Spooky spooky books

Spooky

October 2019

Books Bought:

  • Meet me in Atlantis: Across Three Continents in Search of the Legendary Sunken City – Mark Adams
  • Tip of the Iceberg: My 3,000-Mile Journey Around WILD ALASKA, the Last Great American Frontier  – Mark Adams
  • Into the Wild – Jon Krakauer
  • The Pine Barrens – John McPhee

Books Read:

  • The Final Solution: A Story of Detection – Michael Chabon 
  • Riding the Bullet – Stephen King
  • Joyland – Stephen King
  • Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife – Mary Roach
  • Sometimes the Magic Works: Lessons from a Writing Life – Terry Brooks (unfinished)
  • Book of Sketches – Jack Kerouac (unfinished)
  • Tools of Titans – Tim Ferriss (unfinished)
  • Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender – David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D. (unfinished)
  • Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel – Rolf Potts

Ahh, October. For nearly a decade I’ve said that October is my busiest month of the year. I usually seem to be involved in a theatre production, working on my own projects, and making time for Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights. My first Horror Nights was in (oh dear lord) 1993. I’ve only missed a couple of years since, and most years I go multiple night.

So, onto the reading. Final Solution and Riding the Bullet were both short reads. Not much more than stories, really. I took on Joyland next. Having finished Joyland, I have this notion about Stephen King. What he writes are human stories about growing up and loss. What he uses to relate to his reader are horror and suspense.

I’ve not read many of King’s books (Salem’s Lot; It; Desperation are three that I remember reading previously), so this assessment of mine is based only on what I have read. But it seems to me that King’s writing focuses on the human connection between his characters in the face of immense horror. Joyland didn’t have immense horror, but enough of the supernatural element to provide a chill. And the serial killer’s identity is one that leaves you guessing until the end.

Mary Roach’s Spook was something I had seen at Barnes & Noble in the Science section last year I think. Good overall, it was a quasi-historical examination of how we’ve been looking for proof of the afterlife for centuries. Proof is something that, when used to speak of afterlives, can only be used in a loose sense.

Various experiments were described, such as weighing the newly deceased. audio recording, sensory experiments in high-risk operations, etc. I learned about the Society for Psychical Research, whose focus is the study of events and abilities classified as paranormal or psychic in nature.

Her determination at the end was really the only place it could go, given the research she did, but I suppose it does leave you wanting more. Assuming you are interested in afterlife studies.

Other than that I perused a number of books. I read a bit of Kerouac, Ferriss, Hawkins, and Potts, as well as Terry Brooks’s Magic. I like books on writing craft, and since reading Draft No. 4 by McPhee, I decided to look to some other writers. I also made it through the first couple of pages of Mark Adam’s Meet me in Atlantis, as well as a book Seven Schools of Yoga, by Ernest Wood. Both will likely be on November’s reading list, time permitting.

Of the four purchased books, three came in used. Into the Wild and Pine Barrens I got at a library book sale. Tip of the Iceberg was new but discounted. Again, I’m counting my pennies. But, it speaks to my love of the last American frontier – Alaska. Sadly I no longer see mountains in the clouds when I look up at them. I suppose that means that it’s time to go back…

And with that, another Halloween season has closed. I carved a pumpkin this year, the first in many years. I also ate candy intended for trick-or-treaters. They still had plenty though. And I read. They weren’t all that spooky, but they were fun.

 

Weekly Rundown

Yes, I think that has stuck. I like it. It’s kind of like my weekly check-in, but with less introspection. Just things that have caught my attention.

What I’m reading: Monsters Among Us: An Exploration of Otherworldly Bigfoots, Wolfmen, Portals, Phantoms, and Odd Phenomena by Linda S. Godfrey. I wanted to get one more seasonal read in before November. Well, what to say. Do you believe in spirit creatures, possessions, skin walkers, UFOs, or otherworldly portals? Or not? Either way, an interesting book broken down in case studies. 

Additionally, if you check out the @WerewolfReports bot on Twitter, you can keep updated on odd werewolf sightings… If you believe in that kind of thing.

What I’m listening to: Lore, from Aaron Mahnke. Specifically the Trick or Treat episodes from 2016 and 2017. But, listen to whatever you feel like. Or, watch the video series on Amazon Prime Video!

What I’m spending time with: Switching over my recording from Audacity to GarageBand. I host a radio show twice a week, which is prerecorded and aired on 107.1 WZEA. Until recently I had used Audacity. However, since updating the MacBook, my microphones don’t work for recording. There’s a cumbersome workaround, but I’d rather have a simple time making my episodes. So I’ve been looking at the GarageBand recording platform. It seems that there used to be a Podcast recording option, since removed, but it works fairly well. I’ll give it a try, and either continue on it, or switch back when the new update for Audacity comes out.

Other things of interest this week:

  • This article from Vice on what the absence of humanity would look like on Earth. It’s something similar to what I’ve been contemplating, like in Because one day we die. What do we individually leave behind? And, what as a species will be left?
  • Seth Godin on his late friend Lionel Poilane, who owned a bakery in Paris, Poilane’s  daughter Apollonia’s new book.
  • Looking to the future, my friend and I are planning a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. Doubtful it will be next year, because I’m looking to do some fun work over the summer, prime hiking time. So the possible start is March 18, 2021. We’ll see how our plans go between now and then.
  • Maria Popova on Thirteen Years of Brain Pickings. A great website, with great weekly emails.
  • Another listen: Marketplace’s Conversations from the Corner Office with Walking Dead Content Director Scott Gimple.

Sugar Rush

Halloween. The candy is out, and the houses are decorated with pumpkins, cobwebs, and other scary paraphernalia.

I do love this time of year. It’s been hotter here in Florida, so it’s missing that fall mystique. However it’s still October, and that’s a great time of year for me. Busy. But great.

As you unwrap the candies and snack away, waiting for trick-or-treaters, or watch scary movies to celebrate, I hope you remember what it was like when you were young. When monsters were real, and magic lurked behind everything you didn’t understand.

I think there’s joy in living life that way, which is why we get to be envious of youth.

Happy Halloween.

Finally a hint of autumn

A storm ushered in a cold front, dropping temperatures nearly twenty degrees. It’s been hot here in Florida. Not the baking, oppressive heat of July or early August. But hot.

There’s a beautiful ritual of fall that we miss out on down here in the Tropical South.  I call it Tropical South because it’s below the Southern States – not quite redneck heaven, but not quite Caribbean paradise either. It’s a mixed bag, and I think that’s why so much crazy shit happens in Florida.

But we don’t really get leaves changing. We don’t get the crisp autumn nights. It’s too hot for spiced apple cider, and then when it finally cools down it’s right to hot chocolate and egg nog.

But we have costumes for Halloween (hot, sweaty costumes), and we have Turkey-Day football. And come Christmas Day, most years it’s nice enough to get some down at the beach.

Like I said… A mixed bag.

Weekly rundown

Now, that doesn’t actually sound horrible to me. “The Weekly Rundown.” I’m sure it’s derivative of something else, but I may stick with that.

What I’m reading: Spook by Mary Roach. “What happens when we die? Does the light just go out and that’s that—the million-year nap? Or will some part of my personality, my me-ness persist? What will that feel like? What will I do all day? Is there a place to plug in my lap-top?” In an attempt to find out, Mary Roach brings her tireless curiosity to bear on an array of contemporary and historical soul-searchers: scientists, schemers, engineers, mediums, all trying to prove (or disprove) that life goes on after we die.

What I’m listening to: Halloween music. Or more specifically, classical pieces of music that has a spooky tilt to it. You can try these out for a start.

What I’m spending my time with: The AFI 100. They’ve been on my list for a while, and I’m checking them off. So far I’m fifteen films in. I’m planning on getting them all watched by the end of the year.

Other things of interest:

  • The Fountain Pen Network. Here’s a place to nerd out over fountain pens. If, you know, you’re into that sort of thing…
  • A24’s screenplay books. The first run of three books has sold out, with second printing arriving December 13th. These are attractive books to add to your screenplay collection – if you have one.
  • And in my continuing struggle to find a good night’s sleep, here are some suggestions from Huckberry’s Brooke Vaughn.

My Friday roundup

mmm… Friday Roundup. It sounds a lot like the 1A Friday News Roundup. Not sure that’s going to stick.

What I’m reading: From the Dust Returned by Ray Bradbury. Plunked out Something Wicked and Halloween Tree. My deep dive into Bradbury continues with more fiction. I don’t know why I didn’t read more of his stuff when I was younger. Hard-headed, I guess. After having to read Fahrenheit 451, it was a matter of principle to not read him. A mistake. Also, found this interview from NEA’s Big Read which I enjoyed.

What I’m listening to: Miss Nelson is Missing: The Musical. My next theatre project and I’m getting a head start on the material the best I can. I never thought I’d be one for TYA (Theatre for Young Audiences), but I like it. It tends to be much lighter, and therefore you can have a lot of free-spirited fun with it. Also, kids usually are more appreciative than adult audiences. (Not always, but usually.)

What I’m spending time with: My dog. Having a light month of work means more time at home, so he gets the benefit.
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Other things of interest to me this week:

  • Research on the Wendigo. I was captivated by the native Alaskan people and some of the tribal myths I heard. I did a little research on Alaskan culture and progressed some into Canada and the Pacific Northwest. Where, according to the legends of the Algonquian peoples, the Wendigo lived. A few links, if you’re interested: Backstory Radio; Extra Credits Animated; How Stuff Works.
  •  The painting style of Bob Ross. I do recall watching the show on PBS in the late 80s, early 90s. I was young, but that voice is hard to forget. You can also find a selection of episodes on Netflix or YouTube.
  • American Horror Story: 1984. More in the horror genre, and in the vein of the 80s, I watched the first episode of AHS 1984 this week. Truth be told, this is the first time I’ve been excited for a season of AHS since the first season. I haven’t even watched all the previous seasons. But resonates, as I grew up watching Friday the 13thNightmare on Elm StreetSleepaway Camp, etc. And actually, my cousin was the real horror-buff in the family. He had all the toys, the movies, and the spooky knowledge. The family even lived in this two-story cabin in the woods, and I’d go visit and watch scary movies, or Star Wars or Masters of the Universe, and we had a lot of fun. Anyway, this is a nice throwback – so far.

Friday…

I’m considering what to call this weekly post. I used to post a poem a month, and the reading/book list every month. When I switched to daily, I left off the poetry – more or less. I still try and post my monthly books lists. But as to Friday, and what I’ve been spending time with…

What I’m reading: Draft No. 4 by John McPhee. I purchased this sometime in the past six months. Not sure it was included on a monthly list. Trying to focus more on getting books read, posts published, decluttering, organizing, etc. I’m liking this book so far. It’s giving me a little insight into forming story, at least from McPhee’s perspective. You can learn more about McPhee and read some of his writing over at the New Yorker website. Coincidently, I was subscribed to the New Yorker around 2013-2015. I may have read some of his writing before and not even known it.

What I’m listening to: The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury. Something Wicked has led me down a deep dive of sorts, including checking out From the Dust Returned from the library, and watching a bit of The Ray Bradbury Theater on Prime Video. Halloween Tree, read by Bronson Pinchot, is a history of Samhain, just in time for the Halloween season.

What I’m spending time with: Halloween Horror Nights. I’ve gone nearly every year for the past 26 years. My mother took me when I was a child, and I have fond memories of it. I still enjoy the spectacle and design of Horror Nights, though I no longer feel frightened in their scary attractions. This year includes houses on Universal Monsters, House of a Thousand CorpsesStranger Things, Jordan Peele’s Us, and Ghostbusters, as well as non-licensed houses. I know some of the actors as well from working around the area.

◊ Also on Universal’s monster franchise, I received this article from Hollywood Reporter  this week, speculating how Invisible Man and Dark Army will usher in a potential new wave of horror genre goodness.
◊ This old Thrillist article on why Netflix sometimes has terrible movies in your suggestions. (I’m cleaning out my reading list – finally – and this has been in there since 2016.)
◊ YouTube video of Tao Chi Kai massage on busy street in UK. I like massage and chiropractic videos, and routinely do adjustments to myself. There’s also a link in the video notes for Tiger Balm.
◊ One more YouTube channel to check out: And You Films. Their most popular videos are Diary of a Wimpy Alien and you can start with episode 1. I’ve been friends with this group for fifteen years, and they are nearing 100K subscribers. Follow them if you’re interested in updates.