Friday, August 28, 2015

Xenophobic Hollywood

Our world has come a long way regarding certain hot topics. Women's rights (just not in the work force), racism (kinda' depends on what state you live in), homophobia (Ireland, of all countries, is leading the pack).
But, there's still a fear, a deep hatred, toward aliens from worlds beyond. No one trespasses worse than Hollywood.

Scoff if you will, but if it pleases the court, let me present the evidence. The truth is out there, just not presented accurately by movie and TV moguls.

Hollywood presents aliens in two--count 'em, two--different ways:

1) The alien who wants to eat human's faces;

2) The alien who starts out wanting to eat human faces, but due to the nobility of the human species changes its' mind.

Yow. Not a wide spectrum of range there.

Actually, I'm more down with the face-eating alien stereotype. At least the alien knows what it wants. What kind of wishy-washy alien truly examines humans under a microscope and decides they're worthy? To the point of derailing their impending earth invasion to the detriment of their own kind?

Really? I mean, if I were a B.E.M., I'd probably lean toward the eating option. You don't hear about racial strife on the planet Galortica, a well-adjusted and hungry lot.
Yet Hollywood keeps perpetuating the ugly myths. I hate to think that somewhere Droolax and Septeen-17 are sitting on a sofa, checking out Earth's sci-fi shows.

"Droolax, pass the popcorn."

"Yo, check it out! On this entertainment program, the Earthlings are calling us aliens. Us! Gah! We've been around for billions of quadlaxitives longer."

"No kidding. These puny earthlings are so disgusting with their gangly four limbs and cow-like two eyes. I'd eat them, but it'd just be too gross. Buncha' bottom dwellers."

Don't get me going on the "characterization" of aliens on TV. Of course, they're always humanoid. I dare you, Hollywood, to try and create a true character of a gaseous or blobby nature (outside of the hungry kind, of course).

Aliens on TV are always void of emotion. Hollywood's idea of alien characterization, since Earth has a universal monopoly on emotion.

"Captain, what are these strange droplets of moisture welling in the corners of my visual orbs?"

And that's usually a break-through moment for the alien character. Then, commercial break! Back to emotion ground zero. While the humans smirk knowingly like smug parents around toddlers. Sometimes aliens say the silliest things, don't ya' know?

C'mon, Hollywood. Let's give aliens a chance.

(Of course I reserve the right to change my mind if an invading alien decides to eat my face.)

For a frighteningly different sorta tale, check out Ghosts of Gannaway. (No aliens, but ghosts. Lots and lots of scary ghosts). And since my publisher, Books We Love, has temporarily gone insane, the book's on sale for .99!

Friday, August 21, 2015

A Zillion Socks

Here at Twisted Tales From Tornado Alley, there's no such thing as a stupid topic. No, that's a bald-faced lie. But it hasn't stopped me yet. Hence, the saga of a zillion socks (a cautionary tale of math, greed, footwear and humanity's place in the universe).
The other day I was grousing about not finding any of my favorite socks (What? Don't judge me!). My wife says, "Well, what'd you do with them?"

"I've been wearing them," I said. "You bought, like, a zillion pair!"

"Hardly. A zillion pair of socks wouldn't even fit in this house."

I had to stop and think for a minute. A zillion pair of socks. Wow. Sorta' made me feel small in the bigger picture of things. Not only regarding bountiful footwear, but in the cosmos itself. I was but a microscopic creature when compared to a mighty kingdom of socks. It was mind-boggling, awe-inspiring; my little brain couldn't even begin to conceive so many socks crammed into one place.  Sometimes I think God, the fates, or whatever you choose to believe in, maintains the balance of the universe, and hence our sanity, by dropping extraneous socks into a black hole at the back of our dryers. Some things man just isn't meant to see. I brought the number down before my head exploded.

"Okay," I said, "how about a billion socks? Would a billion pair of socks fit into our house?"


"Well, surely a million socks would work. Could we squeeze in a million pair of socks?"


"Let's get shopping!"

That idea, of course, was shot down. But I got excited when we started trying to figure out the equation. Cubic square feet of house divided by a tightly compressed pair of socks. Or something. Once we realized how much math was involved, the shiny luster sorta tarnished. And we got back to business. As you can tell, a very busy Saturday.

But there are moments, sometimes late at night, when I'll wistfully look about the house and just imagine the wonders of having a zillion socks crammed from floor to ceiling. Awesome!

For other flights of imagination and suspense, check out my Amazon author's page.

While you're there explore the wonders and mysteries of Gannaway, Kansas, in my new historical ghost story, Ghosts of Gannaway.

Friday, August 14, 2015

A mall is no place for a middle-aged, out-of-shape guy

When my daughter and two nieces conspired to go the the mall, they asked if I wanted to go.

Did I want to go? Absolutely not. The mall, to me, is a place to be avoided. Full of women's clothing stores and various lotions, ointment and holy-hell-priced tea boutiques.

But I relented, bowing down to the peer pressure of "#familybonding." Plus my nieces claimed (a mighty big stake) they wanted to try Sushi. Well. Mall Sushi isn't probably the best introduction, but I went with it anyway.

Thirty minutes in, sweat started rolling off my shaved head. I huffed and puffed like I wanted to blow the whole place down. I kinda' did, too.

I'd entered a new era, one that hadn't waited for me. I became a dinosaur, a relic of a past age. Teenage girls cruised the halls, bags of expensive clothing dangling from their wrists like charm bracelets. Clusters of energetic boys, wearing shorts far below the level of common sense, hooted and hollered like monkeys. When I saw the price for the three girls to ride the carousel, my wallet weighed down my shorts nearly as far as my teenage brethren. Security guards eyeballed me warily, a Sesame Street game of "one of these things doesn't belong here."

I followed the girls into high-priced and trendy clothing stores, feeling out-of-sorts whenever the young clerks (I wear underwear older than them) approached. I considered asking if they had XL sized men's skinny jeans, but it sorta defeated the whole purpose, I think.

The food court was a trap in waiting. Acoustically amplified voices reverbed off the high ceiling. A multitude of fried foods awaited the unwary traveler, all the kiosks lined up like gaudy shuckster tents at a carnival. And for some reason, the cart-driving janitor had it in for me, ramming his vehicle into the back of my legs, not once, but twice. I suppose I provided a target too good to ignore. He didn't offer an apology, just a dumb, blank look. The look I'd grown accustomed to. Message received. I didn't belong.

And the Sushi, oh, the Sushi. My nieces were predisposed to hate it, something I suspected. But after shelling out big bucks for a tiny tray, these were the results:

My mall adventure was a painful lesson. It had me questioning my "middle-aged" status.
When did I get old? Granted, even as a youngster, I've never enjoyed going to the mall. I've always thought of shopping as a necessary evil, not an event. Get in, grab, get out. Eyes straight ahead, know what you want. Don't turn around, lest you turn to stone.

But the hits kept on coming that day. Later, at the grocery store, the check-out girl tried to ring me up on a senior discount. I haven't yet hit that very unmagical age. So I fought, very vocally, to spend more money on my hemorrhoid creme.That'll show 'em.

For a different kind of horror, check out my new book: Ghosts of Gannaway.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Scarfing up Scares with Author L. X. Cain

I’m dragging one of my fave authors back to Twisted Tales From Tornado Alley today. Shout out a howdy-do to Lexa Cain. Not only does Lexa write awesome fiction, she’s a lounge singer living in Egypt who loves horror. How cool is that? Fan-boys unite! Lexa’s got a bunch of awesome short stories out now and I wanted to hit her up (not too hard!) about them.

Lexa, first of all, after my gushtastic introduction, can I use you as a Femme Fatale in a future book?

Sure. Anything for you. *wink-wink, nudge-nudge* (Gotta play up that Femme Fatale side.)

Let’s start with my favorite of your trilogy of terror, The Inter-Galactic Gourmet. Yak a little bit about it.

Well, there’s an average, number-crunching cubicle worker—only she’s not—who meets a lost little boy—only he’s not. One thing there is though, is an alien invasion, which doesn’t go well for Earthlings or invaders.

Everyone loves a good cannibalistic, sci-fi story now and again (or should). But I really appreciated the irreverently dark humor involved. Right up my alley. Do your tastes in writing and reading run to the unhealthy? Should we be worried?

You should always be worried.

After reading your excellent first novel, Soul Cutter, we found out a few things that scare Lexa, the author (snakes, spiders, drowning, dark caves, heights, the works). So what about The Inter-Galactic Gourmet scares you more? Cannibalistic aliens or public transportation?

Public Transportation. The opening scene is taken directly from my experiences on the NY subway system when I used to live there. And what Cynthia, the main character, does, is something I always wanted to do but didn’t have the guts or the strength. Nice to live vicariously through my characters!

The cover reminds me of cheesy sci-fi flicks from the ‘50’s. An inspiration?

Those old sci-fi flicks are hilarious! Even the newer “Mars Attacks” has the same sort of tongue-in-cheek humor, and I tried to capture that aspect of my story with the cover.

We’re moving onto Biggun. Everyone’s got a zombie tale in them, something I believe (and wanna trend: #everyone’s zombietale or something). I wrote mine (Shameless plug: Zombie Rapture). This ‘un, Biggun, is yours. And it’s a winner. I gotta say the title fooled me; the “Biggun” in question wasn’t what I thought it’d turn out to be. What’s the truth behind “Biggun?”

When there are so many zombie tales out there, it’s hard to come up with something interesting, something original for the reader. But I try to make sure all of my works are unique, and the twist in Biggun just came to me. I’ve never seen anyone else do it, either.

I think the nature of zombie tales is one of despair, here especially. I don’t want to give anything away, but the ending in particular is downbeat, hearkening back to George Romero’s original Night of the Living Dead, the zombie king of all entertainment. I really loved what you did with your zombiepocalypse in such a few pages. Any chances of a full-length zombie tale by Lexa?

Despite the fact that zombies are super popular, what with “The Walking Dead” and all, I prefer to write original monsters. No zombie novel in my future.

Okay, quick zombie throwdown survey:
*How do you like your zombies? Running or shambling? Sentient or dumber than lawn furniture?

Old is gold. I like them shambling and stupid.

*If you woke up in bed next to a zombie, what would you say?

Could you hit the “snooze” please? Just ten more minutes…

*Who would kill more zombies? Jason Statham, Donald Trump’s stupidity or the music of Slim Whitman?

That one’s too close to call!

Sorry. Back to real questions. In Biggun, the main character is a mother, determined to protect her “little ‘un.” Nothing’ll deter her, certainly not zombies. Where’d the inspiration for this character come from?

I figured in a real zombie apocalypse, the hardest hit would be the “average” people in rural areas. So my main character is an old-fashioned stay-at-home mom who has a baby and goes to church socials—until she’s forced to kill the nice little ladies of the quilting circle because they’ve become bloodthirsty zombies.

Finally, let’s talk The Mission. Readers, imagine Stephen King twisting an adolescent Tremors. Bam.  I love coming of age tales, particularly when monsters are involved! Every boy should grow up with at least one serious monster incident.  I kinda wonder where your enthusiasm for all things spooky comes from, Lexa. Not being sexist, of course, but let’s talk skullduggery…

It’s very unusual for me to write a male main character, but the idea of sneaking out to a “forbidden” place just to see what’s there seemed more boy than girl. Thus Cody was born. 

I love your prose, Lexa, very nice, bordering on poetic at times, especially strange when considering the morbid subject matter. What’s up with that? Intentionally turning horror on its side? Or just damn lucky you’re a good writer, no matter what the genre?

I believe any book should be as well-written as the author can make it no matter what the genre. And I’m not a good writer—but I’m a very good reviser. lol

In The Mission, I think, the landscape’s pretty much the main character. All about the ambiance and setting. Again, it reads like you’re writing from experience. So, how does a singing writer living in Egypt know how to write about the dry lands of Texas? 
I’ve never been in the American West, but who hasn’t seen hundreds of westerns with John Wayne and the like? I think a writer can write about anywhere they can imagine, they don’t have to have actually been there.

I’ve had the pleasure of reading most of Lexa’s work-in-progress, Bloodwalker. Tell the folks about this absolutely awesome book. I can’t wait for readers to discover this creeptacular circus epic.

I think the most exciting thing about Bloodwalker is that it’s about a clown that creeps out at night from the circus and steals away little children. Since the circus travels around Eastern Europe, and there are children missing from different towns, no one’s figured out that the culprit lives in the circus yet—except one man, and he’s determined to find the killer.

So you have a scary clown, from a creepy circus, who’s killing kids. What more could you want in a horror novel?

Perhaps a heroine whose job is to prepare dead bodies and who knows all the ins and outs of evacuating bowels and sewing eyes shut. She’s a Bloodwalker. Someone’s murdering other Bloodwalkers—and she’s next.
Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Stuart!  

Readers can find me at:

LX Cain on Facebook:
LX Cain on Twitter:
Biggun, The Mission, and The Inter-Galactic Gourmet on: