Thursday, November 30, 2006

Bare Bone #9

"The Whispered Sighs of Grateful Souls", a story I wrote for Horror World a few years ago (back when Nanci actually published small fry like me), is in the new issue of Bare Bone. I haven't actually seen the issue yet, but it's listed at and Amazon, so it must be out.

It's one of my favorite pieces. In it, I tried to pay tribute to the amazing Ray Bradbury, one of my heroes.

Here's the lineup:

  • Conner's Menagerie • Benjamin X. Wretlind
  • Into the Amniotic Sky • Tim Emswiler
  • Shame on Me • Gary Fry
  • Dogfight • Andrew Humphrey
  • Mistaken Memory • Mark Howard Jones
  • Elderly Lady, Lives Alone • Paul Finch
  • Muscle Car • Kurt Newton and L.L. Soares
  • Never Let Go • Mitch Maraude
  • Three Hammers • Albie
  • And Still Insists He Sees the Ghosts • Jeff Somers
  • The Third Horseman • Chris Ringler
  • Chokecherryblack • Alyssa Sturgill
  • Dana • Colette Phair
  • Razor Jack • Tim Curran
  • The Whispered Sighs of Grateful Souls • Mark Justice
  • Laughter on the Rain • C.J. Henderson
  • Crying Tears of Blood, Sweet Like Honey • James Chambers
  • Blood Memory • Joy Marchand
  • Night Nurse • K.S. Hardy
  • The Anorexic Hatches God • Cameron Pierce
  • Salma Gundi • Christopher Danaher
  • The Price of Shoes • Jeffrey A. Stadt
  • disposable poet • Curtis
  • Aerie • James S. Dorr
  • After the Cosmologist's Death • John Hayes
  • Machine Gun/Latte • Amy Grech
  • Sometimes • Dustin LaValley
  • Conspiracy • Lida Broadhurst

What If Stan Lee and Jack Chick Teamed Up?

For most of my life I've been a Marvel comics fan, and I've found those ubiquitous Jack Chick religious tracts far more entertaining than I probably should. So this blew my mind. It's the funniest thing I've seen in a while.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

For the Locals: Be Very Afraid

Ah, Teddy Bear and his smokes. It fills my heart with holiday spirit. Thanks to Charlene Tackett for her design magic.

Listen Up

Shane Staley at Delirium Books invited me to read some stories for his site. The first one is up now, a very disturbing story by Kurt Newton called "The House Spider". If you'd like to listen to it, click here.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

It's a little past 7:30. I'm sitting at my desk, sipping coffee. I've read Get Fuzzy, Doonesbury and The Dinette Set, so I'm ready to start my day.

The turkey is done. Norma has also made a red velvet cake, two pumpkins pies and a pecan pie, gravy, cranberry relish and cornbread for today's dressing. In a bit I'll be peeling about ten pounds of spuds while the Macy's parade is on and Norma will make the dressing, broccoli casserole and her signature dish, one that I had never eaten before I met her and one that has now become the most requested side dish by our family and friends, rice dressing.

I'll eat too much and laugh a lot with our extended family. Then, after everyone's gone home and Norma's in bed, I'll heat up a plate of leftovers and watch some more Veronica Mars. Norma bought the season one box set for me Tuesday and so far I've zipped through nine episodes. The theme song by The Dandy Warhols is stuck in my head.

What else is going on?

I sold a short story yesterday. It's a sale I'm very happy about. I'll tell you about it when the contract is signed.

The Secret Agent X book with my novelette "The Cult of the Walking Dead" is now available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. That may make it a little more comfortable for some to order online. It's a fun book, full of the old blood 'n' thunder pulp excitement. You could find worst ways to spend your leisure time. Thanks to Ron Fortier for the links.

Meantime, have a great holiday. I hope you get to spend the day with people you enjoy.

Classic Comic Cover of the Day 11/23/06

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Pod of Horror #24

The 24th episode of Pod of Horror is here and oozing with infected goodness!

* John Urbancik talks writing and Australia.

* Scott Bradley super-sizes his reviews.

* Grim Rictus tell us how to *really* enjoy a Scientology wedding.

* Have we discovered Chinese Dracula’s identity at last?

* Dave’s got a little poop.

* Win Ray Garton, Ed Lee and Simon Clark in The Tomb of Trivia (or their books, anyway).

* Vince Liaguno tells us about THE LITERARY SIX and how to love Laura Branigan.

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

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

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Hundred-Dollar Baby by Robert B. Parker

I picked up the new Spenser novel today at the library. I been doing that a lot lately, going to the library. Partly because I spend too much on books, partly because I ‘m running out of room in my house. I’ll eventually buy Hundred-Dollar Baby, since I have the other Spensers, but for now I just wanted to read it.

When I asked for it, the librarian told me the only copy that wasn’t checked out was the large print edition

No problem, I told her.

So I got it home and cracked the cover.

Holy crap.

This is some big ass print.

Before my cataract surgery last fall, I could easily read without my glasses. When you have the lenses in your eyes replaced, you have to make a choice: distance vision or close up. I chose distance. Now, for the first time in my life, I can drive or watch TV without glasses. But to read I have to have the specs on my nose.

Not with this friggin’ book. I can read it without glasses. In fact, I’m thinking of asking my wife to sit on the other side of the room and hold it up.

I think I could read this in the dark.

I’m pretty sure if I stepped outside and held it open to the sky, some airline passenger would go, “Hey, that must be the new Parker novel.” In fact, if I had this book outside back in ‘69, Neil Armstrong’s first words might have been different.

Big ass print.

In fact, more than a few minutes of looking at it gives me a headache. This will be the first Spenser novel I haven’t read in a single day.

But is that going to stop me from reading one of my favorite authors?

What do you think?

Classic Comic Covers of the Day 11/16/06

Obviously this isn't going to be a daily feature. Catch as can, most likely.

When I was a kid, I was fascinated by the Marvel Westerns of the 60s and 70s, with their weird fusing of western tropes with superheroics.

Back then, they were a curiosity, something I really didn't pursue for a basic reason unique to kid-dom: my dad was always making me watch westerns. Therefore, I had no choice but to reject them.

Kinda stupid, I know, but there you are.

Now, due to nostalgia and maybe something else I don't quite understand, I've been very attracted to western books, movies and comics over last couple of years.

I wish Marvel would devote one of their Essentials volumes to some Kid Colt or The Two-Gun Kid. I've read my old copies until they're falling apart.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Harlan Coben

In the last few weeks I’ve read three of Harlan Coben’s novels about athlete-turned-sports agent-turned-detective Myron Bolitar, and I have a new entry on my list of favorite writers.

Finding an author you’ve never read, one that you end up really liking, and then realizing he or she has a hefty backlist of work for you to dive into...well, it’s one of the best feelings I know.

Coben has a simple, clear, unobtrusive style. Other than an occasional missed metaphor or a train wreck of a simile, the ride is always smooth and quick. He mixes in a dash of humor as needed, and Coben has the ability to describe violence in a neutral, non-gratuitous tone, a must for PI novels.

I haven’t tried his stand-alone novels yet. I have a couple of those on the pile.

It’s going to be a busy few weeks of catching up on Coben.

Classic Comic Cover of the Day 11/12/06

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Fight the Menace

It's Dennis the Menace merged with The Fight Club. Get more here.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Enough With the Politics!

We now interrupt the political rants to display the lovely Kristen Bell, star of Veronica Mars, Tuesdays at 9 eastern, 8 central on the CW network.

Thank you.

Bye-Bye Rummy

It's shocking -- shocking, I tells ya -- to think a president would mislead the people, but apparently when President Bush was assuring us last week that he would stand by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for the longhaul, he was actively seeking his replacement.

I'm no political genius, so somebody help me out here. Bush saved the Rumsfeld announcement for the day after the election. Wouldn't it have helped his fellow Republicans and demonstrated that, yes, he does listen to the people and his own party, by canning Rummy last week?

Or maybe he thought it would seem a little less like bowing to political pressure if he threw Rummy under the bus a few hours after the election.

Only in Washington.

Regardless of the motivation, I'm not complaining. We need a little less arrogance and a fresh pair of eyes in that position. As I mentioned in a comment below I think change can be very good. From time to time a shake up is needed. Obviously I'm not alone in feeling this way.

There's one thing I hope comes from this government overhaul.

I've always admired John McCain for his independence and his willingness to take unpopular positions. He always struck me as a man of strong convictions, some I disagreed with, naturally. However he seemed to be a rational, clear-thinking head in an increasingly partisan system. McCain regularly disagreed with the president (whether it was Clinton or Bush) and repeatedly admonished the special interests who were trying to unduly influence the direction of the country, particulary the religious right.

I was hugely disappointed earlier this year to see McCain sucking up to the president and the smug Jerry Falwell, a man who McCain had publicly taken to task on several occasions.

McCain obviously want to be president. And, just has obviously, he has reached the conclusion that he must modify his views to get the office.

After the results from yesterday's election, I hope McCain reevaluates his new direction.

If he returns to the McCain of old, he would make a very attractive presidential candidate.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Limiting the Damage

Paul Krugman writes in the New York Times:

"There are still some people urging Bush to change course. For example, a scathing editorial published Monday by The Military Times, which calls on Bush to fire Donald Rumsfeld, declares that "this is not about the midterm elections." But the editorial's authors surely know better than that. Bush won't fire Rumsfeld; he won't change strategy in Iraq; he won't change course at all, unless Congress forces him to.

At this point, nobody should have any illusions about Bush's character. To put it bluntly, he's an insecure bully who believes that owning up to a mistake, any mistake, would undermine his manhood - and who therefore lives in a dream world in which all of his policies are succeeding and all his officials are doing a heckuva job. Just last week he declared himself "pleased with the progress we're making" in Iraq.

In other words, he's the sort of man who should never have been put in a position of authority, let alone been given the kind of unquestioned power, free from normal checks and balances, that he was granted after 9/11. But he was, alas, given that power, as well as a prolonged free ride from much of the news media."

Read the full story here.


So Norma and I voted as soon as I got out of work today. Our polling place was busy. New signs were posted everywhere urging voters to not take more than two minutes in the booth.

I never saw a single voter take less than six or seven minutes. We were the youngest there, as usual. Noon to One must be senior hour.

I asked one of the precinct workers how the turn out had been. He said that despite the current surge in attendance, things had been light. Around 30%. He told me they would be lucky if the predicted 40% actually came out to vote.

I was stunned. I've proudly voted since I was 18, despite sometimes feeling I was choosing between Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers. I've always thought it was a privilege to take part in our unique democratic process -- and that's coming from me, the most cynical person I know.

So why are 60% of you staying home? Laziness? Fear that it will take time away from watching Judge Joe Brown? Dr. Phil didn't send you a telepathic message with instructions on how to vote?

I know it can't be bitter disillusionment, since no one is more cynical than moi, and I made it to the voting booth.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


Yesterday was a good day, a rare Saturday off, and a day I spent catching up on comics.

I get way too many comics and many of them end up stuffed in boxes unread. Yesterday, I was determined to make some progress in correcting that.

I started with Fables, the most entertaining and consistent book Vertigo is currently putting out.

Vertigo is the adult imprint of DC comics. Adult, in this instance, means mature subject and language. Originally a horror/fantasy line, Vertigo was founded with titles like Swamp Thing and Hellblazer. But it was a comic called Sandman, written by Neil Gaiman that brought the most success and attention to the imprint.

Sandman ended several years ago, although it remains in print, and various new iterations and spinoffs pop up every year.

The parameters of Vertigo have changed. Horror and fantasy remain the foundation of the line, but other genres like war, crime and western have flourished, and the variety is welcome.

Fables fall smack in the fantasy corner. It’s a simple idea, and one that’s used brilliantly.

All the characters from fairy tales and folklore are real, and many of them have escaped from their homelands because of the invasion forces of The Adversary. Centuries ago these refugees established a home in New York. It’s called Fabletown, a neighborhood where the human-looking characters live. Those Fables who aren’t humanoid, the talking animals, for instance, live upstate at a place called The Farm. The number one rule in Fabletown is to hide their true nature from us, the Mundanes or Mundys.

Nearly every character is someone you’ve heard of. Snow White, Old King Cole, Sinbad, Prince Charming, the Big Bad Wolf, Little Boy Blue, Jack (of Beanstalk fame), Cinderella, Pinocchio. Some are now law officers. Some are politicians. Others are criminals or spies or saboteurs.

As I said, it’s a simple idea, but a foundation that hundreds of stories can be hung upon. The latest issue is #54. The series has also been collected in several trade paperbacks and there have been some stand-alone graphic novels including the recent hardcover 1001 Nights of Snowfall.

There is also a spinoff series, Jack of Fables, which is up to issue #4.

Bill Willingham writes Fables and the art is by a variety of names, though Mark Buckingham does the lion’s share of the pencil lifting.

The characters in Fables are written as real people with all the hopes and jealousies and dreams and pettiness of us Mundys.

It’s a great ongoing work, one that should be viewed as a classic in the making.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Horror World Reviews

I have a couple of new reviews up this month at Horror World, including one of Douglas Clegg's WILD THINGS: FOUR TALES. Just go to the reviews page and scroll down. I'm there somewhere.

The Only Political Commercial I Like

After all the annoying, nasty, venomous, intelligence-destroying, innuendo-filled political ads I've been exposed to for the last six months, I was amazed to find one that I actually liked. Here it is (thanks to Rick Hautala for the link):

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Grammar: It’s Really Just a Guideline

Overheard in the breakfast buffet line on the cruise:

“Where at my crispy bacon?”