Friday, January 30, 2009

Just Another Freaky Friday...

Sheesh. What a day I've been having. I can't seem to remember for more than 30 minutes which day it is (they say the mind is the first thing to go...). On the bright side, by sheer accident, I found the wine opener I believed I had lost months ago. It was sitting in plain sight glaring at me. Mocking me.

Evil shiny metal objects.

I also decided to get a head start on my birthday in April and get myself one gift I've wanted for a very long time (as in about 12 years, give or take). After much difficulty, I placed the order yesterday only to find out today that it won't be available until some time in April. Coincidence? Not letting that stop me, I toiled to find another one... only to go back to the original store (and cause some grief to the woman, only two weeks into the job... poor girl) and substitute for a slightly similar choice available now. Why not wait? Well, there are two reasons for my haste, but both would give away what it is.

So what is it then, you ask? I'm not telling for one week. But don't fret. I'll give you five clues. Yes, I'm forcing you to think about it. So, here you go... your hints to ponder:

1. It started in 1849.
2. The very first owner shared a name with a carbonated beverage.
3. It can be 'stingy'.
4. It owes some of its mystique to a famous Belgian painter.
5. 'That's another fine mess you've gotten me into.'

That should be sufficient enough to give most of you the answer. Otherwise, you'll just have to wait...

"The Power of Christ Compels You!"

And here I thought that uncomfortable warmth inside was only heartburn...

What's really frightening is that some people actually believe this. Not possible, you say? Well, for some irritating, mind-boggling, and insane reading, check out what a British exorcist has to say.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

"I'm Here to Make Sure You Don't Say Anything Controversial..."

An interesting thought was expressed back in December on a blog, Ghost Theory, about my website. One of the stories of a gay ghost was pulled out from the bunch and brought into the limelight. The story, of a ghost said to pull down the zipper of male employees, raised questions and concerns of reinforcing stereotypes and being a bit off-color.

To be honest, I know some people will see it as ammunition reinforcing their views that gay men are loathsome creatures hellbent on seducing any male in their vicinity. But others will have a good laugh about it. Some may even find it fascinating. In fact, each person who reads about it will take away from it something different. That's the beauty of individualistic thought.

Some could say that I should eliminate it. That it's too "negative" for the gay community. I can't find it within myself to do that. I'm not a fan of censorship. to do so would be an attempt to paint a perfect, idealistic view of the community free of anything bad or "distasteful" (as some may say). But that's not reality. It's not true. Just look around at the world: there are murderers, rapists, thieves, and rogues in every walk of life, every sector of society. In every category we create for ourselves (rich, poor, black, white, Russian, American, gay, straight, etc.), there are good, bad, or ugly people. Why pretend they don't exist?

Perhaps there's a little James Whale in me: the sarcastic oh-dear-I'll-never-work-in-this-town-again attitude of non-conventional thought. Personally, I don't see anything wrong with that. I ruffle a lot of feathers and I'm not always politically correct. But there is only one way not to offend anyone: never say anything. Never express an opinion. Never have a viewpoint. Never hold any convictions.

I am sometimes guilty of being a fence-sitter and not taking sides or joining a rally cry. That happens when I either a) don't have enough information to form an opinion; or b) see the gunfighting getting downright dangerous and would prefer to stay out of the crossfire. In those cases, I try to keep my opinions to myself. They are rare instances, but they do happen. More often I treat everything with a healthy dose of humor. This is often directed at both sides. In most instances of life, there is no "right side" to be on. There is truth to be found in all sides of most arguments.

I have always taken great pride in being unique, seeing outside the box, and not conforming to the mainstream world around me. I like what I like because I enjoy it, not because anyone wants me to like it. And that view expresses itself in all aspects of my life. My tastes range from the traditional to the bizarre, which is probably why I gravitate toward the paranormal. It goes without saying that even in the supernatural vein, I aim for the strange. But I make no apologies for that. I like paving new paths and marching to my own dysfunctional drummer inside my head. I giggle at what makes some people cringe. I thrill in the pursuit of the weird.

And so, horny ghosts stay in my work. I make jibes at people not for being different, but for turning a sunken dinghy into the Titanic. I point out unusual things unknown to many. And that's all a part of who I am. As Bette Davis once said, "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Stories of the Strange...

I have missed quite a lot of odd news over the past month. Luckily, there's a never-ending supply of the odd around our planet. Here are just a few strange stories from various news wires.

Are Curses Really Talent?

Simon Cowell is the man everyone seems to love to hate. Now, he's upset the wrong girl on the wrong day. While filming an episode of Britain's Got Talent, one contestant took her dismissal a bit too seriously. She returned to the stage, placing a hex on all the judges, stating, "You're all doomed." Following the witchy woman's departure, the crew experienced the worst session ever. But was it the curse or just a lack of talent in Birmingham?

A Predestined Payoff...

Jorma Hogbacka, a 60-year-old retired welder from Ontario, is now $14.5 million dollars richer. But the St. Catharines man isn't at all surprised. A psychic told him he would be rich beyond his wildest dreams just four years ago. Hogbacka doesn't have any major plans for the money and says he feels like it's "another day, except I have a big cheque." Surele he won't be the ony one cashing in on this bit of luck. if the psychic comes forward, she undoubtedly stands to make her own windfall.

Strangers in the Night...

While singer Robbie Williams is hunting UFOs, something strange has been happening in the comfort of his own home. On numerous occasions, Williams has awakened to find cuts and scratches on his back. The marks generally disappear within a few days, but he didn't think it strange until mentioning it to friends recently. Some people have suggested it to be encountered with demons, ghosts, or succubi. Or perhaps he simply rolled over on his cat in the middle of the night...

Smudge Them Out...

After the past eight years of Bush and Cheney in the White House, there is probably more than a little bad karma left over within its walls. But not anymore: last Monday, hundreds of people met at Dupont Circle to burn some white sage. The act, known as smudging, follows shamanic/Native American tradition of dispersing negative energy from an area. As the crowd sang "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye", wafts of the pungent smoke drifted toward 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to rid it of "evil spirits." Fortunately, the evil entities had already vacated the building...

Cream, Sugar, or Spooks?

British scientists believe they've found a clue to explaining paranormal activity by the cup full. A Durham University study of 216 coeds this month revealed that students drinking large quantities of caffeine (at least seven cups per day) are more prone to hearing unexplained voices. According to the researchers, caffeine consumption could have an effect on schizophrenic hallucinations, though they could not confirm repeatable tests or that participants actually consumed the levels of caffeine stated in the study. Really. Over two hundred college students claim caffeine is their one vice that leads to hallucinations? I find that hard to swallow...

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Flame to Light Your Way...

A good many people take their ghosthunting seriously. And others... well, they can't avoid finding the humor behind it all.

Some of you who have watched Most Haunted may remember sensitive Ian Shillito from his appearances in Series 8. Now, the openly gay paranormal investigator has formed London Paranormal. The organization holds tours, gives lectures, and launched the 'London Ghost Festival' last year.

But that's not all. He is also the co-creator of a troop called the Scary Mary's. And yes, they are what you think they are: gay men in search of spooks. Combining a paranormal show's overuse of night vision with a healthy dose of laughter, it's not your typical investigating. It's all about the fun, the bits which normally end up on a cutting room floor. And with names such as "Wampy", "Stella Bagwash", "Waynetta Shillito", "Pooh Bear", and "Steele Magnolia" you can tell it's all about the fun.

Without further ado, I bring you an investigation of the pink sort at Harwich Redoubt Fort:

Part I

Part II

Back to the Insanity...

This month, I have learned a valuable lesson: never decide to drop everything to punch out chapters in assembly line fashion! Why? For one, cutting off from everyone around you means major withdrawal worse than a nicotine addiction and leads to a major depression. And secondly, it doesn't work. You can't force out decent writing on a set eight-hour schedule. Research ebbs and flows, just as the writing does.

I have managed to put a large dent in my work load, but it's been funny how phone calls out of the blue have been such a major relief. I'd fail miserably at being a hermit; I need human interaction. I write better when my world is a bit busier with the regular chaos of juggling schedules and being pestered by people who I want to talk to... and even the ones I don't want to talk to!

So, it looks like I'm back to normal, for the most part. I'll be picking up the blog again (mainly because I need something to laugh at after reading so much about dead people suffering from acute melancholia) and opening up my free time to include anything else that comes my way. If I could pound out a dozen chapters while blogging and socializing this past summer, I sure as heck can manage in the depths of depressing winter. Even more so, since the gray, frigid gloom of Ohio is beyond taxing on my mental health.

Come fall, published book or no, I'm taking a vacation. Mark my words...

So, tomorrow I'll be digging back through my news bookmarks, looking up some weird, stupid moments in humanity, nitpicking at ghosts and those who investigate them, and doing my best to find fun and humor everywhere. Why? Because we're strange creatures who take ourselves far too seriously...

... and someone needs to remind us about it.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The History of Relativity...

As I plod ahead with my writing and research, I've realized something: our information-filled society is both a blessing and a curse. Last weekend's fervent search for information on one location proved futile and the chapter has been dropped. While a book adamantly declared a historic figure to be gay, there was overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

That's the biggest struggle I have with this book: research. I like to be thorough, yet so many things in history are contradictory. Our history is a collection of opinions overshadowing facts. While one line of research heads in one direction, others lead away from it. Often, what we are taught about our history isn't what is true; it is what we want to believe.

Take the Puritans, for example. From earliest American History classes, we have a picture in our minds of the landing at Plymouth Rock. But what we envision isn't always reality. The sad truth which is absent from those history books is why they landed there. It wasn't some glorious moment of revelation. The weary travelers were out of beer and needed to find land fast to build a still. Plymouth was the first plot of earth they found... so their alcoholic desires were granted. Not so pretty, eh? Well, history isn't pretty. It's honest.

Sorting through piles of information is slowing down my writing. But I'd rather be behind on a few chapters and be accurate than ahead of schedule and full of misinformation. I have new notes to take, revisions to make on chapters written this week, and tons of papers to file. In one week, I have emptied an entire printer cartridge on printed research. Book excerpts, notes, etc. Some was a waste of paper. But in the grand scheme of things, nothing is a waste. Every misstep leads closer to truth.

My greatest irritation is the sheer lack of information on some ghostly tales. One chapter dealing with Nevada has yielded but one paragraph of research. The further I dig, the more empty bedrock I hit. I have a feeling that chapter might be extremely short, but I refuse to give up entirely. Other chapters have too much information, so there will be stark contrasts in length. But we shall see what the final product becomes.

Otherwise, the bitter cold weather hasn't dampened my spirits. I took the time to read a few books and short stories here and there (reading always helps inspire me to write) and watch a few classic movies late at night after my eyes were too sore from staring at a computer screen for too long. Today, I have dozens of pages of printed material to read and take notes on. Afterward I should hopefully be able to complete two more chapters. Then it's on with more of the same for the coming weeks...

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Morlock Days Continue...

Yes, 'tis I... back from the grave.

Well, sort of. Nearly. In a manner of speaking.

I decided to take a momentary pause from my writing and say that I am indeed alive and (relatively) well. I've been battling the occasional bout of writer's block while pushing forth to finish this book in record time. Some of the chapters are ending up shorter than I had hoped, but honestly... would people be happier if I droned on needlessly? I doubt it. Besides, there's always room for editing and tacking on later. The sooner I finish the chapter drafts, the sooner the editing and finagling can begin.

I set a goal of five chapter drafts for this week. After a late start, I'm down to the last one... but I have a large mound of reading to tackle before typing away at it. And I'm not going to stop there: if I can surpass my goal, it's even better. It's cold and miserable outside, so I really have nothing better to be doing with my time anyway!

On that note, I'm exhausted. Looks like I might be doing my nightly movie-and-hot-cocoa routine once more. That and bracing for the expected winter storm this weekend...