I never could watch only the start of the monster movie, the late-night Saturday creature feature. Once begun, I had to see it to the very end. I had to know the evil was ended and the horror was defeated.If I did not find out, then nightmares ensued. The night I watched John Carpenter’s original Halloween, I had to get up in the night and check the closet fifteen times. I almost didn’t survive number thirteen, nearly dying from dread, and the light stayed on for the rest of the night. I need to see that which scares me in the light of reason and hope. I need to face my fears and overcome them with mental and spiritual power. No story is ever wholly unreal, and no enemy stalks me forever without end.
(You probably can’t read it, but my magical tome contains a list of magic words, words that mean “magic”, incantations against the fear of the dark.)
One thing you can always count on when you read something by Stuart R. West is a good laugh. He has such a firm grasp on the awkwardness and life-or-death embarrassments of being a teenager in high school. I know what I’m talking about. As a teacher I have been laughing at teenage troubles for 31 years now. Tex, Olivia, Elspeth, and the gang are so realistic that I could name the kids in real life they correspond to… well, except maybe for the witch thing… and the ghost thing… and the opening the gateway to Hell thing… Oy! Two things you can always count on when you read something by Stuart is a good laugh and some utterly creepy and scary supernatural hoodoo. Yes, ghosts in the boys’ restroom… undead possession of teenage female souls… sleep spells that can save your life and electrical spells that can blow out the lights in the whole city… there’s a real creep-a-thon going on here. And there’s a little thing about an unsolved murder… Oy! Oy! Oy! Okay, Three things you can always count on when you read something by Stuart…! Yeah, there’s the whodunit factor too. I used to be pretty clever at reading Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie… I knew the solution to the mystery nine times out of… well, a thousand. But Stuart always fools me. I didn’t get this one, and I’m betting you won’t either. So… now, wait a minute! Is it four things? Five? I’m going math-challenged here! Anyway, if you know anything about good books, you will like this book, second installment in the trilogy, at least as much as I did.
This is a review of Stuart R. West’s book Tex, and the Gangs of Suburbia, available at Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Tex%2C+and+the+Gangs+of+Suburbia).
You should definitely give it a look.
So, I get this message from my writer friend Stuart West;
Well, crap, Matthew Peters tagged me in a new writer thingy. So I’m tagging five of you unlucky folks as well. Apparently it’s all about the opening sentences. So…drop the opening sentences of the first three chapters of your current WIP. Then pass on the love and agony.
*Bombing, crashing like an airplane dipping into an ocean, but worse, I couldn’t even make a splash.
*So I have a daughter. She just turned eight. She bugs the crap outta’ me with a lotta’ tough questions.
*Twenty minutes after seven, and halfway through my second cup of Sake, I began to experience the sinking feeling I’d been stood up.
Taken out of context, it does read kinda’ strange, doesn’t it? It’s called Demon With a Comb-Over. It’s complicated, it’s complicated.
Okay! Here’re the unlucky writers I’ve chosen to pester/bug/tag:
Suzanne deMontigny, Meradeth Houston, Jeff Chapman, Heather Brainerd, and Michael Beyer. Have at it, gang.
Chat Conversation End
Seen by Meradeth, Jeff, Matthew
The kind of writing I do requires a special class of character that I refer to as a clown. I revealed one already that I used in my novel Snow Babies, that character is the unsuccessful businessman Harker Dawes. He is a pratfall clown, the kind used in Three Stooges movies. He is the subject of numerous physical abuses from other characters and from his own incompetent hand. He is funny because he always seems to survive these terrible episodes, and we are really, really glad that we are not him.
The second clown from Snow Babies, and also used in the novel I am now writing, The Bicycle Wheel Genius, is a dirty old man named Cudgel Murphy. He is a Mrs. Malaprop sort of character who says things that are wickedly mistaken, but not totally unintentional. He loves to drink (drinks other than water, coffee, or sodapop), and what he drinks makes him less than sociable. His is Irish by ancestry and by temperament. He is quick to fight, and slow to forgive, but able to laugh at himself when he discovers he is in the wrong. He loves to fight verbally with his daughter-in-law, Mary Murphy, and adores her children, his grandchildren, particularly Danny Murphy and little sister Dilsey.
The great love of his life was not his wife, who apparently died fairly young as a way of escaping the evil old man. It was instead a car, a 1955 Austin Hereford, an English-made car that Cudgel routinely says is, “the finest car made anywhere in the world in 1955.” She is his baby, and he keeps her running for more than thirty years despite driving her far too fast, too far, and with all sorts of evil brews in her gas tank in place of normal gasoline.
The Paffooney shows the evil old man posing with his wonder-car in front of the Congregational Church in Norwall, Iowa. His face, though unnaturally red by both liquid and temperamental fire looks far more innocent and harmless that it really is. One never knows for sure what is on his scrappy old mind, but you can be sure it will turn out to be funny in one way or another.
Clowns are essential to the kind of fiction I like to write. Sean “Cudgel” Murphy is a good one of those. So good, in fact, I may have to kill him off in the current book. He has a tendency to take over the story and make himself a hero.
I came to an awareness of Bouguereau in the San Antonio museum of art. In the 1990′s they had one of Bouguereau’s most famous works on display upstairs in an alcove at the head of the stairway. I walked up the stairs and this painting, called Admiration hit me right between the eyes.
He was a master of figure painting in the late 1800′s. He worked in oils from live models, and may-or-may-not have used optical mirrors to transfer images onto canvas, although that sort of cheating does not account for his mastery of color, shape, composition, and form. In my humble opinion, having tried to do what he has done, he is as great a painter as Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, and Donatello. His figures are alive. Their skin looks absolutely real. Even the facial expressions suggest that the character is about to speak.
Of course, he creates nudes at a level that might get him labelled a pornographer. In fact, you have to realize that he comes from a time when salon painters were the only creators of erotic art, using biblical or mythological themes to cover the fact that they were creating nude female figures (and sometimes male nudes) to appeal to the automatic sensual response common to all living humans (well, most humans… I can’t speak to how prudery and religion can kill desire). Other painters of his day were definitely little more than the equivalent of Playboy Magazine. Still, he was able to produce images both nude and clothed that appear ready to step off the canvas and talk to you.
He lost a lot of his popularity at the beginning of the 20th Century because Renoir, Monet, and the Impressionists actively criticized his worked and divorced the perceptions of good art from the pursuit of realism. The invention of photography also took away some of the need for photo-realistic art. Still, in my studies of this particular painter, I believe I have discovered one of the greatest masters of oil of all time.
Thanks go to Suzanne Leist for sending this award to me. She has a wonderful blog at http://susanneleist.wordpress.com and it is actually versatile. My site is merely a space for uncompromising goofiness and idiocy in prose and pictures. I don’t know if that qualifies as versatile or not. As you can see by this post, I am not very far along in the process yet. I have to choose bloggers to pass it on to. Soon! I promise. Soon!
Here are the rules-for-awarding:
- Display the award on your blog
- Announce your win with a post and thank the blogger who nominated you.
- Present 15 deserving bloggers with the award.
- Link your nominees in the post and let them know of their nomination with a comment.
- Post seven things about yourself.
Seven things about me;
1. I am a published author, even though I only make about 16 dollars a year on my books so far. I have written Aeroquest, Catch a Falling Star, and hopefully will soon be publishing Snow Babies, and Superchicken.
2. I have been an English teacher in Texas public schools for 31 years and retired for the first time this last May.
3. I taught sixth, seventh and eighth graders for 24 of those 31, so that explains the goofiness.
4. I was Ruben’s, Pablo’s, Sofie’s, and Ahmed’s favorite teacher. (At least, that’s what they told me. Who knows what they were buttering me up for?)
5. I love the St. Louis Cardinals’ baseball team. (And I still love Albert Pujols, even though they tell me I’m not supposed to like him any more.)
6. I was born in Iowa during a blizzard.
7. I frequently have deja vu experiences because I have vivid dreams sometimes that come true years and even decades later (though the events rarely turn out to mean what I thought they meant when I dreamed them.)
I promise I will nominate 15 bloggers. Have I ever broken a promise? (Wait, don’t answer that!)