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19 April 2004
Now This is Entertainment
Check out
this post and the ensuing comments on Mark Shea's blog. Finally, a zombie project I can get behind! Good luck to ye, Luke!

Thanks to Flambeaux of Fiat Lux for referring me to the post in the first place.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   10:34 AM
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Musical Weekend
Despite a few directional misadventures in Austin (maybe I'm just used to the wacky Dallas road system, but Austin's is truly terrible for navigation), our weekend was filled with good, and--most importantly--joyous music. You can find all you need to know about Dougie (think in Scottish--it's pronounced "Doogie") MacLean over at kashi's site
here. That was the point of Austin, and we were not disappointed by the show.

This evening upon our return, we took a trip up to the University of Dallas (our alma mater) to see Celtic Spring. Their website is here, and I highly recommend checking them out. Composed of the son and five grandchildren of Dr. Robert Wood, longtime philosophy professor at UD, the band performs traditional Celtic (along with some American and French-Canadian) fiddle music, as well as traditional Celtic dance (and they're not annoying like Michael Flatley!). To put it simply, they rock. The music is both gorgeous and joyous.

And this is what the weekend was really about: joy. Going back to a familiar theme here on Jelly-Pinched Theatre, we've been noticing a lack in our favoured forms of cultural entertainment--most notably literature and film, but also in other artistic endeavours. It's not that it's all rubbish, but certainly you've gotta look deep out at the fringe to find the things that sing. Celtic Spring is one of them (as, I would also say, are artists like Dougie, and Nickel Creek). Because they're not just making beautiful music (though it is that). Or happy music (though it is also that). Or well-crafted music (though it is most certainly that). Rather they are doing something they love, and it shines through as pure joy. As a writer of horror, death's pretty important to me, but that does not mean I approve of the turn our culture is taking--steeped in death, but numb to it. And one can certainly not explore the things of the dark without pointing to the purity of the Good. And that's where joy comes in, and why I fear its presence in our lives is becoming too scarce. But I am hopeful for the future. And it's artists like this who really keep that hope alive, and make me committed all the more to adding my own voice to the chorus (well, not literally--the Wolf doth howl more than sing--but you get the point). It's where our hero, Mister Reynard, comes in, 'cause on all his crazy adventures he does not lose his joy and passion for life (even if he might lose his heart on occasion).

Back to Celtic Spring--I was very much reminded of Nickel Creek while watching them perform. Not in the style of music, of course, but in what has inspired the creation of the music. These kids are working in an older, traditional form--and remaining true to that tradition--while not feeling constrained in any way by it. Their approach to it is through their youth, working an almost punk attitude into the more traditional music. Hence the exuberance. It's not the typical youthful refutation of anything old, anything before their time. It's a complete embracing of it--and not at the cost of their more modern sensibilities. Joyous in every moment. Very anti-postmodern, and very welcome indeed. Whether they're conscious of it or not, they're part of the renaissance of which I and some others are trying to stoke the fires. It's good and comforting to know there are bright spots out there already on which we can build in our own particular areas.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   8:09 AM
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15 April 2004
A Goode Olde Tyme at the Faire
Now that the
Scarborough Faire Rennaissance Festival (just outside Waxahachie, TX) is up and running, we should be trekking down there in a few weeks. It'll be hot, crowded, tiring, and we'll have no money for all the trinkets and doo-dads that we really don't need but are very shiny, nonetheless. But ya know what? It'll be worth it for one reason.

Steak on a Stake!

For those of you not in the know, this is a wonderful little invention. A strip of skewered, seasoned meat which is grilled (or not grilled very much, if you're like me) to your desire. Simple and delicious. If the steakhouses of the world would cook their meat (or not cook it) the way these guys do, I could eschew the whole Faire and just go out for steak. But alas, this is a rare (pun intended) commodity. So we will trek down, and slough about the people-infested grounds, and see many things we've seen before, and many things we cannot buy, and it'll all be worth it for that one little piece of nearly raw beef. Mmmmmmm.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   1:49 PM
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06 April 2004
On Kidney-Stealing Lunatics, Death, and Easter
Aren't weekends supposed to be relaxing? Sigh. Well, at least we saw family, shared stories, and had a fun adventure on Friday (which was my first official, paid vacation day in nearly three years!), even if some evil cultists did try to steal our souls and our kidneys. But perhaps I should start at the beginning....

We travelled out to East Texas on Friday with StitchWitch and Flambeaux along as bemused (or frightened) observers, in an attempt to avoid being rooked by the timeshare resort that for some reason thought we'd be interested. They had, however, dangled an astronomically slim chance of winning $40,000 in front of our noses, and so we bit. We nearly gave up, as it proved to be farther from Dallas and much closer to Tyler, TX than we'd thought. But we finally found the place, and thus began the scary part of the adventure. For, you see, we were given the grand tour of the resort by an automaton. He was ... well, very creepy. We discussed this at great length on the way back, and decided that the man had no soul. There was just something missing in him, and it was really rather disturbing. Anyway, the place was rather pretty, and the lake (I think it was Lake Palestine) was really nice. But paying close to $20,000 to use a cabin for one week a year is just terribly unappealing. And impractical, when you think about it. Drive an hour and half into the (rather depressing) wilds of East Texas to do what amounts to camping for a week. At $20,000. Hmmmmm. The sales pitch was intense, but we resisted. And then later, we were able to see the abundance of holes in it--like their angle of: "Well, how much do you spend each month in random entertainment? See, for less than that, you could have a guaranteed vacation spot each year for the rest of your life!" Except that, who's going to give up movies, and coffees, and other such things? No one! So then you'd have random entertainment expenditures plus a crappy vacation once a year.

It really did feel like a cult--they even tried to offer Flambeaux a job (though they cooled to that idea once it was obvious they could not rook kashi and me). But we escaped, souls, kidneys, and wallets intact.

Saturday was our Spring Polidori (see
here for info). I think my story went over well, though of course I always doubt myself. Still, I'm pretty pleased with "Mr. Reynard in Love." And Cob, whose attendance at Polidori has proved spotty at best (though always memorable) made it there with a wonderfully whimsical tale which he described as a cross between C.S. Lewis and Kafka. The scary thing is that not only was he right, but it worked--and well. Unfortunately, due to overheating and both allergy and asthma attacks, several of us needed to leave early. Sorry to all those whose stories we did not get to hear! But we were not well, and had Sunday quickly bearing down on us.

You see, Sunday we had to hit Mass in the morning, then dash off to Borger, TX (via a Love Field to Amarillo flight) for a funeral. I don't feel this the proper forum for such things, but I shall just say that we bade farewell to a beloved family member, one who I did not get to know well, but who I am very glad to have known, no matter how short the time. He will be missed.

And then back last night, and back to work this morning. I am beat. Bushed. Tired. Worn out. Tsukareta. And yet, I'm glad there is a lot going on this week for Holy Week. It won't make me any less tired, but this'll be my first year experiencing the period leading up to and including Easter as it was meant to be. After all, no longer can I scoff at those poor meatless, fasting folk on Good Friday, for I am now one of them. And boy howdy, do I regret my past impertinence. But I can't be too upset that this week will be no less crazy than the past weekend (though at least there'll be no timeshare cultists involved), because I feel like it's a good kind of craziness. A right kind, if that makes sense. And it'll make me appreciate all the more the breathing I can once more enjoy next week.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   11:35 AM
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02 April 2004
Pretty Nifty

Linked to this quiz off Old Oligarch, and I must say I'm pleased with my results:

Saint Barbara
Saint Barbara is praying for you! To learn more
about the legend of Saint Barbara go to the
Patron Saint Index at
http://www.catholic-forum.com


Which Saint Would You Be?
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Nifty story, too (courtesy of www.catholic-forum.com):

"Beautiful maiden imprisoned in a high tower by her father Dioscorus for disobedience. While there, she was tutored by philosphers, orators and poets. From them she learned to think, and decided that polytheism was nonsense. With the help of Origen and Valentinian, she converted to Christianity.

Her father denounced her to the local authorities for her faith, and they ordered him to kill her. She escaped, but he caught her, drug her home by her hair, tortured her, and killed her. He was immediately struck by lightning, or according to some sources, fire from heaven."


What's more, amongst other things, she's the patron saint of gravediggers.

Jelly Pinched Wolf   10:38 PM
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01 April 2004
Mercy Buckets!

Must take a moment to extend many, many thanks to my lovely wife, kashi, for the redesign that she's slaved over for the better part of today. Isn't it wonderful? Ah, the Wolf doth have a new home at last. Comfort abounds here in the Theatre.

Must still find an appropriate new template for the comments, but that's mere window dressing, really. (And that pun was completely unintended, by the way). I would like to humbly request any who have been gracious enough to link to me to update your links. To be honest, I had not intended to retain the "I Have No Wisdom" title for as long as I did, but then, on occasion, we Wolves are consumed by the Slack.

Anyway, hope you like. I know I do.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   2:57 PM
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Welcome...

...to Jelly-Pinched Theatre. Pull up a chair. Have a glass of scotch, or a nice cognac. And get ready to sample the cheese.

The curtain's coming up....
Jelly Pinched Wolf   1:03 PM
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26 March 2004
The Circle Is Now Closed

Kiki has given in, as we all knew he would. All welcome
Wasted Words and the completion of the Rock Stupid Blogs.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   2:14 PM
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25 March 2004
At Least I'm Not the French

Found the following on
Catholic Ragemonkey, which in turn Flambeaux had linked to. Have only been able to give the site a cursory glance so far, but repeat visits are most assuredly in order.

lancelot
Let's not bicker and argue about who killed who!


What Monty Python Character are you?
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Jelly Pinched Wolf   11:30 AM
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A Call to Arms

My recent post on Devil Movies (thanks for all the comments, guys!) as well as a mention by
Old Oligarch (along with his two cents on the subject, which is worth far more than that) has got me thinking about horror in general. Let's face it, at best, it's lacking. I admit, I've fallen away from seeing horror movies these past few years--in part because my wife would not care to see 'em, in part because I've been so deep into the novel that other sources of horror have been too distracting, and in part because even at a glance I can tell they're just not that good anymore. The "why" has pretty much been covered in the comments on the Devil Movies--not only is the Dark far too shiny onscreen to be feared, but it also becomes more difficult to fear what you've been hip (or neck) deep in for decades.

Now, I'm not saying there are no good horror movies. They're just a rarity. And I'm going to step on a lot of toes here, but zombie movies are just not the thing. I've not seen the latest, I admit, but neither do I have the desire. The approach might change, but the story is pretty much always the same. Where's the creativity? Where are the new plots? Why not a megalomaniac raising the dead to subjugate the world? Why must it always be a scientific accident, virus or plague, or random, unexplained "phenomenon?" Maybe it's me. Zombies attacking the Oscars is one thing, but onscreen, even if they've got some adrenaline, they just bore me. Off the top of my head, I can think of two decent, original zombie flicks--Night of the Living Dead and My Boyfriend's Back (and I'm not entirely sure the latter counts--it definitely wasn't going for the horror aspect).

Of course, when was the last time we had a really good vampire flick? Or werewolves? (Okay, those lovers of Underworld can pipe down--you already know what I thought of that one). Or supernaturalness in general? Of course, that may be the problem--it's all too commonplace. Who's really gonna fear a vampire at this point? We need new things to fear (or mayhap very old things) and most importantly, a revitalisation in our imaginations. Both film and literature are lacking in this no matter the genre.

While Wes Craven has had as many bad films as good, he's a good starting point, I think. The much overlooked Wes Craven's New Nightmare (likely overlooked 'cause not only does it have a lousy title, but also because most people shy away from movie franchises after they pass the third sequel, and this was the seventh) is actually pretty brilliant--at least in its approach. Oddly, it's not so much a sequel as a beginning. It takes the mythology built up in the first six Nightmares, and runs with it, looking at fear itself and breaking down the lines between reality and imagination. After all, fear is one of those things that hovers about in both worlds, but belongs to neither. Essentially, New Nightmare (herafter NN), plays with the idea of what happens when a fictional character, whose sole purpose is to frighten, is killed off in the fictional world. Not a new idea, of course. Stephen King played with it in The Dark Half. And I'm sure countless others have as well. But the great thing about NN is that it's not so much the fictional character that wants back into life, but the fear itself--the fear no longer has a vehicle to do its work, and by goodness, it shall not be denied. Somewhat Ellisonian, but without Harlan's tendency for cynicism. Interestingly, this force of fear in NN ultimately finds life in a very old place--a fairy tale, of the Grimm variety. Dark, disturbing, and completely unafraid to teach us something. That, I think, is what we're really lacking. We need to strip off the conventions of the genre, and get back to the basic seed of what scares us. Because I don't think those fears have gone away--we've just stopped letting them get under our skin. Which is a bad, bad place to be. When we know the Good will win in the end, it's all right to be not afraid. But when we don't fear simply because we don't care, or because we can't even see the things of which we ought to be afraid, then it's time for a change.

Hence my call to arms--at least for myself. I'd love to have compatriots in the fight, but for myself I'm finding a renewed sense of purpose, and I'll go it alone if I must. I need to get the last third of the novel edited. It is, after all, the beginning, and so it's a bit difficult to get going until I've begun. Beside the monetary reward, I've always thought the two best parts of writing would be to get people to use their imaginations, and to scare the heck out of them. Methinks it's time to get doing that in earnest.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   10:38 AM
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24 March 2004
Boithday

Though I'm not sure she even reads the blog, I wanted to wish my sister a very Happy Birthday today. I'll not say which birthday it is for her, 'cause that'd just be rude. But suffice it to say that my mom was twenty-five when I was born, and my sister is one-sixth of seven times my current age. Not a very good mathematical riddle, I know, but math ain't my thing, alas. (And might I just add: where else but here can you hear "ain't" and "alas" in the same sentence?)

Anyway, back to the point, I say to me sis: Happy Birthday! May your day be filled with happiness and yummy cake!
Jelly Pinched Wolf   8:51 AM
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23 March 2004
Well, That Didn't Take Very Long

Just wanted to extend a welcome to another new blog over in the links section. Citizen Bob has been seduced by the evil that is blogging, and now gives us Weirdsville, USA.

There remains but one former Rock Stupid Student unsullied now....
Jelly Pinched Wolf   7:20 AM
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21 March 2004
Whatever Happened to Scaring the Bejeezus Out of People?
After reading Flambeaux'
post on The Order (which I have thankfully, unlike my wife, not seen), I began to wonder what's become of the Devil Movie genre. They used to be so good back in the seventies. But lately, they're just not working. Granted, while Stigmata and the phrase "theologically sound" are not even remotely synonymous, it was at least cheesy fun. And let us not forget The Devil's Advocate and Fallen, both of which know how to string their audiences along. But the recent entries like The Ninth Gate and now The Order (I will not bother to even include anything involving Kirk Cameron or the myriad Vatican conspiracy blitherings; I will never watch these on the grounds of simple taste), are designed to neither have fun with, nor scare their audiences. And really, those are the two prerequisites for a good old-fashioned Devil Movie.

Was it just the decade? I mean, the seventies had a lot of problems (though not Disco--never Disco; Disco was not a problem, but the Form of Cheese--always remember that Disco and Grape Kool-Aid will save the world), but film flourished. And not only the more serious entries, like, well, anything starring Gene Hackman or Al Pacino. (As a side note, since this be not the point of the post, might I just say that while Hackman is good in everything he's in--even dreck like Marooned--or Space Travelers, depending on when you happened to see the dreck--he was particularly superb in his seventies flicks. The French Connection, The French Connection II, The Conversation--all darn fine movies. But, I blather.) The big fun films--Star Wars, Jaws, Young Frankenstein, Close Encounters of the Third Kind--were just as good, and indicative of, well, something going on in the seventies that seems to be lost now. Maybe it was all the drugs. But who am I to cast judgment?

Either way, we seem to be lacking in good Devil Movies now, and that is a shame. And I mean good, solid, scary Devil movies. The Exorcist. The Omen (which, I mention as a point of trivia, had in it Patrick Troughton, who played the cranky Second Doctor, who looked like Shemp, on Doctor Who). Rosemary's Baby. These films defined, in me own humble opinion, the sub-genre of Devil Movies. They managed to hit that perfect tone of supernatural freakiness that makes your skin crawl, and makes you wonder what demons might be lurking in the hall, or across the way in that other apartment, or just in the periphery of your vision. They were saying something--don't mess with these things, 'cause it won't turn out well for you. It certainly doesn't for Gregory Peck, or Mia Farrow, or Max von Sydow. But now, we get the message from The Ninth Gate that if you're a real slimeball, you just might get to become a Prince of Hell! Won't that be fun! (At least, I assume that's the message of the film--in all that boring drivel, it wasn't easy to figure out what the heck was going--but coming as it was from Roman Polanski, I can't say I'd be surprised if that was in fact the message*).

I don't know. I don't have an answer. Or, as usual, a point, really. Except that, mayhap I really do need to finish that screenplay I started so long ago. Or rather, turn it into what it needs to be--a good old-fashioned Devil Movie, both fun and scary. Not glorifying the evil, but terrifying with it. After all, if I am to be a writer of horror, I should needs put it to a good end, neh?

*Don't get me wrong, while Polanski may be one of the most deplorable examples of humanity to ever walk the Earth, he has made good films. Heck, besides Chinatown and Death and the Maiden, he also made the aforementioned Rosemary's Baby. But this does not excuse Gate. In a word--it was a really, bloody vile piece of feculent, lame, often incomprehensible tedium. I'm not even certain you can have a "piece of tedium," but there you have it--that's what this sort of movie does to you.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   9:32 PM
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