Monday, October 29, 2012

The Shining Left After My Ass-Kissing of Stephen King

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved Halloween. The combination of a crisp fall, a full moon, and a scary costume was far more exciting to me than the eternal hype heading into the Christmas season. I was never the kid that horded toys or wanted tons of shit because I was pretty satisfied with my imagination and my imaginary friends.

Stephen King is primarily responsible for lighting the fire under my literary ass and turning my juvenile fascination with horror into a lifelong passion. My parents are both staunch Catholics and therefore we did not watch a lot of scary movies or read frightening books. To this day, I know my mom still thinks that AC/DC stands for “Anti-Christ Devil Children”, which it probably does. Not by coincidence, the movie and book that confirmed my affinity for dark horror came from the nightmares of Stephen King.


Pet Sematary was the first book that made me fearful of a dark room. I remember reading it at age eleven and thinking that Gage was hiding in the corner. The storytelling was masterful and reanimation is a timeless theme of literary horror.

The Shining, quite simply, scared the shit out of me. Although Kubrick’s film interpretation had elements that “fell flat” according to Stephen King, the movie is still the most frightening ever made. Shocking, gory films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Exorcist, and the Saw franchise have a place in the history of cinematic horror. But nothing terrifies like the human psyche in a downward spiral. That and Jack Nicholson. That dude scares me even when I see him on the floor at Laker games.

As you give candy to kids dressed as Angry Big Bird or Honey Boo Boo, remember that every day is Halloween as long as you’ve got a Kindle, a Netflix account, or one crazy-ass caretaker with an axe inside The Overlook Hotel.

In celebration of the holiday, I’ve joined forces with SB Knight for his Monster Bash event on Facebook. Head over and enter to win free shit. Yep, free shit. In addition, if you sign up for my free newsletter (top left of the page) before November 1st, 2012, I’ll send you a free electronic version of The Hunt, a post-apocalyptic vampire short story released as a special Halloween treat.

From the Facebook SB Knight Monster Bash event page:
“What better way to celebrate the release of Drago's Revenge than with a Monster Mash? We will have vampires, zombies, werewolves, and other creatures that stalk the night. Meet the authors that give them life and pull you into their world of terror. Ah, but you have a place in this too. Post your Halloween pictures, spooky stories, posters of favorite horror movies...”

http://www.facebook.com/events/109144262574128/

Monday, October 22, 2012

60/day x 365=n

Can you solve for n?

Whenever I enter into conversations with people regarding a project I’ve finished, I tend to get a consistent response.  Because I’ve recently published Raising Zombies - Family Life in the Modern Age, this conversation has happened more frequently.  It goes something like this:

“Wow!  You just finished a novel/album/sculpture/painting/hand-made 60 foot yacht.  That is so cool.  I wish I had the time to do that.”

The subtext of this type of comment is:

“I wish I had the leisure time that you do to waste on trivial pursuits like a novel/album/sculpture/painting/hand-made 60 foot yacht.  Unfortunately, I have way more important things to do in life like work, family, and sleep.  Must be nice.”

I have not yet found a way to bypass the universal laws of physics.  And if I did, I’d lie and say I hadn’t.  I am forced to operate within a 24 hour-day like everyone else.  “I don’t have the time” is simply a lie people tell themselves when they’re choosing consumption instead of production.  Everything you do with your time is a choice.  If you choose to watch four hours of television per day (average American), that’s your choice.  I choose not to.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love getting lost in the world of “The Walking Dead” every Sunday.  However, I choose to spend 60 minutes/day writing.  I do this every day, and at the end of one calendar year (usually less), I have a completed novel.  In the past three years I’ve written five novels.  I can do this not because I have MORE time than anyone else, but because I CHOOSE what to do with it.  It’s not easy.  I have a wife, two young kids, a full time job, a band, and routine overnight visits from the in-laws.  My 60 minutes often replace an hour of sleep from 4:30-5:30 a.m.  Sometimes those 60 minutes carry over into 120 the next day.  That’s what it takes.

Now back to that equation.  60 minutes/day for one year is 365 hours.  Divide 365 by an 8-hour work day and you have 46 work days, or about 9 work weeks.  Imagine going to the office every day for nine weeks and working solely on your novel/album/sculpture/painting/hand-made 60 foot yacht.  That is the power of commitment and hard work.

I won’t begrudge your decision to follow every reality show this season if you don’t insult my efforts by insinuating I have time to burn that you don’t.

Now go watch “The Walking Dead” and shut up.

Monday, October 15, 2012

#KickassKleveland

I grew up in the Rustbelt, that cold, barren, industrial corridor of North America responsible for heavy manufacturing, heavy music, and hardy women. Cities like Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland remain, still sporting their blackened smokestacks like proud scars of the Industrial Revolution. But there’s more to this story. After spending years in other parts of the country including the NYC metro area and the Deep South, I’ve settled in the Rustbelt, in Cleveland, Ohio. The perception of this city is one of the eternal loser, the lumpy prom date that gets stood up, goes stag, and pukes in her hair. The reality, however, is that there is a shitload of talent here that you’ll never see on mainstream media. Getting shat upon by Art Modell or LeBron James is an easier story to tell.

It’s time to Kickass, Kleveland. Time to puff out your chest and let’em know what we’re about. As the old t-shirt reads, “Cleveland, You Gotta be Tough”. There is a wealth of talent in this city and I’m on a mission to expose you to it, rub your face in it, if necessary. Join me as I talk with the best and brilliant folks you’ve never met. The first to be featured include Erin Lung, tattoo artist for Rebel City Tattoo, WJCU DJ and “Metal on Metal” icon Bill Peters, WKYC’s  and Signal 30’s front man, Pat Butler, Magadh, co-founder of the underground music blog athousandtrivs.com, and even Lake Erie. That’s right, bitches. I’ve got an exclusive interview with the Lake itself.

Sometimes serious. Frequently offensive. Always interesting.

If you know of a person that should be featured in Kickass Kleveland, get in touch. First segment coming in a month or so with more to follow. Let’s ride.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Scott Nicholson's "The Home" Giveaway

Scott Nicholson, one of the best horror/paranormal authors around today is running a Halloween giveaway that you can enter below. Won't cost you a thing...except for your SANITY [insert evil laugh here].

Enter the Rafflecopter to win your choice of a Kindle Fire, Nook HD, or Kobo Glo, as well as signed books and audiobooks in the Home for Halloween giveaway from author Scott Nicholson.

The giveaway celebrates the launch of paranormal thriller The Home. Experiments at a group home for troubled children lead to paranormal activity—and the ghosts are from the home’s dark past as an insane asylum. In development as a feature, it’s available in ebook at Amazon US, Amazon UK, BN.com, Kobo, and Smashwords.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 8, 2012

REDUX - Say Hello to Yourself

It’s been almost a year since I introduced myself on this blog and in that time I am grateful for the thousands that have stopped by to read my musings. In case you missed it, here’s my dream date. Sort of. By the way, comments are always open, bitches.

You devour epic fantasy and seize the opportunity to transcend worlds through books.  It’s not unusual for you to sink into a recliner, in the most secluded corner of your house, and read for hours.  And interspersed between trilogies set in distant worlds, you come back to this one, drawn to the mysterious, dark realm of supernatural thrillers and horror.  Exotic settings must jump off the page and come alive in your mind, especially stories of survival; life on the fine edge of existence.  You cheer for the reluctant hero, the common man thrust into obligation and you also cheer for the villain, the arch nemesis.

Episodes of “Ancient Aliens” clog your DVR while you anxiously await the return of “Cities of the Underground” on History.  You can recite verses from “The Raven” but get more excited when someone wants to talk about “The Rats in the Walls.”  Heavy music fills your iPod.  Those shiny discs that the kids no longer recognize lay scattered on the passenger side of your truck.  You are a fan of Black Sabbath and Aerosmith, not “reality show” Ozzy or “American Idol” Steven.  You prefer “Master of Puppets” over “The Black Album,” and like Cliff more than Jason or Robert.  The rumble of a Harley Fatboy makes you smile and you know Detroit will never produce anything cooler than a 1977 Corvette.  When you have the choice, you opt for Guinness over Budweiser and Starbucks over Dunkin Donuts.  You can’t hang a picture without a power tool.  You can’t purchase a power tool without hanging it in your garage.

Louis C.K. makes you laugh while the memory of George Carlin makes you cry.  You love vampires and hate Twilight.  You know the difference between a hip check and a cross check and despise golf unless it includes a home video of a Tiger mistress.  You prefer Suicide Girls over Playboy Playmates, long hair over short hair, curves over rails.  Ten years later, you don’t necessarily believe the full-on conspiracy theory surrounding 911, but you also know an F-15E Strike Eagle could have prevented anything from hitting the Pentagon.

Too young to give up, too old to start over.  Too immature for Johnny Walker Red, too mature for a case of Busch.  You’ve been around long enough to get tired of mainstream entertainment and yet you’re still excited by a new author, band, or movie.

This is you, my ideal reader.  Let’s hang out sometime.  I want to be your ideal author.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Album Review - Down IV, Part I by Down

I don’t always do album reviews, but when I do, I go Down. While they might not be “the most interesting band in the world”, Down carries the doom metal torch for the current generation of headbangers and stoners.

Down can’t win with their first of three EPs to be released in the upcoming months. Officially titled, Down IV, Part I, Anselmo has already acknowledged that fans will refer to it as the “Purple EP”. But once you move beyond the aesthetics and get to the music you’ll understand why the band is stuck. When AC/DC releases new music, it sounds like AC/DC. They don’t depart from the formula. You know what you get and folks criticize them for writing the same songs over and over again. When U2 releases new music, it usually varies greatly from another era in the band’s history and sometimes it is a dramatic departure from the previous record. You don’t know what you’re getting and folks criticize them for NOT writing the same songs over and over again.

I’d like to officially welcome Down to that club. The record opens with the chuggy march of “Levitation” which sounds nothing like the title. At the two-minute mark, Phil barks a patented “One, two, three, go!” which propels the song forward into a discordant syncopation of walled distortion. “Witchtripper” queues up next, opening with a swinging riff. The chorus will clearly be the sing-a-long favorite of the live show. “Open Coffins” and “The Curse” accentuate downtuned, open chord riffs with Phil’s vocals pushing the tempo onward. A hint of …And Justice for All can be heard at the 2:00 minute mark of “This Work is Timeless” featuring Phil’s garbled speakgrowl pulsing across the stereo field. Another signature Down riff opens the final track, “Misfortune Teller” which fades out and then comes back at the 8:30 minute mark to set the table for the next EP.


NOLA was released by Down in 1995 after years of existing as a tape in the underground music trade. Phil Anselmo and Pepper Keenan have led the band that has now been consumed by the machine of the music industry. On Down IV, Part I they introduce a new bass player (the break with Rex Brown still lingering) and don’t seem to take full advantage of the dual-guitar approach that provided the riffy gems of songs like “Stone the Crow” and “Bury Me in Smoke”.

If you’re looking for classic Down from 1995, I don’t know what to tell you. If you’re looking for “new” Down from 2012, I don’t know what to tell you. If you’re looking for AC/DC or U2, I can tell you that you’re looking in the wrong place.