the katie chase interview

Sometimes, we at Falling Rock National Park like to step away from the medieval illuminated manuscript research that we are best known for and talk about what’s relevant now.  Fortunately we have at least one friend who is at the forefront of what critics are calling The New Literature, Katie Chase.


Katie has had a number of her short stories published in legitimate publications (i.e. not blogs).  Currently she is working on her first novel.  She assures us that the novel-to-be is not a sequel to John Grisham’s The Firm, although I bet if you wanted to read it that way you’d be in for a few surprises.


I sat down with Katie to discuss politics, the environment, robots, and of course writing.  Here’s what was said.

FR: You like to write stories about emotions.  What is your favorite emotion?

KC: I do. Emotions are literary. Is discomfort an emotion? I used to be solely inspired to write about a situation if I thought to myself, That’s fucked up. So long as the emotions involved are conflicting, I like them.


FR: Which is harder to write: a car chase or a chase across the rooftops?

KC: Both would definitely be hard, as I’d have to learn the vocabulary to describe them. What’s that part on the roof that sticks up? What kind of parts fall off cars? But if I describe a rooftop chase, I could maybe take a minute to describe the pretty view from up there. A car chase would too quick-moving, too much about the dashboard. I wouldn’t want any pedestrians to get hurt, and they’d probably have to.


FR: How many books have you read?

KC: I’m almost always reading a book! To increase that number to its utmost impact, I hardly ever reread, because there are too many I still haven’t read. Times that over how ever many years it looks to you like I am.


FR: You look like you’re not a girl, not yet a woman.

KC: It’s that in-between place that makes for the best reading, so I have to  make the most of it now. Once I’m old and hate everything, instead of just half of all things, I’ll probably only read and reread the classics.


FR: In a fair fight – bare fists and no cheating – could you take T.C. Boyle?

KC: What constitutes fair? Can he throw all his books at me?


FR: I’m picturing the two of you facing off in a sandy pit, surrounded by men smoking cigars and making wagers.  No books.

KC: Since I’m not wearing sunglasses, I like to think I have the edge, but I  bet all that cigar smoke would hinder me.


FR: Same question for Jodi Picoult.

KC: I could take her.


FR: Same question for James Franco.

KC: Muthafucka’s going DOWN.


FR: Your love of robots and fighting is well known.  Who is your favorite Transformer?

KC: The chick.


FR: Do you wish there was a better developed love story in that cartoon?

KC: If it ended with a wedding, I would feel more like everyone got what he or she came for.


FR: If you wrote a novel specifically targeted to airport bookshops, what would the plot be?

KC: It would definitely have one. Actually, a variant of this question once lost me a job at a bookstore. I assumed people on planes would want to be recommended books that had short paragraphs, lots of dialogue and probably some crime, but I was wrong to make that assumption, according to the interviewing manager. Is this one of those trick questions? Still, it would probably start with murder and end with marriage.


FR: What celebrity autobiography would you most like to ghostwrite?

KC: I wouldn’t really want to. Unless James Franco asked for my help.


FR: The interview has gone really well so far.  Thanks for your intelligent answers.  Now I’m going to ask you something that implies you haven’t really achieved anything in your life.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

KC: Thank you for your intelligent questions! Excluding this one.

I could see myself subsisting on low-wage administrative jobs with no opportunity for advancement for decades. But I would prefer not to.


baby blog time

Lately this blogger has been feeling left out.  My two partner bloggers, West Lawn Park and Stabbone & McGraw, are busy filling the world with baby liberals.  West Lawn Park is midway through his epic Year of Shaft & Son.  Stabbone & McGraw’s unborn child has already made two viral videos on youtube.  Meanwhile, Falling Rock National Park remains a barren wasteland of unused potential.

In a desperate attempt to “keep up with the Joneses” and, incidentally, increase this blog’s readership, I hereby announce our adoption of a gorilla who speaks in sign language:

Bak-Bak, as she was known around the rescue center, is a 14-year-old gorilla.  She was born in The People’s Democratic Peaceful Republic of the Congo, where she lived for the first three years of her life.  Those were idyllic times, those were.  Scampering through the undergrowth, playing with her older brother Tim (now deceased).

All that changed for Bak-Bak when poachers nabbed her and took her to what is known as The Gorilla Factory.  Bak-Bak endured horrible treatment at The Factory; it is amazing that she was not killed.  She managed to escape to a nearby town, where the people immediately recognized the sign for “gorilla in distress” and called the authorities.

Bak-Bak spent nearly eight months at the rescue center before Isis and I came to adopt her.  Usually couples want to adopt baby gorillas, but Isis has a soft spot for grizzled old animals.  Bak-Bak took to us as though we were always a part of her tribe.

Back in Portland, Bak-Bak continues to settle into her new American life with grace.  She does her share of the chores and is able to purchase groceries at the store with the employee who knows how to speak sign language.

Bak-Bak is our beautiful little miracle.  Falling Rock National Park will henceforth become baby-centric and therefore popular.  Who knows?  I might even get a TV deal out of this.

Blog friday robot

friday robots

Friday Robots are here again:

This week’s robots are dedicated to the baseball-playing robot featured in The Twilight Zone episode “Casey.”

Casey the robot didn’t need steroids to win; he was pure baseball through and through.  Here’s to the robots who help win pennants!  Happy Friday everybody!


here comes america

There are many unknowns when moving to a new neighborhood.  Will  you live next to an angry drummer?  Are you directly underneath the airport’s most popular landing approach?  Is your new house or apartment filled to the brim with ghosts?


Slightly lower on the list of worries is: what kind of shopping is in the immediate vicinity?  After a few weeks in the new homestead, that question was answered for me when I received this postcard in the mail:

Pouring over this little piece of America, I knew I was living in the right place.  Fireworks?!?  This was beyond my wildest dreams.  I was hoping for – at best – a head shop or a place to buy nonexpired milk at 11:45 Sunday night.  What I got was FIREWORKS.


From now on it will be easy to find my new place of residence.  Just tilt your head toward the sky, look for the lights, listen for the beautiful boom.  I’ll be there, setting off TONS and TONS of FIREWORKS all day and all night long.


father’s day

5 times I have seen my father cry:

1.  We were at the zoo.  I was six.  I said, “Look at the monkeys!” My dad burst into tears.

2.  It was the night before my last day as an eighth-grader.  I would be going to high school in the fall.  My dad wept like a child.

3.  My mom thought she won the lottery.  She was off by one number.  My dad locked himself in the bathroom and we had to turn the TV up real loud to drown out the high-pitched sobbing.

4.  My brother came back in the house after being in the backyard for a few minutes.  “It’s so hot outside,” he said.  It was summer and the temperature was probably 100.  My dad looked up from his book and emitted a soft groan.  He then jumped from his seat and ran into the bedroom, wailing the whole way.

5.  My dad was inspecting a construction site, and I went to visit him.  I asked him, jokingly, if anyone had died today.  He hugged me tightly and wept as he told me his best friend in the whole world had just been crushed to death by a cement mixer.

Happy Dad Day, Dad.  Hopefully reading this post will be your Number Six.

Blog friday robot

friday robots


monogamy: the movie

Is it possible to be happy with only one woman?  This is the totally legitimate question posed by Monogamy, a film adaptation of many a 20-year-old man’s life.

Theo (Chris Messina) is a wedding photographer who is engaged to Nat (Rashida Jones).  His side job is called Gumshoot – a pretty cool idea, actually.  He gets hired by people to take their portrait during their daily lives.  He’ll stalk them like a private detective, except the client is also the subject.

Well anyway, a fancy lady hires Theo and he becomes infatuated, then obsessed.  Meanwhile Nat, his guitar-playing fiancee, winds up in the hospital with to a staph infection.  Can their relationship survive?

Isis and I sat through this movie wondering if we were supposed to sympathize with a whiny, mopey hipster in Brooklyn who is sad because he has to marry Rashida Jones.  Seriously dude?  Does the fact that you only get to pick one woman – one foxy, talented, loving woman – really kill your buzz?

I would like to think the filmmakers made this as a joke on all the idiotic guys who can’t commit.  The tip-off is Rashida.  Maybe if the only woman Theo could get was ugly and criminally deranged, he’d have a case for keeping an eye out for someone better.  But to cast Rashida, and not make her a psychopath or a racist or something, means this guy doesn’t deserve to be happy.

More interesting and unique would have been the story from Nat’s perspective.  Women are generally depicted in movies as marriage-loving innocents.  What if she struggled with the idea of being faithful?  They’d also have to make Theo a better person, otherwise Nat’s choice would be too easy.

Although I can’t recommend Monogamy based on story, the cinematography is very pretty, and the two leads do the best they can with what they have been given.  One hopes both actors will find projects worthy of their talents.  In the meantime, look out for the Broadway production of Monogamy! The Musical.  With songs by Zombie Cole Porter and set design by Zombie Edward Gorey, Monogamy! The Musical will be a treat for anyone who has had trouble staying faithful to their spouse.


phantasm 3 & 4

This is the conclusion of my reviews of the Phantasm movies.  For Phantasm 1 and 2, see this post.

You know the franchise has bottomed out when the sequel introduces a little kid and a sassy black woman as main characters.  Phantasm 3: Lord of the Dead (1994) must have been a huge disappointment for fans of the first two movies, especially since Phantasm 3 took six years to make.  SIX YEARS.  If this had been a ten or twelve movie franchise, a la Friday the 13th, you could excuse one bad episode – after all, you’d only have to wait another year or two for the next sequel.  But to wait six years for this load of dung?  Inexcusable.

Phantasm 3, like Part 2, picks up right where its predecessor left off.  Reggie, the ex-ice cream vendor, has become the central character in these films.  He has the same goofy charisma as Bruce Campbell, which makes him an appealing, if unorthodox, leading man.

A. Michael Baldwin returns as the now-grown Mike, all for the better.  The camaraderie between Reggie and Mike feels earned, which makes the beginning of Phantasm 3 so promising.

It soon devolves into camp.  There will be people, I’m sure, who claim that the camp value of Phantasm 3 makes it worth the slog to watch.  I am not one of those people.  Yes, some movies are fun to watch simply because they are campy, but I will argue to my dying day that Phantasm is not the venue for such silliness.

Reggie and Mike continue to chase after the Tall Man, forever being thwarted by his otherworldly powers and those silver spheres (which, true to the Bible of Sequels, get more and more complex as the series progresses).

Like I said before, they join forces with a kid (not Macaulay Culkin) and a black lady who don’t take no guff from nobody.  The story stalls out in a church where big explosions and more of those undead midgets vex our heroes.

Phantasm 3 doesn’t do much to advance the storyline until the very end.  The Tall Man captures Mike and does something to give him that yellow bodily fluid only seen in the resurrected dead.  Does this mean Mike is now under the control of the Tall Man?

Audiences had to wait four years to find out.  Phantasm 4: OblIVion (1998) opens with Mike and Reggie separately trying to find the Tall Man.  Mike now has certain powers due to his Harry Potter/Voldemort connection to the Tall Man.  No lightning scar on his forehead, but he does have a silver sphere lodged in his skull.

Reggie has his now-required comedic scene when he picks up a beautiful stranger after she wrecks her car on the highway.  Reggie, let’s be honest, is no James McAvoy, but he deserves a little action every now and again.  Well, he does get action, but not the kind of action he’d probably like.

Phantasm 4 recaptures the feel of the original.  It moves the story forward and even fills in some details left out of the early films.  There is a heavy reliance on footage from Part 1, which at first seems annoying.  However, I soon realized that this was not footage actually used in Part 1 – the director has selectively picked outtakes and different angles, so what we are seeing is still new.

By far the best part of 4 is the Tall Man’s backstory.  We see who he was before he became the Tall Man (yeah, he was always tall).  I can’t in good conscience spoil this – you’ll have to watch for yourself.

My biggest complaint about Phantasm 4 is how well it sets up a sequel that, 13 years later, still hasn’t materialized.  The last shot of the movie is a beautifully eerie scene from Part 1, in which Reggie and Mike silently ride through the night.  What becomes of them, and of the Tall Man, is a mystery I’m suddenly very interested seeing resolved.
Will there be a Phantasm 5?  Wikipedia says there was a screenplay written, but that boring issues like money have prevented the filmmakers from following through.  Angus Scrimm is now 85 years old and not getting any younger.  Phantasm without the Tall Man would be a sad thing indeed.  Let’s hope this gets made, if only so I can get a little closure in my life.

Blog friday robot

friday robots


the cat internet challenge

Isis and I invented an internet game.  She hypothesized that you could find a picture of a cat on the internet by searching any word in the English language.  It was a fascinating theory, and one that has held up so far.

Here are a few of our finds:



Bob Dylan


(this one is a bit iffy since it’s not a photo but a drawing)

My name!
(I have met this cat.)

Go ahead and try it!  Go to a search engine, type in a word and do Image Search.  It might take a few pages, but you will most likely find a picture of a cat among the results.  We like Flickr but Google works just as well.