The cover has a warning: “No Inspirational Life Lessons Will Be Found In These Pages.” How could I resist?

60. Half Empty – David Rakoff

A friend of mine bought this book for me and told me that when she saw it, it “reminded her of me.” What she didn’t know is that when we worked together at the public library, I came across this book several times while shelving, thought about checking it out, and then didn’t get around to it…so it also reminded me of me.

Starting with the essay “The Bleak Shall Inherit,” Half Empty demonstrates a lot of truths that the more pessimistic among us will recognize, sort of like a New York-centric, more amusing version of the message from the wildly popular to interlibrary loan book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck (Side note, I tried to skim this because of the appealing title, it said something about being fine with being normal and I had to close it. I’m abnormal and I like it, sir, and not just in an “Oh, I’m so unusual, I drink coffee with four shots of espresso and am writing a screen play at Starbucks because I MUST express myself” kind of way, more in a “What did you just say? Why do you like talking about that?/Did you really just glare at me for saying ‘hamster’?” coupled with side glances and grimaces from other people when I talk kind of way.).

One of my favorite passages had to do with the musical RENT. I don’t like paying rent even though I’ve been doing so for what feels like thousands of years now, but that’s a digression mainly meant to set up the fact that I have never actually seen RENT and despite not seeing RENT, I have had that “525,600 minutes/How do you measure/Measure a year” line stuck in my head before (and now, so do you). Rakoff mentions that the super-creative creatives of RENT don’t really spend much time creating and then mentions the songwriter “noodling on his guitar,” which has long been one of my least favorite things. I hate guitar noodling. I don’t have all day, I’m dying here. We’re all dying. Stop noodling. Anyway, a short while later in the essay he talks about the creator of RENT dying the day before RENT opened, which is awfully sad, but also something that seems like a truism of creativity at this point (especially if you have to do something else to pay rent). You have to have a blind cocky optimism in order to be willing to create because it’s unlikely that it will become popular while you’re still alive. Sometimes you have to die to be popular. Or win a Putlizer. Posthumously. Also, you have to actually follow-through with making something in order to have created something that won’t be recognized until after you’re dead. Whee! Half empty!

Morty is the friend who gave me Half Empty’s favorite guinea pig. Here’s his cute little nose. He never paid any rent.


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The paranormal experiments tend to be the first to go with funding cuts.

2. Poltergeist – Kat Richardson

One of the “stories” I pretty much always enjoy is the “scientific measurement of ghosts gone awry” type. The Haunting of Hill House being the most awesome of all classic examples, The Legend of Hell House (I haven’t read the book yet, I just really love Roddy McDowall), and Alexandra Sokoloff’s The Unseen being some of my particular favorites – and now I can add Poltergeist from the Harper Blaine series to that list.

In Poltergeist, a university research group is trying to create an artificial poltergeist and of course, some of them start to die or be threatened, so who is faking the poltergeist? Anyone? Bueller? In a version of Seattle with Harper Blaine and the ever-present Grey, it is not necessary to fake such things. It is possible to be too successful with university research experiments.

As ghosts, it’s way easier for Pammy and Twiglet to hunt for additional ghosts they might not want me to live with. If somebody came in my home with a spirit box, they’d get a metric ton of wheeking.

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Damn it, Gary.

6. Monster Planet – David Wellington

In the end, basically nobody wins. That’s the main theme of many, many, many zombie stories. But not all of those zombie stories are technically detailed with interesting characters who don’t solely talk about survival all the time. The “Monster” series is a little wacky in scope, but it can also be slyly funny, it has a Druid…, and it has way better female characters than several other zombie-oriented books I’ve read (and that includes some famous comics that had their female characters improved exponentially when it was made into a TV show airing Sunday nights on AMC). The female characters are especially important in Monster Planet, Sarah and Ayaan are serious, resourceful, and basically act like real ladies would for the most part. This series is definitely one of my favorites and I like it better than Wellington’s vampire novels, even when it gets a little wacky.

Murderface and Duncan, also staunch and resourceful, ladypigs.

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“Is that a guy following us with a knife? Maybe it’s a chupacabra.” (Kyle Kinane)

83. Tales of the Otherworld – Kelley Armstrong

In the introduction to this collection, Armstrong mentions that although she put these stories up on her website for free essentially as a thank you to her readers, they were still consistently pursuing her to publish them traditionally…which is one fun aspect of the great ebook debate. Currently at the university I work for, they mention repeatedly that the ebooks they’ve bought are being used. In the department I work for, if you let a patron know we already own a book in eform, they send you an email saying they want a copy they can hold in their hands. It’s an ouroboros. Armstrong’s solution to feeling like she had to sell something she was trying to give away on purpose was to make it a charitable endeavor and to add a new story – a lovely compromise. Tales is the second volume of previously free tales and although the other collection dealt exclusively with the male werewolves in her oeuvre, this volume still deals with some of werewolves, thankfully.

My “reward” for my readers involves these adorable photos of my guinea pigs. Look how free and adorable Ozma is. Freely enjoy

“Bewitched” – After Elena, my second favorite character of Armstrong’s Otherworld is Eve Levine. She’s a witch, so my favor surprised me because I really enjoy her werewolf stories more than any others, but she’s an ornery witch. “Bewitched” is the new, non-already free story in this collection and it’s about her relationship with Kristof Nast, the before-time of Savannah’s story. Yay!

“Birthright” – Logan’s introduction to his pack, of course, he didn’t even know he was a werewolf…oh, those absentee dads. He comes to Stonehaven and tells Clay he looks like he’s in a frat. I like Logan, he was much more levelheaded than some of the other wolves and so it’s nice to get a few more snippets of his character.

Ozma is pretty sure her birthright involves not being stuck on a couch with Horace and Peregrine. She’s not wrong.

“Beginnings” – I thought this was also the title of that two part Buffy finale where she has sex with Angel and he goes evil-Angelus. That’s “Becomings,” but in Googling to double check myself, I found that there’s some Buffy fan-fiction called “Beginnings;” I forget about fan-fiction sometimes… Moving on, it would have been a nice coincidence that both this story of Elena and Clay meeting and Buffy and Angel falling apart would be called the same thing, but they’re not, so… Moving on again. Elena struggling for money in college and being underestimated and antagonized by Clay at first is quite fun to read. It also really grounds Clay in his anthropological background, which always seems like it might be a put-on when reading some of the books. It’s there, mentioned randomly, but as someone who has studied both art and anthropology sometimes it feels like when they make Tara Reid a scientist in a horror movie. The words are there, but do they understand them? Having Clay act like that toward Elena proved to me that he is a solid visiting faculty member at a university. Throw in a scene of finding a book they said they lost a year ago in their office and calling the library to ask that they be reimbursed for the bill and it would be complete.

“Just bring your books back, Finny!” Ozma, as a librarian.

“Wedding Bell Hell” – Paige and Lucas get married. It’s like a reunion of all kinds of fun characters and a little mixed up but positive and that’s how Paige always seems to me anyway.

“The Case of El Chupacabra” – I never really expected Armstrong to branch into mentioning Chupacabras. Ever. They seem far too far south for her Canadian characters, but then again, there’s some stories in Miami, but it’s still weird to see Mexican goat suckers involved in one of her stories. I mean, it’s not really there, but, still. Weird. This one is a case for Paige and Lucas and of course gets in to all the Cortez Cabal intrigue and those aspects of the Otherworld have always bored me. I’m just not super into corporate/mobster/overly powerful dudes in suits doing shitty things or Al Pacino in The Devil’s Advocate-ing. I would’ve been happier if a real Chupacabra was in charge, which is why I keep capitalizing that word when I don’t think I need to.

Ozma escapes the plastic alligator skull, the closest thing I have to a chupacabra.



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“We [don’t] rob banks.”

I have some news… it turns out that Pere and I are partners in art crime. Alleged art crime. We came, we parodied, CBS Studios and Disney/Lucasfilm let us know they have no sense of humor and enjoy censoring the artistic work of poor people and they were allowed to because only the rich get away with shit that’s protected. Only Pere-based works have been targeted at this time and I find it very annoying and irksome in a “Why just my ornery ladypig?” way. I have experienced much of the bullying and shaming for being a lady who isn’t a doormat, and a lady who likes things lots of other people don’t, and also at one point I was shamed for being confident about my opinions and I didn’t realize it till later when the person backstabbed me…so…these are all things that make me say Grrr. That said and throw pillows and hoodies no longer a possibility, I do have both paintings and also some posters and postcards. Saturday and Sunday I will be showing my works at the GeekCraft Expo in Madison. Come get your own piece of future criminalized art if you want.

Come get some. Peregrine’s in confrontation mode on her log platform pillow.


We’ll never do it again. Peregrine and I are totally done with our parody schemes. *wink*


Samurai Finny is really fast. Like so fast.


Finny and the Finnybeast. He so loves having his photo taken. Just always sits pleasantly still…

Pere and Horace, admiring themselves in my Danger Things parody works.

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“Strong as I am!”

16. Red Dragon – Thomas Harris

I’ll just start by saying I love Manhunter. It’s super 80s, Tom Noonan is awesome in it (“Do you see?”), Brian Cox does a non-camp and actually intimidating (pre-Mads, that is) Lecter, William Petersen is an angsty but indelicate Will Graham, and there are so many iconic moments. It looks great, it sounds great, it’s just one of my favorite movies. After 2017’s plethora of shit, I sincerely hope that I will not soon find out that making this film was a nightmare of sexual harassment. It probably was. Nothing gold can stay.

Anyway…although I love Manhunter for all its 80s-ness, it did sort of leave quite a few things out that I now know after reading Red Dragon. Red Dragon is a great book.

And I must say, the William Blake print-eating scene bothered me infinitely in the version with Ralph Fiennes. I wanted that archivist to wake up and punch him in his face repeatedly. You are not supposed to eat the priceless pieces of printmaking! Fuck your becoming – you leave that Blake print alone! Bad serial killer. Bad. Very bad. (They’re fictional, which allows me to be mostly bothered by the librariany parts. That print is real. And thankfully uneaten. Don’t hurt the library materials. No touching.) It also bothered me in the Hannibal TV show, which I also love. But I agree with all the people who said Dolarhyde was too attractive and not very menacing in the show. Having Rutina Wesley as Reba was really good though, she was great.

This picture of Finny stretching reminds me of Richard Armitage’s portrayal of Francis Dolarhyde. SO much stretching. This is not Finny’s becoming.


Here’s Finny’s parody of the Hannibal (I mean Finnibal) TV show’s wendigo, or, *cough* Findigo. Available on stuff and things – along with the other works I’ve uploaded this Finnybruary, Samurai Finny and Raspberry Finny! Also, I did love the swapping of Dr. Chilton for Lounds on the show and the whole “You put your hand on my shoulder like a pet!” thing. Nice work. Holy shit.

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Maybe you’ve noticed one pig is dominating this month and that pig is Finny. Unofficially, I’ve been calling this month Finnybruary, and now it’s more official because I typed it for all to see.

Finny has also begun to make bigger appearances in my artwork and I’d like to share two of those appearances with all of you in anticipation of my next show –GeekCraft Expo – which will be at the Madison, WI Masonic Center on March 3&4.

Finny has made it into his own television parody paintings (one of which will preview on here later this month)! Yay, Finny! It’s like he’s got his own show…sort of.

I’ve always been a fan of Samurai Jack and it’s easy to stick a volatile, sassy rodent in the place of the calm, ever on guard Jack. Yes, yes, Finny would really be Aku, but he’s not. That’s part of the joke. Finny is the Aku within us all and therefore in the parody version he is Jack. Yep, that makes sense, going with it.


The other television parody featuring Finny is applicable to one of the reviews I’m posting later this month so that painting isn’t going up now (I am so prepared. Always.), but I did more than just a parody painting with it. I also made prints of the main image in shiny black (on tea towels and also card stock!) and raspberry (on fewer tea towels and way more card stock!). Now we reveal the glory that is Raspberry Finny:

Raspberry Finny. He’s got antlers.


These will both be available at the GeekCraft Expo and eventually I will also put them up on my My Redbubble portfolio so that people who can’t come to Madison still have a crack at their own piece of the legendary Finnybeast, new patronus of Finnybruary.

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Black Eyed Dog

23. A Winter Haunting – Dan Simmons

Return of Duane! Yay! Well, not really, but Duane’s notebooks and Duane’s house and Duane’s intelligence are all at work in A Winter Haunting. Thankfully. Duane ruled.

You really can’t stop those Elm Haven supernatural occurrences. They’re the can’t stop, won’t stop of middle of nowhere, Illinois. I enjoyed this one, not as much as Summer of Night, but, it’s worth reading just for the connections to Summer of Night and the Duane-ness. It’s a psychological horror story about returning to your hometown after screwing up your whole life, isolation, and Egyptology.

Some people, not unlike my Finny-pig, just settle into a fleece blankie and cuddle away the winter in a non-haunted place. It’s a choice

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This is dedicated: “To lovers of all ages, especially young ones” Ewwww.

28. Morals and Microbes – Theodor Rosebury

I found this book on the blog Awful Library Books , which is excellent and basically sums up the main reason why I enjoy working in libraries – you find the weirdest books. It’s mind-boggling looking through what’s been published and purchased by libraries and Awful Library Books really has some solid highlights. It’s also where I found out the Satanic Panic children’s book Don’t Make Me Go Back, Mommy   existed. #blessed

Morals and Microbes is just as “surprisingly readable” as Awful Library Books indicated it was. It’s from 1971, so a few things have happened since it was published, a few scientific things and some attitudes towards different kinds of people…but I learned a lot that I wasn’t already aware of about syphilis (Yay!) and gonorrhea and I had a good time doing it. Especially when I was reading the chapter called “Shakespeare and VD” on a plane and the person in the seat next to me noticeably tried to inch away – Thanks, Morals and Microbes! He smelled like cologne, which bothers me to no end, so, I’m happy just reading about VD made him want to flee from me.

Syphilis is basically the best venereal disease, or maybe just the most impressive. It’s an insidious plague that’s been around for a very, very long time. Apparently the lepers of the Bible probably really had syphilis as it has symptoms (the collapse of the nasal bridge known as “saddle nose,” what a phrase) that seem like leprosy but leprosy is less contagious than syphilis. Tons of cool artsy people had it, but I knew that, tons of not-cool artsy people also had it. In chapter four, “Syphilis or the French Disease,” Rosebury goes through a long list of Europeans blaming other people for syphilis. Columbus, of course, blamed Native Americans, one more reason why he’s a jerk. He brought it with him… Everybody knows it. The Italians blamed the French (“The French Disease”), the French blamed the Italians right back (“Mal de Naples”), the Germans also blamed the French (“French pox”), the English also blamed the French – no surprise there-, the Portuguese blamed the Dutch, the Persians turned around and blamed the Portuguese, the Polish people blamed the Turks, and Russians called it “The Disease of the Germans,” bringing the seriously weird line back to Europe. Nice.

And while I really like reading about diseases in a not-so-clinical volume such as this, the word “chancre” was used so many times that it started to gross me out. As did the mention of John of Gaunt, the duke of Lancaster, dying of “putrefaction of the genitals” attributed to “carnal copulation.” That mental image left a mark.

A fun note written in the library’s copy on page 166 – “If Man’s law could control the sexual habits of man – it is quite doubtful man would prevail.” Man dies out, Finny inherits the earth.

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“We had the best time at your party”

22. Scare Care – Graham Masterton, ed.

Graham Masterton, master of the vulgar description, is responsible for this short story collection. He established the “Scare Care Trust, a charity set up to fund organizations that help abused and endangered children” get access to vulgar descriptions. Not really. It’s a nice thing from the 1980s. I didn’t research whether or not the trust is still in operation because I am apparently heartless when it comes to endangered 1980s children. Sorry. I watched several of those farm accident videos. Desensitized. Never rest!

Baby Finny also doesn’t care about endangered 1980s children. He is not sorry. He didn’t even watch Apaches (Thank you, Grady Hendrix, for introducing me to Apaches, my mom has the silverware they’re setting the table for the “party” with).

Anyway, all the stories were donated and I shan’t go in to all 38 of them, but here are some of the ones that struck me in particular.

Kit Reed – “Mommy” – This story is based around the question: “Where did the hundred pounds she lost go?” Kit Reed is one author I will always read. She really is a master of feminist horror. Also, she validates many of my lifestyle choices as non-horrific, despite what others might say.

James Robert Smith – “Things Not Seen” – One of the more affecting stories, super short, super impact. “Do you think they’ll like Sonny?”

Ozma likes Baby Finny. She likes not-baby Finny now too.

James Herbert – “Breakfast” – Excellent, another short punch about a woman and her family in the post-apocalypse. Images that really get into your head. Very sticky.

C. Dean Anderson – “Night Watch” – This begins with a killer squirrel. We like that around here .

Jeff Gelb – “Family Man” – A nice little take about accidentally getting a nice ghost family when you buy a new house.

Baby Finny wants a ghost family. He’s not getting one.

Gile Gordon – “A Towpath Tale” – This was one of the more disturbing things I’ve read about a man and his bitch.

Brian Lumley – “David’s Worm” – Don’t let kids go into the garbage at your lab or they’ll become one with an amorphous blob they grew. He named it “Planny.” You can’t give things names or they’ll never go away. Think of Mr. Peppy on Futurama and always remember that lesson from Hermes.

Graham Masterton – “Changeling” – This reminded me of that Angel episode that introduced me to VAST. Gender-swapping as STD is a bit more disturbing, also, now I realize that It Follows owes a heavy debt to Angel’s first season.

Non-baby Finny is still not sorry. But he is interested in more horror-focused short story collections from the 1980s.

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