Why Jon Cusack’s ‘Shanghai’ isn’t Casablanca

MJG Book / Movie Reviews, Featured Story Leave a Comment

The movie Shanghai wants to be a big hullaballooing tapestry of love, espionage and betrayal in WW2 China, woven through with parallels to Casablanca. What we get though is more gold-threaded doily then Bayeux, knitted with great pomposity from dramatic but impersonal threads, few of which we really come to care about at all. In short, it’s empty. Here’s why. Story Jon Cusack plays Paul Soames, an American spy sent to look into the suspicious death of his buddy spy in the Japanese sector of Shanghai, the last Chinese city not wholly under Japanese control in the middle of World …

Bone Diamond @ Beneath Ceaseless Skies

MJG Books, Fantasy, Featured Story, Writing 2 Comments

My story Bone Diamond – a sweeping tale of greed, madness, and murder in alt. Egypt – has just gone live at Beneath Ceaseless Skies. This is my first ever pro-rated sale, so I’m utterly proud and pleased with it. It’s the first step towards three pro-sales, which leads to SFWA (Science- Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) membership, which is another big stepping stone towards getting my work more widely out there. Here’s an excerpt- “Shh,” I whisper. I lift my bone shears and disconnect his left clavicle at the articular process, snap it at the foramen. He is …

Ice-Flock Gulls @ Kizuna Anthology

MJG Books, Featured Story, Japan, Writing Leave a Comment

Kizuna: Fiction for Japan is a charity anthology of 75 stories from authors all around the world, with all proceeds going to benefit the orphans of the disaster-stricken Tohoku area, through the charity Smile Kids Japan. It includes a story by me- The Ice-Flock Storks of Soroya – one by Michael Moorcock, and 73 others ranging across all genres- Horror, humor, human drama, science fiction, fantasy, absurdist, bizarro, weird, new wave, bugpunk, Cthulhu, Sherlock Holmes, historical fiction, and more. Purchase At the moment it’s available only on ebook- here are the links: – Kizuna: Fiction for Japan > US – …

Dead Sentinels: 10 Stunning Abandoned Lighthouses

MJG Featured Story, Lighthouses, World Ruins 9 Comments

Lighthouses are the sentinels of globalization; for thousands of years they have stood on barren shores the world over and guided the spreading hands of global trade, keeping unknown seafarers and their precious cargoes safe in the night. Now they are dying, as modern technology renders them obsolete. Without people to maintain them, they slowly come to pieces: their lights no longer shine, their bodies crumble and decay. They are curios and museum pieces for tourists to explore. Here are 10 from around the world. 1. Rubjerg-Knude lighthouse, Denmark Construction of the Rubjerg-Knude lighthouse in Jutland, Denmark straddled the last …

Murakashi Derelict Industrial Ruin

MJG Featured Story, Haikyo, Mines / Factories, Tochigi 6 Comments

The ruins of Murakashi mine trail up the verdant Tochigi mountainside like a Studio Ghibli dreamscape, scattered about with the rusted-stiff robot arms of cranes that guard its approach like frozen heroes in Medusa’s cave. Zoom out and the blaring red canopy roofs of this rustic industrial graveyard begin to look like the shiny spilled guts of a snake, slithering languidly out of the mountain’s clean-cut grey-granite belly. Guardian arms. Murakashi mine drilled limestone and dolomite out of the Japanese mountainside topsoil for 50 years, closing down some 30 years ago. Now it’s a relic of a bygone age, when …

Killin Jack $0.99 on Kindle

MJG Featured Story, Jabbler's Mons, Kindle, Writing Leave a Comment

I’m launching my short story Killin Jack on Kindle!! It’s a story of revenge and dark morality in the ramshackle fantasy city of Jabbler’s Mons, available now for $0.99 Killin Jack Killin Jack is a man-made monster stalking the blood-slicked warrens of Jabbler’s Mons, a brutal city where back-street mogrifers sculpt living flesh into twisted zoo-morphized contortions. Jack hunts the Bunnymen, lascivious cross-breeds that once rutted the city to the point of oblivion. But when his last victim proves to be a baby, Jack’s moral certainy falls away, and the final leg of his long-wrought revenge begins. Contains KILLIN JACK …

Exploring Japan’s deserted Mount Rushmore

MJG Featured Story, Haikyo, Statues / Monuments, Theme Parks, Tochigi 6 Comments

Disneyland has the grand pink Sleeping Beauty castle. The wizarding world of Harry Potter has Hogwarts. Japan’s abandoned Western Village theme park has a 1/3rd scale replica of Mount Rushmore. Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, Lincoln- Japan Outside Mount Rushmore As grand-central-structures-that-pull-their-thematic-landscapes-together go, it’s an odd one. First off, you can hardly even see it from within the park. Instead it fronts the nearby highway and bullet train tracks boldly, like a grand welcome sign that turns its back on you as soon as you enter. Second, it doesn’t fit all that well with the park’s cowboy theme. Did cowboys wage shoot-outs …

Cowboy haunted-house and Mexicoland, Japan

MJG Featured Story, Haikyo, Theme Parks, Tochigi 18 Comments

Japan’s haikyo theme park Western Village (closed in 2007) takes its cowboy conceit in some unexpected directions; most interestingly of all the Wild West ghost house. Within its silent black-velveted walls we can find all manner of creepified Western stalwarts; skeletal pistoleers, death as a frontier dentist, zombified tomahawk-wielding Indians, and of course cowboys with their pants down. Hmm? Yes. There is more than one occasion of cowboys with their pants down. Each time they are displaying long and gruddy underjohns- perhaps intended to sync up with John Wayne with his fly unzipped. Maybe you can spy some of them …

Japan’s abandoned animatronic John Wayne

MJG Featured Story, Haikyo, People / Culture, Theme Parks, Tochigi 10 Comments

Japan’s abandoned wild west theme park Western Village (closed in 2007) is filled to the tip of its ten-gallon hat with animatronic cowboy dolls. A Stagecoach-era John Wayne with cyborg heart exposed stands by the park entrance, silent now that the tourists have stopped coming. Animatronic John Wayne with hair peeling back to reveal flesh-toned speakers reprises his Stagecoach (1939) role. Hidden away in the Sheriff’s office, Clint Eastwood drawls in lazy Japanese about how he ran the bad guys out of town. Down the boulevard a ways is the WESTERN SHOOTING GALLERY, filled with card-players, insouciant drunkards and brassy-lipped …

Western Village: Japan’s Abandoned Cowboy Theme Park

MJG Featured Story, Haikyo, Japan, Theme Parks, Tochigi 30 Comments

Western Village is a quantum pocket of the Old West Disneyfied and transplanted wholesale from the American collective unconscious, replete with a $29 million replica Mount Rushmore, Western saloon, ghost house, jail, post office, shooting gallery, actual fake Rio Grande, and vast Mexican barrens. It was built in 1975 and shut down in 2007, likely due to its remote location and the pull of other nearby parks like Disneyland sucking away its tourist base. Now it’s a ruin, or haikyo, open only to urban explorers willing to take their chances clambering over the stockade wall. Animatronic John Wayne, cowboy ghost …