Thursday, March 26, 2015

Bad

Did you hear about the Male Revue dancer with the lisp?

They say he had a thong in his heart.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

My Dreams are still strange narratives

Sylvester Stallone walked into the empty house. It was in pretty bad shape -- no furniture, doors missing, bits of fallen plaster and other little scraps scattered across the floor. He checked over the downstairs, noting holes in the walls and other problems, all things that would have to be repaired before anybody could live there again. It was going to be a lot of work.

He found the stairs and went up them. The second floor wasn't in any better shape than the first. Empty hallway, empty rooms...

Something growled.

The bear was crouched, claws pressed against the floor, looking directly at him. He took a step back, hands raised, and said: "Easy, there."

The growling deepened, and he reached for his gun.

He shot it twice: once as it leaped, and again as he stumbled out the doorway. It turned and leaped again, and this time it connected with him. They tumbled down the hall, the bear growling and trying to bite, Stallone firing the pistol into its torso. He must have hit something vital; the bear shuddered and lay still.

With a sigh, he rolled it off him and stood up. He limped back down the stairs and out to his truck, just as another car pulled up.

It was his boss. "What are you doing up here?" asked the boss. "This is the wrong address." He held up a piece of paper. "See? We're supposed to be fixing up another house half a mile down the road!"

...And my dreams got weirder from there. No more Stallone, but an even bigger, weirder house being reoccupied by a deeply strange family, complete with an elevated hallway that led around to an observatory; climbing up a rough slope (and eventually a near-cliff) with Secondborn and some random other girl-child in order to escape a rising river; and sundry other strangeness.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Secondborn is a natural climber

Here's video. This is after running around on the obstacle course and making a token effort at dodgeball.

He started with an inclined climbing wall (which is a bunch easier):

Monday, March 23, 2015

Parenthood II: The Quickening

There are acorns on the floor of Secondborn's room.

He's been "decorating", and thought he should have a plant. So: acorns, fallen leaves, and a couple of dead sticks. I don't even ask, anymore.

Anyway, there are acorns on the floor of Secondborn's room.

Every so often, I look down at one, panic for a moment, and then think: "No, it's okay. It isn't poop."

A quote from Sandman, and thoughts on Horror

"You disappoint me, Corinthian. You were my masterpiece, or so I thought. A nightmare created to be the darkness and the fear of darkness in every human heart. A dark mirror, made to reflect everything about itself that humanity will not confront.

"But look at you. Twenty years walking the earth, and what have you given them? Nothing. You've told them there are bad people out there. And they've known that all along."

I was reading through a Facebook thread on the subject of horror stories, and the use of fantastical elements as a way of expressing psychological horrors, and it got me to thinking:

My favorite horror involves... I guess I'd call it a "sense of discovery", or maybe a "sense of exploration". Slasher films do nothing for me; yes, you can build some tension and some sense of being hunted, but in the end the characters are still just up against a guy with a knife. Monster movies can be just as bad, if they're handled like slasher films. But a really good horror film, for me, will have the character struggling to figure out what's going on and how to deal with. (Alien, for example. Or even the original Predator, cheesy as it was in places.) Heck, one of the best horror movies I've seen isn't technically a horror movie; it's a science fiction piece called Screamers. (Just, whatever you do, DO NOT watch the sequel.)

Horror as allegory is fine, but -- as with any sort of allegory -- it has to be handled carefully. Since I'm apparently stuck thinking in movie examples, let me offer Monsters: it works perfectly well simply as a monster movie... but man, I got to the end, and I was like, "They aren't actually winding this into the comparison I think they are, are they? They can't *possibly* be doing that." They were.

You know, actually, I think that was a lot of what appealed to me about Dr. Who, too -- very frequently, most of the struggle focused on just figuring out what was going on. (I came in during the Tom Baker/Fourth Doctor years.)

So as far as I'm concerned, my ideal horror story can basically be summed up as, "There's something going on and we don't know what it is, but we're pretty sure it's dangerous. Now what?"

What about the rest of you? What are your favorite horror movies? Why do you like them?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Everybody Watches Something

"What channel do you watch?" asked Sandra.

Bill shrugged. "Actually, my TV is off right now. It's off most of the time."

"Yeah, but what channel do you watch? You have to be watching something."

Bill looked puzzled. "No... not really. I mean, I turned the TV off."

"Off?"

"Yes. Off."

Sandra gave him a conspiratorial grin. "Yeah, but really -- I mean, what happened? Did you get mad at the producers? Did they cancel a favorite show or something?"

"No, I just... look, I was watching this one channel, very popular, but the shows didn't seem to make any sense. I watched for a while longer -- I mean, my parents watched that channel, there must be something to it, right? -- only the shows made less and less sense the closer I looked at them. So finally I started surfing other channels, but... well... they didn't make much sense either. So finally, I turned the whole thing off."

"Okay, but what do you watch now?"

"I don't watch anything."

Sandra blinked twice, then said: "Are you watching yourself? Like, with a mirror, maybe? I mean, everyone watches something."

"I don't really watch anything. My television has been unplugged for about two years, now. I'm thinking of getting rid of it entirely."

"So you watch other people without televisions? You make them your choice of programming?"

"No." Bill frowned, then tried to smile, then gave it up. "I don't watch anything. You should try it sometime. It's kind of... freeing."

Sandra frowned, puzzled. "But everybody watches something."

Thursday, March 19, 2015

"Well... They aren't exactly zombies..."

I'm working on another short story -- basically an earlier episode of the story I submitted to Swords vs. Cthulhu, with the same characters and setting. It's basically a mid-apocalyptic... I can't decide if it's more "survival horror" or "action adventure". Bit of both, really. The apocalypse itself is of the phantasmagoric, anything-goes variety, except that at no point will conventional physics "stop working". (That places some interesting restrictions on what I can get away with in terms of the fantasy elements, but that's all part of the fun.) In addition to introducing a couple of the characters, this story plays with the zombies that (for reasons of elementary physics and biology) aren't exactly zombies. There are guns, swords, fighting, rescues, and narrow escapes.

So: writing. I might be slow or erratic about updating the Blog o' Doom, here.