True North

Various Artists

Tracks: 1 — True North (Paul Speer); 2 — Flightpath (Jonn Serrie); 3 — Third Stone from the Sun (Speer); 4 — Stolen Fire (Serrie); 5 — Touchwood (Tangerine Dream); 6 — Whispers of Light (James Reynolds); 7 — Adagio Dolente (Speer); 8 — Tingri (Serrie); 9 — One More River Passing (Reynolds); 10 — True North/Reprise (Speer)

Tags: Compilation, New Age, Light Rock

Release Date: Listed as January 24, 1995 (see text for more)

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Compilation, theme, and concept albums have a hit-or-miss feel to them, generally. Theme discs like those of Chip Davis’ Day Parts series (e.g., Sunday Morning Coffee) are usually quite good. This particular album is rather like a tire that’s been badly retreaded — not necessarily dangerous, but perhaps not really worth risking taking a ride on. Continue reading “True North”

Naked Lunch

(1991, R) Peter Weller (Bill Lee), Judy Davis (Joan Frost/Joan Lee), Ian Holm (Tom Frost), Julian Sands (Yves Cloquet), Monique Mercure (Fedela), Nicholas Campbell (Hank), Michael Zelnicker (Martin), Robert A. Silverman (Hans), Joseph Scorsiani (Kiki), Roy Scheider (Dr. Benway). Music: Howard Shore. Screenplay: David Cronenberg (based on the book by William S. Burroughs). Director: David Cronenberg. 115 minutes.

Tags: Surreal, BeatGen

Notable: Post-Robocop Weller proves an acting ability that pop-critics didn’t think he had; Cronenberg accomplishing writing/filming the most “unfilmable” novel of all time.

Rating: ★★★★★

Part-time bug exterminator and full-time drug addict Bill Lee finds himself seduced into the nightmarish world of Interzone, a place that may not be a place at all, populated by sinister cabals, people who may not be people, and giant talking bugs who seek reports of whatever happenings Bill can find his way into… if, of course, he can find his way back out of them again. Continue reading “Naked Lunch”

Out of Position

By Kyell Gold
(Cover and interior art by Blotch)
ISBN not available

Publication Year: 2009

Tags: Furry, Gay, Love Story

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

From the Amazon page for this eBook: Dev is a football player at Forester University, a small liberal arts college where he and his teammates get to strut around and have their pick of the girls on Friday nights. That’s as good as it gets — until he meets Lee, a fox with a quick wit and an attractive body. Problem is, Lee’s not a girl. He’s a gay fox, an activist who never dreamed he’d fall for a football player. As their attraction deepens into romance, it’s hard enough for them to handle each other, let alone their inquisitive friends, family, and co-workers. And if school is bad, the hyper-masculine world of professional sports that awaits Dev after graduation will be a hundred times worse. Going it alone would make everything easier. If only they could stop fighting long enough to break up. Continue reading “Out of Position”

Who?

(1974, Rated PG) Elliott Gould (Sean Rogers), Trevor Howard (Col. Azarin), Joseph Bova (Dr. Lucas Martino), Edward Grover (Finchley), John Lehne (Haller), James Noble (Gen. Deptford), Lyndon Brook (Dr. Barrister), Michael Lombard (Dr. Besser), Kay Tornborg (Edith), Joy Garrett (Barbara), John Steward (Frank Heywood). Screenplay: John Gould (based on the novel by Algys Budrys). Director: Jack Gold. 93 minutes.

Tags: Psychological Thriller, Cold War, Existential

Notable: Also released as Roboman and The Man in the Steel Mask. Various sources list the film’s release date as 1973, 1974, and 1975; the film’s opening credits show MXMLXXIV — 1974.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

An important American scientist is burned nearly to death in an automobile accident inside the borders of the Soviet Union. He is returned after six months, only his right arm and his brain still intact; the rest of him is a silvery, robotic imitation of a human being. The FBI agent assigned to bring him back to his work on the top-secret Neptune project is not satisfied with the artificial man’s identity. The arm is real; the fingerprints and DNA identity are real. What about the brain — is it the scientist, and even if so, has he been brainwashed into being a Soviet agent? Who is he… really? Continue reading “Who?”

Weight Loss for the Mind

By Stuart Wilde
ISBN: 1-56170-537-3

Tags: New Age, Philosophical, Stupid

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Self-described “Wilde Man” Stuart Wilde offers this slim volume of advice on how to put your mind on a lean diet of positive and self-building thinking. At its core, there’s little here that’s “new,” in any particular sense of the word. Wilde is an entertaining figure in the world of New Age philosophy, without meaning any sleight to the genre at large.  The trouble is that he is far more entertainer than philosopher, and to a certain degree, he’s hypocritical. Continue reading “Weight Loss for the Mind”

Eyes of Laura Mars

(1978, R) Faye Dunaway (Laura Mars), Tommy Lee Jones (Lt. John Neville), Brad Dourif (Tommy Ludlow), René Auberjonois (Donald Phelps), Raul Julia (Michael Reisler, listed as R.J. in the opening credits), Frank Adonis (Sal Volpe), Bill Boggs (himself). Music: Roy Budd. Screenplay: John Carpenter and David Zelag Goodman (story by John Carpenter). Director: Irvin Kirshner. 103 minutes.

Tags: Mystery, Suspense, Psychic

Notable: John Carpenter after Halloween but before The Fog; title song, “Prisoner,” sung by Barbara Streisand; if you look quick, you can see UMP on a building in the apparently low-rent district!

Rating: ★★★★☆

Fashion and artistic photographer Laura Mars discovers that she has been seeing visions of violence and murder and, without knowing it, recreating authentic reproductions of crime scenes in her work. Police Lieutenant John Neville thinks that Laura may actually have committed the murders in a form of split-personality fugue state. Her claim is that she witnesses the crimes, not as an outside observer, but through the eyes of the killer. The killings become personal as her publisher, her publicist, and two of her models are hideously murdered. How many more must die before she can discover the gruesome secret behind the murderer’s connection to her? Continue reading “Eyes of Laura Mars”

The Taking

By Dean Koontz
ISBN-13 978-0553593501

Publication Year: 2004

Tags: Horror, Suspense

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

From the book cover: On the morning that marks the end of the world they have known, Molly and Neil Sloan awaken to the drumbeat of rain on their roof. A luminous silvery downpour is drenching their small California mountain town. It has haunted their sleep, invaded their dreams, and now, in the moody purple dawn, the young couple cannot shake the sense of something terribly wrong. As the hours pass, Molly and Neil listen to disturbing news of extreme weather phenomena across the globe. By nightfall, their little town loses all contact with the outside world. A thick fog transforms the once-friendly village into a ghostly labyrinth. And soon the Sloans and their neighbors will be forced to draw on reserves of courage and humanity they never knew they had. For within the misty gloom they will encounter something that reveals in a shattering instant what is happening to their world—something that is hunting them with ruthless efficiency. Continue reading “The Taking”

Raising a Ruckus Over Resumés

Getting a job is a full-time job in itself, one that requires not merely dedication but also education — not in the sense of a university degree, but rather in the sense of learning an entirely new and largely deceitful vocabulary. It begins with words and phrases that eliminate anything personal. Companies don’t want people; people are inconvenient. If they could get the job done by a machine, they would. Sometimes, though, they have to have those pesky parasites known as “employees,” and they send out a call for resumés. (Oh wait… “resumes”, since that é is just too French for business to deal with.) Let’s have a look at what that actually means these days. Continue reading “Raising a Ruckus Over Resumés”

Nightflyers

(1987, Rated R) Catherine Mary Stewart (Miranda), Michael Praed (Royd), John Standing (Dr. D’Branin), Lisa Blount (Audrey), Glenn Withrow (Keelor), James Avery (Darryl), Hélene Udy (Lilly), Annabel Brooks (Eliza Scott), Michael Des Barres (Jon Winderman). Music: Doug Timm. Screenplay: Robert Jaffe (based on the novella by George R. R. Martin). Director: T. C. Blake. 90 minutes.

Tags: Science Fiction, Horror, Suspense

Notable: Dark sci-fi long before George R. R. Martin became Game of Thrones; comparatively low-budget film makes good use of atmosphere and suspense to supplant glitzy special effects.

Rating: ★★★★☆

In hope of finding an alien life form known as the Volcryn, a research professor is granted a small crew for a deep-space journey. The limited budget leads to the hiring of a computer-operated freighter called the Nightflyer, whose sole crew is Royd, the captain, who appears only as a hologram. Following a trail of weak psychic energy which may be the wake of the Volcryn’s journey through the galaxy, events on-board the ship lead the research team to wonder if the greater mystery lies within the ship itself. Continue reading “Nightflyers”