Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Curse of Chucky Charmed at Fantasia Film Festival

I’m so happy to report that my friend, and the writer-director of the upcoming Curse of Chucky comedy-horror film, won the Fantasia Film Festival Audience Award for Best International Feature.

The sold out screening housed over 800 fans, and was followed by a Q&A with Don and the movie’s stars, stars Fiona Dourif, Danielle Bisutti and Chantal Quesnelle. (Fear not: Brad Dourif is back as the tough-talking, knife-wielding plaything; he just wasn’t in Montreal, Quebec for the screening.) In this spooky installment of the ongoing story, Chucky terrorizes a young girl and her family.

Mr. Mancini all smiles in Montreal

Chucky, all smiles in menace!

Don, Chucky & me, promoting one of the anniversary editions of Child's Play

I couldn’t be happier for Don, as I know this project has been in the works for a long time, and it’s a film he genuinely wanted to make. His directorial debut was with Seed of Chucky back in 2004 and that’s how I first met Don. It was through my lukewarm review of the film, written for Horror.com, and we’ve been friends ever since! Funny, isn’t it?

Actually, I did give it a “Fresh” rating on the Rotten Tomato-meter, because I certainly didn’t hate it at all… it just wasn’t what I was expecting. Don dropped me a really nice email about the review, pointing out a few things I’d missed, and you know what? He was right: Once my expectation level was readjusted, I took a look later on when SoC debuted on DVD and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I can’t wait to thoroughly enjoy Curse of Chucky. You can too, when it arrives on Blu-ray and DVD on October 8, 2013.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

108 Rock Star Guitars Rock Malibu Mountains - New Book on Legendary Guitars Coming Soon!

I love rock ‘n roll. Put another dime in the jukebox, baby. (Or, as the case may be, download the classic song from iTunes for .99 cents.)
Most of my readers know me for fashion, style, cinema and the like, and maybe a handful of you know me as the daughter of Don Wilson, founder of the surf-guitar band The Ventures and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductee.
It was that connection which led me to meet Lisa S. Johnson, a very talented shutterbug specializing in macrophotography of guitars. And not just any guitars… the ones used to play the songs we will never forget. Like the 1967 Fender Jazzmaster my dad played on so many Ventures records and on the road for over 40 years before it was sold at Julien’s auction last year. But not before Lisa photographed it for her upcoming coffee table art book, 108 Rock Star Guitars.
The guitar at auction. Photo (c) Lisa S. Johnson
L to R: My sister Jill, Dad, me, and my brother Tim
 As I got to know Lisa better, I learned that while she is a talented photographer with a unique perspective on these instruments, she’s also a true rock music enthusiast. Her passion for the guitar is profound. She owns several (including an acoustic that belonged to her musician dad, when she was a girl), she plays a little (still learning!), and she keeps up on things by going to all the best guitar-driven rockers’ concerts (Just this year: The Rolling Stones, Yes, Jimi Hendrix Experience).

Author and photographer Lisa S. Johnson
showing off a mock up of her 108 Rock Star Guitars book
(due out in the fall of 2013)
 I believe it is this innate enthusiasm and her true love of music that makes her photography so stunning. She’s like Helmut Newton fetishizing the female form, or Diane Arbus looking beyond the physical to the soul of her subjects. Anyone can point and shoot… it’s the artists’ perception we are truly experiencing when we look at these works.

At a special press event in Malibu to announce the launch of 108 Rock Star Guitars, Lisa presided over a truly eye-opening slide show preview, giving the inside stories – from memory – behind each guitar’s nicks, cuts, wear marks, color schemes, and named off the songs we know them for and how the ‘sound’ was actually achieved. Fascinating stuff. She also told us about her travels from the backstage hallways of some of the world’s most famous concert venues, to the artist’s private homes.
Photos include Les Paul’s personal ax (the legendary, iconic and highly influential guitarist wrote the introduction to 108 Rock Star Guitars shortly before he passed on), Jimmy Page’s red double-neck played on Stairway to Heaven, and six-stringed works of art belonging to Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Lou Reed, Slash, Jack White, Nancy Wilson, Ace Frehley, and Robby Krieger of The Doors, who was a guest of honor at the launch event. That’s a lot of guitars. 108 in total!

Robby Krieger & Lisa S. Johnson

Extra special cake (with leopard pattern cake inside!) by Cakeheads


Cutting the cake with Wayne Kramer, Warren DeMartini,
Robby Krieger, Lisa S. Johnson
Why 108? Lisa is a true devotee of yoga, and in the yogic tradition the prayer bead string, the mala, has 108 beads on it. Much like the Catholic rosary, the beads are used to count mantras. She feels a spiritual connection to her work, right down to the title of her book, is imperative – there are many more connections to the number 108, which are explained by Lisa in interviews elsewhere. (Even I had an almost otherworldly connection to “108” on the day I attended the event: my car’s mileage turned over to 108 miles soon as I pulled into the driveway.)

Cue the Twilight Zone theme. No wait. Make that, The Twilight Zone theme with some kickass guitar:


= = =
108 Rock Star Guitars is now available for pre-order. Go to RockStarGuitars.com

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

R.I.P., Ray Harryhausen

I don’t usually post anything at the passing of a celeb, or even a legend. After all, there are dozens upon dozens of news outlets and fan sites to report the facts and figures, and friends and colleagues of the departed offering their personal .02.


I have .01, at best, to offer, but I do want to take a moment to pay my respects to Ray Harryhausen, who died today in London at the age of 92.

Like most fantasy-fueled kids of bygone eras, in the days before CGI and long before the advent of IMAX and the like, I saved up my lunch money to go to the movies on Saturdays. I must have caught revival matinees of Mighty Joe Young, The Valley of Gwangi and the Sinbad movies dozens of times, and was an established fan by the time Clash of the Titans was released in 1981. Though it’s not considered his best, I’ll never forget a single frame of that film. I still love Bebo, Pegasus, Calibos’s romantic, tragic riddles, Andromeda and Perseus… and of course, The Kraken. Pure fantasy, pure fun.

When I became the on-camera reporter and interviewer for the SyFy Channel (actually, I was there when they were still Sci-Fi!), I was lucky enough to interview Ray Harryhausen a number of times, and cover some rather spirited panels and Q&As featuring himself and “the other Ray” (Bradbury, who passed on last year). To be in the presence of such intelligent, down to earth, and truly legendary figures in the genre is to be humbled indeed.

Ray Harryhausen was one of the kindest, most accessible, well-spoken and brilliant people I ever interviewed. Respect.
-- Staci Layne Wilson
Ray Harryhausen and Staci Layne Wilson

Monday, April 22, 2013

Staci’s Smoothies

Here are my two latest favorites; I never measure anything exactly, but here are the ingredients. All you need is a standard blender. Very inexpensive meals… I get all the fresh fixings at the .99 Cent Store!




Nonfat milk (about ½ a cup)

Nonfat milk ice-cubes (about 2 or 3)

Frozen fresh banana coins (about 4)

Frozen fresh blackberries (a handful)

Wheat germ (handful)

Bran (spoonful)

Whey protein powder (vanilla, a scoop)




Water (about a cup)

Raw egg (1)

Fresh spinach (handful)

Lettuce (2 leaves)

Tomato (1)

Carrots (2 large)

Butternut squash cubes (about 5)


(if you want some zing, you could add cucumber, lime or red wine vinegar - but I like it plain)
= = =
For excercise these days, I'm doing 4 miles (walking and jogging) in the canyon 3 x a week, treadmill and free weights at home 1 or 2 x a week, and a truly killer Power Pilates 1 x a week. I'll be adding cardio boxing soon.


Monday, February 25, 2013

My Personal Zombie Apocalypse - PodCRASH with Chris Gore

Saturday was quite the trek! Not only did I work on a music video from sunup to sundown complete with four different set-ups and come in under time, but… I was also on Chris Gore's PodCRASH later that night. Talk about a red letter day (and that is not a euphemism).

When I said yes to Chris, I had no idea what I was in for (again: not a euphemism). I figured PodCRASH would be a fun little tete-a-tete debate with some fellow geeks, just talking off the cuff about zombie flicks. But, about an hour before I had to get changed and ready to drive out to Hollywood, I saw the War & Peace of instructions via email, as well as physical comedy and props being required!

But I knew my partner in crime, Matt Raub (we used to host a weekly chat show, This Week In Horror, together) would be there and he'd have my back. He did. But even Matt couldn't save me from the zombie apocalypse.

Upon arrival at IO West in Hollywood (on Hollywood… oh, so meta), Matt and I were labeled with our names in huge print (which would later be replaced onstage with our zombie movie cliché characters — Matt was "Guy You Hate" and I was "Hot Chick"… we were joined by "Black Guy", "Coward", and "First To Die").

As I hobbled onstage (did I mention? I'd busted my toe a few days before and regardless of the zombie cocktail specials at the bar, I was feelin' the pain), I was slammed with the first question: What makes you such a big zombie fan?" Welllll… you know what? In spite of my background in horror, and the fact that I have, indeed, worn George A. Romero's eyeglasses, I am not a zombie fan.

I got booed, right off the bat. So much for honest answers. Brutal, I tell you! Brutal! (I chose not to mention the fact I have never seen The Walking Dead, either… which just so happened to be the theme of PodCRASH that night… shhhhh.)

One by one, we were asked the questions by a bloodied-up, chainsaw wielding Chris Gore (yep: more meta!).

Most folks chose Night of the Living Dead. Ho-hum. My boy Matt chose Fulci's ZOMBI 2. Sweet! My answer was, of course, 1932's WHITE ZOMBIE, starring Bela Lugosi as Murder Legendre.

I had somewhat redeemed myself by that unexpected, quirky old-school reply of mine — someone else was voted off via audience reaction — but I soon fell another notch after the "Do your best zombie walk" demo. For one thing, I don't have a zombie walk, let alone a "best" one. For another… while I am perfectly comfy onstage, I'm not a ham. No karaoke for me, no beat poetry on open mic night, and certainly no zombie shambles. But, I'm a trooper. I thought my ouchy foot might actually help me out here, but I came off looking more like I was channeling Jessica Tandy on a slow day than 28 Days Later.

Still, somehow, I maintained my "Hot Chick" status for just a little longer. What came next was my downfall… In the PodCRASH email, the question said, "What's the BEST ZOMBIE in a movie, tv show or in fiction that is never actually called a zombie?" Easy, I thought: Rufus the cat in Re-Animator. But no. Chris put a twist in the question, and my reply no longer applied. Matt had my back, whispered, "Captain America." My stolen answer was acceptable, but… not good enough. (Thanks anyway, Matty... luv uuu!)

I was, (secretly thankfully) voted off.

Since I was unable to answer the rest of the questions live, here's what I would have said, had I survived….

Your zombie defense WEAPON of choice?
Vinyl records, ala Shaun of the Dead.

Best ZOMBIE KILL of all time.
Zombie vs. Shark in Lucio Fulci's ZOMBI 2

Walking Dead - we need to know your favorite character and why you stand with them.... Is is Andrea? Rick? Daryl?
Uh-oh. Never watched the show.

Your DESERT ISLAND zombie movie list - pick up to 5 movies to take with you into your shelter:
White Zombie
I Walked With a Zombie
The Serpent and the Rainbow
Shaun of the Dead

If you could SAVE ANYONE on this panel other than yourself, who would you save?
Matt Raub because he is my favorite "Final Boy"!


If zombies break in that door in the back right now, what is your PLAN?
I will cue up the Thomas Dolby and blind them with science!

Bring in your most prized zombie COLLECTIBLE and you will be asked to argue why it is the best.
T-Virus from Resident Evil 3

So, I may not have survived the zombie apocalypse, but I've lived to blog another day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

7 Sexiest Romantic Rock 'n Roll Couples of the 70s: Celebrating Valentine's Day & "DARK LULLABY" book special

I never did like John & Yoko as a couple. I always thought Gene & Shannon were kind of tacky. Rod & Alana were stylish 'n racy, but not especially lovey-dovey. Paul & Linda were cute, but not sexy. I adore John & June, but they're not really rock 'n roll. Debbie & Chris are more punk (as were Sid & Nancy, and definitely not "romantic" in my songbook!). Jim & Pam were beautiful and sexy as sin, but their heyday was more the swingin' 60s. Todd & Bebe are another fave, but there's only 7 slots! Sigh…

So in compiling my list of personal faves, I thought of the songs I most loved, written about these often turbulent, passionate relationships.

In my vampire romance novel, DARK LULLABY, which is set in 1971 and centers on a lead singer and guitarist who's in love with his vampire muse, there's a song called "Butterfly Kiss", which brings them together…

I interrupt your regularly scheduled blog to announce this Valentine's Day special! Anyone who buys an e-book of DARK LULLABY on February 14, 2013 — costs $2.99 — will receive a free copy of my movie guide 50 YEARS OF GHOST MOVIES

Download DARK LULLABY in any format through Smashwords or a Kindle edition through Amazon


Staci Layne's 7 Sexiest 
Romantic Rock & Roll Men & Muses

Mick & Marianne

Although I must confess I like the visual coupling of Mick & Bianca better (they looked so much alike!), I certainly cannot deny the enduring power of the song "Wild Horses" which was written by Mick (& 'Keef') for Marianne. It's rumored that Mick's secret love song "Memory Motel" was written for Carly Simon in answer to her secret love song about (maybe!) him, "You're So Vain". Mick wrote many exquisite dirges for amazing women, such as "Angie", after some stolen moments with his friend's wife.

Wild Horses by The Rolling Stones on Grooveshark


David & Angie

David Bowie wrote the songs "The Prettiest Star" (Angela appears in the concert film Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars; in a backstage sequence, David calls her by the name 'Star') and "Golden Years" about her. These two were a real power couple, long before there was terminology to describe it.

The Prettiest Star by David Bowie on Grooveshark


Lindsay & Stevie

So many songs to choose from! Lots of love and romantic strife here, and the talent to express it. Each of them wrote songs for, and about, the other. "Go Your Own Way" is probably the most popular one in relation to the relationship, but my favorite is Stevie's lament, "Landslide" as well as the lesser-known "Silver Spring" (which was written in the 70s, but not released till later), which goes, 'I’ll follow you down ’til the sound of my voice will haunt you (give me just a chance). You’ll never get away from the sound of the woman that loved you (was I just a fool?).'


Leonard & Joni

Leonard Cohen wrote some of the most gorgeous, luscious, sumptuous, swoon-worthy seductive songs, ever. "Chelsea Hotel" was for Janis Joplin, "Suzanne" was for Suzanne Verdal McCallister (but which Leonard dueted so beautifully with another lover of his, Judy Collins — who, of course was the inspiration for the CSN song, "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes… and, on that note, "Our House" is another CSN song, inspired by Joni). There are more. But my faves are the ones L and J wrote for each other (mostly in the 60s, but spilling into the 70s). She wrote "A Case of You" for him, and they each wrote a song called "Winter Lady."

Winter Lady by Leonard Cohen on Grooveshark


Keith & Anita

As was typical in these swingin' times, many ladies went from one band member to another; Swedish model Anita Pallenberg was with Brian Jones before she made the switch to Keith Richards. (There were rumors that she also had a fling with Mick during the filming of Performance.) The two remained together through the 70s, splitting in 1980, but leaving a legacy of lingering love songs. "You Got The Silver" is probably the most famous one.

You Got the Silver by The Rolling Stones on Grooveshark


Eric & Pattie

Certainly the most famous "Romeo & Juliet" of the rock & roll world, there is nothing I can say about these two which hasn't already been revealed. "Layla" is the most widely-known song about Eric's undying love for the blonde beauty (who also inspired "Something" by then-husband George Harrison in 1969), but my personal favorite is "Wonderful Tonight". (Side-trivia: the Donovan song, Jennifer-Juniper, was written about Pattie's sister, Jenny)


Bob & Sara

While Eric & Pattie may be the popular #1 choice, mine is Bob & Sara. They were married, had four children together, and he (my favorite lyricist of all time, space and dimension, by the way!) expressed his love, and their life together most beautifully in the epic outpouring entitled simply, "Sara". It is quite possibly the most poignant, and realistic, love song ever written.

Sara by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

I laid on a dune, I looked at the sky,
When the children were babies and played on the beach.
You came up behind me, I saw you go by,
You were always so close and still within reach.

Sara, Sara,
Whatever made you want to change your mind?
Sara, Sara,
So easy to look at, so hard to define.

I can still see them playin' with their pails in the sand,
They run to the water their buckets to fill.
I can still see the shells fallin' out of their hands
As they follow each other back up the hill.

Sara, Sara,
Sweet virgin angel, sweet love of my life,
Sara, Sara,
Radiant jewel, mystical wife.

Sleepin' in the woods by a fire in the night,
Drinkin' white rum in a Portugal bar,
Them playin' leapfrog and hearin' about Snow White,
You in the marketplace in Savanna-la-Mar.

Sara, Sara,
It's all so clear, I could never forget,
Sara, Sara,
Lovin' you is the one thing I'll never regret.

I can still hear the sounds of those Methodist bells,
I'd taken the cure and had just gotten through,
Stayin' up for days in the Chelsea Hotel,
Writin' "Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" for you.

Sara, Sara,
Wherever we travel we're never apart.
Sara, oh Sara,
Beautiful lady, so dear to my heart.

How did I meet you? I don't know.
A messenger sent me in a tropical storm.
You were there in the winter, moonlight on the snow
And on Lily Pond Lane when the weather was warm.

Sara, oh Sara,
Scorpio Sphinx in a calico dress,
Sara, Sara,
You must forgive me my unworthiness.

Now the beach is deserted except for some kelp
And a piece of an old ship that lies on the shore.
You always responded when I needed your help,
You gave me a map and a key to your door.

Sara, oh Sara,
Glamorous nymph with an arrow and bow,
Sara, oh Sara,
Don't ever leave me, don't ever go.

Here is some rare footage of the couple together, timed to an equally unique rendition of the song.

= = = =

Want more rock & roll love? Check out this fab blog I found on '50 Songs Inspired by Real Women'

Friday, February 1, 2013

Restaurant.com Steered Me Wrong

I guess it's ironic that I'm on day 6 of a cleansing fast, yet I still followed the links to a restaurant meal coupon I got in this morning's usual avalanche of email. I'm not even hungry. And what's more, I have vouchers I bought 6 months ago, and still haven't used. But, curiosity fed the cat and all that, so I decided to have a look at what's available in my area.

One of the search terms I always use when looking for a potential dining day out, is "romantic" — regardless of whether it's for a date. I like quiet; I don't like screaming kids. I like atmosphere; I don't like sawdust floors. I like soft music; I don't like flatscreens blaring football. I like booths; not benches. You get the picture, right?

So, I clicked onto Restaurant.com searched in my immediate area, asked for "romantic dining" and, well, let's just say a picture is worth a thousand words.

Name: Taqueria Los Tres Hermanos. Nothing says love like fried burritos and sweaty siblings. Cupid (and his two brothers) would be appalled! (But the rusty bars going across the front of the establishment are a nice touch.)

Location: Van Nuys, at Sherman Way. Ah, yes… what couple will ever forget date night spent dodging gang-banger gunfire in the parking lot?

Interior: Not exactly crystal chandeliers and red velvet, is it?

Cuisine: If you eat this on a romantic date, the only thing you'll be reaching for in bed later is the Pepto Bismol.

My question… who on earth aside from maybe Fabio's evil twin would consider this restaurant "romantic"?

Cheap Rodeo: An Embarrassment of Riches

Yep, I count myself lucky, lucky again. Not only am I blessed with amazing, professional friends who are always kind enough to recommend me for creative projects — especially when it comes to directing, in which I am only getting started.

In just a few short years, I've done experimental art shorts, DVD featurettes, a 9-part motivational series, and now I've just wrapped a shoot on my second rock video.

The band is Cheap Rodeo, brand new on the music scene, but imbued with years of talent and carrying with them an amazing amount of gravitas considering their self-titled country CD (due out February 6) is their first.

The launch video, which I landed through MasiMedia Productions, is for the single First Night in Heaven, written by P.J. Soles (yes, horror fans… "that" P.J. Soles!). We're still in post- production, but I can tell you that there will be several visual elements woven together to capture the essence of the hopeful melancholia the song, which is about the death of a best friend.

Here are some stills from the shoot, depicting just one of the elements.

Stay tuned for the announcement of the premiere, and then even more about the second video, Chain Gang.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

DAVID BOWIE: Where Are U Now? 1944... 1947... or 2013?

It's David Bowie's birthday today (and Jimmy Page's, tomorrow!). 

Last year I posted the greatest episode ever of "Flight of the Conchords" (called, simply BOWIE). 

This year, I'm sharing one of my favorite surrealist drawings, because I was recently reminded of it at the LACMA exhibit (seen it before, always thought the same thing). It resembles the birthday boy! Drawn by Alfonso Ossorio in 1944 (predating Bowie's birth by just a few years... or is it? After all, Bowie did play a time-space-dimension mixologist in "The Prestige").

Saturday, January 5, 2013

TweetLevel vs Street Level

Since I've been searching for the meaning of (online) life lately, I was led to an article by Neil Patel on Entreprenuer.com called 10 Little Known Social Media Tools You Should Be Using Now

I decided to try TweetLevel, to see how I'm perceived and I hit on two of the five categories: Idea Starter and Curator.

I like that, and it's apt. I have always enjoyed leading the way with "show & tell". Setting trends, rather than following them, has ever been my style (or, rather: doing what I like to do, and if other people like it too, so much the better). Putting together like items (such a DJ'ing on-topic playlists, being able to recommend other films based on one, knowing which fashions from different eras will go together, etc.) has always been a passion of mine. Happy to know it shows.

Idea Starters – this small collective of people are the creative brains behind many of the thoughts and ideas that other people talk about. Even though they may not necessarily have a large audience themselves, their insightful opinions often flow and are repeated throughout conversations long after they have left. They are typically well connected to other idea starters (where they collaborate on thoughts) and amplifiers (who they often rely upon to spread their views). Idea starters tend to be well connected to curators and amplifiers.

Curators – this group though having a far smaller audience are perhaps one of the most influential groups. Long after the idea starter and amplifier have left a conversation, it is the curator that maintains discussion. This niche expert collates information about a specific topic and is frequently sought after for advice about this specific area. They often take part in discussions with idea starters and are avid readers of topic-specific amplifiers.

Now… if I could just figure out how to monetize all this passion. That's ever been my M.O., since I was a kid with a horse, living in a tourist town: Pony Rides, $1.00 — I'd make enough cash to buy some candy or a record, and off I'd go to have fun. While I have never been rich, I have always been successful in making just enough money to support my fun-habit. That's well and good, but it would be nice to have a few extra bucks left over once in awhile.

To this end, I recently read an excellent book called The$100 Start-Up (by Chris Guillebeau) that's been quite inspiring as I move into an especially creative phase in my work. Rather than just writing reviews of other people's original works, I'm focusing on my own. (Which also means I have to deal with the creative aftermath: selling, and staying.)

I have e-books in the zeitgeist and on the horizon (four of my paperbacks went out of print from their respective publishers and I took the rights back). Also, I was hit with a flash of inspiration on a hands-on art project which I started and finished in just a few hours. (Yesterday, as a matter of fact!) I satisfied the muse, then I got down to biz. Already found a virtual gallery to exhibit the pieces, then I am going to sell them on Etsy, based on principles which are applicable through advice given in The $100 Start-Up.

I'll keep you posted on my progress. (via Twitter, naturally!)

Out now: Ghost Writer (fiction) and Guide to Animal Movies & 50 Years of Ghost Movies (non-fiction)

Click the "Dirty Records" link to see the photos in full-size.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Social Network (minus Jesse Eisenberg)

Wow. I am on at least 25 social networking / opinion / blogging / photo / mixer / job-hunting websites and apps… I absolutely cannot keep up and I am unable to really track why I'm more popular on some platforms (5,000 friends-limit on Facebook, less than 100 followers on Instagram).

Blogspot / Blogger
Instagram @stacilayne
Media Bistro
Now Casting

I thought it would be a good idea to blog more, so I rekindled my blogspot and warmed up the old data-entry digits, then I read somewhere that blogs are old hat (even the word is passé) and Tumblr is the wave of the future. I have a Tumblr account, but I have never used it. And so now I'm thinking… should I?

There are so many choices out there and so many things that will create a black-hole of time-sucking quicksand for those of us (read: freelancers) who must rely on online connections in order to find and sustain an income. I do dozens of things to keep afloat: from selling goods on eBay, to professional writing, to directing webisodes. Nowadays, work and pleasure are inextricably mixed and friends (virtual, and IRL) are employers and employees. I love this life, but I sometimes find it overwhelming.

I ask myself… Should I clean slate everything? Should I just shut down some accounts entirely so they're not lingering in the back of my mind? What do I really need Instagram for? Should I use Instagram only for the art and vintage clothes I'm selling on Etsy? Or should I get a cat [#catsofinstagram] and increase my followers that way?

What about this blog… Should I have posted all this on Tumblr instead?

Never mind all this. I think I'll go out and talk to a person today!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Spin me right 'round (like a record)

So excited! Hit by major artistic inspiration today, and everything just fell into place like a row of perfectly poised dominoes.

First of all: at Starbuck's, I used my occasional nom de guerre of "Lucky" …and it set the tone for the day.

I was at the Los Angeles County Art Museum for the second time in a week, enjoying the Drawing Surrealism exhibit before it goes off to New York, just taking it all in, and I saw a beautiful bright chalk drawing on black construction paper, and then in another display, I saw a manhole cover turned into art. That is when the idea to do something on vinyl records struck me. As my mind was percolating with possibilities, I turned a corner and what should be on the wall but a large semi-flat 3-D sculpture of a record album on the wall? It seemed like a "sign" … and they did not stop there.

When I get inspired, I run with it. No over- planning, prepping, pondering, etc. Just do it. So, I figured on my way home I'd stop by a used record store, and Michael's Art Supplies. But first, I had a lunch date with a friend. So, I was telling her about my idea, asking if the Goodwill across the street from the Thai place we were eating at carries vinyl. She said no, but she just happened to have a big stack of old records she didn't want, sitting in her apartment (which is right next door to the restaurant). The one on top is The Real Thing live LP by Taj Mahal (released in 1971, which just happens to be one of my favorite years in pop culture).

So, we finished our lunch, got our fortune cookies, and mine not only said I'd be successful in a business of my own (I'm already thinking: "Etsy!"), the numbers also lined up: 08 and 23 for my birthday.

After I got the records, I looked up the nearest Michael's. But the GPS must have had outdated info, because at the address given there was instead a Staples Office Supply. I was pretty tired by then, so rather than search for another Michael's, I decided to see if Staples had paint or anything (still didn't have a clear idea of what I'd put on the vinyl, and only a few vague notions of theme… definitely sexy things, ladies' legs and high heels, and stuff like that) and what should be the first big stand-up display the minute one walks in the door?

Yep: paint pens, glitter glue, etc. That's maybe a little more kitschy and less fine-artsy than I had in mind, but I went with it and I'm going to see where it takes me!

While I have directed a couple of short films entirely on drive and instinct, I am pretty excited for this feeling now, because it has been so many years (three or four, I guess) since my last ambitious artistic project, which was my Friends at the Friendship Bell photography exercise and exhibit.

That was a wonderfully fulfilling thing to do, but this is even neater in a way, because it's all me… even unlike the films, it's not a collaboration. It's more like writing, but a visual outpouring of my sensibilities.

Can't wait to get started!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

I'm Not Sad, I'm Just Drawn That Way

If you really want to make me frown, command me to "smile!" All my life, ever since I was a small child with nothing much on her mind and certainly no weight of the world, I've been told (mostly by strangers, mostly by men) to "Smile!" Even when I am — sort of — smiling. At least, on the inside. I cannot help the fact that my features, in repose, seem pensive. It's the way my mouth is shaped, and how my eyes are.

After years and years of this command — "Smile!" — I find it more and more vexing. For one thing, why do complete strangers walking by feel as though they have the right to tell me what my expression would be? What's so great about smiling, anyway? It's just one of many expressions, maybe not even the best one. Sulks and pouts have been the model's moneymaker for decades. Plus… don't you think, when you see someone walking down the street, all by themselves and smiling, "I wonder what laughing academy that one's escaped from?"

Don't get me wrong. I've got nothing against smiling. I do it a lot (yes, even when I am alone). I have much to smile for, for sure. But when I was a young child, I had crooked teeth and when my mom had to pay for those Sears portraits or whatever, she'd say, "Don't show your teeth." Then I wore braces and they were hideous metal grills that reflected the sun brighter than Versailles at midday, so I resisted smiling out of deference to the eyesight of others. After my teeth were straight, I still didn't like my smile, because it wasn't the classic one with upturned corners… even when I am smiling, people can't always tell.

Sometimes I remind myself of that classic episode of "Cheers" when Lilith gets a modeling job and the photographer is snapping her photo and calling out expressions for her, but each one is exactly the same. Or this (not smiling is cool, right?)

What's more, not all smiles are genuine. Wouldn't you rather see a person smiling because they really mean it, and it's not just plastered on as a socially acceptable mask? I've noticed that most of the people commanding me to "Smile!" aren't even smiling themselves.

If you are one of those people who feels compelled to shout "Smile!" at others, think twice. Maybe the non-smiler just doesn't have an upturned mouth. Maybe the non-smiler has crooked teeth. Or, maybe, just maybe, that person is feeling neutral.

There is nothing wrong with not smiling.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Type A, B, C, D Personality

So last night I was talking to a friend of mine about dating and I showed her a picture of a guy I see off and on, and she was like, "I didn't know you swung that way!" Then I realized, "Oh, yeah: he's black." I never really think of people in terms of ethnicity, or religion, or social status, etc. I always regard the people whose company I keep in direct relation to how they treat me, what's the content of their character, and whether they are positive, open, and fun to be with.

I've dated younger guys, older guys, broke guys, rich guys, blondes, Asians, exotic foreigners, and bland surfer dudes. Funny, only one person ever pegged me as not having a "type" — and it just happened to be on a blind date — this perceptive fella said, "I can see you with a Wall Street broker one week, and a street musician the next." So true!

Another friend of mine, a fellow singleton, was telling me about this book she was reading a few weeks ago, something about How To Find Your Soul Mate. And one of the things in the book was on the importance of making a very specific list of what you want in a man. And, what you don't want. She said, something like, "100 things, and specific, like Boxers vs Briefs." Mind: blown. I can't think of 100 rigid, specific things I want, to the exclusion of others. There are lots of things I want, and some I don't want, but there are few deal-breakers.

That's why I could never, ever fill out a quiz like this… I want to tic of *ALL* the boxes. (Or at least add an "All of the Above" option.)

So, sure… my ideal man has the wit & wisdom of Oscar Wilde. The philosophical nature of Bob Dylan. The artistic style of Jean Luc Godard. The sexual & romantic prowess of Richard Burton. The entrepreneurial flair of Richard Branson. The curiosity of Michio Kaku. The humor of Johnny Carson. The fashion sense of David Bowie. The autonomy of Jack Kerouac. The musical talent of Jack White. The grace & charm of Errol Flynn. But… I am open to negotiation!

I wonder if having a "type" isn't more of a male thing? I used to think I just liked blondes, because my first serious boyfriend was blonde, and I always loved Brad Pitt, Robert Plant, and so forth… but I never wound up actually dating many of them. (Blondes, I mean. Because I totally went out with Brad Pitt and Robert Plant.)

I like good looks as much as anyone, and I've dated some drop-dead gorgeous men, but prettiness ain't a prerequisite: as long as a guy can rock the ugly with style and panache, I'm down. But when I was talking to another friend of mine — a guy — about this, he said men aren't nearly as willing to overlook less-than acceptable physical traits. Is this true? Do you agree?

Do *you* have a type?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Staci Layne's State of the Union

Her style is new but the face is the same as it was so long ago,
But from her eyes, a different smile like that of one who knows.
-- Led Zeppelin, Heartbreaker

I realize it's superficial, but I'm a visual person and I'm always curious to know if the changes I've been through from year to year, month to month, day to day, really show. I feel them, I think I see them in the mirror, but is it just my own inner projection?

Can you see how sad I was in May? It's the reason I dyed my hair blonde in July, 'cause that's what girls do to cheer up. Can you tell how happy I was in August, or that I turned another year older then? That I rocked an incredible professional accomplishment in November? Yeah, I guess you could say I'm superficial... but never shallow!

I am a deeply superficial person.
-- Andy Warhol

2012 has not been as tumultuous as 2011, not as passionate or exciting, but it's been joyous and liberating all the same. It's been a year to pause and reflect, recharge and bear down to unleash some amazing artistic endeavors I will pursue in 2013 (what was that you said, King Pacal Voltan? Oh, yeah… well… let's just say I hope to pursue these amazing artistic endeavors should there be a 2013).

I've had my share of romantic ups 'n downs this year. Been rocked 'n rolled. But I'd rather have a broken heart than an unbreakable heart. (Listen to Eric Clapton's "I've Got A Rock 'n Roll Heart")

While my heart's been battered, my soul has been nourished -- I've enjoyed the most gratifying artistic accomplishments of my life, as well as seen so many stunning gallery and museum exhibits, enjoyed existential films, attended many live shows (theater, and concert), discovered some bands I absolutely adore, and read some really fantastic books.

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.
-- Lao Tzu

Speaking of books, rights reverted back to me on 4 of my previously-published paperbacks, so I decided to update them and DIY it, e- style.

Ghost Writer, my demonic dark comedy novel, is out now for $2.99 and my nonfiction reference tome on cinematic critters, Guide to Animal Movies, is downloadable for $3.99. Dark Lullaby (novel) and 50 Years of Ghost Movies (nonfiction) will soon follow. (click here to learn more)

Also (so cheap, it's free!) here's the short film I directed, The Night Plays Tricks, as well as the rock video I did for my dad's band, The Ventures. The Ventures are Rock & Roll Fame of Fame inductees and are on their 50th Anniversary tour of Japan. I made the video to celebrate that milestone. (And lo and behold, this rock video has indirectly led to two more I'll be directing in early 2013.)

The Night Plays Tricks from Blue Streak Productions on Vimeo.

The Ventures Beethoven 5-O - Fiftieth Anniversary video from Blue Streak Productions on Vimeo.

Opportunities are not lost. They are just taken by others.
-- Jane Bozarth

In October, my 10-year run writing and reporting for the fantastic Horror.com came to an end. I'd been given plenty of notice but it was still sad to know it would be over. I am so grateful for all the fantastic friends I made, the wonderful connections, grand travels, and unforgettable films I saw in the course of my work there. But, as one door closes, a window opens. I look at the loss as a gain, to try new things!

I'd decided I would take a break for the rest of the year, and just focus on my screenplays and some short stories I want to write. But of course, industrious me and freelance work are never apart for long.

Without looking, asking or seeking, here's what I picked up in November & December:

  • I directed a 9-part video series for Brooke Lewis called Be You, and Be Fearless
  • Yahoo! Movies & TV doubled my "Fashion in Film" Beat
  • Fangoria granted me several writing assignments, including merchandise reviews
  • I got a job ghost writing a blog for a super-cool, edgy and funny home-improvement guru
  • I was filmed as a horror 'expert' for two upcoming Blu-ray featurettes
  • I got a call-back for a reality tv show I auditioned for on a lark

For myself, I chose to:

  • Release my books on Kindle, Nook, Palm, etc. and worked with a great graphic designer on all-new covers
  • Entered The Ventures Beethoven 5-0 video as a short film for The San Diego Surf Film Festival and got in
  • Open two stores on Etsy: One for my vintage clothing, and one for my horse-related antiques

That's just November and December…

Had a wonderful birthday in August, as always. Birthdays (mine, and my friends') and Halloween are my favorite holidays, by far.

Tuesday's Child is full of grace.
-- Traditional Nursery Rhyme

Sometimes I like a low-key birthday… not this year! I hosted a three day pub-crawl party with four of my fellow "Virgo Vixens" -- we hit The Abbey in WeHo on the first night, then Jace hosted a house party in Laurel Canyon, and lastly we took it all off at Jumbo's Clown Room in Hollywood. (Actually, I did the low-key thing too: on my actual birthday, I went sight-seeing all by myself. It was beautiful.)

Halloween was incredible, too: Many costumes, several parties. Lots of fun, and definitely my favorite season. Not sure what it will be like moving forward, without Horror.com to write for (Sept/Oct was always my "busy" time!). Since then I've been posting some of my film reviews on my LiveJournal

This would be the War & Peace of blogs if I went through each and every month, but as usual, I went to SD Comic-Con and covered it as a reporter, I traveled all over the country to film sets to conduct interviews, spoke on panels for Women in Horror, co-hosted my show Inside Horror (we wrapped season 3, and are now on hiatus), etc. Never a dull moment.

Target Audience Magazine Piece on Inside Horror (click here to read the interview with me & Elric)

Even though I have enjoyed many, many artistic and professional accomplishments in my life -- 2012 being no exception -- money doesn't drive me and I am able to make time for friends. Personal connections have always been the way I've not only found work, but where I've found my greatest contentment.

I can't possibly name everyone, but I am pleased to have met so many wonderful new people and broadened my social circle so considerably. Longtime friends have remained, and are as treasured as ever. Thanks to wonders of social networking I've happily connected with a few friends from the past, two or three of whom I haven't spoken to in over a decade. What's more, I got to see my family a number of times this year: I traveled to Seattle twice, and they came here to L.A.

This photo pretty much sums up the joyous, socially spirited times I've enjoyed in 2012. Snap was taken at the Dresden Room, an Old Hollywood landmark I've long known about, but had never been to.

It is better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven.
-- John Milton

2012 was a year-long odyssey of exploration. I was born in L.A., and I have never not lived in California. Yet, there are so many historical sites I never got around to. Not so, anymore. I went to the Marilyn Monroe Exhibit at the art deco Max Factor Building (which I've driven by 10,000 times, but never entered), I went hiking up in Griffith Park, I checked out the Chateau Marmot, and I spent two days exploring Old Pasadena all by myself (as much as I love my friends and spend time in their company, this has also been a fantastic year of solitude and contemplation.)

I began a side-business house- and pet-sitting a little bit last year, but it took off recently. Pay ranges from nil to "nice!", but as I said: it's never about the cash for me. It's about enjoying what I do and just having enough to pay my bills. Since I no longer have pets of my own, it's a real joy to care for cats, dogs, and even horses on occasion. (If you know anyone who needs a pet-sitter in 2013 and beyond, send'em my way!)

The end of the year always brings updates from those I've been missing -- not the least of which are pets I loved, and parted with. Chocolate is a rescue cat, and Faxi is an Icelandic pony I bought, enjoyed for years, and then sold. Every year, a smile's been brought to my face when I hear the latest.

Sadly, in the latest update, I learned Faxi (who was foaled in summer '78), passed away on the evening of December 13. But still, I smiled… remembering our adventures together on the beaches and riding trails of Rancho Palos Verdes. I smiled, knowing how loved and treasured he was by his next 'mom' who showered him with affection and spoiled him even more rotten than he already was.

Chocolate the cat is still alive, though he's slowing down. Here's the letter I got from Kathy, "Hi Staci, writing to give you the annual Christmas update on our dear Chocolate (Snowy.) He's an old guy now, but still funny and loving as ever. The attached photo is from today; I was in the process of setting up the messy, live Christmas tree and of course he came to check it out. He still gets two insulin shots daily and he's living well with diabetes now. He's put on weight over the past year, which is a great sign for an older kitty. He had to have a couple of teeth extracted during the summer, but having fewer teeth doesn't interfere with his appetite! When I took him to the vet a few days ago for a check-up, a blood test showed that he's got declining kidney function. Sadly, it means that his days are numbered. We will treasure every remaining moment that we have with him. We've had so many great years with this guy; we cannot begin to tell you how grateful we will be to you forever for bringing him into our lives."

I'm not saying 2012 has been all wine and roses, not by a long shot. Lots of big, big losses (a great love, steady job gone, had my share of downs). However, now that I am a completely autonomous person and free of emotional suppression, my true and innate optimism is allowed to shine and flourish. I choose to shed the pessimists and I decide with whom I spend my personal and professional time. I don't look back with regret. I look back with appreciation for the wisdom and character I've developed from those so-called negative experiences. From the amazing gifts those connections gave me. For that, I am most grateful and I only hope I can be worthy of such heart-stirring blessings as 2012 flows into 2013.


Faves of 2012 (some new; some newly discovered)

2046 (movie)
A Kubrick Odyssey (LACMA art exhibit)
A Single Man (movie)
Amour (movie)
Anti-Viral (movie)
Best of The Smiths (album)
Blunderbuss (Jack White album)
Boardwalk Empire (season 3)
Bowie 2001: Kubrick-Inspired Remix (music)
Breaking Bad (all seasons on DVD)
Café de Flore (movie)
California Deco Style & Design: 1935-1965 (LACMA exhibit)
Central Park 5 (documentary)
Chocolate wine

Conversation Piece (movie)
E.A.T. Café
Femme Fetale Group Show (Cella Gallery)
Fire: Walk With Me (David Lynch art exhibit)
Fraulein (photography book by Ellen Von Unwerth)
God Is Not Great (book by Christopher Hitchens)
Gone Girl (book by Gillian Flynn)
Hanni El Khatib (music)
Headhunters (movie)
Jack White (in concert)
Jekyll & Hyde (musical theater)
Jumbo's Clown Room (hangout)
Jumpcut Café (hangout)
Killer Joe (movie)
Kitten (in concert)
Necromance (store)
Pacé Restaurant
People Who Eat Darkness (book by Richard Lloyd Parry)
The Last Nude (book by Ellis Avery)
Design For Living (movie)

Possession (35 mm screening)
RestaVrant (in concert)
Saez (music)
Silence! (musical theater)
Smash (on TV)
Sunday School (Kitten E.P.)
Surreal Women Artists (LACMA art exhibit)
Tender (short film)
The Artist as Critic (book by Oscar Wilde)
The Dump (short film)
The Long Last Call (short film)
The Richard Burton Diaries (book)
VUM (in concert)
W.A.R. (short film)

New Website: ExcessiveNuance.com

New Etsy Stores: Memory Layne & Equine Esoterica