Friday, July 30, 2010

Noircon 2010

NoirCon 2010 is a forum where all those who appreciate noir can come together to debate, plot, boast, or simply party with like-minded individuals. It is a four day journey into that abyss that offers everyone involved an opportunity to have a helluva good time looking into the bottomless, downward void that is noir!

NoirCon 2010 will take place November 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania!

As we revel in the darkness, we try to provide light for those in need. Our charity of choice this year is the AIDS FUND.

Questions? Thoughts? Please do not hesitate to contact us at Follow the evolution of NoirCon 2010 at or on Facebook.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Truther Than Strange

I don't know when I stopped writing fiction. As a kid I used to spend hours on a typewriter banging out stories of intergalactic mayhem starring a cast of anthropomorphic animals. I know that these were rip offs of other, better writers but it got my feet wet and dispelled any notions that writing was an easy task. My uncle wrote short stories in the evenings and on weekends when he wasn't teaching high school English. I think I read one or two of these but just wasn't too impressed. I confessed my dream of being a writer and he hooked me up with volumes of writers' market books. The heyday of fiction magazines had passed, yes, but a tiny market still existed and I worked to mine this vein. But, first, I needed some stories so I could start saving my rejection notes. I mean, that's what writers do, isn't it?

In middle school I penned a few tales of aliens attacking my classrooms or monsters stalking the halls but these were jokes and I knew it. I wanted to pen something more serious. And, boy, did I. I can only recall two tales that I plugged away on during that time and am rather disturbed to drum up their plots. In one of them, a man wakes up from suspended hibernation in an Antarctic research facility. I don't remember why he'd been placed in suspended hibernation but I do know he awoke alone and without any way to contact the outside world or any food. He ended up slicing off parts of himself, cooking up his tastier morsels to sustain himself as long as he could. And, wouldn't you know, as the one-armed, legless man was about to castrate himself (what fate could be worse to a boy writer?) the rescue party arrived... just a moment to late.

Compare this to the other story I remember in which a man who had wronged a woman a year before came to in her apartment, bound and sitting before a glorious banquet. You can be sure that the main course was the baby he sired. I wrote about the cooking process, the baby's white skin reddening in boiling water like a lobster's shell. Pretty sick stuff. Cannibalism, bondage, and a lot of glossing over any kind of set up by putting the main character in situations where they regained consciousness in a new, strange place. Now that's lazy writing!

Not knowing any better, I sent out these atrocious tales to several magazines and got my expected rejection notes. But, then, that's all I did. I'm of the mind that the rejection soured me on further explorations of fiction. Was I so deluded that I expected my baby/self-eating stories to run in the next Twilight Zone Magazine? Perhaps. I couldn't tell you the next time I sat down to spin a yarn that wasn't based on fact (I enrolled in a journalism class that I enjoyed with gusto... if only my teacher had enjoyed having me around!).

Despite my failure in journalism, I enjoyed writing papers and essays in high school and on into college. Once I graduated I missed writing so much that I began a zine. I never called what I wrote "stories" but "articles" as I kept them grounded in reality as much as I could. On occasion I'd sacrifice a fact for entertainment but, too often, I stuck to the inverted pyramid, delivering prose so dusty it could choke an Okie. Sure, I'd bury a lot of leads under paragraphs of personal stories or observations but, again, I wasn't spinning yarns. Fiction and I kept our distances as if we'd filed restraining orders.

Now, all those years later, I think about the few flourishes I've dappled onto my prose with fondness. I remember writing a review of a record by The Friends of Dean Martinez where I explained that it would be the perfect soundtrack to driving through the desert at night, describing the way the white lines could hypnotize as they fell into the headlights. Sure, it took inspiration from David Lynch's Lost Highway but these few sentences were as close to reconciliation as fiction and I had gotten over the years. I'd look back on these with fondness, pulling them out and polishing them up from time to time.

Just recently I ran across the book No Plot? No Problem! in which writer Chris Batty discussed National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) during which time a writer has to fire his or her inner editor and embrace the dangerous world of writing without a net (hell, without an outline or years of research!). Something about this carefree attitude, kicking off one's shoes and letting loose on a keyboard, reminded me of my early days plugging away at that noisy manual typewriter and how fun it had been to create worlds with my words.

,p> I missed fiction. I thought I'd gotten it beaten out of me but it seems it was still there, waiting in the wings to do the appreciative slow clap, joined with enthusiasm by the characters I'd created and those I have yet to dream up.

Impossibly Funky - On Tour

I'm slowly working on putting together a tour of Impossibly Funky. I've been reaching out to a bunch of bookstores and looking for others with the hope of doing a reading, signing, and/or movie screening. Everything's still pretty up in the air but here's what I've got penciled in so far:

September - The book won't be out yet but I'll be supporting it and at the 2010 B Movie Celebration in Franklin, IN (Sept 24-26). I'll be moderating the directors' roundtable and maybe some other fun stuff. Also, while I'm over there, I'd love to see if I can hit a hipster store in Indianapolis -- does such a thing exist?

October - Still hoping to get a consensus on what day/time will work best to get the biggest turnout at an event at the Burton Theater in Detroit for a book release party. It'd be a reading/signing and screening of Black Shampoo as well as some shorts. So far the leader of my poll seems to be Sunday afternoon.

October will also be the month of my blog tour. If you're unfamiliar with what that means, it's that I'm going to hit up thirty (or so) bloggers to review the book and post reviews on a daily schedule. This can also include podcasters. Then every day I'll be tweeting and facebooking the shit out of these reviews/podcasts. I've been making a list of some hip film blogs but I'm open to suggestions. If you have any particular favorites (or want to be a part of the madness), please leave a comment.

November - Will November spawn a monster? Perhaps. The first weekend of the month I'll be attending Noircon 2010 in Philadelphia. I've been trying to extend my stay a day before or after Noircon to do an event at a local bookstore. Of the two stores I've solicited so far, neither have gotten back to me. Hopefully I'll either hear from them soon or will find another hip store to welcome me.

A few weeks later I'm planning on driving down to Baltimore for a weekend of debauchery with my old friends from the MicroCineFest. I'm working with Atomic Books to set up a reading with me and Mike Faloon, author of Hanging Gardens of Split Rock for "A Night of Mikes".

Additionally, I'm working with the Washington Psychotronic Film Society and Chop Suey Books to do events in DC and Richmond, VA. I'm kind of hoping to find another venue or two.

There's also a good chance of a film screening/book event in Baltimore that weekend with some of the former MicroCineFest folks in attendance. I know that Skizz is busier than a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest right now so I'm not promising anything just yet.

On the way down to Baltimore, I'm going to be going through Cleveland and Pittsburgh and hope to find some cool places in those major cities to do more shilling. I'm also looking for places within driving distance to Philadelphia and Baltimore -- maybe in New Jersey or even (gasp) New York?

And, as Detroit is mid-way between Toronto and Chicago, I'd really like to do book events in both of those cities. I have a few "dream places" in mind. Wish me luck with those.

To repeat myself, if you know of any hip places or blogs/podcasts where Impossibly Funky would be welcome, please let me know.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

More about B-Movie Celebration

Franklin Indiana will be hosting the Fourth Annual B Movie Celebration September 24th, 25th and 26th 2010. The Celebration will feature screenings of over 50 classic B movies. There will also be personal appearances from such B Greats as B Director Jim Wynorski, Tony Randel, Bert I. Gordon.The highlight of the celebration will be the presentation of the coveted Gold Cob Awards, celebrating the best of genre cinema.

The celebration will also feature over 20 educational seminars dealing the art of the B film and topics will include: Directing B Movies, Acting for B's, Music Composition, Director's Roundtable, Writing workshop. This year, we are paying tribute to THE ASYLUM, Roger Corman and Mid West Movie Mavericks, Kroger Babb, K. Gordon Murray and William Girdler.

For further information head on over to

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Exclusive: Movie Blog Doesn't Feature Inception Review

I was looking around for movie blogs that might be interested in doing a "blog tour" of my book. Of the last six blogs I looked at, only one of them didn't feature one (or more!) review(s) of Christopher Nolan's Inception. I shan't be writing about that movie here--at least not now.

The search for movie blogs that would be more appropriate for my book continues...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Let's Have A Party

I'm really hoping to have a party here in Detroit for the book release in October but need to find out a rough idea of how many folks would be coming, what day to have it, and what I can get away paying for it. It'd include a reading, a movie viewing, and book signing.

I'd attend a Cashiers du Cinemart book release party...
If it cost $5 and was on a Thursday night.
If it cost $15 and was on a Sunday afternoon.
If it cost $25 and was on a Friday night
I'd come if it was free
I wish I could go but I can't make it.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Musical Memories

When a Led Zeppelin song comes on the radio I turn it up (unless it's from "In Through the Out Door"). I didn't grow up on Zeppelin. I didn't even know it was the break from "Whole Lotta Love" that they played on Channel 20's Saturday afternoon Thriller Double Feature. Robert Plant moaning over Jimmy Page's freaked out guitar terrified me for years after and when I finally heard the whole song on "Led Zeppelin II," I nearly drove off the road.

I'm sure I heard a lot of popular music while I grew up, I just don't remember much of it. The only mainstream hit that got into my bloodstream was Captain & Tennille's "Love Will Keep Up Together." My cousins had a 45 of this song and I loved it so much they gave it to me. Young enough to not know how to read yet, my cousins marked up the side I wanted to hear with little hearts on the label. I remember dancing to this and the Bee Gee's "Jive Talking" quite a few times at my Grandma White's trailer.

Apart from a few 8-tracks that I can't remember, my Mom spent a lot of time playing classical music for me, most likely because we performed similar songs while taking piano lessons. On the way back and forth from Mrs. Mack's house where we did our back-to-back lessons, we'd rock out in the AMC Matador to Bernadette Peters, Barry Manilow, Crystal Gayle, or The Oakridge Boys on cassette tape.

The rest of my musical exposure came from AM radio, particularly "Honey Radio" down at the left end of the dial. It operated out from dawn to dusk and played nothing but oldies. We'd do-wop our way to Wompler's Lake most Fridays during the summer, returning sunburned and tired on Sunday evening, hitting Ann Arbor right around the time Honey Radio went off the air.

I felt like the boy in the musical bubble. The introduction of MTV helped broaden my horizons as far as the MTV rotation would go. I enjoyed a lot of the music but didn't do much more than that. I contented myself with the occasional LP like Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and all of Weird Al's records. I spent hours on end listening to comedy records from Bill Cosby. My favorite record had to be the two-LP set from K-Tel, "Goofy Gold." This collection properly warped my mind. I didn't understand a lot of the jokes ("How do I get this car out of second gear?") but they were catchy and annoying enough to infect my nascent musical sensibility.

My best friend growing up had older brothers that were definitely into some stuff I considered freaky. They'd listen to bands like Blue Oyster Cult, KISS, and Ozzy Osbourne. I showed up at their house one day while they were watching Ozzy performing "Iron Man." The flabby white, sweaty chest, the raccoon eye makeup and his vacant stare as he marched across stage (along with the rumors that he bit the heads off of bats) made Ozzy a pretty terrifying dude.

It wasn't until high school that I really felt the bubble starting to burst. Riding around with older kids from marching band I started to hear what was on popular radio. Cameo, Oran "Juice" Jones, Neucleus, The Beastie Boys… These sounded like novelty songs with a bigger budget. I started spending hours at home flipping through radio channels, taping songs that I liked and listening to them ad nauseum. This had to be about the time that I found Dr. Demento on the airwaves late at night as well as the show "Brave New Waves" out of exotic Canada.

This also seemed about the time where music started to get really important to my friends. They used it as something to set them apart from everyone else. Find the most obscure artist and decorate your Trapper Keeper with their logo. This made you someone. My occasional trips to the Wyandotte Record Exchange with my mom became regular weekend outings with my friends. We'd walk down the railroad tracks into Wyandotte and scour the shelves and bins, looking for new music. This also coincided with us becoming more commercial creatures, putting money towards records and cassettes.

I don't want to know how much money I spent buying music. I latched on to a few bands (making sure they weren't the favorites of my other friends but cool enough, nonetheless) and sunk my lunch money into them. I had enough cassettes that I built my own shelf for them, looking like some kind of Homer Simpson home improvement project. I kept it impeccably alphabetized and would proudly study the shelf, leaving room for the few tapes by Siouxsie & The Banshees or Public Image Ltd that I had yet to find (but knew were out there).

As any teenager knows, there wasn't much to do in my hometown. Shopping became the extent of our activities. We'd trek out to Penny Pincher for clothes and the in-store record shop, Earwax. Occasionally we'd make the trip out to Royal Oak or Ann Arbor for their dozen record stores. Going to Chicago with my folks, I couldn't wait to stop at Quaker Goes Deaf to see what they had to offer. Going in, standing in front of bins, and patiently flipping through records as your fingers turned black from dirt became my career outside of high school.

Music was identity, commerce, entertainment, and rebellion all rolled into one neat package. When the stores had closed I'd spend hours in my room with my headphones pumping out ear-splitting volume to catch every nuance of "Never Mind the Bullocks" or I'd be driving aimlessly through the subdivisions with my speakers threatening to blow out as "It Takes a Nation of Millions" polluted the air with Flavor Flav hype. I tried to be eclectic but know I just took baby steps outside of my comfort zone on the rare occasion. And, little did I know, there huge gap in my musical background.

All those years listening to classical records and classic rock gave me some good footing in oldies and way oldies. But I had missed a lot of what happened between the Beatles breaking up and the Beastie Boys depriving themselves of sleep until they reached Brooklyn. Apart from that run-in with Ozzy, I had no idea about Heavy Metal and even Disco had come and gone under my radar.

One day in first grade a kid, Gary something, started singing "Hit the Road, Jack." I thought it was great. He wrote down the lyrics and told me that he wrote this song. It was mine for a dollar. I didn't pay him a dollar but I believed him for a few hours until I asked my parents about it. When I was just out of college I went to West Virginia and this guy, Keith something, started playing "Bron-Y-Aur Stomp". He could have told me he wrote it and I would have believed him. I had no clue about Led Zeppelin and wouldn't have until Keith proceeded to play the entire "Led Zeppelin III" album on an acoustic guitar.

Going into college my musical direction took a decided turn. I stopped buying cassettes, save for blank ones to record music onto for car rides, and stuck to vinyl and a new format, compact disc. I'd gotten my first compact disc player for my graduation present (a combination CD, LP, cassette player/recorder). When it came time to pick colleges, by the way, my choices came down to two schools: the University of Michigan and Michigan State University. It took me months to figure out that they were different schools since they both had "University" and "Michigan" in the names. The biggest differentiator came down to U of M having scads of great record stores while MSU had a kick-ass radio station. With my track record, you can imagine I went for the record stores.

Now instead of Bauhaus or The Cramps, I looked for records by new bands like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. I wouldn't buy there on any format other than vinyl. Meanwhile my CD collection boomed. This was 1990, the dawn of Grunge's mainstream popularity. I'd been listening to Nirvana and Soundgarden in high school but now I delved into bands that influenced these two or who followed fast in their footsteps.

Nirvana bookended my college career. I entered school right around the time "Nevermind" dropped and loved it. My poor roommates had to endure that and a lot of the music I was into, though they got me back via Michael Bolton and repeated listening of REM's "Automated for the People." After a little more than a year at school I decided to branch out and inflict more people with my musical taste, applying for a disc jockey position at our campus radio station, WCBN. Resting at the tail end of the dial, the joke for the frequency geeks was, "If we were any more to the left, we'd be television."

My buddy, Jeff Dunlap, and I produced a couple of tapes with our dulcet voices back-announcing tracks and were both accepted for graveyard shifts. Not one for doing more than I'm required, I surprisingly volunteered for jobs recording some local interest shows and turning on the Pacifica Radio broadcast (think of a more liberal NPR).

The radio station afforded me a wealth of music to devour. Here I got into Exotica, Noise, and even some Blues. Jazz, the station's mainstay with its 8AM-12AM "Jazz 'till Noon" block remained an anathema. I could dig on some John Zorn when he was channeling Ornette Coleman but keep me away from the kind of stuff the cats at the station dug so much.

My musical education became a hardcore study hall, continuing to flip through vinyl every night from 12PM to 6AM when the doubly named Arwulf Arwulf would take to the air, his eyes bleary but his be-bop in tune to the morning groove.

Time wore on and college wound down. Everything heading for an April 1994 graduation date. And that's where the music ended for me. Just a few weeks before my radio career ended for a new batch of students to take over a late night summer shift I got the news that Kurdt Kobain had killed himself. Just as Nirvana kicked off life in the dorms, they went out with a bang right before I donned my black robe and mortar board.

I know I kept record shopping for a little bit after that but the joy had really left Mudville for me. It was time to do a Jackie Paper and put away such childish things. And as I walked away from a life dedicated to music (listening to it, not playing it), music walked away from me. Record stores re-ordered their shelves to be exclusively retailers of CDs, cassettes faded away, and by the time Nirvana's "Nevermind" turned 10, most of those old haunts of mine had shut their doors, put out of business by internet CD sales and a new thing called "peer to peer file sharing."

The records that were once unicorns, elusive and precious beasts, are now readily available for download or on sale in the four corners of the earth, it just takes an internet search to find them. The hunt is over and this hunter has given up the game.

Top Artists on LastFM

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

DIY Desperation

Do It Yourself. Yes, I usually do. But sometimes I get burned out and that's how I'm feeling right now. I'm in the home stretch. I've got a release date for the book (Impossibly Funky: A Cashiers du Cinemart Collectin) and just about have the final files to the publisher but it's that last little bit that's dragging me down.

What I want:

  • a person to produce audiobook
  • a person to plan book release party
  • a person to set up a book tour
  • a person to send books for review
  • a person to buy ads
  • a team to promote the book
I love that people are trying to help me out with recording an audio version of the book but I realized that this is yet another thing where I'm going to have to chase people down, verify quality, and nit picky until there are no more nits to pick. Where's the person to take this off my hands?

When it comes to a release party, I'd love to have one down at the Burton Theater where anyone could come, buy a book, and watch a favorite film that ties into the book like Phantom of the Paradise, Black Shampoo, or Lone Wolf & Cub 2. Hoping that the Burton will get back to me soon.

I'm fine mailing stuff and emailing stuff - it's just a matter of collecting all the data of who reviews books where, how much ads are and the specs for all of those.

And, as far as a book tour goes, I know I'd love to go to Quimby's in Chicago and Atomic Books in Baltimore but I don't know where else I should go or who else would have me. Heck, I'm not even sure if Quimby's will have me yet. Still need to ask them.

Why a team? I get a little tired of going out and hitting everywhere and saying, "Dude, check out my stuff, it's rad." It'd be much better coming from someone else saying, "Dude, check out this guy's stuff, it's rad." Or maybe using some of that hip new lingo the kids are using like, "This be da bomb, yo."

Maybe I need a personal assistant.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Do You Have Chops?

How's your voice? I've always been told that I have a face for radio but not the voice.

One of the perks of BearManor Media is that they have audio books for sale. I'm a huge fan of audio books and would love to share Impossibly Funky with people that way. That said, I'm looking for a few reliable people with decent voices to read and record the book. If you're interested and can commit to a September deadline, give me a shout.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Impossibly Funky Gets Release Date!

I'm happy to finally announce a release date for Impossibly Funky: A Cashiers du Cinemart Collection! Bear Manor Media will unleash the book in October, 2010! I'm hoping for October 5 since that date is kind of an in-joke between CdC writer Leon Chase and I but I imagine that October 19/20 is a safer bet.

More details to follow as I get 'em. In the meantime, folks can still pre-order the book via IndieGoGo.