Tag Archives: Pickles

Holding cells are where the Halloween magic really happens.

35. Amy – Samantha Lee

British book about US Halloween, excuse me, the States’ Hallowe’en, bring on the yokel language and stuff that doesn’t happen! Follow that up with words we don’t use and more hick language, add one ghost, and you have Amy. It’s short. And kinda sad. For every biscuit (cookies are a bad idea to give out for trick or treat, they crumble and nobody said they were little packs of Oreos when they were walking around carrying cookies in their sheet-based outfits) and holdall that don’t work, there’s a “Land sakes!” that made me laugh. Also, like every imaginary small town story, there’s just one big area for the holding cells that need to, um, hold, the biker who comes through town to solve mysteries, the town drunk, and not the perpetrators of evil dressed as vampires – twin teen boys… or the person who really is responsible for the drowned ghost running around in a sheet full of cookie crumbs.

Pickles would’ve been all right if they gave out cilantro on Halloween, but no one does that either.

Mixtape:

1. Lone – Chelsea Wolfe
2. All Hallows’ Eve – The Heartwood Institute
3. Pursuit – All of Them Witches
4. Hear the Sirens Scream – Electric Wizard
5. We’ve Seen the Blood – The Mangled Dead
6. Bride of the Devil – Electric Six
7. Revenged – Repeated Viewing
8. A Face in the Fog – Joel Grind
9. Blue Harvest – All of Them Witches
10. Get Out – Wojciech Golczewski
11. Walkin’ on the Sidewalks – Queens of the Stone Age
12. Hexagram – Graham Reznick
13. Diablerie – Windhand
14. All Hallows’ (Epilogue) – Ogre & Dallas Campbell
15. Two Spirit – Chelsea Wolfe

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Important tip: Leaving broken cups in the family mausoleum may remind your relatives that they’re dead if they get up.

23. The Elementals – Michael McDowell

Have I ever mentioned on here that I hate sand? I really, really hate sand. I was unaware that this Southern Gothic brilliance was going to involve so much sand and that made it extra scary for me. However, I also have to say the fact that it got off and running from the start also helped. Weirdo southern family tradition stories are always of interest to me in the same way that British manor family dramas are not, which is weird because both types of stories involve secrets that the servants are aware of and totally not telling and stiff silence in place of helpful information. Oh, that family trauma’s going to show up whether you tell them or not. At least in The Elementals, Odessa eventually came around and did explain the whole “let’s stab people at their funeral” thing early on to thirteen year old India, the My Cousin Rachel of the story except for the whole liberated sex thing (Thankfully! I kept waiting for her and her father’s really close relationship to get blatantly incesty and…so happy that wasn’t a thing. They live in New York City. Far away from their family. He takes photos of her all the time. I blame recent television hit Game of Thrones and way too many recently read books where the incest was a total surprise inclusion for making me worry about this.) and the inheritance thing and the possible poisoner thing.

So there are two families, and they both have Victorian summer houses on a little area at the bottom of Alabama called Beldame where they’re going to hang out after the funeral of the mean matriarch of the Savages dies. Side note, the area they’re going to was amazingly easy for me to picture because the nearest town was Gulf Shores, a place I’ve been several times. They don’t really describe it as more than having a laundromat, but, I can tell you it was quite pleasant in the 1990s for Easter. And the new family patriarch of the Savages is Dauphin, which happens to be the name of an island that’s also nearby. When I was there I was not as troubled by sand as I am now. Anyway, there’s a third house and no one lives in it. No one LIVES in it. And those things in there, creating bodies out of sand and making sure it gets into every possible crevice and nook and cranny and other small places, those are not ghosts. They’re a whole different kind of spirit.

Fun fact: There’s a parrot in this book named Nails. Excellent name.

Murderface will not tell the southern guinea pig family secrets. Pickles might though, if you offer her the right produce, like, any produce.

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Cremulator

30. From Here to Eternity – Caitlin Doughty

This one time, in the Houston airport (IAH), I realized that I did not have enough to read to get through all of the layovers and plane rides I was taking that day. I also realize that people with Kindles and Kindle apps do not have this problem. Paper is my jam, as the not-kids say, though, and I usually use plane rides as an excuse to try reading REALLY tiny print mass market paperbacks that I have trouble with otherwise. I found From Here to Eternity and was really surprised that I wasn’t going to have to give up and read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. Death book! Yay! Oh, and this time, I scared one of the flight staff people with my reading choice – she asked and I minimized what it was about with “Death” (there is a skull on the cover, a super cool Art Deco-looking skull) – this book isn’t scary, but, apparently being interested in death is uncomfortable for others on planes; just like being interested in reading about VD. Whatever.

From Here to Eternity introduced me to a couple of new deathy things I hadn’t heard of before and was really inspiring in a lot of ways. I find that reading about others’ rituals and ideas about ritualizing death and dealing with bodies makes me feel less intimidated by the whole idea. I’m not really an avoidant person anyway, but, it’s a very nice read and made me want to turn the altar for my guinea pigs into a version of the Buddhist death disco type memorial Doughty visited.

One extremely important portion (to me, anyway) of the book discussed a research project about completely composting bodies. I think that research will become very, very useful in the future and really it’s useful now. There’s a lack of space in so many places and composting is even more environmentally sound than cremation. During Doughty’s time there, they were very close to complete obliteration of the person. So, murderers, pay no attention.

Pickles would’ve picked The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck and realized she didn’t need to read it. She had that down.

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Happy “Spirit Journey Formation Anniversary” and “Deathday” to a LOT of people! Second most had birthday! Fall break!

41. Private Demons: The Life of Shirley Jackson – Judy Oppenheimer

The “private demons” of the title turned out to be more along the lines of “communal” demons to me. I related quite heavily to a lot of what’s presented in a pretty novelesque fashion in this biography. And that’s both good and bad. Referring to oneself as “gratuitously difficult” is definitely something I understand wholeheartedly. I also understand trying to save or fix yourself through writing; dating someone who legitimately believes in you but also can’t stop trying to be the center of attention; moving to a new place and having some people make it a point to make sure you never forget you’re not one of them (Outlander! I’m only from one effing state away.); and collecting objects other people find morbid. Bones! Usually not human! I don’t think any of the ones I have are human! Many are fake! Anyway, I’ve always seen myself and what I could become reflected in Shirley Jackson’s work – particularly We Have Always Lived in the Castle’s Merricat (if I was left completely alone it would probably take about a week for me to start ritualizing, just replace Jonah the cat with my pigs, I do not keep sugar on hand though, just for reference).

It really shouldn’t have surprised me that I’d relate to her. I guess I just didn’t expect her to be so utterly relatable. After all, she actually had a career that involved writing as her main occupation, and she had children, and I hadn’t realized that I totally have depression when I first read this. I have not been able to get near the level of writing career I want (not unlike most writers), and I also have yet to become addicted to barbiturates. I am pretty into Lemonheads though. Not making light of addiction, just relating to the fact that Shirley Jackson was also heavily into candy. So, for me, this was essential reading because it’s yet another example of how I’m not entirely delusional about who I’ve always thought I am and how hard I keep trying to do the work that means something to me. Some people aren’t easy and don’t have it easy, it’s a thing; it’s not just me – or you, or anyone who doesn’t give up just because someone else wants them to be nicer.

Apparently there’s a newer Shirley Jackson biography. Swell. We’ll see if I still find myself in that one, it supposedly has a lot of information gleaned from previously unpublished sources and maybe won’t be quite as novely as Private Demons. I hope I do.

Murderface and Pickles. Ladies of ritual and discerning taste I also admire.

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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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He’s most dangerous when he’s being pleasant.

29. 13 More Tales of Horror – A. Finnis, ed.

And so we shall commence the unholy terror that is the “Christmas in July” theme month. For the rest of this month, the YA horror will be set at Christmas and the mixtapes will be somewhat lackluster because I’m not really a fan of Christmas music. I tried. I really did. And I filled in some large gaps with Kauna’s deeply gloomy metal opus treatment of the Dyatlov Pass incident. Holiday spirit!

There are also sort of presents. Sort of in that they do not become presents unless you buy them and they are only available online. I am way more like Krampus than Santa, I do like hooves and horns and subversion. And if you want “presents” from me in person this year, come to SUPERCON July 12-15 in Fort Lauderdale and Geekcraft Expo St. Louis July 28&29. I won’t have my horns on, my hooves will be hidden, and I probably won’t bring my switch, so it’s painless every way but monetarily.

Present Number One – A very specific sale! Smashwords is having their 2018 Summer/Winter Sale (Hemispheres) and I have discounted the entire Squirrelpocalypse Trilogy by 25% !!! !!! !!! So, if you have been tempted to read my ridiculous trilogy of lab experiments, gore, and friendship, now would be a good time to get it. Take advantage until July 31!

covers-touching.jpg

I mean, just imagine this on your virtual bookshelf for a total of $8.97. …$8.97? What have I done? Get It Here

We begin with a non-Christmas themed book, the second of the Point Horror short story collections, 13 More Tales of Horror, and the mixtape just includes one Christmasy thing – a song/sermon from the Reverend A.W. Nix from the “Death May Be Your Gift” Christmas compilation. Cheery!

“The Cat-Dogs” – Susan Price – So the font that they used for the title pages for each story is straight out of Scooby Doo. Thankfully many of the stories are a bit less predictable than the average Scooby episode. “The Cat-Dogs” is one way to learn the lesson of not bringing home any stray animals you find – especially not if you find them in a bag in the forest. Bringing them home just gives them a better chance to eat you and all your relatives. There was a particularly nice scene in the forest at night in this one. Disorienting.

“The Piano” – Diane Hoh – This is one seriously manipulative haunted piano.

“The Devil’s Footprints” – Malcolm Rose – This story was very weird and refreshing for me as an allergic asthmatic who has had many people say “I don’t smell anything” and “It’s fine” when my canary senses are firing on all cylinders telling me to run from the bad air. A Halloween party, a devil, a house computer named Brian that keeps warning the occupants only they don’t listen…it’s another metaphor for climate change that some people don’t want to listen to because they aren’t personally effected by it. Yet. I’m excited to see the hoof prints leading away from their house someday.

Murderface and Pickles would’ve listened to Brian the house computer.

“Softies” – Stan Nicholls – An interesting concept, but a bit smashed into the short story format. I could easily see this expanded with one of those “stuffed animal with a bloody knife” horror paperback covers. Would’ve been cool. As it is, it didn’t invoke my consistent childhood nightmare that my toys would get mad at me. Thanks a lot, Child’s Play TV trailer, they were all I had.

“The House That Jack Built” – Garry Kilworth – It is really hard to know what to do when you’re stuck by the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. If you’re in the wrong place, you’ll end up as an evil talking house’s manservant.

“The Station With No Name” – Colin Greenland – One thing I haven’t mentioned is that this collection is very UK-specific. I’m used to my Point Horror being very U.S.-oriented because the U.S. is a major source for teenager-based horror in fiction and real life. But I did get my MA in England and London happens to be my favorite city on earth, so it wasn’t too hard for me to get into these. This story involved the UK version of tagging and a station that hadn’t been open since WWII…because it’s super haunted. “The bombers got the line.”

Murderface wonders about these children who can’t stop spray painting their own first name onto things. If it was her name or Pickles’ name she’d get it because those are cool names.

“Something to Read” – Phillip Pullman – True hell is not being able to turn the pages because you’re non-corporeal.

“Killing Time” – Jill Bennett – Don’t move that alarm clock, or you’ll have to answer to that creepy dude on the hill who keeps telling you the earth needs blood. Really, the old gods need to get some new tricks – like the ones that did the Christmas crafting on Supernatural. Wreaths and pipes for everyone followed by brutal tooth pulling and other assorted bleeding!

“J.R.E. Ponsford” – Graham Masterton – I always expect a level of vulgarity from Graham Masterton and frankly, this was downright sentimental. I was extremely perplexed when the characters died in a way that was borderline off-page for Masterton. What the hell, Graham? Vulgarity is totally for teens.

“The worst part was when he mentioned an ear turning to ‘red gristle.'” Pickles summarizes the grossest part of “J.R.E. Ponsford” for Murderface so she doesn’t have to be disappointed by Masterton for teens.

“The Buyers” – David Belbin – This was not a horror story, it was a kidnapping story that definitely needed more zazz. Now, I know that in the Library of Congress classification system kidnapping and murder are close together, but that’s not all you need for horror.

“Closeness” – Chris Westwood – Guarantees of “FOREVER” are not for the faint of heart. It’s almost always better when they turn out to be unintended lies in a relationship too.

“The Ring” – Margaret Bingley – I would say this was a case of “Be careful what you wish for,” but when Kate wanted that ring, she didn’t want it because she thought it would allow her to hear all the horrible things her family and friends were thinking about her on her birthday. She wanted it because it was pretty.

“Bone Meal” – John Gordon – Texas Chainsaw Massacre-light for the UK includes way more dusters. Dusters.

Murderface and Pickles never answered the door. So they never had to murder anyone just for showing up.

Mixtape:

1. “Skogens Hamnd” – Finntroll
2. “Under My Chin” – The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster
3. “Cellophane” – METZ
4. “Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man” – Grinderman
5. “Moths” – Wolfmen of Mars
6. “Patterns of Evil” – Electric Wizard
7. “16 Psyche” – Chelsea Wolfe
8. “Someone’s in the Wolf” – Queens of the Stone Age
9. “King of Bones” – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
10. “Evil” – Grinderman
11. “Scratch at Your Skin” – Ice Dragon
12. “Begin a New Life on Christmas Day, Pt. 1” – Rev. A.W. Nix

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“Please explain to me the scientific nature of the ‘whammy’.”

28. The Dreamstalker – Barbara Steiner

Twins. There’s always an evil one and one just trying to live her life and have a boyfriend who isn’t her brother, the dream-murderer. Sorry. Spoiler there, but this book is from 1992 and I guessed the killer within the first dream sequence. He’s no Freddy, let’s just be clear on that. Kerr the evil twin is pretty overdramatic and keeps trying to force his sister to ice skate. And not go to college. And never leave him.

Thaddeus never wanted Pammy to leave him either, but thankfully they weren’t twins so he didn’t have to haunt her dreams or make her think she was a murderer in an elaborately petty plan to make her stay. She never left him out of mutual respect and the confines of guinea pig housing instead.

Mixtape:

1. “Black Mass” – UNKLE
2. “Anger” – Catalogue
3. “Black Dream” – Samhain
4. “Ghost of Me” – Electric Citizen
5. “Soul on Fire” – Danzig
6. “This Modern Curse” – Espectrostatic
7. “Cruising for Mortals” – Terrortron
8. “Keep Your Dreams” – Suicide
9. “De Profundis (Out of the Depths of Sorrow)” – Dead Can Dance
10. “They’ll Clap When You’re Gone” – Chelsea Wolfe
11. “Things You Wouldn’t Like” – Wolfmen of Mars
12. “Drive-In Moonlight” – Terrortron
13. “We Use the Same Products” – Electric Six
14. “The Weeping Willows” – Espectrostatic
15. “Calling Them All Away” – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
16. “With You in My Head” – UNKLE

 

Art Intrusion #172:

This silkscreen is a Pickles parody of an artist whose work I very much enjoy – Steven Rhodes. He parodies 1970s children’s book covers and often brings in some evilly hilarious subversion, my kind of thing exactly. His version, the original, non-guinea pig parody version, called Pyrokinesis is available in many forms but I got my pin of it from the Creepy Co. of Chicago (love them so very dearly as well). I am not selling any of this silkscreen online, it will only ever be available from me in person and so there are two opportunities coming up to get a white version (very limited)…or…

A blinding purple version that didn’t scan very well! There’s also a Freddy Krueger-looking green one and some various blues. The ink really glows in person and it hurts my eyes. Come attempt to barter for one at SUPERCON in Fort Lauderdale or at the GeekCraft Expo in St. Louis both during July!

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Somebody’s watching that coffee and contemplation.

32. Stalkers – Ed Gorman & Martin H. Greenberg, eds.

One of the nice things about libraries is that they sometimes make purchases from smaller publishers and those things stick around…waiting for their chance. Stalkers was published by Dark Harvest of Arlington Heights, IL in 1989.

It features authors of horror novels for the most part, several of which wrote books on my shelves that I haven’t yet read, like J.N. Williamson. Williamson’s story “Jezebel” was very moralistic but also captured the feeling of being watched when you’re really not doing anything worth watching as a lady very well.

Pickles was constantly doing something worth watching. Here she is, looking alert.

Some I forgot about, like John Coyne (The Legacy aka that book/movie poster with the cat head sticking out of the green, zombie looking hand that scared and intrigued me as a child). Coyne’s story “Flight” was one of the weirder ones. A man takes off with his child when he’s totally not supposed to and ends up in a cabin with a paranoid old coot and it gets very bizarre from there. Features ye olde proverbial “They.”

Some I hadn’t heard of, like Michael Seidman, the editorial director of Zebra…a publisher that probably would have published me back in the day and stuck lots of weirdo skeletons on my covers. Oh, to go back in time. Seidman’s “What Chelsea Said” was a creepy little urban nightmare. Bumbutt.

Edward D. Hoch, “The Stalker of Souls” was an academic mystery. I haven’t read any of the Sherlock Holmes stories, but I got that vibe from it nonetheless. The reveal was a little tiresome, but the atmosphere leading up to it was great and very on theme.

Belvedere raises his head while being accused of nefarious plans by Pickles. Again. She’s the guinea pig Sherlock. Sort of. Not really. She’s far too cute and not nearly addicted to heroin enough to be Sherlocky.

The story that stuck with me the most has its own introduction, an oddity for short story collections, usually there’s just a short paragraph introing the author (if that, and sometimes the contributor bios are in the back). The introduction discusses how long Dean Koontz had the idea and other situations where the story didn’t work out to be published and it’s a nice insight. I’ve read one Dean Koontz book, The Funhouse, it was written under a different name and it was weird but didn’t make me want to dig in to the rest of his catalog. I think my main turn off, as usual, is the font they use for his name. It doesn’t appeal to me.

Anyway, now I’m a little more intrigued. I will at least always look for his stories in more of these weird little horror story anthologies because “Trapped” played right into my worst stalking fears and also hit several areas of my interest – isolated homes, mad science corporate bullshit gone awry, smart heroines who don’t freak out, a hero very much like Chief Hopper… But as I was saying, those worst stalking fears – RATS. Genetically engineered rats who are even smarter than rats already are. Also bigger. And they cut off your phone while staring at you with their beady little eyes. And they thought about the car. And they’re huge and white with red eyes. And of course there was a fucking illustration for that story. NO. I try not to show fear around real rats because I appreciate how smart they are, but, No. Also, rats are not afraid of people. They like people.

Pickles hides from smart rats in her hay. According to a 1921 book about pets I have, rats hate guinea pigs, so she doesn’t really need to.

 

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Krautmeyer

19. The Girls – Emma Cline

Suburban girl goes wild…still basically gets out of everything…and it’s kind of a slow stroll to get there. This was fine. It reads fine, it’s got some nice, hazy Southern California imagery, and easily invokes the Manson family and Cline does pay attention to a lot of the senses. Her writing easily allows the reader to be in the scene smell-wise – rotting lettuce, mildewy clothes, musty outbuildings, that very specific smell that screams “mice have been here” (shudder).

But, not unlike many coddled lives and other stories where a privileged person takes a walk on the other side but doesn’t stay, it’s not that interesting. Too safe. Her life almost gets fucked up by being associated with this version of the Manson family, but then it really doesn’t. She has her bad memories and a stigma that hurts her when she runs into people even more privileged than she is, and that’s realistic but I guess I don’t care about Evie the narrator because Evie doesn’t care about Evie either.

That’s right, my girls Murderface and Pickles, nothing much to read here.

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The body of an angel and the head of a wood owl

  1. My Best Friend’s Exorcism – Grady Hendrix

Hendrix has definitely made some novelist progress since Horrorstor. There are many details in My Best Friend’s Exorcism that really work – the descriptions of Charleston and summer activities in the south in general, the extreme specifics of cassette destruction, and lots and lots of fluids (although I can’t say I ever associated pickles with cadaver labs and I frankly don’t want to, I’ve never thought formalin and pickles had a similar scent either). The description of Margaret in her bed was stomach churning. And I very deeply understood what Abby’s mom was on about when she told her that her rich friends would use her as a scapegoat. I understand that position better than I ever wanted to, the powerful trying to keep the powerless in their place. The book also reads like a shot and I did stay up to keep going to find a non-paranoia inducing scene the second night I was reading it. I have very specific memories of the first time I watched The Exorcist that were invoked reading this (damn it, Regan-me similarities, you still bother me!) and those never make me feel comfortable going to sleep. My imagination is very strong and will not be denied.

On the other hand, the sense that I was being told too many things bothered me at several points. These characters were stronger than the ones in Horrorstor, but they’re still being written with a sense of remove – like they were conceptualized as types and not people and there’s some fight against that but the distance won. The exorcism itself also didn’t work for me; it seemed to go by really quickly and there was a lot of time and build up of what was going on with Gretchen that just didn’t square with the way the exorcism happened. Maybe if WHAM! had been involved instead of Phil Collins. You know Phil Collins made some kind of deal…you know it.

“The power of Phil is not compelling, Belvedere! I didn’t even like ‘Sussudio’!” Pickles will not be exorcised. She was never possessed, so it makes sense.

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