Thursday, December 21, 2017

So, Just Who's the Monster Here?

The Alligator People. Wendy and I watched it last night. Yes, it’s a ridiculous title, but it’s a good film, a well done film. They’re playing it straight. And with superb direction by Roy Del Ruth (The Maltese Falcon, Ziegfield Follies), it shows.

Seems I’ve seen it before, or at least something like it. One of those people-turning-into-animal films. And, spoiler alert here. Yes, our hero/victim/monster turns into a sort of alligator near the end of the film. Betcha couldn’t see that one coming, could you? But that’s not the important thing. As with many of these films, the monster isn’t the real monster. Fact is, he doesn’t kill anyone. He avoids people best he can in the swamps of Georgia. At least I remember them saying it was Georgia in the movie, although one of the filming locations was Louisiana.

But I’m getting way ahead of myself. It’s a backstory movie, beginning with Beverly Garland’s character, Joyce Webster, undergoing hypnosis and relating an impossible tale to her employer, a doctor. She’s a nurse at his clinic, and the doctor and another doctor are debating on whether to reveal to her everything she’s told them while hypnotized. She’s blanked everything out, can’t remember a thing, but otherwise seems perfectly adjusted. Right now, I don’t remember why she was hypnotized in the first place.

As one of the minor sub-plots, this does bring up a good question. If someone has no dysfunction, and their doctor discovers something horrific in their past they can’t (or don’t want to) remember, should the doctor tell the patient?

So, on to Joyce’s story. She’s just married Paul Webster, and they’re on a train, heading to their honeymoon destination. They’re happy, in love, and suddenly Paul receives a telegram that upsets him. At the next stop, he gets off the train to make a phone call. Of course, misses boarding the train, and Joyce travels on down the line minus her husband. The only thing she knows about his past is that his home in Georgia (Louisiana) was something called The Cypresses. Oh, she also knows he had been a pilot (can’t remember if he had been in the service, but I’m guessing so—movie was released in 1959), his plane cracked up, and he had been more alive than dead, and miraculously restored to perfect health. Hmm… starting to see a good scientific-breakthrough type of cure here.

One plot hole here. How come Joyce knows so little about her husband? Ah, but we’ll let that slide.

So, Joyce is on the trail of her absentee husband, finally finding The Cypresses Plantation, and makes a trip there. Not like these days of the Internet, where she can just Google Map it.
At the train station, kind of a desolate place, she gets her first sampling of bayou wildness when she meets Manon (Lon Chaney Jr.), handyman at the Cypresses. Lon gives a wonderfully gritty and wild performance as the drunken caretaker. He comes complete (incomplete?) with a hook in place of his right hand. Bayou, alligator country, hook-for-a-hand… I’ll just leave that right there for now.

Anyway, I need to work on some editing right now, so I’ll return to bayou country later.

Keep writing, friends.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

A Quest that Began a Long Time Ago in a Village Far, Far Away

Am I referring to Star Wars? Well, yes, but also the other classic hero myths from which it arose. The one I'm thinking of currently is considered the earliest recorded work of Western literature, "The Epic of Gilgamesh". Considering that, I'm both surprised and relieved that Hollywood or whosoever wishes to tackle it, hasn't done so.

I've been obsessed (don't know if that's a good or a bad thing) with the hero quest ever since I first saw Star Wars in a theater in Evansville, Indiana, many years ago. Actually, my fascination goes back further, to movies like Ulysses, Jason and the Argonauts, and some of my favorite superhero comic books such as "Batman" and "Superman". During my unsettled, questioning times, they motivated me, inspired me. I remember leaving the theater after watching Star Wars for that first time, driving back to my apartment in my 1973 Chevy Nova, firing my blasters at the cars in the oncoming lane. It had been a bad day at work. Fortunately, I had no blasters.

Reading about Gilgamesh, I want to know more. This book I just finished, "Gilgamesh", by David Ferry, has only raised more questions. While not a direct translation, it gives the feel of this hero quest. And what intrigues me as much as the story itself, is the journey of discovery of the retelling. Because, like the King Arthur tales, it evolves.

Gilgamesh was, apparently, a real Sumerian king, tales of which were told long after he shuffled off. Pieces and parts were written on clay tablets, and they have crawled their way out of the twenty-seventh century B.C.E. weaving a trail, to today. The myths, naturally, grew. Of this wild man/king/demigod, who ruled over his city of Uruk. Who, because he was so uncontrollable, the gods created a brother for him, the equally untamed Enkidu, the idea being that Gilgamesh would have someone to fight with to dispel his fierce energies.

Together, these warrior brothers fought monsters, eventually learning of their mortality. After Enkidu's death, Gilgamesh traveled far, seeking immortality.

I shall write more of this later. This is just a small part of how these stories interrelate.

Keep writing, friends. And seek out your own hero quests.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

The Redundants

It was another of those mornings when I woke up with odd ideas bouncing around my noggin. Nothing unusual there, but I figured I'd inflict it on my readers.

I had the idea of superheroes who are no longer necessary or useful. I mentioned the idea to Wendy and she came up with The Redundants for their League of Futility. Sort of a useless Justice League. Anyway, my main superhero is The Appendix. His super power? No one knows for certain, but if he disappears, we're in trouble. So, he's a bargaining chip. In dire situations, we threaten the bad guys by saying, "If you continue being bad, we'll remove The Appendix."

Actually, he does have another ability. If other superheroes need to know about the various powers and weaknesses of super-villains, they can refer to The Appendix.

Which brings me to another question. The word 'vestigial'. I looked it up online on the good ol' Merriam-Webster site, and it says: "remaining in a form that is small or imperfectly developed and not able to function." It's been said the appendix is a vestigial organ. So, perhaps The Appendix's sidekick could be Vestigial, the Redundant Wonder.

And here's another concern I have. If there's a vestigial organ, well, then, you just kick it out of the band and replace it with a piano. Something like that.

Oh, yeah, some of the other members of The Redundants are Captain Corvair, Lady 8 Track, and The Weed. The Weed isn't redundant, but the other members are always trying to get rid of him.

Keep writing, friends.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Poetry Ain't Got to Rhyme to be Poetry

Yup, I've been away from the electronic page for a bit, so I'm sneaking up on it. Laying down just a few words here and there to get my neurons firing again. So, today, I'm cheating a little. Here's some really bad poetry for you. You've been warned.

Upon this tooth-bedraggled shore
Did They once come
From Before
Beneath the glass sands
Their bodies lie
To rot
But They
In Their Unquenchable sleep
Arose in the minds of us
To lay waste to all to follow
Upon the tooth-bedraggled shore

That's all I've got for now. More later after the neurons are firing again.

Keep writing, friends.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Do Not Fear the Cliche

I know I've harped before about the danger and overuse of cliches, but there are times when you can't beat a cliche to get your message across. And a well-placed cliche can touch off a whole flood of memories. I just used one -- "a whole flood of...", where you can insert whatever you want to flood.

Something to consider when using cliches is they come in visual and auditory varieties, not just the written ones. We were watching a batch of older horror flicks over the weekend, and some of the visual cliches that popped up were:
  • Scientists must wear white lab coats
  • Frightened women must flee in terror ("flee in terror" is a written cliche) and fall down when running away
  • Whoever wanders off alone will be eaten or whatever by the critter. They're the equivalent of someone wearing a red shirt on Star Trek. Monster fodder.
  • Fire destroys most monsters
And then there are the auditory cliches:
  • Those white lab coat-bedecked scientists must speak with bad German accents
  • If someone is the least bit hysterical, or possibly could become hysterical, they must need a sedative
  • The creaking door
  • Peal of thunder (there's a triple, as you must have preceding it the flash of lightning, and in writing, "peal of thunder" is a cliche)
Remember, though, not all cliches are bad. Some, when properly placed in our writing, can bring forth a knowing laugh. In the proper context, "Trust me," or, "I've got a bad feeling about this" connects a story to other adventure stories. I am, in this case, referring to Star Wars, but I'm sure plenty of other characters prior spoke those lines in dire situations.

Also, if you're writing satirical disaster flicks, "I've never seen anything like this before," will guarantee you some laughs.

Happy trails, live long and prosper, and be seeing you.

Keep writing, friends.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Observations from Writers' Group

Just want to get a few of these ideas down before I forget them. 'Course, I've perhaps already forgotten some, but they'll come back to me.

Be aware of your writer's tell. No, not William Tell. A writer's tell is a subconscious tic added to your writing. It's neither good nor bad, it just is. Mine is using the word 'just', as I just did three times in the last two paragraphs. It's not a bad thing. But when you use it all the time it can pull your reader out of the story.

For a little more about the writer's tell, click here: Writer's Tell

"I don't know what to do about this," John responded. Or John exclaimed. Or John yammered. Just use 'said'. Dialog tags should be invisible. They're messengers, and just like messengers, we don't need to notice them. "Only the message," John said. Oh, and did you notice, my tell slipped in twice in this paragraph? Annoying yet?

Watch for shifting perspective. If you're doing the third-person omniscient thingy, otherwise known as the god view, then, yeah, you can slip in and out of your characters' heads. But if you're doing, say, third-person limited, where you're mainly in one person's head, or a first-person perspective, then all of a sudden, you're writing from a different character's viewpoint, that can be troublesome. Just something to watch out for. And, oops, slid another tell in.

More later.

Keep writing, friends.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

A Fun Romantic Comedy in Singleland

Okay, folks, time for a quick ad. My wife, Wendy Currier Zumwalt, penned this terrific comedy about a young woman trying to find the ideal man. But then, she decides, perhaps she's better off remaining single. So.... she takes a class called... Singleminded.

Getting close to Christmas, and this would make a great gift. Here's the link:


Keep writing, friends.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Was He Mad or Just Really Angry?

Madness. I like a little bit of madness in a film, especially when it's Vincent Price playing the part.

First, though, what am I talking about? Why, none other than one of the finest madness-imbued stories, Diary of a Madman. Guy de Maupassant wrote the story (The title of his story was "The Horla", one I kind of remember reading way back in high school.) back in the 1800s, and it made it to celluloid, released March 6th, 1963. Last night, fifteen of us brave Scoobies managed to stay relatively sane while watching the horla toy with us innocent humans.

Well, okay, perhaps the characters in the movie weren't totally innocent. But, they weren't murderers. At least, not until the horla dropped in for a visit.

I think I've seen bits and pieces of the movie over the years, so I enjoyed seeing it in its entirety last night. And, yes, it's cheesy at times, but it's 1960s cheesy. You just can't go wrong when Mr. Price soliloquizes. Lavish Victorian sets, tall hats, horse-drawn carriages, and everyone's wearing the curtains. Really had that E. A. Poe feel, especially with the looming madness. Mr. Poe would've smiled.

Also, Mr. Lovecraft. I just the meaning of horla in Wikipedia (yeah, I know, it's not an authoritative source), and according to Mr. Wiki, horla is a loose derivative of the French words "hors" ("outside") and "la" ("there"). Stretch it a bit, and you have "out there". Okay, stretch it a lot. But it does have that Lovecraft theme of the "outsiders".

So, Diary is about a kindly, law-abiding French magistrate, played by Mr. Price, who becomes possessed by this evil spirit called the horla. Gradually, the evil beastie exerts its influence over Magistrate Simon Cordier, getting him to commit murder. I love one of the taglines for the movie -- "He upholds the law, except when he murders".

Watch for supreme character actor Ian Wolfe, who plays Cordier's butler, Pierre. The man was literally in everything over the span of his career, with more than 300 acting credits.

This is an entertaining film, and it really held my attention. You can pretty well figure out the ending, but don't let that stop you from watching it. Everyone goes mad a little every so often.

Cue maniacal laughter: Bwa ha ha ha ha!

Keep writing, friends.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Frightening the Normals

Finally nearing the end of editing my novel. Well, I still have two or three hundred pages to go, but this is it. The last run-through. I'm at the place now where I'm reading it aloud to myself, hearing the words, how they sound. Also, as usual, music is involved. As I've written my novel, selection of music is important. At the moment, I've been listening to some classical selections -- some of the Romeo and Juliet Ballet by Prokofiev.

Something to keep in mind, if you writers out there haven't already discovered, is that sometimes, especially during battle sequences, it requires you get loud. I do occasionally scare my cats, as I get looks like, "Well, we love him, but he's waving his arms about at nothing we can see, and shouting like a maniac." Also, it's not a good idea to do this part of editing at coffee shops. Coffee can get sloshed about, and they will ask you to leave. Unless it's a coffee shop that caters to creatives. Then they're used to that sort of thing.

Uh oh. Got to work on my battle sequence. Carmina Burana is playing. Where's my sword?

Keep writing, friends.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Voices of the Walls

What these stone walls could tell us.

Set in Ha Ha Tonka State Park, we found the ruins of an early twentieth century-castle. Constructed from the native stone and timber, this was to be the home of Kansas City businessman, Robert McClure Snyder. Unfortunately, in 1906, Snyder died in an automobile accident, never seeing his mansion finished.

Some time later, a stray spark destroyed the structure.

Walking around the place, you can feel the history. It has very much a European, and an ancient, feel. The stone looked like sandstone, but also perhaps granitic. It's impressive and magnificent up close, and perched as it is on a high bluff in the park, we could see the trees and waters below.

We heard the echoes of his dreams there.

Keep writing, friends.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A River Runs Through It

Well, not exactly through it. More like alongside it.

Once upon a time, back in the 1800s, actually from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s, the port city of Cairo, Illinois was a boom place. Even Charles Dickens visited it. but Cairo has had its problems, and now, sadly, it's a shell of a town.

Wendy and I and a couple of good friends of ours drive through this southernmost Illinois city the other day, mainly because it's such a fascinating place of contradictions. Of formerly beautiful and magnificent Victorian mansions that now have the Addams family look.

Cairo bumps against the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, but, traffic was diverted away from the city many years ago by two bridges. Now there's not much to support it. Seemed appropriate, in a way, to post these photos of the once-thriving community on Halloween.

Keep writing, friends.

Friday, October 13, 2017

It's About Time

Yes, it is. Time travel, it is. And a few other matters fantastical, science fictional, and horrifical.

I was in one of those near-dream states while trying to wake up or go to sleep the other day, I don't remember which. You know, where the half-real blends with the half-not-so-real. Anyway, I was thinking about a few issues involved in supernormal writing.

Time travel, for example. Ya gotta be real careful when writing about time travel. I love time travel stories, have been fascinated with them ever since I read The Time Tunnel back in the late 60s. As with so many other science fiction themes, it's easy to get hung up on the idea of time travel. You know, the old "Well, if I go back and throttle Adolf Hitler before he came to power" sort of deal. That becomes the stuff of late-night-too-much-coffee-or-other-chemical conversations between fanboys or other writers.

When using time travel, it's best to have it as just another tool. It's a vehicle. It can get you to the past or the future. Just don't let all the minutiae get caught up in your story. 

Not to be ragging on other works, but there was a TV series Wendy and I watched for a while called Heroes. Great show until they got lost in their plot devices. They had this character named Hiro, who could hop about in space and time. So, they fell into the trap of having him change things in the future or the past anytime they needed to write themselves out of a jam. Uh uh. No can do, folks.

Which leads to another theme in the fantastical. Godlike powers. Take Superman, for example. Sometime in the late 60s to 70s, I don't really remember when, he lost his kryptonite weakness. So, he became pretty much ultra-powerful. Nothing could stop him. And with that, he became uninteresting. There's no conflict for a character like that.

And that's a topic for the next post. We'll pick up there later.

Keep writing, friends.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Well, Askews Me!

Hi de ho, folks, I'm in print again. I'm a member of a great online writing group called Rhetoric Askew, and they have just released volume 4 of Anthology Askew, featuring many talented authors.

It's chock full of lots of vitamin-packed words. It'll be good for your head.

Y'know what? It's best if I just stop rambling and copy and paste from their Facebook announcement. Here 'tis:

We did it again!
It is with pride and pleasure that I announce Anthology Askew Volume 004: Askew Communications is live and available for purchase!
Once again, we have collected over 200 pages of talented artists, poets and authors, and this 4th book in the series is as amazing as the first three!
all the information will be available soon at:

And, as always:

Keep writing, friends.

Friday, September 22, 2017

No, it Really Was a Drone

Yep, sure was. Right there in Gravel Switch. But more about that little flying electronic insect in a minute.

It was a warm one that day, and we had about an hour before the running of the outhouses, so we wandered around a bit, heard some good music by Some Rock Band (not sure, but I think that was their name) -- a little Johnny Cash, The Beatles, and Buddy Holly. Only two food booths that we could see, but they were well-stocked.

The first booth had your usual fair fare -- corn dogs, dogs, burgers. The second booth had a little more variety, namely smoked bologna and baked beans with peaches. I had the smoked bologna, with marinated onions, and Wendy had the baked beans, minus the peaches. My sandwich looked like something Fred Flintstone would've eaten, but man, was it good. I just won't need any meat for the next month.

Time to gather for the race, so Wendy and I headed over to the strip of road where they'd have it. Parade first, which consisted of a tractor, the four entries, and a guy on a Segway. That was when I noticed something hovering in the air. At first I thought it was a dragonfly, but the perspective was off. It didn't bob in the air the way a kite would. That's when I saw it do right-angle turns. Ah ha! I thought. Gravel Switch has a drone. We figured it was taking pictures of the races.

Well, it was time for the races. The first race was between two bicycle looking contraptions that didn't look anything like outhouses. Race 2 was more like it. Both had outhouse-like structures, one of which looked like an outhouse had landed on a bicycle-style dragster. And man, could they run with those things. Here's a pic:

I couldn't get a good shot, but you get the idea.

So, that was our outhouse outing. In case you're interested, it's called the Great American Outhouse Blowout, in Gravel Switch, Kentucky. And remember. It's actually a few miles outside of Gravel Switch. I recommend a paper map. And a park ranger.

Keep writing, friends.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Running for Outhouse Gold

...and picking up from yesterday, we head back down the highway, armed doubly with GPS and paper map. I'd actually given up on the GPS, so I was putting my faith in our brand new map, making sure that when we got to Gravel Switch, we pushed on down highway 243.

Now, understand that we saw nary a sign advertising the Outhouse Festival, otherwise known as the Great American Outhouse Blowout (love the title!), but I followed the park ranger's directions as best I could. We were still on a paved road, so I figured we were still in decent shape.

Well, we finally saw a small sign, and turned down a gravel road, where we paid ten bucks to get in. We'd been wanting to do this for years, so ten dollars wasn't bad. Following the drive back, we got to Penn's Store, a smallish wood general store. After parking, we strolled (that's what you do at an outhouse festival--you stroll. Unless you've really got to go, then you run.) into the store, and saw that it was a might crowded with dogs and people. The people were walking around. The dogs, large yellow hounds, were imitating throw rugs. We had to step over them, and they didn't seem to mind one bit.

We looked around a bit, then headed outside to see the collection of four or five booths with artwork, of which there were one or two with some exceptionally good work. One in particular, belonged to Yolantha Pace, a Danville, Kentucky artist, who had some gorgeous stylized horses painted on coffee mugs. Nice size mugs, too. We bought one. It'll hold a proper cup of Joe. Here's a photo of Yolantha.

And, I've run out of time again, folks. I'll continue with the rest of our saga tomorrow.

Keep writing, friends.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Gravel Switch Drones

Actually, there was just one drone. More about that soon.

We started out the morning, a Saturday morning, hitting one of our favorite breakfast spots in Nicholasville, KY. A great little mom-and-pop diner called The Cottage Café. They serve a fantastic guilty pleasure of ours, fried bologna.

Anyway, Wendy and I had planned on running errands, but being as it's September, and all manner of festivals and whatnot crank up this time of year, I said, "Hey, hon, know what? Wonder if they still have the Outhouse Festival. We've talked about going there for years." So, I searched on the smart-aleck phone, and, Yep! It was still happening. We finished breakfast, hopped in the car, and away we headed down highway 27 South.

We hadn't gone that direction much before, so we saw several new places we need to explore one of these days. One of which is Pete's Diner. Anytime we see a sign for a diner, we need to check it out.

So, the ol' GPS routed us through Danville, after hopping on 34. Then 34 to 68 (best I recall), then on to 243, to Gravel Switch.

Brief Public Service Announcement here. You folks who've been reading my blog for a bit know that, yes, I like to use the GPS on my phone, but as Wendy and I learned last year during our travels through New England, sometimes you can't beat a paper map. And what didn't we have on Saturday? A paper map. Which, as it turned out, wouldn't have helped us out much on this particular day, anyway. Sooooo.....

We get to Gravel Switch (don't know why it's called that yet. I will find out, though), and... no signs anywhere for any festivals, Outhouse or otherwise. Now, there's not much in Gravel Switch, so we ran up and down a couple of roads and decided we'd head back up the road to Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site instead. Can't see an Outhouse Festival, might as well see some Civil War stuff, we figured.

At Perryville State Park, Wendy and I go inside to see the museum first, and the park ranger inside asks what brings us that way. We tell him we were going to the Outhouse Festival first, and he laughs and says, "You're not missing much."

So, we tell him that we couldn't find it anywhere in Gravel Switch, and he tells us it's about five miles on the other side of Gravel Switch. Longish story short, he pulls out a Kentucky map and shows us how to get there. Well, now we have to get to the festival, seeing as how we just scored a new map.

Back in the car, and off to find outhouses. And this is where I leave you for now, as I have to go catch up on other stuff. I will finish up the saga of the Gravel Switch drones tomorrow, I promise, as today I have "...miles to go before I sleep." Sorry, Mr. Frost. I really should take time to read the whole poem sometime. Ah, well, one more thing on the list.

Here's part two of the Amazing Outhouse Adventure: The Amazing Outhouse Adventure Part Deux

And part three: The Amazing Outhouse Adventure Part Three

Keep writing, friends. And stay tuned tomorrow....

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Writing is But a Dream

Had one of my dreams the other night involving writing. If only I could harness that and turn out a novel while sleeping.

Anyway, I remember I was giving advice to a friend of mine who wanted to be a writer. He was working two jobs, and didn't know how get the words down with his busy schedule. I told him one thing he could do was take the energy and emotion from what he experienced at work and channel that into his story and characters. Angry, happy, sad, whatever, and put that in his work. It's actually a technique I've used while awake.

So, while I was talking to my dream friend, he said he'd give it a go. He then excused himself as he had to get back to serving food in one of those mobile food stands. He then put on a yellow and red hat that had a small tree on the top and proceeded to pluck nuts off the branches and hand them to his customers.

Everyone don their tree hats and start channeling.

Keep writing, friends.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Lucy, They're Home!

Before we started watching it the other night, I wasn't sure how slap-sticky House of the Long Shadows (1983) would get, especially as it had Desi Arnaz Jr. (billed in the credits as Desi Arnaz--not sure why, as his dad was still around). But he did well, playing straight man. Sometimes with comedic-horror films, they force the comedy in there, and, well, it just doesn't work. But this time it flowed.

On Tuesday, September 5th, our band of Scoobies gathered at the Tates Creek Library to watch this tribute film featuring four of the greats of horror -- Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, and John Carradine. This was the only time all four would appear in a film together, and it was a treat to see these masters at work. I would actually call it a tongue-in-cheek parody (or self-parody), as the inside jokes would easily fill an old dark house.

Actually, thinking about it, it's more a tip o' th' hat to those Ghosts of Horror Films Past. The movie title gives that away, as it refers to the long shadows these four actors cast.

Okay, enough hero worshiping. On with the show.

Arnaz is Kenneth Magee, a young, successful author, who takes a bet that he can stay 24 hours at -- cue lightning flash -- Baldpate Manor. But not just stay there. Nope. He has to write a Wuthering Heights-style novel while there, and deliver it to his publisher.

Baldpate is supposed to be unoccupied, but when Magee arrives on that dark and stormy night, he finds, their faces appearing one-by-one in candlelight throughout the evening, some rather peculiar inhabitants. And, as the winds howl, and the thunder crashes, we have mystery, murder, and mayhem, old-school style. All while Mr. Magee tries to complete his novel.

One of the many things I love about this movie is that these masters of their craft have an absolute ball playing versions of their past roles. They poke fun at themselves and each other, as when, after Vincent Price's character is introduced, he says, in his most eloquent manner, "Don't interrupt me while I'm soliloquizing."

Devious little references in one form or another pop up throughout. We even have a "Brad and Janet" stopping by, seeking shelter from the storm.

Interesting to note, too, that this was Christopher Lee's and Peter Cushing's 24th and final film together.

Some good laughs, and several good startles, as they did it in the old days. All horror fans must see this one.

A side note: the Scoobies of the Tates Creek Library Classic Horror Film Club (try fitting that on a business card) would like to give a round of applause to Heather Prichard and the Tates Creek Public Library for providing us a place to shriek and howl the first Tuesday of every month. And a big thank you to Heather for our new lemonade dispenser that looks like either a Martian's brain (from Mars Attacks!), or a miniature nuclear cooling tower.

Keep writing, friends.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Who's Returning This Time?

I wonder how many films have started with "The Return of..."? Well, this one is no exception.

Wendy and I just finished watching The Return of Dracula (1958), a fun little fang-romp set someplace in not-so-sunny California. The famous Count, this time played menacingly but fanglessly by Francis Lederer, takes the place (after eliminating him) of an American family's visiting relative. Named Bellac Gordal (an obvious tip o' th' hat to Bela Lugosi, who died two years prior), the traveling Count begins adding to his vampire club.

It's fun, a bit cheesy, but it moves along nicely and has a good storyline. We only see blood at one point that I can remember. In an odd scene that was obviously spliced in, a newly-vampiric blind woman (Yes, they had to have a blind woman as the first victim. At least there wasn't a singing nun playing guitar for a sick girl.) is the first to get staked later, and the shot was definitely in color, as a miniature geyser of red blood spewed. All the rest of the movie was black-and-white.

Gage Clarke, who played Reverend Doctor Whitfield (yes, he's actually Reverend Doctor in the movie--I couldn't believe it, either), is a familiar face, having played in everything from Maverick to Alfred Hitchcock Presents to Gunsmoke.

Every Drac fan needs to catch this one.

Keep writing, friends.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Jingle All the Way

I've got spurs that jingle, jangle, jingle...

Went shopping with my wife this morning, and I was fine 'til we got to the hot dog section. Then it happened. The Armour hot dog song started banging around in my head, but all I could remember was:

Hot dogs, Armour hot dogs

And that was all I could get. I knew the tune, but couldn't come up with the rest of the lyrics. That was frustrating. Doubly so for Wendy, as she had to listen to me sing: "Hot dogs, Armour hot dogs."

Fortunately (for me, not for her), I saw the Oscar Mayer dogs, and pretty well know that one by heart. Come on, gang, sing it with me. Here 'tis:

I wish I were an Oscar Mayer Wiener
That is what I truly wish to be
'Cause if I were an Oscar Mayer Wiener
Everyone would be in love with me

She bought Field Hot Dogs.

And, speaking of jingles, I always figured the TV show Lassie should've had lyrics, so I came up with some. If the show ever comes back, I'm ready. They're sung to The Brady Bunch theme:

Here's the story
Of a boy named Timmy
And he fell down a very deep well
Then along came
A dog named Lassie
And everything was swell

You're welcome.

Keep writing, friends.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Sunday Afternoon, Wine, and Jazz

And not necessarily in that order. Perfect weather this past Sunday, August 27th, to hear the hottest frosty beasts around, the Baja Yetis. I forgot to wear my Yetis T-shirt that day, but they finally had CDs for sale. Yay! So, now I can listen to the Yetis anytime.

A perfectly bohemian atmosphere, too. Just the way I like it. Wendy and I and my father-in-law (who really loves jazz, by the way) like to get there early. Get a good seat up front, under a shade tree, that way. We packed our grub, carried our chairs, and a small fold-out table. Might as well be comfortable, y'know.

We weren't sure at first how many would appear. It got close to starting time, 3 o'clock, and not many folks yet. But right at three, here they came. Kids, dogs, and people in all shapes and sizes. Young, old, colorful costumes, folks doing artwork, a fellow on a powered, one-wheeled skateboard thing, everyone. Lots of color, lots of fun. Great vibes everywhere. It had sort of a carnival atmosphere.

Oh, and I forgot to mention the wine. This is part of the Jazz Arts Foundation, Inc., of Lexington, KY. Once a month, they have Jazz on the Porch at Talon Winery. And Talon has some mighty fine wine (apologies to Three Dog Night). This time we had their Monarch, a dry red, funky, with a hint of soul. Goes great with dark chocolate.

The Yetis play some of the best jazz/funk/soul I've heard, most of it their own concoction. Amazing talent coming from these guys. Yes, they play a few standards, such as Duke Ellington's "Caravan", and Horace Silver's "Song for My Father". But they crank out some jazz-rockin' originals. Did I mention they have a CD now? Called Gone Planet, it features ten Yeti originals.

I'd better get out of here afore I wear out my welcome. Before I go, though, I need to give a nod to Sunday's band members. We had Shaun Owens on trumpet, Danielle Barkman on drums, Bill Underwood on saxophone, Mark Falk on bass guitar, and Brandon Bowlds on guitar. Also joining them for a few songs was a member of another Lexington band called Coleslaw. His name is Jacob O'Donnell, and he has the fire. Plays sax like he's been playing it for a hundred years.

Great job, guys.

A few noteworthy sites before I head out:

The Jazz Arts Foundation, Inc. -- The Jazz Arts Foundation

Talon Winery -- Talon Winery

The Baja Yetis on Facebook -- The Baja Yetis

Keep writing, friends.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

I Know I Put it in a Real Careful Place

I prepared to start back to my novel editing last night, having gotten my writing fix resolved with a handful of blog posts. Hunted up the edits from my two beta readers, and... couldn't find pages 45 through 59 from one of my readers.

Okay, don't panic. I still have my work in progress. And I have those pages from my other reader, but it still wouldn't let me focus, like a splinter in the finger.

My wife, who is one of my readers, helped me look. We searched through every place I might have carried those pages off, then distractedly set them down. Nope. Nada. So, I sighed, slipped on my writing holsters and six-shooters, and said, "Well, I still have all your pages, hon. Plus, it's not as though I'd lost my work-in-progress." Which, as Wendy knows, would've required her to medicate me and have me committed if that'd happened.

Anyway, I called forth my Muse, Fairon, who just kept poking me in the shoulder, saying, "You're a writer. Write."

I sat down, set the pages beside my computer that I needed to work on, noticed there seemed to be too many pages to be just 15 in number. Idiot, I thought, as I counted them out, and there were the missing pages, stacked underneath the other ones. I laughed at myself, went upstairs and told Wendy, who breathed a sigh of relief, as she knows too well how stressed I get with that sort of thing, went back downstairs and got back to work, Fairon saying, "That, my supposedly non-superstitious friend, is an omen. Don't leave your work for that long again."

"Yes, ma'am," I said, and saluted her. She seemed mildly amused/annoyed at that, and reached over and drank my coffee.

"Hey! That's my coffee," I said.

"Quit stalling and write. Good coffee, by the way," Fairon said.

Keep writing, friends.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Ode to a Blotted Orb

I stood on our deck
And said what the heck?
And looked down on the ground

To my surprise
With no harm to me eyes
A shaded 'clipse, partially round

Keep writing, friends.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Where Have all the Good Words Gone?

Okay. Time to scooch up to the metaphorical table and get started. I had plenty of good ideas flying around my head in bed this morning. So, where are they now?

Crack the knuckles. Or... maybe not. A touch of Uncle Arthur (what my Uncle Buck used to call arthritis) in the hands these days. Probably from cracking my knuckles.

I had some sort of riff I was going with this morning about coffee, and all I can recall now is that I've had some good coffee lately. Also some tea disguised as coffee. Needed more Ummph!

Quick aside (reader warning: there may be several asides. Sorry). Ummph isn't in the Thesaurus. I found oomph and umph in various online dictionaries, but no ummph. Hmm, that's a shame.

Anyway, one of the best cups was, I believe, called Marksbury Bold, at Good Foods Co-Op, a good, bracing cup, that kicks you right in the forehead, but with zero after-taste. It would go outstandingly with some dark chocolate. And red wine. Merlot. On the deck.

Well, time for a coffee/wine/chocolate break afore I do some more writing.

Be seeing you.

Keep writing, friends.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Must... be.. More... Productive...

One of my gripes about current trends in some writing magazines is the push to be more efficient, more productive, more... more. Perhaps it's because I'm a lazy writer, or perhaps it's because in my former job as a computer programmer, the emphasis was on faster output. Even now, I hear the galley-slave drum beat. But enough whining.

One article recently spoke of "... conserving, protecting, and leveraging..." your time banging words out. That word leveraging in particular is one that's always annoyed me. What I'd like to see are more articles on writing techniques, grammar problems, or ways to deal with writing slumps. Telling me I need to write more, harder, faster is not helping.

Sorry, folks, guess this turned into a gripe session, but I think there are plenty of other writers out there who've run up against this issue.

Keep writing, friends. Not harder or faster. Just writing.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Just Getting the Fingers Moving

Just so you know, I'll be all over the place with this post. Apologies beforehand.

Trying to get the word-jam moving. No excuse. The last couple of weeks have been hectic, but even so, I could have been writing. Yeah, I did a little, but not every day. And I know what happens when I don't.

So, anyway, here I am, trying to get my scattered thoughts together. We've had the electrician in to fix a few things; plumber to replace the garbage disposal, and the plumber back the next day to fix what he didn't fix properly; car A/C fixed; doctor stuff; and just random busyness (or is it business?). So, today, a Sunday, I decided would be a day to ease back the throttle.

Oh, yes, and then there's the genealogy addiction. That's my drug for when I'm stressing.

Well, at least this feels better now, getting some words on the page.

The change in the weather has helped mellow me out, too, today. Sitting on the deck this morning with Wendy, I felt a little coolness to the air. Yeah, I know it's still August, but I sensed a subtle change in the light. Pre-fall.

We sat there having breakfast, watching our birds and squirrels. And I need to pick up more bird seed and suet this week. Right at the end of it and my babies will certainly let me know they're running low.

Oh, and I also saw a white rabbit running from our yard to the next earlier today. And no, one pill didn't make me larger. It really was a white rabbit. Someone's pet, I think. Now I'm gonna hafta cue up some Jefferson Airplane.

I feel better now. Next post might be more coherent. But I'm not promising. Now, at least, I can return to my editing.

Keep writing, friends.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Zombies, and Diamonds, and Africa, Oh My!

Always at least one casualty in the Black Friday line

Long before we had track speed, flesh-munchin' zombies, we had slow-walkin' zombies. (Hmm, I wonder if Jones in the old Ray Stevens song was a zombie. He was sorta slow-walkin'.) The first movie zombies were slow-walkin', but they weren't killers like in last night's "The Zombies of Mora Tau".

Haven't written a movie review, so I figured it was high time.

All us Scoobies at the Tates Creek Classic Horror Film Club met for our regularly scheduled scare-'em-up and watched some undersea diamond hunters head for deepest, darkest Africa (Okay, the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden. That's about the same, right?), and incur the wrath of swimming zombies.

This was a fun little film, straight from the 1957 drive-in movie days, that had double-billed with "The Man Who Turned to Stone". Nothing terribly scary here, folks, if you're squeamish on horror flicks. No blood. Sure, a zombie might stab someone, or whack them on the head, but no munchin'. The screenplay, from writers George H. Plympton and Bernard Gordon, keeps things rolling, but it's definitely MST3K material. Plus, there's Allison "50 foot" Hayes. She's really pointy. I can't imagine that bra was at all comfortable.

Anyway, if you're looking for a fun B (or Z) horror flick, this is fun. And keep telling yourself, "It's in Africa, it's in Africa." Watch for a real live African duck in one of the lake scenes.

Keep writing, friends.

Monday, July 31, 2017

A Few Steps Closer

I've been away from my blog for a while. You know how it goes. Life.

Started with the slowdown of the 'net on my old laptop. I say old, but it's only eight (nine?) years old. Yeah, I know. It's a Windows Vista machine. But it got the job done.

Then there was the search for a new laptop, buying one, the new laptop crash a few days later, the recovery.

Had a plumber out for a new garbage disposal. Got it installed. Water all over the kitchen.

So on and so forth.

But today, Wendy and I worked a little more on the path to what will eventually be the Writer's Pen. A place for us to work away from the house.

Now, I'm not delusional enough to think that somehow, magically, I'll turn out massive amounts of new writing. Or that Wen will crank out all manner of art. Nope. It's just a place that's different. A place where we can go that has fewer distractions, where we can open the windows (installed ourselves), hear our birds and squirrels, and perhaps have a visit from them as well.

So, that's what I've been up to lately. Now, back to the edits on my novel.

Keep writing, friends.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Slow Electrons, Rapid Holidays

Loadin', loadin', loadin'
Keep them pages loadin'

Why don't he write? I'll bet you're wondering. Well, it's about time to put the ol' Windows Vista laptop out to pasture. Can't get no support these days, and trying to load certain sites on my Firefox browser is like wading through mud with hiking boots. So... we'll see if I'm able to get this post launched. Cross your electronic fingers.

Not much writing-related info in this post. Just a couple of odd things Wendy and I encountered while we were out this morning. Stuff that made us cock our heads dog-sideways and go, "Wurff?"

Cracker Barrel. The gift area. Always changes with the approaching seasons, right? Okay, so, we walk in and did a serious double-take, asking each other if we'd Rip Van Winkled and slept through a month or three. Halloween decorations and stuff on display. Yup. And right beside the Halloween stuff was fall stuff, and possibly even Thanksgiving bobbles. We just kept on going to our table. I didn't have the stomach to see if Christmas goodies were out.

Oddity number 2. Toys"R"Us. We want an inexpensive little badminton set for the backyard to get a little after-meal exercise. So, we asked the young woman (possibly a twenty-something, perhaps a little younger) behind the counter if they had any.

Okay, you ready for this? Her response: "Is that like some sort of a game?"

I'm tired and old right now. Gonna go watch cartoons.

Keep writing, friends.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Where Have all the Adverbs Gone?

Signs bother me. Well, okay, it's not really the signs that bother me, but the words on the signs. I passed two today on the highway that stuck in me like a splinter.

"Drive Safe," the sign read. Now, I'm not certain what kind of safe that is, unless it's a particular kind of roadside service for commuters where they can lock up their valuables. Yeah, that's it. A drive safe. Interesting new business.

What the hell happened to adverbs? Has it become cheaper to drop the '-ly' and turn nouns into adverbs? Is there a shortage on certain letters?

But perhaps I'm a Luddite at times. Maybe I need to loosen up my hold on the language and not go all Thurber. Whom I happen to love. And, yes, I did just 'verbify' Mr. Thurber. I know that a language needs to grow and change to remain alive. Else, you end up with Latin. Which really isn't a dead language. It's more of a living dead language, as it still comes in handy in crossword puzzles. Latin even gave us the dance called the salsa. Salsa's also good with chips. But I regress.

Perhaps I need to relax and embrace the new words and phrases. I'm just a little confused about certain ones, though. For example, I saw another sign that read, "Homegrown Student Checking." What does that even mean? Who's checking these homegrown students? I wish someone would explain it to me.

Ah, well, I'm going to try and ease up. So, for my next post, I'll get into this whole verbify business.

"Every morning, Poseidon would awaken at the Kraken of dawn."
               -- Anonymous

Keep writing, friends.