Author Archives: Chris La Tray

Blog Update

Still cranking away on updating what I want to do with this. I’ve set getting Julia’s updated DonkeyGirl website and store and all that as a priority first, though; made some good progress on that this weekend, and hope to have it live sometime in the next week. It will need tweaking after that, but it will at least be functional. Then I can turn more attention back to my own stuff.

A Bummer Weekend

It’s been a sad place around here for the last 24 hours after getting news that a friend of the family, Mike Davis, bassist for Detroit rock legends MC5, has passed away. Details can be found here on Huffington Post, as well as other places.

Angela Davis, Mike’s wife (and MC5 manager), is one of Julia’s oldest friends, so Julia has known Mike for many years. She’s been pretty upset, and I was choked up listening to her speak to Angela on the phone yesterday. In the last few years I got to know Mike and Angela as well, and they are some of the friendliest, warmest people I’ve gotten to meet. I was just relaying a story that happened at the Davis house to a friend the other night, which Mike detailed in a blog post called, “Repairman Narrowly Escapes Satanic Cult.” While they lived in Oregon Julia and I were fortunate to visit them a couple times.

The impact on the music world by the MC5, particularly as it relates to the rock music I prefer, cannot be measured. They were giants. Mike will be missed. I’m very sorry for Angela and their boys. I’ll miss talking music and bass playing, remakes and amp settings with Mike.

Short Stories

Week seven in my short story reading challenge continued unabated. Here’s what I read the past seven days:

  1. Out the Window by Lawrence Block from The Night and the Music (ebook) (02/12/2012)
  2. Battle for the Laughing City by Richard Godwin from Thrillers, Killers n’ Chillers (Online) (02/12/2012)
  3. Still Life With Skulls by Charles Gramlich from In the Language of Scorpions (Borgo) (02/12/2012)
  4. God’s Dream by Charles Gramlich from Strange Worlds (Space Puppet) (02/13/2012)
  5. The Great Divide by Shann Ray from American Masculine (Graywolf) (02/14/2012)
  6. The Black Widow Club by Hilary Davidson from Needle: A Magazine of Noir (Spring 2010) (02/14/2012)
  7. People in Hell Just Want a Drink of Water by Annie Proulx from Close Range (Scribner) (02/15/2012)
  8. Look Down, This Is Where It Must Have Happened by Hal Niedzviecki from Look Down, This Is Where It Must Have Happened (City Lights) (02/15/2012)
  9. Fort Apache by Alan Heathcock from Volt (Graywolf) (02/16/2012)
  10. Lazarus by Alan Heathcock from Volt (Graywolf) (02/16/2012)
  11. Love of Life by Jack London from The Great Adventure Stories of Jack London (Bantam) (02/16/2012)
  12. Schott’s Bridge by Donald Ray Pollock from Knockemstiff (Anchor Books) (02/17/2012)
  13. Nickels and Dimes by John A. Imani from Send My Love and a Molotov Cocktail! (Switchblade Press) (02/17/2012)
  14. The Lady & the Gimp by Paul D. Brazill from Pulp Ink (ebook) (02/18/2012)
  15. A Night at the Royale by Chris F. Holm from Pulp Ink (ebook) (02/18/2012)
  16. Clouds in a Bunker by David Cranmer from Pulp Ink (ebook) (02/18/2012)

American Falcon

The debut album is all mixed, and we mastered a couple songs to see how they sound. Sounds better than I ever would have expected. Artwork in process; this sucker should be out in March. I’m excited for people to (finally) get to hear it.

Pictures

Here are three pictures (first two shot via iPhone, the third via Photo Booth; all processed via Instagram) to close this out; one from a hike last weekend in the desert, this one from yesterday cross-country skiing the Montana/Idaho border. And one that shows the brutal battle for desktop space. These make me happy. Except the desktop one.

Sunday Short Story Day

Had an excellent little mini-vacation to Arizona the last few days. Finalized some plans for how I intend to continue this blog that I’m kind of excited about. In the next couple few weeks I hope to relaunch it. I still post and repost various things on my Tumblr blog — mostly pictures — so keep an eye ever there if you care too.

In the meantime, I want to keep up with a couple things and this is still the best place to do that. My short story reading project is one of them. Here is what I read in the past week. Pretty heavy on the Daniel Woodrell stuff, as I took The Outlaw Album with me to finish. It was okay; I wish I hadn’t sprung for the hardcover edition. None of the stories really blew me away. I think I much prefer his novels by a wide, wide margin.

  1. Zed’s Dead, Baby by Eric Beetner from Pulp Ink (ebook) (02/05/2012)
  2. Your Mother Should Know by Allan Guthrie from Pulp Ink (ebook) (02/05/2012)
  3. Giganthomachy by Donald Ray Pollock from Knockemstiff (Anchor Books) (02/05/2012)
  4. The Thing Itself by Alethea Black from I Knew You’d Be Lovely (Broadway) (02/05/2012)
  5. How to Tell a Bird From Its Shadow by Ashley Rose Davidson from Whitefish Review (Issue #5) (02/06/2012)
  6. Taking the Long Way by Susan Ewing from Whitefish Review (Issue #5) (02/06/2012)
  7. Meltdown by Benjamin Percy from Refresh, Refresh (Graywolf) (02/06/2012)
  8. Swords of the Hills by Robert E. Howard from El Borak and Other Desert Adventures (Ballantine) (02/08/2012)
  9. Americca by Aimee Bender from Fantastic Women (Tin House) (02/08/2012)
  10. You Never Can Tell by Matthew C. Funk from Pulp Ink (ebook) (02/09/2012)
  11. Night Stand by Daniel Woodrell from The Outlaw Album (Little Brown) (02/10/2012)
  12. Two Things by Daniel Woodrell from The Outlaw Album (Little Brown) (02/10/2012)
  13. A Whole Lot of Rosie by Nigel Bird from Pulp Ink (ebook) (02/10/2012)
  14. The Horse in Our History by Daniel Woodrell from The Outlaw Album (Little Brown) (02/11/2012)
  15. Woe to Live On by Daniel Woodrell from The Outlaw Album (Little Brown) (02/11/2012)
  16. Dream Spot by Daniel Woodrell from The Outlaw Album (Little Brown) (02/11/2012)
  17. One United by Daniel Woodrell from The Outlaw Album (Little Brown) (02/11/2012)
  18. Returning the River by Daniel Woodrell from The Outlaw Album (Little Brown) (02/11/2012)
  19. The Parker Panic by Michael Stackpole from Murderous Magick (Stormwolf) (02/11/2012)

The Susan Ewing story from The Whitefish Review was excellent. That is an outstanding little quarterly digest thing that I urge anyone who hasn’t heard of it to check out. I’d love to get something in there one day. I also loved Ben Percy’s “Meltdown” story as well.

 

 

Super Snow Sunday

Spent the morning yesterday out putting in a few miles on snowshoes at the top of Lolo Pass. It was a gorgeous day, and the snow was perfect. There was also about twice as much of it as there was the last time we were there, just two weeks ago. I did a quick photo dump off both the camera and the cell phone, but didn’t do much to enhance them; I think they could be much better. They look cool in black and white as well, but color shows just how perfect a day it was.

At the Lodge

Some skiers just heading out

Obligatory trees against the sky shot

Julia makes her way up the hill

We met a couple coming down as we were heading out. They were excited by the view from the top, and the quality of the snow there. It was like piles of exquisite little crystals, all shattered into heaps that glittered in the sunlight. I tried to capture it on the camera, but didn’t really succeed. Still, the next couple images give you a little bit of an idea.

Snow crystals

More snow crystals

Finally, here are three shots filtered through Instagram.

Across the meadow

Intrepid Adventurers

Top o’ the World

 

The pictures don’t really do it justice — it was just a fantastic outing. We may go up in the evening this weekend and do a moonlight hike. Hope we can pull it off. . . .

 

 

 

Sunday Short Story Day

Week five in the books. . . .

  1. In the Hard Nowhere by Chris Rhatigan from Watch You Drown (ebook) (01/29/2012)
  2. Padre by AJ Hayes from Pulp Ink (ebook) (01/29/2012)
  3. The Creation of Ice by Sandra Seamans from Pulp Ink (ebook) (01/29/2012)
  4. The Dame, the Doctor, and the Device by Chris F. Holm from A Rip Through Time (ebook) (01/13/2012)
  5. Scales by Louise Erdrich from The Red Convertible (Harper Collins) (01/30/2012)
  6. The Crawling Sky by Joe R. Lansdale from Son of Retro Pulp Tales (Subterranean) (01/30/2012)
  7. Sleep, Creep, Leap by Patricia Abbott from Damn Near Dead 2 (Busted Flush) (01/31/2012)
  8. Black Step by Daniel Woodrell from The Outlaw Album (Little Brown) (01/31/2012)
  9. The Shrewd Variant by Kieran Shea from Needle: A Magazine of Noir (Spring 2010) (02/01/2012)
  10. .44 Blues by Kent Gowran from Needle: A Magazine of Noir (Spring 2010) (02/01/2012)
  11. Countdown by Eric Beetner from Needle: A Magazine of Noir (Spring 2010) (02/01/2012)
  12. The Blood Bay by Annie Proulx from Close Range (Scribner) (02/02/2012)
  13. Pills by Donald Ray Pollock from Knockemstiff (Anchor Books) (02/02/2012)
  14. Battles, Broadswords, and Bad Girls by Charles Gramlich from A Rip Through Time (ebook) (02/03/2012)
  15. Chaos in the Stream by Garnett Elliott from A Rip Through Time (ebook) (02/03/2012)
  16. Darkling in the Eternal Space by Chad Eagleton from A Rip Through Time (ebook) (02/03/2012)
  17. Furlough by Alan Heathcock from Volt (Graywolf) (02/03/2012)
  18. The Final Painting of Hawley Exton by Chad Eagleton from A Rip Through Time (ebook) (02/04/2012)
  19. Zed’s Dead, Baby by Eric Beetner from Pulp Ink (ebook) (02/05/2012)
  20. Your Mother Should Know by Allan Guthrie from Pulp Ink (ebook) (02/05/2012)
  21. Giganthomachy by Donald Ray Pollock from Knockemstiff (Anchor Books) (02/05/2012)

The highlights for me were the Louise Erdrich story, the Joe Lansdale story (amazingly, the first piece of his fiction I’ve ever read that I can recall!), and “The Blood Bay” by Annie Proulx, which was just a blast of a story to read. Also finished that A Rip Through Time ebook, which is well worth your time if you dig pulpy time travel stuff, written by some of the best in the business.

 

Sunday Short Story Day

Week four, still going strong.

  1. Special Topic: Terrorism by Hal Niedzviecki from Look Down, This Is Where It Must Have Happened (City Lights) (01/22/2012)
  2. The Woods by Benjamin Percy from Refresh, Refresh (Graywolf) (01/22/2012)
  3. Pig Helmet & The Wall of Life by Pinckney Benedict from Noir at the Bar (Subterranean) (01/22/2012)
  4. An Orphan’s Tale by Jonathan Woods from Noir at the Bar (Subterranean) (01/22/2012)
  5. It’s Too Late, Baby by Annette Meyers from A Hell of a Woman (Busted Flush) (01/23/2012)
  6. The Sutton Pie Safe by Pinckney Benedict from Town Smokes (Ontario) (01/23/2012)
  7. Florianne by Daniel Woodrell from The Outlaw Album (Little Brown) (01/23/2012)
  8. Ballad of Larry Plank by Derek Nikitas from Noir at the Bar (Subterranean) (01/23/2012)
  9. Five Revelations Concerning Jenny L. As Told To Maura C. By A Compassionate Angel by Laura Benedict from Noir at the Bar (Subterranean) (01/24/2012)
  10. Falling Out Of Love by Larry Brown from Big Bad Love (Vintage) (01/24/2012)
  11. The Mud Below by Annie Proulx from Close Range (Scribner) (01/24/2012)
  12. Care of the Circumcised Penis by Sean Doolittle from Noir at the Bar (Subterranean) (01/24/2012)
  13. The Morning After by Jedidiah Ayres from Noir at the Bar (Subterranean) (01/24/2012)
  14. Underground Wonder Bound by Richard Thomas from Noir at the Bar (Subterranean) (01/24/2012)
  15. To Build a Fire by Jack London from The Great Adventure Stories of Jack London (Bantam) (01/25/2012)
  16. Hair’s Fate by Donald Ray Pollock from Knockemstiff (Anchor Books) (01/25/2012)
  17. Outside Lou’s by David Cirillo from Noir at the Bar (Subterranean) (01/25/2012)
  18. Everyone Grieves in a Unique Way by Anthony Neal Smith from Noir at the Bar (Subterranean) (01/25/2012)
  19. Big Artie by Malachi Stone from Noir at the Bar (Subterranean) (01/25/2012)
  20. Vampires are Pussies by Chris La Tray from Noir at the Bar (Subterranean) (01/25/2012)
  21. Peacekeeper by Alan Heathcock from Volt (Graywolf) (01/26/2012)
  22. Slippy for President by Steve Almond from The Best American Erotica 2005 (Touchstone) (01/26/2012)
  23. Good in a Crisis by Alethea Black from I Knew You’d Be Lovely (Broadway) (01/27/2012)
  24. Helper by Joseph Bruchac from Indian Country Noir (Akashic) (01/27/2012)
  25. The Killing by Benjamin Percy from Refresh, Refresh (Graywolf) (01/28/2012)
  26. Lusus Naturae by Margaret Atwood from McSweeney’s Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories (Vintage) (01/28/2012)

I did more than two-a-day several days this week, because I wanted to wrap up reading that Noir at the Bar collection. Speaking of which, it was 2011’s #1 bestselling paperback at Subterranean Books in St. Louis, the store the collection was put together to benefit. That’s pretty cool. Another good indication that you should buy it if you haven’t already. Just sayin’. . . .

Read some great stories this week. That Annie Proulx story is probably the best story I’ve read all year. Which surprises me because she’s kind of hit and miss for my tastes. Ben Percy’s “The Killing” was the best of his I’ve read yet as well. That dude writes from a place I can relate to more than few other writers. Plus he seems to be a good dude.

 

Photo Finish Friday

The Ansel Adams Meets Easy Rider Edition.

 

This is a self portrait of yours truly from August of 2007 (damn, that’s almost five years ago!). It’s from Yosemite National Park. I was on a work trip in the Sierras and wrapped up early. Since I was so close to Yosemite and I had never been before, I took a vacation day to go check it out. It is as magnificent as it seems — impossible to describe, really. It’s good to be reminded that, for all my longing to see other places around the world, there is a lot of stuff right here in the USA that can put me on my knees.

I was reminded of it because the following video came across my Google reader today, courtesy of one of one of my favorite feeds, Vagabondish. Fire this sucker up and watch it in full screen. I literally found myself brought nearly to tears watching it, especially the night scenes with the stars and galaxies passing overhead.

 

 

 

 

The J.O.T. Film Festival, Day Four

Monday night was supposed to be Coens Night at the JOTFF. Things started off with a bang.

True Grit

Damn, I love this movie; liked it even more the second time around than I did when I saw it in the theater. Makes me realize just how much I really don’t like the original John Wayne version. Love the book though, which reminds me — need to read more Charles Portis.

Things to note:

  • The take Jeff Bridges has on Rooster Cogburn crushes Wayne’s take. Crushes it.
  • People gripe about Bridges’s garbled lines. I think it fits the character perfectly.
  • Matt Damon is perfect as Texas Ranger LaBoeuf. Does Damon ever not deliver (no, I’m not going to test the answer to my own question by seeing We Bought a Zoo)?
  • Same goes for Josh Brolin. He almost saved that P.O.S. Jonah Hex movie (which would have been awesome if I’d been in charge).
  • Despite all I’ve said about the excellence of the veterans in the cast, young Hailee Steinfeld pretty much steals the show. What an outstanding job.
  • Love the cinematography too. The locations they used in Texas and New Mexico are gorgeous.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: the world needs more new Westerns. What a great movie.

 

When it was over, I fired up Netflix, eager to watch Fargo. They don’t have it streaming. My disappointment was huge. So I thought I’d watch Blood Simple. They don’t have that one either! I was enraged. Thought about making a run to the video store, which would have necessitated putting some pants on. I looked at the clock and decided I’d just call it a night and read a goddamn book. When I talked to her over the phone as I was making this decision, Julia said I should watch Miller’s Crossing. Which would have been the smart thing to do. But I can’t have Julia making suggestions on what films should run during the J.O.T. Film Festival. Sometimes a man needs to take stand. Show “true grit” and all that.

 

Next up: X Night.