Monday, July 27, 2015

I Have No Legs, And I Must Run

The novel Once A Runner is perhaps the Godfather of all running fiction. No book I've read has captured the spiritual yet visceral nature of pounding the pavement, especially when seeking a time goal.
 
 I’ve always thought the title to be a double entendre. “Once A Runner," meaning: 
 
1. "Once A Runner always a runner"
or
2. "I was Once A Runner  but no longer am"
 
I guess both fit for me.
 

Before the discs in my back herniated, before the shell that contains the jelly ooze split open and started compressing against the nerve in my spine and left me on the ground, crying in pain, I was unable to run as I had been in the past, but hadn't lost hope. Then a hockey injury, and suddenly, I was praying just to be able to walk without a limp.
 
I am walking now, without a limp, but it takes effort. While I am grateful, I am not fully 'there' yet. Yes, I know, I hear how I should be grateful, but telling someone to be grateful for what they do have, please first try to understand what they lost. This isn't usually the case.
 
There are so many things I miss about running. I miss the sweat where your head pounds and gets fuzzy but you run on anyway, waiting to see what lies deeper. Miss the pain that isn’t injury but your body expanding beyond its limits. Miss coming back home with that renewed refreshed feeling. Miss that hidden spot in my spirit tapped into the way running (and nothing else) can. Miss listening to music in the throes of a run. Miss all the ideas and inspiration for writing that used to come. Miss waving 'Hi' to other runners and lining up with them at the start line of a race. Miss getting out of my neighborhood on foot, miles away, only to return on foot and saying ‘God Damn it, I’m a fucking champion today.'
 
The weather itself doesn't mean as much. Everyday seems like a day with no weather.
 
I get a little testy when others say (in so many words) "see what all that running did to you." When I make note that it wasn't really running that herniated my discs the response is; “yeah, well, running weakened it up."
 
I may be a moron, but I have known my body well enough to guide it through a dozen injuries or more, always bringing it to recovery so that another marathon could follow. 13 of them, including a Boston Marathon Qualifier.
 
So, I get testy and want to say "back off" to those who like to say “see what you did?” but then I realize if they really knew my running insanity, they'd pile it on more, for if you offered me a deal where I could run 1,000 more miles in my life and then be done, I'd probably run them all this year. I'd be back on the start line of a dozen marathons. I would use them up tout suite. As my good friend Franz Kafka said, "follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly"
 
So, I may be to blame, but as of now, I feel like a dormant bear, hibernating in the winter and waiting for a summer that will never come. Never. Sleepng here until death catches me. Is there running in the afterlife? I sure hope so, for it may be the only way I put in a 20 miler again.
 
Despite the insistence by some that I should hang it up, medical professionals have used my previous fitness level as reason to shoot for a high baseline. Not just to manage pain so I go gently into that good night, but with the stated goal of my doctor who said "My goal is to get you back to running again."
 
I started with physical therapy, then went on to injections into my spine meant to alleviate the swelling of the discs that are pressing against my nerves. It has helped. Usually I am given some 'happy juice' anesthesia and wake up with no memory of the injections, but last time I flip-flopped on the table and had a bad reaction. My throat secreted such intense mucus that I had laryngitis for a week, and in fact one day  could not speak at all.
 
For that moment, I felt much like the character in the Harlon Ellision story, I have no mouth, and I must scream. 
 
For now, I feel that I have no legs, and I must run.
 


Friday, July 17, 2015

El Chapo Escapes Prison, Captured and Held as Fodder. (and I know where he is)

El Chapo is a mastermind. A drug cartel superman moving mounds and mounds of crystal meth and other mind-altering Mexican grown products to your backyard, killing people brutally in the perpetual Mexican Drug War. (all to appease U.S drug demand)




For the second time, El Chapo has been captured and imprisoned, only to escape through an intricate, mile-long drug tunnel. 
Actual drug Tunnel Where El Chapo Escaped
Now there is a manhunt for him, but he's nowhere to be found.

Well, I know where he is.

He never made it out of the tunnels. While escaping, he took a wrong turn, and he's being held captive. His escape was thwarted by a bizarre family living just a hundred yards from a running trail near Ocean Beach state park. Now he's being kept company by a bath-salt snorting father, and the loving mother of two feral twin children who are dirty. Underfed. Hungry.

He is still alive, and in fact, being kept alive, but his last words were "please, I beg of you, take me back to prison."

Here is who is taking care of him.



We'll see if he can escape this time. 

Check out On the Lips of Children to learn more about El Chapo's new home. $2.99 on Amazon




(P.S. Dear FBI. Not really. Dear El Chapo. Pardon the trolling)

Monday, July 13, 2015

Disintegration by Richard Thomas.

After seeing the fantastic movie Mad Max: Fury Road, I found myself slightly depressed. It was such an onslaught of the senses, that all other media seemed blunted, stale, and tame in comparison.

One book saved me from the 'post Mad Max' blues, and that is the book Disintegration from Richard Thomas, which was able to match the incredible urgency and pace of the film.

Disintegration is fantastic, original, lyrical, lush, dark and deep. It moves fast and furious, even when the main character is just sitting on his bed and thinking.  I'd love to call just one of the paragraphs in this story my own.  The tone and prose alone makes this piece worth reading, but the character and story keeps you turning pages to the end. I heard going in that the story reads a bit like Sin City, and yes, you can hear the Sin City narrator as you read, but there's something much more earnest here. Reality melts into stream of consciousness and urban fantasy at times. The story's end hit the right note. If you're a fan of True Detective, you'll love this.

Sure the book is dark, violent, and bizarre, but that proves my belief that the greatest of hearts can have the darkest of imaginations. Thomas is high up on the writer food chain, but always open to requests for feedback from bottom feeders like me. Because of him, I discovered Books of the Dead Press, who eventually published On the Lips of ChildrenI reached out to him to edit my next novel, MILK-BLOOD since it needed some help from a mind such as his.

Here's Thomas rubbing elbows with the Gods:
Irvine Welsh, Richard Thomas, Chuck Palahniuk

Don't trust my thoughts on Disintegration, of course, check out blurbs from other writers.

"Sweet Hot Hell, Richard Thomas writes like a man possessed, a man on fire, a guy with a gun to his head. You'll read Disintegration like there's a gun to your's, too. A twisted masterpiece." ~Chuck Wendig

"A dark, existential thriller of unexpected twists, featuring a drowning man determined to pull the rest of the world under with him. A stunning and vital piece of work."  ~Irvine Welsh
Check it out on Amazon Here



Monday, July 6, 2015

Elder Island, Pure Horror, and the Fate of the Michigan Film Industry

I had the incredible opportunity to visit the set of a Horror Movie last week.
On the last night of shooting, I was invited out to Howell, Michigan to hang out on the set of Elder Island

The movie is based on true events and comes with the undeniably delicious tagline of Some Men Are So Evil, Even Death Rejects Them



Many of the actors in Elder Island have Michigan ties including Alora Catherine Smith, Melissa Anschutz, Timothy Quill, Dan Hicks, and Michael Robert Brandon who plays the villainous role of the reverend. Brandon's recent credits include the role of the Demon in the TV Drama “Salem.” 

Darrin James, producer and director of the film and also originally from Michigan, has a long list of credits including working alongside Sid Haig in Brotherhood of Blood. I'd have asked him about Captain Spaulding, but he was busy pacifying the local natives on the set with free T-shirts and an affable smile.

The whole crew was incredibly welcoming, and I got to spend a good 30 minutes talking with actor Danny Hicks from the iconic horror film, The Evil Dead (Also Darkman, Spiderman 2).  He was more than happy to discuss the Evil Dead series (did nothing for 20 years and now look at it) and the more recent Evil Dead remake (which he really loved). We talked about the impact of the film on so many horror movies today, including Cabin in the Woods.  My late brother turned me on to the Evil Dead and loved it before it became cool to do so. I’m sure his ashes were smoking in his urn the moment I shook Danny’s hand. (Hint: If you ever visit a movie set, and want to talk to an actor, do so while they getting their makeup put on).  

I left shortly before midnight, but the hardworking crew was there until the wee hours of the morning, for the night is dark and full of terrors, and you just can’t film horror movies in the light of day. I drove off with a smile and mosquitoe bites. It felt like leaving a family party who were all enjoying what they do, but serious about doing it. 

I can't wait to see the full movie. I did see one death. Not saying who. No spoilers.

 Well, one spoiler, and that is the future of the Michigan film industry. 

The governor of Michigan has been sent a budget that ends incentives for shooting films in Michigan. All over the set of Elder Island were young Michigan talent, some of them only a few years out of a Michigan based film school. They talked about their future and about their fears, and wondered if they will have to leave Michigan to seek their fortune in places like Ohio or Georgia. States who, from my understanding, are making film incentives work. 

Great. Go to school in Michigan, and we’ll farm out our talent elsewhere.

 Numerous studies have shown that the Michigan incentives have not been as fruitful as had been hoped for, but I got to believe numbers can’t tell the whole story. The industry has barely strengthened its roots to grow. 

You’ll never know the impact.

When The Evil Dead was made in Michigan 40 years ago, it did nothing for 20 years (as Danny Hicks pointed out to me).  Now it’s one of the most popular horror movies made with multiple films to its credit. It has its own musical and an upcoming TV
series (Ash Vs The Evil Dead.)  

 Pure Michigan could mean Pure Horror with its mix of natural landscapes and urban settings.  It Follows is an example of pure Michigan made horror. The Bird Box, a horror novel by local writer Josh Malerman and based in Detroit, is being adapted into film by the same people who brought you the movie "MAMA. 

I hope they haven’t lost Detroit for its potential filming location, and I also hope the Michigan film era is not lost entirely. In the meantime, look for Elder Island coming in 2016 and check out the teaser below.



Wednesday, July 1, 2015

MILK-BLOOD is a Semi-Finalist for the Best Kindle Book Awards

Thrilled to announce that MILK-BLOOD has been chosen as a semi-finalist in the Horror/Suspense category of the Best Kindle Book Awards.  The awards honor small press authors over a two year period.  The finalists will be announced on September 1st, and the winner announced on October 1st.

Milk-Blood has 111 reviews on amazon, 53 of them five stars, including a review this week that called it "Gripping" and that the author is "just as disturbed as the people in the story"

It's been a good week.

Last year, my horror novel  On the Lips of Children was also semi-finalist. This puts me in a unique position to be a two time loser. Here's hoping Milk-Blood will still be standing this fall.

Interested in a free copy?  Here are gift codes for free digital downloads.  Copy and paste into the link, and Bamn! digital MILK-BLOOD to your kindle. First come first serve

Gift Claim Codes:
GS3Z7V5B7RLASEA
  GSGZSL879FSJ74K 
GS4KX6XDUBKDJKN
Redeem these gift codes at www.amazon.com/acceptgift

Prefer a copy of On the Lips of Children?
Use Gift Claim Code:-> GSREZNCPZ8ZHBLY
 



GARDEN OF FIENDS: TALES OF ADDICTION HORROR - NOW AVAILABLE

Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror IS ALIVE!! $4.99 for Kindle $12.99 for paperback  (buy the paperback, and you can get t...