Now The Other List

Ok, I did my Halloween favorites, so now it’s time for the Christmas movie list.

HAHAHAHAHA! Did you fall for that? I DON’T WATCH THEM! HAH! GOTCHA!

There are a very few Christmas things I watch. VERY few. Rudolph. Just Rudolph. Not his shiny New Year. And I like the Grinch. The animated one. The Jim Carrey one, not so much, because it’s Jim Carrey being Jim Carrey, except green.

The Year Without A Santa Claus…if you don’t adore the Meiser twins and their musical numbers, you’re dead to me. Those two are the best. I do like most of those Rankin Bass classics.

My favorite, though, hasn’t been shown in years. At a guess, I’d say at least 40 years, but probably more. I remember it would be shown on a Saturday afternoon a week or two before Christmas, and I was still fairly little when it disappeared. I spent many long years looking for it. I knew the title, and in my mind I could see the animation, and when the world of video opened up, I searched desperately.

It was the Snow Queen. Yeah, well, when the world of video opened up, I found about 20 versions of it. And none of them were THAT one. I couldn’t understand why one that had been on every year wasn’t available, but all these others I’d never heard of were.

And lo, a couple years ago, there it was.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Snow_Queen_(1957_film)

From 1957, and Russian, to boot. Of course it was redubbed into English and if you read the Wiki article you’ll see it’s gone through quite a few incarnations, but I did finally get my paws on the one I remembered, with Sandra Dee and Tommy Kirk as Gerda and Kai, and the Art Linkletter intro. The only other thing I’m going to say is that I highly recommend watching it if you ever find it available on streaming. Not only is it a timeless Hans Christian Andersen story, but the animation in this version is exquisite. Let me put it this way…I remembered it for how many years? I could visualize some scenes in my head (Gerda with the crows, and Bucky, and Kai with the shard of ice in his eye) for OVER forty years. To leave that kind of impression, it has to be amazing and unique.

Which reminds me that while you see dozens of Rankin Bass specials, like Jack Frost and the Winter Wizard and the Burgermeister Meister Burger and Rudolph, it seems you no longer see The Little Drummer Boy. If it’s been on, I’ve missed it, but I don’t think it’s been on. Is it because it’s more religious-oriented than the other kiddie fare (which all still have morals to convey)? Or is it the absolutely horrific beginning, where the drummer boy’s parents are killed and his farm burned to the ground? Hey, ’tis the season. It’s like a Disney movie except this time no parent is left standing.

I just get curious when holiday mainstays suddenly disappear. Like the whole Charlie Brown chaos happening now. I don’t really care about Peanuts in particular. I have a little soft spot because my dad adored Snoopy and Woodstock, and we’d watch those specials and that grown man would still giggle over those two. Also, for a good portion of my childhood, he’d get me a new stuffed Snoopy every year.

I miss that. I guess the melancholy of the season is beginning, too.

But Peanuts in and of itself, like Family Circle, has gotten old. Like Billy and Dolly blaming Ida Know or Barfy (who the hell named that dog?!), how many times can Lucy pull the football away. It long ago lost its luster for me other than the fond memory of my dad, and maybe now when I’m feeling blue that hurts more than it helps, because I miss him laughing at the tv.

Oh, all right. Sue me. There is one movie: A Christmas Story. That appeals to my sense of humor. You’ll shoot your eye out, you’ll shoot your eye out! The leg lamp. The kid’s tongue frozen to the pole. The rabbit suit.

One. You got me. Fine.

Maybe I’ll spite everyone and after I put up my tree and lights, I’ll curl up on the couch and watch Pink Floyd The Wall. Merry Christmas, Mother, I have become comfortably numb!

Not quite, but working on getting there. Good night to all!

My Halloween List

So a lot of people blog Halloween movies and reviews, which is a good idea, so I’ll drop a couple here. Just my favorite go-tos or recommendations. I won’t do a full 31 days. Why? Well, I’ve noticed a few channels have their Ghostober, or the 31 Days of Halloween, which is great, except they don’t really run 31 movies. They run the same 8 or 10 movies a hundred times throughout the month.

Lame.

So I bounce around between Family Channel and TMC and HBO and anywhere I can find Halloween favorites, and my top beloved are below.

  1. The Exorcist. You’d think this one would be on everywhere (ok, not Family Channel). I have always loved it, even tho I tend to watch it alone and at 2 am. This year, for a special treat, a friend found a place showing it on the big screen, where I finally got to see the WHOLE thing. So many tiny scenes that get cut out for tv, put them back and suddenly a bunch of weird lines make sense. There’s more of the background story on Merrin and Pazuzu, more quirky little things to make you suspect something’s really wrong with Regan, more of Damian’s torment. (“Why you do this to me, Dami?”). More shots of that frightening white demon face that pops up like a subliminal message to have a stroke. This movie to me is a great study in characters…a horror story with real characterization. I still can’t imagine audiences seeing this in an actual theater back in 1973, with the level of gross, vulgarity, and fright (and the most frightening scene that makes me always look away…the procedure where they ram that monster needle into Regan’s carotid artery…UGH!)
  2. The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I don’t consider this a horror movie, per se, but the ultimate homage to them. My first Halloween home in about 14 years will leave me depressed, so I may have to curl up on the couch with this one running. I was in a shadow cast for many years of my life (not saying who I played, altho I knew every part), but I will say that my oldest, dearest friends were not made in college or high school, but here, in the Cinema 1&2 behind Macy’s, and Cinema 7 on Rt 7, and the Hellman on Washington Ave. If you do watch this for Halloween, watch it with a veteran, because in and of itself the movie is quaint but absurd. Add in the lines, and it’s an experience not to be missed.
  3. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. I haven’t seen this on in a million years, but in high school, this movie scared the bejesus out of me. A couple moves into a mansion, and these tiny little nasties live in the vents and are after the wife. They should be comical, with their walnut shaped heads, but I watched this on a Saturday afternoon, home alone, when I was maybe 14, and seeing the wife in this huge house alone, all dark and broody, and hearing those ghastly little voices calling her name….Sally….Sally….Sally….I was on the phone with a friend who was watching it at the same time, and HE was scared shitless, too. Neither of us would hang up. Apparenly, 1973 was my year for movies.
  4. ‘Salem’s Lot. While so many love The Shining (and so did I, but it was NOT the book I adored, sorry) I feel like this was one of the better Stephen King adaptations, especially for 1979 (so stuck in this decade!). Barlow isn’t sparkly, or a rock’n’roll vampire. He’s an absolute dick. A quick glance may make you think of Nosferatu, but he’s not nearly that comical. He is a vicious, unwavering animal. Also, be warned…there is no happy ending with this one.
  5. Hocus Pocus. Not a horror movie, but a guilty favorite. I know a lot of people want another to be made. I don’t. Making a sequel, like a remake, seems to somehow taint the original, and it never matches expectations. Films like this, and the first Ghostbusters, are born of magical chemistry that can’t be planned.
  6. The Others. Not sure why I like this movie so much, even though its one of those that once you get the twist at the end, you may never watch it again. I do, when it’s on, because I love Nicole Kidman’s character, and the daughter, and the family of servants. There’s a slow build toward the end, and some great scenes on the way to it. Again, I’m a fan of characterization and plot, not so much gore. Maybe that’s why I fondly relate to the old monster movies from Creature Double Feature Saturdays of my youth, and horror movies from the 60s and 70s.
  7. The Omen. What more can I say? It’s The Omen. Donald Sutherland making that ridiculous face, but you’re so creeped out by little Damien’s face that you can let that slide. Oh, look, we’re back in the 70s. Imagine that.
  8. Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. I so so so love Bette Davis in this. And again, it’s excellently done characterization. As horrible as Baby Jane is, both in the beginning as a child and later on as the tormentor of her sister, she is a deeply sympathetic character. There are moments where you can’t help but feel for her. Likewise, Blanche is complex as well. How bitter is she? Who’s really torturing who?

Some others I enjoy: The House on Haunted Hill, Burnt Offerings, Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte, any of the monster movies a la Godzilla, Ghidora, Reptilicus, etc, Sinister, Insidious, The Conjuring, and the old hoaxie-but-goody Amityville Horror (the original, from 1979), Needful Things, Misery, The Secret Garden.

So get out that streaming service. Some of these are harder to find (The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane…another old favorite with Jodi Foster literally a child) so good luck to you, and Happy Halloween!

A Late Update: Dunkin

We’re all quick to complain when service is bad, but not so quick to compliment when it’s good. Makes sense in a way, because good should be the norm, right?

Some of you recall when I lambasted Dunkin Donuts. Every single day, EVERY day, not the occasional mishap. I wanted a bagel with a little butter, and I got a bagel swimming in a literal pool of butter. I don’t care how much you think you like butter. This was absolutely disgusting. The bagel was soaked. The original post, with pictures, is here:

https://azbaelus.com/2018/10/27/done-with-dunkin/

I linked the blog to their Facebook page, and lo, didn’t I get a call from the district manager? Course, I got said call as I landed in Vegas, so I had to wait a week to call him back, but it was a good conversation, about customer service, and expectations, etc. He offered me a $25 gift card, whereupon I asked why would I accept when I really didn’t want to go back, and he assured me I could use it at any Dunkin, or not use it, as I chose, but he still would send it.

He got back to me about 2 months later. He had, in person, gone to the store in question, and retrained them, ALL of the employees, in handling bagels with cream cheese and butter. The manager, who’d ignored my original complaint, was taken to task. In short, a lot was done.

It was a long time before I returned to that Dunkin. Some of it is because I was still mistrustful, and then it was because I didn’t work for a year. Now, I’m working again.

I will say…for the most part, they do good. I want sausage and cheese on an English muffin, they get that right, and it’s good. It’s also too pricey for me to do every day, but hey, the store isn’t setting the prices. That’s my choice. I can get a breakfast sammich at Cumby’s cheaper, but I do have to take the egg off, and its not quite as good for sitting under a heat lamp. They also are much better at bagels. Yes, sometimes they still get carried away with the butter, and once I asked for toasted and got what I would call “effing charcoal”, but those were flukes. On the whole, they have improved vastly, and I enjoy breakfast from them. Pat on the back, guys, especially in these times.

I still don’t go there too much, tho. Besides the prices, the line is ridiculous. They try, and try, but they can’t move a line along for love nor money. If I see more than 2 cars ahead of me, I go up the hill to Cumby. Hey, if I didn’t have to get to work, I wouldn’t care about the line so much, but when I’m on a schedule, gotta do what I gotta do.

Still, I owed it to them to tell the world that my experience has improved, and they’re mostly doing things right.

The other thing against them (snicker) is that damn, Amazon’s brand of toaster pastries has a pomegranate flavor, and those are crazy good, and if they burn, that’s on me.

Onward and upward!

Fall

Notice I didn’t say “Welcome, Fall”.

Sorry, folks, I’m a summer baby and a summer lover, and I need heat like a basking lizard. I like going to sleep to cricket song. I like the darker nights (winter nights seem so much brighter, even without snow on the ground). I like my long-ass days and warm nights.

Fall isn’t all bad. Okay, the pumpkin stuff is all bad; if you have to pick a fall flavor to obsess over, go with maple or apple. But other than that, fall is okay. Football is back. Hockey will begin soon

And usually it’s a good time for Comic Cons, but everything is being canceled or done virtually. That’s sad. I love to hobnob with my fellow wizards, see their art, their new projects. I like to show off mine. I have a ton of new artwork, and a mass selection of jewelry (some on the Etsy page) and new tiles.

Year of the Monkey image 0
Skullies image 0
Black Symphonic image 2

I was contemplating doing another coloring book of monsters from games, but right now book 3 of the Trials series takes precedence. By all means if anything on these pages catches your eye but you want to get it from me, or signed, IM me.

Just don’t IM me on Instagram. Apparently that is the pickup app of choice for divorced or separated or widowed men, and I have to block a couple a week. Kinda thought that was what Tinder was for, but maybe at my age I get my apps mixed up.

Enjoy your fall, pumpkin and all!

Why So Bitter?

You’ll be thrilled to know this isn’t a political post. I seldom do them anyway, and my feelings are that by this point, you know where I stand. Not likely to change anyone’s minds, nor are they likely to change mine, so onward and upward.

No, this is about social media and spreading hate again, but in a different format. I had to get this one off my chest.

Community pages. Great concept, but then filled to brimming with hateful, bitter assholes who have nothing to do but bitch. I’m not going to name my community, by the way. If you know me, you already know it. If you don’t, maybe you’ve had experiences with a Facebook page for your own community, because I hear they have a lot of this in common.

I was on a page for my community years ago. It wasn’t the same one I’m on now. It was more of a historical page. People found old photos of what the city looked like in days gone by. Here’s this intersection circa 1957, or here’s the old such and such building in 1942…you know this stuff. And it’s cool. I loved it. Or old pics of high school classes, trying to find your parents or relatives in the faces of events from decades ago.

But oh, the bitching. Even this page, mostly devoted to sharing neat photos, had more than its fair share of moaners, groaners, and overall crabs. Especially when the best-known church was demolished to make room for the local big supermarket (I may have given my community away with that). Yeah, ok, so a beloved landmark was taken down. I get it. Progress is painful like that, and for a supermarket? Maybe that wasn’t even really progress. But said landmark had a damaged roof that was $4 mil to repair. And like Hoffman’s Playland in another community, it’s loss was griped about by a lot of folks who hadn’t been there in years.

In short, people went on bitching about this incident (among others) well after it was over with. Too much negativity. It outweighed the fun of the old-tyme pics, and I left the page.

This page is more news-oriented, so I joined back up. There’s really good stuff, too. Water main breaks. Any changes to trash pick-up. Projects in the city, like National Grid replacing gas lines. And with Covid, the announcing of food pantries and free meals and other updates. Damn, this is a fine community page, right? This is what I signed up for, and I love it. A couple of businesses periodically showcase themselves, too.

But then. Then there’s the same old, same old.

“Why do the garbagemen throw my trash all over? They’re lazy.” “Everyone at McDonalds is rude.” “Why don’t the police do something about people speeding down the hill into the city?” “I saw 10 kids playing together and none of them had masks, where are their parents?”

Tip of the iceberg. Some of them are absolutely assinine. Someone started in with “why doesn’t the city do something about all the skunks?”. I mean, is that a joke? Skunks are natural creatures, and we’ve uprooted them from their homes, and they eat ticks and other pests…now you want the police, or who the hell knows, the garbagemen maybe, to run around and corral them up and then…ship them to another state? Or the ones who ask if there will be trash pickup on Labor Day. Has there EVER been trash pickup on Labor Day? Not to mention, 4 other people already posted the holiday schedule.

So, here’s some of MY suggested rules regarding community pages.

Don’t be a twat.

If you’re one of those nasty people who do nothing but look out your window and find fault with everyone else in the universe, don’t join. All you miserable shits can go make your own page. If they’re rude to you at McDonalds, or Walgreens, maybe check your own attitude. At worst, in either place, I’ve gotten apathy, but usually, if I’m nice, they’re nice. In all fairness, I can’t speak about going into McDonalds, since I haven’t set foot inside in years, but on the rare occasions I use the drive-through, those people are fine. Yes, people speed down the hill, and go thru stop signs, and yes, I wish the police would step that up, but there’s only so many of them, and it happens everywhere. The person who flew thru the stop sign and nearly T-boned you is most likely NOT reading your rant. The garbagemen do a decent enough job for the hurry they’re in. They hurry because you’ll also bitch if they fall behind and your trash doesn’t get picked up.

Everyone is also up in arms over a new bike path. That, I understand. It’s a project the city spent money on that probably wasn’t necessary considering the bike traffic we get, and the danger of narrowing a road. HOWEVER….if you all have THAT much to say about it, start a new page or group. It’s built, the money spent, making a new post every other day won’t undo any of it.

My point? Community. Get out, know yours. You have legit gripes, then say them constructively. Stop sitting behind curtains, finding fault every time you peek out. In fact, stop peeking out. If you aren’t involved, you don’t know what’s going on. Get to know people. Make an effort.

Stop spreading anger and hate when there’s already so much of it around.

Welcome, July…Maybe.

I don’t know, what will July bring? Fireworks? Too late, they’ve been blasting around several neighborhoods for weeks. The murder hornets couldn’t take it here and bailed already. Africa beat us to the locust game. Sahara sand is passing through, but overrated. Maybe August will bring a meteor. Right about now, humanity deserves it.

It sure as hell isn’t bringing a vaccine or cure, but keep bellyaching about masks. I’m not going to lie, it makes me uncomfortable after about 10 minutes, but knowing I could pass a deadly virus to someone trying to live makes me a lot MORE uncomfortable. I spent the good portion of my life dealing with PMS. 30-40 minutes of a stifling mask ain’t gonna break me.

Anyway, not my topic tonight. The anti-mask, all lives matter, anti-vaxholes are probably not the ones reading my blog (and if they were, HAH, bet they’ve stopped right about now). I wanted to spread some good news.

For me, at least. Employment has been good so far, and I’m feeling mostly better about life in general. Even anti-social ol’ me is enjoying some limited human contact. Spirit’s less than pleased that Mommy isn’t home all day, but until he gets a job, someone has to pay the rent and buy cat food.

I’ve returned to making jewelry. I put some on my Square site and some on Etsy. Any support you could give on that or Amazon is appreciated, since having Cons canceled or postponed for several months has hurt a bit. I still do commissions, and if you see anything on the Trials page, you can IM there for prices and availability. Jewelry, magnets, prints, books…it’s all for sale. If you’re local to Albany, you can even have it signed and maybe get it a lot faster by going thru me personally.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/BozPrints

Work has slowed on book 3 again, although it’s finally plotted out in my head, and has a title. I get home a bit later, and I’m tired (but I’m sleeping better, so there’s a bonus), but still trying to get some done over weekends.

Black Symphonic image 0

Now, back to grandstanding. But it’ll be brief.

Enough with the goddamn “If you can blah blah, repost. I bet you can’t.”

I honestly don’t give a bag of duck shit if I can or can’t. Let me address the most common ones here (the “did you work during lockdown” I’ve already addressed). I have never watched Tiger King, don’t want to, don’t care. Yes, I’m old enough to know what that is. Yeah, that one they still make. No, I won’t repost. No, I won’t describe how I met you in one word. In fact, I won’t do it in thirty words. I won’t copy/paste, type “amen”, or give out a lot of personal information.

Rosie image 0

I mean, shit, I got enough divorced horny twatmongers trying to message me on Instagram. I’m about my art, sharing a love of nature and beauty, and peace, and making beautiful things for the soul, and music. If I were looking for a soulmate, ok, honestly, I doubt I would try anything online, but I’d at least go thru a site meant for that purpose. Instagram and LinkedIn? ARE YOU KIDDING?

He may be a great person, but I’m an introvert, and don’t handle strangers particularly well, and interaction with strangers is downright painful for me (and yet I’m eternally lonely, yes, I get the irony of that, but it’s one of the intricacies of anxiety and depression where your brain is constantly arguing with itself). Seriously, you want art, email me, or use the Trials of a Demon Prince Facebook page, and if you’re interested in what I do, not even to buy, but to discuss methods or materials or inspirations, or you’re an artist, we can talk.

There we go, some good news, and a mini-rant. Gosh, that was like…multi-tasking?!! WOW.

Brown beaders image 0

Tomorrow, we’ll try to address coloring the hair, and laundry. And taking out some garbage. Holy mother of crap, I’m tired again.

Enjoy your Fourth! (At a distance…bang bang!)

A Newish Not-Rant

I decided I really shouldn’t call them rants. I get angry, but it’s still low-key. I usually still appear calm. Ok, not always, but usually. Things have to build for a while before I do the splutter-red-faced-curseapalooza thing. But I do have to speak up when things set me off. Today, a meme set me off.

“I worked through the whole lockdown. Can you say the same? Repost if you can!”

Well, fuck you, Martha.

First off, if you know me, I don’t play the “repost”, “type amen and share”, “copy and paste on your wall” games. It’s like chain letters. If that’s your thing, enjoy. But don’t be upset if I don’t participate, because it’s not mine. Second…I’m not sure what this is even trying to say, but no matter how I interpret it, I don’t like it. No, I didn’t. I can’t. Should I be ashamed? I didn’t work because I was already unemployed, and with lockdown, the places I applied to changed over to work from home, and put hiring on freeze. They couldn’t train new folks outside the office environment. Some of them had to let people go, not take on more. So…should I be ashamed that I wasn’t working? I also wasn’t living on unemployment for most of it. I had a severance, that adequately provided for me, but I was terrified.

What was I going to do once the severance ran out, as it was soon to do? What if the lockdown lasted weeks or months before my only income stopped? So, during the whole lockdown, I cycled daily through anxiety and depression. I laid awake at night, trying to envision a future and where on earth I could get money from. I was petrified of my sugar being high, or somehow hurting myself, or doing anything that would require a doctor or dentist. Having no family, and living alone, I was more strung out by the lack of human contact. Who could I talk to without sounding like I was complaining, or whining?

I wanted to work. So, what’s your point?

You worked, goodie for you. And I’m grateful for the essential folks. A lot of you didn’t have a choice in the matter, because if you left your job, you’d be in my boat, or maybe worse, if you had others to support. I still respect that you stuck with it. I don’t know if I could have, especially with other people getting in my face for stupid, self-entitled reasons.

But don’t belittle me. Or anyone else. While this rant isn’t about racism, there’s a common core to it: stop judging others by your experience. I’ve never had a run in with a bad cop (some scary ones, absolutely….there was one in New Lebanon that reminded me of Desperation from Stephen King) but that absolutely doesn’t mean they aren’t out there. I’ve never used food stamps, but I don’t know why the woman in front of me is using them, or how she got them, or why or if she needs them. I don’t know her situation. I was bullied a little in grade school, but never because of skin color, and never to the point where I feared for my life.

I haven’t lived it, I can’t judge others for it. Do unto others…seems many “Christians” have forgotten that one. Or, in my rede, “an’ it harm none, do as ye will.”

AN’ IT HARM NONE.

So, yeah, I didn’t work during lockdown. You did. By your own admission later in the thread, you were venting, but you annoyed others besides me with a “better-than-thou” attitude. Venting is understandable, but FFS think before you post instead of using that stupid meme.

Oh, and likewise, yes, I hate cancer, who the hell doesn’t? But I’m not going to cut and paste and say “amen” to show I hate cancer. Maybe I’ll donate to the American Cancer Society and do something useful instead of being a twat on social media.

Wow, More Shiny Things!

As you may or may not know, I’ve had an Etsy site for a while, even sold a few things off it, but not a lot. The intent was mainly to keep an online presence during the winter when Cons wound down.

Now, an online presence is a must. But Etsy does charge for a listing, so I’m not sure how much longer I’ll hang onto that site. It’s nice to have, for sure.

All along, I’ve also used Square, and I had a site there, but I didn’t publicize it much. Square is now streamlining and their sites have been updated, and therefore I took some of this ENORMOUS downtime to start revamping and making more use of it. Visit now, to discover jewelry, new artwork, or old artwork I haven’t put out, or things that simply got buried at Cons because I can only put so much out on an 8′ table. Tiles got damaged in my car, and were’t initially waterproofed, so they have ALL been redone (and only a few are on the site, I will update as they sell, but I like to keep those in reserve for live shows).

Likewise, jewelry and magnets got bashed around in transit, and I am revamping, repairing, retooling…and creating a system where I can find anything ordered quickly. (I had one incident where an item was sold at a Con, and not marked off, and then ordered on Etsy a week later…at least it was a print, but not gonna let that happen again!)

So please, check out the site, and keep checking back, because over the course of the weekend, I’m going to keep adding to it. The only things not found there are the books. Those go through Amazon, or me (and I’m out of all coloring books, but do have limited supplies of Break, Scales, and Oz on hand for signing). And as always, if you see a piece on Facebook, on my page or the Trials page, that you want but isn’t listed in either shop, IM me.

https://carol-bosselman.square.site/

Ooooh Those Experts!

Before you get your panties in a twist, this isn’t really a political post. Those are very rare to come from me, mainly because politics polarizes us like nothing else, and leaves a horrific taste in my mouth. I see way too much of it on social media, and choose not to contribute to the chaos.

No, I’m pointing out…EXPERTISE!

It started with sports, but you had to work for it. The devoted fan learned every stat there was to know, and sucked up numbers like there was no tomorrow.  They may not know how much to tip on a restaurant check, but damn, they can tell you any player’s RBIs, or the score differential in every Super Bowl back to 1971, or how many managers have touched the Stanley Cup.

Then along comes both reality TV and the internet, and now, we’re all masters. Pick a topic, and its fanatical master is somewhere among your friends. A few hours of Paranormal Telly…oops, I mean Travel Channel…and now ALL of us can decipher those pesky EVPs. Yes, I listened a few times, it’s a male voice, saying “help me please”. Or is it “too much cheese”? Or is it a ghostly dog complaining of fleas? You can actually get EMF detectors on Amazon (handy for finding electrical issues in the home, too).

A little Jackson Galaxy and we’re all cat experts. Well, ok, maybe Jackson’s not to blame for that. But I’m in a black cat group on Facebook, mainly to look at pictures of my favorite kinds of kitties, and…yeah, stick to looking at pictures, because stopping to read most of the posts is an exercise in hair-pulling. Any given post starts with the simplest question, and quickly devolves into the “go to the vet why are you asking the internet” vs “I have 36 cats and I am telling you the problem is he needs a friend, get another cat”. The squirt bottle is bad. The squirt bottle is good. Use double-back tape to make your cat stop scratching. No, you ass, if you love your cat, you’ll let him scratch whatever he wants. Don’t let your cat out. Yes, let him out, into the condo you’ve built.

Yeah, the things we do for furry love.

Then Food Network. Hey, I can’t knock it. I’ve learned a lot from there, and I use it. But for the love of Pete, suddenly everyone and their brother are food critics, and every sentence is either “this protein is cooked perfectly”, or “needs more acid”. Fine. Ten points if you can explain why it needs more acid, and what exactly is acid. Hydrochloric? Sure, some is legit, but some is also opinion. A professional chef judge can tear a dish apart because the protein is undercooked, but myself, and a few other people I know, will eat rare steak, even blue, in a heartbeat. I like pasta al dente, to others, it may underdone. Yes, I salt the water, and no, I don’t break it. Oh, wait….I’m Italian, so I didn’t need Scott Conant to tell me any of that. Also, watching Gordon Ramsey spew f-bombs all the livelong day, and Robert Irvine spit out food while looking like a dyspeptic turtle do nothing to increase my food knowledge.

The internet does the same thing. It’s good that so much knowledge is at our fingertips. It’s also bad that so much knowledge is at our fingertips. Not everything on the intrawebz is true, kids. You have to work at it. Investigate. Sometimes as careful as you may be, you may read too much on a topic, and (it happens to me too, I’m not being accusatory) little bits of article A stick with you, and a paragraph from article B, but then there’s one factoid from article C that really caught your eye. You go to post, or comment, and suddenly, you aren’t accurate, either, because your brain has jumbled all those bits together. It’s like the old game of passing along a story, and seeing how it changes after it’s gone thru fifteen or twenty people.

Now we’re all experts on viruses, and the flu, and what masks do. But I’m not pursuing that any further, because over the past few days, some of what I’ve read has aggravated me to no end. I’m just pointing up that exposure to info does not make us experts. If we’re lucky, it does educate us, but we still have to sort truth from semi-truth from fiction from propaganda from flat-out lies. Spit out the undercooked protein (IT’S RAW, YOU DONKEY!). Debunk, debunk, debunk (not an orb, it’s a moth, it has fuzzy antenna). Save the sports stats for trivia night (I have a hatred for numbers in general, but percentages give me aneurysms).

If you want to be an expert, put the work into it, and look beyond the internet and cable channels.

 

An Excerpt

As most of you know, being out of work, I’ve tried to ramp up efforts on the third book, and even though video games, depression, anxiety, and a dozen other things keep interfering, I’ve gotten a lot done, and have the rest of it mapped out in my head. So, to tempt you (and possibly get you to read the first two books, if you haven’t), here is part of a scene from the third, aka Sorrow’s Aid:

 

Even this four, standing apart from the others, make a stunning palette.

            Lucifer, golden Lucifer, with eyes of garnet. Satanas is boldly crimson, with black-tipped pinions making up his great wings, his eyes deepest jet. Pazzuzu, the only female of them, is the rich, velvety blue of twilight while her eyes sparkle the yellow-green of peridot.

            And he, he is unblemished, purest white from head to toe, with turquoise for his eyes.

            Before the Creator they stand, the host gathered behind them in curiosity and just a little unease.

            The Creator does not wear the form He has shown to a few mortals. This is not Random, the befuddled man that Frank Rhoades, and a few others, have met.  Today, in the midst of His beloved companions (never servants, they are far more to Him), He is the blazing column of iridescent energy. He is the raw power of Creation.

            He is the Balance. And He loves this host, and the four, as deeply as they love Him.

            But now the four have hurt Him. Four have brought dissension to the host.  Four bring jealousy, and ambition. These four would leave His side, and their brethren, to become gods. To rule Worlds.

            He is the fourth. As events unfold, he shifts uneasily. This is a feeling he’s never known. Never has he gone against the Creator’s will. A disagreeable thought has never before entered his head.

            Then along came Lucifer, and Satanas, and Pazzuzu.

            Pazzuzu is reluctant, also, he senses. But Lucifer has ever been a persuasive one, with glib tongue and words of honey. Satanas has always been too clever, and he chose to follow this course as soon as it was offered. Between those two, who else could resist? It must be so.

            “We have ever been true, unfailingly faithful,” Lucifer insists. “Is’t so much we ask? Wherefore wouldst Thou hold us back?”

            “Even as gods we would serve Thee,” Satanas is quick to add. “’Tis an insult to Create new beings to raise above us.”

            “If Thou makest these gods, I shall not bow to them,” Pazzuzu vows.

            He says nothing, but shuffles his feet again, mantling his wings to resemble a downy white cloak. Over and over has he heard these arguments, for they were rehearsed and debated. They sounded so reasonable. Now, bathed in the Creator’s all-encompassing glow, the words sound feeble. They are petulant children, pleading to a benevolent parent.

            Nor does his silence go unnoticed by the Creator. Although He is only light and energy, and wears no face in His true form, this one knows he is now the object of scrutiny.  Beneath the cloak of his wings, he shudders, cringes ever so slightly.

            **And thou, Singer? Where is thy chord in this disharmony? Dost thou stand with them?**

            He knows shame, now he knows doubt. Indecision. He hesitates.

            Aye, he thought he would be a god, but still? Upon reflection, was it worth leaving the Master’s side? Worth leaving the host? Would he still be part of the song?

            What would happen if the Master denied them outright?

            “I do.” His trembling voice was barely a whisper. “’Tis wrong to spurn us so.”

            **Spurn thee?** There is no recrimination in His voice, nothing but love, and that makes his heart hurt that much more. **Mine grief is great that thou seest not the truth. I adore thee, and would keep thee by My side. Always.**

            “Yet neither wilt Thou entrust Your Creations to our care?” Satanas, always the stubborn one.

            The Creator’s focused remained on the silent one. **Ne’er did I claim I would place the gods above thee.**

            “But must we answer to them?” demanded Lucifer. “Where must we fall in the new order? Not equals, not servants, but what in relation to Your gods? If we are not to be keepers of Your Worlds, set us free.”

            **Dost thou think thou art not?** There is genuine shock this time.

            Meanwhile, the song has subtly changed, slipping into a minor key. Not a reflection of joy and unity, but a dirge. Sorrow, unknown here, starts to take over the host.

            It should serve as a warning, but ever headstrong Satanas presses on. “We are bound to Thee, Thou knowest this. To allow us to become caretakers wouldst take us out from under Thine eyne!”

            The accusation chills him  They have gone too far, surely  He should speak up. He should deny them, and rejoin the host, before he has nothing left but regret.

            But he cannot move. Still he stands with the four. He has made his choice, and it would be weakness to stand down now, no matter how badly he may want to.

            **Yet for the love of thee, I shall grant thy wish.** The Creator has made His decision. **I know thou wilt come to to repent thine haste  Still, for thy pride and thy greed, for the discord thou hast brought, thou shalt be gods aright.**

            Lucifer actually laughs  Pazzuza also makes a noise, but it sounds more like dismay.

            The Creator continues as if He hasn’t heard. **Thou shalt be the dark gods, lords over abominations and horrors. Mortals shall shun and fear thee, and quake at thy names  Thy dominion shalt be over the lowest of creatures, the hate-filled misshapen who creep within shadows  Those of bloody minds and murderous hearts, they shall grovel at thine altars.**

            He trembles violently. He had not anticipated this terrible outcome, not at all. He can never take the words back, and so he is subject to this swift, merciless judgement.

            **Each of thee has a spark of Creation within. Henceforth that spark shall be Destruction. Thy magic canst only work ill, and so let outward appearances reflect thine twisted, o’erweening desires within. BE GONE!**

            Suddenly, he is falling. His wings will not respond; he tumbles helplessly.  The last thing he hears is the Creator’s voice, rife with sorrow, inside his head.

            **Thou hast chosen rashly, Singer. I forgive thee  Traitor thou seemed, but ne’er in thine heart. Thou shalt not change, and in thy purity, remember the love I bear thee. Thou shalt eternally serve as reminder to the others of what they have lost.**

            And then he feels his bond with the host, and the Creator, break, as he plummets through darkness.

 

“Lucifer! Thou hast ruined us!”

The scream tore Frank’s throat raw as he jolted upright; liquid sprayed from his mouth to spill down the front of his shirt. “Holy…what the…who?”

That last was directed at a man who’d been kneeling over him, trying to pour something into him as he’d broken from the dream. Now the man had tumbled back onto his backside, the bottle on the ground.

“What did you say?” the man demanded.

A fit of coughing grabbed Frank before he could answer; sparks exploded in his vision and he fell back again. His head was pounding, he was vaguely nauseous, and there was a metallic taste in his mouth that didn’t help matters.

What the hell was that crap he was trying to make me drink?

            When the coughing stopped and he could catch his breath, the man repeated his question. “What did you say?” He gripped the front of Frank’s shirt, knuckles white.

“I…I don’t know.” He didn’t. He knew he’d shouted something, but now, for his life, he had no idea what. And the nausea grew so strong that he feared he would vomit if he said much more. “Gonna…puke.”

He tried to bat the stranger’s hand away so that he could roll over, but the man kept him pinned tight.

“Fight it. The antidote won’t help if you sick it up, and I don’t have the supplies to make more.”

Frank nodded, although his brain twitched at the mention of an antidote. He closed his eyes and concentrated on his breathing: in through the nose, out through the mouth, a meditative technique to take his mind off his twisted stomach muscles as well as slow his heart rate.

As the diaphragmatic breathing began to take effect, he studied the man beside him. He was pale, although not in a sickly way; it was just a very fair complexion. His face was narrow, with sharp angles and a slight hook to his nose.  Thick black hair swept back from his face, with white and grey wings at the temples, while an equally thick mustache obscured his upper lip. Intensely green eyes stared out from under heavy brows.

He was handsome in a refined way, as if born to the upper class.

Except that doesn’t happen anymore. There aren’t royal family lines that interbreed and create stunning lunatics these days. You can be born into a rich family but it doesn’t really give you a distinct look.

Although…the lunatic thing…he does look like he might be…less than stable?

            Antidote? Antidote for what? Snakebite?

            That got his heart pounding again. He managed to prop himself onto his elbows.

A cemetery. It wasn’t quite dark yet, but close enough that the gates were probably closed. How had they not gotten thrown out?

Why were they in a cemetery?

Why did this man look vaguely familiar?