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3.03.2015

Cold on the Mountain


All they wanted was a vacation to the Grand Canyon. Instead, they found themselves on a collision course with a terrible, timeless darkness.

Welcome to Adrienne, home to history’s worst serial killers and mass murderers. Nestled in an isolated meadow high in the Sierra Nevada, Adrienne is sort of like a cosmic lint trap. It collects the universe’s negative energy—all of our blackest human impulses—before purging that darkness back into the world in a yearly lottery. From Hitler to Bin Laden…Bundy to Gacy, Adrienne is the way station for dark energy that doesn’t just pass on—it passes through.

When Phil Benson decides to take an unmarked detour over the mountain, he drives his family into the mouth of madness, where they are forced to join a captive labor pool with little hope for freedom. Escape is pointless and time stretches out into eternity, with every new day the same as the last.

Sometimes, it’s better just to skip the shortcut.

With echoes of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” Stephen King’s Needful Things, and Blake Crouch’s Pines series, Cold on the Mountain treads the boundary between horror and supernatural suspense.

Purchase a digital copy for your preferred reading experience:

Thanks for your support, and I hope the novel provides an entertaining escape!


2.17.2015

Observations on Horror...

I enjoyed Tusk (2014) quite a bit. First off, it's bizarro stuff. The lunacy at the center of the film, coupled with the sharp writing and silly exchanges between the film's American and Canadian counterparts, makes this a guilty pleasure for me. 

Throw in the frequent Kevin Smith collaborator Michael Parks, who is pitch perfect as Howard Howe, and Justin Long, whose turn in Jeepers Creepers is still one of my favorite recent horror performances, and you have a positively lovely way to spend ninety minutes. 

It's strange to see Haley Joel Osment in this role. Watch the film and you'll see what I mean. He's great--don't get me wrong. It's just...well, just watch it. 

I thought this weekend's bleak episode of The Walking Dead ("Them") was really well done. I have read a lot of negativity about it, but I think it was just what the show needed, and at the right time. With the back-to-back deaths of Beth and Tyreese, the show needed to step back and show the minutia of the survivors' plight. Look, I love character development. Like Stephen King says, character is king (he, he). I like longish films (I really enjoy that 120-minute slot) because we get to see more of the moment-to-moment experiences that color our attachment to these people. 

This show has done a really fine job of filling these characters with life while still keeping the action at full throttle. It's tricky, to be sure, and they are to be commended that, from time to time, they can step back and let us live a little in this universe as opposed to moving on to the next abandoned building...

2.10.2015

Cold on the Mountain

Grab an advance reader copy of my new novel Cold on the Mountain!


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Cold on the Mountain by Daniel Powell

Cold on the Mountain

by Daniel Powell

Giveaway ends February 15, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

2.02.2015

Dark Mountain

I was really interested in Dark Mountain (2013), right up until the third act lost its rhythm a little bit. There's some interesting film-making here, in addition to a small (but capable) cast that has believable chemistry on camera.

The real star here is the Superstition Mountains in Arizona. The repetition of dirt and rocks (Paul has a memorable freak-out moment about those same rocks and dirt late in the film) is dizzying, and there's a delicious aura of menace as the trio moves deeper into the mystic unknown.

The search for the Lost Dutchman Mine is a nice piece of Western lore, and one that made me look deeper into the film's central plot carrot. There is definitely a lot of documented unhappiness up in those hills, and some of that sorrow and madness comes across nicely in this found-footage piece.

Sure, it doesn't quite pay off the investment in those final scenes, but I really think it's much better than the unforgiving appraisals I've noticed online. I'll definitely look for more by Tara Anaise, and Howard, Simpson, and Stehlin delivered fine performances in this low-budget thriller.

1.28.2015

A Few Thoughts on American Sniper

I'd like to go see American Sniper (2015). I love Clint Eastwood's films, and I'm interested to see Bradley Cooper's acting chops. The Oscar buzz is, of course, another aspect that piques my interest.

It's a curious film, one that is smashing box office records while igniting what has been described in The Washington Times as a new round of culture wars. 

Biopics are, by definition, designed to portray true events. AFI has an interesting piece on the genre (though dealing with James Brown and not Chris Kyle). I went to AS's official Web site, looking for the studio's own phrasing on how they're labeling the film. Is it a true biopic, or did the writers and producers cherry pick the events for Hollywood? Did they dramatize some details while leaving others out? If so, then calling it a biopic might be a stretch. 

Perhaps as a testament to the film's interest, the site wouldn't load. 

War films are tricky. Perhaps more than any other genre, these films inspire discussion and shape our collective understanding of the pivotal moments of our era. In that way, they bear the greatest informative scrutiny for their care in how they depict conflict--in how they mediate death and destruction in the light of winning and losing. 

It's a tough task, to be sure.

Kyle lived an extraordinary life in a very volatile period in human history. He wrote about his experiences in his memoir, and we can contrast that book with the findings advanced in such studies as the 9/11 Commission Report in order to get a fuller picture of what happened in Iraq and how our soldiers were forced to deal with combat. 

As is the case with most of these contentious political debates, there's probably multiple truth values embedded in this discussion, and it's on each of us to make sense of the material for ourselves. I hope to see the film soon, and I'm looking at it for both entertainment and contextual purposes. A film can be entertaining, by the way, without traipsing into the realm of propaganda.

1.26.2015

Quick Thoughts on Peer Review...

Motherboard has posted an interesting piece on an "article" that was published in Science Bulletin. This Monckton character has a well-documented history of espousing junk science, so how on Earth did this pass the editorial process?

It looks like it was rushed through review, and doesn't look as though it was thoroughly vetted by actual scientists.

For those preparing work for publication, here are a few thoughts:

  • Scrutinize the journal's board of directors. Do you recognize names on that list? Are there theorists on the board actively publishing in your field?
  • There is no professional distinction anymore between digital and print publication. In fact, if you actually want folks to read your work, you might simply target digital publications from the start.
  • If you are publishing in the digital humanities or humanities computing, Penn's CFP Web site is a great resource.
  • Any reputable publication will take your essay through anonymous peer review.
  • Be respectful of the guidelines, and contact the editor if you have any questions on special features of your piece. I've found editors to be quick and helpful when fielding such inquiries.
  • Be careful about the rights you are assigning. If you want to republish your article, you might have some issues if your journal takes your rights.
  • This is just me, but I'd never pay even a single dollar to a journal to read my essay. I get a solicitation or four every day in my Outlook inbox for these publications, and I just shoot them into the trash. That's not only an expensive route to publication, but it's actually not a boon to your C.V. either. 
In order to maintain a vibrant marketplace for theory and analysis, publications have to shoot for quality, consistency, and accuracy. Try to find places that will publish you quickly in digital formats, are read (and governed) by people in your field, and who take your piece through at least some moderate level of peer review.

1.22.2015

On the Chile Trail


Coyote Joe did a great job with this one. I love these recipes, and I enjoy the challenge of finding and cooking with some of these obscure chiles. Well worth your time and effort to give this cookbook a look...