Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Long Distance Drunks

Long Distance Drunks: A Tribute to Charles Bukowski was released last Sunday, on the twentieth anniversary of the man's death.  It features my story 'The Market-Frankford Line', plus a poem I wrote in '06.  It's available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble in paperback and ebook.

I'd had the idea for 'The Market-Frankford Line' for a while.  I knew it was a bit of a deviation from my usual material, but I felt it was a story that needed to be told.  When the folks at Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing (who'd recently purchased my story 'The Truth' for their Vonnegut tribute) announced that they were compiling a book dedicated to Bukowski, I thought it sounded like a good excuse to get it down.

I decided to employ some Bukowskian methods for the execution.  One rainy Saturday afternoon, I sat down with some cheap wine, classical music on the speakers (I think Beethoven, or maybe Mozart), and wrote the whole thing in one sitting.  A year later, here we are.

It goes without saying that if you're a Bukowski fan, I think you'll dig this one.  However, those of you who are rolling your eyes at the drop of the man's name and picturing a chauvinistic circle-jerk: you're the ones I REALLY want to read it.  You might be surprised, and pleasantly at that.

Anyway, you be the judge.

Monday, March 10, 2014

À l'intérieur (Inside)


One of the downsides to being a serious horror aficionado is that it's hard to find films that legitimately scare you.  Over time you grow desensitized to shock, and the more you see, whether you like it or not, you memorize all the tricks in the magician's bag.  There's also the sad truth that this genre attracts more than its share of incompetents with little to no imagination.  But your faith in the genre keeps you panning for gold in that river of mediocrity, searching for those elusive adrenaline rushes that made you fall in love with this stuff in the first place.  And once in a while, you're rewarded with something like À l'intérieur.

À l'intérieur (or Inside to the English-speaking world) is regarded as the current high-water mark of the new wave of French horror.  Browse any article with a headline like "Top Horror Films of the Last Decade" (or even "Top Horror Films of All Time"), and you'll see it listed, along with the prerequisite warnings about "extreme violence" and how you should avoid watching it while pregnant.  Believe me, they aren't fucking around.  This is one of the most relentlessly brutal movies I've ever seen.

The premise is relatively simple: a young pregnant widow (Alysson Paradis) is spending Christmas Eve at home, when her house is invaded by a psychotic woman (Béatrice Dalle).  The stranger, for whatever reason, feels that the unborn baby is actually hers, and is willing to use any number of sharp household objects to get it.  The violence that follows is so vivid and visceral that it raises the film to the level of psychological assault.  I like to think I'm a pretty tough guy when it comes to this stuff, but when the credits rolled, I didn't know if I should eat a salad, watch Beauty and the Beast, or go sob in the corner.

The primary function of art is to examine and explore some fundamental aspect of the human condition.  In the case of horror, the aspect is fear.  What do we fear?  Why are we afraid of it?  What can be done to overcome those fears?  Inside meets this criteria by striking full-force on a universal anxiety: the vulnerability of our bodies.  The directors take this concept to the extreme by telling the story through a woman in her third trimester, a point where the potential for trauma and the capacity for pain are at their zenith.  This is body horror at its most effective.

Congrats, France.  You just shocked me more than all the chainsaws in Texas.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Depression, Explained in Four Minutes

This isn't the kind of thing I normally post here, but hear me out.  Clinical depression is something that affects a lot of us.  It's a treatable condition, but as with many afflictions, what stops so many people from seeking help is a failure to acknowledge that the problem exists.  That's understandable.  If you've been living with depression your whole life, you might not even be aware that it's possible to feel any other way.  I assure you, it is.

I came across this video from the World Health Organization.  Watch it.  Share it with everyone you know whom you feel would benefit.  If you need help, seek it.  There's no reason to let this condition cheat you out of happiness.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

It's official: we've been nominated.

The Final Ballot for the 2013 Bram Stoker Awards was released on Sunday.  I am beyond thrilled to announce that Dark Visions vol 1 has been nominated for Superior Achievement in an Anthology.

My most sincere congratulations go out to Anthony Rivera, Sharon Lawson, and all my fellow contributors.  If this isn't a cause for celebration, I don't know what is.

Friday, February 21, 2014

"There are ways out. There is a light somewhere."

The editors of the upcoming Bukowski tribute Long Distance Drunks (which will contain a story and poem by me) asked all of us contributors to write short essays for the website.  They posted mine yesterday.  Check it out.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Prince of Darkness and the Witchy Woman

After hearing that Clive Barker had been on Politically Incorrect in 1997, I decided to hunt down the episode.  Low and behold, Christine O'Donnell was also on the panel.  It goes about how you would expect.  If nothing else, it's good to remember what Bill Maher's hair looked like in the '90s, for those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Ominous Realities


I should have announced this a week ago (blame it on jet lag), but Ominous Realities, which features my story 'Born Bad,' is now available in trade paperback.

Ominous Realities is a collection of dark speculative fiction.  Some of the stories fall under the sci-fi umbrella, some (like mine) lean more towards the horror side of things, and others take place in the wonderfully imaginative world between genres.  I don't want to give too much away, but let's just say that 'Born Bad' is about theology, and it's about being true to yourself.  I'm very proud to be a part of this collection, and I'm looking forward to hearing everyone's reactions.

Go snatch up a copy.  And, if you're so inclined, drop by here and tell me what you think.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Independent Ink No. 10


Got a Kindle or an iPad?  Got $4?  Let me borrow your mind for a minute.

Issue 10 of Independent Ink magazine features my story 'Render Unto Caesar' (aka, 'Let's Make Sure Balog Gets Excommunicated').  It's now available as a single issue.

When I got my acceptance letter, the editor told me he rarely ever prints stuff about politics or religion, but that there was a "humanistic truth" in this one.  I can honestly say that it's one of the few things I've written that I felt like I HAD to write.

It'll probably piss a few people off.  Then again, if you're not controversial, you're doing it wrong.