Sunday, August 6, 2017

PUMPKINS ALIVE!





It’s that time of year. Vines stretch outward, twining around any unsuspecting thing they find and holding fast. Emerald leaves hide the ballooning bulges in murky shade. Yes, PUMPKINS ARE UPON US!

 
We’ve been trying for a couple years now to determine the exact perfect time to start pumpkin seeds in order to have healthy plants by the time the sun warms the ground enough…but not so early they starve for sunlight outdoors. After mediocre results last year on our patio, this year I planted some sugar pumpkin and mini boo seeds indoors around mid-April. Three plants have survived; one mini on our patio just starting to flower:

 


 





Another mini bravely struggling in the garden soil.

 








And THIS beast, which daily attempts to eat any passing children small enough to be consumed whole.  




I have been trying to train the beast up a makeshift cage. It has other ideas. 



  But LOOOOK!  

Mmmm. Yes, my darling, groooowwwww




 If you’ve never eaten fresh pumpkin, there is a vast difference between fresh and canned or processed. The first time I cooked a sugar pumpkin, my tongue was opened to the glory of the Orange Wonder, and it’s impossible to go back to the insipid goop in cans. If you don’t have a spare acre or two in your graveyard or lab to give over to the monstrous vines, some grocery stores sell fresh pumpkin in September and October, and of course it’s always worth a country drive to find local pick-your-own patches. Just remember in that case to bring a sharp stick to fight off any roaming vines, as they’re more aggressive than kudzu.


Don’t just think PIE, although pie is of course perfectly acceptable, if you’re into mundanity. Think chili. Think smoothies. Here are some links to pumpkin recipes (yes, some are Martha, don’t judge me). 

Tineh boos planted by my sweetie's brother Shane.


















Another tineh of Shane's.

In other pumpkiny news, the craft stores have Halloween stuff incoming, and our local Goodwills have Halloween aisles already! I’ve nabbed a few things; this is my one consumer weakness. Very happy that Goodwill has so much neat stuff, else I’d be broke. No idea what my costume will be this year; was fairly happy with last year's witch, and the sugar skulls and pumpkin carvings. My sweetie still needs to finish his awesome plague doctor outfit. And we have tombstones to papier-mache and paint. And I have a miniature tableaux to create. SO MUCH TO DO BEFORE OCTOBER.






For anyone else interested in propmaking and home haunting, may I direct you to my friend Sabrina's hauntmaking blog. She is highly talented, and has no skeletons in her closet because they’re all in the basement instead…

Happy Pumpkining!


Thursday, May 12, 2016

HOSPITALS ARE CREEPY AF BECAUSE THEY CONTAIN HUMAN BODIES


Welcome back, creepy peeps. Yes, you’re creepy. We’re all creepy. Know why? Because we all are host to a cloud of bacteria and microbes which surrounds us, precedes us, and announces our very identity to anything withy a sniffer. Think of it as your aura…just much less romantic than the Kirlian variety. 

Kilroy was here.

 I’ve been co-editing an upcoming science fiction anthology with Sue London, Dark Clouds, themed around this microbial miasma we all carry with us, and its tropes have crawled into my nightmares and set up a thriving bazaar. 


Probably this hospital. (Image: denofgeek)  
Last night I dreamt I was trapped in an elevator in a hospital, struggling to hold shut the door or get up to a less populated level where I could kill myself, as this was preferable to allowing the cheerful swarms of infected people bless me with their virus.  

All the infected were irrationally happy as their insides turned to guacamole. This was not a dinner party I wished to join, but social pressure proved overwhelming; I woke up still trying to brace the elevator door shut.


People, as any germophobe will tell you, are the cause of all the world’s problems, what with always bleeding out their ears or being used as alien hosts. People have microbes. Microbes are trouble. 

An SF anthology capable of giving this editor nightmares about those microbes ought to be worth reading, no? Do check it out so you’ll be prepared for the next outbreak; you’ll need reading material in your sealed bunker. Advance supporters get cool rewards, some of which may even protect you from your cubicle colleague’s insistent sneezes! 


There are, of course, a really quite ridiculous number of sick people in hospitals (you’d think they’d do something about that). The sickest hospital of all, however, was Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace.


Marenghi also wrote as John Saul or Dean Koontz.

Anyone who came through the 80s mostly unscathed will rejoice at the hairstyles, the awful lighting, the misogynistically wooden acting and panoply of parodies that linger in Darkplace Hospital. 

Of course all of us have read at least one Garth Marenghi book, though it may have gone under one of his noms de plume… 


 If 80s horror hospital tales from several of The IT Crowd’sbest brains don’t frighten you, you need to take a long hard look at your life choices. The classic but fortunately short series has been resurrected online, to inject a little terror into your midday doldrums. Set aside your Jell-O (you never know who’s already touched it) and consider this tale of telekinesis amplified by PMS: HELL HATH FURY!



I guarantee either the anthology or the TV series contained in this blog, like active cultures in a too-small petri dish, will leave you shuddering and pulling your hair. 
Of course, if it’s coming out in great chunks, with little dangly blobs at the end, you have more to worry about than superb writing and phenomenally bad acting. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Wisconsin Death Trip





Aaaaaand we’re back!

Holy shit, y’all: Wisconsin is FULL OF DEAD PEOPLE. I’m not kidding. You can’t go a mile in any direction without stumbling over a gravestone. And while half of the cemetery plots I’ve seen in the Fox River valley area are the yawnworthy wedge-o-granite variety, this area was settled by white folks with funereal hang-ups in the Victorian era, and many of their resting places show off the aesthetic values (or lack thereof) of those wonderfully repressed people.

Guess the Good Book fell out of favor with this family after a generation?
Or maybe the family fell and couldn’t get up...

My serendipitous partner Scott and I made a photo trip through Oak Hill Cemetery in Neenah, Wisconsin a few weeks ago when there was still a bit of snow on the ground. (Isn’t that a great name? Don’t trip! NEENAH NEENAH!) We snagged a few pics of anything which caught our attention, from lovely, ornate carvings to Victorian hubris. So grab a snack, ‘cause trompin’ around in the snow with dead folks makes you hungry.

MAUSOLEUM: n. The Final and funniest folly of the rich. – Ambrose Bierce



First up: the mausoleum of one Charles R. Smith, with a decidedly Deco flair. Note the stylized sphinxes and gratuitous Latin. (I’m pretty sure it reads: “Here lies a dude with lots of money who wanted his tomb right up front here so everybody knows what a swell guy he was.”)









The cherry on this sundae is the cool lion guarding the door:








There are a handful of rare iron tomb markers here. Useful for keeping the fae folk in their damned graves, I guess. (Zombie tommyknockers?) All the ones we found were impressed in German. Many of the cemeteries here have a high percentage of Germanic, Dutch, and Nordic names; I’m having a field day collecting them. Never know when you’ll need an obscure German surname for a story. (I’m lookin’ at you, Sue London.)







The anchor on that guy’s marker isn’t the only sign of seamen being buried far from the briny deep, nor the coolest. That  honor goes to this wonderful mashup of treestump and naval symbology:




Esoteric orders often found in abundance in the burial grounds of the South seem largely absent here, though we did run across these two subtle proclamations:













There also seem to be some disturbing graves here. I really hope these aren’t premonitions in stone.

Doctor Strange is a comic hero. Joss Whedon writes comics. 

COINCIDENCE?

We also discovered some curious tracks, leading from and to nowhere... (cue suspenseful music):


Despite some car trouble (oddly starting soon after we took those three photos...I’m not saying it’s aliens, BUUUUT...), we had a great day. And there are many more boneyards just in our immediate region to explore and document! The loveliest of them, Riverview Cemetery in Appleton, begs for an afternoon of tromping around. 



We haven’t had the opportunity yet to fully explore it, but here’s a teaser, taken at dusk on Valentine’s:



Remember: if you haven’t yet mapped out where the graveyards are in your neighborhood, you’ll be caught unprepared when the zombies rise. Don’t let this happen to you!



More photos! Check out the gallery on my G+ page.

ICYMI: My flash-fiction "The Munchies" was posted on deadlyeverafter as part of a series of   "March Madness" fiction shorts. Not for the squeamish, but you can read it here. Be sure to check out the other entries as well: some great mad-creepy things throughout the month!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

TAKE OFF to the Great Cheesy North!



Oh, for exciting!

Thanks to everyone who chipped in to the Frogdonut Alliance Indiegogo campaign, we raised enough funds for me to drive over 1900 miles, going from 90 F to 40 F in three days. So, I’ll undoubtedly be blogging with a sniffle next time, but I’ll be OUT of the horrendous Tucson oven and in beautiful, cloudy Cheeseland! Presumably Richard Cheese hails from there, or is at least a big tourism promoter.

No comment is necessary.

My brain has been crazed for a few weeks, organizing every possible detail of the trip and forgetting to sleep, but they tell me the swelling in the left temporal lobe definitely looks a little less puffy today, so here I am. Most of my belongings are packed, the car is repaired and spiffyclean, motel reservations are confirmed, and today I learned that the very Santa-paradey store where I work is approving my job transfer, so I’ll have cash coming in almost immediately. w00t!

Yes, dear, there IS a job opening!
But try to take mine and I WILL
cut a bitch.

I’ll be driving through territory unfamiliar to me. I promise to stay off the goddamned moors, and not to feed the inmates. Sadly, I won’t have time to stop for giant fiberglass chicken statues or the Hair Museum, but I promise to take pics along the way. Maybe I’ll document how many items of clothing I’m forced to don as the trip progresses and the ambient temperature drops. Departure date is a week from today!

For anyone reading my steampunk serial novel, I WILL resume storytelling as soon as I’m settled in with my gorgeous, brilliant, lusty fiance...well, as soon as I have time! For anyone who just wants steampunk cereal, a word of advice: don’t add those cute little gear-and-sprocket beads to your Lucky Charms. Not even encased in marshmallows. Too crunchy.


See you on the other side, Ray!

Happy Halloween, and may the full power
of an unlicensed nuclear accelerator
be with you!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

All Hallows' Road Trip!

"Seriously? Candy canes?"
Nearly Halloween! I’ve begun wearing my googly-eyed skeleton earrings and grinning-pumpkin socks...nah, I lie: I wear those all year. Still, the impending festivities have me giddy despite the stupendous and continued misery of the Arizona Easy-Bake Oven weather. Spooky props and pumpkin-spiced-meats in all the stores! Fake leaves decorating shelves of corporate-sponsored sugary cholesterol builders! Trees and bulbs and...what the utter FUCK who put their Yule in my Halloween?!


Just a couple of points here today. First, if you’re participating in All Hallows' Read, check out these FREE, deliciously morbid and creepifying posters by Sabrina Zbasnik! She makes new designs every year, and they’re killer. Why not hang a few over the mantel with your dirty socks, so that He Who Walks Behind the Gourds will leave extra candy for you this year?

BOW DOWN TO YOUR DARK LORD, CHARLIE BROWN!
(art from http://www.darkhallmansionstore.com/)

You DID remember to say your prayers to the Great Pumpkin, yes? He Who Must Not Be Seeded? No? Heathens. You’re all heathens, and I wash my bloody smock of you.

The other item I wish to hold up for inspection like a freshly severed spinal column is also the reason why I’m extra giddy about Halloween this year: ROAD TRIP!!

You can view all the steps through the link above,
but here's a general idea of my route.
Before the snows drench all of Cheeseland in cold curds, I intend to journey from Tucson to Appleton to be with my soulmate. This is the route I’m planning to take. There’s a slightly shorter one, but that travels through more barren wastelands, which I dislike; IF anything should go wrong, I’d rather it was within reach of a town than in the middle of East BFE. If any of you know parts of this route well and have any tips, suggestions, etc, please let me know: comment here, tweet at me, or email. Planning on stopping overnight in La Junta, CO and West Des Moines; don’t want to have more than 12 hours drive time on any one day.

Our fundraising campaign, the Frogdonut Alliance, still needs your help, and let me emphasize that even small contributions really DO make a difference in this case! Five bucks? You just bought me lunch on the road one day. Ten? Change of oil before I go. The more we can raise, the better off we’ll begin our Cohabitation of Excellence! And please keep spreading the word. Two weeks left to chip in!  

THE COUNTDOWN TO SEXYTI--HALLOWEEN, I mean Halloween, HAS BEGUN! WOOOOO!


Thursday, September 18, 2014

FROGDONUT IS GO!

We are finally LIVE with our fundraiser! The FROGDONUT ALLIANCE is up and running, and needs support at every level! No, it’s not charity: we’re giving away cool perks aplenty, from Scott’s awesome kitbash mech sculptures and my jewelry to our pro skillz at a slight discount. Everything we raise goes toward moving me to Cheeseland, where my fiance and I can collaborate in person, raise the dead, bring about the zombie apocaly--- er. I mean, make cool art together. Yeah.

We understand many of our friends and family are in the same financial suck-it-in position as we are. But hey, please pass on the link, and talk up the cause for us, huh? It’s good karma. Plus, you’ll get to see us create wonderful weirdness together. It’s hella better building skeleton props, freaky collages, and writing songs and stories together when you’re RIGHT THERE to bounce ideas back and forth.

Not to mention, you really do need more than two tentacles to perform the Elder God Raising Ceremony...

So please, spread the word! Chip in a buck or five! Snigger at how goofy we look on camera! (No, we’re not buying you popcorn to rewatch it again.)

More regular weirdness and updates soon. Excuse me. Something’s banging on the walled-over well in the basement again...have to go get some tuna from the store...


SANITY CHECK!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Your Argument Is Invalid

I’ve been wondering a great deal lately about the intertwined concepts of time and happiness. I know folks who fill their schedules with all kinds of activity, work or classes, things they believe they need to do and, all too often, very little they want to do. Until a few months ago, I was in that rank. And believe me, it is pretty rank, that feeling of being trapped in your own life.

"And who told you to screw over all your contributors?
Could it be, I don't know...SATAN?"
Aw, fuck, you say: don’t tell me she went and became born-again!

HELL NO. However, my outlook has changed. I’ve written very little this summer, partly due to the lack of an air-conditioned, noncrowded environment (I am not one of those lucky souls who can write on a bus, or really anywhere populated by loud, moving distractions), but partly because I’ve been engrossed in other pursuits. This isn’t a bad thing. In fact, this is the first time in my life that I haven’t sensed the Reaper standing behind me, looking at his watch and then at my (lack of) personal publication credits. I’ve done a little editing for others, some reading, some art...and this is the first time in years I’ve been inspired to DO and to MAKE stuff, and have done so. So, I haven’t been creatively idle, and I’m happy with that, even though my writing has lagged.

Also, much of my time has been involved in dreaming and planning for a future with my fiance. As he’s fantastically creative in ways I’ve never considered before, he’s a marvelous inspiration; we toss ideas back and forth like a deranged game of badminton every day. A great deal of time and creative effort has gone into our Indiegogo campaign (which, fingers crossed, launches later this week). So again: productive and enjoyable.

That’s nice, you say. Now what does that have to do with the price of slaves in corporate America? Well...everything. The point is, I’m not worried about meeting self-imposed deadlines anymore. I’ll get to it all. And I’ll enjoy it. Even if I never hit the bestseller lists, even if we have to scrounge for bill money, even if we hold several odd jobs simultaneously. Because the majority of my and my fiance’s time will be spent making art, exploring the world around us, and enjoying each other. And this is what life should be...for everyone.

Yeah, right, you say. That’s sweet and all. But some of us have to live in the REAL WORLD.



What makes you think the real world has to be full of Mostly Shit You Don’t Want to Do But Have To?

But...job security! Retirement! Bills! Success!

The asshole of Success.
Wait. Face of.
I get those confused.
Yeah...fuck that. I’m not saying some of that isn’t important. I’m saying people place far too much emphasis on things they honestly hate. Whatever your spiritual beliefs, we only have one shot at this life. So many years between gaining some education and watching our bodies decay. Decades are nothing. WHY ARE YOU WASTING SO MUCH TIME DOING THINGS YOU DISLIKE? Why take classes you don’t enjoy, just to “pad out” your schedule? Why toil at a job where your work isn’t appreciated – or worse, is largely meaningless? Why fill up a day with so many things that you have “no time” for stuff you actually enjoy? That’s madness. It’s a madness that sucks us all in. The great lie of our society, for centuries, has been driven like concrete pilings into the once-fertile swamps of our imaginations: DO WORK YOU HATE BECAUSE OTHERWISE YOU WILL STARVE. (Variations: Work Hard No Matter What Because if You Don’t You’ll Go to Hell; and If You Don’t Have Tons of Money You’re a Failure.)

A truth, which I realize is far from new, but which only hit me recently: it’s far better to be happy than wealthy. I barely get by. But this is the happiest I’ve ever been. I’m able to let bullshit dealt by others mostly slide off, whereas before I would’ve brooded for weeks. I’m impatient to move, but not worried. It will happen, and soon. Oh sure, I’m in love; the endorphins in my brain blah blah yakety schmackety blah blah. You know what? That’s not what this newfound contentment is about. Love is certainly part of that, but the overarching theme here, guys, is possibility. My misanthropy, twisted imagination, and weirdness is of such a particular curve that I believed a “soulmate” impossible for me. Yet we found each other, and within two days of talking, knew we’d found The One. Odds were so against this, that it’s made me reevaluate my beliefs about everything.
 
Except this. This still sucks ass.
 It’s made me realize I don’t need to slave at anything I hate. I don’t need to get this creative project done like yesterday what the hell is wrong with you lazy cow. I have perhaps 30 years of health left to me. Why the fuck would I waste them doing things that don’t make me happy?

Why does anyone? What's that? You have REASONS, you say?



So, from a neophyte neoVictorian writer and happily creative weirdo, take this and chew on it a good long while, peoples: Stop thinking you HAVE to do ANYTHING. You ALWAYS have the option of not doing it. Are there consequences? Sure. Now weigh those against how fucking miserable you’re making yourself.

Is misery really the sane choice? How many years do you have left? Forty, twenty, ten? Tomorrow?

Stop that shit right now. Do what makes you happy.


Don’t make me turn this thing around.