No Time in the Present

So many updates, and no time to write it all down.

I could tell you about my work on the new animated TV show ToonMarty and link you to some of my episodes that have shown up on YouTube.

I could tell you about my trip to Paris and all the morbid history I got to hang out with.

I could tell you about my last three appearances on Cinema Smackdown and my pending chat about the Fantasia film fest tonight at 7:00 on CJLO.

I could even tell you how the sequel to Necropolis is coming along.

But mostly my time is occupied by a new/old project that requires me to produce nearly 300 pages of reformatted art—hopefully before the end of the year.

I’ll give you a clue what that involves.

Observant readers may extrapolate additional information from one of the file names appearing in that screenshot.

Yes, it’s for real this time. There’s a contract and an advance payment I’ve already spent.

What the hell have I let myself in for?

In honour of the passing of one of my personal favourite film directors, George Romero, newsletter subscribers will be receiving a brand-new exclusive short story—my one and only foray into flesh-eating zombie fiction. Sign up now to get it with the next newsletter, along with other unique content and exclusives.

Assisted Career Suicide

So Kathy Griffin posted a picture of herself holding up a bloody severed Trump head and I had one thought, and one thought only when I first saw it.

Meh.

I wasn’t shocked, I wasn’t appalled. I work in gallows humour. You have to go a hundred times darker than that before I even notice things are getting a tad morbid. The real sin of the photo, to my mind, was that it wasn’t funny. All it seemed to say was, “I hate Trump. I wish him dead.” Well, no shit. You’ve long since made that clear. Posing for a picture that looks like a publicity still from a low-rent 1970s giallo horror film doesn’t add anything to that narrative. I might have hoped for something biting, satirical, viciously sardonic. Instead, Kathy Griffin throws out something half-assed, spur-of-the-moment, ill-conceived, and witless. That’s kind of her shtick, I know. I (used to) watch her do CNN’s trainwreck New Year’s show with Anderson Cooper every year, and wonder when she would cross a line that would get her fired. Pretending to blow Cooper on live television didn’t do it. Screaming vulgarities at Ryan Seacrest didn’t work. Swearing at hecklers over the air failed. It seemed to be an unshakable gig. She could do no wrong—or at least could do nothing wrong enough to get her ousted.

I turned the virtual page and moved on, with a vague parting notion, “Some people are really going to hate this.”

And then everything blew up. Twenty-four hours later, the CNN gig was gone, standup appearances were cancelled, endorsements were dropped. Plus the Secret Service, which is obliged to take any perceived threat to the president deadly serious, was looking into it. The family Trump, prone to announcing any fleeting notion or passing of wind, took to social media to express their displeasure. All to be expected, really. I mean, after all, what did she think was going to happen?

A video apology followed. Griffin made one of her infrequent appearances without a ton of makeup, probably judiciously trying to appear more vulnerable and sincere by doing it au naturel, without the usual war paint. It wasn’t an apology to Trump himself, but it was an apology to people who were offended. And it seemed pretty sincere. It seemed to work.

And then, like manna from heaven, Kathy Griffin was given the greatest gift a foot-in-mouth celebrity could ever hope for. Covfefe happened, and the whole world collectively decided they’d rather make jokes about that than futilely try to find the funny in Griffin’s gory photo shoot.

Give it the weekend, and it would have all blown over nicely. Sure, a lot of paying work would have dried up, but Kathy Griffin would have been in the clear. On the heels of the vitally important political covfefe event, something else would have inevitably happened in the world, and by this time next week no one would remember or care about bloody head props. Griffin could then safely slink back to the ranks of the D-list.

But, alas, no.

She made two colossal mistakes. First: Kathy Griffin employed the services of Lisa Bloom, daughter of Gloria Allred and every bit the media-circus bottomfeeder her mother is. Second: she called a press conference to dredge it all up again. And not just any press conference. The single worst clusterfuck of a press conference I’ve ever witnessed. There were tears, there was laughter (forced and performed by mouthpiece Bloom), there was indignation, there were more insults for Trump and his family, and there were cries of victimhood.

You can try to sit through it if, like me, you’re a sucker for punishment.

At this point, the real villain here is no long Kathy Griffin, or Donald Trump, or the vulture media, or the skittish sponsors, or CNN, the worst media outlet in America today. It’s Lisa Bloom. Any lawyer worth a shit would have advised her client to lay low, take the hit, let the apology sink in, let the public move on, and let Trump get distracted by something new. I mean, hell, he’s the goddamn President of the United States. He may be petty and vindictive, but he’s got other stuff on his plate.

But that’s not what happened. Because Lisa Bloom is a terrible terrible hack lawyer who wanted to get her face front and centre and ride this celebrity shitstorm into the next stratosphere of her gruesome parasitical poisonous career. Rather than do her job properly, she let her client summon the media for an announcement and a Q&A. She may have even suggested it. And in the process, she let Kathy Griffin keep digging that grave for her career.

Give Griffin a lean year, and I thought she might have been able to bounce back from this unscathed. The story would have flared up briefly on New Year’s Eve as those few who still watch CNN asked, “Where’s Kathy?” There would be a reminder of what went down last spring, and then they’d cut away to a drunken Don Lemon talking about getting a Trump tattoo on his dick—again. Same old, same old. Before you knew it, she’d crop up in some supporting role on a sitcom, or a bit part in a movie. You’d hear she was doing standup in casinos and dive bars once more, and by the time Trump was running for re-election, she’d be back doing her ginger Joan Rivers act, and would even be getting away with a new round of jabs at The Donald’s expense.

But after this? It’s going to be a long hard road back. Michael Richards hard. And for what? She shot off her own foot and it did no damage to Trump. It gave him a boost.

Some people have come out trying to defend that decapitation photo as art. Provocative art, but art. And maybe is it. But it’s bad art. The difference between good art and bad art is that good art stays on message and accomplishes a goal. Bad art gets tossed off, lets the chips fall where they may, and has no clear message or intent. Like a grenade tossed into a room with the pin out. That’ll sure provoke a reaction, but mostly it will make a mess.

Try not to be standing in the blast radius when it goes off.

NB: If you’re a B, C, or D-list celebrity who has just committed career suicide, DO NOT call Gloria Allred or Lisa Bloom to help salvage something from the ruins of your life. Call someone who knows a thing or two about scandal damage control. Call me. I might even know what I’m talking about, and I work cheap.

Getting to be a Habit

A quick note to say I’m appearing, yet again, on Cinema Smackdown in just a couple of hours. This will be my umpteenth episode. I’ve kind of lost count at this point. It’s probably only something like my sixth episode, but they all blend together into one big movie-talk blather. My old friend of 30-plus years, Michael, will be guest hosting (and judging), which always leaves me a freer hand to let my freak hang out with answers that might burn me on any other show. Last time around was something of a shambles. We’ll see if chaos will reign again tonight.

That’s 7:00 ET, live on CJLO.

2 + 8 Days Later

Ten days into release, Necropolis has already sold as many copies as my last two books combined. Raw and Other Stories still dominates on the Kindle Unlimited pages-read front. And sex may have sold Sex Tape, but not as much as urban fantasy sold Necropolis. I hope to see Necropolis, at twice the length of my collection of short stories, topple Raw in the pages-read category in the near future—not least because I ultimately make more money with the Kindle Unlimited program. Damn you, Amazon, and your tempting promotional programs that further establish you as a monopoly thanks to my willing complicity!

Last night I attended the launch part for ToonMarty, which is a new cartoon series that will air on Teletoon starting May 1st. I haven’t talked about screenwriting on this blog in a long time, but this is one of the shows I worked on recently, scripting three episodes of the first season. I’ll probably get around to linking them just as soon as someone records and illegally posts them to YouTube. Checking out my television-credits page, I notice there have been a number of episodes yanked since last time I looked. Getting called on copyright violations, no doubt. That’s unfortunate, considering YouTube has been the most convenient venue for me to see my own material for years now.

I was also informed that work continues on Chop Chop Ninja. This is the other series I worked on last year. I completed my contract on it in 2016, but if there are still unfinished scripts on the production line, I don’t expect to see that air until this fall at the very earliest.

Right now, it’s back to work on Epitaph, which is currently sitting at 66,000 words and counting. And another project that may involve just as many dots.

Drunk on the Air

At 7:00 pm ET, I’ll be back on the air for another episode of Cinema Smackdown on CJLO. I think this is something like my fifth appearance. They’ve all blended together after that three-hour Oscar Special last time around.

Because St. Patrick’s Day has devolved into some sort of week-long celebration of inebriation in Montreal, we’ll be talking about the Irish and the Irish curse for the whole show. I’ll be tying all my answers in with Irish actors, Irish directors, and Irish film topics. When necessary, I will be wedging some square pegs into round holes because, hey, on or about St. Patrick’s Day, everybody’s Irish.

Like we really need an excuse to drink ourselves piss-stupid in this town.

Listen live here.

Oscar Afterburn or: Hollywood Can’t Read

The Academy Awards gets it wrong all the time, but never so obviously, stupidly wrong.

In a clusterfuck that threatened to turn Warren Beatty into this year’s Jack Palance and host Jimmy Kimmel into the Oscar’s own version of Steve Harvey, the wrong movie won Best Picture. For about a minute. Then it was corrected, to everybody’s shame and embarrassment.

Apparently a second copy of the Best Actress envelope was handed off to Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway instead of Best Picture. During a long moment that looked like late-stage dementia, the two were left to interpret the surprising contents of the envelope that told them the Best Picture was, in fact, Emma Stone. In the spotlight, under the gun, they leapt to a reasonably logical conclusion that since Emma Stone starred in La La Land, the Best Picture they were trying to decipher must be La La Land. Only it wasn’t. And this was amended, to everyone’s mortification, mid-acceptance speech.

How could such a thing happen for the first time in nearly a century of Oscar awards, you ask? Simple. Nobody in Hollywood reads. Not the treatments, not the screenplays, and not even what’s printed in plain English on a damn envelope (check out “Underwriter” in Raw and Other Stories for more of my take on this phenomenon). Illiteracy in Hollywood is a terrible thing. It gets all sorts of awful movies made, and now it’s screwed up the climax of the great film-industry circle jerk, just when they were trying to reward the one or two half decent movies they accidentally made last year.

It’s a pity. It’s also pretty damn funny.

For more of my Oscar coverage (before it’s rendered utterly irrelevant by the passage of time, and nobody remembers who won what a day or two from now), read my epic live-tweet of the event where I burned through 70 snarky comments over the course of the evening. Or you can listen to my three-hour Cinema Smackdown appearance on their Oscar show, which has just been posted to their website.

Oscar in My Hand, Gun to My Head

God help me, I’ll be live-tweeting the Oscars again this year. Watching the #etalkRedCarpet pre-pre-opening blather is making me deeply regret this decision already.

Good thing I have plans to get drunk off my ass. Doing inventory of my home booze-stash I have…

Oh shit.

I have a bottle of champaign, a mini bottle of apple cider, and a quarter bottle of gin.

That’s all.

I. Am. Fucked.

Watch me comment on this train wreck at @Shane_Eyestrain, and join in my despair for the floundering film industry. Please. I don’t want to face this horror alone.

It’s Just An Honour to be Not-Quite Nominated

It was fun while it lasted, and I squeezed it for all it was worth.

The final nominees for this year’s Bram Stoker Awards were announced a few hours ago and “Raw” is not on the list. My story has been banished to the preliminary-ballot wasteland, where all the other also-ran stories wander aimlessly and, from time to time, kill and eat each other. It’s what horror stories do when left to fend for themselves.

Which doesn’t mean you still shouldn’t read “Raw.” After all, it was one of 11 semi-finalists in its category for the most prestigious literary horror award out there. Go get it, along with 19 other twisted tales I’ve concocted over the years. The number of sales and Kindle Unlimited page-reads have been heartening, making this my biggest eBook publication yet.

I can’t say the news isn’t disappointing. Plans to stalk the Stokers again next year are already afoot. Tonight, however, I will have to curl up with my Writers Guild Award, my Max-und-Moritz prize, and my sixth-grade public-speaking trophy, and cry myself to sleep.

The marathon episode of Cinema Smackdown went well last night. Despite being a guest short, we managed to blather on about the Oscars, cinema, and the state of the film industry for three solid hours with barely a break. I also got to make my argument that Boo! A Madea Halloween was snubbed by the Academy this year. I haven’t seen the film. I will never see the film. Regardless, I think it should be given a special Oscar for Best Financial Model.

Tentpoles running 200 to 300 million dollars are killing Hollywood. Budgets like that could very well wipe out even the most venerable studios if they suffer just one summer of flops. Gambling on 100k shoestring indies they snatch at Sundance won’t save them. There needs to be a return to mid-level budget cinema, and Tyler Perry is paving the way. Heed his example. The latest Madea film cost 20 million to make. It was marketed for about 30 cents (that’s rounded up) and took in over 70 million. That’s not a home run by Hollywood standards, but it’s a solid base hit. Enough of those keep studios afloat. The majors used to understand that, but now they’re swinging for the franchise fences with every remake, reboot, and regurgitated release—and it’s unsustainable.

Give unemployed filmmakers (especially John Waters) the 20 to 40 million they need to make their boutique films that are geared towards specific demographics. Fuck the international market. Not every film can appeal to everyone. Boo! A Madea Halloween barely cracked one million in non-domestic release, but it didn’t matter. It knew its audience, they showed up, and they loved it, even as every critic panned it.

Listen to reason Hollywood, and be saved.

Spoiler alert: they won’t.

Dead Air

This will be brief because I still have a lot of prep to do for tonight.

I’m back on Cinema Smackdown for a special three-hour Oscar episode this evening at 6:00 pm EST. Yes, three bloody hours. A few more hours and the show will be as long as an actual Oscar Awards ceremony.

Spoiler alert: There may be filler.

Tune in to CJLO to listen live as I struggle to help fill hour upon hour of dead air with inane movie-related babble. Apparently this is seen as preferable to clogging the airwaves with more electro-funk Muzak, which seems to be the station’s usual broadcasting mandate.

Admittedly, I may be judging them based on what often airs after or instead of the show.

The Plagueis Dogs

“Damn you, 2016!” shouted the mountain range of cocaine and the ocean of alcohol ingested in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Snickering between themselves, they slunk away to the back of the gathered mournful crowd, who were again lamenting how the cursed year had robbed them of another celebrated celebrity.

Remember when Groucho Marx died within a few days of Elvis Presley? Everybody was so upset about the bloated icon, destroyed at a young age by an overindulgence in drugs and fatty foods, they paid no attention to the passing of a true master of the language and a writer of extraordinary wit and intelligence. Thankfully the internet allows us to act as our own media filter now and we can focus on the stories that matter most to us, if nobody else.

Richard Adams, it was announced today, died on Christmas Eve at the age of 96. Hardly unexpected so late in the game, it’s still a blow to fans of his classic novels such as Watership Down and The Plague Dogs. I was thinking of him only a couple of days ago, noting his advanced age on his Wikipedia entry, not realizing he was already dead. Like a lot of celebrities who are less in the public eye—writers in particular—word of their passing often comes days after the fact, once the family or representation issue a statement.

Watership Down remains one of my all-time favourite novels. I haven’t actually read The Plague Dogs because I saw the movie (adapted by the same animation studio that made the brutal film version of Watership) and it kicked the shit out of me. In my 40s. I recommend exposing your children to Adams’s animal-centric stories as early as you can. They’ll be traumatized in all the important ways children should be traumatized while preparing themselves for a vicious, merciless world.

But, of course, stealing all the headlines is a competing celebrity death that eclipses all others. Because she was in Star Wars.

I like Carrie Fisher. I’ve read a couple of her books. She was a reliable Hollywood script doctor and occasional actor, who showed up for mostly small roles in a variety of non-Star Wars related films. But let’s be honest. We’re mostly surprised she lasted this long.

Back when it was popular to do so, Carrie Fisher snorted ALL the coke. Drank ALL the booze. Did ALL the rehab. It’s astonishing she survived the 20th century at all. And even though she was the picture of health in Rogue One (it’s like she hadn’t aged at all), the fact that her body finally gave out in the wake of all her old bad habits should shock absolutely no one.

Callously, my greatest concern is how much rewriting this is going to inflict on the current trilogy. Not that there was much story to The Force Awakens, but if the writers have been doing their job and stepping up their game for episodes VIII and IX, Leia may have actually been part of a real character arc, now cut short. It’s a bad blow to the franchise in general and, I expect, Fisher in particular.

Here’s my fix:

Because Star Wars is all about fan service (and Richard Adams and The Plague Dogs is fresh in my mind), cast Fisher’s pet Gary the Dog as Darth Plagueis. Seriously. Gary is beloved, he’s creepy looking, and we haven’t seen Darth Plagueis on screen in a Star Wars movie yet, so they can cast ANYBODY. Disney, I’m talking to you. You want to protect your four billion dollar investment, you need to do shit like this. Or at least cast Gary in a Yoda prequel. He’s a natural. He’s a STAR. Much more so than whatshisface and whatshername or whosthatguy you’ve got filling in the slots of the next generation. Run with him.

People will love you for it, you’ll be doing Carrie a solid, and Gary will have the cash he needs to feed his Milkbone habit. I’m nothing if not a problem solver. You’re welcome.

In other news, Harrison Ford is still alive. He was in a plane crash, the Millennium Falcon tried to eat him, he was trampled by elephants, shot by John Hinkley Jr., blown up in the Hindenburg, stripped to the bone by ravenous piranhas…and that was just today. The man is accident prone, but nothing can kill him. Except maybe his role choices since the ‘80s.

One final note. A word of warning in these closing days.

You have not yet survived 2016.

2016 is still out there. Prowling. Waiting. Hungry.

Watch yourself.