Twenty Years Ago
Twenty Years From Now
Eventually, the road leads you here.
Twenty Years Ago
Twenty Years From Now
Eventually, the road leads you here.
November 16, 2016
Brian and his oldest son have spent a week in Seattle. His oldest son, now twenty-five, is a social worker by day, and a budding rock guitarist by night. He is a fan of Alice In Chains, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Mother Love Bone, and the rest of the grunge-era music (which is now considered classic rock—something that makes Brian feel that full weight of fifty that he knows will be drawing down on him next year). Given this, Seattle makes sense for what will be their first father and son vacation since the now-young-man was ten years old.
The second to last weekend of October, I made my way up north again, this time for the Merrimack Valley Halloween Book Festival in Haverhill, Massachusetts—a mass-signing event organized by Christopher Golden and involving about twenty or thirty horror authors. Podcast co-host Dave Thomas accompanied me for this part of the tour, and we stayed at the home of author James A. Moore.
Mary SanGiovanni and I have a ritual when we curl up on the couch at nine o’clock in the evening and watch television together. I always pick the first movie, and she always picks the second. We do this because I am always ready for bed by eleven at night, and Mary often stays up until one or two in the morning—and also because she likes to pick the worst horror movies you’ve ever seen.
In early October, Mary and I climbed into the Jeep and drove from Pennsylvania to Louisville, Kentucky, where we were both guests at a fairly new convention called Imaginarium. The organizers put on an excellent event. It is geared primarily towards writers, and it encompasses all genres. I highly recommend investing the money and traveling to the next Imaginarium, particularly if you are a beginning author. There were some fantastic, informative panels, and some wonderful networking opportunities.
“It’s a fun job, but it’s still a job. Save your money, man. A hit single don’t last very long. There’s gonna be another cat coming out, looking like me, sounding like me, next year. I know this.” – Cypress Hill, ‘Rock Superstar’
“Right when you get good, they replace you. Best thing that ever happened to me.” – Marc Maron
The third leg of the Farewell (But Not Really) Tour started off locally, at The Comic Store—an independently-owned comic book store in Lancaster, Pennsylvania (where I was joined by Mary SanGiovanni). From there, it moved on to a pop-up signing in New Jersey, independently-owned bookstores in Rhode Island (where scholar Jack Haringa led a Q&A), and Vermont (where I was joined by Asher Ellis), before eventually circling back home again for a signing at a corporate-owned Books-a-Million chain store in Harrisburg.
There was a long moment of stunned silence.
Then Dave asked, “Are you insane?”
“No,” I replied, suddenly feeling very foolish. “I mean, Mary experienced it, too.”
“I felt something in the bookstore that day,” she confirmed, “but I don’t know what I think about the rest of this.”
“Oh, I’ve no doubt you guys experienced something,” Dave said. “I’ve had my own encounters with the paranormal over the years. And who knows? Maybe you did make brief contact with Jesus. It’s possible.”
I frowned. “Then why do you think I’m insane?”
“Because you’re not talking about seeing his ghost. You’re talking about stealing his corpse!”
“It’s hard to love, there’s so much to hate
Hanging on to hope, when there is no hope to speak of
And the wounded skies above, say it’s much too late
So, maybe we should all be praying for time…”
George Michael – ‘Praying For Time’
“Everybody thought it was a big joke… It was so funny, I just kept on going…Everybody thought I was just going to go on tweaking the Major’s balls to the very end. Which was what I did. Then one morning I woke up and I was in. I was a Prime Walker…So I guess it turned out the Major was tweaking my balls.” Stephen King, The Long Walk
The audience in Morgantown, West Virginia was small—easily the smallest since Albuquerque—but the dozen or so people who showed up were enthusiastic and engaged. One guy, Jarod Barbee, had traveled all the way from Texas. It is December as I write this, recounting events that occurred at the end of July, and I’ve been going back through these columns, collecting them into manuscript format so Cemetery Dance can eventually publish them as a book. Many recurring things jump out at me as I re-read them.
“The allegorical nature of A Christmas Carol leads to relatively simplistic symbolism and a linear plot. The latter is divided into five Staves, each containing a distinct episode in Scrooge’s spiritual re-education. The first Stave centers on the visitation from Marley’s ghost, the middle three present the tales of the three Christmas spirits, and the last concludes the story, showing how Scrooge has changed. The Ghost of Christmas Past represents memory. The Ghost of Christmas Present serves as the central symbol of the Christmas ideal—generosity, goodwill, and celebration. Appearing on a throne made of food, the spirit evokes thoughts of prosperity, satiety, and merriment. Within the allegory, the silent, reaper-like figure of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come represents the fear of death, which refracts Scrooge’s lessons about memory, empathy, and generosity, insuring his reversion to an open, loving human being.” – Spark Notes
You ever heard of a crowd being described as “an ocean of people”? That’s what the third annual Scares That Care Weekend Charity Event was like—an ocean of horror movie and television celebrities and their fans, filmmakers and their fans, authors and their fans, publishers and their customers, haunt professionals and enthusiasts, comic book creators and their fans, paranormal investigators and their fans, make-up and special effects artists and their fans, cosplayers, and everyone else—all descending upon the convention hotel in Williamsburg, Virginia, to raise money for burn victims and children and women with cancer.
I was exhausted, but I had no choice but to cast myself into that ocean, to dive into that sea of humanity and hope I wouldn’t drown.
Scares That Care is an IRS approved 501 (c)(3) horror-themed charity that I donate my time and name to. We fight real monsters of childhood illness, cancer, and more by financially helping families experiencing these overwhelming hardships. Each case is unique. We provide money, toys, utilities, and other items to help sick children and their families. We do the same for women fighting breast cancer. And we also partner with actor Kane Hodder (the Friday the 13th series) to aid children who have suffered serious, life-altering burn injuries.
And thus began the most grueling part of the book signing tour since Tod Clark and I had driven across the American West—John Urbancik and I spent five days in mid-July crisscrossing Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. That no doubt sounds romantic and adventurous to some of you. Hell, up until a few years ago, it would have sounded romantic and adventurous to me, as well. It would have been my idea of fun. Sadly, it’s not so fun when you’re approaching fifty.
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