Archive for February, 2015

muppetsI’ve been thinking lately about Jim Henson’s early involvement with “Saturday Night Live.” Though it was ostensibly a failure, it’s something that I actually find quite inspiring.

I didn’t see the recent 40th anniversary special for Saturday Night Live, and I don’t know if the special mentioned it. But Jim Henson’s Muppets were a regular feature on Saturday Night Live’s first season in 1975.

But it wasn’t the 40th anniversary of Saturday Night Live that got me thinking about it, so much as this great write-up on The Dissolve, which recently made 1979’s “The Muppet Movie” its “Movie of the Week.” Particularly the idea of Kermit the Frog as a surrogate for Jim Henson, with his unfailing optimism and his ability to get other people to share his vision. Not through arm-twisting, so much as an ability to convey his child-like sense of wonder and fun, and have others want to be a part of it.

As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, I consider Jim Henson to be a genius.

And I’m still in awe of what Saturday Night Live did in its first seasons, with the original cast.

I was nine when the first season premiered, and I remember what a big impact it had over the next few years until the original cast left in 1980. I’d compare it to “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” or the early days of “The Simpsons.” It wasn’t just brilliant, but a game changer. (more…)

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FortuneI hate to admit this, but I’m guilty of using the terms “hardboiled” and “noir” interchangeably. The fact that lots of people do it is no excuse. Hell, you could argue that it’s an even greater sin in my case, since I know better and do it anyway.

The tough, street-smart detective prowling the back alleys like some modern-day knight errant? Wise to the mugs and their schemes? Ready to mete out justice with fists or gun? That’s not noir. That’s hardboiled.

Noir is about losers. Not losers as in rough-edged heroes fallen on hard times and looking for one last shot at redemption. Losers as in irredeemable fuck-ups going through the motions of their preordained downfall.

In some ways, I see noir and horror as similar genres. With noir, as with horror, it’s sometimes difficult to explain the appeal to people who aren’t already fans. Stories from both genres frequently introduce not-particularly-sympathetic protagonists, then put them through the wringer. And both have a tendency to use deceptively pulpy, sensationalistic narratives to obliquely comment on social ills.

You can check out a nice little noir story for free (better yet, make a donation) at writer Erik Arneson’s Website here.

Erik Arneson is also one of the writers behind the wonderful flash fiction site “Shotgun Honey.” If you’re a fan of hardboiled, noir or just crime fiction in general, do yourself a favor and check it out.

On Arneson’s Website, you can download a comic called “Fortune,” written by Arneson with art by Dillon Samuelson, through NoiseTrade.

If you’re a noir fan, you already know the title will turn out to be ironic. It’s a story about guys stealing cooking grease, which can be converted into biodiesel fuel.

Unlike some noir, “Fortune” isn’t presented as a comprehensive dissection of modern society’s failings. It’s an intentionally low-key story about a couple of fuck-ups … well … fucking up.

I guess you could read deeper into it as an examination of how any opportunity to make a dime in our society is going to draw skeezy people looking for illicit ways to get the highest profit for the least effort. Mostly, though, it’s just a fast-paced, efficiently told, wryly funny snapshot of a decidedly unglamorous criminal enterprise.

So check it out. It’s a good read. As an added bonus — if you’re trying to lose weight, it will make you never want to eat another French fry.

Freak FrontSo Roy Sexton was already one of my favorite reviewers. Seriously. I’d put the guy up there with Nathan Rabin and Roger Ebert. Then it turns out he liked my book, which pretty much made my day, week and month. See the review here. Check out more of his wonderful reviews while you’re at his site, “Reel Roy Reviews.” Hell, just go ahead and buy one or both of his books. And please bear with me, folks. I’m riding an endorphin rush here.

Starting Up the Blog Again

Posted: February 2, 2015 in Uncategorized

Hey folks. Getting back to this blog after a month-long hiatus. Had a loss in the family. Just didn’t feel up to working on it. I guess you have to move on sooner  or later, right? Not generally into the whole grieving on the Internet thing. I don’t think mourning should be a public spectacle. But I feel like I at least need to acknowledge what happened, in light of the fact that I’ve used this blog to write long eulogies for people I didn’t even know personally. So I’ll say this. My sister was an extraordinary person. She did a lot of goods things. Here’s a link to her obituary.

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/washingtonpost/obituary.aspx?pid=173685731