Journal Entry: CHRISTMAS 2013

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christmas haul 2013Current Soundtrack: State Of Euphoria (Anthrax)

Merry Christmas. Well, day after Christmas. Which would make it Boxing Day, I would guess. Only I’m not British, or dwell in any of the U.K. Based countries, so Boxing Day wouldn’t apply to me. I choose to observe other, more meaningful arbitrary and pointless holidays. Like Weasel Stomping Day.

Huh, what’s that? Well, if Weasel Stomping Day isn’t real, then how come Weird Al made a song about it? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

All things considered, this year was a rather pleasant Christmas, the first celebrated with Kim. The first of many, I would hope and pray. Never assume, never take for granted this love that has been entrusted to me. Anyway…

Christmas Eve, after being let off of work early, was spent first watching the new Hobbit movie: The Desolation of Smaug at a nearby cinema that not only has a $5 Tuesdays special, but also seems to be giving free 44oz popcorn buckets until the end of February. Good movie, found it more entertaining over the first movie. The dragon stole the show, for certain.

After the movie, we headed straight to the 7:30pm Christmas Eve service at Christ Lutheran. The 6pm service was packed out; the 7:30pm service not so much. Much hymn singing, then brief readings from both the Bible, along with readings from a poem by Longfellow, and bis of a Christmas story by Agatha Christie and a clip from the movie The Nativity. Very ambient, very good service. I went straight home after we arrived back at Kim’s apartment; Kim skipped the 10pm candlelight service in favor of much needed rest.

Christmas Day: I made the trek into Lincoln a bit earlier than usual, mainly to give myself some buffer time to find a gas station on the way to gas up the Zombie Mobile and then a spot of that wonderful breakfast that only a truck stop gas station can provide. The kind that remains in your colon for an extended period, no matter how much water and roughage you consume to flush the system. T’was the only place open on Christmas Day at that early an hour to provide an on-the-road breakfast.

I arrived at Kim’s apartment, with the stocking gifts in tow, and after a bit of morning greetings, we headed out to the 9:30am Christmas Morning service. The first ten minutes of which was spent singing the first stanza or so of a bunch of Christmas hymns suggested by the congregation. I called the last one, a hymn Kim indicated she wanted to sing. I wonder if this was a test to see if I would step up and do the suggesting. I wonder if I’m just reading too much into nothing. Regardless, the sermon was quite interesting, interspersed with more classic hymn singing, and the communion. Must say, as an aside, that I cannot wait until I get the official “adult confirmation” so I can finally stop pretending to know what I’m doing up there in front of everybody.

We then went home – yes, I am well aware that her apartment won’t technically be my home until after the wedding, never mind the details – exchanged Christmas gifts (many very good ones; I am extremely blessed even if I never received any, though), then feasted on turkey legs and mashed potatoes. Afterwards, we settled in and watched two Harry Potter movies: The Half-Blood Prince and The Deathly Hollows pt 1, pausing a few times to fix snacks and drinks and use the facilities as needed, make dinner (grilled cheese sammiches tomato soup, which didn’t seem to mix well on top of the two cups of coffee I had in the course of the afternoon), and take calls from family members bearing Christmas wishes and greetings. I finally left for home at 9pm, arriving home a bit past 10, and managed to call my own father and step mother to wish them a very brief Merry Christmas before going to bed myself.

A very good Christmas, I would say. The only drawback being my brain kept thinking today was Monday.

::END TRANSMISSION::

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2013 Bonus Xmas Therapy

 CHRISTMAS REVERSAL

Uncle NecRo still had some leftover holiday cheer to get rid of, so he’s doing another 90 minutes of Bonus Xmas Therapy!

 featuring:

Absolved, Alice Cooper, All The Departed, Batzz In The Belfry, Blissed, Brian Setzer Orchestra, Tim Bushong, Confessions Of A Sinner, Cryomancer, Dead Artist Syndrome, False Idle, Final Surrender, Fireborn, Goodnight Wednesday, Grave Robber, Rob Halford, Iron Sharpens Iron, Make It So, Migraines, Mind Of The Sick, The Old-Timers, Resistance Movement, Second Thief, The Cruxshadows, and True Liberty…

CLICK HERE to listen or download!

Book Review: THINNER

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THINNERRichard Bachman (Stephen King)
New American Library / Signet
1984

William Halleck is a model example of the American Good Life: An upwardly-mobile career as a successful defense lawyer, expensive house, loving wife and doting teenage daughter…and fifty pounds overweight. Conventional diets haven’t worked to bring the pounds down, so he got a little outside help- a curse from an ancient gypsy after his daughter was sideswiped by Billy’s car (believe me, his mind was elsewhere). Now, it seems, Billy’s stumbled upon the ideal diet- eat anything you want, how much you want, and you still lose weight! Only, after losing 93 pounds in just six weeks- and still losing steadily- Billy-boy is understandably worried. His job and family life breaking apart from the undue strain, and with doctors baffled by his condition, Billy decides he has no other recourse than to pursue the old gypsy man to try to get him to lift the curse. What results gives new meaning to the phrase, “getting your just desserts.”

Thinner was the Richard Bachman book that broke the secret that Bachman was actually Stephen King’s literary alter-ego. Probably due to the different tone this book had as compared to his four previous Bachman books. It maybe didn’t help that King referenced himself not once, but twice in this book as well…

Anyway, Thinner’s not a bad read. It’s really more suspense than all-out horror. It also seems to be a precursor to the writing style King would adopt in the late 90s, as compared to his output in the 80s. The book clips along at a fairly decent pace, keeping my attention. Characterization and plot is fairly simple- not bogging the story down by going off on tangents as King is wont to do at times. And in case you’re wondering, no, I haven’t watched the movie version yet. Heard it sucked…but then again, that’s never kept me from viewing things before…

Book Review: BOOKS OF BLOOD, Vol. 1-3

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BOOKS OF BLOODClive Barker
Sphere Books
1998

Nowadays, Clive Barker has all but disavowed his past as a young and powerful force in horror fiction. As a novice writer with delusions of adequacy myself, leaning strongly in the horror / dark supernatural fantasy fiction for two decades now with my voracious reading appetites, I cannot fathom myself ever trying to distance myself from the genre; identifying myself with horror is something I wear like a badge of honor. Different attitudes, I guess. And who knows; I may just be eating these words I’m writing now in another two decades from now. If I’m still alive, that is. But I digress…

Clive Barker’s style and vision in his brief stint in the horror genre was, to say the very least, phenomenal. This omnibus collection of the first three volumes in the Books Of Blood showcases his uncanny talent as a writer whose dark and fertile imagination could dredge up nightmarish images and utterly dark fantasy in a style that few could. The short stories collected here are vivid, unflinching trip down to the forgotten sub cellar of H. P. Lovecraft’s nightmares, a place a scant handful of writers are able to go and pull off. These are not your standard “boo scare” stories; those looking into this expecting your standard McHorror stories might end up curled up on the floor, twitching and babbling incoherently. Am I making myself clear? These Books of Blood collections are recommended highly for anyone who likes more than a little bite to their horror and dark fantasy reading…

Book Review: LEGION

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LEGIONWilliam Peter Blatty
Pocket Books
1983

This sequel to The Exorcist (the book anyway) finds Lt. Kinderman on a truly mystifying and bizarre case. First, a young boy is found gruesomely crucified. Than, a priest is found decapitated ina confessional. Both bear the unmistakable mark of the Gemini Killer, a psychopathic murderer who has been dead for the last twelve years. As Kindermen delves deeper into this mystery, he discovers a supernatural evil with ties to his previous case in The Exorcist, ties that lead him to a derelict John Doe in Cell Twelve of the hospital’s psychiatric ward…a derelict that looks like Father Karras…

I would describe this book as being equal parts murder mystery, supernatural thriller, and existentialistic horror rolled into one fine novel. Having never read the original novel The Exorcist, Legion (which, for all intents and purposes, was made into the second sequel to the movie version in 1990) has solidified my resolve to scout out that book as well. Lt. Kinderman is one of the more interesting characters I’ve come across; his almost lucid musings and diatribes on the nature of God, the supernatural, evil and humanity made me think, which is rare in modern horror fiction. Blatty doesn’t hold back in the supernatural department, either (there’s a scene where Kinderman’s being chased by a ward of catatonic psychiatric patients that left me a bit unnerved). The only gripe I have is that, in the end, the book seemed to resolve everything a little too easily. More of a small pop than a big bang. Otherwise, excellent book. And to think, this book had been moldering away in my parent’s basement for 20 years before I discovered it. Glad I did. Highly recommended…

Book Review: DOOMSTALKER

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DOOMSTALKERGary Brandner
Fawcett
1989

Los Angeles cop Brian Kettering’s been having a bad week. He’s on the verge of a nervous breakdown, his wife left him for another woman (you read that right), and his 18-year-old son has joined a cult. Oh, and a demonic entity that killed his father when he was six has apparently come back from the depths of Hell, stalking Brian’s friends and family, slowly making its way to Brian. The keys to fighting this evil lies with his sister, and Brian’s memory of his father fighting the demon while he watched hidden from view. Only, his sister’s been in a catatonic state for the last 30 years, and Brian’s suffered from selective amnesia when he was 12, leaving memory lapses from his childhood. No, this week isn’t looking very good at all…

Gary Brandner is better known as the author of The Howling, the novel of which the classic 80s werewolf movie is based. That’s probably why I got the book when I was a freshman in high school. For some reason I never got around to reading it, and so it sat moldering away in my parent’s book closet, unread. Until just now, that is…

At 234 pages, paperback form, Doomstalker clips along at a fairly even pace, holding my attention and even throwing out some surprises now and then. The majority of the time, the supernatural scares are kept in the shadows, which works for the overall creepiness, leaving the reader’s twisted imagination to frolic in the details. The delicious little twist ending left me satisfied when I finally closed the book. Not bad for a leisurely read…

Book Review: INSOMNIA

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INSOMNIAStephen King
Viking Press
1994

Since getting back to reading Stephen King’s books after a ten year hiatus — no big reason for initially stopping, I just seemed to loose interest after Gerald’s Game in 1992 — I’ve seemed to have rekindled why I enjoy his work; namely, King is a fantastic story teller. Opening one of his books is like sitting down at the fireplace, ready for Grandpa to spin one of his imaginative yarns.

Insomnia — the tale of retired widower Ralph Roberts who starts to see beyond the veil of reality after suffering from chronic lack of sleep — while not the best he’s written, also isn’t the worst either. It is a hefty tome — I got a used hardcover copy from a used bookstore that had at least six copies for sale — which, admittedly, made me think I would in fact need a bout of insomnia to get through it. I’m sure I’m not the first to make that joke. Maybe one of the few who didn’t use it as snarky as other critics, but since I’m not technically a “critic” per se, there’s no need to be snarky. Anyhoo…

Overall, I found Insomnia to be a fairly engaging tale, a thriller with a strong supernatural underpinnings and more than just a casual tie-in to the bigger Dark Tower saga that, more and more, seems to saturate much of Mr. King’s tales. There are points where things seem to slow down a bit much, but overall Insomnia does keep you engaged for the entire outing. It’s good for curling up in your reading chair, glass of whatever you like to drink on the end table, and getting lost in the tale. Yeah, I just wrote that.

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