Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood • Blade Runner Sketch- book • Kemper Norton: New Album • Maiden’s Steve Harris, The RS Interview

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ENTRY! We were pleasantly shocked by Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood. Nostalgic without tripping into sentimentality, outrageous but sidestepping the obnoxious, the enfant terrible’s 9th film is nothing less than a joy. Leonardo DiCaprio plays a fading TV star in 1969 L.A., aided and backed-up by Brad Pitt, his stunt-double, wingman, and de facto best friend. Also on hand is Margot Robbie as DiCaprio’s new neighbor, Sharon Tate(!), a very tricky maneuver that Tarantino handles with the gentle grace of a fairy tale. And hence the title. It’s a bold move but it surprisingly satisfies. Once Upon a Time delivers all the pleasure of a good novel written by a trickster who has at last revealed a tender heart.

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Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood is streaming now on Amazon Prime.

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ENTRY! Thank the Gods for John Coulthart, the artist, designer, and occasional writer who dazzles us each week with his Weekend Links. This time he wakes us from our stupor with the long out of print Blade Runner Sketchbook! It was more than just flying cars, kids.

 

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The Blade Runner Sketchbook is available at The Internet Archive.

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ENTRY! Kemper Norton’s new album, Brunton Calciner

Nobody does contemporary British neo-folk goth experimental better than Kemper. But don’t take my word for it, give him a listen. And while we’re talking music…

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Iron Maiden.

 

ENTRY! Maiden’s mastermind Steve Harris speaks to Rolling Stone!

You’re also still doing “The Number of the Beast,” which got you in hot water with the far right in America in the Eighties for its satanic imagery. How did that one come together?
It was things like watching The Omen but it was more inspired by a poem [by Robert Burns] called “Tam o’ Shanter.” I’ve just always liked reading books and watching horror films.

Full Interview HERE.

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Happy All Souls, AKA Saturday November 2; HEXES Final Issue Update; Recent Films + Books + More…

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Intro!

HELLO, hello! May we please go vertigo? We will accept your silence as an implicit yes so here we go, shuffling through the wrinkled Snickers and Twix wrappers and uneaten candy corn of Halloween, another Samhain come and gone, sad but true but oh babies, don’t you panic! By the light of the night it’ll all be all right, we’ll get you a satanic mechanic…

Entry! HEXES The Final Issue, aka The Final Hex is shaping up to be the thing of things, an issue compiled entirely of original material solicited exclusively for this issue. You might want to re-read that sentence, because it’s quite the break from normal operations in HEXES land. Ya see, the modus operandi usually went like this: The Creep in the Art Department would find an image so compelling he just HAD to turn it into a magazine (or webzine, if we’re splitting atoms) cover, and then it was over to the editor (moi) to scour that week’s internet offerings for an engaging TOC and links, featuring clips of text and very pretty pics, and that was that. There were exceptions, of course, most notably in the “themed” issues, such as THE VAMPIRE SPECIAL and HELL AT LAST and DEATH BY SOUND. But even so, any given issue of HEXES was compiled entirely of preexisting material.

Not so for The Final Hex. The final issue will consist entirely of original pictures and words commissioned specifically for the bid bad swan song. Big artists, Big writers.  Behold, The Creep’s call for cover models…

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Of course it’s internationally recognized! We have readers in the UK, Europe, Asia, Russia. Just sayin’.

At any rate, The Final Hex will be the Bees’ Knees, the Show of Shows. But we already know of at least one feature that won’t be included…

Entry! SABBATH by Nick Mamatas…

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…will be published by Tor later this month. I had originally planned on reviewing said tome in The Final Hex. However, once I began approaching certain artists and writers for the above mentioned original material, I realized they needed a doable deadline (which is December 31st, curious scribblers). SABBATH pubs in a few weeks, so my review will coincide with the release. Perhaps Nick will agree to an excerpt for inclusion in the Swan Song. Who knows? In the meantime, stay glued to these pages…

EH_pevCWwAIhWSvSpecial thanks to Tor for the ARC

Entries! Current (and currently favorite) Book: MOON by Oliver Morton. It’s a masterpiece, and Morton is nothing less than a poet.

“Oliver Morton explores how the ways we have looked at the Moon have shaped our perceptions of the Earth: from the controversies of early astronomers such as van Eyck and Galileo, to the Cold War space race, to the potential use of the Moon as a stepping stone for further space exploration.” And so much more. This book belongs on every Lunaphile’s shelf.

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Followed by the very best heroic action film we’ve seen in way too many Moons, ALITA, Battle Angel! 

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This movie kicks ass, man, putting all the Marvel shit to shame… Wait, what? What’s that you say? Ah. The answer is Nnnno. I am in no way prejudiced or predisposed to sing Alita’s praises. Yes, I loved the original manga and 90’s era anime, but if anything that love would make me even more critical. Example: I liked this “live-action” version of Alita far more than I liked the 2010 live-action version of Space Battleship Yamato. There are solid reasons for Alita’s potency, as it was directed by Robert Rodriguez with a screenplay by James Cameron, who also served as producer with Jon Landau… um, these guys know what the fuck they’re doing. They deliver the goods.

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And finally

Entry! For all the limp scarecrows.

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2018’s “DAS BOOT” SERIES…

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… is shockingly excellent. Currently streaming on hulu. That is all. Carry on.

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Mighty Denis Johnson, My Hero and “Contemporary,” RIP, Part II

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THIS POST IS INEXCUSABLY LATE. IT WAS A ROUGH SUMMER. IT’S BEEN A ROUGHER FALL. ANYWAY, LET’S ROCK.

Hey, warning: copious name-dropping ensues in the following text. I can’t help it. This is my Denis Johnson story: fact, not fiction. Denis wrote about weirdos and losers burning at the edge of town, weirdos and losers burning at the edge of everything. I’m one of those weirdos and losers. Denis saw right through me. His sentences blasted my shadow on the concrete. Here we go.

IN THE FALL OF 1986 I was 21 years old and trying to write a dystopian novel called RUIN. (A dystopian novel! Jesus Christ, what a concept!) Anyway, my immediate readers—friends, slackers, poseurs, weirdos, losers—they all shook their heads and said, “Who the fuck is going to want to read this?”

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Well, my teachers read RUIN and liked it. My teachers at the time were Peggy Rambach, onetime wife of Andre Dubus, and Robert Waukenon of The Art Institute of Boston. And they both said to me, independent of each other, “Go read Denis Johnson.”

God, I wish Denis could read this. He’d be amused.

Let me clarify: when Peggy Rambach and Robert Waukenon told me to go read Denis Johnson, they were in NO WAY likening my sentences to Denis Johnson’s. BUT they recognized what I was aiming for—the darkness, the yearning, the passion.

Peggy recommended that I should read Denis’ first novel, ANGELS. I had to special-order it. The special order took months. It was worth the wait.

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“Dazzling and savage.” Indeed. Denis Johnson’s ANGELS ripped me to shreds. SHREDS. What a book. What words. Holy shit, Peggy Rambach had ushered me into an arena I wasn’t fit to enter.

Waukenon suggested I read Denis’ second novel, FISKADORO.

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Like the rest of the world, I didn’t like FISKADORO. “Curse of the second novel,” which is a myth I do not buy into, it’s nonsense. For example, Iian Banks’ second novel, Walking On Glass is infinitely superior to The Wasp Factory. But at the end of the day FISKADORO just didn’t work. As much as I wanted to like it, I didn’t.

But then…

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“Daring” is putting it mildly. I’ve never read a text written by a man more convincing in conjuring of the voice of a woman than The Stars at Noon. What… balls. no screwy pun intended. I wouldn’t have even tried such a feat.

BUT THEN—

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JESUS’ SON hit the reading/writing community like an ELE (Extinction Level Event) slamming the planet. Suddenly, everybody fucking loved Denis Johnson! Writers, readers, and editors whom I loved and respected were all over him like Uncle’s Day at a whorehouse, an indelicate but accurate comparison. It was sick. But no one made me sicker and madder than Gordon fucking Lish.

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For those not in the know, Gordon Lish’s chief claim to fame is to have “discovered” Raymond Carver— a claim Carver himself came to vehemently refute, going as far as commanding Random House to forbid Lish from editing his final books.

Lish was my editor, my publisher, and my “employer,” ha. I would show up at his office  early in the day and do all his slave work, and all the other editors in Random House (Knopf, baby) would walk by Lish’s office and shout, “GIVE BOUCHER SOME MONEY, GORDON.”

He never did.

Anyway, when Denis Johnson hit the planet like an ELE around 1991, 1992, 1993, Lish was THE BIGGEST poseur, like he was in on Denis from the start. He wasn’t. Not even close. Which really incredibly pissed me off—Lish was just following the fucking crowd, the same way way he did a year before when Cormac McCarthy made it really big with ALL THE PRETTY HORSES and Lish crowed and crowed that McCarthy made Faulkner look like “a punk.” (He didn’t. Not even close.)

Which led me to an important realization: despite Lish’s self-delusion that he was a trail-blazer, Gordon Lish revealed himself as a follower, a fucking privileged white boy coming from money and literary snobbery— a liar, a faker, a ghost.

Denis Johnson was a real man, man. He ate, bled, shat, fucked and wept like a real man.

These are all of his books:

https://www.amazon.com/Denis-Johnson/e/B000AQ3FL0/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1508181439&sr=8-2-ent

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Crying as I finish this. Goddamn it. God fucking damn it.

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Supergirl in Bondage (a photo essay by yours truly) NSFW

I know. Today was Wonder Woman Day. And this was by far the most charming photo:

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BUT THEN! I was accused of a crime I didn’t commit! It was awful! Stupid bathroom bs in my stupid boardinghouse! The landlord looked like this, the late (and mightily missed) DENIS JOHNSON:

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(God, Denis. I can’t believe you’re gone. I wish we’d met, I wish we’d shared a smoke and a drink at 9am and talked about god.)

So anyway.

I was so outraged! I was furious! Accused of something I did not commit! First World Problem: so many men in prison are currently incarcerated for crimes they did not commit! So I stormed around, grimacing, making fists, sneering at the sky (like a Michael Moorcock hero), until I realized…

I needed to tie up my super-powered girlfriends.

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All of my girlfriends had super powers. All of them. Why else would I have been with them? Because they had powers that dazzled me.

My ex-wife, for example, is a 4th degree Black Belt. Karate. Our second night together? She put on black tights, barefoot, and slashed around her (very small) kitchen, cutting the air w/ Sais like fucking Elektra, and I was like OH MY FUCKING CHRIST I’M GOING TO MARRY THIS GIRL.

I did. We got married. She had super powers. ‘Nuff said.

My sisters had super powers. My mother had super powers. Every woman I’ve ever been attracted to has had super powers.

So, like a dope, like a complete weakling—I needed to bind the pretty sexy girls I liked and wanted and needed, I needed to tie her up

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I didn’t realize this until later—way later. She was so powerful. Bronze bare skin my hand ached to touch, like an exploding sun.

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She will wake, she will rise, she will break free. (And I’ll probably be wicked embarrassed by this post tomorrow, but fuck it. I love my super-powered girlfriends.)

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The Fisher King: “Forgive Me.”

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Wake Up Wake Up Wake Up

Fan vid by MrMarrs. It’s really excellent. Check it out.

The ghost of Denis Johnson stands across the street, coins over his eyes. Soon, everybody’s going to be telling his story. I have only one story to tell about Denis, but it’s a fairly potent tale. Stay tuned.

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New Mix: Comes The Rain

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tracklist—rain

For My Girl

Comes The Rain

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That Feeling When it is 7pm EST on a Black Monday and She is Grateful for Your Attentions

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Photo credit TK.

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i am mighty drax, hear me roar

Happy Monday.

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