Friday, November 28, 2014

More Thanksgiving Week Gratitude Porn

The Friday After Edition: Hey, fellow old farts, remember when network TV used to run cartoons in the morning for all the kids home from school on this day, but that was the only big deal about it?


The first thing that comes to mind on this Friday after Thanksgiving is how thankful I am that I don’t work in retail. My heart goes out to those people who have to be at the store at 2 a.m. or earlier for a pre-dawn opening.

Fortunately, my wife didn’t have to be at work until 9 a.m. I was surprised to see that the roads and even the parking lots of the big box stores weren’t packed more than usual. If there was any mob action going on here, it was done well before 8:45 a.m. when I drove up.

I would say it was more like an ordinary Tuesday but the traffic was much too sparse for that hour. There was still a holiday feel to the air, in particular, the hours of a holiday in which most people are locked in a stationary location, at their homes or visiting the homes of others, or working in the places that are open—whatever the case, they’re not on the road.

Of course, most people who have jobs have to work the day after Thanksgiving. So who does that leave to do all this combat shopping the news folks like to get all excited about? I’m not saying all these YouTube videos of hordes of barking, yapping, semi-humanity buckling glass storefronts and trampling the slow are staged. I’m not saying it’s all unicorns and rainbows at the shopping malls today, either (especially if you work there). But I realize this is very selective coverage of a story that has more in common with scary urban legend than actual news.
Actually, it was understood in 1978 that Dawn of the Dead was a flip-of-the-bird towards consumer culture. Makes a great meme, though, doesn’t it? It’s not like you haven’t seen this 15,000 times this week already.

 




I can’t help wondering if this isn’t more propaganda made to make us hate ourselves, i.e., we’re so greedy, we’re so mean, we’re so stupid—throw in a couple of stories of people being nice to other people, working stiffs catching a lucky break, and you can call it fair and balanced news.
My pledge to you: this will be the only time I run something
like this.After what I saw this morning, I reject the whole
“Black Friday” self-hate trip. But, hey—ZOMBIES! Yay!

I can’t speak for how it is where you are, but the day-after-Thanksgiving vibe is very subdued here on the north side of Colorado Springs. You bet I’m thankful.

God, this month went by like nothing. Halloween seems so very long ago already. Which it was—this is one of those years that Thanksgiving comes late. As of Sunday, November is done. On comes December, and we’re soon to be cast back out into the joyless Void.

But here’s something else to be thankful for—that it’s still only the day after Thanksgiving, and the season is ours to lose. As the man and his old lady sang, “Let’s make it a good one/Without any fear.”

It’s bad enough the media tells you when to shop.


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Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving Week (2014 Edition) Begins!

It’s finally upon us. We’re only one month out from Christmas, and one of my favorite holidays on the US cultural calendar—one that doesn’t get nearly as much respect as it should—is days away.

I could give a rat’s giblets for the Plymouth Rock Pilgrims and the Nice Indians We Eventually Betrayed fairy tale. It’s the general principle of a designated family feasting day that appeals to me. Moreover, it’s a day about Gratitude. If nothing else, you hope to be thankful for eating a nice big meal among people you give half a shit about, while others are making do.

As someone who was one of those poor lonely bastards making do in his 20s, you better believe I’m grateful to have a family to feast with. I’m thankful for my wife who knows how to cook such a feast, complete with real mashed potatoes (no out of the box shit for us) and from-scratch sweet potato pie. My adult daughter actually called to announce she would be visiting from Wednesday through Thursday so she could watch the good parts of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with her old man.


Yes, but my children are better looking. Suck it, Jughead.
I never thought I’d have children, let alone adult children who actually wanted to spend the holidays with me. You can’t buy something like that. 

We’re not rich, but we all won the More Tolerable Than Most Family Olympics. My heart goes out to people who don’t have a family situation like I have. There are a lot of grown men out there with more money than I’ll ever see in my life who can’t figure out how to get a woman to love them. Thing is, I wouldn’t know what to tell them. I’m one lucky bastard who met his luck halfway. That’s all. 

I’ve also seen families who did all the right things by their children have their children turn out to be (at best) careless fuckups. I’m an older guy, and I’ve seen enough to know that not one of the people or things I’m thankful for now had to happen. I met a good woman, we had good kids. Two decades and change down the line and I still can’t believe my insane good fortune.

For those out there winging it, just hoping to get through the day as I used to do after my mom died—if nothing else, you have yourself. That’s where it all starts. Families aren’t born. They are built.

They don’t necessarily have to be people you married or are blood-related to, either. I hope I didn’t have to tell you that. If I did, well, now you know.

You should be grateful I’m getting the sappy I Love My Family stuff out of the way early. I’m grateful for some other things, though, namely that the third book in the Dead Silencer series is coming along gangbusters. I’ll be talking about this and more as Thanksgiving Week rolls along.
My Four Fluffies of the Apocalypse aren’t blood-related or married but they get along fine. Most of the time.



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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

RIP, Our 2014 Jack o’ Lantern

I had meant to put in a candle and fire him back up after Halloween. Then the cold snap came last week, and the same thing that happened to his predecessor last year happened here: consecutive days of single-digit cold froze the water in his cells, rupturing enough of them to cause total collapse when the thaw came. 




It does no good to leave this out for the animals and the elements. For one thing, the animals don’t seem to get much out of the gutted pumpkin. For another, the actual skin of the pumpkin is damned near indestructible. I had a pumpkin I’d thrown into a corner of my yard endure for nearly two years. It was bleached from the sun and dried out like a raisin, but that seemed to be as far as its decomposition went.

So I bagged poor Jack up and put him in the bin to go out with the tomorrow’s trash. I really wish I’d put a candle in him one last time. I miss the smell of a pumpkin baking from the inside. I’d hoped to have him around at least until Thanksgiving, but that’s the way it goes. He was still looking good one week after Halloween, as evidenced by the photo at right.

Oh, well. Another missed opportunity.

So long, Jack. See you next year.


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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

State of the Apocalypse, Eleven-Eighteen-Fourteen Edition

So who thinks I’m kidding when I say zombies are popular because any apocalypse beats the one we’re suffering now? Over the last week, two things happened that, if you’d predicted them in a novel 30 years ago, they’d have laughed at you.

First, this typhoon in the north Pacific Ocean got really, really big. Typhoons tend that way, as they have a lot more water over which to spread out, but this one supposedly bumped into a cold front coming off Siberia, and became one of the All-Time Biggest Storms on Earth.(This is all to the best of my recollection from watching Disney’s Wonderful World of News on ABC last week.) The storm became so big...sooooo biiiiiig...it literally (literally!) knocked the jet stream for a loop. This loop of Arctic cold dipped south over North America, and early February’s single-digit days came to mid-November. It didn’t get above freezing for nearly a week.

It was hailed as the Terrifying Return of the Polar Vortex from last winter, but if you look up “polar vortex” in Wikipedia, you’ll wonder if the truth isn’t a lot more...chilling. It turns out that it’s a weakening polar vortex that causes the jet stream to meander southward, bringing Arctic air to North America. 

So what weakens the polar vortex? Never mind. It’s not an argument I care to get into. All we need to know is it got really cold last week, sooo cooooold, that “warming up” means we get highs in the mid-40s F as opposed to 9F. As of 10 November, Autumn 2014 was done. The leaves still on the trees freezer-burned from red and yellow to dead brown. They’re all bare now.

Winter 2014-15 is in full effect, and with any luck this will be the last cold season I see here in Colorado. I am not going to miss these killer cold snaps when I get back to South Carolina. 


Also in This Week in Real Life Sci-Fi Dystopia, the good people of the European Space Agency spent a metric ass-ton of money that might have been better used for stimulus programs in the PIGS, and landed a spacecraft on a speeding comet. Except that one of the guys running the show wore a loud, tacky shirt over his uglier tattoos, and presumably caused women everywhere to abandon Lucrative Careers in STEM. (I’m linking to the #shirtgate hashtag. I didn’t feel like picking any one of the many things that has been written about this.)


Who cares what this man actually did? Look at that
shirt! LOOK AT THAT SHIRT! IT CREATES
A TOXIC CULTURE! *swoon*
That some privileged, upper-middle class females of the chattering classes found something utterly trivial to be offended about on one of the most momentous days in human history is to be expected. That the privileged, upper-middle-class twits who run the media played down the momentousness of this accomplishment (we landed something on a comet, for God’s sake!) in favor of the foot-stamping and whining of these unaccomplished slags is also unsurprising.

That this brilliant scientist wept like a big pussy and apologized—that’s the heartbreaker. We’re doomed, my little purple penguins, no two ways about it. And we deserve it.

I can only imagine what the Great Men of Yesteryear, the Teslas, the Edisons, the Einsteins would have made of this inked-up girly-man blubbering for the camera. I doubt Marie Curie would have offered this soft, damp thing a hug, either.

Could science fiction visionaries like Heinlein or Asimov have believed such un-men would exist in 2014? 

We’re doomed. And we deserve it.


So I won’t have to close on a downer note, I’ve saved the best news for last. Not that anyone knew about it, but I’ve been struggling with writer’s block for the last month or so. No new pages were made, and there wasn’t nearly enough noodling on the existing ones to justify that. For reasons various and sundry, and not at all important now, I simply ran out of enthusiasm. If you didn’t hear about it before, it’s because I’m not big on crying in public. It was something I had to work through. So I did.

The excerpt I’m finishing now has sadness and death and a big moral lesson about the Meaning of Life, which is quite a tall order of work. But I’m up for it. Especially now with this blogpost out of my system.


Thank God no one reads this blog! For those of you who have gotten this far, though—this is one of those “fits of observational Tourettes” I mention in my banner logo. Don’t worry; I don’t do this a lot. I hope to have an excerpt from The Wrong Kind of Dead up here soon.


What can I say, but, hang in there, and stay warm? It’s all I know how to do.



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Thursday, November 13, 2014

It’s Been So Cold This Week in Colorado Springs

...it’s stupid. It got up to 12 degrees F today and it felt like the warmth of hope. We’re back down to 7 now. That’s still 7 more than the 0 this morning.

I’m trying to keep my chin up.



Let us warm up to more reasonable winter temps and maintain that, okay? And let’s have some snow, all right? I’m tired of freezing for nothing.


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The Flurry of Hilarious Profanity Before Christmas

I cuss to embarrass a sailor every day, but I draw the line at doing it in public, in front of the elderly (unless we know each other), or small children. I especially hate it when stuff for kids gets dirtied up for a laugh. Let the children be children, for God's sake, and let them have their stuff, nice, cute, and clean, without you wiping your vulgar sensibilities all over it.

Rant, rant, blah-blah-blah. Are the kids tucked away in bed? Can you laugh aloud without having to explain yourself to people who will be much happier not knowing why? Check this out:



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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

HALLOWEEN WILL NOT DIE!

Hell, I don’t think it’s going anywhere in this weather. It hasn’t gotten above 22 degrees F all day here in north central Colorado Springs. It’s 13 F as I write this at 2257 GMT -7. I should put a candle in that pumpkin.



“I am the Ice Pumpkin King! KNEEL BEFORE YOUR KING!”

I promised someone on Twitter than I wouldn’t let my jack o’ lantern rot into such a sad state as the one I had last year. I dunno. I thought about throwing him out with tomorrow’s garbage but he looks like he’s good for another week. He’s already witnessed the murder of a rabbit, so I can’t just throw him out. Not yet. More on that later.

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Is It Peak Zombie Yet?

Not yet, but it’s getting there.


Years ago, when James Robert Smith put forth the idea of collaborating on a zombie novel, his concern was that we move and write quickly, because the zombie craze couldn’t last for long.

As it turned out, he ended up writing The Living End and I’m chronicling The Saga of the Dead Silencer. The point is, this concern for the health of the zombie subgenre was expressed two full Halloweens before the Halloween 2010 premiere of AMC’s adaptation of The Walking Dead comic book series. The TV series is nearly halfway way through its fifth season as I write this, and it’s got a king-hell-sized fanbase I don’t think anyone could have imagined back in 2008.

Zombies are bigger than ever. There’s Z-Nation on the SyFy channel now. You can find any number of well-done short films on YouTube or following the appropriate hashtags on Twitter. Most groups don’t even wait until Halloween season to do a zombie crawl downtown; you could look one up if you’re so inclined. Any time is the right time.

In 2014, one book away from finishing my trilogy, I’m sweating. We might be at the tipping point where people are starting to get sick of it.

Yes, this is a thing.


I can’t judge too harshly. I laughed when I saw this. But maybe, just maybe, the tread is wearing thin.

And maybe it's late at night and I'm getting paranoid over bullshit. How about Season 5 of The Walking Dead, huh?

I've got a little nut-up or shut-up of my own here, namely that aforementioned Saga of the Dead Silencer

Check out Book 1, Bleeding Kansas, in Kindle and paperback. When you’re done with that, go straight to Grace Among the Dead, also in Kindle and paperback. These are brutal tales, brutally written, and both picked up by Luzifer-Verlag for German translation. Check out what the Germans like so much better than your fellow Americans!

Book 1 has ONE exploding head
on its cover.
Book 2 has TWO exploding heads.
See the pattern here?



















They’re also available in Canada and the UK.


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Sunday, November 09, 2014

Sunday Night Zen

I found this on disinfo.com. It seemed timely, if only for my state of mind right now, wherever that is.

We join spokes together in a wheel,
but it is the center hole
that makes the wagon move.
We shape clay into a pot,
but it is the emptiness inside
that holds whatever we want.
We hammer wood for a house,
but it is the inner space
that makes it a home.
We work with being,
but non-being is what we use.


                                                 – Lao Tzu

And now the lesson is yours. Happy Monday.

Luis Ricardo Falero, A Fairy Under Starry Skies.
Apparently fairies wax down there, too. Who knew?


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Thursday, November 06, 2014

Better Than the Movie

Those who have seen Mike Judge’s 2006 sci-fi satire film Idiocracy know that, 500 years from now, the top movie in the USA will be a film called Ass. It will be several hours of a static shot of buttocks that so amuses the debased sensibilities of our debased future citizenry, it will win multiple Oscars.

How's this for irony, though? This will be based on very high-brow source material, namely, the vision of one Pablo Picasso:


The tweeter re-tweeted in my Twitter feed where I found this noted, “If you ever worry over your artistic choices, just remember Picasso once drew a picture of a butt.” The hell of this is he probably got paid a small fortune for this, something he was likely attempting to convey in as few lines as possible.

Most of us don't have our personal brands so well established. Note how Picasso's very signature becomes part of the composition of this piece...of ass!

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Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Another Random George Carlin Moment, Part 3

In the 1970s and ‘80s one smoked doobs or bowls, torched bones, etc., and got fried.

Today they spark some greens and get baked.

It sounds so much healthier today. Baked beats fried, right? Also, greens are still good for you. Right? So long as they’re non-GMO.


This child is in grave danger for binge-watching television and eating junk food. We should send in a SWAT team, throw her in prison, see if we can’t seize her parents’ home, because that’s exactly what should happen to people who possess unauthorized plant matter. Also, because we want to get the government out of people’s lives.

Need another moment? See:

Another Random George Carlin Moment, Part 2
Just sayin’


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Monday, November 03, 2014

Halloween 2014 After-Action Report

This year’s Halloween season was instructive and humbling. Not great, not awful. I’ve leveled up in my approach, so that’s something.


First and foremost, I’ve learned to stop feeling obligated to ritual. Ritual can be grounding, but I’ve found myself procrastinating when it comes to reading the Sacred Texts (Bradbury, Poe, et al.), or watching the movies, even revising my own dark fiction to run in the blog. With the same bitterness some people feel towards Christmas, I have on occasion found myself wishing Halloween was over with already. 

This is, of course, the rankest blasphemy, and much self-loathing ensues. So when I felt the resentment building this year, I reminded myself that I was obligated to nothing more than bathing, eating, sleeping, and paying the bills. Beyond that, as thou wouldst harm none, let “do as thy will” be the whole of the law. That’s the true pagan spirit of Halloween. Weird how I had to give myself permission to enjoy myself, but this is how the bats in my belfry roll. It took long enough, but I’ve learned how to work around myself.

Thank the dark gods I have a wife to do things
like this. We were the only house on our street
street decorated thus.
Decorating my office also took more time than I would have liked, but I had the orange lights wrapped around the curtain rod over the window, all the kitschy-spooky doo-dads spread across my bookshelves, and even a glow-in-the dark bucket of candy in time for Friday night. I produced a nice burst of blog posts towards the end of the month, but I’m especially proud of all the walking through the greenbelts that I treated myself to, mentally charting the progress of the leaves as they bloomed in golds and reds, before blowing from the trees. I made my peace with the fact that, if everything goes right, I won’t see these particular oaks and aspens again, ever. 

Friday night, I took care of what may be our last bunch of trick-or-treaters. If all goes to plan, we’ll be living in the sticks of upstate South Carolina next year, far removed from suburbia. I’ll miss the small children we’ve been seeing over the past four years or so—I’m heartened to know we have lots of young couples with children here, as opposed to cranky middle-aged bastards like me—but I’d rather not be here when they all turn into teenagers. Or all the properties go rental. Or all my friends and family back home start dying off. 

Almost all of the older generation passed while I was far away. I don’t want that to be the case as my own generation starts turning colors, and storms of cancer and heart disease begin tearing us from the family tree.


He’s still out there as I write this.
There’s a lot of stuff I’m having to let go of here. I’ve come a long way in regards to not losing my shit thinking about All Those Good Times Gone That Are Never Coming Back. I finally feel as if I’ve put 2007, the Last Great Trick or Treating Year (and my Last Best Birthday, and Last Best Christmas), safely to rest in its grave. It was a great time—hell, maybe the greatest that will ever be—but that was then. Times change, and that’s not always a bad thing. Children grow, or they die. Mine grew up. I’m just now taking the hint to do the same.

It was a good Halloween, one that gets better and better, the more I think about it. Not that I’ve got much more time to think about it. We’ve got a nice, long stretch to Thanksgiving, but there’s much to do before we put this year to bed.


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Saturday, November 01, 2014

A Post-Halloween Hangover Benediction

Kate Bush cut some decent tracks after her 1985 album Hounds of Love, but, to listen to this last song from that sweet masterpiece, you realize she never had a hope in hell of ever topping it.

There are many songs that are best played only at night. “The Morning Fog” is one of the rare few that is best heard first thing in the morning. At just over two and one-half minutes, the lovely Kate is never as lovely as she is here.

It’s perfect for the day after Halloween. You get the sense of something ending as well as beginning. Which it has. Which it is. Happy Pagan New Year!


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