Naked Girl Killed in the Park

The Curator of Schlock #392 by Jeff Shuster

Naked Girl Killed in the Park

Was she killed by the house on the edge of the park?

One doesn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Yes, I’m glad a crazed vigilante known as the Revenging Manta saved me from being beaten to death by a bunch of hooligans. Still, I was a little annoyed I had to foot the bill at the Waffle House. Why couldn’t we go dutch? He said ninjas don’t carry their wallets with them. That’s a load of bull. I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but it’s not like I’m floating in cash either after traveling all around the United States and Canada with a kangaroo to take care of. — To be continued.


 

This week’s giallo masterpiece is 1972’s Naked Girl Killed in the Park from director Alfonso Brescia. This movie also goes by the title Girl Murdered in the Park. That’s what it’s called on Tubi anyway. The top review on the IMBD labels it as an “uninspiring and boring Giallo.” I don’t know. Giallo is like pizza. Even when it’s bad, it’s kind of good. Be forewarned though, the English dub track is badly in need of a remaster. You’ll be struggling to make out what the characters are saying around the hisses, pops, and static.

Our movie begins during the bombing of Berlin toward the end of WW2. A mother and her son are tied up while a Nazi officer rigs a plastic explosive with a timer. A young woman is with him who may be his girlfriend. She almost wants to interfere, but the man takes her with him, leaving the mother and son to a horrible fate. Fast forward to a 1972 Germany where an old man is found exiting a funhouse ride with a bullet in his head. 


The man is Johannes Wanterberger, a wealthy German business man fled to Brazil after the war due to him being a Nazi.  He returned to Germany after he had made his fortune with his lovely wife and two daughters. It also seems that Johannes took out a one millions dollar life insurance policy a couple of hours before he was murdered. The insurance company sends one of their investigators, a handsome young man named Chris Buyer (Robert Hoffman), to investigate the family for foul play. 

This sounds like the plot of last week’s movie, The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail. As I watched, I wondered if the murderer would turn out to be the insurance investigator like in last week’s movie. Crap! Spoilers! Sorry! Anyway, Chris poses as a newspaper reporter and seduces Catherine (Pilar Velázquez), the youngest member of the Wanterberger clan. She’s beautiful, but has a weak heart. Unlike her sister, Barbara (Patrizia Adiutori), who is a constant flirt with Chris. I think the mom also makes a pass at him.

Anyway, it turns out Chris is young boy from the Berlin bombing scene at the beginning of the movie. Chris is the illegitimate son of Johannes Wantenberger. His mom must have shielded him from the blast of that plastic explosive and he’s been planning revenge on Johannes Wanternberger all his life. This means that part of his revenge meant sleeping with Wanternberger’s daughters. This means Chris had sex with his half-sisters. I think I’ll stop writing now.

Photo by Leslie Salas

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131episode 284episode 441episode 442episode 443, episode 444episode 450, episode 477episode 491episode 492, episode 493episode 495, and episode 496) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #187: Forgotten Rockets

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #187 by Drew Barth

Forgotten Rockets

In the 2010s, there was a resurgence of pulp characters. From Doc Savage teaming up with Batman to The Phantom having his own ongoing series, nostalgia for older heroes came back in force, then kind of disappeared. Some publishers still put out reinventions of the pulps of the past, but the medium’s zeitgeist quickly changed and those stories were quietly forgotten. And yet there’s still one pulp—in a newspaper strip format no less—that predated much of that pulp craze by being completely original: Frank Espinosa and Marie Taylor’s Rocketo.

Rocketo is the story of the titular Rocketo Garrison and his adventures as a Mapper in a shattered world not unlike our own. After an alien attack that nearly wiped out all life on Earth, the remnants created new species of people that could thrive and rebuild: earth men, bird men, fish men, and the Mappers. Those Mappers would help navigate the new oceans that had opened up between devastated continents and help rebuild. Rocketo was one of those Mappers before a great war left his mapping abilities dulled to the point of uselessness. But he can still read a map and that’s all that’s needed to help navigate the Hidden Sea that has swallowed all who had dared venture into its deadly waves. It is, of course, pure pulp via 2006 with Espinosa’s kinetic art that brings to mind the best concept art for an adventure film that would never be produced.

Normally, I put a link to the comic’s publisher in the opening so readers can navigate to it and see if they want to try it for themselves. But we can’t do that with Rocketo. Even though Image published this title, it doesn’t have a page on their website anymore. The best you can find is used bookstores and even then half of them are sold out. And it’s odd. It’s available digitally, but Comixology likely isn’t going to remain a long-term solution for digital work. So what do we do with comics like Rocketo and the dozens, if not hundreds more, that kind of just slipped through the modern cracks? Is there even anything we can do for them? There are incredible series like Rocketo out there, but as this is one that remains unfinished, how long until these few volumes are the only thing that remains?

Maybe this is the fate of pulp comics? Their original newsprint would break down after long enough, or just disintegrate in the rain, and those stories would end up lost for good. But there’s something about pulp that remains in our minds long after we’ve finished reading them. The stories themselves are never the end as their characters can just continue. The strength of pulp is on their titular  characters. Rocketo is in that league already—the name and the action brings to mind hundreds of stories of adventure, peril, and a new world. But all we have is twelve issues. 

Get excited. Get pulpy.


 

Drew Barth at Miami Book Fair in 2019.

Drew Barth (Episode 331, 485, & 510) resides in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida.

The Perfect Life #46

The Perfect Life #46 by Dr, Perfect

Dear Dr. Perfect,

There was this Corona Virus TikTok challenge to lick store merchandise items. I thought the trend was foolish, but I soon learned I have this intense curiosity to find out what the items I purchase taste like. At first, I’d purchase things and get home and give them a quick little lick.  But, in licking everything I buy, I have found that sometimes the taste is inferior to a previous product. Now I lick the items discretely before purchase.

To be clear I lick everything. Ice cream containers, Windex, sofas, plungers, etc. If the flavor is acceptable, I go ahead with the purchase and lick it more in depth at home.  I’ve found that black coffee and red wine really cleanse the palate so that I can experience each lick as if it is brand new. True peace.

The problem is that some neighborhood kids have been filming me enjoying licks through my window and have recently tried to get me to pay them not to post it everywhere. I think licking things could change their lives. I am in desperate need of advice on how to convince them to try it.

Sincerely,

A man with great taste

PS If you do not already engage in this practice yourself, I encourage you to liberate yourself and try it. 

—————-

Dear Sir Licks-A-Lot,

TikTok challenges are a hoot. I didn’t think anything could top the sulfuric acid challenge sweeping the nation just last week. But here we are, leaping toward the next trend. Sometimes even I have trouble keeping up with it all. 

When I was a kid, we’d race across the monkey bars or challenge one another to a game of dodge ball. No one ingested laundry detergent pods or fistfuls of cinnamon for attention. It was all good, clean fun. 

There was this one kid who fell down an abandoned mineshaft after a dare, but no one put a gun to his head. He survived the ordeal and came out of it more popular than ever. This taught me an important life lesson, further exemplified by my Uncle Frank, who performed with the traveling circus. 

He had an act where mules kicked him around for about fifteen minutes to thunderous audience applause. You see, no performance is undignified if people are willing to watch it. Uncle Frank soon retired from the circus with a collapsed lung and a slew of health problems. He was tragically hit by a train and killed some years later. Legend has it, he was performing his final act before leaving this world. Godspeed, Frank!

I get dozens of letters about fetishes each week. Your seemingly dog-like obsession with licking everything is as intriguing as it is repulsive. Have you considered “pup play?” Sometimes the latest social media craze takes hold, and before we know it, we’re planking atop milk crates in an alleyway with our pants down, trying to get our next fix. It’s a dangerous road hindered best through the complete dissociation with TikTok and social media alike. 

Last I checked, TikTok surpassed Google as the most popular app, with some 2 billion downloads to date. Their success is largely attributed to mind control and hypnosis. The allure of posting short-form videos is too much to resist in our attention-starved culture. It’s a wonder we’re able to focus on anything else. 

What started out as a COVID TikTok romp has clearly turned into an obsession. Your penchant for licking everything and coating random products with your saliva could very well be a cry for help. I won’t go that far though. This act of “liberation,” as you put it, drives your senses, tantalizes your taste buds, and leaves you wanting more. 

You might reach a day where no lick will compare to the first one. You’ll lick and lick until your tongue falls out, hollow and rotted. I’ve seen this kind of thing before. My Uncle Irwin was also a circus performer, and—let’s not get into that one. 

You face a new dilemma with these neighborhood kids and their subsequent blackmail. Just pay them what they want and hope the matter goes away. Then, when they least expect it, unleash some much-needed payback in the form of timeshare enrollments.

You seem more concerned with shepherding them into the licking life than the damage they could do to your reputation. If it’s influence you seek, you’ll need to utilize TikTok. I don’t know any better way to reach these kids. Express the inherent joys of your favorite pastime and encourage all to partake. Start a commune and extol the virtues of your newfound faith. Anything that keeps you out of the grocery store and tainting products works for me. 

It’s not that I don’t enjoy licking things on occasion. Popsicles, porterhouse steaks, and laminated newspapers are just a few of my guilty pleasures. But you’re taking things to a whole new level. Slow it down, draw a warm bath, and lick a Tootsie Pop until your heart’s content. You may find the center before the next TikTok challenge explodes onto the scene. 


bag-1868758_1920Dr. Perfect has slung advice across the globe for the last two decades due to his dedication to the uplift of the human condition.

Episode 535: A Discussion of Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran, with Rachael Tillman!

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Episode 535 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature, is available on Apple podcastsstitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing).

This week, Rachael Tillman and I discuss Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran, a long overdue read for both of us.

TEXT DISCUSSED

NOTES

Scribophile, the online writing group for serious writers

TDO listeners can get 20% of a premium subscription to Scribophile. After using the above link to register for a basic account, go here while still logged in to upgrade the account with the discount.

On Saturday, August 13th at 7:30 PM, Rachel Kolman’s farewell reading will take place at the Kerouac Project of Orlando.

Closer to the end of the month, the Orange County Library in downtown Orlando will be holding a literary expo.

 


Episode 535 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature, is available on Apple podcastsstitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing).

The Curator of Schlock #391: The Case of the Scorpions Tail

The Curator of Schlock #391 by Jeff Shuster

The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail

Money Money Money!

The ruthless vigilante known as the Revenging Manta spilled his beans to me at a Waffle House. He was once a humble haberdasher and family man. He had a loving wife and young daughter until the Iguana Consortium, a unified alliance of all the gangs in Orlando, FL, demanded protection money. When he refused, their leader, the Goose Lord, murdered his family right in front of him. That day he swore revenge against the Iguana Consortium, donning the guise of the Revenging Manta. — To be continued.

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It’s August and I want to write about giallo movies. What’s a giallo movie? That’s kind of hard to explain. Much like porn, you’ll know one when you see one. This week’s movie is 1971’s The Case of the Scorpion’s Tale from director Sergio Martino. The movie begins in London with a young woman named Lisa Baumer (Ida Galli) having a torrid affair behind her husband Kurt’s back. Not that he’s going to find out since the airplane he’s traveling on blows up.

In Athens, she meets a handsome man named Peter Lynch (George Hilton), but she quickly deduces that he’s an insurance investigator. Later, Lisa runs into Lara (Janine Reynaud), her husband’s late mistress. Lara tells her that Kurt was going to divorce Lisa and marry her. Lara demands half of the insurance money or she’s going to have her lawyer, Sharif, rearrange Lisa’s face. Lisa evades them thanks to aid of Peter Lynch. When she gets the check, she insists on getting it cashed right away instead of waiting until she’s back in London.

Anyway, turns out Lisa’s husband had a life insurance policy and Lisa is the lucky beneficiary of a million dollars! She just needs to travel to Athens to collect it. Some creeper named Phillip is blackmailing Lisa for hundreds of pounds. There’s also a man in a fedora and sunglasses stalking her. Lisa comes home to find her apartment ransacked and Phillip bleeding out on her carpet. Oh, well. Off to Athens to collect that money.

With a handbag stuffed with a million dollars, Lisa heads back to her hotel room and books a flight to Tokyo to meet up with her lover, Paulo. Somehow I don’t think Lisa thought this through. If you walk around with a million dollars in cold hard cash, you should expect someone might try to rob you!. Lisa orders a taxi to take her to the airport later that evening, but a black gloved killer sneaks into her apartment, slashes her throat, and steals the money. Wait! What? Lisa was the protagonist of the movie and she doesn’t make it past the half hour mark. All bets are off!

From here we follow Peter Lynch as he works with an Interpol inspector to find out who murdered Lisa and stole the million dollars. First stop is Lara’s place since she threatened Lisa the day before. Peter almost gets his head hacked off by the killer outside Lara’s place. Lara denies having anything to do with Lisa’s death. Peter befriends a lovely reporter named Cléo Dupont (Anita Strindberg). She helps him investigate the case while having a torrid affair with him. The gloved killer takes out Lara and Saffron. Who could it be? I’ve never been good at guessing these things. There’s a big shocking twist at the end and plenty of gruesome deaths in-between. Check it out!

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Photo by Leslie Salas.

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131episode 284episode 441episode 442episode 443, episode 444episode 450, episode 477episode 491episode 492, episode 493episode 495, and episode 496) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #186: Yee-Haw Revengeance

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #186 by Drew Barth

Yee-Haw Revengeance

Westerns have been a staple of comics for almost as long as the medium has existed. From All-Star Western to Weird Western Tales to some of the more modern relaunches and interpretations. And many of them harken back to the idea of the glory days of the west—a time mythologized in film that never actually existed. And while that mythologizing has its negative denotations, there’s also the weirder aspects of the west—the liminality, the unknown, the fearsome critters—that a series like Above Snakes by Sean Lewis, Hayden Sherman, and Hassan Otsmance-Elhaou fully leans into.

And from its first page, Above Snakes is looking at weirder horizons. Told in journal entries and narration by traveling snake oil salesman, Dr. Tomb, we have our main character, Dirt, and his quest for revenge against the titular gang that terrorizes this slice of the desert. But Dirt isn’t alone in his endeavors as he’s continually followed and pestered by Speck, a golden vulture that reminds him of all the good he could do while pointing him in the direction of members of the Above Snakes gang that killed Dirt’s wife. And in this first issue, he’s pointed toward the town of Lazarus and a man named Cobber. Cobber was there when Dorthea died and is currently dragging most of the women in Lazarus to work in his brothel. And then the violence happens.

By chance or province, Dirt is capable. More than capable, even. He enters Lazarus and, even with the Above Snakes being forewarned of his arrival, is able to enter the brothel relatively unscathed and chase Cobber into the streets. But Dirt isn’t the one to kill Cobber. He only facilitates his death by the hands of the women whose daughters have been forced to enter his service. It’s a roundabout revenge for Dirt, but it’s also the kind of revenge that belongs more to these women than it ever did to Dirt. And as a western, our protagonist not being the one to pull the trigger is a bit of a change—while it’s not unheard of, it actually feels more satisfying for the audience to see him not kill Cobber himself. And it’s the kind of thing that should be explored more in westerns. We have piles of media on how revenge doesn’t satisfy the protagonist, but next to none on how they allow someone else to take it in their stead.

As a western, Lewis, Sherman, and Otsmane-Elhaou are giving us interpretations of a genre that’s been mined for ideas for decades are still still finding unearthed gems. And while Above Snakes is the kind of series that looks like it’ll be a revenge-of-the-week kind of thing, it’s still a series that has more than enough established in its first issue to surprise with the second. With five issues planned, it’s likely the kind of series that’ll make a western fan out of anyone. 

Get excited. Get blood.


 

Drew Barth at Miami Book Fair in 2019.

Drew Barth (Episode 331, 485, & 510) resides in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida.

Episode 534: Rachel Kolman!

Episode 534 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature, is available on Apple podcastsstitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing).

This week, I speak with Rachel Kolman about her immersion in creative non-fiction and her writing life after her UCF MFA.

NOTES

Scribophile, the online writing group for serious writers

TDO listeners can get 20% of a premium subscription to Scribophile. After using the above link to register for a basic account, go here while still logged in to upgrade the account with the discount.

On Saturday, August 13th at 7:30 PM, Rachel Kolman’s farewell reading will take place at the Kerouac Project of Orlando.

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Episode 534 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature, is available on Apple podcastsstitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing).

The Curator of Schlock #390

The Curator of Schlock #390 by Jeff Shuster

The Ice Road

Liam Neeson in an automobile. 

Life can be funny. One moment you’re getting assaulted by a bunch of hooligans, the next moment you’re sitting in a Waffle House, eating a Hashbrown Bowl across from a vigilante ninja known as the Revenging Manta. He was sliding pieces of a peanut butter chip waffle through the folds of the purple silk that covered his face. He then sucked a cup of regular coffee right through the fabric, leaving a circular mocha stain behind. 

“Do you ever uncover your face?” I asked. 

“Never,” he said as he maneuvered a sausage patty through the fabric. — To be continued.

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This week’s movie is 2021’s The Ice Road from director Jonathan Hensleigh. It’s a Netflix original movie and a Netflix exclusive so maybe you kids can take a break from binging Stranger Things and watch Liam Neeson as a washed up trucker named Mike McCann. Yeah, don’t expect any September courtships in this movie. You do get plenty of ice and snow and trucks.

Mike McCann is a down on his luck trucker who is the primary caretaker for his brother Gurty, an Iraq War veteran suffering from PTSD and aphasia. A bunch of miners up in Winnipeg get trapped after a methane leak causes an explosion. Turns out the miners had turned off their methane detectors for an extra hundred dollars a month. This was the policy of the company’s corrupt vice-president to get them to drill in unsafe environments. Why? I don’t know. Maybe it saved the company enough money that he could pay for that solid gold hot tub he’d been wanting.

With the miners quickly running out of air, it’s up to a ragtag convoy to deliver wellheads to save them. Jim Goldenrod (Laurence Fishburne) hires Mike McCann and his brother along with a young woman called Tantoo (Amber Midhunter). The company is paying a lump sum of $200,000 to split among the truckers. If any truckers die along the way, that’s more of the pie to divide up among the survivors. What’s the danger? To get to Winnipeg, they have to drive on a road made of ice.

Confused? So was I. Apparently, the river systems in Canada get converted into roads once they freeze over in the winter. The Canadian government checks these roads for safety,  They make sure the ice is thick enough for safe travel. This is the ideal way to get supplies to the more remote communities up there. Still, the idea that some frozen water is the only thing keeping one away from arctic oblivion is hard for me to handle. 

Anyway, along for the ride is a company stooge named Tom Varnay (Benjamin Walker). He’s not there for the money. He just wants to make sure the operation goes smoothly and the miners get rescued. Jim Goldenrod’s engine seizes up and Mike and brother go back to help him out, but things go awry. I really didn’t want to see Laurence Fishburne get dragged to a watery grave by his big rig and if Laurence Fishburne can die so early in the movie, all bets are off. We also learn that there’s a saboteur among the truckers that doesn’t want them to reach their destination. Will they survive?

You can catch The Ice Road on Netflix streaming. You can also catch The Unexplained with host William Shatner on Netflix. Did you ever want to see William Shatner ramble on about The Winchester House or the Chupacabra? Then this is the show for you. When you can recite the tale about the woman who was struck by lightning twice and survived, you’ll be the delight of the next cocktail party that you’re invited to. Trust me.

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Photo by Leslie Salas

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131episode 284episode 441episode 442episode 443, episode 444episode 450, episode 477episode 491episode 492, episode 493episode 495, and episode 496) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #185: Running the News Room

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #185 by Drew Barth

Running the News Room      

Comics have a strange relationship with reality. Some aspects feel grounded while others seem absurd at first, but eventually make perfect sense in the context of their fictional world—like Jimmy Olsen having a stable job for so long. But then that’s connected the grounded aspect in the form of Perry White. While Perry has been around since the 40s, there’s not been much celebration for him. He’s been consistent in the same way the Daily Planet has been in the DC Universe: always there, always chugging away, always acting like an anchor for Metropolis that keeps it from seeming too fictional. But now we have a one-shot in the form of Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen’s Boss Perry White to finally acknowledge the editor-in-chief we’ve grown to love.

Perry White is a compilation in the same vein as many of the anniversary issues DC has been putting out over the past few years—the exception being that this is mostly past material collected into a single issue. Some of these stories include shorts from the 70s where Perry receives cigars that grant him superpowers or the origin story of his working for the Daily Planet as told to his grandchildren. There’s him and Wildcat sitting down for a drink as they reminisce on the past and their worries for their children. And for a few silent panels, we get the moment Clark Kent shows Perry the Superman suit for the first time. Coupled with stories from Matt Fraction, Steve Lieber, Nathan Fairbairn, and Clayton Cowles, this one-shot becomes a love letter to this singular figure in the DC Universe and their strange kind of realism.

While not as expansive as some of the 80th anniversary compilation counterparts, Perry White still showcases what made Perry such an endearing character on the same level as J. Jonah Jameson: old newspaper men that gave our heroes stable jobs outside of their super-selves. But while JJJ is the screaming face with a heart of gold, Perry has always been more subdued. Like the Daily Planet itself, he’s always in the background, just existing, keeping things grounded for the rest of Metropolis while Superman does something super. He smokes, he drinks, he has grandchildren, and he has more ink under his nails than any other character. But then that’s what makes him so much more real. 

Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen’s Boss Perry White is an oddity: a couple short stories on a character who’s older than Green Lantern (Alan Scott or the entire Corps), but has always just been in the background. Being in the background might be best for a newspaper man like Perry. His axiom is that it’s a journalist’s job to cover the story, not be the story. But he does deserve to be the story, even if it’s just this one time. 

Get excited. Get print media. 

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Drew Barth at Miami Book Fair in 2019.

Drew Barth (Episode 331, 485, & 510) resides in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida.

Episode 533: A Discussion of Don Marquis’s Archy & Mehitabel with Rachael Tillman!

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Episode 533 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature, is available on Apple podcastsstitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing).

This week, I speak with my occasional co-host, Rachel Tillman about Don Marquis’s Archy & Mehitabel, a series of narrative poems written by a cockroach.

TEXT DISCUSSED

NOTES

Scribophile, the online writing group for serious writers

TDO listeners can get 20% of a premium subscription to Scribophile. After using the above link to register for a basic account, go here while still logged in to upgrade the account with the discount.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Episode 533 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature, is available on Apple podcastsstitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing).