Such a busy Friday!

There’s so much going on today, I scarcely know where to begin. I’m excited, to say the least.

First of all, my new column of Popshifter has started to run. It’s called “New Country for Old Men,” and it’s about the current spate of country music the radio won’t stop playing. Some of it is good. Most of it is not good at all, and at its worst, it is misogynistic, culture appropriating garbage. Very little of it sounds like country. 
Of course, I’ll still be dealing with my love of New Wave in the “Waxing Nostalgic” column, and this week I’m looking at The Fixx. Not an obscure band, but they are more than the one-hit wonder some people seem to take them for. 

Logo FinalSecondly, our new podcast is out in the open! That’s right, Cootie and I have unleashed our own show upon an unsuspecting world. Called “Kiss the Goat,” the show takes a look at Devil movies, a weird sub-genre that we both love. We’ll also be taking some sidequests, like how Satan is viewed in popular culture. I’m sure we’ll meander into some world religion conversations, too, and that’s part of why I think the show is going to be interesting. Will it be a really deep episode? Or will it just be Cootie and X getting a little tore up and talking about the old boogah-boogah? You won’t know until you listen. As of this writing, the show is only available on PodOMatic, but it will soon be accessible on iTunes and Stitcher Smart Radio. 

Hopefully, you’ll be able to hear two SixPointFives this month. The one for July was postponed due to bad weather. We’ll be recording that one later this month. I’m hoping to pull another one together, where you, the listener, will take a larger part. I’m looking for serious questions about genre film from you! Send ’em in to sixpointfivepodcast@gmail.com. My panel and I will be pleased to answer your questions… once I decide who my panel is going to be. You’ve got until August 15th to send in your questions. 

Take a read and give a listen! It’s all for you guys, and I hope you enjoy it. And as always, I humbly ask that you spread the word. 

Don’t fuck around with vampires from Harlan County.

midnightcoverIt feels good when I can bring a book to your attention that I can highly recommend. It’s also good when it is a book I didn’t write.

I’m sure that’s a relief for you, too.

The book is called “Midnight” by Mari Adkins. I’ve had the pleasure of reading this book at various stages during its creation. Mari has been working on it for a while now; believe me when I say this book is a labor of love for her. “Midnight” has just come out from Apex Publishing. It looks gorgeous, and knowing what’s inside, waiting for the reader (especially if you’re a vampire fan), you’re not going to be able to get your hands on this book fast enough.

It’s all about bad-ass bloodsuckers from Harlan County, Kentucky. Harlan County has a bit of a reputation, don’t you know, for being a rough area of the country. And it is country, to be sure. It’s also about family, and the lack of it, with some good insight into the (in)human condition.

Worth your time and money? Absolutely it is. Get your fang on and give “Midnight” a go.

http://www.apexbookcompany.com/collections/all-books/products/midnight/

 

Sixteen

I was stuck at work when it became apparent that my son was moving in with us, more quickly than he or we had anticipated. My wife went to get him and bring him home.

The Adventures of Cootie & X: Life Without GPS

It was 7 pm on a Friday. The sun was making its slow decent in the western sky. I lowered my visor and squinted at traffic. The air conditioning blasted its protest over the June heat and the man-child sniffled quietly in the seat beside me as his hometown slowly faded into the distance behind us. For a moment, I remembered him as a small child hiding behind his father.  Now his tears were falling from a face hidden behind long hair; the last vestige of the childhood of a boy trying so hard to become a strong man.

“It’s weird, isn’t it?” I asked him, “Knowing that your entire life will fit into one car.”

He laughed, a little bitterly. “Yeah.” he said, “Yeah, it is.”

I squeezed his hand reassuringly and we drove for a while without speaking.

Later, he asked “Will you cut my hair?”

I smiled…

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Over the hump.

I’ll give you the ending first.
You’ll have a new Elders Keep story soon.

The goal, of course, was to try to give you a new story every month.
Things happened.

I spent a lot of February fine-tuning and editing a screenplay I co-wrote with Jim Branscome and James DeHaven. Actually, they had already written it. I sort of came in towards the end and had some ideas. Regardless, there was a lot of fine-toothed combing that needed to be done. It took a couple of weeks. It was surprisingly exhausting. By the time we were finished, I did not want to have anything to do with words. No reading, no writing, no speech above a guttural level.

Mild burnout is still burnout, and it was hard to get my shit back together. I couldn’t work on my own script. I couldn’t work on the next Elders Keep story, even though I had it planned and ready to go. I was tired.

It wasn’t even like writer’s block. I was still typing words. I just didn’t like any of them.

The thing that snapped me back was a late-night Twitter conversation with Leslie Moore, the editor of Popshifter dot com.  It was late and we started talking Eighties music. I’d name a couple of bands, she would throw a couple back at me and, all of a sudden, we were traversing the decade, moving in and out of musical directions and it was fun. A lot of fun.

The next thing I knew, I was writing a weekly column about Eighties music for Leslie’s website. It got me excited about writing again. There’s a freedom to it, a weird kind of stream of consciousness feel, that makes it fun to write and, I’m told, a blast to read.

 

So here I come, back again, ready to put words together in a strange fashion. Ready to head back into the Keep and do bad things to fictional people. Ready to write about obscure music from the 1980’s, a decade I actually remember.

Things are moving, things are moving. Keep up.

-X-

Valentine’s Day is for assholes.

Valentine’s Day is for assholes.

 They Luv!

 

I am not a fan of Valentine’s Day. I understand that some of you are. Maybe you got married on that day, or celebrate an important romantic touchstone on that day. Good on you. From the bottom of my black little heart, I hope you party that shit up and make it big.

***

I am a happily married guy. I’m so far off the market, I can’t find my own expiration date. I am pleased with this remarkable turn of events.

I have been in long-term relationships (marriages included) that did not turn out well. Bad things happened. This is how I can be cynical about love and all of its trappings while thoroughly reveling in the relationship I’m in. My wife is in the same boat.

We’ve all been burned. I’m fully aware how lucky I am to be in the kind of relationship I’m in. She’s my best friend and my wife, not just one. We do something to show each other how much we appreciate each other every day, every single day. We even keep two separate anniversaries: we keep our wedding anniversary (which is Samhain, by the way) and we, at the very least, acknowledge the first time we had sex. A fuckiversary? Sure. Why not? We acknowledge it every month. It’s a big number. I think it makes us feel more accomplished.

We’re both dark people. One of my fondest memories was being told that, when I walked down the hallway at work, someone said about me, “Don’t look in his eyes!” That’s awesome. You should be scared of me. I write horror. On one level of my mind, I am constantly thinking of ways to kill people. I don’t have any problem talking about that, either.

My wife thinks that shit is funny. Gallows humor, black clothing, sexual innuendo and foul language are the order of the day. We’re probably not the people to invite over for Sunday dinner.

Even through all that, we still make people sick. You know the lovey-dovey couple you somehow get stuck in the same room with? The kind of couple that says entire sentences at the same time? That’s us. You think people like us only exist in movies or on the goddamned Disney Channel. Wrong. We celebrate our Life underneath a statue of Anubis.

***

Bear with me.

I’m making a point.

***

This is why Valentine’s Day is a hideous event, one that should be banned. It reduces something as complex and mysteriously beautiful as Love to guilt and a receipt. Did you buy her the kind of candy she likes? Do you even know what kind of candy she likes? Did you get her a card that can’t even come close to expressing how you feel about her? Did it rhyme, for fuck’s sake? Does she now own another garishly colored stuffed animal, holding an embroidered heart that says, “I WUV U?” Are you dating a four year old with a speech impediment?

Ah, there’s that cynicism I was talking about. That sweet, sweet hatred. Let it flow.

 

How did you buy the lie that you have one day a year to show her how special she is? You’ve been sold a bill of goods, some kind of marketing contract that states you must spend a certain amount of money on a specific list of items in order to celebrate this very day. You have been taught that if you do not, then you do not truly Love the woman in your life.

You’ll notice I’m speaking to men right now. That’s because, generally speaking, men don’t get shit for Valentine’s Day. It’s not their turn. It’s all about males buying things for female, hoping to find the key to their woman’s cooter.

Don’t even bring up Steak and a Blowjob Day, either, which was created as a more male-friendly alternative to Valentine’s Day. There are no cards for that holiday. There are no commercials from the Beef Council encouraging women to have both beef and pork at the same time. Dick: The Other… uh… Meat. As sweet of a sentiment as Steak and a Blowjob Day is, it still amounts to I Bought Her A Diamond Ring and All I Got Was This Lousy Ribeye and A Glorified Handy. Also, does that mean a man only gets a steak and a blowjob one day a year? Because I don’t know a man who wouldn’t call bullshit on that immediately.

Reverse it for a moment. Chocolate and Cunnilingus Day. Once a year, girls. Have fun with all that. Now go buy us a new car, every year, on this arbitrary day, because it’s got a funny name and greeting cards to go along with.

***

Love is an everyday thing, not a once a year special event. Of course, there are times for celebrations and special occasions. Those are great times and should be relished. However, manufactured special events, like Valentine’s Day, are not real. They are soulless, heartless marketing opportunities.

You can do better than that, can’t you? Surely you can think of ways to express your emotions to the person you live with/are sleeping with/are stalking on Facebook better than some goddamned corporation, right?

***

 

All of this simply to tell you that I’m releasing the second story in the Tales from the Keep series on Valentine’s Day.

It’s probably the closest thing to a Valentine’s Day story you’ll ever dredge out of me, seeing as how Todd Farmer already perfected the “My Bloody Valentine” story. Even though it doesn’t take place on Valentine’s Day, doesn’t mention Valentine’s Day and makes no mention of St. Valentine, Cupid or boxes of candy whatsoever, it’s still a Valentine’s Day story.

The story is called “Be Sweet.” If you know, you know.

The characters in it are all searching for love. They’re not good at finding it. They don’t know how to express their true desires well.

They’re just the kind of sad, sorry fuckers that would fall for all that Valentine’s bullshit.

You’ll see what I mean when you read the story. It is, at the core, a story about love, even if it isn’t strictly a “love story.”

Oh, yeah. There’s also some graphic sexual content, a monster and copious amounts of bloodshed. It ain’t for the kiddies, but it beats the living shit out of a pair of edible undies and a cheap pink coffee mug.

And that’s the point.

-X-

 

“Tales from the Keep: Volume 2 – Be Sweet” will be available for Kindle and Nook on February 14th, 2013.

All skull art pictured in this post © 2010 Hannah Lunsford. Find more at ofemptymen.weebly.com.