I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

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Self indulgent THE GOOD THE TOUGH AND THE DEADLY journal

Monday, June 27th, 2016

tn_gdtBwarning: I had to write this down as a time capsule of my book signing experience. Read at own risk.

 

Today, like the mighty sasquatch, I live as a recluse somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. Yesterday, in the name of transparency, I was out in the open in Burbank, California, joining lower-cased author david j. moore as one of the many guests signing his gigantic coffee table book THE GOOD, THE TOUGH AND THE DEADLY: ACTION MOVIES & STARS 1960s-PRESENT.

“It’s about action stars, not action movies,” david kept telling people as he signed their books. He’d wanted a different subtitle that made that more clear. Rather than trying to catalog everything that could technically qualify as an action movie – which could end up being half super heroes and transformerses and shit – he chose to zero in on the dying art of the action star vehicle. I remember him calling me for counsel on this issue a few years ago. I don’t think I was much help, but I agreed with his eventual decision to limit it to actors who primarily or exclusively do action, and (with a few exceptions) started as martial artists or athletes. That means no to my boys Bruce and Clint, sorry to say, but yes to JCVD, Cynthia Rothrock, Jerry Trimble, Michael Dudikoff, Olivier Gruner, ex-diver Jason Statham, and plenty of people I’m not even familiar with. People who never had books about them before, who you never thought would have books about them. (He does include Bronson, Stallone and Schwarzenegger, if you’re worried.)
(read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

R.I.P. Bernie Worrell

Friday, June 24th, 2016

tn_bernieworrellWell, we knew he was sick, but I’m still not ready to face a world without Bernie Worrell, the “Wizard of Woo” genius keyboardist of Parliament-Funkadelic.

I don’t say genius lightly. In a giant crew full of one-of-a-kind musical minds including George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Maceo Parker and Fred Wesley (to name only the most famous), Bernie still stood out. For one thing, he invented sounds never before heard by the human ear. The weird alien blurps and bloops of “Flashlight,” for example, that act as the crazy intro, the solos and the bassline, could have only come from one brain and pair of hands, and they were Bernie’s. More than any other player, Bernie gave P-Funk the alien edge that put them on a higher plane than any of their funky contemporaries. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Don’t forget: Book signing at Dark Delicacies, 2pm this Sunday

Friday, June 24th, 2016

tn_gdtIf you can make it to Dark Delicacies in Burbank on Sunday, please stop by and say hello. I’ll be signing david j. moore’s awesome new coffee table behemoth THE GOOD, THE TOUGH AND THE DEADLY along with david and fellow contributors Corey Danna, Mike Joffe, Jason Souza, Dustin Leimgruber, Duvien Ho and Keith Batcheller (cover artist). AND HOLY SHIT the action star and filmmaker special guests he has coming! The lineup has changed drastically (and is probly still subject to change) but check below for the latest info.

I think I only wrote five reviews in this thing, so david is the real man of the hour, but I’m very proud to be a small part of this incredible tribute and resource for my favorite artform. I’d also be happy to sign whatever else you want, and I’ll have a few copies of Niketown and Yippee Ki Yay, Moviegoer in case you need to buy one. (I only have one Seagalogy on hand, so bring your own.)

A couple of the legends I was excited to meet are apparently not going to make it, but new ones have been added. Here is the updated and confirmed guest list I’ve been given:

Jino Kang
Julian Lee
Robert Chapin

And maybe some surprises. I hope to see some of you there. Even if I don’t, check out this book. It’s blowing my mind and I’m only in the Bs. Already there has been a motherlode of info on the AMERICAN NINJA series and an interview with the director of BLOOD AND BONE.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

John Carpenter, Seattle

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

UPDATE: King Newbs kindly transcribed this for me. Scroll to the end if you need a readable version.
20160616_010220-1 (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

I will be at Dark Delicacies in Burbank on 6/26

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

tn_gdt6/22 UPDATE: I am hearing that unfortunately Craig Baxley and Cynthia Rothrock will not be able to attend. However Don “The Dragon” Wilson will.

If you haven’t heard yet, I (Vern) am emerging from my spiderhole again for my second ever public appearance, a book signing at Dark Delicacies in Burbank at 2 pm on Sunday, June 26th. This time it’s not all about me (or Seagal) though, I’m there to support my friend david j. moore and his gigantic new action movie compendium THE GOOD THE TOUGH & THE DEADLY: Action Movies & Stars 1960s – Present, which I made a very small and humble contribution to.

But that’s not all! I am told there will be a whole bunch of icons from the type of b-action movies we love in attendance as well. Like david’s post-apocalyptic movie book WORLD GONE WILD, this one has over 1,000 capsule reviews (five by me, I believe, which is how I got into this mess) and david’s interviews with a who’s who of action stars, directors, writers, stuntmen, etc. Some of them will be there with us to sign the book. INCLUDING MR. CRAIG R. BAXLEY, DIRECTOR OF SOME OF MY VERY FAVORITE MOVIES.

Here’s the full list via david: (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

some positivity for today

Sunday, June 12th, 2016

https://youtu.be/2CRd_kNuYWo

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

R.I.P. Kimbo Slice

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

tn_kimboThe legendary (infamous?) fighter known as Kimbo Slice died of heart failure today. Around here we know him as the guy in the opening scene of BLOOD AND BONE who tries to punk Bone in the prison bathroom but finds out that’s not gonna happen. He also returns in the end credits to have his way with the main villain of the movie, and there’s a great video on Youtube of Kimbo on set intently listening to a punching lesson from Michael Jai White.

Everyone’s saying Kimbo was kind and gentle, which is amazing if true because look at that fucking guy! He was only in a couple other movies – two low rent MMA movies that I’ll get to eventually, and SCORPION KING 3: BATTLE FOR REDEMPTION – but he obviously could’ve played a million Tiny Lister type roles if he’d wanted to.

Kimbo had a fascinating history, because he became famous originally as a street brawler, seen in Youtube videos of seedy arranged fights in backyards and parking lots, like something straight out of HARD TIMES, LIONHEART, FIGHTING or RUST AND BONE. Or BLOOD AND BONE. I like when they have be careful so as not to bump into a satellite dish or something. It’s very unskilled fighting and totally unprofessional, presented like porn – that’s because in stemmed out of him being a bodyguard and limo driver for the Reality Kings porn company. Try to duplicate that career path! (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Forever The Greatest

Saturday, June 4th, 2016

tn_aliWe can’t really be shocked to hear that the great Muhammad Ali passed away today, but it still feels wrong. The champ lived almost as long with Parkinson’s as without, so he seemed unstoppable. He’d long since lost his incredible athleticism, his quick wit, his big mouth, and yet he kept going. He was out there, showing up in public every once in a while to pass the Olympic torch, receive a Presidential Medal of Freedom, attend the inauguration of the first black president, make himself known as an American Muslim, or tweet happy birthday to The Rock.

Until today we could still call him a living legend. Even outside of professional boxing his adventures were unparalleled. He had a gold medal (which he threw into the Ohio River after being disgusted with the racism he experienced at home – some dude found it in 2014!). He inspired the song “The Greatest Love of All.” He was a Wrestlemania referee. He had a cartoon where he went to space. He fought tooth decay. He fought Superman! (Don’t worry, his mother’s name was Odessa.) But we admired him most for the true bravery of living from his conscience, putting his career and reputation on the line to oppose the Vietnam War, to go public as a Muslim, and to speak out about racism, even if it bummed out Sly Stone on that ridiculously uncomfortable episode of The Mike Douglas Show. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Well wishes to Darwyn Cooke

Friday, May 13th, 2016

parker1I would like to send out some positive energy to the great artist Darwyn Cooke, who is apparently very ill. Sadly his wife announced today that he is “now receiving palliative care following a bout with aggressive cancer.”

You comic book fans must know Cooke for a million things, but of course I know him as the man who since 2009 has been doing comics adaptations of my favorite book series, the Parker novels by Richard Stark. Although of course the change in medium requires a simplification merely by removing most of the words, Cooke (who received the blessings and input of Donald Westlake when he started the project) has been astonishingly faithful to the material. I love his clean, cartoony style, his bold use of shadows, his retro two-tone coloring and his appreciation for the graphic and architectural styles of the 1960s world he sets the books in. The man knows how to draw a good diner sign, and seems to have a catalog of the different types of faces you don’t see anymore.

I also think I must have similar tastes in Parker books to Cooke, because I love the choices he’s made of which ones to adapt. He started of course with The Hunter (the first one, and basis of POINT BLANK and PAYBACK). Then he skipped to The Outfit, possibly my favorite of the series, but he also included a prologue that’s a little mini-version of book two, The Man With the Getaway Face, so that he could include the fun fact that Parker got plastic surgery to hide his identity after The Hunter. And that way Cooke could completely change his character design after his first book.

Then Cooke went for my other possible favorite entry in the series, The Score, the one where they take down an entire mining town. I implore you to read the original novel, an epic heist story, but it’s also really cool to see Cooke’s visual translation, which is heavy on blueprints and diagrams.

Finally he did Slayground, which is one of my least favorite books in the series, but also the most ripe for this type of reinterpretation. The book has a great premise – Parker hiding in a closed amusement park being hunted while trying to recover a stash of money – but plays more like a recipe for what would be a cool action movie than a successful story in the Parker tradition. Therefore I really enjoyed experiencing it in a visual medium. (The movie starring Peter Coyote doesn’t count, because it barely has anything to do with the main part of the book.)

Finding artwork for this post led me to the fact that there are some hardcover editions of the original novels illustrated with Cooke paintings (that’s what the ad at the upper right of this post is for). I must’ve heard about that but forgot all about it. That erases any minor misgivings I had about people maybe using the comics as replacements for the great novels. I should pick those up.

Anyway, I’m very sorry to hear about Cooke and my thoughts are with him and his family. Thanks for all the beautiful pictures bud, you really know your lines and shapes.

parker2

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Vern’s Book Pile

Friday, April 29th, 2016

tn_bookpile1I don’t know about you guys, but I have kind of a hard time keeping up with all the books. I love them but I put so many of my spare minutes into watching and writing about movies (and checking Twitter, sadly) that I end up with stacks of beautiful tomes sitting around only partially read. That’s fine, that’s life, you can’t do everything. But these piles of people’s passions weigh down my soul with guilt because I know I meant to plug some of them.

As somebody who writes books about movies myself I know this is not exactly a path to riches, so I respect anyone who goes through with it. You gotta really have a passion for the subject to get it done, and there are not enough authors doing that for the kind of movies we love around here. I’m never gonna become a book reviewer, but I do want to showcase some of the ones I have here because in my opinion people are less likely to buy your book if they don’t know it exists. The chances of them accidentally ordering it are pretty slim, I have found. Most people would have to buy your book on purpose.

So I’m about to notify you of some things that exist, and I apologize to a couple of these authors for not doing so earlier. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.