Wednesday, December 25, 2013

And so This is Christmas...

It’s Christmas morning.

I got up at 5:00 am. Nothing special about that, it’s my usual time to get up. I dithered around with my tablet a bit, trying to free up some memory, then got dressed and headed down to the Jeep. On my way down, I picked up the bag I left by the door last night containing some last-minute presents for Handsome, and a few of the ingredients I’ll need for the casserole I’ll be making as my contribution to the Christmas spread. It’s only 11 degrees, so I waste no time hustling across the driveway to jump in the driver’s seat, then pause to curse the amount of cold that leather seats seem to store up. Good Lord!

I flew over to The House that Once was Mine, (okay, technically it still is mine, but The House that Once was Mine has a nice ring to it) giggling at the complete lack of traffic I found on the road at 5:45 am on Christmas Day. I made every light, barely having to touch the brake and maintaining about 10 mph over the speed limit for the entire trip. I didn’t even touch the brake when I went speeding past the cop parked by the side of the road, parked there specifically to catch asshats like me who are out there giggling and flaunting the law in the pre-Christmas-dawn.

I did, however spend 30 seconds with both feet hovering in the air, not touching either pedal, as I kept one eye on the parked cop car, the other watching speed bleed off the speedometer all the way down to 5 mph below the posted limit. Brake lights, as any Massachusetts driver knows, are a sign of weakness, and when flashed in front of a police officer on asshat patrol will immediately stimulate a pull-over, the black-and-white zipping out onto the road behind you like a shark zeroing in on any boat containing Roy Scheider. As long as there were no brake lights involved, one can always try the wide-eyed “Oh, really, Officer? I had no idea!” defense. Flash those brake lights: Guilty.

This morning, though, I cruise past the cop car. Must have been the way I was projecting my thoughts just as hard as I could, like some Postal Jedi running the mind-trick: asshats here… no need to interrupt your asshats here…
I pulled into the driveway over at Handsome’s house in record time. I’m looking forward to sneaking into the house trying not to wake everyone in the house up, while all three dogs go ballistic, trying to wake everyone in the neighborhood up. I’ll pick up the required pile of poo in the kitchen, then give the hairy eyeball to all three dogs, trying to figure out whodunnit. All three dogs will look guilty; they always do. I will ponder the possibility of all three dogs contributing, either one at a time or all at once, to the night-deposit on the linoleum, before shaking my head, rejecting the logistics of the thing.

I’m looking forward, too, to turning on the Christmas lights, both outside and in, and enjoying them by myself for a time while the household sleeps. I’ll turn up the heat a touch, get the living room all cozy-warm, and admire the heap-O-presents under the tree, knowing they are all for Handsome. I’m looking forward to watching him tear into them since, eleven and outgrowing me or not, making him smile is still a big deal for me.

I’ll set up my ChromeBook at the dining room table and maybe write a blog post about all this as I wait for everyone to wake up on their own. I haven’t written a post in a while. I’ve just been all kinds of busy with a writing project, and the month of December has every postal worker in the country running about all day like their asses are on fire. Luckily our bosses are right there with buckets of kerosene to throw on the blaze. Sometimes I think they think they’re helping…

But for now, though, I’ll sit here in the driveway. I did make it over here in record time, and that may have worked against me. The whole while I was making lights and giggling, lifting my feet and avoiding the tell-tale flash of brake lights, I’d failed to notice one very important thing: my fat ass was flash-frozen to that 11 degree seat just as sure as that doofus’ tongue stuck to the pole in A Christmas Story. I got here so fast the heat’s just starting to come on, and now I have to sit here until some warmth penetrates the leather.


Merry Christmas!

And just for the heck of it, my current favorite commercials, starring none other than Christopher Walken... because he's made from Cool.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hi There -- Remember Me?

Greetings WYMOP readers!

I look at the date on the last post and I feel extremely guilty. It's been nearly a month since the last time I shot all of you a 'Hi', and I've left not a word of explanation. 

I'm sorry.

I actually had a post almost ready to send out when the used food hit the rotating blade over here in WYMOP-ville. I'm going to include it below, but first I have to explain myself, if I can:

For those of you who don't know, I'm a writer. I generally (at the moment, anyway) write horror stories, but this blog is my place to write stuff that's not horror, just based on my day-to-day life. For a while there, though, writing took over. Everything was cruising along quite well for a moment. I mainly write short stories, though that will be changing soon, and I had a few anthologies featuring my work come out all at the same time.

  1. The Bloody Book of Halloween, featuring my story "And She Watches".
  2. Dark in the Limelight had my tale "Let Them Eat Cake".
  3. Dark Bits used "The Visit".
  4. Demonic Visions is where you can find "The Tank".
  5. Death by Drive-In published my story "The Colossal Monster"
  6. if you want to be frightened, Wicked Seasons is available from Amazon and contains "A Night at the Show", from yours truly.
All these came out within the same six weeks or so. Mixed in with all that was two different conventions I attended, Rock and Shock and Anthocon. Plus the Coffin Hop during the week of Halloween. Plus an appearance on Sci-Fi Saturday Night, an internet radio show/podcast (and if you click on that link you'll go right to my show, to listen to me say 'um' and 'ah' and all sorts of other brilliant things!).

Sound busy? Wait: There's more!

While all this was going on I found out there was a slight editing difficulty with a little something called Dead of Winter - the first book comprised entirely of my own work.

My own first book. Difficulty. Ack.

So I dropped everything I was doing and I started editing.

Most writers will tell you (and every editor, too) that editing your own work is a mistake. You're too comfortable with the writing, with what it's supposed to say rather than what it really says, and you'll miss things. Those writers (and editors, too) would be correct. I, however, had a secret: I would edit it backward, paragraph by paragraph, rather than looking at the whole story. 

It worked: I found countless things to correct or change. It was, however, extremely, exhaustively, mind-numbingly slow.

It took me two weeks of sleeping just 2-3 hours a night rather than my usual 3-4, but I got it done. It is, at the time of this writing, back with the publisher being gone over a final time before (hopefully) going to print sometime late this month... or maybe early next month? We'll see.

This is, however, the first book in a series of four. There are three more to come. That means there is a massive amount of editing still to be done, as well as some of the actual writing for book four. I went right into that, trying to head off any future editing emergencies, and am currently using the push of NaNoWriMo (that's National Novel Writing Month) as a springboard to help me get all of the writing for the project done so I can just edit myself into oblivion.

This means, though, that WYMOP is on a sort of hold. Not gone. Not by a long shot -- I have too much fun doing it to just up and quit like that. But this little Seasons of the Dead project is kind of important to me, and I'm trying very hard not to let it suck too much. 

So for now I'll be devoting quite a bit of time to just getting that done. I'll still be posting occasional blogs, just as I'll be putting up occasional Friday Frights. Just not every week. If you want to keep track of what I'm doing writer-wise (and I'd love it if you did) then your best bet would be to 'like' my Writer Page on FaceBook. That'll keep you pretty much in the loop. As much as anything can.

For now, though, I'd like to post to you the little bit I'd worked up to share with you before everything here went kablooey. To that end, I give you:

~ ~ * * ~ ~

Words are Weapons

The alarm went off on my phone.

I have several of these set, for various things, to go off at different times during the day and week. This one I knew right off the bat, however: my 9:30 pm alarm that basically means Dude! Get off your ass and put Handsome to bed!

But Jeremy Wade had just gotten his first bite of the show on River Monsters, and I didn’t want to get up. I was watching it on Netflix, so I could have easily paused it, but I didn’t. I was watching it on the 11” screen of my oh-so-portable Chromebook, so I could have even taken it with me, but I didn’t.

Instead, I hollered.

“Handsome! Nine-thirty!”

I heard an answering sound, inquisitive but muffled. Though I couldn’t make it out I assumed it was his usual response when all mind-sucked into his computer game:

“What, Dad?”

He could have gotten up and come to ask me, but he didn’t. I know I hadn’t gotten up either, but I’m the dad. I don’t have to. Instead, I shouted again, a little louder this time.


There was another inquisitive sound. I began to get annoyed.

“Nine-thirty!” I bellowed.

The sound of a chair scraping back. Footsteps making their way across the kitchen. Handsome’s face appearing in the doorway, eyes a little wide, exacerbated by the double raised eyebrows.


“Nine-thirty,” I said, loud and clear.


I beg your pardon? ran through my head, and I felt my own eyes getting wider. I inhaled to give him a piece of my mind, to run through all the possible consequences to his saying “So?”, none of them good, from his perspective. Instead I said, just as loud as before and just as clear:

“Bed. Time.”

Just to be sure he understood, I added in a clarifying syllable.


“It’s Friday,” he said.

My mind leapt ahead to the alarm that was going to go off at 10:00. There was a connection between that alarm and bed time and Friday, my mind knew there was, but just couldn’t see it. Somewhere in there, though, I realized I had been about to make a complete ass of myself. Now what I needed was a way out. My mouth, realizing my brain had slipped out of gear and was spinning like mad but not getting anywhere, went into “Emergency Stall Mode”.

“It’s Friday”, it said, maintaining that loud and clear tone.

“Yeah,” said a confused-looking Handsome. “It’s the weekend.”

“It is the weekend,” said my mouth.

The part of my mind that was pumping the clutch and yanking the gearshift like a little old lady working the slots on an all-expense-paid trip to Atlantic City, just trying to get some psychic traction, noted the slight change in verbiage and the added emphasis on that one word. It felt a moment of pride in the mouth, realizing it was pushing “Echo Mode” above and beyond and was on the verge of slipping into “Blind Improvisation Mode”.

“My bedtime?” said Handsome, searching my face for some sign I was recognizing any of this information. “It’s ten o’clock?”

“Your bedtime is ten o’clock,” the mouth said, in full declarative voice.

Go, Mouth! Go! my mind said, giving up on the gearshift entirely and opting instead to watch my mouth dig us out of this one all on its own.

Handsome squinted at me, unable to figure out exactly what the hell I was doing. He kept his squint on me as he backed toward the door.

“You’re weird.”

“I am weird!

He was gone, returned to the seat in front of the screen in his room.  I went back to watching Jeremy land a hell of a big fish with a mouth full of sharp, pointed teeth.

The fish had the teeth, I mean. Not Jeremy. Jeremy did have teeth, but not like that fish. It was in the middle of admiring the teeth that my mind slapped into gear and started making connections. The first connection it made was that I had succeeded in not getting up from my seat on the couch.

That was far enough for me. I slipped it back into neutral again.

“Good job, mouth,” I said.

~ ~ * * ~ ~

That's all I have for now. I can't apologize enough for leaving you all hanging, but I hope you'll all be here when I get back to WYMOP full-time again.

Until then, I'll talk to you later!

Just to keep you laughing and thinking, here are a couple of clips from a master of both: 

George Carlin.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Like a Boss!

Hey there WYMOP readers!

I am about to get in the car and head out to Worcester to to attend Rock and Shock with the New England Horror Writers. I'm going to have some fun, see some seriously weird stuff, and hopefully sell a few books.

The flip side of that is I'm not going to have time to post anything later on this weekend, and by Sunday night I should be a tired, burned-out shell of a man when I walk back through that door, sooooo... y'all get a WYMOP post early!

Cool, isn't it? Wish me luck! If you're in the Worcester area (and by 'area' I mean within 500 miles) then you should stop by this weekend and say hi!

It's short, it's sweet, and it's fairly complete... and here's the story!

~ ~ * * ~ ~

Handsome is eleven now, and in the sixth grade. This means a new school, new teachers… and a new way for him to get there. This year, Handsome is riding the bus.

Queue the dramatic music: “Dum dum-dum!”

Yeah. Terrific. After being chauffeured to school every school day of his entire academic life, my boy’s finally got to get out there to meet the bus on his own.

Like I said: terrific.

As a result I was worried about the boy using his head. They live on a very busy street and there is no sidewalk on their side of it. This means that he’s either walking in the breakdown lane or crossing the street to the sidewalk over there and then crossing back once he’s parallel to the corner where he gets picked up.

It’s a bit of a nightmare. I’ve been imagining all sort of terrible things happening as a result of inattention, either on the part of my son or the motorists around him.

I’m a dad. Worrying is what I do. The fact that I write a lot of horror fiction doesn’t help —  it just means my imagination is both well exercised and well-stocked with the stuff that frightens me.

Last night Handsome mentioned how cold it is becoming in the mornings for his walk to the bus stop. Casually, trying to maintain my admittedly minimal ‘cool’ status with the boy, I said “So, do you walk in the gutter or cross the street on the way there?”

“Cross the street.”

“Are you careful?” I said, a bit too quickly to hold onto my cool quotient if the boy was paying attention, but I was a worried dad here. Screw cool.

“Oh, Dad, you should see me,” he said. “I go out the front door and stand right on the curb down there and do this.”

He crossed his forearms over his chest, each hand taking loose hold of the opposite upper arm. He bent his knees slightly, huddled actually, and began to slowly rub his upper arms up and down as if trying to keep warm. I looked up to meet his gaze and saw his expression.

The. World’s. Most. Pitiful. Face.


His blue eyes shone with unshed tears, huge and slowly blinking. His pale cheeks shook slightly as he sniffled. His lips, still bow-like in shape, like a small child’s or baby’s, quivered.

His little lip quivered!

“They all stop, in both directions, and wave for me to go. One lady rolled her window down to tell me to ‘go on, go’.”

He stood up straight and strolled out of the room with a confident strut that stunned me.

“And then I cross the street like A Boss!”

I burst out laughing at right about the same time I stopped wondering if he was using his head out there.

He’s going to be fine.

Talk to you later!

....and just for the fun of it, here's Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake having a #Twitter #Conversation

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Decked by an Angel

Greetings, WYMOP readers!

Do y'all remember that television show from the '90s called Touched by an Angel?

I do. And I had some sort of 'experience' this past weekend when Handsome's mother and I took him to the Topsfield Fair, and he --

Wait. I'm getting ahead of myself here. I'll start again.

...Here's the story:

~ ~ * * ~ ~

“I’m really good at this!”

“He did learn to shoot with the Scouts last year," I said.


Two seconds later Handsome was snatching the $5 bill his mother held out and spinning toward the booth behind him: the one with the cork gun. He laid the bill on the counter only to have it swept away by the woman running the game. She explained the way the gun worked and spread out a half-dozen or so corks in the same spot Handsome’s $5 had so recently occupied.

The game was simple, in concept: shoot the cork to knock the plastic cups off the shelves at the back of the booth and collect the points marked in the cups. The more points you have the higher you could go on the prize wall, at the top of which sat the pinnacle of her prizes: a 3-foot tall SpongeBob Squarepants.

Handsome started shooting. Cups fell. The booth girl did the math —  and Handsome was standing right in front of us again, hands clasped beneath his chin in puppy-dog-eyed supplication.


Another $5 bill was swept away, another half-dozen or so corks spilled across the counter-top and Handsome was firing and reloading the gun like there was no tomorrow.

And then he was back before us again, blue eyes shining.


And again. And again. So many times I lost track, but I was pretty sure that $5 at a time that girl was collecting from Handsome the sum total of the National Debt as Handsome tried to build up enough points to walk out of there carrying that SpongeBob. I was there, I saw it all happening, but if anything I was even more helpless than his mother to resist Handsome’s blue-eyed onslaught.

Wait. Looking back I believe I misspoke: he wanted enough points to walk out of there with me carrying that SpongeBob for him.

Handsome’s point total climbed through ‘Small’, then ‘Medium’, growing higher and higher. I started asking passing folk if they could spot me a fin. Handsome kept playing. I kept panhandling. I had tied one of my legs back so I looked like an amputee and started affecting something that was either an accent or a speech impediment, I wasn't sure which, in order to keep some coins flowing into my cup before he tipped over: she added up his point total and he was barely into the ‘Large’ category. Barely, but there!

“I’ll take him,” he said, pointing a triumphant finger at the stuffed annoying sea-creature. He could barely speak for the smile on his face. It wasn’t there long.

“Sorry, hon,” said booth girl, “that one’s a ‘Jumbo’.”

He looked at the chart to see how many more points he would need for a Jumbo prize, then looked over at us. He saw I was busily working the crowd holding a ‘Will Work for Food’ sign, and turned back to booth girl with a dejected expression. He finally walked away from the booth carrying a 2-foot tall dreadlocked banana. A ‘Rastananna’.

Then he saw the next booth. Waist-high basketball hoops and half-sized basketballs.

“I’m really good at this!”

He ran to talk to the booth barker as I sat on the ground and wondered what my shoes would taste like.  Despair crept up behind me and brutally clubbed me with a goofy-bat leaving me almost laughing, though my expression was that of a baby with terrible gas.

“How do I get up to your ‘Jumbo’ prizes?” Handsome said, cutting through all the BS like an 11-year-old with nothing to lose.

The booth guy, having watched the entire SpongeBob Saga unfold before him, looked to where we waited for Handsome. I had given up all hope and was lying on my sign sharpening a knife while Wife flagged down passers-by, trying to find one that might be interested in buying one of my kidneys.

“Do you have a job, son?” said the booth guy, giving Handsome a flinty squint.

“Uh… no,” said Handsome, taken aback.

“Well, then we ain’t even gonna talk about the Jumbos,” booth guy said, his words pulling me up and out of my poverty-induced coma. Hope. The man had given me hope.

There had been clouds on the horizon all day, and over the past half-hour they had been closing in, blotting out the blue sky and eradicating the light. As far as my tear-blurred eyes could see was shadow and darkness across the land… and then there was Light, a single, brilliant shaft that pierced the clouds to fall full upon the face of this man who could tell Handsome ‘No’.

An Angel. I had found an Angel. It was just like the television show.

I spun about, listening for an Irish accent. Looking for a white dove to fly overhead. Was decked by a large black woman I hugged, mistaking her, in my fervor, for Della Reese. Though to be honest, I’ve heard Della packs a mean left hook.

The clouds parted and the skies cleared as Handsome came back to us with the purple ball he’d just chosen from the lowest tier of prizes. My heart sang. I looked over to my Angel, trying to thank him with my eyes, and he nodded back with a twinkle and a grin. We moved off through the crowd to see the rest of the fair, and I was both bright of eye and light of heart…

… until…

“Oh! I’m really good at that!”

I felt a chill as a cloud passed overhead, then decided that directly over me was the place to be. I looked up at it, craning my neck back just in time to catch one fat raindrop, right between the eyes.

“Oh, @#$%.”

I started to dig out my sign again…

~ ~ * * ~ ~

So that was how I discovered it costs just over $90 an hour to entertain an 11-year-old at the Fair. Next year I think I'll just fly him out of town and put him up in a hotel for the ten days the Fair is in town.

It'll be cheaper.

Talk to you later!

....and this week's funny little video is brought to you by my friend Larisa, who posted it on Facebook so I could watch it again and again and laugh every damn time. Enjoy!