Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Yeah, big kids would pick on me. This generally only happened once with each kid. I had no patience for such bullshit and these encounters would inevitably end with me dancing on their prone bodies. As soon as I'd reckoned that the shitass bothering me was out for blood, I would, quite literally, see red. It was as if the entire world had just had an opaque sheet of red plastic pulled over it. My mind would cloud over with only an overriding urge to kill the target in front of me.
Afterward, I would almost always be upset. My emotions would run wild and even though I'd just beaten the shit out of this or that bully, I'd generally find myself in tears. Go figure.
These acts of violence would go on until I'd beaten the crap out of the local complement of resident bullies. There usually weren't very many of them, and stupid as they were, they didn't seem to want to tempt fate more than once. But then my parents would move, or I'd go to a new school. Repeat as necessary.
Junior high school in Macon Georgia was the worst, though. The school was cavernous. Huge. The student body was gigantic and I soon learned that there was always a daily supply of at least one new bully who had to have his ass kicked. Because of then-new civil rights laws, the public schools were all recently racially integrated. So I found myself one of a very few white kids in an almost all-black enrollment. Now, not only was I still short and fat; I was also white, which made me quite the obvious target. I continued to kick lots of ass. The only difference was that I was kicking tons of black ass. My right shoe was permanently shined because it spent so much time in the butt cracks of bullies.
My grades suffered. I went from a bright, straight-A student to a straight-F student. Every moment at school was spent watching my back, punching someone's face, or thinking about punching someone's face, or preparing to punch someone's face. I tell people how every single day I was either in a fist fight, or under constant threat of a fist fight, and almost no one believes me. When I hear stories of what it's like to be in prison, these tales are familiar to me. I lived the same violent life between the ages of thirteen and fourteen.
This particular nightmare ceased when I ended up in a very small high school in the mountains of north Georgia. The student body was quite small and I only had to beat up a handful of morons before the message got through: Don't fuck with Bob Smith.
I spent the tenth through the twelfth grades making excellent grades, participating in sports (football, wrestling, track) and having a good time. I very rarely fought. Never, really after the tenth grade. (But I do have some good stories about the guys I did beat the shit out of in the tenth grade.)
Later, though, as an adult, I would sometimes encounter the good old archetypal bully. Ass kicking would ensue. The familiar old red rage would draw down like a crimson sheet over the planet and I would find myself soon standing over some fucker begging for his life. This went on for some time. Luckily, I was only ever arrested three times.
More years passed. As I got older, I slowly learned not to beat the shit out of people. Most often I would just smile or frown and turn the other freaking cheek. But I'd grind my teeth and get heartburn and feel like an idiot for not killing them.
Then, a few years ago this one fellow got my goat. I won't go into the particulars, except to say that I chased him down and punched him in the face. Again and again. And in the middle of smashing his face in, as I felt my knuckles meeting his stubbled skin, the red cloak seemed to lift. And I realized that I was beating the shit out of a kid no more than nineteen or twenty years old. About the same age as my son. So I stopped beating him. And I walked away, got in my truck, and drove home.
The next morning I made an appointment to see my physician and asked him if he could prescribe some medicine that would help to contain my rages. I was just tired of beating the crap out of idiots, no matter if they deserved it or not. He gave me Zoloft. It works.
Oh, I still get angry, don't get me wrong. But I don't beat the crap out of bullies and jerks any more. I just let them ride.
I just let them live.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
But, as we all know, the town was eventually liberated from its tomb of ash and rock, revealing one of the best preserved cities of ancient Rome. The place was once again laid bare, complete with the twisted forms of some of its immolated citizens, charred scrolls, houses complete with brass plumbing, tile artwork...and graffiti.
Much of the graffiti is in the form of political jibber-jabber. Yes, there were local elections, even in the days of the emperors. Then, as today, the corporate/plutocratic elite had to let the people think that they actually had a voice. And there was even pornographic commentary and humor of the most vulgar and gutter type. Again, proving that people have changed not at all since those great days of Roman empire.
But to me, the most interesting were the ones obviously left by the ancient Roman equivalent of Libertarians. Proving that the human race was, even then, infected with those Libertarian filth. Following, the Libertarian graffiti of Pompeii:
Profit is happiness!
Money doesn't stink
Here Harpocras has had a good fuck with Drauca for a denarius.
And this one, my favorite, written about whom the Libertarians support:
The petty thieves support Vatia for the aedileship.
And there was this one, obviously by someone sick of the Libertarian morons:
I wonder, O, wall, that you have not fallen in ruins from supporting the stupidities of so many scribblers.
And finally there's this, about a Libertarian's momma:
If anyone sits here, let him read this first of all: if anyone wants a screw, he should look for Attice; she costs 4 sestertii.
Friday, December 26, 2008
This is Marley's new favorite spot. Up on the love seat in the loft. Lying on my prehistoric-animal blanky. That's my blanky, and Marley has purloined it. He looks especially evil in this shot, but I assure you that, while he has a vein of mischief running through him, he's quite the sweet kitty cat. We rescued him from certain starvation, and he remains our feline ward.
Lilly had a blast with the Christmas wrappings. We thought that she would have climbed in the tree. But apart from knocking off a few of the ornaments, she was largely disinterested in the tree itself. (I have no photos of Sophie interacting with the Christmas stuff, because she's crazier even than usual and has hidden for most of the holidays. The older she gets, the more crazy she becomes. Alas.)
We spent a fair portion of the day visiting with Carole's mom, Faye, and her aunt Flo who is staying at Faye's while she recovers from surgery. While there, we watched the George C. Scott version of Charles Dickens' A CHRISTMAS CAROL. This version is, as far as I'm concerned, the finest of the lot. Nothing else, really, comes close. None of the others reach me, emotionally, and I find none of the others as well produced, as well acted, nor as well written as this one.
Made in 1984, I have seen it at least once every year since. And every single time I watch it I never fail to cry like a girl. This is one film I cannot watch in portions. I have to watch it beginning to end, opening credits to ending credits. The whole thing is just perfect.
First of all, I can think of no one who was more suited to portray Ebeneezer Scrooge than George C. Scott. He just had that look about him, and I was convinced both of his flinty and adamant bitterness at the beginning, and by his genuine transformation into a compassionate human being by the finale. I don't think I ever saw Scott play in anything as worthwhile after this movie, so, to me, it was the fitting end of a fine and exemplary career as a major actor.
Another great touch in this movie was the use of David Warner as Bob Cratchit. By this time in Warner's life, he was generally playing only villains. So it was great to see the full range of his skills as the completely good-hearted clerk in the employ of literature's greatest miser. Warner, in his place as the meek Cratchit, was the equal of George C. Scott. I can't imagine anyone else in that role anymore.
And the quartet of ghosts:
Damn, what a group! Each is perfectly cast. My favorite of these was Frank Finlay as the ghost of Marley. Man, this guy had it going on! When he initially appears and removes part of his death shroud and his jaw drops open like that of a true corpse--it impresses me every time I see it. Although he's there only briefly, his monologue of the responsibilities that he shirked in life is about as good a job of acting as one is likely to encounter. Easily one of the finest scenes in the film.
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come was also handled in brilliant form. In other films, this ghost is handled merely as a hooded, dark figure who utters not a word. In this version, the ghost is similarly silent, but not the mysterious and harmless sihouette of other films. This Yet to Come is not unlike the figure of Death. It is cadaverous, and when it reveals itself at all, it is via the display of a set of truly disturbing skeletal hands. It moves in a kind of floating motion that adds to its weird aspect and sets it much farther afield from the other, far more human ghosts who precede it in the narrative. One exceptionally fine touch is the addition of the screeching horn whenever it seems to "reply" to questions or demands that come from Ebeneezer. It's an amazing bit of twisted filmmaking from Director Clive Donner and Screenwright Roger Hirson.
I don't know if the annual viewing of this version of A CHRISTMAS CAROL is on your own list of tradition, but it should be.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
At any rate, we had a right pretty tree this year. I love the holidays. As long as I've had people to share it with, I've had a lot of fun during this part of the year. The lonely times...well, it sucks ass to be alone during Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Well, here she is:
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Well, it's my fault.
All I had to do was get a flu vaccination. But I failed to do that this year.
I'd forgotten what a pernicious malady this can be. It hit me last Saturday, and at first I thought I was just feeling a bit down. But by Sunday morning that was past. By then, I could barely move. All I could do was periodically sleep, then awaken and suffer.
Monday was a little better, filled as I was with medications.
Tuesday the same.
Now, Tuesday night, I'm still very sick. But one gets that strange hit of euphoria as the old gray matter produces the right chemical concoction to help you forget about the pain and misery. It's really weird how that works out.
So all I've done since getting home from work is lie about, sleep, and read THE JOYS OF YIDDISH (original version) by Leo Rosten. Funny and amusing volume. (The link is for the updated version--not the original 1968 edition, which I have.)
I promised Carole that I would run a few errands for her in the morning. After that, I hope to just rest and write. I got lucky and my non-scheduled day is Christmas Eve. So two days off, in a row! Excellent.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
This morning I glommed a huge handful of over-the-counter medications and some mighty prescription painkillers left over from dental work. This got me through a full day of work at USPS.
I didn't want to call in sick because today the mail was scheduled to be super-heavy. And it was. I didn't want to leave co-workers with extra labor, so I ate the painkillers and went on in. It actually wasn't too bad, except that the stuff all wore off late this afternoon. Now I'm sick again. Not sure if I'll make it in tomorrow, but I'll try.
I'm going to be very busy with Christmas and finishing up the novel, and with recovering from the flu. So I'll leave you folk with a nice photo for the time being:
In March 2004 I hiked to the summit of Chestnut Knob in South Mountains State Park. At the summit I found the weather cold, the sky dropping a steady drizzle. So I huddled under a natural rock shelter and had lunch. The wind was blowing, it was cool. I sat and ate and listened to the creak of stunted pine trees as the breezes pushed them slowly. Other than the soft sound of the wind, there was nothing else but the occasional drip of water from limb to limb, rock to rock. I stayed for quite a while.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
By James Robert Smith.
stubbed out another
went to the
Took a turn
got back we
Friday, December 19, 2008
This is actually a rare sight for us. Lilly is quite the active kitty and spends much of the day rambling about the house, playing with Marley, and always trying (unsuccessfully) to play with Sophie, our mentally disturbed kitty cat.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
I love Christmas. Always have. We tend to have a really good time during the winter Holidays. Unlike some folk, I actually get a kick out of the excess. We have a wonderful time with the tree. Everything from picking it out to decorating it. This year, Carole and I did the decorating together. We're not quite finished, but here she is as of this evening.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
When I think about my father I think of him outdoors. It’s not that he spent a lot of time without a roof over his head; it’s just that we spent a lot of father and son time under the open sky. He was prone to jump in his pickup truck (he always had a pickup truck, it seemed to me) and zoom off to one corner of Georgia or another. Sometimes we’d crack the Florida border since his older brother lived there, and sometimes we’d invade the eastern reaches of Alabama if it collided with one of his explorations of western Georgia. Rarely do I recall we entered Tennessee, and never to my memory did we cross into North Carolina. Twice, we went to Charleston, in South Carolina, but that was by design.
And the trips I took with my dad were rarely by design. He’d just pick a highway and go. He’d have a nebulous idea of wanting to head in the general direction of Tifton, say; or maybe towards Cloudland Canyon; or Albany; or to Columbus. Once, I mentioned to him that I’d noticed that there was a mountain where you wouldn’t think a mountain should be—toward the middle of the state. And, my curiosity having piqued his curiosity, we jumped into the truck and drove in that direction, stopping once or twice to ask people if they knew where we could find something called “Dowdell’s Knob”. And, sure enough, find it we did: a mountain where we wouldn’t have imagined a mountain to be.
Bush the Moron. I hope the remainder of his stinking life is short and miserable.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Veggie Spud $5.10
Loaded with diced red onion, bell pepper, diced tomatoes,
Black olives, mozzarella cheese,
and a side of salsa
Grilled Chicken Spud $6.40
Grilled strips of marinated chicken, topped with swiss cheese, diced tomatoes and green onions
Chicken Fajita Spud $6.40
Grilled strips of marinated chicken, onions, bell peppers, cheddar cheese, topped with sliced jalapenos and diced
Tomatoes, and lite sour cream and a side of salsa
Pot Roast Potato $6.34
Tender pot roast and carrots, smother in McAlister’s
Come back gravy
Come back gravy, Rotel Cheese or chili .75
Ranch, Peppercorn or Bleu Cheese Dressing .50
Red and Green Onions, lite sour cream no charge
What the heck is this doing on my computer? What is it doing in my documents file?
I have no idea. It's a mystery. I like potatoes as much as the next person, but Jove if I know where this came from.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
100 Things I Love
(in no particular order)
5 Great Smoky Mountains
6 Charles Bukowski
7 Black Mountains
8 Appalachian Trail
9 Backbone Rock Falls
10 First magnitude springs
11 Silver River
12 Blackwater Canyon
13 Casita trailer
14 St. Augustine, FL
15 Florida Keys
16 Saltwater fishing
17 Fried shrimp
18 Roasted oysters
19 Times Square in the snow
20 Ray Bradbury
21 Robert Graves
22 Ernest Hemingway
23 Buck Owens
24 Les Paul
25 Richard Leakey
26 Anita O’Day
27 Doo Wop Music
28 Len Foote Lodge
29 Tulip poplars
30 Mount Washington
31 Mount LeConte
32 Carolina hemlocks
33 Black Mountain Crest Trail
34 Chuck Smith
35 Mark & Alice
36 Virginia Creeper Trail
37 Damascus, VA
38 Hurricane Campground
39 Mount Rogers National Recreation Area
40 Backbone Rock
41 Midnight Hole
42 Laurel Gap Shelter
43 Charlies Bunion
44 Savage Gulf
45 H.P. Lovecraft
46 Robert E. Howard
47 Microsoft Word
48 Toshiba laptop
49 Nancy & Arnold
50 Mark & Michelle
51 Ichetucknee Springs
52 Juniper Springs Wilderness
53 Panthertown Valley
54 Little Green Mountain
57 Black bears
58 Bernie Sanders
59 The Sopranos
61 TOM JONES
62 Okefenokee Swamp
63 Cumberland Island National Seashore
66 Dry Tortugas National Monument
67 Key West, FL
68 Camden, ME
69 Bar Harbor, ME
70 Acadia National Park
71 West Quoddy Head lighthouse
72 Fried scallops
73 Dave Edmunds
74 Brian Eno
75 Jack Kerouac
76 The Beats
77 Phil Ochs
80 Mount Rogers Recreation Area
81 Indian Springs, GA
82 Fresh Air Barbecue
83 Ribeye steak
84 Roquefort dressing
85 BLUE VELVET
86 Roy Orbison
87 Brian Wilson
88 Steve Ditko
89 Jack Kirby
90 Robert McKimson
91 Ella Fitzgerald
92 Mills Brothers
93 Tex Avery
95 John Lennon
96 Holly River State Park, WV
97 Blue Ridge Parkway
98 Hoagy Carmichael
99 Toshiro Mifune
100 Akira Kurosawa
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Coyote looked at them. And finally, after observing for a while, he spoke.
“You motherfuckers are right proud of your fucking guns.” He smiled, really big, showing lots of white teeth with some yellow plaque up near the gum lines. “Your fucking guns,” he continued.
“Cruelest goddamn thing I ever heard or seen.” He seemed to frown. “Someone’s standing there, or swimming, or flying, or walking, or running, or sleeping, or suckling, or humping:
“Then BAM!” His eyes got big and his tongue dropped out of the side of his mouth. “All of the sudden they’re either in pain or dead. Maybe screaming. Or roaring. Or trying to get away.
“But they can’t. Because there’s a little piece of metal stuck in their guts and blood is coming out of a hole in their body where there’s not supposed to be a hole. And likely gushing out the mouth. And their asshole,” he added.
“Lucky ones fall over dead. The unlucky ones run a bit and hide and suffer to death.” He was quiet for a while.
“Yeah, you and your fucking guns.”
Friday, December 12, 2008
When the clouds broke last night and I looked up and saw the moon, full and huge peeking through the lingering stuff, I knew my wife was going to be in trouble.
She's a surgical tech in the maternity ward. Whenever there's a full moon, the babies come. Those pregnant women drop them at the tug of lunar gravity.
Sure enough. She called this morning. She's still there.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
100 Things I Hate
(In no particular order)
1 G.W. Bush
4 Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining
5 “Clean” Coal
6 Bubonic plague
7 Cruise missiles
8 Cluster bombs
9 Land mines
12 Urban sprawl
13 Rich people
21 Miami, FL
22 Brunswick, GA
29 Cable TV
31 Global Warming Deniers
32 Holocaust Deniers
33 Single-Bullet-Theory Believers
34 Official-Version-of 9-11 Believers
36 Ed Koch
39 Ariel Sharon
41 Three Gorges Dam
42 Air pollution
43 Norway black rats
44 African big game hunters
45 Stone Mountain Park, Georgia
46 Six Flags Over Georgia
47 Disney World Orlando
48 Stan Lee
49 Dave Sim
51 Adolph Hitler
52 Francisco Franco
53 Benito Mussolini
55 William Kristol
56 Joe Lieberman
57 Pre-emptive war
59 Michael Jackson
61 STAR WARS (all of them)
62 Peter Jackson’s KING KONG
64 Mariah Carey
65 John Birch Society
66 Flat tires
68 Laissez-faire capitalism
69 Pol Pot
70 Khmer rouge
71 Donald Rumsfeld
72 Condoleeza Rice
75 British Petroleum
76 DuPont Corporation
77 Hemlock wooly adelgid
78 Chestnut blight
79 George HW Bush
80 Ronald Reagan
81 Dick Cheney
82 Agricultural runoff
83 Phosphate mining
90 Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
91 Chinese Communist Party
92 Jeb Bush
95 High fevers
96 Sci-Fi Channel
97 Robert A. Heinlein
98 Ayn Rand
100 Commercial radio
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
One thing about Wayne is that he lives in an area of the nation that gets particularly cold and nasty. And I'm not just talking about some freezing temperatures and the odd snowstorm here and there. I'm talking near-Arctic conditions with constant and hideous head winds blowing in off one of the largest bodies of fresh water on the Earth. Weather that can peel the asphalt right off the roads. That can crack the mightiest tree under the groaning weight of ice. Cold that sweeps in on the gales and gets into every nook and crevice where one might try to find shelter.
I'm talkin' about Chicago.
Wayne speaks of the cold and the wet and the snow and ice that lets you know that...well, that it can kill him. To hear him tell it, the cold rakes the skin off his bones. His descriptions do not paint a pretty picture.
Contrast that to my Southern experiences with the cold. Here in the South, Winter tiptoes up and taps politely on the door and apologizes for any inconvenience its brief presence might cause. Here in my native land, we look forward to the rare snowfalls, the brief ice storms, the occasional frosts. We delight in it. We look forward to it. We play and dance about in it like one huge nation of kids.
But I have to be careful. Because we so rarely see Winter in anything approaching fury, we take it as a lark. It's something that's fun and almost never dangerous. Our pipes don't freeze. We don't see paralyzing blizzards, save only in a few places and then only once or twice in a lifetime. To us, a winter storm is a curiosity and a reason to blow off some steam. We have plenty of steam down here.
Recently, Carole and I spent a few days at the Peaks of Otter Lodge in Virginia. We were hoping for snow while we were there, but it didn't happen. However, on the day we left, we encountered a major ice storm in the higher elevations of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Almost as soon as we left the lodge, we began to notice that the trees we were seeing along the Parkway were icing up. The farther south we traveled, the more ice we found.
We had planned to take the Blue Ridge Parkway south to Sparta NC, where Carole owns property and where we wanted to stop to buy a Christmas tree. But as we drove along, some of the areas through which we were passing were getting really solidly iced. To the point where the road was becoming slick. My truck has four-wheel drive and can take most road conditions that weather can throw in its way. But solid ice is a surface I don't like facing. However, each time that it looked like the road might be a problem, we would take a dip in elevation and the surface would clear and things would look a lot better.
Finally, though, we had to drive over the summit of Rocky Knob not far north of Mabry Mill. Here, the elevation was high enough and the temperatures had dropped so much that what had been a light coating of ice on the roads had become a very slick and solid covering. This was just too much, and I certainly did not want us to join the list of idiots who had died while trying to navigate the Blue Ridge Parkway in inclement weather.
We did want to record the conditions, so we stopped the truck at the parking area on the top of the Rocky Knob. By then, the temperature had dropped to around the mid-20s. The rain, which was continuing to fall, was freezing instantly onto every surface. In addition, rime ice was forming on every thing that faced the increasing winds. It was a very weird sight, and one which I'd never witnessed.
So after we pulled into the parking area, I donned my set of yaktrax and walked around the frozen summit of the mountain, shooting brief videos and taking photographs. I didn't want to linger too long, because I was a bit worried about the worsening road conditions. So I quickly climbed back into the truck and headed down the mountain. By the time we reached the next gap we drove from the Parkway and pointed the truck south into North Carolina. We were still able to drive to Sparta to buy a tree, but not by the route we had intended.
As we drove along, I recalled my friend Wayne, as I always do when cold weather strikes. For me, it's a brief and wonderful aside. For Wayne...well, I assume he'd not be amused.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Apparently, these filthy bastards, when running for office, siphon off some of the RepubliKKKan votes that would normally go to that Party. We all know that Libert-Aryans and RepubliKKKans share a common thread of complete and utter greed in their veins. Racism and personal entitlement also go hand in hand with these filthy greedbags. So it's no surprise, I reckon, that when a Libert-Aryan can generate enough funds to run a semi-effective campaign, that candidate peels off votes that would normally have gone to the RepubliKKKan who would generally appeal to a certain (racist/greedy) segment of the voters.
Witness the Libert-Aryan candidate siphoning off votes in Ohio, Georgia, and Minnesota. These particular scumbags carved off enough votes to either give the Democratic Party candidates the election, or at least turned the race into runoffs and recounts. (And, yes, I realize that the Independence Party of Minnesota isn't the official Libertarian Party, but they're carbon copies and attract the same type of slime.)
So, thanks, Libert-Aryans! You crazy, filthy bastards aren't quite the waste of food and air that I had thought!
Please put this war criminal on trial!
Monday, December 08, 2008
Sunday, December 07, 2008
I’m done with trying to befriend the pig-brained of the world. For several years I’ve tried not only tolerating right wing idiots, but also actually taking a stab at celebrating them, searching for a way.
Every time I was left with a feeling of bitterness. What am I doing trying to befriend people who are generally racist, greedy, self-centered, stupid religionists? The women among them are always empty-headed fools who are bound only by a need to follow. The men are almost always unthinking reactionaries—and, strangely, barely closeted homosexuals obsessed with guns and gun violence. There’s nothing wrong with being a homosexual, but these guys are pathological due to the closeted nature of their sexuality. Their obsession with guns and “manliness” was beyond ridiculous.
I get sick of these creeps glorifying mass murder and the monsters who perpetrate such. I’ve had more than enough of low-paid killers and mercenaries being described as “heroes”.
There will be no more listening to them speaking of their delusions—also known as religion. After all of my attempts at quiet acceptance, I can take no more. They can have their mass insanity. I’ll avoid them and their religious madness from this point forward.
I’ll return to my solo hiking. I’ll pitch my camps far from these crazy bastards.
From now on, it’s just me and the mountains
Saturday, December 06, 2008
James Robert Smith
It might have been sometime during the days when the Marines were moving weapons systems to secure sites. Or it could have happened during the weeks when the Army and Civil Defense were scattering far and wide to shut down and lock nuclear power plants. Perhaps the day fell when local police forces were disbanding and running. And maybe it was some hour when the general population was in total panic, concerned only with self-preservation. Or it might have happened as society fell completely to bits and people were racing about committing acts of theft and violence and generally killing one another at will. But at some point, some moment, some second, when the government, both elected and bureaucratic dissolved into that same panic; or when cholera and dysentery were raging through the population, knocking them down like dominoes.
In that general time period, a tipping point was reached.
It was in those mad days that the zombies began to outnumber the living. It was during those holocaust hours that all was lost.
People trying to flee to cities found the streets lined with the undead. Anyone who attempted to find refuge in buildings or houses generally realized that those places were packed with the monsters, or that they had simply found places to be trapped. Families who took to the main roads discovered a very nasty fact:
The highways and expressways were, quite literally, crawling with the reanimated corpses of the recently deceased. Walking flesh flowed down those asphalt and concrete corridors like water flowing from a high point to a low one. The air was filled with the stench of these things—with the defecations of their dying throes; with the ammonia reek of relaxed bladders; with the rot of tens of millions of death rattles.
In those desperate days, when the tide of battle had turned inexorably away from the living and in favor of the undead, the only salvation to be found lay in constant movement. There was no safe house. Security became an illusion. The future was something to be feared as all those who yet drew breath lived in the here and the now. If people thought at all, it was as if they were rabbits on the run, deer at the wrong end of the chase, cows to the slaughter. People did what they figured they had to do, and in the doing many more of them perished and were devoured, or were delivered as new killers among the raving hoards of zombies.
The landscape became something truly from a nightmare. In some places the ground was covered as far as the eye could follow with a writhing mass of things that resembled human beings but which, alas, no longer were. The forests moved with the constant press of them. Towns and cities and villages and outposts became host to a seemingly unending flood of the walkers. Their moans echoed over the hills and down the valleys and through the canyons of cities that had become slaughterhouses with streets and walls that were covered red and black with the gore of their victims. When they moved, as a single mass, there was no other sound but the tramp and drag of their slow and implacable tread.
They stared and raged and were hungry. The things that had once been us never found satisfaction. There was no satiation for their constant and hideous craving for living flesh. Before them, all who still lived ran like the harried creatures they resembled. In the wake of this poisonous flood the wily among the living hunkered down and watched. Behind that flood, in the ravaged and ruined land to the rear of the rotting march, people began to gather, to assemble, to wait and watch and exist.
The ones who yet lived were searching for one thing and one thing only:
Friday, December 05, 2008
When I was a very young child, I happened upon a magazine in the vast stacks of books, comics, and other printed material that my father was accumulating in preparation for opening his first used bookstore. That magazine had a garish cover featuring a monster.
At seven years of age, I was already a fan of dinosaurs and anything that smacked of the fantastic. The cover hooked me and I picked it up and began reading the text and looking at the enormous wealth of photographs from various monster movies. I was instantly addicted to this magazine. It was Famous Monsters of Filmland.
Published by a guy named James Warren, it was edited by one Forrest Ackerman who, I came to realize, was probably the biggest overgrown kid who ever lived. "Forry" (as he was affectionately know to his legions of fans) was the editor of the coolest magazine on the racks. He was packed with enthusiasm for all things fantastic, the progenitor of some of the worst puns of all time, and purveyor of the wackiest editorial style I'd ever encountered.
While he was a grown-up, he seemed to be no more adult than I was at that age. He soon became my hero. But the thing about Forry is that he wasn't just one of my heroes; he was hero to hundreds--maybe thousands--of young people who would go on to become famous in careers that took them into directing, acting, writing, painting, sculpting, special effects, movie producing, etc. If it was attached somehow to filmmaking or writing or to comics, Forry seemed to touch just about everyone involved in these endeavors.
I finally met Forrest Ackerman when I was an adult, a published author, and the father of a little boy. When my son got the chance to meet this man, he treated my little boy with the same attitude that he took with everyone who met him: respect. Andy ended up spending most of that day hanging around Forry, listening to him tell his tales, and getting an education in all things out of fantastic "Horrorwood". Forry had made another fan.
About six months later, my son accompanied me to another convention where I was selling collectibles. He walked into the dealer's room with me and saw Forry standing across the huge hall. "Look, Daddy! It's Mr. Ackerman!" And he dashed off to say hello to his new hero. I knew he was in good company and had to smile as Forrest Ackerman looked down with a grin to see my tiny boy rushing up to him to say hello. The image still brings a tear to my eye.
Well, at the age of almost 92, Forry is dying. Likely, he won't be with us much longer. A life-long atheist, he has no illusions about waking up in some never-never land when that big heart finally stops beating. I'm assured that he's resting comfortably, waiting for the end, while well wishes pour in from his contemporaries--guys like Ray Bradbury, Ray Harryhausen, Richard Matheson, William Nolan--and the folk he influenced when he was editing FM and they were all little kids on their ways to not growing up--just like Forrest Ackerman.
We're all of us that he touched nothing but big, overgrown kids.
In spite of whatever faults he may have had, he has given unmeasured joy to generations of his fans who look to their imaginations. Thank you for adding to a life-time of wonder, Forry!
These three guys were actually childhood pals: Forrest Ackerman, Ray Harryhausen and Ray Bradbury. Thankfully, they never really stopped being children filled with fantastic dreams.