular reason.  When a girl named Eli moves in next door, Oskar finally finds something close to a friend.  And when he notices how the cold doesn’t affect her and she doesn’t come out during the day, he realizes she must be a vampire.

Let the Right One In may be the best film I’ve seen in at least ten years.  It perfectly captures the awkwardness of adolescence, the tragedy of a broken home, and the  strange wonder of a friendship that may become first love.  This quiet movie is at turns terrifying, cheer-inducing, and breathtaking, and I left the theater feeling like I’d just witnessed something really special.

Young leads Kåre Hedebrant and Lina Leandersson have incredible chemistry together.  They bring their characters to life.  Hedebrant is especially touching as the lonely boy who just wants somebody to care about him.  The kid broke my heart in almost every scene.

Director Tomas Alfredson has created a beautiful film, full of peaceful snow, tender character moments, and a few scenes that cross the line into mind-numbing terror.  I’m amazed at his visual sense, and I can’t wait to see more of his work.

Of course, this isn’t an American film, so there’s already a remake on the way.  Did I mention this movie was only released three weeks ago?  Yeah, look for the stateside version with the jump cutting and emo soundtrack sometime next year.

In the meantime, do whatever you have to in order to catch this almost perfect film.

When people listened to albums

Over at EW.com, they’re discussing the lost art of closing albums.  Good reading.  Their discussion of how the iTunes culture and singles-centric music business is destroying the fine art of creating a great album stirred a more than a few thoughts in my noggin.

See, in July of 2007 I had to write one of those silly meme-things, this one dealing with my Top 5 Side 1, Track 1’s  Basically, my top 5 opening tracks, the opposite of the above list.  You can check out my selections here.

Now, you’ll notice I tagged five people on that list.  Only two responded: Randy and Lee.  Wanna know something sad, though?  Neither of them could do it.  Lee had to give me a top 5 opening tracks to his iTunes playlists.  Randy at least went with opening tracks of real albums, but he used his iTunes to mathematically calculate what songs he listens to the most.  I mean, I’ve heard Barry Manilow’s “Miracle” a million times, but it ain’t one of my favorite songs.

I know both of those guys can do better than that.  Lee’s one of the biggest music fans I know, and I saw Randy’s CD collection before he dumped everything to iTunes.  Damn thing was huge!  It amazes me that neither one of them could just think about their favorite records and come up with their own answers.

But I’m afraid we’re heading to that sort of thing.  I remember waking up and driving an hour into Cincinnati to grab a copy of The Afghan Whigs’ 1965 the day it came out.  I then raced home, set my CD played up in the bathroom where the acoustics were best, and sat on the edge of the bathrub for an hour while I gave the record its first listen.

Compare the above scenario to a few years ago, when I woke up five minutes early to buy The Twilight Singers’ Powder Burns and download to my iPod before I ran off to work.  Nowhere near the same experience.  I’m not even sure the second one qualifies as an experience!

Another example.  I’ve always loved the song “Purple Rain.”  It’s a masterpiece.  However, it wasn’t until the first time I sat through the entire Purple Rain soundtrack to catch that masterpiece at the end that it became something new and wonderful.  As the end of a fantastic record, it’s something epic, much more than just a great song.

I realize I’m getting close to being one of those “In my day” guys, and I don’t want that.  Hell, I’m pretty sure “In my day” is one of the cornerstones of the Republican Party, and I know I want nothing to do with that.  I do, however, want to be able to appreciate records as the sum of their parts again.  I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

Or is it?

Say it ain’t so!

I’m a few days late on this, but I’m usually behind on such things.  Friday, it was announced that Stephen Spielberg and Will Smith plan to remake Oldboy.  Other than being one of my favorite flicks, Oldboy is also one of the most brutal tales of revenge in film history.  It’s an excellent film from top to bottom.  The level of violence and cruelty is matched only by its pathos and bizarre sense of hope.

Speaking of hope…

Let’s hope the Saving Private Ryan Spielberg makes this flick and not the “Let’s put a happy ending on Minority Report and AI” Spielberg.  And let’s hope there’s an entirely new Will Smith involved, not the one that helped lose the basic message of I Am Legend.

Grant Morrison recently said there is nothing more punk rock than optimism.  I’d like to be optimistic, but with all the gay marriage bans, the state of my bank account, and Spielberg and Smith remaking Oldboy… Well, it’s just so hard.

Catching up with Cronenberg

I’m not too proud to admit that I’m far from a genre authority. Five years ago I was a just beginning to discover a world of horror after a decade spent reading comics and watching Comedy Central.  I hadn’t heard of writers who are some of my favorites today.  As a consequence, I’m constantly playing catch up with the genre I call home.

It’s not just books, either.  The amount of classic genre films I haven’t seen hovers somewhere between “Quite a few” and “Fucking staggering.”

So this week I’ll be watching Cronenberg movies.  My Cronenberg experience stops at The Fly, A History of Violence, Eastern Promises, and about half of Scanners.  I think I fell asleep during Naked Lunch once.  Really, that’s not enough when you’re talking about such an incredible director.

Well, I’ve decided to fix that.  At home I currently have copies of Videodrome and The Brood.  Tonight, I’ll start catching up on Cronenberg’s body of work.  Should be a blast.  Later, I’ll watch Scanners and Dead Ringers and all the rest.

So tell me, what are some genre classics you haven’t experienced yet?

So you want to start a horror magazine…

Ugh.  This irks me more and more every goddamn time I see it.  Every few months or so, somebody decides they’re going to start a magazine featuring horror fiction.  Once in a great while, somebody gets it right.  They offer professional rates, professional production values, and professional editorial services.

The other ninety percent, however…


So this guy Ken doesn’t feel like paying his writers a decent rate.  Instead, he’ll toss down $1000 for an artist to provide a cover and what will probably be spot illustrations.

But he wants to be treated as a professional.


Here’s a hint, ladies and gentlemen who want to create a genre market: if you cannot afford to provide pro rates, production values, and editorial across the board, then you are not ready to open a market. Come back when you are ready.  Maybe then you won’t annoy me so goddamn much.

That was cool, but why do I feel so bitter?

Looks like eight years of Republican rule/fuckery is over.  Out country finally has a president who is not a rich white male.  That’s great news.  I doubted we’d ever see such progress in my lifetime.  Of course, that’s because I have no faith in people, who are really the worst form of life on this planet, even worse than dogs or teens.

I remain cautiously optimistic that change is on the way.  Obama has a Democratic Congressional majority, and it’s entirely possible that the Congressional Democrats will finally grow a pair and attempt to accomplish something.

On the other hand…

It looks like California, Florida, and Arizona have banned gay marriage. Arkansas has banned gays from adopting.  There’s a long way to go, because it appears we’re still a nation that only “says” all men are created equal.  It sickens me more than a little, just like it sickened me when my vote didn’t stop a similar ban from passing in Texas last election.

So there’s that.  I’m going to go back to being optimistic now.