Category Archives: Other Stuff I Like

Masterful Marketing By Netflix – The Cloverfield Paradox

I was very excited to see a brand new trailer during the Super Bowl last night (and an exciting game at that).

Toward the end of the game, a movie trailer for a horror/Sci-Fi movie was shown and I mentioned to my better half that I wanted to see it only to find out it was going to be on Netflix. It’s not unusual for Netflix to advertise movies on regular television if they feel the movie or series has a lot of promise. I immediately switched over to Netflix during a break, expecting to find a trailer and a release date in a few months, only to  instead find they dropped the movie the very same night with no warning, no ads on Netflix weeks ahead of time telling us it was coming, and basically nothing except a bad-ass trailer show during the Super Bowl and a premiere date that evening.

You can be sure that as soon as I could after the game, I was back to Netflix to watch The Cloverfield Paradox and…well…I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. The only thing I will say is it is a prequel to the other two movies, Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane, making a nice little trilogy but hopefully not wrapping it up.

I found some parts that were “lifted” from other movies, at least in concept, and a number of things will sound familiar but it really is an original show and well worth a watch. I’m a horror/Sci-fi nut and recognized the tropes which must be present for a movie like this to work, and they were done well.

It’s important for artists to recognize another artist’s work when done well and I may do a more thorough review of the movie on another site (if so I will come back and put a link to it here). However, this round of applause goes out to the marketers who bought some of the most expensive television time spots available for a movie that no one knew was coming. I hope the numbers will support that master stroke. I know it’s why I watched it today as opposed to some other day.

Big Thanks to the Folks at Kisatchie National Forest and the US Forest Service

Kisatchie National Forest-2As anyone who reads my books, my website, or knows me personally, my family has been "inextricably intertwined" (a legal term that applies in other situations) with Natchitoches Parish and the Kisatchie National Forest area in Louisiana since settlers began appearing in the area. I kicked around an idea for a book for years before choosing to set The Bottle Tree in a turpentine camp that actually existed in Kisatchie in the early 1900s.

Every time I visit Natchitoches I can feel the woods/forest calling and I love hitting the back trails and roads in there, walking occasionally and riding the rest, and visiting place I've been going to since I was old enough to walk for a while and then be carried by my grandfather or uncle the rest of the way.

On my last visit, my Uncle Mike and I were driving the back roads and a turkey suddenly darted out of the woods and then slowed to amble across the dirt road in front of us. He stopped the car and I shot a short video of the hen while waiting for others to appear since she acted like she might have been a part of a larger flock following her. We didn't see any more but did get to watch her for several minutes (video coming soon!).

I had heard the wild turkeys were making a comeback in the forest and then I spoke to my uncle again last week and he said he had seen a Bobwhite Quail not far from there just a few days before. I remember when I was a kid, many, many years ago, and we'd go out there with a relative of ours, Bud Gandy, who loved quail hunting and he'd always find plenty. It wasn't unusual for us to bust a covey during our walks through the woods (and when you're always expecting rattlesnakes, a covey of quail busting out from under your feet is a truly exhilarating experience) but over the years the Bobwhite and the turkeys had virtually disappeared. 

During one of our exploring trips last year we'd walked up on a section of the forest where there were a number of pine trees with large white painted sections on them, metal strips nailed around the tree (to prevent climbing animals) and holes drilled a ways up the tree with sap running down. Not far from those we found what we originally thought might have been a small trap on the ground with fencing running in four directions leading into it. We thought it might have been a quail trap so someone could take a count of the numbers.

What we found out was that the trap was actually one designed not for quail but for "America's Rarest Snake", Louisiana's Pine Snake, a number of which were released back into its natural range there in Kisatchie by the Forest Service (for more info on this see this article).

Red-cockaded Woodpecker NCM11002

The holes in the trees were part of an effort to improve habitat for the Red Cockaded Woodpeckers in the area (see article here). Interestingly, the Red Cockaded Woodpecker has significantly less red on their head than the other species in the area but to anyone who sees one flying, they still fly in the distinctive up and down woodpecker flight motion.

Those are just a few of the huge number of animals the good folks at the forest service are doing such a great job of protecting.

As I stop by various lookout points and springs, many of which most people don't know anything about, I was struck by the fact that I could have been standing on an area that my grandfather worked on when he was living at the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp located near where the Kisatchie visitor's center is now located since many of the roads, trails, and other feature were created by those men trying to work their way out of the Great Depression.

I'll be back in Natchitoches for the NSU Folklife Festival on July 17-18 (if you're in the area stop by the festival and say hello), but I suspect that I'll either get there a day early or stay a day or two afterwards to hit the woods again. I'm a lot older, a lot fatter, my back hurts, and my knees ache from all the motorcycle wrecks I had back in my youth (many of them in Kisatchie) but I always feel a little better no matter how tired I am, how out of shape, or how hot it gets when I get back to my roots.

I want to thank the US Forest Service and particularly those people who work out in the Kisatchie National Forest area for what they are doing there. I know that when I have grand-children I'll be able to take them to the same trails, eat huckleberries off of the same huckleberry bushes, and fish in the same fishing holes as my family has been doing for two hundred or more years. The turkeys I see, the Bobwhite Quail I hear whistling, and the rattlesnakes I watch out for, will likely be the descendants of the same ones that roamed the woods and my ancestors saw. 

Without people choosing to be the stewards for the rest of us, working hard, not making enough money, but caring about the area and the environment all of those things might not be here now or might not be here in the future.

Thanks.

Another Great Bit of Storytelling – American Horror Story

I've been writing away on my true crime book…well…researching a lot and writing a little (writing is hard work and this is even harder than usual).

Unlike many writers I prefer to listen to the television or movies playing while I work. Even though I am a music nut (Ha! A prophetic pun!) I find it easier to write with that in the background, probably because music always awakens strong memories and I get distracted.

But I digress.

Several years ago I watched the first season of American Horror Story and thought it was one of the greatest television shows ever made, limited as it is by the fact it is on a network as opposed to cable. I'd put off watching the next seasons because I missed the first few shows and knew I'd catch them when they were released online.

Recently Netflix added Season 3 so I thought I'd get started again and have been listening and semi watching Season 2 before advancing on to the next. Season 2 is set in an asylum and is good, not quite as much as Season 1 in my opinion but still very good. I listening to Episode 10 when the scene in the video I've posted below began to play. The utter incongruity of this song popping into this show makes it an absolutely fantastic piece of writing/setting.

I would have already recommended Season 2 if you're into these kinds of things but with this addition I now ENTHUSIASTICALLY recommend it.

I now present The Name Game:

 

A Great Set of Lyrics

I'll start out by saying I'm not a huge fan of country music, particularly the kind that plays on the radio and on CMTV. Waaaaaaay back when Willie and Waylon and the boys were making outlaw country I liked that and I still like some others but I think Country has pretty much gone the way of Pop, with lots of awful lyrics, autotuned voices, and little to no originality.

However….

Occasionally you come across something that reminds you never to judge a particular genre of anything too quickly.

For some reason I was clicking through some YouTube videos and happened to accidentally click on a song by Hal Ketchum called Small Town Saturday Night (written by Pat Alger and Hank DeVito). I remembered the song from the early 90s when it was released and I let it play because I am, after all, an advocate of small towns (in most ways).

As the tune was headed into the third verse I happened to be paying attention and was astounded at the lyrics. I'll put them here:

Bobby told Lucy, "The world ain't round

Drops off sharp at the edge of town

Lucy, you know the world must be flat

'Cos when people leave town, they never come back"

The rest of the song is good and accurately described life as a young 'un in a small town "back in the day" but I can't think of anything that sums up the way some people look at the thought of life on the inside and the outside of a small town.

Excellent, excellent, bit of writing.

Here's the video: