Monday, June 26, 2006

Pod of Horror #17

Pod of Horror #17 is here, and this time around:

* We plow THE FARM with author Scott Nicholson.

* Nanci Kalanta previews Horror World for July.

* Grim Rictus may be too sexy for his shirt.

* Scott Bradley reviews HORROR: ANOTHER ONE-HUNDRED BEST BOOKS, edited by Stephen Jones and Kim Newman

* How many of the Stoker winners have we read?

* Free books! Free books! Many, many free books in The Tomb of Trivia!

Pod of Horror is hosted by Mark Justice and David T. Wilbanks. Download it at I-Tunes or direct to your desktop here.

And be sure to drop by the Justice & Wilbanks message board here.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Mad Reign of the Plague Master--Part 3

The two greatest heroes of the 1930s must put their differences aside to prevent America's greatest city – and then the country – from falling before the most insidious evil science has ever created.

Chapter 1.3

The big black car had followed the gunman's companion at a distance. When the car stopped near a seedy bar, Crenshaw ordered Taylor to park a few blocks away.

The driver of the other car exited his vehicle and rapped on the door of the darkened bar. The door opened and the driver stepped inside.

Immediately, the back door of the big black car also opened and a tall figure dressed in black slipped from the vehicle and disappeared into the shadows.

The Reaper was on the prowl.

Inside the empty bar, the man who had fled the ballroom faced two other men, one thin, the other quite obese. Two candles on the bar provided the room's only illumination

"Where's Marcum?' The fat one said.

"Dead," the car's driver said. "Some guy in a big car gunned him down outside the hotel."

"And Van Sloan?" the thin man asked.

"Still alive. A broad opened the box clear on the other side of the room from the mayor."

The thin man cursed.

"There's more," the driver added. "Doc Kronos was there."

The fat man chuckled. "Don't worry, Jackie. He's being taken care of."

From the back of the room came a strange sound. Someone else was laughing.

A tall figure stepped from the darkness. Clad entirely in black, the newcomer held two big automatics aimed at the trio.

Where a normal man's face would have been there was a bone-white skull. Red eyes blazed from the sockets.

"It's The Reaper!" the man called Jackie screamed. He reached in his pocket for his gun, but a shot from one of The Reaper's automatics tore through his heart.

The fat man, nimble for his size, dove over the bar. The thin man dropped to the floor and crawled under a table.

The Reaper laughed again and fired at the mirror above the bar. The glass shattered into hundreds of razor sharp fragments. The fat man swore.

The thin man, hoping to use the darkness to his advantage peered over the top of the table and aimed his revolver at the figure in black. But another shot from The Reaper's guns obliterated the top of the thin man's skull.

After the echo from the shot faded away, the only sound in the bar was the heavy breathing of the fat man.

"If you want to live, come out from behind there," The Reaper said. His voice was low and harsh, as cold as a whisper from a mausoleum. No sound like that had ever come from a human throat.

The fat man stood with his hands over his head.

"I want to live, but I know that's not going to happen," he said. "If you're really The Reaper, you don't leave guys like me alive."

The guns of The Reaper never wavered. "Who is behind the attack on Van Sloan?" he said in that dead voice.

"Somebody too big for even you." The fat man reached a hand beneath his coat. The Reaper fired once. The fat man gasped, then pulled his hand from beneath the jacket. His hand was covered in blood and pieces of shattered glass.

"No," the fat man whispered. Dark red blooms quickly sprouted on his face. The fat man closed his eyes, resigned to his fate. The red spots suddenly sprouted scarlet flames, which spread to the rest of the fat man's body.

The Reaper backed away a few steps and watched the fat man burn.

The front door of the bar exploded inward. The Reaper whirled toward the figure who rushed through the opening.

Taylor brandished a big revolver and a flashlight.

"Captain! Are you okay?"

"Get back," The Reaper ordered. He followed Taylor to the open door and the fresh air it offered. "My uniform will protect me, but I don't know how long the thing remains active."

"The thing?" Taylor said, his face etched in concern.

After a few minutes, The Reaper led his valet back to bodies on the floor.

"Shine that light here," the man in black said, indicating the corpse at his feet. Taylor directed the beam at the body of the thin man. The Reaper knelt and grabbed the dead man's gun hand.
There on the corpse's wrist, illuminated by the circle of light, was a tattoo of a crimson eye.


That's it for now. Thanks for reading, pulpsters!

Frankenstein: 1910

Thomas Edison's 1910 film Frankenstein, released the year my grandfather was born, was recently rediscovered and restored. Now it's online. You can watch it here.

Bat Head

Norma and I were walking in our local park last night before dark. For a while we shared the path with four young baseball players in their uniforms. These guys were probably nine or ten years old and engaged in a very deep and thought-provoking conversation.

Just before our paths separated, one of the kids spoke up in a voice that sounded exactly like Froggy from The Little Rascals.

"You ever get hit in the head with a ball bat?" Froggy said to one of his buddies. "I mean besides that one time."

Little League is tough these days.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Norma does Vegas

My wife returned this morning from her first trip to Las Vegas. She stayed at the luxurious Wynn resort, where they have flat screen TVs in the bathrooms and remote control curtains. Man, for a hillbilly like me, that's uptown.

A gambling novice, she told me she played the nickel slots forever with a five dollar bill. "It was a great machine," she told me on the phone the other night. "The nickels just kept pouring out."

"So how much did you win?" I asked.

"After I finished, I counted it up and I had...five dollars and twenty-five cents."

Whoo-hoo! I'm turning in my resignation tomorrow.

She also brought me a gift: a bottle of Romulan Ale from The Star Trek Experience.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Mad Reign of the Plague Master--Part 2

Art by Billy Tackett

The two greatest heroes of the 1930s must put their differences aside to prevent America's greatest city – and then the country – from falling before the most insidious evil science has ever created.

Chapter 1.2

Twenty blocks east of the big building, Doctor David Kronos was trying not to adjust his collar. Wearing a tuxedo was only one of the things Doc Kronos disliked about public appearances. Another was the glances he got, both covert and direct. He was a striking figure, tall and well muscled as a result of a lifetime of specially designed exercises. His skin was the color of burnished gold, his hair only one shade darker.

His exploits as an adventurer and inventor had nearly reached the level of myth, so people were naturally curious. Doc Kronos was, in some ways, a man of mystery. Only hints of his strange background had been revealed.

He was raised by his scientist parents to achieve the peak of human conditioning, physical and mental, to devote his life to helping those who deserved it, no matter their position on the economic and social ladder. Doc ran away from his training when he was just 15 to seek adventure in the war. There, after successfully passing himself off as an adult, he discovered a natural aptitude for leadership and, more importantly, he met the men who became his associates and closest friends. Over the past decade, he had become a celebrity, thanks to his incredible exploits as much as his medical and scientific achievements.

Fame was the biggest regret in the golden man's life. Despite his prodigious accomplishments, Doc Kronos was uncomfortable in the spotlight. He was only here in this great ballroom tonight because Mayor Brett Van Sloan was a good man and one of Doc's friends. Doc's presence at this fund-raising dinner for Van Sloan's reelection campaign guaranteed a big turnout and large donations.

From Doc's right a man whispered, "Why does the food at these things always taste like it was cooked a month ago?"

Doc turned to see the smiling face of Jonathon Crenshaw. He was a young man, with a thin, handsome face under a thick mane of jet-black hair. He radiated an aura of physical fitness, until one's gaze noticed the wheelchair in which he sat.

Crenshaw had been a criminologist, developing new investigative tools for the New York City police department, when a killer's bomb took away his legs and, more tragically, the lives of Crenshaw's wife and son. Though he could no longer walk, Crenshaw still consulted with the police department. He, too, was a close friend of the mayor. Both Doc and Crenshaw sat at the podium with the mayor and other notable individuals. The mayor was at the microphone telling his supporters the things he meant to accomplish in the next four years.

"The task of preparing a meal for such a large crowd is problematic and delicate," Doc said.

"Right," Crenshaw said with a smile. "What do you think is going on over there?"

Near the entrance to the ballroom, two police officers were struggling with a shabbily dressed man. A pretty young woman left the podium and approached the disturbance. Most of those in attendance had not noticed the problem at the back of the room.

As Doc watched, the woman - one of Mayor Van Sloan's assistants - talked to the officers and to the intruder. The man handed a package wrapped in brown paper to the woman and pointed at the podium. His meaning was obvious. The package was intended for the mayor. The young woman accepted the package and the cops politely removed the man from the room.

The young woman tore the paper from the package. The keen ears of Doc Kronos detected a small pop, like the sound of a photographic flash bulb, and the woman stared curiously at the contents of the package.

Then she screamed.

Everyone turned toward the sound. Even Mayor Van Sloan, who never met a microphone he didn't like, stopped speaking.

Doc stood and quickly moved to the microphone. He had already seen the small red eruptions rise on the woman's face and hands. "Move away from the door," the golden man said. He didn't shout, yet his voice seemed more amplified than the excited and loud mayor's had been. "Officers, move these people back."

But the officers were staring at their own hands. And as Doc and the crowd watched, all three of the people at the door exploded into jets of crimson flame.

Those nearest the catastrophe tried to run toward the podium. People were being trampled.

The three burning people collapsed to the floor. The flames quickly died down and were extinguished, leaving charred corpses.

"My God, David," Mayor Van Sloan said. "What's happening?" Doc Kronos didn't answer. He was watching the panicked guests who had been closest to the flaming woman and the two cops. As far as he could see no one else showed signs of the skin eruptions, much less the flames.

He leaned in to the microphone and said, "This is Doc Kronos. The emergency is over. You are all safe now." It took a moment, but the golden man's words and calm voice did the work. Soon, guests were helping others up from the floor. A crowd gathered near the corpses, though no one dared get close.

Van Sloan grabbed Doc by the arm. "What was it, David?" The mayor was pale. Doc knew the man had thought of the assistant as his own daughter.

Just then, a beeping sounded from the golden man's jacket. Doc removed a device that was the size and shape of a package of cigarettes. A red light was flashing on the top of the device.

"I have to go," Doc said to Van Sloan. "I'll be in touch as quickly as I can. Crenshaw can examine -"

Doc turned to where the crippled scientist had sat. Crenshaw was gone.


At a signal from Jonathon Crenshaw, his valet had stepped from the side of the stage and wheeled the crippled man away, even as Kronos was trying to calm the frightened guests.

"Get me to the car, Taylor." Taylor steered the chair though a kitchen exit, to the long car parked at the back of the building. Once the man and chair had been loaded into the vehicle, Crenshaw ordered Taylor to drive to the front of the building.

Once there, Crenshaw saw two men in dark suits strolling casually from the front entrance. From the podium, he had spotted the men briefly outside the ballroom doors as the police struggled with the messenger. Their calm exit from such a tragedy only served to arouse Crenshaw's suspicions.

"Draw up next to them," he told Taylor. As the big car came close to the men, Crenshaw lowered his window. "Hold up. I need to talk to you."

The nearest of the two men drew a revolver from his pocket and fired at Crenshaw. At the first sight of the weapon, the crippled scientist fell back on the seat of the car and the bullet whizzed harmlessly over his head. He shoved himself upright with one powerful arm, while the other removed his automatic from the holster under his coat. He fired off a round that caught the shooter just above the left eye. As the man fell, his companion dived into a waiting car and sped away.

Crenshaw leaned from the window and stared at the dead man. "Taylor, do you see that?"

The valet had rolled down his own window. "It's some kind of tattoo on his wrist, Captain. An eye, maybe?"

"Yes," Crenshaw said. "A crimson eye."

The other man's escape vehicle was disappearing in the distance.

"Get after him, Taylor." As the car roared away from the curb, Crenshaw opened a compartment under the seat next to him.

It was time for The Reaper to take over.


Doc Kronos ran from the building just in time to see the long black car race away. He recognized it as one of Jonathon Crenshaw's vehicles. He hesitated briefly to examine the dead man. Doc had also seen this one and his companion outside the ballroom. It was something he would consult Crenshaw about, but now he had to get back to his headquarters.

Once he reached his car he activated the special radio in the dash and started driving as the set's tubes warmed up. Once the radio was working, he keyed the microphone.

"Brick? Gunny? What's going on?"

There was no answer.

Doc made good time in the late evening traffic. Within minutes he pulled his sedan in front of his building. As he approached the entrance he saw immediately that the doors were sealed. Through the glass he witnessed two strangely garbed figures moving through the lobby.

Doc heard a sound from behind him and he dropped to the sidewalk as the flat crack of an automatic echoed among the skyscrapers. A bullet flattened against the protective glass of the door he had been looking through. Doc rolled to his left and sprang to his feet, simultaneously throwing a small object he had removed from his jacket. A cloud of black smoke poured from the tiny grenade. Doc dropped again and rolled to his right, just as the gunman blindly fired at the space the golden man had just vacated. Doc waded into the smoke cloud, got hold of the man's wrist. Something snapped and the gun clattered to the sidewalk. Doc's fist found the thug's chin and the man fell next to his weapon.

Doc waded out of the black fog and saw another man sprinting toward a car. Pouring on the speed, Doc nearly caught up with the fleeing man just as he got to the vehicle. The fellow reached through the car's open window and withdrew an object.

He flung the thing at Doc.

The golden man had enough time to recognize it as a small vial, as might be used to store chemicals. He cupped his hand as the vial reached him. Spinning quickly, Doc used the momentum of the small object to release it back toward the man without it breaking. It stuck the man in the chest and exploded in a shower of glass.

The man screamed, not because he had been cut, but due to the red sores that had blossomed on his skin like the bites of angry insects. Before Doc's eyes, the sores burst into flames and consumed the man.

Within seconds, the man was nothing more than a blackened skeleton. Doc waited a few seconds and approached the body. The skin was nearly gone, save for a small spot on the right wrist of the corpse. Doc saw what appeared to be a small tattoo.

It looked like a crimson eye.


Thursday, June 15, 2006

Mad Reign of the Plague Master

This is really going to mainly appeal to fans of pulp fiction. As I mentioned a couple of entries below, Pulp Nocturne died before it began. All of us had completed some or all of our serials, though. I’d like to share part of mine. I hope you enjoy it for what it’s meant to be: a rip-snortin’ adventure in the spirit of the old pulps.

Mad Reign of the Plague Master
By Mark Justice

The two greatest heroes of the 1930s must put their differences aside to prevent America's greatest city – and then the country – from falling before the most insidious evil science has ever created.

Chapter 1.1

The Burning Men

Jace Kendall did not know he was about to die.

If you had told him of his impending demise - mere minutes away - and if you could convince him of the truthfulness of your prediction, Jace Kendall might have shrugged and accepted his fate.

Kendall had not lived what most would call a happy life.

That was why he accepted the stranger's offer of fifty dollars to deliver the package. Fifty bucks, plus cab fare, to take him from Hell's Kitchen to Fifth Avenue, between 33rd and 34th Streets, to the tallest building in the world.

Fifty bucks would buy him some fine food and a lot of what his friend Ernie called "the juice of forgetfulness".

Jace had a lot to forget. But no matter how many pints he drank, his sleep was always troubled with the dreams of war: muddy trenches, exploding bodies and the yellow gas that killed so many. It had been almost twenty years, yet every night he was back on those French fields, fighting, hiding and praying.

The day he had shipped home had been the happiest of his life, back in Brooklyn with Nellie and his folks. His whole life seemed a path filled with unlimited possibilities.

Until the dreams started. The dreams led to the drinking, which made it harder to hold on to a job and harder to hold on to his family. Eventually Nellie took the twins north to live with her sister.

By then, the crash had come and gone, leaving soup lines and hopelessness in its wake. Jace no longer had a reason to crawl out of the bottle, so he stayed.

And when the man in the dark sedan gave him the cash and the package he saw no reason to pass it up.

It was a simple job. All he had to do was deliver the little box to Doc Kronos.

Jace may have been in a stupor for much of the past few years, but even he had heard of Kronos, the surgeon, inventor and wealthy adventurer. They said he and his aides devoted their lives to helping those in trouble. Jace knew of a few flophouses he'd like to show to Kronos.

But that didn't seem likely. The man in the sedan said Kronos wouldn't be at the building this night. When Jace asked the man how he'd come by the information, the man suggested that there were other, less inquisitive men who would appreciate fifty bucks. So Jace shut up and took a cab downtown. The man in the sedan said Jace would be watched the whole way, and if he stopped to get a bottle, he would regret it. As much as he needed a drink, Jace gritted his teeth and carried out his task.

Now, in the last moments of his life, Jace Kendall paused to admire the building. He had seen it many times, though this would be the first time he had ever entered the structure. Standing on the sidewalk, with his neck craned upward, he could not see the top of the building. He knew there was a dirigible mooring mast on the roof. He had read that somewhere. Jace wondered what it would be like to climb aboard one of those airships and just drift off to a new life in a distant land, far from dreams of death and the cloying scent of failure.

He sighed and pushed open the door.

The lobby was massive. It was decorated with gold columns and a marble floor. Behind a small desk, a man in a clean, starched uniform sat reading a detective story magazine.

Jace stood in front of the desk until the guard looked up. "May I help you?" If the man was surprised at seeing a bum like Jace stroll into this classy place on a Saturday night, he didn't show it.

"Doc Kronos," Jace said. He was getting pretty dry. His voice rasped a bit. He held up the small box. It was wrapped in brown paper and tied with string. The package shook slightly, thanks to the tremor in his hand.

"The intercom on the wall," the guard said, nodding toward the east corner of the lobby before returning to his magazine.

The intercom was set in the center of a square section of gold metal next to an elevator. It caused Jace Kendall to recall something else about Kronos. He was sometimes called The Golden Man by the papers, both because of the color of his skin and hair, as well as the source of his great wealth, which was rumored to come from a civilization hidden deep in an inactive volcano in some remote part of the world. Jace hardly believed the stories - his brain wasn't that far gone. But it did make a good yarn.

The intercom seemed to be a pretty simple affair. There was a speaker set into the center of the square and a button beneath. He could see nothing that indicated a connection with Doc Kronos. Jace cleared his throat and pressed the button.

After a few seconds a voice from the speaker said, "Yeah?" It was a rough voice, one that sounded like the owner of the throat was gargling gravel. It was out of place in a building like this.

"Uh, I have a package for Doc Kronos," Jace said.

"Stay right there," the gravelly voice said. "I'll be right down."

Almost immediately he heard the elevator hum to life. Jace knew that Kronos had a number of associates, men who had been with the golden adventurer since the Great War. Perhaps the gravel-voiced man would give him a nice tip for delivering the package. No one had to know that Jace was paid by two people tonight.

Suddenly the tremors in his hands returned. His last drink had been hours ago and he was paying the price.

In the last seconds of his life, Jace wondered how different things might have been had he caught a couple of decent breaks, how nice it would be if Nellie and the girls were still with him.

Then the tremors became so bad he couldn't hold on to the box.

It landed on the marble floor and Jace heard the sound of breaking glass.

In his life, William Gunnerson had been a professional boxer, soldier and chemist. When he joined up with Doc Kronos's organization, it was with the anticipation of excitement and adventure. There had been plenty of that, but lately it seemed like he was sitting around playing cards more than slamming his huge fists into heads. So when he answered the delivery call, he merely viewed it as a break in his monotonous routine.

When the doors opened on the lobby, the last thing Gunny expected to see was a flaming man.

Gunny barely registered that the fellow looked like a derelict. His shoes and pants were nearly worn out and his jacket was torn.

It was the flames that held the big man's attention. Instead of consuming the bum's body, they sprouted red and angry in dozens of locations along his hands and face. As Gunny watched, he saw pustules on the man's skin swell up and explode with red fire.

"Damnation," he muttered.

At that moment, the individual flames joined together in a crimson conflagration that quickly consumed the screaming man.

It was another scream that finally drew Gunny's notice away from the burning derelict. Near the front door of the lobby, the night clerk was beating at his face and arms. In an instant he, too, was covered by a scarlet blaze.

The second victim spurred Gunny into action. He stepped back into the elevator and pushed a button. The door hissed closed. Gunny opened a cabinet on the wall of the cab and extracted a small tube. This had a tiny mouthpiece, which he immediately clasped between his lips. As he breathed through the compact, powerful oxygen mask he had helped Doc Kronos develop, Gunny pulled open a viewing hatch in the elevator's door.

By now, the night clerk was covered by the crimson flames. Gunny was pretty sure the man's name was Charlie. Charlie had been a big Dodgers fan.

The derelict was a smoldering corpse on the lobby floor.

Where a normal elevator car would have a row of buttons for choosing a floor, this special cage, used only by Doc Kronos and crew, was equipped with a control panel that resembled the cockpit controls in an airplane. Gunny slammed the side of one big hand against a button. In a second, a thin squeaky voice said, "What is it, pally? Package too big for you to lift?"

Gummy mumbled something before he realized he was still wearing the oxygen mask. He ripped it from his mouth and said, "Brick! Condition X. Lock it down."

"Right," the voice said, all playfulness vanished.

Gunny reinserted the oxygen mask, knowing that upstairs Aloysius Desmond McMurphy - "Brick" to his friends - was rushing to another control panel, one with which the short and homely fellow could seal all entrances to the building. Brick, one of the world's greatest mechanical engineers, had constructed the system himself. Doc Kronos had made many enemies in his career, and extraordinary measures had to be taken to ensure the safety of the people who worked around him.

Unfortunately for Charlie the clerk and the poor stiff on the floor, those measures were put into effect too late.

Even in the elevator cab Gunny could hear the sound of the mechanisms sliding into place around the doors and windows. In another moment the radio squalled and Brick's squeaky voice said, "Okay, now what happened?"

"Two guys in the lobby burst into flames," Gunny said, after removing the mask again. "One of them was Charlie."

"Aw, no," Brick said.

"It was something funny, Brick. They both had these strange boils on them that swelled until they exploded into fire."

"Incendiary pimples?" Brick said. "Brother, I want some of what you've been drinking."

"Just pull out the safety suits," Gunny said, the surge of excitement already coursing through his body. "I'm on my way up. And you better get hold of Doc."


Monday, June 12, 2006

Pod of Horror #16

You’re invited to our Pod of Horror Sweet Sixteen party. Joining in the celebration:

* Shocklines’ Matt Schwartz talks horror, what he’s looking forward to and what’s in his bathroom.

* Advice Demon Grim Rictus writes the songs that make the whole world sing.

* Reviewer Scott Bradley digs into Brian Keene’s THE CONQUEROR WORMS.

* And we have presents for you in The Tomb of Trivia, including THE RUTTING SEASON by Brian Keene and SINISTER PURPOSES by Gary Raisor.

Pod of Horror #16 is hosted by Mark Justice and David T. Wilbanks. Download it at I-Tunes or direct to your desktop here.

And be sure to drop by the Justice & Wilbanks message board.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Alas, Pulp Nocturne...

Pulp Nocturne was going to be a site featuring new serialized fiction in the spirit of the blood 'n' thunder pulps of yore. The lineup was Steven Shrewsbury, David T. Wilbanks, Walt Hicks and me.

Walt Hicks secured the domain, designed the pages and commissioned spectacular artwork from Billy Tackett. Fiction was produced. He sunk his own cash and time into this, and was fantastic to work with.

For a number of reasons Walt was unable to continue with the project. It was a cool idea and a labor of love, but, for the moment, PN appears to be dead.

The other guys had some great stories going. Shrews did a brutal, bloody sword and sorcery yarn. Walt had a SF adventure serial and Dave blew me away with his Burroughs-esque fantasy. I hope they all find a new home for their stories. I, for one, would love to see what happens next.

My own entry was a tribute to the fantastic 1930s adventures of Doc Savage and The Spider. I have a couple of ideas about what do do next with it. I may post the first chapter here.

Meanwhile, if there's a pulp-crazy webmaster out there, let me know.

Horror OTR

Hey, if you're one of those people I've bored to tears with sermons about how great a lot of Old Time Radio was, now you can decide for yourself. Datajunkie has listed sites where you can freely download mp3s of OTR, featuring the likes of Boris Karloff, Vincent Price and Peter Lorre. Check it out.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

But I Want Another Superhero In An Hour

For comic fans: if you're following 52, DC's weekly series filling in the gap betwen Infinite Crisis and the One Year Later stories, here's a piece of art from next week's #6, introducing writer Grant Morrison's The Great Ten, a Chinese Superhero Team.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Key Boy

Thanks to the WLGC Radio staff and Ashland, KY mayor Steve Gilmore. Yesterday I was surprised with an on-air celebration of my 22nd Anniversary at the radio station. I received the key to the city, which I'm proudly displaying above.

The mayor confirmed that the handle end can be used for opening beer bottles.

Seriously, it was an honor. And it continues to be a pleasure to work with such a great bunch of people.

UPDATE: The key to the city does open beer bottles. Really.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

X-Men 3

I just returned from seeing X-Men: The Last Stand. My review? Three stars out of four. It's a nearly perfect summer flick, with outstanding performances from Ian Mckellen, Hugh Jackman and Famke Janssen.

My only complaint is the dialogue, which in some places barely rises above the level of a Saturday morning cartoon. The producers were under orders to crank this one out fast and it shows in the script.

That nitpick aside, it was tons of fun and there were some cool moments for long time X-Men fans.

If you go to see it, remember to stay for the scene after the credits.

How Cool Is My Wife?

Look what she just bought for me.

First, from my Bruce Lee/Kung Fu obsessed 70s childhood:

I loved Iron Fist comics.

But not as much as I loved these guys:

Ah, the Marvel Monsters.

How I wish I could take a time machine back to 1974 and tell my younger self that I would one day own a Tales of the Zombie action figure.

Young Mark would likely say, "Yeah, right. What happened to all your hair?"

Norma also got the Young Avengers action figure box set for me, but I didn't include that pic because I didn't want to geek you out.

Oops. Too late.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Wotta Week!

It started Sunday with the sale to Horror Garage, followed by Pod of Horror #15 and the book announcement.

On Tuesday I finished up another chunk of the sequel novel to Dead Earth: The Green Dawn and sent it to Dave. Then it was on to a short story.

Actually, two stories. I had an idea for a humorous story for Jeff Strand's anthology and I'd been trying to find the time to work on it. With the May 31 deadline looming, I knuckled down and finished "Agent of Death" Wednesday afternoon. I read it over. I liked it. But...was it funny enough?

I remembered another story I had started a while back about a group of pot smoking underachievers and the strange encounter they have on their way to break into the VFW. The only reason I originally didn't finish it was the uncertainty of where to submit a funny horror story. Still amped up from wrting "Agent of Death", I brought up the file and completed it.

Now I was stuck with two stories.

It was almost 9:00 p.m. (well past my weekday bed time), so I turned to my secret weapon.

"Honey," I asked my wife, "which one of these is funnier?"

While she read "Agent of Death", I paced the floor. After ten or fifteen minutes she came out and said, "That was really good."

Hey now. A really good from Norma is nearly gold medal caliber. It looked like we had a winner.

"Could you read the second one anyway?" I said.

She went back into the den. About two minutes later something happened. She laughed out loud. And then she did it again. And again.

She came out of the room and told me, "This is the one you're submitting."

So Jeff gets "The Losers vs Beelphegor". Now if he just thinks I'm as funny as my wife does...

Today the contracts came for DE:TGD from PS Publishing via Brother Wilbanks. He'd signed his copies, cashed the check and sent my half of the money. I'd asked for two forms of ID, but he apparently ignored the request.

I also got a nice gift from new POH reviewer Scott Bradley: The New Book Of Lists by David Wallechinsky and Amy Wallace, the same Amy Wallace who is Scott's Sweet Patootie. She even inscribed the book to me.

I remember the first BOL when it came out years ago, and this edition is just as entertaining. Norma was particularly fascinated by the list of Average Erect Penis Lengths For10 Species.

I’ll have to ask Scott about the research for that one.

Finally, I did a polish on a story that will be in Mythos Collector #8 later this year. I'll let you know when it's out. It's called "Pitter Patter" and it may be the closest I'll ever come to a Lovecraftian tale.

Now, it's my wonderful wife's birthday and there's cake to eat.

A Little Help

Gary Braunbeck -- a fine writer and even finer human being -- has some serious medical problems, which he discusses here.

He can use your prayers, if you believe in that sort of thing. Or even if you don't.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

New Reviews

My review of Mistress of the Dark by Sephera Giron is up over at Hellnotes.

Also, my review of Take The Long Way Home by Brian Keene just went live at Horror World, home of the Justice & Wilbanks message board.