Book review: Christopher Buehlman’s The Suicide Motor Club bares its fangs

Suicide Motor Club by Christopher Buehlman

Vampires. Ugh. So tired, so overdone. So sparkly or friendly or stilted or cleanly sexed-up for the CW. You never want to read another vampire novel as long as you live, amirite?

Well, you’re gonna want to read this one.

With his fifth novel, The Suicide Motor Club, St. Pete’s own Christopher Buehlman — a World Fantasy Award-nominated wordsmith whose first foray into vampire territory, 2014’s The Lesser Dead, earned a Shirley Jackson Award nom — breathes new, er, undeath into one of horror’s oldest bogeys. It’s a book as thrilling and dangerous as the classic muscle cars that form the central motif of its story, their amoral power and potential for mayhem an apt reflection of Buehlman’s monsters.

While on a road-trip vacation across the wide open spaces of the mid-’60s American West, Judith Lamb loses both her young son and her marriage to a horrifying random encounter. In its aftermath — and as her attackers continue their chaotic spree along the highways and backroads — Judith, whose life has always included tenuous relationships with both religion and the paranormal, attempts to find meaning in her circumstances by joining a convent. A stranger soon visits, however, to offer her not only that meaning and a chance at closure for her own personal tragedy, but also an opportunity to do God’s work by helping to rid the world of a secret evil.

And so Judith throws in with a unique yet nicely Stoker-esque band of Fearless Vampire Hunters, setting herself on a collision course with the forces that ripped her life apart and wondering if what she truly seeks is righteousness or revenge.

Read the rest at Creative Loafing

Cross roads: An interview with comedian David Cross


Diehard comedy fans and mainstream entertainment consumers alike have seen plenty of David Cross in recent years.

In IFC’s out-there comedy The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret. Reunited with collaborators from cult-fave HBO sketch series Mr. Show with Bob and David for Netflix’s spiritually kindred new W/Bob and David. In small roles in big shows like Modern FamilyLaw & Order: Criminal Intent and Community. In the Alvin & The Chipmunks movies.

And, of course, as Tobias Fünke in Arrested Development.

One place we haven’t seen Cross in a while, however, is on tour, delivering the alternately absurd and cuttingly provocative stand-up that made him one of the late ’90s/early aughts alternative comedy scene’s most visible and polarizing figures. Those familiar with the more politically charged bits from timely, visceral live albums like Shut Up You Fucking Baby! and It’s Not Funnymight’ve been tempted to think there wasn’t enough wrong with Obama’s Generation of Hope to inspire the ire of a comic who once suggested George W. Bush might go down in history as America’s worst president ever. But the truth is much simpler — Cross has had his plate full handling the jobs mentioned above, and many more besides.

“I have not heard that perception, but if that is the perception that’s false,” said Cross during a phone conversation with CL. “First of all, I’m not a political comic, I never was … but I also have been doing stand-up, and plenty of it, during the Obama administration, I just haven’t gone on tour, because I’ve been busy, you know?

“I didn’t stop doing stand-up once a black Democrat got into office. That’s crazy.”

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Retro futuro: A Q&A with Intergalactic Nemesis creator Jason Neulander

Intergalactic Nemesis

It’s a comic! It’s a radio play! It’s an old-school adventure serial!

Actually, The Intergalactic Nemesis: Target Earth is all of that and more. Originally conceived as an audio experience, this tale of Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Molly Sloan’s adventures criss-crossing the planet and even traveling to outer space in order to stop the invasion of the Sludge Monsters from the planet Zygon (yep) is coming to Tampa as a unique hybrid entertainment: the story is performed onstage by voice actors accompanied by a pianist and foley artist creating music and sound effects live in the moment, all of it staged in front of giant, vibrant comic-book panel-style artwork that follows the plot.

The show stops at the Straz for one night only this Thursday, and promises a visual and aural spectacle unlike anything else hitting the stage this season. CL spoke via telephone with co-creator, co-writer and artistic director Jason Neulander about how the whole unlikely thing came together.

The Intergalactic Nemesis began as radio-style audio experience, right?
[Laughs] That’s a very fancy way of putting it. Yeah, it was originally done as a radio drama, recorded on a four-track recorder to cassette tapes 20 years ago this year.

How did you become interested in adventure serials?
I wasn’t a radio serial listener, but the idea of an adventure serial was straight-up in my wheelhouse when my buddy Ray [Colgan, co-writer] came to me with the idea of making a sci-fi radio play. I was 7 years old when Star Wars came out, and I was 11 or 12 when Raiders [of the Lost Ark] came out. But also with my dad, I have a very clear memory of being 9 or 10, watching Flash Gordon on Saturday mornings with him. I always loved the kind of mid-20th century … American sci-fi short stories. Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, any number of those guys.

Just a couple of years prior, I had founded this little theater Salvage Vanguard Theatre in Austin, and that company’s mission was to produce new plays that were sort of redefining what theater could be. Our first couple of years were produced in a rock club here in town called Electric Lounge. So the idea of trying this new old medium in an environment that made no sense, [recording it] in a coffee shop in Austin, made perfect sense to me, so I jumped on it, and here we are.

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Fiction: How Brutus The Farting Dog Saved The McNallys

Except for Brutus, the McNallys were a pretty normal family.

They lived in a big house that was still more pretty than it was old, set back from the street on a large, shady yard. There was Mister McNally, who wore a tie but not a jacket to his job, and Missus McNally, who worked part-time for the local school board and made excellent spaghetti and meatballs. There was Calliope, who was eleven and could beat up most of the boys in her class. There was Asher, who was eight and loved books and action figures more than anything.

And then there was Brutus.

Brutus didn’t look like a Brutus. When you think Brutus, you think of a big dog, a powerful dog, maybe a nasty dog, definitely an ugly dog. But Brutus was little, and cuddly, and cute. Brutus never barked at nothing, or jumped up on the guests, or peed on the linoleum, or chewed the family’s shoes, or chased Missus McNally’s cat Russell around, or ate Russell’s poop out of the litter box.

What Brutus did, was fart.
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Life As We Blow It #90: The outrage factory


Everything is outrageous. Outrage has become our default setting.

It’s exhausting, really, being outraged all the time. What’s worse, it blunts the impact of outrage. These days, that shit’s like the dollar in 1930: barely valuable enough to be worth churning out.

Of course, there are things by which we should rightly be outraged. Many of them, in fact.

Shark Week? Not so much.

Read the rest at Creative Loafing