Archive for March, 2012

Serial Killer Followup

Friday, March 30th, 2012

You may remember my mention of Robert Ben Rhodes (the truck driver accused of torturing, killing and raping as many as 50 women) who was awaiting trial in the same Big Spring, Texas jail that also housed child-abusing polygamist Warren Jeffs.

Rhodes has been sentenced to life imprisonment rather than the death penalty. This is disappointing, since he was already serving a life sentence for murders committed in Illinois and if any U.S. criminal currently behind bars in the U.S. deserves the death penalty, it’s Rhodes. But he’d been awaiting trial since 2009, which suggests there was some problem with prosecution evidence. And since he’s already 66, there was a good chance Rhodes would have died behind bars before the sentence was carried out anyway…

Happy Birthday Tony Banks and Quentin Tarantino!

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Two names that are not otherwise paired together.

Tony Banks, the keyboardist for Genesis (and, with Mike Rutherford, the only member through all the band’s lineups) is 62 today. In celebration, here’s a live version of “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway”:

Director Tarantino turns 49 today, which gives me a chance to talk about his film Django Unchained, an antebellum slave revenge fantasy that looks like looks like a cross between Mandingo and, well, Kill Bill. No trailer yet, but since it’s Tarantino, we know won’t be screwed up by any of that annoying political correctness. Also, damn, look at that cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Kurt Russell, Christoph Waltz, Jamie Foxx, James Remar (Dexter’s dad), Don Johnson (in the “Designated John Travolta Career Resurrection Role”), Sacha Baron Cohen, and Leonardo DiCaprio as the bad guy.

I fully expect it to rock.

The Wisdom of Calvin and Hobbes

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Right, as always.

Shoegazer Sunday: The Joy Formidable’s “The Greatest Light the Greatest Shade”

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

Welsh trio The Joy Formidable offers up dense shoegaze textures with poppy hooks, sort of like a cross between between Siouxie and the Banshees and Adorable.

Since they’re been on Letterman, I guess they’re hardly a secret…

Another Emanation of the Giant Weirdness Magnet

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Call me cynical, but I think the appearance of a 30-foot high golem trudging along a freeway would attract plenty more attention than a single letter to a website serving the Weirdo American community.

Even in Florida.

March Death Anniversaries I Missed

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

John Belushi’s 30th on March 5.

H. P. Lovecraft’s 75th on March 15.

I think it’s safe to say that the names of those two have seldom been linked together…

Books Read: Henry Kuttner’s The Dark World

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Henry Kuttner’s The Dark World
Ace, 1965.

At his best, Henry Kuttner was one of top SF/F writers of the Golden Age.

The Dark World is not Henry Kuttner at his best.

Essentially I only picked this up because it had been a while since I read any Kuttner, and this paperback original fit nicely in my bag on my trip to Stavanger. Even though this shows up on the Cawthorn and Moorcock Fantasy 100 list, and Roger Zelazny cites it as an influence on the Amber books, it’s a very uneven (and sometimes overwritten) parallel world fantasy. Protagonist Edward Bond has returned home after a plane crash and long period of jungle convalescence in World War II. He finds himself drawn from his house to a “need fire” by people claiming to need his help in another world. Traveling to the world with them, he discovers he’s actually Ganelon, one of the leaders of The Coven, who ruled the dark world of the title, and who has been bonded to Llyr, a powerful being who demands sacrifice. Ganelon had been exchanged for Bond (his doppelganger on earth) by the magic of his enemies, but whose memories of the dark world are still incomplete. After his fellow Coven members secretly dress him in the robes of sacrifice, he decides that some adjustment of loyalties is in order…

Despite it’s brevity (The Dark World clocks in at 126 pages), modern readers are likely to have problems with this. For one thing, the prose occasionally takes florid flights that betray its pulp-era origins. (“Medea and Edeyrn and Matholoch! The names of the three beat like muffled drums in my brain.”) Exclamation points are freely dispensed, frequently in one-word sentences. (“Llyr! the though of it-of him-crystallized that decision in my mind.”) In the world of post-Lord of the Rings fantasy, the Dark World seems both underdeveloped and under-populated, and the semi-scientific mutant explanation is unconvincing.

It’s not awful; the story moves along at a steady clip. There are also a few points of formal novelty. It was probably rare to have a novel told from the viewpoint of the bad guy, and who remained the bad guy, pretty much all of the novel. Also, the scene where Edward Bond and Ganelon face off against each other in some sort of nether corridor between the worlds makes you wonder if Don Ingalls, the screenwriter for the Star Trek episode “The Alternative Factor,” read The Dark World, given the obvious parallels.

if you haven’t read any Kuttner, this is not the one to start with.

Cyborg Karate RobotBeast vs. Future Ninja Cop

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Cracked offers up a list of 7 words only bad movies have in the title. It’s not bad as far as it goes, but:

  1. The seven words (which may be gleaned from the title of this post) are 100% from Guy Flick titles. And, you know, fair enough. But you could probably come up with a similar list for Chick Flick titles (“Heart” and “Love” both come to mind).
  2. Even by that standard, I bet there are more crappy movies with the “Fighter” than “Ninja” in the title.
  3. Horror movies are insufficiently represented. “Dark” and “Blood” (Blood Simple and a few others excepted) would likely yield a crapload of crap. And don’t get me started on “Shark”. Has there ever been an actual good movie with “Shark” in the title?)
  4. Despite what the article says, any Hong Kong movie with “Cop” in the title starring Jackie Chan is pretty much guaranteed to be awesome.

(Hat tip: Bill Crider, though his link is a little off.)

Shoegazer Sunday: Lemon’s Chair’s “Sonar”

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Here’s a live version of Japanese threesome Lemon’s Chair song “Sonar.” It starts off as some very pleasant noodling, and then more than halfway in transforms into a sonic wall of sound that never quite loses the central groove.

They also have a nice solid slab of steady-state shoegazer sweetness called “Swallowtail” on iTunes, but there doesn’t seem to be a version of that on YouTube.

New Prometheus Trailer

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

The second trailer for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus is out:

When this was first announced, it was disclosed that it was set in the Alien universe, but it wasn’t clear whether the xenomorphs themselves would make an appearance. After this trailer, I feel pretty safe in saying that they will.

Howard Waldrop and I will review this when it comes out.