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.
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
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:
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
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)
Whey protein powder (vanilla, a scoop)
Water (about a cup)
Raw egg (1)
Fresh spinach (handful)
Lettuce (2 leaves)
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.
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
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
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:
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
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!
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
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
Download DARK LULLABY in any format through Smashwords or a Kindle edition through Amazon
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
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.
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 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."
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.
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)
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.
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.
Whatever made you want
to change your mind?
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.
Sweet virgin angel,
sweet love of my life,
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
It's all so clear, I
could never forget,
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,
Lady of the Lowlands" for you.
Wherever we travel
we're never apart.
Sara, oh Sara,
Beautiful lady, so
dear to my heart.
How did I meet you? I
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
You must forgive me my
Now the beach is
deserted except for some kelp
And a piece of an old
ship that lies on the shore.
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
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.)
Nuys, at Sherman Way. Ah, yes… what couple will ever forget date night spent
dodging gang-banger gunfire in the parking lot?
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"?
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
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
Stay tuned for the announcement of the premiere, and then
even more about the second video, Chain Gang.
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").
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
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
I'll keep you posted on my progress. (via Twitter,
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.
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).
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
Never mind all this. I think I'll go out and talk to a person today!
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.
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.
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
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
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-
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.)
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
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.
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
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.
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
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)
A Kubrick Odyssey (LACMA art exhibit)
A Single Man (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
Central Park 5 (documentary)
Conversation Piece (movie)
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)
Jack White (in concert)
Jekyll & Hyde (musical theater)
Jumbo's Clown Room (hangout)
Jumpcut Café (hangout)
Killer Joe (movie)
Kitten (in concert)
People Who Eat Darkness (book by Richard Lloyd Parry)
The Last Nude (book by Ellis Avery)
Design For Living (movie)