Sunday, February 15, 2015

A giveaway at The Reading Cafe!

The most excellent book blog The Reading Cafe is celebrating its third anniversary.

I'm joining in the festivities by hosting a giveaway. Enter to win a print or ebook edition of my new novel Undertow (recently reviewed by The Reading Cafe), or some bookmarks featuring all my lovely novel covers.

Enter today! Giveaway lasts til February 28!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Nerd Girl's Guide to Cinema - The List, Revealed!

Calling all film geeks! My movie review book A Nerd Girl's Guide to Cinema will be out at the end of the month. To whet your appetite, here is the final list of movies that will be covered.

Alice, Sweet Alice
All That Jazz
Altered States
American History X
The Arena
The Bad Seed
Bad Taste
The Beast of Yucca Flats
Beyond the Door
The Big Red One
The Black Dahlia
Black Sheep
The Blob
A Boy and His Dog
Bubba Ho-Tep
Burn After Reading
Cannibal Ferox
Carnival of Souls
The Changeling
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
A Christmas Carol
The Company of Wolves
Conan the Barbarian
The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover
Countess Dracula
The Curse of the Cat People
Damien: Omen 2
Day of the Animals
Day Watch (Dnevnoi Dozor)
The Dead Zone
Death Bed: The Bed That Eats
Death Race 2000
Destroy All Monsters
The Devil's Advocate
The Devils
District B13
Django Unchained
Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog
Edison Force
El Diablo
Event Horizon
The Exorcist III
Fair Game
Fight Club
The Final Conflict
The Fisher King
Fist of the North Star
Flesh + Blood
Flesh Gordon
Four Flies on Grey Velvet
Galaxy of Terror
The Gates of Hell
Glengarry Glen Ross
Godzilla vs. Hedorah
Halloween III: Season of the Witch
The Hand
Hell of the Living Dead
Henry and June
Hercules and the Captive Women
High Anxiety
The Hills Have Eyes
I Spit on Your Grave
Ice Castles
In the Mouth of Madness
The Incredible Hulk
The Island of Dr. Moreau
Jacob's Ladder
Joe Versus the Volcano
Julie and Julia
Kill the Irishman
King Kong (the Peter Jackson version)
King of New York
Kingdom of the Spiders
KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park
L.A. Confidential
Lair of the White Worm
The Last Wave
The Legacy
Long Weekend
Lord of the Rings (the Ralph Bakshi version)
Lost Highway
Mad Monster Party
Marathon Man
Massacre in Dinosaur Valley
Master of the Flying Guillotine
Meet the Feebles
Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus
Miami Connection
Mortal Kombat
The Naked Kiss
The Naked Prey
National Lampoon's Animal House
The Negotiator
Night of the Lepus
Night Watch (Nochnoi Dozor)
Nightmare Alley
The Ninth Configuration
No Country for Old Men
Nude for Satan
The Omen
The Painted Veil
Pennies From Heaven
Phantom of the Paradise
Phase IV
Pink Floyd: The Wall
Piranha 3D
Rain of Fire
The Reaping
Red Sonja
The Ref
The Reflecting Skin
The Replacement Killers
Requiem for a Vampire
Romeo is Bleeding
The Room
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
Salo, or The 120 Days of Sodom
The Sentinel
The Serpent and the Rainbow
Shark Attack 3: Megalodon
Shoot 'Em Up
The Sign of the Cross
The Silent Scream
Silver Bullet
Snakes on a Plane
Something Wicked This Way Comes
Somewhere in Time
Spirits of the Dead
Street Kings
Suddenly, Last Summer
Surviving the Game
Tales From the Crypt
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
The 13th Warrior
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Tron: Legacy
The Truman Show
Turkey Shoot
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me
Under Siege
Under the Skin
The Unseen
Valhalla Rising
The Valley of Gwangi
The Visitor
War of the Gargantuas
Watership Down
What Have You Done to Solange?
White Noise 2: The Light
Witchfinder General
Yellow Submarine
The Yellow Wallpaper
Zabriskie Point

The guide also includes a list of 200 more movies worth watching, from The Abominable Dr. Phibes to Zodiac. Stay tuned for the official release date!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Undertow review at The Bibliophilic Book Blog

The latest review for Undertow is in. Visit the Bibliophilic Book Blog to learn their thoughts on the book.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Cover reveal: A Nerd Girl's Guide to Cinema

Finally! Here is the cover of my forthcoming movie review book, A Nerd Girl's Guide to Cinema.

The book will be published in late February. Stay tuned for official release date!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Listen up: 24 hours of music

A while back I decided to create a playlist that would take all the good parts of the radio — a variety of music — and leave out all the bad parts of the radio — commercials, songs that suck.  And now I've ended up with a solid 24 hours of music I like.

This list was a departure for me in a few ways. Usually I like my playlists to have themes, but this one had no theme. If a song segued well from its predecessor, it was in; one of the things I hate most about the radio is that there's so little regard for how songs work together. I mean, I like Nine Inch Nails and I like James Taylor — but that doesn't mean I want to hear them back-to-back.

So here, if you care to listen for yourself, is the complete 24-hour playlist. Enjoy!

  • Paint it Black - The Rolling Stones
  • The Infanta - The Decemberists
  • Big Hollow Man - Danielle Dax
  • The Killing Jar - Siouxsie and the Banshees
  • Caught a Lite Sneeze - Tori Amos
  • Girl With the Red Balloon - The Civil Wars
  • A Common Disaster - Cowboy Junkies
  • Johnny Feelgood - Liz Phair
  • Nature Boy - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
  • Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana
  • Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums - A Perfect Circle
  • Bones - MS MR
  • Is She Weird - The Pixies
  • Creep - Radiohead
  • Blood and Roses - The Smithereens
  • Wicked Game - Chris Isaak
  • Matte Kudasai - King Crimson
  • Vienna - Ultravox
  • Goin' Out West - Tom Waits
  • Run Through the Jungle - Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • Big Empty - Stone Temple Pilots
  • When the Levee Breaks - Led Zeppelin
  • How Soon is Now? - The Smiths
  • Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding - Elton John
  • Days and Days - Concrete Blonde
  • Diamonds and Rust - Joan Baez
  • Walk on By - Isaac Hayes
  • Child in Time - Deep Purple
  • Fred's World - Angelo Badalamenti
  • Just Like You Imagined - Nine Inch Nails
  • Lucretia My Reflection - The Sisters of Mercy
  • 2000 Light Years From Home - The Rolling Stones
  • Silent Lucidity - Queensryche
  • No New Tale to Tell - Love and Rockets
  • Everyday is Like Sunday - Morrissey
  • The Boys of Summer - Don Henley
  • The Bed's Too Big Without You - The Police
  • Personal Jesus - Depeche Mode
  • Head Like a Hole - Nine Inch Nails
  • A Song From Under the Floorboards - Magazine
  • Add it Up - Violent Femmes
  • Gold Lion - The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  • 52 Girls - The B-52s
  • Hell - Squirrel Nut Zippers
  • I Wanna Be Like You - Los Lobos
  • Apeman - The Kinks
  • Istanbul (Not Constantinople) - They Might Be Giants
  • Just Another Day - Oingo Boingo
  • Goodbye Horses - Q Lazzarus
  • Ashes to Ashes - David Bowie
  • Tom Sawyer - Rush
  • Transmission - Joy Division
  • Cat House - Danielle Dax
  • Cecilia Ann - The Pixies
  • Cornflake Girl - Tori Amos
  • Watching the Detectives - Elvis Costello
  • Hunter - Dido
  • Where Do the Children Play? - Cat Stevens
  • My Little Town - Paul Simon
  • Joey - Concrete Blonde
  • The Flame - Cheap Trick
  • Kiss From a Rose - Seal
  • Theme from The Valley of the Dolls - k. d. lang
  • La Vie en Rose - Louis Armstrong
  • Coney Island Baby - Tom Waits
  • Pretty Fifties - David Lynch
  • Runaway - Del Shannon
  • 96 Tears - ? and the Mysterians
  • Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress - The Hollies
  • Julie's in the Drug Squad - The Clash
  • Jump Around - House of Pain
  • White Lines - Grandmaster Flash
  • Atomic Dog - George Clinton
  • Genius of Love - The Tom Tom Club
  • Hey Ya! - OutKast
  • Can't Make Love - Wall of Voodoo
  • Tainted Love - Soft Cell
  • Close To Me - The Cure
  • I Melt With You - Modern English
  • Beautiful World - Devo
  • Psycho Killer (Live) - Talking Heads
  • Memo From Turner - The Rolling Stones
  • Rudie Can't Fail - The Clash
  • A Pistol for Paddy Garcia - The Pogues
  • Morricone Theme - Wall of Voodoo
  • Per Qualche Dollaro in PiĆ¹ - Ennio Morricone
  • Battle Without Honor or Humanity - Tomoyasu Hotei
  • 21st Century Digital Boy - Bad Religion
  • Suffragette City - David Bowie
  • Shock the Monkey - Peter Gabriel
  • Love is a Stranger - Eurythmics
  • All For Love of One - Mediaeval Baebes
  • Summoning of the Muse - Dead Can Dance
  • The World Spins - Julee Cruise
  • La Serenissima - Loreena McKennitt
  • Willow's Song - Faith and the Muse
  • Ghost of Love - David Lynch
  • Incarceration of a Flower Child - Marianne Faithfull
  • Bliss - Tori Amos
  • Cat People (Putting Out Fire) - David Bowie
  • Master and Servant - Depeche Mode
  • Relax - Frankie Goes to Hollywood
  • Do You Want To - Franz Ferdinand
  • Ballroom Blitz - Sweet
  • My Baby Does Good Sculptures - The Rezillos
  • T-Town - The Glory Holes
  • Jerry Was a Race Car Driver - Primus
  • Baby I Love You - The Yayhoos
  • The Breakup Song - Greg Kihn Band
  • Buddy Holly - Weezer
  • Baby Blue - Badfinger
  • One - Three Dog Night
  • Sally Go 'Round the Roses - The Jaynetts
  • Dear Prudence - The Beatles
  • Polyester Bride - Liz Phair
  • No Myth - Michael Penn
  • Tempted - Squeeze
  • Found Out About You - The Gin Blossoms
  • Caroline - Concrete Blonde
  • Tear in Your Hand - Tori Amos
  • Someone Saved my Life Tonight - Elton John
  • Baker Street - Gerry Rafferty
  • Bad Sneakers - Steely Dan
  • Wake Up - Arcade Fire
  • Sweetest Thing - U2
  • The Love Cats - The Cure
  • Marry Me - Emilie Autumn
  • Dirty Dog - Switchblade Symphony
  • Kashmir - Led Zeppelin
  • Un Amico - Ennio Morricone
  • O Children - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
  • Ball of Confusion - Love and Rockets
  • Big Time - Peter Gabriel
  • Shitloads of Money - Liz Phair
  • Let It Bleed - The Rolling Stones
  • Eminence Front - The Who
  • Making Plans for Nigel - XTC
  • Secret Agent Man - Devo
  • Close (To The Edit) - Art of Noise
  • One Night in Bangkok - Murray Head
  • Little Girls - Oingo Boingo
  • Too Young to Date - D-Day
  • Busy Child - The Crystal Method
  • Blue Monday - New Order
  • End of Line - Daft Punk
  • Closer - Nine Inch Nails
  • Suspiria - Goblin
  • Tubular Bells (Opening Theme) - Mike Oldfield
  • Magic and Ecstasy - Ennio Morricone
  • Betrayal (Sorcerer Theme) - Tangerine Dream
  • Nicaragua - Jerry Goldsmith
  • Last: The Lonely Shepherd - Zamfir
  • Comfortably Numb - Pink Floyd
  • Black Hole Sun - Soundgarden
  • Alsatian Cousin - Morrissey
  • Come Out and Play - The Offspring
  • Ball and Chain - Social Distortion
  • Anything, Anything - Dramarama
  • Girl U Want - Devo
  • Rock Lobster - The B-52s
  • Saber Dance - The UK Subs
  • Misirlou - Dick Dale
  • Il Giardino Dell Delizie - Ennio Morricone
  • Im Nin'Alu - Ofra Haza
  • Isabella - The Mediaeval Baebes
  • Running Up That Hill - Kate Bush
  • Past the Mission - Tori Amos
  • Big Log - Robert Plant
  • I Walk the Line - Johnny Cash
  • Sultans of Swing - Dire Straits
  • One Thing Leads to Another - The Fixx
  • Driver Down - Trent Reznor
  • Is That All There Is? - Cristina
  • Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien - Edith Piaf
  • It's a Sin to Tell a Lie - Dolly Dawn
  • My Funny Valentine - Chet Baker
  • Smoke Gets In Your Eyes - The Platters
  • I Fall to Pieces - Patsy Cline
  • Folsom Prison Blues - Johnny Cash
  • Dad I'm in Jail - Was (Not Was)
  • God's Away on Business - Tom Waits
  • Lucifer Sam - Pink Floyd
  • Spy Vs. Spy - Combustible Edison
  • Incense and Peppermint - The Strawberry Alarm Clock
  • Hold Tight - Dave, Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick, and Tick
  • Come and Get Your Love - Redbone
  • Love is Like Oxygen - Sweet
  • Turn to Stone - Electric Light Orchestra
  • Cruel to be Kind - Nick Lowe
  • Help! - The Beatles
  • All the Young Dudes - Mott the Hoople
  • Come and Get It - Badfinger
  • Stuck in the Middle With You - Stealer's Wheel
  • Werewolves of London - Warren Zevon
  • Another Saturday Night - Cat Stevens
  • Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard - Paul Simon
  • Baby Got Going - Liz Phair
  • Favorite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl) - Haircut 100
  • Stand and Deliver - Adam and the Ants
  • The Queen is Dead - The Smiths
  • Entertain - Sleater-Kinney
  • Anarchy - KMFDM
  • Dragula - Rob Zombie
  • Hell Broke Luce - Tom Waits
  • FFF - Public Image Ltd.
  • Piggy - Nine Inch Nails
  • Venus in Furs - The Velvet Underground
  • Spark - Tori Amos
  • Night of a Thousand Furry Toys - Rick Wright
  • Mercy Street - Peter Gabriel
  • C'est la Mort - The Civil Wars
  • Don't Let it Bring You Down - Neil Young
  • Twist in my Sobriety - Tanita Tikaram
  • All Dead, All Dead - Queen
  • Goodbye Yellow Brick Road - Elton John
  • Moving Through Time - Angelo Badalamenti
  • Martha's Dream - Nick Cave
  • Quintet for Glass and String - Garry Eister
  • Rabbia e Tarantella - Ennio Morricone
  • Procession - The Wicker Man Soundtrack
  • Memorial - Michael Nyman
  • Shalott - Emilie Autumn
  • Yes, Anastasia - Tori Amos
  • Scarborough Fair/Canticle - Simon and Garfunkel
  • Julia Dream - Pink Floyd
  • I'm Not in Love - 10cc
  • Hazy Shade of Winter - The Bangles
  • This Corrosion - The Sisters of Mercy
  • The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway - Genesis
  • 21st Century Schizoid Man - King Crimson
  • What God Wants (Part 1) - Roger Waters
  • Happiness in Slavery - Nine Inch Nails
  • Peace Frog - The Doors
  • Grindhouse (Main Theme) - Robert Rodriguez
  • Gimme Shelter - The Rolling Stones
  • Immigrant Song - Led Zeppelin
  • Childhood's End - Pink Floyd
  • Barton Hollow - The Civil Wars
  • Freedom - Anthony Hamilton and Elayna Boynton
  • Johnstown - O Susanna
  • Ballad of a Thin Man - Bob Dylan
  • Babe, You Turn Me On - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
  • Femme Fatale - The Velvet Underground
  • Precious Things - Tori Amos
  • Thank God I'm Pretty - Emilie Autumn
  • Cities in Dust - Siouxsie and the Banshees
  • Red Bats With Teeth - Angelo Badalamenti
  • Senza Motivo Apparente - Ennio Morricone
  • Terminal Frost - Pink Floyd
  • Flying - The Beatles
  • Sugar Magnolia - The Grateful Dead
  • Domino - Van Morrison
  • What Makes You Happy - Liz Phair
  • Why Can't I Touch It? - The Buzzcocks
  • New Frontier - Donald Fagen
  • Cecilia - Simon and Garfunkel
  • Lookin' Out My Back Door - Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • Like a Soldier - Johnny Cash
  • Chain of Fools - Aretha Franklin
  • Who Did That to You? - John Legend
  • You Know My Name - Chris Cornell
  • Twilight Zone - Golden Earring
  • Orange Crush - R.E.M.
  • Rock the Casbah - The Clash
  • Party at Ground Zero - Fishbone
  • The Suits are Picking Up the Bill - Squirrel Nut Zippers
  • Balboa Blue - The Marketts
  • Take Five - Dave Brubeck
  • Cadillac - Combustible Edison
  • Pablo Picasso - The Burning Sensations
  • Riders in the Sky - Dick Dale
  • Jackie Chan - The Dollyrots
  • I Say Nothing - Voice of the Beehive
  • Paperback Writer - The Beatles
  • Someday, Someway - Marshall Crenshaw
  • Build Me Up Buttercup - The Foundations
  • You Sexy Thing - Hot Chocolate
  • I'm Too Sexy - Right Said Fred
  • Got to Give It Up - Marvin Gaye
  • Jungle Love - The Time
  • Kiss - Tom Jones and the Art of Noise
  • Chick Habit - April March
  • Cherry Bomb - The Runaways
  • My Sharona - The Knack
  • Walking in L.A. - Missing Persons
  • Touch Piggy's Eyes - Danielle Dax
  • Thela Hun Ginjeet - King Crimson
  • Oh Look - KMFDM
  • March of the Pigs - Nine Inch Nails
  • Opheliac - Emilie Autumn
  • Liquid Diamonds - Tori Amos
  • Trovommi Amor - The Mediaeval Baebes
  • Until the End of the World - Julee Cruise
  • Carolyn's Fingers - The Cocteau Twins
  • Solsbury Hill - Peter Gabriel
  • Coming Back to Life - Pink Floyd
  • What is Love? - Howard Jones
  • Harmony - Elton John
  • 5:15 - The Who
  • My Old School - Steely Dan
  • Fall On Me - R.E.M.
  • And Your Bird Can Sing - The Beatles
  • Turn Around - They Might Be Giants
  • The Time Warp - Rocky Horror Picture Show Soundtrack
  • Goodbye, Eddie, Goodbye - Phantom of the Paradise Soundtrack
  • Crazy Little Thing Called Love - Queen
  • Goody Two Shoes - Adam Ant
  • Pump it Up - Elvis Costello
  • Doctorin' the Tardis - The Timelords
  • Brass Monkey - The Beastie Boys
  • Because I Got High - Afroman
  • Just One Fix - Ministry
  • The Perfect Drug - Nine Inch Nails
  • Jeremy - Pearl Jam
  • Midnight Rambler - The Rolling Stones
  • Pills and Soap - Elvis Costello
  • I Don't Mind If You Forget Me - Morrissey
  • Elephant Talk - King Crimson
  • They Might Be Giants - They Might Be Giants
  • Tidal Wave - Dick Dale
  • Faccia a Faccia - Ennio Morricone
  • Dominion/Mother Russia - The Sisters of Mercy
  • Never Gonna Stop - Rob Zombie
  • Clubbed to Death - Rob Dougan
  • Principles of Lust/Sadeness - Enigma
  • Dream Song - Ministry
  • The Mark Has Been Made - Nine Inch Nails
  • All Tomorrow's Parties - The Velvet Underground
  • White Rabbit - The Jefferson Airplane
  • Angel - Jimi Hendrix
  • Gloomy Sunday - The Smithereens
  • Delia's Gone - Johnny Cash
  • Sweet Baby James - James Taylor
  • Cat's in the Cradle - Harry Chapin
  • Life in a Northern Town - The Dream Academy
  • Rockin' Back Inside my Heart - Julee Cruise
  • Shine on You Crazy Diamond (Parts 6-9) - Pink Floyd
  • The Court of the Crimson King - King Crimson
  • Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen
  • Love, Reign O'er Me - The Who
  • A Day in the Life - The Beatles 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Monday, January 19, 2015

Reading recommendations: Underrated or little-known books

It's a new year and I'm sure we're all on the lookout for some good books to read in the coming months. And if you're not sure what should be next on your reading list, may I recommend some books that are underrated or not as well known as they should be? You'll see some familiar author names here, but you may not know the titles.

Boys and Girls Together - William Goldman
Years before he brought us the story of Wesley and Buttercup, and before he made us all a little bit nervous about going to the dentist, William Goldman gave us a fantastic story of five ordinary young people brought to their fates - and in some cases their dooms - by the city of New York. It's sprawling yet intimate, often heartbreaking, and occasionally funny.

Cavedweller - Dorothy Allison
Dorothy Allison's second (and to this date, last) novel hasn't the raw power of her debut Bastard Out of Carolina, and it loses its narrative focus halfway through, but it is still a remarkable tale of sisterhood, family, and healing the heart. When her rock star ex-husband dies in a motorcycle crash, singer Delia Byrd takes her daughter Cissy back to Delia's small hometown in Georgia, to reunite with Delia's two other daughters from her abusive first marriage. Though not without its dark moments, it's a much more optimistic book than Bastard Out of Carolina.

Til We Have Faces - C. S. Lewis
Though not nearly as well known as the Narnia books or The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis' retelling of the Cupid and Psyche myth is fascinating. Told from the viewpoint of Psyche's sister Orual, it deftly addresses the question of faith and where the line is between loyalty to the divine and to the earthly.

Fevre Dream - George R. R. Martin
If you're waiting oh so patiently for the next book in George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, you could do worse than to read this intriguing mix of 19th-century riverboats and vampires. Yes, you read that correctly. Martin not only makes this unlikely combination work, but he does so while skewering the tropes of vampire fiction and ending things in a way you don't quite expect. It doesn't have the sprawl, scope, or grandeur of the Westeros books, but is still a fine read.

The Getaway - Jim Thompson
I'm cheating a bit, as The Getaway isn't really that unknown of a Thompson book. But The Grifters and The Killer Inside Me get all the press, so I want to stump for The Getaway. Married criminals Doc and Carol pull off the proverbial last big score without much of a hitch - it's escaping to safety (a South American town that's a semi-legendary haven for criminals) that's the hard part. Bad luck, miscalculations, and distrust escalate into a grim, almost existential final chapter that's unlike anything else I've read in crime fiction.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

More reviews for Undertow!

This year my Christmas was particularly merry, as bloggers reviewed my new mystery, Undertow.

The Reading Cafe says, "[Kelly Cozy] blew me away again." Read full review.

The Book Bag says, "it kept me on the edge of my seat." Read full review.

Book Bag Lady says, "It was suspenseful and exhilarating all at the same time." Read full review.

Ciska's Book Chest says, "Cozy knows how to create characters and set atmosphere." Read full review.

I am very grateful to all of these bloggers for reading my book and sharing their thoughts on it with their readers.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Author Panel: The Joys and Trials of Self-Publishing

Save the date: Saturday, December 13 at 3 p.m., I'll be on the panel of The Joys and Trials of Self-Publishing (along with fellow authors Sam Culotta and Bradley Kim). We'll be talking about the importance of self-promotion, our writing processes, the role of ebooks, and much more.

Join us at the Charter Oak Library in Covina, CA (20540 "K" Arrow Highway). Hope to see you there!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Update: A Nerd Girl's Guide to Cinema

For those of you who know me more for my movie reviews, there's good news. My book of reviews, titled A Nerd Girl's Guide to Cinema, will hit the shelves in early 2015. I'll post the release date here as soon as that's nailed down.

The book will have reviews of 200 cult classics, interesting failures, and overlooked gems. And to get your appetite whetted, here's a sample of some of the movies reviewed:

  • All That Jazz
  • The Big Red One
  • Caligula
  • The Devils
  • Excalibur
  • Four Flies on Grey Velvet
  • Gymkata
  • Henry and June
  • Ice Castles
  • Jaws
  • King of New York
  • The Last Wave
  • Miami Connection
  • Nightmare Alley
  • The Omen
  • Phantom of the Paradise
  • The Reflecting Skin
  • Sideways
  • Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me
  • Under the Skin
  • Valhalla Rising
  • Watership Down
  • Xtro
  • Yellow Submarine
  • Zabriskie Point

The full list will be posted here closer to publication date. I'm hoping to have a cover reveal before the end of this year. Keep on the lookout!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Undertow paperback now on sale!

Good news for the print loyalists! The paperback edition of Undertow is now available (ebook readers need to wait til Tuesday). Take a look and buy yourself a copy if you're so inclined.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

One from the vaults: Reflections on Pink Floyd's The Final Cut

My favorite band, Pink Floyd, have just released The Endless River, their first album since 1994. I won't be hearing it until most likely Christmas (big hint: it's on my Amazon wish list). But the combination of overcast weather and Veterans' Day created the appropriate mood for one of their unjustly overlooked albums: The Final Cut.

The Final Cut was doomed to be a failure (though most artists should be so lucky as to have such a failure on their resumes). To understand why, a little history is in order: It was originally intended to be an add-on to the film adaptation of The Wall, giving a vinyl home to songs that were either substantially revised for or entirely new to the film. In fact, the 45 release of "When the Tigers Broke Free" shows stills from The Wall movie and says it's from the upcoming album The Final Cut. But chief songwriter Roger Waters, angered by the Falkland Islands War and what he saw as a betrayal of what World War II soldiers (including his father) fought and died for, created an entirely new album. This turn of events was complicated by the fact that the band itself was in nearly complete disarray, with its internal power struggles and personality conflicts having reached their peak. The result is a somewhat awkward and uneven but emotionally powerful song cycle about the price of war and what happens when we fail to honor the sacrifices of the fallen.

The album gets off to an uneven start with "The Post-War Dream" and "Your Possible Pasts." The former opens with some classic use of sound effects: passing cars, news radio reports, and the strangely ominous sound of someone slowly counting out coins. The lyrics are less successful than they might be, when Waters' impassioned plea to know if the current state of affairs in England is really what soldiers fought and died for is marred by a bizarre tangent about shipbuilding getting outsourced to Japan. The issues with the second song, "Your Possible Pasts," are different - the lyrics are interesting and point toward squandered opportunities, but the muddled imagery muffles the effect. Fortunately, the song features some excellent Hammond organ work (its "church-y" sound is perfect for the album's elegiac tone) and the first of several scorching guitar solos by Floyd guitarist David Gilmour.

The album hits a powerful stride with its next few songs. "One of the Few" presents us with the character of an unnamed World War II veteran who, traumatized by his war experience, finds a living as a teacher and starts shaping the next generation. This, of course, is a take on the famous abusive schoolteacher from The Wall, and in the next few songs Waters gives a surprising amount of characterization and empathy to the character. "The Hero's Return" takes us back into Wall territory not only in its study of the veteran/teacher but in its driving, angry music; in "The Gunner's Dream" we learn one reason for the veteran/teacher's trauma - hearing a soldier's dying words, said words being a wish for his death not to have been in vain, and for a better society to have come from this war.Of course, this wish hasn't come true.

If the album's first half ends on a somewhat anticlimactic note with "Paranoid Eyes" - a nice study of isolation but nothing too essential - the second half literally starts with a bang. Featuring one of the band's most memorable song titles (no mean feat from a group that gave us "Careful With that Axe, Eugene" and "Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave and Grooving With a Pict"), "Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert" opens with a very distant voice screeching the title words. The screecher's only answer is a disinterested "What'd he say?" followed by the whoosh and explosion of a missile. A deliciously satirical violin section leads us into a vignette about the present-day (of 1983) conflicts, taking to task current world leaders. This theme continues into the next song, "The Fletcher Memorial Home." Furious yet elegiac, the song proposes that bloodthirsty politicians and leaders be put in a special home (named for Waters' father) "for incurable wasters of life and limb." Past sacrifice and present futility are present in "Southampton Dock," which juxtaposes soldiers' return from World War II with a pledge "to sheathe the sacrificial knives" with Margaret Thatcher sending a new generation to die in the Falklands, not out of necessity but to hold on to the "slippery reins" of power.

It's a curious contradiction of the album that its next song, "The Final Cut," is something of a misstep, yet it's not just my favorite song on the album, it's one of my favorite Floyd songs of all time. The song doesn't really fit in with the overall themes of the album, and it's here (and with the next song, "Not Now John") that the album's origins as an add-on to The Wall become apparent. The music for the song "The Final Cut" is a direct ripoff of/homage to The Wall's "Comfortably Numb," complete with string section and achingly beautiful guitar solo; its lyrics tell of depression, isolation, and a desperate need for love (not so much for its own sake but to keep the demons at bay). The album then takes a sharp right turn into the raucous, belligerent "Not Now John," which dismisses all the issues raised by the album so far with a curt "Fuck all that." After all, there's no time for worrying about the failure of the post-war dream when there's the need to "bring the Russian bear to his knees...Make us feel tough and wouldn't Maggie be pleased." There's something curiously cathartic about the song, not so much for its own merits (it's a bit of a muddle and Gilmour, in his sole vocal role on the album, doesn't sound very enthusiastic) but for its sheer aggression and volume. 

But reflections and rage alike may well mean nothing, if the album's last song holds true. "Two Suns in the Sunset" is one of the more mellow takes on nuclear apocalypse, painting it with the simple yet horrifying imagery of a "sun" appearing where no sun has any right to be. Perhaps the song's quiet take on Armageddon is one of resignation, a "can't stop what's coming" tone that perfectly captures the mood of that era - the feeling that we were all just one international crisis away from world destruction. Waters seems to reflect this also in returning to the same sounds of news reports and passing cars that opened the album - not only a typical Floydian "isn't this where we came in" moment but also a reflection of the (at the time) feeling that such an end was inevitable. 

Though the album overall is slightly confused in its themes (one gets the feeling that it was written in a great burst of emotional catharsis), and hampered by the music not quite jelling at times (due no doubt to the extremely fractured state of the band - at times it's practically a Waters solo album), there's no denying the raw emotional power it often wields. Surprisingly, one of its strongest points is Waters' vocals; if you're on board with his vocal style (and you'd be well forgiven if you weren't as they're definitely an acquired taste) you'll find he's at his peak, with his obvious sincerity and passion for the material outweighing his limitations as a singer. I'm particularly fond of his enunciation: No one can work every syllable of a word like Waters when he's on a roll, as in the way he says the word "hallucination."  Likewise the lyrics, for the most part, are quite good. The political insights won't be much beyond what you can find in the Sunday editorial page, but there's excellent imagery throughout, and a depth of characterization that hadn't been seen in Waters' lyrics since his portrayal of the ruthless businessman in "Dogs" from the Animals album. And though the music does have its issues, the album is blessed with some lovely keyboard and piano work, and several great guitar solos, one of which (the one for the title track) is a personal all-time favorite.

It's a flawed album, without question. Yet it captures a moment in time that's worth revisiting, and it taps into powerful feelings of loss and of earning the sacrifice that those who've protected us have offered. It's not an album I revisit often, as it is quite possibly the most depressing album in the Floyd canon (which is saying quite a bit). But when the circumstances are right, it offers an emotional experience unlike any other album in the band's repertoire.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Monday, October 27, 2014

Interview at The Cult of Me blog

Care to know a little bit more about me and my books? No? Well, there is an interview with me over at The Cult Of Me, for your reading enjoyment.