This style of shirt isn’t exactly my taste but there’s something oddly compelling about it. Deface the back of any boring T-shirt into a badass skull using these simple instructions. Made even simpler? Trace the pattern with a marker and cut it out! Added ventilation is an extra bonus!
Micro-funding of niche projects like creepy video games just warms my heart. Amp up that warmth when the project is Creative Commons licensed and even available for linux. So dig “Haunts” a turn-based haunted house game currently soliciting funds for finishing on Kickstarter. Every $5 gets a download code for the game; larger donations get more codes plus the typical silly perks. The game itself looks fun with a style reminiscent of Gorey. Readers of The DailyNightmare might note that players can select portraying the human adventurers who discover the house OR the creepy denizens who would rather just be left alone.
The company, Mob Rules Games, operates with a radically transparent business model and is documenting the development of the game rather publically with lots of behind the scenes bits and pieces. To be brutally frank, it’s good to know that they have a business model since some of the projects on micro-funding sites seem devised without a speck of realistic financial savvy. Since Haunts has been in development for several months already, they appear to be on track to ship an actual product. Donations for these kind of projects work out to be more pre-orders than risky venture capital investments.
So send ‘em a few bucks. $5 is barely what a double-mocha-cappu-frappa coffee costs these days.
It’s official: this game still rocks. When I first dl’ed it a few weeks ago, I half expected “Zombies, Run” to be a clever idea that didn’t quite deliver more than a one hit spin on exercise motivation. And that was going to be fine with me. I already knew I needed to get more exercise and if “Zombies, Run” just gave me the initial kick to get started, it would have done enough.
It’s done more. The little app has maintained my interest and actually spurred me to exercise longer and more frequently than I’d originally planned. I planned to be doing a “mission” that is 30:00 or so three times a week. Last week for instance, I exerecised six times. I’m also exercising for longer than my original plan. Today, I’m recovering from 46:00 minutes.
In particular the app helps in two key areas. The first problem area for me is that first 5 minutes. The drudgery is in full effect while none of the endorphins have kicked in. Pre-Zombies, this was a time when I frequently would stop. Now there is a thread of narrative interest that keeps me htting the pedals. (OK, so I “cheat” — I’m using an indoor stationary bike instead of actual running.) The other problem area occurs at the end of the workout. There’s an option in the app to select workouts of about 30 minutes or about an hour. 30 minutes are getting a bit too easy for me and though there’s a clear sense of closure when the “mission” in complete, the app switches seamlessly into “radio mode” where I can continue running while listening to DJs from my beloved zombie-ridden town. And most important, I can continue to gather supplies for this beleaguered encampment. That supply-gathering aspect is the game part of the app. Every tin of food or discarded mobile phone that I retrieve helps contribute to my town’s vitality.
And there continues to be some nice serendipitous corelations between the songs in my playlist and the zombie menace. A few that come to mind are:
• “Those are People who Died” by Jim Carroll
• “Be My Frankenstein” by Otis Taylor (the refrain is “Just wanna live another day”)
• “Can’t Get You Out of my Head” by Kylie Minogue (a guilty pleasure — don’t judge me! — but given the zombie context I imagine the undead trying to crack into ones skull to feast on the goo inside.)
• “Crawling from the Wreckage” by Dave Edmunds (especially for the beginning where “Runner 5″ emerges from a crashed helicopter)
• “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” by Johnny Cash (the zombie tie-in is that it was used in the remake of “Dawn of the Dead” as the opening credit sequence, as I recall.)
• “It’s the End of the World as We Know it” by R.E.M.
• “Nemesis” by Shreikback
• “Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden
• “Survivalism” by Nine Inch Nails
If I keep this up, I’ll be ready for 5K season in no time. And I’ll have honed a survival skill for the zombie apocalypse.
(Male, 30′s) I was dragged down a flight of wooden stairs. My shoes made a thump thump thump as they hit each stair, like a drum. I was supported somehow under both arms but the stairs were too narrow to have someone walking on either side. When I realized where I was, I was in my basement, or at least what what supposed to be the basement of my house. We’ve just finished remodeling it into a kind of rec room but this wasn’t cozy. It was more like a workshop, one that had been turned into a torture chamber.
I stood on top of a small box, like a milk crate. I think I may have been tied. Underneath my throat was a hacksaw blade. I think the idea was that if I relaxed, it would start to cut into my throat.
But as I “woke up” in the dream, the blade was less tight. I think I was supposed to be forced to stand on my tip toes, but I was able to stand flat footed.
My torturer turned to look at me. I was supposed to recognize him, I had that sense, but he was no one I knew. I told him that I’d tell him whatever he wanted to know. He said he knew that was true. But that didn’t seem to be of interest. He was more afraid that I’d say what I already knew, that I already knew some horrible secret that shouldn’t be revealed.
I let my mind wander so as not to add to the torture. I knew this wasn’t the first day that I’d faced him. But was it the second? The third? I tried to come up with a technique to remember, to keep myself from going crazy. I looked at the walls. They were covered in shelves of junk. There were two metal cans, like one would use for paint. I told myself to remember that those two cans meant it was the second day or the second session. The next time I was brought before him, I’d look for three of a kind. I kept focused on that idea. The knots around me gradually grew looser.
Eventually, I was just in my bed, awake.
I was on vacation somewhere at a retreat center in a rural setting during off-peak season. There may have only been one or two other people there. Simple setting, plain rooms but generally quiet. Except a construction team was building a new parking lot in the back of the building on what used to be a swamp. It wasn’t going well. There was angry yelling, machinery grinding and squealing then silence. The team had discovered something that was supposed to stay buried. The subcontractors who were supposed to fill in the swamp and raise the grade to where it could get asphalt had sunken a half dozen or so 55 gallon drums into the still mucky wet soil. Water or some liquid oozed all around these drums that gave off an oily, rainbow colored sheen. The people who drank from wells fed by this swamp might all have been poisoned.
That would explain all the birth defects that had been occurring in the area… Somehow I knew that there’d been birth defects even though I was just vacationing in the area.
It was getting dark but word spread fast about the poison. Rumors spread about possible weird side effects. Not quite zombies but people out of control, like feral beasts. I decided to turn off all the lights and brave it through the night rather than be trapped out on unfamiliar dirt roads in the dark.
At some point I heard the sound of music. Next door to the retreat center where I stayed was some kind of music camp. They were practicing. I went over to warn them, in case they hadn’t heard that crazed ex-humans were on their way. It was a music camp for orchestra players roughly aged 8 or so. They played pretty well for their age, not concert quality but not painfully bad. There were less than a half dozen adults. “The children have been practicing for weeks and since martial law has been declared, we don’t know when they’ll be able to play their instruments again. We wanted to let them have one last concert before they put their instruments down, possibly forever.” I couldn’t convince them of the danger they were putting themselves in. And in fact, they convinced me to stay for the concert. There were all sorts of foods, intricate pastries and hard boiled eggs. I didn’t know when I’d get to eat again, what with the mass of crazies headed our way.
The music was pleasant enough but in the middle of the first piece, one of the adults stands up. He’s clearly gone crazy if for no other reason than he’s got a full beard — I remember thinking that in the dream! He must be crazy because he has a full beard, which is odd because I have whiskers myself– He’s foaming at the mouth and his hair is frazzled. He pulls out a gun and aims it at one of the other adults. Bam! He shoots her in the heart and she’s dead. He aims again. Bam! Another adult shot dead right through the heart. The third bullet was meant for me but I simply decided that I was not going to be shot. Time slowed greatly. I leaped from my chair, grabbed a broom handle and swatted the gun from the lunatic’s hand.
At that instant I woke up, my heart just racing.
(Male, 20′s) I came home one night, around twilight. The actual house resembled the house that belonged to my grandmother, by the way. But there was something wrong, really wrong. The entire first floor of the building had been ripped apart, pretty much torn down to studs. There were people I didn’t know living there. They were frantic and quite suspicious of me at least at first. It was difficult to explain to them that I actually lived there, that this was my house.
Evidentally they lived there too, somewhere upstairs. I asked what happened. Zombies attacked and started tearing off the siding and drywall. It was like the zombies were cracking the shell of a peanut in order to eat what was inside. But then, evidently the zombies wandered off when dawn came.
The inhabitants of the building were insane with fear because they thought the zombies would return because it was nearing dark. They were useless. I tried to get them to work, to re-arrange some of the rubble into a small defendable structure but they were shell shock, totally gone.
I picked up a piece of metal and stapled it to a joist. There, I thought, at least I’ve started.
Elsa and I attended Penguincon 2012, that glorious celebration of Midwestern weird ingenuity. The name Penguincon might suggest it’s only for Linux nerds and though there is a strong track of programming for the silicon-inclined, Penguincon extends the notion of “open-source” deep into culture at large. Fair warning, culture at large. Penguincon overflowed with folks who never listened when someone told them “Don’t try that. It’s simply impossible.” Granted, there was hardly a speck of “horror” in the whole place, Elsa and the Good Doktor here both felt at home in this gathering of eccentric experimentation. These mad scientists know how to have a good time. There were too many wonders in the wunderkammer to list but three come to mind:
• John Scalzi was the writing guest of honor and his reading with Saladin Ahmed did not disappoint. I know Scalzi’s work mostly through his blog, Whatever which I read daily even though science fiction ain’t normally my thang. Scalzi was witty and warm, telling insider stories about the stories as he read from his latest book Redshirts, supplemented by the first three *sentences* of his unexpectedly hit story, “Shadow War of the Night Dragons.” Please note the date of its original publication. Saladin Ahmed was a gem not to be overlooked. His debut novel Throne of the Cresent Moon is a tale of ghul-hunting and royal power struggles in a fantastic medieval middle eastern setting. I’m reading it now and was glad to get my copy signed. Ahmed knows the tropes of fantasy fiction well enough to present a deeply fresh world populated by the kinds of characters that don’t often appear in genre literature. He’s a writer who knows who he is and tells stories that spring from a place deeper than just his imagination. Plus he’s a Midwestern boy. As at any con, Scalzi and Ahmed appeared on panels with other not-to-be overlooked authors like Jim C. Hines and Ferret Steinmetz.
• Eating is good. Sure there was the ConSuite and the Hack of Honor appearance of OpenSoda but the comestibles didn’t stop there. I sampled a chocolate laced with coconut rum and Elsa learned the mysteries of making melon caviar. The sad truth is that some experiments fail and the most glorious failure was something I tasted: cheese corn flavored ice cream. It was a near miss in my estimation however, a bit too salty. More conventionally successful flavors I tried were chai tea, chocolate, Dr. Pepper. Perhaps I should mention that the ice cream was made with food grade liquid nitrogen that spewed a cascade of roiling clouds as it darned near instantaneously froze the concoction.
• We brought home a few trinkets and baubles from the dealer room as well: a book by Cat Valente, a crystal ball for the Red Witch, a portrait of that other Doctor laser-engraved into a wood plaque by the folks AllHandsActive, a local MakerSpace… Elsa bought an exquisite striped corset from Ties that Bynde, clearly the best purchase. The charming and indulgent proprietress let her try on several styles.
It was our first time at PenguinCon and neither Elsa nor I knew what to expect. What did we encounter? Wonders beyond belief.