Monthly Archives: June 2008

Save the Adventurers Club!

One of the major reasons to go to the Walt Disney World Resort, and perhaps the only reason to go to Pleasure Island is… The Adventurers Club.

Many people are unaware of this wonderful themed nightclub at Pleasure Island but those hip to it know it’s the place to be every night of their WDW visit. Outfitted like a 1930s club for adventurers this is an interactive experience with various shows throughout the night. In between shows the action never stops as visitors can interact with actors for a different experience every time you visit. The walls are alive and the objects d’art speak to you, and the exploration never stops as you notice something different every time you’re there.

We have a visit to WDW planned for September, and of course on the agenda were nightly trips to the Adventurers Club. And then a friend hipped me to this: On September 28, 2008, they will be closing down the clubs at Pleasure Island and will be replacing them with shops and restaurants. Some sources say this is due to lack of attendance at Pleasure Island. If this is in fact true, perhaps Disney could have instead invested some advertising for such wonderful and largely unknown treasures like the Adventurers Club.

There is an online petition going around to save the Adventurers Club. You can see it and sign it here.

Kungaloosh!

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Asian Images in Film on TCM

Here is just a sampling of some of the movies being featured this month for “Asian Images in Film” on TCM.

Mr. Wu ~ This is a silent 1927 vehicle for Lon Chaney in which he plays two roles, the title one, old Wu and young Wu. Surrounded by Asian extras, Chaney and Louise Dresser, as his daughter, are Americans playing Chinese aristocrats. Legend has it that Chaney was so convincing that he rode buses and wandered Chinatown while in this make-up unnoticed. As convincing as the make-up may have been however, in the presence of true Asians, the Americans are revealed as just that – whites in yellow face. Ah, simpler minds in simpler times perhaps?

When the daughter of a powerful Mandarin is seduced and abandoned by a wealthy Britisher, Mr. Wu, the Mandarin, takes his revenge. The sets are beautiful and elaborate, even having as much a German film influence, or at least as much as the American black and white silent film industry would allow at the time. The music relays the story as much as the actions and the words, a perfect blending.

The Oriental lettering of the title cards also lends to the film’s uniqueness. Also the passage of time via caption cards does contrive the story a bit, but in the time and the place there was no other way to do it, I suppose, Hollywood not being as slick as it is today. However the emotion and expression performed by Renee Adoree and Holmes Herbert confirm them as masters of the silent field right along with Chaney. Acting without words and conveying feeling perfectly is not an art I doubt that Ben Affleck or Jennifer Lopez or any star of our day could pull off easily, if at all.

The tension of the tea party is wonderfully Hitchcockian before his time and well portrayed. While there is precious little Chaney in this Chaney starrer, when he’s onscreen, he dominates. As is his strong suit, when he gets angry, he is positively frightening. Wu’s horrible revenge is right out of a Sax Rohmer Fu Manchu novel, and fitting for the characters and the story. Despite my misgivings above this is one of my favorite Chaney flicks and a must see for Chaney fans. Brilliant.

Mr. Wong in Chinatown ~ This is the third of four films in which Boris Karloff plays the San Franciscan amateur detective. It’s a role that shows off Karloff’s charm and elegance, qualities not often revealed in his horror parts. The character of James Lee Wong was created for Collier’s Magazine in 1934 by Hugh Wiley.

Mr. Wong went on to star in twelve short stories, six feature films (two of which were remade as Charlie Chan flicks) and a handful of comic books. This one is one of the best, with Karloff playing against Grant Withers as the hard-nosed detective and Marjorie Reynolds as the plucky girl reporter. It’s fun and mystery in the 1930s pulp flavor for everyone.

Daughter of Shanghai ~ Starring the incomparable Anna May Wong in one of her heroic lead roles. Also look for a very young Anthony Quinn, as well as Buster Crabbe in a rare bad guy role. Anna May’s acting and dancing are hypnotic in this B-thriller about smugglers of human cargo. Recommended.

Daughter of the Dragon ~ Once again Anna May Wong is in the spotlight in this early cinematic outing for the insidious Fu Manchu. This film is notable as one of the first featuring an Asian actress playing Asian in a lead role, in this case the title role, the equally insidious daughter of Fu Manchu. Acting against his later known type as Charlie Chan, Warner Oland is Fu Manchu here (his third time in the role), and extra props go to legendary Japanese actor Sessue Hayakawa in his role as one of Scotland Yard’s Chinese detectives. The story, based on Sax Rohmer’s “Daughter of Fu Manchu,” is weak but the performances more than make up for it in this often overlooked B-picture.

The Mask of Fu Manchu ~ Speaking of Fu Manchu, this is probably the flick most people think of when they think of this legendary Asian villain, this time played by horror king Boris Karloff. In my opinion, Karloff’s portrayal is the best in cinema of this sinister villain, who I might add was author Rohmer’s first choice. It’s perfect, the ultimate movie monster playing the premier super-villain, it just doesn’t get better than this.


The rest of the cast is flawless as well. Andy Hardy future dad Lewis Stone is perpetual Fu protagonist Nayland Smith, the future Durango Kid and cowboy superstar Charles Starrett plays leading man action hero, and in perhaps her most unforgettable (and frightening) role (and yes, I’m counting Nora Charles) Myrna Loy as the daughter of Fu Manchu.

The film, based on Sax Rohmer’s classic of the same name, has the heroes and villains racing to find the tomb of Genghis Khan, which contains a mask and other relics that shall bestow ultimate power on the mad villain. All of the trappings and dynamic qualities of the pulps and the early serials are here, but stepped up to the next level. This fantastic adventure is highly recommended.

Artist Michael Turner Passes

From Aspen Comics’ Vince Hernanadez:

Hello all,

Unfortunately it’s with great sadness that I must inform everyone that Michael Turner tragically passed away last night, June 27th at approximately 10:42 pm in Santa Monica, Ca. Turner had been dealing with recent health complications arisen in the past few weeks. More details concerning Turner’s passing, and services, will be given shortly.

Anyone wishing to send their condolences to Michael Turner’s family is encouraged to send to:

Aspen MLT, Inc.
C/O Michael Turner
5855 Green Valley Circle, Suite 111
Culver City, CA, 90230

Aspen also encourages anyone wishing to make a charitable donation to please send to Michael Turner’s requested charities:

The American Cancer Society

Or

The Make-A-Wish Foundation

He was one of the more exciting artists of recent years, and despite his affection for more outlandish bad girl and bad girl art, he was for the most part a fave of mine. He’ll be missed.

More about Michael Turner here.

My Review of Death Masks


Having been a writer and hanging around writers for quite some time now I realize there are folks who talk the talk and those who walk the walk. It’s rare to find someone who does both. Author Kim Richards is one of those folks. When she talks about writing, she’s not only serious, she’s passionate. And that passion comes through in her writing. Her words are alive.

Her words are alive, just as alive as protagonist Bill Cristo is in Death Masks. He is an identifying character in the Stephen King mold, he is us. We are frustrated at his job and happy with his girlfriend. We feel for him and with him. Just as many of us approaching that nether zone of not old but not young any more the doctors have come down on him hard. He’s overweight and needs to do something about it – or he won’t get much older.

So Bill decides to start exercising, maybe a walk or a jog in the park. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention there’s a nutjob stalking the park with a syringe? Yep, and that is when, as they say, hilarity ensues. As the mystery deepens so does your interest. The author has a stranglehold on your attention and never fails you.

This thriller is always on. When we’re not on the roller coaster of suspense, we’re exploring the psyches of Bill or our killer. As I said, Kim Richards is a writer with passion, and that passion propels the reader through the story at an alarming pace. I read Death Masks in one sitting, not because I wanted to or intended to – but because I had to. Kim’s prose wouldn’t let me do otherwise. Highly recommended.

For your copy of Death Masks, check out Eternal Press.

And don’t forget to hit the last two stops on this Virtual Book Tour, with Sheri McGathy on Sunday and Arwen Spencer on Monday.

An Interview with Kim Richards

The following is a recent interview with Death Masks author Kim Richards on the Eternal Press blog:

EP: When did you seriously sit down, and say to yourself, I’m going to write a novel?

Kim Richards: I’ve been writing in one form or another most of my life. After my first marriage broke up, I decided I wanted to take writing seriously. Then I found out how much I still needed to learn so I went back to school and took journalism, started attending conferences and reading everything how-to I could get my hands on. I’ve been lucky to have found mentors online and some great critique groups along the way.

EP: What do you find the most difficult to write? Dialogue? Back story?

Kim Richards: The most difficult for me are transitions from one scene to another. I often get my point of view mixed up there in the first draft.

EP: Have you ever found that you didn’t like your Hero or your Heroine? If so, what did you do to change that?

Kim Richards: I’ve never experienced that. I have had a secondary character end up being my protagonist after I got to know the characters a little better.

EP: If you were to start again, with the knowledge you have now, what would be the first thing you do?

Kim Richards: I wouldn’t let anyone discourage me and I’d not let making money replace the writing. For me writing is something I need to cope with depression so it’s more than just an occupation. It’s my life and I need it.

EP: Do you have the support of friends and family? Meaning, do they understand when you are writing that you cannot be disturbed? Or do you have friends that think since you’re home, you don’t work?

Kim Richards: I do now and it’s wonderful. My previous mother-in-law used to ask when I was getting a ‘real job’ and I took business classes because I believed others who did not find writing an occupation. I’ve had to make it important to ME and shrug off what others think. And yes, when my sons were young, many of their friends’ parents would send their kids to my house after school. You simply learn to deal with it. I figured at least I knew where my sons were at, even if the house regularly got trashed.

The best thing I did for writing is get a ‘do not disturb sign’. I haven’t had to use it in years but it does get the point across when you can hang it on the door and just point to it when you are interrupted. At first people laugh; then they get the point.

EP: What was the biggest hurtle you had to overcome in your career?

Kim Richards: Taking myself seriously and believing my writing worthy.

EP: What genre do you write? Do you write more than one, if so, what?

Kim Richards: I write mainly horror, fantasy and some science fiction. However, if an idea comes, it doesn’t matter what genre it is. Sometimes you don’t see it in your story. I wrote a children’s book back in 2000, thinking of a fantasy market. It was another author who saw it as a kids book. It was published that way.

Death Masks is a thriller. When I wrote it, I had horror in mind. It wasn’t until I started to submit it, that I realized where it best fit. You have to write the story and then worry about what mail slot it fits in.

EP: How do you research for your books?

Kim Richards: I love research and have to be very careful or I spend more time doing that than writing the actual story. I start online but am picky about my resources. If a website doesn’t list resources of its own, I tend to skip it unless there’s a bit of information I think I need…but I focus the research on finding supporting documents (or the lack thereof). I always end up with new books on my shelf when I research. I’m full of what my sons refer to as “useless trivia”.

EP: How do you develop your characters?

Kim Richards: My stories usually start with a what if. When I start worldbuilding and researching, the characters form on their own from the culture, the setting—it often falls into place naturally.

EP: Are any of your characters a person you’d like to be? If so which one?

Kim Richards: Lots of them. They’re usually stronger or smarter or more admirable than I am.

EP: Who inspired you to write?

Kim Richards: Many, many people. An 8th grade teacher who taught me to write my dreams in a notebook; a high school teacher who taught me to journal; authors I’ve met; hokey stories I thought I could write better. It amazes me how there are many more people who do inspire me to write than discourage me, yet in the past it was the negative ones I listened to. Maybe they talk louder.

EP: What is the most humorous writing experience you’ve ever had?

Kim Richards: Meeting a man in an elevator at World Horror Convention. He saw my name tag and had read my science fiction novel out at the time. He lectured me on how I killed off his favorite character.

EP: If a new writer came to you for advice what would you tell them?

Kim Richards: Perseverence. Wrap it around your shoulders and tie it tight.

EP: Do you have a book coming out? If so what? Do you have a web site? Do you have a blog? My space?

Kim Richards: Death Masks is available from Eternal Press. I also have a story out in an anthology of dragon stories by another publisher.

Check out the trailer for Death Masks. The metal band is from my home town, Roswell, New Mexico. You can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lp2zpDNMfmM

My website is: www.kim-richards.com. I’ll be doing a virtual book tour in June, 2008 so check there for the blog visit schedule. There will be prizes!

You can find me at Myspace, Livejournal, Facebook, Blogger, Good Reads and Writer’s Chatroom. All under the username Kim Richards.

I do have one announcement I’d like to make. I’ve just accepted the position of Marketing Manager for Eternal Press. I’m thrilled to be accepted on the team and excited about the upcoming possibilities for me and for the publishing house.

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions for the Eternal Press blog. Good luck with your writing.

An Excerpt from Death Masks

Here’s an excerpt from Kim Richards’ Death Masks:

“Shhh. Please listen.” Her words dropped to a trembling whisper.

“What’s wrong?”

“I’m scared.”

Bill hesitated a moment, thinking she might go on.

“Bill?” She sounded so small and vulnerable. He immediately wanted to reach out through the phone and pull her close. He longed to make whatever it was better.

“I’m here, Hon. What’s going on?” He shut down his computer as he talked.

“Someone keeps calling me.” Once she started speaking, her words came fast and clipped. “At first he kept hanging up. No heavy breathing or anything so I decided it must be those kids next door.”

“He? How do you know it’s a guy?” Bill used one hand to hold the phone and the other to begin stuffing his things into his carry bag.

“Because…” Dampened, low sounds came over the phone.

Oh God, she’s crying.

“Because I know what a man’s voice sounds like. This last time, just a minute ago, he said I’m next.”

“Next for what?” As Bill said the words, he’d already guessed the answer. All the clues were in place, the footprints on the porch, the maniac figuring out Bill knew about him, and now the calls to Dix. He didn’t hear her answer.

——————————-

About the author:

Kim Richards lives in Northern California; with wedding plans for May 2009. She writes horror, fantasy, erotica and science fiction, as well as non-fiction chapters and articles. She has seen one children’s story published and Death Masks is her first thriller. For more information on all of her published works, check out her website at www.kim-richards.com.

Kim is an avid costumer and amateur bellydancer. She loves her coffee. She works as an editor for MyShelf Reviews and for Eternal Press as an author, editor and marketing manager. You can find her at Facebook, MySpace, LiveJournal and Goodreads under the user name Kim_Richards

Death Masks by Kim Richards

Kim Richards is a friend, and although we’ve never met in person, I consider her as dear a friend as one could know through this wild magic known as the intranets. She’s been wonderful support for me as a writer and hopefully we’ve both been able to learn from each other in our time in The Writers Chatroom. When she asked me to be part of her virtual book tour for Death Masks, I jumped at the chance. So for the next few blog entries here at Welcome to Hell, we’ll be taking a look at her terrific new novel.

Here’s the book trailer from YouTube:

Here’s the super-cool back cover blurb:

Bill Cristo takes up walking a per his doctor’s orders to lose weight and improve his health. While at the metro park, he witnesses an assault. The assailant turns on him and he wakes in the hospital with a nasty bump on his head, wondering why he isn’t dead.

The news reports nothing on any attack in the metro park but Bill can’t let it go…not when he realizes there are other young men missing from the same area. He digs up what he can on his own, drawing further attention from the murderer. Will he be able to figure out who the killer is before it reaches his live-in girlfriend?

Interested in picking up Death Masks? Check out Eternal Press for details.

Total Drama Island

Jumper

Jumper ~ You know that old meme question that asks, “If you could have any super power, what would it be?” Most folks say flying. Some guys with a mind toward visiting the girls locker room will say invisibility. Comic book geeks will have a variety of answers, most popular being able to wield a Green Lantern Power Ring. But people of another type – folks always on the run, or want to escape – will say teleportation.

That’s what Jumper is all about. There are folks could can teleport at will, called ‘jumpers’ and folks who hunt them down, called ‘paladins.’ Hilarity ensues, as they say. Hayden Christiansen discovers he’s a jumper and escapes from his horrible home life to be a world traveler and a bank robber until he’s finally caught up in the jumper/paladin war he was unaware of until that time. All he wants to do is court the girl of his dreams.

Hayden Christiansen is the lead who comes off much more likable here than in the Star Wars debacles. As a matter of fact, the entire cast is very effective here except for Rachel Bilson who just feels insincere. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be the character or just bad acting. I’m leaning toward the latter. Michael Rooker plays to type as Christiansen’s abusive father, Diane Lane is looking very good lately and not just here. Look fast or you’ll miss Tom Hulce and Samuel L. Jackson is back in bad ass mode as the flick’s main bad guy. The prize of the cast is little Billy Elliot all grown up – Jamie Bell as another jumper who tries to show Christiansen the ropes. This guy, already a proven star, is an actor to watch. Bell’s star is definitely on the rise, and higher than before.

Jumper takes advantage of all the special effects at its disposal, and as a story it does just about everything one could imagine could be done with the concept. This is a very full movie. There could be a sequel, and I guess, after the box office it’s done, one will be made, but I hope that won’t happen. Like any number of other sequeled flicks, one would only dilute this movie. Recommended.

Beast with a Billion Backs

Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs ~ David Cross is a sick sick monkey, and I think he’s hilarious. His presence can virtually turn around a usually bad movie – witness Alvin and the Chipmonks, he made that flick fall-down-and-wet-yourself funny. So when I heard he had a major guest-starring role in the second “Futurama” feature I was already sold.

Things pick up from the last feature as if we hadn’t had to wait a few months. Amy and Kif get hitched, Fry gets a polyamorous girlfriend and there’s a rip in time and space above the earth. As with any extra-dimensional rift, it must be explored, and there a polyamorous tentacle monster named Yivo, played by Cross, is found. It goes downhill from there.

Little things like the Death Ball Arena, the Upscale Human Domicile, the Exorcist 2 and Wishmaster references and of course everything with David Cross are kind of amusing, but for the most part, this feature doesn’t come close to Bender’s Big Score or even the TV series. The subplots are boring and I’m being kind. If only there was more David Cross, love his gonorrhea joke though. Nothing on the DVD special features either this time out, although the preview for the next one looks fairly interesting – a spoof on Dungeons & Dragons. There are two more of these straight-to-DVD Futuramas coming so maybe they can make up for this one.