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Showing posts from October, 2020

A Book I Really Really Want

  As I scrolled through Instagram today, I found a book that I really really want.   Imagine that.   Me, finding books that I want on IG.   There is this photographer on IG that I really like: @helloemilie.   Anyway she has a new book: Forever Wandering by Emilie Ristevski.

29 October 2020

  Song mood: Bittersweet Symphony by the Verve. My Redbubble shirt came today.  A Thumbelina shirt.  I know, my man card has been revoked.  Although I ordered a Large, the shirt was an XtraLarge.  Not too terrible of a mistake.  I looked at my emails and I did order a Large.  I’ll still wear it.  Maybe I’ll send a message to customer service, just to say ‘hey, maybe your staff need longer paid coffee breaks.’ Halloween is coming up and I don’t know what I’m going to do yet.  Ideally, I’d like to spend the night at the Stanley. Tonight, I will probably do some free-writing and some brainstorming.  I am reading a section in the book Endless Ideas by Sean M Platt and Neeve Silver on free-writing.  The current section is on idea expansion.  I have a few more days before I set out to write my next project.

28 October 2020

  Song mood: I Miss You by Blink 182.   We’ll have Halloween on Christmas.   Halloween can be every day if you really wanted it to be.   But it won’t have the feeling of a brisk autumn evening. The proof copy came for my new poetry book.  There are somethings I can go back and improve on.  But I need to move on to my next project, whatever that may be.  The poetry book is kind of like an exercise on putting a book together. Word is awesome.  I mean I can edit things in format and so it shows how the project will look like in real time.  That may be the biggest motivator yet. Now that I have put together a book.  I should work on putting together other books.  I like my idea of having a horror writing contest.  And at the end all the stories get put into a book.  I’ll edit and put the book together.  The winner gets a horror genre Funko Pop and all the proceeds from the book.  A whole ten dollars or so.  Of course if one of the writers is good on marketing, it may be more.  Someo

Unable to Create 26 October

  I am unable to create.   I was awoken at 12:30am.   There is a person who plays their phone so loud, it can be heard three blocks away.   What it is is an ebook that is being played.   An irritating electronic voice played so loud it could be heard three blocks and away and it was right next to my door at 12:30am when I had been dead asleep.   When I was jolted awake, I felt like I had to vomit.   I was so terrorized I couldn’t fall back asleep until three.   These acts of terrorism have been happening more and more frequently. When I listen to an audiobook, or television for that matter, I always use headphones.  I figure no one else wants to listen to what I’m listening to. I’m not sure what to do with these moments of terror.  Of being forced into listening to something I don’t want to listen to, or being awoken by them.

25 October 2020

  Song mood: Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash. Today is my father’s birthday.  He died many years ago.  Colon cancer.  He had a tumor the size of a grapefruit.  I miss him.  But life happens.  I used to go out on his birthdays and eat the greasiest food in his honor.  I used to go to Grizzly’s restaurant and order the steak hoagie.  These days I can’t really handle greasy food at all, something about not having a gallbladder any more.  And where I live, there isn’t a Grizzly’s. Tonight though, one of my cousin’s children had a birthday party that I went to.  It was good. Of two books I was looking for, I found one.  I think I may have borrowed the other book.  The book that I found was 1066: The Year of the Conquest by David Howarth.  It will be part of the research of a project.  I read 60 pages several years ago.  I thought of starting the book from the beginning, but then remembered what the first part I read was about.  How King Edward was dying but didn’t have a clear heir to th

24 October 2020

  Song mood: G rove is in the Heart by Deee-Lite.   The whole of the seventies in a song, a video. I need to hang out with other writers and artists.  The other people in the group would help me through being stuck.  It isn’t that I can’t write but I don’t believe I can write.  Which are two different things. The manuscript came yesterday.  It was The Shapeshifter Immortal .  Written when I was between twenty one and twenty three.  The first novel, or rough draft of a novel that I had ever written.  It’s about an immortal shapeshifter who fights a satanist cult.  Back in the days when I was a Republican and believed such evils exist.  Now I see far worse evils in the name of.  Anyway, I read a bit of it and it was way better than the fantasy novel I self-published a long time ago. I think I need to free-write.  I suspect that after an hour straight of free-writing, the story I should write would come out.  In my mind I have a few agendas for my writing.  Conflicting agendas like

The Shell of Sense

The Shell of Sense by Olivia Howard Dunbar is ghost story told in the Point of View of the ghost.    A ghost lingers to see what people are saying about her after she died.   She sees her sister and her widower husband talking to each other on the secret they carried while she was alive.  Right away we learn that the ghost is telling the story.  Most of the story can be guessed by the way that the ghost speaks.  One can also tell that there is some romance about the story. It’s a story about letting go, through a different perspective. The Shell of Sense was originally published in 1939.  The audio program I listened to was narrated by Jennifer James-Bradshaw.

Witches of Lychford

  Witches of Lychford by Paul Cornell is one of my favorite books.   I read this novella a few times, listened to the audio.   I just enjoy Cornell’s writing.   He wrote tie in novels for Doctor Who and other assorted fantasy books. In this story, there was something wrong in Lychford.  A heated debate within the community about a new megastore being built.  There is something evil afoot and the town’s witch, Judith Mawson is determined to find out what it is.  In the process she recruits the new Vicar Lizzie and her friend the magic shop owner Autumn to help. I love the book because it kind of is a commentary about life in England, and the world for that matter.  The division we feel or are meant to feel.  Right vs Left.  Fascists vs Ant-Fascists.  Supper super big chain grocers vs local grocery stores.  Then throw in elements of the supernatural.  That is what this book, the whole series is about. Witches of Lychford was published on 2015.  The audio program that I listened to

How It Happened

  How It Happened by Arthur Conan-Doyle, has to be the shortest story I seen him write.   Nearly all of the Sherlock Homes short stories were at least thirty pages long.   This story could come close to even being called flash fiction. The story is about this guy who is driving a car with a friend.  And they come to some rough terrain.  The twist at the end was rather expected.  But a neat little ghost story all the same. How It Happened was originally published in 1913.  The audio program I listened to was narrated by John Lee.

The Empty House

  The Empty House by Algernon Blackwood is a simple ghost story.   Blackwood is supposed to be the most prolific ghost story writer of his time. The set up is simple.  The narrator is visiting his aunt or is talking with his aunt and she has a proposition for him.  She has booked a night at a haunted house.   It’s actually a neat idea.  I would like to book a haunted for a night and spend the night exploring the house with a woman.  It would be fun.  Or to spend a night at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park.  The last time I looked, and that was around five years ago a when friend got married in Estes Park, it cost $400 a night at the Stanley Hotel.  But then everything in Estes Park is expensive. In this story, there is some background for the haunted house.  A murder took place at the house.  At in the house there are some noises and things that were seen but not there. It was an okay story.  But nothing that makes the hairs stand on my neck or quicken the pace of my heart.  It’s no

19 October 2020

  Song mood: Hazy Shade of Winter by the Bangles.   I’m usually thrown off when I watch the video.   I think of fallen leaves, shadows, autumn and New England.   The video on the other hand is bright, California and has Robert Downing Jr in it.   I don’t remember what movie the song tied into, but it starred Robert Downing Jr. I’m halfway through Oscar Wilde and a Death of No Importance .  I’m thoroughly enjoying it.  In my Senior Capstone English class at UNO, I annotated The Importance of Being Ernest with a classmate.  I admit was a bit selfish on the project and most of my annotations were used.  It’s a project I wouldn’t picking up again.  But that’s besides the point and I have more pressing projects if I could decide on one. A Death of No Importance is fun to listen to as it reminds me of the Dave Chappell skit on Prince.  Where Prince and the Revolution challenges Charlie Murphy and his gang to a game of basketball.  This is what this story reminds me of.  I also have a f

The Damned Thing

  The Damned Thing by Ambrose Bierce comes really close to HP Lovecraft.   It starts with an inquest to a mysterious death and the narrator attends to give his account of what happened.   The monster in the whole narrative is not described well.   There is no clear picture as what it looks like.   As recorded in the narrator’s journal, the authorities have a difficult time believing the account that he gives in the journals. This story reminds me most of The Colour Out of Space by Lovecraft.  They both deal with colors that are outside what the normal eye can see.  It would not surprise me if The Damned Thing influenced Lovecraft with his story. The Damned Thing was originally published in 1893.  The audio program I listened to was narrated by Bronson Pinchot.

The Story of the Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was

The Story of the Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was by the Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm was my favorite Grimm story.   I remember watching the story on Shelly Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre.   It’s about a guy who doesn’t know what fear is.   He gets kicked out of his house for being useless.   So he sets out to find out what it’s like to shudder.   And upon this quest, he goes to a haunted castle and spends three nights in the spooky place. The faerie tales were supposed to teach something and I’m not quite certain what the lesson was.  In the end, it was his wife who taught him how to shudder.  So maybe the moral of the story is the world may fail to scare you, but your wife will succeed?  I’m not sure.  The story stuck with me from when I was a kid, and that is something. Grimm’s Fairy Tales was originally published in 1812.  The Youtube video I watched was posted by SuperUtils Software.  Shelly Duvall’s production of the tale can also be found on Youtube along with oth

17 October 2020

  Song mood: We Didn’t Start the Fire by Billy Joel.   Every time I see the commercial for The Boys season two, I can’t decide if I want to watch it. I watched it last year because it was a thing to do when I was hanging with my friend in Saint Cloud last year.   My friend, he likes to drink beer to the wee hours of the morning.   Something I’m not really able to do.   So my day was shot and binge watching The Boys was a good idea.   The series has some really graphic violence, which I’m not into.   I’m okay with some kinds of violence but not others.   It’s hard to say where the line is.   Anyway, I kind of want to watch season too but feel it might be too graphic for my tastes. I finished listening to The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by VE Schwab and though it was amazing.  I’m currently listening to Oscar Wilde and a Death of No Importance by Gyles Brandreth.  It’s a book I have been wanting to read for quite a while.  It has Oscar Wilde, Robert Sherard (his biographer), and

The Captain of the Pole-Star

  The Captain of the Polestar by Arthur Conan Doyle proves that he could write horror just as much as mystery.   It is the chronicles of a whaling ship’s doctor.   They have gone to the northern seas and the crew is worried they may not make it back.   Their captain has been erratic and doctor is determining if the captain is so mentally unstable that they must remove him from the helm. He confides with the doctor.  There are a few clues here and there that indicate that this is a vampire story.  The whole story is very subtle. Here is a fun clue that has no bearing on the story.  The doctor points out that there is a Book of Common Prayer by the church of England.  The doctor finds it interesting as the crew is either Presbyterian or Roman Catholic.  He’s basically saying that the crew is either Scottish or Irish.  Back in the Victorian era, churches were a national thing.  The Scotts were Presbyterian, the Irish were Catholics, the English were Anglicans, the Lutherans were Germa

The Lottery

  I remember reading The Lottery by Shirley Jackson in high school.   It’s used as an example of foreshadowing in many English and Creative Writing classes. It starts out with a simple lottery.  Everyone wants to win the lottery.  The rules are explained.  The lots are drawn.  And then there’s a twist that every reader finds out in the end what The Lottery is really about.  She does a lot of foreshadowing.  The foreshadowing changes the mood of the story.  It’s jovial kind of story about a lottery.  People are joking around.  And that is what makes the story creepy.  Because once you know what the lottery is about, the thought of people laughing over something so sinister is horrifying. The Lottery was originally published in 1948.  The audio program I listened to was narrated by Carol Jordan Stewart.

The Monkey's Paw

  The Monkey’s Paw by WW Jacobs has got be the creepiest story ever.   It involves a severed monkey’s hand from India that was bewitched to grant three wishes.   The hand was probably the most ghoulish part. Be careful of what you wish for is the main theme of the story.  Jacobs does a great job building the tension between the old couple.  As the story progresses, the tension between them grows until the end. The monkey’s paw is kind of like the dealing with faeries.  They may grant your wishes, but if you weren’t clear the wish could go so terribly wrong.  The paw may grant your wish, just not in the way you think.  And yet.  With all great horror, there are a few questions of deniability.  Did it really happen the way the characters thought it did?  A nice story to tell in the dark. The Monkey’s Paw was originally published in a collection of short stories called The Lady of the Barge in 1902.  The story on the audio program I listened to was narrated by Patrick Malahide.

15 October 2020

  Song mood: Friday I’m in Love by the Cure.   I know it’s Thursday, but it feels like Friday.   On my Thursdays, I visit with my photographer friend.   We talk about the books we are listening to.   Today we talked about our travels to Japan and my travel to Korea. I am nearly done with The Invisible Life of Addie La Rue by VE Schwab.  All I can say is wow.   I listened to A Darker Shade of Magic last year.  Part of a series with magicians.  I thought that book was okay but wasn’t compelled to continue reading the series.  Overall, I kind of thought of her as an average writer.  I was neither disappointed nor enthralled.  It was what it was, a book about magicians.  There were points where I thought why is she spending time on this idea when she doesn’t utilize the concept? The Invisible Life showed that she grew significantly better as a writer.  The writing was so much better.  The story so much stronger.  I was completely amazed.  The parts that take place in France, really

The Wind

  The Wind by Ray Bradbury shows that not all horror stories need a monster.   He has personified wind.   Took something that was somewhat abstract and gave it features. The story is not told through the person who is being terrorized by the wind, but a friend to that man.  It shows the wind as an animal stalking its prey.  The hunted man gives his ideas on why the wind does what it does. I get a sense of nostalgia when reading Ray Bradbury.  I think of what it’s like in the fifties and sixties.  In reality I’m reliving growing up in the eighties.  Going home from school and watching My Favorite Martian with my father.  Most of the shows after school and on Sunday mornings were shows from the sixties and seventies. Bradbury captures well all the ways that the wind can scare us.  Then he tells what happened to the terrorized man without mentioning what happened.  Which is unique writing trick in itself. The Wind was part of a collection called the October Country published in 19

The Realm of the Unreal

  The Realm of the Unreal by Ambrose Bierce is definitely a Twilight Zone type story.   It wouldn’t surprise me if the Twilight Zone television show was inspired and influenced by Bierce’s writing.   Most of his short stories had some kind of twist at the end.   Many of them are under ten pages. Bierce was probably the greatest American writer of his generation.  He was a veteran of the Civil War.  His death was somewhat of a mystery.  He went down to Mexico to write about the Mexican Revolution as it was happing and then just disappeared.  In the investigation of his disappearance, there were many unreliable accounts given.  In essence, he became like one of his own stories. This story is about a man who meets a hypnotist from India.  The hypnotist tells stories which the narrator scoffs at.  And then some strange encounters follows. After reading the story, one ends up saying, well if this was this, how did that happen?  Like all of his stories, it is a fun read. The Realm of t

Carmilla

  Carmilla by Sheridan le Fanu is a guilty pleasure to read.   If I were doing a paper on the novel, I would write about the lesbos themes throughout the novel.   Unlike the other vampire novels of the time, the main antagonist is a female preying on debutants. The vampire in this novel stalks out her victims years to decades in advance.  Or the one victim who could potentially be her companion for all eternity.  The main character is haunted in her childhood by the vision of a pretty woman’s face. Carmilla spends more time with her victims than Dracula.  Instead of trying to learn the lay of the land, she is walking smoothly among society.  Attending balls and talking with the up and up in society.  Dracula is far more rigid, working on the edges of society.  Trying to not be seen.  But then they were different people.  Dracula was a warrior nobleman where Carmilla was a debutant. Carmilla was published in 1872.  One of the audio programs I listened to was narrated by Simon Vance

The Seventh Man

  The Seventh Man by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch falls in line with the classic ghost story. Seven men, er I mean six men, were stuck in in a hut in the Arctic Circle.  The Gaffer is the only one who is keeping everyone else sane.  Some time in wintery weather, they hear a noise.  They investigate and find nothing. This story is cool because the Gaffer wonders if his mind is playing tricks.  He doesn’t dare say anything to anyone else, because he’s afraid that it will be the last straw and chaos will follow. I stumbled onto this story because I was wondering if it bore any relation to Haruki Murakami's The Seventh Man .  And it didn't.  This story is just as enjoyable. The Seventh Man was originally published in the short story collection Old Fires and Profitable Ghosts in 1900.  The audio program I listened to was narrated by Walter Covell.

October in the Chair

  October in the Chair by Neil Gaiman is probably my favorite Neil Gaiman story.   It has the twelve months of the year sitting together telling tales.  The months argue and fight with each other.  Finally October decides to tell his story. The story that October tells is probably the saddest story that Gaiman wrote.  It chronicles the life of an unhappy boy who decides to run away from home.  His older brothers bully him and he knows it’s time to leave. It is easy to relate to the boy. On his adventure he meets a ghost is kind to him. The ending of the story is always the most chilling and left the imagination of the reader. I always wanted to write November in the Chair, but I’m afraid that I could never write a story more chilling than this one. October in the Chair was originally published in 2006 in the short story collection Fragile Things .  The audio program I listened to was narrated by Neil Gaiman in the short story collection M is for Magic . October in the Chair

Cool Air

  Cool Air by HP Lovecract.   Let me start with I do not condone Lovecraft’s racism.   In this story it is ever present in his distaste of ‘the dirty Spaniards.’   I will from time to time read a Lovecraft story, but I enjoy the stories inspired by Lovecraft’s stories and monsters far better than the original works. I usually classify this story as a mummy story if anything.  It’s about a guy who has to find cheap lodgings and lives in a poorer part of New York City.  Where he befriends an old doctor.  And in time he discovers why the doctor’s apartment is cold and why it smells. This is one of the few stories that Lovecraft wrote that doesn’t have a creature of his imagining.  That is what makes the story unique.  There is no dream sequence.  No unearthly monsters.  The story reads more like one of his contemporaries. Cool Air was published in 1928.  The audioprogram I listened to was narrated by Michael Troy.  The narrator spent three minutes summarizing the story.  Which, I fe

The Family of the Vourdalak

  The Family of the Vourdalak by Aleksei Tolstoy is novella about vampires.   The stories of vampires in the Victorian era seemed to have different rules.   As time goes by the rules change.   Writers tend to pick and choose what properties they give their monsters. In this tale of vampirism, the undead have a need to make their family and or other loved ones like them.  It doesn’t make sense.  The father goes out to hunt for a vampire and tells his children that if he doesn’t come back within a certain time frame, they are to put a stake through his heart.  But the question was, did he come back in time or should they risk putting a steak through the heart of their father? This novella did have some really creepy moments.  The author did a great job with the bone chilling descriptions. The Family of the Vourdalak was published in 1884.  The audio program I listened to was narrated by Simon Vance.

The Black Cat

  The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe is the very epitome of the slasher horror genre.   The way the narrator speaks makes no sense.   The whole narrative is him explaining why he did his acts of violence.   The cat’s only crime was that it loved the narrator too much and the narrator becoming an abusive person by nature. It makes no sense.  However, if I read a book or a story and it reminds me of The Black Cat or The Tall Tale Heart , I know at once I’m reading a slasher horror story.  It’s where you have a character who is living in an ordinary world and then something triggers them and they go off and do acts of violence.  The old man’s evil eye is the trigger for The Tall Tale Heart . In this story, we don’t get to see him interact with anyone except for the cat.  There is no interaction between the narrator and his wife.  So we don’t get see her reaction when he starts to be abusive towards animals.  I think this is a way for the narrator to put a distance between himself and th

The Vampyre

  The Vampyre by John Polidori was inspired by Lord Byron’s A Fragment , an unfinished novel.   Both stories revolve around a promise made.   In both stories, the promise is made by the narrator to a dying man. The vampire in Polidori’s story resembles Lord Byron.  The narrator of the story is a traveler who meets a charismatic young man.  They have adventures with each other.  Until fate happens and the charismatic young man lays dying.  Who, makes a strange request that the narrator agrees to, but regrets it the moment he does. From that time, the narrator’s life is never the same. The Vampyre was one of the earliest vampire novels written.  Published nearly a hundred years before Bram Stoker’s Dracula .  It inspired generations of horror writers in the Victorian period alone. The Vampyre was published in 1819.  The audio program I listened to was narrated by Simon Vance.

The Legend of Sleepy Hallow

  The Legend of Sleepy Hallow by Washington Irving is the classic American ghost story.   Though I think Ambrose Bierce was a better writer though they are a generation or two apart. I remember as a kid watching movies of Sleepy Hallow .  The short story is mostly exposition and description.  There is only one real scene in the entire story.  I was thinking that there should have been scenes that built up to the climax.  Instead Irving just tells us this story.  So it was just build up for the only scene in the story. It was a classic case of the Beta male vs the Alpha male.  People who write movie scripts must have loved it, here there is a story hardly any dialogue, it would give them great liberties to take. Still, it was a story I remember growing up. The interesting thing about this story is that there is an actual town of Sleepy Hallow in New York state. The Legend of Sleepy Hallow was published in 1820.  The audio program I listened was narrated by Michael Scott, not of

Dracula's Guest

  Dracula's Guest by Bram Stoker was section that was supposed to have been cut from the novel.  The event in the short story happens on Walpurgis Night, April 30th near Munich.  In the novel on the same night, Jonathan Harker was near Dracula's castle in Transylvania. In the short story, Johan, is an adventurous Englishman on business.  He strays off the beaten against the advice of the carriage driver.  Where he comes across some ruins and soon learns that he should have listened. This short story shows off Bram Stoker's writing style very well.   Like Dracula the story filled vivid and active descriptions.  Science fiction owes a lot to Stoker's writing style and to the novel 'Dracula.' It is easy to see why this portion was cut out.  It moves too fast for the Dracula story.  In the novel, there was a build up before showing the monster.  This was so that Stoker could build the world in the story.  The short story showed a monster right away and went

The Mortal Immortal

  The Mortal Imortal by Mary Shelly could be considered science fiction for its time.   It’s about a heart broken alchemist’s assistant.   The occultist, well in the story he is an alchemist, is Cornelius Agripa.   Who was a real person in 15 th century Germany.   And whose works Victor Frankenstein reads to get a better understanding of alchemy in the novel Frankenstein . The assistant, spurned by his by his lover and her social circle is warned not to drink from the brewing elixir as it is a cure for broken heartedness.  Years later the assistant finds out that the potion has a different kind of power. This short story was written later in Mary Shelly’s life.  Well after her husband Percy Shelly died in a boating accident.  Percy edited Frankenstein and so that work had a more lyric quality.  This story doesn’t have the poetic flourishes, but show’s in straight forward verse Mary’s understanding of human nature. The Mortal Immortal was published in 1833.  The audioprogram I l

Oh Whistle and I'll Come for You, My Lad

  Oh Whistle and I’ll Come for You, My Lad by MR James is probably my favorite ghost story of all time.   James was know for writing psychological horror.   This story is about a Cambridge professor who doesn’t believe in ghosts or the afterlife.   He is on holiday and finds a whistle.   Upon which strange things happen. It has been my tradition on Halloween night to watch the 1968 movie staring Michael Hordern as the professor.  The movie is very much like the book.  I’m laughing at the moment as the google description labels it as a documentary. The 1968 movie is very quirky.  Hordern’s perfomance almost centers around eating loudly and talking to himself even when he is around other people. What makes this story, as the other ghost stories that James wrote, interesting is that you have a character that doesn’t believe in ghosts, religion or anything supernatural and he then crosses paths with the supernatural.  What does the professor do in the situation?  It is good to note that

The Hand

  The Hand by Guy de Maupassant has to be one of my favorite short stories of all time.   This story was written in a way as Maupassant is telling you the story himself.   The story is about the mysterious death of Sir John Rowell. The story is told by a judge named Bermutier who had been a judge who handled vendettas, which is most apt about the story.  The story has some supernatural aspects to it and yet the judge works to disprove the supernatural elements. What I like most about the story is how conversational this piece is.  Like it was a story told in a very natural setting. The Hand was published in 1883 by Guy de Maupassant.  The audio program I listened to was narrated by BJ Harrison.