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Wednesday, November 29, 2006
I've just posted my latest Storyteller's Unplugged essay, titled "Committed," and believe me, I am.

Check it out here.

And another edition of The Log meets the archives...

Monday, November 27, 2006
Hard on the heels of
Evermore, what should arrive today but my author copies of the deluxe edition of The Nightmare Frontier. It's an absolutely gorgeous volume, what with Chad Savage's striking cover art and Sarob Press's excellent production work. Alas, I discovered a few typos on the jacket — a couple of "its" were typed as "is" and Blue Devil Island is titled Blue Dreams Island. I did proof the interior galleys prior to production, however, and the text looked about as good as it could get, so I hope all the corrections made their way in. Regardless, I think it's my best novel to date, and I'm ecstatic to see it produced so beautifully. I believe Shocklines may still be able to fill orders, so if you've been on the fence, now is the time to pick it up before it's gone. Personal interest aside, I always strongly recommend supporting Matt at Shocklines because there is no better place to find good deals on horror, online or elsewhere. If you don't buy The Nightmare Frontier, buy something at Shocklines, and tell Matt I sent you.

Sunday, November 26, 2006
I am a big fan of Thanksgiving; for my family, it's one of the best times for togetherness of the entire year, and this year was no exception. There was lots of good food, lots of enjoyable company, and — just about best of all — several days away from the bleepin' office. I also wrote 5,000 words in The Monarchs of Harrow, and I'll probably get in another thousand today.

My review of Godzilla vs. Mothra is up at About In case there's any ambiguity in the review, I love this movie. And the Classic Media DVD release is fantastic.

And finally, at long bloody last, Evermore is officially on the street. My contributor copies have arrived, and hoooooo! What a beautiful book. Excellent production job by Arkham House, and the contents are first-rate.  Go get it. Now!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Writer Steve Vernon, in his new Hellnotes review of Blue Devil Island, says that the novel "represents balls-to-wall combat scenes, spine-tingling old-school terror, and plain big fun." I would be hard-pressed to quibble with that.

I've been hard at work in the kitchen this evening, building a big old pumpkin pie for tomorrow, and it's baking in the oven for about the next half-hour.  The challenge will be saving it for after dinner tomorrow; something tells me I'm going to have a monstrous craving right about the time that thing comes out of the oven all nice and hot.

My Mothra vs. Godzilla review hasn't shown up yet at About, but it probably will over the weekend. Just because the movies got me into the spirit, I put on Destroy All Monsters tonight. I expect that makes about my hundredth viewing since I was a kid. If I'm lucky, I may catch it another hundred before packing it in for life's finale...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Yesterday, I received a couple of nice items from Classic Media to review for About — DVDs of Godzilla Raids Again (a.k.a. Gigantis — The Fire Monster) and Mothra vs. Godzilla (a.k.a. Godzilla vs. the Thing). Both feature the original Japanese versions as well as the U.S. release versions and have commentaries by Steve Ryfle and my old (and I do mean old!) friend Ed Godziszewski, now editor of my ancient brainchild, Japanese Giants.

I couldn't not do it, so last night I watched both versions of Godzilla Raids Again, checked out the commentary, and wrote the review. It's just been posted at About Tonight I watched both versions of Mothra vs. Godzilla, checked out the commentary, and wrote the review. I just sent it out to About's proprietor, Staci Wilson, a few minutes ago, so it'll probably appear on the site tomorrow. Godzilla...goooood.

Saturday, November 18, 2006
Publishers Weekly gives Blue Devil Island a reasonably good review this week. Here's an excerpt:

"In Rainey's enjoyable WWII adventure with a SF plot twist, courageous American flyers with the navy Blue Devil unit shoot down Japs above the Solomon Islands...Then, in the cinematic tradition of the period, the story veers into horror-flick territory with SF undertones when the airmen discover peculiar savages in the caves of Conquest's mountainous landscape. For good measure, Rainey (The Lebo Coven) also throws in a gigantic, monstrous extraterrestrial...The novel benefits from the author's obvious interest in WWII aircraft, and readers nostalgic for the era's war movies and pulp fiction will enjoy the ride."

It could be worse. 

Friday, November 17, 2006
Most people who know me know that I'm a 007 fanatic. I'm also something of a purist. To me, James Bond and Ian Fleming are inseparable; in my realm, the novels by John Gardner, Raymond Benson, and even Kingsley Amis do not even exist. And in the movies, Sean Connery has always been James Bond.

Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan each had their strong points; and George Lazenby might have made an excellent Bond if he'd stuck it out past On Her Majesty's Secret Service (which is actually my favorite 007 movie — and novel, for that matter).
I was never a fan of Roger Moore, so sorry. And now comes Daniel Craig, with whom I was not at all familiar before Casino Royale. But I think, after this afternoon, I'm firmly in the "Daniel Craig is okay by me" camp.

Casino Royale is easily, and I mean easily, the best Bond since On Her Majesty's Secret Service. The producers wisely returned to basics and ditched the tired storyline of the megalomaniacal tycoon looking to conquer civilization. In Bond, we have a cold-hearted "blunt instrument," to use M's words, who performs at a remarkable physical level, yet bleeds real blood, feels real pain, and blunders fairly substantially now and again. This is, at long last, Ian Fleming's 007.

The movie takes plenty of liberties with the source material, but it also does justice to the novel, in the same way that From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, and OHMSS honor their sources. While I might have preferred a few things done differently (and why they still don't bother to ask me first, I'll never know), there are virtually no groan-inducing moments, which hasn't been the case even with many of the better films of more recent years, such as Goldeneye and Tomorrow Never Dies. A few scenes could have disappeared altogether and not hurt the film (such as Bond being poisoned during the card game; this was a needless distraction that added nothing to the whole and added ten minutes to an already long running time). But again, even this is not one of those ruinous, fling-me-out-of-the-picture moments, which have crept into every Bond film since You Only Live Twice, I believe.

David Arnold, whose 007 scores have treaded the line between occasionally effective and tedious, contributes one of his better soundtracks, featuring a distinctive opening theme with motifs that he repeats instrumentally through the film to good effect. And Daniel Klein's opening montage, unlike the lurid crap he produced for the Brosnan movies, comes across as appealingly retro, despite its use of sophsticated graphics.

Speaking of which — thank the maker — Casino Royale doesn't suffer from an abundance of horrid CGI effects, one of many elements that helped to utterly ruin Die Another Day (which was already bad enough and didn't need any additional assistance).

I'm confident that Casino Royale will appeal to diehard Bond fans such as myself. I just hope it will draw enough of the swelling ranks of Short Attention Span Theater devotees to keep Broccoli, Wilson, and Company on this positive track for the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Received the most welcome word today that Cemetery Dance is buying my short story, "The Gaki," for an upcoming issue — probably #59, due sometime next year, probably fall. A pretty fair wait, but a sale to CD is always good for making me smile — and having an extra drink. Tonight, I've got bourbon and ginger ale; why not have a shot or two to celebrate with me?

Sunday, November 12, 2006
Spent the weekend at the old homestead in Virginia, getting in some serious walking and writing up a storm. Yesterday, I was originally intending to ride with the missus up into the country around Ferrum, VA, where I went to college, but she wasn't feeling well, so in the end, I opted not to go. Almost wish I had, even alone (which I used to do frequently anyway), because it was such a gorgeous afternoon. But the time wasn't wasted. Managed to write a full chapter — 5,000 words' worth — of The Monarchs of Harrow, and built a banner ad for Blue Devil Island. So no complaints on this end — except for the fact that tomorrow is Monday. Big honkin' sigh.

Thursday, November 9, 2006
Since I'm having such a blast announcing stuff, I might as well bring up Evermore, which is being shipped pretty much as we speak. It's taken about three times as long for this book to appear as we ever expected — all due to circumstances quite beyond the control of either Bob Smith or myself. Initially, Arkham House managing editor Peter Ruber's stroke set things back several months, but then, after the machinery started grinding away again, it turned out that much of the work Bob and I had already done — proofing, submitting revisions, providing ad copy, etc. — all ended up having to be redone. Then there were evidently some scheduling issues at Arkham House that had to be sorted out. So...FINALLY...I think we can see the light at the end of the tunnel with this one. Of course, I'll have to actually have the thing in my hands before I completely believe it.

This is a killer anthology, though. Some excellent work by all contributors, and an eye-catching cover by Tony Patrick. I hope this one will do well for everyone.

Monday, November 6, 2006
I've heard from Sarob Press that copies of The Nightmare Frontier will be shipping from the UK on or about Monday, November 13. They should start arriving in readers' happy little mitts over the following days (hopefully not long weeks, though you never know with overseas shipping). Orders of the limited edition from Shocklines will take a little longer because the copies will be shipped to me first for autographing, then back to Matt to be sent to customers. The print run was based on the total number of pre-orders, so I don't know if there will be many spares available to be picked up. If you haven't pre-ordered it and want to get a copy, best to  hit Shocklines or Sarob Press now, while you probably have a chance.

I know this is an expensive volume, but I'm confident that anyone who takes the plunge will consider it more than worthwhile. My gratitude to all who've pre-ordered the book. It's going to be one hell of a beauty — and it's right scary, too.

"Remember what it was like to read a horror novel that actually made you sweat with dread and your hand shake ever-so-slightly as you turned the page? Remember what it was like to feel your heart thud against your chest as the plight of the characters became your own? Remember what it was like to have a story cast a spell over you rather than ram everything down your throat? If so, you've reason to rejoice; if not, then you need to discover what that's like. In either case, Mark Rainey's The Nightmare Frontier delivers the goods. This is the Good, Real Stuff. From its powerful opening in the jungles of Vietnam to its nerve-wracking finale, this novel never releases its grip on the reader's nerves, brains, and heart."
—Gary Braunbeck, author of In Silent Graves, In the Midnight Museum, and Things Left Behind

Tuesday, October 31, 2006
One of the only days I don't particularly mind going to work at the office — Halloween. That's because we spend the morning trick-or-treating and getting tons of candy, having costume and jack-o'-lantern contests, and I get to read something spooky. Today was a good one — I read an excerpt from The Monarchs of Harrow to an SRO crowd, and since no one threw rocks at me, I think it went over quite well. Even got some of the newer folks suddenly interested in picking up my books and such. This is a good thing.

Anyway, in just a wee bit here, we'll be heading over to our neighbors, the Workmans (Workmen?) for dinner, movies, and then perhaps a trip to the Woods of Terror. I do so love Halloween. Happy, happy to everyone.

And ye olde Log is now just over a year old. Hardly seems possible. I'm kind of glad I've been keeping this thing up fairly regularly, as many of you folks have been kind enough to send me comments about it, and it gives me something halfway painless to look back at. Years ago, I kept the Log in a series of notebooks, and those are kind of neat too, except some of them are starting to fall apart. Hopefully, the cyber-version can be kept around, in some electronic format or another, for as long as I'd ever want to look back at it...

Everyone be sure to wear your Silver Shamrock masks tonight! Muhahahaaa!!!

Sunday, October 29, 2006
This month at Storytellers Unplugged, rather than essays about the world of writing and literature, many contributors are posting short fiction for Halloween. Mine is an excerpt from my mostest favoritest of my scary tales: "The Fugue Devil."

Now, last night was most entertaining — went to Durham, NC, to the Starlite Drive In, and met Mark Sieber and his wild bunch to see Saw III. Now, I haven't seen Saw II, though I did see the first one, but I don't appear to have missed much, story-wise. This one was quite graphic, yet somehow undisturbing; perhaps it was so clinical in its approach that any visceral thrills were simply negated, or perhaps the cold wind blowing through and a few medicinal beers just numbed me up real good. The movie was reasonably well-acted, but the story and characters never particularly engaged me; their motivations were muddy (the word that both Mark and I came up with simultaneously, so we must be right) and its twist on a morality play seemed a contrivance to keep the villain from being, well, just a villain. Regardless, I thought it was an okay flick; definitely decent drive-in fare. And it's always good to hang out with the Siebers.

Friday, October 27, 2006
Gale/Five Star just sent me the uncorrected, bound galleys of Blue Devil Island. They're packaged as reasonably well-produced faux-trade paperbacks, with full-color covers. I've started giving the novel a final reading through, and so far, I haven't found any major errors. Five Star has excellent copy editors, and they've been a real treat to work with.

Since it's been ages since I've actually read through the novel, I gotta admit I am alternately as pleased as a penguin with a bowl of cookie dough ice cream and as dismayed as a penguin whose ice cream spilled in his lap. Mostly, it reads pretty well, but every now and then I run across something that makes me cringe mightily. I'll probably send revisions in on a few such passages, as I'm not sure I want the novel — or readers — to have to live with them.

I just got back from a nice Thai dinner with artist Wayne Miller and his S. O. Carmen. Broiled squid appetizer and duck curry for me tonight. Hot! And I reckon I'll be off here to watch Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica shortly.

Then back into working on The Monarchs of Harrow.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Well, it's not the New York Times, but the local entertainment paper, Yes, Weekly, has included a feature on me and my literary-type stuff. (Yes, the article that was supposed to run last week, but which was bumped to this week, so that next week, it will be in last week's edition.) Apart from the inevitable occasional info-stumble, it mostly gets the facts straight. The print version comes out tomorrow, but it's already up on their Web site. Here tis: Damned Rodan at Yes, Weekly

Sunday, October 22, 2006
After a stressful week that culminated in unprecedented gastric pain, the weekend turned out to be damn pleasant. Saturday morning at the crack of dawn, I went with my good friends, Joe and Suzie Albanese, up to Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia for buckwheat pancakes and wandering around the old mill grounds. The mill is one of the most photographed sites in the country (this is one of Joe's shots) and while I usually don't get all excited about things like beautiful autumn leaves, the autumn leaves were so damn beautiful, I got all excited.

I was a wee bit disappointed this week, as the local tabloid, Yes Weekly,  was supposed to do a feature on me and the local horror scene, but the article got bumped in favor of a story about our former police chief, who got in trouble and was shit-canned, blah blah blah. No big deal, really; now the article is supposed to appear in this coming week's edition. Another few days for the populace to sleep soundly and safely...

I did pick up the novelization of Ju-On, by Kei Ohishi, which I started reading immediately and immediately got scared. Even though I know everything that's going to happen in the book, it pretty much gave me the creeps. All the moreso because my mom went to Georgia for the weekend, and I went and stayed at the old homestead to look after her dog, so I was alone and in the perfect setting for reading scary stuff. This also worked out well for writing; I completed an entire chapter of my current novel project, The Monarchs of Harrow. It just so happened I was writing a scary chapter, and it couldn't have been a better weekend to do it.

I do anticipate a week of horror movies coming up, as we're bearing down on Halloween. Always a favorite time of year for me...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006
The Grudge 2
is the sequel to the American remake of the Japanese theatrical version of the four-film Ju-On series. Got all that?

I'm a huge fan of Takashi Shimizu's original four Ju-On movies. The first two were made-for-television features (Ju-On: The Curse 1 and Ju-On: The Curse 2), and the second two were theatrical releases (Ju-On: The Grudge 1 and Ju-On: The Grudge 2) that continued the original storyline. Of them, my favorite is the first Japanese theatrical release; it features the most coherent plotting, despite its non-linear style of storytelling, and imagery that I can only describe as outright terrifying. While that film's original ending seems somewhat abrupt and unsatisfying, the alternate ending (which more appropriately should be termed "extended," and is available on the original DVD) is everything it ought to be: dramatically sensible and aesthetically satisfying. To my mind, the alternate ending is the "real" ending.

The biggest problem with the new Grudge 2, which has aplenty, is that it suffers from the bane of too many western-made horror flicks: it's loud, with music and sound effects that swirl to ear-splitting decibel overkill whenever something scary happens. One of the most welcome and effective elements of the original cycle is its quietness. Instead of deafening musical explosions that pummel you whenever scariness strikes, the first four Japanese films present chilling audiovisual fugues that work infinitely better than that goddamn omnipresent hollow thud-thud boom and blast of music that inevitably accompany the shock in American thrillers. For example, in Ju-On: The Grudge 1, during the build-up to the first ghostly manifestation, a subtle, repetitive melody eerily haunts the recesses of the soundtrack, and when the shock finally does hit, silence ensues. To my sensibilities, this is the perfect example of how to generate dread in a film.

Thoroughly unsatisfying in The Grudge 2 is its egregious lack of character development. Instead of spending at least a modicum of screen time getting to know the players — whom you realize from the beginning are doomed — we have one puppet after another succumbing to the Saeki curse sans even an attempt at providing sensible backstories. The moments of the movie that do delve into the characters' backgrounds are ill-timed, tedious exercises in exposition, which do nothing but throw roadblocks into the story's progression.

Ah, story. Wouldn't it be nice to actually have one? The original Ju-On movies comprise a long, single narrative that — while admittedly are only marginally more developed than this movie's — use the nonlinear progression of time as an integral element, so that isolated events strike as meaningful revelations, rather than predictable outcomes of an established formula. The Grudge 2 literally has no surprises in store — except for one, which is such a dramatic failure that its inclusion in the Ju-On mythos is essentially an embarrassment. This has to do with the character of Kayako (the original victim and originator of the "the grudge") being a "sineater" of sorts. It's a dull contrivance, which, oh my lord, is then perfunctorily glossed over! It is therefore to groan.

Make no mistake, my harsh sentiments come from an admittedly subjective devotion to the original four entries in the Ju-On cycle. Objectively, I should give some credit to the restraint Shimizu shows, at least on occasion, in this movie, where he refuses to succumb entirely to the juvenile excesses of so many western horror disasters. A few of the scenes that foreshadow impending doom — such as the first visit to the "haunted house" by the trio of mischievous young women — are done with a masterful flair reminiscent of the original movies; yet these effective moments seem out of place in a film that, in so many respects, is a great big trainwreck that one hopes will spawn no more more fatal accidents anywhere down the line.

The original four Ju-On movies told the story of the Saeki curse as it needed to be told (and I would even go so far as to say that the second of the Japanese theatrical releases is superfluous). This idea has played itself out, and it deserves to be thrashed no further.

Sunday, October 15, 2006
Book Em 2006 was a nice event, held yesterday at Waynesboro (VA) High School, with a large bunch of authors hanging about. I was situated in the Kreepy Korner, with Elizabeth Blue, Matt Warner, and Elizabeth Massie, which was occasionally infiltrated by the likes of  Matt's wife Deena and Beth Massie's S.O. Cortney Skinner — who couldn't stay out of trouble if you paid them super-size Hollywood advances. After a slow start to the day, we managed to actually start moving books around lunchtime, and by  the close of the day, we were smiling pretty good.

Forty percent of our sales went to benefit literacy, but even after Book Em took its cut, it was a pretty profitable day — and the whole thing was for a good cause.

For afters, the Warners came along to the Massie/Skinner ranch, where we watched Dagon on DVD and sacrificed piles of Chinese food to the hunger gods.

The local TV station came and got a bit of footage. For about two seconds, you can see the back of Beth Massie's head and my shoulder. That's probably about all most ordinary humans can stand, anyway.

Friday, October 13, 2006
And a happy horror day to all! I tend to enjoy Friday the 13s; they're usually very good days for me. Today, I'm heading off to Waynesboro, VA, for the Book Em fair tonight and tomorrow. Hoping for a good weekend all the way around.

Thursday, October 12, 2006
Found a nice little surprise in today's mail — my contributor copies of Cemetery Dance #56, which features my story, "Other Gods." It's a big, fat honkin' issue, with other fiction by Glen Hirschberg (as well as an interview), Peter Atkins, David Nickle, Jeremy Robert Johnson, and Scott Nicholson. Bunches of reviews and other features by Mike Marano, John Pelan, Bev Vincent, Tom Monteleone, and Paula Guran. Damn good company, and it's always a pleasure to appear in Cemetery Dance. It started up not long after I began Deathrealm, back in the days of yore (alas, poor yore, I knew him, Horatio, and all that) and has really turned out to be the granddaddy of small press horror. Woohoo! Cover art is by Mr. Stacy Drumm, who provided some killer art for Deathrealm back in the day.

Tomorrow, it's off to Book Em, in Waynesboro, VA, where I hope to survive a weekend that features Elizabeth Massie, Cortney Skinner, Beth Blue, Matt and Deena Warner, Kristy Tallman, and several other notable dangerous people.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Did the Q & A thing at Rockingham Community College tonight, which was quite pleasant. Not a large group, but very receptive. Met some intelligent and enthusiastic folk who seem to be serious and realistic about their literary aspirations, which is always refreshing.

Sunday, October 8, 2006
Just returned from an excellent, slightly long weekend at Hilton Head Island, SC, where the missus and I met up with a couple of our bestest friends in the world from Chicago. It was a damn near perfect weekend, with generally excellent weather, a round of golf that was only marginally awful, dining at some damn good restaurants, and plenty of spirits flowing. We had actually planned to come back tomorrow morning, but we opted to leave this afternoon because the key we'd left for our neighbor decided, for whatever mysterious reasons keys have, not to work , and they couldn't get in the house to feed the cats for us. (Needless to say, the critters were mighty glad to see us when we got in a little while ago.) Worked out for the best, I think, as Hilton Head is — to put it mildly — not inexpensive, and another night out might have busted the bank (which is already pretty well crippled). Traffic on the way home was hellish, though; there was a terrible accident just north of Columbia, SC, and we were stuck in one spot for nearly an hour. At least one of the vehicles was burned up, and I'd be surprised if anyone survived.

That was really the only major snag, though. Otherwise, the trip was relaxing and refreshing, and now I've gotten a craving to play golf again. Someone please stop me....

May have some pictures later, which could provide a laugh or two...

Thursday, October 5, 2006
Promo stuff has kept me busy tonight. The local entertainment tabloid, Yes Weekly, as I mentioned below, is doing a write-up on ye olde curmudgeon, and tonight I got the email interview questions, which were pretty extensive and generally quite thoughtful — not mere rehashes of so many questions I've answered many times over in the past. I reckon this one turned out decent enough; I just hope the full article will not make me appear as the raving looney  that some interviews have. Not that any of these have had any basis in fact.

I'm also scheduled to have an Author Q & A on this coming Tuesday evening at Rockingham Community College, a little ways up the road. It's an informal, hopefully fun gathering of the local writers' group. No telling whether anyone will actually show up or not, but I'll at least get a free cup of coffee out of the deal.

Wednesday, October 4, 2006
I did it... Tonight, I had to watch It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. I couldn't take it anymore. Even if it's still early for Halloween.

Checked out the season premier of Lost, which I've watched regularly for the past two years. It was almost engaging, but it still felt plenty like a bunch of filler and just didn't take the series anywhere. It's getting very iffy whether I'm going to stick with it for a whole 'nuther season. Got so much else I could be doing instead...

Gad —I about forgot I'm supposed to do a Q & A session for the writers group at Rockingham Community College on Tuesday night. I might better put together a few answers for the questions...

Tuesday, October 3, 2006
And another edition of The Log goes into the archive. Hard to feature I've been keeping up with this thing for almost a year now; it's certainly not the most controversial, enlightening, or entertaining journal on the Web, but it provides a nice outlet for me to plug stuff, vent a little, and occasionally give readers a little chuckle at the end of the day. From the regular hits, I gather that at least a handful of you folks tolerate my particular brand of torture well enough to come back and visit now and again. Bless you.

Being October and all, I'm going to devote myself to a bunch of horror movies this month. I've got scads of stuff on VHS and some on DVD that I haven't watched in many moons. So tonight, I watched my old VHS of The Devil's Rain, which I recorded when I lived in Chicago, around 1985 or 86. There were two commercial breaks, each lasting less than two minutes. Ah, but for the good old days. And it's a hoot of a movie. I remember seeing this one for the first time either at the drive-in or movie matinee when I was 15 or so. A good, gross, nonsensical flick featuring William Shatner, Tom Skerritt, Eddie Albert, Ida Lupino, and John Travolta. That's certainly good for one big hoo-hah!

One of the local entertainment tabloids, Yes Weekly, will be running a feature on me in a couple of weeks (the 18th, I believe). Tonight, local journalist Craig Miller called me up to do the interview, so we had a right pleasant chat on subjects ranging from the state of horror to Godzilla. Hey, anytime an interview strays into Godzilla territory, you can bet that I'm a happy old grump.  He's an old fan of Deathrealm, which certainly doesn't hurt.

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