Friday, December 28, 2007

Deep Condolences to Pakistan

My deepest condolences to the people of Pakistan and especially to the family, friends, and supporters of Benazir Bhutto.  I greatly admired her courage and determination.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays to all my friends and readers.

I'm catching a bit of a breather after a busy and exciting year which included starting my own company -- Walkabout Publishing -- as well as the usual writing (and the occasional bit of art).

Walkabout's books should be available from Amazon shortly, so be sure to look for them there.  (Though you can get autographed copies if you order them directly from me!)

Here's hoping that all of us have an even better 2008!

Happy New Year! -- Steve

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Best Ice Cream in the World

Growing up in my hometown, Sharon, Massachusetts (next to Foxboro where the Patriots play), we always said that our hometown dairy's ice cream was the best in the world.

Now we have proof:

Crescent Ridge story

Makes me hungry just reading it.

Congrats to the Parish family and all those who make CRidge ice cream great.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

What I'm Watching

A slight upgrade in my cable system has changed my TV viewing habits. There's so much more to see now!

Heroes remains a fave of course (and I hope the strikers will win so we can see more this season), and joining it in the lineup of must-see are:

Justice League

And the show which is currently taking up way too much of my time, Ninja Warrior (Sasuke). (I think there may be a book there somewhere.)

More on the middle two in my blog soon -- I think.

Time to watch some TV.

Monday, November 26, 2007

PS - Writers' Strike

Here's a couple of must-see videos about the strike:

Daily Show Writers

Colbert Report Writers

I stole those links from my friend Stan!'s blog. (Stan!, do you know how difficult it is to make your name a possessive with that exclamation point at the end?) His blog also has a really good non-sarcastic explanation of the strike issues.

The Writers' Strike

Every once in a while, the outcome of a course of action is so obvious that it's astonishing those in charge didn't apparently see it coming.  The strike by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) is a case in point.

In case you  haven't noticed, pretty much every form of entertainment -- aside from reality shows and call-in radio (and who can really call those entertainment?) -- needs writers to function.  In the not too distant past, there were people who thought that the actors on shows just made the stories up as they went along (like an extraordinarily well-executed Whose Line Is It Anyway?).  In today's internet world, though, writers and writer-creators (like Joss Whedon) have built awareness of what they do, and fan bases as well.  I mean, the actors on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel were fun to look at (some of them), but did anybody really tune in just to watch the beautiful people?

No.  People watch TV and movies because of characters and engaging storylines.  And guess what?  Both characters and storylines are created by writers.

But somehow, the networks and media conglomerates occasionally seem to forget that.

The companies sometimes believe that they have created the properties that they broadcast, just like they own Superman and Spider-Man, and . . . Oh, wait!  Those properties were created by writers (and artists), too!  So, basically, without the writers (and other creative artists), all the companies actually own is reruns.  And how many reruns can you run in Prime Time for top dollar advertising?

Not too many, it's turning out.

But why is all this happening?  In case you haven't heard, there's this new thing called the internet.  You can get TV shows on it.  Sometimes, you have to pay for them, and sometimes you have to watch commercials (paid advertising) to get them for "free."  You know where those shows came from?  Writers.  And, as it turns out, the writers have a contract that says every time their material is run, they get some money (residuals).  But you know what?  The big corporations have decided that running TV shows on the internet doesn't count.  They're claiming that those shows are "promotion" (a give-away), which means they don't have to pay residuals.  But, of course, the corps are making money selling those shows on the Internet, or selling the ads to those shows on the internet.  Doesn't sound much like a promotion to me -- or to the WGA.  Check out this video or the site that follows for more perspectives:

The Office Is Closed

United Hollywood

So, basically, the corps are stealing from the writers, and that's why the writers have gone on strike.

Today, November 26, everyone's back from Thanksgiving and in negotiations once more.  (After a three-week snit by the corps.)  With a little luck, the strike will end quickly.  You can bet your boots it'll end when the networks run out of new episodes to run -- assuming the writers can hold out that long.  (And I'm hoping they can.)  For the record, here's my head-slapping moment of the strike so far.

Early on, the networks and corps seemed to be under the delusion that the writer-producer-director types, like Joss Whedon (Buffy) and J.J. Abrams (Lost), would just keep on working, turning out new episodes and movies and whatever else they were writing while the "peons" of the WGA walked the picket lines.  You can almost imagine those greedy execs rubbing their hands gleefully at the idea that their shows would keep going while others had no scripts to shoot.

So, of course, Joss and J.J. and all the other folks in their position did the sensible thing: they honored the strike -- meaning they won't write, either.

Now, you and I might have seen that coming a mile away, but the move seemed to have rocked the corporations back on their heels.

What did they think was going to happen?

The corps, in their wisdom, seem to have forgotten that the writer-producer-director types are actually writers!  Nearly all of those guys started as writers, and most of them only moved into the higher-profile jobs to ensure that the stories they wrote would get up on screen.  (The higher pay for being a producer-director probably didn't hurt, either.)  So, when push came to shove, these high-profile creators -- not surprisingly -- remembered their roots and took to the pickets with their brethren.

Good for them.  That's the way strikes are supposed to work.  That's how unions make the little guys equal to the faceless, heartless corporations.

With any luck, that kind of solidarity will help the strike end soon.  Rumors tonight are that the sides are close to reaching an agreement.

I hope it's true.  I'm really looking forward to the next seasons of Lost and 24.  And could anyone see Battlestar Galactica: Razor and not pine for the next season to begin?

Phew!  I thought this was going to be a short blog but it's turned into a whole season.  Writers!  (Sometimes we just don't know when to shut up.)

Time to watch some well-written TV shows.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Post Script - Obviously Not Live Journal

Well, the last post from ICFLM speculated on where I would blog -- with LJ being one of the top contenders. Since then, though, I discovered that not only did I have a Blogspot account, but also that it and its software integrate well with other things I'm already doing. (Google's small attempt to rule the world.) So, here I am, and here I'm likely to stay -- barring any huge endorsements from some other blogging service.

Oh, hey! Just added a poll about the ICFLM film fest at the bottom of the blog. Check it out and vote!

It Came from Lake Michigan Film Festival - Day 3 Finale

The last of the ICFLM posts.


Sunday was the shortest day of the festival, and I decided beforehand that I'd spend nearly all of the day in the vendor area.  Kendall quickly scheduled a day full of activities and vanished into the screening rooms.  Unfortunately, he left his keyboard locked (and me without a password), so I couldn't live blog as I'd intended to.  Oh, well.  So I just had to have fun instead.

The day began with our new friend Heather moving her space from the "clown room" (the facility has a clown museum) into an empty space opposite my table.  Director Mike Conway dropped by, as did Rogue Cinema guru Duane L. Martin -- -- and of course Mike and Carrie still occupied the booth next door.  (Many thanks to them for looking after our stuff, especially when I accidentally left the laptop unattended during a seminar!)

The last day of a show is usually pretty relaxed, with a lot of time devoted to socializing and trading products with other vendors and guests.

Sunday got off to a good start when model/actress Sofiya Mina Smirnova -- -- treated everyone in the room to brunch.  Food always seems problematic at these kind of events, and when free food and coffee shows up, it's a real blessing.  Thanks Sofiya!

A couple of people dropped by the booth to pick up books.  One was Kentuckian Nic Brown of -- a very nice guy.  (Let me know how you liked the book!)

I also had a nice talk with two of the Living Dead Girls, Shamika and Julie -- who are a kind of zombie dance troop.  They have me half convinced that I should make Live Journal the main page for my blogs.  (What do the rest of you think?)  It was also nice when they were shocked to discover I began working professionally in publishing in 1980.  Us "old" guys like it when pretty girls think we're younger than we really are.  (Of course, I'm still very young at heart.)

I finally remembered to bring a camera on the last day, so if I end up doing a blog that supports pictures, y'all will be able to see what many of my new friends look like.  (The picture where Heather towers above Kendall and me -- did I mention she's 6' 1" in her stocking feet? -- is pretty amazing.)

The best part of the day was getting to trade merchandise with my new friends.  I'm particularly happy to have copies of two of Heather's films -- Samurai Terror, and The Awakening.  I hope she enjoys the books she got from me as much as I know I'll like the flicks.

Ending an event like this always brings a mixture of relief and sadness -- it's hard to say goodbye to friends, but it's always nice to get out of the hustle and bustle and back home.  Kendall had another great day of movies and seminars -- and I hope to persuade him to blog about the whole experience some time.

I plan to return to the festival next year, though I'm not sure I'll have a booth again.  Maybe I'll just go and watch films.  :-)

This year's ICFLM was a great step forward from last year's premier show.  Any troubles they had can be attributed largely to growing pains, and I'm sure that the third annual show will be even better.  Big thanks to Wayne Clingman, Bill Zenobia and all the other people who worked so hard to make this festival a success.

See you next year!

And, hey, if you've gotten these bulletins and aren't already a member, please consider signing up for my main Yahoo group.  Details can be found at --

And, lucky me, I got home just in time to see the Red Sox win the World Series.  Considering I spent the first 40+ years of my life thinking my beloved Sox would never win, a 2nd title is another amazing and unexpected gift.

Hope to see you all soon.

-- Steve Sullivan, October 29, 2007

It Came From Lake Michigan - Day 2

Another reprint of a recent blog.


Not quite live today.

Last time, I neglected to mention meeting gonzo journalist Joel R. Bolyard, whose business card describes him as "Executive Dork" at -- nice guy; check out his site.

I also didn't mention the very nice couple in the booth next door who were our "cell mates" for this festival. Mike and Carrie make horror-themed and custom glassware, and they're about the best "neighbors" a convention-goer could ask for. Check out their work at

Saturday began with a pair of mysterious hooded figures haunting our not-yet-open booth and browsing at the plastic pumpkin full of crawlies that I'd brought as gifts for attending children. Turned out they weren't ghouls at all, but people from the inner earth, promoting their movie from Cosmic Control Productions that evening. More about that later.

One of the trickiest things of the festival proved -- as I'd feared -- the task of juggling being at the booth, meeting people and selling things, with actually being able to see films. Early in the day, I decided to hang out at the booth, but that proved the proverbial "best-laid plans." My son, Kendall, quickly planned out his day of movies and film-making seminars, I decided to play catch as catch can.

(If we're lucky, maybe I can convince him to do some blogging on what we saw.)

I snuck out of the booth briefly to catch a bit of a program by Uwe Boll, only to discover -- to my chagrin -- that the entry to the hall was actually _behind_ the screen and Uwe and, to make embarrassing matters worse, they were filming his speech, too. Still, it was a fun listen after I crept back into a corner near the door and out of camera range.

More time at the table introduced me to some of the people who'd worked on Backwoods Blood Bath (formerly Black Hodag) -- an interesting looking film that (again, sadly) my cheapo admission didn't cover attending. Effects specialist Joseph C. Mistretta was very nice, and I look forward to seeing his work in the film.

Meeting and greeting folks segued into my big event of the day, a panel on Sex vs. Violence in horror films, hosted by me and Elske McCain. Elske -- -- and I had never met before and, as it turned out, no one had told her about the panel. Still, she's a pro dancer and Troma (films) girl, so she took it all in stride once I tracked her down, and the two of us did an hour-long panel on a subject near and dear to our hearts. Apparently, despite the lack of preparation, we did well, because, during the rest of the festival, numerous people mentioned to both of us how much they liked the seminar. (At least part of it was filmed, and maybe I'll get my hands on a copy some day.)

After that, I intended to sit in the booth for a while, but when Mike Conway of Midnight Sun Entertainment came by drumming up a crowd for his lecture on cheap special effects, I couldn't turn him down. After all, I remembered that I'd met him the previous night; he was the director of two films featuring my new friend Heather Lei Guzzetta. So, I joined my son in Mike's class, and was entertained by the cool things Mike pulled off with a rubber hand, a SFX cloning tool, and an old van and a 4x4 (not all in the same movie). Mike's next film, Exile, features Heather as an android -- and my son and I can't wait for its release. Here's another of his films:

As I came out, I saw Heather at her booth, but as she was busy, I didn't want to distract her from her fans and figured we'd catch up later. And we almost did.

I ran into some more friends attending the gaming convention at the same facility (Hi Anne, Rick, Emily, and Elenore!) and made my way back to the dealer area until evening while Kendall caught more films and classes.

As six o'clock neared, the underground dwellers returned and we were compelled to follow them to their film showing. On the way, we ran into Heather who said, "Why didn't you come see me?" I said, "I did, right after Mike's seminar, but you were busy." She was going to dinner, so we vowed to catch up tomorrow. Back to the strange underground dwellers.

Last year, their film Diabolical Tales (part 1) won the SciFi prize at the festival. This year, the same fiends from Cosmic Control productions -- -- brought parts 2 and 3.

And they were great fun. Part homage/part spoof of 1950s low-budget films, Diabolical Tales tell the story of the attempts by a lost race of underground dwellers to take over the surface world -- and the struggles of valiant government agents to stop them. Shot with volunteers for a total cost of about $1200 (if I remember right -- a total for all three 45+ minute installments), all three films are a testament to just what a determined if underfunded filmmaker -- Brandon Kane -- can do. Kendall the budding movie auteur was favorably impressed, and all the people involved (even the underground dwellers) were very kind to my family.

We thought that was the end of our day, when convention director (and former zombie) Wayne Clingman ran up to us and said, "Are you sticking around for a while?" It seemed the last seminar of the day was shaping up to be severely under-attended. Not only that, but a snafu on the program hadn't properly described the session -- it was really a seminar on shooting an SFX movie entirely against green screen.

We ended up going as a favor to Wayne, but the program was _exactly_ the kind of thing we'd come to the festival to see. (Well, aside from the actual horror/SF films.)

The presentation was by AJ Goodwin and the other good folks at Lightning Rod Studios -- -- a Milwaukee film production house. Their seminar detailed how they'd shot an entire fantasy movie in their studio using greenscreen, and how to make a film look bigger than its budget. And, for four guys working part time -- they all have day jobs -- this is pretty amazing stuff. Miniscule budget turning in work that could easily be a feature movie on SciFi -- or maybe even in the theaters.

Watch for Carnivorous coming out soon -- though they're not sure in what venues yet. This group, too, was amazingly kind to me and Kendall, too. We hope to visit their studio sometime in the future.

The Lightning Rod presentation was the end of our film-going day, and after giving our new friends a couple of my books, my son and I went home for some well-deserved sleep.

News on the final day of the festival soon.

Go Sox!

It Came from Lake Michigan Film Festival 2007

To kick off my new Blog, I'm posting my reports on the ICFLM Film Fest, 2007.  The first post is from Saturday morning, about the first day of the fest.


Trying a bit of live reporting from the film fest.

Bigger venue this year -- up in Milwaukee in the Tommy Thompson center at State Fair park -- and better organized, though it's still obviously a young festival.

Plenty of films in rotation in three rooms this year.  Plus another room for lectures -- I'm doing a panel at 1 on Sex vs. Violence in the movies.  I have no idea what I"m going to say.  I haven't met my co-host yet.  We'll see if anyone shows up.

I'm the token author at the con, so here on Saturday morning, I still have no idea how it will all work out.  Not much business yesterday, but I had some cool conversations and met some interesting people.

Peter Kokh from the Moon Society -- -- chatted with me about the possibility of colonizing the moon and Mars.  He has a really need diorama for an example, and is happy to talk about the old space missions, future space missions, and where the current version of NASA is going wrong.

Heather Lei Guzetta is an up-and-coming actress who has appeared in the horror films Exile, Rise of the Ghosts, The Awakening, and Samurai Terror.   At 6'1" she's hard to miss.  She's also both pretty and personable.  About the only thing she doesn't have going for her -- so far as I see on her handout -- is a web site.  I need to mention that to her.

The trouble with having a vending table at the festival is that it's keeping me from seeing films -- which is the best reason to come here.  My son caught a handful during the day yesterday, and he and I caught a couple together last night.

The Medium was fairly good short about a man who is inexplicably drawn to a deserted theater.  Turns out the theater is haunted and the man is the medium of the film's title.  The explanation of the haunting and how it tied in to the owner of the theater was good, and the acting was fair to good.  Though the editing was fine, the camera work was a little murky at times -- and sometimes didn't follow the action well enough.  Overall, though, I enjoyed it.

The Tree is another short film from Wisconsin -- it even included a thanks to a car dealer we pass on our way into town.  The film tells the story of a family who inherits an old farm house.  Little do they know that the huge, old tree in the yard can induce psychic visions.  Despite a somewhat predictable ending, this film was very strong overall.  The technical aspects were all excellent.  (I had worried at the start, which had a long and complex credit sequence, that all the money might have been spent up front.)  The thing that made The Tree stand out for me was the acting -- which was uniformly excellent.  Good actors are hard to find for small films, but the producers and director of this flick did great in that regard.  The main characters hearken back a bit to James Brolin in The Amityville Horror -- but the part calls for that, and the actor does well without taking the performance over the top.  Even the 7-year-old actress was good -- and anyone who's seen The Phantom Menace knows how hard it is to find a good kid actor.  Definitely check this one out if it comes to a festival or cable station near you.

Organization has greatly improved this year -- though this is obviously still a young festival.  While there are signs outside the film rooms now, telling what's showing next, there aren't enough signs actually pointing the way to the rooms, which are on 2 levels of the complex.  Also, the entryways for the film rooms tend to be on the same side as the screening.  This morning, that resulted in me walking into an in-progress film screening with director Uwe Boll ( Blood Raine).  They were filming the after-film session, and I found myself trapped behind Boll -- between him and the screen.

Having the screens on the opposite end from the entryways would allow people to come and go from the showings as they please.  Also, rearranging the room that Boll was in would mean that people going to his screenings would have to move through the vendor area -- which would be nice for all of us with tables here.

That's it for now.  My seminar is up in a few minutes.  Wish me Luck!


Trying to expand my audience beyond my Yahoo groups and occasional drop-ins, I decided it was time to try a more "traditional" blog -- in the mold of those by my friends Jeff Grubb, Matt Forbeck, and, Jerry Novick, and Steven Schend. Stay tuned as I put up convention updates, new book announcments, and various ramblings. Be sure to check out my web pages, too -- -and- -as well as less-frequently updated sites like and, of course, the granddaddy of them all --

Thanks for signing aboard!