BOOK NEWS – DRUNK SLUTTY ELF AND ZOMBIES

Just a quick note.  DRUNK SLUTTY ELF AND ZOMBIES has been uploaded to IngramSpark.  It can now be ordered from the 40,000 platforms, including thousands of brick and mortar bookstores that IngramSpark spark!

Just a note of explanation – IngramSpark is to print books what Amazon is to Ebooks. They’re a giant publisher and distributor, hosting many titles, and providing services to small and independent publishers.  Getting onto IngramSpark is potentially a major breakthrough.

Does that mean I’ll be getting into real bookstores?  Probably not. The economics don’t quite work.

Basically, physical bookstores operate on a rip and return basis.  They order books, they try to sell them within a specific period of time. If they don’t, then they just rip off the covers, send them back, junk the rest and only pay for what they’ve sold.  Believe it or not, that’s the way it’s been working for a hundred years, and it’s been working fine… mostly. It’s the operating mode for books, magazines and newspapers.  And it works fine for big publishers, dealing in substantial volumes.

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TINY PLASTIC MEN – JUST GO WATCH IT

Tiny Plastic Men scores AMPIA award nominations | National Screen Institute - Canada (NSI)

I’m a horrible person. I freely admit that. But I’m not horrible all the time. I have moments when I’m even okay to be around.

And when those moments happen, you’ll find me searching for the gently quirky, the strange, the oddball. All those hidden treasures and diamonds in the rough we all go blasting past, on our way to our busy lives.

Which brings me to Tiny Plastic Men, a very quirky, very fun little television series that deserves cult status and a lot more attention than it seems to have gotten.

Tiny Plastic Men is about three guys who work in a little independent toy company, Gottfried Brothers. Gottfried isn’t Mattel or Lego, but by God, they’re in there giving it their all, from board games, to action figures, to video games and somehow, they’ve managed to care themselves a niche.

Our heroes are three peons who work in the testing department: Crad, played by Chris Craddock — the everyman of the group, middle aged, divorced, burnt out, anger issues and yet somehow struggling to get by and be a decent person while pining for his boss, for whom he nurses a crush; October, played by Mark Meer, who starts off goth and gets seriously weird, and Addison, played by Matthew Alden, a kind of stereotypical lovable lunk of a manchild. Rounding out the cast are Alexandra Gottfried, played by, Belinda Cornish, daughter of old man Gottfried, and a piranha in a woman’s body, who Crad pines for. Beyond that, there’s a revolving cast of recurring characters.

Given that this is a show about three buddies working as product testers in some second string toy factory, you shouldn’t expect this to be your regular sitcom about people sitting around their apartments or having real jobs in the real world. There’s a basic silliness to the premise, a bit of surrealism, a bit of absurdity, a lot of off the wall stuff. This is not Friends, trust me. It’s not even the Big Bang Theory.

In fact, I don’t think that there’s anything quite like it. The closest I can come to is a sort of Earthbound version of Red Dwarf or perhaps a more insane version of the IT Crowd.

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THE FALL GUY STUMBLES

The Fall Guy: Ryan Gosling & Emily Blunt, Two Forces Of Barbenheimer, Get A Thumbs Up In Test ...

So, I watched the Fall Guy, starring Ryan Gosling, and a bunch of other people I don’t really care about, and I came away … “meh.” Not even “Meh!” Just… “…meh…”

I kind of wondered why. It had all the ingredients. A bankable star, big set pieces, charismatic leads and supporting crew, a story. But oddly, I felt unmoved.

In some ways, I think I was hoping for something akin to “The Stuntman.” If you haven’t seen it, go find it. Basically, the Stunt man is about some shlub, he’s escaping prison or something, and he stumbles into a movie set, and ends up in the middle of some hair raising stunt sequence where he’s scrambling, terrified for his life, as everything goes to hell around him, until suddenly the Director yells ‘cut!’

Seems that the movie has lost a stunt man, he died or something, and our hero is thrown into the wild world of movie making, struggling through ridiculously contrived and impossible stunts, as a Godlike Director harangues everyone. Brilliant film. I want to go watch it now.

Then I think there’s an old Burt Reynolds movie, Hooper (guessing) about a stuntman. In it, Reynolds plays a stunt man, slowly wrecking his body, as he commits to increasingly dangerous stunts, second guessing his life, coping with rivals, trying to build a relationship and struggling with a callous director. I don’t know that it’s briliant, and there’s a lot of Burt Reynold’s being Burt in it. But there’s also something genuine in it, perhaps Burt had some resonance and insight into the tough guy stuntmen doing risky, reckless work that makes it worth a watch. That seemed more affecting than the fall guy.

But this? It just never really engages. For a movie about movie stunts, there’s remarkably little engagement. We never see the intricacies of how stunts are pulled off, the meticulous care going into an effect, the degree of planning, or the degree of genuine risk. We mostly just see stunts. But we know they’re all stunts, even when they’re played for real, so it kind of falls into this uncanny valley of artifice.

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COMING SOON – SQUAD 13

[draft cover by Dean Naday]

SQUAD 13 –  Suppose all those unkillable, masked slashers from the 80s and 90s were rounded up and enlisted into the army as a nightmare squad of unstoppable killing machines. Suppose you used them for problems just as terrifying – vampire infestations, zombie outbreaks, alien invasions, incursions from another dimension, all those supernatural paranormal nightmares. The situation is bad, the Squad goes in and they never leave survivors. Suppose they’re worse than anything they face. Suppose you’re trapped in their nightmare.

Welcome to the Attic! My Youtube Channel!

WELCOME TO THE PREMIERE of my new YouTube Channel “The Attic, with D.G. Valdron”, which will feature info on my books and novels, as well as takes on literature, movies and TV that may amuse and disturb.
The whole thing is driven by my friend, Dean Naday, the producer of the channel, and Patrick Lowe, our guest editor. Dean in particular is the driving force. Dean’s background is in Independent films, and he’s produced and directed works including The Exquisite Corpse, Momento Mori and StarWatchers.  Dean has been pushing us to get a youtube channel going, and I’m really looking forward to collaborating with him on an ongoing basis. Patrick of course, has his own Youtube channel and a long history as an animator and independent film maker.
There’s a video on last year’s booklaunch of my “Drunken Elf Chronicles” hosted by the Manitoba Writers’ Guild at Artspace, and a separate video on the questions and answers session during the event.  There’s also a movie review of “The Marvels”, and a video analysis on how the DCU failed as a superhero movie franchise. In the next couple of weeks I’ll have an introductory video on Dr. Who fan films, and a video on the Canadian cult sci-fi series “The Lexx”.
In the future there’ll be more videos related to my books, as well as movie and TV reviews, and perhaps interviews with other writers, artists and assorted mad and unsavoury types.
Please check out the channel, and consider liking, subscribing and commenting on the videos, and of course share with your friends and others who might appreciate the content.

WORLD FANTASY NEW ORLEANS, REVIEW AND RUMINATION

Well, World Fantasy Convention 2022 in New Orleans is over, and as usual, it is followed by my ongoing existential crisis.

Overall, the big positive of the experience was that it was New Orleans. Storied, marvellous New Orleans, capital of French North America, traded back and forth between the Spanish, French, British and the Americans, birthplace of Jazz and blues, center of Cajun and creole culture, gateway to the Mississippi and entrance to the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, the ultimate crossroads, alluring, magical, historical, every bit of it steeped in romance. There are other remarkable cities in North America, but there’s none quite like New Orleans.

I’ve wanted to see it my whole life. I remember being heartbroken by Hurricane Katrina, horrified by the devastation, but heartbroken by the idea that something unique and marvellous might be destroyed forever, that I’d never get to see it.

My brother, in a moment of insight, tells me I’m A to B. That my trajectory is a straight line, I am purpose driven as an arrow, launching relentlessly towards a target. I am object oriented. I couldn’t just go to New Orleans. I needed a purpose.

And the World Fantasy Convention gave that to me – a reason to be there.

I took advantage of it, arriving several days early to play tourist and go sightseeing, delighting in buying overpriced merch, because this was New Orleans tourist junk. I took the tourist tours on double decker buses and ghost walks, spent Halloween night on Bourbon Street, rode the streetcars to the ends of their line, took a ferry. I wandered all over the French Quarter, Algiers Point, the Waterfront and Riverwalk, Garden District, Business district, visited the Graveyards. Ate in restaurants. Made and hung out with friends. There was music and musicians everywhere, on streets, in restaurants, everyone playing. I love the way people spoke, the cheerful rush of words, the playfulness of the banter.

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Goodbye Whittaker

Well, The Power of the Doctor aired this week, officially bringing the Jody Whittaker/Chis Chibnall era to an end.  The five year reign of Jody Whittaker, through three foreshortened seasons and a handful of specials is over and done with. So it goes.  What a waste of time and money.
I don’t suppose this matters to anyone. The Misogyny brigade will cheer. The feminist brigade will gnash their teeth.
But honestly, I ended up watching Legends of the Sea Devils three times over a few months, and it broke me. I’ve rewatched Flux,  Whittaker’s third series. I rewatched her Dalek specials.  I’ve been rewatching episodes from the first and second series.
And you know what? It’s just terrible.  Half assed, appalling writing, trite and cliched. Endless dropped threads, subplots that get abandoned. Even the episodes we’re supposed to like because they’re ‘good for us’ are sub-par and trading on their virtue.  Once in a while something good or interesting comes along, a notion, an idea, a bit of characterization. But it’s immediately ganged up on and beaten to death by the mediocre elements.
But watching it all over again made me realize something.
Whittaker herself?  She was terrible.  She was absolutely terrible.
Maybe she’s a really good actress in other movies or television series. But she’s not here. Her performance is flat, wooden, preening.  It’s a terrible, inconsistent performance without a scintilla of life or charisma.
And before you call me a misogynist pig, I’ve actually written books about Women playing the Doctor and succeeding. The Pirate Histories of Doctor Who.  Barbara Benedetti played the Doctor through four stories from 1984 to 1988, and the Seattle actress was flat out brilliant.  Sharon Horton played the Doctor in two stories, one of which was a three part serial in the 1990s, and she did it well.  Lily Daniel played the Doctor through two episodes of the Ginger Chronicles a decade ago.  Krystal Moore played the Doctor in Doctor Who – Velocity, through nine short episodes, right now.
They all brought different interpretations to the Doctor – confidence, resilience, flamboyance, cleverness, compassion. But they all had one thing in common: They were better Doctors than Whittaker.

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Farewell to LEXX

As of June/July, 2022, literally twenty years after the show went off the air, long after almost anyone else cared, my long, long relationship with LEXX comes to an end, with the release of trade paperbacks of each of the four volume LEXX Unauthorized series, and the release of an audio-book version of volume one.

This feels significant, if only to me. But here I am, I’ve got a blog, so I’ve got a forum to talk about it.

To begin with: What is LEXX?

It’s a television series that ran four seasons from 1997 to 2002, about an organic spaceship, a ten mile long dragonfly designed to blow up planets. The ship was stolen by a wayward crew of misfits – Stanley Tweedle, a former security guard fourth class; Zev or Xev Bellringer, a rebellious wife and escaped love slave; Kai, an undead former assassin, and 790 a love-struck robot head.

Over the course of four seasons, they fought an evil empire, destroyed a planet sized bug, presided over the destruction of an entire universe, went to heaven and hell, and ended up on Earth, where things didn’t go well.

It was also a marvellously surreal and subversive show, owing as much to Barbarella and film makers like Bunuel and Jodorowsky as it did Star Trek and Star Wars. It frequently indulged surrealist and absurdist sensibilities, introducing stunning images and ideas. It was, quite simply unique.

And it was a thoroughly Canadian product, even a regional product, conceived, produced and populated by Atlantic Canadians, from Salter Street Films in Halifax. The background story of its creation and production was almost as unconventional, bizarre and entertaining as anything on camera.

I loved it.

I loved it enough to write books about it.

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