Thursday, December 10, 2015

Since When?

A Challenge for Peace

by 

Paul Petersen


Paul Petersen
Can be Reached on Facebook



Biography:

Paul Petersen first rose to prominence in the 1950s playing Jeff Stone on The Donna Reed Show, and transitioned to a singing career in the 1960s. In the early 1980s, he had a recurring role as a police officer on Matt Houston, and in the late 1990s, he played the author Paul Conway in the film, Mommy's Day.

In 1990, Petersen established the organization A Minor Consideration to support child stars and other child laborers through legislation, family education, and personal intervention and counseling for those in crisis (Wiki).


The Essay: (Reprinted from Paul Petersen's Facebook timeline). 

Since When?
I warned you I would get serious. When did good manners disappear? When did politics become a blood sport?

When did political disagreements become a death sentence in America? Are the shrill voices of imperfect human political views actually listening to God’s voice when they condemn others? What is the nature of their God that excuses murder at the point of a sword, or dismisses sincere dissent as a capital offense? Is there in human affairs such a thing as an Unchallengeable Truth?
Since when?

Since when did religious or political differences become an excuse for hatred? Simply put, what makes anyone’s beliefs more righteous than someone else that shares the same Earth and lives with the same set of facts? Is anyone so Right that they can hate, condemn or kill in the name of opinions?
Since when?

I see the world through the prism of the welfare of the Child, period. America’s Founders lived in the real world. They knew absolutely the dangers of a religious theocracy, of kingship, of slavery and indentured servitude. They experienced first-hand bigotry and intolerance. They knew the risks of unfettered Power. In each case they endeavored to prevent the dominance of an unchallenged power.

Politics is a messy enterprise. Accommodating differing viewpoints is a challenge…unless you agree to agree on fundamental values…and that’s what’s missing in the world today. What is best for children? Native Americans, I believe, had it exactly right when they asked that all beliefs and decisions be framed by the consequences of those beliefs “…down to the 7th generation.”

Where in the world are children better off than America? It’s a simple question. Look around. We are all faced with imperfect choices. We are human and prone to error…because we’re human beings, emphatically not perfect. If your political and religious beliefs lead to the detriment of children “down to the 7th generation” you are my political opponent, but not my enemy.

If you believe I am your enemy when I try to help children based on my personal beliefs does that mean you have the right to hate me, muzzle me, banish me, or kill me? This is America. Show me the evidence that you know a better way. We all know the reality for children in countries that adhere to Sharia Law. We all know where slavery is supported by theocratic rule. Tell me again how much better it is for children when dominant quasi-religious beliefs masquerading as politics are the rule.

What do you believe is best for children? Central governmental authority? Religious doctrine? A dictatorship? There is plenty of blame to go around my friends. In the meantime, someone has to clean up the messes made by intolerant adults.

That’s been the way of humankind since forever.

Paul Petersen
12-10-15

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Zombies at the Saban Theater Beverly Hills
Reviewed by Anthony Servante




Introduction

The GPS that took us from Chino Hills to Beverly Hills was full of crap. But I shut up and listened as the GPS voice directed us to the 101 Freeway to reach Wilshire Blvd, about six miles short of the Saban Theater, where The Zombies were playing. I would have taken the 10 Freeway to La Cienega Blvd and turned onto Wilshire, a few blocks from the venue. But the GPS was right in one regard: we arrived at 7:58 pm, one hour before the starting time for the concert. Plenty of time to find parking and huff and puff it to the theater.

The air on Wilshire was filled with the scent of rich, spicy barbecue sauce, coming from the Grill next door to the Saban. There was a hipster crowd inside drinking microbrews and nibbling on appetizers on tiny plates that could barely contain the baby back ribs. But I guess that was the idea--to make the servings look bigger. This was not the crowd for the concert. This was the crowd in search of a neighborhood to gentrify.

The crowd for the Zombies show were standing in two long lines: one to enter the venue; the other for the Will Call window. The line moved quickly. "Tickets for Anthony Servante," I said. The Asian twenty-something stared at me. "Left for me by Tom Toomey," I added. He went to the box marked "Tom Toomey" and pulled the envelope marked Anthony Servante. I checked the contents: two tickets and two back stage passes. Bingo.

Row L on the floor, seats 17 and 19. We were just off-center. The Saban Theater used to be a movie house and it showed. Gothic friezes and giant columns framed the stage. Tom Toomey was checking his guitars. Should I go over and say hello. No. The man is working. Getting his head into the concert 30 minutes away. He set down the guitar, looked around the stage, and walked off, stage left. My guest, my older brother, went for drinks and a snack. The lights blinked on and off, signaling the show would be starting in ten minutes. The lobby emptied and the theater seats filled to capacity. It was a sold out show. The balcony seating was about ten feet behind me, thirty feet overhead. I hate sitting under the balcony. Seen too many soccer disasters on TV. With my neurotic phobias in check, diet coke and popcorn in hand, my bro and I were ready for the show.

The Concert

The lights dimmed. Uncle Joe Benson, noted Rock Radio personality, came on stage and explained the night's festivities. The current version of The Zombies would play first, visiting songs from their new LP, Still Got that Hunger (2015), old hits, plus songs from Argent and Colin Blunstone's solo careers. There'd be an intermission, and then The original line-up of The Zombies (minus guitarist Paul Atkinson who passed away in 2004) would play Odessey and Oracle (1968) in its entirety, note for note.

With that, The Zombies took the stage to a standing ovation from the sold-out crowd and opened with "I Love You", (1965), written by Chris White, who would be honored by both versions of the band for his many hit songs and talent. The opener showcased Colin's strong vocals and Rod Argent's jazzy keyboards. The next song, "Can't Nobody Love You", also from 1965, gave new guitarist Tom Toomey a chance to turn in an edgy rhythm and blues spin to the song. "I Want You Back Again" from 1968 rounded out the early years before The Zombies turned to their new LP, Still Got that Hunger, for a selection of songs that still echoed from that 60s Beat and showed that yesteryear's music still sounds relevant today. The hits "Tell Her No", "Hold Your Head Up", "Caroline Goodbye" (from Colin solo LP), "You Really Got a Hold on Me", and "She's Not There" charged up the echoes from the new LP with some real blasts from the 60s/70s. Argent reminded us that Chris White wrote "Hold Your Head Up", for he is often mistaken for being the writer, and that the lyrics are not "Hold your head up, whoa"; they're "Hold your head up, woman", an important distinction in this era when women should hold their heads high.

After a thirty minute intermission that I spent in a line that stretched from the restroom upstairs, down the long stairwell, and into the lobby, I made it back relieved in more ways than one just in time for the second act.

Rod Argent, Colin Blunstone, Chris White, Hugh Grundy, Tom Toomey, Darian Sahanaja, Steve and Jim Rodford, and Vivienne Boucherat comprised the reassembling of the original band and guest members. But, to be clear, the extra players were necessary to capture what Uncle Bob had promised earlier, that "Odessey and Oracle" would be played in its entirety, NOTE FOR NOTE. And that's just what we got. Argent even used an antique pump organ from the first World War for "Butcher's Tale (Western Front 1914)". It was a hypnotic 35 minutes, 12 songs, from jazzy to pop to psychedelic (before the word was even born), and, as promised, every note was played. To wrap things up, the bands (all members from both Zombie incarnations) joined for a no-holds barred version of "She's Not There", where each member of the band was instructed to add something to the song that was completely new and unique to this night's playing of the song. It was a magical rendition that had the standing crowd of oldsters and hipsters and former hippies singing along and swaying to the upbeat.

And then it was over. The bands gathered and bowed and departed.


The After Show

Tom Petty was in the house. Backstage was chaos. People with backstage passes were seated as the theater cleared and the crowd of fans snapping selfies with Petty and The Zombies band members were herded to the lobby, which was more spacious and accommodating to the overflow of backstage invitees. As the crowd was moved from the backstage area to the seating area, I spotted Tom Toomey. When I got the chance, I introduced myself, told him that I couldn't wait to write the review for tonight's show, and had my guest take a picture with The Zombies' guitarist. I said goodnight and called it a night. It didn't look like order would be restored for at least another hour, or at least until Tom Petty left the building, which it didn't appear he planned to do anytime soon, so I hit the road.

Again, thank you to Tom Toomey for the tickets and backstage passes. This was a unique concert that could never be repeated in the same way again. I'm glad I was there. And may I be there again when The Zombies decide to make history once more.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Sicario (2015)
Reviewed by Anthony Servante





Summary:

After rising through the ranks of her male-dominated profession, idealistic FBI agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) receives a top assignment. Recruited by mysterious government official Matt Graver (Josh Brolin), Kate joins a task force for the escalating war against drugs. Led by the intense and shadowy Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), the team travels back-and-forth across the U.S.-Mexican border, using one cartel boss (Bernardo Saracino) to flush out a bigger one (Julio Cesar Cedillo).


Review:
War Crimes is not an oxymoron to many people, many of whom believe that Military Intelligence is. At some point in our savage past, somebody thought that if mankind were to survive its own savagery, there must be rules to limit or protect the losers of the savage hunts or games. In swordplay and gun duels, you don’t attack your opponent in the back. The Marquis of Queensbury brought regulations to fisticuffs. Savagery became civilized, and still it is not considered oxymoronic. 


Dirty Harry-The Ultimate Anti-Hero


This is where the gray areas come in. The good guy in the white hat and the villain in the black hat have both been challenged by the person with the gray hat. In the 1960s and 70s, he was known as the anti-hero, itself an oxymoronic phrase. But after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, we honored our cops and firefighters as good guys, and the white hats made a brief comeback. However, with the questionable deaths of young men at the hands of police enforcers recently, the cops have fallen out of favor. Political Correctness and self-righteous activists manipulate the social media to erase any trace of loyalty to the white hats of heroes.


Heroes Fallen Out of Favor


Which brings us back to war crimes. In times of war, what is the function of rules? In one of my favorite quotes, “It’s like giving out speeding tickets at the Indy 500” (Apocalypse Now 1979). Yet soldiers do face criminal charges for breaking the rules of war. In the war on drugs, a question is raised: What if we change the rules to control the war rather than win it?


Shades of Justice



In Sicario (2015), starring Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, and Benicio Del Toro, the war on drugs is revisited. In the opening scene we see the F.B.I. find dozens of corpses in a “death house”; we also witness the booby-trap that kills two law enforcement officers on the scene in Arizona. Blunt’s character, squad leader, in invited to join a joint agency task force to fight the drug cartels on a different front, one that promises to be more effective than the traditional law and order procedures that pave the way to certain death for the good guys. She quickly learns that the bad guys don’t play by any rules and that’s why they are winning. Brolin points out that as long as 20% of the US population continues to buy drugs, the good guys will always keep losing. He offers an alternative.


The Good Guys?


Inglorious Basterds (2009), the premise was postulated: What if there were a squad of soldiers who would match the NAZIs in World War II atrocity for atrocity. The killers are good guys; they kill NAZIS, only more horrifically, until the German enemy fears the retaliations of this death squad. Brolin leads such a squad against the cartels, using the technology of the F.B.I., the C.I.A., and the D.E.A., with a handful of hand-picked “vigilantes” and agency “volunteers”. Blunt slowly learns about this squad’s activities as she acts as the movie audience’s eyes and ears; as she learns, we learn too. As she reacts with distain at the torture, betrayal, and lawlessness, we too react. We do not cheer the good guys, for they are not good, nor do we boo the bad guys, for they are not bad. In this world of gray warfare, it’s about control of the upper echelon of the cartels at the expense of the lower levels, even the corrupt cops and innocent bystanders. Collateral damage is part of the job.



Bloody Justice Basterd Style



And the job gets done. Blunt is torn between playing by the rules with anarchy as she is slowly swallowed by the monster that she tries to fight. It’s just a matter of time before she’s aiming her gun at the good guys and bad guys alike.


Emily Blunt Caught in the Middle



Benicio Del Toro plays a mysterious consultant for the Brolin death squad. His past begins to unravel as Blunt demands more intel on the squad she’s working with. Brolin gives her just enough info to quell her doubts, but the cumulative picture of the consultant grows more sinister as she gets closer to him. He saves her life, but does so to gain intel on the cartel. He’s a good guy with questionable motives. When we finally learn Del Toro’s role in the story, the war on drugs is a battlefield of grayness. Even as we know these tactics work, we must either turn a blind eye or join the monster. Del Toro suggests that Blunt find a little town where the law is still black and white, that this war is for wolves and she’d be eaten alive. Ultimately Blunt makes her choice, but either way she chose, we would be disappointed, for in a gray war, only the drug addicts win.


Ultimately, this is Del Toro's Movie


The cops in real life face this struggle every day. The civilians sometimes root for them when their hats are white, as they did after 9-11. But when the war turns gray, even the cops are as bad as the villains in the eyes of the finger-pointers who need the cops the most. Sicario is a reminder that we get the justice we deserve in times of drug trafficking, illegal immigration, and corruption in the government. It also reminds us that we get the heroes we deserve as well, oft-times in the villains themselves. Sicario is an epic tale of the war on drugs. Don’t go in expecting heroes and villains. You just may end up rooting for the wrong side.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


Weekend Warrior

Practiced at flesh and blood
the deity slaps the alarm clock
                            to snooze five more minutes.
The sun bleeds into the room
like a day of Crucifixion;
the god arises to face the day
to shackle himself to the human race
to say Yessir to his Roman masters,
but reckoning is at hand,
for the Judgment Day is coming
and they will get theirs
and you will party like it's TGIF.
The weekend warrior that you are,
you wipe the blood and sweat
                              from your thorned brow,
enter the final period on that email,
                              and press Send.
The snooze then ends
                              and Monday begins.

Anthony Servante
Copyright 2015
Permission to use by author consent only. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Common Psyche: 
The Projection of Private Horrors

by Anthony Servante




Introduction:

F. Paul Wilson, if you will forgive the name-dropping, once told me over dinner after a signing at Dark Delicacies that there are some stories that are doomed to be told over and over and that the writers of these stories will in fact believe that their tales are original. The example Paul gave me was the story that ends with the world meeting its demise where the last two survivors are named Adam and Eve. The writer commonly believes that the impact of the ending will shock and awe his readers with its originality, when realistically it will merely trigger a deja vu experience. It is a common reaction because most writers have written a similar story with a similar ending, thinking their story was also original and unique.

Let me review for a second what this is called in psychological terms. Projection. A person attributes negative experiences to others. For example, I do not like apples. I see a man at the market take an apple from his basket and replace it in the produce section. I think: this man does not like apples. The real case, however, may be that the man may have forgotten that he had already purchased apples the previous day or that he'd rather have a pear after dinner tonight. In either case the man likes apples. I projected my dislike of apples unto the man's actions. I can go a bit further and say that I also believe that since the man does not like apples, he must similarly share my other dislikes as well. I can create a negative profile of the man and wholeheartedly believe I am correct. It is this process of projection that I feel writers transfer to the page in the form of these "deja vu" stories.

Please note: regarding "tranference". "In psychoanalytic theory, transference occurs when a client’s feelings about someone else, particularly someone encountered in childhood, are projected onto the therapist. The classic example is falling in love with one’s therapist, but feelings such as rage, anger, distrust, or dependence can also be transferred" (from abouthealth.com). In other words, the patient projects his neuroses onto the therapist or psychiatrist. For our purposes, the writer transfers the process of projection unto his deja vu story.

Thusly, because the writer believes his story is negated by the reader, namely that the reader shares the experience without having had it, he attributes originality to the tale. Think: I will write a story about my having been beaten by a mugger, the reader, I believe, will empathize with my narrative as I know that he was probably beaten at some point in his life as well, and when the story reaches the page I believe I have captured something universal in all people. Let's return to the Adam and Eve deja vu story. I experience awe thinking up this story, imagine the reader will also experience awe, and expect all readers to read my printed story with the same awe. Wow, the last two people on earth are named Adam and Eve, just like in the Bible; I didn't see that coming. Or so the writer thinks. But as Paul would tell them: It's a common story that everyone thinks is unique. The writer is projecting his own feelings and transferring them to the page. Neither the reader or the story empathize with the deja vu tale. Most likely, the reader thinks: I've heard this story before; or I think this was a Twilight Zone story.

So what the hell am I talking about here? Well, many stories that one may feel are original and great are echoes of one story that writers have forgotten but is buried deep in their psyche, thus the feeling of deja vu when the writer reaches that sweet ending and thinks, "Wow, that's deep." Actually it's shallow to the reader. And to the editors who have suffered through many of these stories and rejected them, it's deep crap. There's no character development, no plot structure, no three acts. It's all ending.

I could list the most common deja vu stories that pass editors' and readers' hands, but I won't. Let someone else write that article. I offer you a Rorschach test of sorts. Before you is a story I wrote many years ago. I came across it among my college essays and term papers. I dusted it off and typed it up for you, the readers of the Darkness Blog. It has no title and I don't intend to give it one now. It appears to be a first draft, but more importantly it is projection of a private horror, transferred unto the page for your perusal. If it makes you go "Ewwww...", you've entered my psyche; if you go "I've read this same story 100 times from 100 different writers. Sheesh...", you've seen through the facade. Keep in mind, you don't know anything about the character, nor do you learn anything about the character. However, you will feel something, depending on your experience as a writer or editor. Hopefully what you feel is not projected or transferred creeps, for you must keep in mind, the creeps you feel are strictly my own.

Untitled 
by Anthony Servante

            In less than an hour, it would lay its eggs. But first it had to find a suitable place for its hatchlings to emerge safely. Karen watched as it scurried between her DVDs above the player, clutching her rolled up newspaper in her fist. She cursed herself and glanced at the wall clock. It was just after midnight. She had to get up in five hours, but how could she sleep knowing that that damn fat cockroach would bear its young at any minute?
            She flung the DVDs to the center of the bedroom till the shelves were cleared. No cockroach. She lifted the DVD player and the vermin darted along the corners of the shelves. Karen hit at the roach but the angle was wrong and couldn’t quite connect. Years of evolution had taught it to use the edges of surfaces to escape enemies. It reached the edge of the shelf and dropped to the floor. Karen stomped at it, but it disappeared under the bureau.
            Karen yanked out the drawers full of her underclothes until the floor beneath the bureau was visible. There was the roach, its antennae twitching nervously. Karen reached in with the newspaper and tried to swat the pregnant bug, but it hugged itself into the corner and avoided the swat. Then it raced off as Karen rewound her aim. It went behind the bureau, she thought and tipped the drawer-less bureau over. It crashed to the carpeted floor with a hushed thud.
            The plump insect paused a second then scurried along the wall and under the bed.
            “No you don’t,” yelled Karen as she pulled off the mattress, the box-spring, and pushed aside the bedframe. “Damn you.”
            The cockroach was cornered. It had no choice but to run up the wall. There was safety also in heights. Karen slammed the newspaper just inches from the bug. It shifted direction but continued its upward course. She whacked again but the roach was now out of reach. She grabbed her computer desk chair and stood on it. The bug was within reach, only once again it hugged itself into the corner of the ceiling and wall. Karen tried to slide the edge of the newspaper into the corner but didn’t have enough leverage to kill the damn bug. It merely lost its grip and fell.
            Karen lost sight of it. She stepped off the chair, keeping her eyes fixed on all the possible places it could have landed. Nothing. She backed up, scanning the floor and stepping over the drawers. Her heel hit the mattress. She looked down.
            It was under the edge of the pillow just behind her. She dropped on her butt, allowing her weight to crush the pillow over the cockroach. She rolled off and lifted the pillow. Smashed. Its white insides were sticking out of its open sides. Its antennae flickered once more then stopped. She took its dead body to the toilet and flushed it. Then she rearranged her room and put fresh sheets and a pillowcase on.
            Then she turned off the lights and went to sleep.
            Little did she realize that the roach that she had killed was not pregnant. The gorged brown vermin had landed in her hair and lay tangled there as she readied for bed. It slowly untangled itself and felt the first pang of the pulsing egg sac. As the exhausted girl fell into a deep sleep, the overdue creature crawled into Karen’s ear and laid its eggs.

            


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Visit (2015)
Directed and Written by M. Night Shyamalan
Review by Anthony Servante



Summary: 

Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and younger brother Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) say goodbye to their mother as they board a train and head deep into Pennsylvania farm country to meet their maternal grandparents for the first time. Welcomed by Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie), all seems well until the siblings start to notice increasingly strange behavior from the seemingly charming couple. Once the children discover a shocking secret, they begin to wonder if they'll ever make it home.

Review:

I remember when the name M. Night Shyamalan drew hoots and hollars from movie critics and horror fanatics all over the movie-loving world. That's because his first film 'The Sixth Sense' (1999) merited such attention. But with each new movie, the oohs and aahs calmed to a quiet meh. I enjoyed 'Unbreakable' (2000), a superhero film set in the real world, just as 'ghosts' inhabited his first film with shocking realism. The declaration "I see dead people" became an iconic line on par with "I'll make him an offer he can't refuse". The promise of Shyamalan never materialized, although we still see flashes of his genius in each of his movies, and even as his audience has shrunk, we few die-hards keep watching his movies, hoping that the next flash in the pan is real gold. 


What's gramma and grampa up to?


Sadly, 'The Visit' is close, but no gold ring. However, we do get a gold-plated piece of jewelry that is pretty as the real thing.

The main problem with the film is that Shyamalan still hopes to trick us again, as he did so brilliantly in The Sixth Sense. Consider the premise of the film. Preteen Tyler (the annoying one) and 14 year old Becca (the cloying one) will be spending one week with their grandparents, the estranged parents of their mother (Kathryn Hahn). The kids decide to film the visit in reality TV fashion in an effort to reconcile their mom with her folks. Thus we have another found footage film that is curiously as well-edited as a regular high-budget film. Shyamalan wants to have his cake and eat it too. Whether or not we the audience will go along with his attempt to mix genres relies heavily on that 'twist' we know is coming. Hell, we know Penn and Teller are pulling the wool over our eyes right before our eyes; that's the fun, that we don't see it coming. 


What's gramma watching?


The first act of the movie introduces us to the kids. Becca likes to make movies. She uses all the right vocabulary that big-time film-makers use, which doesn't click as true coming from a 14 year old's lips. We are reminded again and again that these kids are Smart with a capital S, so I suppose smart 14 year old film-makers do talk like that. Tyler, on the other hand, is "ethnically challenged", as his sister points out, because he likes to rhyme, as in Straight Outta Compton rhyme. That's where the annoying part comes in. (Possible Spoiler) Even Pop Pop tells the boy later "I don't like you." And that speaks volumes about these kids: we don't like them. They're Brady Bunch by way of the Garbage Pail Kids. 

Which brings us to the second act. We get to know the grandparents. Hey, these were real well-drawn old people. Adult diapers. Dementia. Depression. MS. Schizophrenia. Uncontrolled laughter. Oh, and chronic cooking and eating. And loads of neurotic tics. You may as well have made a horror movie about young kids having to spend a week with sick old people. Who needs a trick ending?! Seen through the eyes of children, the symptoms of old age might indeed seem like a horror movie. The seniors in the audience I saw the film with thought the movie was a comedy, 'cuz damn, it was funny. And if those annoying kids get their comeuppance for bothering those old folks, well, they had it coming. 

Aside: Where is the mom all this time? Oh, that's right. She has to be clueless for the twist to work. Oops. Almost gave it away. 


The brats come for a visit. 

In the third act, the battle of ages begins. Yep, it's about here that the trick denouement triggers the horrors to come. But wait. What exactly are these horrors? No spoilers here. It's great editing, senior moments, and scared kids colliding. It's like M. Night Shyamalan came across this found footage of some kids visiting their grandparents and edited it into a horror film, transposing the twist into the weave to give it his personal tag. Sure, it's not a great twist, but the last two acts are worth your time--if you have a lot of time on your hands.

If you are a Shyamalan fan, then this is a must-see. It's not primo horror, but it's on the right track to getting there if you've been patient this far into the director's oeuvre. In a penny, in for a pounding, as they say. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Top Ten Guitar Solos
Selected by Anthony Servante




Introduction:

A guitar solo does not mean a guitar that works alone. It is the leader, the culmination, or the heart of the song. However, for a moment or a series of moments, the guitar-work transcends the music it is a part of while simultaneously bolstering the impact of its totality. 

The songs I have selected for my top ten best in the area of guitar work are songs that would lose their soul if they were played acoustically. They were made to be jammed, plucked, picked, and axed. In some cases the tunes are secondary to the memory of the guitar solo(s); in others the guitar solo serves its master, the music. In either case both song and solo are one. 

In literature we are taught to critique the stories by examining the machinations of plot, character development, and denouement. We learned that if there is a character that could be omitted from the story only to find the story still works without the character's inclusion, then it is a flawed story. Omit any detail and the flawed story unravels. 

Similarly, the guitar solo must function to make the song work; without it, it would be a flawed piece of music. Let us now countdown the list from the melodic to the sublime, the classic to the immortal, from number ten to number one. Please feel free to add your top ten list in the comments below. 


THE COUNTDOWN:


10. Soul Sacrifice by Santana Guitar: Carlos Santana




9. Going Home by Ten Years After Guitar: Alvin Lee




8. In Memory of Elizabeth Reed by Allman Brothers Guitar: Dickey Betts




7. Green Grass and High Tides by Outlaws Guitars: Hughie Thomasson & Billy Jones





6. Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd Guitar: Gary Rossington




5. Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin Guitar: Jimmy Page





4. Salisbury by Uriah Heep Guitar: Mick Box




3. Look into the Future by Journey Guitar: Neal Schon





2. The Grass is Greener by Colosseum Guitar: Dave "Clem" Clempson





1. Home of the Brave by Strange Advance Guitar: Darryl Kromm




Runner up: Phoenix by Wishbone Ash Guitars: Andy Powell & Ted Turner




*****************************************

Thanks for listening. Please comment and add a list of your own below. 

Monday, August 31, 2015


Motorhead Live 
at the Shrine Expo Hall Los Angeles
Reviewed by Anthony Servante




Two years ago while I was writing for Black Glove Horror Entertainment and Culture Magazine, I thought I'd contact my old friend, TS, manager for Motorhead, and see if he could get me an interview with Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister, ex-Hawkwind and Motorhead leader. He notified me that Lemmy was retired from giving interviews, but that if I put some questions together, he’d get them to Lemmy and see if he’d answer them. I titled this questionnaire, The Last Interview of Lemmy. I notified my editor, Nick Cook, that I had sent out the questions to Lemmy and was awaiting a response. Nick was so thrilled that he planned an all Lemmy issue. 

We waited and waited. I contacted TS again and again. Nothing. Lemmy was not responding. I re-sent some new questions that required only a few words in response. Still nothing. About a year went by and TS told me to contact him when Motorhead was in town for a concert and he would organize some VIP passes. Too bad I got this email just after a Los Angeles show, so I had just missed my chance to meet Lemmy. I'd seen the band a few times, back in the day when he worked a few Hawkwind songs into the set, but I had never met him in person. And according to the Motorhead calendar, the band wouldn’t be back in the area for about a year. Well, that year rolled around quickly.

I waited again until August 22nd, 2015. And finally the night came. Lemmy was in town.


All-Access Pass

The show was at the Shrine Expo Hall, the south half of the Shrine Auditorium. I am well-acquainted with the Expo Hall: it is used for conventions, primarily the Science Fiction and Comic Book Convention, which houses signing events by movie stars, comic book artists, and TV stars on the main stage while the open floor is covered with tables for the memorabilia dealers selling items from Star Wars toys to the latest comic books. For concerts, the stage is for the band, and the open area is for general admission standing room only. (The auditorium is usually used for concerts: I've seen King Crimson and the Strawbs, Genesis on their Lamb Lie Down On Broadway tour, and Uriah Heep in their heyday). But with the general admission area, there's plenty of room for mosh pits and slam dancing, two common traditions at a Motorhead concert. 

The VIP pass was an all-access pass, which meant I could go anywhere in the confines of the concert, backstage as well as the dressing room area and the buffet room. I went in the balcony and positioned myself above, to the left of the stage, behind the main amps. I put in my ear reduction plugs (36% reduction) and watched the opening band CROBOT who started promptly at 8:15 pm. They played a tight version of an early 70s style of arena Rock not unlike FOGHAT. And thank heaven for the earplugs. I could hear the music without the after-effect of ringing in my ears.

SAXON came on at 9:00 pm and played a solid hour of music from their 40 year career. I only recognized the older music as I haven't kept up with their new material. 

After SAXON, TS gave me the grand tour of the backstage, the dressing area, where Lemmy emerged from his dressing room, complete with mirror and sofa, guitarist Phil "Wizzo" Campbell and drummer Mikkey Dee walking behind him as he headed for the stage. TS paused to let them by, and then he showed me the buffet area and told me to meet him there after the show. He'd come and get me. But I couldn't help but notice that Lemmy looked weak and fragile and had to walk with a cane to get to the stage. I shook it off, waved to TS and scooted up the stairs to my spot in the balcony. It was gone--crowded with other VIPs. I had to sit in front of the amps. Again, thank heaven for the earplugs.




MOTORHEAD started their show promptly at 9:20 pm. Every band was right on time according to our VIP schedule. They opened with "Damage Case" from the 1979 "Overkill" lp. The mosh pits started up immediately. And they were violent. Twice two real fights broke out. From overhead, I was treated to a great view of the audience as well as the band on stage. In total the band played 14 songs, with a guitar solo and drum solo; these seemed to be timed to give a break to Lemmy, who disappeared behind the rear amps to rest. Throughout the show he was stationary at the microphone, a large fan to his left. Even though the Shrine had the air-conditioning on, the body heat and mosh pit humidity must have made the stage feel like a rainforest in summer. Lemmy looked exhausted throughout although the speed metal sound of the music made him appear younger to the crowd. 

Campbell took over the role of host, introducing the songs, while Dee engaged the crowd in clapping and other noise making. Lemmy punctuated his band-mates' exhortations but rarely addressed the crowd himself, except for the final song and encore, "Overkill", to introduce his son Paul Inder on back-up guitar. Almost as if reading from a cue-card, Lemmy told the crowd before the next to the last song, "Ace of Spades", that this is the last song, but then you [the audience] would make some noise and then we'll be back to play one more song. And with that the band bolted into "Ace of Spades". Just another routine concert. Right on time.

But this was more than just a concert, of course. This was an evening with Lemmy--at this stage of this career. He started with Hawkwind in 1972 and exited in 1975 after being late for a show when he was stopped at the Canadian border on drug possession charges that were later dropped. He formed Motorhead, using the title of the last song he had written for Hawkwind to name his new band. When asked about his break-up with Hawkwind, Lemmy expressed anger. He was told that Nik Turner still "wants to be friends" and that Dave Brock speaks highly of him, and actually calmed down long enough to ask, "Really?", hoping it was true. After that, the subject of Stacia came up. Lemmy said that she and another dancer whose name he couldn't remember used to do the early to mid 70s shows when he was with the band. He sighed when he said that she was married now and had a grown daughter with a rock band of her own. Before the question of his diabetes was brought up, he went into his dressing room and closed the door.

As a crowded after-party raged, TS said he couldn’t disturb Lemmy while he was locked in his room. He made light that he might be in there with a babe. Maybe. Maybe he was asleep. He’s been fighting diabetes since 2000. He changes habits, but doesn't eliminate them. He switched his drink from Coke and Jack Daniels to orange juice and vodka. Someone will have to explain that change for me. I received shrugs when I asked a few people at the buffet about his switch in drinks. During the show, Campbell stopped for a drink and told the crowd it was only water as he drank from the red plastic cup. Lemmy drank from a similar cup but bragged to the audience that his glass wasn’t water. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. But into his dressing room he went.




I waited until two in the morning, as did the dozens of other fans and reviewers awaiting their turn for an more in depth talk with the Rock legend. But it’s about that time that my age started to show. It was time to go gome. I’ve waited two years. I could wait for their next show. Problem is, will Lemmy and I be around for the next time? Motorhead cancelled their Utah and Colorado show, blaming the high altitude and Lemmy's trouble breathing the thin air. According to Motorhead's Facebook page, Lemmy couldn't sing with such thin air, but that things should return to normal for the tour and his voice when the band plays Texas next month.

Facebook page post: 
The people are great, but the air is just too thin. The high altitude makes it difficult for breathing, and that’s what happened with Lemmy tonight in Salt Lake City. He feels very bad to have cut the show short, but being that high up, he had some trouble breathing well. Lemmy appreciates everyone’s concern. The fans always rally round!

I hope that's all it was. TS told me that it was possible that Lemmy had a lady visitor in his dressing room, so he would not be knocking on his door. You know, I hope he was in there with a fine young thang, and that the 69 year old Rocker was prioritizing time with the ladies over interviews. But I worry that he was exhausted and locked himself in his room to get some sleep. I told TS to put me down for the next Los Angeles Motorhead gig. As long as Lemmy keeps touring, I'll keep attending his concerts. We're bound to cross paths again more than briefly. Rock and Roll is such a small world. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Beautiful Intelligence
by 
Stephen Palmer




The Author: Click here to visit.



Biography
Stephen Palmer is the author of nine novels: Memory Seed (Orbit 1996), Glass (Orbit 1997), Flowercrash (Wildside 2002), Muezzinland (Wildside 2003), Hallucinating (Wildside 2004) and The Rat And The Serpent (Prime Books 2005). In 2010 PS Publishing published Urbis Morpheos. In 2014 Infinity Plus Books published his surreal slipstream steampunk novel Hairy London, then in 2015 the cyberpunk-influenced Beautiful Intelligence. Ebooks of Muezzinland, Hallucinating and The Rat And The Serpent are available from Infinity Plus, who have also published the ebooks of Memory Seed, Glass and Flowercrash. His short stories have been published by Wildside Press, Spectrum SF, NewCon Press, Mutation Press, Eibonvale Press, Solaris, TFQ, Unspoken Water, Kraxon Publishing, Tickety Boo Press and Boo Books. Further short stories will appear in 2015 and onwards. Stephen lives and works in Shropshire, UK.


Overview

AI or BI? Artificial intelligence or beautiful intelligence?

The race to create a sentient machine is headed by two teams, led by former researchers at Ichikawa Laboratories, who escape the regime there – and each other – to pursue their own dreams in the world beyond Japan.

Leonora Klee is creating a single android with a quantum computer brain, whose processing power has never before been achieved.

Manfred Klee is creating a group of individuals, none of them self-aware, in the hope that they will raise themselves to consciousness.

But with a Japanese chase team close on their heels, will either be successful before they are trapped and caught?

Beautiful Intelligence is a fast-paced, philosophical thriller that confronts questions of how we will create artificial sentience, and whether it will be beautiful.



SOME REVIEWS OF STEPHEN PALMER’S BOOKS

“Memory Seed (is) a notable debut novel.” SFX


“Stephen Palmer is a find.” Time Out


“Stephen Palmer has concocted a beguiling adventure that draws on

some of the best sf of recent years for its basic themes. . . ” Starburst


“Stephen Palmer’s imagination is fecund. . . ” Interzone


“. . .an intriguing dystopian ecological-catastrophe novel,

diverging from the recent trend of socially-driven catastrophes in

British sf.” Foundation


“Stephen Palmer takes biotech to its farthest extreme, and

beyond into entropy, yet he offers a flicker of hope.” Locus


“This latest novel confirms that in Stephen Palmer, science

fiction has gained a distinctive new voice.” Ottakar’s


“This is a brilliant second novel and makes, like its predecessor, a

welcome change in a genre clogged with tat.” SFX


“Give him a try; his originality is refreshing.” David V Barrett


“The author of Memory Seed and Glass offers a challenging and

thoughtful future world that should satisfy readers with a love for

far-future sf and New Wave fiction.” Library Journal


“. . . (a) supremely odd yet deeply rewarding experience.” CCLaP


"In the madness of Science Fiction's abundant selections from moderate futurist to Steam Punk, it is good to find a novel that holds its own against the dystopian themes of man versus machine, which have become quite popular over the past 20 years, although we can go back to The Twilight Zone for a taste of sentient robots (for lack of a better term--they all seem to be taken by books, TV shows and movies today). Palmer rethinks the future by straining it through the ecological issues we face today with Global Warming and Technological pollution and retells its story via the values, hopes, and naivete of 1950s Science Fiction narrative. The melding of past, present and future in 'Beautiful Intelligence' permits the reader to experience the dread of a bleak future with the optimistic writing style common to the Space Adventures of the 1940s and '50s. The narrative carries us to another dimension as real as any created by Frank Herbert or Ray Bradbury. Throw in a pinch of John Shirley's caustic hope, and you have Stephen Palmer showing us the light at the end of the tunnel. Now, whether or not we reach this light is another matter. Beautiful Intelligence is worth the read if only to get in on the discussion at hand regarding mankind's place in tomorrow's uncertain landscape. A vision rich with well-drawn characters and portentous themes, a beautiful read awaits you." Servante of Darkness Blog

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


"William Cook tells a gruesome story with a sense of authenticity that makes you question with considerable unease if it really is fiction, after all."
- Graham Masterton, author of The Manitou and Descendant


Synopsis:

For over two decades, Detective Ray Truman has been searching for the killer or killers who have terrorized Portvale. Headless corpses, their bodies mutilated and posed, have been turning up all over the industrial district near the docks. The remains of young female prostitutes have been the killer’s victims of choice, but now other districts are reporting the gruesome discovery of decapitated bodies. It seems the killer has expanded his territory as more ‘nice girls’ feel the wrath of his terrible rage. This horrifically disturbing tale of a family tree of evil will embed itself in the mind of the reader, long after the last page has been turned. A crime thriller in the vein of other power packed thrillers like Thomas Harris's 'Silence of the Lambs' and James Ellroy's 'Killer on the Road.'

Meet the Cunninghams
A family bound by evil and the blood they have spilled. The large lodging house they live in and operate on Artaud Avenue reeks of death and the sins that remain trapped beneath the floorboards.

Meet Caleb Cunningham
Caleb is a disturbed young man whose violent father is a suspected serial killer and mother, an insane alcoholic. After his Father’s suicide, Cunningham’s disturbing fantasy life becomes reality as he begins his killing spree in earnest. His identical twin brother Charlie is to be released from an asylum and all hell is about to break loose when the brothers combine their psychopathic talents. Eventually stepping out from the shadows of his murderous forebears, Caleb puts in motion his own diabolical plan to reveal himself and his ‘art’ to the world. He’s a true aesthete. An artist of death. His various ‘installations’ have not received the status he feels they deserve, so Caleb is expanding his ‘canvas.’

Meet Ray Truman
A tragic cop whose personal demons won’t let him rest. Overworked and underpaid, Truman is tenacious as a pit-bull. He won’t rest until he’s brought to justice Portvale’s infamous serial killer. His battle with his own demons gives him the strength to chase the shadows and to cut corners when necessary, as he embarks on the hunt of his life. His search leads him to the Cunningham’s house of horrors. What he finds there will ultimately lead him to regret ever meeting Caleb Cunningham and the deviant family that spawned him. The hunter becomes the hunted as Truman digs deeper into the abyss that is the horrifying mind of the most dangerous psychopath he has ever met.

Warning: contains adult content, graphic violence and psychological horror.


'This man is simply scary. There is both a clinical thoroughness and a heartfelt emotional thoroughness to his writing. He manages to shock as well as empathize, to scare as well as acclimatize, yet beneath it all is a well read intelligence that demands to be engaged. I loved Blood Related. Ordinarily I hate serial killer stories, but William Cook won me over. He is a unique and innovative talent.' 
-Joe McKinney, Bram Stoker Award winning author of Flesh Eaters and Dog Days


William Cook



Author Information:

Main website: http://williamcookwriter.com
FaceBook Writer's page: https://www.facebook.com/WilliamCookWriter
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/William-Cook/e/B003PA513I

"I have re-released Blood Related. It is now a much tighter, more main-stream novel which will hopefully prove an easier and more fast-paced read."
-William Cook 
 
William Cook was born and raised in New Zealand and is the author of the novel 'Blood Related.' He has written many short stories that have appeared in anthologies and has authored two short-story collections ('Dreams of Thanatos' & 'Death Quartet') and two collections of poetry ('Journey: the search for something' & 'Corpus Delicti'). William writes horror and thriller fiction mostly, but also ventures into literary fiction, a bit of sci-fi, Young Adult and, more recently, kids stories. 

His work has been praised by Joe McKinney, Billie Sue Mosiman, Anna Taborska, Rocky Wood and many other notable writers and editors. William is also the editor of the anthology 'Fresh Fear: Contemporary Horror,' published by James Ward Kirk Fiction.

Member of the Horror Writers Association, Australian Horror Writers Association, SpecFicNZ & the SFFANZ.

To get an email whenever the author releases a new title and/or gives away free books, sign up for the VIP newsletter at: williamcookwriter.com/p/subscribe-now.html (just copy and paste into your browser).

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Poetry of Jaye Tomas:
From the Upcoming 'Carnevale


Jaye Tomas

Biography:

Jaye Tomas has be a "scribbler" all of her life, but the Internet provided a way to more easily share it. Creating Chimera Poetry (blog & facebook page) has been an incredible experience. The fact that anyone reads what she writes is a constant source of amazement and gratitude to her. Her biggest obsession is books and her reading tastes are eclectic to say the least: Tolkien, Lovecraft, Gaiman, Plath, Ellison, Christie, Aaronovitch, Yeats, Blake, King, Barker, Straub, Lopez, Maugham, Poznansky .....to name a very few. Originally from the windy suburbs of Chicago she now resides in the UK. Lately she has been casting her eyes in the direction of Italy, but hasn't completely settled on that.....yet. It may be back to the USA, it may be Edinburgh, it may be Gallifrey..... the beauty of the story is in the journey, not the arrival.

http://chimerapoetry.wordpress.com/ (blog)
https://www.facebook.com/jaye.tomas.7 (Jaye Tomas on facebook)
https://www.facebook.com/chimerapoet (Chimera Poetry on facebook)



Carnevale is now available at:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/151523635

http://amzn.com/1515236358





Q&A:

Anthony: What's on the horizon for Jaye Tomas?

Jaye: [Some new poetry. Here are some samples.] These will all be in the new book (hopefully) arriving in A Store Near You in Summer 2015.


Anthony: What's the book called?

Jaye: The title is 'Carnevale' by Jaye Tomas and will be available in Amazon pretty much world wide :)

Anthony: Well, keep us informed on the latest.


Jaye: I will provide a link to it as soon as it is live. I also attached the artwork for the book, done by the exceedingly talented Sorell (https://www.facebook.com/sorell.art).




Thank you once again Anthony. I very much appreciate the support and the chance to be seen.

Anthony: My pleasure and my readers' pleasure as well, I'm sure. And now a preview look at the:


Poetry from CARNEVALE
by Jaye Tomas:


Columbina ~

Columbine
Columbina
dance with me through the streets of beaded windows
and wine washed cobbles.
Tie a string of sorrowful songs into your hair and let them flutter as the wind
washes us with spice and gold spinnings
catching on the pearls of your mask
and shining like dragonfly wings.
Columbine
Columbina
A night of magic and a day of wonder
with jugglers of butter yellow suns
and a waltz never played before
because at its merest tone
the weeping would overrun the rivers.
But still we dance
My Columbine...
my Columbine and I.
Little dove in the starlit alley with the incense wrapping you like a
burnt sugar cocoon.
This carnival,
this pageantry,
a stage for you to shine like the moon
like the secret chamber of an oyster shell.
These sinister diamonds
all in velvet spread out like a carpet
of finest Persian to tempt your touch
to tease your flashing feet,
and we flicker in the rosy dawn.
We unravel the clouds and weave them into teardrop portents to drop like
crystal balls in the gypsies tent.
I will play for you a mandolin of sighing zephyrs,
colorstained winds and skies that do not flicker,
do not lighten
but only deepen
infused in ancient and delicious sin.
Columbine
Columbina
My Columbina....

©jayetomas2015


A Day of Bones ~

A day of bones
a day of bones
and breaking sticks and stones…
A day of lying undetected
under hot sand and bleaching.
A day of being still
and being hungry and hunted
and sorry…
for in the sand you feel the secondhand warmth
but can’t ever see it golding across your face.
Can’t grasp the light that your eyes crave like a drug,
the trembling fall of brightness tumbling like motes through the sifted air,
is lost in the rasp
and in the motion denied…
Hold
and the bones stay still
in sin and in secret.
Hold,
and the rods and cones run their machinery overtime
to keep the color locked tight within,
and the bones lock
to keep the trembling at bay.
Burrowing in all soft and fat
you hold,
hold,
for the sand dollaring,
the hardening of your inner and outer self.
While the curtain calls for retribution not redemption in your rerunning dreams.
For in the simplest and most dispassionate of truths
there is no white charger,
the flying monkeys are out of control,
your knights are trembling with you in other, separate burrows,
and the day plods by….
Your cocoon gently strangling as you helplessly watch the sand settle in more tightly around you
and your bones accept this with resignation
and any brief and random thought of emerging
smothers itself in self preservation.
A day of bones,
a day of bones,
a day of breaking,
of sticks and stones.

©jayetomas2015


Tell Me ~

Tell me how to read the secrets etched like runes upon your bones
the story written in the lines of your face
the palimpsest of your hands.
Tell me the mysteries in your abyss,
those submerged in the deepest pools
dammed in your mind
locked behind doors of iron and molten nightmares.
Tell me why pretending is a drug to you
why it caresses and intoxicates you and you bury your name and need in it.
Why you scrawl over and over again
on walls
on doors
on scraps of paper blown through the streets,
"Forget me
forget my scars shining like a river in the deepening light...
Forget the touch of me
that taints and burns.
Turn your heart and soul away, walk with no faltering
or else I may grab and hold on and lose us both...."
Tell me how you were made,
what dark and shadowed madman breathed over you
waking you?
Did the composing hurt?
Were you brought forth in pain and
in the sweating, shuddering birthpangs of an otherworld changeling?
Tell me
teach me
I want to learn your source
the very Nile you sprung from.
Tell me how to read,
to decipher,
your secrets
your stories...
Tell me how find the key
to unlock your wrapped and rusted chains
and set you free.

©jayetomas2015