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June 20, 2021: Website updated and revised.

The Yacht As Big As Manhattan Now Up On Tall Tale TV

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As promised, my short story about plutocrats run amuck, The Yacht As Big As Manhattan, is now up at Tall Tale TV, both in podcast and print format. A big kudos to Chris Herron for a high quality, very professional presentation and reading. This got my Monday off to a terrific start.  It’s available on YouTube, Facebook, in MP3 podcast, and directly from the TTV website. Please give the yarn a listen or read, whatever is most convenient. Learn of the mysterious Arkadin family’s dysfunctional adventures aboard a ship the size of old Peter Von Stuyvesant’s island!

Website

http://talltaletv.com/the-yacht-as-big-as-manhattan/

YouTube

https://youtu.be/nKRA7m6IsQY

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/TallTaleTV/posts/1955894294534500

MP3

https://pinecast.com/listen/ffc12c55-d04a-43e7-9207-0172712817b8.mp3

 

 

“The Yacht As Big As Manhattan” on Tall Tale TV Monday August 24

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Chris Herron, the entrepreneurial proprietor of Tall Tale TV, an SF and Fantasy podcast site, has been good enough to inform me he’ll read The Yacht As Big As Manhattan this upcoming Monday, August 24. Yacht is a satirical SF story about a boy from a snotty prep school in the near future who gets way more than he bargained for when he goes on spring break with the son of the richest man in the world. The story was very loosely inspired by my favorite F. Scott Fitzgerald short story, The Diamond As Big As The Ritz, one of his few speculative fictions along with The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button. I’m very much looking forward to Chris’s reading. I’m sure he’ll do the yarn justice and I’ll let everyone know when the reading’s available online.

Thanks again to Chris for the acceptance!

 

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http://talltaletv.com/

Film Review: “Doomsdays”

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This is one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in years, a true screwball comedy for the early 21st century about two slackers who break into vacation homes in the Catskills and ransack them. Doomsdays plays like a Hope & Crosby Road picture only with sociopathic criminals as the rascally ne’er-do-wells who charm their way into your heart. To carry the Road analogy further, the straight Crosby role is  played by Dirty Fred (Justin Rice), a wisecracking, booze guzzling pickup artist with the manner and appearance of an extremely scruffy grad student, and the Hope role by Bruho (Leo Fitzpatrick) who looks and acts like an escapee from an asylum for the criminally insane, a deeply antisocial personality with a penchant for slashing tires and trashing cars (all for a very altruistic reason) and a hidden kink that plays an important part in the plot.

The dynamic between these two alone provokes steady entertainment as they drift from one empty resort home to another. They break in, get caught yet talk their way out of it, and trash every place they visit, making sure to drink all the decent alcohol and carry off any good drugs they find. The action kicks up further when an acolyte joins, Jaidon, a kid they find passed out after a riotous party who follows them, intrigued by their footloose, glamorous lifestyle. Brian Charles Johnson gets big yuks from the role, consummately playing a chubby putz with a burning desire for a life of action and danger.

The group is completed by Reyna (Laura Campbell), a bright, lively young woman who Dirty Fred chats up at a party (that he crashed, natch). Reyna throws over her conventional lifestyle and joins the wild and groovy housebreaking scene. She quickly proves more adept than the men, effortlessly talking their way out of being caught. This character adds sexual tension to the plot with shifting relationships between Reyna, Dirty Fred, and the initially hostile Bruho. The film did drag a bit during the last half hour as the  relationships played themselves out, yet this did lead to a satisfying conclusion I won’t give away. The lull in the last third is easily forgiven, given the frantic pace of the first two thirds as the gags fly hot and heavy.

There is a lot of really funny dialogue, most voiced by Dirty Fred, with his perpetually sardonic, unflappable, been there, done that manner. There are so many jokes, the film warrants a second viewing to catch stuff you missed the first time. I found this film amusing for personal reasons since I’ve vacationed in upstate New York a lot (a really beautiful part of the country), but Doomsdays should appeal to just about anyone, so long as they like their humor black.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2395146/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

https://www.amazon.com/Doomsdays-Leo-Fitzpatrick/dp/B011MN94CS/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=doomsdays&qid=1597897530&sr=8-1

“Melkart In The City Of The Dead” Out Now In Swords And Sorcery Magazine

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Sword and sandal fans rejoice! The June 2020 issue of Swords And Sorcery Magazine is now out, featuring my story Melkart In The City Of The Dead.  This is the second published tale to feature the exploits of the Phoenician powerhouse. The first, Melkart The Herdsman, appeared in Mythaxis, a UK magazine, in 2018. A third story, Melkart The Castaway, will appear later this year in Cirsova, Magazine Of Thrilling Adventure And Daring Suspense, In City, Melkart voyages to mysterious Khemi and the city of Inbu-Hedj, where the dead are more welcome than the living, on a dangerous quest to save his master, Abibaal, Lord of Tyre, from a maleficent curse and a doomed afterlife. Learn more and read for free by clicking the first link below:

Melkart In The City Of The Dead:

http://swordsandsorcerymagazine.com/melkart-in.html

Melkart The Herdsman:

https://mythaxis.co.uk/16issuev21.htm

Cirsova Magazine

https://cirsova.wordpress.com/cirsova-magazine/

 

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Προσοχή στην οργή του Ποσειδώνα! – Beware The Wrath Of Poseidon!

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επικεφαλής του Απόλλωνα – Head Of Apollo

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Behold the sun god’s blinding radiance!

Book Review: Stories Of Southern Humor And Southern Crime

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Disclaimer:  My crime story, The Rag, appears in this and won’t be reviewed. Instead, I’ll focus on the other authors.

Blue Room Books, a small press located in Decatur, GA, has published a fiction anthology that focuses on the “South” with a bifurcated approach; the first third features humorous stories on the general theme of Southernness while the second part deals with crime. I’ve chosen to review the latter stories due to humor being so subjective. A good crime yarn just seems easier to recognize.

These are my thoughts with a caveat to my fellow authors that this only reflects my personal opinion and shouldn’t be taken to heart.

  • Gun, No Bullets – Roy Richardson. A reflection in short story form on firearms and differing attitudes toward them held respectively by Southern common clay and Northern elites. This might have worked better as an essay instead of a short story. The expository passages seem awkward in a fictional context. The story climaxes in a bloody struggle between a couple, each bearing psychological scars, that ultimately seemed forced to me.
  • Ice In Her Veins – Patricia Bowen. A very short, hardboiled yarn about a wronged woman out for revenge and an unfortunate hitchhiker who came along for the ride. This story worked well with a good dramatic conclusion.
  • Nashville Nights – Sean Liam Hastings. One of the standout stories in the anthology. Scott Larsen, an ex-Marine with a counterintelligence background, takes a job in Nashville with an experienced PI. Hastings has a self-confessed obsession with intelligence operations and it pays off with realistic detail and steadily mounting suspense. This writer deserves attention.
  • Skatin’ On Thin Ice In A Self-Cleanin’ Oven – CK Stephens. A kid in ’70’s South Boston (as I said the Southern theme is general) gets mixed up with Whitey Bulger’s crew and sensibly bugs out. Stephens depicts Southie’s mean streets well, but the story ultimately seemed unsatisfying because it’s a novel excerpt, which I know from personal experience doesn’t always work as a short story.
  • Judgie – Jason B. Sheffield. A good old boy judge belatedly tries to help his traumatized Vietnam vet son. Judgie movingly conveys how even the best intentions mean nothing in the face of human dysfunction.
  • Home – William Steven Farmer.  The author, a retired fireman, draws on extensive experience in writing this story. He provides a fascinating, bird’s eye view of a difficult, dangerous, vital job about which most people know absolutely nothing.
  • Married In Haste – Deborah Lacy. A short, effective murder mystery with a twist ending I won’t give away. Lacy is a mystery pro with work appearing in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and it shows.
  • Hunter Hunted – Claire Count. An account of the Barker Gang and the event that led to their downfall. Count cunningly sets the reader up for a surprise ending, not tipping her hand.
  • Paul & Three Pistols – Lee Blevins. The second standout story, about a slacker kid who works at his dissolute uncle’s convenience store and the unexpected consequences that stem from a holdup. Blevins has a genuine feel for family dynamics with tolerance for human foibles and a gift for generating unexpected suspense.
  • A Flash Of Red – J.B. Stevens.  This story previously appeared in Story & Grit, a venue where I’ve also been published. An ex-GI cop has a violent confrontation with a dangerous criminal on the outskirts of Savannah. Stevens has a definite sense of place with a terse, hardboiled style as befits another experienced, published crime writer.
  • The Best Kind Of Husband – Michael D. Davis. A cheating dog and a good woman collide with fatal consequences and some badly needed assistance from other wronged dames. Another well done, brief crime story.
  • Malcolm Lost His Head – John Kojak. A tragic piece about a boy who realizes his kid brother is a psychopath too late.  An effective bummer of a story.

I recommend this anthology to anyone interested in crime fiction, the South as a literal location or  a figurative one, and small press supporters.

https://blueroombooks.com/upcoming-anthology-southern-humor-southern-crime/

https://www.amazon.com/Stories-Southern-Humor-Crime-Anthology/dp/1950729044

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53364787-stories-of-southern-humor-and-southern-crime?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=IkcdhhbM4X&rank=1

 

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Ήρα, Βασίλισσα των Θεών

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Film Review: “Witching And Bitching”

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This fast paced, Spanish film is simultaneously a really disturbing horror tale, a meditation on the battle of the sexes, and one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in years. Things get off to a lightning start with a holdup of a gold buying emporium in downtown Madrid by criminals posing as living statues with a critical assist provided by a ten year old accomplice, one of the wildest film heist scenes I’ve ever seen and worth the price of admission alone. Seriously, you’ll never forget the sight of a gold painted Jesus sprinting for his life while toting a little kid who’s shooting back two handed at the police.

A beginning like that would be hard to surpass, but W&B continues to pile it on under Alex de la Iglesia’s masterful direction. Having commandeered a cab whose driver willingly agrees to assist them, the criminals try to flee north to France to escape the law and to fulfill the promise made by the leader, José (Hugo Silva), to take his son to Disneyworld in Paris, with the police and José’s divorced wife in hot pursuit. Already a tense situation for the hapless thieves, things take a decided turn for the weird and the worse when they reach the witch infested town of Zugarramurdi, in the heart of Basque country. Led by a three generation family (the oldest witch reminded me of Grandmama from the Addams Family), the witches capture the thieves with malign designs upon them, namely to use the men as sacrifices to restore an oppressive matriarchy.

The pace rarely lets up and the jokes fly fast and furious, interspersed with over the top, gross out scenes of gore. The men lament their inability to get along with women only to find themselves trapped in a decaying mansion (is there any other kind in a horror movie?) by a bunch of smiling, evil, literal witches who want to torture, kill, and eat them. They fight back as best they can, but their fates ultimately depend upon the attraction felt by the youngest witch in the family (well played by the stunningly beautiful Carolina Bang) for bumbling José.  The climactic scene of a Witches’ Sabbath simply has to be seen to be believed, but I won’t give away any spoilers.

About the only real criticism I have of this film is the English title, which I don’t think accurately conveys what the film’s about. The Spanish title, Las Brujas De Zugarramurdi, The Witches Of Zugarramurdi, was apparently a non-starter due to the long, difficult Basque place name. This minor cavil aside, this was a crackerjack movie, absolutely entertaining from start to finish.

I recommend this film to horror fans who don’t mind comedy mixed in with the scares (some horror fans are big purists that way) and anybody who likes a good laugh in general, although I will provide the trigger warning that this is not for anyone with a weak stomach.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2404738/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

https://www.amazon.com/Witching-Bitching-Hugo-Silva/dp/B00MHUPMGI/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=witching+and+bitching&qid=1590981834&sr=8-2

The Sphinx Of Naxos

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