Monday, December 31, 2007

Press Release: A Memory of Light by Brandon Sanderson

Tor announces that the final novel in bestselling Robert Jordan’s legendary Wheel of Time® fantasy series will be completed by author Brandon Sanderson.

Tor Books announced today that novelist Brandon Sanderson has been chosen to finish the final novel in Robert Jordan’s bestselling Wheel of Time fantasy series. Robert Jordan, one of the greatest storytellers of the 20th and early 21st centuries, died September 16th after a courageous battle with the rare blood disease amyloidosis.

The new novel, A MEMORY OF LIGHT, will be the twelfth and final book in the beloved fantasy series which has sold over 14 million copies in North America and over 30 million copies worldwide. The last four books in the series were all #1 New York Times bestsellers, and for over a decade fans have been eagerly awaiting the final novel that would bring the epic story to its conclusion.

Harriet Popham Rigney, Jordan’s beloved wife and editor, said of her decision to have Sanderson complete the last book in The Wheel of Time series: “I have chosen Brandon Sanderson to complete Robert Jordan’s great work, and I am absolutely delighted that he accepted. I will of course be editing this book as I have all of the other books of The Wheel of Time.”

President and Publisher of Tor Books, Tom Doherty, also expressed his happiness with Harriet’s decision, saying: “I am delighted that Harriet has chosen Brandon to complete Robert Jordan’s magnificent and timeless epic.”

It is the perfect match for Sanderson, who gratefully acknowledges the role Jordan played as an inspiration to him as a writer. In the tribute piece “Goodbye Mr. Jordan,” posted on his blog, Sanderson writes to Jordan: “Personally, I feel indebted to you. You showed me what it was to have vision and scope in a fantasy series–you showed me what could be done. I still believe that without your success, many younger authors like myself would never have had a chance at publishing their dreams. You go quietly, but leave us trembling.”

Like Jordan, Sanderson was an avid reader and writer from an early age. His debut novel, Elantris, was an unagented gem discovered after Sanderson, then a college student writing during his late night shift at a local hotel, approached Tor editor Moshe Feder at a fantasy convention. Several months later, after reading the manuscript and deciding he had to have it, Feder tried to find the author, who had since moved. Using the internet, he tracked down Sanderson through a campus directory—and the rest is history.

Sanderson has since gone on to establish a loyal fan base as the author of three critically acclaimed fantasy novels: Elantris, Mistborn, and The Well of Ascension, as well as a YA novel, Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians. Publishing trade magazines Publishers Weekly and Library Journal gave Elantris starred reviews and it was the winner of the Romantic Times Award for best epic fantasy. The Washington Post also praised Sanderson for his creation of “a fascinating world” in Mistborn.

Sanderson will have large shoes to fill in his role bringing A MEMORY OF LIGHT to publication but will work very closely with Jordan’s longtime editor, Harriet Rigney, to be sure that the writing stays true to Jordan’s voice. Jordan himself worked on the novel almost daily for the last few months of his life and according to Harriet: “Some scenes were completed by Robert Jordan, and some exist in draft form; he left copious notes and hours of audio recordings.”

Jordan had known the ending of the series for a long time and, according to a blog posting by his cousin, Wilson W. Grooms, Jr., on the popular Jordan fan site, Jordan had a few months ago revealed secret details about the end of the series to close members of his family which he had never discussed before. Grooms wrote: “During a recent family sit around, he [Jordan] became the Gleeman and told the bones of it ALL to Harriet and me. You read that right, I did say ALL. Don’t ask, ain’t telling. Two and a half hours of story telling by the Creator himself went by in the twinkling of an eye.”

Sanderson knows that fans are very anxious to read the last novel in The Wheel of Time series and says, “I’m both extremely excited and daunted by this opportunity. There is only one man who could have done this book the way it deserved to be written, and we lost him in September. However, I promise to do my very best to remain true to Mr. Jordan’s vision and produce the book we have all been waiting to read.”

At a recent Toastmaster’s address at the World Fantasy Con this past November, author Guy Gavriel Kay saluted Jordan’s enduring legacy, stating that his “impact on the place of fantasy in the culture is colossal.”

Jordan has also often been referred to as Tolkien’s heir and in an article about The Wheel of Time series, The New York Times lauded Jordan for his extraordinary story-telling ability: “The books’ battle scenes have the breathless urgency of firsthand experience, and the ambiguities in these novels—the evil laced into the forces of good, the dangers latent in any promised salvation, the sense of the unavoidable onslaught of unpredictable events—bear the marks of American national experience during the last three decades, just as the experience of the First World War and its aftermath gave its imprint to Tolkien’s work.”

John Clute said of Jordan’s magnum opus, “when complete, the sequence will almost certainly constitute one of the major epic narratives of modern fantasy.”

Now Brandon Sanderson has signed on to complete A MEMORY OF LIGHT, with scheduled delivery of the manuscript in December 2008 and a planned publication date of Fall 2009. “The Wheel of Time turns and ages come and pass. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow. Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time…”

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Book Review: 13 Eyes by Joseph Ryan

It is more than obvious after the first chapter that this book is a young author's first attempt at a finished novel, and while it is a good attempt, it is still not a complete success.

The main focus of the story is a troubled young man suffering from strange visions and uncontrollable emotions, and the disjointed narrative is meant to convey his confusion while simultaneously setting up the readers for a number of shocking surprise twists that never truly shock or surprise.

The premise is valid, it is the execution that falls flat. This is due mainly to the writer's use of a non-linear format riddled with hallucinatory imagery, a combination that even seasoned veteran writers botch regularly. Also fumbled are the inner monologues of characters, and maybe even the characters themselves, as they come across as overly simplistic in their thoughts and actions.

All of these mistakes help detract from the story, but it is the author's own epilogue at the end that puts the final nail in the coffin. His explanation of why he wrote the book and what it means to him emotionally and psychologically is somewhat touching, but ultimately unneeded and somewhat heavy handed. All writers have personal agendas behind their works, but those feelings and philosophies should be reflected in the prose. If you have to explain to the reader how the book was supposed to make them feel, then you haven't done your job as a writer.

A good effort and a worthy project, but with a couple years more work and a couple hundred more pages to help flesh out characters and story points, the end product would have more faithfully reflected the author's intentions.

Reviewed by S. Michael Wilson

Friday, December 28, 2007

Book Review: Hollywood Hell by Don Pendleton (Chuck Rogers)

Mack Bolan, the black clad Executioner who learned his killing techniques on the jungle battlefields of Viet Nam, only to use them against the Mafia after they slaughtered his family, is headed to Hollywood to break into the film business --- snuff film business, that is.

Don Pendleton’s anti-hero is just as powerful in the world of publishing as he is in the dark alleys of any crime-infested urban hell. The Executioner series, including its many spin-offs, has published more than 675 novels, and that’s a whole lot of confirmed kills and spent rounds. And in case you haven’t guessed, he is also the inspiration for Marvel Comic’s The Punisher.

In number 77 of the series (written by Chuck Rogers), we find Bolan, and his brother/assistant Johnny, watching a porn flick starring Julie, the young daughter of a prominent politician. The girl’s movements appear to be forced, her eyes wide with fear. The outfit that discreetly distributes the film, and others with subject matter ranging from extreme S&M, bestiality, and kiddie porn, is connected to the mob. Could blackmail be the reason for Julie’s introduction into the grimy world of hardcore porn, or could the cause be something even more sinister? In any case, the Executioner has just strapped on his gun-belt in search for the villain of the book (besides Mr. Rogers.) After leaving a trail of dead goons behind him, he eventually meets Iceman (not inspired by the Marvel X-Man, but would have been a better book if he had), a west coast porno magnet with an unnatural attraction to world dictators and violent sex.

A hardcore subject written for the sensibilities of young adolescent males, complete with painstaking attention to the workings of all things deadly, and a plot that you could drive a Sherman tank through, Hollywood Hell is what you would expect for a series novel --- minus the fun.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Book Review: Angel In Black by Max Allan Collins

It was in 1947 that radio stations played the hit song STREET OF DREAMS. Frank Sinatra crooned the haunting lyric “Dreams broken in two can be made like new on the Street of Dreams.” Frankie was wrong.

On a blustery morning of January 15, the nude corpse of a young woman was found in the Crenshaw District of Hollywood between the crossroads of 39th and Coliseum Street.

The tale gets even more frightening -- and diabolic. It was determined by the LA County coroner that the woman had been bound upside-down by ropes at the wrists and ankles and the letters “BD” were carved into her thigh.

Fingerprint analysis ascertained that “BD” was Beth Short, a.k.a.: the “Black Daliha.” Named the Black Daliha because of her choice of black clothing, she was just another young girl who traveled to Hollywood to become famous. Just like a Faustian deal with the devil, Beth got her wish. More than fifty years later, her unsolved murder still fascinates crime buffs and Hollywood archivists.

When a disemboweled creature is found at a crossroad, it is considered an ill omen. Beth was Hollywood’s ill omen, and one that causes alot of problems for Max Allan Collins’ ace gumshoe Nathan Heller.

In ANGEL IN BLACK, fact, fiction and speculation collide in this retro PI pulp novel complete with a colorful collection of tough guy and dangerous dame (most of which are Collins’ interpretations of real people) and sharp, snappy prose delivered in rapid session.

Heller is in LA to open a branch of his famous A-1 Detective Agency, and just happens to be with Bill Fowler of THE EXAMINER when Beth’s corpse is found. Things get a little “dicey” when he recognizes Beth’s sliced and battered face as a girl he used to know from Chicago, a fact which he keeps close to the vest. He is hired by Fowler’s newspaper to dig up some sleaze they can print, but the only things that Heller discovers are not suitable for the evening news.

Among the twist and turns of Collins’ 11th Heller novel are: a gang war brewing between mobsters, Jack Dragna and Mickey Cohen, an Orson Welles’ connection to DB (lifted from the book Childhood Shadows) and former G-Man Elliot Ness, still reeling from Cleveland’s own torso killing (lifted from TORSO.)

I will not spill the beans regarding the ending, which takes place in 1982 and involves Heller’s meeting with a thinly veiled version of a true crime author known for his writings on the BD case and a final fiery showdown the man that he fingered as the torso killer.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door is now available on DVD

In a quiet suburban town in the summer of 1958, two recently orphaned sisters are placed in the care of their mentally unstable Aunt Ruth (Emmy® winner Blanche Baker of HOLOCAUST). But Ruth’s depraved sense of discipline will soon lead to unspeakable acts of abuse and torture that involve her young sons, the neighborhood children, and one 12-year-old boy whose life will be changed forever. William Atherton (DIE HARD), Catherine Mary Stewart (NIGHT OF THE COMET) and Grant Show (MELROSE PLACE) co-star in this devastating drama adapted from the controversial best seller by Jack Ketchum that Rue Morgue Magazine called “one of the most disturbing reads in the history of horror literature.”
Widescreen Presentation
Theatrical Trailer
Audio Commentary with Director Gregory Wilson, Producer Andrew van den Houten and Cinematographer/Co-Producer William M. Miller
Audio Commentary with Novelist Jack Ketchum and Screenwriters Daniel Farrands and Philip Nutman
Interviews With Cast & Crew
Screenplay (DVD-ROM)

If you have enjoyed Ketchum's hard-hitting crime and terror yarns, this DVD with not disappoint you -- but be warned, it is not for the squeamish!

Book Review: 24 Declassified: Storm Force by David Jacobs

David Jacobs, true crime and adventure author, skillfully weaves a tale of international intrigue and danger more intense than any of the 24 television episodes you might have seen. His writing style is brisk and kinetic... perfectly suited for an agent Jack Bauer adventure.

The plot: Going into an election year, the current administration is plagued by an oil shortage and the failures of FEMA’s rescue operations during and after the wake of a level five hurricane that decimated a coastal American city. The price of gas skyrockets at the pump, so with his approval ratings at an all time low, the President uses the implied threat of the might and muscle of the military to convince the Saudi government to produce more oil. If they comply to the wishes of Uncle Sam, helping the current administration lower gas prices – an action that could possible win the election, Islamic fundamentalists terrorists will target the Royal Princes for assassination. The shadowy figures in the Saudi government strike a deal with the terrorists. They will agree to America’s wishes and increase the flow of oil, only to use their newly found revenues to finance a multi-national terrorist attack on American soil --- one designed to cripple this nation and bring the President and his Cabinet to their knees.

What follows is riveting. The plan, one that could be implemented in reality, is both flawlessly conceived and monstrously horrific. The villains, whose sympathies varies from shades of darkest gray to pitch black, are well imagined and more than capable of killing anything that stand in the way of their Holy War of death and destruction. And if this wasn’t enough for any special agent to handle, one of the book’s more jam-packed action passages involves Bauer’s vicious battle with the terrorists in the ruins of flooded out New Orleans with another hurricane approaching!

If you are a fan of the television series, pick this book up. If you are not a fan, pick this book up and you will become one --- hurry, the clock is ticking down!
Reviewed by Riley

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Book Review: Hollywood Kryptonite by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger

This compelling book was the inspiration for Hollywoodland, a film that examines the mystery of the death of George Reeves, and uncovers a plot more sinister than any of Lex Luthor’s comic book scenarios. Here my take on the sad occurrences that led up to that fateful night.

George (Superman) Reeves was flying high in 1955. THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN was a smash hit, and the phrase, “Up, up, and away!”, delighted youngsters and red-blooded American women alike. One of them especially was the wife of M-G-M vice president Eddie Mannix, the man with organized crime connections whom the studio moguls used to crack the skulls of union organizers. Toni Mannix lavished her affections, as well as a house, car, and an extravagant lifestyle, on the handsome young leading-man in blue tights. (Hey, krypTONIte, George should have stayed clear of her.) She gave him the key to Hollywood’s high society, and he gave her a strong arm to escort her.

Many reporters and stars wondered about the wisdom of blatantly having an affair with the wife of M-G-M’s most feared and dangerous executive, but like his television counterpart, George feared nothing. Well almost nothing.

It was in a department store during a promotional appearance for his television show that George, dressed in full superhero regalia, did get a taste of fear. Scores of the 16,000 children in attendance decided to test Superman’s invulnerability. George fought back the tears caused by a barrage of kicks to his shins by his giggling fans. Maybe this was Karmic “payback” for all of those children who maimed and killed themselves imitating their hero by trying to fly out of high windows? But things got much worse for George when a young boy produced his father’s “World War II” memento, a loaded .30-caliber German Luger, and pointed it directly at the big red “S” on Superman’s chest. The boy wanted to have a slug than had been flattened from Superman’s dense skin as a souvenir of their meeting. Before the tike could squeeze the trigger, George convinced the lad that someone could get hurt when the bullet bounced off him then grabbed the pistol away from the youth. The boy took home a signed 8x10 glossy, and George kept the gun.

Then in 1957, just like his television counterpart, George’s world exploded. THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN was canceled. He thought this could be the opportunity to take other film roles. Unfortunately, nobody was offering them to him.

June 16, 1959, in the early morning hours, a drunk, naked, depressed Superman sat at the foot of his bed. His affair with Toni (and her money) had soured. His answering machine tape was filled with her frequent harassing calls, in which she threatened to expose his bisexual tendencies. (Did Superman like men? It would explain the red go-go boots.) But Toni was definitely not “all talk and no action.” Six months prior, she kidnapped his pet schnauzer from his parked car and killed it. Maybe it was her, using Eddie’s influence, that kept George from working in the film business.

Downstairs, the new love-of-his-life, Leonore Lemon, entertained some of the local ginhounds. There was always free booze at George’s house and the party raged on. George needed his sleep. Tomorrow he would pick up a small piece of change in a two-round exhibition boxing match with prize-fighter Archie Moore. Moore would badly bruise him just like the kids did at those Superman personal appearance tours so many years ago. On the dresser was a .30-caliber Luger. His mind raced faster than a locomotive.

Leonore Lemon amused her inebriated guests by making the comment, “He [George] is getting the gun now, and he is going to shoot himself.” Chugging drinks and laughter was their only response. The booze stopped flowing when a shot was heard from the bedroom. Was Leonore physic?

The next morning the most ironic thing happened. A message was left on George’s answering machine offering him the chance to produce, direct, and star in a movie about witchcraft. It would have been the only professional work for George since his show was canceled, and the chance to restore his self-esteem.

Incidentally, every SUPERMAN comic book reader knows that the only thing besides kryptonite that can kill Superman is magic. If George would have waited 24 hours before squeezing the trigger, magic (or in this case, witchcraft) would have saved him.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Book Review: Lucha Libre: Masked Superstars of Mexican Wrestling by Lourdes Grobet

And in this corner of my coffee table, weighing at 2. 8 pounds and hailing from D.A.P, New York is Lourdes Grobet’s stunning LUCHA LIBRE, the pictorial history of the mysterious masked men of Mexican wrestling with images so vivid you can almost smell the sweat and salsa. They’re all here, folks, from Astro to Villano, and all their thrilling victories and bone-crunching defeats in the squared circle are all captured by Ms. Grobet’s unflinching lens. Santo and the Blue Demon, patron saints of the sport and gringo fan favorites, are heavily featured among the legion of lesser known luchadors like priest Fray Tormenta, who wrestles to raise money for a home for street children and is the inspiration for Jack Black’s Nacho Libre, The Wise Giant, strange visitor for the stars left on Earth to combat evil by an advanced alien race (represented in the ring by a dwarf in a yeti suit) and Gran Markus Jr. whose head was shaved after a humiliating loss (a stunt repeated again and again for revenge matches.) Written in both Spanish and English, the book is destined to be a hit (and kick) on both side of the boarder.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Introduction to: Criswell Pridicts by Criswell

While rummaging though some musty boxes at a “Friends of the Library” book sale in upstate NY, I came across this once forgotten volume of crackpot predictions. Today, Criswell- the media physic from the 1950s who once claimed that flying saucers will land on the White House lawn, is best remembered as a bit player in the B-films of Ed Wood.

I wasn’t always “Criswell Predicts”:

Once I was Baby Criswell!

And even then, I was interested in the future!

I was born on a Sunday, August 18th, when the church bells were ringing. I was the first child on both sides of the family, and basked in the spotlight, which I never gave up. They thought I would be a cardinal or a governor!

I scribbled on the walls, floors, and papers, and did not talk until I was four. “Retarded,” they said. “Poor Baby Criswell will never talk.”

During an Indiana thunderstorm, I started to talk and have not stopped until this day.

I told my shocked parents, “The rain will stop!” My very first prediction, and a valid one!

In our family, the Criswells, the Kings, the Hopkins, the Mulhalls, the Neeleys, the Browns, and the Williamses were all proud of Indiana; becoming grocers, newspaper editors, doctors, druggists, politicians, bankers, and undertakers. School teachers competed for God and glory in the hot Hoosier sun. Princeton, Indiana, was in Gibson County, with the Wabash, the White, and the Patoka Rivers giving the five thousand natives a rich heritage. The Mason-Dixon Line was only twenty-seven miles away across the Ohio River.

I was raised in the King House, the family hotel. I thought any one who lived seven miles away was a foreigner, and I was shocked to find out that they did not know who I was. The town certainly knew who I was, as I would not let them forget.

On Sunday, I would join the minister in the pulpit. Once I sang a solo without music. The family could not keep me from getting before an audience, even at a funeral! In the Christmas plays, I would stay on stage until I was forcibly removed. I loved political rallies. My Uncle Earl would let me stand by him while he campaigned. Any school teacher knew better than to call on me because they could never quiet me. My Aunt Mayme would call on me at the very last, and the dismissal bell would cut my appearance down to ten seconds! Cousin Alice, who taught me history in the 8th grade, never received a simple answer, but an oration!

When the tornado blew down half the town, I proudly conducted tours for the sightseers. Everyone prefaced their conversations with, “Who was there besides Cris?” No club or audience could meet in secret without my somehow finding the way to the platform.

I was not really an extrovert— just impervious to criticism of any kind.

When they unveiled the Soldier’s Monument in the Courthouse Yard, they uncovered me standing there spouting Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

I yearned to work on Uncle Roy King’s DAILY DEMOCRAT, and he would pay me twenty-five cents for five personal items. My personal items were exclusive: I would write what people were going to do!

I had Vivian Draymeyer attending her sister’s funeral in Mt. Carmel when her sister was still alive, but her sister died the next day, and it saved me from embarrassment... And made me stop to ponder the occurrence.

I began to predict things more and more often. I would operate on these “hunches” and found myself able to help solve the problems of others.

After High School, I attended the University of Cincinnati, taking Public School Education at the Conservatory of Music, and then tried my hand at teaching. I gave it up after one term in Jersey City, New Jersey. After a pre-med course, further work in a mortuary and the city morgue, and as an ambulance jockey, I returned to newspaper work and newscasting.

As I predicted more accurately, I became less reticent to predict. I kept score, writing predictions for my eyes only, then checking to see if they came to pass. My accuracy increased with each year, and I began writing my predictions for others to see and hear.

Sometimes my predictions were laughed at. (I received a big laugh on Johnny Carson’s TONIGHT SHOW by predicting, after Pat Brown’s victory over Richard Nixon, that Ronald Reagan would defeat Brown in the next election and be California’s next Governor).
But even my most “outlandish” predictions, the public scorekeepers say, are eighty-six percent accurate.

When the publishers approached me to do this book, I merely released to them the “Journal of the Future” — my private collection of what will happen between now and the end of our civilization!

My predictions are not written to win literary attention. I am not sure what they all mean. Some are frighteningly explicit. Others are somewhat vague. All are based on conscious study and sub-conscious “realizations.”

I pass them along to you as I have recorded them.

Over the next remaining years, you may keep your own “score” as to their accuracy.
After that, it will not matter.
CRISWELL -- 1968

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Book Review: In The Belly Of The Beast by Jack Henry Abbott

With the recent passing of Norman Mailer, literary great and native New Yorker, I was compelled to re-read ITBOTB and share with you what Paul Harvey would call, “the rest of the story.”

TBOTB is a cold stark look into the everyday reality of life of a maximum security prisoner, written by one who knows. Jack Henry Abbott, a career criminal whose crimes range from forgery, bank robbery and murder, tells tales of life inside the Big House with a heavy emphasis on how the prison system is designed to crush a man’s soul and render him the equivalent of a caged animal. With maudlin, yet poetic, comments like, “When they talk of ghosts of the dead who wander in the night with things still undone in life, they approximate my subjective experience of this life”, Abbott mythologizes his existence until he is completely transformed into a hypocritical version of Marley’s Ghost, a phantom that blames his unearthly torment on the evils of capitalism and not his own personal greed.

Every violent offense Abbott commits in prison is rationalized by him as a blow against a corrupt and morally bankrupted system of prison rule and regulations described in this quote: “Imagine a thousand more such daily intrusions in your life, every hour and minute of every day, and you can grasp the source of this paranoia, this anger that could consume me at any moment if I lost control.” Judging by his prison record, he lost control many times -- including fatally knifing a fellow inmate.

One part true crime, three part propaganda, Abbott’s book is an interesting read; a self serving testament that shows us why the word “con” is the first three letters in convict.

And now the rest of the story.

While Mailer was writing The Executioner’s Song, he receives a letter from a convict named Jack Abbott. Yearly, the author would obtain hundreds of letters for people all claiming that their life would be an interesting subject for his next book – but this letter intrigued Mailer. Abbott, after reading in the newspaper that Mailer was in the process of writing a book about prison violence and convicts, offers to help Mailer by sharing his true-life experiences. Mailer takes the con up on his offer, and in rapid succession a stream on letters floods the author’s office, each one more intense, more thought provoking on the subject of the flaws of the State’s penal system. So enamored by Abbott’s prose and radical beliefs, Mailer got some of his letters published in the New York Review of Books. Shortly afterwards, Mailer convinces his publisher to print the letters in book form with an introduction by him. ITBOTB is published and quickly becomes a national bestseller. Using Abbott’s new found literary talents and celebrity as a reason for early parole, Mailer petitions the board and wins Abbott’s release. When question by the Press if he thinks Abbott is still a risk to society, he states, "Culture is worth a little risk."

Six week after his release, Abbott stabbed to death a waiter named Richard Adan when Adan told him that he would have to use the restroom in the store next to the restaurant because their toilet was backed-up. After lambing-it for a few months, he was captured, charged with murder and sent back into what he refers to as "the belly of the beast. "

Richard Adan's widow successfully sued him and receives all the money from the book's sales, so pick up two copies today!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Rarity of the Month: The Way Out World by Long John Nebel

Venture back to a simpler time, a time when all radio was regional; local news, local talk shows and local entertainment. It will be more than 23 years until syndicated shows will dominate all local markets subjecting listeners to the same endless flavorless debate on national politics, so enjoy it while you can by tuning your AM dial to New York’s WOR and prepare to be dazzled by the wit and weirdness of Long John Nebel.

Way before Art bell, Nedel and his co-host Candy Jones would mystify listeners with unusual guests who spoke on a series of strange topics including: ESP, UFOs, Extraterrestials, faith healing, time travel, and mysterious creatures. The Way Out World is culled together by Nebel’s reminiscences and quotes or transcripts from some of his most memorable shows. One highlight occurred when comedian Jackie Gleason (a fanatic UFO researcher and a fan of Nebel) calls in to challenge George King. King was known at the time for his incredible claims and did not disappoint the listeners when he bragged that he was commissioned to be a delegate to an interplanetary cosmic United Nations by alien lifeforms. King was in the middle of telling how he met Jesus Christ on a Martian saucer, when Nebel informed “Earth’s Ambassador” that a person called-in and wanted to speak with him. Below is the transcript of what occurred:

GLEASON: Are these people from outer space good friends of yours?
KING: I believe that they are friends of mine, yes.
GLEASON: Could you call on them for assistance? For instance, if you were in some sort of legal difficulty, embracing some part of their recognition of you, would they come to your aid?
KING: Under those circumstances, they would help, yes.
GLEASON: If I were, for instance, to say to you that you are a bare-faced liar, now you know you could sue me for libel, right?
KING: Yes, yes.
GLEASON: Now do you think that you could get any legal assistance from them in a case like this?
KING: No, I don’t.
KING: Why should they help?
GLEASON: Well, you’re championing their cause.
KING: No, no, I’m not. [cough] I’m trying to give a spiritual message, which I believe to be good for all people.
GLEASON: Why do we need a spiritual message from someone in a flying saucer? Don’t we have enough from Christ, Buddha, Moses -- men like that?
KING: Do we live by those teachings?
GLEASON: Yes, I do.
KING: You do? [cough] Then you're the first Christian that I’ve ever seen.
GLEASON: By the way, do you know that every time you are uncertain when you say something, you cough. Do you know what that means psychologically? In other words, you cough every time you tell a lie.
GLEASON: Now George, look at the juicy opportunity you have. Here’s a guy that you’re talking to that’s got a lot of dough. You can sue me for maybe a million dollars, and maybe get it. And all you have to do to get it is to bring one of your friends from Mars to O.K. this thing, and you will win.
KING: I’ve already answered this question. There isn’t a man on Earth who could do this.
GLEASON: In other words, you have absolutely no proof from these people whom you are championing? You have absolutely no backing from anybody from outer space for what you say?
KING: Just a moment, please. Just one minute...
GLEASON: I’m waiting, and cough a little bit.
KING: I shall put this phone down in a moment.
KING: I’m a guest here, you see.
GLEASON: Not in my house, you’re not a guest. I think you’re a phony!

Jackie was never sued for liable. Instead King chose to earn a meager living selling pamphlets about his adventures with his space pals. Jackie spent years trying to find proof of extraterrestrial life. He even offered a ten thousand dollar reward to anyone that could provide him that proof.

The Way Out World is filled with wonderful anecdotes like this one. It will entertain, and make you wish that Rush Limbaugh continued his career with the Kansas City Royals.

Book Review: Life Is But A Scream! by Ray Ferry

Calling all Baby Boomers and monster fans, listen up, you don’t want to miss this!

Where you a kid in the sixties who read Forrest J Ackerman’s Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine and thrilled to the exploits of Karloff, Lugois, and Chaney on TV’s Creature Feature? But when maturity beckoned, did you replaced your macabre interests with sports, girls, rock music, college and/or a steady job? If so, you probably don’t know the story behind the death … and rebirth of your once favorite monster mag.

Warren Publications, a magazine publishing giant with many horror and sci-fi comic titles, one of which was 1994, put out FM. In the eighties, Jim Warren approaches fantasy writer Harlan Ellis for the rights to the comic version of A Boy And His Dog. The negotiations broke down when they could not agree on an equitable price. So Warren, once confident in his ability to obtain the story rights, had his art department complete the comic artwork. He published the artwork in the magazine 1994 and changed all of the characters’ names and the title of the story. Ellis sued for infringement of copywrited material and won a hefty judgment thus bankrupting the publishing empire. Over the years, many of Warren’s trademarks were not renewed --- enter Ray Ferry.

Ray Ferry, a promoter and fan of the original FM, meets FJA and the two decides to throw a Famous Monster Convention in 1993. (I was there – where you?) The Convention was such a hit that Ferry decides to re-launch FM with FJA as its editor and in rapid succession begins to re-file all of FM’s trademarks under his own name. After a few issues hit the stands, Ferry and Forry part ways after a nasty dispute.

What follows is one of the most vicious and contentious legal battles in the history of fandom. It’s Forry vs. Ferry over the right to use the moniker “Dr. Acula” as fans choose-up sides! Things get so heated that Ferry receives anonymous death threats from fans still loyal to the original FM. This book is a scream and a testament to the truth of an old Universal horror film rule: when two or more monsters meet, they must eventually battle to the death. In this case, it was in a court of law.

Book Review: McMasters: Violent Sunday by Lee Morgan

Don’t let the cover fool you! This is not some weak western romance novel injected with a splattering of violence but a violent pulp western fueled by horrific gore and perverted cruel sex.

When the Cattleman’s Protective Association is in a jam, they call in their specialist: the .70 caliber rifle-toting cowboy Boyd Mc Masters. Part tracker- all killer, McMasters makes his living off of the deaths of others, and in this adventure (#6 in the series) “the others” are the Hell’s Killers, a gang of sadistic cannibalistic butchers who are not just satisfied with rustling cattle, but are compelled to torture and mutilate the ranchers, their families, and any one else who is either foolish or unlucky enough to stand in their way. The Association has placed a rather large bounty on each one of their inbreed heads, and McMasters aims to collect every last cent.

The trail leads McMasters to Packer Point (could the name Packer be a reference to Albert Packer, a western cannibal?), a fortress-like mountain railroad station own and operated by the Tanner Family (isn’t a tanner someone who skins animals – well as you can guess, the author is having a lot of fun with the cannibal premise.) What follows, without giving away any spoilers, is an 1882 version of The Hills Have Eyes set in Montana’s snowy Blue Pine Hills. Two-gun action, sex and death, and more death abound in this delightfully mean-spirited horror western that kicks like a shotgun blast to the chest and ends with all the momentum of a runaway train –literally.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Book Review: The Badge by Jack Webb

The quintessential 1950s icon of law and order made flesh, Jack Webb, at the height of his Dragnet fame authored The Badge, a 310 page wet kiss to LA’s “boys in blue” and their never ending war on crime and immorality. Its ten chapters, each detailing a different police division or department, highlight the dangers, heartaches, and bloodshed an officer must face at the hands of the insane, perverted and/or criminal. Once this volume was a prized collectible, one that many a true crime buff would gladly spend hundreds of dollars to obtain. But thanks to Thunder Mouth Press (a division of Avalon Publishing), anyone with the meager sum of $14.95 can possess this new printing which includes an introduction by that jive-talking, retro-crime writing hipster, Mr. James Elroy. When Mr. Elroy was a young boy, his father bestowed The Badge on him for an 11th Birthday gift. The effect on the boy was similar to the first meeting of Nitro and Glycerin. With his mother the victim of an unsolved sex-slay the prior year, the young James, now wise beyond his years, became obsessed with Webb’s white-hot descriptive narrative of some of the most brutal crimes in LA’s history. One of the chapters he found particular intriguing contained the torso murder of Beth Short, the Black Dahlia – and as the saying goes, “the rest is history.”

The Badge is like a R-rated extended Dragnet episode with out the names changed--- because nobody in this blood-soaked tome of murder, mayhem, and vice is innocent. So be advised to “pick up and detain” your copy today. That is all.

Book Review: Cop Hater by Ed McBain

I've never been a fan of police procedurals. The majority of them tend to be more concerned with showing off the author's knowledge of obscure investigation technique trivia than telling any kind of cohesive, let alone down to earth, story. With this in mind, the only reason I offer for loving the 87the Precinct series, written by the man who practically invented the genre, is that he writes it better than anyone else. If you're sick and tired of the Law & Order clones, maybe you should take a step back and check out the series that defined the genre and has yet to be surpassed. And if you've never visited McBain's series, then there is no better place to start than the beginning.

Cop Hater is an able and worthy introduction to the world of the 87th Precinct's Homicide Division, walking the beat of its fictional city for over fifty years, right up until the author's death last year. Many book series suffer from weak openings and fluctuations in quality and style that often leave fans recommending later entries as a starting point for new readers. The 87th never felt any such growing pains, and Cop Hater still stands as strong as the 53 that soon followed.

Detective Carella, the anchor of the series, is introduced in this initial outing, along with other long-term cast members including his love interest and future wife Teddy, stoolie Danny the Gimp, Lt. Byrnes, hack journalist Savage, Bert Kling (still a patrolman before earning his detective's badge in The Mugger), angry bull Roger Havilland, and the diminutive but dangerous Hal Willis.

Cop Hater is one of McBain's more direct titles, and covers the plot simply. Someone is killing cops out of the 87th Precinct. A dead cop is always taken seriously by other cops, but things become personal for Carella when the third officer gunned down in cold bloody is his partner Bush, and even more so when newspaper reporter Savage turns his deaf girlfriend Teddy into a prospective target. With nothing more to go on than the killer's motive as a Cop Hater, the race is on to catch the killer before he kills anyone else that Carella cares for, or for that matter, Carella himself.

Many police procedural series try to go over-the-top with spectacular crimes or completely outrageous twists and turns, and mind-numbingly technical procedure descriptions. This is territory that the 87th Precinct never strays into. While McBain does take the time to explain how and why certain aspects of the job are undertaken, he does so not to flog the reader with facts, but to help them understand exactly what the bulls of the 87th are up against. The crimes and characters of the 87th are always believable, interesting, and never fail to ring with a truth and honesty that makes it seem as real as crime in your local papers. Cop Hater embodies this truth as much as any of the other books, despite being written over fifty years ago. The procedures may change over time, but the criminals and cops are still driven by the same beliefs.

Reviewed by S. Michael Wilson

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Book Review: The Shadow Over Santa Susana by Adam Gorighty

Adam Gorightly, self-professed “crackpot historian” and former zine writer, does a Herculaneum task of assembling all of the shadowy theories and speculations about Charlie’s family (and why “Helter Skelter” went down—or seven different versions of it) into one cohesive and enjoyable tome. It’s all here, true crime and conspiracy buffs, all of the allegations, painstakingly researched (and footnoted), that the other Manson books only hinted at. Topics include: the Church of Satan, MK ULTRA and LSD mind control projects, S&M Celebs, snuff videos, the Son of Sam, the RFK hit, ONI, New Age messiahs, the Process Church, the Mob (was Charlie a hitman?), Race Wars, Kenneth Anger, Scientology, the Zodiac Killer, Rock Stars, a national murder cult, drug and kiddie porno rings, and more witchy teenage girls and speed-freak bikers that you can shake a buck knife at! It is not Mr. Gorightly’s intention to make you believe that Manson was a key figure in all of the purported criminal and satanic activities laid out in his book, but merely to inform the reader how much of a true crime icon Charlie Manson is to have writers and historians try to link this little twitchy piece of nothing to every sinister event in the sixties and beyond. Also included is a photo index of Manson family members and a list of contact information.

Book Review: The Mugger by Ed McBain

McBain's second novel in the 87th Precinct series delivers an alternate to the straight mystery that started the series, setting the tone that his novels would switch back and forth between, and gives the main mystery a bizarre and darkly humorous twist.
In this case, a mugger that courteously bows and thanks the women he abuses and victimizes ("Clifford thanks you, Madam.") is terrorizing the city, and the bulls of the 87th doing their best to stop him. The pressure already on them increases when one of Clifford's apparent victims turns up dead.
With Carella on a honeymoon in the Poconos with his new bride Teddy, Willis and Havilland team up to track down the notorious Clifford. They are assisted in the search with the introduction of bald jokester Meyer Meyer, the most patient man in the 87th. Also introduced is female detective Eileen Burke, who goes undercover as Clifford bait in a desperate attempt to trap the mugger.
At the same time, patrolman Bert Kling finds himself stepping out of bounds as he looks into the murder of an old friend's daughter, who just happens to be Clifford's homicide victim. His private investigation threatens to endanger his job, but also puts him in contact with the dead girls beautiful college friend, whom he falls for instantly.
The Mugger is one of McBain's less spectacular stories, by which I mean it is not the crimes themselves that keep you riveted, but the characters involved and the stories they tell. A good portion of the book is taken up by interrogation transcripts, but they give a deeper feeling to the city and its denizens rather than bog it down.

Reviwed by S. Michael Wilson

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Book Review: Hollywood's Hellfire Club: The Misadventures of John Barrymore, W.C. Fields, Errol Flynn and the "Bundy Drive Boys" by Gregory Mank

From the Publisher, Feral House:

"They made fans go crazy and censors apoplectic, spent fortunes faster than they made them, forged Rembrandts and hung them in major museums, went on trial for committing statutory rape with necrophiliac teenage girls, reinterpreted Hamlet as an incestuous mama’s boy, and swilled immeasurable quantities of spirits during week-long parties on wobbly yachts.

"They were “The Bundy Drive Boys” and they made the Rat Pack look like Cub Scouts.

"Their self-destructiveness was spectacular, the misanthropy profound, but behind the boozy bravado was a devoted mutuaal affection. The Bundy Drive Boys’ un-Bowdlerized stories have never been illustrated so well or told so completely as within Hollywood’s Hellfire Club.

"Includes remarkable material on Ben Hecht, Gene Fowler, Sadakichi Hartmann, John Decker, John Carradine, Thomas Mitchell, Roland Young, Anthony Quinn and Alan Mowbray.

"Gregory William Mank is also the author of It’s Alive!: The Classic Cinema Saga of Frankenstein, Women in Horror Films, and Hollywood Cauldron.

"Cover Illustration by Drew Friedman"


Greg Mank has left the haunted mansion of golden age horror film critiques and heads into Hollywood Babylon territory with his newest book; and what he finds would have Kenneth Anger gasping for breath. Mank, with his coauthors Charles Heard and Bill Nelson, tells the tale of the Bundy Drive Boys, a collective of fast living and hard drinking Hollywood actors, writers and artists--- all committed to their friendship and the right to destroy their careers, their families and themselves by any means necessary. Among the hell-raisers are John Barrymore, W.C. Fields, Errol Flynn, John Decker, William Fowler, John Carradine, Ben Hecht and Sadakichi Hartmann; and their stories of childhood tragedy, incest, rape, cannibalism (in a POW camp), drunken brawls, sexual conquests, and even an art forgery scam, will have your jaw hitting the floor. --- I read HOLLYWOOD HELLFIRE CLUB in one sitting. My morbid curiosity (wondering just how much worse can things get for the Bundy Drive boys) simply would not let me put this book down. If you are a fan of Hollywood's Golden Age... or the last person to leave the scene of a train wreck, this book will surely entertain and/or horrify you! ---Reviewed by Riley

Top Ten Fiction Books of 2007

10. The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver

9. Like You'd Understand, Anyway by Jim Shepard

8. Harry Poter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling

7. No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July

6. The House of Meetings by Martin Amis

5. Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson

4. Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson

3. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

2. Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris

1. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

Monday, December 17, 2007

Book Review: Behold A Pale Horse by William Cooper

Author Bill Cooper was killed some years ago during a shootout with police officers. The incident occurred after a high-speed pursuit while the heavily armed Cooper was in the process of helping a friend kidnapped his son from the court appointed guardian, his divorced wife and the child’s mother. He is gone, the militia movement he had founded has ceased… all that is left is Behold A Pale Horse.

Cooper’s Magnum opus (500 pages of paranoia and hate) is considered by UFO/Conspiracy theorists to be off the wall and totally bat shit! One of the theories Cooper purports is that JFK was assassinated because he had planned to tell the American people about the existents of Grey Aliens! Another one of his gems: the secret government created UFO and aliens to create a space religion to control the masses.

This book toboggans at the speed of light down the slippery slope of cracked-pot accretions about the AIDs virus, the New World Order plot, secret alien technology, and any other sinister plotting that would turn up in a rerun of The X-Files. 100% discredited in its assumptions but Behold A Pale Horse is never boring – especially when read as a document from an unbalanced individual. Once this book was only available through conspiracy mail order bookstores, now you can buy it on

Top Ten Nonfiction Books of 2007

1. The World Without Us by Alan Weisman

2. A Life of Picasso: The Triumphant Years, 1917-1932 by John Richardson

3. A long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beach

4. Legacy of Ashes: A history of the CIA by Tim Weiner

5. The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century by Alex Ross

6. Born Standing Up by Steve Martin

7. Animal, Vegetable, Miricle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver

8. The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court by Jeffrey Toobin

9. The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness by Elyn R. Saks

10. Here If You Need Me by Kate Braestrup

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Book News: CIA Director of Public Affairs Statement on New Book

CIA Director of Public Affairs Mark Mansfield issued the following statement today:

We generally don't comment on books, but we have departed from that on occasion, and have decided to do so in connection with Rowan Scarborough's new book, "Sabotage: America's Enemies Within the CIA."

CIA employees work very hard to protect their fellow citizens and to help keep America safe. They take great pride -- and take great risks -- in serving our country. They know that the intelligence they collect, analyze and deliver to policymakers, diplomats, law enforcement officers, and military commanders makes a difference, each and every day.

The premise of Mr. Scarborough's book -- that CIA employees are working to undermine our government -- is both ridiculous and offensive.

From the Inside Flap of Sabotage: America's Enemies Within the CIA

How Bush-hating CIA Bureaucrats Are Sabotaging the War on Terror

Since the attacks on September 11, 2001, intelligence collection has become the number-one weapon in the effort to defeat al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. A plot penetrated is an attack stopped. And to the outside observer, the CIA has performed well as a key partner in the Bush administration's War on Terror. But as Rowan Scarborough reveals in this groundbreaking new book, significant elements within the CIA are undermining both the president and national security through leaks, false allegations, and outright sabotage.

Using his first-rate sources in all levels of national security--from field officers to high-ranking analysts to former intelligence heads--Scarborough paints a disturbing picture of partisan politics endangering the success of our campaigns abroad and the very lives of our soldiers and agents.

Book Review: .357 Vigilante #2 - Make Them Pay, by Ian Ludlow

Make Them Pay is the first book in the series I've read, and I am now eagerly searching out the others, as this book definitely falls in the category of So Bad It's Good.

This short-lived series was apparently ghost written by Lee Goldberg and Lewis Perdue under the series pen name of Ian Ludlow. After lengthy consideration, I have come to the conclusion that this series was written completely tongue-in-cheek, and was meant to be a mockery of Vigilante Men's Action Series such as The Executioner and The Destroyer, with an obvious nod to the Death Wish/Dirty Harry influences as well. I base this theory on the fact that a) Both authors still make a living writing and would therefore hopefully have a better grasp of good and bad concepts, and b) There is no way that it should have taken two people to write this slim series of nonsensical scenes.

There is simply too much corniness to fully cover. Brett Macklin, our heroic vigilante, is a professional pilot with his own air charter company. His father was apparently killed in the first novel by some street hooligans, and since he wiped them out he's been itching to get back into the vengeance business. He's given the opportunity right away when he investigates a supposed child pornographer for the Chief of Police that condones vigilante justice, and in the process botches a tail bad enough to be identified. The next morning his beautiful nurse girlfriend, after a night of smothering each other's naked bodies with ice cream and screwing on the kitchen counter, is blown up in a car bomb meant for him.

But even with a newly dead loved one to seek vengeance over, Brett is still weary of becoming Judge, Jury, and Executioner. Two out of three isn't bad though, and he settles for having an outside party oversee his Vigilante Prosecution, the position of .357 Judge filled by a bitter ex-judge who now acts as the TV Host/Arbiter on a bizarre show that is a cross between People's Court and Let's Make a Deal. Having trivialized the concept of due process beyond comprehension, our favorite vigilante is now free to seek justice/vengeance without guilt or plot complication.

Even so, Macklin still manages to find time between getting his girlfriend killed and killing the bad guys to endanger the lives of other friends and loved ones, bed a hot reporter who is convinced that he is Mr. Jury (the press is apparently better at naming action novel series than the publishers themselves), and dispatch the numerous perpetrators of other crimes that happen to occur in his path.

The punchlines delivered by Mr. Jury whenever he exacts justice on a criminal are so over-the-top ludicrous, they are my ultimate proof that the entire series is a joke. Example: he notices an armed robbery taking progress in a convenience store, quickly grabs a steel level from the construction site next door, and just before caving in the criminal's skull delivers the line "You're unbalanced, buddy." I'm sorry, there is no way you can write that line without total contempt for the intended audience. And they get worse, trust me.

There is a moment near the end of the novel, as the evil child pornography producers are dragging our trussed up hero onto a mock dungeon set, when Brett Macklin looks around at the fake stone walls and mediocre reproduction of a torture rack and mutters "You have got to be kidding me." Brett, its like you read my mind.

Reviewed by S. Michael Wilson

Press Release:Mario Bava All the Colors of the Dark

"Tim Lucas has devoted himself to getting the word out about Bava's greatness," writes film director Martin Scorsese (Goodfellas, The Departed) in his Introduction to Mario Bava All the Colors of the Dark (Video Watchdog), "[and] this book is the pinnacle of his efforts."

Indeed, in this massive new critical biography -- the product of interviews with more than 100 colleagues, friends and family members, and 32 years in the making -- Lucas explores in unprecedented detail the life and legacy of one of the most original, influential, and secretive filmmakers of the 20th century.

Best known as the maestro of many aggressively cinematic, candy-colored Italian horror and fantasy films (Black Sunday, Black Sabbath, Danger: Diabolik), Mario Bava spent the first twenty years of his career as one of Italy's leading cinematographers, during which time he was helped to cultivate the screen personas of such actors as Aldo Fabrizi, Gina Lollobrigida, and Steve Reeves. He was literally present at the beginning of each new form of cinema native to his country, from operettas to neorealism to sword and sandal movies to Spaghetti Westerns. Most importantly, he was the principal visionary behind the Golden Age of Italian fantasy, which lasted from 1957 until his death in 1980.

Now, for the first time in any language, Lucas explores Bava's first two decades of cinematographic achievement, as well as his next two decades as a director whose work has been acknowledged as a major influence by such filmmakers as Scorsese, Tim Burton, Quentin Tarantino, Joe Dante, and Guillermo del Toro. In the course of his research, Lucas discovered that Bava often contributed uncredited direction, photography or special effects to the films of friends in need, and provides entire chapters of documentation elucidating this "Secret Filmography." Also included is the story of Mario's father and mentor Eugenio Bava, a silent film cameraman and the father of Italian special effects, who rose from contributing set decoration to Pathe Fr�res shorts to photographing Quo Vadis?, from creating special effects for Cabiria to an executive wartime position in Mussolini's film factory, the Istituto LUCE. The cumulative result is not just the story of "the supreme visual poet of the Italian gothic cinema" (The Penguin Encyclopedia of Horror), but a century-long family saga that occupies the first hundred years of Italian popular cinema -- a history not previously explored in English in such detail.

A staggering, 12-pound labor of love, interweaving biography, history and criticism, Mario Bava All the Colors of the Dark consists of 1128 pages of four-columned type (nearly 800,000 words!), fully illustrated with well over 1000 stills and annotated poster art from all over the world, most in full color and all subjected to a three-year process of meticulous digital restoration. Included are never-before-published family photos, documents, and drawings by Bava himself, and an eye-popping array of images that Bava fans never expected to see: a wealth of color shots taken on the set of the B&W classic Black Sunday, the only photos taken of Catherine Deneuve while briefly cast as the female lead in Danger: Diabolik, and dozens of pictures of the notoriously camera-shy director himself. The extensive appendices include filmographies for Mario and Eugenio Bava, international discography and videography, name and film title indexes, and a generous gallery of storyboard art by Bava, including his complete art for an unproduced 1970s project, Baby Kong. With an Introduction by Martin Scorsese and a Foreword by the late Italian director Riccardo Freda, Mario Bava All the Colors of the Dark marks an exciting new development in the fields of film-related biography and book-making. Simply to page through this remarkable tome, as overpoweringly visual as any of Bava's own films, is to feel like you're watching an epic film.

Mario Bava All the Colors of the Dark is available from Video Watchdog at!).

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Book Review: The Pusher by Ed McBain

The third book in the 87th Precinct series is a more standard entry into the police procedural genre. But at the same time, it manages to reach an emotional depth somewhat unusual for the time period.

The plot is pretty straight forward. A pair of patrolmen stumble upon a apparent junkie suicide. But sometimes things aren't as easy as they seem, and the suicide squeal quickly turns into a multiple homicide investigation that threatens to become blackmail when Lt. Byrnes son becomes linked to the drug scene. The bulls at the 87th are relegated mainly to the footwork, as most of the behind the scenes action involves Byrnes as he struggles with his son's involvement. Byrnes goes as far as to fill Carella in on the situation, a decision that almost proves to be fatal.

Apart from some of the dated aspects one would expect from a well-reserched police drama from the fifties, the bulk of the novel is your typical expose on the brutal world of the street level drug trade. But as usual, McBain delves into the emotional causes and ramifications of the Heroin users and dealers. The most revealing of these is the personal and professional termoil faced by Lt. Byrnes with the revelation that his son is a Heroin addict. Adding to the emotional doubt of where he has gone wrong with his son, and the constant battle between anger and compassion, is the dilemma of whether or not to cover up his son's possible involvement in a crime, especially when a mysterious third party with knowledge of his son's connection attempts to blackmail him for police protection.

McBain doesn't just focus on the 87th detectives. Glimpses into the lives of low key players in the drug scene shows the many facets of human frailty and desperation and prevents the broad generalizations that many crime dramas easily fall into. Even the closer look at Carella's relationship with stoolie Danny the Gimp is both touching and revealing. But to McBain's credit, none of this detailed attention to the human element detracts from the gritty realism that is typical of this series.

Reviewed by S. Michael Wilson

Book Review: Conspiracies, Cover-Ups & Crimes by Jonathan Vankin

There is a saying among conspiracies buffs: "Cui bono?" The term was coined by Roman Senators before the birth of Christ to analyze the complex schemes and duplicities of posturing politicians and generals of the Empire. "Cui bono?"--- Italian for, "Who benefits?"

The year is 1963. JFK is traveling in a motorcade in Dallas. The stage is set and the cast includes: the Vice President, anti\ pro Castro Cubans, the mob, a lone Marxist, ONI, G2, CIA, FBI, three hoboes, and a man with a black umbrella. Shots ring out-- the curtain drops.

Why was President Kennedy assassinated? Was it because he was soft on Communism, or maybe because of his opposition to the Vietnam War? Who benefits most from the death of the President?

Do you believe in UFOs? If so, do you believe that the extraterrestrials are superior to humans? Did they visit earth throughout the centuries and influence world history? Did they create our religions? Are we just an alien breeding experiment?

If you believe so, who benefits from your line of thought? Can unseen powers create the belief of an alien overseer in order to keep the population in line?

A terrorist plot to bomb a US airliner is discovered by CIA agents. After further investigation, the agents discover the time and target. After notifying their superior, they are ordered to do nothing to prevent the bombing. December 21, 1988. Pan Am flight 103 explodes over Lockerbie, Scotland. The incident fuels the rift between the Arab controlled Middle East and the West. Who benefited most from the bombing?

These are just a few examples of conspiracies covered in Mr. Vankins 's newest book, CONSPIRACIES, COVERUPS & CRIMES. Some other topics include: the truth about the Jonestown massacre, CIA drug deals, mind-controlled assassins, partnerships between the mob, big business and the Nazis, Votescam, presidential candidate Linden LaRouche, those men of mystery-the Free Masons, and much, much, more.

Who benefits from CONSPIRACIES, COVER-UPS & CRIMES? If you are curious about the shadowy goings-on in this big world of ours, the answer is ... you do!

Book Review: Operation Trojan Horse by John Keel

In May 1970, OPERATION TROJAN HORSE by John Keel was published by Putnam. While other authors of the day were trying to focus their attentions on UFO sightings in the skies, Keel alone widened his scope of investigation to include other unexplained phenomena in the American culture. Soon the others quickly began aping Keel's research.

"All over the world, hack writers sharpened their pencils, though, and stole from OTH as if the copyright laws did not exist. It became one of the most quoted and most plagiarized books in the field.", Keel wrote of his fellow colleagues.

So the question you might be asking yourself is: if this book is so important why didn't I hear of it? Well you can blame its rarity on Putnam publishing. In the early seventies the company decided to scale down it's UFO \ Occult division and focused more on adventure yarns and romance stories. So while Bantam was reprinting CHARIOTS OF THE GODS for the sixth time, OTH found it's way to the shelves of used book stores quickly to be snatched up by serious UFO researchers.

So what makes Keel's book so interesting? If I must sum it up to one thing it must be Keel's radical approach to viewing the unexplained such as UFOs, poltergeists, angels, and lake monsters as ultradimensional rather than extraterrestrial in origin. In other words, they're not from outer space but exist all around us - vibrating at different frequencies. And sometimes they cross over, or become part of our dimension.

Sometimes these occurrences became explained by the culture at the time as supernatural in origin. Here's an example: "Demonology is not just another crackpot-ology ... The manifestations and occurrences described in this imposing literature are similar, if not entirely identical, to the UFO phenomenon itself. Victims of demonomania (possession) suffer the very same medical and emotional symptoms as the UFO contactee." Keel also makes the same case for flying wheels and angels in the bible, voodoo, spiritualism, hauntings, and the occasional visit from a "man in black".

I would be remiss in my responsibilities as a book reviewer to insist that a UFO/Paranormal researcher should purchase a copy of John Keel's OPERATION TROJAN HORSE. The truth is that you should buy three copies; one for your personal library, the second to highlight, and the third to keep for the ages!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Book Review: Black Helicopters II: The End Game Strategy

Black armored insectiods descend in swarms … Some are fitted with antennae and metal eyes for surveillance, while others bristle with weaponry, ready to transform an American neighborhood into a surrogate hell in a second. Around the country these dark marauders swarm the sky, ordinary citizens wonder if they are the harbingers of the end.

Is this the opening scene of a sci-fi flick? No. The insectoids are not giant alien bugs, but black helicopters. Is this a depiction of a possible future? No, they are here now!

Or so claims author Jim Keith in BLACK HELICOPTERS II: THE END GAME STRATEGY, a book that purports to reveal every frightening details of a vast government conspiracy. You may have read his first book on the phenomena, BLACK HELICOPTERS OVER AMERICA, but then he was not able to tell his whole story --- a story that will keep you up at night, perhaps, peering into the horizon.

It is Mr. Keith’s assertion that black helicopters are linked to everything from cattle mutilations to alien abductions and the Men In Black; and poses the questions that will be having all patriotic American reaching for their firearm, but wondering who to aim it at:

Just how are these helicopters involved in these strange occurrences?
Why are they photographing the home of ordinary citizens?
What is there relationship to the New World Order?
Are foreign troops already masses on our boards?
And is the media’s role in covering up this conspiracy?

Whether you believe in this conspiracy or not, this book is intelligently written and an interesting look at a more informed/paranoid segment of our society.

Reviewed by Cris Kollet

Book Review: 100 Bullets Volume 1 - First Shot, Last Call

100 Bullets is an ambitious crime drama comic series, of which this graphic novel reprints the first five issues.

These first two story lines, "100 Bullets" and "Shot, Water Back", set up the premise the series is built upon. Individuals from all walks of live are approached by a mysterious man bearing an unusual gift; a suitcase containing a gun, one hundred untraceable bullets, and evidence pointing them to someone who has wronged them in the past.

But the offer of unpunished retribution is far from simple than it sounds, as the people suddenly faced with this blank check for revenge suddenly find themselves dealing with the concepts of Justice, Innocence, Morality, Loyalty, and Retribution.

Azzarello not only brings these philosophical dilemmas into the light, but also enhances them with mystery surrounding 'Agent Graves' and his offer. A chance at vengeance is a tempting offer, but what are the ulterior motives of the man with the briefcase? Does the chance to settle a score outweigh the risk of being used as a weapon for someone else's battle? What is truly at stake here, and who is really pulling the strings?

The first two story lines in 100 Bullets take us from crooked cops and greedy gang bangers in the urban jungles, to internet crimes and corporate power brokers. The stories and situations are modern, yet there is an undeniable Noir tone throughout, an unrelenting mood that never lets you forget that, despite the occasional moments of brightness and levity, there are no happy endings when violence and vengeance become a part of the background.

Reviewed by S. Michael Wilson

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Book Review: Hellcats, Vixens & Vice Dolls edited by David Jacobs

Violence and heartache on display on lurid detective magazine covers at the candy and cigar shops. Exploitation disguised as news designed to entertain and titillate the atomic generation with the exploits of axe murderesses, high-class call-girls and sex-crazed dope fiends. It worked then and it works now.

Hellcats, Vixens & Vice Dolls is a white-hot compilation of vicious retro crimes committed by the fairer sex so vivid in their detail of blood and perversion that they will leave the reader with the sensation of being worked over by a girl gang armed with a sack of nickels.

The no-nonsense, just the facts approach to this book reminded me of a spinning newspaper headline from a B&W crime movie or a radio announcer who interrupts the broadcast with news of a brutal crime. Because of it’s retro-reporting the vibe is pure noir with all the trappings, desperation and pathos of a sex-slay at Lovers Lane. Fetish and crime collide!

The man responsible for this ample lineup of doped-up and desperate dames is David Jacobs, true crime author from the popular Court TV paperback book series, and among the 50 true crime tales he selected are: Bloody Barbara, She Sawed Off His Head, The Sex Party Racket, and One Thousand Thugs and a Girl, She-Devil Running Wild, I’ll See You in Hell!, and Gateway to White Slavery.

If you are a true crime reader who likes your stiffs cold and your babes hot, be on the lookout for Hellcats, Vixens & Vice Dolls!

Book Signing

Bill Cosby to sign Come On People! on 12/19/07, 7:00 PM at Barnes & Noble – Lincoln Center, NY.

About the book:

Bill Cosby and Alvin F. Poussaint have a powerful message for families and communities as they lay out their visions for strengthening America, or for that matter the world. They address the crises of people who are stuck because of feelings of low self-esteem, abandonment, anger, fearfulness, sadness, and feelings of being used, undefended and unprotected. These feelings often impede their ability to move forward. The authors aim to help empower people make the daunting transition from victims to victors. Come On, People! is always engaging, and loaded with heart-piercing stories of the problems facing many communities.

Book Review: The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout

These days, with the abundance of books, movies, and television programs available on demand for instant entertainment, our knowledge tends to be informed by popular culture. Because of this, our intake of the dramatic simplification of most topics is outweighed drastically by factual representation.

With this in mind, it is no wonder that most of us envision dangerous people as wild-eyed lunatics noticeable a mile way, disheveled madmen that are encountered far and few between. As Martha Stout demonstrates in The Sociopath Next Door, there are people capable of unimaginable atrocities all around us, and not only do they appear like everyone else, but they might even be less conspicuous than one would hope.

If Good and Evil are opposites of the same coin, and Good people are those who care and feel for others, then it stands to reason that evil exists as people lacking the ability to care or love. These people exist, cold and calculating sociopaths unfettered by the restrictions of guilt or conscious, and they do so in alarming numbers reaching epidemic proportions. 4% of the US population are afflicted with Sociopathic Personalities, far greater than those afflicted with cancer. Meaning one out of every twenty-five people you meet feel no remorse or regret, and are capable of anything.

Martha Stout's book strikes an elegant balance between clinical facts and anecdotal examples, making this book an easy read that manages not to come off as either a fluffy fear-mongering diatribe or a stuffy jargon-laden medical tome. The examples created from personal case studies perfectly illustrate the points of each chapter, but don't detract from the factual or philosophical topics discussed. Despite chapters warning of the realities of the sociopaths among us, such as their alarming ability to blend in and even charm us into their confidence, her tone never reaches an alarmist level. This is a book that informs and prepares, without instilling false hope or blind panic in its audience. Also, while this topic is heavy with emotion, Stout never descends into supermarket tabloid prose. Apart from a slight detour into 9/11, which almost has no bearing on the topic at hand, the examination of the origins and ramifications of the human conscious remain informative and exploratory without becoming preachy. Especially interesting is the chapter that delves into the nature vs. nurture debate, in which she examines the genetic, environmental, and cultural influences that can help create or subdue a growing child's sociopathic tendencies.

If you have ever witnessed someone behaving extraordinarily ruthlessly or cruelly, and have wondered how someone could even bring themselves to act in such a manner, this book will go a long way towards satisfying your curiosity.

Reviewed by S. Michael Wilson

Book Review: 1984 by George Orwell

"He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past."

My definition of a truly classic novel is one that is so talked about and referenced that you can know all about the book and it's message without having ever actually read it. 1984 is one of the most glaring examples of this, as terms such as "Big Brother" and "Doublespeak" are now mainstream concepts that no longer require explanation.

The book itself gained its popularity, however, by successfully reaching a broad audience through exaggerating and reducing the complicated debate of the illusion of free will and freedom of thought in any kind of government structure that strives to control and manipulate the populace for its own benefit in an almost unbelievable science fiction setting. The extremes that are reached in 1984 may seem only possible in a work of fiction (or, as the work is seldom referred to these days, Science Fiction), yet there is a truth beneath the pulp novel trappings that most readers can not avoid recognizing.

For those who have already read this, I have a suggestion. Read 1984 again, only assume that the book actually takes place in our modern times, and that the narrator is a paranoid schizophrenic.

Reviewed by S. Michael Wilson