This final wrap up post for 2017 isn’t about one individual or even two, this is about our collective achievement. Machine Mean may have started with one nerdy guy talking about horror, history, politics, and whatever else crossed his mind, but it has GROWN way beyond that. From guest posts and interviews to a full on partnership between myself and Chad Clark, we have watched this little horror movie and book review site flourish. In 2017, we had over 17,000 readers, leaving over 200 comments, drawn in from all over the world–predominately in the United States, the UK, Canada, and France. Our most popular post was Chad’s article The Dark Tower And Toxicity in Modern Nerd Culture, ringing in nearly 2,000 reads. In 2017, we posted 137 articles totally nearly 190,000 words. But we couldn’t have done this alone. We’ve had a lot of help from some 31 really awesome contributors. Continue Reading
Following the huge success with 13: An Anthology of Horror and Dark Fiction that released last October (keeping on the top charts for horror anthologies ever since), Limitless Publishing has decided to bring even more dark fiction and horror. 13: Déjà Vu (Thirteen Series Book 2) has just released and as one of the authors in the anthology, I couldn’t be any more excited. The authors you enjoyed in the first 13 book are back with brand new tales, most of which are either sequels or continuations in some way to the work done in the original 13, to include: by
For my part, you will find the next installment in my continuing Twin Pines Hotel stories, completely exclusive to the 13 Anthology Series. You witnessed Will Fenning’s strange demise in Room 313, now bear witness to the story of mass murderer Andy Derek and his confrontation with Room 249. iScream Books had this to say regarding the story:
A disturbing story of a cross country cold blooded murder spree. The murderer hides out in a unique hotel while the man hunt ensues. I found myself cringing and grossed out with this story but I also found it very unique and clever with its plot.
Pickup your copy today on Amazon for only $0.99!!!
Howdy, folks. Just wanted to drop a quick line. Lots of exciting things are going on. Anticipation of some new horror movies coming out later this year, monster flicks like the new adaption of Stephen King’s IT and the finally being released Dark Tower: The Gunslinger flick. 47 Meters Down looks freaky as hell, mostly because of my fear of deep ocean water and all the many monsters that live there. Wish Upon looks pretty good too, as does God Particle (a hush hush third installment in the growing Cloverfield franchise). There seems to be a ton of horror coming out this year. Not that I’m complaining. Summer is my second favorite season next to fall. Yeah, here in Texas we like to barbecue and we enjoy swimming and drinking a cold one during the summer, but this season of beach balls and camping tents also invites the macabre. October is without a doubt THE season for horror. Its just not the only one.
There is a strong argument that summer is just as nostalgic when it comes to that feeling of fright. One of my favorite slasher franchises is built around the summer. Friday the 13th is ALL about creating terror around the appeal of camping. Which is funny because most of the Friday movies were filmed off-season during the late fall, but still…the image, the idea, the invocation takes us to that seat around the camp fire, listening to tales of dread and misery. Jaws is another blockbuster film that is surrounded by middle-class incantations of summer and then ripping those good-times to shreds. And the list goes on and on.
So, as the clock turns to June 20th lets remember the reason for the season and celebrate by going to the movies to see a new horror flick, or hosting a late night get-together or have yourself a stay-cation and toss in an old VHS copy Friday the 13th part 6. Or Critters 2. Or The Evil Dead. Go ahead, have a blast.
As my way of celebrating the start of Summer Frights, I’ve marked down my latest publication with Shadow Work Publishing. FEAST, which started this Saturday, June 17th, 2017, will be marked down at the low price of $0.99 for the eBook version on Amazon until June 24th, 2017. You can download this gory book directly to your Kindle device or to your FREE Kindle reader app. These apps are available on your smart phone, tablet, or even on your computer.
All proceeds goes to my monthly royalty % which in turn feeds my own horror habits…so you know its for a good cause.
Between the rural Texas towns of Bass and Sat is one of the most popular barbecue restaurants in America. Big Butts Bar-B-Que has been the seat of power for the Fleming family since the Great Depression, but when tragedy and scandal beset Titus and his surviving transgender son Lavinia, deals are made to keep control of the restaurant. An arrangement that will put a father at odds with his legacy. As the table is set, is it just the keys to the barbecue kingdom some are after, or something else entirely?
“Classically Greek, Tremendously Twisted” -The Haunted Reading Room.
“Extreme-ly superb!” -Confessions of a Reviewer.
“I think Shakespeare would’ve enjoyed it” -Lydian Faust.
Don’t wait. Get your copy today.
Often called The Hemingway of Horror, Thomas S. Flowers secludes away to create character-driven stories of dark fiction ranging from Shakespearean gore feasts to paranormal thrillers. Residing in the swamps of Houston, Texas, with his wife and daughter, his debut novel, Reinheit, was soon published with Shadow Work Publishing, along with The Incredible Zilch Von Whitstein, Apocalypse Meow, Lanmò, The Hobbsburg Horror, and FEAST. His military/paranormal thriller series, The Subdue Series, including Dwelling, Emerging, Conceiving, and Converging, are published with Limitless Publishing, LLC. In 2008, he was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army where he served for seven years, with three tours serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2014, Thomas graduated from University of Houston-Clear Lake with a Bachelors in History. He blogs at machinemean[dot]org, where he reviews movies and books and hosts a gambit of guest writers who discuss a wide range of strange yet oddly related topics. You can follow from Thomas at a safe distance by joining his author newsletter at http://goo.gl/2CozdE.
Okay, maybe the title of this post is a little what kids call”clickbaity,” but hey…I make no excuses. The world is what it is. Filled with click baits…and fake news sites…and paranoia…and silent conversations over Thanksgiving dinner… (sighs) Well, now that I have you here, assuming you fell for my ingenious trap, I’m more than ecstatic to announce the release of my new book, Conceiving. Now available on Amazon, B&N, and iTunes. This book really does feel like a long time coming, especially when considering that Dwelling and Emerging released back in December 2015, almost a full year ago. Anyhow, if you’re new to the series and don’t want to spend time catching up by reading the first two books, no worries. Information regarding the first two books is included in this new one without being drab, but only generally. So you know what happens and are not lost in this new book. If you’ve read both Dwelling and Emerging and have been waiting for this new book to release, I bid you welcome home. The real benefit of reading the entire series is the intimacy of getting to know the characters and experiencing why and/or what they are in Conceiving.
Conceiving is a supernatural thriller of which I would humbly compare to the likes of a mashup between Rosemary’s Baby, The Omen, and Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man. Old and new readers will follow the somber adventures of Bobby Weeks, one of the major carry overs from the series, and Luna and Ronna Blanche, minor characters in the series that now have larger roles. New characters include Boris and Neville Petry, and yes Neville is a girl.
The Petry’s are my new favorite. A young couple wanting what most young couples want, a family, a dream home, and dream jobs. I imagined Boris like this “cool” history professor if such a thing can exist. He loves his area of expertise and wants to move up the ranks of his profession and among his peers. Like most academics, he wants to be respected and revered for his work. Neville, on the other hand, I saw as this young college educated woman who doesn’t really believe women need to be “stay at home” moms or wives, but choices to take on that role. She often compares herself to her mother, but not always positively.
In the fashion of how I typically tell stories, these individuals and groups begin separated, facing their own troubles alone, but there are forces at work pulling them together, inching them toward some cataclysmic event that will shatter their perception of reality and perhaps take more than just their sanity.
Conceiving is available on Amazon kindle or kindle app. You can get your copy here for the low price of $3.99……..https://goo.gl/4EWzSU
Or if you’re a traditionalist and prefer paperback, you can get your copy here for $15.99…….https://goo.gl/5pTAQ4
If you’re subscribed to my newsletter or have been following my feed on Facebook, then you’ve probably already heard the news. The next installment in my growing Subdue Books Series will release next week with Limitless Publishing LLC. This new title is called Conceiving, and in this post, I’d like to tell you a little bit about the new story. Before that, though, maybe I should recap what happened in the previous books…without giving away any spoilers for anyone who has not read either Dwelling (Subdue Book 1) or Emerging (Subdue Book 2). What I’ll be giving then is general information while avoiding major twists and such. And let it be made know, to follow along in Conceiving, you do not have to have read the other books. Okay…let’s begin.
A long time ago in a galaxy far far away….
At the beginning of Dwelling, we are introduced to Johnathan and Ricky who are both in the U.S. Army serving in Iraq during the 2006-ish years, basically Operation Iraqi Freedom era. While on guard, Johnathan thinks he sees something…unnatural during a sandstorm. The event is juxtaposed with an actual attack on the Iraqi Police station they were guarding. Johnathan and Ricky’s trunk is hit with an RPG. And…no spoilers here as it is made very abundant in the beginning, Ricky is killed instantly, while Johnathan suffers the loss of a limb. This is how Dwelling opens. From here, we fast forward one year from the attack that claimed Ricky Smith and we are introduced to some other major characters.
Bobby Weeks (one of my favorite characters), who also served in the U.S. Army during the Iraq War, is now a homeless veteran. He wanders the streets out of necessity, or so he imagines. Bobby believes, due to a particular curse, he has to keep away from those he loves, his family and his friends. He doesn’t want to hurt anyone. Bobby has a secret, a curse he contracted in Kurdistan when the moon is full he blacks out and wakes the next morning either naked or nearly, and covered in blood and grime. A strange woman finds him in a field and tells Bobby what he is and offers him a place of safety, to keep the beast within him away from the public at large.
Jake Williams is another character we meet. He is a Presbyterian minister with a dark conscience. Like Johnathan, Ricky, and Bobby, Jake also served in the U.S. Army, but not as a combatant. Due to his strict religious observance, Jake was a chaplain’s assistant. Something happened over there, something Jake had witnessed, something strong enough to weigh heavy on his guilt, powerful enough to fracture his faith in God. In the book, Jake struggles with his faith as he fills his religious void with sex. Eventually, his guilt manifests in haunting ways and a soldier he believed dead returned.
Maggie Smith is our last of the group of childhood friends known as Suicide Squad (I know, the name was picked before the movie made the comic popular again!). Maggie is the widow of Ricky Smith and we get to know her one year following the death of her husband. She’s still on base housing but will be forced to relocate. During her house hunt, she is reminded of one of the summers her childhood friends (Johnathan, Bobby, Jake, and Ricky) had come across an odd old farm house in Jotham, TX. Said house, she discovers, is for sale. Maggie quickly buys the house and moves in almost immediately. This wouldn’t be much of a thriller book if the house was normal, would it? And as such, the House on Oak Lee is anything but normal. She begins to hear things at night, crawling, scratching behind the walls. Then she begins hearing sounds, like footsteps, coming down the hall. Haunting or hallucinations, we do not know, but they are escalating. Fearing she is losing her mind, Maggie writes to her childhood friends, hoping to bring them back together, to visit her at the House on Oak Lee.
The House could certainly be another character. It has a strange history, which is revealed through the chapters with Augustus Westfield. If you enjoy historical fiction, I’ve been told these chapters were the favorite for some. But, most of what happens in the House happens in the next book, Emerging. Since Dwelling and Emerging are so closely related, there is no need for new character introductions. Emerging picks up where Dwelling left off. The once childhood friends, Johnathan (and his wife and step-daughter), Jake, and Bobby reunite in Jotham, Texas at Maggie’s house. Adding to Jake’s fear, Maggie looks…different, strained almost…sickly. Johnathan is struggling to keep his marriage together. Seeing one’s dead best friend talk to you in a public restroom can change a man.
Bobby agrees to go, but only if Jake promises to take him back to Houston before the next night. There’s a full moon coming and Bobby has no intention of putting his friends in danger. However, none of the others know about Bobby’s curse, and thus, especially with Johnathan, treat him as an eccentric selfish recluse. It has been years since the childhood friends were together. And things don’t smooth over that first night. The next morning, Bobby goes missing. The gang attempts to find him in town.
Unable to locate Bobby, and after being visited again by Ricky’s rotting specter, Johnathan and Jake become desperate to get Maggie out of the house. They don’t really know what’s really going on or what the house really is. All they know is that their friend is in danger. Her body seems to be wasting away before their very eyes. As the danger intensifies, trust is elusive, and betrayal is certain…
So…that’s a pretty good sum up of both Dwelling and Emerging.
Now for the “good stuff.”
Conceiving…if you’ve read the ending to Emerging…you may be wondering “how the hell do you go from there?” While keeping to my nihilistic style, Emerging still had some very finite conclusions. Things happened that you cannot write around or walk away from. However, that being said, I felt that there was still more to be told. Me? I’m a fan of developing characters. Sometimes they start out as minor and vaguely important. And sometimes they can grow and become much more influential to the story. Luna Blanche is one of those characters. She was in Dwelling and Emerging, but only in a minor role, attached to Bobby’s arch. In Conceiving, her role is much bigger. Though separated from Bobby, she can still “see” him telepathically due to her unique gifts. But the Mississippi Delta woods are limiting her visions, isolating her even farther from what she loves. Her garden. Her grandfather’s house in Hitchcock. And Bobby.
The cabin in the Mississippi woods is quiet. There are no other family members to help Luna take care of her ailing grandmother. No friends. Nothing but the sound of the trees swaying in the wind and a dark presence she can feel hiding in the woods. To add to the strangeness, her grandmother seems disconcerted by her prognosis and instead seems both urgent and hesitate to share with her some sort of secret, some family sin Luna will eventually inherit. If you recognize the name Blanche, especially the name Ronna Blanche, your suspicions are true. Ronna Blanche, now Memaw, is a holdover character from another story of mine called Lanmo. Lanmo was based in the 1960s when Ronna was a young voodoo priestess. Now she is aged and sick. And feels compelled to warn Luna, that she must get her granddaughter to understand why she did the things she did before she dies because her sin, the family sin, has not gone away but remains, hiding in the woods. I don’t really want to spoil anything here, but if you have read Lanmo, you can pretty much guess what that “sin” is.
The only major holdover from Dwelling and Emerging is Bobby Weeks. I don’t want to say too much about Bobby, as it may inadvertently give away something from the previous book. However, I will say that Bobby is attempting to move on with his life. He gets a job. Makes a real go at being normal, despite his curse. Poor Bobbs. Nothing ever seems to pan out for the guy. Eventually, he will spiral and be consumed with revenge, set on a trajectory back to Jotham.
There are a lot of new characters, but the most important ones are Boris and Neville Petry. And yes, Neville is a girl. And I love these two people. I know I wrote them, but that doesn’t make them mandatory to love. And yet, I do. They represent, for me, a young American couple seeking a piece of the American Dream. Boris is a history professor who is offered a job teaching at Baelo University, an obscure little school on the outskirts of Jotham, Texas. Neville, while reluctant to leave behind their life at Ole Miss, agrees, hoping in part that the change will maybe help cultivate the family, the child, she so desperately desires. Weeks following a faculty party, it seems her wish has come true. But dark nightmares plague the happy pregnancy…as does her husband’s strangely distant behavior towards her.
I could say more…but why spoil the fun!
And there you have it, folks. The low and dirty of Conceiving. Plenty of dark twists and history and story to unraveled. And again, you do not need to have read Dwelling and/or Emerging to follow the plot in Conceiving. It certainly helps, especially in understanding Bobby, but the guilt he carries is made pretty clear within the pages of this new story. I am really excited about this one. When I wrote it and turned it into my publisher, I immediately started working on Book 4…which is finished and contracted with Limitless. News on that one to follow soon. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this new book. Lots of horror to devour. Voodoo priestess. Werewolves. Cults. Extra-dimensional insectoid creatures. Strange pregnancy. And my own personally take on the Frankenstein monster. Plus all the human drama and humor we love to feed on.
Conceiving is now available for preorder. Due to release on November 29, 2016. You can get your copy here. Or if you fancy getting a paperback, you can order that here. And if you are curious about my other books, you can find them on Amazon by following this link here. And as always, you can connect with me on Facebook here, where I post new book info and other horror related topics. Thanks for reading everyone!
Greetings boils and ghouls! Just wanted to make an official announcement with my dedicated blogketeers that Reinheit (my debut novel) has been picked up by Booktrope under their newest imprint, Forsaken! Reinheit will be revamped by a select and talented team with a tweaked book cover and buffered editing. By joining the Forsaken team, I am hoping to get Reinheit in as many hands as humanly possible, spreading the good gospel of hauntingly seductive armchairs! Stay tuned for more announcements as details become available. As of right now, Reinheit is still available as a first edition on Amazon in both eBook and paperback. I’m aiming for a re-release of Reinheit this summer, in which case, the first edition will no longer be available for purchase. This is exiting stuff!! I am psyched for what the future holds!!
As many of you have already heard by now, Marilyn Burns, the woman who made us feel real terror in Tobe Hopper’s Texas Chain Saw Massacre, as passed away. She was found yesterday morning by a relative in her Houston, Texas home. This of course comes at a great shock, and a terrible tragedy. Mrs. Burns was more than an icon, she was one of the original Scream Queens of horror. Mrs. Burns also acted in other iconic horror films, such as: Eaten Alive, Helter Skelter, Texas Chain Saw Massacre the New Generation, and Texas 3D.
But I for one will always remember her as Sally Hardesty. Her portrayal as the lone survivor of the Texas sized massacre has always struck a dark root in the back of my mind. Her performance was chilling and real and some of the best and most fondest moments in horror fiction. The way she played her character made me want to create better, realer, characters in my own stories. She survived. But did she? Sally really makes you wonder about the cost of terrible things, the things that stay with us and can never fully heal or go away. They become a part of you, for better or worse.
Marilyn Burns will be missed. I’m sure more than one fan will be watching her debut role in Texas Chain Saw Massacre this week as tribute to a most beloved actress.
Heads up history nerds! Opening at the Houston Museum of Natural Science between May 23rd and running through June, D-Day 3D: Normandy 1944 is a 3D film presentation what looks to be a docu-drama, blending multiple cinematographic techniques, including animation, CGI and live-action sequences. Though D-day is one of the most violence moments for the U.S. forces during WWII, the presentation looks to be geared toward a younger audience. Just spit-balling here, but D-Day 3D wont be your typically meaty Ken Burns take on the war, instead, according to the Houston Museum of Natural Science website, the presentation will be an educational tribute to those who gave all on the beaches of Normandy, bringing “this monumental event to the world’s largest screens for the first time ever. Audiences of all ages, including new generations, will discover from a new perspective how this landing changed the world. Exploring history, military strategy, science, technology and human values.” Obviously, this isn’t for the “hardcore” of us, but who cares?!? This still looks like fun and its a great promotion for history in general. So get your young-ins together and hitch up the fam-mobile and head downtown and support the troops who stormed those beaches and the history that followed. You can check out the advertisement below.
For more information regarding D-Day 3D, check out the Houston Museum of Natural Science website.
For more information regarding D-Day actual, check out American Experience on PBS.
From Quack to Frenzy: how wild swings on the pendulum are distorting the arguments over Phil Robertson
Concerning Duck Dynasty, according to Drew Magary, contributor over at GQ and the guy who penned the now infamous interview with patriarch Phil Robertson, : “The Robertsons are immensely likable. They’re funny. They look cool. They’re ‘smarter than they look,’ says sportswriter Mark Schlabach, who co-writes the family’s books. And they are remarkably honest both with one another and with the viewing audience: Phil’s old hell-raising, Si’s traumatic stint in Vietnam, the intervention that the family staged for Jep when he was boozing and doing drugs in college — all of it is out in the open. The more they reveal, the more people feel connected to them.” And all this really confirms that people really do appreciate frank honesty. However, this is not where the interview ends.
If columnist Drew Magary wanted to shock audiences, he most certainly succeeded, but not in the way he may have intended. In reality, the strangest thing to surface from this recent drama fest is how folks, myself included, reacted beginning Wednesday night and working on through Thursday. It seems as if most people are either on one or the other side of the pendulum ,with hardly anyone holding the more obviously rational middle ground. Did grandpa Phil say some rather off-putting things that made absolutely no sense? Absolutely! Here are a few gems for you’re consideration:
- “All you have to do is look at any society where there is no Jesus. I’ll give you four: Nazis, no Jesus. Look at their record. Uh, Shintos? They started this thing in Pearl Harbor. Any Jesus among them? None. Communists? None. Islamist? Zero. That’s eighty years of ideologies that have popped up where no Jesus was allowed among those four groups. Just look at the records as far as murder goes among those four groups.”
- “I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field. … They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’ — not a word! … Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”
- “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men. Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
These quotes from the QC interview are just a few of the highlights that have feed the still raging social media frenzy. From a historical perspective, there are a lot of irregularities in Phil’s rationality; however, from a completely humanist perspective, should we really have expected something different? Duck Dynasty, in a nut shell, according to Drew Magary: “[is] a reality sitcom showcasing the semi-scripted high jinks of Phil, his brother ‘Uncle Si,’ his four sons, Alan, Willie, Jase, and Jep, and the perpetually exasperated but always perfectly accessorized Robertson-family ladies—[which] has become the biggest reality-TV hit in the history of cable television, reportedly earning the family… $200,000-an-episode paycheck. It’s a funny, family-friendly show, with ‘skits that we come up with,’ as Phil describes the writing process. They plunder beehives. They blow up beaver dams. And when the Robertson-family ladies go up to a rooftop in a hydraulic lift, you just know that lift will “accidentally” get stuck and strand them.”
And there we have it folks. Duck Dynasty in the end is still just another reality sitcom…and Phil, despite his very seemingly humble and down-to-earth backwoods, swampland way of life, is still just another reality television personality that just so happens to be less horrible or grotesque as Honey-Boo-Boo, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, or any of the Kardashians. Instead of obese pageant babies, dumb as a box of rocks Jersey folk, or mile-high cleavage, we get long wiry bearded rich poor white stereotypes. We love and laugh at their high jinks because its pretty much what we’d expect how someone from Georgia or Louisiana after winning the lottery would act, complete with “five best-selling books, devotionals somewhere in there, along with Duck Dynasty themed birthday cards, bobblehead dolls, camo apparel (pink camo for the ladies), Cajun-spice seasoning, car fresheners, iPhone games and presumably some sort of camouflage home-pregnancy test.”
See where i’m getting at? No matter how likable Phil is, i’m afraid he’s no more a prophet than Kanye West is. But, a lot of us can still connect with Phil because of his charming transparency and simple good-ole-boy country way of seeing and understanding the world around him, despite that it actually makes zero sense, because lets face it, Hitler used parts of Christian ideology (among other things) to form Nazi ideology, the Jim Crow era is not an era normal people feel nostalgic about, Christianity did exist in Japan during WWII and a lack of Jesus wasn’t exactly what prompted the attack on Pearl Harbor, communism is a political ideology, which is interchangeable with all or any religious belief, and as far as murder goes, well…Christianity has its own timeshare in that blame game…because at bottom level, if we can ignore his ramblings, I believe he’s simply calling attention to the notion that “if the human race loved each other and they loved God, we would just be better off and everything will turn around.”
So what’s really the problem here? Well, now we got folks like Sarah Palin and Wilson Cruz lobbing mortal rounds at each of their respective camps while real people (us) are taking sides without really reading the entirety of the interview. Arguments are being hashed out that in themselves make as much sense as taking a guy who’s loaded but still eats squirrels seriously. For crying out loud, this isn’t a freedom of speech issue, this is a consequence issue. “And,” to quote another blogger on the topic, “if the only free speech that you support is speech that you agree with, that doesn’t make you a ‘patriot.’ It makes you a hypocrite. And that’s something completely different.” And on same note: let me stress that “Phil was not suspended for his religious beliefs. He was suspended because what he said was completely offensive.” But again, being a very avid supporter of free speech, especially in media, Phil simply just stated his beliefs, not Christian beliefs per-say (let’s face it, even the devil knew how to twist scripture to fit his agenda). The comments he made is what upset execs over at A & E and what eventually got him booted from the show. And after seeing the fire storm that shall forever be known Duck Thursday, Phil attempts to clarify his comments during the interview with GQ, stating:
“I myself am a product of the 60s; I centered my life around sex, drugs and rock and roll until I hit rock bottom and accepted Jesus as my Savior. My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together. However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.”
I do not believe this good-ole country feller really hates anyone and, just how Seth Rogen stated on his Twitter feed, “It’s strange that A&E hired a guy for being a backwoods redneck and then were surprised when he started talking like a backwoods redneck.” However, “there is also nothing surprising or noteworthy about a company suspending an employee because of their personal behavior.” Like it or not, Phil and the duck family are licensed products of A&E, and Phil when being interviewed, not because he in his own right is popular, but because his character on Duck Dynasty is popular, the fallout of the things he said will and did blow back on A&E because Phil is, again lets face it, a character on one of their shows. See what I mean?
So, in summation, lets avoid the inevitable “us” verses “them” arguments by remembering the following things:
Dearest Liberals, please take a step back and look at the guy who has got you all in a frenzy. The guy was simply stating his beliefs, not the entire Christian world. And, to his benefit, Phil did clarify, even though he was a little bit disrespectful by over generalizing an entire group of people and adding a dangerous revisionist spin on history, that his intention was not to do any harm, but rather to express his love for humanity by stating how we’d “be better off if we loved God and loved each other.”
Dearest Conservatives, please take a step back and look at the guy who has got you all worked up in a frenzy. This is a simply man stating his beliefs, and while he does use scripture that doesn’t make him a prophet nor does it make him a martyr. This man also works for a company who also has a set of standards, shouldn’t we respect those (A&E’s) beliefs just as much as we respect Phil’s? PS: lets not pigeon hole any group or people, including Christianity. Not ever Christian agrees with Phil’s comments, so… ipso facto, this isn’t a religious persecution issue insomuch as hating on Westboro isn’t a religious persecution issue.
Finally, the Halloween season is upon us! And what better way to celebrate the month of freight then to visit one of Houston’s (and her surrounding area locations) many haunted house attractions. But which one? Houston does have plenty of options. Before moving to Houston, growing up in the small town of Vinton, Virginia, haunted attractions were slim pickens; however, often times the lesser known beatnik locations can be some of the best in causing youngsters fleeing out the doors. To this day, though I cannot remember the name of the haunted house my responsible loving mother took me to during 1994-95 Halloween season, what I do recall being scared out of my wits thanks in part to a chain saw welding maniac. With this in mind, i’ve generated a list, in no particular order, of some of what Houston has to offer for popular haunted attractions. I’ve even included a few Hell Houses for the religiously inclined reader. Enjoy!
Though this list isn’t generated from best to worst, we’re not making that kind of list; however, i’m listing ScreamWorld at the top because of its obviously prestigious notoriety. Not that ScreamWorld is better than the rest; they’re just more accredited. From 2007-2012, ScreamWorld has been listed as one of America’s Best Haunts, not just Texas (voted #1 in Houston by the Houston Chronicle), but America folks! Opening back on September 20th, ScreamWorld will welcome brave souls through November 2nd, charging upwards of $40 for the VIP Pass and $32 for general admission. There will be a $5 parking fee as well. 32 bucks may seem a little steep for admission, but you’re not paying for just one attraction; you’re paying for 5 separate haunts, which includes: The Skull Cave, Edge of Darkness, Jake’s Slaughterhouse, Maze of Maniacs, and Zombie Graveyard. Not yet convinced? Check out their YouTube video below, if you dare!
Phobia is another “scream-park” with 5 separate attractions, including: Mind Control, Simon Fowler Woods, ClaustroPhobia, Darke Institute, Dawn of the Machine. The difference here is that you can purchase tickets for each separate attraction for $13 and upwards of $50 for all five haunts. I’ve never personally been to Phobia, so I cannot attest to its quality as a haunt, but the 50 buck admission for all 5 attractions seems a bit steep, especially considering the $32 cover for ScreamWorld. However, it is nice that you can purchase single tickets for just one house, if you wanted to be in and out without having to attend an entire festival. Phobia is located between Beltway 8 & 1960 on 290 Feeder, RR track side Jersey Village: 18777 HWY 290 – EXIT WEST RD, HOUSTON, TX 77065. If you need a little more convincing for paying up 50 buck-a-roos for this particular haunt, check out the following video.
Claiming to be Houston’s scariest haunt, Terror Dome sets themselves apart from the nightmare pack by focusing on one single attraction. VIP tickets cost $30 with no wait and unlimited access on day of purchase. Regular admission is $20, which doesn’t seem to bad, if they can deliver on all the hipe, claiming to have spent “most of [their] budget into building the most elaborate haunted house legally possible.” Terror Dome is located next to Spookers Halloween Super Warehouse Store on East I-10 exit #784 Cedar Lane. If you want to get a little peak at what you’re visit will be like, check out the following video.
Catering to the more artistic and historical tastes for macabre, Kingwood Asylum offers two haunted attractions with a unique twist: the fictional back story of Dr. Phillip Blackman and his mental asylum of terror! Another interesting tidbit is Kingwood Asylum’s humble beginnings as a private residence haunt over in Hunters Ridge. Now, obviously, the operation has grown from its merger beginnings into a full fledged business located over @ 1965 Northpark Drive, Kingwood Texas 77339. General admission fees are $20, with unlimited access on the day of purchase. Kingwood Asylum is one of the more interesting sites because the haunt has been built around a fictitious legend, giving the audience something more imaginative, instead of just walking through and having things jump out at you. Check out the following hilarious video of a group of teenage girls walking through the haunt!
Boasting as Houston’s most terrifying outdoor haunt, Haunted Trails is definitely something different then the traditional haunted house, here, as “night falls and the monsters of these woods begin to howl, you’ll enter a realm of terror you could not have imagined. Acres of mortifying scenes and unnatural creatures await eagerly to quench their undying thirst for your screams.” Haunted Trails seems to be, from what i’ve gathered from the pictures on their site, a basic maze with various jump and chase scares. With a $17 admission fee, it may not seem worth it; however, on October 11th & 12th, scream queen Marilyn Burns, who played Sally in the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, will be at Nature’s Nightmare (the second attraction) to meet and greet with fans. I couldn’t find a video for Haunted Trails, but here is the poster for the celebrity guest promotional.
Houston most definitely has plenty of haunted houses to choose from, and these are only five of the most popular. There are still plenty of others out there not listed above, including: Scream Fest, Fearshire Farms, Redrum, Creepy Hallow Haunted House, Heart Stopper, and many more. And, as promised, for the more religious reader, you can visit fun filled houses of judgement, such as: Hell in a Cell & Judgment House. Another alternative are localized fire-stations who also host mom & pop haunted houses; proceeds normally go to various children s organizations. So, if you’re in the mood for a scare or two, Houston (and her surrounding area) has plenty to pick from, all i’m sure will be fun and entertaining for you and you’re friends.
Thought i’d offer some new local nerd news this morning. Coming September 21st, 2013 @ University of Houston, Clear Lake location, the universities art department is hosting the first ever comic symposium. Exhibits are running through October 18th, but the main event will be next Saturday from 10 AM till 4 PM. But this isn’t your normal comic-con, where focus is given to characters and stories; at this convention, the focus will be geared towards aspiring artists and the trade they love. Some of the more notable panels include: comic narration, illustration, and a rare opportunity to have YOUR portfolio reviewed by seasoned comic industry veterans. What more could you ask for, right? Oh, and its absolutely, 100% free!!!
Curious on who the panelists are? University of Houston comiCulture will feature: Leroy Brown (Ice Cubes), David Doub (Dusk Comics), Charles Martin (Literati Press), Mark Nasso (Land of the Rats), James O’Barr (The Crow), Terry Parr (Shonuff Studio), Bruce Small (Transyltown), Maurice Terry Jr. (Bad Cog), Terry Wagner (Mental Diversions Studio), and Gary Watson (After Twilight), to name a few. comiCulture is proudly sponsored by local comic book shop Bedrock City Comics and lavish Candlewood Suites. You can reserve your seat at the panels and check for more information @ http://www.comiculture.org
The UHCL Art Gallery and the Garden Room are on the first floor of the Bayou Building.
University of Houston-Clear Lake
2700 Bay Area Blvd.
Houston, TX 77058
The summer geek festival, known to locals as Space City Con, returns to Houston this weekend, August 2nd through the 4th. Doors open high-noon tomorrow @ the luxurious Houston Marriott, in the downtown area. This year marks the second annual celebration for Space City Con; obviously less prestigious than San Diego’s Comic-Con, but nonetheless entertaining for both nerds and families alike, with dozens of guest appearances, including fan clubs, writers, game designers, artists, and everyone’s favorite, cosplay enthusiasts. According to the Houston Chronicle, there was also be special events, such as: Dr. Horrible Shadowcast, Ask a Stormtrooper, writers workshops and group role-playing games (including, but not limited to, Tribble Warfare and Killer Breakfast), instructional workshops (making your own chain mail and tips for buying and selling collectibles), and last but not least, sword fighting.
Some of the more notable guests appearances include:
- Jewel Staite- Firefly and Stargate Atlantis fame
- Sylvester Mccoy- Dr. Who, The Hobbit, and King Leer fame
- Walter Koenig- Star Trek fame
- Tim Russ- Star Trek Voyager fame
- Robert Picardo- Star Trek Voyager, Atlantis fame
- John de Lancie- Star Trek TNG fame
- Torri Higginson- Stargate Atlantis fame
- Denise Crosby- Star Trek TNG fame
- Alexis Cruz- Stargate STG1 fame
There will be, as mentioned before, a dozen more guest appearances from all walks of nerd life. An individual three day pass will run you $45, but you can also purchase daily passes for $20. The Master of Ceremonies is none other than legend actor, fresh from the “Galileo Seven”unveiling, Robert Picardo. There will be no doubt plenty of sponsors, partners, artists, and vendors to go check out and fill your time between events. For more information, check out the official website for Space City Con @ http://spacecitycon.com/
And if you need more convincing, listen to this special invitation by Sarge and Hamish:
On the morning of July 31 @ 10:30am, for the first time ever, as a beloved 1967 original piece of Star Trek memorabilia, “Galileo Seven” will be unveiled at Space Center Houston after a year long restoration project. The Space Center Houston has stated that “the life-size spaceship will be on permanent display inside the Zero-G Diner and will be one of the few exhibitions in the world where visitors can see iconic sci-fi history that influenced generations of innovators.”
But that’s not all! There will be a full day of nerd induced activities with guest stars, such as: Don Marshall, aka Lt. Boma from the original 1967 ”Galileo Seven” episode, everyone’s favorite holographic doctor, Robert Picardo, from Star Trek: Voyager, the legendary Sylvester McCoy (the seventh Doctor from Doctor Who and Radagast from The Hobbit), Jason Carter from Babylon 5, voice actress Adrienne Wilkinson (Star War fans rejoice) from Stars Wars: The Force Unleashed, Buck Rogers himself Gil Gerard, and others.
The Space Center has released the following schedule for the unveiling of Galileo Seven:
- 10:30am – Public Unveiling featuring Star Trek Celebrities
- 12:30pm – Celebrity Panel Discussing Science Fiction’s Influence on Space Exploration
- 2:00pm – Guest Astronaut Presentation
There is little doubt of science fictions role in developing modern technology. Movies and television shows from the 50’s and continuing on into today have moved individuals to dream bigger dreams, to imagination strange new worlds, and to stretch the mind of man into the unknown. Without the imagination, knowledge is useless. My fellow Houstonians, if you’ve got the gumption, come check out this amazing, never before seen unveiling happening this Wednesday morning. To buy your ticket or for more info, check out Space Centers website here.
Beginning this past Friday, May 3rd, and lasting through Sunday, the Houston NRA expo was ablaze with 70,000 plus people bustling amongst the nine acre gun extravaganza. There was plenty to see beside the political rants, including: manufacturer showcases complete with bra holsters, 1963 Völkswagen microbus complete with hippy peace signs, flowers, and mini Gatling gun mounted on a makeshift sunroof, and everybody’s personal favorite, zombie targets that came in a variety of images, such as: terrorists, Nazis, aliens, zombie kangaroos, clowns and even…presidential! That’s right folks, according to BuzzFeed Politics, the vender, Zombie Industries, “sells a range of three-dimensional ‘life sized’ targets that ‘bleed when you shoot them.’ Obama likeness [were] on display for two days.” The expo only lasted for three, but don’t worry, after an NRA rep asked the vender at Zombie Industries if they’d be so kind and remove the Obama targets, they were notably absent come Sunday morning. When asked why they thought the NRA reps asked them to remove the “Obama” targets, they said “They are just scared some liberal reporter will come by and start bitching,” a worker told BuzzFeed. However, Zombie Industries wasn’t the only booth to display something contentious. Over at the Coonan Inc. booth, a gun manufacture, there was also a similar Obama likeness; an Obama vampire with a stake in his heart, advertising their custom “Zombie silver bullet” set. Yet, these risqué displays were not the only booths at the convention; just the more colorful ones, because for most folks coming to the convention, it’s all about the guns.
Sadly, you cannot have guns without some kind of debate.
The place to be on Saturday evening was the Stand and Fight Rally. As the sun set on Houston, a “patriotic” fervor was being presented for those “lucky” enough to have purchased tickets. The NRA’s emotionally driven Stand and Fight Rally included speeches from Col. Oliver North, Wayne LaPierre, Larry and Brenda Potterfield, and impressionist Frank Caliendo. The main event for the evening was a near two hour impassioned speech given by none other than Glenn Beck, the host of new media network, The Blaze. Beck used his spot light to warn NRA audiences that the “freedom of all mankind is at stake,” according to ABC News. This is the same man who claimed that the Houston George Bush Intercontinental airport shooting was a conspiracy set up by vicious liberals to thwart the NRA expo. You can find that report here. However, according to the NRA blog report, in the end, Mr. Beck “received a standing ovation from the crowd for the inspirational message.”
What was Mr. Beck’s message?
The fear Mr. Beck uses is backed by an overwhelming miss-representation on the issue of gun control, the very same miss-representation the NRA leadership has been clouting over. Some of the key-notes Mr. Beck spoke on include the positive nature of guns (saving lives), defense, and other so called “cold hard facts…rejected by the political elites.” The fear Beck uses is universal, based on a baser instinct. He deliberately manipulates that fear of not being able to defend oneself. Mr. Beck’s performance seems rather orchestrated in drawing out said fear that “big bad government” will come in the night and take away the very symbol of protection in American culture, the gun. The appeal to emotion isn’t just a fallacy, it’s dangerous. Why? Emotional arguments do not require factual evidence. They drive the fear of the mob. Since Mr. Beck is so keen in using Nazi history to describe the U.S. government, allow me to return the courtesy. Dr. Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Minister of Propaganda, said that there were two kinds of speakers: rational and emotional. Goebbles couldn’t understand the rational, because to him, emotional speakers were the ones who could “fire up the masses for a great cause.” To Goebbles, Hitler was an emotional speaker who could use nuggets of truth to elicit an emotional response from the crowd who were also equally miss-informed, angry, and afraid. According to Goebbles, in his published book regarding Hitler’s ability to persuade, the Führer’s words could “inspire the heart and have a lasting impact in forming a new international epoch. There is probably no educated person in the world who has not heard the sound of his voice and who, whether he understood the words or not, felt that his heart was spoken to by magical words.” You can find Goebbles’ complete entry here.
Speakers, like Mr. Beck, who use emotional driven speeches with the smallest nuggets of truth, do not require that their audience understand the words they are actually saying, and when we follow the rhetoric of fear to its logical end, it will only bring about tragedy, as it did for Germany during the Third Reich. Mr. Beck’s speech doesn’t just miss-represent the issue on gun control, but also responsible gun advocates. Without a doubt, folks around the world are looking at Mr. Beck and his message and thinking, “Are all gun owners this nuts?” As we reported last Friday, a huge fallacy in the gun debate is when people take the extreme either-or argument as factual; when most folks are actually somewhere in the middle. You can watch Mr. Becks speech yourself here.
The ugliness in all this is in imagining how positive the NRA expo could have been. Instead of getting folks all worked up over a false fear, a more responsible leadership among the NRA could have promoted gun safety awareness, effectual background checks (because remember, 65% of Americans thought that the expanded background checks should have passed legislation), a reasonable pursuit for safer schools, or, at the very least, presented some kind of alternative to the already very moderate bill that was shot down in the Senate. Instead, the NRA leadership promoted fear, fear of big government taking away American rights. Despite the fact that most attended the expo for the simplicity of responsible gun sportsmanship and to view the “goodies”, those folks are being overshadowed by the dogmatic political debacle from ineffectual leadership who seem to be more concerned about gun manufacturer rights than gun owner rights.
The NRA goes Texas, Houston that is. The 142nd annual NRA national meeting is fused to ignite today, Friday, May 3rd, 2013, at the George R. Brown Convention Center in the heart of downtown, hosting 550 exhibitors and covering over 400,000 square feet with all the trimmings: educational speakers, celebrities of the likes as Glenn Beck, Gov. Rick Perry, the always favorite (yikes) Sarah Palin, Sen. Ted Cruz, special events, wholesome family atmosphere, and protesters. Wait…what? That’s right folks, gun-control groups and other advocates are also planning on attending the rock star event at what has been called “ground zero,” in our nation’s big gun debate- the NRA. Protestors will gather outside the impromptu gun event, hosting a three day vigil for victims of gun violence.
According to the Houston Chronicle, the NRA plans on educating attendees on such issues as: “a gun-owners’ registry, assaults on the Second Amendment, the necessity of enforcing laws on the books instead of passing new ones, the futility of background checks and other gun-related issues.” The convention comes shortly after a fresh victory for the NRA and gun advocates over President Obama’s failed push on expanded background checks when it flopped by a mere 6 votes of the 60 votes needed to adopt the measure and keeping the bill from going all filibuster in the House.
(Check out this interesting article on the future of filibuster reform.)
Why Houston? Why now? It would seem rather impromptu of the NRA to host a gun convention in the midst of a heated national debate regarding gun control, and the necessary steps to reduce said gun violence so soon after national tragedy. However, for the NRA, Houston seems like the perfect environment to host a gun convention in the hopes to recharge for more expected political struggles as gun control advocates tally their own successes in states around the country. According to Andrew Arulanandam, an NRA spokesman, “the convention will draw the largest crowd in history.” Why is that Andrew? Is it because all us Texans own guns? Just like we all wear ten-gallon cowboy hats and ride horses to work. Stereotypes aside, a majority of Houstonians do own fire arms, according to the Houston Chronicle, for obvious reasons. Texas is still very much a part of the frontier culture. Folks love to hunt ducks “in the wetlands around El Campo and Eagle Lake. [Folks also] hunt deer in the Texas Hill Country. And, yes, many [Texans] keep a gun or two in a closet at home for safety, security and peace of mind.” And some good ole Texans even keep a few guns under their bed. The pathos of the Second Amendment is very much alive in Texas, especially in Houston, and rightly so. But I would also think that our support for the Second Amendment does not preclude support for sensible rules and regulations that are designed to protect the sanctity of human life. Extending background checks for gun purchasers in both online sales and at conventions makes sense. Don’t take my word for it. Check out the resent trends developing on social media sites. According to Pew Research Center, calls for stricter gun control shifted from 30 to 65% in favor, while opposite dropped from 50 to 21%, on Twitter. You can view the complete poll here. These trends on Twitter also match a poll taken recently by Gallup back on April 29, 2013, where a whopping 65% of Americans thought that the Senate should have passed the measure to expand background checks for gun purchases. You can view their report here.
So, what do all these trends in polls really tell us? Well, for starters, all this talk about the 90% is bull. Yes, percentages in favor of expanding background checks are higher than those against the measure, but let’s be real about it and avoid inflating the numbers, because to be honest, it would take an act of God to get nine out of ten Americans to agree on anything, especially on something as heated as gun control. Secondly, these polls verses the actually vote in congress shows us that something very wrong is going on in Washington…or maybe something very right. What could be going wrong? Well, if 65% of Americans wanted this bill to go through and it failed, as it did, then the people’s voice is no longer effectually being represented in Washington. According to Senator Pat Toomey, “In the end it [the background check bill] didn’t pass because we’re so politicized. There were some on my side [Republicans] who did not want to be seen helping the president do something he wanted to get done, just because the president wanted to do it.” Also, there could be something wrong in the way bills are passed through the Senate. At first glance, the 54 YEA’s trumps the 46 NAY’s right? Nope. A bill requires, for some reason, 60 total votes to go into effect. To some, this 60 vote thing may make sense, but to me, I am at a loss. A majority vote is a majority vote, plain and simple. The one thing that could be right in all this is that in representing our “voice,” our elected officials also understand the dangers inherent in giving into mob mentality. As it seems, we simple folk get all worked up in larger crowds, but when you single us out, we’re rather reasonable. Consider Brown v. Board of Education and how long it took for the “mob” to realize how wrong segregation was. For our elected representatives, walking the tight-rope between listening to their constituents voices and avoiding worked up crazed mobs, seems rather precarious. Perhaps we ought to give our officials some benefit of the doubt, and simply ask them questions instead a seeking the tallest tree to noose them up in.
While gun-control advocates scrabble to seek a new path after the “shameful day for Washington,” gun advocates, such as the NRA, will likewise continue to promote the “stand and fight” methodology to remain steadfast in what outgoing NRA president David Keene told NBC News, “was a victory in a battle, but the war continues.”
Today, the NRA celebrates their big win in Houston, but opponents are also in the works, launching, according to NBC News, “a coordinated effort ahead of the 2014 midterm elections,” to advocate that folks like the NRA may not be as concerned about the rights of gun owners than they are about the rights of the gun industry itself. In an interview with Ladd Everitt, the spokesman for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, “I think the NRA leadership is wildly out of step with their own members on the issue of expanding background checks.” If that’s the case, perhaps the upcoming national elections in 2016 may prove for Republicans to be difficult in keeping seats in Washington. Obviously, each side of the debate claims the other to be fervently wrong. But where do most Americans fall? Time will tell in the above mentioned coming elections in mid-2014 and in 2016.
In the meantime, lets address some fundamental fallacies in the raging arguments from both perspectives:
- Guns are not a living entity. They cannot walk down the street, on their own, and fire into a crowd. Gun control advocates are aware of this. They are not attacking responsible gun owners. If you are a responsible gun owner, you are already going to pass a background check. Background checks are looking for folks with a history of violence. If you are a violent person, perhaps you should take a yoga class and forgo purchasing that sweet glistening AR-15.
- Not all gun advocates are back-water anti-government crazies. While a majority does support background checks, they also believe that gun-control shouldn’t be the only measure taken in avoiding tragic events such as Sandy Hook.
- Gun control advocates are not trying to take away our Second Amendment Rights. Only a few extreme left are; they are the minority voice, just like the minority crazy anti-government folks. So, the argument about drunk drivers and sales of alcohol thing is a bit over-the-top. Obviously, the government has already tried the “no alcohol thing,” and it didn’t really work out in the end. Instead, just like how most gun control advocates are trying to do, they promoted greater public awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving, increased judicial punishment, and established a drinking age. Beer is a controlled substance; shouldn’t guns be just as controlled? You don’t see government kicking in your doors looking for a delicious New Belgium 1554, do you? Then you won’t see government kicking in your doors looks for your licensed hand gun.
- Gun control will create a gun registry. News flash folks, we currently already have a gun registry, of sorts, and a sucky one at that! The current, twenty plus year old system, simply tracks make/model/and serial numbers through a basic record of sale. Why not change? I think most gun advocates fear this policy the most because of a basic fear of “big brother,” which I totally understand. I don’t care so much for being watched on video cameras, but yet, they somehow help catch criminals. So, lets think about what this registry will actually do, which is, help law enforcement, our brothers and sister that help keep our streets safe, to be better equipped in tracking fire arms that tend to make their way illegally into the hands of violent offenders.
As it seems, we’re sadly pitted against extreme either-or arguments, while most of us tend to take a rather moderate position on the subject. Most of us enjoy our right to gun ownership. Most of us also understand the need to control the very thing we have a right to own. Just as we have a right to drink, we are also responsible about it, or should be. Shouldn’t we also be responsible about gun control, without having to be so extreme about it? Only time will tell in where the great debate on gun control takes us, so for now, Houston, enjoy the convention.