Obligatory Thanksgiving Post (2015 Edition)

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turkey-carcassHere we are, the week of Thanksgiving. Which means that I’m in the midst of the Holiday Edition of my periodic Downward Spiral, something that begins when Halloween breathes its last at the strike of Midnight, and continues steadily until some time after New Years. By that time, I’ve blocked all of the light emanating in the domicile I reside in, and have a special soundtrack that features the likes of Dead Artist Syndrome, L. S. U., Saviour Machine and other darker stuff playing on an endless loop, while I sit on the couch and read ancient Gothic literature to the candle light to stave off the creeping darkness. Fun times.

But, if you’re worried you’re about to read a bunch of self-pity-ing whining that you would normally find on a blog of some emo kid, far from it. I’m currently at the part of the overall Holiday Clusterbomb where I like to refer to my level of depression as “whimsically melancholy”.

This year, due to the scheduling algorithm, I work on Thanksgiving. Which, for me, is fine. I fear that, in my middle age, Thanksgiving–along with Christmas–have lost all cohesion for me in terms of celebratory importance. They’re just days on the calendar for me.

Certainly, I enjoy gathering together with the family, sharing in a meal of some sort, and enjoying everyone’s presence. All of my memories of Thanksgiving gatherings with the family have been pleasant ones, and I actually look forward to any time we can spend together in that capacity. Only…we can do that at any other given day out of the 365 that comprise the year, and not just on one Thursday at the end of the second-to-last month of the year.

However, instead of focusing on the secular trappings of the holiday, let’s focus on the spirit of the day. And by that, I mean the “Thanks” in “Thanksgiving”. And thus, I share with you all a bit of a list of things I’m thankful for, things that may not be on your typical “I’m Thankful For…” lists. Also, they’re in no particular order, as these are more brain droppings than an actual structured list (as most of these blog posts are):

Without them, I wouldn’t be challenged into thinking logically as to why I believe what I believe. You might say my Christian faith is stronger because of my unbelieving friends. And I’m stone-cold serious about that. No sarcasm whatsoever.

Contrary to popular belief, horror movies don’t cause fear, but releases our fear. It’s the perfect genre for Christians to get creative in. And no, I’m not going to explain myself. It would take too long.

The old stuff, from the mid-18th Century to the early 20th Century, have a certain charm to them that seems to appeal to me more than a lot of modern horror literature. And I can look pretentious reading them, too.

Such bloody good yarns, such imaginations, such thinly-veiled commentary on present issues done in future tense. Also, robots and space ships and aliens, oh my.

Do I even need to explain this one? Physical books; old, new, paperback and hardback, of all shapes and sizes…er, that didn’t sound as weird in my head as it does written down…anyway…

I’m no vegetarian by any means, but at those times where I need to cut back on the tender flesh of the innocent, I find the Quorn brand of meatless products to be more agreeable with faking out my brain into thinking I’m still consuming meat. And their “chicken” patties are the best ones going.

There we are, a lovely list to contemplate for our thankfulness of the season. Or whatever. I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with good things and happy memory-making. Me, I’m going to catch up on my reading and some writing at work. It’s dead, I’m told. Maybe pick up some pre-prepared turkey to at least overdose on tryptophan. Some traditions I like.


HALLOWEEN’ING 2015: Day 30 – Gothic Literature

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HALLOWEEN'ING 2015oxford book of gothic talesNowadays, when someone refers to “Gothic fiction”, they’re probably thinking of the modern urban fantasy types featuring brooding vampires and…well, it’s mostly vampires. Nothing wrong with that, I guess. But, when I think of Gothic fiction, or Gothic literature, as the title of this Halloween’ing post is, I think of the classics: The stories and poems by the likes of Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Shelley’s creature, Bram Stoker’s famous vampire, Washington Irving’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the ghost stories of M. R. James, plus a myriad of others.

These are stories that were made to be best enjoyed in the dead of night, preferably by candle light and in a drafty, musty castle. That last part might be hard to come by nowadays, but the point is, these are atmospheric classics that begs to be read in the manner they deserve. And not just this one time of the year, either.


SUNDAY A’LA CARTE – September 14, 2014

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praise him in the graveMid-September. The sun is going down earlier and earlier every night (good), there is a very noticeable nip in the air (very good), and my beloved trench coat has finally been taken out of summer storage and put to much-needed use (very, very good). And it’s also Sunday, which means it’s time for another helping of pointless brain droppings. Here we go, then…

Keeping on the topic of trench coats, I’ve personally been wearing them exclusively since late Fall of 1994. All through Junior High and High School and a few years beyond that, I was strictly a denim jacket kind of guy. Because, back in the day, jean jackets (as they were referred to) were the outward expression that best defined who I was in my formative years. Might expound on that later. I bought my first trench coat as a 21st birthday gift from me to me at an Army surplus store outside of Omaha for roughly $50, and I’ve been wearing them ever since. Of course, there was that time in 1999 when wearing one could get you followed by security (thanks to Columbine). But, like wearing all black all year round, I kept wearing the long coat wearing, never caving to social pressures or disapproving glances for nearly 20 years now. And here’s a pic of me in my current trench coat, taken by one of my youth group kids, that really captures the essence of who I am:

me at student venture previous yearThanks, Bailey

Celebrity Death: RICHARD KIEL, best known as the over 7-foot-tall villain Jaws in two James Bond movies. He was also an alien in the classic Twilight Zone episode “To Serve Man”, and played the title role in one of my favorite Mystery Science Theater 3000’d movies Egah!. He was also a born-again Christian. Let that sink into that plump, succulent brain of yours…

chicken and eggOn the whole HALLOWEENING tip, I bought a collection of classic Washington Irving tales from Barnes & Noble last Sunday (didn’t think to include it in last week’s A’La Carte’, due to it being typed out in a Burger King and I was more concerned with getting it posted so I could leave to the afore-mentioned movie night with the Coven of Exalted Geeks…and also the bacon and cupcakes), entitled The Legend of Sleepy Hollow & Other Macabre Tales. One of America’s earliest writers of weird fiction, baby. Of course, like many of my generation (and previous ones as well), I was first exposed to the great American ghost story that was The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by way of the great Disney animated adaptation from 1949 that was paired up with The Wind in the Willows short. It went by The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. One of my earliest childhood memories involved watching it on television at my Grandma and Grandpa Case’s place, all the children and adults enjoying the thing. I think the last time I watched it was in grade school, when the week of Halloween our teacher brought out the old reel-to-reel projector and showed it. Awesome. I credit Disney for helping to foster my early interest in the dark and macabre stuff. Sorry, Mom…your plan backfired.

The_Headless_Horseman_5When I was nine, back in 1983, I got into plenty of shenanigan-based hijinks, all in good fun, and probably getting under the skin of many an adult. Including my parents, I’m sure. This Canadian 9-year-old stole a bus. While still wearing his pajamas. This kid is now a living legend in his grade school. Not that I’m trying to encourage this kind of behavior, but…yeah, that kid is now my hero.

And speaking of people who are now my heroes: Musician Andrew W. K. writes an advice column for the Village Voice. Recently, a lady asked him advice on to how to get her boyfriend to stop listening to METAL, and his response…well, it brought a tear to my eye, and made me stand up and salute. It was a very intelligent and well-worded response that I really wish I could see more of in defence of the undisputed music of awesome, beyond juvenile trolling and name-calling. You can read the write-up I read on the official Metal Sucks site here.

STUFF I WROTE: I reviewed the cyberpunk classic Neuromancer, and posted previous reviews of The Rage: Carrie 2, the Troma shlock-fest Redneck Zombies, the mindless Resident Evil, the even more mindless (and insulting) Resident Evil: Apocalypse, the Zom-Com classic Return Of The Living Dead, the “okay, I guess” Return Of The Living Dead 3, the groans-of-displeasure-inducing Return Of The Living Dead: Rave To The Grave, the pointless-but-fun Return To House On Haunted Hill, the Marky Mark flick Rock Star, the surprisingly decent Room 6, the Lou Diamond Phillips “horror” flick Route 666, and the docudrama of the chick rock group The Runaways.

And also, there’s the new Session of NECRO SHOCK RADIO, and it features cuts from bands and artists like Adorned Graves, Alice Cooper, Bjorn Stigsson, Bloodlined Calligraphy, The Chariot, Deliverance, Engrave, First Strike, Gnashing Of Teeth, Halo, Human Fortress, Jerusalem, Kekal, Lament, Mainline Rider, MANDATORY MORTIFICATION, Nailed Promise, Necromanicide, No Laughing Matter, Oil, Psycoma, Realm, Taketh, and Terminal Generation. Feel free to check it out at your own leisure.

And that’s it for this week. Since this past Thursday was the remembrance of the 9/11 attacks thirteen years ago, I leave you all now with this rather poignant photograph taken from the Space Station. Cheers.

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