Sunday, May 31, 2015

Trolling in the Meatspace Wild

For those unclear on the concept—as many on the Interwebs seem to be— “trolling” refers to activity designed specifically to elicit a extremely negative reaction, namely, rage.

As illustrated here, this is not confined to deliberately incendiary remarks in the comments sections of pages on the Wide Weird Web:

As the Twitter user from whom I’d swiped this photo remarked, “Some people just want to watch the world burn.”

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Very Special WALKING DEAD

As in “Special Ed” special. Y’all be nice, now....


So I come across the graphic on the Interwebs and it occurs to me, if Buffy the Vampire Slayer can have its all-musical show, etc., why not an all-Muppets episode of The Walking Dead

I like to think of Kermit in the role of Rick, and Elmo as Carl. Imagine Miss Piggy as Carol, going full-on Demolition Dame on Terminus.

As for the part of Daryl, I’m thinking a brooding, subdued Animal.

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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Thoughts I Should Probably Keep to Myself Regarding the Season 5 Mid-Season Premiere of THE WALKING DEAD

Season 5, Episode 9, “What Happened and What’s Going On.” Original airdate 8 February 2015.

Second of a series in which I review episodes of The Walking Dead in no particular order. WARNING: SPOILERS OUT THE YING-YANG, because, seriously, I’m among the last people in the solar system who has just started watching this latest season on a bootleg channel online. If you’re weird like me, give this post a pass.


First, before I tear this episode a new asshole—starting with its weak title, which vaguely betrays the shallow purpose of the episode—I want to make clear that I understand. I’m a Star Trek fan. I know full well what it’s like to love something so grossly flawed. I’m not judging you, the fan.

This show, on the other hand....
“The fuck did I just watch?”

No kidding, I felt for you poor bastards, having endured a long trek across the TV desert of November into February, only to get this. With the predominant image of the November finale being Daryl carrying Beth’s lifeless body out of the hospital—leaving the Grady Memorial Slave Labor and Rape Camp to carry on (recall that Rick told Cannibal King Gareth he couldn’t let him go because he knew he’d victimize others)—we were set for a new storyline. What fresh hells awaited our heroes?

So, here we are at last. The February mid-season premiere. Our first image is of a shovel blade slowly chewing into the earth. Are we burying Beth?

We catch a view of Gabriel leading a prayer at a funeral service in a field off the road somewhere. The images take on a yellowy tone, and the screen flares yellow between images. Whoa, what’s happening? Are we tripping?

Random shots of stuff, thangs, flash before our eyes. A photograph of two boys sitting together. A framed picture of a house, with chocolate syrup—no, wait, that’s blood!—eeek!—dripping and pooling on the glass. The camera not only lingers on this shot more than most, the director makes sure we see it several times throughout the piece, excuse me, episode. Drip, drip, dribble. Pool. Flash yellow, and repeat.

As teasers go I was relieved when the theme music started up. I’m not crazy about amateur art film episodes on anyone’s TV series. All the artsy-fartsy did was cover for the fact that two things happened in this episode: first, the whole gang packed up and made a 10 to 12-hour drive from north Georgia to northeast Virginia, because that’s what Beth would have done for Noah if she hadn’t gotten her brains blown out. Makes sense. Assuming we’re all shell-shocked and game for rash changes in venue.

How’s this for some clever mise en scene?




After the opening titles and rousing theme music, we finally get to some straightforward narrative. Gabriel’s church is compromised and there’s not much else to do, but Noah, the young man from the Grady Memorial Slave Labor and Rape Camp, has family in a community “outside of Richmond,” Virginia, and he’s pretty sure it would be as safe as anything in this zombie apocalypse. Dear departed Beth was going to help him get there, and the normally hard-headed and pragmatic Rick says, well, if that’s what Beth would have done, we’ll do it, by way of honoring her memory.

The second thing we’re doing in this episode is getting rid of the excess black guy by way of setting ourselves up for this half-season’s story arc. I’m not one of those “social justice” weirdos looking to score status points in my bourgie hipster clique by “calling out” the faintest wisps of the Fatal Isms (racism, sexism, et al.) everywhere I look, but it’s been a running joke since the death of T-Dog that there can only be one black adult male at one time in our plucky group of survivors. You’d think the show’s writers might be a little more circumspect about this, but once Noah came on board with the group, Tyreese’s days were numbered. And damned if they didn’t eliminate him in the very next episode!

(For those about to chime in with “What about Father Gabriel?” I say, what about him? He’s not a man. He’s a coward and a weasel. He doesn’t count.)

As it happens, Tyreese needed to be killed. God, what an annoying character! The kind that gives us multiples of those awkward moments of “You sure you don’t want to talk about it?” with characters who would clearly prefer to grieve in peace. As someone who has buried a few people in his life (live long enough, and it will happen, my child), I can testify, these people are among the world’s worst.

Tyreese was already number one with a bullet on my shit list for his pantywaist capture-and-exchange plan that ended with the Queen Psychobitch of the Grady Memorial Slave Labor and Rape Camp changing the deal’s terms in the middle of the prisoner exchange and getting Beth killed. The scene at the hospital was an abomination, full stop. If Rick’s plan of slitting throats and absconding into the night with Beth was followed, Beth would be alive, and good riddance to the bad rubbish at Grady Memorial. 

But, no. Moving on....

Through the magic of television, our plucky heroes defy time and space by making a 10-12 hour drive in one 30-second montage of blurry state highway signs, and five more endless minutes of heart-to-heart, how-do-you-endure-all-this? between Tyreese and Noah. They come upon Noah’s community at what looks like early afternoon, among woods that look and sound still very much like north Georgia.

It’s laughably weird as fuck—am I the only person who sees the absurdity of the community’s location, well away from any gas stations or 7-Elevens or supermarkets, or even other housing developments? If this was a compound belonging to a wealthy family, that would make sense, but these are low to mid-grade homes surrounded by a fence in the middle of the woods

Even so, it was compromised. No one shoots at Rick’s crew as they approach because there’s no one left. Some of the houses show signs of being torched. There was a struggle here. Fort Suburbia went down.

Noah has to run to see what’s left of his family, and Tyreese gives chase. At this point the student art film finds its title: Tyreese, You Dumbass.

For, naturally, we know that Noah’s family is dead. Mom’s rotting away on the floor. There’s a walker in one of the bedrooms, making the usual wheeze-snarl noises, presumably one of Noah’s siblings. We see the shadow of his feet beneath the door.

Tyreese, quite smartly, sweeps the house with his pistol while keeping Noah back. Okay, so everyone is dead or the next best thing. He sees the feet beneath the door. Hold that thought.

So what else is there to do now but do a little moaning over dead mama, while Tyreese looks wistfully at the photos of young boys sitting together in the back bedroom? While the thing behind the door somehow manages to slip quietly out of its prison, sneak up behind Tyreese, and bite a chunk out of his arm....

Hell, we knew what was going down the second we saw those shadows beneath the door. We knew we wouldn’t hear the doorknob turn, the feet shuffling across the floor, or the usual wheeze-snarl characteristic of the reanimated dead in this series.

Noah comes in, and without so much as an, “Oh dear, my brother is a flesh-eating monster!” manages to put the creature who looks like his brother down with a plastic model jet plane through the eye. He then helps Tyreese settle against the wall before running out to fetch a more responsible adult.

It’s a wound on the arm, and certainly shouldn’t keep Tyreese off his feet, but we have an art movie to finish here. Enter tonight’s musical entertainment, Beth and the Hallucinations:



The ancient trope of Arguing With Hallucinated Dead People as I Lay Dying was nicely arranged, though. I enjoyed hearing Emily Kinney as Hallucinated Dead Beth singing, as the two dead girls smiled creepily into the camera. “It’s better this way,” says one of the girls. She means “dead.” Of course.

Hallucinated Dead Governor does some neener-neener on Tyreese about some stuff I didn’t follow, causing me to wonder what idiocies Tyreese let happen in the name of We’re Better Than These People, Let’s Do the Dumb Thing during Season 3. I was more familiar with Hallucinated Dead Martin, and I had to agree, a world of misery could have been averted if Tyreese had snuffed his wannabe baby-killing ass when he had the chance. Oh, Tyreese. You dumbass. 

Because we’re really desperate to fill time in this episode, another deader wanders in undetected during the hallucination, causing Tyreese to break from his pity party long enough to use his already damaged arm as a distraction while he grabs something with his free hand to dispatch the ghoul. 


This was the most badass thing I’ve seen Tyreese do, so he gets points for that. 

Rick finally shows up, but it’s too late to amputate Tyreese’s arm. It’s just a matter of time waiting for him to die. Which he does. 

In a moment of crazy candor, Rick admits he knew there would be nothing up here. Why should there be? But they’re closer to Washington, DC, now, where they were heading anyway when people still believed Eugene’s bullshit about a cure for the zombie sickness. Surely, among the millions of dead in that metropolitan area, there are people who know what’s what. 

So off we go to the next story arc, but not before we take out a few more walkers who have gathered at the front gate. They are dispatched with slow-motion, cinematic aplomb.

Which, I’ll note, is one of the strengths of The Walking Dead TV show. The cinematography and sound are high-end, feature-film grade. The writers may be pulling it out their asses, but these crews know their shit.

Before I shut this big mess of tl;dr down, I have to note the most exasperating aspect of this episode for me, namely, what happened to Noah’s old neighborhood. Based on what I saw, it was quite clearly attacked by living people with live ordnance, who blew a big-ass hole in the back fence and set random houses on fire as they went through looting the place. Yet no one addresses this; it’s as if everyone assumes the community was simply overrun by walkers. 

Was it hit by Negan and the Saviors? Most likely, it’ll be swept under the rug. We’ve got another story arc to get into. We’ll come to that merry band soon enough. Next season, anyway. We’ve got the rest of this half of Season 5 to get through first.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

PTSD-Afflicted Frodo Leaves the Toilet Seat Up, Fine Art Ensues

You’ve been shanked by the King of the Nazgul, chased through a mountain by a fire demon (watched your friend fall to his death in the confrontation), webbed up to be eaten by a giant spider, and, finally, got your finger bitten off by a crazed, preternaturally preserved hobbit, while nearly falling into the fires of a volcano called Mount Doom. Any one of those experiences should be good for a few nightmares and panic attacks. 

It’s no wonder Frodo Baggins took the last boat out from the Grey Havens towards the end of The Lord of the Rings. There was no settling into a normal life back in the Shire after all that.

So what does he do in the heavenly land on the other side of the Sundering Sea? Based on what we see in the image below, it’s apparent he took up body building. This is good, as strenuous exercise is probably the best stress reliever there is. However, it doesn’t save you from the wrath of the local women when you leave the toilet seat up.
Orestes Pursued by the Erinyes, by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905).




Let’s face it, unisex locker rooms don’t work. Even in the heavenly land beyond the Sundering Sea.
In case you missed the uncanny resemblance to Elijah Wood in the first pic.




Wednesday, May 20, 2015

An Ad for a Strange Product Finds Its Target Market

Baffle friends on two continents with this design, which incorporates the shape of a country 99.999% of Americans won’t recognize (let alone find on a map), with part of a flag most Germans won’t recognize, because there’s no sane reason to teach US state flags in German schools. 



“Damn near anything,” not “everything,” alas.
It’s unsettling — albeit unsurprising — how Facebook targeted me with this ad, though, considering I am a writer in Colorado with ties to a German publisher, and another German friend I met years ago in the comments section in one of Spiegel’s English-language pages. I imagine we’ll all find this in competing degrees of creepy and amusing. As for everyone else, here’s yet another example of the You Can Find Damn Near Anything on the Internet principle.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Motivational Placeholder, Courtesy of Rocky Balboa

I’ve got some ideas for more zombie fiction passages and Walking Dead reviews coming up. Right now, I’m just trying to get through rewrites and continuity maintenance on my SAGA OF THE DEAD SILENCER series, which concludes with The Wrong Kind of Dead. My first two books were finished on successive Memorial Day weekends, but I don’t see that happening with my third book. I’m wrapping up this series for the ages. This can’t be anything less than right.

So I thought I’d leave this here for myself in the meantime. It’s all a fancy way of telling myself I need to get up only one more time than I fall down, but it’s my kind of fancy: 



Transcript (tl;dr in bold):
Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But ya gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that, and that ain’t you! You’re better than that!
The line that sticks with me is, “Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth.” I’ve never thought about what I was worth before. Or how much I should get paid for it. 

It explains why I haven’t been paid much over the years.

Oh, well. Back to work.

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Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother’s Day, with Uncle Frank’s Band

The Mothers of Invention were allegedly named for having played their first gig on Mother’s Day, ca. 1965. With or without his band, Zappa is one of those rare artists whom everyone professes to admire, but very few play his records and listen to his work. Like classical music artists, come to think about it. It’s smart to like them, but, they’re “just not my kind of jam.”

Uncle Meat from 1969 was, in my estimation, one of the most consistently weird and hilarious albums Zappa did, with or without the Mothers. In the embedded piece, entitled “Dog Breath: In the Year of the Plague” we get doo-wop, mariachi, pop, and atonal jazz in one big, dripping mess of a musical sandwich. 

I used to play Zappa a lot back when my children were small. Listening to this reminds me how much I need to revisit his catalog. The “controlled anarchy” Zappa conducts in this one four-minute track alone is inspirational.



Friday, May 08, 2015

REVEALED: Batgirl Is Really from Colorado

How do we know this? Because when she kicks you in the face with her stiletto-heeled boot, it sounds like, “BONG!”


It seems to me that “SPLIFF!” or “BLUNT!” would be more realistic noises, but what the hell. Either way, the perp is getting...

[puts on sunglasses]

...bowled over.




LIVE from COLORADO SPRINGS, it’s FRIDAY NIGHT!

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Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Sicko de Mayo Motivational Meme!

Actually, it was a motivational tweet, but it came with the requisite black-bordered image that could be used for a motivational poster if so desired.

Anyway, I’m feeling pretty motivated now, and here’s hoping you feel the same.

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BLEEDING KANSAS Among the Zompocalypse Elite in Germany

The German-language publisher of Bleeding Kansas, Luzifer Verlag, recently bundled my first book with two of the most highly rated books of the zombie apocalypse genre, S. Jonathan Davis’ 900 Miles and Jake Bible’s Z-Burbia. You can download three of the USA’s finest endzeit thrillers in German for the low price of 8,99 euros—not only from Amazon.de, but from another outlet called Thalia. That German readers have at least two outlets to choose from, as opposed to the usual One E-Store to Rule Them All, impresses me no end.

Meanwhile, if you’re interested in the English-language versions of my books (yes, you knew this was coming)...here’s a sample of Bleeding Kansas.

If you’re one of these people who will not buy e-books because of their notoriety for sucking sweaty horrorballs—I’m looking at you, UK horror fans—please be advised that I’m published by Severed Press, as well as translated by a German publisher. Note the links to the paperback versions on the Amazon pages.  We’re all about choice here. We’ll help you get your apocalypse on the way you like it.


The Saga of the Dead Silencer continues in GRACE AMONG THE DEAD: A Mighty Tale of Love and Redemption, of the Living Dead and a Monster Truck!

US Kindle and Paperback
UK Kindle and Paperback
Canadian Kindle and Paperback

Coming in 2015: THE WRONG KIND OF DEAD
...which I’ve got to get back to work on. See you soon!

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More Sicko de Mayo Fun: A Spray of Red Where Was Once a Head

I was impressed by this photo from HorrorHomework.com, and surprised I’ve never seen such a thing before. It’s a natural for Halloween decor.

A sticking point, however, is the dress. It really sells this. The fancier and more expensive the dress, the more festive the spray of red baubles from the neck stump. This one in particular—from the Anne Boleyn collection, I like to think—seems most suited for the display.

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Tuesday, May 05, 2015

State of the Apocalypse, Sicko de Mayo Edition

Sickness will surely take the mind
Where minds can’t usually go
Come on the Amazing Journey
And learn all you should know.

                        —The Who, Tommy

I’d love to declare April the Month of the Sickness by way of dismissing both and getting on with my life, but my cough and curious bouts of gotta-lie-down-NOW fatigue have carried over into the third day of May. 


This photo was taken on Friday.Not only are these aspens leafed
out a full two weeks ahead of schedule, I don’t remember these trees
being this lush. The wet snows of weeks ago helped tremendously.
At least I survived working with my professional photographer buddy on Saturday; I had been dreading this simple half-day affair taking payments from soccer moms for a month. I came home and all but died for five hours. My wife said she had to come up and check to see I was breathing. 

I forced myself outside for a Sunday afternoon walk. An abbreviated version of my usual route felt like a major accomplishment. Afterwards, I lay down and all but died for three hours.

This minor bit of body horror started during the first full week of last month, and for at least one day I was bedridden. The main indicator of this bug is the malaise. You’re weak as a newborn. The spells pass, but when they’re on, you’ve got to get off your feet. NOW. 

Then comes the cough. Very upper respiratory, nothing deep, but enough to make you see stars trying to cough that tiny, tickly bit of yuck up from the edge of your windpipe. It’ll build if you can stand the tickle long enough. Sometimes that’s all you can do.


What, like I’m going to take pictures of myself while sick?
Or run stock photos of sick people? I’d rather consider
how darn pretty it was the other day. I’m over winter already.
Then the bug moved into my intestinal tract. I found myself feeling nauseous. Not urgently, gonna-puke-any-minute nauseous, but enough to put me off my feed. There were other...explosive consequences, of which I will not speak.

Then I got lucky. It moved back into my lungs. Whatever the hell this thing is. 

For a couple of days I thought I was getting better. Then the cycle resumed. I’m working a combination of the symptoms now. It’s like this thing is probing my immune system, looking for a way to take me down.

Everything blooming at once in this curiously premature Colorado summer (we really don’t do “spring” here) can’t be helping. Aside from allergies, a lot of my illness is no doubt due to stress related to the book I’m trying to finish, while sweating major bullets over my planned move from Colorado to South Carolina. How I’m going to get four cats across 1,750 miles without killing them is one consideration. Driving two vehicles for eight hours across Kansas with Colorado plates without getting stopped and searched for marry-joo-wanna every so many miles is another.

Hell, my stomach just groaned aloud writing that last sentence. Oh, and once we finally make it, cats and all, we have to find a place to live. We’ll have a place to stay, but what we’re going to do with four cats in the meantime? No, we can’t board them all for a month. Not unless I win the lottery. 

For a queasy moment I considered having our two youngest put down before leaving. It would be more merciful than having them adjust to new homes where they might not be treated as well.

No, I can’t do that. I won’t.
Pick two, pay someone to stick a needle in them, and kill them. When they’re old and sick, in constant misery and not getting any better, sure, but otherwise? Fuck me for even considering it.


The more I think about it (and I really should stop; here comes the nausea again), the more I realize there are all of two solutions to the problem: one is to acquire funds sufficient to having my vehicles shipped, and fly my family and cats out to the house and property I bought in advance of the move. If I could sell THE SAGA OF THE DEAD SILENCER to Hollywood—or sell a hundred thousand books or more, either way is fine—my problems would be over.

The other solution is to do nothing and sit here until I feel like I’m ready to deal with the stresses of staging and selling the house and arranging the move. I don’t have that much longer to live, and neither do my contemporaries back home in Carolina, so that’s not an option.

I will take it easy for the time being, though. I’ve got a little more energy today, good for some endorphin-generating exercise. I’ll get this post up. That’s something.

Oh, and to wrap this up on a positive note, by way of circling back to the Tommy quote at the top of the post, there has been a very good upside to my medical miseries, psychosomatic and otherwise: my rewrite of Bleeding Kansas is worthy of the Ultimate Edition sobriquet. I’ve been shy about going into Grace Among the Dead for some reason, but I’ve torn into The Wrong Kind of Dead with a vengeance, tearing out excess verbiage and subplots and tying up loose ends in the sprawling, action-packed narrative.

Being tired and miserable brings out the Maxwell Perkins-level editorial superpowers in me. I’m in no mood to take anyone’s shit, least of all my own. I’m proud to say I put my sickness to work here, in every sense of the word “sick.”

Speaking of sick, here’s a link to my zombie fiction excerpts. If they can talk 50,000 people into buying a copy each of Bleeding Kansas and Grace Among the Dead...hey, a fella can dream. Meanwhile, here’s a sweet cat photo. Sick, well, or in-between, I’ve got to get back to work.
Otis and Puff THINK OF THE KITTEHS! Buy my books so I can fly them home with me! Two days driving while sedated won’t be good for them.




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