Saturday, October 25, 2008

Stop Reusing Catheters

If the TV's on at our house, chances are it's tuned to MSNBC. The drone of liberal voices and images creates a soothing background that calms me down and makes me feel less alone in the world.

But lately, this commercial has been appearing a lot. If I'm not able to skip it, I have to change channels or leave the room. It never fails to make me cringe.

I don't know why this poor woman has to re-use catheters. I hope I never do. Just the idea of catheters is upsetting enough. Thinking about them boiling away in the same pot I use to cook spaghetti and drying on my kitchen counter makes me shudder way down deep in my soul.

The actress -- and I pray she is an actress, not a real customer -- delivers an earnest performance of what is at best an uncomfortable and embarrassing script. Her southern accent brings me hope that reusing catheters is something that only happens to other people, in other parts of the country.

The shot at the end brings out the film student in me. In it, our heroine's life has been improved. We first see her squatting down in a field. Then a cat runs up to her, which she pets. She and the cat seem pleased with the state of affairs. You do the math.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Family Barbecue

News from California today about a mother and son team who cremated their mother/grandmother this past December in a homemade barbecue pit.

Afterward, they continued to cash her retirement checks, eventually collecting approximately $25,000. Both were arrested and are in custody.

Additional reports say the daughter, 50-year-old Kathleen Allmond of Tehama County, California, constructed a necklace from parts of her mother's skull.

In related news, as part of the research I'm doing for a novel, I interviewed a funeral director earlier this week. During our conversation he confessed that ever since entering this line of work, he's been unable to eat ribs.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"The Horror Library" Volume 3 Arrives in Time for Halloween

A few days ago the editors of The Horror Library Vol. 3 wrote to let me know that the book is at the printers and scheduled for release in time for Halloween.

Am I excited? You have no idea. I'll be appearing with much better-known authors such as Gary Braunbeck, Michael Arnzen, Kealan Patrick Burke, Kurt Dinan and a bunch of others I'd be too shy to introduce myself to at a convention.

But I digress.

The editors also sent along a nifty animated GIF banner. Unfortunately I can't get it to work here on Blogger, so a link to the page will just have to do.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Things Could Be Worse

It's been a rough week for investors, people who work for a living, retirees, Republicans and anyone who either has money or needs it.

But after considering recent events, I realized that even though things are bad, they could could be worse.

Zombies could be roaming our streets and shopping malls, for example.

And this one could be president.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Watch This One

This is Neel Kashkari, the 35-year-old former Goldman Sachs vice president who's been tapped by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to head up distribution of the $700 billion from the Wall Street bailout program.

All criticisms aside about Washington cronyism (Paulson once worked at Goldman Sachs as well) or foxes guarding the hen house...

Is it just me, or does dude have some crazy eyes?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Financial Terrorists

Stocks dropped all last week while Congress debated passage of the Wall Street bailout... oh, I'm sorry, economic rescue plan.

But now that $700 billion has been cleared for take-off, stocks continue to drop. As of this writing, the Dow was below 10,000 for the first time in four years.


According to a story this morning from the Associated Press, "The markets have come to the sobering realization that the Bush administration's $700 billion rescue plan won't work quickly to unfreeze the credit markets, and that many banks are still having difficulty gaining access to cash."

In other words, it took only one weekend -- coincidentally the weekend after the "rescue" plan was passed -- for the markets to come to the sobering realization that $700 billion either isn't going to be enough, or that it won't hit their balance books fast enough to avoid the catastrophe they said was imminent if they didn't get $700 billion?

And no one -- NOT ONE SINGLE WALL STREET EXECUTIVE OR GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL? -- had the foresight to see this?

With geniuses like this at the helm, it's no wonder our financial system is in shambles.

You know what? Henry Paulson, Ben Bernanke, and every other financial terrorist on Wall Street had better watch out, because it's looking like circumstances are ripe for a good old-fashioned witch burning.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Fatal Error

As part of a novel I'm writing, I'm researching care-giving and end-of-life issues. has turned out to be an excellent resource for this.

The site supports individuals either caring for someone with terminal illness or recovering from their death. Understandably, one often becomes the other.

Reading the message boards, where husbands and wives and children pour out their fears and frustrations, it's obvious the site has become the hub of a close-knit community and is helping a lot of people come to terms with their grief.

Unfortunately, the site is undergoing some renovations, and when I clicked on the Funerals topic, I got the error message pictured above. Click on the photo to see if for yourself.

I'm sure no one at purposefully worded the error message in just that way, or chose to pair it with what is obviously intended to be the main page graphic. They're probably not even aware users are getting this message.

But given the site's purpose in general, and the topic I clicked on specifically, it struck me as one of those rare so-awful-it's-funny things. Almost.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


1991; written and directed by E. Elias Merhige

Begotten isn't frightening because it contains violence and gore, even though there's plenty of both. Begotten is frightening because every image and sound within it is so alien. It almost seems impossible that the film was created by a human being on planet Earth, and yet, you know it was. And it's terrifying.

The synopsis does about as much justice to the film as describing the Mona Lisa as a picture of a woman smiling. But here it is just the same. "God disembowels himself with a straight razor. The spirit-like Mother Earth emerges, venturing into a bleak, barren landscape. Twitching and cowering, the Son Of Earth is set upon by faceless cannibals."

Every word is true, but falls far short of actually experiencing Begotten for yourself. Shot in the grainiest of black and white, and accompanied by a soundtrack made up primarily of nature sounds (and not a bit of dialog) Begotten seems more like a nightmare burned directly onto film than a mere motion picture.

Occasionally compared to David Lynch's Eraserhead -- the way one might compare hard-core porn to a Harlequin romance -- Begotten can be confounding and frustrating. But surrender to its bizarre rhythms and imagery and you'll find yourself in a new world, one that distorts your view of the real one long after the film's 78 minutes are done.

(Another apt comparison would be to the videotape in The Ring. Both share a similar style of images and editing techniques, and I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the makers of The Ring were influenced by Begotten.)

I don't expect you to add Begotten to your Netflix queue based on my recommendation alone. So take a look at the clip below. It's ten minutes long, but you should know by the end of the first whether Begotten is something you want inside your head. Because once you see it, that's exactly where it will stay.

(Some images may not be safe for work.)