Gout! Gout! That’s what it’s about!

So . . . yeah, it’s been a loooong time since my last update. And though there might appear to be some fairly obvious reasons for my absence, up to and including (a) I’ve just been really, you know, slammed with, like, life and stuff, or (b) the whole social media/self promotion shebang doesn’t come naturally to me, so I let it slide in spite of the fact that I actually have (sort of? maybe?) interesting stuff to offer . . . that’s not it at all.

My absence from this site can easily be explained. I have, believe it or not, been on a journey through time and space to visit the 18th century, where I have acquired a powdered wig, a taste for blood pudding, and gout.

One of these claims is, in fact, true.

Yes: I have gout.

GOUT.

I bet you didn’t know anyone in the 21st century still got gout. It’s one of those afflictions you read about in history books, as in, “Oh, sure, sure, Martin Van Buren (or whomever) had terrible gout,” all the while hoping no one would challenge you to explain exactly what gout is. Personally, I had gout up there with rickets and scurvy among ailments I never imagined I would suffer. But suffering I am.

(BTW: if you don’t know what gout is, it’s an inflammation of the joints, usually manifesting in and around the big toe. In layman’s terms, it feels like someone smashed my right foot with a sledgehammer. It’s been a day of hopping about on one foot and cursing profligately.)

Turns out my grandfather was regularly afflicted with the gout, making this yet another token of my glorious familial inheritance. I wish old Ed Cowan (yep, I”m his namesake) was around today so we could joke bitterly about gout’s street name–”the rich man’s malady”–which owes itself to the fact that, historically, only the wealthiest jerks, those who gorged on red meat and fine alcohol while the peasants ate gruel, were afflicted.

There were some righteous souls, however, who did not fit that mold! Those were the poor sonsofbitches who just had the wrong combination of genes, like we Cowans. I’d really like to see the look on my sharecropper grandfather’s face when we talked about suffering from the “rich man’s malady.” I imagine he’d say something along the lines of what I’m thinking right now:

Someone owes me a shit ton of money.

I would have attached a gross picture if there was a gross picture to be taken. Unfortunately, my foot is just a little swollen, nothing too flashy. The pain is deep inside, in the shape of what I’m sure are beautiful crystals formed by the accretion of uric acid in the joint behind my big toe. So, sorry, no pics. (Besides, you know the foot fetishist community has been after me for pictures of my gorgeous feet for years. Even in my afflicted state, I won’t give them the satisfaction. You will not pleasure yourselves to visions of my immaculate feet!)

Maybe it’s the drugs talking, but–

Wait. Before we go, I need to talk about the drugs. They’re serious shit. One of them has an ALL CAPS warning on the bottle stating that, basically, if you eat grapefruit while taking it, YOU WILL DIE. Luckily, I have the god-given sense not to eat grapefruit. But still. Gout medicine is no joke. Probably because rich people get the drugs they actually need. So I’m drafting on the bumper of the high and mighty for once. Huzzah!

–Ahem. Back to the message at hand. Maybe it’s the drugs talking, but I promise to actually update this website regularly in the future. And I’m hard at work, as always, on the next volume of Unfated. (Book Seven! Seven! Can you believe it?) Cheers, everyone, and thank your god or gods, sincerely or ironically, that you don’t have the rich man’s/two guys named Ed Cowans’ malady.

Unfated is here!

B1-3 coversToday it begins: Unfated, a serial epic I’ve been constructing for the better part of thirteen years. It tells the story of a world riven by the battle over human will. (One much like our own, at that.) Are we driven by Fate? Or are we free to make our own decisions?

In the world of Unfated, Fate is no abstraction; it’s a supernatural entity that guides most people from the moment of birth. A small faction of humanity, however, rejected this pact with Fate, choosing exile over submission. But are the Unfated any freer than those who consider themselves Blessed by Fate? As the stench of musket smoke fills the battlefields of this world, four characters, two from each side of this ancient divide, find themselves forced together to seek the answer to a timeless question:

Who plays god in a godless world? Man? Or Fate?

How can you know whether you’ll enjoy reading Unfated? Well, here’s a quick list for your perusal. (Because everyone loves lists, right?) If you like any of the following:

  • Game of Thrones
  • Murder mysteries
  • ’90s Britpop
  • Romances in which two people initially can’t stand each other but inevitably fall in love
  • H.P. Lovecraft
  • Steampunk
  • Post-apocalyptic wastelands
  • Friendly monsters
  • Women on top
  • Thomas Dolby
  • Indiana Jones-style romps through ancient ruins
  • Dragon meat
  • Frontier justice
  • Arguments over Fate vs. free will
  • Extreme body modification
  • Antiheroes
  • Moral ambiguity
  • Tales of unlikely companions thrown together to undertake incredible journeys

. . . Chances are you’ll dig Unfated.

And to find out what exactly I’m talking about when I call Unfated a “serial epic,” read on.

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The Horror. The Horror. An Inventory of Iniquity

thehorrorthehorrorIn October 2015 I decided to pick up a habit I’d tried out years ago but abandoned: watching a bunch of horror movies during All Hallows Month, then spilling my thoughts like so much viscera. I intend to do this again in 2016 and beyond. This post will serve as a roundup of links to the movies I’ve discussed. It will grow, year by year, until every nook and cranny of the horror universe has been plumbed.

NOTE: These aren’t spoiler-free reviews. (They’re not even reviews so much as a meandering inventory of opinions and anecdotes.) Which is to say, if you haven’t seen one of these movies and don’t want anything spoiled, might want to skip these pieces till you’ve watched said film.

Herewith, the list of movies, arranged alphabetically and citing the order in which I wrote about them plus the year each was released.

The Babadook (#5, 2014)
Dawn of the Dead (#8, 1978)
Demons (#2, 1985)
Friday the 13th, Part III (#1, 1982)
Halloween (#10, 1978)
Hard Rock Nightmare (#7, 1988)
Housebound (#9, 2014)
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (#3, 2010)
White Zombie (#6, 1932)
Zombeavers (#4, 2015)

The Horror. The Horror. The Final Round (of 2015): Halloween

halloween posterIt’s time to wrap up this October horror-thon by climbing aboard the mother ship: Halloween. I could probably write 20,000 words about this movie, but I’ll try to keep this coherent.

Let’s start with the historical record. Halloween was mostly jeered in its initial run. It was considered tawdry, exploitative trash. A cheap knockoff of Psycho. A tasteless, offensive exercise in vicarious sadism with no redeeming qualities. And atop those perceived deficiencies, critics slathered it with scorn for unleashing Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and all the other stalwarts of trashy horror cinema on the world.

That was the real sin, you see. These days, Halloween is widely acknowledged as a classic. And yet any time it’s examined as a key piece of cinematic history, an inevitable phrase appears: “the movie [insert text here] inspiring the 1980s slasher movie explosion.” Why the bracketed section? Because, depending on your source, Halloween is either [credited with] or [blamed for] said explosion. And the critics of my childhood most definitely went with option two.

. . . Which didn’t stop those slasher flicks from dominating my youthful (and so often thwarted) movie-viewing ambitions.

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