Playing Second Fiddle (Or The Ex-Girlfriend Story)

play misty for me

It’s an inside joke

I am a master at playing second fiddle in all of my past relationships. (Notice I said past because I finally got lucky, that is a story for another day though.) It never failed, I did my best work with the lights turned off but wasn’t someone you had around when the sun was up. Quasimodo was my spirit animal.

qmodo

“Oh I’ll ring your bell baby”

My first serious girlfriend set the trend. Lets call her Evelyn, because it just feels right. I first met her, get ready for a shocker, in high school. She was a little younger than me but in the same grade and was painfully shy. Our chem teacher paid her a soda to slam a massive book on noble gasses next to my head while I slept in the back of the class. She did it and I nearly peed myself in terror. One look at those pale, massive, double d cup…um…eyes. Yeah, yeah eyes, I was smitten.

See I was in a bad spot. Something I had been dreaming of doing my whole life, told me in no uncertain terms, that I didn’t measure up. I was in constant conflict with my parents and had about two people, outside of my family, who knew more about me than my first name. On top of that I was still suffering from a limp brought on by a car accident, which made me feel broken in the physical sense along with the emotional.

So any attention was good attention for me.

After that we started to hang out after school. I’d walk her to her dad’s office but I had to stop a few blocks down because she didn’t want him to see us together. Something about not being allowed to date, which I was fine with. He was a single parent and worked a lot, so I walked her there almost everyday. I got a part time job and spent a good chunk of that on our dates and little gifts for her. She was mad for wolves and I must have cleaned the main-street store out of canine merch.  After a while we started hooking up at her friend Marsha’s house.

There I uncovered the joys of underage drinking and Evelyn proved the old country song about tequila and clothes completely true.

devil vagina magic

We never stood a chance boys!

Things started to wear thin and warning lights began to sound not very long into the relationship. Every argument was settled not between us but by her friend Marsha or Marsha’s mom who had developed an unhealthy obsession with cheap wine and high-school boys. It was never talked out between us, my own views and thoughts on the “us” part of the equation never mattered. Only what her friends thought. Now that is pretty bog standard as far as ex-girlfriend stories go but here comes the curve ball.

While she was practicing a ritual to put a willy curse on my downstairs business, Evelyn would often start to baby talk me. “Did I do good daddy?” was a common one, all in a sing song voice. Now at first it didn’t rub me the wrong way as much as it did later when I started to think about it.

dont think about it

I did…

Whenever talk of making things official ever came up, there would be a tactful change of topic. If he’d come over to Marsha’s house to pick her up I’d have to stay in the basement and one time I actually did hide naked in the closet of the spare bedroom because he’d shown up unexpectedly. It was like something out of american pie but the pie was cold and full of unwanted feelings. It was also sweet potato and no one likes that shit.

Then came the final straw. See, she’d met up with me at a skate rink one day (I lived in a town where that was not only still a thing but THE thing) just to give me a letter before texting Marsha so she could bug out of there.

She face to face broke up with me, via a letter.

Now she claimed at first it was because her dad had found out she’d been seeing me but turns out he’d actually been pushing her to go on a date with his boss’s son. (A guy we went to school with and who was actually pretty OK.) I felt used and a little thrown away. I remember spending the whole time there neck deep in microwaved mini-pizzas and nachos that cost 6 bucks a pop.

From there it was a downward spiral of Doritos self-flagellation, Mountain Dew baptisms, and weeping into a lean cuisine harder than Oprah. Jared from Subway sneered down on me like a cruel god.

subway

It went on like that until her dad got laid off. Then she called me up, crying and wanting to hook back up. I went back but it was just more of the same. It wasn’t long before I realized I was the only one dancing so I might as well just dance alone. I called it off and didn’t see her again for a while.

Fate loves a good fuck you, so we ended up picking the same backwoods college where another twist in the tale reared up. I was finally away from home and allowed to do what I wanted. Turned out that was get crazy drunk and party till I wasn’t sure who owned the clothes I’d woken up in. (no joke went to a party wearing one thing, came to in another house in someone else’s clothes…still have no idea what happened.)

She fed me some lines through a mutual friend and before long I was ready to give it another go. Only she wasn’t, like at all. Stringing me along might not have been the original plan but it ended up that way. She’d say she wanted to talk one day, then blow me off or ignore me when I showed up. Things got hot in a bad way, to the point where I got a restraining order and she was busted stuck in a window at my dorm at like 3 in the morning. (wasn’t even my room)

So yeah, that is the story of my first real relationship. Looking back on it and all the little things that I won’t add here, I understand the old saying “you never forget your first time.” I used to think it was about sex but it isn’t. It’s about the first time you opened up enough to let someone see whats under all the bullshit. The first time someone saw you, the real you, and walked away.

Stay frosty out there

 

Creature Feature: The Mothman

(Read The Full Article Below) 

I live in West Virginia, and for some reason this state is a hot bed for strange encounters. From the previously posted Vegetable Man to the Flatwoods Witch, the mountain state is full of monsters, none of which are more famous than The Mothman of Point Pleasant.

It all started on November 12, 1966 with a town over in Clendenin. Grave diggers were working into the late hours when they saw something large take off from a thicket of trees. They swore it wasn’t just a big bird. It looked like a man, a man with wings.

artistic mothman

An artistic representation by Cathy Wilkins of…MOTHER OF GOD, I’LL NEVER SLEEP AGAIN!!!

After that, Mothman was seen numerous times in different places throughout West Virginia. Most of the sightings seemed to occur around an old munitions factory called the West Virginia Ordinance Works or as the locals called it, the “TNT”.

The TNT area was overgrown and dotted with storage buildings made of concrete and dozens and dozens of abandoned tunnels. It was also, in the 1970s, said to be so polluted that it could be labeled a disaster site. This actually ties in with a local legend as to the Mothman’s origins.

Some people believe that the Mothman was actually a bird that was mutated by the chemical runoff from the plant. Now, this theory doesn’t really hold much water since no chemical used in the creation of gunpowder has been known to cause genetic mutation. However, there are those who believe that to this day.

It was the TNT area that played stage to the closest look anyone has ever had of the Mothman. On November 15, 1966, four friends were cruising through the TNT. Roger and Linda Scarberry and Steve and Marry Mallette had no idea what they would come across that night.

As accounts go, it was Linda who spotted the creature first. She saw a pair of glowing red eyes further up the road. When the headlights washed over the creature, they all stared in shock. Over 7 feet tall, it stood on two legs. Its body was covered in a gray/brown hide and its wings were folded.

The four were horrified of the creature. Many who have claimed to see the Mothman state that it makes them feel scared, as if it were malevolent. Some even become sick at the sight with an illness that lasts for several days.

They turned their car to speed away and panicked as the monster gave chase. It rose up into the air with a 10-15 foot wingspan and followed right along with the car, which was supposedly going 100 mph.

scarberry newspaper cliping

An article from Athens Ohio about the Scarberry sighting

Where there were dozens and dozens of sightings, even a few encounters with the Men In Black (who were keen on having witnesses keep their mouths shut,) everything seemed to come to a head with the collapse of the Silver Bridge.

On December 15, 1967, the suspension bridge collapsed and sent 31 cars into the freezing water. Sadly, 46 were killed, and while 9 survived, they were injured. Many claim to have seen the Mothman flying over the bridge before it collapsed. After the tragedy, the sightings mysteriously stopped.

There has been a photo circulating around this case for years which at first glance adds some credence to Mothman being at the scene of the bridge but upon closer inspection the supposed image is just part of the bridge itself.

mothman bridge2

Just a metal connector at he bridge top

 

Now there have been tons of theories as to what the Mothman actually is. Anything from the previously mentioned mutated bird to a sand hill crane…

sandhill crane

Come at me bro!

and an owl…

barred_owl

What is an Owl’s favorite subject? Owlgebra

However it seems a little hard to confuse an owl with a 7 foot tall human like creature. There is another odd connection between West Virginia’s Mothman, with that of Cornwall England’s Owlman (which was seen in 1976). The two sound nearly identical in terms of appearance, and with the time-frame so close together it wouldn’t be a stretch to think that they might be one and the same. (The fact that they were seen so far apart could play into the idea of migration.)

Something that did stand out to me was the long held belief by people in and around Point Pleasant that the area suffers from a curse. Legend has it that a Native American chief called Cornstalk was murdered near where the town stands today. He was killed along with his children in an act of betrayal and cursed the land.

Interestingly enough, there is a Shawnee myth about the Waupee which could explain the Mothman. The legend tales of a lonesome man who fell in love with a star maiden. They had a son and were invited to the star chief’s home in the sky. There they took the gift of a hawk feather and spread their great wings to soar across the sky.  (While a beautiful story, it doesn’t fully explain the creature. However, it goes to add credence to the idea that this being has been seen before. Myths and legends were often used to explain the explainable, after all.)

My take on the Mothman is one of hope. The creature itself ended up breathing life back into the town of Point Pleasant after the book The Mothman Prophecies and the movie with the same name came out. The little town used the monster to put themselves on the map and have become a mecca in the cyptozoological scene. While sightings have all but died out, in one town at least, the hope that something is out there is still strong.

mothman festival

Stay frosty

Sources:

http://www.roadsideamerica.com

http://cryptidz.wikia.com/wiki/Cryptid_Wiki

https://www.prairieghosts.com/

Ghosts In Houses: Ghost Story Love

A knock in the house after everyone else has gone to bed, a creak of the floor boards behind you when you know you’re alone, a wisp of shadow just out of the corner of your eye. Who doesn’t love a good ghost story?

ghost

Woooooo!

They are classic and unsettling, like in the case of Burnt Offerings,  my first real exposure to a haunted house story. They can also be more thought-provoking, even heartbreaking, such as Peter Straub’s Lost Boy, Lost Girl. The fact that ghost stories remain a big part of cultural identities all over the world and continue to scare today I think comes from our timeless fear of death.

Nobody gets out of this alive.

So when I started to work on In The Ruins Of Hope, I wanted to show my own take on a haunted house. I began to research old world medicine and what procedures were used. While a lot of the practices would make your skin crawl, the most hair-raising were used upon the mentally unwell.

A lot of the time people who were deemed unfit (or unwanted) were sent to asylums. These were most often run or funded by religious groups of one creed or another. While these places may have started out with the best of intentions, they were a breeding ground for abuse.

Starvation therapy, lobotomies, ice baths, holes drilled in the skull, along with intentionally infecting patients with illnesses that would bring on fevers in order to burn the crazy away, were all barbaric treatments.

Many people died in agony because of these “cures,” and that got me to thinking. If there was ever a place with enough suffering to hold a soul, it would be a mad house.

danvers state hospital

Danvers State Lunatic Asylum, once located in Danvers Massachusetts

 

So that became the setting for HopeIt allowed me to explore the idea of what it would mean for a person’s consciousness, their essence, to be trapped in a place that had caused them so much pain.

I came up with the idea of making the actual haunting a sort of ghost dreamland, what I called a phantasmagoria. (Definitions of that word include “…visions seen in fever dreams” and “…a type of horror theater using lanterns to project shadows.”) It was a place you could just fall into, a parallel sort of pocket reality. Which opened up a lot of room for expression. I even manged to tie in a riddle game between murderous sphinx sisters and my heroine.

I’m a sucker for a good riddle, Ever since I was 12 and read my way through The Hobbit.

Hobbit cover

Had the same cover on my copy. (Look at that cheese, only something from the 80’s)

The whole amount of research done was fascinating and really scratched that history nerd itch. I hope those that have read it enjoyed the story and found the setting as interesting as I did.

Stay frosty out there.

drunk

 

 

Pho: Better Than Brains!

zombie pho

PHOOO!

So I recently went to DC and spent some time taking in the sights and filling my face with amazing street food! It was a gourmet smorgasbord from around the world, all lined up down the same street. Diet went out the window and I spent three hours crying into a Lean Cuisine when I came home. Worth it.

One of the places we came across was Zombie Pho of Pho Junkies. Not only did it smell divine, but the man behind the counter was beyond nice. How he remembered everyone’s faces in order to not get the orders mixed up boggles the mind. (There wasn’t a line system, people who put there order in just kinda waited around wherever they wanted and he called them over when it was done.)

pho image

Mother of god that sauce pour!

Now I had never heard of pho before, and even though we couldn’t eat it for over thirty minutes due to a time constraint, (traffic in DC could well be used as a torment in hell) it was still warm. The fact that they make such a tasty bowl of awesome out of a truck is made even more impressive when you look into how complex making the dish is.

The team over at HellthyJunkFood made a detailed video on how to make giant pho and it is worth a watch for the process alone. (The fact that both JP and Julia are funny as hell is an added bonus.) Watch the video below.

Stay frosty out there

My Departure From Gruemonkey

…was because of their banana policy? Seriously, who doesn’t love a good source of potassium?

sexy banana

Mmmmm boi!

Okay, all jokes aside, it wasn’t because of anything nefarious or shady. Ani Lumberhead , who founded the website and runs the Facebook pages, seems like a great guy. He’s got a lot of passion and love for the horror scene and you can really tell. Him and his partner in crime, along with a talented editor, pulled off bringing Gruemonkey onto the world wide web. A feat that many hopefuls never pull off.

I was there right in the beginning of the first batch of writers. Things were constantly shifting and changing as the website tried to find it’s feat. Things were wild west style, then became more focused and more limited. People left and others joined, pitched ideas back and forth. Management was open, honest, and most importantly upfront.

We got some big name interviews and with them came a massive spike in views. Then nearly nothing, a pittance of clicks. Things weren’t being consistent and there were rumors tossed around about other websites poaching/sabotaging. I don’t know much about that but I do know that after that, and a big staff change, things started to move in a direction I didn’t like.

See, in the beginning everyone was informed that no pay would come until the site took off. When that happened and management could afford to pay the writers in cold hard cash, everyone would draw a paycheck. Until then the only pay would come in the form of exposure.

Now, I had been burned by that before; however, I liked the site and it felt good to try and be on the ground-floor of something that could go big. So I did a few articles and pitched an idea for a weekly feature. I was giving it the old college try as they say.

mountain goats old college try

You a real OG if you figure the connection here *wink-wink*

Then the site was restructured into becoming, more or less, an aggregate site. Now the original content was still there, but so were links to other sites with other articles. I felt that the spark which had first drawn me had become a very different sort of fire. In the end, I figured it just wasn’t for me. So when the call came out as to who was down to stay on-board, I took a life boat.

I know it has been a while since I’ve written for them and it seems a little out of the blue to post up why I left after so long. (I’ve not been active on the site since December) but someone mentioned to me yesterday that they’d not seen anything from me on Gruemonkey and I realized that I’d never given a proper reason why. So there you have it, just to put things to bed.

I know it sounds a little anti-climactic. No ill will, no drama, no secret underhanded dealings. Just didn’t like the direction. Best of luck to them, truly.

Stay frosty out there

drunk

 

The Self-Published Stain or Remembering Robert Stanek

I like to open these things with a bit of a story, so gather round.

1zgphmw

Once upon a time I was a member of one of those bad writing groups I mentioned before. (See HERE) I also enjoyed pretty regular contact with the groups founder/creator who had, on more than one occasion, told me some very worrying things. She claimed to love writing but didn’t have the time to read anything. She didn’t want to give harsh criticism of any works posted because that might drive people away. The kicker, the group was actually just a platform to sell her own online magazine.

Sketchy with a hard “Y”. However the group did have some pretty awesome active members who were more than happy to help tear apart a bad sentence, so I hung around.

Now the creator was prolific in adding herself to other groups about writing. Didn’t matter what group it was, she got in and started to private message members about joining her group. So, many times through the week I would see different group connections. Suddenly, I saw this face.

robert stanek2

Gaze upon his face, and know that the abyss has gazed into him

And I literally lost my shit.

I mean that, like, I couldn’t find the poor guy in the toilet or the medicine cabinet where I sometimes like to leave him. My shit was well and truly lost. I hung up posters and everything.

lost shit poster

“He’s out there without his TP!” -sobs-

For those of you that don’t know, that is Robert Stanek. He just so happens to be the poster child of everything not to do when self publishing. He and people like him play a big part in why self publishing has the stigma it does. Even now, his name is a stain on the indie publishing scene. I’m just going to list a few of his shitty practices.

  • Making dozens of false claims about being voted “Best of” and being a “Bestseller”. Now, Reagent Press does list his books as their number one best selling titles. Funny that, they seem to have only ever published books by Robert Stanek. Why that might make one think something crazy, such as maybe Robert Stanek owns Reagent Press or something, but that’s nuts right? (He does.)
  • Creating an untold number of sock puppet accounts not just to post up false reviews of his own stories but to argue with anyone who posted anything negative about the books on Amazon. (He also has the bad habit of reviewing other books by famous authors and adding something to the effect of: “…if you enjoyed this book, you’d love books by Robert Stanek.” Those words have never been uttered by anyone ever, other than Robert Stanek.)
  • Releasing the same book with a different title over and over again. Word for word, identical. This has lead to people accidentally buying the same book, twice. (That’s like getting hit with a turd that then poops on you!)
  • This madness:
stanek crazy

“In prison, people like them usually get shanked.”- Another Stanek Gem!

Truth be told, I could go on and on about the nutjob antics and awful practices that this guy has used to try and trick people into buying his books. But Conjugal Felicity has you covered on anything and everything Stanek. (Seriously go check it out. How deep the rabbit hole actually goes will blow your mind.)

Let’s bring things back home and wrap up. As soon as I saw that the creator of that group had joined up with a group run by Stanek, I sent all the info I just listed to her in a PM. I explained that you really don’t want your star hitched anywhere near that guy. Her reply, was the reason that I eventually ended up leaving the group and cutting ties. A picture is worth a thousand words they say, so here it is.

talk stanek 2

Edited for privacy.

Now I tried to help her out whenever she’d come to me to bounce off ideas or just to vent, but her mindset, as evidenced above, just didn’t jive with me. Anybody who could see the underhanded tactics that have put a stain on the self publishing community and get “…some good ideas…” is too far gone and someone I don’t want to help.

Robert Stanek and his ilk are the reason indies have to work twice as hard to be taken seriously and get the traction that more traditional authors have. It is a hard, uphill slog sometimes and we don’t need people making the climb anymore difficult.

Stay frosty out there

drunk

PS: A rant by the madman himself! Enjoy!