The Little Visitors

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Gather round. Turn the lights off. It’s time for a story…

 

 

THE LITTLE VISITORS

Halloween comes around once a year, of course. When the trees turn into dying torches and the nights fill with hollow sighs. I waited in my small living room in my small rented house on Garwood Avenue, in a small neighborhood full of mostly working moms and divorced dads. The house next door has been divided into three small apartments and students rent those, from the nearby small college. Everything here seems small and dingy, from the houses to the college. Someone is trying to change that college into a university, as being called a university seems much more legitimate these funny times we live in, but that is years in the future. A knock sounded on my door. The knock of a child. I grasped my bowl of Dollar Store candy and stood, with my elderly television on mute. I had chosen to watch Cat People, for some reason, perhaps because it was on one of the old movie channels. Val Lewton and shadows.

Standing on my cement step, on my brown and yellow welcome mat, is a small girl dressed as a princess, in a frilly, too-pink dress, with ugly garish plastic and tin foil jewelry and a carrot-red wig that tilts on her head and a cheap-looking tiara that someone should banish to the outer realms. “Trickrtreat,” she whispers, perhaps no more than seven. I see her mother or older sister sitting in the car, clearly wishing this night over and done with. This tiny fake princess holds up a plastic bucket shaped like a pumpkin where candy already waits for her to gobble down in about an hour or so, if not sooner. Tiny miniature candy bars, Tootsie Rolls, lollipops. All store-bought, safe candy for these troubling modern times we live in! She had giant brown eyes someone had lined with black and someone had painted the small lips with bright cherry red.

“Don’t you look great,” I told the girl, who smiled slightly, more a grimace than a smile. She had not quite caught on that she should perform like a trained lab animal to earn her treats. Give some buck for the bang. I drop three eyeballs into her pumpkin, badly wrapped solid chocolate balls. I also gave her four or five hard candies and the princess in training looked at my offering, then at me, then whispered, “Can I have another eye?” I gave her one and she nodded with a solemn resignation that of course she deserved a bit more candy from the skinny little man who had such a messy house. She trotted off, then stopped, at something her mother or sister shouted at her. The princess turned and waved at me and I waved back. She got into the car and they drove to the end of the street. I was their last house here. Off the car went, into the October night. I saw another costumed child slowly walking toward my house, dressed as a cowboy. Right down to the small dingy cowboy hat perched to one side on his head.

I knew him. I had seen him before.

The small cowboy walked slowly, in real cowboy boots, carrying a small pail, a miniature bucket. The wind kicked up, swirling dead leaves from the elm further along, further along. “Tricks or treats,” the small cowboy said, holding out his bucket, meeting my eyes. His eyes never blinked or looked away from me. He wore a leather vest, real leather, and a red shirt tucked into jeans, with small chaps tied just so about his skinny little boy thighs. A smudge of dirt on his pale cheek. And his smell, like just gone over milk. That faint sour smell of corruption.

“Who are you supposed to be?” I asked and the boy never looked away from me with his steady blue-green eyes.

“I’m Little Joe,” the boy said. “He’s my favorite. Do you have any popcorn balls?”

“No, I’m sorry, I don’t. You mean Little Joe from Bonanza?’ I place some hard candies and two of the wrapped eyeballs in his pail. Mine seems to be the only candy he had managed to collect so far and it’s already seven thirty or so. Rather late to still be out.

“Bonanza. That’s it, mister. I really wanted a popcorn ball,” the boy peered down at the piddling Halloween offering, his hair cut brutally short, a near military-like cutting of that stark black hair. This was not a pretty child that would grow up to be a handsome man. Just an ordinary boy with freckles on his rather large nose. Not a sideshow freak kind of big nose, just a nose the kid would have to grow into. A nose with character, as my dad used to say. “Thank you.” And this boy had manners. Someone had taken some trouble to teach him some pleasing ways. I noticed, as I had every time he came to visit me, that the longer he stood there, the more I could see through him. He seemed to dissolve. As if the night slowly devoured him and I was not supposed to notice.

“You’re welcome.”

Little Joe wandered off, toward the main street and then he was just gone. My candy lay on the sidewalk and I fetched it, noting the hard candies and balls of wrapped chocolate had been frozen. They burned my skin a bit, being so cold. I stood and looked here and there, but the boy had gone back to wherever he came from.

Back to my house I walked. I waited for more knocks. Someone rapped on my door and my heart beat so hard, so hard. Up I got, and went to answer, finding a tall girl dressed like something out of a Robin Hood movie. She wore green tights, a long green jaunty shirt, and the cap with the feather. She had her hair swept up atop her head and blood trickled down the left side of her face, from a massive wound to her temple. “Hi! Trick or treat!” A big smile, her front teeth snapped off, and I could see the bones of her jaw from yet another wound that had opened the side of her face. She held out a paper sack, such as one might get from a grocery store. There was nothing in it. I dropped my offerings in and she gazed down at the five hard candies and two eyeballs with real dismay, then dredged up a smile, somehow, somehow smiling with her jaw bone exposed. “Gee, mister. You don’t have any apples or cookies?”

Apples or cookies. When no one gave those away these days. No one. “No. Sorry. I can give you some more candy.”

“Sure.” A big smile, her blood-filled eyes sparkling at me. I drop more candy in and she beams down politely, then thanks me and floats off into the night. I clearly hear that candy I gave her spatter on the pavement. Where she has gone, the candy cannot go. They want the good treats they had in their day. Where people baked homemade cookies and shaped popcorn into sticky balls and bought lots of apples to give away to the visiting little goblins each year. They had not lived through the stories of razor blades in apples or the poisoned cookies or that people poisoned their homemade treats…there were stories galore but no actual real proof that a swathe of the adult population were in fact out to kill all children at Halloween. Fear, however, runs the lives of Americans, not facts or logic.

A car cruises slowly about five houses down. The last stragglers of this year’s candy festival. I close my door, wondering how many more other little visitors I’ll get tonight. They don’t seem to visit anyone else. I am not great friends or that friendly with my neighbors; we generally genially ignore each other and nod at each other if we make eye contact. I keep to myself and I work. As the neighbors do. We keep our heads down and hope our cars keep running and we don’t get cancer. We vote once in a while and moan a lot. I occasionally head off to the Long Horn, a small dive bar where I can get a beer somewhat cheaply and get my ear talked off by the lonely old veteran who seems to think no one is any good anymore. There’s no goodness left in the world, none, he says to me over and over and over. I watch my muted television set as the woman who turns into a leopard struggles to fight her actual nature.

I wait for them to come to my door.

I heard the rustle of a costume and the whispers of a mother telling the child to knock, go ahead, like the others. I sigh, my air pushed out of me by my exhausted lungs. Surely they’re tired of sour air and contracting over and over and over. Bang bang bang.

A small boy dressed as a vampire, with a cape and fake teeth that keep slipping. “Twick treat,” the boy barked like a seal at me and I smiled, his mother just behind him wearing a black sweater infected with cheerful flat pumpkins. Her eyes held a tiredness all our eyes seem to hold now. The vampire held up a plastic green bucket three-fourths full of candy.

“Great costume, sir,” I said and the boy, with giant dark eyes, makes a face at this stranger trying to be funny. I’m not funny so my efforts in comedy should never be encouraged. “Here ya go!” I give him the remaining chocolate eyeballs and two hard candies. He grins.

“Look, mom! Eyes! Cool!” So the kids these days are still using phrases from the Fifties. Cool.

“I see that, dear,” the mom said with that perfect tired mom voice, that managed to be both nice and exhausted. She probably had to go home and get ready for a graveyard shift somewhere cleaning something or watching over old people or the disabled. “What do you say, Wyatt?”

A vampire named Wyatt? Oh no no. I bit at my lips to stop myself giving a truly foul giggle. Wyatt looked at me. He smelled like soap and cheap candy. “Thanks, mister!”

“You’re welcome, Wyatt.” I told him and his mother in her infected sweater. Had anyone told her pumpkins were catching? They both nodded at me and both turned to go to her elderly pickup. A big dent in the driver’s side. Off she drove, no doubt heading off for their home, probably a small apartment she could barely make rent on.

I went back in, shut my door. I only had hard candies left for any latecomers to the Halloween festivities. The wind made the leaves noisy. I sat in my easy chair with the sound very low, most of my lights turned off, waiting perhaps for zombies to try and get in. I had watched Night of the Living Dead near Halloween one year and had actually managed to give myself the willies. All of the lights turned off, a windy night. I heard zombies all night. Sometimes my imagination is not my friend. Perhaps that’s all this was. The strange yearly visitors. Just me perhaps having some sort of mental breakdown right on cue around the end of October. After all, ghosts were not real.

An hour, the movie ended with the lady who turned into a giant cat dead. Next came the sequel, which I’d never seen and had never heard of. Revenge of the Cat People. I waited.

A knock at my door.

I could hear a bit of rain now, on the windows that let out so much heat. Who was out so late on a rainy Halloween night? I had the notion to just let them knock and knock until they got tired and went away. My seven or so remaining hard candies huddled in the bottom of my white plastic bowl.

Twin clowns gazed up at me, through garish, too-bright greasy makeup. Both wore rainbow-hued wigs. The girl wore a big purple suit with a fake plastic pink flower on her breast. The boy wore a plaid hobo outfit. They wordlessly held up their little bags, paper sacks with Harbottle’s stamped on them. That store had gone out of business over thirty years ago. I had gone there with my own mother who had liked to finger their selection of fabrics whenever she got a notion to sew something. Both sacks held nothing but some traces of dirt. I smiled and dropped my remaining sad remnants into their bags. These two never spoke, a brother and sister who seemed stamped from the same twin factory. The boy’s face sometimes showed bone and torn away cheek, the girl’s sometimes showed her head caved in. Tonight they were just twin clowns. They solemnly looked down into their bags, with actual disappointment and then looked at me, with actual sorrow.

“A minute. I might have something else. Just a minute.” I got my bag of cheap Oreo knockoffs I’d gotten at the Dollar Store and when I came back to my open door, the two were still there. I had expected them to vanish. “You can share these.” I had not opened the package. I put them in the little girl clown’s bag. Both regarded my offering of cookies and then me, their eyes the same flat blue. Both nodded, waved at me and then turned to return to wherever they had come from. No car, or pickup, no waiting parent or elder brother or sister or aunt or grandparent. Just the slightly rainy night, the chill of the season trying to get ready for winter. I watched them walk off into the dark and wondered who watched over them and who had let them wander about, alone.

I wondered who had let dead children come trick or treating. I wondered that a lot.

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My Book!! Yay!

 

 

 

 

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Howdy. Hello there. No, I’m not taking on either movies or television today, dear readers, friends, passerbys and assorted other nice people. I am in full promote mode! Oh yes!! I will be a shameless barker of my works, because who else is going to champion said works?? Exactly!! 

It’s been available for a bit as an e-book. And you can also get THE HOUSE ON CLARK BOULEVARD in paperback!!  

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075KNFHDJ

Oh and also, go get my Oregon Gothic!! 

 

 

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The actual Clark BLVD. 

Oh. And if you can or want to or have a serious need, go review my book/s. Why be coy, eh, dearies? Why indeedy…

There’s a clown in my movie, a review of It.

 

 

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from IMDb. Sophia Lillis as Beverly in It. 

Yours truly took herself to the movies this week. I saw It, the horror film based on Stephen King’s gigantic, sprawling ode to childhood and some other stuff.

I promise not to give away the ending. Those seven kids walk through this closet and have to fight Aslan for ultimate control of Narnia. Whoops.

Okay, if you’re a Steve King fan, you’ve read this novel and have probably seen the television miniseries with Tim freaking Curry as Pennywise.

 

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from Cinemablend. Tim Curry as Pennywise

Good for you! I, too, have both read and seen those. I’ve read It more than once. Because I compulsively read books over and over. Now you know something about me.

So!! This new adaptation. Or remake. Or gritty reboot. Mm. Ahem.

From the opening scenes of Georgie, little brother to Bill, the MAIN CHARACTER, and the paper boat racing along the flood of destiny, we’re SUCKED IN to this world seen from mostly the children’s POV. The cussing, the kid subjects they find fascinating, the fearlessness, the camaraderie in the face of absolute evil…! The grownups seem misty and surreal, which works here. We kind of get why a kid in a rainstorm would talk to a flipping CLOWN in a drain.

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from the Telegraph. Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise.  Would you go within a thousand miles of this thing? Mm? 

 

I don’t get it, however, because I find clowns fucking scary. They freak me out. I’d never…okay. Which is a problem I had with It, the novel and It, the subsequent visual realizations of said novel.

The clown.

It’s too on the nose scary in the 2017 film version. It’s obvious. Too obvious, for my esoteric tastes. It starts off as OMG SCARY SAVE ME BABY JESUS and there’s nowhere to go from there. It’s rather static. You can’t keep pissing your pants if you piss them right at the start of the movie, to be blunt and gross. Other reviewers and wiseacres have also mentioned the problems with the clown. It’s not just me.

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from Pinterest. This is the clown they should have gone with. This is a clown kids would take a balloon from…

And…every time Pennywise sticks around longer than ten seconds, we see the zipper up the back of the costume, to quote from King’s Danse Macabre. Which is a shout-out to those old, creaky monster movies from the Atomic Age. Godzilla to Them! to the Mole People. If you have no idea what any of those three things mentioned are…JUST GO AWAY. Ser’sly. Buh bye. Go watch Memento again, you squirrelly assmunch. Yeah, I’m a wee bit hostile.

I’m aware that It, the clown critter, is mostly CGI. It’s neato. Pennywise is far more frightening when it’s just that Skarsgard dude in clown makeup…that is one talented family.

But what I’m ACTUALLY wondering is how that damn clown fools any of those kids into following it anywhere or why a kid would let that thing close enough to grab him or her or them…after all, predators of children are not the scary monsters that Pennywise is. Side note– most kids get molested or harmed or killed by someone they know. We can’t teach Grandpa Danger, after all…

Kids are totally into monsters and avoiding them, after all. It’s called being a kid. Imagination plus knowing, without a doubt, that that shadow in the closet waits until you’re asleep before it stands over you, breathing. Breathing. As the novel does get into– kids have absolute faith. That moment in the novel King penned where young Stan screams the names of birds to banish the monster into the shadows again and it works. That’s the power of faith manifested through a child’s absolute belief that the right words will make the bad stuff go away. Abracadabra.

Where is the seduction from Pennywise? We don’t see it. It doesn’t exist. I was thinking, how stupid are those Maine schoolkids to fall for that obvious craptoad Pennywise? I haven’t read the book for a while, so forgive me for this. But I REMEMBER the clown/It being far more subtle. It didn’t start out at TEN, it began working on victims further down the scale, more at a two or three level. That clown [the creature that inhabits Derry, Maine] had fun with its victims, it didn’t go for the jugular right away like a rabid weasel. At least, that’s what I remember.

Now, granted, the year/s this all took place got upgraded to the late nineties. We went from the fifties in the original book to the time of Bill Clinton and the Backstreet Boys.

There’s a cute little flirty thing in the movie involving Beverly, resident perceived slutchild, and Ben, resident fatboy, about the Backstreet Boys. Or maybe it was New Kids on the Block or…ugh. It was genuinely something kids would do. It’s little moments like that that actually make this film a far better country that it has a right to be. Those little interactions that seem to rise naturally and organically from the story and surroundings…I know, shh. I’m being a pretentious snickerdoodle. Okay.

Oh, the Losers Club is made up of the stereotypical losers from any random school/small town. The nerds, the geeks, the fat kid, the kid that doesn’t fit in, the differently colored kid, the girl everyone thinks enjoys gang bangs, the four-eyed unfortunate sons of genetics gone wrong, the sickly, the weak, the losers. And, of course, they’re all great kids who contribute in some way to HOW TO FIGHT THE MONSTER. The leader, the builder, the navigator, the…these kids could build dams, do research, make connections Sherlock Holmes would have made…!

At least, in the book they were presented as such. I kinda wish more of their talents and gifts had been included in the movie, so as to show why these normal kids could face down an ancient monster clown thingie. There’s bits and pieces but still. It’s rather like the complaint about the magic weapons in LOTR. How come, like, three people can fight off the gazillions of orcs and goblins? It was all laid out in the books but not so much in the movies…okay.

Oh. So. The other MAIN OBJECTION I formed to this film was…the last part of it. Where an ugly little Scary Movie Staple raised its Ugly Little Head.

That would be Woman in Peril.

[the following contains slight spoilers!!]

I’m sitting there, enjoying this movie, wondering why those various other kids follow that damn clown to their doom and did I miss the part where maybe It is using hypnosis or some other machination when…the only girl, Beverly Marsh, in the Band of Losers…gets treated to the ace of Girlcrap in the Scary Movie Deck of Bullshit Cards. Fuck me running!

Beverly, newly on her period, the focus of several cute-ish crushes from her new collection of friends, gets to be an actual fighter and smartie pants for most of the movie. She’s a tough cookie, she smokes, she wallops the bejesus out of…yeah. Just as she was in the book…ahem. And then, yeah. She has this epic fight in her apartment– I won’t go into it because SPOILERS– and the outcome is…SHE’S JUST ANOTHER VICTIM who needs SAVING by the Losers, all boys except for her!!!! who UNITE after a fight amongst themselves…to maybe SAVE BEVERLY FROM THE BAD CLOWN.

Fuck. No, just no. I about came out of my skin. Good day, I tell ya, good day!

I was disappointed with the downswing this movie seemed to take with Beverly’s direction/purpose/character arc. I expected more. It also seemed that third act/building to the showdown seemed…voted on by a committee of advertising reps trying to sell Summer’s Eve products. I expect such woman-in-peril shenanigans from every other horror/thriller/indie/art house/whatever movie on the planet but…sometimes you dream big. You hope gigantically that, maybe this time…it will be different. 

There’s also a passage in the book that troubles many, including me. If you already know what that is, well, let’s just say…eh, Steve? What the Cheez Doodles? If you don’t know, go read the book because that passage gets left out…yeah. It’s where they’re in the kid phase of life yet, are disoriented in those sewer tunnels and…! Ahem. But it involved the only girl and it was…iffy. That’s as polite as I can get.

So, yeah, I do recommend this movie. So few actual good solid horror movies float to that swamp’s surface. The horror movies dreckfest swamp, located somewhere between Plan 9 From Outer Space and Annabelle, The Doll That Never Gains Weight. Or whatever the newest Annabelle movie is. What floats to the top would be the original Exorcist, the original Night of the Living Dead and Audition, for instance. Your list will be different than my list of what a ‘good’ horror film is. And that’s okay. For now.

It, the film, the movie, the entertainment juggernaut, has flaws. The clown is too on the nose, for my tastes and the descent into WOMEN IN HORROR FILMS same ole same ole treatment presents some major head-scratching from moi. But it also inspires me to write better heroines who can save themselves. Wootie woot.

 

To conclude, It was a fine, eh, flawed, eh, goddamn clowns don’t need to be scarier, you fucknuts…entry in the horror field. The previews sucked balls, except for the Stars Wars one. [Shut UP.]

Oh and stop turning women in horror films into damsels in distress, for the love of unicorns and manatees. I don’t care if you couldn’t think of a better third act. Jesus said, in the Gospels, do not fall back on tired Damsel in Distress mode when thou writeth a screenplay involving clowns.

It’s in the new, updated Bible. The one Conservadepia is not working on, by the way.

Here endeth my scholarly film dissection.

Oh, I’m going to write next about AHS:Clowns Fuck In My Supermarket and All I Can Do Is Scream. Which the producers shortened to Cult. It won’t be as long as my It novella.

An Afterthought– nope, not gonna apologize for another post. Nope nope nope!  #NotSorry #ClownsRTheNuZombies

 

Mr. Blue’s Blues

 

 

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from Dreamtime.

PART ONE:

Oh I wrote a rambling, first draft, ode to my ‘villain’. I did, I did. I got into how women are portrayed in horror films and scary books. Which in fact does color House on Clark Boulevard’s Nancy.

But.

I’ll try again and try to keep my viciously messy thoughts viciously focused on viciously vicious Mr. Blue. All those sibilants! Oh and a bit more about Nancy! Go #TeamNancy!

PART TWO:

I wrote HOCB after a pretty awful summer. Just take my word for it. I just sat at my battered ancient PC and wrote. No outline, no idea where this one was going. Just that rather pedestrian title and not much more than a need to drown out the real world.

I let the words form into somewhat coherent sentences, paragraphs and entire pages as they wished. A young wife and mother, in the seventies, dealing with ghosts. I didn’t try to burn the world down with my prose. [God forbid.] I just wrote. If you’re a writer, you get that. Sometimes you just write.

You’re not trying to make a point or come up with themes or miffed about the economic realities of eighteen year olds…you’re just writing. The same as when you’re just breathing, it’s just breathing.

Nancy, a’course, is based somewhat [like, totally] on my own mother. Who would no more have run about screaming in headless chicken fashion over a ghost than not make gravy from a roast. I borrowed that pragmatic, can-do, actual pioneer spirit– my great-grandmother traveled to the West in an actual covered wagon…and gave it to my heroine/main character Nancy.

However…I became infected with the notion that Nancy needs a Loki. I had another rant in my first draft of Mr. Blue’s Blues about how villains are more charismatic and fully fleshed characters than heroes, hence the Loki reference.

After all, she can’t spend X amount of pages vacuuming, cooking turkeys–there are two holidays at the end of the American year– Turkey Day and Presents!– and trying to get her youngest to use the toilet like daddy does, all while sort of ignoring the little and large ghosties bothering her and trying to get her attention. [I’d totally read a novel like that, but I am a unique snowflake!]

PART THREE:

So, Mr. Blue crept into my narrative.

That name just strolled from my artistic shadows and took an opening bow. Mr. Blue. Who was he and why was Nancy more concerned about this cat than the tea party little girl ghost or the rolling things or the floating eyes? I find that asking myself questions helps stumble the story forward a bit toward some vague end. Yay!

I offered no origin story. There isn’t one. It was not important to the story. Mostly because, gulp. Actual author confession here– I don’t know what it is yet. I have an idea and no, he’s not a ghost or some remnant from some murder or…no. He’s SOMETHING ELSE. But that’s for the third book, now in progress. I just plopped him down into Nancy’s tale as her antagonist. One of them.

Mr. Blue expects our Nance to act a CERTAIN WAY. The expected female hysterics. The running around in her undies and tripping over rocks trope. After all, we’re led to believe all his other seductions have been successful. That he has managed to get other women to–

Nope, you have to read the book to find out what Mr. Blue wants Nancy to do. I’m a PR genius here! I leave out bits of info to tweak your interest! Available September 22!! I will post links!!

Why won’t Nancy straighten up and act like women are supposed to act? Scaredy-cats, easily led, easily seduced into X,Y or Z. Eve and the Apple! It’s right there, in the damn Bible, women are stoooooopid and must be utterly locked up or else they fuck snakes or something. Anyway!

 

I read where that snake in the Garden of Eden can also stand in for a penis…so Eve was a slut, too. Ouch.

PART FOUR:

There’s also that major question as to why people in haunted houses won’t leave. Mostly it comes down to financial reasons. The Amityville Horror tale, for instance. That family stayed because they had no money to go elsewhere. People buy some big beautiful house and then whango, it’s full of evil ghosts trying to kill them!

 

Every. Fricking. Time! American Horror Story exploits this one for fun and profit. That first season, Murder House. Then the  AHS/Roanoke one. Dark Water, both versions. The Conjuring. Mama. The Shining. The Legend of Hell House. Beetlejuice. Burnt Offerings. Oh there’s giant lists of haunted house movies, novels and the like.

The moral is– buy ugly  small houses, folks. Ghosts don’t live in shacks and low-rent eyesores. A crumbling castle, sure! It’s still a castle! Geez, does nobody pay attention anymore?? [They probably do. I’m not trying to throw shade at where ghosts take up residences. Just being mildly sarcastic on a Sunday afternoon. Okay, ghosts who live in shacks and low-rent eyesores? We good here?]

Nancy has almost no say in where she lives. That’s due to her own conditioning and training by her own mother and society and…!

So Nancy has to stay put and do the best she can with what she has. And she does! Because I find women are highly resourceful, clever, able to juggle twenty thousand things at the same time while juggling forty thousand other things and…yep.

There’s a hidden world of women as I touched on a bit in the novel. The face women show men, and the faces they show each other. That Margaret Atwood quote– men fear women will laugh at them, women fear men will kill them. That rings so fricking true, you just start nodding your head. Yep yep yep. If you’re female, that is. You just nod your head when you read that, you get it at the very level of your guts where it’s always fight or flight. Except for women, it’s hunker down or maybe find yourself dead if you act the wrong way at the wrong time. That careful read the emotional weather of those around you that women get trained to do…even the Wonder Women’s and the Ripley’s and the Sarah Connor’s and those women not fictional or battling monsters in their armor and underwear.

 

I watched my own grandmother do this. That careful politeness when the men were present, the raunchy giggler when the men were not present. The two faces of Eve. Indeed. Women don’t tell their real stories and the voices of women have been largely silent except for a few odd lady writers who ‘bucked’ the system. We censor our stories, we women. We ‘nice’ them up for the men and for each other. Silence and omissions and going along so the men don’t get upset, so we don’t upset ourselves and admit icky things that are in plain sight but which we politely ignore.  Taking out this or that because it’s ‘too much’. Uh huh.

PART FIVE:

Nancy fights back against Mr. Blue and the ghosts because not doing so goes against her nature.

Mr. Blue expects her to fold like a cheap folding chair. Will she fold? Read the book to find out!

Nancy is also a version of Little Red Riding Hood. She knows not to leave the path. She wants to be that ‘normal good girl’ she has been told she wants to be. That it doesn’t quite gel with her actual character, well. I also think that’s part of her resistance to Mr. Blue‘s attempts to mold her and shape her. She can’t go against what she’s been taught but she can rebel against some ‘other’ outside of the realm of her tiny world. That she can do. With real relish and glee.

Which confounds poor Mr. Blue and makes him a bit blue and determined to get what he wants…nope, gonna have to read the book!

 

SEPTEMBER 22

 

 

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September 22 is when House on Clark Boulevard makes its debut. Now you know. Mark your calendars, write it on your hand, engrave it on a pet rock.

I, sullen and full of fogs and low tides, went to see about securing a second public reading for HOUSE ON CLARK BOULEVARD. At Second and Wine, the lovely little restaurant/wine bar in Ontario, Oregon. Now, the friend helping me with publicity and so forth…did not show up. [I am assuming this person had something come up or something happened at work or…?] So, I waited a bit, then, stomach churning, went into the joint and clumsily brokered a deal of sorts to maybe read, maybe, in October. I left a little packet of stuff and things– excerpt from actual book, bio about yours truly and my contact info. Hallelujah, I still have some moxie left. Not much, a smidge. But hey, a tiny sparkle of boldness still sparkles somewhere in the region of my left toe.

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Clark BLVD. Oregon wildfire smoke

The wildfires here in Oregon. Yeah. The haze here in extreme Eastern Oregon has been Mordor-ish. It just looks foggy all the time. We get inversions here, so that look is rather familiar but still. I’ve also seen what these fires are doing to Montana. Over a million acres. The Columbia Gorge on fire, set off by kids with fireworks. That’s the Eagle Creek fire, for those keeping score at home. We’re waiting here, on the far other side of the state, for our own set of out of control savage flame festivals. So far…nothing. But the surrounding surfaces hold tall growths of cheat grass and such, dry as Thanksgiving turkey. We had those gigantic snowfalls and the weeds loved it…and we’re waiting for that one strike of lightning. A thunderstorm moving through that deposits a few drops of rain. Where the thunder rolls and the lightning sparks hundreds of little fires, and perhaps one or several take off…yep. Or a careless sort who drops a ciggie or a spark from the undercarriage of an ATV or some sort of off-road whatchamacallit. Bango! Smoldering evil coal! BOOM!! Wildfire.

 

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Actual Clark BLVD. Pretty close to the actual house I based my novel on. 

There was a big fire here, I remember it. Watching the flames munch the dry hills, it was both awesome and pee down your leg terrifying. We were told to evacuate and went to my aunt’s, high up on the hill overlooking our little bit of the Treasure Valley here. You could stand outside, with the ash drifting down, and observe the line of the fire as it threatened to turn our way, to engulf everything…but kept going sideways, parallel to where we all stood. I remember the local farmers stayed to protect their equipment and buildings, my dad and brother included. This was years ago. Memory says I was a ‘kid’.

September 22!! Did I mention House on Clark Boulevard comes out then?

I’m going to tackle the Betsy Devil shit in a separate post. Because siding with the MRA shits, Betsy, should go against all your so-called inner Jesus urges. Michigan is now among the bottom of the states in education due to their embrace of charter schools and ‘choice’ thereof for the kiddies. Devos brings nothing but destruction, and a return to unless ‘she’s a virgin, she deserves to be raped’ fun. Once upon a time, not that long ago, you had to qualify as a ‘good’ rape victim. [ Boys just gonna be boys, right? And yes, men get raped, but not in the numbers women do. ] Oh, yeah, there’s still that ‘she deserved it’ narrative and ‘what was she wearing’ and ‘if she’d made better choices’ and…uh huh.

Rather like ‘earning’ an abortion– rape or incest only, gals!

So, I’ll fuss and fume about all that in a post I probably  won’t post. Because it will prolly turn into a single solid block of cuss words and pics of  raised middle fingers. WWJD? Cuss like a sailor and write blog posts in these here modern times! I did promise to make September about the writing process or share smoogens of projects. Smoogens– agonized over liftings from various writing projects. The more you know.

 

September 22. Let’s finish off this shameless self-promotion and side-trip into wildfires and Betsy Devil with a shoutout to moi and her book. Now books!

Oh– I took a tiny trip, a nostalgic drive, back to the actual Clark Boulevard. Evening, twilight, the smoke making everything very eerie and oh so atmospheric. Still enough daylight to snap some snaps of the road, old houses, farmie stuff. I looked for the old house…I think it’s gone. I might have had to drive further up Clark but I don’t remember living that far from the main highway between Vale and Ontario. Memory, lies to you all the time…!

But. I made a pilgrimage, of sorts. Is that not what counts? You really can’t go home again, especially if that home seems vanished like a meat fart in the breeze.

The road looked suitably spooky. The old house I took a picture of looked just right. The sign, with the smoky sky behind it, ah, something out of a Dario Argento film. The haystack had an air of menace! The people living on that road probably still wonder who the nut in the GMC was. What is that weirdo doing? My self-consciousness, always there to turn me into a scaredy-cat!

Oh– on an uplifting final note, uplifting for me and this blog is all about me, me, me– my short story, Maybelle, got into Whistle Pig, which is out of Mountain Home, Idaho. In their October issue. I’m thrilled. I sat and wrote this little tale on a Sunday afternoon, about an elderly woman and her doll. I am glad, after schlepping it to many another, to see it find a home. Sometimes there’s an acceptance of your work. And then the crushing avalanche of rejections, of course, that crush you and crush you and crush you. Yay!

September 22. Get that tattooed, on your cheek. So others will stop and ask you why you have this date inked permanently on your skin. You can reply– That’s when Ann Wuehler’s House on Clark Boulevard arrived!

They’ll be politely puzzled and forget promptly all that information but you, at least, tried. You can just write it with a ball point pen, too. If you don’t wish to commit fully to this sort of advertising. I’ll understand.

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The House on Clark Boulevard!!

 

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THE INSIDE OF MY HEAD IS FULL OF LADYBUGS.

That is a line from my latest stab at the third book of my ‘trilogy’. Saint Lysette and Bloody Alice. The second is done– Alice in Oregonlandia.

I’ve started that third book over X amount of times [at least four] and have stumbled upon…well, will do a whole blog post on that. I am determined that September will be ABOUT WRITING AND WHAT I’M WRITING OR ELSE I’LL EAT MY OWN HAT. I have two hats. One is from Thailand. I won’t eat that one. Because I got it in Thailand and I need to remember I was once a brave little world traveling cookie.

American politics, at the moment, make me want to write snarky comments under news stories and start my own religion so I can get a megachurch, too. The Church of Annabella. I’ll preach on America First, everyone else can just suck it and why guns are holy and in the Bible. 

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Hence, the focusing on the gentle art of writing and the gentler art of promotion of said writings. Yippee skip, my cowpokes and cowladies. Mostly because anything I write that way– [I edited out a mini-rant on AmeriJesus running over SJW’s in a chariot. Uh huh.]– makes me a bit, well, unfocused and scattershot. So!! Let’s get promotin’!! Isn’t this fun?

The first leg comes out in September. The House on Clark Boulevard.

Ghosts. Holiday meals. Human sacrifice. Will Nancy ever get those Christmas cards written? How can a housewife get a kid potty-trained if she’s fighting the forces of darkness? Who is Mr. Peepers and just why does Mr. Blue do what he do? Who will get up to let Fred in? It’s certainly not Art! Will that turkey ever cook?? Is Calgon far more magical  than that company let on? Find out these questions and more!!

The House on Clark Boulevard.

The street is real, by the way. That house, which is one of the characters in this book,  was one of my childhood homes. I was just a little older than Alice Stockhorst when I lived in the actual house on Clark Boul-de-bard. That’s how I said it, because I was, like, four or five.

We were living in Washington State by the time I hit first grade…Paterson Elementary, where you could spend your whole recess watching barges go up and down the mighty Columbia if you so wished. We took field trips to McNary Dam [giant man-eating catfish!] and to Tri-Cities [Pasco, Kenniwick and Richland] to see the ballet. Memory, it cleans up those images you wish to be sparkly and nice, doesn’t it. Oh yes.

Oh, I made my grandmother–the real Grandma Joan in my about to hit the market book, whose middle name was Joan– drive us past the dead bull when I lived in that house. A dead bull they had not yet taken away. Yes, one of the truly darker parts of that happy fantasy friendly barn yard picture some of you hold dear in your heads. What happens to large dead animals? When they get all ripe and stinky and very very very dead? La la la!

It fascinated me, that gas-bloated dead behemoth, and she indulged my morbid tastes, like any good granny does. Kids, they love death and gooshy stuff. That shiny, balloon-looking carcass we had to visit as long as it remained a fixture of the landscape. Back then the roads had not yet been paved and the ruts shook her little car.

A Lynx. Or maybe that car came later, maybe she had another car before that, there’s so few left to ask. And I find I’d rather romanticize than ferret out the boring make and model of whatever car she ACTUALLY had at that period of time. I remember her silver Lynx, a Ford. I remember the bull and my grandmother driving us by it so I could get a good look. That much is true. That much will go in the documentary called What Ann Wrote. It will be produced two hundred years from now when people ‘discover’ my writing and there’s fan clubs and…

Oh look, there’s me not being a total unicorn-happy butterfly of positivity!

Sorry.

Back to this book about to TAKE THE WORLD BY STORM. Yay!!!!

A friend of mine has helped me set up readings. In Ontario, Oregon. At the local library and possibly, at this little wine place that features ‘local talent’. Second and Wine is the name in case you’re ever in Ontario, Oregon. Chefs, authors, foot models, who knows. I don’t get out and about, I am not in the loop, even the tiny Eastern Oregon/Western Idaho loop. I’m nearly a total recluse at this point in time.

So, the reading/s.

There might even be a Boise, Idaho one. Big city, bright lights, fellow babies. I know, Boise is relatively ‘small’ when compared to, say, Los Angeles or Hong Kong, but I am not getting on a bunch of planes to go to Hong Kong. That takes more than the seven dollars I have in my purse at the moment. Just saying. There might be ‘some places’ in north Boise– which is apparently the arty end?

If you know Boise at all, that’s mildly funny. If you have no idea what a Boise is or have never heard of the state of Idaho, well. Maybe that’s God’s will working wonders in your life, who can say at this point in the narrative. I’m being totally, like, sarcastic, so let’s return to our regular blog post road, shall we?

Being a grad school grad, I’ve had public readings of my stuff.

Oh yes. I’ve seen my work done on stage, either really well or so badly I actually died a little. I’ve had to sit and take criticisms that were more about tearing me apart than addressing my work. I’ve gotten great stuff from actual enemies who hated my guts. I’ve gotten many a neutral ‘good job’ from actual friends who perhaps didn’t wish to hurt my feelings.

So I’m not shaking over reading a few pages for the public’s amusement/boredom. I probably will be a lot more nervous once actual dates and times are nailed to that cross of public speaking, oh yes. But it will be more about– what do I wear, my hair should be murdered with a nuke, should I just shave my head or what and what did I do with my beige iridescent lipstick? [A shout out to the real Dirty Dancing]

Oh hey, I have a new book coming out!! You can buy Oregon Gothic!! I also write plays, so produce them!! I’m fabulous!!

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