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Apr
18

Genre:  Horror

Publisher:  Samhain

Published: 2012

Reviewer Rating:  4.5

Reviewer:  Michael D. Griffiths

 

 

B-Movie Reels by Alan Spencer is a horror novel which takes it up a notch by combining as many different types of the horror subgenres as it can all at once. This creates a dangerous explosion of more types of terror and villains than you can shake a dozen sticks at. I had never read anything quite like it and enjoyed this novel more than most.

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B-Movie Reels by Alan Spencer

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Andy is the nephew of a stage magician who mysteriously brought about the death of dozens of people. His Uncle Ned asks him to take over the house of the dead magician. Andy thinks this will be a great place to review a bunch of old horror movies for his professor, but when his projector breaks, and he uses the dead magician’s cursed one, all the monsters, villains, and undead he views come to life and begin to destroy the small town.

Soon only four survivors are left to do their best to shut down this projector. The horror movie villains range from serial killers, to supernatural serial killers, vampires, plagues of flesh devouring locusts, zombies, giant rats, and many more types of human slaying nasties.

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I really enjoyed how this gave us an excuse to have so many archetypes of different terrors in one place in one book. Very interesting concept and quite a bit of fun if you are a lover of horror movies. I liked how sometimes these evil groups would also work together, which just made it all the harder for the few survivors.

If you love horror movies and novels, I have a hard time seeing to many downsides. The characters could have been a bit stronger, some of their backgrounds seems to be more of an afterthought.

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Yet, nothing took away from the entertainment of this explosion of deadly chaos erupting on this small town and seeing how ill prepared they were to deal with this influx of monsters and mayhem. This should be something all horror addicts enjoy.

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Apr
06

As I have stated on more than one occasion, WildernessPunk has never been meant to be just an upscale journal chronicling my misadventures. However, WildernessPunk did begin after I was tossed into a dark well of unintended Chaos. This Chaos became full of moments both good and ill, uplifting and difficult. This week held the main three dates which mark the two-year anniversary or perhaps in my case, adversity, of when these changes began.

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To drive these dates home even further, I also had my last (scheduled) court date two years to the day I ran from the cops and spent a night half frozen in the forest. Yesterday was the two-year anniversary of me spending a night in jail, while today, two years ago, was the morning, for better with some worse, I started my new life. Now, here I sit in a Flagstaff hotel, with my court dates over, getting ready to pick up my children and take them to Tucson with me once my oldest boy is done with school.

Yes, things have changed quite a bit in two years.

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I spend enriching days with my children, see little of the demon queen of gaslighting(DQG), and have the freedom to enjoy great times with my friends and family. I am also truly blessed with the best girlfriend I’ve ever had.

Alright, I’m starting to sound like Agent Smith in Matrix two. “Me, me, me.” Yet I am going somewhere with this or perhaps two-wheres. First one is simple. For those of you following either my life or WildernessPunk, this is a milestone and in many respects reaching an endgame. The BS which got me living in the woods and starting this blog has mostly come to a close, despite the efforts of DQG to make it malinger. Sure, I’ll continue to have trials and tribs, like all humans, but this chapter is closed, moving on…

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The second and certainly more universal point has to do with Chaos and the Warrior’s Path. It is easy for all of us to get stuck in our mundane. Life can be trying, but the known, despite its drawbacks, becomes more comfortable than the unknown and we allow ourselves to stay within situations, be they relationships, jobs, or friendships, which can be unhealthy and uninspiring. We feel exhausted and just sigh, while our life dribbles by.

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The alternative to this is entering the stream of chaos. Sometimes we do it on purpose and other times it is forced on us. Chaos is the dark and scary unknown. People will tell you not try it, it might be too dangerous, but this is also how heroes are born and how we grow as individuals.

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We’re always growing and learning, but growth accelerates when we have our world yanked out from under us and we enter the Warrior’s Path. We could experience more in a month than we did over the last three years.

Warriors change.

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Surviving the Chaos forces us to self-actualize. We can step back and analyze our life and experiences.  With luck and knowledge, we make new and stronger choices. Below are a few examples of the benefits of striking out into uncertainty and returning reborn.

 

  • Increased Wisdom and a greater understanding of how the world works

 

  • More positive self-regard

 

  • Realizing what you will no longer put up with

 

  • The pleasure of only allowing decent people to be part of your life

 

  • Understanding what is really important to your life

 

  • Motivating to follow your true goals

 

  • Triumphing over evil

 

There are of course many more, but this is a good start. I’ll leave you with this. Hardships may mostly seem to well… suck, at least at the time, but hardships often become an opportunity, Not just for a better life, but also a better you. Stagnation can’t compete with adventures. Adventures may be hard and could find you shivering in the rain with blisters on your feet, but one month of adventures might be worth ten years of mundania and you’ll always have a few interesting stories to tell.

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You can grab some of my fiction here, and I can promise you these people are on the Hero’s path.

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Mar
14

Another Roadside Attraction, by Tom Robbins

 

Genre:  Fantasy

Publisher:  Bantam Books

Published: 1971

Reviewer Rating:  4.5 Stars

Reviewer:  Michael D. Griffiths

 

 

Another Roadside Attraction, by Tom Robbins was published in part as a tribute to the creativity and individuality which developed out of the 60s. The story centers around a free thinking and beautiful young clairvoyant, named Amanda, who questions all reality and makes up her own mind about what is right and then behaves accordingly. She marries a magician, complete with a pet baboon, and they set out to make their own type of roadside attraction in the woods of Washington State.

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They live off the land and expand their minds in an Eden of sorts which they perfect for themselves. All might have continued this way had not a spirit of chaos, in the form of Plucky Purcell, who quite by accident, joined a secret sect of military Catholics serving the pope.

He gets assigned to the Vatican, and one random earthquake later, he discovers the corpse of Jesus Christ. This of course questions the legitimacy of the creator of Christianity being a divine being. After stealing the body, he brings it to what has become perhaps the most controversial road attraction in the history of mankind.

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Robbins is a splendid writer. Like an artist with a blank canvas, he paints Amanda as a dashing anarchistic figure with a wisdom as deep as the earth. The book examines and reexamines both popular and novel philosophical content, against a backdrop of colorful freedom..

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Such a well written book has few downsides, but any supernatural feats are downplayed and this book is more literary, thoughtful, and comic over fantasy or action.

If someone would like to veer away from the norm and enjoy a brilliant novel which sets out not only to entertain, but perhaps expand your mind, this book should be part of your A list.

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Learn more here

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Feb
24

Is it just me or has the occurrence of foolish drama increased over the past year or so? Could this be because we have a president who seeks to make our government into a reality TV show? Perhaps we’re more sensitive to malicious plotting than we used to be or more informed in regards to how to identify these malign activities? It could also be we hold ourselves and others to a higher standard than past generations.

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Another thing which has become a focal point for the last year of our lives is how often reality is rewritten to meet the needs of the speaker with little thought to recognize either facts or consistency. Many have become desensitized to lying and contradictions, while others have given up a part of their optimism.

I am not here to discuss politics. We’re all under the government’s controlling umbrella to a greater or lesser extent. It bugs, bothers, and infuriates us, but remains distant. It might impact my life, but I can do little to affect it.

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The real question I am posing is how it might give some the impression there’s nothing wrong with their own lies. If the people we elect for government posts can lie to meet their needs and change their opinions daily, why shouldn’t a person, who has only a small circle of influence, concern themselves with the truth. Hell, almost no one is even watching them.

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For many, honor has been replaced by a self-serving agenda, which disregards, facts, other people’s needs and emotions, and gives no consideration to the well-being of children and other impressionable people. For some people, a simple cliché such as, “Put yourself into the other’s shoes,” is beyond their capabilities.

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So what happens when you mix drama and lies… most would agree it would be called Gaslighting. Just in case you haven’t heard about this one, it was based on the movie Gaslight which won Ingrid Bergman her first Academy Award.

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The film’s plot, faithfully adapted by its screenwriters, was about a diabolical, Victorian criminal husband (Charles Boyer playing against type) who systematically and methodically attempts to torment, menace, and drive his bedeviled, fragile wife (Ingrid Bergman) mad. Its title was derived from the frequent dimming and flickering of the gaslights. The phrase “to gaslight” someone (to deliberately drive someone insane by psychologically manipulating their environment and tricking someone into believing that they are insane), was derived from the film.” — Tim Dirk.

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gaslight — (verb) gaslights (third-person singular simple present), gaslighting (present participle), gaslighted (simple past and past participle).

  1. (slang; origin UK) To manipulate someone psychologically such that they question their own sanity.

So, whether it’s in front of the whole nation or just an individual trying to twist a single/a handful of minds, what makes someone think it’s acceptable to abandon any facts which don’t aid their agenda and recreate reality as they see fit?

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Narcissism doesn’t hurt. When you believe your life is the only one which matters, then your interpretation of the facts is the only thing you need to concern yourself with.. Or looking at it from another angle, to the narcissist, getting what you want for yourself overrides all else. Things like facts, the needs, desires, and emotions of others, logic, and consistency are all just chips to be ground into the carpet as they pursue their one goal, to better their own lives.

Others are just looked at in reference as to how they can be used. Whether is be as a source of income, a servant, or a pawn, all people are just ranked by their usefulness.

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But why does this happen? How do people get so wrapped up in themselves and their own agenda the rest of the world dims? Trauma and abuse can cause this disorder as can a poor upbringing. Although there’s also some evidence, as with many other disorders, like Schizophrenia and Cognitive Disabilities, a certain small percentage of people may be born this way.

Why would a percentage of humans, be born more or less evil, would be another interesting avenue to explore, but let’s stick to the disorder, for disorder it is. Although Narcissism, personality disorders, and gaslighting have caused undue suffering over the years, with a clear head, such things can’t hold up. Logic and common sense wins out over manipulation and lies in the end.

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monkeybridge

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If the gaslighter has an Achilles heel, it would certainly be their ego. They are so convinced their great intellect along with their plots are molding others into getting them what they want, they refuse to notice when these lies go poorly. Soon they can find themselves with little of no allies or resources but will only blame others for their woe. They attempt their old tricks, but they can’t last forever with the same people, so eventually the gaslighter is forced to move on and seek new victims. Unless they move, this gets harder, for stories spread and most of us become suspicious of people with no friends who are estranged from half their family. If this isn’t a red flag for you already, perhaps this idea can be the biggest take away of this article for you.

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So what is the best things to do if confronted by someone trying to gaslight you?

 

  • Don’t let yourself be separated from your support network and check in with them often. They can remind you A) you aren’t crazy. And B) what really happened and what any sane person would do about it.
  • Use simple tricks to weed out Narcissists. My favorite is, “Name five of your weaknesses, or things you don’t like about yourself.” If they balk at this easy task, you got trouble in your living room.
  • Many suggest you keep a journal. This will help you fact check.
  • If someone is coming down on you, like a boss who is harder to escape from, remember all they care about is themselves, so any request should be wrapped around a concept which makes their life better or at least keeps it from getting worse.
  • Statements which can befuddle a gaslighter would be saying things such as, “I would never dare to presume I have the right to control how you think about me.”

 

The bottom line is, if you are in a situation and its all about them, it should be all about you getting your butt anywhere else. So stay safe and smart out there and watch your step leaving for I smashed all the gaslights and left them on my front porch.

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You can grab some of my fiction here, and I can promise you only the villains use gaslighting.

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the-gaslight-factory-terracottanavigator-s

Feb
21

Genre:  Super Hero

Publisher:  Marvel

Published: 2014

Reviewer Rating:  4.5 Stars

Reviewer:  Michael D. Griffiths

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I received Marvel’s Secret Wars as a gift and let it sit a while, but during the middle of this Winter, I figured I would check it out. I have always, since I was about eight, been a Marvel fan, but this originally was released in 1983, which was about when I had friends with cars for the first time and thought about the possibility of one day perhaps kissing a cute girl. So, as you might have already guessed, I never got copies of these while they came out.

There are twelve issues in all and the plot follows the characters as a being with God-like powers grabs, not only the most powerful heroes in the Marvel Multiverse, but also cherry picks from the villains. Both groups end up on a world complete with villages, high tech castles, and powerful weapons.

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From the hero team we have Spider Man, Hulk. members of The Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and the X-men including Xavier. Also working with the X-Men is Magneto, which creates more than a bit of conflict. The villains were stranger picks for me. They are led by Dr. Doom, who gains control over Ultron and even fights Galactus.

While Doom plots to destroy them all and worse things, the Heroes pick Captain America to lead them and attempt to discover why they are involved in this strange contest, how to survive, and perhaps somehow figure out a way to return to Earth.

The action is fast and furious. Also, despite the huge cast of very popular and well-known characters, they try to give most of them a voice and even have several subplots and unexpected twists. Things grow more intense as they battle against insane setbacks, like having a mountain dropped on them or friends die.

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If marvel heroes get you going, then not many bad things to say here. They invented something new, explored concepts no one had ever done before, and the comics broke a 25-year sales record. If I had to throw some dirt, I might have liked to see more villains in the fray.  When the Hulk and Thor are just two of your players, I think the bad guys should have had more fire power.

Obviously, this is a must read for any Marvel fan. If you never experienced, this fight to end all fights, this new collection makes it easy. If you like these heroes even a little and do not need to only see the stories through a glowing rectangle, grab this graphic novel.

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Feb
09

They say, “You can’t go back.” Which is of course false, because you can go back, it just might not feel the same way. Yet, what makes it different? I often look back at even recent times in my life and marvel over how much has changed in just a couple of years, but things can become dissimilar for us in just a few months as well.

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Preroof and tarp

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Sometimes situations change for the worse, but as darker fluctuations occur, at times they can also force us out of stagnation. Although many of us like to feel cozy and warm in a predicable life, one also runs the risk of trading the unknown for the known and lack of variety and adventure can often be the price you pay.

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Boney Utah

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As the sun begins to set on this mystic Baccanaught, I look back at where I was when I started WildernessPunk 18 months ago. I lived much of my time in camp 1 between Flagstaff and Walnut Canyon. I spent the days and nights alone with only the minimal equipment I could transport to the forest by bike. No fires, simple foods, mostly reading and writing until the battery on my loaned laptop died.

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Now, not too long after, I’m living in a home with heat and water, dating a lovely goddess of a woman, seeing friends every week, and most importantly getting to have my boys stay with me.

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Yes, much can change quickly, but this only made it more exciting when I had a chance to return to Camp 1 recently. It felt fitting I hiked up into the forest alone. Within are pictures of Camp 1 taken in 2018, 15 months after the last night I slept there.4.

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Trail

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In theory, I had returned to clean up and perhaps salvage anything worth grabbing, but as I followed the old trail, which hid my homeless refuge, other more complex thoughts moved through my mind.

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in the distance 2018

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I felt grateful. Where so much had turned against me, now so many things have fallen into place. Yet as the readers of WildernessPunk might appreciate, with this turning of the tide, something was also lost.

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Camp 1 view

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One feels a pride persevering through obstacles and living low to the ground with limited resources. Nature is the great equalizer. Rich or poor, members of every race and belief are all treated the same. Only your ability to prepare and work to improve your state changes things in the real world.

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Was this the real world or is my normal house more real? Hard to say. I felt alive in a different fashion then. Am I more of a winner now or less? I’d get different answers from each person I could ask. Yet, the bottom line for many of us becomes our children, family, lover, and friends. Are you going to live for yourself and ideals, or jump into the mainstream so your can uphold different goals and ideals?

Perhaps one can do both. Wish me luck.

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AZSunset

 

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You can grab some of my fiction here, which I promise has nothing to do with this, Hell, my hero is a cop, go figure.

Jan
26

“Whether a man is a criminal or a public servant is purely a matter of perspective”

Tom Robbins, 1990

Hello dear readers of the glowing light, it’s not talking about me, I mean your magic rectangle. I’m just here to address the vampire in the room. A year has passed since Trump has occupied the White House. Some people are still backing him, while others are inclined to think he’s the worse disaster to hit the USA since the Vietnam War.

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Put your opinions aside for a moment and let’s look at the positives Trump has done for us. Don’t get too excited Conservatives (Like there are any reading this…) because I not talking about policies or steering the country, as much as what he has helped us understand about ourselves from an anthropological or perhaps philosophical perspective.

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Starting with the simple observations, no need to make this complicated, we can all agree Trump has had a wild year. Where most Presidents strive for dignity and leadership, every 48 hours Trump gets away with more questionable behavior  than Nixon resigned for. The Presidency is a reality television show and if there is no scandal for a few days, Trump with think one up.

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He’s done much to alienate himself from women, foreign countries, GBLTQ folks, law enforcement, immigrants, Muslims, and journalists to name a few. Yet out of these various stunts and actions, the common thread moving through his Presidency is his racism. I’m not going to argue about his racism here or give details. Remember I’m keeping this simple. He’s a racist, moving forward. It you disagree, you are the 1 in 3 and I’ll get to you shortly.

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So, despite him being a racist and all the other violations of human rights and just common decency he’s trampled  his approval rating hovers around 33% or 1 in 3. Okay this will be important…1 in 3. The fact is, after doing almost everything he could do to turn caring people off, we know 33% of U.S. adults still support him, and this is where Trump has done us a favor.

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If you still like Trump, there are only 3 things you can be:

  • Ignorant
  • An Asshole
  • All of the above

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Am I being too harsh? Nope. If you support a racist, you are either raised so poorly and became isolated from experience and education to a point where you have to be just plain stupid enough to belief this is acceptable behavior or you’re a selfish hate driven scumbag. Or if you think things like your tax returns are more important than human rights you are an asshole. See I told you I’d keep this simple.

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And here’s where I thank Trump for his favor. He has finally allowed us to see the true percentage of stupid people and/or assholes in the USA. Good to know. So, if I walk out my door, I need to keep in mind 1 in 3 people in my path are stupid or assholes and most likely both.

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Obviously, this ratio is greatly dependent on the situation. If I’m seeing TWIGS and some other local bands play at Club Congress, the ratio might be more like 1 in 20. However, if I went to some Church of the Latter-Day Saints morning mass, I’d find things closer to 19 in 20. Also places like Bisbee and Seattle would have a very different ratio than say Jacksonville.

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Overall though 1 in 3. I’ve thought about what the true numbers of stupid asshole versus the rest of us might be throughout my entire life. In high school it would have been higher. In my free floater early college years much lower, but hey now we know. I mean, we really know. No ifs, waits, or bullshit.

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When you are combing your hair and getting ready to head out on a Saturday night, as you walk into a job interview, or are meeting your daughter’s new boyfriend… keep in mind you have a 1 in 3 chance to run face to face with someone who cares more about themselves than human decency.

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So watch your back out there. And again, thanks Trump, we couldn’t have figured it out without you.

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Dionysus Slick

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You can grab some of my fiction here, which I promise has nothing to do with this, Hell, my hero is a cop, go figure.

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Bone Desert

 

 

Jan
22

Obsession by Ramsey Campbell

Genre:  Horror

Publisher:  Samhain

Published: 1985

Reviewer Rating:  4.5

Reviewer:  Michael D. Griffiths

 

 

 

Obsession by Ramsey Campbell is almost a mystery as much as a Horror novel, but it is certainly the latter with a sharp bullet. Ramsey sets up the scene, but does not walk your through what you should believe really happened, both during and after the novel, he leaves the reader alone to find their own conclusions to what took place.

The novel begins with following the lives of four teenagers, Peter, Jimmy, Robin, and Steve. Each of them is suffering from a single issue they wished they could somehow solve and this is when Peter gets a message which says, “Whatever you most need, I do. The price is something you do not value and which you may regain.”

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They all make a pact and each of their ‘wishes’ come true, although in some cases in a matter which is most unpleasant. Fast-forward to twenty-five years later and the four have remained in the same oceanside town, but have drifted away from each other as careers and relationships took the forefront of their lives.

Each of these four begin to suffer from ill strings of horrid luck. As these events build, their lives are thrown into shambles. Situations range from tragedies, to destroyed businesses, and in one case, head into a supernatural horror. Their paths begin to cross as Peter tries to gain their aid and convince them their time to pay up has hit them. Others find the idea silly, but this does not stop the continuation of disturbing events.

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The mood remains dark and uncertain. Is all this random chance or is something more sinister at work and getting ready to ruin the rest of their lives? What will they pay, which they do not value and how can they regain it? Nothing makes sense since each thing they lose is valuable and one of the cornerstones of their lives.

Campbell’s novel is tightly woven and there in not much to wag a finger at here. If you like things laid out plainly and do not like left deciding what really happened at the end of a novel, this one could bug you. A few things remain unclear. Some of the characters also act a little passive as the world tramples them, but then again, they are normal folk and often that is what happens in the real world.

Creepy Town

Upsides include the mixing of mystery and horror. Obsession is not super heavy in the horror department, but it has more than a few unsettling moments. Again, this is a great example of the, show me do not tell me, idea and I for one like it when an author makes you work as hard as the characters to figure out what is really going on. Another well done novel by Campbell.

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creepy closet

Jan
06

What, am I talking about health? Trying to be trendy? I know North Americans hear so much discussion over eating habits and physical health, such things are the last issues we want to read about, or are they? Maybe we’re in a unique space in human history, where we have the means to fix and prolong our bodies, but have hordes of food and vices available to destroy it as well. Add to this our ability, for many, to earn enough to survive without using much our bodies metabolism to do so.

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I’m not going to burrow this down to how many cabs you should be shoving into your mouth, I’m looking at a more complex issue, perhaps the source of so much of our health and nutrition debates.

Why am I diving into this topic? It’s because it has some relevance in regards to my current state. If you’ll indulge me to allow myself to be an example to help explore the issue of human technology versus health, we can get started. My main point is… As technological advancements are extending life, technology has become a double-edged sword which also makes many of us some of the unhealthiest humans this world has ever seen.

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Okay, back to me. You knew it was coming. As some of you may remember, I went from living on the cusp between, nature, traveling, and urban sofa squatting for over a year, before becoming more settled into this city clinging to the Sonoran Desert. After the move, I was thin, in great shape, at least for me, and riding my mountain bike a few dozen miles a day through raging heat.

Then I got my place.

I kept up the bike riding and was making much of my cash from physical labor. Still there is a big difference riding your bike ten miles into town for groceries, and just crossing the street. Most of my more intensive jobs aren’t much harder than camping three days in a row, or putting in 14 hours days prepping for my move.

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Is this how hard I have to work to keep this beer belly at bay? Because despite rounding out the year with only using the bike as transport, getting physical, and exercising every day, I’m seeing it grow.

And now I have a car.

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And… after not having wheels for so long, it sure feeling tempting to drive it around, just because I can.

Jello Biafra said, “Give me convince or give me death,” Perhaps now, it could be stated, “Give me so much convince it will lead me to an early death.”

Let’s draw this conversation back to one of the updated purposes of WildernessPunk, which is to explore possibilities, leading people toward a more nature based life, even when living inside an urban environment.

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As a culture, we have rejected the natural and the physical in return not only for convince, but also for time. I could ride my bike to the store, but it will save me time if I drive, I could wash my clothes in the sink, but it will be so much faster if I toss them into a washing machine. I could work on finishing the end table I was building, but I just added three more channels to my cable plan and I wanted to check out…

In each of the situations above, we have traded money, natural resources, and increased our carbon footprint, while forsaking activities which would help us burn off some calories.

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Of course, other things contribute to health issues and being overweight. Diets are huge. I’m sure if I quit drinking ale and caffeine, I’d be trimmer, but I don’t want to piss Dionysus off. I might touch on such things in the future, but not today. Instead I stand here, next to my wheels. A blessing… it will help me get my children, maybe get a better job… but perhaps a curse. Will I lose another of my ideals and slip ever more into the mainstream, using more resources, and watching my gut grow?

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How can we balance our desires to be an outstanding human against the ease of being accepted into a society full of assumptions, many of which are half mad?

Perhaps we could look at our bodies like a yardstick measuring how well we accomplish our goals. Sure, if you are a twenty-two-year-old, powerlifter with a high metabolism, this might not apply to you, but you’re also not reading this. But for most of us who wish to respect the Earth as much as we can, live in a healthy manner, and be productive, our body could help us measure how well we’re doing.

Maybe I can give electricity a rest and do a few things myself, ride to the store, and spend some of my free time going on a hike, but what if my positive habits slow down? If I have junk on me, it most likely means I’m making more junk for my world. If I’m doing well, my body will notice, I’ll feel better, and be treating my world with greater respect. But if I’m getting some junk in the WildernessPunk, perhaps it’s time to rethink my game and leave that car parked all weekend.

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You can grab some of my fiction here, which I promise has nothing to do with this, Hell, my hero is a cop, go figure.

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Dionysus Cash

Jan
02

Genre:  Science Fiction

Publisher:  California Coldblood

Published: 2014

Reviewer Rating:  3.5 Stars

Reviewer:  Michael D. Griffiths

 

The Odds by, Robert J. Peterson

 

The Odds by, Robert J. Peterson is a Science Fiction novel set in the distant future where the desert of Nevada is a few hundred degrees during the day and a well below freezing at night. However, the temperature is the least of most people’s worries in this dystopian world full of mutants, poverty, and chaos. The one thing distracting the populace from their poor circumstances is the gambling ruled over by a powerful elite known as The Odds.

Despite the potential for gloom this world holds, Eldritch maintains an upbeat nature. This is made only more extraordinary considering how much cash he owes to various Odds. He tries to get himself out of the hole by joining a complex game of murderous chess, where the pieces are living players and are forced to fight to the death each time they are placed within the same square.

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Things get more complicated when he finds there are people he knows and cares about also signed up for the game. Add to this, betrayals and the need to fight through an army of mutant Breens and our hero is hard pressed to make it through the game alive.

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An issue I do have with the novel is it claims to be “A Post-Apocalyptic Action Comedy.” I can give it the first two with ease, but although light-hearted, considering the death and doom afoot, I did not find it all to comic. There were moments and again, it is a cheery novel, but I think calling it a comedy is a bit of a stretch. It also felt a little green. Strong inventive ideas and a fun world, but the writing could be tighter.

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I have already mentioned many of the novel’s upsides. It is a fun read. Might be good for a long airplane flight or a vacation. Calling it action packed would be an understatement. You do not have to wait long for the next battle as Eldritch struggles to survive. Character development is well done with the protagonist and you want him to come through this adventure with all his limbs intact.

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