Monthly Archives: July 2014

Wordslinger Shootout Round Three

The conflict continues between David Anderson and Rachel Aukes using the writer’s prompt “Leeches” (ugh!)  Two very creepy stories you need to check out and vote early and often.

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Wordslinger Shootout: Round Two

Sorry that I missed the first round. Andrew Nienaber, the sickest sunavabitch in the Post Mortem Press cadre and there is no small amount of competition for that accolade, won the head to head competition against Ken MacGregor. Their secret ingredient was: “Ice”.

The second bracket is live. The competitors are KT Jayne and Aaron Besson and their writing prompt is “Wire Brush.” Both stories are horrific. You should hop over, read and vote. Enjoy.

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“How dead should I make this guy?” My 48 Hour Film Adventure.

I had the luck of being involved with Team Ondo this year for the 48 Hour Film when they drew the plumb topic of Dark Humor. Usually, I provide make-up and props for these wind sprint competitions, but this time I got to contribute to the script as well. Without spoiling any surprises, I helped shoot a cadaver in a Bluetooth enabled coffin. The young actor was supposed to be in his late thirties, so I ran the middle ground between making him look older and making him look “good” as a mortician would.

It was a fun time except for the staying up until two-thirty a.m. to work on the script part. (I was only one of three, so I can only take credit for a few funny lines). The whole cast and crew worked their butts off to get the piece in under the wire, especially John Ondo. The short films will be presented at the Gateway Theater Monday the 28th and Tuesday the 29th. Ours, “Grave Undertakings” will be Monday at 8:30 p.m. Hop over to Facebook to get more details.

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Wordslinger Shootout

I have roped into  enlisted to join a hardened band of reprobates talented independent horror writers in a contest of writing skill in head to head competition of 200 words or less. This has been organized by the inimitable Kenneth W. Cain and includes the likes of myself and other Post Mortem Press inmates alumni like Andrew Nienaber.

The bracket structure of the tournament is judged by the input from our friends, fans and sycophants. Each author is putting up some prize, like an e-book of their latest release. I’ll be putting up an electronic copy of Camp Arcanum, so hop on over and comment to get your chance at the goods!

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Huckster & Author Again

I will be leaving shortly for the Olde Canal Days in Canal Fulton (not Canal Winchester) to flog books, sign autographs and do a bit of light juggling. If you would like to get a chance to see me, I will be at the Post Mortem Press tent near Oser’s Dairy & Deli (so the publisher tells me) on Canal St. Get your copy of Camp Arcanum while they’re hot!

For the navigationally impaired:


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“Snowpiercer” : the symbol & metaphor train leaves the station

I just saw “Snowpiercer” and it was an entertaining enough movie. A single train that circles the frozen Earth once a year holds all of surviving humanity. The elite enjoy a luxury rail experience while the tail-enders live a life of desperate squalor. A small contingent of the have-nots fight their way forward through the carriages to the Sacred Engine (not Thomas) to wrest control of the train from the mysterious creator Wilford. Viewing this as a fairy-tale instead of an actual SF story alleviates the distress of seeing logic holes big enough to drive a perpetual motion locomotive through.

The film is weighed down with many carts worth of symbolic baggage like these:

Thug servants of the elite take turns gutting a live carp with razor-sharp axes, no doubt a metaphor for Man’s destruction of the environment.

A captured bureaucrat removes their dentures before pleading for their life, thus symbolizing the ultimate toothlessness of the elite’s lackeys when faced with a people’s rebellion.

One gigantic guard swings a sledgehammer at approaching mobs of the tail-enders as a metaphor for the way the writer/director uses metaphors.



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Happy 4th of July… with Explosives

Happy Fourth of July, when we commemorate defeating the British with displays of explosives, though we did not actually blow them up.

The British celebrate not blowing themselves up on November Fifth, Guy Fawkes Day, with displays of explosives.

The French regret not blowing up the British. They simply eat cheese year ’round.

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ECMO, NICU, and the Defining Joke

I had the opportunity to do an on-line interview last week and one of the questions was “What is your writing style?”. My response was “Joking in the Graveyard.” My humor is a response to the cruel realities of the world, a frequently confirmed belief that if you can’t laugh, you’ll cry.

Or run away screaming.

Or curl up in a ball under your desk.

But you get my meaning. One incident a few decades ago pretty much defines how my sense of humor works and I would like to share it with you.

My daughter was born eight weeks premature as a result of what the doctors call an occult abruption. This had nothing to do with magick, Wicca or the paranormal, it simply meant that the placenta separating from the uterus and the accompanying hemorrhaging on my wife’s part were “hidden”. My daughter’s birth day was a long grueling afternoon enjoyed by none which leads to another dark joke about equipment lockers.

Within two days, my daughter was whisked away to the NICU at our local children’s hospital. She was put in the farthest reach of the unit, next to the massive ECMO unit.

ECMO is a Frankensteinian device, miraculous in what it can do, horrific in direct experience. An infant attached to it has its blood removed through a tube; aerated and filtered; and then pumped back into its body. This gives the patient’s lungs and kidneys a chance to develop or heal and has actually saved many lives. The device is huge, the size of two or three refrigerators side-by-side, and it makes a constant grinding mechanical sound like a production line for putting potted meat into jars with pictures of smiling babies.

My wife and I would visit our daughter beside the ECMO, in some ways thankful for the vampiric spectacle and oppressive noise. We knew that when it stopped, more than likely it was because the infant was beyond needing it. We sat beside our daughter’s crib, stroking her receding hairline where it was shaved back for IVs and reading her Winnie the Pooh and Bunnicula. A constant stream of New Age music came out of her pillow speaker. She really seemed to enjoy that, though her ability to react was limited. The doctors and nurses called us unrealistic parents as they believed she was little more than a vegetable. Our stance was that if she was only a plate a broccoli, we would push her to grow to her limits: perhaps broccoli with cheese sauce.

Our daughter’s condition was rather involved due to her birth incident. She had damage to her cranial nerves which prevented her from suckling, swallowing, or gagging. Her fine control of her muscles was nil and she required a tracheostomy and a feeding tube surgically placed into her stomach.

Strictly because she was a premie, she also had under-developed hips, the sockets were still to form around the ball joint of the femurs. For her it was perfectly comfortable to lay on her back, folded in half, with her ankles on either side of her ears.

One visit when we found her that way, I stroked the remains of her hair and said loudly enough for all the nurses to hear:

“Honey, Daddy loves you, but you are not allowed to date until you learn to gag and put your legs together.”

And that’s the definition of my sense of humor.

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