The Importance of Bricks

A small history post to prepare you for another holiday event, New Year’s Eve. World War I was a miserable time to be a soldier for everyone involved. Trenches were a disaster that created frozen stalemates between opposing forces and the emphasis is on frozen there. However, trenches and air combat would highlight the importance of bricks.

I’m sure everyone just said “um, what?” Yep, the importance of bricks. If all the powers had been shipping truckloads of bricks, we would have had far fewer necessary amputation surgeries as a result of frostbite, which would have saved a lot of lives. In the final year of the war, a trench dug in France was dug near a brickmaker.

To help out the non-German forces, he gave all the bricks he could to the soldiers in the trenches. And the soldiers lined the walls and the ground with the bricks. It was possibly the warmest trench around and the bricks channeled the water away from their feet, preserving their feet from being both wet and damp in the trench and resulting in fewer cases of frostbite.

Also, the bricks could be heated and used to generate warmth for longer periods of time than just a wood fire provided. Turns out a brick lined trench is much cozier than a regular trench.

But it wasn’t limited to the trenches. There was a new invention that came around in time for WWI, the airplane. However, the usefulness of it was limited. It was reserved for spying. However, by the middle of the war, both sides had started packing bricks, bottles, and anything else they could manage into the floor compartments where they stuck their feet.

The second guy in the plane would hurl these makeshift missles out at other airplanes and at enemy platoons below. Eventually, all pilots were issued handguns with extra ammo and enemies began shooting at each other with these.

It would be WWII before airplanes with mounted guns were used in air combat. Of course another big change would occur in airplane manufacturing between WWI and WWII. They would go from being built of wood and paper to metal skins over metal frames. These heavier frames and skins, were what allowed them to have guns mounted on them.

And that is how something as simple as a brick could and did change the face of warfare.

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The Creation of the Grim Reaper

Most countries settled by Europeans have the figure we know as the Grim Reaper ingrained into their culture.  The Grim Reaper, also known as the personification of death has its origins in the early Middle Ages.  As a matter of fact, one can trace it all the way back to the days of the Black Death – the Bubonic Plague pandemic that killed roughly half the European population.

This blog post could easily end right here, of course the personification of death was a prevalent theme of the 1300s, everyone was dying.  But then the importance of the Grim Reaper to history would be left out.  

The first known appearance of the black clad figure holding a scythe comes from Germany.  It was reported that a tall gaunt figure dressed in a black monk’s robe and hood was standing in a field swinging a scythe above a field of crops and everyone that ate the crops from that field developed the Black Death.

Which is interesting, because epidemiological research has proven the normal carrier method of Bubonic Plague would not have spread it so far and wide.  Somehow, the Black Death became communicable person to person via the air, which is not how it normally spreads.  In other words, it spread like a cold or influenza.  This is why it is considered a highly virulent and communicable form of bubonic plague, a mutation that made it more deadly and that did not require a zoological host such as a rat or rather a flea from a rat to transmit it.

The idea that these black clad figures were the cause of the Black Death traveled out from Germany to the rest of the continent as the plague spread.  It became such a mainstream idea that the Grim Reaper continues as part of the collective conscious seven hundred years later. 

I’ve heard an Ancient Alien theory that suggests the Grim Reaper was actually an alien race spreading plague on Earth to control the population explosion that was happening in the 1200s and 1300s. I’ve also heard the theory that the Grim Reaper was the antithesis of the Mothman.  Theoretically, Mothman comes to warn of potential mass deaths, while the Grim Reaper comes to cause them.    

Instances of Mothman not connected to the Silver Bridge

I spoke earlier this week about Mothman and that he is not native to Point Pleasant, nor is that the only place he’s been seen.  He appeared off and on to residents of Point Pleasant, WV in the year preceding the collapse of the Silver Bridge.  The Silver Bridge had passed its last inspection when it suffered a structural failure in December 1967 , killing 46 people.  I also mentioned that as of 2017, there have been more than 100 sightings of him in Chicago, many coming in 2018.  Finally, I mentioned he is thought to foretell disasters and that there were reports of him around Pripyat, Ukraine in 1985, the year before the meltdown at Chernobyl.  Here’s some other post 1968 sightings of Mothman.

Between September 6 and 10, 2001, there were two dozen reports of Mothman being seen around the campus of the World Trade Center in New York City.  At least seven of those reports exist within the files of the NYPD, proving two things; they truly did exist before the attacks on September 11, 2001 and that at least some people who saw the creature were concerned enough to alert the New York City Police Department.  

For a month in 2007, a Mothman like creature was reported to be hanging out near 1-35 in Minneapolis.  Reports were prolific enough that it made the news in late July.  As a matter of fact, there were so many reports, that the Minnesota Conservation department put out a reward for a crane or heron of abnormally large size, deciding that the creature had to be a heron or a crane that was being misidentified possibly due to a deformity.  On August 1, 2007 a bridge on I-35 collapsed killing 13 and injuring more than 130 others.  

Now, for the largest mass sighting.  In August 1985, in a single day, more than 50 citizens of Pripyat, Ukraine reported to their Soviet leaders in Pripyat that a large bat like creature had been seen near Chernobyl, a nuclear power plant run by the Soviet Union.  The group made up of both private citizens and members of the Soviet government had been attending some sort of event near Chernobyl although the Russian and Ukrainian governments did not say what sort of event when they released the papers.  Less than a year later, on April 16, 1986 reactor 4 at the nuclear power plant would suffer a catastrophic failure during a safety test that would lead to one of the worst nuclear disasters ever.

Finally, in April 2009 multiple people reported seeing Mothman in Mexico.  He was witnessed by nearly every resident of a village in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico.  And by the end of 2009, La Junta was a terribly hard hit village by the Swine Flu Pandemic of 2009.  The first cases of the highly virulent and mutated strain of H1N1 flu virus were found in Veracruz, Mexico.  There is 900 miles between Veracruz a wealthy state in the Southern Gulf Region of Mexico and the state of Chihuahua which borders the US.  When the first sightings of Mothman came in, Swine Flu had not yet reached Chihuahua.  Perhaps it is telling however, that his first appearance was in a cemetery in La Junta, Mexico.

A bonus piece of information, in 1931 a human-batlike creature (this predates tales of Batman, just FYI) was seen in Oświęcim, Poland.  Sightings were infrequent and only a few accounts still exist.  Loren Coleman who has extensively researched the subject believes sightings ended in March 1939, after the start of WWII.  In the last months of 1939, construction would begin on the most diabolical concentration camp built by the Nazis – Auschwitz-Birkenau.  The location is just south of the Polish city of Oświęcim.  

And now, he’s been reported by 100s of people in Chicago, IL since 2017.  As a harbinger of doom, it makes one wonder about traveling to Chicago anytime soon.  I will report on the first apparent sighting.  In July 2017, a bouncer working a club reported that he stepped away from the buildings because a large plane was going overhead at what he thought was a considerably low altitude.  He said that underneath it, he saw a winged batlike human flying.  It startled him so much that he reported it to the security guard on duty, who was an off duty Chicago police officer and the security guard managed to come out in time to corroborate his story.  Most reports seem to come from the areas around Lake Michigan and Navy Pier, although some have come in from downtown and a few neighborhoods located in downtown Chicago.  

Skeptics are blaming the film industry, as the Dark Knight trilogy sets Gotham in Chicago, not New York as traditionally portrayed (although Gotham is a fictional place created by DC comics that was an amalgam of New York, Chicago, and Pittsburgh).  

Another source says he’s been chronicling flying mothman like hominids in Chicago for more than a decade and they don’t mean anything except there is something weird going on in Chicago.  

Linguistics

I recently mentioned I was working my way through all the Agatha Christie novels.  I don’t read a lot of books set in the 1910s and 1920s.  It was an important era, but just not one of my favorites.  I read classics much older and newer pop novels, those are where my reading interests lean.  I haven’t been physically reading them, but listening to the audiobooks.  And the audiobooks make me more aware of the linguistics of the era.  

For example, a common phrase at the time was “my girl,” but the stress on that phrase makes it sound very unlike “my girl” from the 1950s and 1960s.  I don’t know that I can verbally explain it, but essentially the stress is not on “my” as it is in for example the song by the Temptations.  As a matter of fact, after much pondering on it, I’m not sure there is any stress within the short two word phrase, which may explain why it sounds so odd to my ears every time it is said.  Also, it is said as if it were one word, another factor in the sound

After all the Miss Marple books, 4 Hercule Poirot books, and 2 stand alone novels by Agatha Christie, I have decided I really like the phrase and it should make a comeback.  This means my best friend may have to suffer a bit with me calling her “my girl.”  

Anyway, the point is literature is an amazing look at linguistics for a time period.  Modern pop novels (which is essentially what Christie wrote) will no doubt provide words like “sick” – meaning awesome or terrible – and “bae.”  

It isn’t just dependent on the words and phrases, but how they are said, like the example I started this post with. And it’s about regional differences, while “my girl” was popular in the 1910s and 1920s in England it was not common in the US, Canada, or Australia among English speakers.  But was common in France, spoken in both English and French among a predominantly French speaking population. 

Before you give yourself a headache considering why it was popular in France but not in other English speaking countries, it’s about location.  Despite the existence of a water barrier between England and France, the two countries are only separated by 23 miles.  It was much easier for Brits to holiday in northern France after WWI than in any of the English speaking countries mentioned.  And so French speakers picked up English slang, just as Brits picked up French slang.  We see this happen in more modern times as well.  I was surprised when I learned that Germans swear in English more than German because it is considered less rude.  But historically speaking, it makes sense.  With the occupation of Germany by the Allied Powers after WWII, Germans were in contact with numerous English speakers (Brits, Canadians, Americans, even Australians to a lesser degree) all resided within the borders of Germany.  BAOR and Ramstein Air Force Base still bring thousands of English speakers into Germany.  As a matter of Fact BAOR (which is an acronym not a name) is the largest British military base outside of  UK borders and Ramstein is still strategically important to the US Air Force.

Offering Audio

I am researching how to offer audio, not through one of the audiobook distributors; Audible, iTunes, etc.  It would be me reading my own books, which may or may not be appealing.

I have audio editing software that I never use.  I’ve never had a use for it, but I have played around with it a bit.  Especially since I can make audio clips and save them as ringtones for my iPhone.  

I try to keep chapters in my books around 2,500 words.  Which seems to be a good length for an audio bit.  So I would release them a week at a time, if I go forward.

The problem is, I don’t know diddly squat about offering audio or HTML.  Part of the reason I don’t have a website is I can’t figure out how to do it myself and I’m not sure it’s worth paying someone to do it for me.  

I will admit the idea is not original to me.  An author I know, just finished doing a reading of one of her books on a YouTube channel she created, but I have no desire to be in front of the camera reading from a book.  I think that would be stressful.  

Unfortunately, my research makes it sound really easy, but I don’t believe it would be.  My most recent research on it, focuses on Podcasts, but I’m not sure that’s the answer either. 

If anyone has thoughts, suggestions, or ideas, I’m open to hearing them.  Unfortunately, I’ve been taking a break from social media beyond my blog.  Sometimes, I just have to disconnect from it to recharge my sanity.  I will be making a return in time for Christmas well wishes.  And would value any input you could give or your thoughts on listening to me ramble out a book I wrote (this would force me to read all the D&R novels..).

Novel Lengths

For the last month, I have been listening to the Miss Marple series by Agatha Christie.  I love these books.  But I started a Hercule Poirot novel when I finished them and noticed the audio narration was only 5 hours.  The average for a Miss Marple novel was 6 1/2 hours.  

Which got me thinking about the word counts of Agatha Christie and Barbara Cartland.  These are two of the best selling authors of all times, who wrote in very different genres – Christie was a mystery writer most of the time and Cartland was a prolific romance author.

And until James Patterson began farming out the actual writing of his novels, making it so he could release three and sometimes four novels a year, Christie was the best selling mystery writer of all time.

The reason this interested me is because in recent years I’ve heard a ton of complaints from readers that indie authors would be better if they wrote longer books.  Anything over 50,000 words is considered a “novel” nowadays.  With different genres expecting different lengths of novels.  One expects a fantasy novel to be longer than a mystery novel, kind of thing.

One of the most reproduced books in cinema history The Murder on the Orient Express was written by Christie, evidence of the impact she’s had on literature and film for the last 100+ years.  But by modern standards, not even Murder on the Orient Express stands up as a “novel.”  It’s a meer 43,000 words.  

Furthermore, only 3 Agatha Christie novels hold up under modern standards as “novels” meaning only 3 of them, all standalone novels,” were over 50,000 words.  3 of 72 published novels are over 50,000 words.  The rest are basically novellas with many the same length as The Dysfunctional Chronicles – 25,000 to 30,000 words.

And as far as I can tell, the same is true of Barbara Cartland.  Of her 273 published novels, there are 6 of them over 50,000 words with most in the 35,000 – 40,000 word range… slightly longer than Agatha Christie, but still not a “novel” by modern standards.

We as a society, did not start expecting longer novels until the 1980s.  Two of the best selling novels of the 1970s Watership Down by Richard Adams and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams are both under 100,000 words compare their length to It by Stephen King, which is 170,000 words.  The unabridged version of The Stand weighs in at a hefty 500,000 words, more words than there are in the entire Lord of the Rings Trilogy, the 3 books together have slightly more than 400,000 words.  And yet, when the first one was published in 1954, the publishing house didn’t imagine it would sell because it was just too damn long at 143,000 words.

So, my “novellas” are the same length as the second best selling mystery writer of all time Agatha Christie and my D&R series at 70,000-100,000 words really aren’t that short.  They seem short because modern readers have gotten used to extremely descriptive books.  If I spent ten pages (5,000 words approximately with the way I write) describing each murder scene in D&R, they would probably be closer to 200,000 words.  And they would be even more gruesome than they are now.  And writers can think Stephen King for this trend.  As the successful sales of books like ItThe Stand, and Desperation, encouraged publishing houses to desire longer novels from authors.  

It should be noted though that Stephen King’s most successfully sold book ever is also his shortest, Carrie has around 47,000 words and is “technically not a novel” by today’s standards, but it was the first novel he published that got good reviews from critics as well as the first novel someone decided to turn into a movie.  The book was released, in 1974, the movie was released just two years later in 1976.  

The point being that indie authors aren’t killing book lengths.  We don’t all write exceptional short books, although I can think of a few authors that usually just barely hit 50,000 words per novel… We’ve just grown to expect longer books in the last 30 years than ever before and there are indies, including myself that have returned to “shorter” word counts, because we can tell a good story with shorter word counts.  I don’t think doubling the word count of any of the D&R novels would make them “better” books.  I think they’d just drag on at that point.  But I admit they would be more in-line with modern expectations of writers.  If Elysium Dreams was 150,000 words instead of 83,000 words how much more would you learn?  And what exactly would it be?

Small Wedding, Big Reception

When J and I got married a couple of years ago, a lot of people told me we were going to regret the decisions we made for our wedding.  Recently, I was asked if my regret was the reason I didn’t have my private Facebook page filled with wedding pictures.

I don’t regret anything we did for our wedding.  I don’t share the pictures because it’s been over a year and I’m fairly sure the majority of them were shared in the month or six that followed it.  I see no reason to repost them now.

There is a moral to this story, so bear with me.  Our wedding was small, maybe 40 people… We didn’t want anything terribly formal or fancy. J wore a button up shirt and tie and I was fairly amazed that he’d done either of these things along with agreeing to wear slacks instead of jeans.  Contrary to the repeated proclamations of my Matron of Honor, my dress was white.  It wasn’t a wedding dress in the traditional sense however.  It was a knee length bridesmaid’s dress and the “color” on the tag said “off white.”

But even I could tell it was “white” not “off white.”  We got married in my best friend’s garage.  She also happens to be one of the many first cousins I have.  Nearly the entire wedding party was made up of my family, which was kind of weird, but, you know.  I didn’t have bridesmaids, I had a Matron of Honor (my cousin who is married) and a Maid of Honor (my cousin who isn’t married).  

J had his best friend stand up as his best man and then had his other close friend, who is the husband of the Matron of Honor was his groomsman.  Which is how, even though there were only 6 members in our wedding party, I was related to 3 of them (50%).  Four by the time we finished.  

Nearly all of J and I’s mutual friends are dart players.  We catered food in a non-traditional way.  J’s brother does catering gigs.  We have a friend in darts who owns a restaurant.  So we worked with the two of them to take care of food.  

The place we held the reception has an occupancy limit of 225 people.  Plenty of room.  Except there wasn’t.  If I had to guess, I’d say we had more than three hundred guests show up to the reception over the course of the evening (we had a “set” time, but it was basically show up at or after the set time).  

We had a DJ and we had a blind draw (doubles matches with a partner drawn up at random).  And we had a blast.  We also nearly screwed up… 

We had ordered 350 cupcakes.  There were 14 left at the end of the night and if J and I hadn’t ordered a “mini cake” for the two of us, we have had to make do with the vanilla cupcakes, because of the 4 flavors we picked, that was the only one left.  Cupcakes just seemed easier than cutting and serving a wedding cake.  Plus, we had variety so if someone didn’t want vanilla or chocolate, they could pick something else.  J and I got red velvet for the mini-cake and ate it the following week.  It was really good (no, we didn’t save it for… the one year anniversary?).

We actually got married really cheap. 

At the time of planning, several people told me I was going to have regrets that I didn’t do something more formal and that I didn’t force J to wear a tux.  And that I was related to half the wedding party.  

I have a single regret from my wedding.  One of the kids I claim as a nephew did not get into the picture we specifically took with our nieces and nephews.  That’s it.  That is my only regret.  I didn’t notice it until a few days later.

I’ve watched people go into debt paying for their weddings, demanding the entire shebang be perfect.  But here’s the thing, it is going to be memorable regardless of whether you spend $500 or $50,000.  And I don’t believe you get married for the wedding.  Or even the reception.  I certainly didn’t.  Our wedding was done for our families.  Our reception was because we had an excuse for a party on a Saturday night with some of our favorite people.  

However, we got married because J and I decided it was time to get that legally binding piece of paper.  Just something to remember when getting married. 

 

Prepping For NaNo

Over the years, I have made a sheet of tips from numerous places.  Sometimes advice given to me by writing teachers and professors.  Sometimes, questions that teens have asked that has required me to think on the answer or ask others for it.  As I prep for NaNo, I’ve decided to share them.

  • Stress causes writer’s block, as does lack of sleep.
    • This means if you have a big test or presentation on Monday and you are worried about it, you probably won’t accomplish much writing on Sunday evening regardless of how much you may want to write
  • While writer’s block is usually the result of stress, there are things you can do to work through it.
    • Go for a walk, exercising helps you get creative by sending extra blood into your brain.
    • Take a shower, stand there until the water runs cold. Showers are nice quiet places to think and hot showers stimulate blood flow and help with relaxation.
    • Meditate
    • Go read a book – I keep two or three dozen short story books around my computer desk and when I feel writer’s block strike, I read a short story from one of these books.
    • Make some new characters for a different story. Creating characters helps stimulate the creative side of the brain.  – I almost always have a dozen or more characters just lying around for me to use at a later date in something.
    • Realize writer’s block happens to everyone who has ever tried to string sentences together to tell a story.
  • Have a routine.
    • Even though I work from home, I try to wake up at the same time every day. I try to turn on my computer at the same time every morning.  I try to take a lunch break at the same time every day.
    • Before I start writing on any “novel” that morning, I practice writing with either a writing prompt, creating a character or two, and/or by writing a blog post.  These things warm up my brain and get it ready to write.
  • It’s okay to delete huge sections of text.
    • I can’t count the number of times I have started over on a book or the number of times, I’ve decided I hate an entire chapter and just deleted it.
  • Spelling, grammar, proper page formatting, your typing skills, none of them matter when you sit down to write. These things are fixable after you have gotten your ideas out on the page.
  • Just because your story starts one way, doesn’t mean it won’t change.
    • Embrace those changes. No matter how well you have your story plotted out, your brain is constantly adjusting the story as you add words.  This means your story may be vastly different than what you planned it to be.  This is okay!!
    • The only author I know that can plot so intensely and detailed there are absolutely zero deviations from the outline is James Patterson. And while I do like most Patterson novels, I sometimes find them difficult to read, as if it was over plotted and it doesn’t feel or sound organic.
  • You are your audience!
    • Only under special circumstances will you ever write anything for someone else. These usually include formal papers and formal writing assignments in English classes.  Although I did once write a story for one of my closest friends when she got married.
  • If you are stuck, read what you have already written.
  • Embrace your creativity!
    • I grew up with words on the brain. I wanted, no needed, to get those words out onto a page most of the time and I would write during study hall and on my lunch break.  Unfortunately, some of my not so creative classmates thought it was weird that I wrote for fun.
    • And that too was okay!! Creativity is a sign of intelligence, deep introspection, and a mind that doesn’t conform to all the standards of normalcy.  It is not something a non-creative will ever understand and even with your expanded vocabulary (another bonus of writing and reading), you will never explain it where they can understand it.  Don’t let them stifle you, just because they don’t understand and therefore want to make you feel bad about it.
  • Use Your Friends & Family
    • Once you have something written, give it to your mom or a good friend to read. In junior high I had three friends that read all my short stories along with my mom.
    • Those Alpha Readers may discover something you missed or something you should add.
    • If any of those people respond negatively to something you wrote, evaluate why. Did they dislike it because they don’t like to read that kind of story?  Are they envious that you can be creative?  If you can’t find justification for why they didn’t enjoy it, don’t let them read anything else.
  • Don’t get rid of anything
    • You may hate a handful of pieces of your writing. You may decide they are terrible.  Put them in a folder on your computer and just let them sit.  Time brings new perspective.  Something you think is awful or stupid today, you may decide is great in a year.
    • I’m talking from experience here. When I was 22, I deleted every short story and novel I had written up to that point because I decided I wasn’t good enough to be an author.  I would give a lot to have all those pieces back.
  • Almost any problems that arise in a story can be fixed.
    • I have gotten to the end of novels and realized I forgot to wrap up the main plot of the novel.  That’s why everything starts as a draft.
  • Most writer’s practice by writing short stories.
    • I love to write short stories, even to this day.
    • Even Neil Gaimen (author of the book Coraline) writes short stories to stimulate his brain.
  • In real life, first names have power, they are part of your identity.
    • The same should be true of your characters. This means if you hate the name Ashley, don’t make it the name of a main character.  And you may hate Ashley just because you don’t like the way it sounds or because there’s a girl that’s mean to you named Ashley.  Your feelings towards the name will transfer into your book and the reader’s will know you hate your character named Ashley, even if they don’t know why.
  • Practice, practice, practice and then practice some more
    • Writing is a skill, no different than playing a musical instrument. You must practice it.
    • Sometimes that practice is sitting down and writing. Sometimes that practice is sitting down and reading a book about how to craft a good plot.  And even reading a fiction novel counts as practice.  I don’t just write books, I get to read them as part of my job!!
  • When all is said and done, what you have written is yours!
    • Despite the fact that I have now published more than 25 books, I still have two reactions every time I release something
      • I’m nervous none of my readers will like it
      • I feel like King Kong because I have written a book that I think is worth sharing with the world.
      • And usually about a week after the book has published, I regret it. My brain says “oh you should have done this,”  “You should have done that section differently,” “You should have made her have wings,” “You should have changed the plot to include X,” and I will second guess myself, even as people tell me how much they liked it.
      • ALL of these emotions are completely normal!
      • I even hate a few books that I have published. And that is also normal.
  • You are the God of your story
    • You created every character.
    • You created the setting.
    • You created the plot.
    • You rule the universe that you created.  You may do exactly what you want.  If you want Pirates with laser cannons to battle zombies from the lost Continent of Atlantis, go ahead.  Most of the time, you don’t even need for your characters to understand.  The only people that need to understand are you and your readers.
  • Finally – Writing Should Be Fun!!
    • Writing even as a hobby is work.  Even if you do not publish your stories, you are flexing the “muscles” of your brain.
    • It is normally exhausting.
    • The difference between writing a story and running a marathon is that one is mental exhaustion and the other is physical exhaustion.
      • Both will help you sleep.
        • Both will help improve your mood.
        • Both are healthy.

Now go forth and NaNo or write a short story or create a character or copy this list and print it.  Or whatever….

Movies to Watch

I have a set group of movies I watch every October, because I do love a good scary movie. I either watch them by myself or with my mom, since J really doesn’t like a good scary movie.

Surprisingly, some of my favorite horror films are actually comedies.  Or maybe it isn’t surprising, since I don’t watch a ton of comedies and I’m kind of a dark personality, maybe horror comedies fit me to a T.

So here’s a list of some of my favorites:

  • Monster Squad (Yes, really, I love this movie, I loved it as a kid and I love it as an adult, there is just something very satisfying about watching pre-teens kick Dracula’s ass and how can you dislike a movie that declares loudly and proudly that Wolfman has nards!)
  • Thir13en Ghosts – I love Tony Shalhoub and I love movies about ghosts, demons, serial killers, and the apocalypse, this movie has a touch of all of it.
  • Devil – This movie was panned by fans and critics alike, which might be why I like it.  Oh and the devil makes an appearance which helps.  By the time M. Night Shyamalan released this film, we were all wise to his plot tricks and we were a little burnt out after classics like The Village, Lady in the Water, and Signs – to be honest, I love Signs and The Happening too.
  • Delivery Us From Evil – This was not a great book, I read it and sort of shook my head in wonder when the movie was announced.  The movie was better and I liked Eric Bana’s portrayal of Ralph Sarchie better than Ralph Sarchie’s portrayal of Ralph Sarchie.
  • The Crazies – I did not have high hopes for this film.  I have seen the 1973 original and I didn’t figure Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell would make it better, although I do like both of them.  I was pleasantly surprised that I did enjoy it, better than the original even.  It is now one of my Halloween go to movies.
  • Sinister (1 & 2) – I love the Conjuring Movies, a lot, I can’t wait to see The Nun.  However, for pure scare factor, I find the Sinister Movies scarier.  And more importantly, the Sinister Movies surprised me.  I had worked out bits and pieces of it by the end of Sinister 1, but I hadn’t worked out the demon was after the little girl in Sinister 1 when she suddenly kills her family.  Plus, there is just something all around terrifying about a child who is willing to murder their entire family.
  • The Thing – I loved the original The Thing, probably because my mom loves Kurt Russel, so I of course, love Kurt Russel (Funny how strong parental influences can be).  However, this is the new one I’m talking about.  The one with the girl that played Lucy in the two new Die Hard movies.  The one released in 2011 was unique, it wasn’t a remake, it wasn’t even a retelling of the original, it was an origin story that most people missed.  Even I missed it until recently.  I remembered how the original started, with the Norwegians shooting at the dog as it ran across the snow to McMurdo base.  And screaming at the Americans it’s not a dog and calling them idiots.  Recently, as I rewatched the 2011 version, I realized they were in a Norwegian station and everything sort of clicked into place, this is where the infected dog comes from before it infects everyone at McMurdo in Kurt Russel’s The Thing – sometimes I can be slow on the uptake.
  • Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein – I have seen all the Abbott and Costello movies, this is the only one I own and it cracks me up, no matter how many times I see it, I still find it hilarious.
  • House on Haunted Hill – Despite the fact that the special effects were cutting edge for the late 1950s, I still love this Vincent Price classic and watch it every year.  I also remember the first time I watched it, there were a few scenes that made me jump, which is rare for me.
  • Exorcist: The Beginning– And every horror movie buff on the planet just groaned.  I’m sure everyone expected an Exorcist movie to show up, but this one?  Not so much.  It is however, my favorite of the Exorcist movies I’ve seen (I haven’t seen one of them, not sure if it’s 2 or 3).  I’m not sure I can explain why this is my favorite, but it is.

I own tons of other horror movies including the original 3 Purge movies, The Conjuring, Conjuring 2, End of Days, The Haunting in Connecticut (1 & 2), Deep Blue Sea, all 3 Blade movies, all 6 Alien movies, Trick or Treat, Predator, Predator 2, AvP, AvP Requiem, Predators, the Insidious Trilogy, Split, all 6 Resident Evil films, Doom, Cabin in the Woods, Darkness Falls (love this one too, but don’t have it digitally, so it is often forgotten), the Original Halloween movies, Freddy v. Jason, Mirrors 1 & 2, the Final Destination films, Hellraiser 1 & 2, Legion, the Rings trilogy, Priest, the Riddick Trilogy (Pitch Black, Chronicles of Riddick, and Riddick), the remake of Friday the 13th, the Halloween Movies directed by Rob Zombie…

And here is where perception matters most, J isn’t interested in watching any of these movies, except Purge, I can get him to watch those, but I consider one of his favorites to be a dramatic horror movie Full Metal Jacket, but he doesn’t.  I realize it isn’t billed a horror film, but the psychological abuse exhibited in Full Metal Jacket is actually more intense and terrifying than almost any of the horror movies listed above.  Full Metal Jacket has caused me nightmares, but none on my list of horror movies have.  So I consider it a horror film even though most people don’t.

One final thought on my surgery

I had fajitas Thursday night, they were amazing. I mean really amazing, even though they kind of screwed them up.

However, I am back to eating pretty much anything I want. No veggies bother me, not even spicy ones.

I have felt bloated a few times after meals but was told this was probably a response to my body getting meals again every day and it would probably be a week or so before it adjusted to eating at least twice a day again, I often skip breakfast.

They put four holes in me. The bottom two were for the camera and blowing are into my abdominal cavity. I see the surgeon Tuesday to discuss my surgery.

I had a realization during my recovery week that I need to share with everyone. Late Thursday night, after the leftovers had been put in the fridge, and I was lying in bed trying to convince my brain to freaking shut down for the night, my brain latched onto a thought and refused to let go.

I often talk about my pain levels, but it is exceptionally hard to understand someone else’s pain if you have never experienced it. It doesn’t matter how empathetic you are as a person.

However, at no time last week, not even when I first woke up in recovery from the surgery did the pain from my surgical incisions hurt as much as the pain in my hip when I have done nothing to aggravate it.

In other words, my disease causes me more pain than laparoscopic surgery. And I have another 30 years or so of this, maybe. Waking up day after day and knowing that the pain in my hip is worse then the pain of laparoscopic gallbladder removal surgery.

Well that’s fucking depressing.

I don’t even know what to do with that information. And worse, when you tell someone that they think you are exaggerating or lying or misremembering.

But… here’s one of the things that made me start thinking about it. I take a Vicodin for the surgical pain and for a few hours, there is no surgical pain. That doesn’t happen with my hip pain. Not even this week. And I have not once regretted waking up because of the pain of the incisions. Most days, I have only taken 1 Vicodin to deal with the pain of the 4 incisions. That is less Vicodin than I take to deal with my hip pain even on days I don’t overdo it.

I have spent a year trying to explain in words the entire world would understand the insane amount of pain CRPS causes and I have always failed. But there it is. I would rather have surgery than deal with the pain in my hip because a laparoscopic surgery is less painful.

This is why CRPS has such a high suicide rate. It isn’t because they are weak it’s because you can only spend so many years dealing with pain levels higher than those you have in surgical recovery after a laparoscopic surgery. And you know that it really doesn’t get better.

You try to stay positive, but it can be next to impossible, for even those whose “glass is half full.” I am still working on my book about it. Maybe next year I’ll get it published if not this year.

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