Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I Don't Like Ike

In case anyone has been trying to call our offices, we have been without power for most hours since Sunday night -- no electricity, no computers, no e-mail, no telephone, no movies, no television! And no way to work on our next issue and keep to our production schedule -- in short, a nightmare! Our previously reported 16-hour outage of Sunday-Monday was followed by a surprise bonus outage that lasted roughly 25 hours, from 6:10 Monday evening till just after 7:00 tonight. We're hoping the power will stay on this time, but only time will tell. So if you've been trying to renew a subscription or place an order by phone, that's why we haven't been able to answer. But things seem to be working now, he said warily as his thoughts turned to whether the satellite dish was still functioning...

Monday, September 15, 2008

VIDEODROME Arrives


My author's copies of my new book VIDEODROME arrived today from Millipede Press, and I'm very pleased.

I was expecting a book of a certain size and heft because this "Studies in the Horror Film" series has its basis in the "BFI Modern Classics" book series, so I was welcomely surprised when I unwrapped the first copy. VIDEODROME measures 6" x 8.5" and weighs a full pound, so it has the feel of something substantial, a book in its own right rather than a slim softcover postscript or sidebar to the main event (that is, the movie in question). The paper quality is exceptional and, detail of details, it even smells good. If the Bava book was 32 years in the making, this one covers a 27 year gestation period (admittedly, with a lot of off-time between 1983 and 2007), so seeing the job finally done properly gives me a feeling of nearly equal satisfaction.

I'm also delighted by this book because, although I've been working as a critic in print for over 30 years, I haven't had too many film books published outside my own imprint. So it's a pleasure to see my film-related writing published by someone else, and to see the job done so well. Furthermore, although I have contributed to many books in my time, VIDEODROME is, by my count, the tenth book to carry my name as author or co-author -- so it marks my advent into the double-digit phase of my book career.

1. YOUR MOVIE GUIDE TO MOVIE CLASSICS VIDEO TAPES AND DISCS by the Editors of Video Times (Tim Lucas and Alex Gordon, 1985)

2. YOUR MOVIE GUIDE TO SCIENCE FICTION/FANTASY VIDEO TAPES AND DISCS by the Editors of Video Times (Tim Lucas, 1985)

3. YOUR MOVIE GUIDE TO HORROR VIDEO TAPES AND DISCS by the Editors of Video Times (Tim Lucas, 1985)

4. YOUR MOVIE GUIDE TO MYSTERY/SUSPENSE VIDEO TAPES AND DISCS by the Editors of Video Times (Tim Lucas, 1985)

5. THE VIDEO WATCHDOG BOOK (1992)

6. OBSESSION: THE FILMS OF JESS FRANCO by Lucas Balbo, Peter Blumenstock and Christian Kessler, with special material by Tim Lucas (1993)

7. THROAT SPROCKETS, a novel (1994; four different editions: US trade paper, UK hardcover and trade paper, French mass-market paper in translation as SALLES OBSCURES)

8. THE BOOK OF RENFIELD: A GOSPEL OF DRACULA, a novel (2005)

9. MARIO BAVA: ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK (2007)

10. VIDEODROME ("Studies in the Horror Film," 2008)

Our vendor's copies of VIDEODROME are not yet in stock, but we are expecting them soon... so, as they say in the realm of video, stay tuned.

Damage Report

Cincinnati was hit yesterday by high winds, fallout from Hurricane Ike, the likes of which I have never seen except in newsreels. Donna and I went to the local Healthplex yesterday morning for our regular Sunday swim/exercise regime, and everything was fine as we went in; when we stepped out, around 1:00pm, the trees were bending and the decorative bird feeder outside the door was on its side.

Driving home, we found a runaway shopping cart endangering cars at a busy intersection, and I leaped out of the car, chased it, grabbed it and rolled it back onto a sidewalk, where I wrestled it onto its side. Pulling into our driveway, we saw a chunk of one of our two Dish Network satellite dishes resting on our front lawn. I immediately checked our reception and found out that we were still receiving our Dish service; evidently the other dish is the old one they never bothered to take down when we upgraded.

Then, around 3:00, our power went out -- no electricity, no computer (= no work), no TV. So we opened the shades and used our windows for television as the high winds carried parts of trees, garbage cans and lids and recycling bins down the street. (Of course, it was garbage night in our neighborhood, as it always seems to be when high winds strike.) We watched in amazement as a section of vinyl siding from a blue house across the street came loose, began flapping in the wind, and finally sailed off somewhere into its rear yard, leaving large sections of insulation exposed. Then I went into the kitchen for some reason and saw, through one of the windows there, that our next door neighbor's deck was covered in bricks and other detritus -- one of their chimneys had collapsed! A good thing they hadn't let their dogs out. How our rickety chimneys withstood the same winds is a question for the ages.

I went outside for a better look. In addition to our neighbor's indeed fallen chimney, the house next to theirs had lost some stripping from its aluminum siding, and a house on the block behind us had lost its entire back surface of siding! Fortunately, the worst we got was that piece that fell off the dead satellite dish. That is, until our power continued to be lost... for a total of 16 hours. Sixteen hours with no lights, no TV (hence we missed the second night of IN TREATMENT's Alex episodes, adding to my generally pissy mood), no phones, no computers... in short, no distraction from the fact that we live in Cincinnati, Ohio! As the hours wore on, we got so bored, sitting here in the dark with our candles, we decided to get in the car and go out to dinner. That's when we realized how widespread the blackout was -- it reached well into northern Kentucky, yet there were also houses less than a mile from us that did have their electricity. I'm hearing that 750,000 people here lost their power last night, and some are still without it.

As we drove, we had to turn back on some familiar streets because of fallen trees. Amazingly, we saw trees whose entire trunks had been snapped in half. We saw one overturned tree and, as we drove past, saw that it had fallen on top of a parked car. I felt like we had driven into some sort of George Romero "martial law" picture with Mother Nature standing in for the usual zombies.

We ended up at Appleby's around 9:30 -- a half hour wait, crowded as a Bengals locker room after a victory, and the entire staff seemed stressed out. Our waitress confessed to breaking down in tears in the kitchen earlier, once the crush of business started easing off, because it was the busiest night they had ever had, with cars actually circling the place earlier. Dinner was fairly miserable; I'm afraid Appleby's isn't very vegetarian friendly, if tilapia isn't your favorite.

We then went home, got into our iPods and spent fairly separate evenings in the dark, Donna sewing by candlelight. Unlike me, she's really cut out for this sort of pioneer days adversity. I sat outside for awhile, smoking a Frisco and listening to Scott Walker -- surveying a yard covered in green leaves, tree branches and snapped twigs, thankful that our chimneys survived the onslaught -- and saw, behind the dense cloud cover of the southeastern sky, what looked like the aurora borealis. It flickered and turned the dull slate blue sky different shades of deep blue, red and violet. It lasted less than a minute but it was a welcome coda for such a distressing day. I was in bed before 2:00am, most unusual for me.

The return of our electricity this morning prompted me to rise early, and I went around resetting clocks and checking the e-mails I should have received yesterday. It feels good to be reconnected to the world!