Sunday, September 08, 2019

A Little Bit of Old-Timey Sketching

As my son has gotten me into Star Wars The Old Republic, I present to you Darth Flatulus The Unblinking. Long my he reign!


Sunday, August 18, 2019

When we meet our heroes.

I attended Monster Mania this year for one reason only: because my favorite author, Clive Barker (with Ray Bradbury and Stephen King coming in as close seconds) was one of the attending guests. 

I'm not sure if "favorite author" is completely the right term. I'll put it this way: whenever I feel as if I'm running low on creative gas, I reread one of his novels - say, Weaveworld, Everville, or Imajica - and I feel as if I've received a imaginative booster shot. He has the ability to create worlds of fantastic beauty and horror that feel real the moment you enter them. Not to mention that he wrote and directed Hellraiser, my favorite horror film of all time (by all means, see one and two, but for the love of god and all that is holy, stop there.)

But Imajica always has had a special place in my heart. To put it simply, the early 1990s really were not a happy time for me, and burying myself in that epic novel was my favorite escape from my many troubles. While I owned a battered paperback, my sister Elena managed to find me a first-edition hardcover at a library sale years ago, and my dream was to have Mr. Barker sign it someday. Maybe we would even talk about writing for a bit.

In 2001, when Coldheart Canyon was published, I saw that he was coming to Manhattan as part of a book-signing tour. I planned to bring my copy of Imajica and ask him to sign it instead, as it meant so much to me. Unfortunately, the signing was for the middle of September of that year, and the events of 9-11 cancelled his traveling plans. As a New York City resident I had much more to worry about that month, and there were much greater tragedies all around me, but yes, I still felt let down. No matter, I decided, there would be other book signings.

As conventions came and went over the years, I kept my eyes peeled for his name among the guests. But if he did come to the east coast, I must have missed him. I met Doug Bradley (who brilliantly portrayed his creation Pinhead) years ago, and half of my questions were about Mr. Barker instead of him. I hope he wasn't too offended.

So, to make a long story short, I was ecstatic to see he was coming to Monster Mania this year, and bought tickets for Joe and myself.

Saturday came. I arrived at 9 am even though the main convention didn't open until 10, and was able to squeeze my Equinox into the last unofficial spot in a nearby field. I met up with my friend Steve and his son, and we went straight to the signing hall. There was Mr. Bradley along with all the other Cenobites, and their foil / heroine Ashley Lawrence, and there was Tony Todd who played Candyman (another Clive Barker creation)... but where was the man himself? Was he only doing panels and photo ops? I texted another friend and all around mistress-of-all-horror-conventions Maureen, who informed me that as a VIP, Mr. Barker's signing would take place upstairs on the mezzanine.

The line to see him was so long that it went outside of the hotel. I waited two hours in the sun, during which Joe supplied me with water. A young lady behind me passed out from the heat, and I helped her boyfriend get her into the shade. Around noon, I finally made it to an upstairs waiting room, and then, with a group of about ten, I was brought into his signing room.

Finally, I thought, Finally I would ask the questions I had wanted to ask for so long. Mainly... why hadn't he written anything in years? Why had The Scarlet Gospels (a recent novel about Pinhead trying to dethrone Lucifer) been so short? He had begun a captivating fantasy / horror trilogy, The Books of the Art - why hadn't he finished it? Sacrament had seemed to be such a personal and autobiographical novel - had there been a real-life Jacob Steep who had transformed his life in some way? Were there any more novels or films in the works?

Tables were set up around the perimeter with his amazing artwork, and there were a few people selling them for him as I made my way through the line - but where was he? I knew what he looked like, but none of the the men behind the tables looked like him.

And finally, I saw him.

All the pictures I had ever seen of him had been of a captivating, vibrant man with black hair, who vaguely resembled Paul McCartney. Sometimes he had a beard, sometimes he didn't. Of course, at sixty-six, he wouldn't look the same as his jacket photos from the 80s and 90s. But this man... this man was gaunt, and in a wheelchair. He had to lean on a table for support as his attendant placed books beneath his pen. Was he a victim of cancer? A stroke? Parkinson's? AIDS, or as he called it in Imajica, "The Plague"? My heart sank as my mind went through all the possibilities.

Finally, it was my turn. I put my giant hardcover on the table in front of him, and he smiled. He reached out for my hand with his shaking one, and I took it.

"Hello," he said in a raspy voice as he stared into my eyes. "How are you? Are you happy? Are you well?"

I was taken aback. This man was talking to me with such kindness, as if I were the one confined to a wheelchair instead of him. I cleared my throat, and managed to tell him that he had always been my favorite author. In fact, I was a writer as well, and he had been such an inspiration to me. His smile widened. "Really?" he asked, and managed a small laugh. "Thank you so much."

As he signed my slightly yellowed copy of Imajica, I told him about how the book had gotten me through hard times. "Wow," he said, as he reached for my hand again. As I shook it, he looked in my eyes again, and whispered, "I sincerely hope that those times are behind you, and happier times are ahead. Please be good to yourself."

I put my other hand over his, and thanked him. He smiled, and I collected my book, and left. Of course, I could never ask any of the questions I had meant to, but they didn't matter. Well, maybe I'll always wonder about Jacob Steep.

After I walked out of the room, I whipped out my Android and searched for the story of his illness. In 2012 he had gone in for a dental procedure, and suffered "acute toxic shock" while in the chair, which put him into a coma. Obviously, after seven years, his road to recovery has been a long one.

I've met a few celebrities and been disappointed by their brusqueness. I've met others and been pleasantly surprised by their genuine kindness and friendliness. But to be met by one of my heroes with such warmth, especially in his condition... it was an eye opener. It's something I'm going to have to mull over for a long time. Not only about how fragile life is, and how much I procrastinate my real work, but about the faces we show the world. Here is a man whose most famous creation is a terrifying demon with nails in his skull who tears souls apart with hooks. But while that man is facing the real horrors of his own life, he can still shine kindness and empathy towards strangers.

It gives the term "hero" a whole new meaning.



Friday, August 16, 2019

Along with my other two paperbacks!

The Forgotten Cathedral is now available at the Bernards Township Library in Basking Ridge, NJ. Don't think I'll ever compare to the old giants, but as a kid who spent his nerdy nights devouring all the classic sci-fi on its shelves, having my books there amongst them feels like a greater personal achievement than anything else.


Saturday, August 10, 2019

God bless Vespucciland!

Got to spend time once again with this insightful gentleman, make some new friends, and get one of my favorite albums & his autobiography signed. All in all, a happy night in the big city.


Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Moments of Thankfulness

To any and all of you out there who ever contributed a happy moment to my life - thank you.


Friday, July 26, 2019

How I love this city!

R-Train Preacher's Rant (transcribed with text to speech on my Android with punctuation edited by me):
"Satan walks hand in hand with the MTA and Donald Trump! See this window? (Smacks window with his open palm.) This window isn't new, it's from the 18th century. The MTA wants you to fall through this old glass onto the tracks and die - just like Donald Trump wants you to die! Why? because you have sinned against GOD! Yeah, you all look at your phones and say, 'Not me!' You want to ignore me? You want to look at Google and Facebook? That's fine! Wait until the MTA and Donald Trump push you onto the tracks because you are SINNERS IN THE EYES OF THE LORD and belong to SATAN! And you will whine and beg, (baby voice) "Oh but Jesus, I didn't know! I wanted to look at what my friends had for dinner! I wanted to peek at my ex girlfriend's selfie in a bikini!" And Donald Trump will laugh with the MTA because YOU KNEW! You heard the prophets of God, AND YOU LOOKED AT YOUR PHONES AND DIDN'T LISTEN!!!"



Monday, July 01, 2019

Memory Lane

I've been amusing myself by reliving inconsequential childhood memories. 

For example: When we were kids, my sainted cute little Sicilian mother always bought off brand Path-Mark Pop Tarts. There were zig-zagged lines on the back. I called them "Airplane lines." Why? Because as a kid in the 1970s with rabbit ear TV antennas, every time an airplane went overhead, the same zig-zag lines would cover the screen.

Like I said, inconsequential.

Speaking of Memory Lane... Back in the day, I attended Liberty Corner Elementary School in New Jersey. Someone had abandoned a car in the woods, right at the edge of the school's property, (In my mind it was a Model T but who knows, it could have been Model Anything up to the 1970s. Our teachers always told us at recess to stay away from it - which we ignored.

Anyway, for some reason - like the boy who exploded after consuming Pop Rocks and Coke, or the girl who had her head ripped off by a ride at Great Adventure - we had the urban legend going that there was at least one skeleton underneath the car, and that at night it would rise and haunt the neighborhood. I remember Mrs. Rooney (my first grade teacher) telling us in exasperation that skeletons aren't real. Of course, me being the know-it-all smart-ass that I am, I had to make the point that yes they are, they just don't come to life.

How to win friends and influence people, 101.

In other news, The Most Honored Papasan was hospitalized a few weeks ago with pneumonia - which is a pretty scary thing for someone who is 87. Fortunately, he's home and recovering.

And there was much rejoicing. 


Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Twice Upon A Time

The Most Honored Papasan turned 87 on Sunday. I wonder if I'll make it that long. Maybe we'll have robot bodies by then, who knows? Maybe I'll just be a brain in a jar on a shelf - a certain "Abby... someone..." in the words of Marty Feldman.

That means I have to make it to 47, and then 48, and so on and so forth.

Went out last week to say goodbye to a friend who is moving away. Went out the week before that to hang out with a friend who is still here. 

An old, once close friend left for good a few months ago. While I did try a few times to call the hospital, sometimes I feel guilty that I should have done more to say goodbye. Or to have been a better friend when she was around.

That's life. Sometimes I've been a good friend, I hope. Sometimes I should have been better. I suppose everyone feels that way. We all just do the best we can.

I've felt as if my life has been in a holding pattern these past few months. Or maybe years. I've lost track. I know I've said it before.

My nieces and nephews have discovered my YouTube channel. I used to love making animations. It feels like something another person did, sometimes. They've fallen in love with "Herman Takes a Dive." They actually quote it, and talk about how much it cracks them up - even though watching it now makes me wince at how primitive it is - and it makes me feel wonderful.

I may have a tiny fan club, but I wouldn't trade the three of them for a thousand others.


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Monokote in my eyeballs make me cry

Another uneventful day. I don't suppose days have to be eventful. I go up the ladder, I pull the wire, I go down the ladder, I get Monokote in my hair, etc. You've heard it all before.

Mary's wedding was last week, out in Arizona. It was fun, and nice to see people I haven't seen in years. Everything moves at such a whirlwind these days. I look forward to traveling, but then I want to be in my own bed, and using my own toilet. I'm getting old.

I binge-watched Penny Dreadful while I was on vactation. It's a fun show that mashes up all the old Victorian / Edwardian era public domain monsters, such as Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolfman, Doctor Jekyll, etc. Now that I'm done with it, I'm re-reading Frankenstein. I seem to remember the act of reading it by flashlight as a kid more than the plot itself.

My own short stories are coming slower than I'd like, but they're coming at least. Sometimes I get caught up, and have to fish around in my mind for the right catalyst.

My dreams have been bizarrely continuous lately. Not really with a plot, but sort of in the same place. They are at a much larger version of my parents' house in NJ, stretching out to Pleasant Valley Park. Sometimes they're lucid. I've managed to move all the oceans up into the sky as another moon, and turn the rotation of the earth backwards so I can walk westward towards the sun in the mornings. However far I walk, the next time I dream, I always find myself back at the dream version of my childhood home, with its ridiculously high-ceilinged attic.

I'm almost always alone, though sometimes Signor Grandpagoni is napping on a lawn chair in the driveway. He doesn't talk much, and doesn't want to play Pinochle, but I'm happy he's there.

I walked to an old friend's house on Lyons Road once, and it was all marble, with Doric columns. It was the only other structure for miles around, except for Liberty Corner Elementary School. There's an elevator in the original gym (I think my kindergarten class in 1978 was the last one to use it) But every time I try to take it down, the lights turn red, and there's screaming all around me, and it plummets - and then unfortunately I wake up. Just when things start to get interesting.

Maybe the afterlife consists of an alternate dimension of Liberty Corner.

Come visit.


Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Señora Corrales!

Felicitaciones a Mary y mi nuevo hermano Waldo!


Monday, April 08, 2019

"My name is Otto, it means 'eight'."

For shits and giggles, I've been trying to teach myself Italian using Duolingo. With phrases like these, I figure that by the time I'm done, I'll be about as verbose as a three-year-old raised by wolves.


Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Analyze Tony Once Again

I dreamt last night that I was at some sort of religious retreat. We each were given a magical scroll, a pen, and fortune cookie dough. We were supposed to write a wish on the scroll, put it in the cookie, bake it and eat it to make it come true. I wanted to write "I wish I always found life fascinating and was never bored again," but I couldn't find my scroll anywhere. I turned all my pockets out and frantically retraced my steps, but it was gone.

We all then went to a barbecue at an old family friend's house. They had an observatory in their attic, complete with a water slide to return to the kitchen. I rode the slide a few times, and went outside. I ran into someone I recognized as an old and dear friend who completely recognized me - but I couldn't remember who she was. She kept hugging me and saying how happy she was to see me again. Then her face hardened into a silvery mask which twisted all out of shape into something like a bird. Then she ran off into the woods.

So I got into a 1970s station wagon with a few other people. We drove, and came to a village where people were screaming and running... from flaming tigers that were 100 feet high. They tore houses and cars open and ate the people inside. Our driver disappeared. I tried to climb into the driver's seat, but I woke up - inexplicably with Zappa's "Let's Make the Water Turn Black" stuck in my head.

Feel free to analyze.


Thursday, March 07, 2019

Words of Wisdom I Stole From Someone Else

Can't remember where I first heard this: 

I have bad eyesight*
My father has bad eyesight.
My daughter has bad eyesight.

No matter how much they've helped him, my father's glasses can't help me.
No matter how much they've helped me, my glasses can't help my daughter.

Sometimes, the ones we love have the same problems, and we hate seeing them hurt, so we badly want them to use what helped us, and get frustrated when they don't. But sometimes the same exact solution just can't work for different people. 


PS *Yes, I know, I got myself LASIKed years ago, but for the sake of this post, let's pretend I didn't.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Warning: Perspective from your eyeballs may vary!

Me: Huh... Captain Marvel looks kind of average fare, but what the hell, Marvel usually delivers. Maybe I'll see it if Mandy really wants to, but movie theaters are so ridiculously expensive these days. Best of luck, though. I just hope she's not planned to be a Goddess-level deus-ex-machina savior of the Avengers in Endgame. After the awesomeness of Infinity War, that would be a total cop-out.

Brie Larson: "I started paying attention to... the critics reviewing movies, and noticed it appeared to be overwhelmingly white male... I don’t need a 40-year-old white dude to tell me what didn’t work about A Wrinkle in Time, it wasn’t made for him!"

Me: ...Oh jeez, are you seriously going to go down this road? Come on, Disney, you know better than that. Let's not fabricate hate where none exists. I frequent a few dens of online iniquity that some people would probably knee-jerk label as "sexist" or worse, and honestly, almost all of the guys there just have the same "wait and see" attitude right now. Everyone loves Marvel because they keep their movies fun. Remember when movie hype used to try and make people feel good about their films instead of trying to piss them off? SJW politics ruin everything they touch, so let's just all keep feeling good about the Marvel universe, please?


Me: Oh, by the hairy armpits of Vishnu... Men have absolutely no problem with female lead characters in the sci-fi/fantasy/horror world, as long as it's well written and isn't deliberately misandrist. Wonder Woman beat you to the punch, and most men didn't have any problem with that. Lots of men consider Rogue One to be the best Star Wars film after the original trilogy. Bumblebee was pretty well accepted. Hellraiser, Halloween, there's a new film called Alita that looks pretty cool, Game of Thrones when it followed the books... hell, men on the whole have been rabid fans of Alien for 40 years. No one has ever had an issue with Princess Leia (even though Disney is putting out Star Wars revisionist cartoons that shit on Luke to try and make her look even better by comparison, but that's another kvetch...) In fact, a lot of us men over forty read and loved A Wrinkle in Time back before Brie Larson was even born - though she has regally decreed that by virtue of our skin color and evil dangley bits, it wasn't written "for us." So why the false narrative? Why are you deliberately trying to piss off your core fans? This is why Marvel's comic book division is suffering -


Me: Sigh... Of course you're going to find examples of adolescent trolls on the internet, but they're an extremely tiny percentage of the whole. There's lots of misandrist comments out there too, the difference is, they're socially acceptable. Honestly, what did you expect? You're deliberately farming for outrage, and most of what you're referring to is the inevitable backlash from men sick of being accused and insulted, and shamed into silence just for saying so. This is the same garbage that's tarnished Star Wars and tanked Ghostubsters 2016. I don't know why -


Me: Sigh. Come on, you know that's an outright lie. You CAN'T put reviews on Rotten Tomatoes for it now. You're talking about people commenting that they personally won't see it. That's not a review. I can't say I blame them after the way you're -


Me: You know what? You win. I don't even care about Brie Larson's slightly prejudiced virtue signalling. It was a stupid move, but it wasn't even that big a deal - just Hollyweird being Hollyweird. But you've basically ruined any good will I had towards this film, and I refuse to be bullied into seeing it. I have no desire to give Disney any money for it now, and because of your misandrist bullshit, I might even wait until Endgame comes out on streaming instead of shelling out big bucks in the theater. My wallet and I bid you good day.

Media: NO, WAIT!... It's all Brie's fault, right? She kind of sortta says she didn't mean anything by it... maybe. Come on, don't be like that. Give Disney another chance you fragile, privILEGED, WHITE, MISOGI- (cough) I mean, wait...


Wednesday, February 20, 2019

IF: Electronic

Illustration Friday: Electronic. Click for full size.


Saturday, February 16, 2019

The wonderful things they can do nowadays

A while ago, I found some of my extended family on, and a (2nd? 3rd?) distant cousin who had created a page for my grandmother, although he didn't have any of the details beyond her name. While her story was a sad one, I'm very happy that with dad's help, I was able to fill in some of the blanks.

I'd also like to add that by all accounts, my Aunt Nelda (Leonarda) bore the brunt of raising her little brothers.


Thursday, February 14, 2019

Illustration Friday: Fire (It's been a while)

It's been a while since I did an Illustration Friday. Maybe it'll keep me off the streets.


Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Another Uneventful Day

I bend pipe. I pull wires through the pipe. I connect them at either end. I turn a switch on, and something lights up.

So it goes.

I've been having lots of dreams about urination lately. Praise the FSM this does not equate to bladder release in real life. According to the internet, this is supposed to be the release of repressed emotions. So apparently, I have repressed emotions about urinals.

I miss this blog, and how my friends and I would have discussions in the comment sections. These days, the comment section is just a spam-filter graveyard. All the conversations seem to be happening on Facebook. But someday, a real person will comment here again. "The statistical likelihood is that other civilizations will arise. There will, one day, be lemon-soaked paper napkins."

Speaking of social media, Google + is apparently going the way of the Dodo. No one will miss it, I think. It tried replacing Facebook the way Facebook replaced MySpace. The only problem is that it really did not do it in any way that was enough of an improvement for people to want to switch.

I read Doctor Who: Scratchman. by Tom Baker (based on a script he had written with the late Ian Marter, and apparently with some help by James Goss) it was supposed to have been a Doctor Who film in the 1970s, apparently involving Vincent Price and Twiggy. I felt sad when I finished it. Not because the book is depressing, but because it so perfectly encapsulated all the wonder and imagination that Doctor Who meant to me, once upon a time.

I was a young nerd. Now I'm a somewhat older nerd.

Speaking of being an older nerd, another short story collection is in the works (which will include "Just One of Those Human Things" and "Fishers of Men", so they can have a print release.) Then the ending to Debris of Shadows. It's weird to think of these characters frozen in time, their lives on pause. I don't have the following of G.R.R. Martin, nor do I have HBO to write an ending for me (nor would I want them to), but I promise I won't leave any of you cold.

After that, only an even older and hopefully wiser nerd will be able to tell.

Take care, my friends. I hope you're well and happy.


Wednesday, January 23, 2019


Okay, there's something I really can't understand, here.

If a group of black teenagers were accused worldwide of confronting and well... basically being a bunch of dicks to a group of Native Americans, and they and their families received death threats and harassment completely disproportionate to the charges -

and then evidence was revealed that it actually happened the other way around -

but then the mainstream media, instead of apologizing, worked night and day to dig up anything - ANYTHING - to prove those black teens were... well... guilty of SOMETHING - even things that other classmates did years before they were enrolled at the same school, or things that happened at other schools in the same diocese, but again having nothing to do with the false charges, or even the boys in question -

Would that be racist?

Would we perpetuate it, or speak out against it?

Or say this all happened to a group of feminist teenage girls who were singled out because they wore pink hats and shirts supporting Hillary Clinton. Pretend that grown men screamed racist and homophobic insults at them for over an hour, and then another adult male got in their faces and beat a drum, trying to intimidate them and incite a conflict, and after that, the mainstream media deliberately made them known worldwide as "Hitler Youth."

Would trying to dig up any dirt (ANY dirt at all - PLEASE!) on them after they were proved innocent of the accusations in question be misogyny?

What if celebrities said that they didn't care if the accusations were false, these girls still deserved threats of violence and a lifetime of shame because they were openly Hillary supporting feminists, and that meant that they deserve everything they get?

Would that be acceptable, or would that be hateful?

As I've said before, I have no love for Trump, and and I'm sure at some point some of these boys (like a vast number of human beings) have done things that are wrong, or even reprehensible. But at this stage, especially when video evidence proved the original allegations were false, desperately perpetuating their vilification merely because they're white, Trump-supporting Catholic males seems blatantly prejudiced, hypocritical, and vindictive.