Monthly Archives: October 2012

31 Days of Spoooktacular: Happy Halloween

I’m drinking a beer called Vampire Slayer (brewed by Clown Shoes). This isn’t a review, I’m just letting you know that I have a dark, flavor rich beer and you should get some yourself.

No, really I’m just here to say, Happy Halloween. We’ve spent a lot of time together, you and I and it’s been a hell of a ride. There were conventions and philosophizing on fear and beer and apple picking and more philosophizing. And, now, it’s drawing to a close. Soon, people will be slapping pictures of hand-turkeys on the walls and throwing cornucopias everywhere and eating way too much food. The time of reveling in horror and monsters and goblins and scary things is drawing to a close.

I’m a little sad, but mostly relieved. I can talk about other things now. I can review beers that don’t taste like pumpkins. I can watch movies that aren’t just boobs, blood and bad guys. I can pontificate on politics or work or Sprint’s terrible service.

But, just one more time, I’m going to watch a horror movie, drink a Halloween themed-beer  and relax for the last night before….

 

 

NANOWRIMO.

 

See you tomorrow.

And have a Happy Halloween!

-D-

 

PS If you need some spooky fun, check this out. It’s an audio dramatization of my story, The Song and Dance Man. Thumbs up.

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31 Days of Spoooktacular: The Art of Making Monsters (In 9 Photographs)

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-D-

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31 Days of Spoooktacular: In the Path of the Storm

Storms do not scare me. They haven’t scared me in some twenty years. The thunder is so much noise and the lightning is avoidable. Hail is a problem, but only rarely and only when you’re outside. And, in the end, there’s not a lot you can do about it except button down and stay low.

When I was little, around 7 or 8, I was caught outside during a tornado. I don’t know if the tornado came anywhere near me, it could have been a mile away, because I was hiding up under an overpass, being the most scared I had been or ever would be. The only thing I clearly remember is the noise, just the deafening, all-over, unrelenting noise. It was big noise. Noise that didn’t sound like anything because there was too much to process. It was like being caught in the center of a tiger’s roar and I couldn’t think; there was just raw, undiluted panic.

And then the wind died down and the noise stopped and everything was fine again.

I’ve never been in a storm like that since. Nothing has topped it. That noise. I think if I ever heard that noise again, I would drop to the floor and curl into a ball and hope it would all go away.

But right now, Sandy is being quiet. She’s shaking the house, bringing down some tree branches, but she has no roar.

Bring it on.

-D-

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31 Days of Spoooktacular: The Little Things

During the Halloween season, people reach for the big scares: movies, haunted theme park rides, horror conventions, creepy costumes. And, I think, they neglect the little details that permeate our lives that are truly unsettling.

Take the following spam comment I got on one of my older entries:

“How should I tell him the bad news?He is respectful to his elders.What happened to you? Please fetch a chair from another room.Don’t forget to keep in touch.what a lovely little girl she is!what a lovely little girl she is!Follow me.Can I help you? Bob has always had a crush on Lucy.”

Spam is almost always nonsensical, but follows a thread of sanity. “I like entry. You should write more peanut allergy entry.” Mostly coherent, but on an entry in which I don’t mention allergies at all. That’s fine.

This one…this one makes no sense in the context of a comment. It just doesn’t fit. And I can’t help but try and put the comment into a context that makes sense.

She’s an older woman, in a room of white, floor, ceiling walls. She’s sitting on a cot, rocking back and forth, curled tightly in on herself. She doesn’t  stop talking, just a constant low murmur directed at no-one, her eyes drifting around the room in aimless directions. She’s worried, agitated.

“How should I tell him the bad news? He is respectful to his elders.” Rocking in time with the words, back and forth. She starts to cry. Crying with no sounds. “What happened to you?”, her hands reach up and clutch her thinning, grey hair. “Please…fetch a chair from the other room.” Tears run down in her face leaving bright tracks under fluorescent lights. “Don’t forget to keep in touch.”

Her tone changes. Fear, trickling into her tone, her breathing increases, becoming erratic.

“What a lovely little girl she is! What a lovely little girl she is!” Rocking back and forth, faster. The words a ward, a charm, spoken emphatically.

She stops rocking, her breathing back to normal in an instant, and turns to you.

“Can I help you?”

She smiles, revealing teeth too even and white to be anything but false.

“Bob always had a crush on Lucy”.

You hear footsteps behind you.

-D-

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31 Days of Spoooktacular: It Approaches

Halloween is loping forward at a dead run, though you have your back turned and you’re not aware of how close it is to pouncing on you. As always, I feel like I didn’t do enough Halloween stuff, that I did too much too early and burned out too fast.

But I’ve decided to let it go this year.

There’s only so much you can do to celebrate and when you start thinking, “I haven’t celebrated enough”, then it’s time to step away, because you’ve made it Not Fun.

And you’re going to have a bad time.

So, in the interest of taking a step back, we’re going to keep this brief. Sit back, relax, throw on a horror movie (or not), drink a pumpkin ale or just a regular Sam Adams Boston Lager and entertain yourself tonight.

I’m going to relax in bed with a lager, read some of The Stand and pass out.

-D-

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31 Days of Spoooktacular: Factory Built Haunted Houses

I have never really wanted to go into one of those haunted houses that pop up this time of year. You know the ones; they advertise every five seconds on TV between September 1st and October 31st, the commercials always show screaming frat boys, and there are a lot of pumpkin graphics while the guy who also announces for local monster truck shows does the voice-over.

The idea of them, their very foundation, doesn’t appeal to me. I can’t imagine anything less scary than a large group of people being herded through a maze while teenagers with masks on jump out and scare you.

My idea for a similar attraction is the following: you and a friend (no more than one or two others) drive out into the middle of nowhere, where a house sits, boarded up and dilapidated. There is no festival atmosphere. This is no party. Just a house.

There is no pre-planned path. You explore at will on the surrounding property and in the house itself. The staff lie in wait within.

What happens is determined by a survey you filled out beforehand cataloging your worst fears. Scared of dogs? There will be dogs. Scared of Leatherface? He’ll be there. Your fears will be manifest.

The experience ends when you want it to, although, if done properly, you’ll want to end it quickly.

THAT appeals to me. That is what I want. Now someone just needs to make it for me.

-D-

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31 Days of Spoooktacular: Sweet Dreams Are Made of These

When I was younger, I used to have nightmares on occasion; terrible things that woke me up in the middle of the night, sweating and shaken. I once woke up to pitch black and I could have sworn that I heard someone whisper, “I’m going to kill you”.

There were a couple of uneasy moments while I tried to convince myself that the voice wasn’t real.

I’ve woken up once or twice feeling like I’ve been crying.

But here’s the paradox, the tricky little bit that I throw in to make my life more interesting: I like these dreams. I wish I had more of them. I revel in them.

I hate them while I’m having them. Even while sleeping, I can feel my heart racing and the fear and the anxiety spiking. But after the fact, when I’m awake and cognizant of the fact that it was all just a dream, I’m happy.

I’m happy in the way I am after I read a scary book or movie. I enjoy being scared. I enjoy the heart pounding, the sickening feeling pulling at your gut. But I so rarely feel scared when I watch a movie or read a book anymore. The only place that I can be afraid now, is in my dreams.

Barring being in a car accident or attacked by bears or mugged, I mean.

Because…the fear in my dreams is always of something…incomprehensible. Some twist in reality, some bend in how the world works, something terrible that has worked itself into our world. The physics are all wrong, the geometry at awkward angles. The world in my dreams is a world where voices threaten from the walls and demons take the forms of dogs and men in wheelchairs and the sky is lit by a black cinder and the oceans hide ships from other worlds and the landscape is covered in shifting, orange growths.

It’s a world where anything is possible and it is so terrifying and so real and I always want to go back.

But now…now the dreams are fewer and further between and the nightmares are even more rare. They are dreams of mundane banality, where anything could happen, but nothing ever does.

As the real world creeps more and more into my dreams, I strive to push it back and out and block its egress and I think that I need to return to my fiction for that to happen again, that my dreams and my imagination are inexorably linked and that each inform the other.

It’s long past due to go back.

-D-

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31 Days of Spoooktacular: The Gauntlet

Way back in the beginning, you may recall that I said that 31 Days of Spoooktacular was part of how I planned to force writing to become a habit for me. Writing has always been something I do sporadically, intermittently and with no true pattern. Even over the course of this year, where I’ve given myself the goal of writing ten entries a month, which I have done so far, I don’t evenly space those entries throughout the month. Usually they’re all shoved in at the end of the month and then I go on another, three week long sabbatical.

But with 31 Days of Spoooktacular, you get one entry a day, every day, for 31 days. And that’s great for me and great for you and everyone is happy, except for people who aren’t so interested in me writing about horror day in and day out. But, if you remember, I said that in order to successfully form a habit, you have to do it for around 70 days. I need to continue to write every day for another 30 days (and some change) before it becomes rigidly locked in as something I just do as an impulse.

It just so happens that there’s an event for the entire month of November that dovetails so nicely with my needs. That’s right, I’m doing NANOWRIMO. Again. But this time, I’m picking up that gauntlet and I am slapping NANOWRIMO in the face with it. I am going to write a 50,000 word novel and then some. The way I see it, I’ve been in training for NANOWRIMO this whole month, a light workout to get me into shape for what’s to come.

And by the end of it, I’ll be the better for it, I think. I’ll have mastered a skill that has eluded me almost my whole life; the ability to stick with something through to the very end. I’ll work on a project, sometimes very close to the ending point and then just sputter out, within spitting distance of the finish line.

But not this year. I can feel it. I have the idea that I want to write about. I have the tools to write it. And here, on October 24th, I think I’ve managed to prove that I have the ability to sit down in front of the computer everyday and put words to screen and keep going long after the point in which I should have stopped.

I have never written a novel, though I have tried. For me, just finishing one, even it’s terrible, will be a triumph of sorts. I’m looking forward to the challenge.

31 Days of Spoooktacular, for all of it’s goofiness and beer tasting and horror conventions, is just the beginning.

-D-

PS Check out my profile here and cheer me on all next month. Or not. It’s fine.

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31 Days of Spoooktacular: Masks

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Masks are scary. And not just masks of scary aliens or wolves or demons. I know for a fact that there are people who find the above mask creepy, even though there is nothing inherently creepy about it. There’s no blood or fangs. There’s nothing sinister about it. It represents no gender, race or deformity. It is a blank form.

And yet, this mask elicits uneasiness. If you don’t think this is scary, think about Michael Myer’s mask. It is a white, featureless face. Or think about Jason’s mask. It’s just a hockey mask. Before Friday the 13th Part III, people used to wear it as protective equipment. Now you can’t see that particular mask without immediately thinking of a machete wielding psychopath.

So many of our current monsters wear masks, from gas masks to hockey masks to ghostface masks. The blank, expressionless face is inherently frightening to us. I’m not going wax philosophical and psychological about why I think this is. It’s a gut feeling and gut feelings don’t need much analysis. It’s the return of that base fear, the one that drives all fears; our fear of the unknown.

We derive so much information from the face: age, gender, race, culture (piercings? tattoos? make-up?), emotions, illness. The face is our go-to point for knowing a person. The faceless mask, the one that’s not just a monster’s visage, is inherently creepy because it is still human, undeniably, incontrovertibly, but still so alien. There is no information to be gleaned. There is nothing to tell you about the person behind the face. Unlike a werewolf face, which just howls evil, the faceless mask could be…anything. It is up to the wearer to interpret how to portray this face.

If I did want to go deeper, and started laying some psychology on the table, I’d say that the faceless mask shows us what we already know: When we get down to it, a person’s face doesn’t tell us anything about who they, no matter how many times we comment on someone who has a kind face or has devilish features or a sinister countenance or a gentle look. A person does not wear their souls on their face, no matter how much we wish they did.

That mask, the blank one with no clues of the humanity beyond it, reminds us, all too much, of the fact that the stranger next door could be anyone behind that smile and that wave.

That they’re all masks.

-D-

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October 23, 2012 · 8:45 pm

31 Days of Spoooktacular: Do You Fear What I Fear?

If I were to catalog the myriad fears and superstitions that bind me, we would be here the rest of the night and you would be feeling increasingly sorry for me. They range from the mild, but compelling (numbers, silver, threes) to the more provoking, but manageable (don’t touch, please don’t touch, and now there’s germs) to the almost paralyzing (Emily’s late and almost certainly dead, that food is too old, this person is angry and I have to make them UN-angry). And, if you didn’t know it, three is good. Three threes are better and three three threes are the best, hence 27 is the best  number.

They’re binding because they prevent. It’s not like being scared of a movie. That just prevents you from watching the rest of the movie. And, with most horror movies, you’re probably better off not watching the whole thing anyway.

But a lot of those fears hamper things like a job or a relationship, or they do when they start to get out of control. It’s taken years of throwing myself repeatedly into situations I do not like, a dislike from the depth of me, before I could actually function and even, on occasion, thrive in those same situations.

Working retail in an urban environment, for example, has set off pretty much everyone of my major anxieties at some point. I get touched by dirty angry people and all I really want to do is run into the nearest bathroom and wash my hands for ten minutes. But I have to stay there. Not because I’m trying to be brave, but because this is my job and I’m getting paid to do it, so I don’t have an alternative.

The only way I know to deal with being scared of something is to hunch into a little ball and march forward and hope that my instinctual desire to run is, for once, not the correct impulse. Dealing with it, moving forward, always forward, is the only way to keep from getting stuck, from being bound by a thousand intertwining threads, a spider’s web of nervous anxiety that only builds up if I stay still.

366 is a good number of words.

-D-

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