New Column and Westworld

I’m sitting in my office getting ready to type up my notes to my latest column for Gamut magazine. Over the past few months as Gamut has been ramping up, I made the decision that with Raw Bites, I was going to strip myself to the bone. I was going to dredge up all of the things about my life that still make me cringe before I fall asleep at night or during too quiet moments. It’s been work out. The piece I’m writing is definitely making me wince more than a little bit. By the way, I’ve got a new Raw Bites in Gamut #1 called “Bukowski San Pedro”.

No, it’s not about Bukowski in the least.

The piece is behind a pay wall, so if you don’t have a subscription already, you can go right here. Richard Thomas is setting the bar high with Gamut, it’s something special.

Me and Mrs. Rawson finished up Westworld today while the baby was napping. Final verdict, it was just okay.

Don’t get me wrong, I respect Johnathan Nolan and the Yu family (The show’s story editor and primary scriptwriters, Charles Yu, is one of my favorite contemporary short story writers. If you haven’t already, definitely check out Third-Class Super-Hero), but outside of Bernard (Jeffery Ross) and Maeve (Thandie Newton), I didn’t care about any of the other characters or their plot lines. There was some great acting and writing, but I don’t think I’ll be returning for season two. But then again, I’ve felt this way about a lot of multi-season, long form television shows lately. I find myself wanting shows to wrap up in a single season like The Night Of or American Horror Story.

Are any of you feeling this way about long form television lately, or is it just me?


Evening Soundtrack: Dave Brubeck

 

Espresso and Tears

I’m getting ready to write an essay about Warren Ellis. No, not the composer who works with Nick Cave, but the novelist and comic book writer Warren Ellis. Because of this, I’ve been revisiting old favorites such as Planetary and the subversive Transmetropolitan (By the way, is anyone else of the opinion that Spider Jerusalem is a thinly veiled version of Alan Moore?), and his first novel, Crooked Little Vein. I’m not really having to delve too deeply into the new stuff such as Trees, Injection, and his more recent novels such as Gun Machine and Normal (which is probably one of the funniest books I read in 2016, and one of the most prophetic). I haven’t had to delve too far into these new works because I’ve read each as they’ve come out and are fresh in my memory. And to be blunt, I don’t really have to read the old comics and books, either. I’m just doing it because I love them.

The one thing I’ve noticed in the preparation of this essay is how much Ellis has seeped into my own work over the past decade. Currently I’m working on two separate long projects (I know, I should only be working on one, but I’m the type of writer who’s been conditioned by freelance work and having to work on multiple projects at a time. Plus, the fact is I get bored, so juggling multiple projects is the best way for me to keep myself interested in writing.). Both projects are best described as science fiction, both are somewhat politically motivated (Another little something I’ve rediscovered about myself, I am very much a political creature and I tend to become more creative and motivated when I feel repressed and downtrodden. You know, being American.), but in the same breath, I don’t consider them science fiction because I’m utilizing crime and romance fiction tropes in both along with the other elements and stirring and mixing them up.

No, this is nothing new, it’s nothing ground breaking, it’s all things Warren Ellis and dozens of writers have employed over the last fifty years. But the thing is, when I read through my pages from the day before (One piece is being written entirely on the computer, the second—which I tend to work on the most—is being written on yellow legal notepads with occasional notes in a loose outline I keep stored on my hard drive.), I’ve begun to notice that the style I’m working in is becoming increasingly weirder, Ellis-esque, so to speak, and that this strange Englishman has become, perhaps, the storyteller who has influenced my work the most. And the fact is, I like it, I flat out love it because it’s encouraging me to get as weird and irreverent as I want while still crafting a highly readable story.

At least that’s what I hope I’m doing?


Current Read:

A View From The Cheap Seats: Selected Non-Fiction By Neil Gaiman

 

Quote: Benjamin Percy

benjaminpercy800

“Toss out the worst elements of genre and literary fiction–and merge the best. We might then create a new taxonomy, so that when you walk into a bookstore, the stock is divided into ‘Stories that suck’ and ‘Stories that will make your mind and heart explode with their goodness.'”


Evening Soundtrack: A Seat At The Table By Solange Knowles

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Quote

sellout

“I seriously doubt that some slave ship ancestor, in those idle moments between being raped and beaten, was standing knee-deep in their own feces rationalizing that, in the end, the generations of murder, unbearable pain and suffering, mental anguish, and rampant disease will all be worth it because someday my great-great-great-great-grandson will have Wi-Fi, no matter how slow and intermittent the signal is.”

 


Afternoon Soundtrack: Danny Brown

Movie Review: The Neon Demon

neon-demon-mainTitle:

The Neon Demon

Directed By:

Nicolas Winding Refn

Written By:

Nicolas Winding Refn

Starring:

Elle Fanning, Jena Malone, Abbey Lee

Synopsis:

“When aspiring model Jesse moves to Los Angeles, her youth and vitality are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women who will use any means necessary to get what she has in this horror thriller from Nicolas Winding Refn.”

The Skinny:

I’ll get right to the point: Refn’s erotic thriller (And it is a thriller. Yes, there are horror elements, but they’re fleeting), The Neon Demon is his weakest film in an otherwise impressive filmography. Now, with that being said, Refn’s worst is still 90% better than just about everything being released into theaters.

The Neon Demon is deeply atmospheric (Perhaps too much so?), and like the much maligned, Only God Forgives (Which I consider to be one of Refn’s best films), it is a love letter to David Lynch and his films such as Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive.

As with all Refn films, The Neon Demon is visually stunning and is like a living, breathing surrealist masterpiece. The problem is that most of the characters are just as two dimensional. There’s no meat to their actions, all style and no substance. But maybe this is the effect that Refn was going for? Young women obsessed with only two things: Beauty and how to make money from that beauty.

I can’t say I would recommend The Neon Demon to the casual viewer (Just move along, casual viewer, go find some super hero movie to occupy your time with.), but if you’re a fan of Refn’s films or enjoy subtlety crafted horror thrillers, it’ll be right up your alley.


Morning Soundtrack:

Wilco Schmilco By Wilco