Tag Archives: books

2013: The Parting Glass

Now that 2013 is officially in the rearview, I’m not as hung over as I expected to be, but I’ve long known I’m a social drinker and when the party is small, so are my drinks. The party last night was just that—small—and in a way, quite reflective of the year I’ve had.

I don’t know if that’s necessarily a bad thing.

At any rate, I know a lot of my fellow writers are doing a “this is what I did with my writing” or a “this is what I’m going to do with my writing” post for the New Year and this is kind of like that, sort of, in a weird way.

What do you mean by weird, Chris?

Well, in 2013 I didn’t do shit all in regards to my writing. Oh, I wrote things; I just didn’t publish them. I went to some conventions and sold a few copies of my first novel, Necromancer, and met some cool folks out on the road. The awesome Nelson W. Pyles podcasted a few of my short and flash fiction pieces on The Wicked Library, but that was the extent of where my writing went the last 12 months.

Halfway through the year I freaked out about this. Of course, by the time June/July came around, I’d only subbed one piece (which ended up shortlisted and ultimately rejected). After the PMPress Writer’s Retreat at the end of July, I subbed two more pieces, and then another near the end of August. All three were (obviously) rejected by the respective editors. Looking back now, at the start of the new year, I’m more like fuck it. It is what it is. I did write, I just didn’t publish, and it’s about the former, not the latter.

One thing that I did do was get back into reading novels. Before some of you have a conniption over a writer “not reading,” let me explain: for the past several years, I’d read almost exclusively short fiction as the editor for Title Goes Here: and it was awesome; I was able to read and publish writers like Alison Littlewood, Paul Anderson, and Alexis A. Hunter. But it didn’t leave much time for novel reading. Sure, I’d squeeze in a couple here and there (and those were familiar books I’d read before), but not like I used to read. This year, I’m happy to say I put to rest 32 books over the last 12 months. The only book I attempted to read and didn’t finish was The Talisman by King and Straub. Sad to say this is like my third time trying, though I did make it further than any other attempt.

I will finish that book this year.

But, here’s the list of books I did read. You know, for the curious.

01)  Back Roads & Frontal Lobes by Brady Allen – 5/5
02)  They Thirst by Robert McCammon – 5/5
03)  Lucky Man by Michael J Fox – 3/5
04)  Phantoms by Dean Koontz – 4/5
05)  The Talisman by Stephen King & Peter Straub –
06)  Throttle by Stephen King & Joe Hill – 3/5
07)  Quarantined by Joe McKinney – 3/5
08)  The Hunt by Joseph Williams – 4/5
09)  The Rising by Brian Keene – 2/5
10)  Coraline by Neil Gaiman – 3/5
11)  Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill – 4/5
12)  Pavlov’s Dogs by D.L. Snell & Thom Brannan – 3/5
13)  Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock by Sammy Hagar – 3/5
14)  (dis)Comfort Food by Brad Carter – 5/5
15)  Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist – 4/5
16)  Demons, Dolls, and Milkshakes by Nelson W. Pyles – 5/5
17)  A Trail in Blood by J. David Anderson – 5/5
18)  Losing Touch by Christian A. Larsen – 5/5
19)  Draculas by Crouch, Kilborn, Strand, Wilson – 3/5
20)  Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – 4/5
21)  War of the Worlds by HG Wells – 2/5
22)  Brave New World by Aldous Huxley – 4/5
23)  1984 by George Orwell – 4/5
24)  Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – 4/5
25)  I, Robot by Isaac Asimov – 3/5
26)  Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein – 3/5
27)  Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick – 3/5
28)  Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – 4/5
29)  The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin – 3/5
30)  Children of Men by PD James – 3/5
31)  Wolf Hunt by Jeff Strand – 3/5
32)  The Hand of God by Tony Acree – 4/5
33)  The Wolf’s Moon by Patrick Jones – 2/5

I started building a reading list for this year a couple weeks ago, which includes several old King books I haven’t read in a decade or so, plus some other things I found on the bookshelves here I hadn’t read. I also received four Jonathan Maberry books for Christmas. They’re on the list, too. I can’t even speak to the number of books I have on my Kindle. I’ll read some of those, too.

I watched many movies in 2013. I can’t say I’m completely proud of this, but it’s a fact, and I do love movies. The number I watched is about double the number of books I read, but this list does include the few movies I saw at the theater and Netflix movies. Here’s that list, too, for the curious folk.

01)  Diary of a Nymphomaniac – 4/5
02)  Apartment 143 – 3/5
03)  Sector 7 – 3/5 (Korean, subtitled)
04)  Trollhunter – 4/5 (Norwegian, subtitled)
05)  The Tall Man – 3/5
06)  Dead Season – 2/5
07)  In the Spider’s Web – 1/5
08)  Good Neighbours – 3/5
09)  The Rig – 2/5
10)  The Lost Tribe – 1/5
11)  Airborne – 3/5
12)  The Innkeepers – 3/5
13)  The Devil Inside – 2/5
14)  Black Death – 3/5
15)  Cashback – 3/5
16)  Dungeons & Dragons: The Book of Vile Darkness – 2/5
17)  Intruders – 3/5
18)  Rango – 3/5
19)  The Day – 2/5
20)  Dead Snow -3/5 (Norwegian, subtitled)
21)  Chernobyl Diaries – 2/5
22)  The Thirst: Blood War – 2/5
23)  Red: Werewolf Hunter -2/5
24)  Cleopatra’s Second Husband – 2/5
25)  Pontypool – 4/5
26)  Total Recall (2012) – 3/5
27)  Jack the Giant Slayer – 3/5
28)  Evil Dead (2013) – 4/5
29)  Byzantium – 3/5
30)  The Lords of Salem – 3/5
31)  Battleship – 2/5
32)  Chronicle -2/5
33)  TMNT (2007, animated) – 3/5
34)  Behind the Candelabra – 4/5
35)  Extinction: The G.M.O. Chronicles – 2/5
36)  The Last Stand – 3/5
37)  Sanctum – 2/5
38)  Hanna – 2/5
39)  Cowboys vs. Aliens – 2/5
40)  Darkwolf – 1/5
41)  Wrath of the Titans – 2/5
42)  Trip to the Moon (1902) – 3/5
43)  The Great Train Robbery (1903) – 3/5
44)  World War Z – 3/5
45)  Frankenstein (1931) – 3/5
46)  The Public Enemy (1931) – 3/5
47)  This is the End – 3/5
48)  The Heat – 3/5
49)  Rear Window – 4/5
50)  His Girl Friday – 3/5
51)  Storage 24 – 2/5
52)  The Frankenstein Theory – 2/5
53)  Oklahoma! – 2/5
54)  Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) – 4/5
55)  Pacific Rim – 2/5
56)  The Wicker Tree – 2/5
57)  Spiders – 2/5
58)  The Conjuring – 3/5
59)  State of Emergency – 3/5
60)  Compliance – 4/5
61)  Shame – 4/5
62)  R.I.P.D. – 3/5
63)  Dredd – 3/5
64)  Infected – 2/5
65)  Stevie – 3/5
66)  Fatso (Norwegian, subtitled) – 4/5
67)  Battledogs – 2/5
68)  Apollo 18 – 3/5
69)  John Dies at the End – 4/5
70)  War of the Dead – 2/5
71)  War of the Worlds (1953) – 2/5
72)  The Sessions – 4/5
73)  Frankenstein (2005) – 3/5
74)  Mimic – 3/5
75)  Children of Men – 4/5
76)  Paranormal Activity 4 – 2/5
77)  The Possession – 2/5
78) War of the Worlds (2005) – 3/5

For the extra curious, you can read my post on how I derive my ratings here. If you don’t care, don’t click.

Overall, 2013 was a decent year for me and I’m happy in the growth I made as a writer. Personally, it was up and down. Probably the best part was finding out that grandfatherhood (BAM! just made up that word) here in a few months (March), while the worst part was fighting against depression and lethargy. I’m used to these spells just not for this long.

Funny truth…

On 12/31, before the drinking started, I did this Facebook “mental age test” and answered the questions honestly (c’mon, you know you fudge those fucking quiz answers to skew the results to whatever you think they should be) and my mental age was 16. Those of you who know me are aware I’m on the far side of 16 x 2. I don’t feel 16; I certainly don’t act 16 (though my wife may disagree with that). I believe it’s a sign I still hold a somewhat romantic and optimistic view of life and people, while masticating the shit sandwich I have every day for lunch.

Strangely, though, I’m okay with that.

Good night and joy be with you all.

Hello, 2014.

Opinion: Fun little viral list thing… thanks, Chris Larsen…

I got tagged. Yep, Chris Larsen got me, so here we go.

It’s a bit different from most others, and I like it, so I’m going to do it. It’s all about the ten books that stayed with you. Ten books? I have a few more than that, but I can easily give ten that shaped what I love to read and write.

Here they are, in no particular order, the ten books that have stayed with me over the years:

1)    The Tomb by F. Paul Wilson
2)    Watchers by Dean Koontz
3)    Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
4)    The Beasts of Valhalla by George C. Chesbro
5)    Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
6)    I am Legend by Richard Matheson
7)    The Seduction of Peter S. by Lawrence Sanders
8)    They Thirst by Robert R. McCammon
9)    The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
10) The Stand by Stephen King

The hardest one was the King novel. So much of his early work was crucial to me as a young(er) reader, and honestly, his short stories impacted me more than any of the novels. Uncle Stevie can write a bitchin’ fuckin’ short story, man.

Now it’s my turn to tag some peoples, so if someone has tagged you already, no need to do it again. If you haven’t been tagged, have fun!

Here we go… my man Nelson Pyles, Alexis A. Hunter, G. Elmer Munson, and the awesome Kenneth Cain.

Opinion: Evil Dead, Remakes, and Adaptations

I’ve been called a purist—you know, one of those people who think movie remakes, by and large, should never happen and that most book to movie adaptations are for shit. Examples of each of these are abundant.

Bad movie remakes, just to name a few:

  1. Fright Night
  2. I Spit on Your Grave
  3. Arthur
  4. The Bad News Bears

Book to movie shithouses are even more common:

  1. I am Legend*
  2. Harry Potter 3-7
  3. Thor (movie title is Bad Moon)
  4. The Relic
  5. Conan the Barbarian (new)*

I can go on and on and on. I’m sure you have some you can add to the list as well. Feel free.

The asterisks above mean that at least these books had decent movies made based on the source material. Matheson’s seminal vampire work was adapted to “The Last Man on Earth” with Vincent Price, which is a great movie. And the original “Conan the Barbarian” with Governor Schwarzenegger was also a decent adaptation. While both movies altered the source material some, they still stayed true to the characters and the themes that were prevalent in the literature they were based on. But these are certainly the exception to the rule and the rule is that adaptations fucking suck.

So, let’s get to the actual title of the post, which concerns the Evil Dead remake that hits theatres in a little more than ten days. I’m worried, people. Really, really worried.

I know there’s a camp out there who thinks it’s stupid to worry about the whole remake thing. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it, etc. and yeah, I get that, but when it comes to movies like Fright Night, the original Elm Street, and Evil Dead, I can’t. These movies helped shape me as a writer. It wasn’t all books and stories and plays, you know. I grew up in this blossoming visual world and I’m not afraid to admit it. When I was fifteen, I hadn’t read Hemingway or Vonnegut or Faulkner, or Fitzgerald. I’ve read them all now and their work is, frankly, amazing, but back then they weren’t what lit my fire. It was the movies and works by Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Robert McCammon, and F. Paul Wilson (among others) that did it.

You just can’t up and change (or, as these people call it “reimagining”) something as influential as genre-defining movies and books. They are classified as such for a reason. So when some Hollywood studio greenlights a remake of something that impressed the shit out of me twenty years ago, it’s like telling me my parents really aren’t my parents, that they were free-range hippies back in my youth and now, with some reimagined medication, we have a new version of your mom and dad. Hope you like them, hope they do the same things for you as the hippies did, and good luck, Chris, because we all know they’re not going to cut it.

You can’t give me the whole “new generation” excuse, either. The new generation can go watch the old fucking movies. The stories are generally better, the acting is most certainly superior, and the only thing improved (and keep in mind this isn’t always the case) are the special effects. And let’s face it, if your movie relies on special effects to be scary or pertinent, you don’t have a good movie, and updating the FX is not going to change that.

All that being said, I will still go plop down my $9.00 to go see Evil Dead when it releases. This after missing The Hobbit, the new Die Hard, and other movies at the theatre, I will not miss Evil Dead. Why? Because it’s horror. Because it’s special. Because it’s the Evil Dead. It’s the same reason why I shelled out the money to see Will Smith’s version of “I am Legend” at the theatres, and the remakes of both “Friday the 13th” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” To say I was disappointed in all of those would be an understatement. I’ll take the originals, thank you very much. Every time.

But, it’s also why—if they ever get made—I’ll spend my money on the remakes of “An American Werewolf in London,” “The Crow,” and “Escape from New York.” And yes, I’ve read articles about remakes on all of these projects, so I’m not just blowing smoke out my ass. Whether or not they ever come to production remains to be seen, and really, I hope not. Hell, they’re even planning on remaking “Westworld” with fucking Russell Crowe. Yul Brynner and Michael Crichton are probably rolling over in their graves.

So what’s your take on remakes and adaptations in general?