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May I Have Your Attention…

Hi! I’m creating a new blog. I hope you all will follow me over at that blog. I’ll post links to it here for a while before I stop posting altogether on here. The new page is spellboundscribbler.wordpress.com and please feel free to share it. I just posted my first blog at spellboundscribbler. Come on over and take a look!

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The New House

Without a doubt, the energy of a house is important if you want to be comfortable in your own space. I’ve been in my house just over a month now. There were several things I did to help make my space comfy. A couple of these things may sound strange but they work.

[Disclaimer: I’m of the Pagan persuasion and use energy work in my everyday life. Don’t be alarmed. Just read.]

One of the first things I did was cover all the mirrors already in the house (bathrooms and furniture-wise) with a white sheet. This helped in two ways. One, it cuts out all reflections that might spook you. New houses have lots of sounds and can cause sensory overload. Eliminating reflections will help ease you through that. No worries about scaring yourself when you catch sight of your morning hair in the mirror. No cats to run by a glass door at night and make you think a wild animal is prowling on your patio. No catching movement from the corner of your eye and trying to calm down long enough to realize it’s just yourself walking past a mirrored vanity. The other reason this is a good thing is that mirrors can be used as doorways. Covering all those mirrors for three days will close any possible entry points for wayward spirits. It eliminates some of the bumps in the night.

The second thing I did is one of those Pagan kinda things. Trust me on this one. I used sage and salt to seal the house off from any negative energies or spirits. This is how this works. From the main door you use to enter the house, light the end of a sage stick so it smokes and go left (counterclockwise). Wave the sage around all the entryways, doors and windows. Say aloud: All negative energies are released from this space; this house is now mine and negative spirits are not welcome here; only light and love are allowed in my space. Make your way all through the house until you come back to that main door. Now take a box of salt and go in the same direction, sprinkling salt across the thresholds of any and all outside doors and in each of the four outermost corners of your house. Important*, leave the main doorway open or open the window to the screen if it has one. This allows any negative energy a path to leave by as you go through the house. And salt the main doorway last. Close the door and leave for at least fifteen minutes so the house can calm down. This also helps rid the house of bumps in the night.

Next, get some nightlights. The first two weeks in the house I slept with lights on in both bathrooms and my bedroom door open. It’s a bit much. Especially if you like to sleep in a really dark room. So get some inexpensive nightlights. I found some cute ones at the local dollar store. The change from fully lit room across the hall to having a soft blue glow in the other rooms took a few nights to get used to, but I slept much better.

Spread your stuff all around the house. This may sound odd but keep in mind I had almost a house full of stuff crammed into one room. Unpack, open boxes, hang pictures, spread out through your space and put something you’ve touched in every room. This helps put your own energy in the space. Your own positive energy will circulate throughout the house. You’ll feel more relaxed with your stuff around you.

Invite people over. Call your family and friends. Have people come over for dinner, even if it’s just take-out from the taco place down the street. Fill your space with people you care about, laughter, happy sounds. This helps build up positive energy in your space.

Lastly, stop making assumptions. Every noise is not a serial killer clown breaking in to kill you. Go ahead and get up to investigate. But learn the sounds of the heat or air conditioning kicking off and on, the pool pump, the ice maker, traffic patterns, the neighbor’s dog, the plumbing. And yes, it’s okay to laugh at yourself when you get jumpy. I scared myself half to death the first night in the house. I hadn’t had a chance to salt/sage or to cover anything. I was seeing a reflection in the stove door from three rooms away when the air kicked on. I jumped out of my skin. This was after fighting of Psycho flashbacks while I took a shower. Alone. After dark.

Go ahead and laugh. I did.

The soul of an artist

images (4)I found a picture today in my Facebook feed that made me stop scrolling. Not this first pic. He’s further down the page. It was a photo of one of my favorite musicians and it got me thinking.

There’s a lot of talk about separating the art from the artist when we find out one of our idols from stage, screen, or airwave has different views on some topic than we do. Those of you up in arms about Ender’s Game and Orson Scott Card know what I’m talking about. The truth is that each of us is entitled to our own opinions on politics, religion, sex, birth control, gender equality, all of these and more.

As fans, we do need to separate the art from the artist sometimes. Each song/book/painting/movie touches each of us in a unique way that only we understand. What we have to remember is that it happens for the artist, too.

I’m particularly into music. It feeds my writing ideas, both fiction and nonfiction. Sometimes it’s the phrasing of lyrics. Other songs it’s the feel of the music itself. And sometimes you find an artist that you just can’t get enough of. Everything they touch turns to gold.  I have been addicted to music since I was a kid listening to my dad on the radio. Dad would quiz me on artist and title when we were in the car with the music on. I love everything from Albert King to Rob Zombie and back around twice more.davegrohl

Of all the artists I’ve found in my 42 years, Dave Grohl is one of my all-time favorites. He has an appreciation for the music that more musicians need to develop. His love of music is so profound that he bought the sound board from the Sound City Studio to preserve the history captured in all those miles of wire.

Grohl personifies what music does to the soul. Watch the video for Pretender by his band Foo Fighters and you’ll see what I mean. Many of the bands videos include cheesy costumes and campy themes behind deep, heavy grinding rock beats. But Pretender starts slow, just a voice and a microphone. Then Hell breaks lose. Pretender has both those moments of intense quiet and raging, balls-to-the-wall energy that drags you through the song at mach 3 with your hair on fire.

Watch not just Grohl but the entire band in that video. The song would be intense even of there wasn’t a riot squad involved. That intensity is evident in everything Dave Grohl does. Sometimes it’s just under the surface, others it breaks free. It is always glorious.

Since learning to play guitar at age 12, he has become one with the music and its power. That’s the point where the artist is so connected to the art they become inseparable. When you listen to an artist of that caliber, it sets your soul on fire.

 

 

 

One more thing…

Several people helped participate in my first Rock Blog Tour.  Much thanks to Whitney Coble, Tim Marquitz, Kristyn Phipps, Glenn Walker, Robin Renee, and Jennifer Cardonick Walker.  All of these wonderful people helped boost the signal for the band Skinn Jakkitt.  The band is keeping busy.  They have a CD trailer now airing on several satellite TV channels, but I have it for you here: 

The guys are getting ready for their tour that begins in Chicago in February.  Rock blogger Hellion Rocks had a round table discussion with members of Skinn Jakkit, Death Rattle, The Black Cross Brotherhood, Final Curse and Stevil Helmer of Helmer Management.

Check out the discussion in its entirety here:  Hellion Rocks.  You can find Skinn Jakkitt at the following venues:  

Jan 18th @ The Sand Shack, North Charleston, SC – The Helmer Management Show

Jan 25th @ The Wizard Saloon, Hickory NC, with Bonz from Stuck Mojo, and  Nefarious

Feb 7th Knoxville Tn tentative

Feb 8th @  Bada Brew, Chicago, Illinois with Final Curse and more.

Feb 15 @ St Valentines Massecre in Charleston, WV with Black Cross Brotherhood and Final Curse

March 29 @ The Drunk Horse Pub, Fayetteville, NC

June 21 @ Main City Cellar, Hickory, NC, for the Hillbilly Beardsman Club’s beard competition

 

The Rock Blog Tour was a lot of fun and I hope to do it again soon.  Who knows what music you’ll see here next?

 

 

 

Rock Blog Tour presents Skinn Jakkitt

bed13cb4962672dc2bab365a2f983a43I am very happy to be today’s stop on the Rock Blog Tour.  I have seen several shows with Skinn Jakkit and they are a hard rocking band with a lot of energy.  Their self-titled CD went live on November 5 and covers a range of topics in some really interesting, relevant, and sometimes surprising lyrics.  You can find the CD on Amazon, iTunes, Tate Publishing, and ReverbNation.  You can also find the guys on Facebook  and at their SkinnJakkit page.

Skinn Jakkit is Greg Stephens on vocals, Barry Sams at lead guitar, Shane Farris on rhythm guitar, Jeff Hayworth at bass, and Jeff “Pup” Price pounding the drums.  I had the chance to ask the guys a few questions…

 

Describe your writing process. Is it lyrics first or does a particular melody catch your attention?

 Jeff Price: Melody First

Barry Sams: A cool riff usually sparks the writing process. Me, Shane or Hayworth will toss around a few notes till one of us has a spark that will ignite a song.

Greg Stephens: Barry and Shane are the masters of the riff. They usually jam and I start trying to formulate a lyric pattern. Sometimes I have some lyrics but most of the time I write them at the same time.

 

Who are your musical influences?

Barry Sams:   We have the late 70’s- 90’s metal influences, I myself prefer bands like Fear Factory, All That Remains and GZR.

Jeff Price:  Tesla, Stryper, Metallica

Greg Stephens:  My influences are all over the board. I love Iron Maiden, Clutch, COC, Alice In Chains and Megadeth. New bands I love Eye Empire and Kill Devil Hill.  Guilty pleasure would be Journey.

 

Who would you most like to perform with?

 Barry Sams:  At this point Fear Factory or Five Finger Death Punch.

Jeff Price:  Shinedown

Greg Stephens: Id say Clutch, Megadeth or hell I said it Metallica.

 

What are your favorite and least favorite songs to perform?

Barry Sams:  Favorite song to perform is a new one we wrote “Cover Story” and       then “Farther” off the album. Least favorite is none of the above 🙂

Jeff Price:  Shame 🙂 / End of the Line 😦

Greg Stephens:  Id favorite is a tie with Shame the brand new one and Change. Least I really don’t have any.

Jeff Hayworth:  favorite any of ours ,/ least favorite anyone else’s. (covers)

 

Tell us about your experience shooting the video for Epiphany.img_22161_005

Jeff Price:  Difficult, wasn’t able to have much volume to the playback so it made it hard for me, the drummer to really show much energy or aggression in my playing. Still was a great experience.

Barry Sams:  You have to be still, then more energy, then don’t look at the camera, then the cops get called, then break, then change clothes, more pictures. Its cool I like it!!

Greg Stephens:  It was a very overcast day. Industrial park, old steel mill. In the shadows of downtown. Had people driving by and watching. Got the cops called on us for noise. Funny enough we had a hard time hearing the music. Lol, the noisy one was Mr. Price. Trouble maker. We had a scene that is only briefly in the video where I had to walk down this fence line while all the band members were scattered along the fence line. I walked slooooooow at their orders we did it a few times. Price says man there is a bag at my feet and something stinks. We go look and it’s a dead animal. Ewwwwww true story.

 

Let’s talk tour riders: what is the one thing you MUST have when on the road?

 Jeff Price:  Peace Tea, BBQ or Hot Pork rinds, Granola bars

Barry Sams:  Nothing but the essentials for the road. Well…maybe Diet Sundrop.

Greg Stephens:  Water, Juice, Fruit and some Cheerwine as a special

 

Any road stories you can share without incriminating anyone?

Barry Sams:  Scaring Price into thinking he was late for the plane. Being laid over in Chicago for 9 hours. Hayworth scaring the hell out of convenience store patrons hollering WHAT THE F*%K!!!  [He’s over 6′ tall.  Would scare me!]

Shane Farris: ( The Quiet One)  Yeah I would agree with the WTF story.

Jeff Price:  Getting woke up abruptly while sleeping on a bench while waiting on the flight to leave for Oklahoma.

Greg Stephens:  Welllll, we pull a lot of pranks and Price is a common target but the best prank was one I Orchestrated in the studio on Barry.  Barry took his prized “never take it off the wall don’t even look at it” Schecter guitar to OKC to record and do the video.  I immediately started to scheme.  He is laying down scratch tracks for Price to do his drum tracks and he has to go to the restroom.  I get Shane to be lookout and to let me know when Barry is coming, I have Price lay in the floor and he wraps Barry’s guitar chord around his leg.  I litterally take about 5 mins to carefully lay the guitar down on the floor.  Shane gives me the high sign and I kick over an empty guitar case and Price starts with the “OOOOOooo Ooooo.”  The look on Barry’s face was priceless, if you will.  He is gritting his teeth taking it all in.  After about 3 or 4 mins he’s like “are you ok” with gritted teeth.  “Because if you are I’m gonna kill you.  Of all the things to happen,  you and your big clumsy feet.”  “Hey Barry” I’m pointing to the guitar case.   “I swear I should have never brought it.”   “Hey Barry,” the case. “You are so damn destructive.”  Finally I drop the case again. “You sorry Son Ofa”…and he walks out of the room!

 

Sounds like these guys are as much fun off stage as they are on stage.  They are based out of the Hickory, NC area but are about to start touring to promote their CD.  Be sure to check them out!  The next stop on the Rock blog Tour is on Thanksgiving, November 28 at Kristyn Phipps blog.  Here is the video for Epiphany to whet your appetite:

 

 

 

Guest Blog by Glenn Walker: Heroes With a Darker Edge

Back in the day, you knew who the heroes were and who the villains were.  Sometimes it was a matter of just wearing black, or wearing white.  Indeed, in those days, the difference between being a hero and a villain was very black and white.  There were no shades of grey, you were either one or the other.  Things have changed.  Let’s take a look at the summer blockbusters in the theaters this year, let’s look at the heroes of 2013.

In Star Trek Into Darkness, we are presented with the new young Captain Kirk’s first real foray against evil, or are we?  Kirk, traditionally, has never made the right decisions, but following his rank and occupation, he is decisive.  Once he puts foot to path, he follows through, and so in the end makes sure lives are saved, no matter the cost.  This new young Kirk (long story short, new continuity, same names and characters, different circumstances, smart writing to free oneself of the chains of continuity) is a dumbass, who makes fundamentally bad decisions and learns the hard way.  Unlike the original version, he hopes he’s right as opposed to actually being right.

The antagonist is this timeline’s Khan, who is much different from the original, yet much the same.  A psychopath who does good is still a psychopath.  There’s no changing that, yet, it does impose those shades of grey on both Kirk and Khan.  I guess it’s a good thing that Spock takes the majority of the action in this one.

The fact that there is no longer black and white however is not all that new, especially in the heroic genre.  Iron Man is flawed from the get go.  He is one of the bad guys.  As an industrialist, futurist, and weapons dealer, Tony Stark has brought much death to the world.  Any grey goes out the window however when in Iron Man Three, he faces a foe so black and evil, there is no mistaking it.  If only Iron Man were a more straight forward white hat.

So we turn to the first and greatest of the superheroes, who also had a movie out a few weeks back, the big blue boy scout – Superman.  He represents truth, justice, and the American way, no matter how politically incorrect that might be these days.  His origin is part Moses, part Jesus, and yes, even part John Carter of Mars.  He is the guy we think of when we think ‘superhero.’  If there are any rules of black and white, good and evil, it should be in his latest film, Man of Steel, right?  Don’t bet the farm, Martha.

At the helm of the film is Christopher Nolan, a man best known with his last movie trilogy in which he made Batman darker, as if that was even possible.  Nolan brings to Superman a new kind of General Zod, one that if you watch and listen carefully is perhaps the most dangerous type of villain, and shade of grey.  He is the villain who thinks what he is doing is right.  No longer is Zod simply after vengeance on the heir of his jailer, or the conquest of some backwater planet – this Zod has been mandated with the task of saving the future of the entire Kryptonian race.

Seriously, if you’re Superman, how do you fight that?  How the hell do you even argue against it?  And if that’s not conflicted enough, there’s Superman’s father – no, not Ruussell Crowe as Jor-El, who crazily has more chemistry with Amy Adams’ Lois Lane than Henry Cavill’s Superman – but Kevin Costner’s Jonathan Kent.  This Jonathan suggests Clark not act and let his schoolmates die in a bus accident, and then also impels his son not to save his own life.  Pa Kent’s greatest lesson in this new world is paranoia and fear, rather than truth, justice and American way.

Perhaps it is this background that allows Superman only to act once the entire planet is in peril from General Zod’s superior forces, and then only when his momma is threatened directly.  This is a hero?  Hold on, folks, it gets worse, and if you haven’t had your spoilers helmet on yet, get it ready.

After punching each other through CGI scene after CGI scene of painful 9-11 conjuring disaster porn, finally Zod starts to take his wrath out on innocent bystanders directly, attempting to heat-vision a family in a train station.  Superman does the only thing the writers (I’m looking right at you, Nolan, and David Goyer) can think of at that point, he murders Zod.  It’s not unprecedented, it’s happened in the comics, but even there it was considered the darkest moment in the character’s history.

Excuse me while I soapbox for a moment.  Superman would have found another way to stop Zod, without resorting to murder.  He would have found another way – that’s why he’s Superman!  Soapbox mode off.

Rounding out this summer of heroes with a darker edge is one that should never have been used in this context – The Lone Ranger.  Let’s not even talk about what a complete dumbass move it was to put the bigger star in the sidekick role and have him steal the film with his moronic shenanigans.  The Lone Ranger is
a character of, well, high moral character.  He is more role model than hero.  He does what’s right, and while he has guns, he has never killed anyone, and here Disney has gone and Superman-ized him.

This new Lone Ranger is not bright, not heroic, not the least bit a role model, and firmly in the shadow of a mockery of his sidekick Tonto in this violent flick.  I hope you Johnny Depp fans got your fill, because the Lone Ranger fans left the theater choking and starving.  All I can say in this case is if Disney hated the source material so much, why did they remake it?

In the summer of 2013, it seems no hero is safe from the internal darkness that permeates pop culture.  I hope that changes.  Superman and the Lone Ranger have no reason to be dark.  And if things are so dark, shouldn’t we have real heroes and role models to look up to, to show us the light?  Just my opinion.

Copyright 2013 Glenn Walker

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Glenn Walker’s Heroes blog is also found in the August 2013 issue of Voluted Tales eZine.  You can find all the Walker you can handle and then so here:

Summer Time

Yes, August is here.  It’s hot and muggy in North Carolina.  I keep thinking about moving North to a cooler climate but then I remember that I don’t like being cold, either.  There is a lot going on for me at the moment.

School is going well.  I haven’t had any thoughts of dropping out so I’m doing good.

I have more craft/crochet projects than I can shake a hook at.  I’ll post pics of the beards when I have more finished.

In case you didn’t know, I am now managing editor at Voluted Tales Magazine.  It’s an e-zine featuring all things speculative fiction.  We have stories as well as interviews, reviews and articles on the industry and everyone involved.  I have to write my first editorial as the new editor for this month’s issue.  For once, I think I may be speechless.  I have no idea yet what I’m going to say.  Fun!

My in-person writing group is going well, also.  Hickory Writer’s Society is starting to gain new members with a wider writing background.  I’m very excited for the group.  We did have some people attempt the July Camp NaNoWriMo.  November will be here soon and I’m sure we will go all out for it again this year.

The day job is still going along swimmingly as well.  That’s about it for now.  I need a vacation. 😉

What are YOU up to?