Author Archives: JT
Oh, Fright Night, how I love this movie. Chris Sarandon is a spectacular vampire, and William Ragsdale was great as Charley Brewster. But truly, Roddy McDowall made this film. Peter Vincent is as great a character as there ever was, a perfect tribute to the local horror movie hosts of the day. But this series isn’t about the vampire hunters—it’s about the vampires, and so Sarandon gets a card, while Vincent has to sit on the sidelines.
Unfortunately, the sequel did little to enhance the original, though both Ragsdale and McDowall returned. Instead of Sarandon’s Jerry Dandridge, Charley and Peter had to battle the vampire’s sister, Regine Dandridge.
McDowall was interested in a third installment, and arranged a meeting between original director Tom Holland and Carolco Pictures chairman Jose Menendez. Before that meeting happened, however, Menendez and his wife were tragically murdered by their sons Lyle and Erik.
Fright Night saw new life in 2011, with Colin Farrell taking on the role of Jerry Dandridge in the DreamWorks Pictures reboot. Despite being played by David Tennant, Peter Vincent character was not at all cool.
Fright Night 2: New Blood was a straight-to-video release in 2013, but by all accounts it would be a stretch to call it a sequel. The movie does not make reference to the 2011 film at all, and none of the actors from that film reprise their roles. The vampire is Gerri Dandridge, played by Jaime Murray. I have never seen the movie (and probably never will).
Writing Fantastic Fiction
by Jennifer Joline Anderson
There are countless books about writing on the market today. Each book addresses the subject in a slightly different way, but all ask the same general question: “How do you write a good story that keeps readers interested?” Jennifer Joline Anderson’s Writing Fantastic Fiction is no different in the question, but approaches it from a middle school grade level. This short book, only five chapters and 56 pages, offers simple suggestions to get your story started and develop an interesting plot, whether the aspiring author is shooting for a novel-length work or a short story.
Information boxes scattered throughout the book offer advice and examples of successful, published authors, new and old. Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe, and Veronica Roth are a few of the authors featured. Writing Fantastic Fiction explains the differences in points of view, describes how to storyboard, and even advises how to find ideas for stories. It is a good starting place for a young person who wants to try his hand at writing, and can point them in the right direction as they begin.
Writing Fantastic Fiction is geared toward grades six through eight, but even older students and adults that are testing the waters may find some gems in this volume.
I failed to check the MLB news yesterday before posting about the 2015 TWJ cards wrap-up. Well, let’s change some numbers. Instead of 125 base “revamped” cards, how about 126? This card is a special super-duper-short-unprinted card, added after the regular set was finalized, but it is even more widely available that most of the cards because it is posted both here and on TWJ cards on tumblr. How is that for an oxymoron?
One of the best hitters of his generation was given a chance to show his stuff on the mound. Ichiro Suzuki, the Japanese import that took America by storm fifteen years ago, pitched the eighth inning of yesterday’s Marlins game, giving up two doubles and one earned run.
I just had to make a card to commemorate the event, and I hope Topps follows suit next year, even if it is super-duper-short-printed.
I hope Ichiro has a little left in the tank. The free agent is only 65 hits shy of the magical 3000, but is there a team willing to give him a semi-regular job to reach that milestone?
If I had my druthers, I would love to see Ichiro in Cincinnati’s left field spot, occasionally spelling the bullpen for an inning during blowouts. Because 2016 promises to be another looooooong season for Reds fans.
It was difficult to track down information on the release of this song. “My Son, The Vampire” was included in an introductory segment of a rereleased version of the horror comedy film Mother Riley Meets the Vampire in 1963, but I do not believe it was made available to the public for purchase until 1964. The singer, Allan Sherman, is best known for the campfire ditty, “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah (A Letter From Camp).” Want to get that song unstuck from your head now? Hit play on the video below for “My Son, The Vampire!”
The 2015 regular season is in the books, but the narrative is far from over. Clayton Kershaw struck out 300 batters, the first time a pitcher has reached that mark since 2002. Another cheater reached the 500-home run mark. And Max Scherzer pitched two no-hitters this year; the last pitcher who did that in the regular season was Nolan Ryan in 1973.
The National League Central is sending three teams to the postseason, but the Reds will be watching from home. Johnny Cueto, traded to the Royals in July, will attempt to put Kansas City over the top after the team fell to the Giants last year. The upstart Houston Astros, powered by Dallas Keuchel, will try to derail that plan. There are only two teams in the playoffs that I despise, so I fully expect a Yankees/Cardinals World Series this year.
I will post a few more highlights cards for the World Series winners and award winners as they are announced, but the regular season cards are finished. 125 “revamped” cards, 13 “highlights” so far, and 18 All-Star cards. Prior to the “revamped” design, 65 cards were posted, along with ten Will Ferrell cards plus four tribute cards to legendary players who have passed away. Add to that 200 “preseason” cards, and I would say 2015 was a busy year for TWJ cards.
You can see all the cards at TWJ cards on tumblr. Plans are already underway for an even better set in 2016.
A vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost rent a house together. It’s not the beginning of a corny joke; it’s the premise of the television series Being Human, which aired in Britain beginning in 2008. The vampire, John Mitchell, was portrayed by Aidan Turner for the first three seasons. The character was over one hundred years old, but appeared to be in his twenties by human reasoning.
In 2011, a North American version of Being Human began airing on SyFy in the USA and on Space in Canada. The role of the vampire in this version, renamed Aidan Waite, was Sam Witwer, who previously appeared on Smallville as Davis Bloome (an interpretation of Doomsday). Incidentally, Sam Huntington, who plays the werewolf character, also has a Superman connection; he played Jimmy Olsen in 2006’s Superman Returns.
I do not remember The Monster Squad from my childhood, and oh how I regret my ignorance of this movie until just a few years ago. I appreciate the performances and the story, and know I would have adored this movie when I was younger. Branded in the 80s published a fantastic series of articles and custom trading cards last year, and it is fun to read about how much others loved the film. Duncan Regehr’s portrayal of Dracula is a wonderful tribute to the character, earning him a place in the Vampire Legends set.
Little Miss and Mr. Me Me Me series
by Dan Zevin
Three Rivers Press, 2015
32 pages each
Growing up, I always looked forward to the Scholastic book order forms, and I would beg my mom to order more Mr. Men/Little Miss books. I loved those short little stories and simple illustrations, and the morals and manners they slyly taught were beneficial. They have been around for more than four decades, and have taught countless kids the proper way to act.
Now, there is a series for adults who did not experience the originals. The parody series, Little Miss and Mr. Me Me Me, features annoying adults that don’t have it all together, though they think they do. The first four books in the series and Mr. Selfie, Little Miss Basic, Mr. Humblebrag, and Little Miss Overshare. Four more books are scheduled for publication in March, 2016. I guarantee you know some of these people. Hopefully you, yourself, are not found in these pages.
These are books for a grown-up audience. There is no foul language, but some of the topics are risque and not appropriate for younger readers. After reading them, you may want to share with your ridiculous friends who emulate these very attributes, hoping they get the hint. But they probably won’t.
Nearly a decade before Dracula was released, German expressionist director F.W. Murnau unleashed Nosferatu. Starring Max Schreck as a demented-looking creature of the night—which was more in line with Bram Stoker‘s imagery than Universal’s Dracula—the film was an unauthorized adaptation of the novel. When Stoker’s heirs took Murnau to court, it was ordered that all copies of the film be destroyed. Fortunately, some survived, and it is now a cult classic among horror freaks.
In 2000, a fictionalized account of the making of Nosferatu was released under the title Shadow of the Vampire, starring Willem Dafoe as Max Schreck and John Malkovich as F.W. Murnau. A brilliant film in its own right, Shadow of the Vampire is too often overlooked when one considers the great horror movies featuring the ghastly monsters.
Baseball Stadiums 2016 Calendar
published by TF Publishing, 2015
Now that October has arrived, it is time to admit that Christmas is just around the corner. Yes, we have to get through Halloween and Thanksgiving first, but it is never too soon to start thinking about what gifts you will be buying for others. One small gift that is timeless is the calendar. Whether you go with the daily boxed variety, or the monthly hang-on-the-wall calendar, everyone needs to know what day it is at some point.
Perfect Timing publishes a wide variety of calendars, including this very nice Baseball Stadiums 2016 Calendar. Twelve ballparks are featured, including such vital statistics as home team, opening date, dimensions, capacity, and playing surface. The twelve parks are Busch (St. Louis), AT&T (San Francisco), Fenway (Boston), Citi (New York Mets), PNC (Pittsburgh), Great American (Cincinnati), Yankee (New York Yankees), Wrigley (Chicago Cubs), Chase (Arizona), Comerica (Detroit), Rogers (Toronto), and Dodger (Los Angeles). The calendar measures 11.8×23.4 when hung on the wall, showing the stadium of the month; the calendar portion has plenty of room to jot down appointment and meeting reminders in the blocks.
When Dracula was released in 1931, Variety wrote, “It is difficult to think of anybody who could quite match the performance in the vampire part of Bela Lugosi, even to the faint flavor of foreign speech that fits so neatly.” Lugosi’s performance has been the standard by which all other vampiric actors have been judged.
Tod Browning’s Dracula was filmed during the day; at night, the costumes and sets were being used to film a Spanish-language version of the film with Carlos Villarias in the role of Conde Dracula. This version was long though to be lost, but in the 1970s it was discovered and restored, and is often included as a bonus feature on releases of the English-language version.
A third, silent, version of Dracula was released in 1931 to theaters that had not yet been wired for sound.
William Shakespeare’s Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge: Star Wars Part the Third by Ian Doescher (2015)
William Shakespeare’s Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge: Star Wars Part the Third
by Ian Doescher
Quirk Books, 2015
Ian Doescher’s adaptation of Star Wars’ episodes IV through VI into the Victorian language of William Shakespeare was a brilliant idea, and the execution was tremendous. When it came to the prequels, however, Doescher suffered from inferior source materials. Episodes I and II simply did not match the originals in quality, and the adaptations, while there were some clever twists, were not as enjoyable as the first three. Fortunately, The Revenge of the Sith was a return to form for Lucas and, subsequently, for Doescher.
William Shakespeare’s Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge follows the events of the movie, replacing modern language with that of Shakespeare’s day and utilizing such devices as narration from “Rumor.” Doescher continues to employ rhyming quatrains for the lovers, Padme and Anakin, though the rhymes are imperfect as Anakin’s path to the dark side separates him from Padme’s love. Mention must be made of Nicolas Delort’s illustrations throughout the series, a perfect mixture of the futuristic looks of Star Wars with a touch of traditional English garb and culture.
Doescher has brought to fruition a fantastic idea, and this reviewer hopes he is able to continue this series with the new Star Wars films that begin releasing later this year.
Last year, we featured “Horror Fun Cards” each day during the month of October (and those will be reposted at TWJ fun cards on tumblr beginning Thursday). What does The Writer’s Journey have in store for 2015? A brand new original series called “Vampire Legends”! Be sure to come back Thursday and every day during the month of October to see all 51 “Vampire Legends” cards!
- 10 Horror Films for Kids [Rare Horror]
- The Witching Season Debuts First Episode – ‘Killer on the Loose’ [Horror Society]
- 21 Actual Analogies Used By High School Students in English Essays [tickld]
- Some guitarists’ solo faces look like they’ve just realised they’re holding giant slug creatures [Slug Solos]
- The Punk Rock Doc [Springfield Punx]
- When “old” stopped meaning “valuable” [Night Owl Cards]
- First round of voting for card no. 1 in 2016 Topps Baseball [Topps] (JT sez: I’m stumping for Ichiro in recognition of his fine career.)
- Super Seventies [The Topps Archives]
My book Ironology 2015: The Iron Writer Challenge is now available on Amazon! Ok, it’s not technically “my” book. It’s an anthology of flash fiction, and one of my pieces, entitled “Red & White Stripes,” is included in it. So buy this book featuring my story (and about sixty others)!
Essential Horror Movies
by Michael Mallory
Universe Publishing, 2015
This is the time of the year that books about horror movies get more attention, with the leaves turning and the pumpkin spice flavoring everything and the greatest holiday of all right around the corner. Michael Mallory’s Essential Horror Movies looks like the book to get this year, measuring 9.4 x 12.4 and full of bloody details about the most important horror films in the world, from the Universal classics Dracula and Frankenstein to the more recent Scream and Friday The 13th. Mallory delivers a brief synopsis of each film or series, making mention of remakes and reboots, and reproducing iconic scenes from the silver screen.
Mallory also includes some interesting sidelines, spotlighting Japanese horror, the makeup artists, and made-for-television horror films. He will remind you of movies you had forgotten, that you need to watch again, and that you never knew existed. He wraps up with an article about the future of the genre, and a list of fifty additional films that all horror buffs should check out. Surprisingly, Creature From the Black Lagoon did not receive an entry into the “essential” or the “additional.” Aside from that, there is little to complain about in this impressive volume.
Concert review: Queensrÿche and Scorpions (September 22, 2015 @ Lifestyle Communities Pavilion, Columbus OH)
Two classic hard rock bands have joined forces on tour and stopped in Columbus, Ohio’s Lifestyle Communities Pavilion Tuesday night.
Queensrÿche, with new singer Todd La Torre, opened up for Germany’s Scorpions for a massive crowd. La Torre has been with the band since 2012, but they are just now preparing the first studio release featuring his vocal abilities. In concert, La Torre sounds great when he isn’t trying to imitate Geoff Tate’s distinct sound. He struggled with “Jet City Woman” and parts of “Silent Lucidity,” but regained his command of the microphone for the new song, “Arrow of Time,” and sounded strong on the classics, “Eyes of a Stranger” and “Empire.” It will be interesting to see how the new record is received. La Torre’s voice is powerful, but lacks the range of Tate. The rest of the band sounded fantastic, and lead guitarist Michael Wilton looked like he was having a blast. Queensrÿche is rounded out with Parker Lundgren on guitar, Eddie Jackson on bass, and Scott Rockenfield on drums. They played a solid 9-song, 45-minute set.
Setlist for Queensrÿche:
The Needle Lies
Walk in the Shadows
Jet City Woman
Arrow of Time
Eyes of a Stranger
Queen of the Reich
The main event was the Scorpions, who blazed through a selection of vintage and newer songs for over an hour and a half. Klaus Meine was at the top of his game, belting out timeless songs like “The Zoo” and “Blackout,” while Rudolf Schenker pranced around the stage thrusting his Flying V guitar into the air.
Scorpions are celebrating their fiftieth year as a band, though Schenker is the only member who has been at it the entire time; Meine joined up in 1969, three years before the first studio album was released. The new material is remarkable and fits in perfectly with the band’s most enduring songs. Guitarist Matthias Jabs sounded phenomenal, and truly appeared to be enjoying the spotlight during his solo performances.
The group also includes Paweł Mąciwoda on bass and James Kottak on drums. Kottak’s drumset was raised high above the band, so his animated style was never hidden from the audience. The Scorpions never disappoint when performing live, always playing with energy and enthusiasm and encouraging crowd participation. This is a band that every rock fan needs to see live at least once. I have been fortunate enough to see them three times, and they sound better every time.
Setlist for the Scorpions:
Going Out with a Bang
Make It Real
Coast to Coast
Top of the Bill / Steamrock Fever / Speedy’s Coming / Catch Your Train (70’s medley)
We Built This House
Always Somewhere / Eye of the Storm / Send Me an Angel (acoustic medley)
Wind of Change
Rock ‘n’ Roll Band
In the Line of Fire
Kottak Attack (drum solo)
No One Like You
Big City Nights
Still Loving You
Rock You Like a Hurricane
(May 12, 1925 – September 22, 2015)
The man known as much for his sayings as his abilities on the ballfield, the legendary Yogi Berra has passed away at the age of 90. One of the greatest catchers in the history of the game, he is famous for many sayings, most notably, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” But before you quote Berra, keep in mind that he also said, “I really didn’t say everything I said.”
It has been too long since I posted an Ultimate Mixtape tracklist. I intended to do these once a month, but it’s more work than you would imagine. I like to be thorough and accurate, so I will go back and actually listen to each album, at least the first few seconds of each song, to make sure that I picked the right song for that album. Of course, you can disagree with my picks, this is entirely subjective…but to be honest with myself, I have to revisit the material.
I have been working on Twisted Sister for a while now. The problem is not the studio albums; those were easy. But the Club Daze records and the live releases were not as familiar to me; it took some time to listen to them, and then listen again, and try to find good material for the Ultimate Mixtape. In the end, I skipped over a couple of the live albums. I’ve said in the past that I’m not a huge fan of concert recordings, so it wasn’t too painful to say no to Astoria and Wacken. Alright, let’s get down to it. But first, the rules:
- Every studio album must be represented by one and only one song.
- That song does not have to be an official “single” released by the band to promote said album.
- Compilation albums can be included, but only songs that are new, previously unreleased, or remixed songs from prior albums are eligible for the list.
- Live albums are a great way to sneak additional songs into the mix. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a good live version of “I Wanna Rock.”
JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Twisted Sister edition
- “Bad Boys (of Rock ‘n’ Roll)” (Under The Blade, 1982)
- “I Am (I’m Me)” (You Can’t Stop Rock `N’ Roll, 1983)
- “We’re Not Gonna Take It” (Stay Hungry, 1984)
- “Be Chrool to Your Scuel” (Come Out And Play, 1985)
- “Love is for Suckers” (Love Is For Suckers, 1987)
- “Let the Good Times Roll/Feel So Fine (live)” (Big Hits & Nasty Cuts, 1992)
- “What You Don’t Know (Sure Can Hurt You)” (Live At Hammersmith, 1994)
- “I’ll Never Grow Up Now!” (Club Daze Volume 1: The Studio Sessions, 1999)
- “Under The Blade” (Club Daze Volume 2: Live in the Bars, 2001)
- “Heroes are Hard to Find” (Still Hungry, 2004)
- “O Come All Ye Faithful” (A Twisted Christmas, 2006)
As with other Ultimate Mixtapes, I have to throw in some bonus tracks for the band members’ other projects…
- The Dictators, “Sleeping With The TV On” (Manifest Destiny, 1977)
- Widowmaker, “The Lonely Ones” (Blood and Bullets, 1992)
- Dee Snider, “Our Voice Will Be Heard” (Never Let the B******* Wear You Down, 2000)
- Eddie Ojeda, “Living Free” (Axes 2 Axes, 2005)
- Snider, George Lynch, Bob Kulick, Jeff Pilson, and Jason Bonham, “Wasted Years” (Numbers From The Beast: An All-Star Tribute To Iron Maiden, 2005)
- Desperado, “Hang ’em High” (Ace, 2006)
- Adrenaline Mob, “Dearly Departed” (Men of Honor, 2014)
There you have it. How does your Twisted Sister Ultimate Mixtape differ?
Baseball Immortal: Derek Jeter
by Danny Peary
Page Street Publishing, 2015
He was one of the most humble, yet most exciting players to watch over the past couple of decades. New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter redefined what a player could do under the pressure—and despite the constant attention—of the media in the Big Apple. Everything he accomplished was handled with poise and character, and he retired as one of the most respected players in the game. Looking through the pages of quotes by Jeter, and by others about Jeter, a reader can get a sense of what a special player he was going all the way back to high school.
Danny Peary’s collection of quotes does not bring much to light that was not already known. Despite being a highly private person, Jeter’s exploits on the field were widely reported. However, bringing all the information together into one place is an invaluable resource to fans of #2. Jeter’s family members, teammates, coaches, and opponents are all quoted in this extensive volume. Perhaps the best line comes from former Tampa Bay skipper Joe Maddon, who said, “They created the Hall of Fame for players like him. Never a doubt. Totally earned. He may be the first 100 percenter.”
Derek Jeter fans will treasure this book about one of the most loved figures in recent Yankees history.