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Shadows

January 25, 2020 Leave a comment

The sky was stark white and the wind licked at your skin like a frozen flame. Clouds edged in, dark as the abyss, and spread across the blinding naked sky like oil in water. Cold is cold, but not as cold as a midwestern winter.

I have had a lot of time to think lately. In recent days, sleep has eluded me, remaining just out of reach.

Life is a series of trials, each one specifically designed to break you. Specifically designed as a test you likely will not pass. For many, these act merely as speed bumps. A moment of reflection upon how we had to change, for the sake of accommodating these accomplishments.

For others, these tests prove to be more. Hurdles too high to clear, goals too high to reach. It feels as though someone had held you down and ordered a room full of people you do not know to kick the ever loving shit out of you.

The pain sets in. The lies of a broken mind whispers in your ear, telling you no one really cares. No one will miss you or indeed even notice you’re gone, while you shake hands with the devil in your heart.

Your heart races, the tears begin to form and cloud your vision of the world around you. The darkness will consume.

The time comes when one must stand and fight for their beliefs or lie down and admit defeat.

One can only run from shadows for so long before the shadows catch up.

The piper must be paid his due.

Categories: Uncategorized

My Personal Shadow

January 17, 2020 Leave a comment

Everyone, no matter how big or small, has a shadow. A little piece of darkness that never leaves us, following us through our lives like an obsessed puppy. For some, coexistence with their shadow is such that they are barely even aware of its presence. For others, the shadow grows far beyond the reach of their control, ever spreading, ever consuming. For others still, the shadow consumes all they have to give until only a battered husk remains.

For those locked in battle against their personal darkness, it is a daily struggle to stay on top. A daily fight, tooth and claw, to see the sun. A fight some of us will never win.

The shadow moves swiftly and silently, it shows a cunning and resilience commonly reserved for large predators, but that is what it truly is, at the end of the day, the largest and most deadly predator of all. It circles us, taking shots at our hearts, tearing our soul from us, bit by bit. Toying with us, making us wish it were over. Making us beg for it to end.

The world and those in it are particularly cruel to the kind, the warm and receptive to the pain of others. Those of us who ignore our own shadow to help quell the insatiable hunger of those around us. The darkness takes aim at these warriors of emotion, adding fuel to the fire and causing our shadow to grow even more restless while we dare not look. We dare not see what our own monster has become, we dare not notice how far our own shadow has stretched whilst distracted by trying to heal someone else.

For some, it stretches and stretches, ever expanding until all light is obscured. Until only darkness remains.

The weight of ones shadow can fluctuate by a daily measure. On the lightest days, the pain is but a whisper in the recesses of the mind, kept at arm’s length. But other days, it carries the weight of the world. Crushing, always crushing. Souls, as bones do, become brittle with time. They cannot carry the same weight they used to. They break and shatter, like hearts do, only the healing can seem impossible.

Sometimes we find ourselves at our breaking point. We find ourselves standing at an emotional precipice, unsure which way is up and which way is down. Lost within the shadow itself, ever floating, ever spiraling, never again meant to feel the solidity of ground beneath our feet.

Some of us have been battling our shadows for as long as we can remember. For some of us, the time before the darkness is a simple but clouded memory of better times.

Brittle souls and dull weapons. War can last too long. Sometimes the end is a reprieve.

Categories: Uncategorized

The Smoke-Kissed Air of Autumn

October 21, 2019 Leave a comment

The cold is creeping in slowly this year. Leaves flash fiery orange and red at the end of the day, the literal color of the sunset. Autumn expressing its role as sunset of the calendar year, the last dying embers before the bitter winter shadows come howling in from beyond.

I stand outside, breath visible in the wind as an ethereal swirl of fog, and breathe in. The air smells as though kissed by smoke. Rain coming, the leaves above my head play their windsong, and children in sweatshirts and boots run laughing through the street.

Looking up, past the trees, the clouds shift from stark white to a melancholy gray, signaling the coming storm. The hair on the back of my neck stands up and I retreat inside to warmth.

This is my favorite time of year.

Categories: Uncategorized

NATIONAL NIGHTMARE: DAY ONE

November 9, 2016 Leave a comment

Wow. So, here we are. The beginning of the end.

Last night, when I left work, I walked right over to the local liquor store and bought a case of beer. I then went to the local supermarket and bought a chimichanga. When I got home, I flipped on CNN, took a deep breath, and let the madness wash over me for the following few hours. The combination of shredded beef, Spanish rice, refried beans and all the fixings, along with beer after beer after beer, could do nothing to properly prepare me for the horror that would unfold.

In fact, in my half-drunk, very-full state, I ended up going to bed before it was all made official.

I’ve made it clear in the past that I’m not a huge fan of Hillary Clinton. I’ve made it clear that, once the nominees of both political parties were officially announced, that I felt we’d be screwed either way. But in different ways, in more subtle ways, depending on which side of that terrible coin we fell upon November 8th.

But make no mistake here, do not take me as a person who is unaware of what just happened to our country last night, we now face the worst possible outcome of this election. If Clinton had won, I would have sighed a sigh of relief and then been somewhat worried about where her policies were going to take us. But I would have had no real fear for the future, nor would I have felt the concern or fear for the people of color and LGBTQ community that are my friends and family. To me, this election was truly choosing the lesser of two evils. And the worst evil imaginable is who won.

Everyone has a voice. Everyone has a vote. Everyone deserves to have that voice/vote be heard and counted. This election was about what kind of steps we would take into the future, what face we want to present to the rest of the world, to let them know who we are as a nation and what we stand for.

 

trump

This is the face we chose last night.

I don’t even know what I think or what I feel, and it has already been nearly twenty four hours since the decision was made official.

I do know one thing: If you are a straight white male, I do not want to hear “It’s not that bad” or “it’ll be fine” or really any other kind of white bread optimism, because it’s not us I’m worried about. White straight men aren’t going to be targeted, white straight men don’t need to live in fear for the next four years, white straight men don’t need to fear harassment or assault or denial of basic human rights. White straight men don’t need to fear, not for the next four years.

I’m afraid for all of the Muslim Americans who are going to be targeted by idiot racists who feel justified in treating them horribly, simply because our new President feels the same way.

I’m afraid for any woman who has ever faced sexual assault on any level, because now the President of the United States is on the same level as the assailants they fell victim to.

I’m afraid for members of the LGBTQ community, including my own son, who will spend the next four years living in fear and uncertainty while a President and Vice President who have vocally expressed an anti-LGBTQ mentality in the past are in power.

I’m afraid of the message all of this is sending to the young impressionable minds of this country.

I’m afraid of all of that and nothing another straight white man says to me will alleviate a single bit of it.

I’m still processing everything. I’m still figuring things out. I’m still wondering where we’ll all be after January 20th, 2017.

In the meantime, I leave you with one of the few things I’ve found comfort in since last night: Stephen Colbert.

31 Days = 31 Horror Reviews

October 1, 2012 3 comments

Last year, I spent the month of October updating my “writingcentric” Tumblr blog with various horror short stories (read them here). This year, I thought I’d do something different.

First, let me preface this by saying that Halloween is my favorite holiday and it has been since I was a child. Don’t get me wrong, here. I love Christmas. The family togetherness, the exchange of gifts, the sights and smells of winter filling the air. It’s great. However, Halloween offers some things that Christmas does not: The colors of the leaves, both the ones that litter the ground and the ones that cling to their trees with hopes of miraculously making it through winter, the look on the faces of children as you dump handfuls of cavity inducing goodies into their bags or buckets.

And of course, horror movies.

I’ve had a passion for horror movies ever since I was a kid. My father would sit me down with him and we’d watch all of the old Universal Monster classics. Those movies taught me a lot. I gained an appreciation for the delicate process of bringing a hodge podge of dead body parts back to life in Frankenstien, I learned how to kill a vampire in Dracula, The Mummy taught me never to read the contents of an ancient scroll out loud, and The Wolfman taught me that even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night may become a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright. All of this was merely the groundwork being set up to a lifelong love of scary movies. As I grew, so did my taste in horror, and I became introduced to the works of George A. Romero and John Carpenter, Wes Craven and Brian De Palma, Clive Barker and David Cronenberg. My list of horrible creatures of which I had some knowledge grew to include zombies and ghosts, demons and twisted alien creatures.

The great thing about the month of October is that you would be hard pressed to find more than a few channels that aren’t showing horror movies all the time. Truly, it is the most wonderful time of the year.

And so this year, I’ve decided to review thirty-one horror movies over thirty-one days.

Here are some facts about that:

1: Due to work, I might end up doubling up on reviews (meaning I might have two reviews in one day every once in a while), but I’m committed to thirty-one reviews.

2: I have a lot planned, most of which are DVDs that I own, but I’m probably going to throw a few in as the month progresses on a whim. If I see something on cable or after scanning my Netflix queue that piques my interest, I might add it into the rotation.

3: Not all of these movies will be good and the reviews will most certainly touch on that.

4: I’m going to be incredibly biased as far as what movies are included in the list (as the first movie of the month will indicate) because there are a lot that I consider to be favorites.

5: If you can’t wait to read movie reviews written by me, you could always visit BadSequels.Com and visit my author profile. I mean, no one will hold it against you if you do. Also, note that almost all of the movies I’ve reviewed over there are horror movies except one: Alvin & The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. That might still count as horror, depending on who you ask.

6: I won’t be “rereviewing” or reposting reviews from BadSequels here.

Stay tuned for the first review coming sometime later this evening.

Edit: And we’re off! List of movies below will be updated as I go:

October 1st: An American Werewolf in London
October 2nd: An American Werewolf in Paris
October 3rd: Fright Night (1985)
October 4th: Dawn of the Dead (2004)
October 5th: Ginger Snaps
October 6th: The Descent
October 7th: Trick ‘r Treat
October 8th: The Lost Boys
October 9th: House on Haunted Hill (1959)
October 10th: Dog Soldiers
October 11th: From Dusk Till Dawn
October 12th: 1408
October 13th: Bram Stoker’s Dracula
October 14th: The Howling
October 15th: The Thing (1982)
October 16th: Alien
October 17th: 30 Days of Night
October 18th: The Wolfman (1941)
October 19th: The Wolfman (2010)
October 20th: Evil Dead
October 21st: Near Dark
October 22nd: Cursed
October 23rd: Bad Moon
October 24th: Wolfen
October 25th: Frailty
October 26th: Silver Bullet
October 27th: Creepshow
October 28th: Night of the Living Dead
October 29th: Friday the 13th (1980)
October 30th: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
October 31st: Halloween (1978)

50 Years of Spider-Man

August 6, 2012 Leave a comment

Fifty years ago this month, Marvel Comics published Amazing Fantasy #15, featuring a Stan Lee/Steve Ditko story about mild mannered teen Peter Parker. Parker was just an ordinary teenager juggling ordinary teenager problems, except he also had to juggle being a superhero: Spider-Man. After an ongoing argument with Lee, during which publisher Martin Goodman allegedly said “People hate spiders, you can’t call a hero Spider-Man! And a hero can’t be a teenager! Teenagers are sidekicks!”, Goodman finally caved and allowed Lee to move forward but only as a one-off story to be printed in the final issue of the failed title Amazing Adult Fantasy, then renamed Amazing Fantasy.

Amazing Fantasy #15 went on to become one of Marvel’s best selling issues to date and nearly a year after its printing The Amazing Spider-Man #1 was launched and Peter Parker was well on his way to becoming a cultural icon.

Spider-Man has survived a 1970s live-action television show, countless animated versions, four feature length theatrical films, and his closest call of all: The Clone Saga.


Fuck you, man.

We now live in a time when being called a “geek” or “nerd” is no longer an insult or something said before you’re treated to an involuntary lunch consisting of a knuckle sandwich. Geek and Nerd are badges of honor now, as comic books and science fiction are the “in” thing. When this moment in history passes, as it almost certainly will, Spider-Man will be one of the comic book heroes whose street cred won’t falter.

Fifty years in and Spider-Man is listed in the pantheon of superhero gods, with Batman and Superman and the rest, as he is not only a teenager in tights stopping crime by way of sticky webs and funny quips, but a part of our popular culture forever.

All I can say is thank you to Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, and Jack Kirby for the genesis of this memorable character and to Martin Goodman for giving in.

Happy Anniversary, Peter Parker.

Ray Bradbury 1920 – 2012

June 6, 2012 2 comments

I logged into Twitter this morning, much like any other morning, with a yawn and a sip of coffee and a certain sort of sleepy curiosity as to what funny or horrible or tragic things I would learn, 140 characters at a time. It was soon thereafter that I read “RIP Ray Bradbury”. I gasped. “Oh no.” I said aloud and I raced to find a more viable source of information, preferably from a website that is not known to unceremoniously kill a different celebrity each week, only to find that said celebrity is in fact alive and well.

This is what I found.

I am deeply saddened by the passing of Mr. Bradbury. I’ve read quite a few tweets and tumblr posts from people and they all say pretty much the same sort of thing: “I met Ray Bradbury once and he was lovely and I’m so sad that we’ve lost him, but so glad that we had him, and so happy that his work has touched so many of us so deeply.”

I have not met Mr. Bradbury and while that upsets me, it does my heart good to know that there are people who have met him, and who have shared with him their stories of how they first came to read and enjoy his work, and who have walked away from the experience feeling as though they’ve accomplished something. That they had their opportunity to thank him. That warms my heart. It makes me feel happy for those who had that chance and it makes me feel glad that Bradbury knew how loved he was as a member of the writing community.

The first work of Mr. Bradbury’s that I ever read was Something Wicked This Way Comes (buy it here). It moved me in many ways. It was spooky and at times funny, it was dark and menacing, but still had enough heart to make you care about it.

Ray Bradbury is on my list of favorite science fiction writers, along with Arthur C. Clarke and Robert Heinlein, Harlan Ellison and Isaac Asimov, and countless others. Sadly, his name is also now on the list of favorite authors who have left us, and in doing so, have also left a gaping and irreparable hole in the world of fiction itself. No one will ever replace Ray Bradbury.

If you’re a fan of Bradbury, but do not yet own any of his work, I’d suggest Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Martian Chronicles, the classic Fahrenheit 451, or this collection of some of his shorter works.

If you’ve never read the work of Bradbury, please visit your local library and look him up. They’re sure to have something with his name on it and you’d be doing yourself a service.