If a copy of Dracula mated with a copy of The Da Vinci Code and the offspring was repeatedly slapped round the face with the Manhunter soundtrack…

49. Blood Legacy – Prudence Foster

Florida- scene of many neon-hued, blood-soaked evenings scored by synthesizers. I imagine if this novel had made it onto film they would have gone with off-brand classical played on a broken keytar – extra loud cues every time main character Angelique has a hysterical moment. Sometimes characters take things in stride or try to make sense of bizarre situations like a pale, apparently enticing (from the description, he has terrible hair) Count courting a bookstore owner with a fondness for overreaction, Angelique just goes all out with the hand waving and wailing and frankly, I was hoping she’d just give in to the dark side. I think she would have been a lot happier…but that meddling police lieutenant got in the way, as they do when you need someone with a solid moustache and a sport coat to keep the histrionic bookstore owner from realizing their destiny.

Side note, while trying to remember the lead character’s first name (my copy of this ridiculous narrative wasn’t handy), I found that two of the reviews on Amazon got the author’s name wrong – Who is this ‘Prudence Board’ that writes such amazing works? – while extolling the virtues of Blood Legacy. Suspicious.

Horace doing his best Halloween version of Manhunter. So dramatic and orangey. Do you see?

Horace doing his best Halloween version of Manhunter. So dramatic and orangey. Do you see?

 

 

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This apocalyptic levity should’ve been in print.

5. The Zombie Whisperer – Jesse Petersen

Sarah and Dave return to Seattle to conclude the Living with the Dead series. I really enjoyed this entire series. It means a lot to me to see other writers working with horror tropes allowed some damn humor. I see no reason to try to survive in the zombie apocalypse if I’m just supposed to talk about surviving all the time. Recently, I did admit at a Torchy’s Tacos that I do not want to live if the zombie apocalypse were to happen. I think my massive problems with allergies are enough reason to just wait to be eaten. I don’t want to be around when the air conditioning stops working or when everyone who was enjoying some nice Torchy’s Tacos suddenly starts eating each other instead.  Not for me. Sarah and Dave survived, they kept their marriage together, they can make survival tacos out of canned black beans and re-populate the world in my imaginary memory if they must. They’ve certainly taken up the torch of sarcasm in the post-apocalypse and for that I salute their story and heartily give up the idea of having my own.

Anyway, as a whole, I’m keen on this series as I said. On its own, The Zombie Whisperer is a bit weak for reasons that seem unfortunate. There’s just a smidge too much crammed into a small amount of space with some scenes that seem like they’re the correct length and others that felt rushed and although it makes sense, the couple-based complications of the last one are a little too on the nose for me. I definitely know that when ending a series things get complicated and I’m glad the action returned to Seattle, a nice full circle works in its favor. There is a bit of a scattered feeling to it for me, and I’m not sure that’s not influenced by the reading it as an ebook in Courier type… I have to say I’m also disappointed in the publishers for not giving the series a proper end in print. Tangential short stories only in eformat? Fine. But the end of a print series should be in print with the same cover style, out of respect for the series and its author if nothing else.

Twiglet knows how important it is to end a series right. It is just as important as knowing how to pose on top of a pumpkin, a skill Twiglet mastered in mere minutes.

Twiglet knows how important it is to end a series right. It is just as important as knowing how to pose on top of a pumpkin, a skill Twiglet mastered in mere minutes.

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There’s a new, rather dramatic mouse corpse in my basement.

While attempting to finish the piggy laundry today, I noticed a dead mouse in the basement. But it’s not just dead, it’s dramatically dead… upside-down, arms splayed, head thrown back, probably did a soliloquy on the way out dead. And because it’s being so attention grabbing, I was reminded that I have a store that I could be promoting more dramatically because tomorrow (October 17th) things are going to be 20% off. You may use this code: twentyoff-guineapigsbooks

A store full of guinea pig stuff!

Some of my items go nicely with The Walking Dead…which premieres next week, watch while wearing a jaunty scarf from the end of the apparel section.

Many items are Halloween appropriate, especially the Pigoween stuff.

Finny would like you to know that without the support of viewers like you, he might not make it into more than the two paintings (iPiggie and The Finny Awakens) you can currently get on throw pillows.

Finny would like you to know that without the support of viewers like you, he might not make it into more than the two paintings ( iPiggie and The Finny Awakens ) you can currently get on throw pillows.

 

 

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The Future is in the future

14. Forest of Memory – Mary Robinette Kowal

“What is dead may never die” is not a line from this book but it does sum up dealing in nostalgia for me. In this novella, the reader is presented with the unedited (she’s typing it using a typewriter, which I do wish I had the finger strength to use myself – can’t hit those keys right at the same speed I can on a computer, damn it) perspective of Katya, who deals in “authenticities,” i.e. objects from the past that people in this version of the future collect, when her AI goes down and she’s left with nothing but reality and what’s right in front of her in the wilderness. And also some guy doing a mysterious job that she cannot research using her AI. Ha. Trapped. This was an odd story, and many of the concepts in it could benefit from further exploration because it did end rather abruptly with many unanswered questions. My main takeaway was one of recognizing my mortality again. I like things, I’m isolated, in this future someone is totally going to loot my living space and make a lot of money I will never have. Whee! Future!

Peregrine says you should get some objects for people to steal with her on them from this store, which is only online and not a brick and mortar place, but deals in nostalgia nonetheless:  Choose wisely.

Peregrine says you should get some objects for people to steal in the future with her on them from this store, which is only online and not a brick and mortar place, but deals in nostalgia nonetheless: Choose wisely.

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My favorite chunk of dialogue: “Harmonicas give voice to the transient murderer inside us.”

25. Fifty Feet of Trouble – Justin Robinson

The continuing adventures of Nick Moss, private detective in the City of Devils , Fifty Feet of Trouble delivered on a number of levels; although I must report that I didn’t actually realize the significance of the title until the end and am somewhat embarrassed about it because it’s really perfect.

It was pretty easy to get distracted away from cataloging familiar situations and tropes in this one and I’m glad so much ground work was laid in City of Devils. It may be a surprise, but, I’m not as familiar as many readers might be with noir and classic hard-boiled detective stories. My mystery choices tend to be more Lansdale and Leonard than Hammett and I still found it really easy to see where the weirdo stuff, snappy dialogue, and I have to say- a lot more horrific elements this time (Damn those clowns right to hell!) of the mysteries I’m used to and the salty (pretty literally in this case) detective traditions stomp around with each other. Really though, damn those clowns. And they had their own church! That was effing terrifying. Robinson managed to broaden the world and give several City of Devils characters much more depth, including main meatstick Nick Moss, (and Serendipity got much more of a chance to glisten and shine with slime, which I didn’t know I was waiting for as a reader until after I finished) while also presenting a thoroughly sign-posted and well heeled pulpy as hell mystery. There’s some seriously deft handling of a large cast in a smoothly readable, surprisingly short amount of space. I never got confused. And now I know what happened to Escuerzo. Sheesh.

Meanwhile, my last pumpkin photo shoot was a less than deft example of how to handle a lot of characters. As always, Horace was being a good pig. Ozma, Peregrine, and Danger Crumples were not having it. Guinea pigs. Familiars of the thwarting kind.

Meanwhile, my last pumpkin photo shoot was a less than deft example of how to handle a lot of characters. As always, Horace was being a good pig. Ozma, Peregrine, and Danger Crumples were not having it. Guinea pigs. Familiars of the thwarting kind.

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Full disclosure: I have described some of the metal drumming I like as sounding like hooves, or horsies, or a herd of wild ponies running free across the plains…but never in a story, that would be embarrassing.

24. The Five – Robert McCammon

Writing about music is hard. It just is. It’s hard to describe, sometimes when you describe it using feelings you end up sounding like a tool, or just a bit too sentimental, or you’re Cameron Crowe and despite all pedigree and reputation you really do sound like a bit of a sentimental tool when your music-feels come out of your character’s mouths. I have been to many shows that had a clear overall communal feeling of some level of joy; I’ve also been to my share of “off” shows and more than a couple where I knew members of the band and I cringed about the banter (Stop talking! You’re too drunk and many of us would like to respect you again at some point! You only played two songs and the ten minutes feels like fifty! – I cannot say what show I was thinking and cringing this at. It’s still too hard going through the secondhand embarrassment and I really liked several members of the band. Oh dear Jeebus.)

Sometimes in The Five, Robert McCammon gets a little Cameron Crowe-y and I know it’s probably just me being all “I know some stuff about music and I have opinions and discerning tastes” and my main problem with such Crowe-yness is that it’s too broad. Not every musician, or musician character archetype, it going to worship the same stuff. We can’t all like the same things. Being too genre-specific is a total pit too, though, so, whatever, Roky Erikson-reference and then shove in a Buckethead fan… Anyway, what I’m getting at is that in titular band, there’s a dude who seems like a metal dude but says some phrases that I wouldn’t expect to come out of a metal dude’s mouth – and he’s wearing Chuck Taylors instead of boots, so he’s almost like a metal-indie hybrid, there’s a hippie chick, Peaches if she was an obstinate drummer, the throwback keyboard guy, and the rough and tumble bass player with a past – Murderface, he is not, although they are both imaginary bass players. It’s like several archetypes of musicians formed a band – and they get along. For me that seems like a total fantasy, but that’s okay because McCammon clearly loves what he’s talking about, to the point where he did mention too much gear, and it’s a road trip thriller. I do love some driving stories. Journey stories are a total thing for me; and I’ve never been on tour, just heard a lot about it. The lead singer of The Five totally reminds me of a friend of mine, so he was pretty easy to picture, especially all the anger-based comments. So, if you can look past a few of the cheesier descriptions of songage, and enjoy Robert McCammon’s weirdo version of reality where the supernatural edge of things creeps up on you, The Five is ridiculously enjoyable.

Finny's full name is Finntroll. Ozma is named after the princess and later queen from the Oz books and also the Melvins album. In this picture I'd call them The Two.

Finny’s full name is Finntroll. Ozma is named after the princess and later queen from the Oz books and also the Melvins album. In this picture I’d call them The Two. They were on tour underneath my coffee table.

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“I’m not even supposed to be here today.”

73. Horrorstor – Grady Hendrix

Several people saw this book and thought of me. It’s droll, involves the supernatural, and has an amusing title. I also thought of me from both my existence as a writer of that sort of thing and a reader of it when I read a review and then by happy coincidence I found it in the stacks while looking for a different book that was misplaced sometime in the last two years – I hate it when things are misshelved and have no history of being checked out; it just makes me think the first person to shelve it did it wrong and set off a horrible chain of events.

Anyway, I read it in an evening and I did enjoy it quite a bit. I returned it to the library and was told about how I might like this “book with the weird name” by someone, and then later it was given to me for Christmas. I wanted a copy, so I was happy about that, but my aunt was not as pleased that I’d already heard of it and read it. Sometimes things attract me for reasons I cannot explain. The right kind of horror comedy will find me. Preferably. I’d rather the right kind found me early on in its existence, but I have no control over discoverability …as much as I try to be both discoverable and discover things.

Not surprisingly based on the title, it’s a take off on Ikea and the drudgery of working at a giant store. The book is set up in a catalogue format, with a particular product advertisement at the beginning of each chapter. The descent into madness with those products is one of my favorite things about the book – the design of this book is absolutely excellent. It’s quirky as hell, which, being published by Quirk books, makes sense. I have also always been pretty fond of reluctant anti-hero types forced into ridiculous circumstances, as both a writer and a reader (one might say a squirrelpocalypse qualifies as a ridiculous circumstance, they’d be right) and Hendrix does a good job of pushing the reluctant heroine in a believable way. There are a lot of familiar things in Horrorstor, the co-workers, the policy issues, the dead wanting to make their way back into our world, the convenient storage solutions, and I was very amused by how everything came together.

If you need to improve your Kleenex storage options or if you have ever had a guinea pig as inclined to take out Kleenex boxes as Miss Pickles...perhaps there is some sort of haunted store near you.

If you need to improve your Kleenex storage options or if you have ever had a guinea pig as inclined to take out Kleenex boxes as Miss Pickles…perhaps there is some sort of haunted store near you.

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Summer Ends

20. Touched with Fire – Kay Redfield Jamison
The title comes from a line in the Stephen Spender poem “I Think Continually of Those Who Were Truly Great.” The subtitle of this book is “Manic Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament.” After finishing this book, I know two things: 1. I am not manic depressive. I have never been manic in the manner described in Touched with Fire; although perhaps in retrospect it will seem like I was when I finished so many creative things this year. And I haven’t even put all of them up in my store . 2. I relate more to Henry James than I like. I hated reading Washington Square, now I begrudgingly respect it. Actually, I still have that “ugh” feeling in my gut thinking about reading it, so it may mostly be a product of whatever mental state I was in at the time.

One of my favorite aspects of Touched with Fire is the list of artists, composers, and writers who were either manic depressive, had probable cyclothomia, or had major depression. It’s marked with who was hospitalized, who made a suicide attempt, and who committed suicide and it was super interesting seeing who did what. Like extremely late to the party gossip.

There was also a section of shorter biographical pieces dealing with the family histories of “madness” of famous artists and writers called “Genealogies of these high mortal miseries” after a phrase by Herman Melville that I truly love and that was the section that resonated with me the most. Writing and art are both solitary pursuits and when you consistently wonder if anyone is ever going to connect with your work or why you should care or if you should really be doing this work when you’re not that stable financially and it’s not really helping with that and you know that it’s all you’d like to pursue regardless but you can’t put aside everything you care about aesthetically just because people tell you should if you want to make money… well, that whole section just provided a lot of material for me to relate to. There are a lot of differences between the time period when Herman Melville was writing and now, but, those differences are easily bridged by the mental anguish a large swath of artists and writers feel on a regular basis.

Personally, I remain true to my artistic vision regardless of what anyone tells me; which doesn’t mean that I don’t listen to criticism. I just look for relevance in the criticism. Sometimes you’re doing something people don’t get, and the main thing to consider in that case is whether or not what you’re aiming for people to “get” is coming through. If it’s not, there’s work to do. If it is and they don’t like it, that’s a different story altogether. You’ll have to beat them to death with their own shoes. Or not. To be fair, I know that many people are not ready for guinea pig domination or ladies being clever in realms where men are used to being the only clever ones. I would like things to be different and therefore I create. And I had a shitload of catching up to do after my on and off dealings with depression over the past thirteen yearsish. I proved to myself that even if I’m very stressed and very depressed I can write and paint and when I can focus, I can write and paint A LOT. I did drop one giant amount of baggage between last year and this year, which enabled me to focus on myself and what I want and apparently that was to finish manuscripts, print, paint and paint and paint, print some more, and actually execute some of the ideas I’ve had for so long while still working full time in a job that can be really stressful in so…many…ways. And I can’t say that me doing all of this has been met entirely positively. Some people really want you to stay in the place they expect you to be. But it’s not up to them and I have also received a lot of very encouraging sentiments too and I do want to specifically thank everyone who came out to see me at the Wizard Worlds I participated in this year, it made it clear to me that my work is unique, and, Cute, – and a special additional public thank you to those that facilitated me actually being able to participate. Overall, my experience reading Touched with Fire worked like a door through the darkness I get overwhelmed by sometimes and reminded me that I’m not the only one like this, even if I’m on the major depression side and not the manic side. To borrow a phrase from Mr. Presley, I’m a bit more “Filled with fire” now than anything else – no touching-; although that fire has turned to a smoky haze quite often in the past. No phoenix metaphors, it was there the whole time.

I also have muse-pigs to honor and I'll never let them down. Danger Crumples, perpetual muse-pig, stepping on all my journals, would personally thank everyone who purchased images of him and expressed how adorable he is, if he was available.

I also have muse-pigs to honor and I’ll never let them down. Danger Crumples, perpetual muse-pig, stepping on all my journals, would personally thank everyone who purchased images of him and expressed how adorable he is, if he was available.

 

My little unexpected muse-pig Peregrine and the start of my Pigoween painting. She (and Merricat, their relationship was very Duke of New York-Snake Plissken) was very much the inspiration for my John Carpenter's Guinea Pigs series of paintings.

My little unexpected muse-pig Peregrine and the start of my Pigoween painting. She (and Merricat, their relationship was very Duke of New York-Snake Plissken) was very much the inspiration for my John Carpenter’s Guinea Pigs series of paintings.

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Whenever I read at the airport, it is burned into my long term memory.

59. The Haunting of Frances Rain – Margaret Buffie

Let me start with this, ghosting when someone already has tickets to a very important show that is on your side of the country is not very nice. The person who has the tickets will probably never forgive you, especially if those tickets were to see Uncle Acid on the very day of their birth. However, that very situation is what led me to reading this book in the Atlanta airport while waiting for someone who was a vastly better companion for the entirety of my birthday odyssey (we all knew I was describing myself being ghosted, right, being screwed over is one of the houses for my wheels when it comes to relationships, not just me though, thankfully).

Anyway, I was having a hard time concentrating on it because the baggage claim area associated with the flight I was tracking moved like three times and I kept looking up and seeing that it was different and having to wander down to a big screen and re-check and then go find a new part of the wall to lean on and I got there too early because I know that airport is confusing, I have been a passenger there before.  Eventually I found a good post to lean against to wait and realized that this is a pretty intriguing book.

The characters were realistically drawn, which is pretty necessary when there’s a pair of glasses that allow the wearer to see the past as the catalyst for the story… The setting is very densely composed; it’s easy to feel the damp chill and see the rotting remains of the cabin on the island. I also realized that I’ve barely read anything set in Canada and the little details that I didn’t recognize were amusing. And, not unlike the situation that precipitated my starting this book, there were no loose ends that did not resolve in a satisfactory manner. Although, to be fair to satisfactory resolution, the story didn’t have any pandas, but mine totally did. Me and Yang Yang have the same birthday. He was napping through his- that was not my path. But, his name means “little sea” and this story is set on a lake. Everything’s coming full circle there. Ew.

Belvedere has never been to the airport in Atlanta, seen Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats, or watched a panda sleep. He's also never successfully worn glasses to see into the past, paddled a canoe, or had a summer romance while coming to terms with his stepfather. He's also never made an attempt to ruin anyone's birthday so he's definitely still ahead.

Belvedere has never been to the airport in Atlanta, seen Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats, or watched a panda sleep. He’s also never successfully worn glasses to see into the past, paddled a canoe, or had a summer romance while coming to terms with his stepfather. He’s also never made an attempt to ruin anyone’s birthday so he’s definitely still ahead.

Mixtape:

1. I Come from the Water – Toadies
2. Mud – Legendary Shack Shakers
3. I.O.U. – Tomahawk
4. The Worst There Is – The Ettes
5. Runaway Girls – Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats
6. If Crimson Was Your Colour – Witchcraft
7. Solitary Traveler – Torche
8. Black Motorcade – Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats
9. I Am Lost – Those Poor Bastards
10. A Tall Shadow – Graveyard Train
11. In the Pines – Widowspeak
12. Sweetheart in the Summer – Ween
13. Cemetery Breeding – Black Mountain
14. Sulk – Trust
15. Mile Markers – The Dead Weather
16. Capt. Midnight – Tomahawk
17. Shout Me Out – TV on the Radio

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It’s no Guinea Pigs and Books, the flamethrower, but I think it’s close enough for now.

So, I have artwork available for sale now, via my Redbubble profile. I am also currently selling my work at Wizard World Chicago , but, what I’m selling in Chicago I literally painted or printed with my own human hands (except the postcards and posters, I had those made) and there’s only one shirt. It glows in the dark. Redbubble has no tea towels, but it does have several other items I find highly amusing:

This is the throw pillow I've always wanted. Although I would never station it on one lonely chair like this.

This is the throw pillow I’ve always wanted of my little Merricat. Although I would never station it on one lonely chair like this.

 

Not to be outdone in any fashion, Peregrine is also on a throw pillow on a lonely, unfortunately padded chair.

Not to be outdone in any fashion, Peregrine is also on a throw pillow on a lonely, unfortunately padded chair.

Metal prints! This painting went to a good home with the other two Danger Crumples takes over for Christopher Pike paintings, so, the most brutal type of print is maybe the easiest way to get your own. Unless you want it on a throw pillow, or a shirt, or a mug, lots of things really.

Metal print! This painting went to a good home with the other two Danger Crumples takes over for Christopher Pike paintings, so, the most brutal type of print is maybe the easiest way to get your own. Unless you want it on a throw pillow, or a shirt, or a mug, lots of things really.

Stationary too! Pammy, on her mammoth, potentially on your greeting cards.

Stationery too! Pammy, on her mammoth, potentially on your greeting cards.

Okay, back to Merricat. The only piece of apparel I print on when I'm hand silkscreening is the baseball tee. Baseball tees are available on Redbubble, but not in the most obvious way. One must click literally any of the tees first.

Okay, back to Merricat. The only piece of apparel I print on when I’m hand silkscreening is the baseball shirt. Baseball shirts are available on Redbubble, but not in the most obvious way. One must click literally any of the t-shirts first.

Then, use the pull down menu to select the baseball tee. I have officially sanctioned the colors I'll allow for all the shirts, so, if you must have a tee other than a baseball shirt with any of my images on it, fine, but no orange. It doesn't go.

Then, use the pull down menu to select the “Baseball 3/4 Sleeve.” I have officially sanctioned the colors I’ll allow for all the shirts, so, if you must have a t-shirt other than a baseball shirt with any of my images on it, fine, but no orange. It doesn’t go.

This is the gold version of the Danger Crumples with a flashlight image, the one that got me back into printmaking. It would be adorable on a duvet cover.

This is the gold version of the Danger Crumples with a flashlight image, the one that got me back into printmaking. It would be adorable on a duvet cover.

Sometimes, when you move your images around for optimum placement, you end up designing a phone skin with a captive Ozma on it.

Sometimes, when you move your images around for optimum placement, you end up designing a phone case with a captive Ozma on it.

Horace can use an old school computer on your much newer, less possessed computer.

Horace can use an old school computer on your much newer, less possessed computer.

The official Pigs in a Graveyard hardcover journal.

The official Pigs in a Graveyard hardcover journal.

Many of my images are available on scarves, which is pretty damn cool. And then there's the miniskirt. Yes, you can have zombie leper pirates and their undead guinea pig captain Danger Crumples on a miniskirt. Also available as a miniskirt, antichrist Finny.

Many of my images are available on scarves, which is pretty damn cool. And then there’s the miniskirt. Yes, you can have zombie leper pirates and their undead guinea pig captain Danger Crumples on a miniskirt. Also available as a miniskirt, antichrist Finny.

Lastly, I have also painstakingly made "Artist Notes" for each image I uploaded, read them at your own peril, but remember to click back to the products afterwards, lest the point get confusing.

Lastly, I have also painstakingly made “Artist Notes” for each image I uploaded, read them at your own peril, but remember to click back to the products afterwards, lest the point get confusing.

More pillows (and some other random people’s stuff thrown in, sorry random people, you’re getting overtaken by my herd:

Whee!

Whee! Also, there’s that golden Danger Crumples duvet cover in the second row, next to Pammy on a Mammoth. I don’t think it’s too hard to tell which of these are my work and which two are not.

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