Wednesday, July 31, 2013

When it gets too hot for comfort, and you can't get an ice cream cone, t'ain't no sin to take off your skin, and dance around in your bones.

If there is a hell, then Rome is built upon it.
                                                                                      ~ Martin Luther

One of the drawbacks to living in Rome is that the summers are an inferno.  When Michelangelo came back to paint The Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel, his biggest concern was that his father, a pretty old guy by that point, wouldn't be able to survive the heat.  I'm pretty sure that if you look over the last 3,000 years you'll see a disproportionate amount of nutty behavior concentrated between May and September.  It's the reason Romans have always been so keen on high-level ceilings, and why the entire city goes on holiday for the month of August.

Since I can't afford the luxury of leaving, and because this country has yet to embrace the magic of A/C, here's my summer playlist.  Each of these songs is a little Jack Torrence employed to make sure my Overlook doesn't explode.

Dead Can Dance - Opium

The Gun Club  - Cool Drink of Water

Sonic Youth - Créme Brûlèe

Swans - God Damn the Sun

Lycia - Colder

Sunn O))) - Alice

Neurosis - A Sun That Never Sets

Hank Williams - Cool Water

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

time cards, tips, contempt for the public, and the keys to the register

I came across this blog post listing 55 famous authors and what they did for a living before they wrote.  Here's what I've been:
  • Busboy
  • Bellboy
  • English as Foreign Language Teacher
  • Public School Substitute
  • Pub Crawl Guide
  • Fireworks Salesman
  • Production Assistant on Shitty Indie Film
  • Waiter at Fundamentalist Bible Conference Center
  • Office Temp
  • Computer Lab Assistant
  • Actor at Halloween Theme Park
  • Tour Guide at Vatican Museums
Oh, and a biologist once paid me $500 to analyze footage of squids having sex.

Friday, July 12, 2013

2013 in Reading Material (so far)

I try to read at least forty books a year.  It usually ends up being more like thirty-five, but I forgive myself on the grounds that some of the books I read are really fucking long.

Now that we're at the halfway point of 2013 (Jesus, where does the time go?), here's what I've read so far:

Susana Clarke - Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel
Ernest Hemingway - The Old Man and the Sea
Shakespeare - The Merchant of Venice
Clive Barker - Weaveworld
Clive Barker - Imajica
Clive Barker - The Great and Secret Show
Clive Barker - Everville
Dante - Inferno
Dante - Purgatorio
Dante - Paradiso
Richard Matheson - A Stir of Echoes
Richard Matheson - What Dreams May Come
Richard Matheson - Hell House
Richard Matheson - Nightmare at 20,000 Feet
Richard Matheson - I am Legend
E. E. Rice - Alexander the Great
Christopher Hibbert - Rome: The Biography of a City
Keith Hopkins and Mary Beard - The Colosseum

Monday, July 8, 2013

Dark Visions

Grey Matter Press has launched a website for their upcoming series of horror anthologies Dark Visions.  Vol 1, due to be released sometime this summer, will contain my short story 'The Troll.'  They've posted the table of contents and pics of the covers, which look pretty damn slick.  Go check it out!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Gone to Summerland

Richard Matheson, in case you missed the headlines, passed away on June 23rd.

For me, his death came as one of those amazing coincidences that direct your line of reason towards the possibility that maybe the universe isn't so random after all.  I got the news at a half-hour to midnight.  At the moment I was trying in vain to get some sleep, as I had to be up at five the next morning.  From time to time, I pulled my copy of I am Legend from my bedside table, which I was reading for the first time since high school.  It was the fifth Matheson book I'd read in a row.

The one good thing about the death of great writers is that their passing is usually followed by a rediscovery on behalf of the reading public.  I'd like to contribute to this in my own small way, so take my advice: if you like horror fiction, check this man out.

Ray Bradbury called Matheson one of the most important writers of the twentieth century.  In terms of storytelling power, I would say that Matheson was about seven tenths as good as Bradbury (though thankfully, his style is missing that reactionary element that marks so much of Bradbury's work).  Brian Lumley and Stephen King continue to cite him as their greatest influence.  Anne Rice credits his story 'Dress of White Silk' for sparking her interest at a young age.  Even George Romero claims that his zombies were born as Matheson's vampires.

In light of all this praise, I've always wondered why Richard Matheson isn't more of a household name.  It's surely not due to inaccessibility, as all his stories take place on Main St., America.  Also, it's not like he was ignored by Hollywood.  When he was writing for The Twilight Zone, he flew his stories straight into the pop-cultural lexicon.  Even if you've never seen 'Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,' you've heard a joke or two about the gremlin on the wing, maliciously tearing up the jet engine.  On top of that, a quarter of his books were turned into major movies.  Sadly, most bear only a superficial resemblance to their source material.

So why has he remained underground while his children have flourished in broad daylight?  Who knows.  All I can say is I hope that, like the discorporated narrator of What Dreams May Come, now that he's gone to Summerland, he can replenish himself for a fresh return.