Saturday, October 22, 2016

Creepy Company

It's always good to see people making new friends, and the Sandy Level Creep seems to attract some mighty fine company. A while back, after minding the Axton Road all by his lonesome for several years, a very attractive and very horny little devil showed up to assist. When I passed by him this morning, he'd been joined by yet another happy chap, and just in time for Halloween!

I noticed a FOR SALE sign on the property — I do so hope this does not mean the end of the Sandy Level Creep. He and his buddies have given me many smiles in recent years, and I'd hate to see him move to new digs. Stick around, Sandy Level Creep (and friends)!

Friday, October 21, 2016

I Can Dare Myself

I was looking up some lyrics the other day, and on one online forum or another, I came upon some a singularly bemusing comment about a song I'm especially fond of — "By My Side," from Godspell. The spiritual message of the production aside, it really is a beautiful piece of music, with lyrics (written by original cast member Peggy Gordon, prior to the soundtrack being composed by Stephen Schwartz) that are not directly taken from Biblical narrative, like most of the rest of the production. The lyrics are not what I would call opaque — from my first listening as a teenager, it seemed pretty clear what they were about. But the comment in question came from an individual who believed that messages in lyrics (and, by extrapolation, one could conclude from literature in general) ought to be straightforward and easy to understand, rather than open to various interpretations.

I had to re-read the comment to make sure I hadn't misinterpreted it. Nope. And though the comments in the forum may have been many years old, I found it all too tempting to jump in and offer my two cents' worth. So, as my consolation, I'll offer my two cents here instead, if you've a mind to bear with me.

It is a creator not spelling out every detail, spurring the audience to engage its collective imagination, its intuitive senses, its powers of deduction, thus becoming an interactive player in the experience, that makes a work transcendent. Multidimensional. Not flat, even. Music, fiction, movies... it makes no never mind. In the realm of dark literature, T.E.D. Klein, in his collection Dark Gods, offers several tales that suggest he knows exactly what's happening and why — but it's up to the reader to fill in the blanks he intentionally leaves. If you've ever read a word of this blog or any of my posts on Facebook, Twitter, etc., you might infer that I'm a David Lynch fan. You would be correct. There are volumes of analyses of Lynch's work out there, and I've spent more time and energy than ought to be allowed by law watching, re-watching, reading about, and mentally wrestling with his films. (The prospect of a new incarnation of Twin Peaks is, to me, fucking orgasmic.)

No, I don't always want to have to work a puzzle when I'm reading or listening or watching something for pure enjoyment. But the idea that complex themes ought to be spelled out, that a work should leave little to naught left to the imagination, or that — God forbid — one might have to engage in critical analysis, draw individual conclusions, or deduce something altogether different than the next consumer, well... perhaps you can infer my opinion.

This attitude, this laziness, is symptomatic of a consumer base accustomed to being spoon fed every idea in miniscule, easy-to-digest doses via memes, click-bait headlines, and editorials masquerading as news. It's the heyday of short-attention-span theater. In the same vein as the original example of shallow thinking, I can't count how many times I've seen thoughtful, well-researched, fact-based editorials summarily dismissed — almost exclusively by adherents to a socially conservative school of thought — with this quip: "Too long, didn't read." My god, you dolts. You are our downfall.

As an author, I aspire to engage readers of superior intellect, those with keen powers of insight, those who might even say, "you dink, you have some ways to go, for your prose is shallow." Yeah, that can be harsh. But one doesn't grow without challenge. And if you're not daring to grow, you're stagnating, and if you're stagnating, you may be starting to reek. Let none of us do this thing.

I shall call the pebble Dare.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Getting the Boot

Team Two and a Half Men

Actually, we only got part of the boot. The geoart you see in the photo is in Wake County, NC, along the American Tobacco Trail. To get the coordinates for each individual cache in the boot print pattern, you must answer a question on the cache listing page about Wake County Parks. Once done, you hike out the trail to claim the caches. There are 40 caches in the pattern, and today, Rob "Robgso," Debbie "Cupdaisy," and Old Man Rodan headed out after a bunch of them. We picked up a dozen in the series, as well as a fair number of other caches along the trail. It was another damn near 80-degree day in October, so we got pretty warm out there, but at the end of it all, we'd put in about six miles, with numerous side trips and some backtracking (thanks to old people leaving their hiking sticks behind); logged 18 caches; and found things like jewel-shelled turtles, giant spiders, horses in pine trees, and pigs in lamp posts.

Most notably, on our journey, we engaged ourselves in a spirited discourse about whether a hissy fit or a conniption ranks higher in the hierarchy of tantrums. We fairly readily came to the conclusion that the conniption is certainly of higher caliber than the mere hissy fit, and our results were confirmed by a Google search, which indicated the question was actually settled about nine years ago. Well, sometimes there's something to be said for reinventing the wheel.

Our final destination before returning home was Carolina Brewery in Pittsboro, where we procured satisfying vittles and liquid refreshment. While I was driving us back, I told Rob that if I fell asleep to wake me up when we got home. Happily, he did this thing.
A very old tobacco barn out in the woods, not far off the trail
Sparkly sea turtle in the woods
L: Cupdaisy finds a butterfly; R: a long stretch of the American Tobacco Trail
Little bacons in a lightpole

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Shin Godzilla

Nope, I've not been so geeked about going to see a Godzilla movie at the theater since I was a kid. Yes, partly because there have been very few Godzilla movies to see at the theater since way back when, but the looks of Shin Godzilla hooked me from the get-go, and I must say I was thrilled to learn that the limited theatrical release in this country included Greensboro. However, for a time this evening, the universe appeared to be conspiring to prevent me getting to the show. Ms. Brugger and I headed out with time to spare, only to find that the main road through town had been shut down — possibly due to the President coming for a visit. Gee, thanks, Obama. Anyway, after a lot of fuming and realizing that we were going to be stuck in one spot, likely for the duration of the evening, we managed to turn around and take the long, long way around to the theater. We got there a few minutes late, but we hoped we might squeak in at the end of the trailers. Now, I'd bought advance tickets via Fandango, but as soon as we arrived, my phone locked up on me, requiring a restart. That done, when I pulled up the ticket on the Fandango app, it was marked as already used. Judas Priest, really? Really?

Long story short —success! — we made it just as the last trailer was running, and got the last two available seats in the jam-packed theater. The seats were actually good ones, near the center, close but not too close to the screen. Then... but of course.... there's the three-year-old kid behind us who yammered through the entire movie, his dullard parents not only not stifling him but egging him on. This, ladies and gentlemen, is why God invented babysitters.

All righty then. There be spoilers here.

Shin Godzilla opens, appropriately enough, with the distinctive footsteps, roars, and theme by Akira Ifukube from the original 1954 Godzilla. The early part of the narrative unfolds quickly, with the discovery of an abandoned boat near Tokyo Bay and a series of huge, steaming waterspouts. Then a section of tunnel under the bay collapses, leaving evidence that something alive — and big — may have caused the disaster. The prime minister (Ren Osugi) and various branches of government convene, discuss, plot, plan, and argue, doing everything but coming up with a viable solution to this most mystifying problem. Just as the bureaucratic wheels begin to grind, a gigantic, half-seen creature bearing ever-so-familiar dorsal fins begins making its way inland via the Tama River, causing massive property damage and loss of life.

The government is forced to switch gears, and attempts to determine whether the Self-Defense Force can be legally mobilized under these dire conditions. But the invading creature, caring not for human timetables and red tape, begins to mutate before our shocked onlookers' eyes — changing from an eel-like creature with gills to a crouching, bipedal, reptilian-looking beast that can walk on dry land, albeit with some difficulty. A half-hearted attack by the SDF only irritates the monster, but after a time it decides on its own to return to the ocean, leaving the government scrambling for a way to return life in the capital to normal with the least amount of economic turmoil.

Japan's Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Rando Yaguchi (Yutaka Takenouchi) is put in charge of a team to study the creature, and after analyzing its physiology, the team concludes that the monster feeds on fissionable materials — and that its body is, in part, a nuclear reactor. A special envoy from the US, Kayoko Ann Patterson (Satomi Ishihara), reveals that a certain professor named Goro Maki, in his study of radiation-based mutations had predicted the appearance of such a creature, but his theories had been discredited. He had named the creature Godzilla, based on a legend from Odo Island — his original home — and this is the name by which the authorities decide to call the monster.

Then — undergoing yet another mutation, the beast emerges from the ocean twice as big as before, bearing Godzilla's somewhat more traditional countenance. The SDF attacks it in earnest, with helicopters, cannons, missiles, tanks, and jets, but Godzilla, quite unstoppable, enters Tokyo and wreaks havoc. The government now enlists the aid of the American military, which initiates an aerial attack with B2 bombers. The first bomb strikes appear to injure the creature, but now, exhibiting previously unseen powers, Godzilla unleashes massive nuclear-powered emissions from both its mouth and its dorsal fins, destroying the bombers as well as a substantial portion of Metropolitan Tokyo — and killing the prime minister and his cabinet, who are attempting to flee the city via helicopter. However, this attack has drained Godzilla's energy, and it goes temporarily dormant so its body can recharge.

Yaguchi's team, using samples of Godzilla's blood and tissue left behind in the attack, as well as encrypted clues left by Professor Maki, determine that Godzilla may be slowed down and frozen by way of a special blood coagulant, which his team believes they can manufacture, given enough time. However, they are now in a race with the US government, who has decided that Godzilla must be destroyed via a thermonuclear blast before it continues its path of destruction, which they fear might reach the US itself. As the countdown for the nuclear strike begins, the government begins its attempt to evacuate Tokyo, only to find the job so huge that the city essentially collapses into chaos. Yaguchi appeals to world leaders for more time, and — thanks to timely intervention by Ms. Patterson — gains 24 hours, which is just enough to complete the blood coagulant project.

As Godzilla once again becomes active, The SDF puts Yaguchi's plan into action, using numerous means to goad Godzilla into expending its energy again. The coagulant is delivered, and....

The film winds down to its finale.
Shin Godzilla departs radically from the Godzilla tradition, from whatever era. Strong central characters are mostly absent, the film constantly switching focus between several groups of government officials, tarrying for any appreciable length only with Yaguchi's team and, occasionally, with US envoy Kayoko Ann Patterson. Plot-wise, the fantasy element that has been a hallmark of the series since its inception has been replaced by the stark drama of real-life politics. Even Godzilla 1984 and Shusuke Kaneko's Gamera films, in which we get more than the typical insight — at least for daikaiju films — into governmental procedures during a disaster, don't come close to immersing the viewer in the multiple tiers of bureaucracy, which very likely mirror their real-life counterparts, as in this film. From the outset, directors Hideako Anno (Evangelion) and Shinji Higuchi (best known for his work on Shusuke Kaneko's Gamera trilogy) focus, in agonizing detail, on the complexities of the governmental machine, poking fun at its inefficiency, clearly drawing parallels between its response to the devastation wrought by Godzilla and the real-life horrors of the 2011 tsunami and subsequent Fukushima meltdown.

The political scene is more than just a backdrop for Godzilla, the monster — it remains at the forefront, and Godzilla manifests itself as a natural force that jolts the establishment to the point it must either adapt or fold. Adaptation does not come easily. The old prime minister and his cabinet are summarily wiped out during Godzilla's rampage, and the provisional PM and cabinet, shown to be no more decisive or innovative than their predecessors, cave to the United Nation's demands — spearheaded by the US — to launch a thermonuclear weapon to eliminate a perceived global threat. Only Yaguchi and his devoted team, portrayed as youthful, energetic, and insightful, stand a chance of thinking outside the proverbial box sufficiently to devise a means of stopping the horror. Of the characters, only Ms. Patterson, a privileged young Japanese-American woman who has political aspirations of her own — in the US, her ties to her family's homeland being negligible — shows any appreciable maturing over the course of the movie, initially coming off as materialistic and generally shallow, but finally realizing the gravity of the threat and owning up to her responsibilities as a public servant not only to the US but to her ancestral homeland.
L to R: Yutaka Takenouchi as Hideki Akasaka, aide to the Prime Minister; Hiroki Hasegawa as Deputy Chief
Cabinet Secretary Rando Yaguchi; Satomi Ishihara as US Envoy Kayoko Ann Patterson
At the end of the day, this is a giant monster movie, and while Godzilla's screen time isn't as extensive as I would have preferred, the monster rampages are a cinematic treat, more breathtaking than any daikaiju film in my experience. Godzilla exhibits raw power beyond any previous incarnation's, and its slow, inexorable march forward through the city generates a deeper sense of dread than in any Godzilla movie since the original 1954 film. There's a majesty in its statue-like appearance, and its physical proportions are just off enough to be unsettling to the senses. In its earlier stages, the monster actually appears rather whimsical and, perhaps strangely, more believable because of it. It's worth noting that the script takes on the critics of daikaiju physics, with scientists early on declaring that such a creature would be too huge to move, that it would collapse under its own weight. Of course, Godzilla does not collapse under its own weight, and we the fans get to have a little chuckle at the expense of these clearly unimaginative know-it-alls.

Unlike the unabashedly fun entries in the Showa Godzilla years, in this one, there are no miniature missile misfires, no tiny rockets shooting willy-nilly across the screen. The military's assault on Godzilla is precise and tactically sound. Bullets and bombs visibly bounce off of the monster's armor-like hide, rarely getting so much as a moment's notice from the seemingly purpose-driven creature. And when Godzilla does eventually counterattack, it is, in the words of Tsukioka from Godzilla Raids Again, "a sight to crush the hearts of men."

While I have always been a diehard fan of the traditional man-in-suit Godzilla, I have nary a complaint about the digitized version of the monster in this one. The CGI effects, with only a few exceptions, come off as superb, superior in almost all respects to the Legendary Godzilla of 2014.

Composer Shiro Sagisu (Evangelion, Final Fantasy) provides a generally effective musical score, particularly the operatic themes that embody not only the terror but the tragedy of the monster's onslaught. Several Akira Ifukube pieces accompany Godzilla's appearance, including the attack theme from King Kong vs. Godzilla, the title motif from Terror of MechaGodzilla, the Battle in Outer Space March, and others. While vastly different from Sagisu's score, even at its most varied, these mostly blend in without seeming too anachronistic. Using Ifukube music in films scored by other composers can be dicey, such as in Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla and Godzilla 2000 (both scored by Takayuki Hattori) where the insertion of the traditional Godzilla theme seems nothing more than an obligatory, half-hearted attempt to bring some gravitas to the respective properties. The musical suite over the end credits, though, is all Ifukube and all impressive, with more themes from Destroy All Monsters, Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla (1993), and others.

In the overall, Shin Godzilla breaks quite a bit of new ground in the Godzilla franchise, mostly good, some not so much. While the staccato punches at the government's impotence work well early on, the directors try too hard to sustain the momentum, and it simply falls apart. In the middle third of the film, the repetition of theme becomes all too noticeable and eventually tiresome. This would have been the perfect opportunity to a) better develop individual characters or b) show more freaking Godzilla, preferably the latter. It would not have hurt to simply edit down the film by about 15 minutes, specifically in those areas where government meetings drag on and on, covering ground already well covered.

Regardless of its problems, Shin Godzilla mostly succeeds, and often in royal fashion. This movie presents some of the Godzilla franchise's best-ever cinematic moments, the monster proving meaner, darker, and deeper even than in Kaneko's Godzilla - Mothra - King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack. Granted, Shin Godzilla ought to be a one-off shot — whatever might come afterward, it cannot simply duplicate any formula ostensibly established in this movie. This one took the old bar, threw it away, and generated a new one for itself. Admirable indeed. But I hope — assuming there are new Godzilla films someday in the offing — the producers do understand there are lessons to be learned from Shin Godzilla's shortcomings and act on them accordingly.

Shin Godzilla has performed well in Japan, and from early indications, seems to be hitting the mark with American audiences. Though the movie is so focused on issues unique to Japan, those issues didn't appear to be whooshing over a bunch of disinterested gaijin heads. People are getting it. And how good that is to see.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Yet Another Return to Boggy Creek

Given that the summer of 2016 hasn't much cared to depart, even into October, the customary Halloween spirit — which usually sets in of its own accord come late September — seems to be struggling a bit. And I hate it. Damn you, summer of 2016! To help compensate for the intemperate temperature, I've ramped up the already substantive number of October horror movie showings at Casa de Rodan, mostly to fine effect. Growing up, I was a big fan of all things cryptozoological, and movies such as The Legend of Boggy Creek, The Creature From Black Lake, et. al. rated highly on my Halloween-o-meter. Not much has changed in that regard.

Over the years, there have been more movies than God could shake a stick at either directly or tangentially related to the Fouke Monster, the subject of the original Boggy Creek flick, and quite honestly, I've never been able to keep track of them. I own the original and its goofy second sequel, Boggy Creek: The Legend Continues, which was produced, directed, and stars Charles Pierce, who directed and produced the original. I've seen the first sequel, Return to Boggy Creek, but I don't own it (from what I recollect, it sucked). I think there are a couple of others. In 2011, Boggy Creek: The Legend Is True entered the fray, though I never got around to watching it until today — partly because I read the novelization of the movie by Eric S. Brown, and the whole business seemed a yawner. But, hey, since it's the summer of Halloween, I figured I'd go ahead and give the movie a look.

And what do you know, I was not bored out of my skull, as I confess I expected to be. As a writer, in my fiction and nonfiction alike, I have made it abundantly clear that if a work lacks character development, no matter how spectacular it might otherwise be, it is an organism lacking a skeleton (exo or endo, it makes no never mind). And in this movie, it was kind of nice to get to know a group of young people, stereotypical though some were, who were not altogether worthless piles of crap, √† la [insert cheap horror movie title here]. However, there comes a time when the process of getting to know folks ought take a breather and make way for some some bona fide forward progress. In this department, Boggy Creek: The Legend Is True falters — quite a lot really. For a while, I had the impression I was looking at a millennial-era TV soap, with an occasional nod to something a tad out of the ordinary lurking in the nearby woods.
Once in a while, this movie does get to be a drag.

As the movie opens, we get glimpses of our favorite bigfoot-type creature doing bigfoot-type things, such as stomping around through the woods and occasionally dragging hapless victims away in the darkness.

Sometime later....

Two young female friends, Jennifer (Melissa Carnell) and Maya (Shavon Kirksey), out for a weekend of relative solitude at a remote cabin that Jennifer inherited from her late father, find themselves playing host to several friends — Dave (Damon Lipari); his bitchy girlfriend, Brooke (Stephanie Honor√© ); and Tommy (Texas Battle) — who arrive unexpectedly, anticipating a major party weekend. An enigmatic, perpetually shotgun-wielding young man named Dustin (Cory Hart), who lives in a nearby cabin, warns them that they might ought to leave because, years earlier, something in the neighboring woods killed his wife. When they ask him why he thinks they ought to leave when he plans to remain, he merely brandishes his weapon.

Needless to say, Dustin's warning goes unheeded. For the next hour or so, we are treated to Jennifer moping about her father's death and her poor relationship with her mother; Maya's troubles with boyfriend Tommy, whose immature antics threaten to end the world as we know it; Dave becoming exasperated with Brooke, a city girl who hates the rustic life; and Brooke having a drunken tantrum when she believes Dave is flirting with Jennifer.

Fortunately, after a while, the Boggy Creek Beast makes the requisite appearance and relieves some of the young folks of their troubles. We come to find out that there is not just one Boggy Creek Beast but several — and since we get to see them in all their glory, it's gratifying that they're actually pretty scary-looking.

I'll say no more regarding the plot, but I will go so far as to compliment the young actors in this film, who generally give their roles valiant efforts. Melissa Carnell — who looks to be about ten years old — gives up the longest, broadest, and saddest smiles I think I've ever seen. Damon Lipari, whose character is fairly colorless, comes across as so real that you don't get the feeling Dave's colorlessness is due to bad acting. From the visual standpoint, the movie features some gorgeous backwoods scenery, framed to accentuate its creepiness, much as in the original Legend of Boggy Creek. Now, unlike the other entries in the Boggy Creek mythos, which are set in and around Fouke, Arkansas, this movie takes place near the fictitious town of Boggy Creek, Texas. I suppose if one is a consistency nut (yeah, I border on being a consistency nut), it wouldn't be a stretch to figure that this Boggy Creek actually exists across the state line, just on the other side of Texarkana.

Boggy Creek: The Legend Is Real makes for a reasonably fun outing in the realm of cryptozoological horrors. For the summer of Halloween, I'll surely take it. Three out of five Damned Rodan's Dirty Firetinis.
Les temps de bonheur: Tommy, Maya, Dave, Brooke, and Jennifer on a scenic river excursion.
Maya (Shavon Kirksey) and Jennifer (Melissa Carnell)
Damn, man!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Dark Was the Night

Dark Was the Night is a 2014 monster/horror flick that I had never heard of until the other day when it popped up on my Netflix rec list. The description sounded interesting enough, so I decided to check it out. After all, it's October, and the horror movies are rolling at Casa de Rodan this month, as is good and proper.

As it turns out, Dark is a swell little film, which relies mostly on atmosphere, suspense, and character interaction to deliver the chills. On that count, it mostly succeeds. The cinematography is gorgeous and puts you right in the middle of a small town on the edge of a forest, about to be socked in by a snowstorm of epic proportions. Wisely, director Jack Heller relies on suggestive shadows, weird noises, and odd events — such as birds making a massive exodus from the locale — to build suspense, accompanied by an occasional jump scare, which can often be naught but annoying; however, in this case, these instances are relatively few in number, well-timed, and actually integral to the action rather than mere ploys meant to startle the poop out of the unsuspecting viewer. The score (by Darren Morze) and sound effects come together to weave an eerie mood, maintained relentlessly over the course of the film. As far as atmosphere goes, I'd give Dark Was the Night my highest marks.

The story opens with a logging crew clear-cutting a forest, and before you know it, there are missing persons — at least partially missing. In the nearby town of Maiden Woods, people are disturbed by the appearance of strange tracks, apparently belonging to some unknown animal, that go from the woods, all the way through town, and back into the woods, only to disappear. Sheriff Paul Shields (Kevin Durand) and his deputy, Donnie Saunders (Lukas Haas), investigate, but initially take the tracks as the work of a prankster. Soon, however, there are missing animals, bizarre claw marks on buildings, and photographic evidence of something that appears to be anything but an ordinary woodland creature.

Then a trio of hunters in the woods are attacked by said something, which kills two of them. The survivor convinces Shields and Saunders that there is, indeed, something horrible in the woods and it is now lurking around the town. Shields learns about the ill-fated logging crew and surmises that, whatever the creature is, it has been disturbed by the loggers and is on the move in its search for food and shelter. His suspicion is proven correct when the big bad something comes out of the woods and actually attacks his house. It flees into the night before Shields can unload any buckshot into it.

As the snowstorm hits the town, the roads become impassable and most of the townsfolk gather at the central church to ride out the storm together. There's no peace to be found in the house of worship, though, because — once again — an unknown thing comes stomping and banging and bashing in doors to get to the huddled delectables inside. Shields and Saunders herd the townspeople into the basement, which was designed to be a fallout shelter in the 1960s. The two lawmen then go out to face down the oncoming, deadly menace.

Dark is essentially a modernized version of the ubiquitous scary drive-in shows of the 1960s and 70s, such as The Legend of Boggy Creek, The Creature From Black Lake, Sasquatch: The Legend of Bigfoot, and others. The characters are generally well-drawn and better-than-adequately portrayed by the cast. Things do bog down a bit with Sheriff Shields too frequently flagellating himself over having failed to save his son Tim from drowning sometime in the past, but that's really the only stumbling block as far as the characters are concerned. Kevin Durand plays the part capably and comes across as generally sympathetic. There's a hint of romance between Deputy Saunders and exceptionally attractive diner waitress Clair (Sabina Shields), which is given just the right amount of emphasis — it provides Saunders with a bit of motivation without becoming saccharine.

In too many monster movies, what should blow the film out of the water but the monster itself. In this case.... well, that almost happens. The more subtle manifestations of the creature — the footprints, the deep thump of its hoofed feet, the occasional glimpses of movement within the shadows — do it far more credit than its ultimate revelation. The CGI is a little too obvious, the design a little too streamlined. The critter could have been scarier. It should have been scarier.

However, the ending, which again hearkens back to its drive-in forebears, manages to at least partially make up for whatever disappointment might accompany the appearance of the beast's beastly countenance. Then the end credits, with a rousing techno score and images from the film, offer something a little out of the ordinary and close the movie on a positive note.

Unfortunately, Dark Was the Night has enough frustrating issues to prevent it being a great horror movie. Regardless, it's still a good horror movie, with numerous aspects that I must rate as superb.

Four of five Damned Rodan's Dirty Firetinis.
Sheriff Paul Shields (Kevin Durand) and Deputy Donnie Saunders (Lukas Haas)
Strange tracks lead from the woods, through town, and back into the woods.
An inexplicable, mass migration of birds out of the threatened town

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

My Bump Into The Thing

Writer Ben R. Williams, of The Martinsville Bulletin, from my old hometown, offers some of the best editorials around, on a host of subjects — everything from local events to entertainment to national and world politics. His recent article, "Defining Moments Look Different to Everyone," struck a nerve with me because it's about his meeting Wilford Brimley, his favorite actor in John Carpenter's The Thing, which is also his favorite horror movie. It just so happens that it's mine too — well, to be quite accurate, it's tied with Jacques Tourneur's Curse (Night) of the Demon; for me, both are required viewing just about every October, when I start pulling out more than the customary number of horror movies to watch.

My personal encounter might not as dramatic as Ben's (read his story), but it was so damned unexpected you can bet it left a lasting impression on me. It was around 1990, and my (now ex-)wife Peg and my brother Phred were visiting Atlanta on one of our regular trips to Georgia. The three of us were having dinner at a sushi bar on the north side of Atlanta when a tall, rather ordinary yet distinguished-looking gentleman wandered in and sat down at the bar next to my brother, who was seated on the other side of my wife. I recognized the man immediately, and though I knew exactly who he was, my brain let out an exceptionally powerful fart, and his name simply would not come to me. I very subtly nudged Peg and said, "Look, that's an actor from The Thing. He's been in a bunch of stuff. He played President Johnson in The Right Stuff. I can't think of his name!" Peg looked at the man and shook her head. "I think you're right," she said. "But I don't know his name either."

My brother, who could sort of hear what we were talking about, shook his head and softly said, "No, it's not. You're full of it."

"But it is!" I insisted. "You know, he's in a bazillion movies — a character actor."

"No. Not him."

"Is too."

Finally, a little exasperated, Phred turned to the gentleman and said, "Excuse me, but my brother is convinced you're a familiar actor, but can't think of your name."

The man smiled and said, "Donald Moffat."

At the same volume and level of excitement as Charlie Brown responding to Lucy's diagnosis of Pantophobia, I hollered out, "THAT'S IT!"

My brother's face kind of fell, but all proved well. We sat and chatted with Donald Moffat for quite a while, finding him quite amiable and full of entertaining stories. He informed us he was in Atlanta filming a movie with "that blond kid — Ricky Schroder." (I later determined the movie must have been A Son's Promise, which I have never seen, though I suppose I should check it out someday.) We did discuss The Thing in some detail, as it was even then probably my favorite horror flick. I asked him if people often recognized him when he was out in public.

"All the time," he said, "but they always think I'm their insurance man."

At that time — Deathrealm was in its heyday, so I was frequently going to conventions all over the country — I had met plenty of big-name authors, a number of movie stars, and a few other persons of note (when I lived in Chicago, I once literally ran into Tommy LaSorda — he was coming out a revolving door while I was going in. BOOM. At least he laughed about it), but more often than not it was at a con or someplace where you might expect to encounter such folks. I think this was the first time I'd met a "star" just having dinner, and, as you might expect, for the rest of that evening, I was floating on Cloud Nine.

I do still have a memento of that evening — a chopsticks wrapper that Mr. Moffat very kindly autographed, since, at the time, it was the only piece of paper I had on hand.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Old Haunts

I think these may be Ents

I woke up to a hot sunny October morning — not as in an Indian summer morning, but just another freaking hot summer morning, since cool weather has not come close to setting in here — and it dawned on me that I had no geocaching plans, which is almost unprecedented for a Sunday. I have a long way to travel to find any caches I've not already claimed, but the day was just begging me to go on a decent hike, so I decided to hit the Osprey Trail, up along Lake Townsend, figuring I could do maintenance on a few of my caches. I had found all the others along the Osprey back in 2008 and 2009, but once I got hiking, hunting them again just seemed the thing to do. Those old caches predated me keeping detailed notes about them, and I had absolutely no recollection of the hides themselves, so a couple of these were anything but easy to re-find. It did make for an enjoyable trip down memory lane, revisiting these places I haven't seen for seven and eight years. The Osprey Trail is one of my favorites in Greensboro because bicycles are not allowed on it, so you rarely encounter other human beings on the trail, and that makes for a much more pleasant hike. Today, my only close encounter was with a great blue heron, which I surprised as I came around the trail next to the lake. It fairly exploded from its resting place beside the trail and sailed out over the lake, honking its displeasure in no uncertain terms.

At "The Horror at Red Hook" (GC69WZY), one of my semi-treacherous, tree-climbing caches, I discovered that the lower branches of the tree have been trimmed away. Future hunters are going to have their work cut out for them getting up to cache (a red bison tube). So far, no deaths have been reported here, which I guess is a good thing. I also paid a visit to my night cache, "The Tripods" (GC690XE), to see if any of the Martians had escaped their confinement, but all appeared to be well. I've heard there may be an expedition coming up next week to this one, so I wanted to make sure it was in good order and properly booby-trapped.

At the end of it, I had put in a good four miles today. I could just about make a habit of this, but I sure do miss those days of having plenty of new caches on the watershed trails. Hopefully, someday, there will be more.
Old Rodan out in the marshland
Some logbooks that I signed in 2008/2009, and a sparkly mushroom I found near one of the old caches
Other old things found in the woods, a long, long way from anything
The Elder Sign, perhaps?

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Beware of Germs

Mercy, I've been so busy trying to crank out some new fiction under tight deadlines that I've had no time to blog lately, nor even to (gasp!) do much geocaching. However, I figured I'd take this opportunity to offer what I hope is a superfluous warning, but just in case....

I receive Google alerts when news of my books comes up on the web, and in the past couple of months, the alerts have been screaming in at a record rate — almost all appearing to be download sites for my books, which, I can assure you, are completely bogus. There may actually be some pirate sites among them, where copies of the book may be acquired — illegally, of course, but the vast majority of them appear to be links that will take you to malware sites, where your device will almost certainly be compromised by some hellish bug or another. I'd never even click on one of those links, much less attempt to actually download a book. My available titles can all be acquired, quite legally, at legitimate sites such as, Barnes & Noble, and Books-a-Million, not to mention directly from publishers such as Crossroad Press, Dark Regions, Wildside Press, et. al. Purchasing from them ensures you'll get what you pay for, and that ye author will receive his due royalties.

Here — this will take you to my author page, where you can browse and purchase almost all my available titles: Stephen Mark Rainey at

And, of course, at my website,, you can get all the information you can stomach about my work, along with links to order from the most legitimate sources.

As I said, this is probably a superfluous admonishment, but then I never cease to be surprised by the games people play, every night and every day now. I mean, look at certain of our presidential candidates.

Stay tuned, there will be a special promotion or two coming along soon, and I'll be posting details right here.


Sunday, September 18, 2016

Why I am in Dutch with the Boys

It was not even a particularly harrying morning — which is, I expect, the whole problem, since if it had been, I would not have lost my focus and walked off without feeding the cats.

I got up, anticipating a nice geocaching outing, with plenty of time before I had to walk out the door. As always, the cats herded me straight toward the kitchen, since — according to them — it had been a month since their last feeding. However, I bade them wait, for it was more critical that Dad get his coffee cooking first. Coffee now in the works, I notice the sink is full of dishes, so I start to put them in the dishwasher, only to find the dishwasher full of clean dishes, so I unload the dishwasher, after which there is coffee, so I pour the coffee and commence to loading the dirty dishes in the dishwasher, at which time I get a message from one of my geocaching partners stating they can't make it, which reminds me I haven't downloaded the day's cache info into my GPS, so I go upstairs to download the caches, then write a reply to our errant friend, only to receive an important writing-related email, which I immediately reply to, only to notice that time is scurrying ever onward, so I rush to get dressed, remembering that, since it's a six-mile hike, I will need plenty of liquid refreshment for the trail, so I pack up some liquid refreshment and then figure that I'm also going to need my bug spray, so I go out to make sure I have bug spray, and then realize I'm actually running a little late, so I confirm I have all my geocaching supplies together, lock up the house, get in the car, and go caching, and that is why I am in dutch with the boys.
A nice little fellow — or perhaps I should say a nice big fellow, since he was over six feet long — that Diefenbaker
and I encountered along the trail. Happily, I don't think I'm in dutch with him.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

That Which Ought Not Be

I bet you think you're looking at a very red-tinted photo of Droolie up there. Not exactly. You're looking at a very red-tinted photo of something that ought not be.

Look down near the left-hand corner of the pic. There's a dark, solid-looking round thing on top of the covers, which — given the position in which I was lying in the bed — would have been resting on my stomach. And clearly visible to me, as my head was propped up on the pillow, just out of view of the camera lens. It looks like a hockey puck. Or perhaps a lid to an insulated coffee mug. Its left edge is reflecting the lamp light from the nightstand. It casts a shadow.

I took this photo of Droolie the other night and was just going to delete it because the lighting was so funky. But then I noticed that object in the corner. And it's no use, I've got to post this: at the time, there was nothing there. Nothing like that rested on the covers, in the bed, in my bedroom, in my house. In that bed, there was Droolie, and there was me. That dark object, whatever it is, was not there.

I was on the phone with Ms. Brugger at the time, and I immediately remarked to her, "What the hell is that thing?" In no way does it appear to be an optical illusion — no gap in the covers, given some sense of dimension by the lighting. There's no weird trick of perspective, evidenced by the fact that the focus is consistent across the frame.

There was nothing there. Given where my head was in relation to that object, there's no way I could not have seen it, if something was actually there. There wasn't. Subsequent photos revealed nothing on the covers, so I didn't save them. I tore apart the bed — the whole room, basically — to see if some object, something which might explain that, might reveal itself. Nope.

So I'm left with a photo of something I can't explain, and while you may have no reason to even believe it, I'm telling you God's honest truth: there's something in that photo, and I cannot account for it. No doubt there's some prosaic explanation, but I don't know what it could be.

Mainly, I have this fear that some ghostly hockey player, somewhere, is missing his puck, and may be in foul humor over it. I'm pretty sure I don't want to meet him.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Fun With Copperheads

'Twas a lovely day for Three Old Farts — Diefenbaker, Robgso, et moi — to venture forth to Hillsborough for a bit of geocaching, chowing on BBQ, and snake hunting. Well, we didn't exactly set out for the latter, but we did chance upon a happy little copperhead lounging on the trail near the Old Oconeechee Speedway. He attracted some crowd of onlookers, but Diefenbaker helped him get across the trail without ill effect to either snake or to hikers.

I've encountered numerous copperheads at close range over the years, and thankfully, much like black widows — our other most common venomous creature around these parts — they generally do their best not to chomp on you. My favorite encounter with a copperhead was about four years ago while caching in a wooded area not too far from home. I was making my way down a rocky hillside toward a creek that flowed into a long culvert, which I had to enter in order to reach the cache. I stepped on a large, loose rock, and what should emerge — or perhaps I should say erupt — but the biggest copperhead I had ever seen, with a body over four feet long and a good two inches in diameter. It shot like lightning into the creek below and vanished from my view.

Realizing the snake could have easily chomped on me had he so desired, I was a little reassured that he was more keen on putting some space between us. The pipe I had to enter lay about twenty feet upstream, and I hoped at this point that my lengthy friend might have proceeded downstream. Undaunted, I made my way into the dark pipe.
Old fellow on guard for No-Shoulders Joe

Nope. Sir Copperhead has gone inside the pipe to mope, and now finds himself incensed that the tall dopey creature, rather than fleeing screaming, is entering his domain. Snake, curled up some ten feet away, takes it upon himself to lunge at me, forcing me to back up a few steps. Fortunately, the creek is full of large rocks, so I heft one of them and chuck it into the water in front of the snake, hoping to deter him. Oh, no, he'll have none of that. In fact, by now, he's kinda mad at me, so he lunges again, this time stopping only a couple of feet short. I grab another rock, shove it at him, and this time, he's splashed up into the air and comes back down in the water six or seven feet away. He coils up to gather his wits, and I take this opportunity to vacate the creek, hoping he hasn't called in his friends as reinforcements. Thankfully, no, so we bid each other cheery farewells, all is forgiven on both ends — well, at least on my end — and I promise not to return until hibernation season.

Just last week, Ms. B. was taking her trash out and nearly trod upon a baby copperhead reclining on her carport. They really do seem to enjoy our company, but I don't recommend petting these nice little guys, however great the temptation.

The rest of today's geocaching expedition was fun enough. We got in several decent little hikes in the woods, found a night cache in broad daylight, and enjoyed some first-rate beef brisket at the Hillsborough BBQ Company. Bumped my total number of finds up to 9,027.

Ta ta.
Another happy little copperhead Ms. B. and I came across on a greenway in Chapel Hill a while back
And then there was this gourmet critter, chowing on a cricket on my front porch last night
Just passing by here today, on our way to a night cache in Hillsborough
A couple of old farts I was caching with today. And you thought snakes were dangerous!
We discovered an overgrown bench in the woods — pretty much not where one would
expect to find a bench in the woods.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Horror at the The Daily Grind

As many of y'all know, scary fiction and music are among my passions, and while I work at creating the former almost daily, it's less common for me to break out the git-fiddle and make a scary racket. Still, now and again I am known to do this thing and inflict some lovely pain and suffering on an unsuspecting populace. So shall it be this coming Friday, September 16, at The Daily Grind in Martinsville, VA. From 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM, The Daily Grind is holding a Songwriters Showcase for local musicians to perform some of their original compositions. Now, I haven't written music in decades, but there was a spell back in the 1980s and early 90s where I composed a fair number of guitar-and-vocal tunes, many of them — I'm sure your shock is palpable — featuring scary themes. Come Friday, I'll be performing a few of them.

You folks in the area, please come by and feel free to hurl, heckle, and chuck things. It's all appreciated. The Daily Grind is located at 303 E Church St, Martinsville, VA 24112 (see map below).

Just for good measure, here's a video from two or three years ago of Ms. Brugger and me belting out our version of October Project's "Bury My Lovely," though — sadly — she will not be in attendance this coming Friday. And too bad for me, as she improves my stage presence by a couple hundred percent.

I want all your garmonbozia.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Q: The Winged Serpent

Back in the mid-1980s, I think it was when I lived in Chicago, I caught the video of Q, a stop-motion-animated monster flick written and directed by B-movie guru Larry Cohen (It's Alive, It Lives Again, Island of the Alive, The Stuff, The Phone Booth, et. al.). I thought it was reasonably good fun, but I never saw it again afterward, and pretty much forgot it ever existed. A couple of weeks back, the movie's name popped up on my computer, I think while browsing titles to add to my Netflix queue. I figured, what the heck, I'd give it another look, as I do love my B movies, especially the flicks I remember from the heyday of the drive-in movie theater.

Now, I never saw Q at the drive-in, but this one is consummate outdoor movie fare. It came out in '82, when drive-ins were already on the decline, so it missed the glory days of the prior couple of decades, but as pure shlock, Q fits right in with the best (or worst) of the grindhouse pictures of the 1960s and 70s. From the opening notes of the score by Robert O. Ragland (The Touch of Satan, The Thing With Two Heads, Grizzly, et. al.), you can smell the popcorn and exhaust fumes. The film's production values are anything but extravagant, but its Manhattan setting offers some intriguing scenery, everything from intimate shots of its seediest backstreets to panoramic aerial views of New York City in all its splendor. There's enough gore and coarse language to justify its R rating, at least for its day; some entertaining, if sparse special effects; and... Michael Moriarty.

A handful of other recognizable names/faces appear here — David Carradine, Richard Roundtree, Candy Clark, and Eddie Jones — but Moriarty, one of Larry Cohen's staple performers, chews and chews his way through this movie, playing manic-depressive two-bit crook Jimmy Quinn, who, despite more than plentiful foibles, might just become the savior of the Big Apple. I recall during my first viewing of Q, way back in the day, it struck me as mostly too talky, with people scenes aplenty and monsters too few. But with the perhaps questionable benefit of age and experience here, I can tell you that Moriarty — a reliable talent in countless movies and TV series — is a joy to behold, his character offering up dizzying mood swings, ridiculous soliloquies, and an almost likeable manner, despite needing his teeth punched out in every other scene. It's Moriarty more than the monster that drives the movie's momentum, such as it is, and it can safely said that, without him, there probably wouldn't be enough here to justify paying for the popcorn.

It goes like this. People are disappearing from unlikely places — window washers from their precarious 40th-floor perches, young women sunbathing on rooftop terraces, construction workers from high-rise girders. At the same time, several mutilated bodies turn up, all bearing all the hallmarks of Aztec ritual slaughter. NYPD Detectives Shepard (David Carradine) and Powell (Richard Roundtree) are at first baffled, but with the help of young Quinn, who, during his escape from a bungled diamond store robbery, sees the murderous beast up close and personal, they piece together an unlikely scenario: someone is conducting ritual murders in order to placate the fearsome Aztec serpent god, Quetzalcoatl, who has decided to pay the Big Apple a big old ugly visit. Indeed, the winged serpent is alive and quite animated (courtesy of David Allen, Randy Cook, and Peter Kuran), having taken up residence in the uppermost reaches of the Chrysler Building.

Once it's ascertained that the beast exists, they need a plan to destroy it. And who should come up with the means to do so but our all-but-failed, mostly cowardly hood, Mr. Jimmy Quinn.

Larry Cohen enjoys his police procedural stories, and Q's extensive police drama is well enough done, with Carradine and Roundtree occasionally expending a modicum of energy in otherwise dry, two-dimensional roles. At one point, after a particularly close call with the monster, Carradine glances at his partner, looks momentarily bemused, and then says, "Big!" with a little chuckle. I don't know whether the scene was ad-libbed, but it does present a welcome moment of spontaneity from someone other than Moriarty.

With Q, it goes without saying you're not getting sophisticated entertainment, but if you're a fan of stop-motion animation, the critter is right fun, and for the people scenes, Michael Moriarty — with the tiniest bit of help from Carradine — adds energy by the bucket load. I'd put this movie neck and neck with The Crater Lake Monster for cheap, fun, late grindhouse–era entertainment. Not one I'm likely to watch again anytime soon, if ever, but at least it made for one evening of solid amusement.

Three out of five Damned Rodan's Dirty Firetinis.
The winged serpent scouting for an appetizer
Jimmy Quinn has a brilliant idea, or a million.
Have a heart, Mr. Aztec High Priest dude!
Unlike many reptilian monstrosities of our acquaintance, substantial amounts of
small arms fire inflict Q with a case of heartburn.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Cache #9,000

It's hard to believe I've been geocaching for over 8 years; it still somehow feels like a "new" activity to me. I discovered it in late 2007 and found my first cache in the spring of 2008. For several of these "milestone" caches, I've headed after some particularly challenging or intriguing hides, such as "Dr. Evil Visits Mebane" (GC2B9TZ) for #5,000; "Another DAM Skirt Lifter" (GC3W0G6) for #7,000; and "All Alone in Goblintown" (GC1EAWF) for #8,000. However, as it's proven to be something of a pain in the tail trying to plot an outing in advance while finding just the right number of caches in the interim, I decided to let #9K fall where it may. As it was, there was a relatively new cache not too far off the beaten track — "Mt. Bubba" (GC6PQAA) — so I went after it yesterday afternoon. Quite by coincidence, I had gone after "Dr. Evil Visits Mebane," #5K, on September 1, 2012, which means I've had a perfect average of 1,000 cache finds per year for the last four years. Apparently, I'm slowing down in my old age, since prior to that, I was averaging 1,500 to 1,800 caches per year. Actually, it's mainly because I have to go so much farther afield now to claim caches I haven't already found. That and time flies so much faster now than it used to....

Now, on the writing front, I've been really cranking it these past few weeks. I just finished new short stories — actually, fairly long stories — for a pair of anthologies I was invited to, the second of which went out to the editor last night. If you've checked in here recently, you've probably seen that Young Blood, my novelization of the Smith Brothers' indie vampire flick, was recently released, and that Return of the Old Ones, featuring "Messages From a Dark Deity" is on deck.

Lots to do this weekend, some fun, some the usual responsibilities with Mum. At least it's a long one.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A New Smorgasbord From Dark Regions Press

Dark Regions Press is officially announcing three new horror anthologies, including Return of the Old Ones (edited by Brian M. Sammons), which features a right scary little tale of the Cthulhupocalypse, titled "Messages From a Dark Deity," by this old man. Dark Regions is kicking off an Indiegogo campaign for all three books, with a regular smorgasbord of perks and extras, much like their highly successful campaign for World War Cthulhu (which featured another of my Cthulhu Mythos tales, "The Game Changers"). The other two anthologies are You, Human (edited by Michael Bailey) and The Children of Gla'aki (edited by Brian M. Sammons and Glynn Owen Barrass).

"Messages From a Dark Deity," takes place during the days leading up to the eve of global destruction, seen through the eyes of an investigative journalist. As the world around him becomes increasingly more bizarre, he attempts to deny the evidence of his senses, attributing the horrors he witnesses to some kind of hysteria, but Nyarlathotep — the messenger of the Great Old Ones — refuses to allow him even this dubious comfort.

The fantastic cover work you see above is by Vincent Chong. For more details about all three anthos and their attendant perks, visit the Dark Regions Indiegogo campaign page. And here's the promo video — knock yourself out on these visuals.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Why the Female of the Species Is Deadly

Druid Hills School in Martinsville, VA, where I learned that females can be deadly
In nature, it's plain that the male members of certain species operate at a clear disadvantage. After mating, many female spiders turn around and eat the unfortunate chap that just did his part to help propagate their kind. Some male insects, the poor sods, will mutilate their own genitals to improve their chances of surviving an encounter with a female. Oftentimes, the human female has been known to up and stop the heart of an adoring male, simply with an approving word or touch of a gentle hand.

It was the mid 1960s, I was probably in second grade, and Mum and Pop had allowed me to ride the mile or so to Druid Hills Elementary School on my bike for the first time. Most of the kids in my neighborhood were already riding their bikes, and I was feeling the peer pressure to keep up. Now, I could already ride a mean bicycle. I could pop wheelies with style; ride long distances with no hands; go down steep hillsides, hit a jump ramp, fly out into the air, and land without mishap. A regular daredevil, I was.

Getting to school that morning was great. I was proud as a peacock as I turned my little red spyder bike into the school parking lot for the first time. I could just feel the eyes of every young lady on the premises watching me and bursting at the seams with admiration for my clear pedaling prowess.

But it was that afternoon, when the final bell rang, that my true chance to shine arrived. All the kids were coming out from their classrooms, some bound for buses, some for their parents' cars, some for the sidewalk to walk home, and some — like me — for the bicycle rack. Out there, I think I engaged in conversation with a couple of third and fourth graders who'd ridden their bicycles, confident they would no longer look down on me because, by god, I was on my bike. What a great feeling that was. But it was as I went pedaling out of the parking lot and down the street toward home that I saw my opportunity to impress not just any ordinary people but girls.

Yes, it was Ellen Hundley and Nancy Carter walking down the sidewalk, and my young heart went zooming into overdrive. If I pulled this off, I knew they would never again look on me as a wee little shrimp of a fellow.

So I pumped those pedals, picked up speed, and took my hands off the handlebars. I passed them waving and shouting, and I think they both smiled at me, which spurred me to pedal faster. Faster.

It was then I turned around and saw that, somehow, a parked car had gotten in front of me. I hit the brakes, but it was too late. BAM! BOOM! THUD! CRUNCH! Over the handlebars I went, up onto the trunk of the car, over the side, and onto the asphalt. Holy god, the pain. I saw more skin on the road than on my arms. My head felt like a cantaloupe that had split open, and probably looked like one, with what few brains I possessed spilling out onto the pavement.

Ellen and Nancy walked on by, giggling. I think a passing adult took a look at me and asked if I required medical attention. I just shook my head and motioned for them to go on because there was no way I was going to try to explain what had just happened to anyone. My bike's handlebars were bent and the chain had come off, so I worked everything back into place and pedaled on home, where my poor mom nearly had a heart attack at the sight of me. I told her a dog had chased me and I had fallen over. I think both my folks were a little concerned that I couldn't really describe the dog or where it had happened, but in the end, I healed up, and I went on to perform all kinds of daredevil stunts on my bike, quite successfully as long as no women or parked cars got in my way.

But after that, you'd best believe that I had a pretty healthy fear of the human female. Two of them had damn near killed me.

Friday, August 19, 2016

I'm Not an Idiot... Just Dedicated

Damned Dedicated, Dripping,
Demented Rodan

I suppose some might argue with the title statement, but in any event, it was like this (and yes, it is a geocaching tale):

I was heading up to Martinsville from Greensboro for my regular visit with Mum. Earlier this week, a new cache had been published just outside of Martinsville, and, much to my surprise, no one had yet claimed the first-to-find. So, never one to let an opportunity go to waste, I took the scenic route and ended up in a field behind a Dollar General store, under skies filled with swollen black rain clouds. And no sooner had I gotten out of the car when the bottom fell out. Big rain, folks, and Damned Rodan was out in it hunting a cache. Not only that, but plunging through a brier-filled pit full of all kinds of flora and fauna with which reasonable people rarely care to interact. This did not seem at all consistent with the cache description, which indicated the container was hidden in a location "accessible to persons of all physical ability levels." Not this spot, I can safely say.

It dawned on me then that the name of the cache — and some details in the description — suggested that the little beast was, in reality, hidden a couple of lots over. So I hoofed it on over to the business there, explained I was a geocacher, and that I understood there was a cache on the premises. The very kind gentleman, whom I assume was the owner, pointed to a spot on the map on my phone to indicate where I might actually find the cache — about .16 of a mile away from the posted coordinates.

Well, what's a little rain? Back out into it I went, and within seconds, I was as waterlogged as if I'd been dunked in a swimming pool. Nothing for it but to make the hike and hope the gentleman's description was good.

It was. Far better than the original posted coordinates.

Thanks to dogged determination (not stupidity), I managed a nice first-to-find on the cache. And if you're fond of golfing, I'd suggest paying a visit to this business — The MiniPar Driving Range & Par 3 Course — in Horsepasture, VA. Good folks there, beautiful area, and a geocache, whose coordinates will hopefully be corrected by its owner in the nearest of futures.

Wetly yours.... Damned Rodan