Thursday, March 30, 2006
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Yesterday I went through three hours worth of examinations, beginning with a visual field test. This involved sticking my head in a bowl-shaped indentation in a computerized gizmo, covering one eye and staring at a small light at the back of the bowl. As lights flashed around the periphery of my vision I had to click a button at every sighting. Some of these lights were bright, others almost invisible. In fact, after six or seven minutes of this I began to imagine I was seeing lights and various other floating objects. After eight minutes, I was done with the first eye. Then I got to do it again. The tech told me that “the old people” sometimes fell asleep during the test. “At a party like this?” I said. She didn’t laugh.
Later, I had many pictures taken of my optic nerve. Apparently this part of the process required a flash roughly three times brighter than the surface of the sun.
I also had what turned out to be the most important test of the day. My eyes were numbed and the thickness of my corneas was measured. It turns out that my corneas are thicker than average. Much thicker. Which means that my pressure readings were inaccurate. When the new corneas measurement was factored in, my IOE pressure was well within normal range. I don’t have glaucoma.
Now I’m free to find something new to obsess about.
Here comes a massive surprise. I hope you’re sitting down.
I’m not going to finish The Firecracker Man by my self-imposed March 31st deadline. That’s the bad news. If it weren’t for holding down this 60-hour-a-week job, I might have done it.
The good news is that I’m fairly close to the end of the novel now, and today I managed to solve some storytelling problems that have been haunting me. So even though I’m blowing the deadline I had set, I feel good about where I am.
And believe me when I tell you it’s good to feel good.
Monday, March 27, 2006
*** Christopher Golden talks writing, comics and media tie-ins.
*** We give away MASTERS OF HORROR DVDs on The Tomb of Trivia, along with TWO TWISTED NUTS.
*** TICKLER or LICKER? Find out on Dave’s Poop.
*** Advice Demon Grim Rictus reveals his secret lineage.
*** Plus more inane rambling.
Pod of Horror #12 with Mark Justice and David T. Wilbanks is ready to waste bandwidth now at I-Tunes or direct to your desktop here.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Kinda like the inside of my head.
Writing, podcasting, politics, movies, comics, TV, books, home life and lots of pulps. It’s all here, and more. I think I have a touch of ADD.
I’ve always envied those people who have only one hobby or interest. They devote their lives to woodcarving or crocheting or muscle cars or model trains. They come home, have dinner with the family, open their stamp book or their coin collection and get lost in their hobby until bedtime. Rinse and Repeat.
I spend more time deciding what to read – Comics? Horror? Something I have to review? – than I do actually reading. I’m so far behind on everything I want to read I don’t think I’ll ever be able to keep up.
But I still buy books.
It’s like a crack addiction, one I know I’ll never be able to shake.
Over at Shocklines, Wm. Ollie mentions, after listening to the podcast of my story “Father’s Day”, that when those who read stories attempt to give different voices to characters, it distracts him.
One of the very best at doing this is Tom Monteleone. His recording of “Horn of Plenty” is a stone cold masterpiece, the benchmark for all other authors reading their own work. If I could do it a tenth as well as Monteleone, I’d be a happy guy. Meanwhile, I’ll keep trying.
By the way, I’m referring only to his acting skills. If I could write a hundredth as well as Monteleone...
Well, you know.
There’ll be a new Pod of Horror tomorrow. Cool prizes, too, DVD fans.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
Thursday, March 23, 2006
It's a good thing I'm not constrained by the facts, eh? It's why I got out of news and into making fart jokes on the radio.
Pod of Horror #12 is coming next week. Today I interviewed Christopher Golden, one of my favorite writers, for the show. I think you're going to enjoy this one. If you've never read him, then rush out and pick up The Boys Are Back in Town, Wildwood Road and The Ferryman. Then read them, in that order.
And we've got something very cool planned for POH #13.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
I’m not really sure what is going on with this phenomenon of female teachers having sex with underage male students. It seems to have exploded during the past few years. I don’t understand the mental mis-wiring that makes children sexy to some adults, and I realize that this is not a new occurrence. When I was in high school one of the really cute teachers had a thing for some of the athletes. The word was she offered to tutor them at her house when her husband was out of town. The tutoring usually ended up with this teacher , uh, cleaning the student’s easer, if ya know what I’m sayin’. It seemed everybody knew about it, but nobody complained. Especially the athletes.
However, had it been a male teacher with, say, a cheerleader, it would have been a different story.
With the current spate of molestations, the teacher usually goes to jail. But in the Debra Lafave case the charges were dismissed. She won’t be going to the pokey for allowing a 14-year-old boy to poke her.
We can only draw one conclusion from this legal decision.
If you’re really hot, you ain’t going to prison. Here, take a look at Ms. Lafave. I’ll wait.
Do you think that if the teacher had been a chubby guy or a butch chick, the charges would have been dropped?
Lafave blames her actions on her bipolar disorder, the new coverall excuse for bad behavior. Perhaps she really is ill and needs treatment. I have no idea. I just know that she wasn’t able to use that defense at her trial, because there was no trial.
Don’t get me wrong. If I was a high school boy and this woman propositioned me I would have immediately passed out due to the blood rushing from my brain. I wouldn’t have been able to work any problems at the board for four years.
That doesn’t change the fact that another teacher – an less attractive one or one equipped with a penis – would be in jail now.
Enjoy your freedom, Ms. Lafave, along with your TV appearances and your inevitable and profitable book deal.
You’ve just won the lucrative Double Standard Lottery.
The turkey wasn’t there anymore.
Steve, her husband, was smiling at her from the oven’s interior.
Marsha tumbled back onto her rump and her head smacked against a cabinet. She hardly felt the impact.
Steve was in the oven.
Before she could ponder the obvious questions – how did he fit in there? Why wasn’t he cooked? Why did he look so damned happy, certainly happier than he ever acted at home? – his head grew smaller and more distant.
She realized that he wasn’t in the oven at all. She was watching a movie about Steve. The oven window had become a TV screen.
As the camera drew back, Marsha recognized the setting. Steve’s office. And from the decorations, she knew it was the annual office Christmas party.
The no-spouses-allowed-because-the-budget-is-tight-this-year office Christmas party.
But how could she be watching a movie of Steve’s party when it wasn’t until tomorrow? She’d even promised to cook a turkey for the crew, to save on expenses.
Another figure walked into the scene and now Marsha knew why Steve had been smiling.
Steve’s secretary Tyra closed the door behind her. Marsha heard the click of the lock. Steve took the younger woman into his arms, smothering her with kisses while one hand groped Tyra’s small, shapely backside.
Tyra pushed him away and said, “What about your wife?”
“I’m telling her tomorrow, baby. We’ll be together by New Year’s Eve,” Steve said.
Marsha jerked the oven door open only to find that Steve and his little slut had disappeared. The turkey, though, was done. She closed the over door again, but she only saw the silver pan and the browned bird.
Fighting back tears, Marsha put the turkey on a platter and took out her carving knife.
She knew what she had to do.
She had mentally prepared a wonderful speech full of pain and loss and betrayal, but as soon as Steve walked through the door and gave her his customary nod of greeting, she forgot the speech and rammed the carving knife into his stomach. He managed to gasp out, “What—” before he collapsed.
She stood over her husband and pulled the knife out. “Twenty-eight years. You think I put in all that time to let you leave me for that little tramp?”
“I don’t…please….” Blood bubbled from his lips. “…take…your pills...”
Marsha screamed. Steve blamed everything bad thing that happened on those goddamned pills.
She kneeled next to Steve before plunging the knife into his throat.
Blood sprayed across the beautiful Italian kitchen tile. It would be a bitch to clean up, but she couldn’t worry about that. She had a divorce to prevent.
Later, after Steve stopped moving, Marsha crawled over to the oven door and peered into the window.
A new movie was playing. She saw herself, in that very spot, with the oven door open and her head inside.
She looked back at Steve. He would never leave her now. That tramp Tyra would have to find a new Sugar Daddy. No one would ever come between Marsha and her husband. They would be together forever. She would see to it.
She turned the gas on and opened the oven door.
Copyright 2006 by Mark Justice
Monday, March 20, 2006
Saturday, March 18, 2006
I had lunch with the quarterback of the New York Jets, Chad Pennington. Okay, me and 300 other people. It was a fundraiser for the Boy Scouts, and since Pennington went to nearby Marshall University, he came back to help out the Scouts. He also brought former Marshall teammate Troy Brown from the New England Patriots.
Hey, my table was next to Pennington’s table. Does that count?
It was a fairly good writing week, too. I produced two nice chunks of the collaborative novel with Dave Wilbanks. Work continues on The Firecracker Man. And I cranked out some stuff for Pulp Nocture,
Chris Fletcher tells me the audio version of my story “Father’s Day” will be up next Saturday at The Late Late Show. I did the reading.
This week I also recorded another audio project, this time reading the work of another writer. I’ll let him announce it. What he has planned for the recording sounds like it will be pretty cool.
We finally watched the season finale of Battlestar Galactica and I was blown away. It’s rare these days to find a show willing to take chances, and the producers of Galactica did just that, turning the concept of the show on its ear. There were so many great moments. Where do I start? Adama’s devotion to duty, though he knows what it will cost. Roslin’s dereliction of duty, for the same reason. Lee’s descent. Starbuck’s spirit. The chief’s amazing transformation into a leader.
October can’t get here soon enough.
And now they've recognized Pod of Horror.
In an article on Podcasting in issue 54, Brett Alexander Savory and Monica S. Kuebler say, “...and Pod of Horror (co-founded by authors Mark Justice and David T. Wilbanks, and sponsored by horrorreader.com) distinguishes itself as a horror lit radio show featuring publishing and convention news, book recommendations, as well as interviews with popular genre authors and editors.”
Thanks, guys. I knew there was a reason RM was my favorite magazine.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
In a coincidence, the cover story is devoted to The Spider Web house, a local landmark owned my Aunt and Uncle.
For a free subscription, call 606-329-8383.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
My wife was Valentina the Brain.
Monday, March 13, 2006
* A talk with the funniest man in horror, Jeff Strand.
* Advice Demon Grim Rictus tries to rhyme.
* Nanci Kalanta give us the March Horror World update.
* Voice mail from the Warners.
* The Tomb of Trivia if full of prizes: POE'S LIGHTHOUSE edited by Christopher Conlon, THE CLEANSING by Shane Ryan Staley, WORMWOOD NIGHTS by Charlee Jacob. TWO TWISTED NUTS by Jeff Strand and Nick Cato, and SOCIALLY AWKWARD MOMENTS WITH AN ASPIRING LUNATIC by Strand.
* A $50 gift certificate to Shocklines.com and a subscription to Cemetery Dance magazine.
Join us as we try to live up to our I-Tunes Explicit label for Pod of Horror #11. You can download it here.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
Saturday, March 11, 2006
- Funny-scary writer Jeff Strand
- Horror Goddess Nanci Kalanta
- Grim Rictus
- Major prizes on Tomb of Trivia
- Major cursing as we try to live up to the "Explicit" label I-Tunes has stuck on us
- Many references to rectums; God only knows why.
What's with those friggin' flowers? Geez.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
He showed me the secret of getting fast treatment in the ER: have a fever above 103.
No waiting, baby.
They knocked the fever down pretty quickly and it looks like he’s on the mend.
Good thing. I told him he’s the only one I can count on to show up for my Horrorfind reading.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
My Uncle Bud gave me my first Doc Savage books in 1969. I considered them my first grown-up books, since they didn’t have pictures (of course I didn’t know that in the original pulp publication there were pictures. Hey, I was nine). Those books were Dust of Death, The Flaming Falcons and The Other World. Many books and comics and toys have passed through my hands in the intervening years, but I still have those three novels.
Captivated by those ultra cool James Bama cover paintings, I dug in to those stories and became forever mesmerized by the world of Doc Savage, adventurer supreme, righter of wrongs and archenemy of evil. I went on to collect every Doc book.
When the Doc Savage novels were published in magazine form starting in 1933, the novels were full-length ( or at least what the pulps considered full length), so Bantam reprinted one novel per book.
Later, when the paper shortages of World War II forced many magazines to reduce in size or even shut down, the novels became novellas, and those were reprinted two to a book. In fact, the later Doc stories, most novelette in length, were packaged four or five to a book by Bantam.
But it’s the Doc Doubles that concern us here. Specifically, Double # 115/116 Pirate Isle and The Speaking Stone.
For some reason – low print run, poor distribution – this book never made it to any of my usual haunts. In that pre-eBay year of 1983, I searched for it everywhere I saw a bookstore. As the rest of the Docs were reprinted, I collected them all, along with a few of the original pulp magazines, but I could never find 115/116.
Then eBay came along and a whole new world of collecting opened to me. And I eventually found that missing book listed, for astronomical prices. Oh, I bid on it many times, convincing myself that it was worth $35, $45 or $50 to complete my Doc collection. But I always lost those auctions or balked at upping my bid to ridiculous levels.
This went on for years.
Until last Saturday, when I found a company called Blackmask Online. They’re engaged in reprinting Doc Savage novels in facsimile form (along with other cools stuff), and right there on their Doc page, they had Pirate Isle and The Speaking Stone together in one volume for $10.99.
So I ordered it. I was going to finally read those stories.
After ordering the book, I headed to work. I had a little time to kill, so I stopped by my local used paperback store.
You see where this is going, right?
There was the legendary, elusive Doc Savage Double Novel #115/116.
I wasn’t sure what message the universe was trying to send me. I mean, after 23 years of scouring the book world for this Doc, it turns up twice in one day.
So I bought it.
I read it earlier today and was reminded how tight author Lester Dent’s writing became in the later years of his Doc career. Had the man not died far too young, I believe we would have been discussing him with a lot of the great mystery and suspense writers of the 1950s, like John D. MacDonald.
Anyway, my collection is now complete. It was great to visit with Doc, Monk, Ham Renny and the rest once again.
And it has me even more enthused about Pulp Nocturne. More on that any day now.
Oh, and thanks Uncle Bud. I owe it all to you.
I think I know why this season of 24 is so much better than the last.
After watching this week’s double episode in which we bid farewell to chunky Edgar (and let me tell you: I hate it when the fat guys die), it struck me why this season has been so much more captivating. The producers and writers have eliminated down time.
They’ve removed the boring parts.
In the last season, when something incredibly stupid happened – like, oh, say Jack having to delay a bad guy at a gas station by taking the station hostage for two hours instead just cutting the tire on the bad guy’s car – we had plenty of time to ponder the stupidity of the situation.
This year, the action and twists are so fast and furious that when something dopey does happen (and those moments mostly involve the President), we don’t have time to worry about it before we’re thrown into the next nerve gas attack/shoot out/familiar character dying.
I don’t know if this is due to a change on the producing or writing staff. But whatever it is, I like it. I just hope they can keep it up for the rest of the season.
And I hope they get Kim in a t-shirt soon. And running. That's quality TV.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Saturday, March 04, 2006
Friday, March 03, 2006
I know there hasn’t been much blogging lately, and I apologize to those who actually miss it. Real life has been making its presence felt in almost everything I do: broken glasses, lost keys, plumbing problems and a near-arrest at Wal-Mart (it was three in the morning and I had purchased reading glasses, the tag on which set off the security alarm, followed by my inability to find my receipt, much to the amusement of the 12 people who had been dozing at the Wal-Mart McDonalds).A big distraction was the illness suffered by one of my cats. Clark is fine now, but I’m such a big baby when it comes to the cats that I was a basket case for a couple of days. So was Lois, who hissed and growled at Clark for three days because he smelled like the vet's office.
The writing continues, both on The Firecracker Man and the collaborative novel with Dave Wilbanks. I’m really jazzed about Pulp Nocturne. More details on that one coming soon (but now you know why I’ve been posting so many pulp covers. That’s all I’ve been reading lately). Thanks for the emails from those who have read and enjoyed my story in Damned Nation…both of you. :^)