Thursday, August 24, 2023

The Faux Frontier?

Back in July, around the anniversary of the first moon landing, I read a bunch of articles about Apollo 11 and the space program in general.

Since then — shock of shocks — my social media news feeds are almost all space stuff. Some is just clickbait, but I’ve also come across some cool and informative stuff.

Among the most ubiquitous “stuff” I see on the subject would be the thundering chorus of voices railing about how the moon landings — even the space program itself — were all a big hoax. These are inevitably pitched with the same fervor (and credibility) of the Flat Earthers. Clearly, there have been conspiracy theories of this nature since before Neil Armstrong even set foot on the lunar surface, but I confess I’ve actually been surprised by how pervasive this nonsense has become (and I’m generally pretty hard to surprise when it comes to the pervasive tentacles of the Idiocracy).

No doubt, a huge percentage of this shrillness comes from mere trolls, whose rate of reproduction on the interwebz rivals the world’s busiest rabbit hutch. Trolls in any field will latch onto almost anything to justify their otherwise meaningless existences. Still, the apparent genuine belief in such conspiracies far exceeds what I might have otherwise guessed, even in the present-day world of a la carte conspiracy theories for each day of the week.

Most telling, almost without exception, the “proof” that these adherents cite for their belief is “Go look it up for yourself! You’ll see!”

Yeah. Over my many, many years as an avid outer space nut, I’ve looked. And looked. And looked. It goes without saying that the preponderance of evidence is so heavily weighted to the landings’ veracity that even scratching its surface fills volumes (and the opposite is true; I’ve yet to find any sufficiently compelling contradictory evidence; such outlets for such “evidence” typically offer all the credibility of BuzzFeed or InfoWars). So much evidence in the “FOR” column, physical and otherwise, has been verified by non-NASA sources, particularly internationally (for God’s sake, the Soviets acknowledged it when acknowledging such a defeat was, for them, all but unthinkable) that evidence in the “AGAINST” column would have to be pretty staggering. If you can point me to it, have at it.

One of my favorite articles on this phenomenon that I came across is “How Stanley Kubrick Staged the Moon Landing” in The Paris Review. Informative and fun.

Anyhoo, since the July 20, I’ve been on a pretty good space movie kick. 2001: A Space Odyssey, 2010, Apollo 13, Apollo 18, Europa Report, and others — not to mention keeping up, or trying to, with all the Star Trek and Star Wars spinoffs. I might even work in Capricorn I if I can stream it for free somewhere.

Monday, August 21, 2023

Deathrealm: Spirits Cover Reveal

As promised — the Deathrealm: Spirits cover reveal. Art by J Edward Neill.

From soft, dreadful whispers to high, chilling screams, a chorus of hellish voices emerges from the darkness to lure and draw you back to their hellish home — The Land Where Horror Dwells.

Deathrealm magazine was one of the most celebrated horror publications of the 20th Century, and now its creator brings you a new volume of fiction and verse for the 21st Century and beyond. Deathrealm: Spirits features 20 new ghostly stories (and poems) by some of the best to have ever written in the genre, including...

Linda D. Addison
Meghan Arcuri
Larry Blamire
Maurice Broaddus
Heather D. Daughrity
Timothy G. Huguenin
Brian Keene
Ronald Kelly
Joe R. Lansdale
Kasey Lansdale
Eric LaRocca
Patricia Lee Macomber
Elizabeth Massie
Bridgett Nelson
Errick Nunnally
Jeff Oliver
Jessica Amanda Salmonson
Richard Thomas
Tony Tremblay
David Niall Wilson

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Dark Corners of the Old Dominion Now Available for Pre-Order!

DARK CORNERS OF THE OLD DOMINION, coming in September from Death Knell Press, is now available for preorder!

Edited by Joe Maddrey & Michael Rook, this one features my story, "Doom at Dragon's Roost" as well as frightening tales by 22 other Virginia authors. Dangerous destinations, myths, and monsters from the Commonwealth’s past, present, and future lie in wait for you here...

Forward by Brian Keene. Proceeds go to Scares That Care!

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Movin’ On

Casa di Rodan, 1994–2023
After nearly three decades of living in the same house in Greensboro, NC, I have bid the old place adieu. Casa di Rodan (1994–2023) is now sold. It officially belongs to someone else. Brugger and I are more or less settled in my old family house in Martinsville, VA (although the place is still very much in a state of transition — and for cats, a state of confusion). We have a host of reasons for making this move, but the single most significant is the Great Sewer Line Debacle of 2023, from back in March. Because of that single, massive expense, something had to give.

After inheriting my childhood home when Mom died in 2020, I had hoped to keep both it and the Greensboro residence for as long as possible. However, after spending so much money on that accursed sewer line, holding onto both was no longer financially feasible. It wasn’t all that difficult for Brugger and me to determine that keeping the Martinsville house (which Mom called “Pleasant Hill” but that I officially dubbed “Ground Zero”) made the most sense.

And so it is.

I love the prospect of occupying my old childhood home full-time, though I can’t say I don’t have mixed emotions about the whole business. I moved with my ex-wife into the Greensboro house back in 1994, and we lived there together until our separation and subsequent divorce well over a decade ago. For the next ten years, the cats and I lived in the house as a happy family unit. In 2021, Brugger and I married, and we all became a happier family unit. We immediately set to refurbishing the whole house, which proved to be a long, extensive, and not inexpensive job. Despite the house being relatively small and somewhat cramped, we figured we were set there for a long, long time.


Especially during the solo years (well, solo with cats) and the days with Brugger there, I lived some mighty happy times. Hell, even my ex-wife, Peg, and I shared some enjoyable moments in the old place. My tenure there is the longest I’ve ever lived in one place, so I guess I can’t help having developed some attachment to the dwelling. Still, as the negative aspects of staying there have piled up, Ms. B. and I look forward to moving on to this next stage of life, however long it lasts. I’m not that young, and, well, even at the best of times, you never know how things are gonna shake out.

So, there it is. Huzzah. Brugger and I still have many friends in, and solid ties to, NC’s Triad, so it’s not like we’re going to be strangers to the area. Just to the former Casa di Rodan, I reckon.

It’s out with the old and in with the new (or older with a facelift, as it were). Onward and upward, and all that. Or wherever life sees fit to lead us.

Ground Zero

Friday, August 11, 2023

Coming Soon — The Weird Cat!

The Weird Cat is a new anthology edited by Katherine Kerestman and S.T. Joshi, which features — among a stellar list of both classic and contemporary authors of dark fiction — my short story, “Nimbus.” I do not exaggerate when I tell you that this is one of my most unsettling and emotionally engaging works of fiction. The book, due in October from WordCrafts Press, is now available for pre-order from Barnes & Noble and

“...Cats dwell in a larger world than our own — the gulfs and abysses of which we can obtain but a shadowy glimpse. In The Weird Cat, you delve into that larger realm through more than three dozen short stories, poems, and essays by masters of the craft including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling, H.P. Lovecraft, Mary A. Turzillo, Christina Sng, Darrell Schweitzer, and others.”

Complete list of authors in The Weird Cat:
 Ambrose Bierce  Algernon Blackwood  William Blake  Adam Bolivar  Ramsey Campbell  Lewis Carroll  Frank Coffman  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle  Lord Dunsany  Jason C. Eckhardt  Alan Dean Foster  Brandon R. Grafius  Lafcadio Hearn  Katherine Kerestman  Caitlin R. Kiernan  Rudyard Kipling  Tony LaMalfa  Lori R. Lopez  H.P. Lovecraft  E. Nesbit  Elliott O'Donnell • Manuel Perez-Campos  Michael Potts  Stephen Mark Rainey  Rainer Maria Rilke  Sax Rohmer  Hank Schwaeble  Darrell Schweitzer  Robert W. Service  M.P. Shiel  Christina Sng  Anna Taborska  Mary Turzillo  M.F. Webb  W.B. Yeats Cover art by Mike Parks

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Midland or (Damn Near) Bust!

Our typical view forward (from a standstill) for a disgusting percentage of our 750-mile drive to Michigan
Thursday, August 3–Friday, August 4
Kimberly B.’s cousins in Michigan had planned a family reunion for this weekend, and so we decided some time ago that we would attend. With flights being crazy expensive, we opted to drive, as we have several times in the past. What we hadn’t done was drive to Michigan at the height of highway construction season. Our plan was similar to our previous road trips here: leave home and head to Ripley, WV; stay the night at the handy-dandy Super 8 Motel there; and then drive the rest of the way the following day. Ordinarily, this makes for a 12- to 14-hour trip, including occasional stops. Thanks to countless construction holdups, the inevitable accidents, and miles-long traffic jams courtesy of too many motherfucking people, we ended up with a damn near 18-hour drive.

Bloody exhausting. At least I managed to find a handful of decent geocaches along the way, and we listened to an audiobook (Casino Royale) and some fun 70s and 80s music to mitigate the frustration. It rained most of the way on Thursday, but at least it wasn’t blinding. Friday’s drive felt like the endless traffic jam from hell since we easily spent as much time crawling (or motionless) as we did moving at a clip. After a particularly egregious delay just north of Ann Arbor, Brugger suggested we stop at a nearby Mexican Restaurant and have an early dinner (along with a margarita for good measure). That was just enough to help us mellow out, and, finally, we made that last couple of hours to her folks’ place in Midland without undue delay.

Saturday, August 5
The family reunion was to kick off at noon, so at 11:30 a.m., Kimberly, Del, Fern, and I set out for the backcountry around Loomis, MI, about a half hour from Midland. I’d met only a couple of her cousins before, so for me, this was mostly a gathering of strangers, but the decent food and company made for a relaxing enough event.

This date is my dear, late friend “Old Rob” Isenhour’s birthday, so a while back, friend Scott (a.k.a. Diefenbaker) and I organized a geocaching event to be held today to commemorate his life and myriad contributions to our geocaching community. At the time, I didn’t recall our commitment to Ms. B’s family reunion. So, since I couldn’t attend Rob’s birthday event in person, Scott arranged for me to pipe in with a video call at 2:00 p.m. As the reunion drew to a close, I hoofed it down the long dirt road to a find nearby geocache, and at ground zero, I attempted to make the call. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t go through. Fortunately, once we got back to Casa di Brugger, the call worked, so Ms. B. and I were able to virtually attend the event for a time. It turned out to be the biggest gathering of local geocachers in years, featuring many old-timers who haven’t been active in years. That warmed my old heart since Rob had been such a noteworthy figure, both in my life and in our community.

Old Rodan on the hunt
A right purty view from GZ

For the evening, Ms. B.’s longtime friend, Linda, formerly of Midland, and her daughter, Hayley, who were visiting from Illinois, joined us for drinks and dinner at Whichcraft, a nice downtown establishment featuring Michigan-made spirits of all varieties. As it turned out, this was also the weekend for Midland’s annual River Days celebration, which drew a sizable crowd downtown. Happily, we managed to find easy parking, relatively mellow surroundings, and more refreshments at nearby Grape Beginnings, a fine local winery/wine bar that Brugger and I make a point to visit whenever we’re here. Linda and Hayley proved excellent company, and we ended up closing down the wine bar. Toward the end of the evening, we bore witness to what I would call the most spectacular fireworks display I’ve ever experienced. For a full half-hour, the myriad explosions lit the sky without even a few seconds pause. Apparently, River Days provides quite the blast here in Midland.

Sunday, August 6
I haven’t been a churchgoing soul for many years, but Del & Fern invited Kimberly and me to join them for the morning service at Midland Nazarene, and so... off to church we went. Theirs is what I would call a “modern” kind of service, with a band, contemporary music, and prerecorded video messages (which I found ironic since these focused on building personal connections) in addition to traditional churchy things. In the end, to quote the infamous Dr. Franklin Ruehl, it was better than being slapped in the belly with a wet trout. How about that?

The weather was drizzly and dreary all day, but Kimberly and I ventured out to grab lunch for the family from KFC, followed by a second outing to a downtown knick-knack shop she likes and then Live Oak Coffeehouse for some hot (or in her case, cold) refreshment. I stopped to hunt a nearby cache, but by all indications, the bloody thing was missing. It rained real water on me.

As is our custom when we don’t have other plans, Ms. B. and I spent the evening relaxing with the folks, mostly watching various TV shows in the family room. This was also better than the wet trout treatment.

Monday, August 7
This evening’s plan was for me to make dinner — meatloaf, at Del & Fern’s request — which meant I needed to go shopping at Meijer. However, I couldn’t bring myself to go shopping at Meijer without first going geocaching. So, I set out on this somewhat dreary morning (which, happily, turned undreary within an hour or so) to hunt some of the local hides I hadn’t yet found. I had mixed success. A couple of very tough ones eluded me (both of which I’ve hunted before; they eluded me then, too); several others I found without difficulty. All this amounted to about three miles of hoofing it on a comfortable morning, so I’m a happy cacher. Then I went to Meijer and picked up the dinner stuff (and some sushi for lunch, which was pretty awful; I should have known better than to buy Meijer sushi).

During the afternoon, I received the preliminary print file for Deathrealm: Spirits from Shortwave Publishing, so I spent a good while proofing it. I got pretty far with it, but soon it came time to prepare the evening dinner. It turned out danged good. Then... oy...! Migraine! Sure enough, it’s that time of year, when the weather begins to shift toward the next season. Today’s drop in temperature and low pressure no doubt triggered the damned thing. So, the evening turned out less comfortable than I’d hoped, but at least the headache wasn’t as severe as many that I’ve had in the past.

Much to our dismay, word from our housesitter is that Kim’s kitty, Ralph, who suffered congestive heart failure some time ago, isn’t doing very well. With the meds he’s been taking, he’s enjoyed almost normal health, but at this point, he may just be running out of time. Very, very sad. In any event, we’ll probably be leaving Michigan a day earlier than we had intended.

Tuesday, August 8

Our housesitter gave us a somewhat reassuring report this morning, but I think we’re still going to head home a day early. There’s nothing we can really do from here anyway, so we’ll have to enjoy our remaining time as best we can. Thus, after breakfast, I set my sights on the nearby community of Sanford, where a goodly number of caches awaited my attention. One of them was at a neat little covered bridge at the Sanford Centennial Museum, a cache I had hunted before — as my attempted 14,000th find — but it turned out to be missing at the time. It has since been replaced, so this morning, I was finally able to stake my claim. I also went after a trio of Adventure Lab caches, two of which were at the museum; I hiked and hunted along the Pere Marquette Rail Trail for a couple of miles; and I found caches at a couple of neat old graveyards. Once done, I put in three miles of hiking and logged a total of 26 caches. Not too shabby.

Once back at Casa di Brugger, I did a little updating on this blog and continued proofing the Deathrealm: Spirits dummy. For dinner, Ms. B. and I headed to d’Alessandro’s Italian Restaurant, which we’ve enjoyed several times on past visits. And again, very pleasant tonight. Manicotti with Bolognese sauce for Ms. B. and Angel Hair with Bolognese per me. We accompanied this with a delicious Bocelli Sangiovese. Until this, I never realized the great Andrea Bocelli came from a winemaking family. I approve of both his voice and his spirits.

From this morning — a few of the sights around Sanford:
Wednesday, August 9
I set out bright and early this morning on yet another geocaching quest, this time bound for Freeland, a little community a few miles southeast of Midland. I had picked up a handful of Freeland caches in years past, but today I managed to put a pretty good dent in the total. A couple of graveyard caches had caught my eye — both of which I had previously visited on hunts for older caches. Sadly, I had not been successful on those hunts because the caches were missing, and, even more sadly, I had no better luck today — and I’m pretty sure it’s because these newer hides, too, have gone missing. Still, I had a mighty fine time, and I added another 14 to my total find count, which now stands at 14,420.

Kimberly and her parents went antiquing, and it turned out they, too, ended up in Freeland after a run to Saginaw. I had already arrived back home before they hit Freeland, though, so our paths would not have crossed. I could have accompanied them and done some caching in Saginaw as well as Freeland, but I figured I’d still end up in some antique stores, and I didn’t really have that kind of spirit in me today.

For dinner, we opted for Japanese, at Fuji Sushi, which we’ve enjoyed on previous occasions. Now, I understand it’s all economics, but I sure miss the days of sushi restaurants serving a wide variety of fish and seafood on their sushi plates. Like most nowadays, Fuji gives you two pieces of a select few varieties, instead of a single piece of numerous varieties. I prefer the latter. That said, the selections were delicious, and I found the salmon skin handroll quite heavenly.

For our final evening of this Midland trip, we enjoyed the usual family gathering in the family room with game shows and cooking shows providing the entertainment.

This trip has not been without some unusual stressors. Our kitty Ralph isn’t doing well. We had a bit of a scare that we might have expensive appliance issues back home, but I think the issue has been resolved, hopefully for the long haul. We’re very close to getting our Greensboro house sold, but some of the scheduling on the last legs of the journey has proven problematic. I’m sure it’ll get sorted out. But sometimes, I tend to be the nervous sort. And Ms. B. has been more than typically stressed out.

From this morning — a few of the sights around Freeland:
On the hunt in Pine Grove Cemetery
Pick a hole. Any hole.
A little covered footbridge at Memorial Park
A lovely day at West Side Cemetery
Thursday, August 10
I realized yesterday that I had left my hiking stick near a cache the other day, and so, figuring it would probably still be there, I went out there this morning — and yes, there it was. So it was nice to recover that stick. Old Rob gave me that stick many years ago, and so it carries with it a little more meaning than just any old hiking pole. Anyhoo, since I was out, I headed after a handful of nearby caches, including one in the deep, dark underground, which is one of my favorite types of hides.

So, soon, it will be time to pack, and off we shall go. I just hope our drive home is less of a pain in the ass than the drive up here.
Heading in...
The cache