Monday, August 29, 2016


Ridiculous Film Pitch #97a:

In an America that has just elected a fundamentalist Libertarian President and Congress, most laws are stricken from the books - including speed limits. Publicly funded police forces and other first responders, as well as roadworks crews, are no more; virtually all aspects of American civilization fall into private hands.

A billionaire psychopath sees this new world as the perfect opportunity to sate his own mad impulses: he offers one billion dollars to the man, woman or child who wins a race from New York to Los Angeles in any land vehicle they choose - except for actual race cars. The billionaire won't prevent race cars from racing, of course; he just won't pay out the billion if someone driving one wins.

The race starts in New York on the Fourth of July, with hundreds of amateur racers arriving at the starting line. They're driving modern sedans, Model Ts, Hummers, motorcycles, antique convertibles - anything on wheels, from sparkling new to ready to fall apart.

The billionaire fires the starting pistol and the contestants surge forward. Hundreds crash almost immediately; dozens fight for the pole position. The race is conducted on US highways that remain open to normal traffic. There are no rules save one: cross the finish line in Los Angeles first and collect the cash.

Naturally such a race would result in countless deaths and injuries, as well as considerable property damage. But imagine the stunts, the satire, the social commentary. CARnage! It's the most fun you can have behind a steering wheel.

Of course it's derivative of Death Race 2000 and the short-lived television series Drive, but I think the world is ready for the craziest attempt yet to reinvent the subgenre. CARnage! It's a gas. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Box Kite Flight

Leap for freedom, box kite
Slip the surly bonds, take flight
And you would, were it not
For the terrible power
Of gravity and string
Sad tuba

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Weird World of Robert W. Chambers

Last night I read The King in Yellow, the 1895 collection of short stories by Robert W. Chambers. Chambers, like the more famous weird fiction author H.P. Lovecraft, has lingered at the edges of my awareness for decades. A couple of events prompted me to finally read Chambers: watching season one of True Detective, which weaves the titular King in Yellow into its subtext, and a delightfully creepy experience a friend shared with me - an experience I can't share in turn, lest I spoil it for others.

The first four stories in the collection concern the unseen King in Yellow him(it)self, as well as the macabre world that lurks around the edges of our own - a world of looming, unseen, but horrifying menace. Two of the first four stories are set in a then-future USA of 1920; two take place in Paris. Each is full of dreary atmosphere and subtle menace, though not every story has an unhappy ending, which I found added to the effectiveness of the collection as a whole.

I was particularly intrigued, however, by the way in which the genre of the stories suddenly jump from horror to mainstream midway through the collection. The King in Yellow fades into the distance, and Chambers turns his attention to crafting amusing stories of 19th-century romance.

I don't recall reading a work that shifts so suddenly in genre and tone. There is a slight callback to the titular menace in the last couple of paragraphs of the final story, but it's subtle.

Chambers' prose is economical, and yet he manages to evoke a palpable sense of dread where appropriate. And while some of the details date the work, the writing itself is surprisingly timeless and fresh. I look forward to sampling more of his weird world.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Photoshop Tsar Bomba

Be careful what you wish for. Yesterday Jeff suggested I should add elements from other pictures to this one, with unforgivable results, as you can see here. I wanted to evoke the suburban dread of Twin Peaks by depicting a ghostly hand reaching for a bowl of cocaine while the Sean from Another Place looks on. Instead, because I am bad at this, we have a series of badly cut-and-pasted elements that clearly don't belong together. An embarrassing spectacle. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Reading by the Fireplace

Back in 2007 Sylvia and I were very kindly gifted the use of a very lovely condo in Canmore for the Thanksgiving long weekend. It was a very relaxing few days, and I remain grateful.