Tag Archives: Danger Crumples

Mr. Rogers is nowhere in sight.

51. The Neighborhood – S.K. Epperson

There’s a bird hoarding nutbar whose brain will turn on him and a lot of other people, a lying doctor whose brother has SMALLPOX, of all the diseases to somehow get, and he’s trying to pass it off as HIV to a nurse he hired out of his hospital, the vocally disabled ex-cop who gardens and totally works out and also makes eyes for the eyeless as a single father, the ex-burglar who is pretty much just a dick – even when he’s shackled in a basement -, and the mentally underdeveloped adult who keeps getting into trouble he really doesn’t deserve. Epperson’s ensemble have generally distinct personalities, different motivations, and her story comes together in an entirely unpleasant for the characters but highly readable way.

I’ve now read three of her books and frankly, I like her stories. I also like how she works in awful things and diseases! By the way, the nurse and the ex-cop get together and since she was with the dude with Smallpox when he died and he was totally breathing in the room…everyone in the neighborhood who isn’t dead will now die of Smallpox. It’s a very stealthy way to have a happy ending that will turn out TERRIBLE. Yay!

All’s well that ends well; Merricat and Danger Crumples know how loaded endings can really be.

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Whiner.

32. The Bachman Books: Road Work – Richard Bachman

When I first read this book I felt very little sympathy for the main character. He seemed like a controlling jerk who can’t cope with change and decides to take it out on everyone else. I still think that’s a big part of who the main character is; he seems to be angry in part because he can’t control how things are changing and has acted like a complete entitled ass about some of it. However, as one ages, one has the possibility of understanding how people get to this point more easily. I imagine if he was a lady he wouldn’t have made the same decisions because he would’ve had more of an idea how stacked against you society can be and maybe not been so extreme in his reactions so as not to “cause a scene.” Of course, then there’s no book. “Woman calmly endures negative change despite many things working against her” is just how things are. Ew.

Danger Crumples faces the future while Ozymandias tries to hide under a stuffed turtle.

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Elephant and Castle

57. Looking for Jake – China Mieville

The first Mieville I ever read was for an epics and fairytales sort of class in college and it always surprises me that the book of his that was chosen (and it was in the early 2000s, so it’s not like there were a ton out to choose from) was the most concise and straightforward book of his I’d read until this short story collection. That book was King Rat, the drum and bass/jungle/house/grime version of the Pied Piper, in a way…and now you know the rest of the story.

Mieville tends to get a bit sprawling, to shove in a lot of ideas about London all at once and it can get overwhelming trying to parse out how every random character is contributing to the story. That tendency gets curbed by the lack of space in a short story. There’s no room for fifty versions of old-timey supernatural gangsters, which was comforting. I’m always intrigued by the Mieville novels I’ve read, then I get lost, then I wonder if it’s just because I’m not UKish that I’m lost, then I try to just go along for the ride because London really is my favorite city on earth and I still know bits of it by heart (but why…WHY…did the Piccadilly Circus HMV have to close? That’s where I got the first Grinderman LP – it’s special. Sister Ray’s better never close, I’ll have to cut someone.), then I regret not really reading that much Lovecraft before I started the book, and then I finish it and wonder what just happened. Thankfully, each story in Looking for Jake cannot cause that kind of journey. Not enough room.

Danger Crumples, getting sleepy from the mental taxation of sitting with me while I read Kraken.

We start in, well, what a shock, bizarro-London with “Looking for Jake,” and a breakdown in reality that involves nasty creatures. It’s what I expect from Mieville, but way reigned in and the situation is never really addressed. It seems to me the reigning is what causes the lack of explaining.

“Foundation” was really horrifying and quite sad; the images that it evokes are not ones I want to revisit.

This image of Danger Crumples, however, I will revisit as long as I have eyes.

“The Ball Room” – This is absolutely my favorite story in the whole collection and frankly, it might have inspired Horrorstor. It’s a bit gleeful in its exploration of the evil children’s ball pit in an Ikea-like store. This is the first time this story appeared in print and I would totally buy it just to have this story (I haven’t yet, as usual, I stumbled upon the existence of this collection while hunting for misshelved books.).

“Familiar” – Another tale I enjoyed quite a bit about what happens after a witch ditches his unliked familiar. It’s like Milo and Otis, without one of them, in London, and if one of them was growing in power and evil plotting abilities the whole time they were gone. So, more like Benji.

Okay, okay, don’t turn on the quizzical glare so hard, Dangey, I will admit I have not seen Benji. But I did run into the cover of Benji many times during the period of my youth when I was scared of dogs, okay? Benji scared me. At the video store.

“Entry Taken from a Medical Encyclopaedia” – Words are powerful. Infectious, even.

“Tis the Season” – Privatizing holidays…it reminded me of this pamphlet I found about the war on Christmas being orchestrated by the Bolsheviks way back in the day up until the current dickcheese took charge of the U.S. Now I think it’s not just dystopian London headed for a stupid situation where only rich people can celebrate Christmas.

“The Tain” – This was at one point published separately, but I always think it’s nice to know that there’s more than one way to get a particular short piece. Especially when it’s about mirror fauna escaping.

Danger Crumples was a master escape artist. Once, I got out of the shower to find him standing in the doorway of the guinea pigs’ room. And, when I moved into my current apartment he stayed one night away from me at the home of another and managed to chew himself out of his temporary laundry basket cage…but didn’t get out of the room. It was a solid attempt to Homeward Bound for a guinea pig.

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“Let’s play a game, it’s called scary noises.”

20. Torments – Lisa W. Cantrell

The sequel to the paperback with one of my all time favorite covers featuring an angry jack o’lantern munching on a bannister – The Manse, Torments really feels like a major re-tread. I haven’t even read The Manse, but there was so much summary information about what happened in it, that I almost feel like I don’t need to. I will eventually, of course, and maybe I’ll get déjà vu.

Anyway, this manse is haunted. So haunted that the land around it is super haunted and the town and the people and the construction site and the new apartment buildings and it’s just got super penetrating haunting powers. I think we all know how this turns out on Halloween and that it requires an elderly black woman to save whatever and whomever can be saved.

Finny’s idea of torment is sitting still for pictures. He never does. He never will. He might end up running a very specifically themed haunted house attraction someday.

 

Happy Halloween! Here are my little trick-or-treaters in Danger Things II, such a sweet little group.

 

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“Don’t stay up thinking of ways to get rid of me, it makes wrinkles. “

17. Usher’s Passing – Robert McCammon

Well, well, well. I was really pleased with the depths that McCammon was able to get to in this one. It was swampy with dread and covered with dust and blood. Sticky. Dusty. Crumbling. It falls into the Southern Gothic pantheon for me but it moved way faster than molasses and both was and wasn’t entirely taken up with the main family, which was quite nice.

I’ve read some McCammon where it felt like the ensemble was getting away from him and a little too much stayed in and that was definitely not the case here. That said, electric blue still made quite the appearance. But of course it did.

A McCammon book without electric blue is like a day without me seeing a picture of Danger Crumples. Not going to happen

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“THE CATSsssssss” seven extra s’s in the blurb preface. Yep. Now I’m scared.

24. The Cats – Nick Sharman

I must begin with a note about the cautiousness of our publishing times, well, 2013 and probably still today. When pitching editors in ye olde New York City about the first book in my Squirrelpocalypse Trilogy, I was told to market it as middle grade instead of YA even though to me it was gory and funny enough to just be aimed at nerdy 30+ year olds who grew up watching Gremlins and Ghostbusters. YA was my genre compromise because it takes place at a boarding high school. The editorial argument was that the premise of a rising plague of person-devouring squirrels was for middle school kids. Far too ridiculous for anyone else. Not entirely. I think maybe it would’ve been more disturbing if I let diseased rodents rip the flesh off of middle schoolers. If I did that I’d have to seriously consider Splatterpunk as my defunct genre of choice and I’ve already got enough “too many dudes in here” genre issues in Horror Comedy. Anyway, all of that happened way before I read my copy of The Cats.

The Cats is about a plague of diseased cats (and one naked middle schooler) trying to kill off London when they get too hot. The cat-madness infection responds to temperature and that poor young boy was feeding them when the a/c broke and got swept up into the highjinks. It was marketed to adults because it’s not silly to let diseased cats try to take over London. Nope. Nick Sharman was published in an age of opportunity for letting small animals rage in print.

Ozymandias and Danger Crumples demonstrate small animals about to rage. Well, sort of, I separated them shortly after this photo. They were fighting about how maybe my writing would’ve been more acceptable in the 80s. Danger thought 90s. That’s what guinea pigs fight about. Literary problems.

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“What’s the creepiest place in town? That’s right. Ross Dress-4-Less.” (Cartman)

10. Women of Darkness – Kathryn Ptacek, ed.

So far, I have to say that all of the anthologies of women writing horror short stories that I’ve read have been really good. Women of Darkness was one that I checked out of the library after reading about it on Too Much Horror Fiction and after I read it, I made sure to find an ex-library copy for myself before I returned it. I really like ex-library copies. Sometimes they’re pretty beat, but, they always have mylar wrapped dust jackets or the paperbacks have been book-taped to hell and back and that’s very satisfying to me. Plus it’s fun to see how many different kinds of “Withdrawn” stamps there are and what classifications have been used. Fun…for me. I know this is not everyone’s idea of a good time.

Merricat’s idea of a good time is posing in front of horror parody paintings of her on a log pillow. I wish she’d been able to pose for more of them, but perfect sassy pigs can’t always stay.

Speaking of things that aren’t everyone’s idea of a good time, the first story in Women of Darkness is “Baby” by Kit Reed and it is creepy as hell. Damn, baby. I really love how Kit Reed is able to make the normal, the stuff we’re told to want, super terrifying. I recently saw a trailer for the horror film Hereditary and I feel like it’s probably going to cover some Kit Reedish territory. Exciting.

“The Spirit Cabinet” – Lisa Tuttle – Another story that I read by Tuttle also dealt with the spiritualist movement and I definitely like this one better – it was scarier and had less mucus. It reminded me of a vastly unsuccessful young adult book I read a while ago- this story mounts the dread and demonstrates a lot of the creeping mystery of ghost stories and buying antique furniture.

Little Merri on some non-haunted antique furniture.

“Mother Calls But I Do Not Answer” – Rachel Cosgrove Payes – The bad side of loneliness and looking for answers in the mirror. The main character reminded me a little bit of Henrietta the goth kid from South Park when she thought she became emo because of invading plant spores and was ever-so-slightly nicer to her mother. Poser.

“The Devil’s Rose” – Tanith Lee – Beware the out of towners. They’re usually not there to rescue you. This story touches on one of my favorite topics – syphilis – and also has a bit of fairytale magic to it. Syphilitic fairytale magic.

Merricat and Peregrine did run off with me when I came to the shelter they were in from out of town, but, thankfully, I was actually there to rescue them. They super needed their nails clipped, I would’ve done that before I left even if I hadn’t adopted them.

“Midnight Madness” – Wendy Webb – Super whispery scary Black Friday-style shopping. It was pretty fun to read a story about shopping that was this chilling. I didn’t think it could be done.

“Aspen Graffiti” – Melanie Tem – A topic just as mundane as shopping – the dissolution of a marriage when the husband suddenly decides he’s got to be younger, cooler, and that wife of his is holding him back… Sometimes the real horrors are pretty familiar. He has an earring and got a younger girlfriend! NOoooo!

Peregrine and Merricat hide from the harmful effects of midlife crises.

“Slide Number Seven” – Sharon Epperson – I know this author better as S.K. Epperson from her book Borderland. It was kind of brutal and that carries through into this story. I love it when women take agency with disease; I really am keen on disease stories – I think because I’m chronically ill. This one is short but packs quite the punch.

“The Unloved” – Melissa Mia Hall – Rachel and Celia, two sisters, on their own, taking in some random manipulative drifter…it goes super well and everyone ends up perfectly happy.

“Cannibal Cats Come Out Tonight” – Nancy Holder – Friends don’t let friends eat their other friends. Until they get stuck in a desert house trying to gain the affections of the same free spirited girl.

Always a true woman of horror, Merricat scares Danger Crumples.

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“Yeah because no offense there’s absolutely no zazz to be found, not here anyway, not in these parts.”

33. 13 Again – A. Finnis, ed.

We have reached the last of the Point Horror 13-based short story collections. This one felt way longer to me, perhaps because there are a bunch of the same authors in the second one and this one and none of the multi-title whizzbang Point authors I’m used to are represented. Not even Diane Hoh. The stories were longer than in the other two collections, they needed a big dose of the old razzle-dazzle and honestly, I got pissed that I was bored. I don’t want to be bored by short stories. For one thing, they’re short so it seems like that shouldn’t happen. For two, most of the time when I dive in to a Horror anthology, I find weird things and gross things and surprising things and zazz. Not so much here. So, with that very inspiring introduction, let’s get on with it.

Ozymandias was the smarter one, so he was always waiting for Danger Crumples to realize that there was less zazz present than necessary.

“Anjelica’s Room” – Laurence Staig – It did have a promising start. A couple arguing about painting, well, never heard that before… I meant that “promising” thing, anyway, a couple who don’t really like each other that much are trying to paint a small cottage and one of the rooms has really ugly brown wallpaper all over the walls. The lying-by-omission male half of the couple leaves the female half and her giant amount of anxiety alone and the room pulls her in and it gets worse from there in a good and gory way. Phew.

“Foxgloves” – Susan Price – This entry was not as interesting as “The Cat-Dogs” from the last collection. It’s hard for me to envision a hetero teenage boy that wouldn’t just follow some ghostly seductive chick into wherever. Especially if he’d just had a bit of a break up with his girlfriend…that’s the most likely time they just wander off the path with ghostly seductive chicks. I mean, geez.

Danger and Ozy basically followed the ladypigs whenever they could. Whenever. It took them forever to calm down around the ladypigs and that’s one more reason I couldn’t suspend my disbelief for “Foxgloves.”

“The Ultimate Assassin” – Malcolm Rose – This just didn’t pack enough punch for me. There’s mild tension, a downer ending, a dog named Chips (I used to know someone named Chips. He was fun but only knew me as “Hey Girl”), and the titular assassin but…it was just okay.

“The Rattan Collar” – Garry Kilworth – Garry with two “r”s has put in some effort here and it’s one of the more interesting stories in the collection. Is the potbellied pig evil? Do I just like this better because there’s some kind of pig in it? The answer to both is no, but, you haven’t read this yet. Uh oh, spoilers.

“Boomerang” – David Belbin – In 1995, this story was prophetic. It seemed so wrong that anyone would go to college, get a solid degree with good marks, and then fail miserably at getting a job and have to move back in with their parents. In the U.S. though, only five years later, it would start getting next to impossible not to become a boomerang. And some of those graduates didn’t try to murder their parents- a tradition that lives on to this day.

Danger and Ozy never tried to murder me while we lived in my mom’s attic. They did order me out of my own bedroom while they were exploring though. It was very insulting, but also funny.

“The Delinquent” – Maresa Morgan – In my current job I am sometimes looked at as though I have just walked in from juvie and am smoking in the corner. I’m not a fan of it and this is the only place I’ve been looked at that way so consistently, but at least I know I’m not as awful as the delinquent in this story. She gets what she deserves; I know I deserve to be recognized for who I actually am, not just the differences between me and the rest of the office. I’m quite good at what I do and have the personalized messages from patrons to prove it.

“The Ghost Trap” – Lisa Tuttle – The girl in this story goes to a haunted house she heard of because of a story. The author of the story is totally living in the house and using some Scooby Doo methods to entrap victims. I have to say, if anyone came to my house (which is not haunted) specifically because of my work I still wouldn’t answer the door because that’s intimidating and it’s possible to see me in public and accost me that way instead. Or don’t accost me. It’s better if no one gets accosted. I’m usually selling something or hunting books down if you see me in public, feel free to distract me, I promise I won’t murder you or pull off my mask to reveal that I own the old boarded up amusement park.

“Close Cut” – Philip Gross – Uh oh, we have a situation here that involves World War II and slivovic. World War II angst and the question of what one is to do when one finds a Nazi (a real, time appropriate one, not just the insecure emulating jackasses from the now time) living near them.

“Grandma” – Colin Greenland – I know that it can be very complicated trying to assist the elderly, especially if they have memory issues or habitually set things on fire. If this household just had some decent books, I bet everybody would’ve gotten along much better and maybe Grandma wouldn’t have minded being locked in her room so much. What am I saying? There’s no way that keeps anyone with any of their faculties remotely happy. But books would help.

Ozy and Danger certainly liked their excursions outside their houses. They wanted to explore and be finicky and demanding and super cute and their grandma totally let them.

“Vampire in Venice” – John Gordon – Here we are in Venice again. Ah, Venice. A place where British girls can argue about who is more attractive and/or stupid to be mooning over vampires. Hint – your friendship isn’t strong if the one the vampire likes more chooses you as her first meal.

“Picking Up the Tab” – Stan Nicholls – Money horror. This just doesn’t have that much impact after you’ve been through the nonsensical labyrinth of trying to afford what you need without making enough and that’s kind of the norm for my generation. Being messed with monetarily is never a surprise. Being valued and paid accordingly is.

“Evidence of Angels” – Graham Masterton – Here he goes again with the sentimental and not particularly horrific. It’s a bit familiar here, after all, having an annoying baby brother named Toby is familiar to everyone who saw Labyrinth. The unfortunate aspect here is that angels do not resemble David Bowie. Believers have nothing to look forward to.

In lieu of David Bowie, I’ll accept Danger Crumples and Ozymandias leading me to an eternal rest in Pighalla, which I made up but also happens to be where I belong after death.

“Hospital Trust” – Dennis Hamley – Again, what happens in this story is kind of normal now in the United States. A doctor that several patients haven’t liked (in the U.S. this part would be played by the insurance company, the ones who get to determine how much care you really get) sending them somewhere they shouldn’t be for substandard care and/or murder. Healthcare really is a right and not a privilege. It’s ridiculous to think otherwise.

Mixtape:
1. “Mud” – Legendary Shack Shakers
2. “Beautiful Gardens” – The Cramps
3. “Phantom of the Motorway” – The Mangled Dead
4. “Comanche Moon” – The Black Angels
5. “Several Sins” – The Birthday Party
6. “Let Me” – Widowspeak
7. “Garbage City” – Hanni El Khatib
8. “Feet Don’t Fail Me” – Queens of the Stone Age
9. “We’ve Seen the Blood” – The Mangled Dead
10. “Rats in Paradise” – The Birthday Party
11. “Kill!” – Raveonettes
12. “Flesh without Blood” – Grimes
13. “The Number of the Beast” – Electric Six
14. “At the Barn” – Wolfmen of Mars
15. “Be Free” – King Dude & Chelsea Wolfe
16. “Cut Me Loose” – UNKLE

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“Oh, why don’t you go find a wall socket and stick your tongue in it. That’ll give you a charge.”

31. Secret Santa – D.E. Athkins

At last Deathkins has found the secret to dealing with her whim to have too many characters – trap them on an island! It totally makes sense for high school kids to be jet setting away to a private island during the holiday break! They don’t need to see their families, they need to please Djuna because she’s popular (kind of) and smokes in the bathroom and invited people who used to be couples, are currently couples, and the new kid…and because her family owns an island but doesn’t supervise their daughter. They let the “help” do that.

Of course, like all decent Santa-based games involving deception, there’s kidnapping and teenage insult marathons. Look, Neal, nobody likes you. You were a crappy boyfriend and you’re a crappy houseguest too- in the hole with you! Now let’s all watch the tide come in.

Horace, Pere, Merri, and Danger are not up for teenager games in the winter beyond musical blankets.

Mixtape:

1. “akva” – Kauan
2. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” – Pilgrim Travelers
3. “Christmas Morning Blues” – Victoria Spivey
4. “Papa Barrence’s Christmas” – Barrence Whitfield & the Savages
5. “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” – Electric Six
6. “Dark Christmas” – Dex Romweber Duo
7. “I Slept Through Christmas” – Ruby Boots
8. “Christmas Time for My Penis” – The Vandals
9. “Christmas Time Blues” – Trainwreck Riders
10. “Christmas Time Will Soon Be Over” – Fiddlin’ John Carson
11. “Christmas Blues” – Ralph Willis
12. “Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis” – Tom Waits
13. “Christmas in Oblivion” – The Yawpers
14. “The Wrong Way to Celebrate Christmas” – Rev. Edward W. Clayborn
15. “nila” – Kauan
16. “Happy New Year Blues” – Blind Lemon Jefferson

Present that’s not really a present number three – House of the Merricat.

Merricat would’ve intimidated Tom Noonan out of trying to impregnate her with the antichrist. She was the kind of pig that could do that. She’s also the kind of pig that looks awesome on a throw pillow.

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Mostly pictures of my pigs trying not to be in pictures with art I’m bringing to SUPERCON…

Have I mentioned that I’m going to be at SUPERCON? A few times? Well, here’s one more mention featuring works I’m actually bringing with me (unless something terrible and luggage related happens, then I’ll basically just have posters and postcards and two paintings):

First off, we have Pere-Barb, from my set of Stranger Things parodies, Danger Things. Peregrine does not want to be seen with Pere-Barb, I guess she doesn’t like her jacket.

 

Salem, like most guinea pigs, does not want to look at me the same way he looks in the painting. He’s following in the footsteps of greatness by being uncooperative. Also, for some reason this is hard to find on Threadless, so here’s a link. Real Guineas.

 

Brand new – Herdin’ 2 Electric Pigaloo, just in time if you need inspiration to save a community center of your very own! Ozma is running away from the responsibility. Running away – to Paris. Always go to Paris.

 

Pere is proud enough of her criminal empire to be photographed with the posters that you can ONLY get from me in person. Only. I’ll have them in my jacket.

 

And finally, these are most of the blind paintings that I will have. Now there are way more guinea pigs than skulls! (I do love skulls, there will be more skulls.) They are wrapped up and I have no idea which one is which because I was not in the room while they were wrapped. Each one is $5 and based on a Nancy Drew end paper. They’re literary. Like me and possibly you.

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