Saturday, December 23, 2006


Well, I got a cruddy little lump of coal in my stocking a couple days ago. I finally heard back from "Strange Horizons" concerning "The Eternal Movie." DENIED!

One of my real strengths as a writer is my thick skin and high tolerance for rejection, a talent honed while trying to get a date in high school. Still, this one stung. I felt good about the story, and I really worked hard on it. Plus, we really could have used the money. And, lastly, it's freakin' Christmas! I mean, come on! My birthday's only a couple weeks away. Couldn't they have waited to crush my spirit until then?

Another frowny face- they sent me a generic form rejection e-mail. That sucks. This also reminds me of high school. I liked it better when the girls told me exactly what they found unattractive about me. I used to hand out little "feedback" cards like you find in restaurants. Gave me something to work on. The icy "Uh, no thanks," just rubs me raw.

Oh, well. It's like Lea said: "You can't win them all." To which I of course replied: "Yeah, but I can't win ANY of them!"

Thus ends my pity party. (Jeez, a party would have been nice.)

I am soldiering on. Just started work on a new screenplay, about a female rock star/ actress who uses black magic to become famous. I changed all the names, though, so Courtney Love won't put a hex on me. (Or maybe she already did. I knew sending her locks of my hair was a bad idea.)

For the past six months or so, I have been cycling through all of my 20+ active projects, doing a little work on each one. I am nearly at the end of this rotation, and from there I will knuckle down and actually (gasp) finish "The Black Monkey." Here's to happy writing in 2007!

I hope this blog finds you and yours happy, healthy and in good holiday spirits. May Santa Claus bring you everything you want, and may the Scrooges, Grinches and on-line sci-fi magazine editors pass you by.

Happy X-Mas, War is Over (if you want it.)
Love, Christian

Monday, December 11, 2006


That sounds dirty, doesn't it?

First off, I want to tell y'all about yet another piece of flash fiction I've posted, over at DZ Allen's "Muzzle Flash," a new pulp/ noir flash fiction page. My entry's entitled "Honey," and in keeping in the "pulp" spirit, it's a nasty piece of work. (As much violence as I could pack in 300 words or so.) It's also a stab at a "juxtaposition of horror and beauty," which is the best description I've heard of David Lynch's unique appeal. Not that this piece is particularly Lynchian (Lynchesque?) As always, I'd love for everybody to check it out and post all kinds of flattering comments.

I still haven't heard back from "Strange Horizons" about my sci-fi story, which is causing some anxiety. Their submissions page said they usually respond one way or the other after an average of 30 days. It has been 32. Not that I'm counting. Rejection I can handle, it's waiting for it that drives me crazy. Still, I persist in having high hopes. My first "real" publication would be one sweet Christmas present, let me tell you.

I had attempted to post an entry here a few days ago; a long, rambling history of the evolution of my filmgoing tastes. I started with seeing "King Kong" on TV when I was 4 or 5, and went all the way through my adolescence. Fortunately or un-, Blogger chose to swallow everything I had written. (It was probably my fault- I have a tendency to click when I oughtta clack.) I didn't have the heart to recreate the whole thing (sparing you the task of reading it,) but writing all that out did bring up one memory I would like to share.

There was a brief period back in the 1980's, after the advent of 24-hour cable channels, but before late night TV was completely overrun with infomercials. It was actually possible to see interesting things on TV late at night. I know, it's hard to believe now, but trust me on this one. I was a teenage insomniac with no social life, so I was in the right place at the right time to bear witness to this anomoly.

I had two favorites. The first was Cinemax's "Friday After Dark" offerings, which included such classics as "Young Lady Chatterly" and the "Emmanuelle" series. I won't go into any further detail except to say I always watched them with the sound turned WAAAY down.

My other favorite was the USA Network's Friday and Saturday overnight programming block, which they called "Night Flight." "Night Flight" showed all kinds of crazy stuff. Music videos, short films, full-length movies; all of it culty or fringy in nature. I've read fond internet reminiscences of people who recall coming home stoned from parties and stumbling upon some bizarre thing which fit very well in that frame of mind. I didn't do drugs back then (or go to parties for that matter,) but some of the "Night Flight" stuff could produce a contact high all by itself. Old silent movies dubbed over with Pink Floyd music. Black and white Looney Tunes and Betty Boop cartoons, including one where Porky Pig bashes his thumb with a hammer and actually says "son of a bitch." (I swear.) Many other truly strange and beautiful things.

But what influenced me most was an hour-long special on cult movies aired on "Night Flight," circa 1984. Prior to seeing this, I didn't even know most of these movies existed. They showed clips from: "Rocky Horror Picture Show," "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," John Water's "Poleyester," "Repo Man," ("the more you drive, the less intelligent you are,") "Forbidden Zone," (featuring Herve' [da plane] Villechaize as 'the horny midget king of the 6th dimension,') "Liquid Sky," (easily the best nihilistic no-wave aliens-seeking-heroin sci-fi movie of all time,) Fritz Lang's "Metropolis," "Reefer Madness," Jim Jarmusch's "Stranger Than Paradise," the films of Paul Bartel and Firesign Theater, "I Was a Zombie for the FBI," and many others.

Most significantly, this program introduced me to David Lynch's "Eraserhead," showing the nightmare comedy scene where the miniature chickens start oozing blood. The tagline, "If any movie can cause permanent brain damage, that movie would be Eraserhead," was irresistable to me.

I taped the special (on the family's trusty Sony Betamax, of course,) and watched it obsessively. Over the next few years, I made it my mission to watch every movie featured on the special. Some of them were hard to track down, but I eventually saw them all. I still have an affinity for bizarre cinema, and this is where it came from. One hour of television over twenty years ago impacted my filmgoing habits more than any other single influence. (Possible runner-up would be Fangoria magazine.)

After blogger ate my original post where I talked about not only "Night Flight," but every other influence, I told Lea about "Night Flight." God bless this woman. She immediately hopped on e-Bay, typed in "Night Flight," and found someone selling 12 hours of the show, transferred from old tapes onto DVD. (You really CAN find anything on e-Bay.) She won the bid, and that's going to be one of my Christmas presents. I love Love LOVE my wife.
Now if I can just get her to buy me "Young Lady Chatterly."

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Let's just start out with an apology. OK, I am very sorry for the lapse in taste and judgement which led me to dwell on Britney Spear's (lack of) panties. I don't know what I was thinking. I hereby promise that I will never again sully the otherwise unbesmirched reputation of this forum with anything so base as a discussion of celebrity panties, or celebrities without panties. Unless it's Courtney Love. In fact, I hereby and furthermore shall not ever use the words "panty," "panties," "panty-less," "crotch," "commando," or "up-skirt" again. I swear.

Let's move on.

Before the unfortunate detour, I had wanted to discuss movies. This was prompted by my moving from work on a screenplay entitled "Logan County Lazarus," to getting a fresh start on my long-stalled horror/comedy novel "Midnight at the Heaven," which is set in a haunted movie theater. This just weeks after the completion of my science-fiction story "The Eternal Movie" (still no word from the publisher on that, by the way,) set in a cinema which has been launched into space. It seems that if I'm not writing a movie recently, I'm writing ABOUT movies. So what gives?

It's always been an obsession of mine. I love movies. More than that, I love going to the movies. (Haven't been able to do that much recently.) There's just something about sitting in a large dark room with dozens of strangers, looking up at a massive glittering screen. Going to the movies is one of the most prevelant themes of my dreams. I'm not sure if I love these dreams because they remind me of going to the movies, or if I love going to the movies because it seems so dreamlike.

I think it factors so heavily in my writing because, at heart, I really want to be a filmmaker. In my head, the stories are already movies. I SEE them, as images, rather than hearing the words. (Which may be part of the problem with my strangled prose style.) However, there are several factors which keep me in front of a keyboard rather than behind a camera:

1) MONEY. Making a movie, even a "low-budget" one, costs millions of dollars. I don't have millions of dollars. The people who do have millions of dollars aren't so inclined to give their money to people like me. In contrast, writing a novel costs nothing but time. Time I have.

2) I DON'T WORK WELL WITH OTHERS. I do enjoy collaborative processes. My work with Coyote Radio Theater has been very rewarding. Andrew Johnson-Schmit and I have worked together on several projects, and I've always enjoyed that process as well. But I don't know that I would enjoy putting all the blood, sweat and tears into something like writing a film, only to see my vision diluted. In a novel, the author is the undisputed God. In a movie, the screenwriter is, at best, a minor deity. Even the actors are higher in the pantheon. The director of a film is widely considered to be its "author," even if he didn't write the script. Then there are the producers, the studio, the money people, the focus groups, etcetera, etcetera.

3) FREEDOM. Most of my novels, if filmed "as is," would be 12 hours long, X-rated, budgeted at a billion dollars, and would have almost no mass-market appeal. There are many fewer restrictions concerning length and content placed upon a novelist. Plus, novels have the advantage of being able to describe "internal action," to get into the heads of the characters in ways that movies can't do without cumbersome voice-over narration.


5) BOOKS ARE BETTER ANYWAY, RIGHT? Uh, well, sort of. While this holds true with very few exceptions for novels adapted into movies, it's really like comparing apples and oranges. Reading and watching are entirely different experiences. Movies have an advantage of being more direct. The imagining has been done for you. I just watched "United 93," the movie about the 9/11 flight in which the hijackers were overcome by the passengers, and I was RIVETED, experiencing the story in a visceral, emotional way which I've never received from a book.

Anyway, I keep writing screenplays. While I have yet to finish a novel, I have actually completed several scripts. They range from the God-awful ("The Electron Kid") to the actually-not-half-bad ("Night of the Unicorn" would make a great cheesy horror movie.) And I have several more in the works. So why do I torture myself? The movie business is much harder for a writer to break into than getting a novel published (or so I gather.)

But, dammit, I want to SEE my visions on the screen. I want to hear actors speak my dialogue. I want to burrow into people's heads with images that they can't skim over. I want to, in the words of the Soul Coughing song "Screenwriter's Blues," "see my name five feet high and luminous."

I'm not asking much, am I?

Next time I'll talk about the movies which have directly informed my writing. Until then, the balcony is closed. (Bonus points to anyone who remembers what that line is from.)