Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #42: Haunting the Panels

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #42 by Drew Barth

Haunting the Panels

It is the eve of All Hallows Eve! For this, the spookiest time of the year, we have looked at some of the greatest masters of horror comics as well as a new series likely going to maintain chills well into the next decade. But for the end of the month, when the haunts are at their strongest, we can start to look at something new in our comics: a philosophical concept known as hauntology.

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At its core, what Derrida posits in his work Spectres of Marx is this idea that the past exists essentially as a specter. Although the past itself has no physical space, it can still occupy. It has no weight, but its impact can still be felt. For the most part, the past exists as an entity both living and dead, here and not here. The past then haunts the present and future with its existence. This idea has been further extrapolated and expanded upon over the recent decade, namely with Elisabeth Roberts and her hauntological approach to visual images. For Roberts, visual images occupy that same real/unreal space as the specters of the past. This idea can easily be extended to works in comics.

Where hauntology and comics begin to intersect is in the idea of the comic canon—the monolithic idea that what has happened in the past can and should influence all facets of the present and future. In many comic circles, when talking about monthly superhero comics especially, arguments frequently arise regarding what is considered canon. What is something we can ignore and what are the criteria we apply to expel materials from the canon? When looking through the lens of hauntology, the discussion of what can be considered canon becomes more nebulous. If specters of the past haunt what we know of the present, then what has come previously in comic canon exists forever—so long as a story exists for the haunting to occur.

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This idea of haunting occurring so long as the story exists comes into play for much of the mainline heroes of the DC Universe. Simply look at Batman. Every single moment of his life as a vigilante and purveyor of bat-flavored justice is inherently influenced by the specters of Thomas and Martha Wayne. Their shadow, their specter, is something Batman cannot escape. The ripped string of pearls we associate with his mother or his father reaching out to grab the gun of Joe Chill haunt Bruce Wayne’s entire existence. His present and future can never be divorced from those ghosts—his haunting is eternal. The same can be said of Superman and the eternal haunting of the doomed planet Krypton or Renee Montoya and the ghost of Vic Sage. These specters exist for these characters eternally within their canons regardless of editorial and creative changes throughout the decades.

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It is difficult to think of comics without the ghosts it carries. From the canon itself to the endless list of individuals who have contributed words and pictures to the canon, every hand is another specter that stalks through those glossy pages. But as it is now time for Halloween, it’s time to look more through those pages again. The old pages that have yellowed or curled with age are filled to bursting with the spectral memories of the last time they had been read. Bring back those old comics and see how those old specters have come to haunt the comics of the present.

Get excited. Release the ghosts.


drew barth

Drew Barth (Episode 331) is a writer residing in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.

Buzzed Books #91: Aaron Sorkin’s To Kill a Mockingbird

Buzzed Books #91 by Chuck Cannini

Aaron Sorkin’s To Kill a Mockingbird on Broadway

A friend of mine paced in his living room one evening. Bill O’Reilly spoke to him from a television screen; something about a man named George Zimmerman, who had fatally shot African-American teenager Trayvon Martin. What mattered was how this friend of mine fumed, how his nostrils flared, how his face contorted, how he ranted and raved, then turned to me and somehow concluded, “I fucking hate Obama. I hope they lynch him from a tree.”

I remembered that living room conversation during a crowded Saturday matinee of To Kill a Mockingbird.

The 59-year-old book by Harper Lee welcomed readers to her fictional “tired old town” of Maycomb, Alabama. Readers familiarized themselves with Scout—her summers with her brother Jem and that weird boy Dill, her school life, and the kids’ limitless fantasies about their mysterious neighbor called Boo Radley. Out of 281 pages, the first 150 established the absolutes and simplicities that occupied Maycomb and, in her own retrospect, Scout’s thoughts.

Aaron Sorkin, playwright for the Broadway adaption, skimmed those first 150 pages. He did not ignore the ideas that ran through those pages. He chose not to lingeron them. The ideas were not as fleshed out, the price of what was already a two and half-hour theatrical experience. Young Scout (41-year-old Celia Kennan-Bolger), alongside Jem (Will Pullen) and the amusing Dill (Gideon Glick), danced around the stage and narrated these details while members of Maycomb and large mobile sets (such as high sections of fencing from the townspeople’s homes) swept across like a tornado of recounted memories.

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Scout, Jem and Dill did not walk around the stage so much as they ran and skipped and pushed each other out of the way. They did not speak; they yelled. They talked over each other when something was explained to the audience. Jem and Dill wrestled. A friend who joined me noted how on the Finch family’s front porch, Scout slouchedon the rocking chair, how she hunched her shoulders and pointed her feet inward.

The fun parts about coming of age lasted half an hour.

Then came the trial.

On Broadway, Mockingbirdis a legal drama. Though best known as the creator of The West Wingtelevision series, Sorkin is no stranger to courtrooms; he wrote A Few Good Men(the 1989 play, then the 1992 film), a story about a court-martial. He is uniquely qualified to write about the fabrics of American society. Sorkin pulled audiences back into 1930s Alabama, then boomeranged everyone back to modern day, to a state of uncertainty. On Broadway, Mockingbird was not just an adaption; it is a timely harsh reflection.

It’s Bob Ewell (Frederick Weller). He’s trash, a drunk and a racist. On stage, Bob voiced a newfound hatred for Jews, not present in Harper Lee’s novel. He started with the n-word, then labeled Atticus a “Jew lover,” and all of a sudden Bob Ewell seemed more familiar. On stage, Bob testified in an Alabama court, and yet America had also witnessed Bob Ewells in 2017, marching through Charlottesville with tiki torches and shouting, “Jews will not replace us!” I saw Bob Ewell in that friend of mine. He threatened to lynch a president, a very specific way to kill a man with a specific skin color.

Atticus: “You never really understand a person until you see things from his point of view.”

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Back on Broadway, Bob had also lost his job, Atticus explained. The single parent raised eight kids. The man felt inferior and powerless. He turned to something that gave him a sense of dominance and authority; Bob turned to the Klan; he took his anger out on Tom Robinson (Gbenga Akinnagbe), an African-American whom Bob falsely accused. Again, I thought of that friend of mine, a year and half deep into a dead marriage and unable to talk about it, perhaps too embarrassed of his situation; now let’s lynch Obama. Naturally.

This is not to sympathize with Bob Ewell or people like him. The character became less of a caricature. Ewell’s character evolved.

Harper Lee’s themes of racial injustice as well as our relationship with good and evil are just as relevant today, but twice as complicated. Hero Atticus Finch preached an uncompromising faith in the balance of good and evil in all people, even in Bob Ewell and his daughter Mayella (Erin Wilhelmi), but in a cynical age like today that faith prove hard to swallow, even for Atticus.

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Unique to the Broadway show, the Finch family’s long-time African-American maid, Calpernia (LaTanya Richardson Jackson), challenged Atticus’s moral high ground during private exchanges not in Harper Lee’s book:

Atticus: “I don’t want them hating people they disagree with.”

Calpernia: “‘You gotta’ give Maycomb time, Cal. This isthe Deep South. You gotta’s give Maycomb time. Well, how much timewould Maycomb like?”

Words failed Atticus again later, when his arms wound around Bob Ewell in a headlock.Harper Lee’s estate disapproved of the character’s action. Even Atticus broke. Harper Lee’s philosophy missed something 59 years ago, almost like her publication was met by complete and utter apathy. The proof is in the courtroom.

Jeff Daniels stood at the stage’s edge, his back to the court, his gaze on a new jury: the audience.

Atticus: “Can’t go on like this. We have to heal this wound or we will never stop bleeding … So, let’s hasten the change. Let’s hasten the end of the beginning. Let’s do it right now, in Maycomb. … Don’t do this! Let him go home. In the name of God, just let him go home.”

The trial ended. A bailiff handcuffed Tom Robinson, then walked him across the stage, to the electric chair. A silence hung in the theatre. It was a long, uncomfortable walk. My eyes looked away from Mr. Robinson and instead fell on the jury. The seats were empty. They had been empty for the entire play.

The curtains dropped. Applause thundered in the dark. When the lights turned on, up in our balcony seats, someone behind me noted to his colleague how it was sometimes difficult to understand Jeff Daniels’s Alabamian accent, something between a fast-talking auctioneer and a nasal congestion. It was a minor nitpick. In the two weeks that followed, the play still in my mind, Aaron Sorkin’s To Kill a Mockingbirdvery well may be the strongest of the story’s three mediums yet.

To Kill a Mockingbird continues its run at Shubert Theatre well into 2020. Jeff Daniels’s last bow will be on November 3rd, while Ed Harris will take on the role of Atticus Finch starting November 5th.


Chuck Cannini

Chuck Cannini read To Kill a Mockingbirdduring his sophomore year of high school. The then “wise” and “worldly” teenager was surprised that he enjoyed a “50 or whatever-year-old book.” His appreciation for the novel grew after he graduated with a B.F.A. in Creative Writing for Entertainment.

390: The Batalogues, with Patty Hawkins!

Episode 390 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcasts, stitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing).

Batalogues with Patty

In this week’s episode, I share the talk Patty Hawkins and I had about Todd Phillip’s Joker. We put it in a Batman context, and frankly stray far afield from talking about the movie, but frankly the movie is worth straying from, too.

NOTES

This episode is sponsored by the excellent people at Scribophile.

Scribophile

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.

If you are in Orlando on November 2nd from 6 to 9 PM, be a part of the book party for my literary adventure novel, Guy Psycho and the Ziggurat of Shame.

Guy Psycho and the Ziggurat of Shame Cover

There will be a raffle for those who show up, no purchase necessary. Raffle items include autographed books, a t-shirt, a gift package from bachelor Pad Magazine, a gift certificate for a medium sized literary tattoo, plus …

Guy Psycho Raffle

this framed, autographed poster featuring the book cover of Walter Mosley’s Debbie Doesn’t Do it Anymore.

IMG_0304.JPG

Guy Psycho Book Launch Party

6-9 PM

1418 Clouser Ave, Orlando, FL 32804-6209

https://www.facebook.com/events/619433221793908/


Episode 390 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcasts, stitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing).

The Curator of Schlock #296: The Body Snatcher

The Curator of Schlock #296 by Jeff Shuster

The Body Snatcher

Karloff and Lugosi together again for the last time. 

I didn’t know that being a body snatcher was once an up and coming profession for industrious men living in the early 1800s. It would seem that medical schools at the time were hungry for fresh human cadavers for study and dissection. You could make quite a nice chunk of change by dropping off a recently deceased person to your local biology instructor, no questions asked. I think I missed my calling.

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Tonight’s movie is 1945’s The Body Snatcher from director Robert Wise. It takes place in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1831. A young medical student named Donald Fettes (Russell Wades) is studying at a medical school run by the driven Dr. Wolfe MacFarlane (Henry Daniell). One thing that I find odd about this motion picture is that some of the characters speak with Scottish accents while other speak with proper American accents. Was this a thing back in the old days? I guess if American actors couldn’t fake an accent, they just didn’t bother. Maybe the producers figured if you had enough Scottish accents, you could sneak a couple of American accents in there with no one noticing. Maybe that was the approach taken by Kevin Costner in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.

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Anyway, Donald’s heart bleeds for a young widow and her paraplegic daughter. They beg Dr. Wolfe to operate on the young girl for only he has the skills to restore her mobility by fixing her spine. Dr. Wolfe says he can’t operate on every poor soul that comes to his office. He’d never get any work done. Dr. Wolfe is an instructor after all. It’s his priority to train the next generation of Doctors. Little girls who may never walk again will just have to deal.

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Dr. Wolfe insists on giving his students real human cadavers to work with, but supply is scarce so he employs a nefarious individual by the name of John Gray (Boris Karloff) to procure dead bodies for him. John Gray robs fresh graves and Dr. Wolfe pays him handsomely for it. But John Gray resents Dr. Wolfe, hates the man to the core and wants to see him brought down. While Donald and Dr. Wolfe are getting hammered at the local pub, John Gray shames Dr. Wolfe into doing the surgery on the young girl. When Dr. Wolfe wakes up, he insists that he can’t be held to any promise made while inebriated. Plus, he would need a cadaver to practice spinal surgery on and they’re all out.

Donald frantically searches for John Gray, says he needs a body right away, but John Gray doesn’t want to do anymore grave robbing. It’s too risky. But he tells Donald that he’ll get him a body. Said body ends up being a street singer Donald ran into earlier that evening. She was alive and well then, but John Gray insists he was there when the woman suddenly dropped dead. Naturally, this slippery slope has turned into a free-fall. Robbing graves is one thing, but murder? There’s a point in the movie when Dr. Wolfe’s assistant Joseph (as played by Bela Lugosi) tries blackmailing John Gray only to get the life choked out of him. Some point to this movie as the beginning of the end for Lugosi’s career.

This would be the last time he and Karloff would ever perform together.


Jeffrey Shuster 1

Photo by Leslie Salas

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131, and episode 284) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #41: A Short Break

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #41 by Drew Barth

A Short Break

This week we’re going to take a break from the spooks—although there are some spooks in the comics I’m going to mention—and shift our focus to boxes. Everyone remembers Loot Crate from a couple years ago and the various comic-related paraphernalia they would include monthly. Very rarely, however, would they include actual comics. There have been a few comic-specific subscription boxes in the past, such as Comic Bento, but they were mostly a blind grab of already published collections. But then 2016 happened and Zainab Akhtar started to produce a quarterly comic box known as ShortBox to be delivered directly to your mailbox. The main difference is ShortBox publishes all of the material included in their boxes—these are stories you can only get from ShortBox. And the quality here is absurdly high.

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As always, five new graphic novellas were included and include genres like slice-of-life, horror and memoir. What’s great about all of these stories is they stand independent of the other works included in the box—there is never a theme so each book is vastly different in its tone and subject matter. Anything from friends navigating a Swedish labyrinth to find the ultimate storage solution in Lissa Treiman’s Minötaar to the logging of devastation and recuperation in At the Edge of the Stream at Dusk by Jen Lee to the retelling of a classic myth tinged with anxiety in Cry Wolf Girl by Ariel Ries can be found in the most recent ShortBox. That and a nice bit of candy as well. Opening the box every few months is like getting the newest McSweeny’s—you don’t know what’s there but you know it’s going to be good.

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As a medium, comics needs more things like ShortBox as a way of making well-made and curated work accessible to a broader audience. Much of the work in this quarter’s ShortBox is fantastic, but there really aren’t many avenues for publication due to their non-traditional sizes and lengths. And since the number of anthology publications is dwindling in the US, there would normally be no way for these stories to get into our hands outside of conventions. So having a publisher that is focused on both the creation and distribution of these pieces is a necessity for different and more innovative work to make it to a broader comic audience.

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But what makes ShortBox such a wonderful thing in comics is Akhtar and her team’s commitment to publishing the best work the medium has to offer on a consistent basis. Story, art, and even paper and binding feel solid throughout and at no point does any aspect of the box feel as though it had been cobbled together at the last minute. Everything in the ShortBox has so much time and dedication and love put into it that it feels like a necessity to anyone interested in comics or even just smaller publishing houses. Receiving one of these boxes every quarter is an absolute delight and I can only hope it continues well on into the future.

Get excited. Open the box.


drew barth

Drew Barth (Episode 331) is a writer residing in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.

Episode 389: Ron Cooper!

Episode 389 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcasts, stitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing).

In this week’s episode, I interview Ron Cooper about Florida literature, research, and the mystery of existentital characters.

Ron Cooper

TEXTS DISCUSSED

All My Sins Remembered

Fringe Florida

NOTES

This episode is sponsored by the excellent people at Scribophile.

Scribophile

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.

If you are in Orlando on November 2nd from 6 to 9 PM, be a part of the book party for my literary adventure novel, Guy Psycho and the Ziggurat of Shame.

Guy Psycho and the Ziggurat of Shame Cover

There will be a raffle for those who show up, no purchase necessary. Raffle items include autographed books, a t-shirt, a gift package from bachelor Pad Magazine, a gift certificate for a medium sized literary tattoo, plus …

Guy Psycho Raffle

this framed, autographed poster featuring the book cover of Walter Mosley’s Debbie Doesn’t Do it Anymore.

IMG_0304.JPG

Guy Psycho Book Launch Party

6-9 PM

1418 Clouser Ave, Orlando, FL 32804-6209

https://www.facebook.com/events/619433221793908/

Check out my earlier interview with Ron, back on Episode #210.


Episode 389 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcasts, stitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing).

The Curator of Schlock #295: Cat People

The Curator of Schlock #295 by Jeff Shuster

Cat People

Cat People got no reason to live. 

My editor seems to think that Mad Love was first romance movie I covered on my blog. Not true. What about The Love WitchSomeone I TouchedLolaFist of the North StarDay of the Dead: BloodlineMy Bloody Valentine, The Vengeance of SheThe Boy Next DoorThe Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above SuspicionNude for SatanMagicUnsane, and all those Hallmark Christmas movies with the delightful Lacey Chabert? We love romance here at The Museum of Schlock!

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Speaking of romance, tonight’s motion picture is 1942’s Cat People from director Val Lewton. It’s about a man who falls in love with a woman who owns six cats! The horror! The horror! Run away, good sir! I’m just fooling. The movie starts out in a zoo in Central Park in New York City. A young, Serbian-American woman named Irena Dubrovna (Simone Simon) is sketching a black panther (the animal not the super hero) when she catches the eye of a man named Oliver Reed (Kent Smith). There’s some banter. Irena invites Oliver back to her place where she tells him a story about a great Serbian King who slaughtered a town full of Satan-worshipping witches and how cats are considered evil in the village she was born in.

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That’s a bit of an intense conversation for a first date, something that might be considered a red flag in the modern day, but Oliver is undeterred. He asks Irena out to dinner for the following evening. He buys Irena a kitten as a gift in lieu of a bouquet of flowers. That’s odd. Was that a courting custom back in the 1940s? The kitten reacts badly to Irena, hissing at her. They take the kitten back to the pet shop, hoping to exchange it for another pet, but the whole pet shop comes alive with howls and chirps. I guess Irena has a problem with animals. Maybe because she is one!

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Despite this weirdness and the fact that Irena refuses to kiss him, Oliver decides to marry her. I think there’s a legend in Irena’s birth village about the women being cursed to turn into cat people should they ever kiss a man. Worried for Irena’s state of mind (and their marriage not being consummated), Oliver has Irena see a psychiatrist, Dr. Judd (Tom Conway), to get to the bottom of her unsound mind. Oh, and Oliver’s co-worker, Alice Moore (Jane Randoph), confesses her love for Oliver.

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So there you have it. We’ve got a love triangle going on. Who says we’re not romantic here at The Museum of Schlock. I think Oliver gets tired of waiting for Irena to sort her shit out and wants a divorce so he can marry Alice.

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Since Oliver doesn’t want Irena anymore, Dr. Judd makes his move and kisses Irena causing Irena to turn into a black panther. What do you know? Irena was right to fear her village’s curse. Balls.


Jeffrey Shuster 1

Photo by Leslie Salas

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131, and episode 284) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #40: Another Master of Horror

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #40 by Drew Barth

Another Master of Horror

The spooks continue this week with a look at another creator whose work has kept me awake on more than one occasion: Junji Ito. His work has become synonymous with horror manga over the last fifteen years in the US. Through many of his longer works like Gyo, Uzumaki, and the decade-spanning Tomie, Ito has established himself as a pillar of modern horror.

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What makes Ito’s horror stand out among many of his peers is his focus on the mundane. From panel one, we are almost always grounded in the daily lives of our main characters in the real world. But then the twist. It could be something as simple as someone unable to get the smell of fish off of them or noticing a friend’s dad doing something odd in an alley or wanting to paint a woman. As fantastical as many of the horror elements Ito utilizes are, they still have the feeling of being too eerily close to the real world, and that is how his horror can seep in under the skin for a full-body terror.

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There are also interpersonal relationships as a means of driving the story forward. Ito tends to use one as a narrator and one continually in peril or wrapped up in the bizarre occurrences.

When looking at a story like Uzumaki, we have Kirie and Shuichi as the narrative duo. Kirie is the focus of the mysterious obsession of the spiral without having fallen into the obsession herself. Shuichi studies the effects of the spiral obsession and oftentimes will disappear without warning, causing Kirie distress. We feel Kirie’s worry and are thus worried ourselves. This dual-character narrative helps to maintain the uncertainty that fuels our terror by always ensuring at least one character is in danger.

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The influence of Ito’s work is far-reaching: from film and anime adaptions to Hot Topic shirts. He has become one of the most recognizable artists not just in horror, but in graphic narratives in general. With it being so close to Halloween, why not take a chance on something terrifying to get you through the month?

Get excited. Focus on the spiral.


drew barth

Drew Barth (Episode 331) is a writer residing in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.

Episode 388: Erik Deckers!

Episode 388 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcasts, stitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing).

In this week’s episode, I interview Erik Deckers about how he finished the novel he began as a resident at the Kerouac Project of Orlando.

 Erik Deckers headshot 800x800.jpg

TEXT DISCUSSED

Mackinac Island Nation.jpg

NOTES

This episode is sponsored by the excellent people at Scribophile.

Scribophile

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.

Check out this early first episode of my new web series talk show about the history of Batman!

 

If you are in Orlando on November 2nd from 6 to 9 PM, be a part of the book party for my literary adventure novel, Guy Psycho and the Ziggurat of Shame.

Guy Psycho and the Ziggurat of Shame Cover

There will be a raffle for those who show up, no purchase necessary. Raffle items include autographed books, a t-shirt, a gift package from bachelor Pad Magazine, a gift certificate for a medium sized literary tattoo, plus …

Guy Psycho Raffle

this framed, autographed poster featuring the book cover of Walter Mosley’s Debbie Doesn’t Do it Anymore.

IMG_0304.JPG

Guy Psycho Book Launch Party

6-9 PM

1418 Clouser Ave, Orlando, FL 32804-6209

https://www.facebook.com/events/619433221793908/


Episode 388 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcasts, stitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing).

The Curator of Schlock #294: Mad Love

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The Curator of Schlock #294 by Jeff Shuster

Mad Love

Old movies are weird. 

 

The Little Debbie Pumpkin Delights brand of cookies is the greatest packaged soft cookie the American chemical confectionary industry has ever produced. I don’t want to hear about Fig Newtons. Give me a break.

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Pumpkin Delights taste like fall and Halloween and all that is right in the world. They are the only cookies I care about right now, and I can’t seem to find any in either chain of grocery stores in my neighborhood. The trials I have to go through just to enjoy the simple things in life.

This week’s movie is 1935’s Mad Love from director Karl Freund. It is not about a man who enjoys the simple things in life. Peter Lorre stars as Dr. Gogol, a gifted doctor residing in Paris, France. Dr. Gogol is obsessed with an actress named Yvonne Orlac (Frances Drake) who performs at the Théâtre des Horreurs, a kind of combination wax museum and theater of the grotesque.

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I think Yvonne stars in some play where she’s being tortured on a rack to the audience’s disgust or delight.

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Dr. Gogol decides to meet Yvonne in her dressing room after the show in the hopes of wooing her, but this doesn’t go so well. For starters, Yvonne is married to Stephen Orlac (Colin Clive), a gifted pianist and composer. But there’s a bigger reason why Dr. Gogol stands no chance with Yvonne. She’s a living goddess and Dr. Gogol looks like Kermit the Frog’s deformed brother. And he’s awkward around the Yvonne, even forcing a kiss on her at the wrap party. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. Yvonne and Stephen are about to move to England leaving poor Dr. Gogol to obsess over the wax statue of Yvonne he purchased from the museum after her final performance.

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Yes, he purchased a wax statue of Yvonne for his house. That’s a little creepy. He even has his elderly maid dress the statue for him with fine garments he purchases from the best boutiques. His maid is a bit of a drinker and has an angry cockatoo perched on her shoulder, but I’m getting off track. Dr. Gogol refers to his wax statue of Yvonne as Galatea and hopes to will her to life. This is one weird dude. I’m sorry for anyone that knows him.

Stephen Orlac is traveling by train when said train gets into a horrible accident. Stephen’s hands are damaged beyond repair, so there goes his piano-playing career. In fact, a doctor wants to amputate his hands. Yvonne wants a second opinion and remembers that gifted doctor who was obsessed with her. Surely, he can save her husband’s hands. Dr. Gogol attempts a hand transplant operation on Stephen and it works. He doesn’t bother telling Stephen or Yvonne that those aren’t his hands.

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Did I mention that he transplanted the hands of a recently executed murderer with a penchant for knife throwing? This might explain why Stephen’s piano playing skills have waned, but his knife throwing skills have improved. I’m not going to spoil the end of the film, but don’t be expecting Peter Lorre to get the girl. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m on the hunt for some pumpkin flavored cookies.


Jeffrey Shuster 3

Photo by Leslie Salas.

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131, and episode 284) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.