Thursday, May 31, 2012

Chasing the Bear: A Cautionary Tale

The Internet is a wonderful thing. It brings people together, it makes research easier, and it facilitates communication over a wide range of circumstances. It is also a digital distraction machine, and a marvelous time vacuum.

It is also (also) a wonderful way to shoot yourself in the foot, and then stick that same foot in your mouth.

(Picture it... you’re welcome.)

Participation in online discussion is fun and distracting, and sometimes it’s a great way to (ugh) “network” or otherwise show your professional contacts that, yes, you are a real flesh-and-blood person with feelings and beliefs and quirks. Unfortunately, this same venue is a way to show your professional contacts that, yes, from time to time you get a bug up your ass about something, and no amount of logical discourse will sway you from your opinion.

Oh, how fun!

Recently, I was embroiled in a discussion on a professional writers' forum, and I said some things probably that sounded like the beginnings of a "flame," or something. Then I got an email from someone who had been there longer than I that cautioned restraint on my part. I'm still debating whether I can do that.

Courtesy (and copyright) XKCD.
So, here it is. The best thing about this situation, is that it isn’t in person, and the things that come out of you mouth (invective, coarse language, stuttering, etc.) are only heard by you until you expend the time and effort to type it all out and hit the SEND or POST button. And for every very public meltdown, there was a moment in time where the entire blow-up could have had the air let out of it by just... not... posting.

But it's hard not to. Neuroscience tells us the brain is ten parts emotion to one part reason. Our brain is, to quote a smart and funny man, "like a grizzly bear with a midget on the back, trying to control it*."

You can control it. I have faith in this, and I believe in you. Use the force, use Zen breathing techniques, use one of those squishy stress-relief balls, use the OFF switch. Something. You can do it.

And if you can do it, I can do it, too. We can live in Internet harmony.

Next week, I want to talk about how Alice Cooper is everything that's right about rock and roll.

-Thom Brannan

* - What's that? This blog is a partially-visual medium, and we don't need mental pictures? You're right!

Dr. McNinja courtesy and copyright, Chris Hastings
Used with permission. See The Adventures of Dr. McNinja HERE.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Meeting a Monster Legend by Scott M. Baker

This past weekend at Crypticon I spent most of my time glued to the Permuted Press table pimping Rotter World and getting to know my fellow authors.  Don't get me wrong.  I had a great time and am not complaining.  But on Sunday morning I took a few minutes to sneak away and say hello to Ricou Browning (pictured above). 

All you Monster Kids and Sci-Fi afficionados know that name without having to look at the poster behind us.  Ricou Browning played the Gill Man in the water sequences in the 1954 classic Creature from the Black Lagoon and its two sequels, Revenge of the Creature (1955) and The Creature Walks Among Us (1956).  [NOTE: Ben Chapman played the part of the Gill Man for all the scenes shot on land.]  A whole generation sat on the edge of our seats while the Gill Man would swim underneath some buxomy blonde in a bathing suit (Julie Adams in Creature and Lori Nelson in Revenge), enthralled by her beauty, and all the while accompanied by Henry Mancini's unforgettable theme (da da daaaaaahhh, da da daaaaaahhh).  We all knew this aquatic version of beauty and the beast would not end well, but we couldn't turn away. 

Meeting Mr. Browning was an honor and a thrill for me, and not just because the Creature from the Black Lagoon and Revenge of the Creature were among my favorite movies growing up.  He literally represents the last vestige of a rapidly fading era.  Mr. Browning is the sole surviving actor to play one of Universal's iconic monsters.

All the others who portrayed those classic monsters (Frankenstein, Dracula, the Wolfman, the Mummy, the Invisible Man) are no longer with us.  Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Lon Cheney Jr., John Carradine, Glenn Strange, Claude Rains.  These names are as familiar to us Monster Kids as are those of our relatives.  In many cases, they passed away before we even became enthralled by the monstrous characters they played.  Most of us only got to know them through late night television.

The Gill Man was different from the other Universal monsters.  There was no supernatural element about him.  No essence of evil.  No innate warning about the hideous results of dabbling in things we have no business with.  The Gill Man was much more sympathetic.  In a way, he wasn't even a monster.  He was an ecological anomaly, a throwback from a prehistoric era that survived into modern times only ti be killed by man.  When man invaded his habitat, the Gill Man defended himself and was killed.  When man took him from his habitat to put him on display in a Florida aquarium like a goldfish in a bowl, he escaped and was killed.  When man experimented on him and changed him into an air-breathing creature, he let instinct prevail and returned to the sea where he finally met a dignified end.  (The Gill Man was also the only Universal monster whose film career ended without first having to match wits with Abbott and Costello.)

I introduced myself to Mr. Browning before the convention opened.  He was a charming gentleman.  We chatted for a few minutes, mostly with me rambling on about how it was a pleasure to meet him and how much I loved the Creature movies.  He thanked me, autographed a photo of himself in the Gill Man outfit while holding the head piece, posed for a few pictures, and then I headed back to my table.  And for me it was a thrill.  I had met a part of the history that had helped shape my childhood and led me into horror writing. 

Friday, May 25, 2012


So, I'm sitting here looking at our little cul-de-sac of bloggers, our bloggerhood, if you will, and it occurs to me to wonder why it is that there's so all-fired much interest in writing about (not to mention reading about) the assorted post-apocalyptic scenarios in play nowadays.

I shall ponder upon that a spell.

Let's start small, with the writer's mind.  (I can say that about writers; I'm one of them.)  There are a couple of different tacks in play here.  One is the J-trap theory, to borrow from Stephen King (might as well steal from the best, as they say).  Each author's mind has a creative bend in it that catches ideas of assorted sizes.  Ours happens to latch onto notions of a post-apocalyptic nature, instead of police procedurals or westerns.  As for the other thing...  I'll get back to that in a few.

For now, let's look at it from the reader's point of view.  Like your summer blockbuster movies, post-apocalyptic stories tend to be big, loud, and in-your-face immediate.  (There's a reason they call that thing where civilizations and the world go all gollywonkers an apocalypse, after all.)  The tale itself can be personal and intimate (I'll reference I Am Legend here, the Matheson novel since adapted to film several times) or wide-open and sprawling (King's The Stand comes to mind, although in many ways the individual character portraits in that are also deeply intimate).

In any event, the storyteller takes the world the audience knows, and blows it up--often quite literally; the first novel of the genre I personally recall reading is Miller's scathing A Canticle for Leibowitz, about rebuilding after nuclear armageddon.  (The beautifully bleak film On the Beach, also from this era, is likewise not to be missed.)  Lately, of course, we like our apocalypses flavored with at least a soup├žon of zombies of one sort or another.

(Ah, zombies.  Des morts vivants.  Our shambling, flesh-eating friends deserve a column all their own, in the not-too-distant future...)

All this death, destruction, and rebirth is a sort of virtual catharsis for the audience.  Yeah, the factory closed and I got laid off and the rent is late and the daggum politicians are a yammering knot of worthless cobblerheads, but you know what?  In this book, the world got blowed to hell and gone, but a simple, hard-working, straight-shooting fella like me survived and thrived by being simple and hard working.  And shooting straight.

May not exactly give a body hope, but at least it takes your mind off your troubles a mite.

And then there's that other thing about writers:  Hey, we like blowing stuff up, even in print.  (In point of fact, it's  quite a lot harder to write a good explosion than it is to just make one.  Ask any chemist.)  When we tear down the world for that post-apocalyptic scenario you'll be reading about, we get to decide what bits get to stay in for you, and what goes, and what gets tinkered with unmercifully.

That's the fun part of being a writer.  Well, that and when you, the reader, tell us we've done a good job.  That makes the whole apocalypse worthwhile.


Suggested reading (assorted apocalypses in chronological order):
  • Day of the Triffids, John Wyndham (1951)
  • I Am Legend, William Matheson (1954)
  • A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M Miller, Jr (1960)
  • Lucifer's Hammer, Jerry Pournelle & Larry Niven (1977)
  • The Stand, Stephen King (1978)
  • The Road, Cormac McCarthy (2006)
  • And, of course, the complete PERMUTED PRESS catalogue

Thursday, May 24, 2012

He Hunts the Biggest of All Game

I’m in man-love with the Green Hornet.

The Green Hornet, if you didn’t know, is Britt Reid, a rich newspaperman that has had it up to here with corruption and crime in his city. Aided by his mechanical genius/sidekick Kato, he takes on the persona of the Green Hornet, a maverick operative in the Underworld, dedicated to bringing it down from within.

...and lookin' smooth while doing it.

Wacky, right? I love it. I always have. When I was a wee lad, I caught an episode of the 1960s Greenway production, the same company that brought Batman to the television screen. I was dumbfounded. I was appalled. I was amazed. I asked my dad who that was, and he just smiled. I mean, this guy had to be the real McCoy, right? He had freakin’ Bruce Lee as his sidekick!

Fast forward about ten years, and NOW! Comics had started their own line of Green Hornet comics, and I devoured them whenever I could... which wasn’t very often at all, unfortunately. In my most important formative years, I lived way deep in south Texas, in a little town (?) called Falcon Heights. The nearest place to buy comic books was in the mall in McAllen, Texas, a drive of seventy miles. And since I had no license, no car and no money, well... it might as well have been a mall on the moon.

Even later, once I had joined the Navy and had a pocket full of jingle-jangle, I didn’t have a lot of time to read comics, but I went to the shops anyway, just to see if they carried back issues of all the stuff I’d missed. More often than not, they didn’t.

It was as if the universe at large was against me, determined to stand between me and the Green Hornet. And much like everything else from that time in my life, it got put aside as my career as a submariner got underway. (See what I did there?)  

In 2001, I got a desk job at a training office in Pearl Harbor, Hawai’i, and most of what I did was... bowling. Seriously. I was supposed to be coordinating an apprentice program thing, but since the civilian side of the shipyard was heavily unionized, over half of the things the participants of the program had to do to complete it wasn’t allowed because it was someone else’s specialty. So I bowled a lot.

...not unlike this guy.
I also discovered eBay.

All of a sudden, I could find (and afford) all those things I had to put down earlier, like finding every Destroyer novel, or whatever Grendel merchandise I could... or the Green Hornet comic books. Yesss. So I bought them all up and devoured every last four-color panel. (Or whatever they’re in. Shaddap.) And for a while, I was happy.

Holy crap, ten years went by. 2010 was a good year for the Hornet. There was a new series of comics from Dynamite! as well as a movie in the works. In the intervening decade, I had *ahem* picked up copies of the television show’s entire run, as well as the two movie serials from Universal and all the radio shows I could lay my grubby mitts on.

And then... and then it came home to me. I got an email from my good friend, Matthew Baugh, with whom I share space on four tables of contents, at last count. An outfit he was on good terms with, Moonstone Books, was putting together a prose anthology of Green Hornet stories, and he said he would put in a good word for me. As it was invitation-only, I didn’t get my hopes up, and I think Matthew had mentioned me in an editorial manner, as perhaps someone that would do very fast and well-done line edits.

Imagine my shock and surprise when I get an email that says Moonstone got too many people and they’re putting out another volume, so get your pen ready! Cue dancing for joy.

(I’m not talking about writing or the process, so I’ll skip ahead here.)

At this point, I should thank Joe Gentile, Matthew, CJ Henderson, and the several other authors that signed the hardcover copy I shipped around the country. It made my father proud.

Woohoo! This is the first volume.
And then the movie... I’ve already gone on record as saying that adaptations are always a mixed bag, and one should realize that the book is the book and the movie is the movie, and should never the twain meet, it should be no surprise and get over it, already. So that’s what I did. I put aside my reservations and watched Seth Rogan’s version of The Green Hornet, enjoying it for what it was. For the record, Kato was completely bad-ass.

This year, Moonstone is putting out a third volume, The Green Hornet: Still at Large, of which I am pleased to say I am a part.

My wife, Kitty, understands my incredible fandom, and for one of those holidays where you get gifts, she gave me a replica of the Black Beauty to put on the shelf alongside the other cars of legend, the Batmobile, Ecto-1, and KITT.

I guess I said all that to say this: the Green Hornet, to me, will always represent the best of a hero. The character is brave, uncompromising and full of conviction. He commands loyalty of those around him and earns it. He’s got the right amount of gadgets to get the job done, but not so many that they’re plot devices. (I’m looking at you, Knight Rider.) And he gets the job done, by cunning and wits or two-fisted action (four-fisted, if you count Kato, which you should). If I had to pick a hero to emulate, it would be the Green Hornet. He’s the best of them.

Next week, I want to talk about the grizzly bear, and how you shouldn't let it get away from you. 

-Thom Brannan

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

David Moody Reviews THE KILLING FLOOR by Craig DiLouie

David Moody, author of the fantastic HATER and AUTUMN series, calls THE KILLING FLOOR by Craig DiLouie, new from Permuted Press, a “unique and startling vision of Armageddon … DiLouie takes the nightmare of THE INFECTION and ratchets up the horror to another level … It’s an excellent post-apocalyptic tale filled with horrific creatures and desperate people. He weaves the threads of his story expertly, managing to show the devastating cost of the crisis on both a human level and a global scale. Recommended!”

This is great praise from one of the genre’s most successful and respect authors. Thank you, David!

Click here to learn more about THE KILLING FLOOR and other apocalyptic works by Craig DiLouie.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Letting a Monster Kid's Creativity Soar by Scott M. Baker

Anyone who has followed my blog knows I'm a bona fide Monster Kid.  I had all the Aurora monster models, dozens of 8mm versions of classic horror and sci-fi movies from Castle Films, and a huge collection of Famous Monsters of Filmland (and believe me, I've been kicking myself for years for just throwing out those back issues when I started high school).  Every Saturday afternoon, if I wasn't home watching my favorite monster movies on WLVI Channel 56's Creature Double Feature, I was hanging out with Curtis Brown and John Harrington at the Park Theater in downtown Everett where we watched those same creatures battle it out on the big screen.  Those days bring back some epic memories.

Through it all, I was lucky to have parents who encouraged this monster mania, especially my mother.  It's safe to say that if it wasn't for them, I probably wouldn't be posting this as a horror writer.

Recently a fan asked me a question about those years that for the life of me I couldn't answer: why did my mother allow me to be a Monster Kid rather than try and steer my energies into more traditional hobbies?

So this weekend I went on a quest to answer this question about my past.  Well, not actually a quest.  I hit the MUTE button on the remote and called my mother on the cell phone.

Me:  "Mom, you gotta help me.  I'm desperate for a blog and need to interview you."

Mom:  [Laughing]  "So I'm a last resort?  That makes me feel good."

Me:  "I was just curious why you indulged my love of monsters when I was a kid."

Mom:  "Because you liked monsters, and I always let you do the things you liked."

Me:  "Weren't you afraid I'd become a weird, twisted kid?" 

Mom:  "Of course not.  I used to tell you those things weren't real.  And you didn't turn out too bad."

The truth is I haven't done too bad turning my love for the macabre into a side career.  And there were no adverse side effects.  I didn't grow up to torture small animals (I'm an animal lover and dote on my four house rabbits) or torment other kids.  I haven't secretly buried any bodies in the back woods of northern Virginia, and don't suffer from any more psychoses than most other writers. 

However, the relevant part of this blog is not about me being a Monster Kid, but about my parents allowing me to pursue my passion.  It would have been so easy for them to steer me into activities that were more in line with the other kids.  Think about it.  How many fathers imagine their sons winning the Superbowl or the World Series?  Quite a few.  How many imagine their sons getting a five-star review from Fangoria?  Probably not that many.  Yet my parents were wise enough to look beyond what I was passionate about to see that allowing me to express myself and be creative were what was best in the long run.

[NOTE:  The only time they disagreed over my idiosyncracies was when I was ten and asked for a Barbie doll.  My father was understandably aghast at the apparent gender crisis, but my mother was supportive.  She asked, "And why do you want a Barbie?"  I replied, "Because G.I. Joe needs shore leave."  My father was relieved.  My mother never did get me the doll.]

I love seeing that same creativity in kids today.  My six-year-old niece Kiera and my girlfriend's ten-year-old daughter Maddy love to tell me stories, and I'm fascinated by each one they tell.  Not because the stories are brilliant, but because of the passion with which they tell it, and the joy in their eyes because an adult is interested in what they have to say.  I can't help but wonder (and hope) that some day these little girls will grow up to be another Anne Rice or J.K Rowling.

So let your kids express themselves and don't force them to conform.  Their imaginations are much too precious to squander on reality.

Monday, May 21, 2012

"Judgment Day in a Dark World: Searching for the Self through Family and Horror" by Patrick Williams

I had a conversation with a student this semester; he is a musician and we were discussing dark narratives and how people perceive the creators of said narratives. For example, how does our reading Stephen King’s texts influence the way we perceive him as a person? In the simplest terms, how many readers think, “This guy has to be a sick fuck to come up with these plots”?

And this discussion got me thinking. . .

Dead Meat was recently published by Permuted Press. In the book, there’s plenty of gore, cursing, and just a flat out brutal exploration of the human psyche and its complexities and inconsistencies. And I wonder, how will my kids view me when they read this book and the others I hope to publish?

My nine year old stepson periodically looks at the cover of Dead Meat, and I can’t help but wonder what goes through his innocent brain. The only thing he knows is that the book is about zombies. He doesn’t understand the depth of the story or the darkness of human nature explored in the book. I’m waiting for the day where I walk into my office and see him lounging in the recliner with Dead Meat open in his lap. Will he cringe at the gore? The cussing? The, as King puts it, “dark fuckery of the human heart”?

And that’s not all. On top of my stepson, my wife broke the news to me, stating, “I just don’t see you as a horror writer.” And she’s right; since we started dating years ago, she’s always known my poetry and my desire to write fantasy. I don’t think I really see myself as a horror writer necessarily, but the gore, the characters, and the plots can be so enticing at times.

Finally, all of the previous episodes were capped by my brother and co-author of Dead Meat, Chris. We’ve been working on a series of novellas, and he’s got a great idea of one that involves pre-teen children. The story will take place in the Dead Meat world, and the thought of hurting these characters that have yet to be written made me cringe. I didn’t know if I could write it, and I’m still not sure.

But I will. I must. This is just another hurdle for writers, another sacrifice made for the sake of the art of storytelling.

There will always be someone who doesn’t care for the genre, and there will always be people who will judge the morals, ethics, and values of authors who write brutal fiction. But in the end, fuck those people; they aren’t the ones who matter. Those who matter are the readers, the fans of the genre, and then those young children, my children, who run to me when they’re scared, when the house is too dark, or when they hear the noises outside.

Will they still run to me when they know I’m capable of scaring them just as much as the world outside? Will they look at Dad differently, knowing that he purposely murders people (in stories), telling their agonizing deaths in great lengths to appease the readers’ hunger? Will my kids think of them as “just stories”?

This reminds me of a Sylvia Plath poem titled “Child”:

Your clear eye is the one absolutely beautiful thing.
I want to fill it with color and ducks,
The zoo of the new

Whose name you meditate --
April snowdrop, Indian pipe,

Stalk without wrinkle,
Pool in which images
Should be grand and classical

Not this troublous
Wringing of hands, this dark
Ceiling without a star.

A zombie book is as potent as Plath’s closing images, but the fact that there’s a darkness within me, or at least a perceived darkness, remains. And while I want to show my children the ducks and everything else beautiful about our world, I know that regardless of the situation, they’ll eventually see my “troublous / Wringing of hands” and “this dark / Ceiling,” whether I want them to or not. I can’t protect them from how they’ll eventually see their father/stepfather when it comes to the book and how they interpret it. I can only hope that my role as a loving parental figure will outweigh the perceived darkness residing in me.

In the end, we all make sacrifices. But hopefully, those sacrifices are based on educated and informed decisions. In this case, a case many authors face, we sacrifice ourselves for the sake of telling a story. We willingly take on this dark persona, even if it’s initially nonexistent, to fuel our passions, our desires to create compelling stories.

So when my children grow and eventually read the book, they’ll pose the difficult question: “What made you think of this, Dad?” 

The love of the art, I’ll answer. And that’s the best, most meaningful answer I can give, the only answer that can make a moral out of this story:

Follow your dreams, even if they take down a rabbit hole, through a social and cultural collapse, and into a post-apocalyptic zombie infested world.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Peter Pan is an asshole and Tinkerbelle is ghetto bitch. A post to ruin your childhood PART 1 by Chris Williams

That’s right, I said it and it’s true. I‘ll even prove it to you using J.M. Barrie’s own written words. We will start with the book Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens Then move on to Peter and Wendy. We will finish with Peter Pan in Scarlet (the official sequal to Peter Pan and Wendy written by Geraldine McCaughrean) which in my opinion is a pretty damn good sequel

Peter Pans started out as all people do, a baby. In the end he winds up a child that looks the age of ten, has all his “first teeth”, has his first laugh which I’m assuming id the laugh of an infant and is at least one hundred and fifty years old. Pause a second and picture that in your head. That is what we are dealing with. Now that you have that in your brain we can really begin. Oh I forgot to mention that He “escapes from being human.” Which means we aren’t even dealing with a human asshole.

Peter is a kid who “escapes” from home at the ripe old age of seven days old. It seems that all humans were once birds and when they are born they have “a youthful desire to return to the tree tops” which is also why he can fly. He then flies over to Kensington Gardens where he is told by the birds that he is “Betwixt-and-Between.” Basically a half bird half human mutant. Having enough of the Gardens and with a bit of help from some fairies, Peter decides  to go back home to his mother. Once at home he decides that he’d like to spend more time in the Gardens. He goes to and fro from the Gardens and home watching his obviously depressed mother sleep. On his final journey home in which he means to remain there he finds the window closed and barred and his mother once again sleeping. But this time with another child in her arms. Thus begins Peter the asshole.

Now onto Peter and Wendy.

Ok. We’ve almost all seen the classic Disney cartoon Peter Pan. It’s cute it’s funny and for the boys it has pirates. Most of all It has peter as the hero. Well I’m here to tell you the real story on Peter. Peter the asshole.

After Wendy sews Peters shadow on (which was folded up in a drawer, not dancing around) Peter says this exactly. He thought he had attached the shadow himself. "How clever I am!" he crowed rapturously, "oh, the cleverness of me!" Obviously Peter is either full of himself or has A.D.H.D and just can’t remember what the fuck just happened. When we first meet Tinkerbelle we see a hint of how much of a bitch she can be right off the bat. He had to translate. "She is not very polite. She says you are a great [huge] ugly girl, and that she is my fairy." Through this whole chapter you’ll see that all Wendy wants is to tell Peter stories and be motherly to him. Then he mentions the “other boys” It’s his way of talking her into the dirty van with “free candy” spray painted on the sides. Here’s the evidence.

"And, Wendy, there are mermaids."
"Mermaids! With tails?"
"Such long tails."
"Oh," cried Wendy, "to see a mermaid!"
He had become frightfully cunning. "Wendy," he said, "how we should all respect you."
She was wriggling her body in distress. It was quite as if she were trying to remain on the nursery floor.
But he had no pity for her.
"Wendy," he said, the sly one, "you could tuck us in at night."
"None of us has ever been tucked in at night."
"Oo," and her arms went out to him.
"And you could darn our clothes, and make pockets for us. None of us has any pockets." How could she resist.

This is where they all fly away with Peter at the lead leaving behind a saddened Mr. and Mrs. Darling.

Next up we see Peter’s total disregard for others safety. As Peter, Wendy and the boys flew off to Neverland we read these lines.

Certainly they did not pretend to be sleepy, they were sleepy; and that was a danger, for the moment they popped off, down they fell. The awful thing was that Peter thought this funny. "There he goes again!" he would cry gleefully, as Michael suddenly dropped like a stone.
Indeed, sometimes when he returned he did not remember them, at least not well. Wendy was sure of it. She saw recognition come into his eyes as he was about to pass them the time of day and go on; once even she had to call him by name.

Now we get to Neverland. This is where Peter and Tink really show themselves. First, a bit of Tink’s bad side.

She did not yet know that Tink hated her with the fierce hatred of a very woman. And so, bewildered, and now staggering in her flight, she followed Tink to her doom.
Tink's reply rang out: "Peter wants you to shoot the Wendy."
It was not in their nature to question when Peter ordered. "Let us do what Peter wishes!"
cried the simple boys. "Quick, bows and arrows!"
All but Tootles popped down their trees. He had a bow and arrow with him, and Tink noted it, and rubbed her little hands.
"Quick, Tootles, quick," she screamed. "Peter will be so pleased."
Tootles excitedly fitted the arrow to his bow. "Out of the way, Tink," he shouted, and then he fired, and Wendy fluttered to the ground with an arrow in her breast.

That’s right, Tink had Wendy murdered.. Though  Wendy didn’t die. She was saved by the “kiss” (a button) that Peter gave her. So Tootles realizes his mistake and they decide to hide the body. Wendy’s out cold for a while. Peter finally lands and Tootles tells him what happened. What’s the first think Peter thinks to do? Why kill Tootles of course. Here’s the proof.

"Oh, dastard hand," Peter said, and he raised the arrow to use it as a dagger.
Tootles did not flinch. He bared his breast. "Strike, Peter," he said firmly, "strike true." Twice did Peter raise the arrow, and twice did his hand fall. "I cannot strike," he said with awe, "there is something stays my hand."
All looked at him in wonder, save Nibs, who fortunately looked at Wendy.
"It is she," he cried, "the Wendy lady, see, her arm!"

Yes. The only thing that saved Tootles was Wendy not actually dying. After that we soon get a hint that Wendy’s brothers kind of don’t want to be there any more. "John, John," Michael would cry, "wake up! Where is Nana, John, and mother?" They build a house around Wendy to recover in. We are now getting to the disturbing part. These kids don’t really eat. Sure, we all know that Pan fed them by imagining up food for them but the problem is this line right here. The difference between him and the other boys at such a time was that they knew it was make-believe, while to him make-believe and true were exactly the same thing. This sometimes troubled them, as when they had to make-believe that they had had their dinners. Basiclly the lost boys either didn’t eat or ate out of view of Peter because if they didn’t make-believe, this happened. If they broke down in their make-believe he rapped them on the knuckles. And the proof they broke down a lot? right here. "Yes, my little man," Slightly anxiously replied, who had chapped knuckles. Ya Peter was a bastard.

Now I’ve noticed this post has gone on too long so I'll just make it a two-parter. But let me know what you guys think below. See you guys in a bit. I promise part two will be much shorter.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Zombies -- the New Vampires? by Scott M. Baker

Please drop by Rea's Reading Room where, as part of my blog tour, I attempt to answer the question if zombies are the new vampires.  See the excerpt below. 

When I asked Rea if there was anything in particular she wanted me to write about for this guest blog, she offered the topic of whether zombies are the new vampires.  Since I’ve written extensively in both subgenres, I jumped at the chance.  However, I don’t think you can say that zombies are the “new” vampires.  That implies that the gut-munching living dead are replacing the blood-sucking undead as the dominant monster in the culture, which is far from the truth.  They’re distinctly separate subgenres with widely different fan bases.
You can read the rest of the posting here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Haunting in Lower Level

I don’t want to talk about writing or the process. There, I said it.

“But who the hell are you?” some of you (most, probably) ask. Allow me to elucidate. My name is Thom Brannan, and I am the co-author of Pavlov’s Dogs (with D.L. Snell) and also co-authored (finished) the book coming up, pictured below:

You'll note the name in big white letters is not, in fact, Thom Brannan

Here’s the thing: everybody (writerly types) that has a blog eventually goes on about the writing process, and how things have to come together for them, or the importance of readers that aren’t family or friends, or the importance of the support of family and friends, or whatever. There are posts about the importance of networking, and the pitfalls of being distracted by it, and by the Internet as a whole. There are a lot of really good writers with excellent blogs, all full of that stuff. Whatever I may have to say about it will seem dull and uninteresting by comparison.

So let’s talk about something else instead. And I say this in all sincerity:

My first boat was haunted.

I was stationed on the USS Tunny (SSN-682) from mid-1996 to mid-1998. During that time, we did one WestPac (a western Pacific deployment) and a decommissioning. Between the two, there was some war games and a Tiger Cruise, where we took friends and family on board and steamed from San Diego to Bremerton, Washington. The ship was commissioned in the summer of 1974, and was the second submarine by that name.

Being so old, the boat had a long and storied history, most of which I knew goddamn nothing about. It didn’t matter to me; at the time I was busy trying to get qualified* and doing all the new-guy stuff. Being the junior-most member of Electrical Division, I had a lot of fun stuff to do. One of those things also stemmed from being the skinniest, and it involved getting stuck inside a large DC motor. But that’s a story for another day.

There was a night where I was on watch as Shutdown Electrical Operator. That was a watch station that was manned from midnight to six, mostly (I think) to keep the Shutdown Reactor Operator awake. But I had things to do, and every hour I was supposed to go around the engine room and get readings on a bunch of stuff for my logs.

This night, the ship was berthed at Yankee 23 (or 22) on the sub side of Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. I think. The particulars have gotten fuzzy with time. Johnny was the SRO, and Skipp was the Shutdown Roving Watch, both guys that had been on Tunny for an appreciably longer time than I had.

It was at 0200 that I went into one of the compartments of the engine room, Auxiliary Machinery Room II, Lower Level. The layout was odd, because there was a set of threaded pillars in the middle and a control panel at the aft end, which were bracketed by a pair of large motor/generators. In front of all that was another panel which effectively blocked the rest of the compartment. (I would include a diagram to clarity, but I don’t know if the United States Navy’s thunder brigades would come down on me like a ton of National Security bricks.)

It was quiet, like you’d expect it to be at two in the morning. I stuck my face up to the plexiglass cover of one M/G, looking for sparks at the brushes, and I thought I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. I stuck my head up. “Skipp?”

There was no answer, and I thought maybe Skipp was messing with me, so I ignored it. I went around the aft end to the other M/G to check it for sparks, too. As I did that, the movement from the corner of my eye repeated itself.

“Quit fucking around, Skipp,” I said. And again, there was no answer.


Tossing my clipboard up to AMR2 upper level, I took a last look around lower level, making sure I hadn’t forgotten anything. Someone would be up at 0300 to check our logs, and the person that night got testy when I forgot stuff, which may or may not have been often. Meh.

The ladder leading to upper level was straight up and down. I started climbing it, and felt a tug on the pants of my uniform. I looked down; there was nobody there. “Hello?” I said. Shrugging as best I could while halfway up a ladder, I looked back up and started again.

There was another tug on my leg, harder this time. I looked back down, checking to see if my pants were caught on a valve or support strut or something; no dice.

And then I saw my pants leg move on its own.

I shot up out of AMR2LL and ran to Maneuvering, where Johnny was stationed. He was sitting in there, talking with Skipp, and I knew.

“So neither of you guys were in Machinery Two, Lower Level just now?” I said.

They looked at each other, and son of a bitch, they knew, too.

“I don’t go down there at this pier,” Skipp said, and they took turns with how long AMR2LL had been haunted, or why it was only at this pier, if it had been a shipyard worker that bit the dust, or another sailor, or whatever. I didn’t have a lot to say for the next hour or so, which I’m sure shocked both of them.

So. That’s my story. I still don’t know what to make of it, and it’s one of those things I feel stupid bringing up to the old crowd... most of them are on Facebook, and it wouldn’t even be a thing to start a thread in the SSN-682 group, but I just don’t want to. Why not? I don’t know. Maybe I’m afraid I’m remembering it wrong. Or right. Or maybe it was a practical joke and they just forgot to tell me this whole time. Whatever it is, or was, I’m leaving it alone.

Next week, I'll run off at the mouth (fingertips) about the Green Hornet.

-Thom Brannan

* - Being qualified, for submariners, is an important thing. I still have my "fish," or Submarine Qualification insignia, in a place of honor. I also wear it on the back of my hardhat at work, and other people know what it means to me. It may or may not be a tattoo in the future. -TB

Monday, May 14, 2012

Why I Prefer Monster Movies Over Chick Flicks by Scott M. Baker

Anyone who knows me also knows how true the above statement is.  I would rather be water boarded than have to watch a chick flick.  The level of discomfort is about the same, but by law I can only be water boarded for more than forty-five seconds.

So why am I starting this thread?  I was channel surfing last night when I came across my least favorite chick flick of all time -- Sleepless in Seattle.  Now before everyone comments on how unromantic I am, let me explain.  Although it is well produced movie with a phenomenal cast, the plot always makes me insane because it so insipid and unrealistic.  Annie Reed (Meg Ryan) falls in love with Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks) after hearing him on a radio talk show sharing his grief over the death of his wife.  Annie has never met Sam and what little she knows of him she obtained through the talk show.  And did I mention that's engaged to Walter (Bill Pullman), her adoring but straight-laced fiancee who treats her like a princes and loves hear dearly?  Despite all this, Annie breaks off her engagement with Walter during dinner in New York (which he is surprisingly okay with) and rushes to the Empire State Building hoping to find her true love.  And she does ala An Affair to Remember.  Annie and Sam walk off together and live happily ever after, and most of the women I know think it's the most romantic movie of the past twenty years.


Let's try an alternate universe version of the move and see if we get the same results.  We'll call it Insomnia in Indianapolis.  Sam falls in love with Annie after hearing her on a radio talk show sharing her grief over the death of her husband.  Sam has never met Annie and what little she knows of him she obtained through the talk show.  Sam is engaged to an adoring but straight-laced fiancee (let's call her Cameron) who treats him like a prince and loves him dearly.  Despite this, Sam breaks off his engagement with Cameron during dinner in New York (which she is surprisingly okay with) and rushes to the Empire State Building hoping to find his true love. Do you think it would still be considered a romantic comedy?  They'd have to change the name to Dastardly in Denver.

Thankfully I clicked onto the SyFy Channel a few seconds later and was able to numb the mind with some movie about a mega three-headed shark versus a sixteen-armed octopus, or something like that.

Sure, a lot of people fall in love with someone they've met over the Internet or in chat rooms, which is today's version of talk radio.  I know that for a fact.  But Annie leaves her fiancee sitting by himself in a restaurant to meet another man, and that's considered romantic?  I don't think so.

That's why I prefer monster movies because there is where you find true love and devotion.  You don't believe me?  The Creature from the Black Lagoon was gunned down (in two movies, no less) because of his affections for the fairer sex.  How many times was the Mummy set on fire by angry townsfolk for merely wanting to reunite with his one true love?  And let's not forget about the greatest monster of them all -- Frankenstein.  When his bride shunned him, did he go onto talk radio and whine about it, or join a support group?  No.  He blew up the lab with himself in his bride still in it. 

Now that's the type of love you don't find in chick flicks.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

DARK SHADOWS: An Appreciation and Lament

Dark Shadows, the first and so far only Gothic soap opera, had its premier when I was four years old--but things got interesting a year later, in 1967, with the introduction of the 200-year-old vampire Barnabas Collins (portrayed with tragic panache by the just-passed Jonathan Frid).  I'll not get into a scholarly treatise here about how Barnabas was intended to be a limited-run villain who instead saved an otherwise moribund franchise, or how DS paved the way for later generations of serial thrillers from The X-Files to Lost to Fringe.

No, I want to tell you how that gaunt, dark-eyed gentleman with the elegant wardrobe and the wolfs-head cane (and every so often, the wicked fangs) was my gateway drug into horror and occult fiction.  You see, Barnarbas--along with his werewolf cousin, Quentin (David Selby, who went on to prime-time soapy success in Falcon Crest) and the rest of the supernatural good'uns and bad'uns featured on Dark Shadows--spun off a massive line of marketing tie-ins:  trading cards (which I collected feverishly and pored over obsessively), a board game (about which I recall absolutely nothing), and... paperback novels.

These books--and there were quite literally dozens upon dozens of them--were my first "adult" reading material (and yes, I was precocious enough to be gobbling these things up as fast as they were released by the time I was seven or eight).  I'd say they probably rated a notch above the average paperback romance novel, but that might just be personal prejudice talking.  Most in particular, I remember a collection of short stories, The Dark Shadows Book of Vampires and Werewolves, that had some absolutely brilliant work in it (including "Wolves Don't Cry," by Bruce Elliot, which still may be my favorite werewolf story ever).

And what has Hollywood gone and done with this fabulously dark, mythic realm of my youth?

They've turned it into a camp parody of itself.  Pfaugh.

Now, I know in retrospect that a good bit of the mystique surrounding Dark Shadows has as much to do with my age at the time, and the era of its appearance, as anything.  My reply is:  So what?  One could make the exact same argument about Star Trek.  I guarantee, if JJ Abrams did to Trek what Tim Burton did to DS, there would have been riots unlike anything seen since the peasants stormed the Bastille, at the very least.

There was a very respectable 12-episode reboot of Dark Shadows back in 1991, with Ben Cross as our dear Barnabas; the Chiller network just had a mini-marathon of the series this weekend.  That's how one respects a source:  with style and class.

Me, I think I'll raid the used bookstores and see if I can scare up any of the old Marilyn Ross tie-in novels to take on vacation with me next week.


Welcome to Enjoying the Apocalypse

For those of you clicking onto this blog for the first time (and that's all of you since we started it up just this week), I ask that you please bear with us while we work out the kinks and fill in the content.  Once it's up and running, several Permuted Press authors will be frequenting the site to post their mental musings or whatever else may come to mind.  So check back in about a week or so, and then we can all enjoy the apocalypse together.