Saturday, March 30, 2019

Interview with a freakboy...(or wrapping up March)

Is March really almost over? This month has zipped by, yet the first day of March somehow feels like forever ago.  Ah, our fluid perception of time never ceases to amaze me.  I will have to ask The Doctor about such wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff in June, but more about that in the near future.

From the JLH archive
The original cover of DARK EXCURSIONS: first set.  (March 2013)

I've predominately blogged about the sixth anniversary of DARK EXCURSIONS: first set and the release of the paperback edition of VISION BENT, with a brief detour through Stepford.  So, I wasn't certain how to summarize March without sounding repetitive.  I wasn't certain, that is, until a fellow blogger requested an interview with me.  Well, I couldn't say no to him and my extremely exclusive fan club.  (slips on shades & acts aloof while sipping an Orange-Vanilla Coke)

As a perfect ending to a busy month, here is the link to the in-depth interview of this freakboy conducted by Dave for his always entertaining blog My Gay Opinion...

Thank you for reading or listening to the interview and for all the support over the last six years!  

VISION BENT goes to the library.  (March 2019)

Also, a huge thanks to Dave for popping my interview cherry.  Yes, it was good for me, but he probably ruined my future interviews.  Sure, chatting with Graham Norton or John Oliver would be fun, but it just wouldn't be the same penetrating experience I had on MGO.  

Freak Out, 

P.S.  Here is a lovely photo of VISION BENT, with DARK EXCURSIONS sneaking into the shot, that I received from a reader in Paris, France! 
Yes, my European Invasion continues! 

Thursday, March 21, 2019

freakboy on film: THE STEPFORD WIVES (1975)

"There'll be somebody with my name, and she'll cook and clean like crazy, but she won't take pictures, and she won't be me!"  - Joanna Eberhart 

Screenplay by William Goldman 
Directed by Bryan Forbes 

We would like to welcome newcomers Walter Eberhart (lawyer by day; creep by night & day), his lovely wife Joanna (housewife by day; avid shutterbug anytime) and their daughters Kim and Amy to the idyllic town of Stepford.

Joanna Eberhart - Avid Shutterbug...for at least four more months.

Ah, Stepford.  Where the schools are good.  Where taxes are low.  Where the air is clean.  Where husbands can join the omnipresent Men's Association.  Where wives can explore their own interests for about four months.  At that time, they will be (SPOILER ALERT) replaced by mindless automatons, whose only interests are keeping the house clean, the kids tidy and the men satisfied in every way possible.  

Random Thought:  It was the swingin' 70's, so were there Stepford key parties or did the essential sameness of the robot wives render such sexual exploration pointless?

I could go on about the plot, which is essentially similar in structure to ROSEMARY'S BABY, but that's not a surprise since both films are based on novels by Ira Levin.  Husband and wife move somewhere new, where nefarious goings-on occur behind wife's back.  Wife is ultimately sold out by ultimately gross husband for purely selfish reasons.  Not that I'm complaining.  You know Rosemary's Baby is my favorite film and I also enjoy this  one a lot.

I could go on about the acting, especially Katharine Ross as Joanna.  With one of the most expressive set of eyes to grace the screen, she imbues Joanna with a strong sense of self.  Paula Prentiss adds a nice comic touch as Bobbie Markowe, Joanna's doomed best friend.  Plus, I must give props to all the women who portrayed the robotic wives. It must have been incredibly difficult to give a well-rounded performance within essentially one-note characters and not slide into utter camp. 

Joanna & Bobbie attend a garden party from hell. 
 Is there really any other kind? 

What I want to go on about is something that really caught my mind with this viewing.  Who all knows what is going on, when do they learn the truth and how deep does the conspiracy run?  

In an early ominous exchange between Walter and his neighbor, it seems that Walter knew something before he decided to move his family to Stepford.  How much did he know?  Later, after officially joining the Men's Association, Joanna finds Walter drunk and obviously upset by something.  Did he not fully realize until that night the extreme circumstances he agreed to?  Maybe he initially thought Joanna would be transformed into the perfect 1950's housewife through drugs (see the made-for-TV sequel REVENGE OF THE STEPFORD WIVES - 1980) or maybe a chip in the brain (see the disappointing 2004 remake), but was unsettled by the finality of the robotic replacement.  Not that this stops him from moving forward with his vile decision.

Then there are the other men in Stepford.  Does every man know what's going on with the wives?  Does the Men's Association use violence to keep the single men in line?  The answers might be found in the grocery store employee's suspicious behavior after a little fender-bender sends one Stepford wife to the "hospital."  He keeps telling anyone who will listen that the car accident wasn't his fault, as if he fears the Men's Association will punish him for allowing one of their robots to be damaged. 

The Stepford Wives go shopping. 

Not-So-Random Thought:  The Men's Association will probably track down and "take care of" the psychiatrist Joanna sees near the end of the film.

Then what about the children?  Obviously, they must be aware of something being wrong when their mothers suddenly change.  Are the boys told the truth when they reach a certain age?  Will the girls be replaced by robots at 18 so they can snag a jerk husband?  Yet, if the girls are replaced too soon, there would be no new children.  Maybe the answers can be found in THE STEPFORD CHILDREN - 1987.  I don't recall enough about this made-for-TV sequel to say for certain. 

What about the black family who moves to Stepford at the end of the film?  From what very little screen time they receive, it appears the wife has no patience for nonsense.  Does this mean she won't be as easily duped by the Men's Association?  On the other hand, maybe the newcomer will make an easier target because she won't suspect anything unusual.  She may already assume that white suburban housewives behave as if Betty Crocker is their God and Mr. Clean is their personal savior. 

Last, but not least, what about the lady who writes the notes on newcomers for the newspaper?  She is older and apparently not a robot, or is she?  If she is a robot, is she only programmed to gather information about new arrivals and is she then malfunctioning when she spills interesting tidbits about Stepford's Women's Lib history?  If she's not a robot, then how much does she know about the wives?  I don't know.  This lady is an anomaly, which proves there really is something strange happening in the town of Stepford.  

Not-So-Random Thought:  What if the older lady is actually the mastermind behind replacing the wives?  This might be where the idea of the brilliant twist from the 2004 remake, and the ONLY good thing about it, originated.

Guess even androids experience eye issues.

Maybe a remake as a limited event series could fully explore these topics, but maybe it's best left for the viewers to ponder.  Maybe I sometimes think too much when watching films. 

So, sit back, relax, grab some Ring Dings and scotch, and enjoy The Stepford Wives.

Freak Out, 

P.S.  It would be remiss of me to not mention THE STEPFORD HUSBANDS - 1996, a made-for-TV sequel starring Michael Ontkean.  
(an autobiographical book of half-blind poems by John L. Harmon) 

Six Years of DARK EXCURSIONS: first set - quote (19 of 21)

A hollowed out husk of the man he has grown to love is all he can see, causing guilt to pour out of him.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Backseat Writer

We now take you to a dramatic scene that would shape a young freakboy's familial interactions for decades to come.

The location - An expansive living room of a beautiful home nestled on the outskirts of a scenic Colorado town 

NON-RELATIVE: What do you want to be when you grow up? 

YOUNG FREAKBOY (around 14 years of age): An author. 

RELATIVE (in a horrified screech): You can't do that! 

~end scene~

Also, end of this freakboy bringing up his writing or any creative project around certain family members.  Even now, years later, I just can't bring myself to broach the topic.

I was with most of my immediate family on Sunday.  It was a nice dinner and a chance to see a niece before her, her husband and their unborn son move to Florida.  I couldn't bring myself to mention my recent achievement of VISION BENT and I had the opportunity.  A different niece was talking about poetry, but I bit my tongue.  I had a chance to at least mention this blog because she talked about preferring unrealistic writing to the kind that requires research.  Still, Uncle Freakboy remained mute.  Ok then, let us never refer to myself in that way again.

Yes, I know that I shouldn't allow one moment from forever ago to haunt and control me.  Perhaps it's not strictly that one moment.  History has shown me how whatever I may accomplish will never be good enough.  Instead of being happy that I defied my perceived disability and published VISION BENT, the conversation would turn to the sordid topic of coin, effectively ruining my accomplishment.  Then, if my creative endeavor was read, the screeching would be unstoppable, at least legally.  Before you give the allegedly simple act of telling the screecher to shut-up, the screeching wouldn't really end, it would just be transferred.  My sister Margaret would then receive the screeching, as our mom once did.  Screeching by proxy.  So, it's just easier not to.  

Sure, my nieces and nephew have grown up not really knowing me.  Without my creative side, I am nothing.  An empty carton.  An erased chalkboard.  A flushed toilet.  Maybe they see me as their half-blind, loser uncle who only talks about television and films.  Even those topics are censored.  A discussion of my love of John Waters would be most unwelcome and very awkward.  I dare not mention Rosemary's Baby being my favorite film or risk receiving unsolicited religious screeching.  Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating the latter, but soul-saving  pamphlets could arrive in my mail.  At least my half-blind eyes wouldn't be able to read them.

I don't  know.  Maybe this blog, along with my books, are my safe space.  My exotic getaway from everyday life.  My real home.  Perhaps I don't want to voluntarily put out the welcome mat.  If my nieces and nephew stumble upon my online home, either by accident or some other relative mentioning it, then they are most welcome to visit my mindscape and learn all about their authentically freaky and multi-layered Uncle John. 

Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words. 

Side note...I'm typing this while riding in the backseat on the way home from the aforementioned family dinner, but I will probably not post it until Monday.  I'm not sure I'll try to ride & write again.  The sensation makes me feel a bit queasy...or maybe it's just family dinners.

Freak out, 

P.S.  The first reader of the VISION BENT paperback resides in St. Ives, Cornwall, England!  Yeah, baby, I'm an internationally known indie author!  ;)

Six Years of DARK EXCURSIONS: first set - quote (10 of 21)

Picking up the glass, he swirls the liquid around and inhales deeply. "Is this the solution to my problems or is God?"

Monday, March 4, 2019

Paperbacking Vision Bent

We now take a break from celebrating the sixth anniversary of my first e-book (by quoting each chapter) to celebrate my latest book! 

A paperback of VISION BENT (half-blind poems) has officially been available since March 1st.  Unofficially, the book has been available since February 22nd because I accidentally published it on the 21st. 

I was pretty much ready when either my ring finger or pinky brushed the "Publish" button as I zoomed in my tablet's screen with my thumb and pointy finger.  I had not ordered a proof copy, and I had to wait until Amazon approved VISION BENT to do anything else.  Thankfully, that only took 24 hours, but then I had to decide to either unpublish or to move forward by ordering a copy. 

I didn't want to start from scratch, so I kept my mouth mostly shut and placed my order.  Then I had to wait, which is my favorite pastime.  One week of agonizing over what my book might look like while worrying someone might order it before I was ready.  It's weird to be happy about no one purchasing my book.

My copy arrived a day earlier than scheduled and I held my breath while opening the padded envelope.  (insert suspense music here)  I could see, through my Mad Scientist Glasses, that I loved everything about how the VISION BENT paperback looked.  I also enjoyed how the cover felt under my fingertips, but I was disappointed over the lack of smell.  It must have something to do with how  Amazon prints books.  Guess they need to market a "new book" scent for paperbacks. 

A half-blind freakboy & his book
So, on March 1st, I posted, tweeted and whatevered about my latest book!  I'm very satisfied with my accomplishment.  VISION BENT has shown me how my half-blind eyes won't stop me from writing, putting together and releasing an e-book and a book.

Thank you to any readers, both digital & physical, for finding life within my words.  

Freak Out, 

P.S.  Much like the paperback, the VISION BENT trailer has been live for awhile.  I didn't want to say much about the video until the paperback was officially available.