Friday, May 25, 2018

Off to the Amazon!

I know it's kinda crazy, but my wife and I are off to the Amazon on June 22nd.
(I don't know what this creature is, but, dear God, don't let me run into it! It's Grandpa mated with a cannibalistic seal!)

First thing people ask: "What, the internet stuperstore?"

Why, no, you silly millenials, we're off to the True Deal.

Second thing folks ask: "Why?"

Damn good question.

I'm thoroughly informed. I watch a lot of movies. Very, very bad movies. So bad I should be ashamed of myself. But they keep me up-to-date on reality.

Through my intensive cinematic research, I've learned that the Amazon is host to cannibals, pythons, cobras, tarantulas, strange voodoo cults, piranhas, zombies, bugs that fly in your ear and lay mind-dissolving larvae, and of course--my personal favorite--parasites that love to swim up penises ("peni?"). 

No problem on that last item. My bro-in-law wisely told me to wear a condom all the time.

Guy's a genius.

However, strange thing is my wife absolutely hates spiders.  So we're heading off to the Amazon (sigh...not the superstore), home of tarantulas. Even my doctor recently told me, "Good luck with that, man." Not extremely comforting in his sarcasm. (Forthcoming blog post about THAT guy). I digress. My wife wants me to protect her from tarantulas. They're not exactly my favorite critter either. I imagine we'll both be shrieking like monkeys in the rain forest, possibly causing an unnatural disruption of the order of things.

Preparation for this trip has been hellish. I never knew so many vaccinations existed. Yellow fever? Don't know what it is, but I don't wanna turn yellow. Rabies? Good God, you mean an angry monkey may bite me?

Anyway, if I should get eaten (inside or out) via animals/parasites/zombies/cannibals or die in a nasty helicopter crash, I've chosen this blog post as the perfect venue for my last will and testament.

Everything that's worth a hang should go to my daughter. But ignore the third drawer in the dresser upstairs. I repeat, ignore! Burn it, all contents complete and get rid of my murder suit.

Thanks!

Oh, you're still here? Hey, if you'd like a kinder, yet scarier (if possible) vacation trip, check into the Dandy Drop Inn: 
Checking out will kill you!


Friday, May 18, 2018

The Most Neglected Color: Deep Urine

"Stuart," people often ask me at cocktail parties, "what's your favorite color?"

Immediately, with a well-packed can of confidence and an extended sophisticated pinky, I fire back, "Why, Deep Urine, of course."

Probably why we don't get invited to too many cocktail parties.

But, as a former artist, I feel the need to defend my aesthetic choice.

Deep Urine is rich, very much so.  A luxurious, welcoming yellow so deep it's almost orange. There's nothing quite like Deep Urine.

Deep Urine is an enticing color, very open in its texture, inviting it its warmth, and sophisticated in its sumptuousness.

I'm so taken by the color that during the holidays, when everyone else dons reds and greens, I'm proudly flying my urine-splashed sweater.

Clearly, Deep Urine's the color to paint a nursery for any parents-to-be who wish to be surprised by their baby's gender. I mean, in this day and age, what speaks more of anti-sexism than the color of Deep Urine?

Ladies and gents, fly your Deep Urine flag high! Let it rip! Splash it everywhere! Make your choice obvious! The world is counting on you.

Allow me to make a splash with my dark suspense thriller, Dread and Breakfast. While the interiors of the titular bread and breakfast aren't painted in my much-loved Deep Urine, it is a cozy place to...um...maybe it's not so cozy, after all.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Remember when comic-book geeks WEREN'T cool?

I sure do! As a kid, I lived through the disdain, the bullying, the ridicule of being a comic-book kid.

A shove off my bike because I was thumbing through a much-valued issue of Spiderman? A hard-earned, four-color badge of honor. The mockery and laughter when I was caught buying the latest issue of X-Men at the local drug store? Just part of the price to enjoy my fantastical dream worlds, true believer! Punched in the school hallway because I had Wolverine stickers emblazoned all over my notebook? No pain, no gain! (Although to have Wolverine's adamantium claws at that moment would've been helpful. *Snikt.*)

Sigh.

My torment didn't stop with the school bullies either. My two brothers--one younger, one older--ridiculed me at every opportunity while they pursued worthless pursuits like football. Matter of fact, my nieces make fun of me now, because their dad tells them all I used to do was sit in my bedroom and read comic books. (Soooo not true...I used to watch a lot of old movies, too.)

Honestly, as a loner, at the time I didn't think much of the fallout. Just knew I enjoyed comic books. But to everyone else, I was a superhero-reading outcast. Oh, the shame. Even my parents were all, "What's wrong with Stuart?"

Back in the day, as long as you were under the age of twelve, it was considered acceptable to read comic-books. But I carried the tradition on into my teens, even my college days. Along with reading Salinger, Hemingway, and Faulkner, I thrilled to the writings of Stan Lee and studied the artwork of Jack Kirby. 

But--shamefully, eventually--I bowed down to peer pressure. I kept my comic-book reading a deep, dark secret. While most guys my age were stashing away their porn collection, I hid comic-books under my bed. If I ever got so lucky as to invite a girl back to my room, I made sure comics weren't in evidence, hastily shoved into the closet.

Such was the shame my family and "friends" instilled in me.
Today, of course, it's an altogether different story.  No matter your age, it's absolutely cool to read comics. The geeks have inherited the earth. Hollywood banks on comic fans by plugging billions of dollars into superhero movies. Comicon has become one of the biggest, best, baddest commercial outlets for the entertainment industry. Commercials, clothing, food, for God's sake, are tailored around the comic industry! You can get a Thor taco!

Instead of a Thor taco, I used to eat a fist sandwich for my comic-book sensibilities. Me and my kind paved the way for you comic-reading hipster posers. You're welcome.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Naked? WHAT was God thinking?

"Do these clothes make me look fat?"

A question I asked my wife recently.

Of course the real answer would be, "No, your clothes don't make you look fat. You are fat." Thank God my wife knows how to choose her words carefully.

I don't know how it happened. Or when it happened. But, last year, I came across a photo that showed me stuffed into a sweater like a tightly packed sausage. Yow!
YAH! That CAN'T be me! Right? RIGHT?

The scales lied, claiming I rang in just under 300 pounds. No way! How come I never saw this in the mirror? Surely, we bought our mirror from the local carnival fun-house!

So, my wife stuck me on a hellish diet. Thus far I've lost sixty pounds with another twenty-five to go. Ye gads.

There's good news and there's bad news. 

I've been exercising like crazy. So crazy one of my knees wants to pack it in and my back hates the act of standing and walking now. 

Clothes no longer fit. "Look, honey," I said to my wife while parading around in an old sweater, "this sweater somehow got longer."

"Yeah, that's not what happened."  (Okay, sometimes my wife does ignore her inner censor.)

The other down side to losing weight is I have to go clothes shopping. I'd rather have root canal surgery than try on clothes. In the past, I'd just pick something up off the rack I thought might fit and go with it.

"And that's why none of your clothes fit right," says my wise wife. "Ever."

The problem is I'm still a work in progress. So we can't get a ton of clothes that currently fit. Which sucks because in three more months it's back to trying clothes on. Ugh. Still, it'll be nice to have jeans that don't, you know, fall down around my ankles when I walk.

So I've lost sixty pounds. That's good. The clothes we bought look pretty snazzy. That's great. When I get nekkid, though, I still look fat.

"Honey! I look fat when I'm nekkid!" I screamed to my wife. "I look better with clothes on!"

"We all do, dear. That's why clothes were invented."

"No, they were invented because Adam and Eve botched it. They really screwed the pooch on that one. Stupid Adam and Eve," I groused.

Which got me to thinking about the state of being clothed. If Adam and Eve had never taken a bite out of the infamous apple, would we be a civilization running around nekkid? I'm having a hard time thinking what public transit would be like. The health issues alone boggle, absolutely boggle!

What about restaurant servers? I'd probably rather not have soup brought out by some guy with his junk hanging out. 

In Winter, would coats be acceptable? Or would we be so accustomed to nudity, coat-wearers would be seen as aberrant streakers and we'd just accept freezing as natural. 

God's original plan for mankind's natural state of nudity definitely had some potholes in it.

On the other hand, if nudity was the norm, would there ever have been such a thing as body shaming? Would people even understand which bodies were pleasant to behold and which crossed the line? Would we be a nicer society, one where anorexic super models weren't the "norm" people aspire to?

Maybe. But every day I thank God for clothes. Um, even if that wasn't the original plan.

Speaking of nudity, pity poor Wendell, protagonist of my comic thriller, Chili Run. He spends the book in his tighty-whities due to an encounter with some bad hombres. It's too complicated to get into now so just read the book.

Clickety-click-click for nearly nekkid thrills and laughs.


Friday, April 27, 2018

The Wurmbrand-Stuppach Curse by Catherine Cavendish



(Hey, I'm pleased as punch to welcome back one of my favorite gothic horror authors, Catherine Cavendish. Cat always brings the spooky with her well-researched trips into gothic history and this is no exception. Also, her new book, Waking the Ancients, has just been released. It's a sequel to her stellar book, Wrath of the Ancients, and I can't wait to dig into it. So onward!)

I have set a large part of Waking the Ancients in Vienna, Austria where many ghosts and restless spirits walk among the verdant parks and lavish palaces. But Austrian ghosts do not confine themselves to their nation’s imperial capital. They can be found in towns, cities, villages and the depths of the countryside all over this beautiful land.

Some forty nine miles south of Vienna, in a remote spot not far from the Lower Austrian town of Warth, stands one of the most beautiful castles in Austria – Steyersberg. It lies on top of a tall hill and, with its 100 rooms, is an imposing sight.

It has been owned by the same family – the Wurmbrand-Stuppachs – for centuries, but this noble family have been haunted by their past evil deeds and a curse which has followed them down the generations.
The family itself is steeped in legend. It is said the origin of the Wurmbrand (literally ‘fireworm’) part of the name came from an early Countess Stuppach whose husband, the Count, disappeared during the Crusades. The knights were becoming impatient with her, urging her to remarry and bear an heir to secure the succession. She stalled them but when a lindworm (a serpent/dragon hybrid) appeared in the area and began killing indiscriminately, she relented and agreed to marry any man who could kill it. The farmer who did so won her hand and the wedding celebrations lasted a full week.

In common with many castles, this one has a dungeon which has seen much torture and cruelty. During successive wars against Turkish and Hungarian forces –among others – prisoners were held there in appalling conditions, often dying as a consequence, or being murdered. At least one prisoner issued a curse that no male family member would die a natural death until the family name died out.

This certainly seems to have held true as none did die a natural death and the name has indeed died out, certainly as far as ownership of the castle is concerned. With the death of Count Degenhard von Wurmbrand in 1965, the castle passed to his daughter Leonora and is now in the hands of her son, Dr Paul Miller.
Count Degenhard himself had some strange experiences growing up in the castle. As a child of six, he woke one night to see three crows in his bedroom. His younger brother, Ernst, was asleep and their nurse saw nothing. The memory of the strange encounter stuck with him until, many years later, he met an alleged American psychic in Hollywood who asked him who the black entity was that surrounded him. He recommended exorcism and a Buddhist monk tried to perform the ceremony a total of three times. He knew nothing of the Count’s history but described three ragged men who were the ghosts of three who had been sorely wronged by two of the Count’s ancestors. They had been falsely accused of treason, and had been tortured and killed in the castle in 1710 when the castle was indeed in joint ownership.

Count Degenard Wurmbrand was a peace loving man but, on hearing this, revealed that it could explain why he sometimes had an almost overwhelming desire to kill. He then realized something else. The phenomena surrounding the three crows had occurred in the room that just happened to be directly above the dungeon. He immediately ordered that the dungeon be sealed so that to this day no one can access it unless they want to demolish a sturdy wall.
Count Degenhard lived in the USA for a number of years but when he returned, in 1961, he learned that a séance had taken place there in his absence and that a number of the participants had been quite scared. A male clairvoyant had conducted proceedings and all present had heard heavy footsteps. His brother, Count Ernst, was resident in the castle and he claimed these then followed him to his room. Terrified, he asked the medium for advice and the man, with no knowledge of the goings on in the boys’ bedroom all those years earlier went directly to that room, saying he wanted to sleep there. He emerged next morning none the worse for his experience but it was curious he chose that particular room when he could have had any of fifty or so alternatives.

It is possible the curse has now expired, although there are some who say that the three angry prisoners still carry their resentment and thirst for revenge. It is to be hoped that, if that is so, no one lets them out of their walled up dungeon for, if they do - as we know from Dr. Emeryk Quintillus’s example - the consequences could be disastrous.

Waking the Ancients

Legacy In Death
Egypt, 1908
University student Lizzie Charters accompanies her mentor, Dr. Emeryk Quintillus, on the archeological dig to uncover Cleopatra’s tomb. Her presence is required for a ceremony conducted by the renowned professor to resurrect Cleopatra’s spirit—inside Lizzie’s body. Quintillus’s success is short-lived, as the Queen of the Nile dies soon after inhabiting her host, leaving Lizzie’s soul adrift . . .
Vienna, 2018
Paula Bancroft’s husband just leased Villa Dürnstein, an estate once owned by Dr. Quintillus. Within the mansion are several paintings and numerous volumes dedicated to Cleopatra. But the archeologist’s interest in the Egyptian empress deviated from scholarly into supernatural, infusing the very foundations of his home with his dark fanaticism. And as inexplicable manifestations rattle Paula’s senses, threatening her very sanity, she uncovers the link between the villa, Quintillus, and a woman named Lizzie Charters.
And a ritual of dark magic that will consume her soul . . .
You can find Waking the Ancients here:
About the Author:
Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Catherine Cavendish is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. Cat’s novels include the Nemesis of the Gods trilogy - Wrath of the Ancients, Waking the Ancients and Damned by the Ancients, plus The Devil’s Serenade, The Pendle Curse and Saving Grace Devine. Novellas include Linden Manor and Dark Avenging Angel. She lives with her long-suffering husband, and a black cat who has never forgotten that her species used to be worshipped in ancient Egypt. She sees no reason why that practice should not continue. Cat and her family divide their time between Liverpool and a 260-year-old haunted apartment in North Wales.

You can connect with Cat here:













Friday, April 20, 2018

Highway Empress

Some time ago, my wife and I were tooling down Shawnee Mission Parkway, a major KC metro thoroughfare.

She had uncommonly good luck, hitting one green light after another.

I said, "Wow. You're just hitting all the lights."

"It's not luck. I planned it that way," she said.

I thought about it. Then proclaimed her a god of Shawnee Mission Parkway.

"No. Not a god. An empress," she said.

"How about the Queen of Shawnee Mission Parkway?"

"No, I want to be an empress!"

Well, being her loyal slave, who am I to argue?

All bow down to the mighty Empress of Shawnee Mission Parkway! Huzzah!

For a different kind of royalty, check out Killer King, the third book in the Killers Incorporated trilogy, where serial killers go up against an evil giant mega-corporation. You know...business as usual! https://books2read.com/u/bMr9VG
Click for thrills, chills, blood spills & pitch black humor!
 

Friday, April 13, 2018

Halt! You're under citizen's arrest!

Well. That's not the best catch-phrase, but by the time I pull a citizen's arrest, I'll come up with one. I will, oh, yes, I will. Something catchy. See what I did there? "Catchy?"

I'm a bit excited about this. The act of performing a citizen's arrest tops my bucket list.

There are many worthy recipients of a citizen's arrest. I'd love to enforce my brand of martial law onto horrible and dangerous drivers. I mean, the other day I saw an idiot swerving lane to lane with his phone held in front of him. And there's the prob. How do I chase the offending moron down without Starsky and Hutching everyone else on the highway?

A bigger problem might be what to do with the guy once I catch him.

"Excuse me, sir, but I'm placing you under citizen's arrest. Um, could you come get in my car while I drive you to the police station?"

I don't see this working out in my favor. 

I need a better plan. Of course I certainly don't want to start lugging around guns, even though practically everyone in Kansas has one (and damn proud of it! Ram tough!). Not in this day of commonplace, nightmarish shootings. I could see myself adding to the problem. I've got that addictive sort of personality.

Frankly, I might not know where to draw the line in my impending career as a citizen's arrester. What do I do with those buffoons who wear shorts and t-shirts in thirty degree weather? Do I slip handcuffs on everyone who wears two different types of plaid? I'd be maxing the jail cells out with major fashion faux-pas offenders, a wardrobe-angry Charles Bronson. 

According to Ms. Google, my research assistant, I'm allowed to use "reasonable force" should I find it warranted. I'd say the above offenses definitely warrant a good kick to the junk. 

The law doesn't make it easy on we citizen arresters, either. The onus is on the arresting citizen to provide probable cause. Not a problem. One look at my captive's mesh see-through shirt and mullet, the police force will hand me the key to the city.

Now all I've got to do is detain the offender until the cops show up. Easy-peezy. I'll sit on him. I can sit like a champ!
There you have it. My solid plan is in effect. Don't cross me citizens! Stuart's on the job!

I'd probably arrest Zach, the "hero" of my Zach and Zora comic mystery series for being such a dolt. Find out if that arrest is warranted by clicking here!