Saturday, August 28, 2010

You Blow Me Awaaaayyyy!

Always enjoyed the Monty Python troupe. In high school I saw The Holy Grail and it was all downhill from there ;-). Actually that was just the beginning for me. As a music nut I discovered they had some comedy albums, and I snatched those up from my local used record store as fast as I could earn the pennies to buy them. Oh, and can you believe my son asked me why I called a song a "record" on the radio the other day? Man.. times have changed... I did say, well it's still a record-ing, but yes I bring my past with me, part of the Dave package :-).

Excuse me, I digress... Python's song "Sit on My Face and Tell Me That You Love Me" is one of my all time teenage favorites (see how I try and throw that back to my "teenage" years... hoping that my peeps will think I am more mature these days. Hey! I heard that back in the peanut gallery!). Along with the skits like Dead Parrot, Cheese Shop, and the Bookstore that was a front for secret agents, all the shows, and the fil-ems. And of course I've followed most of their solo careers as well. Thanks to Kelly and Matt, they took us to see Spam-O-Lot last year - what a riot! I wondered how they could pull this off on stage. But Eric Idle (and I believe Neil Innes?) wrote some great new songs for this show. They revisited The Holy Grail, and gave us new and entertaining bits as well. Heh, heh, I said "bits."

I bring up the Python's because I finally got a chance to see their wonderful 2009 documentary, "Monty Python: Almost the Truth." It's six episodes, running about 5 hours in length, that take you down memory lane and then some. With the back story of so much of this troupe's career, and the where and why of so much that was just happenstance creation (hey, really, isn't most of it all just happenstance?). It really was great fun with to visit with them in new interviews with the Python's (except for Graham Chapman of course, who passed away) along with many guests and regulars from the show who share their often hilarious moments.

I did learn in this show that Terry Jones, one of the Python's, actually "saved" all the episodes we see today. The BBC, instead of keeping a lot of the shows they taped, they would save the 90 pounds per tape and "re-use" them! What you say?! You read that right. There is a lot of material that was not saved, especially from the 60's, that is not available because they "taped over" these original shows. Terry Jones told them he would buy each tape from them to keep the shows history. Ironically, it was the BBC who came to him years later and asked if they could borrow the tapes to play the shows! If you remember in our country, it was actor/creator Jackie Gleason who had his shows taped for future presentations. Of course at the time the studios couldn't foresee these would be seen again. And that was in the 50's. So thank you Terry Jones, and Jackie Glesason, for insuring that we all got to see your shows, again, and again, and again.

So a big WATCH THIS goes out to Monty Python: Almost the Truth. It's perfect for us fans, and if you've never seen the Python's, this is a good introduction to this kooky, wacky troupe.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Science Fiction: Text or Celluloid?

I have to tell ya, I love science fiction on the tube, the big screen, I'll take it wherever I can get it. Ironically, I'm not a big fan of Science Fiction in text form. If there's a story in there, then okay, I can read it. Too technical and I don't want to keep up. I know this is why horror fiction always pulled me in. It was the story of what the characters had to go through, to make it, to LIVE! Sure, it's fiction, and sure, it's a story that you most likely would never let yourself get into (unless you joined the local sacrificial cult, then yer askin' for it bubba), but you can probably relate to most situations in a horror tale. Science fiction, again there are the exceptions, never really pulled me in like horror has.

This brings me to Invasion: Earth, a six episode BBC series from 1998. Yes, that's right, I've just seen it 12 years later (thank you NetFlix!). This one does have a story, and I began to get involved with the characters, I was hooked. So this is where it gets interesting, the aliens are infiltrating (I won't tell you how or why) our system, our world as it were. And of course they're coming to take over the UK first! Better call up Manchester to come and kick some arse (that and a few pints of Guinness at their side). As we go along in the story, you have to wrap your head around the fact that this story is dealing with some weird avenues of "science" fiction. Which they continue throughout the whole series. They didn't just plop a little science fiction down in the first episode and then start kicking the alien ass. No, there is science all over this bad boy. But again, they kept a story going, with characters you like (and dislike) that makes you want to continue to tune in for the next episode. So if you have a chance, watch this, it's not your SGC or Star Trek, but I dare say it's a thinking mans story. Not that I have any idea about some of the science in this, ( certainly, mostly fiction ) but it was very interesting. As I'm watching the credits, (yes, I'm one of those), I see one of the names under "Story" is none other than Stephen Baxter. Yes "that" Stephen Baxter. The science fiction writer, who is known for "heavy in the science" department of his fiction. Which brought me back to yes, this is a science fiction story. Truly.

On science fiction in text, as well as film, that I've really found informative is The British Science Fiction Society for a lot of up-to-date happenings, interviews, and the like. Those British have a lot going on, (thankfully!) and of course a lot of their work gets published over here in the US as well. Some very specialized releases are coming from PS Publishing in the UK these days, in signed and limited releases from science fiction and horror writers.

You can get a great idea of PS Publishing in one of their Postscripts anthologies. The Michael Marshall Smith issue is particularly good and if features many authors like Chris Fowler, Rick Hautala, Connie Willis, Tim Lebbon, Joe Hill, Mark Morris, Stephen King (you've heard of him ;-), and a lot more.
You can see more about POSTSCRIPTS 10 at the Overlook Connection Bookstore.

Visit the British Science Fiction Association home page HERE!

Creeeeeek...."Welcome..... Come In"

I love a good story, no matter what the format. Don't we all? I think my beginnings in hearing good stories began when I was very young. As a family we were constantly on the move. In fact I figured out that we moved about every two years until my sophmore year in high school. At least I was able to graduate with my class mates of, count 'em, "three" years. One of the wonderful things I discovered of traveling, moving or otherwise, was late at night they played a radio show I'll never forget. Our father would always search these out on the AM stations and eventually he'd come across it, around 11 pm or, (theme music here please) midnight! It was the CBS Radio Mystery Theater hosted by E.G. Marshall who would intone "Come in... Welcome" with the drums in the beginning, and the weird trumpet eliciting the hairs to stand up on the back of my neck. Hey, I was a kid, and this was scary stuff! The show featured actors from all walks of life. Anyone out there remember those? Man, that was some cool listening material. Some of of it was mystery, but some splashes of supernatural and un-explained, were thrown in there too. At least that's how I remember it. And yes, this is the official logo for the CBS Mystery Theater.

Later, as an adult, I learned writers for this show were Alfred Bester (who received the first Hugo Award ever given for Best Novel for The Demolished Man in 1953), and Henry Slesar ( many episodes of Alfred Hitchcock presents, Man From U.N.C.L.E., Twilight Zone, Tales of the Unexpected). And then there's Sam Dann, the writer that wrote 311 (out of 1,399) episodes of the CBS Radio Theater between 1974 and 1982. Where's his award? Whew!

I did learn from Wikipedia that: the episode "Children of Death", broadcast February 5, 1976, written by Sam Dann, served as the basis for Dann's 1979 novel, The Third Body, published by Popular Library. Another of his stories for Mystery Theater, "Goodbye Carl Erich" from the 1975 season, was also turned into a novel by the same name, first published in 1985.

Actors? Let me tell ya.... Roy Thinnes ( lead actor in The Invaders), Richard Crenna, Kim Hunter (Planet of the Apes "Zira" for the sci-fi geeks, but she was in decades of film) was in about 25 episodes, Jerry Stiller, Ruby Dee (The Stand), Amanda Plummer, Ed Ames, Kathleen Quinlan, Jerry Orbach, Agnes Moorehead, Kevin McCarthy, (Original Invastion of the Body Snathers), Casey Kasem (the voice of Top 40!), and did you know John Lithgow was in ten episodes! Too many more to mention here.

For years I wanted to share these with my family, but as far as I know they were never produced for public sale. I recently found an MP3 set of all the episodes for a few bucks! For me, this was a wonderful find. I would think there would be market for these episodes. But then again, I grew up in a world of four - FOUR - TV channels, and a few radio stations. Now, you could stay awake 24-7 and "never" be able to see or do all that's available today. Movies, video games that can take days (weeks) to complete, tv series, et el. What's funny about that is, I remember when television stations would go "off" the air at night. They would show the American Flag of the US and play our anthem, and then fooossssshhhhhh white static until the morning programs. The youngun's today can't even imagine a world like that. Hey, don't get me wrong, I like a lot of what I can do today with the technology that's been passed around to us. But in many ways it seems just too busy. With that said, it's time to go out and throw the new Frisbee I bought for the family. Something we can do "outside" and physical. Of course, if we're not sure what we're doing with it, or how to throw it, this Frisbee came with a DVD. Go figger.

Listen to episodes of the CBS Radio Mystery Theater HERE!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Book agent, publisher helped make Stephen King a star

August 14, 2010


NEW YORK -- Elaine Koster, a publisher and literary agent with a knack for new talent who gave a second chance to an obscure horror writer named Stephen King and took on unknown Khaled Hosseini and The Kite Runner, has died... Read complete article here.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Safe "Haven" ? I Dunno....

HAVEN, based on Stephen King's original novel The Colorado Kid, is currently playing on SyFy and it has kept the audience guessing and wondering "where" and "what" will happen next.

Visit the official Haven web site here!

This series is pretty damn good so far (I'm on the 2nd episode as I write this). Check it out when you get a chance. Of course you can view episodes at the SyFy web site too. We'll see where it goes as it has added some extra "thangs" in this story.

Of course we have copies of the original novel, The Colorado Kid by Stephen King, in paperback and signed hardcover releases at The Overlook Connection Bookstore if you need a copy. Just Click HERE!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Movie Madness Part 1: Netflix is My NEW Cyber Buddy

If you don't know me by now, then let me explain: I'm a movie junkie, and I'm always on the prowl. Yes, I'm a bookseller and sometimes I even publish a tome or two, but when the lights go down after the day is done, the kid's in bed, I turn on the telly and see what mischief I can watch tonight.

Netflix! Oh you wonderful idea of a company YOU! I remember when Netflix first began, my first thought was, hell yeah! This is a "no brainer" (yeah, why didn't I think of this?). My actual first thought was, "okay, wait, wait, wait, let me get this straight. Yer tellin' me that I can sit home, pick out my movies on the 'puter, and 3 will arrive immediately (based on your subscription - you get what you pay for - more funds, more movies, less funds, etc.)? Then wait, wait, let me make sure I understand this second part, there are NO LATE CHARGES? I remember when I told my local Blockbuster this a few years ago, they said "oh, but you don't have the ease of this, that and the other." They had to be kidding. Of course they were boasting the no late charges "anymore" too. Yeah, right, they still charged after a certain time frame. Not Netflix! In fact, I discovered that all those indie movies, those special sets, documentaries, all those odd, weird and cool films that I had been looking to see for years, was now a day or two away. Add to your Que and voila! there it was.. waiting in the wings for it to get to my door.

And then, just when I thought I had it all... they go and do something just plain GREAT! I can watch thousands of movies, TV shows, you name it, on my computer. Instantly! Better than that, I can now plug up my DVD player (on my network) and play "any" of those shows on my TV!! Now how great is that! I'm gonna put a refrigerator and a special commode (don't ever here that word anymore do ya?) right in front of the TV. Better yet, why don't I just.... wait.. wait.. my lovely wife is telling me.. if I want to keep a marriage that I will stop my Monty Pythonesque ranting right here. Right.. on with the show... (sorry honey).


THE KILLING KIND: This film starring an effective Andrew Howard and directed by Paul Sarossy, was nothing that I could have foreseen. This is a thriller, killer, psychological mind screw that is predictable one second, and then turns left when you think it's gonna jog right. Jon is dedicated to his job. A job of killing, but a job he has perfected, from start to clean up finish. Although obviously controlled much like a puppet in a Punch and Judy show, he does his job well, and he's effective. Thorough. His boss makes sure he is taken care of, just as long as Jon is doing his dirty work for him. When a chance encounter with an old mate begins to bring him back to humanity, this is when the ball of this tightly wound yarn of a man begins to unravel. Where it goes from there is just funked up. Yes, a very violent flick, you should know this up front, but it has it's down moments as well. Well.. maybe one or two.
I must mention Geraldine O'Rawe whose kind hand and gorgeous face, was perfect for this role. If you have any clue how this film is going to turn out, then I want you to read my palm - you're a miracle worker! I liked to be surprised in a story (although at my age, surprise isn't what I get much anymore :-). I'm not sure surprise is the word I would use here for this film, but like many others before it, I just waited to see where we would go next. Glad I saw it. Not sure how to recommend it, but recommend I do. I think writers will get a kick out of it. Now it's your turn.

GHOST MACHINE: Another one that I enjoyed. A nice surprise actually. Some weekend warriors decide to borrow some high-tech computers, set up some gadgets all over an old prison, and begin playing in cyber space. But with a twist: the gadgets, again placed all over the building, put the cyber gamers within the walls of this prison. As they shoot the "bad guys" coming after them, and around every corner, they fail to see that they're not alone... well... at first. It seems There is now a "Ghost" in their machine, and it is very angry, with deadly intentions. And for good reason it seems. As you're led down the path of the inevitable destruction, some with a really big chain and hook at one end (no Pin Head here), you get caught up in the "what's around the corner" thrills and chills of this ghostly mayhem. There's more going on here than meets the proverbial "eye" and the story is played out well. The actors, mostly unknowns, are a good cast that work well together. A cyber thriller with a nice splash (splashes?) of horror within. A lot of fun and definitely worth watching. All the way to the end. Clink, clink.

Up Next: The Runaways! (with Dakota Fanning? I dunno... I'll let 'cha know next time).