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A Spiritual Awakening

I’m not sure I can really write this properly – it’s all in my head, the thoughts and ideas coming fast and spinning wildly – but I have an understanding that I never really had before, concepts of divinity and spirituality and religion that I never really considered before yesterday.  I’ll try to start at the beginning, if there is a beginning for a thing like this.

I’ve been very upset and dismayed lately related to the attacks in France and Beirut and so many people’s reactions of fear and ignorance and hatred.  Seeing elected officials, even candidates for president saying they want to stop refugees from coming to america, or only letting the Christian refugees in, or registering and monitoring the Muslims…  It’s all driven not only by fear, but by ‘religion’; this group thinks God wants them to kill that group; this other group must discriminate against those guys because an old book ‘maybe’ tells them to by one interpretation; this group says that this plot of land was given to them by God and so they must kill everyone who believes otherwise, and somehow all these groups have complex reasons why all these religious texts that say ‘love one another’ don’t apply to EVERYONE, just the people that look / behave / believe the same thing they do…   It’s upsetting, and it’s destroying the world.  That was my first big epiphany… religions that, objectively, are supposed to lift people up and help the needy and their communities, help bring people together, have somehow gotten to the point where they are literally destroying the world.  Religion is being used to tear apart countries, destroy communities, ignore planetary destruction like climate change, and so much more.  So that was my first true eye opening epiphany, and it happened while I was driving to the grocery store.

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So Necronomicon Providence 2015 has come and gone, and it was truly amazing – we had such a great time!  The panels were excellent, with some of our favorite authors and content creators giving great talks, and events like live recordings from HPLHS, H P Lovecraft Literary Podcast, and Lovecraft eZine.  The convention was very well run too – I particularly liked the way they set up the vendor room this year, versus setting the vendors up in the hallways like the last event.

Before the convention I had an idea – I had a number of books by authors and editors I really enjoy, like Joe Pulver and Ramsey Campbell, and I thought it might be cool to get them autographed.  It was a big stack of books, though, and there are other content creators like Chad Fifer and Chris Lackey and Leeman Kessler who don’t really have books out, and I wanted to get their signatures as well.  To solve this dilemma I created a big leather bound book full of crisp parchment pages – if you’re at a Lovecraft convention, why not go big, right?  I wound up getting all the signatures I really wanted, and some additional authors who I just met at the convention as well.  The whole thing came out great, all the people I asked to sign seemed genuinely happy to do so, and some even did artwork!  Continue Reading »

As a family, we love TV and home entertainment – LOVE it.  Big screen HDTV, premium cable, XBox, Blu-Ray, NetFlix, we like it all.  We have age appropriate shows we love to watch as a family, like MythBusters, Face-off, My Cat From Hell, Too Cute, etc…  and we have our ‘grownup’ shows like Sleepy Hollow, Lost Girl, Game of Thrones, and Castle that we watch after the 8 year old goes to bed.  

Our cable bill – a Verizon ‘bundle’ containing HD Cable, premium channels (HBO, etc..) 25MB Fios internet, and home phone, was around $200 a month.  We started looking at how much we were spending versus other options and the value is gave us, we came to a the realization that were were paying a LOT for services that we barely used, and that over 90% of what we normally watched was available in a variety of other much less expensive ways.  

The first thing we did was looking at everything we normally watch and then looked for alternate ways of getting that content.  For most of it, that was easy – most of the shows we like are available on HuluPlus or other online streaming sources.  This meant that dropping cable was certainly do-able, with some adjustments.  

We also did some research on pricing – we found out that our 25MB cable was listed as $45 a month in our ‘Bundle’, but Verizon doesn’t even offer 25MB service outside of a bundle, so to drop cable we’d have to change our internet.  There was a 50MB standalone service for $70 a month, which was a little more expensive than we hoped, but still a significant savings month over month.

We looked at setting up alternate services, too.  We’ve had NetFlix streaming for years, which I think is the best entertainment value you can get for $, and we also have Amazon Prime streaming, since we shop a lot with Amazon, and they do have a decent selection of free content as well.  For this experiment, we also subscribed to HuluPlus for another $8 a month, as a way to get most of our normal viewing content.  

For hardware we already had a ChromeCast as well as a Sony Blu-Ray player that also included IP TV services – that’s how we typically watch NetFlix and Amazon Prime.  We also added AppleTV to the mix, for $99, as this has a simpler interface than the BD player, includes PBS (for Sherlock!) and allows us to buy specific season passes for the shows we really want to watch.  We also bought an HD antenna to get local broadcast stations, as we should have a strong signal here, but it seems that either the antenna or the receiver in our TV is defective, as we haven’t been able to get that working.  

Based on the current setup, our savings is a little over $100 moth over month, for about $1200 a year.  We’ll add a few subscriptions through iTunes – we already added the current season of Mythbusters for $20, and we’re planning on adding Game of Thrones when that’s available.  The monetary savings is great, but there’s another bonus we’re seeing as well – instead of just flipping channels until we come across some random, mediocre show, we’re now looking at multiple options and choosing the one that we’re most interested in seeing, adding quality as well as value.  Also, we’re doing something that we rarely did earlier – if we don’t really feel like watching anything, we’re turning off the TV and doing more constructive things (like blog posts).  

The only real challenge so far has been the antenna issue, which isn’t that big a deal.  For anything we can’t stream on Hulu or Apple TV, like SyFy shows, I can plug my laptop into the home theater HDMI ad watch shows that way.  It’s an interesting experiment, and I’m looking forward to seeing what other habits start to change now that we’ve cut to cord.  

 

His First Halloween

As the last rays of sun dipped behind the old brick warehouses and shuttered homes along the tracks, a pair of wet, rheumy eyes peered out from a crack between the grey boards, their red irises seeming to glow in the fading light. A dull, raspy voice slipped through the darkened interior, starting out as a whisper, but excitement and anticipation raising its volume unexpectedly.

“Can we go now? Dad, can we go? It’s dark out, you said we could go when it got dark!”
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Better late than never – I am very happy to announce my newest creative venture – Mysterious Observations in Providence! This is a bit of an experiment in modern information-age storytelling that takes the form of an alternate-reality blog. The main character, Chad Martens, has inherited a mysterious steamer trunk from his recently deceased grandfather, and with that has also inherited a supernatural mystery stretching back more than four generations!

The story is being told in ‘real-time’, with new posts to the blog multiple times per week as the protagonist experiences bizarre and potentially otherworldly events, is tormented by nightmarish dreams, and continues to learn more about this dark family legacy.

Unlike a standard narrative, ‘Mysterious Observations in Providence’ uses a multi-media format to engage the reader fully into the story and the experience. Blog posts will include not only narrative writing, but also unique photographic evidence spanning over 100 years, video evidence, photos and scans of antique documents and letters, specially created props, and even original artwork to add to the realism and the drama.

The setting is modern day Providence and East Providence Rhode Island, and the overall narrative is based on Lovecraftian mythology and the weird tales of H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton smith and others.

The website is http://orderofdagon.org and the first post that starts the whole thing is http://orderofdagon.org/2013/08/18/ so you can start from the beginning.

This is a really fun venture with help from a number of people (see ‘About’ section for current credits) and I’m sure fans of supernatural fiction and horror will enjoy experiencing the tale as it is told…

Blue Star Fallen

This flash fiction piece made the final round in the 2010 Escape Artists national fiction contest.

European astronomers saw it first; a dim, cobalt-blue star with a color and position that made it immediately clear that it was something new and different.

It was little more than a curiosity at first – not many people took notice until it began to steadily grow brighter, soon visible to amateur star gazers, and within a month it was clearly visible to the naked eye on clear nights, a blazing blue beacon shimmering in the evening sky. That’s when the fears began to spread, slowly and quietly in office gossip and coffee shop discussion. ‘What if’ became the question that everyone – and no one – wanted answered. Continue Reading »

The Shoggoths Next Door

Jeremy stared in horror out his second floor bedroom window at the house next door, the red ‘sold’ sign still swinging in the grassy front yard. He saw what looked like a long, black, slime-covered tentacle or some other alien appendage slip out of sight into the side door, then saw the door shut with a quick snap.
“Mom, I think our new neighbors might be monsters!” he called down the hallway. His mother poked her head out of the bathroom, yellow cleaning gloves on her hands.
“Jeremy that’s very rude. They’re brand new to the neighborhood and they moved here from someplace very far away. They may be different from us but I’m sure Mr. and Mrs. Lovecraft are very nice people. You really need to be more polite – what would they think of us if they heard that kind of talk?” Continue Reading »