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Klavan On The Culture

Breaking Ball

September 19th, 2014 - 8:55 am

Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston welcomes the baseball post season with this very funny promo for his new one man show.  ”Any actor who tells you that he’s not inspired by Bugs Bunny is a liar, frankly, or just a hack.” Amen.

Watch. Very enjoyable:

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He should do an NFL version of this where he punches himself in the face, then dresses up in a skirt and drops to the floor unconscious.


Great Writing About Scary Writing

September 17th, 2014 - 6:35 am

John J. Miller… or someone.

There is precious little intelligent writing about ghost stories and horror but you know who’s doing some? My pal John J. Miller. I don’t just say this because he’s a friend, but because the last two pieces he did on the subject were absolutely terrific. The piece he wrote recently for the wonderful Claremont Review on H.P. Lovecraft — The Horror, The Horror — was so good I actually had to write the guy a fan letter. Sure, I knew he’d use it against me some day but what could I do? Reading his essay was like eating some kind of confection. Try this bit:

The biggest barrier to Lovecraft’s mainstream acceptance had been his status as a writer of horror fiction—a field of literature that suffers from the suspicion that its readers take a perverse delight in graphic descriptions of torture and murder. This is an unfortunate misunderstanding, brought on in part by the sad fact that some horror books and movies really are no better than this. In its practical application, however, the classification horror encompasses a wide range of creative expression, from lowbrow penny dreadfuls and shilling shockers to Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw. Much of the confusion is semantic. Strictly defined, horror is a blend of fear and disgust, the revulsion we feel in the face of cruelty and decay. Although Lovecraft certainly exploited this emotion—read the final paragraph of “The Rats in the Walls,” for instance—most of the time he aimed higher. The finest horror fiction is really about terror, which combines fear and awe in a powerful sensation that haunts rather than startles. Lovecraft sometimes used the term supernatural horror, but as a thoroughgoing materialist, he didn’t really believe in the supernatural. If a phenomenon appeared to violate the laws of nature, he argued, it was only because we didn’t understand the science of the laws. Much of Lovecraft’s work originally ran in a pulp magazine called Weird Tales, with weird meaning eerie or uncanny. Yet that promising word never really caught on as a label. So we’re stuck with calling it all horror, and cramming slasher flicks like Friday the 13th and its interminable sequels into the same broad category as the most refined ghost stories, such as Vladimir Nabokov’s “The Vane Sisters” and Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House.

Dude! That’s what good writing about genre fiction looks like when it’s at home. The rest is here.

John did another great one on the ghost story writer Robert Aickman — one of my favorites — for the WSJ, but it’s behind a paywall. But there’s more good stuff on his website.


Feminists: Idiots or Shrikes?

September 14th, 2014 - 8:58 am
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It is no doubt some mysterious function of divine justice that feminism turns its adherents into caricatures of helpless and irrational females. I know so many homemaker moms who possess incredible dignity and self-possession — the respect and power that such womanly women acquire without even trying is kind of startling and wonderful. And of course, I also know plenty of more careerist women who show up and do their jobs well without a lot of fuss and bother about their gender. But feminists?

So help me, every dame I know who is an avowed feminist comes across as Betty Boop with PMS and a hatchet. They tremble in fear before the objectifying power of the Male Gaze. They eschew rational argument and revel in shrieking nonsense. And their attempts to imitate the boorish sexuality of the worst of men inevitably morph into faux Victorian prudery.

And what in the world is this weird, crazy obsession with campus rape? Inflating the statistics. Going into hysterics whenever someone points out the numbers are wrong. And rejecting any suggestion that women ought to take care at night or learn self-defense or stay sober around strangers as “blaming the victim.”

Perhaps the campus rape hysteria is a sign of misplaced revulsion at the college booze-and-hook-up culture which does, in fact, degrade women and which is part of the “sexual liberation” that feminists stupidly supported. That is, maybe it’s a way feminists can get girls out of a situation they helped create without taking any responsibility for having helped to create it.

I hope so. Because if it’s not that, then the whole foofaraw comes across as some sort of Freudian kookiness wherein feminists are so fearful of their secret rape fantasies they project them onto the world. Can’t they just read Fifty Shades of Grey like everyone else and let it go?

Then again, there’s also the possibility that there’s some kind of shrewish method to the girly madness.

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Crowder Gets Louder

September 12th, 2014 - 10:39 am

He’s back — and more Islamophobic than ever! Steven Crowder returns to the video world with a vicious assault on the religion of peace that features Dana Loesch in a genuinely hilarious cameo.

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Klavan At The PJTV Store

September 11th, 2014 - 5:17 am

“Shut up!” No, really, I mean you!

If there is one thing I try to emphasize to everyone who knows me, it’s this: I can be bought. And, in fact, this turns out to be more true than even I suspected! Now, without getting a membership to PJTV, you can visit the PJTV Store and get the complete Klavan on the Culture series as well as the complete Klavan/Whittle conversations for the appropriately exorbitant price of only $32.00. For $35.00, I will also paint your house. In any case, hit the link, drop the dough and treat yourself to hours of hilarity, insight and wisdom. Or buy my DVD’s instead and use them as a handy set of coasters!

It’s all right here.

The Distraction of Obama’s Character

September 8th, 2014 - 6:48 am
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Toward the end of the romantic comedy film The American President,  Michael Douglas’s President Shepherd tells the assembled press corps, “Being president of this country is entirely about character.” This 1995 movie was made as a way of rescuing the scurrilous character of Bill Clinton from accusations of womanizing. It’s a pleasant and entertaining film but this line of dialogue, like just about everything else in the picture, is untrue.

Being president of this country is somewhat about character — everything in life is — but it is also, very much, about ideas.

There have been times over this past summer when I have felt I was living in Night of Camp David. Most people probably don’t remember that old thriller but it was by a once-famous bestselling novelist named Fletcher Knebel. It dealt with a senator who began to suspect the commander-in-chief was insane and couldn’t get anyone to believe him. Watching Obama’s narcissistic personality disorder rise to the surface as, one after another, his policies have imploded has given me that Knebellian sense of anxiety.

One of the ugliest summer moments — representative of so many others — was that grinning Martha’s Vineyard golf game the commander-in-chief played after his apparently solemn reaction to the Muslim beheading of American reporter James Foley. After taking some heat for the PR gaffe, the president remarked ruefully, “I should’ve anticipated the optics.” Yes, he probably should’ve at least pretended to give a damn for a couple of more hours.

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A Great New Culture Site

September 5th, 2014 - 7:30 am

While America suffers the wages of leftism in the political sphere — authoritarianism, censorship and sluggish economy at home; spreading violence and tyranny abroad — those who are in and on the right have been making a strong move into the all-important world of culture. At Britain’s socialist newspaper The Guardian, cranky lefty Ewan Morrison (h/t Instapundit and Reason) complains that most of the recent YA films — The Giver, Hunger Games, Divergent — honestly depict state oppression and champion libertarian freedom. As one leftist commenter cries, “The masses are increasingly right wing with an antagonism to politics and to the state. They need to be confronted.” To which Instapundit hilariously replies, “Confront away, Big Boy.”

And here’s more good news: there’s an excellent major new movie site that champions civilized values too. HollywoodinToto features a look at pop culture with “a Conservative Edge.” The edgy-guy in chief there is Christian Toto, who for a long time was one of the best culture writers at Big Hollywood. He knows movies and TV well, both from an aesthetic and political perspective.

The site is already rocking with cool, smart articles like “Sopranos vs. Breaking Bad: Why Walter White Wins,” and “The Sad, Unpredictable Fall of Russell Brand,” along with lots of reviews of films old and new.

Listen, I’m not against complaining about left wing culture — but I am against complaining and not supporting the true culture warriors of the right. Christian Toto is one of them — I mean, just look at his name! Check the site out. You’ll be glad.

Is Ayn Rand Nonsense?

September 4th, 2014 - 9:48 am

Me and Bill Whittle take on the Randians.  Don’t hate us because we’re beautiful.  Hate us because we think you’re wrong! Although obviously, we’re also beautiful.

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I Sign On to The Gosnell Movie

September 3rd, 2014 - 10:10 am

Back in May, when I promoted Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer in their heroic effort to crowd fund a movie about abortionist/serial killer Kermit Gosnell, I did not expect that I was going to end up writing it! But according to what I read in The Hollywood Reporter, that’s how it has shaken out:

The TV movie or feature film about imprisoned abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell has hired as its writerAndrew Klavan, a bestselling novelist whose book True Crime was made into a movie starring and directed by Clint Eastwood.

Those behind the Gosnell project set a record at Indiegogo in May by raising more than $2.1 million via a crowdfunding campaign. Klavan is expected to use gruesome details from a grand jury report to craft the story of Gosnell, who was convicted of murder after killing live babies born at his Philadelphia abortion clinic.

“As I’ve begun to get into the research materials, it’s started to come home to me that we’ve all taken on a huge responsibility,” Klavan said. “The women who were brutalized by this Gosnell monster — they can tell their stories. But all his victims, all those babies — we’ve got to figure out a way to speak for them somehow.”

Klavan also wrote Don’t Say a Word, which was made into a movie starring Michael Douglas, and he authored a series of young-adult novels called The Homelanders. He also has written opinion articles for several newspapers, including a controversial piece in The Wall Street Journal that compared Batman as portrayed in The Dark Knight to President George W. Bush.

The producers of Gosnell, husband and wife Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney, along with Magdalena Segieda, have made their case that their independent movie is necessary because the mainstream media and traditional Hollywood has largely ignored Gosnell and his crimes, and Klavan agrees.

I do indeed, and I’m very excited to be part of this project.  Phelim and Ann are top-notch filmmakers and people, and it’s a genuine pleasure to be working with them on a story of this importance.

“Haunting Melissa 2″ Is Looking Great!

August 29th, 2014 - 10:13 am


Exclusive still from HM2: Dark Hearts

Exclusive still from HM2: Dark Hearts

Director Neal Edelstein has finished filming my script for the sequel of the bestselling and Appy-award-winning  storytelling app Haunting Melissa It’s called Haunting Melissa 2: Dark Hearts, and I have to say, it is looking unbelievably good. I had a chance to see some of the dailies as they were coming in, and then dropped in on Neal in the editing room the other day to watch some rough cut scenes. As spooky as the first story was, he is definitely taking the thing to a new level.

For those of you who didn’t get a chance to download the first Haunting Melissa app, it’s very innovative, very cool. It delivers filmed portions of a ghost story to your iPhone or iPad on its own schedule. You never know when your phone is suddenly going to whisper, “Melissssssa,” scaring the bejabbers out of you and announcing that a new chapter of the creepy tale has arrived.

The first film, also directed by Neal and written by me, told the story of Melissa Strogue, who begins hearing voices while staying alone in the farmhouse where her mother died.  If you want to watch the story before the sequel comes out, it’s still available, though it’s exclusive to iOS devices and as far as I know, there are no plans to do an Android version any time soon.

Anyway, when you write for film but don’t direct, you never know how things are going to turn out, and I’m very excited to see the way this is going. Every scene I’ve watched so far has been well shot, well acted, emotional and scary. The beautiful Kassia Warshawski returns to play the title role, and the somewhat less beautiful but still talented Greg Lawson — who just recently had a part in the Fargo TV series — is back as her father.

It’s nice when you’re able to plug something you’ve worked on and do it with complete honesty. I think I can honestly recommend:  if you like ghost stories, download Haunting Melissa and watch it now, because you’re definitely going to want to see the sequel.

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