OBLIGATORY YEAR-END POST (2018 Edition)

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NecRoSarX Chronicles Header
grumpy cat party hatWell, well, well. Here we are yet again, at the end of another year. The year that was 2018. At least, for those who adhere to the Gregorian calendar. If you happen to adhere to the Julian Calendar Or Nothing! school of thought, then…I have no idea what year this is for you. Don’t get me started lunar calendar systems.

Anyway, reflecting back on this year…2018 wasn’t too bad. For the most part. My middle nephew got confirmed, fully Luthernized and everything. Really, there wasn’t any big life-changing events that happened this year…until September, that is.

It all started with my eyesight getting noticeably worse, faster than it usually does. Usually, there’s two years in-between needing to get new glasses; it’s only been a year, and when I went in to get a check-up, the doctor at the America’s Best glasses place where I usually go to (they’re reasonably priced, and I’m cheap) said I may be suffering from…what did he call it…oh, yeah: MACULAR DEGENERATION. Which freaked me out more than a little bit. As you all may or may not know, reading and writing is my life. Going blind would be one of the most cruelest of ironies to befall me. Sure, there are work-arounds, but I value my ability to see and create like this.

So, I did what every level-headed human being would do with a prognosis like this–I went to get a second opinion. After some tests that went beyond the standard “Can you read this line over here?” (they numbed my eyeballs, as well as dilated them…that’s a sensation I hope to never have to experience again any time soon, let me tell you), it was determined that it was not Macular degeneration, but in fact cataracts forming. Which is better, because they can be removed when ripe enough.

What stinks about that development is, driving at night has become kind of a challenge, and I had to skip out on the Metallica show in Lincoln because of this. *sigh* But, this is really nothing compared to what happened soon thereafter.

One evening, after stepping out of the shower, the nail on the big toe on my right foot fell off. By itself. No reason, it just…fell off. It was a bit discolored underneath, but I didn’t really think much of it…until about a day or two later, when it showed indications of getting worse with the discoloration. Daily soaking it in antibacterial water and slathering it with a topical cream didn’t work; it was the last day in September when I finally went into the ER in Fremont to get it looked at. They admitted me to observe it, where it finally broke open and started draining. The infection overtook my toe; but the biggest issue they discovered after a battery of tests is that there was no blood flow going to my foot. The arteries in my legs were severely blocked after decades of smoking and not really eating and living healthy. And the diabetes didn’t help much in that regard, I’m sure. So much sugar consumption.

Long story short: They couldn’t save the toe, they opened up the artery in my right leg to get the blood flowing again (that was a procedure I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy; they didn’t put me under so much as put me in what they called “Twilight Sleep”, which fortunately had nothing to do with those young adult novels / movies, but unfortunately meant I was aware of what was going on…it wasn’t pleasant, let’s just say), then I had a pict inserted into my arm that led directly to my heart, for the intravenous antibiotics treatment, before most of the toe itself was taken off. So now, I have a stump where the little piggy that never came back from market was as a reminder of this year.

I was out on disability leave for three months. I missed out on Halloween, and spent Thanksgiving and my birthday at my parents’ place while recouping from all of this. My mother is a retired NP, specializing in wound care, so she helped out with the down time.

I’m back at work now, and settled back into the Haunted Victorian after the 16th of December, when my IV treatments ended. My sister went in for surgery herself, and is recouping nicely. We all had a lovely Christmas; I received more composition notebooks and a package of pens, so I’m set for another year.

Tonight being New Years Eve, I plan on doing the same thing I do every year: grab some over-priced seafood, and sequester myself in my domicile and stay off of the streets, watching horror movies. And since I work the next day, I probably won’t be staying up until Midnight. I rarely ever do, unless I have a nap.

So, until next year (that joke never gets old, really), cheers, and God Bless, my wonderful freaks…

::END TRANSMISSION::

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Book Review: DOCTOR WHO – City Of Death

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doctor who city of deathJames Goss
ACE Books
2015

The Doctor almost wished that for once he could sweep aside all the reversing the polarity of the death ray nonsense and just sit down for tea and natter over macaroons. If it wasn’t for the Count being a homicidal maniac, the two of them would get on famously. What a pity.

Back between September 29th and October 20th in 1979, the BBC broadcast one of the serials that sci-fi author Douglas Adams had a hand in writing; in that Adams heavily re-wrote an unfinished script that was originally titled “A Gamble With Time”. What resulted was a Doctor Who serial where the Fourth Doctor and is then-companion Romana run into an ancient alien while on holiday in Paris, an alien who inadvertently kick-started life on Earth due to an accident millions of years prior that killed off the remainder of his race, and is working to go back and prevent said accident. Also, there’s an Inspector involved. British wackiness ensues.

Over time, “City Of Death”, despite it being one of the more popular Doctor Who serials, was never given the Target Books novelization treatment initially. This was due mainly to Target offering the standard advance price to Adams for adapting the story, with Adams retorting, “I don’t want to be embarrassing but I do have a tendency to be a best-selling author,” and refusing to allow anyone else to write one.

It wasn’t until after Adams’ untimely death and long-time Doctor Who writer Gareth Roberts doing a bonny adaptation of Adams’ “Shada” script when we finally got an official novelization of “City Of Death”. Yeah, it was also supposed to be written by Roberts, but eventually the reigns were given to James Goss.

There. That takes care of the Obligatory History Portion of this review. Let’s get on the novelization, shall we?

As mentioned previously, the Fourth Doctor and Romana are on holiday in 1979 Paris, France, enjoying and relaxing in an outdoor cafe’, when the Doctor notices a lady scanning the security setup around the Mona Lisa with alien technology. So, along with an Inspector, they follow her back to a chateau owned by Count Scarlioni. There, they find equipment used in time experiments, along with several copies of the Mona Lisa. Romana and the Inspector continue to investigate things, while the Doctor zipps off in the TARDIS to visit Leonardo da Vinci, about the Mona Lisa copies. Romana and the Inspector are captured by Scartioni, with Romana pressed into building a working time machine by threatening to destroy all of Paris if she doesn’t; meantime, in the past, the Doctor is captured by an earlier iteration of Scartioni, who then explains that he is the last of an alien race that was wiped out by their ship exploding on Primordial Earth 400 million years ago, give or take a century. This explosion had the inadvertent effect of sparking life on the planet, which also created the concept of irony. Through the eons, Scartioni had been manipulating history to where, by the time the 20th Century rolled around, the technology was such that he could feasibly begin working on a time machine to go back to the beginning and stop the ship from ‘splodin’, funding the entire thing with selling off the several copies of the Mona Lisa he had commissioned da Vinci to paint. Of course, this plan doesn’t sit well with the Doctor, so he escapes back to 1979 Paris, which leads to a confrontation and showdown with the alien Count.

Like with the other Doctor Who serial novelizations I’ve read, I hadn’t seen the televised show this was based on before reading City of Death. I still haven’t gotten around to watching it; but based on this novelization, I probably will do so sometime shortly.

As a Doctor Who story in book form, City Of Death is written in that same kind of style that typified works by Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams…mainly Douglas Adams, probably because he wrote the script of the show itself, so it would make sense that James Goss would imitate his style. I haven’t really read anything of Goss’ outside of this and his other Doctor Who adaptation The Pirate Planet (also originally scripted by Adams), so I don’t know if that’s his natural writing style, or if he’s just imitating what he would think Adams would write, had he actually did the novelization himself. I might have to rectify that.

Regardless, reading this novelization of City Of Death was a blast. I recommend picking this up and checking it out.

Music Review: JIMMY P. BROWN II – Eraser Head

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Music Review: HAVE MERCY – Armageddon Descends

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via Music Review: HAVE MERCY – Armageddon Descends

 

Yuletide Updates:

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Book Review: FLOOR FOUR

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floor fourA. Lopez, Jr.
Ace Hill Ink
2014

The old, abandoned Saint Vincnt Hospital is said to be haunted by the ghost of David Henry Coleman, the notorious serial killer known as The Mangler. Coleman died on the fourth floor after being shot by police. For the three Junior High boys, their curiosity gets the best of them as they explore the old hospital, despite “Old Man” Jake’s warning. No one knew of Jake’s warning. No one knew of Jake’s dark connection to the killer and the hospital. And now, on the anniversary of The Mangler’s death, a group of high school kids are planning a private party on the haunted fourth floor. Jake must keep everyone out and protect them from the true evil that lurks on Floor Four.

Another in my extensive list of Kindle edition horror fiction that were free, that I Immediately downloaded after receiving my first eReader, Floor Four is a brief less-than-100 page novella by author A. Lopez, Jr. Unsurprisingly, I was unfamiliar with Lopez, Jr.’s work, as this was my chance to branch out and discover new authors beyond my normal stable of go-to reads. According o his on-line bio on Goodreads, he published his first work–a collection of short stories — in 2011, and has been prolifically writing since, producing short stories, novellas and novels.His signature series is the Night Dreams line, a series of novellas in the supernatural horror vein.

Floor Four was published in 2014. It’s one of those standard Abandoned Hospital Haunted By Ghost Of Serial Killer kind of stories, complete with curious kids, stupid teenagers, and the old man trying to warn them away for their own good, dagnabbit.

That synopsis up there in the italics is only the first part of the story. Had it just been that, Floor Four would have been more of a short story. After the events there, we then focus on one of the three Junior High kids who finds himself haunted by the ghost of the serial killer and his mental spiral into madness. The story does take some twists and turns in ways that weren’t entirely predictable, but for the most part, there’s really nothing in Floor Four that breaks any intriguing ground.

Movie Review: The NUN

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nun, theWarner Bros. Pictures
2018
R

“What’s the opposite of a miracle, Father?”

You have to admire how many movies James Wan can squeeze out of The Conjuring franchise. The first two Conjuring movies proper, then two Annabelle movies, and now a movie involving that freaky nun that was in The Conjuring 2. And like the Annabelle spinoffs, The Nun is a prequel to all of the movies in the series, making this one the first in the overall series, story-wise.

Anyway, I was looking forward to checking out The Nun when it was set to come out in the theaters in September. I thought that the very brief yet very memorable scenes with the nun in The Conjuring 2 was the best parts of that movie, and was curious what story they could tell with this one. But, because scheduling and the less-than-favorable reports coming in from the various review blogs, vlogs and podcasts I read/watch/listen to, I decided ultimately that The Nun was going to be one of those movies I would watch when it became available on on digital rental format. Which is now.

So, was The Nun a snooze-fest? A predictable, nothing-but-jump-scares waste of my time? Well, let’s get the rundown out of the way, here, and find out…

When a young nun at a cloistered abbey in Romania takes her own life, a priest with a haunted past and a novitiate on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate. Together they uncover the order’s unholy secret. Risking not only their lives but their faith and their very souls, they confront a malevolent force in the form of the same demonic nun that first terrorized audiences in “The Conjuring 2,” as the abbey becomes a horrific battleground between the living and the damned.

Overall, despite all of the negative reviews this movie got when it was first released in theaters, I did enjoy The Nun more than I thought I would. It was more on a Hammer-style Gothic B-horror movie level, which is probably the best way to come at these type of movies. The use of the settings, the shadows and atmosphere was utilized to great effect; the story was a slow-build mystery that, while a tad on the predictable side, managed to throw in some twists and turns throughout the run time. Of course, The Nun isn’t what you would call a “scary movie”, as what it does for actual scares are more boo-scares than anything else; as I mentioned before, if you take in the very Gothic atmosphere and setup (and get past thinking the possessed nun is Marilyn Manson in Catholic cosplay), you may find that The Nun can get under your skin pretty effectively.

Not as bad as everybody is saying it is, The Nun is very much worth a rental on some dark, cold and rainy night.

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