My favorite sign at the Women’s March on Washington thus far just says “I’m Afraid.” Thank you, fellow ladies.

I am not looking forward to the future. It’s hard to have your viewpoint as a depressive person validated so clearly- how am I supposed to tell myself that my brain is tricking me into thinking the future’s not worth it when my country elected someone who insists on trampling everything – Everything (Who needs clean air? Or to be considered a person? Or to be paid properly? Or to have any nature left? Or PBS? Or to get an education? I saw someone mentioning their public library will probably be turned into a taco bowl dispensary, I wouldn’t be surprised at this point if that started happening.) – I care about? Who has done such awful things to women? Who thinks the Violence Against Women Act doesn’t matter? What exactly am I supposed to hope for? Oh right, time travel slash reincarnation so I can go back in time and be born rich and powerful so I don’t have to worry constantly about these things. But that’s not right. And if no one showed up at the inauguration from the past to swipe those Bibles away and yell “Psyche, this can’t happen!”, we’re totally not getting time travel. Damnit.

As always, The Onion is on point

However, I am also inspired by seeing so many women in Washington, DC (Hi, Evelyn!) and so many sister marches. Agitate the fuck out of that illegitimate idiot. Remind him that he and his administration are the worthless ones because they aren’t capable of actually performing any public service. It’s hard to serve the public. It forces you to think that the rest of the country are people too. It forces you to confront our shared humanity and can teach people how to be kind. Elected officials, though, are not kings, are not dictators, are not truly “in charge,” their job is to serve us. Our job is to make them.

Miss Peregrine can look forward and she's one of few reasons I try to.

Miss Peregrine can look forward and she’s one of few reasons I try to.

 

Miss Ozma, about to take down some patriarchal bullshit. As usual.

Miss Ozma, about to take down some patriarchal bullshit. As usual.

I also wanted to announce that since the only things I can contemplate writing about as of yesterday are horror and mental illness, that’s what I’ll be covering for the rest of the year. I’ve read many a horror novel, and I’ve managed to not already “review” some of the books on mental illness that I’ve read. I want to be useful, it’s always been one of my goals. I know that I have been before, so I’ll continue to bring the bitter but usually also funny viewpoint I have as a member of the lost generation until I’m rounded up as Obsolete, along with the satisfyingly calming guinea pig photos.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under art, Books, Uncategorized

One thing I know will stay true for the next four years: Guinea pigs will still be cute.

63. Furiously Happy – Jenny Lawson

Last year ended for me under a dark cloud, this year started under one, and frankly I’ve been debating a lot about what to say or to post this year. I was tempted to just cover nothing but horror novels, and they might heavily feature in my posts, but I have a hard time with that because it isn’t as easy as I’d like it to be to find horror novels by female authors that appeal to me and I like to try to be balanced in my review coverage, especially when things don’t appear to be getting any easier for so many people. We are living in a time when people think feelings matter more than facts, being reactionary is somehow applauded, and being an elected official is losing its true focus – public service – when it comes to the highest office in the U.S. because of endless tweets and indignities. When your brain already tries to trick you into thinking nothing is going to get better, it just doesn’t help to watch someone light the match to make the world burn. It’s a lot to fight against both internally and externally.

However, I also appreciate a little escapism as much as the next person who can’t believe this is reality and that’s a little bit of what I’ve been providing content-wise here for several years. So, now I’ll let you gentle readers in on another little cloud that prevented me from posting – Miss Peregrine, queen to my herd, made it clear that she had ovarian cysts and had to be spayed; her surgery took place one week ago. I have never lost a pig to surgery and I know that’s unusual because I’ve had about sixteen pigs all together and several have had surgeries. Every time I’ve noticed and researched symptoms that would lead to surgery I’ve seen accounts of people who have lost their pigs that way. I also lost Danger Crumples last January, so January and anesthesia and I are not necessarily on non-terrified terms. Peregrine made it through, I’ve spent a lot of time hand feeding and staring at her and asking her to tell me how she feels to very little interpretable response, and she is doing well now.

Her back feet remain okay. They didn't need to shave her feathery little legs and for that I am grateful.

Her back feet remain okay. They didn’t need to shave her feathery little legs and for that I am grateful.

To bring in a book, as would be tradition, I read Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson two years ago, but it surely will be helpful to people now and in the dim future. One of Lawson’s methods for dealing with depression involves a bit of funny extremism in that she will not strive to be happy, she will strive to be “furiously happy.” My version of that is being able to say “I’m actually a depressed person! I’m not just sad! I sometimes have very little will to live! Spring break!” to people who mention they’re “depressed” when their brain is not currently trying to tell them the world would be better off without them. Not that I do say those exclamations out loud – I’d never use that many exclamation points unironically. For shame, spring break, for shame. Many people are actually just temporarily sad, which is fine, but it’s not the same and should never be equivocated with depression. There are a lot of ways to be temporarily depressed, but they’re not all in need of medication or therapy and it’s not nice to equate things that will definitely alleviate with true depressive symptoms because it does tend to make people who need more significant help feel ye old stigma. Nobody needs that. Everyone’s sadness counts. Everyone’s sadness will not alleviate and you should be happy if yours does. Furiously happy.

A lot of whimsical descriptions of taxidermy appear in Furiously Happy, as does a Republican husband. I wonder about the current status of both of these, and Lawson does have a blog. It’s very popular, which is still not enough to cure depression. And if whimsical taxidermy did, I’d probably still be scared of most of it.

Peregrine eating expensive fruit. That's what queens do.

Peregrine eating expensive fruit. That’s what queens do.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Review

“This week in Ravi is the Best” from Jane Says is one of the things I’m most looking forward to about the show coming back.

29. iZombie I: Dead to the World- Chris Roberson & Michael Allred

30. iZombie II: uVampire- Chris Roberson & Michael Allred

32. iZombie III: Six Feet Under and Rising- Chris Roberson & Michael Allred

33. iZombie IV: Repossession – Chris Roberson & Michael Allred

My issues with the iZombie comics are basically the same issues I have with the depiction of female main characters by male writers occasionally – overly sexualized drawings (Such a comics norm, but, is it really necessary to have so many skin tight outfits in a non-superhero or athletic setting? Must one be aerodynamic to be a zombie? Who is this for? I miss Daria. Tangent.), seeming agency revealed to be influenced mainly by dudes (Daria squint. I really do miss her.), and of course, that female main character must be sacrificed (and she’s nude…because she becomes a Grow Monsters- those are heroic tits I guess) in order to save the world. Gwen seems nice, has some quirks, and barely felt real to me. Why did she like that Horatio guy exactly? Sometimes vampires aren’t necessary. Why does she call Scott “Spot” if he’s really her friend? He didn’t seem to need his self-esteem lowered any further. How many characters do we need in this story? Really, Amon? REALLY? What a dick.

Reading the comics just made me feel like I missed something. I loved Gwen’s Halloween costume in the first issue (Shaun). I like the idea of a were-terrier. I thought Dixie seemed like a pretty cool diner owner and needed some more scenes, maybe a spotlight issue, and after a little research I see the series was ended after 28 issues due to low sales. That makes some of the plot line drops and the wrap up make more sense. I can’t help but wonder if maybe Gwen’s choices weren’t as a result of a dude-issue (whether it’s Amon or Horatio) it might have found a female audience just a bit more solidly. The agency and dude influence issues are definitely something I don’t notice as much when watching the iZombie television show. Also, Liv Moore wears a lab coat a lot of the time. Doesn’t seem to make her less of a zombie or solid heroine. All I can say is, the show better not specifically end with Liv becoming a Grow Monster to eat an alien entity bent on devouring the world. Although if it does, it will just be one more reminder of what women won’t be able to get any credit for after that disaster of an election. If they go that route, maybe she’ll just let the alien eat us. I think we’d be better off…at the least it would be unexpected and it’s not like we’ll get equal pay or recognition before I’m dead anyway.

Now is the time on Guinea Pigs and Books where I brag about how Rose McIver liked the postcard I gave her of this painting. She asked me if she could keep it, which was the sweetest possible thing she could have done. Rose McIver is excellent and very small, not unlike Ozma, the guinea pig playing her in the painting.

Now is the time on Guinea Pigs and Books where I brag about how Rose McIver liked the postcard I gave her of this painting . She asked me if she could keep it, which was the sweetest possible thing she could have done. Rose McIver is excellent and very small, not unlike Ozma, the guinea pig playing her in the painting.

 

Thankfully, the very small Ozma will never have to worry about any of the things I get to worry about or becoming a zombie.

Thankfully, the very small Ozma will never have to worry about any of the things I get to worry about or becoming a zombie.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under art, Review, Writing

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?

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Review, Writing

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Review, Writing

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.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under art, Uncategorized

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Review, Writing

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Books, Review, Writing

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Review, Writing

“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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Dawn of the Interns, Day of the Robots, Night of the Squirrels, Review, Writing