35. The Secret Bedroom – R.L. Stine
Every time I switch towns I eventually run into the same old story – there’s that creepy house where somebody got murdered. And you know, in Mississippi, it was my house. It was drugs. No unfinished business. Lea of The Secret Bedroom is not so lucky. I mean, it could’ve been drugs, but, it wasn’t mentioned specifically if drugs were involved in the 100 years ago murderage, so… Lea is not so lucky in many ways. She falls victim to the many tropes – she’s a new kid who spills on the prime bitch at school, then gets asked out as a joke but she doesn’t know until she gets stood up, in her wallowing she hears footsteps upstairs in the boarded up bedroom, the girls she ends up being friends with are either too popular to keep up getting to know her or they found a boyfriend and no longer cared (Friends!), AND her parents keep leaving her alone in their haunted house (Thanks, Lea’s parents.) and she would be okay with it – if it was being haunted by Patrick Swayze. Patrick Swayze, gateway ghost.
1. School – Nirvana
2. Misery Keeper – Electric Citizen
3. Zero – Smashing Pumpkins
4. Phone Call – The Faint
5. Mother Father – Swans
6. Sick, Sick, Sick – Queens of the Stone Age
7. My Dreams – Electric Six
8. I Only Said – My Bloody Valentine
9. Lost Boys and Girls Club – Dum Dum Girls
10. Your Sins Will Find You Out – Eli “Paperboy” Reed
11. Everybody Dies – Those Poor Bastards
12. I Dreamt – The Black Angels
13. Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now – The Smiths
14. Love Can Destroy Everything – The Raveonettes
15. Noorus – Chelsea Wolfe
16. Ripe – Nine Inch Nails
Pammy and Thaddeus chomp down parsley in an attic bedroom. There’s no corpses in there or anything. Also no Swayze or Swayze-related materials. They’re like the wind.
Welcome to year four of YA Megamix Summer! This year’s theme is “Class of Soon to be Nuked High” in honor of the the world teetering on the brink of destruction based on the whims of a moldy orange madman. Good luck having a future, enjoy these glib reviews and mixtapes for the next three months and if the country is still here at the end of August, we’ll resume our mental health/horror programming.
24. The Night Walkers – Otto Coontz
Way to not end the story, man. Maxine is cured, no one else is, and there’s no resolution beyond blaming the guy who runs the dump for the pollution. Writing is about making choices. When you bring things up, like “the soul” a few times and have Nora the Cassandra thinking that’s the “leg up” they have and then never resolving anything… At 163 pages, you could have added another chapter or two and resolved the story. I expect more of an author that admits to being the puppet and mask maker for the San Francisco Mime Troupe AND being concerned about environmental protection in his bio.
1. A Forest – The Cure
2. The Number of the Beast – Electric Six
3. Home Sick Home – Faith No More
4. Damned If She Do – The Kills
5. Time for Death – GWAR
6. Under My Chin – Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster
7. Infected Girls – Electric Six
8. Burning in Hell – Electric Citizen
9. Iron Moon – Chelsea Wolfe
10. The Angry River – The Hat
11. If Wishes Were Horses – Witchcraft
12. My Mule – Abner Jay
13. Sore Eyes – Widowspeak
14. Old Pine Box – Those Poor Bastards
15. Forest Clouds – Windhand
Duncan was in charge of emotional support while I wrote the outline for Day of the Robots. She didn’t even put that in her bio because it took second fiddle to seeing works from the Louvre at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art in 2009 and almost auditioning for a season of So You Think You Can Dance? in the same day.
48. Long Lankin – Lindsey Barraclough
Every once in a while, less so nowadays, someone creates (or illustrates, damnit, Stephen Gammell) a story for young people that will scare them half to death. It will stick in the back of their minds, jumping to the surface when they hear a noise, see a creepy tree, or are walking all alone, late at night, past a graveyard. Long Lankin is a scary fucking book. Reading it made me jumpy and paranoid during the daylight and frankly, a story about post-World War II era British children and folklore should not have managed to accomplish that task. The last thing that made me that jumpy was The Blair Witch Project (saw it in the theater, pre-most of the hype or at least I had no access to hype, didn’t think it was real though, still scary. No corners).
There’s a level of scarcity and secrecy in Long Lankin that just puts a damper on the mood and pushes it into a murky, stifling place. Children aren’t allowed to know what they need to know and there’s an exciting amount of dramatic tension at play as a result. Another contributor to the effectiveness are Barraclough’s lush descriptions. She does an excellent job describing how rooms feel when the windows have been nailed shut for years and I can even feel my breath hitch thinking about the stale air (of course, as an allergic-asthmatic, that’s always going to be a sticking point of terror for me). And that classic British damp is ever-present, rotting away the shingles and leaving room for creepy beasties to get through.
The one thing that didn’t work for me was the ending, but it’s quite the journey to get there, so overall it’s a worthwhile read.
Pickles dramatically reenacts my experience reading Long Lankin. Did you hear that?
59. The Haunting of Frances Rain – Margaret Buffie
Let me start with this, ghosting when someone already has tickets to a very important show that is on your side of the country is not very nice. The person who has the tickets will probably never forgive you, especially if those tickets were to see Uncle Acid on the very day of their birth. However, that very situation is what led me to reading this book in the Atlanta airport while waiting for someone who was a vastly better companion for the entirety of my birthday odyssey (we all knew I was describing myself being ghosted, right, being screwed over is one of the houses for my wheels when it comes to relationships, not just me though, thankfully).
Anyway, I was having a hard time concentrating on it because the baggage claim area associated with the flight I was tracking moved like three times and I kept looking up and seeing that it was different and having to wander down to a big screen and re-check and then go find a new part of the wall to lean on and I got there too early because I know that airport is confusing, I have been a passenger there before. Eventually I found a good post to lean against to wait and realized that this is a pretty intriguing book.
The characters were realistically drawn, which is pretty necessary when there’s a pair of glasses that allow the wearer to see the past as the catalyst for the story… The setting is very densely composed; it’s easy to feel the damp chill and see the rotting remains of the cabin on the island. I also realized that I’ve barely read anything set in Canada and the little details that I didn’t recognize were amusing. And, not unlike the situation that precipitated my starting this book, there were no loose ends that did not resolve in a satisfactory manner. Although, to be fair to satisfactory resolution, the story didn’t have any pandas, but mine totally did. Me and Yang Yang have the same birthday. He was napping through his- that was not my path. But, his name means “little sea” and this story is set on a lake. Everything’s coming full circle there. Ew.
Belvedere has never been to the airport in Atlanta, seen Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats, or watched a panda sleep. He’s also never successfully worn glasses to see into the past, paddled a canoe, or had a summer romance while coming to terms with his stepfather. He’s also never made an attempt to ruin anyone’s birthday so he’s definitely still ahead.
1. I Come from the Water – Toadies
2. Mud – Legendary Shack Shakers
3. I.O.U. – Tomahawk
4. The Worst There Is – The Ettes
5. Runaway Girls – Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats
6. If Crimson Was Your Colour – Witchcraft
7. Solitary Traveler – Torche
8. Black Motorcade – Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats
9. I Am Lost – Those Poor Bastards
10. A Tall Shadow – Graveyard Train
11. In the Pines – Widowspeak
12. Sweetheart in the Summer – Ween
13. Cemetery Breeding – Black Mountain
14. Sulk – Trust
15. Mile Markers – The Dead Weather
16. Capt. Midnight – Tomahawk
17. Shout Me Out – TV on the Radio
9. Freeze Tag – Caroline B. Cooney
Unhappy children may contain special powers. It’s a good thing Lannie can’t just zap people into the corn field…although freezing them is pretty close. Lannie uses her special power, the origin of which remains unexplained – I assume it’s something along the lines of the invisibility that comes over Clea Duvall’s character in the first season of Buffy- to wedge her way into a loving family, much to the chagrin of narrator Meghan. Lannie is just a little bit too sad for an evil character and unfortunately for her, freezing people isn’t as convenient as becoming invisible, so it’s very unlikely that she’ll be recruited as a spy. Downer.
A very unfrozen Ozymandias. He managed to find a loving herd after being rejected by his first family- and sort of got recruited as a spy by Danger Crumples.
1. Everybody Wants to Rule the World – Tears for Fears
2. Shattered Me – Bass Drum of Death
3. Some Kinda Hate – Misfits
4. Asking for It – Hole
5. #1 Crush – Garbage
6. Frisk – The Big Pink
7. If I Had a Heart – Fever Ray
8. We Wear Mittens – The Gay Blades
9. Spirit Walker – Ween
10. Power – Fields of the Nephilim
11. Nekrodamus – Kvelertak
12. Withered Hand of Evil – Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats
13. She Owns the Streets – The Raveonettes
14. When You Sleep – My Bloody Valentine
15. Everything Will Be All Right – The Killers
48. The Grounding of Group Six – Julian F. Thompson
For me, this book has a bit of a reputation. I knew I had to read it, but I was also dreading it a little bit, because when you decide that you’re going to write this one kind of story and then you hear about a YA book from the 1980s that has a similar plot and you’re totally immersed in pop culture and read a ton of 1980s YA but you hadn’t come across this yet…it causes a rumble of anxiety. So imagine my surprise when I started reading it and got a smidge bored. Surprise.
To me, Thompson copped out, in a few areas. The book could best be described as “murky,” like when I put too much paint in one spot trying to fix something I didn’t realize wasn’t going to work when I started. Losing the light areas means I lose the depth of color I want and The Grounding of Group Six could have used more depth. The characters overlapped a little too much for me and the significance of the situation as a whole was glossed over emotionally throughout the book in favor of somewhat effective revengencing. The antagonists were definitely interesting, but reading about the main group just made me feel like I was reading The Breakfast Club, camping edition. And that would have been okay if any larger, emotionally significant choices had been made. Too many near misses.
The photographic choice I made to let Belvedere’s little white pants be the focus in this photo instead of Mortemer’s adorable face is my analogy of the process of making choices while writing this book.
1. Underachievers March and Fight Song – Archers of Loaf
2. Fairweather Friends – Queens of the Stone Age
3. Secret Plans – Eagles of Death Metal
4. The Deadenin’ – Legendary Shack Shakers
5. When God Comes Back – All Them Witches
6. Overkill (Live) – Motorhead
7. My Own Bare Hands – Ween
8. Mudslide – The Darkness
9. Got the Power – Eagles of Death Metal
10. I’m Not a Young Man Anymore – The Wolfmen
11. Climb Safely – Restavrant
12. Lazy as Fuck – Evil Cowards
13. Don’t Get 2 Close (2 My Fantasy) – Ween
14. Always Looking – Dum Dum Girls
15. Kissy Kissy – The Kills
16. Staring at the Sun – TV on the Radio
17. Fault Line – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
29. In the Middle of the Night – Robert Cormier
The scenario that drives the tension for the protagonist of this book is barely possible today. Sure, there are many people with land lines, also businesses, but if someone’s father made a terrible decision that cost the lives of many disadvantaged children, they’d just be haunted on the internet instead of via repetitive phone calls. A Google-haunting has a very different kind of tension than repeated phone calls to a landline in the middle of the night (Ha.). It’s a little harder to utilize online threats and harassment to drive a novel’s plot forward. I’ve read a few novels that used texts and snippets of online postings and for the most part I find that timely but sterile and I guess at some point it’s all going to seem dated anyway… Datedness aside, Robert Cormier is very good with dark topics and slowly revealing important details and this book is a good example of his talents. To be fair, a time when it was only possible to get a hold of someone when they were actually near a landline feels like a dark topic in and of itself to some- but I definitely miss it on occasion.
Don’t even think about waking Murderface up from her nap with threatening phone calls – or anything else.
1. Christian Woman – Type O Negative
2. Under the Spell – Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats
3. Dirty Black Summer – Danzig
4. Crux – Electric Citizen
5. Need Some Air – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
6. Teen Age Riot – Sonic Youth
7. Wake Me Up – The Raveonettes
8. Lost Boys and Girls Club – Dum Dum Girls
9. Want Remover – Protomartyr
10. Charmer – Kings of Leon
11. Under My Chin – Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster
12. Tension – Zebras
13. Evil! – Grinderman
14. Older No Wiser – Red Desert
15. Guilt – Those Poor Bastards
16. Motherfucker – Faith No More
66. 99 Fear Street, the House of Evil: The Second Horror – R.L. Stine
Shock horror – Good looking young man moves into haunted house, gains attention from ladies both alive and dead! Brandt’s new and the latest ghost to occupy his new home has taken an interest in him. Whatever happens, Brandt is popular. Yay, Brandt, 90s guy!
Pickles will awaken from her nap when something slightly more interesting happens in this trilogy. Something that doesn’t involve a good looking person in distress.
1. House on Fire – Hanni El Khatib
2. The Suburbs (continued) – Arcade Fire
3. Cul de Sac – Tomahawk
4. Love Thing – The Melvins
5. Winter ’68 – The Black Angels
6. Truth in the Dark – Dax Riggs
7. Ghosts House – Witchcraft
8. Nattesferd – Kvelertak
9. Who Was In My Room Last Night? – The Butthole Surfers
10. Evil Ways – Graveyard
11. Midnight Creeper – Eagles of Death Metal
12. Crying Lightning – Arctic Monkeys
13. Friday Night – The Darkness
14. Heartbeats – The Knife
15. Cheap and Cheerful – The Kills
16. The Air-Conditioned Nightmare – Mr. Bungle
17. Ungrateful Are the Dead – Graveyard
18. If I Live of If I Die – Cuff the Duke
65. 99 Fear Street, the House of Evil: The First Horror – R.L. Stine
Moving happens. Moving into haunted houses happens. Moving into angry haunted houses that spurt green vomit from the sink happens…in this book. Plus, the ceiling drips blood. It seems as though Glenn Danzig was the house’s preferred tenant as opposed to the Frasier family – although he wants the blood to run UP the walls, which is a tall order. Anyway, I guess the lesson for this family is that they never should have left New York.
Thaddeus and Pammy moved with me three times. We never managed to move into a haunted house.
1. Life Fades Away – Roy Orbison
2. The Suburbs – Arcade Fire
3. Thea – Goldfrapp
4. The Clerkwell House of Detention – Gallon Drunk
5. Blade in the Black – UNKLE
6. Dead Sound – The Raveonettes
7. Funeral for a Great Drunken Bird – All Them Witches
8. Too Young to Love – The Big Pink
9. TV Set – Spoon
10. I Think I’m Paranoid – Garbage
11. Evidence – Faith No More
12. Home – Hanni El Khatib
13. Lost in the Supermarket – The Clash
14. A Perfect Place – The Raveonettes