Friday, December 25, 2009

White Christmas


I don't think it's the very first white Christmas I've spent in Martinsville, but it's the only one in anything like recent memory. Of course, the better part of the snow came the other day, but there's still plenty out there to go around.

Fortunately, the Krismus Krud seems to have subsided, and all in all, it was an exceedingly pleasant day, with some nice gifts given and received, food aplenty, and a meaningful gathering with family and friends. While everyone else napped this afternoon, I got about 1.5K words written in the new story I'm working on. Then it was over to our friends, the Albaneses, for a couple of fun scary movies — Let the Right One In and Blackout. Oh, and more goodies to eat and drink.

And that's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Pyrotechnics in Outer Space


If you visit me here, you know that I loves me some Japanese SF movies, be they serious or be they cheese. I have just about every Japanese SPFX movie ever made, and once in a while, I find it necessary to go on a video binge. Yesterday, I watched Toho's 1959 opus, Battle in Outer Space, and this evening I put on the 1977 cheese-fest, The War in Space, sometimes known as "Star Wars in Japan." Sitting down to watch this was actually kind of cool because, even after all these years, I had never made it through the entire picture before. Way back when, I'd started it a time or two, but in my impatient youth, I couldn't get through the first 15 minutes without either yawning or rolling my eyes. One of these days, I'll pick up the Discotek DVD release, but it's a bit on the pricey side. I have the movie on VHS, which I recorded back when I lived in Chicago in the 80s. It came on late at night on WFLD, Channel 32, and there were only two commercial breaks, each lasting less than two minutes each. Oh, but for those days again.

The movie is more or less a rehash of every other Toho alien invasion movie ever made, and borrows very heavily from 1963's Atragon with a dash of Toei's Space Cruiser Yamato for good measure. A few of the good ol' regular Toho cast members appear here to raise a smile, such as Ryo Ikebe (Battle in Outer Space, Gorath) as the stoic-to-the-point-of-sleepwalking captain of the spaceship Gohten; Akihiko Hirata, best known for his role as the tragic Dr. Serizawa in the original Godzilla; and Goro Mutsumi, the alien leader in both Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla and Terror of MechaGodzilla, back in this one as...an alien leader, now dressed like a gladiator. For the appreciation of heterosexual males, we have the very hot Yuko Asano, who doesn't do a whole lot, but does appear in an appealing bondage scene that almost pushes the limits of a G-rating.

The direction by Jun Fukuda, who directed several of the later Showa-era Godzilla films, comes off as either breakneck or altogether stalled, which largely accounts for my past inability to sit through the movie. The hysterically bad English dubbing — typical of many 70s' Toho films — often has characters reiterating (at least once) the same lines that another character has just spoken. The real draw, though, the special effects — by Mr. Pyrotechnics himself, Teruyoshi Nakano — are a scream. High-tech the movie is not, certainly compared to Star Wars, which was made the same year; bobbing miniatures, stock footage, and sparse sets abound, yet Mr. Nakano does provide a true extravaganza in the area where he always excels: big old fiery explosions. There are lots of them, and they never fail to impress. There's something about watching actual miniatures blow up into blazing fragments that the most sophisticated CGI in the world simply can't rival.

Whereas all this cheese once stoked my ire — you know, being a serious SPFX movie fan — I find that, in my old age, they come together in a mix that is really quite fun. It'll probably be a while before I sit down to watch The War in Space again, but by God, I did it. I finally, really did it.

Damned Rodan, Teruyoshi "Mr. Pyrotechnics" Nakano, and Brett Homenick at G-Fest XI, 2004


Saturday, December 19, 2009

What Blizzard?


Lots of precipitation last night — started with snow, then some sleet, for a total of about five inches on the ground. Some predictions called for much direr conditions; I'm kind of glad it wasn't worse, though last night, it was definitely treacherous on the roads. The young'un came in from DC on the late-night train, and late is the word. Scheduled arrival was at midnight; it was closer to 4:00 AM, and thankfully, she was able to get a cab to the house from the station. It's already melting on the roads, though it will re-freeze tonight, for sure.

A little while ago, I went out to clean off the cars and go walkies for a bit, but it's nice to be able to come back inside to a warm house. Hopefully, I can get out tomorrow and maybe get some Christmas shopping done. Mark has procrastinated this year....

Friday, December 18, 2009

CATASTROPHE 1999: Isao Tomita


Back in the late 70s, I became enamored of Isao Tomita's score to the 1974 Toho film The Prophecies of Nostradamus, a.k.a. Catastrophe 1999, a film that has virtually never been seen in its entirety — anywhere, including Japan, where it was made — since its original release. Although not officially banned, Toho yanked the film from distribution because its depiction of nuclear devastation was considered "insulting" to survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A seriously butchered, 92-minute version, titled The Last Days of Planet Earth, reached our shores in 1979, courtesy of Henry Saperstein, but that disjointed travesty bears little resemblance to the original 114-minute film. Sadly enough, I've never actually seen the original Japanese version, though it rates highly on the list of movies I'd like to view before kicking this mortal bucket. Unfortunately, from what I understand, the chances of a quality domestic release from a company such as Media Blasters/Tokyo Shock are fairly slim.

As I insinuated in the first sentence, Tomita's musical score is what brought this film to my attention to begin with, and just on a whim, I recently reacquainted myself with the original soundtrack recording. My old 33 RPM LP has been gathering dust for many years, but I do own a copy of both the VAP CD of the full soundtrack and the Victor symphonic/electronic suite that is coupled with Toshiaki Tsushima's score to Toho's 1978 SF monstrosity, The War in Space. The latter version is the same recording as the original LP, while the former features all the music cues from the film, including some alternate cuts. While the Victor album features much of the same music, it comes together as a smoother and perhaps more satisfying stand-alone experience than the other; however, it's the longer, less coherent collection of musical tracks that more fully bring home the film's depiction of an environment devolving into a polluted, radiated wasteland, until finally all is consumed in the ultimate nuclear holocaust.

While the movie might be considered a re-imagining of Toho's 1961 film, The Last War, Catastrophe 1999 is surely the bleaker and far more vivid narrative. Tomita's score is based primarily on a pair of lyrical themes, one eerie and grim — an energetic but dark orchestral composition augmented by a whistling, theramin-like synthesizer, with a theme reminiscent of an Ennio Morricone's Italian western score. The other is a melodic, romantic love theme, also driven by a whistling synthesizer. The themes depict very contrasting emotions, but are unified by a powerful undercurrent of melancholy. Both motifs are repeated frequently but with varying orchestrations and tempos.

The score is one that may be best experienced in darkness, without other distractions, as it very effectively conjures up the movie's most powerful images — some of which did survive the hopeless Americanization. Even if you haven't seen the movie in any form, if you have any appreciation for very moody, atmospheric, and eerie music — laced with a touch of 1970s style — the soundtrack is absolutely worth hunting down.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Teenpires

Based on the recommendation of more than a couple of folks, I decided to check out The Vampire Diaries. I'd seen a couple of miscellaneous episodes and thought it was all right. CW is running a week-long marathon starting tonight, so I watched the first couple of episodes. Found it right entertaining — nice production values, pretty settings, pretty young people, some of whom leak a bit of blood. There are certain comparisons to Dark Shadows, given the background and temperament of some of the characters; we have a reluctant vampire, the inevitable modern-day heroine who resembles the vampire's long-lost love (oy). The story does provide an enjoyable version of the vampire mythos, making use of some of its most traditional tenets as well as discarding others — the vampire needs an invitation to enter the victim's home, casts a reflection in mirrors, can survive in daylight (though apparently through the use of an ornate ring). And it does have the distinctive "prime-time soap opera" feel that's a bit reminiscent of the 1991 Dark Shadows revival series.

All in all, a fun little vampire show. I'll probably enjoy checking it out further. It's gotta beat most of the other crap that CW advertises....

Saturday, December 12, 2009

New DARK SHADOWS Audio Releases Announced


Big Finish has announced the next of the Dark Shadows dramatic readings, titled Final Judgment, due in January, featuring Lara Parker as Angelique and Kathryn Leigh Scott as Josette, written by D. Lynn Smith. Also upcoming in 2010 will be my newest drama, titled Dark Shadows: Blood Dance, scheduled to star David Selby and Kathryn Leigh Scott. More info here: Dark Shadows News Page.

Possible new book news on the horizon as well, involving Dark Regions Press, which released my collection, Other Gods, in 2008. Stay tuned.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

New Creative-Writing-Help.com Q & A Session


Visit www.creative-writing-help.com for a new interview with me; it's a nice little Q & A session about my own writing as well as the writing business in general. It was conducted this past week and just went up. Other interviewees include Piers Anthony, Stephen Dedman, Gorman Bechard, Marilyn Byerly, and more.

Last night, spent a very pleasant evening with the Albaneses. Had some killer pizza and chicken wings, then watched One Missed Call (the American version; no great shakes) and From Dusk Till Dawn, which is also no great shakes, but kinda fun. Enjoyed seeing it again after however many years.

Today...Christmas shopping! Woohoo, and all that.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Beastly Feast


Over the past year or so, I've managed to lose about twenty pounds, and I'm all the better for it, though yesterday, I think I put about half of that right back on. Lots and lots of giant turkey buzzard. Hooooo! What a feast!

Conditions on the home front have been...to say the least...odd and stressful for some time now, and this was the first Thanksgiving in living memory that I haven't looked forward to with a lot of joy. Happily, this was a case of the pre-holiday anxiety far exceeding the actual event, as it proved to be relaxing and fulfilling—and not just food-wise. Got in some excellent caching yesterday morning, then gathered with the family and some friends for the afternoon feast. And having today off from work...well...that makes me happy too.

The month ahead should prove interesting, to say the least, but maybe it won't be beastly.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bushwhackin'

Nice, nice weekend here—both entertaining and productive. Got in some good caching each day since Friday, including a couple of much-needed healthy bushwhacks in the woods. Had to explain geocaching to the local cops for about the hundredth time, which was okay since—as is typical here—the officer was very friendly and understanding. Sometimes I feel like a geocachevangelist.

In betwixt the caching adventures, I watched Planet of the Apes and Beneath the Planet of the Apes, which are a couple of my old favorites. Back when I was a wee lad, doing the pretend ape-thing and hunting humans made for some exciting times; it's nice to watch the movies and recapture some of that old excitement. I suppose I'll end up watching Escape, Conquest, and Battle too, but they're nowhere near as special as the first two.

My month of bachelorhood is drawing near its end. All in all, I've made out very well. Was very productive during this period: overhauled the house, ate well, got out and about with friends fairly frequently, got some writing done. Most of all, some of the crushing pressure that's been having such a bad effect on me subsided a bit. Here's hoping for some extended relief.

Photo by Rob Isenhour

Monday, November 16, 2009

Death Is the Great Equalizer


It's almost unheard of for me to experience freaky coincidences, but last night I dreamed about actor Edward Woodward (The Equalizer, The Wicker Man, East Enders, etc.) coming to my house and sitting down to chat. I haven't heard anything about him in the news, or so much as thought about him in I don't know how long. Then I found out he died today.

I always admired Woodward as an actor. He was masterful in the original The Wicker Man, and I liked him very much in The Equalizer TV series way back when. I suppose that if he ever really had come to my house just to chat, it would have been a most remarkable and memorable experience. I feel very saddened by his passing. The whole dream thing though...like, wow.

Freaky.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Bachelor's Life


The real king of the castle.

Mrs Death is away for a time, so I'm taking the opportunity to restore the house to something resembling presentable. So far, I've dumped a couple of tons of clutter; overhauled the front and back porches; made over the kitchen, bathrooms, and living room; organized all my CDs, which have fallen into shocking disarray over a period of months; dusted, vacuumed, scrubbed, and mopped; and now, every time I mess it up, I clean it up. I suspect I could live like this and almost enjoy it.

Next job is to blow the leaves out of the yard and into the neighbors'.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

How High Is the Water, Mama?


Two feet high and rising....

Once it gets up onto the porch, it's as good as in the living room. Not much farther to go, as the picture shows. Lots of flooding in the area this morning. Went to the office, passing a couple of low-lying areas that are now officially lakes, only to find that the power had been knocked out. So we turned around and came home, but the wind and water are now threatening here, as well. No sign of it stopping for the next day or so, either.

I was thinking about piling the cats up in front of the front door like sandbags, but when I mentioned it, they looked at me askance, so for now I've abandoned the idea.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Rockin' Halloween and Then Some...

Been a couple of busy, busy weeks, at home and at work, so haven't taken the time to do much blogging. Halloween highlights included a mighty fun Fall Fest at the office, at which Ms. Kim Murphy and I made a scary racket pickin' and singin', and an excellent party at the residence of friends David and Karen Lewis, where the noise from the office fest was repeated—and then some. Halloween night, got with my friends, the Albaneses, in Martinsville and had a nice evening of dinner and movies.

This past weekend, I took a ride up to Woolwine, VA, for a bit of caching. Some excellent hiking up that way—and gorgeous weather for it. Warm and sunny weather, impressive scenery. Found cache #2098....

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Caching Copper?

I oftentimes end up hunting geocaches in the evening—sometimes fairly late—and tonight was no exception. I had just found a brand new one and was making to leave the site when I found myself surrounded by three sheriff's vehicles and several officers of the law. Evidently, copper thieves have been targeting the area, and it took the longest time for me to convince them I'd been hunting for a film canister, not copper wire. In the end, all was well, of course. And although it's kind of a pain to deal with, I'm rather glad to see the cops out there keeping an eye on the neighborhood. There's a lot worse things than me out there....

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Millin' and Chillin'


Hard to feature that it's come round time again to make our annual pilgrimage to Mabry Mill, on the Blue Ridge Parkway, near Meadows of Dan, VA. Mrs Death couldn't make it this year, but I headed up with our good friends, the Albaneses, and the meaner half of the Workmans, our next-door neighbors. The usual routine: get up and going a couple of hours before dawn, hit the road, and start grabbing geocaches. We snagged quite a few on the way, navigated through some very dense fog, and got to the mill restaurant right at 8:00 AM, when they opened. We were first in line and were soon chowing down on some fantabulous buckwheat, sweet potato, and cornmeal pancakes and sausage. Unfortunately, the thick mist turned to a pretty good rain, so we got rather damp while wandering along the walking trail on the mill grounds. Regardless, we managed to grab another nearby cache, and then we stopped to get pumpkins, apples, and cider at our traditional produce stand, just north of Stuart. In Stuart, we paid a visit to the Honduras Coffee Company shop, where I opted for a cup of damn fine Jamaican coffee. And hot!

After we parted company with the Albaneses in Martinsville, Mr. Workman and I made a run down to Kernersville for a regular crapload of geocaches. Grabbed a bunch, stopped for some Mexican food, and finally headed home. Not to end it all there, I went to see Paranormal Activity, which I enjoyed immensely. Apart from a few somewhat over-the-top moments that fell flat, it was one of the creepiest movies I've ever seen. Akin in its approach to The Blair Witch Project, it's many times more successful, with well-rendered camera-work and an effective, unsettling story. I loved it. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it's bound to hold up as one of my favorite horror films. An excellent show for the Halloween season! Check it out...

Mr. Rodan and Mr. TravelinFarmFam

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Back From Book 'Em


Young Adult author Liz Jones and the scary dude.

Returned from Waynesboro, VA, this evening, after a very fun and profitable weekend, participating at Book 'Em, the literacy benefit book fair I take part in each year, and hanging out with good friends Beth Massie, Cortney Skinner, and Elizabeth Jones. As I blogged previously, after selling out of my other titles at The Woods of Terror last week, I had only copies of Blue Devil Island and The Lebo Coven left for Book 'Em. Wonder of wonders, those sold out too, even though the crowd seemed smaller than it has in recent years. At least folks were buying books.

Last night, we watched a fun little movie by the legendary Larry (Lost Skeleton of Cadavra) Blamire titled, Meet the Mobsters, in which Beth and Cortney have parts as extras in several scenes. Quite the hoot.

Naturally, one of the highlights of the trip was finding 25 geocaches. Today, Cortney, Beth, and her son-in-law, Ben, came out with me, and we braved chilly temperatures, wind, and a spot of rain to find several. Enjoyed that little outing immensely.

All in all, a weekend well-spent.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Book 'Em 2009


If you're anywhere near Waynesboro, VA, this Saturday (10/17), come round to Book 'Em, the book fair to benefit literacy, at Kate Collins Middle School, from 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM. I'll have copies of The Lebo Coven and Blue Devil Island available. Alas, I won't have copies of Other Gods, thanks to selling out my supply at The Woods of Terror in Greensboro last weekend. Never expected that to happen! Not that I'm unhappy about it; only downside is that I couldn't get in new copies in time for this weekend. You can get more info on Book 'Em, including directions, right here: Book 'Em 2009.

Will be staying with Beth Massie & Cortney Skinner; I foresee some serious geocaching in the forecast, as well....

Friday, October 9, 2009

Terror in the Woods!


I imagine it's safe to say that your typical Halloween haunted trail, no matter how elaborate—such as The Woods of Terror on Church Street, just north of Greensboro—is hardly the place your typical horror writer—such as I—might expect to autograph a passel of his scary books. Most of the attendees are there to get their pants scared off on the trail itself and aren't really seeking out the latest in literary horror cuisine. But much to my delight, it proved to an exceptional evening. Hung out in the "Horror Museum" for about four hours and devalued a regular crapload of books with my signature. Oh, these poor people; they have no idea....

I didn't go out on the trail itself, not this time. However, the venue has been done up quite nicely since the last time I was out there—two years ago, I believe—and it really looks good. Before it's all over with, I might just have to pop out there again and see whether all those chainsaws really have been de-fanged. Some of the cute little teenage girls I encountered were horribly afraid they weren't.

I didn't have the heart to tell them they might actually escape unscathed. I mean, who wants to be a party pooper?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Pharaoh, a Blood Dance, and the Woods of Terror

I just received my author copy of the new Dark Shadows audio drama, Curse of the Pharaoh, which I wrote a while back for Big Finish Productions. It stars Nancy Barrett as Carolyn Stoddard and Marie Wallace as Dr. Gretchen Warwick, an Egyptologist. It's an excellent production, directed by Joe Salvatore. All parties involved did a fabulous job bringing the script to life. The acting, the sound effects, the pacing, and the musical score by Nigel Fairs all come together to excellent effect. This is my second Dark Shadows dramatic reading project, and it's exciting as all getout to hear it performed...especially during those moments when it exceeds my own imagination. You can order the CD (and soon the mp3 download) from the Big Finish Web site: Dark Shadows: Curse of the Pharaoh. It's very reasonably priced at $13, and that includes shipping.

Coincidentally, I just finished the first draft of my next script, tentatively titled Dark Shadows: Blood Dance. The story is set in the 1920s and features Quentin Collins as the main series star. It'll be some time before it actually happens, but I'm sure Big Finish will do their usual fine job with it.

This Friday (10-9-09), I'll be selling and signing books at the Woods of Terror on Church Street in Greensboro, NC, from 7 PM to 10 PM. Will have copies of Other Gods, The Lebo Coven, and Blue Devil Island. This a most elaborate and exciting haunted trail, and if you're in the area, come on around, so you can get scared as hell. I mean, that's what the season's all about, ain't it? Just do it.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Screw the Devil


Sunday afternoon, I took a break from working on my latest project—a script for a new Dark Shadows audio drama—to do a little caching. Headed down to the Devil's Tramping Ground, about 45 minutes south of here, with my neighbors Paul and Jamie, looking to pick up geocache #2,000.

The Devil's Tramping Ground is one of those fabled spots where nothing grows, and reportedly, if anything is left there overnight, it will mysteriously disappear. Well, I don't know about that, but after a solid hour of hunting, we were unable to turn up the cache. I suspect the devil stole it—probably disguised as Boy Scouts cleaning up trash in the area. The site itself is fairly unremarkable; if you didn't know it was the Devil's Tramping Ground, you'd mistake it for just another clearing—albeit in this case, a clearing with "Screw the Devil" etched in the ground.

Anyhoo, the afternoon was far from a waste. I picked up #2,000 at a nearby cemetery, so at least it was suitably grim (though the cache is called Scout's Honor—whoa). Have snagged a few caches since, so I'm on the journey to #3,000, which will no doubt be quite some time coming, since I've pretty much gotten all the local caches that don't require a bunch of traveling to get to.

So now, it's back to the script, which is progressing quite well...at least as far as ye humble author is concerned.

How about a little fire, Devil?

Grabbing cache #2,000

The nearby cemetery at Scout's Honor

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Louise Dombrowski

I've recently become completely re-enamored with Twin Peaks, which I dearly loved during its initial run and have felt a deep emotional connection to ever since. Actually, this is true of many of David Lynch's cinematic properties, but Twin Peaks is the one that seems to touch me at the deepest, most personal level.

Somehow, given the state of affairs in life these days, this scene with Ben and Jerry Horne sure hits home...




Love it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sunburn, Spiders, and Savannah


Have returned from a very relaxing trip to Hilton Head, SC, with Mrs Death and some good friends of ours from Chicago. Geocaches aplenty (right about 50, which gives me a total of 1,994), some good food and drink, and a wee bit of red skin. Nothing serious, as that 30-caliber sunscreen is kind of like wrapping one's self in an Egyptian burial shroud. Spent a day in Savannah, GA, in the historical district, which I really loved; always knew Savannah had a long and colorful history, but no idea how rich until we went on one of those touristy but enjoyable and informative trolley tours. Even managed to be productive—got several pages done on my new Dark Shadows script, which is due in the not-too-distant future.

One of the most impressive sights of the trip was the web of a nephila (golden orb) spider, which extended from the top of the second floor of an old house to the ground — about 20 ft. high and 15 ft. wide. The spider itself was almost the size of my hand. At least he was pretty far up there and disinclined to come down and pay me a visit. However, while hunting for a geocache in the woods, I was proceeding along leisurely, keeping my eyes on the ground, and when I looked up, there was a big old nephila spider, about six inches from my face. "Dude!" I cried, and backed up quickly. The spider had a very distinctive "M" on its abdomen, in a nice script font; something I would never have noticed had I not seen it at such uncomfortably close range.

One of the caches I hunted was guarded by an alligator. Fortunately, Mr. Gator contented himself out in the middle of his pond. He was probably quite full from the last cachers he et.

I figured that, after having had several days off from work, it would be smart to ease myself back into the schedule by taking the afternoon off today, but for unknown reasons, this idea didn't seem consistent with the boss's reasoning. Sheesh! Well, it was good while it lasted.

Monday, September 14, 2009

New DARK SHADOWS Dramas Forthcoming


Nancy Barrett and Marie Wallace in the studio, recording
Dark Shadows: Curse of the Pharaoh


Dark Shadows: Curse of the Pharaoh, the audio drama I wrote for Big Finish Productions, should be hitting the street any day now. It stars original TV-series cast members Nancy Barrett as Carolyn Stoddard and Marie Wallace as Egyptologist Gretchen Warwick.

From the Big Finish promo page:

"Marie Wallace is full of enthusiasm for her new character, Gretchen: 'When I received the script, I read it from beginning to end and was so intrigued by the character of Gretchen. She had all the qualities that make a person interesting, compelling, fascinating, and out of the ordinary. Such fun to play! And of course, to then work opposite Nancy Barrett, with whom I hadn’t been on camera for many a year, why, I couldn’t ask for anything more… Until the next script comes along!'"

For more news, including ordering info, about this and several forthcoming Dark Shadows audio dramas, visit the Big Finish news page.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

"Shapes in the Illusive Night" in INHUMAN #4


I'm thrilled to discover that artist and editor Allen Koszowski is publishing issue #4 of Inhuman magazine, to feature my short story, "Shapes in the Illusive Night." I had written the tale many years ago (2002, if I'm not mistaken), and Allen K. bought it for the magazine, but due to various situations, it looked entirely possible that Inhuman had met its demise. Happily, it has not, and I hope the publication will be back on track for a long, rewarding future. In its short run of three issues, it had become one of my all-time favorite small press endeavors. So good to see new life being breathed into it—and to be a part of the new issue. Check out Allen's Web site for more information and to order the issue: Allen K's Inhuman Magazine

Spent most of this week working on a possible new short story collection. Unfortunately, Mrs Death is not doing well, health-wise, which has been a major source of concern and slowed my work somewhat. But writing-wise, all is in good shape at the moment. Hoping and praying it will work that way for Mrs Death as well.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Belabored...


...mostly in a good way. Lots of activity keeping me busy — most notably, the possibility of a new short story collection and a new Dark Shadows audio drama script. Deadlines, as always, are a bit tight. Keeps me focused, I reckon...

The Labor Day weekend, at least, has been fairly relaxing. On Friday night, next-door neighbors Paul & Jamie and friend David Foxworth went out on an excellent night-caching run to Lake Higgins. Love hitting the trail to find night caches; such unique character and atmosphere. Then, Saturday, Paul accompanied me to Martinsville for a big caching trip. Stayed at my mom's, found caches in Danville, Martinsville, and Eden; hiked, hiked, and hiked; then we did some hiking. Holy cows...the feetses were a little sore. But then today, went with Paul and his lovely wife Jamie to Gibson Park, over near High Point, and hiked...hiked...hiked...and hiked — yes, you guessed it, for a passel of caches. Undertook numerous enjoyable terrain challenges, found some cool loot, and drank a few beers. No complaints about any of that. Not one bit.

The feetses, though, kinda ache.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

CURSE OF THE PHARAOH Available for Pre-Order


The newest Dark Shadows audio drama, Curse of the Pharaoh, which I wrote for Big Finish Productions, is now up for pre-order: DS: COTP. Should be out within the next few weeks; if this one follows the manner of previous releases, when you order the CD, you also get to download it for free so you can listen to it as soon as it's available. Curse of the Pharaoh stars original TV series cast members Nancy Barrett as Carolyn Stoddard and Marie Wallace as Egyptologist Gretchen Warwick.

It's very reasonably priced at $13.00, and Big Finish is very good about shipping items promptly. The audio dramas are stand-alone productions, but having prior knowledge of the Dark Shadows storyline doesn't hurt, of course. On the whole, Big Finish has outdone themselves on the production of these, with great performances, sound effects, and new music. Needless to say, I recommend 'em. For more info on the story, you can check out the preview page on my Web site: Dark Shadows: Curse of the Pharaoh.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Monsters, Music, and Mayhem


Back in July, a couple of aging juvenile delinquents who weren't able to travel to Chicago to attend G-Fest (G for Godzilla, of course) got together for a mini G-Fest here at home. Mr. Bill Mann and I watched few daikaiju flicks and exchanged a relatively large number of phrases and sentences—at least a few of them immaculately constructed—on the subject of giant monsters. We enjoyed the whole business so much we decided that we could stand to do it again. So yesterday, we did this thing, adding to the guest list one Mr. Wayne Miller (whose extraordinary artwork graces the cover of my fiction collection, Other Gods, among many other books and periodicals).

We partook of some gems and some things other, including Godzilla: Final Wars, Attack of the Crab Monsters, and Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G8 Summit! I've seen Godzilla: Final Wars many times now, and I find it an almost perfectly balanced film: for its every excellent aspect, it features another that is correspondingly abysmal. Attack of the Crab Monsters is a hoot, and probably the most enjoyable of the bunch. It was nice to see the thing in its entirety after having slept through portions of it when it ran on late-night TV a couple of years back (Crab Attack). As for Monster X Strikes Back...occasionally, it had us in stitches, though most of the time we pretty much gaped in horror at what had been wrought. I mean, goodness gracious me.

There was food in abundance here, and the monsters were free to eat as much of it as we could catch. It was another fine time, so I foresee yet another Mini G-Fest over the not-so-distant horizon.

Then it was off to Winston-Salem to catch my brother perform a show at the Garage (same venue where my friend Kim and I occasionally make noise). Lots of good music and company. Ended the evening by going caching on my way home—and as has become typical for my urban cache outings, particularly this late-night stuff, I had the pleasure of explaining geocaching to a sheriff's deputy. She was very thorough in checking me out (which I consider a reasonable thing—it means the police are doing their jobs), but also very understanding and quite taken with the idea of caching. Perhaps we have another convert. Anyhoo, got in about 2:00 A.M., after a most gratifying day. Every now and then, it just pays to have one of these.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Dammit...


Not sure who opened the floodgates, but in recent days, our place seems to have become a feral cat hotel. Three or four started coming around a couple of months ago, including a white Persian who is wilder and more ornery than a mountain lion (see pic above). Another one was obviously pregnant, but we haven't seen her in quite a while, and we hoped she might have managed to find greener pastures. Well...who knows...but three kittens suddenly appeared on our back porch the other day, and the white Persian—who is obviously not the mother but possibly the father—seems to have adopted the little things. They're such beautiful critters, but truly wild and very easily spooked; we really can't even get near them without them either running away or clawing us. I hate the idea of them starving to death, so we've started leaving some food out—yeah, I know, I know—but if it's even possible to round them up, I expect we'll have to get them to the Humane Society or something. It breaks my heart to see these animals abandoned and left to their own devices...and there are so many of them around now. The bad thing is that we're not in a position to take in more than the three cats we already have, and our spoiled domestics would certainly not mix well with these beasts.

So. Dammit.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Kind of a Kalem Klub


Joe "The Pulverizer" Pulver and Robert M. Price

Mr. Price and Helix the Cat—a rare delicacy

Spent an enjoyable weekend in Selma, NC, at the Price abode, which played host to Lovecraftian comrades-in-arms Joe Pulver and that Mr. Deathrealm dude. Good eats, good yakking, and good DVDs, including The Mist and a biopic of H. P. Lovecraft, which featured the likes of Peter Straub, Neil Gaiman, Caitlin Kiernan, Ramsey Campbell, John Carpenter, Stuart Gordon, and Mr. Price himself. Not as much sleep happening as most old farts prefer....

And 44 caches grabbed betwixt coming and going. Most satisfying.

This weekend was also the 23rd wedding anniversary for Mrs Death and me. We did manage to get in some quality time together and lament the senseless death of so many years. How do these horrific things happen, one must wonder....

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Find the Horror...


A short while back, Tim Deal of Shroud Publications asked several author/geocachers around the country to place geocaches containing some nice Shroud-related prizes. It's a neat idea, so I was happy to contribute one of the hides. It's #4, titled "Crowley," and it's located...not too far from where I reside.

Come and find it...if you dare. The coordinates for all the caches may be found here: Shroud Publications' Find the Horror

Some hints are included. If you're looking for Crowley and need help, drop me a line.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Young 'Uns


A pleasant weekend visit from Allison, our young'un, and her friend Larry. Watched a couple of Asian gore flicks—Takashi Miike's Ichi the Killer and a Thai rip-off of Ju-On called Sick Nurses—neither of which were very good, but provided reasonably entertaining diversions during the evening. For her birthday, Mrs Death had gotten a 90-inch inflatable pool, which is a weird damned thing, but we lounged in it last night and rather enjoyed it. Good eating, a spot of drinking (for some—no names mentioned—more than a spot), and good weather made for a right relaxing weekend.

Also posted a few of auctions on Ebay that might be of interest to horror and giant monster fans:

1) Three classic issues of Whispers magazine
2) Five issues of Weird Tales
3) Five Toho SF/Godzilla books

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Bit of the Racket...


...from open-mic night at The Garage, Winston-Salem, NC, 8-5-09. Kim Murphy and that dude performing Tindersticks' "Traveling Light."



Better quality here, though the first minute of the song is truncated: Traveling Light

Sunday, August 2, 2009

New Interview in VORTEX Magazine


Vortex magazine interviewed me a few weeks ago about Dark Shadows: Curse of the Pharaohs, the new audio drama script I wrote for Big Finish Productions. The issue is now out, and the online version (PDF) can be found here: Rainey Days (the interview begins on page 12). The audio drama is due to be released later this month, and stars Nancy Barrett as Carolyn Stoddard and Marie Wallace as Professor Gretchen Warwick. Can't say much about the storyline, but it involves Egyptology, love and revenge, and the Great Old Ones. More on that soon....

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Old Fiends is Good Fiends


The weekend's theme has been rather fiendish, actually. Friday night, Mrs Death and I got together with some old friends of mine, whom I think I've seen all of twice in the last 25 years. Talk about ghosts from the past! It was Mr Vance Pitzer's birthday, so he's now been made to feel appropriately aged, I do believe. Unfortunately, our mutual friends, the Albaneses, had issues that prevented them coming to the gathering, but we sort of rectified that last night. I had spent the afternoon placing a couple of new geocaches with spooky themes ("The Chatmoss Ghost" and "Sticks," based on Karl Edward Wagner's horror story of the same name), and so Joe, Suzy, and Sam went out into the deep, dark woods and found those little scary boxes.

One evening back in 1982, Mr Pitzer (pictured above, along with his lovely wife Kathy and some dude)—along with several other young friends (a few of whom were minors at the time) went to Pizza Hut. We ordered a pitcher of beer, but since there were minors at the table, the restaurant staff said they couldn't serve us any beer. Suitably indignant, Vance says to the waitress, "Don't you know who I am?" Unimpressed, she shakes her head. "I'm Mr Pitzer. My dad owns Pitzer Hut."

Needless to say, we got that pitcher of beer.

Monday, July 27, 2009

I'm Not Sure When I Became a Masochist....

Actually, yes I am. It was about the time I discovered that with a hand-held GPS, I could go out into the woods and find cool little boxes of crap. Since yesterday, I'd been feeling none-too-swell—headache, lethargy, somewhat feverish. Figured it might be a bug coming on. Well, by late this afternoon, I started feeling a bit more spry, so what did I do? I went out to Mackintosh Park in eastern Guilford County and hiked the three-mile loop trail. With all the side trips and backtracking to hunt the thirteen caches out yonder, it was easily four miles plus.

It's pretty hot and humid out there; no big deal. But as I near the farthest point, the sky darkens and thunder begins booming in the distance. I walk faster. After a time, the clouds break and the sun comes out again—ever so briefly. Then the thunder returns with renewed vigor. Mercy! Quite the artillery battle going on upstairs—and getting constantly closer. Sky turning darker. It's like night in the woods, and by now, I'm hustling to one cache after another, finding them lickety-split, and frantically signing the logs, hoping that maybe...just maybe...I might beat the nasty storm all too evidently on the way. Ah, well; I have a poncho in my backpack. I can at least keep my phone, GPS, camera, and most of me dry. So I press on.

Finally...down to one more cache on the list. But the most recent logs indicate that several hunters couldn't find it. Then, within a tenth of a mile of the target...oh, hell...the bottom drops out. Rain comes down in sheets and buckets, with a sound like a tornado. Lightning flashing and thunder booming. I'm so close to the parking lot now—less than a quarter mile—breaking out the poncho seems pointless.

Fortunately, I manage to stuff my electronic gadgets into the backpack and close it up before anything is ruined. Me, though...well, by the time I see the Rodan Mobile in the distance, I'm doing my all-time best impersonation of a drowned rat.

Well, at least I grabbed an even dozen geocaches, which was what it was all about anyway....

And an afternoon like this one prompts me to count my blessings that I can come out of the rain and into a nice dry house. A house filled with cats.

But...oh, God. I'm very late getting home, the missus is asleep, and the cats haven't been fed.

I have almost recovered from the stampede....


Three miles or one? Come on, don't be silly....


A nice view across the lake


Shortcut? (Snicker)


One mile down.


Near the midpoint.


Two miles down.


Getting dark and kind of eerie.


A nice little fellow.


Quarter mile to go. Almost there....


At last...the drowned rat reaches the end....