Thursday, January 31, 2008

It's a Pandemic of Paranormal Paranoia!

Perhaps Malaysian school girls watch The Ring too many times. Perhaps the stress of school work leads to hallucinations. Or perhaps, a campus has suddenly become the target of wildly frantic ghosts.

Yes, it's true. At Sekolah Menengah Sains Dungun in (obviously) Dungun, Malaysia, classes have been canceled and the school closed for four days.

A bomb scare? Dangerous lead levels? No. Girls screaming about ghosts chasing them.

Several students have reported a female apparition at various locations around campus. There has been such a frenzied panic among the students involved that it spread like wildfire. To avoid further incidents, the school closed its doors, sending local students home and forcing others to remain in their dorms.

To my knowledge, there has never been something quite like this on record. It began during an assembly when one girl started screaming that a ghost was in the room and seemed to be after her. From there, it was a chain reaction.

That makes me very suspicious. Mass hysteria goes happen. From my experience, ghosts suddenly appearing and terrorizing students like a scene from the movie Ghostbusters doesn't actually happen in real life. My vote is for fear and not spirits of the dead.

Perhaps someone didn't study for that exam in World History II and wanted an excuse to get out of class. If so, they found more than they bargained for...

Friday, January 25, 2008

A New Year, A New Life

I've had my interesting moment for today. I found out that in September, I'll be an uncle.

Yes, the family curse of dysfunctionality can now finally be passed along to another generation!

I knew my sister has been hoping to have a child. I guess it was a bit earlier than I expected. But of course, the best part is I can finally start feeling old! I've been so looking forward to that.

Even more importantly, I can finally earn the title "the funny uncle" (and I don't mean 'humorous'...).

What? What's wrong with me? Where's my enthusiasm?

I've just never really been a "children person", I guess. Of course I'm happy for her, though. I'm just not the type to go ga-ga (ahem) over a baby. There's no real mystery to them. They don't fall in a fiery blaze from the sky only once every thousand years. They're not a newly-discovered extinct species of plant. It's a baby. A lot of people have them! When you plant a tomato seed in the ground, people don't flock from miles around when it sprouts!

Honestly, no, I'm not a bitter person. I just don't see what the huge deal is! I don't hate children at all, mind you (well, maybe the poorly raised, idiot kids who would've had a better chance being raised by wolves than their idiot parents wandering around Wal-Mart at all hours of the night gabbing away on their cell phones, as if choosing potato chips is a national emergency that the world needs broadcast on a minute-by-minute basis). I just like to see the end result before I see if there should be some praise.

I know a single father, raising a young son in Pennsylvania. His son is an incredible kid. Polite, fun-loving, sweet. To me, that's far more worthy of praise than the unknown lying ahead.

Go ahead. Think I'm backward. But the next time you see some child shooting another child on the news, remember: his birth was praised too.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Dead Man (Still) Walking...

The literary world is a tumultuous, difficult, and stressful place. Becoming what you want to become is never as easy as you'd like it to be. Disappointment, mistakes, and failure wait around every corner... and even the best people have their share of battle wounds.

I am aware of the difficulties ahead of me. Taking the self-publishing route was a major risk. It limited my exposure, distribution possibilities, and experience with the world of mainstream books. Yet, it was ultimately my own decision. My second book is the same type of decision. Yet, with a book considered to be of local interest only, I don't feel so horrible about the choices I've made. Sure, I'd love to step back, find a legitimate publisher to take me seriously, and redo everything, but that's impossible.

I thought more about this today when reviewing a blog. It's written by Jeff Belanger, a paranormal writer who runs the website Ghostvillage. I was a member of the site for many years, and I still am, though I haven't posted more than one of two little things in the past few years. I guess I grew a bit tired of encountering the same discussions by the same people... the same mud-slinging... the same clicks.

That's what the paranormal community has always been to me: a bunch of small gangs with their own closed memberships. It's a bad flashback to high school. More time is spent arguing and trying to prove who is better than actually concentrating on ghosts and hauntings.

My interest in ghosts has always remained there, even if I've taken the occasional break to try to engage myself in the world of the living. It still is a subject I feel passionate about. I want to know more. I want to share what I've learned. It's not for the desire for fame, but more of a personal quest. Determining the line between fact and fiction and weeding out the garden of thoughts and beliefs to expose that divider. It's a puzzle... and one that I never get tired of.

Sometimes, I do feel that I'll always be "that guy who write that little nothing book". I doubt myself far too often. Still, it's better than having an over-inflated ego. As everyone says, "something will work out eventually". I just wish things were easier than that.

Sometimes, I need to remind myself that I have done things that have turned out well. My book, even with pathetically small sales, has made it to libraries all over Ohio as well as one in Florida. I've had a few mentions in local newspapers, radio stations, and blogs. I've been invited to do lectures at libraries, clubs, and social gatherings and received praise each time. Chris Woodyard, the Ohio paranormal writer who inspired me to go ghost hunting in the first place, had only positive feedback to give me about my book. I belong to a new paranormal group who respects me and (amazingly) looks up to me in some respects.

I may not be on such a cursed path after all. Yes, the road I've traveled over the last 5 years has been a horribly rough one. I've dodged burning bridges, massive sinkholes, and cracked pavement. But you know something? I'm alive. I'm breathing. I have good people in my life. That's what really matters.

So what if I'm not Stephen King? I never wanted to be that anyway.

Friday, January 18, 2008

A Book of the Dead

"Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated."
-Mark Twain

Yes, you heard correctly yesterday: I actually read a book! It has probably been two years since I've taken the time to sit down and read. Probably not so wise for a writer. Reading is just as important as practice writing.

Though I have no intentions of becoming a critic or reviewer on this journal, I felt the need to pass word on about this book and its author. It's not very often that I find myself reading at 1:00 AM, so tired that I can't remember which character is which, yet I glance ahead and tell myself, "Just one more chapter... it's a short one."

I hunted it down after first hearing about it somewhere. I had to look in a few bookstores before finding it. And then what did I do? I glanced at the first two lines, told myself I'd read it next, and forgot it for two years.
Deadline, by Steven Cooper, has to be one of the funniest books I've read in quite some time. You wouldn't think a story about a murdered gay investigative reporter who loathes his job could be funny, yet it is. Just because Damon Fitzgerald finds himself dead, that doesn't mean he's ready to give up on the bigger story. In his view from the afterlife, he recounts the events of his life, personal observations, and glimpses of the afterlife in a celestial version of heaven.

It's very fast-paced... and one of the few books I've (literally) read within a 24-hour period. I have to laugh, though... the author is an Emmy award-winning investigative reporter living in Orlando, Florida. It makes me wonder if he's ever felt these things toward his job. He's also the author of two other books: With You in Spirit and Saving Valencia. I've read reviews of both of them and they are certainly on my "to get" list.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Party's Over...

Who cares about the brushfires? The Australian state of Victoria has bigger concerns: a 16-year-old who has made global headlines for throwing an out-of-control party in Melbourne.

Corey Delaney (a.k.a. Corey Worthington) decided to throw a party last weekend while his parents were in Queensland. He sent out invites via MySpace... and ended up having over 500 guests show up. Drinking and debauchery ensued, and the police were called. The drunken party-goers pelted police vehicles with glass beer bottles. A helicopter and canine unit were finally called to the scene to break up the insanity.

Corey stated that he didn't know what the problem was. He even said that he'd throw another party just like it if his parents went out of town this coming weekend. His parents are both embarrassed and furious... and facing fines from the police.

Corey (who apparently doesn't realize how "metrosexual" he looks) was offered a job by a promoter after his little party. Luckily, the media is showing him for the twit he really is. In a radio interview, the host even tried to rip off his obnoxious-looking sunglasses.

After his 15 minutes of fame, he's finally gone into hiding... probably because of the charges he's facing: among them property damage and child pornography (I don't even want to know about that last bit). The AU$10,000 he was offered by the promoter would only cover half of the damages racked up so far.

Kids these days... I swear.

Now let's move on from this over-covered piece... just think about the world's only blue-eyed koala instead...