Brown River Queen cover art

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Things That Go Bump, Part II

As I predicted in last night's blog, the SyFy show 'Haunted Collector' embodied the usual TV ghost-hunting show tropes and followed the same format as all the others.  You got your obligatory green night-vision shots, your whispered EVPs, your standard mis-use of infrared FLIR cameras.

I was wholly underwhelmed.  I can usually suspend my disbelief long enough to at least enjoy the shows as sheer entertainment, but when the team 'discovered' a box beneath the house (which held a mud-encrusted revolver) I lost all interest.  I haven't seen acting that wooden since Howdy Doody.

Maybe I'm being too hasty in my judgment of the show.  Could be I'm just waxing cynical in general.

In other news, The Banshee's Walk hits the shelves in print form on June 7!  Banshee was showing on Amazon as a pre-order up until today.  Now it shows 'in-stock' but there's only 1 copy left!  So go ahead and order that one.  Amazon will re-stock on June 7.

Or you can get your copy from Samhain, the publisher, at the same low price.

Either way, just get one!  Markhat needs a new pair of shoes.  Mama Hog needs dental work.

Here's a cover, which is loaded with subliminal buying instructions.  Do not look away...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Things That Go Bump

Pick just about any broadcaster.  Odds are, you'll find a ghost hunting show.  A&E has 'Paranormal State.'  SyFy has the venerable 'Ghost Hunters.'  Even Animal Planet has gotten into the act with 'The Haunted.'

Now, when the execs at Animal Planet decided to go with a show based on the paranormal, you know the trend has truly peaked.  'The Haunted' quit even pretending to have an animal-centric point of view after the first few episodes.  Now they just throw in a brief shot of a cat every now and then before getting back to the haint o' the week.

Every show has its own slant.  'Paranormal State' usually brings everything back to demons.  They're in your cupboards, in your closets, under your beds.  If you move the demons Google you and show up in a couple days pissed because you bought a split-level ranch and they hate stairs.  If you stay the demons invite all their old college buddies over and before you know it the whole place stinks of brimstone and nobody can get a decent night's sleep for all the head-spinning and bed-shaking.

'Ghost Hunters' doesn't generally play the demon card.  Instead, they tend to focus on EVPs, the ever-popular but utterly un-provable 'I'm being touched,' and the odd instance of a door opening or a chair moving all by itself.  Most of the time, Jay and Grant depart after assuring the property owner that they're in no danger.  I get the feeling Jay and Grant have been doing their show so long they're absolutely bored with it now.  A ten-foot-tall spectre glowing with the intensity of a thousand 747 landing lights and bellowing in the voice of Satan probably wouldn't rate more than a 'huh, that's unusual' from Jay, these days.

'The Haunted' always starts small.  A bump in the night.  Something moved a few inches.  The sound of voices  down the hall.  But before the second round of commercials, the activity has reached full-blown bleeding-walls/flies in the Holy Water/Amityville heights and the terrified homeowners invariably contact a 'local paranormal research group' for help.  What happens next varies -- sometimes it's a restless but benign spirit, sometimes its a demon on vacation from the set of 'Paranormal State.'  In the case of the latter, Holy Water is flung, Latin is read, and we fade to a scene of a 'changed' house and some soothing credits music.

Tonight SyFy debuts a new paranormal show, 'Haunted Collector.'  So now if your house isn't haunted, your collectible figurines are, which quite frankly serves you right for collecting figurines in the first place.  I haven't seen the show, but I will make a few bold predictions concerning its format and subject matter:
  • There will be frequent use of green IR night vision shots.
  • Cut-aways will occur during pivotal displays of supernatural activity.
  • Dolls.  There will be lots of dolls.  Because what could possibly be creepier when filmed in grainy green IR night-shot than a roomful of brooding dolls?
  • EVP evidence will play a major role in the presentation of evidence. 
Those are my predictions.  If I score less than three out of four I'll wear white shoes after Labor Day.

I've dabbled in the field of ghost hunting myself.  I've even captured a few EVP recordings that are quite interesting.  So I'm not a hard-core 'unbeliever.'

I just find the recent proliferation of such shows amusing, that's all.  Mainly because I realize they live or die by ratings, and let's face it -- if the ghosts don't put on a show, the network has a vested interest in using a few tight-lipped production assistants to fill in where the dear departed failed.

Which is what led me to try recording my own EVPs in the first place.  I knew how easy they'd be to fake, and I saw how easy the shows made it appear to capture them.  So, I reasoned, if I go out a few dozen times and come back with nothing, well, it's clear what's going on.

I captured a reasonably clear EVP my first time out.  In a cemetery.  

How cliche.  You ghosts out there -- show some imagination!  A cemetery?  Seriously?  What's next, white sheets?  Rattling chains?

Still, I heard what I heard.  I can't explain it.  Even so, I refuse to even label the voices as those of 'ghosts.'  And until someone can absolutely rule out all other possible sources, I won't.

But there are plenty of people who will.  Their shows are fun to watch -- but bring the proverbial grain of salt.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Monday Horoscopes, Special Dismemberment Edition

This week's horoscopes are brought to you by stars 61 Cygni, Tau Ceti, and Struve 2398!  On behalf of all the nearby celestial bodies, they'd like to --

Oh.  Oh my.  That's truly disgusting.  What?  With an anvil?

-- wait, I really can't say that.  What have you people been doing to the stars lately, anyway?

I'd best just get on with it.  So, without further ado, here are your horoscopes for the next week:

ARIES (March 21-April 20)
Sure, the seat belts might not save you, but they will speed up identification of your remains.

TAURUS (April 21 - May 20)
No one believed the tiger was real, until you proved it by sneezing.

GEMINI (May 21 - June 20)
Some days you win, some days the meat grinder just won't turn off.

CANCER (June 21 - July 22)
Be glad you're one of the few people who can truly rock the armless sweater look.

LEO (July 23 - August 22)
Sadly, your doctor's calm assurances that flesh-eating bacteria infections are rare will prove overly optimistic.

VIRGO (August 23 - September 23)
You'll hardly even miss those four ribs, except on cold days, or times when you need to bend or lean.

LIBRA (September 24 - October 23)
It's not whether you win or lose, unless your opponent is a crazed serial cannibal.  Then it probably matters.  Too bad about your toes.

SCORPIO (October 24 - November 21)
It's a myth you need both ears to hold up sunglasses.  But as you will learn, you do in fact need a nose.

SAGITTARIUS (November 22 - December 21)
They say life will never burden you with more than you can bear.  But they never tried to push a flaming snack truck off their torso, did they?

CAPRICORN (December 22 - January 19)
When Life hands you lemons, make lemonade!  You'll struggle to apply this axiom next Tuesday during the mishap with the gaseous cyanide.

AQUARIUS (January 20 - February 19)
Hospitals make mistakes all the time, and anyway you're left with one perfectly good kidney, Mister Whiney Britches.

PISCES (February 20 - March 20)
Even autopsy techs need a good laugh at work now and then, and you'll certainly provide them with that, as soon as the ice around your torso melts away.

Well of course they'll look in the crawlspace.  Do you even have basic cable?  Sheesh.  I don't even know why I bother.