So here’s the thing: When I lived out West I got used to the Rocky Mountains as a back-up for the multitudinous ranges in Alaska. It worked pretty well. The Rockies (The Winds, The Tetons…you get it) are great. Back in the East now, a place where I expect to stay for the next twenty years, things are flat-like in most areas. I am adjusting. The Adirondacks are good, the Green Mountains, although short, remind a little of the Chugach, and the White Mountains are modest with the towering Mount Washington looking over it all. I certainly shouldn’t be complaining – what a beautiful place this is and I like it. The gnawing dissatisfaction I feel, then, must be a symptom of something else. But what? Probably just hubris, me thinking about seeking something else better than the fantastic situation I find myself in. “What ever happened to all the fun in the world?” What is wrong with me?
Thank god I have books to read while I mull all this.
Hex Publishers has just released an excellent anthology titled Nightmares Unhinged. Edited by Joshua Viola, the twenty horror stories circulate in surprising variety. The book starts off with an unsettling story of evi written by the always rousing Steve Rasnic Tem. Other veteran writers are here too, like Edward Bryant and Gary Jonas, alongside many younger writers and three contributions by the editor himself – not something you often see. My favorite story is “Lost Balls” by Sean Eads, although I can’t really say why. Golf and a greedy monster…it all just goes together. A portion of the proceeds from the book goes to charity so you can feel good while you are enjoying the frights. Recommended.
I had never read anything by Robert Brockway before his new novel, The Unnoticeables. It’s a riot, people. The first paragraph is two short sentences. “I met my guardian angel today. She shot me in the face.” Let the party begin, huh? Every new horror writer gets compared to Stephen King, and I saw a blurb from somewhere suggesting Brockway’s style could be described as a lubricated crossover of King and Hunter S. Thompson. If I was going to make a similar comparison, I would go with a mash-up of Christopher Moore and Carl Hiaasen. But to truly get Robert Brockway you have to read Robert Brockway. The story is complete madness. The two main characters exist in different times and are not very much like each other but they do have the same problem. The narrative and the snappy dialogue are products of the endless possibilities inherent in the chaos of the plot, and the author focuses his considerable wit to create a blazing novel of ruthless entertainment. I should write jacket blurbs. With all seriousness, this is an great novel that is loads of fun and is dark and creepy all at the same time. Highly recommended.
Just a quick peek into comics this time. Zenescope has released a lot of notable books in the past couple weeks. My two bold recommendations from the group are Aliens vs. Zombies #1 (check out the David Seidman cover variant which is, forgive me, a monster) and the very splattery and hyper-sinister tenth anniversary issue of Alice in Wonderland. The latter has been an incredibly rich vein for Zenescope over the years as they have created some of the best retellings of fairy tales for adults anywhere. The former seems like a pretty standard zombie set-up at first but you find out quickly there is something different about the zombie virus in this one. Excellent writing and startling artistic compositions make both these books vital summer fare.
And with a rickety shift we are listening to music. Seremonia’s third album, Kristalliarkki, is the best thing to ever come out of Finland. Svart Records describes the release this way: “Finnish heavy psych rockers Seremonia dive deeper than ever into the dark psychedelic abyss with their third album Kristalliarkki (The Crystal Ark). With lyrics (still all in their native tongue) revolving around the spiritual cult practices and teachings of a mysterious doomsday cult, the album also explores the cultist mindset musically.” I’m going to have to take their word for it on the lyrics because I don’t speak Finnish. Having no idea what the lyrics mean does not bother me at all – the vocals this way became a purer musical instrument. The music vacillates between vintage Blue Öyster Cult, Murder City Devils, and creepy exterior whispering. Of their three, I rank this newest highest. If you want to hear some groovy, creepy rock with strong female vocals you cannot understand, well, here it is. Very subdued for a doom album, it is getting in the rotation quite a lot here at the home office of the Merrimack Consortium. Highly recommended.
While I am here in musicland, let me put a bug in your ear: think about getting Elder’s latest release, Lore. O my mercy, it is a deathgrip of doom rivaling their earlier work but with surprising tinkerbelle sweetness cast about liberally like Rogaine sprinkled in desperation on a balding scalp. OK maybe not everyone who listens to Lore will get the tinkerbelle vibe, but when you do listen to it you will see what I mean. Elder, like many heavy acts these days, release albums only every couple of years, or maybe every few years, in some cases. When they do come out, we should support bands we like by paying for a download or even buying a physical product. Better yet – go to a show and buy the music there, or a t-shirt, or what have you not. Creation isn’t free. We have to support the creators of the art we enjoy and consume. Let’s do that.
Then there is Dance Me This, the final official release (#100) from Frank Zappa’s catalogue. You can’t call it horror, but it is an important milestone in music. Zappa’s last album? I guess so. When he found out he was dying, Frank Zappa doubled his efforts and finished an incredible number of projects before his cancer finally became too much. For years, his estate has been releasing these recordings. An now here is the last one. I don’t expect that everyone is as much of a Zappa freak as I am. After all, how many of you have not only all of the official releases but also all the variants, too, in there hundreds? Huh? Huh? None of you, right? Of course not. Because you’re not crazy. But there is something in there for you, somewhere in the catalogue. To celebrate this occasion, stream a little Frank, or look something of his up at random on YouTube, or even buy an album. Frank is gone so you’re are not doing it for him. You are doing it for you.
That’s it. I am over the word budget. I again didn’t get around to the Ancient Aliens stories this time, but I do have some. Maybe next time. Also, look out for #PocketMonsterTheater, a little project I am working on with my daughter, popping up in Twitter and Instagram every now and then. The first one is posted on Twitter with the slightly shortened hashtag #PocketMonster. I don’t know how often these little snapshots will get posted – I am working with a 16-year-old and she’s a little unfocused at times.
Back in 30. Keeping reading.
Nightmares Illuminated is written by Wayne Edwards, ©2015 by the author, all rights reserved. Contact eMail: [email protected]
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