Archive for the Raves Category

Reunited and it feels so… good?

Posted in Books, Love, News, Rants, Raves on August 3, 2012 by Michael Louis Calvillo

I am a terribly sentimental person. Maudlin, in fact. I admit to having a very self-indulgent attachment to most everything! I probably have movie stubs of every movie Michael and I ever went to since the day we met. I’m bad. I mean, really, really bad. Seriously. If there’s a popcorn kernel lodged at the bottom of my purse, I sit and wonder if it was from a movie that had significant meaning… Better hang on to it just in case, right?

Michael, on the other hand, was not sentimental. He was a very simple man in a lot of ways. He loved music, videogames, books, and movies but never felt the need to hoard the physical casings of any of it. Well, he did collect books… But, if a friend or family member showed the slightest interest in any of the above… Yours! He simply didn’t hang on to many material items. Don’t get me wrong. He saved certain mementos. In fact, just last month I found a restaurant napkin tucked into one of his shoe boxes that I wrote a love message to him on.

Ouch. Love hurts.

Strangely, he also held sentimental value on a pressure washer and an old tripod that his father gave him. (Some of you already know that Michael’s father, “Daddy-o,” suddenly passed away just one day before Michael received his cancer diagnosis.) The pressure washer was a gift from Daddy-o when we bought our first home. Michael used it maybe once? The tripod was very old. We’re talkin’ old-old. I thought, “We have two tripods here. One is very old. The other new.” Seemed simple which one to get rid of but since the old one belonged to Michael, I asked him out of respect whether we should bid farewell to the old rusty tripod. He told me Daddy-o gave him that tripod in his youth and he used it to create videos from his band days. Alas, we have two tripods. One old. One new. These were the only two things I can recall him asking me to hang on to when we were packing up to move out of our home last year while he was sick. (Oh, there were also two buckets of weird orphan wires and cables he refused to part with… don’t ask! I didn’t.)

Snakes? I hate snakes!

Anyhow, some time last year, Michael’s 20 Year High School Reunion was announced. Michael was invited to a “VVHS 1992 High School Reunion” group on Facebook. He silently poked around the group reading the announcements and statuses people posted. One thing Michael found interesting was the amount of alumni that had passed. We’re talking at least 10?  I don’t know. That might not seem like a lot to you but when you’re talking about people your age that you used to know… It just didn’t seem normal. Michael read the “In Memoriams” to me… various cancers, random illnesses, suicides, MURDER!? C’mon, the Class of ’92 are only in their late 30s! As he was reading them to me, we had one of those brief “Elephant in the Room” moments. Neither of us said a word about what Michael was personally battling. It didn’t matter. He wasn’t going to be one of “them.” But honestly, if Stage IV Cancer didn’t make you hyper-aware of your own impending mortality, seeing that list certainly made it clearer. Cancer or not, you have to come to terms that life is quite random and we are not guaranteed tomorrow no matter what your current health status is.

My dear husband mentioned the reunion to me again in early February and pondered whether he wanted to attend or not. The organizers had chosen Las Vegas as the reunion spot. I suppose they all thought it’d be more fun to meet in Sin City rather than the “humble small town” we grew up in. In any case, we talked about possibly attending. We both thought it would be fun to get away to Las Vegas and catch up with some old classmates. (Michael and I both attended the same High School, although he was a grade level higher than me and we were not in each other’s social groups.) However, at some point in late February, we stopped talking about it all together.

The Victor Valley High School Class of 1992 will be reuniting this weekend. I’m actually sad we can’t be there. Today, as I thought about Michael’s reunion, I couldn’t help but reflect upon the legacy Michael left behind. Yes, I know, Michael’s Loyal Readers, my sentimentality is one of the things that makes healing from the loss of my dear sweet Michael so incredibly difficult. But… I wouldn’t have it any other way. Bring on the pain, I say.  In fact, as the old adage goes – misery loves company… So, join me, won’t you? Let’s stroll down Michael’s legacy and reflect upon his endless talent and passion for writing (each image is a link):

Published Novels, Novellas, and Collections

Full Novel
1st Edition
(Lachesis Publishing; 2007)
Finalist for the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel

Full Novel
(Bad Moon Books; 2009)
Black Quill Award Winner – “Best Small Press Chill: Readers’ Choice”
Black Quill Award Winner- “Best Cover Art & Design: Editors’ Choice”
Black Quill Award Winner – “Best Cover Art & Design: Readers’ Choice”

Short Story Collection
(Bad Moon Books; 2010)
Bram Stoker Award Finalist – “Superior Achievement in a Collection”
Dark Quill Award Winner- “Best Dark Genre Fiction Collection: Readers’ Choice”

(Delirium Books; 2011)

Full Novel
(Morning Star Press; 2011)
Preliminary Ballot – Bram Stoker Novel list

(Burning Effigy Press; 2011)
Bram Stoker Finalist – “Superior Achievement in Long Fiction”

Full Novel
(DarkFuse Publications; 2012)

Full Novel
2nd Edition
(DarkFuse Publications; 2012)

Full Novel
(Bad Moon Books; TBA 2013)

Published Anthologies

Short Story: “Consumed”
Edited by R.J. Cavender
(Cutting Block Press; 2008)
Preliminary Bram Stoker Ballot – “Superior Achievement in Short Fiction”

Short Story: “There’s No Place in a Sleeping World for a Wakeful Man”
Edited by Shane Ryan Staley
(Delirium Books; 2011)

Poem: “Devolution”
Edited by Christopher Conlon
(Dark Scribe Press; 2011)

Butcher Knives & Body Counts: Essays on the Formula, Frights, and Fun of the Slasher Film

Essay on the Formula, Frights, & Fun of the Slasher Film: “Embracing the Chaos”
Edited by Vince A. Liaguno
(Dark Scribe Press; 2011)

Short Story: “The Sad, Not-So-Sad, Ballad of Goat-Head Jean,
Ambivalent Devil Queen”
Edited by Weldon Burge
(Smart Rhino Publications; 2012)

Reviews Galore!
(These aren’t all of Michael’s reviews…these are only links to the archives for two Horror-Entertainment websites that he frequently wrote reviews for.)

Horror Entertainment Website
Movie and Game Reviews
Edited by Greg Lamberson

Horror-Entertainment Website
Game Reviews
Edited by Michael Arruda and L.L. Soares
This website was a finalist for the HWA‘s BRAM STOKER AWARD for Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction (2010)


Original Feature Length Motion Picture
Currently in Production – Summer 2013
Written By: Michael Louis Calvillo
Directed By: Robert W. Filion

“Chekhov’s Children”
Short Film
Written By: Michael Louis Calvillo
Directed By: Robert W. Filion

“The Promise Jar”
Short Film
Written By: Michael Louis Calvillo, Robert W. Filion
Directed By: Robert W. Filion

Short Film
Written By: Michael Louis Calvillo
Directed By: Robert W. Filion

Gosh, this list doesn’t even include Michael’s cache of completed unpublished novels, novellas, screenplays, poems, etc. OR, the HUNDREDS of songs he wrote for the bands he was in… OR, all the raps he wrote for his students … OR, the raps he wrote just for fun… OR, all the beautiful love letters he wrote for me! (Sigh.)

And, yet… I still feel like I’m overlooking other things he wrote? (Am I? Probably.)

Well, in any case… I wanted to acknowlege all the amazing accomplishments Michael could’ve shared with his fellow alumni this weekend. Of course, if you knew Michael, he would have humbly kept all this to himself. His proud wife, on the other hand, would not have been able to keep herself from bragging!

Cheers, VVHS Class of 1992!

Michael Louis Calvillo
Victor Valley High School
Class of 1992



Posted in General, News, Raves on January 24, 2012 by Michael Louis Calvillo

How I love me some pasta. It used to be a weekly staple, but it fell out of the rotation. Why oh why did we give that up? What’s better than a kitchen smelling of pasta, fresh sauce, meatballs?

I hate how pasta is so heavy though. When I was a kid I never thought about it and ate as much pasta and meatballs as I could (my mama makes a mean meatball, see). I was very piggish. Nowadays, I’ve slowed my roll. My stomach is smaller.

Parmesan cheese is killer. I like it on each bite. Eating pasta has a physicality to it. Other dinners are serene by comparison. It’s hearty eating from the homeland (I pump my fist, repping my Italian blood). It runs neck and neck with Mexican food (I pump my other fist, repping my Hispanic heritage). I don’t think I could ever crown a winner. I think I could eat Mexican food more than once a week, but Italian is too much more than once.


(It’s weird posting a picture of pizza, but then, I LOVE pizza. It’s definitely one of my number one foods!)

In case it isn’t obvious, I am hungry. My wife is cooking up that pasta. I’m gonna grub it!

Food is the greatest.

The Mighty Survivor

Posted in General, News, Raves, Television on December 18, 2011 by Michael Louis Calvillo

Another fluffy post. Sorry, Loyal Reader, but the SURVIVOR finale is on and it’s like three hours long (including the reunion). Needless to say, I’m busy…

Maybe something more meaningful tomorrow? I saw YOUNG ADULT and it definitely deserves a review. We can always talk some shop – writing stuff, etc…

But for now, forget all that! It’s time for SURVIVOR!!! Heck yes! I still got two Survivors in the running (my wife and I always choose two contestants in the first few weeks and then we ride our horses to victory! I always lose. Fingers crossed one of my picks actually pulls out a win!).

The next time you want to do something and think that you can’t do it, just stop whining, play this song and get to it!


Babble On

Posted in General, News, Raves on December 16, 2011 by Michael Louis Calvillo

My mama is visiting and I ain’t got time to write. I leave you with these crazy, cool, freaky, brilliant(?), deranged babies!!!

The Art Of Film As Therapy

Posted in General, Movies, Raves on December 15, 2011 by Michael Louis Calvillo

The past few years have been pretty miserable when it comes to deaths and tragedies. Worst of all, I lost my dad. When it happened I had trouble crying and getting it out. I was sort of shocked and numb. It hurt like crazy. After his funeral, pain came prancing in, hitting below the belt, striking me stupid for a few minutes of sobbing. Every few months there it is, but time marches on. We get further from one death and closer to another. Life can be woeful, Loyal Reader.

All of this matters much in the matters surrounding my HUGO review. The movie tapped into themes that tapped into me. It made me feel mournful.

I think Martin Scorsese is an incredibly gifted filmmaker. I enjoy all of his movies (I even enjoyed GANGS OF NEW YORK, and that one didn’t do so well critically). In making a family film, what it lacks in brutal violence and a criminal element, it makes up for it in whimsy, heart, a sweet history lesson on early cinema, and some marvelous filmmaking. The film is a beautiful thing. It just might end up in my top 10 of all time.

(Automaton love)

Its plot (I’ll spare you the breakdown) is a series of interesting puzzles, but there’s real depth in the interaction between the characters. There’s a morose undercurrent – Hugo’s father is consumed by a ball of fire, his alcoholic Uncle dies and is found in the river, the police officer’s crippling war injury, add in film pioneer, Georges Melies’ fall from grace (and then even more sentimental – his restoration to greatness) – that give the movie its sad soul.

There’s lots here about loss and sorrow and regret. Little Hugo’s quest to figure out who his father was and the way the repercussions of his actions enable relationships that essentially make a few very sad lives, very happy ones, drives the film through a series of fantastical mysteries involving an automaton and film theory books and teeny tiny sprockets and springs. It warmed me and trust me, Loyal Reader, I’m not the type to fall for sentimental bull, feeling has to be grounded to work, it has to be a perfect storm of acting, directing, score, everything just comes together – most of these movies simply can’t pull it off. HUGO’s got it in spades.

We saw it in 3D. Scorsese uses the process thoughtfully. Things do not jump out at us, but scenes are constructed in way that they become physically deeper. Paired with fast moving tracking shots, like the opener that takes us through a train station, it’s a pretty cool effect. I really dug it. There are a few scenes, one with paper flying about, that look great in 3D. It’s incredible how in telling a tale about the world’s first special effects artiste, Scorsese manipulates 3D as if it’s an integral part of the film going experience. It’s actually worth the few extra bucks.

If you can’t catch it in 3D it is still totally worth watching. The movie looks great in either format.

In any case, I loved HUGO. It stirred me up. Only truly special films have that kind of power.

If you haven’t seen it, get out there! It’s definitely one for the big screen.

Webb Immortal

Posted in Books, General, News, Raves on December 14, 2011 by Michael Louis Calvillo

Fans are folks who get what I do with my writing. They enjoy my narrative abilities. It’s awesome to meet them. It’s even more awesome to send them free books.

Back in August, I ran a Free Book contest. All you had to do was review one of my works and post it anywhere you’d like on the big old Internet. Winner Jamey Webb was nice enough to review several of my works on a variety of sites. I sent over a pair of limited edition hardcovers and some swag. I even have evidence of their arrival…

(The SuperCool Jamey Webb)

Thanks, Jamey!

Enjoy the books, spread the word (if you are reading this – you too), party on.

I’ll run another contest sometime next year.

Until then, let’s wave our books in the air and rock out!

The Morning After (Or, How MLC Got His Groove Back)

Posted in General, Movies, Music, News, Rants, Raves on December 4, 2011 by Michael Louis Calvillo

Last night we had a Pajama Jammy Jam. A small gathering of friends came over for some pajama wearing fun. Everything went smoothly. We had a good time. I got to break in my new amps (which I’ve been blabbing about on this here blog for weeks and weeks). Though I had an awesome time, I didn’t have one of those transcendent music moments. We played a few cool jams, but I spent a lot of time just trying to find my groove. It was kind of disappointing, but, well, what can you do? You jam, once, twice, three times a year tops, and you’re bound to be rusty. Next time around, I hope to burn this mutha down.


(Beware my (eventual) power!)

Until then, I need more practice. I need to practice more. There’s nothing worse than the sound of ill-tuned, ill-timed, sloppy guitar playing (just thinking about it has me cringing).

So then, if you check in here daily, or every few days, or however you do, you may have noticed that I’ve missed a few blogging days. Sorry. I have no excuse, Loyal Reader. Chalk it up to laziness. I guess I can blame my new chemo. I switched from one poison to another (I’ll write about it one of these days) and the transition has been a little rough (not to worry, little being the operative word here).

This new chemo has a host of side effects (don’t they all), one of which being flu-like symptoms. I ache some and feel a bit flush and weak and all I want to do is watch TV and sleep and sleep and watch TV. Alas, it’s nothing I can’t tolerate. I’ll manage (and watch some bad movies on cable while on the mend – speaking of which, I caught HATCHET II the other night – other than the opening titles, set to Ministry’s fabulous Just One Fix, it was uber-terrible).


(Chasing that elusive groove…)

I usually don’t rock the bass, but sometimes you gotta take one for the team. I came up with some solid bass lines on a few free form sessions and brought in that back-end on the Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, Weezer, Beatles, and U2 covers (to name a few) we attempted (mostly successful – though I must admit, a few songs dissolved into chaotic noise – not that this is a bad thing – sonic discord can be fun).

It’s a shame we are all so busy with real life. Distance makes it impossible (we all live about forty minutes+ from one another), but if we could find a way to practice regularly, we might sound good ALL of the time rather than some of the time. Oh well, we had fun and that’s what it’s all about. It’s not like we’re going to be the next big thing, that opportunity left the building the moment we grew up and started our careers.

That’s life, Loyal Reader. It’s fleeting and fragile.

Which reminds me…

My wife and daughter and I went to see Martin Scorsese’s HUGO. It raised a lump in my throat and got my brain all tripped up on BIG, BIG life themes. It’s more than a sweet, stylish, family movie. It’s a special film, one that deserves a fully dedicated blog post. I promise to write about it some time this week. I’ll get my mind right and try to do it justice in my critique.

Here’s that killer Ministry song (the best part of HATCHET II)…