Monthly Archives: May 2011
Earlier this year, I saw the play Talk Radio. One of the lines in the play (paraphrasing, I just don’t have that sharp a memory): “There is a difference between a brave man and a coward. Both feel fear. The difference is that a coward runs away. A brave man runs toward it.”
I thought about that today during New Milford’s Memorial Day Parade. My Dad was in the Navy, serving aboard the USS Independence during the Cuban Missile Crisis as part of squadron VF-84’s “ground” crew (see the documentation on this here: http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq90-3.htm#anchor156376). I remember him telling me that the day he saw all of those ships on the horizon he said to himself, “I stood there and thought, ‘I’m going to die today.’ I decided I was okay with that, and then I lit up a cigarette waited for orders.”
The raw courage of those words didn’t really strike me until this morning, when I had the privilege of going up to see Nathan, who is a Mason, march with his lodge—St. Peter’s Masonic Lodge No. 21 of New Milford, CT—in New Milford’s Memorial Day Parade (last year he got to ride his motorcycle as part of the Mason’s Widow’s Sons, but the rain this morning made them bag that this time around). There were all sorts of other brave men who turned out to honor our veterans—firemen, police officers, ambulance crews. Most of them spend their lives running toward danger every day, and I’m sure many of them don’t even think twice.
I hope that no matter what you do today—be it a picnic or a parade or just being with the ones you love—that you’ll take a minute to marvel at the courage of so many people in our world who run toward things, and not away from them.
FOOTAGE FROM TODAY’S PARADE
I’m a sucker for bagpipes, especially in a parade. Earlier, he played my favorite piece–“Amazing Grace.” But since it was my Dad’s favorite, too, I was too lost in the moment to film it.
Nathan marches during the first leg of the parade. He’s the one who does a quick pivot as he rounds the corner.
The rest of the St. Peter’s contingent.
Nathan marches with the Lodge during the second leg of the parade. They had actually taken a wrong turn and were still laughing about it.
Lodi’s tale of overgrown gardens, old maids and creepy statuary is a ghost story classic: it addresses the common theme of sexual frustration in the most elegant and subtle of ways. Take the sibilance, for example. When read aloud, there’s a consistent hiss we associate with serpents—a keen allusion to Eve’s tempting in the Garden. Makes sense: this Massachusetts manor’s garden is a twisted Eden. A stroke of genius. Don’t miss this one.
“The Face on the Garden Wall” can be found in Till Human Voices Wake Us…The Lost Ghost Stories of Edward Lodi, which was published in 2009 in a limited run of 400 copies. It’s a beautiful volume, and should be on every ghost story lover’s shelf. The original price was $27.50, and there are a couple near that in stock through Amazon Marketplace here: http://amzn.com/1934400157
About The Goodbye Project:
There are so many of us who can’t part with objects because of the sentimental attachment we have to them. You know—the graduation tassels, the barfed-on stuffed animal with the missing eye, the coat your late father bought for you because you begged. So what do you do when it’s time to let go of these beloved items because it’s absolutely necessary?
I’d read someplace that one of the best ways to let go of an object is to know that you have a photo. Sure, you can photograph it before you get rid of it. The Goodbye Project takes the idea a step further: go back and find photos of yourself actually with, using, or wearing that object, and blurb a bit about the memories it invokes.
Why? Everything has a story.
And because of that, the object deserves more than just a hasty trip to the Goodwill or the trash without a second thought.
EPISODE 3: JURASSIC PARK
Like most kids, I had a thing for dinosaurs (I will confess here that I really wasn’t much into dolls). A few of my most exciting childhood memories: visiting the Museum of Natural History—I was very young, and it was the first time I saw real fossils. I remember being awed by the T-Rex skeleton’s mammoth proportions. The Geology Class field trip to dig fossils Freshman year in high school. I didn’t find any whole trilobites, but I found a leaf impression or two! A visit to the Peabody Museum—I got lucky and was there when Dolf Seilacher was giving a presentation on his exhibit Fossil Art. I was so fascinated I even got him to sign my copy of the book, in which I’d scribbled tons of notes (if you’d like more information on this, visit here: http://www.uv.es/pe/1999_1/books/fossil.htm)
Then there was the first time I visited Epcot’s Universe of Energy. When the curtains pulled back to reveal a prehistoric swamp teeming with breathing dinosaurs, I was so excited I wept. (Years later, I went on Dinosaur, and that wasn’t nearly as cool—I was too terrified to enjoy it. See it on my face in the above picture?) And let’s not forget the tons of fossil shark teeth I’ve picked up over the years.
And then along came Jurassic Park. And Jurassic Park: The Lost World. (By the way, before I go further: if you are a Jurassic Park fan and want to meet with like minds, I found a great community online at http://www.jplegacy.org.)
Being an ardent fan of Crighton anyway, I read The Lost World and was thrilled with some of the imaginative dinos I was expecting to see in the film (how about those ones that can change their skin color to match their surroundings? I was so petrified I had nightmares). When the movie came out in 1997, it was a big deal for me—and being the movie buff I am, the colorful promotional materials available were too tempting not to purchase—I’d just moved into Charles’ house and had loads of space (we even got our hands on a POP display Borders used for the release of the VHS).
I was moving things around in the basement and unearthed a black box I’d forgotten about. The label on it read, “Jurassic Park.”
I was surprised by the box, but more surprised by what was in it:
My favorite dinosaur-related possession is a coffee mug my Dad bought me at the Museum of Natural History the last time we went together, which was so many years ago now I don’t remember when it was. I definitely will not be parting with that.
But as for the JP collection? Maybe it’ll dig up a few bucks on Ebay.
You never know.
Apex Reviews posted its interview with me as its April 11 edition of Above the Fold.
You can read the full interview—and watch Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole’s book trailer if you haven’t seen it already—by visiting here: http://www.apexreviews.net/Above_The_Fold_-_4_11_11.html
I was really moved by this today–it’s a powerful reminder that life is just too short. After all, when I’m on my death bed, do I want to look back at my life and say, ‘hey, well…I didn’t do what I wanted to, but at least I was safe?’
When you think of it like that, makes you wanna run out and take the risk, doesn’t it?
via DEAN BOWMAN
Brady Allen’s “Dog Farts and Dancer Girls” is a comment on what can break down in a romantic relationship—often, it’s what’s never said.
I love the mood in this piece; I can feel the weight of what’s unspoken in that car in the first scene—even though I’m not quite sure what it is right off the bat, I know that it’s something monumental, something that threatens to split this couple in half. If you’ve got trouble in love, this story might just give you some ideas on what you shouldn’t do.
Check it out at Read Short Fiction here: http://bit.ly/ktuDxc
So what did I do on Cinco de Mayo? I had a great time talking everything from ghosts and Disney Parks to the Norman Mailer Writers Colony and the real reasons behind being a writer with Dawn Short on Uber Radio Network’s P.M. Lites.
The show not only covers the paranormal, but a wide range of other topics. No matter what Dawn’s talking about, P.M. Lites is pure magic! It airs every Thursday from 9 to 10 p.m., and I encourage every listener with eclectic tastes to check it out. For information on the show, click here: http://www.uberradionetwork.com/shows/pmLites.html To listen live, visit http://www.uberradionetwork.com.
The program aired live and Nathan was nice enough to record it, so you can listen right from this blog by clicking the link below:
I was one of ten judges for NYCMidnight’s 5th Annual Short Story Challenge, and I’m pleased to report the winners have been announced.
From the website: The Short Story Challenge 2011 is an international creative writing competition, now in its 5th year, that challenges participants to create original short stories in as little as 24 hours. The event is organized by NYC Midnight Movie Making Madness, an organization dedicated to discovering and promoting a new wave of talented storytellers. NYC Midnight aims to provide the prizes and exposure necessary for writers to take their next big step towards writing professionally. (http://www.nycmidnight.com/Competitions/SSC/About.htm)
There are two rounds, and writers who place in the top 5 of the first one get a shot at writing again for the second. The top four winners receive cash prizes, with 1st place taking home $1500.
The final round’s genre/theme was “Horror—A Prodigy.” And the top three winners are:
First: “The Presentation” by Jeffrey Osgood Alister Primmings knows that serving up a memorable meal is all in the presentation. (To read “The Presentation,” click here: http://www.jeffosgood.com/html/thepresentation.html)
Second: “Immortal in Death” by Ram Sundaram A former taxidermist visits his old student’s store and discovers that his prodigy has surpassed him in the “art” of immortalization.
Third: “For all time, dear friend” by Lauren McMenemy Come, settle in by the fire and I’ll tell you an old family tale. A tale of a boy, and the mother who demanded he play piano to acclaim across the continent…
To see the complete list of winners and information about the Short Story Challenge, visit http://www.nycmidnight.com/Competitions/SSC/Challenge.htm
I heard some really fun news from my friends out in Provincetown recently: the East End Marketplace, the town’s exclusive retailer for my collection Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole—Tales from Haunted Disney World, has only one copy left in stock. So…a new shipment, as well as a poster, has been delivered—just in time for the nice weather!
The East End Marketplace is located at 212 Bradford Street(at the corner ofHowland Street) and is open year-round. It features a grocery and a selection of local wines, and their specialty is homemade food, such as Apple Crisp (to die for), meat loaf, macaroni and cheese and pot pie. Their terrific deli offers breakfast sandwiches, subs, and soups made to order.
In addition, it’s a local hang out. There are tables, and it’s not unusual to see people stopping in just to chat.
If you’re up in Provincetown, be sure to stop in and say hello!