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 the outskirts of Los Angeles. Assorted stories and articles that bear his byline may be found in the disreputable publications reserved for back alley bazaars. As an editor, Eric’s produced the anthologies, Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations and After Death…, the latter of which won the 2013 Bram Stoker Award®. Read his novella, Baggage of Eternal Night (a finalist for the 2014 International Thriller Writers Award), and watch for many more forthcoming books, including Chestnut ’Bo (TBP 2016). Outside of the glamorous and jet-setting world of indie fiction, Eric’s a technical writer and college professor, and he stumbles home each day to a wife, children, cats, and a terrarium filled with mischievous beetles. He’s a member of the Horror Writer’s Association, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Of America, and the International Thriller Writers. Visit Eric at: www.ericjguignard.com, his blog: ericjguignard.blogspot.com, or Twitter: @ericjguignard.

 

 

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

The Sub-Genres of HORROR – PART II

 

This is part II 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

*****

Dark Fantasy (AKA: Fantasy Horror, AKA: Gothic Fantasy)

Dark Fantasy in its broadest definition may be seen as simply another term for “supernatural horror,” being that it has a speculative element and the story is gloomy or grim in tone. However, the Dark Fantasy category is generally referenced when defining fiction in a “fantastic” context, and going beyond just the idea of one supernatural presence in order to explore a greater evil within its universe. Often, alternate and horrific worlds are developed that the characters must exist within. Other associations may involve elements of Sword & Sorcery fiction or High Fantasy fiction, written to a particulalry dark bent. Another example could be that the story is told from a mythological monster’s point of view.

Book Examples:

The Dark Tower (series of books) by Stephen King
The Saint-Germain novels by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Kane (stories and novels) by Karl Edward Wagner

Environmental Horror (AKA: Eco-Horror, including “Natural Disasters”)

This category applies to any story in which an element of nature takes on a speculative aspect with potentially deadly consequences to humans. Often it’s a reactionary tale in which mankind abuses the environment, and by consequence of their own actions cause the environment to exact revenge. Examples of rampant ecology include: catastrophic natural calamity (volcano, earthquake, tornado); climactic upheaval (sudden return of the ice age or cooling of Earth’s core); man-eating plants (‘nuff said); mutated animals (overt monsters such as two-headed monster shark or oversized insects OR psychological/ intellect, ala Planet of the Apes); disastrous weather (flooding, blizzards, extreme heat); atmospheric toxicity (air no longer breathable), etc. Though often ‘campy,’ these stories do promote the greater good of environmental awareness and often serve as platforms for real warnings about misusing Earth’s resources.

Book Examples:

Hothouse by Brian W. Aldiss
Garbage Man
by Joseph D’Lacey
The Ruins by Scott Smith

Erotic Horror (AKA: Dark Erotica)

Erotic Horror is horror fiction which combines elements of strong sexual or sensual imagery, including (though not necessitating) intercourse. Often the erotic element goes against conventional norms, involves supernatural aspects, and may not be ‘pleasurable’ to at least one of the participants. It’s a fine line and matter of taste moving beyond a story’s traditional “romantic” element to elicit erotica and tends to be more common in the horror genre than others, simply by the graphic style of writing that the community promotes. When pushing boundaries, it’s just as easy to describe an intense act of coitus as it is a gory bloodbath; both are somewhat taboo. Much horror has subtle elements that naturally lends itself into this category. Consider Dracula’s sensual sway over female victims, or the demon Succubus that drains unsuspecting men, or even the horror movie cliché that any young couple who engage in sex will be killed the following scene. (Trivia Time: William Shakespeare called the orgasm the “little death.”)

Book Examples:

The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker
Scared Stiff
by Ramsey Campbell
Love in Vein: Twenty Original Tales of Vampiric Erotica edited by Poppy Z. Brite

Fairy Tales and Dark Fables

More often recognized in sanitized adaptations with happy endings, children are reared on legion of fairy tales. However, most of these stories were originally developed as being much darker in nature with gruesome twists and horrific endings than as known today. Rather than heroic adventures, fairy tales are parables for children meant to reinforce values and life lessons from an early age. At their heart, these stories may even be viewed as psychological tools . Child psychologist, Bruno Bettelheim, wrote the following in 1975 about this topic: “In order to master the psychological problems of growing up… a child needs to understand what is going on within his conscious self so that he can also cope with that which goes on in his unconscious.” Psycho-babble aside, old-school fairy tales are frightening things; oft-employed grim elements include supernatural monsters or witches, ghosts, deformation, severe punishment or imprisonment, and death. There continue to be new works released that incorporate elements of fairy tales, create their own tale, or promulgate the legends of fairy tales or fables, so this sub-genre by no means includes only “passed-down” stories.

Book Examples:

Grimms’ Fairy Tales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Little Red Riding Hood
by Charles Perrault (first published)
Once by James Herbert

*****

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

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

_________________________________

Eric J. Guignard writes dark and speculative fiction from the outskirts of Los Angeles. Assorted stories and articles that bear his byline may be found in the disreputable publications reserved for back alley bazaars. As an editor, Eric’s produced the anthologies, Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations and After Death…, the latter of which won the 2013 Bram Stoker Award®. Read his novella, Baggage of Eternal Night (a finalist for the 2014 International Thriller Writers Award), and watch for many more forthcoming books, including Chestnut ’Bo (TBP 2016). Outside of the glamorous and jet-setting world of indie fiction, Eric’s a technical writer and college professor, and he stumbles home each day to a wife, children, cats, and a terrarium filled with mischievous beetles. He’s a member of the Horror Writer’s Association, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Of America, and the International Thriller Writers. Visit Eric at: www.ericjguignard.com, his blog: ericjguignard.blogspot.com, or Twitter: @ericjguignard.

 

 

Book Reviews (September) for older Horror Novels

 

September Book Reviews are of older Horror Novels (15 years or more). Each of the following books may be purchased through www.amazon.com.

***

Swan SongREVIEWED: Swan Song
WRITTEN BY: Robert R. McCammon
PUBLISHED: June, 1987

Another successful novel by author, Robert R. McCammon. Swan Song is a post-apocalyptic horror story following the survivors of a nuclear Armageddon. The characters are diverse and engaging, though many border on the stereotypical “too-good” vs. “too-evil.” However, I appreciated the variety of characters’ “Points of Views” by chapter, similar to Stephen King’s own post-apocalyptic novel, “The Stand.” The desolation and misery created by McCammon is emotional; you can feel the pain and weariness of the survivors as they trek across the ruined country. But that’s also offset by the perpetual hope and innocence of the girl, Swan, as well as the life lessons learned and perseverance by Sister and Josh and the others. The ending is very satisfying, even somewhat beautiful. Swan Song is a classic and recommended reading for anyone who enjoys dark fiction.

Five out of Five stars

***

MadmenREVIEWED: Among Madmen
WRITTEN BY: Jim Starlin and illustrated by Daina Graziunas
PUBLISHED: April, 1990

Easy read, fast-paced, violent, and gripping = highly recommended for fans of pulp action stories. Consider this similar to a zombie plague, only instead of fighting off the undead, the protagonists must battle “Berserkers” which are people who have contracted an incurable mental condition that drives them to sadistically murder anyone they can (consider a similarity in this to the movie, “28 Days Later”). Another level to this story, which makes the plot successful, is that anyone may contract the illness at anytime. So survivors are constantly suspicious of their friends, wondering if they’re about to turn berserker. The main character, Tom Laker, is an ex-vet and sheriff of a town of survivors. He’s a well-rounded hero with flaws and tragic circumstances. Most of the other characters are rather flat, however, and represent bland stereotypes. The author forces a great deal of emotion into the book, some of which is advantageous and some which is not. He cares for a wounded dog, which then runs away, leaving the audience to wonder at its purpose, or if it was an analogous device for Tom himself. Overall, if you’re not expecting too much, this is a great “read-something-fun” book. Also illustrated by the author’s wife, Daina, although I question the placement of the images, as they always came before a plot point, thus giving away what was going to happen.
Four-and-a-half out of Five stars

***

KaliREVIEWED: Song of Kali
WRITTEN BY: Dan Simmons
PUBLISHED: January, 1998

Song of Kali is a well written novel of dark fiction, though hardly “the most frightening book ever written” as heralded across reviews and its book cover. There are actually very few scenes that seemed particularly scary at all. The plot is fair and emotionally-driven, compelling and sad, with good pacing, conflict, etc. And, man!, can this author write! The technical ability of Dan Simmons is extraordinary. However, the book just felt barely “above-average,” rather than fantastic, after closing the final page. The ending is anticlimactic, i.e. dreadful (in terms of boredom)… this story had so much potential to have been greater. The backdrop and circumstances Simmons established could have led to many, many more frightening scenes than he used. All-in-all, a fine read, especially as this is the first novel he ever wrote. Note to reader: His books get much better.

Four out of Five stars

 

Midnight cheers,

Eric

_________________________________

Eric J. Guignard writes dark and speculative fiction from the outskirts of Los Angeles. Assorted stories and articles that bear his byline may be found in the disreputable publications reserved for back alley bazaars. As an editor, Eric’s produced the anthologies, Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations and After Death…, the latter of which won the 2013 Bram Stoker Award®. Read his novella, Baggage of Eternal Night (a finalist for the 2014 International Thriller Writers Award), and watch for many more forthcoming books, including Chestnut ’Bo (TBP 2016). Outside of the glamorous and jet-setting world of indie fiction, Eric’s a technical writer and college professor, and he stumbles home each day to a wife, children, cats, and a terrarium filled with mischievous beetles. He’s a member of the Horror Writer’s Association, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Of America, and the International Thriller Writers. Visit Eric at: www.ericjguignard.com, his blog: ericjguignard.blogspot.com, or Twitter: @ericjguignard.

 

 

The Sub-Genres of HORROR – PART I

 

In the great and storied realm of Literature, what constitutes that particular niche known as “Horror”? We seem to recognize it when we see it, but it’s not entirely easy to categorize into one lump genre.

First, by “Horror,” I mean that spirit relating to FICTION, primarily in literature and movies, which is intended, or has the capacity, to frighten or cause a sense of dread or alarm.

(See further on this in my blog discussion, “The Horror Genre” here:
http://mensconfidence.com/2013/01/29/the-horror-genre/#more-2442)

Consider Horror like a city, one if which all manner of ominous denizens dwell. It’s a great place to sightsee, but most people may not want to live there. Within this City, there are further divisions—neighborhoods—if you will. Some of the horror neighborhoods are gory and some are psychological and some are geared even toward children. These neighborhoods are the “sub-genres.”

Now, if you take a step back, you realize that the city of Horror is also part of a larger County, and there are neighboring cities which—although not intended to be horror—share those same neighborhoods which dip into Horror’s boundaries. Consider the neighboring cities as other genres, and the neighborhoods which are sub-genres may cross many of their limits.

You see, the Horror Genre is formally a subset of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Genre, which in turn falls under the larger umbrella of “Speculative Fiction.” Speculative Fiction is contrasted against literary fiction by “Including a supernatural element.” Whereas literary fiction involves fictional characters and/or events in an everyday world in which we could theoretically share the same experiences as those characters. Speculative Fiction, in my example, is the County, and thus Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, etc. are all the cities.

Confused? You’re not alone. Try categorizing your favorite author into one sub-genre. Typically it’s impossible, as writers enjoy challenging themselves and exploring new “neighborhoods.” Even Stephen King, the literal “King of Horror” has written in numerous genres and sub-genres.

So all that is well and good, but with the names of neighborhoods often bandied about, and no road map of how they relate to each other, it is often a perplexing place to visit. I thought I would investigate a bit and attempt to map out the sub-genres of Horror.

By no means is my list inclusive, but here are some of the more common categories you may encounter (in alphabetic order):

Apocalyptic/ Post-Apocalyptic Horror

Apocalyptic fiction deals with the catastrophic end of civilization, and Post-Apocalyptic fiction deals with its aftermath. Generally both elements may be infused into the same story, as for it to truly be considered “apocalyptic,” the catastrophe must occur, and not simply be a grave threat which is overcome. The catastrophic end may be for any reason relating to scientifically-possible or to supernatural imaginings, such as nuclear war, plague, alien invasion, monsters, celestial judgment, etc.

Book Examples:

The Stand by Stephen King
Swan Song by Robert R. McCammon
The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Bizarro Fiction

A relatively new subgenre, Bizarro fiction is a contemporary classification, 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. Not all Bizarro has horror references, but similar themes may be often found, including those of fear, confusion, monsters, supernatural elements, etc. Bizarro sometimes may be compared to “Weird Fiction,” though Weird Fiction seems to have subtler oddities, and not the brutally outlandish which is found in Bizarro.

Book Examples:

The Haunted Vagina by Carlton Mellick III
Shatnerquake by Jeff Burk
The Bizarro Starter Kit (Volumes Orange and Blue) edited by Eraserhead Press

Body Horror (AKA: Biological Horror)

Body horror, biological horror, organic horror, or venereal horror are associated names of a genre in which the human body itself is used as the primary device by which the audience is confronted with the horrific. The horror in these stories is principally derived from the graphic destruction or degeneration of the body and can include transformation or mutilation to the body as a way to reflect an innate fear of death or loss of control. Besides mutilation, other ideas may deal with disease, decay, parasitism, or mutation. Another type of body horror includes unnatural movements, or the anatomically incorrect placement of limbs to create ‘monsters’ out of human body parts.

Book Examples:

The Great and Secret Show by Clive Barker
Who Goes These? by John W. Campbell
A Splendid Chaos by John Shirley

*****

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

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

*****

Thanks ALSO to this blog’s sponsor: www.grammarly.com

Midnight cheers,

Eric

_________________________________

Eric J. Guignard writes dark and speculative fiction from the outskirts of Los Angeles. Assorted stories and articles that bear his byline may be found in the disreputable publications reserved for back alley bazaars. As an editor, Eric’s produced the anthologies, Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations and After Death…, the latter of which won the 2013 Bram Stoker Award®. Read his novella, Baggage of Eternal Night (a finalist for the 2014 International Thriller Writers Award), and watch for many more forthcoming books, including Chestnut ’Bo (TBP 2016). Outside of the glamorous and jet-setting world of indie fiction, Eric’s a technical writer and college professor, and he stumbles home each day to a wife, children, cats, and a terrarium filled with mischievous beetles. He’s a member of the Horror Writer’s Association, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Of America, and the International Thriller Writers. Visit Eric at: www.ericjguignard.com, his blog: ericjguignard.blogspot.com, or Twitter: @ericjguignard.

 

 

The Bailey Ryan Diaries: IMDb

emmapeelSo all of my thoughts and intentions about blogging my daily goings on have fallen by the wayside due to my hectic schedule.  When I last checked in, I mentioned I was going to give acting a try.  I really really want to say I’ve been working tons, going to casting calls, etc… but I have a day-to-day job as well (for those who don’t know, I run an entertainment company specializing in exotic bartenders, entertainment, and planning for weddings) and it seems that becoming a true working actor isn’t in the cards.

What seems to be in the cards however is a slow build of interest in me, and I’ve been cast in a commercial, a movie, and a TV show, leading to IMDb finally adding a credit for me!  It’s my first of few, but I was excited nonetheless.  I’m officially on IMDb’s radar, and that perhaps is a step in the right direction.  Or perhaps it’s nothing. I’m not really sure yet.  Either way, I can be found here:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm5808982/

Kisses!

 

***********************

 

Bailey Ryan is our resident relationship expert and senior editor. She is a syndicated columnist and the author of “Ask Her”, and has been a guest on several radio and TV programs, and has been recently been cast on a TV show and in a movie. She specializes in sexual behavior, relationship advice, and off-road jeep tech. Feel free to send any questions your heart desires to the magazine or Bailey directly, either on twitter: @chirebailey or email: BaileyRyan@mensconfidence.comhttp://www.imdb.com/name/nm5808982/

 

 

Ask Her: Why Smart Girls Are Better In Bed (and how to pick one up)

6016447741_480492d765Dear Bailey,

I’ve always been attracted to smarter girls, but I feel intimidated by them for some reason, and always end up dating girls that are shall we say… less intelligent.  How do I approach smarter girls without looking like an idiot?

Karl D. –Los Angeles, CA

  Read more

“Hannibal” – Reawakening the Public’s Psychopathic Appetite

One of the more interesting and comparatively difficult series of books to adapt remains Thomas Harris’s Hannibal series. Now the film adaptation of Silence of the Lambs was and remains a remarkable masterpiece and a personal close-held favorite. However, by the time of Brett Ratner’s Red Dragon, the Hopkins incarnation (which still remains one of the best on-screen performances) had run its course. And with the lackluster book and movie release of Hannibal Rising was the signaling of the death of the character. Which was proper. The original books of Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs were focused on the agents working the specific cases. They were very well seasoned pulp stories that had many very significant elements apart from the novels Hannibal and Hannibal Rising. The main point was that Hannibal Lector was not the main character of the first two novels. He was the part of the novels (and later the films) originally as a very eccentric psychopathic genius that loved to toy with people’s minds as if they were his puppets. But the emphasis was placed more on the killer that Hannibal was helping them catch. Read more

Book Reviews (June)

 

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

REVIEWED: Redshirts
WRITTEN BY: John Scalzi
PUBLISHED: January, 2012

On its face, Redshirts, by John Scalzi, is a successful story. Mirroring the Star Trek show, Redshirts creates an alternative explanation as to why crewmembers aboard the “Intrepid” regularly seem to die off for no reason. Geeky science fiction which is part comedic satire, part adventure, and part existential philosophy. The majority of the book (comprising about the first 85%) is a quick read, fun and fast-paced. Then Scalzi adds in three codas or “P.S.”s, afterwards, each which builds another level to the story. It’s really a unique structure which I’ve not seen commonly done, but he pulls it off and the book is increasingly better with the advancement of each of the codas. Great ending that tied everything together.

Five out of Five stars

***

REVIEWED: Finders Keepers: The Story of a Man Who Found $1 Million
WRITTEN BY: Mark Bowden
PUBLISHED: October, 2002

This is a journalistic account of the true story of Joey Coyle, an out-of-work and drug-addicted 28 year old man, who finds $1.2 million which had fallen from an armored truck. It’s a riveting drama which at turns takes twists into humor and suspense but ends, unfortunately, as a tragedy. Coyle is portrayed as an amiable man who essentially blows through much of the money in two weeks, simply by giving it away to homeless, using it on drugs, “forgetting” where he put it, and sharing it with shady businessmen and friends who find out about his fortune and begin to confront him for a piece of the loot. Add to all this, Joey increasingly uses methamphetamine (speed) which causes him paranoid delusions and crippling anxiety. Finders Keepers is sharp and well-written; a fascinating tale of an ordinary man faced with a moral dilemma, and the ensuing reactions of family, friends, neighbors, and police who become a part of his misadventures.

Five out of Five stars

***

REVIEWED: Sunset and Sawdust
WRITTEN BY: Joe R. Lansdale
PUBLISHED: January, 2005

This is classic Lansdale: Well-written, gripping, and at times poignantly funny. Sunset Jones kills her abusive husband in self-defense in the middle of a cyclone. It’s really quite symbolic as not only her home and husband are gone, but her entire life is torn apart. From the very beginning, it’s a story of her reconstructing everything around her, including her own world views. Through the assistance of her wealthy mother-in-law, Sunset becomes Sheriff of the town, a small logging camp in the 1930’s depression. One of her first orders of business is to solve a brutal double murder that her late-husband (the former Sheriff) buried. The book effortlessly cuts across genres of mystery and thriller, horror, western and humor. Lansdale, as common for him, deals with race and gender issues and takes a progressive stance against commonly held clichés. Great read overall. The only complaint was that Lansdale built up such a pair of clever and creepy villains, but then rarely used them. He needs to write a prologue story stat, just about McBride and his half-brother, Two!

Four out of Five stars

***

REVIEWED: Boy’s Life
EDITED BY: Robert R. McCammon
PUBLISHED: May, 1992

I don’t know how this book has escaped me for so long, as it was written back in 1991. This is the kind of story I wish I would have read as a teenager. Although, of course, it may not have meant as much to me then as it does now, as a father, watching my son begin his own adventures, and remembering that sense of magic and excitement that I’ve somehow lost over the years. People frequently throw the phrase around that they’ve read something that’s “one of the best things ever,” but I can truly affirm that “Boy’s Life” by Robert McCammon is one of the best books I’ve ever read.

The publisher’s description doesn’t do the book justice. It says that a young boy and his father witness a murdered man being driven into a lake, and their lives are shaken by the realization the idyllic town they live in must contain an evil person. The boy goes on to investigate the mystery and has magical adventures with his friends.

I read that and thought it sounded pretty “ho-hum,” perhaps like a glorified Hardy Boys tale. Though the murder mystery is a part of the book, it’s really just one small thread woven through an immense tapestry of gorgeous narrative. The book description doesn’t exhort the prospective reader with the amazing beauty contained within and the author’s ability for spit-shined storytelling… of course it can’t, as every book description makes such claims. The difference with this novel, is that it delivers.

“Boy’s Life” takes place in 1964 and follows the coming-of-age years of Cory Mackenson, a 12-year old in the small town of Zephyr, Alabama, who lives life as all of us once did. He plays with his friends, struggles in school, and does what his parents tell him to do. He’s at odds with the neighborhood bullies, loves his dog, and is filled to brimming with hopes and dreams and fears. He knows the world by what is taught him in a town peopled with all types of personalities; from small-minded bigots to superstitious elders to neighbors who harbor dark and strange secrets. But he’s also at the age where he’s beginning to make his own decisions about the things around him.

Through it all, Cory, like all boys, can see the magic of the world that adults cannot. There are ghosts in town, some of whom mourn their untimely passing, while others just want to play with the living. Wishes can come true if wished hard enough. Dinosaurs still live, a boy’s bicycle isn’t just an inanimate thing, and monsters appear from the shadows if you’re not careful. Death and life pass by hand-in-hand, and Cory navigates it all amongst gun-toting moonshiners, natural disasters, and an ancient woman who helps interpret the dreams he and his father have late at night.

This book is simply a priceless gem of sparkling prose. Each of Cory’s multiple adventures brought me back to the years when I experienced these things first-hand. The author has an incredible command, not only of the language of writing, but also of the heart strings of emotion. Suffice it to say, tears fell from my eyes more than once.

For example, here’s an excerpt: “I glance at her and my eyes are blessed. She wears sunlight in her blond hair like a spill of golden flowers… we smile at each other. Her hand finds mine. They were meant to be clasped together, just like this.”

Anyway, to sum it up, I absolutely loved this book. It won the World Fantasy Award when it came out, so other people loved it, too. Of course, there’s no book written that’s going to please everyone, so before picking up a copy, ask yourself this: Did you like “Stand By Me” by Stephen King? If the answer is yes, consider “Boy’s Life” as a wilder adventure, longer in page count (over 800) and filled with a bit more imagination and a lot more depth.

SIX out of Five stars (yes, that is the equivalent of 120% – it deserves it)

Midnight cheers,

Eric

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Eric J. Guignard writes dark and speculative fiction from the outskirts of Los Angeles. Assorted stories and articles that bear his byline may be found in the disreputable publications reserved for back alley bazaars. As an editor, Eric’s produced the anthologies, Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations and After Death…, the latter of which won the 2013 Bram Stoker Award®. Read his novella, Baggage of Eternal Night (a finalist for the 2014 International Thriller Writers Award), and watch for many more forthcoming books, including Chestnut ’Bo (TBP 2016). Outside of the glamorous and jet-setting world of indie fiction, Eric’s a technical writer and college professor, and he stumbles home each day to a wife, children, cats, and a terrarium filled with mischievous beetles. He’s a member of the Horror Writer’s Association, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Of America, and the International Thriller Writers. Visit Eric at: www.ericjguignard.com, his blog: ericjguignard.blogspot.com, or Twitter: @ericjguignard.