Evil Nightmare Stuff By Mail

Good morning from, judging by the weather, the planet Dagobah. Christ, it’s nasty out. Like walking around in a fat man’s ass. The upshot of this is unsettled atmosphere, which means thunderstorms. I’m gonna sleep like a baby tonight.

It’s been a while since we last spoke, and for that I apologize. My day job was hectic as an orangutan fucked up on angel dust, and my laptop’s internal fan has decided to take a dirt nap. Probably because of all the dirt.

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I don’t want to give the impression that I’m a shill. I am completely open to whoring this blog out to corporations for money, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t want to give that impression (seriously, though, I will do anything for money). I mentioned the Problem Glyphs kickstarter because I think it’s something that will be of value to people. If you’re reading this, let’s face it, you’re probably gonna be somebody I know, and as such we’ve probably got compatible interests. So from time to time, I’ll mention something cool that I’ve come across, and want to pass along.

Either that, or somebody’s paid me a shitload of money (dead serious, call me, marketing gurus, I got a mortgage that isn’t gonna mort itself).

In the former category I humbly present The Mysterious Package Company. This Canadian concern produces one of the most original and thoughtful services I’ve ever seen. It literally puts you in the middle of a story.

In a lot of Weird fiction, one of the big tropes is having a protagonist stumble across Things Humankind Was Not Meant To Know. They get an anonymous parcel filled with strange items, hastily scrawled notes, newspaper clippings, things of that ilk. The MPC does precisely that.

Their current campaign, called The Century Beast, was financed by a wildly successful Kickstarter, and that was my first exposure to the malevolent secrets squirming beneath the surface.

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This image came in a plain yellow envelope with a Canadian postmark. The fact that I knew it was coming (my wife, God bless her, could not keep a secret of this magnitude and awesomeness if the fate of the free world depended on it) in no way impeded the thrill I got when I opened it up. I’ve received four or five mailings so far, each more amazing and dreadful than the last. I’ve gotten handwritten notes, the cassette liner notes from a Scandinavian death metal album, a USB drive with a frankly terrifying recording (wrapped in a police evidence bag, mind you), and a bunch of other ephemera. It feels like it’s coming to a climax, and to be honest, I’m worried.

The story itself concerns an old Norse myth, similar to the one about Thor going fishing and snagging Jormungand. Ships disappear in a terrible maelstrom. Survivors come back to shore mad. And there’s evidence that it’s not an isolated incident from a thousand years ago.

The MPC has a bunch of different experiences that they offer, scaled to a wide range of budgets.  Their work is beautiful. Everything is aged appropriately, foxed and folded and dog-eared to perfection. Suspension of disbelief is effortless. This is the ideal gift for fans of The Weird, mystery and puzzle junkies, or somebody you want to scare into an early, screaming grave. Highest Recommendation.

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Still working on the SECRET PROJEKT I’d mentioned. One aspect of it is based on a nightmare I once had. I dreamed I was in a trench in World War I–the battlefield was silent and empty, but maybe it was only like that for me. I peeked up over the top, and saw a lone horseman not too far off–he was uniformed, helmeted, and wearing a gas mask, and had a banner on a pole attached to his saddle. Then the horse turns and looks at me, and I knew I’d been had. Its flesh flaked and blew away, revealing some weird automaton. Its horse skull grinned as the doughboy on its back sank into a turret-like hump, and green flames burned in its guts, in its mouth, in its eyes.

You bet your ass I woke up after that. And into the Idea File with ye!

I don’t generally remember my dreams lately. That really sucks, because I feel like I’m missing out on a lot of cool stuff.

I can’t say that I miss the night terrors, though. I’m all set with those, thank you.

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I’m working up the courage to doing video entries, maybe once a week. It’s hard for me. I have a distinctive accent, and I am not a good-looking person. Give me a bit. I’ll work on it.

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That’s all I got for now. Take a second, as you go about your day, and give a little thought for your neighbors. Everybody’s going through some serious shit, so be nice.

And I was dead serious about money.

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Attitude Adjustments, Giant Carnivorous Whales, and The Money Chant

Good afternoon from near the Southern end of the BAMA Sprawl.

Feeling anxious today. Heart racing, chest aching, eyes scanning for an open exit. It happens–the brain gets bathed in too much of one neurochemical or another, and the Ape Mind starts seeing Smilodons lurking behind every bush. What can the Twenty-First Century Hominid do when faced with terrible, illusory felids?

That hominid does what that hominid can do–The Work. Always The Work.

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Many a nun has tried to break my hands and reset the bones into a proper Palmer Method configuration. They have all failed.

I took my own advice from last week and started writing freehand, and it’s absolutely a different beast from writing on a computer. You fuck up? Scratch it out. The self-editor is squeezed out by the indelible nature of ink. You’re stuck with two options: stop or keep going.

I think I’ve found what works for me.

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My love of monsters, real and imagined, is well-documented. I happened to catch a documentary on National Geographic called Sea Monsters: The Definitive Guide, which was a delight. It compared monsters of legend against their zoological bases–the Kraken versus the giant squid, for example. But one beastie they covered just tickled my brain’s Monster Center–a whale from the Miocene called Livyatan melvillei. Basically an orca the size of a sperm whale with the craziest goddamn teeth I’ve ever seen. I mean, look at this sumbitch:

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Formulating plans to go to Heroes Con  in Charlotte over Bunker Hill Day weekend. I’m going to meet some friends, but it sticks in my mind that every author I know says to Always Be Networking while at conventions.

I do not know how to do this. I’m guessing it involves pounding my chest and singing.

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That’s all my fragile mental state will allow, friends, so I’m out. Be kind to one another.

Old School

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It’s going to be a good day today. I know it is. It has to be. Good morning from the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain.

I tried something a little different yesterday: Writing.

I mean it! Actual, old-school pen-on-paper storymaking. Like the Pilgrims used to do!

I’d heard authors I admire say that they’ve taken, in greater or lesser measure, to handwriting manuscripts, at least in the first draft. I wasn’t feeling the work yesterday (hey, man, it happens), so I decided to give it a whack.

It felt like play. Like I was just screwing around. But lo and befuckinhold, progress!

I don’t know how it works–there’s a complex neurological reason as to why handwriting and typing use different parts of the brain, I think–but you can’t argue with results.

Another tool in the toolbox. Fuckin’ A.

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Your favorite television program probably got cancelled yesterday. I empathize. I’ve been singing dirges to “Agent Carter.” Peggy, we hardly knew ye.

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This week has been a goddamn meat grinder.  I haven’t had the energy to get to the gym until this morning, and man, I felt every second of my time there. Seeing Chris Evans’ ridiculous form on the big screen on Wednesday was a big motivator. If I had a physique like that kid, I’d have to be put forcibly into my shirts.

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I’m still trying to figure out a format for this blog, something to make it a little more interesting and/or informative. I can only shill so much before people make the j/o gesture and move on.

At the same time, though, it’s a good place for me, personally, to set some intent. To figure out where my own head is at. Make myself accountable for doing the work. Does that make sense?

So far, it’s been fun, and I hope it’s been fun for you as well.

 

 

Fuck Lovecraft

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Good morning from the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain. It is four in the goddamn morning as I start this entry, Foo Fighters are on the VH1 Classic, and it is what it is, as if it could be otherwise.

I’m thinking this morning about where stories come from. It’s almost like a chemical reaction. Mix bleach and ammonia, you get deadly gas. Mix Experience A with Influence B, combine with Song On Ipod C, and you get a story. The beginnings of a story, anyway. You still need to put that ass in front of the keyboard and expend some mana, but you get the idea.

I was talking with my associate Aaron Jacobs (follow his blog or my curse be upon ye) about H. P. Lovecraft–we were in Brooklyn, not too far from the setting of “The Horror At Red Hook,” the thesis of which is “What Are Those Immigrants DOING In There?!” Lovecraft’s racism is no secret, the way he used slurs as punctuation. But as we’re talking, we come to the conclusion that his bigotry suffused his entire body of work almost at a molecular level.

Horrors coming from beyond with agendas unknowable to even his learned protagonists? Accursed lineages borne of ancestors mixing with other races? A terror of the chaos lurking outside of his experience?

Holy shit–it’s baked right in. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

It’s a good thing that Weird fiction and cosmic horror aren’t locked into HPL’s xenophobia–the fear of the Unknown is universal, and even though Howie’s Unknown was African-American people, Jewish folks, women, and other human groups, the unease about what’s beyond the firelight was with us all along, and will continue.

And yeah, Lovecraft influenced me–the title of this very blog is taken from the the Arabic name, al Azif, of his go-to Shunned Tome. But once you see it, you can’t unsee it. You take what’s universal, and you leave what’s harmful. Always be critical. Always examine your lineage and see if there aren’t any monstrous fish-folk swimming around there.

You want a good deconstruction of Lovecraft’s fictional ecosystem, I implore you to check out The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle. It takes the framework of “Red Hook,” strips out the bigotry and the squamous, batrachian prose, and infuses it with the living, breathing soul of a haunted Depression-era New York. Dead serious, this novella is legit, my only complaint being that it feels like the first act of a bigger story. Go get it, then read “Red Hook,” and tell me which is better.

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I saw a story this morning about an opera, an honest-to-god opera, based on The Shining, which looks interesting. Theater is something I’m not too well-versed in, and in this era of Hamilton ripping things up, that’s something that needs to change. My wife and I went and saw the touring production of 42nd Streetwhich was a delight.

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My love of fictional spy Phil Coulson is well-documented, and a little creepy. I freely and fully admit to this. No content here, I just feel like it’s something I needed to let out there.

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I only just saw the brilliant Attack The Block yesterday. Man, what a movie. I only knew John Boyega from The Force Awakens,  and his brilliant online presence, and his performance in ATB was shocking. Don’t be like me. See if if you haven’t.

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That’s all I’ve got for now. I hope the day is kind to you. If it isn’t, grab it by the neck, threaten it with a knife, and ask it why. I’m right behind you, fam. Believe.