Friday, March 31, 2006
Caught Dr. Who on the Sci Fi Channel tonight, and I enjoyed the crap out of it. It's quirky, impressive, sometimes silly, mostly just fun. I haven't watched the Doctor regularly since the days of Peter Davison (whom I always liked a lot in the role), but I think this incarnation has grabbed me. Christopher Eccleston does a fine job, and Billie Piper as Rose is fairly engaging.

Did some serious work tonight on my latest short tale; should be done with it this coming week, barring the dam bursting and creek rising and all that good stuff.


Wednesday, March 29, 2006
My latest essay up at Storytellers Unplugged.


Monday, March 27, 2006
Another obituary that pretty much breaks my heart: Dan Curtis, creator of Dark Shadows and The Night Stalker, among many other noteworthy TV movies and serials, passed away this morning of a brain tumor. His wife of 54 years, Norma, had just died a few weeks ago (March 7). Dark Shadows was one of the most prominent influences on my youthful creativity, and having been able to contribute a novel to the series in 1999 will always be one of the most exciting experiences of my writing career. Dan held Dark Shadows very close to his heart, and it will no doubt be his most memorable achievement. Rest in peace, Dan.


Sunday, March 26, 2006
The reservations took. Got in a bunch of writing today. Not enough, but a bunch. Added some stuff to the News page. (Look left, press "News" button, scroll down.)


Saturday, March 25, 2006
My fingers are on fire. Ouch, I tell you. Went out to some old friends' tonight and jammed on guitar, something I haven't done in so long I no longer have calluses on my fingertips. Regardless, it was much fun; once I start playing, it pretty much comes back to me. Kind of like riding a bicycle, only the guitar doesn't have any wheels, handlebars, or a chain to pop off the sprocket.

Apart from that, I worked in the yard today, getting some much-needed grass seed out on the blasted heath. Consequently, didn't get to work on the latest short story, but I've got reservations in for tomorrow afternoon.


Thursday, March 23, 2006
2:37 A.M. Since I got such a nice long sleep under anesthesia yesterday afternoon, I've not exactly been sleepy. But I'm still a little too loopy to do any serious writing, so I wrote up a Wikipedia entry for Deathrealm. I'll pretty it up later when I'm feeling more coherent.

5:21 P.M. Later... Like, to me, a whole day later. Jeez, my sense of time is all screwed up. I've been getting emails today from people I have no memory of emailing after the endoscopic adventure of yesterday afternoon. One thing has come back to me with nauseating clarity—the fact that I woke up unexpectedly in the middle of the procedure, with this fat-ass tube going down my throat and me gagging furiously, and two nurses trying to calm me down and telling me to breathe through my nose. I apparently went right back out, fortunately, but these last 24 hours, my throat has felt like somebody gave it a good scrubbing with a toilet brush.

In the "I-no-longer-hate-Robert-N.-Lee-department" (which is kind of a departmental misnomer, since I've never actually hated Robert N. Lee, but it's so much fun to say), he posted a link to this incredibly funny ad, and so I must pass it on. Note that this page requires Quicktime for viewing: The Pinch Ad.

Now. Laugh, you.

Later yet: I've learned that author John Morressy, whose story "The Resurrections of Fortunato" will be appearing in Evermore, has passed away at the age of 76. John's career spanned over 40 years and included 25 novels and short story collections. To view a more complete obituary, visit the SFWA news site: http://www.sfwa.org/news/2006/jmorressy.htm. My condolences go to John's surviving family and friends.


Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Home from the office because I have to go in for tests at the hospital later today, due to the diagnosis of diverticulitis (referenced below). Joy. So this morning I wrote my Storytellers Unplugged essay, which will be going up next week (the 29th).

I also received acceptance papers for the Amazon Shorts Program, which will feature my story "Sky of Thunder, Island of Blood." It'll be a few weeks before it goes up, but the folks I know who are in the program seem to be happy with it. I reckon I'm happy too.

Later...I'm back from the tests, feeling a little loopy. Yep, I've got the diverticulums, but very minor. Also a hiatal hernia, which doesn't much surprise me. They did a biopsy to see if I'm suffering from Barrett's espophagus, which can lead to cancer, so I have to go back in a month for a follow-up. But on the upside, mainly I can handle this stuff through a high-fiber diet. Anyone got a spare ball of yarn I can nibble on?


Sunday, March 19, 2006
The missus and I spent spent yesterday and today at my mom's in Virginia, gathering with some friends, and getting in a couple of very long and refreshing walks. Well, I walked; Peggy took naps.

A couple of things hit me in strange emotional places this weekend. Not in bad ways. One, on Friday, I heard somewhere in the distance Johnny Cash's rendition of "Danny Boy," and its echoing strains seemed to be the most mournful sound I had ever heard; so melancholy and lonely that it almost sent me crying. Two, yesterday morning, as I drove down through a distinctly less-than-affluent neighborhood not too far from here, feeling a bit grouchy because every inept asswipe with a driver's license had converged upon me, I saw an elderly black man pulling a little girl in a wagon down the street, his face lit up with a beautiful smile, the little girl laughing and waving at him. They looked so innocent and sweet that I suddenly wasn't grouchy anymore.

Then I drove to Virginia, and all the asswipes converged on me again with a vengeance.


Friday, March 17, 2006
Dinner tonight with artist Wayne Miller and his S. O. Carmen.  Thai, not Irish, but at home, the beer was green.
 


Thurday, March 16, 2006
I received a request from Avalon Books to blurb Bill Trotter's upcoming horrific fantasy, Warrener's Beastie, due in a few months from Carroll & Graf. I guess they're on a deadline, since they sent me the note via next-day air; I imagine it would have been cheaper just to go ahead and shoot me the bound galleys regular post, hoping I'd be good for the blurb. Whatever. I'm happy to be able to review the book prior to its release, for if ever there were a writer deserving of a following of many multitudes, it's Mr. Bill. I know firsthand the saga of Warrener's long and painful development, so I'm anxious to give it a read.




William R. "Mr. Bill" Trotter

Didn't get a lick of writing done tonight, alas; too much household stuff going on. But last night I finished up a proposal for a possible story in a new and absolutely delightful-sounding anthology. I do hope it flies. As with most of my proposals, it's tailored so that if it doesn't work for the project it's intended for, it may be disintegrated and reconstituted as a standalone piece. Here's hoping for the real thing.


Monday, March 13, 2006
Yeah, I got to playing around with the Web site graphics in between bouts of working on "Contact," a short-story collaboration with John Pelan. I may do some more playing before it's all over with.


Saturday, March 11, 2006
It's a nice evening to go out with Mrs. Rainey, so we opt for The Hills Have Eyes and dinner. What, that's not your idea of romantic fun?

Minor spoilage here. The movie was fairly intense, well-shot, with few holds barred. There were also plenty of the inevitable horror movie cliches—the idiot who jumps out to scare someone just after the moment of suspense passes; the fast-moving, blurry figures passing in front of the camera lens; behavior on a protagonist's part that's completely out of character. The music score seems a bit overwrought at times; intrusive rather than complementary. Overall, the thing struck me as perhaps too manipulative, a guilt-free expression of our violent fantasies, because the antagonists are just so bloody horrible, you want to take revenge on them, and seeing select members of Clan Bombmutant get their just come-uppance is undeniably gratifying. That inevitability makes the catharsis feels rather forced.

But in the end, I didn't mind any of that too much. The movie still manages to be gripping and doesn't fall back on comic relief to let you know that, yeah, it's only a horror flick after all. There's a certain authenticity about the main characters that drew me in, and the suspense is real because everyone is fair game—even the baby coming to an unhappy end is not totally out of the question. I like that in a scary movie. So while the movie doesn't really break any of the old horror conventions, it at least puts a refreshing face on some of them.

I'll give The Hills Have Eyes a solid B. It's very much in the same league as The Devil's Rejects, which entertained me thoroughly last year. And I'd go so far as to say it's a dern sight better than the original, which was a great idea that never quite gelled.


Friday, March 10, 2006
Tonight's title is The Call of Cthulhu, the silent movie (in Mythoscope!) made by the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society. This is a grand little film that runs about 45 minutes, shot in an impressionistic, 1920s style and featuring a superb symphonic soundtrack. It's moody, eerie, intense, and downright fun. Cthulhu himself comes to life via stop-motion animation, and the models and sets have a character all their own. I can highly recommend this flick, especially if you're a fan of the original story. Someone finally adapted Lovecraft's work as it ought to be adapted. A few entertaining extra features (including some stop-motion Cthulhu outtakes) round out the package. Give it a try by ordering the DVD from the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society at www.cthulhulives.org.

Monday, March 6, 2006
My Space Amoeba review is now up. How fast! About Horror.com.


Sunday, March 5, 2006
I've been screwing around making banners for my books and stuff, so if you visit any number of message boards and see a bunch of my banners, I expect you'll say, "Gee, Mark has been screwing around making banners for his books and stuff." This is an understandable perception.

I just slapped the finishing touches on my Space Amoeba review for About Horror.com, and it is even now winging its way to the site.


Friday, March 3, 2006
Tonight's movie...Space Amoeba, just out on DVD from Media Blasters/Tokyo Shock. I'll be writing reviews for About Horror.com and G-Fan on this very soon, no doubt. Monster movie fans on this side of the Pacific are probably more familiar with its original 1971 U.S. release title—Yog, Monster From Space. And if you're old like me, you might remember it coming round periodically to drive-ins back in the early 70s, usually on a double feature with Destroy All Monsters or Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster.

I had just turned 12, and sure enough, Destroy All Monsters and Yog  came to the local drive-in, and while my parents didn't mind occasionally taking me and some friends to see monster movies, they ruled that the second feature came on too late for us to stay up.  Well, I wanted to see Destroy All Monsters because it was a Godzilla movie; I knew nothing and cared nothing about Yog. Naturally, Yog was the first feature. So I called the drive-in, hoping to convince them to run Destroy All Monsters first. No way, they told me; the projector was set up to run Yog first, and that was that.

Well, young Mark is distressed. So for a couple of evenings, I called the drive-in relentlessly, disguising my voice, even getting my best friend Frank to call them, hoping to persuade them to run Destroy All Monsters first. Each call was answered with the inevitable "No way." Well, come the night my Dad takes us out there, we stop at the ticket booth, ask which show comes on first, and we're told "Yog, Monster From Space." (The lady pronounced it like "Yoga.") So Dad says, "Sorry boys," and figures we'll want to leave. But no; we put on the pressure and get him to drive us on in, just to see if maybe the ticket lady had made a mistake. Well, since we didn't pay, the manager comes to pay us a visit, and Dad tells him, "We just figured we'd stay for a few minutes to see which movie came on first." The manager bends down and gives Frank and me a very hard stare. "You must be the ones who've been calling nonstop for the last two days." We admit that we are. The manager sighs and says, "Well, we've decided to run Destroy All Monsters first."

You could hear us whoopin' and hollerin' over in the next county (which was actually just a stone's throw away). So it was a wonderful night for monsters. But had I known Yog was a fun little Toho film, I would have been just as happy to see it, since I'd already seen Destroy All Monsters once before. (This goes to show you the value of research first.) But, as luck would have it, Yog showed up at the downtown movie theater a few months later, all by its lonesome, so I went and checked it out.

It was a blast then and still is.


Thursday, March 2, 2006
By gummy, The Ghost Lens outline is done. It's big, detailed, and pretty danged complicated, actually, much moreso than I originally intended it to be. But I kind of like it that way; less chance of this bugger up and surprising me down the road, which can be very rude if you're working on a deadline.

You know, I'm a great big Dark Shadows fan, have been since 1966, and I'm a fan of the movies too—House of Dark Shadows and Night of Dark Shadows. The TV soap and theatrical flicks were a big part of my youth and no doubt helped shape the direction I went as a writer. I'm pretty sure my love of the subject shows through in the Dark Shadows novel I co-wrote with Elizabeth Massie, Dreams of the Dark. Just prior to starting work on the novel, I took a trip up to the Lyndhurst estate in Tarrytown, NY, where the movies were filmed. The photo to the right I took just before my 20-year-old 35mm camera broke. Thankfully, the film survived.

 

 

Anyway, for years, filmmaker Darren Gross has been working to put together a restored version of Night of Dark Shadows, complete with all the scenes that were originally cut for its cinematic release. And there were many of them. If you're reading this and you even slightly enjoy the Dark Shadows movies, you should go here: http://home.earthlink.net/~moviemandg. This is the official Night of Dark Shadows restoration site, and there's good news and bad. It would appear the movies will at long last be released on DVD (talk about overdue), but the chances are not looking good for the restored version of Night. Having read the original screenplay, I can tell you, it's one helluva gem of a ghost story; the butchered version that hit the screens in 1972, while entertaining in its own right, is a far cry from what the movie could have, should have, and would have been had it not been for the moronic meddling of stingy studio execs. I think you'll find Darren's site both informative and entertaining. Please give do give it a thoughtful look.


Wednesday, March 1, 2006
For once, it's the first of March and we're not having a blizzard. That may come later, of course; NC weather can be freakish. Putting the finishing touches on the outline of The Ghost Lens—so I keep saying, but damn if each time it's less done than I thought. Soon as that's finished up, I'll be starting a collab on a short story with John Pelan. And beyond that, I still have another short tale to write for an anthology invite.

No Storytellers Unplugged column for me this time around; my assigned date is the 29th, and since there isn't one in February, I'm gonna wait till the end of March to post another one. Been too busy to deal with an essay the past couple of weeks anyhoo.

Onward...


Saturday, February 25, 2006
Tonight's movie: Journey to the Far Side of the Sun, an old favorite from my youth. It's one of the Gerry & Sylvia Anderson (Thunderbirds, Stingray, Fireball XL-5, Captain Scarlet, UFO, Space: 1999, etc.) science fiction flicks, the special effects of which still look fantastic, by the way; better by far than the typical CGI space effects you see in the movies today. The story is also typical of the Andersons—more than a little bit flimsy, but somehow all the more endearing. I've also been looking at the UFO TV series on DVD, and it's still both impressive and laughable in equal amounts. Barry Gray's musical scores are quite outstanding.

Took a break from taxes today and made some progress on my novel outline. I can see the light at the end, plot-wise, but there are still a lot of details to hash out. I think it's going to be quite enjoyable at the actual writing stage. Need to start on another short story soon for a particular anthology, too.

At least none of us had to call on any doctors today—so far.

A late addendum: I just found out that Darren McGavin of Kolchak: The Night Stalker and Christmas Story fame passed away this morning. His health had been declining for some time, so it's not unexpected, but nonetheless very saddening. I've been a big fan of his for many, many years.


Friday, February 24, 2006
This has been a good week for doctors collecting money from the Raineys. I've been having increasingly severe abdominal pain for some time now, so I went doctor visiting twice this week, and the preliminary diagnosis is diverticulitis, with more tests on the way in a couple of weeks. Joy. I'm getting to be "that age," so I'm told. Well, "that age" can take a flying leap.

What do you mean it doesn't work that way?

Didn't get nearly as much writing done this week as I'd have liked—mainly due to doctor and emergency room visits and the fact that income tax time is coming up. I've been bogged down in the details every night since Tuesday. On the positive side, it's looking as if we're going to owe Unca Sam there merest pittance above and beyond what he's already collected from us this year. That'll be a welcome break, after having given him increasing wages each tax season for the last few years.


Tuesday, February 21, 2006
The ER... it ain't like network television. Came home from work to find Peg having major chest pain, with shortness of breath and dizziness, so we up and went to the ER, where they quickly gave her an EKG and concluded her heart was OK. So they eventually wheeled her back and, after 5 1/2 hours, determined she's suffering from esophagitis, due to acid reflux. I've had the same condition, so I know how bad the chest pain can be—and it'll definitely do a number on your nerves. She's doing pretty well now we're back home, and I'm relieved it's not a heart problem. Lord knows she's got enough health problems for a regiment of old women, so she doesn't need more on top of that. We've pretty much decided, though, that the only way we're going to visit the ER again is if we've lost limbs. In my case, it would take losing two to even consider going.


Saturday, February 18, 2006
I was planning to be at StellarCon in High Point today, but I got to feeling a bit under the weather last night, and this morning, my stomach felt like a horde of wild animals was playing a game of stampede in there. I've gotten to feeling better, but the weather's been a mess all day, so I've not been much inclined to go to High Point. Been working on my plot outline for The Ghost Lens, and I watched Cursed on DVD, which was moderately entertaining. Got a ton of stuff to do around the house too, so I got a wee bit of it taken care of—such as fixing the range hood in the kitchen, which was one anchor screw shy of falling because, as I found out, it was apparently originally installed by inhabitants of the planet Moronica. It was screwed into a couple of blocks held into place by wood glue. Jezus, it's a wonder it hadn't already plummeted.

Last night I put together a quick mock-up of a chapbook of "Epiphany," and it looks like something I'll want to follow through with. I'll probably sell them for a few bucks at cons, and also make them available on the site here.

Special thanks to Bruce "Boo" Smith for turning me on to the BBC comedy The Vicar of Dibley. Holy cow, I'm not sure the missus and I are quite going to recover from the laughing fits.


Thursday, February 16, 2006
I'm thinking seriously on producing my novelette, "Epiphany: A Flying Tiger's Story," as a chapbook that I can sell at Horrorfind in the summer. I'll have copies to sell of The Lebo Coven and almost certainly Evermore by then, but I think it'd be neat to have a decent production of this story in an affordable format. It originally appeared in the DarkTales' Dead But Dreaming anthology, which died an unfortunate, untimely death, and then in Delirium's Dark Homage series, which was limited to only 100 copies at an exorbitant price. The story is a companion piece to "The Children of Burma," which has generally received rave reviews, and together, the two plotlines provide a bit of background to Blue Devil Island. Hmm...I think I may have talked myself into a plan here. Now off to scheme some more.


Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Another passing that grieves me—actor Andreas Katsulas, who played G'kar in Babylon 5, which remains one of my favorite SF shows. In fact, I've been watching the series on DVD, and just before I heard the news tonight, I had been watching Episode 5 from Season 1, which was one of the earliest to feature him prominently. Never saw him in many features other than B5, but he struck me as an excellent actor.

Did some more plotting on my new novel, the title of which keeps flip-flopping on me, but maybe a spot of Pepto Bismol will settle it down.


Sunday, February 12, 2006
The weekend kept me fairly busy—busy relaxing, at least for a portion of it. Friday night, Peg, my brother Phred, and the esteemed NeDeo Press gang—Gina Farago, and Glenn and Terry Bane—all went out for a big old Mexican dinner, which hit the spot (especially since I took along my own habanero sauce). The margaritas were exceptional. And then our neighbors Paul and Jamie Workman had us over for more margaritas. Also exceptional. Saturday, I went up to my mom's in Virginia, anticipating getting together with some other friends for dinner, but we got fairly substantial snow and opted not to get out on the roads. Instead, I took a long walk through the woods (which were the subject of a particular Storytellers Unplugged essay). And I dove headlong into working on the outline for a new novel I call The Ghost Lens. Made a lot of progress idea-wise, if not on the actual word count. But all around, it was a dang good weekend. Back to the salt mines tomorrow. Grrr.


Wednesday, February 8, 2006
I learned today that Akira Ifukube, composer of so many kaiju and Kurosawa film scores—not to mention a huge catalog of modern classical music—has passed on at the age of 91. Ifukube was a musical genius, and his output prodigious. I remember once watching Terror of MechaGodzilla with my long-time friend and publisher of Japanese Giants, Ed Godziszewski, and a mundane in the crowd said, "The music in all these movies sounds exactly the same," to which I replied, "Yeah. It's all great." It's disheartening to know that there won't be any more such classics forthcoming, yet there's enough music in the Ifukube library to keep a fan satisfied for a long, long time. Here's to the maestro.


Monday, February 6, 2006
Re-watched Cabin Fever, a movie I thoroughly detested the first time I saw it, but this time I found it much more amusing, if no less idiotic. Wanted to catch Robert Harris as Old Man Cadwell, since I met him back at Halloween. His part is actually a screaming hoot, especially his climactic scene. I nearly bust a gut, but I'm not gonna spoil it here. This made me almost want to see Eli Roth's Hostel, but I think it has already left the theater, and I'm sure I can wait to catch it when it comes out on DVD.

Received my contributor copy of In Delirium today, which looks fabulous. Delirium puts out a helluva pretty product! Also received the contract from Sarob Press for The Nightmare Frontier. Progress is a good thing.


Saturday, February 4, 2006
I hate losing my temper over things I can't control, but this mess with Muslims getting all pissy over some political cartoons is making me ornery as hell. This is not some extremist minority getting up in arms, but apparently a large percentage of the Islamic world. Well, they've certainly proven that the gist of the cartoons was quite correct, and my contempt for such an ignorant, egotistical, primitive, and savage mindset knows no bounds. The European governments who refuse to apologize at least have the balls to honor the freedom of the press. I'm not sure we do any any longer. It's pretty goddamn sad when international stability can be derailed by vermin upset over some political drawings. Imagine what would have happened here if leagues of rabid Christians had  gone all militant over Andres Serrano's "Piss Christ" back in 89. Something tells me that there's going to be nasty fallout from this, and no matter what, the U.S. is going to get the short end of the stick. Religious fervor is a sickness, and it may well be a terminal one.

Also — received the sad news that actor and activist Al Lewis, best known for his role as "Grandpa" on The Munsters, died last night. Very sad...as a kid, I was a big fan of the show, and particularly Grandpa himself. I remember an old friend of mine telling me he ran into Lewis — quite literally — in an airport one time. Rest in peace, old fellow.


Wednesday, February 1, 2006
Tonight's project...writing for About Horror.com a review of Atragon, the 1963 Toho kaiju klassic, newly released on DVD. I'm really loving these Media Blasters/Tokyo Shock DVDs; this one has a typically first-rate print, the original Japanese soundtrack with subtitles (or English dubbing, but it sucks; it's a far-cry from the Titra Sound Studios dub of the original '65 U.S. release), and great sound. Few extras this time around just trailers and a commentary track by Koji Kujita, the movie's assistant director. S'okay by me, though; the movie itself is too much of a gem to complain.

Mercy, it's time to archive The Log again...


The Log Archive
January 2006
December 2005
October/November 2005

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