My Chemical Romance, April 28th

Back in 1994, I saw Helmet at Bogart’s in Cincinnati.  It was my first club show.  Prior to that, I’d only seen concerts in arenas and amphitheaters.  I was unprepared for just how incredible being stuck in a compressed sea of humanity can be when a kick ass rock band is playing.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I dislike people and tight spaces in almost equal measure, but even I can ignore lackluster conditions for a couple of hours so I can experience a great show.

Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater in Austin is a lot like Bogart’s.  It might be an outdoor venue, but it’s not much bigger than that space on Short Vine.  It does have the added bonus of barbeque, however, and the porta-lets are somehow cleaner than Bogart’s underground bathrooms.  I figured it would be the perfect venue to see a band like My Chem.  I was right.

Despite the proliferation of kids and teenagers (worse than people, not quite as bad as college students), it was one of the best shows I’ve seen in years. From the moment My Chem took the stage, they brought a high level of energy that got the entire venue shaking.  Bodies bounced, jostled, and swayed through the entire set.

I’ve seen My Chem three times in the past year, and not once did they appear to enjoy themselves as much as they did in Austin.  Maybe it was the crowd or the break from arenas.  Whatever the cause, there was a joy there I hadn’t seen before.  From bringing out the road crew to provide harmonica and cowbell support on “Teenagers” to the epic build at the beginning of “You Know What They Do to Guys like Us in Prison,” the show was sprinkled with more great rock moments than 1978.  Even without the full scale production of an arena show, My Chem made their set feel something close to mythic.

I spotted a ton of parents at the show, and I think that’s a good thing.  I’m sure it’s safer than dumping their kids off at a venue and hoping for the best, and I’m glad they’re taking an interest in their children.  I couldn’t help but wonder, however, what must have been going through their heads during the aforementioned build, when Gerard Way bent himself over the drum riser and delivered a dramatic presentation of a prison rape.  Did any kids receive a stern talking to post-show?  I hope not.  If nothing else, Way is pretty enough to forgive. 

In Austin, With Ghosts

Saturday night, Shawna and I ventured downtown to check out one of the Austin Ghost Tours.  I am happy to report that the 90 minutes we spent on this tour of the Capitol District was fun, educational, at times more than a little creepy.

In order to clarify, the Capitol District Ghost Tour isn’t a bunch of folks hiding out in buildings with spectrographs and other gadgets, hoping against hope they might take pictures of “orbs” or record “activity.”  Instead, it’s a walking tour that explores the history of Austin, or more to the point the city’s underbelly, the darker facets you don’t normally hear about when folks speak of The Live Music Capital of the World (with a noise ordinance and a no-smoking law).  And really, when just about every downtown bar east of Congress Avenue resides in a building more than 100 years old, who wouldn’t expect some interesting history?

Some of the tour’s history lessons (particularly the abandoned building that used to house the Hard Rock) provided more than a little chill.  Whether this is due to actual history or the skill of our tour guide Monica is up in the air, but I can tell you Shawna and I had a great time.  I’m sure in the future we’ll return to take one of the group’s other tours.

Scratching at my brain fever

Recently, I’ve found myself spending a lot of time wondering why I do the things I do, why I live my life the way I live it. As I approach one month of sobriety (and wonder why I didn’t celebrate one month several years ago), I turn these thoughts over more and more.  There are questions I need to answer, and it’s about time I got my head out of my ass and started answering.

I’ve never claimed to be normal.  I’m just a guy, but I’m screwed up just like every other human out there.  I really want to get to the bottom of my various quirks, though.  I want to know why I freak out if I overcook a chicken breast the slightest bit.  I want to know why not finding a fajita marinade at Whole Foods ruined my entire Sunday.  I want to know why I hate myself everytime I buy something for my own entertainment.

Every now and then, I wonder why I hate going outside, why I feel a sense of doom everytime Shawna says, “It sure is a nice day to go out and do something!”  But I don’t want to go outside!  Why can’t I stay in and write?  Or sleep?  Or just not be outside?  It’s so outside-ish out there!  It’s horrible!

I swear, most of the time it feels like my brain’s on fire, like it’s itching and out of control and I have to do something about it.  But I can’t do anything.  I can only sit perfectly still and hate myself for not doing something!

Couple this with my need to write, and you have a recipe for disaster.  A day of not reaching my desired word count?  Disaster.  The suspicion I’m churning out crap?  Depression.  A friend of mine sells a story, a book, a comic, or a movie?  I’m happy for them, but I feel like a failure.  What have I done lately?  Why am I falling behind?

And the funny thing is, I’m having a great year.  Once I’m allowed to make announcements, it’s going to be incredible.  This is supposed to be my ignition year, and I’m scratching at my brain trying to figure out why I feel so pathetic half the time.

So my project for the rest of the year, in addition to all the writing and home stuff I’m determined to do, is to get my head screwed on straight.  I need to become functional.  Something close to normal.

And I need to stop scratching at my brain, wondering why it’s on fire.

Starting a New Week

Through some sort of miracle, I managed to survive a weekend that involved two birthdays, a wedding in West Texas, and my struggle to remain sober in the face of 2000 or so drunk friends.  Okay, so maybe there wasn’t so much a struggle as a decision to go to bed four hours before everybody else.  Either way, I survived.

So now it’s Monday, and work has begun once again.

This week, I have to continue entering changes into the second draft of the latest novel.  I have to write a synopsis of said novel and work on a cover letter.  I have a new short story to finish.  Then, I have to outline the second half of a new novel.  I also need to mail out copies of A Trip to Rundberg that I’ve owed people for a long time.


In other news (well, actually it’s non-news, as I’m not allowed to tell you about it yet), I should be receiving an introduction this week from one of my favorite writers.  This is for a book I can’t wait to tell you about, but sadly waiting is all I can do right now.  What I can say is that it should be out in August.  It will be my first prose book, and I’m super proud of it.  I’ll have more news once I’m allowed to give it to you.

Stay tuned.

Will I be attending the Austin City Limits Festival?

The ACL lineup was announced this morning.  That means it’s that time of year for me to go through said lineup and decide if I want to go to the festival.

Last year was the first time I’ve wanted to attend ACL.  The lineup was great.  See, at $170 for a pass, I need at least 17 bands I want to see in order for the ticket price to be worth it.  Otherwise, I’m wasting money.

So, let’s go through the lineup, see who I’m intersted in watching, and find out if I’m shelling out the cash or not.


1. Foo Fighters
Saw them in both a small club and an arena.  Their last two records bored the crap out of me.  Pass.

2. Robert Plant and Allison Kraus
Is it Led Zeppelin?  No.  Pass.

3. Beck
Saw him at Lollapalooza back in 1994 or 1995.  Great show.  I’d see this one.

Headliner Count: 1


1. John Fogerty
2. The Raconteurs
3.The Mars Volta
4. Silversun Pickups
5. Gnarls Barkley

And that’s it.  My total comes to seven bands, ten below my goal.  It appears I’ll be saving $170 this year.

I should have bought a SXSW wristband.

I’d love to be a patron…

Yesterday, I hopped in the car with Shawna and her parents and journeyed downtown for the Austin Fine Arts Fair.  I wasn’t quite ready for such an event.  Almost a mile of booths filled with fine art threatened to overwhelm me.  It threatened to beat my bank account to death.

In the space of just over two hours, I found two originals I would love to own.  Sadly, since each was listed at $2700, they were about thirty miles outside my price range.  I did, however, buy smaller prints off of both artists…

Gabe Leonard

Roger Disney

I would love to have the disposable income needed to buy beautiful, original artwork.  The odds of it ever happening are slim, but I suppose there are worse goals out there.

“Captain Jinkies” Available for free!

Happy Monday, friends and neighbors!  It is with great pleasure that I tell you my short story “Captain Jinkies” is now available in the latest online edition of Dark Recesses Press.

“Jinkies” is my evil clown story.  I think just about every horror writer has an evil clown story up their sleeve.  I tried to do something fun and more than a little off the wall with mine.  I hope you enjoy it.  I’m especially proud of this appearance, as it marks the first time I’ve made the cover of a mag and been the lead story.

So click right here and read “Captain Jinkies!”


I left World Horror early and still managed to come down with some horrible, lung-rattling, chill-producing, nasal passage-destroying flu-type thing.  If I survive, I’ll write more in a week or so.  If not, it was awesome knowing ya.