Thursday, February 28, 2013

Word Tales


What's the significance of this sequence of words?  Read my short story "Verbapeutic" (published in the February issue of The Lovecraft eZine) to find out.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Dead Lines

The titular "I Ain't a Judas" was never actually spoken during last night's episode, but many other powerful lines were:

Hershel: Get back here!  You're slipping, Rick.  We've all seen it.  We understand why.  But now is not the time.  You once said this isn't a democracy.  Now you have to own up to that.  I put my family's life in your hands.  So get your head clear.  And do something.

The Governor: And if you include men and women age 13 and up?
Milton: You mean boys and girls.
The Governor: Adolescence: it's a 20th Century invention.  [beat]  Men and women.

Merle: You're the farmer Hershel.
Hershel: And you're the black sheep Merle.

Merle: Smart to stay fit.  Don't leave out the cardio.  You know, if we're gonna live under the same roof, we should clear the air.  This whole hunting you down thing, that was just business.  Carrying out orders.
Michonne: Hmm.  Like the gestapo?

Andrea: Look, I cannot excuse or explain what Philip has done.  But I am here trying to bring us together.  We have to work this out.
Rick: There's nothing to work out.  We're going to kill him.  I don't know how, or when, but we will.

Andrea: No, I am there because those people need me.
Michonne: And what about these people?
Andrea: I'm trying to save them, too.
Michonne: [scoffs] I did not realize the messiah complex was contagious.

Beth: [singing] When there's nothing left to keep you here.  When you're falling behind in this big blue world.  You got to hold on.  Hold on.  Got to hold on...

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Guns Blazing

Guns point straight to the dark heart of American Gothic.  They forebode the eruption of sudden and widespread violence.  When wielded by the disgruntled or delusional (whether in fiction or real life), they turn areas of everyday life--the workplace, shopping malls, movie theaters--into grim, gore-spattered arenas.  And as seen in the school shooting in Newton, Connecticut, back in December, guns can instantly transform an idyllic community into a site of notorious massacre.

In "Guns," an essay published last month as a Kindle Single, Stephen King takes aim at the hot-button issue of gun control in America.  He begins by critiquing the mass media coverage of mass-shooting atrocities in this country (e.g. "the slow and luxurious licking of tears from the faces of the bereaved" by cable news networks).  Next King offers a detailed explanation for why he decided to pull his novel Rage from bookstore shelves.  The author also challenges the N.R.A.-promoted notion that a "culture of violence" in America is the real culprit behind incidents like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School:
The assertion that Americans love violence and bathe in it daily is a self-serving lie promulgated by fundamentalist religious types and America's propaganda-savvy gun pimps.  It's believed by people who don't read novels, play video games, or go to many movies.  People actually in touch with the culture understand that what Americans really want (besides knowing all about Princess Kate's pregnancy) is The Lion King on Broadway, a foul-talking toy named Ted at the movies, Two and a Half Men on TV, Words with Friends on their iPads, and Fifty Shades of Grey on their Kindles. To claim that America's "culture of violence" is responsible for school shootings is tantamount to cigarette company executives declaring that environmental pollution is the chief cause of lung cancer.
King, though, isn't just spouting personal opinions; he backs up his points for the control of assault weapons with compelling evidence.  He is speaking out here less as a liberal than as a reasonable human being (which resonates with someone mostly apolitical like myself, who ultimately approaches the issue from a position of unabashed self-concern: wanting to keep my own hide safe and unperforated when venturing out in public).  The essay is a poignant and persuasive piece of rhetoric, and arguably forms one of the most important works the author has ever produced.  It warrants reading no matter which side a person falls on the bipartisan divide.

Because just remember: political leanings are irrelevant once someone is laid out flat by a bullet.

Thursday, February 21, 2013



[For the previous game of Hangmany, click here.]

Can you solve the following puzzle within 20 seconds, or are you going to choke?


__  __  __  __  E '  __       __  __  T        __       __  __  __

B  __       __  E  __  __  __  M  __  T  __


HINT: Run away, run away from the pain

Correct answer appears in the Comments section of this post.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Dead Lines


"Home" is where the great dialogue (not to mention a pulse-pounding climax) is, as evidenced by last night's episode:

The Governor [to Andrea]: I thought this place could be something else.  Something better.  But I wasn't up to the challenge; I screwed it up....I've done some terrible things.   I'm not fit to lead these people.  But you are.

Merle: They're all dead.  Makes no difference.
Daryl: How can you be so sure?
Merle: Right about now, [the Governor]'s probably hosting a housewarming party where he's gonna bury what's left of your pals.

Hershel: What are we waiting for?  If he's really on his way, we should be out of here by now.
Glenn: And go where?
Hershel: We lived on the road all winter.
Glenn: Back when you had two legs and we didn't have a baby crying for walkers every four hours.
Hershel: We can't stay here.
Glenn: We can't run.

Daryl: Man, I went back for you.  You weren't there.  I didn't cut off your hand, neither.  You did that.  Way before they locked you up on that roof.  You asked for it.
Merle: [chuckles].  You know--you know what's funny to me?  You and Sheriff Rick are like this [holds fingers together] now.   Right?  I bet you a penny and a fiddle of gold that you never told him that we were planning on robbing that camp blind.

Hershel [to Rick]: You know I wouldn't have hobbled all the way down here if it wasn't important.  Are you coming back soon?  Glenn's on the warpath.  Smart as he is, he can't fill your boots.  I'm afraid he's reckless.  We need you now more than ever.

Carol: Don't you miss your brother?
Axel: My brother? [scoffs]  Hell no.  He had a real money problem.
Carol: What kind of problem?
Axel: He didn't lend me any. [laughing]  One time that son of a bitch--

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Perfect Valentine's Tome

Forget chocolates; what better gift to give to your (horror) lover than Joe Hill's Heart-Shaped Box?  Just how incredible is this 2007 debut novel from Stephen King's firstborn son?  Let me count the ways:

The premise: an ex-rock-star and longtime collector of macabre items willfully purchases a ghost (by buying a dead man's suit in an online auction).  The phrase caveat emptor has never been more apropos.

The villain: the late--yet lingering--Craddock James McDermott is one of the most frightening figures a reader will ever encounter.  Whiles serving as a member of the U.S. Army's psychological operations division in Vietnam, Craddock learned the art of fiendish persuasion, and gained key knowledge of the occult.  A sadistic Svengali waging a posthumous vendetta makes for one harrowing antagonist.

The fright scenes: Craddock's repertoire of supernatural tricks is astounding, and leads to some chilling acts of haunting.  Even breakfast at Denny's turns into a nightmare when the ghost takes over a patron's electrolarynx.

The mythology: Hill's depiction of the afterlife of the dead is both evocative and unnerving.  Those floating black squiggles in front of the ghostly eyes of the deceased formed an image that I will never forget.

The protagonists: Jude and Georgia are flawed human beings, for sure, but prove extremely likable.  The rich characterization of this pair--from their individual backstories to their evolving relationship as a couple--results in an utterly engrossing narrative.

The prose: Hill's gifted wordsmithing brings a scene to vivid life in the reader's mind.  An exemplary excerpt:
The ghost came to his feet, and as he rose, his legs moved out of the sunlight and painted themselves back into being, the long black trouser legs, the sharp crease in his pants.  The dead man held his right arm out to the side, the palm turned toward the floor, and something fell from the hand, a flat silver pendant, polished to a mirror brightness, attached to a foot of delicate gold chain.  No, not a pendant but a curved blade of some kind.  It was like a dollhouse version of the pendulum in that story by Edgar Allan Poe.  The gold chain was connected to a ring around one of his fingers, a wedding ring, and the razor was what he had married.  He allowed Jude to look at it for a moment and then twitched his wrist, a child doing a trick with a yo-yo, and the little curved razor leaped into his hand.
I could go on (the zinging dialogue, the plot twists, the humor, the pop cultural allusions...), but would rather that you go and pick up a copy of this brilliant book.  Readers, first-time or returning, might be dread-stricken, but they definitely will be entertained.

Blogger's photo-adding function is on the fritz, so in lieu of a picture of Hill's book cover, here's some audio content courtesy of YouTube:

Monday, February 11, 2013

Dead Lines

Selected dialogic gems from last night's mid-season premiere, "The Suicide King":

The Governor: It's not up to me anymore.  The people have spoken.  [To Merle}  I asked you where your loyalties lie, and you said here.  Well, prove it.  Prove it to us all.  Brother against brother.  Winner goes free.  Fight to the death!

Tyreese: Man, you people have been through the mill.
Hershel: Haven't we all.
Tyreese: It's only getting worse out there.  Dead are everywhere.  It's only making the living, less like the living.

Rick: There's no way Merle's gonna live there without putting everyone at each other's throats.
Daryl: [gesturing toward Michonne]: So you're gonna cut Merle loose and bring the Last Samurai home with us?

Carol: It's easy to forget how loud the world used to be.  [laughs]  I used to complain about it all the time.  Traffic, construction, car alarms, noise pollution.  Oh.  What I wouldn't give for the sweet sound of a jumbo jet.
Carl: It'd be even sweeter if we all were on it.

Andrea: Those people won't last a day.
The Governor:  Those people have had it easy.  Barbecues and picnics, that ends now.

Andrea: You're right, Karen.  You're right.  Every one of us has suffered.  We don't even have funerals anymore because the death never stops.  We're never going to be the same.  Ever.  So what do we do?  We dig deep and we find the strength to carry on.  We work together and we rebuild.  Not just the fences, the gates, the community, but ourselves.  Our hearts and minds.  And years from now, when they write about this plague in the history books, they will write about Woodbury: We persevered.

Beth: I'm pissed at him for leaving.
Carol: Don't be.  Daryl has his code.  This world needs men like that.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Universal Monsters in Our Midst

Universal Monsters Wall Clock Kit

Their visages are timeless, but now they can even mark time.  For a closer look at this crafty clock, click here.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Yes, February is Black History Month, but here at Macabre Republic we are going to celebrate another type of "black" history.  By scanning my bookshelves, and searching the ol' memory banks, I've put together a list of genre characters, stories, and novels that include the word "black" in their names/titles (I'm excluding movies, because a post of that nature was published here a couple of years back).

Can you think of any others that I missed?  Feel free to amend the list by leaving a Comment below.

Fete to black:

"The Black Cat" by Edgar Allan Poe
The Man in Black--Stephen King's Dark Tower series
"The Man in the Black Suit" by Stephen King
Black House by Stephen King and Peter Straub
"The Black Gondolier" by Fritz Leiber
"Black Country" by Charles Beaumont
The Black Train by Edward Lee
"Black Ferris" by Ray Bradbury
The Black Carousel by Charles L. Grant
Black Wings of Cthulhu: Tales of Lovecraftian Horror
Shub-Niggurath, the Black Goat with a Thousand Young
Blackwood Farm (The Vampire Chronicles, No. 8) by Anne Rice
Black River Falls by Ed Gorman
"Procession of the Black Sloth" and "Blackwood's Baby" by Laird Barron
Black Leather Required by David J. Schow
Black Evening: Tales of Dark Suspense by David Morrell
Black & Orange by Benjamin Kane Ethridge
The Black Book of Horror
Black Butterflies by John Shirley
Black Cathedral by L.H. Maynard and M.P.N. Sims
The Black School by J.N. Williamson
"The Black Pumpkin" by Dean R. Koontz
Black Frankenstein--protagonist in Robert R. McCammon's Swan Song
The Blackstone Chronicles by John Saul
The Black Castle by Les Daniels
Revelations In Black by Carl Jacobi
"The Quest for Black Claveringi" by Patricia Highsmith
The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy
"The Minister's Black Veil" by Nathaniel Hawthorne
"Black Leather Kites" by Norman Partridge

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Mob Scene: "Dr. Locrian's Asylum"

In this superbly disturbing weird tale written by Thomas Ligotti, a mob of residents finally acts on a longtime desire, "tearing down the old asylum" that overlooks the town and "razing the burial ground" ominously attached to the ruined hulk.  The townspeople have been haunted for too long by this Gothic eyesore, but their sudden ravaging has some frightful consequences.  Here's a passage from the asylum-storming scene:
By all accounts that old institution was a chamber of horrors [classically Gothic], if not in its entirety then at least in certain isolated corners.  It was not simply that a particular room attracted notice for its atmosphere of desolation: the gray walls pocked like sponges [suggests an icky squishiness], the floor filthied by the years entering freely through broken windows, and the shallow bed withered after supporting so many nights of futile tears and screaming [a place of treatment or torment?].  There was something more.
Perhaps [indecisive language falls in borderland between rumor and report] one of the walls to such a room would have built into it a sliding panel, a long rectangular slot near the ceiling.  And on the other side would be another room, an unfurnished room which seemed never to have been occupied.  But leaning against one wall of this other room, directly below the sliding panel [suspense builds amidst repetition], would be some long wooden sticks; and mounted at the end of these sticks would be horrible little puppets [Ligotti staples].
Another room might be completely bare, yet its walls would be covered with pale fragments of weird funereal scenes [excellent assonance].  By removing some loose floorboards at the center of the room, one would discover several feet of earth piled upon an old, empty coffin [skeletons literally hidden here].  And then there was a very special room, a room I had visited myself, that was located on the uppermost floor of the asylum and contained a great windowless skylight.  Positioned under that opening upon the heavens, and fixed securely in place [cosmic expansiveness juxtaposed with a sense of restriction], stood a long table with huge straps hanging from its sides.
There may have been other rooms of a strange type which memory has forbidden me [narrator admits his own unreliability].  But somehow none of them was singled out for comment during the actual dismantling of the asylum, when most of us were busy heaving the debris of years through the great breaches we had made in the asylum's outer walls, while some distance away [at a seemingly safe remove?] the rest of the town witnessed the wrecking in a cautious state of silence.  Among this group was Mr. Harkness Locrian [a wonderfully Lovecraftian moniker], a thin and large-eyed old gentleman whose silence was not like that of the others.  (142-43)

Work Cited

Ligotti, Thomas.  "Dr. Locrian's Asylum."  The Nightmare Factory. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 1996.  141-49.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

From the Chamber Door to the Championship

Congratulations to the Baltimore Ravens, even though I was rooting against them tonight (as I was twelve years ago when they beat my Giants in the Super Bowl).  But residents of the Macabre Republic will appreciate the fact that the team with the most American Gothic name in all of pro sports has come out on top once again.  Perhaps it's time to rechristen the Vince Lombardi Trophy the Eddie Poe trophy...

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Beelzebub Tweets

BLZ, Bub

[For previous tweets, click here.]

Pandemonium Phil just stuck his head out of his lair and saw his shadow: six more eons of perdition.
--8:49 A.M., February 2nd