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I am a multimedia designer and aspiring writer from Central Illinois who dreams of bigger things. You are entering the hub of my online world. Welcome. Make yourself at home, read some stuff, click a few things, maybe check out my online portfolio. And of course, if you enjoy your stay, please subscribe.

*NOTE* This blog occasionally contains coarse language. Please use discretion when viewing.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Lovecraftian Christmas tale

Those of you who are Lovecraft fans like me will definitely appreciate this creative and hilarious Lovecraftian twist on the 12 Days of Christmas. It's a short story written by Eric Lis; this story was published in Weird Tales magazine in 2008, and this particular reading was broadcast on the Drabblecast podcast by Norm Sherman.
The link you are about to click on will launch the high quality 15-minute sound clip on YouTube. It's 15 minutes you'll be glad you invested.
My True Lovecraft Gave To Me
Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

More HPL short summaries


Celephais - This story is, I suppose, part of the Dream Cycle of H.P. Lovecraft. In it a man, called Kuranes in his dreams (we know not what his real name is), becomes obsessed with his dream world, where life is so much nicer and more exciting than the real world. He begins spending more and more time asleep, visiting a city called Celephais that seems to represent a cross between Arabian Nights and King Arthur. Anyway, he starts taking drugs to spend more time in the dream world and eventually, in the real world, ends up a penniless junkie. A knight comes to him in real life at the end to escort him to Celephais so he can rule as their king and god. Kuranes goes with him, where he rules for all eternity. Meanwhile, his mortal body is found smashed on the rocks below a high sea cliff. Meh. I don't really like the dream world stuff. At least, not so far. However, this is a notable story for being the first mention of Innsmouth (though a diffferent Innsmouth, as it's set in the UK) and it's the origin of Kuranes, who will make a brief appearance later in "Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath" (which, as Lovecraft's longest work and a dream world story, I am dreading reading).

Cool Air - One of the first stories few stories I read in this collection, "Cool Air" still endures as one of my favorites. A guy who lives in this boarding house in New York develops an interest in (and a budding friendship with) the tenant above him, who turns out to be a scientist suffering from a malady that requires him to constantly be in a climate controlled atmosphere. To that end, he has invented air conditioning, using an ammonia-based cooling system. As time goes on, he requires cooler and cooler temperatures to maintain his health. In the end we find out it's because he's a zombie and he's begun rotting. It's very cleverly and descriptively written. I really like this story. I've read it twice so far and also listened to a fantastic reading provided by the H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast. I imagine this will be one of the first stories I will reread after completing my journey through all HPL's writings.

The Curse of Yig - I covered this one here.

Dagon - An American prisoner of war escapes from a German u-boat and gets lost at sea. After drifting in and out of consciusness, he awakens and finds himself on what he can only surmise is an incredibly large, sludgy segment of ocean floor that has broken off and floated to the surface. He gets out and explores his surroundings. Eventually he finds a great crevasse, which he scales downward to find the facade of an enormous temple. As he watches, an ancient, cyclopean monster comes to worship at the monolithic temple. After it leaves, the man makes his way back to his boat, but his mind has snapped and he remembers little. Waking in a hospital, he is told he was found afloat in his escape boat, where there is no sign of any chunks of the ocean floor floating on the water. But he knows it was real. And it scares him almost to the point of insanity to believe that there is possibly a race of great, monstrous beasts under the sea worshiping gods of their own. Meh. It was OK. I prefer "The Temple" when it comes to undersea adventures, but we'll get to that one later. Considered together, I think the two stories complement one another nicely, and when you throw in "The Call of Cthulhu" as well, so far that's a nice collection of stories that might have a deeper (no pun intended) relationship with one another.

As always, thanks for reading. Subscribe!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

More short attention span HPL summaries


The Book - A guy finds a crazy old book at a messy secondhand bookstore. The proprietor refuses to take payment for it, seemingly relieved to simply be rid of the thing. The man takes the book home and studies it in his attic room dedicated to studying strange stuff. Crap gets weird. He looks at it more and crap gets weirder. Eventually crap gets so weirdthat during one of his readings/rituals the walls melt away and he finds himself in another reality, flying over an ancient stone city. That's pretty much it. I guess Lovecraft initially meant this to be the beginning of a larger story that would essentially be a prose version of his wonderful and hypnotic poem "Fungi from Yuggoth." Then he decided it was shit and ceased his effort. Kind of a shame; I liked it so far. Oh well.

The Call of Cthulhu - Quintessential Lovecraft piece introducing the Old Ones, particularly Cthulhu, to the world. Let's do a very boiled-down summary for this one. Part I: Guy inherits a chest full of stuff that points toward existence of some sort of supernatural force in the world, including a small idol of undetermined origin, construction and significance. Part II: Guy reads account of an explorer who finds two cults on opposite sides of the world and opposite ends of the technological spectrum which worship the same primordial being, represented by the aforementioned diminutive idol. Part III: After years of trying in vain to discover more about these clues, the guy finally stumbles upon the newsaper account that ties everything together in a horrible realization: Cthulhu does indeed sleep in the sunken sity of R'lyeh. And he is stirring, signifying that he will waken for good very soon. And when he does, if his cultists are to be believed, all the world as we know it will be devoured and a new aeon will begin, wherein the Old Ones will once again reign over all the universe. Great story. Read it.

The Cats of Ulthar - This one reminds me of a children's story, kind of like a tale by the Brothers Grimm. Could be at home in a collection with Red Riding Hood, Rumpelstiltskin and the Pied Piper of Hamelin. In this story, an old couple loves to torture and kill the cats of their neighborhood. Cat owners are, therefore, very careful to keep their feline companions indoors. When a band of Gypsies comes through town, no one thinks to tell them about the disgusting habits of the town's most hated (and feared) couple. After they kill a little orphan Gypsy boy's beloved kitten, he casts a Gypsy spell and all the cats get together to attack and devour the old couple. It's a revenge tale with cute little ears and tiny pink toes. I read it to my kids a while back, and my 10-year-old son seemed to like it as much as I.

That's it for now. More to come soon. Thanks for reading.

Monday, December 10, 2012

New IT Manager #7

The scariest part is that his absence leaves Beaker in charge of Muppet Labs.

Friday, December 7, 2012

An Atheist's Christmas Blessing

I wrote the following diatribe as a response to a Facebook friend's post about how much he loathes Christmas and what a scam it is. The gentleman in question and myself attended the same Baptist church when we were children, and we both have long since left the church and the supernatural world behind in favor of the pursuit of logic and science...

I consider myself an atheist, but I am an atheist who celebrates Christmas. For sake of argument, let's agree that everything you said above is completely accurate. With all that having been said, isn't there *something* special in the air this time of year?

Maybe it's just me. Maybe it's just nostalgia for the great Christmas memories of my childhood - family, good times, a feeling of unity with others, sweet and soothing music, pretty lights and bows, a cozy blanket on a cold, snowy day, the eagerness and magic of awaiting Christmas morning.

Maybe it's all that bundled into one magical month, along with the desire to leave my own children with magical memories of their own to treasure and pass down to their children.

But there's something... There's something in the strains of "Silent Night" that really makes my heart want to burst its seams when I hear a multitude of serene, reverent voices singing it in breathy unison, in a sanctuary full of lit candles. It's not unheard of for me to get a bit teary-eyed by the third verse or so. It could be a result of the mass mentality. It could be all those things I mentioned above flooding my brain at once, creating a tsunami of an emotional overload.

Some would say it's a beneficent, supernatural, holy deity trying to push its way through and make its presence known in my heart, and they would pray for me to accept it. It'll never happen. I'm too scientifically minded and rooted in PROOF = TRUTH to trust much of anything on faith alone, or even that coupled with the "evidence" detected by my own feeble, fallible, manipulable mind. But is it so bad for those people to want that for me?

I readily accept people's prayers these days when they feel that I am in need of them. There's no harm to me, and it comforts those people to put their faith in a higher power.

Many horrible things have been done in the past in the name of religion. John Hinckley shot Reagan in the name of Jodie Foster; I have nothing against Jodie Foster.

Many wonderful things have also been done for humanity in the name of religion. Despite the "sordid past" (and present) of many churches, most of the churchgoing people I know are wonderful, trustworthy, non-judgmental, generous and pleasant people to work and socialize with. I can’t bring myself to attend a weekly church service because when I do I feel like sort of a wolf in sheep’s clothing; I feel like I’m dishonestly representing myself as something I’m not.

But I’m perfectly willing to let down my protective walls a bit during this time of the year, take part in the showmanship and trappings of the season, and enjoy a little bit of Christmas spirit. I happily gather with family, friends and loved ones to exchange gifts and make joyful memories that will endure for years to come. And whenever possible I take my family to a late night Christmas Eve service where we completely enshroud ourselves with a sometimes overwhelming flood of feelings of camaraderie, love, forgiveness, selflessness and joy.

It may all be an illusion, but damn it, it’s a magical one that I’m happy to perpetuate. And from one atheist to another, I am dreadfully sorry that you seem to have lost the ability to be in touch with that magic.

Monday, December 3, 2012

New IT Manager #6

#Skyfall was freaking awesome, so I had to dedicate a week to my most favorite 007 ever. Daniel Craig, you kick ass!

This weekend: Peoria Ballet presents The Nutcracker

Seats remaining for the Dec 8 show as of this morning (Dec 3) are shown in blue.
If you are in the Peoria-Bloomington area and need a dose of culture or Christmas spirit, head on over to and purchase some tickets for Peoria Ballet's 30th annual presentation of The Nutcracker. There are two shows only -- Saturday December 8 at 7:30 PM and Sunday December 9 at 2:00 PM. Tickets start at only $10, and they're going FAST, especially for the Saturday evening show!

Seats remaining for the Dec 9 show as of this morning (Dec 3) are shown in blue.
Come see my kids and me perform in this seasonal show that has become a holiday tradition in Peoria.
Start a tradition with your own family! Ring in each Christmas season with the premiere classical ballet of the yuletide season.

This year's production features many brand new costumes, all new choreography, and a brand new backdrop that the ballet acquired thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign that I helped put together!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Short-Attention Span HPL summaries


Ever wonder what all the hubbub is about H.P. Lovecraft stories, anyway? Curious, but never cracked one open yourself? Tried a few times but couldn't get past the style or outmoded language? Here be spoilers. I will attempt to summarize and review each one I've read in two to three succinct sentences, something of which I believe Lovecraft himself was likely incapable.

The Alchemist - A guy living on his family estate is cursed as his family has been for generations, hunted and haunted by an enemy of his ancestors, an alchemist who, centuries earlier, learned the secret of eternal life. Not very good. I suspect he wrote it as a young teen.

The Beast in the Cave - Find this review here.

Beyond the Wall of Sleep - A guy mind melds with an apparently crazy Indian who goes to distant realms in his dreams, and he soon realizes they are actually astrally projecting themselves several astronomical units into the heavens and becoming some sort of star-eating cosmic mega-beings. Not a bad story. I kinda dig this one. Not scary at all, more like straight sci-fi with a disturbing image or two (and a fair bit of that endearing Lovecraftian racism) along the way.

That's it for now. This is going to take a while, but it's way more efficient than spending a whole entry on each one.