The ecstasy of Gold: News August 2020

Sorry for that missed weekend, Tonstant Weader, but there is a fair amount of news this time around. Let’s pretend we were getting everything into order.

First, I’ll get the shameless self-promotion out of the way. Two short stories of mine are upcoming in anthologies. The first is a weird philosophical musing in a collection of time travel stories to be called “On Time,” and the second is a tense psychodrama in a collection of thrillers to be called “Hookman and Friends.”

The good folks at Transmundane Press, the publisher of “On Time,” interviewed me not too long ago about my story. You can find that interview on their blog, which is conveniently also a WordPress blog. There will be more content from them in the future, which is fitting for time travelers, so keep your eyes peeled.

Righto, enough of that. There’s some not-so-me content coming to this blog in the next couple weeks. For one, the Xbox Live Gold account referred to in the previous post means that this blog has access to certain games for a month at a time. There must be something to review there. Right now, there’s an old school sci fi shooter, a “Minecraft” rip-off with dragons, uh, a brawler with mechs, something featuring dirt bikes… Naw, I’m not feeling these games. Maybe the shooter. Or maybe I’ll just check again in October.

Screw it, we’ll do some old horror movie reviews instead. It was just Alfred Hitchcock’s birthday, and H. P. Lovecraft’s is coming up. We’ll figure something out.

Finally, this post’s title does not just refer to Xbox gold. “The Ecstacy of Gold” is the name of a track from the soundtrack of “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” that some of you might know because Metallica covered it at concerts. The original was composed by the great Ennio Morricone, who passed away last month. I feel like this blog should say something about that.

Morricone is most famous for essentially inventing the genre of Spaghetti Western music, but he also scored a number of thrillers and horror films, including “Exorcist II,” ”
“Ripley’s Game” and, perhaps most notably, John Carpenter’s “The Thing.” His impressionist soundtrack is an integral part of the themes and atmosphere of that film, and it is understandably one of horror’s greatest scores.

I think the story that best sums up my experience and opinion of Morricone comes from my viewing of the 1965 Italian thriller “Nightmare Castle,” a creaker that drags out all of the tropes of Gothic fiction without any depth, fun or a shred of budget to make it watchable. For me, the most notable aspect was the soundtrack. With its towering church organ it was as Gothic as everything else, but it had a certain elegance, inventiveness or quality the rest of the film was missing. I didn’t know who the composer was, so I looked it up. Of course, it was Morricone.

That wasn’t my introduction to Morricone. Far from it, his soundtrack for “Once Upon a Time in the West” already topped my short list of favorite film scores. What’s so special about that experience was it shows a Morricone score could elevate a mediocre film into something memorable. One doesn’t have to see his name to recognize his genius. That’s more than quality; it’s visionary. He will be missed.

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