Thursday, 31 July 2008

Turok: Son of Stone (2008)



With Ray Harryhausen's Valley of the Gwangi, we saw cowboys and dinosaurs, which is a pretty awesome combination. However, it kind of left Indians high-and-dry. So that Native Americans aren't left out of the time-tossed mix-up, Classic Media released a direct-to-video animated version of the original comic series Turok: Son of Stone.

Rather than work from the more modern reimaginings of Turok, including the recent super-futuristic combat video game, this animated film goes back to the original story of the American Indian Turok who discovers a Lost Land where dinosaurs and cavemen run amok. That is not to say that it is not executed with a more modern sensibility as well. For example, great care was taken with a respectful portrayal of Native Americans, to having cultural consultants and a primarily Native American voice cast. Of course, that is also buried beneath buckets of blood, which also reflects on these modern sensibilities.

The film focuses on Turok, a young man filled with a primal fury unleashed during an altercation with a neighbouring tribe gone horribly wrong. Cast out of his own tribe, he disappears into the shadows until the son of the chief Turok killed returns to wage war. With his dying breath, Turok's brother asks him to look after his wife and son, which in turn leads him on a hunt of the villainous Chichak all the way to the Lost Land.

The Lost Land is the quintessential valley where dinosaurs and other prehistoric monster reign supreme. Here is a part of the film not updated: this is exactly the striking landscape of bubbling volcanoes, trogloditic cavemen, red skies and thundering lizards seen in comics, films and textbooks of the 1950's and 60's, where creatures seem to exist for few purposes besides attacking our heroes in rapid succession. It is also the land that mirrors the savagery in Turok's own heart. As one of the film's producers phrased it, the Lost Land is a place where he meets monsters that are bigger than the one he thought he was.

The quality of this direct-to-video release is comparable to latter television animation long the lines of The Batman and the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe revival. That isn't bad in itself, though one finds themselves wishing that it had the kind of budget given to Japanese direct-to-video shows, comparable to a feature film. One also cannot stress enough that the warnings of graphic violence given on the package are deadly serious.

Where the film excels is as an exploration of Turok, the character. He is not merely a foil for dinosaur fights, but an actual character insofar as one can be explored in a high-test film of this sort. He provides an interesting exploration of society and violence. There is even food for examination in that his ultimate reintegration into civilization only comes in the context of a world that allows him to unleash his inner, very violent, demons.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

The Valley of Gwangi (1969)



Cowboys and dinosaurs.

It doesn't really matter what I say after that. If you want to see a movie with cowboys and dinosaurs, it doesn't matter how good or bad it is... You will want to see The Valley of Gwangi.

That said, it is still an enjoyable slice of Ray Harryhausen's patented Dynamation technique. A wild west show is travelling south of the border when into its possession comes a miraculous miniature horse that shouldn't be: the extinct Eohippus. Unfortunately for the travelling show, a scheming scientist unites with superstitious natives to free the Eohippus, resulting in a chase back to the valley where the evil spirit "Gwangi" lives. The Gwangi, an Allosaurus, is brought back to civilization and... well... the usual ensues.

In fact, for a mid-century film in either genre of Sci-Fi or Westerns, things run pretty typically. We're treated to dinosaur battles in glorious stop-motion, mixed-up gender relations and the early death of the swarthy halfbreed betrayers of the protagonists. It's all in the combination of cowboys and dinosaurs, including the spectacular mid-point roping of the Allosaurus that is alone worth the price of admission. It continues up to what is, to my knowledge, the only time in cinema history where a dinosaur masquerading as an evil spirit is captured inside of a burning cathedral church, make of the symbolism what one will.

It is also worth noting, as a point of historical interest, that The Valley of Gwangi has roots going further back than Ray Harryahusen. The concept of "Gwangi" was originally developed by Harryahusen's mentor, the great Willis O'Brien. O'Brien was the stop-motion animation pioneer behind the classics The Lost World (1925) and King Kong (1933), and looked to realize this fantastic story of cowboys and dinosaurs. Unfortunately it was never produced, and we can only imagine how the scene would have appeared in glorious black and white. Nevertheless, Harryhausen used his clout in the wake of his string of box office hits to see "Gwangi" through.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

"Amber Ships"

1.


In the summer of 1880, a number of things went wrong in young Maria Verbova's life -- first, she had lost her job as a seamstress in St. Petersburg premiere atelier due to a serious mishap involving hand-made lace, ill-timed nap, and a cup of especially strong tea. In addition, the querulous old woman she was renting her room by Fontanka from had most inflexible ideas about paying rent on certain dates.

Maria realized that without any job prospects she would have to go back to the village from which she came -- a tiny hamlet not a hundred miles from St Petersburg, called Tarasovo. She had spent the last of her money on St Petersburg Courier, a cup of tea and a bagel in a sandwich shop by her house, and read the newspaper looking for possible sources of employment.

There was no demand for seamstresses -- ever since last summer when new automata put most sewing shops out of business; only airship mechanics seemed to be in any real demand. Maria sighed and turned her attention to the advertisements for lower qualifications: even though stocking frames and steam looms put many weavers out of work, loading spools of thread still allowed one to make a living -- if one could call the living the pitiful existence of the grey and famished figures that walked along the embankment in the grey predawn, heading for the windowless factories lining the banks of Neva.

She was almost finished with her modest breakfast when she saw a wanted notice that offered a modest amount of hope: "Wanted: a person proficient with sewing needle and knowledgeable of appropriate machinery. Inquire in person at 17 Nevsky Prospect." Maria swallowed the last of her tea and decided that a modicum of hope was better than no hope at all.

2.


The building Maria found at the indicated address was a dilapidated warehouse, and she wondered how a building so run down, so washed and bleached by the rains and wind managed to remain so close to the city's center. The river silvered nearby, with an occasional brass submarine skull surfacing by the embankment, and Maria averted her gaze – she always found these metal underwater monsters menacing.
She entered the cool warehouse, its empty walls bouncing back the echo of her footfalls. "Anyone here?"

She looked around the interior – a hollowed out cathedral, a solid block of empty space topped with a concave ceiling, cross-hatched by the multitude of sunbeams falling through the high barred windows.

She took another step inside, her heart beating harder. Turn away, walk away, a small voice of self-preservation sung inside her, taut like the stays of her corset.
That would be silly, she reminded herself. It was just an empty warehouse.

There was a sound of footsteps behind her and she twirled, to see only another woman her age, dressed cleanly but modestly, her serious grey eyes looking over Maria with suspicion.

"Anna Demidova," the woman introduced herself. "I'm here about the job?"

"So am I," Maria said, and offered her hand for a shake as she introduced herself. "But it seems empty."

"Should we wait?"

Maria shrugged. "I don't expect that either of us has other engagements."

They waited awkwardly side by side, as Maria studied the woman's outfit out of the corner of her eye – a simple bonnet and the clean lines of the bodice of her dress were too well made for cheap checkered fabric, much like Maria's own. She eyed the precise stitching of the cuff, white machine lace against the blue and grey checkers.

"You sew well," Anna said. Apparently she too was studying the competition.

Maria was about to answer when a new sound attracted her attention. There were whispers in the empty building, coarse voices. "I don't see anyone else," one voice said. "All right," another answered. "These gotta be good enough."

At that, there was a rumbling of corrugated metal, and long sheets of steel slid over the doors and windows, trapping Maria and Anna inside.

Maria felt like a pigeon, panicked, ready to fling herself against the walls and the metal of her sudden cage. She struck her fist against the metal covering the door, until the whole warehouse rung like a bell.

Then there was a man. He appeared through a door hidden so well Maria never knew it was there – until a square of black yawned at her from the wall opposite of the entrance, and a tall figure stepped through. He raised his hand and there was smoke; Maria thought she saw Anna fall, and then her own eyes closed.

3.


They were taken to the shore of the Baltic Sea, a long stretch of pale fine sand, the sea so shallow that Maria and others waded knee-deep, for what felt like miles. They were seamstresses and carpenters, engineers and workers who could not get jobs and were desperate enough to have followed the most obscure leads – who were stupid enough with hope to be lured into an empty warehouse, and who now worked, sunrise to sunset, picking pieces of amber from the sand. It washed ashore and lumped under bare feet, it glittered in the waves like large yellow eyes behind a wave of tears.

They slept under a sailcloth canopy, adjacent to the factory: all the amber went there, and some of the men whispered at night that it was taken to build submarines – the heated and softened amber was used to cast gears and piping of the engines, the knobs and the levers that directed their movement. At night, the factory stood unguarded, and Maria and Anna sometimes snuck inside, to look at the predatory brass bodies, so heavy and immobile on the factory floor, so unlike the sleek shapes prowling the surf while they worked. The machinery never stopped, and the noise inside the factory was deafening.

"We could steal one of them," a young engineer named Volodya proposed one night, after the sun had set and the guards retired to their barracks. "Sure, there are others in the water, but it's a better chance than running from the woods." He motioned away from the sea, his hand white in the darkness like a fluttering moth, toward the narrow strip of pine and scrub that separated them from home. Maria cringed as she remembered the first night, when a few men decided to run for the woods. They made it just past the guards' barracks, when a spray of bullets and slow rumbles of land mines sent them tumbling into the sand that slowly changed from white to dark, as dark as the night around them. The next morning, the survivors were allowed to take the clothes from those dead – shreds and sleeves stiff with blood; they laundered them in the surf, and Maria and Anna and all the other seamstresses used the remains for repairing clothes, for making a small patchwork jackets for an old man who had nothing but a shirt and who shivered horribly in the night.

"The sea is dangerous too," Maria said, and Anna nodded. "There has to be another way."

The engineers gave them sideways looks and said nothing, and Maria could feel their contempt for her and Anna, for the seamstresses who knew nothing of submarines and had only a vague idea of what the amber they collected all day was for. Maria nudged Anna, and Anna smiled back – they would not forget.

4.


There were more escape attempts – people tried for the woods. The engineers snuck into the factory one night and pushed a submarine into water. It floated, battered by the waves, rolling so slightly from side to side.

Maria wished to warn them, to tell them that it would be dangerous – but they were already pushing off, laughing softly. It was so dark that there was only the moon road silvering across the sea, and black streaks crossing it – men pushing the floating submarine away from the flat-bottomed surf. There was purring of engines, and Anna held Maria's hand in the dark. There were splashing noises and banging on metal, and the two of them squeezed their eyes shut, their fingers grinding into each other, bone against bone, and they did not move from their sand beds under the canopy until it was morning and more clothes – wet, heavy with salt – waited for them. The nights were getting warmer in June.

5.


After a few weeks as the days were growing shorter and nights stretched and elongated, twisting like coils in the guts of the dead submarines in the warehouse. The people had grown fewer and the guards talked that soon they would have to go back to the large cities, Moscow and St Petersburg, to poach new ones. They laughed about it in the darkness, as Maria and Anna listened, curled up in the growing pile of rags that used to belong to their compatriots.

There were the seamstresses and just one engineer, Andrey, a boy with soft hands and voice, eyes large like a girl's, who spoke with his gaze downcast.

"The submarine engine could be taken out and put into something else," he whispered to Maria one night.

"We don't have anything else," Anna said.

Maria thought of the heavy lumbering shapes, fat sausages in the sky, carrying baskets and spewing steam from the engines mounted on the baskets' backs. "We can sew," she said. "We have enough clothes and the canopy here to make a balloon."

"The air will escape from it through the fabric," Andrey said. "Unless we soak it in resin."

"There's plenty of pines here," Anna said, her voice smiling in the dark.

They worked in secret - when they did not gather amber, those who could sew did, sitting closely together so that the guards could not see that they all were working on the same large shape, and those who couldn't wandered between the trees, scraping long golden tears of pine resin -- future amber -- off the stunted trunks, twisted and whipped by the sea wind into shapes like dragons.

They melted the resin with the warmth of their hands and breath, and impregnated the fabric, already stiff with saltwater, until it was heavy and smelled like the pine forest on a July day. At night, Maria got the seamstresses together and they sewed until sun rose again.

They made ropes, sturdy and strong, and weaved them into a net to hold together a half-finished submarine -- an engine and half a hull, hollow like a boat – and a long, misshapen balloon made of resin and dead men's clothes.

6.


The night the airship was ready was the darkest night in August. By then, all the rigging and the blimp itself were finished, masked as a pile of rags under the canopy. Maria's fingers were permanently pruned from so much time in cold water and covered in healing scabs from the needle – she poked herself when it was too dark to see too many times to count.

Inside the factory, in its constant grinding and whirring, they started the engine and let the escaping hot air fill the blimp and it rose, wobbly and uncertain, black against the black sky, pulling the ropes taut. They climbed into the hull and severed the ropes, and waited for the wind to lift them over the Baltic Sea that phosphoresced below, shallow and warm like a pool. There were shouts and gunshots below, but they were quickly drowned out by the chugging of an engine, and the airship arced west and north, for the coast of Finland. Maria hoped to never see another piece of amber as long as she lived.

END


"Amber Ships" © 2008 Ekaterina Sedia.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

The Lone Ranger (1966-1968)



Almost a full decade after the end of both the Lone Ranger's radio and television programmes, he returned to the small screen in animated form. This series ran from 1966 to 1968, lasting for 30 episodes each comprised of three seven-minute segments, two devoted to the Lone Ranger and Tonto and one devoted to the solo adventures of Tonto himself.

Given that it was the late 1960's and much water had passed under the bridge since the era of mid-century Westerns, the animated series sought to breathe new life into the masked rider by bringing in some wonderful and bizarre Science Fiction elements. A perfect example of this can be seen in the episode "The Monster of Scavenger Crossing", which pits the Lone Ranger against a band of hook-handed, peg-legged pirates sinking Mississippi riverboats with their Nautilus-style submarine:



Captain Scavenger would return again as "The Prairie Pirate" by making use of a windwagon. Tonto would face off against the "Snow Monster" and the "Nightmare in Whispering Pine" - being a town of mechanical dummies ruled over by an insane genius - while the duo would combat foes like the mysterious, robot spider-wielding "Cult of the Black Widow". The odd misadventures only ended in 1968, to be followed up by a Filmation animated series in the 1980's.

The quality of the animation was terrible, but it is easily made up for by the furious imagination at work in blending the Lone Ranger with concepts from contemporaneous shows like The Wild Wild West.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

The Lone Ranger

Come back with us into the thrilling days of yesteryear... and into the world of one of the greatest of the 1930's Pulp heroes: the Lone Ranger.



The 1920's and 30's were a halcyon age for the creation of heroes. Something fertile in the imagination of the era led to a colorful array of characters like Zorro, Tarzan, Superman, The Shadow, Buck Rogers, Batman and the Lone Ranger splashing across pulp magazines, projecting from old time radio and flickering across the silver screen in serialized form. The best of these have lingered in our collective memories, and the Lone Ranger stands tall as the greatest character of the Wild West. It is even to the point where the William Tell Overture instantly recalls the cry of "Hi-yo Silver, away!"

The legend of the Lone Ranger began on January 30th, 1933, with the first of an astonishing 2,956 episodes, finally ending in 1956. In that time, he spread out into a cross-cultural phenomenon that included movie serials in the 1930's and the famous television series of the 1950's. The Lone Ranger character also spun-off another hero, being his latter day great-nephew the Green Hornet. He had several incarnations in animation and comic strips, including a much-lauded comic book currently published by Dynamite Entertainment. The next to take up the mask and pearl-handled pistols is the Disney company, for their next great co-production with Jerry Bruckheimer.

It took some time, over the course of the radio series, to work out the origins and legend of the Lone Ranger. What began as a haphazard drama was slowly and surely developed into a baptismal origin myth worthy of a legend. The official story is that the Reid brothers, a family of Texas Rangers, were pursuing Butch Cavendish and his Hole in the Wall Gang into a secluded valley. Betrayed by another Ranger, the Reids were gunned down and left for dead. A wandering Native American named Tonto happened across the bloody battleground and found but one of the Rangers still alive... His own childhood friend, John Reid. Nursing John back to health, the two pledged over six graves - five full and one empty - to hunt down Cavendish and all outlaws who endanger life on the frontier. John Reid did die that day, and became the living embodiment of justice known only by his mask and the silver bullets he used.



Why silver bullets? To remind himself that life is precious, and like the precious metal, it should never be wasted. That ethic, like the rest of the Lone Ranger's creed, can account for much of his enduring popularity. He is not some rogue vigilante wantonly gunning down whoever crosses him, but a principled fighter for justice in all its meanings:
I believe.....
That to have a friend, a man must be one.
That all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world.
That God put the firewood there, but that every man must gather and light it himself.
In being prepared physically, mentally, and morally to fight when necessary for that which is right.
That a man should make the most of what equipment he has.
That 'this government of the people, by the people, and for the people' shall live always.
That men should live by the rule of what is best for the greatest number.
That sooner or later...somewhere...somehow...we must settle with the world and make payment for what we have taken.
That all things change but truth, and that truth alone, lives on forever.
In my Creator, my country, my fellow man.

With any legend, it is always a bit of fun to go back to the source. Click on the cover below, hosted by Kiddie Records Weekly, to download an album version of the Masked Rider's origin saga.



However, we can still go back to those thrilling days of yesteryear and the Old Time Radio, listening to the adventures of the Lone Ranger through the magic of the OTR.Network.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Wild Wild West (1999)

1999's Wild Wild West, starring Will Smith, Kevin Kline, Kevin Branagh and Salma Hayeck, is one of those oddities that tended to shame aficionados of Victorian Sci-Fi. On the one hand, it isn't exactly the most brilliant piece of genre ever put to film. On the other, it was, for an extended period of time, the most ready and accessible example of the genre. If you had to explain what Scientific Romances were to someone who asked, and had already exhausted the examples of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, you might have said, as many of us did, "this is a bad example, but y'know Wild Wild West? Like that." Compared to some films that have come out since, like the dismal feature film rendition of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Wild Wild West looks like Oscar material.

The movie isn't so bad once one gets into the proper headspace to sit back and enjoy it. Don't go in expecting a brilliant - or even mediocre - social commentary like the Victorian Sci-Fi adaptations of the Atomic Age. Don't expect brilliant acting as in The Prestige or other "deep" movies. Don't even expect the glaring anachronisms to be made up for by dazzling cinematography, as in Moulin Rouge!

Will Smith plays Will Smith playing an Army cowboy, make no mistake about that. The man can act, if Six Degrees of Separation is any indication. He just doesn't act here, where he's the Fresh Prince of the Wild Wild West. Salma Hayeck provides the female objectification, and was never anything but, as demonstrated by the camera panning down to said organ on many occasions. After a brush with the genre in 1994's Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, Kenneth Branagh takes a break from serious acting to ham it up as the stunted evil inventor Arliss Loveless. I can't comment on Kevin Kline, since his good inventor Artimus Gordon seems just the sort of bumbling elitist he's supposed to be.

What you do get in Wild Wild West is a fast paced, summer movie with remarkably-conceived gadgets as Will Smith does to westerns what he did to alien and cop movies. Accept Will Smith, accept the cheesiness, the characters' punny names, the sexual objectification, the buddy comedy and the special effects... Sit back, enjoy the Tranatula and Hayeck's rear end, and let your brain take a break for an hour and a half.

Viewed in that light, Wild Wild West is an alright movie. One advantage is that it has about more inventive technology per pound than any other film of the genre: the trap-ridden Wanderer train, the tank, the motorized pennyfarthing and its later adaptation for air, "Bloodbath" McGrath's ear, Loveless' wheelchair/quadripod, Spider Canyon, the piston-powered magnetic disk thrower, and the showstopping Tarantula. The movie is a smorgasbord of memorable designs. In fact, the Tarantula may go down in history as one of the most memorable, alongside classics like Harper Goff's Nautilus for Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Also try to remember that Disney's undisputed classic of the genre, the number one film on every list, wasn't exactly the deepest or most straightly-played film either... Just ask Esmeralda the Seal. Just as it was a big-budget family film for its time, Wild Wild West is a big-budget summer film for its.

Everything else in the film plays out as one would expect, with traps and capers, gunfights, cutting banter between the buddies who eventually learn to accommodate each other and work as a team, neither one getting the girl and eventually riding off into the sunset. Of course they save the day just like they're supposed to, though the effect of it is a bit lost if you're not an American. The humour can be a bit ribald at times, with the various settings of brothels and the relevant mentions of African Americans' former status in the Southern US. But nothing ultimately unexpected happens, since this is a summer blockbuster after all. The fun is all in getting there. "Fun" is what this sort of film is supposed to be.

Oh yes, and because it was a Will Smith movie, it required an elaborate rap video:

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

The Great Train Robbery (1903)

Produced by Edwin S. Porter and released by the Edison company in 1903, The Great Train Robbery is regarded as a watershed in silent film. Though Europeans like Georges Méliès had been experimenting with narrative film for some time before it, The Great Train Robbery is heralded as one of the first major films to step outside the simple documentary record of everyday events to tell a contrived story. It is also notable for stringing this narrative through more elaborate transitions, editing and on-set moving camera work than had been seen in previous "tableau" style pictures. These make The Great Train Robbery one of the indispensible films of American cinema history, and I hope you enjoy its full 12 minute feature length presentation here...

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Advertising the Calgary Stampede

The Calgary Stampede has a long history of colourful advertizing. Even to this day, the unveiling of the coming year's Stampede poster is a substantial commercial event. To conclude our week in honour of the Stampede, here are a few favorite posters from that first decade of the festival's existence.





Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Headin' for the Calgary Stampede

It's the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth... Every July, the city of Calgary, Alberta, Canada pauses for 14 days of revelry in remembrance of its Western heritage. In 1912, American entrepreneur Guy Weadick saw the "last best west" disappearing beneath the extension of the railway, the oncoming settlers tilling the land and the great urban centres springing up on the former bald-faced prairie. The age of the free-range cowboy was drawing to a close. So Weadick, backed by the big cattle barons of the Canadian frontier, created the Stampede as a celebration of the cowboy way of life, with a rodeo and chuckwagon races, parade, midway carnival, agriculture shows, Native American village and plenty of alcohol. The Stampede continues to this day and is heralded as one of North America's - if not the world's - great festivals.

It's not the same as the smell of a barn or the taste of the flapjack, but here is a video to give you an impression of the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth:

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Bang! Howdy



If one is looking for a nice middle road between reading or watching movies about a fantastic, stream-driven march West and actually taking an expensive real-life excursion down to Arizona, USA or Alberta, Canada, finding yourself an enjoyable little online video game may fit the bill. Thankfully, that is what one finds in Bang! Howdy: "fast paced tactical strategy fun in a wacky Wild West world."


Some dramatis personae.


Perhaps they slightly overestimate how fast paced it is, since there are plenty of moments in the heat of battle where both you and your adversaries are waiting on their movement cycle recharging. Nevertheless, they haven't overestimated the fun of setting your dirgibiles and steam-tanks to rustle cattle and gun down clockwork outlaws. Unfortunately, like most of these sorts of games, you can log in for free, but if you want to really get anywhere or stock up your character, you're going to have to put out some hard cash.

If this sounds like your sort of thing, however, then head on over to Bang! Howdy.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Fiction Clemens (2008)

Weird West tales rarely get quite this weird. "Weird West", a take on the "Wild West," usually makes a fundamental level of sense. Take a standard Western scenario, throw in monsters or zombies, the Devil goin' down to Georgia, the Indian Love Call of Cthulhu, and you have a decent role-playing game or television show. The comic Fiction Clemens, written by Josh Wagner with art by Joiton, turns the whole frontier on its ear in a wibbly-wobbly world of clock-cities and cactus toothpick farms.

The story is a little complicated to try an recount here: a deadpan drifter by the name of Fiction Clemens gets caught up in a love triangle with Tiberius Kitchens, son of the Kitchens cactus toothpick tycoons, and falls in with a girl named Dune Trixie as they make their way back and forth across the plains avoiding hired guns, with a shadowy mysterious "Clockmaker" drawing together all the gears of fate. An imaginative cast of characters were developed for the three issue run of the series, sometimes sprawling out into an unintelligible breadth of storylines that eventually converge back into the singularity of the Clockmaker and his ultimate aim.

Where Wagner excels is not so much in keeping track of a sprawling cast and a bizarre plotline, but in writing up flavourful dialogue that makes Fiction Clemens such a joy to read. Accents are invariably complicated things to translate into text, yet Wagner puts in an admirable effort that is itself accented by the content of the discussions and invention of a slang vocabulary for these cowpokes and saloon girls. Whole pages are given over to hypnotic discussions on everything from Seinfeldian inanity to undergraduate philosophy.

The third issue of this series should be hitting stores this month and it is well worth picking up. Ape Entertainment is a smaller press publisher and Fiction Clemens may not be available straight off the rack. If not, ask for it. It's a Weird West tale out of left field that falls in step with some of the more original ideas in modern Scientific Romances. For more information, visit the official website at http://www.fictionclemens.org/.