Sunday, January 30, 2011

Book Review: Autumn: The City by David Moody
The morning started just like any other for Donna Yorke. She made it to the office for her opening shift, began the task of prepping the office, said hello to the few other workers who shared the shift. Then, her world changed forever as one woman walked through the office doors, suddenly choking, falling to the floor and gasping her last breath. Donna rushes to the window and watches from the 9th floor as the city erupts in chaos, with people dropping to the ground dead in their tracks. Scared and confused, she hid herself in a small corner of the office, waiting.

Then, 48 hours later, some of the dead began to wake up.

Autumn: The City is the second novel in David Moody's Autmun series, but calling in the "next" book would be a misnomer. In Autumn, the story follows three survivors as they leave city, trying to find some place safe, where the possibility of running into the walking dead is very slim. Autumn: The City begins with the same events, but sticks with the story of those who remained in the city. Whereas the first had wide open spaces with the walking dead almost hidden from view until the last moment, in this novel, you can't escape from them because they are all around, cluttering and blocking the streets, forming herds that react to any little movement or sound. The psychological effects of seeing such a huge mass with its sole aim to quench its hunger with anything living weigh differently on each of the characters, adding real human qualities with which the reader can connect.

I also like that Moody mixes the side story of the characters from the first novel, having them cross paths with this new set of characters makes this apocalyptic world even more believable. It will be interesting to read how the two different sets of characters interact in the next book.

Oh, and not once is the word "zombie" used, but the reader still understands exactly what the survivors are up against.

Autumn: The City is a fast-paced, compelling story, another great addition to the zombie genre.

Autumn: The City
by David Moody
Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Griffin
ISBN: 978-0-312-57000-2
trade paperback, 331 pgs.


received book from publisher

The Things I Do . . . .

Since I began using foursquare, I have become seriously addicted to doing whatever I can to earn badges. I know; it's a terrible thing, but think of other things to which I could be addicted, and this turns out to be pretty tame.

In fact, last night, I dragged my friend Clark to Club Ripples with two goals in mind. First: to see a drag performance. I hadn't seen a drag performance in quite some time. No particular reason; I just never found the urge to get off my fat rump to see one since my "younger" days. I learned earlier in the week that Shannel, one of the contestants from Season 2 of RuPaul's Drag Race, would be performing last night. Let me just say that Shannel really worked the floor and the music, dancing and lip-synching back and forth without missing a beat, energizing the crowd, and looking fabulous all the while. Even when the music cut out during her final song, she maintained her aplomb and acted as if it were part of the performance.

My second goal of the evening: to unlock the RuPaul's Drag Race badge on foursquare. To do so, I had to be following LogoTV on foursquare and then check into a particular venue. The page listed many places, mostly in LA or New York, but thank goodness Club Ripples was listed! So last night, before Shannel took to the floor, I logged on and checked in, et voilà! Now I can boast about having the badge added to my badge list.


The lengths I will go to to earn one of these badges . . . shameful. Shameful, I tell you! At least we saw a fantastic show!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Getting Back to Work

Early last year, I was doing a great job at losing weight, watching what I ate and taking better care of myself. Then, I let things fall to the wayside: I put off going to the gym, I stopped keeping track of my foods, my weekend walks stopped altogether. And I gained a few pounds in the process.

Caesar and I both decided that once 2011 rolled around, we would start the exercise routines again. But I'm very good at procrastinating so my weekend walks didn't start until this morning. I spent an hour on the beach, walking through the fog along the bike path with other walkers , runners, cyclists and roller bladers. I'm worn out and hungry, but I hope to keep this up as the year progresses -- weather and health permitting.

At this moment, I weight 202 lbs. My goal weight: 185 lbs.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Music I'm Digging At the Moment



I love atmospheric, electronic music, and last year came across Australian group All India Radio which fit nicely into my musical tastes. I find it easy to concentrate on my writing while listening to the music and usually have this or one of their other CDs in the computer while writing. I hope you enjoy their music, too!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Kibble

Randomness from the past few days . . . .

- We saw The King's Speech Sunday evening and agreed that it was a fantastic movie. Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham-Carter deserve their Oscar nods.

- I took the plunge and registered with foursquare. Admittedly, it wasn't my first choice. I liked the look of the badges and the non-competitiveness of Gowalla, but their customer support leaves much to be desired. Last Wednesday, I emailed a question about app permissions and replied back to their response, but have not heard a peep from them since. I'm giving foursquare a one-week trial to see if it's worthwhile.

- As for my writing, the stories continually float around in my head. And they're good ones, too, if I do say so myself. My problem is committing them to paper. If I don't have some sort of goal for them, I doubt that they will ever get written. So I created a deadline for the 3rd draft of the story I'm currently working on: the end of day on February 6. Granted, this is a story I wrote just after graduation, and it really needs some severe plastic surgery.

- I finished 3 books over the weekend. That must be some kind of record for me. Vita Nuova from Dante (he of The Divine Comedy fame), The Eagle Has Reanimated by Tony Schaab, and Autumn: The City by David Moody. And, thanks to Mr. Schaab, I found a book of "family"-oriented zombie tales so yet another book is on its way to add to my growing collection.

- The Oscar nominations: meh. I think I'm quickly getting over these damned award shows.

- Thanks to gift cards and discount cards, we spent $8 for a $36 meal at Claim Jumper last night.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Book Review: The Eagle Has Reanimated by Tony Schaab

In July of 1969, the U.S. sent a three men into space for what was to become one of the greatest moments in history. At least, that's what we've all been lead to believe. What if all those rumors of a staged moon landing on some movie set were actually true? And what if the reason behind it were to hide a potential threat to the well-being of the entire world? That's exactly what Tony Schaab explores in his zombie-infested novelette The Eagle Has Reanimated.

As astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin and Michael Collins prepare for the Apollo XI mission, a rash of random violence and an unknown disease strikes the Mid West. That worries Armstrong since his family's in Ohio. But he can't let that get to him; none of the crew can. They all have a mission to complete -- to be the first men to walk on the Moon -- and unless they hear otherwise, nothing's going to keep them from their goal. Once in space, the mission seems to be moving according to plan until some excess weight throws the landing module slightly off course. Too late do the astronauts realize just what exactly that extra weight is going to cost them.

I enjoyed how the novelette takes what everyone knows about the Apollo XI mission -- from the small facts about the astronauts and earlier missions to the speculation about whether it actually happened or was filmed on a soundstage -- and injects it with the living dead to speculate how that might alter events. What also works is that the story doesn't rely on much gore to get the scares across. The tension builds slowly, carefully focusing in on the three astronauts. After all, what could be more frightening than being trapped in a confined space with one of those creatures slowly shambling toward you and with no way to escape, nowhere to run?

The Eagle Has Reanimated is a great zombie-infested alternative version of history, one that I found difficult to put down once I started. I think other readers will, too.

The Eagle Has Reanimated
by Tony Schaab
Ludicrous Speed Designs
eBook, 78 pgs.


Received eBook from author

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Book Review: On Picking Fruit by Arthur Wooten
Poor Curtis Jenkins wakes up in a hospital room, still out of sorts and wondering why his mother and his best friend Quinn are there? They believe that an overdose of Beano, in an apparent suicide attempt. (His low self-esteem at not being able to find Mr. Right might just possibly be the cause.) The doctor says he'll be just fine, but that he needs to see a therapist as part of his release. Reluctantly, he takes the recommendation of his friend Quinn and sets an appointment with Dr. Magda Tunick.

As a result of their first meeting, he's ordered to come return in two weeks to dig a little deeper into his emotional problems and in the meantime, he must have at least have a date or two to discuss at their meeting. So Curtis' adventures in dating begin, with a hunky foreigner named Desifinado. Unfortunately, Desi goes from hero to zero so quickly that Curtis can't get away fast enough. And his prospects go downhill from there, with one date after another, each stranger than the last.

Will Curtis ever find his Mr. Right hiding somewhere in the depths of the dating pool?

Once I picked up On Picking Fruit, I could not stop laughing. I know it's wrong
to laugh at another's troubles -- even fictional ones -- but everything from the variety of guys that Curtis dates to how his mother and his best friend act are simply ripe for comedy. And author Arthur Wooten makes it seem effortless with this book.

The best thing, though, is Curtis. Empathizing with him is very easy as he struggled through what can feel terrifying -- being gay and single -- and watching everyone around him find soul mates while he can't even get out of the starting gate. I think quite a few gay men will read this and understand exactly what Curtis is going through, the pressure that not only family and friends put on a person, but what someone puts on his/herself to find a partner. Yet, while his dating life appears to be on a downward spiral, Curtis begins to take control and to figure out what he wants from his life, and I found myself smiling at the end.

On Picking Fruit
by Arthur Wooten
Alyson Books
ISBN: 155583952-5
trade paperback, 210 pgs.


purchased book.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Coming Soon!

The book First Time Dead, Vol. II is set to be released next month! I'm nervous about it, seeing something of mine in print for the first time. I wonder if zombie enthusiasts will enjoy it, dread upcoming reviews, and worry about every little thing. And, there might be a book signing in the very near future which I still find impossible to believe. Me? At a book signing and not one of those standing in line?

Well, nothing's set in stone. But it's nice to dream about, isn't it?

I'm slowly getting back into the swing of writing, with two short stories in process and a re-working of the mess that I wrote for NaNoWriMo. A friend asked me what I hoped to accomplish with my writing. I want to be known as a writer of gay horror. Thinking back to all the horror books I've read, very few have any gay characters -- with the exception of vampires, but I think that lends itself very easily to the homosexuality. But other horror -- zombie, ghost, monster, etc. -- I rarely find any gay characters. Even Stephen King has had only one gay character as far as I can remember: in his novel Cell.

Who knows. Anything is possible if you just go out and do it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Book Review: The Haunted Rectory by Katherine Valentine
Something isn't quite right in the town of Bend Oaks. Over the past few months, three priests have fled St. Francis Xavier Church, claiming the strange scratching noises and mysterious patches of darkness in the rectory made them fear for their lives. To the Church Hookers, the supposed haunting is just rumor, and they need to use the rectory to continue their tradition of hooking rugs for the annual church fundraiser. But things are about to change with the arrival of Father Rich Melo, sent by the archdiocese to determine if the haunting rumors are true, and if they are, to use his skills to exorcise whatever demon is holed up in the rectory before it can claim one of the Hookers.

The idea of a group of church rug hookers battling the forces of evil sounds silly, but following their adventures first with the eeriness of being alone in the rectory then to sneaking into an insane asylum to rescue one of their own, not letting a pesky little demon get in their way, had me hooked, so to speak. And the sub-stories -- Father Melo's previous experience with exorcism, the story behind Jane Edwell's extrasensory abilities, Gail Honeychurch's family troubles -- all meld with the darker aspects to create a fine story.

At times, I felt that too much information was being provided and in too abrupt a fashion -- such as when we learn within the second chapter of Jane's psychic powers. I enjoy to learn things like that subtly or as the story progresses rather than all at once. But that's just a personal preference.

The Haunted Rectory was a quirky and surprisingly fun adventure. The story does leave room for continuing adventures with the Hookers, and I hope to read more about them.

The Haunted Rectory
by Katherine Valentine
Image Books/Doubleday
ISBN: 0-385-51202-3
trade paperback, 277 pgs.


purchased book

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Re-discovering
I was still in college when this album was released. I remember being home for Summer vacation and driving to a Tower Records to scan the stacks of cassette tapes for one in particular: Red, Hot + Blue, one of the first AIDS benefit albums. I was still closeted at the time but paying more and more attention to anything gay or gay-related in the world around me. So when I heard about this album on MTV, I had to get it. I listened to it non-stop and kept it in my car's player at all times. By the time Christmas break rolled around, I think everyone in my dorm -- er, "residence hall" -- was sick to death of it.

That cassette tape disappeared some time ago, and recently, I finally purchased the CD on Amazon. Listening to all those Cole Porter songs interpreted by the big artists of that time (1990) reminds me just how much I loved the album: David Byrne, The Thompson Twins, Aztec Camera, Neneh Cherry, Annie Lennox, U2, and many more. Yet one song has always stuck with me, both because it seemed suited to k.d. lang and because the video sent such a strong message for the time it was made, and the images are still strong today, a little over twenty years later.

I know the sound is off a bit, but the video presents the clearest image I could find on Youtube. So without further ado, this is k.d. lang singing Cole Porter's So In Love:

Monday, January 17, 2011

True Grit

I'm usually not one who enjoys remakes of perfectly good films -- such as that remake of Psycho from a few years ago. The originals are usually fantastic, with incredible writing, directing, acting so I don't see a point in re-creating a film. (And don't even get me started on taking what happens with foreign language films.) However, once in a while I force myself to see such a remake -- and I even enjoy it, much like I did with the Coen brothers' True Grit.
14-year-old Mattie Ross wants to find Tom Chaney, the man who killed her father. Mattie's a smart, stubborn girl and manages to coerce Marshall Rooster Cogburn to help her track Chaney down through the Cherokee country.

That's the story, without giving too much away.

The acting in this remake is phenomenal. Jeff Bridges plays the whiskey-loving and cranky Rooster Cogburn as part curmudgeon, part somewhat lovable father figure to Mattie. Matt Damon is equally likable at the Texas Ranger LaBoeuf, bringing an easy, subtle comic touch to the character. Josh Brolin and Barry Pepper are great, too, in their small parts. But the youngster Hailee Steinfeld steals the movie as Mattie Ross. She's stubborn, quick-witted, brave and smart -- almost too smart for her own good. One of my favorite scenes is her banter with Col. Stonehill (Dakin Matthews) about selling back the ponies that her father bought from the Colonel. Very funny and shows just what of character Mattie is.

The script is sharp, as well, and you have to listen carefully or you might miss something. But then again, it is from the Coen brothers who did an amazing job with Homer's The Odyssey -- O Brother, Where Art Thou? -- and No Country for Old Men.

If you haven't seen this versio nof True Grit yet, get to a theater now!!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Crackberry

My cell phone's contract was just about up so during the week between Christmas and New Year's, I upgraded to a Blackberry Curve. (I feel so adult now!) Very sleek, and I like having a full keyboard rather than punching the 2 key three times to get the letter "C".

So with the new technology comes the search for apps to use. I already downloaded Fandango so I can check movie times and a great little weather app called BeWeather. I've checked a few games, some traffic-related programs, and a few others, but very little seems to impress me enough to try a download.

However, two apps I keep returning to, hemming and hawing about whether to download them or not are Foursquare and Gowalla. Both are location-based games (or apps) where you "check in" to a location. With Foursquare, you accumulate points to earn badges or Mayorships or other little tidbits and compete (in a way) with others; with Gowalla, you collect stamps in a passport. I know Foursquare has more users, but Gowalla seems more my style.

Then again, do I really need either of those apps?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Joys of Apartment Living

I re-adjusted the alarm on my clock so that I wake up 10 minutes earlier than before. Ostensibly, it was to beat the traffic heading South on the 405. For some reason, the cars and trucks slow down and eventually stop for no apparent reason. No accident reports on the radio. No sudden appearance of a sink hole swallowing that damned Hyundai that cut me off. No stray animals or pedestrians trying to dart across lanes. I've given up trying to understand this phenomenon. But I have learned that hitting the freeway 10 minutes earlier drastically reduces my chances of winding up in the slowdown.

However, the real reason for waking earlier was to access hot water in the showers. That's the one thing I don't enjoy about living in an apartment: sharing the hot water heater with two other units. In the olden days (read: a few weeks ago), I would get up with the alarm, stumble into the other room to find clean clothes, then stumble again into the bathroom. Undress, step in the shower, turn on the hot and cold water faucets to allow the heat to slowly kick in. Once the water temperature was just right, I'd turn on the showerhead and clean up. Until one of the downstairs neighbors also turned on the shower thus changing the full burst of heated water into a mere trickle of arctic coldness.

So I figured 10 minutes earlier in the morning would mean plenty of time for a nice hot shower. Such were my thoughts this morning. The hot water was spraying from the showerhead. My hair was all sudsy with shampoo. Then, I heard the fan click on downstairs. Fuck! I quickly spun to stick my head under the water, frantically wringing the shampoo from my hair, when all of a sudden, the spray turned into a trickle. Still, I cupped my hands to fill them with water and doused my head with that little bit. Until the arctic seas returned.

I jumped when that coldness hit my face and almost slipped in the shower.

I then did the only thing I could think of doing: turned off the cold water, and spun the hot water nozzle as far as it would go. I heard a gasp from downstairs and quickly soaped up and rinsed.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Book Review: Death Troopers by Joe Schreiber
While on a routine transport mission back to home base, the Imperial prison barge Purge suffers a mechanical malfunction, forcing all engines to stop. Unable to repair the broken equipment with what they have on hand, the crew discovers a Star Destroyer adrift in space near them. Their hails return no responses, and all scans report that no life forms are aboard so the ship's Captain drafts a salvage crew together to head over to the derelict ship to find anything they can use to repair the Purge.

The eerie silence aboard the Star Destroyer unsettles the salvage crew, yet they trudge onward, breaking into two teams to find anything to repair their ship. Something comes with them when they make their way back to the Purge, and within hours, most of the crew and the prisoners develop strong, flu-like symptoms then die agonizing deaths. For the handful of survivors -- a lone female doctor, the brothers Trig and Kale Longo, a mean-spirited Captain of the Guards and two rogue smugglers -- their troubles have only just begun. Because the dead are waking up, and they're very hungry.

Death Troopers surprised me. I thought it would be just another franchise trying to jump into the zombie foray because it's the flavor of the moment. But I found Joe Schreiber's twist on the zombies quite refreshing. These creepy crawlies learned -- and very quickly -- and then communicated with others like them. But what made this a more intense story was placing everyone within the confines of a mostly dark space ship. Where do you go when there really is no place left to run? Much of the imagery took the "mad scientist" concept to a new level, with such things as large tanks filled with a thick liquid and human parts still intact and still functioning. (It was actually an eerily beautiful scene.)

I'm not sure the addition of Han Solo and Chewbacca to the story added much, except to reinforce that this novel falls into the Star Wars universe. A few times, I also scratched my head trying to figure out how a character managed to get from one place to another. One such instance occurred with the Longo brothers that seemed -- to me -- to defy logical explanation. That, however, did not affect my enjoyment of the novel, and I believe that fans of the the zombie genre will enjoy it as well.

Death Troopers
by Joe Schreiber
Ballantine Books
ISBN: 978-0-345-50962-8
Hardcover, 270 pgs.


purchased book on own

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Feeling Meh

So far, 2011 doesn't seem to be starting out as a banner year. At least that's how it's feeling to me. I managed to get sick just a few days before returning to work after a nice, long vacation. Then, passed the sickness onto Caesar who's suffered the same sore throat, fever and body aches that I did.

This past Saturday, my Mom called to say that she had to take my Dad to the E/R. She said that after speaking with my Brother on the phone, he sat down in his chair and could hear and feel his heart pumping strong in his ears like a never-ending drum beat. He felt flushed and slightly off-kilter so off they rushed to the hospital. The doctor could not determine what was causing the pulsing and sent him home wearing a heart monitor. (As of today, still no idea what's causing the puling, but it has dropped in intensity, according to my Dad.)

Tomorrow, my Mom undergoes laser eye surgery to repair a hole in the back lining of her eye, hopefully to curb the effects of glaucoma. The procedure only takes 2-3 minutes, with a recovery time of 30 minutes. But the thought of having your eye open while a laser shoots into it . . . . I feel uncomfortable just thinking about it.

Not to mention that I've gained 6 lbs. of what I lost back. My stomach feels like a balloon inflated to over-capacity. I blame the Hershey Kisses.

As for my writing, well, I hate everything that I've written or attempted to write since October. Even with the impending publication of my first story, I keep wondering if that's all I've got.

Can I crawl back into bed until January's over?

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Book Review: Forgetting Elena by Edmund White
The nervous, unnamed narrator finds himself trying to wade through the minefield of manners and social proprieties of his life in a seaside community reminiscent of Fire Island. He spends his days attending parties with Herbert as his entourage, keeping watch to make sure he says the right things, constructing carefully worded poems to describe the events of the day, and constantly searching from some sign from Herbert that he made the right decision. Just when he believes that he's managed to make it into the island society's good graces, along comes a woman named Elena who manages to throw the narrator into doubt who he really is and his position in this new society.

Forgetting Elena never seemed to connect with me, and many times I fought against the urge to set the novel aside. While White's prose is beautiful, the way he describes the different guests at one of the high dances of the island, for example, the story didn't gel. I didn't like the narrator, who seemed very weak and uncertain, and never grew beyond that. For a while, I thought he had been drugged, and I was seeing the world through tarnished and hazy eyes. Then, after realizing he hadn't used any drugs, I thought he was simple minded. In the end, I think he was just as confused as I was about the whole story. Perhaps this lack of connecting to him tarnished my impression of the book. But the island society -- I'm calling it that because that's the impression I had -- rubbed me the wrong way, as well. The way characters acted, the lack of any explanation for their mannerisms and their sense of entitlement (or superiority), their odd sense of propriety -- I tried to understand, to connect their actions with what the narrator was feeling or describing, but felt myself really not caring on whit about them.

Not one of my favorite Edmund White books, and I would have a difficult time recommending it. Instead, try Hotel de Dream or The Married Man or The Beautiful Room Is Empty.

Forgetting Elena
by Edmund White
Ballantine Books
ISBN: 0-345-35862-7
paperback, 183 pgs.


purchased book on own

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Wii Are Addicts
The one big gift to which we treated ourselves this past holiday season was a new Wii system. I hemmed and hawed about buying one, only because my sole reason for wanting one was to play Epic Mickey. I'm not much into the shoot 'em up games like Call of Duty and feared that after the Mickey game, what would be left to hold my interest? Well, I shouldn't have worried. We now own almost 10 games -- 2 Disney, 3 Lego, 1 zombie, 1 Looney Tunes, 1 horror, and the requisite sports games that come with the gaming system -- and each of us has his favorite addiction.
Without question, my favorite game is Epic Mickey. Imagine the famous mouse gets sucked into an alternate world that looks like a Bizarro version of Disneyland called the Wasteland. On Mickey's journey to escape the Wasteland, he runs into gremlins and myriad other characters from the older, forgotten Disney cartoons, as well as a Mad Doctor and a mysterious ink blot trying to prevent his return to his own world. Armed only with a paint brush that shoots either paint or paint thinner, he does battle with such things as the Clock Tower from "it's a small world" -- one of my favorite battles -- finds hidden treasures and pins, and must complete quests in order to find his way home.

The art direction on this game is amazing, filled with stunning 360˚ environments and an assortment of quests ranging from very simple to seemingly impossible. I also like that the actions you take affect game play later on so though I've already managed to fail a few tasks, I want to replay the game once I finish just to see how the game changes when those tasks are completed. My only gripe is the same as that of many others who have played: the camera isn't the best, and Mickey sometimes disappears from the screen. A simple jump or quick run away clears this up, but it happens too often and can be frustrating.

And yet, when I first opened the game, I think I sat in front of the TV with the wand and nunchuck in my hands for a good two hours.
As for Caesar, his addiction is the Lego® Batman game. Gameplay is divided into 3 stories, with 5 chapters each. To begin with, you play through the story mode as either Batman or Robin, battling The Riddler, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Joker, and others, smashing objects and collecting studs along the way. Oh, 10 collectible mini kits are hidden throughout each chapter as well that create a vehicle or something related to that particular chapter when the kits are complete. After finishing a chapter in story mode, the free play mode becomes available. In this mode, you can play as any character -- provided you've either unlocked them or purchased them (using the studs). Each character has a special set of skills, such as freezing water, super strength, the ability to walk through toxic liquids, which allow you to collect hard-to-reach mini kits and special red prize bricks. Oh, and I almost forgot: once a story is completed, the Villains' side of the story becomes available to play, and then you can go through different versions of each story as The Penguin or Harley Quinn or Bane.

The game is surprisingly fun, with lots of humor and site gags. The art direction on this is great, as well, with fantastic attention to detail and to creating a very full, 3-dimensional world. Plus, the chapters aren't simple. Characters must complete certain tasks in order to open doors, build ladders, maneuver boats or cars to access hidden mini kits or extra studs. Very easy to get sucked into this game, as we've both come to learn over the past week or so.

So the Wii turns out to be a great purchase. And we've already been scanning Gamestop and other stores for interesting titles. The next one that seems to have piqued Caesar's imagination is a game based on the horror film Ju-On so I might find that screaming across the TV screen very soon. (the movie freaked me out; I can only imagine how the game will be.)

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Favorite Reads of 2010

With the new year come the plethora of lists, and as always, it's time to add more of my own lists to the . . . list.

I checked through my LibraryThing account and discovered that I read 58 books last year. 58!! That's a little over one book each week. No wonder I needed new glasses . . . . Paring the list down to my 10 Favorite Reads was no easy task, but the results are below. And the dates in parentheses correspond to when my copy of the book was originally published.

1. Night of the Living Trekkies (2010) by Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall



2. Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady (1985) by Florence King
3. Autumn (2010) by David Moody
4. Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter (2010) by A.E. Moorat
5. The Fifth Child (1989) by Doris Lessing
6. The Complete John Silence Stories (1997) by Algernon Blackwood
7. Bastard Out of Carolina (1993) by Dorothy Allison
8. The Dragon Factory (2010) by Jonathan Maberry
9. Boneshaker (2009) by Cherie Priest
10. Android Karenina (2010) by Leo Tolstoy and Ben H. Winters

Yes, quite a bit of sci-fi and horror in the mix. I can't help myself. But, I also go out of my way to read LGBT books, which for me are books that either contain a major LGBT character or storyline. With that in mind, here's the list of my 5 favorite LGBT Reads of 2010:

1. Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady (1985) by Florence King
2. Bastard Out of Carolina (1993) by Dorothy Allison
3. The Night Listener (2001) by Armistead Maupin
4. Openly Bob (1999) by Bob Smith
5. Another Country (1992) by James Baldwin

What your favorite reads are from 2010?

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Mistaken

Markus had just started brushing his teeth, taking great care to reach the molars way in the back when the lights flickered once, twice then went out altogether. He grunted with frustration at yet another DIY project for the house -- the house that had supposedly been repaired and refurbished by the previous owners before they moved out. It figured that the lights would start to fail on him. Same as the water pressure in the shower. And the rotted beams on the back deck. And the bird's nest plugging up the outside vent for the heater.

He pressed the large button on a night light stuck into the electrical outlet and continued brushing his teeth by the bright blue-green glow. A short, dark object standing next to the toilet in the mirror made him stop. He spun quickly looked over his right shoulder and sure enough, nothing stood beside the toilet. Turning back to the mirror, he almost swallowed his toothbrush when he saw the woman standing just behind his left shoulder in the mirror.

Long, scraggly dark hair. Withered face with patches of grey skin flaking away. Rotted teeth sharpened to catlike points grinning back at him. Her bony claw of a hand darted up to his reflection's neck and grabbed hold.

Markus felt fingers around his throat, squeezing, squeezing.

"Three times and I will come." she cackled and smiled. "You should know better than to call for Bloody Mary."

Bloody Mary. His brows furrowed. "Bloody . . . I didn't --" he gasped, "didn't call you."

The sensation of fingers loosened. "What?"

Markus inhaled deeply a few times. "I stepped in here a moment ago to brush my teeth."

The lights clicked back on."Hold on a sec." He watched her riffle through the folds of her tattered once-white dress. "Ah, here it is." In her hand, she held a well-worn piece of paper. "It says here '1804 Erie St.'"

"This is 1802 Erie."

"1802? Christ!" She crumpled the piece of paper and hurled it to the floor. "This is the third time this week that Murray in traffic's given me the wrong directions. I am so sorry. We have a new guy, and he's still not getting the hang of this."

She placed a hand on his reflections shoulder, and Markus did everything he could not to scream when he felt them on his real skin. "That's, um, okay?"

"When I get back, I'm going directly to his supervisor." She stepped back and began to fade away. "Please accept my apologies." And she was gone.

Markus stared at the mirror, too shocked to continue with his brushing. He hesitantly touched his neck, trying to feel for any scratches or anything swollen. Assured that he was okay, he slowly continued to brush his teeth.

Already That Time of the Year

And by that, I mean I've caught my first chest cold of the New Year. Hooray for me! The scratchy throat started sometime early on Friday, but I didn't pay much heed to it. A few friends were coming over to ring in the New Year so we cleaned up the apartment, bought extra food for the nachos and the nutella bhang (our version with Hawaiian sweet bread, nutella, bananas and strawberries), and enjoyed ourselves once the company arrived. Hitting the bars was nominally hinted at, but the four of us wound up playing Wii for most of the evening, right up until the ball dropped in Times Square.

And even then, the scratchy throat kept hidden in the background. All day yesterday, as well.

But last night, the phlegmy cough started and stuck with me most of the night and morning. So I'm sitting at home today before heading into the office tomorrow, watching cheesy horror films on Fearnet, reading, and staying inside rather than jumping in the rain that's falling -- again.

Happy New Year and all the best to each and every one of you for 2011!!!