Book Reviews (March, 2014)

  For this month’s reviews, I thought I would focus on the publications of one press rather than those of an era or author. This month’s subje...

The Sub-Genres of HORROR – PART V...

  This is part V in the categorical explanation for THE SUB-GENRES OF HORROR. For an introduction, and PART I of this series, please begin ...

Book Reviews (January, 2014)

  Book Reviews! Each of the following books may be purchased through any large book store or online through www.amazon.com. *** REVIEW...

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Book Reviews (March, 2014)

 

For this month’s reviews, I thought I would focus on the publications of one press rather than those of an era or author. This month’s subject is ERASERHEAD PRESS, the most prolific and energetic voice of contemporary bizarro fiction.

Bizarro fiction is a relatively new genre which is not entirely easy to define. It encompasses elements of satire, absurdism, and the grotesque, along with pop-surrealism and genre fiction staples, in order to create subversive works that are as strange and entertaining as possible.

Bizarro works are truly a mixed bag. Sometimes I’ll read a work and think it was revolting filth and sometimes I’ll read a work and find it to be a beautiful literary and socially relevant gem. Sometimes I’ll think both things simultaneously! What I love most about this genre is that, if nothing else, I will be entertained. The wonder of bizarro is that it doesn’t stoop to worn-out tropes or regurgitated storylines. These authors are hard boiled, willing to experiment, and write ideas that are stimulating, strange and, most importantly, unique.

Eraserhead Press, the premiere publisher of these book, is headquartered in bizarro central, Portland, OR, and championed by CEO, Rose O’Keefe. It also includes a dozen or more smaller imprints set up by associates, such as Deadite Press, Fungasm Press, and Lazy Fascist Press, amongst others.

Erasurehead Press is here: http://www.eraserheadpress.com

My personal favorite author to come out of the bizarro movement is Carlton Mellick III, who writes with the precise craft of any literary voice today, but puts out the strangest titles which are in turns geared toward horror, dark fantasy, alternative history, and science fiction. For EX: Satan Burger, The Haunted Vagina, War Slut and, my top bizarro pick, Zombies and Shit. Carlton is a writing machine, dedicated (mind-blowingly!) to a new book every three months. Generally, overly-prolific authors end up publishing a lot of dreck, but Carlton’s works are crisp, funny, and quite simply a consistently entertaining read.

Carlton Mellick III is here: http://www.carltonmellick.com

Which brings me to my first review:

***

18185144REVIEWED: Quicksand House
WRITTEN BY: Carlton Mellick III
PUBLISHED: June, 2013

Of the six or seven books I’ve read by this author, ‘Quicksand House’ is one of my favorites. It starts off as a mystery, in which two children are essentially locked in their baby room and raised by a nanny through puberty. Machines make their food and the children teleport to school, but they’ve never met their parents which is their dearest wish. The baby room is in the midst of an immense mansion, and scary things crawl in the walls, and myths and fears abound for them, wondering what lies outside the locked door. One day their mechanical life breaks down, and survival forces them to finally leave the baby room, searching through the rest of the house for their parents.

As always, Mellick’s writing is brilliantly imaginative, fast-paced, strange, and satisfying. This book is rather a bit more of an emotional coming-of-age experience rather than action-packed fiction ploy (not to say there’s not plenty of action and thrills included!). But the ending is beautiful and sweet, and swear-to-God, I choked up and a tear ran down my cheek after I closed the final page.

This is really a great book and, with themes such as self-acceptance, fear of abandonment, love, and family values, I think it deserves to find a wider audience than the traditional bizarro crowd. Though the children of Quicksand House encounter wild exploits, the story itself is engaging and relatable and exciting.

Five out of Five stars

http://www.amazon.com/Quicksand-House-Carlton-Mellick-III/dp/1621051005/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1394573022&sr=1-1&keywords=Quicksand+House

***

81buGLlINwLREVIEWED: The Last Goddam Hollywood Movie
WRITTEN BY: John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow
PUBLISHED: August, 2013

‘The Last Goddam Hollywood Movie’ follows a group of Hollywood filmmakers who survive a nuclear apocalypse and then band together to create the first ever post-apocalyptic movie which (just as in real life) promises to accurately portray the events leading to the nation’s disaster, but instead creates a highly fictionalized concept which is at whim of finagling, backbiting, competing resources, and lots and lots of drugs. Peter Kornberg is a writer who gets hustled by his nemesis, Julian Harvey, to direct the film, and the novella-sized book follows the conflict between the two of them during the entire radiation and mutant-filled journey of production. Fast-paced and quick-witted, this would seem more fictionalized if it weren’t for the fact that the authors, John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow, have been involved in Hollywood flicks themselves, and the satirical commentary becomes even more scathing on who peoples the industry and how movies are really made.

Four out of Five stars

http://www.amazon.com/The-Last-Goddam-Hollywood-Movie/dp/1621050904/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1394568308&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Last+Goddam+Hollywood+Movie

***

18401152REVIEWED: Son of a Bitch
WRITTEN BY: Wrath James White and Andre Duza
PUBLISHED: July, 2012

Intense, foul-mouthed, hard-punching, and wild, this story really is about the son of a bitch. The descriptively-named character is born half demon/ half canine, splitting his dog mother open at birth. Fused with Cuban black magic and the spirit of a local hitman, Warlock, the dog/ monster, goes on a murderous rampage, followed by the hood, Demitrius, who breeds dogs and is witness to the dog joining with Warlock’s soul.

Consider the dog/monster has similarities to a werewolf, albeit one that evolves and is seeking revenge. This is a quick read, at times funny and at times seething with violence. I never felt connected with any of the characters, but the plot kept me hooked all the way through. Lots of action and gore, and the ending was perfect. Good to read when you need to blow off some steam or suspect your family pooch might be hiding something malicious.

Four out of Five stars

http://www.amazon.com/Son-Bitch-Wrath-James-White/dp/1621051145/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1394576042&sr=1-1&keywords=Son+of+a+Bitch

***

6897017REVIEWED: Super Fetus
WRITTEN BY: Adam Pepper
PUBLISHED: August, 2009

To say this book is offensive is to say that serial killers may have some personality flaws. Up front, I do not recommend this book to any person with even moderately conservative values or self-expressed ‘taste’ in literature. But for those of you who enjoy a gross-out tale or a redneck battle, ‘Super Fetus’ is for you!

This story is about a (you guessed it) fetus growing inside the uterus of a trashy, burned out woman who’s already a mother of three and cannot fathom raising a fourth brat. She decides to abort it, but the fetus has prematurely developed and is self-aware of his placement. Simply put, he ain’t coming out! Super Fetus fights all manner of abortion proceedings and even causes his mother to throw up any unhealthy foods. “Only salads and healthy foods for me!” He does pushups and punches back at anyone reaching in to pull him out.

It’s a crude and foul-mouthed tale, at times hilarious, at times terribly shocking and sad, but ultimately a fun and quick read, clocking in at only about 87 pages. Though the story could have been a lot more, it’s successful on its face value. I would have loved to read a bit more back story about the mysterious ‘father’ with no face, as to who he was and the potential of Super Fetus. But the ending is perfect for a follow up, so perhaps someday there may be Super Toddler!

Four out of Five stars

http://www.amazon.com/Super-Fetus-Adam-Pepper/dp/193392988X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1394568121&sr=8-1&keywords=Super+Fetus

***

RisingREVIEWED: The Rising (author’s preferred edition/ uncut)
WRITTEN BY: Brian Keene
PUBLISHED: September, 2013 (first published March, 2003)

Simply put, this is a zombie book. More than that though, it’s an adventure thriller and a classic in the resurgence of undead in popular culture. To underscore this point, as I read ‘The Rising’ I thought, “Gee, yet another linear zombie story. Main character searches for his son, meets motley survivors, and crosses lots with paramilitary groups, all the while blowing away killer zombies.” But as I thought this it also dawned on me that Brian Keene was one of the first authors to write this type of action zombie story, and the reason it seems so formulaic and familiar is because there have been a horde (pun!) of writers who have copied this idea and wrote their own zombie apocalypse tales, inspired by the likes of Keene. Besides books, Keene’s influence is also found in video games, comics, movies, and other media.

The edition of this review is the ‘extended cut,’ i.e. the author’s preferred edition, published ten years after the original, in which Keene returns about 35,000 words cut from the debut. The story is a page-turner and follows the paths of several different characters as their lives intersect in the quest for survival. Some of the main characters seemed rather flat (Jim and Frankie), while I found myself relating and rooting for more of the lesser/ secondary characters (Baker and Skip).

The one unique element in this book which is not usually seen is that these zombies (Potential PLOT SPOILER) are actually host bodies for demons, and so retain consciousness and can perform normal human activity such as driving cars, opening doors, and <gasp> fire rocket launchers. In addition to human zombies, the survivors must contend with animal zombies, which adds a whole new layer of fear, fighting off zombie rats, birds, and lions.

The Rising promises on zombie battle and delivers on that promise wholeheartedly. Overall, it’s an exciting read, filled with violence, gore, and many, many surprises.

Four out of Five stars

http://www.amazon.com/The-Rising-Authors-Preferred-Edition/dp/1621050920/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1394568213&sr=8-1

***

Midnight cheers,

Eric J. Guignard

_________________________________

Eric J. Guignard writes dark and speculative fiction from his office in Los Angeles. His stories and articles may be found in magazines, journals, anthologies, and any other media that will print him. He’s a member of the Horror Writer’s Association and the International Thriller Writers. Recent magazine publications include Buzzy, Beware the Dark, and Stupefying Stories TM. He’s also an anthology editor, including: Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations (2012, Dark Moon Books), which was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award®, and last year’s critically acclaimed release, After Death… (2013, Dark Moon Books). Read his novella, Baggage of Eternal Night (2013, JournalStone Publishing), and watch for many more forthcoming books, including Chestnut ’Bo (TBP 2015). Visit Eric at: www.ericjguignard.com or at his blog: www.ericjguignard.blogspot.com.

 

 

The Sub-Genres of HORROR – PART V

 

This is part V in the categorical explanation for THE SUB-GENRES OF HORROR.

For an introduction, and PART I of this series, please begin here: The Sub-Genres of Horror – Part-I
PART II is here: The Sub-Genres of Horror – Part-II
PART III is here: The Sub-Genres of Horror – Part-III
PART IV is here: The Sub-Genres of Horror – Part-IV

Part V is below!

*****

Psychic Abilities

The use of Psychic Abilities (also known as extrasensory perception or sixth sense) are familiar storylines in horror fiction. Such abilities include: Telepathy (mind reading), Precognition or Postcognition (seeing events in the future or the past), Mind Control (forcing someone to act against their will), Telekinesis (ability to move objects by willpower), or any other power credited to the brain which is generally not considered possible in humans. Elements of witchery or paranormal may also share in this category.

These powers are not always portrayed with the intent to cause fright, but frequently are used by the protagonist to overcome a seemingly undefeatable opponent. Naturally the element of “evil” in psychic abilities is also abundant, and often multiple characters may have powers which they use to battle each other. Often, children are seen as the wielders of strange faculties. Psychic abilities may be explained by genetics, learned behavior, sorcery, or technological/medical experimentation (including comic-favorite ‘side-effects of radiation’).

Book Examples:

Firestarter by Stephen King
False Memory by Dean Koontz
Darkest Powers (series of books) by Kelley Armstrong

Psychological Horror

Psychological Horror is best characterized by the fears that come from within our psyche, rather than from external sources such as monsters or serial killers. It’s a form of narrative that builds tension through the character’s perception of events, causing them (and the reader) terror or mental/ emotional instability. Often this subgenre is considered successful by what isn’t revealed rather than by what is told, and is generally considered to be more complex than those forms of horror which rely on violence or gore. Affects of the human psyche include such undesirable elements as: mental conflict, doubt, guilt, phobia, insanity, suspicion, distrust, etc.

Book Examples:

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
The Unloved by John Saul

Religious Horror (including: Demons and Possession)

One of the oldest themes of horror draws upon the fears, consequences, and manifestations of evil found in religion. Although organized religion may be a focal point in the story, any belief system can be utilized such as Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, Tribal Worship, or rites, mythology, or doctrine of any of the other countless world denominations. Most commonly, these tales will portray a variation of Satan as the ultimate evil/ villainous antagonist which corrupts or outright attacks an unsuspecting innocent. Other unsettling considerations include demon possession and exorcism, spirit worship, witchcraft, or any communion with evil spirits, including agreements, willing habitation, or general relationship. Even stories revolving around fictional religion (i.e. invented strictly for purposes of the plot) may also fall into this category. The worship of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos is an example of this.

Book Examples:

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
Rosemary’s Baby
by Ira Levin
The Omen by David Seltzer

Revenge

Some of the most compelling stories are those dealing with well-deserved retribution. The vengeance may be as righteous as bloodletting of a supernatural deity (demons, monsters, aliens) or as mundane as rallying against a corrupt financial institution. Revenge can haunt some people and it can heal others, but either way it is cause for vigorous emotion. After all, ‘Getting even’ is one of man’s most basic desires. Most people do not regularly act on it, especially in grand scale, but the satisfaction of relating to someone who does is often a thrilling, if not guilty, pleasure. Whether blood-spattered torture, psychological trauma, financial ruin, or simple dismissal, tales of revenge is a notion that every reader can empathize with in some form.

Book Examples:

Carrie by Stephen King
Red by Jack Ketchum
Death Wish by Brian Garfield

*****

MORE TO COME IN MY NEXT BLOG POST! Stay tuned soon for The Sub-Genres of HORROR – PART VI

Part I Describes: Apocalyptic/Post-Apocalyptic Horror, Bizarro Fiction, Body Horror (Biological Horror)

Part II describes: Dark Fantasy (AKA:Fantasy Horror), Environmental Horror, Erotic Horror, Fairy Tales and Dark Fables

Part III describes: Gothic Horror, Historical Horror, Humor (AKA: Horror Comedy), and Killer Animals

Part IV describes: Lovecraftian Horror (Cthulhu Mythos), Media Tie-In, Monster Horror, and Paranormal

Part V describes: Psychic Abilities, Psychological Horror, Religious Horror (including: Demons and Possession), and Revenge

*****

Thanks to notes on this topic accumulated from the following websites:

http://www.cuebon.com/ewriters/Hsubgenres.html

http://www.goldenagestories.com/news/2013/01/04/the-dark-the-dark-the-history-of-horror-fiction/2602

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horror_fiction

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-the-different-horror-genres.htm

*****

Midnight cheers,

Eric J. Guignard

BIO:

Eric J. Guignard writes dark and speculative fiction from the outskirts of Los Angeles. His stories and articles may be found in magazines, journals, anthologies, and any other media that will print him. He’s a member of the Horror Writer’s Association and the International Thriller Writers. Recent magazine publications include Buzzy Magazine, Beware the Dark, and Stupefying Stories TM. He’s also an anthology editor, including: Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations (2012, Dark Moon Books), which was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award®, and last year’s critically acclaimed release, After Death… (2013, Dark Moon Books). Read his novella, Baggage of Eternal Night (2013, JournalStone Publishing), and watch for many more forthcoming books, including Chestnut ’Bo (TBP 2015). Visit Eric at: www.ericjguignard.com or at his blog: www.ericjguignard.blogspot.com.

 

 

Book Reviews (January, 2014)

 

Book Reviews! Each of the following books may be purchased through any large book store or online through www.amazon.com.

***
12441448

REVIEWED: Deadfall Hotel
WRITTEN BY: Steve Rasnic Tem
PUBLISHED: April, 2012

Deadfall Hotel is a rather sweet, at times sad, at times scary, novel which is more fantasy than horror. It includes the familiar monster tropes, but they are all fused with human pains, made believable in whatever condition ails the character, sending them to convalesce and, most likely, eventually perish in the namesake hotel. I wouldn’t call this book a “page-turner” as it is slow and sentimental, but that is what I enjoy about this author; he captures the subtleties of emotion – fear, sadness, hope – as masterfully as any “literary” writer, while at the same time building a compelling supernatural environment. A few of the sections seemed to go on for too long, such as the King of the Cats, while other sections, I wanted to learn more of, such as the actual history of the house, the pool that only occasionally appears, and the several of the other background “inhabitants” that make brief cameo appearances, but never again materialize. Deadfall Hotel is best read in a leisurely pace, ideally in a windowed nook with gloomy rain falling outside, and a nice mug of chamomile tea.

Four and a quarter out of Five stars

***

16144329

REVIEWED: Deadman’s Road
WRITTEN BY: Joe R. Lansdale
PUBLISHED: October, 2010

I really enjoyed this collection of short stories. Each self-contained tale revolves around the exploits of a central character, the gun slinging Reverend Jebidiah Mercer. There’s not a lot of literary depth to this book, but the stories are all fast-paced, action-filled, and pulp-esque fun. Rev. Mercer is quested to roam the old west, destroying evil in the name of God, whom he mostly despises, as penance for his sins. Each story pits him against a new enemy, mortal and supernatural alike. Mercer, cursing the whole way, does battle with whomever he is set against, including zombies, werewolves, ghosts, and kobolds. Joe R. Lansdale is really a master at creating excitement in his writing as well as crafting funny, meaningful dialogue. Know what you’re getting into before starting this: Deadman’s Road is violent and crass, but perfect when you need a pick-me-up after power-reading Camus or Dostoyevsky.

Five out of Five stars

***

17742131REVIEWED: Village of the Mermaids
WRITTEN BY: Carlton Mellick III
PUBLISHED: April, 2013

Village of the Mermaids is about an Island town surrounded by carnivorous mermaids, which the local citizens are not allowed to kill, under threat of execution, per the Endangered Species Act.

Biting government satire, survivalist thrills, mystery, and horrible, horrible man-eating mermaids, this novel is not for the weak-of-heart, but IS for those who appreciate reading something strange and beautiful that they would not find anywhere else.

It’s a funny, fast-paced story. Like all of Mellick’s work, I enjoyed this, though I wouldn’t consider it one of his best novels. That being said, it’s quite fine on any level. The talent of Carlton is that he can take the most ridiculous-sounding premises and, in a unique and smart maneuvering, craft very entertaining tales that are both outlandish and highly literary.

As an aside, the opening prologue is a chapter which was removed from the book as it didn’t “fit,” but is the strongest element of the book overall, emotionally tragic. Reading it in advance gave me character insight into the doctor’s character.

Four out of Five stars

***

Midnight cheers,

Eric

_________________________________

Eric J. Guignard writes dark and speculative fiction from his office in Los Angeles. His stories and articles may be found in magazines, journals, anthologies, and any other media that will print him. He’s a member of the Horror Writer’s Association and the International Thriller Writers. Recent magazine publications include Buzzy, Beware the Dark, and Stupefying Stories TM. He’s also an anthology editor, including: Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations (2012, Dark Moon Books), which was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award®, and last year’s critically acclaimed release, After Death… (2013, Dark Moon Books). Read his novella, Baggage of Eternal Night (2013, JournalStone Publishing), and watch for many more forthcoming books, including Chestnut ’Bo (TBP 2015). Visit Eric at: www.ericjguignard.com or at his blog: www.ericjguignard.blogspot.com.

 

 

TWITS – This Weeks Interesting Tweets

A weekly series, highlighting some of our favorite ≤140′s from MensConfidence writers and others. If you don’t follow them, bury your head in shame. Then follow them.

 

Read more

The Sub-Genres of HORROR – PART IV

 

This is part IV in the categorical explanation for THE SUB GENRES OF HORROR.

For an introduction, and PART I of this series, please begin here: The Sub-Genres of Horror – Part-I
PART II is here: The Sub-Genres of Horror – Part-II
PART III is here: The Sub-Genres of Horror – Part-III

Part IV is below!

*****

Lovecraftian Horror (Cthulhu Mythos)

Named after its progenitor, author H. P. Lovecraft, Lovecraftian Horror deals with “cosmic horror of the unknown.” This theme is guided by the belief that human minds cannot possibly comprehend the perilous mysteries of the universe which are, at its core, alien and malevolent. Common elements include protagonists who use science and logic to attempt to unravel these mysteries, but then, most often, lose their sanity, as the mysteries of the cosmos are too much for the human mind to comprehend. Also categorized under “Weird Fiction,” Lovecraftian Horror is generally pessimistic, dependent on atmosphere, and typically abstains from gore (choosing to emphasize psychological fear, being the absence of normality).

Book Examples:

The Call of Cthulhu (or Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos) by H. P. Lovecraft
The Burrowers Beneath (Book 1 of the Cthulhu Cycle Deities) by Brian Lumley
New Cthulhu: The Recent Weird (an anthology) edited by Paula Guran

Media Tie-In

A book based on a movie, game, television show, etc., authorized by the production company to be written as part of cross promotional efforts. Generally, this type of book will expand the storyline of the original work, using its existing characters, concepts, and settings. The important distinction here is that the story itself will be unique from the movie (or other media vehicle), whereas a novelization is the simply the written form of the original story, i.e. a written format of what occurs in the movie.

Book Examples:

30 Days of Night: Light of Day by Jeff Mariotte
The Willow Files, Vol. 1 (Buffy The Vampire Slayer) by Yvonne Navarro
Dreams of the Dark (Dark Shadows) by Stephen M. Rainey, Elizabeth Massie, and Lara Parker

Monster Horror (AKA: Supernatural Horror; AKA: Monster Literature)

The very word itself, “Monster,” suggests something that is evil or hideous, and monsters in horror is perhaps the most familiar theme when one thinks of the genre. This may include any fictional or supernatural creature such as zombies, werewolves, mummies, vampires, etc. Typically the Monster (also generally the antagonist) is defined as something that is abhorrent to society and that it also incites fear and is threatening.

Book Examples:

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
It by Stephen King

Paranormal

Paranormal Horror may be closely categorized to monster horror, but that these monsters are generally intangible, or if they are more like traditional “monsters” they are at least capable of intelligent thought, and not rambling killing-machines. Paranormal primarily includes ghosts, unidentified presences, demons, perhaps aliens, or simply anything that is contrary to the realm of current scientific explanation. Even the authenticity of séances or Ouija boards, faith healing, telepathy, or any psychic phenomena may be considered paranormal, as their results can’t be scientifically proven. A psychological movement, “Parapsychology” is the scientific study of the Paranormal, to push those boundaries of what may be “possible.” Another popular subgenre which is often categorized similarly is Paranormal Romance, recognized as a romance story in which one or more of the protagonists possesses some paranormal ability.

Book Examples (Paranormal Horror):

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
The Shining by Stephen King
Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

Book Examples (Paranormal Romance):

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse #1) by Charlaine Harris
Fantasy Lover (Dark-Hunter companion novel) by Sherrilyn Kenyon

*****

MORE TO COME IN MY NEXT BLOG POST! Stay tuned soon for The Sub-Genres of HORROR – PART V

Part I Describes: Apocalyptic/Post-Apocalyptic Horror, Bizarro Fiction, Body Horror (Biological Horror)

Part II describes: Dark Fantasy (AKA:Fantasy Horror), Environmental Horror, Erotic Horror, Fairy Tales and Dark Fables

Part III describes: Gothic Horror, Historical Horror, Humor (AKA: Horror Comedy), and Killer Animals

Part IV describes: Lovecraftian Horror (Cthulhu Mythos), Lovecraftian Horror (Cthulhu Mythos), Monster Horror, and Paranormal

*****

Thanks to notes on this topic accumulated from the following websites:

http://www.cuebon.com/ewriters/Hsubgenres.html

http://www.goldenagestories.com/news/2013/01/04/the-dark-the-dark-the-history-of-horror-fiction/2602

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horror_fiction

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-the-different-horror-genres.htm

*****

Midnight cheers,

Eric J. Guignard

BIO:

Eric J. Guignard writes dark and speculative fiction from his office in Los Angeles. His stories and articles may be found in magazines, journals, anthologies, and any other media that will print him. He’s a member of the Horror Writer’s Association, the International Thriller Writers, and is also the Horror Genre Correspondent for Men’s Confidence Magazine. In addition, he’s an anthology editor, including: Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations (2012, Dark Moon Books), which was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award®, and this year’s critically acclaimed release, After Death… (2013, Dark Moon Books). Read his novella, Baggage of Eternal Night (2013, JournalStone Publishing), and watch for many more forthcoming books. Visit Eric at: www.ericjguignard.com or at his blog: www.ericjguignard.blogspot.com.

 

 

WEEK 1–Society, Science and Survival: Lessons from AMC’s The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead

Rejoice–The Walking Dead is back!  I will get you caught up on the first week of eCornell’s/ AMC’s class with a lecture on “The Foundation of Survival”.  I’ll tell you a little bit about what I learned about “Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs” and how it applies to this week’s episode of The Walking Dead (Season 4, Episode 1).

MASLOW’S HEIRARCHY OF NEEDS

Abraham Maslow was a 1950s-era psychologist who, through his research and observations, developed a hierarchy of human needs.  He placed these beliefs in a pyramid shape with the most important, physiological needs, at the bottom.   Maslow believed that people were “basically honest, self-reliant and self-regulating with a tendency to seek relationships, growth and love.”  Per his pyramid, he thought that it was important for the lower-listed needs to be met before moving onto the higher-listed ones.  He believed that there was conflict when: 1)  these needs were not met or 2) a less important need was prioritized before a more important need was fulfilled.  Here are those needs from most important (physiological) to least important (self-actualization):

Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs

Many critics of this argue that the order that people experience needs can vary, the order of these needs can vary by culture (for example, some regard esteem more highly than safety) and regression of needs is possible.

HOW IT APPLIES TO THE SHOW

Clearly, the post-apocalyptic world that the characters live in shakes up the fulfillment of their lower-level needs.  From a pre- to post- zombie world, this has changed their motivations, as well as their perceptions.   In the most recent episode “30 Days Without an Accident” (Season 4, Episode 1), you can see the relationships and structures that have been created or strengthened by an environment that demonstrates a limited threat to their physiological and safety needs.  However, we see that fulfillment of these base needs has shifted opinions on things, like whether children should be carrying guns.  (According to Carol and Carl, the answer is “Yes, and we’ll teach them how to use them”.)  Even Rick’s three questions to newcomers reflects the difficult choices that have had to be made to fulfill basic human needs: 1) “How many walkers have you killed?” 2) “How many people have you killed?” and 3) “Why?”.

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Clara (Kerry Condon) in Episode 1  Photo by Gene Page/AMC

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Clara (Kerry Condon) in Episode 1
Photo by Gene Page/AMC

In this week’s discussions, we were asked:

  1. Was anyone self-actualized in their pre-zombie lives?  ( I said Dale)
  2. What would need to happen for Glenn and Maggie for them to reach self-actualization? (I thought that things had to get really good before everyone got there, even these love birds)
  3. Where is the best place to effectively hunker down during a zombie apocalypse? (I picked a mall!)

 

Leave your thoughts in the comments below and then stay tuned next week for “WEEK 2–Public Health and Infectious Diseases”!

 

The Walking AbbieAbbie Elliot is a senior contributor for MCM and a writer for ‘Under the Tuscan Gun, part of “The Cooking Channel’s “Extra Virgin” with actress Debi Mazar (Entourage’s Shauna Roberts) and husband Gabriele Corcos. She has served as managing editor for ‘DC on Heels’, and has written professionally for organizations like The White House Commission on Remembrance and AOL/The Huffington Post. Follow her on twitter: @abbie_b_elliott or email abbie.b.elliott@gmail.com

 

Shutdown Showdown: The Top 25 Things You Need to Know

Government Shutdown

As the partial government shutdown continues, here are 25 facts to stop or warm your heart:

1.  President Obama sent an official letter to affected workers.  It’s basically a love letter from the President to federal employees…well, maybe its more like a really really sweet breakup letter.

(THE WHITE HOUSE)

(THE WHITE HOUSE)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.  Approximately 400 national parks, museums and historical sites are closed to the public!  This includes historical landmarks like The Washington Monument, The Statue of Liberty and The Lincoln Memorial.  Potential revenue loss?  $30 million PER DAY.  Let that sink in.  Um, I’m no economist, but doesn’t generating revenue help with budgetary issues?

The Statue of Liberty is closed.  (THE GUARDIAN)

The Statue of Liberty is currently closed. (THE GUARDIAN)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.  There are 24 wedding ceremonies planned on the National Mall for October–nine of which were supposed to occur the same week that the shutdown began.  These couples now have to make alternate plans…and fast.    #weddedmiss

(THE EXAMINER)

(THE EXAMINER)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.  WWII veterans from Mississippi stormed the WWII Memorial.  How apropos…from storming the shores of Normandy on D-Day to storming a public memorial on Shutdown Day.  The mainly octogenarian vets were part of an Honor Flight tour, which  provides memorial tours to veterans.  Several lawmakers and their staff were on-hand to assist with the efforts.  Thankfully, the U.S. Park Police let the veterans continue their tour without a confrontation.

(CARLOS BONGIOANNI/STARS AND STRIPES)

(CARLOS BONGIOANNI/STARS AND STRIPES)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.  Members of Congress will keep getting a paycheck.  With salaries upwards of six figures, a handful of lawmakers plan to forego their paychecks or donate it to charity.  Think more should do the same?  Then, sign this petition.

(GETTY IMAGES)

(GETTY IMAGES)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6.  …but, no wonder they couldn’t make a decision, apparently some of them were drunk as a skunk during the final hours before the shitdown deadline.  At least, this is according to reporters Jennifer Bendery and Sam Stein.

(TWITTER)

(TWITTER)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7.  Many are taking comfort in the fact that government employees were paid retroactively in the 1995/1996 government shutdown.  While this is likely true for “essential” employees, the 800,000-ish “non-essential’ employees may not be so lucky.  Luckily, some may be eligible for a form of unemployment.

(NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

(NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Yay–our men and women in uniform will continue to get paid!  President Obama signed the “Pay Our Military Act” on September 30 to ensure that military families are taken care of.

(YAHOO NEWS)

(YAHOO NEWS)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9.  …but boo to the fact that 3.6 million veterans may not receive disability or pension benefits.  According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, this will happen if the government shutdown lasts more than two to three weeks.

(DVA)

(DVA)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10.  Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will continue to receive funding.

(U.S. SENATE)

(U.S. SENATE)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11.  The Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) could run out of funds in less than a week.  This program provides food and healthcare for low-income women and children, like pre-natal screenings.

(FORBES)

(FORBES)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12.  Additionally, 1,600 Head Start programs, affecting one million, will begin gradually closing down as funds dry up.  Head Start is a federally-funded program (The Department of Health and Human Services, HHS) that provides “education, health, nutrition and parent-involvement services to low-income children and their families”.

(HHS)

(HHS)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13.  …but SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), a.k.a. food stamps, will still continue.  Plus, official USDA child nutrition programs, which impact approximately 47 million children, will still provide assistance.

SNAP

 

 

 

 

 

 

14.  The National Institutes of Health (NIH) are turning away patients seeking treatment.  According to a recent article by The Wall Street Journal, this includes 30 child cancer patients participating in clinical trials.

(NIH)

(NIH)

 

 

 

 

15.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is halting its annual seasonal influenza program.  Save your sick days– you may actually need them for something other than day drinking.

(AP PHOTO/ ROGELIO V. SOLIS)

(AP PHOTO/ ROGELIO V. SOLIS)

 

 

 

 

 

 

16.  The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will continue to pay out retirement benefits to federal employees.  However, there may be a delay on retirement applications.

(OPM)

(OPM)

 

 

 

 

 

17.  The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) remains open and will continue to deliver.  So, mail your furloughed friends some cookies or something!  Now, what kind of cookie says “I’m sorry you’re not getting a paycheck this week” ?

(USPS)

(USPS)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18.  Federal prisoners remain behind bars.  C’mon people, it’s a government shutdown—not the end of days.  We are not going to just release convicted felons…or are we?

(DOJ)

(DOJ)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

19.  Don’t worry, though, you can still feel like a convicted felon via airport security checks!  The Transportation and Safety Administration (TSA) will still pat you down and rifle through your things.

(TSA)

(TSA)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will resume core activities.  This will include “routine establishment inspections, some compliance and enforcement activities, monitoring of imports, notification programs (e.g., food contact substances, infant formula), and the majority of the laboratory research necessary to inform public health decision-making.”  However, many FDA programs will cease during the shutdown.  Good thing salmonella and e. coli aren’t deadly…

 (FDA)

(FDA)

 

 

 

 

 

 

21.  Thanks to reserve funding, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will continue to operate…at least for a few weeks.  Sorry inventors, you may have to tell Mark Cuban to delay your debut on ABC’s Shark Tank.

(USPTO)

(USPTO)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

22.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will stop monitoring pollution issuesBig Business: 100, Environmentalists: 0

(FREE ENTERPRISE)

(FREE ENTERPRISE)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

23.  Social media accounts for various federal agencies, like the Library of Congress and NASA, have gone silent.  Employees have been instructed not to post or respond via federal accounts.  #booooooooo

(TWITTER)

(TWITTER)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

24.  The National Zoo’s video feed of the yet-to-be-named newborn panda (a.k.a. “Panda Cam”) is no longer streaming.  However–fear not–the staff at TIME created their own panda cam live stream.  TIME said,” We set up a panda on a stool in our office, and he will be continuously hugged, fed fake bamboo and forced to transcribe interviews throughout the day. He’s not as cute as a real panda, but with the shutdown going strong, he’ll just have to do.”

(TIME)

(TIME)

 

 

 

 

 

 

25.  And finally (and ironically), the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. “Obamacare”) moved forward on Day 1 of the shutdown.  Obamacare is the perceived root of the budget battle in Congress.  On the first day it opened to applicants, the HealthCare.gov experienced technical issues.  The site received such a high amount of traffic that many people couldn’t register.

(HEALTHCARE.GOV)

(HEALTHCARE.GOV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Abbie Elliot is a senior contributor for MCM and a writer for ‘Under the Tuscan Gun, part of  “The Cooking Channel’s “Extra Virgin” with actress Debi Mazar (Entourage’s Shauna Roberts) and husband Gabriele Corcos. She has served as managing editor for ‘DC on Heels’, and has written professionally for organizations like The White House Commission on Remembrance and AOL/The Huffington Post. Follow her on twitter: @abbie_b_elliott or email abbie.b.elliott@gmail.com

Society, Science and Survival: Lessons from AMC’s The Walking Dead

I’ve annihilated Nazi zombies in Call of Duty, taken a class in zombie obstacle courses, watched countless zombie flicks and run zombie-themed 5Ks.  So, I’ve decided to take my love of the un-dead to the next level by getting some real “book-learnin’ ” in.  My course of choice?  “Society, Science and Survival: Lessons from AMC’s The Walking Dead.”

That’s right–in a move that further blurs the fading line between education and pop culture, the University of California-Irvine and AMC are offering an in-depth online course on science and survival.  To all the naysayers: this class syllabus isn’t rocking surface-level fluff—students will explore real, scholarly concepts within the context of a zombie-filled landscape–like “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs—is survival just about being alive?”  and “Social identity, roles, and stereotyping—as shown through leaders like Rick and the Governor”.  The courses are taught by four of UC-Irvine’s prominent lecturers; versed in Social Sciences, Physics and Astronomy, Public Health and Mathematics.

So, dear readers, to support your laziness and your (understandable/relatable/some-other-word-that-ends-in-able) addiction to The Walking Dead, I will smush my hours of hard learning and hard television watching into weekly post-apocalyptic recaps.

So, catch the season premiere of The Walking Dead on Sunday, October 13, 2013.  Then, check back in when my “semester” begins on October 14 through December 20, 2013–I may need some help with my homework.  Mmmmm, brains…

 

The Walking AbbieAbbie Elliot is a senior contributor for MCM and a writer for ‘Under the Tuscan Gun, part of “The Cooking Channel’s “Extra Virgin” with actress Debi Mazar (Entourage’s Shauna Roberts) and husband Gabriele Corcos. She has served as managing editor for ‘DC on Heels’, and has written professionally for organizations like The White House Commission on Remembrance and AOL/The Huffington Post. Follow her on twitter: @abbie_b_elliott or email abbie.b.elliott@gmail.com

 

The Sub-Genres of HORROR – PART III

 

This is part III in the categorical explanation for THE SUB GENRES OF HORROR.

For an introduction, and PART I of this series, please begin here: The Sub-Genres of Horror – Part-I

PART II is here: The Sub-Genres of Horror – Part-II

*****

Gothic Horror (AKA: Gothic Fiction)

Gothic horror originated as a movement that combined elements of terror with romance, attributed first to English author, Horace Walpole, with his 1764 novel The Castle of Otranto (AKA: A Gothic Story). Gothic horror has since then expanded, though it still relies heavily on atmosphere and setting (such as a ruined castle, rugged mountain, or mist-shrouded cemetery) to create an overall sense of gloominess or dread. Often, the plot is melodramatic and sensational and may include a naïve heroine living by the moors of a Victorianesque society and/ or a lonely male traveler, haunted by a dark secret which is revealed at the story’s climax.

Book Examples:

Dracula by Bram Stoker
Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe by Edgar Allan Poe
Drood by Dan Simmons

 

Historical Horror (including: Alternative History)

Historical Horror (and any other type of Historical Fiction) is set in the past. Though not a clearly factual account, this sub-genre relies heavily on historic facts, setting, and/ or people to provide an alternative context or hypothetical explanation to an actual event that occurred, or simply to provide the backdrop for a realistic and interesting point in time. Horror set in history has a broad range, whether including an ancillary character that happens to have existed or by completely rewriting events, such as pitting alien invaders against Confederate raiders during the Civil War. The significance in this style of writing is that particular attention is placed in the details which maintain accuracy to the time period and the appropriate mannerisms and descriptions of characters involved.

Book Examples:

The Terror by Dan Simmons
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
The Devils of D-Day by Graham Masterton

 

Humor (AKA: Horror Comedy)

Though at first consideration horror and humor may seem like diametric opposites, these two elements actually work complimentarily with each other; each shares the goal to elicit a strong reaction by mixing screaming with laughing. The act of combining humor and horror has a deep-running psychological basis as fears, or that which is not understood, is often exaggerated into parody. The short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving (published in 1820) is considered the first “great comedy-horror story.”

Book Examples:

John Dies at the End by David Wong
The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks
Fat White Vampire Blues by Andrew Fox

 

Killer Animals

A self-descriptive title, this category includes stories of animals engaging in murderous rampage. Whether it’s a single animal or an invasion by large group, these beasts are consumed with a voracious inclination to slaughter every human being in their path. Typically the killer animal may be classified in one of two devices: The creature is already a feared or despised species that causes revulsion in the reader even while in a tranquil state (i.e. spiders or snakes); Or the creature is one which the reader empathizes with (i.e. dog or cat), but who is turned vicious by illness, revenge, latent evil, or any other cause normally attributable to humans.

Book Examples:

The Rats by James Herbert
Jaws by Peter Benchley
Cujo by Stephen King

*****

MORE TO COME IN MY NEXT BLOG POST! Stay tuned soon for The Sub-Genres of HORROR – PART IV

Part I Describes: Apocalyptic/Post-Apocalyptic Horror, Bizarro Fiction, Body Horror (Biological Horror)

Part II describes: Dark Fantasy (AKA:Fantasy Horror), Environmental Horror, Erotic Horror, Fairy Tales and Dark Fables

Part III describes: Gothic Horror, Historical Horror, Humor (AKA: Horror Comedy), and Killer Animals

Part IV describes: Lovecraftian Horror (Cthulhu Mythos), Lovecraftian Horror(Cthulhu Mythos), Monster Horror, and Paranormal

*****

Thanks to notes on this topic accumulated from the following websites:

http://www.cuebon.com/ewriters/Hsubgenres.html

http://www.goldenagestories.com/news/2013/01/04/the-dark-the-dark-the-history-of-horror-fiction/2602

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horror_fiction

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-the-different-horror-genres.htm

*****

Midnight cheers,

Eric J. Guignard

BIO:

Eric J. Guignard writes dark and speculative fiction from his office in Los Angeles. His stories and articles may be found in magazines, journals, anthologies, and any other media that will print him. He’s a member of the Horror Writer’s Association, the International Thriller Writers, and is also the Horror Genre Correspondent for Men’s Confidence Magazine. In addition, he’s an anthology editor, including: Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations (2012, Dark Moon Books), which was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award®, and this year’s critically acclaimed release, After Death… (2013, Dark Moon Books). Read his novella, Baggage of Eternal Night (2013, JournalStone Publishing), and watch for many more forthcoming books. Visit Eric at: www.ericjguignard.com or at his blog: www.ericjguignard.blogspot.com.

 

 

The Coolest Chick You Don’t Know–Yet

“If all your friends jumped off a bridge, then would you jump too ?” our parents always asked us.  At the time, we knew that the  response that kept us out of more trouble was always ‘No’.  But, today, adventurer Erin Bonilla is saying,” Hell, yeah—sign me up!”  This blonde adventurer wants to do a tandem base jump off of the 876-foot New River Gorge Bridge!  To give you some perspective, this is more than 200 feet higher than the Seattle’s Space Needle (605 feet) and the St. Louis Arch (630 feet).

Bonilla in her skydiving gear.

Check out Bonilla’s video entry into the base jumping contest

So, why does Bonilla want to take the leap in front of the expected 80,000 spectators of Bridge Day 2013?  Well, if jumping off of a bridge wasn’t crazy enough, she is building towards her goal to skydive in space.  Yes, you read that right:  Skydive.  In Space.  Remember Felix Baumgartner’s historic 24-mile, Red Bull-sponsored space skydive in October 2012?  Erin has met the Austrian daredevil, as well as the first man to skydive from the edge of space in 1960, Col. Joe Kittinger, USAF (Ret.).  Both space-dive pioneers advised her to continue striving towards this (literally) out-of-this-world goal…and she’s obviously heeding that advice.

Col. Kittinger, Baumgartner and Bonilla at the Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

Check out Bonilla’s video entry into the base jumping contest

The journey to space skydiving began with Bonilla leaping out of a plane 36 times (!) and attaining her Class-A skydiving license.  She hopes to take the next step on October 19 with her very first base jump in Fayetteville, West Virginia.  If Bonilla wins the opportunity to jump, Subaru will donate $1,000 to her charity of choice, the Stillbrave Childhood Cancer Foundation.  The organization was created by a friend of hers, who lost his daughter to the disease.

Baumgartner, Bonilla and her husband, Dennis, at the Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

Check out Bonilla’s video entry into the base jumping contest. 

Check out Bonilla’s video entry into the base jumping contest.  If you like what you see, vote to send her base jumping and get $1,000 to a deserving charity.  Then, write down the name “Erin Bonilla”—you can say that you knew her when.  Oh, and sorry fellas…the coolest chick you don’t know is taken–he (Dennis) put a ring on it.


Abbie Elliot is a senior contributor for MCM and a writer for ‘Under the Tuscan Gun, part of “The Cooking Channel’s “Extra Virgin” with actress Debi Mazar (Entourage’s Shauna Roberts) and husband Gabriele Corcos. She has served as managing editor for ‘DC on Heels’, and has written professionally for organizations like The White House Commission on Remembrance and AOL/The Huffington Post. Follow her on twitter: @abbie_b_elliott or email abbie.b.elliott@gmail.com