Ray Harryhausen with two of his creations, Calibos and Medusa, from the 1981 fantasy film Clash of the Titans.
Today, a great artist died. And though everyone may not know his name, I’d be surprised if there were any film lovers out there who hadn’t seen something of his work.
This isn’t going to be one of those great tributes to Ray Harryhausen, where I tell you how the visual effects master changed the course of my life. I never met the man, though I feel that I knew him well from his craft. I didn’t suddenly decide to become a filmmaker, or pursue a career in special effects or make-up. I never even went to art school.
This is the story of a kid, who at the tender age of six or seven, found himself staring at a drive-in movie screen from the backseat of his parents’ car. He watched in wonder as a sorcerer transformed a woman into a half-snake / half-human monster in the 1958 classic The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.
It’s the kind of thing that leaves an impression on you.
At the time, despite my age, I understood this was movie magic. Some great artist behind the camera had created the snake woman and made me think she was real, moving… alive. But I knew it it was a trick, and I wanted to know how it was done. More importantly, I wanted to see it again. And again. And again.
It’s not every day that I get a chance to interview a celebrity super villain. But this is no ordinary day and the professor is no ordinary villain. In fact, it was sort of a reunion for the two of us.
I met Professor T.ERROR last year when we collaborated on a piece for the new anthology A Method to the Madness: A Guide to the Super Evil from Five Rivers Publishing. A conclave of The Super Evil was accepting scholarly papers to include in a handbook of evil-doing, and the professor wanted some help putting his thoughts to paper. (Like so many in his profession, he tends to monologue quite a bit and needs a good editor.)
After his paper was accepted for the anthology, I figured that would be the end of our association. But now that the book has come out, Professor T.ERROR is doing the promotion circuit and trying to get people interested in his work. He asked if I would be willing to help kickstart the whole thing, and I suggested we do an interview.
Unfortunately, Professor T.ERROR is still a guest of the United States government at their federal facility in Leavenworth, Kansas. So, we set up a phone interview (no e-mail allowed) and I asked him his thoughts on super villainy, technology, and career advancement.
Although difficult to see in the gathering gloom of twilight, there’s a giant gorilla climbing this building.
We all hear stories about weird things that happen in the woods. Whether its the Pacific Northwest or the Appalachian mountains, it seems the farther from civilization one gets the more likely one is to experience something primal and dangerous.
Last week, something unusual happened to me and my wife on our vacation to the Ozarks. So I thought I’d recount my story — at great risk to my personal reputation — in hopes of saving others from a similar fate.
To celebrate our eighth anniversary, I arranged a short getaway for my wife and I. The whole trip hinged on seeing Fantastic Caverns, in Springfield, Missouri. But when I started looking at hotel options, I decided to extend the trip past Springfield to stay at what appeared to be a nice little resort.
My wife and I love adventure, so we set our sights on a whirlwind tour that was going to be our most kitschy vacation yet. Rachel decided we would do every touristy thing we could find in the short time allotted, and she compiled an itinerary to hit some landmark tourist traps.
“There’s always a market for old media. I mean, if you think about it, even stone tablets still have a place in our society. They just happen to be in cemeteries.”
~ Peter Kreisky, media industry advisor and strategist, founder and chairman of the Kreisky Media Group
From “Reader’s Digest Fails to Adapt to Internet Speed,” National Public Radio’s Morning Edition (Feb. 19, 2013).
Posted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) on Twitter.
This weekend, the sky exploded with some rare excitement from our cosmic neighborhood. But it wasn’t the excitement we expected. It was actually far worse.
In case you don’t pay attention to these things, February 15 was already set to be an interesting day — astronomically speaking. Asteroid 2012 DA14 (sexy designation, no?) was scheduled to fly by Earth with an alarming near-miss.
How close? Well, scientists calculated it would pass by about 17,500 miles from our big blue ball in space. That’s even closer than our communication satellites, which orbit at 23,000 miles.
Now, we get close shaves all the time, but this asteroid could have caused some damage. Measuring about half a football field in length, a hit by this asteroid might have flattened a few square miles. Not so dangerous if it hits in the ocean, but pretty devastating if it hit — for example — Chicago.
Scientists told us not to worry, though, because these things happen every 40 years or so. And they only actually hit the Earth every 1,200 years.
Feel better? The folks in Russia don’t.
What’s a Weekend Update? It’s that thing, where a writer pretends that he’s posting to his blog, but it’s really just a collection of links to other things. It’s got links. It’s got glitter-slime. It’s got a monkey pushing Betty White in a wheelbarrow…
It’s Friday, so it’s time for a quick weekend update to let you know what’s going on. Let’s get to the news!
This has been a busy week. As you can see by the 23 Challenge widget over on the sidebar, I’m making steady progress on my short story. (Yay, me!) I haven’t had time to write every day, but I am doing what I can to keep the forward momentum going.
Yesterday, I posted over at The Confabulator Cafe. This week, we’re talking about why the world needs stories. I decided to look specifically at cautionary tales, and why they’re important. Intrigued? Then I encourage you to read: “Why We Always Need Cautionary Tales.”
I’d also like to take this opportunity to remind you that bad luck can happen at any time. Please make sure you’re protected. Support your local Leprechaun
Mafia Small Business Community. BadLuckIsComing.com
Finally, I promise there is a lot more to come on this website. It is my fervent hope to get caught up on some of my projects this weekend, so I can bring you more great articles next week.
Until then, be uniquely you.
As I promised earlier this week, I’m launching my “23 in 2013 Challenge” this month. To get this party started, I’m going to concentrate on a short story I’ve been wanting to write for a few weeks. The story is tentatively titled “Casualties of Time.”
“Casualties” is a science fiction story about a modern day government agent who finds himself time-shifted to November 1948, into the middle of a war between Earth and “Martians.”
To start today’s discussion about creativity, we’re going to begin with a pep talk from Kid President. Enjoy!
Finished? Okay, good. Let’s get started.
January is almost over and I have very little to show for it (aside from some LEGO sets I put together). I have hardly worked on my novel. I have stalled on the short story I was working on over the past couple of weeks. But I did complete my flash fiction assignment for The Confabulator Cafe.
But seriously, where did the month go?
That’s why I’m taking the challenge to be more creative.
Yesterday I mentioned that the writers over at The Confabulator Cafe are retelling fairy tales all week. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to check out some of our stories.
It is no small coincidence that Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters also debuts at theaters this week. Last night, I had the opportunity to catch a sneak preview of this retelling of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale classic. So, with the idea of retelling fairy tales in mind, I thought I’d take a closer look at the film.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters turns the old into something new by bringing in some light humor and lots of blood-splattering action (in 3D, no less). While it certainly won’t win any awards for high art, it is an amusing film that offers an entertaining hour and a half of screen time.
ver at The Confabulator Cafe, we spend one week each month posting flash fiction (<1,000 words) on a common theme. Sometimes it’s a campfire story or a story inspired by a painting. This month, we’re trying our hand at retelling fairy tales.
Despite what you might expect, this has actually stressed out the writers more than the average flash fiction assignment. Some Cafe writers created their own fairy tales. Some retold a classic. Most bemoaned the fact that 1,000 words was not enough to do a fairy tale justice. So we eliminated the word count restriction this month.
I decided to do something different and wrote about a minor character from fairy tale lore, filling in his backstory and allowing him to have the spotlight instead of the princess. I hope you enjoy my story, “Charming.” And be sure to read the stories by other contributors as well.
Until next time, here’s hoping you find your happily ever after!