Sunday, October 28, 2007


I'm a giver. I love to give. I love when people take what I give.

I was in a rarified position today to give to a friend in tough position, and they accepted heartily. It's not money, or things, that I'm talking about -- it's love. The emotions. The real thing.

My friend is going through a tough spot, and me 'n the ’Balm were there because they asked for help. That's all it takes to get me to give. It's easy. Really easy.

I am a born extender -- that is to say, I really do try to cater to people, because I either have a natural empathy for other people or I'm a massive codependent. I suspect it's it's a bit o' both. Whichever it is, there's nothing quite like the feeling of offering love and hugs to someone in pain. And if I go out of my way to offer this service to, say, 10 people, all I need is one, maybe one-and-a-half to reciprocate to complete the feedback loop. That's a good rate of return, peoplefolks.

Don't ask me for money. I don't have any. Don't ask me for favors. I get bored and easily resentful.

DO ask me for help and love, and DO be appreciative when I effuse the stuff.

This sounds like a threat as I read it back in my head, but it's really just a helpful guideline.

Monday, October 22, 2007

What you want to see

What kind of film do you want to see made? I haven't seen a ghost story worth a damn in a while. "Poltergeist" was the last one that scared the shit out of me. I thought some of the recent J-horror would tickle my fancy, but "The Ring" was a confusing mishmash of styles. Same for that crop of haunted house flicks from the late ’90s: "The Haunting" and "The House on Haunted Hill" were warmed-over nice-tries. It seems like they lost the touch when it comes to making the real thing.

"Poltergeist" was made in 1982, a Tobe Hooper/ILM effort. It was fantastic -- Stephen Spielberg was the exec producer, and he knew that Hooper would kick a ghost story in the balls. MGM got a lot right.

Going earlier than that, I have to cite the oeuvre of Dario Argento -- he united the gothic horror sensibility with the slasher film and gave us "Profundo Rosso," "Suspiria," and many other diamonds. The gothic part is what he did so well, but not necessarily plot. And there didn't have to be a supernatural force at work, what with enough twisted-ass sinister people on the job.

Go back further, twenty years or so, and we get the Hammer films and their ilk, a true renaissance of gothic horror. Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, and Vincent Price were three of the standard bearers of the time, starring in adaptations of Poe and Lovecraft, or rolling out new creations in a similar vein. I love "Haunted Palace." I love "The Abominable Dr. Phibes" (so much so I wrote about it a few months back).

There needs to be more, again. This is a filmic artform that has been neglected, only because people have forgotten how to make flicks like these. I am not detracting the current idiomatic oeuvres of James Wan and Eli Roth, but a spooky-as-shit ghost thriller is a fine use of 1 hour and 40 minutes time.

Hell, my favorite Disney World ride is "The Haunted Mansion," simply because they got the sensibility so goddamn right.

I've always been looking for inspiration, things that help the little wrinkly imagination-gnome inside of my pancreas do his jumpy, runny little thing. I should always write more; I watch an obscene amount of TV and movies, as well as consume hectares of mags, newspapers, and comic books, all raw materials for creative synthesis. And this mode is the kind of thing I want to see. This is what I should do -- make it for myself. I want to rediscover Vincent Price and rediscover gothic horror, circa 1960.

Want to see what I'm talking about? Watch this -- it's filking amazing:

So much longing, so much romance, so much deliberation. Gorgeous.

[Art by Daniel Horne, used without permission.]

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Greatest show on Earth

So... there's this:

Me and teh shmoop had the extreme privilege of spending a week in the most beautiful place on Earth, the Virgin Islands. In particular, we stayed on the gloriously uninhabited St. John (below, right).

Out in the middle of nowhere, especially in the off-season, this is the perfect place to keep from killing all the neighbors (or Estonians, if there are no neighbors handy). We flew into the big island of St. Thomas (left) and disembarked from a cross-channel ferry in the harbor town of Red Hook.

The boat chugged off on a 15 minute ride to St. John, accessible only by boat -- no airports, and shit, barely any roads, either.

This is Janice riding high in life on the top deck, moments after the crew brought us some rum. The people to our right, from New Jersey, were already nattering about unimportant bullshit, apparently impervious to the natural wonder around us.

The resort is built on an entire fucking peninsula, which is to say the grounds were huge. Rolling hills, palm trees, mangroves, all sorts of greenery -- the fragrance was amazing. The Caribbean is an entirely different world. You know, some people say you have to see Hawaii. Fuck Hawaii -- there's the Virgin Islands. Talk to me about the Great Barrier Reef if you want me to fly for 18 hours...

Here's our daily walk to breakfast, like a morning stroll through goddamned paradise, 90ยบ by 8 a.m. and drenched in hot, hot sun. Butterflies kept buzzing us, like something out of Garcia Marquez.

We don't go to relax, however -- we go to snorkel. We swam miles each day, practically mapping the seafloor of all its coral, fish, and crustaceans. This shot is a place called Leinster Bay, a remote beach inaccessible by car, so you have to drive off-road for a quarter of a mile on a washed out road and hike into the jungle for another mile-and-a-half just to get to the beach.

Here's Janice, preparing our snorkels on the hood of that neat lil' Jeep Wrangler. This bay, like all the others, revealed an orgy of tropical sea life, from parrotfish, hawksbill turtles, southern stingrays, sergeant-majors, triggerfish, barracuda, and tarpon. (Sorry, no underwater camera to document evidence of those claims).

This little unassuming cut is a place off Grass Cay called "Squidville," the first place Janice and I ever scuba dived. The only way for us to suck up any more grandeur of the USVI's beauty was to go under, and we gave it a shot with incredible results. We have to get certified, immediately if not sooner.

We always stopped to smell the musk of the cooling sea grape trees that grow seaside, sheltering the sugary beaches from the hottest part of the day. A hammock was in order for that chill-out.

Each day at 4 p.m., they threw an afternoon tea where you could eat scones and slurp Earl Grey as non-native mongooses (mongeese?) skitter around your ankles trying to steal crumbs of the sweet treats.

The last sunset -- so beautiful, so sad, that you'd weep into your Cruzan rum thinking about flying back to New Jersey the next day.

Totally relaxed and mellowed, here are two loving marrieds glum at leaving but feeling that we throttled every last bit of life we could squeeze out of the Caribbean... this month. Watch for breaking news in this space about how I'm quitting the publishing biz and compelling the wife to wait tables in a scallop shack in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. Those'll be some good times, begging for PayPal donations to keep my snorkeling-while-rummed-up addiction afloat.

Thursday, October 04, 2007


Hello there folks... it's your uncle Bing! Welcome to the Gates of Hell. Bub-buh-buh, ho-ho-ho. That's right, Hell, step right up. Ho-ho-hum, buh-buh-buhb.

I'll take your tickets right here, and enjoy the sulphurous lakes and searing, white-hot barbs of penitence. Buh-buh-buh.

Ho-ho, ho-ho, prepare for centuries of suffering, buh-bub. Thanks for coming!