Friday, November 10, 2017

Happy 242, USMC!

Birthday greetings to all Devil Dogs past and present as I repost an offering from earlier this year.


USMC League

MCRD San Diego Back in the Day

Everything must begin somewhere. And in the United States Marine Corps, my enlisted tour commenced with yellow footprints. Drawn on the asphalt of the recruit depot with heels close together and toes angled out to 45 degrees, they are where I, along with seven other guys from our suburban Chicago neighborhood, stood to begin military service. Then we marched somewhere, boxed up our clothes and mailed them home, coming to the realization that our new life would be different from drinking beer behind a bowling alley.

The Vietnam War was winding down, at least for the United States, though the North Vietnamese would launch a huge attack against South Vietnam toward the end of March as we conducted infantry training at Camp Pendlelton. (In September, now a Private First Class, I would find myself in an Army hospital called Camp Kue on Okinawa, sharing  a ward with American advisors who'd been wounded helping the South Vietnamese forces stop the communists.)

In 1991, I visited the footprints on a vacation to San Diego with my girlfriend. (Now My Fine Wife or MFW.)

In 2002, I stood on a hill in Vietnam called Con Thien with a Vietnamese guide who told me about the obliteration of his village by B52s, bombing the NVA advance.

In 2008, I was back at MCRD finishing up a marathon with Team in Training.

But on a Friday night, January 14, 1972, I stood on yellow footprints. Oh, right before we boxed up our clothes, this happened:
(The following scene is rather accurate, except there's no C&W music. Just buzzzzzzz.)

h/t: amp1776

Friday, November 03, 2017

Apocalypse Story a Fast-Paced Revelation


Father Elijah: An ApocalypseFather Elijah: An Apocalypse by Michael D. O'Brien
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

At peace in a desert monastery, a psychologically-scarred monk is summoned by the Vatican to witness to a powerful international figure feared to be the Antichrist.

Based on Catholic eschatology, the story centers around the trials of Father Elijah, who reluctantly sets out on his mission only to find himself reliving the loss of family, friends, wife and child. As dark forces close around David Elijah, his friends and supporters, the monk struggles to complete his charge, grappling with issues such as the savagery of Man, free will, and the healing love of Christ. At the same time, the society around Father Elijah transforms at a bewildering pace, as lines dissolve between spirit, prophecy, and reality.

Set at the turn of the millennia, the book is paced like a thriller, with sharp dialogue driving the action forward; complex characters hold your interest. Overall, a fascinating exploration into the nature of evil, the power of patience, and the possibility of redemption.

View all my reviews

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Bring Me Thrilling Pulp Art

ComicsAlliance

Researching art work and illustrators for my next ebook—due out by Christmas. And while the pulp style might not gel with a non-fiction work on cancer, I've both horror and fantasy detective tales cutting air in the on-deck circle. Both could don pulp covers with gleeful pride. Starting a Pulp Pinterest page, lets me collect interesting compositions, tone, color, subject matter. But there's more to the style than hot babes, gun-toting detectives, and leering Nazis.

We Heart promoted Mexican pulp art a few years back. What's the difference with our home-grown pulpists? Well, We Heart felt "the Mexican market had an appetite for weirdness that outdid the Americans on nearly every level. The violence was ratcheted up, but it was the incongruous elements such as sci-fi, psychedelia, the supernatural, dinosaurs and robots into the mix that set the plots apart."

They weren't kidding. Monster Brains gathered together a wealth of Mexican pulp cover art. Here's a few samples:


Monster Brains








Gunfire against retro robots gone berserk seems futile, but we often reach for the familiar in times of crisis.



 






Monster Brains





Here is death writ large with grave robbers, a corpse who apparently died hard, and great eyes hovering over the landscape for reasons obscure.












Monster Brains








Trouble heading your way, bud, with human-faced birds flying out of the windmill and over the leafless tree. What gruesome fate awaits you, cowering man?











In addition, We Heart added that "the heroes of the Mexican books were not hard-bitten detectives or all-action paragons, but rather common men who found themselves right up against it in a struggle for survival . . . ." I guess the Yanks were a little more aspirational.

No matter. I want pulp covers for my next two books. Mexican, Yankee, any old artist, but I'm having pulp. The search commences for an artist who can deliver. Don't be shy. Offer recommendations. Should your artist be selected, I'll credit you in the Forward of a book guaranteed to be read by dozens.

Auture

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Caustic, Funny Supernatural Tales

Dreadful Outcomes: The Wickesborough ChroniclesDreadful Outcomes: The Wickesborough Chronicles by D. G. Heckman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Consider this "Our Town" if written by Dante.

With apologies to Thornton Wilder, D.G. Heckman has penned a hilarious sardonic, 21st century version of small town life. In this supernatural anthology centered around fictional Wickesborough, Pennsylvania, we encounter characters most greedy, evil, self-centered, and unwary who run afoul of zombies, psychopaths, and demonic furniture in a region marinating in dangerous legends that still pack a punch.

Driven by strong ironic narration, the offerings include a band of sensitive cannibals who hate being confused with zombies; police attempting to deal with a wendigo outbreak; and weekend wiccans who discover themselves in deep with a cat-worshipping cult.

But not all outcomes are dreadful as a funeral whisperer learns the consequences of his calling, and a young man pursues his crush on a melancholy spirit.

An indie gem, this Wickesborough collection reminds one of Stephen King's Castle Rock, only with a mordant sense of humor. A dark, funny, absurdist read.

View all my reviews

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Blogging History Repeats Itself Again


December deadline approaches.          Image: All HD Wallpaper

Great broiling head chaos.

Let me explain: excellent progress on my Viking detective novel since early September, despite an eventful journey to Seattle. As the story accelerates, I've ridden the changes, chasing the narrative, but guiding the process away from the guardrails so as not to crash into a rewrite canyon, research gulch, or dull character canal. However, time is not my amigo.

I want to publish an ebook by Christmas. (The viking ebook will not be ready.) In 2013, I blogged about a similar publishing dilemma. A few weeks later, I blogged again. Finally, I stopped blogging about this particular conundrum . . . temporarily, you understand.

Four years have passed and I'm blogging about it once more. In order to meet my self-imposed deadline, I must postpone one project and return to the very project I abandoned in 2013. (As a side note, 2013 was the last full year of my life with a prostate.) Now the clock is ticking, the sands are diminishing, the digital read-out approaches zero. I've got around two months to polish a crude manuscript, score some cover art, and launch it on Amazon.

Who needs NaNoWriMo?

Crazy world out there. Mind yourselves and those close to you.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Zombie Novel with a Bite


A Place Outside The WildA Place Outside The Wild by Daniel Humphreys
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There are more zombie novels out there than the shambling dead they contain.

However Humphreys' take on a popular genre held my attention for its focus on survivors, their psychological strain, PTSD and myriad other woes besetting a handful of humans and the simple life they've built in a small compound, eight years after the rise of zombies.

Like circling sharks, the undead wander the compound's perimeter, hungering for human flesh, patient, omnipresent. At the same time, interior conflicts such as murder and drug addiction combine to erode the community's survival odds.

Good action and plenty of it keep this tale moving along.

Definitely worth a read.

View all my reviews

Friday, September 08, 2017

Recalling 9/11

K called from Florida, "Planes crashed into the World Trade Center and one of the towers just fell." Unemployed in Los Angeles and half asleep at 7:30 AM, I shuffled downstairs to the TV, past Joy as she prepared for work. At first, all I saw was a dirty cloud obscuring southern Manhattan. Then a stunned announcer said the second tower had just collapsed. Joy joined me, work forgotten as we learned of the attack.

Other friends phoned throughout the day. Paul Rugg speculated about the pilots of the doomed aircraft, certain they weren't Americans forced to crash. TJ, a Vietnam vet, was incensed at the footage of jubilant Palestinians with their candy and AK-47s. He wished he could gift them with a nice buttering of napalm. In a grim mood, I agreed.

Watching TV and power-chewing Nicorette, I mostly felt numb — except when the subject was jumpers. Then I felt horror. Go to work, sip coffee, joke with your pals, then decide whether you'll suffocate, burn alive, or leap a quarter mile to certain death. Questions of etiquette arise: jump solo or hold hands with a co-worker? Perhaps several of you link arms and form a chain, finding courage in numbers. Or do you clutch a table cloth and step into the air, desperately hoping it slows your fall?



The journey takes ten seconds.


Air velocity rips away your shoes.


You explode on impact.


I will always be haunted by the jumpers of 9/11.


Oceans of paper were blasted from the towers, filling the New York sky like the Devil's ticker tape. Invoices and wedding invitations floated down to gray sidewalks.

My friend Cathy, who worked in D.C., reported chaos as the government sent everyone home at once following the Pentagon attack. One jammed intersection turned scary as a man leaped out of an SUV brandishing a pistol and attempting to direct traffic.

Being murdered is not a heroic act, though it can be. Flight 93 passengers fought back and died, saving many more in their sacrifice. North Tower Port Authority employees rescued over 70 people before perishing.


There were many heroes that day.

My sister Mary Pat and I had dinner at a coffee shop. She was passing through town, leaving a job in Mountain View, CA to return to Phoenix. Depressed by the day's events, our meal was not jolly.

Later, Joy tried to give blood, but the hospital was overwhelmed with donations and refused.

Vulnerability, grief, dismay, anger.

Such a beautiful morning with a sky so blue.

(Photos from: Little Green Footballs.)

Repost: Sept. 11, 2008

Update: Strange to reread this. TJ died in 2009 and K passed away just over a year ago. My wife, Joy, and I are doing well, as is Paul Rugg who now rides the train

Repost: Sept. 11, 2013

Update: I had cancer surgery last year, but recovered. My wife is doing well and my sister battles her own health woes. I have not heard from my friend Cathy in a few years.  Paul Rugg continues riding the train in addition to being a voice over machine.

Repost: Sept. 11, 2015

Update: Paul Rugg's daughter was not quite two years old on 9/11/01. Now she is a freshmen in college. I have retired from TV animation writing, though, as stated elsewhere, I find retirement to be indistinguishable from unemployment. (Save for a small annuity.) And very soon, I shall ride the train to see my sister. (Explanatory post t/k.)

Repost: Sept. 11, 2017