THE FASTEST GUN ALIVE

I’ve never been a big fan of westerns. I can take them or leave them although there have been some great westerns like “Shane”, “High Noon”, “The Searchers”, “True Grit” (both versions) and “The Unforgiven” (both versions). The one I saw yesterday, “The Fastest Gun Alive” fits somewhere among those classics.

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George Kelby Jr. (Glen Ford) is hiding from the reputation of his fast drawing Sheriff father. He and his wife move into the town of Cross Creek under the name of Temple, where George sets up a general store. One day, while drunk, he is so fed up with his meek identity; he shows off to the entire town how good he is with a gun. Word gets to an outlaw gunfighter (Broderick Crawford) who considers himself the fastest gun alive rides into town with his outlaw gang to shoot it out with George.

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This appears to be a standard and overused western plot but it rises to the top because of the morale dilemma of George and the town people themselves, who back up George’s desire to remain unknown.  The unity of the people of old western towns is legendary. It was the town folk of Northfield, Minnesota who defeated the outlaw gang of Jesse James – Cole Younger and it was the citizens of Coffeyville, Kansas who shot the Dalton-Doolin Gang to pieces. The citizens of Hadleyville play a big part in the classic, “High Noon” but in this case it was their unwillingness to back Marshall Kane, which was the turning point of the story. In a world where most people don’t even know the name of their neighbors, we see in “The Fastest Gun Alive” a town unified to help their fellow citizens.

STARFLAKE and the GALACTIC BIKERS Poster

I just finished designing a poster for my newest Starflake novel “Starflake rides with the Galactic Bikers”. In the story a rogue gang of the Deep Space Rangers on a dangerous mission recruit Starflake, who can live in space without any life support. They all ride hand-made rocket cycles, put together from parts of their wrecked starship.

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It’s easy to write about a rocket cycle but more difficult to photograph one, since they don’t exist. I decided to build one. I started with a toy motorcycle and removed the wheels. I added some parts, which includes the plastic rocket nose cone and then repainted it. Finally I pasted on decals and mini-skulls and I was done. Now I photographed the model, added the actors, ALICIA SAGE played Starflake and TROY WILLIAMS played all of the other bikers. This gave me the cover of the book. I used the book cover for the poster and added the copy suggested by my partner NIKOMA DeMITRO.

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Starflake Picks the Junkyard Planet

I had just finished writing my latest Starflake adventure “Starflake aboard the Doomed Ships” and was looking for an inspiration for my next novel when I turned to two of my favorite unscripted shows for diversion, “Pawn Stars” and “American Pickers”. I needed a new idea to use as the enticing chapter, which I planned to put at the end of “Doomed Ships”. After viewing the piles of valuable junk on the TV screen the idea hit me.  Starflake crashes on a planet covered with machine parts and has to rebuild her rocket cycle to get away. I now had my enticing chapter, a concept suggested by my partner NIKOMA DeMITRO. All I needed to do was come up with a good story. That’s what I’m working on now.

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Joy

I am a huge JENNIFER LAWRENCE fan, ever since I saw her performance in the brilliant movie “Winter’s Bone” about the rural life in the Appalachian Mountains. I remember saying to myself, who is this incredible young actor and how did she get so good? So, I decided to pick up her latest movie, “Joy” because she was in it and because I had hit a business crisis and needed some inspiration. The movie is about real life entrepreneur, JOY MANGANO, and her efforts to bring her inventions into the public eye.

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At first I found the movie chaotic and loaded with odd relationships and I thought, oh God, I rented a “chick flick”. This movie needs an ARNOLD SWARTZENEGGER or BRUCE WILLIS to save it. Instead I got BRADLEY COOPER. It worked. COOPER brought focus to the movie and from here on I could not look away. It was everything I had hoped for when I first rented the movie, struggle, success, betrayal, failure and then rebirth from the ashes of the Phoenix. It’s a shame LAWRENCE and COOPER have never worked together before, oh wait, they have in “American Hustle” and in her Academy Award® winning performance “Silver Linings Playbook”. By the way, BRADLEY COOPER is my second favorite new actor.

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Bridge to Terabithia: An Adult Children’s Fantasy

The title of this blog appears to be an oxymoron, like “Military Intelligence” or “Jumbo Shrimp”, I mean, really, “Adult Children’s Fantasy”, but it is a fantasy made specifically with adults in mind. Please ignore the cutesy “WALT DISNEY” banner and think TIM BURTON.

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Jesse is a boy who hates his life. He is constantly being mocked by his sisters, bullied at school and not understood by his parents. Out of desperation, he forms a friendship with a pretty, imaginative, young, new girl, Leslie Burke. Together they create a fantasy world in the woods just beyond the river. Ho, hum, time to turn this lovely fantasy off before we end up in Narnia or Neverland. Then suddenly, tragedy strikes and we are astonished because this charming little fantasy has taken an unexpected turn. From this point on, the movie is for adults and mature children.

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Besides the delightful juvenile leads, some very fine adult performers, ROBERT PATRICK and ZOOEY DESHANEL, support them. A sad and wonderful movie, it should be seen by children and adults alike. Questions will be raised, if you are an adult, be prepared.

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Rainbows

When my little girl, JAYMEE, was in her early years, she became obsessed with rainbows. We had a wooden rainbow picture over her bed and all of her pets, geckoes and salamanders, were named Rainbow Bright.

One day she told me she realized there were no such things as rainbows. We lived in Flushing, New York where a view of the sky was about the size of a postage stamp. I tried to tell her that rainbows were real, but she just nodded, with the acceptance of a kid who had accepted the ridiculous fantasy of Santa Claus.

Two years later we moved to Palmdale, California, so I could pursue my career as an animator for the Disney Studios. My family and I, settled in the desert community of Palmdale. One day, while driving to my home in Palmdale, I saw the biggest rainbow I had ever seen, stretching from Los Angeles to my home in Palmdale. I gunned my car and raced inside my home where my daughter was playing with her dolls. I asked her, and my wife, to come outside so I could show them the most gigantic rainbow bridge anyone had ever seen since the “Wizard of Oz”. Every color was bright and clear from red to green and my daughter’s mouth dropped wide open.

Years later, when she was in her teens, she would call me to report about her latest witness of a rainbow, giving me the location according to the cross streets and height and coloring. Rainbows had become a real part of her life.

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Mastermind

Here are some pages of a story I wrote nearly 40 years ago. JOE STATON recently did the finished illustrations for publication in the Charlton Spotlight. You might want to publish a few of them as a preview. The name of the series is “Master Mind” and was originally intended for artist DON NEWTON who, unfortunately, passed away at the age of 40 before he could illustrate the story. As you can see JOE did a fabulous job. He’s the top of the top artists in the business.

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A Kiss Before Dying

Mention: “Psycho” and ANTHONY PERKIN’S portrayal of Norman Bates will almost always come to mind, although Bates was actually a schizophrenic that is, delusional, as opposed to a true sociopath, one who lacks a conscience. The sociopath has often been portrayed in movies, but nowhere is he more chilling then in “A Kiss Before Dying”.

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JOANN WOODWARD and ROBERT WAGNER (Anthony Di Nozzo’s father in NCIS) play typical young college students who are deeply in love. They live in a classic American town in the 1950’s. Both are extremely attractive and their relationship seems ideal. But when WOODWARD’S character becomes pregnant we discover that WAGNER’S character is a sociopath. She must die and WAGNER plots to make it happen. What follows is so much more frightening, because of this social climber’s cool determination to end the life of a sweet, innocent young girl who is so completely devoted to him. WAGNER underplays the role perfectly and I think it’s his finest performance.

I haven’t read IRA LEVIN’S (Rosemary’s Baby/The Stepford Wives) book on which the movie was based, but I will do so in the future, if for no other reason than to see if the screen adaptation is true or did they modify it for the sake of the 1950’s time period and please skip the unnecessary 1991 remake of this fine movie.

Space Patrol

When I was a kid in the fifties I fell in love with space opera. The first one I used to watch regularly was “Captain Video and his Video Rangers” but my favorite was “Space Patrol”. The program dealt with the interplanetary adventures of Buzz Corey, Commander-In-Chief of the Space Patrol, a sort of outer space police force. ED KEMMER, who was an actual war hero, played Corey. He was a fighter pilot who had been shot down over enemy territory.  Captured by the Germans, he and two other prisoners used a spoon to unlock the door, to where they were being held, and made their way back to Allied lines.

My Mom knew my passion for the show and when a mock-up of the space ship from the show appeared at a shopping center nearby, she took me to see it. It was big enough to go aboard and I actually rode in the pilot’s seat.

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Recently a friend, DONN GREER, sent me a photo of one of those ten cent ride ‘em machines and all my wonderful adolescent sci-fi memories came flooding back, especially since the ride had all the proper trappings. The “Space Patrol” logo was correct and there was a red and white-checkered trim on the tail fins, which was the logo for their sponsor, Wheat and Rice Chex (the Ralston Purina Company).

 I’ve included photos of the actual ship model used on the show, the Terra V, along with the Ralston Rocket and the ride ‘em store ride.

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The Mermaid

I am not a fan of foreign movies. It isn’t because I don’t think they are as good as American movies, it’s because I think their pacing, comedy and drama is so different than American movies that I have to suspend disbelief twice. I especially avoid Asian movies for the same reason, but a friend, and fellow filmmaker, GARO NIGGHOSIAN, introduced me to the work of STEPHEN CHOW. So when CHOW came up with “The Mermaid (2016)” I thought I would give it a look. After all, my daughter’s favorite movie, when she was a child, was “The Little Mermaid”.

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What a pleasant surprise. It was billed as a comedy, and yes, there were plenty of comic elements, but there was also a very serious message and the climax will have you at the edge of your seats gripping the armrests in sheer suspense.

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The story concerns a rich industrialist, Liu Xuan, who wants to develop an island paradise, which also happens to be the refuge of the last merpeople on Earth. The merpeople, led by a humanoid octopus, Show Lo, send a mermaid, Shan, to assassinate Xuan. Instead of ending Xuan’s life, she falls in love with him and he with her. But his partner, the beautiful Li Ruoclan, will not allow the development stopped and sends her soldiers to wipe out all of the merpeople. The confrontation is shattering.

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The special effects, concerning the merpeople, are flawless. I cannot recommend this movie enough, fun, exciting and very poignant. It is the highest grossing movie in China and the second highest grossing movie on the international market, second only to “Deadpool”.

An Author of Comics, Science Fiction, & Horror. Come Jump Into My Imagination!

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