The Ghosts of Writing, Halloween 2017

I’m going through a weird phase right now with my writing  It is affecting my old books, it is affecting my future works, and it is affecting this site. I still get a kick out of reading (from time to time), but there’s a certain sense of pointlessness around the entire endeavor that seems to be growing for me.

Do I write another post trying to inspire you to take on the author mantle? Create a book and get it published? Or do I write another one about the bleak possibilities/reality of the publishing world? Another doom-and-gloom piece about how the publishing world is only about the almighty dollar and self-publishing is no home for literary fiction?

One thing that has been capturing my attention (and I recommend if you have the patience for it) is Alan Moore’s epic novel Jerusalem. It breaks every rule I have known about publishing and literature. It is incredible in its audacity and I am in awe of it and him as an author. It is is long (over 1200 pages in small font long) and it is dense (it assumes that you know what he’s talking about). He does not dumb down anything! I am loving the experience of reading it and strangely it makes me think that it would be fun it to just spent 10 years working on a super crazy long book of my own.

I promise I will do more writing on the site in the future (don’t abandon me yet!), until then I need this break. I need to figure out what I am doing with my current novel and I need to find a way to care more… about everything with writing.

Right now though let’s celebrate some of the work that I think are suitable for Halloween. Here are some great books for a spooky night. These reviews were either done here or on WKAR.

Happy Halloween!

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Halloween Redux

HalloweenI’m one of those nuts who thinks of Autumn as his favorite time of the years. Maybe this is a last gasp of Marching Band nerdness (Go Vikings!), but I look forward to the falling leaves, the smells, and the sheer panic we feel around our political system every two to four years. Ahhh… Fall.

My kids really want to get more Halloween decorations for our house, but I’ve never been impressed by the market. Usually everything seems plastic and loud. And I’m definitely not the type of guy to have anything giant and inflatable on my lawn. My line about this kind of stuff is Wayne Manor. “What would Alfred allow?” I ask.

The answer is usually not much.

Over the years I’ve written a bit about this holiday, which you can check out below in the links. I’ve also had the pleasure of reviewing some Halloween and horror stories on WKAR Current State. I thought I would include them as well if you are looking for something a little spooky to read this year. Also, they are fun to listen to because in a few of them I try (badly) to do a scary voice. Who doesn’t need a good and embarrassing laugh from time to time?

Boo!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monsters, Vampires and Chewbacca: Some Halloween Posts

The author as Chewbecca... I'm behind Pac Man.So when I was a kid, my mom used to make me Halloween costumes (I’m the Chewbacca behind the Pac Man). They were really quite impressive. Sadly, I don’t have that skill, nor do I even try to pull something like that off. And it’s gotten to such a point that if I brought up the idea of a homemade Halloween costume, my kids would probably revolt.

…And there might be torches and pitchforks.

Which got me wondering, is something lost in not going to that trouble anymore? Yes, all of the kids walking around look exactly like their target, but has a bit of the heart been lost in the endeavor? Of course, if the kids have no idea of what I am talking about, maybe this is me just being grumpy.

Yeah, I’m probably just being grumpy.

HalloweenI mean, look at pumpkin carving these days. I like to do a simple face, but when you see all the tools and skills out there, well, I look lame. And telling the kids this was fine a few decades ago doesn’t cut it.

Okay, where was I? Halloween posts!

I’ve had the pleasure of being on WKAR’s Current State for three Halloween episodes now.  I’ve reviewed and talked about (with links):

Here are some other posts (with links too) I have written about one of my favorite holidays:

I hope you have a great holiday (with or without a handmade costume).

 

New WKAR Book Review: Dracula by Bram Stoker

Current StateThis is my third Halloween on WKAR’s Current State, and I decided to sink my teeth into Dracula by Bram Stoker. (I know… I know… bad joke. Sometimes I can’t help myself.)

You can listen to my review here: http://wkar.org/post/book-review-bram-stokers-dracula

If you would rather read my review, you can do so below.

Hey, did you know Current State has a podcast? If you subscribe, you can download episodes and segments (and you can find me every other Thursday). Here is a link to find it on iTunes- https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wkar-fm-current-state/id594609653?mt=2

If you want to check out my other book reviews for WKAR’s Current State, you can do so via links on this page. Continue reading

New WKAR Book Review: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

FCurrent Stateor Halloween on WKAR’s Current State I reviewed one of the greatest works in literature… which is also freaky scary.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley has always been important to me and my writing and I had a lot of fun with this review. Check it out!

You can listen to my review here: http://wkar.org/post/book-review-mary-shelleys-frankenstein-wkar

If you would rather read the review, you can do so below.

If you would like to read this classic (and you should) you can find it on Amazon here.  You can also check out my other book reviews via links on this page.

I hope you enjoy my book review and Happy Halloween! Continue reading

Ghosts, Snoopy, Haunted Mansions and Halloween

haunted-mansionA few years ago, the inventive filmmaker Guillermo del Toro was hired by Disney to write a screenplay for a new movie based on The Haunted Mansion ride.  Over the summer I read an interview with him claiming that him and his team of writers were still struggling with the story.

Seriously?

I have to admit I am a little surprised. I mean it seems to me a Haunted Mansion film writes itself. Do you want to know how I would do it if Disney asked me? Of course you do!

First off I would set it in the 1950s. That way you can tap into the cliches and stereotypes you would see in classic old black-and-white horror films. And set it in a small town (think Back to the Future).  Now on to my very brief synopsis!

  • Act 1- We meet the eccentric and comic people in the town. There are two twin teenage sisters, one is a cheerleader and popular, the other is a bookworm (our heroes). They go to a dance at their school. That night there is a huge thunderstorm and the power goes out. A bunch of teenagers ride together in car; which, of course, stalls in front of the Haunted Mansion.
  • Act 2- The group of teenagers (including our female heroes) tour the Haunted Mansion. The ghosts want to get out but are trapped in (a curse put in place by Madame Leota). One of the teenagers is tricked by the evil Hatbox Ghost (an urban legend by the way around the ride), releasing all the ghosts.
  • Act 3- The ghosts playfully attack and spook the town (like Gremlins). The teenagers are split into teams, one to collect the ghosts, the other to get the curse put back on the house and stop the Hatbox Ghost (the sisters lead the different teams)… this all has to be done by dawn.
  • Act 4- In a suspenseful last act, the curse is reinstated, the ghosts are drawn back and the sisters now are friends. The end.

Disney you can send me the check. (Okay, that was a little snippy of me, but seriously I could write this script and would love to do it… Oh, and Guillermo del Toro is awesome.)

Here are some of the posts in the past I have written about Halloween. Enjoy!

The Halloween TreeBook Review: The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury. Last year I reviewed this book (which should be a holiday classic) for WKAR’s Current State. You can check it out (and listen) via the link. This week I’ll be reviewing Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I hope you tune in for it, I think it turned out great.

It's The Great PumpkinWatching It’s The Great  Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. I love this special. Absolutely love it. Actually, I’m kind of obsessed about it, and this post proves it. In it, I share my insight on the show and my thoughts on each of the scenes and characters. Seriously… obsessed.

CostumedIf I Could Wear a Halloween Costume… If I had the courage, I would dress up on the holiday. I’m just not that guy… but I wish I was. This comic post deals with my dreams and hopes and masks.

HalloweenHalloween, In Spirit. I wrote this post during my first year on the site, and it was one of my most popular. It is a little comic, a little philosophical, a little serious. In many ways it contains all of my thoughts on the holiday, tied up in a bow… that probably has skeletons on it.

I hope you enjoy the posts! (And Guillermo call me!)

 

Boo! New WKAR Book Review: The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

Current StateJust in time for this spooky holiday!

I have a new book review on WKAR’s show Current State. This time I am taking on the “lost” classic novel by Ray Bradbury, The Halloween Tree.

You can hear my review here: http://wkar.org/post/book-review-ray-bradbury-s-halloween-tree

You can find The Halloween Tree on Amazon here. If you would rather read my new book review it is available below.

Happy Halloween! Continue reading

If I could wear a Halloween costume…

Trick or TreatAs an adult, it takes a certain amount of courage to put on a costume. Let me correct that…  it takes a certain amount of courage and alcohol to put on a costume.

A costume draws people’s eyes towards you almost like being on a stage except it’s more personable. There isn’t the protective separation because of spotlight and distance. It’s real, you are a dude dressed up and they can see you… and talk to you.  

I have always been impressed with people that have the strength to put on a costume. I look at them with a certain amount of awe, even those that attempt the cheaper creations. Of course, there is nothing like a great one though. For example, there is a woman down the street that on Halloween will dress-up as the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz and she has the look and cackle down perfectly. It can take a fan’s breath away… and also instinctively take two steps back in fright.

For me, I never feel more like an introvert than at this time of the year. I go into my shell as I hand out candies; always being sure to give a little bit more to the kids who look truly great.

Oh wait, does that make me a bad person? The fact I judge a kid’s costumes and award accordingly?

Possibly.

Actually the more I think about it, the more I am embarrassed I admitted that. Because even those in a bad costume are braver than me at that moment. But if I was to dress up… Continue reading

Chicago/Chicago (9 Days to 40)

The View From My Room1.

Chicago trip/tolls/Red Vines & a Coke/a podcast about Rome at night/an antique land bathed in spotlights and crowds/loud conversations, broken statues, winding narrow streets lost in shadows/wife tries to sleep-

Too-expensive hotel/broken shower/costumed adults running for a party/I’m seeking a Chicago dog/or a deep dish pizza/settled for sandwich/remembering another I had in Italy-

Dirty streets/with beggars and tourists/tall shining buildings/everyone has someplace to be/everyone has a camera/strangely feel guilty by my noncommitments-

Art Institute/I never look enough, I scan, scan, scan…/crowds fascinate me/I spy on the conversations/their casual  mole/stealing moments around the moments captured on canvas/chiseled out of stone/moments around moments/I sit & think of that turn of phrase-

I worry about the clock/I worry about my writing and books/I worry about tomorrow/about the day after tomorrow/I worry about my children/the future/I always worry/in all these years it is now a friend-

I will probably always worry-

I should look around more/but I scan, scan, scan…-

I almost buy a shirt- Continue reading

Five Things I Am Into Right Now, October 2013

HalloweenEvery year around this time I always wish I had musical talent. Why? Because Halloween is a surefire money opportunity for a creative songwriter.

See, across this country, from kids to adults, people have Halloween parties, but there is no real Halloween music to play. Oh, there is “Thriller” by Michael Jackson and the awful “Monster Mash,” but what is there after that? Dance remixes of famous horror movie themes?… That’s not good enough!

And that is when an enterprising music genius steps in.

You make a CD that is family friendly, has some fun danceable tracks (maybe comes with its own dance move), add enough references to Halloween memories to stir a heartfelt response (think any classic Christmas song, most are built around memories) and you will be cashing a big check once a year for decades to come.

Sadly, I don’t have music talent and the extent of my songwriting skills only brings up corny titles like “I Want My Mummy” and “Do the Frankenstein Shuffle.” That is just embarrassing. It is even more embarrassing because I am literary enough to know Frankenstein is the doctor not the monster.

Sigh.

Here are the five things I am into this month… Continue reading