DNA Episode 027 – Horror Hosts with Michael Monahan

220px-ghoulardi

In this episode, Rob and Don sit down with Michael Monahan, author and co-producer of the documentary American Scary, to talk about Horror Hosts. We delve into the origins of the Horror Host phenomena from its early days with Vampira to the megahit Ghoulardi and the modern incarnations which still stalk the airwaves. All this, and why Bob Wilkins is a name every scifi fan should know, is coming to you in this, the 27th episode of the Department Affairs!

Don’t know what Horror Hosts are? Watch the short video below for a quick primer of a few of the more famous ones in action.

 

4 Things Science Fiction Needs to Bring Back | Cracked.com

A truly great list that I agree with 100%!

It’s tempting to look around at today’s literary scene, with its Twilight and its Fifty Shades of Grey, and wonder if we shouldn’t just flush the whole goddamn concept of written language down the toilet — maybe start again with some sort of hybrid colorwheel/odor system for communicating thoughts. Strangely, the one genre thriving in the swamp of modern literature seems to be science fiction. It’s kind of appropriate, actually: All of our crazy high technology has made publishing and distributing books about crazy high technology much more approachable and widespread than ever. But even the best works could stand to learn a little something from the past, so here are a few things that I miss about old science fiction, and would like to see come back.

via 4 Things Science Fiction Needs to Bring Back | Cracked.com.

Entertainment Industry Joke

I heard the following joke on the Dead Robots’ Society podcast today, and though I’d share. This joke will only make sense if you understand the entertainment industry.

 

A writer and a producer are stranded in the desert together, crawling their way across the sand.

Then suddenly, the writer looks ahead and sees an oasis shimmering before him!

Using what strength he has, the writer gets to his feet, runs to the oasis and finds it’s real!

Kneeling down next to the oasis, he desperately begins gulping down handfuls of water. But, as he’s doing so, he hears a splashing sound, and looks over to see the producer has unzipped and is now peeing in the oasis!

“What are you doing?!?” Cries the writer in horror.

The producer smiles at him and says confidently “Making it better.”

Psychologists Discover How People Subconsciously Become Their Favorite Fictional Characters – Medical Daily

Behold! The power of reading!

Psychologists have discovered that while reading a book or story, people are prone to subconsciously adopt their behavior, thoughts, beliefs and internal responses to that of fictional characters as if they were their own.

Experts have dubbed this subconscious phenomenon ‘experience-taking,’ where people actually change their own behaviors and thoughts to match those of a fictional character that they can identify with.

Researcher from the Ohio State University conducted a series of six different experiments on about 500 participants, reporting in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, found that in the right situations, ‘experience-taking,’ may lead to temporary real world changes in the lives of readers.

via Psychologists Discover How People Subconsciously Become Their Favorite Fictional Characters – Medical Daily.

‘Spider-Man’ flashback: Nicholas Hammond, reeling in the years

I never got to watch the live action American Spider-Man TV series when I was a kid because I didn’t know it was on when it aired, but I did watch the “movies” (2 part episodes) that aired endlessly on Channel 43 Cleveland on Saturday afternoons during my childhood. When I was ten I used to tie a string to a pen, stick both up my sleve, and then pretend it was a web shooter by swinging my arm around and letting the pen and string fly!

WOOSH! Take that bad guys!

I always found Nicholas Hammond to be a little bland as Peter Parker, and I regretted there not being more actual Spider-Man bad guys (read: any supervillians at all!), but if I remember he did get to fight ninjas, so that almost counted. Still, this interview with Nicholas looking back on his time as TV’s Spider-Man was a fun nostalgic read, and somewhat informative. I had no idea that Spider-Man was so popular among African Americans, or that the suit actor/stuntman thought that Spidy should move like an actual spider.

To see what he’s talking about, watch the clip below. One other interesting thing I noticed is that the bad guys are using Asian-style martial arts. While this might not seem odd to people now (everyone in TV seems to know Kung Fu nowadays) this was before Hollywood as a collective decided that martial arts were cooler than street/fist fighting. It wasn’t until Buffy in the 90’s that I noticed martial arts creeping into TV fights in a big way, because before then the fights were all two-fisted boxing matches and tackles. Watch movies and TV series pre-1990 to see what I mean.

Spidey was ahead of his day in many ways!

And for those with time to kill, here’s the whole pilot movie up on Youtube:

Augmented Reality on track to becoming reality.

I’ve been expecting this for a while. The fact Google is backing this project makes it seem like it will be a certainty, and be soon. First our smartphones will sync with our AR glasses to do this, and then eventually it will be AR contact lenses (they already have these in the prototype stage) and we’ll be immensed in a constant dual reality as part of our daily lives.

Not sure if this will be good or bad, but it will be as ubiquitous as the iPhone within five years, tops.

Dean Wesley Smith » The Secret of Indie Publishing

A must read for anyone who wants to be an independent/self publisher getting into the eBook market. (Especially those who want to make money at it!)

I have heard over and over and over from indie publishers how their sales are not what they expected, or how they hope to promote their way to a big seller on their one book. Up to now I have mostly just bit my lip and kept my mouth shut

.It just doesn’t work with one or two or even five stories up. Or at least it doesn’t work that way unless you are fantastically lucky and wrote a great book on the exact right topic at the exact right time. I hate planning on being lucky to make it. I want to plan on hard work and quality writing.

But at the same time, do I expect every indie publisher to even think about doing what I suggested in #9 and sell books to indie bookstores? Of course not. That’s far more work and business knowledge for most indie publishers to handle.

So how can an indie publisher plan on making a living, paying the bills, without “luck” coming into play and without sending out thousands of flyers as I suggested last chapter?

Simple, actually. You have to write more.

via Dean Wesley Smith » Think Like A Publisher #9.5… The Secret of Indie Publishing.

Scriptwriting R US. (errr…ME!)

Every Autumn my college puts out a call for new course ideas for the arts department, with the intent that these course will be taught the following September if there’s enough interest by students. I tossed my hat in the ring this time, and the results were just released!

I’m the new course designer (and presumed teacher) of Scriptwriting for Mixed Media (working title) at Fanshawe College in Fall 2012.

It’s going to be interesting, but I’m really looking forward to it. Thanks to my time spent doing Audio Drama I’ve gotten to think a lot about scriptwriting over the past five years, and I look forward to sharing some of my thoughts and ideas with students next September. The fun part is that I’m not going to just do audio and video scripts, but Comic Book scripts as well.  (Hence the “mixed media” portion of the title.)

All I can say is- Celtx is going to be a godsend! (Like it wasn’t already! Thanks Jack!)

Rob

The Future of Self-Publishing: Co-ops

“That which comes together must break apart- that which breaks apart must come together.” – Old Chinese Proverb

Today, I was talking to one of my co-workers about the future of the music industry and he was discussing how 100 years ago a musician needed to be a part of a large group to produce music. Yes, in theory one man with an instrument could produce music, but the mass-media form of music at the time was an orchestra that people physically went to see. That required not just musicians, but composers, backers, conductors, producers and even marketers- in other words, a lot of people.

Now, on hundred years later, a single person with a smartphone app can perform almost all of those functions by themselves, and distribution through the internet is also equally easy. He likened it to an inverted pyramid, where everything slowly came together over time and the power became concentrated into a single person with a single device. But then, our conversation led to the logical question- what’s next?

My answer- the pyramid will start to widen again and power of artists will return to the group over the individual.

I know a lot of people, especially in the ebook publishing world (to shift to book publishing), might strongly disagree with this statement, especially since we’re just being set free! We’re just throwing off the shackles of the traditional publishing industry, and every day there’s a new story about an individual self published author making a living or making it big from ebooks.

But therein lies the problem. Where people smell money and opportunity, that’s where they will go, and they will go in droves. As I talked about in my previous post, the rise of ebook readers doesn’t just mean the opening of a new market- it means the opening of the field for even more competition. And while, as with anything artistic, the cream will rise to the top, the competition at all levels of the industry is about to become fierce.

The “demise” of traditional publishers doesn’t mean just opportunity for authors, it also means the loss of at least three functions they played- gatekeeper, marketer, and editor. All three of these functions are incredibly important for artists and consumers, and they have now been foisted onto the artists themselves.

So, what we will have is a situation where anyone can publish anything, but due to competition and noise it will become harder and harder to find and hold an audience. In addition, with stronger competition, the quality of work must be high or it will be dismissed out of hand by many readers. With books, high quality means good editors, good covers, and potentially more and more up-front costs before any money is made.

On the plus side, this will help sift some of the wheat from the chaff. On the down side, this will also create a barrier to entry for many writers or other artists who simply cannot afford what it takes to have that professional style. Few people are good at everything, and many simply cannot do it alone.

So, why do I say artists need to come together?

Because it’s the only way to overcome the above barriers, and because more and more artists of any kind will need to work as part of a team, or rather a co-operative, to get their work out there. Yes, there will be lone wolves who manage to do it all on their own, but they will become less and less common in time as co-operatives take over the roles of gatekeepers, editors, and even producers and designers. It will become about sharing labour to succeed, and forming groups for the purpose of mutual opportunity for all members. (Not success, since not all members could ever be equally successful, but all can have equal benefits from group memberships.)

This is already happening. Just as “clans” formed in online games, groups of musicians in different genres of music have already started to form together, different graphic artists have started to form “clubs” or “leagues” on places like DeviantArt and writers groups (which have always existed) are starting to support each other in different ways than before. Whether these are informal networks, semi-formal communities, or formal co-operatives, these groups have and will continue to take on the roles that traditional publishers have held in the past.

They must, because as the competition ramps up in the coming months and years, it will be the only way to survive.

What’s the First Horror Movie? This is.

The Devil’s Castle, from 1896 is considered to be the first horror movie. At a bit over three minutes long, it’s not a hard watch despite being a silent film. One thing that today’s viewers should keep in mind when watching is that the audiences of the day had no concept of special effects because films were such a new medium. So the transformations you see here, while extremely crude, would have been genuinely shocking to the audiences watching this film.

And when you’re done laughing at that, here’s an early silent horror film that lives up to it’s name. If you haven’t seen the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), you’re in for a twisted piece of German expressionism that you won’t soon forget!

And finally, here’s a movie that haunted my young dreams for years. That staircase scene still gives me chills, 1922’s Nosferatu!

Happy Halloween!
Rob