Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Killer Cicadas Take the Airwaves

Thursday, July 31, at 5:30 PM, Mat and Myron Smith, along with special guests — including ye old man — from their movie, Invasion of the Killer Cicadas, will be airing on The Jamie Walker Show on Martinsville, VA's WYAT TV-40. People outside of the Martinsville area can now watch the show on YouTube.

The show will feature interviews, photos, video clips, and more from Invasion of the Killer Cicadas. The movie premieres at the Rives Theater in Martinsville on August 9 at 7:00 PM. Note: in southwestern VA, you can watch WYAT TV-40 on Channel 99 on Comcast Cable.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

High Upon Dragon's Tooth

A couple of miles into the hike, just under a mile from the summit. At the end of it all,
I don't think any of us looked quite this fresh and enthusiastic.
Old Rodan is tired and sore, and — until that most welcome shower — all-too-recently soaking wet and filthy dirty. This morning, I headed up to Dragon's Tooth on the Appalachian Trail, just northwest of Roanoke, and met up with a number of Virginia-based geocachers to hike up to the summit. Back in the 1990s, when my brother lived up that way, we spent countless hours roaming around the countryside there, but we never did go up to Dragon's Tooth — silly us. From the parking area along Highway 311, it's roughly a six-mile round trip to and from the top, and about three feet of the journey is on smooth, level ground. The mile just before the summit is steep, rocky, and frequently requires one to use both hands and feet to make the ascent. We did this in 100% humidity with occasional rain squalls, so those rocks tended to be slick and treacherous. By the time we reached the top of the ridge, there was not a one of us that wasn't soaked to the skin with sweat and/or rainwater.
Bound for glory, or something such.

The formations and view from Dragon's Tooth are spectacular. From the parking area, the elevation change is about 1,100 feet, and the main two Tuscarora quartzite spires at the summit each rise about 35 feet, at almost 90-degree angles from the surrounding terrain. Some of our number — mainly the younger ones — clambered all the way up to the crest of the biggest and sharpest tooth, while at least one of us older folk settled for tromping out on one of blunter molars — itself not a trivial formation, and guaranteed to send you to your death if you're not cautious along its edge. Needless to say, there were caches to be found on this excursion, and find them we did — only three for me today, but a trip such as this is all about quality over quantity, and that much we surely got.

Most interestingly, three of the group — "Kivotos" (a.k.a Noah) and "Fishercachers" (Leif and Bobbie) — are from Waynesboro, VA, and are acquainted with my good friends, writer Elizabeth Massie and artist Cortney Skinner, who are themselves avid geocachers. Geocaching communities do tend to overlap a lot, since most cachers end up traveling and meeting other cachers in oftentimes faraway places. That's just one of many very gratifying aspects of geocaching.

Click on images to enlarge.
The easy part of the hike

A less-easy part of the hike.
Homestyle on the rocks
Down in the valley, valley so low — viewed from my perch on the "molar."

Mountain goats
The road barely visible at the base of the ridge is Newport Road, where my
brother lived a couple of decades ago.
"Hey, Rodan! Does this rock make my butt look big?" Well, that's what Audra
hollered from up there, yes she did.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

High in Alamance County

It's one of those days that's too nice not to go geocaching, so I went geocaching — all around Alamance County, next door, in the company of my good friend Bridget "Suntigres" Langley. There's a relatively recent set of six caches over that way, each at one of the various branches of the Alamance County Public Library. It turned out to be an excellent little series, with several clever hides, none very difficult but all far more enjoyable than your garden variety park-and-grab cache. A few other new, well-placed caches made it a fruitful and highly enjoyable day. Tree-climbing has always among the old dude's favorite activities, and as you might deduce from the photos above, one of the caches along the Haw River Trail (GC5704W) provided the perfect outlet for that particular urge.
A good 1.5 inches long, this
rotten-ass fly-beast.

Another favorite was a new multi called "The Code" (GC57YFF) placed by frequent caching companion Robbin "Rtmlee" Lee at his own place of business. To even get past the first stage, one needs to utilize an app on a smart phone, and once you do, you're in for a big treat — providing you can figure out the "code" the app reveals to you. At another cache, we encountered the landowner, who had no idea there was a cache hidden at his place (generally a big no-no) but who, it turns out, was a good friend of one of our local diehard geocachers and quite familiar with our peculiar little hobby. He was fine with the container being hidden where it is and called his friend to let him know there was caching to be done — which is, to my mind, far more sporting than threatening to whack geocachers with a lawnmower blade.

No summer day in the south is complete without all kinds of critters in evidence. At the aforementioned cache, not only the landowner, but a very friendly snake came along to watch what we were doing. At another, a horsefly approximately the size of Rodan the Flying Monster gave us the compound eye but — fortunately — otherwise let us be. I say fortunately because he was so big and ferocious-looking that a close encounter with him would have amounted to a bad end for one of us.

Indeed, a highly satisfying day on the caching trail. Some of those Alamance County folks have their creative brains engaged. Always welcome.

Click images to enlarge.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Killer Cicadas Premiere — August 9, 2014

Invasion of the Killer Cicadas, the latest bit of indie movie mayhem from the evil Smith brothers, Mat & Myron, is coming to the Rives Theater in Martinsville, VA, on Saturday, August 9, at 7:00 PM. Ye old man has a small part as mad professor Dr. Werner von Schwartztotten, the evil genius behind the killer cicadas, and Kimberly "Ms. B." Brugger gets to show just what she's made of in a killer hot tub scene. If you're anywhere in the area, by all means, come round and get in on the monster action. Tickets cost $7.50 and must be purchased in advance — and they're going faster than fast. They're still available from several businesses in Martinsville, including What's Your Sign and Stafford's Music, and online from Or contact Mat Smith or Myron Smith directly (via Facebook) for fast personal service.

Trailer 1 for Invasion of the Killer Cicadas.

I have just finished the novelization of Mat & Myron's first movie, Young Blood: Evil Intentions, which was released just over a year ago. Recently, the gentlemen producers decided the real events behind the movie needed to told, and I was the nearest person who might be able to actually make that happen. So, yeah... done and done. The book will be coming out soon enough, so mind your necks, good people.

Bloody well right.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Summer of Lovecraft

I has a happy! My story, "Short Wave," has been accepted for the upcoming anthology, The Summer of Lovecraft, edited by Brian Sammons and Glynn Owen Barrass. It's a collection of stories set in the 1960s, which, needless to say, is the decade of my most formative years. My story is set in July 1969, just after the Apollo 11 moon landing. As a fun coincidence, my acceptance note came on the exact date — plus 45 years — that the events take place in the tale.

Table of Contents:
"Night Trippers" — Lois H. Gresh
"Crystal Blue Persuasion" — Jeffrey Thomas
"Being for the Benefit of Mr. Sullivan" — Lee Clark Zumpe
"Dreamland" — David Dunwoody
"Lost In the Poppy-Fields of Flesh" — Konstantine Paradias
"Five To One" — Edward M. Erdelac
"Keeping the Faith" — Sam Stone
"Mud Men" — Sean Hoade
"Misconception" — Jamie D. Jenkins
"No Colors Anymore" — Joe L. Murr
"Operation Alice" — Pete Rawlik
"Shimmer and Sway" — Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
"Short Wave" — Stephen Mark Rainey
"Project AZAZEL" — Christopher Slatsky
"The Song that Crystal Sang" — Tom Lynch
"Through a Looking Glass Darkly" — Glynn Owen Barrass & Brian M. Sammons
"The Color from the Deep" — William Meikle
"The Long Fine Flash" — Edward Morris
"The Summer of Love" — C. J. Henderson
"Wonder and Glory Forever" — Scott R Jones
"Just Another Afternoon in Arkham, Brought to You in Living Color" — Mark McLaughlin & Michael Sheehan, Jr.

The book is slated to be published by Chaosium in 2015. Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Universe is Doomed...

...and it's my fault. Well, sort of. Let me tell you about it.

My kitchen garbage disposal has acted up lately, requiring the motor to be cranked and reset. To do this, one needs an Allen wrench. Lacking one of sufficient size, I booked on over to Lowe's, purchased a set, and figured I was good to go. And in a healthy, normal, sane universe, by rights, I would have been.

It happened thusly:

I inserted a quarter-inch Allen wrench into the socket in the bottom of the disposal unit. It fit nicely, so I attempted to turn it counter-clockwise, in prescribed fashion. Alas, the damned thing wouldn't budge. I gave it another good tug, and the freaking Allen wrench slipped out of my hand and vanished into the darkness of the cabinet beneath the sink. Oddly, it made no sound. You'd think nice-sized hunk of metal making contact with any number of hard surfaces would make a racket. But it didn't.

I proceeded to remove some items from the cabinet. Boxes of aluminum foil, waxed paper, sandwich bags, and garbage bags. Bottles of cleaning solutions, bug spray, lamp oil. A basket of dust rags, steel wool, and Swiffer cleaning pads. Vases. Jars. Where did all this stuff come from? What do you know — there's that can of WD-40 I'd been looking for a while back.

The Allen wrench is nowhere to be seen.

OUT comes everything. Every last item in the cabinet. I'm shaking out rags, dumping sandwich bags out of their boxes, unrolling foil and waxed paper... searching, searching, searching... and I'm yelling, "Where are you, you vile fuck?" I check the rug around the outside of the cabinet. Under the kitchen table. Around the refrigerator. In my shoes.

The damned thing isn't there. It isn't anywhere.

Suffice it to say, there was not one item, not one object, not one space I didn't turn inside out looking for that Allen wrench. There is but one explanation, and that is that the little metal bastard slipped into a wormhole and is now drifting through parallel time and space, aimed at the center of everything, where it's going to collide with something and destroy reality as we know it. And you're all gonna blame me. Look, I'm telling you, I'm sorry, I hunted EVERYWHERE, and it still disappeared.

So, prepare yourselves; this the end coming... unless Droolie somehow happens upon the thing. Wouldn't surprise me if I get up some morning, and the little fuck wrench will be on the kitchen floor because Droolie has managed to fish it out of some nonexistent dimension.

On the up side, I then tried a metric Allen wrench — the 6mm, I think — and it worked like a charm. At least, when the universe goes, I can grind up all the pieces in the garbage disposal. And I have a very clean and nicely organized kitchen cabinet.

I guess that's the way to go.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Congregating Divine Llamas

I spent most of this weekend over in Winston Salem at ConGregate 2014, which turned out to be a decent little con. It was run by many longtime organizers of StellarCon and other local conventions, so there was plenty of prior experience and talent to keep the machine running smoothly. Programming was varied and ran on time, attendance appeared fair-to-middlin', and as far as the convention area went, the Marriott hotel was great. Can't speak about its other services, as I didn't stay overnight, but for an event such as this one, it appears worth returning to. Downtown Winston has plentiful restaurants, bars, and parking, and the hotel is easily accessible, even with lots of other events happening in the area, as there clearly were this weekend.

I had a fairly long break between panels yesterday during the day, so after wandering about the con for a while, mostly in the dealers' room, I headed out geocaching. I had already cleared out most of downtown Winston some time ago, so I had to go a bit farther afield for the majority of them — and since it was bleepin' hotter than Looney's little brother out there, it is well that I brought a change of clothes. One particular favorite hide was "Odd Fellows Cemetery" (GC54BNM), near the Liberty Classic Fairgrounds, which is one atmospheric, haunted-looking place. The cache is a multi, requiring the hunter to find information from a certain gravestone to determine the coordinates to final stage, which lurks nearby. Not far from that one, there is another neat little graveyard cache, "Peace at Last" (GC40B0X), which Ms. B. and I visited on our way out to Divine Llama Vineyards, in East Bend, just a short jaunt over from Winston Salem.

There are, in fact, llamas at the winery, though we didn't see any this time around. They do have a wine club one can join for a modest fee, and one of the perks is a llama tour — you get to load up your necessities on a llama's back and take a tour of the entire vineyard. All their wines are made from grapes grown there, and while their selection is modest, the quality is generally quite good. Brugger and I were most taken with their Reserve Cabernet Franc, so we sat in the shade of the front porch and shared a bottle, which proved to be the highlight of the day, despite the muggy heat. Afterward, we returned to downtown Winston and had a very enjoyable dinner at Hutch & Harris Pub — their Southside burger, with pimento cheese, applewood-smoked bacon, and jalapeno peppers absolutely sold me. Ms. B. had their Steakhouse burger, with horseradish, mushrooms, and onions, also more than satisfactory.

Finished the evening with a reading ("I, Krall," actually one of my oldest stories), and a late-night panel ("I'm Friends With the Monster Under My Bed"). After all this, the old man was exhausted, so it was back home to crash with my own bunch of monsters, who menaced me with hollering and meowing until I gave them extra food as recompense for having left them alone all day.

A view of the graves at Odd Fellows Cemetery
A convention bonus: false eyelash on the floor of the men's restroom
Tasting room at Divine Llama Vineyards

Friday, July 4, 2014

White Pines Tree Monkeys

(Or "Team Old Fart Rides Again")

There's almost nothing better for Independence Day than a nice geocaching trip with Rob "Robgso" Isenhour and Rob "Rtmlee" Lee — heretofore and generally known as "Team Old Fart." Today, it was off to the White Pines Nature Preserve, just south of Pittsboro, NC. The preserve occupies about 275 acres at the confluence of the Deep River and Rocky River, with terrain varying from steep, densely wooded slopes characteristic of the Uhwharrie mountains to low-lying coastal swamp. Ten geocaches hide back in this area, and, most happily, we found the lot of them. A couple of the tougher ones stymied us so that we almost called it quits on our hunts for them, but in the end perseverance paid off. One of the most enjoyable of the bunch required me to play spider monkey and make my way up a tree to a pretty fair altitude. Fortunately, I did this without breaking my head or any other bones, and that makes for a good day.

Afterward, we snagged several other caches, a couple at a little park in Pittsboro where we found ourseves being watched by a big honking chimpanzee. No joke.

For the evening, there were hot dogs, drinks, and fireworks with Ms. Brugger and friends Doug, Jenny, and Chad. The neighborhood where Doug and Jenny live is apparently quite keen on big fireworks displays — in the end, far better than going to any of the local "official" fireworks.

Live free and climb trees.
Two-thirds of Team Old Fart
Nice river view
Random picture of chimpanzee in a park
Brugger carries a torch

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

ConGregate 2014

Next weekend — July 11–24 — I'll be a guest at ConGregate, a new speculative fiction convention held in Winston-Salem, NC, at the downtown Marriott hotel. I'll be participating in several panel discussions, helping out with Allen Wold's "Famous writing workshop" (which has limited room for attendees and requires advance sign-up) and reading one of my very scary short stories. Schedule for the weekend is as follows:

Friday, July 11
8:00 PM: "Writing the 'Other'" (with Edmund Schubert, John Hartness, Debra Killeen, Nicole Givens Kurtz)

Saturday, July 12
9:00 AM: "Allen Wold's Famous Writing Workshop" (pre-registration required; with Allen Wold, Darcy Wold, Diana Bastine, Edmund Schubert)

10:00 PM: Reading ("The Jack-o'-Lantern Memoirs")

11:00 PM: "I'm Friends With the Monster Under My Bed" (moderating; with Gail Z. Martin, Tony Ruggerio)

Sunday, July 13
10:00 AM: "Allen Wold's Famous Writing Workshop Recap" (pre-registration required; Allen Wold, Darcy Wold, Diana Bastine)

For more information about the con, visit

Join us.