Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Incredible Bulk VS Agents of S.H.E.M.P.

The carnage takes place in this week's Ashland Beacon. It's on page 2. You can read it here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tuesday Afternoon

First, my apologies to anyone who has received spam email from my AOL account.  No, I haven’t been hacked. I wish it was just something I could fix with a change of password. Actually, I–and around 1% of AOL customers– have been spoofed.

I always thought being part of the 1% would be more fun.

 A hacker stole contact lists from AOL accounts,  including accounts that have been inactive for years, and is using them to send out spam email from what is jiggered to appear as an AOL account. It doesn’t originate from my account and I can’t stop it. Apparently, neither can AOL, although they promise to do just that.

AOL’s help page suggests that account holders change their passwords. It won’t help with this spoofing, they tell us. I guess it’s supposed to be comforting.

If you want to read more about the situation, you can check out this article.

As with any email, if you don’t know the sender or there’s an oddly phrased message and a link, delete it without clicking on the link.


I’m in a Doc Savage frame of mind this week. I’ve plowed through two Will Murray novels–Horror in Gold and The Forgotten Realm–and I’m starting on a third, Phantom Lagoon. Two or three novels in a row from any genre are usually my limit before I have to turn to something else. I’ll let you know how it goes.



I’ve been dealing with a recurrence of the gout, and merry malady that I have enjoyed since 1991. This gout bout has not been as serious as the first go-around, and I hope I caught it early enough. Just as he did 23 years ago, the doc put me on Allopurinal, a drug which seems to work well on me. While gout limited some of my activity for a few days, it did force me to get some reading done, and things seem to be getting back to normal, so I hope to resume daily walks soon.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Holiday Greetings From The Easter Duck

Whether you celebrate the holiday or not, have a great day.

Monday, April 14, 2014

New Doc

This amazingly cool cover was recently unveiled at the Wild Adventures of Doc Savage Facebook page. The book isn't out yet, but since the Joe DeVito cover blew me away, I wanted to share it here.

I'll review it when it's released. As detailed here, I've become a fan of Will Murray's novels.

Oh, look, another 90s Doc is being re-released, too.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Innocence by Dean Koontz

I’ve been reading Dean Koontz for a lot of years, starting in my youth when I knew I wanted to be a writer. My local library had a book called Writing Popular Fiction by Dean R. Koontz (I believe the book was later released under the title Writing Bestselling Fiction , once Koontz was actually a bestseller). The author’s photo showed a long-haired young man with a mustache. Cool, I thought. Unlike most jobs, writing let you grow your hair as long as you liked.

I must have checked out that book 10 times while I was in high school, trying to memorize its secrets.

A few years later, when I was looking for another author to fill the gap between releases by my new favorite, Stephen King, I discovered the fiction of Koontz (I recall searching for his work after reading the non-fiction book, but Koontz’s science fiction novels were hard to find in this part of Kentucky).  I think the first Koontz I read was Whispers. After that, I was hooked. While Koontz didn’t seem to dig into his characters’s heads as deeply as King did, his plots were outstanding and the premise of each novel was imaginative and original. Since then, I’ve grabbed everything he’s released. That doesn’t mean I’ve loved every book, but even the least of them were enjoyable.

Over the years, Koontz has introduced more spirituality into his novels. I hope it isn’t too much of a spoiler to say that Innocence is his most overt expression of this.

Innocence concerns a boy named Addison, who must remain hidden from the world. If he’s spotted and someone looks at his face or into his eyes, that person tries to kill him. So Addison only goes out at night, and only with his face hidden. One night he meets a girl named Gwyneth, who can’t stand to be touched. They bond, and we’re off on another Koontzian adventure.

At times, the book’s pace slows down, but the ultimate revelation of Addison’s “condition” is quite unique and offers a payoff that makes up for any of the novel’s shortcomings.

There are a few unanswered question, though, and that’s unusual for a Koontz novel. Those include the presence of spooky marionettes and a confrontation with an archbishop, both of which almost read like plot threads that were meant to be expanded upon.

I’ll give Innocence a grade of a solid B. We’ll see what Koontz comes up with for The City, due out in July.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Batman Turns 75

Artist and producer Bruce Timm, who brought us Batman: The Animated Series, returns to the character with this short cartoon. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Evil Update

From today's walk, the evil Flatwoods tree is still bringing the creepy.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Still Stinky After All These Years

Check out the story of the human waste that still smells as fresh as when it was excreted in the 1300s.

Who knew 14th Century Denmark had a Taco Bell?

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Odd Thomas and Other Sunday Morning Musings

Dean Koontz, a writer I’ve enjoyed for nearly 30 years, has a series of books about a young fry cook named Odd Thomas. Odd can see the silent spirits of the dead, who linger on Earth due to unresolved issues. Those issues usually involve murder. Odd is aided in his mission by his girlfriend, Stormy. They have been a couple since childhood, when a card from a gypsy fortune telling machine revealed Odd and Stormy were destined to be together forever.

Koontz, like many writers, has not exactly hit the jackpot when his work has been adapted for movies and TV. Watchers 3, anyone? However, several months ago, Koontz praised the adaptation of Odd Thomas, written and directed by Stephen Sommers, the man behind the Brendan Fraser Mummy movies. The movie briefly appeared in theaters and was recently released to DVD and Blu-Ray. We just watched it and here are a few thoughts.

* Anton Yelchin, from Hearts in Atlantis and the guy who plays Chekov in the Star Trek reboot, is perfect as Odd. He manages to embody a mix of optimism, dread and a sense of heavy responsibility. Humor is a big part of Koontz’s Odd Thomas books, and Yelchin and Addison Timlin as Stormy, do a fine job delivering one liners and keeping the mood as light as needed.

* The plot of the novel has been compressed and changed to work as a film. At least there’s a nod to Elvis, who is a character in the book.

* At times, Odd Thomas has the look of a TV movie, due, I’m sure, to budget constraints. On the other hand, the effect are impressive, particularly the bodachs and a scene inside the house of Fungus Bob.

* The story has a lot of heart, and it stayed with me. There aren’t many days when I wake up thinking of the movie I watched the night before. In this case, I did.

All in all, it’s a solid representation of Koontz’s work, and I would recommend it for fans of the book.

We also watched Last Vegas, which has been predictably referred to as The Hangover for seniors. Four old friends go to Vegas for a bachelor party and hijinks ensue. The big takeaway? Michael Douglas looks more like his dad than ever. The performances are good, the script has some solid jokes and Mary Steenburgen can sing. Who knew? It’s was an enjoyable couple of hours. Definitely a rental, not an owner.

While writing this weekend, I realized what the title to the third Dead Sheriff book needed to be. For fans of the first book, I realize this news might be slightly ironic and perhaps even frustrating, since I haven’t finished writing the second book yet.

No one has been more disappointed than me at my lack of productivity. The last couple of years have been tumultuous and that’s all I’m inclined to say. I may be the only person on the Internet who doesn’t feel an obligation to share every personal detail of my life with the world, but I’ve never been one of the cool kids, so why start now?

The good news is that my writing is returning to something resembling a normal schedule.

And it feels good.

In addition to the next Dead Sheriff book (which involves masked vigilantes, cannibals and a vampire bordello, so, you know, booyah), I have several other projects in the works for this year and I’m anxious to see some results. Now it’s a party.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

The Guardians of the Kitty Cave

I woke up to this today. It's kind of interesting to me because I didn't leave the shoes there. They were next to the cave, not in front of it. I did see Sabrina rolling on my shoes last night, one of her favorite leisure activities. If Norma didn't move them, then Sabrina put a lot of effort into that arrangement. I hate to move them now.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

And One More Thing

After the death of a pet, so many friends have said to me, “Never again”, meaning they will never bring another animal into their lives because of the pain that comes at the end.

I understand. I understand, but I completely disagree.

Grief is the most devastating of emotions. Those of you who share your lives with animals already understand this. Those who don’t, or who don’t even like animals may as well stop reading now. This is not for you and you are not equipped to understand it.

At this point, we have said goodbye to several feline members of our family. For those who haven’t been through this, I’m sorry to inform you that it never gets easier. With Clark, 18 years of love and companionship created a bond that is tough to release. This is the most difficult loss we have faced.

While the last two years or so have been tough, and the past few weeks even more so, I would not give up one second of those 18 years to avoid the heartbreak at the end.

The pain is awful. But it’s fleeting. The memories of Clark’s life are powerful and positive, and something to be celebrated. We were lucky to have him in our family. One day–not today, but one day in the coming months–we’ll adopt another cat and we’ll honor Clark’s memory by providing a loving home for that new family member.

Endings are always hard. But the end will always be overshadowed by the life that preceded it.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014


Our cat Clark passed away yesterday at the age of 18. Yes, that’s a good long run for a cat, but you always want more.

He’d been sick for a couple of years, months marked by sharp declines followed by slow recoveries. Finally, it became clear that his suffering had worsened and he wasn’t going to get better.

We brought Clarky and his sister Lois home in November of 1995. We’d lost another cat, Precious, to leukemia a few weeks earlier. She’d come to us as an adult after being abused and abandoned by her previous owner. She had a lot of issues, which made us wish we had gotten to her when she was young so she could have been raised in a loving home. When we knew we needed to keep cats in our lives we found two beautiful kittens.

This seems ridiculous now, but when we adopted Clark we had never had a male cat and were concerned he might be mean. Instead, he turned out to be the sweetest, gentlest member of our family. He was happy and adventurous and curious, always anxious to be brushed or to offer his companionship for any and all naps. He assumed every visitor was there to see him and he proved to be a good little host for family gatherings and parties.

Clark–the real Clark–had been fading away for many months, so when I miss him now I realize that I have really been missing him for a long time.

Late last Friday night, he climbed up onto my lap, something he hadn’t done for at least two years, and for the next half hour or so, he cuddled next to me and purred. The next morning I told Norma that it felt like he was telling me goodbye. Cats, I have learned, are much wiser than we are, and over the years there have been many occasions that I felt Clark was taking care of us rather than the other way around.

I never believed we were his “owners”. I hate that term. If anyone was owned in this relationship, it was Norma and me. Clark wasn’t property. He was family. That’s why there’s an ache in my heart now.

(By the way, the photo above was take a couple of years ago by Clark’s incredible veterinarian, Dr. Ursula Nance.)