Friday, February 28, 2014
Monday, February 24, 2014
Once upon a time in Amazing Stories, there was a man named Mayhem.
Really, he became Johnny Mayhem after he was disembodied on a jungle planet. Voodoo? The word isn't used, but . . . he can now inhabit dead bodies for a month.
An alternate title for The Man who Saved the Universe [The Adventures of Johnny Mayem #1] by C.H. Thames could have been Johnny Mayhem, Galactic Zombie.
The Galactic League keeps bodies on tap for him on all their planets, so they can send him to “hot spots” (that's Cold War speak for places that could go commie) to bring “law and order” and “sanity” through methods that could be considered terroristic – like assassinating the president of Earth!
It's as if in 1955, the editors of Amazing looked out at America's leather-jacketed, switchblade-weilding youngsters and came up with a hero for them. It's not exactly “Rock and Roll hoodlums storm the streets of all nations” like in William Burrough's Naked Lunch, but it is action-packed pulp sci-fi sprinkled with wild, crazy ideas, just the sort of things to have in hour hand-held device for diverting chuckles as you navigate our chaotic, riotous 21st century reality.
at 7:43 AM
Friday, February 14, 2014
In Chicanonautica, at La Bloga, I search for reivews of High Aztech, and find mentions in academic books.
Meanwhile, back in Tenochititlán:
And I'm not the only one to notice the viral nature of religion:
Náhuatl is alive and well . . .
As for academia:
Monday, February 10, 2014
After way too long I have another book deal. I also participated in my first conference call. Yeah, I'm a primitive – I still don't have a cell phone.
It was all about a multi-book deal with Digital Parchment Services, Inc. My novels and a short story collection will be published as both ebooks and print-on-demand paperbacks. High Aztech will be first, followed by a short story collection. Cortez on Jupiter and Smoking Mirror Blues will come later.
These will be on a new imprint that might be called Strange Particle. They haven't made a final decision on that yet. I'll let you know when I get the news.
They have another imprint that has a brand-new website, Future Past Editions, that features “Off-Trail Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror.” They have some ebooks for a limited time, available for free.
It will be a pleasure to be published by people who are fans of my work and are enthusiastic about promoting it. I've tried doing it all on my own, and I've seen the limits of that. I look forward to getting their advice and support.
The books will have additional material, interviews, behind-the-scenes pieces, and what ever else we can come up with.
Also, before the release of the new High Aztech, I will be shutting down the Kindle and Smashwords editions. So if you want a complete collection of all editions of my books, buy them now.
And, as usual, I've got more work to do . . .
at 8:08 AM
Thursday, February 6, 2014
I really enjoyed Neal Thompson's A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It or Not!” Ripley. I tend to like biographies of cartoonists, but this one, like Robert L. Ripley himself, stands out. It's a fabulous 20th century American Dream about a buck-toothed outcast from Santa Rosa, California who became a world-famous cartoonist, and much more . . .
He was also a writer, a traveler, and an undocumented anthropologist who really knew how to cherchez le weird and present it in bite-sized packages, first as newspaper cartoons, then in books, on radios, in film, and on television.
He wasn't afraid to leap into what these days we call new media. Remember, when he started drawing Believe It or Not!, the newspaper comic section was something new.
And it turned out that weird sells.
Ripley was in some ways a successor to P.T. Barnum, though rather than the Art of Humbug, Ripley always presented his oddities as the truth and challenged the public to prove him wrong. He even questioned well-known “facts” – explaining that, for instance, Buffalo Bill never shot a single buffalo (they were all North American bison).
In a lot of ways, he was ahead of his time. His personal, informal approach to journalism foreshadowed the gonzo style of Hunter S. Thompson, travel writers like Tahir Shah and David Hatcher Childress, and mondo documentaries. His lifestyle was a like a preview of Hugh Hefner's Playboy Philosophy. When he drifted into political commentary, he was an early version of Rush Limbaugh.
By today's standards, he had some racist and sexist attitudes. But he did love Asian women, and China. He also celebrated other cultures, and introduced them to the American public, though some may object to the sideshow style.
But he loved the oddities he exploited, always feeling a bit odd himself.
He managed to “create a brand” – to use a trendy term – that went on after his death, and is still going strong.
I must admit, he was an influence on me. My wife and I live in a house full of masks and strange artifacts. We go on road trips, and always cherchez le weird.
Now, if I could just find a way to package and sell it . . .
at 8:09 AM
Friday, January 31, 2014
Meanwhile, remember Joaquin inspired Rudolfo “Corky” Gonzales' poem that became the cornerstone of Chicano civilization:
This spaghetti western presents a pretty good version of the Joaquin Murrieta legend:
There have been some wild variations on Zorro over the years:
And recently, in the Philippines:
at 7:40 AM
Monday, January 27, 2014
Note: This is the view from my desk.
Being a writer and getting published give me a great deal of pleasure. Sure, it would great if it made me rich, but as I go about my non-writing business, so I can scratch out a living, I often have a smile on my face. There's this satisfaction that nobody can take away from me.
I can never explain this to people who don't have it.
How did I end up a writer? I'm not really sure.
Decades ago, in a creating writing class, the teacher said, “If we're lucky, one person in this room will get published.”
Guess what? It was me.
And I don't really know why it was me. I wasn't the best writer in that room. It might have been that I wanted to be a writer more than the others. I did dedicate my life to it. Made sacrifices. And I never gave up.
I've always lead a quixotic life, tilting with windmills, like a crazed explorer searching through the jungle for a fabled lost city. It's the way you make dreams come true.
It ain't easy. Not everybody can do it. Most people never have that smile I get when I think about what I've done. It's easier to give up and lead a normal life.
What's it like to live this way? I recommend the documentary House of the Tiger King, with Tahir Shah demonstrating what it's all about:
If you don't have time for that, here he is talking about the film:
Meanwhile, it may look like I'm sitting at my desk, doodling away at the computer, but I'm really tilting with windmills and searching through the jungle.
at 7:52 AM
Friday, January 17, 2014
Seems like there's all kinds of brain police out there these days:
Did anybody ever ask Godzilla for his papers before he colonized global pop culture?
When did kung fu arrive in your barrio?
And when it comes to cultural appropriation, spaghetti westerns do it best:
at 7:11 AM
Monday, January 13, 2014
Back in the Twentieth Century, when I was growing up, science fiction movies were a rare thing. You had to be on the look-out for them. I'd catch all I could – even the bad ones, which were most of them. There was a lot of talk that good science fiction movies may not even be possible.
Now science fiction movies are almost a dime a dozen. They're everywhere. It's hard to keep up with them. I must admit, I don't bother with a lot of them, even though they seem good. They're not a big deal – just another sci-fi movie.
So when I do run across one that I like – especially when I haven't seen much social media chatter about it, I gotta review it.
Europa Report is such a movie.
I remember seeing trailers a while back, thinking “that looks good.” But everybody does special effects these days. They all look good.
Then my wife and I caught it on Netflix, and were blown away.
Europa Report has a documentary look and feel that keeps making you think that it was actually shot on location, even though you know that's impossible. My brain was actually fooled into thinking it was real, while with most science fiction movies these days, in the back of my mind, I know it's all pixels dancing around. I was fooled, that is the true art.
It also has an ingenious script that cuts back and forth in time – editing, not time travel, as in the documentary structure. It builds suspense, and keeps you guessing. It was edge-of-the-seat excitement rather than, “how clever, I feel intelligent for sitting through this.”
And it's hard science fiction – a very rare thing in movies. Yeah, there are things that could be nitpicked about, but then, that's part of the fun, isn't it? Europa Report is the real thing, what people have been saying was impossible for decades.
It gives you a taste of the wonder of what really could be out there, dares to demonstrate that some things are not only worth risking your life, but dying for.
And somehow the world isn't going wild over this movie. I don't understand a lot of my fellow humans.