It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

In Which I Discuss Some Horror and Halloween Related Events Read More...

I Learned Something About Myself at the Mutter Museum or Really? That Bothers You?

In Which I Learn Something About Myself Read More...

Cross Three From The List or My Visit to Three Creepy Places in PA

In Which I Discuss My Visit To Some Interesting Places Read More...

Make Halloween a Federal Holiday

In Which I Present a Link to an Online Petition Read More...

The Importance of Fear or Why Kids Should Trick or Treat

In Which I Discuss The Importance of Going Up To The Scary House Read More...

A Month of Horror: Day 31

In Which I List the Selections for A Month of Horror, Day 31 Read More...

A Month of Horror: Day 30

In Which I List the Selections for A Month of Horror, Day 30 Read More...

A Month of Horror: Day 29

In Which I List the Selections for A Month of Horror, Day 29 Read More...

A Month of Horror: Day 28

In Which I List the Selections for A Month of Horror, Day 28 Read More...

A Month of Horror: Day 27

In Which I List the Selections for A Month of Horror, Day 27 Read More...

A Month of Horror: Day 26

In Which I List the Selections for A Month of Horror, Day 26 Read More...

A Month of Horror: Day 25

In Which I List the Selections for A Month of Horror, Day 25 Read More...

A Month of Horror: Day 24

In Which I List the Selections for A Month of Horror, Day 24 Read More...

A Month of Horror: Day 23

In Which I List the Selections for A Month of Horror, Day 23 Read More...

A Month of Horror: Day 22

In Which I List the Selections for A Month of Horror, Day 22 Read More...

A Month of Horror: Day 21

In Which I List the Selections for A Month of Horror, Day 21 Read More...

A Month of Horror: Day 20

In Which I List the Selections for A Month of Horror, Day 20 Read More...

A Month of Horror: Day 19

In Which I List the Selections for A Month of Horror, Day 19 Read More...

A Month of Horror: Day 18

In Which I List the Selections for A Month of Horror, Day 18 Read More...

A Month of Horror: Day 17

In Which I List the Selections for A Month of Horror, Day 17 Read More...

A Month of Horror: Day 16

In Which I List the Selections for A Month of Horror, Day 16 Read More...

A Month of Horror: Day 15

In Which I List the Selections for A Month of Horror, Day 15 Read More...

A Month of Horror: Day 14

In Which I List the Selections for A Month of Horror, Day 14 Read More...

A Month of Horror: Day 13

In Which I List the Selections for A Month of Horror, Day 13 Read More...

A Month of Horror: Day 12

In Which I List the Selections for A Month of Horror, Day 12 Read More...

Dark Screams Vol 5

In Which I Review Dark Screams Vol 5 Read More...

A Month of Horror: Day 11

In Which I List the Selections for A Month of Horror, Day 11 Read More...

A Month of Horror: Day 10

In Which I List the Selections for A Month of Horror, Day 10 Read More...

A Month of Horror: Day 9

In Which I List the Selections for A Month of Horror, Day 9 Read More...

A Month of Horror: Day 8

In Which I List the Selections for A Month of Horror, Day 8 Read More...

A Month of Horror: Day 7

In Which I List the Selections for A Month of Horror, Day 7 Read More...

A Month of Horror: Day 6

In Which I List the Selections for A Month of Horror, Day 6 Read More...

A Month Of Horror: Days One through Five or Now We Play Catch Up

In Which I Start Something New and Am Immediately Behind Read More...

Penguicon Links for People of Amazing Awesomeness

In Which I List Some People and Websites You Should Check Out Read More...

The Much Delayed Penguicon Post

In Which I Discuss Penguicon 2015 Read More...

The Horror Movie Tag

In Which I Answer Ten Questions About Horror Movies Read More...

Dark Screams: Volume One A Review

In Which I Review Dark Screams Volume One Read More...

I’ve Been Really Busy, I Swear! or Oh Yeah, I Have a Blog

In Which I Catch The Readership Up On The Last Two Months Read More...

Mark You Calendars Now — Flint Horror Con

In Which I Announce An Upcoming Appearance Read More...

Plateaus or How Horror is Like Addiction

In Which I Discuss My New Plateau Theory Read More...

Farewell to the Archives

In Which I Say Goodbye To The Tombkeeper Archives Read More...

A History of Cinematic Horror: Three Examinations

In Which I Compare Three Book Which Discuss Horror Films Read More...

13 Films to Prep You for Halloween or What To Watch Between Now and Next Thursday

In Which I Discuss The Movies To Watch To Get You Ready For Halloween Read More...

Half Way to Halloween and I’m Way Behind

In Which I Whine About Something Completely Different Than Last Time Read More...

So Much Prep Work

In Which I Devote Time to Whining About How Much I Have To Do Instead of Doing It Read More...

Adendums To Where I Will Be

In Which I Discuss Some Other Cool Upcoming Events Read More...

I Finally Went Where People Have Been Telling Me To Go

In Which I Discuss My Day In Hell (Michigan) And Points Nearby Read More...

Upcoming Appearances and Other Cool Stuff

In Which I Detail My Plans For The Halloween Season And Provide A List Full Of Fun And Awesomeness
Read More...

Zombie Convention Wrap Up

In Which I Discuss My Weekend As A Vendor At Zombie-Con
Read More...

Horror Movies You Need To See, or It’s My Site, I’ll Pick As Many As I Want

In Which I Attempt To List My Favorite Horror Movies
Read More...

Demons and Kaiju -- A Double Review or Science-Fiction, Double Feature.

In Which I Review The Conjuring and Pacific Rim Read More...

Summer Reading So Far

In Which I Review Three Novels Read More...

To Scare Or To Be Scared, That Is The Question

In Which I Muse On The Nature Of Fear, Scaring, And Being Scared Read More...

Tales of the Resurrectionist

In Which I Review The Films Burke and Hare and I Sell The Dead. Read More...

Where Once There Was A Bookstore, Now Stands A Bookstore...Sort Of.

In Which I Discuss My First Visit To A New Bookstore
Read More...

Horror People Have the Biggest Hearts

In Which I Note Some of the Ways Your Reading Dollars Can Help Fund Good Causes Read More...

Behind the Mask of the Horror Actor

In which I review Behind the Mask of the Horror Actor Read More...

Freddy vs Freddy: A Discussion of Two Nightmares Part II: Irony's Revenge.

In which I review the original Nightmare on Elm Street and compare it to the remake. Read More...

Freddy vs. Freddy: A Discussion of Two Nightmares: Part I

In which I complain about cinematic remakes and discuss the most recent Nightmare On Elm Street movie. Read More...

What Do Roller Derby Fans and Horror Enthusiasts Have In Common (Other Than Tattoos)?

In which I discuss the importance of embracing your own geekdom. Read More...

A Few Thoughts On Being A Genre Fan II or The Horror Fan’s Lament

In which I discuss the difficulties involved in being a fan of Speculative Fiction’s redheaded step-child Read More...

ATTENTION PEOPLE WHO READ BOOKS AND STUFF!!

In which I provide some reading recommendations Read More...

A TALE OF TWO HOUSES: HILL v HELL A dual review of The Haunting of Hill House and Hell House.

In Which I review two classic haunted house novels (a post which would have been more appropriate back in October when I first thought of it). Read More...

The Fifth Anual Monster Mash For Literacy Bash

Pasted Graphic 1


This Saturday!

That’s right, you have less than a week to prepare for the premiere event of the halloween season. The
Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers, their friends, family, and minions will be invading Berkley, MI. The Fifth Annual Monster Mash for Literacy bash will be held at the Berkley VFW post located at 3025 Coolidge Highway between Catalpa (11 1/2 mile) and 12 mile roads.

For those not familiar with the event, let me give you a quick run down. Your favorite horror writers will be getting together to put on a shin dig of frightening proportions. There is, of course, dancing and great music. Yes, there will be drinking (bring cash -- it is a cash only bar) including a signature drink created by yours truly. There will be a costume contest with prizes (the world famous Boners!) for Funniest, Most Original, Scariest, Sexiest, and Best Overall costumes. There is a 50/50 raffle where you can win cash. There’s a guessing game where you can win candy. Best of all, there is a Penny Auction with amazing prizes including signed limited editions of books by Dean Koontz and Bentley Little, gift certificates for massages and tattoos, and much more.

Why do we do all of this? We do this to promote literacy. The proceeds of the evening go to the
Dominican and Siena Literacy organizations. That’s right, all of this fun you are having results in people learning to read.

How can you possibly resist?

A Digital Collection

I will admit it, I am a pack rat. No seriously. I recently cleaned out a filing cabinet for what was apparently the first time in decades. I found the hiring in information packet for a job I left over fifteen years ago as well as the deed to my first car (purchased in 1987).

I also went through the various cords, supplemental devices, and other random pieces of technology I had lying around. This included chargers for devices which I no longer possess. It included chargers for devices I could not even name. If you follow me on the Zuckerber Experiment, you’ve seen the picture of the spectrum of old mobile phones that I found as well.

Like I said, pack rat. I have a hard time getting rid of things.

This most definitely extends to the purchase of books. Part of the decluttering of the computer room included a book by book removal of each tome from the shelves in that room. I managed to whittle the collection from three book shelves to slightly more than two. Don’t be too impressed. Part of this involved moving the fiction titles down to the sixteen shelves which make up the basement library. On the plus side, some of the books did make it into the box of material to be donated (some of which went to a good home before making it to the library, always happy to help out a friend).

What you have to understand is that the remaining, roughly ten shelves of books represent only a portion of the non-fiction collection of the esteemed Dragon’s Roost Library. Specifically, all of the books relating to writing, all of the books relating to Criminology, Statistics, Forensic Science, and True Crime are on those shelves. Granted, many of these are textbooks, some left over from school, others read for fun, so the actual number of books is less than it would be if they were all paperbacks. This portion of the collection also includes the majority of the autographed books which I have collected. In some cases these are large, special edition reprints or omnibus editions which, like text books, are larger than the average bear, I mean book*

Also on these shelves are some of my treasured autographed books, the ones in which my friends and fellow members of the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers appear. Finally, there is a copy of every book in which my work appears, along with a few newsletters and other things which I have written for.**

If you are following along with the footnotes*4, you will not that in footnote 3 I stated the “physical books.” I also jokingly refer to them as the analog books. This is to differentiate them from the digital books which I am either reading on one device or another or listening to. I am a big fan of digital media for reading. I used to listen to audiobooks only while driving, but have recently taken to listening to them while working on household projects as well.

I am not going to jump into the digital versus analog debate that I have covered numerous times in a number of different venues. I bought out a ton of books when Borders went out of business. I have a Sony digital reader. I have the Nook, Kindle, Kobe, Stanza, and X Comics apps for both my phone and iPad. I have an Audible account for the purchase of audio books and an Overdrive account to borrow them from the library.*5

Yes, I use all of these methods of reading. In fact, I often use them at the same time. Well, not at the same time. I’m not going to listen to one audio book while I am reading a paperback. You know what I mean. I will be listening to one book while cleaning the kitchen, then go outside with a paperback to read that one. I try to keep them separate by genre. For example, yesterday I listened to a suspense novel via audiobook, read a book on body language on my phone while waiting in line, and finished an urban fantasy novel stretched out on the couch.

I’ve never been one of those people who gets confused by multiple plot lines. In fact, I really don’t understand people who say that they can’t read multiple books at the same time. These same people do not have problems keeping the various story arcs of their favorite television shows straight in their minds.

Whatever.

None of that has anything to do with what I sat down to lament about, namely the pack rat problem.

I have a lot of books. I more than a few books that I have not read. By this I mean that I probably have enough books*6 that I do not need any new material for years and years. Now that I am acquiring things digitally, this is even more of a problem.

Problem? You ask. It seems that digital books would be the solution. You can get more and more and more and never worry about running out of room for them.

To which I would say “Yes, exactly.”

Part of the problem is the whole bargain idea. Authors will offer a book, usually an older title, for a deeply discounted (sometimes free) rate in order to entice people to purchase their newer material. In some cases the material is offered free with the hopes that the reader will then purchase the title in analog form or support the author’s work in some other way. Other times the author will give away books with the hope that people will then review them, recommend them to friends, or promote the book and/or the author in some fashion.

Far be it from me to pass up a free book.*7

This is where the problem kicks in. I do not want to be one of those people who takes advantage of these kind of promotions without earning them. There is an implied reciprocity and I am not living up to my end of the bargain.

This is not always the case. Sometimes a book will be so intriguing that I will move it to the top of the pile, the all important
To Read pile. There are times when a series looks so interesting that I can not help but purchase all of the books in it.*8 Most of the time, however, this does not happen.

Most of the time I shuffle them into the list of things that I plan on reading and there they sit. Often times they get pushed further and further down because of new, more intriguing books which I found on-line or which were recommended to me.

Sometimes they shuffle back up to the top in unexpected ways. A few months ago I was wondering what to read next. I mentioned a couple of the potential titles on Facebook and received an enthusiastic recommendation for one of the choices. I started reading it and found out it very enjoyable. In fact, I found it so enjoyable that I went out and purchased the titles in the series which I was missing (I had bought a number of them when the various Borders went out of business).*9

The reason behind this whole rant is that I usually concentrate only on horror novels during the month of October. I remembered that I had a number of books which I had downloaded to my Sony e-Reader of a horrific flavor. When I went to charge it I remembered that I had purchased a special code from a horror only publisher which allowed me to download any of the e-books they published in 2012 for free. I hadn’t used it yet.

Within a matter of minutes I had 25 new titles waiting for me, added to my
To Read pile.

Twenty-five.

Sigh.

Maybe I will get around to reviewing some of these.



*Because you were bound to ask, the collection includes but is not limited to Stephen King, Peter Straub, F. Paul Wilson, Ray Bradbury, Cherie Priest, and a second edition of
The Big Sleep autographed by Raymond Chandler and inscribed Ray Chandler, October 1943.

**Remember, this is only the Upstairs portion. The bulk of one of the basement walls contains the fiction books. The top shelf on the opposite walls contains some of my favorite books of all time including all of the non-signed Stephen King books (the majority of them in hardcover), my collections of J R R Tolkien and Arthur Conan Doyle, leather bound collections of Shakespeare, and a hardcover of
Emma Who Saved My Life by Wilton Barnhardt (which if you have not read, I encourage you to do so).***

***Sadly, this is not the complete list of my physical book collection. There is also a small set of shelves next to the bed including the five or so books I am actively reading at any given time, anything The Mrs might be reading on her side of the bed, and five or six coffee table sized books in the living room with topics ranging from wolves, to horror movies, to roller derby.

*4 And you really should be.

*5 Yes, I borrow books from the library. Granted, it’s not that often, as you will determine from the remainder of this little rant.

*6 Enough books. As if there is such a thing.

*7 I feel the need to add a comment about digital publishing and those who use it as a method of circumventing the standard publishing method. While I am all for helping new authors (since I am one myself), in general, I do not support using Amazon publishing, vanity presses, or other Print On Demand services as a way of getting published. Often those who are doing this are doing so because they fear rejection by actual publishers. The material which they then offer for low prices, or even for free, is often material which is substandard. Part of going the “old fashioned” publishing route is making sure the book that is getting to the readers is something that is worth reading. This means that it has be
edited, is free of mistakes, reads well, is entertaining, etc. Yes, some of this is subjective, but if you were to spend any great amount of time reading the stuff which is available through these sources your eyes would bleed.

The comparison I like to make is between network television, cable, and YouTube. I, personally, don’t watch a lot of network television. Most of the shows seem exactly the same to me. Those that are original tend to have their edges filed off until they are just like everything else. I find the material offered by basic cable to be more interesting. If you look at what was recently recorded on our TiVo you will find things like Copper, the new BBC-A offering. Yes, sometimes I will find something amazing on-line like Angel of Death or The Guild.

Similarly, I read some things put out by the major publishing houses. Yes, I am going to keep buying my Stephen King hardcovers. I do find myself leaning towards specialty houses the focus on horror, mystery, and speculative fiction when looking for something new to read. I very rarely delve into the worlds of the self-published. I’m sure there are some gems waiting to be found there, just like there are occasionally really funny videos on YouTube.

However, when I am looking for something to sink my teeth into, something with good production value, quality acting and directing, something that will entertain me for more than a few moments, that is not where I am going to turn first.
Especially not when I have that giant stack of things ready to be read.

*8 The onus of OCD.

*9 I also discovered that I had to visit the optometrist. I had been reading so many books on my iPad that I had not realized that my eyesight had deteriorated. Nothing serious, mind you. It is only a problem if I am reading actual physical books which do not allow me to change the font size. Now I have reading glasses which do that for me.

So, What's the Deal with All of the Zombie News Lately?



Now I am not one to promote promote hysteria or anything, but seriously, what is with all of the recent zombie stuff in the news.

I'm not, at the moment, referring to the people eating people because of bath salts thing. Wait, you know what? Let's address that for a second.

Bath salts are making people into zombies? Seriously? OK fine government. You just tell us anything and we will go right ahead and believe it. Fine, bath salts turn people into undead cannibals. I suppose enemas turn them into sparkly vampires.

Actually, that
would explain a lot.

Ahem.

I am not even referring to the resurgence of zombie material in the movies and television. I would have expected it to have died down by now, truth be told. Honestly, I think a large portion of the zombie's popularity at this moment in time happens to be a result of the backlash against sparkly vampires, emo vampires, and all of the other vamps (and to a lesser extent werewolves) being viewed as the perfect love interest. Sure, he's a bad boy, but he's gong to change for me.

Whatevs.

As far as the classic monsters are concerned, vamps and werewolves are the only ones which really work as potential love interests. No one wants to cozy up to the slimy gill-man from the Black Lagoon. A corpse reanimated by science? Eww, sorry Frankenstein's Monster. Hell, even the Bride that the good doctor created for you didn't want to plant smooches on your bolt neck.

Which is the same category our poor brain eating friends fall into. There are very few high school aged girls who are going to want to snuggle up to an animated corpse. It's hard to want to nibble on someones ear if there is the possibility that said ear is going to come off in your mouth.

Or that the owner of said ear might turn around and gnaw her face off.

Yeah, they may be bad boys, but no one is going to want to change them.

Which makes them perfect movie, TV, book, comic book, video game, you name it fodder. Zombies can be used to represent anything. In fact, they pretty much have been used to represent anything. The traditional Haitian voodoo zombie, which practically no one every thinks about when talking about zombies) represents a loos of control Cinematically it has been used as a metaphor for class struggle in a number of pre-Romero movies.

All of this changed with Night of the Living Dead. Zombies were no longer creatures created by magic and ruled by one person. Now they were mindless, soulless entities whose one drive was the consumption of living flesh.*

As such, they are essentially blanks** upon which we can project our own fears. Zombie films have addressed issues including but not limited to race, class inequality, mindless consumerism, the results of war (initially those returning from Viet Nam and later the various middle east conflicts), nuclear proliferation, the Soviet menace, fear of the body (becoming sick and no longer able to care for one self -- especially poignant in an aging population), loss of control, loss of loved ones, the self-centered nature of society, fear of death, a nihilistic concern for what lies beyond death, the list goes on and on.

As far as action films and video games are concerned, zombies are the perfect foils. If you need an enemy which can be eliminated in a number of gruesome manners, which seems to be never ending, and which will not engender guilt on the part of those watching the films or playing the video games, zombies are a good choice. They don't have souls so you can kill as many as you want. If you want to make a statement about people, animals, or whatever being treated as not having souls....well, look at the previous paragraph.

This blank template aspect has given rise to another phenomenon, one which people are already starting to complain about. Namely, the use of the zombie apocalypse as a means for disaster preparedness. The first instance I heard of was a few years ago when the Centers for Disease Control modeled their emergency preparedness awareness site along zombie lines. *** The zeds acted as a stand in for unchecked disease, natural disasters, or even technological failings. Since then most of the organizations which make up the alphabet soup: FBI, state and local governments, schools, and now the Office of Homeland Security has gotten in on the act.

My only concern is -- what if they know something we don't? What if they aren't getting us ready for the zombie uprising to make sure that we are ready for a natural disaster? What if they are getting ready for the zombie uprising because...





*Or perhaps just their brains, depending on which franchise you are following.

**Kind of like Bella.

***Include links here