Wanted: Monster

monster 2The Parker Institute for Time Travel Studies (The PITTS), renowned throughout time and space as the penultimate college dedicated to finding those who are not lost or even confused or misplaced, is seeking a monster for an upcoming experiment in a basement laboratory.  The ideal candidate will be required to participate in a variety of scientific investigations including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Mind Transfer
  • Transmogrification into a Rat, Sewer
  • Transmogrification into a Bat, Vampire
  • Mopping Floors
  • Time Travel to 17th Century Transylvania
  • Getting Coffee for Mad Scientists
  • ESP
  • ESPN (for score reports, football season only)
  • Temporary Duty (TDY) to the Roswell Army Air Field, New Mexico, 1947
  • Crop Circle Creation
  • TDY to certain regions between Bermuda and Florida

Experience in medicine is a plus, especially familiarity with snake oil, leeches, eyes of newt, garlic, crucifixes, ice baths, opium, extortium, and powdered unicorn horns.

The term monster used in this advertisement may apply to any horrific carnivorous being, including extraterrestrials, mythological creatures, dinosaurs, giant insects, vermin, lycanthropes, golems, oozes, dire wolves, cockroaches and other aberrations of nature.

Salary remitted in stock options.

The PITTS is an equal opportunity employer.

Copyright © 2013

Don’t Be a Dumpster Fire

ImageYou don’t write to get rich.  You write because writing is a fundamental part of who you are.  Your odds of becoming Stephen King or Sue Grafton are longer than your odds of winning a multi-state lottery.

The basic idea behind any form of art is to express emotions.  You’ll notice I write a lot about time travel, science fiction, horror, and love.  I write about love and romance because I have a sentimental streak.  I write about horror because of panic attacks, and people are drawn to things that scare them (counterintuitive, but true).  I write about science fiction because I grew up watching the original Star Trek, and it’s like comfort food for me.  And I love time travel for some reason I can’t really explain.  Maybe I have a lot of regrets and want to right some wrongs.  Who the hell knows?  Or maybe I’d just like swap one-liners with Groucho Marx.  “After two days in the hospital I took a turn for the nurse.”

I also dish out writing advice.  You know where I get that wisdom?  Failure … sometimes epic.  Or, as we say on Twitter, #dumpsterfire fiction.  If you try to imitate bestsellers, your novel is going to be a disaster, a dumpster fire in kids’ lingo today.  And you’ll feel like one, too, after spending all that time and effort to produce something no one wants to read.  Believe me, I’ve been there.

Caveat: This does not mean you set your sights low.  No.  Aim to be the very best writer you can  be.  Every sentence you write should be exactly what you want to read.  Anything less and you’re being dishonest.

But if you’re trying to become Dan Brown or Suzanne Collins, forget it.  We already have a Brown and a Collins and a King and a Grafton.  Mimicking them is not going make you rich and famous.

If you want to get rich you need to be flipping houses and bootlegging whiskey.

Writers are artists, and we get paid the same.  Would you like fries with that?

Peace, from Keith

Copyright © 2013

Rocky Edge (A Short Story)

rockYou are standing at the edge of a cliff and looking out at the gray, churning water 30 feet below as waves crash over jagged rocks.  You back away, half-dizzy, stomach pumping with vertigo.  Behind you to your right is an outcropping of grim boulders, weathered from wind, flattened by time.  You thrust your hands into the pockets of your Levi’s and wince as your dry knuckles scrape against the hemline of the blue jeans’ stitching.

You shuffle and slide across black soggy leaves over to the boulder that grows out of the ancient Alabama mountainside.  Your hiking boots give you footing, but you still feel uneven, with pressure in your ears.

You turn and sit on a tongue of rock that forms a chair unusually well-suited for your thin frame, one of those natural seats that doesn’t seem real somehow, but that you know has been there since prehistoric times, before anything that we know as intelligent walked or slithered on earth.  And for some reason you remember a children’s bible illustration where Jesus, sitting on a similar rock, gestured His eight beatitudes to a throng.  You  can’t remember the commandments, but you know you are not among the blessed.

But thinking of childhood Sunday school does make you think of the word love, and you know you didn’t love Allisa, and you know that you never really loved her, that you were merely

horny

obsessed by her.  And it was not even by her looks per se.  While not ugly, she would never pass Madison Avenue’s tests for looks.  Her crystal blues under those thinning black bangs turned you on.  But did they work on others?  Her Cuban accent and cravings for Thai food, her encyclopedic knowledge of architecture multiplied your

lust

romantic longings, which she did not reciprocate.  Not until that final night.  Not until her passion boiled over and set you on fire.  Her friendship had been platonic and yet, and yet … there was always the “ooh ah” factor in your favor.

Allisa had giggled at the first sight of computer eye candy.  When was that?  1990? ’91?  You’d shown her the shiny new Windows 3 splash screen as it zoomed across your monitor.  Techie stuff won her heart as often as roses.  She broke out in a huge grin when you told her you were going to email something to yourself.   That was her first Internet epiphany, circa 1994.  Years later, last week to be exact, she texted a picture of herself to you.  In the photo she stood beside a mural at the art museum — a mural of a twisty mountain road — hand on her hip, a smile in her eyes, one black pump up in the air.

The fundraiser at the museum had gone well into the night.  You waited up for her.  She’d texted around 11:00 or so, admitting she’d had three glasses — and counting — of Merlot, admitting her date was a creep, admitting she really wished you were there.

Drunk yourself from a twelve pack of beer and no food, you called her cell an hour later.  She’d answered on the first ring with a sweet, “Hell-lloo.”

“I only have sex with good-looking guys,” she’d told you. “That son of a –.  It’s always like that, isn’t it?  They’re always like that.  Sex.  Drugs.  Rock-and-roll.  All of them.”

You didn’t follow her train of thought, muddied by wine, or yours, sullied by beer.  But your eyes had lit up.  Your face had brightened.

Unlike now.

Now your face sags, hangdog eyes.  You feel scaly, eyes bulging like a fish’s.  What was it the nerd said in the office last week?  The guy with the letters MISKA-some-shit-or-other on his sweatshirt that casual Friday?

“You’ve got that Innsmouth look going, buddy.”

You had no idea what that had meant.  You didn’t care.  You didn’t care then, and you don’t care now.  Your mouth is hanging open, though, so you can take in big gulps of air.  Mouth-breather.  You roll your

bulging

eyes.  Well, you are from Alabama.  That’s what people expect to see.  Mouth-breathers.

You sigh.  Your thoughts are gloomy, pre-winter clouds, roiling like a too-hot November day that presages tornado outbreaks.

You snap out of your daydream when you realize your hands are tingling.  They’re still in the pockets of your jeans. You’d sat down with them like that.  Now you wiggle them out, and the dry skin on your hands finally cracks, and two of your knuckles bleed.  You grip one hand with the other, worried you’ll get blood all over your North Face jacket and people will stare at you later.  Either that, or the coroner will ponder your bloody hands after they fish your body from the waters below.

There isn’t much you can do, is there?  Your mind is numbed by data entry and bad nutrition and subtle musings about madness.

“Do you want to come over?” you had said to Allisa Fuentes that night.

And Allisa Fuentes, from Santiago de Cuba, where communist revolution had been born, had giggled like a conservative white American schoolgirl of the 1950s.

“Sure!  I’m turning around now, and we can –.”

The phone had gone dead in your hand.  You gawked at it, a stupid grin on your face.  You tried her number again.  You tried it over and over, assuming she just hit a dead spot in coverage.  No signal.

“I’m turning around now, and we can –,” had been Allisa’s last words when, distracted, she lost control of the car, and plunged 1000 feet into the roaring mountain river below.

She was still holding the phone when they found her.  It was her right hand.  You’re looking at your own right hand now.  It’s still bleeding.  And scaly.   It’s the color of a fish.

You stand, roll your head, and shuffle away from the rocky edge of the cliff, wondering if the words “Innsmouth look” have any real meaning.  Maybe they do, but weird crap like that doesn’t matter.  You walk back and get in your car, a high-tech SUV that’d been idling, waiting for you, and when its display lights up, telling you your own cell phone has been detected by its Bluetooth rigging, you grind your teeth, take the phone and sling it as far as you can out the car window, over the bluff.   As you put the car into drive you think you hear the goddamn thing die on the rocks below.  You hope so.  You’re going to pretend you do, anyway.

The End

Copyright © 2013 Alan Keith Parker.  This is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Do Writers Need a Blog?

The Christmas holidays gave me some time to reflect on writing and the flu, which are an oddly similar afflictions.  One of thing that I kept circling back to was this question: Do we writers need to have blogs?

Nessie

I started this blog back in 2011 to give out free writing advice, for what it’s worth.  I then rebooted it last year to focus on writing science fiction or — as I call it at cocktail parties — sex scenes.

But seriously, even under the huge umbrella of science fiction, fantasy and horror, I don’t really have a focus.  Just think about all the things I’m interested in:

  • Science fiction
  • College football
  • Fantasy
  • Television
  • Home improvement projects (I even do windows)
  • Time travel
  • The Civil War
  • Creative writing
  • Computer modeling
  • Graphics
  • JFK
  • Encyclopedias
  • Maps
  • Atlases
  • Classic rock
  • Cuba
  • Gnosticism
  • Humor
  • Horror
  • World War II
  • Beer
  • Collecting books
  • The Cold War
  • Old school D&D
  • Pencil-sketching
  • Restaurants

This is pretty typical of writers, being interested in lot of stuff.  We’re sponges.  We’d probably make good Jeapordy contestants.

My dilemma is that I have the attention span of a puppy running through a pet store.  If I start writing a time travel story today, by Friday I’ll shelve it and start working on a nonfiction piece about beer.  I’ve written three novels, hundreds of short stories, and enough blog entries for a decent book.

Sure, I’ve been pimping my one published novel and my thin collection of published shorts (not boxers), but my writing has not exactly zoomed into the stratosphere.  And I’ve been doing this for 20 years.

So, why continue with this blog?  This isn’t a pity-party.  I’m not slumped-shouldered (except when grave-robbing).  I’m asking a real question: Do writers need a blog?  I’d be curious to hear your thoughts.

Until next time,

Peace, from Keith

Copyright © 2013 Alan Keith Parker

Jackie is Moving Quickly Now (A Short Story)

Jackie is jogging now, her size 5 tennis shoes squeaking on the tile floor of the mall, her breath quickening as her heart pounds away in her throat. His footsteps, the ones from the black, sound like metal on the tiles, like sadistic tap shoes following her down the aisle. She breaks into a full sprint and whacks her thigh on the corner of some serving counter — a Starbucks? McDonalds? Sbarro Pizza? Doesn’t matter. It hurts, and it’s in her way, and it slows her down, bruises her pace even though Jackie is moving quickly now. Ahead of her is a row of chairs. They sit near the escalators, but Jackie wrinkles her brow at that escape route because escalators tripped her up when she was little, when she got her skirt caught in its

teeth

treads. That saved Jackie’s life, but it didn’t matter because back then the man was after her mother, not her, unlike the man in the steel-toed boots who’s chasing her now.

boots

Everything is surreal, nightmarish. Is she moving or is the row of the chairs? They rush forward, like oncoming runway lights. Old people sit here, talk about young people these days. But they are empty of any people right now. The black is behind her. He turned the corner and he missed the coffee counter. The villain always has the best luck. Click, click, click go his shoes. Jackie turns her head quickly left, then right, her eyes begging for help from people who are not in the shoe stores and the jewelry stores and the You’re-Not-Wearing-the-Latest stores. Only the mannequins watch her. They seem more alive than

Jackie will be

any of the salesmen who put up the 1/2-Price ONE DAY ONLY signs earlier.

Dizzy from the glittery goodness of kiosks Jackie’s shoes squeal to a halt beside an overstuffed mall chair. Whoever said tennis shoes were silent was just a damn-fool-liar in Jackie’s book, yes sir-ee, Bob. She leans on the chair, out of breath, her throat burning. When she blinks she sees the cane, propped neatly beside a chair, and a half-open James Michener resting over the arm of another, and an empty Starbucks cup on a side table. But it’s not empty, is it? No. Steam rises from it, as if the owner forgot about it because he

got killed?

got up and left to go home.

Cold, bony fingers wrap around her shoulder. Bony. Bone. And that’s when bile catches in her throat. The man takes — took — his victims and did something to their bones, with a hammer. She sees his pink-skinned hand with its thin, blue veins sticking out of his Member’s Only black jacket. She doesn’t turn around. She doesn’t need do that. Instead, Jackie grabs the steaming coffee, and wheels about on one heel.

She flings the scalding coffee in the man’s face. He screams. It’s a dark, angel-of-death scream.

Later the detectives ask her how she knew, because the crime against her mother had happened 30 years ago, in 1984. The man in the black coat was in his 50s then. He’s in his 80s, now. The people at the mall thought she was sadistic, attacking an old man like that. Little did they know. So the detective asks her — has to ask her — what clued her in, probably wondering how he’ll deal with the vigilante justice angle even though she’s caught the man who’s been wanted for decades.

“The shoes,” Jackie says. “Those awful steel-toed boots. When I fell on the escalator he kicked me. I was just a little girl. He kicked me when I was down.”

The detective brings her some tissue. Jackie nods, begins to sob. Tomorrow, she thinks, she’ll sign up her daughter for tap lessons. Jackie will finally be able to tolerate the sound of metal clicking on a floor.

The End

This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events, is purely coincidental. Copyright © 2012 Alan Keith Parker, All Rights Reserved.

Fountain of Youth? Yes, Please

“Et lacrimatus est Iesus.” – Saint John, The Gospel of Saint John

“Who’s the more foolish? The fool, or the fool who follows him?” – Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star WarsGospel of John

The question, “Would I drink from the Fountain of Youth” is very easy for me to answer.  It is an unequivocal yes.  There is no doubt in my mind that I could live a richer, fuller, happier life if I were in my 20s again.

What does drinking from the Fountain entail?  My assumption is that I find myself in a South American jungle, peering into a dark, bat-shrouded cave, with moss and glistening wet rocks adorning its entrance way.  I look down and see a strange rodent scooting along among dead leaves.  I step over the tiny animal and proceed inside, down a corridor carved by man from an antediluvian era, and find myself at the edge of a stone ring, where a pool of water that’s clearer than clear gushes from a statue in the center.  The statue is not of this world.  Its geometry is wrong.  But unlike Lovecraft’s indescribable angles that cause his characters to go mad, I see this statue as something beautiful and breathtaking, like a glass darkly that’s suddenly turned to light.  The air in here is fresh and cool, and has a desert-like clarity, ironic for a damp cave mired in the tropics. Indy 3

The whole damn thing is ironic, isn’t it?

But I still drink – with the cup of my hand.

I have to make an assumption about the Fountain of Youth here.  I must be able to carry today’s wisdom into my youth again.  How young will I be?  I assume I can have my body restored to its perfect condition, much like the promises made in the Bible about those who are resurrected into the new city of Jerusalem.

That’d make me right about 21-years-old.  The reason for my lack of doubt, the reason that I say YES to the Fountain of Youth is because my cup over-floweth with so many, many deep regrets.  And while I’ve made corrections, I need time to implement them.  I feel weird adding this part, but I think I should add that I’ve never committed a crime, or set out to hurt anyone on purpose, but my own lack of self-worth has caused me decades of misery.

And so you might be asking why I think it’d be any different.  That’s a fair question.  After all, the Fountain of Youth either restores your body to an ideal self or allows you immortality.  It is not, however, a 1982 Delorean with 1.61 GW under the hood.  I do not get a chance to start over again from the year 1986 (when I was 21); I must live as a 20-something in today’s half-real, half-cyber world.

Think I’d make a good millennial?  Yeah, me either.

If you’ve read my blog over the past few months – or if you were one of my earliest followers when I was simply giving out free writing advice, for what it’s worth – you know I’ve sought to follow my heart.  That’s why I’ve been so excited about discovering TV shows like Doctor Who, or why I was spellbound last night at The Hobbit, or why I lie back in my recliner and watch re-reruns of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and A Charlie Brown Christmas.  I’m a dreamer.  It doesn’t mean I can’t change a flat tire.  I can. And I’m actually a really good plumber (career alternative?).  But the dreaming keeps me grounded. The science fiction and fantasy and horror and hay fever …

AACHOO!

… are keeping it real .

I want – I need – more time and more energy.  I need to be a better father and husband and friend and writer.  I need vigor to propel me forward.  And, quite frankly, I need a miracle, a miracle called time.  It’s selfish.  Maybe it’s greedy, too.  But Daffy Duck has those qualities, so how can I go wrong with that kind of role model?

Peace be with you,

Keith

Text Copyright © 2012 Alan Keith Parker. All Rights Reserved.

For Susan, Wherever I May Find Her

Susan is ordinary. That’s the extraordinary thing about Susan.

Last night I watched the very first episode of Doctor Who, an episode titled, “An Unearthly Child,” that was broadcast on the BBC in November 1963, evidently not too many days after the Kennedy assassination.  I suspect, given the circumstances, that a fantasy such as this was a welcome relief, even in the UK.

So what did “An Uneartly Child” bring to the table that impressed me last night, approximately 49 years later?  It brought a haunting.  London fog.  Eerie lighting.  Suspense that only black-and-white television can deliver.  Horror memes.  And it brought a feeling that I know the episode’s protagonist, Susan Foreman.

Susan ForemanSusan is a very human alien (apologies to Captain Kirk).  She simultaneously astounds and confounds, baffling her teachers enough that they follow her “home,” to the junkyard where her grandfather keeps the TARDIS.  But I’m impressed with Susan.  And I wonder why that is.  She isn’t a knockout.  She’s not glamourous.  She doesn’t seem to have a flamboyant or funny personality.  She isn’t even particuarly normal, and yet …  and yet she aspires to be.  She is a genuis and a thinker — and sometimes the butt of a joke — who loves to groove to rock-n-roll on her transitor radio.  Like George McFly in Back to the Future, or even Star Trek‘s clumsy “Charlie X”, Susan shows little outward charisma.  (Side note: The actress Carole Ann Ford is actually quite attractive; I’m not being a beauty pageant judge here.)  But what Susan lacks in charisma, she makes up for with … charisma.  There’s something immenintly compelling about this girl who, of course, is not a girl at all.

This is something I’m going to mull over as I consider my next short story, and it’s an avenue worth exploring when reviewing movies, TV, and books.  How can a character be so engaging and yet so … plain?  There are millions of Susans in real life.  Maybe we’d do ourselves justice by seeking them out instead of the women who grace the pages of Vogue and Vanity Fair.  I don’t know.  In fact, I know even less than I did, and maybe that’s a good thing.  And since I apologized to Captain Kirk, I need to apologze to Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel as well, because I’m going to start looking for Susans, wherever I may find them.

Untill next time,

Peace, from Keith

Copyright © 2012 Alan Keith Parker. All Rights Reserved.

Time Enough at Least …

“Man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creature endures.” ~ Mitch Albom, The Time Keeper

As promised, even if not on time, is a list of my five favorite TV episodes involving time travel.  As I did last week, I’ll list them first, then tell you why I like each one, this time in reverse ascending order (there’s probably a word for that, but I’m too lazy to think what it is).

  1. The City on the Edge of Forever
  2. Trials and Tribble-ations
  3. Blink
  4. The Constant
  5. A Hundred Yards Over the Rim

Number 5 on my list is “A Hundred Yards Over the Rim,” the classic from The Twilight Zone.  It tells the very human tale of Christian Horn, a pioneer from 1847 who goes on a quest to find water for his sick and dying son.  When he climbs over the top of a ridge, Horn finds himself near a highway diner in the year 1961. His character displays a dramatically inspiring mix of confusion and conviction.  During his encounter with a kind but confused couple at the diner, and a thoroughly bewildered doctor, Horn discovers an encyclopedia that shows the fate his family’s going to meet.  This last bit of foreshadowing, coupled with growing suspicion from the 1961 residents, propel Horn into action.  Amazing action.  And the results are simultaneously thrilling and moving.  The wonder of this episode is its simple “realism,” a hard device for a fantasy to pull off.  The story resonates because of character.  Yes, there are time paradoxes, but rather than being a distraction, these actually add additional dimensions to Horn’s character, mysterious dimensions of the kind so typical of Rod Serling.

Number 4 on my list is the episode “The Constant” from LOST.  Here we where find Desmond Hume hopping between modern day events on the island/freighter and his days in the Royal Scots Military Regiment.  This is the first episode of LOST that does not employ flashback per se.  Instead, it cranks up drama by seesawing poor Desmond across two key periods of his life.  Details of his romance with Penny are revealed, as is the meaning of the episode’s title.  Simultaneously playing games with free will versus determinism, which LOST did with aplomb, this is perhaps the best episode LOST produced.  And that’s quite a statement considering it’s one of the best TV series in history.  What I think I love most, though, is this episode touches on something deeply personal: The notion of dualism, that our consciousness/soul can separate itself from our physical body.  Call me old-fashioned or just plain delusional, but this is something I really, really want to believe in.  And, despite my training as a scientist – or perhaps because of it – I do believe in the separation of body and spirit.  I have no idea how, or why.  I just do.

Number 3 on my list is “Blink,” an episode from the 2007 season of the never-ending British series Doctor Who.  This show grabbed me by the nape of the neck a few days back and it hasn’t let go.  Are you scared of cemetery angels? I wasn’t … until now. When Sally Sparrow’s roommate is bolted back in time to become a grandmother, I knew I was watching a potential classic.  But as the show unfolded with a combination of every known horror meme and the ever-fascinating grandfather paradox (as it were), I knew I’d stumbled upon a masterpiece!  The episode uses time hopping in a way that’d make Vonnegut drool while producing a damn creepy video experience at the same time.  With jolting imagery, an attractive protagonist, and a little philosophizing on the nature of time itself (like I did in my short story “Some Seconds Last Longer than Others”) you’ll never think of Easter eggs the same way again.  Watch it in the dark … during a thunderstorm.  I dare ya.  I double-dog dare ya.

Number 2 on my list is a sentimental tribute to an earlier era: The episode is “Trials and Tribble-ations” of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.  For various reasons that only Trek fans truly understand “Trials and Tribble-ations” rises above its home series and elevates itself into Trek mythology.  The crew from the space station travels back in time to the USS Enterprise that we all know and love, to the very day the tribbles infested Captain Kirk’s beloved vessel.  The beauty of this episode is not that it’s any more or less effective than a regular ol’ time-travel story; this story resonates because it takes you “behind the scenes” of the Tribble story, letting you see what else happened aboard the starship that day.  And, nontrivially, it lets us revisit the innocence and optimism that we loved in the original Trek.  That’s why this episode is a favorite.  Whatever era our youth might’ve been (the 1920s/30s for my parents, the 1960s/70s for me), the allure of time travel is its temptation to return us to innocence.  We may be grownups now (or, in my case, pretending to be), but what if we traveled back and realized that our innocent youth really was innocent?  What if our memories of our first ballgame, our first day of summer vacation, our first roller coaster, our first kiss, really were as fun as we remember them to be?  This episode creates that sense of wonder for me.

Number 1 on my list is, of course, “The City on the Edge of Forever.” While technically an episode of Star Trek, in reality this is one of the best dramas ever aired on the small screen. The story involves a gateway to the past, controlled by a seemingly omniscient being called “The Guardian of Forever.”  When Dr. McCoy, suffering from delirium, jumps through the gateway into the 1930s, Kirk and Spock suddenly and immediately realize McCoy changed history.  What unfolds is a heart-crushing tale of love and sacrifice, against the  backdrop of Depression-era America, with the outcome of World War II hanging in the balance.  On the extreme off-chance you’ve never seen this episode, I won’t spoil it, but suffice to say that Harlan Ellison’s final line of dialog for Kirk still resonates with me: “Let’s get the hell out of here.”

.

Next time I’ll explore some thoughts on time travel in general, dipping a little bit into the science within the science fiction while, hopefully, keeping it lighthearted and keeping it real.

Until next time … so to speak …

Peace, from

Keith
.

The quote from Mitch Albom’s The Time Keeper is utilized here under fair use laws.
All other content is copyright © 2012 Alan Keith Parker.  All rights reserved.

Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror, oh, my, too!

Did you really think I’d write a Halloween blog and not have a sequel? How could I possibly be true to Hollywood’s model of movie-making if I muffed that one? Since today is actually Halloween, I thought you’d like to read about the the movies that have scared the living piss out of me over the years. I actually don’t like scary stuff all that much, which is a partial lie because some of my favorite stories from science fiction and fantasy hang close to that crumbling cemetery wall known as the horror genre.

20121031-130716.jpg

(The freakishly odd “mask” art was done by my daughter on our iPad. She didn’t mean for it to be a scary image, but when I saw it I immediately thought, “Hannibal Lecter.”)

A caveat about lying: I’m a fiction writer; I fib out of habit.

Now, on to the movies that have scared the holy mackerel out of me, even though I prefer swordfish, with field peas and a nice … never mind.

  • The freakin’ previews for The Exorcist back in the mid-70s … Jesus! Do you realize I’ve never seen that movie because of the previews?
  • The Silence of the Lambs – Well, what can you say? The movie is an Oscar-winning masterpiece, with freakishly superb acting by Anthony Hopkins and Jodi Foster … “quid pro quo
  • Psycho – Kids these days! Geesh, they’ll tell you that old movies aren’t scary. Next time they say this put them in a dark room and watch them shiver as Hitchcock’s black-and-white creepiness unfolds before them.
  • Seven – Okay, this flick is just downright “ewwww,” but I also can’t help thinking about it on days like this … or whenever a package comes in the mail.
  • The Green Mile – I don’t like executions. Hopefully there aren’t many people who do, but the electric chair puts me into a deer-in-headlights trance of abject terror quicker than most anything else (aside from disco).
  • Angel Heart – Yeah, this is the scariest thing I have ever seen. It’s gruesome, sickening, and hammers me over the head with the single worst fear I’ve ever had: Finding out I did something horrific that I cannot remember at all. And it doesn’t help that the ending implies that Harry Angel/Johnny Favourite is going to be riding the lightning soon (see above).

They tell you to write what you love. Makes me wonder: Should you also write what you hate?

If you’re out and about tonight, then please be safe. Keep your pets inside. Keep your kids safe.

Peace, from Keith

Copyright ©2012 Alan Keith Parker. This brilliant piece of writing is mine. All mine! Some countries give you the death penalty for stealing. Don’t do it!

Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror, oh my!

With Halloween fast upon us and — even scarier — a Presidential Election here in the U.S., I thought I’d share a list of science fiction, fantasy, and horror (SFFH) television episodes have scared the bejesus out of me over the years.  Most folks like to rent hack-n-slash movies this time of year, but I’ve always been drawn to the ole idiot box.

The first list contains episodes that I’ve seen over the years.  Keep in mind that some of these might’ve scared me when I was 10-years-old, while others kept me awake just last week (around Tuesday or so).  Again, this part of the couch potato list includes only those I have already seen, often repeatedly.  And my age does show here, because you’ll see the list is heavily laced with arsenic old-school TV programs.  What’s more, I’m not that big of a fan of horror, so shows like Supernatural have not even made the cut.  I am, however, a huge fan of the classic coming-of-age tale, so that explains why the Stephen King miniseries made the cut.
  • “Home” — The X-Files
  • “Dragon’s Domain” — Space:1999
  • “Living Doll” — The Twilight Zone
  • “The Hitchhiker” — The Twilight Zone
  • “It’s a Good Life” — The Twilight Zone
  • “Pilot, Part 1” — Lost
  • “The Doomsday Machine” — Star Trek (TOS)
  • “It Crawled out of the Woodwork” — The Outer Limits
  • “Corpus Earthling” — The Outer Limits
  • “Bushwhacked” — Firefly
  • “Beyond Life and Death” — Twin Peaks
  •  IT — The miniseries based on the Stephen King novel
  • “The Playground” — Ray Bradbury Theater
Now, here’s the list of TV episodes that I have not seen.  You might call it a “bucket list” I’ll get to beyond the grave … bwa ha ha.
A very grave list, indeed.
  • “Blink” — Doctor Who
  • “Shatterday” — Twilight Zone (1980s)
  • “Hush” — Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • “The Final Escape” — Alfred Hitchcock Presents
  • “Cool Air” — The Night Gallery
  • “Sylvia” — Little House on the Prairie
Did you notice that one of the shows is an episode of Space:1999?  That episode is a weird — and deeply disturbing — re-telling of the “Saint George and the Dragon” myth.  And while the series itself sucks-ass (as did most 70s SF) “Dragon’s Domain” will give you nightmares into old age … and probably turn you into a vegetarian as well. 
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So … these are mine.
Do agree?  Disagree?  Not care?
I’d like to hear what you think.
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As always,
Peace, from Keith
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Copyright © 2012 Alan Keith Parker. All Rights Reserved. If you steal my stuff I’ll scare the crap out of you.