the official website for the writings of
contents copyright © 1998-2014 by ralph robert moore, all rights reserved
My novel Father Figure, a bestseller for its publisher in trade paperback, is now available for free in PDF format. Click here to go to a page where you can download the complete text of the novel.
Here we are, in electricity.
One of the greatest pleasures of the Internet, certainly, is surfing from site to site late at night, starry purple outside your window, cold drink two inches from your mouse as you glide transparently through the URL's of cyberspace. The sites listed below are my own choices. I hope you find some pleasure in them.
It amazes me some of the greatest artists of the twentieth century, such as Alfred Hitchcock, James Cain, and Louie Prima, do not have permanent websites devoted to them, instead of temporary sites that are often up for only a few months, then get gulped down. If any of the links listed below become obsolete, or if you know of a better link, please write me at email@example.com. Good luck on the waves.links
other ralph robert moore related sites
In addition to my career as a writer, I'm also a submissions editor for DECOY, a New York based literary magazine dedicated to publishing high quality, edgy fiction and poetry.
My wife Mary is an accomplished muralist, and has decorated the white interiors of our home with beautiful, colorful wall art. If you'd like to see some of her work, please go to MARY'S WORLD. In addition, the site features the continuing adventures of our cats, from their careers in rap to their election to the White House. You can also hear Elf meow.
Mary's dad Joe, a retired rocket scientist, has been taking photographs for over half a century. His work has been exhibited in a number of venues. To view samples of his art, please visit THE PHOTOGRAPHY OF JOSEPH MEIER.
Hardcopies of Sign of the Times where two of my stories, When You Surfaced and Sex on Sheets, first appeared are available at SIGN OF THE TIMES. The site also includes on-line versions of both stories as they appeared in the magazine.links
Vladimir Nabokov said once that, "I write for pleasure, but publish for profit." All in all, a good attitude. Writing is an art, but also a business. In order to protect your business interests, as well as retain control over what you create, you need to know about copyright law. The best resource is the on-line U.S. COPYRIGHT OFFICE. Like most government sites, it's well organized and fairly comprehensive. A link on the site assists you in copyrighting your work.
There are a lot of misunderstandings about what a copyright is, and what it can and cannot do. For an excellent, plain english summary of how copyright works, with a good emphasis on Internet issues, visit 10 BIG MYTHS ABOUT COPYRIGHT EXPLAINED. The site provides useful information on the realities of copyright protection.
Another excellent site for a 'real world' discussion of copyright law is THE COPYRIGHT WEBSITE, which has been on the Internet since 1995. It covers all aspects of creative expression, including literature, the performing arts, and graphics.
Without doubt, the very best site for accessing literary and genre magazines' guidelines is Laura Hird's LIT MAG CENTRAL. The page features hundreds of fiction and poetry magazines around the world, giving a description of each, as well as a link to their site. Includes many magazines not featured on other literary markets listings.
The best source for up-to-date news on horror, fantasy, science fiction and humor markets is RALAN'S WEBSTRAVAGANZA, which includes postings on staff changes, slow response times, and magazine demises for all the major and minor print and e-zine markets. Ralan's listings are far more current than other marketing sites, so you're not wasting your time submitting to a magazine that went defunct six months go.
NEW PAGES GUIDE TO LITERARY MAGAZINES lists links to hundreds of literary magazine websites, where you can read their submission guidelines and often view samples of the work they publish. A great place to start when you're ready to market your fiction. Their NEWSTAND page discusses the contents of the latest issue of a number of literary magazines, useful in determining whether or not they'd be a market for you.
Magazines often suggest you study a copy of one of their issues to get an idea of the fiction they publish before you submit, an entirely reasonable request, but for most writers it's financially difficult to pay for so many magazines in order to determine whether or not they'd be responsive to your type of story. SARA PEYTON performs a truly terrific service for all of us by reviewing dozens of different literary magazines, giving detailed information on a sample issue for each journal. Her information includes, for each issue reviewed, the general tone of the stories (experimental, downbeat, humorous, slice-of-life, etc.), a brief synopsis of each story, how many first-time authors are published in that issue, how many authors who have won a literary prize, had a novel published, been in a writer's workshop, etc. Highly recommended.
THE MARKET LIST lists over 100 markets for writers of horror, science fiction and fantasy. The site includes market reports on the current status and needs of genre magazines, interviews with editors, workshops, and articles.
WEB DEL SOL features news, columns, and market information on university-based and literary magazines, many of which are more receptive to 'square-peg' stories than genre or general magazines.
One of the very best resources for speculative fiction markets is SPICY GREEN IGUANA. It has a huge database of magazine reviews, fiction markets, and articles.
The SMALL PRESS 'ZINES WEBRING includes links to the homepages of over 90 small-circulation magazines, which are often more receptive to work by new writers. Listings include both e-zines (magazines only published in electronic format, on the Internet) and traditional print magazines.
FIRST WRITER features an international directory of small press magazines, listings of literary competitions, contact details for agents, and author tips.
The WHISPER FROM THE HEART POETRY CLUB, located in South Africa, publishes a wide range of poems, short stories, artwork and photography, with a special emphasis on work submitted from school students. The site also includes a monthly newsletter, and members forum (membership is free.)
There are an awful lot of people out there who want to take your money on the pretense that they'll sell your book. Before submitting or signing with any agent, please visit WRITER BEWARE, a site maintained under the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers, Inc. domain by Victoria Strauss. The site lists those agents whose practices writers have reported as being less than honest, as well as case studies of several popular, unscrupulous agencies. This is the Consumer Reports and Better Business Bureau of literary agents, and is highly recommended. As an additional, free service, you may e-mail Ms. Strauss the name of any agent you are thinking of doing business with, and she will tell you if any complaints have been filed against her or him. Never, ever, agree to pay an agent any fee for reading, editing or marketing your book. The only fee you should pay is a percentage of the actual sale of the book.
WRITERS NET has a searchable database of literary agents, allowing you to separate out those agents, for example, who deal with humorous novels, or erotica, or horror. Although the database is supposedly restricted to those agents who do not charge any up-front fees, be aware that agents post these listings themselves, and there are a few unscrupulous listings. Never, ever, agree to pay an agent any fee for reading, editing or marketing your book. The only fee you should pay is a percentage of the actual sale of the book.
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY has a tremendous amount of information on the publishing industry. While you're there, subscribe to their free e-newsletter.
ALT X is a good cache for news and trends on avant garde movements within the arts, particularly writing and graphics. Updated regularly.
Absolute Writer is a huge forum site that's an excellent resource for writers. There's a wealth of information here, authors comparing notes, helping each other with writing problems. Take some time to explore it. In particular, take a look at the BEWARES AND BACKGROUND section of the site, devoted to swapping information on unscrupulous publishers, magazines, and agents.
Need to know the correct usage for a word or phrase? ASK A LINQUIST is a terrific site for checking your grammar. You can e-mail any usage-related question you want to an impressive board of linguists, or just browse through the archives for fascinating past discussions on writing-related questions. Why do Americans have two forms of writing, print and cursive, whereas almost all other cultures only have one? Click over and find out.
I got my first rejection slip when I was about ten. I wrote a series of mock advertisements for fictitious companies that specialized in assisting people commit suicide, writing the text for each ad by hand, using stick figures (I can't draw) to indicate what each ad should look like. As I remember it, it was actually pretty funny. I sent the piece to Mad Magazine. A month or so later I received a personal, hand-written letter back from William Gaines. Forty years later, I still remember what it said: "Ralph, this is much too negative, and a rather sensitive area to poke fun at! Mad-ly, Bill Gaines." It's the nicest rejection slip I've ever received, and I've received quite a few. If you're a writer, I'm sure you've got your own pile. Some writers throw them out, others keep a scrapbook of them or paper their writing area with them. THE REJECTION COLLECTION allows you to publish on-line the rejection slips you've received (your name, the publisher's name and the title of your work can be hidden), along with your comments on how you felt receiving that particular rejection, and any additional comments you may have. It also has a Rants section.
One of the goals of a lot of people on the Internet has been to get fiction directly in the hands of readers, bypassing the traditional publishing interface. A phenomenon that's arisen out of these efforts is 'POD', or 'Print on Demand'. You pay an on-line POD service a fee ranging from several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars to prepare your book for print, and to make the book available to buyers on the service's website. The service arranges with a POD printer (the best of the POD printers is Lightning Press) to have a single copy of your book printed each time someone orders one, and pays you a royalty based on that purchase, usually at a higher rate than traditional publishers offer. The publisher does not pay you any advance. Indeed, the traditional writer/publisher relationship is reversed, in that you're paying the publisher to print your book, rather than vice-versa. POD publishing has several downsides. If you need editorial help in preparing your book for print you're unlikely to receive any from the service (most POD publishers are not that discriminatory about what they'll accept), or will have to pay a hefty amount for the editorial work. In addition, the reality of publishing is that most books are sold through bookstore placements and as a result of marketing campaigns, and POD publishers rarely offer such services (marketing is generally limited to a page on the POD publisher's own website). POD publishing at present makes the most sense if you're an established author with a large fan base. Beginning writers are likely to find their only sales are to themselves, and friends and relatives. Fantasy writer Piers Anthony offers a valuable overview of POD and e-publishing alternatives, including an objective review of the different on-line services, at HIPIERS.
Online College Courses has put together a list, with some details on each, of ten autobiographies that were proven, over time, to be TOTALLY BOGUS. It's a fun piece of writing. My favorite is the discussion of Joan Lowell's autobiography from 1929, Cradle of the Deep. Lowell, a silent film actress, recounted her adventures at sea with her father, including the time the boat caught fire and "she swam to shore with a family of kittens holding onto her back. (This is probably where most people smelled the lie.)" The list includes links to news sites providing additional information on each fraud. On the other hand, ONLINE COLLEGE provides a list of "true" memoirs (to the extent any memoir can be considered to be true), "30 Moving Memoirs Every Student Should Read", compiled by Carol Brown. I actually enjoy reading memoirs quite a bit. The list here looks interesting, and includes a book I've been meaning to read for quite a while, Just Kids, Patti Smith's remembrances of her time with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.
Part of writing is reading. I think we all know about AMAZON.COM by now, an excellent resource for books, and its Johnny-come-lately cousin BARNES AND NOBLE, but there are other ordering sites out there also, smaller catalogs where each title is talked about in several paragraphs or a page. One of the best is A COMMON READER. Its mail catalog, over 150 issues strong, features books you might not otherwise have heard of, but all of which are of a high quality. The editors take as much care shipping their books as they do describing them: each book I've ordered has come lovingly wrapped and taped in white paper to prevent damage. Another good source is DAEDALUS BOOKS. They have the additional advantage of offering prices far below list. For the widest variety of books possible, thousands of them, steeply discounted up to 80% off, and often at thrift store prices ($1.95 for a hard cover), go to EDWARD R. HAMILTON. Hamilton is my own favorite way to buy books from home. I guarantee you won't be disappointed at the selection.
Gretchen Dent has created a great resource for readers at THE BOOKSHELF, posting her reviews of 500 books in 15 genre categories. Her comments are intelligent and insightful. A discussion about my writings in general, and Big Inches in particular, appears there. Readers may order books she discusses directly from her site.
Another great resource for readers is Roger B. Pile's A HAUNTED DOLLS HOUSE, which includes an amazing number of concise, perceptive reviews of genre fiction, with even more on the way. Definitely worth a look, to help you decide who and what to read.
INTERNET FICTION features writings from around the world, particularly short stories, articles, and travelogues. They also consider novels for on-line publication, provided the author agrees to make the novel available without charge. In all cases, copyright stays with the author. Worth a look, both to see what other writers around the world are doing, and to consider as a (non-paying) market to exhibit your work.links
All my heroes have been authors. Their books are certainly the best shields to get you through childhood. Opening the front cover of a favorite novel in middle age is like lifting a trap door on the sweet-aired summers of youth, even if that youth was spent alone, under an apple tree.
Vladimir Nabokov was one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century. The best site devoted to him is at ZEMBLA. A link there allows you to subscribe to The Nabokovian, where Brian Boyd is slowly annotating his way through all the allusions of Ada. As an on-line alternative, you can access Boyd's annotations at ADA ONLINE, an extraordinary site that allows you to read the full text of Ada with hyperlinks explaining all the textual allusions. The Internet has never been put to better use. Nabokov constructed perfect sentences, the kind that drip like delicious sandwiches. If you've never read it, buy a copy of Lolita and get wonderfully drunk on its 'peeled-peach' prose.
William S. Burroughs was the carny of control. Who would have thought the epitome of hip would be an old man with glasses in a suit? Old-fashioned black shoes set squarely apart on his wooden barker's platform, his far-reaching mid-western drawl beckoned us into the beige tents of his novels. Reading him is a revelation. "Language is a virus from outer space." "Nothing is true. Everything is permitted." He combined homosexual romps and ejaculations at the moment of rope hanging with beautiful, blue, surrealistic prose. He was one of the pioneers of art as accident. The title of his most famous book, Naked Lunch, came from a misreading of his scribbled phrase, 'naked lust'. The best site devoted to him is INTERWEBZONE, established in 1991.
One of my favorite writers growing up was Alain Robbe-Grillet, who parsed down everything in his early novels until all he had left were emotionless descriptions of where people sat in relationship to each other, and the static of a brush traveling down through a woman's long hair. His best early work is The Erasers, a detective story, and Jealousy, my favorite. A website featuring his publishing history, excerpts from his novels, and links is located at ALAIN ROBBE-GRILLET BIBLIOGRAPHY.
Philip K. Dick wrote novel after novel where the hero discovers the world is fake, reality squatting behind the five famous senses, passengers on a bus really inverted floor mops, black and white pictures of faces rubber-banded around the mophead. To read his letters, get the Selected Letters series published by Underwood-Miller. To read the story behind the letters, read Divine Invasions by Lawrence Sutin, put out by Harmony Books. His best books are Man in the High Castle, Through a Scanner Darkly, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? He banged out his novels at high speed on an old typewriter, and sometimes it shows, but his belief in his vision bobbles above any awkwardness of construction. PHILIPKDICK.COM features a biography, summaries and reviews of his novels, interviews, links, and more. It's now the official web presence for Dick's writings, authorized by his estate.
Borges and Marquez certainly deserve their fame, but one Latin American author who unfortunately never became as well-known as he should have been is Julio Cortazar. Believe in reincarnation? What if the person you will become in your next lifetime happens to accidentally be born and start growing up while you're still alive in this lifetime? He's a great writer for that relaxed smoke at midnight, looking out past the mildew of your library at the moon-filled patio. Personally, I think there's more life in his pages than in Borges'. Good introductions to Cortazar are Blow Up And Other Stories (the title story was the basis of the Antonioni film) and Hopscotch, a novel which allows the reader to choose which chapters are read, and in which order, producing a variety of alternate novels in the same book. A site devoted to Cortazar is at JULIO CORTAZAR. It includes information on each of his books, as well as a list of links.
Every writer has in their heart a tiny jealousy for H.P. Lovecraft's cloistered writing world. Scribbling all day upstairs, waited on by elderly aunts, opening the crammed mail box during a mid-morning break. For a study of his life read H.P. Lovecraft: A Life, by S. T. Joshi . And certainly read the extraordinary letters, available from Arkham House. The H.P. LOVECRAFT ARCHIVE includes all sorts of information on his life, fiction, letters, friends, family and more.
James M. Cain is rare among bestsellers, in that he wrote several novels towards the end of his life which his publishers considered 'unpublishable' (wouldn't you love to read them anyway?). Best known for The Postman Always Rings Twice (with its unnecessarily incomprehensible cat-on-a-ladder sequence) and Mildred Pierce, his best novel is the little-known Serenade. A biography and bibliography is located at JAMES M. CAIN.
Even Ayn Rand got upset at how the James Bond books were cheapened by the movies. The sour-mouthed taste of too many martinis and cigarettes was gone, replaced by pointless explosions and witless puns. In the past few films, a notice in the end credits fastidiously proclaims the producers do not endorse the use of tobacco products. Ian Fleming would be amused. When told by his doctors his smoking and drinking were killing him, he airily replied, "I shall not waste my life trying to prolong it." Better than most writers, Fleming knew how to write page-turning set pieces, like Goldfinger cheating at golf. An excellent site devoted to Fleming is at THE WEB MAGAZINE OF THE IAN FLEMING FOUNDATION. It features an extraordinary number of articles, news and links.
John D. MacDonald wrote about twenty Travis McGee novels. They're all essentially little boy adventures with little boy attitudes, but there is a cozy reassurance at the beginning of each, which usually finds Trav and Meyer in the floating clubhouse, the Busted Flush, entertaining an unexpected midnight guest or tinkering with the air conditioner. MacDonald overdoes McGee's big wrists a bit, but what the heck. The first fifty pages of a McGee novel are always interesting. After that, you might get bored by the misogynism, misoneism and pretension. Float over to BIG BILL'S JOHN D. MACDONALD STUFF for a variety of information on McDonald and McGee.
Richard Matheson is a great "What if" writer. What if the world is taken over by vampires (I Am Legend, which George Romero has cited as the inspiration for Night of the Living Dead), or a man starts getting smaller and smaller (The Shrinking Man), or you die and see what Heaven is really like (What Dreams May Come)? His writing style is better than most, spare and evocative, and combined with his narrative skills has made him one of the strongest influences on the past two generations of genre writers. In addition to his novels he's written at least a hundred short stories, and dozens of screenplays (he was responsible for some of the better Corman/Poe AIP films made in the sixties, a lot of Twilight Zones; his teleplay for his short story Duel gave Stephen Spielberg his big break). RICHARD MATHESON includes a brief biography, discussion of his major works, and part of an interview with him.
Gore Vidal wrote about twenty or thirty novels, but he'll be remembered for his essays, most of which were compiled recently in The United States by Random House. There's a great wealth here, and he is by far the best name-dropper around. Most of his stuff was written while he lived atop a cliff in Italy with a male companion, in a sun-flashed villa where the rays projected a shadowy enlargement of the typewriter keys across the white-washed walls, drinking over half a bottle of whiskey each evening. A site in honor of him is at GORE VIDAL.
One of our quietest, but most deadly, writers has been Thomas Berger. Two of his novels have been made into movies, Little Big Man and Neighbors, but neither film begins to exhibit the craftiness he's capable of. By all means read both novels, as well as the Reinhart series. Thomas Berger sites tend to show up and disappear on the Web. A site currently providing some information on his books is located at THOMAS BERGER BIBLIOGRAPHY. Unfortunately, it provides nothing in the way of biographical details.
Back in the sixties, people stood in line to read the latest fiction. Although music was important during the Summer of Love, the role of literature has often been forgotten. I remember middle-aged men in suits, swaying in the aisle of a commuter train rocketing from grey New York City towards the green Connecticut suburbs and gold, cold Manhattans, spotting Pale Fire in my hands and entering into an enthusiastic discussion about it with me. One of the young lords back then was Donald Barthelme, whose New Yorker stories and literary collages told us about city life, sorrow and Dr. Caligari. One of the greatest American postwar short story writers, Barthelme died of throat cancer in his fifties. Sorrow. One of my biggest influences, along with Nabokov, Burroughs and Robbe-Grillet. An excellent site featuring his stories, bio, bibliography and articles is located at DONALD BARTHELME.
Nicholson Baker has been slowly working his way towards writing a novel. In The Mezzanine and Room Temperature he perfected details of description; in Vox he added dialog; in Fermata he integrated dialog and narrative, and it only took him four novels to get there. His prose is better than most, even though he has an amateur's habit of using 'dictionary words', and a twelve year old's fondness for wielding corny sexual euphemisms. Still, he's a writer I admire very much. To get him at his best, buy The Size of Thoughts, and especially read "Lumber" in that collection. The NICHOLSON BAKER FAN PAGE features information on all his books, as well as a link to an interview.links
The best service art performs is allowing us a pool into which we can gaze and reverie. An image can open us to a world of paint so unlike our own, a world where everything is intended.
Gabrielle Nowicki has created some beautiful paintings and penciled works that blend a great fluidity of line with, often, deep psychological shadings. Studying one of her works is like gazing at something in nature that can be looked at, and looked at, as more and more complexities reveal themselves. Her painting inspired by my short story When the Big One Thaws is reproduced here. For an overview of her work, please visit GABRIELLE NOWICKI. Highly recommended.
Christiane Cegavske has a completely original eye. Seeing one of her pieces is like entering a private world filled with blood, sunflowers and mice. There's a wonderful organic quality to everything she does. Her site CHRISTIANE CEGAVSKE includes samples of her paintings, handmade books, animated films, and costume and fashion design.
AARON BOARD is one of the most technically skilled of the new artists, depicting musculature and shadow with a remarkable fidelity. Definitely a career to follow. Because his pen drawing Ben Franklin is done with pen, nothing could be erased. It all had to be perfect the first time.
The best artist working in pencil today is LAURIE LIPTON. She has a startling style distinctly her own, combining a slightly askew sentiment with a brilliant technical talent in rendering face, figure and fashion.
Jimmie Guzman Arroyo's paintings, mostly of women, have a wonderful, underwater light to them, faces and limbs glowing, the eyes frequently demonic. His website JG ARROYO includes a wide sampling of his work, including his tattoo art and some beautiful pastels he's been working on lately. It's well worth a visit.
One of the things I love most about JERRY SANDEFUR images is the hyperreality he gives to surface textures, whether it's gleaming ships deep in space, jaunty skeletons, or a glossy robot gripping the bars of his cell with a filthy toilet, seat up, in the background.
DAVID HO uses an old-world light in some of his illustrations that belies the bizarre content.
One of the best painters of the twentieth century, now starting to receive a long-deserved reassessment, is EGON SCHIELE, who lived from 1890 to 1918 in Austria. His paintings, many of them sexually explicit (some might say sexually enlarged), met with a mixed reaction from the public during his lifetime (in 1912 he was briefly imprisoned for obscenity). My favorite dead artist.
No other painter captured color the way HENRI MATISSE did. In his paintings green and purple never looked so good against each other. You need to see a Matisse painting to understand its impact-- it can't be described in intellectual terms.
H.R. GIGER is a true original, but hasn't yet received the degree of critical attention he deserves. His bio-mechanical images are chilling in a way other artists' aren't, to some degree because of the sensibility they suggest. Giger is the only artist I know whose work feels like it was painted by something not only nonhuman, but nonmammalian.
LUCIAN FREUD, Sigmund's grandson, has done some of the best renditions in paint of flesh since Schiele.
There's a delightful, sunlit playfulness to MAGRITTE. Mountain ranges are eagles' wings; a rider in the forest is glimpsed across the trunks he would normally be eclipsed behind.
ESCHER tested our eyes, twirling his images so stairs leading up also led down, and fish flew skywards to metamorphosize into birds.
For the longest time, it was commonplace in America to dismiss NORMAN ROCKWELL as corn. However, he was a great craftsman, and every one of his pictures did indeed tell a story, much like the masters. Appreciation for Rockwell may have started growing when Bowie, himself a painter, tried to have Rockwell do a portrait of him for his Young Americans album.
It's hard to draw an animal. You can copy their muscles, but it's difficult to get the eyes right. SUZANA STOJANOVIC achieves a true depiction of animals in her hyper-realistic paintings, capturing the souls of horses. Well worth a look.links
Movies are indeed the great twentieth century art form. From soundless, flickering black and white images they have evolved into the perfect vehicle for product placement. But not all of them.
No one makes movies like David Lynch. At his best, his films have the claustrophobic air of private thoughts. Eraserhead and Blue Velvet are perfect, the interiors in the first half of Lost Highway are haunting, and there are some incredible scenes in Mullholland Drive. A number of the better David Lynch sites have vanished over the past few years, unfortunately. Lynch has his own site now, DAVID LYNCH, but be warned you must pay a full year's membership in advance in order to view the site, and there are no refunds. On the other hand, LYNCHNET offers up-to-date news on Lynch, and it's free. The site originally featured an immense database on Lynch's films, TV commercials, artwork and books, as well as a discussion board. The webmaster has been perpetually promising to restore those features, but two years later, there's still no results.
Stanley Kubrick took great care with the movies he made, and made a wide variety of them, from Lolita to Clockwork Orange to Spartacus to Dr. Strangelove to Eyes Wide Shut to Full Metal Jacket. I could mention dozens of brilliant scenes he directed, but I'll choose only two. (1) The pistol duel in a barn between father and stepson in Barry Lyndon. In this one set piece everything comes together: our mixed feelings towards both characters, not sure who to root for, the magnificent reworking of Handel's Sarabande on the soundtrack, the careful, dry droning of the dueling protocols by the witnesses, the disastrous misfire, the offer of stopping the duel, its continuance, the horrible results. (2) The wife's long, late night monologue, to her husband, in Eyes Wide Shut, of the young military officer she glimpsed briefly in a hotel lobby years ago while she and her husband were checking in, and her confession she would have thrown everything away-- him, their baby, her life-- to spend one night being fucked by that officer. No one replaces Kubrick. We're left with Jerry Bruckheimer. STANLEY KUBRICK - THE MASTER FILMMAKER offers a complete filmography, frequently asked questions, biography, and much more.
Dario Argento is the most goofily surrealistic director we have. His movies start off like straight-forward thrillers, but before too long the nightgowned heroine is crawling through an absurdly complex ventilation system, or a red herring is complaining about his periodontal disease while he carries suitcases upstairs. The first Japanese website devoted to him, DARIO ARGENTO, comes in an English-language version as well.
Critics either love or hate the Coen Brothers. To my sensibility they've created some of the best movies of the past two decades, from Blood Simple to Raising Arizona to Miller's Crossing to The Hudsucker Proxy to Fargo. If you like them, or have never heard of them, you might want to scoot over to JOEL AND ETHAN COEN, a comprehensive source for information on all their films, even Barton Fink, including up-to-date information on their latest projects.
My parents took me to see Psycho when it was first released. I still remember the reaction of the audience during the shower scene (because up until that point Alfred Hitchcock had never done a horror film). Shock everywhere, people standing up out of their seats, milling in the aisles, holding their heads as if at a terrible auto accident, the talk and cries in the audience so loud it's good Hitchcock eschewed dialog for the next few minutes. Imagine how hard it would be to get that reaction today. THE MACGUFFIN includes a biography and discussion of his work.
Is there anyone in the world less superstitious about cancer than David Cronenberg? He's created some great, disturbing works about bodies beset with tumors, including Rabid, The Brood, Videodrome, The Fly and Dead Ringers. David Cronenberg sites tend to pop up, bubble for a few months, then vanish. As an alternative to linking to sites that probably won't last, I'm linking here to the INTERNET MOVIE DATABASE for Cronenberg.
Martin Scorsese was voted the best director of the 1980's, and Raging Bull the best film of that decade. He is an inspired director, one who does violence more convincingly than anyone else (the shop owner taking his rage out with a length of pipe on the dead hold-up man in Taxi Driver, the pistol whipping given to a neighbor in Good Fellas). Find out more about him at MARTIN SCORSESE, which features a discussion board, list of movies, and links to on-line articles.
A work of horror is only as great as its ability to summon dread. That summoning isn't easy to do, apparently. To find out what dread feels like, see George Romero's Night of the Living Dead. I first saw it when it opened in New York City, on 42nd Street, on the bottom bill with Dr. Who vs. the Daleks. One of the seminal films of our era. Romero brought us a species that reproduced not through life, but through death. It doesn't get more chilling than that. DR. LOGAN, named after a character in the final film of Romero's trilogy, Day of the Dead, provides an incredible wealth of information on the Dead films, much of which has been used on the Dead DVD releases. Ever wonder what happened to the little girl who ate her mom in the original film? Well, she's got her own website now at THE GHOUL NEXT DOOR. George Romero himself has his own website, at GEORGE A ROMERO. The site inclues a complete filmography, excerpts from his screenplays, downloadable files, and latest news.
I first saw The Hills Have Eyes at a California drive-in. Before that, in Connecticut, I caught The Last House on the Left. Back then, very few people knew who Wes Craven was, but those who did hunted out every new film he made. Now, of course, thanks to the Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream series, he's become one of the best known film directors, and has emerged as one of the most creative forces in the modern commercial horror film. His site, too, is more professional than most, at WES CRAVEN'S WORLD.
One of the best films of the seventies, in any genre, was Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It had a beautiful brutality to it sadly lacking in the wise-cracking, effects-laden 'horror' films of today. Tobe Hooper, who directed Chainsaw, has his own website now at TOBE HOOPER, although at the time of this revision to my Links page it was down for a restructuring, and in fact has been down for over a year.
One of the best things about the Web is all the free stuff you can download. To download the complete shooting scripts for Blue Velvet, True Romance and other films (and to see how radically different the original idea of each film was from its finished product), click on DREW'S SCRIPT-O-RAMA.
If you want to research a movie, there's no better place to start than the INTERNET MOVIE DATABASE. The site includes an extraordinary amount of information on over 120,000 movies, including plot summaries, credits, cost, receipts, a wide variety of reviews, and stills.
Talk about specialized. For a number of years now MCFARLAND COMPANY has been offering hardcover books with library binding on a variety of very specific movie-themed subjects such as "Famous Hollywood Locations: Descriptions and Photographs of 382 Sites involving 289 Films and 105 Television Series". It's great fun browsing through their catalog, mentally tagging which heavy-in-the-hand books we'd choose for our dream library (the one with stacks to the ceiling, a polished-wood ladder set on rails, and a view of the distant, pale sea).
Ever watch a movie and spot an editing error (she has a wristwatch on in one shot, but it's missing in the next), or the overhead intrusion of a boom mike, or the funhouse reflection in a car window of a cameraman? NITPICKERS catalogs all movie mistakes, by film title. You can contribute to its database, or challenge a contributor's entry.
My Favorite Movies
Everyone loves creating lists, and I'm no exception. What I've done here is list my favorite movies from the past forty years.
In creating the list, I limited myself to those movies I actually enjoy, have seen many times, and will probably see many more times before I die. I wasn't at all interested in listing movies that are "important", "innovative", or "influential" (although some of the films on this list are.) Just movies I feel are well-made, and can stand up to repeated viewings.
In reading other people's lists over the years, it seems to me a lot of the films they include really aren't that good. Easy Rider, Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Schindler's List, Tootsie, etc. None of these are bad movies, but they don't have that essential magic. For me, at least.
I also didn't feel the need to put a black bowtie on the list by including movies that are universally recognized as having played an important role in the development of cinema. Citizen Kane, for example, had an enormous influence on the modern movie, particularly in its use of lighting, which allowed a depth of field that had never been achieved before (and for which it's never received sufficient credit), but the truth is, having see it a few times already, I have no desire to see it again. It must also be said that many older films, although still compelling visually, are made outdated by their overdone soundtracks (nothing to me ruins an otherwise fine film more than an overly-intrusive score). These distracting scores, disconnected from the images they're supposed to support, age a movie as surely as that unfortunate fifties style of architecture that covered facades with different-sized rectangles of contrasting jewel colors, turquoise, ruby, sapphire.
Because I'm listing only those movies I feel are fully-realized pieces, I've unfortunately excluded a number of directors I truly admire, whose movies are certainly worth seeing, although I don't feel any specific film of theirs fits my list, such as Whit Stillman, Todd Solondz, Gus Van Sant, and others.
So what does my list reveal?
There were thirty great movies made in the last forty years, which sounds about right.
The greatest decade for American films was not the seventies, as often thought, but the eighties (two selections for the seventies, versus twelve for the eighties).
The director who most consistently produced great films in the past forty years was Joel Coen, of The Coen Brothers, with five films. In second place is Martin Scorsese, with four selections. In third place is Stanley Kubrick, with three films. Tied for fourth place, with two films each, are David Cronenberg, David Lynch, and Alexander Payne.
Each of the following directors had one film: Blake Edwards, George Romero, John Carpenter, Brian DePalma, Albert Brooks, William Friedkin, Lawrence Kasdan, Abel Ferrara, Harold Ramis, Terry Zwigoff, Peter Berg, Paul Thomas Anderson.
(In surveying these movies, I've followed the standard theory of viewing the director as the auteur, but in my own belief, the true auteur of any film is not the screenwriter, or the director, or the producer, but instead the film editor. All other personages play important roles in a movie, but it's the film editor who actually creates the movie.)
Here's my favorite movies list:
We get to choose at least some of the background music in our lives. These are my choices.
The best resource I've found on the Net for classical music is at CLASSICAL NET. The site includes an astounding 6,000 files, including 3,000 CD reviews, and links to 4,000 additional web pages, making it easy to track down a particular recording or learn more about a specific, long-haired artist suffering from syphilis. The Basic Repertoire feature is a good introduction to classical music, and can help you build a collection.
After the debut of his first opera, in New York City, Phillip Glass went back to driving a cab for a couple of years until he could support himself full-time making black-inked notations on horizontal bars. Because of his distinctive style, which often combines an unusual musical timing with minimalism, casual listeners sometimes complain his pieces "all sound the same", but there's actually a great deal of variation to them, even more so in the past few years. For early Glass try Solo Piano and The Photographer. For the best of what he's done lately, I'd suggest La Belle et La Bete, meant to be played in synchronization to Cocteau's film, and his newly-written soundtrack, performed by the Kronos Quartet, to the classic Bela Lugosi version of Dracula. Probably the best website devoted to Glass is GLASS PAGES, which features a biography, links, news, discussion groups, audio files, and even a Phillip Glass jokes page.
There has never been a horn player quite like Miles Davis, and it's unlikely we're going to find again the consolation his music gave. My sentimental favorite is Bitches Brew, because that's when I first became aware of the man. You have to listen to the title cut at least twenty times before it makes sense, before you can fully appreciate the incredible, exultant melody bubbling up at the end through the miasma of swirling notes. THE OFFICIAL MILES DAVIS WEBSITE features loads of information on Miles, including a biography, discussion of his music, where to buy his albums, and more.
Keith Jarrett is our best pianist, easily crossing over between jazz, classical and his own inspired compositions. He's the guy who became famous for stopping his concert and glaring each time someone coughed or opened a crinkly bag of potato chips. Listening to his records, the brilliant way his fingers, flexing down, found a melody, I don't blame him. His best work is The Kohn Concert and Staircase. A good site devoted to him is at KEITH JARRETT. The site includes a brief biography, news of his latest activities, and a listing of his works.
How's your bird? One of the most enduring vocalists of this century has been Frank Sinatra. For classic Frank, check out No One Cares, one of his 'suicide albums' from the fifties, with orchestrations by the great Gordon Jenkins. You might want in particular to listen to 'Cottage For Sale' and 'Where Do You Go?'. For the swingin' Frank, his "Sinatra at the Sands", a live album with the Count Basie Orchestra, is a must. It includes two comic monologues by the Chairman. For latter day Frank, get "Everything Happens To Me", supposedly his pick of his favorite recordings from the sixties to the eighties. There are as many websites devoted to Frank as there were flecks of fresh parsley in his mother's recipe for meatballs, but certainly you might want to connect to SINATRA FAMILY, which is managed by Sinatra's family and includes broadsides against the press by daughter Nancy.
Frank Sinatra so dominated the big band male vocalist field a lot of other Italians had to listen from the kitchen. That's a shame, especially if it prevents you from hearing Tony Bennett. Never as popular as Frank, and known today primarily for "I Left My Heart in San Francisco", a good song but no showcase for his real talents (listen to "When Love Was All We Had" and "When Joanna Loved Me" for that), Bennett earned a resurgence of interest when he appeared on MTV's Unplugged. A recording of that broadcast is available on Columbia, after which you might want to sample one of his older albums, such as The Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Album on the Original Jazz Classics line put out by Fantasy. For the best Tony, buy The Art of Excellence, issued by Columbia. You can find out more about Bennett at TONY BENNETT. This is the 'official' Tony Bennett site these days.
When you want to have a party, more important than the bags of ice in the bathtub is inviting Louie Prima. His New Orleans good times ambience suffuses everything he did. He took some of the most familiar standards, like When the Saints Come Marching In and The Sheik of Araby, and added macaroni to them. He's the best tonic for a toothache or a pile of unpaid bills. JUMPIN' JIVE is an excellent website for Louie Prima information. It includes a brief biography, the covers of nearly all his albums, sample song lyrics, and a photograph of his grave. You might also want to drift over to SAM BUTERA, a site devoted to Prima's sax player and occasional vocalist.
Put on a Beach Boys record and you're right there, feeling your car's foot pedals under the bare balls of your soles, driving with windows down into a world of sun tan lotion, hot dog shacks, rhythmic wave crashes and the warmth of the sun. An excellent site for them is at THE BEACH BOYS FAN CLUB. When I lived in Southern California in the seventies I'd occasionally see an "I brake for Brian Wilson" bumpersticker. He came to exemplify both the good and bad effects of drugs.
There was no greater influence on how youth behaved in the sixties than the Rolling Stones. They were the rock gods. We believed they all lived together in a castle, waking up in a wide silk bed each morning surrounded by beautiful, naked Brits, trying on weird clothes all day in front of full-length mirrors, experimenting with drugs in the evening in the privacy of a sub-basement dining room, creating, at three o'clock in the morning, the most urgent music on the planet in a wide, low-ceilinged stable strewn with thick black cables. They were cool in a way the Beatles could never be, because they were so notorious. They ordered their limousine pulled over in the middle of the London night to piss against a wall and got arrested; they dressed up as nurses. Mick Jagger, their singer, with hair as long as a woman, wearing bright blouses and white socks, shouted over the top of the band in each recording, teenagers relistening to the lyrics over and over again, heads bent over the phonograph, trying to decipher them. More so than any other band of the sixties, the Stones were glamorous, much like Sinatra had been a generation before. Everyone wanted to be a Stone. No one wanted to be a Beatle. STONES DOT COM features a discography, album covers, tour news, and a year-by-year chronology of events in their lives.
Bob Dylan was probably more responsible than anyone else for transitioning us from pretty lyrics to ugly lyrics. In both cases, ironically, the lyrics still rhymed. Although he's thought of primarily for his words, his music really distinguishes him, from the carnival blues of Highway 61 Revisited to the thrumming guitar work of Blonde on Blonde. A comprehensive site devoted to Dylan is located at BOB DYLAN. It includes a search engine for his lyrics, interviews, and a Bob Dylan store.
In the late sixties, while still a skinny teenager, I found myself one night in a New York City apartment surrounded by advertising people I didn't know, all of whom decided to drop mescaline. This was a worknight, but again, it was also the sixties. I tried it myself, and zoned out for the next four hours, staring straight ahead. Thank God, the hostess had the sense to play The Grateful Dead. I don't know of any other band whose music is more infused with the sense of 'Everything's alright'. They should play the Dead during root canals and Clinton apologies. The official site is at DEAD NET. All the Dead lyrics, as well as annotations to those lyrics, can be found at THE ANNOTATED GRATEFUL DEAD LYRICS. Highly recommended.
My father taught me to drive, me gripping the hard, rippled steering wheel of the grey VW bug he bought me, trying to ignore his overlapping instructions to do this and watch out for that as we entered the Merritt Parkway. Trying to get away from his voice, I turned on the little radio that came with the VW. Out of the tiny speakers came the opening mournful organ notes of A Whiter Shade of Pale, and I suddenly felt such happiness at hearing one of my favorite songs in what would soon be my own car, I pressed my shoe all the way down on the gas pedal, propelling the VW forward so fast he let out a yelp, shouting at me to slow down. Which I did about three and a half minutes later, once the song ended. Procol Harum produced some great music, with Robin Trower on guitar, Matthew Fisher on organ and Gary Brooker on vocals, with lyrics by Keith Reid, but because a lot of their songs were outside what was generally perceived back then as pop music, they never really gained the fame they deserved. Their best album was their third, A Salty Dog, with its incredible title song. The official site is at BEYOND THE PALE. Their name has never been satisfactorily translated from the Latin, since any word in Latin following 'procol' must be in the ablative case, which 'harum' isn't, but 'Far from these things', 'Far from her' and 'Far out' are the leading contenders.
Randy Newman has written in just about every musical genre, from movie soundtracks to opera to McDonalds commercials, but his talent best comes through in the sly, quirksome body of work he's created in pop songs. 'Sail Away' is a radio commercial from the 1600's to attract Africans to relocate to America. 'You're Still the Same Girl' sounds like a tender love song, until you listen to the lyrics and realize you're overhearing a pimp's patter: 'A few more nights on the street, that's all. A few more holes in your arm.' He had an official site, but it's since disappeared. RANDY NEWMAN, maintained by a fan, provides some information about Newman, including his favorite books, and the transcripts of several interviews.
Mick Jagger watched a show by The Doors and declared afterwards Jim Morrison was 'a bore'. Okay, but I still remember how shocking it was to listen, on vinyl, for the first, fifteenth and fiftieth time to The End. No other group has ever come close since to ushering us into that kind of darkly poetic sound landscape-- not even the Doors themselves. The official site is at THE DOORS.
Some people have listened to "Ricki Don't Lose That Number" a hundred or more times and still think 'number' refers to a telephone number. That's the cleverness of Steely Dan. Combining their lyrical talents with 'jazz rock', Steely Dan created some great, enduring albums. A comprehensive site devoted to them is at STEELY DAN. The site includes interviews, links, words and music and images.
With band member names like Florian, and lyrics like "She's a model and she's looking good", one might think Kraftwerk was the electric light dorkestra of the seventies and eighties, but the truth was they made some of the best music available then. Autobahn and Trans Europe Express are standouts, but everything they did is riveting. The faithful live on at THE KRAFTWERK WEBRING. The site includes over 50 other sites you can access through the ring, including the official site.
Iggy Pop is one of our great lyricists, though he's rarely given that credit. Listen to The Idiot, Lust for Life, Soldier and Blah Blah Blah, his best albums. There's an honesty and humor to Pop you don't find elsewhere. A good site for him is located at IGGY POP.
David Bowie is the great survivor of our age. "Rock and Roll Suicide" probably helped as many listeners during the seventies as "Under Pressure" did during the eighties. His best work is on RCA: 'Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars', 'Diamond Dogs', 'Station to Station', 'Heroes', 'Lodger' and 'Scary Monsters'. His official website is at DAVID BOWIE, but of course he also has his own ISP at this point, Bowie.net, accessible from the official website, as well as a webring at BOWIE WEBRING. And he's also issuing stock in himself, which you can buy through Wall Street brokers. Not bad for a guy who used to sing about cracked actors who plead with male prostitutes to 'give me your head'.
Mary and I attended a Devo concert in Santa Barbara in the late seventies. While we waited outside the small concert hall with the others for the doors to open, we could hear Devo inside running through the songs they were going to play that evening, so that we got to experience their live music twice that night, once in heard but unseen rehearsal, and again in all their spudiverous onstage glory. Both concerts were great, even though at the official one we had to contend with a naked male dwarf who kept climbing drunkenly across the backs of the bolted seats throughout the music. DEVO features all kinds of background information, clips and photos. If you aren't a Boogie Boy yet, check out Are We Not Men, Freedom of Choice and New Traditionalists.
Back in the late seventies, while Mary and I were living in San Francisco, I picked up the telephone one night and ordered a pizza, giving my name, on a lark, as Brian Eno. You would not believe the attention we got from the cash register guy and the behind-the-counter pizza-flippers when we showed up, twenty minutes later, to get our order. Eno has been one of the greatest influences on pop music during the eighties. As a singer and writer, albums of his like Here Come The Warm Jets and Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy defined a new path for rock. As a producer, he ushered forward everyone from the then-current version of David Bowie (Low, Heroes, Scary Monsters) to the grungiest garage band. As a theorist, he produced a series of brilliant albums of 'ambient music', including Music For Airports, and hypnotic, repetitive theme albums, such as the haunting Jesus' Love Never Failed Me, with vocals by an anonymous British bum sprawled on a street corner in the 1940's, intercut with Tom Waits. Everything Eno can be found at ENO WEB, which includes a discography, reviews, disciussions, and ways to contact Eno.
Mary and I discovered Gary Numan in the record racks of Rock Pile Records in Goleta, California during the early eighties. What extraordinary songs he wrote: 'Me! I Disconnect From You', 'Are Friends Electric?' and 'I Die! You Die!' Numan's official site, quite comprehensive, is located at NU WORLD.
Elvis Costello is best known for his angry lyrics, but I think his real talent is for torch songs. One of the best albums to come out of the eighties was Imperial Bedroom, especially the cuts "Beyond Belief", "Shabby Doll", "Kid About It" and the heartbreaking "Boy With A Problem". He also does a fine rendition of "My Funny Valentine". Although he's in the rock camp, the wordplay in his lyrics is more reminiscent of country and western songs, which he devoted an album to with Kind of Blue. An excellent website for Elvis is at ELVIS COSTELLO ONLINE. It includes links, newsgroups, chat forums, tour news and backstage information.
Some of the most clever, literate lyrics of the Rock era have come from Don Henley, ex-Eagles drummer, who has built a solid solo career with a series of well-received albums, including Building the Perfect Beast and The End of the Innocence. Most of his songs deal with either broken love affairs or the state of the world, both popular subjects. Mary and I like to slide clumsy headphones down our scalps onto our ears, lying in bed on our backs in the darkness, listening to him in our ears at full blast. 'Somewhere back there in the dust, is that same small town in each of us.' His official site is at DON HENLEY.
Chris Isaac became a name with the haunting "Wicked World" from his album Heart-Shaped World, featured in David Lynch's Wild At Heart, where it springboarded onto virtually every playlist in America. All his albums are worth owning, and are great for late-night playing. His record company, Reprise (the company started by Frank Sinatra), has put up some pages about him at CHRIS ISAAK.
Some of the best instrumental music right now is composed and recorded by Angelo Badalamenti. Long associated with David Lynch, he is responsible for the slow, agonizing stairway ascent from somberness to heaven in Laura Palmer's Theme from Twin Peaks, the retro jazz on Lynch's other soundtracks, and, in producer and composer capacity on independent efforts, the doomed mood of pop albums such as Marianne Faithfull's A Secret Life, particularly the song Losing. The webpage ANGELO BADALAMENTI provides a biography, as well as discussions of all his major works.
American and English bands have long dominated popular music, but that's changing as more and more people get exposed to what is generally referred to as World Music, meaning music from mostly non-European cultures, and especially from Latino and African sources. Usually it's more joyful than a lot of what's being sung in English right now. The best way to introduce yourself to the music is through anthologies, so you can sample a large number of bands on one CD and decide what you like. Two of the best anthologies out right now are Exotica: World Music Divas, put out by RCA Victor, featuring ten different female vocalists from around the world; and Latino! Latino!, issued by the Putumayo World Music label, with ten South American bands (and which includes a beautiful rendition of No Me Llores by Siera Maestra). Cesaria Evora, a West African from Cape Verde who now lives in Paris, has been producing great music for decades; her recent album Mar Azul, recorded for Nonesuch, makes great use of her mellow voice on songs such as Cinturao Tem Mele ("The fickle woman dances the cha cha cha/her husband beats her with his belt/She carries on dancing the cha cha cha/does the belt taste of honey?"). ETHNOMUSICOLOGY, sponsored by the University of Washington, features an enormous number of world music links, by culture.
Like a lot of people, I thought for the longest time Creedence Clearwater was singing "There's a bathroom on the right." If you'd like to read how people misheard the lyrics of over 1,800 songs, go to KISS THIS GUY. The site includes information on when each contributor misheard a lyric, what they thought the lyric said, and what the lyric actually said.links
Bob Dylan said once that a song on the radio allows you to not think for three minutes. TV can extend that to hours. Sometimes, that's not so bad.
It's occurred to me the Internet as we know it will one day soon be viewed much as we now think of those primitive TV cabinets with the small black and white fishbowl tubes. Hopefully, something from these pioneering days of www will have the staying power of The Honeymooners. The set could not be simpler: a kitchen table smack dab in the middle of the stage, a window showing a fire escape. But oh, what dramas were played out! Ralph Kramden with his latest money-making scheme; a seated Norton repeatedly flailing his right arm up into the air, prepatory to signing on the dotted line; Ralph and Alice shouting at each other nose to nose. No other show so starkly depicted poverty, desperation and love. No other show has ever made me laugh or cry so hard. A website devoted to the show is located at THE HONEYMOONERS. It features video clips, memorabilia, books, episode summaries, and a trivia quiz.
While I was growing up, I wanted to live in Mayberry (now I want to live in Springfield). Everyone seemed so nice, the black and white Summer evenings seemed so redolent of southern fragrances, and no matter where you lived in town it was a short walk to buy a soda pop. Each show had home cooking, whittling, and a quiet moral at the end. The best featured Barney Fife, the google-eyed deputy with one bullet in the breast pocket of his police uniform, who wore eye-talian suits for his weekly dates at the town diner with his girl. A fun website devoted to The Andy Griffith Show is at THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW RERUN WATCHERS' CLUB. The site includes an episode guide, blueprint of the courthouse, an Ask the Writer feature, where fans can ask two of the writers from the show questions about obscure references in the dialogue, and a great deal more.
During the late fifties, early sixties, family sitcoms were wholesome. Everyone ate a sensible breakfast, got to school or work on time, and went to bed early. The Dick Van Dyke Show changed all that. The Petries were a young, sophisticated couple who drank, partied and argued with each other. Plus, for the first time, in Laura Petrie, played by Mary Tyler Moore, TV gave us the image of wife-as-lover, rather than wife-as-mother. THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW website includes an episode guide, trivia, video clips and other information.
John Cleese emerged as the major talent on Monty Python, but it wasn't until Fawlty Towers that he reached his peak. As Basil Fawlty, he was half owner with his wife Sybil ("my little nest of vipers") of a slightly seedy hotel that seemed to be in a constant state of health inspections, falling moose heads, poisoned veal, German guests and Brit glamour girls with paint handprints on their boobed sweaters. A good site for the series is at THE UNOFFICIAL GUIDE TO FAWLTY TOWERS, which includes a chat room, message board, spot the mistake feature, episode guide, and Did You Know? page (for example, did you know how long it took to create each show? Four months, and ten drafts).
The best show on TV right now is The Simpsons. It has so many sight gags you need a VCR to freeze frame the jokes. The show gets away with far more humor (bathroom and social) than any other, because it's a cartoon. You can visit Homer, Bart and the rest at THE SIMPSONS, which is the official site. A cartoon layout of the town allows to you to visit the different features on the site.
The longest running drama still on TV is Law and Order. Each week, police and prosecutors try to unravel a case with more twists than a Moebius strip. What's best is little time is wasted on the characters' private lives, and there's never, ever a 'very special' Law and Order episode. THE LAW AND ORDER EPISODE GUIDE offers credits and plot summary for each show, frequently asked questions (whatever happened to the pilot show, Everyone's Favorite Bagman, which has never been aired?), and links.
It makes sense the longest-running cooking show on TV would be a little demented. Cookin' Cheap offered Larry and Laban as two bemused hosts who prepared recipes (most of them casseroles with lots of cheese) sent in by viewers from up and down the east coast (the show originated on Virginia Public TV). Reruns of their show used to be available each Saturday and Sunday on Good Times TV (formerly Nostalgia TV), where you got to watch the boys dump canned ingredients into wobbly pots, mug at how awful the dishes they're preparing look, and appear in drag as the Cook Sisters. It was the perfect show to watch with a big breakfast and a hangover. Laban died after the 18th season. He was a great, kind, quietly funny gentleman, even when wearing a dress. Larry stuck it out for another few years with a new sidekick, but the show is now off the air. The website at COOKIN' CHEAP is still up, however.
Iron Chef is one of those shows that seems like a parody, but is in fact quite sincere. The long-running Japanese series, broadcast in English translation on The Food Network, features a battle each week between one of the Iron Chefs (there are four altogether, all Japanese, representing Japanese, Chinese, French and Italian cuisine), against a guest chef. During each battle, the Iron Chef selected by the challenger, and the challenger himself or herself, must prepare dishes in one hour which best present that week's ingredient. A tasting panel, usually composed of Japanese actresses, legislators, novelists and astrologers, then decide who did the better job. In Japan, where the show is treated quite seriously, the results of each battle are reported in the sports pages. Over the years we've had everything from Battle Caviar to Battle Beet. The dishes themselves are often created with extravagant ingredients (on one show, Battle Asparagus, a chef placed a dozen cooked lobsters, and a dozen raw lobsters, in a steamer above a plate of asparagus, to have the juices dripping down create a sauce.) You may start off laughing at the pomp and occasional corniness of the show, but once you get caught up in it, there's something endearing and admirable about people caring so much about food. IRON FANS has an episode guide, FAQ, current Iron Chef news, and many other features. It's nice to know there's still somewhere in the world where boneless chicken breast in a reduced raspberry and wild mushroom sauce is not enough.
HBO's THE SOPRANOS is without question one of the best dramatic series ever aired on television, for a number of reasons. Its star, James Gandolfini, who plays Tony Soprano, the head of a New Jersey mob family, is one of those rare actors who is courageous enough to present himself in an unflattering light, and skillful enough to show us the full range of his character's psyche, on his face, whether that face is showing boredom, resentment, fury, embarrassment, or little boy charm. Although most shows and films about organized crime cop out in the worse way, depicting the mob as romantic (glamorous nightclubs where the young hood, dark eyebrows and tux, is treated like a god, old dons listening to opera with a tear in their eye, like the crap found in the Godfather films), The Sopranos focuses on the numbingly mundane day-to-day life of these goons, all of them sitting around for hours in cheap joints, trying to think of something to say to pass the time, misquoting and mispronouncing, taking a crap in the can. In addition to being great drama, the show is also great satire, perhaps the best we've had.
HBO's SIX FEET UNDER is my favorite show. The problem with network drama (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX) isn't that they're not allowed to show nudity or say 'Fuck', it's that they are apparently incapable of presenting less than perfect people. The main characters of a network drama may occasionally get moody, or lose their temper, but by the end of each episode, their well-being is restored, and they themselves are once again presented as decent, likable people. Six Feet Under isn't like that. The characters are often selfish, weak, foolish, hypocritical, and wrong-headed, just like you and me, and just like us, they struggle, each in their own way, to make sense of their lives. The frame of the story is a family-owned mortuary. The father of the family dies in the first episode, leaving the business to his wife, his two adult sons, and teenage daughter. He himself reappears occasionally, from the afterlife, as the family struggles with the business, and their own lives, and it's this metaphysical aspect to the show, coupled with the realistic portrayal of the characters, that gives the show its depth. The Sopranos and Six Feet Under are both benchmark dramas, I love them both, but Six Feet Under is emotionally moving in a way The Sopranos isn't. Each season of Six Feet Under has been better than the last. An excellent unofficial site devoted to Six Feet Under is located at SIX FEET UNDER FAN, which includes photographs, synopses and transcripts from some of the episodes. Highly recommended. What an unofficial site should be.links
Horror is dread read in bed. Whether it's a luxuriously wide staircase you ascend within the grey walls of a castle, or the pulse of blood percolating above a white wrist, no other genre taps so deeply into us.
SCOTOPIA PRESS, run by Molly Feese and C.D. Allen, is an exciting new venture in horror publishing and film making, dedicated to producing intelligent, artistic works of dark entertainment. Their publishing efforts at this time include a Dark Distortions anthology series, and a line of novellas under the title Frightscripts. Both editors are highly talented. Scotopia Press is likely to become a significant influence in the genre. Highly recommended.
HORROR LIBRARY is a site created by R.J. Cavender featuring stories, reviews and interviews specific to the genre by The Terrible Twelve (twelve writers who contribute to the site), plus submissions from a growing base of additional authors and artists. HL also features a blog, forum, and opportunity to network with others. Worth a look.
SEASONS IN THE NIGHT is a new print magazine edited by Chrystal Berche (Timothy Young is the poetry editor) devoted to dark fantasy, speculative fiction, horror and the bizarre. They're actively seeking short stories, flash fiction, poetry, book and movie reviews, and artwork.
BRITISH HORROR FILMS surveys the entire history of horror films made in the U.K.
CRYPT CRAWL is another massive horror links site, with over 5,000 sites listed, broken into categories such as costumes, haunted houses, and horror fiction.
DARKECHO, maintained by Paula Guran, features essays, reviews, interviews, links, and a do-it-yourself workshop for horror writers.
DARK SIDE OF THE WEB, one of the oldest of all the on-line horror sites (it was established in 1994) contains over 11,000 active horror links, including dark art, dark games, dark toys, dark music, dark chat rooms, latest dark news, etc. Probably the best source on the Internet for horror sites.
Forest J. Ackerman is one of the mainstays of twentieth century horror. His magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland was the first periodical devoted to horror movies, introducing sneakered boys in the fifties to some great films and terrible puns. He lives in southern California, in his 18-room 'AckerMansion', his kitchen, living room, bedrooms and garage stacked to the ceilings with artifacts such as Bela Lugosi's Dracula cape and Lon Chaney Sr.'s make-up kit. He used to have his own website, but that's apparently gone away. You can see a picture of him at CEREMONY, which features his own face, as well as an exploded head of his face.
FILMFANZINE is a new website created especially for fans of horror, science fiction and fantasy films who want to share their views, either in the site's forums, or by contributing articles that will be posted on-line. The site also includes news items and links to movie trailers.
HORROR emphasizes horror in movies, as well as fan events, and offers posters and memorabilia for sale.
The HORROR FIND site includes a search engine for locating different sub-genre sites on the Web, including author sites, movies, vampires, werewolves, etc. A great idea.
Universal Studios has a site devoted to its horror films at HORROR ONLINE that features some good Flash effects. A Flash 5 player is required. The site takes about three and a half minutes to download on a 56k modem.
HORROR REPORT is a weird, but actually kind of interesting, mix of news about horror movies intermingled with news about recent real-life calamities and weirdnesses such as political scandals, chocolate workers falling into a vat of chocolate, UFO sightings, people who have had their penis bitten off by an animal, etc.
HORROR SCREENWRITER'S PAGE includes hundreds of links, and some informational articles, on writing screenplays for horror films. Many of the links point to interviews with other horror screenwriters who discuss their craft, and screenwriting contests.
Still another site for horror movies, but this one for classic and cult films, is HORROR-WOOD, a monthly e-zine in its third year. In addition to retrospectives on films such as Last House on the Left and earlier, classic horror films from the thirties and forties, Horror-Wood features a regular column on video-buying tips, and a 'Gore-respondance' page full of readers' letters. It's a fun site.
UPCOMING HORROR MOVIES includes reviews and news of recent and soon to be released horror films, as well as a chat area and bulletin board.
GREAT HORROR MOVIES RESOURCE GUIDE lists 35 important horror films, with a brief description of each and a link to each movie's website.
AVANT PUNK is the official website for Carlton Mellick III, author of Electric Jesus Corpse, Satan Burger, and a number of other novels and story collections.
S.D. HINTZ is a poet, short story writer, novelist (Roses in Primrose), and actor (in addition to a stage production, he also appeared as a zombie in the movie Doomed to Consume). His site includes samples of his fiction and poetry, as well as an excerpt from his novel in progress, Twinflower.links
Miscellaneous is to lists like anonymous is to poetry: one of those great troves filled with glitter and litter. The sites below, in the true spirit of misc., are presented in no particular order. Hop away.
If Big Brother still wants to spy on us, he's going to have to get in line, because there are a lot more people at the peephole. Thanks to technology, we don't even need a ladder to look in someone's window anymore, because that person has now thoughtfully provided a webcam right in their room for us. MARCUS' LIVE, STREAMING VIDEO CAMS offers visitors over 300 streaming video cam links in America, Europe, Japan and Australia, everything from bars to street corners to apartments. I briefly watched a video cam placed in an upper corner of a pub in Ireland. Two men and a woman were talking to each other, six elbows on the bar. One of the men swiveled his head around suddenly, because apparently, judging by his expression, an old friend was coming through the door. It felt spooky, observing people who don't know I'm observing them, almost as if I were a ghost. If you want to spy on yourself, or at least where you live (and who knows, maybe you were outside that day, shoveling snow or mowing the lawn), try GLOBEXPLORER. GlobeXplorer has "the world's largest commercial archive of earth imagery". Satellites have been photographing most of the earth's surface for years now, in enough detail to read license plates, and GlobeXplorer allows you to access those photos, for free (they also offer for-fee services for commercial uses). Want to see where you live? Click the "Image Viewer" link, then type in your address (if you live in America or England. Otherwise, type in a major city). You'll be taken to a page with two screens. The left screen is the actual satellite image of your locale (I was able to locate our own home right away). The right is a standard street map to help orient you. Using the left, right and zoom features, you can lower yourself down into the image. Who knows? At the time the picture was taken, you may even have been on the sidewalk out front, or in the backyard (let's hope you weren't doing anything illegal). You can enter any address you want-- it doesn't have to be your own. For me, the java version was a little easier to use while navigating. If you don't want to look at other people or yourself, look at God. NASA's ASTRONOMY PICTURE OF THE DAY features beautiful, full color photographs with titles like, A Frosty Crater on Mars, Jupiter Swallows Comet Shoemaker Levy 9, and The Surface of Titan. Archives at the site include about half a year's worth of pictures. Each one, when selected, includes an explanation, "written by a professional astronomer", of what you're seeing.
Everyone has an opinion on everything, it seems. THE DRUDGE REPORT includes links to dozens of columnists, everyone from Rush Limbaugh to Nat Hentoff, as well as long lists of links to national and international newspapers and wire services. Some of the best opinions are expressed through humor. A joke is as true as the size of the laugh it gets. For humor so straight-faced you might confuse it with real news, visit THE ONION.
Andy Kaufman was one of the greatest comedians of his time. When he was a little boy he'd pretend there was a hidden camera in his bedroom, beaming his little boy routines to the nation. After he turned professional, he paid people to heckle him during his act until there was a sheen of flop sweat on his forehead. At the height of his career he took a part-time job as a busboy at an L.A. eatery. Another bit? Something else? He was so good at put-ons that when his office announced he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, the nation sat back in its sofa, chuckling and reaching sideways for popcorn. Go to GOOFING ON ELVIS for a chronology of his life, reminiscences by people who knew him, video clips and last days.
I saw a flying saucer when I was eleven. Up close. I was walking along a dirt road behind a row of houses, felt a tingle, and turned around to see a brilliant bright silver saucer with portholes hanging soundless in the air, half-hidden behind a tree top. I remember it as clearly today as I do any memory of mine. Anyone who doesn't believe we are being visited is an ostrich. One of the most important voices today in extraterrestrial research is the novelist Whitley Strieber, whose book Communion re-awoke people to the challenge of discovering what is going on. His site UNKNOWN COUNTRY features a great deal of information on visitor phenomenon, as well on-line access to journals kept by himself and his wife Anne, information on his weekly radio show, Dreamland, and much more.
There is nothing like a dame or a Big Mac. McDonalds is featured in a couple of my fictions: Despair at McDonalds and Father Figure. I remember visiting a McDonald's in the early sixties with my family, and marveling over the fact here was a restaurant where the food was already warm and ready before you pulled up, it was cheap (I think a hamburger back then cost about fifteen cents), and, most amazingly, you got the food from the bright inside, but ate it in your car in the dark parking lot. McDonalds orchestrated a brilliant move into breakfast foods (Egg McMuffin as an on-the-go substitute for Eggs Benedict, a sort of Eggs Fred, and hand-held hash browns), but then tripped over their Ronald McDonald feet trying to introduce chicken. We were waiting in line at the drive-thru once and Mary pointed to a row of parking spaces off to one side labeled, 'Parking For Drive-Thru'. Sad. Still, the Big Mac remains the big fast food feast, something tall, soft and tasty to sink your teeth through. Pull up to their site at MCDONALDS.
Figure skating is like flying, but it's also like climbing hundreds of stairs in four minutes. Your leg muscles jump and twitch afterwards. To access links to all the bladed stars twirling up in the air to perform triple sowcows, making it look easy and graceful, click over to SKATE WEB, which also includes up-to-date competition results.
The Smoking Gun is a perfect Internet site, featuring photocopies of documents in the public domain and those released through the Freedom of Information Act. Here's a great place to read the actual, weirdly solicitous ransom note the kidnappers supposedly left for John Ramsey, or to scroll down the Complaint filed in Los Angeles against Jack Nicholson in 1997 by a pair of prostitutes, alleging he cheated them out of their thousand dollar a night fee after receiving their services. Investigate at THE SMOKING GUN.
The New Yorker is no longer as hip as it once was. Its fiction has fallen off from the fifties (they no longer take the chances they once did, unfortunately), their poems are mostly about seagulls perching on a gray-weathered fence, its political reportage is a bit doddering, and its reviews can be rather staid. But it still has good cartoons. Now you can access 1,800 New Yorker cartoons at THE CARTOON BANK. You have to register in order to view the cartoons, but once you do, you can search their database for free (there is a licensing fee if you want to reproduce a cartoon). Or, if you just want to browse without registering, click on the Cartoon Channel link, and a new cartoon will open every ten seconds. Where else do you get to smile every ten seconds for as long as you want?
MIND CONTROL FORUM includes case histories and links to different people around the world who feel they've been victims of government 'psychotronic' experiments. Proof is offered through MRI's showing implants in the victims' brains, and photographs of dental surgery to remove transmitters from victims' jaws. The site includes pages from government employees who claim they worked on secret projects to transmit voices to different people's heads.
Richard M. Nixon was our most psychologically-burdened president since Abraham Lincoln. It's still fashionable to dislike him, even though he was easily one of the most complex men we have ever had in that high office. The first line of his autobiography reads, "I was born in a house my father built." He was honest enough to have crafted the double meaning of that sentence. THE NIXON FOUNDATION is the official Nixon presence on the Web, and features a wide variety of information on the man and his times.
There's a great joy in flipping through a glossy catalog and lingering over all the shit we'd order if we only had the money. Dean & Deluca is one of the best resources for this kind of imagining, featuring as it does marinated artichokes from Italy at $57.50 a jar, and Beluga caviar at $105.00 for 2 ounces ("It takes twenty years for the female to mature, hence the high cost and rarity of this steel-gray delicacy"). I wonder how much 'hence' adds to the price. If your pantry is low on Sullivan Harbor Farm Atlantic Smoked Salmon, Mozzarella Braids or Terra Blanca Truffle Flavored Oil, please queue up at DEAN & DELUCA
When Andy Warhol said that in the future everyone would be famous for fifteen minutes he wasn't thinking about the Internet, but the truth is Andy's future is our present, and now we can all be famous for a little while, through personal websites. Sites are easy to create-- all you need do is obtain space on a server (such as GeoCities, AngelFire, the free homepage that usually comes with your Internet connection, or a professional hosting service if you've purchased your own domain), and type the proper HTML codes to create your pages (HTML codes determine the appearance of your page: font size, background color, where a picture will appear, etc. They're very easy to learn). To view the HTML codes for this page, for example, click View at the top of the screen, then click Page Source if you're using Netscape, Source if you're using Internet Explorer (to get back to this page, click the X in the upper right corner). Many sources on the Web offer free pages, and most of them even allow you to create (relatively simple) pages without having to know HTML. If you do want to learn the codes, and you really should, to have more control over your site, there are a number of books available, as well as on-line tutorials, such as SIZZLING HTML JALFREZI. The standards for HTML coding are determined by W3C WORLD WIDE WEB CONSORTIUM, the most comprehensive site on the Web for a discussion of HTML. After you've had a page on the Internet for a while through a free hosting service such as GeoCities, you may decide you'd like to have your own domain (in other words, a website that reads www.thenameyouchoose.com). To get your own domain, you have to register the name you've chosen. Registration can be performed through NETWORK SOLUTIONS or a number of other services, or can be done for you through the hosting service you choose (this is usually the easiest way to register a domain). There are a large number of web-hosting services to choose from (search on "web hosting" on GOOGLE or another search engine to get a list). Customer service response time and reliability is important with any hosting service you choose (if you have a problem with your site you need to be able to contact the hosting service to get it fixed), so once you've narrowed your choice down to a half dozen or so hosting services, I'd recommend e-mailing each of them with a question just to see how quickly you get a response. If the response takes longer than 24 hours, especially on a weekday, you might want to look elsewhere. Counters, guestbooks, message boards, and backgrounds are available for free by entering the appropriate word in a search engine. The text is in your head.
The greatest beer in the world is Spaten Optimator, brewed for over 600 years in Munich, and from 1516 according to the Bavarian Purity Law. After Mary and I garden under the hot Texas sun all Saturday, there's nothing better than sitting back in our outdoor chairs, tilting an iced bottle of Optimator above our lips, letting all that cold darkness seep down into our sweaty bodies. The official Spaten site is at SPATEN USA. The most refreshing soft drink in the world is Canada Dry Ginger Ale. Ginger ale was invented by the Irish in the 1850s, and for 70 years, from 1860 to 1930, was the number one soft drink in America, hoisted more often than any other from the Civil War to the Great Depression. Chill a can in the fridge for a few days, pour it over crackling ice the following Saturday morning, sip its clean coldness over the curved rim of a goblet, and you see with your throat what the world was meant to be. Surprisingly, there's no official Canada Dry site on the Web (a canadadry.com went up early in 1999, subsequently vanished, and is now apparently in the process of returning). For the best fruit or vegetable drink, unscrew a squat bottle of ice cold Clamato and pour it into a tall glass, no ice. The taste is positively addictive. I realize some people born a thousand miles from an ocean are skittish about clams, but really you have no idea how good this stuff is until you let it coldly flood your teeth and tongue. I hope I die at 99 after having sex and Clamato. The official site is at CLAMATO.links
SENTENCE includes a research page which links to over 800 sites in these categories: