Tag Archives: writing

Cinema’s Beautiful Blowhard

The Beautiful Blowhard

I wrote an essay recommending Samuel Fuller’s work. A portion of what I said:

“A Fuller film careers between drama and melodrama; it stars scene-chewing actors; is low budget, and has the subtlety of a machete. A Fuller film can start out being about one thing (such as in one of my favorites, Crimson Kimono , where it begins in a Noirish vein, with two cops investigating a crime in 1950s L.A.) only to veer off somewhere else (racism against Asians). Watching a Fuller film is seeing the unpredictable. It breaks the rules of “good” writing—and just goes for the jugular. Continue reading Cinema’s Beautiful Blowhard

New in Noo Journal: “Baby Love”

I have a super-short fiction piece in the current issue of Noo Journal.

My work-from-home scheme fell on hard times and we had to move to another place, a property I’d bought as an investment, but had never planned on living in. It smelled of dogs and children. Even after we’d been there for many years, we found rawhide bones and pacifiers behind the refrigerator, under the stove, and in the basement.

Continue reading New in Noo Journal: “Baby Love”

The Caine Prize, E.C., and Me

I wrote about the the recent Caine Prize for African Writing award for the Guernica blog.

Spoiler Alert (not really, one could hardly be a surprised, I’d imagine, by what I wrote): I say that my favorite thing about the award is that the short story was unsolicited.

Read my essay about E.C. winning the Caine Prize for African Writing HERE

Read EC’s Guernica story HERE

Museyon Guides: Praised in The New York Times

A book I contributed to, Museyon Guides Film + Travel: North America was praised in The New York Times. My segment on the South, which included Deliverance and Gone With the Wind, was mentioned with praise.

From the banjo and guitar face-off near the Chattooga River, where ”Deliverance” was filmed, to Marilyn Monroe’s billowing dress over a subway grate at Lexington Avenue and 52nd Street in New York in ”The Seven Year Itch,” movie scenes often evoke a strong sense of place.

The creators of ”Museyon Guides’ Film + Travel,” a new travel guide trilogy, have taken this idea and run with it, locating some of the most memorable scenes from the movies and organizing them into books focusing on North and South America (198 films, including ”Gone With the Wind” and ”The Official Story” from Argentina); Europe (199 films, including ”Lawrence of Arabia” with its desert scenes done in Spain); and Asia, Oceania and Africa (139 films, including ”Mad Max” and ”Lost in Translation”).

A great project, it was truly fun to work on.

ASSME: a site I’ve been writing for


I’ve been participating in a community blog, for the group, ASSME (American Society of Shit-Canned Media Elites). They’re at assme.org I’ve written several entries so far. The latest one I posted today.

It’s a long piece I wrote that I could have just summed up with this song.

(Song makes me think of this Chesterton line, ““Children are innocent and love justice, while most adults are wicked and prefer mercy.” I’m wicked enough to prefer mercy.)

An Imaginary South: Advance Publicity for the Museyon book

So says the blog entry:

The American South is deeply tied-up in mythology. While onscreen it’s immortalized in classics like Gone With The Wind — a film shot in California and starring a British actress — the real South is as complex as the wide variety of films that have tried to capture it. Join Meakin Armstrong as he travels the South from Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia, through South Carolina, Mississippi and North Carolina. End up in Natchitoches, Louisiana, the setting for two vastly different interpretations of the South, Steel Magnolias and John Wayne’s The Horse Soldiers.

The book I contributed to, Museyon: Film + Travel will be out shortly.

An article I wrote is up on Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood

I love Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood; I think it’s one of the best on the Web, maybe because it’s so focused: it’s concerned with true stories that take place in New York City.

How Mr. Beller describes my piece:

“From Kobe, Japan to New York City (and Back Again)
As the young son of the American Consul-General to Japan’s industrial center, Meakin Armstrong endured anti-Vietnam War “Yankee, Go home!” protests, a best friend who hanged himself, and a sad lack of Frosted Flakes, for which Fruit Loops is no substitute. Growing up American in Japan must have seemed strange, but not as strange as coming home to encounter his own country for the first time, only to find out that he, like the Japanese, find the gaijin a little bit odious.”

InDigest fiction

The fine folks at Indigestmag.com have put up a short story of mine, The Missing Years. It’s from a novel I’ve been working on. The story is an early draft.

It’s so good to read something from the novel. At least it’s good for me, because lately I’ve been writing stories inspired by 1990s power ballads. The stories vary wildly from the novel (for one thing, the “power ballad” stories are meant to be funny).

Maybe I should stick with the novel? The novel is set in the South. The power ballad stories are, too, but. . . I digress.

InDigest is such a nice magazine. Take a look.

Better Bad TV ahead

Looks like the WGA is going to settle their strike. Meanwhile there’s the below

a parody of the Tom Cruise video in support of the WGA. A daring video to make: Cruise runs United Artists, don’t forget. It’s a good send-up of a pompous ass.

Once they settle, though we’ll be back to bad TV. More of that all-too-common character the TV writers will come up with this season and next: the Mad Genius. It’s a character I first noticed on the X Files. That show’s main character, Fox Mulder, was erratic, funny, a nonconformist who wore a suit and tie, but nonetheless still worked for The Man. He was considered a jerk by everyone, including his coworker Sculley, who after years and years, never learned that her partner was always right.

People discourage that Mad Genus character. But he’s always right. Same with CSI. Same with House. Same with every other detective show out right now.

I wonder what that means. Previous shows, if the detective worked for The Man, say a government agency, he was a Steve McGarrett, who used every one of the government’s tentacles to get that weasely criminal. But now—it’s a disgruntled worker who is one who finds him. On the cheap. Because he’s obsessed.

This isn’t to be confused with the whack-job detective who figures stuff out. The whack job isn’t all-knowing. The detective in the movie Zodiac is an example of that. Or to stay with TV, that old series Columbo. Columbo wasn’t sexy-man smart. He wasn’t always right; he was seeking out what was right, all the while getting discouraged in his efforts by the villain (perfect post-Watergate fodder). Columbo, however, isn’t a character for today’s office workers to identify with. We prefer the smart guy who has just south of going postal.

That seems to be where we are right now. Viewers are disgruntled and want to identify with the disgruntled (who have been glamorized). Viewers seem to identify with the cause of truth, but not the force behind the cause, the bureaucracy.

Used to be the outlaw force of good was a private detective, the Rockford Files private eye. No more. We all work for The Man, now. We just do it reluctantly.

I guess the rest of us either turn off our TVs. Or turn to Scientology. Or Tom Cruise.

I smell children. . . (I’ve always loved this guy)

Those kids, it has always seemed to me, were damned insipid. They deserved everything they got. I remember thinking that when I was about six. They risked death for a lollipop.

Stupid kids.

I sighed through “Hushabye Mountain.” Still do. The world is no Hushabye Mountain, that’s for sure.

Anyway, the Child Catcher is a sort-of personal hero of mine, a great wallow in horror. The best character I know. He’s the boogie man, worse than a vampire, because he preys on children. And he rips them away from their parents. It’s so Anne Frank, really. How it must have terrified European parents in 1968, 23 years after the war. And note, too, that the parents dress in lederhosen.

Right now, I’m writing a short story about the Child Catcher, but am not quite pulling it off. . .

Interestingly, Ian Fleming didn’t pull it off, either.

His book, doesn’t even have the Child Catcher. In fact, it doesn’t even have the Baron; it’s a lackluster piece of hum-drumery of very low quality. Really, don’t bother. It’s just James Bond gadgets for kids. The family just rides around in France, for crying out loud.

I love it when movies are better than the book (Wizard of Oz, another one–there’s no Wicked Witch).

Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang was the second movie I ever saw (the first was something about a man who had befriended a shark). I saw it in some theater located on a high floor in Tokyo. I remember looking out the window in the lobby and seeing gigantic billboards. Below was all of Japan.

With me was my nanny, Miss Kim. I had no worries about Child Catchers in gentle Japan. If I was lost, it was easy to find my tall, Caucasian mother. My nephews, however, who grew up in South Carolina, were terrified by this scene.

Oh, their delicate horror.

On another note: Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd does “Hushabye Mountain.” It’s kind of Dark Side of the Rainbow.

Actually, THIS is Dark Side of the Rainbow