Tag Archives: Danger Crumples

“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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“Look, it’s just a little inconvenient. …it’s just a little blood. It’ll wash out.”

33. Road to Nowhere – Christopher Pike

Rule of the road number one – If the people who want to pick you up when you’re running away from home are named something even remotely close to “Poppy Corn” or “Freedom Jack,” don’t get in the freaking car. Really, rule number one should be “Don’t get in the car.” Pike certainly does have a way with names, but of course, so do I. This is the first book of his that inspired me to parody him with Danger Crumples in the roles of author and cover model (and if there was any text to go with my painting, subject). I love a road trip story and this is certainly a trippy one…Poppy Corn. Really. I don’t think I’d want to spend my runaway time with Poppy Corn. Or Freedom Jack. Usually the dudes that are focused so hard on their “freedom” are total jerks. Teresa the main character should’ve thought of that.

Danger Crumples never wanted to run away, so he didn’t have to worry about the rules of the road, he did know how to call shotgun though, it was impressive once I figured out what he meant by that particular whistle.

Mixtape:

1. “Chrome and Hot Leather” – Brass Hearse
2. “Adrenochrome” – Sisters of Mercy
3. “Dead Love (So Still)” – Widowspeak
4. “Drawing Down the Moon” – Blood Ceremony
5. “Bwamba’s Rambles” – Zydepunks
6. “Road to Nowhere” – Talking Heads
7. “How Dare You” – Electric Six
8. “Mjod (BBC Sessions 2010)” – Kvelertak
9. “Doomsday” – Kasabian
10. “Good View of the Violence” – Electric Six
11. “The Friend Catcher” – Birthday Party
12. “Wild Witch”- Restavrant
13. “Dead End Justice” – Runaways
14. “Come & See” – Protomartyr

 

Art Intrusion #199:

Here he is…road tripping to an unspecified location. The painting itself has sold…but it is available on stuff and things including metal prints on my Redbubble page.

 

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“Doritos, No Doz, bennies, crystal meth.”

25. Thirteen – T. Pines, ed.

While we wait for climate change enhanced hurricanes or nukes to kill us all, I’m keeping in theme with short stories – for the summer! It’s YA Megamix Summer V: The Revenge, now featuring short story collections and a lot more art promos because I’m taking to the other states this summer and bringing my guinea pig art and generally melancholic demeanor to SUPERCON in Fort Lauderdale, July 12-15th and the Geekcraft Expo St. Louis July 28-29. If you want to come tell me how little you enjoy my longer posts in person, be sure to buy a postcard or threeve while you’re at it. Yay!

So, Point Horror, best imprint ever, did three short story collections of thirteen stories each and the first one is called Thirteen…yep. It features such Point luminaries as Lael Littke, D.E. Athkins (to me, it will always be Deathkins), A. Bates, and, um, some dude who wrote about a painting called Jay Bennett. Yes, Jay, paintings can be terrifying but the process of painting is the true source of horror.

We begin with the first in a set of bookend stories by Christopher Pike which may be the best work of his I’ve read. It weirds me out when short stories are better than novels; even though it shouldn’t *cough* Stephen King. In this case, it might have to do with the phone being involved so much. I’m very nostalgic for a time when we didn’t have the ability to constantly get a hold of each other and I like handset and answering machine-based intrigue. Yes, I’ve seen Bells, apparently known in the U.S. as Murder by Phone, a way too obvious title. I think there could’ve been a happy medium between “Bells” which says nothing and “Murder by Phone” which says too much.

Pike did a great job of making the annoying girls competing over some greaser-dressing new dude with his own mixtape both fun and really bitchy, so I was all for “Collect Call.”

Most of Christopher Pike’s novels don’t make “the sense,” at least, they’re just as sound in my Danger parodies as they are in book form. Danger might even be a bit more serious. Here he is with Horace at a rollicking party for two on my couch. They’re both pretty serious about partying and my couch.

The second story in the collection is by author of Prom Dress, The Watcher, and like nothing else, Lael Littke. “Lucinda” involves a sunken town, some graduation day regrets, and a love triangle. It was decent and a little murky.

“The Guiccioli Miniature” by the aforementioned Jay Bennett reminded me a lot of the movie version of Don’t Look Now. It’s set in Venice and involves some weird dude accosting the main character on the street, so that might be why. It is an extremely short entry, and was just, well, not very much in the usual vein of Point Horror, also like Don’t Look Now. I didn’t manage to get mad about the mention of painting theft, which tells you a lot about how engaging this was. As a painter, if someone stole any of my paintings, I’d consult some psychic sisters staying nearby, put on a red hooded coat, and stalk through all those canals until I got it back…

Horace and Danger Crumples are in quite a few of my paintings, so they fully support me going Don’t Look Now on hypothetical painting thieves.

“Blood Kiss” – Deathkins! – Well, sometimes people give vampires bad names. This one’s name is Ken. This story was fun and I know Deathkins could’ve done better than to name a vampire Ken. The immortal Ken. Yeesh.

“A Little Taste of Death” – Patricia Windsor – Bizarre little tale about a bad girl staying with her grandmother. When I stayed with my grandmother during many summers, I did not take candy that would seal my fate from strangers. Granted, on a farm the strangers are mostly cows, so it was easy to accomplish this. We also played the Dastardly and Muttley in their Flying Machines game. And Smess.

“The Doll” – Carol Ellis – Little hands killing people in your dreams…that’s exactly what I’d expect if a doll just randomly showed up in my house. Especially one of those porcelain numbers with the blank facial expressions. Give me Ginny with her gorgeous pout or give me her pony! Or death, I think that’s how that was supposed to go, but I love my Ginny pony and now my secret is out. It’s really cute.

“House of Horrors” – J.B. Stamper – Sometimes it’s not a bad thing to not have friends at work. Especially if your “friends” are really just locking you in a horror house overnight to be dicks. If your making friends story seems like it might have any chance of ending with “and they were never seen again after hanging out with wax figures,” avoid that. Friends who just want to scare you are not real friends, they’re insecure jackasses.

Horace and Danger, real friends to the end.

“Where the Deer Are” – Caroline B. Cooney – A trippy kind of subdivision horror.

“The Spell” – R.L. Stine – “I hypnotized all three of you that day at the Pizza Palace.” NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

“Dedicated to the One I Love” – Diane Hoh – Another thing that used to cause so much heart fluttering – having a song dedicated to you on the radio. While your friends were totally listening. So they knew. And then like, the whole school would know. Because everyone who was anyone listened to certain shows on the radio. But like with anything that can cause heart fluttering or public humiliation, watch out for when the dead start doing it.

“Hacker” – Sinclair Smith – Sometimes I feel like Sinclair Smith is a bit of a hack, so, I wasn’t surprised by anything in this story other than the ingenious use of plants. My problem is that once the villain is found out, they tend to get really loud and crazy, like they’ were holding back until this teenager found them and they have no clue about being arrested or not admitting how obvious your evil plan was even though you were all covert and smart throughout the rest of the story… The typing in all caps is really the kicker here, though. Quit yelling at everyone. Quit.

Danger and Horace make ingenious use of the back of my couch. They never type in all caps. There is no preferred typing scheme for whistles, wheeks, rumbly purring, and little chuckles.

“Deathflash” – A. Bates – I like A. Bates. I feel like when I’m reading an A. Bates story, some level of control is being exercised over the concept. Even in this weirdo entry about an amorphous thing. I’m glad the main character was concerned for the cats, and it is unfortunately realistic to name them “Sunshine” and “Sparkle.” My guinea pigs are lucky my disposition is not so light. Danger Crumples totally would’ve ended up being “Star Beast.”

“They Boy Next Door” – Ellen Emerson White – This was a pretty kickass story and I liked it a lot. I’ve been around the kind of guy who thinks taking out their insecurities on you is a good idea and as I told one of them, “Don’t powertrip at me, I’m not going to do anything you tell me to and you chose the wrong lady to be insecure at.” It did not go over well, but then again it didn’t go over well to me when he tried to tell me I’m supposed to tell him when I’m going to desensitize a book. Not even, son. I will do what I have to when I need to. Don’t take your shit out on other people. Especially women.

And the other bookend, “Collect Call II: The Black Walker” (slash missed opportunity for a way better subtitle). Quit trying to get girls to tell you you’re such a great musician! Let them come to you and tell you. If you’re good, they will. I never directly lie about what I think about someone’s music. If I don’t like it, I’ll say it’s interesting and not explain why. I had to do that once when a song without words or anything resembling musical form was played for me by my drunk boyfriend and he told me it was “for me.” I wish that hadn’t been for me. But I said it was “interesting” because it was interesting to me that he would make something “for me” that involved nothing about music I actually enjoyed. I should’ve taken it as a bigger omen.

Mixtape:

1. “The Otherworld” – All of Them Witches
2. “Feel Good Hit of the Summer” – Queens of the Stone Age
3. “Tales of Mystery & Isolation” – Wolfmen of Mars
4. “Electric” – Boris
5. “Diabolos ’88” – Samhain
6. “Ghosts of Victims Past” – Terrortron
7. “You Don’t Own Me” – Lesley Gore
8. “Wind up Toys” – Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats
9. “Destruction Makes the World Burn Brighter” – Chelsea Wolfe
10. “Holy Christos” – King Dude
11. “Hamlet Pow Pow Pow” – The Birthday Party
12. “Age of Oil & Wax” – Live Skull
13. “Kiva” – Burning Tapes
14. “Dance with Dark Forces” – Electric Six
15. “Killer in the Streets” – The Raveonettes
16. “The Trouble with Being Born” – The Great Tyrant
17. “All Murder, All Guts, All Fun” – Samhain

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“Mayberry meets Deliverance”

72. The Two-Bear Mambo – Joe R. Lansdale

Florida is missing and Hap and Leonard have to go deep into racist-ville to figure out what the hell happened to her. Dealing with super racist southern towns (even in Texas, which is, of course, its own very special place) seems quite apropos in the current decade… It’s weird to know that racism still affects so much of how the country is run. It’s damn depressing and I don’t even know the half of it. Lansdale always deals with “the way things are” in these areas with frankness and I’ve always appreciated Leonard’s take on things I never had reason to contemplate within the corners of the world I’ve occupied.

I can easily agree with the other characters that the way Leonard destroys the crack house in this one is definitely “the best one yet”  though- that’s for sure. A shiny spectacle for Christmas if ever there was one involving a crack house. Plus there’s a seriously dark and rotten scene dealing with an exhumation and a full on flood in here. This very dark entry in the Hap and Leonard series is dealt with in the third season of the Sundance network show and I’m definitely a fan.  The first episode of this season gave me the impression that they’re definitely playing up some of the caustic humor and that’s important when everything gets as dire as it does in this book, but they still don’t stay away from that Leonard Pine-frankness (or the Christmas ants, even though I’m undermining my own point there) that makes it not a dodge or minimized. It may be material from the 1990s, but it’s always going to be timely as long as the bullshit that is the KKK keeps being an existing thing instead of just a terribly stupid and horrific part of history.

This season was just amazing even if I didn’t especially like the ending’s changes from the book. This show definitely hits the spot that Justified left open for crime and cleverness, and I sincerely hope they continue to have seasons. All the seasons.

Ozymandias and Danger Crumples are my little mystery solving duo. One southern pig and one northern pig, trying to solve mysteries from their tiny little world. Hopefully they will also learn the dance for “Double Dutch Bus” like those dudes in Leonard’s living room on the show.

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Mysteries for Mother’s Day

It can be said that a lot of my art work and commentary on this blog involves setting up Danger Crumples to solve mysteries. The inspiration for all of that mystery concern – my mother. I grew up in a home full of books that is currently slightly more full of books and the shelves I stared at the most were filled with Joe R. Lansdale and Elmore Leonard and Agatha Christie mysteries with pretty excellent and confusing titles. In third grade I got way into The Happy Hollisters, a series about a family where the kids are consistently running around solving mysteries, including one spectacular “whistle pig” mystery. In fourth grade I graduated to Nancy Drew and she has proved to be quite the inspiration for my art and picture captioning ever-since.

So to honor my mother and her never-ending support of my art and writing and guinea pig lifestyle, I’m letting everyone in on the works that her love of mysteries and books and Danger Crumples in particular inspired. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

This is the first print I managed using my current method after several years out of college, it is inspired by the cover of The Hidden Staircase. Danger and his flashlight have been evolving ever since.

 

This year I finally started a parody project that I’ve been contemplating for ages and ages and ages – Danger Drew Mysteries. The first work I did for the series was a parody of one of my favorite Nancy images, the end papers of one particular edition of the series. As soon as I finished this painting, I realized that it was for my mother, even though I had a different one planned for her.

Danger Drew spying on a very suspicious digging Finny. If you don’t recognize this design, you had new Nancy.

And of course, the next step was to parody the most inspiring cover ever put on a Nancy Drew book (including that weird one with the manta ray-looking ghost or whatever it’s supposed to be that I haven’t quite figured out how I want to parody yet)… The Hidden Staircase.

Of course in my artistic universe, we cannot parody without changing the title to fit the guinea pig essence of what I do, and Danger Crumples’ name is just so adaptable. Therefore I give you number 9 in the series: The Crumpled Staircase.

One aspect of these paintings that is not visible in the scan is that I’ve painted all the edges so that the canvas looks like a very, very realistic book. So realistic. It is not hard to paint tiny letters and images on the edges of canvas at all. Nope. Nothing but perfection from me. Anyway…there’s a spine, there’s a textblock, there are Hansa yellow borders, there’s a little Danger with a magnifying glass silhouette and it gave me my second favorite way to sign my work visibly besides having a gravestone, signing as the author. I am an author, so, it’s a funny on the many levels. Many!

When I first thought of the idea to make my Nancy Drew parodies look more like real books, I got a very strong reaction from another mother, the one who graciously does a lot of the photoshop help that I desperately need when my paintings are too big to scan in one go, and so I did number 19 in the series for her. Happy Mother’s Day to her as well!

The Clue in a Broken Basket is my approximation of the time she took care of Danger while I was moving and he broke out of his temporary laundry basket housing and had to be wrangled. I know he was trying to do his own version of Homeward Bound but he ended up under a futon – he just looks so triumphant though.

 

I do love end papers when the time is taken to put some effort into them and the Nancy Drew series has had several iterations that are pretty lovely. My favorite being the larger image above, which originally is Nancy watching some suspicious farmer digging, but the other end papers I particularly love feature line drawing versions of covers. I’ve done a couple of these, but the only one that I’m currently putting up is the first one, a version of The Spider Sapphire Mystery that I have since realized totally does not have a spider in it. I don’t know what kind of bug that really is, but it is not a spider.

Danger’s confused about what kind of bug that is too.

The latest of the cover parody paintings I’ve finished was heavily influenced by my main take-away from the Nancy Drew mystery stories – that she has a charge plate. For quite some time I had no idea what that was. She has a pudgy friend, her dad’s a lawyer, and she uses a charge plate a lot.

Maybe the charge plate won’t help this time, Danger. The best thing about that whole charge plate confusion – it’s an older version of a credit card – MY MOM GOT ME ONE! So, I can also solve mysteries using a charge plate. Mine has an alizarine crimson case, and is depicted in this painting.

Mystery of the Crumpled Swamp is the only (currently) Danger Drew painting that will make its way into the wild. It will be visible and available for purchase in all its booky glory at Supercon in Fort Lauderdale, July 12-15th, so start planning now. Now. I certainly need to do more of the planning as that’s the first time I’m taking Guinea Pigs and Books somewhere I can’t easily drive to. Paintings on a plane – it’s a recipe for massive anxiety. More of the line drawings like the “Spider Sapphire” Danger Crumples will be available as blind paintings, too, so, you can try and find the guinea pig ones. I won’t tell you which are which. And check out this exhibitor directory – I’m totally in there.

Of course, I know lots of guinea pig people can’t follow my gallivanting all over the Midwest and now South, so all the paintings I’ve put up are on my Redbubble so that you can find them on stuff and things. I’ve also linked to their individual pages in weird ways in the image captions.

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

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Loners in groups.

35. The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion – Margaret Killjoy

Vengeance demon! Fun! This was a strangely stiff bit of punk fantasy. There were a lot of conversations that slowed the narrative, even though it’s extremely short. I was originally interested because of a description I found that mentioned the book was quite weird and set in my home state. Being in Iowa doesn’t have anything important to do with the story as far as I can tell now, having read the whole thing. Fine.

I did quite like the onset of the weirdness and the vengeance demon was quite cool. The characters were interesting, some of them fit stereotypes of people who want to tell you about how great communal lifestyles are…like the Manson Family… You know, like, everything should be free – this is both a stereotype and something I’ve mainly heard from rich people who have rejected being rich, except for the, like, money from their parents part. They don’t really want to “live like common people do.” Thankfully, there were also characters with a little more dimension, although a couple of them never appeared in the story while alive. And the story took place right at a point of conflict in the town that revolved around how irritating it is to actually work together and have leaders and how an entire community’s priorities rarely line up smoothly. Overall, I give it the bread with jelly on it scratch n’ sniff sticker- “Grape Stuff.” I might also be tempted to stick the individual roller skate one on the side so that the edge is hanging off – “Keep Rollin’,” as this is a series and I will certainly read book two. Does anyone really know what that skate was supposed to smell like?

Danger Crumples, seen hoarding the resources of Ozymandias. Guinea pigs are technically social animals, but they totally let the hierarchy get in the way. All the time. Herd politics. They get that weird sticker that’s an incredibly realistic pickle and just says “GOOD WORK” in the semi-blandest of fonts, which signals they’re shit at working together beyond begging for treats within ten minutes of having finished their previous treats.

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