Thursday, May 29, 2008


I have a sneaking suspicion that tomorrow is going to be a bad day.

I hope I'm wrong.

Blood on the Bookcase

So, I finished "The Girl Next Door" by Jack Ketchum, and still don't know what to think or feel. It's not something I enjoyed reading at all, but still I couldn't stop. If you don't know anything about the book, it's a fictionalized account of the abuse two girls were subjected to at the hands of their aunt and a group of neighborhood kids. There was an actual occurrence of this in the 1950's in Indiana, and the documentation of the crimes and subsequent trial served as the basis for the "action" of the book. The subject matter alone would be enough to keep me from sleeping even if it were handled with care, but Ketchum was far from careful.

There were times that I found myself reading a paragraph and skipping to the end because the details were just too much for me to read. It was too real and the victims were children. I just couldn't get through it all line by line, and I am FAR from squeamish.

I'm a guy who loves horror. I enjoy my movies drenched in blood and I love to feel uncomfortable when I'm reading a book, but there is something about torture for torture's sake that just leaves me wanting more. "The Girl Next Door" straddled that line. I realize that the book makes a comment about what normal people are capable of, and how madness can be contagious, but the bulk of the book read like a play by play of childhood torture. It wasn't scary per se, just really disturbing and gross.

When Hostel came out, Jen and I were there the opening weekend and left a bit disturbed because we hadn't really seen a lot like it before, but now Torture Horror is all over the place. When I went back and watched it again, it didn't hold up for me, even with all the nude college women. Most horror out there tends to be a great scary premise (people paying money to torture and kill others, children locked in the basement, serial killer setting bizarre traps, etc.) but then doesn't hold up because there isn't enough story to string together the cool visuals and splatters.

After reading reviews of Jack Ketchum's work, I was super excited to read him. I've been waiting to find someone who is able to twist the whole horror genre into a new form of literature. I want to read a book that is dense with story and character that happens to be filled with mind numbing gore. It would be so great to have the reading population confused by a piece of writing that is so strong and beautiful on one hand but also happens to have a page long descriptions of graphic murder in it. I was hoping "The Girl Next Door" would be it, but it wasn't. Not by a damn sight.

Still, I did like some of his writing style. He sticks to blunt short prose, which appeals to me because writing like that is something I'm not able to do at all. It was good enough for me to start reading his first book last night, and I might find that more to my liking. I think it will read more like a story and less like a historical account. Plus, it seems to be about children who hunt and kill people for food, so it won't feel quite so rooted in reality. It will be a nice switch to read something where kids aren't the victims. Dinner is served.

Friday, May 23, 2008


I woke up this morning ready for the weekend. I don't know why it is, but I work a short week like I did this week, it feels twice as long. We've got big plans for the weekend, and I imagine we'll get to most of it. As long as it includes time for Assassin's Creed and Rachet and Clank (purchased during lunch today) I'll be a happy man.

I stepped out on the front porch this morning to get a look at our Lilac bush. We've been clipping small bunches of the blooms and putting them in a vase on our kitchen table. The smell fills our entire first floor. It's always been Jen's favorite part of Spring, and it's quickly becoming mine. This morning though, I could see that the tiny purple blooms are starting to drift to the mulch below, decorating the dirt as if for a party. I was sorry to see them start to go, but I'm looking forward to summer. The trees in our neighborhood have given up the tentative leafing, and are rolling full steam in the longer days. The spring flowers are starting to fade to make room for June's new blooms, and I think we're all just waiting for it to finally get into the 80's and stay there.

My lunch hour reminded me of my morning. After running to Gamestop to trade in some old PS2 stuff for the two new games noted above, I headed over to a strip mall near the office for a cigar. Calorie free and delicious, I love smoking a cigar when it's cool out in the evening around a fire, which is exactly what I'm planning to do Saturday night. When I got out of the car, I noticed that the sidewalk and curb was covered with flower petals. The local flower shop had evidently taken leftovers and decorated the sidewalk in front of their storefront. I felt like a bride on her special day. Well, at least like a bride headed to a Cigar Shop that luckily had a new box of Cohibas stocked. A dirty, stinking, cigar-smoking bride.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Jogging With Bob Ross, Dwight Schrute and Jesus

It's true. Last night I jogged with all of them. Also, with Willie Nelson and Kevin Smith. Out of our little group, I outran some and was beaten by others. It was still fun.

So yeah, I got Wii Fit last night. After getting through the initial weigh-in / BMI calculations and being given my Wii Age (6 years older than my real age - ouch!) I started playing. I started out with some running in place thinking that would be a decent way to get my heart started. I started jogging, and that's when all of the Mii's that we imported started showing up all around me in jogging outfits. Jen would go jogging by with Willie Nelson and it would just crack me up. Good stuff.

Wii Fit seems like it will be fun, and I'll totally work it into the routine. Some of the games were a good time and pretty addictive. Some were just OK. I think my biggest complaint will be all of the starting and stopping. I'm hoping that once I get through some of the basic levels of the game, the exercises will toughen up a bit. Still, it is just a game. If I want to work out I can go for a bike ride and lift some weights.

Unnatural Fear Number One

Sometimes, I'm awake and I'm waiting for it. I'm expecting it.

It will be a thousand thunderclaps at once or a shotgun blast in your head bouncing back and forth between your ears. It will be the sound of my bedroom door being kicked down in the middle of the night, splintering, the frame fractured and seeping its pine scent. Gabriel's horn will roll through the hills, beating the lush green mountains to dust and leveling humanity.

I flinch with each dropped box or gunshot that rings out in the dark, honestly worried it will be the thing that finally tips the scales out of our favor, setting flame to the short fuse rooted in the powder keg of night. The explosion will push across the universe, no atmosphere to slow its path. Its light will bloom so intensely from behind the sun that the warm rays of sunlight will be replaced with a thin caustic shadow withering plants and scattering the animals.

I've been waiting since I was a kid. I would lay there in the night, door cracked allowing light from the hallway to spill into the room, waiting for the crash..the explosion. Logically I don't really believe it will ever come, and I get the feeling that I keep imagining it so that if it ever does happen, I won't be surprised. I'll be the one person who knew.

And I'm still that kid. Sometimes, there in the night I still wonder when it will happen. When will the sky be torn apart leaving us to float in its blood? When will the monumental sound of everything stopping all at once rip us screaming from sleep?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Weekend Update with Pat Robertson's Lust Puppet

Playing a bit of catch up today. The Mrs. and I traveled northward to visit some friends, do some "work", and partake of a pubcrawl through Historic Northeast Minneapolis.

It all started Thursday night with some dog walking for the good folks at CHA for a couple hours. From there we rushed home to pack, which we kind of did. Because we didn't finish, my lovely wife had me up at 3:00 AM to finish packing and get over to the airport in time to hop a 6:00ish flight to Minneapolis.

Spent the day at the office, then puttered around the city picking up groceries that we needed that don't travel well (stupid diet), and then finally setting up shop at to work from home for the rest of the afternoon. We sat out on the patio as it was a beautiful 70 something degrees and I got fried to a crisp. I had to go all the way to MN to get my first sunburn of the year. Yea.

The next day was the Crawl, and it went pretty much as you would expect it to. People came, drank, crawled, fell in and out of love, and peed on the sides of bars. Success. At the center of the party, one man stood strong. Like an experienced captain leading us into battle, he understood that we might not all make it through the night, but worked tirelessly to make sure none were thirsty and all had name tags. Some would say his early vigor was his own undoing, but not me. I was proud to be associated with the man. Here is a grainy cell phone shot of our leader enjoying what I like to think of as a rare moment of solace:

The best thing that happened, actually occurred while we were killing time on Sunday while waiting for our flight. We were talking about video games and televisions when Jen spoke up:

"You mean if you get a Playstation 3 you would be able to play games, and it has that Blueray thingie built in so you can shut up about two things at once?"

"That is correct, oh dearest love of my life. Your understanding of the situation is only exceeded by your beauty."

"Then just get it. Geez."

I already had yesterday off from work Monday, so at 8:15 am I was standing at the back of Target paying for a new Playstation 3 and a copy of Grand Theft Auto. I got home, did laundry, cleaned the house a bit and logged over eight hours on the most amazingly beautiful game ever created. This may well be the last time you hear from me as I will be squirrelled away in my den, forehead pressed to the screen, furiously rising through the ranks of the Russian mob.

I'll miss you.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Strange Days Have Found Us

Busy busy. For the most part, it's all boring day to day stuff. We go to work to make money to buy books and movies that we don't have time to watch lately because we're too busy exercising or running around. Seriously, I have a copy of "There Will Be Blood" that I bought the day it came out that I still haven't seen.

I haven't finished a book in weeks, and the pile of stuff I have to be read is starting to overflow. Recently I picked up a handful of Jack Ketchum's paperbacks (haven't read anything yet, but appears to be pretty intense horror), some healthy grilling cookbooks, and "The Raw Shark Texts" by Steven Hall. Imaginary monsters feeding on your memories? Yes, please.

I think by far the most interesting thing in our little lives came in the form of a threat posted by a sophomore high school student against the school my wife works at. Tuesday was her birthday, and I had flowers and balloons delivered to her, but found it odd by mid-afternoon when she hadn't called to say that she had received them. I called under the guise of wanting to talk about something else and I get:

"Hey. Got the flowers. They're nice. Gotta run. Love you, bye." She didn't take a breath nor did she give me a chance to say anything. Click. She hung up.

Thirty minutes later I call home to check messages and hear the Superintendent's automated message saying that students had been sent home, all evening activities had been cancelled and the following day's classes were cancelled as well due to a threat made against the school. Immediately you think it's some fucking knucklehead calling in a bomb threat or otherwise being douche, but part of you wonders. I immediately thought of the grainy black and white surveillance video from Columbine I saw, and wished she'd call to tell me what's going on.

So, it turns out (per another automated call received from the school tonight) that the kid had made the "threat" in an online forum, saying he needed grenades, but had guns already. He posted that he thought he could kill 60 people before he was taken out and that this was set to go down Thursday. The FBI tracked his IP address back to Columbus, and had a heart to heart with the boy to see exactly what the deal was.

He was just a kid being stupid. There were no guns. There was no real threat.

When things like this happen though, my imagination always gets carried away. I spend some time at the school to proctor ACT and SAT tests for extra cash, and to be honest, the place can be a bit creepy. I think maybe it's high schools in general that can be creepy when you aren't used to them. I pictured kids running down the institutional-green hallways, and the front office where my wife works under siege. I know Jen did too.

We tried not to get too carried away with the whole ordeal, but when she called me from the office to catch me up on what was going on, I could hear that she was upset. To have a place you consider yours, a safe place, be threatened and suddenly not be a place of comfort is unsettling. Even knowing the kid was just a bored punk online won't set things back to the way they were right away. This will probably be with her for a while, and I hate that for her. Hopefully it won't be too long before it's at least at the back of her mind though.

Enough of that.

This weekend I get to partake in the first adult beverage I've had in almost four months. I will be with some professional drinkers, so I will have to take my time and really pace myself, but I can't wait. More than anything it'll just be good to get away from here for a few days and hang with some good folks. Somewhere along the way I'm going to finish the fifth (sixth?) draft of a short story that I did about a man and his dog. Aw. Sounds wholesome, huh? It's not.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Big Times in the Small City

If all goes according to plan, we've got a pretty big weekend ahead of us. I'm already looking forward to work on Monday. It'll give me a chance to relax.

Tonight, the fine students of the school Jen works at are putting on a production of "The Laramie Project". I'm actually really looking forward to it since the school is pretty well respected for their Drama Department. Plus, it's just good to support the students, so even if it sucks we'll still get to feel like better people for investing in the future of Central Ohio Community Theater. Ten years from now, we'll stumble drunkenly into the Medieval Times and I'll get to yell "I knew that jouster when he was in high school!"

After the play, it'll be time for laundry. This will be awesome.

Tomorrow morning we're up early to go for our favorite hike. We're hoping to get to Hocking Hills around 8:30 or 9:00 so we have the park pretty much to ourselves. It's always worth the trip, and with all the rain this week it should be a challenge too. We'll take extra clothes, but if I go face first into a mud puddle I promise to post a pic. Otherwise, if you want to see what Hocking Hills looks like, you can check out this post .

We should be able to get back around noon, we'll clean up and head to my brother's place out in the country. Once there, we're going for yet another walk while looking for mushrooms. It's really just an excuse to have something to do, and if we find some mushrooms, all the better.

(Note: We will be searching for edible varieties that do not contain psilocybin. We're thinking of something good to go with grilled chicken, not tripping balls. I think most of you know me, but just in case I wanted to get that clear. Previous postings (that may or may not be fiction) may cloud the issue, so...there you go. No tripping for Pat Robertson's Lust Puppet.)

Once we have loaded up with what I am sure will be no mushrooms, we'll head back and hang out at my brother's place for the night. I plan on sitting around the fire pit and puffing down a delicious Cohiba.

Sunday morning/ afternoon will be a run to The North Market for locally grown grocery goodness (and other alliterations) followed with some shopping. Jen and I are both in dire need of clothing that doesn't have to be kept in place with straps and buckles. After that, we're off to see The Reverend Horton Heat at The Newport Music Hall.

I haven't been to the Newport in years, but back in the day I saw the majority of my shows there. It is a dump. The bathrooms usually have three inches of standing water in them, it's a bit smelly and stuffy, and will probably one day burn to the ground because of electrical problems, but it has a warm place in my heart. It's historic because it's the oldest continually operating rock club in the US. The place holds less than 3000 people legally, but has been visited by Pink Floyd, The Stones, and pretty much everyone else you can think of.

It's not that I'm super into seeing The Reverend (although it'll be fun), but I won the tickets from the good folks at WCBE and will make good use of them.

So, I'll check in next week and list all of the stuff that we didn't do that we thought we would. I might have to swap something out for some Mario Kart time.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Summertime Rolls

Hungry for the sun, people start shedding their clothes this time of year. Sometimes, unable to wait for true warmth, you can see students in spaghetti straps shivering on street corners. Today though, while shopping at lunch, I saw my favorite sign of Spring: The flowered sun dress.

Just like there are certain clothes that let you know the warm months are here, there are certain songs that scream "Spring" or "Summer". For some people that might be "Walking on Sunshine" or something like that. For me, it's a little known song called "Big Dipper" by Cracker. (Yes, they are the band responsible for that "Hey, hey, hey...It's like being stoned song". Put that fact aside for now.)

It's totally worth the .99 if you want to check it out at iTunes. I can't think of another song that sounds more like a slow summer afternoon than this. Think I'll listen to it now...

"Big Dipper"

Cigarrettes and carrot juice
Get yourself a new tattoo
For those sleaveless days of June
I'm sitting on the cafe Zeno steps
With a book I haven't started yet
Watching all the girls walk by

Could I take you out
I'd be yours without a doubt
On that big dipper
And if the sound of this it frightens you
We could play it real cool
And act somewhat indifferent

And hey June
Why'd you have to come
Why'd you have to come around so soon
I wasn't ready for all this nature
The terrible green-green grass
The violent blooms of flower dresses
And afternoons that make me sleepy

But we could wait awhile
Before we push that dog turn-style
Into the passage
The thousands they have tread
And others sometimes fled
Before the turn came
And we could wait our lives
Before a chance arrives
Before the passage
From the top you can see Monteray
And think about San Jose
Although I know it's not that pleasant

And hey Jim
Brother of the famous Jack
So he likes to say, "Lucky bastard"
He's sitting on the cafe Zeno steps
With a girl that I'm not over yet
Watching all the world go by
"Boy you're looking bad
Did I make you feel that sad?
I'm honestly flattered."
But if she asks me out
I'd be hers without a doubt
On that big dipper

Cigarettes and carrot juice
Get yourself a new tattoo
For those sleeveless days of June
I'm sitting on the cafe Zeno steps
I haven't got the courage yet (3x)


A Good Idea

Every once in awhile an idea for a story comes out of no where and just seems so right. The other night, I was reading through Blood Meridian (Or The Evening Redness in the West) by Cormac McCarthy and one of his sentences jumped out at me. One of the characters in the story was telling a story about a father who murdered a man. The sentence that grabbed me was about the man's son, who grew up to also become "a killer of men". Immediately, I had an idea for a new story.

And not just any story, mind you. I think this is The Story. This may be the one that breaks the short story size line and become a big-boy book. All I have to do is exhibit the intestinal fortitude to get through editing a few more short stories that need massive amounts of love, and then I can allow myself to get started on the new project.

Related side note: Thanks to TKT for turning me on to Cormac McCarthy in the first place. I started with "The Road" (don't ask...just buy) and haven't been able to stop since. I have a shelf full of his stuff to get to, and am loving all of it. You're a good man, Tappity. The first round is on me.


In other news, I got my tickets for Radiohead coming up August 4th at Blossom Music Center. I was placing my order four minutes after the tickets went on sale, and still all I could get were lawn seats. Ebay to the rescue. I have now upgraded my seats to the Pit which is at the very front of the Pavilion. If Thom Yorke were to look down, I would be close enough for him to see what a dorky fanboy I can be. I plan on living up to my potential.

This will be my second time seeing them play live, and I can't wait. I absolutely love live music. I don't get out to see bands like I used to, but I love it when I do. Thinking about the upcoming Radiohead show got me thinking about bands I've seen live, and I decided to list them out. Some were shows I got dragged to, some I drug other people to, but I managed to have a good time at almost all of them. The list includes opening bands and headliners. It's all I can remember at this time, but it feels like there should be a few more. In no order whatsoever:

Cypress Hill
The Flaming Lips
Sonic Youth
Ani Difanco (x2)
Silversun Pickups
The Cliks
The Miranda Sound
VHS or Beta
The Whigs
The Duke Spirit
The Whiles
Ben Folds
Blues Traveler
Great White (The first concert I ever went to)
Bad Company
The Damn Yankees
Teenage Fanclub
The Afghan Whigs
The Dead Milkmen
Faith No More
The Gin Blossoms (x2...seriously)
The Spin Doctors
Van Halen (x2...seriously)
The Rolling Stones
Lenny Kravitz
Pink Floyd
Smashing Pumpkins
The Frogs
Blue October (x2)
Shiny Toy Guns
The Damnwells
The Beta Band
The Cowboy Junkies
The Icarus Line
Marilyn Manson
Nine Inch Nails
Suicidal Tendencies
The Evil Mothers
Rollins Band
Radiohead (soon to be x2)

Friday, May 2, 2008

Gimme Shelter

Jen-E-Jen and I decided to try to get a bit more involved in our community, and we're starting that up by volunteering at our local animal shelter. We found a joint called Citizen's for Humane Action ( ) , who are staffed by approximately 95% volunteers. Wednesday we did Orientation, and then worked our first shift last night. It was really fun. When we showed up we were pretty much put straight to work walking dogs.

This shelter gets each dog out of their dog run multiple times per day. They have a rotating group of volunteers that come in and take them out. It gives them a chance to go sniff some flowers, bark at bicyclists on the paved bike trail right behind the shelter, and roll around in the grass. Last night, there were enough volunteers that every dog was able to get out for 20-30 minutes each. After that, we helped two of the more established volunteers, Ed & Julie, get the dogs settled in for the night and get their breakfast ready.

The cool thing about this was just being around people that are passionate about something. We have been so isolated and hermit-like the past few years, that it's refreshing to be around people that are inspiring. It's addictive. On the drive home, we found ourselves talking about pitching in on other projects for the shelter. I think I'd like to get involved in the Fundraising Committee since they have some cool events that they schedule throughout the year. I think I could learn a lot about Event Planning while doing some good at the same time.

In the meantime though, I'm just going to roll around in the grass with some dogs.