Say Caw!

I have a new obsession: crows. Currently it involves taking pictures of crows—or trying to, at least. Crows are sneaky bastards who like strut their stuff right up until you get them in focus and then—poof! They fly away. Oh, they’ll let you snap some pix from half a mile away, but get too close and they’re gone with the wind. The above still represent my best effort to date. Sigh.

And they know what I’m up to, I’m sure of it. Since I began this venture they’ve been following me, usually when I don’t have the camera. Sure, I’ve got my mobile, but by the time it’s out of my pocket and the camera app is open and the crow is in the frame and focused . . . well, actually I’ve never gotten that far. I can hear them laughing at me even now.

Caw! Caw! (That’s crow for “Ha! Ha! You stupid flightless monkey!”)

But I’ll get them. Eventually, they’ll slip up and I’ll capture their likeness and put it on my wall. Until then I’ll periodically post my best efforts for your amusement.* Please don’t judge my photographic talents solely based on a few sneaky birds.

*If you’d like to support my obsession feel free to pre-order a copy of Portlandtown. All proceeds go toward the purchase of a telephoto lens.

Zombie Cowboys...and Primus!

Hey look everybody it's a new music video from Primus . . . featuring Zombie Lee Van Cleef! Gosh, that's cool. For those not familiar with Primus, well, get familiar. They're awesome. Go look for "Tommy the Cat" or "Jerry was a Race Car Driver" or just buy Sailing the Seas of Cheese. Good stuff. As for Lee Van Cleef . . . what do you mean you don't know who LVC is? Grrrr . . . all right, all right. Start with For a Few Dollars More and go from there. Sheesh, do I look like your pop culture history teacher? (Really? Oh . . . okay. Job accepted!)

Get Out Your Mask

We’re coming up on June which means we’re closer to next Halloween than last. Too early to start thinking about costumes? Think again! Zombie? Cowboy? Zombie cowboy?* I’ve always wanted to cut two holes in a white sheet and rock an old school ghost. Cheap and a good way to keep folks guessing as to your identity. I’ve also tried on several occasions to talk the wife into getting matching Mexican style Day of the Dead face-paint. She never goes for it. Sexy skull! What’s not to like?

Speaking of things that are better off dead, do we really have to suffer six months of election coverage? What did we do to deserve 24/7 coverage of such nonsense? Was it Global Warming? It was, wasn’t it? Leave the fridge open a few times...

We all know who we’re going to vote for, right? Those claiming to be undecided are just looking for attention (or maybe a casting call). Romney’s veep nom certainly isn’t going to be running for office, but rather applying for a job at Fox News. Can’t say I’d want either job.

Which is why I write. On the page I can juxtapose Halloween costumes and politics and almost make it look like I did it on purpose. Almost.

*Boys and girls that’s called product-placement, as in, yes, I did write a supernatural western adventure with undead outlaws and such. My publisher loves me.

My Television Vision

I used to be the kind of person who loved movies and watched television. Now I love TV and wish movies were better. I’m pretty sure I flip-flopped somewhere between The Matrix and The Matrix Ruined. Or maybe the first time I watched Deadwood. Could have been Arrested Development.

There are movies I still love, although most are stamped with the Pixar logo. When it comes to live action it's usually some crazy documentary about street art or typesetting that tickles me most. 

It’s the writing I think, both good and bad. Long form cable series like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and Justified tell big stories over the course of a full season in detail that few movies can match. Watch a season of Sons of Anarchy and then find me a similar movie that's better. 

If you're looking for spectacle the theater is still the place to be, although rarely do story and special effects merit the same attention. There’s a lot of crap between The Dark Knight and The Avengers

Television does require more of an investment. I do occasionally feel guilty watching another episode of True Blood when I could be reading (okay, not that guilty). And I do have to admit to looking forward to the end of a season, even for a show I love. Time away makes the heart grow fonder and so forth. 

However...when the network suits make the asinine decision to fire the very hands on creator of a series, like, oh let’s say Community...well, that makes me hate TV just a little bit. 

Classy move NBC. Now you know why you’re a fourth place network. I'm going to the movies.

The Saltwater Phoenix

On the Trail of the World’s Most Sought After Seafood

One hundred and eleven years ago, Maine lobsters were introduced to the Pacific Northwest in an attempt to create a new fishery. The lobsters didn’t take, but a few years later a lobster-Dungeness crab hybrid species appeared in the waters around the San Juan Islands. Remarkably, the crustacean was made up of the best parts (culinarily speaking) of both species—the crab’s extensive body and leg meat and the lobster’s tail and claw meat. In a word: delicious. Dungeness lobsters filled the fishermen’s traps for seven seasons and then suddenly disappeared.

Thirty-one years later, the hybrids miraculously reappeared and quickly became the most popular item on menus in Seattle’s best restaurants. A local festival was kicked off to celebrate the catch, the first of which was attended by just under a thousand visitors. Unfortunately, the crustaceans disappeared again after only six seasons. Speculation was that there was some weird migration going on, hibernation, or maybe the species was actually the result of a recessive gene in the local Dungeness crab population that only surfaced every thirty years or so. A substantial testing program was proposed but never implemented due to the onset of World War II.

Zombie Apparel

I finally went and did it. I put together a little online shop to sell t-shirts, hoodies, stickers, and eventually more. Goofy stuff, but I like it. There are two series of designs up now: 1) the Deadball designs which are based on a little know baseball team that played in Portland back in the late 1800s, and 2) the Portland Zombies Track Club which urges you to get out and run...for your life.

Don't feel obliged to buy anything. It's not like I have to pay down a mortgage or anything.

It's Always Hoodie Weather in Portland

Summer has come early to Portland this year. I know this because it’s already hoodie weather in my office. (Hang on, this will make sense.) When the temperature outside starts to rise the heat inside goes off, thus the house gets colder. This is especially true in my office particularly in the morning. By late afternoon it might be tolerable, but before lunch I need the layers. Don’t believe me? Come by in July when the AC kicks in. Bring a parka.

But I like it. As much as I don’t like the fluctuating wardrobe I love the sun or more precisely the light. The long days just seem to make me more productive. Portland really is the best of both worlds as the daylight hangs around until almost ten and most years we don’t experience much sweltering. A week or two worth of 90s, tops. There was that weird year where it was 100 degrees for a week, but that’s not the norm. And it’s not humid. It rains, yes, but not when it’s hot. Suck on that Atlanta.

The upshot is that I write more . . . or I could. I could also spend more time in the garden, behind the grill, or at the dog park. Not a complaint, just an explanation for my sporadic blog posts. Now excuse me while I find a pair of mittens.

Saturday is for Stomping!

When I was in grade school one of my favorite pastimes was plopping down in front of the television on Saturday afternoons to watch Matinee Monster Mayhem—three hours of rubber-skinned Tokyo stompers, polystyrene insectoids, and tin foil aliens zapping army surplus generals. If you were lucky a giant extraterrestrial cockroach might kick Los Angeles into the sea. The fact that you could see the zipper running down the big bug’s abdomen just made it that much more monstrous.

This would have been the 70s & 80s, but the movies were mostly cinematic sci-fi from the nuke fearin’ 50s & 60s. Think mutated men, monster bugs, and giant floating radiated eyeballs—classics of Western Civilization. And they all shot lasers. From their eyes. There was the odd stinker now and then, maybe a Godzilla beating up some overgrown caveman, but even that was better than mowing the lawn.

How Did I Get Here?

Or, more precisely, how did I become a writer of scary stories? Good question. I always wanted to tell stories. I wasn't always a writer, but I definitely spent a lot of time making things up. I was an artist first, and then a designer. I studied graphic design in college (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo) and loved it. Not surprisingly my senior project involved a series of illustrations for a book . . . that I also wrote. I'm pretty sure it was awful (the writing not the art). It was the story of what happens to Death after everyone on Earth dies. If memory serves he ended up walking around the world until he stumbled upon a small house in the desert. There he found a change of clothes, a couch, and a television that played nonstop eighties sitcoms or some such nonsense. Like I said, awful.

A few years later I started writing screenplays. In 1995 I actually wrote a good script. How do I know it was good? When I read it I got lost in the story. This was also about the time I decided to get an agent and make my millions in Hollywood. SPOILER ALERT: I did not make millions in Hollywood. I did write a bunch of scripts, none of which were made into movies. How close did I come? I sold a paragraph to Paramount Television that they used as the basis for an episode* of Star Trek: Voyager. Millions, no. Paid writer, yes.