Dispatches from the 11th Annual “Shock Around the Clock” 24-hour Horror Marathon

Drexel Theater, Columbus, OH – October 12-13, 2019

“I may seem scary, but I have the heart of a small child…I keep it in a jar on my desk.”

-Robert Bloch, as quoted by Stephen King

There is always something cool going on in this town. 

After several years of unproductive hemming and hawing, including missed opportunities beyond my reckoning, 2019 marked my maiden voyage as an attendee of the annual “Shock Around The Clock” horror movie marathon. I couldn’t be happier I finally decided to take the plunge. Celebrating its eleventh year at Columbus, Ohio’s historic Drexel Theater, SATC takes place each October in a single, continuous session starting at noon on the Saturday of Ohio State football’s bye week and ending at or around noon of the next day. Well over 200 bores, ghouls, and children of the night piled into the Drexel and peacefully cohabitated for a festive day of sights, sounds, smells, and screams fit to thrill the living and wake the dead (if we weren’t already at capacity). Continue reading “Dispatches from the 11th Annual “Shock Around the Clock” 24-hour Horror Marathon”

Concert review: Iron Maiden

2018 by JOHN McMURTRIE 2018 Copyright TALLINN IRON MAIDEN

PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA – August 17, 2019

The euphoric high that is the natural byproduct of any rock concert worth its salt lingers for an indeterminate time after, depending upon whom you just saw, how well he/she/they played, how comprehensively the house in question was rocked, etc., but it can be expected, at a bare minimum, to get you out the venue door with a smile. Anything beyond that is some degree of bonus, one that can vary wildly. I’ve coasted down interstates riding a magic carpet of post-performance bliss, watching three-hour, music-soaked return road trips disappear in little more than the blink of an eye. I’ve followed awesome dreams out of a contented sleep and awakened the morning after still wrapped in a pervasive warm and fuzzy feeling. There have been certain shows I simply wouldn’t, or couldn’t, shut up about days later, Continue reading “Concert review: Iron Maiden”

Movie review: “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” (2019)

“When you come to the end of the line, with a buddy who is more than a brother and a little less than a wife, getting blind drunk together is really the only way to say farewell.”

Earlier this August, I spent a fairly enchanting late morning exploring the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York. An unassuming space compared to New York City’s many higher profile museums, MoMI packs so much tangible, three-dimensional history into its limited imprint that the effect can be a little overwhelming to first time pilgrims like me, wide-eyed true believers in the religion of film. There’s no other plausible way to explain my reaction as, standing in a room flanked by opposing processions, almost military columns, of all size and manner of antique movie and television cameras as they had been deployed through the years, I found myself getting a little choked up. Movies and all their attendant magic have been the indispensable fact and safe harbor of my life Continue reading “Movie review: “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” (2019)”

Steelers Thoughts #18 (8/6/2019): The Abyss Stares Back

All eyes across the National Football League and associated media are fixated on the Cleveland Browns as training camp 2019 kicks off, and it’s not difficult to deduce that a good number of players for and supporters of their ancient blood rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, greatly prefer it that way. These last two seasons in Pittsburgh have been erratic to the point of bloodletting, hair-ripping frustration, and not because Steelers fans have become overly conditioned to success and, as a consequence, deficient in perspective and possessed of unrealistic expectations. Well, not just because of that. The 2019 Steelers are yesterday’s news, goes today’s conventional wisdom. They had their chances, and recently, and blew them all. They had mind-blowing potential and squandered it. Continue reading “Steelers Thoughts #18 (8/6/2019): The Abyss Stares Back”

Movie review: “Crawl” (2019)

“Banging on the pipes lures their senses. I can distract them for you.”

Though couched as more of a “man versus nature” movie, Alexandre Aja’s Crawl is the very definition of horror for me personally, and presents the most comprehensive and compelling case I’ve yet seen on screen for why you should never, under any circumstances, move to Florida, or, outside of a week spent at Disney with the kids, maybe, or exploring Tampa’s aggressively potent bar scene with the grown-ups, stay there. Beyond the blood-sucking insects and will-sapping humidity, beyond all the stupid but reliably hilarious stories that flow out of that state hourly from the pages of clickbait news sites and supermarket tabloids like flood waters overspilling a dike – getting one half of the “human interest” equation right, at least – Florida is best known for two things. Sunshine and sand, you offer? Gators and hurricanes, I’d counter*. Continue reading “Movie review: “Crawl” (2019)”

Movie review: “Before Sunrise” (1995)

“This friend of mine, he had a kid, and it was a home birth, so he was there, helping out and everything. But he said that, at that profound moment of birth…uh, he’s watching his child experiencing life for the first time, trying to take his first breath, and all he could think about was he was looking at something that was going to die some day. He just couldn’t get it out of his head. And I think that is so true, you know? Everything is so finite. But don’t you think that’s what makes, um, our time and specific moments so important?”

I’m going to break sharply with structural decorum and implied spoiler policy in my discussion of Richard Linklater’s once in my lifetime Before Sunrise – because this is, in spite of what the title might suggest, a discussion rather than a review – by beginning at its end. If you are a first time viewer who, unlike me, believes that such spoilers might, indeed, ruin their appreciation of what is the most breathlessly authentic screen romance I have seen in my lifetime of attempts, please read no further and, instead, reinvest whatever time you might’ve spent otherwise occupied finding the most painless way possible to stream the movie immediately. I won’t take it personally. Continue reading “Movie review: “Before Sunrise” (1995)”

Road Postcard #1 (6/30/19) – DMB in Indy

Road Postcards are a (hopefully) recurring series of random thoughts, details, and anecdotes from a recent road trip, most likely to see a concert. They are shorter (if not necessarily short), looser, and less fussed over than a typical DAE post/review. Some days it’s hard to tell whether I write in order to justify staying busy with events and such, or whether I frequent movies and concerts in part to have something to write about. Thankfully, there is no day on which the distinction particularly matters.

Continue reading “Road Postcard #1 (6/30/19) – DMB in Indy”

Movie review: “John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum” (2019)

“Your ticket is torn. You may never return home.”

What the John Wick sequels have lacked in conventional story, they have more than made up for in sheer architecture, grafting additional layers of cold-blooded and/or cutthroat bureaucracy and attendant intrigue onto the original’s stylish if still fairly straightforward tale of revenge. Who knew the international hitman community required such substantial infrastructure to operate, or that the phrase “honor among thieves” translated so elegantly to professional killers as well? There are lots of moving parts in any John Wick sequel – a good many of them invisible, it turns out – and, whether airborne or spent, only (approximately) 70% are bullets. Seeing as the original presented him as a gun-toting tsunami in human form, the sequels, for their sometimes glaring flaws, have also been effective at ratcheting up Wick’s external threat level to a somewhat plausible sustained plateau of omnipresent, multi-directional incoming danger Continue reading “Movie review: “John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum” (2019)”

Concert review: Billy Joel

Billy Joel Performs At BB&T Center

Madison Square Garden, New York, NY – May 9, 2019

Lacking a traditional alternative to fill the role, I have long thought of music in practically religious terms. I play it; I listen to it; I know and revere its history. I share it with friends, and the bonds between us are invariably enriched by both the effort and the act. Music means the absolute world to me. Certain scientific studies have played up its druglike effects, and I suppose it’d be disingenuous as a longtime user to vociferously deny them, but I have always seen music more as a source of legitimate personal nourishment, an indispensable renewable resource, fuel or balm for the soul as needed. Rock and Roll in particular has been my constant companion since the year I turned ten, that proverbial source of comfort in times of trouble, as well as, for my money, the most damned fun you can reliably compress into the space of three minutes, or five, or twenty, or ninety, or more, however long your playlist or evening plans might dictate. I experience live music whenever plausible, and, sometimes, in my saucier moments, even take extreme measures to render the implausible possible. Think then of my journey, after near a lifetime of uninterrupted admiration, to see Billy Joel play the latest show in his historic residency at New York’s Madison Square Garden as something of a pilgrimage: Continue reading “Concert review: Billy Joel”

Movie review: “Pet Sematary” (2019)

Pet Sematary

“But it’s all okay. You’re back now.”

“Back from where?”

The specter of unimaginable loss hangs, as it should, like a pall over Pet Sematary – not merely the loss of a beloved pet, say, which would be awful enough on its own; nor the loss of a sibling, maybe one you loved, or maybe one of whom you were scared enough as a little kid to secretly, shamefully, wish dead; nor the loss of a spouse, nor a parent, nor, worst of all, the sudden and heartbreaking loss of a child – but of everything, the loss of seemingly everything you ever loved and fought for all at once, crumbling away to nothing before your frantic, helpless, unbelieving eyes. What would you do in that moment, honestly, without the benefit of foresight or rational thought, to get it all back? Wouldn’t you do anything? Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer’s stoic horror parable touches the heart with a clammy, room temperature hand and presses down firmly, until our breathing is rendered involuntarily shallow. Continue reading “Movie review: “Pet Sematary” (2019)”