Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Odds and Ends

I just got Horror Fiction Review #12, and was surprised to see I was mentioned three times, twice for “Life’s Work”and once for “Deadnecks” from Dark Discoveries #6. And it was all favorable. :^)

HFR, as I’ve said before, is a nice little ‘zine. It reminds me a lot of the fanzines I read in the 80s,particulary the classic pulp ‘zine, Echoes. Nice work by Nick Cato and crew.


I finished Stephen King's The Cell on Saturday. It was quite a read. I hear a lot of people say about any new King, "It's not as good as The Stand/Salem's Lot/The Shining." And they're usually right. But those novels, classics all, seem to grow in stature the more distant we are from actually reading them. So The Cell is a good book, but not a classic like The Stand/Salem's Lot/The Shining. If you have hesitated to buy it, don't. If you like King, you'll race through The Cell. There is no one in horror or popular fiction who creates characters who are as relatable as King's.

It was interesting to find situations in The Cell that bore some resemblance to a book Dave Wilbanks and I wrote last year. Hey, can we sue him, claiming he used telepathy to steal our ideas?


I'm sick, with a fever and the mind warping sensations that go along with it. This shall pass, but posting may be sporadic (or increase in frequency; you never can tell where the fever might take you).

Saturday, January 28, 2006

My Cold Dish

On this week’s Smallville, Clark Kent’s dad, played with all the depth of a cigar store Indian by former Dukes of Hazzard star John Schneider, took what I hope is a one-way trip to TV heaven.

And I danced the dance of the insanely happy.

This is the completely honest and true story of why I hate John Schneider.

My wife worked for a TV station for about ten years. Part of her job was to travel with a crew to Los Angeles twice a year and work an interview room where CBS would send the stars of their new series and TV movies, so they could be interviewed for local stations in markets all over the country.

Her crew would host reporters from several stations who would get ten or fifteen minutes with the star in her room. So she would spend several hours with each star. Most of them turned out to be nice people. Only one ever brought an entourage (*cough* Whoopi *cough*).

In 1990 comedian Paul Rodriguez was starring in a new show for CBS called Grand Slam. Guess who his co-star was? Oh, you’re way ahead of me.

So after hours of listening to talking heads from a dozen stations ask the same questions (“So, do you miss riding around in the General Lee?”), the day was over.

Rodriguez and Schneider thanked the crew who had worked with them all day, then Schneider, the bad actor and failed singer, grabbed my wife, said, “I just have to do this,” and stuck his tongue in her mouth.

That’s right. My wife was tongue-kissed by Bo Fucking Duke.

The experience left her a little stunned and shocked (at least that’s what she told me, though I can’t imagine having anybody unexpectedly giving you a tonsil bath would be enjoyable. Unless, you know, it was Ashley Judd).

My wife enjoys telling this story over and over and over. Almost as much as she enjoys the one where the 17-year-old cashier at the grocery store who had just carded my wife asked me (who, by the way, is younger) for my Senior Discount Card. Oh, she loves that one.

Anyway, my revenge has been a long time a-comin’. I kept hoping Schneider would show up here, taking a cross country drive or something, when his car gets a flat right in front of my house. When I go out to help, Bo-Bo would say, “Hey, can you give me a hand?”

“Sure, Bo-Bo. I’ll jack up the car. You just lay down there next to it. Heh. Heh.”

Never happened.

But at least his character died on Smallville. He’s off the show.

Have nice life, Ass Face. Enjoy your new job at the Arby’s Drive-Thru.

And with your copious free time, why don't you drop by to see us sometime?

Heh. Heh.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Them's Fightin' Words!

There’s an article in The Boston Globe called “The Pornification of America”, which observes that the sensibilities of porn are creeping into mainstream culture. You can read it here.

Mostly, the writer seems concerned that Lindsay Lohan is appearing scantily-clad on too many magazine covers, thus reducing all of womanhood into sex objects. One could pause and say, “This is new?”, but instead we shall quote what is to me the most interesting statement in the article:

Even cooking shows on the Food Network -- the Food Network! -- contain distinct parallels with the cinematography, dialogue, and body language of pornography, according to an article wryly headlined ''Debbie Does Salad" in the October issue of Harper's magazine.

Food Network? Home of southern fried Paula Dean and my next wife Rachael Ray? It can’t be so. But then the current Mrs. Justice points out to me that they’re probably talking about the Italian cooking show hosted by the large-headed Giada De Laurentiis.

The show, my first wife says, focuses on her cleavage and her long fingers, backed by what sounds like a porn soundtrack.

I don’t know if I believe this. My Food Network? My refuge, the last bastion of civility in a cold, cruel world? Food Network -- where life is free from imaginary Weapons of Mass Destruction, illegal presidential wiretapping and thousands of hurricane victims left homeless by a uncaring government – is a den of sleaze, catering to the baser nature in all of us?

I don’t believe it. I won’t believe –

Wait. I'm watching Food Network now.

I just saw camel toe on Rachael Ray.

Never mind. Sigh.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

All Work Will Cease

...while I read the new Stephen King book. I know King-bashing is all the rage on message boards these days. His supposed crime seems to be NOT writing the same book over and over.

But a new King novel is still a call for celebration in my house, so excuse me if I don't answer your email for a couple of days.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Where Wolf?

Mike Oliveri has created a site to promote his new comic series Werewolves: Call of the Wild. The art on this one looks amazing, and I can't wait to read Mike's story. Check out the site, then hie ye to a comics store in April to pick it up.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Things That Shaped Me Into The Man I Am: 1

Part One:

1968. The Debut of Batgirl. I get funny feeling that I don't understand. Holy Booty Call, Batman!

Currently Reading

I'm trying to clear the boards so I can jump on the new Stephen King book on Tuesday. Still, I can't control when nostalgia will strike. I'm re-reading one of my favorite comics from the 80s, Timothy Truman's Scout and Scout: War Shaman.

I'm also working my way through this new horror anthology for Hellnotes. It's an interesting mix so far.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Write Stuff

This one’s writing related, so if that idea bores you, check back later in the week. I’ll try to be entertaining then.

I’m plugging away on The Firecracker Man, mostly figuring out how all the disparate character threads are going to come togther. That’s the problem with writing something patchwork over a couple of years. My goal is to finish this by spring.

I have grandiose ambitions. This is the year of The Novels for me. I plan on finishing three of them. Not all are from scratch. TFM is three quarters finished. One more is a third done. And Dave Wilbanks and I are starting on the novel-length follow up to the novella we’re currently shopping around, so I’ll be working on that at the same time as TFM.

I know that’s a lofty goal, especially for someone who works a lot of hours at his day job, but I need the deadlines to motivate me. Check back in ‘07 to find out how it worked out.

I can’t give you the title of the collaborative novel yet, since we haven’t announced the novella’s name (at least I haven’t; I don’t know about Dave). I can give you the initials, though. DE:TVR. Let the guessing begin. Hey, Wilbanks, can we give a prize to the person who guesses correctly?

Monday, January 16, 2006

Pod of Horror #8

Here’s what awaits you on the eighth entertaining episode of feardom’s favorite time waster:

* Genre favorite Danny Trejo discusses his career and his latest movie ALL SOULS DAY.

* Weston Ocshe talks about horror’s most innovative fiction site, Muy Mal.

* The January Horror World update from Nanci Kalanta.

* Advice Demon Grim Rictus blushes!

* Fearsome Freebies! The limited edition of THE BACKWOODS by Edward Lee. SUCCULENT PREY by Wrath James White, the extreme uncut DVD of ALL SOULS DAY.
And, as always, a $50 Shocklines gift certificate.

All this and a few laughs on Pod of Horror #8, available now at I-Tunes or listen on your computer at http://www.horrorreader.com/horror_reader/pod_of_horror/index.html

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Hot L Baltimore

I just reserved a room for my brother and me for Horrorfind Weekend 2006. Whoo-hoo!

I had a great time last year, even though the book component was very disappointing. I'm going on blind faith, in hopes that our cries have been heard and the book presence will be stronger this time around.

And Laurie Alk has promised to supply me with White Russians, my Kryptonite. :^)

Friday, January 13, 2006

Shall We Catch Up?

My apologies for a light blogging week. I didn’t mean to alarm anyone (hi, Angie!).

I’m still smarting over the Bengal’s loss to the Steelers Sunday.

But apparently I should get over it, because it was fixed. Just a couple of hours ago a woman told me all NFL games are fixed. She knows this because her gambling-addicted ex-boyfriend told her.

Well, that settles it then.


We’ve got a new Pod of Horror Going live on Monday. I’ll post a link to it then. One of the features will be an interview with Danny Trejo, an actor whose name you probably don’t recognize, but whose face you will. He’s been in a zillion movies and TV shows, including Desperate Housewives a couple of months ago. Take a look:


Did anyone else see Lost on Wednesday?

The scene with Mr. Eko facing down the black smoke monster has to qualify as the biggest WTF? moment of the 2005-2006 TV season.


I have no free time, yet I’m planning on checking out the new season of 24, starting Sunday.

Last year I jumped off the 24 train pretty early in the season. In fact, the exact moment was when Jack had to delay the terrorist at the gas station for a few minutes so Chloe could redeploy the satellites or some such thing. When faced with that decision, I think we all know what we’d do: slit the guy’s tire. Not Jack . He had to put on a ski mask, grab a gun, hold everyone in the gas station hostage and cause a stand off with the police.This was such an obvious placeholder for the producers and writers.

“Holy shit, we’re out of ideas.”

“Why don’t we just put Jack in that gas station for a couple of episodes until we can
come up with something?"

This morning on the radio show my wife said, “You read comic books every week. You’re a horror and science fiction nut. For God’s sake, you write fiction about redneck zombies and intelligent electric chairs. And you couldn’t suspend your disbelief over a gas station holdup?"


But the reviews and previews for the new season of 24 have me intrigued. Plus, Kim is back, and I can’t wait to see what convoluted plot mechanism they devise to fit her into the story.

I still think a Kim spin-off could be huge. Just put her in shorts and a tight t-shirt and have bad guys chase her through the woods. The show could be shot entirely in slow motion and it would have to be called Run, Kim, Run.


I’ve resumed posting classic comic book covers over at The Museum of Arts and Comics, a forum I co-moderate with the fine artist Russ Dickerson. You can check it out here.


I’m still working on the novel, too. It’s called The Firecracker Man. The first half of it was written a couple of years ago and I’ve been combing through it to reacquaint myself with the story and the characters.

I had forgotten about one scene that was inspired by an incident from my childhood. Remind me to tell you about the time around age 11 when I was a professional private detective, at least for one day.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Monday, Monday

2:20 a.m. Stumbled out of bed.
3:10 a.m. Arrived at work.
11:00 a.m. Used lunch to set up some things for Pod of Horror #8 (coming Monday!) and hammered out a few details for a collaborative novel with Dave Wilbanks.
1:00 p.m. Took a walk with my brother and Ed the Female Dog.
2:00 p.m. Worked on a novel.
4:30 p.m. Dinner and a tape of Desperate Housewives (I screwed up setting the VCR for The West Wing, dammit!)
5:30 p.m. More work on novel.
6:30 p.m. Head to bed with a book to review.

And so it goes.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Talk Like A Teen Girl

Linguistics experts at the University of Toronto have determined that teen girls pick up new slang before anyone else and introduce it into society.

And, courtesy of TV Squad, here's the latest hip lingo:

  • Muffin Top: the belly that hangs over the jeans
  • Exogal: skinny
  • Truthiness: making statements you believe to be true, but may not be (try using that one in a sentence)
  • Whale Tail: thong above the waistband
  • Prostitot: child dressed provocatively
  • Chickenhead: ugly girl
  • Squares: cigarettes
  • Creepin' and falsin': cheating and lying
  • Lollipalooza: group of cute boys, also known as lollipops
I may be the King of the Muffin Tops.

Do You Speak Jive?

In a correction of a vast injustice, the Jive Dudes from the movie Airplane now have their own website.

Solid, blood.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Fear the Tiger

Here's a blurry cell phone picture from earlier tonight of my little cousin Audrey with her dad Andy, standing next to R & B Funkmaster Bootsy Collins, who produced a Cincinnati Bengals rap song called "Fear the Tiger".

Audrey's the one in the middle. :^)

You can watch the "Feat the Tiger" video here.

Go Bengals. Who Dey!

The REAL Pulp Fiction

I picked up three new pulp reprints from Adventure House today. Those guys are the leading publisher of old pulp fiction, primarily through their magazines High Adventure and G-8 and his Battle Aces.

G-8 #19 is another great looking issue. The exploits of the flying WWI spy are great, over-the-top fun. I can't wait to dig into this story.

The January 1942 issue of Hooded Detective wants us to believe that a guy in purple and yellow tights is a frightening figure to the underworld. He should have been scared of DC Comics' lawyers, since he stole the costume of the Jack Kirby-Joe Simon version of Sandman. That aside, how could you resist a novel titled "The Whispering Eye"?

Now that's what I'm talkin' about. Eerie Stories. August 1937. "Startling Adventures in Chilling Horror", as the contents page proclaims. And dig some of these story titles: "Virgins of the Stone Death", "The Soul-Scorcher's Lair", "Corpse Girl's Return", "The Pain Master's Bride" and "Mate of the Beast". I would've plopped down three nickels for that line up (or maybe not; in 1937 you could have gotten an issue of Doc Savage or The Shadow for a dime).

The Adventure House reprints include most of the original ads, too, like a full page piece for those people who were too skinny and needed to gain weight. Let that sink in and then give it a big ol' 2006 "Huh?" That's right. In 1937 skinny = bad. And what was the miracle product that put the pounds on? Ironized Yeast, "made from special imported cultured ale yeast". Yep, beer fixins'. Swallow it down, you 98-pound weakling.

Notice I freely plug Adventure House and their fine publications, even though the one time I spoke with them directly I was treated like Pat Robertson at an Israeli picnic.

Before I could get their products through my local comics shop, I ordered them direct from the publisher. Back in those days, I bought a lot of books through the mail, so when I got a big box from Adventure House, I wasn't surprised. I opened it, only to find a bunch of books I already owned. Digging down, I discovered a receipt made out to some other person. So, trying to be a nice guy, I called AH and told them what had happened. You'd expect a brief apology or a word of thanks, right? Instead I was read the riot act for opening a package that they sent to me. A lesser man would have dumped the books in the river, but I sent them back. And here I am recommending their pulp reprints. How mature. How enlightened I am.

So try the books. Just get them through your comic shop so you can bypass the grumpy guy who answers the phone.

Paging Mr. Johnson

From the Arkansas Times "Best and Worst of 2005" article:

Best tallywhacker

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette began a feature story in April about a Red Cross blood drive in Searcy with this lead: “With a small prick, Three Rivers residents are asked to save a life.”

I can just imagine the outcry at Three Rivers: "Hey, I just got out of the pool! The water was cold!"

The full article is here.

A Charlie Brown Kwanzaa

If you thought you saw all the good Christmas specials, you're wrong. Relive the joy of the holidays right here.

This is the funniest thing I've seen in 2006.

Oh, and it's not work friendly. In fact, it's at least three galaxies and a solar system away from work friendly.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Cat Calls 911

I'm trying to imagine Lois or Clark doing this, but I just don't see it happening.

Rescue Me

I finished the first season of Rescue Me today. Season Three airs this summer, so I guess Season Two will be on DVD about the same time. Man, I've been a TV watching fool.

I also got in a long walk under gray skies.

And I wrote and submitted another short story, so that's an even dozen floating around out there.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Notes From Vacation

I go back to work Wednesday and, as always, vacation has been a warp speed experience.

We had a new furnace and air conditioner installed at the house. It was a smoother process than I expected (or forecasted...see below). Now I await summer to see if this house can really be comfortable.

You know, something just occurred to me: I need a name for the house, so my cool factor will go up a notch or two. How ‘bout Wistful Vista? Gravyland? Solvency’s End? Ah, it’ll come to me.

Watched a lot of movies, and I enjoyed most of them. This morning I went with my brother to see Walk The Line. I liked it well enough, though I didn’t feel it lived up to its hype. I grew up on Johnny Cash’s music, so Joaquin Phoenix’s renditions were just serviceable. Reese Witherspoon was magnificent. I just wish I hadn’t seen Ray first, so the story would be less familiar. Talented guy gets a big break, then pisses his life away with drugs and affairs, followed by two or three minutes devoted to going cold turkey, then he’s a great guy and we all love him. Yawn.

This evening Norma and I watched Christmas with the Kranks (2 1/2 stars), The Polar Express (4 stars) and War of the Worlds (3 stars). In fact, The Polar Express earned the coveted title of Mark’s Favorite Christmas Movie Ever. And I’ve seen ‘em all (not counting some of the horrendous made-for-tv flicks).

Earlier in the week, we watched The Skeleton Key and The Exorcism of Emily Rose (both 3 stars).

So did I write? Yes. Got a couple of stories submitted. Worked on some other stuff. By the way, in case anyone is interested, here’s the current count of material I’ve submitted and am still waiting on a rejection or acceptance: 2 novellas. 11 short stories. Sigh.

Here’s one last Christmas note: did you sing any Christmas carols this year? I did, at an event that required singing all the verses. Did you ever notice that after the first, maybe second verse, most of these songs really suck? It’s like the writers were paid by the word. “Need 14 verses? Sure, I can do it!” The deeper you get into a Christmas carol, the harder the lyricist was digging for imagery or just a rhyme. Take this couplet from late in “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”:

Late in time behold him come,
Offspring of the Virgin's womb.

That’s a rhyme? That was the best they could do? Holy Crap. Doesn’t this work better:

Life Eternal through Him Shall Bloom,
Offspring of the Virgin’s Womb

That’s like fifteen seconds’ work. Maybe writing carols is what I’m meant to do.

Flipper Lovin'

Woman marries dolphin.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Muy Mall

There's an interesting experiment on online fiction going on at Muy Mall, which debuted today. Mike Oliveri, John Urbancik and Weston Ochse, all fine writers, are providing free fiction, set in a shared world. It looks like each writer is starting out with two continuing stories. The writing and the design of the site are very good.

I'm not sure where it will end up, whether we're seeing the vanguard of a new fiction delivery system or if, a few months down the road, the readers will get stuck with unresolved stories. All I know is I plan on enjoying the ride. Here's the official press release:

Come participate in the shared world experience of Muy Mal, scheduled to premier on January 1, 2006 online at www.muymal.com.

What is Muy Mal?

Muy Mal is a shared world created by Michael Oliveri, John Urbancik, and Weston Ochse. It's a world very much like our own, similar in time and place, but just about thirty degrees off of reality. This is a world in which magic never ceased to exist, where evil waits around every corner and where creatures walk side-by-side with everyday folk. Muy Mal is a world that is a very bad place.

Each writer will explore their own corner of this world, though readers can expect some crossover between tales. Characters may make cameo appearances for example, and major events will affect every story. This is not collaboration so much as it is cooperation, and readers will be welcome to witness as much or as little of the world as they see fit.

Each story will be serialized, and each writer may spread their work across several serialized pieces at a time. An overall title serves as an umbrella for each writer's work, and each individual tale will carry its own title as it unfolds chapter by chapter. These titles are:

Chronicles of the Black Bishop by Weston Ochse
Seeker by John Urbancik
Asphalt & Alchemy by Mike Oliveri

Muy Mal is also an experiment in the delivery of online fiction. Thanks to the power and flexibility of WordPress, the stories will be accessible in a familiar, blog-like structure where each new chapter will appear at the top of each writer's section. Similarly, links will be available so readers may drill down and focus on specific serials. There will also be RSS feeds for each author so readers can pull content directly to their feed reader rather than visit the main site.

Unbelievably, Muy Mal's contents are Free. All of the work posted to the site is licensed under a Creative Commons license, specifically the "Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License." In English, this means readers are welcome to download and/or print the stories out to their heart's content. Give copies to friends and neighbors! We don't care, so long as the work is presented with bylines of the respective writer, it's not altered, and not used commercially.

In even simpler terms: read it, enjoy it, and please don't screw us.

If you have any further comments or questions, feel free to contact us.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Muy Mal - http://www.muymal.com/
Mike - mike@muymal.com
John - john@muymal.com
Weston - weston@muymal.com