About me

I've been writing stories for years. I think I'm a good writer and I'm willing to bet you'll feel the same way. So here they are. Enjoy them, comment on them, tell your friends about'em, reblog them, retweet them, reread them. I have four stories in my archive so far:
"One day on the Mountain", a story of Lycanthropy, a father, and a son.
"The Boy", a story of a very ambitious and sociopathic fifth grade boy.
"The Easy Girl, A story of infidelity and unpaid sexual debts. This story is very dark.
"Brick The Mighty", a story of an aging superhero.
Although this is primarily a blog of horror, I also write about things that are important to me. I have more stories tucked away; they just need editing. There's even a few novels. There will be more to come.
PS. Feel free to leave a comment. I love comments.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

The Grand Show of Charlie Sheen

 There was a lot of press about Charlie Sheen a while ago. 

 People were worried about him. My wife thought he was bi-polar and soon to be dead, like Michael Jackson. He went on TV and did a famous interview in which he said he had tiger-blood in his veins. Several iconic catch-phrases came from that interview. 

  The porn, the drugs, the hookers, the porn, the failed relationships, and also, a whole lot of porn. The man’s mind became a refuse basket for a movie-of-the-week’s worth of drugs  and hoochies. My heart goes into defibrilation just thinking about his lifestyle. 

 But I don’t think Charlie Sheen is crazy. 


Remember The Da Vinci Code? It was ostensibly a book. It had pages, and people in it that did things that constitute a plot. It sort of looked like a book.

  But was it really? The action started two pages in and didn’t let up until the end. Not a singe moment for character or finesse, or anything else that writers do. At the end of every other chapter, the reader looks on as the main characters solve a puzzle. The outer jacket of the book is littered with codes, hidden messages, and cryptic images.  

  It’s not really a book but a device for making money. Dan Brown is by no means a literary genius, but he is a wizard at setting up little variables that run around the reader’s brain and set fire to his or her synapses. What he has written - one of the highest selling works of writing ever - is not a book but a constantly running program that uses our collective brain as an operating system. It’s a brilliant piece of work, but The Da Vinci Code is not a book. 

  The Da Vinci Code is not book any more than Charlie Sheen is a normal human being. He is biologically a normal human; he has a system that reacts in human fashion when he is engaging in those interminable marathons of hooker, porn, and cocaine. He looks and ages like a normal human.

  But when he was in high school he hung around with his brother Emilio, and their friends Rob Lowe and Sean Penn. He was an extra on Apocalypse Now, in which his father was terribly drunk, in the set of which Francis Ford Coppola had long, frightening conversations with Marlon Brando as they created the movie character of Kurtz. That is not how a normal child grows up. Sheen has grown by and lived alongside vast wells of ambition and creative energy, and he’s soaked it up like radiation. When Charlie Sheen says he has Tiger-blood, he might not be far off. 

   But he’s the sort of person who made his personal life a mess, and yet took that personal life on tour to make a killing. He parlayed the massive ‘breakdown’ he had during his hiatus from Two and a Half Men into a colossal media circus. When the dust cleared, and the lawsuit he’d launched had settled, he was one hundred million dollars richer. 

  He can do anything now: launch his own show, write a guaranteed best-selling novel, develop his own bio-pic, or underwrite the next big thing in smartphones. 

 There is not a single example of a regular person profiting so handsomely off such horrendous personal misfortune. Anyone one else would be lucky to be only left homeless and alone, blindly walking the streets as a casualty and refugee of the American Dream. But not Charlie Sheen - his misfortune might have been made from solid gold.

 He’s not a regular human being. I’m not sure what makes people who grew up alongside the great forces of culture different from other people. If I had to guess, I would think that he has an almost evolutionary ability to be the centre of a story, any story. He has the ability to appear to lose when all he was ever doing was entertaining and profiting massively off the attention.

So don’t ever feel bad for him, no matter what happens. He’ll just fail long enough to gain your sympathy, and then he’ll dust himself off and walk away with everyone’s money. He’s enacting a wonderful bit of live-streaming performance art and he’s great at it. 

Monday, 26 September 2011

The Mail-Order Frankenstein

Don't they look regal?

    Comic books.

    Not the ones out now. Not those glorious, epic, artsy creations by Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman. Nothing by Garth Ennis or Grant Morrison. I'm talking about the quick and dirty Hulks and Spider-mans that you got at the corner store. These comics would never be voted into the top-100 book list in Time Magazine, like Watchmen was. 

    I want to talk about ads in the back of those comic books. They were something else; they were the paper equivalent of a down-market, fly-by-night carnie circus. These days, comic book ads are bought by mainstream companies. It's a big business, and I'm glad comics are now a viable product. But globalization and conglomeration have drained some of the wonderful little backwaters of North American culture. Back when I was a kid, the ad-space in comics were bought by - This is my imagination here - some guy smoking his cigar in his warehouse of crazy things he wanted to sell you. 

How could a little boy resist?
    Hypno-coins to bedazzle your friends! X-ray specs to look through Stephanie Johnson's shirt! Some strange device that somehow 'threw' your voice! And SEA MONKEYS!

   According to the ad, if you ordered Sea monkeys you would receive in the mail (after a 6-8 week wait) a packet of dried… stuff. You would sprinkle the stuff in the water of your aquarium, and royal family of Sea Monkeys would appear. The King, Queen, and their children would lounge about your aquarium with their golden crowns lolling on their heads. 

   What got me was the monster catalog. For ONE DOLLAR (plus 35 cents for shipping and handling), I bought Frankenstein's Monster. The ad promised that it would terrify my friends, that its eyes would glow in the dark at night in my room. It was SEVEN FEET TALL! 

    I found that ad today. When I was a little boy, I perhaps didn't read everything alongside the exciting description. Honor House, the company that sold the mail-order monsters, clearly wasn't into emphasizing the mundane truth about what they sold out of kids' comics for a buck plus shipping. 

    I just sent my buck thirty-five in the mail and waited what seemed like an eternity for my monster to be delivered, bolts and all, to my door. Some enemies of mine had a fright coming, and I was gonna give it to them.

   The day came when a very small package from Lynbrook, New York, came to my door. Was that all? I asked myself. Surely there was some sort of mistake. Perhaps this was the monster's leash? Its food-bowl? Its remote-control panel?

   I opened the package, and there was this folded piece of plastic the size and feel of a large, heavy-duty garbage bag. 

   I unfolded it, and found that it was a seven-foot polyethylene poster of Frankenstein's Monster. He indeed was stretching out his hand menacingly. And his glowing eyes? Along with the poster came two stickers: tiny, fluorescent orange dots which I was to affix to Frank's eyes. With the help of my dad, I glumly taped it to the bedroom wall. The folds never went away. When I turned out my light later that night, the two bright orange dots sat in the dark and did nothing. 

   The friends who were supposed to be frightened were not impressed at all. They poo-pooed it and demanded I get out my home chemistry set. 

    I was horribly disappointed; I'll make that clear. But I do look fondly back at that time. Sure, you couldn't get everything you wanted at any time. But today, I don't think there's a kid alive on this continent who would ever believe he or she would be getting a monster delivered by mail. You can read reviews about everything, see the trailers on the internet, see the individual website of each and every product you're going to buy. There little mystery anymore in being a child. It's all about access, about knowing everything because it's all there.

    The newest wave in technology will be 3-D printers. They're printers that print objects, not documents. You want something? Press a button and a machine in the corner of your office will make it. Watch for them. They're coming. We'll be able to print out our kids' Christmas gifts the night of December 24th. You won't have to describe something for your son or daughter - you can just ask the internet to produce of picture or video of it, or just have it made at the press of a button. 

     But when I was little, I read an ad in a comic book and sent away for Frankenstein's monster. I believed it. It wasn't true, but I believed it. A while ago, there was mystery and now we no longer have it. 

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

We were Troy Davis

The state of Georgia executed Troy Davis a few hours ago for the 1989 murder of an off-duty cop. The murder weapon was never found. Seven of nine witnesses have since recanted their testimony and several jurors in Davis's original trial have expressed doubt in their verdict.

   I don't want to go over the surreal nature of executions and death penalty verdicts: the endless and Jobean trials, literal and figurative, for the guilty men and the victims' families, the odd habit of upper courts and prosecutors to show impatience when faced with new evidence of innocence, or the whole race thing.

 Actually, I am going there. I want to talk a little about race. I don't want to go over the percentage of black executed convicts, or the preponderance of white murderers who don't get the needle; that's been done.

   I just thought of this when the press release came out.

   In 2008, a large group of rich white men pleaded poverty and begged congress for almost three-quarters of a trillion dollars. The bailout was orchestrated by the Treasury, which was made up of former Goldman-Sachs executives who had much to do with where the money went, but that's another story. My point is they got their money.

   Fast-forward to a few hours ago. A black man had been begging, not for hundreds of billions of dollars, but for his life. He'd said he was innocent, but even if he hadn't been, there was enough evidence to the contrary to at least get him up off that gurney and back into his cell. They could have done at least that. But he got the needle shortly after he asked God to forgive everyone for executing an innocent man.

   When it come to the death penalty, when it comes to poor defendants from poor families who have to rely on Public Defence lawyers or clever but beleaguered volunteers, politicians and judges get serious.

    Fast forward to now. Barack Obama, a black president, wants to take money from the wealthy to help pay off the debt. A black man is asking a society - that can't grant a black man his life - to give up money that usually goes to white men.

   The right-wing foamers and the Tea-Partiers will scream about socialism, un-Americanism, Communism, and maybe the whole birth certificate issue will come back.

   But deep down, the money, the death penalty, this rage against this black president, is about our races. A race that helped build the country but was never paid for it, another race that feeds its guilt and fear into politics, guns, nooses, prisons, electric chairs, and lethal injections. I'm not going to play the pious Canadian right now because yesterday Parliament passed an Omnibus crime bill that will herald longer sentences and more prisons. We do the same thing but we do it to Aboriginal people.

    We can't argue that one is about money and the other is about crime and the death penalty. Currency, crime, and death are inextricably linked. Money is simply energy and labor channelled into legal tender; death occurs because too much money flows one way but not the other. African-Americans worked for generations without pay, and now the wealth is all in one place. We always say to follow the money, and death and crime oblige. The present system, with its executions, its coddling of the rich, and the war on the poor and middle class, is a product of long-standing debt.

   Nothing will ever change until that imbalance is fixed. 

Sunday, 18 September 2011

My first frightening movie experience

    In 1983 (Yes, I'm a child of the eighties), my friend and I went to the movies. There was this flick in the theatres called The Twilight Zone. We knew nothing about it, nothing about the original series, nothing about the show's habit of ironic and moralistic O. Henry endings, nothing about scary movies beyond knowing that they were scary and they were sometimes sexy. Sex was something you could see in scary movies without your parents knowing.

   The opening scene is set late at night, in a car, on a long, lonely highway. The two men inside are singing along to the radio. They have a conversation after that, a lively conversation, and then the driver says, "Do you want to see something scary?"

   After the passenger agrees, the driver turns out the indoor lights. They're in the dark, out in the middle of nowhere, roaring blind down the highway. The passenger is understandably frightened. He begs for the lights to be on again.

   After the lights come on, the passenger says, "Do you wanna see something really scary?"
   When the driver says yes, the passenger says, "First you have to pull over."

   The driver does so. After they are safely pulled over and the engine is off, the driver turns to the passenger. After the constant drone of the car engine, the theatre is quiet, and the driver's voice is very startling and loud when he says... "Okay! Scare me."

     The passenger smiles and turns away towards the door, hiding his face. After a moment of unbearable silence, the passenger turns around again. And this is what we see.

     I just about died. I turned and hid my face as the audience screamed in delight. A second later I peeked around to see this thing begin to eat the driver's face. 

   I recovered, and the rest of the movie was quite average, until the the final story in which a plane passenger has to watch a gremlin eat the wing of his plane.

   That was the most terrifying moment of my young life. I remember it like it were yesterday.


  A year ago, I decided to look up my old nemesis, the movie that scared the crap out of me when I was a child. I finally saw the old scene on YouTube. I was so thankful. Everything is on Youtube. When we're all dead, YouTube will still be around to explain everything.

   You know what I saw in that opening scene? Albert Brooks and Dan Ackroyd in that car.

   That song they were singing along to on the tapedeck? A cover of Midnight Special by Creedence. Then they play a musical guessing game - they hum along to the themes to Hawai'i Five-O, Sea Hunt, and even National Geographic. Eventually they sing The Twilight zone theme. It's hilarious. It's a young Brooks and Ackroyd - of course it's funny! Not only that, I completely blanked out and had forgotten that game. I only remembered the frightening bits.

    So there you have it: One of my most formative scary movie experiences was comedy and I was too green to realize it. Looking back, I can see that it's a delightful scene, full of fun and love of old television, with two wonderful comic actors who act as if they were enjoying every minute.

  Look up the scene. It's wonderful and can be found here.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Chicken-Fried Crazy

    Some years ago, Britney Spears went nuts. 

    She took an impromptu dip in the ocean, she spoke in accents, spent several months doing nothing but going to Starbucks and then driving to gas stations to use the bathroom in her bare feet, and in a final dramatic climax, shaved her head in public. She went straight to rehab and got better, but for a while she had been insane. She is the most recently renowned example of a crazy famous person, but she is not the first. 

    Michael Jackson had body dysmorphic disorder, as well as a whopping persecution/messiah complex. He made things worse with drugs, and at the time of his death was paying a doctor to administer surgical anasthetic so he could sleep. Throughout his life his closest friend was a chimp, who was then replaced by Elizabeth Taylor. There were the alleged sex offences, and the buying of the foetuses of  his children and the womb that bore them.  He lived a life more rarified than the most coddled of emperors'. One day someone will write The Book on that man, and we'll know: (1) - what went on in that house, and (2) - what his body looked like when he died. Come one, you're curious! He may have thought he had a one-of-a-kind gender and a one-of-a-kind ethnicity - what would he had done to his body in the name of his completely fictional self-image? What radical surgical operations could Michael Jackson have ordered for his body from the neck down? Where we couldn't see? 

    Mel Gibson, Nicholas Cage, Lindsey Lohan, Alec Baldwin, Kanye West, and many others. They've all shown symptoms of mental illness - bipolar disorder, outright schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, not to mention countless addictions. Did they come to to Hollywood crazy, or did Hollywood make them crazy? 

    In order to answer that, first look at your typical schizophrenic. The most common symptoms are extreme paranoia and fear of persecution. Some wear hats lined with tinfoil to protect their brains from enemy microwaves. They suspect anyone with a camera or phone as a spy for an enemy agency. Some schizophrenics have travelled to other countries, and lived in vans on the side of roads, to escape what they believe is a vast conspiracy to get them. They fear people could be outside the windows, in the alleys going through their garbage, waiting outside a restaurant to get their receipt and get a record of what they've been eating. 
    Does this sound familiar? Of course it does! Celebrities go through the same thing every day of their lives. If a famous person walks by a television, he or she is probably on it, or being talked about on it. A celebrity has to worry if someone is going through his or her garbage. Photographers in the bushes, in passing cars, following down the street. 

    If you are famous, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people out to get you. Some just want to profit off you and some dislike you. Some even love you, and these people are the worse: An overly loving fan of Robert Pattinson leapt out of nowhere and wrung his neck. He survived, but I heard a rumour that he deliberately doesn't bathe in hopes that his craziest fans are repelled by his body odour. 

   If you are mentally ill, you show symptoms: fantasies of paranoia and persecution. But what if you were sane, and had those symptoms forced on you? You might go crazy. The mind recognizes stress and fear, releases the appropriate defence hormones, and voila! - an A-list actress assigns speaking stones to her staff. A country western superstar dons a toupee and releases an album under a dark and dangerous secret identity that fools no one. A female pop-star writes on her website that she can turn invisible. A rap-star run for president of his homeland when he can't even speak the language. The same paparazzi who stalk you also guard you from reality. 
    All of this could be proven or disproven, but these people are hidden behind phalanges of security and reams of confidentiality clauses. The evidence that could fuel a breakthrough in psychiatry is protected by hundreds of millions of dollars. No one really knows the long term effects of living under a vast conspiracy of people who are out to get you. By the time a certain level of fame has been reached, the only health professionals available are the drug dealers with medical licenses. There is no specialist in Fame-induced Personality Disorder, or reverse-engineered mental illness. 
    So would you refuse fame to save your sanity? Think about it for a moment. 

Saturday, 10 September 2011

The Video Stores of the '80's

A Classic, need I say more?

I saw this and all the sequels. Not sure why.

    Does anyone remember video stores?

    I don't mean DVD; I mean VHS cassette rental stores. Before blockbuster, there were many of them. Some of them were even privately owned, if you can believe that.

    Back then, in the mid-eighties, we weren't able to order something off the internet. We had to walk, take the bus, or get on our bikes to find a movie to watch. We would rent two or three with pooled money, stop at a grocery store to buy snacks, and ride home with them dangling off the handle bars in plastic bags that threatened to rip open, for we had yet to learn that plastic bags were bad. No, it wasn't that bad. It was actually kind of nice. 

   If you wanted Romance, Drama, Family, or comedy, you could find that in all the rows that went up and down the store. That was fine; that was easy - just mosey up and down until you found something that was available (it wasn't always available and sometimes you had to do with something else, horror of horrors), or something that everyone agreed was worth trying.

   But if you wanted horror, you had to go to a special booth set up in the corner. Often plastic and paper-mache ghouls had been plastered all over it, or dozens of grey little tombstones. You'd walk in, aware that light from the regular world was filtering in through the little slits in the booth's corners, and choose.

   It wasn't just eighties horror that was available. There was the older stuff from the sixties and seventies, as well. Andy Warhol's Frankenstein ("To find life you must fuck death… through the GALL BLADDER!"), Andy Warhol's Dracula, The Claw, The original Night of The Living Dead. For the eighties there were the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, All the Howling movies, Child's Play, The Evil Dead movies, Phantasm II( for some reason the first one was never around. Ever). If you were lucky, or perhaps unlucky, you'd very occasionally come across a video store stupid enough to rent you one of the famous Italian 'holocaust' movies, such as Cannibal Holocaust, which was so impossibly gross and and yet low-budget that to this date many people think it's a genuine snuff film. My mother would have had me committed and my friends arrested if she knew some of the things we had been watching. 

  If you wanted porn - well, they had a room for that, too. It was an entirely separate room, and you even before you could sweat the idea of the clerk asking you for ID, you had to emerge from that room with your chosen flick( a title like Orifice Party, or Hannah Does her Sisters) and maybe your English teacher would be there with his family for their movie night. Luckily, we had a friend, a buddhist who believed in past lives, who simply was not bothered by what anyone thought, and we had him brave that counter, which was often staffed by girls from school. But I won't get into eighties and seventies porn. There are other blogs for that, run by people who are far more knowledgeable. 

   This was my adolescence. While it was not technically advanced as today's internet, Netflix, get-what-you-want-when-you-want-it, I loved it. We were still able to have fun, to get into trouble. If you did something secret, it stayed secret because it never went electronic. If you didn't want to answer the phone, you let it ring and the person bothering you gave up. 

   This was the eighties. There is way more, and when I'm in the mood I'll tell you more. For the latest generation, it's just as exotic and alluring as the sixties, and perhaps it's not the hairsprayed, velcro, paisley embarrassment I used to think it was. 

    I'm a child of the eighties and I'm proud of it. 

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The First of Many Farewells

     This is not horrible or horrifying. I'm leaving fear someplace else.

     No, that's not entirely true. I'm deeply afraid; my own mortality is at stake. At least, that's how I feel.

    My youngest son went to school today.

    My eight year-old went to school today as well. We dropped him off at the side of the road and he ran inside; that's how he wanted it. I'm used to him not needing me.

    But the little guy is five. 

    He's not afraid of school. He sole fear is of a flushing toilet, and what awful disaster might occur if that toilet were to overflow. But he's getting over that fear, and he's definitely not afraid of a brand-new classroom.

    But I'm afraid. My youngest baby is going to school. He's going to learn things, and be away from me all day. Without those two kids I'm a third of a man. For the past eight years they've been my identity, my distraction from the worry of growing old. The world has passed me by and begun to look at the next generation, as it should. That's how the natural order works. That's why we take care of kids. 

     But when those kids leave, and blithely wave goodbye with what is only the first and least heart-breaking of farewells that our kids bade us, we can feel that empty place that was once something we thought we didn't mind giving away. What is that? During the toilet-training, the sleepless nights, the cleaning up of puke, I forgot what that was. But I think I remember. 

     I think it was peace. We gave up peace; lazy, sexy, lazy Saturday mornings; adult time; and instead gave it to our kids. When they go away they take it with them, and it becomes confidence, sunniness, luck, love; all the sacrifices we willingly made becomes that which makes our kids special. 

    But boy, do we feel it when they go. I stood in that schoolyard and felt like a grieving, half-dead battery. I taught my boys everything but I don't think I can teach them how to deal with something like this: when your most inspired creations don't need you anymore. When you succeed so grandly that your mad scientist's monsters leave to write their own story. And you are left empty.

    I'm not afraid for them. Well, I have all the silly fears of all parents: gangs, accidents, stranger abductions. But on the balance, I know I have two stunningly handsome boys for whom the sky holds no limit. They have healthy grandparents who can step in if something terrible happens to us; we are in good financial shape; they're popular; they're healthy. 

    So why do I feel like we've put everything we hold dear into these two people we invented, and sent them off into the world like two genetic express envelopes without an address? I don't know. I could keep them with me, and never let anything happen to them. But as Dory from Finding Nemo says: You can't never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. 

    But not to worry - I'll get over it. He was gone for only and hour this morning, and tomorrow it will be for an hour and a half. Full-time school will start next week, and in the meantime he still wants a song before he goes to bedtime, and he still sleepwalks into our room and demands to be cuddled. He's still a baby. 

    For now. 

Saturday, 3 September 2011

An Extremely Modest Proposal

     Friends, we all know the pickle we're in. The planet is heating up. Those hurricanes are getting stronger. We're dirtying our nest because we like stuff and don't wish to give it up.

    The ocean, the basis of life, is becoming more acidic, because it is absorbing carbon from the air, and receiving sulphur dioxide rain from coal plants. The acid will eat at the coral reefs and destroy vast swaths of tropical ecosystems; it will compromise the exoskeletons of countless life-forms that are the basis of the marine food pyramid. Already, old sailors, Inuit elders, and scientists are saying that the seas look empty. It's the largest part of us; it's the world's heart and lungs. 

    So what do we do? The planet has a fatal case of heartburn. What do you do when you have heartburn? You take an antacid pill. 

     What is the most commonly bought antacid made from? A chemical base called Calcium Carbonate. Most often those pills are made from ground-up seashells. Those ground up seashells neutralize acids.

    But we can't throw ground-up seashells into the ocean to correct a massive planetary imbalance. Seashells come from the ocean in the first place. What else is made of calcium carbonate?


    That's right. It takes a horror writer to think of these things.

    Between 56 and 57 million people die every year. Every one will die with a body. Many will be preserved, embalmed, buried. Perhaps cremated, which is an egregious waste of energy. 

    Every cadaver should have its body stripped. The fats can be used as fuel; the bone ground up into more manageable bits and thrown into the ocean to restore its PH. The phytoplankton, the krill, the coral reefs, would return to health. The food chain would cease to resemble a pyramid with an oblique, transparent bottom. 

   We value our dead far too much. We lavish too much ritual on what is now a repository for stolen goods. Think of what good our bodies would do if we could use them to heal the ocean. From dust we came and to dust we return. This sounds vile, disturbing, disgusting, upsetting, but it might help us make a better world for our children. Graveyards would no longer be repositories for the dead but a place where we visit memories. 

    We need to do this. It would signal a final enlightenment, a return to our roots and to a memory of a species that once left little behind, because in nature nothing is wasted. 

     Reduce, re-use, recycle.