Hey there horror fans,

Another short excerpt from “The Poet” this week. I feel obligated that to let you all know that this section has some foul language and a nasty rape scene, so make sure the eyes of all tiny horror fans are re-directed to something awesome like Gremlins, Ghostbusters, or one of my boyhood favorites Monster Squad!  

I hope you all enjoy. I wrote this piece a while back and have always remembered it fondly. It is not perfect, but I feel that due to its content it does have some thread of relevance here at HOTHB.

Best,

Jim

 

When the smoke stopped rising John took a moment to savor the clean air. Curiosity got the best of him and against his better judgment he dared to peek over the thick branch. His visitors, whom he had identified as a man and a woman based on their occasional coughing were oblivious to his presence. After peering over the ledge he saw a man that he did not recognize. The man stood bundled in a heavy black overcoat that appeared to have a liner made from a plastic trash bag his face was hardened and sculpted by the elements but his deep set eyes shown with the vulnerability and constant fear of a captive animal. The woman was someone he had seen before in the park, John was pretty sure her name was Charlotte. What he was sure of was that she was one of the few unfortunate women indigenous to this park and that because of the terrible ratio of men to women she always had to be on guard, ready to fend off unwanted sexual advances.

“Can you light me up?” she said to her companion as she put a crumpled cigarette in her mouth.

The man dug in his jacket pocket. Emerged with a lighter and lit Charlotte’s cigarette.  

“Give me some of that?” He asked.

“Fair enough,” Charlotte smiled, took one last drag, and offered it to the man. “Thanks again for the buzz. I had fun.”

The man shoved his hand in his pocket and leaned against the tree. He sucked a few greedy hits off of the cigarette then thrust his hand out, offering it back to Charlotte.

“Here ya’ go,” the man said as heavy tentacles of smoke crept from his mouth and framed his face.

John watched from his branch as Charlotte smiled and leaned in to take the cigarette with her mouth. The man placed it gently between her lips. As she took it the man grabbed a fistful of wispy hair, and pulled her down. She screamed instinctively and the half smoked cigarette fell to the grass. The man pulled a folding knife from his pocket and opened it with a flick of his wrist.

The man held the blade to Charlotte’s face. She was crying now. He traced her jawline with the point, dropped it to her neck, and then to the swell of her breast.

“Give me some of that too,” he said through a grin like acid.

Charlotte looked up and desperately searched for the night sky through the dense tree canopy, she remembered how she used to look up at it as a promise of openness, a promise of freedom. She looked up at the stars that used to re-confirm to her that God was watching her from above. She focused on one, solitary star and prayed that God couldn’t see her as she was now. Charlotte the defiled one. The dirty one.

The animal sound of rape wrapped around John twice as heavy as the crack smoke ever had. A tiny part of John wanted to explode. To intervene. To save. John pushed this tiny part back, he knew that it would just bring him pain or death. He gripped his belt tight as if to hold this courageous spark inside. Closed his eyes and took deep calming breaths in time with Charlotte’s sobs. As his consciousness began to break under the immense weight of his exhaustion his hand fell near the edge of the branch.

Charlotte focused on the branch above as her rapist thrust into her over and over and over again. Movement caught her eye as John’s hand fell limply over the branch.

 “Hel–”, she choked as her rapist’s dirty hand fell over her mouth. He pulled her roughly to face him.

“You do just what the Sergeant tells you, and I just might make you my bitch,” the Sergeant pulled her hair as thick globs of spit escaped between his rasped words and flung across her face. “You do want to live, don’t you?”

She nodded after a bit of hesitation, and felt disgusted that she didn’t have the guts to tell the truth. She had hoped for death for some time now. After all that has happened to her, Charlotte lowered her head, and prayed that somehow, someway, her wish would come true.

Hey there horror fans!

I hope you enjoy the opening paragraphs of a piece of my short fiction. It may not be horror in the classic sense, but what is more horrific than being the only sane homeless person in a park full of degenerates? That is where John Kaplan, the protagonist of “The Poet” finds himself.

Hope you all enjoy! If you do tell all of your friends as I am hoping to publish the complete work to iTunes or amazon as a cheap or free enovela!

John Kaplin pulled his tattered jacket around him as he looked at the city skyline. The light shown through line after line of tiny windows, they looked like zippers of fire against the night sky. He thought about what it was like to be warm and safe like the people in the far off buildings and how long it had been since he had been like them. He couldn’t quite recall how events had played out to land him in a city park late at night with only a dirty jacket and a tree canopy to shield him from the frigid probing fingers of the November night.

The wind whispered through the branches of his ‘arbor retreat’ and the cold beat into his reddened and chapped face. The name ‘arbor retreat’ made the idea of vagrancy a little easier to accept for John, much better than simply, “I live in the park.” Or, “I’m homeless, but don’t like the shelter.” The ‘arbor retreat’ made him think of a condo development set back from a university or suburban area with a nice dividing wall of lush, mature trees. The type of development that when residents were asked where they lived by a friend or co-worker they would simply smile, puff up their chest and say, “The Arbor Retreat,” with an unequivocal amount of pride.

John’s ‘arbor retreat’ was none of the things he imagined and he knew it. Facts as they were, John lived in a tree located in the city park downtown that people like the man he used to be would avoid having to pass at all costs, especially at night. They would avoid it because it was full of people like the man John was now. The broken, the desperate, and the hopeless. These people were John’s new neighbors and the branch ten feet off the ground that John belted himself to every night was like the divider of lush, mature trees in his imagined ‘arbor retreat’. Every night he would wait for sleep and prey that the deviants of the night would pass under him, oblivious.

Sometimes John would awaken to the flicking of cheap lighters as a vagrant or group of vagrants huddled beneath his tree to escape from the wind. Tonight was no exception, John heard the grind of a lighter wheel against flint. Seconds later he was greeted by the acrid smoke of a crack pipe. The smoke sat suspended for an instant, then began to coil around his branch and claw into his nostrils. He took shallow, quiet breaths. The burnt popcorn smell made him want to vomit. Just as he thought he couldn’t hold back the bile burning his esophagus a gust of wind expelled the white cloud into the inky night. This was the only time John was ever thankful for the wind.

I was checking out my google search results and found this post from my old blogger account! Not too horror related, but I think you all might find it interesting. If you are one of the five people that visited my old blog and read it earlier this year I apologize:)
 
 
***
The world of publishing has changed drastically in the last century. The printed word is becoming more of a thing of the past as e-books and audio recordings become more of an everyday alternative. As a result the marketing procedures and promotional mediums have changed just as dramatically. The science fiction genre is no exception as the technologies prophesized in the infancy of science fiction become a reality. Writers must take the current publishing environment into consideration when constructing a marketing plan for their works.
            Throughout the 1940’s science fiction legend, Issac Asimov published his short stories in pulp serials like Astounding Science Fiction. Some of his most popular works were the stories that would later be collected to become the novel I, Robot.  The stories were compiled and published in the early 1950’s and were advertised in the same science fiction magazines in which the short stories originally appeared (randomhouse.com). According to the author, the science fiction community was tight knit and the returns expected by these authors were less than lucrative until the 1970’s. This can be attributed to the limited print run of the magazines and their eventual demise due to advances in technology, specifically the television in the 1960’s (wiredforbooks.org). Despite the rough start science fiction has grown to be one of the most popular genres in modern literature; people like Issac Asimov and Robert A. Heinline have become renowned for their innovation and unique visions of the future.
            In 2006 Daniel Suarez, a systems analyst in the Los Angeles area had realized much of the technological visions of early science fiction and was inspired to present the current reach of existing technologies in his novel, Daemon.  Initially the novel was marketed under the pen name Leinad Zeraus due to the fact that the author was concerned about how his existing clients would react to the content of Daemon. Suarez was unable to find a publisher for his work so he turned to self-publishing and his vast knowledge of the internet (bookbanter.net). His marketing approach was unique to say the least, Suarez promoted the book to technology websites and into the blogosphere. As a result his debut novel received endorsements from Craig’s List founder Craig Newmark, Google’s Rick Klau and the white house cyber security chief Billy O’Brien. After receiving rave reviews on the limitedly distributed novel Suarez was given a two book contract with a major publishing house and has had the film rights optioned by Paramount studios (Memmott).
            The change in the industry as a whole can be seen in the processes that authors must take to make themselves and their works marketable. Many of the most common approaches to modern marketing were not available to the pioneers of the industry and most of the original advertising and promotion mediums were made obsolete by the advent of the internet. Technology seems to have complicated the publishing process, but these complications are a small price to pay for the increased content available to consumers. However, regardless of time period quality works always seem to rise to the top, becoming part of our beloved lexicon.
 
 
 
 
 
Works Cited
Memmott, Carol. “Tech Thriller ‘Daemon’ Rises from the Underground – USATODAY.com.” USA Today. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Jan. 2013. <http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/life/books/news/2009-01-05-daemon_N.htm&gt;.
“BookBanter Interview with Daniel Suarez.” BookBanter. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Jan. 2013. <http://www.bookbanter.net/episodes.html&gt;.
“I, Robot by Isaac Asimov.” Random House, Inc. Academic Resources | I, Robot by Isaac Asimov. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Jan. 2013. <http://www.randomhouse.com/acmart/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780553382563&gt;.
“Isaac Asimov Interview with Don Swaim.” Wired for Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Jan. 2013. <http://www.wiredforbooks.org/isaacasimov/index.html&gt;.

Those crazy kids!

Posted: July 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

As I sit here watching Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 masterpiece, Psycho I find myself entertained. In fact I find myself transported back to a time when I was eight or nine years old and up way past my bedtime with a blue and white “fuzzy cat” blanket pulled up to my chin. I remember seeing the black life’s blood of Vera Miles coiling down the drain like an oily black serpent and thinking, “what the hell is wrong with that guy? Why would he just kill her?” I can’t say that it kept me up that night or the next, but I know that I didn’t want to take a shower for a month or two, the point is that the visuals stuck with me and the possibilities of my own personal version of Norman Bates were always lurking.  Flash forward to 1975 and the terror has moved from the shower to the unstoppable force from below the sea, Jaws was even more terrifying to me, I couldn’t even swim in a pool without the light on in fear of having my tiny body ripped in two. I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Jaws as it was one of the first “scary” movies that I got to experience with my oldest daughter. I remember her eyes, big and focused on the screen. I couldn’t wait to ask her if she was scared when the credits started to roll and she gave me a wise-ass smile and said that she just wanted to see what happened. She wasn’t even scared, not even a little bit! Given, she is a few years older than I was when I first saw the film, but I have to admit I was expecting a little more of a reaction.

My thoughts immediately went to some of the new wave horror that has been pooping up…oh sorry Freudian slip… popping up over the last ten or so years. By this I am talking mostly about the shock and awe inspired movies in the style of the Saw and Hostel franchises, that in my opinion are a small step above pornography for vampires. The point is that things have changed and the definition of horror has changed along with it.

Don’t get me wrong, of course I think that gore has a place in scary movies, but when it drives the story more than the characters and the plot combined I have to take a pass on that film.

I do pose a question to all of you horror fans out there; are modern viewers going to have to settle for this new flat-plotted status quo or are we ready for a renaissance in the horror business?   

Hello everyone,

I was terrified to realize that it had been nearly two months since I last posted to Horrors of the Horror Business (HOTHB). I wish I could say that I was far away, without computer access, or that Stephen King and Neil Gaiman invited me to a secret writing camp deep in the heart of Transylvania. Of course, none of these things were the cause of my absence; in fact I was barely aware of my being absent. With a re-write of my most recent screenplay, the busy season at my day-job, as well of the constant blessing and obligation of family and friends I was living my life in a blur.

Many great artists have their own take on writer’s block, some think it can be debilitating, others think that it is no more than a myth. I have to say that I fall into the later category; but somehow I allowed my HOTHB content to be blocked! I have been putting words on the page but my poor wordpress account has been left alone in the cold.

Included are a couple of links for overcoming writer’s block in all of its devious forms. http://grammar.about.com/od/yourwriting/a/wblockquotes.htm

http://www.stevenpressfield.com/the-war-of-art/

And of course some advice from Neil Gaiman!

Until next time Horror Fans!

Jim

Hey everyone,

Sorry for the long time between posts, I have been pretty swamped with a few things. I noticed that I have gotten a lot of views on my post about Shakespeare’s use of catharsis. I have decided to post an essay I wrote a while back on King Lear…

For those of you that follow my blog for the horror content, I apologize, but if you give it a look you may be surprised! I mean they rip a guys eyeballs out while he’s still alive! And people thought Saw and Hostile were original….meeeh

–JIm

The Ties that Bind and the Ones that Cause Pain:

King Lear by William Shakespeare is a tragic tale of betrayal, regret, and personal torment. The title character of the play is an aged king who gives away his kingdom and power to his two disloyal daughters, Goneril and Regan, who deceive Lear with fallacious statements of love and devotion.  Cordelia would not participate in this masquerade of false homages and in his rage King Lear banishes the only daughter who truly cares for him. In a series of complex plays for power, family betrayals, and human cruelty Lear must fight to keep his own sanity while everything he has ever known is taken away from him. In the tragic tale of King Lear Shakespeare tries to demonstrate that the people that one cherishes can cause them the most pain and that all the power in the world cannot save them from the grip of human cruelty.

Lear is portrayed as a strong and callous ruler in the opening scene of the play. The King seems to be uncompromising and when he talks people seem to listen. The gathering that Lear calls for his daughters and their suitors is a blatant competition. Lear, who seems to love all three of his daughters has a special place in his heart for Cordelia, the youngest and fairest. At this meeting Lear declares that they all proclaim their love for him, “which of you shall say we say doth love us most?” (Act I, Scene 1, 53). Goneril and Regan both claim that their love for him is vast and Lear gladly accepts their favors and grants them each a third of his kingdom. When it comes time for Cordelia to answer she replies, “unhappy that I am, I cannot heave my heart into my mouth. I love your majesty according to my bond; no more nor less” (Scene I, Act 2, 94-96). Outraged he banishes her and she leaves with the King of France, who she has been promised to.  Upon Cordelia’s banishment the remaining two sisters begin to connive and plot against their father, they think his age is causing him to deteriorate and that, “they must do something, and i’ the heat,” (Act I, Scene 1, 312) to ensure that his failing judgment will not affect them, directly.

The major subplot in King Lear also pertains to the love and the potential of betrayal that family has on an individual. The Earl of Gloucester is similarly deceived by his bastard son, Edmund. Edmund cleverly stashes a letter in his pocket upon the entrance of his father knowing that his father would demand to see it. The letter has been fabricated to appear as if it came from Edgar, Gloucester’s legitimate son. The letter’s content is of scandal and betrayal against him, “O villain, villain! His very opinion in the letter! Abhorred villain!” (Act I, Scene 2, 79-80). Edmund then guilefully plays the other side of the conflict to Edgar, “Brother, I advise you to the best; go armed. I am no honest man if there be any good meaning towards you. I have told you what I have seen and heard; but faintly, nothing like the image and horror of it. Pray you, away,” (Act I, Scene 2, 188-192). The ball is in motion, Edmund’s play for power is pitting his father, the Earl of Gloucester against Edgar, his legitimate heir.

As the story unfolds in both the main plot line and the biggest subplot the idea of betrayal and the exploitation of family trust is truly taken to the next level. Lear, now retired from his kingly duties takes his entourage of one hundred men and his beloved fool to stay in the homestead of Goneril and her husband, the Duke of Albany. Goneril turns on him quickly and demands that he and his men leave, “you strike my people, and your disorder’d rabble make servants of their betters,” (Act I, Scene 3, 276-277). Lear is devastated that his own flesh and blood would turn on him so easily, “I am ashamed that thou hast power to shake my manhood thus; that these hot tears which break from me perforce, should make thee worth them. Blasts and fogs upon thee,” (Act 1, Scene 4, 316-322). Lear flees to Regan’s home in the castle of the Duke of Cornwall, after telling Regan of her sister’s terrible treatment of him she replies, “I pray you, father, being weak, seem so. If till the expiration of your month, you will return and sojourn with my sister, dismissing half your train, come then to me,” (Act II, Scene 3, 204-207). Lear cannot believe his ears, both of his remaining daughters have turned against him and seek to shame him and strip away what little power he has left. It is at this point that King Lear begins his terrible descent into madness and takes to a life of vagrancy that is at least free from the hatred of his heathen daughters. Seeking shelter from a terrible storm, a storm that in many ways mimics the turmoil in his own head, Lear and his party stumble across Edgar in the guise of a beggar named Poor Tom.

Edgar has taken such a clever disguise that his own father, the Earl of Gloucester does not recognize him as he says, “our flesh and blood has grown vile, my lord, that it doth hate what gets it,” (Act III, Scene 4, 149-151).When Gloucester comes to rescue Lear from the cold he shows his true loyalty, “Though their injunction be to bar my doors, and let this tyrannous night take hold upon you, yet I have ventured to seek you out, and bring you where both fire and food is ready,” (Act III, Scene 4, 154-159). The saying that no good deed goes unpunished certainly holds true for the ill-fated Gloucester, The Earl of Cornwall, under the guidance of Regan and Goneril brutally rips the eyes from Gloucester’s head. Edgar acts as a contrast to the two villainous sisters and his nobility mirrors that of Cordelia who despite her father’s cruel words never stopped loving him. When Edgar sees his blinded father being led through the street by an old man, he insists that he be his new guide. This show of love and support to Gloucester, who had wrongfully shunned him is something that really reveals his noble character while at the same time making Edmund appear to be viler in comparison.

Edgar is not the only cast out child to make amends with their father, Cordelia arrives in England to stop what her sisters are doing. After finding Lear in bad shape upon her arrival Cordelia pleads, “O my dear father! Restoration hang thy medicine on my lips and let this kiss repair those violent harms that my two sisters have in thy reference made!” (Act IV, Scene 7, 24-27).  Lear knows that he has wronged her and tries to make amends with, “You must bear with me. Pray you now, forget and forgive. I am old and foolish,” (Act IV, Scene 7, 84-86). In the play’s final scenes Goneril and Regan bicker about who Edmund, Gloucester’s illegitimate son really is in love with as he has been forming a relationship with both women in his play for power. Goneril poisons Regan and then takes her own life, yet another example of close loved ones having the ability to connive and harm with reckless abandon. Edmund orders Cordelia to a quick execution and Lear, now completely mad with sorrow dies next to her lifeless body. The deposed king dies broken hearted at the feet of the men that stand to inherit England and lead it into a new generation.

The resolution and intertwining of both story arcs provides huge implications on the root of family loyalties, personal honor, and the fate of the entire country of England. In the plays original Quarto version it had an additional scene that made the character of the Duke of Albany more of a major character, in the Folio version more emphasis is placed on Edgar and the young generation of leadership that he represents (Carson).  The very portrayal of the madness of King Lear is an interesting and profound achievement for Shakespeare according to Mike Ellison in his article, Literary Analysis Comes to Lear. Ellison states that, “having got more and more deeply into Shakespeare, it is becoming clear that he had a lot of knowledge of what goes on in human nature and how to use that knowledge therapeutically”. The madness of Lear could have been said to be the cause of his daughter’s betraying him, and the need for parental love could be said to have brought Cordelia back to rescue her father.

In conclusion William Shakespeare’s King Lear is a tragic tale of one man’s battle with betrayal and his own sanity. A recurring and powerful theme of the story is that anyone is capable of cruelty and when the cruelty comes from the hands of a loved one it is all the more painful. King Lear’s daughters were so hungry for power that they would strip the old king of what little he had left and Edmund was so jealous and callous that he would start the chain of events that would find his father blinded and dishonored. Shakespeare successfully demonstrates that the people that Lear cherished the most caused him the most pain and that all the power that he had possessed could not save him from the betrayal and wickedness of his own flesh and blood.

Works Cited

Carson, Christie. “The Quarto of King Lear.” Expert Views on the Quarto of King Lear. British                                                                            Library, n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2013. <http://www.bl.uk/treasures/shakespeare/lear.html&gt;.

Ellison, Mike. “Literary Analysis Comes to Lear.” The Guardian (pre-1997 Fulltext): Jun 18   1994. ProQuest. Web. 6 Apr. 2013. EPub.

Shakespeare, WIlliam. “King Lear.” Great Books of the Western World Vol. 27. Ed. William G.         Clark and William A. Wright. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1952. 244-283. Print.

As I was re-writing one of my earlier screenplays this last week I came to a point that I wanted my main protagonist to have wicked inner tension. The type of internal conflict that a person can only have if they are making a decision that can completely change or in some cases even end their life. I thought to myself, “how can I get the maximum effect while still maintaining the absolute present tense in my script and keeping the whole thing fast paced and linear?”

I sat back in my chair for a moment and contemplated picking up one of the Walking Dead trade paper backs that I have been meaning to read, but I knew that was just the ever present and incredibly evil goblin of an entity that we writers have come to know as distraction. I decided to go get a drink of water instead and as I passed my movie collection my eyes were drawn to the cult classic (and one of my personal favorites), Fight Club.  I know how Tyler Durden creates tension in films; he splices single frames of pornography in them! With the thought of single frame usage my mind was immediately transported to the DVD release of the 1973 horror masterpiece, The Exorcist. The single frame inserts (in hindsight they may have been 2 or 3 frames) of Captain Howdy’s face against a black backdrop were pretty damn scary, mostly because they broke up the linear aspect of the story for an instant and gave our sub-conscious’ something to chew on for the whole rest of the movie! I remember thinking of that creepy bastards face more than the reverse crab walking Regan after I left the theater.

This technique has been employed in several other films with great success and can also help show the thoughts and inner workings of characters, which is normally taboo in the concise format of the traditional screenplay. The way I chose to employ these QUICK FLASHES in my script were slightly reminiscent of Arnold’s ride with Simon, the used car sales men in True Lies. As Simon talks about how hot Arnold’s wife is (and how dickless he is) the writer uses classic physical indications to show Arnold’s growing rage, such as the narrowing eyes, tensing of the muscles, and the white knuckled grip on the steering wheel.  None of these physical actions could portray his anger as well as the three second clip of Arnold killing the man in one punch, causing his bloody head to dangle lifelessly in the back corner of the convertible… Classic.