Thursday, September 28, 2017
She yells my name.
"What are you doing? What are you DOING? GET OUT OF THERE!"
I am kneeling over the body of my little boy. He died after she brought him back from the vet. My daughter kneels next to me, and together we feel the loss. Having heard her enter the house upstairs, I called her down to the basement to share the bad news. Now that she stands in the doorway, she cannot help but see. Nothing can be more obvious. Anyone in the world can see my daughter and I feel pain. He is in one of those plastic cat carriers with little metal bars for a door and a handle on the top. I have removed the screws that hold the top half of the carrier to the base, so that his furry black body, still and lifeless, lies exposed. I pet him with one hand sadly while she stands in the doorway screaming at me. "He's dead," I say, not looking up. Imperiously, she orders me to move. For the sake of my daughter and my little boy, I comply. We switch places. She kneels by the body, and does what I had been doing. Standing in the doorway now, I watch while she pets his lifeless form. It is the same cat carrier he was in when I brought him back from the animal shelter six years prior. The words she senselessly screamed Still hand in the air.
What are you doing?
Get out of there!
Shifting to an oddly incongruous considerate tone, she asks my daughter if she would like to pet him. Quietly crying, my daughter says no. When she looks up and puts the question to me, I say, "That's what I was doing when you screamed at me to leave."
I wonder what she would think if she saw that scene in a movie, perhaps with the genders reversed. I wonder what she would think of herself if anyone else was her. And in the meantime I have no sofa, no lamp, or money for re-sealable baggies. If I can afford an onion, one half gets wrapped in the plastic bag from the store, and at the second-hand shop I see a lot of things I used to own. The lid to my old CD player won't stay down, so I have to keep something on top at all times, and much of what little I own is torn and frayed. All this the result of my writing books. She couldn't handle the thunder coming my way. She abandoned me one summer on family vacation, carting away my kid, whom I'd raised and taught to read by age three, all because of books. I got nothing out of the divorce.
Workwise, my attempt to syndicate my movie reviews into multiple newspapers naturally leading to a conversation with the editor of the one now nearest me resulted in some dour galley slave's release with the assurance unto me subsequent to official interview that there was more in my future at the paper than merely movie reviews. And a couple days later I found out by email he quit. Accompanied with the news was a job offer...
Wednesday, September 27, 2017
THE LOYAL READER WILL doubtless recall sometime back I found a US Marines flag someone left in my pickup. Now today I find myself the recipient of a gift nearer to my heart: A lance. An actual lance. I have no idea who left it for me, but I'm keeping it.
With my trusty tape measure I find it is eleven feet long. The width of the wood varies, but it weighs only a few pounds. The only way I could get it into my apartment was through the window. I propped it against the sill, went back inside, and pulled it right on through.
Now I have a lance. I have no idea why.
My cell phone is dead and my charger doesn't work, so I can't take pictures yet. I don't know, maybe it's an olde-time selfie-stick. Sure looks like a lance, though.
It is. Don't worry. Joust you wait and see.
CLICK ABOVE LINK TO HEAR
"SO HERE'S WHERE WE'RE AT..."
I am keeping this post because of the above link "SO HERE'S WHERE WE'RE AT" but the link below is to the official ongoing story:
Sunday, September 24, 2017
It began as a response to isolationism.
During WWI, Germany could import no films. This resulted in an influx of highly original material expressing thoughts and emotions through strikingly stylized cinematic elements: Dark, angular worlds reflecting a purely subjective eye.
Stories featuring themes of madness, betrayal, and mind control flowered in an environment of artistic freedom throughout the 1920s. In particular, the work of Robert Wiene, F.W. Murnau, and Fritz Lang influenced contemporary filmmakers and continue to do so nearly a century later.
Witness the geometrically absurd angles of the first horror film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1921). The distorted scenery and optical effects (including painted shadows) are routinely reflected in the films of Tim Burton. Three of the biggest heavyweights in film--Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, and Stanley Kubrick--owe much of their aesthetic and many of their techniques to German Expressionism.
Expressionism is a form of Gothicism, which itself arose largely as a need to process the events of the French Revolution.
To compare James Whale's Bride of Frankenstein (1935) with its predecessor, Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927) is to see homage, to put it kindly, at its fullest extent. Indeed, horror films and film noir result directly from German Expressionism.
Bluntly stated, these directors were simply way ahead of Hollywood.
From The Maltese Falcon and The Third Man to Apocalypse Now and Blade Runner, the influence of Expressionism, with its emphasis on the exaggerated and the surreal, cannot be overstated. To look at Johnny Depp as Edward Scissorhands is to see Conrad Veidt as the Somnambulist in Caligari.
Just as Franz Kafka emphatically did not write The Metamorphosis in hopes of appealing to a readership looking for stories where people turn into big bugs, the Expressionists produced unprecedented films of emotional depth, often eerily prescient of events to come, which work precisely because realism is done away with entirely.
Eventually, Germany did import films, and this highpoint in cinema took an inevitable nosedive. But like fine wine, Expressionism only gets better with age.
Stewart Kirby writes for
You've read the movie reviews...now read the books.
You haven't lived till you've died.
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Well howdy there.
Check this out: I've written over a thousand published articles in multiple periodicals. My work has appeared in This Week News and Review, The North Coast Journal, The Trader, The Independent, and more. I've taught Creative Writing and I've had a radio show reading one of my own books as well as the works of others. My clean, muscular prose engages readers around the world, and I have never missed a deadline. Decades of experience gird these journalistic loins. Whether my topic is self-assigned or appointed, I will write the most interesting article in the paper. It's what I do. And by the way, I also created my own literary genre, Redwoodpunk.
Scroll on down, peruse away, and see for yourself.
For the FULL HUMBABA CYCLE STORY LIST, click the link:
To read my article SURFING WITH SHARKS, click the link:
Sunday, September 17, 2017
A hit, a very palpable hit.
Twenty-seven years after the made-for-TV movie, It returns. And how wonderful, because in Stephen King's novel, the terrifying entity returns to the town of Derry, Maine, to feed on fear and human bodies every twenty-seven years.
The star, Bill Skarsgard, who plays Pennywise the Dancing Clown, is also twenty-seven.
One gets the impression that Stephen King films never live up to the novels. Not so. Many great films come from his work. The differences between print and film are such that many efforts do fall short, but just look at the list of classics: Carrie, The Shining, Stand By Me, The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, Misery.
And now It.
This film focuses on a group of thirteen year-olds plagued by bullies, their parents, and an evil clown in the late-1980s. The story begins with the loss of little Georgie (Scott). A year later, his big brother Bill is still obsessed with trying to find Georgie. But we know it was a clown down in a gutter that got him.
The clown tries to get other kids, too. Like Freddy Kruger from A Nightmare on Elm Street, Pennywise has godlike powers of evil and can basically do anything. So perhaps in some sense It is not totally realistic or adequately explained, but with so many great evil clown moments, who cares?
Since 1990 technology has finally advanced to the point where we can see this story as King intended. During the course of the film, admirers of the writer's work cannot help but turn frequently to one another with upraised thumbs. The way the clown rises from the murky waters of a flooded basement, flivvering angrily toward its prey--the way the clown appears from behind a collection of blood-red balloons, perhaps with the sound of a broken music box winding down--the way the clown's long sharp teeth sink into a child's flesh--these are the sorts of cinematic moments which can only be described as sublime, as true fans of King's work will attest.
The filmmakers wisely do what King does in his book: Marble the great Pennywise stuff with the good other things--the real-life laughs and horrors the kids go through hanging onto each other for support. Featuring entertaining dialogue among the kids similar to Stand By Me, It posits that the true horrors are often found at home with freakishly monstrous parents. In real life, young brothers aren't so syrupy with their displays of love, thankfully enough, and it is doubtful that a sexually abused teen would be as comfortable and well-adjusted as the one depicted in this film, but we can overlook such weak points easily enough because so much of It flat out delivers.
Well worth a trip to the big screen.
Starring Jaeden Lieberher,
Jeremy Ray Taylor,
Jack Dylan Grazer,
Jackson Robert Scott
Directed by Andy Muschietti
Written by Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga,
Based on the novel by Stephen King
\Runtime 135 minutes
Stewart Kirby writes for
Like evil clowns, do we?
Check this one out:
it's a stinkin' coulrophobe.
To read the short story CAPTAIN HIDE, click the link:
But wait, there are still more evil clowns.
This one's getting started:
To check out AXKLOWN, the world's first serial killer superhero, click the link.
Sunday, September 10, 2017
Based on the 1990s animated series, and the 2001-2002 live-action TV show, this excellent re-boot available on Amazon Prime.
Imagine a sort of opposite Don Quixote, where the windmills really are giants, and Don Quixote tries to enlist a nebbish, Woody Allen-looking office worker in his quest to battle crime as a superhero.
Similar to the 1981-1983 TV show "The Greatest American Hero", the Tick gives office worker Arthur (Newman) a mysterious super-suit which he has a hard time managing and which has seemingly ever-unfolding powers, including flight.
Arthur's sister Dot (Curry) worries about him. The Tick, who isn't all quite there mentally, but is cheerfully benign, mistakenly calls her Spot.
Meanwhile, trying to retrieve the suit (which allows the wearer to look like a superhero who should be called the Moth, or, Moth Boy) are the members of the nefarious Pyramid Gang, ostensibly lead by one Ramses IV (Cerveris), who in turn takes his orders from the Terror (Haley).
The Terror runs the city.
Further meanwhile, a masked "robo-ninja" called Overkill (Speiser) is also trying to get the suit and take down the Terror and the Pyramid Gang. But the Tick disapproves of Overkill's methods, because Overkill stabs people to death and tends to be a bit too murder-y.
And we must not forget Ms. Lint (Martinez), an enforcer for the Terror, whose superpower over electricity also has the unintended side-effect of perpetually attracting dust and lint.
Original Tick creator Ben Edlund contributes to the writing. However, writers and directors of episodes vary.
"Unhand that precious balloon of hope!" Serafinowicz's stentorian delivery, arising from a heady mixture of supreme confidence and blissful ignorance, defines the character and provides the highlights for every episode. (Serafinowicz is also one of the show's producers.) Destiny, according to the Tick's unwavering certainty, handed Arthur the super-suit. The Tick was merely the messenger. Unfortunately, he "can't remember anything beyond a few days ago."
Initially Arthur doubts his sanity and wants nothing to do with the big blue bug of justice. But again, the Tick's certainty wavers not a jot. When Arthur fears that he's hallucinating, the Tick cheerily assures his hapless new chum, "You just went sane in an insane world!"
Featuring weaponized syphilis, the show is also co-produced by the star of the first live-action series, Patrick Warburton, who first found fame as Elaine's mechanic boyfriend on "Seinfeld".
Well worth a watch.
Starring Peter Serafinowicz,
Jackie Earle Haley
Created by Ben Edlund
Runtime 29 minutes
Stewart Kirby writes for
Check out KRAZY KARTOONZ
The old man laughed as the wound gushed blood...
My short story homage to Looney Tunes features a Mel Blanc-like character who happens to be an incredibly psychotic sadist.
Thursday, September 7, 2017
Her hair falls where it likes, and she is actively gorgeous. Succulent lips, plump as ripe berries, pull me by the tie with gravitational certainty. The breasts of this goddess strain the thin material of her low-cut top, bright white fabric starkly contrasted against the richness of her warm brown skin. A natural beauty, the smiles that play across her face set my heart alight.
I hold my darling in my hand, as she indeed holds me, like Aladdin with a magic lamp. The distance is great, and nothing at all. She lines her lamp with art. I encounter pieces dreamily as she takes me on the secret tour.
Periodically unable to contain myself, I remind her again of her staggering beauty. She leans back, smiles, and tousles her hair. "Oh, thank you, Daddy!" Condition compounded, I melt into the floor.
Mon amour sends me photos. Perhaps you have heard loud howling sounds like a wolf recently wherever you live? Yes, that was me. I see the pictures and I become excited. Because she is so beautiful. And I love her so much.
Uniquely compassionate, and passionate, devoid of adversarial intent, this amazing lady embodies femininity to me. The way she dresses, the way she moves, so genuine and unaffected. Everything I have to say about my love sounds like someone else's song. Because it is true.
Now at last I understand a feeling I have never known. I don't mean that in a vengeful way against the world or anyone in particular. I am sincere. I have never felt like this before.
Three years we've seen each other online, regularly liking each other's posts. For a long time, I thought she was from Germany. I got really into Germany for awhile.
To me it seems like she lives in a storybook world. Belgium has amazing architecture. Such a pretty place. And she is an artist. Such a pretty artist. Sweeter than Kentucky pie.
Literally we talk morning, noon, and night. Every day now for months. Gipsy Kings play for us, just us, every day. Thank you, Gipsy Kings. Your tremulous strings and earnest voices complement our texts, skypes, and psychic romps through the green rolling hills of laughing lovers.
In my heart she is my wife.
And now I am ready. Ready to set the flat of the blade to the flank and leave the town in cinders.
Don't know exactly what that means, but I'm feelin' the need.
Sunday, September 3, 2017
In 1932, riding the wave of success he enjoyed the previous year with his smash hit Dracula, director Tod Browning was given free reign for his next project. Expand this latitude further considering the Hays Code limiting film would not be in effect for two more years.
Yet the product which resulted from such promise so disgusted audiences, Freaks quickly ruined Tod Browning's career.
In this story featuring a circus community, diminutive Hans (Earles) loves Cleopatra (Baclanova), the beautiful trapeze artist. She in turn loves the circus strong man, Hercules (Victor). At first she finds little Hans' big interest in her amusing, but when she learns of his inheritance, she decides to actually marry him with the plan of killing him to inherit the fortune herself.
When Hans' sideshow freak friends learn of Cleopatra and Hercules' plan, they take matters in hand...or with whatever they've got.
Some of the performers lack limbs altogether. (And yet can still roll a cigarette!) Others shock viewers more deeply. Schlitze, for example.
Born micro-cephalic, standing 4' 2", his family sold him at age 9 to a traveling sideshow. When the camera shows such clearly challenged individuals, and audiences see that, this time, Lon Chaney is dead, and the special effects are real, audiences respond viscerally.
The film was reviled. Pulled from release, banned.
No one saw it for what it was:
A powerful Great Depression statement concerning the defeat of the scheming minority privileged by the abused and hideous masses.
From Browning's perspective, the reception of his film was the real horror. He had left a well-to-do family at 16 to travel with the circus. He had become inured long prior to sights others find unforgivably offensive. As a filmmaker he drew on what he knew. He was, as Stephen King says, "playing for keepsies."
Browning finished out the bulk of the decade with only four more films, two of which wherein he went uncredited. The good one, Mark of the Vampire, stars Lionel Barrymore and features Bela Lugosi in a cameo.
Harold Russell, not a professional actor, yet missing both hands, won a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for his role in The Best Years of Our Lives (1946). In that case, conventional wisdom said that impact would have been lost to cast an actor merely acting.
In the case of Freaks, an innovative director embraced verisimilitude, yet lost conventional access to film for simply doing his job too well.
Starring Harry Earles,
Directed by Tod Browning
Written by Tod Robbins,
Willis Goldbeck, Leon Gordon
Runtime 64 minutes
Stewart Kirby writes for
Check out this short story!
CLICK THE LINK for KRAZY KARTOONZ