Anger is an energy. A post for Hold Onto The Light

I originally wanted to title this post “Screw you, Kesha”. But saner voices in my head, (including John Hartness going “don’t punch down, dude.”) prevailed. Knocking on an abuse survivor just because you vehemently disagree with the underlying principle of her latest hit is no reason to go nuclear. But it was really tempting.

Kesha’s latest song, “Praying”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-Dur3uXXCQ is about her struggle to come to grips with her abuse at the hands of her producer, Dr. Luke. Anyone looking to debate the merits of her accusations can go right to hell. As an abuse survivor, I’ll believe her until someone can actually prove she’s lying. That’s what you do with people who come forward, folks.

But my problem with Kesha’s song is the idea and tone of the song. She talks about “I hope you find your peace/falling on your knees/praying”.I really think this is the wrong message to send to abuse survivors. I think that asking for peace for abusers is still wishing them well, and that’s the last thing I want to do.

I get that we’re all supposed to wish for peace, that we’re supposed to love our enemies. I’ve never subscribed to that particular branch of the spiritual tree. I have no interest in forgiveness for those who abused me. Because they have no interest in being forgiven.

That’s why I have the issue. Why waste forgiveness on those that aren’t sorry, and never will be? When did being angry at those who’ve harmed us intentionally, and their enablers, become poisonous?

I’m a huge fan of John Lydon, the singer for the Sex Pistols and the lead force behind his own group, Public Image Limited. The title of this post and his latest autobiography, the phrase “anger is an energy”.come from the PiL song “Rise https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zN-GGeNPQEg. It’s words I live by.

I could be bitter, I could give my abusers victory by spiraling into a gutter somewhere. I did that for years. Wasn’t very productive.When I was down there, I found someone who understood my viewpoint. His name was Andrew Vachss, and he saved my life.

I wasn’t a good person in my early twenties. I was a complete nihilist who drank too much, screwed whatever he could get his hands on, and believed that every day was his last, hopefully. I was working in a bookstore(RIP B.Dalton’s Lakehurst Mall) and every morning, we had the Oprah report.

Young people forget how much power that lady had in the early 90’s. If she promoted a book that morning, I’d have at least 20 calls One of the authors she put on her show was Andrew Vachss. My manager , Renee, took one of his books, Blossom(I think), and put it in my hands. She regretted it, because once it was in my hands, I didn’t get anything else done.

It wasn’t like anything I’d ever read before. It was hard boiled noir, featuring a con man of sorts named Burke. But Burke’s victims were abusers, kiddie porn traffickers, Nazi sympathizers and their ilk. Burke wasn’t just a cop putting guys away to learn more skills. He was putting them in the ground, or so far upthe river they’d never see daylight.

I bought every book. I ordered his appearances on Orpah on tape from her studios. Other authors flowered from the same spot he watered. I learned about Charles DeLint, Joe Lansdale  and other from him. I learned to recognize the abuse I’d suffered and was suffering. I got help.

And Andrew Vachss didn’t just write about it either. He organized Protect, the first lobbying group designed strictly for fighting for kids. He was a defense attorney for kids. He walked his talk, to a degree that stands as an example for all of us.

But the thing I liked about Vachss’ work was the anger underneath it all. wrapped up in writing at a levle I hope to achieve before I leave this planet. Yeah, it’s hero worship, Shit, one of the reasons I married my wife is that I made her read Blue Belle by Vachss, told her it was my favorite romance ever, and she didn’t run screaming.But if the 12 steps gurus and fluffy bunny crystal wearers aren’t salving your sore soul, Vachss is a step in the right direction.

“Do you hate them? Do you hate them all?” is a question Cross(another Vachss lead character) asks in a book. My answer is yes. I hate the abusers, their enablers, and those who deny the abusers and their victims for their own interests.

Now, you can say that all that anger poisons the well.That living with hate in your heart burns you out and kills your love dead. I know that. I’m not asking you to be a bitter recluse. I’m asking you to take that anger, that hate, that burning, and light a fire. Let that fire be the light in your soul, the one that burns with anger for the abusers, and love for the victims, and love for the future people , so that you do whatever you can to take the predatory animals in human suits off the streets.

Go volunteer at a domestic abuse shelter. Teach self defense classes. Educate people about things like sex trafficking and what to watch out for. Donate to the Legislative Drafting Institute For Child Protection  https://www.facebook.com/Legislative-Drafting-Institute-for-Child-Protection-1712090195710175/?fref=ts. If you don’t know where to begin go to Andrew’s site http://www.vachss.com and go to resources.

But above all else, don’t feel bad for your anger. Whether it’s at an abuser, an enabler, or an institute. If you don’t feel like granting peace, do not feel bad for that. I did for years,because the person was someone I loved. I hope something in this has helped those of you out there who don’t feel like “Praying”.

About the campaign:
#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.
Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Hope for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.
To find out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors and blog posts, or reach a media contact, go to http://www.HoldOnToTheLight.com and join us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/WeHoldOnToTheLight

Health Journey-The beginning.

This post is going to go into detail about my new quest, to be more active and get to a better state of health. Some of the details may bore or disgust you, but you’ve been warned. People wanted to know about my experiences with my new Fitbit and the DDP Yoga program. Today is day one. Not sure when I’ll blog about it more, but I need to blog more, so this might be an outlet for that. People who read my stuff for politics to or my usual rants should look elsewhere.

I’ve never been good with my health. I was raised by two people with polar opposite opinions of the medical profession. My mother was a raging hypochondriac,which made it doctors insane when she had actual health problems. It also tended to make them prescribe her something just so she’d go away. I had a doctor admit that to me once.

My father was raised in farm country in Minnesota. He hated doctors with a passion, mainly because of the medical professions inability to diagnose my grandfather’s PTSD and depression, a situation that peaked with my father being literally chased around his house with an ax, as my grandfather mistook him for a German soldier in a flashback. Those same doctors also told my grandfather he was faking it the six times he had heart attacks in the 60’s. Small town life , it gets you the best medical care.

So take those warring forces, and it’s no wonder I have issues with my health. Then I was born with medical issues, and they both overreacted, badly, I was a breach baby, born legs first. When the doctor pulled me out, he literally dropped me onto the ground.  I landed on my shoulders and back. As a result, I’ve always had motor skill issues, and I didn’t develop upper body strength normally. It’s why I type like a wino,looking down,hunting and pecking.

It also left me with a condition called Hirschsprung’s disease.  Basically, part of my colon has no nerve cells. It’s made me have issues as long as I can remember. I’ve had more constipation and bowel accidents than entire nursing homes. I’ve grown out of most of my issues, but it really does isolate you.

Just when my parents thought my body couldn’t surprise them again, I started having seizures when I was six. I only ever had petit mal ones, the ones where I turn off like a light. Once had a neurologist think I was faking, and came out of a strobe induced seizure with a six inch needle through my hand. Mom wanted me to go back to that guy,scarily enough.

So I grew up with bowel issues, a lack of arm strength, and lots of doctor visits. Add in a prescription for phenobarbitol, and is it any wonder I only have one friend from childhood, and lots of it is blurry?Oh wait, that was because they waited until I was nine to take me to an eye doctor because I said everything looked spray painted at a distance.Most of this was handled by my mother. My dad was too busy being an emotionally distant workaholic to do anything but complain about the bills.

Thankfully, much of this changed with puberty. I grew a lot, and found regular consumption of microwave popcorn(not kidding) stopped most of my bathroom issues. With an increased metabolism, and my own money, I went on a junk food spree from sixteen to twenty six. I was 186 and 6 foot 3 when I left high school. I also knew jack shit about nutrition, and didn’t care.

I was a young man in my twenties. Dennys, TV dinners, booze and every fast food chain you could name was my friend. Add in a divorce and living with an angry and cold father, and you’ve got a great recipe for being an emotional eater.

I like fast food, but I LOVE stuff from gas stations and bodegas. Bad day? Don’t worry, Trevor, just walk down to the corner store and Little Debbie will take care of you, her and Dr. Pepper. It’s a problem I fight to this day.

I think I was about 30 when I really noticed I was gaining weight. I’ve always had body image issues, but a girlfriend made me take a hard look at myself. And I really didn’t like what I saw. But my answer was to drown my sorrows every morning with St. Louis Bread Company bagels on my way to work every morning. It was a pattern of bad eating that a retail career would only reinforce for years.

I maintained a weight of about 230-250 for about the next ten years or so, my record low weight being 230 on my wedding day. I settled into my usual bad eating, but now I had a partner in crime. Actually , four of them. I love people who complain about the state of health in this country, and then can’t explain why a burger is a buck and a salad is seven dollars. It costs to eat healthy, folks, and with three mouths to feed, starches and hamburger helper become the norm, not the exception. I’d like to say I stepped up and tried to get my step daughters to exercise and eat better, but I foolishly believed that was school’s job.

The first real hitch in my health giddyup came in 2006. I had a night of massive painful heartburn. Turned out to be my gallbladder trying to kill itself. A surgeon helped it the rest of the way, but I foolishly didn’t listen when he said no fats for six weeks after the surgery. LISTEN WHEN THEY TELL YOU THIS. I had a liquid rainbow coming out of my ass for months after. Even now, some foods set off my system at a moments notice.

You’d think this would make me think more about my health, and you’d be right.  My wife and I have joined the YMCA more times than I care to think about. Planet Fitness is  three stoplights from my house. We were there for a year, went 12 times. Even 24 hour access couldn’t get me to exercise.

So what’s different this time? Why should anyone believe this will work better this time? I don’t know. All I know is that it feels different. As do I.

I turned 48 last week. I’ve been unemployed for over a year, mostly to care for my granddaughter and help home school my daughter. I’d like to say the free time has allowed me more time to exercise, but the inverse is true.

I’m 48, and I feel like I’m 65. If they offered me my SSI tomorrow I don’t know if I’d turn it down. I’m tired all the time. My knees, hips and shoulders bother me much more than they did a year ago. I feel old, not to put a fine point on it. I feel like I’m months, not years away from needing a Rascal.

Also, I went to my doctor last month. Got put on a second blood pressure medicine. My BP is up near 160 still.  I’m now at 314, the heaviest I’ve been, ever.With people I know dropping from cancer and suicide, I’m going to be honest:I’m fucking scared.

Hence, the DDP Yoga and Fitbit. I’m trying to fix my diet,a process that’s as much mental as physical.  Both of these claim to help with both, so let’s look at the first day with both.

I set up my Fitbit Flex 2 this morning. Going to use it for steps and sleep montoring. It can do diet, but I’ve got to settle on one before I can use it for that. My initial goals are 8K steps a day and six hours of sleep a night, both of which I haven’t had in a while.

DDP Yoga came in the mail yesterday. I paged through the accompanying book, reading about his exercise and diet plan. The diet plan is pretty much a standard heart healthy one:cut out the processed foods and dairy, and go organic or not at all. Not in a position yet to afford organic everything, but going to cut out as much of the processed as I can

I got up this morning and popped in the DDP Yoga DVD,disc 1. The first section is on breathing. He’s a big advocate of breathing from your diaphragm, which gave me aikido class flashbacks.  Not too bad.

The next section was called Wake Up. It’s designed to be done partially in bed,but I was already up. So I laid on the floor, and did the stretches. They helped me feel better, but didn’t really give me a clue about what made DDP Yoga different.

The third section was called Beginner’s Beginning. It’s designed for folks with limited mobility, which turned out to be me. Much of DDP Yoga works on a combination of Yoga moves and dynamic resistance.  You get as much out of it as you put in. Reminded me of watching Jack LaLanne as a kid, but DDP is much lively and positive. He has you do the moves with help of chairs, and puts his own spin on moves. He has you do is signature Diamond Cutter move as a way to push your arms against each other and build strength up. He couches moves in sports terms like Grabbing the Ball and Touchdown. I do like that he calls squeezing your arms down and around Hulking Out. All in all, it’s a pretty strenuous workout, even at the beginning stage. I got all the way to the first chain of moves before I had to stop.

I’m hoping to do more with this tomorrow, and going to attempt the basic workout, the Diamond Dozen, on Monday.  Until then, try and keep it safe,OK? And if you need help, talk to someone, even me, if you need someone. Bye.

 

2016 is the Year of the Stones

Let us be honest: if 2016 sucked any harder, we’d have to rename it Dyson. Celebrities died by the handfuls, Syrians died by the thousands, and American souls died by the millions at the hand of Cheeto Hitler. In certain Chinese cultures, each year is named after an animal. I think this year was either Rooster or Water Bear, can’t remember which. But while trying to come up with a Yule blessing this afternoon, I came up with the perfect objects to symbolize 2016: stones

The first stones are gravestones. It has been a devastating year for the music fans, taking Prince, Bowie and George Michael among others. But so many people I know lost people close to them, In fact, 2016 was the first year in 30 that the death rate when up in this country. So it ain’t just you.

The second stones are the ones that get thrown by those that shouldn’t. From McCrook bashing trans people while being more corrupt than Pilate, to people believing the worst rumors about Hillary  while denying facts about Trump. People slung lies like David unto Goliath and didn’t care whether they were true or not.

The third stones are the metaphorical ones that symbolize nuts , guts and verve. They were both good(Trumps) and bad(Standing Rock), but  you had to admit, people were all going “Can you believe?” about lots of folks. Shout out to Bernie Sanders for his, standing tall in what he believed in, right to the end. If more people had these, the world would be a much better  place.

There it is folks, the Stones of 2016. Hopefully Trump doesn’t do something stupid where we’ll need those to hunt and cook. Good night.

 

Holiday music for people who hate holiday music.

I’ll start right off the bat with a confession. For most of my life, I hated the holiday season. Couldn’t stand it. Being raised by two parents,one abusive, the other mentally unstable, with the nearest relatives 500 miles way, meant they were to be endured,not celebrated. Don’t get me wrong, I got toys, I had a roof over my head,it could have been worse. But fighting, arguing and screaming tended to put an icing on the holiday cakes that made them hard to swallow.

Flash forward  a decade or so, and I spend most of my holidays working retail. I could write chapter and verse about how much working registers during Xmas will utterly destroy your faith in humanity, but that’s not the point. I spent those months having my ears destroyed by the dulcet  tones of everyone from RuPaul to Garth Brooks crooning about happiness. Meanwhile I’m getting berated for not having Down Periscope on Blu-ray..

It took years of being married to a woman with real family and having kids for me to get any Xmas spirit whatsoever. But the problem of holiday music still remained. Years of driving up through Wisconsin some years have left me with utter hatred of “Blue Christmas” by Elvis and “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee, because after 4 PM, that’s all they play.

So what to do? Thankfully, the Internet saved me. A decade or so ago, I joined a list for fans of the Bordertown anthologies and novels. Never read them? They’re truly where Urban Fantasy as we know it begins. But one lady put together a mix of “loud” and “quiet” holiday music for people, and I got it put to disc. (Thanks Cat, where ever you are) It’s become a tradition in our family, and I’ll share it with you. Bear in mind, some are NSFW, and I’m adding a couple of personal favorites at the end that definitely aren’t, and are only for when you’ve really had it with family and shopping. Enjoy. And if you don’t like any of this, go tell Gail Martin, she started it.

PS. I’ve provided Youtube links where I can.

Cat’s Xmas Mix:

A-Souling- Lothlorien https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Fk9xqxiBhc

I Believe in Father Christmas-Emerson Lake & Palmer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjggWxGYLdo

Christmas in Hollis-Run DMC. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OR07r0ZMFb8

St. Stephen’s Day Murders-Chieftains & Elvis Costello https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8fPvODASoI

A Christmas Carol-Tom Lehrer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtZR3lJobjw

Christmas Eve Sarajevo-Trans Siberian Orchestra https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHioIlbnS_A

Christmas At Ground Zero-Weird Al Yankovic https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t039p6xqutU

Christmas in Prison-John Prine https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jj-Vff5HPhc

Christmas Night of the Living Dead- MXPX https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOgN-aAjh7w

December is for Cynics-The Matches https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcnLW840vP4

Father Christmas-The Kinks https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2X0JzlO8SM

Christmas Wrapping-The Waitresses https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARq6uYSsUq0

Fairytale of New York-The Pogues(MY FAVORITE XMAS SONG EVER!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9jbdgZidu8

Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin-Christmas Jug Band https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ajr61sUuCo

I Won’t Be Home For Christmas-Blink-182 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sy9_JjLnmZI

Oi To The World-No Doubt https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFLExwIQKto

A Gun For Christmas- The Vandals https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jB_5VbhIBzY

I Did It For The Toys-Dance Hall Crashers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eArdl08Unc

Just Like Christmas-Low https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Nhbv74Hz54

Christmas is a pain in the Arse-The Accelerators https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCxACwG7O0Y

The Christians and The Pagans-Dar Williams https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_KiHRHwaAs

The Night Santa Went Crazy- Weird Al Yankovic https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u21Cnwok8Jo

Bonus Tracks:

The Season’s Upon Us-Dropkick Murphys https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTx-sdR6Yzk

Zat You, Santa Claus?-Buster Poindexter https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEP2IrByImw

Silent Night-Bad Religion https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YA2Jqve_BCk

And for those in a really bad Xmas mood…

Santa Claus Is A Fat Bitch-Insane Clown Posse.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cd47CBbvhKg

Hope this helps!

Under the bed with Mr. Self Destruct: A #HoldOnToTheLight blog post.

Hi, come on in. You can’t really. You have to push back the mattress, to the space made by the raised shelves and drawers. Makes a space about three feet high, and it’s the size of a twin mattress. Excuse the mess, but I’ve been down here for about forty years.

Welcome to Under the Bed. When Gail asked me to write about mental health, it scared me. I’ve been shot at, knifed and raised kids. This terrified me worse. Because it meant peeling back layers, to show what’s underneath all the ranting, rambling teddy bear of a man.

Nothing.

That noise? Oh that’s Mr. Self Destruct. Used to call him Pazuzu, when I liked him. I really don’t these days, mainly because he’s every little bad thing I’ve ever said,felt or believed about myself. We have a continual debate about whether I’m really a person or not.

You are nothing.

People will use this forum to tell you about their lives. I had planned to write a long history of my life, one with few joys(my wife, my daughters, music, books) and lots of pain(abuse, alcoholism, suicide attempts), but I’ve already lived it, and I do my best every day to not go back to it, because all it takes is one fight with someone, one car wreck.

And I’m back under the Bed.

It used to be real, I slept there from six until fourteen. It was furnished with books and a pile of stuffed animals,handmade by my grandmother.. It hid me from the weekly parental fights, from my mom’s alcoholic rages, from other kids when I was a latchkey kid and they were threatening to break down the door and kick my ass.

You’re boring them, dumbass. You told them you weren’t going to talk about it.

He’s right, though. You’re not going to care about my life, if you’re reading this as part of the series. But that’s OK. Because what I’m here to talk about is selfishness. Because it might be the only thing that keeps you alive.

Selfishness is a touchy subject in mental health circles. If you lay in bed all day because of your depression, you’re seen as lazy. If you sleep 16 hours, you’re a horrible person. You didn’t write 500 words today? You’re never going to be a writer.

Quit using my material, or I’ll flash back to your first attempt to feel up a girl.

I’m finding it hard to write this, because I haven’t posted in a year. I could lie and say I’ve been doing great things, but I haven’t. I’ve been doing the hardest thing to do when battling depression:

Surviving.

People without depression think it’s feeling sad. Not in my case. When I’m depressed, it’s Nothing. There is nothing there. When I’m depressed, it’s like there’s no point to anything.

My favorite time of the day. When you’re wondering exactly how much you’d be missed.

Nice try, asshole, but these people are here for help and advice, and I think I’ve bored them long enough, so here goes:

1)Recently a friend killed himself. All I could hear was people talking about how selfish an act it was. Really pissed me off. Nobody showed any gratitude for every day that person was in their lives, every day that he fought the dragon and won. Because every day, the dragon is there. In my forty odd years, It’s been there every morning. People without these kinds of problems don’t get that. My best days,ones that I will cherish until the day I die? Mr. Self Destruct was there, peeing in the sink.

    1. use a lot from pro wrestling, and you can like it or don’t. But there’s a great promoter named Paul Heyman. I’m going to paraphrase here, but he said that every day, he’d lie, cheat and steal, promise what he had to, lie who he had to, just so he could survive and do business every day.

The takeaway here is that do what you have to do. Go back Under the Bed. Go howl at the moon all night, or argue politics until 4 AM. Becuase every day, you have to fight yourself, and every day you fight, is a day you win. And I’d really like you to do that, so I can too.

What, you think I’m doing this for you? I’m a giving guy, but I do have something to gain. I get another day of another person not losing the battle. I get maybe a person who one day stops someone I love from dying, or makes the world better. Because you do make it better by being here. Because if 2016 is about anything, it’s loss. We’ve lost a lot this year, and not sure if we know what all we’ve lost.

So please, lie cheat, steal,drink. Go overspend or write horrible emails to celebrities. As long as it gets you to dawn. Good night.

 PS. Yes, I do know I need professional help
PPS. This blog post was soundtracked by “Cats in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin, “Mr. Self Destruct” by Nine Inch Nails, and “Goodbye Cruel World” by Pink Floyd.
About the campaign:
 
#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.
Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Hope for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.
To find out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors and blog posts, or reach a media contact, go tohttp://www.HoldOnToTheLight.com and join us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/WeHoldOnToTheLight

Rocky Horror saved my life.

Tomorrow is the 40th anniversary of the film “Rocky Horror Picture Show”. I will be going tonight to see a cast perform (That Type) and shout obscene things at the screen. I have to, because Rocky Horror saved my life.

If you’re not familiar with the phenomenon of Rocky Horror, my first question is ,how the hell did you find my site, and what rock have been under for the last forty years. If you’re not familiar, look it up. But how did it save my life? It didn’t do it like it did others, where it gave them a safe space to be who they were, or the freedom to embrace who they really were. It’s done that  for hundreds, if not thousands of gay,lesbian,bisexual and transgender people across the globe. But that’s not my story.

My story begins with my former best friend Brian dragging me to see it one cold ass fall night in 1985. RIP to Lakehurst Mall and General Cinema, I miss you both.It was not the best experience. There were only two guys acting out in front of the stage, and they did not that great a job. Mainly because they were drunk as squids. But I did the Time Warp,and had my Rocky cherry broken. Afterwards,we were talking to the two guys.Both were standoffish,because we were both D & D playing nerds. The shorter one snorted at the mention of D & D, saying “You should meet my brother and sister. They’re always playing that shit”. That was my first introduction to my future brother-in-law, Larry Hund.

I could write volumes about Larry,but I’ll just narrow it down to the part where he became a Rocky legend. He was performing with our local cast (RIP Denton’s Revenge), and had gone grocery shopping beforehand. He was doing crowd participation, and was drunk again. When the time came to throw toilet paper(when Brad says “Great Scott!”) Larry reached for the toilet paper and threw. He didn’t throw that, instead he’d grabbed a Krakus canned ham and thrown it. Tore a six foot gash in the screen. Lakehurst didn’t let Rocky back for a year.

The Rocky part of the story takes a break now ,at least for high school. I ended up meeting my future wife,Lianna, and Brett,now my brother-in-law, at a pool party at the high school. Next came D & D, then proms. I got introduced to Larry Sr. and Jenny, the best in-laws in the world. I also got a Terri, and tried to return her immediately.(Just kidding, Terri!Still the best sister-in-law in the world!)They showed me what real family looked like,compared to the nightmare at home.Somewhere in there, I asked Lianna out, and she turned me down. I don’t blame her. I was a mix of “Waldo” from Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher” video and Leonard from “Big Bang”. I had no money, no car, and no game.

After high school, I was a mess. Community college, parental divorce,a severe dry spell in the ladies department,  and exposure to wider schools of thought had left me a nihilist with serious attitude. I was living with my dad in a two story house, and had gotten tot he point where a noose was always hanging off the stairs. Tried it once, ended up ripping out the lighting fixture. It was fun explaining that away.

It was about this time that Rocky walked back into my life. Brett and Brian had both gotten jobs at Lakehurst Cinema, and told me about the cast and show every Saturday and Friday.I went, and this time it was love.

Most people who wax nostalgic about Rocky are about playing in the cast. For me, it was always about crowd participation. The idea of shouting back at stupidity in movies was so much fun. Combining that with Rocky’s core ideas about pleasure, and “don’t dream it, be it”, sparked an angry “fuck the world” positivity in my skull.

Rocky was also opening my eyes to a bigger world of sexuality. Cast members were all across the spectrum, with the lead actor, Ace, being the first transvestite I’d ever really gotten to know. There were punks and freaks galore. People like Lon,Heath, and Katy, our regular cast. Joey, the gay Jewish racist skinhead.Angel, Ace’s wife, whose one remark”My god, Trevor, you have hips, use them”, may be the only reason I have any dancing ability at all.Chance, head of crowd participation ,and the biggest asshole in the world.

There’s so many memories related to that time. Covering sleeping sailors in toilet paper and popcorn. Our lighting guy having sex with his girl in the second row, which resulted in the best shadow show ever.Hiding Joey after he ran through a showing of “House Party”  yelling “White Power” at the top of his lungs on a bet.And so many late nights at Lakehurst Denny’s,arguing and bullshitting until the sun came up.

I could do an entire thing on Brett injuries during that era. Headbutting an exit sign. Breaking the wall under the screen duckwalking as Dr. Scott when he didn’t have a wheelchair. Falling off the hood of a car riding it through the parking lot.

Rocky forced me out of my shell in so many ways. I was a total man ho, having more sex during that year than during the next three. It also forced me to rethink all my prejudices, and opened my eyes to so much.

Much like Rocky, my time there ended in tragedy and death. I’d already slowed down going when I got the call. Larry, my not yet brother-in-law, had drowned at a lake in Wisconsin. I went to the funeral. It was first time seeing Lianna since she’d gotten married right out of high school. I hadn’t seen Larry since her wedding, when he’d led us all in the “Time Warp” at the reception. My last memory of Larry alive is of him dancing.

The funeral was surreal. Lon,Heath and Chance were there with some of the cast. Lon had gotten married that morning, so he wins for having a stranger day than me. I saw Lianna for the first time in a year that day, along with Jennifer, my future stepdaughter. The service is a blur,all I can really remember is feeling numb. My biggest memory of the day was getting Brett drunk and watching him dance on the roof of a car at Bowen Park. We all process grief in our own ways.

I left Rocky after that. Chance and Heath’s attitude problems had gone nuclear, and the cast was falling apart. There were brief runs to other casts and locations.I went to Terri I had fun watching Edwin and Gene at Mundelein, and ran into Lon and Katy at Mt. Prospect. But I was older, and had new worlds to conquer.

Flash forward to 2000. I’d returned back to the Waukegan area(Kenowhere), after stays in Minnesota and St. Louis. I’d followed a girl back, but found something else instead: real love.

Lianna was divorced by this time, a single mom with three daughters. To say that this was a boss level in dating  would be an understatement. Dating a single mother is not for the weak of heart, and you have to get your act together.There were fights,breakups, and then a proposal in front of a thousand people onstage at First Avenue.She said yes, and we’re still here eleven years later.

Rocky influenced me as a stepdad. My years of doing crowd participation have left me with what I call “Rocky’s tourettes” because I can’t see scenes from the movie without talking back. My stepdaughters refuse to put it on unless I leave the room.Though I do stop now if little kids are around.

Rocky changed my family life as well. Terri met her husband Andy at Rocky Horror, and I’m sure both of them owe it more than even I do. And they’re both awesome, though I’m glad they don’t have pictures of Andy in lingerie.

Rocky saved my life,because without it, I don’t know if I’d ever had met my wife. Without her and the Hunds, I’d have no idea of what family really is.I’d still be in some dive apartment in Kenosha, alone and not really living.Rocky allowed me to become the open minded person that  could admit that I was broken and try to fix myself enough to try to be a good husband and stepfather. It allowed me to  DJ at gay bars in Minneapolis and have friends across the entire spectrum of humanity,all while wearing a skirt in downtown Atlanta.And its mantra of “Don’t Dream It. Be It.” has kept me up during so many low times. So thank you, Rocky. I’ll be in the Zen room if you need me.

John Hartness: A Tag-Team Novella review

Full disclosure: I am a huge fan of John Hartness as an author and person. It amazes me that his work hasn’t broken bigger,because the guy works his stories like a NoDa hooker. He’s a regular at cons and is always working. He pulls no punches, in both his writing and advice. Go look at johnhartness.com and tell me I’m wrong.

John’s latest creation is a series of novellas starring a fellow by the name of Quincy Harker. He’s the son of Mina Murray and Jonathan Harker from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. He’s long lived, heals quick,and Vlad calls him nephew.

The first novella,Raising Hell, starts off with the exorcism of a teenager pregnant with a demon, and barrels through the next 106 pages like that last Mad Max movie. The body count is high, but the action never lets up. Our hero has a foil in one Detective Rebecca Flynn, who tends to show up every time things go south for Quincy. Which happens a lot with tracking down the man behind the attempted demon birthing. Villains are stopped, plans are halted, and lots of people die.

This is modern urban fantasy/pulp at its finest. I’m a fan of the Andrew Vachss school of minimal expression in favor action, and this initial outing provides it in spades. Hartness writes with fluid action sequences, and sharp dialogue.If I have any complaint at all about the novella, is that it’s a little too similar in spots to Hartness’s other series, Bubba the Monster Hunter.

That notion was immediately destroyed upon reading the next novella, Straight to Hell. If the first book suffered from similarity to other Hartness works, this one steps the game up at least two notches. It’s nearly twice as long, and the extra length gives Hartness time to really show his stuff. What starts off as a simple babysitting assignment turns into a race to save the world. Hartness takes a simple concept, the Lion of Judah, and extrapolates it into a end of the world scenario and our heroes are trying to beat the clock before everything falls apart.

The extra length also allows Hartness to develop the characters, and not just Flynn and Quincy. The dialogue is even better, and background characters such as Dracula’s current Renfield and a mysterious MIB type are fully fleshed out. Hartness is firing on all cylinders, and amidst the action, found time to place scenes that actually moved me.

Both these books are fun,fun reads. But with the quick pace of publishing these(two in six months), it’s interesting to see how both the writing and the characters develop.If I had to to put it in musical terms, Raising Hell would be a track from Metallica’s Kill’em All, and Straight would be from Ride the Lightning. If that means the next is from Master of Puppets, bring it on. Just nothing from St. Anger, Ok?

It’s safe to assume that I like both of these a lot..Hartness’s work has always been entertaining, and sometimes thought provoking. These two continue the trend, and leave me wanting more. Go get them,and tell them Trevor sent you.

Raising Hell:  three and a half Stone Cold Stunners

Straight to Hell:  Four Paul Heyman Promos

 

“Hisses and Wings” review

Team-ups between authors can be an interesting proposition. Sometimes they’re  awesome(King and Straub’s The Talisman), and sometimes they’re dreadful(The sequel, Black House). So it was with curiosity and nerves I approached Hisses and Wings, the first ever novella pairing noted writer Alex Bledsoe and a newer writer, T.Frohock.

In all fairness, I will admit  some serious prejudice when it comes to Mr. Bledsoe. I found his first Eddie Lacrosse book, The Sword Edged Blonde, some years ago in a library. I was amazed, then jealous that no one else had thought to combine a Mickey Spillane style detective with heroic fantasy,then had the nerve to carry it off so well. I lost track of him for a few years, then a magazine pointed me to his Tufa novels, which were the best urban fantasy I’d read since DeLint’s Newford books.

The Tufa are featured in this tale, Fae who live in the Appalachia region of eastern Tennessee. Much like the real life people there, they live in mostly quiet isolation,cut off from much of the world.The story begins with a young Tufa  named Janet,who finds out about a lost song. The Tufa invest much of their magic in song, and this one might get the Tufa back to the world of the Fae.

Janet follows the trail of the song to a group of people known as the Nefilim. According to most Christian accounts, the Nefilim were the offspring of angels and humans. In Frohock’s world, they are the result of mating between both angels and demons. They’re gathered together for the solstice when Janet walks into their camp. They, like the Tufa, put their magic in song. So when Janet asks for the lost song, it comes down to a musical duel, not a violent one.  For what happens, and how it all ends, you’ll just have to read the story.

I enjoyed this novella. It was an interesting introduction for me to Frohock’s work, and I really liked her take on a Hispanic community of Nefilim. I’d like to see more of these characters and world. And I’m always ready for more Tufa. I’m not sure how well a Pagan/ Abrahamic mythology combination would work long term(I’m looking at you, Skyrim), but in the short run, it’s a well written meeting. So go buy it already, and thank me later.

Grade:A

To buy:http://tinyurl.com/k5moc6d

Alex Bledsoe:http://alexbledsoe.com/

T.Frohock:http://www.tfrohock.com/

Autographs

I had a free Saturday evening for once, since the wife and child had prior engagements. I could have cranked out a bestselling novel, but I went to my dealer instead. In other words, the bookstore.

I don’t have a local Independent. The nearest Indy is in Charlotte, and not my usual hangout. Nope, I’m a mall kid at heart, so I traipsed on over to our local,Concord Mills, the biggest mall in North Carolina.

Our local big box book dealer is Booksamillion, or BAM as the six million emails they send me a week say. I don’t loathe BAM(I will write it this way because it’s easier) the way I do B&N, and at least this one tries to support local authors.And at least BAM might hire back some day. Though BAM does have its annoying program, “Summer Says”, where a WASP-y woman tells you what she likes. I have no idea who this lady is, but rumor has it she’s married to the CEO of the company.

I went to BAM because their latest missive had promised 20% off to Millionaire’s club members. I am a member, mainly because it helps ease the cost of my current addiction,metal music magazines. I love metal music and journalism, so the things are like crack to me. And the best ones are imports, so it gets pricey.

I’d also gone in to see if they’d price match their 50% off price on Amanda Palmer’s book, The Art of Asking. I was going to wait for Yule,but that’s too good a price to last. Well it  had gone up since Friday morning,so it wasn’t that price online anymore(Disappointment #1. Annoyed, I grabbed my mags and headed to the counter, only to find you had to do some magic involving a tote bag and twenty-five dollars to get the extra discount(Disappointment #2).I left feeling angry, and skipped my usual people watching.

What got my attention and spawned this post, is that all of Palmer’s books were signed. The store also offered  signed books by Poehler and Rothfuss, both new releases. It made me wonder, what’s the point of getting signed books anymore?

I’m not against getting books signed. Hell, I have an entire shelf of them. But all  of them are signed to me, because I made the effort to go see these people in person. I had a brief moment with people whose works have given me joy,made me think, and in two cases, changed my life.I can tell you when and where every one of those were signed. So those have meaning.

What I don’t get is getting generic signed items. It’s never been a plus to anything I’ve ever bought, ever. Maybe some of you think”Ooh, the author touched it,shiny.”. But I think the sheer number of signed books cheapens the concept. It’s kind of like the difference between a date that ended, and cheap sex in a nightclub bathroom. One is a memory, the other is forgettable and disposable. I’d rather not have my books become cheap and sleazy. That’s my job, thank you.And honestly, how sure can you be they actually signed it. I checked Palmer’s,they were all different. But Poehler’s all looked identical.Go look up what a “Rapido” device is, folks.

I should mention that there is a big difference between the stuff BAM is doing and what’s called “signed stock”. Those are when an author has stopped in a store, maybe done an event, and signed copies of his/her books. I do think those are different, somehow. I’m sure someone will mock me for my illogic, but as the man once said, consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

I do think there’s a market to be made in offering to get books personally signed and shipped. I just wish people would center on connections, and not superficial tokens.There’s enough superficiality in the world, let’s not  let it into books as well.

 

“Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Dying time is Here”.

I tend to find inspiration in the most unlikely of places. My favorite books are never bestsellers or critic’s darlings. I love wrestling biographies, counter culture studies, conspiracy theorists, and genre novels. All of which largely gets ignored by critics or sneered at.

One of my all time favorite books is As Bad As I Wanna Be, the first biography of Dennis Rodman. Yes, hate on him for the cartoon of greatness he’s become, largely due to drug and alcohol issues. But in his prime, especially with the Bulls, he was a thing of beauty.

In his book, he talks about sitting in his truck in the parking lot of the Joe Louis Arena, where he was playing with the Detroit Pistons. He was estranged from his daughter,his  team was falling apart, and life was,to his mind, not worth living. And there was a gun in his lap. To his mind, he died that night. He, in his words,”killed” himself that night. The old Dennis Rodman had to go, he was ready to die. And after that night, Dennis was never the same. He started coloring his hair, wearing earrings and tatting up.He was free,and that freedom cost him friends,family and sponsorships. It also raised his playing to new heights. Go look at his stats, before and after that moment. It’s a night and day difference. All the troubles for him in the NBA were never about how well he played. You don’t get four rings and the HOF by playing badly.

I’m thinking I’m at the same point in my life. I don’t like the current person I am. I’m stressed,fat, cranky and tired every moment of the day. I can’t produce words for shit.I read way too much. I surf the net way too much. I have a YMCA membership and website both gathering dust. My job has gone from bad to worse, with even more stress for less money.

I’m not sitting with a gun, folks. Doing that would hurt the people I care about way too much.I just need to cut off the old me, and become something new. I haven’t had the funeral yet, but I’m trying to tie myself to the longboat. My new prayer is this:

You’re a good guy. Write,eat healthy, exercise, get a new job. 

Punk, Heyman, Marcinko, Morse,Ziglar

You are loved. Write,eat healthy exercise, get a new job

Punk,Heyman,Marcinko,Morse,Ziglar

Now, if you know about Tarot at all, you should know that every time I get read, the Tower shows up. Every. Single. Time. So , by invoking the forces of Change, I invite Chaos as well. I don’t know what’s happening next, but something might fall apart. I’ll keep you posted.