Yes, birds sing – but not for the reasons you think!
It’s spring! All the birds are singing.
We have this notion birds sing because they’re happy, flying around, going wherever they want, eating whatever they want. They’re free!
But that’s not why birds sing.
Birds sing because they’re marking their territory. They’re telling other birds, “If you violate my airspace I will kick your motherfucking ass.”
They also sing to attract mates. In other words, they want to get laid.
So there you go. Next time you hear a bird sing, don’t think: Happy, carefree little creature singing its joy to the world.
Think SEX and VIOLENCE. Because that’s what birdsong is.
SEX and VIOLENCE.
And you thought TV was bed.
Heh heh heh.
About the author:
Del Stone Jr. is a professional fiction writer. He is known primarily for his work in the contemporary dark fiction field, but has also published science fiction and contemporary fantasy. Stone’s stories, poetry and scripts have appeared in publications such as Amazing Stories, Eldritch Tales, and Bantam-Spectra’s Full Spectrum. His short fiction has been published in The Year’s Best Horror Stories XXII; Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine; the Pocket Books anthology More Phobias; the Barnes & Noble anthologies 100 Wicked Little Witch Stories, Horrors! 365 Scary Stories, and 100 Astounding Little Alien Stories; the HWA anthology Psychos; and other short fiction venues, like Blood Muse, Live Without a Net, Zombiesque and Sex Macabre. Stone’s comic book debut was in the Clive Barker series of books, Hellraiser, published by Marvel/Epic and reprinted in The Best of Hellraiser anthology. He has also published stories in Penthouse Comix, and worked with artist Dave Dorman on many projects, including the illustrated novella “Roadkill,” a short story for the Andrew Vachss anthology Underground from Dark Horse, an ashcan titled “December” for Hero Illustrated, and several of Dorman’s Wasted Lands novellas and comics, such as Rail from Image and “The Uninvited.” Stone’s novel, Dead Heat, won the 1996 International Horror Guild’s award for best first novel and was a runner-up for the Bram Stoker Award. Stone has also been a finalist for the IHG award for short fiction, the British Fantasy Award for best novella, and a semifinalist for the Nebula and Writers of the Future awards. His stories have appeared in anthologies that have won the Bram Stoker Award and the World Fantasy Award. Two of his works were optioned for film, the novella “Black Tide” and short story “Crisis Line.”
Stone recently retired after a 41-year career in journalism. He won numerous awards for his work, and in 1986 was named Florida’s best columnist in his circulation division by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. In 2001 he received an honorable mention from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association for his essay “When Freedom of Speech Ends” and in 2003 he was voted Best of the Best in the category of columnists by Emerald Coast Magazine. He participated in book signings and awareness campaigns, and was a guest on local television and radio programs.
As an addendum, Stone is single, kills tomatoes and morning glories with ruthless efficiency, once tied the stem of a cocktail cherry in a knot with his tongue, and carries a permanent scar on his chest after having been shot with a paintball gun. He’s in his 60s as of this writing but doesn’t look a day over 94.
Contact Del at [email protected]. He is also on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, tumblr, TikTok, Ello and Instagram. Visit his website at delstonejr.com .
“Mindhunter” Starring Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, Hannah Gross and Anna Torv. Creator Joe Penhall. 10 one-hour episodes. Rated TV-MA. Netflix
Stephen King gave “Mindhunter” his seal of approval and Entertainment Weekly graded it at A-.
Me? I’m not so sure.
Season 1 of this Netflix original series features 10 one-hour episodes of fascinating detective work and nifty nostalgic music, cars and fashions from the late 1970s. It’s a good show; I’ll definitely check out Season 2. But is it a terrific show? That remains to be seen. In my opinion, it has a couple of problems that for now are keeping it from becoming the next “Breaking Bad.”
“Mindhunter” stars Jonathan Groff as rookie FBI agent Holden Ford, a callow young man who is new to the wiles of women and criminals. He yearns to get inside the brains of notorious killers, as he believes by questioning these men – and invariably they are men – he can find commonalities in their destructive behavior that may help predict who might be the next Charles Manson.
He is approached by fellow agent Bill Tench, an instructor who belongs to the bureau’s Behavorial Unit. Tench convinces Ford to join him in “road school,” a program by which a bureau operative visits police departments around the country, teaching investigators the latest in FBI criminal behavior theory.
Ford soon realizes his road school excursions allow him a unique opportunity – to visit nearby prisons warehousing notorious mass killers and interview them. He convinces Tench to go along and soon, the two are assembling a loose dataset of serial killer behavior.
Simultaneously, investigators with the police departments ask Tench and Ford’s help in solving local murders. Ford applies what he has learned from his insidious interview subjects and tries to solve the crimes with a skeptical and reluctant Tench in tow.
They are joined by a college professor (Torv) who tries to apply discipline to their information gathering techniques and collation. While all of this is being done under the presumptive purview of the agency, Tench and Ford’s boss back at Quantico, gruff Unit Chief Sheppard (Cotter Smith) in fact doesn’t know a damn thing about that’s happening. When he finds out he wants to pull the plug, but word gets out and grant money flows in, legitimizing Ford’s quest to hunt the minds of mass murderers.
Therein lies a new and dangerous problem. Can the wide-eyed, innocent Ford probe the depths of murderous insanity without becoming insane himself?
“Mindhunter” contains the DNA of both “Silence of the Lambs” and “The X-Files,” more the latter than former. Sure, they’re all about FBI agents solving mysteries. But it they all have the same look and feel, an institutional starched shirtiness if you will. Violence and gore are restrained, although the language is incredibly salty, including the C-word. And the things they talk about – whew! Suffice it to say this is not a show for children. Oh, and there’s a bit of sex, too. It seems young Mr. Ford is still working on his, shall we say, oral exams.
McCallany is sensational as the entrenched, dogmatic Tench. It is only when the camera focuses on his home life that he seems less than sure-footed, perhaps by design. Speaking of which, things are rocky at home, with an adopted child who shies away from him and won’t speak, to a wife contemplating divorce.
Ford’s girlfriend Debbie is smart, quick-witted, sardonically hilarious and played to perfection by Gross. Torv’s professor, Dr. Wendy Carr, is icily detached. She reveals only isolated glimpses of humanity – feeding an unseen cat in the laundry room of her apartment complex, or becoming enraged with Tench and snarling, “Fuck you, Bill.” If looks could kill, she would be a ninja assassin.
Then there’s Groff’s rendition of Ford. In the first few episodes he is portrayed as innocent and trusting. Surely this blank mold of a man could not emerge from the company of serial killers without somehow being shaped by them.
Suffice it to say by Episode 10 Ford has changed, and the transformation is dramatic. That’s one of the problems I have with “Mindhunter.” Ford’s evolution is hasty and to a large extent without foreshadowing. Along about Episode 7 I was asking myself, “What happened to him?”
And a nitpick if you will: Tench and Ford’s crime-solving abilities seem a tad suspect. In every case it is the local investigators who point them in the direction of the eventual suspect. Their role becomes one of tricking that person into confessing to the crime, which itself becomes a plot point and, I suppose, a device to symbolize the moral and ethical alchemy taking place within Ford.
Still, “Mindhunters” is a good series and well worth a watch. I expect its positive reception will result in a new season, and I’ll be interested to see where it goes.
One last kudo: Cameron Britton, who plays mass murderer Edmund Kemper, steals every scene he’s in. I could see a limited series constructed around him.
I grade “Mindhunter” a B.
Del Stone Jr. is a former journalist and author.
“Chopping Mall” stars Kelli Maroney as Alison Parks, Tony O’Dell as Ferdy Meisel, Russell Todd as Rick Stanton, Karrie Emerson as Linda Stanton, Barbara Crampton as Suzie Linn, and Nick Segal as Greg Williams. Directed by Jim Wynorski. Rated R with a 1-hour, 17-minute run time. See it on Amazon Prime and Tubi.
“Chopping Mall” is a product of the incomparable Roger Corman, king of the independent, low-budget exploitation film.
Corman began his career in the mid-1950s making science fiction/horror movies (“The Beast with a Million Eyes”) and Westerns (“Five Guns West”), and became known as the “King of the Drive-In.” He continued in the 1960s with a series of opulent gothic horror movies based on the works of Edgar Allen Poe (“The Pit and the Pendulum”) and worked with stars such as Vincent Price, Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, Ray Miland and Peter Lorre.
Eventually Corman established his own studio, New World Pictures. He is credited with starting the careers of numerous A-list actors and directors, including Francis Ford Coppola, Jack Nicholson, Martin Scorcese, Peter Bogdanovich, James Cameron and Jonathan Demme, to name a few.
Corman produced “Chopping Mall,” along with his wife, Julie. It was shot mostly at the Sherman Oaks Galleria mall in Los Angeles in 20 days, with two days of studio filming. The film is described as a parable of Reaganesque consumption and has become a bit of a cult hit over the years.
The plot is fairly straightforward: A group of teenagers holds an after-hours drinking and sex party at a furniture store in a shopping mall on the same night a trio of security robots goes online for the first time. Unfortunately for the teenagers, a lightning strike damages the robots’ programming and they embark on a killing spree. Armed with tranquilizing darts, tasers and directed-energy weapons, the robots are more than a match for a group of oversexed teens … or are they?
Originally marketed as “Killbots,” (a superior title in my opinion) “Chopping Mall” was filmed at the same location as “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” But trust me, it bears little resemblance to that classic coming-of-age movie. “Chopping Mall” is mostly a bloody excess of exploding heads, lots of jiggling breasts, tacky ’80s-esque music, some seriously terrible dialogue (which was mostly ad-libbed from what I understand) and crappy special effects – heck, they even poached the ray gun sound effects from the George Pal version of “War of the Worlds.”
But as an artifact of the ’80s, “Chopping Mall” is a fascinating time capsule. As I watched the movie I made a list of some of the uniquely ’80s features: big hair, designer jeans, pay phones, landlines, popped collars, circular glasses frames, pastels, Better Cheddar, CRTs, gun stores in a mall, cigarette machines (a pack of smokes cost $1.25), suspenders, button-down shirts, wooden skateboards, handheld calculators the size of mobile phones, khakis with pleats and shoulder boards.
Wow, those were the days. Not.
Look, “Chopping Mall” isn’t high art. It’s a low-budget exploitation film, squarely within the Roger Corman mode of a moviemaking. As silly entertainment it’s just fine. I can think of worse ways to waste an hour and 17 minutes of my life. Go into it with low expectations and you won’t be disappointed. Just be prepared for some serious gore.
I give “Chopping Mall” a grade of B. Anything higher would dishonor its low-budget aspirations. But I’m guessing Mladen will gush – it’s right up his alley. So expect multiple A’s, maybe even with a bullet. Or an exploding head.
Yeah, I was hyped when Del used the phrase “jiggling breasts” in his review. All of a sudden, I was looking forward to watching “Chopping Mall.” But trouble soon arrived. The problem? The bared breasts were front-loaded. So, the remaining four-fifths of the movie was barely tolerable to me. No more nudity, just hokey – even for a Corman film – analog-ish visual effects and blood splatter. Let’s face it, despite years of writing movie reviews with Del as my antagonist, he still has no ability to distinguish between cartoonish depiction of slit throats or exploding heads and realistic, honest-to-goodness, stomach-churning graphic violence.
Where to begin evaluating “Chopping Mall?” How about the old saying, “lightning never strikes twice in the same place?” Why? Because in “Chopping Mall” lightning struck THREE times in the same place to send the trio of Bobcat tractor-like killerbots on a hunting spree. Sheesh. From there, the movie gets better in the sense that it gets worse.
We start with four heterosexual couples and then there were three and then there were two and then one. I concede, the couples countdown was a tidy way to knock off the subadults portrayed in the film. The systematic, one-couple-slaughtered-at-a-time pace of the movie generated anticipation. “Ah,” I’d say to myself, “she bought it because she was unable to use a Molotov cocktail correctly. Burning to death sucks. How will her boyfriend meet the Grim Reaper?” Wait a few minutes and, pow, a killerbot grabs the boyfriend and drops him from the mall’s third floor. Thud, and we’re shown a pool of diluted ketchup pooling around the boyfriend’s cracked skull.
For Christ’s sake, the movie didn’t even have a decent soundtrack and it was made in the decade, 1980s, that generated some of the best songs ever. Yes, Corman’s studio did things on the cheap but, come on, why not drop a bit of change for the right to use Blondie’s “Rapture?”
Why the f— Del thought I’d like this movie, I have no idea. Maybe he thought I’d like it because it has gained somewhat of a cult following over the years. Maybe he just wanted to insult my taste in movies. No matter, “Chopping Mall” deserves no better than a C-. But, I don’t want to discourage filmgoers from watching other “Gore”man flicks. There are a lot of them. Del, here are a few that I watched and enjoyed: “The Wasp Woman,” “Carnosaur,” “Death Race 2000” and its sequel, “Death Race 2050,” and let’s not ignore “Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda.”
Mladen Rudman is a former journalist and technical writer. Del Stone Jr. is a former journalist and writer.